2019-01-13

Tucker Carlson has sparked the most interesting debate in conservative politics?

49739198_2167080283356893_8140536757771829248_n I almost decided to pass this one up. But it touches on so much that I'm interested in that I can't. Starting on Twatter via the obligatory I-disagree-with-David-Roberts I find my titular post, by someone called Jane Coaston. TC I know nothing of and care less, but he appears to be manifesting the familiar kind of right-wing populism: that god-fearing honest white folks just can't get along nowadays what with all the evil global elite bankers at the top and the evil mexicans doing all the hard work at the bottom. After lots of wurble the article finally links you to the correct answer: libertarians have critiqued Carlson’s monologue as well, so that's nice, and spares me from having to write a whole pile of stuff. But you don't get off totally unscathed:

The article ends with a question, which is presumably intended to be tricky: But what to do about those dying little towns, and which dying towns we care about and which we don’t, and, most importantly, whose fault it is that those towns are dying in the first place. But the answer is easy: let them die. The structure of our landscape and the distribution of population has been shaped by various historical forces, if those forces no longer apply there is no point in propping up the corpses. Why "whose fault is it" is the most important question is a mystery to me; the desire to blame someone for every problem is stupid, and in this case there is no one person or thing that is to blame, just the march of progress.

Which points to the solution to the overall problem. The problem, of course, being that things aren't like they were in the old days. The solution, of course, is that things aren't like they were in the old days. Or, in their own words Capitalism/liberalism destroys the extended family by requiring people to move apart for work and destroying any sense of unchosen obligations one might have towards one’s kin. Which I take to be typical of the usual sort of claims. But of course it isn't true. Changes - liberalisations - in society give people more choices; they no longer need to remain in the same place as their parents; and taking advantage of that freedom is popular, and comes with some disadvantages. Perhaps, over time, we'll come to feel that it wasn't such a good choice. But to blame the freedom you've been given for your own choices is childish.

Refs

* A reasonably decent article on Hobbes in TLS.
The Myth of Capitalism: Monopolies and the Death of Competition. Jonathan Tepper and Denise Hearn. A review... - Bronte Capital
Oft-quoted paper on spread of fake news turns out to be…fake news
* The Spontaneous Evolution of Commercial Law - BRUCE L. BENSON
* The Right Should Reject Tucker Carlson’s Victimhood Populism - DAVID FRENCH
* A Failure to Adjust. We can't blame all of the struggles of the working class on "China Shock" -  SCOTT LINCICOME
* Standing Still is Not an Option by DON BOUDREAUX in CREATIVE DESTRUCTION

25 comments:

CapitalistImperialistPig said...

You are likely right that nothing is to be done, but probably not so much about the result being "more freedom." Yes, there is indeed a bit more freedom for some, but many others who would prefer to live in small towns find that it's not economically feasible. Freedom to starve isn't very attractive. Most people are flotsam and jetsam tossed about in the currents of capitalism whether they will or nil.

There is lots of evidence that people were designed by evolution to live in communities where everyone knew everyone. The devastating opioid epidemic in the US, which kills as many as our worst wars, is at least partly the result of the destruction of the social and economic basis of community.

J C Brookes said...

I agree entirely. But here in Australia the same question comes up in relation to remote indigenous communities. If these were towns, they would die very quickly, as there is no economic basis for their survival, and the residents would drift off. But it is a lot harder for an aborigine from a remote community to just "drift off". Most have nowhere to go and no useful skills.
I'm not sure of the solution, but one is needed, because many lives are wasted in these remote ghettos.

Russell Seitz said...

Meanwhile, back on PLanet Aristotle
https://www.the-tls.co.uk/articles/public/thomas-hobbes-footnotes-to-plato/

William Connolley said...

> a bit more freedom for some

Your view is too limited. There is a massive increase in freedom for very large numbers of people.

> many others who would prefer to live in small towns find that it's not economically feasible

Here you fall victim to nostalgia, and give aid+comfort to the likes of Trump; and your thinking is muddy. In the case of freedom-to-move, this is an individual freedom, "granted" by lack of oppression: no-one prevents you leaving your old place, and the people in the new place don't prevent you arriving; and the govt doesn't get in the way. The case of those whose "freedom" to follow their preference for small town life is different. They, themselves, are not constrained or coerced. What is missing for their "freedom" to live as they wish is that others don't want to do the same and so the environment they desire does not exist; your apparent desire to give them their wishes can only be achieved by constraining others.

