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Culture War Roundup for the week of May 13, 2024

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A helicopter carrying Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi suffered a “hard landing” on Sunday, Iranian state television reported, without immediately elaborating.

Raisi was traveling in Iran’s East Azerbaijan province. State TV said the incident happened near Jolfa, a city on the border with with the nation of Azerbaijan, some 600 kilometers (375 miles) northwest of the Iranian capital, Tehran.

Rescuers were attempting to reach the site, state TV said, but had been hampered by poor weather condition in the area. There had been heavy rain reported with some wind.

Edit 6:14 GMT: Reports that three members of the Red Crescent search team have gone missing in the search area.

Edit 6:17 GMT: Iranian government claims it has made contact with two passengers at the crash site.

Edit 3:25 GMT: Iranian sources have confirmed that the President and all other people on board died in the crash.

Helicopters in rough terrain and bad weather is uncomfortably close to rolling dice with your life on the line.

Unconfirmed reports israel thinks he’s dead.

Oil to the moon

Link?

It was a prediction (slightly joking). If there is any instability or use of the instability to expand the Israeli conflict, then oil will go up.

Is it instability if Israel just wins? Do any Iranian officials really want to spearhead a new anti-Israel campaign? Sounds like a death wish.

  1. Don’t know the internal politics within Iran.

  2. Interregnum periods are often chaotic.

  3. We don’t know if the crash was an accident or a foreign op. If latter, Iran may escalate or internal faction may claim foreign op to effectuate its own goal.

  4. Doesn’t need to be with Israel but could expand for example support of Yemen in proxy war with Saudi Arabia.

Betcha it trades down on Monday. Punters betting on Middle East chaos have always lost, this time won't be different. The galaxy brain move is to short oil here. It's worked every other time.

(Note: I also subscribe to the conspiracy theory that the oil price is manipulated by Western government actors).

Edit: Oil opened down but is now up 0.19% as of 11:00pm eastern. Middle East news is either neutral or negative for oil prices.

Edit 2: Oil now sharply down after some Fed guy pontificated.

Personally, I subscribe to the conspiracy theory that the oil price is manipulated by middle eastern government actors.

They try, but they're just so bad at it. Part of it is unavoidable. The U.S. is the world's top oil producer now.

But also, these governments are clown-level incompetent, and are always backstabbing each other to avoid their quotas. In other news, apparently one of the helicopters sent to aid the rescue of the Iranian President has crashed with multiple casualties.

But also, these governments are clown-level incompetent, and are always backstabbing each other to avoid their quotas.

To be fair, I'm pretty sure Western governments are not above bribing them to backstab each other.

The recent discussion about Red Lobster (link) focused on analyzing how the $20 all you can eat shrimp bankrupted the company because it was too good of a deal and analyzing the declining social trust to keep it afloat.

Everyone in the comments has fun linking this to their favorite hobbyhorses. Here's mine talking about a cool idea for a legal system I was thinking about.

Great story everyone. But one question, is this actually true?


Some Xsocial users are linking the company's demise to private equity:

Quote https://x.com/windcomecalling/status/1790889866844422528

while this is a very funny idea, the reality is much more depressing: they made like $2 billion in revenue that year. the loss from endless shrimp was basically a rounding error—the thing that actually bankrupted them was private equity

Hmm.

Quote https://x.com/edzitron/status/1790493687572754654

Their ceo is a lawyer-MBA and they were bought by a Thailand-based private equity group that makes most of its money selling canned seafood, and they've been downsizing the company consistently since Thai Union Group took control in 2020

They also launched an insane permanent all you can eat shrimp deal that killed revenue. Thai Union basically ran the company into the ground.

Seems like the private equity group is deliberately running the company into the ground, and using the unlimited deal as a cover story. Another case of corporate greed destroying a profitable company and generally being evil.

Great story. But one question, is this actually true?


This analysis is another interesting angle on it, quote https://x.com/cunha_tristan/status/1791807133886861317

Golden Gate bought Red Lobster for 2.1 billion, and then sold off a bunch of real estate for almost that much. Although at one point they actually bought back a little bit of it, which is weird.

But then after selling the real estate, they sold the restaurant business to new investors. They sold the initial 25% of it for over $500 million.

Which seems to show that the real estate and the restaurant businesses were more valuable split up than together. It seems like the restaurants owning their real estate was dragging down the value of the real estate, it was worth much more split off. Which would make sense if the restaurants were poorly run, that business was being subsidized by the real estate portfolio.

The land was more valuable than the company. Private equity bought the company to sell the land to someone who could make more money with it.

This is.... Georgism???

Great story. But one question, is this actually true?


I honestly don't know.

Here's a 2015 article showing Golden Gate Capital made the transaction the last tweet is talking about:

Golden Gate Capital, which bought Red Lobster from Darden Restaurants Inc. for $2.1 billion, and then sold that real estate to VEREIT for $1.5 billion, has now agreed to acquire $204 million of Red Lobster real estate back from the firm.

The narrative seems plausible and would be an interesting twist. But perhaps it's too good of a story.

Does anyone have more source/knowledge of this kind of corporate dealing? Is private equity delivering the Georgist promise?

Fast food chains like McDonald’s make most of their money by picking really good real estate locations. Red Lobster may have been doing the same, and once their mediocre business stopped being profitable they decided to simply transition to real estate. The “losses” may be beneficial in terms of tax deductions for the parent company, the business being maintained for that reason while they are in it for the real estate. From some googling,

Red Lobster's customer base tends to be older, with a significant portion of their customers falling into the 50s and 60s age range

Okay, so the writing was on the wall. That was 10 years ago. They made their business decision to maximize how much money enters their pockets. The idea that the chain’s demise was caused by unsavory bottom feeding prawns proles is a silly WSJ (the opposite of SJW) fiction that allows the corporation leaders behind the scenes to shift blame to, I don’t know, poor people who like sea food deals. Gah, if only there were a way to prevent them from sharing shrimp! That didn’t smell fishy to anyone? Hook line and sinker people fell for it.

McDonald’s is in part a ‘real estate’ business because of its franchising system, wherein it acts as landlord to franchisees. McDonald’s therefore both makes money the usual way franchised restaurants do and on rent for those same franchise owners.

Red Lobster was not franchised. When it was sold in 2014, every single Red Lobster restaurant was owned and operated by the company itself. From an article from the time:

…Golden Gate, which bought the chain for $2.1 billion in 2014. At that time, virtually all of the real estate under Red Lobster restaurants was owned by the chain, which has no franchisees.

McDonald’s’ model isn’t typically attempted by most modern restaurant chains, even those that do franchise, because shareholders tend to prefer that excess profits are reinvested in growth or returned to them rather than used to buy commercial real estate which the investors could buy exposure to themselves to the extent that they want to.

Looks like the private equity is the “real estate company” and Red Lobster is the leaser*

https://www.businessinsider.com/red-lobster-endless-shrimp-bankruptcy-private-equity-debt-real-estate-2024-5

In 2014, amid flagging sales and pressure from investors, Darden sold Red Lobster for $2.1 billion to Golden Gate Capital, a San Francisco private-equity firm. To raise enough cash to make the deal happen, Golden Gate sold off Red Lobster's real estate to another entity — in this case, a company called American Realty Capital Properties — and then immediately leased the restaurants back

"The thing that private equity does is just unload assets and monetize assets. And so they effectively paid for the purchase of Red Lobster by selling the real estate," he said. "It'll probably be fine, generally, but there's going to come a time in which your sales fall, your profitability is challenged, and your debt looks too bad, and then suddenly those leases are going to look awfully ugly."

