At the end of every month, Emily Jashinsky and Inez Stepman run through a docket of the past several weeks of news and analysis. This month, they discuss how the right should respond to the raid at Mar-A-Lago and the potential prosecution of political opposition, the rage the direct class politics of student loan bailouts has stirred up, and whether older millennial victims of the mainstreamed sexual revolution will become Cassandras for the next generation, or drag them down the same path.

Plus: Inez warns Emily about the dangers of consorting with Tankies, and the ladies chat about whether the post-religious sexual market the left has begged for has instead built a playground for guys like Andrew Tate.

High Noon is an intellectual download featuring conversations that make possible a free society. The podcast features interesting thinkers from all parts of the political spectrum to discuss the most controversial subjects of the day in a way that hopes to advance our common American future. Hosted by Inez Stepman of Independent Women’s Forum.


TRANSCRIPT

Inez Stepman:

Welcome to High Noon, where we talk about controversial subjects with interesting people and where every month we do a roundup with Emily Jashinsky, senior fellow … Sorry. Emily, senior fellow with IWF, culture editor over at the Federalist, shaper of intrepid journalist minds over at Young America’s Foundation, and my final description of her last role, tolerater of tankies over at The Hill’s Rising TV.

Emily Jashinsky:

Lover of them. Appreciator of the perspective they bring.

Inez Stepman:

Tankie appreciator.

Emily Jashinsky:

Hater of the ideology.

Inez Stepman:

Tankie enjoyer.

Emily Jashinsky:

Yeah.

Inez Stepman:

We are going to go through a number of subjects today, as we always do at the end of the month, some of the stories that we thought were important, sometimes the stories that are under covered, but in this case, I think stories that are not necessarily under covered, because they are in the news, but perhaps under analyzed in terms of the consequences. The first thing that we’re going to dive into is, of course, the FBI raid at Mar-a-Lago. Unless you live under a rock, you’re aware that the FBI has raided President Trump’s home, that they had a quite broad warrant to take anything, any box with any potentially classified documents, the whole box, and then all the adjoining boxes, something that looks awfully like a fishing expedition in terms of trying to find something to charge the former president with.

Emily, what do you think? Obviously, this is huge. It breaks 246 years of American tradition of not persecuting or prosecuting former presidents. On the other hand, of course, no one is above the law. But this obviously breaks one of our most important traditions as a republic. One, I guess, what do you think the consequences long-term of this are going to be, or even let’s say medium term, three to five years? But the second question, how should the Right respond to it? I think we have multiple strains here of the Right, some people saying, “Well, we need to do the same thing. That’s the only way this cycle is going to end.” This is folks like Josh Hammer and Dave Reaboi.

Also, not on this specific issue, and I suspect she wouldn’t like her argument used this way, but Abigail Shrier wrote a piece basically saying, “We need to do unto the Left as they’re doing unto us, or it’s never going to stop.” There are obviously downsides to starting a tit-for-tat cycle of political prosecution. I don’t think I need to lay out what the downsides are. Where do you fall on that spectrum? What do you think the Right should do with this new and scary precedent?

Emily Jashinsky:

Well, the Shrier argument is a really interesting one to bring up because I think she was making it in the context of an issue where Republicans genuinely have not been good at using the levers available to them, as opposed to breaking any constitutional norms. She was talking about break the Republican norm of standing before history yelling, “Stop!” Without then taking action. I actually think that’s a really interesting comparison and good point because I tend to fall on the side where I totally agree with Shrier on that, but am not on the side of, I would say, a lot of nat-cons on some of these constitutional questions, because I don’t like where that goes. I think we’re already careening down the slippery slope. There’s no question about it. But I also think we have much deeper cultural issues, and they’re ones government can help with and contribute to.

That’s why I’m more interested in the cultural space anyway, because it’s the quote. What is it, the Madison quote, about you need … Or it’s John Adams. “You need a moral populace, basically, to sustain this kind of republic.” I think that’s absolutely true. I think we have all of the tools to have the freest and fairest society that’s ever existed on the face of the Earth. I think we have those tools constitutionally. I think what’s really the problem is people and the culture.

To have a culture where Peter Strzok is talking about the smell of Walmart and then treating, really, the candidate of Walmart … I don’t mean the candidate from Walmart in an Idiocracy way, but the candidate that most of the people shopping in the Virginia Walmart that so disgusted Peter Strzok, the candidate that they supported, he’s using the levers of government in unprecedented, abnormal ways. It comes from basically this place of just utter contempt and disdain for the other, in a way that the Left often said religious conservatives had for minorities, sexual minorities, et cetera, et cetera. You really, really see this bigotry and contempt growing for the other. I think Charles Murray saw that coming first.

The only other thing I would say is how should the Right address this? Well, Ben Shapiro had a decent thread today where he said, “The more Republicans talk about Trump, the less well they do electorally.” I think that’s true, but I don’t think it’s a problem with Republicans. I think Democrats are forcing this issue. It’s why they want to have January 6th hearings again in the fall. It’s why they raided Mar-a-Lago in the late summer as we’re heading into fall, because they’re doing another drip, drip, drip, à la Russia collusion, that forces Republican candidates to talk about these issues and eat up time that could be spent talking about the economy, could be spent talking about gas prices, et cetera, et cetera.

I don’t think it’s that Republicans are just super eager to talk about the FBI, but in the way that Republicans should be talking about the FBI, it should be about administrative state reform. As you’ve been out in front of that issue, there are concrete policy solutions that can be giant leaps forward. That’s the way Republicans should be talking about this. There is a policy that we can talk about that would radically change Washington. It needs to be at the very, very, very top of the Republican agenda in the future.

