Episode 43

Robert Tracinski on Workism

Published on: 2nd March, 2022

Robert Tracinski visits us again to expand on three of his recent articles, published in Discourse Magazine. We have a stimulating, thought-provking discussion. Why don’t you listen in?

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Episode 43 (56 minutes) was recorded at 8 PM CET, on February 4, 2022, with Ringr app.. Editing and post-production was done with the podcast maker, Alitu. The transcript is generated by Veed.io.

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Transcript
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We're back in the Foxhole

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again today with Robert Tracinski.

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He's got a recent article on Discourse Magazine called

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In Defense of Workism the Word in Quotes.

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And I want to read what I call the subtitle.

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The goal of public policy should be to

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help people find meaningful work, not to help

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them drop out of the labor force.

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Rob, can you give us a broad

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perspective on why you wrote that article? Okay. Yeah.

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So the subtitle actually was written by the people of

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Discourse, and I think it's a little more boring.

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It gives that it's a public policy angle

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on it, which is part of the article.

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But I really want to go to the

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deeper moral and psychological issues behind it.

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There's been this in the last couple of years.

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This term workism has popped up

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and it's popped up as a pejorative.

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I view it as sort of an updated version

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of workaholic, but it's the idea of how terrible

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it is that people are being encouraged to find

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personal identity and meaning in their work lives.

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And so the argument against workism, is that

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it's unrealistic that most people's work is just going

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to be drudgery and they're not really going to

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be able to find meaning of fulfillment in it.

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And it's really just a way to convince

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people to slave away, to enrich the man,

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to serve the corporate interests and the capitalists.

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And the fascinating thing about this to me is it comes

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from both the left and from the right, because from the

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left, they have the old long standing anti capitalism.

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I was going to say that's

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primarily Marxist ideology kind of a. Yeah.

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Mark had this weird thing where in the ideal society,

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the famous quote is the ideal society, you'll be able

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to be a literary critic before lunch and a herdsman

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in the afternoon, and you sort of meander your way

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through a bunch of different jobs.

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Apparently specialization at the division of labor

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was not something he was into.

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And that you had this sort of casual approach

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because your work wouldn't be tied to making money,

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your livelihood would be tied to your work.

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You'd be able to cash.

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You just do whatever you want.

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In modern parlance, in modern terminology, this

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has turned into this movement that basically

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says having the work is terrible.

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It's all just drudgery.

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And the real ideal is that you

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should be able to live without working.

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So I point out that there is a

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push now for the universal basic income.

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It's called a guaranteed minimum income.

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It has different names over time because they have

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to change the name because the old one falls

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into distribute and they just revive the same idea.

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But given a new name, it sounds fresh

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and futuristic, but this is the idea.

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We all get paid a certain amount of money every

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month, no matter what, regardless of whether we work.

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And we can all support ourselves on that.

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And so in Switzerland, they were pushing this campaign.

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This Ginormous poster just had a

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record for the world's largest poster.

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And the poster said, what would you do

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if your income were taken care of?

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And so it's very openly gotten to be with the UBI.

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That the case used to have the sort of idea

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that, well, it will liberate people to find better work,

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and they still work, but they do better work.

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And now it's become very openly no, the goal here

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is that nobody would have to work at all, and

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you'd be able to focus on things other than work.

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Now, obviously, this doesn't work.

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You project this for a whole society. Who is it?

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Who is taking care of your income if nobody's working?

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They don't think that far ahead of me. Exactly.

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But the money is there. It's just there, right?

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That's right. It grows on trees.

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Well, I think what it really comes out

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to, man,Ayn Rand picked this decades ago.

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It comes down to you'll do something. Mr.

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Rearden, as a seen in Atlas Shrugged,

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what do you get counting on?

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How do you think this is all going to work out?

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And so he says, oh, well, you'll do something.

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And he realizes that's it there will always be a guy

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like Hank Rearden around who will do something and make all

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the money and produce all the goods so that everybody else

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can then spend their time on leisure activities.

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But the fascinating thing to me is this

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is also now coming this attack on workers.

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And I've seen it also coming from the right.

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And the reason is that they see work

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as competition to the religious values as the

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center and meaning of your life.

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That's part of what there's been

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this long sort of alliance between

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uncomfortable alliance during the Reagan years.

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The Reagan years is the high point

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of this uncomfortable alliance between the religious

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right and the free marketers.

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And then we're also just fusionist movement where

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we all work together because we're all against

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the Soviet Union, we're all against communism.

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We can work together.

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But that has been coming apart.

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And part of the way that's coming apart

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is that the religious right thinks family and

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faith should be the center of your life.

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They should be what gives meaning

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and purpose to your life.

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And markets are secondary at best.

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And so they've developed a more

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sort of anticapitalist attitude, very much

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like borrowing elements of the left.

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And their idea is that they don't want anything

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to compete with faith as the source of meaning

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and purpose and value of people's lives.

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Yeah.

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So substitute worship of the state

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for worship of the Church. Exactly.

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The self shouldn't be subordinated to the state.

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The south should be subordinated to the

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Church, to the family, to tradition.

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Didn't someone say a free man on his

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knees doing his duty is a contradiction?

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I don't remember where that quote is

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from I think it was Ms.

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Rand, but I don't remember, honestly. Yeah.

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It doesn't ring a Bell for me.

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I think I've heard it somewhere, but it

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doesn't ring a Bell for Ayn Rand.

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But anyway, I'm sure somebody in our audience

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will look it up and let us know.

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So I figured if there's anybody who's going to

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make the case for work as having as actually

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having meaning and value, as being a source of

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personal identity and meaning in your life, it's got

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to be the Objectivists, right? Yeah.

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And recently, for various reasons,

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I've been rereading The Fountainhead.

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And of course, Howard Roark is making a lot of

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appearances in my articles when I write about this stuff,

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because it struck me that The Fountainhead is the place

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where Ayn Rand deals with this issue of the value

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and meaning of work, the centrality of work.

