The Problems Are Deep Within Us, So Try And Get The Incentives Right

A reader sends a link to The Confessions Of Bernhard Goetz, subway vigilante:

There’s a lot here: Genuine threat (thugs), fear, real victimization (previous muggings and a likely soon-to-be mugging), but also serious ignorance and over-reaction.

I imagine Goetz was a bit like a feral animal fleeing out of that subway car, up the station stairs and into the night.

From min 33:40:

The question to be litigated was whether the community would make a judgment about his (Goetz) own good faith belief….are we in a position to condemn him for over-reacting?

On that note: So bad, but awfully good at satisfying an urge. The cinematic glorification of vigilantism can make victims of plot and good character development:

The crime back then was so bad that some citizens stood up to protect their own and others, defying police and transit authorities.

Who can you really trust?

So much high and low in a big city, so much to learn about turf, risk and danger:

There’s a way through here, where the good people and the good in people can flourish, without insitutional incentives getting in the way.

Heather MacDonald: ‘The War On Cops’. C-Span interview with MacDonald on the book here.  She also points out that Compstat isn’t really going anywhere: ‘Prosecution Gets Smart:

Computational Criminology And Predictive Policing.

‘Computational criminology seeks to address criminological problems through the use of applied mathematics, computer science and criminology. Methods include algorithms, data mining, data structures and software development.’

Limited Resources + Potentially Imminent Risk/Harm + Repeat Offenders/Learned Skills + Violence + Lots Of Room For Error = Too Much Practical Upside To Not Adopt Additional Means Of Fighting Crime.

Via Marginal Revolution: ‘Neural Network Learns To Identify Criminals By Their Faces

Mildly To Marginally Related: American city-politics can be…pretty rough:

Via David Thompson-Chicago Murder Stats in one place.

Where not to go in San Francisco?

As posted:

Is NYC really like the rest of the country?:

Okay….:

Repost-From Slate: ‘MFA vs. NYC’

Full post here.

Of the MFA (Master Of Fine Arts):

‘Staffed by writer-professors preoccupied with their own work or their failure to produce any; freed from pedagogical urgency by the tenuousness of the link between fiction writing and employment; and populated by ever younger, often immediately postcollegiate students, MFA programs today serve less as hotbeds of fierce stylistic inculcation, or finishing schools for almost-ready writers (in the way of, say, Iowa in the ’70s), and more as an ingenious partial solution to an eminent American problem: how to extend our already protracted adolescence past 22 and toward 30, in order to cope with an oversupplied labor market.’

There are of course still storytellers, geniuses honing their craft that will hold up a mirror and lens for humanity within their creative imaginations.  Maybe they can be found at MFA programs, but I’m guessing they’re more likely doing other things:  getting crippled on a naval campaign, spending their days in an attic, learning to navigate the Mississippi by steamboat, or acting and writing for a theater troupe.

Addition:  And as a reader points out:  learning how to communicate during the current technological revolution.

How much good are all these museums, foundations, and institutions actually doing for the arts and humanities?

Related On This SiteFrom Poemshape Via Andrew Sullivan: ‘Let Poetry Die’…Here’s a suggestion to keep aesthetic and political judgements apart-Roger Scruton In The American Spectator Via A & L Daily: Farewell To Judgment…English departments can’t just copy “(S)cience”…From Bloggingheads: Shakespeare and The Second Law Of ThermodynamicsRepost-How To Study Literature: M.H. Abrams In The Chronicle Of Higher Ed

Wednesday Poem: Wallace Stevens-Anecdote of The JarWednesday Poem: A Postcard From The Volcano..-Review of Denis Dutton’s ‘The Art Instinct’

From The Arnoldian Project: ‘Architecture, Campus, And Learning To Become’

From NPR: Grants To The NEA To Stimulate The Economy?From 2 Blowhards-We Need The Arts: A Sob Story

Arts and Foundations and Institutions-MOMA is private, so perhaps it’s not as decadent if they display Tilda Swinton in a box:

Tilda Swinton At MOMA-From Arma Virumque: ‘Nightmare In A Box’

From The City Journal Via Arts And Letters Daily: Andre Glucksman On “The Postmodern Financial Crisis”

Roger Scruton says keep politics out of the arts, and political judgment apart from aesthetic judgment…this includes race studies/feminist departments/gay studies etc.:  Roger Scruton In The American Spectator Via A & L Daily: Farewell To Judgment

Via The Future Of Capitalism: ‘Nurse Union Chief’s Communist Past’

Future of Capitalism here.

