“Don’t Sit There Like a Sock Puppet”
I have a new piece up at Discourse on “Cost Disease Socialism.”
“The big phenomenon this idea seeks to explain is also the main root of our current discontent. While the cost of many ordinary goods has remained steady or gone down over a period of decades, prices have increased dramatically in three crucial areas….
“The most notorious example is college education, where federal grants and particularly student loans just provided extra money to be sucked up by bloated college bureaucracies, which have returned the favor by continuing to raise tuition costs at rates much higher than inflation. Others have called this the ‘revenue theory of costs’—the idea that colleges and universities exploit all sources of revenue made available to them, and bump up spending to match whatever funds they can raise.’…
“The idea of cost disease socialism adds a further element to this. The Paradox of Subsidies helps explain the cost disease—the upward spiraling prices. The socialism aspect is the ‘socialization’ of those higher prices through increased government spending that hides the cost from consumers.”
I end up focusing on the political agenda this idea implies: “a full-scale attack on the regulatory drivers of the costs of living.”
“Many of us who would disagree with each other on the proper role of government or the size and value of the welfare state can nevertheless agree that the government should never do anything that makes the ordinary expenses of life more burdensome for the vast majority of the public. Yet that’s precisely what we’ve been doing. Stopping it is an agenda that could be broadly popular if supporters could find a distinct voice and convince a broad coalition that their other disagreements are less important.”
Also, check out a rousing speech just given at Princeton University by Abigail Shrier, the writer who has been turned into an Unperson for questioning “gender ideology.”
The speech is notable because she doesn’t just lament the conformity of wokeness. She places responsibility for it on a failure of courage by people, particularly young people, in our elite institutions.
“I cannot claim to know if we are truly free in the metaphysical sense. But if the universe is anything less than thoroughly determined down to the last sub-atomic particle, then we must also agree that freedom admits of degrees. And if that is true, then we are far less free today in this decade—that you, as undergrads, have lost a significant measure of freedom that your parents once had. Take it back. Take it back. It’s yours to demand. Take back the right to speak your mind—thoughtfully, courteously, with a goal in mind beyond giving offense. The list of unmentionable truths expands so rapidly, without reason other than the attempt suffocate a free people so that they forget the exhilaration of a lungful of air….
“Psychiatrists and pediatricians tell me they are afraid to resist an adolescent’s demand that she be given puberty blockers because they’re afraid—if they point out the risks or the hastiness of the decision—they will lose their licenses. Parents tell me they are afraid to push back on the activist teachers and social workers at their kids’ school for fear of being called some flavor of phobe. Whatever freedom is, it isn’t that—and all of the wonderful education you have earned here will have been wasted if you find yourself one day observing some malfeasance occurring or lie predominating in your own field and the best you can do is sit on the phone with me anonymously lamenting the state of things. You will soon be graduates of Princeton. Show some self-respect and reclaim your freedom.
“You will, each of you, have the chance to matter. You will find yourselves at hospitals or in banks or in courtrooms and at newspapers where you will see things happen that you know to be wrong—where you find that the standard line is actually a lie. You may have found yourself there already. If you’re fortunate enough, you may even find yourself one day with children of your own, knowing you are their best defense in this world. And you’ll feel the nub of your will, pressing you to do something—say something. And when that happens, don’t sit there like a sock puppet.”
If wokism is defeated—and I already see the signs of its collapse—this will be why. It will be because being free to think and speak is so precious, so exhilarating that people will not give it up forever. And because the “woke,” like any bully, will lose their power if only a few people stand up to them and say “no.”
That’s going to be an interesting story to track in the next year. Make sure you’re around for it by taking advantage of my Holiday Sale, particularly in advance of next year’s switch to Substack, and support The Tracinski Letter with your donations.