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  #1  
Old 01-05-2011, 11:27 PM
Bloggingheads Bloggingheads is offline
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Default Loury vs. Lowry (Glenn Loury & Rich Lowry)

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  #2  
Old 01-06-2011, 12:07 AM
Simon Willard Simon Willard is offline
 
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Default Re: Loury vs. Lowry (Glenn Loury & Rich Lowry)

Rich's explanation of why we are talking about American exceptionalism was revealing: "I wrote a column because there was a debate about this..."

Not up to my intellectual standards.

Last edited by Simon Willard; 01-06-2011 at 12:14 AM..
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  #3  
Old 01-06-2011, 12:15 AM
chamblee54 chamblee54 is offline
 
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Default Re: Loury vs. Lowry (Glenn Loury & Rich Lowry)

This is a good phrase.
If I hear much more like this, I won't get much work done.
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  #4  
Old 01-06-2011, 12:38 AM
TwinSwords TwinSwords is offline
 
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Default Re: Loury vs. Lowry (Glenn Loury & Rich Lowry)

Now I'm dying to hear Glenn's story about why his father changed the family name from Lowry to Loury.

Next time, let's have Glenn on with Annie Lowrey.
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  #5  
Old 01-06-2011, 01:14 AM
harkin harkin is offline
 
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Default Re: Loury vs. Lowry (Glenn Loury & Rich Lowry)

Have to completely disagree with Glenn on his suggestion of attacking the symptoms and ignoring the disease. Discounting family stability makes him guilty of the very over-simplification he condemns in Cosby, Moynihan etc. Don't be afraid of stigmas Glenn, embrace them where they are earned.

If he thinks there is anything that can help schools (and the community at large) more than a stable home life with two parents helping guide their kids he's woefully mistaken. He calls attempts to preserve this stability a 'joke' when the joke is the portion of the community that (as Rich says) 'gives up'.

His remarks about Michelle Obama being unable to discuss marriage because of how uncomfortable it will make some feel is very similar to those by folks who demand a conversation on race and yet are the first to demand terminations and boycotts for those who converse in a manner they disagree with.
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  #6  
Old 01-06-2011, 01:48 AM
db63 db63 is offline
 
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Default Re: Loury vs. Lowry (Glenn Loury & Rich Lowry)

Glenn Loury should be required by law to do a Bloggingheads every week. He's awesome. And at least once a month there should be a Loury/McWhorter diavlog.
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  #7  
Old 01-06-2011, 03:30 AM
kezboard kezboard is offline
 
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Default Re: Loury vs. Lowry (Glenn Loury & Rich Lowry)

>Glenn Loury should be required by law to do a Bloggingheads every week

Not satisfied with the government takeover of health care and the financial sector, some have called for the government takeover of Glenn Loury.
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  #8  
Old 01-06-2011, 04:14 AM
RandomAmber RandomAmber is offline
 
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Default Re: Loury vs. Lowry (Glenn Loury & Rich Lowry)

Quote:
Originally Posted by harkin View Post
Have to completely disagree with Glenn on his suggestion of attacking the symptoms and ignoring the disease. Discounting family stability makes him guilty of the very over-simplification he condemns in Cosby, Moynihan etc. Don't be afraid of stigmas Glenn, embrace them where they are earned.

If he thinks there is anything that can help schools (and the community at large) more than a stable home life with two parents helping guide their kids he's woefully mistaken. He calls attempts to preserve this stability a 'joke' when the joke is the portion of the community that (as Rich says) 'gives up'.

His remarks about Michelle Obama being unable to discuss marriage because of how uncomfortable it will make some feel is very similar to those by folks who demand a conversation on race and yet are the first to demand terminations and boycotts for those who converse in a manner they disagree with.
This is the same point Lowry misses. Its not a matter of discounting it; it is important. However, there are no worthwhile solutions. The only one anyone seems to advocate is public moralizing, be it Cosby or Lowry putting signs up on buses.

As Loury also points out to Lowry, you don't seem to consider cause and effect. If the crime rates were lower and children received a better education, wouldn't they be more likely maintain a 'traditional' family?

There are serious issues that can be addressed. Education and penal reform are the largest, but there are simple things like providing nursing for 'at risk' mothers greatly improves outcomes for their children, as Mark Kleiman suggests in Brute Force Fails. Most people aren't even aware of the size and problems with our prison system, having someone like Cosby talk solely about societal breakdown just isn't helpful. Bemoaning the breakdown of traditional values doesn't move the issue of inequality forward if you don't have a good solution. I don't consider public moralizing a good solution.

This is of course assuming the important consideration is benefit provided by a traditional family structure. If you want tradition for tradition's sake, then make feel free to make that the issue of focus. But even so, you might be still be better off decreasing crime rates and improving education.
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  #9  
Old 01-06-2011, 04:19 AM
Florian Florian is offline
 
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Default Re: Loury vs. Lowry (Glenn Loury & Rich Lowry)

The word "great" as in "the greatest nation" in history means what exactly? Lowry admits he has no idea, although despite his ignorance he condescends to include Great Britain under the banner of greatness. The article cited in the sidebar gives a childish, potted history of several other candidates to "greatness" ---- on a level that would make any cultured Englishman or Frenchman German laugh in scorn. (I mention these three countries not out of chauvinism but simply because they have been the makers of the modern world: in thought, in science, in literature, in the arts, in the art of living, in the invention of capitalism----surely "greatness" must include these things?)

