It never stops

The residents of the Appomattox Mobile Home Park in Hopewell, Va., have until Saturday to clear out their belongings:

For most residents at the Appomattox Mobile Home Park, the news came as a surprise: On Oct. 29, each tenant received a notice ordering them to leave the park within 30 days. No reason was given, and many residents had no place to go.

After realizing the state's Manufactured Home Lot Rental Act entitles tenants to at least 60 days' notice, the owners extended the lease until Jan. 1.

By Monday, most tenants had packed their belongings and left behind a deserted mobile home park. …

One of the last remaining tenants is Donald Goldman. … Goldman and his girlfriend bought their trailer just last year, bringing along their two big dogs. Now they're having trouble finding a new home. …

Moving the trailer is not an option.

"It's impossible to move old trailers like this," Goldman said. "I don't know of any neighbor who didn't leave their trailer behind."

All the time, everywhere. The poor have no recourse, no meaningful legal protection and nowhere left to go.

You could call that a travesty of justice. You could call that a classic example of the deck being stacked against the have-nots. You could call that an abomination before God.

Or, if you're real estate blogger Frank Rolfe, you could call that something else: An opportunity.

Here's Rolfe, writing for something called "Bigger Pockets," to helpfully explain how to exploit this opportunity for exploitation in a post titled "Why Mobile Home Park Rents Can Be Pushed Higher Than Others."

Many landlords are scared to push their rents right now. … Articles are abundant, talking about the inability of office and commercial landlords to maintain current rent levels if they want to attract or retain tenants.

Well, it’s a different story in mobile home park land. And it highlights some of the key reasons that mobile home parks are the best niche in real estate investing. …

So how can you raise mobile home park rents when every other landlord is stopped dead in their tracks? … Basically, you can continue to raise rents because the cost for the tenant to move is far higher than the resulting rent increase.

… If you want to find a class of investments that allows you to increase the rents a significant amount each year, whether it's feast or famine in the general economy, then mobile home parks are worthy of further examination.

  • Lonespark

    No, because of the way you’ve been expressing things lately. Did the text really use the term “native tribes?” I can see what you’re talking about applying to some indigenous communities here and there, but if there’s no differentiation between hunter-gatherer groups, nomadic herders, agricultural societies, etc., or between different levels of social organization, how could any comparison be meaningful?

  • http://profile.typepad.com/ministerformagic Pius Thicknesse

    @CaryB: You have to be careful of your definitions. The tribal aboriginal societies in North America that had access to stable food supplies developed very complex societies, indeed. That is not to say they were without their problems, but they developed structures of governance and were able to make a go of things quite well.

  • Joel Johnson

    @CaryB – Err, then how does he explain things like say… people like me, growing up very conservative; and then, after being given some eye-opening evidence that we’re wrong; being able to go “Oh hey, I was wrong”; and changing? I went from the far conservative end to proudly on the socialistic liberal end; with a brief stopover in ‘confused libertarian land’. I definitely feel that it is ideas and decision making that make us liberal, conservative or whatever else we are.
    As far as native tribes: How much of those statistics are impacted by technology however? Lack of adequate medical technology means what we might consider a relatively minor injury can become quite severe. Losing half your male population in a war isn’t too surprising if your entire male population is ten to a hundred individuals, and none of them have access to modern antibiotics to deal with infection.
    Additionally, pre-Geneva convention warfare is notoriously even uglier than modern warfare by leaps and bounds; and modern warfare is not pretty at all. The common practice in city sieges for a long time being “If they don’t surrender, then kill the men and rape the women; sell the survivors and loot their stuff.” – One would be hard pressed to tell me that feudal kingdoms were not, in fact, governments – and certainly not libertarian governments… and yet that was still standard practice for a very, very long time. Even today, when we’re unusually* sensitive to casualties among civilian populations, people still get slaughtered – often times by mere mistakes; and I won’t even get into the problem of military personnel abusing the civilian population (this includes both sides; not just one). Now I grant, you tend not to wipe out half of a given male population: but that’s because you’re dealing with so many more people that even if you were trying it’d be hard to pull that off. (Barring nuclear weaponry anyway. I’m just not even going there.)
    Finally, tribal societies aren’t really what I’d call libertarian at all. For one, because you cannot really generalize “tribal people are…” – because what they are is going to vary by climate, culture, contact with outsiders, and the leadership of that tribe. You can’t even generalize just about Native Americans post-establishment of the United States, because again, it just depends on where, and who. Finally, Libertarianism is a post-industrial ideology. It quite simply does not account for life before modern industry, and because of that even if you introduced a tribal society to Ayn Rand, they’d have to make modifications for the whole thing to even work.
    If you want a much, much better expression of Libertarianism and it’s faults, look to post-industrial revolution pre-trust busting/labor union western civilization. Stuff like the Triangle Shirtwaist fire, or the Battle of Blaire Mountain and everything leading up to it.
    Well here: Here is a hardly-exhaustive time-line on Wikipedia, this just being the US mind – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_labor_unions_in_the_United_States
    “Strike for an 11 hour day, 6 day work week” – noting that the strikers are children. Yes that’s right, striking so you only have to work 66 hours a day; as a child. – THAT is libertarianism at work.
    Trying to judge a modern post-industrial ideology like libertarianism (however monstrous I find it) by the state and activity of native populations is just… it doesn’t work; for a million billion reasons that should be patently obvious. It’d be like trying to judge modern Communism based on the goings on of Caligula’s Rome. It just, doesn’t compute. The same being equally true in reverse.
    I haven’t read the book, so I’m not going to judge whether or not it’s factually accurate (hell, I’m not an anthropologist either), but I’m definitely going to call BS on the interpretation you’re bringing to this thread. At the very least, even if all the information is correct; you’re wrong on comparing tribal lifestyles to libertarianism because it’s apples to typewriters.
    *And I mean this in a good way; but historically people haven’t been all that sensitive to casualties that are not on their own side, and even then only so much so. If you think it’s bad that people in Darfur or Pakistan or Iraq have suffered so much and they only get a tiny amount of attention – remember that not THAT long ago they would not merely get no mention; but rather their loss would be considered good news. Which isn’t to say the present state is ‘good’ by any stretch, but it shows you how things have changed for the better.

