Friday Highlights

Good morning.

  1. The net and democracy.
  2. Rembrandt re-invention of Western iconography of Christ.
  3. Predators.
  4. Oil production, two states compared.
  5. Speaking of which, when rich people keep harping on how it’d be such a wonderful thing to push gas prices higher … seems to me they should just stay locked in that ivory tower of theirs.
  6. That GM bailout thang
  7. Single sex dormatories in colleges.
  8. Obamacare big or little change in US healthcare?
  9. Somebody on the left defends Chomksy’s stupidity
  10. An interesting programing language noted.
  11. Dungeons and Dragons, as practiced in the 19th century.
  12. Looking at Rand and her ontology.
  13. Art, doing it right.
  14. Mileage and gas prices. Oddly enough, it is knicknamed in our household “the scooter”.
  15. Do you or don’t you trust the government to keep their hands of your Roth? Put me in the “don’t” category.

45 Responses to Friday Highlights

  1. Single sex dormatories in colleges.

    I hate when moralizers pretend to be concerned with statistics and health. I’d bet a hundred bucks that Kaczor thinks that coed dorms, casual (and probably premarital non-casual) sex, and binge drinking are inherently immoral and all the rest is rationalizing.

    Just ponder the dishonesty of the sentence “Especially for women, hooking up is related to depression, which can damage academic success.” The phrase “Is related to” intentionally makes ambiguous the direction of causation and the phrase “which can damage academic success” is thrown in as if author would support hooking up if it were shown to improve academic success. (Perfect example of a “cosmetic argument.”)

    Just be honest about your moralizing.

    Somebody on the left defends Chomksy’s stupidity.

    Actually, he explicitly says that both aspects of the stupidity in question from Chomsky were wrong. Explicitly. He’s not even defending Chomsky so much as pointing out that “Brett Stephens is apparently part of the editorial stable of right-wing know-nothings and smear merchants at the Wall Street Journal.”

  2. JA,

    I hate when moralizers pretend to be concerned with statistics and health.

    That’s not what’s going on (and I’ll bet you know it). Look when you want to make a point with someone who doesn’t share your premises, you have to couch that argument within their premises because your reasons won’t matter to them. I’d bet that Kaczor is not a consequentialist. But he poses a consequentialist argument because he figures that a consequentialists argument will have some traction with others (his virtue ethics crowd).

    It’s not about honesty.

  3. You’re pretty much saying the same thing I said with a more positive spin.

    Here’s the deal. If the consequentialist argument were convincing, consequentialists would already be on board. You think a moralist is going to come up with a better consequentialist argument than the consequentialists? No, he’s going to be sloppier and blatantly biased because he’s not a real consequentialist, and it’s completely transparent to the consequentialist.

    Trying to rebrand a moral argument as a consequentialist one is almost never going to work, and it’s kind of insulting to boot.

  4. Agreed, the guy isn’t even defending Chomsky as much as he seems to be belittling the WSJ writer’s ignorance.

  5. 5.Speaking of which, when rich people keep harping on how it’d be such a wonderful thing to push gas prices higher … seems to me they should just stay locked in that ivory tower of theirs.

    So freaking stupid. Subsidies to oil companies do absolutely nothing to lower gas prices. I gurantee you if tomorrow all subsidies and tax breaks for oil companies were eliminated, gas prices wouldn’t raise a single penny because of it.

  6. Boonton,
    On #5. Bullcrap. Corporate taxes can do nothing but be passed on the customer. Prices are set by a company estimating or calculating costs, adding a margin (profit), and from that the sum is the price. Taxes a a cost … which directly impact price. Higher taxes -> higher costs and higher prices. Because that is true, the converse must be true as well. Your claim that it is not is just BS.

  7. OK let’s view things from two extremes:

    Pure competition – millions of firms, each one so tiny that each one has no ability at all to impact prices, they must simply take whatever the price is of the good from the market.

    Pure monopoly – One firm has the entire supply curve to itself. It decides what the price will be and will sell to whatever the demand curve is at that point.

    When you put a tax on purely competitive firms, the tax passes thru directly to the consumer. It has no where else to go as purely competitive firms have no other way to pay the tax. They cannot tap profits since they have no economic profits. They cannot raise the price on their own but since every individual must pay the same tax, the tax goes up all at once. An example of this is retail tobacco.

    Pure monopoly is the exact opposite, though. The monopolist sets the price where marginal revenue equals marginal cost and that’s it. A tax can only be paid out of the monopolist’s pocket, he has already set the price to max. revenue! By ‘owning the supply curve’ he can’t pass on anything. Hence if you Google it, you’ll notice quite a few arguments in favor of an oil tax. The reason: To the degree that OPEC is a monpoly, such a tax is paid purely by them and no one else.

