Gamers Don’t Need NFLer Chris Kluwe

Subcultures tend to latch onto celebrity recognition for inroads into popular appeal. In the chess world, “chess-playing” celebrities like Dustin Diamond and Will Smith have written forwards to study books in place of those with tournaments named after them for decades of devotion to the hobby. So has been the case with minor celebrity and “gamer” Chris Kluwe, who was punter for the Minnesota Vikings until he was thrown out of the NFL for his constant verbal abuse of managers and fellow players, and for turning the NFL into a referendum on gay marriage after the league asked him not to do so (Kluwe erroneously claims such actions violate the First Amendment – he is not a legal scholar).

Kluwe enjoying a stale rehash of a AAA title.

Kluwe recently wrote an article called “Why GamerGaters Piss Me the Fuck Off,” which parallels so many of his other poorly written rantings and ravings, laden with juvenile potty language and self-righteous indignation towards those not as socially progressive as Kluwe. This particular screed is remarkable only because it targets one of the few groups still interested in Kluwe’s association with them, which is the gaming community. To be fair, after white millionaire Kluwe complains of “patently obvious white privilege,” he only calls “ignorant,” “slopebrowed,” and “shitgoblins” those gamers participating in an online social movement called “GamerGate,” which – to make a long story short – is a grassroots, leaderless backlash against politicization of gaming by social activists, and the collusion and corruption in gaming journalism that inevitably accompany progressivism, of which there are numerous examples. Kluwe now spends much of his days insulting gamers on Twitter and blocking the many female participants in GamerGate who challenge his Alinskyite smear campaign that the movement is a platform for misogyny.

For GamerGate, incurring Kluwe’s wrath is a reliable indication of being on the right track. Following his pattern of atrocious behavior in the NFL, Kluwe is exploiting gaming to advance a progressive agenda and assaulting the un-politicized escapist value that has made gaming meaningful for so long. Those reluctant to see gaming go the way of television and the movie industry – “exploring” the same politically correct themes over and over again – should welcome Kluwe’s ostracism (or ragequit) from the gaming community as a positive development.

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Banishing the Progressive Golem

Three of the most successful social movements in American history have been the women’s rights movement of the early 20th century, the civil rights movement of the mid-20th century, and the gay rights movement of the late-20th and early-21st centuries. Each movement brought with it a mixed bag of equal protections under the law and expansions of the nanny state, and as a result, liberty advocates have often fallen into a limbo of qualified support and justified hesitation.

Setting aside whether the positives outweighed the negatives in each case, the pressing matter today is what to do when the machinery of a movement has outlived its usefulness. At the outset, there might have been the implicit assumption that operations would naturally cease or scale back once objectives had been achieved. But through a combination of mission creep and basic human reluctance to relinquish power, organizations like the National Organization for Women, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, national labor unions, and even Mothers Against Drunk Driving have persisted long after achieving their once noble goals. Worse, many of these groups, in their attempts to hold sway and relevance, now actively undermine the causes of equal opportunity and social harmony they once sought to promote.

“Social Justice… Unghhhhhh”

In many ways, social movements are like the Prague golem of Jewish/European mythology, brought to life to protect its creators from harm at the hands of vile oppressors. After completing its duties, the golem became uncontrollable in many accounts, even harming those it was once sworn to protect. Only by scratching the word “truth” off the golem’s forehead were the townspeople able to crumble the golem back into the earth from which it was formed. If the analogy holds to its conclusion, only by standing up to our golems armeds with the courageous truth when they are no longer necessary can we prevent them from becoming the monsters of legend.

Reparations – Wouldn’t It Be Worth It?

Admission: I didn’t read The Case For Reparations by Ta-Nehisi Coates, which appeared in The Atlantic on May 21, 2014, and has since been liked and shared in my Facebook news feed by nearly every progressive or black person I know. I recognize the “reparations” argument as little more than socio-political trolling at this point, which doesn’t warrant serious intellectual attention. Furthermore, breathing life into these ancient racial issues over and over again ad nauseum does incredible damage to what little social fabric and trust we have remaining in American society, which is exactly the sort of social-identity fodder progressives need to fuel their national political machine.

