« Friday Ephemera | Main | This Just In »

June 23, 2014

Comments

Watcher In The Dark

When they built the highly-praised (at least, highly-praised by people who didn't have to live there) 'walkways in the sky' flats above Sheffield railway station there was the steady rise of piss-stinking lifts and stairwells, the gradual decay of the environment, the growth in petty crime around blind corners but above all the delight of rubbish thrown from upper levels as it saved residents taking it downstairs -- though this may have been because of the aforementioned smelly journeys downstairs -- highlighted by the way TV sets could be thrown over any parapet.

I think Sheffield council were actually worried about this for a time, but being the good socialists they were they quickly recognised a person's right to hoist a telly possibly on to the heads of pedestrians far below was a delicate matter. Better not to offend the residents, perhaps.

So would we all welcome such lively housing in our own part of the world? Of course we would, 'cos the Guardian says so.

Graham Asher

What happens to a society in which everything that is both valuable and visible is stolen or destroyed? I think I can see a future where the only big houses are those guarded by the state or by private armies: the 'heavily guarded family compounds' mentioned by all self-respecting reporters on the third world; and where the normal thing to do with wealth is to convert it into gold and hide it, or smuggle it abroad.

John D

highly-praised (at least, highly-praised by people who didn't have to live there)

That.

Craig Mc

Reminds me of Peggy's smugly righteous boyfriend in Mad Men who insisted they live in a crime-infested slum in the name of social equity.

She stabbed him. Good for her.

Anna

If we really do want to mix communities,

Big if. It really depends on who you're being 'mixed' with. The chav scum who live next door to my dad and throw dog shit into his garden for a laugh? No thanks.

rjmadden

Poverty and affluence are two sides of the same coin. One would not exist without the other

And yet poverty existed long before affluence. An academic, you say?

randian

What sort of idiot wants "deliberate urban degeneration"? What purpose is served by creating it?

Nikw211

Oh and there was this line I noticed from Matthews's article:

    … people who used vouchers to move to the most affluent neighbourhoods experienced some of the worst outcomes and intense feelings of dislocation and inferiority around their new affluent neighbours.

I knew someone who paid upwards of £250k for a single 'flat' (more like one of those Japanese capsule hotels to be honest) in a smart new apartment block in Hackney.

In addition to the mortgage, he was additionally required to pay something like £4k a year for building maintenance, security etc.

Of course, Hackney Council had only given permission to the builders to put up the apartment block on the condition that a given percentage of all the apartments would be given over to social housing.

OK, fine you might think.

However, I helped him move in and also visited a few times in the 2-3 months before the social housing tenants moved in.

Naturally, it later became immediately obvious once those tenants had moved – or some of them at least. The smart and shiny new lift that took you to the top floor had been scoured with a knife point, had also had 'Die rich wankers' carved into the mirror and something human - that to this day I fervently hope was dried spittle - was flaking off the control buttons. He had also noticed their arrival, with rubbish tossed off upper balconies landing on those below and thumping drum and bass parties going on all night from one particular flat.

No doubt far better minds than mine can explain why this was a good thing.

Perhaps they think my friend should see it as paying penance for embarrassing others by having had the temerity to make something of himself in London.

Needless to say, he moved out.

Nikw211

Dr Matthews also seems to be oblivious to the fact that it is not unknown for some council tenants to sublet their property as a source of income (legally or otherwise).

This is especially tempting in high-rent areas such as London and the South-East more generally, and the practice has other unintended consequences: for example, migrant workers who become tenants of such privately sublet council properties may inadvertently inflame tensions amongst the local population. Even though the migrant workers will in fact be paying private rent, to locals who may have been on the housing list for many years, it can appear as if the Council have been awarding social housing to 'bloody foreigners' over themselves, leading to bitter resentment, racism and violence.

Now imagine that same scenario, but played out where the "social housing unit" is in an area such as Holland Park or Belgravia – wouldn't that be tantamount to an incentive to the successful applicant of social housing to sublet the apartment to 'young professionals'? How would that therefore change anything as regards the distribution of where people live? Other than creating the potential for social housing tenants to skim a profit off the back of the Welfare system, what exactly would such a move have achieved?

Joan

When trying to create a better social mix,

Did anyone actually ask to be 'mixed' with 'the poor and marginalized'?

AC1

There are no bad areas, just areas with bad people.

Rich areas tend to be places with concentrations of people who are market-productive (a combination of meeting social needs and government enabled rent-seeking), this is basic Ricardo's law of rent.

It's another case of the consistently proved wrong marxian faith that you can cure bad apples by placing them in good barrels.

Lancastrian Oik

"What sort of idiot wants "deliberate urban degeneration"?"

The Marxist kind.

Steve 2: Steveageddon

Heh.

Peter is a lecturer at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh. So he's not making enough to be neighbours with JK Rowling, but probably doesn't live next to Sickboy and Begbie either.

Incidentally Heriot-Watt has a fine reputation in the oil industry as a technical college, but Mr Matthews is living proof that no educational institution is safe from the Marxbots.

Poverty and affluence are two sides of the same coin. One would not exist without the othe

No. Zero sum fallacy. Like saying the existence of healthy people is to blame for others being ill. Or that the existence of puling leftie dweebs on Comment is Free somehow creates awesome and sexy people with great hair like Steve.

when trying to create a better social mix

Why would we want to do that?

He rightly goes on to pour cold water on the idea of "neighbourhood effects" - the notion that living next to a doctor will magically transform hoodies and feckless single mothers into productive members of society.

To improve neighbourhoods in the longer term and have an impact on people's lives, then we need to invest in services in the most deprived neighbourhoods

We don't already? Well, damn. Where is all our welfare spending going then? It's not the kids in Belgravia who have their own social workers.

and make more of them into escalators for people to move through as their lives change.

I don't know what he means by making a neighbourhood into an escalator, but we have a reliable route out of poverty which has served us well since the Industrial Revolution. It's called the free market.

That's why Dickensian poverty no longer exists in this country.

I fear such time-tested solutions won't find favour with our professor though. Here's his advice to the City of Edinburgh Council on what to do about privately owned land held by Forth Ports:

CEC should plan for bloody agricultural land on the site, reduce the value to nothing, compulsorily purchase the lot and plan for something that will help Leith and Edinburgh and bring the profits right back into the CEC's coffers.

Rule of law be damned! The people who brought you a £1Bn tram line will know best what to do with that land.

TDK

Doesn't this boil down to "some people are eternal students".

Many of us went through a period after Halls of Residence where living like "The Young Ones" was the norm. What could be better than to get a shared house in Rusholme: Parties, endless lines of empty milk bottles, stolen road signs, peculiar smells, arguments about washing up and lost deposits.

Strange really that so few of us stayed there.

Steve B

Because the Projects were such a rousing success.

http://newsone.com/1555245/most-infamous-public-housing-projects/

Kauf Buch

Start by demolishing HIS house.

David

There are no bad areas, just areas with bad people.

