Keeping up with the FITs, 6/4
Heather Heying on the Sex Binary; Robert Wright and Jonathan Haidt; Noah Smith on ESG; William Voegeli on Republican Politics; Noah Smith and Katherine Boyle; Kling on Sellgren podcast
The fact that a whole lot of pseudo-scientific publications seem to think that sex is not binary reveals the fact that humanity is in quite a lot of trouble. As Ricky Gervais says in his most recent stand-up special, nobody tweeted “Women don’t have penises” ten years ago, because it would have been an insane thing to say. It was too obvious. Everybody knew this. And here’s the thing: Everybody still knows this. Women don’t have penises. Men can’t get pregnant. Men and women are different, and even though many of the roles that we have historically been slotted into are archaic now, men and women are still different.
She will have an essay in a forthcoming compilation by many of the usual anti-Woke suspects.
Robert Wright talks with Jonathan Haidt. Around minute 17, Haidt points out that while cable TV helped bring about fragmentation and polarization, it did not create the climate of personal fear of the mob that people have with social media. Around minute 46, Haidt says he does not think we will ever have in America the kind of common culture that we had in the middle of the 20th century. The challenge will be to hold our society together without a common culture. Hmmmm.
Haidt thinks that young progressives do not understand how much better things are on the race front in this country than they were 60 years ago. By that he means that progressives have gotten a lot of the policies that they wanted. Whether that is “better” is the question.
Blacks are no longer treated as inferior at drinking fountains and other public accommodations in the South. That’s a step forward. But much of our education system treats them as inferior by not asking them to perform up to standards. That’s a step backward. And among both whites and blacks, substance abuse and broken homes are more prevalent than they were 60 years ago.
ESG seems like the investor class trying to reshape our society to fit its own vision of what that society should look like. The more things get included in the list of ESG considerations, and the more that affects corporate behavior, the more investors’ social preferences become reflected in our day-to-day social relations. And remember, most of the stocks in the U.S. are owned by rich people. That instinctively feels like a vision of dystopian capitalism.
Dystopian indeed. I keep saying that profit-seeking businesses are accountable to customers. ESG says to take that away and instead make corporations operate more like non-profits, accountable to their rich patrons. See how that works out.
Former House Speaker Paul Ryan’s various roadmaps to make our welfare state smartly targeted and solvent had every element needed for success, except popular support. The fact that nobody can figure out the political problem of winning an election by making entitlement programs sustainable does not, however, mean that America’s grave long-term fiscal problem will conveniently solve itself.
He blames Mr. Trump for the loss of the Senate races in Georgia.
every Biden proposal approved by Congress and deplored by conservatives—every executive branch appointment and policy decision rendered by those officials, every judicial appointment and ruling delivered by those jurists over the next 40 years, every spending increase crammed into a reconciliation bill—could have been prevented or mitigated if Trump had displayed a modicum of responsibility, restraint, and intelligence. What are we trying to conserve? Well, significantly less now than there would have been but for Trump’s signature blend of solipsism and nihilism.
It is noteworthy that an article in the Claremont Review of Books is kinder to Paul Ryan than to Donald Trump.
For the last 30 years, we’ve been sold a government-subsidized middle-class dream—on both sides of the aisle by well-meaning people—that your worth in American society was predicated on taking on seemingly cheap government debt to get a four-year college degree. College was the universal marker of status and the people who would have gone into machining or manufacturing jobs were implicitly told that a sociology degree from Middle-State U. was the answer to all their problems. This was wrong. This meme—and we should call it what it was, which is a government-sponsored meme—led to the decades-long labor shortage in manufacturing and adjacent industries that is also now permeating our physical world.
On Juliette Sellgren’s podcast, I talk about various issues. At minute 20, I say how I would fix Twitter. Recommended, at 1.25x speed.