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Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Snarkiness

Author: libertysnark

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A team of millennial professionals, including a psychologist, a law student, and a history teacher, team up to discuss politics, current events, and pop culture, all without taking themselves too seriously.
53 Episodes
Continuing on from last week’s discussion of Nationalism, Jason and Aaron decide to link Nationalism more broadly to topics of prejudice and immigration. They start by attempting to reach some sort of common definition of Nationalism, with Jason favoring a more historical categorization focusing on specifics, and Aaron favoring a broader distinction between Nationalism and Patriotism drawn from psychology literature. While neither of them think nationalism is good, there is some friendly disagreement as to the inherently prejudicial nature of prejudice. Jason gives us an overview of nationalism’s history within the U.S., specifically as it applies to the issue of Immigration, while Aaron talks about why he still believes this to be an issue of racism. Finally, Jason discusses the importance of using “political judo” in our responses to nationalism and the claims of nationalists, while Aaron stresses the importance of differentiation between patriotism and nationalism. The Associated Press on President Trump’s further actions to restrict legal immigration: CATO Institute on why the “welfare argument” against immigrants doesn’t hold water: Magazine going over the history of President Trump’s nationalist immigration policies: Chairman of the National Foundation for American Policy, Stuart Anderson, on the classical liberal vs. nationalist approaches to immigration: takedown of “national conservatism” from the Acton Institute: Send in a voice message:
For our first Season 2 episode (new intro music!), Aaron interviews Stephanie Slade, a managing editor and writer at Reason Magazine, on her recent experiences visiting the National Conservatism Conference. Aaron and Stephanie discuss the rise in nationalism on the right wing, why nationalism isn’t a good thing (as opposed to patriotism), why nationalism is explicitly anti-liberal (in the sense of classical liberalism) and thus inherently anti-American, and why the dream to use government force to inflict virtue is naive and ultimately self-destructive. NOTE: We recorded this episode before the recent tragedies in Texas and Ohio, which is why we do not reference them. We are not trying to dodge the issue of the nationalist ideology put forward by one of these individuals, but do believe that what we discuss here is and should be part of that conversation.Stephanie’s Article on the National Conservatism Conference: Dalmia on National Conservatism’s attitudes to immigrants: Send in a voice message:
Civil War Debate - Part II