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But she deals with it not on a political

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or economic level, because more of that comes in

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Atlas Shrugged.

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But in The Fountainhead, she's dealing with

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it on the moral and psychological level.

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And The Fountainhead is all about Howard Roark

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quest to do my work my way. Right.

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And her original title for the

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book was Second Hand Lives.

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And it's about these people, like Peter Keating, who the

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source of meaning of valuing their lives is other people,

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the approval of other people getting the good opinion of

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other people, doing what everybody else wants them to do,

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being what everybody else wants them to be.

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And in contrast to that, if that's not the

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source of meaning, if there's a source of meaning

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that's within yourself, how do you find that?

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And Howard Roark finds that is my work, my way.

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The actual process of coming up, of creating something, of

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coming up with a new idea of building something becomes

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is the central activity by which the self is expressed

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by which your own vision of life is made real.

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And so that's what really

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she's focusing on The Fountainhead.

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So I'm relying a lot on The Fountainhead and Howard

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Roark because he provides such a great example of that.

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Yeah, I agreed.

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I was thinking earlier today, your article again, that this

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phrase again, I'm pretty certain this is for Ms.

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Rand thinking men can't be ruled. Yes.

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And that's why they want everyone. Yeah.

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Don't worry about it. Enjoy yourself.

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We'll pay you something, we'll give you

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something, we'll give you a pittance. Yeah.

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I think that the welfare state and the universal

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basic income, the big argument I've made about that

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is really a plan for creating a permanent underclass,

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because by taking people out of the world of

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work, by giving them no independent sources supporting themselves,

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no independent goals, no independent values that they're working

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towards, it creates a group of people who are

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basically living a dependent life with nothing to support

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them except somebody else providing for them, and usually

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the state's providing for them.

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In this case.

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And it creates basically a permanent group of people

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who are used to being dependent, to having no

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independent goals of their own, and then to just

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being susceptible then to being told what to do

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or to relying on whoever it is that's taking

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care of them, to take care of them.

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So, yeah, it is definitely it creates

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a permanent underclass of purposeless, people who

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are easily enough pushed around and a

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permanent bureaucracy to take care of them. Yeah.

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Again, I think since that's been in place since

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1960s, in the last decade or so, again, we're

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seeing with the walk away movement and things like

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that, we're seeing that starting to crack, I hope.

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What do you think?

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One of the things that's happening I find fascinating is

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that the Hispanic vote is moving to the right, and

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this is a long predicted event that's finally happening.

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And the main reason it's finally happening is that

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the big wave of Hispanic immigration to the US

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from 30 years ago or so, we had this

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peak of people coming across the border from Mexico.

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That big wave has sort of subsided.

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And then what's happened is that what you mostly have

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now, you have a lot more second generation immigrants here,

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people who think their parents came over 30 years ago,

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and now I've got a second generation.

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And they're doing what immigrants have always done in

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America, which is they rise up the ladder.

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More of them complete high school.

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More of them go to College.

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They start businesses.

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They prosper and they get better off.

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And when they prosper and they get better

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off, they actually become more conservative economically in

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their outlook because they're running businesses.

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They understand that the effect that regulations and

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taxes have on their lives tax the richer.

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When you regulate companies, you're not

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just regulating somebody else regulating them. Right.

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The other thing is that they want the American dream.

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That's why they came here as immigrants.

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They came here to get the American dream.

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And as they start to get the American dream, they become

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more susceptible to, more open to a party that wants to

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pitch them on being in favor of the American dream.

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Now I think the Conservatives do it very badly and

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are doing it worse than they've ever done it.

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But they're winning over votes.

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Republicans are winning over votes because

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the Democrats are basically the party

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that's against the American dream.

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I have a new piece up on Discourse.

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Part one just went up today.

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Part two is going up later.

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And it's basically advice to the Democrats on I

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think they need to save the Republic by becoming

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a viable alternative party, giving us something that we

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might actually possibly consider voting for.

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And I think there's a little I'm getting

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hints and nibbles and things like that.

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There are some Democrats who

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are interested in doing this.

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I am trying to set up some interviews with a

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few Democratic politicians who are trying to form a

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center left or more reasonable version of the Democratic

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Party, where the agenda isn't all dictated by Alexandria

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OCASIOCORTEZ and the progressive left.

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And so this is basically my suggestions for if

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you want to put together a viable Democratic Party

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agenda that would not be dictated just but not

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to be a watered down version of whatever crazy

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fever dream the far left came up with this

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morning, because that's exactly what happens, right?

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Yes, Alexandra says something and it's completely insane and she

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has no idea how it's ever going to work.

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But that sets the agenda.

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And everybody else in the Democratic Party has to

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say, well, here's a moderate watered down version.

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So they have to come up

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with their own independent agenda.

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So I make a suggestion for that.

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And one of the counter key points of that is

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I said, people don't want handouts, they want prosperity.

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And I talked about this issue of Hispanic voters.

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They came here for the American dream.

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If you had Democrats who actually embraced the American dream

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and talked about the American dream, and we're in favor

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of entrepreneurialism and people getting ahead and then rising up

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in the world and not just touting, oh, here are

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the welfare benefits we gave out.

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They could actually start to win.

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They could win those voters back to do a lot

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better than they're doing right now, whereas they had the

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most unpopular opponent that they could possibly wish for in

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Donald Trump, and they narrowly won the election.

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And they're going rocketing down in the

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polls every day to pull themselves.

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I think there's a bit of panic out there.

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I think it's why you get these feelings.

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It's a bit of panic out there that they

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realize we had to pull ourselves out of this

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funk, that the woke agenda is not winning over

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the American people, that the American people only in

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the last election, the American people only hated us

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slightly less than the other guys I know.

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Could that be the case then, for

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new liberalism or Neo, the Latin word? Exactly.

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Classical liberalism that you wrote a peace on? Yeah.

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Before we started, you guys mentioned I've been doing a lot

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of pieces at Discourse, and they've actually put me on a

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kind of a regular column, a once a month column.

