Professional Licencing Reform Will Just Enrich the Wealthy

Professional LicenseWatching economic policy debate feels very much like watching a doctor set a broken arm while the patient dies with blood gushing out of an artery. We look at minor issues and ignore major ones. And then when someone like me points this out, people complain, “Well at least they’re doing something!” That might be a sensible retort if the minor things that were being done were unquestionably good. But that’s never the case.

Take the case of Obama’s new budget line item that gives $15 million to states so that they can evaluate the costs and benefits of professional licensing. Jonathan Chait wrote a very excited article about it, Obama Budget Attacks Big Small Government. In many ways, I agree. The truth of the matter is that if you are going to be oppressed by the government in the United States, it is almost certainly going to be by state and local government — not the federal government. And a lot of professional licensing really is stupid. I’ll go further: there are tremendous state and local regulations that are extremely onerous to people like me who operate what I’ve come to think of as micro-businesses — businesses that consist of one or two people that often don’t even have store fronts.

Where I part company with Chait is in thinking that licensing requirements are really what are getting in the way of people climbing the economic ladder. To begin with, property tax laws that require businesses to pay taxes on all their inventory that they might some day sell are far more inhibiting than licensing. Or consider one of Chait’s favorite examples: barbers. Having to go to school and be licensed is certainly a barrier to entry. But it isn’t as big a barrier to entry as having to rent a shop rather than working out of your house.

But the macro-scale problem is worse. Becoming a barber is currently a path to the middle class precisely because it is a licensed profession. Get rid of that barrier to entry, and more people come into the field, and the quality of the job goes done. And pretty much, the quality of the job goes down to the same extent that it becomes an easier job to have. Allow people to have barber shops in their kitchens and it becomes as much a pathway to the middle class as itinerant farm work.

But hey, that’s the free market, right? Sort of. The truth is that writ large and long, the economy would grow as a result of cheaper haircuts. But there are two reasons why we shouldn’t care. The first is just a matter of fairness. Why is it that it is always the middle and lower-middle classes that have to suffer so that the poor might get a small advantage? We saw this during many of the lame attempts at integration in the early 1970s. The ultimate effect was that the lower and middle classes were disrupted and minority groups ended up just as segregated as when they started. This is what happens when the power elite decide that the only way to help the disadvantaged is by disadvantaging a different, almost as powerless, group.

The other issue is that I just don’t care about economic growth. Over the last four decades, we have seen the effect of economic growth. The rich (top 1%) have gotten way richer. The upper half of the upper class (top 10%) has gotten marginally richer. And the rest have either gotten nothing or have actually lost. So when cheaper haircuts stimulate economic growth, there is no reason to think that the very people who see their wages cut will get any offsetting benefit from it.

Last week, Dean Baker discussed, Ubernomics. It turns out that despite the fact that Uber drivers have enormous upfront costs and are basically just their own businesses, they seem to make less per hour than traditional cab drivers. This doesn’t even take into account that Uber and similar services are flouting the law. As Baker noted, “Find a way to get around the rules and then claim it as a great innovation.” Regardless, this is also the typical story of our economy: lower wages for poor and middle class workers while the rich pocket the savings.

None of this is to say that we shouldn’t look at professional licensing. But it is a minor issue. We are looking at it because it is an issue that doesn’t threaten the power elite. I understand: that’s politics. But there is a problem with supposedly liberal commentators claiming that this is something great. It isn’t. The long-term effects of this will be to lower the wages of middle class workers. But on the up side, Jonathan Chait will get cheaper haircuts.

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Mark Eitzel

Mark EitzelThe great singer-songwriter Mark Eitzel is 56 today. He is best known for his work with American Music Club. The interesting thing is that Eitzel started in punk rock in 1980. Most people think of AMC as a pretty mellow affair. But that’s the great thing about it. It is fundamentally a punk band. I’ve never seen punk as a style of music. Rather, it is an attitude — FUBU for white people. And AMC definitely has that. I’ve heard a definition of depression as “anger turned inward.” I think that’s a terrible definition of depression, but it is a rather good definition of AMC. But what really makes Eitzel great is that he takes his anger and depression and combines it with a wry sense of humor.

Although American Music Club has managed to get back together and put out a couple of albums over the last decade (Good albums!) Eitzel seems to perform more as a solo act. I think he is at his best when he’s working with Vudi in AMC. But it doesn’t much matter from our perspective, there is really not much good online. But here is “Johnny Mathis’ Feet” from their major label debut Mercury:

Happy birthday Mark Eitzel!