  • http://newscum.wordpress.com CaryB

    No, because of the way you’ve been expressing things lately. Did the text really use the term “native tribes?” I can see what you’re talking about applying to some indigenous communities here and there, but if there’s no differentiation between hunter-gatherer groups, nomadic herders, agricultural societies, etc., or between different levels of social organization, how could any comparison be meaningful?
    I don’t recall exactly what term the text used: it was quite a while ago. What does stick out in my mind is the statistics (over 50% of the men in various indigenous tribes killed in warfare) and the argument we had over whether or not it was racist.
    *shrug* most liberals don’t like to believe it because a lot of what we believe is at least partially predicated on Hobbes being wrong, and nurture over nature. We don’t like hearing that, actually, most primitive societies DO suck a lot worse than ours, which is why we don’t live in them. Or that actually, a LOT of who you are and what you believe appears to come down to genetic predisposition. The details, for example, on authoritarian personality types was very revealing. They do, for example, view things in terms of punishment, and there did appear to be a heavy component of genetic predisposition, if not predetermination. As he also pointed out, we can overcome our genes- they’re just trends, generalities and averages.

  • Lonespark

    native societies generally suck?
    Are you even reading what you write? How can you not see how bigoted and stupid it is to type something like this?
    I googled Pinker, and it looks like in The Blank Slate he quiestions a lot of social science framing assumptions that have been popular, and you’re talking about his attacks on the idea of The Noble Savage. Which is a very problematic conception built on a lot of counterfactuals. But that’s not what you actually said, and you sprinkled a lot of liberal stawfolk in for flavor.

  • http://newscum.wordpress.com CaryB

    Ok, I retract the Pinker comment.

  • Lonespark

    And none of us were even responding to libertarian aspect much, but that doesn’t seem useful either. Tribal societies do not, and most likely cannot, if they wish to thrive, place ultimate or even signgicant emphasis on individual rights.

  • sharky

    there did appear to be a heavy component of genetic predisposition, if not predetermination.
    Riiiiight. Show me the genes on the genome.
    Seriously. We’ve mapped the whole thing and 99% overlays with chimpanzee genes, so you can sort out the specifically human ones and then show me the ones for authoritarian leanings. Do this.
    (What about Aboriginal children taken from their parents and raised by white people? Did they have different scores?)

  • Tonio

    Those phrases couldn’t be more right-wing dog-whistles if they tried.

    The first phrase invokes racist beliefs about public assistance. What is the euphemistic meaning of the second phrase?

  • Joel Johnson

    @Tonio – When I’ve seen “social engineering” used on the right, it’s usually in reference to anything with a percieved left-wing bent; usually in media or education. Example: Tolerance campaigns, gay-straight alliances in highschools, movies with an overt political message… anything that is can potentially impact someone’s worldview that moves the debate leftward can get accused of it. (See the reaction to “Avatar”* on the right for example)
    At least, that’s how I’ve seen it used. To take a stab at the totalitarian part; a reference to Communism probably? But then again who knows; we haven’t read the book and it may be a lot more complex than we know. *shrug*
    *I wasn’t really a fan of Avatar myself, mostly for story reasons. >.> Well and the environmental aesop was sorta hammered a little hard for my liking. (I mean yeah, it’s important, but you don’t need to whack me over the head with a 2×4 yeesh!)

  • sharky

    I was wondering about the dogwhistle value, so I searched for “totalitarian social engineering.” One result tied it to the left, and an article that’s supposed to describe it begins:
    Now that the party of death has retaken control of Congress, battles over funding of embryonic stem cell research, chemical abortifacients, contraception, sex education, special privileges for homosexuals, and other such controversies will ensue over the next two years.
    The other results were random, so it doesn’t seem to be coded for one particular issue. Lord knows what it means, but that’s probably what makes it so useful.

