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I think in a sense we have actually probably taken at least a half step backwards as the Left has both lost their alliance with organized labor and continues to abandon the disorganized labor we are left with because they allow the neoliberal establishment to partner with the GOP to erode the ability of labor to freely organize. The Left has also to a large degree lost the rural poor and particularly the White Southern rural poor and small farmers who made common cause with the Reverend Doctor King. The assassination of Doctor King, it could be argued, led to the final unraveling of the New Deal coalition.

Thank you for the link to your Grandfather’s article. A fitting read as we remember Doctor King today.

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Did the rural poor in the South really back MLK in some non-negligible way? Historically, the non-elite whites in the South, represented by people like Andrew Jackson and Andrew Johnson, opposed the plantation owners (the real elite in the South) and were incredibly racist because they saw blacks as part of the plantation system - as part of the machine that made the elite rich and powerful. This is eastern TN vs. western TN. Jim Crow wasn't really about plantation power; it was about other whites, including the poor, taking out their frustrations and insecurities on blacks.

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Thank you for the comment Andrew. Non-negligible support? Absolutely. The Poor People’s Campaign was an incredible coalition. White participants included southern sharecroppers, midwestern farmers, northern rank and file union men, and Kentucky coal miners. Were the white coalition members as large in number as the Black, Latinx, or other minority members? No. But the importance of having white representation then, as now, was incredibly important to the movement and the way it was viewed.

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Three thoughts from a historian on Dr. King. First while you are thinking about the forgotten parts of Dr. King's program, Matt, you should pay attention to the campaign in Chicago. It was all over the questions of housing and access that interest you, and I assume it was part of what Dr. King was thinking about in his comments at the end of the article.

Second, Dr. King had taken his hard anti-war/Vietnam turn by 1968, and he tied those issues pretty explicitly to the politics of both redistribution and race. Money is not perfectly redistributable; it's not clear that money not spent in Afghanistan and Iraq in the last twenty years would have been available to spend elsewhere in the government (maybe that money just doesn't get borrowed/created). But given the size of the spending packages that the Biden administration is proposing, it seems like it would have been nice not to have blown all that blood and treasure elsewhere.

Finally, if you haven't listened to the last three minutes of his final speech (the "Mountain" speech), you should. I always have students listen to it. Then I get them to work out the Biblical reference, which a lot of them usually don't know. Then I play it again. It is King as prophet. He knew--not in a general way, but in a somehow very direct, visceral way--what was coming.

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The final minutes of that speech are chilling when you know what happened. And as a fellow history teacher (of secondary students) I love being able to revisit a primary source in the same lesson, to see the eyes widen. My favorite are images of Jim Crow, without giving any context. Then we work through some minstrel posters and songs from library of Congress, after which we head back to Jim Crow, and their eyes get so wide.

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For those interested in the Mountaintop speech, you can hear the clip of the last 30 seconds on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I%27ve_Been_to_the_Mountaintop.

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Another follow-up to tell you I've stolen this lesson idea and am using it tomorrow with 8th graders. Thank you!

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In addition to the biblical language, there's also the quotation of the first line of the pro-Union Civil War song, Battle Hymn of the Republic, itself set to the tune of the Union battle song, John Brown's Body.

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Why isn't this element of king's work more recognized? Or the fact that when he was killed he had something like an 80% disapproval rating? It'd be nice to see these facts mentioned in an mlk day school assembly.

Makes me even more looking forward to finishing "color of law" by rothstein. In particular I think readers of this blog would love his opening exhortation to redress economic disparities not as a gift from whites to blacks but as a duty all Americans of every race have to ensure the constitution is followed and the de jure segregation is truly rectified. That being said, I'm on page 38, so perhaps I'll find his conclusions less agreeable.

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I suspect that it's not as recognized because it's seen as too political.

By the time learning about MLK became a staple in schools, most people at least professed to believe in civil rights, not discriminating against someone on account of race, etc., so educating children on that wasn't seen as indoctrinating kids into a certain kind of politics. However, what the government should do for the poor was -- and is -- still a hot-button issue.

Once MLK had become a sort of saint, telling school kids that he favored one side of that hot-button issue could be seen as putting one's thumb on the scale, essentially saying to impressionable youngsters, "This great man stood for this, shouldn't you too?"