Civil War Debate - Part II


In part 2 of our Civil War debate, we discuss the Civil War in light of the Founding Principles, during which Austin Collins attempts to derail us by trying to make this about the Federalist papers. We then skip over the years of the war itself to keep the focus on the governmental actions surrounding the war by discussing the unmitigated, vengeful disaster/righteous subjugation (depending on your point of view) that was Reconstruction. We also revisit the difficult question of secession, specifically applying it to the Reconstruction context. We then tackle the minor question of if and how we can come to terms with the legacy of the civil war as a nation and culture, before closing out our debate with the oft-repeated, yet still important truth of the necessity of open, honest dialogue and discourse across ideological and party lines, especially when it comes to such difficult and divisive topics as The American Civil War. NOTE: We apologize that Aaron sounds weird in the intro and outro of this episode. We blame the state of Oklahoma and its horrific, horrendous allergens. Herman Melville’s Poetry on the Civil War: T. Washington’s Up From Slavery: previous episode on Race Relations and the legacy of slavery: Send in a voice message:
The default position for a lot of libertarians/classical liberals/small government folk tends to be siding with the South in the American Civil War. We do not, and we've gotten some flack for it. Thus, being the nerds we are, we decided to have a formal debate about it (’tis the season), joined by Austin (Tex) Prochko as our designated Confederacy advocate! Listen to four libertarians discuss the Civil War, its causes, philosophical implications, and misunderstandings surrounding it as Austin, Jason, Tex, and Aaron tackle perhaps the most controversial event in American History. The Cornerstone Speech by Alexander Stephens. This was the speech referenced by Jason in which the Vice President of the Confederacy made it clear that slavery was a fundamental “institution” in the Confederacy’s eyes. : Locke’s Letter on Toleration. This is the treatise by Locke that Tex referenced in today’s episode.: Declarations of Secession from the different confederate states: Send in a voice message:
In the wake of the Black Little Mermaid casting “controversy” (now replaced by Area 51 memes!), guest Faith Liu returns to the podcast to discuss both this and other casting controversies from the perspective of a Hollywood writer. Faith and Aaron discuss what is meant by “colorblind casting,” and why Faith considers it a cop-out, the whitewashing phenomenon and why it’s different from other forms of ethnicity-changing casting decisions, why representation matters in media, and the merits of different representation strategies for race and gender. Faith Liu is a writer currently working in Hollywood. Among her other projects, she has worked on AMC’s “Better Call Saul,” and is currently working on Cinemax’s show “Warrior.”The Asian Americana Podcast: You See It on Writing Women: July with a libertarian perspective on race-changing (Content warning: language) Part 1: 2: Send in a voice message:
In this episode, we have a chance to talk to Dr. Eric Larson, host of The Paradocs Podcast, about the healthcare crisis in America. As seen in the recent Democratic debates, it seems that the Healthcare system is going to become a major issue in the upcoming election, and everyone seems to have their own potential solution to the problem. The issue, of course, is that all these potential solutions have one alarming commonality; creating more government control. Dr. Larson outlines his views on the problems with the American healthcare system - especially the cronyism and market distortions that plague the health insurance industry. He then also goes over some of the issues with proposed solutions to this problem, both the suggestions of more government involvement and the idea that we should imitate the healthcare systems of other countries. Finally, we discuss some potential free-market, individual-focused solutions. Dr. Larson’s Podcast, The Paradocs, where he discusses issues like those brought up today (and so much more!) from a practitioner and patient-oriented perspective: Heritage Foundation’s 2019 Report on Healthcare and Public Policy: overview on Direct Primary Care, one of the solutions that Dr. Larson brought up in today’s episode: Send in a voice message:
Aaron interviews Andrew Kern, founder of “The Principled Libertarian,” regarding his recent article about the dangers a standing army poses to liberty. Andrew explains some of the historical and economic context for why a standing army might not be all it’s cracked up to be in the popular consciousness, as well as bringing up some potential solutions to the problem. Aaron tries to bring up some popular objections to Andrew’s position, and Andrew responds to these criticisms with why he still, despite everything, thinks that reforming our foreign policy would involve getting rid of our standing military. Also discussed are militias, federalism and decentralization, and the dangers of conscription. Andrew’s original article: Robert Higgs on the dangers of a standing army: Principled Libertarian on Facebook:’s website, The Principled Libertarian, where you can find more of his work: of the episodes of “The Dangerous History Podcast” that Andrew referenced during the episode: Militia Act of 1903: Rogers Hummel on the Dangers of Militias: Send in a voice message:
Aaron and Austin discuss the recent congressional hearings regarding healing race relations by Federal reparations for slavery. Austin brings up some of the moral and practical concerns that the proposed financial reparations would pose (yes, Taxation is Theft is brought up) but also suggests other ways that the Federal Government could attempt to make reparations for slavery without a plaintiff/defendant dynamic. Aaron brings up social psychology’s Contact Hypothesis, as well as the notion of transitional justice, and how we need the latter to get to the first. Aaron and Austin discuss the specific utility that transitional justice possesses due to its individual and community-based focus, rather than it being an ineffective top-down solution, as any Federal solution is likely to be. The Chicago Principles on Post-Conflict Justice: Case for Reparations by Ta-Nehisi Coates: Hughes on Reparations: Chimelis on Reparations: Slavery Existed Far Beyond the Emancipation Proclamation: Summary of the Reparation Hearings: Anthony Bradley on Transitional Justice: Send in a voice message:
Aaron and guest Kevin Bell, one of Aaron’s fellow psychologists, discuss Jonathan Haidt and Moral Foundations Theory, a psychological model of how we define, experience, and interpret morality. They discuss each of the five basic moral foundations (with Liberty as a controversial sixth), how Moral Foundations Theory works with the idea of absolute morality, and how Moral Foundations Theory plays out in our modern political sphere, especially between conservatives and liberals. A website explaining the five/six moral foundations more in-depth: Haidt’s website, which contains links to his articles, projects, and Ted Talks, including a wonderful series on capitalism: Send in a voice message:
We’ve talked about free speech a lot on this podcast, typically from the perspective of what you CAN do. This week, we discuss what you SHOULD do, as Aaron and Jason discuss Youtube’s recent demonetization of conservative shock jock Stephen Crowder. In the first half, Aaron raises the question of “it was a joke” being used as a defense for egregious behavior, and what psychology can tell us about the dangers of using humor as a mask for prejudice. Jason brings up the importance of defending the right to free speech, even when that right is misused, because of the importance of freedom of ideas in a functioning society. In the second half, Jason and Aaron discuss the massive power that platforms like Youtube have over their customers, and how big platforms have demonstrated irresponsibility regarding how, when, why, and who they choose to demonetize. Aaron discusses the empirical results and how they suggest that support for such demonetization is a function of authoritarianism and belief content, while Jason reminds us again how important it is that we engage with controversial and “dangerous” ideas in order to broaden our minds and test our beliefs. A piece from the Bulwark saying that just because we can defend Crowder doesn’t mean we should: Quillette article discussing the censoring of people like Crowder by big tech companies: Send in a voice message:
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