Inez Stepman:

Yeah. I feel like concerns about the administrative state have really moved from being a niche academic concern from Federalist Society types. There’s always been the concern about Chevron deference, about agency size and overreach. It’s never really been a popular issue, perhaps because it is so wonky and complicated. But I feel like it really has changed. I mean, maybe the beginning of the change on this issue is Trump talking about the deep state. But really observing how bureaucrats have behaved over the past five years and how politically weaponized these agencies are, I think we’re seeing the end of this long, more than a century arc, from the progressives to now.

It’s essentially the death of the Wilsonian idea of scientific management of government, that, in fact, you don’t need a real politics politics. At best, you need a democracy that points the ship in the general direction, but the actual mechanisms of government need to be carried out by apolitical experts. Of course, that was never true. It was certainly not true, for example, under FDR, who very aggressively politicized the administrative state that he had in front of him. It’s not always been true, but I think we’re really seeing the death of that idea. It’s really, really clear at this point that expertise has a political opinion. It’s a political opinion that’s being forced on the rest of the country. I think the pandemic is a really good example, of course, of that as well.

I mean, I think this is a long time in coming. I’m glad to see it raise up. But I really do worry about the tit for tat on the rule of law side, because it could swamp the kind of reform you’re talking about. I could see Republicans, for example, looking around the target-rich environment, the Bidens and the Clintons, deciding “Well, you know what? Instead of putting forward a bill to actually rein in the bureaucracy, what we’re going to do is arrest Hunter.” Probably, there’s a better case for arresting Hunter in terms of the laws he’s broken than arresting President Trump. But once you start that, I don’t see how to pull out of that.

Emily Jashinsky:

No. I just can’t fathom how that would be possible. Just staying on the Hunter hypothetical, not specific to that case, but a better case does not make a good case. That’s a really, really, really important distinction. Just because our case is better than theirs, the conservative case is better than the liberal case for playing fast and loose with the Constitution, it doesn’t mean, of course, that it’s a sound argument just because it’s a better one. I think there are increasingly some folks on the right who look at the Constitution as an imperfect document. I know we’ve talked about that before, Inez. I think there’s a question as to whether it’s imperfect to the extent that it has allowed the vast ballooning of the administrative state, because, frankly, that was allowed by our judiciary. We’ve found this to be over and over again. I mean, it swings back and forth, like the EPA ruling that just happened. They kicked it over to Congress. Congress passed a law, and now we’ll see what happens and whether that’s deemed constitutional when it’s challenged in the courts.

But it’s odd you mentioned Wilson. All of this happened as industrialization and globalization was kicking into high gear. All of these states were more interconnected, more easily, more quickly, than ever before. So, of course, the federal government had this impulse to seize control, to the point where now the EPA can decide what kind of appliance these companies can make, down to granular details and in ways that have eroded their quality, frankly. When you make that case to the American people, I think if it’s done right, not in the egghead … no offense to the FedSoc, but the egghead FedSoc way, because FedSoc has done great work on this, but if it’s done in the right way, then I think it can be really powerful.

Inez Stepman:

I mean, I think you run in, especially the idea of prosecuting, which, for example, I’m very much in favor of attempting to prosecute FBI agents or supervisors who made political decisions. That, I think, is a very worthy goal for prosecution. But you’re going to run into the Durham probe problem, fundamentally. These people’s jobs require exercising judgment. They do not see that they’re political priors are part of the judgment they’re exercising, when they take in, for example, the Steele dossier, and it sounds reasonable to them, and they don’t look very hard or think about where that might have come from and the political … They don’t see that. I don’t know.

I’m sure everybody else has had the experience of having a conversation with someone who defends, let’s say, this technocratic, neoliberal worldview. They think that it is the only objective. They think it’s a scientific calculation. They don’t see that they themselves have ideological priors. That’s really hard to prosecute because you have to prove not just that they made the reasonable judgment as an FBI agent, but that they cackled and put their fingers together and said, “Well, I’m going to use this for political reasons.” The hard thing to recognize is that maybe there’s a few cacklers, but for a lot of these people, they’re not actually going out. They think they are doing the right thing because they don’t see how ideological their worldview is.

Emily Jashinsky:

Right. They’re not taking marching orders from the DNC. It’s just baked into the way that they see the world, increasingly.

Inez Stepman:

Yeah. That’s hard. That’s hard to prosecute when you have wide latitude, for example, for prosecutorial judgment. I mean, I guess this goes to this whole which way should the Right deal with this? I mean, it does go to that optimist-pessimist divide about the country. I guess, for once, I remain on the optimistic side because I have to be. Is the Republic completely dead? Is the best hope that the Right has a Caesar who doesn’t prosecute or doesn’t go after us? Is there no way to actually revive some kind of … I’m not even talking about moving back within the bounds of the Constitution, but revive some civic bonds between Americans and some new structures in our politics that make it so that we are not so aggressively ruled by this bureaucratic class? I don’t know. I mean, I haven’t totally given up that that’s the case. I think there are still some moves that we can make before the whole thing is not even worth trying to save.

Emily Jashinsky:

There are definite policy ways to attack that. But they’re important in that culture is downstream of politics. I absolutely agree with that. I think the posture of Republicans is going to affect the culture. I think the policy can affect the culture, but I also think the culture should be the focal point, because again, I agree with you. We have the tools. I was thinking about exactly the dynamic you’re laying out in the context of journalism recently. I was reading, as I always do, Bari Weiss’s Substack, and just she was laying out … I think this was before she went on maternity leave … laying out the incredible successes of that newsletter, in terms of exposing corruption. That is one of the most popular newsletters on Substack.

