Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Snarkiness

Beyond “Taxation is Theft” - Discussing the New Tax Code

An episode of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Snarkiness

By libertysnark
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.
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Righteous Minds: Moral Foundation Theory
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: Jonathan Haidt’s website, which contains links to his articles, projects, and Ted Talks, including a wonderful series on capitalism:
June 18, 2019
"Change My Mind” - Steven Crowder and Youtube
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: A Quillette article discussing the censoring of people like Crowder by big tech companies:
June 11, 2019
Never Meet Your Heroes - The Allegations Against Martin Luther King Jr.
Aaron and Austin discuss the recent allegations brought up against Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., which neither Aaron nor Austin accept as true, but provides an opportunity to reflect on how our culture views history and heroism. Austin brings up his frustration with the moral-absolutist perspective of history that he perceives as defining the popular narrative, where historical figures can either be angels or demons, rather than simple fallen, flawed humans. Aaron brings up the idea of viewing historical individuals as scientific objects, looking at the context in which they acted and what their accomplishments and flaws can tell us about the overarching narrative of history. Finally, both hosts discuss the broader idea of "erasing history," and whether or not challenging the established narrative surrounding historical figures and causes is truly erasing history or instead taking a more holistic view of it.  The Standpoint article that goes over the accusations against Dr. King: Matt Walsh's take on the MLK situation: One of the recent causes of the resurfacing confederate flag controversy:
June 4, 2019
Making Amash of Things? The Latest Call for Trump's Impeachment
Aaron and Jason discuss Justin Amash’s recent controversial tweets regarding potentially impeaching President Trump. Aaron supports Justin Amash’s statements, and discusses the psychology of why the Republican party is so violently and hypocritically turning on Justin Amash for them. Jason more hesitantly sides with Amash, bringing up some issues he sees with his position, but also brings up some especially insane accusations being levied against Amash and shows how they don’t hold water. Aaron and Jason also discuss just what impeachment is and why it exists, as well as how the history of impeachment’s use has deviated from the Founders’ principles.  Jacob Sullum’s piece for Reason as to why he agrees with Justin Amash on impeachment: The House Freedom Caucus’s response to Amash: The Bulwark’s take on why the Republican Party’s actions against Amash may hurt them: An overview of Amash’s history of clashing with Trump’s agenda: Charlie Kirk’s Response to Justin Amash:
May 28, 2019
Whining Isn’t Constructive Criticism - Game of Thrones and Toxic Fandom
Aaron and Jenn decide to tackle a thoroughly non-controversial topic by discussing the finale of the small, tiny, and barely known show Game of Thrones, as well as the reasonable, rational, and thoughtful responses of its few fans feeling mild disappointment with the show’s ending. They discuss toxic fandom, and how the entitlement fans feel to a “satisfying” (read: getting what they wanted) ending can end up being harmful to the nature of art itself. Jenn also brings up how fans are becoming harder and harder to please, while Aaron brings up how the psychological phenomenon of group polarization is potentially responsible for how angry and entitled fans, both GoT and non-GoT related, are getting.  Game of Thrones star Jacob Anderson on the fans’ remake petition: Rick Marshall’s take on the same for Digital Trends: The Slate article dissing the GoT finale: The Slate article praising the GoT finale: Reason Magazine’s Ilya Somin on Game of Thrones and Libertarianism: FEE’s Brittany Hunter on Game of Thrones and its message on the dangers of power:
May 21, 2019
Learning from Aaron's Mistakes - Are Corporations People?
In our 40th episode, Aaron and Austin discuss learning from Aaron’s recent mistakes regarding a big company. Aaron talks about what happened, and how, even after some introspection, he still believes that government regulation of companies and corporations is not the solution. Austin then gives his answer to the infamous question “Are corporations people?” Austin argues that yes, they should be treated as people, but that contrary to popular belief, this will protect the little guy, rather than enabling corporate rule over society. Aaron and Austin wrestle through some of the intricacies and problems of corporations in our current political landscape, before Aaron points out that even if corporations may legally need to be treated like people, psychologically, they will behave very differently, and that whatever solution is reached will need to take this into account. 