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Humanism and equality have become unfashionable with the woke, who favor group identity and inequality that favors groups they say are oppressed (but we can’t verify that for sure because science is a tool of white supremacy)

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You should be ashamed of yourself posting this trash on an MLK thread on MLK Day

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Whitewashing MLK's politics and tactics is the only way to actually get him canonized as a unifying figure in American politics. The real as opposed to the mythological MLK would not play well with anti-redistribution or law-and-order types who are still very much around.

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The price of being canonized in the civil religion is you have to be a broadly acceptable figure, which means ignoring his views that remain controversial today.

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I wonder, if he had not been assassinated, whether he would be the secular saint that he is today. Ending Jim Crow was a focused, defined goal for common American justice. The housing campaign and Poor People's campaign and explicit demands for redistribution do not fall into that category.

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Yeah, the MLK I learned about in high school was not the same MLK I learned about in college. In high school he was basically a friendly, morally pure quasi-saint that invited many Sunday school Christ like comparisons. In college, he was a complicated radical who fought everywhere and struggled to gain ground anywhere. I think most people eventually see both sides but choose which one they want to believe in based on what makes them comfortable, it's pretty obvious which one most white people choose. One of the greatest tragedies of the progressive movement is its total surrender of the moral high ground to corrupt mega church pastors aligned with ethnonational Christian movements. The left has to elevate its religious progressive brothers and sisters even if we are uncomfortable with the implications of church and state issues. If we don't, the right will continue to dominate the space and claim it as its own.

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Absolutely. Raphael Warnock.

One of the big advantages is that we can talk about redistribution without using the language of the left, which is toxic and not a good sell to anyone who isn't already in their camp. Americans get Christianity. They don't get intersectionality and whateverthehell.

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Agreed. "My brother's keeper" has a longer track record than "demands for redistribution"

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Do we, though? We won gay marriage largely through moral persuasion, and although there were some religious figures who supported the fight, they weren't the main drivers.

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Yeah, we do. Gay Marriage absolutely involved a massive coalition that included progressive religious people, a moderate Supreme Court (which no longer exists) and a sort of cultural brute force. Liberals are not ascendent, we are not destined to seize the mantle of power in the name of enlightenment reason and scientific principles. The left needs everyone that puts solving the misery of the human condition for the greatest number of people active in its politics. To dismiss a legitimate part of our movement out of humanist pearl clutching will bring us nothing but defeat.

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What should progressive values be rooted in? Class or race? I think class makes much more sense politically and even morally. King seemed to understand this.

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It should be about making people's lives easier and reducing suffering.

I think class ends up getting confusing as a concept. We talk about well-off Trump-supporting retirees as working class and young somewhat confortable people who have high debt levels as upper class.

We should just say that we want to help people who need help.

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If most left-of-center people l in the US were as straightforward and smart as you are, I wouldn't be looking for teaching jobs overseas right now.

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There's no need for an either/or. In some case race is the main vector of oppression while in other cases it is class. We need to address both in order to reach the goal of true equity.

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I don’t know what true equity means which I think is part of the problem. People use language in ways that send affirming messages to their groups while the out groups don’t know your meaning and become suspicious. I will also say race is almost always a bad proxy for oppression in 2021 in America. There are better proxies. For example, men are shot by police at something like 10:1 more than women. I guess we are just comfortable with our bias that men are more aggressive and so of course they get shot by police more. Why not push police reform on the basis men’s lives matter. That seems more unifying to me. All races have men!

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Why do we need to define true equity? Why not work on changes we can make now, like a higher minimum wage and a better designed health system, which could help millions? What is the point of defining perfection? Make things better now.

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Political activists sociologists like to use language to win arguments instead of ideas. Notice the obvious contradiction of defining equity in a very precise sense but having two types that you move back and forth between based on your own views. There’s nothing precise about that. It’s nonsense cloaked in intellectual condescension.

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I use true equality in a very precise sense. You may not know that sense, but it does not mean there isn't one.

