EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the third of a recurring (and likely irregular) series of quick-hits. Because, not everything needs a thousand words. Thanks for reading!

An Odd Hill

A few readers took umbrage at my use of salty language in asking (yes, asking, I made no mention of mandates) that people wear masks when in public places among strangers, to help mitigate the COVID-19 epidemic. Yeah, yeah, I get the flies and honey bit, but I’m inclined to believe that none of them would have budged one millimeter from their anti-mask positions no matter how I asked or what supporting evidence I offered.

I get the psychology regarding lockdowns. I get the distrust of government (over a million words on this blog should suffice as evidence). I get the eye-roll at politicians who have flip-flopped on the matter, who’ve been wrong, who’ve been pushy and arrogant, and who were disliked even before the epidemic. I even get the psychology of masks.

But, in terms of impositions on one’s daily routine, wearing a mask when near strangers is REALLY low on the list. I find it a very odd “hill to die on,” a strange rallying point against purported oppression. Of all the things to take a stand against, they pick this?

Free Markets and Fear

As my wife and I were perusing the streaming services for stuff to watch last night, I was struck by the, to put it ironically, lack of diversity in available content. Seemingly every offering nowadays includes some elements that affirm the writers and producers are socially aware and very affirmatively “diverse,” often to the point of historical anachronism or dissonance. Characters will cough up occasional bits of dialogue intended to affirm that the writers are on the right side of woke. The established grievance hierarchies are all conformed to. Language of the era that’s out of favor today is scrubbed from historical tales. If you want content that’s not awash in woke (not anti-woke, but simply free of it), good luck.

Concurrently, companies are suddenly tripping all over each other to assert social justice bona fides. Old trademarks, logos, and mascots are being defenestrated.

And, people are losing their jobs for years-old or decades-old “transgressions” against the (rapidly mutating) standards of today.

Proponents of our current cultural upheaval tell us free-marketeers that this is simply our free market working as it should. They don’t understand the stark difference between market pressures born of wanting to satisfy customers’ evolving tastes and market pressures born of fear.

There’s a principle, (mis)attributed to Voltaire, that reads:

I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.

It is at the core of the principle of free speech, and its essence is at the core of all other individual liberties. You don’t have to condone something to allow it. Yet, we are in the midst of a “Great Awokening” that many have (correctly, IMO) noted mirrors France’s Reign of Terror and Mao’s Cultural Revolution. Today, we have Critical Race Theory and Critical Social Justice, both descendants of the execrable critical theory of the Marxists who established the Frankfurt School of social theory a century ago. The essence of these “criticals” is simply to criticize, endlessly, with the ultimate goal the destruction of the existing fabric of society, so that a new order can arise, one with a Marxist foundation. We all know how that’d go.

Someone posited that woke culture without cancel culture would be perfectly fine. That’s because it would be truly voluntary, it would be a set of opinions and an effort to advance those opinions in the marketplace of ideas. However, when intimidation is folded into the mix, freedom gets overridden. The essence of free markets is that interactions and exchanges are voluntary. But, when one side feels coercion, whether it be direct or “see what happened to someone else who didn’t comply?” tacit, there is no liberty.

Immunity Freeloaders

The COVID pandemic has spawned countless armchair epidemiological statisticians, people who grab a few numbers out of the ether and make (often detailed, to two or three significant figures) predictions as to the true lethality of the virus. Early on, many such were on the “it’s going to kill us all” side of the fence. Today, I see more and more on the “government is exaggerating” side of the fence.

Nestled in among and swarming around those folks are many who think that the way out of this is to get to herd immunity ASAP, simply by letting young and healthy people get sick.

I wonder how many in that crowd would refuse a vaccine if/when it becomes available?

I also wonder how many in that crowd resent and argue against their taxes being used for welfare freeloaders?

Herd immunity sounds like a grand idea… that is, until someone you know gets sick and dies in the process of getting there.

BLM Will Not Fix Policing

The wake of the George Floyd killing produced a slew of ideas for changing policy to reduce the chance of such tragedies going forward. I covered many of the good ones on this blog. Alas, it took a breathtakingly short amount of time for the moment to slip by, and for the movement to be corrupted. In the blink of an eye, the good ideas about fixing the police were replaced by a movement to simply eliminate policing. Policy declarations from on high (i.e. the politicians whose past support of blatantly anti-poor-minority policies like policing-for-profit, civil asset forfeiture, etc., has cost them nothing, not even re-election) gave a free pass to the criminals who, ironically, prey on the communities the movement purports to champion. “Defund the Police” turned out to be about OPM rather than preventing future abuses. Division, rather than constructive remedy, became the rallying cry.

In short, things that would work were replaced by politics-as-usual. As one anonymous sage put it,

A solution means the gravy train is over.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.


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