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Now, I do other pieces in addition

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to the column, but my monthly column

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for them is called The Neoclassical Liberal.

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So it's basically the idea of saying, let's

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try to take classical, classical Liberal ideas, the

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ideas of the free marketers, the Liberals in

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the 19th century, since Liberals in the Henry

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Hazlitt sense, let's take those ideas and then

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also reach across to the, quote unquote neoliberals.

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And the neoliberals are the sort of relatively market friendly,

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relatively sane center left people and try to find some

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way to influence them and make common cause with them

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and get them to adopt a better agenda.

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Because when you think about it, this is a

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50 year process here in which you had basically

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the far left hippie counterculture that came up and

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sort of took over the Democratic Party circa 1960,

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1968, 72 somewhere in there.

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And ever since then, they've been sort of struggling with

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the fact that, okay, we have a more sane and

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moderate group of Democrats and a more sane and moderate

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Democratic base, but we have these basically insane academic types

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taking these ideas, preposterous ideas from academia, and then demanding

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that the party has to fall in line, and that

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becomes the Democratic Party party line.

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And that's that conflict within the party.

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It happens to every political party that Republicans have

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had the same thing in various forms over the

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years with the religious rights, wanting everybody to fall

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in line with whatever their crazy new ideas.

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So the Democrats are really struggling with that.

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And I think what happened in the last ten

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years or so, especially in the last ten years,

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is that the far left sort of on campus

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woke faction of the Democratic Party became extremely dominant.

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And I think you're starting to see a

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little pushback and backlash against that to say,

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wait a minute, let's come up with agenda

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that's not entirely dictated by these people.

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So I'm not super optimistic they're going to be able

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to do that, just as I'm not super optimistic about

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what the Republicans are going to be able to do.

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But I'm glad that some people are trying.

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And part of my goal is to say, let's try to reclaim

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the idea of liberalism from the left and create that idea.

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There's another alternative.

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And the most promising thing I see right now

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is that party identification of the two major parties

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is lower than it's been in a long time.

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People want an alternative.

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They want to be independent, and

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outside of they're not signing on.

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I saw a great poll the other day that something

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like only 30% of voters want either Donald Trump or

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Joe Biden to run for President in 2004.

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So it's like, well, that makes sense.

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That's a real sign of sanity there that

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two thirds of the people realize, two thirds

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of the public is sitting around thinking, can't

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we do better than these two guys?

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I know what you mean. Believe me.

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I'm going to jump back.

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In your case for neo classical liberalism

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article, can you outline a bit what

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you meant by cost disease socialism? Oh, yeah.

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So cost disease socialism isn't my coinage.

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It's something that came from the neoliberal side of

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things, but it refers to student loans are a

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great example where the government goes in.

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And it's really a version of why for years have

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been writing about what I call the paradox of subsidies.

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This is the idea that government goes

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in to subsidize something because it thinks

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people really need the education.

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People really need to be able to go to College.

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They need higher education.

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It would be good for them.

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We'll come in and subsidize it, and then in the

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process of subsidizing it, they end up pouring so much

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money into it that they make it more expensive.

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And this is the classic case of student loans, where

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like two thirds of all student loan and federal money

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grant money that goes into higher education, about two thirds

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of it gets swallowed up by the education bureaucracy, by

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the administration of the school, and ends up basically just

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driving up the actual cost of tuition and making it

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harder for people to afford College.

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So they need more subsidies, et

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cetera, in this vicious cycle.

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And that's sort of what cost disease socialism is

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the center left attempt to grapple with this.

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The idea that the government comes in to provide you

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with something and ends up just making that thing more

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expensive and meaning you need more subsidies to get it.

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And they're doing this with they're talking

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about doing this with Daycare federal daycare

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subsidy that would make Daycare more expensive

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and less affordable for the average person. Right there.

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The goal is to drive out private mom

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and pop daycare, to have government control. Yeah.

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And that's part of it is that we're going to

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try to cover funding for daycare, but then we're going

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to put all these new rules about who you have

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to hire and how you can do it.

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And so the mom and pop daycare place that

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somebody might have been sending their kids to before

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suddenly that you can't run that anymore.

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And so you have fewer

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providers and more government subsidies.

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And what do you think is going

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to happen to the price of this?

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It's going to keep going up.

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And that's what they've done with health care on there.

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Obamacare is arguably I think it's a great

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case of that where there's huge government subsidies.

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But what that means is now nobody can afford to

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do what I used to do 20 years ago as

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a freelancer before all this came in, I used to

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buy my own health insurance and I got better insurance

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for less money that is available today. And okay, great.

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There are government subsidies now, but you've made

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it so that it would be utterly impossible

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for anyone to afford it on their own.

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Yeah, but you've got this choice of health

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care plans, all administered by the government.

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So it's not really a marketplace of health care.

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Like I said, plans are generally worse than what

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I used to have, higher deductibles and all.

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I used to buy a higher deductible health

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insurance because I was 20 years younger, right?

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Yeah.

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I was a lot less likely to use

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my health insurance on a regular basis.

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And it was basically there.

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If I got hit by a car and I got hit by

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a bus and needed $30,000 in medical expenses, I wanted to be

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covered, but I didn't want to be covered for every little thing.

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And so it was really easy to get

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a high deductible insurance that was relatively cheap.

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Well, the Obamacare insurance is really expensive,

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but it's also a high deductible insurance.

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So I have a bigger deductible that I used to have.

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It covers less of my regular day to

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day expenses, and I'm paying more for it.

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And I'm thinking how only the government could

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come in and help you by creating set

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out to help you and create that situation.

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This goes back to this issue of Work Ism Too,

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which is that one of the things I came up

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with in this recent article that really struck me.

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I've written before a little bit about

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this fantasy of this guy who wrote

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a whole book called Star Trek Economics.

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I think he called The Truck

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and Amics or something like that.

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But it's this idea of taking Star

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Trek as his inspiration and he's taking

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the Utopian Roddenberry version of it.