May 14, 2019
Beyond “Taxation is Theft” - Discussing the New Tax Code
Aaron is joined by two guests this week, first his wife Katherine, a financial professional, and second, returning guest Michael Dilaura, to discuss the new tax code. Katherine starts by discussing some of the positives and negatives of the tax code as well as the importance, rather than thinking of “rich vs. poor,” that we instead consider the importance of individual financial literacy and fiscal responsibility, and how no (despite what some claim) this is not something restricted by social or economic class, but rather something that everyone can learn and embrace.  Michael Dilaura then discusses his experiences working in politics when the tax code was passed, and how that relates to the current cultural zeitgeist of identity politics. Michael brings up how the reaction to the new tax code plays right into the current political culture of soundbites, and how we only talk in terms of team red or team blue rather than discussing the actual positives and negatives of policy. Aaron then brings up how much our cultural discussion of wealth plays into the relative deprivation hypothesis of prejudice.  The New York Times article that inspired this episode: A Marketwatch article claiming that the tax code unfairly favors Republican-dominated states: An article on the intense reaction to the SALT caps: Liz Warren and AOC’s response to Chase Bank that Katherine and Aaron discussed: Bernie’s attempts to clarify the difference between democratic and authoritarian socialism: A link to Katherine’s website, “The Bookkeeping Artist”:
May 8, 2019
Kamala Harris, Social Dominance, and those Pesky Courts
Aaron and Austin discuss Kamala Harris’s recent statements about gun control, as well as the Left’s reaction to her owning a gun, which some believe disqualifies her from running as a Democratic Candidate (after all, come on guys, it’ll be 2020!). Austin discusses the problems with executive attempts to change gun laws, as well as the issues with trusting that the Supreme Court will take care of it. Aaron discusses the psychological theories of authoritarianism, social dominance, and the ideological conflict hypothesis, all of which help to explain both Harris’s attempts to use her gun ownership to establish credence with the gun-owning community, as well as the backlash she’s experienced from that effort.  A Buzzfeed article (yes, we know, don’t hate us) on Kamala Harris’s plan for executive action: The opinion piece saying why Harris’s gun ownership disqualifies her from running as a democrat: Robert Altemeyer’s “The Authoritarians” PDF: An Amazon link to Massad Ayoob’s “Deadly Force,” mentioned by Austin in the show: A Breitbart article (again, yes, we know, PLEASE don’t hate us) on Eric Swalwell’s proposed gun ban and buyback: Unrelated, but because we mentioned it, the National Review’s piece on how Franklin Graham and the Evangelical Movement have sold out for the sake of Trump:
April 30, 2019
Protect us from Protectionism!
Aaron is joined by Tyler Brandt, associate and editor at the Foundation for Economic Education, who recently wrote a great article about the dangerous connections between protectionism, socialism, and even communism. Aaron and Tyler discuss Frederic Bastiat as an unfortunately-neglected figure in political thought and theory, as well as discussing libertarian maxims like “taxation is theft,” as well as the difficulties which underlie protectionism, and why a free society cannot function when the free market is stifled by tariffs, no matter how strong the supposed “moral” claim to protectionism.  Aaron explains why he thinks the psychological literature of racism and prejudice also apply to economic policies like protectionism, Tyler explains why he doesn’t trust the supposed “evidence” of people who approve protectionism, and Aaron and Tyler both discuss the underlying moral assumptions of protectionism which are often brought up by its defenders and adherents.  Tyler’s article that inspired this episode:édéric-bastiat-on-the-connection-between-socialism-communism-and-protectionism/ FEE’s link to purchase Bastiat’s “The Law,” complete with his “The Candlemaker’s Petition,” where he takes down the idea of protectionism:  FEE’s free online link the Bastiat’s “The Law”:
April 23, 2019
Crossover Episode! Pan-Libertarianism and Wikileaks
Aaron and Austin are joined by Buck Johnson, host of the Death to Tyrants Podcast, for our first crossover episode with another podcast! In the first half, the trio discuss the similarities and differences between different schools of libertarian thought. Aaron takes the Minarchist perspective, the idea that the government should be as small as possible, while Buck takes the perspective of anarcho-capitalism, the idea that society should be free to exist without rulers. Meanwhile, Austin tries to figure out just who he is, libertarianly speaking. We discuss our common ground as well as the deep divides that exist within libertarianism, with Buck bringing up the unifying force that was the “Ron Paul Revolution,” Aaron bringing up the phenomenon of group polarization and ideological purity, and Austin reminding us that there are fundamental philosophical differences that one must consider when “choosing” a libertarian school of thought.  In the second half, Buck, Aaron, and Austin discuss the recent arrest of Julian Assange, discussing the reactions of the D.C. establishment, the importance of government transparency, and the importance of placing principle over power. Austin brings up the absurdity of allowing the government to determine what counts as transparency, Buck brings up the use of Assange as a distraction from what Wikileaks has revealed about our government, and why it’s important that we do know and discuss those revelations, and Aaron talks about the psychological dangers of blind patriotism and authoritarianism.  A link to Buck’s Podcast, “Death to Tyrants”: Death to Tyrants’ latest episode with Scott Horton discussing the Assange affair: h Thoughtco’s guide to the different types of libertarianism: A listicle from The Libertarian Republic also discussing different kinds of Libertarianism: Reason Magazine’s discussion of Washington’s reaction to Assange’s arrest: The American Conservative’s piece telling us why we should fear the arrest of Assange: A discussion from The Bulwark, discussing why they don’t care much about Assange’s arrest:
April 16, 2019
Gas Station Sushi and Swastikas: Hate Speech vs. Free Speech
