Category Archives: Uncategorized

the politics of fear

there are countless historical examples wherein the governing regime demands cooperation from the people “for their own good”. alex gourevitch addresses the politics of fear in a recent article in n+1, arguing that compliance in the name of the war on terror has now been replaced with compliance based on the war for the environment. he says, “environmentalism is one of the few movements on the left that presents itself in the same totalizing political terms that the war on terror does on the right, and its influence only seems to grow as the war on terror’s influence declines” (n+1).


The global warming argument can be as morally coercive as the infamous ticking time-bomb torture scenario, even if the clock ticks slower. It’s not just that we should unite; we are, as Gore puts it, “forced by circumstance” to act. In the face of real political opportunities, there is always an element of freedom. One chooses between two alternatives, picks a principle, and commits to it. Imagining ecological collapse as an overweening crisis demanding immediate action and collective sacrifice, with emergency decisions overriding citizens’ normal wants and wishes, is not really a politics at all, but the suspension of politics—there is no political choice, no constituencies to balance, nothing to deliberate. There is no free activity, just do or die. It seems we will have traded one state of emergency for another.

We have already seen that political action based on fear has disastrous consequences, “we have seen that security is an unstable foundation for institutions—the separation of powers, constitutionalism, federalism, civil society—that liberals have recently sought to rehabilitate. It is a principle that can only constrain and limit politics, not renew our political imagination. No social change is possible without a great deal of uncertainty, and even the production of insecurity. No truly democratic choice comes with a guarantee of success, and always produces unintended outcomes. Democracy must embrace an experimental attitude toward society” (n+1).

a rebuttal by benjamin kunkel
-an anti-growth opinion by chad harbach

Moderne Frevel

that’s “modern sins or sacrilege”, and achtung: the vatican has now announced new, modern ways we can sin {i don’t know if they’re venial or mortal}. it seems that we are now not only responsible for our individual indiscretions, but for those of “society” as well!

the list includes the following:
1. drugs
2. environmental pollution
3. genetic engineering
4. social inequality
5. economic inequality
6. waste of money on luxury goods
7. the growing gap between the rich and the poor
8. prostitution

wunderbar. societal moral authority comes in the form of pressure to be green, vegan, minimalistic, non-brand buying, organic, and simple. guess we should’ve seen the old bastion of moral authority with its unabashed directives coming long ago.

“trade is evil”. not.

Ohio Voters are Stupid, an article from “Classically Liberal”:

Voters in Ohio are stupid. Of course I’m not sure they are dumber than voters in other states. But I can attest that they are dumb. Exist polls of voters in the Democratic primary showed that 80% of these individuals believe that U.S. trade with other countries destroys jobs in Ohio, while only 10% think trade creates jobs. The rest either have no opinion of think trade has no impact on jobs.

Of course both Clinton and Obama played up the “trade is evil” mantra, even though I suspect neither one of them actually believes it. And Obama’s people have all but told Canada that this is merely political campaigning and not to worry. I still contend that fear is the primary tactic used by politicians to control the voters and that includes real or imagined fears. Obama just outrightly lied when he claimed that “entire cities… have been devastated as a consequence of trade agreements”. Both he and Hillary promise to withdraw from NAFTA unless the treaty puts more restrictions on trade.

The reality is, that before NAFTA passed, the unemployment rate in Ohio was 6.5%. It is now 5.8%. So unemployment in Ohio is lower today than it was before the free trade agreement. On what evidence do these wanna-be presidents declare things are worse? If Hillary and Obama were anymore dishonest they could write scripts for Michael Moore.

Dan Griswold pointed out, in an editorial in the Wall Street Journal, that the Ohio Department of Development says that 283,500 Ohio workers owe their jobs to trade exports. And the two biggest foreign trading partners with Ohio are Canada and Mexico. These are jobs that would be negatively impacted by any anti-NAFTA moves. Griswold also notes that since “Nafta took effect on Jan. 1, 1994, the U.S. economy has added a net 26 million new jobs. The average real hourly compensation (wages and benefits) of workers has climbed 23%. Real median household net worth has increased by a third.” He isn’t say this is all due to NAFTA but he notes this disproves the “getting worse” theory of the candidates.

Griswold points out the blatant hypocrisy of Hillary on this matter. She campaigns as a member of her husband’s “White House”. Hillary says that under the Clinton regime the economy was doing well. But, one of the major pieces of the Clinton economic proposal was NAFTA, which Clinton pushed for rather strongly. So which is it, Hillary? Is NAFTA the wonderful plan Bill said it was, and which helped create an economy, which you now point to with pride? Or was it a disaster leading to unemployment?

I can’t see how Hillary can have it both ways. NAFTA was a key part of her “White House” experience. How can that experience be good for America if she is saying they pushed for a measure which destroyed jobs?

If trade from Ohio with Mexico destroys “jobs” then why isn’t this true about trade between Ohio and Indiana? Why isn’t it true between Columbus and Toledo? Would we create more jobs by preventing companies in Ohio from doing business with people in Kentucky? Would workers be more prosperous if we prevent business in Toledo from buying goods or services from businesses in Cincinnati?

There is no inherent difference between trade with Mexicans and trade with Hoosiers. If cutting down the number of trading opportunities we have is good for us, then the citizenship of the trading partners is of little relevance. Of course the fewer trading opportunities you have the worse off you are. Having one theater in town limits the sort of film you can see. Having one restaurant to pick from limits what you can eat. Every time you cut off trade with one group of people you make them, and yourself, worse off. If there is one utterly stupid opinion that people hold it is the idea that trade destroys jobs.