A few years ago I revisited my childhood stomping ground to see how much I remembered and how much it had changed. When I was a kid, there’d been plenty of pee-stink bus stops (and pee-stink buses) and general eyesores – the house across the street, inhabited by a notoriously rough family, had a wrecked car in the front garden for ten years or so, untouched by human hands and slowly disintegrating. Other parts of vehicles, provenance unknown, grew in piles around it. I remember lots of tutting and disapproval from other neighbours, but I don’t think anyone dared to complain directly to the family, presumably on account of their reputation.

But there had always been respectable families there too, with modest but scrupulously tidy gardens. Into which garbage was often thrown by those less scrupulous. When I went back it seemed that most of the residents who were remotely bourgeois, or visibly aspiring to such, had either left or died out. Certainly the place felt very different. Graffiti had spread over practically every “social” (i.e., non-private) surface and I lost count of the houses, many still occupied, with boarded up windows, like missing teeth.

Jeff Wood

A grandson of mine has just finished his first year at the Watt, doing a proper degree course, and staying in halls of residence.

He was complaining for a while about some students who seemed to have the leisure to stay up half the night watching television, keeping everyone awake, and playing the old tricks with other people's property and food. I was surprised, as I remembered acquaintances from the old Heriot Watt from 45 years ago: work damned hard until Saturday night, then hit the Rose Street bars.

I may now be able to tell him what sort of course the creeps are on. I will have to wait until he returns from his summer job, helping to build marinas in the Middle East, in temperatures up to 120 Fahrenheit.

David: a painful journey home.

bilbaoboy

- Poverty and affluence are two sides of the same coin -

But they are not.

This is the typical economically ignorant leftie trope based on the fantasy fixed-pie of wealth. You can have, as has been pointed out above, poverty without wealth. And wealth does not depend on having poverty. Like shit, it happens, due to people doing stuff to improve their lot. We can help it along or (like all good socialists) hinder it.

If you are going to define poverty as the poorest 10% they we will always have poverty, but I would invite a Jarrow marcher to be unemployed today in modern Britain and after 10 days ask him if we have solved poverty or not through wealth transfers to the economically disadvantaged. He would probably be shocked and possibly worried about the negative effects of so much (compared to him) for nothing.

Lancastrian Oik

I grew up in a small town in Lancashire in the 1960s. Our house was an end terrace, with no central heating and lino on the floor for the most part. We did not think of ourselves as poor, but we were probably only one step above the poverty line for my first ten years of existence.

However- my parents, despite not being educated beyond the age of 16 (my father, local grammar school) and 15 (my mother, poor school in the backstreets of Rochdale) were enterprising and hard-working and determined that my sibling and I would have a chance of a better life. And so they saved their money, worked two jobs- anything to get an advantage. I became the first in our family to go to university (a good redbrick, degree leading to a professional qualification, my becoming modestly successful, shedding my strong Lancastrian vowels and picking up my aitches, marrying a lady who spoke five foreign languages and English, the latter with an exquisite RP accent.... becoming firmly middle class, in other words.

I was sent to school clean-scrubbed, in freshly-laundered clothes and on coming home underwent the nightly ritual of nit-combing (they were endemic in those days). I was dubbed "posh" by some of the scruffier kids because of this; that and the fact that we went to church on Sundays and my Dad owned a car (he had many and various shitboxes, bangers and MoT failures welded up by his mate for the price of a pint- Standards, Morrises and Vauxhalls) served to make me, and one or two other children of similarly-minded parents, the object of envy, ridicule and occasional bullying.

It was just a matter of attitude. Some of the rough kids came from bigger families than ours, but at the time our town had virtually full employment and it was possible to earn good money as a skilled- or semi-skilled machinist on a production line, especially as many were paid piece-work rates on top of their weekly wages; they undoubtedly earned much more than my Dad who was then a nylon shirt, tie and brown smock wearing junior manager. So it seemed to me then, and still seems now, about how you went about living your life well. My parents did not smoke, rarely drank and my Dad's sole vice was placing the odd sixpenny bet on the horses (he usually won, being intelligent and a good reader of form). They belonged to various am dram societies, helped run the youth club; my mother would go to night-school to learn touch-typing, but also indulge in courses on opera, music and literature. Other kids' parents didn't do that- they went to the clubs and pubs and got drunk and fought between themselves and with the police. Their kids were scruffy, smelled bad, wore unwashed clothes and in some appalling cases were undernourished and diseased. There were, of course, some genuine cases of real hardship where the parents (not many single parents back then of course) were unable to work and I do not dismiss such cases lightly. But in the main, it was about choices- your house was clean and tidy, your car was washed, you and your kids dressed as best you could. One of my Dad's cricketing mates was a"time-served" joiner, an alderman and a very young magistrate; he lived next door to one of the hardest and nastiest families in the borough, father, mother and six sons, most of whom were probably psychopaths. Four of them died before the age of thirty-five; heroin did it. My Dad's mate became mayor and chairman of the bench and his two kids grew up to become decent people. Attitude, again.

My parents moved to a larger, detached bungalow in a slightly nicer part of town when I was ten; they lived there for the rest of their lives, even though my Dad made millions developing a hugely successful business that he started once I'd left university. Attitude, again.

When I go back to my hometown (not often these days) I go and look at the little primary school I attended and the roads and streets in the neighbourhood and I think that it too has changed for the worst, but here and there you can see where people are making an effort. I wanted away from all that thirty-odd years ago, but I'm not sneering at the ones who stayed, far from it. But I read articles like that of Peter Matthews and I can't help thinking "wrong, wrong, wrong", simply because some people just don't get it and never will and will make all the wrong choices in life despite strenuous attempts made by the State. E.O. Wilson was right- "beautiful theory, wrong species". And I might have rebelled against the very notion when I was a teenager and then a know-it-all student but there is not a lot wrong with having bourgeois values.

Darleen

What sort of idiot wants "deliberate urban degeneration"? What purpose is served by creating it?

It is what the Left is all about. Everything is through the lens of race/class/gender, individuals don't really exist and the alter upon which all must be sacrificed is absolute equality

So what if everyone* is poor? They will be equal!

Obviously Matthews read Kurt Vonnegut's Harrison Bergeron as a "How-to" book. He yearns to be Diana Moon Glampers.

*everyone doesn't include those noble, tireless, self-sacrificing leaders carrying the heavy burden of running everyone else's life. They deserved that dacha.

pst314

The rich left have become a luxury we can no longer afford.

Tim Newman

Many of us went through a period after Halls of Residence where living like "The Young Ones" was the norm. What could be better than to get a shared house in Rusholme: Parties, endless lines of empty milk bottles, stolen road signs, peculiar smells, arguments about washing up and lost deposits.

Strange really that so few of us stayed there.

Oh yes! But I was Fallowfield, Withington, and Victoria Park. :) Shortly after I left university in 2000 somebody sent around an email entitled "20 ways you know you are no longer a student", the most memorable of which was "A fire in the kitchen is no longer a laugh". As you say, most people grow up.

rxc

Of course, when the rich actually do buy houses in the poorer districts, because they are cheap, and then rennovate them, it is called gentrification, and is reviled for changing the tenor and quality of the neighborhood, as well as driving up costs for the poor.