Original article here.

The head of NY biggest nurse’s union:

“I’ve absolutely been an activist since high school,” said Ms. Furillo. “It helped make me who I am.”

When Ms. Furillo was 25, she was an active member of the Young Workers Liberation League, a youth arm affiliate of the Communist Party USA, and an editor of its Young Worker publication. She wrote in 1975: “It is clear that for youth today, there is no real and meaningful future under capitalism. Capitalism means joblessness, racism and degeneracy.”

And from the NY Times on current NYC mayor Bill de Blasio’s past:

‘His activism did not stop. In the cramped Lower Manhattan headquarters of the Nicaragua Solidarity Network of Greater New York, where he volunteered, Mr. de Blasio learned to cause a stir. He and a ragtag team of peace activists, Democrats, Marxists and anarchists attempted to bring attention to a Central American cause that, after the Sandinistas lost power in a 1990 election, was fading from public view. “The Nicaraguan struggle is our struggle,” said a poster designed by the group’

Let’s call the activism of our current President more tame, less radical and more ‘progressive:’

A WaPo piece looked at Organizing For Action, the President’s bid to to make a non-profit fundraising machine out of his coalitions and activist supporters around the time of his second election.

An OFA spokeswoman’s defense of the group’s mission:

“We are confident as we have always been in our abilities to programatically and financially fulfill the mission we have laid out, working on issues like raising the minimum wage for Americans and continuing the fight for action on climate change. It is because of OFA’s strength of having 4.6 million action takers, an average contribution under $40 and more than 420,000 contributors that we are able to choose not to solicit new large donations now through November as we expect some of our supporters will also choose to shift their focus during the midterm season.”

If by ‘grassroots’ you mean organized from the top-down…and if by ‘individuals’ you mean they call you ‘an individual’…for now…then I see a lot of laws that interfere with individual liberty, overpromise money and benefits in poorly-designed systems that favor certain coalitions (unions, activists), and also a governance model that feeds on emotions and outrage often over facts and statistics, encouraging membership on political and ideological grounds.

Addition: Or as a friend points out, OFA is a more sanitized version of activism, made to adapt to a national audience, a breach into which the other radicals run.

A national leader with such commitments needs to use the budget to reward friends and fellow activists, and find the broadest policies possible that keep him in touch with his base (climate change, labor unions, immigration policy tapped into La Raza and Wall street backers), so if the gap can’t be breached, it’s the other party’s fault.

Via A Reader: ‘Glorifying Graffiti’

Via The NY Post:

American cities have seen steadily lowering homicide rates, but predictions that NYC is headed back to 70’s and early 80’s style crime rates under de Blasio are blossoming, and the institutionalization of graffiti as art may represent an undermining of the rule of law.

Is this something museums should be showcasing?

Is it art?

What about the criminality and the harm to property owners and citizens caught in tag and turf wars?

‘A visit to the Museum of the City of New York’s graffiti exhibit is a reminder that New York was once far less livable — and that nostalgia for a more colorful past can be most dangerous for the kids who don’t remember.’

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5:38 video at the link.

Mick Victor walks down the streets and alleyways of L.A. with camera in tow, his focus eventually drawn to some forms, shapes, colors or configuration.

Some of those abstract photos here.

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Would you be willing to undermine property-rights and the rule-of-law in order to celebrate ‘graffiti-art’?

NY Curbed had 5Pointz coverage here.

