Links to Consider, 5/16
Freddie DeBoer interview; Cashless Society Watch; Jason Manning on Human Dignity; Razib Khan and Lillian Tara; Helen Dale on post-liberalism
YouTube of the discussion yesterday with Freddie DeBoer. We mostly discussed his views on mental health policy. “Deinstitutionalization was the most consequential policy of the last half of the twentieth century that nobody knows about.” He sees the hostility toward mental institutions as causing great harm. He argued that if you require severely psychotic individuals to obtain treatment, often they will be much better off. Audio of the discussion below:
Reverse ATMs — also known as cash-to-card kiosks — are quickly being installed in all manner of venues that want to go cashless without flouting the law or turning away the "unbanked," who represent 4.5% of Americans, per the FDIC.
A movie theater or a merchant that does not want to handle cash will point cash users to a kiosk that takes bills and outputs a stored-value card.
People without bank accounts have been adapting to mobile payment apps, which could mean that reverse ATMs are a bridge technology — or one that will soon be used to load a digital wallet.
Pointer from Tyler Cowen. See my Monetary Theory for a Cashless Society and Payment in Cashless Society.
In an honor culture, different sorts of wrongdoing — lying, stealing — might get branded dishonorable, but the core of honor is being brave, bold, and intolerant of disrespect. Being hot-tempered and quick to resort to aggression isn’t a character flaw in an honor culture. A higher level of belligerence and boastfulness is the norm.
Dignified conduct is marked by restraint and self-assurance. To be dignified is, at root, to be confident and secure in one’s intrinsic and inalienable worth, and to respect that of others. One should neither insult others nor overreact when they insult you. Indeed, the person who stoops to insult you is lowering himself, not lowering you.
It occurs to me that Donald Trump fits with an honor culture, not with a dignity culture. That may be what makes his personal charisma difficult to replicate. It is hard for politicians who come from a dignity culture to sound like they come from an honor culture.
American legal tradition mostly guards it with negative liberty, respecting the individual’s autonomy and right to pursue their own ends unhampered by others. But people also make dignity-based arguments to forbid offensive speech, as it fails to respect the dignity of others.
One of my more unusual views is that the old norm of abstaining from the use of four-letter words was a way of respecting the dignity of those around you. It was a way of telling others that you would behave toward them with restraint. Promiscuous use of four-letter words erases a boundary. If I deny you the right not to have to hear cursing, then that raises the possibility that I may deny you other rights. When I overhear teenagers using four-letter words, I think of them as undermining one another’s dignity.
Razib Khan interviews Lillian Tara about pro-natalism. He does a great job of using Devil’s Advocate questions to bring out her thoughts. One of her points is that women need to realize how rapidly fertility declines starting in their late 20s. She is such a refreshing contrast to the stereotypical Zoomer.
There is now a considerable amount of evidence that globalisation has acted as a universal solvent. That is, it’s made us more prosperous but also stripped working-class men in particular of both income and dignity. Where post-liberals make policy proposals in response to this, however, they often take the form of a return to the 70s—industrial policy, strong labour unions, and protectionism.
This forgets that one of the reasons why free market liberals won so many arguments in the 1980s was precisely because industrial policy, strong labour unions, and protectionism not only tanked the UK economy but meant the things we manufactured were often—not to put too fine a point on it—shit.
The Natcons and Michael Lind types seem to want to go back to the days that predate 1980s deregulation. Not me.
Substacks referenced above:
It is certainly a minority viewpoint in today’s western society to refrain from using profanity. From where I stand it seems that the widespread, habitual use of vulgar speech not only signals complete disrespect for others but also a kind of indolence towards language in general. Apparently, many people are too lazy to employ more imaginative language so the fallback is gutter-talk. And it is proliferated by the example of many who are famous celebrities, sports figures, etc.
The view of Trump as coming from an honor culture is very much in line with Albion's Seed. His base is concentrated among the Borderers, perhaps the most famous and extreme honor culture in America, and his political idol (to the extent he has any idols other than himself!) is the brawling, tetchy Borderer Andrew Jackson.