Carnival of the Vanities XCVIII

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This week's Carnival of the Vanities is at seldom sober. My national sales tax post is there. Four posts struck me as thoughtful, provocative, interesting, and fuel for pet points of my own.

There's a great discussion of the anti-woman tendency of some forms of feminism to ignore the distinctiveness of women by making women just like men, all in the context of Catwoman, at Redeem the Time. Surpisingly, the discussiony turns to abortion. Hmm.

There was a big hubbub a while back about why conservatives tend not to be highly present in academia. The condescending response I saw most often was that stupid people tend to be conservative. Brian Leiter, whose blog I will never link to, said this, but so did some otherwise more reasonable people, including someone at Crooked Timber. I'm not going to bother to find any links to this stuff, because I think it's utter tripe. Stupid people tend to accept the predominant mindset around them. In the rural South, it's knee-jerk conservatism, and in the cities of the Northeast, it's knee-jerk liberalism. The more careful vendors of this line were careful not to say that conservatives tend to be stupid. This carefulness has the downside of losing the explanatory value the thesis was supposed to hold, but it's at least less indefensible. Well, the reverse is actually being promoted at Dissecting Lefitsm. Leftists actually tend to be less intelligent, and he's got a study that supposedly shows this. The actual thesis isn't as strong, but it's a provocative study nonetheless.

dustbury recounts the findings of a study on happiness and number of sex partners. Guess what? Monogamy maximizes happiness. That doesn't surprise me at all, but I know a lot of people who would be shocked. A secondary result is interestingly ironic. The effect of happiness from sex is stronger with more education, but frequency of sex tends to decrease with greater education. That's not very nice! I wonder if this confirms Mill's contention that the pleasures of a human, even one with a low level of pleasure, are greater than that of a pig due to being better in kind. The extension here might be that lower pleasures are greater for someone who appreciates them at higher levels.

QandO has a defense of the national sales tax. One major point is that the government has no business favoring some groups or people over others, which the income tax allows by giving tax credits, deductions, and gifts to certain people or groups and not others. I would have considered that the primary reason to retain an income tax, either as a flat tax or in its current, needlessly complex, form. A George Will conservative who sees the government's responsibility as including encouraging behavior that will benefit society (i.e. a compassionate conservative) will therefore turn QandO's modus ponens into a modus tollens and use this reason against the national sales tax.

Next week's COTV is at The Smallest Minority.


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