There are two classes of equality: formal and substantive. Formal equality is when everyone is treated in the same way. E.g., there are equal number of toilet stalls in both man and woman's toilet. The result is that women toilet will always have longer lines. Substantive equality is when the number stalls is such that both men and women toilets have statistically equal wait time. The full concept is more subtle but for the sake of brevity, it can be understand for now as equality of outcome.

Both sense of equality are important and true equality is when there is no ideological push to make one trumps the other, but to use common sense to decide which one is applicable.

Your example that men are shot 10:1 more than women is a case of trying to force substantive equality (your underlying assumption is that both men and women should be shot at equal amount by the police) in a situation where formal equality should be the operative frame. Ie., when both men and women are treated the same by the police, then the rate at which they get shot is determined by their own choice in aggressive action, not by any discrimination (ie unequal treatment) from the police. Otherwise, the police will have to keep giving violent men a pass they don't give to women in order to bring the ratio down to 1:1. This is clearly a case where substantive equality is not true equality.

All races have men, but if you look at just the demographics of the men shot by police, you will still find that minority races are over-represented. Therefore, even by your own insistent to apply substantive equality in this case, your argument that race is not a factor fails.

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Help me understand this. It sounds to me as if you are saying equality is actually one of two disjoint things, and "true equality" is when you move between those two definitions based on which is convenient for your argument at that moment? I know you said "use common sense," but who decides what is common sense?

Don't get me wrong, there's nothing inherently wrong with saying there are two disjoint terms and we need to understand them to decide which is appropriate, but something about your explanation rubs me the wrong way. I'm trying to put my finger on it, and I haven't hit it perfectly just yet, but I'll take a stab at explaining myself.

I think it may be because in practice all of this just an elaborate justification to only help the people you feel like helping and ignore the ones you don't. Group A has some problem that group B doesn't? Oh well, guess it's just because that group is naturally more prone to that problem than others, but formal equality is definitely the right framework to apply. But group B is worse off than group A in this scenario? We should put into place substantive equality measured. It's just common sense, after all.

Even in the "shot by police" example, you switched between the two when it was convenient. First you argue that formal equality applies in the case of gender (aside: I agree with your argument). Then you switch to the substantive equality framework, and say this applies to race, fine. But what you miss is that in both cases, you could just as easily apply it in reverse, asking if we should apply substantive equality to gender or formal to race.

That was Ed's original point, and you didn't really address it. He was saying, in your language, that if we are determined to apply substantive equality to police brutality issues, then it seems that it would make more sense to enforce substantive equality across gender, and not racial lines. All you did was introduce new vocabulary, apply it to the situation, and say Ed was wrong, ignoring Ed's actual point.

Vocabulary is not, in and of itself, an argument.

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I understand your confusion over when to apply formal vs substantive equality. So let me address that.

One common way is to ask is there a level playing field. If there is, then formal equality works well. E.g., Do college entrance use the same criteria for all applicants based on relevant measures such as GPA, GRE, ECA, etc., or do you allow wealthy families to buy their way in? If the entrance playing field is level, then generally people will accept any particular group's over or under representation in a particular college as the fair outcome of a fair competition.

On the other hand, if the entrance process deliberately favors certain groups which results in that group's overrepresentation, then most people would call that unfair and demand changes. This is when the outcome is indicative of foul play. This is when the lens of substantive equality come into play.

So, let's look at the police shooting example. Here are the actual findings: https://www.asanet.org/news-events/footnotes/jul-aug-2020/features/demography-police-involved-homicides

"Despite rates among women being nearly 20 times lower than rates among men, racial disparities in chances of being killed by police are still quite pronounced among females: we estimate that Black and American Indian/Alaskan Native women and girls are about 1.5 times more likely to be killed by law enforcement than their White female counterparts. "

"approximately 1 of every 1,000 Black men/boys can be expected to be killed by law enforcement. for White men and boys, this risk is approximately 1 in 2,500"

Let's see how I switch between the formal and substantive lens regarding race and gender in the police shooting example by asking: is there a level playing field? Or more specifically:

1. Are there known police officers who espouse overtly racist attitudes?

2. Do these officers also have a record of high kill & shoot rate in line with their prejudices?

3. Were the minority victims of these police shooting overrepresented by those who are innocent, unarmed, and non-aggressive?