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Like in the future, there'll be no money and everyone

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will be well off, but nobody has to work.

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The whole economic system we run as a

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sort of weird utopian socialism, which is glancingly

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referred to here and there in the franchise.

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Well, this person takes it seriously and says, oh,

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yeah, we can do this because we're going to

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have such great high technology that we'll have the

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replicators and we can make whatever we want.

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So therefore, we're a post scarcity society and

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everyone can be provided for without the need

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for work or trade or commerce.

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And the thing that struck me about it in this

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one, though, is that in writing this article about work

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ism, is I realized that if we were ever to

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get to the Star Trek future that's projected in science

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fiction, imagine that literally centuries of dedicated work that's going

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to be required to get us anywhere close to having

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Warp drive and replicators and all this amazing technology that

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they show in the TV shows and in the movies.

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And so there's this weird sort of techno utopianism

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that imagine we're going to have socialism with all

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this amazing high tech, but they don't even think

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about what kind of work ethic is required to

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get us anywhere close to that.

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Yeah, the merciless dedication of completing a task that's

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the other thing I point out is one of

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the things I like about the Star Trek series,

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or at least the Next Generation version of it

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especially, is that everybody in there is actually there's

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supposedly no money, but everyone in there is actually

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really dedicated to their work.

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And that's what makes it interesting.

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And by some of my favorite episodes are

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the ones where it's like Geordi La Forge

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spends an hour solving an engineering problem. Right.

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And they make it exciting

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and interesting in the process.

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That's basically the idea that you have to

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have that attitude of work and solving problems

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and new technological ideas and building the future

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is exciting and meaningful and interesting.

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It's a source of identity

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and meaning in people's lives.

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And why wouldn't it be?

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Because you're talking about building the future.

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You're talking about creating new things and solving

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problems and basically taking on all the problems

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of human life and solving them.

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Of course, that's a source of meaning

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and identity and value in people's lives.

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How could it not be? Exactly.

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Let me Echo then RoyK, obviously one

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of my favorite heroes my whole life.

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But the way that Ms.

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Rand describes just the philosophical aspect of work

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should be the central purpose of your life.

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Can you expand on that a bit for the audience? Okay.

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We talked about it all the show so far,

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but let's keep going there, if you don't mind. Yeah.

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Now, of course, one of the things

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people object is what about family?

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What about other aspects of your life?

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And I'm living proof you can do both.

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It's not an either or choice.

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I've got kids that I love spending time with my kids.

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It doesn't mean I don't work.

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And also when you think about, you know, I love my

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kids and I spend a lot of time with my kids.

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They're very important to me.

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But I want them to grow up

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to be independent, purposeful people who are

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not living the lives of Pampered Aristocrats.

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I'm not working so they can live

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the lives of Pampered Aristocrats who will

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spend their time on meaningless trivia.

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I want them to also find work

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that they will find meaningful and enjoyable.

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And when you think about it, work

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is the substance of human life.

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If you just sort of back up at the highest

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level and look at what is human life all about?

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Human life requires the creation.

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Everything we eat, everything we have, the clothes we

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wear, the houses we live in, all the tools

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we use to travel or to learn.

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All of those things have to be created.

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They have to be produced.

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And all of human history is a process of

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people working hard to discover and create and build

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and figure out how to produce all of these

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things and produce them constantly making progress, producing more

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of them, producing better things, making life easier, making

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it, increasing the range of our action, increasing where

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human beings can live from the tundra, crossing continents

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and going over mountains and surviving in the tundra

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that's all of human history has been.

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That process that is the essence of human

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life is you're out there in nature trying

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to figure out how you can produce and

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create the things that are necessary for life.

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And this is a vast, open ended process, too, because

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you start with the caveman and you get all the

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way up to modern society with medical care and skyscrapers.

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And I was going to say ocean liners that's

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even out of date supersonic airplanes and all that

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we have or about to have today.

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And then, of course, you can project beyond that.

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We talked about the Star Trek future

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and then now we have this.

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We can go and we can have replicators and work

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drive and we can explore strange new worlds and seek

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out new life and new civilizations, et cetera.

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So it's this process that is the essence

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of human life from the very beginning of

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human life and is so open ended.

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It's been the process of human life

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over essentially 100,000 years, and we can

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project it going into the future.

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So there's so much to be done into, to be created,

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and that is the central activity of human life now.

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It doesn't mean there are other things that we do.

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I'm a great fan of two biggest

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hobbies are my kids and music.

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I'm an amateur pianist.

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I like to play classical music, so it's

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hugely valuable and hugely important to me.

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The central thing is that the activity of life

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is to build and create and come up with

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new ideas and make new things, and everything else

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is given value and made possible by the fact

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that you were doing that one central thing. Great. Yes.

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And also there's a philosophical issue here too, because

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we talk about the needs of human life.

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There's the needs of food, clothing and shelter.

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There are the immediate physical needs, sure.

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But because we reach those, we provide for

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those needs by means of using this incredibly

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complex consciousness that we have, this conceptual consciousness,

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it's incredibly complex and advanced.

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The needs of that consciousness also create a whole other

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set of needs, a whole other set of psychological needs

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that are really basically, these are the things that you

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need because you've got this really complex brain.

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And this really complex brain has requirements of

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its own that you have to feed, things

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you need to do to feed it.

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And that's why we need companionship and romantic

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love, and that's why we need it's part

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of the reason we need family life.

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I mean, family life comes from the fact that we're

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not like animals where you care for the kids for

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six months and then off they go, a child reaching

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the humans have this because of our big brains, we

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have this immense period of growth and development that's required

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18 years plus with higher education.

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So because of our complex brains, it gives us

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a whole set of new complex needs, requirements of

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our consciousness, like art and family and love.

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But these are all still tied to the fact that

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we have this complex brain so we can go out

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and solve problems and build things and do things.

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And it's tied back to the fact that the

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fundamental reason why we have this complex brain that

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creates these complex psychological needs is because of the

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need for productive work, the need for creating things.

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Agreed.

