What's Tony Thinking

Good News, Plus a Most Useful New Term


It isn’t every day that I scan the papers and the news and come away feeling, “Wow, lots of good news.” But today I did. Wahoo!

First off, there was the 6 – 3 Supreme Court decision t0ssing out the specious Independent State Legislature theory. This theory was cooked up during Trump’s attempt to steal the 2020 election by the nutty law prof, John Eastland. It is the idea that State Legislatures have complete and unilateral control over elections. That would allow them to create a so-called alternate slates of electors without regard to the expressed will of the voters.

Trump, and probably others, hoped to have that go their way in time to undermine the 2024 election. No such luck! This is very good news. And it comes on top of the Supreme Court upholding provisions of the Voting Rights Act that ruled out Alabama GOP gerrymanders, with implications for other states as well.

Second, the Seattle Times reported on a huge project that is nearing completion the net effect of which will be to keep 75 million gallons of polluted sewage from flowing into the Lake Washington/ Shilshole Bay waterway every year. Sounds like good news to me.

The project runs an enormous underground tunnel from Ballard (where we live) to Wallingford to hold the sewage and storm runoff overflow for later treatment. Until now, this sewage had gone into the waterway that runs between Lake Washington and the Sound. This project has been going on for a long time. I appreciated the great article, with maps, by Daniel Beekman to explain it all.

Third, there was an article by Bruce Ramsey at Post-Alley on what has become, and will likely remain, a “sellers-maket,” for those in the labor force. Noting that Seattle’s unemployment is at an incredibly low 2.6%, Ramsey draws on the work of the University of Washington economist, Jacob Vigdor, to say — here’s the good news — this will lessen income inequality, by raising earnings for those at the bottom of the scale.

This is driven by demographics. For the forty years from 1980 to 2020 there were lots of people in, and wanting to be in, the labor force. Now that number is down, driving wages up. Good old supply and demand. Ramsey/ Vigdor helped me to understand why so many employers have “Hiring” signs out, and that this is not just a hangover from the pandemic. Neither is it people who don’t want to work because they are collecting money from “the government.”

Finally, I came upon a most useful term while reading an article by Russell Moore about the heat J. K. Rowling has taken of late from the left — after the hate that came Rowling’s way from the right twenty years ago. Then it was about “witchcraft” with evangelical Christians going after the Harry Potter author. Now it’s about gender with trans-activists who have Rowling in the crosshairs.

Anyhow, the useful term is “conflict entrepreneurs,” from the book, High Conflict by Amanda Ripley. Moore says that reasonable people might have concerns about Rowlings positions and influence, but it all goes off the rails when the conflict entrepreneurs get a hold of it. Here’s Moore:

“But on their own, these sorts of good-faith disagreements rarely lead to ‘witch trials,’ whether literal or metaphorical. That level of targeted attack requires what journalist Amanda Ripley calls ‘conflict entrepreneurs’those who can leverage someone else’s fear and anxiety for their own gain. (emphasis added)

“The typical pattern of such attacks is to suggest that the people on the ‘other side’ are not just wrong; they are inhuman and powerful and will soon take everything you love away from you. Once this is established, all avenues of debate and persuasion are off the table. All that’s left is to ‘fight fire with fire’ by silencing them before they silence you. In one’s mind, it becomes a battle of good versus bad, or of Gryffindor versus Slytherin.”

“Conflict entrepreneurs.” There you go. People who profit from stirring the pot and convincing susceptible people that someone is coming to get them and all that they hold dear. Lord, deliver us from the CE’s.

Categories: Uncategorized