Maybe the best solution is the Soviet one - have the poor move into the houses of the rich, together with the rich. They have MUCH too much empty space in those houses that should be shared with their fellow citizens. This worked so well back in the 20s, in the USSR. /sarc

David

entitled “20 ways you know you are no longer a student,” the most memorable of which was “A fire in the kitchen is no longer a laugh.”

Heh.

Ofay Cat

The entire reason I worked hard, save money and bought a car is because I don't want to live near nor ride with the poor. I grew up among the prolific pissers and no decent human wants to be anywhere near those degenerates.

There may have been a genteel lower class at one time, but that was when they could be whipped for show disrespect to their 'betters'. That ain't the case anymore.

Poor people are dangerous ... don't be poor.

rabbit

The goal here is equality, even if it's the equality of the graveyard. Prosperity is not even on the radar.

Hal

Peter Matthews . . . wants to ensure more of us live next door to “the poor and marginalised.”

Just starting the read through the page, but the first thought when reading the above is that perhaps Peter is lonely and wants people to come live by him?

pst314

"The goal here is equality"

At least for ordinary people. Peter Matthews, on the other hand, expects to be an apparatchik with all the perks that go with being a servant of Big Brother. (Although the biggest perk, of course, is being paid to boss people around.)

pst314

"perhaps Peter is lonely and wants people to come live by him?"

I would greatly enjoy forcing Peter to live with violent and depraved criminals.

Theophrastus

"deprived"? By whom? The language is Marxian, suggesting not only that someone has taken something valuable from the 'poor' but also that restitution is due. I prefer 'disadvantaged': it's more value-neutral, if you will excuse the jargon.

virgil xenophon

And all of this of course comes at great taxpayers expense. "Affordable" housing is only "affordable" because it is subsidized by the taxpayer. When New Orleans tore down its most notorious housing project--the St Thomas, housing that had been all white in the 50s-- and replaced it with dispersed stand alone town-houses in a park-like setting the cost/unit was $350, 000 in the 90s. Likewise when the equally notorious Fischer housing project of small apts on the "Westbank" across the Miss river from New Orleans proper was rehabbed, the cost was $175,000/apt And this is all paid for by the taxes of hard-working, law-abiding middle-class people living in small towns in the middle-west whose homes avg $64, 000 in value. Where is the "morality" in THAT!

I guess I could argue that people that play by the rules should be subsidized too. I served my country as a USAF officer who pulled two combat tours in Vietnam, came back and earned my PhD. My wife is an RN with an MA in Abnormal Psych. We started our own business, worked like dogs and have contributed mightily to society, but when those projects were built we certainly couldn't afford a home costing that much, Shouldn't we and all others like us deserve "affordable" housing to the tune of $350K too even tho we can't pay for it? Where is our "social justice?"

Signed: Still waiting for my check..

Rafi

Wait a minute. He wants to bus council tenants into Belgravia (after demolishing half of it) but he doesn't like 'mixed' communities.

He sounds a bit confused.

David

He sounds a bit confused.

It’s almost funny. Mr Matthews challenges the “rosy image of mixed communities” and their assumptions of osmotic social improvement. He lists the many ways in which such projects don’t help those he deems most “marginalised,” and how these “mixed communities” may actually make things worse – gentrification costs, displacement, isolation, self-esteem issues, etc. He nevertheless spends quite a bit of time enthusing, rather spitefully, about forcibly creating “mixed communities” in posh areas by demolishing homes nicer than his own. Presumably on grounds that at least it would make some rich people feel unhappy too.

I can’t help thinking it says something about the kind of chap he is.

D

Is it Mr. Matthews' assumption that more contact with the poor by those with more wealth will make the latter more favorably disposed towards the former? Or is it simply a good thing in itself, regardless of the effects?

It seems likely to me that more contact between rich and poor will probably lead to the rich thinking a lot less of the poor than they currently do, and perhaps being less inclined to help them in the future. This has been my general experience, much like many examples given above. The poor can be a lot easier to sympathize with in theory than in practice.

I guess this is similar to "integration" efforts at bringing people of different races into more contact with each other, assuming that this will bring more harmony despite the rather long and clear track record of greater discord.

A different Kevin B

I went to high school in North America. At my junior high, they made a great show of plucking one kid from the "marginal" class, and putting him in with the "bright" kids in another. I remember what happened - out of his depth academically, Mike made a big deal of poking fun at teachers, school, and learning in general. He was 15, in Grade 9, and already smoking, drinking, and doing drugs.

The upshot? Mike stayed exactly the same - he did not go on to university like almost all the bright kids, but not before he pulled a couple of bright kids into his orbit, and they ended up not graduating from high school either.

The old saw about one bad apple is not "an old wives' tale"; it is operant wisdom.

matt

by demolishing homes nicer than his own

This aligns with what Instapundit has noted: that the start point for punitive taxation is usually just above the max that a journalist/academic couple could make in the US (about $ 400k/year if i recall correctly). There is little doubt that Prof Matthews makes comfortable middle or even upper middle class living given his position as a professor. Lot's of modest wealth and tidy streets in his own neighbourhood that could do with some Chav-ification, but why bother when there are people who have the temerity or good fortune have more that him in Belgravia who can be put out.

Spiny Norman

pst314,

Peter Matthews, on the other hand, expects to be an apparatchik with all the perks that go with being a servant of Big Brother. (Although the biggest perk, of course, is being paid to boss people around.)

Why is it that so many "Studies" professors (or lecturers in this case) frustrated wannabe-Commissars?

pst314

"Why is it that so many "Studies" professors (or lecturers in this case) frustrated wannabe-Commissars?"

Because most "Studies" departments were created to employ commies and disseminate communist lies--I mean scholarship.

pst314

"Mr Matthews challenges the 'rosy image of mixed communities' and their assumptions of osmotic social improvement"

A chemist's solution to urban blight:
Step 1: Construct a semipermeable membrane, permeable to everything but yobs and chavs....

Spiny Norman

Scholarship. Yeah, that's the ticket.

The 1960s won't leave us until the 1960s' campus radicals finally leave the campus.

David Gillies

A certain amount of honest introspection is necessary from time to time in order to check that one is not guilty of the psychic deformations one is decrying in others. And so, I stop and ask myself how I really feel about the super rich. I find that as regards their wealth qua wealth, I feel not a hint of envy. My attitude to seeing someone so much better-off than me is not to ask how I can appropriate some of his moolah (either for myself or for some third party), but to ask what steps would be necessary to get that wealth on my own, and whether I would be willing to take those steps.

I do find, however, that my attitude towards the wealth-holder depends on the method of acquisition. The hedge fund managers and private equity people have not enriched themselves in any way at my expense - likewise the Waltons or Ellisons. However I see red when it comes to people like the saprophytic Podestas, who have gained their vast and vulgar wealth precisely by introducing A to B for the purposes of pillaging C, who is not present and certainly not consulted. Political jockeying really is a zero- or negative-sum game; if it merely breaks even rather than being actively destructive of wealth we are lucky. As Johnson said, "There are few ways in which a man can be more innocently employed than in getting money." And there are few ways in which a man can be less innocently employed than in deciding the disposition of someone else's money.

