Priests and cannibals

PXL_20240106_164326486 Priests and cannibals, prehistoric animals / Everybody happy as the dead come home, as Shriekback put it. However once again I am going to disappoint you, because other than some vague flavour that has little to do with the topic of this post.

Which is Why American cities are squalid, a subject on which everyone has an opinion. The piece, while wrong in its conclusions, isn't too bad, given its progressive-type biases (e.g. "A removal of resources for the majority, because of concerns over “misuse” by less than 1% of residents. I’m not saying those concerns aren’t well-founded" but if those concerns are well founded, you shouldn't have reflexively put scare quotes around misuse, you should have been honest enough to simply use the word). So after long revelling in the problems of having the homeless around, he notices that the system has no great trouble enforcing regulations at other times: "My favourite taco place was closed down twice during my short stint in LA, for bureaucratic reasons". And yet he fails to see the answer: the system, the police, are really bad at enforcing the law for people that won't obey, that have nothing to lose. Which in turn is part of the endless need for oversight; the failure to trust people on the spot. Which in turn is part of the awful modern reluctance of people to live with their choices. See-also Ban it harder! An unwelcome new trend in British politics in the Economist.


Good, Bad, and Terrible Options - EconLib

The number one driver of 21st century “populism” in the West is...

How I Learned to Love the American Empire

The Reactionary Case for Democracy - worth a read, but the Nietzschean part is speculative and doesn't seem to be necessary for what follows

Why the Technocapital Machine is Stronger than DEI

The Republican Party is Doomed

Populism Makes Worse People

Making a Difference and Serving the Public

* Some Unintuitive Properties Of Polygenic Disorders - ACX


Tom said...

I'm a committed leftist (and yes, most leftists should be committed), but our record in the administration of large cities is miserable in regards to dealing with public nuisance. (In some other areas we do far better than our opposition.)

Homelessness in large cities seems intractable, with NIMBY-ism and the value of property in general militating against the construction of adequate housing, and the annoying habit (not at all new) of more conservative cities and states shipping their homeless to cities run by Democrats does not help.

I personally cannot think of a real solution that would not violate the civil rights of those affected, whether they be homeless or homeowner.

Perhaps you can offer something in my stead.

William M. Connolley said...

An unhealthy emphasis on civil rights is a part of the problem. State regulation making housing absurdly expensive is another. As to "Homelessness in large cities seems intractable", the point of the post I linked to was that this isn't true, worldwide.

But ( per Popper, Hayek): society isn't a jigsaw puzzle its a tapestry; attempting to solve any one problem in isolation is generally a mistake; so I can only offer you these unsatisfying generic "solutions".

Tom said...

Utah and Finland both tried the same approach to homelessness: They built apartments and gave the key to the homeless. Unsurprisingly, it worked--less crime, better access to public services due to having a permanent address, better life outcomes. Saved money for the state, as less emergency service calls, clean-up of blighted areas, police activity...

Equally unsurprising--after this success, both Utah and Finland quit doing it.

William M. Connolley said...

I'm not familiar with those examples. The Graun or these stats about Finland don't support your "quit doing it". The Finalnd example sounds like a relatively small group of people wanted to fix the problem, and since they were the local govt, could avoid tedious bureaucracy around planning and building. I'm slightly suspicious though: despite the virtuous insistence on "paying the rent" it is unclear where the money came from.

William M. Connolley said...

See-also Book Review: Poverty, by America (by Matthew Desmond, reviewed by John F. Early for Cato).

Tom said...

I don't know if you read Kevin Drum's weblog, Jabberwocking, but he writes about this fairly frequently. One point he makes that I didn't see in the review you linked to is that Europe measures poverty quite differently, on the whole. The US doesn't count welfare (writ large) payments as income, whereas Europe does. The review does mention transfer payments, but doesn't explore the real issue of apples vs. oranges--or I didn't see it, at least.


William M. Connolley said...

I don't read KD. But the review says "These research studies argue that official American measures of poverty are overstated primarily because the Census Bureau does not count 88 percent of government transfer payments (subsidies) given to poor families" which is equivalent to "the book is wrong because it isn't counting TPs". So while the review may not mention Europe explicitly, it is explicit that the book's look at the US is wrong. And I think that's a common failing. Your KD says (https://jabberwocking.com/raw-data-how-much-do-americans-earn/) that figures from the CB are "basically fine" which seems odd. Also odd is KD finding that the poverty rate gets higher when including transfer payments etc (https://jabberwocking.com/measured-correctly-poverty-was-up-60-in-2022/). I didn't understand that.