  • renniejoy

    CaryB – What exactly are you retracting?

  • Will Wildman

    I’m reasonably sure ‘social engineering’ is supposed to mean ‘mucking about with the Natural Order of Society’ which in Realityese translates into ‘not encouraging people to hate or oppress other people’. So, for example, desegregation was ‘social engineering’ because it tried to make people with different melanin concentrations live together in equality, which they Were Not Meant To Do. But government intellectual elitists imagined some kind of wacky universe where it was a good idea and so they drew hermetic circles and chanted rites in the Tongue of the Old Ones and the next thing you know the world is upside down.
    It’s the same sort of fear instinct that ‘genetic engineering’ is supposed to fire.

    Cary, since the wikipedia page on The Blank Slate doesn’t reference ‘native tribes’, I’d like to know what definition you intend to get across. It can’t be the literal one, since ‘native’ just means ‘from right here’.* So I’d guess you mean native-to-a-particular-geographic-area, such as North America, in which case ‘libertarian’ is waaay too broad a brush to paint with.
    *Although as I was writing that, I did reflect briefly on the amount of changing and maturing that often goes with not merely moving out of one’s parents’ place, but way far away where people must be fully independent. It would be tragically hilarious if that was true of whole societies; everyone’s got to trade continents before they can be enlightened. (Not that I think the real world backs this up in the slightest.)

  • Andrew Glasgow

    CaryB: “Native” is a very very poor choice of words. It doesn’t mean what you appear to think it means. There are probably a number of people who read this who are, or have heritage from, “native tribes” in the U.S. and Canada, and there is a huge history of describing them in exactly the terms you are using, as being warlike, brutal, unintelligent, and inferior to “civilized” whites.
    I’d like to give you the benefit of the doubt here, and assume you’re not a racist. But you’re routinely saying really fucked-up things lately, in a lot of discussions.
    I’d like to assume you’re using “native tribes” in a non-racist way, and that you’re just ignorant of the terms that anthropologists actually use for these concepts, and your privilege allows you to ignore the negative connotations of the words you’re using. Anthropologists don’t use “native” in the way you’re doing it, nor do they use “tribe”. Those have very specific defined meanings and it is accurate to describe a society of Canadian Inuit who live in houses, drive cars, and have electricity, television and running water as a “Native Tribe” because of their historical connection to the land they live on, and the structure of their social organization.
    But you’re saying you’re familiar with the anthropological studies about these “native tribes” — by which you appear to mean pre-technological foraging, pastoral, and subsistence farming societies who live in bands or tribal groups. If that’s true you ought to be familiar with the current jargon being used in the field of anthropology, and know better than to use loaded terms like that.
    Then you go into this: “Genetics actually make quite a bit of difference, even more than your environment.”
    Seriously. WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT SUPPOSED TO MEAN?
    The immediate interpretation from the context is that the genetics of the members of these “tribes” directly contributes, “more than [their] environment” to the status of their existence as “horrible, brutal” societies.
    I’m really having trouble giving you the benefit of the doubt here, because that is a ridiculously prejudiced thing to say. It’s the kind of thing you find routinely thrown about by bell-curvers and “scientific” racists.
    Studies have consistently shown that there are very little consistent genetic differences between members of “tribes” and “civilization”. Some groups such as the !Kung who remain in a foraging or pastoral existence separate from nearby societies are genetically isolated from them. Others in similar circumstances are not significantly genetically distinct from nearby groups who have successfully adopted technology.
    So really, what the fuck, dude?
    If what you’re trying to say is that life in a pretechnological human society is unpleasant compared with life in a technological one, then say that. That’s the only coherent thing I can draw from what you’re saying that isn’t racist in content. Maybe I’m misunderstanding other things you’re saying. But they sound racist. They appear to contain the same assumptions, arguments, and conclusions that are usually made by racists.
    Incidentally, the majority of such “tribes” have government structures. Some even have monarchies, others operate as chiefdoms, or miniature republics or direct democracies. Only a very few have the minimum of what we would consider government, which would be something like the “big men” of Papua New Guinea, where individuals gain prestige and become leaders of their societies, but have no special or inheritable privileges or responsibilities.

  • renniejoy

    Lonespark – I will miss you very much if you go away. Hugs if you want them.

  • renniejoy

    Lonespark – I will miss you very much if you go away. Hugs if you want them.

  • hapax

    For one, because you cannot really generalize “tribal people are…” – because what they are is going to vary by climate, culture, contact with outsiders, and the leadership of that tribe.
    I am trying really really hard to imagine a generalization* about culture and lifestyle that would cover the Mbuti, the Yanomami, the Koori, the Yupik, and the Dine (Navaho). And those are just the ones I have read up on in a cursory fashion!
    *except that when they encounter White Europeans, their lives get immeasurably worse

  • http://newscum.wordpress.com CaryB

    CaryB – What exactly are you retracting?
    all of it.

