A list of unpopular or fringe-ish ideas about social norms.

There's the unpopular idea about high-income earners:

It should be considered shameful to earn more than $100,000/yr and not give everything above that to charity

To the one about privatizing marriage:

We should privatize marriage. Let anyone marry whomever and however many people they want — just draw up a contract to define the terms of the relationship(s) as you choose. There’s no good reason for the government to be involved in this.

To the extremely relevant one about leaders cognitive ability:

People in senior positions should continuously have their cognition tested, to monitor possible decline of fluid intelligence, alertness and judgment.

Unpopular ideas about social norms
I’ve been compiling lists of “unpopular ideas,” things that seem weird or bad to most people (at least, to most educated urbanites in the United States, which is the demographic I…

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21 Comments.

  1. I'd also test company CEOs for hints of psychopathology.

  2. I'm surprised by the $100K one. I thought that would be popular.

  3. Privatized marriage, as defined, means a complete loss of rights for spouses. We'd lose things like family health care, exemption to estate taxes, etc. Some degree of removing government makes sense, but that simplified idea just wouldn't work.

  4. +Jimmy Brokaw I don't see why that has to be the case.

  5. +Dustin Wyatt​ If you reduce marriage to a context between two or more people, but not including the government, then there is no government involvement – therefore you've lost any benefits the government provides to married couples, as the government is no longer a party to the contract.

    A very simple example is estate tax – if I die, my possessions belong to my wife, without any trip through probate court or estate taxes. If I leave my possessions to anyone else, then they can be taxed. This is because the government treats married couples differently.

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  7. +Jimmy Brokaw I don't think anyone calling for this is calling for no government involvement in the manner you speak of. After all, contracts are useless without a government.

    If I write a marriage contract, I write it so that my estate goes to my spouse.

  8. +Dustin Wyatt​​ You can do that right now. There is no law whatsoever preventing two or more people from writing a contract defining their relationship, to include inheritance rights. In the forty one states that don't define common law marriage, you can even call yourselves married without legal consequences.

    But when you die, and your spouse gets everything as you declared in the contract, she'll find she owes inheritance tax on it, because the government charges inheritance tax except within a government recognized marriage. Likewise, you won't be able to file joint tax returns unless you have a government marriage. If you die, your spouse won't get survivor social security based on your income, either. The reality is a great number of the benefits of marriage aren't contracted between two people, but rather a benefit the government chooses to confer into couples they view as married. If anyone can declare themselves married without government intervention, then those benefits are placed in limbo. People can't just choose to sign contracts that obligate the government to do things.

  9. Yes, and that's what proponents of this change advocate for…that all these things should be contractable. From the standpoint of someone advocating for this, marriage shouldn't be a privilege conferred by the state. The state should have the legal structure to allow marriage to be done by contract.

  10. +Dustin Wyatt​ And that's why the idea remains an unpopular one. If marriage is not conferred by the state, then all state-conferred privileges of marriage are eliminated.

    As I said, in most states it's already legal to do exactly what you propose. What cannot be done, however, is eliminate the state's involvement in creating the marriage while simultaneously obligating the state to confer benefits to marriage.

    So what the proposal really boils down to is the elimination of state benefits to marriage.

  11. I disagree. The proposal boils down to removing the states role as a gatekeeper in whether someone should or should not be married. In this hypothetical world, all the rights that the state confers to a spouse would continue to exist but would be entered into at will with no state involvement other than enforcement of contract terms.

    No marriage benefits are lost in every version of these sorts of proposals I've read of.

    When people say "no government involvement" they are referring to the government role as a gatekeeper.

    Whether there are tax benefits to a marriage contract is a completely separate issue.

  12. +Dustin Wyatt​ You can't isolate the issues – they are one and the same.

    If the government has no involvement in deciding who is and isn't married, then the government cannot treat married and unmarried people differently. It's trivial to imagine examples of how that could be abused otherwise.

