Don’t Get Caught Out In The Cold, Now-Real Jobs & The Common Touch

Theodore Dalrymple’s got that ‘common touch:’

“Ah,” he replied, “my job was to estimate whether you were an honest man.”

Insurance!

Dalrymple finishes with:

As Dr Johnson told us, we need more often to be reminded than informed.

So you want to be in charge of everyone else in our Republic?

There’s been a lot of change, broken ladders, and new rules lately.

You’d also better learn the language of the learned these days, demonstrating care for the latest moral cause (believer or not).

I’m sympathetic to the following (which is where politicians will zero-in like heat-seeking missiles):

‘Real jobs.’

Real jobs make you physically tired, offering useful skills and knowledge through experience, and possibly a decent living if you’re willing to do the work.

You meet all kinds of people, see some dark stuff, get tempted by your own impulses and desires, and share in a few moments of profound kindness and giving.

Competence is a high bar:

This blog holds out hope that a reasonable equality-of-opportunity approach can be maintained out of the mess of grade-inflation, watered-down standards, political dipshittery and competitive meritocracy that has come about.  I suspect the rise of helicopter-parenting and over-monitored kids has a lot to do with fewer perceived opportunities and more intense competition for those opportunities.

The new society doesn’t account for everyone, of course. Social planners never can. Some of the old guard have their pants down.

James Delingpole and Carbon Mike have a discussion about what bottom-up networks can do, the importance of economic and political liberty, the erosion of common sense, and how the software tools are available to bypass the bigger players.

There is a lot of room for disruption online, outside of the old media dinosaurs, and the new media walled-gardens.

But beware: A new big-corporation, big-government, further Left academy and ‘scientific’ media landscape is likely being formed before our very eyes.

For whichever reasons you might disagree, or might know something to be untrue, don’t get caught out in the cold, now:

Ken Minogue (R.I.P.) at Standpoint Magazine from March 2009: ‘To Hell With Niceness.’

Minogue:

Many social conditions have been identified as part of the change, but behind most of them, I suggest, is a massive change in our moral sentiments: notably, a rise in the currency of politicised compassion. This is a sentiment so much part of the air we breathe that it does not even have a name of its own.

and:

This sentiment is not, of course, the niceness and decency that we rightly admire when individuals respond helpfully to others. It is a politicised virtue, which means that it is focused not on real individuals but on some current image of a whole category of people. Correspondingly, it invokes hostility towards those believed to have caused the pain and misery of others. Public discussion thus turns into melodrama.’

Perhaps there has been much movement away from existing authority towards liberation (often against an oppressor), towards the feminine (often against the masculine), towards emotion (often against ‘rationality’ and ‘(R)eason), and towards ‘niceness.’

Outcomes, not intentions:

This does not mean, of course, that there will not be a backlash against politicised decency as its nastier consequences become intolerable.

Everyone gets a degree, joins the ‘middle-class’, and our institutions just maintain course?

What about the new moral orthodoxies?

Via Charles Murray via The Harvard Crimson:

They wrote that 24 hours had passed, and Kane had not addressed the allegations that he authored racist posts on his website EphBlog over the course of several years under the pseudonym “David Dudley Field ’25.”

Kane denied endorsing white supremacy and anti-Blackness but did not reference the posts in a Friday response on a Gov 50 Slack channel obtained by The Crimson.

Two Thursday Links

Mark Steyn takes a look at the kind of society he thinks progressive Left-liberalism creates (perhaps more like California with a lot of green laws, high taxes and untenable public pensions if it has more cash, trade, tech and human capital, or perhaps more like Detroit if there’s no industry left and terrible management):

‘In reality, it would be neo-feudal, but with fatter, sicker peasants. It wouldn’t just be “economic inequality,” but a far more profound kind, and seething with resentments.’

Do you have confidence in either political party to address the jobs issue?  Are you addressing the issue on your own?

Walter Russell Mead takes a look at Maryland’s new green policies:

‘Maryland is funding green boondoggles on the backs of the poor. At NRO, Jillian Kay Melchior details how Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley has put in place green policies that have drastically raised energy prices across the state—especially for low-income residents’

Why Do People Move To Cities? From Falkenblog: ‘The Perennial Urban Allure’

Full post here.

‘So, why did most people want to move to the city? It seems like the same lure as today: freedom from a set life pattern and higher urban wages.’

Now if we focus on immigrants, economic opportunity and political stability tend to be the biggest draws.  Immigrants are usually risking a lot to get here, and they’re usually getting away from something:  dire poverty and political/religious oppression.  Life is hard, and people tend to move in migratory patterns, following the trail left by friends and family, and in some cases, free stuff, if you hand it out to them.

