Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Tag: LBJ

Obama’s Legacy: The Evidence Beyond the Punditry

As President Obama’s term draws to a close, every political writer under the sun is offering a hot take on how he’ll be remembered. These can be fun to read, but they don’t tell you very much about what really happened while Barack Obama was president. So today I’d like to look at some of the evidence and data we have on this president. Let’s see how he stacks up next to past presidents and America’s friends and rivals.

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Why Anti-Racism and Feminism Aren’t as Popular as They Should Be

Our society has serious issues with race and gender. In the United States, there is a huge race gap in median family wealth:

The gender pay gap isn’t as bad as it used to be, but there’s still work to be done:

To varying degrees similar gaps persist in most other rich countries. There are also all sorts of additional non-economic disparities as a result of race and gender norms. People associate different behaviors and attitudes with different races and genders, often unintentionally as a result of internalized norms and learned habits. These race and gender norms and expectations box people in and limit their individuality. These norms are forms of arbitrary and unjust prejudice and stereotyping. These things seem obviously oppressive and objectionable in principle. Yet when we survey people about their attitudes toward the political movements that exist to oppose these systems of oppression, we find a remarkable amount of hostility. During the Ferguson protests, 53% of American adults believed that most of the protesters were just criminals taking advantage of the situation while only 31% believed the protests resulted from legitimate outrage over the conditions there. When asked to choose between “Black Lives Matter” and the counter-slogan “All Lives Matter”, Americans go with the latter by an 11% to 78% margin. Only 27% of Americans think new laws are needed to address racial discrimination:

Only 20% of Americans consider themselves feminists (including 23% of women and 16% of men). Despite this, 82% say that men and women should be “social, political, and economic equals”. Given that this is the goal of the feminist movement, this cognitive dissonance is troubling. Why are so many people who agree in principle with the goals of the anti-racism and feminist movements declining to support these movements? I have a theory.

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Why the Selma Movie is Terrible

The movie Selma has achieved near universal critical acclaim. It has a score of 99% on Rotten Tomatoes, and 100% among top critics.  It’s been nominated for 2 Academy Awards, and many people think it should have been nominated for even more. This is a problem, because Selma has a fatal flaw–it lies to us about how our political system works. Read the rest of this entry »