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Culture War Roundup for the week of September 26, 2022

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I am torn between enjoying your rambling narrative, and agreeing with your critics who find it to be without a clear point, just a few little gleams of insight amongst the dross and bashing on your "enemies."

I mean, I won't judge you for dropping $1200 on strippers per se. People with discretionary income spend it on what they want to spend it on, and I am not an Effective Altruist spending all my money in the most qualia-maximizing utilitarian way either. But telling this story of wasted carousing followed by some sort of Oprah-worthy parable about how you made a homeless guy cry in gratitude because you asked his name and bought him $30 worth of candy... come on, man. Congratulations, you discovered the Inherent Dignity of All Human Beings. Then you go off on some sort of rant about everyone who's not as enlightened as you is a hypocrite and we should all agree with state welfare solutions or we're your enemy?

I mean, I actually do agree that even homeless meth addicts are entitled to basic human dignity and we should help them if we are able (as opposed to shipping them off to @Hoffmeister25's "farms"), but you're ignoring basically every argument about this subject that's ever been made on The Motte. Most of those guys don't want help and we can't make them want help. About the best solution we can come up with is making resources available to those who actually want to get clean and salvage something of their lives, and minimize the damage done by those who don't. The problem is that your kind of superficial do-gooderism tends to focus on maximizing the drain that the hopeless wretches who fall into the latter category put on the system. Sure, look them in the eyes and buy them candy now and then, that will make them feel briefly human for a few minutes. Tomorrow, he won't even remember your act of kindness, but he will still be looking for a car to break into to get his next fix.

I didn't see the parent comment before it was deleted, but I think I enjoy your summary better anyway.

I think your prose are written from the point of view of someone who is fairly privileged. I say this at the risk of making assumptions about a stranger I do not know. But it is what I get from it. As far as I can see your qualia, your sentience, my sentience, doesn't mean much. There are billions of people on this planet. There have been thousands of generations of life ending in death, most of which were with untold suffering. You, nor I, nor the homeless man is in any way special. What in my opinion is most important is channeling the resources we have to alleviate this suffering in the most effective way we can. Some causes are resource sinks, they are blackholes.

(edit: seems like the op has deleted his writing which I think is a shame. Seen as we are off reddit now is there a way to prevent this. Or atleast make the post anonymous rather than deleted.)

But it is what I get from it. As far as I can see your qualia, your sentience, my sentience, doesn't mean much.

I think this might be a copout. Heuristics have their weaknesses but a heuristic that rarely ever let me down I have is that "If its too easy, it's not right".

When you are faced with the visceral realization that every human, all 7 billion of them are just as sentient as you and their suffering is just as painful as yours, and that a majority of them suffer in painful silence. It can be overwhelming.

Two groups of people can come up two solutions to that. One group says "throw all the money at that problem right now !". Another group says "it doesn't matter". Neither of which is effective or true. Both of those are easy. Throwing money at the problem is easy, turning a blind eye to it is also easy.

But if you accept that it does matter, their suffering is as real as yours, and that throwing money at it isn't effective. Then you are really left in a difficult situation. And my pet heuristic tells me that is truthful position to be in. No one ever said it was going to be easy.

Sure, the object level problem is yet to be solved, but all the solutions are harder than ignoring or sacrificing all else at the cost of it.

When you are faced with the visceral realization that every human, all 7 billion of them are just as sentient as you and their suffering is just as painful as yours, and that a majority of them suffer in painful silence. It can be overwhelming.

And yet, humanity goes on absorbed in its daily routines and dramas without much societal psychosis about this fact.

People are more absorbed by whether that person they want to mate with is giving them the right look, whether their boss is happy with them or whether their friends are pulling their weight than they are about the massive suffering of people in

And, as someone from one of those Generic Third World Countries I can tell you that we spoke jealously about how much Westerners "wasted" while we had so little but ourselves "wasted" part of what we had with limited concern for the less fortunate.

It's almost like we weren't built to care about humanity as such. To steal a Thatcher line: there are individual societies and families, humanity? The jury is out.

Two groups of people can come up two solutions to that. One group says "throw all the money at that problem right now !". Another group says "it doesn't matter". Neither of which is effective or true. Both of those are easy. Throwing money at the problem is easy, turning a blind eye to it is also easy.

My personal heuristic leans against the belief these two groups are similar in size or ease or are balanced in any sense. One of them seems vastly more natural and easy than the other and one of them has vastly more evidence of revealed preference and a good evolutionary justification.

I would argue that, not only are the effective altruists the weirdos, the universalists in general are. The guy who pays lip service to the idea that the suffering of whoever in Guyana is as important (psychologically) as his is a weirdo. He may be a liar, unlike the person who actually wants to put their money where their mouth is, but he shares a similar assumption that is nowhere near obvious.

But if you accept that it does matter, their suffering is as real as yours, and that throwing money at it isn't effective. Then you are really left in a difficult situation. And my pet heuristic tells me that is truthful position to be in. No one ever said it was going to be easy.