  • Tonio

    But you’re saying you’re familiar with the anthropological studies about these “native tribes” — by which you appear to mean pre-technological foraging, pastoral, and subsistence farming societies who live in bands or tribal groups.

    That was my criticism of “native” as well. In the generic sense, it doesn’t make sense to use that word unless one is making a comparison to newcomers.

    Maybe I’m misunderstanding other things you’re saying. But they sound racist. They appear to contain the same assumptions, arguments, and conclusions that are usually made by racists.

    Yes. It’s the same reason that the field of gender essentialism is a rationalization of sexism – not necessarily the idea of the sexes having fixed properties outside of cultural conditioning, but the conclusion that such properties are why societies have been dominated by men.

  • http://newscum.wordpress.com CaryB

    *sigh*
    So I just had a conversation with my best friend in the world- a man who is like a brother to me. And he said to me that he’s been increasingly concerned about our friendship because of what he calls a “fuck-off attitude.” Which translates roughly to me doing and saying things that are hurtful to him (and this is not a guy that gets his feelings hurt easily.) And that combined with Lonespark’s comments and everyone else’s comments have really got me thinking. And what I thought were isolated incidents of assholism are emerging as a bigger pattern of- well, assholism. Things haven’t been so great lately, but thats no excuse for taking it out on others.
    I’ve been more patronizing, more uptight, more quick tempered, more, well, bigoted.
    And I’m sorry to everyone whose been bothered, harmed or hurt by my assholism. I’ll be trying to work on it.
    I guess the best way to put it is: this space is under construction, and the management appreciates your patience during this difficult process.
    Sorry again.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    1) I think you folks are arguing with the wrong person. The guy you want to take this up with is named Pinker. He’s at Harvard. Though I imagine that he’ll want you to actually read the book before you take him to task.
    2) Do any of you who take exception to the term “native tribes” have an alternative you’d like to suggest? I’ll betcha a cookie CaryB will substitute it, so long as your term refers to the same population Pinker studied.
    3) Pinker’s work here is a repudiation of the Blank Slate theory, and, to a lesser extent, the Noble Savage theory. He’s arguing that there are certain behaviors that are innately human. These behaviors would necessarily have to be encoded in our genetic make up. He’s further suggesting that, because these behaviors are genetic, then the ills of modern society are not the fault of modern society in and of itself. Have you considered that the “genetics” being referred to here are not the genetics of race, but the genetics of humanity itself?

  • http://www.timecube.com Consumer Unit 5012

    Joel Johnson: “Strike for an 11 hour day, 6 day work week” – noting that the strikers are children. Yes that’s right, striking so you only have to work 66 hours a day; as a child. – THAT is libertarianism at work.
    No, no no. Libertarianism is the divinely-created system that insures the welfare of The Undeserving Poor by giving them the 14-hour workday, insuring tranquility by keeping the filthy peasants too exhausted to cause any trouble.
    Striking is EVIL COERCION BY COMMUNISTS.

  • hapax

    @Dr Rocketscience:
    I haven’t read the book, but if the Wikipedia summary is accurate (specifically this part:

    Pinker argues that modern science has challenged three “linked dogmas” that constitute the dominant view of human nature in intellectual life:
    * the blank slate (the mind has no innate traits) – empiricism
    * the noble savage (people are born good and corrupted by society) – romanticism
    * the ghost in the machine (each of us has a soul that makes choices free from biology)[1] – mind/body dualism

    )
    I don’t feel any particular need to, because I don’t know any serious thinker who holds ANY of those positions, nor do I accept them as definitions of empiricism, romanticism or dualism.
    OTOH, if this is a misrepresentation of a more nuanced position on Pinker’s part, I suspect it will be a just another trite collection of truisms about nature vs. nurture vs neither vs both.
    As to his observations about “native tribes”, I doubt very much that Pinker had anything meaningful to say about them, since he claims absolutely zero anthropological training or experience.

  • Joel Johnson

    @CaryB – Hey, that you recognize there’s something going on is, imo, a huge thing.
    Most people who get called on stuff just go “eh, fuck you” and keep doing it. That you recognize there’s something there is important I think.
    Besides, speaking only for myself; I have had a long battle with being a bitter bastard myself. There’s some good reason for it to be there; but it’s hardly something I like about myself, and yet it still comes out from time to time. That and there are areas where my education is incomplete, or that I’ve simply misunderstood things; or just plain old stuffed my foot down my own throat so far it comes out the backside… >.< (Like flipping my car end over end; THAT was a mistake… and I was completely sober too I don’t even drink!)
    @Dr. Rocketscience – I did try to distinguish between refuting points and noting that the book itself may not be quite that way. There is a long history of people taking scientific research and misunderstanding it to come to bad conclusions after all. On the other hand, there’s reason to be skeptical of the premise too – I have a hard time believing that much of human nature is hard-coded into us. Maybe that’s just the optimist buried in me; but I like to think that someday there’s the ability to get beyond the nastiness of the human condition.
    Of course that said, it’s a long way off, and I strongly feel that for that to happen will require each successive generation to be better and better educated.
    @Consumer Unit 5012 – lol ><
    That's actually something that's always baffled me a bit btw…
    How is it that libertarians are totally OK with the excesses of industry; including price fixing/gouging/etc always using the whole "well you can go elsewhere if you want"… but when it comes to labor, and organizing labor in order to demand fair treatment – things which logically you'd think someone for maximal personal liberty would be OK with it. After all, to deny the legitimacy of unions, you have to deny unionizers right to free association; and you have to accept that while it's OK for industry heads to collude with each other to screw customers… people don't the work on the base level are not allowed to collude in order to improve their treatment.
    That's ten kinds of confounding.

