'Tis the Season

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A housing activist directs some righteous anger at poverty pimps.

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  1. I don’t understand your magazine. You throw little temper tantrums over the government trying to protect people from pornography, but you don’t care in the slightest about anyone starving and being poor because of globalization. Just reading your magazine has lead me to the conclusion that libertarians combine the absolute dumbest, worst, shittiest ideas from both sides of the political spectrum. Thank god you nuts don’t have any political power. Your movement, like your existence, is a failure.

  2. St. Catherine–

    It’s people like you who oppose “globalization” (by which I simply mean the spread of capitalism and free trade) who help ensure the continued poverty of hundreds of millions.

  3. DFTT

    Hooch, that’s a biting list he’s included in there. Maybe we could get a response from any social welfare advocates? Or is it too strawman?

  4. by which I simply mean the spread of capitalism and free trade

    rrright. A bunch of old men with unlimited power making decisions. I’m sure they’ll always keep the poor in mind. Heh. Quit fooling yourself.

  5. The chances that St. Catherine actually believes anyone at this magazine supports “a bunch of old men with unlimited power making decisions” seems pretty small to me; more likely she’s a troll trying to hijack the thread. Please don’t feed her.

  6. if yer bored, my lady, you should read the year end report done by the chronicle of philanthropy…their cost breakdowns are hilarious – or would be if they weren’t so…devious.

  7. Don’t you have to be dead to be a saint?

  8. “A bunch of old men with unlimited power making decisions. I’m sure they’ll always keep the poor in mind.”

    Which old men do you have in mind? The old men who run corporations that get rich when people have money and can purchase their products, or old men who run governments that get rich when poverty pimps run homeless shelters?

  9. Trollish silliness aside,

    I didn’t quite grasp from Bork’s comments what the proper method of doing charity might be. I agree that the business side of charity is shady and that those who do it for a living have perverse incentives.

    I am just wondering what the best way to organize charity might be so as to avoid these concerns. It seems a bit odd to suggest that charity be given on an unconditional basis, but Bork seemed put off by the idea that the homeless didn’t vote on what to do with institutionally donated funds.

    Not my speciality, but I have always wondered where my donations wind up.

  10. This “social welfare advocate” says Right On to the infoshop column, in exactly the same manner that the pro-business conservatives who subscribe to Reason say Right On to calls to eliminate corporate welfare. Poverty pimps, like corporatist/mercantilist Republicans, are using the credibility gained by honest advocates’ struggles as a rhetorical tool to stifle criticism of their corruption.

  11. St. Catherine’s comments made me roll my eyes, but she did hit on something worth discussing–I have said on previous postings that the main reason Libertarians can’t get themselves voted into office is because there is a common perception that Libertarianism is basically the economic equivalent of “might makes right.”

    There’s an old Bonanza episode where Telly Savalas plays an evil billionaire who wants Lorne Greene to sell him the Ponderosa Ranch. Lorne refuses, so Telly pulls various nasty tricks to force him to sell, like buying every animal-feed store within a week’s journey and refusing to sell Lorne feed for his animals. Most libertarians would say Telly should be allowed to do this, and that the free market will eventually rectify the situation; maybe, but meanwhile Lorne and his family are screwed.

    I support property rights, but I also support the rights of people who have no property; in the eyes of many people, this means I’m not a Libertarian at all.

  12. Forgot to mention, I would’ve had a lot more respect for St. Catherine if she hadn’t included that idiotic line about ‘protecting’ people from pornography. I find porn pretty gross, but can’t think of a single instance where I or my friends were attacked by a Ron Jeremy tape.

  13. Jennifer, Low and Behold, I was attacked by a Ron Jeremy tape, when my girlfriend found my stash, it came hurling to my head!

  14. “I support property rights, but I also support the rights of people who have no property;…”

    I think most all libertarians support the rights of people who have no property, but that does not include a trump on the property rights of others.

    What sorts of rights are you concerned about, Jennifer A.?

  15. Jennifer,

    You do not have to worry about billionaire developers using the market to strong arm unwilling sellers out of their property, despite what you might see on nick-at-nite.

    In the real world, billionaire developers use the government and eminent domain to achieve the same result without all the bother of buying feed stores.

  16. Oh that Jennifer and her “Bonanza Analogy”!

  17. All right, quoting old TV shows won’t win me points for philosophical superiority. (I never even liked Bonanza, but my dad watched it every afternoon in the Seventies and I picked up some knowledge of the show via osmosis.)

