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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Radical Baseball: Matinale: When did it become OK to call someone a racist?

See things have quieted down since the last meeting I took in where the only member of the Slats Marion Belongs in the HOF! group got in my face.

Yesterday I attended a baseball meeting in New York City.  There were about 100 people in the audience.  Two of the speakers explicitly called two Hall of Famers racists.  None of us said a word.

Speaker one talked about the subjects of two biographies she had written, repeatedly using vulgar language.  We remained silent for that also.  She described former Dodger manager Walter Alston as a racist.  Alston was inducted into the Hall of Fame by the Veteran’s Committee as Manager in 1983.  Alston died on October 1, 1984 in Oxford, OH (Aged 72).

The other speaker was the president of the Hall of Fame.  In defending the voting results that have barred users of performance enhancing drugs (PED), presumably including steroids, he mentioned that Ty Cobb was a racist.  That is a familiar refrain and it was not surprising that no one objected.  Cobb was inducted into the Hall of Fame by BBWAA as Player in 1936 (222/226 ballots). Induction ceremony in Cooperstown held in 1939.  Cobb died on July 17, 1961 in Atlanta, GA (Aged 74).

Both Alston and Cobb are long gone and cannot defend themselves.  This post is not a defense but a question.

Repoz Posted: January 28, 2014 at 07:05 AM | 347 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   301. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 30, 2014 at 07:05 PM (#4649000)
No it doesn't. $125,000 increasing at 6.5% every year for 37 years is $1.3 mil.

Man I'm getting old. I really thought 1977 was 27 years ago.

Makes my point stronger. Housing appreciation in nice NYC suburbs seems to have been about 4.75% p.a.

Really not that much above inflation when you consider they aren't making any more land close to Manhattan.

Education is the real inflation story. Real per student education spending (at all levels) has more than doubled in nthe last 30 years, with no discernible improvement in outcomes.

Healthcare is a tougher one to figure out b/c of the huge, but essentially unquantifiable, quality increase.
   302. Misirlou has S.C.M.O.D.S Posted: January 30, 2014 at 07:11 PM (#4649009)
Man I'm getting old. I really thought 1977 was 27 years ago.


Seems that way. I still consider News of the World one of Queen's newer albums.
   303. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 30, 2014 at 07:29 PM (#4649031)
Seems that way. I still consider News of the World one of Queen's newer albums.

I feel like I'm in that awkward in between stage. I want to act like a crotchety old coot, but I'm not old enough to get away with it.
   304. The Yankee Clapper Posted: January 30, 2014 at 09:20 PM (#4649063)
Those "quaint, upper-class urban neighborhood[s]" you refer to used to provide affordable housing for median income people not that very long ago, before those "neighborhood improvements" priced them out of the city, largely invisible to our wealth-obsessed media.

Somewhat ironic for St. Nick to complain about this in the Washington, DC metropolitan area, since much of it is caused by the massive increase in the well-paid federal government employment that he champions (and the transformation of the government from an army of clerks to an army of attorneys), as well as a huge increase in the even better paid private sector employment of those engaged in the various rent-seeking endeavors that are a direct result of the federal government's ever larger role in the economy. You reap what you sow.
   305. zenbitz Posted: January 30, 2014 at 10:59 PM (#4649098)
In 1971 my parents (dad a public school teacher) bought a Victorian in Noe Valley (a middle class neighborhood until the 90s) in SF for $29000.

Its worth probably >1.5 million now.
   306. PreservedFish Posted: January 30, 2014 at 11:23 PM (#4649105)
I lived in an apartment in Noe Valley for 4-5 years, until 2010. Our rent was about $1,400 - by the time we left the market value was probably $2,300. You couldn't swing a cat in that neighborhood without hitting one of those amazing luxury busses that the tech companies provide for their employees. It was extremely similar to this apartment, which is priced at $2,700.
   307. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 31, 2014 at 12:40 AM (#4649123)
No it doesn't. $125,000 increasing at 6.5% every year for 37 years is $1.3 mil.


Man I'm getting old. I really thought 1977 was 27 years ago.

Makes my point stronger. Housing appreciation in nice NYC suburbs seems to have been about 4.75% p.a.


Except that previously you were saying that you could buy a comparable house in your current neck of the woods for about the same inflation-adjusted price that you could in 1977,** whereas in fact according to the numbers you gave, the actual inflation-adjusted increase was 46%. That's not the same jump you see in Manhattan or most of DC, but it's still the difference between middle class marginal affordability and middle class out-of-reach.