An incredible blessing of the United States of America is, as much as we like to joke about state-owned media, NPR and PBS are relatively toothless compared to our flourishing media ecosystem, which is a hot mess in legacy outlets, but in new media outlets, really, is thriving, because there was a cultural appetite for the reporting that Bari put out, for the reporting that Matt Taibbi is doing. There is an audience for a lot of this stuff. The reason I was thinking this is because I really genuinely don’t think that there would’ve been the conversation that we ended up having about vaccines. As ridiculous as a lot of elites are still being about vaccines and masks, I feel like we would all be boosted and masked if we didn’t have new media. I was just thinking about that the other day.

I continue to think that we have tools greater than any civilization to start this process of healing and repairing and getting back to a good place, because we can talk about these things, and people want us to, because people want to be healthy and flourishing. There is demand there. I worry that we’re numbing ourselves, obviously, with Meta and everything, TV in general, Netflix, whatever. I do worry that we’re numbing ourselves. But no human wants to totally self-destruct. Nobody wants to totally self-destruct, as comfortable as it might be on a day-to-day basis. The same thing, I think, is intellectually true of our politics. We want to flourish. We want to be good. Because of that, I think an audience exists, and thankfully, we have the tools to talk about it. We have the tools to have these conversations. If there’s hope to be found, I think that’s a big source of it.

Inez Stepman:

Yeah. I agree with that. I really agree with that. I guess that is the one shred of optimism that I have left. I don’t think there’s no way back. I just think we’re very much close to a razor’s edge where there won’t be. Increasingly, I worry also about the second scenario on the other side. I worry about … not in the … I don’t like this dumb … Sorry. I just think it’s straight up dumb, this idea of, “Oh, the threats from the Left and the Right are the same.” I mean, one very clearly exercises an enormous amount of power.

What I am worried about is more of the Spanish Civil War scenario, where you have an ineffectual Right. Eventually, people get fed up with the ineffectual Right, not because they’re too radical, but because they aren’t radical enough to actually solve the deeper problems, and eventually, people do give up. They say, “Well, I’m pushed to the wall. My family’s pushed to the wall. I need somebody who’s going to push back.” Eventually, you do end up with just the Reds and the Blacks, exactly because the middle is not courageous enough, doesn’t want to get their hands at all, quote-unquote, “dirty,” doesn’t want to use every ounce of power they have to stop the threat, in this case, from the Left. You actually end up with a much more radical politics. I do fear that.

Emily Jashinsky:

Well, think about the word irredeemable. We focus on deplorables a lot, but I believe she said irredeemables and deplorables. Irredeemable makes people untouchable. It turns them into cultural lepers. When the people who are in power designate some half the country as a cultural leper, that does create incentives not to have these conversations and not to even dare flirt with the question of, oh, gosh, anything, the FBI being evil. I mean, we’re so on different planets that Morning Joe had Peter Strzok on to talk about why the FBI actually has credibility. That’s how different universes we’re in.

The Joe Scarboroughs of the world have a hell of a lot more power over the FBI, which is essentially administrative agency, than voters do, because these agencies are so vast and indirectly downstream of elected officials at this point. They’re so full of people who are very far removed from the electoral process, and that’s completely intentional. You see that in the way the Left defends careers, which is what you call people who work longterm at these agencies, so breathlessly. How dare you touch these public servants who are unelected and disconnected from the whims of voters and from the power of the vote? That’s how you end up in these totally different universes.

Inez Stepman:

Yeah. That’s really a good example. It’s a really good example. There’s a great Andrew Jackson speech where he goes-

Emily Jashinsky:

It’s just like, Inez, tell me you’re married to a historian without telling me you’re married to a historian.

Inez Stepman:

Yeah, this is definitely something my husband has taught me over the years. Andrew Jackson famously instituted what he called rotation in office, which I don’t think, by the way, is a bad framing for civil service reform even today. I think it probably sounds better than civil service reform. Rotation in office. He gave a speech in which he said, “Office is considered a species of property and government, rather as a means of promoting individual interests and as an instrument created solely for the service of a people.” That’s really what’s happened. I think that does blend the economic and class critique with the limited government critique, which is there is no rotation in office. Office is a species of property. He was not talking about politicians. He wasn’t talking about term limits on Congressman. He was talking about people who worked for the government. I really do think, in more ways than one, the best parallels to, especially in terms of solutions for our moment, are more found in the 19th century than in the 20th, perhaps because the solutions in the 20th century weren’t that great. Didn’t really work out so well for anyone.

Emily Jashinsky:

It’s really interesting to go back and, honestly, to read Marx and even Nietzsche. What they were reacting to reminds me … They’re reacting to this rapid industrialization. What’s happening right now is we have this rapid social mediafication, or rapid virtualization, of life. Rapid industrialization and rapid virtualization. They’re both reacting to globalism. Marx in particular was very critical of globalism. I think that’s why you see there are similar culture clashes that happened then, to what’s happening now. It’s true that we’re in this unprecedented period of 600 years, let alone 100 years, let alone 10 years. But some of the changes that were happening then were happening as fast and were as rapid and dramatic as they are now.

We weathered that storm. It was extremely difficult, but it did happen. Society weathered that storm. It was extremely difficult. We’re still dealing with it in many ways. But we went on for 100 years. There was a lot of prosperity in the West. There was a lot of tragedy in the West in the 20th century. There’s no question about it. But the world didn’t implode. There’s general order right now. So I don’t know. I mean, that’s not to downplay or dismiss any of the tragedy that happened in the 20th century, which was vast and unimaginable, largely because of technology. But there were solutions, and there were periods of prosperity that came after some of these terrible things.

Inez Stepman:

And that, folks, is why you don’t hang out with tankies.

Emily Jashinsky:

I guess that’s true.