A NY Times beat reporter shared in the pathos and suffering of those graffiti artists whose 5pointz canvas was whitewashed in preparation for demolition by owner Jerry Wolkoff.

One street artist, who would give his name only as Just, had at least two works painted over. He spent hours early Tuesday gazing at the whitewashed buildings, leaning against a red-brick wall across the street. Then he bought himself a tall glass of beer, which he sipped slowly from a brown paper bag.

“Heartbreaking,” he said. “This is not just about graffiti — it’s about the unity of people who met here from all over the world.” He paused and took a drink. “That’s what really hurts.”

Three photos and some backstory here.  5pointz had become something of a graffiti mecca, arguably more than the sum of its parts:

Heather MacDonald At The City Journal: ‘Radical Graffiti Chic’

So, You’re Telling Me What’s Cool?-Theodore Dalrymple At The City Journal: ‘Banksy In Neverland’ What are these people doing with art?:  Often combining them with a Left-of-Center political philosophy as they are at NPR for popular consumption. 

On this site, see: From ReasonTV Via Youtube: ‘Ken Burns on PBS Funding, Being a “Yellow-Dog Democrat,” & Missing Walter Cronkite’Repost-From NPR: Grants To The NEA To Stimulate The Economy?

From Grist.Org Via The New Republic Via The A & L Daily: ‘Getting Past “Ruin Porn” In Detroit’…Marketplace aesthetics in service of “women”: Dove’s Campaign For Real Beauty: Pascal Dangin And Aesthetics… Roger Scruton In The City Journal: Cities For Living–Is Modernism Dead?Brasilia: A Planned City

The De Blasio Files-Dan McLaughlin At The Federalist: ‘Bill De Blasio’s Law Enforcement Racket’

Full piece here.

Some history on Giulani’s turnaround, Bloomberg’s tenure, and now de Blasio’s early decisions when it comes to law enforcement tactics:

‘Given that de Blasio had run so hard to the Left during the election against “racial profiling” and promised to drop the City’s appeal of a federal court ruling that its “stop-and-frisk” policy was racially discriminatory, his decision to bring back Bratton seems more than a little puzzling at first glance. In 2006, Bratton co-wrote a strongly-worded defense of “broken windows” policing in National Review Online, blasting “ivory-tower academics” who “have never sat in a patrol car, walked or bicycled a beat, lived in or visited regularly troubled violent neighborhoods, or collected any relevant data of their own ‘on the ground’.” Hehas been critical of cities that “made the mistake of embracing” Occupy Wall Street.’

So is de Blasio just pandering to the activist base, while trying to keep the big donors and ‘gentry’ liberals in bed together?

New York is denser than other American cities by a longshot, so accepting an armed police presence is easier for many New Yorkers to handle, despite and because of the recent anti-gun activism.  So, too, may be the inevitable cameras, technology, and other possible means used to protect the public when it doesn’t arm itself.

I suspect that living in a dense city lends to greater likelihood of accepting the use and possible abuse of technology to maintain public safety.  I also suspect that this technology can be used as backstop against failed policies by policymakers who promise more than they can deliver.   Such politicians ran on a platform that promises more peace, equality, and harmony, but behind the scenes where the crime happens, many still do what works.

This seems to be a better case scenario for de Blasio’s tenure.

Related On This SiteRichard Epstein At Defining Ideas: ‘City Planners Run Amok’Virginia Postrel At Bloomberg: ‘How The Elites Built America’s Economic Wall’...The Irish were a mess:  William Stern At The City Journal: ‘How Dagger John Saved New York’s Irish’

A Few Thoughts On Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest: “Why Blue Can’t Save The Inner Cities Part I”

Politicians and politics likely won’t deliver you from human nature, nor fulfill your dreams in the way you want: anarchy probably won’t either: Two Sunday Quotations By Albert Jay Nock in ‘Anarchist’s Progress’

Josh Barro At Business Insider: ‘Dear New Yorkers: Here’s Why Your Rent Is So Ridiculously High’

Some Links On 5Pointz, Graffiti, & The Arts–Property Rights & The Rule-Of-Law

Would you be willing to undermine property-rights and the rule-of-law in order to celebrate ‘graffiti-art’?