The United States is a derivative civilization: it is the product of more than two thousand years of European civilization. It has built, magnificently, on a magnificent heritage. Let us hope that it can continue to be worthy of that heritage.
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  #10  
Old 01-06-2011, 07:53 AM
JonIrenicus JonIrenicus is offline
 
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Default Re: Loury vs. Lowry (Glenn Loury & Rich Lowry)

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Originally Posted by RandomAmber View Post
This is the same point Lowry misses. Its not a matter of discounting it; it is important. However, there are no worthwhile solutions. The only one anyone seems to advocate is public moralizing, be it Cosby or Lowry putting signs up on buses.

As Loury also points out to Lowry, you don't seem to consider cause and effect. If the crime rates were lower and children received a better education, wouldn't they be more likely maintain a 'traditional' family?

....

There is a basic disagreement about the cause for a given effect.

Why else when confronted with an appeal to support any kind of campaign denouncing certain behaviors that lead to bad outcomes does Glenn get cold feet?

Because he is unconvinced that behaviors are the root cause of bad outcomes. Or at the very least is FAR more resistant to such explanations due to the consequences.


Now what might those consequences be?

The biggest you hear given as a warning is the idea that accepting behavioral causes for bad effects will cause others to be less sympathetic and feel less obligated to help people.

This fear is not unfounded. It is basic human nature. Consider this made up case of 2 people.

Person A is stricken with terminal cancer. He has lived a relatively healthy life but got unlucky in the genetic lottery.

Person B is suffering from complication of type 2 diabetes. This person was counseled earlier about ways to stave off the worst effects and even turn back the ailments with proper diet. They did not heed such advice and maintained the same diet of sodium rich, and generally unhealthy foods. They are dying.


Who are you more sympathetic to? Which early death would seem a bit more unfair?


You people worried about that are right to be worried. All I can tell you is that I'd be even more worried about figuring out a way to changes peoples behavior that caused the inability to adjust ones life to avoid type 2 diabetes in the first place. And that enterprise does not include being skittish about questions of behavioral cause and effect. Even if some people might absolve themselves of any need or want to help.

The response : "Unless you have a prescription about changing the behavior, don't bring it up or assume its the root cause" is a worthless approach. Irony that knows no ends as it charges those who have no solutions as being useless, when that very statement seeks to place a cloud over the clearest diagnosis of a problem if said diagnosis leads to issues of personal behavior.

In short, I'd rather know what's wrong, and not know how to fix it, than never truly know what's wrong at all. Then the debate and analysis can shift to solutions to that PROPERLY diagnosed problem, not a phantom one that preserves the notion that the victim of lower status is never the cause model.

Last edited by JonIrenicus; 01-06-2011 at 07:56 AM..
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  #11  
Old 01-06-2011, 08:55 AM
Baltimoron Baltimoron is offline
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Default Re: Loury vs. Lowry (Glenn Loury & Rich Lowry)

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Originally Posted by db63 View Post
Glenn Loury should be required by law to do a Bloggingheads every week. He's awesome. And at least once a month there should be a Loury/McWhorter diavlog.
Let me defend the left end of the spectrum and meet the libertarians halfway: let Glenn do what he wants. Free Glenn! There's no reason to keep him in a ghetto! More Glenn, yes! Glenn with other economists, yes! Glenn with every 'head at least once! The Big Glenn Tour!
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  #12  
Old 01-06-2011, 11:03 AM
bkjazfan bkjazfan is offline
 
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Default Re: Loury vs. Lowry (Glenn Loury & Rich Lowry)

One of the cultural issues they discussed has been a matter of public discourse for at least 20 years now. Initially when the out of wedlock birthrates started to skyrocket people kind of gingerly walked around the problem for a variety of reasons. One of the turning points was national tv broadcast with Dan Rather interviewing young black males who were bragging about all the women they had inpregnated and felt no obligation to raise their offspring. The problem was now out of the closet and could be discussed. So, all sorts of people have talked about this issue in the ensuing years and the outcome leaves much to be desired. The last impression I had was that when Bill Cosby took it up as a cause that he was partially lambasted for being a sellout. He became the issue and what he was was trying to get across to the public took second fiddle to him. Granted, out of wedlock births among people with little financial means is a huge problem but I am clueless on what should be done to ameloriate it.

John

Last edited by bkjazfan; 01-06-2011 at 01:19 PM..
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  #13  
Old 01-06-2011, 11:35 AM
Simon Willard Simon Willard is offline
 
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Default Re: Loury vs. Lowry (Glenn Loury & Rich Lowry)

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Originally Posted by Florian View Post
The United States is a derivative civilization: it is the product of more than two thousand years of European civilization. It has built, magnificently, on a magnificent heritage.
Strange. All this time I thought Europe was the product of 100 years of American civilizing influences. My bad.

Anyway, I completely agree with you that this is a childish exercise.
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  #14  
Old 01-06-2011, 11:59 AM
Florian Florian is offline
 
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Default Re: Loury vs. Lowry (Glenn Loury & Rich Lowry)

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Originally Posted by Simon Willard View Post
Strange. All this time I thought Europe was the product of 100 years of American civilizing influences. My bad .
Such as? My bad.

Quote:
Anyway, I completely agree with you that this is a childish exercise.
Especially when you know nothing about history. Lowry would no doubt endorse the above comment. American intervention in two European wars is the cornerstone of Americans' bizarre belief in their exceptionalism, but I am sure you are above such childishness....

Last edited by Florian; 01-06-2011 at 12:31 PM..
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  #15  
Old 01-06-2011, 12:17 PM
Abdicate Abdicate is offline
 
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Default Loury responds to Amy Wax

I enjoyed Amy Wax' two recent appearances on BH--and really felt her perspective to constitute a strong challenge to Bloggingheads' CW.

With this diavlog, Glenn--in top form--put forward a number of strong ripostes to Amy Wax.