  • http://newscum.wordpress.com CaryB


    How is it that libertarians are totally OK with the excesses of industry; including price fixing/gouging/etc always using the whole “well you can go elsewhere if you want”… but when it comes to labor, and organizing labor in order to demand fair treatment – things which logically you’d think someone for maximal personal liberty would be OK with it.

    For that matter, how come they’re not fine with the desire of the rest of us to have our freely elected government of our choice? It seems to me that if you REALLY believe in freedom and free choice and democracy, and everybody else chose “system you found oppressive” the best thing to do would be to leave everyone to the system they freely chose, whether you like it or not.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/ministerformagic Pius Thicknesse

    Isaac Asimov once wrote of what he felt was an inappropriate nostalgia for feudal/manorial-era time periods; he pointed out that the unstated assumption by people expressing such nostalgia was that they would be at the apex of the social pyramid – the kings and dukes who could live lives of leisure instead of the far greater likelihood of being among the preponderance of the dispossessed serfs and poor craftsworkers who, at best, might receive enough to live on to keep their lives going.
    These Libertarians are basically doing the modern equivalent thereof – fantasizing themselves the CEO and not the worker. As a result their contempt for labor is unsurpassed and unbounded in the extreme.

  • http://www.etsy.com/shop/sunbowgems MercuryBlue

    I really gotta find the cite for that survey that showed that most everyone asked to design a society, knowing going in that their place in the society would be randomly assigned, went heavy on the social safety net.

  • Steve Morrison

    striking so you only have to work 66 hours a day; as a child.

    Well, when we were kids, we really did have to work 66 hours a day! And when we walked their and back, it wasn’t just uphill both ways, it was uphill in every direction!! Those wimpy “Four Yorkshiremen” just had no idea how soft their childhoods were.

  • Steve Morrison

    And they didn’t even teach us to spell “there” correctly, either…

  • http://profile.typepad.com/lorik922 Lori

    How is it that libertarians are totally OK with the excesses of industry; including price fixing/gouging/etc always using the whole “well you can go elsewhere if you want”… but when it comes to labor, and organizing labor in order to demand fair treatment – things which logically you’d think someone for maximal personal liberty would be OK with it.

    Indeed. The free market types who screamed bloody murder (literally) over “illegal combinations” by workers, i.e. unions, had no problem with manufacturers associations and similar business groups that allowed management to exploit workers more effectively. Those were sacred expressions of the right to free association.
    One would almost get the idea that “freedom” isn’t really the issue.

  • hapax

    One would almost get the idea that “freedom” isn’t really the issue.
    “Freedom”‘s just another word for “I’m not allowed to lose”,
    And nothin’ ain’t worth nothin’ if it’s fer thee;
    Feelin’ good is easy when it’s up to me to choose;
    And feelin’ good is good enough fer me; good enough fer me’n’my Party o’ Tea.

  • Winter

    Here, have an internet, hapax.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/ministerformagic Pius Thicknesse

    You’d think the Tea Partiers and Libertarians who want to not lose, ever, would choose a society that ended up making it their de facto ideology: something like the Soviet Union, where failure was never punished, even if success was rarely rewarded.

  • Xavier

    Indeed. The free market types who screamed bloody murder (literally) over “illegal combinations” by workers, i.e. unions, had no problem with manufacturers associations and similar business groups that allowed management to exploit workers more effectively. Those were sacred expressions of the right to free association.

