Three Quick Points on Arizona and the Rights of Gays, Lesbians and Transgendered People vs. Religious Freedom

Dave has already done a great postmortem on SB 1026, but skimming through the threads there I feel like there are three important points that still need to be made.

Point #1

Dave already made this point (as did Burt), but it looks like people on both sides of the aisle still don’t understand and so I think it bears repeating:

AZ-SB1062 existed for no real reason other than social and political signaling.  It granted no additional freedoms to anyone, nor did it take any away.  In the state of Arizona (except for in a few municipalities), if you want to discriminate against a gay man or a lesbian couple it is your legal right.  LGBTs have no legal protections in that state.  If you find out a guy who works in your factory is gay and you want to fire him simply for being a “f***ot,” it is your right. You need not prove that a “sincere religious belief” is your reason for doing so.

For those who continue to say “who cares” when someone publicly admired comes out of the closet, this is yet another reason why they should.  Likewise, anyone that thinks people working for LGBT rights are “extremists pushing their agenda onto others” should rightly consider, if they do indeed value religious freedom, how they would feel if it was legal to fire them for being Catholic, or Baptist, or whatever.

Point #2

I wanted to highlight this interview of Al Melvin by Anderson Cooper.  Melvin is a populist Republican Arizona State Senator who has announced that he will be running for governor; he was also one of most visible and vocal champions of AZ-SB 1062.

I don’t care what political stripe you are, you need to watch this interview if you have not already.

To be fair, Cooper is openly gay himself and therefore cannot reasonably be assumed to be objective on the subject. Be that as it may, the interview is truly astounding, even to me.

And I want to highlight it because it dovetails with the subject matter I have been focusing on lately (and been getting a lot of pushback on): that if the concept of “governance” is to actually mean anything, then where you stand on any particular hot-button issue is not nearly as important as is being competent at what you do.

Further, that even though populist movements are both more fun and more seductive in their siren call than boring old wonky, policy-oriented, get-the-trains-moving-on-time “public officials” from either party, they inevitably lead to intellectual bankruptcy.  Because if you decide that you want to vote for people that tell you that you’re always right and that the actual experts, academics, professionals are “serious people” who should be dismissed out of hand just for not agreeing with you, you elect people like this to be your Senator:

And because it’s too juicy not to throw in as well, I should also add that Sen. Melvin recently went on record to protect kids from learning that socialist-fascist gateway subject of algebra, because it “uses ‘fuzzy math,’substituting letters for numbers in some examples.”  (I know already that some are gong to say that I need to give the Senator the benefit of the doubt; that it may simply be that he was trying to hide the fact that he hadn’t actually read up on the subject matter he was actively campaigning on and didn’t know what the hell he was talking about.  To which I would respond, this make him look better how, exactly?)

Point #3

Despite the previous two points, make no mistake. The social conservatives who back AZ-SB 1062 are actually right.  Granting freedom to LGBTs does hamper people’s religious freedom.

This is a point I have made before, but do not make often enough: There is no such thing as a choice between “freedom or tyranny” in a pluralistic democracy.  Any freedom given to one person is, ultimately, a different freedom taken away from another.  I can’t be free to play my music as loud in my backyard as I want without curbing my next door neighbor’s freedom to have a quiet evening in his own home.  My community can’t have the freedom to decide as a group not to allow toxic waste to be dumped in our neighborhood without infringing on the freedom of the local factory to dump waste wherever he wants.  I can’t protect myself against libel or slander without infringing upon your freedom of speech.

The lesson to be learned from AZ-SB 1062 isn’t that that we can grant freedoms to LGBTs without infringing on other people’s freedoms to not live in such a society; we can’t.

No, the lesson of AZ-SB 1062 is that when some politician comes around and asks for you to give him or her your power and your money because of they are “for freedom,” you should recognize that you are either dealing with a simpleton or a snake-oil salesman.  And if you fall for it, you’re going to be represented by people like Al Melvin for your trouble.

 

Follow Tod on Twitter, view his archive, or email him. Visit him at TodKelly.com

Please do be so kind as to share this post.
Share

308 thoughts on “Three Quick Points on Arizona and the Rights of Gays, Lesbians and Transgendered People vs. Religious Freedom

  1. #1: True. I’ve not said it myself because others have pointed it out. All the states enacting this legislation do not have protections for LGBT people so the legislation is moot and is really about shaking your fist in defiance. Interestingly they ended up being more broad than intended to avoid looking like homophobia. I believe that Dan Savage pointed out that in theory Santanists could discriminate against Christians in the Arizonan law.

    #2: I think you are partially right about populism but also partially giving it a bad wrap. Populism is necessary from time to time if only to keep wonks from getting too technocratic and reminding the wonks that people are people and not sets of data and human emotions and needs are valid. Here I am being biased towards my own economic liberalism/populism but social security basically came about because of some populism during the Great Depression. The Bonus Army helped pave the way for the New Deal. Populism is necessary for coming up with solutions to soften the blows of inevitable and painful changes like gentrification and globalization. It can lead to harmful demagory though.

    #3: Again agreed. I think the right of minorities to fully participate in economic and civil life free of discrimination trumps the freedom to discriminate.

      Quote  Link

    Report

    • I think the right of minorities to fully participate in economic and civil life free of discrimination trumps the freedom to discriminate.

      I think it depends. Would you endorse a law that forbade people to discriminate on the basis of, say, sexual orientation when it came to choosing a roommate?

      I have in mind a scenario where someone needs a roommate, cannot for whatever reason find a friend in a position to be a roommate, and decides he/she doesn’t want a certain type of person and so needs to advertise for one. In this scenario, I’m talking about a bona fide roommate situation, not a situation in which the owner of 3-flat who lives on the first floor won’t rent to gay people.

      I personally would have a hard time endorsing such a law, even though I really do believe such discrimination would be wrong.

        Quote  Link

      Report

      • “I think it depends. Would you endorse a law that forbade people to discriminate on the basis of, say, sexual orientation when it came to choosing a roommate?”

        Yes. Officially people engage in all sorts of Fair Housing Act violations when searching for roommates on craigslist. Will anything be done about it? Probably not.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • Thanks, . However, I think being forbidden to advertise the discriminatory intent is different from deciding, as a personal matter, that one bases one’s choices on certain factors.

        I don’t necessarily have a problem with a law forbidding people to advertise, say, “white roommates only.” I would have a problem with a law forbidding someone to make decisions on that basis, as long as it truly is a bona fide roommate situation. Again, I’m not endorsing the discrimination, just stating that I wouldn’t endorse making illegal a decision like that for such a personal situation.

        There are, I imagine, marginal situations where it could be difficult. Like a boarding house situation, and in marginal cases, I might endorse the law favoring by default the less discriminatory standard. Even the case cites, which was unfavorable to the discriminator, is (according to the link) based on a law that applies only to situations where the renting is done for profit. I don’t think I’d have a problem with that, either.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • I’d be entirely opposed to such a law. If a woman’s not comfortable having a man as a roommate, that’s not illegitimate discrimination to my mind; there are situations where I’d have been uncomfortable with that. Someone not wanting a gay roommate of the same sex is no different.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • I’m going off old memory, so I could be wrong, but I think there’s a line drawn where you’re renting to someone who’s going to be living in your own dwelling. That is, I couldn’t discriminate in renting apartments in an apartment building I own, but if I build an apartment in my house, I can be more selective in who I allow to live there. Extending from that, choosing roommates would follow the same logic.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • ,

        At least according to Craigslist’s FHA instructions:
        Shared Housing Exemption -- If you are advertising a shared housing unit, in which tenants will be sharing a bathroom, kitchen, or other common area, you may express a preference based upon sex only.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • More info on when there are exceptions:

        [T]he FHA covers most — but not all — housing. Some exemptions to coverage under the FHA include: (a) owner-occupied buildings with no more than four units (which is commonly known as the Mrs. Murphy exemption); (b) single family housing sold or rented without the use of a broker if the private individual owner does not own more than three such single family homes at one time; or (c) housing operated by organizations and private clubs that limit occupancy to members.

        So if it’s a house you own, you have more leeway than if you’re renting out a room in a house that you’re renting.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • I’m not advocating for a full blown technocracy. I just don’t think it is unreasonable to say, “It makes sense to involve education people in education discussions and medical people in medical discussions.” I mean, at my school, we don’t ask the janitor what reading curriculum I should use and they don’t ask me how to best clean up an oil spill; that seems wiser than polling everyone about each decision.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • I’m pretty comfortable with the federal laws as they stand now: It’s illegal to advertise descrimination, so you can’t say things like “straight roommates only” or “this is a christian home” in your ads, but unless you’re a bona-fide professional landlord and not just some schlub looking for a roommate, there are no restrictions on who you actually let rent.

        Because frankly, if some dude is creeped out by the possibility of living in a house with me because of my sexuality, that’s probably a house I don’t want to live in. But I also don’t want to live in a world where I open up the room listings and half of them say “no queers”.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • I also don’t want to live in a world where I open up the room listings and half of them say “no queers”.

        It would reduce your search costs considerably.

        I get why it would make a person uncomfortable, but good markets thrive on good information.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • That must be a US thing, or else Canada doesn’t enforce it at all. When I was looking for rentals near my university, plenty of the listings had “female only” or “male only” or “female preferred” on them.

        I’d rather have that than waste my time looking at a place where the tenants only want a male roommate.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • , only if there’s no feedback from expressed preferences. I think back to my own high school experience. Maybe one male student in 10 used the term “fag” out of an actual distaste for gay people. But another 6 in 10 used it simply because that was the cultural norm, with very little thought to their actual beliefs or feelings about homosexuality.

        I shudder to think how difficult it would be for me to get a place to live if such a norm existed in the rental market, or even a sub-set of it. Certainly it would dwarf whatever added search costs I experience under the current scheme.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • That must be a US thing, or else Canada doesn’t enforce it at all. When I was looking for rentals near my university, plenty of the listings had “female only” or “male only” or “female preferred” on them.

        Notwithstanding some of what’s been said here, I think people can say in the US “female only” or “male only” or “looking for a female roommate,” etc. I suspect that’s more than just avoiding enforcement of the laws and is actually legally okay.

        It’d be different story with race, ethnic, or religious discrimination from a landlord. I had a landlady once who told me she refused to rent to Asians because “they do a lot of stir fry and the oil will splatter on [what she believed to be her immaculate] kitchen.” (Never mind that I,a white boy, like bacon and when I cook some of the grease probably splatters.) That’s an example, in my opinion, of someone violating the law with no real fear that it would be enforced against her. And unfortunately, people get away with it.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • @pierre-corneille , One of the exceptions in the US law is specifically for that situation. In the case of a shared dwelling, it’s totally okay for someone to advertise and require that a roommate be of a specific sex.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • It would think there would be very different rules when it comes to sharing a home (a roommate or an apartment within what’s essentially built as a single-family home) and renting out housing that is, itself, intended as a home for someone else.

        In the first, we’re looking at the privacy of someone’s existing home, (castle doctrine?) and the right to seek out compatible roommates would seem innate because the roommates sought will share living space.

        General housing rentals should not discriminate, because each apartment (or house) is its own castle.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • Pierre,

        That’s an example, in my opinion, of someone violating the law with no real fear that it would be enforced against her. And unfortunately, people get away with it.

        It may be a violation of the spirit of the law (since she singled out Asians specifically), but would it be discriminatory if she instead said “I won’t rent to stir-fryers” or “sitr-fryers need not apply”?

        It seems like a stretch to conclude that such expressions derive from bigotry against Asians as a people. It’s certainly possible that it does, but it’s also possible that it doesn’t, no?

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • It’s definitely possible, and I suppose she could stipulate that her tenants not stir fry….but that’s a hard stipulation for someone to agree to. I mean, *never* fry anything that might splatter? But you’re right.

        My own read on her statement is that she just assumed Asians were undesirable people to rent to. That comes from having known her and from a bias on my part that she was a bad landlady. She would do “inspections” of our apartment to make sure we were keeping it clean up to her standards. Not that she didn’t have some reason to be concerned, because we were students (but one of us–me–was 30, the other in his late 20s and the other in his early 20s. Ironically, the youngest was probably the cleanest of us all and it was us older ones who were messy.) She was probably acting in a way that was illegal, but I was just a student and didn’t have the resources to challenge her.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • @north

        In proper doses, there is nothing wrong with being technocratic but wonky types tend to forget about human emotions and subjective values often.