"Once they sell the real estate, then the private-equity company is golden, and they've made their money back and probably more than what they paid," she said, noting that this was a common theme in other restaurants and retailers and adding: "The retail apocalypse is all about having your real estate sold out from under you so that you have to pay the rent in good times and in bad."

Yeah, but the whole reason this approach is even viable is because when Red Lobster was both real estate company and restaurant operator, investors valued it at less than the sum of its parts. Since the late 1980s conglomerates have fallen out of fashion because asset managers of all kinds prefer to deal with pure play companies (especially outside big tech) and to handle allocation themselves. The big Japanese conglomerates often trade at very poor multiples compared to Western businesses not only because of the state of the Japanese economy but because when you buy into one you’re buying into like 15 arbitrary and often barely related business areas. By contrast in the American equity market an investor can more easily measure and tailor their exposure to real estate, oil, railroads, video games, b2b SaaS and so on. Those looking for a preset diversified portfolio can buy an index or buy big holding companies like Berkshire or the public PE firms that have exposure to many different kinds of business.

Private equity is just the corporate raiding/hostile takeover meme of the 1980s updated for the 21st century. Most medium and large private companies are very poorly run, the same way most major corporations were until the late 1980s. A combination of M&A and MBB consulting (mock them freely, but the sad thing is they were once necessary) dealt with most of the low hanging fruit in public markets, and takeover defense is now much better anyway, but in private companies things are still bad. PE is not typically a bad thing, and makes for more successful businesses that do more business and employ more people more often than not. Purely extractive moves still happen, but they’re disproportionately subjects of reporting and PE is now so well developed that (especially with higher rates) an extract what you can, sell-for-parts approach is less and less of a viable way to invest clients’ capital.

That said, selling corporate owned real-estate is a good thing for most businesses. There’s a reason why almost no major corporations other than super rich tech companies in the suburbs own their own corporate headquarters; when you own your premises, you’re a real estate company in addition to doing whatever else you do. Conglomerates are almost always undervalued by markets, it makes more sense for most companies to sign long leases, to focus on their core business as a pure play, and to leave real estate to asset managers and real estate developers who are valued on that basis and have expertise in that market.

when you own your premises, you’re a real estate company in addition to doing whatever else you do.

You say that like it's a bad thing! Real estate in major American cities has been one of the most profitable investments of the last 50 years!

A big business like Red Lobster could even do some weird things to manipulate the market. Like

  1. open a business that attracts a lot of loud, low-class customers to lower the value of nearby real estate
  2. buy up all that real estate
  3. close the red lobster and start a fancy coffee shop or art gallery instead
  4. profit!

This is awesome! I think we've found a new business model for Chuck-E-Cheese.

Red Lobster isn’t located in the areas with strong real estate markets. Those are all Gateway markets (defined as NYC, San Fran, LA, Boston, Miami) mostly coastal. Not 4th tier cities and exurbs where Red Lobster largely operates.

I’m not sure large pubcos are that much better run. Instead, I think unfortunately Marty Lipton convinced Delaware that anti takeover measures were somehow consistent with shareholder primacy when in reality they just protect management ensuring it can screw the shareholders.

I think the raw classical economics argument for prohibiting most forms of takeover defense isn’t completely wrong, but it also isn’t entirely correct. Im based in the UK which bans many of the major tactics used in the US, and I don’t think UK pubcos are run better than American ones on the whole, but I think to me the biggest issue I have with US public companies is super voting shares. These were illegal in London until about 5 years ago; every share had to have the same voting power to be (in practice) eligible for a primary listing in London and for inclusion in indices. They changed it under pressure from the government because British tech companies were IPOing in the US to preserve founder control. I think it’s a hugely negative development in ECM for shareholders, banks and the wider public.

Of course, there are a lot of other restrictions on UK pubcos. That is, there is more differences between UK pubcos compared to say Delaware ones. Also, would be interesting since some UK pubcos are England and Wales PLCs whilst others are Jersey.

That said, selling corporate owned real-estate is a good thing for most businesses. There’s a reason why almost no major corporations other than super rich tech companies in the suburbs own their own corporate headquarters; when you own your premises, you’re a real estate company in addition to doing whatever else you do. Conglomerates are almost always undervalued by markets, it makes more sense for most companies to sign long leases, to focus on their core business as a pure play, and to leave real estate to asset managers and real estate developers who are valued on that basis and have expertise in that market.

Would I be correct in saying that’s mostly just the west? My impression is that in Japan at least, and maybe other Asian countries too, vertical integration is much higher. I would be surprised if Toyota/Panasonic/Yamato etc. don’t own their own land. Certainly they used to: during the bubble Sony’s real estate holding were worth more than the rest of the company put together.

I would be surprised if Toyota/Panasonic/Yamato etc. don’t own their own land.

Toyota's most recent annual SEC filing indicates that it owns land worth 1.4 billion dollars, or 1.9 percent of its assets. "Of Toyota's principal facilities and organizations, all are owned by Toyota Motor Corporation or its subsidiaries. However, small portions, all under approximately 20 percent, of some facilities are on leased premises."

In comparison, GM owns land worth 1.3 billion dollars, or 0.47 percent of its assets. It has "rent expense under operating leases" of 350 million dollars per year, or 0.20 percent of its revenue.

Slight nitpick. But using listed real estate value on SEC findings will not be accurate. Those will be at historical costs not current market value and is depreciated. It’s a lot like prop 13 in California. If Toyota bought the land the factory sits on in the 1970’s then the land will be listed at 1970 prices.

It’s also obvious in this discussion that companies that need physical footprints will have exposure to real estate. There are many different flavors of corporate leases but many of them are functionally no different than owning real estate. A 300 year lease with pass thru of maintenance, property taxes, etc is in terms of economics no different than owning the property with a mortgage.

Leases have a mathematical property that is a lot like delta in options. Options are not the same as owning equity but delta is a measure of the options price movement to the underlying equity. Similar shorter term leases have little exposure to the underlying real estate while longer term leases can be indistinguishable from owning real estate. Most of these leaseback deals are long term and would essentially have a lot of delta.

Is midtwit leftist Twitter that bad?

They “made” $2 billion. No the had revenue of $2 billion.

It’s just looks like a constant gotcha with no desire to understand what is going on.

The real estate deal had nothing to do with Georgism. If you google the deal it’s just as sale-leaseback. A sale lease-back is much more like taking out a mortgage on your real estate than a true sale. For various reasons corporations like to do these things. Red Lobster took property they owned and then sold it to someone else but then had to make rent payments and usually these type of deals would have RL paying most operating costs and property taxes. A sale leaseback is a little bit like debt most of the time for the buyer of the real estate and occasionally turns into owner real estate (like if Red Lobster goes bankrupt then the buyer of the sale-leaseback suddenly own a bunch of real estate without a tenant they need to figure out how to reposition). Basically a corporate bond collateralized with real estate.

If the leases have actual value as in the real estate went up in value and someone would rent it for a higher price you occasionally see the leases resold for profit to (Red Lobster in this case) a new business (in this case an expanding restaurant chain) but most of the time the landlord takes a big L and has a pain point of figuring out what to do with the property.

My opinion would be reading those tweets actively makes you less intelligence and gives you zero information on what is actually going on.

It’s just looks like a constant gotcha with no desire to understand what is going on.

Yeah.

The real estate deal had nothing to do with Georgism.

If the leases have actual value as in the real estate went up in value and someone would rent it for a higher price you occasionally see the leases resold for profit to (Red Lobster in this case) a new business (in this case an expanding restaurant chain) but most of the time the landlord takes a big L and has a pain point of figuring out what to do with the property.

I see a similarity between them:

Georgism incentivizes maximizing profit over real-estate by increasing the rent. Low income usages can't pay the rents. Some implementations (??) make the land owner set the price they're taxed on and they'd be forced to sell to any purchaser at that price.

