Friday Ephemera
The Perils of Time Travel

Elsewhere (122)

Franklin Einspruch on government intervention and unintended consequences: 

[Tuition fees] go up faster than inflation every year because we have generous Federal loan programmes with low interest rates and low selectivity. Easy loans stimulate demand, and higher demand drives up prices. You may think that the colleges should steel their wills and ignore the fundamental dynamic of the market, but as James Howard Kunstler put it, capitalism is not a belief system that you can subscribe to or drop out of, it’s more like gravity. Let that process continue for decades and you’ll put tuitions through the roof, with wildly different consequences for the rich and the poor. In other words, the state worsens inequality by mitigating the risks of lending. This isn’t academic at all. It is a consequence that will keep repeating itself until we quit causing it.

And Kristian Niemietz on the needy dynamic of political correctness: 

A positional good is a good that people acquire to signal where they stand in a social hierarchy; it is acquired in order to set oneself apart from others. Positional goods therefore have a peculiar property: the utility their consumers derive from them is inversely related to the number of people who can access them… PC-brigadiers behave exactly like owners of a positional good who panic because wider availability of that good threatens their social status. The PC brigade has been highly successful in creating new social taboos, but their success is their very problem. Moral superiority is a prime example of a positional good, because we cannot all be morally superior to each other. Once you have successfully exorcised a word or an opinion, how do you differentiate yourself from others now? You need new things to be outraged about, new ways of asserting your imagined moral superiority.

None of which will be news, I think, to regular readers. And hence the theatrical agonies about patriarchal cupcakes, insufficiently considerate spellcheck software, the serving of meals, racist hair, racist grammar, and the unspeakable crushing horror of the heteronormative barbecue. Also, Ace coins the term “the Cognitive One Percent.” I wonder, can neurotic, competitive signalling be redistributed?

And should you need to display your own moral elevation, feel free to tickle the tip jar.