The Corner

U.S.

The Chump Effect

Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren talks to reporters outside her house about the end of her campaign for U.S. president after informing her staff that she is withdrawing from the 2020 U.S. presidential race in Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S., March 5, 2020. (REUTERS/Brian Snyder)

James B. Meigs, the former editor of Popular Mechanics who lately has been writing an insightful column about tech for Commentary, is also doing superb work for City Journal. His latest essay carries a title that is useful shorthand for so much of what is going on around us today: “The Chump Effect.” (At the moment the essay appears to be available only for subscribers to the print edition of the quarterly, which is publishing the best long-form journalism from a center-right perspective that I’m aware of. It’s shocking that, in an era when ordinary weeklies sell for eight bucks or so, this high-impact, 128-page journal with no filler, no ads, and no celebrity fluff costs as little as $5 an issue.)

The Chump Effect is Meigs’s clever term for the bipartisan, broadly shared feeling that various systems are rigged in favor of elites, insiders, and favored groups, which leads to a breakdown in societal trust and trust in institutions. If those guys don’t have to play by the rules, we think, why should I? Meigs delves into social-science experiments that show people motivated by the Chump Effect can act irrationally by effectively volunteering to pay a cost in order that others be punished for ignoring norms.

The political implications of the Chump Effect are obvious: Meigs begins with the story of a man who asked Elizabeth Warren if he, who scrimped to put his child through college, would be entitled to a refund under her proposed new system to forgive student loans. “Of course not,” was Warren’s response. The man was furious: He was being made a chump. Elites such as Warren blithely ignore the anger they generate among people who dutifully follow the rules every time they suggest a carve-out for whatever politically powerful group they seek to appease and flatter. “You’re laughing at me,” the man told Warren. In effect, she was, by suggesting a large class of people be rewarded for indolence, lack of discipline, poor planning, and miscalculating the cost-to-benefit ratio of higher education. A society that creates favored groups is a society that creates chumps, and a society of chumps is an angry society.

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

Biden’s Unhelpful Mask Stance

On the menu today: Joe Biden brings his own problems to the national stage, declaring that he wants Americans to wear masks until the end of his first 100 days in office -- well after the 100 million most vulnerable Americans will be vaccinated! -- and warns that the nation’s death toll from the pandemic will ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Biden’s Unhelpful Mask Stance

On the menu today: Joe Biden brings his own problems to the national stage, declaring that he wants Americans to wear masks until the end of his first 100 days in office -- well after the 100 million most vulnerable Americans will be vaccinated! -- and warns that the nation’s death toll from the pandemic will ... Read More
Media

‘The Children of Pornhub’

In a lengthy reported piece for the New York Times out today, columnist Nicholas Kristof tells the stories of children who were raped or sexually abused and who had videos of their mistreatment uploaded to the Internet pornography site Pornhub. From Kristof’s reporting: Its site is infested with rape videos. ... Read More
Media

‘The Children of Pornhub’

In a lengthy reported piece for the New York Times out today, columnist Nicholas Kristof tells the stories of children who were raped or sexually abused and who had videos of their mistreatment uploaded to the Internet pornography site Pornhub. From Kristof’s reporting: Its site is infested with rape videos. ... Read More
Elections

About the ‘Suitcase’ Video

The video is more powerful than anything the Trump team has come up with to this point because (1) it’s video, which is always more powerful; (2) the story seemingly told by the snippet so intuitively lines up with the fraud narrative — Republican observers are asked to leave late at night and then, boom, new ... Read More
Elections

About the ‘Suitcase’ Video

The video is more powerful than anything the Trump team has come up with to this point because (1) it’s video, which is always more powerful; (2) the story seemingly told by the snippet so intuitively lines up with the fraud narrative — Republican observers are asked to leave late at night and then, boom, new ... Read More
World

Trump Pulls American Troops Out of Somalia

President Trump on Friday ordered almost all American troops to be withdrawn from Somalia, following similar reductions in U.S. military presence in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Pentagon announced that the majority of the approximately 700 troops in Somalia will leave the area by January 15. Many are expected to ... Read More
World

Trump Pulls American Troops Out of Somalia

President Trump on Friday ordered almost all American troops to be withdrawn from Somalia, following similar reductions in U.S. military presence in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Pentagon announced that the majority of the approximately 700 troops in Somalia will leave the area by January 15. Many are expected to ... Read More
Elections

The Post-Election Madness Gets Worse

On the menu today: Two lawyers who aren’t formally on the president’s legal team but who keep filing lawsuits on his behalf tell Georgia Republicans to not vote in the Senate runoffs; Michael Flynn endorses a call for “limited martial law” and a “re-vote” of the presidential election; and the ... Read More
Elections

The Post-Election Madness Gets Worse

On the menu today: Two lawyers who aren’t formally on the president’s legal team but who keep filing lawsuits on his behalf tell Georgia Republicans to not vote in the Senate runoffs; Michael Flynn endorses a call for “limited martial law” and a “re-vote” of the presidential election; and the ... Read More
White House

Trump’s Disgraceful Endgame

President Trump said the other day that he’d leave office if he loses the vote of the Electoral College on December 14. This is not the kind of assurance presidents of the United States typically need to make, but it was noteworthy given Trump’s disgraceful conduct since losing his bid for reelection to ... Read More
White House

Trump’s Disgraceful Endgame

President Trump said the other day that he’d leave office if he loses the vote of the Electoral College on December 14. This is not the kind of assurance presidents of the United States typically need to make, but it was noteworthy given Trump’s disgraceful conduct since losing his bid for reelection to ... Read More