A different Kevin B

To David Gillies:

I'm not certain that there are hedge fund managers and PE firms that have not enriched themselves at my expense, given the number of insider trading cases being prosecuted. However, I AM certain that many large banks have indeed enriched themselves at all TAXPAYER's expense, because they were not allowed to fail, as they so richly deserved, but were and are being 'bailed out' by virtue of their ability to borrow from central banks at rates approaching zero (an opportunity denied to us), and then relend the same funds to the same central bank/government by buying their longer term, and higher rate, bonds, in effect, creating a positive money pump for them that will eventually be paid by (or will force the default of) the state, which of course means you and me. (Apologies for the run-on sentence!) Johnson's jovial aside didn't allow for the existence of central banks and gravity defying stock and bond markets.

Nikw211

OT

Just seen this doing the rounds on the Internet - It's a lengthy quote from an interview with Emma Goldman. It's so awesome in its crassness that I've quoted it in full.

Plus ca change …

    Everything wrong, crime and sickness and all that, is the result of the system under which we live, she continued earnestly. ‘Were there no money, and as a result, no capitalists, people would not be over-worked, starved and ill-housed, all of which makes them old before their time, diseases them and makes them criminals. To save a dollar the capitalists build their railroads poorly, and along comes a train, and loads of people are killed. What are their lives to him if by their sacrifice he has saved money? But those deaths mean misery, want and crime in many, many families. According to Anarchistic principles, we build the best of railroads, so there shall be no accidents… Instead of running a few cars at a frightful speed, in order to save a larger expense, we should run many cars at slow speed, and so have no accidents.’

    ‘If you do away with money and employers, who will work upon your railroads?’ I asked.

    ‘Those that care for that kind of work. Then every one shall do that which he likes best, not merely a thing he is compelled to do to earn his daily bread.’

    ‘What will you do with the lazy ones, who would not work?’

    ‘No one is lazy. They grow hopeless from the misery of their present existence, and give up. Under our order of things, every man would do the work he liked, and would have as much as his neighbor, so could not be unhappy and discouraged.’

Craig Mc

"Just seen this doing the rounds on the Internet - It's a lengthy quote from an interview with Emma Goldman. It's so awesome in its crassness that I've quoted it in full."

Geez. I knew she had shit for brains, but I didn't realise she was five years old her whole life.

Nikw211

I think Goldman was thinking of the Big Rock Candy Mountains rather than Bakunin or Proudhon.

Matt

I love big rock candy mountain because there's a lake of stew and whiskey too and you can paddle all around them in a big canoe....

dicentra

I fear such time-tested solutions [such as the free market] won't find favour with our professor though.

Can the Left micromanage the free market?

By definition, no. No it can't.

And that right there explains all — and I mean ALL — of their antipathy for the free market and its implications. Any puling about income inequality is merely a pretext for micromanaging an entire society.

Which means that it's useless to argue against their pretexts for seizing power and we should focus exclusively on their irrational if not evil desire to wield power over the rest of us.

aplofar

Of course, Mr. Matthews seems thoroughly unacquainted with the notion that "the poor" might have plans, intentions, or desires of their own. (Or if he is, he's failed to return this notion's calls, or keep his appointments with it.) Apparently, they should be put places, allocated, distributed, according to whatever theory is making the rounds among the would-be Haussmanns, the makers of elegant plans.

Once upon a time, the poor needed only to be concentrated and elevated, in sanitary, modern high-rise accommodations, the low Victorian hovels swept away. Their homes would be open to the fresh air and the sunlight, whereupon - like flowers, really! - they would bloom forth into a cheerful thriving, yet also remain indefinitely content with being assigned their rooms, like children at a boarding school. In fact they tended more to continue wilting, but maybe we just didn't apply enough fertilizer.

Then the theory was that if the poor could be diluted in the districts of the better-off, prosperity and well-being would rub off on them, somehow (though miraculously, they would not lose their sense of jolly peasant-esque solidarity, and we would be spared the shame of having transformed them into a bourgeois class.) That didn't go terribly well either, though at least their chances of being firebombed dropped somewhat. So now, Mr. Matthews gets the idea that the problem is merely that nice houses *exist*, and that everybody else must be as miserable with envy as he seems to be. Instead of that maybe, shuffling around large numbers of complex, different individuals as though they were chickens or cabbages, isn't very humane or respectful. Gosh, it might even be classist.

I grew up and was schooled in one of those socially mixed neighbourhoods, and like most people anywhere, most people there were decent and respectful of each other. But you've truly never seen "classism" until you've seen the reaction of weary, immigrant, war-refugee, night-shift-working parents to the discovery that their children have been cussing at the teacher, drinking during the lunch hour, and spending quality time with those snarling teenagers on the corner. It would absolutely blister Peter Matthews' eyeballs. Mainly with the reality that it's not actually classism - hating somebody simply for their economic circumstance - and more that violence, vandalism and thuggery are no more popular amongst most of the poor than anybody else. (Again, excepting Guardian writers - who are apparently made to feel right at home by a little smashy-burny.) They usually just have fewer escape hatches from such things. And unless the planners and people-allocators are prepared to take seriously the safety and individuality of poor people, I'm prepared to dismiss them as not really grasping what's important. I was once going to be an urban planner - five years of university in - but the closer I got to the profession, the more it seemed to be a vast Legoland operated by sociopaths and narcissists.

The rich will remain safe and well-housed. Tear down a Belgravia, and a wave of renovations will sweep the Barkings and Brixtons. The rich don't mind terribly - one mansion's as good as another. But the poor will be out another few thousand modest, affordable homes in okay neighbourhoods, another master-planned social housing project will begin rotting immediately upon completion, and the planners will congratulate themselves on having made a difference.

dicentra

"The goal here is equality"

The goal here, as always, is control.

"Achieving equality" is the pretext for seizing power; as we've seen, actual steps toward equality vanish as soon as the State acquires total control over the economy.

The equality of grinding poverty is what happens when The Party takes the entire pie and tosses a few crumbs toward the masses. The Party members end up being exactly what they accuse the capitalists of being.

Not ironically — inevitably. You can always tell what Leftists want by what they accuse you of being. Clinical narcissists compulsively project their bad intentions onto their enemies. They can't help themselves: their pathology consists of never recognizing their flaws or mistakes, so the bad impulses must be yours, you wicked thing.

Not equality, not fairness, not multiculturalism, not an end to racism/sexism/homophobia: control.

dicentra

The Big Rock Candy Mountain is located here: 38.5150772, -112.2672046

The Google satellite overexposes the rock so you can't tell that it's a lovely sulfur candy yellow.

As I learned from sad experience, the rock tastes exactly like rock, not lemon, which means the whole vacation was a gyp!

Spiny Norman

Although it's understandable why Harry McClintock never recorded the final verse of Big Rock Candy Mountain way back when, seeing that it's rude, but it's the punchline fools like Emma Goldman need to hear.

The punk rolled up his big blue eyes
And said to the jocker, "Sandy,
I've hiked and hiked and wandered too,
But I ain't seen any candy.
I've hiked and hiked till my feet are sore
And I'll be damned if I hike any more
To be buggered sore like a hobo's whore
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains."

David

He sounds a bit confused.