This is one of those rare BHTV episodes that I will watch a second time, so as to fully digest Glenn's views.

Must-see TV.
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  #16  
Old 01-06-2011, 02:34 PM
RandomAmber RandomAmber is offline
 
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Default Re: Loury vs. Lowry (Glenn Loury & Rich Lowry)

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Originally Posted by JonIrenicus View Post
The response : "Unless you have a prescription about changing the behavior, don't bring it up or assume its the root cause" is a worthless approach. Irony that knows no ends as it charges those who have no solutions as being useless, when that very statement seeks to place a cloud over the clearest diagnosis of a problem if said diagnosis leads to issues of personal behavior.

In short, I'd rather know what's wrong, and not know how to fix it, than never truly know what's wrong at all. Then the debate and analysis can shift to solutions to that PROPERLY diagnosed problem, not a phantom one that preserves the notion that the victim of lower status is never the cause model.
First, I'll agree with most of what you say as to why Glenn is hesitant and that root causes should be discussed, whatever they are and whether or not there is a clear solution. I didn't mean to say that the breakdown of traditional values was not a cause, it may very well be. I would not say that it is by any means the "clearest diagnosis", but that may just be a divide we can't cross.

It seems likely the that the problem is circular, with poverty and imprisonment be causes and effects of the breakdown. I don't know of anyone moving the 'diagnosis' further than that; it is possible, but I haven't seen anything (serious social science work) implicating one problem as more of a cause than any others.

So, if given thats as far as we can disentangle the issue, it would seem sensible to mainly treat the problems we think we can. Its not really a matter (for me, it seems to be for Glenn) of not bringing it up. But for 'serious people' who really are interested in addressing the issues of poverty, it seems like a dead end to me. If people want to do serious work on solutions to it though, more power to them. A public morality campaign just doesn't seem like a serious solution.
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  #17  
Old 01-06-2011, 04:11 PM
stephanie stephanie is offline
 
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Default Re: Loury vs. Lowry (Glenn Loury & Rich Lowry)

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Originally Posted by RandomAmber View Post
This is the same point Lowry misses. Its not a matter of discounting it; it is important. However, there are no worthwhile solutions. The only one anyone seems to advocate is public moralizing, be it Cosby or Lowry putting signs up on buses.
Right. They also fail to address any specifics as to what the public moralizing, to be effective, must consist of. Saying "get married" doesn't do anything, as Rich himself acknowledges that the unmarried mothers he is so concerned with don't reject the notion of getting married. They just don't see it as an option (and given that you can't unilaterally decide to marry, it may well not be).

Rich says it's simple and basic not to have a child before you marry. Well, but not necessarily. Pregnancy is (among other things, but for the sake of this discussion) a side effect of sex, so what we are basically talking about is replacing a stigma on out-of-wedlock birth that has largely gone away due to the vanishing of the stigma on sex of of wedlock and abortion politics (and if anyone thinks some signs on buses are going to return us to an age when sex out of wedlock is really stigmatized, I think that's nuts).

Pregnancy and having a child also, of course, is not primarily an accident, even when out of wedlock -- it's a deeply-seated human desire for probably most people. And if people assume marriage isn't an option for them (and especially if what else they have going on isn't super compelling), that doesn't mean they are going to jettison having children. And that's even more true when -- as is seemingly increasingly the case with the lower-middle class that is the focus of the discussion -- the dramatic difference between the picket fence 1950s family with marriage and having a child on one's own or with a sometimes there, sometimes not live-in type doesn't seem so dramatic, because the first situation doesn't really exist and what you see around you are lots of broken families and women supporting themselves okay and men underemployed or out of work or not into marriage for whatever reason (and quite possibly not willing to live by the idealistic standards that you are taught to see as part of marriage).

It's not a question of people improving their morality then (which seems to me how people like Rich want to present it -- and, yes, I think it is to blame the victim and excuse ourselves from any responsibility). It's of really understanding and addressing the reasons why marriage is breaking down in various communities (or has already done so). And I see no evidence from Rich's comments (or piece) that he's interested in this at all. If he wants people to trust him that he's concerned about this because he sees himself as part of a community of people affected by this (which sounds nice), I think he has to demonstrate that in some way. Otherwise it sounds like something else, as I said.

In particular, when you point to unemployment rates of 15% vs. 5% and claim that the differences in marriage cause that, rather than being an effect (in part) of that, I think it's nuts. Does breakdown of the family continue to contribute to the problems? Absolutely, but when you are thinking of breakdown of the family as something that just happens because people have poor moral values and need to be encouraged to choose marriage, then there's clearly no intent to address the problem in a serious manner or even to understand it, as Glenn said (but more nicely).

And the point about Hefner hardly helps the argument. If anything it demonstrates that not marrying is hardly due to a disagreement with traditional values or whatever.

Quote:
There are serious issues that can be addressed. Education and penal reform are the largest, but there are simple things like providing nursing for 'at risk' mothers greatly improves outcomes for their children, as Mark Kleiman suggests in Brute Force Fails. Most people aren't even aware of the size and problems with our prison system, having someone like Cosby talk solely about societal breakdown just isn't helpful. Bemoaning the breakdown of traditional values doesn't move the issue of inequality forward if you don't have a good solution. I don't consider public moralizing a good solution.
Agreed. I don't actually mind public moralizing (although I think it's useless in this case and has a slight risk of backfiring somewhat), but I strongly mind it if it's presented as a solution or as having identified the problem in some way so that the difference between Rich's life and some struggling unwed mom who works nights at McDonald's is entirely due to him being more moral than her or some such self-congratulatory story. But then if you buy into that it strengthens the argument that progressive taxation of any sort is immoral and confiscatory.
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  #18  
Old 01-06-2011, 04:25 PM
stephanie stephanie is offline
 
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Default Re: Loury vs. Lowry (Glenn Loury & Rich Lowry)

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Originally Posted by Florian View Post
The word "great" as in "the greatest nation" in history means what exactly?
I expect you know this, but it's code for "I'm really patriotic and love America." Thus, the insistence that those who say such things are somehow under attack or the subject to snide looks from college educated liberals or whatever. (I wonder if this persecution is as difficult as that faced by those who say "Merry Christmas?")