**"Right now, you can buy a house in my town (closer to NYC) for $700K, equivalent to what my parents bought for $125K in 1977." (#279)

--------------------------------------------------

Those "quaint, upper-class urban neighborhood[s]" you refer to used to provide affordable housing for median income people not that very long ago, before those "neighborhood improvements" priced them out of the city, largely invisible to our wealth-obsessed media.

Somewhat ironic for St. Nick to complain about this in the Washington, DC metropolitan area, since much of it is caused by the massive increase in the well-paid federal government employment that he champions (and the transformation of the government from an army of clerks to an army of attorneys), as well as a huge increase in the even better paid private sector employment of those engaged in the various rent-seeking endeavors that are a direct result of the federal government's ever larger role in the economy. You reap what you sow.


Try counting the number of highly paid lawyers, lobbyists and "consultants" living in the more expensive parts of Washington, and you'll find that they outnumber the number of highly paid government workers by a sizable margin.

The average salary of a federal government worker living in DC in 2010 was just under $100,000. Using CNN's rule of thumb, that means they could afford a house in the $250,000 range.

That's not bad at all, but the average salary of an associate DC-based lawyer in the private sector is $186,250. That would equate to a house of about $465,000.

Not bad at all, but then there's this: If you check the above link, you see tha that $186,250 average salary for an associate lawyer was only for those lawyers with 1 to 8 years' experience. Obviously those with more experience earn on average more than that.

Bottom line is that it isn't the government workers who are mainly driving up housing prices in Washington. It's the parasites who are the shills and the mouthpieces for private interests. This isn't exactly new news.
   308. The Yankee Clapper Posted: January 31, 2014 at 02:31 AM (#4649141)
Try counting the number of highly paid lawyers, lobbyists and "consultants" living in the more expensive parts of Washington, and you'll find that they outnumber the number of highly paid government workers by a sizable margin.

It shouldn't be surprising that when you vastly expand the federal government's role and impact, people and institutions whose interests may be affected find it advisable to put more resources into government relations, political activity, and other representational activities. Don't want so many of those folks in Washington? Don't make Washington so big.

The average salary of a federal government worker living in DC in 2010 was just under $100,000. Using CNN's rule of thumb, that means they could afford a house in the $250,000 range.

In January 2013, the average federal employee made $101,263. Since then there has been a 1% pay raise, within-grade raises for many, and the usual grade inflation, so it's a bit higher. Perhaps more importantly, many, if not most, of those potential home buyers are married to or living with someone who is also working. So two "average" federal employees might earn about $210,000 today, and by the 3 times salary measure could afford a $630,000 house. Of course, it's not just the average salary that matters, the number of high-graded, high-paid positions has increased substantially, and that affects the real estate market. How could it not?

Bottom line is that it isn't the government workers who are mainly driving up housing prices in Washington. It's the parasites who are the shills and the mouthpieces for private interests. This isn't exactly new news.

Money is money, and many government employees make more than you have acknowledged. The private sector folks who are being denigrated are merely engaging in Constitutionally-protected activities, but as indicated above, if you don't want that much activity, don't make governmental decision-making such a pervasive part of the economy & culture.

   309. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 31, 2014 at 08:31 AM (#4649156)
Except that previously you were saying that you could buy a comparable house in your current neck of the woods for about the same inflation-adjusted price that you could in 1977,** whereas in fact according to the numbers you gave, the actual inflation-adjusted increase was 46%. That's not the same jump you see in Manhattan or most of DC, but it's still the difference between middle class marginal affordability and middle class out-of-reach.

No, the equivalent is modifying house. It's an equivalent house in a more desirable suburb, and the annual price appreciation has been 4.5%. Given that income has grown at least that fast for professional class families (largely driven by increased earning among women), the affordability is comparable.

I don't know why you expect prices for supply constrained, highly desirable, goods to increase at the overall rate of inflation. It makes no sense.

In a world of growing population and wealth, it is only the ability to increase supply that keeps prices from rising rapidly. The supply of single family homes withing a 40 minute train ride of Manhattan is severely constrained. There is no more vacant land.
   310. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: January 31, 2014 at 09:26 AM (#4649169)
Money is money, and many government employees make more than you have acknowledged.


Like cops and military officers, for example.
   311. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: January 31, 2014 at 10:38 AM (#4649187)
Everybody knows that the current posted CPI figures are utter garbage.