Mr Matthews also thinks that “deprived” and “marginalised” communities can be elevated, made less dysfunctional, by “the provision of services… such as… street cleaners.” He links to a report fretting about how to “narrow the gap” in litter, how to “achieve fairer outcomes in street cleanliness.” Well, clean streets are a good thing and stepping through garbage can be depressing; but I think he, like the report he links to, is missing an obvious factor. A quarterly visit by a council cleaning wagon won’t compensate for a dysfunctional attitude towards littering. Fretting about inequalities in litter density is a little odd if you don’t consider how the litter gets there in the first place.

A while ago, I made two visits to an unglamorous “social” housing estate, where the amount of litter was striking. On the street, in gardens, in lifts and walkways, pretty much everywhere. Apparently, many residents considered it someone else’s job to pick up trash (including, presumably, their own), even when it was practically on their own doorsteps.

But if you walk around leafier, more respectable neighbourhoods, you tend to find much less litter. This isn’t because the council cleaning wagon rolls by whenever someone uses the Big Red Batman Phone – it doesn’t. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one on my street. But then the neighbours are highly unlikely to drop litter in the first place and should anything blow out of someone’s bin, it’s picked up pretty sharpish, either by the resident or one of their neighbours. Once a year we do, though, get a small truck that takes away the fallen leaves that have been dutifully gathered and bagged by local residents.

The primary difference in terms of residential neighbourhoods and littering seems to be one of attitude. Of being, dare I say it, a little bit bourgeois. And yet this isn’t mentioned.

Nikw211

Fretting about inequalities in litter density is a little odd if you don’t consider how the litter gets there in the first place.

Heh.

Dalrymple has an interesting commentary on this subject in Litter: the remains of our culture:

    I observed with a certain horrified fascination the conduct of young people who approached the bus stop, snack in hand. They would pause near the bin, as if for thought. Then, after this pause, they would take the wrapping from the snack and drop it not in, but on to the ground very near the bin.

I lived abroad from the mid-90s to the mid-2000s and when I finally returned I saw very clearly just how worse things had become as regards this kind of antiSocialist praxis, saw many examples of just such a casual indifference but also sometimes mixed up with a fierce defiance (that look that says 'Go on – make me pick it up, bitch!').

Nikw211

Spiny Norman,

Had no idea that was how Big Rock Candy Mountains was supposed to end!

Steve 2: Steveageddon

Nikw211 - My God. Emma Goldman is the anti-Ayn Rand.

Now, I happen to believe Ayn Rand was a bit of a monster to people around her, sort of like Steve Jobs. We probably wouldn't have gotten along. And I disagree with her about charity. But... the lady was brilliant, and fearless, and admirable. Even when in my opinion she went too far, her logic was impeccable.

Emma Goldman obviously felt that logic was a catspaw of the top-hatted capitalist running dog saboteurs, or something.


Dicentra - I often think the problem non-sociopathic lefties have with economics is that they just can't get their heads around how markets work, and they lack confidence in themselves or their fellow men to thrive in a free society without endless government tinkering.

Take our urbane professor - he commits a profound error in his very first sentence, by assuming poverty can't exist without affluence or vice versa.

Human beings aren't wired to understand economics. For most of our history and prehistory, wealth really was a zero sum game where the tribal chief or feudal lord being enriched meant less for everyone else.

So in the modern world, many educated people just can't grok that if millionaires exist, it doesn't mean everyone else is poorer. Or that Chinese workers getting richer and more skilled doesn't mean our workers will end up thrown on the scrapheap with no jobs to do as a result.

Sure, they've heard the arguments for free trade and they like the benefits of capitalism, but they still feel like it's all a trick, somehow. They still have part of the mentality of primitive hunter gatherers or medieval serfs, but with lots of fancy modern lingo overlaid to disguise their insecurities as critique.

Never attribute to malice what can be explained by fear. The average university educated lefty seems to be governed by fear - I think far more of them than it might seem feel like frauds and worry that their iPads and their cosy jobs could all be snatched away from them at any moment.

The "social justice" business is a comfort blanket for people who perceive themselves as too weak to compete with the big boys on a level playing field. It explains why intellectual leftism attracts so many people who look like they could easily be mugged. You don't see many guys like George Monbiot on the rugby pitch.

Nikw211

AC1

It did surprise … That Dutch guy … really?

Spiny Norman

Nikw211,

Had no idea that was how Big Rock Candy Mountains was supposed to end!

When I was a kid and heard Burl Ives singing it, I had no idea how cynical it really was.

Minnow

"Can the Left micromanage the free market? By definition, no. No it can't. And that right there explains all — and I mean ALL — of their antipathy for the free market and its implications"

The 'free market' does not and cannot exist. It is a useful abstraction for theoreticians, that's all. You have mistaken the exasperation of people who understand this when faced by the the spinny eyed cultists who don't as antipathy. But it isn't. It is just realism vs fantasy. Creationists think that Dawkins is full of 'antipathy' towards the creator, but he isn't, he is just noticing that there isn't one.

Minnow

The "social justice" business is a comfort blanket for people who perceive themselves as too weak to compete with the big boys on a level playing field

But it isn't just perception. Some people are too weak to compete with the 'big boys'. Some people are even to weak to complete with the big girls (imagine!). The question is whether we have any moral responsibilities towards those people or if we think weakness (for those who do not happen to be born into wealth) should damn them to lives of poverty and suffering. In part this is just where we draw our personal compassion lines. Most people think that a weak child of their own should be protected, that it would be unjust to throw her to the dogs and they extend that compassion out to immediate family, sometimes neighbours and so on. Even people who consider themselves very much on the right (even Randian libertarians sometimes) will defend social justice for the very weak, the sick and disabled for example (although I don't think Ayn herself would have much truck with that,) and they will usually want socially just outcomes for their own children strong or weak, but that is, I think, because they often think of their children as some sort of personal property. Other people, sometimes on the 'left', think that there is no good reason to limit our compassion to those we know or to base it on the degree to which other people are like us or proximate to us.

Thornavis.

The 'free market' does not and cannot exist.

You're doing that thing again, the one where you seize on some minor imprecision in language, in this case the obvious fact that no market can ever be totally free but that everyone knows what is meant by the term and that attempts to direct markets never work. As for Dawkins, of course he is full of antipathy towards a creator, he hates the very notion of such a thing and his lack of belief in it makes no difference to that or to his antipathy towards anyone who does believe it. One doesn't have to be a creationist to understand that, indeed it's what many atheists admire about him, his absolute refusal to have any truck with deities or those who follow them, you're just playing with words again here.

Minnow

"You're doing that thing again, the one where you seize on some minor imprecision in language"

It is hardly a minor imprecision. If you don't mean 'free' market when you say 'free market' you are being majorly imprecise.

"As for Dawkins, of course he is full of antipathy towards a creator"

No he isn't. He just doesn't think a creator exists and keeps saying so. Seeing this as antipathy is a purely ideological deformation, which was my point. Just as I don't believe in fairies and say so every time I am asked (which is more often than you might think - life with little children) but I have no 'antipathy' towards fairies. How could I, they don't exist. Nobody thinks I show any antipathy towrds fairies because nobody (I meet) has an ideological commitment to fairies.