    My main real-life concerns involve the rights of workers. In theory, if your employer treats you too badly you can find a job elsewhere, and more and more workers will also leave the job until the evil employer either goes out of business or is forced to treat workers with respect; in practice, jobs are not always so easy to get, and the number of people capable of doing a particular job will be higher than the number of jobs available. The free market forces Stephen Hawking’s employer to treat him well, since Dr. Hawking would be damned difficult to replace; but most of us are more expendable than that.

    I also support certain safety regulations. A few years ago, when Firestone tires were exploding left and right, I saw an article on this website, explaining that tire-safety regulations are not needed because of the free market; Firestone sales had dropped dramatically.

    True, but before word got out over a hundred people had to die. Unacceptable.

    A caveat: when I say I support regulation, that does NOT mean I support the regulations currently in place! For example, I have no problem with an environmental regulation saying “Factory owners may not put more than X amount of pollutant into the atmosphere,” however, the factory owners should be able to decide for themselves how to achieve that goal, as opposed to the current system where the government tells them how to do it, and usually screws up in the bargain.

  18. Not just Bonanza analogies, Geotech; analogies in general. I love them.

    Also, as a high-school teacher who has had a lot of students who were not exactly the brightest bulbs on the Christmas tree of the human intellect, I have found analogies make things easier to explain.

  19. Jennifer,

    Regarding the Firestone issue: correct me if I’m wrong, but…didn’t a bunch of people die _anyway_, government regulation being post hoc? What did regulation buy them? Not that “pre hoc” is necessarily better: people have died while the FDA dragged its feet on approving drugs that could have saved them.

    Look, we know that “utopia is not an option”. No one is saying that the world will become a new Garden of Eden in the absence of government regulation. (Personally, I’m not even sure what the Firestone issue is all about anyway, on _either_ side of the debate: if Manufacturer X sells tires that fail under expected usage, they’re at the very least open to tort cases, if not criminal charges. Why are tire-specific regulations needed?) People will die, get hurt, etc. in either case. BUT…no one has shown that the government regulation is significantly better, and we know that it will be more expensive, less responsive, and harder to get rid of should it ever become unnecessary. That’s all.

  20. Just out of curiousity, how many deaths are acceptable? Also, is it reasonable to assume that there are risks in life which might result in death and that they cannot be prevented?

    Personally, when I drive I do figure one of these days I might get drilled by a semi. I also look at a tire and see that something under a good deal of pressure (several thousand pounds from the car, the heat of the road, acceleration of all sorts, friction, etc) that holds up for 60,000 miles is pretty impressive. If it does blow out, well that is to be expected as a possibility in life. In addition, how many of those blow outs/ roll overs were from people being piss poor drivers. I see it every so often, someone gets a blow out and they panic and jerk the wheel to get off the road.

  21. Many hands will, hopefully, make light work out of getting Jennifer straightened out.
    The employer-employee relationship will always have its Dilbert aspects. I’m sure you see that as a teacher. But without government (anarchist here), there would be so many more job opportunities. Plus you could much more easily go into business for yourself–be your own boss–as a teacher among many other things.

  22. I volunteer at a homeless shelter. I read the “poverty pimp” signs and was glad that I didn’t notice any of the signs in me or the other volunteers and staff.

    An observation: Although I’m not a “poverty pimp”, volunteering with the homeless has caused me to adopt some attitudes that people who haven’t volunteered much might find abhorrent.

    When I see a guy panhandling on the street, I no longer give money. There are places where he can go and get his life together, but he isn’t willing to do what it takes.

    That probably sounds bad to some (while confirming other people’s prejudices) but hear me out: Yes, shelters are often crowded. However, I don’t volunteer at a shelter that gives a bed and meal to any and all comers who aren’t obviously drunk and don’t act violent. Those places will ALWAYS be crowded.

    I volunteer at a place where people have to take drug tests, look for work and/or go to school, look after their kids, do chores, etc. These places will ALWAYS have vacancies. More to the point, if somebody is willing to get with the program the staff and volunteers will gladly do whatever it takes, no matter how scarce the resources. The career development guy will work late to help him/her make a resume and fill out applications, the case workers will help find affordable housing, we’ll get a volunteer to give computer tutorials, the volunteers will give him/her a chore schedule that doesn’t conflict with job interviews or 12 step meetings, we’ll find decent clothes to wear to work, etc.

    The only ones on the street that I feel sorry for are children schizophrenic homeless people. Before anybody sniffs a bleeding heart and jumps all over me, I hasten to add that I’m not advocating government programs, but for them I don’t fault the programs (public or private) that give them help and demand little in return. Until they voluntarily seek medical help there isn’t much that can be done. Coercing them into treatment is obviously not an option.

