(Guest post by Greg Forster)

Bad idea, hoss. Baaaaaad idea.

Feds unconstitutionally shoving school choice down the states’ throats three years ago, permanently associating choice with a racist, misogynist, illiberal reprobate game-show host president, would have be ruinous for the long-term legitimacy of choice. Doing it in the middle of a pandemic and a national reckoning with the legacy of slavery and segregation? Words fail me.

Lots of other arguments against this folly here and here.

Looking forward to the retractions and apologies from all the right-wingers who opposed Common Core on federalism grounds.

Including – gosh, will you look at that! – one of this bill’s primary sponsors.

27 Responses to Welp.

  1. Malcolm Kirkpatrick says:

    (Forster): ” … racist, misogynist, illiberal reprobate game-show host president …”
    Ad hominem argument only discredits your voice.

    • Greg Forster says:

      You have misconstrued my argument. An ad hominem argument would be “the bill is bad policy because Trump is pushing it, and anything Trump supports must be bad policy.” My argument was “the bill will damage the legitimacy of the choice movement in public opinion because Trump is pushing it, and any movement that pushes something Trump is also pushing will pay a price in public legitimacy.” The difference is subtle, but worth understanding.

      • Malcolm Kirkpatrick says:

        Okay. Juvenile name-calling discredits your voice.
        “But what about Trump”? you will object. His voice also, but you’re the one with the PhD (In what?).
        In modern American English “racist” means “Caucasian who disagrees with a socialist” and “liberal” means “socialist” (i.e., the opposite of classical liberal). Locker room talk doesn’t make one a misogynist.

        See John Dietrich, “The deep state smear machine’s racist meme”, _American Thinker_

      • Greg Forster says:

        I stand by my characterization.

      • Malcolm Kirkpatrick says:

        (Greg Forster): “I stand by my characterization.”
        Of course you do.
        Jeffrey Folks, “Democrats Have Completely Abandoned Civility”, _American Thinker_
        “Civility is far more than ‘consideration’ or ‘good manners’. It is the difference between savagery and civilization. Contempt for others is the first step on the path toward genocide. It’s not just impolite; it’s dangerous for liberals to suggest that southerners are the descendants of ‘traitors’, or that military bases must be renamed because of their connection with Southern leaders.”

  2. Mike G says:

    Hi Greg. Just so I understand: I read that tweet as meaning a Senate bill is proposed with zero chance of passing the House. I.e., just for signaling. And you’re saying that is bad signaling?

    Or is your read that the bill does have a chance of becoming law, and if it did, that would be bad?

  3. Lin Ward says:

    Mr. Forster writes insightful posts but this one is unfortunate in my estimation.

    With cultural Marxists now ascendant in the US and statues of G. Washington being toppled as if they were ones of Saddam Hussein, it seems like a very poor time to deploy the central cultural Marxist tactic (i.e. he’s a racist). Perhaps the bigger problem we now face (as opposed to any school choice debate) is the propensity to deploy the race card as a means of argumentation and as a means of shutting down opposing views.

    What’s more, I wonder if it would be fair to add Marxist rioting to Forster’s characterization of this current national reckoning. Would it be? Either way, I am pretty sure that our current school choice debate will matter little if cultural Marxism continues its rapid advance. Our kids need a civilization to stand on and unite around no matter what school they attend school and no matter their race.

    I also wonder (though I am not really sure) if there is a role for the feds, particularly in large states (e.g. CA. and NY) where ed. policy in midsize and small town areas is dominated by the ideology of large, far-left cities.

    • Greg Forster says:

      I am convinced that in general, the anti-Marxists lack the credibility they would need if they wanted to actually accomplish anything because they fail to treat the evil of racism with the seriousness it deserves, and the anti-racists lack the credibility they would need if they actually wanted to accomplish anything because they fail to treat the evil of Marxism with the seriousness it deserves. For this and other reasons I have resolved not to surrender to the anti-Marxists my right to be anti-racist, nor to the anti-racists my right to be anti-Marxist.

