Tuesday, May 13, 2014
I Checked My Privilege, And It’s Doing Just Fine
Liberals have a new word for what normal people call “success.” They call it “privilege,” as if a happy, prosperous life is the result of some magic process related to where your great-great-great-grandfather came from.
It’s the latest leftist argument tactic, which means it is a tactic designed to prevent any argument and to beat you into rhetorical submission. Conservatives, don’t play their game.
It’s easy to see that this notion that accomplishment comes not from hard work but from some mysterious force, operating out there in the ether, is essential to liberal thought. To excuse the dole-devouring layabouts who form so much of the Democrat voting base, it is critical that they undermine the achievements of those who support themselves. We can’t have the American people thinking that hard work leads to success; people might start asking why liberal constituencies don’t just work harder instead of demanding more money from those who actually produce something.
This “Check your privilege” meme is the newest trump card du jour on college campuses and in other domains of progressive tyranny. It morphed into existence from the “You racist!” wolf-cry that is now so discredited that it produces little but snickers even among liberal fellow travelers. After all, if everyone is racist – and to the progressives, everyone is except themselves – then no one is really racist. And it’s kind of hard to take seriously being called “racist” by adherents of a political party that made a KKK kleagle its Senate majority leader.
So how do we deal with this idiocy?
The proper response to the privilege gambit is laughter. The super-serious zealots of progressivism hate being laughed at, but there’s really no other appropriate response outside of a stream of obscenities. The privilege game is designed to circumvent arguments based on reason and facts and evidence, so the way to win it is to defeat it on its own terms.
Call: “Check your privilege!”
Response: “What you call ‘privilege’ is just me being better than you.”
They won’t like it. It will make them angry. Good. Because tactics like “Check your privilege” are designed to make us angry, to put us off-balance, to baffle us and suck us down into a rabbit hole of leftist jargon and progressive stupidity.
Don’t follow them. Mock them. Accuse them of adhering to a transphobic cisnormative paradigm and start shrieking “Hate crime!”
Don’t worry about not making sense. They’re college students. They are used to not understanding what people smarter than they are tell them.
Respectful argument should be reserved for those who respect the concept of argument. The sulky sophomores who babble about privilege do not. They only understand power. And we give them power when we give their nonsense the respect we would give a coherent argument.
They deserve only laughter. And to laugh at them, we simply need to refuse to be intimidated.
The plain fact is that what they understand to be “privilege” is really just what regular people understand is a “consequence.” It is a consequence of hard work, of delaying gratification and of sacrifice. No one came and bestowed this country upon us. We built it. Some of us died doing so. If we have privilege, it was earned at Bunker Hill, Gettysburg and Normandy. It’s not a function of skin tone or the number of vowels in your name; it’s a function of character.
Unlike them, many of us have lived overseas, and often in rather bullet-rich environs. Our life experience consists of more than reading Herbert Marcuse and showing solidarity with oppressed Guatemalan banana pickers by boycotting Chiquita. What we have today in this country is not anything to be ashamed of or to apologize for, but to be proud of.
Their poisonous notion of privilege is really just another way for liberals to pick winners and losers based not upon who has won or lost in the real world, but upon who is useful and not useful to the progressive project at any given moment.
This is why you see young people descended from Holocaust survivors tagged as bearers of “privilege” when their tattooed, emaciated grand-parents landed here with nothing but the clothes on their backs. Others who grew up in luxury get to bear the label of “unprivileged” because ten generations ago some relative came from a particular continent.
It’s idiocy. It’s immoral. We need to say so. For too long we’ve put up with this silliness.
What’s particularly amusing when you push back on these clowns is that they are so surprised to experience resistance to their petty fascism. Many of them, being the special snowflakes that they are, have never had anyone express to them the notion that they might be wrong. University administrators are too terrified of these whiny pipsqueaks to correct them. Certainly their helicopter parents never did – Gaia forbid that their little psyches be harmed by confronting them with their foolishness.
For too long we conservatives have played nicely, being good sports about being slandered and returning respect when offered contempt. It didn’t work. It’s time to try something new. And that something new is not taking guff from some 20 year-old gender studies major with a stupid tribal tatt, a sense of entitlement and a big mouth.
What they say is privilege is what we say is a reward for doing more with our lives than waiting for Uncle Sucker to refill our EBT cards. “Privilege” is a result of not being a human sloth, of not doing drugs, of not having kids we can’t afford them, and of not living our lives as a practical exercise in chaos theory.
Check my privilege? I just did, and it’s doing great. If you want some privilege too, maybe you ought to get your sorry behind a job.
Logically, "check your privilege" is just an "ad hominem" argument. It is also a descendant of Marx's view that your class position makes your thoughts more or less trustworthy
The income inequality chart the media never show you
When economists talk about income inequality, what exactly do they mean by “income?” Usually they are talking about market income, which is, as described in an enlightening new Minneapolis Fed paper, “wages, salaries, business and farm income, interest, dividends, rents and private transfers (such as alimony and child support), of all household members.”
Then you have disposable income, which includes market income but also adds in “all government transfers (such as Social Security, unemployment insurance and welfare) and subtracts tax liabilities. This is a measure of resources actually available to household members for spending.”
Turns out that when you are analyzing income inequality trends, it makes a great deal of difference whether you are using market income or disposable income, the latter of which gives a better feel for actual purchasing power. The above chart looks at inequality — as defined by the income ratio of the 95th percentile vs. the 50th percentile — using both income measures. From the Minneapolis Fed economist Fabrizio Perri:
The blue line in Figure 1 shows that since the early 1980s, there has been a sharp increase in market income inequality at the top. That is to say, market income for the high part of the U.S. household distribution (the 95) has been growing much faster than market income for the middle (the 50).
