Sunday, October 17, 2021

The coffee police

"The US Has Placed Itself In Charge Over Which Nations Get To Eat" (Johnstone).

"Who Controls the Food Supply Controls the People" (Brewda).

"New Escalation: Israel Assassinated Syrian Official, Ex-lawmaker in Al-Quneitra" (South Front).  "Official: Syrian MP killing a cowardly act, assassination rooted in ‘Israeli nature’: Official".

"Texas Law to Require Schools to Teach “Opposing Perspective” on the Holocaust" (Dunderhoff).

"The problem with America’s semi-rich" (Stewart interview with Stewart):
"Why is there such a focus on the nanny? On child rearing?

Nannies cost a lot, you basically have to hire another full-time individual. And that is not something that most individuals can do. It’s creating a definition of success that will define most people out of the running even before they start.

[The 9.9 percent] all have internalized this idea that child rearing is meritocratic breeding, and the measure of your success is how well you optimize your child as a future member of the meritocracy.

That means that to the extent that you can’t yourself spend all of your time raising your child, you need to get somebody else to do it. And that person’s task is not child-rearing as it used to be understood, which was feeding them and preventing them from harming themselves. It’s about optimizing them, and there’s no limit to what you can do to optimize them. And so that’s why you’re going to go for a nanny who’s college-educated, preferably with a degree in child psychology, and who’s capable of organizing all sorts of enriching experiences for the child. The logic is pretty ironclad.

Generally, I don’t think it’s terrible for the kids. It’s just a model of parenting that a) is insane and b) cannot conceivably be emulated by most of the population.

What’s the role of the idea of meritocracy here?

I think that meritocracy mostly gets invented after the fact. You have significant inequality, and then you get people reimagining how the economy works. They first make the false assumption that individual merit or individual talent and effort is the main factor in production, and it isn’t. Most human economic activities depend far more importantly on the degree of cooperation that people are able to establish between themselves — cooperation within firms, cooperation between firms in a marketplace, and cooperation in a society at large in terms of having standards of trust, reasonable laws, and so on. All those things are far more important in determining economic output than mere merit or merely allocating rewards to merit.

People make this false assumption precisely because the inequality is already there, and they’re looking for a justification. Then, they make the further false assumption that the variation in human merit is tremendous — it’s astonishing that some people are literally a million times smarter than other people. You have to qualify a little bit because whenever you criticize meritocracy, someone will come back and say, “Well, people are unequal, some people are smarter.” I have no problem with that, there are differences among people, and those have to be recognized. But it’s completely false to think that those differences are great enough to explain the kind of variation that we see in the economy.
Nonetheless, all of this rhetoric around meritocracy tends to grow and becomes more convincing precisely as inequality grows. In this respect, I don’t think our meritocracy is all that different from previous aristocracy. The definition of aristocracy is just the rule of the best, and people who have merit are also by definition the best. It’s the same kind of rhetoric. Yes, aristocracy usually relied more on birth, but that’s just a mechanism for identifying the people who are going to be perceived to be the best."
The first indication that something was seriously wrong came about ten years ago when a lot of attention began to be paid to the strict regimen children were being put through in order to get them into the 'right' university.

"PETER HITCHENS: We're in the Age of the Curfew – and there's no escape".
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