      I wrote about what the Feds could legitimately do for school choice at one of the links above:


      “There is plenty the federal government can do within the limits of its legitimate authority to promote school choice. Right now it sponsors a tiny, underfunded, artificially restricted school voucher program in Washington, D.C.; that program should be exploded into a universal choice program for the whole city, with all students and all schools eligible. School choice on military bases and in U.S. territories could be explored. If we had a president with a really wicked talent for mischief, and he wanted to use it for something more productive than infantile 3 a.m. tweets, he might consider offering Education Savings Accounts as a job benefit for all federal employees.”

      • Malcolm Kirkpatrick says:

        The Executive branch could not expand the DC voucher program without a Congressionally approved appropriation. I suggest that the President already has the authority to order the DOD schools and BIE schools to open parallel online schools which (a) employ no faculty, (b) charge no tuition, (c) admit anyone who applies, (d) define courses by their syllabi, (e) grant credit by exam (f) license independent contractors to administer exams at a fee to be negotiated between the student and the testing agency and (g) mandate that Federal agencies accept diplomas earned through this process as equivalent to diplomas at brick and mortar facilities.
        The President could do the same for post-secondary schooling, with the five service academies.
        Credit by exam would bust the $1 trillion per year US K-PhD credential racket.
        What’s wrong with racism? Assault is illegal. Fraud is illegal. . Racism is thoughtcrime. Cops cannot read minds. Why is it the government’s business if the audience at a Miranda Lambert concert doesn’t look like the audience at a NWA concert?
        If a Caucasian man only dates East Asian chicks, or blond chicks or South Asian chicks, or black men, that is his business, not mine. I a restaurant owner only employs gay vegetarian left-handed Chinese Methodists, that i is, quite literally, his business. Not mine. Not yours.

      • Lin Ward says:

        Thank you for explaining your viewpoint but I am sincerely confused by it. In particular, I can’t figure out which sector/group of American society is not taking racism seriously (e.g. higher ed., schools, churches, sports, movies, music, news media). It almost seems like racism is one of the only things we do take seriously. In the name of anti-racism, we have even invented untrue American history (e.g. 1619) to be taught in our largest school districts, which to me is the ed. crisis that think tank conservatives should be zeroed in on. I wonder too whether the message that racism remains the sole contributor to undesirable outcomes for black Americans steals their agency. Are we possibly hurting black children when we make everything about racism? One need only look at equally poor (or worse) white kids’ outcomes in sinking rural areas to know that forgetting culture is a death sentence.

        And, assuming you’re not using a white fragility or Smithsonian definition of racism, what influence do these apparent racists really have? Not too far from where I live, there’s a rundown meth-infested mobile home with a tattered confederate flag on it. Perhaps racists live there, I’ve often thought, but they are certainly not affecting my multiracial family. I’ve actually found white small towns to be extremely welcoming and have been left wondering why I had such a negative stereotype of them.

        Almost everyone agrees on the egregiousness of Trump’s infantile behavior. However, unlike polite conservative think-tank types, Trump remains reliable on the issues that matter. When it is time to lift up faith, family, and flag (like right now), the elite conservatives and RINO friends cower and concede to the left. Maybe elite conservatives are too comfortable. Maybe they are not really conservative because they value meaningless policy engineering over culture. A thought: I suggest that they all shadow a social worker for a day or two to experience how cultural decline is destroying the lives of all races in this country.

      • Greg Forster says:

        I have said nothing here about any of these big-picture societal questions. My assertion was 1) that Donald Trump is racist, 2) that racism is evil, 3) that associating with Trump will therefore involve a high cost in legitimacy, and 4) that I do not surrender my right to say these things simply because there are also other social evils in the world. That’s all I have said here (I have said more elsewhere, of course).

        One of the most harmful tendencies of all is the tendency to minimize the importance of an evil if we think that it will not be politically useful to stand against it, or (worse) that we must acquiesce, even if only implicitly, in one evil as the price of combating an allegedly more urgent evil. What does it profit a political movement to gain the whole world and lose its own soul?