Aaron and Austin discuss the idea of hate speech, as well as the other factors surrounding it, in response to a recent incident involving Nazi graffiti in Oklahoma. Austin discusses the importance of maintaining the right for people to be hateful in a free society, as uncomfortable as it is, as well as drawing up the legal distinctions between what is and is not constitutionally protected under the definition of free speech. Aaron discusses how psychological phenomena like stereotypes and heuristics mean that we should be careful in our use of speech, and why we need to openly engage and refute hateful rhetoric, even if we don’t want the government to do so. Also discussed are such controversial topics as the Confederate Battle and Gadsden flags, and how more controversial and less clear cut symbols than swastikas and racial slurs play into the conversation about the right use of speech. The incident that inspired this episode: Bastiat’s “The Law,” perhaps one of the most important political works ever written, which Aaron paraphrased this episode: NPR on the Supreme Court case which allowed Asian-American Rock Band “The Slants” to trademark their name: Timothy Sandefur’s piece for The Reason Papers making the case against the Confederacy: Randal Meyer, of the CATO institute, as to why Libertarians need not be pro-confederacy: Jonathan Blanks, also of CATO, with another case against the Confederacy: “Ethics’ Alarms” on the Gadsden Flag and problems of free speech and symbols:
April 9, 2019
Rammstein, Jordan Peele, and Chicken Nugget Problems
  Jenn and Aaron knock back some Jameson while discussing the ever-popular topic of outrage culture in both the pop-culture and social spheres. In the first half, Jean and Aaron discuss two popular topics of outrage, the new music video put out by German band Rammstein and the so-called “controversial” opinion of Jordan Peele that he doesn’t want to cast caucasians as the leads in his stories about the African American experience. After being interrupted by our lovely commercial break (now in the middle!), they also talk about the recent hubbub surrounding Chick Fil A, as well as the appropriation of Holocaust imagery by members of the Anti-Vaccine movement to protest their “persecution” by having their kids excluded from attending school due to the risk of a measles outbreak. Jenn talks about how art and expression can’t flourish if we’re going to constantly be offended by everything, but how important it is to also remember the lines of common decency, and how intent matters. Aaron talks about why, psychologically, we should call “virtue signaling” “value signaling” instead, as well as how outrage culture plays right into what is known as the peripheral route of persuasion, and how it’ll change nobody’s mind in the end.  Christopher Dwyer on Value Signaling: Pete Buttigieg’s response to the Chick Fil A fiasco: An article on the Anti-Vaccine Movement’s use of Holocaust Stars: Rammstein’s “Deutschland” music video that caused all the controversy (content warning: violent imagery): Some reactions to Rammstein’s video: The Daily Wire on Jordan Peele (read the comments if you want to see “not racism”): Proof that Aaron is pronouncing Pete Buttigieg’s name correctly:
April 2, 2019
Electoral College/Supreme Court “Reform”, and Why That’s a Bad Idea
Aaron, Austin, and Jason all come together to discuss two classically progressive ideas which are manifesting themselves again in the race to the 2020 election; establishing a national popular vote and packing the Supreme Court. Jason goes over the history of why these are terrible ideas, as well as making certain remarks about potatoes. Austin talks about how both reforms would utterly undermine any legitimate authority of the Court or the electoral process, let alone the implications that each would have for the legal system. Aaron discusses why basic social psychological principles about perceived legitimacy and decision-making make it plain that yes, these are bad ideas with potentially disastrous unforeseen consequences.  Walter Williams on why the U.S. is a republic, not a democracy: Economist Gary M. Galles on the why the popular vote is not election reform: Politico’s summary of the arguments made for expanding the Supreme Court: Gary M. Galles on why packing the Supreme Court is also a bad idea: George Mason Law professor, Ilya Somin, on the dangers of supreme court expansion:
March 26, 2019
“Live” Episode - Ranking the Democratic Candidates!
What do “fun mom energy,” drinking expensive bourbon, wanting chihuahuas over golden retrievers, sheer abject terror of robots, and Starbucks have in common? The Democratic Presidential candidates, of course! From Tulsi Gabbard to Andrew Yang to Bernie (among others), Aaron and Austin are joined by their wives (and briefly, Aaron’s dog) to discuss the top 11 (in their view) Left-wing challenges to Donald Trump in the upcoming election.  Note: Due to the challenges of recording with four people, our ambient mic was struggling a little bit, so we apologize for the sound issues.  The FEE article on Andrew Yang and the problems of universal basic income. "The Economics of a Toddler Combined with the Ethics of a Thug" - a critique of Bernie Sanders from George Mason economics professor Donald Boudreaux Amy Klobuchar's response to the controversies surrounding her alleged temperament issues. 
March 19, 2019
"The Great Stone Face" - Practical Steps to Discussing Ideology
Aaron talks with guest star Greg Rehmke, Program Director for Economic Thinking, an organization that specifically works with public speaking and debate groups from a liberty-minded perspective. Greg talks about the importance of thinking in debate terms; of figuring out and understanding the opposing presuppositions and worldviews as well as of discussing concrete policy problems rather than philosophy alone. Greg also discusses the importance of not taking a “Pollyanna” approach to our own philosophies when it comes to persuading others; if you don’t know the potential criticisms of your own position, how can you defend it? Aaron and Greg talk about the importance of being winsome in our communications; not just beating people over the head with ideology, but “presenting society with one improved person,” as the great Leonard Read, of “I, Pencil” fame, once said.    A link to Economic Thinking’s Website., the website which Greg mentioned that can help us stay positive, rather than just focusing on the negatives.  A livescience page that contains some of the sources that Aaron made reference to in this week’s episode. A transcript of Leonard Read’s “How to advance liberty: A learning, not a selling problem,” where he elaborates on some of the ideas we discussed this week. 