NY Curbed has 5Pointz coverage here.

A NY Times beat reporter shares in the suffering of those graffiti artists whose 5pointz canvas was whitewashed in preparation for demolition by owner Jerry Wolkoff.

‘One street artist, who would give his name only as Just, had at least two works painted over. He spent hours early Tuesday gazing at the whitewashed buildings, leaning against a red-brick wall across the street. Then he bought himself a tall glass of beer, which he sipped slowly from a brown paper bag.

“Heartbreaking,” he said. “This is not just about graffiti — it’s about the unity of people who met here from all over the world.” He paused and took a drink. “That’s what really hurts.”

Three photos and some backstory here.  5pointz had become something of a graffiti mecca, arguably more than the sum of its parts:

Now that the real-estate market is heating-up in NYC, Wolkoff decided to whitewash his building overnight (where else will De Blasio get the revenue to keep his coalitions together?).

Every bit of graffiti scrawled there over 40-years was at his discretion.

Personally, I don’t take pleasure in the erasing of people’s hard work and creativity, nor in the breaking-up of a graffiti-collective which traveled far and wide to get to 5pointz, nor even in the iconic stature they gave the place, but David Thompson sums it up pretty well:

‘The moral of the story, gentlemen, is buy your own canvas’

The pathos in the Times article stops short of a familiar ‘art will unite all races, classes, & genders,’ type of Leftist political ideology.  It seems the American traditions of property-rights and rule-of-law stop even some of the most ardent liberal commentators at the Time from a full-on celebration of anarchic victim-hood and a culture most probably don’t understand very well.  Better to play-it-safe.

Or better to celebrate the way street-culture and graffiti has interacted with money and market forces through tourism.  5pointz arguably was a tourism draw.

From The Times piece:

‘Though street art is meant to be temporary, 5Pointz became known as a graffiti museum. And the medium itself, once considered a symbol of urban unraveling, became a sought after gallery-worthy commodity, with work from street artists like Banksy commanding millions of dollars. Which is one of the reasons the whitewashing of 5Pointz’s walls was greeted with such vociferous dismay. “What?! What did they do?!” cried a tour guide named Hans Von Rittern, as he raced out of a tour bus early Tuesday, his arms wide, his face crumpling as soon as he caught sight of Ms. Flaguel. They embraced tightly and wept.’

They embraced tightly and wept!

Again, I would argue to the people in the hip-hop community and to whom 5pointz meant something more than a revenue stream or a cultural merit badge:  While property-rights and rule-of-law may have caused you harm in this case, and may pit some of your interests against the interests of others who may not understand where you’re coming from, in the long-run both of these institutions may serve your interests and freedoms better than the collectivism of the Left, and the way the abstract-equality crowd will round you up into groups of victims and claim to feel your pain.

My two cents.  It can’t be a good day for those who lost something. It’s hard out there.

Here’s a video:

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So is it worthy of institutionalization?  How does one weigh the aesthetic value of graffiti against the criminality that often goes with it…and the hypocrisy of those who don’t have to live around graffiti and the gang activity who are often legitimizing it? Heather MacDonald has been consistently focusing on the harm done by crime, and to the victims of criminals against those (usually on the Left) who wish to view criminals as victims themselves…within a larger ideological framework…with consequences for the rest of us.

Related On This Site:Heather MacDonald At The City Journal: ‘Radical Graffiti Chic’

People are using art for political, religious, commercial and ideological reasons as always…right or left…believer or non-believer…Dove’s Campaign For Real Beauty: Pascal Dangin And AestheticsFrom Grist.Org Via The New Republic Via The A & L Daily: ‘Getting Past “Ruin Porn” In Detroit

Trading Robert Moses for Brailia…an authoritarian streak?:  Brasilia: A Planned CityAnd AestheticsRoger Scruton In The City Journal: Cities For Living–Is Modernism Dead?