Thornavis.

Minnow

I take it if you did meet believers in the good people ( one should never refer to them directly they don't like it ) you wouldn't take them on in print and public debate, you wouldn't have a website devoted to opposition to all things Fae and you wouldn't be passionately opposed to all manifestations of belief in such entities ? In other words you don't think it matters. Dawkins and other outspoken atheists definitely do think it matters and it beggars belief to claim that his approach doesn't arise from antipathy to theistic beliefs. I'm really struggling to understand your point here.

If you don't mean 'free' market when you say 'free market' you are being majorly imprecise.

No we aren't it's the Marxist left and their insistence that there can never be any sort of freedom in the economic choices of humans who are skewing the meaning of the term in order to frame the debate the way they want it who are at fault here.

Minnow

In other words you don't think it matters.

But I would think it mattered if, say, the school was teaching my children that faeries were real and that they must consequently modify their behaviour in certain ways. Then I would get up and argue it. But I would still feel no antipathy towards fairies. How could I? They don't exist.

No we aren't

Yes you are, you say 'free market' when you mean something else. If it's just words, stop saying you believe in 'free markets' and the problem goes away. Say what you mean. You believe in markets that are regulated to produce certain outcomes and these favour some groups of people and disfavour others. But there is a reason people insist on 'free markets' because it serves an ideological function of assocoiating their preferred social market with freedom and natural law and obscures the truth which, I think, you and I agree on: all markets are social constructs based on ideological assumptions.

wtp

Arguing with Minnow is a waste of time. It's just one bald assertion built on fallacy wrapped in context switching after another. And each expressed in words from the English language but lacking their traditional and/or dictionary defined meanings. How else can someone claim that Marx and Smith held the same understanding of Labor Value Theory. It's like claiming that when Johann Cruyff and Joe Gibbs talk about football they are discussing the same subject. Yet both have a better understanding of football, including each others and most likely economics as well, than Marx.

Minnow

WTP, you may be right but you could at least attempt to argue instead of simply waving your hands around. In fact I am using words in their traditionally accepted way, Thornvaris is arguing that that is naive, that 'free market'' does not imply markets that are free.

I think it is considered poor form to bring up arguments from other threads on new ones, but it is simply true, that Marx took the labour theory of value from Smith. Of course he took it further and in new directions but fundamentally they both believed that economic value came from the amount of labour that was internalised in the commodity. It is silly to get cross because I say something provably true that you would prefer to be otherwise. And it is is a bit rude to talk about someone when they are in the room. If you object to what I say, tell me. I will be gentle with you. You needn't be afraid.

Thornavis.

I think you've rather conceded my point about Dawkins there although I still think you are mistaken to insist that there is some hard distinction between antipathy to the idea of a thing and antipathy to the thing itself.

But there is a reason people insist on 'free markets' because it serves an ideological function of assocoiating their preferred social market with freedom and natural law and obscures the truth which, I think, you and I agree on: all markets are social constructs based on ideological assumptions.

You've got horse and cart the wrong way round there. All political positions are social constructs based on ideological assumptions, or rather preferences I would say. Markets are simply the working out of the sum total of all human interactions, be they economic, social or political, consequently it is perfectly OK to say that there are or should be such a thing as free markets. Just as it's perfectly OK to say that one believes that free markets could never deliver the best options for the largest number of people. Pretending that free markets can't exist is bad faith as it disguises the true intent behind that statement which is to limit or remove the freedom of others.

I'd also add that freedom and natural law are the pre-existing conditions that make free markets possible.

WTP

As I said, a waste of time. For the very reasons stated above demonstrated once again.

Minnow

I don't think I have conceded your point re Dawkins, in fact I think I just showed why you were wrong, but it is a bit beside the point.

You seem to be flip-flopping on the idea of markets now though, suggesting that they can be 'free' which a minute ago you said was obviously false. It would be OK to say there were 'free markets' if they operated the way you describe but they don't and can't because they must all be governed and governments are ideological (or 'preference driven, if you prefer). 'Natural law' isn't natural, it is a human idea and institution.

Minnow

As I said, a waste of time. For the very reasons stated above demonstrated once again.

Well, OK, if you like. I know you don't like what I say, but this sort of comment is just more hand waving.

Thornavis.

You seem to be flip-flopping on the idea of markets now though, suggesting that they can be 'free' which a minute ago you said was obviously false.

I didn't say it was false I said they could never be totally free, a different thing, by which I meant that they could never be perfect. Just as you and I can never be totally free but can most definitely be free, as in not in chains or severely limited in our choices of action. Try telling a slave it's no use striking his shackles because it's a hard world out there and liberty no rose garden. Free markets means markets that are as free as possible not markets that exist in some ideal platonic state.

'Natural law' isn't natural, it is a human idea and institution.

Humans are a natural phenomena are they not ? If so then it is quite possible for them to understand their own nature and to apprehend the concept of natural law as something innate to the human condition which can then take an institutional form. We have laws against incest because we naturally understand that it isn't a good thing, the precise form of those laws will vary with culture. We also understand the idea of freedom, it is natural to us and the notion of free markets is an expression of this.

Btw you're doing that other thing that you do, the one that Nikw I think it was complained about, where you put words into people's mouths and ascribe to them positions they don't hold. Stop doing that, it's dishonest.

Anna

Btw you're doing that other thing that you do, the one that Nikw I think it was complained about, where you put words into people's mouths and ascribe to them positions they don't hold. Stop doing that, it's dishonest.

Yes, Minnow. That.

Patrick Brown

I think Minnow has a point on atheism. There is a difference between antipathy towards a non-existent being, and antipathy towards people worshipping a non-existent being, and towards powerful institutions set up to worship a non-existent being. Dawkins, and people like him, are certainly antipathetic towards religion, but you would need to believe in the existence of God to be antipathetic towards God.

He also, perhaps unusually, has a point about free markets. All markets are subject to laws and other forms of regulation, as well as cultural biases. We used to consider captive human beings an acceptable market commodity, now we don't. We used to think money lent at interest was an unacceptable market commodity, now we don't.

I'm not a socialist like Minnow, but neither am I a free-market absolutist. The state and the market depend on each other. State provides stability, market provides prosperity. When markets go wrong - a famine, a bubble, a crash - the state can step in and take action to allow the market to continue to function. If governments hadn't bailed out the banks after the credit crunch, the financial markets would have crashed, taking most of the value in the economy with them, and we'd all have ended up much poorer. Instead, the state intervened to keep the plates spinning, so all the money in circulation kept most of its value and belt-tightening has been minor. Oddly, the socialists think the free market should have taken its course and the banks should have been allowed to fail, but that's because they don't understand that money doesn't grow on trees (and they're spiteful). Meanwhile the free-marketeers blithely ignore the fact that the free market caused the crash and if it wasn't for state interventon they'd be screwed.

WTP

When markets go wrong - a famine, a bubble, a crash - the state can step in and take action to allow the market to continue to function. If governments hadn't bailed out the banks after the credit crunch, the financial markets would have crashed, taking most of the value in the economy with them, and we'd all have ended up much poorer.