But here someone bet the land was under-utilized, bought the company with the goal of selling hte land to someone who can make more money with it. I'm not sure about the implementation of whether the previous owners of Red Lobster knew this was the plan and were okay with it.

Overstated it seems. Hyperion commented on this take, do you have a similar view to them?

The firm who bought the real estate almost certainly took a giant loss on the deal.

People who buy NNN leases are buying cash flows tied to the leases betting that Red Lobster will stay in business and pay rent for probably something like 30 years. The buyers of these are much more like a mortgage bank than they are a land speculator. These are basically now junk bonds in default where the owner of the leases now own a bunch of restaurants without tenants they are going to need to spend a lot of money renovating (Tenant improvements) to recover any value.

I don’t know how many times I need to say this but in the real estate world these things are not “owning” real estate the same way a normal person would think about it.

These are the same people who would buy bonds backed by Pepsi but Pepsi just went bankrupt and your trying to figure out what you can liquidate to recover some value.

I think Georgism is silly. Private markets are always trying to redevelop properties into better use cases that increase rents. I think Georgism fails because develops largely profit by pushing for projects that will increase the value of their land and therefore increase rents. By taking away that profit developers have less incentive to be boost land values.

Good summary of the competing narratives.

My take... What's with all the talking points about how it's somehow evil to buy a company and then sell it for parts? Why shouldn't an owner be able to buy a failing restaurant, sell the real estate, and then let the restaurant fail? Or more, accurately, if I buy something I should be able to do what I want with it.

Is Red Lobster such a valuable institution that owners must be forced to prop it up with infusions of capital? You know, for the good of society.

We need more zombie corporations going under, and less hand-wringing when they do. Failing companies failing is the engine of creative destruction, and therefore growth.

I think it depends on the details. For example, is the company actually failing right this minute or not?

Doing productive things with a doomed business deep in the red is different from strip-mining a struggling company's assets because you think you could make more money speculating on their real estate value. Or taking a company with a reputation for high quality products, reducing the quality, and profiting off the reputation that the previous owners built up.

Some companies deserve to die (I work for one). But in general people admire building things and disapprove of destroying them.

Why shouldn't an owner be able to buy a failing restaurant, sell the real estate, and then let the restaurant fail?

Sounds fine, until your area loses its hospital because PE came in and did something similar (it's a growing problem in healthcare). Lots of organizations you wouldn't want to lose are sitting on valuable real estate and operating with razor thin margins or other similar sins.

Sure, hospitals are different. As always there are specific exceptions to general principles.

There is no need, however, to protect a failing Red Lobster as a cultural institution.

Is it? Maybe hospitals suck. I wonder if you really need a maternity war combined with a cancer war combined with an ER.

Maybe splitting some of these up into smaller offices would better in the long run.

I think people haven't fully grappled with the implications of Evolution. And maybe don't understand how capitalism works. I barely do either.

Here are some talking points I see:

Why shouldn't an owner be able to buy a failing restaurant, sell the real estate, and then let the restaurant fail?

There's the inconvenience of being reorganized. All the employees on the healthcare plan, who've moved across the country for this job for their family, who've put effort and sweat every day to make the company better (and other such sympathetic narratives), are suddenly shuffled into the labour market without their consent.

Particularly when the company is on net-profitable. A narrative that this perfectly fine business that's meeting people's needs is deemed "unvaluable" by corporate spreadsheets and then gutted to make room for some high-end fancy business. Rich people are willing to pay more than poor people, and now this veers into gentrification arguments.

if I buy something I should be able to do what I want with it

There's also aesthetic quality to this.

Buying a rare painting from a private collector and then burning it is legal and unimpeachable, and yet I still feel there is something lost, an aesthetic duty to the commons. Memories, sentimental memories lost to the wind. Perhaps less so with a property like Red Lobster.

There's the inconvenience of being reorganized. All the employees on the healthcare plan, who've moved across the country for this job for their family, who've put effort and sweat every day to make the company better (and other such sympathetic narratives), are suddenly shuffled into the labour market without their consent.

If the company isn't making money, there's an argument that these people's working lives are being wasted. Moving across the country with family, effort and sweat every day to make the company better, all in service of something that is valued as a net negative to society. It's not a charity, it's not a social cause, this isn't a job that gives society virtues immeasurable. It's a mid-casual restaurant chain that could be easily replaced with another. It's losing money because it isn't worth anything, and I hope workers get to work at places that are worth something, even if they're mid-casual restaurant chains.

There are other practical problems here, kicking people off insurance and making them find new jobs and all the hardship and drama. But that's not really the responsibility of the PE guys. Ideally, the government taxes those guys on the wealth they've freed up and made more efficient, and we use those tax monies to provide for the social good of the people effected. Something like this even happens in real life, we just spend a tremendous amount of money on all the wrong programs and welfare.

Buying a rare painting from a private collector and then burning it is legal and unimpeachable

In the UK there is a system for protecting beautiful old houses, fully or partially. You are permitted to do whatever you like with a ‘listed’ house provided that you don’t damage the listed parts of the building. So you can knock down and rebuild the back of the building but you can’t damage the Georgian facade, for example.

There are occasional shenanigans but in general the system seems to work quite well, and strikes a good balance between ownership rights and protecting the public heritage. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were similar systems for notable works of art.

The united States has such deed restrictions as well, and changes require historical society approval.

This sucks when there is a roof leak, and directly contributes to why historical buildings rot away.

I can't speak for the US, but I haven't heard of such cases in the UK. Obviously old buildings can get damp, but I've never heard of somebody not being able to repair their house because it's listed. Might cost a bit more, but listed houses are usually expensive and owned by richish people in the first place.

This is.... Georgism???

No, it's just regular arbitrage. arbitrage would work the same Georgism or not. The whole point of Georgism, is that, if done perfectly, it only has distributional effects, it doesn't change the economic efficiency of the outcome. It is a pure transfer with no distortionary effects.

Ah, I have a very shallow model of Georgism.

Specifically I got it confused with the argument that it pushes low-value companies out of high-value land (as a pro).

pushes low-value companies out of high-value land (as a pro).

If by 'value' you mean a market value people are willing to pay for, then that is true. But, this is a distributional effect. It's like how if we had let the plains Indians own all that prime farmland on the prairie, it could just be used by them to hunt buffalo, but if they had to pay a land tax, they could never afford it. Both outcomes are Pareto efficient, under certain extreme, frictionless, assumptions. However, the distributional consequences are very different, with the land owners rents being totally redistributed to the tax collecting government and these distributional consequences determine what is produced, it's just both outcomes are as economically efficient.

But, this is a distributional effect. It's like how if we had let the plains Indians own all that prime farmland on the prairie, it could just be used by them to hunt buffalo, but if they had to pay a land tax, they could never afford it.

You know, I think you just made one of the most powerful arguments against Georgism I've seen. At least for leftists that I've seen that support it.

What would giving native's back their land matter if the land value was all taxed away? I guess if they were their own nations that didn't have to share with white people it would be different, but you can't get to that scenario now without ethnically cleansing white people or allowing minority rule by the natives. Both things allegedly the worst crimes imaginable for the left if white people do them, but somehow righteous if 'indigenous' people do it.

https://reason.com/volokh/2024/05/15/congress-is-preparing-to-restore-quotas-in-college-admissions/

Apparently, there's a new privacy bill in congress, with a maximally bad attachment to it, and quite likely to pass. (what kind of monster would be against privacy? )

Almost all kinds of decision making (anything that involves computers seems like) are classed as an algorithm.