March 12, 2019
Cohen, Catholicism, and Collusion
In our 30th episode, Austin and Aaron tackle a double-header of topics! First, they discuss the highlights of the Cohen testimony, and why neither Austin from a legal perspective nor Aaron from a psychological one found Cohen even the slightest bit convincing. They then move on to a newly proposed law in California, drafted in response to the recent sex scandals in the Catholic Church, where Austin and Aaron amicably disagree on how and to what extent the government should be involved in trying to protect and obtain reparations for victims of sexual abuse in religious organizations. Also touched on are Austin and Aaron’s thoughts on Russian Collusion and real-life Bond villain Putin, why affairs like the Cohen testimony actually make life easier on Trump and harm those of us who’d like a chance to rationally point out and critique the insane things he does, and the problem of trying to balance keeping the government out of everyone’s business while still having it able to do the (precious few) things it is actually supposed to do in a capable manner.  NOTE: Due to technical difficulties, there are some audio problems with this episode. Blame Aaron.  An article from Real Clear Politics on the Cohen hearing and Republicans’ attempts to discredit him. Some interesting quotes from the Cohen hearing that seem to make it pretty clear he’s just trying to save his own skin. An article on our favorite person, AOC, and her attempt to “own” Trump. Justin Amash’s takedown of Cohen. The Federalist piece we referenced for the second topic of this episode.
March 5, 2019
Oscars' "Outrage" - Please Calm Down
Jenn and Aaron dissect a disappointingly lacking-in-controversy Oscars. However just because it’s lacking in controversy doesn’t mean people aren’t trying to manufacture some, because we live in a hellish nightmare where the 24 hour news cycle and social media need us to be angry all the time. Aaron and Jenn discuss the attempt at manufacturing outrage around Green Book, Spike Lee’s acceptance speech, and some of the other award-winning movies (seriously, watch The Favourite). Aaron gives his thoughts on how men’s fashion has finally taken a turnaround (except for the velvet. Seriously, why?) and Jenn talks about being an unpopular opinion puffin in a sea of outrage culture.  An article on Brie Larson (star of the upcoming Captain Marvel movie) and her comments which have raised some “controversy” (but who knows on the internet anymore?): The text of Spike Lee’s acceptance speech: President Trump’s response to Spike Lee’s acceptance speech, which he called a “racist hit”:
February 26, 2019
National Emergency! Why Aren’t We Panicking?
There’s a National Emergency on! Feel alarmed! Austin and Aaron, both connoisseurs of the bottom shelf, begin by talking about Costco booze, before launching into why President Trump’s latest meshugas has neither of them feeling especially panicked. Among other topics, Austin and Aaron touch on the latest mass shooting, former Libertarian VP Nominee Bill Weld’s plan to try to primary Trump, and their feelings on how political tribalism is making it even less likely that Trump’s supporters will ever have their cognitive dissonance resolved in a way that leads to them abandoning him. Aaron explains these happenings through the lenses of honor ideology as well as the psychological principle of cognitive dissonance, while Austin remains pessimistic that Trump can ever go too far for his supporters to give up on him, and then they both hope that someone - ALMOST anyone - tries to primary Trump out of another shot at the presidency, because goodness knows we’ve all had enough of what Aaron calls “schmuckitude.” Previous podcast guest Andrew Egger’s take on the reaction among Trump supporters: An older article reflecting on Chuck Schumer’s threat during the Obama presidency that President Obama had the right to go above Congress: Other Conservatives/Libertarians’ responses to Trump: An article on cognitive dissonance and how it applies to our political lives:
February 19, 2019
The Green New Deal - Did a First-Grader Write This?
Aaron and Austin are joined by guest Michael DiLaura to discuss Alexandria Occasio Cortez’s brilliant/terrifying new piece of legislation. Michael guides us through some of the especially problematic elements of AOC’s thoroughly impractical plan, while Austin points out the sheer number of property rights violations that this legislation would require, as well as how nothing about the “plan” falls in line with the proper role of government. Aaron talks a little bit about the psychology of construal level theory, and how it explains the recent populist (of both right and left-wing variety) obsession with thoroughly impractical legislation. Aaron reveals that he doesn’t like West Coast beer, as well as explaining why he thinks Democratic Socialists are like vegans and cross-fitters. Austin reveals his hope that the Green New Deal is the straw that breaks the camel’s back and pushes the Federal Government into admitting its utter incompetence and inability to do anything, as well as pointing out the lack of parallels between the original and Green New Deals. Finally, Michael has to teach Aaron what the phrase “clap back” means.  An official PDF of the Green New Deal:  Megan McArdle’s article for the Washington Post: William L. Anderson for the Mises institute on the Green New Deal: Jarret Stephan for FEE on the Green New Deal:
February 12, 2019
Fear the Devil's Lettuce!
