Wherein a Catallarchist Goes Green

Did you know that the brain is responsible for 20% of the body's energy consumption? In an effort to do my part for the environment, I'll be recycling a comment (of which I was reminded by the penultimate paragraph of Constant's recent post) in lieu of expending the brainpower needed to think up a new post:

I agree that it's perfectly legitimate to be upset about statistical discrimination. But insofar as statistical discrimination is a rational response to the incentives faced, I don't think it makes sense to be upset at the discriminator. You can't blame people for looking out for their own interests. Rather, the blame lies with those who make discrimination pay off.

Most people understand this, at least implicitly. For example, I resent the fact that I have to pay higher insurance rates than I would as a woman with a comparable driving record. But I don't blame my insurance company--I blame young men who drive recklessly.

Many Americans are unhappy with the way Europeans view us. There's some disagreement regarding whether this is statistical discrimination or bigotry. But those who believe that it's statistical discrimination are nearly unanimous in placing the blame on the "ugly Americans" who make the rest of us look bad rather than on the Europeans.

Likewise, no one blames a woman for crossing to the other side of the street when encountering a man after dark--we blame the men who justify this response.

It's only when the discrimination is against members of certain victim classes that we blame the discriminator.

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Why Either/Or?

Many Americans are unhappy with the way Europeans view us. There's some disagreement regarding whether this is statistical discrimination or bigotry. But those who believe that it's statistical discrimination are nearly unanimous in placing the blame on the "ugly Americans" who make the rest of us look bad rather than on the Europeans.

Why does it have to be either/or? Why can't we blame both the Americans who represent the stereotype and the Europeans who buy in to it? I certainly don't want to be prejudged as a loud, obnoxious, insensitive American who supports war and aggression abroad, and I blame both the "ugly Americans" who perpetuate the stereotype and the Europeans who falsely assume I am like that.

And doesn't this contradict your final statement? Is "American" a victim class?

Why does it have to be

Why does it have to be either/or? Why can't we blame both the Americans who represent the stereotype and the Europeans who buy in to it?

This is the weakest of my three examples because it doesn't have much of a concrete impact. One difference between bigotry and statistical discrimination is that the bigot continues to rely on stereotypes even when he has enough information to judge someone on an individual basis. So avoiding areas frequented by American tourists would be an example of statistical discrimination, whereas viewing you through the lens of that stereotype even after speaking with you for a while would probably be bigotry. I don't see how genuine statistical discrimination would be a big problem for you.

And doesn't this contradict your final statement? Is "American" a victim class?

I think you misread it. Americans aren't a victim class, which is why people who agree that the "ugly American" stereotype is legitimate generally don't blame Europeans for it.

The ultimate resource!

The precious nonrenewable natural resource that you are preserving here is your own time and effort. You're Julian Simon green.

The Ultimate Resource

It's funny you should mention that, because I was actually planning on going out that night to meet girls so that I might eventually expand our reserves of the ultimate resource (The sacrifices I make for the good of humanity!).

...But I got trapped inside my apartment by a broken doorknob. Fortunately, with the brainpower I saved by recycling a comment, I was eventually able to escape, albeit not in time to get me some work towards the betterment of humanity.