    Oil is not a monopoly but it’s much closer to it than pure compeition and we aren’t talking abou taxes on oil but normal taxes on oil businesses. But if you doubt me then why not go full hog? Why not propose giving Exxon and Mobile a flat $300B a year? After all wouldn’t that make gas prices go down?

  8. Hmmm, we put in $40B, already got back $20B by selling a chunck of share sin the IPO. Of the remaining $20B, we need the share price to be $55 to break even, it’s $31 at the moment. So sit and wait (and there’s no particular reason not to wait, ten, twenty years who cares?) In the meantime, we prevented the loss of thousands of jobs not only at GM but related parts suppliers as well as the collatoral losses that would have come with that, by itself that probably would offset the hypothetical $9B loss (if we insisted on selling everything now) by at least several billions in food stamps, unemployment, welfare, yet more home foreclosures etc.

    Even more interesting, aside from the GM thing, TARP has either already broken even or generated a profit.

  9. Boonton,
    “Sit and wait 10-20 years, whatever” … do you need some lessons on the present and future value of monies? You seemed to miss the $14b(!) tax break (did Ford and other competing car companies get similar break) … or that perhaps the break up/failure of Chrysler and GM would have been an opportunity not a loss for those suppliers and workers as a missed chance for deregulation and an market opportunity for thousands of smaller micro-car companies to start up and make new cars.

  10. Boonton,

    Oil is not a monopoly but it’s much closer to it than pure compeition and we aren’t talking abou taxes on oil but normal taxes on oil businesses. But if you doubt me then why not go full hog? Why not propose giving Exxon and Mobile a flat $300B a year? After all wouldn’t that make gas prices go down?

    Let’s see. Your model has the “million” firm case, the small number (about a dozen) firm case (oil), and the monopoly.

    In all three cases a targeted grant (or tax break) to a single firm would in the case of the two non-monopoly case would result in that firm putting its prices just below the market price that other firms could manage to achieve. That way it could maximize both its market share and its profit.

    In the case of an industry wide grant, both the first two (competitive) would have similar results, namely virtually the entire grant would be reflected in lower prices to the consumer.

    An absolute monopoly on the other hand is not pressured at all by market forces so there would be no obvious effect on price.

    So. You shouldn’t give Exxon/Mobil a tax break without giving a similar break to BP, Shell, Texaco, and so on. If you gave an industry wide break, then you’d have that reflected in prices.

  11. JA,

    You’re pretty much saying the same thing I said with a more positive spin

    You’re the empathy-as-meta-ethics guy. Why wouldn’t giving a positive spin not be the default approach?

    No, he’s going to be sloppier and blatantly biased because he’s not a real consequentialist, and it’s completely transparent to the consequentialist.

    Not necessarily. Take for example your reaction to my suggestion that H/S cultures were happier than Individualistic ones based on suicide/depression statistics. You rejected that flat out without even giving it the time of day. The point is that people who approach via your methods but without sharing your assumptions are going to look at the issue with new eyes. Like that case, it might expose you to other data sets that, given your assumptions, you never examined. Or, perhaps your support of individualistic Western society is not consequential at all, that your consequentialism is just cosmetic.

    Trying to rebrand a moral argument as a consequentialist one is almost never going to work, and it’s kind of insulting to boot.

    I see. By that measure, trying to discuss anything across meta-ethical boundaries is “insulting” and will “never work.” Well, we can toss your whole “openness” claim (which I doubted in the first place) right out the door. Why pretend?

  12. JA,
    Oh, and are you really arguing that binge drinking is a good thing and not personally harmful?

  13. workers as a missed chance for deregulation and an market opportunity for thousands of smaller micro-car companies to start up and make new cars.

    The existence of a large company in a market doesn’t prevent the start up of micro companies. IBM was not broken up by the gov’t, that didn’t stop Microsoft and Apple.

    Sit and wait 10-20 years, whatever” … do you need some lessons on the present and future value of monies?

    In a near zero interest rate environment the present values all fall towards the absolute. Anyway if stock returns continue to track higher than inflation or gov’t interest rates you still get a gain.

    In all three cases a targeted grant (or tax break) to a single firm would in the case of the two non-monopoly case would result in that firm putting its prices just below the market price that other firms could manage to achieve. That way it could maximize both its market share and its profit.

    No in a monopoly or near monopoly the firm facts the entire market demand curve and its marginal revenue curve is a curve right under it. Prices are set where marginal revenue equals marginal costs and that’s it. Whatever costs the firm faces can’t be passed onto the consumer, it’s literally impossible. If the firm tries to raise prices they will, by definition, loose revenue (after all, marginal revenues equal marginal costs, raise prices and the lost sales will exceed the gains from the increased prices, lower prices and the lower price will offset the increased sales).