This statement is utter garbage. People have been trying to prove the government fakes inflation for a long time, and the attempted alternatives come up with a similar number.

Check MIT's Billion Price Index.

If CPI figures were utter garbage, an army of respected economists and other academians would show how incorrect it is.
   312. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: January 31, 2014 at 10:46 AM (#4649194)
If CPI figures were utter garbage, an army of respected economists and other academians would show how incorrect it is.


Liberal media and academics? That's so Cathedral man.
   313. Bitter Mouse Posted: January 31, 2014 at 10:53 AM (#4649198)
If CPI figures were utter garbage, an army of respected economists and other academians would show how incorrect it is.


Correct. The issue is the whole idea behind a CPI is essentially impossible to get correct in detail. At a high level a bunch of assumptions get made and the data is aggregated up to a level where it works for a whole time period and across the nation, but if you start to look at the details it breaks down. Unfortunately doing better is pretty much impossible.

Ignoring other issues, there are some really hard issues to tackle - changes in technology, new products and changes in customer demand for various substitutes (Dumb example Quinoa has become much more popular in the last few decades, how does a product like that figure in, considering its complements and substitutes), and that is not even considering geography. Different regions are going to respond differently. And of course different sectors like housing and education are going to respond very differently over time.

And all that is supposed to be boiled down to a single number. Shocking that we can look at that single number and poke holes in it. But finding a better single number? That is quite a trick.
   314. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 31, 2014 at 12:10 PM (#4649244)
Try counting the number of highly paid lawyers, lobbyists and "consultants" living in the more expensive parts of Washington, and you'll find that they outnumber the number of highly paid government workers by a sizable margin.

It shouldn't be surprising that when you vastly expand the federal government's role and impact, people and institutions whose interests may be affected find it advisable to put more resources into government relations, political activity, and other representational activities. Don't want so many of those folks in Washington? Don't make Washington so big.


Or you can cap interest deductions on houses over $500,000. Or increase the marginal tax rates for the top income brackets and tax investment income at the same rate as earned income. Or force full disclosure on "anonymous" contributions to "non-profit" political organizations.** Maximize the tax incentives for building housing geared to the working and middle classes. Tax luxury housing at a higher rate. Or do all of the above and whatever else can be done to limit the influence of big money.

All of that won't bring back Washington to its former levels of relative affordability, but it would certainly clean the air around here, and slow down the city's rapid Manhattanization. The tax laws and disclosure laws we currently live under weren't handed down from Mt. Sinai, but were written by a congress driven by the influence of money, or decided by a Supreme Court majority that has existed for less than a decade.

**Both liberal and conservative

-----------------------------------------------------------

Except that previously you were saying that you could buy a comparable house in your current neck of the woods for about the same inflation-adjusted price that you could in 1977,** whereas in fact according to the numbers you gave, the actual inflation-adjusted increase was 46%. That's not the same jump you see in Manhattan or most of DC, but it's still the difference between middle class marginal affordability and middle class out-of-reach.

No, the equivalent is modifying house. It's an equivalent house in a more desirable suburb, and the annual price appreciation has been 4.5%. Given that income has grown at least that fast for professional class families (largely driven by increased earning among women), the affordability is comparable.


First you were saying that the price of that house your parents bought in 1977 was equivalent to what it would cost today, which is false. And now you're changing "middle class" to "professional class families". Make up your mind.

I don't know why you expect prices for supply constrained, highly desirable, goods to increase at the overall rate of inflation. It makes no sense.

I've never said I didn't expect housing prices to rise, and rise well over the CPI in areas that the professional classes descend upon. I'm simply noting the negative effects of those rising prices on people who don't earn "professional" salaries. You seem to be in denial of this elementary observation of fact.

In a world of growing population and wealth, it is only the ability to increase supply that keeps prices from rising rapidly. The supply of single family homes withing a 40 minute train ride of Manhattan is severely constrained. There is no more vacant land.

Again, while this is also incontrovertible, it doesn't address the above issue of impact.
   315. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 31, 2014 at 12:32 PM (#4649259)
No, the equivalent is modifying house. It's an equivalent house in a more desirable suburb, and the annual price appreciation has been 4.5%. Given that income has grown at least that fast for professional class families (largely driven by increased earning among women), the affordability is comparable.

First you were saying that the price of that house your parents bought in 1977 was equivalent to what it would cost today, which is false. And now you're changing "middle class" to "professional class families". Make up your mind.

