So here’s a case of character-based voting–not a particularly dramatic one, I’ll admit, but a case just the same, and evidence that character-based voting can, under the right circumstances, make perfect sense.
I recently got my mail-in ballot for the upcoming general election. One of the offices on the ballot is that of Hunterdon County Clerk (for Hunterdon County, New Jersey). The Republicans are running incumbent Mary H. Melfi as their candidate; the Democrats aren’t running a candidate this time. Assuming that I vote in this election (as I plan to), I have three options:
- I could vote for Melfi.
- I could leave the relevant part of the ballot blank.
- I could write someone in besides Melfi, or write something in the relevant slot, whether or not it’s the name of a candidate, up to and including a ballot-spoiling piece of profanity.
As it happens, I’m a Democrat strongly opposed to the Republican Party in its current incarnation. In previous elections where a Republican was running unopposed by the Democrats (or I was, due to a bureaucratic glitch, forced to vote Republican in a primary), I’ve either left the ballot blank, or in some way voted against the Republicans by some ad hoc expedient–e.g., making use of the write-in option, and writing “Not X” with the Republicans’ name for “X,” or writing in “NOTA” (None of the Above) in rejection of everyone on the ballot. In general, I have no problem with taking a party-line stance on voting, whether for the Democrats or against the Republicans.
In this case, however, I’ve decided to vote for Melfi on grounds of character. So yes: voting on character means voting Republican, at least in this case.
Jason’s Brennan’s self-parodic idea of a parody, titled “I Am Immune to Criticism” (my italics):
I’ve decided to copy-cat a style of argumentation which is prominent among democrats and socialists in the philosophy literature. This move will now render me and my work immune from criticism.
By epistocracy, I henceforth mean not only a system that gives greater weight to the wise during voting, but which actually makes substantively wise decisions! Thus, any time a seemingly epistocratic decision-system makes a bad choice–such as a choice that runs afoul of the demographic objection–it wasn’t *true* or *real* epistocracy! Epistocracy by definition always makes the wisest choices. Therefore, to oppose epistocracy is to oppose good choices and favor bad ones.
Lorenz Kraus is (or was) a candidate for US Senate, based in Troy, New York. My knowledge of his candidacy is based on about ten minutes’ Internet search after he sent me a crank email cc’d to Counter-Currents Publishing, a white nationalist website, among other recipients. Ten minutes is all it took to figure out that Kraus was a crank, and all it would have taken to figure out not to vote for him.
How? Because Kraus’s entire campaign is based on anti-Semitism of a wild, overt, over-the-top sort. No need to hash through the details; once was enough for me. If you don’t want to take my word for it, spend maybe ten minutes scrolling through his Twitter feed below (underneath the separator), or whatever else comes up in a Google search. If it takes you more than ten minutes, you’re doing it wrong.
If you ignore the well-poisoning horseshit he dishes out against Will Wilkinson, Jason Brennan manages, for once, to get something right: Jerry Taylor really is a hypocritical asshole for firing Will Wilkinson from the Niskanen Center, and, in consequence, the Niskanen Center should, as Brennan says, be boycotted (see Brennan’s post for details).
In addition, I think Brennan is right to put some pressure on Niskanen’s erstwhile supporters to stop supporting the Center. That’s what solidarity is, and how it works. Either you side with Will, or you side with Taylor, or you remain neutral because you’re in a position to be neutral. The latter gambit is not available to those who have supported Niskanen in the past, and intend to do so in the future. They have to make an autonomous, moralized decision one way or another. Do they support institutionalized hypocrisy, or do they support journalistic integrity? It really is that simple. Continue reading
People sometimes wonder why I pick on–“stalk”–Jason Brennan so much. The answer is that I like wringing concessions out of his arrogant ass, and often get exactly what I’m looking for.
UPDATE: I modified this slightly, because I realized that I don’t know what Krugman thinks about trade all-things-considered.
No, I don’t mean the claim about Krugman. I mean the hyper-conscientiousness Brennan now shows about alerting his readers to the substantive changes he makes in his posts for 200-Proof Liberals. Remember when, at BHL, he self-righteously asserted the prerogative to write and re-write and re-write and re-write his posts without notice so as to evade criticisms? I do, and so does everyone who read the site. Now, without further ado, he’s forgotten all his “arguments” on that issue, and changed course by 180 degrees. Conscientious Brennan now makes sure to tell us when he’s made substantive changes. Continue reading
I’m not a big booster of my undergraduate alma mater, Princeton, or a big fan of its current president, Christopher Eisgruber. But when a self-proclaimed “libertarian” academic gleefully defends an absurdly unwarranted federal investigation into the institution, relying on transparently idiotic arguments, one reaches a point of discursive futility: this is not a person worth arguing with, or even all that much worth spitting at.
No one with Brennan’s credentials can be stupid enough to believe the bullshit arguments he’s trundling out at this point. As a friend of mine pointed out, Brennan’s blog posts are not meant to be taken seriously. They’re just the efforts of a hostile well-poisoner working off his animosities in public in the confident belief that he can say anything about anyone with impunity. All I have left to say is: feel free, dude–and feel free to fuck yourself while you’re at it. Continue reading
Some readers may remember the dispute I had here back in April with Jason Brennan and Phil Magness over the use of lethal force to enforce social distancing orders. The issue was: are there any circumstances such that lethal force would be justified in enforcing such orders?
I said yes: if someone refuses compliance, and then not only resists an order to comply, but escalates resistance to the point of serious physical danger to others, it can be justifiable to shoot them dead. I say “shoot them dead” because under the rules of engagement that apply in police work, every shot is intended to be a kill shot: if an officer draws a weapon, it’s understood she had no choice but to do so; if she fires, she aims at the subject’s torso, which is the largest and most easily-hit target; and given the nature of standard police firearms, and the likelihood that the officer will fire more than once, the subject’s death is highly likely, whether literally intended or not. Continue reading
Some universities have honor codes that oblige students to inform on other students who have broken provisions of the code. Some of these codes govern off-campus behavior, and some govern non-academic behavior. Under some conditions, you can be expelled for violation, and once expelled, you don’t get a pro-rated tuition refund. Incredible, isn’t it? Sounds a lot like the Stasi under East German Communism, no?
Not really. It just sounds that way if you’re completely consumed in self-righteous hysteria, have zero real-time, feasible proposals for how to stop the spread of the coronavirus on campus, but prefer to watch its spread from the Olympian heights of your suburban home, relieved of the responsibility of having to do anything about it. At that level of tone deafness, of course, anything will sound like anything.
Back on July 25th, I took issue with Jason Brennan’s claim that
…in general, in legal contracts, even when there is language to the contrary, parties do not acquire the right to unilaterally revise the conditions.
This claim, I argued, is close to the reverse of the truth. Most employment in the US is employment-at-will. In at-will employment arrangements, employers unquestionably do have the right (both de facto and de jure) “to unilaterally revise the conditions” of employment. They often conceal this by having their employees sign what look like (and are called) “contracts.” But the “contract” in question will typically contain language to the effect that the employment arrangement is at-will, implying that the terms are revisable at will.* Continue reading
In a whiny blog post at 200 Proof Liberals addressed to his provost, Jason Brennan claims that you can’t enforce a contract which gives one side unilateral and unlimited power to change the terms of the contract. The context is a “compact” that Georgetown’s administration has imposed on students, faculty, and staff regarding the spread of COVID-19. Continue reading