    So. You shouldn’t give Exxon/Mobil a tax break without giving a similar break to BP, Shell, Texaco, and so on. If you gave an industry wide break, then you’d have that reflected in prices

    Such a break will go right to the bottom line of the individual companies and not impact the price of gas in the slightest.

  14. You’re the empathy-as-meta-ethics guy. Why wouldn’t giving a positive spin not be the default approach?

    I’m also the truth-no-matter-how-ugly guy.

    Not necessarily. Take for example your reaction to my suggestion that H/S cultures were happier than Individualistic ones based on suicide/depression statistics. You rejected that flat out without even giving it the time of day.

    Not at all. I just don’t think that (1) suicide/depression is a great metric or (2) that H/S component is necessarily the active ingredient (as opposed to lifestyle, community, etc.)

    The point is that people who approach via your methods but without sharing your assumptions are going to look at the issue with new eyes. Like that case, it might expose you to other data sets that, given your assumptions, you never examined. Or, perhaps your support of individualistic Western society is not consequential at all, that your consequentialism is just cosmetic.

    I’m all for questioning assumptions. I don’t think this has anything to do with that, though. This is about trying to reach the conclusion your assumptions led you to while pretending not to rely on those assumptions.

    I see. By that measure, trying to discuss anything across meta-ethical boundaries is “insulting” and will “never work.”

    No, not at all. You just have to be more genuine (and just do a better job as well) about it.

    Well, we can toss your whole “openness” claim (which I doubted in the first place) right out the door. Why pretend?

    Open means you’ll consider anything with a fair and open mind. It doesn’t mean you’ll accept anything you consider.

    Oh, and are you really arguing that binge drinking is a good thing and not personally harmful?

    Nope, never said it, don’t believe it. (Well, I’m okay with getting drunk sometimes, so I guess it depends on your definition of binge drinking.) I just don’t think that segregating dorms by sex is a good way to combat it, even if there’s a slight statistical correlation. Be more direct. Lower the drinking age to get drinking out of the shadows, educate well about safe consumption levels and the signs of poisoning, make it clear that calling for medical help/rides/whatever won’t lead to punishment, offer better treatment options for addicts, etc., etc. Study what works, how you can get the most bang for your buck. I doubt segregated dorms will rank in the top ten. (If it does, then we can talk about it.)

  15. Take for example your reaction to my suggestion that H/S cultures were happier than Individualistic ones based on suicide/depression statistics.

    Right off the bat, how do you account for the fact that reporting depression is probably shameful in a H/S culture? Even depression screening is likely to be suspect. Statistics are not granted a presumption that they mean anything real, they must be proven to do so.

  16. Interestingly suicide appears higher in Japan and some other ‘shame cultures’ than non-shame ones (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shame_society), so it’s not like we can say suicide works as a proxy variable to detect depression that people might be unwilling to report to a doctor.

  17. Boonton,

    Such a break will go right to the bottom line of the individual companies and not impact the price of gas in the slightest.

    You keep saying that without a shred of evidence. You’d be quick to point that any tax increase would go to gas prices. Why you don’t think competition is in effect with a dozen or more companies at play, I think in a large our disagreement is over whether an oil company holds a monopoly. No one company holds a monopoly. Right? Do you think they collude to fix prices?

    In a near zero interest rate environment the present values all fall towards the absolute. Anyway if stock returns continue to track higher than inflation or gov’t interest rates you still get a gain.

    The government is not borrowing at zero interest. You have investment channels which are not zero interest. You can’t wait forever (and zero interest rates won’t last forever).

    The existence of a large company in a market doesn’t prevent the start up of micro companies. IBM was not broken up by the gov’t, that didn’t stop Microsoft and Apple.

    So? that’s not the point. The point is a large market void will open opportunities for lots of small companies. Furthermore the absence of large companies with a lot of beltway influence might break up their regulation-as-competition-damper.

    No in a monopoly or near monopoly the firm facts the entire market demand ….

    I’m not quite parsing what your saying here. Shell or Exxon/Mobil do not hold a monopoly.

  18. Boonton,
    First, I didn’t get the statistic and glean this conclusion on my own.

    Japan is an unusual example. Suicide is seen historically in a different light than the west.

    If depression is less reported, then you look to suicide (factoring for societies that consider suicide honorable).