For Americans moving from small towns to big cities, the reasons tend to also include education and ambition, wanderlust and love:

‘People moving to the city have been illogical risk takers from the beginning. and the key is probably they like the sexual or mating opportunities inherent in large groups. Playing to that angle would bring in hipsters and gays. As to whether that’s the key to the health of cities or our nation, I doubt it, but it won’t hurt, especially because one of the best ways of making a city fun to go out in is that it’s safe for young women.’

Richard Florida suggested this trend, of hipster and gay migration, attached to a ‘knowledge’ class, is the way forward for American cities.  I suspect there is a pretty Left-Of-Center political philosophy under there with a lot of ‘class’ analysis and obsession with income inequality.

I’d been wondering about the cultural angle:  The hipsters were a third round of generally youthful rebellion (post-beat, post-hippie), fueled by a counter-culture ethos heavily invested in the Arts, individualism to the point of semi-nihilism, and harboring some collectivist tendencies.  There is a natural desire to break with the more traditional and religious models of organization typically found in small towns and rural areas, and also to follow the ‘Zeitgeist’ towards racial and ethnic diversity in meritocratic and multicultural harmony (coming with serious downsides).

The New York Times seems hyperbolically invested in this model (overlooking trade and economic opportunity as I believe Wall Street sets the pace, Park Slope and Williamsburg follow).  This is to say nothing of the political corruption for which big cities like New York and Chicago are typically known.  Big-city political machines were the way to a better life for most of those immigrant groups thrown into the pot, but they are also notoriously corrupt, full of clientalism and machine pols.

This leaves cities like Detroit, Cleveland, and Pittsburg still floating out there, unable to live off the fat of trade and finance, immigration and cheap labor, museums and tourism.  The lost industrial base, along with the lack of a strong knowledge-based economy leaves them with a brain-drain and difficult prospects.

Are energy, agriculture, low taxes and a strong private sector enough?  What about the cultural shifts going on?

Interesting reads:  Predictions are hard, especially about the future.

Virginia Postrel here:

‘As I have argued elsewhere, there are two competing models of successful American cities. One encourages a growing population, fosters a middle-class, family-centered lifestyle, and liberally permits new housing. It used to be the norm nationally, and it still predominates in the South and Southwest. The other favors long-term residents, attracts highly productive, work-driven people, focuses on aesthetic amenities, and makes it difficult to build. It prevails on the West Coast, in the Northeast and in picturesque cities such as Boulder, Colorado and Santa Fe, New Mexico. The first model spurs income convergence, the second spurs economic segregation. Both create cities that people find desirable to live in, but they attract different sorts of residents.’

Joel Kotkin. Omaha vs. San Francisco?:

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Walter Russell Mead takes a look at the blue model (the old progressive model) from the ground up in NYC to argue that it’s simply not working.  Check out his series at The American Interest.  Technology is changing things rapidly, and maybe, as Charles Murray points out, it’s skewing the field toward high IQ positions while simultaneously getting rid of industrial, managerial, clerical, labor intensive office jobs.  Even so,  we can’t cling to the past.  This is quite a progressive vision but one that embraces change boldly.  Repost-Via Youtube: Conversations With History – Walter Russell Mead

The Hoover Institution Via Youtube: Charles Murray On ‘Coming Apart’

Once you take apart the old structure, you have to criticize the meritocracy you’ve helped create: David Brooks At The NY Times: ‘Why Our Elites Stink’

Monday Quotation From Charles Kesler And A Few Thoughts on Conservatism

Related On This Site:  Cities should be magnets for creativity and culture? –From The Atlantic: Richard Florida On The Decline Of The Blue-Collar ManFrom Grist.Org Via The New Republic Via The A & L Daily: ‘Getting Past “Ruin Porn” In Detroit’… some people don’t want you to have the economic freedom to live in the suburbs: From Foreign Policy: ‘Urban Legends, Why Suburbs, Not Cities, Are The Answer’

Joel Kotkin Via Youtube: ‘Illinois Is In A Competition’

From Erica.Biz: ‘Dear California: I’m Leaving You. Here’s Why…’

Full post here.

It made the rounds a while back, but still worth a read.

‘California just isn’t worth it. My priorities have changed. I value income freedom and flexibility more than I value living near the beach. I value having a paid-off house I can call “home” more than I value having a half-million-dollar noose around my neck that declines in value by the day.’

The coast controls the legislature, and the public sector unions, greens, progressives and various lobbyists and activist groups have made living in California prohibitively expensive for many businesses, families, and the private sector.  In short, they’re hollowing out the tax base, and many people have chosen to leave.

Culturally, California has often been ahead of the curve, which would translate poorly for our nation’s fiscal health:  Environmentalism, multiculturalism and diversity, and the folks whom I call fiscally irresponsible egalitarians have been making cultural inroads across America.   They tend to define the public in Left-Of-Center fashion, heavy on the equality side of the equality/freedom equation for the sake of this discussion.