Inez Stepman:

So, tankie lover Emily, speaking of socialists who are friends of the pod, our friend Batya Ungar-Sargon is getting absolutely reamed on the internet over her very statistically correct critique of the student loan bailout from the Left. That’s the other big news this month. We have an FBI that is prosecuting political opponents, and we have an administration that is, with the stroke of a pen, conducting class warfare, except that it appears to be class warfare on the way down, from the top to the bottom, through the Student Loan Forgiveness Program. Just to lay out some of the basics, this is $10,000 in student loan forgiveness for everyone who makes under $125,000 a year per person. That’s $250,000 per couple, which is certainly not even considered, I would say, middle class, but upper middle class. There’s $20,000 there if you qualify for Pell Grants, which really are low-income grants to go to college. It’s just a proxy for the truly low income.

This is skewed, intentionally so. Actually, the design of this bailout is trying to take a program or a policy that is inherently going to benefit the upper middle class overwhelmingly, and trying to wrench it through a series of qualifications towards more of the actual middle class, and even the lower end of the income spectrum. It’s not really succeeding in doing that, but it is more in that direction than most of the other bailout plans. For example, the Left is now pushing for a $50,000 bailout plan. This is not enough for them. That would skew much, much more heavily towards doctors and lawyers.

There’s also, of course, this phenomenon where oftentimes, in the beginning of one’s career, after taking out a lot of loans to get a medical legal degree, master’s, PhD, you end up having a couple years of almost intentionally low salary. In lawyers, in the legal world, you go and you clerk for a year or two. You’re making $75,000. But after clerking, you’re going into big law where the starting salary … I was recently informed I need to update my markers on this. It’s actually $215,000 now. The starting salary is $215,000 in big law, in most of these large firms. So there’s this phenomenon of temporarily poor, temporarily broke people.

I have to say this. This administration has really tried in this bailout to try to offset some of these consequences. They haven’t succeeded because, inherently, at the end of the day, people who have student loan debt are people who are coming overwhelmingly from the upper half of the income spectrum. That’s just the basics of this. But other bailout proposals are much more in that direction than this one. This one is about, as much as one can, to try to mitigate those consequences. In any case, there is this bailout that still disproportionately benefits people in the upper half of the income spectrum and screws some new groups of people, including people who did not go to college, the majority of people, who did not go to college, the people who paid off their student loans, people who made a lot of sacrifices, whether that’s not going to school, not going to the top school, going to community college in order to avoid taking on a lot of this kind of debt.

What do you think the politics of this bailout are actually going to look like? On the one hand, there’s already some backlash from even within the Democratic Party. People who are in more working class districts or swing districts that are already trending Republican, they are criticizing this plan, exactly on the class basis. On the flip side, it is a direct benefit to people, and people tend to like it when they get a check in the mail. How do you think this is going to shake out for the administration?

Emily Jashinsky:

I think they have no idea, no idea, how badly this is going to backfire at all. There are certain people I’ve heard from that I have never seen be more animated about politics, period. I mean, it’s unbridled rage with no ceiling, and I think reasonably so, because you have Joe Biden, who somehow has amassed great wealth despite being a public servant for most of his life, who, by the way, takes advantage of tax loopholes, just like a lot of … I shouldn’t even call them loopholes, but takes advantage of different parts of the tax code that can advantage wealthy people, while railing against other people who do the same.

Exactly as you just laid out, the people who didn’t go to college because it was too expensive, I mean, it’s one of these things that’s very hard for political scientists to quantify. I was talking to Ryan Grim earlier. He was like, “You cannot quantify vibes, basically, and politics runs on vibes.” I don’t think Democrats have any idea what they’ve unleashed with this. Republicans are already running ads on it. There was that interaction that Elizabeth Warren had with a dad in Iowa during the 2020 Dem primary where he just unloaded on her saying, “How is that fair? How is that fair?” There are millions of people around the country who feel the exact same way, and they’re not just Republican. They’re not just Independent.

What you’re completely correct in is that this particular policy was engineered very specifically to mitigate the class warfare element of it. There is literally no getting around the reality that it’s redistribution. There’s just no getting around it. What’s worse from a substantive perspective is that this is going to bankrupt more and more kids because it will immediately have an effect on the price of college. I mean, you follow these issues more closely than I do. But when you show that there’s absolutely no incentive to lower costs because this is a big bailout and a subsidy to higher education, of course, they’re just going to keep raising costs. They’ve seen that the government steps in and throws money at people who are suffering because they have never controlled the cost of higher education.

They’ve never provided an incentive to control the cost of higher education. It is a system that has failed people who are struggling under a mountain of debt, that in some cases was taken out by their own fault. It was really poor decision-making. In other cases, it was not. In other cases, it was what people were conditioned for years and years and years to see as the ticket into the middle class. They get out of college, and there are no jobs that require that degree, that they are now in debt to have paid for. It took four years of their lives and pushed a bad ideology on them, but that’s secondary in some respects, and this is what they have to show for it. Being underemployed. The numbers of people who are underemployed in their twenties are staggering, underemployed being measured in whether your job requires a degree. I mean, it’s just insane.

The sacrifice doesn’t look like just taking on debt. It looks like not going to college. It looks like going into the military. It looks like going to a less expensive school, even though you got into your dream school. It means so many different things. I think that was really hard to quantify, and I don’t think the Biden administration has any idea. Think of this. Nina Turner. I’ve interviewed Nina Turner and had perfectly nice interactions with her. She tweeted a laundry list of basically democratic socialists’ Christmas list policies. One of them was cancel rent. I don’t think the Biden administration has a damn clue what it’s flirting with when it starts to open the door to some of these policies. I think the public is going to give them a wake-up call on this one.

Inez Stepman:

Yeah. Here’s my critique, though. Here are the things I do actually agree with the Left on this issue on. As you mentioned, I’m a longterm critic of these bailouts, very vociferous and angry critic of these bailouts.