    JA,

    I just don’t think that (1) suicide/depression is a great metric

    Yes. I got that in the last time. You just didn’t have any backup or reason for making that claim. I offered some narrative evidence to the contrary, which you ignored. And yes, I agree H/S vs individualistic is not the only factor, so what? I never claimed it was the only factor. Ultimately, my temporary premise was that H/S supported happiness better than W/I (Western/Individual) but that W/I promoted economic growth far better. The question was can we conceive and move to a H/S society that also encourages growth?

  19. JA,

    I’m also the truth-no-matter-how-ugly guy

    Well, in that case you where the ugly-because-its-ugly guy. Truth as ugly doesn’t mean your default reaction should be to demonize the other side.

    I’m all for questioning assumptions. I don’t think this has anything to do with that, though. This is about trying to reach the conclusion your assumptions led you to while pretending not to rely on those assumptions.

    Yes. And, as I pointed out, that’s not what’s going on at all.

    No, not at all. You just have to be more genuine (and just do a better job as well) about it.

    Huh? Look the means of communication and reaching across meta-ethical boundaries by using what you perceive as inconsistencies in the other guys arguments is common and a well respected technique. It does not good for you to pretend it’s “cosmetic” and therefore off limits. You do it yourself. For example, pointing to Scriptural evidence which might counter a persons stance. You’re not pretending the Scriptural reference is a “cosmetic” argument of yours. You’re pointing to what you see as a weakness in the persons own use of his meta-ethic.

    On binge drinking, I cited a Montana Catholic college a few days ago. I bet binge drinking is really quite low there, especially as compared to a middle of the road party school. They have single sex dorms (I think that’s safe to say without looking) and their methods work. Do you want to talk about making their virtue ethics based collegiate framing of the dorm experience more universally accepted?

  20. You just didn’t have any backup or reason for making that claim.

    Sure I did. Depression is not the opposite of happiness, it’s a mental illness.

    And yes, I agree H/S vs individualistic is not the only factor, so what? I never claimed it was the only factor.

    I’m saying it may not even be a significant factor. I think Boonton’s counterexample of Japan is a good one.

    Ultimately, my temporary premise was that H/S supported happiness better than W/I (Western/Individual) but that W/I promoted economic growth far better. The question was can we conceive and move to a H/S society that also encourages growth?

    And my suggestion is to identify the parts that help, if any, which are probably not the H/S part. E.g. diet, exercise, community, etc.

    Well, in that case you where the ugly-because-its-ugly guy. Truth as ugly doesn’t mean your default reaction should be to demonize the other side.

    Come on, I didn’t demonize the guy, I just said his argument was dishonest.

    Huh? Look the means of communication and reaching across meta-ethical boundaries by using what you perceive as inconsistencies in the other guys arguments is common and a well respected technique. It does not good for you to pretend it’s “cosmetic” and therefore off limits. You do it yourself. For example, pointing to Scriptural evidence which might counter a persons stance. You’re not pretending the Scriptural reference is a “cosmetic” argument of yours. You’re pointing to what you see as a weakness in the persons own use of his meta-ethic.

    Yes, okay, I agree with that, and I admit my original criticism was over the top, but that’s not really what’s going on here. Or if it is, it’s just really, really weak sauce. If you want to make a serious consequentialist argument against mixed-sex dorms, I’m sure there’s an argument to be made. You can marshal real evidence and significant factors and lay them out.

    However, this guy brought at least two arguments which are pretty bad. First, he implied that promiscuity leads to depression (when, if there is a correlation, it’s probably in the other direction) and second, he used this mixed-sex –> binge drinking argument which seems like there must be so many other variables involved.

    On binge drinking, I cited a Montana Catholic college a few days ago. I bet binge drinking is really quite low there, especially as compared to a middle of the road party school. They have single sex dorms (I think that’s safe to say without looking) and their methods work. Do you want to talk about making their virtue ethics based collegiate framing of the dorm experience more universally accepted?

    Ugh, no. What about the costs of their methods? I went to Yeshiva University for a bit and there was little binge drinking there, too (and very little promiscuity, considering it was single-sex.) There was a ton of religious dogma, homophobia, groupthink, and a serious lack of fun, too. At the public school I switched to, some of my dormmates were way too into drugs and drinking for it to be healthy or pleasant to live around, but the only effect it had on me was to interrupt my sleep some nights. I was able to meet a bunch of people I really got along with and was able to branch out of my to-that-point provincial life. I drank occasionally, sometimes to the point of being drunk, but never in a dangerous way.

    Actually, the one time I got dangerously drunk was in yeshiva in Israel on the Jewish holiday of Purim, when I was 17 and we were encouraged to drink and I had no idea how much was safe or whatever. I drank a liter of vodka in an hour or so, which was obviously (knowing what I know now) a bad, bad idea. But that was a single-sex school.

