Category Archives: American Thought

The Conformity Crackup of 2021

From Covid lockdowns to crime and cops, the political-media consensus was wrong

The year 2021 that ends this week wasn’t the return to normalcy that President Biden promised, but it was invaluable in one respect. This was the year when the conformity that characterizes American politics and media was exposed for its mistakes as never before.

By conformity we mean the progressive political and media consensus that forms quickly around an issue and then reinforces itself no matter the competing arguments or new information. This isn’t a conspiracy in any formal sense; there are no organized calls or Zoom meetings.

This is about a shared set of political values and preferences that leads people to reach the same conclusions about an event. The reporters and commentators of the major progressive media—the Washington Post, Bloomberg, the Financial Times, the New York Times, the Atlantic, and more—all then reinforce what they now like to call the “narrative” of a story.

Politicians and the press feed the narrative with leaks and the stories they pursue—or, as important, what they don’t pursue. Disagreement is rare to nonexistent because the cost can be ostracism or lost careers.

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Only when it is exposed over time as false does the conformity break, and typically only if there are negative political consequences for Democrats. The saving grace is that sometimes reality is impossible to ignore, and 2021 was the year this happened on some of the biggest events of our time. It’s worth recounting a few examples to see how the dominant consensus was wrong about so much for so long.

The Wuhan Virology Lab origin theory of Covid-19. In the early days of the pandemic, even raising this as a possibility was taboo. Sen. Cotton was vilified for doing so. The Lancet, a supposedly open-minded scientific journal, published a letter in February 2020 “to strongly condemn conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin.”

This year we learned that the Lancet letter was part of a coordinated effort to quash the lab theory. We learned about the conflicts of interest of Anthony Fauci and others who provided funding for the Wuhan lab. Eventually even the press noticed that China had blocked an honest inquiry, and that no evidence for a natural origin has emerged.

Lockdowns stop Covid-19. There was no fiercer consensus in the early days of the virus than the belief that locking down the economy to stop the virus was an unadulterated social good. We felt the consensus wrath when we raised doubts, in an editorial on March 20, 2020, about the harm that lockdowns would do to the economy and public health.

Two years later we now know that lockdowns at most delay the virus spread. The damage in lost education for children, lost livelihoods for workers and employers, and damage to mental health is obvious for all to see. Even Randi Weingarten, the teachers union chief who did so much to keep schools closed, now claims she wanted to keep them open all along.

The supply side of the economy doesn’t matter. The Keynesian consensus, which dominates the U.S. and European media, has long held that the demand for goods and services drives the economy. The ability or incentive to supply those goods is largely ignored or dismissed. Spurring demand was the theory behind the trillions of dollars in spending by Congress and easy money from the Federal Reserve.

All that money did spur demand. But the Keynesians ignored the disincentives to increase supply from paying people not to work and restricting work with lockdowns and mandates. The result was the surging inflation that caught nearly all of them by surprise. Their demand-side models never saw it coming.

The Steele dossier and Russia collusion narrative. In 2019 the Mueller report exposed the lack of evidence for the claims that Donald Trump and the Kremlin were in cahoots. This year the indictments by special counsel John Durham have revealed how Democrats and the press worked together to promote the dossier that was based on disinformation.

Yet for four years nearly everyone in the dominant media bought the collusion narrative. One or two of the gullible have apologized, but most want everyone to forget what they wrote or said at the time.

Vilifying police won’t affect crime. The fast-congealing consensus after George Floyd’s murder was that most police were racist, as was most of American society, and violent protests against this were justified—even admirable. Woe to anyone who pointed out that the victims of these riots and crime were mostly poor and minority communities.

Police funding was cut and bail laws eased in many cities. Eighteen months later we see the result in rising crime rates and a soaring murder count. A political backlash now has even many Democrats claiming they really do want more funding for police.

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We could go on—who can forget the knee-jerk solidarity with fabulist Jussie Smollett? But you get the idea. The reason so many Americans don’t trust the media is because they’ve learned from hard experience that the consensus they are told is unassailable truth will often turn out to be false.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/media-conformity-wuhan-covid-russia-crime-11640805471?mod=hp_opin_pos_1

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Elon Musk, Person of the Year, Radicalized by Lockdowns

Hit at least one nail squarely on the head, possibly more nails, and hit them more than once! mrossol

Elon Musk, Person of the Year, Radicalized by Lockdowns

By Jeffrey A. Tucker   December 14, 2021   Economics, Philosophy   7 minute read SHARE | PRINT | EMAILFacebookTwitterRedditLinkedInFlipboardTelegramPrintEmailShare

It’s a good call for Time Magazine: it made Elon Musk the person of the year. It’s actually even a remarkable call, and a great omen. Musk is arguably the most prominent opponent of lockdowns and vaccine mandates in the US. In his official interview, he refused to take back his last-year denunciation of stay-at-home orders as “fascist.” 