    To stick with the estate tax issue, you're fundamentally arguing that anyone can avoid paying estate tax simply by signing a contract with another party agreeing that when they die, their assets will pass to the other party without being taxed. If anyone could sign such a contract, then everyone would do so, and estate tax would cease to exist.

    Similarly, survivor benefits for social security… If people could designate anyone (and as many people as they wanted) to receive said benefits, then it would be impossible to stop people from selling their benefits. Why not?

    I repeat myself – marriage as a contract between two (or more) people is already legal. What this "unpopular idea" seeks is the absurd idea that people could write a contract that obligates the government to confer benefits, without giving the government the right to decide whether to agree to the contract.

    If you want a contract that obligates a party to do something, that party must be a party to the contract and agree to it.

  13. Yes, that is exactly what people are arguing for.

  14. +Dustin Wyatt​ And that's why it's an unpopular idea – it's a dumb one. To make it work, and not have absurd results, you would have to eliminate all benefits of marriage. That's not going to be a popular idea.

    It's really the sort of idea that gains traction among the group of people who believe any government benefits awarded to anyone who isn't them is a bad thing. Mostly that group consists of bitter libertarians who complain that all taxation is theft. Those of us who agree that taxation is a necessary evil, and believe taxation should be progressive and fair, tend to also believe that someone supporting a family should pay fewer taxes than someone supporting nobody but earning the same income. To do that, the government must decide which marriages do and don't qualify as legitimate. Since the government decides how much you pay based on marriage, they need to be the gatekeeper of what qualifies as marriage, at least as it applies to them.

  15. Nah, most everyone I've seen who argues for this think tax free estate transfer is not good.

  16. Documentary Film "Human Harvest" Shown in Mexico and Indonesia

    October 06, 2016 | By Falun Gong practitioners in Mexico and Indonesia

    (Minghui.org) The documentary film Human Harvest was shown to the public for the first time at the National Autonomous University of Mexico on August 24, 2016. The university’s Human Rights Research Center invited teachers and students to watch the film.

    The film, which exposes the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) state-sanctioned organ harvesting from living Falun Gong practitioners, has earned a Peabody Award. Canadian lawyer David Matas and former Member of Parliament David Kilgour have conducted investigations of the CCP's live organ harvesting, and found that Falun Gong practitioners are killed for organs systemically in the CCP's brutal campaign against practitioners.

    Doctors Against the Forced Organ Harvesting (DAFOH) announced that the first International Day Against the Forced Organ Harvesting would be October 1, 2016, to mark the global call to the United Nations for an end to forced organ harvesting from Falun Gong and other prisoners of conscience.

    Documentary film Human Harvest shown at the National Autonomous University of Mexico.

    A representative from Doctors Against the Forced Organ Harvesting in Mexico speaks at the screening.

    Dr. Luis de la Barreda, coordinator of the Human Rights Research Center at the National Autonomous University of Mexico.

    Dr. Luis de la Barreda, coordinator of the Human Rights Research Center at the university, watched the film, and commented, “The most horrible thing is that the victim is still alive when vital organs are harvested.” He indicated that he was appalled.

    Dr. Barreda said that Mexicans do not know much about the illegal organ trafficking in China. He signed the petition from the DAFOH calling on the United Nations to take action to stop the live organ harvesting.

    Film Shown to Public in Batam, Indonesia

    The documentary film Human Harvest was shown to public on October 1 in Batam, Indonesia.

    Documentary film Human Harvest shown in Batam, Indonesia.

    Questions and answers after the show.

    Doctors, reporters, and medical students watched the film, and many of them signed the DAFOH petition to the UN. Some viewers expressed that this film should be shown more often to the public. One doctor said that Indonesia should set up some code to stop the illegal organ trafficking.

  17. +Dustin Wyatt​ Yes, but then they're arguing for two mutually exclusive positions at the same time. You can't retain estate tax with a spousal exception and turn marriage into a contract with no government regulation. It's impossible.