        For example, Matt Y (I know but he is good as an example) once had a post talking about the benefits of gentrification and how it was marvelous progress that a fancy yuppie expensive supermarket replaced the working-class one that used to be on the site. I like fancy supermarkets as much as the next professional but I don’t think Whole Foods is necessarily and improvement. Plenty of still remaining working class people in said neighborhood could have preferred and needed the old supermarket because it was in their price range. Now they will have to travel further for groceries.

        All improvement is change but not all change is improvement depending on the person’s background.

        Wonks have a tendency of seeming to tell people “Shut up and trust us, we know what is good for you.” This denies people autonomy.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • So too technocratic might be a bad thing. But people often talk as if any amount of technocraticness is a horrible thing. I actually asked someone here to give me a nutshell description of it and they said something to the effect of experts in a given field are charged with making decisions in that area. Seemed to me like a pretty reasonable approach.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • This is fascinating.

        We get, once again, to the age old problem. In planning policy, we need to think in terms of sets of people; we need to use statistical models; from road rules to medical research, statistics matter.

        But each individual person is not a set; instead that person is just a data point within that set; and we often respond to policies of technocrats, rooted in statistical model, as individuals; hence my ire at incandescent light bulb bans; fluorescent lights give me migraine.

        So a technocrat is bad because he or she fails to see those people as individual people? Maybe. But I’m equally sure that, when the particular data set doesn’t hit too close to my particular points of data, I want those policies made based on greater good.

        Right up to the point of basic civil liberties, and I’d argue marriage is a basic civil liberty.

        Maybe Phill’s deaf; maybe Phill’s got a speech impediment because of his hearing; and people think he’s an imbecile because he talks funny and doesn’t respond in ways they consider appropriate because he can’t hear. I would not want a law that said deaf people can’t get married or vote or drive cars.

        My father’s brother was deaf, he lost his hearing when he was three and had Scarlet Fever; he attended Maine’s school for the deaf, where he met and fell in love with another student. They wed in their early 20’s, a violation of state law. Two deaf people were, at that time, not allowed to marry; supposedly due to concerns of them being incapable of caring for their children. The state didn’t want to open the can of worms of ending a marriage; so my Aunt and Uncle, both deaf had frequent visits from social workers to make sure their children were learning to speak and well cared for.

        (Uncle’s name was Phillman. Children were named Phillman Jr., Phillis, Phillipa, Phillbert, Philla, and Phillona. This came with it’s own obvious complications for teachers and the general public trying to discern which kid was whom. But they all spoke perfectly well, with their mouths and their hands, both.)

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • they said something to the effect of experts in a given field are charged with making decisions in that area. Seemed to me like a pretty reasonable approach.

        I agree that it’s reasonable, but there are at least two areas where it can get dicey. The first is how expert status is determined and what the area of expertise is. When it’s a question, for example, of building something that requires electrical wiring, is the electrical engineer or the journeyman electrician more of an expert? The answer is they probably both are (along with the people who will use the end product….they might not know about the construction process but they know how the end result works or doesn’t work for them). I suspect, though, that some “technocratic” solutions favor the engineer much more than they should.

        I don’t understand anything about construction or what goes into planning such things (as my inability to name the “thing” being constructed attests) The problem can get potentially worse if someone is assumed to be an expert simply because of a credential that happens to be irrelevant to the proposed area of expertise. I wrote a history dissertation on antitrust policy, and in the very narrow confines of that dissertation I am indeed an expert. But one of my professors once suggested I try to sell myself as a consultant to businesses trying to grapple with antitrust policy. With all due respect to my professor, any business that would hire me for that purpose would be making a huge mistake. I have a working knowledge of antitrust law, but nothing like a lawyerly knowledge. And I seriously doubt if any of today’s businesses give a rat’s behind about how local-level antimonopoly politics differed in Chicago and Toronto in the early 1900s.

        The second area is the degree of authority given to experts to command the actions of other people. ‘s example of the Maine law forbidding marriages of deaf people came about, I suspect, from an expert consensus that deaf people couldn’t raise children and, I also suspect, from a general feeling, ratified by “experts,” that deaf people were somehow intellectually impaired just by virtue of being deaf. In some cases, I imagine, the word of a mental health expert can go a long way to initiating the civil commitment of someone, and civil commitments have not always observed due process.

        (I’m not accusing you of not knowing these points. I realize that you’re pretty knowledgeable about the ways power is used and claims to knowledge and expertise function. I’m just using your comment as an excuse to throw my two cents into the ring.)

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • I actually asked someone here to give me a nutshell description of it and they said something to the effect of experts in a given field are charged with making decisions in that area. Seemed to me like a pretty reasonable approach.

        Well, when I think of this, I sort of think of nutritionists being involved in food regulation policy. There would be some pluses, but this is the sort of thing that soda bans come from. Experts often tend to look at issues from a specific vantage point that disregards how other people approach various tradeoffs and whatnot.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • A part of technocratism, in its pejorative sense, is when the experts go beyond telling people the most effective means to achieve their goals, or what the costs will be that offset the benefits desired, and start thinking they know better than the people what their goals should be. Because at that point we’re talking about values, not efficiency, or effectiveness of means.

        And technocrats cannot logically claim their values are superior to others’ values. (Of course we all think our values are superior to others’, but their claims have no more solid basis than others’ claims–any strength to their claims do not rise from their technical abilities.)

        This is no more than JamesK has sais, really. It’s a common theme in the science policy literature. Roger Pielke, Jr., for example, presents the argument well in his reasonably accessible book, “The Honest Broker.”

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • One of the great ironies here is that often, laws that discriminate (most particularly in the realm of marriage,) do so because of the state’s perceived interest in children. In my state, once, the marriages of two deaf people. Or people of two races. We see these arguments in the courts concerning gay marriage; CA was rife with this, it’s part of the argument the state of Michigan is currently using to defend laws banning gay adoption, which has been extended by the judge to include gay marriage, since Michigan also bans unmarried couples from adopting.

        Yet nobody would seriously suggest heterosexual couples have to prove they’re capable of parenting. This, despite the fact that many children of heterosexual married couples are harmed and neglected. And any technocrat that put fourth an argument that people might have to pass some sort of parenting-fitness test before being allowed to have children would be laughed out of court; it’s a perceived right. Likewise, I cannot imagine a technocrat putting fourth an argument that a single woman should have her children removed from the home; a widowed or abandoned father must remarry or have his children removed.

        What I’m suggesting here is that many technocrat arguments are really just the fodder of people who want to dictate to others and who are seeking authority to do that. If the good Christians of AZ, those who fear they might someday have to have an obvious gay family in their dining establishment, could find a good-sounding technocrat argument for that, they’d embrace it whole-heartedly.

        And if you don’t believe me, go look at the State’s arguments in Michigan.

        Michigan’s attorney general has said in court papers that the marriage amendment that voters adopted is rationally related to legitimate state interests and that marriage between one man and one woman is “uniquely suited to the rearing of children.”

        Source: http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/national_world/2014/02/26/michigan-marriage-ban-trial-starts.html

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • I don’t really disagree with anything you’ve said here. It just seems logical to me that if given the choice between allowing “experts” or “non-experts” on a given topic to inform decisions made on that topic, the former is the way to go. Now, you’d want to build all sorts of safeguards in and would need to address many of the questions you’ve risen. But it boggles my mind when people take the, “Who are we going to listen to? “The experts?”” approach. Yes. We should be listening to the experts. Not worshiping or kowtowing to them. But we should give their expertise greater weight than non-expertise.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • there’s a wealth of ‘expertise’ out there about the harms of same-sex parenting on children. (It was used on CA, it was supported in Russia as part of the ban on homosexual writing for children, and is being used in Michigan, see the above link; that’s what the Michigan AG is using to defend the state’s bans on gay marriage and gay couples adopting.)

        But the expertise is, to some great extent, junk science.

        Several states have passed bans on gay conversion therapy — that process supposedly used to turn gay children straight. A challenge to these bans would likely engage an expert or two, one that springs to mind would be Michelle Bachmann’s husband. Anyone who’s studied something, done some writing on something, can put themselves fourth as an expert. I’ll go dig up the history, but in the infamous Supreme Court case on creationism in the classroom, I’m sure the school district in the case had a creationism expert, too. There’s the small percentage of scientists who put themselves forward as experts that climate change is junk science.

        There is no license to get called ‘expert.’ All it really requires is some body of work in the topic; and it still falls to the court (or the policy makers) to determine if that expert is, indeed, an expert or a fraud in some way.

        And as Will pointed out above, the expert in nutrition might be recommending bad advice, like margarine is healthier then butter.

        What’s of real concern here is academic research funding, and probing if there’s some reason, due to that funding, to suspect bias in the expertise. If the expert’s paycheck comes on behalf of Christian pro-family groups, for instance, is there bias in his or her research? What about the expert on water quality who’s research is funded by companies who do natural-gas extraction? The biologist who testifies that antibiotics are necessary or meat production who’s research was funded by industrial pig farmers?

          Quote  Link

        Report

    • Populism is useful for identifying problems and clarifying people’s preferences. But it fails when attempting to find a solution. It’s a good idea for people to make clear why they’re unsatisfied with the status quo, but I would no more expect an untrained person to be able to design a good solution to a policy problem than I would expect them to able to design a functioning car or watch or computer.

      Conversely technocrats are good at designing solutions, but if left to their own devices can end up solving only the problems that they personally care about.

      Basically, populists should stick to the “what” of policy problems and technocrats should focus on the “how”.

        Quote  Link

      Report

    • Again agreed. I think the right of minorities to fully participate in economic and civil life free of discrimination trumps the freedom to discriminate.

      Thing is, I don’t think that that’s what’s actually at stake here. Discrimination against homosexuals happens, but to the best of my knowledge it does not occur to an extent that it would prevent the rights of homosexuals to participate fully in economic and civil life.

      Rather, it seems to me that the intent of these laws is to allow us to signal that we’re on the side of the angels and to punish people for being jerks and hurting gay people’s feelings.

      You used to live in Tokyo, right? It’s legal to discriminate against foreigners there, and some business owners choose to avail themselves of that right. Did this prevent you from participating fully in economic and civil life?

        Quote  Link

      Report

      • You used to live in Tokyo, right? It’s legal to discriminate against foreigners there, and some business owners choose to avail themselves of that right. Did this prevent you from participating fully in economic and civil life?

        the Korean community in Japan still very isolated and most of the Korean families have been residents of Japan for 100 years or longer. i doubt most westerners living in Japan have any desire to become fully integrated.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • You used to live in Tokyo, right? It’s legal to discriminate against foreigners there, and some business owners choose to avail themselves of that right. Did this prevent you from participating fully in economic and civil life?

        I live in Tokyo. I had to take time off work to house-hunt. Multiple times I would get to the lease-signing stage, only to learn that the apartment was no longer available. I eventually found a place to live, but I did feel that my full participation in economic and civil life was impinged somewhat by this legal discrimination.

          Quote  Link

        Report

  2. To be fair, Cooper is openly gay himself and therefore cannot reasonably be assumed to be objective on the subject.

    I am starting the stopwatch to see who’s the first commenter to scold you about this (I might already be too late). How about, “To be sure, as a gay man, Cooper is hardly a disinterested observer”? Or, do you even need this line?

      Quote  Link

    Report

  3. Re # 3 I agree with this post in general, but Freedom seems like a self-justifying concept that never has to measured against anything else. Not just by populists or Republicans either.

      Quote  Link

    Report

    • This seems to be more about a psychological limitation of being in a Democratic Republic perhaps.

      The United States has never been a monarchy. We were explicitly anti-monarchy in our founding. As such, there has never been a viable monarchist-aristocratic party like many European nations had during the 19th and into the 20th centuries. Every political party in the US has needed to describe themselves as being the true allies of liberty and freedom and perhaps the most die in the wool partisans in all parties really do believe they are the true allies and defenders of liberty and freedom.

      The difference being that there has always been substantial differences in how the left and right have defined liberty and freedom in various incarnations. The Puritans considered freedom the right to follow God’s Will and I think many on the social conservative right use this definition. The business community has always used freedom and liberty to go against regulations and oversight. Hence the right-wing opposition to the New Deal called themselves the Liberty League. The Left in the US has been a combination of civil libertarianism/individualism with economic equality balanced in.