> designed by evolution

Stripped of teleology, I'm not entirely unsympathetic to the notion, it's the conclusions that you draw from it I oppose.

> remote indigenous communities

You will call me unsympathetic, but: if they want to be truely indigenous, they don't need jobs or contact with the modern world. Unfortunately they're stuck half way: they have come to depend on the modern world, but don't have skills to contribute to it.

Steve M said...

Towns don't die quietly though. They fester then vote for things that wreck the rest of the country.

William Connolley said...

> fester then vote...

Indeed; and this is the point at which my preferred solution enters naive idealistic territory: we need pols who will say "I'm sorry your town is dead we're not going to prop it up, on general principles", and we need people who will vote for such pols. The world being what it is, people prepared to vote that way would call forth pols to say it.

CapitalistImperialistPig said...

@WC - What is this additional freedom you laud? When were small town people not free to move to cities? What has changed is that people are no longer as free to stay in small towns.

Tom said...

America has a long and rich tradition of ghost towns. There are hundreds of them, starting with the very first colony at Jamestown. People pay money to visit ghost towns.

'There is a lot of ruin in a nation.'

Nathan said...

"You will call me unsympathetic, but: if they want to be truely indigenous, they don't need jobs or contact with the modern world. Unfortunately they're stuck half way: they have come to depend on the modern world, but don't have skills to contribute to it."

The 'towns' were set up by the Govt when they moved them off the land (ie stole it from them).
would be little unfair to then blame them for becoming dependent.

William Connolley said...

> When were small town people not free to move to cities?

In the USofA, it's probably always been true, at least in principle (but there are of course graduations). Back in the days of serfs in Europe, it definitely wasn't. There are graduations in between.

David B Benson said...

Unfortunately the rivers are not re served just for the indigenous fisherfolk so they have no choice but to interact with the majority civilization

The Navahos were forced onto a dreadful reservation. Bad deal for them so again forced to interact.

Don't opine about matters outside your ken; doing so demotes one to the ignorati. See the Urban Dictionary.

David B Benson said...

In Canada, but consider the plight of the Wet'suwet'en Nation which has no treaty with Ottawa.

J C Brookes said...

"The 'towns' were set up by the Govt when they moved them off the land (ie stole it from them). would be little unfair to then blame them for becoming dependent."

It is the custom in Australia to acknowledge at important events that they are occurring on the land of the Koori (or another aboriginal group) people. A wag suggested that some bigwig start a speech by taking someone else's iPhone, and acknowledging that it is (say) Nathan's iPhone, but then to not give it back...

Phil Hays said...

Headline says most of it.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/15/opinion/brexit-vote-corbyn-may.html

Britain Is a Nation in Desperate Need of a Driver

After a historic Brexit vote, the country requires a miracle of statesmanship. Too bad it has Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn.

Phil Hays said...

Oh, and more on carbon tax second thoughts:

https://www.nationalreview.com/corner/carbon-tax-clean-energy-innovation-coal-industry-workers/

The only possible carbon tax might be one far too small to matter.

Nathan said...

Would be interesting to see if the pursuit of Freedom extends (in William's mind) to open borders everywhere. This would be magnificent for Third World countries, but terrible for things like bio-security.

"A wag suggested that some bigwig start a speech by taking someone else's iPhone, and acknowledging that it is (say) Nathan's iPhone, but then to not give it back..."
Indeed!

Nathan said...

"Unfortunately the rivers are not re served just for the indigenous fisherfolk so they have no choice but to interact with the majority civilization"

and in terms of the ODOV (or rather is it one million dollars one vote? Who knows) from the previous post. Giving more voice to those with the cash has led to this:

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/jan/10/darling-river-fish-kill-cotton-industry-says-it-wont-be-the-whipping-boy-for-disaster

A long predicted result of poor regulation

Especially when this guy is the water minister
https://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-07-26/barnaby-joyce-government-wont-intervene-murray-darling/8743952

William Connolley said...