In other words, sarcasm aside, it's not a serious statement (by which I mean one subject to any kind of quantification or argument -- it's a serious statement of love and preference, sure), as Glenn pointed out and as Rich just about admitted. Rich's "argument" is a pretense -- if there's a serious response of any sort, he can claim that the responder doesn't love America as much. If not, well, he can still claim in the absence that he's arguing against unidentified people (liberals, of course) who don't love America as much.
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Old 01-06-2011, 04:50 PM
stephanie stephanie is offline
 
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Default Re: Loury vs. Lowry (Glenn Loury & Rich Lowry)

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Originally Posted by JonIrenicus View Post
In short, I'd rather know what's wrong, and not know how to fix it, than never truly know what's wrong at all. Then the debate and analysis can shift to solutions to that PROPERLY diagnosed problem, not a phantom one that preserves the notion that the victim of lower status is never the cause model.
The problem is that you are mixing up individual choices and public presciptions (as I'm pretty sure we've talked about before).

You can say that an individual person's health is worse because he is too fat. Chances are that person knows that. I don't believe that the problem with obesity is that obese people think it's just as good and healthy to be 100 pounds overweight and eat poorly. Moreover, generally speaking people who have weight-related health problems won't say "oh, if only the government had warned me that being fat was unhealthy." They know it, they accept responsibility.

So is overweight a public health problem? It seems that it is. Why don't we just explain to people that they shouldn't be fat? Maybe create a social stigma against fatness? Oh, right, that kind of does exist (and it's probably kind of effective -- social groups that are more negative about overweight tend to be thinner, although there are lots of other reasons).

So, problem one is that just making it a moral issue doesn't seem to help. If we said that's all we could do, would we expect the problem to get better? I wouldn't. Thus, is that a good solution for people who care about the problem? I don't see how it is.

Problem two is that people can be negatively effected by the problem through no fault of their own (or through fault somewhat of their own but also largely which they have no control over). For example, if my health insurance goes up because I work with a lot of obese people or Medicare costs increase for the same reason, it's a problem for me, even if I am not overweigh and eat well and exercise a lot and so on. If I'm a child in a society that is focused toward the unhealthy preferences that lead to the problem, I may develop poor eating habits and even some health problems before you'd really say it's my fault. So on -- the analogy isn't perfect, but you are the one who chose it.

Similarly, if a community is suffering negative effects due to family breakdown, it will effect people who have intact families -- i.e., if the school sucks or the community is unsafe (often said to be a result in part of unwed births, although I think that's an oversimplification), then that effects the children of married parents. If my parents aren't married, that might affect me, although I'm obviously not responsible. And, while it's not ideal, if I get pregnant by someone who won't marry me, my options seem to be two things Rich would condemn me for on moral grounds -- unwed child bearing or abortion.

That's why I said what this is really about is reinstating the stigma on out of wedlock sex, which simply is not happening, however much Obama may desire to push it.

Also, since we are talking about community problems, and we are all parts of the community, the question is what we can do. Can I tell people they must be married to have sex (or have a baby)? Sure, but do I expect them to give a damn? No, I do not. Their churches can tell them that, however, and I understand that they already do (personally, I don't live in a neighborhood in which it's a problem). So the question is, does moving preaching from the churches and relatives and so on to the government or whatever somehow change behavior on an individual level? It order to consider this we have to consider what the preaching is, and saying "get married" seems especially unlikely to work because it seems unlikely that the problem with marriage rates is that people don't think marriage is a good thing or that not being married is far more glamorous or whatever (especially in lower-middle class America). It seems much more complex.

But like I said, I don't think there's anything wrong with saying it's better to get married before having children, and for that matter better to have a job and education before doing so and better to have a good education and not act as if smart and educated people are elitist snobs like a good party of the Republican Party seems committed to claiming these days. I just think it's wrong to claim that the problems are simple ones that resulted from people not being moral and which could be resolved if people (other than me) just acted as morally and with as much will-power as I do, basically to give myself an excuse to claim I'm not my brother's keeper.
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Old 01-06-2011, 04:56 PM
Don Zeko Don Zeko is offline
 
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Default Re: Loury vs. Lowry (Glenn Loury & Rich Lowry)

I found Rich's account of the fortunes of Conservatism since 1994 to be totally mind-boggling. He tells this whole story about the hope of 1994, the dangers of overreach, and his fond dreams of unified conservative control of government, and never once makes any reference to the presidency of George W. Bush. He speaks as if Bill Clinton was President from 2001 to 2009. It's not like I was going to leave the conversation agreeing with much of Lowry's take on recent events, but I don't see how I should take anything he says seriously when he has so obviously tossed the entire Bush Administration down the memory hole.
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  #21  
Old 01-06-2011, 04:57 PM
Starwatcher162536 Starwatcher162536 is offline
 
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Default blah blah blah

The following passage from Daniel Yergin's The Prize along with a quote from Jared Diamond, author of Guns, Germs, and Steel, sums up my feelings on America's overall economic woes.