      Only cranks like Peter Thiel wonder about whether we need less liberty and democracy. Though there is a probably doomed to failure Tea Party cause to repeal the direct election of Senators.

        Quote  Link

      Report

      • Only cranks like Peter Thiel wonder about whether we need less liberty and democracy.

        I read Thiel as drawing a distinction between liberty and democracy. I understand his argument to be that democracy has become corrosive to liberty. Whether or not he is right on the substance of his arugment, this is not a facially absurd distinction to make.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • Again this depends on what he means by liberty. As a liberal, my issue with many libertarians and conservatives is that they seem to think of liberty in almost exclusively economic/business terms. There is the right to conduct one’s business as one pleases and the right for minorities not to be discriminated against. I will take the right of minorities not to be discriminated against any day. I don’t see how this can make me an enemy of liberty but in conservative-libertarian world it does.

        What kind of government that is not a democracy can protect the liberty of minorities?

        Also this is pure crank:

        http://gawker.com/5231390/facebook-backer-wishes-women-couldnt-vote

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • Economic liberty is not only the right to conduct one’s own business as one sees fit. If that’s all it were, then I agree that other things should, and should often, trump it.

        Economic liberty is also about being able to make choices about what type of voluntary exchange one enters into and about what jobs one chooses or refuses to do. Even under that definition (my preferred definition), economic liberty, unchecked, can get out of hand. And sometimes, as you’d point out, it can work against the interests of people who are already marginalized.

        But keep in mind that some of the injustices minorities have faced have been denials of economic liberty. I’m thinking of criminal vagrancy laws or criminal breach of contract laws or red lining practices.

        Not all injustices minorities have faced are reducible to economic liberty, but I think we make a mistake to assume it’s usually economic liberty OR other types of liberty. Sometimes several different definitions of liberty can be mutually reinforcing. And sometimes, of course, they aren’t.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • What you say is true, the definition of liberty varies by ideology. And I agree that Thiels’ position on women is crankery.

        However, democracy is far from ideal as a defender of individual rights. Democracies naturally flatter the interests of the median voter, and that only leads away from discrimination if the median voter wants it to. I note that in Egypt the military may be a better custodian of the rights of non-Muslims than a democratically-elected government

          Quote  Link

        Report


      • What kind of government that is not a democracy can protect the liberty of minorities?

        A minority dominated authoritarian government.

        More pragmatically, though, it depends what kind of democracy we’re talking about. If you mean the kind called a constitutional republic, yes, that can protect minority rights. But the more democracy trumps constitutionalism, the less minority rights are protected.

        I can’t get you the cite right now, but there’s a good research article looking at initiatives and showing that those that impinged on minority rights were far more likely to pass than initiatives on average were. When the demos is dominated by the majority, why would you expect protection for the minority?

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • I lie, here’s the cite. “Putting Civil Rights to a Popular Vote,” Barbara S. Gamble.

        From the conclusion:

        I began this inquiry with one question: when citizens have the power to legislate civil rights issues directly, will the majority tyrannize the minority? After reviewing over three decades worth of civil rights initiatives and referenda, the answer is quite clear. Citizens in the political majority have repeatedly used direct democracy to put the rights of political minorities to a popular vote. Not only that, anti-civil rights initiatives have an extraordinary record of success: voters have approved over three-quarters of these, while endorsing only a third of all substantive measures. This pattern holds across all three decades and across all but one of the issue areas that I have investigated.

        (The one issue area that differed was initiatives targeting people with AIDS.)

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • Also this is pure crank

        Speaking in positive terms, he’s quite obviously correct. It’s fairly well documented that women are more interventionist than men. Curiously enough, this may be true even for so-called “women’s issues” like abortion. Many polls show men as being more pro-choice than women, although the difference is always small and possibly just a statistical fluke.

        Note that he did not say that we should restrict the franchise to men. He just observed that extending the franchise to women has resulted in more government intervention in the economy, which is pretty tough to dispute. Then he proposed some solutions, none of which had anything to do with restricting the franchise to men.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • He just observed that extending the franchise to women has resulted in more government intervention in the economy, which is pretty tough to dispute.

        The question here is if this is because women, in general, tend toward being more interventionist or if they’ve had enough experience with being treated as a minority to recognize the importance of intervention in creating more level playing fields.

        Remember: we live in a nation where one of women’s prime health concerns — their reproductive health — is still controversial when it comes to insurance used to pay for health care.

        From that perspective, ‘intervention,’ as a measure of a bad thing (which seems implied) might be viewed as a way of maintaining privilege, and for disadvantaged groups, an essential tool for gaining entry to the playing field.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • . He just observed that extending the franchise to women has resulted in more government intervention in the economy, which is pretty tough to dispute

        There’s a causal claim hiding in there. Does he provide real evidence for that or just rely on the correlation?

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • Brandon,

        I think there are enough other factors involved, sufficient social change since the ratification of the 19th Amendment, that the claim is probably over-simplistic.

        I teach my methods students to be wary of this kind of claim. It sounds so obvious that it’s very seductive, but what seems so obvious that it can’t be seriously questioned is not necessarily true.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • , calls for government intervention in the economy have existed decades before women received the right to vote in both the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Europe and elsewhere.

        In the United States, the government intervened in the economy to help businessmen during the Gilded Age through protective tariffs and union busting. The Progressive Era saw the government intervene to regulate business on behalf of the people. Both occurred before women received the right to vote. The era after women received the right to vote saw little government action in the economy except Prohibition.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • James:
        I guess. We can always posit that some sort of butterfly effect Changes Everything, but given the information that we have, the smart money’s on Thiel being correct. There’s also been some research on the topic. If you search for “government spending women’s suffrage” (no quotes) it should turn up a couple of papers on the first page.

        And really, let’s be honest: Thiel didn’t draw the ire of the left for attributing the growth of the welfare state to women’s suffrage, but for blaming the growth of the welfare state on women’s suffrage. If he had framed this as a good thing, most of those very same people would either be yawning or loudly agreeing with him.

        See Zic’s response above, for example.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • Lee:
        It’s not a binary choice between Libertopia and Sweden. The fact that there was government intervention in the economy before women could vote is beside the point and cannot be considered evidence against the proposition that women’s suffrage resulted in more government intervention in the economy. Obviously there were some kinds of intervention that were popular enough with men that they didn’t need any additional support from women. And there were some that were not.

        Also, keep in mind that women’s suffrage wasn’t just magically switched on. In the US, most states allowed women to vote by the time the 19th Amendment was ratified, and then there was a ramp-up period afterwards.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • I think we are at a divide and one that might not have comrpomise. You see intervention as something that impedes liberty and I disagree. In my mind, intervention is necessary to ensure or expand liberty especially civil rights and social liberty. Our concept of free speech was expanded by people willing to go to courts and fight for a more expansive interpretation of free speech or risk arrest and prison.

        The civil rights of minorities have been expanded through intervention and activism. See the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Fair Housing Act. If someone thinks such acts were anti-liberty, I am not sure what to say.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • Seriously, Brandon? I’m lmfao.

        Until after the Civil War, we didn’t really have an economy to interfere with. After, we spurted along with building railroads (govt. helped build that) and then had two world wars wipe out the economic centers in Europe. Then, we had a real economy, or what you call an economy, big enough that problems in it might trigger intervention. And you blame women voting? (Or do you just mean to imply that without, you know, actually saying it?)

        A little more recently, I can think of three women who wanted to intervene in the economy.

        First would be Brooksley Born, who wanted to regulate the black-box finance of synthetic derivatives.

        Then there was Elizabeth Warren, who wanted better financial protection for middle class families from the financial system.

        And there was Janet Yellen.

        Had we listened to those three women, had we intervened on their recommendations, we would have saved a world full of pain and stagnation, we might even suffering through McCain and Palin’s second term.

        Man, you are going to have to put some serious effort into gaining my respect back.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • Also, the fact that women are in general less bellicose and more likely to solve problems via negotiation is why the US has been involved in so few wars since 1920.

        As someone who has worked in fairly close proximity to the likes of Susan Rice, Samantha Power and Ann-Marie Slaughter, this gave me a bit of a chuckle.

          Quote  Link

        Report


      • I don’t see all intervention as liberty-impeding. Laws against theft and murder, for example, are government interventions, but I’m pretty keen on them. I just think that we have pretty much all the liberty-promoting ones covered, and at the margin most of the controversial ones are liberty-reducing.

        Restrictions on free speech are an example of liberty-reducing government interventions. I’m not sure what point you’re trying to make there. Maybe you mean that the Court striking down speech restrictions is an intervention by the courts? But that’s an intragovernmental intervention with the net result being the nullification of a liberty-restricting intervention.

        The various civil rights acts were a mixed bag. The federal government absolutely should step in and smack down state governments that are creating unconstitutional, discriminatory laws. But I don’t think that you, or I, or anyone else has the right to tell people what to do with their own property.

        That said, regulations prohibiting private discrimination are way, way down on my list of government abuses to be outraged about, because I can’t really see any way for them to do that much damage. I’m far more concerned about out-of-control spending, overregulation, price controls, taxes, perverse incentives, cronyism, the war on drugs, etc.

        The one area of antidiscrimination law that I do think has the potential to be a real problem is employment. Businesses rarely have compelling economic reasons to turn customers away, so the potential for false positives when it comes to racially discriminating against customers is fairly low. But businesses make hiring, firing, and promotion decisions all the time, so the potential for false positives is huge. This problem is aggravated by the Dunning-Kruger effect: Underperforming employees often don’t know that they’re underperforming, and may in perfectly good faith attribute adverse employment outcomes to racial discrimination.

        I really don’t want businesses getting dragged into court to defend perfectly legitimate personnel decisions, nor do I want them making personnel decisions based on how good they’ll look in a lawsuit rather than whether they’re the right business choice.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • It sounds so obvious that it’s very seductive

        I wouldn’t even remotely grant this about the claim in question. Plausible? yes. Obvious – even that it sounds obvious? Only if correlation basically always obviously seems like causation.

        If anything, I’d actually rate my considered estimation of the likelihood that women getting the franchise contributed significantly to a more interventionist economic policy as possibly slightly more likely than it even initially sounds like it would be by my reckoning. If that makes any sense. It doesn’t seem likely to be true to me, but it could well be. That’s my impression anyway.

          Quote  Link

        Report


      • Putting aside the empirical work mentioned above, why, specifically, do you think it unlikely that this is true? Is it because you don’t believe that the median woman is more economically interventionist than the median man, because you reject even a weak version of the median voter theorem, or for some other reason?

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • My basic intuition is that when women started voting they in large measure voted the way their husbands and parents did, resulting in little net change to policy. That’s very subject to disconfirmation by data, but that’s my initial “seems likely” posture.

        And then at some point along the way, it stops making sense to say that their getting the franchise “caused” anything, as it simply became status quo that they were voters. So if women today buttress the Democratic Party’s numbers resulting in somewhat more interventionist policy, to me it’s nonsensical to say that their getting the franchised is what “resulted in” that. Women are just voters now; it’s nonsensical to me to think of their votes today as being the “result” of suffrage.

          Quote  Link

        Report

  4. “It granted no additional freedoms to anyone, nor did it take any away”

    I’m not sure you have it right either. First, SB 1062 doesn’t mention homosexuality or gay rights at all, so mentioning that Arizona doesn’t ban discrimination on gays is a non-sequitor.

    IANL, but what the law actually seems to do is protect a person from laws that they disagree with if that disagreement is based substantially on religious belief. (relevant sections below). That seemingly allows discrimination based on race, sex or religion, as long as your objection is religiously based. And that is big change.


    7 B. Except as provided in subsection C, government OF THIS SECTION,
    8 STATE ACTION shall not substantially burden a person's exercise of religion
    9 even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability.
    10 C. Government STATE ACTION may substantially burden a person's
    11 exercise of religion only if it THE OPPOSING PARTY demonstrates that
    12 application of the burden to the person PERSON'S EXERCISE OF RELIGION IN THIS
    13 PARTICULAR INSTANCE is both:
    14 1. In furtherance of a compelling governmental interest.
    15 2. The least restrictive means of furthering that compelling
    16 governmental interest

    and defines “exercise of religion” as:


    8 2. "Exercise of religion" means the PRACTICE OR OBSERVANCE OF
    9 RELIGION, INCLUDING THE ability to act or refusal to act in a manner
    10 substantially motivated by a religious belief, whether or not the exercise is
    11 compulsory or central to a larger system of religious belief.