If so, there is problem: racial minority are not in a level playing field. Therefore, the defense of formal equality (ie. the police shoots at all suspects equally so any overrepresentation is due entirely to defective group characteristics) does not apply.

Note that this is NOT an either/or argument. Ie., men, and black men in particular, can be more aggressive which contributes to the higher police shooting rate. BUT it is NOT the ONLY factor. Other factors such as racism also contributes to that high shooting rate.

Can this problem be solved by focusing on gender only? I hope it is obvious by now that the answer is no.

See how a more precise vocabulary helps with clarity?

In general, I am very suspicious of anyone claiming that any social problem has only one cause, or that solutions can be found by looking only at one variable.

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To reply to one last thing, I agree with you that there are multiple causes, and a single threaded approach is a bad idea. But there is only a finite amount of energy in the world for activism, and the truth is that at the end of the day any political movement is going to sacrifice political energy from on because to advance another, and fixing class issues will get you way more bang for your buck, not just in the good it does but also in the coalition it builds.

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The truth is, no, I don't really see how your vocabulary did anything but obfuscate the issue. For one thing, you've only shown a disparity, you still haven't proven any cause. Even using the same logic, I could point to the 10:1 disparity between men and women and say "look, there's racism, but sexism is still way more rampant and therefore we should focus on that," and nothing in your comment addresses this.

Put another way, being the statistician that I am, the argument I am presenting is that the effect of violence by race, when you control for gender, is way smaller than the effect of gender when you control for race. What you are saying is that the first effect is the sign of a non-level playing field, and the second one isn't. You aren't actually providing evidence that they are different. All you've done is declare by linguistic fiat that the first case requires substantive equality and the second doesn't.

And just so we're clear, I don't necessarily disagree with you that police are racist on average. It's not really the issue I want to focus on, I'm trying to illustrate how these labels feel a bit like they're being used as a bit of a linguistic smokescreen.

An issue I will argue, though, is that if you perform the same split to almost any issue, controlling between race and class as opposed to race and gender, you will almost always find the effect of class controlled by race is far stronger than the other way around, but I often see answers for this disparity that look a lot like the ones you've been given here.

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Is it possible that some minorities are over represented for reasons that are not racist and there is substantive equality? Similar to your argument (which I agree with) of men vs women? My argument does not fail because I did not make an argument. I proposed a construct for thinking and I’ve been successful in doing that. Thank you for your participation.

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Your question was:"What should progressive values be rooted in? Class or race?"

There is no either/or. It is both. The detour about equality demonstrated it.

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The thing I think you might be missing is that Ed's point can be completely reframed using the vocabulary you introduced, and that even though he has done that, you still haven't addressed it.

The point about class vs race is completely orthogonal to the equity question.

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Class circumscribes race, in that insofar as race has inhibited people from climbing higher, that will he reflected in their earnings and wealth. Hard to argue poor whites don’t deserve help, nor that wealthy non-whites are held back by oppression.

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I'm so tired of the leap from mutual cooperation and socialization of large, complex and expensive tasks to Communism. The alternative to working together? It occurs to me this very moment that last week's demonstration/mob riot was a scene from "Lord of the Flies: 2016-2020".

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I am curious about when the accusations (both by the government and the segregationists) that King was a Communist, emerged as a strategy for delegitimizing King. In STRENGTH TO LOVE he provided a strong enough Christian critique to the Communist ideology, preached against its moral evils consistently, and yet the smear accusations of his affiliation with the Communist party worked to discredit his work up until his death. I actually think that today most his statements would be considered radical, but not "Communist" in any true sense of the word. Nevertheless I could just as easily see the partisans and hostile media today easily creating a compelling case for an MLK "Communist agenda." Has anything changed?

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To this day, people who disagree with me politically call me "Tommie the Commie." This only demonstrates their political illiteracy, a political illiteracy shared by most right wing fuckwits.

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Addendum: to this day, actual communists I know continue to consider me an opponent, though one with whom they fell they can have "useful conversations."

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Hoover believed MLK to be a communist agent. The FBI started monitoring him in 1955 iirc.