  21. As an example, it’s more than conceivable that having things like universal health care, more progressive taxation, better education, etc. would help more than reinstituting h/s.

  22. Regarding oil companies, here’s a thought experiment. You refinance your house and now you are saving $300 a month on your monthly mortgage expense. At what point does this result in your employer paying you $300 less?

    Suicide, I think the the problem remains a lack of good stats on H/S cultures. As I said, we can’t quite trust rates of reported depression because depression is shameful in H/S cultures therefore we aren’t going to see it. Even in the US, the ‘old school’ mentality resists seeing depression as an illness (NOTE the entire first season of the Sopranos was driven by the drama created by Tony’s decision to see a therapist).

    Using suicide as a proxy for mental illness is problematic. First you’re assuming all suicides are in fact mental illness….that does seem to neglect the fact that there’s also real beliefs and decisions involved. Is a 65 yr old executive who kills himself after being indicted because he would rather his family not be humiliated by a trial the same as a 14 yr old American girl who kills herself because she is having trouble adjusting to high school?

    More interesting in terms of which type of culture is better, we still see more people ‘voting with their feet’ seeking to leave traditional H/S cultures as their level of prosperity increases while we don’t see the reverse as much. This, IMO, lends support to my take on the matter which is that H/S has advantages at high risk, low levels of prosperity that quickly drop off when you move beyond that.

  23. Boonton,

    You refinance your house and now you are saving $300 a month on your monthly mortgage expense. At what point does this result in your employer paying you $300 less?

    It doesn’t … and you aren’t reading my reply. This is the situation closest to the situation where you have many competing entities and one of them only gets a break. That helps the one … but doesn’t change prices. Try again.

    I think people leave H/S cultures for the wealthier individual ones because they think they can have their cake and eat it too, that is reap the benefits of the wealth without losing their cultural H/S identity. They think that “it won’t happen to them” (it being, losing that identity in a generation or so).

    Both of you. Stop it! This is silly. I’m not arguing that we all “convert” somehow to H/S cultural life. The suggestion is that there are trade offs. Both cultures H/S and W/I cultures have positive and negative features. It’s silly to pretend that embracing a W/I culture is all positive and there is no downside. A reputable academic social scientist offered a vanilla comparison for the unwashed (that would be you and me) of the contrasts and differences between our culture and theirs. Why is is so odd to figure that a culture in which alienation is unusual and finding your place and purpose is not hard that this could have advantages for a persons mental well being. Finding a purpose in life is a what so many people lack in W/I cultures … that is found in family life in a H/S culture.

    In general when you are presented with a new idea. A new thesis. You need to set aside your skepticism for a time. Embrace that new idea. Get inside it and figure out how it can work. How it fits together. Only after you’ve finished that exercise and have grokked how that idea works do you do a meta-analysis of how that fits into a wider picture, how its assumptions hold up to outside scrutiny. You guys make it so hard to even discuss these things so often. What I had hoped for at one time regarding the H/S vs W/I discussion was ways of thinking about whether one could imagine a society (say in a fictional or narrative setting for starters) that had some of the advantages of both. The risk taking economic robustness of W/I with the commitment and clan life of the H/S.

    JA,
    Who’s talking about “re-instating” H/S? Huh? How the heck would you go about doing that?

    Come on, I didn’t demonize the guy, I just said his argument was dishonest.

    Yes. And you said my reading of his argument (as not dishonest) was more charitable (and not wrong). Look, the dishonesty your attaching to him is a rhetorical technique you use yourself. Defending your calling that dishonest is not identification of “ugly”. It’s just you being ugly.

    Ugh, no. What about the costs of their methods?

    Costs? I don’t see it. Here is the orginal link. Here’s the site. Look at this quote:

    Yet the wait, the aggravation, and the bitter cold were worth it, for they were part of getting introduced to a new venture in Catholic higher education that’s unfolding in Lander: Wyoming Catholic College, where students read Thomas Aquinas in the original Latin, take a mandatory freshman course in horsemanship, and go on a three-week, survival-skills trek through the Rockies before they crack a book. Oh yes: At Wyoming Catholic, students are not allowed to have cell phones, but the college provides a gun room for their rifles. A visitor from the Ivy League found this combination disconcerting. I found it charming.

    What cost? Seems to me the “serious lack of fun” is not part of this school.

  24. Boonton,
    On the economic thing. Consider the following, in places (counties, states) where housing costs $300 less per month … oddly enough average wages are less too. Even when the employer is the same one that hires workers across regions. They pay workers less in states with a lower cost of living. Imagine that!