Emily Jashinsky:

Yes.

Inez Stepman:

But here are some points that I think the Left actually has it right on. One, this is not largely a personal responsibility issue. Yes, there are financially irresponsible 18-year-olds. Guess what? 30 or 40 years ago, 18-year-olds were also not very financially responsible. So I don’t think what’s happened in the last 20 or 30 years has been that we have just a higher proportion of 18-year-olds who are wildly irresponsible. I think what’s happened, the big change, is that the cost of college is no longer at all tied to the value of a degree. The second part that I agree with the Left on, frankly, is that the people we’re talking about, who are drowning under their student debt, largely are the ones who did what they were told was the responsible thing.

Emily Jashinsky:

Exactly.

Inez Stepman:

It wasn’t just being told that it was the responsible thing. In many ways, because of the overwhelming subsidy that we are giving to this one track of life, going to college and then getting a job after college, it requires a degree. We’re overwhelmingly subsidizing that, and we’re getting more of it. So a lot of these kids, especially kids who do come from, let’s say, working- or middle-class backgrounds, they’re looking at a very unpleasant choice, a Hobson’s choice, which is, on the one hand, you can go to university. You can take out six figures in debt for a job that, as you say, you will likely end up being underemployed. That same job might have been available at a very similar salary 15 years ago without a requirement of a degree. But the problem is now it does, because we have manufactured so many people with degrees that employers now feel that they can ask for a degree, even in jobs where the salary and the skillset is not commensurate with that degree. That’s one unpleasant choice.

The other unpleasant choice is you decide to forgo the debt, you go at it alone, but then you aren’t competing in an ever-shrinking market of jobs that don’t require a degree, with people who have degrees, because we’ve heavily subsidized them to have them. Nobody is going to win in this scenario. The real problem is the cost of college, which is, as you say, completely untethered from any kind of not only market forces, but any kind of sanity, because the government makes six-figure unsecured loans available to every 18-year-old who graduates from high school. Where I do agree with the Left is just it’s a little ridiculous to place it on the 18-year-old to say, “Well, that 18-year-old should have bucked the conventional wisdom of his parents and of society more generally, and should have bucked US Congress, which says, ‘Fill out the FAFSA. You qualify for all these loans.'” There’s a reason that no bank gives an unsecured $100,000 loan to an 18-year-old in any other context. There’s a reason. We would call those predatory loans. If these were in the private market, we would call it predatory loans.

To me, the big bad guys in all of us are the universities. They’re getting their money. They’re paid in real dollars. They’re pretend dollars when you’re an 18-year-old and you sign on the dotted line, but those are real dollars, and they’re going into real salaries and real paychecks for people in universities, which is why we have an explosion of the number of universities, compared to other European countries and so on. We have a much, much larger university sector. We spend many, many more times the number of people to college, which by the way, this is where, obviously, I depart strongly from the Left. If you want to socialize the university system, because they’re always like, “Oh, it’s free to go to university,” yeah, a very tiny percentage of people who are extremely well-qualified compared to US students go to university. It’s like the death panels thing that Sarah Palin got-

Emily Jashinsky:

Got to ration it.

Inez Stepman:

… reamed for. Right. Yeah. That’s a deep cut there. But Sarah Palin got reamed for saying that socialized healthcare necessarily requires death panels. Well, it does. You need to control costs somehow. But that’s the kind of in-between system we have in the US right now, where there’s no incentive to control costs on anybody’s account. I mean, I think the aspect of these bailouts that is so unfair is who is getting screwed in them and who is benefiting. Frankly, if we take out the people getting screwed from this and we swap in the people who benefited from it, aka, the universities, and we tax endowments to pay for this, I’m fine with it. But there needs to be some consequence for this on the university side.

Emily Jashinsky:

Yeah. You can’t do one without the other. You just really can’t. Ryan made an argument. I think he was tweeting at Robby Soave saying, “That’s like saying, ‘We can’t do loan forgiveness now until we fix the whole system.’ It’s like saying, ‘We can’t legalize marijuana now until the entire drug situation is fixed.'” Regardless of what you think of the merits of that argument, I think what’s important to realize is this decision actually immediately makes the whole situation much, much worse because it removes an incentive. Schools are learning that there are bailouts in the future and can thus continue to raise the cost of higher education.

Your distinction is a really important one, that bucking conventional wisdom. I mean, in a weird way, when you were talking, I was thinking about one of the big takeaways I’ve had on immigration recently, which is that, if you hear me out for just a moment, there are little concession stands, food carts, little economies built up along the routes that a lot of migrants take, veins into Mexico from Central America, through South America, central America and Mexico. There are these tiny little ecosystems that have become utterly dependent on this basically route that people are taking because they know that they can cross the border. They’re dependent on immigrants believing that they can get into the United States. Then the incentives become really … I mean, those countries, part of their economy is now dependent on all of these people, hundreds of thousands of people, crossing through these different parts of Mexico every single year.

In a way, if you think about college, it is baked into the infrastructure of American life. People who don’t go to college are bucking the conventional wisdom. My high school, which was halfway rural, halfway suburban, basically treated people like losers if they didn’t go to college. The entire conditioning was that to make a life out of yourself, everything you do between the time you enter kindergarten as a five-year-old and you leave by the time you’re 18, is to get into college. The implication is, well, if I fail … I mean, anyone can pretty much get into college now, but if I don’t go to college, am I a piece of garbage? Yes. That is literally the implication of the social public government conditioning, cultural conditioning.

