URLs du Jour


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  • And compliance, J.D.. Don't forget compliance. J.D. Tuccille notes that water is wet, and (in case you haven't noticed) Universities Are Teaching Intolerance.

    Do colleges and universities educate or indoctrinate? That question has been a sure-fire way to start an argument for many years as the cost of higher education escalates even as data shows elite institutions becoming increasingly ideologically monolithic and intolerant of dissent. Whether or not traditional higher education equips graduates for the working world, it doesn't seem to be preparing them for life in an open and diverse society.

    "Our results indicate that higher education liberalizes moral concerns for most students, but it also departs from the standard liberal profile by promoting moral absolutism rather than relativism," write the University of Toronto's Milos Brocic and Andrew Miles in a recent paper published in American Sociological Review.

    To play that broken record one more time, the UNH Lecturers United are still apparently United in their insistence that their job is to "foster belief" in the University's official theology of "Anti-Racism".

  • An evergreen headline. Christian Britschgi reports the latest from an actual monopoly: USPS Implements New Business Plan of Higher Prices and Worse Service.

    Beginning this month, the United States Postal Service (USPS) is implementing "new" service standards and prices. That is to say, costs are going up and delivery times are getting longer.

    In the halcyon days of September 2021, the postal service had promised to get all first-class mail and periodicals sent within the lower 48 states to their destinations in three days.

    That three-day guarantee will be replaced by new distance-based standards. Mail traveling upwards of 930 miles will now be considered on time if it gets to its intended recipient within four days. Anything sent to destinations over 1,907 miles away will now have a five-day delivery target.

    I like my local USPS personnel just fine. But (along with newspaper delivery) their performance is getting worse and worse over time.

  • Hain’t we got all the fools in town on our side? And ain’t that a big enough majority in any town? Jonah Goldberg writes on Ratifying the Idiocracy. Long, insightful, but the bit I want to excerpt is about Little Marco Rubio:

    “The $3.5 trillion Biden plan isn’t socialism, it’s [M]arxism,” the Florida senator declared yesterday. Rubio spelled “Marxism” with a lowercase “M.” I know that sort of thing is allowed on Twitter. Indeed, trolling “elites” into correcting usage and grammar is now a time-honored tactic. “Haw, haw! You care about grammar!”


    Regardless, I think Rubio’s trolling is a shame—and shameful—for a bunch of reasons. First, I’m just sick of politicians, on the left and right, thinking this sort of thing is a clever, legitimate or worthwhile use of their platforms. Second, there’s a problem with calling stuff you disagree with “socialism” or “Marxism.” And the problem isn’t just the lack of accuracy or honesty. Lots of stuff Democrats want to do is popular. If you tell people that, say, 12 weeks of paid parental leave is “socialism,” a lot of people will respond by saying, “More socialism, please.” If you think paid parental leave is bad—or good, but too expensive, or not the role of the federal government to mandate—it’s better to make the argument than to simply use a word to anathematize stuff without making the argument. Demonizing labels work only among people who already buy into your definition of the demonic.

    Finally, Rubio knows better. He is among the best critics of what he regularly dubs “the Marxist Cuban regime.” If he convinces people that the grab bag of entitlements and welfare state giveaways in the Biden plan is “Marxist,” he’s not only undermining his indictment of Cuba, he’s actually making in a roundabout way the left’s argument in defense of Cuba. For a lot of leftists, Cuba is just an enlightened regime that takes care of its people. They’re wrong. But Rubio does his cause no favors by blurring the distinctions between an actual Marxist regime and a bloated spending spree.

    I'm pulling for Nikki Haley. Because I haven't noticed her saying anything this stupid lately. (Could be because I'm not paying attention, but…)

  • Mercy, mercy me. Alan Jacobs makes a good point about all the "screw the unvaccinated" folks: Christians and the biopolitical. He is discussing the views of Matthew Loftus.

    Responding to claims by some doctors that we should ration Covid care to favor the vaccinated and disfavor the unvaccinated, Loftus, himself a physician, says,

    I think it is a matter of justice not to ration care away from the unvaccinated, because to do so, I think, is to pass a judgment on someone’s other personal health decisions that we would never apply in any other case. All health care is a mixture of trying to provide justice while also being merciful to others. It’s impossible to be a good health-care worker and not be willing to be merciful with people who, quite frankly, got themselves into the trouble that they’re in and had many opportunities not to do so. But it’s also a matter of justice in giving that person what they need to survive or, if not to survive, to die in a way that honors the person they are. 

    Loftus is pointing here to a version of what Scott Alexander, in one of the more useful ethical essays I have read in the past decade, calls “isolated demands for rigor.” When doctors treat people for health problems that arise from obesity, they don’t withhold care until they learn whether those people have some kind of genetic predisposition to obesity or are fat because they eat at McDonald’s every day — they just treat the patients. Oncologists don’t give better treatment to lung cancer patients who smoke less or don’t smoke at all. We only think to subject the unvaccinated-against-Covid to that kind of strict scrutiny because the discourse around Covid has become so pathologically tribalized and moralized. 

    But Christians in particular have a very strong reason not to employ such strict scrutiny: We believe in a God who sought out and saved “people who, quite frankly, got themselves into the trouble that they’re in.” In an earlier reflection on this general subject, I mentioned Eve Tushnet’s wise comment that “mercy to the guilty is the only kind of mercy there is.” The rationing of medical care away from the unvaccinated is structural mercilessness. It is anti-shalom

    That linked essay from Scott Alexander is pretty good too.

    And despite my very weak Christianity, I was all ready to sign up. You don't have to be Christian to recognize the value of mercy.

    But then I read…

  • Sometimes, it turns out the quality of mercy is strained. Daniel J. Mitchell on a Biden Administration policy shift: Curtailing Destructive Subsidies for Flood Insurance. Quoting a WaPo story:

    …8 million Americans…moved to counties along the U.S. coast between 2000 and 2017, lured by the sun, the sea and heavily subsidized government flood insurance that made the cost of protecting their homes much less expensive, despite the risk of living in a flood zone near a vast body of water. …the Federal Emergency Management Agency will incorporate climate risk into the cost of flood insurance for the first time, dramatically increasing the price for some new home buyers.

    Next April, most current policyholders will see their premiums go up and continue to rise by 18 percent per year for the next 20 years. …wealthy customers with high-value homes will see their costs skyrocket by as much as $14,400 for one year. About 3,200 property owners — mostly in Florida, Texas, New Jersey and New York — fall in that category. …Homeowners in inland states such as Iowa, Missouri and Nebraska, where creeks, streams and rivers overflow during heavy rains, will also see price increases in their government-backed flood insurance. …“It is now going to say if you’re in a risky place, you’re going to get charged more for it, and other people aren’t footing the bill,” VinZant said. …As of last year, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) run by FEMA was $20 billion in debt from massive payouts to customers.

    I'm with Dan here. Even discounting the class-warfare aspect. ("Let's screw those rich folks with beachfront property!")

    But am I guilty of an "isolated demand for rigor"? Perhaps. I've been steeped in a nearly-unquestioned anti-market view of healthcare. Roughly, everyone should have "access" regardless of their ability to pay; everyone should be "covered". And no moral approbation for unhealthy lifestyles or risky decisions should affect those egalitarian views.

    But how is that different for people choosing to own property in risky locations? Shouldn't they have the same "coverage" as people living in safer places?

    Hm. Work on your answer. I'll think on mine.

Last Modified 2021-10-04 5:14 AM EST