  25. It doesn’t … and you aren’t reading my reply. This is the situation closest to the situation where you have many competing entities and one of them only gets a break. That helps the one … but doesn’t change prices. Try again.

    The $300 represents a kind of tax break for people like you. Certainly you didn’t think you’re the only one who has a mortgage did you or the only one that would save by refinancing to a lower rate? Assume for the sake of assuming that people like you save an average of $300…some more, some less.

    H/S

    I think I agreed with you, there are positives and negatives. I think H/S works best in environments that are high risk, low material goods. It doesn’t work so great as you push beyond that. I think HS cultures weaken not only when an individual moves to a W/I culture but also when the HS culture itself improves materially. Japan may still be a HS culture but I guarantee you it’s nothing like it was 100 years ago in terms of HS. Wealth is weakening China’s H/S cultures too IMO.

  26. Both of you. Stop it! This is silly. I’m not arguing that we all “convert” somehow to H/S cultural life.

    OK, but you seem to be suggesting the H/S part itself makes people happier.

    The suggestion is that there are trade offs. Both cultures H/S and W/I cultures have positive and negative features. It’s silly to pretend that embracing a W/I culture is all positive and there is no downside. A reputable academic social scientist offered a vanilla comparison for the unwashed (that would be you and me) of the contrasts and differences between our culture and theirs. Why is is so odd to figure that a culture in which alienation is unusual and finding your place and purpose is not hard that this could have advantages for a persons mental well being. Finding a purpose in life is a what so many people lack in W/I cultures … that is found in family life in a H/S culture.

    Again, I don’t see a reason we can’t have family life, etc. here as well. A lot of the problems here stem from things like the way neighborhoods are zoned, the economy, advertizing, education, health care, etc.

    In general when you are presented with a new idea. A new thesis. You need to set aside your skepticism for a time. Embrace that new idea. Get inside it and figure out how it can work. How it fits together. Only after you’ve finished that exercise and have grokked how that idea works do you do a meta-analysis of how that fits into a wider picture, how its assumptions hold up to outside scrutiny.

    I agree with that, but the idea has to make some sense to start with. You can’t open with a premise like “battered women are happier than feminists” (hyperbole) and expect us to just go along with it for the sake of argument.

    You guys make it so hard to even discuss these things so often. What I had hoped for at one time regarding the H/S vs W/I discussion was ways of thinking about whether one could imagine a society (say in a fictional or narrative setting for starters) that had some of the advantages of both. The risk taking economic robustness of W/I with the commitment and clan life of the H/S.

    I’ve been trying to discuss that on numerous occasions.

    Yes. And you said my reading of his argument (as not dishonest) was more charitable (and not wrong).

    I used the word “spin” which implies not necessarily wrongness, but not really rightness either. Spin is not the same thing as charitable.

    Look, the dishonesty your attaching to him is a rhetorical technique you use yourself. Defending your calling that dishonest is not identification of “ugly”. It’s just you being ugly.

    I’ve backed off somewhat on my original claim, but I maintain he does a horrible job at it.

    What cost? Seems to me the “serious lack of fun” is not part of this school.

    I’m pretty sure I’d want to kill myself if I went to that school. Different strokes.

  27. oddly enough average wages are less too.

    Not so oddly when you consider the marginal product of labor is less too. Yes a PR firm could locate in the middle of North Dakota and hire people at $50,000 a year rather than New York City at $150,000 a year. But the problem is that the added value of the North Dakota PR worker is dramatically less than the added value of the NYC PR person. Hence NYC’s massive financial industry refuses to relocate to ND, despite ND’s great advantages in terms of cheap real estate, low taxes and low wages.

  28. JA,
    I gotta run, and will comment more fully later, but this … I coudn’t pass up

    I’m pretty sure I’d want to kill myself if I went to that school. Different strokes.

    So, what would scare you away, Great books as a schooling method or the guns, outdoors, and horses? (I can’t speak much for myself here as I converted the U of Chicago as into a sort of MIT with Great Books school. I’m pretty sure the hard math/science curricular isn’t out in Wyoming yet.)

  29. No, I’d like the great books. And the guns too, probably. It’s more what I am reading between the lines about the culture. Very traditional, rigid ideas.

    The College is unmistakably Catholic, planted in the deep center of Catholic tradition. The truth sets us free, our Lord says—not only truth discovered by human reason alone, but also and above all revealed Truth, which tells us who we are and who our God is. All spiritual exercises at the College are designed to foster a genuine Catholic environment so that students may graduate with a deeper understanding of their faith and an ability to undertake a life of prayer and devotion. Holy Mass is offered daily. Both the Ordinary and Extraordinary forms of the Roman Rite are celebrated (please see Sacred Liturgy under Student Life). All are celebrated with dignity and beauty, and in the Ordinary form, giving pride of place to Gregorian chant. There are also daily opportunities for Confession and Adoration.