Plus, it’s how people are told that they will meet their spouses. It’s how people are told they mature. This is how parents expect their children to mature and to develop professional whatever. The friendships for the rest of their lives. I mean, asking people to give that up because they can’t afford it, and the government is offering them a $100,000 to pursue their dreams? I don’t know if you remember the movie “A Cinderella Story,” where she really wants to go to Princeton. You know what I mean? We’ve told people that these big schools are dreams. This is a fairytale. It’s just insane. We’ve built young people’s lives in large part around it. A lot of people don’t go to college. That’s still a blind spot for the Left. But a lot of people do. The people who don’t are bucking conventional wisdom, to your point. I think that’s a really, really, really important point of emphasis.

Inez Stepman:

Yeah. It really is putting an enormous amount of pressure, both cultural and financial, especially … actually, exactly on the middle class, largely. The working class, it just makes up a smaller percentage of students on campus who come from working-class families than when we started this whole loan mess in the Great Society. In other words, the programs designed specifically to send the bright children of the working class to university have locked them out. Largely, they don’t benefit from this because they didn’t go to college.

Now, obviously, there’s lots of individual exceptions to this. But just statistically, if you look at this, the people getting squeezed the most by this Hobson’s choice are the middle class, because as you say, they’re the ones who know that this is the way to advance in the American dream, is to send their kids to the best university they can. The financial requirements to do that without drowning in debt are going up every year. I think Oren Cass has a chart with the three or four biggest pressures on middle-class families. It’s rent or mortgage, the cost of housing, the cost of healthcare, and the cost of university. But increasingly, it’s very, very difficult because this is a policy choice, I guess, is what I want to emphasize. It is a policy choice to so heavily subsidize this. It has, in many ways, created a culture that makes people feel that they can’t say no to it as well.

Emily Jashinsky:

That culture was created by political rhetoric, by elite rhetoric. They’re very much to blame for creating that expectation.

Inez Stepman:

Obama. We want everyone to go to college by 2060 or something. I can’t remember what he said. But the goal was 100% college attendance.

Emily Jashinsky:

Yeah. God only knows what that did. I’m not trying to jump the gun, but I do think this is a bridge, or it connects with something else we were planning to talk about, which is the rethinking or the reconsideration of sexual libertine youths, the ideology of a youth spent as a sexual libertine, because instead of aiming to get married after high school, as you enter adulthood, we put this buffer period, those four years of college where women are supposed to discover themselves and do whatever the hell else. God only knows what that’s done to our marriage rates and rates of family formation. It’s a hard thing to disentangle those variables. But surely, it’s a part of that as well.

Inez Stepman:

Yeah. Absolutely. I was going to transition. You did it better than I would. Yeah. It’s not just the four-year buffer zone because the same credentialing treadmill applies to higher degrees. Now that the middle class is struggling to get a four-year degree, get bachelor’s, now the upper middle class, the new bachelor’s is the master’s or the PhD or the law degree or the medical degree. So it is extending that buffer period in a way that’s biologically untenable for women in terms of having families. There’s a limited window where women are able to have children. Now it’s not just the four years. It’s not like people are coming out at 22. If you are in the upper middle class in America, you’re almost certainly going to some kind of program after that. That’s minimum. If it’s a master’s, it’s another two years. You maybe worked a year or two in between.

This is a very typical track, where you don’t actually finish your education until you’re in your late twenties. Then, if you don’t happen to meet someone along that way, who, by the way, can move with you, because that requires a lot of movement around the country. If you don’t happen to meet somebody along the way and get lucky in that way, then you start hunting for somebody. You start purposefully dating for somebody that you want to spend your life with in your late twenties. That is a timeline that leaves a very narrow track for women biologically, to end up with a husband and family. It doesn’t impact men the same way, who can have kids at 50.

Emily Jashinsky:

It’s hand in glove with what we’re talking about, in terms of this idea that sexual promiscuity is empowering for women because it puts them on the same plane as men. That really emerged out of the logic of feminists in the ’60s and ’70s, and has really taken hold in this fourth wave period, although there are a number of pieces now, starting with the Buzzfeed one we talked about last year, about how Gen Z is rethinking sex positivity. That was the headline. It goes hand in glove with that, because if you have this very rigid progression of how life is supposed to go, you are too young to get married. When you’re 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, you have college ahead of you. You have all of these experiences after college, as you’re just making your own way through the world.

If you do that, you’re filling that time in other ways. You’re encouraged to fill that time in other ways. They’re not with monogamy. They’re with ways that have really profoundly psychologically damaged women, absolutely profoundly psychologically damaged women, physically left them beyond the point where they can have as many children as they want. Lyman Stone has been documenting how American women are having fewer children than they say they want. I guarantee you that’s because of both the psychological damage and the physical aspect of forming your family too late to have as many children as you want, and the lack of civic society that allows women. If you’re moving around a lot, childcare is more expensive, harder to find because you’re not next to your parents or your in-laws or your sisters or your brothers, whatever it is. This cultural obsession with the progression of higher education into the sexual libertine years of your twenties, I’m actually really heartened by the level of reconsideration that we’ve seen happen quickly. Just in the past two years, it’s been okay for people to start questioning this publicly without being called whatever terrible name.

Inez Stepman:

Conservative.

Emily Jashinsky:

I’m heartened by-

Inez Stepman:

Traditional horrible words like that.

Emily Jashinsky:

Yeah, exactly. It’s like everyone who ever dared question it before was compared with Phyllis Schlafly. By the way, first of all, I love Phyllis Schlafly. But second of all, it was an untouchable thing. It was another cultural leper talking point. So I’m actually really, really heartened. I don’t know about you, but I’m really heartened by all of the reconsiderations we’ve seen start to … It’s like the floodgates are opening.

Inez Stepman:

Yeah. I think one way that this sexual cold war might at least start to thaw a little bit is probably by people … and I’m not generally in favor of this first-person confessional style, but is probably people actually telling the stories of regret. Here I’m thinking about this fantastic piece by our friend Bridget Phetasy, who’s going to be on this pod soon to talk about this and other stuff. She wrote this amazing Substack piece. It’s called I Regret Being A Slut. It is so honest and clear-eyed and, really, I don’t use this word very often, but brave. It is really brave in looking back at her psychology throughout the years and looking at the consequences of it.