    “We rarely hear, it has been said, of the combinations of masters, though frequently of those of workmen. But whoever imagines, upon this account, that masters rarely combine, is as ignorant of the world as of the subject. Masters are always and everywhere in a sort of tacit, but constant and uniform combination, not to raise the wages of labour above their actual rate. To violate this combination is everywhere a most unpopular action, and a sort of reproach to a master among his neighbours and equals. We seldom, indeed, hear of this combination, because it is the usual, and one may say, the natural state of things, which nobody ever hears of. Masters, too, sometimes enter into particular combinations to sink the wages of labour even below this rate. These are always conducted with the utmost silence and secrecy, till the moment of execution, and when the workmen yield, as they sometimes do, without resistance, though severely felt by them, they are never heard of by other people. Such combinations, however, are frequently resisted by a contrary defensive combination of the workmen; who sometimes too, without any provocation of this kind, combine of their own accord to raise the price of their labour. Their usual pretences are, sometimes the high price of provisions; sometimes the great profit which their masters make by their work. But whether their combinations be offensive or defensive, they are always abundantly heard of. In order to bring the point to a speedy decision, they have always recourse to the loudest clamour, and sometimes to the most shocking violence and outrage. They are desperate, and act with the folly and extravagance of desperate men, who must either starve, or frighten their masters into an immediate compliance with their demands. The masters upon these occasions are just as clamorous upon the other side, and never cease to call aloud for the assistance of the civil magistrate, and the rigorous execution of those laws which have been enacted with so much severity against the combinations of servants, labourers, and journeymen. The workmen, accordingly, very seldom derive any advantage from the violence of those tumultuous combinations, which, partly from the interposition of the civil magistrate, partly from the necessity superior steadiness of the masters, partly from the necessity which the greater part of the workmen are under of submitting for the sake of present subsistence, generally end in nothing, but the punishment or ruin of the ringleaders.”
    Adam Smith, fucking commie.

  • renniejoy

    CaryB – thank you.

  • http://www.kitwhitfield.com Kit Whitfield

    I’ve read The Blank Slate. A while ago, but when talking about politics, I think it’s worth citing what he says about it.
    He’s of the opinion that left-wing and right-wing politics are, like pretty much everything else according to his theory, hard-wired. More specifically, he argues that left-wing politics are founded in a utopian view of human nature and right-wing politics in a ‘tragic’ view.
    He reckons that left-wing people believe that human nature is perfectible, that a positive environment can create ideal people, and that’s why we’re in favour of social change.
    He reckons that right-wing people believe that human nature is inherently and unchangeably flawed, and that’s why they’re in favour of preserving authority and see no point in improving people’s circumstances.
    Now, perhaps it’s just because I’m left-wing that I think it sounds like he’s calling me a pie in the sky thinker, but it’s more than that. I’m left-wing, and I believe that human nature is unchangeably flawed. I’m left-wing because I think that human nature is unchangeably flawed. I think that people have a natural tendency to be selfish, that it varies from individual to individual but that most people can compartmentalise their feelings to their own benefit and take advantage of others, and that most people put their own interests ahead of other people’s.
    For which reason, I think we desperately need laws that restrain the powerful, because powerful people putting their interests first are simply more able to do social harm than anyone else, and that we also need laws and structures that provide a minimum standard of life for the powerless, because people are less likely to be anti-social if they have something to lose.
    I’m left-wing, in short, because I think that people are imperfect and need to be restrained by laws, and the people with more capacity to do harm – which is the rich and powerful – need to be restrained more because they can do more. I also think that right-wing thinking is often utopian and based on ideas about human perfectibility. Abstinence education comes to mind. So does trickle-down economics and the general sense on the right that having money somehow shows your virtue.
    So while I don’t know which way Pinker votes, his arguments do not accurately reflect left-wing thinking, at least as observed by me. I’ll note, too, that since his whole thesis is that human nature is somewhat fixed, it seems reasonable to believe that he favours a view of human nature that doesn’t think it’s perfectible, which is to say, a right-wing one. Could be wrong, but that’s how it seems to me.
    His book is an interesting theory, but it’s not the whole picture by any means. It’s also rather I-have-a-hammer-ooh-look-everything-suddenly-looks-like-a-nail. He’s a professional linguist who went wildly outside his field of expertise because he had a theory; it contains some interesting observations and he knows what he’s talking about within a limited area, but he makes some pretty massive leaps. In short, he’s doing what some people do, which is start trying to formulate a Theory of Everything based on skills and insights that are specifically formulated to deal with their own field, failing to acknowledge that being an expert on their particular field doesn’t qualify them to be an Expert on Everything. When people do that, they tend to get cranky and run into unconscious incompetence. I’d consider it a contribution to a debate, but I wouldn’t consider it authoritative.

    @CaryB: good for you and your new year’s resolution. SInce we’re discussing bigoted language, can I also point out that ‘primitive societies’ is a horribly racist use of language, and one that you’ll probably want to strike if you’re working on your bigotry?

    It seems to me that we’ve had quite a few people of late saying they find Slacktivist a less safe and comfortable place than they used to, and some are considering leaving. From what I’ve read – and I’ll admit that I’ve not been around constantly – it seems that they are not all complaining about the same person, and that they’re not all coming from the same political place either.
    This troubles me.
    I’m no authority here, but as a community member, I’d like to propose a summit to discuss this issue. Can I get a second?

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Hearts Club Band

    Kit, I wouldn’t be considered a regular (although I read every post), but if it counts I’ll back you up. Even with the events of recent days I’m thinking about dropping out of the comments section altogether, and it’s not just about a single person or political view. Not that I want a summit to discuss my beef with things of late, but I am one of the (quieter) people you refered to.