      Quote  Link

    Report

    • I am a lawyer and the problem with the Arizona statute as written is that everyone knew if the explicitly mentioned homosexuality, it would be bad optically and probably struck down. So this broad one leads to all sorts of insane but plausible hypotheticals like the Satanist who fires his Episcopalian employee.

        Quote  Link

      Report

    • Isn’t the mystery resolved by line 14 point 1? The claim there is that the party opposing any exercise of religion must demonstrate that restricting that free exercise must meet the burden of furthering a compelling state interest.

      Isn’t non-discrimination of gays a compelling state interest?

        Quote  Link

      Report

      • OK, that was too quick. It begs the question against the view you proposed.

        How bout this: As phrased, the law is formally non-discriminatory. Substantively, however, it’s entirely possible that certain types of religious practices which could cause harms to an “opposing party” (which is a really wonderful euphemism, btw) which satisfy the criteria for being a compelling state interest, ie, they’re discriminatory. That alone would mean the law as written is too broad since it would permit practices which might otherwise be prohibited. But as an empirical matter, there is evidence that certain types of religious practices actually are discriminatory, which is a compelling state interest.

        It’s actually a pretty clever line of argument, it seems to me.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • It’s not clear to me that this is a “compelling” interest on par with, say, protecting the country from invasion, or preservation of human life.

        It might be, but I actually kind of doubt it. It is more likely an “important” state interest, triggering a different series of legal tests.

          Quote  Link

        Report

    • Two things:

      1. Mentioning gay rights is hardly a non-sequitor; the law was written specifically to address gay people.

      2. It doesn’t matter if AZ passes a law that says its OK to discriminate based on race, religion or sex — in the same way it doesn’t matter if Portland’s city council makes a city ordinance that you can own other people.

      State and local laws don’t trump federal law, and they sure as hell don’t trump the US constitution or 200+ years of constitutional case law. So regardless of what AZ-SB 1062 says, it doesn’t actually grant the giving and/or taking away of those rights – it can’t, by definition.

        Quote  Link

      Report

      • I admit this is a small point, but I stand by my objections. (Its a quirk: one way to push me to one side of an argument is to make a bad argument for the other side)

        1. Your opening assertion in Point 1 was:

        AZ-SB1062 existed for no real reason other than social and political signaling. It granted no additional freedoms to anyone, nor did it take any away.

        And then you proceeded to point out the current lack of protection to gays and lesbians, seemingly in support of that. But the law is not specific to gays, or any group. So in what way can that observation be relevant to that assertion? That is what makes it seem a non-sequitor. Especially since your argument actually supports a different: “It granted no additional freedoms to anyone to discriminate against gays and lesbians“. Which I suspect is really where you where coming from.

        2. Really? It doesn’t matter at all? I have to suspect you were just indulging in a little “putting the lurker in his place” rhetoric with that comment. But I’ll bite. Even in your Portland hypothetical (assuming it wasn’t a piece of performance art), I would at least want everyone who voted on such a bill recalled and hopefully permanently shamed from further public office. Wouldn’t you?
        And in general, you really arguing that there is no reason to be concerned if a local authority passes a egregious law that conflicts with Federal precedent? Especially if the local executive and judicial branches are ready and willing to enforce that law while the issue winds itself through the ever-so-quick appellate process? That is a more trusting attitude about the coercive powers of the state than I expect on a libertarian leaning blog.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • But the law is not specific to gays, or any group. So in what way can that observation be relevant to that assertion?

        The people that argued for Proposition 8 asserted that it was a defense of marriage since gays weren’t mentioned either. The findings of fact in Perry v Schwarzenegger were more than conclusive in showing that proponents of Prop 8 used stereotypes of gays from mental illness to child molestation to being part of Satan’s grand plans.

        Motive can’t be ignored.

        Especially if the local executive and judicial branches are ready and willing to enforce that law while the issue winds itself through the ever-so-quick appellate process?

        Can’t a federal judge block its enforcement? Didn’t that happen with Arizona’s immigration bill?

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • Dave (how you do add neat “@” citations?)

        I have no reason to doubt that that motives are legally relevant to findings of discrimination. But I just arguing the much smaller (and less and less interesting) point that motive isn’t relevant to Tod’s stated Point #1. I.e. that the law didn’t grant any new rights. Manifestly it did.

        And yes, I suspect appeals courts can work quickly if they so desire. But it would depend on the circuit court wouldn’t it? I’ve heard the 5th Circuit characterized as the most conservative of the current Circuit courts.

        But I do grant that I think/hope that laws like this are so over the top that they wouldn’t last long enough to do much damage.

          Quote  Link

        Report

    • Peter,

      First, SB 1062 doesn’t mention homosexuality or gay rights at all, so mentioning that Arizona doesn’t ban discrimination on gays is a non-sequitor.

      I don’t think it would take much digging to determine the intent of the bill especially since the bill addresses the failings in the defense Elaine Photography put forth in their case. No one will see this as a coincidence.

      IANL, but what the law actually seems to do is protect a person from laws that they disagree with if that disagreement is based substantially on religious belief.

      Yes and that’s what seems to be wrong with it. It treats the rights of conscience equally with the right of free exercise in the sense of practicing religion. A person can freely practice religion every which way imaginable and now a simple burden on those BELIEFS now violates free exercise?

      If a law like this faced a federal anti-discrimination law with protection based on sexual orientation, it would not pass the Sherbert test since the Sherbert test seems to require a burden on the practice or religion.

        Quote  Link

      Report

      • We answered the question of “nullification” back in the civil war and again numerous times between 1940 and 1970.

        The answer to the question of nullification is that the federal government will assert its supremacy over state law if and only if those in control choose to do so. Colorado and Washington are currently attempting nullification of federal laws against marijuana, and they seem to be succeeding.

        The wrong wing lost that argument then too.

        I can tell your clever wordplay that you’re an exceptionally thoughtful and intelligent person.

          Quote  Link

        Report

  5. I agree with #1, but I thought of something as I read it, in particular when I read this passage:

    In the state of Arizona (except for in a few municipalities), if you want to discriminate against a gay man or a lesbian couple it is your legal right. LGBTs have no legal protections in that state. If you find out a guy who works in your factory is gay and you want to fire him simply for being a “f***ot,” it is your right. You need not prove that a “sincere religious belief” is your reason for doing so.

    I bolded the portion I did because that makes the AZ bill sound similar (not identical, but similar) to the one struck down in Romer v. Evans. That CO law (Amendment 2) specifically targeted local ordinances that banned discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. And if I understand correctly (I never read the opinion), the notion that anti-gay animus was behind Amendment 2 was one reason the court struck it down.

    In AZ, apparently, the scope of some local ordinances might have been limited by the bill (if it had been signed), as long as the discriminator could cite some good faith religious reason for their decision to discriminate. And it seems at least arguable that anti-gay animus was behind passage of the bill, regardless of whether the bill itself mentioned sexual orientation.

    I’m not, by the way, saying that it would have been a slam dunk to prove animus, and I’m not even sure how courts go about determining animus in the first place. I’m saying only that the signalling Tod mentions is a signalling of at least a layperson’s definition of animus.

      Quote  Link

    Report

  6. I’m amused by Melvin’s insistence that nobody discriminates against anyone in Arizona, even to the point of saying he doesn’t think anyone would ever be fired for being gay.

    So if nobody in AZ would ever do anything that would be protected by this bill, why is the bill so important to him.

    Pro-tip for the “video is tl/dw” crowd. Just start at 9:50.

      Quote  Link

    Report

      • No, James, I hadn’t listened to it. I will.

        What I wrote may be wrong but it’s based on the rationale I’ve heard: that it’s intended to circumvent the types of lawsuits that occurred in New Mexico where a wedding photographer was sued for refusing to take photos of a gay couple.

        Off to listen to the embed.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • Wow. Devastating.

        First, there’s something absolutely wonderful about knowing that Gay AC is the interviewer here. That added lots of spice. (I wonder if Melvin knew???)

        Second, I love the incredibly long pause right after AC asks “if a person gets fired from their job in AZ for being gay, is that discrimination?” The long pause was the best part of his answer since everything he said after that did more harm to his argument than good.

        Third, I don’t think Melvin actually knows what the purpose of the SB 1026 is, and how it’s (ostensibly) an antidote to discrimination complaints, and because of that he let AC pull him right into the discrimination side of the debate which he simply couldn’t win.

        Very interesting exchange.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • You could almost see his brain freezing up during that long pause.

        Oh absolutely. That “oh shit” moment when the red lights and sirens of imminent DOOM short circuiting normal mental functions. I’m just amazed that in his team didn’t prep him for probably the most obvious question he might have to respond to. Incredible.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • Cooper does say a couple of questionable things. First, that the New Mexico situation doesn’t apply because there are no same-sex weddings in Arizona. There are none that have the force of law, but I’m sure there are still religious or ceremonial ones, complete with photographs and cakes. Second, he hypothesizes that this law would allow a bank officer to refuse to lend money to a divorced woman. So far as I know, that’s already legal, since divorced people are not a protected class.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • Nah, I’m wrong. Cooper did a great job. Just, the first time I watched it, I thought it was an interview. I didn’t realize that Cooper was running for office against Melvin. And that Melvin was on trial, and Cooper was the prosecutor. And Melvin had just shot Cooper’s dog. Cooper was totally appropriate, now that I understand the context.

          Quote  Link

        Report

    • Melvin comes off badly,

      Yeah, he does. I’m always amazed when people in positions of power willingly confront the nation to argue a bill or policy that they are simply incapable of articulating and defending. Whether it’s out of ignorance, laziness or stupidity, I of course don’t know. But it never ceases to amaze.

        Quote  Link

      Report

    • Yeah, the definition of populist matters.

      Melvin is against the expansion of Medicaid in AZ because it violates free market principles. If “populist” means helping the people matters more than other principles, he ain’t close to populist in the same sense that left wing (and some centrist D’s) are populist.

      If “populist” means unwilling to accept or even listen to basic consensus from academics, scientists, and mainstream journalists about their various expertises, then Melvin is definitely that. But a better word than “populist” here would be ignoramus or fool. But that would be biased.

      Both sides do the bad populism thing, you see.

        Quote  Link

      Report

  7. Argh!:

    “Further, that even though populist movements are both more fun and more seductive in their siren call than boring old wonky, policy-oriented, get-the-trains-moving-on-time “public officials” from either party, they inevitably lead to intellectual bankruptcy.

    If you’re going to say this, you need a non-vacuous and broad definition of populism (you didn’t provide it) and you need to have a very good reason for not distingushing different types of populist, some of which might not be guilty of “inevitably” (pretty strong claim of necessity here, even if I accept you are being a bit hyperboliv) leading to intellectually bankruptcy.

    For example, are academic, analytic Marxists -who are against the wealthy elites- populists? I’d say yes. Are anti-monarchist movements populist? Again, yes. Are pro democratic uprisings in the Arab world populist? Sometimes yes.

    If your claim is just that anti-technocrat, anti-academic types (a small subset of populists) eventually end up intellectually bankrupt, I’d agree. Indeed, they define themselves and start off as intellectually bankrupt.

    But don’t try to smear left-leaning populists who want to elevate the power of technocrats, academics, artists, and the like while minimizing the wealth and power gap between the oligarchic elites and the plain old people, i.e. the 1% and the 99%.

    A lefty in favor of egalitarianism is populist, but not anti-intellectual and his movement will not end up intellectually bankrupt. A reactionary righty -who hates “egg heads” and east cost intellectuals and thinks professors are part of a massive conspiracy to pass of global warming as no a myth- started off and will end up intellectually bankrupt.

      Quote  Link

    Report

      • Is it possible, though, that you might be wrong? That the danger is indeed inherent in the left-of-center populism you endorse? I’m not saying you have to cede the roost, but do left-wing populist movements never go wrong? That there is no possibility that even a movement with the best intentions might descend into the intellectual bankruptcy Tod is warning against?

        For me, someone who does not acknowledge that possibility is someone very difficult to speak with. They are so sure of their rightness that any disagreement becomes not just disagreement, but treason to justice.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • Pierre,

        It is possible that Big Bird is the one who killed OJ’s ex wife. Sure it is possible that left wing populist movements will lead to intellectual bankruptcy.