But the subject matter did get me thinking this time around – wouldn’t it be worth it? Just imagine: one lump sum payment and we’re done with the slavery and white-privilege issues – forever.

How much would you pay to never have to see or listen to social-identity troll LZ Granderson ever again?

 

Like most litigation, the vast majority of discrimination lawsuits in this country are settled out of court. Most of them are predictably bogus on the merits and amount to little more than a disgruntled employee striking back at an employer out of spite with whatever weapons are legally available to them – race, sex, age, and disability being the most difficult to disprove and therefore most likely to survive the summary judgement phase of litigation. Employers settle nearly all of these lawsuits in the low five figures because A) it’s cheaper than proceeding to trial, B) it avoids any further bad publicity, and C) there is typically a non-disclosure agreement which bars the litigant from ever suing or discussing the matter again under penalty of voiding the settlement. Think of it as the simple cost of doing business in America because that’s what it is.

Wouldn’t it be *glorious* to structure a one-time nation-wide settlement in this manner with every black individual who signed on – say, in the $10,000 – $20,000 range (roughly 3% the cost of the Iraq War) – and never have to listen to “slavery reparations,” “institutionalized racism,” or “white privilege” rehashed ever again under penalty of settlement forfeiture and repayment?

No more affirmative action. No more Title VII litigation. No more MSNBC race panels or LZ Granderson CNN op-eds. Done. Forever.

How much would that be worth to you?

Public Prayer Ruling a Gnat Bite for Liberties in ICU

Whether or not you agree with today’s Supreme Court decision allowing Greece, NY officials to open town meetings with Christian-leaning prayers, the nature of the case itself illustrates how remarkably intact religious liberties remain in America compared with the country’s nearly extinct economic freedoms.

Imagine what the equivalent headline today might have been if control over our income, purchases, and business dealings had been preserved as vigilantly as our right to free religious expression:

“Supreme Court rules Department of Health and Human Services may use website to opine individuals should have health insurance.”

Or

“Supreme Court rules Internal Revenue Service may suggest contributing income to Social Security programs.”

Gazing longingly through the window of the intensive care unit, wouldn’t the gnat bites that come with the cookouts and fishing trips of summer be a wonderful problem to have?

Disability: None Dare Call It Welfare

Spend a morning at any District Court criminal calendar and you’ll hear the following refrain so often you’ll think you’re on the set of a horrible Groundhog Day sequel:

Judge: “Are you currently employed?”

Defendant: “I’m on disability, your honor.”

Don’t pinch yourself – you are stuck with the same uninspired comic-book reboots at the box office again and again and again and again and again. But the unbearable waking nightmare that modern cinema has become is not the topic of this post.

The “disability” the defendants are “on” is a government program called Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). If some of them look like they could bench press you above their heads, it’s because they probably could.

Spoiler Alert: They aren’t actually disabled, at least not in any physical or factual sense of the term. But they are receiving free medical care and a monthly annuity from the federal government, and they will continue to do so on the sole condition that they don’t find gainful employment (I believe this is what many economists call a “misalignment of incentives,” to say the least).

Of course not every individual on SSDI is supplementing a criminal lifestyle or working his or her way through the justice system. Many are otherwise normal (but down on their luck) law-abiding citizens who live out their mundane lives with daytime television, running everyday errands, walking the streets aimlessly, or going to see abysmal superhero movie sequels at preferred daytime cinema rates.

From the Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) disability website:

“‘Disability’ under Social Security is based on your inability to work. We consider you disabled under Social Security rules if: 1) You cannot do work that you did before; 2)We decide that you cannot adjust to other work because of your medical condition(s); and 3) Your disability has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year or to result in death.”