Less well-known are the dynamics of disposable income at the top, depicted by the red line in Figure 1. This line shows that over the 1980-96 period, disposable income inequality and market income inequality tracked quite closely.
After 1996, however, the two series started diverging:Market income inequality kept increasing at a steady pace, but disposable income inequality remained roughly flat. Indeed, over 1996-2012, market income of the top grew a total of 8 percent, while market income of the middle actually fell a total of 3 percent. Over the same period, however, disposable income of the top and the median displayed more similar growth rates of 8 percent and 5 percent, respectively.
This all suggests that despite increasing inequality in market income since the early 1980s, substantial government redistribution beginning in the mid-1990s, through taxes and transfers, has kept inequality levels in disposable household income quite stable. Interestingly, a big part of this redistribution appears to have taken place exactly during the Great Recession. Figure 1 displays this in the gap between the blue and the red lines; the market-disposable gap begins to open up in 2007 and has stayed at historical highs ever since.
Moreover, the data suggest that although inequality at the top in market income is currently at its historical high, inequality in disposable income has actually been flat or slightly falling over the past 15 years. This is because government redistribution between the top and the middle (the distance between the blue and the red lines) is also at its historical high.
One way, perhaps, to look at this data is that government redistribution has been offsetting a failure by the US education system to more broadly prepare a workforce for a labor market demanding greater skills.
The latest in a long tradition of government programs designed to criminalize private behavior and harass nonconformists, minorities, the poor and those with unpopular opinions and pastimes is Operation Choke Point, which started in March of last year but has only recently come to light due to a few high-profile effects. Jason Oxman of the Electronic Transactions Association explained it thus:
"…the Department of Justice and other federal agencies are…[pursuing] disfavored – but legal – categories of merchants by targeting our nation’s payments systems…as more details of the program become public, more concerns are raised. The “chokepoint” in this operation is the nation’s payments infrastructure…Federal law enforcers are targeting merchant categories like payday lenders, ammunition and tobacco sales, and telemarketers – but not merely by pursuing those merchants directly. Rather, Operation Chokepoint is flooding payments companies that provide processing service to those industries with subpoenas, civil investigative demands, and other burdensome and costly legal demands. The theory…has superficial logic: increase the legal and compliance costs of serving certain disfavored merchant categories, and payments companies will simply stop providing service to such merchants. And it’s working…Thus far, payday lenders have been the most frequent target…what category will be next and who makes that decision?"
The next big target, predictably, was sex work: under government pressure, Chase Bank has been closing down the accounts of anyone with any connection to porn, and though Paypal is very tight-lipped about it, there seems little doubt that the same program was the reason that it suddenly and without warning threatened to cut the crowdfunding platform Patreon off entirely due to “adult content” on the site. Lest you think this is going to stop with sex work, I call your attention to this list of businesses the FDIC considers “high risk”; many of these are already being targeted, so the rest won’t be far behind:
Cable Box De-scramblers
Credit Card Schemes
Credit Repair Services
Debt Consolidation Scams
Get Rich Products
Mailing Lists/Personal Info
Money Transfer Networks
Operation Choke PointWhile some of these (such as get-rich and Ponzi schemes) are undoubtedly sketchy and others (credit repair, debt consolidation) have strong potential to be, some of the others (escort services, gambling) are on the list due to a high chargeback rate, while others (gun & ammunition, drugs & tobacco) are purely political targets. But whatever the reason, the government’s growing tendency to force private entities to act as arms of the fascist state is incredibly alarming, not merely to those who care about human rights and individual liberty, but even to bankers:
"The Justice Department’s “Operation Choke Point” is…being pushed far beyond its stated objective…and is having potentially devastating impact on lawful check cashing and small loan businesses. This in turn will cut off tens of millions of people from much needed access to money to meet emergency needs…No matter what your personal view [of targeted industries]…Operation Choke Point should be both alarming and repugnant. It is a direct assault on the democratic system and free-market economy that have made the United States the most powerful and prosperous nation in world history. Without color of law and based on a political agenda, unelected bureaucrats at the Department of Justice are coordinating with some bank regulators to deny essential banking services to companies engaged in lawful business activities. Bankers operating under the yoke of an oppressive regulatory regime are being cowed into compliance. If lawful payday lenders and check cashers can be driven out of the banking system because someone in the government doesn’t like them or what they do, what lawful businesses are next?…"
Note that two of the articles I’ve quoted here ask the sensible question, “Who will be targeted next?” As I’ve pointed out many times, campaigns of persecution always start out with unpopular entities (in this case payday lenders and sex workers), but absolutely never stop there. Paypal would have shut down all of Patreon because some of its clients produced erotic art; by the same token, what’s to stop Operation Choke Point from attacking convenience stores for selling tobacco, liquor, lottery tickets and men’s magazines? There are always useful idiots who will support tyranny against things they don’t like (such as guns, tobacco or porn), and are20000 Leagues Under the Sea then shocked when the same legal tools are used against things they do like (such as birth control). For now, legal-but-disfavored businesses can turn to bitcoin and offshore payment processing. But while the DoJ is currently satisfied with mere financial harassment, it wouldn’t be hard for its prosecutors to invent spurious charges using vague statutes (“conspiracy”, “wire fraud” and “money laundering” are very handy that way) to persecute targeted businesses which keep going despite the government’s attempts to stifle them. I can’t say where it will all end, but I can say this: it won’t stop on its own. The institutions behind it must be hacked apart, before they strangle us all.
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Posted by JR at 12:33 AM