He did critique capitalism quite sharply. https://kinginstitute.stanford.edu/king-papers/documents/coretta-scott

> By the way (to turn to something more intellectual) I have just completed Bellamy's Looking Backward. It was both stimulating and fascinating. There can be no doubt about it Bellamy had the insight of a social prophet as well as the fact finding mind of the social scientist. I welcomed the book because much of its content is in line with my basic ideas. I imagine you already know that I am much more socialistic in my economic theory than capitalistic. And yet I am not so opposed to capitalism that I have failed to see its relative merits. It started out with a noble and high motive, viz, to block the trade monopolies of nobles, but like most human system it fail victim to the very thing it was revolting against. *So today capitalism has outlived its usefulness.* It has brought about a system that takes necessities from the masses to give luxuries to the classes. So I think Bellamy is right in seeing the gradual decline of capitalism.

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Hoover thought everyone to the left of him was a "communist." I wear my place on his COINTELPRO list as a badge of honor, that that heavily-closeted old fruitfly thought me dangerous.

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Believed in the First Amendment and didn't believe in the war, after participating in the (alleged) Tonkin gulf (non) Incident.

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As a matter of fact, as I discovered doing research for a new book, the "lights in the water" that were thought to be North Vietnamese PT boats were found in 2004 to be moonlight and lighting reflected off an enormous school of flying fish that annually transits the Gulf of Tonkin then. When LBJ was first informed of the incident, he said "Those poor damn sailors were probably shooting at flying fish." Turns out, he knew more than Can't Investigate Anything and the Department of Defense combined.

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Aren't you blowing your neoliberal cred with this piece? I totally agree with it by the way.

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I was about to write something along these lines but didn’t quite pull the trigger because it feels in need of more analysis.

I’ve often felt the whole neoliberal thing has exited the realm of policy or economic analysis and become a version of identity politics. Heck, a neoliberal “card” is invoking the idea of a drivers license or membership card - it is identification. Mar either identities as a neoliberal or not. The public either sees Matt as a neoliberal or not.

But nobody is one thing and nobody has one identity. And nobody holds totally uniform policy or economic positions.

What I hope to understand by reading Slow Boring is how to better understand a nuanced approach that pragmatically take positions from many seemingly opposing positions.

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I've identified as a democratic socialist much of my adult life. Avoiding wasted human potential because of current institutions is a large part of my understanding of what the term means. At the same time, I'm a neoclassically trained economist. So I recognize that markets are often institutions which are effective means of performing some of the tasks which a society needs for survival and reproduction.

Matt's obsession with the housing markets and the impediment which zoning creates to lower housing costs is an example of a neoliberal solution which even leftists ought to support. In neoclassical terms reducing restrictions on multifamily units in dense and highly productive Urban areas would result in a Pareto improvement where those benefited by a change could compensate could the losers from that change. In class terms the beneficiaries of the change would overwhelmingly be workers paying less for housing. The losers would be upper middle class families whose neighborhoods would have greater traffic and noise.

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I don't like being language prescriptivist but I think merely supporting redistribution doesn't make anyone a socialist or the term socialism will lose all meaning. Socialism is defined by the cooperative as opposed to private ownership of capital.

Having said that I'm generally in the same boat as reconciling socialism with markets can still easily be done since 1. socialism is primarily about ownership, not mechanisms of exchange, and therefore some varieties are compatible with markets and 2. even if your long term vision for society is radically socialist, that's not inconsistent with supporting reforms of the current system in the now to help people in need.

Speaking of words that have lost all meaning, it's pretty silly that 'neoliberal' has somehow come to mean 'anybody who isn't totally against all markets' with both pro-market and anti-market people. This new twitter trend of people actually self identifying as neoliberal (who really aren't) is so bizarre to me.

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A comment thread is far from the best place to debate fine ideological points. However, I think the overarching question is of rights within a society. For me the point of socialism is to redefine rights in a more egalitarian fashion, so that all members of society have an equal opportunity to thrive and realize their unique potential. This will necessarily involve redistribution of income, but as an effect of policy not and end in itself.

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Sure but if such a view constitutes 'socialism' then how is socialism any different from, say, Rawlsian social liberalism philosophically or social democracy in policy-wise?

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This is like asking three blind men to describe an elephant. I.e. I'm feeling distinction without difference.