He stepped it up even further concerning vaccine mandates. “I am against forcing people to be vaccinated, not something we should do in America.” Yes, the unvaccinated are “taking a risk, but people do risky things all the time. I believe we’ve got to watch out for the erosion of freedom in America.”

True indeed. For some reason, people have a hard time understanding how someone could be for the right to accept the vaccine but also be against imposing it by force. And yet that position is clearly the most reasonable one, the one consistent with freedom, and good public health. 

Something has dramatically changed in the heart and mind of Musk over the several years. At this point, no one can seem to be able to control his mouth. And despite his ambiguous politics of the past, he is increasingly revealing himself to be what he was raised to be: a brilliant and irascible anarchist. 

Only a few weeks ago, he told the Wall Street Journal that the whole of the Democrats’ and Biden’s $1.9 trillion spending bill on infrastructure should be scrapped. All of it. There is nothing worth anything in it. 

“Honestly, I would just can this whole bill.” Further, he said that he doesn’t want any support for his electric charging stations. He pointed out that gas stations don’t need federal subsidies. He is fully confident that Tesla can continue to grow and thrive without any federal support. 

He is certainly right about that. And there is nothing surprising in his conclusion. 

Just about everyone knows that these huge bills are pork for the rich. They balloon the debt to reward political power and the friends of political power. Nothing more. We know that. The debt will find a buyers’ market mostly thanks to the Fed, which in turn manipulates money and drives up inflation. 

What’s surprising is that someone so rich, so influential, so decisive to our present economic lives, would actually say openly what everyone knows. It’s highly unusual, especially these days. Musk is now America’s most honest plutocrat. He is beyond being controlled or contrite at this point. In that way he is a very dangerous man, in the best possible way we can use that term. He had better watch his back. 

In the same context, he presented the traditional view of the state that emerged out of the enlightenment and which, in many ways, served as a foundational principle of the American revolution: “The government is simply the biggest corporation, with a monopoly on violence and where you have no recourse.”

That’s it in a nutshell, the essential insight of traditional liberalism, the one that gave us limits on the state that unleashed human creativity for hundreds of years and built what we call civilization. 

Today, the White House spokesman routinely says that no edicts against rights and freedom are “off the table.” Anything is possible. Anything can happen. They will decide.  No one says a word; the craven press believes this is just normal. It’s not. It’s dangerous. Musk’s warning about government is the antidote. 

There were a number of turning points for Musk personally. A few years back, he got fed up with the dogmatic attacks on crypto and decided to defend it. Then he trolled harder: he promoted Dogecoin and gave that market a lift. Then he said he would accept Bitcoin in selling his cars, before reversing that decision later. Still, he stepped out front of the opinion cartel and shattered the prevailing view that Bitcoin is something all of corporate America should avoid. 

The last two years have been transformative for him. He is a businessman above all else. When the government told him that he had to close his factories for a virus, he balked. He began to look at the data (he is trained in economics and statistics). He saw that the infection fatality rate was not highly unusual for this type of virus, and he was clearly aware of the harms that would come from lockdowns to his company, the country, and the world economy.

On May 11, 2020, he tweeted: “Tesla is restarting production today against Alameda County rules, I will be on the line with everyone else. If anyone is arrested, I ask that it only be me.” By the end of the year, he moved Tesla’s headquarters from oppressive California to emancipate Texas. Good on him. Remarkable really. 

Two years earlier, his dust up with the SEC made a mockery of the agency. He believes that he should have free speech so he tweeted what he wanted to tweet. The SEC reminded him that this is not a free country and that he cannot do that. He faced their investigatory tribunal, and then resigned briefly as CEO so that he could say what he wanted to say. In the end, he outsmarted them all. 

What’s happened to Elon is what has happened to millions of other people. He began to realize that the governing elites in this country are incredibly inept and unwilling to take responsibility for their actions. He noted the completely undemocratic methods and the unscientific rationale that were deployed to bring about lockdowns. For that reason, he has been smeared and put down as a promoter of misinformation. Anyone who has paid attention for the last two years knows exactly what that means: he is telling truths he is not supposed to tell. 

Let’s address his relationship with China, which in many respects pioneered the lockdowns he despises. He has said that despite his good relations in China, he disagrees with many policies of the government, just as he disagrees with policies in the US. This opinion gets him in trouble with both Democrats and Republicans. But we do well to pay attention. 