If your 'algorithm' causes disparate impact, it's bad and you must change it or you're open to lawsuits. Yearly review of the 'algorithm' is mandatory, first review in 2 years after bill is passed..

Covers: every bigger business (iirc 750 employees+), all social networks and...??all nonprofits using computers to process 'personal data' to submit yearly evaluations if they're not causing 'disparate impact'. Excepted: the entire finance industry, government contractors.

It also explicitly allows discrimination on the basis of a protected characteristics (race, sex etc) for the purpose of

27 (ii) diversifying an applicant, participant, or customer pool;

Here's a bigger excerpt:

Here's how it works. APRA's quota provision, section 13 of APRA, says that any entity that "knowingly develops" an algorithm for its business must evaluate that algorithm "to reduce the risk of" harm. And it defines algorithmic "harm" to include causing a "disparate impact" on the basis of "race, color, religion, national origin, sex, or disability" (plus, weirdly, "political party registration status"). APRA Sec. 13(c)(1)(B)(vi)(IV)&(V).

At bottom, it's as simple as that. If you use an algorithm for any important decision about people—to hire, promote, advertise, or otherwise allocate goods and services—you must ensure that you've reduced the risk of disparate impact.

The closer one looks, however, the worse it gets. At every turn, APRA expands the sweep of quotas. For example, APRA does not confine itself to hiring and promotion. It provides that, within two years of the bill's enactment, institutions must reduce any disparate impact the algorithm causes in access to housing, education, employment, healthcare, insurance, or credit.

No one escapes. The quota mandate covers practically every business and nonprofit in the country, other than financial institutions. APRA sec. 2(10). And its regulatory sweep is not limited, as you might think, to sophisticated and mysterious artificial intelligence algorithms. A "covered algorithm" is broadly defined as any computational process that helps humans make a decision about providing goods or services or information. APRA, Section 2 (8). It covers everything from a ground-breaking AI model to an aging Chromebook running a spreadsheet. In order to call this a privacy provision, APRA says that a covered algorithm must process personal data, but that means pretty much every form of personal data that isn't deidentified, with the exception of employee data. APRA, Section 2 (9).

Always amused and astonished how determined most western governments are to make any economic activity apart from finance and working for the government totally impossible.

Disparate impact is only an Anglo thing. It's almost completely ignored in Europe, where we only have to contend with environmental laws and bureaucratic bullshit.

Also you made my heart rate spike to cca 150 for a sec. In other thread I posted a photo of a girl calling herself 'Pasha'. I log back in, what do I see. Uff.

lol. I still can’t believe I got stuck with such a retarded stereotypical username

I believe it's a diminutive of Paul and Paula in Russian. Not that stereotypical esp not on English language internet. It's just rare.

Yes, it's diminutive of Pavel (Paul) in Russian. Paula is extremely rare in Russian

You can change it anytime you want btw, unless you're worried about people not recognizing you.

Spend a few weeks as "The X formerly known as Pasha"

It's less surprising when you look at the professions in Congress. The majority of these people have done their level best to never spend a single day of their lives producing any good or service that anyone would willingly purchase.

Wouldn't this apply to almost all universities that require faculty applicants to submit DEI statements?

I'm quite that practice has a disparate impact.

There are exceptions for:

  • self-testing to mitigate unlawful discrimination
  • diversifying
  • advertising things to underrepresented groups

But I think you're right that what you said isn't any of those?

Since diversifying in one direction (racially, LGBTQ) will almost certainly run contrary to diversifying in another (political party registration) the law would appear likely to be inherently contradictory. All smart whites/asians/indians will quickly register as Republicans (whether they vote as such or at all is of course irrelevant).

What does a college do when faced with the direct trade off between hiring Democrat (overrepresented) black (underrepresented) faculty and hiring Republican (underrepresented) white male (overrepresented) faculty, if both types of rejected applicant threaten to sue?

This bill should pass because it will lead to SCOTUS having to bring down disparate impact or literally paralyze the entire American civil legal system.

All smart whites/asians/indians will quickly register as Republicans (whether they vote as such or at all is of course irrelevant).

Hmm, this could theoretically apply to everyone: a queer black woman Republican would check a lot of boxes. It would be ironic if this backfires and moves the Republican party leftward. ("Polls show that over 60% of Republicans believe...")

These would just be legal. They'd be allowed to do it because they're diversifying. They don't have to worry about it because their action fell into one of the exceptions.

At least, that's how I read it.

Then everything counts as diversifying. You get sued for hiring too many white males? You’re diversifying politically. You get sued for hiring too many liberals? You’re diversifying racially. It effectively abolishes disparate impact anyway. Even progressive corporations will just use whatever excuse their lawyers tell them to.

The circle will be squared the same way it usually is. Disparate impact against unfavored groups will be ignored by setting up extremely high standards for it to be proved and carving out easy exceptions. Disparate impact against favored groups will have little burden of proof and few if any exceptions will be tolerated. Want to discriminate against Republicans? "Oh, republicans just are too stupid to be in academia, see we have a study here showing that". Don't want to discriminate in favor of black people? Too bad.

As for SCOTUS, you can barely get John Roberts to make a decision; he certainly won't enforce it.

You and I are usually on the same page with regards to this particular black pill, but this legislation seems so obviously stupid (because the mitigating algorithms will have to be stated clearly) that it transcends my usual pessimism in its idiocy.

Yes, it’s a contradictory law because being ‘equal’ in terms of political party registration is going to unequally favor, say, white men for many jobs that are mostly done by liberals, since for example almost all potential Republican college professors (if political party is part of disparate impact) will be white males, and so correcting that would have a disparate impact on women/poc.

Yeah, I just don’t see it happening.

GOP leadership seems to be completely capable of messing things up so maybe this bill does reach a point where it might pass. Then it won’t and we will see headlines about how Trump killed a bill to protect your privacy online. I think a lot of us on the right are becoming quite happy to have Trump as the sin eater. Granted it should not get to this point where the GOP is considering passing it. It should just be a bill that never gets to a vote in Congress

COVERED ALGORITHM.—The term “covered algorithm” means a computational process, including one derived from machine learning, statistics, or other data processing or artificial intelligence techniques, that makes a decision or facilitates human decision- making by using covered data, which includes determining the provision of products or services or ranking, ordering, promoting, recommending, amplifying, or similarly determining the delivery or display of information to an individual.

I wonder how that would apply to dating apps; would they now be required to design algorithms such that an Asian man, black woman, or trans woman all get equivalent number of matches to their privileged counterparts? Or is that not discrimination?

This could be really interesting.

  1. Adding political party registration as a protected class could end up changing the character of many institutions and organizations. For example, forcing universities to hire Republicans would have major long-term effects on the values of future college graduates.
  2. This law conflicts with the principles of freedom of association and equal protection. It'll force the issue up through the courts (no way it doesn't get an instant challenge up to the Supreme Court) and with this Court the result could be something wild like reversing Griggs v Duke entirely.
  3. Even if it stands, it will bring quotas to the fore as a political issue and make the public conversations more clearly about group spoils vs. overall efficiency. It adds such onerous requirements for businesses to make any useful predictions about people that there will be tons of examples of waste and inefficiency due to the law. In an accelerationist way this could be good for getting back to a more reasonable set of laws.

Adding political party registration as a protected class

I'm unclear on how "political party registration status" will be interpreted. Does it mean that they "can't create" "have to pay attention to" a disparate impact on Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Greens, etc.? Or does it merely mean that they "can't create" "have to pay attention to" a disparate impact on people who are registered and people who aren't registered?

"Original public meaning" is failing my poor spectrum-y brain.

Currently disparate impact has a carve-out for business critical reasons (which is why Google can’t be successfully sued for the fact that fewer than 15% of software engineers are black, for example). If that is maintained, then a college could argue that, say, only 5% of qualified candidates for an English literature professor job are Republicans and so they don’t actually do anything wrong if 95% of the English faculty are Democrats.