I think you’re right. I do think that there’s some dam breaking. It’s now okay to talk about stories of regret. But I could see this cutting one way or the other. I could see this being essentially a flash in the pan, because the real question here is, as you’ve said many times, millennials are the first generation, not the first generation to live with the sexual revolution, but the first generation where the sexual revolution became the default. It became the mainstream. We’re also the first generation to reach … Well, now the older millennials are cresting 40. We are on track to become the generation that has the highest proportion of unmarried and childless people in human history.

I just don’t know what’s going to happen when I guess what the manosphere calls the wall, but it is like a wall, when that wall hits in a generational way. I could see it going either way. I could see it being a new era of trying to explain the regrets and try to actually deter younger women particularly from following the same path. Or I could see it being the “Eat Pray Love” explosion. I’ve seen this already from Hollywood. There was some dumb movie which I didn’t watch, so maybe I shouldn’t call it dumb, but it had Emma Thompson, who’s a fantastic actress. I can’t remember. It was called the name of her gigolo or whatever. It’s about a woman in her late sixties who hires a male prostitute, and it’s supposed to be the most intense and interesting period of her life or whatever.

I wonder if we’ll just double down on it, and we just become the boomers number two, with our boomer selfishness crystallized into millennial narcissism, and we just write a bunch of, whatever, Modern Love New York Times essays about how it’s actually better to completely to Eat Pray Love around the world and to live completely alone and have no actual deep attachments to other human beings, even as you get older. I don’t know which way that’s going to go because there’s such a powerful capacity for self-rationalization. Right?

Emily Jashinsky:

Yeah. This is what we were talking about earlier. It’s a hedonism. To the extent hedonism is about pleasure over fulfillment, or it conflates pleasure with fulfillment, I think it really does give way to nihilism. I think that’s where a lot of people are right now. Nick Eberstadt is out with a new addition of his book, “Men Without Work,” for the end of the pandemic or after the pandemic. Basically, he’s like, “Now it’s work without men.” You have this army of men who are in working years, that are out of the workforce and report spending tons and tons of time on screens. If it’s easy to just get by on a little bit, get by on these stimulus checks that you saved up or whatever money you can make from driving Uber a few days a week, and you’re in your parents’ basement, which, also, I don’t have a problem with people living with their parents. That’s one of my unpopular takes.

Inez Stepman:

We’ll have that debate sometime-

Emily Jashinsky:

Yeah.

Inez Stepman:

… because I maintain the Anglo-American way is superior.

Emily Jashinsky:

It is. It’s very American. Conservatives scoff at people who live with their parents. It’s actually very natural and healthy. I guess it depends on what your expectations are. You should have the dignity of work, but if you have that thing already covered and you’re not just leaching off your parents, it’s wonderful to be close to them and to save money for a house and a family and whatever else. Okay. That’s for another time.

Inez Stepman:

Next time. Yeah. Next month we’ll have that debate or something.

Emily Jashinsky:

Yeah. Well, also … Okay. I won’t even get into it. Where was I going? Sorry. I’ve forgotten my train of thought.

Inez Stepman:

Just that we’re all going to die alone and unhappy. The question is, will we rationalize the next generation into following the same track out of the old adage that misery loves company?

Emily Jashinsky:

Well, yeah. What I was going to say is one of the most detestable truisms in politics and culture is the moral arc of the universe is long, and it bends towards justice. That is absurd. The moral arc of the universe is indeed long, but it bends towards humanity, and humans are by nature fallen. We have a lot of really bad instincts. We have some great ones, like the need for the biological touch and attachment and community. These are some really good and healthy human needs. We will also pound as much junk food as we can until we get sick. It’s engineered to bring us physical pleasure in the moment, and we get chemically addicted to it in the same way that we get addicted to nicotine, in the same way we get addicted to caffeine, in the same way we get addicted to social media.

The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends towards humans being humans. Humans reproduce. Humans are largely monogamous. Humans couple in the same types of ways. If you’re not watching this and you’re listening to it, Inez just did, “Eh,” with her hand. I’m not so sure humans are largely monogamous.

Inez Stepman:

Actually, I had this debate late on a Saturday night last weekend with some friends. But no, I think human nature actually tends towards the harem model, where women are hypergamous and men are not monogamous and spread. They take the shotgun approach. Women go for a select top men who are able to provide very easily for their children and have certain dominant traits. What monogamy is, is an artificial construction of society that has built stable and lasting societies in a way that human nature does not. We have, of course, forgotten all those lessons. Actually, that’s a good way to close with the other aspect of what’s in the news. This topic is, of course, Andrew Tate.

Emily Jashinsky:

Who I’m just learning about, by the way.

Inez Stepman:

Yeah. I did not know. I think it just shows our age, too, because I think he’s a TikTok phenomenon, as opposed to some of the other social media.

Emily Jashinsky:

I think if we were … and I say this offense intended … ignorant enough to be on TikTok, we would probably know who Andrew Tate is, because that algorithm would be serving us up plenty of anti-woman content.

Inez Stepman:

Which, by the way, I don’t know if we’ll have time to talk about it, but Emily has a fantastic piece about TikTok and about their new Elections Center that is essentially mainlining our elections to the CCP. One might consider that potential foreign interference into elections. Regrettably, we’re not talking about it at all. Yeah. Andrew Tate is, I think, giving the pre-Christian revolution advice, which is, and I guess that’s … There’s a really great piece in Compact Magazine by Louise Perry who has this new book on the sexual revolution, where I think she rightly argues … Now, she says that feminism is a descendant of Christianity. That may be true. It may not be true. I’m not exactly well versed enough in Christian theology to say. Essentially, what she points to is-

Emily Jashinsky:

She says feminism is what?

