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2.12.04

The World Is Stupid

I don't know if it's just that I'm especially irritable today, but I seem to be running into a disproportionate number of things that make me feel angry (rather than just recognizing intellectually that they're outrageous). The post below is one example, although I tried to intellectualize it. Here's a few more:

  • Via Kevin Drum, it seems that in Washington DC, "A majority of Metro directors, who set policy for the region's subway and bus system, say they have never ridden a Metrobus or can't recall the last time they did." What's being violated here is the basic utilitarian moral/empirical claim that underlies democracy and socialism: the people most affected by something have the greatest moral right (since their interests are at stake), as well as the greatest ability (since they have practical and ongoing familiarity with it), to make decisions about it. I happen to think that in many cases the converse empirical claim -- "the experts know best" -- is valid, particularly in instances like medicine where the choice of goals is unambiguous and there is a body of highly specialized knowledge about the means. But our society too often supposes that the empirical validity of expertism brings with it a moral validity, or assumes that the consent that could be given by affected people to the experts has been given. In the Metro case, though, the directors aren't even countering with a claim of expertism. They're defending their own privileged positions by claiming that social position (i.e. whether you ride the Metro) has no bearing on one's decisionmaking ability or authority.


  • Via Morat, it looks like Christianity really is under siege in this country. Jesus' message of inclusion is apparently unwelcome on CBS or NBC because it might conflict with the policy proposals of Head Pharisee George W. Bush.

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