Reversing or at least heavily limiting disparate impact seems inevitable with this court. Roberts and ACB will be unhappy with it but if something as ridiculous as this happens they won’t really have a choice because of the sheer volume of litigation it would unleash.

If college admissions were determined by “algorithm” (paper or digital) then that algorithm would be obtainable in lawsuit discovery. If that algorithm involved rectifying disparate impact (to apply this law) by bolstering eg. black and Hispanic scores, it would directly contravene not only last year’s SCOTUS judgment but also the previous judgment that ruled direct quotas explicitly unconstitutional. It would appear, therefore, that using this new law to reimplement affirmative action would not be legal.

Yes, but the lower courts could just ignore that. Maybe in another 10 years the Supreme Court will finally take a case and issue a wishy-washy decision that the lower courts could then ignore again.

It would appear, therefore, that using this new law to reimplement affirmative action would not be legal.

Is there no way for Democrats to make the court more favorable ? E.g. by say, packing it with wise latinas?

The Democrats could technically pack the Supreme Court by abolishing the senate filibuster and using a 51 seat majority + the presidency to do so, sure. I suspect that at least several senators would balk at it, though, such that their current majority is insufficient. If they got back to 56/57 seats it would be viable, although of course as soon as the GOP had a President and senate majority it would be immediately neutered by them doing the same.

I believe the scotus size was set by statute, meaning that the house is required to consent to an expansion of the court size. If only the senate and president had to conspire to add additional justices, I figure it would have happened already.

Yes. There's some !!fun!! questions about what happens if the Senate and the President does it anyway, but (probably?) not a target.

Nah, Manchin and Sinema both objected even when the Dems had the House.

I’m unsure the scotus would seat the new justices under a separation powers approach.

plus, weirdly, "political party registration status"

There seems to be an interest, possibly growing, on the center-right in these strictly-neutral laws like the Civil Rights Act and Title IX. They're not without success: a number of male students successfully challenged universities for anti-male bias in applying Obama-era sexual assault investigation policies, there's an ongoing likely-to-succeed suit (props to Trace) involving FAA ATC hiring, and those are just the first examples that come to mind. I've seen at least a few universities explicitly table student motions regarding BDS because the adults in the room are concerned of potential legal trouble (presumably under the Civil Rights Act). It'd be unsurprising to me if a bunch of pro-Israel Jewish academics sue, for example, Columbia over alleged institutional bias in hiring or hostile workplace environments.

Sneaking in political registration presumably enables new fronts in culture lawfare: suddenly a left-leaning institution that uses "algorithms" to sort resumes, college applications, and the like can be taken to task for why their system spits out disparately low numbers of registered Republicans. Is the bias of The Algorithm on social media deprioritizing certain political views? Was this bias intentional? It doesn't matter under a disparate impact standard!

I don't know that I like the law as you've presented it, but I can see where the legislatures are coming from. And in today's political climate, it sadly feels like state-enforced colorblindness is, if anything, a win for my preferred liberal pluralist society, even if my libertarian sympathies disagree.

Although this seems the first example of a truly opt-in class being adopted in this fashion, which might lead to some interesting results if people start registering novel political parties specifically to form a protected class.

That's interesting. At first glance, I thought "why would Republicans support this law".

It seems like it would be better to get rid of group preferences. The problem is that, even when group preferences are banned, corporations, governments, and universities just go ahead and do them anyway.

Perhaps it's better to simply enshrine Republicans, conservatives, and Christians as new protected classes allowing the possibility of torts (or the threat of torts) to keep people from discriminating against them.

Since we can't stop disparate impact from being used as a cudgel, it's time to arm both sides of the culture war. Universities need to be sued for the fact that less than 5% of professors are Republican.

I mean, technically ‘white people’ are already a ‘protected class’ under the law as a racial group, and states like California make political ideology a protected status too (which is seemingly why Damore was able to negotiate a nice settlement with Google). What is more relevant is practice; since almost all major white collar economic activity occurs in deep blue states and cities, activist progressive judges and district attorneys can always selectively apply these laws to favored groups. It’s very rare for criminals who attack whites to be charged with racially aggravated offenses.

The funniest thing would be, if they truly wanted to address 'disparate impact' meaning proportional representation in everything desirable, that'd de facto be a return of the Jewish quota too. Despite falling off a bit due to intermarriage Jews are still over-achieving quite a bit over basic whites, so any legislation that'd truly remove disparate impact would be in essence also a quote on Jews, if they chose to identify as such, no ?

Progressives have proven to be adept hypocrites, rules-lawyering their way into opportunities unavailable to them by their own 'principles'.

https://www.cnn.com/2015/04/07/living/feat-mindy-kaling-brother-affirmative-action/index.html

Other examples like Dolezal and the Canadian professor who pretended to be native are also extant, and this is before the narrative-flipping progressives engage in whenever they are called out: decry any attempt at scrutiny as sexist/racist/homophobic/transphobic/islamophobic.

Conservatives have been racking up brute force victories in courts via judge packing, but the progressives will remain adept at gaming the system to their benefit. The most ironic part is that I think the progressives aren't aware that they're hollowing out their words with their actions, they seem to really believe carveouts for themselves are just part of playing the game.

Harrison Butker's commencement speech (transcript) is probably the most politically incorrect public exposition I've ever heard from a (relatively) public non-political figure. Butker is the Kansas City Chief's placekicker, and a devout Catholic. He hits nearly all the culture war hot topics: abortion, pride month, women's role in society, the Covid response, and Biden's leadership or lack thereof.

While the mainstream and new media are universal in their condemnation of this speech, the NFL up to this point is merely "distancing" itself from Butker's viewpoints. If Butker's career can survive intact, this seems to be further evidence in favor of the "vibe-shift". Indeed, he may have shifted the Overton window himself: he mentions his "teammate's girlfriend" (Taylor Swift); and simply by being on the same team as Travis Kelce, Butker's beliefs has the potential to be platformed to the millions of women who have started following the Chiefs.

Courage is contagious: the more people who stand up to the regime, the easier it becomes for others to do so. In my own small way, I signed a petition in support of Butker under my real name. While this seems a small risk to take, it isn't one I would have countenanced four years ago.

It's quite interesting how even the Catholics in the US are Protestants in spirit. Butker says again and again you can't choose your faith, but at the same time is eager to criticize the priests and the bishops and I think he would gladly criticize the Pope himself if he could get away with it. Butker, your discontent is profane in nature, while their ordainment was divine. How can a sheep criticize his shepherd? What good is a shepherd that accepts runaway sheep into his flock instead of sending them back?

Butker's speech has got so many people up in a frenzy about the content that over 200,000 people have signed a "petition" on Change.org to get him removed from the Kansas City Chiefs.

What do these articles or the descriptions on change.org have in common? Creating a strawman of the content of his speech. The change.org petition description literally doesn't even give any examples of what he says, it just characterizes his speech as "sexist, homophobic, anti-trans, anti-abortion and racist."

Graduation speeches are for the people who are graduating, not for the entire world. He was giving a speech at a Catholic college to Catholic students, who presumably have Catholic values. The biggest criticism against his speech is in regard to his statement about women:

For the ladies present today, congratulations on an amazing accomplishment. You should be proud of all that you have achieved to this point in your young lives. I want to speak directly to you briefly because I think it is you, the women, who have had the most diabolical lies told to you. How many of you are sitting here now about to cross this stage and are thinking about all the promotions and titles you are going to get in your career? Some of you may go on to lead successful careers in the world, but I would venture to guess that the majority of you are most excited about your marriage and the children you will bring into this world.