> https://www.nationalreview.com/corner/carbon-tax-clean-energy-innovation-coal-industry-workers/

The title of that is "Rethinking Carbon Taxes" but there isn't much thinking going on in it. It's just yet another article luke-warm on carbon taxes, apparently astonished that CT isn't revenue-neutral on an individual basis. Duh.

> Freedom extends... to open borders everywhere

This is where I'm not yet ready to fully endorse the position of Libertarians. But if you're a proper right-on-kind-to-refugees sort of person, then the Libertarians are your true friends, since only they endorse open borders everywhere. https://openborders.info/donald-boudreaux/.

Sam said...

It's all very well being all self satisfied and contrarian by saying "let the places die", and indeed long term it's probably the right answer. But in the short term, the costs of those places dying will fall most heavily on those who are least able to adapt, such as the elderly, the sick, unemployed and so on. Thanks to the vagaries of our housing market people might have significant capital tied up in a house they can't sell, again tying them somewhere. It's not as though one can buy insurance against one's home town starting to decay (market failure!), I'm sure that people in Rotherham in the 40's won't have forseen the economic decline of the town a half century later. So we can think of propping the place up via various subsidies, benefits or whatever as constituting a form of insurance against localised economic decline, softening the blow until economic forces have done their thing.

William Connolley said...

> long term it's probably the right answer

Then that needs to be said up front. And it needs to be clear that what is done to "help" is just propping up a corpse, not a long-term solution. Because all these "short term" subsidies have a tendency to turn permanent.

> the costs of those places dying will fall most heavily on

This is always true. We should not be designing a system to provide Ultimate Justice to everyone, because this is not possible.

> significant capital tied up in a house they can't sell

If you mean, "can't sell because no-one will buy" then no, they don't. Something you can't sell because no-one wants to buy it has no capital value.

> starting to decay (market failure!)

This isn't a market failure.

> a form of insurance

Well no. The propping up isn't insurance; it's the payout. The "insurance" analogue is the knowledge that the govt will do that. But just as with the too-big-to-fail banks; or the US govt flood insurance, that comes with moral hasard of people failing to think for themselves, knowing that someone else gets to shoulder the risk.

Sam said...

>> just propping up a corpse, not a long-term solution.

I disagree with this analogy. I would argue that a more appropriate analogy would be something like hospice care for someone approaching their end of their life, in which the inevitable is accepted but pain is minimised.

> We should not be designing a system to provide Ultimate Justice

Which is not what this is. Look at it as a form of risk pooling against ending up living somewhere that falls into decay.

> If you mean, "can't sell because no-one will buy" then no, they don't. Something you can't sell because no-one wants to buy it has no capital value.

You know what I meant. They could be stuck paying a mortgage because they're underwater, could have lost a significant chunk of their net worth because of property price declines, etc.

> This isn't a market failure.

I was referring to the inability to buy insurance to protect oneself against things like this.

> moral hasard

I really struggle to picture the moral hazard argument here. What, are people just going to deliberately try to make their home town less economically dynamic or move to declining areas to hoover up benefits? It's not like people are clamouring to move to Stoke. Besides which, people can be stubborn enough without enducement. There's some town in the US with a coal fire raging under it since like the 60's, making it incredibly unsafe, and yet a handful of people still live there. If you don't tailor your policies to the fact that some people will want to stay and that unlike firms, towns simply won't pop out of existence

CapitalistImperialistPig said...

In a decade or three, most work will be done by robots and most people either will be (a)left to starve or (b)supported by government grant. If (b), small towns may well come back.

William Connolley said...

Ah, the std ze-robotz-are-comink stuff. Just like no-one would have a jobs after all the farms were mechanised, and so on.

CapitalistImperialistPig said...

@WC - Sarcasm is a great argument, it bypasses all that hard fact and logic stuff.

William Connolley said...

You offered no facts and no logic, so can hardly complain about getting the std.answer. But I'm pretty sure we've discussed this before... here for example. I gave up when you didn't even understand the point about benefits going to consumers, because your're too obsessed with workers versus capital. But that does seem to be most of it. FWIW, I subscribe to the doctrine that I hinted at in the mechanisation of farming post; but since that just bounced off, and since I don't actually have any ideas of my own, I'm not going to push that discussion unless you're interested. If you are interested, consider starting with some "hard fact" and draw conclusions from it using "logic".