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Let me give a couple of examples of that.

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I mean, today's culture you have

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Elon Musk and Sir Richard Branson.

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They're bypassing NASA, if you will. Okay.

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We'll get space shuttle up for 50,000,000,001 flight.

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Elon Musk has for 50 million.

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He's got three dozen Rockets going almost all the time.

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Yeah.

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I'm currently waiting very impatiently for Starlink.

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They have the chip shortage at them.

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I'm on their waiting list for the

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satellite Internet from Starlink, which is good.

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I'm waiting very impatiently for it because all

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the other options are not so great.

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Yes, I can't wait to see that

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here in Connecticut or wherever I live.

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Hopefully it will be nationwide soon

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enough to probably be worldwide, though.

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Yeah, it's there.

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It's just they can't produce the dishes fast enough.

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But that's a great example of the practical result of being

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able to launch dozens of satellites all the time is you

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could put up a bunch of these small Internet Internet satellites

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that cover the whole globe and deliver high speed broadband to

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everyone without having to have to have a land connection, which

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Unfortunately, I'm too far out in the 6th to be able

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to get at my house.

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So I'm really hoping that this comes soon.

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But this is the sort of thing that this

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tremendous productive it's the open edgedness of this, that

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there's always something new that you can create that

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goes beyond what we have before.

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And with this option in the future, you could work

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wherever you want in a way, the gig economy.

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Could you comment on that recent attack

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on the freelancers and the gig economy?

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But you could sit wherever you want and work for

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whoever you want, but now you should be labeled in

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the Union and in a certain class of work.

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How has that played out?

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All right, I know all about the gig

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economy because I've been a freelancer in one

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form or another for a very long time.

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And I just was saying the other day

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to someone that I think I overreacted it.

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I said, I've been working on the

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Internet since before there was an Internet.

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I am literally as old as the Internet.

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The Internet started in okay.

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But what I can say is I was working on

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the Internet since before there was a World Wide Web.

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So the World Wide Web, the

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Hypertext links and all of that.

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Before that, there was AOL America Online or

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there was email and things like that.

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They were used in that chat

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groups and things like that.

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But the World Wide Web, I put on my

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best Jimmy Stewart voice and say, well, why, when

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I was a kid, the Internet didn't have pictures.

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All we had was text.

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So the modern Internet of the HTML and the

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visual interfaces and all that, that was 1995.

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I've been working on the Internet since before that.

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So I know all about the gig economy.

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And it is literally true.

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I live outside of in the middle of nowhere in

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central Virginia, and I'm able to do that because 30

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years ago in my line of work, I would have

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had to be in New York or DC.

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You have just no choice.

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You have to live in one of those two

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cities because that's where the media companies are, and

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that's where you go into the office.

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And I don't go into the office.

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I haven't gone into the office in 20 years.

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So the Internet has actually made it possible

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for people to work freelance, to work part

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time or to work for a company remotely.

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A tremendous amount of flexibility and freedom that

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people have, which I very much appreciate.

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And now there's an attack on Freelancing.

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Now, this started with in California, they

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did a bill called Ad Five. Right? Bill five.

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And they passed this.

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And it was supposed to target Uber.

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And the idea of, oh, well, Uber is exploiting

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its workers, and to protect those workers, we're going

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to put them out of a job.

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It's a typical sort of left wing thinking. Right.

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And so they pass this law basically saying if anybody works

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for you for in a certain capacity or for too many

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hours, etc, you have to hire them as an employee.

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They can't be a freelancer.

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And the amazing thing is they wrote this thing to

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target Uber, and they seem to have had no clue

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what the effect they have on anybody else.

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And suddenly there were and I knew some of

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these people, there were freelance writers in California who

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all their work dried up because there was this

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limit that you could do like 35 pieces of

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articles a year for somebody.

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And if you did more than 35 articles a year, then

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you had to be an employee, they had to pay you

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more, and they had these benefits and all those other things.

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And now 35 articles is actually a lot I

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don't know that I have anybody for whom I

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write more than 35 articles right now, but that's

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for my articles are big, longer articles had a

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whole bunch of people who are freelancers, who are

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doing small articles like summaries of you work for

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a court reporter publication, and you did little summaries

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of court cases, little one or 200 word summaries.

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And there were people doing hundreds of those a

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year, and suddenly they were out of work.

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Out of work because it didn't comply with AP Five.

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And you had waiters think of

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a typical Hollywood type of situation. Right.

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The aspiring actor.

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Well, what does an aspiring actor work?

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What does that mean?

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It means you wait and you like, and if you're

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an aspiring actor, you want the flexibility of being like

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working for a caterer where you can say, well, I'll

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work this job, but I can't do that job because

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I have to interview for a part.

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I have to audition for a part.

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So musicians and actors like the flexibility of being

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able to work in a job like working for

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a caterer, doing it freelance because it gave them

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the flexibility in their schedule that they needed.

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And then suddenly they found they couldn't do it because

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if you were doing too many of these freelance work

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for these people, you would get shut out.

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And really what this was all

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about was protecting the unions.

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It was hurting people.

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And so they did this at 85 in California.

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It was a disaster.

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They had to come back later and try to fix

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it and put they didn't get rid of the idea.

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They didn't decide this is a bad law.

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We should just get rid of it.

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They did what they usually do, which is, oh,

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well, we'll create some exceptions for the people who

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are yelling at us the most and for the

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people who are freelance writers, they're sympathetic enough for

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the College educated, Liberal, College educated, left wing progressive.

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The freelance writers are

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sympathetic enough constituency.

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We'll create a car vault for them and loosen the

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regulations on them, but we'll keep them for everybody else.

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Well, now what they've done is they got something

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called the Pro Act, and it's something like protecting

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the right to organize URL that is now being

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pushed through on the federal level that is going

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to do all the things that AB Five did.

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It's going to do it on the federal level.

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And it's like they just do not learn at

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all from the experience they had with 85 or

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rather, maybe it's not that they didn't learn.