Musk is aware of a truth not often faced in the West: China is destined to be the world’s largest economy and easily so. The lockdowns of 2020 and 2021 meant that the West gave up any chance of stopping this trajectory. China gave us a gun and we shot ourselves in the foot. Beijing must still be laughing. Elon watched this all unfold and it was this that caused him to lose all respect in the governing leadership in the US. 

So yes, he will continue to maintain close ties to China. The US attempt somehow to decouple US and China in technology and trade was reckless, even delusional. It led to the chip shortage and supply chain breakages, and incentivized the creation of a robust trade pact that China dominates entirely, while excluding the US. Sorry to say, but this was Trump’s doing and it was a disaster, not so much for China, but for the US.

As regards all of these issues – trade, chips, crypto, spending, infrastructure, securities regulation – the single most dangerous thing that Elon has said is that the top goal of the US government now should be to get out of the way. Do nothing. That’s the best path. Laissez-faire. Leave us alone. 

This thought caused the transportation secretary to explode in a rage.

“These are things that don’t happen on their own,” said Pete Buttigieg said in response. “They require policy attention, and that’s part of our focus both in the charging network that is supported out of the infrastructure bill that the president signed, and the tax credits that will make these vehicles more affordable, that are proposed in Build Back Better.”

Musk will have none of it. “The government is simply the biggest corporation, with the monopoly on violence.” 

The person interviewing him interrupted: “Can you explain that last part?”

Apparently this is going to take a lot of explaining in the years ahead. 

For all the controversy, the hypocrisy, and the mixed messaging over the years, Elon Musk has turned into a true American, a resistor, a revolutionary. His influence in business and philosophical outlook offers a real path forward. He deserves every congratulations for refusing to go along with ruling-class ideology and instead demand that most essential thing, the freedom to trade, speak, run a business, and innovate without government interference. 

That he has been named Person of the Year portends more than Time Magazine knows. There is a new spirit of resistance alive in the land, and Musk embodies it as well or better than anyone else in his position. In that case, there are many people and institutions in this country and around the world that should be very worried. 

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It’s Madness What Is Happening to College Kids

Pretty simple paradigm, and clearly stated. Also check out Browstone Institute, where it was originally published. mrossol

The Epoch Times, By Vinay Prasad,  December 28, 2021

This is a post about the absolutely insane, crushing restrictions being imposed on young, healthy vaccinated (often booster and often naturally immune) people by institutions of knowledge. In order to prove my thesis that these policies are misguided, let me start with some basics.

When it comes to COVID19, there are only 3 things any of us can do:

  1. We can lower the risk of bad outcomes when we encounter the virus.
  2. We can delay the time to meet the virus
  3. We can engage in theater which does not delay the time to meet the virus

What goes in these buckets?

Category 1 (risk reduction) is easy. You can’t modify your age, a huge risk favor, but you can modify your vaccination status, and you can modify your weight and general health.

Category 2 (delay time to virus) is harder. We don’t have many well done studies, but theoretically if you sealed yourself in a bunker and ate canned food, you would do this. Wearing a snug n95 might also delay the time to meeting the virus. The challenge with these interventions is they are not sustainable by most people, and may lead to fatigue or backsliding, and thus the effect is transient.

Delaying serves two purposes:

  1. For the individual, it makes sense if, by delaying, you can do something for category 1 that you cannot do today. If you are waiting for your vaccine, for instance, by all means delay.
  2. For the community it makes sense, if, by some delaying, the pandemic trajectory is bent and hospitals are less likely to be overwhelmed.

Delaying also has a downside. It may hurt your mental health, particularly when you do it effectively. If you need evidence of this damage: please see twitter.

Category 3 (useless, virtue signaling theater) is the most common. Wearing your mask when you enter a restaurant and walk to your table, but not when you sit there for two hours laughing and drinking is one example. The fact this policy exists reflects serious impairment in thinking and total failure of policy makers.

Making a 2-4 year old wear a cloth mask in day care (which the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against the advice of the World Health Organization), but, of course, kids take the cloth mask off to nap next to each other for 4 hours in the same room! Theater.

Closing beaches and other outdoor activities. Wearing a mask outside. The list goes on and on, and most things we did fit in this category. On a side note:  Here we review all data on masking.

Enter Young, Healthy College Kids

The vast majority are either double vaxxed or have natural immunity or both, and some are also boosted. They are young (lucky them!), and the majority are healthy. What more can such students do for Category 1? Nothing.