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Slap Shot as Prophetic Tragedy

Slap ShotI watched the 1977 film Slap Shot the other night. It’s a George Roy Hill film, and so that’s why I decided to view it again. I didn’t like it that much as a kid, but I figured I would like it a lot more now. That wasn’t really true. But I know what I found troubling as a kid: the gratuitous violence. It is meant to be funny, but I was always very sensitive to that. And now I just don’t think it works. But I’m in the minority. A lot of people really like the film. I’m not saying that I dislike the film, however. It is just that it is deeply depressing from the vantage point of America 2015.

The film came out the year after Rocky and I think Hill was trying to get the same feel in Slap Shot. The home town in the film seems every bit as dirty and unpleasant as the Philadelphia in John Avildsen’s classic. Similarly, the indoor scenes are under lit, giving it a very natural feel. But it is easier to take in a drama than a comedy. Here it is oppressive. In fact, I felt oddly disconnected from the characters, who seemed to be a lot more sunny than I was feeling.

One aspect of the film that stands out is how working class it is. But it is hard not to see it as pandering. For example, Charlestown, where the Chiefs are located, is a one factory town. And that factory closes in the middle of the film, throwing 10,000 people out of work. But no mention is made of this later in the film. The town doesn’t seem to have been affected by it. And the people on the team are just interested in getting bought by someone else, so they can continue to play in some other town. That’s understandable, but there is absolutely no solidarity.

Maybe that’s the way it should be. Films reflect the society. And 1977 was the leading edge of America’s hard right turn. People tend to think that things started to go bad under Reagan. That’s not true. The social decay and the destruction of the middle class really took off under Reagan, but it was Carter who started the whole neoliberal process with its deregulation. If Slap Shot has a theme, it is that everyone is so desperate that they don’t have the ability to care about anyone else.

This is most demonstrated in Paul Newman’s character, Reggie Dunlop. He isn’t so much callous towards others as he is just lost in his own fantasies. Throughout the film, there is a subplot about Dunlop trying to get back together with his wife, Francine, played by Jennifer Warren. At the end, Francine is moving to New York because business is so bad in Charlestown — the only (implicit) acknowledgement of the town’s economic problems. Dunlop is going on to coach another team in Minnesota. When Dunlop is asked if Francine will be coming to join him, he says, “Oh, for sure!” But of course, she isn’t. And he knows it. Your dreams only take you so far. In 1977, it was possible to still have dreams. It is 38 years later, and dreams seem like a quaint affectation of a bygone era. There are no more factories to close. No more wives to win back. No more jobs waiting in another town.

No wonder I didn’t find Slap Shot very fun. It was created at the start of our hopelessness. When Dunlop looks out at his wife as she drives away, he’s looking decades into the future. He sees that it doesn’t get better.

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Libertarians Crazy in Judiciary Too

Michael O'DonnellRoot traces the battle over judicial restraint to a notorious 1873 Supreme Court decision known as the Slaughterhouse Cases. The decision concerned a group of butchers who challenged a Louisiana law that, ostensibly for health reasons, relocated and consolidated the New Orleans slaughterhouse industry into a state-controlled monopoly. The butchers sued, claiming that the law violated their rights as small-business owners. It was the Supreme Court’s first chance to interpret the new Fourteenth Amendment, passed in the wake of the Civil War and guaranteeing citizenship, due process, and equal protection to all people born or naturalized in the United States. But the Court read the great amendment narrowly and rejected the butchers’ claims. Justice Stephen Field dissented and unwittingly became the patron saint of the libertarian legal movement.

Note what has happened here: libertarians claim as their hero a judge who from the outset saw the Civil War amendments as a shield with which white people could protect their property. Of course, the amendment is broadly and grandly worded, and encompasses far more than the antislavery intentions that propelled it into existence. And most observers today agree that Slaughterhouse was wrongly decided. But it is distasteful to raise up Justice Field as the Fourteenth Amendment’s champion: Field, who voted with the majority in Plessy v Ferguson that separate is equal; Field, whose majority vote in the Civil Rights Cases restricted the Fourteenth Amendment’s ability to target the Ku Klux Klan; Field, who outrageously suggested in Slaughterhouse that Louisiana had treated the white butchers as “slaves” under the Thirteenth Amendment. Had Field gotten his way in both Plessy and Slaughterhouse, the Fourteenth Amendment would perversely stand for property rights but not freedom from racial discrimination.