Quote:
"We feel this to be an historic occasion,” declared the chairman of the commission [Texas Railroad Commission]. “Damned historic, and a sad one. Texas oil fields have been like a reliable old warrior that could rise up to the task when needed. That old warrior can't rise anymore."
Quote:
History followed different courses for different people because of differences among peoples’ environments, not because of biological differences among people themselves.
capitilism, socialism ... decadence, frugality ... religous, secular ... marriage, no marriage .... blah blah blah. Unless your counting on the rest of the industrilized world blowing itself up twice a century we need to talk about not importing so much natural resources.

Make Norplant free. Problem solved. Lets focus on whats important now, okay?
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Last edited by Starwatcher162536; 01-07-2011 at 01:57 PM..
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  #22  
Old 01-06-2011, 05:17 PM
BornAgainDemocrat BornAgainDemocrat is offline
 
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Default WWLD: What would Loury Do?

It was discouraging to me that Glenn Loury had no constructive suggestions for how to shore up the family. Recall Charles Murray's influential book, Losing Ground. In it he pointed out the perverse incentive of AFDC which actually punished (by reducing benefits) single mothers if a male was living in the household.

So why not turn it around and give a positive incentive if a male is living in the house? In other words more money instead of less for two-parent households. These benefits could take the form of earned income tax credits or any other formula that would only kick in when two adults are living together and pooling their earnings to support the children.

Here's another idea: A $5000 bounty to mothers who wait to get married before having a child.

And a third: reduce the standard work day to six hours instead of eight, with time-and-a-half for overtime. What's the point? Well, for one thing, it would boost real hourly wages by artificially restricting the supply of labor. That's one way to share the pie with blue collar workers.

The six hour day would have an additional benefit for working couples: it would increase the incentive to stay together since it would be harder for a single person to pay the rent working 30 hours a week with no cash assistance. To say nothing of the fact that parents would have more time at home with their children and each other: time to cook supper, supervise their kids' homework, etc.

Poverty of imagination is a big part of our problem right now. We need to think anew.

As for our schools -- well that's a whole other problem. But here is a concrete suggestion: web cameras in all public school class rooms as a first step towards restoring discipline and weeding out incompetetent teachers. More money is not the answer and everybody knows it. Stop bullshitting around and fuck the unions if they won't go along. It's the public's money not theirs.

Last edited by BornAgainDemocrat; 01-06-2011 at 05:33 PM..
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  #23  
Old 01-06-2011, 06:12 PM
bkjazfan bkjazfan is offline
 
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Default Re: Loury vs. Lowry (Glenn Loury & Rich Lowry)

I have been out of public school for quite some time but what was the point of sex education? When I went it wasn't discussed. Presumably some of the reasons were to enhance kids awareness of sexuality and hopefully preclude them from contracting STD's and unwanted pregnancies. Living in a city where every middle/high school save one is failing "No Child Left Behind" criteria it's not difficult to beat up on K-12 public education but a report card on it's success is a C minus at best.

John

Last edited by bkjazfan; 01-06-2011 at 06:19 PM..
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  #24  
Old 01-06-2011, 06:31 PM
JonIrenicus JonIrenicus is offline
 
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Default Re: Loury vs. Lowry (Glenn Loury & Rich Lowry)

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Originally Posted by stephanie View Post
The problem is that you are mixing up individual choices and public presciptions (as I'm pretty sure we've talked about before).

You can say that an individual person's health is worse because he is too fat. Chances are that person knows that. I don't believe that the problem with obesity is that obese people think it's just as good and healthy to be 100 pounds overweight and eat poorly. Moreover, generally speaking people who have weight-related health problems won't say "oh, if only the government had warned me that being fat was unhealthy." They know it, they accept responsibility.

So is overweight a public health problem? It seems that it is. Why don't we just explain to people that they shouldn't be fat? Maybe create a social stigma against fatness? Oh, right, that kind of does exist (and it's probably kind of effective -- social groups that are more negative about overweight tend to be thinner, although there are lots of other reasons).

So, problem one is that just making it a moral issue doesn't seem to help. If we said that's all we could do, would we expect the problem to get better? I wouldn't. Thus, is that a good solution for people who care about the problem? I don't see how it is.
One benefit of the overweight example is that it is a case where the consensus is that a core part of the problem is in fact behavioral. We all know it is not a question of knowledge about whether those extra two slices of cheesecake is better or worse for weight loss, but discipline and choice. This does not make the solution any easier, but it does focus it on areas that either increase ones capacity for self discipline, or alter the environment to make the human failing that leads to worse results less likely (i.e. in extreme cases getting rid of fast food near schools and making access to less healthy food harder to get).


As a practical matter, while the latter approach may be easier to engineer, it is the inferior solution. The gold standard ought to be the project of making people better, as even if and when they do come under stresses in life, they are better able to handle and deal with those problems and results, not to mention being more resilient to a wider range of issues and problems that come up in life.

It is that glaring difference between the capacity of two societies to deal with disaster and stress that occurred last year in the Haiti/Chile quakes.

The dirty little secret about the concept of a totally fair and just society is that even in such a perfectly crafted fantasy world, there would still be differences in results. Because even when you hold variables like income and opportunity constant, you still have others that never will be, like individual initiative or discipline or agency, whatever you want to call it.

And what is the liberal model for addressing deficiencies in that arena? No comment.

Truth is, many of these deficiencies are in fact coupled to external stimuli, and it's probably the case that some people need more rails in life to get better results. That's fine, I am not opposed to altering the environment to compensate for peoples deficiencies (including my own). So what is my problem with Glenns view?


My problem has already been stated earlier. I find the approach that is uninterested in the project of making people better, independent of the environment, insufficient.

