In loco parentis

Adrien Chen misses the point:

Don’t pick on 11 year-old girls. Seriously. No matter how dumb they seem—no matter how much they might seem to deserve it—they are, at the end of the day, 11 year-old girls.

They are, that much is true. But what Mr. Chen appears to have forgotten is that 11 year-old girls eventually become 21 year-old women. And if they’re not smacked around when they first start copping an attitude, talking trash to strangers about their superiority, and threatening those who fail to acknowledge it with lethal violence, they are probably going to get more than just their feelings hurt one day.

Boys usually learn not to talk too much trash at a young age because one of their peers will eventually punch them in the mouth. Girls who are permitted to do so never learn to stop, which eventually tends to lead to negative consequences in various forms. In cyberslapping around that ridiculous 11 year-old girl, /b/ was actually providing her and many other young girls with a useful object lesson, namely, DON’T BEHAVE LIKE THAT OR YOU WILL REGRET IT. It is ironic, to be sure, but they were acting as better parents to her than her own idiot pair by teaching her a very important lesson: Discipline yourself or a cruel and uncaring world will discipline you.

Anyhow, the whole episode was well worth it simply for bringing us the epic phrase “Consequences will never be the same!” July has certainly been a most excellent month for linguistic progress.

Suicide of the liberal society

In light of the recent Supreme Court decision on Christian Legal Society v. Martinez, Stanley Fish considers the question of whether religion should be given special status in a liberal society or not. And his correct conclusion is precisely why it is foolish for secularists to celebrate what is little more than a step towards secular self-destruction:

The dilemma is sharpened and even rendered poignant by the fact that liberalism very much wants to believe that it is being fair to religion, but what it calls fairness amounts to cutting religion down to liberal size…. What it goes to show is that the conflict between the liberal state, with its devotion to procedural rather than substantive norms, and religion, which is all substance from its doctrines to its procedures, is intractable. In his “Political Liberalism,” John Rawls asks how democracy’s aspiration for “a just and stable society of free and equal citizens” can be squared with the fact that some of those citizens hold beliefs that are exclusionary; how can they receive equal treatment if they deny it to others?

What the modern secularists tend to forget is that the reason religion was historically granted a special place in society is due to its incredible power, which only the historically illiterate secularist will ignore. The idea behind enshrining the freedom of religious expression into the Constitution was to avoid the sort of power struggles between Church and Church or Church and State that tended to tear society apart. But misconceived confidence in the idea of linear progress through science and technology to a sexy, science fiction secular utopia, in addition to the judicially-dictated transformation from freedom of religion to freedom from religion, is setting the stage for a return of the very problems that the earlier form of American liberal society was constructed to avoid. This is short-sighted, because the easily demonstrated fact of the matter is that religion is far hardier and far more difficult to destroy than liberal society. The logic is simple. If there is no longer room for religion in liberal society, then liberal society will eventually be destroyed like every other force that has tried to oppose religion… assuming it doesn’t collapse of its metastasizing contradictions first.

Disrespecting strong, independent women

No doubt this patriarchal oppressor got what he deserved for preventing a bold woman warrior from wreaking righteous female fury on a fellow patriarch. Would-be white knights should keep in mind that they are not only risking serious personal injury for a strange woman, but there’s a very good chance she won’t even be grateful.

“I just simply say, ‘Dude, that’s enough,’ [thinking] maybe he’ll back off,” Skripka said. “He got in my face. I didn’t flinch. I said, ‘Dude, back off,’ pardon my French but that’s the words I used. Then I finally said, ‘Dude, what’s your problem?’ The next thing I know is I’m waking up on a gurney. I was knocked out cold.”

In addition to the cuts and bruises, he also suffered a concussion….

“I suppose I got more engaged than I should have,” said Skripka, who was released from the hospital Monday afternoon. “I just wanted to do the right thing. If it was my sister or my friend getting assaulted, I’m going to do what I can. All he had to do was stop, all he had to do was stop assaulting her,” said Skripka, who has had his own brushes with the law, the most recent a burglary charge in 2008 from Dakota County. “Just walk away from the situation, cool off. I don’t know why he had to continue and then turn on somebody else.”

Yes, and all you had to do was mind your own business and walk away from a situation that didn’t concern you in any way. The guy didn’t just turn on somebody else, Skripa chose to interfere with him. Now, Skripa may have wanted to do the right thing, but he nevertheless did the wrong thing. Now I agree, if it was my sister or female friend getting assaulted, I’m going to do what I can too. I would do the same for my brother or male friend. But a random woman on the street who is just as likely to be the instigator of the violence as the victim is neither my sister nor my friend. And more importantly, doing what one can is not limited to posturing and verbal bravado.

As I previously advised, you should never intervene in a violent domestic quarrel or even petty crime unless it is clear that potentially lethal violence is merited. A woman isn’t likely to be severely injured by getting pushed or slapped or punched, so you can’t justify stepping in unless and until there are obvious indications that the man actually intends to inflict serious and potentially fatal harm. As the foolish Mr. Skripka discovered, even men who get physical with women are usually holding quite a bit back; a man who is dumb enough to white knight in these situations is simply offering an already angry and violent man a target upon which he can fully unleash the force he is still partially controlling.

Basically, unless what you’re seeing definitely merits putting someone in the hospital or the morgue and would be considered justifiable in a court of law, let it pass. Based on the statistics, half the time the woman attacked first and deserves the beating anyhow.

Why I am not an economist

“The development of a profession of economists is an offshoot of interventionism. The professional economist is the specialist who is instrumental in designing various measures of government interference with business.”
– Ludwig von Mises, Human Action

In other words, if you want to understand what’s actually happening as opposed to learning the latest justifications for more government intervention, you would be wise to find yourself an informed amateur. It wasn’t as if Smith, Ricardo, or Marx had any professional credentials, after all. And consider, for example, that Bruce Bartlett is the first professional economist to finally reach the conclusion that I have been telling everyone for literally years: there is nothing that either the government or the central banks can do to “fix” the financial crisis or the economic contraction.

For the last three weeks, my Fiscal Times columns have been focusing on Fed policy. The main reason is that although I think there is scope for additional fiscal stimulus, there is simply no support in Congress for doing more than has been done. Like it or not, those favoring stimulus got one bite at the apple and they didn’t do enough….

That basically leaves two things that the Fed can do: buy longer term securities and buy very unconventional assets such foreign currency denominated bonds. The first it has already done some of without doing much to get money circulating. The second would put the Fed at war with the Treasury, which jealously guards its dominion over exchange rate policy. It will also raise holy hell with the “strong dollar” crowd and undoubtedly invite foreign retaliation. It’s even possible that China could effectively sterilize the intervention by soaking up all the dollars created by the Fed.

Thus it appears that there is virtually nothing that can be done to stimulate the economy. For various reasons—political, institutional and substantive—there is no prospect of either fiscal or monetary stimulus.

More importantly, it wouldn’t work anyhow! Bartlett, who is correct in discerning that there is no realistic political chance for more fiscal stimulus even though he is incorrect to think it could possibly help, calls for “new thinking” on stimulus. I’d be happier if they’d all just throw up their hands in despair, admit that they have no idea what they’re doing, and stop digging the damn hole deeper.