I've never said I didn't expect housing prices to rise, and rise well over the CPI in areas that the professional classes descend upon. I'm simply noting the negative effects of those rising prices on people who don't earn "professional" salaries. You seem to be in denial of this elementary observation of fact.

Again, while this is also incontrovertible, it doesn't address the above issue of impact.


You were the one saying that I must make far more than my Dad to afford a comparable house. All I was pointing out is that a comparable house hasn't really increased that much.
   316. Joey B. has reignited his October #Natitude Posted: January 31, 2014 at 12:46 PM (#4649268)
Education is the real inflation story. Real per student education spending (at all levels) has more than doubled in the last 30 years, with no discernible improvement in outcomes.

Education is a near government monopoly, with not remotely enough of a supply of competitive alternatives available to the ever increasing number of people who would like to have an alternative to the government-controlled school system available for their children.
   317. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 31, 2014 at 01:04 PM (#4649277)
You were the one saying that I must make far more than my Dad to afford a comparable house. All I was pointing out is that a comparable house hasn't really increased that much.

In 2013 dollars, that 1977 $125,000 house you brought up would be selling for $481,000 today on strictly CPI based inflation rates, not for $700,000. If a 46% increase in inflation-adjusted dollars doesn't seem "really that much" to you in an era where wage levels below the top have largely stagnated, then that's more a matter of your professional class based perspective than it is a matter of mathematics.

My point has never been that the professional classes haven't been able to keep up with housing prices. And it's never been that middle class people in the 70's who bought then haven't also benefited from the price increases. The point is that people starting out in the 1970's on a middle class salary could find an affordable house in our major metro areas much more easily than people starting out today on the same inflation-adjusted salary.** To get the equivalent house today at the same inflation-adjusted price, they keep getting pushed farther and farther out, whether or not they want to.

It isn't really all that complicated. All you have to do is to see the class of people who populated those areas then and now.

**And without ARMs or other such gimmicks that make the initial purchase look more "affordable" than it really is.
   318. Rants Mulliniks Posted: January 31, 2014 at 01:24 PM (#4649292)
If people want to accept that real inflation over the last 30 or so years has been closer to 2% than 7%, and you can live with yourself pretending that you're not falling further behind every year, be my guest.

   319. Rants Mulliniks Posted: January 31, 2014 at 01:35 PM (#4649299)
#292 Snapper - I didn't say debt was the problem, but rather a debt-based economy. Under every single current western government (US since 1913, Canada since 1974) all new money entering the economy has done so as debt, under the burden of interest. Under this paradigm, growth in the money supply is necessary not only for economic growth (aka progress) but also necessary just to keep up with the ever growing interest payments. It is inherently a Ponzi scheme, by definition, because without continual loans of new money (i.e. money printed or key stroked into existence, from whence there was nothing before) the system collapses under the burden or interest payments. It doesn't have to be this way, as Canada so clearly demonstrated from the period of 1935 to 1974. We financed our largest ever war effort, a Trans-Canada highway, thousands of other federally-funded infrastructure projects, and a COMPLETELY FREE national health care system.

You will still have loans and debts in the commercial and household sectors, although a reserve ratio of about 10:1 would be preferably to the level we have today. There are no reserve requirements for private banks in Canada, so theoretically they can lend out an infinite amount of money, regardless of what they have for hard assets.



   320. Morty Causa Posted: January 31, 2014 at 04:05 PM (#4649449)
http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2014/01/atlanta_s_snow_fiasco_the_real_problem_in_the_south_isn_t_weather_it_s_history.html

Racism causes snow.
   321. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: January 31, 2014 at 04:24 PM (#4649464)
Racism causes snow.


Perhaps you could go back and do remedial reading of the article you linked to and try again, Morty. Because you're looking stupid here.
   322. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 31, 2014 at 05:05 PM (#4649504)
Perhaps you could go back and do remedial reading of the article you linked to and try again, Morty. Because you're looking stupid here.

I RTA, and think it is being quite scurrilous in attributing a whole host of perfectly rational, morally neutral preferences (smaller municipalities, lower taxes and less gov't spending, driving vs. using mass transit) to racism.
   323. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 31, 2014 at 05:13 PM (#4649514)
#292 Snapper - I didn't say debt was the problem, but rather a debt-based economy. Under every single current western government (US since 1913, Canada since 1974) all new money entering the economy has done so as debt, under the burden of interest. Under this paradigm, growth in the money supply is necessary not only for economic growth (aka progress) but also necessary just to keep up with the ever growing interest payments. It is inherently a Ponzi scheme, by definition, because without continual loans of new money (i.e. money printed or key stroked into existence, from whence there was nothing before) the system collapses under the burden or interest payments. It doesn't have to be this way, as Canada so clearly demonstrated from the period of 1935 to 1974. We financed our largest ever war effort, a Trans-Canada highway, thousands of other federally-funded infrastructure projects, and a COMPLETELY FREE national health care system.