Jay Z And Marina Abramovic Via Twitter: A Pop-Rap Art Marketing Performaganza… A museum industrial complex…more complexes…who are the people museums should be serving? James Panero At The New Criterion: ‘Time to Free NY’s Museums: The Met Responds’

 From Grist.Org Via The New Republic Via The A & L Daily: ‘Getting Past “Ruin Porn” In Detroit’…Marketplace aesthetics in service of “women”: Dove’s Campaign For Real Beauty: Pascal Dangin And Aesthetics

Philosopher Of Art Denis Dutton of the Arts & Letters Daily says the arts and Darwin can be sucessfully synthesized: Review of Denis Dutton’s ‘The Art Instinct’

How might Nietzsche figure in the discussion, at least with regard to Camille Paglia.  See the comments:  Repost-Camille Paglia At Arion: Why Break, Blow, Burn Was Successful…Here’s Nietzsche scholar J.P. Stern on Nietzsche’s anti-Christian, anti-secular morality (Kant, utilitarians), anti-democratic, and anti-Greek (except the “heroic” Greek) biases…

In The Mail-James Panero Of The New Criterion Discusses Fracking

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So, where does the evidence lead, and who are the people attaching themselves to causes, ideas, and politics?  Naturally, I’m sympathetic to the conservative point of view, but I’m open to debate.  There’s an entire industry now of documentary activism and political protest being rewarded by the current administration.  Are they getting the facts right?

Panero also discusses how some NYC museums have come to rely upon the recommended donation fees that rich tourists often pay, and that this revenue stream could interfere with their mission to serve the public.

His original piece ‘It’s Time To Free N.Y. Museums‘ at the NY Daily News.

Addition: Here’s Bob Zubrin on the rather pseudo-religious and dangerous roots of much environmentalism:

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How to separate reasonable environmentalism from the authoritarian impulses, the Malthusians and various other people who “know” how many people is enough?  Now that environmentalism is a primary focus in our schools, it’s probably worth thinking about.

Related On This SiteJames Panero At The New Criterion: ‘Time to Free NY’s Museums: The Met Responds’

MOMA is private, so perhaps it’s not as decadent if they display Tilda Swinton in a box:

Tilda Swinton At MOMA-From Arma Virumque: ‘Nightmare In A Box’

From The City Journal Via Arts And Letters Daily: Andre Glucksman On “The Postmodern Financial Crisis”

Roger Scruton says keep politics out of the arts, and political judgment apart from aesthetic judgment…this includes race studies/feminist departments/gay studies etc.:  Roger Scruton In The American Spectator Via A & L Daily: Farewell To Judgment

Goya’s Fight With Cudgels and Goya’s Colossus.  A very good Goya page here.

Joan Miro: Woman… Goethe’s Color Theory: Artists And ThinkersSome Quotes From Kant And A Visual Exercise

A Reaction To Jeff Koons ‘St John The Baptist’

Denis Dutton suggests art could head towards Darwin (and may offer new direction from the troubles of the modern art aimlessness and shallow depth) Review of Denis Dutton’s ‘The Art Instinct’

Repost: Martha Nussbaum On Eliot Spitzer At The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Full article here. (updated)

Thought this would be timely with Eliot Spitzer now back in the news running for NYC comptroller (after that, the world). I’m not much of a feminist nor a Main Line (Philadelphia) liberal:

Martha Nussbaum writes:

“Spitzer’s offense was an offense against his family. It was not an offense against the public. If he broke any laws, these are laws that never should have existed and that have been repudiated by sensible nations.”

Well, Spitzer did use the laws to zealously prosecute sex rings as attorney general (an elected position) and was then caught using a sex ring and breaking those laws.  Spitzer could have chosen not to violate the laws, or sought to amend them, but he did not.  I agree that his family is suffering the most, but I’m not so sure that this didn’t constitute an offense to the public.

