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What Ian Welsh said (but also)


"Default to kindness:"

If there is one policy point I’d like to make it isn’t a policy point, it’s an ethical one: default to kindness.

Or try kindness first.

In policy terms, the kind thing to do is usually the right thing to do. I’d go so far as to say, almost always.

Treating prisoners with kindness nets Finland half the recidivism rate the US, with its punitive prisons gets. That is, only half as many prisoners, once released, commit a crime in Finland.

Single payer or comprehensive universal healthcare has costs about a third less than the US system, and produces better results.

Not committing war crimes makes people much less interested in killing you. Not torturing enemies means they are far less likely to torture your people.

But also....

... I'm baffled and bewildered at how to propagate kindess in a system that is itself not kind, that is anti-kind. The conversations I had on ObamaCare with Obama supporters during the 2012 campaign were profoundly disheartening to me. Anger -- what I first reach for, or perhaps what first reaches me -- may not be inappropriate, but is it effective?

Here again we confront the issue of what emotion is adequate to the scale and complexity of the system in which we are all enmeshed? We've certainly tried anger and hate, but the legacy parties are so adept at managing these emotions strategically that one can hardly hope to compete. And of course there is everything that comes with tribalism. (Vulgar anarchism: "What about my friends?" which of course works for the police just as much as it does for the "comrades.")

Anyhow, I'll try to be kind. Though perhaps my kindness will be a little astringent.

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