  • Joel Johnson

    I’m too new to know what’s causing trouble; but I’ll always advocate talking out a problem rather than fracturing the community. (Hopefully I’m not causing too much trouble ><)

  • http://newscum.wordpress.com CaryB

    I’m no authority here, but as a community member, I’d like to propose a summit to discuss this issue. Can I get a second?
    First- righty-o on the “primitive” issue. Stricken.
    Second- I third. Or fourth. I guess thats sort of whats going on in the Excruciating thread.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com/ Ross

    By the way. I just found this: Cautionary tale of an Objectivist College. It’s a few months old and is reporting on something a few years old, so sorry if this is tred ground, but still, I think it’s kinda a page out of “Atlas Shrugged 2: And then THree Weeks later, Galt resorted to cannibalism”

  • http://profile.typepad.com/mmy mmy_whose ‘to read’ list keeps getting longer

    @Kit Whitfield: I’m no authority here, but as a community member, I’d like to propose a summit to discuss this issue. Can I get a second?
    Second.
    Yes, I too have felt uncomfortable here more than once in the last few months. My issue was not with MadG but with others.
    Also Kit — in my opinion you have one of the pleasant writings styles. I hope I get a chance to read you for a long time.
    @Kit Whitfield: . It’s also rather I-have-a-hammer-ooh-look-everything-suddenly-looks-like-a-nail. He’s a professional linguist who went wildly outside his field of expertise because he had a theory; it contains some interesting observations and he knows what he’s talking about within a limited area, but he makes some pretty massive leaps. In short, he’s doing what some people do, which is start trying to formulate a Theory of Everything based on skills and insights that are specifically formulated to deal with their own field, failing to acknowledge that being an expert on their particular field doesn’t qualify them to be an Expert on Everything.
    This – underlined. With bright neon lights.
    My own particular area of PoliSci specialty is American Studies — and one of my prelim questions was “Theorize as to why there has been no major party re-alignment nor the development of a new major national American political party in the last 100 years.”
    I spent years in preparation so I would be able to respond to that question. I spent several days on Slacktivist averting my eyes from people who had grand theories that explained everything about third parties in the US knowing that few of those people had read enough to justify the sureness of their answers.
    @CaryB: Thank you.

  • Hawker Hurricane

    My own particular area of PoliSci specialty is American Studies — and one of my prelim questions was “Theorize as to why there has been no major party re-alignment nor the development of a new major national American political party in the last 100 years.”
    Posted by: mmy_whose ‘to read’ list keeps getting longer | Jan 03, 2011 at 02:11 PM
    —————————-
    So, if you have time, can you give a short answer to the question as to why there hasn’t been a major party re-alignment/no new major party in the past 100 years? I totally understand if its not possible/don’t have the time.
    My own answer, as a history major, is that there was a major re-alignment 50 years ago that we still haven’t completely digested: the split between the northern Democrats and Southern Democrats over civil rights, and the subsequent abandoning of civil rights and absorbing of the Southern Democrats (Dixiecrats) by the Republicans (Southern Strategy).
    Has a fuzzy headed wishful thinker, I keep on hoping for a new re-alignment where the Republicans disintegrate under the weight of thier own contradictions and the rise of a liberal party to the Democrats left. But it keeps on not happening.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/femgeek1 Melle

    Kit Whitfield: He reckons that left-wing people believe that human nature is perfectible, that a positive environment can create ideal people, and that’s why we’re in favour of social change.
    Which really sounds to me like a rephrasing of the old saw that “If you’re not a liberal* at twenty, you have no heart; if you’re not a conservative at forty, you have no brain.” Especially in light of what you point out further down:
    I’ll note, too, that since his whole thesis is that human nature is somewhat fixed, it seems reasonable to believe that he favours a view of human nature that doesn’t think it’s perfectible, which is to say, a right-wing one.
    And my response to that has always been much like yours: I’m not a leftist because I’m a starry-eyed idealist, I’m a leftist because I’m cynical about humanity. Hectopete**, the libertarian free market ideology certainly of “People will always make the most profitable choice, in spite of racism/sexism/homophobia/transphobia/all manner of assorted -ismns and personal prejudices” certainly seems much more naive to me than “Hey, since people are often kind of douchey, could we maybe put some rules in place to, you know, stop them? No?”
    (* Actually, I heard it as “socialist” rather than “liberal,” but then liberalism is right of center in Belgium, so I translated to a more equivalent term in US, er, terms.
    ** *hat tip to hapax for blatant nicking of her phrase*)

  • http://profile.typepad.com/mmy mmy_whose ‘to read’ list keeps getting longer

    @Hawker Hurricane: So, if you have time, can you give a short answer to the question as to why there hasn’t been a major party re-alignment/no new major party in the past 100 years? I totally understand if its not possible/don’t have the time.
    My own answer, as a history major, is that there was a major re-alignment 50 years ago that we still haven’t completely digested: the split between the northern Democrats and Southern Democrats over civil rights, and the subsequent abandoning of civil rights and absorbing of the Southern Democrats (Dixiecrats) by the Republicans (Southern Strategy).

