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David Thompson
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January 03, 2012

Comments

Rafi

David,

Re: common shortcomings of our tenured intelligentsia...

"Columbia University will offer a new course for upperclassmen and grad students next semester. An Occupy Wall Street class will send students into the field and will be taught by Dr. Hannah Appel, a veteran of the Occupy movement. The course begins next semester and will be divided between class work at Columbia’s Morningside Heights campus and fieldwork that will require students to become involved with the Occupy movement outside of the classroom. The course will be called “Occupy the Field: Global Finance, Inequality, Social Movement.” It will be run by the anthropology department. […] Appel told the New York Post that while her involvement with the movement will colour the way she teaches, it will not prevent her from being an objective teacher."

http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2012/01/01/new-class-at-columbia-focuses-on-occupy-wall-street/

David

Rafi,

“…fieldwork that will require students to become involved with the Occupy movement outside of the classroom… Appel told the New York Post that while her involvement with the movement will colour the way she teaches, it will not prevent her from being an objective teacher.”

Thanks for that. Added to this.

There ain’t no chutzpah quite like leftist academic chutzpah.

Patrick Brown

In any case, the main beneficiaries of such high rates of housing benefit are private landlords. Housing Benefit and the selling off of public housing, both inventions of the Thatcher government, combine to increase the cost of housing, whether rented or bought, to the benefit of people who own multiple properties and no-one else (if you only own one property, it doesn't benefit you that the its "value" has gone up, because if you sell it you'll need somewhere else to live, and its value will have gone up as well).

The other obvious problem is, if you're working and renting and you lose your job, your landlord can whack the rent up to the maximum he can claim on housing benefit, meaning you can't take a job at your previous rate because you won't be able to afford the rent, so you're trapped on benefits.

Any left worth its salt would be up in arms at all this, but little Laurie "I wanna live like common people" Penny and co are much more concerned with protecting the landlord class - their own class - rather than ensuring working people can afford somewhere to live.

Ian F4

"So, as you can clearly see, we Republicans - who don’t want your money - are greedy, and the people who do want to take all of your money, the Democrats, are benign and generous."

Human history is replete with authoritarian rulers taking money in tax and spending it, often with disastrous results, yet those who want more of the same are called "progressives" ?!

Anna

“Where is the social justice in paying welfare benefits to people that are higher than the majority of the tax paying working people’s take home pay?”

This family claims £2000 a week in housing benefit - one hundred grand a year.

But it's the £20,000 cap that's outrageous...

David

Patrick,

“In any case, the main beneficiaries of such high rates of housing benefit are private landlords.”

And private landlords, like most people, generally respond to incentives. So wouldn’t capping exorbitant housing benefits tend, if anything, to reduce rents? The basic question being posed is whether it’s defensible, let alone “progressive,” to pay some welfare recipients (and via them, private landlords) more in a single benefit than the majority of working people earn in total.

TDK

I have to recommend the full Iowahawks Heart of Darkness spoof, which is only linked to in WmBriggs post. It really is good.

carbon based lifeform

Dan Hannan:

"Although total public spending is scheduled to fall very marginally over the lifetime of this parliament, it has so far risen in every month since the general election. Yet, so embedded is the notion of 'Tory cuts' that most commentators have convinced themselves that these imagined reductions are causing a recession. Looking at the actual data would force them to confront the uncomfortable truth that our economic problems stem from our debt level and our perversely high inflation rate. And this, in turn, might prompt an even more uncomfortable conclusion: that the only way to balance the books is through actual cuts."

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/danielhannan/100126316/however-much-the-government-spends-it-will-still-be-attacked-for-the-cuts/

rabbit

The Democrats have mostly ceded rural America -- and those urban parts of America that identify with rural America -- to the Republicans. I don't know how they think they can do this and win a lot of elections. For people who are supposed to be so smart, they sure are dumb.

Patrick Brown

David: "So wouldn’t capping exorbitant housing benefits tend, if anything, to reduce rents?"

I would have thought so. If they do it gradually - say by setting the cap initially high but not uprating it in line with inflation or increases in minimum wage - they might even do it without causing too much pain to either landlords or tenants.

On another point:

"So, as you can clearly see, we Republicans - who don’t want your money - are greedy, and the people who do want to take all of your money, the Democrats, are benign and generous."

I think that's oversimplifying things. The right may make a lot of noise about shrinking the state in opposition, but very few, if any, governments of the right actually do it. The left promises to use the power of the state to help the needy, the right promises to shrink the state and get out of people's lives, but in practice governments of the left and right both use the power of the state to enrich their friends - and both have the same tendency towards populist authoritarianism.

David

Patrick,

“I think that’s oversimplifying things.”

It’s a broad generalisation, yes. But Whittle highlights the peculiar ways in which terms such as “greedy” and “fascist” are used, often by people who are shamelessly projecting their own tactics and ambitions. That’s what interested me.

[ Added: ]

Regarding the monopolising of the terms “greedy” and “selfish,” see also this and some of the subsequent comments.

David

This may be of interest too:

I’ve recently made the acquaintance of a young man who has a problem. He is 28 years old; smart, of good moral character, and willing to work hard at part-time jobs. He does not expect anyone else, including the government, to support him. Yet he is puzzled and increasingly bitter that he cannot make a good living. What’s his difficulty? It’s not the economy (in this specific case) but the fact that he has a degree in linguistics and is now studying Oriental philosophy at a fine university. His case is not altogether typical, but is immensely revealing. Here’s the secret: He cannot make a living because the market for people with degrees in linguistics and in Oriental philosophy is limited. He should have known that. Someone should have told him that. The calculation of practicality should have been made. It wasn’t.