And so my set of potential solutions (and likely better overall results) is wider and more effective than Glenns could ever be.
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Old 01-06-2011, 07:19 PM
stephanie stephanie is offline
 
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Originally Posted by JonIrenicus View Post
One benefit of the overweight example is that it is a case where the consensus is that a core part of the problem is in fact behavioral.
Right, but that doesn't mean that you can tell someone worried about the social problem that the answer is preaching. I might be worried about obesity in my community without being overweight, so it makes no sense to tell me that the answer is to eat less. Me eating less might prevent me from being overweight, but it doesn't address the overall problem. Similarly, me not having a child out of wedlock, while a personal choice, doesn't prevent the problem from existing.

You seem to be arguing that people who experience hardship due to these problems (are poorer due to having a child at 17, develop problems due to obesity) are to blame for their problems. I'm not talking about that. I mean, sure, in many cases I think they made bad choices, but you can't address a social problem merely by saying that people shouldn't make bad choices and if they do, even if the combination of many bad choices contributes to a problem for society as a whole, so that we don't care and won't consider it a problem. Problem solved!

Basically, I think (again) you are mixing up two separate issues. One is what you would advise people to do, how you would, using social methods, recommend that people live their lives, and there, sure, people tell others that it's more sensible (and more moral, if that's your belief) to lead one's life in certain ways. If a friend is struggling with her weight and asks my thoughts, I wouldn't talk about policy, I'd talk about diet and exercise and what I do to be motivated and so on.

But the idea that the problem is that people think it's not a problem to be fat or that marriage isn't an ideal or the like is just silly. People fall short of their own ideas for lots of reasons and society is set up so that it's easier to be thin or be married in certain subgroups than others, so the question is what the difference is, and it's not that one group has bad moral values vs. the other. Or at least if you want to argue that's what it is, you need some evidence for that claim, which has been lacking.

Quote:
We all know it is not a question of knowledge about whether those extra two slices of cheesecake is better or worse for weight loss, but discipline and choice.
Discipline and choice when it comes to weight does not exist in a vacuum. Various things can make them easier or harder to exercise. When talking to an individual, I'd suggest things that would make it easier for her given her existing circumstances. But as a public policy issue, we should try and do things (if possible) to make the circumstances that make these things more difficult more like those that make them easier.

Similarly, obviously in a personal relationship with people from backgrounds where family breakdown is a problem one talks about the choices each person has (as well as the opportunities available, which lots of people in these situations just don't seem as valid for themselves). But as a public policy matter it doesn't work to just say "don't have sex" or "get married" (and Rich's spin aside, it also wouldn't explain a difference between a 5% unemployment rate and a 15% one). So I think the constant focus on this, especially from people like Rich, is a transparent effort to say that there is no valid public policy concern. The only problem is a breakdown in moral values, so the only answer is telling people to be more moral. It's their fault unemployment is high. That's just a frivolous and self-serving claim.

No one, however, is saying that people lack choice over what they do, that an individual cannot choose to act in one way vs. another (although the scope and difficulty of choice varies, which is why it's so irritating when people like Rich get all self-congratulatory about their superior morals). I'm just saying that if I, as a member of a socio-economic group, choose not to have a child out of wedlock, that's great for me, but does not make much difference in the fact that on average X% of people in that group do, and that's the public policy problem that is being talked about.
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Old 01-06-2011, 07:23 PM
stephanie stephanie is offline
 
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Originally Posted by JonIrenicus View Post
The dirty little secret about the concept of a totally fair and just society is that even in such a perfectly crafted fantasy world, there would still be differences in results.
This is a strawman, as I think you know.

No one expects a "totally fair and just society." It's not possible. That's a bad reason not to do what we can to make things more fair and more just, though.

Also, it's not a secret or dirty or remotely controversial that equality of opportunity (which we aren't close to and no one expects to exist) would not mean equality of results. No one thinks it should. That you argue against positions no one takes is puzzling.
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Old 01-06-2011, 07:29 PM
stephanie stephanie is offline
 
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I have been out of public school for quite some time but what was the point of sex education?
When I was in school it was mostly to tell us about AIDS. There was also something (at a younger age) about menstruation, but that was just for the girls. (We received some helpful educational materials created by Playtex, as I recall.) Don't know what the boys got then -- we were divided up.

I assume you have a broader point, though?
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Old 01-06-2011, 07:44 PM
JonIrenicus JonIrenicus is offline
 
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Default Re: Loury vs. Lowry (Glenn Loury & Rich Lowry)

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Originally Posted by stephanie View Post
This is a strawman, as I think you know.

No one expects a "totally fair and just society." It's not possible. That's a bad reason not to do what we can to make things more fair and more just, though.

Also, it's not a secret or dirty or remotely controversial that equality of opportunity (which we aren't close to and no one expects to exist) would not mean equality of results. No one thinks it should. That you argue against positions no one takes is puzzling.

Extreme examples are often needed to get people to focus on what is left, the point was even if I took away external factors like differences in income, and opportunity and whatever else, you'd STILL find differences between individual results based on their choices made and behavioral patterns.

People seem to be under the impression that merely addressing external discrepancies will flatten out the results curve and less optimal behavior patterns. But if the true result is a function of both external AND internal forces, then you'll never truly solve the problem while only focusing on ONE of the variables.

I don't care that the other variable makes some people queasy when talked about, if it matters, it needs to be worked on just like all the rest.
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Old 01-06-2011, 08:13 PM
bkjazfan bkjazfan is offline
 
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Default Re: Loury vs. Lowry (Glenn Loury & Rich Lowry)

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Originally Posted by stephanie View Post
When I was in school it was mostly to tell us about AIDS. There was also something (at a younger age) about menstruation, but that was just for the girls. (We received some helpful educational materials created by Playtex, as I recall.) Don't know what the boys got then -- we were divided up.