Agree in principle. I would not, for instance, do away with the (US) Fed. The problem with the central bank, however is two fold. One, in the case of a panic, it is a legitimate purpose of the Fed to step in and guarantee the (bad) loans of the failed bank. However, said bank ultimately should be shut down. And Paulson's forcing the solvent banks to take bail out money they never wanted nor needed was simply socializing the risk AND the shame/guilt. The second problem with central banks is when they are seen either by themselves or by outside political pressure to be creators of wealth via "stimulus" and such. As the latter they are potentially quite dangerous.

As for the free market causing the crash, I would disagree. Though not to the full extent. Yes, it is the nature of markets to boom and bust as no one really knows the value of damn near anything until someone is willing to pay for it. The problem with the recent crash was with the latter problem described above where, since loans were ultimately guaranteed by the Fed, the banks were not sufficiently discriminating in who they loaned money to. Now of course we can blame the politicians for pressuring the banks to make bad loans but some such banks were begging to be pressured since the Fed (and ultimately the overall US economy) was the one absorbing the excess risk. And the real estate lobbyists were playing the game as well.

Thornavis.

but you would need to believe in the existence of God to be antipathetic towards God.

No you really wouldn't. Many atheists, and I think Dawkins is one, dislike the very idea of God because they believe it to be utterly irrational and that unreason has negative effects on the world. They do not distinguish between the reality or otherwise of belief and the effects of that belief. Something which is not difficult to understand when applied to other beliefs, such as say Marxism.

Meanwhile the free-marketeers blithely ignore the fact that the free market caused the crash and if it wasn't for state interventon they'd be screwed.

There's a very good video up at the Adam Smith Institute which I would recommend viewing which gives a convincing account of the real, monetary, roots of the crash and answers your pro state interventionist points well I think.

Hal

but you would need to believe in the existence of God to be antipathetic towards God.

No you really wouldn't.

To quote from popular religious liturgy; Bingo.

In Buddhism---err, sometimes better known as the practice of the Buddha-Dharma---there is no faith, there is no belief, and that certainly includes any variety of faith that proclaims that there is no such thing as a or any god . . .

The practice is to seek and achieve enlightenment---and at that point the really interesting discussions do start to occur, but that is the practice.

In the meantime, if one should actually, genuinely encounter a or any god, cool! . . . say hullo or something. In the meantime, a recurring observation is that the gods also seek enlightenment, so whether one ever actually encounters a god or does not, the practice thus continues.

Yes, btw, there are rather a few declarations all over the place that amount to a worship of a or the Buddha . . . that's lovely for 'em I'm sure, I tend to refer to that as Buddhianity, not Buddhism---From What I've Seen, all that worship of Buddhas rather interestingly starts to turn up right about the time that Eastern drifting Christianity would have reached the geographical area of the Buddhist practice, and then from there you start getting that hedging of religious bets that humams do rather tend to practice . . . .

Spiny Norman

Meanwhile the free-marketeers blithely ignore the fact that the free market caused the crash and if it wasn't for state interventon they'd be screwed.

No, not at all. Only someone who knows nothing of the government-directed alterations of the mortgage finance market in the US for over a decade beginning in 1996 would make such a claim. It was the Minnows in Washington who were primarily responsible, not the market itself: ham-fisted government manipulation of the financial sector blew up in everyone's faces.

Spiny Norman

I see WTP already made the same point.

Ah, well. Carry on...

Henry

Creationists think that Dawkins is full of 'antipathy' towards the creator, but he isn't, he is just noticing that there isn't one

Well my take on this is that Dawkins does like bashing religion. He rather enjoys setting science and religion up as rivals - as though he's battling for people's minds (rather than souls) - saving us all from unreason!

(he really does have a lot in common with religious types, if you see him that way)

Religion did a lot of different things for a long time: it gave people a way to live their lives morally, it gave people a sacred book of stories - important if you believe in the power of stories - as I do.

It also - incidentally - tried to explain the world - and science has made everyone else who tried to do that appear a charlatan*. In that small sense religion and science did come into conflict, but otherwise they are not doing the same things.

If Dawkins thinks they are then I think he's wrong, and ought to know better. I know a few people who read Dawkins and fall into the lazy assumption that religion is only a source of superstition - if only we all lived without it, we'd be fine. Life is rarely so simple.

* because science explains and predicts the world incredibly well. Miles better than any other model.

Minnow

I didn't say it was false I said they could never be totally free, a different thing, by which I meant that they could never be perfect.

But perfect and totally free are not the same thing, so I you still seem muddled. But I think you are saying that when you say 'free market' you mean 'as free as possible' which means we are agreeing that the 'free market' in the sense you (and I think many others) use the phrase has never existed (and so we do not have it to thank for the enrichment of the west). You think something close to an 'ideally free' market is achievable which I also think is nonsense, but it is hard to argue about unless you are specific about what you mean. I expect it is something like a market where all regulation is removed except for taxation sufficient to fund an army a police force and a court system that will enforce contracts. Is that right? If so I think it is a pretty obviously doomed project and I am right to say that the free market in the sense you mean it has never and will never exist and so we should stop using a silly and misleading term.

Humans are a natural phenomena are they not ? If so then it is quite possible for them to understand their own nature and to apprehend the concept of natural law as something innate to the human condition which can then take an institutional form.

None of this follows. We may be natural but entirely unable to understand our own nature, a bit like aubergines. Equally it does not follow from the fact that we are part of nature that our laws are 'natural law' unless we extend the meaning of 'natural' as to be so all-encompassing that it is functionally useless.

We have laws against incest because we naturally understand that it isn't a good thing

No we don't. We have laws against incest because we have made laws against incest and we have good reasons for them. But they are not natural and can be amended or abolished. Many other things have seemed 'natural' only very recently which turned out not to be, the laws against homosexuality being an obvious example.

the precise form of those laws will vary with culture

So it isn't 'nature' then.

We also understand the idea of freedom, it is natural to us and the notion of free markets is an expression of this.

Which is precisely the sleight of hand I accused you of earlier. Yes we understand the idea of freedom, but we don't see those ideas anywhere in what is described as the 'free market' which is closely regulated and serves ideological purposes. It is called 'free' by its boosters in order to give the idea that it is in some sense a natural phenomenon, the natural state of free men, but it isn't.

Minnow

No you really wouldn't. Many atheists, and I think Dawkins is one, dislike the very idea of God because they believe it to be utterly irrational and that unreason has negative effects on the world.

I can't speak for the 'many atheists' but this is quite wrong about Dawkins. He simply doesn't think god exists. He starts off as a believer and reason led him to disbelief , not any antipathy towards 'the idea of god'. And he has written in praise of pre-Darwinian belief and been fairly scathing of atheism before Darwin. What he doesn't like are the anti-science activism by some people who claim the authority of the supernatural to press their claims.

Patrick Brown

Spiny Norman: "It was the Minnows in Washington who were primarily responsible" (for the crash)

I don't agree. The people primarily responsible were the people who insisted on buying property at overinflated prices in the belief that prices would rise indefinitely and it would pay for itself, paying no attention to the law of supply and demand which says that if prices go so high nobody can afford them, they'll have to fall or they won't sell. The banks lent them money in the same belief, but the banks are not the market.