Don’t fear the reefer! Aaron, Jason, and Austin tackle that most terrifying topic: marijuana legalization. Aaron discusses how scientifically iffy the “gateway hypothesis” is, while Austin gives his views on the illegitimacy of the war on drugs and any form of prohibition in general. Jason plays Devil’s advocate by taking a pro-prohibition stance, as well as discussing the problem with legislation which denies the basic roles of supply and demand. They then wrap up the episode by pointing out that the very idea of the war on drugs and the prohibition of substances is inherently progressive, and how neither party can claim exemption from extreme progressive influence. Also brought up are Austin’s slow slip into anarchy, Aaron’s debilitating fear of sharks, and Jason’s elegant and civilized approach to alcohol.  The Imprimis Article which prompted this episode: Politico’s prediction about marijuana legalization: An overview of Marilyn Mosby and the end of marijuana prosecution in Baltimore:
February 5, 2019
Trump, Milo, and Evangelical Christianity
In our 25th episode, Aaron is joined by guest-star Andrew Egger, a journalist formerly of The American Standard and now working for the new, explicitly Anti-Trump publication “The Bulwark.” Andrew starts by getting excited to share his choice of drink. Aaron and Andrew discuss the differences between their respective ideologies of Classical Liberalism and Conservatism, as well as the recent attempted re-emergence by shock jockey/oppressed intellectual (depending on your point of view, but certainly not according to Aaron’s or Andrew’s) Milo Yiannopolous, who was recently interviewed by popular evangelical figure Eric Metaxas on his radio show. Andrew tells us a little bit about the history of Milo, and both Aaron and Andrew discuss the murkiness surrounding the political definition of what an “evangelical” is, why they’re considered such a pro-Trump voting block, and whether or not this is a fair characterization of the movement. Andrew also talks a little bit about the importance of principled conservative’s resisting Trump, and Aaron speculates as to whether or not “evangelicals” who support Trump are the same as people who actually try to embody and live out their faith.  Also, keep your ears peeled for an “easter egg” (or whatever we’re calling it) where next week’s episode topic is mentioned! Andrew’s recent article on Milo and Eric Metaxas: Andrew’s Author page at The Bulwark: Timothy Carney’s Article on why Ex-Churchgoers flock to Trump:
January 30, 2019
The Psychology and Masculinity Kerfuffle
 The recent APA Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Men and Boys have caused something of a controversy. Many on the Right have decried it, claiming that the report represents an attempt by psychologists to undermine healthy, normal masculinity by labeling it as “toxic.” Responses have ranged from defending the problematic aspects of manhood to outright denial of what the APA guidelines actually say.  Aaron goes through the report and outlines why he thinks it's actually something to celebrate and recognize as possessing a great deal of common ground between the APA and many on the Right. Jason cross-examines and plays devil’s advocate for the Right against Aaron, trying to bring some clarity to the issue. Aaron discusses what a horrible child he was, Jason talks about some of the historical misperceptions that many on the right are operating under, and Jason and Aaron riff on how their marriages might be perceived as somehow “non-masculine.” Aaron brings up honor ideology and the Lord of the Rings because that’s the kind of person he is, and Jason reminds us that the ultimate responsibility for being a good man lies on the personal choice to do what is right, not on shallow social norms.  Aaron’s Article for FEE where he discusses the APA Guidelines: The APA Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Men and Boys: The APA’s Clarification Post: An Article from the Washington Examiner exemplifying the problem with the response to the guidelines: Dr. Christina Hoff Summers on some of the problems faced by men in society:
January 22, 2019
Jenn and Aaron are joined by guest Faith Liu, a Hollywood Screenwriter, to discuss the ever-popular issue of whether or not America’s entertainment industry is as politically biased as many seem to perceive it. Faith and Jenn pressure Aaron into watching The West Wing. Faith talks about how there is more conservatism in Hollywood than might be otherwise assumed. Aaron and Jenn ask Faith about a number of political issues in Hollywood, including the issues of minority representation, whitewashing, the entire verkakte nature of award shows and the critic/audience divide. Finally, Faith explains why she doesn’t think there will ever be such a thing as a “conservative movie.” Also discussed are Jenn’s proud Latina status, the way that Hollywood’s lack of diversity reflects the segregated nature of the city of Los Angeles, infamous good/bad movie “The Room,” and Ancient Egyptian mummies.  Adam Ruins Everything on how money wins awards, not talent: A Guide to the Ghost in the Shell Controversy: Doug Walker, aka “Nostalgia Critic,” on whitewashing:
January 15, 2019
Term Limits Suck
  Welcome to our first episode of 2019, in which Jason, after several months, realizes he is a cohost of this podcast! Jason explains why term limits did nothing to curb power when applied to executive power, and may have actually made the problem worse. Aaron explains why he believes that the very nation of term limits is a misidentification of the real problem, and why the free and virtuous society will not be helped by term limits. . Both Aaron and Jason take some time to talk smack about Woodrow Wilson and FDR, as well as discussing the general overreach of executive power, the problems of seeking a “quick fix” via term limits, and why term limits may actually make the problem worse.  Proof that we’re not blowing smoke and yes, Woodrow Wilson was a horrifying racist: An explanation of the proposed term-limits plan: A pro term-limits article which discusses the founders’ views on term limits: 