Thus, beneath such a definition of the public, public goods such as utilities, basic services, and education end up being controlled by those who can often end up free riding on the public good: public sector unions, a host of questionably important environmental regulators choking out businesses and jobs, and the worst kind of educrat who determines budgets and hiring.

The ideals guiding this definition of the public and public good clearly place impossible demands upon our institutions, which our institutions can’t practically live up to given the realities of human nature and economic scarcity.  Ironically, those who wanted more equality often end up with less equality.  Getting ahead for many people who end up in charge is still about who they know, luck, making political connections, and money, but now there are fewer people to know, more politicians and interest groups controlling the money supply while aiming for reelection, and less money all around because you’ve driven the productive people out.

More liberty isn’t a bad first step to remedy the situation, but don’t expect too much of California politics in the near future.

So goes California, so goes the nation?

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-A link for Michael Lewis’ article about California politics, public pensions and Schwarzenegger’s time in office.

-A map from Immodest Proposals on how to divide California.  Topographic crime map of San Francisco. 

-California’s anti-immigration, anti-union Democrat: Full video and background on Mickey Kaus here.

Related On This Site: Neo-conservatism partially came out of the increasingly liberal trends in our society, as folks get ‘mugged by reality,” and the response to those liberal trends.  There is always a sharp edge to people, their affairs, and the groups they form:  Victor Davis Hanson Via Youtube Via Uncommon Knowledge: ‘The New Old World Order’Victor Davis Hanson At The City Journal: ‘California, Here We Stay’

Dream big: Via Reason: ‘California’s Public Transportation Sinkhole’ A great city deserves great art extravaganzas…: L.A.’s New Public Art Piece ‘The Levitated Mass,’ Or As The American Interest Puts It: ‘A Moving Rock’

Richard Epstein At The Hoover Institution’s Defining Ideas: ‘California’s Kafkaesque Rent Control Laws’

California Dreamers From The Atlantic-A Brief Review Of Kevin Starr’s History Of California

The people who promise solutions to poverty and homlessness seem to be engaged in a utopian cost-shifting exercise which favors their interests and overlooks crime, violence and personal responsbility…hardly a way to balance the budget: Repost-Heather MacDonald At The City Journal: ‘The Sidewalks Of San Francisco’

Some concentrated wealth on top, a stalled legislature with members who know how to play the game…and a service sector beneath…that probably can’t go on forever: …From The WSJ: ‘Joel Kotkin: The Great California Exodus’

Joel Kotkin Via Youtube: ‘Illinois Is In A Competition’

 

As Kotkin highlights, there’s the service economy, and then there’s the high-end economy they’re serving, with less and less in-between.  More taxation is an attractive option and the path of least resistance for many city politicians.  He argues that working and/or middle management and/or middle income jobs are hard to find, and especially hard to find outside of public service and government.  Once that economy goes away, so goes the heart and soul of your city (see Detroit).  He argues that Chicago has got to get competitive for business again.

I suspect many libertarians and conservatives will argue that the liberal focus on the arts, culture, equality, education under the banner of rights-based liberty is being done post-mortem in many cases.  It won’t bring back the jobs and opportunity that made the city hum, and beneath those liberal ideals, where the sausage is made, are politicians fighting for less and less pie, voting for higher property taxes, cronyism, unions, and union protectionism etc.  Like New York nearly did in the 70’s, or like Harrisburg did recently, borrowing itself into bankruptcy, cities can end up in tough times.  The liberal/progressive model doesn’t help.

The city that gave us the Chicago School is facing some real challenges as is most of the rust belt.

Of course, I think it’s fair to say that not everyone has the analytical/quantitative reasoning ability and corresponding education to succeed in the developing tech marketplace and explosion of biotech and the sciences either, even if the U.S. educational system is able to re-prioritize away from its old ways (both ideological and practical) and make us more competitive again.

Walter Russell Mead takes a look at the blue model from the ground up in NYC.

Related On This Site: The current administration can’t seem to imagine a problem that doesn’t involve a government solution: How Would Obama Respond To Milton Friedman’s Four Ways To Spend Money?From Bloomberg.Com: Nancy Pelosi Says “Bankruptcy Is Not An Option”

Milton Friedman Via Youtube: ‘Responsibility To The Poor’A Few Thoughts On Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest: “Why Blue Can’t Save The Inner Cities Part I”

How to end up in a conservative position Repost-Two Sunday Quotations By Albert Jay Nock in ‘Anarchist’s Progress’…when there is socialism vs authoritarianism and fascism all around you:A Few Quotations From F.A. Hayek’s: ‘Why I Am Not A Conservative’

Cities should be magnets for creativity and culture? –From The Atlantic: Richard Florida On The Decline Of The Blue-Collar ManFrom Grist.Org Via The New Republic Via The A & L Daily: ‘Getting Past “Ruin Porn” In Detroit’

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