  23. Correction:

    The first sentence of the last paragraph should be

    “The only ones on the street that I feel sorry for are children and schizophrenic homeless people.”

    Without the “and” you might think I have no sympathy for adult schizophrenics.

  24. Ruthless has no sympathy for nooobody.

    Thoreau, I’m surprised our government lets your homeless shelter get away with such tough love.

  25. Jennifer A,

    In many ways, the government restricts market alternatives to regulation, or creates the problems that you propose regulation as a solution to.

    For example, you mentioned qualified people outnumbering available jobs. The problem, under the existing system, is that government is actively involved in the overproduction of many categories of scientific-technical workers. Through its massive subsidies to R&D and to accumulation, government promotes forms of production much more high-tech and capital-intensive than would support themselves in a free market. To meet the drastically increased demand for technically skilled labor resulting from this distortion of the economy, the government has responded with things like the GI Bill, student loans, etc. Ideally, the goal is to reduce the bargaining power of technical workers by increasing the number of them the schools put out. But when increased demand for technical labor can’t be met even by such means, the government at least absorbs the cost of reproducing “human capital.”

    You also mentioned pollution. Common law actions against “private nuisances” have passed into almost complete disuse. Arguably, their revival would result in far higher costs to polluters than is the case with existing regulatory law (which the regulated have a large role in framing).

    Although you didn’t specifically raise the issue of homelessness, the government also raises the threshold of subsistence for the underclass with housing codes that restrict self-built homes, anti-jitney laws and other licensing, etc.

  26. In response to Kevin Carson’s assertion that there are not very many private nuisance actions against polluters and how they have gone by the wayside…in the past six months, at least 16 cases involving private nuisance and pollution have made it to the appellate level…and 25 public nuisance actions have made it that far…if one thinks that this is a lot, they are fooling themselves. This is puny…in the last six months over 2900 civil rights suits have been heard in federal courts…

  27. Dammit, you ruined what could have been an impressive stream of Elton John references.

  28. Nothing related to Elton John is impressive.

  29. I wonder how overhead is defined for a homeless shelter. For instance, hiring a guy who devotes his time to finding jobs for people seems like a worthwhile expenditure that benefits the homeless clients (as we call them). Hiring the night staff who hold down the fort when volunteers aren’t available seems like a worthwhile expenditure that directly impacts the clients. The handyman who keeps the bathrooms and kitchen usable seems like a worthwhile expenditure that benefits the clients.

    On the other hand, I assume that the salary for the person who raises money is counted as overhead.

    I’ll have to ask a staff member the next time I volunteer, and see how our shelter defines overhead.

  30. nW, 5% is way too low. Good charities turn 80% of their funding into assistance, amazing ones 90%. You’re figure would exclude the Salvation Army, Christian Children’s Fund, and just about everyone else.

  31. Sorry Joe, but the local Sally Ann has published figures showing an overhead of just 4%. Maybe they run differently in the States? Still, I’d go as high as 10%.

  32. I will not contribute to any ‘charity’ that uses more than 5% of donated funds for overhead. Those that do are not charities. They are businesses, and their stock in trade is poverty.

  33. Wow. What’s Sally Ann?

  34. The Salvation Army, in Canada at least, is often referred to as the Sally Ann.

  35. Many years ago, I used to visit the homeless shelter, the soup kitchen, the food stamp office, and the state labor office on a regular basis. I had a couple of trips a day to each of these places for several years.

    Why? Because I was hiring day laborers. Mostly I was looking for construction clean-up crews. You know, people who pick up trash.

    80% of the healthy adult males at the homeless shelter, the soup kitchen, the food stamp office, and the state labor office WILL NOT WORK UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES.

    Of the 20% who will work, most of those will only work occasionally. They will never accept, and keep, a full-time permanent job. Sometimes they will take a job and show up for several weeks, and then they just disappear for awhile. But they always show up again.

    Far less than 5% of these people are temporarily down on their luck. Those 5% are a good investment. I’ve given those folks money. I’ve let those folks stay in my own apartment with me.

    Most of the poor are going to stay poor and there is not a damned thing you can do about it — no matter how hard you try, no matter how zealous you are, no matter how honest you are, no matter how much you care.

    If you want to give — get involved. Meet the people who you are trying to help. If you don’t, you are just burning money to soothe your conscience. You certainly aren’t “helping” anyone but yourself.

  36. EMAIL: draime2000@yahoo.com
    IP: 62.213.67.122
    URL: http://www.enlargement-for-penis.com
    DATE: 01/26/2004 06:15:18
    Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God.

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