If Field is Root’s hero, then Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr is his villain. This again is a strange choice. Holmes is regarded across the political spectrum as one of the great justices in the history of the Supreme Court. His elegant opinions on subjects from contracts to torts to habeas corpus did more for the development of American common law than those of perhaps anyone since John Marshall. And, alongside Louis Brandeis — another justice whom libertarians disdain — Holmes helped establish a strong First Amendment. Freedom of speech being the most elemental of rights, one would think that libertarians would embrace Holmes. But they dislike him because he was the Court’s leading proponent of judicial restraint; he famously dissented in Lochner. Courts should not dream up constitutional rights where none exist and interfere with legislatures, said Holmes. Yes, they should, libertarians retort.

Root completely misses the reason that Holmes is revered. Unlike most proponents of judicial restraint, Holmes did not let his politics interfere with his judging. It is well and good for a social conservative like Robert Bork to call for a restrained court when the effect of this is to uphold state laws banning abortion and contraception. Those are results that he wanted, making it impossible to tell whether his methodology was in service of his politics or vice versa. But Holmes was the closest thing to an apolitical justice that we’ve had. Root does not mention this, choosing to associate Holmes with the Progressive Movement, but the great jurist’s own economic views were distinctly libertarian. The fact that he refused to write them into constitutional law when he had a chance in Lochner reveals him to be a jurist of rare principle.

This is not the only inconsistency in judicial libertarianism. In a real sense it is a movement on a collision course with itself. Root calls for activist courts to strike down laws that hamper individuals’ freedom of contract. But states pass far more laws than Washington does. And states are supposed to be the laboratories of democracy; libertarians profess to believe in local rather than centralized government. But Root seems to think the more laws the courts invalidate, the better. Here we approach the nihilistic side of libertarianism: less government is better government, wherever the trims are made. Libertarianism, so principled, so carefully thought out, does not appear to have grappled with the conundrum of using courts to shrink local government.

—Michael O’Donnell
SCOTUS Heads Toward the Cliff

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Worker Delusions and Corporate Profits

Not FedExI learned from my father today that a FedEx driver he was talking to has been greatly harmed by Obamacare. It seems the driver was complaining because he used to pay $1,200 per year for his health insurance and now he has to pay $3,000. Thanks Obama! I smelled a rat — a dead one that had been festering for a few days. I mean, how is it that Obamacare would have any effect on employer provided healthcare? I could think of a few reasons, but they weren’t compelling. It could be that the insurance the company was providing was something useless and Obamacare does require that insurance not be useless. But that was unlikely at that cost. It could be the tax on “Cadillac plans.” But that would not cause the cost to go up two and half times.

Much more likely was something we are seeing far too often. Many companies are using Obamacare as an excuse to cut worker benefits. It is very difficult for an employer to get its workforce to take a pay cut. But making them pay more for their insurance is much easier. And doing it because of “Obamacare” makes it that much easier. But could workers really be that gullible? With a willing media that has manage to confuse and distort the law, it isn’t much of a problem. And without a union to protect and inform employees, there is no one to prevent it.

There hasn’t been much coverage of what happened, but I did manage to find an article in The Commercial Appeal, FedEx Shifts Gears on Health Insurance. But based upon the article, it doesn’t look like the company was even pushing the Obamacare angle — although it may well have been internally. The only reference to it is that FedEx is making this change “to protect against Obamacare’s penalties on overly generous plans in the future.” This is a nice bit of disingenuousness, “We’re cutting your benefits now because there might be penalties in the future!” But this is a minor thing — it isn’t the main rationalization for the cuts.

The main reason for the cuts is the same as it always is: profits. The article stated, “The change is designed to slow down one of the company’s fastest-growing expenses.” But given that healthcare represents 3.5% of their expenses, that doesn’t mean quite as much as it could. What it really means is that the company wants to increase profits at the expense of its workers. There was a time 50 years ago when this would have been considered outrageous. Today it is thought of as the way things ought to be and even a great thing. As we are told all the time, “The only purpose of a corporation is to increase shareholder value!” Yea team.

But the whole affair highlights how American politics is so screwed up. Here is a worker, who in decades past would have been proudly union — in solidarity with other workers. But now, he’s repeating the lies of the corporate class. The problem isn’t that the company sees easy profits by squeezing him. It is that all those poor people are getting free healthcare and all the corporations are getting unfairly attacked.