I assume you have a broader point, though?
Hello! I thought the sex education was a lot more comprehensive then what you described. I have a daughter that received it in public school but never ventured to ask what material she was given. I figured her mother could deal with that better than I could.

My first comment on this thread dealt with the escalating rates of out of wedlock birthrates. Baltimoron mentioned in a comment before my second post something about schools not being what they should be. This led me to think on what schools are supposedly doing in the sex ed arena and little has resulted from this in a beneficial way. Perhaps, this is due to the slipshod way in which it is presented.

I am just trying to figure out how society can do something that will lower the amount of STD's and out of wedlock birth rates among the young. I don't have empirical data on this but my impression is that the latter is a key driver in the high poverty rates we are experiencing. Since many of our public schools are nothing more than glorified dropout factories I doubt the answer lies there. My broader point is as I stated in my first comment I am clueless to what can be done to ameloriate these problems which appear to be getting worse instead of better.

Thank you for responding.

John
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Old 01-06-2011, 10:05 PM
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Originally Posted by db63 View Post
Glenn Loury should be required by law to do a Bloggingheads every week. He's awesome. And at least once a month there should be a Loury/McWhorter diavlog.
I can only third or fourth all of the above. While I was listening to him I was thinking "I wish all diavloggers were as honest as Glenn. Whether you agree or disagree there's a basic level of honesty that comes through and makes him so endearing.

I loved the way he found such obvious opening to the problem of opposing gay marriage while defending the virtues of marriage as a special form of commitment.

On the other hand, he was prompt to give Boehner a break for his emotionality. No cheap shots from Glenn!

Again, Glenn tried to bring some perspective to the complexity of culture and modernity interacting and changing our social institutions, while trying, to no avail, to discourage Rich from resorting to simplistic schemas. Good discussion.
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Old 01-06-2011, 10:13 PM
badhatharry badhatharry is offline
 
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Extreme examples are often needed to get people to focus on what is left, the point was even if I took away external factors like differences in income, and opportunity and whatever else, you'd STILL find differences between individual results based on their choices made and behavioral patterns.
Shouldn't you include intelligence as one of your internal discrepencies? That one really makes people queasy.
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Old 01-06-2011, 10:41 PM
badhatharry badhatharry is offline
 
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Default Re: Loury vs. Lowry (Glenn Loury & Rich Lowry)

I sympathize with Rich's wish to promote marriage as a way for people to attain the good things of life. However, I agree with Glen that marriage is a pretty passe notion. It really is too bad. We've simply reached that point in history. And things may change again.
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Old 01-06-2011, 10:46 PM
badhatharry badhatharry is offline
 
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No cheap shots from Glenn!
If only the same could be said for you.

Quote:
Again, Glenn tried to bring some perspective to the complexity of culture and modernity interacting and changing our social institutions, while trying, to no avail, to discourage Rich from resorting to simplistic schemas.
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Old 01-06-2011, 10:52 PM
AemJeff AemJeff is offline
 
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If only the same could be said for you.
Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.
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Old 01-06-2011, 11:09 PM
badhatharry badhatharry is offline
 
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Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.
I knew that!!
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Old 01-06-2011, 11:29 PM
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Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.
She's in my ignore list. There are good reasons for it.
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Old 01-07-2011, 01:31 AM
rcocean rcocean is offline
 
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Default A nice Diavlog

Glenn seems to pair well with anyone and Rich is always pleasant - if forgettable. So, the 1994 Republicans "failed" because they "over-reached" and they were "tactically stupid". Well, guess what, everyone makes mistakes and "over-reaching" never seems to hurt liberals - in the long run. If only they'd listened to Rich and Bob Dole.

Listening to Rich I wonder why NR even exists. What is the difference between NR and Commentary? Weren't there two magazines supposed to merge? It'd make sense, because I can't tell them apart. Heck, I confuse NR with Reason half the time.

And I look forward to Rich -and NR - telling us that we shouldn't vote for Palin because she's "unelectable" and "too extreme" and that Romney is the only hope - for 'conservatives' - assuming Orin Hatch decides not to run.
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Old 01-07-2011, 11:04 AM
eeeeeeeli eeeeeeeli is offline
 
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Default Re: Loury vs. Lowry (Glenn Loury & Rich Lowry)

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Originally Posted by JonIrenicus View Post
The dirty little secret about the concept of a totally fair and just society is that even in such a perfectly crafted fantasy world, there would still be differences in results. Because even when you hold variables like income and opportunity constant, you still have others that never will be, like individual initiative or discipline or agency, whatever you want to call it.

And what is the liberal model for addressing deficiencies in that arena? No comment.
I was just going over this element of conservative thought in my head yesterday....

So, if you hold those other variables constant, and if people are are basically the same, you should get a somewhat random mix of high/low success in society, right? But there obviously isn't - or wouldn't be (?), and so the question then becomes: what is it about those individuals, that they have individual initiative, agency, etc.? And because we've already ruled out environment by holding those variables constant, the answer would have to be either genetic, right?

We basically live in a world in which we see reality as a process of causes and effects, and so accordingly one's behavior must exist in that framework. There can really be no other factor besides environment and genetics.

I see this as a serious flaw in conservative thought: if you rule out environment, then you're left with genes. If you rule out genes, then you're left with environment. Either way, it seems as though there can be no real fairness, in the sense that success or failure will be entirely determined by either one or the other. And if success/failure is determined, then it would seem perfectly fair to build in some basic system of redistribution of wealth/capital, as the entire idea of merit, or "deserving" has been destroyed. We can emphasize behaviors we agree are positive, and create rewards and punishments to incentivize and deter, but we can only ever say that each individual was operating within a framework limited by environment/genes.