You will still have loans and debts in the commercial and household sectors, although a reserve ratio of about 10:1 would be preferably to the level we have today. There are no reserve requirements for private banks in Canada, so theoretically they can lend out an infinite amount of money, regardless of what they have for hard assets.


I don't see why a continually growing money supply is a problem, as long as it doesn't grow too much faster than the overall economy. Stable 0% inflation is no better than stable 2% inflation, which is no better than stable 5% inflation. It's not a Ponzi scheme, because there's no inherent limit to the cycle.

Hard money systems suffer from terrible deflationary depression cycles when the rate of economic growth outpaces the rate of monetary growth.
   324. Morty Causa Posted: January 31, 2014 at 05:17 PM (#4649519)
The term has become an all-purpose epithet--sort of the trap gun for any time something is broached that someone doesn't like and doesn't want to discuss on its own terms.

   325. GregD Posted: January 31, 2014 at 05:18 PM (#4649520)
I RTA, and think it is being quite scurrilous in attributing a whole host of perfectly rational, morally neutral preferences (smaller municipalities, lower taxes and less gov't spending, driving vs. using mass transit) to racism.
I think in general all those things can be entirely morally neutral and to the degree the article assumes their immorality on its face, that's wrong. I don't think that preferences rise up abstractly in a way that call preferences "rational." Preferences for types of housing and residence have always been constructed within government decisions like highway construction and so on.

In the specific case of the areas around Atlanta, though, these decisions about governance and transportation were made 100% explicitly because of the enfranchisement of blacks in the city. No one bothered to deny it because it would have been preposterous to deny it, even well after the deeds were done. To pick an absurd example, the good people of Cobb County knew exactly what they were doing when they pushed for the I-75 bridge at the south end of the county to be named for Lester Maddox.

That doesn't mean that people who make choices now, choices whose rationality has been shaped by these policies, are endorsing them or are even aware of them.

The fact that those choices had bad consequences for everybody in the region--evident in traffic problems that astonish New Yorker family members who have moved down there--is just a fact. Many morally neutral people suffer for those choices, but that doesn't mean the choices themselves when they were made were morally neutral.
   326. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 31, 2014 at 05:42 PM (#4649541)
I think in general all those things can be entirely morally neutral and to the degree the article assumes their immorality on its face, that's wrong. I don't think that preferences rise up abstractly in a way that call preferences "rational." Preferences for types of housing and residence have always been constructed within government decisions like highway construction and so on.

In the specific case of the areas around Atlanta, though, these decisions about governance and transportation were made 100% explicitly because of the enfranchisement of blacks in the city. No one bothered to deny it because it would have been preposterous to deny it, even well after the deeds were done. To pick an absurd example, the good people of Cobb County knew exactly what they were doing when they pushed for the I-75 bridge at the south end of the county to be named for Lester Maddox.

That doesn't mean that people who make choices now, choices whose rationality has been shaped by these policies, are endorsing them or are even aware of them.

The fact that those choices had bad consequences for everybody in the region--evident in traffic problems that astonish New Yorker family members who have moved down there--is just a fact. Many morally neutral people suffer for those choices, but that doesn't mean the choices themselves when they were made were morally neutral.


The racism of the initial decision is irrelevant to the morality of the decision current residents are making.

The fact that the sprawl and lack of mass transit was caused by racism, doesn't mean the current residents' refusal to consolidate municipalities, or invest tens of billions in transit programs, is morally problematic.
   327. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: January 31, 2014 at 05:48 PM (#4649546)
I RTA, and think it is being quite scurrilous in attributing a whole host of perfectly rational, morally neutral preferences (smaller municipalities, lower taxes and less gov't spending, driving vs. using mass transit) to racism.


It is theoretically possible to have all of those things happen for reasons other than racism. In Atlanta, which has a real and well documented history, they happened due to racism. So yeah. It could happen for other reasons. But we're talking about a very specific locale with very real and actual history.