Afterword

From the experience of my business partner Will, who has a great deal of shipping experience, the US Postal Service is by far the best shipping company. Both FedEx and UPS suck. This goes along with my experience as well. And the Republican attacks on the USPS are all about providing FedEx and UPS with access to the most profitable USPS routes so they can leave the unprofitable ones to the government so that we taxpayers can pay for them. Capitalism when it is good for corporate America and socialism when it isn’t! And many American workers cheering it on.

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American Double Standard on Spying

Alan GrossDuring the State of the Union address, you may have noticed a guy who was recently released from prison in Cuba. His name was Alan Gross, and President Obama told us, “[A]fter years in prison, we’re overjoyed that Alan Gross is back where he belongs.” Gross has been portrayed as a naive do-gooder, who the evil Cuban government treated like a spy. But the truth is at least a whole lot more complicated than that. And I would argue that the Cuban government treated Gross like a spy because Gross acted like a spy. He may not be a spy in the sense that he doesn’t work as an agent of the CIA. But he was working as a contractor for the US government doing espionage in Cuba.

What Gross was supposedly doing was setting up internet access for the Cuban Jewish community. That’s true in a sense. But as John Stoehr noted, “In 2009, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) paid Alan Gross, through a third party, almost $600,000 to go to the island nation to install military-grade internet equipment in Jewish synagogues that could not be detected by the government in Havana.” This is the kind of equipment that only the military and intelligence agency can get their hands on. Gross very clearly and knowingly broke Cuban law and was sentenced to 15 years for “criminal acts against the independence of the Cuban nation.” That it was — just as surely as the Bay of Pigs was.

The obvious retort to this is if Jewish synagogues want to have this kind of equipment they ought to be allowed. I totally agree! But you know who doesn’t agree? The United States government. If the Cuban government sent agents into the United States to install high tech gizmos for the purpose of evading surveillance, our government would arrest those agents and throw them in prison — very likely for a lot longer than 15 years. So it is just outrageous for the United States to claim that Cuba is in the wrong here when its government acted the same way that ours would.

Let’s remember: Edward Snowden is living in Russia right now. He not only can’t come back to the United States, he can’t even leave Russia. After Evo Morales said that he would consider giving Snowden asylum in Boliva, the US government got his plane forced down in Austria where it was searched in total disregard for diplomatic protocol. Similarly, Julian Assange is effectively under house arrest at the Ecuadoran embassy in London because the US wants to put him in prison for the rest of his life.

I’m for freedom of speech and the right to privacy — in the extreme. But until my own country shares my commitment, I’m not going to complain about other countries that are similarly small minded. (And Cuba has a much more valid reason for worrying than we do.) But this is always the way in the United States — not just with the government but also with our media. If a country is an enemy, whatever it does is bad and whatever we do to it is good. I discussed this a couple of days ago regarding the different treatment we give to Venezuela and the far, far worse Saudi Arabia, American Double Standard Regarding Democracy. So Obama and the rest can claim that Cuba was wrong to imprison Alan Gross. But they would have been all for it if the parties had been reversed.

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Paddy Chayefsky

Paddy ChayefskyOn this day in 1923, the great screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky was born. I know him primarily from three films: Marty, The Hospital, and Network. I’ll admit, I’ve never really understood Marty. Mostly it is just that no one could ever think that Betsy Blair wasn’t pretty enough for Ernest Borgnine. But the screenplay is quite good. It is a very sweet film — the kind that would likely be panned if it were released today.

But it is Chayefsky’s sharp satire in The Hospital and Network that he is most known for. I think they hold up quite well. But that may not speak so much of the films as it does to the fact that the world hasn’t much changed. The Howard Beale Show and The Mao Tse-Tung Hour in Network are only different from modern reality television in that these fictional shows actually showed so creativity. All that Chayefsky missed about the future was that the people who would bring it to us would be so unrelentingly boring — and that the nation would be just fine with that.

Most people remember the admittedly great “I’m mad as hell!” speech. But it isn’t really what Network is all about. It’s sad that people don’t remember the one scene that is really important. It’s a speech that tells humans that they are meaningless. It is the speech that eventually causes Howard Beale to be assassinated. But it isn’t Beale’s speech. It is the head of CCA, Arthur Jensen, who gives the important speech. It isn’t important because we should believe it. It is important because it completely summarizes what the Jensens of the world think about the rest of us. And if we don’t stand up to those people, we will continue to live in their worlds. “There are no peoples… There is only one holistic system of systems, one vast and immane, interwoven, interacting, multivariate, multinational dominion of dollars.”