    *shudder* I already did my time in a yeshiva.

  30. JA,
    The striking difference between H/S and W/I cultures is not just cultural but personal. A H/S person is distinguished from one brought up in a W/I culture (like you or I) in that their primary motivation is not for self, but their in-group (family or clan). When you or I are faced with a choice (which school, who to marry, what job to take) our primary thoughts are for how that impacts ones-self not the group.

    My premise to consider is that this has benefits in one’s personal, well, happiness and in that light to consider, as I said, whether the ego-orientation is required for risk taking and growth or not.

  31. Boonton,
    And my premise isn’t “battered women” are better off than feminists. All women in H/S cultures are not, as a rule, being regularly beaten. And you know that.

  32. My premise to consider is that this has benefits in one’s personal, well, happiness and in that light to consider, as I said, whether the ego-orientation is required for risk taking and growth or not.

    Right. And I’m saying that I don’t believe that it has those benefits. I’m open to arguments and evidence, of course.

  33. JA

    It’s more what I am reading between the lines about the culture. Very traditional, rigid ideas.

    Might be surprised, Catholics are a pretty old cuture and pretty old cultures know how to pay lip service to ‘rigidity’ without being too rigid.

    Right. And I’m saying that I don’t believe that it has those benefits. I’m open to arguments and evidence, of course.

    Consider a low level society. A lack of law enforcement and physical security means a great premium on clan solidarity. Likewise lack of birth control means that the cost imposed on everyone else by an inopportune pregnancy is very high. Under these conditions I think an H/S culture does make a certain type of sense. But once you leave that low level, things start to change for real. As you may recall, I think DeLong has a good point about 1870…namely that something happened in 1870 that was fundamantally different from previous times. The rapid development of the industrial revolution cannot simply be analogized to prosperious ancient empires.

  34. Might be surprised, Catholics are a pretty old cuture and pretty old cultures know how to pay lip service to ‘rigidity’ without being too rigid.

    Yeah, maybe, but I doubt it. Many Catholics are liberal and open-minded, but very few Catholic institutions are, as far as I know. Are they homophobic, for example? Sexist?

    And it’s still a school where all students are expected to reach the same conclusions. Or at least conclusions within a range of “acceptable.” To me that undermines the whole enterprise of scholarship and makes it worthless (except insofar as some students will inevitably break out despite the institution’s best efforts.)

    H/S might have had some benefits at some point in history, although I think we have to acknowledge that women were often chattel and slavery and lesser forms of extortion were accepted. (Yes, treating women as chattel probably reduces kids born out of wedlock, but it’s at a pretty heavy price.)

  35. Boonton,
    I don’t think DeLong is barking up the right tree. Yes “something” may have happened. But that something happened took the previous 50 to 120 years to get going and is more like the development of the arch than a social thing.

    JA,
    I’m guessing homophobia (for example) never arises. And they probably aren’t any more sexist than the average American. You also need to confront your own arguments:

    And it’s still a school where all students are expected to reach the same conclusions. Or at least conclusions within a range of “acceptable.”

    Needs to be reconciled with:

    I agree with that, but the idea has to make some sense to start with. You can’t open with a premise like “battered women are happier than feminists”

    The range of acceptable is within the bounds of those that make sense. No?

  36. Actually JA I attended a Catholic University (Seton Hall) and while there was some rigidity (you couldn’t get a student club for gays or pro-choicers started…at least with official recognition), you could pretty much be anything you wanted in class (I don’t know how being the lone atheist theology major would work out but I wouldn’t be surprised if it couldn’t be done). Looking thru how this college does things I have to say I’m impressed. I think the history of how we have learned what we have learned is something that’s greatly overlooked. I think learning, say, calculus by actually reading Newton himself is pretty valuable.

  37. I’m guessing homophobia (for example) never arises. And they probably aren’t any more sexist than the average American.

    So you think there are openly gay students? Do you think they allow gay couples into their “partners only” formal dances? I highly doubt it.

    The range of acceptable is within the bounds of those that make sense. No?

    That’s how it should be. I’m guessing (based on limited knowledge, I admit) that here the range of the acceptable is identical to the range that is reconcilable with Catholic doctrine.

    Actually JA I attended a Catholic University (Seton Hall)

    My understanding is that “Catholic” universities vary quite a bit from basically nominal to quite rigid. And anyway, being officially forbidden from starting a student club for gays or pro-choice is ridiculous and fosters an environment hostile (or at least disrespectful) towards gays and women.