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It's that this is what they wanted.

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They wanted people to be in more control, to be

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working in a more controlled way, a more regulated way,

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a way that would be under the under the hand

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of the government, rather than being this sort of independent

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gig worker who's deciding their own hours and deciding their

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own line of work and doesn't have to go through

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anybody else to set it up.

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And I think that's really what it is.

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It's a war on the independence of

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work, thinking people can't be ruled.

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Let's take a nosedive here.

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I've noticed this, too, and it kind of scares me.

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Tucker Carlson, endorsing the

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agenda of Elizabeth Warren.

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You would think that those two

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would be a bitter enemies.

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Well, what's been happening is it's

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part of a wider thing.

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And Tucker Carlson is the

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most prominent is very prominent.

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It's a top rated show. Oh, yes.

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I don't want to do a great term.

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They've come up with now called nut picking.

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You can always find a crazy person

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out there who's saying something really insane.

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And there's this tendency of reporters to say,

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oh, there's some right wing, some Republican legislator

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in Ohio, some backbench guy in the Ohio

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state legislator says something really crazy, and that

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represents the views of all Republicans and could

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do it on the other side, too.

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I just saw something similar to that from

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the right about or left some guy.

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Exactly to the backwater Democrat, or can you

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believe this College Professor at podon University said

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this outrageous thing, and therefore that represents everything

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that the Democrats stand for. Right.

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I don't want to do nut picking, but with

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Tucker Carlson halfway to show on Fox, hugely influential,

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and he is at the leading edge of influence

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of this sort of nationalist conservative outlook.

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And very much he's trying to take the

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right and turn the right against free markets.

Speaker:

And that's why he sort of actually had this thing

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a couple of years ago where he took a speech

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by Elizabeth Warren and said, this sounds great.

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This sounds like Trump at his best, that we're

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not delivering everybody over to this corporate agenda.

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Now, the anti corporate attitude on the right is coming

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from the fact that a couple of big corporations like

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Google and Twitter and some of the Facebook, the big

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media companies are hostile or semi hostile.

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They're supporting woke political ideas.

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So therefore, the attitude here is if somebody's

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not on board with us politically, and therefore

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we should be attacking them and taking away

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their rights and taking away their freedom.

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So if big corporations aren't and this has been

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a problem, this is not a new problem.

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It's been a problem.

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I think Iran Ran said to install Patterson ones like

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in the 30s or 40s, we're going to have to

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save capitalism from the capitalist because you had these big

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corporations that were sort of cow towing and trying to

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Curry favor by signing up for a big government agenda.

Speaker:

It's just nothing due.

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It's not like this just happened. Right.

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But the nationalist mindset is basically, if you aren't supporting

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me politically, if you aren't supporting our side to politically

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keep us in power, then therefore we will use the

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power of the state to punish you.

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And so they've taken that in this sort of

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anti capitalist direction of we need to start punishing

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corporations because they're not paying wages high enough.

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You could support a family.

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Actually their complaints, they're not paying wages high enough

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that you can support a family on one income

Speaker:

because this is the traditionalist thing, right? Yes.

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True.

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Women belong at home, and therefore we should force companies to

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pay men more so the women can stay at home.

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I call the TV Land economics. Right.

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They've watched too many 50s sitcoms or whatever.

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Yeah, they used to TV Land used to be a cable TV

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show that had all these sitcoms from the 50s and Leave It

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to Beaver and Father Knows Best and that sort of thing.

Speaker:

And that Leave It to Beaver thing of the father

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who works in some sort of vague kind of job,

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who's the breadwinner who goes to work and the mom

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who stays home and vacuums and pearls. Pearls.

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That's right.

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Juke Cleaver was very good.

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She was very pretty.

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This was vacuuming of pearls.

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It's kind of this joke like,

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oh, who would ever do that?

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But you have to also realize that the vacuum

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cleaner was like your new technology at the time.

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I did some research for an article on that.

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I looked up adoption of these various different

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household appliances and Leave It to Beaver was

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made just at the point where widespread adoption

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is a vacuum cleaner was becoming like an

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over 50% of households kind of thing.

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And when you think about it,

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you could vacuum and Pearl.

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That was the great thing about a

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vacuum cleaner is all this backbreaking work

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of dusting and cleaning and sleeping.

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It was a lot easier when you had a vacuum cleaner.

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You didn't have to break a sweat so you

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could do it in a house dress and pearls.

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So vacuum incidental, it's kind of a

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joke, but it's not incidental to this.

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It was a result of

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this incredible labor saving devices.

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Now, those labor saving devices would also, shortly thereafter, make

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it a lot easier for women to go back into

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the workforce and to take jobs and have the double

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income families, especially as the kids get older.

Speaker:

But it's this weird thing where the Conservatives, the traditionalists

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have this thing of wanting to wind back the clock

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to progress is all well and good up to this

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certain point, at which point everything should stop and we

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should permanently stay in that situation.

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But I think it really comes from

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the fact that this is this sort

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of Tucker Carlson nationalist conservative thing.

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What it's really being driven by is the fact

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that this is the thing I keep returning to.

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I think it's hugely important that

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people haven't quite figured it out.

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I haven't quite taken it on board is that

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over the last 30 years, basically religious belief has

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collapsed and America is rapidly becoming a secular nation.

Speaker:

Now, I don't think it's not majority secular yet,

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but I think the poll came out just recently

Speaker:

that the number of people who are either atheists

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or have no specific religious belief, that's now more

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of the population than evangelical Christians, not by a

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large margin yet, but still.

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Yeah, 30 years ago.

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I remember that when I was a kid and I

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first decided I'm an atheist, it made you a freak.

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You were totally an unprecedented phenomenon

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in the Midwest in 1984.

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It was not a widely held viewpoint,

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and so it's become much more common.

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We are now getting more to the point

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where it's like one third of the country

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is basically secular and non religious.

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A third of the country is vaguely

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religious, but not that into it.

Speaker:

And there's only a third left

Speaker:

who really have strong religious belief.