        But the burden of proof is on the person who said that it is inevitable that populist movement’s will do so while only sighting one example of one type of such movement. And that type is avowedly anti-intellectual, while the other type is often composed of intellectuals and valorizes them.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • I partially agree with you, at least when it comes to ascertaining probative burdens in respect to assertions about inevitability. So fine, the burden is on the one who’s claiming inevitability. But I do think focusing too much on that one word throws out the hyperbolous baby with the bathwater of, “there but for the praxis of Marx go any of us.”

        For the record, I’m not sure I’d say populist movements “inevitably” lead to intellectual bankruptcy, although one way to read Tod’s statement is that he’s saying they do. If it’s not inevitable, however, I do suggest that populists movements are pulled in that direction and that their leaders and membership have to work mighty hard against that. I do at any rate think my question deserves a little better than the big bird quip.

          Quote  Link

        Report

    • For example, are academic, analytic Marxists -who are against the wealthy elites- populists? I’d say yes.

      in order to be a populist you need to have popular support, Marxist have never had popular support; what’s more marxist hate the masses and believe that they a suffering from “false consciousness”

      A reactionary righty -who hates “egg heads” and east cost intellectuals and thinks professors are part of a massive conspiracy to pass of global warming as no a myth- started off and will end up intellectually bankrupt.

      funny how you oppose that but support people who hate nerds enough to throw rocks at them when they move into the neighborhood.

        Quote  Link

      Report

      • Shaz, personally, I don’t think anyone in those countries would phrase their policy the way you just did. The rich pay more in taxes, yes, but the purpose of implementing that policy isn’t to soak the rich. I mean, if you think that, you’re waaaay out on the leftward side of things, it seems to me.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • And what’s the claim here, to soak the rich full stop? Like, out of spite or something? Or to soak the rich to achieve some goal, like the dissolution of economic classes, or private ownership of the wassnames? Or is it to progressively tax people to fund the necessary functions of government?

          Quote  Link

        Report

    • i.e. the 1% and the 99%.

      yesterday you said you didn’t believe in this distinction and that computer programmers making 80K were evil and a legitimate target for protest; today you’re saying it’s the 1% vs. the 99%. did you change your mind in the last 36 hours

        Quote  Link

      Report

      • There is a distinction between the two, if the inequality movement is in fact about reducing the incomes the super rich 1% and increasing everyone else’s pay then I support it. If its hipsters complain about computer nerds making a cool neighborhood boring then I want nothing to do with. When people talk 99% one day and side with hipsters against nerds the next it makes me want nothing to do with the entire thing.

          Quote  Link

        Report

    • Shaz, I’d go a different direction here. Why is intellectual bankruptcy a bad thing? People want what they want, no? The policy wonks want a technocratic elite to determine policy; the pure populist wants his coalition to determine policy. There’s a place for both, it seems to me, since without the two of ’em governance either wouldn’t be democratic or it wouldn’t make any fucking sense. As it is, it’s an easily criticizable mix but still the least worst option out there.

        Quote  Link

      Report

    • For example, are academic, analytic Marxists -who are against the wealthy elites- populists?

      Strange choice to defend against the charge of intellectual vacuacy.

      But don’t try to smear left-leaning populists

      False equivalency again?

      Boy, this past week at the OT has just been a whole smorgasbord of left/liberal defensiveness. Apparently there aren’t any legitimate critiques of any kind against that side of the political spectrum. It must feel awful good to be so ideal.

        Quote  Link

      Report

      • Apparently there aren’t any legitimate critiques of any kind against that side of the political spectrum. It must feel awful good to be so ideal.

        Sure there are. Lots of lefty policies can be criticized. Lefty populism can surely be criticized if the motivation is something like “soak the rich”. Hell, I’ll be in the front of the line.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • As a member of the revolutionary collective known as “liberals”, we need to keep our institutionally determined motivations secret as best we can, James. We’re awaiting a signal from Leader to implement Operation Full Takeover of Everything That Matters at any moment.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • “Further, even though libertarianism is more fun and more exciting to teenage boys and those stuck in mental adolescence than boring old wonky, policy-oriented, realism, libertarianism inevitably leads to intellectual bankruptcy of the sort displayed by gold bugs, conspiracy theorists, and racist readers of ron Paul’s newsletter.”

        That wouldn’t make you defensive at all.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • I believe that the criticism “not REALLY liberal/leftist” is gaining traction these days.

        Not that I’ve seen. People are pretty happy to call themselves liberals. I think the problem (I’ll include the now obligatory “- and I don’t mean this defensively” clarification which only confirms my inherent defensiveness) is when some who’s not a liberal – someone like yourself, for example – says “Jane Hamsher said the most outrageous fucking thing. Liberals are exactly the same as the Tea Party.”

        Here, I’ll ask you a question: if someone were to do this, what would be the criteria for determining that Jane Hamsher’s beliefs and practices inform you in anyway about my beliefs and practices?

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • Remember Shazbot, I’m a liberal myself, not a libertarian. You’re the guy who told me that repeatedly.

        Anyway, you fished up the quote. Tod didn’t say liberalism led to intellectual bankruptcy, so your analogy fails with a bang. There is populist libertarianism, and guess what I think that leads to?

        And with that, I’ll give you the last word.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • So when you defend libertarianism, you’re just being defensive and not accepting that there are legitimate criticisms. Got it.

        In my observation, sometimes he gets defensive when people try to play the FYIGM card or some such. In my experience, however, as well as other observations, I find that he engages substantive criticisms, concedes when concession is called for, and even goes out of his way to praise and defend what he sees as well-made arguments from people with whom he has in the past disagreed vehemently. (See the recent “parody” post.)

        However, none of that really matters. Even if he were a hyperdefensive SOB who insists only on his own righteousness, that doesn’t mean liberals never do that. I doesn’t mean you never do that. It doesn’t mean I never do that. If the argument is about what x does, then to say that y does it too is no counterargument.

          Quote  Link

        Report

    • A lefty in favor of egalitarianism is populist, but not anti-intellectual and his movement will not end up intellectually bankrupt.

      To give an example, I think Elizabeth Warren’s shtick is a good example of intellectually bankrupt left-wing populism.

        Quote  Link

      Report

      • To give an example, I think Elizabeth Warren’s shtick is a good example of intellectually bankrupt left-wing populism.

        how is Warren’s populism intellectually bankrupt? Her positions seem to have some thought behind them even if i sometimes disagree with them.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • You might be right, but the word “shtick” in quotations is relevant. She might be populistically pandering to the proles, but she’s also smart enough to argue her views if she has to. And maybe politically smart enough not to.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • To give an example, several months back, some video with her comparing the Federal Reserve discount rate to student loan rates went viral, complaining that proposed student loans rates were ten times higher. What she either didn’t know or disingenuously omitted—neither of which is remotely defensible—is that:

        1. The discount window is rarely used because it charges an above-market rate. At the time it was 0.75% compared to the 0.25% that banks charged each other for overnight loans.

        2. Discount-window loans are very well collateralized and very short-term, and thus have essentially no risk of default. Loans made through the discount window are profitable, contrary to Warren’s claims that they were a giveaway to banks.

        3. Short-term rates are not comparable to long-term rates, especially when short-term rates are at extremely low levels. At the time, one-month US treasury notes were yielding 0.03%—1/25th of the discount rate, and as little as 1/100th of the yield on 10-year treasury notes.

        And her “you didn’t build that” rant was even worse than Obama’s. (She didn’t actually say “you didn’t build that,” but it was the same basic idea).

        Whether she actually believes her own demagoguery is unclear. But it definitely is intellectually bankrupt populism.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • i viewed her statement about the discount rate as rhetorical device not a serious proposal .
        i’m not sure what was wrong about her “you didn’t build that speech” the reaction to it demonstrates how clueless conservative born between 1930 and 1970 are; they benefited from the extensive cold war era welfare state then act like they’re self made.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • Stillwater: Do you have a link? I’d like to see Warren saying something intelligent just for the novelty factor.

        dand: I’ll have to look it up to refresh my memory of the details, off the top of my head the major fallacies were:

        1. Conflation of welfare spending and infrastructure spending.
        2. Pretending like the benefits of infrastructure spending accrue solely to the rich (e.g., roads are a giveaway to owners of businesses who use them, but not to their employees or customers)
        3. Accusing the rich of not appreciating the infrastructure “we” provide when the rich are in fact the ones who pay the taxes to fund it.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • Stillwater: Do you have a link?

        Actually, no. I watched some of her arguments re: the consumer protection bureau and TARP and the mortgage crisis but none of those show her expressing the wonky intellectualism you’re accusing her of lacking. So I’ll concede that you’re correct on that score.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • Shaz, Don’t get me wrong. I think she’s really smart. I’m just not gonna spend any real effort trying to disabuse Brandon of his views that she’s not she’s not smart in the particular way he’s focusing on.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • I might go so far as to suggest that, amongst certain crowds, law journals would be suspect in general, particularly since a our president once edited one.

        Publishing in one would be evidence of that certain something that helps define the negative space of not-Obama.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • I think Stillwater’s earlier touched on it correctly. Warren isn’t dumb and isn’t intellectually bankrupt, but she does have a shtick that appeals to emotion and intuition but at least sometimes doesn’t stand up to thoughtful scrutiny…

        I don’t know. I read that she was supportive of the idea that the Post Office can get into the payday lending business. On that note alone, I tend to side with Brandon.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • Yes, Warren’s yet-to-be-cited “schtick” that apparently slightly simplifies of liberal and leftist economic philosophy is just like Palin, Bachman, Bush, Perry, etcetera.

        I seriously think you’re joking.

        Both sides have anti-intellectuals! Think about that before you talk. One side has a respected, well published anti-intellectual from Harvard, whose R opponent tried to belittle her by calling her “professor,” and the other side has a homophobe from AZ who may or may not be demonstrating signs of oxygen deprivation during interviews.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • Here’s Fresh Air, with Neil deGrasse-Tyson. Toward the end, he talks about communicating, and how he works at how to do it well. He gets that part of it is the timing. Toward the end, he talks about preparing to be on The Daily Show; he timed Stewart, found out the frequency of you-get-to-talk, and then Stewart interrupts with a funny comeback and a question, and then he practices putting the things he wants to say into a rhythm that matches the frequency of Stewart’s cycleing.

        The whole segment of the interview is worth listening to; communicating complex ideas well takes a tremendous amount of effort, and about cultural biases in acknowledging how different people get recognized for the effort they put in (Jordan = talent/Bird = effort).

        Warren’s spent her life studying middle class issues, she’s put in the effort; she has mastery of her subject matter. This quite frightens people who’ve been hard at work redistributing wealth up away from the middle class. Discredit they, dismiss they will, for the best defense is a good offense.

        Warren’s got her work cut out for her; she’s playing point guard on communicating income inequality. I hope she follows deGrasse-Tyson’s advice, and studies Stewart for some cues on timing and sizing her bites of information.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • Dave, here’s Warren’s picture of how and why the post office could get involved. I don’t think it’s crazy or stupid. In fact, I think the presupposition that merely mentioning this sort of thing counts as evidence of stoopidity seems a bit … uh …. well… you know.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • “3. Accusing the rich of not appreciating the infrastructure “we” provide when the rich are in fact the ones who pay the taxes to fund it.”
        Sincere question here: Is infrastructure funded entirely, or mainly, by income taxes? Do sales taxes, corporate taxes, etc., fund any infrastructure spending?

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • I didn’t say she’s intellectually bankrupt. For all I know, she’s a genius. But her political rhetoric is intellectually bankrupt populist claptrap. And yes, Both Sides Do It. But I was specifically responding to your claim that this isn’t an issue on the left. And Warren is an example I find particularly annoying because of the grossly unwarranted adulation she receives for her inane rants, which inevitably make their way onto my Facebook feed, severely endumbening it.

        Oh, look! Here she is demonstrating (or feigning) ignorance of the distinction between average and marginal productivity. Not that the guys she’s grilling come off looking any better.


        So we’re clear, then, that Both Sides do in fact Do It?


        Taxes generally aren’t earmarked for specific programs (other than FICA taxes, kind of), so I guess basically what you’re asking is what percentage of total revenues come from each kind of taxes. It varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. At the federal level it’s mostly FICA and personal income taxes, with corporate income taxes being about 10-15%. At the state level it’s some combination of income, sales, and property taxes, although several states lack at least one of those taxes.