What about category 2? It appears that many universities are making college kids wear masks, restricting their movement, banning gatherings etc. Here is just one example of how extreme they are:

These severe restrictions might actually delay the time till college kids meet the virus! But it does so with a huge disruption to their lives. All the wonderful things of being young require being very close to other people. Many simply cannot occur with a mask on.

Will these restrictions benefit the college kids? Absolutely not. When they eventually meet the virus— and they will— on vacation or next semester— they will just be a little older, but have similar great chances of doing well.

Will the restrictions benefit society? Doubtful. After all, everyone not on a college campus is not following any of these ridiculous rules, and the pandemic trajectory will be dictated by those (aka 99.9% ) of places.

It will likely not even to protect the faculty and staff on campus, who will largely face risks when they leave work and go home and on vacation, and again, if these folks have already optimized Category 1, delay makes little sense.

Will it harm the college kids? Absolutely, it will. Their mental health will surely suffer from this isolation. It has already. I will say again: all of the joys of youth require being close to other people.

What is the net balance? The net balance is these policies are catastrophically detrimental to them. Moreover, there is no countervailing benefit to staff or society to justify the huge imposition. It is morally and scientifically bankrupt.

Truly, I can’t even understand how anyone thinks these policies are justified. I am also surprised college students have accepted them with scant protest. I can only surmise that many have been mislead into thinking this sacrifice serves a broader interest (i.e. believe they are being altruistic), or that the incentives on their lives and career for conformity are so great they are afraid to speak up.

I suspect the strong link between restrictions and political party may also affect them. After all, the youth most strongly leans left (full disclosure: as do i!), and thus adheres to the identity badges of the left (but in my case, sadly, I spent too many years studying & publishing on scientific evidence to turn my brain off).

In short, draconian restrictions on vaccinated young people or those with natural immunity living in tiny pockets of college campus makes no sense, and is a policy that contributes to a harm in societal well-being. The policy is unethical and illogical.

To young people: I am personally sorry that those of us who recognized the futility and harm of these policies could not have done more to shield you from the anxieties and risk aversion of the irrational.

This article was originally published by Brownstone Institute. Republished under Creative Commons License 4.0.

https://www.theepochtimes.com/its-madness-what-is-happening-to-college-kids_4182003.html?utm_source=News&utm_campaign=Breaking-2021-12-30-1&utm_medium=email

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Aaron Rodgers: Science That ‘Can’t Be Questioned’ is ‘Propaganda’

An honest American.  They still exist! mrossol

Aaron Rodgers: Science That ‘Can’t Be Questioned’ is ‘Propaganda’

 

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers on Tuesday took aim at the criticism he says he has received for his views on COVID-19 vaccines.

During his weekly appearance on “The Pat McAfee Show,” Rodgers said that his previous comments on the issue has led to strong pushback from both a number of NFL voices and Silicon Valley.

“If science can’t be questioned, it’s not science anymore; it’s propaganda and that’s the truth,” he said.

Rodgers, 37, on Tuesday claimed that many NFL teams are quietly experimenting with various COVID-19 treatments behind the scenes.

“When did science become this blind agreement and then not having any debate over what can actually heal people and work for people. That makes no sense to me,” he said.

“When did we lose the ability to respect somebody’s opinion. My thoughts on COVID are my opinion. Why can’t we have more conversations between people with different opinions?” he added.

Rodgers made headlines last month after he tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, after claiming in August that he was “immunized” against the virus.

The three-time most valuable NFL player claimed on Nov. 5 that he was told by a league doctor that people who take a vaccine for COVID-19 will not catch or spread the disease.

“One of the main docs said it’s impossible for a vaccinated person to get COVID or spread COVID,” he said. “We know now that information is totally false.”

He confirmed during a television appearance that he is not vaccinated against COVID-19, explaining that he is allergic to an ingredient in the mRNA Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, and is wary of taking the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, citing documented past cases of blood clots that prompted federal regulatory agencies to temporarily pause administration of the shots earlier this year.

Rodgers was fined by the NFL on Nov. 9 for COVID-19 protocol violations after an investigation found that he failed to consistently wear face masks inside the team’s facilities, and attended a Halloween party maskless—violating protocol that requires masks for players not vaccinated against COVID-19.

He was also dropped by Prevea Health over his vaccine views after being aligned with the company for nine years.

Rodgers in a separate appearance on “The Pat McAfee Show” on Nov. 9 said that the COVID-19 vaccine can be “polarizing,” but did not back down from his stance on the vaccine.

“In the end, I have to stay true to who I am and what I’m about, and I stand behind the things that I said,” the quarterback added at the time.

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I'm serious… usually. (Martin Rossol)