    I went to a state school, and gay rights were a big deal there. Isn’t it enough for gay people to be discriminated against throughout (religious) high schools? Can’t they finally be free and equal in college?

    At Yeshiva University, the gay students were closeted and largely miserable, at least as far as I know, which is somewhat. Last year, over a decade after I graduated, it was a huge, controversial thing when they had an event where a few openly gay Orthodox Jews simply spoke about their experiences. You get that? Just openly speaking about their lives was wildly controversial. That’s the kind of environment fostered by these schools. (Again, I get that they’re not all alike, but the strict rules on sex segregation along with the formal dances stuff and many other clues lead me to believe that WCC is more like YU than like Seton Hall.)

  38. My understanding is that “Catholic” universities vary quite a bit from basically nominal to quite rigid. And anyway, being officially forbidden from starting a student club for gays or pro-choice is ridiculous and fosters an environment hostile (or at least disrespectful) towards gays and women.

    I don’t really disagree, esp. when explicitly non-Catholic clubs were, I believe, allowed (such as a Jewish club). Nonetheless, I don’t mind that some colleges deviate from explicitly open academic freedom.

    Last year, over a decade after I graduated, it was a huge, controversial thing when they had an event where a few openly gay Orthodox Jews simply spoke about their experiences. You get that? Just openly speaking about their lives was wildly controversial.

    Yea I wouldn’t go for that, however when I finished there was a ‘friends of gays’ club that was almost on the verge of squaring the circle and being recognized. The hang up was that you couldn’t explicitly advocate off Catholic doctrine, I suppose. To be honest with you, I’d be rather surprised if any Catholic college comes close to what your describing. Perhaps part of the reason is that, at least according to Andrew Sullivan, there have always been something of a ‘gay underground’ with Catholicism. Unlike other faiths where everyone is more or less expected to marry, a gay Catholic could have ‘legitimacy’ in the clergy (although they wouldn’t see sex sanctioned). Also Catholicism has been greatly influenced by Italian culture, which has perfected the art of taking doctrines both very seriously and very unseriously at the same time.

  39. JA & Boonton,
    I’m finding it interesting and a bit unusual that JA’s “rigid” went right to student clubs (!?). How relevant is that really? Back in the day, err, when I was in school, almost all my time spent on homework. When I was in a dorm, I played some intramural sports and was in a film society. That was it. How is the equating of the lack or presence of identity clubs equal to rigidity or liberality?

    The school we’re talking about here has currently just graduated their first class (of 30). They hope to move that toward a total school enrollment of 300. Seems to me that’s too small for any sort of “I am an XYZ” club organizations, which in turn in the abstract in my view is probably a good thing (as contrasted with “We do activity XYZ” clubs (where xyz in this case are things like watch film, run, hunt, play sport X, and so on).

  40. I’m finding it interesting and a bit unusual that JA’s “rigid” went right to student clubs (!?).

    Actually I went first to whether there are any openly gay students and then to whether gay couples would be allowed at the formals.

    I agree that the clubs aren’t in and of themselves of primary importance, but they speak to the general culture. And the general culture is: gay people, you are second-class citizens and there’s something wrong with you.

    And let me tell you a little secret. Institutions that feel that way about gays generally feel similarly about Jewish atheists.

  41. JA,
    We’re talking about a school with a current enrollment of 100. With an average population distribution you’d have an average of 3-5 gay people. This is a not a random sample but a self-selecting demographic. Do you think there are any gay students there?

    I agree with you that the clubs speak to the general culture. And when the clubs are about identity and not activity, I’d offer that culture is ailing.

    You no information of how or what that college “feels” about gays (or Jewish atheists although they would probably discourage you from enrolling suggesting that’s not a good match).

  42. And when the clubs are about identity and not activity, I’d offer that culture is ailing.

    LOL, like when the club (university) is for Catholics?

  43. JA,

    LOL, like when the club (university) is for Catholics?

    Uhm. Catholic is not an “identity” group by a activity group. You might be confused by this because you consider your religious identity “Atheist” which is an identity group. However Christianity, and in particular Catholicism, is not an identity group, but an activity one. A Christian is such because he/she worships (the activity) the Trinitarian God as described in the Nicene Creed. A Roman Catholic Christian is primarily one that worships in the Roman rite with other who do the same.

    This begs a question however, which I’m promoting to another post.

  44. Why is it ok to ban just one ‘identity group’ then? I suppose a college that had no identity groups allowed might be an interesting experiment but allowing just about all but one…seems, well to be targetting based on identity.

  45. Boonton,
    Well, if I was an administrator I don’t think I’d ban “one” identity group but likely try to discourage any and all identity groups.

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