Speaker:

And that's a huge change from just a few decades ago.

Speaker:

And I think that's what's happening is that the

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religious right types are freaking out because of that.

Speaker:

They realize they're losing the culture, they're losing the

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dominant position they had in the culture, and they

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could 30 years ago in the Reagan year.

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Of course, they could say, oh, we're

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the moral majority, we're the silent majority

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who have these religious places.

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They're under attack by these elites and universities, but

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we have the majority of people behind us, and

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now they're realizing they can't really say that anymore.

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And I think they're in panic mode.

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And so what they become fascinated with is how

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can we use government and the power of government

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to arrest the slide of religious belief, to shore

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up religious belief by giving it government support?

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And that's what's pushing a lot of the nationalists is

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this idea that we tried having this alliance with you

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free marketers of libertarian types, and it didn't work.

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Religious belief collapsed.

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So therefore, we need to now have the government coming

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in and putting a thumb on the scales and supporting

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our traditional views and supporting our religious views.

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Right.

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They're playing the victim card as well then, too. Yeah.

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Well, also, I think too, they're indulging in a very

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destructive fantasy, because if the problem is that the majority

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is no longer shares your religious views, how do you

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think that giving power to government is going to be

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used to promote your religious views? Right.

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Because you can't get a majority of people behind

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you tearing down these limits on government and giving

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the government more power over the realm of ideas.

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You're really just creating more power that's going to

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end up in the hands of the other side. Yes.

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So it's really great that you're creating all

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these new powers that can be used by

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Bernie Sanders and whoever comes after him.

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And Bernie is a little too old right now.

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All this power that we used by President Caesio

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Cortez ten years from now, I think she comes

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eligible in 2004 to run for President.

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Just to keep that in mind that you said 2004.

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You mean 2024.

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I think she actually becomes eligible

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to run for President that year. Yeah.

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Just in case you ever wanted to not go to

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sleep, just keep that in half late one night.

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Something will prevent you from going to sleep.

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Just roll that thought around in your head. Yeah.

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Now I've lost some altruders.

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Yeah.

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Maybe we could go ahead and point out a

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great piece that Rob you have done here on

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how do you pronounce that Australian publication?

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Yes.

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Could you tell background how you did that when somebody

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was writing a piece on rent and then you okay.

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So the great thing about this, I

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just sort of broke into Quillette.

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I've been occasionally sending the pitches over the years,

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and I think I didn't get in contact with

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the right person and didn't hear back.

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And then I finally got somebody there who started

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publishing some pieces by me, and I did one

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late last year on a different topic.

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And then not long after that, they

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had a piece that came out.

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And I've seen worst pieces on Iron,

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but not a lot of worst pieces.

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It was kind of a sloppy sort of random thoughts

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about Iron Rand kind of thing that was highly inaccurate.

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And I thought I said, well, I've got this

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contact now, Colette, I'd like to pitch on something.

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I said, you know, I could do a

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rebuttal of this piece, but the piece is

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not really good enough to deserve revoke.

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The guy was really fascinated with the

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article was about supposedly Iron Rand.

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It was very light on the actual content of our

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ideas and very heavy on biographical details, most of which

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were taken from these sort of disreputable sources with axe

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grind in order to make her kind of look bad.

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I thought, well, that's not

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really why bother answering that?

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So I said, you know what, I've had a

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piece I've wanted to send for a while on

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basically Iran Rand's answer to our age of wokeness.

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What is her answer?

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What is the thing that she

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offers as an alternative to that?

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So I said, tell you what, I'm

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just going to pitched that to them. And they took it.

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And I think a week or so, a couple

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of weeks after that other piece was published, they

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had mine in which I basically talked about.

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The piece I did in Discourse is kind of a

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follow up to that one about the piece about work

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is it was a follow up to that one because

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I pointed out that the problem with our woke age

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is that people are finding meaning and value in their

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lives in the wrong places because they don't have someone

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showing them the meaning and value of productive work, of

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creating and building and coming up with new ideas.

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And specifically, I referred to a somewhat influential study

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that was done a few years back, about ten

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years ago, there was a couple of sociologists who

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sort of broke things down as they asked.

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They classified different societies based on this question

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of what is it that gives meaning and

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value in your life and what gives you

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social status in a certain kind of society?

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They say, well, hundreds of years ago the predominant

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thing was you had an honor society where it

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was your honor, your reputation, your social status and

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position that gave meaning and value to your life.

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And that's why you had a culture of dueling, right?

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Because if somebody insulted you, that was an attack

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on your honor, your honor had you defended at

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all costs, then you had a culture of dignity.

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And so think of like Frederick Douglas or

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Martin Luther King, where you could be attacked

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in prison, enslaved, you could be treated unjustly.

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But that didn't fundamentally affect your

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internal sense of your own value.

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And in fact, it might even increase your value

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in your status in the eyes of others because

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you maintain your own internal sense of dignity.

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And then that's been replaced by a culture of victimhood

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where it gives meaning and value to your life.

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And what gives you status in the eyes of others is your

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ability to claim to be marginalized or to be a victim.

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And that's what the sort of woke culture is.

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Everybody has to find some way.

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Someone is talking about how I saw something

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else recently about somebody talking about advising kids

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on their essays for your applications to universities.

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And to get into the elite universities,

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your essay has to be all about

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your victimhood, the hardships you suffered.

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And these are mostly upper middle class, welloff,

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kids who have had pretty easy lives and

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talk about the Hoops they go through to

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develop this narrative of being marginalized and being

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a victim and having all the hardships they've

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gone through because that's what being asked for.

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And so in response to that, I said what I'm

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Rand offers is the idea of a culture of achievement

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where your work and your achievement is what gives meaning

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and value to your life and status in a society.

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I think that's radical because it goes against

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it really is like an alternative to both

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sides in our current culture war. That's true.

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It is radical, right.

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You have the woke kids who are so

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in need of victimhood, they have to search

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for microaggressions, which are by definition insignificant.

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Right.