Inez Stepman:

… the redheaded stepchild of Christianity, that feminism couldn’t arise in any other world than a certain softening of the state of nature between men and women-

Emily Jashinsky:

How very Nietzsche.

Inez Stepman:

… that really was the invention of Christianity. It’s an interesting piece. I recommend it. But I think she’s right to point to, just like Nate Hochman, I think, is right to point to the fact that the Post-religious Right may be in many ways more aggressive, more scary to the Left, than the Religious Right. I think that the post-religious sexual market is going to be even uglier than what we’ve seen so far and that feminist ideology isn’t going to be a strong enough opponent for the Andrew Tates of the world, simply because women do respond to that kind of behavior. You can punish guys socially all you want. But at the end of the day, if this kind of behavior is what gets you laid, you’re not going to make too much headway with your reasoned arguments.

Emily Jashinsky:

What was the recent catalyst for why Andrew Tate is in the headlines right now? What was it that did it?

Inez Stepman:

That’s the other scary aspect of this. They just decided. There’s no one particular thing. They just decided. I mean, he has videos about when to strike women, how to choke them out during sex. I mean, it’s manosphere stuff, but it’s also the most extreme and disgusting version of it. I mean, he really seems like a creep, frankly. But the part of the scary thing is it doesn’t seem to be any particular thing. It wasn’t like this tweet or this video violates our terms of service. It was just this guy is bad in general, let’s unperson him, which was an evolution from the censorship in the past, where there’s always this fig leaf of, oh, you violated this term of service, even though it’s enforced completely unfairly and politically.

Emily Jashinsky:

Yeah. To me, that gets back to what you were talking about earlier, this idea that people cannot handle bad ideas, that the public needs to be handheld by their betters in the elite, through the discourse. The discourse needs to be narrowed to an extent that people can handle because people are not decent enough to look at an Andrew Tate and be like, “Bro, what are you doing?” Which, of course, they are because it’s happening right now. Even if someone has a really small following on the manosphere, the Left blows it wildly out of proportion and ends up making it bigger. It’s the same thing they did with QAnon. By blowing it wildly out of proportion, they made it bigger. They drew attention to it. They made it seem untouchable and sexy in that way. They’re worsening all of the problems by doing that stuff.

Your point about Hochman’s piece is so smart, I think, because it is going, really, into really dangerous territory. It’s going into Barstool Dave Portnoy territory. Sure, Nate wrote about Barstool conservatism, and Saagar Enjeti’s has done a lot of this, too, on how this is basically more of a Barstool Republican Party than a Trump Republican Party, that the Barstool demographic is the Trump demographic, but it’s different than the Religious Right in some really interesting and important ways.

I’ve been reading “The Gay Science” recently, which is Nietzsche’s collection of thoughts. It’s pretty interesting because the famous “God is dead” line from Nietzche, it wasn’t as though he was declaring … I mean, a lot of people obviously know this. People understand it. He’s not declaring, “This is the moment of atheism.” He was saying it in the context of the moment, of atheism is stripping everything away. This is just over. This is what, between 100-150 years ago? He was like, “Beware what happens when …” He’s like, “The infrastructure of the West is Christian. God is dead, and we killed him. That means that this infrastructure is going to come crumbling down, and scorched Earth is going to be a new world. We do not have a godless infrastructure, and it’s about to get weird.”

That’s, of course, where the Übermensch comes into play. That idea went in a really bad direction, obviously, in the 20th century. But I feel like, to the point about Hochman’s New York Times piece, the Left should absolutely be taking note of that. When you strip away truth, when you strip away truth in and of itself, we are scorched Earth. There are no boundaries. What comes out of the reactionary side, part of that is going to be really dangerous.

Inez Stepman:

Yeah. I mean, Andrew Tate is not … One of the points Louise makes in her piece is that Andrew Tate probably would feel quite at home in the ancient world.

Emily Jashinsky:

I think he knows that.

Inez Stepman:

I mean, I think he’s a loser, personally. I don’t think he would last very long in the ancient world, in the sense that he is, in the end of the day, at least from the few videos I’ve watched, pretty modern and soft, and psychologically in certain ways, does seem very LARP-y, very puffery vibe to it. So I’m not sure I agree. But his ideas would be very much at home in the ancient world, in a pre-Christian world. So I guess, once again, the Left should be careful what it wishes for.

I think, with that, we’ll probably wrap it up here. Before I wrap up, I just want to direct people to a couple of our other IW products. We have She Thinks, which is a more policy-oriented podcast with Beverly Hallberg. Just great policy-oriented conversations with especially politicians and policy wonks. If you are interested in doing a deep dive into particular policy issues, I would highly recommend it.

There’s also something called At the Bar, which I actually do with my colleague, Jennifer Braceras of Independent Women’s Law Center. We talk about issues at the intersection of law, politics, and culture. We actually just interviewed Erin Murphy, who had to leave, with Paul Clement, her woke law firm, for winning. Usually, law firms very happy to have a victory in the Supreme Court, except she had a victory on the Second Amendment, which doesn’t make a lot of these woke law firms very happy. That was a great conversation. Recommend At the Bar for folks.

With that, Emily, thank you for another great episode of High Noon After Dark. Thank you to our listeners. High Noon with Inez Stepman is a production of the Independent Women’s Forum. As always, you can send comments and questions [email protected] Please help us out by hitting the subscribe button and leaving us a comment or review on Apple Podcasts, Acast, Google Play, YouTube, or iwf.org. Be brave. We’ll see you next time on High Noon.