  4. pdexiii says:

    One thing I’m thankful for DeVos is being the federal cage in the shark-infested waters here in California against the anti-choice sharks. COVID has exposed, from the Feds to the school boards, that we get the government we vote for, and maybe we should change our electoral ways.

    • Greg Forster says:

      Indeed. We have very few problems that we did not create through our electoral choices. As Mencken said, democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and they deserve to get it good and hard.

  5. Malcolm Kirkpatrick says:

    That compulsory attendance statutes entered the statute books in the US hardly means that democratic processes created compulsory attendance laws. Totalitarian countries also have compulsory attendance statutes. Rulers like State-worshipful indoctrination.
    Eduardo Zambrano, “Formal Models of Authority: Introduction and Political Economy Applications, _Rationality and Society_, May 1999;
    “Aside from the important issue of how it is that a ruler may economize on communication, contracting and coercion costs, this leads to an interpretation of the state that cannot be contractarian in nature: citizens would not empower a ruler to solve collective action problems in any of the models discussed, for the ruler would always be redundant and costly. The results support a view of the state that is eminently predatory, (the ? MK.) case in which whether the collective actions problems are solved by the state or not depends on upon whether this is consistent with the objectives and opportunities of those with the (natural) monopoly of violence in society. This conclusion is also reached in a model of a predatory state by Moselle and Polak (1997). How the theory of economic policy changes in light of this interpretation is an important question left for further work.”,

  6. Malcolm Kirkpatrick says:

    (Forster): “My assertion was 1) that Donald Trump is racist, 2) that racism is evil,”
    1. So the Democrats’ media shills assert. Evidence? A direct quote, please.
    2. Would you get a rash if you learned that someone only dates blonde chicks or black chicks or South Asian chicks? Who is harmed if some opens a restaurant which only serves white customers or black customers? Freedom of association and freedom of contract require that government ignore discrimination by non-government actors. Even if “racism (somehow defined) is evil”, the cure is worse than the disease. Please read Epstein, _Forbidden Grounds_.

    • Greg Forster says:

      Trump 1) was fined by the Justice Department for discriminating against blacks in his businesses, 2) said a judge couldn’t oversee his case fairly because the judge was of Mexican ancestry, 3) refused, three times, to repudiate the KKK when given a chance to do so during a live TV interview. There’s tons more where that came from, too, which anyone can easily discover if they want to.

      Racism is evil because all human beings possess an intrinsic and equal human dignity, and consequently we have a duty to treat all human beings in a manner that respects their equal human dignity, and exercises in contextually appropriate forms an ordinate goodwill to all on an equal basis.

      • Lin Ward says:

        My understanding was that you are arguing (quite inexplicably in my view) that racism is not being taken seriously enough by those who might oppose the current Marxist power grab. And, since you have an influential voice and appear to be quite thoughtful, I am curious to know what you mean by “take seriously.” Is it time to prostrate ourselves before the grievance studies groups who are now commanding the culture. I am not sure that I believe in their (or your) cynical views of what’s in the average person’s heart and mind as it relates to race.

        I appreciate your commonsense stance that racism is a bad thing. You asked rhetorically (I think) “what does it profit a political movement to gain the whole world and lose its own soul?” I might turn that idea around and ask how long does one sit on a moral high horse watching the country sink into oblivion because the perfect moral leader has not arrived. I will take what I can get now because theoretical leadership is unlikely and seemingly unwilling. So I am not sure that your stance is actually virtuous – in fact, the opposite could be the case.

        Anyway Biden will be elected in November. And as far as I can tell we’ll all be talking about race in every sector of American life for a very long time to come. Was it a billion or so dollars that have been donated to SJW organizations in recent months? Gonna be lots more folks buttering their bread on this racism narrative.

      • Greg Forster says:

        A Biden presidency will radically decrease, not increase, the social power of the radical left, and especially the race-obsessed radical left, as compared with the Trump presidency.