I can tell you that my beautiful wife, Isabelle, would be the first to say that her life truly started when she began living her vocation as a wife and as a mother. I'm on the stage today and able to be the man I am because I have a wife who leans into her vocation. I'm beyond blessed with the many talents God has given me, but it cannot be overstated that all of my success is made possible because a girl I met in band class back in middle school would convert to the faith, become my wife, and embrace one of the most important titles of all: homemaker.

This statement is literally followed by a huge round of applause, so clearly, the audience listening to the speech, which includes women, was very responsive to his message to them specifically.

He never says women should only be a homemakers. In fact, he even acknowledges women can have successful careers. All he does is praise women who choose to be a homemaker and a mother. Butker is absolutely correct in his statements about women being lied to that pursuing a career is much more worthwhile than motherhood, based on the behavior and happiness of actual women.

I'm beyond blessed with the many talents God has given me, but it cannot be overstated that all of my success is made possible because a girl I met in band class back in middle school would convert to the faith, become my wife, and embrace one of the most important titles of all: homemaker.

Based and C.S. Lewis pilled:

“I think I can understand that feeling about a housewife’s work being like that of Sisyphus. But it is surely, in reality, the most important work in the world. What do ships, railways, mines, cars, government etc exist for except that people may be fed, warmed, and safe in their own homes? As Dr Johnson said, ‘To be happy at home is the end of all human endeavour’. We wage war in order to have peace, we work in order to have leisure, we produce food in order to eat it. So your job is the one for which all others exist.” - Narnia dude.

What I’ve never understood is why exactly this sort of thing makes sense to the left. The man is a kicker on a football team. He doesn’t really get paid to be a spokesman for anything beyond the usual shilling for products. I don’t understand why a person isn’t allowed to hold contrary opinions especially when those opinions have absolutely nothing to do with his actual job and he doesn’t seem to be much of an activist at all.

Because he spoke heresy. And in fairness if Butker he wouldn't be a principled defender of free speech either.

What surprised me most in the reaction was this amusing line:

Butker’s statement explicitly argues that there’s a correct way to be Catholic, even though in reality, most Catholics are supportive of abortion and LGBTQ rights.

Well... yes.

Yes, there's a correct way to be Catholic. It involves believing and acting in accordance with Catholic teaching, which is very clear on some of those subjects.

How is that controversial?

It also involves listening to the Argentinian socialist in Rome, which American Catholics often seem to chafe at.

No, it does not involve any of that even if you talk about papal infallibility doctrine that was so far used twice in history. Catholics do not have to listen to whatever pope says in some interview. So far Catholic Church is against gay marriages in line with Persona Humana doctrine. Just couple of excerpts:

At the present time there are those who, basing themselves on observations in the psychological order, have begun to judge indulgently, and even to excuse completely, homosexual relations between certain people. This they do in opposition to the constant teaching of the Magisterium and to the moral sense of the Christian people.

But no pastoral method can be employed which would give moral justification to these acts on the grounds that they would be consonant with the condition of such people. For according to the objective moral order, homosexual relations are acts which lack an essential and indispensable finality. In Sacred Scripture they are condemned as a serious depravity and even presented as the sad consequence of rejecting God.[18] This judgment of Scripture does not of course permit us to conclude that all those who suffer from this anomaly are personally responsible for it, but it does attest to the fact that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered and can in no case be approved of.

The church is certainly still against both gay marriage and abortion, nevertheless the official position is still more conciliatory on many of these social issues than US tradcaths are happy with.

The extent to which Catholicism requires agreeing with the pope is regularly contested along partisan lines.

Usually one side argues, "The pope is the vicar of Christ and visible leader of the church, from whom we learn and to whom we have an obligation to listen, and his words should be taken to heart by all Catholics", and the other side argues, "The pope is a human being and capable of error in ordinary circumstances, and there have been shockingly bad popes in the past. Respect for the papal office does not entail unthinking obedience to every off-the-cuff statement a pope makes, and good Catholics can and should, in obedience to sacred tradition, disagree with him where necessary".

And the two sides switch depending on whether or not they like the current pope or not. There is very little consistency.

Across the board, Butker's sin is holding up a mirror. Yes, most women would be happier supporting their successful, loving husband than drudging through a fake email job. Yes, you're a bad Catholic if you support the commission of grave sins.

Yes, there's a correct way to be Catholic. It involves believing and acting in accordance with Catholic teaching, which is very clear on some of those subjects.

At least as an empirical matter, no one seems to actually do this. Culture-war Catholicism seems to center around deciding which portions to ignore.

Yes, that's where you'll find the majority of culture war Catholicism. What is the Catholic Church? Is it what Catholics actually do or believe? Is it the doctrine of the church? What is the doctrine of the church, and who defines it, and that way lies a whole debate around tradition, magisterium, the papacy, and more.

I tend to think those things are secondary and partisans tend to flip flop on them whenever it suits them.

Take a look at the left wing catholic framing of the church’s teachings on capital punishment and compare it to their approach to teachings on the family.

All those debates about magisterium seem very contingent to me.

I read the speech and I have to say it almost made me want to convert to Latin Mass Catholicism.

What I was especially drawn to was the image of traditional values winning vs. how I personally tend to wallow in more negative news.

Butker seems to be almost perfect. I assume the media is desperately searching, so he's likely been faithful to his wife and probably hasn't said "nigger" within recording distance. As Nybbler points out, he's got literally a gigachad look. It might be cooler if he were a tight end, but he's arguably one of the best kickers in the game with three Super Bowls. He's not perfectly articulate, but articulate enough, and his speech avoided some of the pitfalls conservatives love to jump into. It was very digestible if anyone wanted to watch the whole thing and more coherent than Margery Taylor Greene or Trump can be. It also helps that he kept things straight Catholic; going all in against Catholicism is attacking a lot of Latinos.

Conservatives should spend a lot of time figuring out the things he got right.

It might be cooler if he were a tight end, but he's arguably one of the best kickers in the game with three Super Bowls.

Even this part has had a pretty funny element, with dumpy, unathletic haters suggesting that being a kicker means he's not very athletic. In reality, he was a D1 soccer player at Georgia Tech, indicating a high level of dynamic athleticism and conditioning. He's also one of the most fashionable guys in the league (google "Harrison Butker suits" for examples).

At the same time I think evangelicals are probably thinking "based trad cath" and I'm not sure how true this is across trad caths but for the Congregation of Mary Immaculate Queen cousin in the family he is a straight theocrat that what would violently suppress all other denominations if he could. If his beliefs were common among pre-Vatican II Catholics I can see why they were discriminated against.

Liberal Democracy is basically only possible if people are some sort of creedal, Reformed Christian. You can have any creed you want, Episcopalian, Methodist, Catholic, Jewish, Buddhist, Atheist, etc. but you have to conform to the social and theological norms of Reformed Christianity. Shariah Law and Halakah just aren't compatible with Western society and can only be tolerated when they are tiny minorities.

Yes, prior to Vatican II and especially prior to 1900 or so, the traditional Catholic position was basically that the state should formally endorse the Catholic Church, obey directives from the Vatican, and tolerate other religious positions either provisionally or not at all. Integralism is, broadly speaking, the traditional Roman position. If you ever get interested in the last two centuries of Spanish, French, or Italian history you will notice this causing a great deal of trouble. It's also responsible for a lot of traditional American (and Anglo in generally) anti-Catholicism. Taken seriously, it is the position that leads to drama like this.

However, Catholics, partly because of how extreme this position seems today, have largely been running away from it in the West, or have been looking for ways to reconcile Catholicism with American liberal values. Some have been more or less successful with this.