January 8, 2019
You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out! The Bump Stock Ban
Merry Christmas! For our Christmas episode, Austin and Aaron talk about President Trump’s ban on bump stocks. Both hosts express their personal dislike of bump stocks before Austin explains what a bump stock is, and how it does NOT, whatever the acting Attorney General may say, fall under the definition of a machine gun, as well as going into the more concerning theme of all of this, the fact that the executive branch is legislating in an unconstitutional manner, and that this is hardly a modern or unique occurrence, it’s just that President Trump’s own personality flaws make his personal style of executive abuse less palatable. Because they’d be remiss not to, both Austin and Aaron talk a little bit about the planned withdrawal from Syria. Aaron also talks a little bit about the psychology behind gun control, specifically how education, rather than mandate, can address some admittedly much-needed changes around the culture of guns.  The USA Today Article about the history of executive overreach: Reason Magazine’s take on the illegality of the bump stock ban: The Federalist with a similar article on the ban: Some information on the lawsuit challenging the ban:
December 25, 2018
A Conversation with Rebekah Bydlak: Millennial Politics and the Cause of our Generation
In this week’s episode, we’re thrilled to get a chance to talk to Rebekah Bydlak, executive director of the Coalition to Reduce Spending. Rebekah and Aaron talk about everything from being homeschooled, the embarrassment and inspiration that can come from facebook memories, the troubled relationship between the liberty movement and the millennial generation, and the importance of continued political involvement and activism. Note: Due to technical difficulties during recording, there are some sound quality issues with this episode. The online tool Rebekah mentioned to check out the trends in politics regarding spending: The Coalition to Reduce Spending’s Website:
December 18, 2018
Trial by Tweet and Stand Up Comedy
Aaron and Jenn discuss the recent trials and tribulations of the tweets made some time ago by Kyler Murray and Kevin Hart that have all of a sudden taken over the news cycle because people seem to have nothing better to do. Jenn discusses the inherently transgressive (or perhaps not) nature of art and comedy. Both Aaron and Jenn go over some of their favorite comedians, including John Mulaney, Rhod Gilbert, Burt Kreischer, and Dave Chapelle. Aaron discusses the inherent dangers of “woke culture,” and how it’s a fragile group identity that can only exist by finding others to punish. Also mentioned are Churchill, The Golden Compass series, Neil Patrick Harris, and David Mamet. Jonathan Haidt, “The Age of Outrage” - Michael McCullough, “The Myth of Moral Outrage” - Lindsey Ellis’s video essay on transgressive humor and Mel Brooks - Comedian Tom Segura’s interview on “Hot Ones” where he discusses his thoughts on comedy -
December 11, 2018
Happy Holidays! There’s No War on Xmas!
Aaron and Jason discuss the myth of the “War on Christmas,” and make the case for why it’s a case of manufactured outrage. Jason goes over the historical origins of Christmas in America and how the holiday as we know it is largely a post-WWII invention. Both Aaron and Jason riff a bit on commercialism, touching on the famed “Starbucks Christmas Cups” controversy. Aaron then discusses the psychology of moral panics and the “persecution of privilege” which both speak to the way the so-called “War on Christmas” operates. So as the season of holidays begin for many of us, enjoy time with family and friends, enjoy whatever fried, roasted, or baked goods you desire, and remember that your enjoyment should not in any way be impacted by what other people do. A report on the Virginia Christmas Pageant as well as President Trump’s focus on Christmas: The Daily Wire’s moral panic-esque take on “Happy Holidays”:
December 4, 2018
Criminal Justice Reform and a Family Get-Together
As the holiday season begins, what better way to celebrate than with family? In that spirit, Austin and Aaron host an episode with Aaron’s Dad, Dr. Jeffrey Pomerantz, a corrections physician of 23 years, to discuss ongoing criminal justice reform efforts, jury nullification, and the sheer problem of the number of laws we have. Aaron talks about the psychology of plea bargains, Austin goes over the problems of permanent felony records and human rights, and Jeff brings up the issues with private prisons. Also discussed are the legal perils of bird feathers, how clinging to philosophers can lose you the argument, and some scary facts about juries. Some articles on the First Step Act:,amp.html An article from FEE on the Koch Brothers and their free-market efforts at criminal justice reform: Mark Godsey’s “Blind Injustice”:
November 27, 2018
Women, Aggression, Shame, and Boxed Wine
Happy Thanksgiving Week! Jenn and Aaron return with a new guest, Maddie Collins, to discuss a recent article alleging that women who do not support the progressive agenda are bigoted. Jenn discusses how her encounters with the works of Russell Kirk and William F. Buckley Junior during her Master’s thesis formed her political views, regardless of what gender norms might or might not dictate. Maddie discusses how identity politics play into the dialogues about gender and political involvement, as well as bringing up the insanity of the “quiver full” movement and the notion of “debt free virgins without tattoos.” Aaron brings up the role of relational aggression, and how both sides of the political spectrum use it against women who don’t conform to ideological norms. Finally, all three of them discuss the vast problems that the Libertarian party and movement both possess with regards to women, as well as positively representing themselves to the world at large. Moira Donegan’s article in the Guardian: Neil Gaiman’s poem “The Mushroom Hunters”:
November 20, 2018
Gun Control: "Common Sense" or Prejudice?