Just five years after the success of Network, Chayefsky died of cancer at 58 years old. It’s sad because he was on a role. It would have been interesting to see what he went on to do.

Happy birthday Paddy Chayefsky!

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John Boehner’s Rotten Jobs Paid Well

John BoehnerSunday night, I wrote about the pathetic 60 Minutes segment that allowed John Boehner and Mitch McConnell to come on and pitch their talking points unmolested, Shameless Republican Ad on 60 Minutes. I wanted to add one more thing to that. In the discussion of the minimum wage, Boehner began to wax poetic about his days of working his way through college. This appears to be the case. Unlike most politicians, Boehner really is from relatively modest circumstances. But that doesn’t make his argument any stronger.

He gave the same old apologia for allowing the poor to work for next to nothing:

I’ve had every kinda rotten job you can imagine growing up and getting myself through school. And I wouldn’t have had a chance at half those jobs if the federal government had kept imposing higher minimum wage. You take the bottom rungs off the economic ladder.

There are many things wrong with this. The biggest theoretical problem is that it depends upon a widely held myth about the way that business works. According to this theory, businesses hire people out of some sense of beneficence. That’s just not true. Businesses hire because they have to. They have work that needs to get done. So the idea that companies are going to cut workers because the minimum wage goes up is just madness. What will happen in a very small number of cases is that really badly run, inefficient companies, which are only profitable because they pay their works starvation wages, will go out of business. But these are just companies that are currently gaming the system and they deserve to go out of business.

But more important is the practical matter of just what the minimum wage was when little Johnny Boehner was working himself through college. He was born in 1949. So what was the minimum wage worth in the late 1960s? According to work by Dean Baker and Will Kimball, if the minimum wage had just kept pace with inflation, it would be $9.66 today (that’s with my adjustment from 2012 up to 2015). In addition, if it rose with productivity (which it always did until that time), it would now be almost $17.50. And if we look at just non-farm productivity growth, it would now be worth more than $23 per hour.

Real Value of Minimum Wage - Time Series

What Boehner did in the 60 Minutes interview is common among people his age. They look back on their own youths — when pretty much only youths had those kinds of jobs — and claim that they were just fine. Well that may be. But those jobs paid a lot more back then. If we use the non-farm productivity figure, John Boehner was earning three times what a minimum wage worker is earning today. And as I noted: these jobs are not for kids working their way through college; they are for adults with kids just trying to get through the month.

If Republicans and other conservatives want to stop the minimum wage from increasing, that’s fine. But don’t pretend that the minimum wage of today is the same as it always was. It isn’t. And until 1970, it always went up with the rate of productivity growth. It is no coincidence that when the minimum wage stopped growing, so did the wages for the rest of American workers. The current minimum wage simply adjusted for inflation is 67% of what it was in 1968, when John Boehner was doing “every kinda rotten job you can imagine.” The imagination problem is not with us; it is with him and all his conservative allies who can’t see that things have changed a lot since they were at the bottom rungs of the economic ladder.

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Penn & Teller Nonsense

Penn & Teller BullshitI came upon a very interesting Rational Wiki article on Penn & Teller. This pair has bugged me for a very long time — especially after their ideological defense of Walmart. Their libertarian views skew everything they do. I generally have a problem when rich and successful people promote libertarianism. It is like someone who’s won a war saying, “Now let me explain why monarchy is the best form of government…” These are guys who had all the advantages of public education, unions and public sector jobs (Jillette’s father was a prison guard), and a safety net that allowed them to risk failure in a field where most fail. Yet now they have convinced themselves that it was all about them, and now they don’t want no stinking government to interfere with them — even at the cost to later generations having the same support that they depended on.

But the duo is interesting in that they are strictly rational when it comes to looking at claims like UFOs or ghosts, but when it comes to politics, they’re hopeless. On their show Penn & Teller: Bullshit! they couldn’t touch on anything even remotely associated with politics without falling into the ideologue’s trap: they started with their conclusion. (In fairness, their approach to UFOs and ghosts is probably just as predetermined — but those subjects have the advantages of having had actual scientists look into them.) Then their arguments were nothing more than setting up straw men to knock down and cherry picking data.