"People feel as I do, but I don't have to give their feelings the same priority as mine" also seems quite truthful. And a precept we live by every day when we (for example) favor our own pleasure or kin despite knowing everyone else feels the same.

You aren't the first person to discover that homeless people appreciate being looked in the eye and spoken to like they are human beings. In fact, I was trained to do that from a Catholic Charity - that even if I don't have any cash lying around I can still help make someone's day if I have just 10 minutes to spare. In fact, Catholic charities are making those individual connections and treating the undesirables like human beings all the time, in a way that does not often happen at a governmental level. I don't believe that it's 100% sufficient - there needs to be a safeguard to protect people who live far away from charities or who have personalities that conflict with the charities. But you are knocking Christians for something they are constantly doing and something that just occurred to you.

I don't distrust welfare because it gives money to the undeserving. I am worried that we create perverse incentives for single mothers. I am worried that it increases the percent of people who could have been working but now have time to spend on criminality and drugs/escapism. I would support the Freedom Dividend, or Fair Tax, or whatever welfare plan that helps prevent that incentive structure.

I dropped $1200 on private dances with strippers tonight.

The sad state of punting in the US. Do you at least get a happy ending with this much money?

Judging by the internet reports, easily findable around, if HE is your ultimate goal, it can be obtained much cheaper than $1000 in the US. People make fun of the "I only get Playboy for the articles" meme, but there's a lot of evidence that there are people who prefer giving out money for dances which likely won't end up with sex to hiring a prostitute for the same money. I'm sure somewhere on Reddit there's a forum where they explain why, but their existence is quite observable fact even without that.

spending over a grand at a strip club is not the behavior of a man trying to get laid, but a man that enjoys throwing money around. Dunno where the guy was but chances are if there's a nice strip club then there are actual whores hiding somewhere nearby and they generally don't charge 1200 a go.

but to answer your question no, the money you spend at a strip club usually does not translate to actual sexual favors, although there are exceptions to this rule.

And Jesus said:

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Some part of me hates those fucking Christians who displayed Christian values more than I ever saw anyone do so before, because they fucking did that for a guy they knew and then didn't do it for anyone else.

Yeah. We know it. We've been told it. Some of us do it, some of us don't.

This post reads like a right-winger’s uncharitable parody of a rich liberal Jewish douchebag. You spent more money than my entire paycheck on pointless degeneracy, then on a random whim you bought some bum candy - not something useful that might get him through any extended period of time, but a bit of pointless temporary hedonism - sort of like your trip to the strip club, but in miniature - and now you’re congratulating yourself like you’re some kind of saint.

I’m perfectly happy to embrace being your enemy. As far as I’m concerned, what we as a society do with Smokey and Sean and Matt us that we take them far away, to some ranch estate owned by the government, and then they never come back. As for what happens at that estate, I’m not picky. Maybe it’s like an asylum, maybe it’s a labor camp, maybe they just put them to sleep. That’s pretty much where I’m at with it. I don’t need to suffer every day so that you can keep Smokey and Matt around as props to flatter your own undeserved sense of moral superiority or rub them in our faces.

What does the strip club visit have to do with your point about homeless people, strip clubs don't cause anyone issues that they didn't put themselves into. I dislike the word degeneracy, because it implies that innocent activities are malicious and that the people who do them are bad people, I dont think that sort of slander should be allowed in a forum like this. Its like a leftist calling rightwingers racist and fascist.

Giving a homeless person candy is a legitimate act of charity, I am not sure why your criticising that. Homeless people are chronically hungry, and feeding the poor is helping them, its definitely not harming them. It also makes them feel like other people care about them.

What are some concrete ways in which the homeless cause you suffering?

https://www.mercurynews.com/2021/12/22/fire-destroys-south-san-jose-synagogue/

“I can’t tell how it started and why it started,” Cohen said. “If I had to guess, living in San Jose, it was probably a homeless person trying to stay warm. It’s a miracle that no one got hurt.”

There was a big homeless encampment within short walking distance from that place at the time (probably still is). That said, in those parts, there's a lately a homeless encampment within walking distance from pretty much any place. With all that this usually implies - safety, sanitation, drugs & all that jazz. That was one of the factors why I am no longer living in those parts.

I agree with you for the most part, I'm just curious: why is your hypothetical rich liberal douchebag Jewish?

the first poster literally said

however that one ends. I'm a heeb, idk.

Eh, I read that as more "Whatever, I'm secular/atheist, and my background tradition is Jewish not Christian anyway". Not that he was going "damn Christians and the way they have persecuted Jews" or stuff.

I'm not the commenter, but it seems like Jews tend to hold the most animus toward Christians of all the groups except maybe those who actively broke with the faith.