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Equal opportunity to thrive is good but we will not get equal outcomes from that because Mother Nature does not equally distribute talent. What about a meritocracy based capitalist society with an underlying socialist safety net? Maximize human potential and innovation and use some of that wealth created to provide general well-being to everyone not having the right set of skills (like Liam Neeson) to complete in the tat race. It is possible that many people will produce unexpected things when they are freed from playing a sport they’re not good at.

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"YIMBY" = neoliberalism? I seriously don't get it. How about: "restrictions on housing supply hurt just about everyone and there's plenty of theory and evidence to prove it"? What is the point of referring to "neoliberalism"? How does it make our understanding of the policy proposal any better?

As a person presently receiving mainstream economic training, I am willing to say that the terms "neoliberal" and "neoclassical" have basically no use anymore. They have been stretched to meaninglessness. I mean we could talk about neoliberalism in the design of the EU, but that's about it.

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Did you mean to say something along the lines of "take positions from many seemingly opposing identities". I liked your comment very much and was following along all the way to the very last word, which confused me a bit

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Yes, that’s why I should proofread! Or perhaps substack needs and edit button

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That's funny, but on a personal (gasbag) note I think 'neoliberal' is the most overused term on the left. It basically means whatever economic policy the left doesn't like. It's just a slur.

There is something real that we can call neoliberalism in development economics, but one of its tenets is the creation of a fully fledged welfare state.

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He's just turning the left-wing slur into a joke. Always has. It's funny unless you don't get it.

The term 'neoliberal' was never a description members of that group (people running the Bretton Woods development institutions back in the early 90's) would have used for themselves.

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I don't know. And I do know that he frequently makes statements with ironic intent which are misinterpreted by some readers. I believe that Matt's appearance inn there bracket for the annual Neoliberal Shill competition would justify identifying him with the movement.

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No, the online Neoliberal movement (eg the r/neoliberal subreddit), who are trying to reclaim the word as a positive thing.

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I'm not sure. It may have been Noah Smith. It definitely wasn't socialists. It was a bit jokey and ironic, too.

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It seems Dr. King would have supported your universalist program ideas. :-)

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While it would seem to me that MLK would support universalist programs, I'm not sure he would be or be accused of being a class reductionist. But this is the first time I've heard the term, so maybe I just don't understand the discussion.

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the nation is welcome to join the new Poor People's Campaign, which exists in over 40 states .. fighting the 3 evils that King was, and also a 4th: ecological devastation,

also too, the false moral narrative of religious nationalism

M.O.R.E. Mobilize, Organize, Register and Educate people to vote

https://twitter.com/revdrbarber/status/1350987532020948994?s=21

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Based on a quick read, this seems largely to be a call for spending more money on what currently exists. Other parts of the program require some serious explication. For example, what is a “permanent presidential council to advocate for the program” actually supposed to do?

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the campaign's Poor People's Moral Budget, released in 2018, lays out how the resources of our country can most definitely meet the demands of the movement

their report identifies the following cuts (see below), in line with King's fight against both racism and the war economy.

so * interlocking injustices *, not simply a class struggle

Fight Poverty not the Poor

$350 billion in annual military spending cuts that would make the nation and the world more secure;

$886 billion in estimated annual revenue from fair taxes on the wealthy, corporations, and Wall Street; and

Billions more in savings from ending mass incarceration, addressing climate change, and meeting other key campaign demands.

https://www.poorpeoplescampaign.org/resource/poor-peoples-moral-budget/

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I anticipated that "fair taxes on the wealthy, corporations, and Wall Street" wouldn't have any real definition of "fair"... but I was wrong! Kudos to the full budget for putting out hard numbers that actually define what they mean by "fair": https://www.poorpeoplescampaign.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/PPC-Moral-Budget-2019-report-FULL-FINAL-July.pdf

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It’s interesting we both take different things from the detour. Let’s embrace that diversity.

My fundamental view on race and equity is that it is divisive to use white men as the equity baseline. So the analysis ends up that if your group is not doing as well or better than white men there is an inequity. So for America to have equity white men need to be at the bottom of all the important statistical categories. The outrage about black men being shot by police isn’t rooted in humans unnecessarily being shot by police. It’s rooted in the relative rate that blacks are shot compared to whites. If only more whites were shot we could solve this problem. If only white parents sabotaged the futures of their children we would have more equity in America because whites would move to the bottom of the lists. This is very bad thinking and you can deny that woke liberals think this way but we all know it’s true. We need to have honest discussions about human development in the black community. I support making investments there.