But anyway, if you dig into the European history a bit, 'discriminated against' is underselling it. This is/was a position that causes civil wars.

The CMRI are fringe nut jobs who bought holy orders from the mafia and consider other tradCaths apostates.

Many tradcaths seem to consider other tradcaths apostates especially because there’s a big gradation in terms of their relationship with the actual church as an institution (see FSSP vs SSPX), views on the pope and so on.

The CMRI are particularly hardline sedevacantists who result from a schism in a group that was rejected from joining the SSPX due to their leadership’s insanity, and then split in two, to reunify after one side’s leaders were literally arrested for arms trafficking and the other side’s had their episcopal ordinations arranged by the mafia. Even by the standards of sedevacantists, who are themselves a fairly small fringe group among IRL tradCaths, they’re cult-y and on the fringe.

As for the SSPX-FSSP split, both sets of leadership hype it up to the media for realpolitik purposes and the recent trend seems to strike a less-hostile tone towards one another in internally-directed communications, and de facto have long ignored their congregations tending to go back and forth. SSPX couples marry at FSSP parishes more often than at their own(for obtuse canon law reasons), for one example. Particularly since williamson’s departure, the SSPX and its dependent groups/the FSSP and similar groups are closer to each other than either is to anyone else. And together they make up an enormous supermajority of tradCaths.

I love how social and mainstream media pearlclutching over Butker has pretty much catapulted him to being the third most famous Chief via the Streisand effect. I’d never heard of him before this.

I still have no interest in listening to his speech, looking into his opinions (they’re probably kind of stupid), or watching him or the NFL in general, but he’s making the usual insufferables seethe so I like him. I’ll just donate my ki from afar like he’s Goku charging up a Spirit Bomb.

It helps that most of his fellow NFL players have greater idpol protections and hold views that are even more politically incorrect about women and 2SLGBTQIA+ (views that are sometimes physically expressed to the former in a fiery, but mostly peaceful manner). However, they just don’t have the desire or ability to introspect on a worldview and go around giving speeches. So Butker likely enjoys some low-key solidarity.

The Chiefs as Superbowl champions in an OT victory and the biggest hotbed of off-field drama, gossip, and lolcowery? Maybe the NFL is indeed fixed like boxing, instead of real like pro-wrestling.

Yeah, what is it with Chiefs-related news lately? They're also the team for whom a Deadspin reporter went to a game and decided to defame a 9-year-old in team colors bodypaint, and got Deadspin sued as a result. All these things happening all at once, and centered around people and events conspicuously connected to this one team ... would be an interesting coincidence.

Butker was already the third most famous chief, albeit by more distance; he scored the OT points for two superbowl victories and had been in the news for some feel-good society pages stories.

It’s like the inverse of the Mitch Hedberg joke. “I’m now the third most famous player on the Chiefs. I already was before, but I still am now, too.”

He's almost got the face of the gigachad. He had to have done that on purpose.

I got a couple upvotes on reddit replying to a post “with bad guy Butker whose the evilest player in the nfl”

Good Guy: Butker Bad Guy: too many to name

I am not sure if the Overton window of NFL player conduct has really changed that much. I think most Americans have always had some support for traditional values and even more support a religious community to do their own thing. Explicitly stating this publicly though was banned for a while.

This also has me thinking about the right to free association. Which has largely been deleted from the U.S. constitution. I largely support a right to free association but it feels like it does need some limits. I would like a company to be able to fire some one for any reason they want. If you get promoted to CEO and your personal view is that Indians are smelly vile creatures and want to fire them just because they are Indian I want you to have that right. And ideally those Indians you don’t like get scooped up by your competitor and build a better product.

Butker’s case provides the counter-point. If the NFL decided they don’t want Catholics playing in their league who do real Catholic things and fired Butker it would cause him real harm. Go start your own football league is not viable. This happens with a lot of product too. If Microsoft decided no Jews can use excel that would be an irreplaceable loss. Jews of course could build their own excel software, but since every other organization uses excel the Jewish excel would not be compatible with the Gentile Excel used by everyone else. They could not be accountants or investment bankers because all their clients would be using Gentile Excel.

Of course Courts can come up with tests to distinguish the difference for when giving free association is non-viable. The issue here is that if you are the wrong group at the time let’s say a Catholic kicker the court could declare it is viable for him to start his own NFL to be a kicker, but also find it’s completely not viable for Jews to create their own excel.

If the NFL decided they don’t want Catholics playing in their league who do real Catholic things and fired Butker it would cause him real harm.

Of course, he's earned 18 million already, so, assuming he's saved it, he'd still be quite well off.

Yeah, but he's a 29-year-old elite kicker. He probably has $40 million left on the table with a normal career trajectory.

I’m sure that if he gets fired he’d have a professional conservative job paying 7 figures in less than a year.

An articulate NFL player who gets fired for being socially conservative has a professional social conservative speaker job already waiting for him.

Like most things, the solution is freedom in normal situations and government regulation in monopoly situations.

Agree. The broad strokes are obvious.

Doing that in practice is hard. Most businesses have some market power and even Americas tech firms have some competition. Excel is actually a great example. Some time around 2010 MSFT stock was trading in the 20’s and conventional wisdom was it’s a value trap and going out of business. Googlesheets were invented and free. Eventually people realized there are a lot of 50+ year old bankers and accountants that would rather write a check to Microsoft every year for $100 than learn a similar but slightly different software. Which is rational by those bankers as writing a Microsoft check for about $2k the rest of the career is a lot cheaper than learning new software (at $200 an hour that’s 10 hrs of work). And since the old people wouldn’t switch all the young people had to be compatible. At one point conventional wisdom was Excel was not a monopoly but I would say today it is a monopoly.

Even a fairly basic cake making business has a little market power. As it’s a pain point to travel an extra 15 minutes to find another baker.

I would say Excel = restricted Baker= not restricted most people would say is fair. But the exact line is far messier.

An interesting current case is the Tapestry/Capri merger. A quick synopsis is Tapestry is buying Capri which is basically a roll-up of mid-tier luxury brands. Handbags and shoes. I think these markets are highly competitive and fairly easy to enter (honestly Temu seems to have a lot of cheaper products that look the same). The Biden administration is suing to block the mergers saying antitrust/monopoly. I think this market is clearly in the baker category.

Disclosure: long and wrong. It’s trading $36. Deal closes at $56. If it breaks your probably talking a puke close to $20 and eventually trading around $25. I think the economics are clearly in favor of it closing. But it’s in a NY Court with a Biden appointed judge which is outside my personal Overton window of knowledge and I deeply distrust blue enclave courts now.

Based on the steady torrent of Israel-Palestine threads, the general impression I get is that a majority of people here is quite solidly pro-Israel in this conflict. I would like to understand the pro-Israel position better; in particular, I wonder if there are arguments for the Israeli position in the current war that don't mostly rest on one of the following:

  • An arbitrary cutoff of historical reckoning either shortly before the most recent Hamas attack, or else somewhere in the early '90s following the general Western mode of thinking about other geopolitical conflicts. Unilaterally declaring all scores settled is not a persuasive or universalizable moral principle.

  • Invocation of inherent superior qualities of Israeli Jews relative to Palestinians, be it intelligence, education or general "civilizedness". You would almost certainly either need to cut out a very contrived set of conditions to make the principle only apply to this case, or accept some hypothetical corollary you probably don't want that involves similar abuse being heaped on morally/intellectually/civilizationally inferior people that you care about or feel kinship to.