As we’ve seen, quite a few people seem to believe that such practical details don’t matter and shouldn’t matter.

Which strikes me as a little odd. Almost decadent.

Trimegistus

There used to be a belief that a liberal-arts degree was sufficient to get a job in business, as it showed one was generally well-educated and intelligent. Kind of an "I am Officially Smart" ticket. Has that changed? Do companies now look for people with more technical training? Or are liberal-arts majors just too refined to look for jobs in business?

Take the linguistics/Oriental philosophy kid in the example: one would think a degree combination like that would make him very attractive to American or European companies doing business in Asia . . .

. . . except for the fact that he's 28 years old and still apparently a student. That doesn't suggest much in the way of ambition or "hustle."

Franklin

I'm not sure if this is related or not: "Employers are facing more uncertainty in the wake of a letter from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission warning them that requiring a high school diploma from a job applicant might violate the Americans with Disabilities Act."

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/jan/1/eeoc-high-school-diploma-might-violate-americans-w/

Ted S., Catskills, NY

Back in the day a lot fewer people were getting college degrees. Supreme Court cases like Griggs v. Duke Power Co. made it more difficult for employers to use testing in hiring, which has (probably) led to college degrees being used as a sort of proxy for the testing that would have been done in the past. Hence, jobs that used to require only a high school diploma now require a bachelor's degree, and everybody feels they need to get a college diploma, leading to the higher education bubble.

Henry

The sad story of Steven Lawrence and the political issue his murder became, will need to be talked about, preferably when the media self-congratulation has died down. What an appalling example of one of the British public's "periodical fits of morality". Brendan O'Neill says:

"It is fitting that the Lawrence case should end with a political trial, because this was the most cynically exploited and politicised murder in living memory. Lawrence was not the first young black man to have been murdered by racists, nor was he the first black murder victim to have been failed by a seriously botched police investigation. But he was the first black murder victim whose tragic demise was cynically milked by the cultural elite and used as the lynchpin of a moral crusade against Old Britain and its foul, backward inhabitants."

O'Neill believes racism is "a relation of power", and I'm not sure I so readily agree with that. And when he talks about the "cultural elite" I can't agree with him.

But he is surely right about how people are falling over each other to show how righteous they are about race issues. So much so that other issues are overlooked.

David

Henry,

Anna Raccoon has a handy reminder of how the case was exploited.

Bessie

"Here’s the secret: He cannot make a living because the market for people with degrees in linguistics and in Oriental philosophy is limited."

In contrast to, say, a degree in French poetry, linguistics does actually have applications in quite a few careers, for instance in publishing. However, such careers are popular, not very well paid, and would necessitate a few years slumming it in extremely low-paid jobs, which doesn't leave much time to do a PhD in Oriental philosophy in one's 20s. Unless he's hell-bent on a career in academia, a better strategy would have been to get a career established first and then do a PhD part-time as a mature student. But shouldn't schools be giving kids this kind of advice?

David

Bessie,

You’d think students and would-be students might benefit from this kind of information. But then, what motive would, say, arts and humanities lecturers have for sharing it?

lauraw

"But shouldn't schools be giving kids this kind of advice?"

They're still repeating the tiresome old saw that liberal arts degrees are worth more than business degrees. And because they have young heads full of mush and they look up to their professors, the students believe it.

The schools/ professors are financially and politically interested in turning out a generation of financially devastated young people who have little hope of ever repaying their debts.

Yeah, let's talk some more trash about 'corporate greed.'

sk60

More from Occupy Wall Street:

"Prison is a means of social control to be absolutely destroyed."

http://www.verumserum.com/?p=36386

So 'social justice' equals no justice.

Rich Rostrom

£438 a week??? The £ closed at $1.54 today., so that’s $2,900 a month.

Here in primitive and impoverished Chicago, $2,700/month will get you 19 listings with 4BR/2bath, in such upscale areas as Bucktown, Roscoe Village, and River West:

“*Bucktown Luxury* 4BR/2BA. High End Finishes. Kitchen features BOSCH Stainless Steel appl…”

“Large 4 bedroom duplex in Roscoe Village. Features four big bedrooms, gourmet kitchen…”

“4br, 3 full baths, 2 half baths, 2 car garage (height for lift!) rowhouse in East Village.”

etc.

Henry

Diane Abbott, Labour MP, tweeted (in a discussion about "black communities") that "White people love playing 'divide & rule'".

Not the worst racist remark you've ever heard, but coming from someone who campaigns against racism, in the week of the Lawrence convictions - when we've once again been told that inadvertent assumptions on the part of police officers constituted racism, and what a problem racism is in this country - you might imagine she'd choose her words carefully.

Then evidence starts to emerge of her previous form. (Haven't verified all this but it seems genuine)

Also see the hypocrisy of the argument many of her defenders espoused saying, it seems, that 'racism' only happens within an unbalanced power dynamic.

Minor problems with this include that they're redefining racism to suit today's argument, also the apparent implication that inter-minority racism - a big problem - can no longer be called racism, because it isn't whites doing it; and finally the fact that these people seem to want one set of rules for whites, another for everyone else. Sounds exactly what anti-racism campaigners have been fighting against for decades, doesn't it?

Other entertaining aspects of the story: her explanation that she was talking about colonial history. The Toby Young piece in the Telegraph I understand was pulled. The wave of removal of comments on the Guardian pieces (some of them factual and inoffensive, I thought)

Last but not least, see this video of how children in one school are being taught about Diane Abbott - essential viewing...

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