        I would say “take seriously” requires at minimum being able to say out loud things like “saying a judge of Mexican ancestry can’t judge you fairly because of his ancestry is racist” or “it’s shameful that we have a president who had to pay a fine for discriminating against blacks in his business.” More will be required, but even that minimal first step seems to be beyond the power of almost all the people I interact with for whom “we must fight cultural Marxism!” is a big thing.

        I wrote more about why this is important here:


        “ White ethnic chauvinism is not just a short-term embarrassment for the Right, it is a cancer that destroys the Right’s moral principles. We can defend the Constitution and the classical liberal regime because they are right, or because they belong to our social group, but not both. Pandering to ethnic passions, whether explicitly or through dog whistles, would once have earned a speedy and irreversible one-way ticket out of the movement. It is now not only tolerated, but built into the business models of some of the Right’s key institutions, especially in broadcasting. We are a long way from Bob Dole’s resounding “the exits are clearly marked” at the 1996 GOP convention. Failure to escort the ethnic nationalists to those exits, even at great short-term cost, has not only destroyed the Right’s moral credibility but undermined its moral philosophy.”

  7. Malcolm Kirkpatrick says:

    More social problems are solved by indifference than by confrontation. People just walk away. This is the genius of Constitutionally-limited government, federalism (subsidiarity), and the system of title and contract law (i.e., competitive markets in goods and services).
    A return to the common law principles of freedom of association and freedom of contract (progressively abandoned since Woodrow Wilson) would reduce conflict and enforcement costs.
    Does a BBQ pork restaurant discriminate against Muslims, Jews, and Hindus? If a successful custom auto racing shop expands its operation into a new territory from a predominantly white region into a predominantly black region (say, downstate Illinois to Chicago), the business will have two choices: (1) preferentially hire whites or (2) generate a white management/black shop floor structure. Either way, evil according to busybody government prosecutors and Greg Forster.
    Anti-discrimination law authorizes unlimited government interference into citizens’ private lives. Milton Friedman opposed anti-discrimination law applied to the private sector. Thomas Sowell and Walter Williams oppose anti-discrimination law applied to the private sector.

    • Greg Forster says:

      You are right that there are some cases in which conduct that is not genuinely discriminatory can fall afoul of the discrimination laws, so I am happy to provide further specifics. The conduct for which he paid damages was turning away black applicants who wanted to rent apartments at his property, on the basis of their race, while simultaneously renting apartments to similar white applicants.

      *That* is what I am saying is racism. And the judge. And the KKK. And all the other stuff.

      • Malcolm Kirkpatrick says:

        Reporter to Democrat: “Which breed of dog do you like best?
        Which is your favorite flavor of ice cream?
        Reporter to Republican: “Do you disavow the KKK?
        Do you disavow NAMBLA?
        Do you disavow the Aryan Nations?
        Have you stopped beating your wife?

      • Lin Ward says:

        Thank you for your article. It had very interesting insights and excellent prose. Respectfully though, all the focus on white nationalism seems disconnected from reality. It almost seems like the American ship is sinking but elitist conservatives are laser focused on fixing a loose screw on a deck chair. In the real world, new-to-the-scene black conservatives are often generating the most excitement (e.g. John James in MI or Candace Owens) among Republican voters. It is also my understanding that Trump has higher approval ratings with black Americans than McCain and our newest SJW Mitt Romney. Just doesn’t seem like a rising tide of white nationalism. Sure, the white nationalists exist, but aren’t they pariahs?

        Your article harkens back to the good ole days of Bob Dole and I had to chuckle a little, not least of which because he lost bigly and I am not sure Clinton advanced morality. You state that ethnic nationalism on the right has destroyed its credibility and moral philosophy. In my view, the Dole-style/establishment Right already lost all credibility through its arrogance, its ill-conceived foreign wars and policy, its corrupt gov’t expansions, its abandonment of manufacturing, and, most importantly, its total failure to defend strongly our culture and E pluribus unum aspirations.

        Working people of all races are totally bewildered by what has happened in the past 20 years or so. Their communities have been decimated. Yet, no sense of urgency among the elitist conservatives because life is still good in their gated communities and the think-tank salaries are nice… although the decline may visit their doorsteps before long too.