The way I see it, the moral case for Palestine is pretty clear, and unlike some seem to assume does not require you to subscribe to a lot of oppressed-are-always-right slave morality (though you do need to stop short of maximally might-makes-right master morality). The present ruling population of Israel mostly moved to that territory in the late '40s, and from the start has continued violently expelling the ancestors of present Palestinians from their homes to acquire their land for themselves. I do not think that Palestinians' stupidity or backwardness or whatever are so great that they can't be afforded what we otherwise consider basic human rights to property and safety, even if the people who want to take those from them for themselves were all literal Von Neumanns.

I don't think that this original wrong has been made right to the Palestinians, and the argument that some Palestinians submitted and got to live better lives under the Israelis than they would have had in an independent Palestine does not morally convince me either. If Bill Gates steals the plots some rednecks built their houses on, builds a mansion in its place and then offers them lavish jobs as domestic servants, do the ones who don't accept forfeit their right to complain about the theft? Another counterargument seems to rest on something like statute of limitations (like, the Palestinians and Israelis alive nowadays are not the ones who got robbed and their robbers), which would be more persuasive if Israeli settlements were not still expanding, and there weren't still Palestinians who are quite directly being made to suffer at the hands of the Israeli men with guns for no other reason than that they do not accept the "become Bill Gates's domestic servant" deal. It seems pretty clear to me that there is no recourse left to the Palestinians who do not want to to take this deal that preserves their human dignity - their conquerors certainly won't hear them out themselves, and they are backed by the US machine which not only could produce a personal cruise missile for every Palestinian if it put its mind to it but also has enough intellectual and propaganda firepower that they could make even the Palestinians doubt that they are themselves humans with rights.

If you are continuously denied justice in an existential matter, though, I don't think it's at all an alien viewpoint that you are morally entitled to do whatever you find appropriate to seize justice for yourself, including ineffectual and vile acts of revenge such as murdering the women and children of those who wronged you. To claim otherwise, to me, seems to amount to claiming that you can be absolved for arbitrary wrongs if you just amass enough power to make effective resistance impossible, and I don't like that even before we start taking into the account that the targets of Hamas terror were intended and more often than not happy beneficiaries of the original wrongs committed. (If you have been driven out of your house and into a corner at gunpoint by the mafia, the mafia boss's kid stands by watching the show and mocking you, and, seeing an opening, you shoot the kid, I will find it hard to fault you for the murder even though the kid is technically innocent of the misfortunes that befell you and this did absolutely nothing to help your situation. As a bonus, the corrupt police (my country) is then called in to arrest you, after sharing a smoke with the mafiosi.)

Though I said that the moral case for Palestine is clear, this is emphatically not to say that I rule out the possibility of a clear moral case for Israel existing at the same time. "They're both justified to continue murdering each other" is a sad reality of a lot of tribal conflict. However, in this particular case, I actually do not even see that case, or at least what I have seen seems much weaker to me, given that Israelis still have the option to leave Israel at any time as a large part of the world would welcome them with open arms (while the anti-Palestinians like reiterating that not even other Muslim countries want to take in the Palestinians, as if that helps their case), and even though in some sense they would also then be "driven from their homes" it's not like they are usually unaware of those homes' provenance.

edit: Thanks for everyone's responses, there were certainly a lot of interesting points to think about there. I'm too overwhelmed with the volume to respond to everyone, though to the extent there were some overlaps between the points I would be grateful if you could check my answers to sibling posts.

The problem with positing an "original wrong" is that the 1948 war was started by the Palestinians and their Arab allies, and subsequently they lost. So the search for an original wrong already has a wrong that came before that origin. Yes, you can arguably repeat this process for pre-1948 wrongs, but the "original wrong" you suggest is definitely not correct.

Another counterargument seems to rest on something like statute of limitations (like, the Palestinians and Israelis alive nowadays are not the ones who got robbed and their robbers), which would be more persuasive if Israeli settlements were not still expanding, and there weren't still Palestinians who are quite directly being made to suffer at the hands of the Israeli men with guns for no other reason than that they do not accept the "become Bill Gates's domestic servant" deal.

Stopping the settlers would fall far short of Palestinian aims. It has repeatedly failed to be a sufficient concession in prior peace talks. And even when tried unilaterally by Israel, made things worse, not better.

If you are continuously denied justice in an existential matter, though, I don't think it's at all an alien viewpoint that you are morally entitled to do whatever you find appropriate to seize justice for yourself, including ineffectual and vile acts of revenge such as murdering the women and children of those who wronged you. To claim otherwise, to me, seems to amount to claiming that you can be absolved for arbitrary wrongs if you just amass enough power to make effective resistance impossible, and I don't like that even before we start taking into the account that the targets of Hamas terror were intended and more often than not happy beneficiaries of the original wrongs committed.

Do you apply this principle evenly? Does it apply to Germans expelled from Eastern Europe in the aftermath of WWII, for instance? Are they entitled to carry out unrestrained acts of revenge in Western Poland in response to being expelled? And since this applies to any arbitrary wrong, as you have written it, to beat my usual drum, are victims of vaccine mandates and lockdowns entitled to carry out unrestrained non-hypothetical fedposting? Are Trump supporters wronged by being under the wrong government, as Palestinians living under Israeli rule would be, and thus entitled to fedposting? And, of course, does this apply to Israelis who are wronged by Palestinian attacks and, therefore, entitled to seize justice by committing their own revenge?

Maybe you do think this. In which case, this position is just more might makes right (despite you objecting to might makes right), using arbitrary violence instead of precise violence to try to maximize the might they can exert from the weaker position.

More likely, you do not think this. But if so, you are missing any particular reason why Palestinians are uniquely entitled to engage in unrestrained terror tactics, and I'm yet to hear a good one. If it's the degree of political repression, then the majority of the world's countries including many western countries are on the fedpost list for some form of repression or another. If it's being ruled over by the wrong ethnic group, then it's ethnostate for thee but not for me, because I am also ruled over by a Prime Minister of a different ethnicity, and I'm not entitled to kick out all the foreigners. If it's that Arabs were turfed out by Jews after they legally purchased the land from absentee Ottoman landlords, consider the ethnic makeup of London and the financial impossibility of living in London for many natives. For every justification I've heard, there's been a parallel elsewhere where any resistance was considered unthinkable, let alone random acts of terror.

It seems to me that every single one of your arguments again places a convenient cutoff point on history. The 1948 war was preceded by massive Jewish immigration into Palestinian lands, terrorism by armed groups representing it, and them leveraging their ties to the international community to secure support for plans that already amounted to mass expropriations of Palestinians; the post-WWII Germans had just finished doing WWII (and as far as I can tell the expatriate ethnically German populations were friendly with the Nazis wherever they encountered them on their drive east); presumably "fedposting" implies things that are not proportional to vaccine mandates and lockdowns (but I have to say that if anti-lockdowners created a compound where they kept loudly pro-lockdown individuals under house arrest, I would not feel like an injustice is being committed).

The particular reason why Palestinians are more entitled to engage in unrestrained terror tactics than these groups is that they have been subjected to unrestrained terror tactics first and continuously.

It seems to me that every single one of your arguments again places a convenient cutoff point on history.

I quite deliberately mentioned that you can keep finding earlier original wrongs. "repeat this process for pre-1948 wrongs". The point is that the origin mentioned by OP is definitely incorrect because these earlier wrongs exist.

The 1948 war was preceded by massive Jewish immigration into Palestinian lands

Massive immigration fits most of Europe and Europeans are generally not considered to be entitled to commit random acts of violence.

terrorism by armed groups representing it,

Same.

and them leveraging their ties to the international community to secure support for plans that already amounted to mass expropriations of Palestinians

The housing crisis in many major cities in Europe has this same de facto outcome.

The particular reason why Palestinians are more entitled to engage in unrestrained terror tactics than these groups is that they have been subjected to unrestrained terror tactics first and continuously.

And this wou