        I should correct myself. I said that the rich are “the ones” who pay the taxes to fund infrastructure, but obviously they don’t pay for all of it. What I meant was that they pay taxes disproportionate to their use of infrastructure and government services, i.e., they’re subsidizing lower- and middle-class taxpayers, not the other way around.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • I don’t have a strong opinion on postal banking, but I’m very skeptical of the simultaneous assertion that:

        1. Banks don’t want to service the low-income segment of the population because it’s not profitable, and
        2. This is going to be profitable for the Post Office.

        I guess you can tell a story where the Post Office has some efficiency gains because they already have offices in those locations, but I would not bet on it being profitable.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • In fact, I think the presupposition that merely mentioning this sort of thing counts as evidence of stoopidity seems a bit … uh …. well… you know.

        Stupid. Yes, of course, but seeing as I don’t have a track record of making these kinds of comments and am well aware that people like you would call me out if I did, do you think I’d say that without at least having the ability to back myself up? C’mon. Give me some credit.

        To be fair, the reason I won’t do it now (at least extensively) is because I have a half-written post on this very issue. I read the USPS white paper. On the issue of credit services, it was more than underwhelming. The idea is stupid for a number of reason and Senator Warren talking about how the banks can partner with the USPS almost made me spit coffee.

        Not only can the banks do banking themselves but the presumption that banks can partner with a partner that adds absolutely no value (sorry, the USPS doesn’t) is the epitome of stupid to someone that works in a business where we do capital raises for joint ventures. Both sides have to bring value to the table.

        (edited by me – sorry if you saw the unedited version – it was as you would say – stoooooooopid)

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • I guess you can tell a story where the Post Office has some efficiency gains because they already have offices in those locations, but I would not bet on it being profitable.

        It’s not a good story. It’s not like the banks couldn’t re-open closed branches (assuming they own the real estate) or set up a small payday lending operation in a 3,000 square foot or less space in a strip center or commercial property. Under-served markets should have pretty high vacancy rates so finding space won’t be an issue.

        As it is, one of the things that the Post Office will have to do is look at these spaces and see if they’re large enough and appropriately built out to handle both mail and lending services. I’ll go back through the white paper when I complete my post but it seemed as if this plan was being sold on the basis that the existing locations could keep overhead costs for this down. I’m not so sure this is the case. I don’t know what the numbers would be but there will be capital costs and probably additional overhead to the extent the Post Office needs to expand into more space to do this.

        In theory, the best thing it could do, if it is allowed to do it, is acquire an existing payday lender. In practice, this probably won’t work since they’ll end up overpaying relative to the interest rates they would end up charging. They’d lose their ass.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • Wait…I think I know the author of that post. ;)

        I don’t know why I didn’t pick up on that sub-thread before, but I’ll be covering it as soon as I can complete my post. As I told , I’ve been through the USPS white paper and have a half-written draft. Given some personal things on this end, I haven’t been able to finish.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • Warren’s spent her life studying middle class issues, she’s put in the effort; she has mastery of her subject matter. This quite frightens people who’ve been hard at work redistributing wealth up away from the middle class. Discredit they, dismiss they will, for the best defense is a good offense.

        This is an interesting comment in that it does a lot of work to try and insulate Warren, in advance, of any possible criticisms that someone might have of her work.

        “You have a criticism of Elizabeth Warren? Oh, you must bee one of those frightened oligarchs trying to oppress the middle class.”

        This is also an interesting thread in that raised a concrete example of Warren engaging in a particular brand of left-wing populism and laid out a thorough case as to why it is fairly vacuous to compare student loan rates to the Fed discount window rate. It’s the kind of thing that makes for very share-able Facebook posts, but for terrible lawmaking. If we cannot call that populism, then I guess the word doesn’t have any meaning at all. And it may not be entirely precise to call Warren and her corner of the progressive world anti-intellectual, as this sort of thing is more pseudo-intellectual, but the results are the same.

        At this point, I have to ask those arguing against Brandon, what would sway you? How high is the bar to get over before you admit that progressives like Warren do, in fact, engage in a form of not-very-intellectual populism, that is primarily meant to appeal to people’s innate lefty sensibilities as opposed to swaying with sound arguments? It seems an awful lot like there is no bar and, rather, you are defending a tautological worldview in which the left can never be criticized for being populist, because… “well, because we are right!”

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • In the context of a proposal to double (allow the doubling) of student loan rates, I don’t think it’s intellectually bankrupt to set the context for that by pointing out other kinds of rates that institutions pay. Not to talk about the reason they are different is certainly less than full payment on an intellectual promise, but I wouldn’t call it bankruptcy. Intellectual default, maybe. But that’s a purely interpretive question regarding an imprecise term.

        So, to @j-r’s question, the issue is that the criticism as initially lodged centered around 1) a meaningless charge because based on an undefinable term, and 2) an implausible one. What’s intellectual bankruptcy? Never saying an intellectual defensible thing? I would actually say yes, but someone else might say, no, indeed when you’ve said one egregiously indefensible thing, you’ve arrived at intellectual bankruptcy. Who’s to say who’s correct? And is every populist movement inevitably headed there? Who’s to say? If it’s the first definition, unlikely, as surely some populists movements will manage to continue to make some defensible claims. If the latter.. of course, because every political movement of any kind will eventually make some. If something in between… well, inevitability seems unlikely.

        The point is that policy advocates of all stripes should respond to criticisms like, “progressives like Warren do, in fact, engage in a form of not-very-intellectual populism, that is primarily meant to appeal to people’s innate lefty sensibilities as opposed to swaying with sound arguments.” But for them to do that, such criticisms need to be well-formed like that one was from the outset, not backfilled as such when the initial claim is something like, “even though populist movements are both more fun and more seductive[…] they inevitably lead to intellectual bankruptcy,” with its claim about an outcome that is both inevitable and undefinable. Poorly formed critiques like that invite and justify simple rejection, ridicule, or just inattention.

        All sides should be responsive to well-formed criticism – it’s useful for everyone. Therefore, people inclined to criticize should do it in well-formed terms that allow and compel thoughtful response (and possibly concession of the point).

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • …Shorter me:

        Everyone should admit that, at least at times, “progressives like Warren do, in fact, engage in a form of not-very-intellectual populism, that is primarily meant to appeal to people’s innate lefty sensibilities as opposed to swaying with sound arguments.” Absolutely.

        As alluded to, of course, whether they should say that this is some kind of first- or even second-order sin in political argumentation [Edit: or whether it amounts to intellectual bankruptcy] is another matter entirely.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • ,
        (Jordan = talent/Bird = effort).

        I can’t believe I’m saying this to you, of all people, but that is a racist trope that relies on the stereotype of the smart white guy who overcomes his physical limitations and the lazy dumb negro who gets by on his physical talent. In fact Bird was tremendously talented and Jordan was plenty smart and one of the hardest working guys in basketball.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • , I thought that was obvious; it was certainly how deGrasse-Tyson used it in the show, and I was simply indicating the other stuff included in that segment — a discussion on how much effort he puts in to communicating complex ideas; that he doesn’t just have this natural talent for it.

        To me, it mattered because much the talk about here of Warren isn’t about her actual heft, it’s about equating a couple of failures at communicating complex ideas about how the economy functions with regards to middle/lower-middle income families. She’s not given credit as an intellectual who’s put in effort, she’s presumed to be a populist without that effort based on a few analogies in an attempt to explain complex economic ideas.

        It’s really easy to cherry-pick a couple of poorer examples and use them to discredit everything she says. It’s not so easy to see a broader context that what she’s attempting — point guard on communicating income inequality — is something that requires enormous effort. I’m suggesting that she needs to work on her timing as deGrasse-Tyson worked on his; there’s a form and rhythm to conveying complex information successfully.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • what I’m trying to get at is Tod’s point #3 — that in the SSM debate, social conservatives are being asked to give up freedoms. This is an idea that deserves serious consideration. Brandon took it to women voting as a form of giving up economic freedom. Framed so, it becomes a question of does the expansion of freedoms to some groups serve seriously limit the freedoms of others, and is that a good or a bad thing?

        Brandon’s point seemed to be that women voting = more economic intervention, and this was bad. First, I’m not convinced that the correlation works, there were too many other complex things happening in the economy of the US. But even if what he’s suggesting is true, women are more interventionist, I don’t necessarily agree that this is a bad thing, and viewing it as simply a bad thing is simply a way of maintaining entrenched power, something that should be pushed on and challenged; that pushing and challenging entrenched power is a hallmark of a free market and economic freedom, in fact.

        Bringing it back to SSM, there’s Douthat’s column in the NYT today, much of it bemoaning the wolves at the gates of marriage. But then we get this:

        I am being descriptive here, rather than self-pitying. Christians had plenty of opportunities — thousands of years’ worth — to treat gay people with real charity, and far too often chose intolerance. (And still do, in many instances and places.) So being marginalized, being sued, losing tax-exempt status — this will be uncomfortable, but we should keep perspective and remember our sins, and nobody should call it persecution.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • Brandon’s statement had two parts, one as a statement of fact (or something close to it) and the other as more of a statement of perspective.

        I find it difficult to argue against the notion that giving women the right to vote did involve a more interventionist government. I haven’t read the big study on the subject, but it does at least purport to look at state suffrage over time rather than just national suffrage. To be perfectly honest, I doubt that if it had been brought up in another context – or by somebody else – that many liberals would actually disagree all that much and would, as Brandon says, cite it as a good thing.

        Whether it is a good thing or a bad thing – that we have a more interventionist economy, I mean, as I don’t think Brandon seeks to deny women that right – is a matter of perspective and ideology. But it’s a different question than whether women affected the electoral landscape in an economy with more government intervention.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • An important question is “how much of your offense puts a moral obligation on me?”

        If we agree that offense is, in itself, important (and I’ve had conversations with folks (ON BOTH SIDES SO BOTH SIDES DO IT) that argue that it is, in itself, harm), then we’re stuck trying to address issues of how to best deal with others being offended.

        It’s pretty easy for me to say “your being offended is a ‘you problem'” but, then, it would be, wouldn’t it?

        But I really can’t think of a better response to a guy complaining about two gay guys getting married in a Unitarian Church somewhere.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • — No. But on the other hand, intersex conditions are a different sort of thing from transgender identities. The trans and intersex political communities have some overlap, but in the end we are very different have different interests.

        It does not surprise me that a Fox announcer would be totally ignorant of intersex issues. It also does not surprise me they would walk their comments back once it was explained. This has little to do with me, however. I am not intersexed.

          Quote  Link

        Report

  8. The social conservatives who back AZ-SB 1062 are actually right. Granting freedom to LGBTs does hamper people’s religious freedom.

    The more I read up on this, especially the actual text of the bill, the more I’m inclined to think it’s getting closer to attaining a balance between freedom of religious exercise and non-discrimination. It seems to me the purpose of the bill is to reverse the normal burden of proof in resolving these types of conflicts such that the presumption is that religious liberty must be defeated by arguments meeting two pretty tough conditions (compelling state interest and least restrictive means) before restrictions on that liberty can generally apply. So in that sense, I don’t agree with Burt and Dave that the law had no purpose above signalling. I think it was an attempt to establish religious liberty as being a primary liberty which could only be defeated by meeting a burden of proof.

      Quote  Link

    Report

    • I should add, I could be wrong about that. :) The bill strikes me as trying to entrench a really broad conception of religious liberty which in practice would permit lots of actions which might otherwise be viewed as discriminatory full stop.

        Quote  Link

      Report

    • To me the “compelling state interest” and “least restrictive means” is simply a statutory declaration of judicial precedent that says impositions on the free exercise of religion have to survive strict scrutiny.

      Or maybe. Again, I’m no lawyer. Are laws that somehow restrict the free exercise of religion in the same class as, say, laws that restrict political speech? I just assumed so, but maybe I’m off here?

        Quote  Link

      Report

      • Yes. I don’t disagree with that part. What I think they were trying to do is establish that the normal protections accorded to other protected classes don’t automatically extend to gays without that burden being met for specific practices, irrespective of the current state of affairs in AZ or given any particular type of SC ruling on gay marriage etc. It was an attempt to shift the burden of proof in favor of … religious freedom (don’t want to beg any questions here!). And actually, my sympathetic side understands the motivations behind the law, to cut out a path where religious expression isn’t completely trampled by non-discrimination policies.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • The use of the “fundamental right” language comes from the (quite mistaken) notion the religious freedom suffers an appreciable diminishment when private enterprise is regulated in a way distasteful to the religious merchant.