They were most notoriously wrong about global warming. Now a real skeptic looking into global warming would, I don’t know, talk to a scientist? Maybe James Hansen would have something to say on the issue. But Penn & Teller are far too smart for that! They went to the source of the best information on climate change: the Cato Institute. Because when you want objective information, the best place to go is to people who are ideologically committed to the science saying a particular thing. And even better, go to people who are ideologically committed in exactly the same way that you are! That way you can filter any actual information through that prism.

Okay, so that was back in 2003. There was little reason to doubt global warming then, but it was more understandable then. But in the years since, Jillette has only provided apologias for his previous positions. According to Rational Wiki, “In later interviews, Penn stated that anthropogenic global warming was probably real, but claimed that he was talking about not knowing whether ‘the whole package’ (ie the need for government intervention, presumably as opposed to a self-correcting market) was real.” But that’s not true: the duo was clearly making the case that all conservatives were making then, “We don’t know so we shouldn’t do anything!”

Further, Jillette (and Teller too, I assume) has only shown that he is doing the global warming denial steps. They are: (1) There is no global warming; (2) There is global warming, but humans aren’t the cause; and (3) Humans are causing global warming, but there is nothing we can do about it. There’s nothing rational about that. It is just, “I don’t want to believe and so I won’t.” And that makes him as rational and skeptical as your average fundamentalist Christian.

In 2008, the duo did an episode attacking the idea of carbon offsets. At that point, only loons were denying global warming. And there they were complaining about the most conservative response. Rational Wiki pointed out that in the episode, they used Argumentum ad Gorem, or Gore’s Law: “As an online climate change debate grows longer, the probability that denier arguments will descend into attacks on Al Gore approaches 1.” But what do you expect from a couple of libertarians? Rational argument?!

When it comes down to it, Penn & Teller will argue that they are just entertainers, “Just a clown! Just a clown!” But if that’s the case, why not step out of the skeptical movement? Why pretend that you are speaking the truth and not just pushing your own self-serving ideology? Why not stick to what you actually know? I would argue that the reason is because both these men are so deluded that they can’t even see their own biases. The same thing can be said for the New Atheist movement generally. And that’s probably why the New Atheists continue to admire them as their own.


See also: Philosophical Underpinnings of New Atheist Sexism.

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Hodgman’s Chait “PC” Twitter Response in English

John HodgmanNo one asked, but here are my thoughts about the Jonathan Chait piece in New York Magazine, Not a Very PC Thing to Say.

I acknowledge the phenomena he is describing is an actual thing. I was on a campus in the 90s and am on the internet now. I’ve seen and occasionally been confronted by principled passion and vitriol in response to what I thought was a mild opinion. I have been flustered at the suggestion that my opinion is simply invalid due to my privilege. I have watched all sides become entrench — their circular arguments tighten into sanctimonious death spirals, as they jockey for grievance status. Sometimes I conclude that many people just want to fight for its own sake; it offers them something; the other is not important.

It was ever thus online, however, as it was ever thus in every smelly college coffee house ever. There are toxic, pointless arguments all over the internet since internet began. Social justice is just one flavor of contentiousness. But I will say that the “PC” critiques, even at their most infuriating to me, almost always make me think and yes check my privilege. I’d never heard of cisgender until it had been hurled at me as an invalidating insult on Twitter. I bet it’s true for Chait too. But I am glad I know it now; I am glad to give these issues thought. It enlarges me to be called out, even when I conclude the caller is a troll, and especially when it’s by a person I respect.

Jonathan Chait offers very little evidence against this form of contentiousness, other than the anxiety and hurt feelings of some colleagues. To suggest that somehow this discourse is hurting its own side has a name: concern trolling. But I don’t want to invalidate his argument. Rather, I want to make a counter argument of my own. If Chait and heroes of mine like Andrew Sullivan [!?] want to make common cause against SJWs with gamergate that’s fine.

But I’ve avoided discussing gamergate out of fear of being drawn into a speech war that has had real world consequences on both sides. Because there are those who truly monitor and punish speech with doxing threats and harassment — from every philosophical spectrum. I’ve never had an exchange with the so called SJWs that I couldn’t shrug and move on from — sometimes smarter for it. I’ve learned tons from contentious folks of other stripes of Internet warriors as well: gamergate, MRAs, far right wing.

But when expression of opinion is met with real world attacks, the occasional harangue of the politically correct feels small to me.

—John Hodgman
My minor edit of his 22 twitter response
Compiled by German Lopez at Vox

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