Category Archives: Political Commentary

Political Correctness

Jonathan Chait has decided he’s been mugged enough by the campus fascists:

The upsurge of political correctness is not just greasy-kid stuff, and it’s not just a bunch of weird, unfortunate events that somehow keep happening over and over. It’s the expression of a political culture with consistent norms, and philosophical premises that happen to be incompatible with liberalism. The reason every Marxist government in the history of the world turned massively repressive is not because they all had the misfortune of being hijacked by murderous thugs. It’s that the ideology itself prioritizes class justice over individual rights and makes no allowance for legitimate disagreement. (For those inclined to defend p.c. on the grounds that racism and sexism are important, bear in mind that the forms of repression Marxist government set out to eradicate were hardly imaginary.)

American political correctness has obviously never perpetrated the brutality of a communist government, but it has also never acquired the powers that come with full control of the machinery of the state. The continuous stream of small-scale outrages it generates is a testament to an illiberalism that runs deep down to its core (a character I tried to explain in my January essay).

Of course, given his own history, he’s not the best standard bearer for the message.

Richard Posner

and the Constitution:

This has implications that go far beyond the judiciary. The only reason for not tarring and feathering any government official for effrontery when they tell us what to do is that their power to do so is somehow legitimate. But that legitimacy comes from the exercise of constitutional power. If the Constitution doesn’t mean anything, well, then, maybe it’s time to go long on pitchforks. Because without the Constitution the angry mob is just as legitimate as the perfumed princes of the state.

Here is Josh Blackman’s take down of Posner.

The Return Of The Frontier

Thoughts from Wretchard on the recent commercial space bill:

The Dawn of the Space Mining Age probably signals the Twilight of Socialism as much as it does the end of all material poverty. It marks the end of a way of life. We live in a special time; a brief epoch when the human universe has become as small as it will ever be, a moment when no man living is more than a few moments away by text messaging from any other and no home is beyond 48 hours of subsonic jet travel.

If man takes to the Cosmos, then distances will become real again; and goodbyes will be for the first time in a hundred years once more forever.

The price of knowledge and plenty is to leave the Hive. Someday we may regard our stuffy politically correct Earth with more tolerance than is presently the custom. The future does not belong to those poor souls on American campuses who become hysterical at the slightest perceived micro-aggression, but to those with the boldness to take risks. In that context humanity may someday miss such coddled children in nostalgia for a lost Eden, which no sooner found at the start of the 21st century, just as soon slipped away.

A lot of people seem to be misunderstanding this, though:

The 2015 Space Act does more than recognize property rights; it breaks down bureaucracy by exempting the space industry from much regulation until 2023. As with the historical Western frontier when the law remained “back East,” there will be few sheriffs in the far reaches of the void. There, as nowhere else on 21st-century Earth, safety is your own lookout.

As his own blockquote from Eric Stallmer indicates, the only thing that won’t be regulated (that is, continue to not be regulated, as it never has been in the past) will be the safety of spaceflight participants. Everyone will still need to get launch licenses from the FAA, and continue to satisfy it that the public is not at risk, and that the launch isn’t contrary to the national interest.

As for treaty compliance, I actually had a beer with Ram and Steven Freeland (from Australia, a signatory to the Moon Treaty) on this topic a few years ago in Lincoln, and we politely agreed to disagree on the issue. The bill is not in conflict with the OST, though it clearly is with the Moon Treaty. But the latter, contra this foolish piece, is not “customary international law.” The US has no obligation to it, never having ratified it.

[Late-morning update]

Related thoughts from a well-known professor of space law, over at USA Today.

Chicago’s Democrat Political Machine

deserves to be torn down over its indifference to its subjects.

I’m sure it’s just coincidence that all of these cities in such a mess — Chicago, Detroit, Baltimore et al — have been run by Democrats for decades.

[Update a few minutes later]

The corrupt system that killed Laquan McDonald. In the president’s adopted home town.

Cutting The Cost Of College

Four tough things the schools could do (but won’t):

“The American university is a grand political accommodation,” says Richard Vedder, an Ohio University economist and founder of the Center for College Productivity and Affordability. College presidents, he argues, appease faculty members by giving them control over what and how they teach. They appease students and parents with high grades and good facilities. They appease alumni with expensive sports teams. They appease politicians with shiny new research centers. “The idea is to buy off any group that might upset the political equilibrium,” Vedder said.

I was particularly struck by the worthlessness of the majority of research, as judge by the number of citations.

By “won’t,” of course, I mean they won’t until they are forced to when they run out of other peoples’ money. That day may be approaching.