Should you care about that issue?

Does it:

  1. Involve money or the economy
  2. Involve the military or foreign policy
  3. Involve criminal law. state violence or mob violence

If the answer to all of the above is no, it’s probably a bullshit issue that’s being used to distract you. Even if it does involve one of the above it may still be a relatively small issue that shouldn’t be prioritised, but at least it’s somewhat important.

This is not a plea for crude economism. For example, the right of trans people to access bathrooms is absolutely an issue, because it involves criminal law and violence. Immigration? Absolutely worth talking about under points 1 & 3. Racist policing? Absolutely worth addressing.

On the other hand, some idiot celebrity saying dumbshit on Twitter? Almost certainly not an issue. Arguments over Starbucks saying happy holidays rather than Merry Christmas? Not an issue. Trump looking like an idiot? Amusing, but not a real issue. Casting for a movie? Not an issue.

There are exceptions. Same-sex marriage was, I think, an important fight to win, even though the connection to any of those criteria is somewhat tenuous. An argument can be made that it involved 1, given the economic rights afforded to married couples, but even if these economic had been fully equivalent I still think the campaign would have been important.

Nonetheless, you should start to get suspicious if an issue doesn’t tick one or more of those criteria.

3 thoughts on “Should you care about that issue?

  1. What about academic debates without real world impact? e.g., are qualia real, is the many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics correct, how historically accurate is the Iliad, did modern humans migrate out of Africa only once or many times? Is academic research important only to the extent that it affects the economy, or is there value to knowledge for its own sake?

    To come from the opposite angle, doesn’t everything ultimately relate to the economy? Happy holidays vs. merry Christmas -> symbols of Christian identity of America -> cultural marginalization of minorities -> economic discrimination against minorities. Trump looking like an idiot -> Trump actually being an idiot -> Trump crashing the economy. Fights about displaying the Confederate flag -> symbols of racism -> economic discrimination against minorities. Dan Quayle’s attack on Murphy Brown -> debates about the structure of modern families -> families are economic production units / role of women in the workforce.

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  2. Selecting a judge does neither and yet it is *the* hot button issue.

    Oh and guns: the NRA is powerful and has money but it’s not exactly loaded with cash.

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    1. On judges, c.f. 3:

      “Involve criminal law. state violence…”

      Of guns, also c.f. 3, criminal law, since that’s what banning guns is- an expansion (for good or ill) of the criminal law.

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