“What should really trouble us about sex work? That it is sex that these women do, with many customers, should not in and of itself trouble us, from the point of view of legality, even if we personally don’t share the woman’s values”

From the point of view of legality, I agree.  Morally, that’s a different matter.

Generally, I think a libertarian defense of prostitution is a good one, which tries to open up our moral thinking into a net that would include sex as “work.”  Nussbaum is urging a consideration of laws and ideas that focus valuable energy away from addressing other problems she defines quite well.

Personally, I’d like to think it’s possible to consider prostitution without the moral absolutism of Christian doctrine, but perhaps also without some of the limits of Nussbaum’s feminism and “value” speak she employs here.

Many prostitutes, for example, seem to have free will enough to choose to manipulate the lust and stupidity of their johns for their own gain.  The instinct of disgust may be deeper than Christian moral doctrine, but also deeper than some of Nussbaum’s thinking as well.

Addition:  One of the moral arguments for legalizing abortion was that it already was occurring anyways, in back alleys, and in some ways shares similarities with the idea of legalizing prostitution.  Once legalized, there is some moral concern attached to the act of prostitution itself.

See Also: For a paler copy of Nussbaum’s arguments, see Natalie Angier’s Spitzer piece, which somehow uses science to justify its claims.

From The Detroit Free Press: ‘DIA’s Art Collection Could Face Sell-Off To Satisfy Detroit’s Creditors’

Full piece here.

The city’s finances are worse than realized, the corruption deeper, the rot more thorough, leaving many interests still unwilling to face bleak reality.  It’s been a long, slow decline, and it may come down to hawking the city’s art collection:

‘The DIA is unusual among major civic museums in that the city retains ownership of the building and collection while daily operations, including fund-raising, are overseen by a nonprofit institution.’

Many collectors who donated to the museum have put restrictions on their donations, so if it gets that far along there will be much confusion as to what can and can’t be sold, and where the proceeds would go.

Detroit’s industry is gone, and unlike New York City, which still has a diversified portfolio and a tax base to squeeze during tough times, Detroit has virtually nothing to fall back on.  It’s a ghost town:

“New York went into receivership, (and) nobody forced it to sell Central Park,” Nowling said. “We’re certainly going to make that argument that they’re jewels of the city that are just inherent to the city itself that we need to have. But people need to be prepared.’

Be prepared.

Detroit’s not too big to fail, the argument a delegation of mayors pleading to the Federal Government and the Ford Administration made for the Big Apple back in 1975:

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Perhaps this is why Mayor Bloomberg got so angry recently when the taxi deal got blocked. The budget he’d prepared relied on similar gimmicks. Even NYC can probably only placate some voting blocs for so long with limited revenue.

***As for budget gimmicks on the national level, green schemes and union deal failures have been swept quietly under the rug.  Our deficits are getting scary.  Unemployment remains high.  Our politics remains deeply partisan, and by many appearances, nearly dysfunctional at the moment.

Addition: As a reader points out, the NY metro area is growing.  Yes it’s growing, but its politics is badly in need of updating, and like other major American cities, has its share of patronage, rot, and cronyism.  It is a world city as well.

Hipster hope, artists, collectivists and small business types can’t save it either:  A Short Culture Wars Essay-Two Links On Detroit & ‘Ruin Porn’

What about the popular arts and culture?:Update And Repost-From Grist.Org Via The New Republic Via The A & L Daily: ‘Getting Past “Ruin Porn” In Detroit’…A Few Thoughts And A Tuesday Poem By Philip Levine

GM is not a municipality, but good money got put in, probably after bad and it reeks of politics: From The Detroit News: ‘How The Treasury, GM Stock Deal Got Done’

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.

Via Youtube: Ric Burns—New York: A Documentary Film – Episode One: The Country and The City (1609-1825)

A museum industrial complex…more complexes…who are the people museums should be serving? James Panero At The New Criterion: ‘Time to Free NY’s Museums: The Met Responds’