This seems very logical, and backed up by scientific evidence, yet anathema to conservative thought, and thus discounted. I don't understand how you get around it.
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Old 01-07-2011, 01:37 PM
JonIrenicus JonIrenicus is offline
 
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Originally Posted by eeeeeeeli View Post
I was just going over this element of conservative thought in my head yesterday....

So, if you hold those other variables constant, and if people are are basically the same, you should get a somewhat random mix of high/low success in society, right? But there obviously isn't - or wouldn't be (?), and so the question then becomes: what is it about those individuals, that they have individual initiative, agency, etc.? And because we've already ruled out environment by holding those variables constant, the answer would have to be either genetic, right?

We basically live in a world in which we see reality as a process of causes and effects, and so accordingly one's behavior must exist in that framework. There can really be no other factor besides environment and genetics.

I see this as a serious flaw in conservative thought: if you rule out environment, then you're left with genes. If you rule out genes, then you're left with environment. Either way, it seems as though there can be no real fairness, in the sense that success or failure will be entirely determined by either one or the other. And if success/failure is determined, then it would seem perfectly fair to build in some basic system of redistribution of wealth/capital, as the entire idea of merit, or "deserving" has been destroyed. We can emphasize behaviors we agree are positive, and create rewards and punishments to incentivize and deter, but we can only ever say that each individual was operating within a framework limited by environment/genes.

This seems very logical, and backed up by scientific evidence, yet anathema to conservative thought, and thus discounted. I don't understand how you get around it.

Couple points. First, not looking to get into the genes thing here, been there before and it's a death trap, and likely caused one of the better bloggingheads regulars to stop appearing.

Second, environment has not been ruled out. You have plenty of environmental influences on behavior. What I am trying to get people to do is simply acknowledge that, and devote some of their prescriptions to altering behaviors that are counterproductive. The failure to ever want to go there is the failing as I see it.

I don't know why people are so resistant to this kind of focus, it's not like they reject it in their own lives. How many hundreds of times do parents try to correct behaviors they see in their kids as destructive or simply rude and sloppy? The proper answer to that effort can't be "don't bother," it's wrong to focus on those kids as the object needing the corrective.

Take a middle school bully. Beats up random kids much smaller than he week after week. Maybe the reason he got that way is that his father beat him as a child or god knows what, but what sane person would actually say that his behavior is outside the bounds of concern and that we ought to focus our attention primarily on how he came to be that way or maybe remove the temptations of bullying by moving him away from other kids...
At the end of the day, it does not matter how he got that way, he is that way, and its not JUST the external actors that need alterations now, HE does as well. Now maybe along that road to redemption you do need to separate him from other kids, but the gold standard for success in that case is changing that kids attitude and behavior.


Even Bob Wright, Paragon of liberalism supports this view. One of his peeves is hostility in all forms, especially in comments. And so he went on a mini campaign as a behavioral corrective to dial back excesses in the comments section he saw it. What was he trying to act on there? ANSWER: Peoples Behavior !!!!!!!

The only time I truly think it is a waste to focus on behavior is when I think it has ZERO bearing on the problem. Or worse, when I think there is no hope for improvement. I would not ask a crippled person to stand

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SRV5Y1JCGRI

Or a retarded person to think harder.

Another irony, my view is infinitely less nihilistic in its view of human beings own capacity and agency for self improvement, not just some lifeless cog on a wheel of external cause and effect with little to no hope of altering course themselves by changing anything they do.

The alternative model? It does not really MATTER what they do, their success and fall depends on things totally beyond their control. Even if those people are right, it is an astonishingly depressing view and reality.



Last point, I agree that the biggest threat to the idea of a total meritocracy and radical libertarian model is that ability is not doled out equally. Everyone accepts the extreme cases where we actively give money to disabled people for assistance often because we see them as incapable of working in the same capacity, or sometimes at all. And this does not stop at the extreme ends, there are all sorts of steps in between. It's one thing for rewards to be based purely off the effort one puts in, it undercuts that whole enterprise when the very effort some are capable of putting in (or not) has to do with factors beyond their control. That's a problem, and a strong argument from some redistribution, yes. Aside from that there is an issue of degree, do we want the interventions to happen more at the extremes, or much deeper into the population?
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Old 01-07-2011, 01:44 PM
cragger cragger is offline
 
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Default Re: Loury vs. Lowry (Glenn Loury & Rich Lowry)

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... I just think it's wrong to claim that the problems are simple ones that resulted from people not being moral and which could be resolved if people (other than me) just acted as morally and with as much will-power as I do, basically to give myself an excuse to claim I'm not my brother's keeper.
There isn't really anything new to the self-justifying claim that folks at the bottom of the economic system are there simply because they are inferior in some way or ways to those at the top. Part of mainataining a system involving gross disparities has long involved both the divide-and-conquer technique of setting various subgroups at the bottom against each other or against some external group in order to divert their frustrations from being directed toward changing aspects of the economic system, and also the creation of a narrative as to why those folks belong at the bottom and others at the top. Blacks belong at the bottom because they are lazy, stupid, and naturally dependant. Irish immigrants belong at the bottom because they are lazy, dirty, drunken louts. Those Chinese dying building the railroads? Orientals are inferior to white Europeans and Oriental life is cheap anyways.

Go back a ways and Europeans at the top had the gall to style themselves nobles, inherently superior to the peasantry by blood and birth. Of course, claims of well-deserved divine favor as justification for wealth, power, and position have been popular as well. The refined residents of the drawing room have long satisfied themselves that they were just better people than the dirty, uneducated, and starving inhabitants of the shacks and tenaments. A lot of an argument that people are poor because of their moral inferiority is just another verse to the same old song.
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