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I would call this thinking the Broken Window Theory of Social Justice.

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Yes, politics involves conflict; that has to be recognized, not swept under the rug. But governing is not all zero sum. At a basic level the worst thing that Trump did was frame issues as "us-them." Greater immigration, freer trade, reform of policing, expanded health insurance reducing net CO2 emissions, full employment are not or ought not be "class" issues.

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I dispute that there's not an "us-them" element to these things, in each case there's a group of people who would be hurt:

Greater immigration- people who want the ethnic background of their community to stay the same

Freer trade- owners and employees of domestic firms who fear foreign competition

Reform of policing- police unions who value unaccountability as a perk of the job

Expanded health insurance- companies who see job lock as a way to reduce employee bargaining power, people who prefer low income taxes rather than government subsidies for health insurance

Reducing net CO2 emissions- polluting companies and car owners who don't want to pay the cost of their negative externalities

Full employment- businesses who prefer their supply of labor to be a bit more desperate for work

I am *definitely* not saying that these groups are correct or that their views should win the day, but it's important to recognize that there are those with concrete motivations to resist progressive policies.

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I am cautious of the tendency on the left to assert their own (often cynical) meanings in place of understanding the stated motivations of the people in question.

For instance, it may be that opposition to immigration is driven by a desire for no change in ethnicity, but it may also be the case that people have a moral opinion that the American government should be looking after the American people first. Similarly, there are many words and statements from police officers that indicate that they see themselves as vulnerable and impunity as protection. Threatening them more will just drive the stake in further. This is why “defund the police” is so politically toxic and so useless as policy. A lot of people see it for what it is, as punishment rather than reform.

We on the left cannot persuade or win without trying to build our politics and policy around what people actually think they mean. The right is eating our lunch on this.

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I mainly agree with you. Much higher (though not unlimited) levels of Immigration, especially of educated people, is in in the material interest of most people (people with very similar labor-market characteristics would be an exception) and we should argue for it in those terms, not in terms of retributive justice for immigrants against "whites."

Ditto, policing reform. Reducing the number of situations in which police officers wind up shooting or killing suspects should not be threatening to police officers. As a practical matter I suspect we need more officers, even after relieving them of some kinds of "social policing" and traffic enforcement duties.

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I do not disagree that some people will be harmed (or think they will be harmed) by policies that produce aggregate benefits. The us-them I was pushing back against was that the issues are zero sum: what benefits a refugee or immigrant ipso facto harms America.

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You are forgetting how immigrants and refugees was how the US grew so quickly in the first place. They are a burden only if you want to exploit and exclude them from fully participating in society.

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You mis-read me. I said that immigrants DO produce benefits for the rest of us. [it is possible that other very resent immigrants with labor market characteristics similar to newer immigrants may be harmed, but not people in general.]

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There's non-zero-sum, and then there's Pareto improvement. The reforms you mention may be good for "everyone" but they will cost someone, and that someone may be able to mobilize.

Also, there's all the non-economic calculations you can make. Do many whites oppose environmental regulation because it affects them directly, or is it because of perceived cultural differences? Do they oppose Affirmative Action because it hurts them, or because it helps people they believe should be the underclass?

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53 years later, we're still there. In fact, if you think about it, 247 years later, we're still there.

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Read the whole thing. Takes you back. King saw and did things people today wouldn't believe. Thanks to your grandfather, who brilliantly captures some of them, and others, they will not be lost in time.

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"and I tell you if this country does not see its poor — if it lets them remain in their poverty and misery — it will surely go to hell!”

I guess the last four years have been a fulfillment of his prophecy

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Some of those Capitol Hill insurgents flew in on private jets. The Trump base isn't poor. They're ill educated, but whites without a college education can do pretty well for themselves. That's the whole thing - they know change is coming (you need a college degree to get a decent job these days, just like how one day a high school diploma became basically mandatory) and those leading that change are very diverse and fairly liberal.

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