        Ex.: Kevin attends the Tuscon Church of the Very Very Heterosexual God. Kevin also owns and operated Kevin’s Christian Camera Shop right there in downtown Tuscon. (How a camera can be Christian is a different question, but one which causes Kevin no intellectual heartburn.) Louise wants to buy one of Kevin’s Christian cameras. But Louise comes shopping with her life partner and they act all lesbian-like. If Kevin is compelled to sell Louise the camera the same way he’d have sold the camera to Harriet the Heterosexual, is Kevin any less a member of the Tuscon Church of the Very Very Heterosexual God?

        Of course not. Kevin’s beliefs and patterns of worship and moral disapproval of Louise’s lifestyle “choice” remain the same. Hence, there is no substantial impairment of Kevin’s religious rights. No more than, say, Kevin having to pay taxes, some money of which may go to support things Kevin finds religiously distasteful, like, paying Louise’s salary since she is also a pilot for the Navy. No one would say that a law of general applicability (like paying taxes) is subject to a religious exemption absent a specific showing of actual impairment. And so too is treating customers alike in a business purportedly open to the general public not a religious impairment at all.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • Burt, thanks.

        Is there a scenario in which non-discrimination laws could take effect in AZ and protect certain types of religious practices as a result (say, if the legislature adopts anti-discrimination legislation down the road or somesuch)?

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • We could concoct such a scenario, of course. Perhaps Moishe is very orthodox and wants to close his business on Saturday because he doesn’t roll on the Shabbat. But a hypothetical law requires him to be open then at the expense of forfeiting his business license, and Moishe’s personal service is needed — so it’s not practical for the circumstances of the particular business for him to hire a Gentile to run things on Saturday. We’d use the Sherbert test in that case to see if the Saturday opening law were valid. (Not at a full computer right now so looking up the links or filling in the facts for the scenario is a bit impractical for me at the moment. But that’s the skeleton. Seems to me the facts and the law are going to get pretty far-fetched to sculpt a situation in which Moishe wins; I’ve never heard of a mandatory Saturday-opening law anywhere.)

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • No more than, say, Kevin having to pay taxes, some money of which may go to support things Kevin finds religiously distasteful, like, paying Louise’s salary since she is also a pilot for the Navy.

        Actually, I think this may be some of the legal push behind these laws; some weird sort of way to get out of paying taxes that go to things you don’t like, such as pension/health-care benefits for gay spouses.

        Were that true, I should be able to get out of the portion of my federal tax bills that go to things like wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, no?

        But I do suspect this sits at the bottom of the well of thought; in part, because of the ongoing efforts to defund any health-care organization that also provides abortion services.

        /and I have no evidence for this suspicion.

          Quote  Link

        Report

  9. Regarding the defining of populism, in the US I’d probably define it with something like “The channeling of popular emotional and/or moral energy towards unpopular segments of society” (That last part includes the wealthy, when the wealthy are unpopular.)

    Or put another way, it’s William Jennings Bryan supporting prohibition and railing against the banks, the railroad, and the teaching of evolution.

      Quote  Link

    Report

      • I do think there were components of the American Revolution that could be called “populist.” And in my opinion, that’s no defense of the revolution. I’m not a big fan of taking property away from people, threatening them, and sometimes tar-and-feathering and killing them, because they refuse to sign on to an unjust war against a luxury tax.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • It gets more complicated when you’re talking about revolutions. I wouldn’t call the American Revolution pure populism, because there were other significant things. I do think that some of the arguments for it were quite populist in nature, though. I tend to think of the (original) Tea Party was quite populist in nature.

        I don’t personally view populism in and of itself bad. It depends on what, aside from populism, is involved. Populism does have the ability to suck the oxygen out of the brain, which is what I think Tod is worried about, though I don’t think it’s inevitable.

        And sometimes it is, as New Dealer says, an antidote to excessive technocratism. Anti-populists would presumably argue that if the state of affairs is bad enough to justify a populist response then you can demolish it with reason and logic. That’s the avenue I tend to prefer, but my faith in it is far from absolute.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • Also, I wouldn’t say the American Revolution was intellectually bankrupt.

        But the supporters of the revolution did have to do a lot of mental gymnastics to square some difficult intellectual circles, e.g.:

        “All men are created equal” (except Slaves, Indians, and Tories).

        One of the grievances was that the king and parliament had the temerity to accommodate the religion of the recently conquered Quebeckers.

        One of the grievances was that the UK wanted to enforce the 1763 Proclamation line. That line was more a statement of power politics than humanitarianism, but it’s function was to protect Indians from the colonists.

          Quote  Link

        Report

    • “The channeling of popular emotional and/or moral energy towards unpopular segments of society”

      I have written and deleted a lot of comments here (well, two) trying to define “populism” because I’m having a devil of a time thinking up one that works. I think yours is a pretty good working definition of populism, and I think it can take us pretty far.

      I do think an element of populism, or at least a comorbid element often found with populism, is the perception that the “popular” is somehow betrayed, undermined, or marginalized by the unpopular segments of society. Your example of WJB is pretty good here. Farmers were betrayed by goldbugs and by venal robber barons on the railroads who charged discriminatory prices and did all other shenanigans.

      Here are some other examples I can think of, and I admit I’m using broad brushstrokes:

      George Wallace’s appeal to people who believed that liberal elitists in D.C. were violating our civil liberties. (The target = the southern whites and eventually all whites in the US who were working class and who believed themselves left behind by the class of people who could afford to go to college and who were now their bosses.)

      Perot’s 1992 appeal to people who believed that special interests were driving our deficit and making us therefore more and more financially insecure. (The target = middle-class people who believed that taxes and government spending and the accompanying deficits–done on behalf of “special interests”–endangered the health of the US economy and was responsible for the then current but receding recession.)

      The Naderite appeal in 2000 to the anti-corporation crowd. (The target = people like me who had come to believe, at the time, that corporations controlled all or most of our political economy and were denying the 1990s prosperity to everyday workers with their insistence on freer trade and corporate welfare.)

      The pro-Obamacare argument that evil insurance companies are plotting to rob people of access to health care. (The target = people who have had their health care needs cut off by insurance companies, who couldn’t get insurance on their own, and people who lived in fear that they might get sick one day.)

      The anti-Obamacare argument that Obama is Hitler. (The target (in addition to the to me obvious racist signalling, others’ mileage varies) = people who fear that the federal government is making more and more arrogations of power and is denying liberty more and more, and this trend is personified in the champion and sponsor of a program that is forcing individuals to buy a private corporation’s product.)

      A recent union demonstration I witnessed at a local university whose participants shouted things like “chop from the top” and passed out flyers purporting to show that the university hired more administrators than faculty and had amassed a huge profit which would enable the university in question to pay faculty much more. (The target = people who believe that administrators at universities continually connive to rob students and professors, who *really* make the university work, of money and who arrogate to themselves ever increasing amounts of wealth and power.)

      I personally think that each of these movements, even Wallace’s and the tea party’s, whose racism I hope it’s clear I disavow completely, identified some real problems. College educated liberals are sometimes very quick to look down on the Lumpen in whose name they claim to do so much. Massive government spending can be harmful because it can create obligations to pay (with corresponding increases in taxation) and if those obligations aren’t honored, that means default and higher interest rates (I think….I’m no expert here). Corporations often have a very cozy relationship and seek rent quite successfully. Health care provision pre-Obamacare was a mess (it might be a mess post-Obamacare, but I support the policy), and the actions of insurance companies, while understandable if one accepts that they are for profit companies, were one visible instance of these problems. As has shown in his presidency posts, the power of the executive has been growing at least since Wilson, and it’s hard to deny that civil liberties are continually being challenged and have been at least since the PATRIOT Act, and Obama has continued these trends just as much as the other guys. The costs of higher ed. are increasing, and it seems to me some of the spending priorities are out of whack, even if I don’t believe it’s as easy as firing a few deans and redistributing alleged surpluses.

      I finally want to make two points. One, at times in my life, e.g., Nader in 2000, I bought into the populist form of the argument. Two, these populist movements weren’t all the same. Wallace’s populism, as seductive as it might sometimes have been to white people like me (I wasn’t born yet, but I imagine I might have found some appeal in it had I been alive then), played to and tried to legitimate some of the most racist elements of society. Obamacare, however one assesses its worth, is at least a stab to solve the problem, and in the short and medium terms, it might prove helpful (at least I hope it does….others disagree) in blunting the sharper instances of sticker shock and denials of coverage that were always in the background pre-Obamacare.

      [/rambling]

        Quote  Link

      Report

  10. On the original New Mexico event. The photographer explicitly said they don’t do same sex marriages, rather than a little white lie saying they were busy or some other excuse. It appears the photographers wanted to make a point. If you just say you are busy, going to be out of town, or doing something else at the time requested then the burden of proof is off you in any case.
    Etiquette would say to tell a little white lie to avoid inflaming folks. Why make someone mad when you don’t have to?

      Quote  Link

    Report

  11. A quibble on point three — it is eminently plausible that some questions put to a democratic vote will indeed result in overt tyranny. Avoiding the two most obvious 20th century example I will instead point to the immense popularity of Napoleon crowning himself Emperor — an event which occurred within a generation of the Estates-General of 1789 and less than half a generation since Louis XVI Valois’ head was lopped off for the crime of having once borne a crown.

      Quote  Link

    Report

  12. 42 U.S.C. §2000a (a)All persons shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations of any place of public accommodation, as defined in this section, without discrimination on the ground of race, color, religion, or national origin.

    No, Arizona businesses have no right to say “my religion says no gays allowed.” You may not discriminate on the ground of religion.

      Quote  Link

    Report

      • “My religion says no irish allowed.” (Protestantism vs Catholics)
        “My religion says no blacks allowed.” (Mormons)
        “My religion says no gays allowed” (Pick your backwards christian sect)
        “My religion says modern medicine is an abomination, so nobody in a wheelchair allowed in my bookstore” (Christian Science)

        Pick your poison. It’s all on the basis of religion. If my religion says one thing, and you’re not a member of my religion and I discriminate against you claiming “deeply held religious belief” protection – I lose, just as those using religion as a shield did during the civil rights era. The term religion was put in there because the KKK were using bible quotations to justify Jim Crow in ‘private’ businesses.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • I think the first one is discrimination on the basis of ethnicity.
        The second one is discrimination on the basis of race.
        The third one is discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation
        The fourth one is discrimination on the basis of disabilities.

        Discrimination on the basis of religion would be “My religion says I can’t serve Catholics” (and I assume that religion was included because of discrimination against Jews and Catholics)

        This is as I understand it. Legally speaking. Again, though, I wait for a lawyer to clarify.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • You are correct.

        My experience with this issue is (of course) employment law. If an employee believes they have been discriminated against because they are (for example) a woman, and part or all of the employer’s alleged reason for that discrimination is due to their religious beliefs, that employee files a suit/EEO complaint of sexual discrimination, not religious discrimination.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • “Ground of” vs “Basis of” is not a relevant distinction here. The pertinent grounds or basis is dependent on the person being descriminated against. Not why the discriminator is discriminating.

        Bob’s Bus Tours can’t refuse to hire a black person whether the motivation is religious or not.

        Bob’s Bus Tours can discriminate against people wearing hats, even if Bob has some religious thing against people wearing hats in buses and his motivation is religious in nature.

        The issue is (generally) who you are discriminating against. Not whether or not you are motivated by religion to do so.

        If it’s illegal to discriminate against gays, it’s illegal whether you are doing so because your religion tells you to or because they “give you the creeps”… and if it’s legal, it doesn’t suddenly become illegal if you’re doing so because your religion tells you.

        Again, this is all my understanding of how it works. And Tod’s. If one of our house lawyers wants to come along and tell me otherwise, I’ll listen.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • “The wording is “ground of” not “basis of” Mr. Truman.”

        This is what is known as a difference without a distinction.

        I’m not sure where you’re getting your info on discrimination/harassment law, but it isn’t correct. In fact if it was, a gay man who was terminated for being gay in Arizona would be able to successfully sue his employer, because protection against religious discrimination is federally mandated.

          Quote  Link

        Report

    • without discrimination on the ground of race, color, religion, or national origin.