Thornavis: "Many atheists, and I think Dawkins is one, dislike the very idea of God because they believe it to be utterly irrational and that unreason has negative effects on the world."

I agree that Dawkins dislikes the idea of God. But disliking the idea of God is not the same thing as disliking God.

Henry: "In that small sense religion and science did come into conflict, but otherwise they are not doing the same things."

I agree. Dawkins' problem is that he thinks everybody approaches the world from the same direction he does. He's a scientist, he's trying to understand the world and its origins by theorising on the basis of the evidence. He thinks religious people are trying to do the same thing and failing. But people are attracted to religion for other reasons: wanting to be part of something bigger than themselves, wanting to believe they matter in he grand scheme of things, looking for a moral framework or a ritual routine, or just wanting to conform and not be an outcast in their community. I'm sure you can think of others. The creation stories may come with the package but are rarely the reason people are attracted to the religion in the first place.

Minnow

The banks lent them money in the same belief, but the banks are not the market.

The banks lent them money that they did not have because they were confident that their losses, if they should occur would be paid off by the public sector. They were right. But it was still a scam and would result in jail for poorer people.

Thornavis.

I agree that Dawkins dislikes the idea of God. But disliking the idea of God is not the same thing as disliking God.

I think it follows logically, if one dislikes the idea of something one must necessarily dislike the thing itself. If you know for certain that the thing in question doesn't exist then it is logical to say that you can't dislike it, however if you don't know that, and no one does in the case of God, then you can't make that claim and disliking the idea of God is tantamount to saying you don't like him. This might sound like the sort of word play that I accused minnow of but since minnow also insists on absolute precision of language I feel justified in doing the same thing.

In the case in question atheists tend to fall broadly in to two types, one doesn't or can't believe in God but does not hate the concept itself, the other regards such belief as both incorrect and harmful and often opposes religion strongly. Dawkins belongs to the second group of course but I also think he belongs to a sub set of that group which would be anti God even if they thought he existed. They have, in effect, a theodicy which regards him as evil.

Thornavis.

MInnow

It's perfectly possible to reason yourself out of a belief in something and then move to a position of real antipathy to it, it sometimes happens even with Marxists, not to mention Trots who become neo cons.

I'm not entirely convinced that Dawkins would have just followed reason to reject the idea of a deity, what's that phrase, you can't reason yourself out of a position you didn't arrive at through reason in the first place. I don't think any believer ever relies entirely on reason to support their belief and, although I obviously don't know for certain, I don't think anyone leaves religion behind entirely as a result of re-thinking their faith. We aren't quite the creatures of reason we like to imagine ourselves. To get anecdotal for a second I used to be a Christian, and I neither came to it nor left it entirely through a process of reasoned analysis, so I do feel I've some understanding of this.

Thornavis.

Minnow, again.

I would respond to your points at but you don't seem to have understood what I was saying, either about free markets or natural law, which may be my fault but I don't think we'd achieve anything by pursuing it further as our views on this are obviously so far apart that we are probably talking past each other.

However I will just say that I used to be broadly leftist of a social democratic type, apart from a very youthful dalliance with communism back in the whacky sixties, and I left that behind largely through reading the writings of various conservative and libertarian thinkers not least on economic blogs and more general ones such as this, thanks for that David and something will be going in the tip jar later.

AC1

Oh dear more of minnows brain-farts.
He's an economic creationist so you would be best to ignore his theist rantings when trying to look scientifically at economics.

Patrick Brown

Minnow: "The banks lent them money that they did not have because they were confident that their losses, if they should occur would be paid off by the public sector."

That's hindsight. One of the biggest flaws of socialism is the adversarial "class war" angle, where there has to be a bad guy to blame. Life's rarely like that.

Thornavis: "disliking the idea of God is tantamount to saying you don't like him"

Rubbish. As an analogy, one might dislike the idea of monarchy but find the occupant of the office a perfectly charming and personable individual.

Thornavis.

Rubbish. As an analogy, one might dislike the idea of monarchy but find the occupant of the office a perfectly charming and personable individual.

Whoa hold on there, you really can't compare the monarchy to God, that's not even apples and oranges. God, if he exists, is not an individual who happens to be occupying a position you don't approve of at a given moment. That was my point about theodicy, having examined the evidence Dawkins has come to the conclusion that God doesn't exist, he has also pointed out in debate with theists that the evidence also shows that the universe is a place that is indifferent to pain and suffering. If it turns out that in fact God does exist then the problem of evil is a real one and theists themselves understand this. Having rejected the idea that the universe is the creation of a benevolent deity then the implication must be that a real God would likely be evil, by human standards at least.

Rich Rostrom

Some years back, Memphis, Tennessee demolished its public housing projects. The former residents were given Federally subsidized "Section 8" rent vouchers. A few years later, two social scientists compared notes. One was examining new crime "hot spots". The other was reviewing the relocation program. They were rather horrified to discover that a map of the "hot spots" looked very much like a map of the relocated.

Here in Chicago, one occasionally sees claims that the city is "segregated". This is because there are large areas that are exclusively black. Whites are not prohibited from living in these areas, nor are blacks prohibited from living elsewhere (and many do).

Why then do these areas exist? The obvious answer is voluntary cholces, by whites and blacks. Whites avoid these areas, regardless of cost or convenience, because they find the conditions there intolerable (mainly the very high crime rates and continual street-gang violence). Some blacks put up with the conditions and don't leave - in part because wherever they move the conditions become the same.

David

Rich,

They were rather horrified to discover that a map of the [crime] “hot spots” looked very much like a map of the relocated.

Indeed. But as the litter report linked above suggests, we have quite a few people who don’t wish to acknowledge certain, quite common differences in behaviour. To the extent that a report on, as it were, litter inequality somehow fails to investigate any agency on the part of the local population. And so one might imagine that nobody is dropping the litter, no-one is responsible. It just appears, mysteriously, like overnight snow.

Surreptitious Evil

American banks lent money to people they would rationally have judge poorly or actually incapable of repaying it is because a variety of laws outlawed discrimination in mortgage lending. And the banking regulators, state and Federal, were very keen on you demonstrating how you had changed your lending policies to comply with the law. And the thing that really scares senior bank management is losing their banking licence.

There were a number of mistakes that compounded. Securitisation and "mark to market" were, on the face of it, good ideas. The first freed up capital, the second meant that asset pools were more correctly valued (and meant that bigger bonuses could be paid sooner, but they're not going to see that as a disadvantage, are they? Incentives matter.) But the big mistake the banks made was to assume that the profits from their normal mortgage lending would subsidise the dodgy lending. And it would have. Except, once you've securitised it, you can now longer cross-subsidise between functional and disfunctional tranches. And with mark to market, if there is liquidity in the market, then there is no effective value to mark to.

Other banks either invested in American banks, or in their securitised mortgage products or, Northern Rock, copied their practices for risk enthusiasm or ideological, or both, reasons. Or were simply caught up in what became a general market collapse.

Minnow will disagree from their usual position of malicious ignorance but, hey, that's what happened.

The comments to this entry are closed.

For Amazon US use this link .

Your filthy consumerism supports this blog.

Blogroll