        And do you honestly think a Biden presidency will decrease the Left’s social power? Surely you have seen their influence in the judiciary, gov’t institutions, education systems, and so many more when they hold power. And the de facto president K. Harris will be one of the most radical VPs we’ve had. This pacify the beast approach of the elitist conservatives is, to a large extent, why we are in this mess and probably why we have Trump. We might need to stop kicking the can.

      • Greg Forster says:

        The kind of thinking you lay out here is exactly how we got into the mess we are now in. Here are the fallacies:

        1) Winning elections is what determines who has social power. There are no other loci of social power besides the presidency, so putting a man like Trump in that office has no effect on our access to other loci of social power (or how our opponents use their uncontested control of those loci).

        2) The reason we don’t make progress on the issues I care about is not because the nation is divided 50/50 and has lost the common moral language needed to facilitate compromise, leaving it stuck in endless trench warfare with lots of fighting but no progress, but because our side isn’t fighting hard enough. We need to fight harder and that will somehow dislodge the enemy from their trenches!

        3) Above all, we need to shush people who talk about the “wrong” issues, especially if they say the “wrong” things. Our silence on issues that are of intense importance to people who are not already on our side, and our anxiety to silence anyone on our side who says things that people who are not already on our side might find appealing, costs us nothing. Because the number of enemy dead is the only metric we care about. It worked in Vietnam!

      • Malcolm Kirkpatrick says:

        1. Civil rights division attorneys observe disproportionate representation and infer a motive for discrimination. Anti-discrimination laws require that prosecutors, judges, and juries read minds. The problem with anti-discrimination law is that it uses observed disparate impact to infer motive and to punish thought crime.
        2. How similar is “similar”? Remember “redlining”? The government claimed that banks discriminated on the basis of race. That’s silly. Why would greedy capitalists, who will do anything to make a profit, reject solvent loan customers? In fact, banks used loan eligibility criteria that generated a disparate impact. If banks discriminated on the basis of race and rejected qualified blacks, the black default rate would have been lower than the white default rate. It was not.
        3. You argue that all men are created equal and are equally deserving of respect. Okay. No policy follows. The government is a bunch of goons with guns. Milton Friedman observed that racism is taste in people. It’s not the government’s business if some men prefer to date blond chicks, or East Asian chicks, or South Asian chicks or black men. Who is harmed if a restaurant owner only employs and/or serves gay, vegetarian, left-handed Chinese Methodists? If it’s “harm” to not employ someone, then I harmed seven billion people yesterday.
        The cure is worse than the disease. Anti-discrimination law creates uncertainty and destructive enforcement costs.
        Please read “The Law that Ate the Constitution”.

      • Malcolm Kirkpatrick says:

        (Greg): “The kind of thinking you lay out here is exactly how we got into the mess we are now in. Here are the fallacies: …”

        We disagree. We got into this mess slowly through progressive abandonment of the revolutionary ideals of Constitutionally-limited government, separation of powers, and federalism (subsidiarity, many local policy regimes). Government-operated schools drive this loss of freedom. State (government, generally) operation of an industry creates a class of system insiders with a direct interest in expanding the agency which survives on taxation and which employs those insiders.
        While the ideal would be no State (government, generally) role in the education industry, that’s not the legal/institutional environment that we currently inhabit. Milton Friedman wrote that he saw subsidized escape options as a stepping-stone to the ideal.
        Credit by exam (e.g., GSCE at any age, degrees through exam from the service academies at any age) would bust the $1 trillion US K-PhD credential racket.

    • Malcolm Kirkpatrick says:

      Interview with Virginia Roberts (an Epstein recruiter):
      Q. “What instructions were you given about what to look for?”
      A. “Young, pretty, you know, a fun personality. They couldn’t be black. If they were any other descent other than white, they had to be exceptionally beautiful. That was just about it.”

      Racist? Who was harmed, the girls who were recruited or the girls who were not recruited?

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