      On the grounds of refers to the target of the discriminatory act, not the person doing the discrimination, and sexual orientation is not listed.

      So under the proper reading of that law, if I’m a Christian I cannot discriminate against a Muslim, not because I am religiously motivated, but because it targets the Muslim on the basis of his/her religion. I can target a gay person on the basis of my faith because the statute does not cover sexual orientation and the law does not constrain my motivation.

        Quote  Link

      Report

      • James,

        On the grounds of refers to the target of the discriminatory act, not the person doing the discrimination, and sexual orientation is not listed.

        Thanks clearly stating that. That’s my impression too.

        I can target a gay person on the basis of my faith because the statute does not cover sexual orientation and the law does not constrain my motivation.

        Yes. And this *gap* is exactly where SB 1026 enters the debate, yes? If I’m understanding the bill correctly, it would have forced a wedge between including sexual orientation as a protected target of discriminatory practices on analogy to skin color or ethnicity and so on. Which is why I think the bill was actually attempting to do something substantive. If passed, the normal protections against discrimination accorded to other individuals couldn’t automatically be applied to differences in sexual orientation unless a specific instance of purported discriminatory behavior met the stipulated burden of justification.

        Is that how you understand the purpose of the bill? Am I wrong in this?

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • I think that was the purpose of the bill, but under the current law it appears you can already discriminate against a gay person, and you don’t even need to claim a religious motive.

        So I think the purpose of the bill was to ensure you’re allowed to do something you’re already allowed to do. I think that’s the point of the ckaim that it doesn’t really do anything.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • James,

        Yes, for sure that’s true given the current state of play in AZ. But if the bill had passed it would have constrained a future legislature from including sexual orientation under the same umbrella of protections that established categories already enjoy. Imposing restrictions on expressions of religious conscience (and the correlated attribution of protections to gays) would therefore have to meet a burden in each particular instance a purported discriminatory act was committed. This would be no small victory for religious freedom, it seems to me. (Well, it would be a victory until and when the feds stepped in and included sexual orientation as a class of people covered by anti-discrimination laws, anyway.)

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • if the bill had passed it would have constrained a future legislature from including sexual orientation under the same umbrella of protections

        Not really. No current statute can constrain a future statute, which can repeal or make an exception to the prior statute.

        Imposing restrictions on expressions of religious conscience (and the correlated attribution of protections to gays) would therefore have to meet a burden in each particular instance a purported discriminatory act was committed. This would be no small victory for religious freedom, it seems to me.

        I’m still chewing that over and don’t know where I stand. As a counterargument, its awfully unusual for a religion’s theology, or a sect’s doctrine, to say “don’t do business with sinners.”

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • and

        I would think the goals here were more rile the base and (had the law been signed) proffer counterweight to the numbers of laws dropping when, eventually, the rights of the LGBT community end up in the Supreme Court.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • zic,

        Sure, inference to the best explanation and all. But the bill actually does something, it seems to me. It has substantive content (even if misguided) it seems to me. Further, it seems to me that inference to the best explanation would also attribute to conservatives a desire to pass laws which further their conceptions of religious liberty.

        I’m not defending the bill here but I think I could provide a defense of it that contradicts the motivations you just mentioned.

          Quote  Link

        Report


      • So I think the purpose of the bill was to ensure you’re allowed to do something you’re already allowed to do.
        Somebody with more detailed knowledge of current AZ law please correct me, but I think you (or rather, your public accommodation) are (is) presently not allowed to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation in the two largest cities in AZ (nor in Flagstaff). The bill would have trumped that.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • Others have mentioned that, so I think you’re right. I’d forgotten that wrinkle. So in most of the state it would do nothing new, but in those cities it would override local statutes.

        Thanks for correcting me on that.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • Not really. No current statute can constrain a future statute, which can repeal or make an exception to the prior statute.

        Technically this appears right, but in the event that protection based on sexual orientation is included within anti-discrimination law, its reach will be limited because 1062 is written so broadly that a mere burden on one’s conscience constitutes a legally defined burden on free exercise.

        You could say, “Dave, you’re basing this on your belief that discrimination based on sexual orientation is religiously motivated”. I’d say you’re absolutely correct. Given what I’ve seen over the past several years about the rights of Christians being “oppressed” and the fact that religious groups have pushed for this, Stillwater’s characterization of using current law to block future laws isn’t far off.

        Even if it is technically incorrect based on your response to him, the broad definition of free exercise in 1062 and the push for a bill like this NOW when there’s no need tells me that the intent of 1062 was to implement the religious defenses in order to effectively be exempt from any sexual orientation requirements under future anti-discrimination law.

        We can debate the technical points but this is my view of the big picture.

          Quote  Link

        Report

  13. I meant these were ‘in additonal’ motivations, not ‘instead of.’

    So yeah.

    Funny thing about buy local; has roots in ‘organic.’ Which, after it’s not-so-attractive hippie-commune start, was maintained through the dark-food ages of the 1980’s and early 1990’s by religious groups, particularly Seventh Day Adventists, who kept organic and health-food stores open despite their (at the time) economic failures.

      Quote  Link

    Report

  14. Re: Market thrives on information. I am moving this downthread obviously.

    I think this is another example of a divide in how liberals and libertarians might look at a situation and how the world works and come to completely different conclusions. James, please correct me if I am wrong but it seems to me that a libertarian thinks that full information would allow people to act on that information and this will create justice. So a landlord or business owner can put up a bigoted and discriminatory sign that says “No Muslims”, “No Jews”, “No Homosexuals”, etc and then people will react accordingly. Muslims, and Jews, and homosexuals will know that this is not someone to rent from and people who care about social justice will do the same. Eventually the landlord will discover that his premises are vacant and change his tune. Or the apartment will just rent out to hard and soft supporters of bigotry and those supporters will be judge accordingly in the court of popular opinion. A guy gets rejected by a cute girl for living in the notorious apartment building in town, etc.

    I am skeptical that this would work. I admit that fair housing law is an imperfect vehicle and that it has not completely solved the problem of housing discrimination. This American Life ran a story on non-profits that go to landlords to test for discrimination and they found a lot of it. Almost every area has a non-profit housing fairness org that combats this kind of discrimination and their resources are often too small to fight the problem. But it seems to me that the purpose of fair housing law is to prevent landlords from acting on their bigotries.

    Also James, I suspect that since you a in the majority by American characteristics you are being a bit naive on the psychological effects that a person in the minority would feel by experiencing everyday racism, homophobia, anti-Semitism, etc. I completely sympathize with Alan’s desire and think it is a noble and reasonable goal of law to prevent minorities from seeing example after example of how they are unwelcome in some to many areas/businesses.

    This is potentially another example of a liberal doubting the power of the free market.

      Quote  Link

    Report

    • Pierre,

      Yes, many libertarians would make that argument. Whether landlords change their tune due to empty units is a function of numbers, though, and I doubt there are sufficient numbers of gay people, even in a San Francisco, to have much effect.

      But I wasn’t making that argument myself. I was just thinking of whether it’s worse to see lots of ads saying “no gays allowed” or to get repeatedly denied apartments after interviewing for them, and/or getting kicked out when the landlord belatedly realized the tenant’s homosexuality.

      But I’m just speculating.

        Quote  Link

      Report

      • “I was just thinking of whether it’s worse to see lots of ads saying “no gays allowed” or to get repeatedly denied apartments after interviewing for them, and/or getting kicked out when the landlord belatedly realized the tenant’s homosexuality.”

        I have two quick responses to this:

        1. I think most people would find each option you give here either equally great or equally horrible, which is why the choice normally discussed is that a business owner is either allowed to refuse service to someone on basis of X or it’s against the law to do so.

        2. These kinds arguments appeal to me more in a city the size of Portland than they do in a smaller rural town that might have, say, two apartment buildings that rent out rooms. Then it seems that you only need two people to say “no gays,” “no muslims,” “no divorcees” or whatever to completely disenfranchise an entire segment of that town.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • Housing is a constant problem for visible queers, even in Boston. And it is especially difficult for trans women. We try to build our own support networks, housing lists and the like, but they don’t really seem to quite meet the need.

        When you are living on the margin to begin with, just a small shift in your odds can lead to a huge difference in outcomes.

        Many of you folks think about how hard it was for you to find an apartment. Then you image it being a little bit harder, an extra week searching, and think, “That ain’t so bad.” But for us it is more than a difference in degree. Many of us can barely afford housing as it is. Any shift in difficulty pushes into the “effectively homeless” space quite fast.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • ,

        I’m not talking about whether to allow housing discrimination or not. I’m asking whether–when housing discrimination is allowed, or happens even if it officially is not allowed–it’s better/worse/same to learn about the landlord’s bigotry in the ad or face-to-face.

        I could be wrong, but it seems to me that being able to skip over the “No Xs need apply” ads, and focus one’s search on just those that don’t say that–offensive as it would be to see a bunch of those–would actually make it easier to find an apartment than going to check some out and only then finding out the owner’s a bigot.

        This is not an argument in favor of allowing discrimination.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • — I guess one way of taking your question is this: should I prefer people be openly bigoted, so at least I can deal with their bigotry head on, rather than people who are quietly bigoted, who smile to my face while they work against me out of view?

        And yes, the former is preferable, since we can see them. That latter is far worse.

        I need the law to address both forms of bigotry.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • zic,

        wouldn’t we have imperfect information,

        Not to speak for James but I think he’s saying that allowing (tolerating?) people’s pubic expressions of bigotry in (eg) housing practices is closer to the ideal of perfect information than driving that expression underground. He’s not making any normative claims about practices or even idealized conceptions of markets, it seems to me.

        I think he’s just pointing out that if one consideration in play here is efficiency in navigating the rental market, then landlord’s expressing their criteria publicly could be viewed as a beneficial practice. (I think it’s a valid point, myself.)

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • ,

        No. Bigotry is a form of discrimination in its broad sense. We’re all discriminating in some ways in our market choices. That’s not a distortion of the market; it is the market. And minority voices get filtered out all the time because there’s not either not enough demand for what they are supplying or not enough supply for what they are demanding.

        That’s not a big deal when it means Dole stops selling the orange-banana juice I liked so much, but it is a big deal when it means someone who’s black, gay, Muslim, etc. can’t rent an apartment. But it is still what the market is, not a distorton of the market.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • Yes, that’s a fair way of putting my question. I was focusing purely on search efficiency, but obviously it’s not fully separable from the question of how one feels/is affected by the different ways bigotry gets expressed.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • It also seems to me that if I am considering leasing out my room so that people can rent it (but wanting only People of a Certain Type) and finding out that, no, I will have to rent it out to any/everybody without discriminating that it’s as likely (if not more likely) to result in me saying “you know what, I don’t need the hassle” (and taking the room off the market) as me having a moment of clarity and saying “you know what, I could handle some Mormons living in there.”

        Or, I suppose, just renting it out vaguely under the table to my sister’s husband’s friend’s nephew who needs a place and I know that he’s not a Mormon so I won’t have to worry about Mormon crap going on in my spare apartment.

          Quote  Link

        Report

      • and

        I understand that; landlord’s who prefer not to rent to families with children, for instance, would save time-strapped parents looking for an apartment a lot of time if they could so advertise.

        But that the supply side of the market, too; and only part of the information that needs to be revealed for the market to function freely. The other side is that families with children are looking for places to rent; and their preferences when it comes to those rental properties.

        Another way of understanding my point would be Brandon’s suggestion that women are more likely to support intervening in the economy in someway; suggesting that women prefer economic stability over perfect economic freedom. That it’s perceived as outside the market only stems from the fact that women were excluded from fully participating in the economy; it’s not, in fact, a distortion of the market, it’s a revelation of market preferences when both men and women are allowed to fully engage.

        An astute market watcher would, then, see that as an opportunity. Are there insurances or other products that could help smooth out market bounces that women would prefer to purchase? And would offering women these products diminish their preference to intervene?

        Viewing this from any other perspective smacks of looking at the market as entrenched privilege for those already in the market, not as an economic freedom for all people to participate in the market.

        And I don’t think availability for a specific product is a good analogy in any way. You have know way of knowing if the product’s no longer produced by one company, unavailable because a specific supplier dropped the product, or if there were other problems with getting the product to market. This is a demand problem, presuming all potential customers of that product have been revealed. It in now way compares to excluding groups from participating in the market; this hides their market choices from the market.

          Quote  Link

        Report