On its surface, SSDI seems like the quintessential safety net: citizens pay in over their working lives, and if unlucky enough to suffer some catastrophic physical handicap, society helps them make ends meet. So why has SSDI enrollment exploded to over 11 million people over the past decade – over 5% of eligible, working-age Americans – more than doubling in both real and percentage terms since 1999? When added to the 8 to 9 million people on SSDI’s kissing cousin, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), for low-income disabled individuals, that’s approximately 20 million adults and counting drawing disability (not counting federal, state, and military disability pensions).

Economists  David Autor and Mark Duggan believe the problem started with the Social Security Disability Benefits Reform Act of 1984, which significantly expanded the eligibility criteria of the program. Thumbing through the SSA’s qualifying list, we find such common, subjective, or impossible-to-verify conditions as joint pain, back pain, anxiety, and depression, which as of 2009, make up more than half of all SSDI claims:

“Pain cases and mental cases are extremely difficult because – and even more so with mental cases – there’s no objective medical evidence,” said Randall Frye, a Social Security administrative law judge in Charlotte, N.C. “It’s all subjective.” (Source)

The certifying doctor is the applicant’s personal doctor, and if the first doctor doesn’t agree, the patient can go on a doctor shopping spree until he finds one that does. To its credit, the SSA rejects somewhere between 60-70% of first-time applications, but attorney-driven appeals of rejections reverse the trend, and by the end of the process, roughly 70% are successful. Unlike criminal and civil trials, there is no government advocate present in such hearings to represent the taxpayer’s interests.

The kicker is SSDI is not counted in the national unemployment rate (a politician’s wet dream) and this is one reason why the labor participation rate is the lowest it’s been since the mid-70’s. In this manner, SSDI sweeps political undesirables who would otherwise be unemployed or on other forms of welfare under the rug, paying them what amounts to a monthly bribe to stay out of the most widely reported economic health indicators.

The unemployment rate is looking better already!

A Rose by Any Other Name?

Progressives or other utilitarians might claim it matters little whether we call the redistribution “welfare,” “disability,” or any other arbitrary label, because it’s all just so much hush money to keep the lower classes fat, happy, and not murdering the 1% in their goose-feathered comforters at night. But this rationale misses the critical distinctions between SSDI and traditional welfare, which are the dishonesty and finality inherent in the program.

Only the willfully blind could deny, against the weight of the evidence, that there is little medically wrong with many of the “disabled” collecting SSDI. They enroll not because they physically cannot work (let’s face it – if you can type, you can work), but because the pay would be low or the job unpleasant. They may spin their tales for understandable reasons – desperation, practicality, or economic hardship – but at the end of the day, they are committing a moral fraud on their society. They know this, and it eats at their dignity every day, making them ever-more fearful, ashamed, and resentful. Those who know these individuals may also recognize the deceit, leading to lower public trust in each other and in public institutions, which arrives with a whole host of related social and political problems. Other means of dealing with the “unemployable” segments of the population – public employment, jobs programs, or military service – at least give the individuals dignity, societal buy-in, and some useful skills and experience for their resumes.

Furthermore, once someone is on SSDI, it is FOREVER, unlike the failed dependency programs of yesteryear that were “fixed” by the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA), which ushered in the more limited Temporary Assistance for Needy Familie (TANF) program. SSDI’s $1000-2000 a month may seem paltry at first, but with payroll taxes and healthcare contributions taken out of the equation, it’s a respectable sum of money on which to live, and getting a check for no obligations whatsoever beats the heck out of low-skill labor. A program that can only ratchet up and never down is destined to blow up, especially during a recession, and indeed SSDI is slated to become insolvent in less than three years time.

There are all manner of reasonable reforms that should have been enacted years ago: partial disability, incentives to return to work, independent doctor certification, and so on. But before these reforms have any chance of enactment, SSDI must be recognized as the kabuki theater it is, masking a new, nefarious, and unsustainable form of welfare.