    I wish I could give a good short answer–most of the possibilities revolve around the things you mentioned. When last the two major parties had separations great enough to make them split into two those fractured remnants (one from each of the existing parties) eventually fused together. The thing is that now (and for quite some period of time) you can imagine part of the Democratic party splitting off and joining with a faction of the Republicans there is no portion of the Republican party that would be happy to join with the remaining rump of the Democratic Party.
    Making things even more complicated is that the ever right-ward tilt of both parties does not mirror changes in the population — although it more clearly mirrors changes in the voting population and even more closely mirrors changes in those groups that fund elections.
    So I guess the shortest answer is that the increasing cost of running a campaign and the changes in the ways those costs are funded have had a real impact on the possibility of party realignment.
    One of the problems in the US is the way in which the electioneering has become something that is almost completely media dominated. I ran election campaigns in Canada for less than 25 thousand dollars. My candidate had spent the last two years knocking personally on every door in the riding. It was my home riding and I could have confidently told you how every single poll in the riding would vote. I myself had been to many of the doors. We had only the tv presence that Canadian Election law mandated (amount of time that we were given by law) and at least one of the other parties had a tv ad made just by putting a camera on a desk and had their candidate talk to it.
    Politics and campaigning is still, to an amazing extent, retail rather than wholesale in Canada — which means that you can get your candidate in front of the voters for very little money if you are willing to work your ass off. And that only works if voters are willing to vote for a “new brand” something that most American voters won’t do.

  • Hawker Hurricane

    mmy, I see.
    I’ve heard it said that in American politics, we have the pro-business, pro-choice party, and a pro-business, pro-life party.
    I recently had a “Aha!” moment, but avoided bringing it up to avoid flaminess: on social issues, conservatives have been losing. Not fast enough, nor have they totally lost, but a little at a time the issues they back have been settled in the liberals favor: civil rights, women’s rights, gay rights have all been inching (all to slow, I know) to the left.
    But in economic issues, the conservatives have been winning: union busting, taxes, military spending, care for the poor and needy. This is causing a disconnect: both sides are convinced that the other side is a disaster for the country, and (in a way) both sides are correct.
    I’ll point out that the victories on the left aren’t hurting people, unlike the victories of the right.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/mmy mmy_whose ‘to read’ list keeps getting longer

    @Hawker Hurricane: in economic issues, the conservatives have been winning: union busting, taxes, military spending, care for the poor and needy. This is causing a disconnect: both sides are convinced that the other side is a disaster for the country, and (in a way) both sides are correct.
    I would agree. From the point of view of the right the left are remaking the country into a place where they (the right) don’t want to live. A country of interracial marriage, where people can be openly gay and where there are fewer de facto tests of religion. To them this is anathema.
    From the point of view of the left the right have won the really important wars. So now the right and the poor, the gay and the straight, the ‘believer’ and the atheist have an equal right to sleep under a bridge. But there are going to be far more poor people and monetary segregation will be, I fear, harder to break that was the colour-based version. The Supreme Court has been routinely giving corporations more rights and privileges as it removes or limits them for mere people. One might argue that the left has lost their place in the argument. They are busy fighting about the wrong rights. Rich women will always have access to abortions — just as they did before Roe v. Wade. The rich will have access to birth control even if HMO’s stop covering that service. The rich can always move to another town or buy bottled water.
    And, as a relative proportion of the nation’s population, the poor are growing in number.

  • Hawker Hurricane

    I’ve said before (here?) that The Robber Barons do not care about social issues, because they can get around them. Prayer in school? Thier kids go to private school anyway. Abortion? They go to where it’s legal or the law won’t prosecute them. Integration? Private school again. Gay rights? Money buys rights.
    The Robber Baron class doesn’t care about any of it, so eventually it gets better. They don’t oppose or support. But on money: oh, my. Repeal the estate tax! (OK, first hire a PR guy to come up with a better name. Death Tax!) Eliminate enviormental laws near where the factory is! (But not near the gated community where they live.) We can make money selling weapons? Bribe congressmen and flag officers! (And have the occassional war where they’ll get expended and replaced. Come up with an excuse.)
    And so on.
    So, they oppose the social issues to get votes, but don’t care enough to actually oppose. So (repeating myself) the social issues get better an inch at a time, except where they overlap economics (which you noted).

  • http://wayfarers-church.co.nr Ray

    Arguing with Libertarians about the rights of the poor NOT to be gouged is, IMO, like discussing sex with virgins, all theory and no practical experience. To all intents and purposes the universe they (libertarians) inhabit is not the same one as the rest of us.

  • Hawker Hurricane

    Ray: Libertopia.
    Communism and Libertaranism share many things in common. The one that strikes me most is that both require perfect people to work.
    The difference is that Communism thinks that people can be trained to be perfect, while Libertarianism thinks they already are perfect but government makes them unperfect.

  • Toby

    “You could call that a travesty of justice. You could call that a classic example of the deck being stacked against the have-nots. You could call that an abomination before God.”
    I think that attitude pretty much sums up why Fred is great.


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