He isn’t, but this piece specifically reads like the Jewish version of the rich liberal douchebag. The unprovoked attacks on supposed Christian hypocrisy, the elevation of telescopic philanthropy over normal human relational networks (at least for non-Jews), the empty moral preening.

The unprovoked attacks on supposed Christian hypocrisy

He has a point on this though, while jesus "the son of god" talked a lot about feeding the hungry, loving the poor, and stuff along those lines, orthodox christians talk alot about.. gender roles and birth control.

We do that stuff with our churches and our own time, which was the actual point of the commands in question.

I would have guessed "atheist" more than "Jewish." In my experience, Jews (even of the self-righteous liberal douchebag variety) don't bash on Christianity per se nearly as much as atheists from a culturally Christian background do. They are particularly unlikely to write an essay like this full of Biblical allusions before the dig at church Christians. This was more like bashing on the near-group than the far/outgroup. So the random insertion of "Jewish" did seem like a Freudian tell.

The OP calls himself “a heeb”, so his Jewishness was made explicit and relevant by himself, not me.

I think he specifically is referring to atheist, culturally universalist / liberal jews with "jewish"

"You believe in the basic human dignity of everyone, no matter how drug addicted or retarded or crippled they are, or you're my enemy."

I agree that all humans carry the buddha nature but I disagree that...

  1. Government welfare is the solution.

  2. Making someone your enemy because of a perceived lack of compassion goes down a very dark road. And you're likely to side with the dazzling hypocrite and their honeyed words over the secretly charitable who disagrees with point 1.

basic human

Well, there's a phrase that rings alarm bells in my head. Usually the continuation is "decency," and I've never liked that phrase, because it seems frequently deployed to suggest "[agree without question to my contention or] you are basically indecent and/or inhuman."

Evocative writing, but I agree with cuwurious. I applaud you for taking care of a homeless man - certainly more altruistic than most as you point out. But by your own metric, if we can't rely on institutions to fix human suffering, only other people, why didn't you spend that $1,200 on others instead of a strip club?

The utilitarian model appeals to me because I feel I have more wiggle room with my own personal spending as long as I'm trying to be thoughtful and careful when donating money.

I didn't do it because it maximized efficiency. I did it because it made a human being happy

Utilitarians literally want to maximize efficiency of making people happy, though. The greatest happiness of the greatest number! And malaria nets and givedirectly are actually "helping people" instead of praying for them after they die of crack, etc. Not watching your children die of malaria presumably creates much more happiness than candy. So what specifically does the sneer about efficiency mean here?

You will never be satisfied that THE AGENCY TASKED WITH PROBLEM SOLVING will solve the problem

okay, well being 'satisfied' clearly isn't the issue, it's the actual people who are dying, right? Let's say all of the EA people were forced to do a bunch of LSD and MDMA and 'satisfied' themselves, and then donated $300/month to homeless people, and then a hundred thousand people who would've been alive died of malaria.

How on earth does giving the guy candy actually accomplish anything? Would giving him more meth? The meth would certainly make him - for the moment - much happier than the candy.

His birthright is the stars, the same as yours is

But he probably doesn't have the physical capability to go to the stars, or contribute to a way there. So what does this mean? "Everyone deserves everything, nobody deserves anything" is a zen koan, a way to notice that "deserve" doesn't necessarily mean anything by itself, not to declare doing meaningless symbolic acts is the greatest good.

So what specifically does the sneer about efficiency mean here?

Damnit Spock, I'm a doctor, not a statistician!

Nice rant and all, but I wish you waited until tomorrow with it, because I have no idea what your point is supposed to be.

And Jesus said:

"Do not give bread unto the poor, as life is a repeated game, and the poor will learn that optimal strategy is not to source their own bread"

Hilarious! Really stuck it to those hypocritical Christians. But it's been a while since I read the Bible, what was the actual quote from Jesus? "Do not give bread unto the poor, but do give them a handful of candy, as long as it doesn't cut into your strip-club budget. Oh, and don't forget to be extremely judgmental of people who disagree with you!"?

I'm not religious, I'm for the welfare state, I'm even for small random acts of kindness towards people on the margins of society, but I have no idea what your point is, and your worldview is bordering on parody for me.

Welfare states are a way for people who love systems to also love people.

I tend to think of it the other way around: welfare states are a way to have a system for loving people, for people who regard benevolence as the primary (or even sole) virtue.

Welfare states are a machine for creating warm fuzzies in the hearts of their supporters (that's the "welfare" bit) and dollars in the pockets of the PMC/other government-privileged groups being hired to do the makework (that's the "state" bit).

There's an outsourcing element to it, where all the work that actually requires any amount of love is done by burnt-out social workers. I can understand how someone cynical could believe that that is the entire point.

That's definitely part of it, but a lot of those social workers also favour a (generous) welfare state.

Well, their jobs depend on it, so that's hardly surprising.

I see where you're coming from, and it's definitely a failure mode of theirs, but life is often about picking the least bad option.