Austin and Aaron take on some of the latest anti-gun legislation from New York and Washington State. Austin discusses some misconceptions that both sides hold about the legal rights surrounding firearms. Both Austin and Aaron take issue with the term "common sense gun control," and Aaron connects popular attitudes to firearms to both construal level theory and classic psychological theories of racism and prejudice. Some background on New York's proposed social-media-based gun control: Aaron on construal level theory and anti-gun activism: Nancy Pelosi on why "common sense" gun control will be a major issue for the new House of Representatives:
November 13, 2018
Immigration, Anchor Babies, and Executive Orders
Happy/Horrific Election Day! In the wake of the immigration-fueled hysteria, and President Trump's hurling gasoline on that fire with his promise of overriding the 14th Amendment via executive order, psychology, history, and the law come together for our first triple-header episode! Aaron lays out some of the psychology underlying the immigration debate, Jason provides a historical overview of America's troubled past with immigration, and Austin takes on "Mr. Facts and Logic" himself, Ben Shapiro, arguing that there is simply no reasonable case against the 14th Amendment's applicability to all immigrants, regardless of their legal status. The trio then address remarks made by a representative of their alma mater, Hillsdale college, before reflecting on what the current state of the immigration debate means for the future of this country and its inhabitants. Ben Shapiro's case for why the 14th Amendment doesn't apply: The paper Austin references explaining why, based on previous jurisprudence, President Trump's Executive Order is dead in the water: Michael Anton's opinion piece defending President Trump's rhetoric:
November 6, 2018
Princesses, Harry Potter, and Parenting
Aaron and Jenn Shadle discuss Kristen Bell and Kiera Knightley’s controversial views on letting their kids watch Disney Princess movies. Jenn gives her views on why censorship is a bad thing, and why it harms the point of storytelling and art in general, while Aaron discusses psychological research from the University of Oklahoma which shows just how important fantasy, and literature in general, is to our development and function as human beings. Both Aaron and Jenn discuss parental rights within a liberty-oriented viewpoint, Aaron reveals his passionate dislike of Veggietales, and Jenn discusses her ongoing par asocial relationship with Nancy Drew. The article that started all the kerfuffle: Dr. Jennifer Barnes’s Ted Talk on fiction and par asocial relationships: A brief overview of the psychological model of parenting styles discussed in the episode: Kristen Bell explains her remarks on why she wants to be careful what her kids watch:
October 30, 2018
Political Tribalism and Tribulation - A Historical Perspective
Jason and Aaron discuss the recent "rise" in political tribalism pointed out by many across the political spectrum. Though many say it's only getting worse as the midterm elections loom closer, Jason explains why, from a historical perspective, this is nothing new in American politics, giving several examples of far worse elections and rhetoric than that seen in 2016 and 2018, while Aaron gives a brief psychological perspective of why civility seems absent from political discourse. Senator Ben Sasse gives an interview about his views on tribalism: Sebastian Junger's book "Tribe": Two of Aaron's articles, the first discussing the differing worldviews and definitions behind political discourse, and the second discussing guilt and shame in political rhetoric:
October 23, 2018
Facebook, Free Speech, and Frikkin' Frogs!
Aaron and Austin discuss the recent purge of facebook pages, many of them liberty-oriented, which supposedly occurred to "protect our democracy." Austin discusses the underlying jurisprudence of free speech, including the history of the Supreme Court decisions relating to it, while Aaron relates the current debates over what should and shouldn't be considered "free" speech to honor ideology and psychological authoritarianism. Austin gives a fascinatingly complimentary look into the existence of "fighting words" as a legal precedent, Aaron points out how both sides violate their supposed ideologies in restricting free speech, and examples range from Alex Jones to Joe McCarthy to once again breaking Godwin's law.
October 16, 2018
Telltale Games, Gompers, and Robber Barons
The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Batman, and…. John D. Rockefeller? Guest host Jason Klicker joins Aaron as they discuss the recent controversy around Telltale Game Studios, including their unceremonious firing of almost all of their employees. In the course of this discussion, Jason and Aaron cover the corporate illusion of invulnerability, a brief overview of some of the lesser-known history of unions in America, some often-ignored facts about the infamous “robber barons,” and Aaron’s shameless shilling of Assassin’s Creed. An overview of the Telltale incident : Edmund Opitz (one of both Aaron and Tyler’s favorite authors) on the Robber Barons and the union age: Dr. Burt Folsom on Robber Barons: Lawrence Reed on Rockefeller’s Standard Oil:
October 9, 2018
Senatorial Circus Town
In the first ever guest-episode, guest Austin Collins joins Aaron in exploring both the legal and psychological reasons why the Kavanaugh hearings have been an unmitigated disaster for both sides of the aisle - and why neither party has ended up looking good. Austin also discusses what majors make you more likely to end up in law school, while Aaron reveals a serial-killer's little-known last words, and Godwin's law is broken by both of them. Thomas Kirby on Memory Science and the Kavanaugh Case: Bret Stephens' discussion of the case in the New York Times: A brief discussion of emotional decision making:
October 2, 2018
Hurricanes and Price Gouging: Alright, Alright, Alright?