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If it's micro, micro means small.

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If it's a microaggression, really, it

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is by definition not important.

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But you have to inflate it out of

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importance because victimhood is what gives you value.

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But at the same time, I think you've gotten

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that same victim mentality on the right that, oh,

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we're victims of the elites in Washington, DC.

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You're victims of the cultural elite.

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We're being punished on Facebook.

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And Meanwhile, the top ten most shared stories

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on Facebook, they were from Ben Shapiro and

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guys like that, conservative sources, right? True.

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We're being persecuted by Google.

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We're being persecuted by this and persecuted by that and

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also creating this thing where meaning of value comes to

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your life, from owning the lips and from being a

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culture warrior who's constantly in online battles against the other

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side and how trivial and unimportant all of that is

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compared to the idea that you could be going out

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there building the future.

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You could be going out there trying to figure

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out how to create Warp drive or take something

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more realistic, how to create a flying car, or

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how to create autonomous self driving.

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We're still working on self driving cars.

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They're not quite here.

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I think that's when they just started in San

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Francisco, self driving cabs just recently, but they're still

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not really quite there for prime time Europe.

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They are already with trucks.

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Self driving trucks. Oh, really?

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Over long distances.

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Yeah, I know that trucks were actually one of the

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things we considered one of the first applications for it,

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because driving on the highway is a lot simpler than

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driving on the streets of the city.

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There's a lot fewer things you have to keep track of.

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That's true. Yeah, that makes sense.

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And actually the big thing, by the way, I want to

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give you a heads up on so coming from an agricultural

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state, John Deere is now selling a self driving tractor.

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Oh, my goodness. Good deal.

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They went all in on this and pursued the technology.

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And now that's coming out.

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And of course, a self driving tractor is

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actually the easiest form of autonomous vehicle because

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you're in the middle of a field.

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There's a lot less stuff in a cornfield.

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There's a lot less to keep track of than

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even you don't have to worry about other drivers.

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You don't have to worry about

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pedestrians for the most part.

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So I think it's going to be one of the

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first places we see widespread adoption of autonomous vehicles.

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Is the farmer looking on his smartphone to

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see, how are my tractors doing today?

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Yeah, exactly. Wow.

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I just harvested a whole bunch of corn

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while back in the barn doing something else,

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and the tractor is out doing it.

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That's going to be a huge productivity boost,

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and it's going to be one of the

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way that the future really arrives, that the

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autonomous vehicle future really arrives here.

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But that's the sort of thing we should be building

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and the sort of thing we should be doing.

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And all this time spent fighting the culture war, I

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mean, a lot of people are getting the message from

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either the left or the right that going on social

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media and fighting the symbolic battles of the culture war.

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That's where the action really is.

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That's what really gives meaning

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and value to your life.

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And of course, it does.

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It's actually in the wider scene of

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things not very significant at all.

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That's true, Robert. That's true.

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I guess the overall lesson is, no matter

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how bleak it looks, there are intellectual and

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cultural currents that are not only fighting that

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bleakness, but surpassing it with incredible achievements.

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And the lesson I like to keep in mind, especially

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for objectivity when you feel in despair, is to realize

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that the vast majority of people are actually living by

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our value, the values we espouse on a daily basis.

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The vast majority of people are actually out

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there, and they're working, and they, for the

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most part, finding value in their work.

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And they want to grow.

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They want to prosper the woke people.

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And the culture warriors are this tiny fringe really, of

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like 8% of the population, but they're 90% of the

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traffic on Twitter, but they're only actually 8% of the

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population in reality, in the real world.

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So the thing I always see as the hopeful

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message for objectiveness is that what we're simply doing

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is advocating an explicit form, the implicit way that

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most people are living their lives.

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Most of the time we just need to convince to

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bring that message to them in a way that convinces

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them that this is how I'm actually living.

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This is how this is.

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This is what is responsible for all the

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good things that are happening in my life.

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And I could make things go even better if I

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knew that explicitly and we're more consistent in it.

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One of the reasons we created this podcast. Exactly.

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Yeah.

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Robert, it's been great having you.

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I really appreciate your time.

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It's always a pleasure, I guess.

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Martin, are we downloaded in 50 countries now?

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What's some of our stats?

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So, Robert, you have a worldwide audience.

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Let them know where your web presence is. Yes.

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That's one of the first rules for the gig economy.

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That's right.

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Always engaged in self promotion because nobody else

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is going to promote you for you.

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Nobody else is going to promote you. All right.

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So the main thing is I switched my newsletter

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over to substance so it's Krishinskyletter substant comb.

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I started a substant in 2004.

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It was just like 13 years before substac existed.

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Finally now they've created a platform that

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works better than whatever I cobbled together.

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So I've gone over there.

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So transistulator substant.com.

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You can also find my columns at discoursemagazine

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which I think is discoursemagazine.com by the burkata

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center of free market think tank and I've

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been writing a lot for them recently. Very good, Robert.

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Thanks for Manning the foxhole with us today.

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Enjoyed it. Thank you, Smith. Take care.

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About the Podcast

The Secular Foxhole
Separation of Religion and State
As a freethinker, are you looking through binoculars out at the world in the safety of a foxhole? Get fuel for your soul and intellectual ammunition by listening to The Secular Foxhole podcast, in order to fight for the separation of religion and state.
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About your hosts

Blair Schofield

Profile picture for Blair Schofield
I'm a 'lapsed' blogger who turned his blog into a podcast. Now the task is to keep both up to date! My co-host Martin Lindeskog and I have already celebrated our one year anniversary, with the podcast.

Martin Lindeskog

Profile picture for Martin Lindeskog
Creator, ✍🏻 Tea Book Sketches. Indie Biz Philosopher ⚛️ & New Media 📲 Advisor, TeaParty.Media. Blogger since 2002 and podcaster🎙since 2006. First podcast: EGO NetCast. Latest podcast: High Five for Hemp. Support 💲My Work and 🗽 Freedom of Expression: https://bio.link/lyceum