As the East coast struggles in the wake of yet another hurricane, Aaron and Tyler discuss a notion often brought up in the wake of such tragedies: price gouging. Tyler argues that price-gouging is a more complex economic issue than most of our cultural dialogue would suggest, even responding to some specific “hot takes” on the subject. Aaron discusses how the emotions which we feel during such tragedies can lead to bad decision making based on the over-use of heuristics. Aaron then rants about academia a little bit, before Storytime with Uncle Tyler explores a video game from Tyler’s past. Andrew Ross Sorkin’s article on price gouging: Economist Victor Claar's defense of price gouging:
 Acton's Joe Carter on price gouging ethics:
September 18, 2018
Nike, In-N-Out, and Boycotts for Everyone!
Tyler and Aaron discuss the boycott sensation that’s sweeping the nation! Tyler questions if how politicized they are will make them less effective, while Aaron discusses the phenomenon of reactance and how it works against these boycotts’ cause. Both Aaron and Tyler riff on boycotts' social media presence for a bit, before Tyler regales us all with a thrilling tale of wisdom teeth removal, Vicodin, and Parks and Rec. If you like what you hear, please consider leaving us a comment or a review! You can also find us on social media, or send us a message via our website! Twitter: Facebook: Website:
September 11, 2018
South Africa and Dabbing
Tyler and Aaron discuss the land seizures in South Africa, including the so-called “white genocide” supposedly occurring. Tyler discusses the difficulties in having the government try to right historic wrongs, while Aaron discusses how peacemaking should be applied in moving forward in intergroup relations. The South African Institute of Race Relations’ report: Al Jazeera’s report on the land debate: The New York Times’ response to the president’s tweets:
September 4, 2018
"Accountable Capitalism,” Construal Levels, and Latin
Tyler and Aaron discuss Elizabeth Warren’s “Accountable Capitalism Act,” discussing the problems associated with central planning in the private sector. Tyler explains why he doesn’t think lack of government oversight will set us back to Feudalism, while Aaron connects certain economic policies to construal level theory, and Tyler’s cat Leland makes his first cameo appearance on the show! “Middle of the Road Policy Leads to Socialism” - An article of Aaron’s discussing construal levels in a different context - Mises’ “Economic Calculation in the Socialist Commonwealth” -
August 28, 2018
Economic Inequality, Envy, and Beyoncé
Tyler disapproves of Aaron’s drink of the week, before raising the topic of wealth inequality and whether or not our perception of “the rich get richer and the poor get poorer” is accurate. Aaron discusses group dynamics and how they influence our economic perception of others. Aaron teaches Tyler about Beyoncé, someone takes a nap on Von Mises’ desk, and Storytime with Uncle Tyler takes us into Tyler’s highschool years. Ludwig Von Moses’ “The Anti-Capitalistic Mentality,” referenced by Tyler in the show: Dr. John R. Chambers' research, including his research on perception of the economy and his research on social mobility, referenced by Aaron: Twitter: Facebook: Website:
August 21, 2018
Miniature White-Collar Crime & The End of the Frikkin' World
In Episode 3, Tyler and Aaron discuss the controversy of 3-D printed guns, authoritarianism, and moral panic, while a Storytime with Uncle Tyler takes an unexpected turn. Note: Due to atmospheric oddities (a thunderstorm) our sound quality did suffer somewhat during this episode, but we promise to have it fixed by next week! Inrange TV on 3-D Printed Guns: Mel Brooks’ 1968 Classic, “The Producers”: Twitter: Facebook: Website:
August 14, 2018
Tariffs, Honor Culture, and Storytime with Uncle Tyler!
Tyler and Aaron give their respective takes on the Trade War, Tyler giving a case against protectionism and tariffs, and Aaron linking the trade war with the social psychological concept of the Culture of Honor. We also learn about Aaron’s Vegemite obsession and that neither Tyler nor Aaron is entirely sure how Senator Ben Sasse’s name is pronounced! The Elemental Case for Free Trade: Bastiat’s Three City Alderman: Tyler’s interview with Dr. Michael Clark: Book Recommendations: Honor Bound: How a Cultural Ideal has shaped the American Psyche, by Dr. Ryan P. Brown Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in America, by David Hackett Fisher Culture of Honor: The Psychology of Violence in the South by Drs. Nisbett and Cohen
August 7, 2018
Microbrewing, Socialism, and the Youth
In the first episode, Aaron Pomerantz and Tyler Groenendal talk a little bit about their political views, how government regulations can have unforeseen consequences - even on your beer! - and discuss why socialism seems to be so popular among young people today. Twitter: Facebook: Website: For more about Bastiat, who we talked about a little bit in this episode find his classic work "The Law" as a free .pdf here! :
July 30, 2018
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