Mostly I was slapping Morty, who likes to ride around on his Horse Of Intellectual Superiority lecturing the proles on Proper Rational Thinking, for failing to so much as read the damned arguments he was dismissing out of hand.
   328. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 31, 2014 at 05:52 PM (#4649554)
It is theoretically possible to have all of those things happen for reasons other than racism. In Atlanta, which has a real and well documented history, they happened due to racism. So yeah. It could happen for other reasons. But we're talking about a very specific locale with very real and actual history.

I'm not debating the racism of the original decisions. I'm just saying declining to spend tens of billions of dollars now to reverse them isn't racism.
   329. GregD Posted: January 31, 2014 at 05:54 PM (#4649556)
The racism of the initial decision is irrelevant to the morality of the decision current residents are making.

The fact that the sprawl and lack of mass transit was caused by racism, doesn't mean the current residents' refusal to consolidate municipalities, or invest tens of billions in transit programs, is morally problematic.
I agree insofar as it tells us about the inner being of the people. Mostly because I don't care; that to me isn't for government.

I do think that it is untenable to suggest that decisions put in place particularly to penalize one group of people should be scrubbed clean from the past. I think there's a moral duty to consider how to make up for the past when the past's incidents occurred not by accident or chance or the market or disaster but through the deliberate, informed, self-conscious actions of a community's leaders.

I think it is not morally neutral to assert that the past has to be forgotten when people are living with those legacies.

So, yes, the newbies in Cobb County may well be 100% blameless. But that's not the only consideration for evaluating the impact of government actions.
   330. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 31, 2014 at 05:59 PM (#4649566)
I agree insofar as it tells us about the inner being of the people. Mostly because I don't care; that to me isn't for government.

I do think that it is untenable to suggest that decisions put in place particularly to penalize one group of people should be scrubbed clean from the past. I think there's a moral duty to consider how to make up for the past when the past's incidents occurred not by accident or chance or the market or disaster but through the deliberate, informed, self-conscious actions of a community's leaders.

I think it is not morally neutral to assert that the past has to be forgotten when people are living with those legacies.

So, yes, the newbies in Cobb County may well be 100% blameless. But that's not the only consideration for evaluating the impact of government actions.


I don't believe that a community is a moral agent. Morality lives at the individual level.
   331. The Yankee Clapper Posted: January 31, 2014 at 06:52 PM (#4649601)
That article really doesn't get the various governments off the hook for the lousy job they did delivering basic services in a snow/ice storm. Might explain a lack of coordination that resulted in plowed or treated roads abruptly stopping when you hit a county or city line, but it doesn't excuse the fact that none of the local governments did a good job anywhere, at least based on the news coverage I've seen.
   332. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: January 31, 2014 at 07:13 PM (#4649609)
I'm not debating the racism of the original decisions. I'm just saying declining to spend tens of billions of dollars now to reverse them isn't racism.


It doesn't have to be. It certainly partially is. If you don't believe me, come on down and we'll drive out to East Cobb for a while. The most recent attempt to fund transportation infrastructure was a proposed sales tax - the T-SPLOST - from 2012. It was opposed by the Sierra Club because it didn't dedicate majority of the spending to rail and transit (the spending was localized to the fractured plurality.) It was opposed by the NAACP because it didn't guarantee minority businesses get X% of the contracts. It was opposed by the Libertopian suburbs because cars = freedom (let's ignore the infrastructure of the roadways, boys.) It was opposed by Teapers because taxes = tyranny.

And it was opposed by a plurality of the outer ring exurbs and the outer reaches of the metro area counties because of racism.
   333. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: January 31, 2014 at 07:14 PM (#4649610)
That article really doesn't get the various governments off the hook for the lousy job they did delivering basic services in a snow/ice storm.


That's the locals wanting their cake and to eat it too. You can't run around Boortzing out on the evils of gub'mint and then ##### when the guv'mint is underprepared and underfunded.
   334. GregD Posted: January 31, 2014 at 07:32 PM (#4649615)
I don't believe that a community is a moral agent. Morality lives at the individual level.
This makes sense insofar as communities are constructs. But they are constructs with particular coercive powers.

The configuration of Cobb County, Georgia, more than almost any other county in the country, is a creation of explicitly racist mid-20th century policies devised explicitly to advance an explicitly racist policy where enforcing oppression of blacks was the primary goal, so there's no argument about "people of their time." For their time, Cobb County's political actors behaved outrageously even compared to other Deep South political agents. Those actions had consequences.

The fact that other people moved in and didn't have the same intention but instead responded to a set of structures that overdetermined the rational-choice considerations doesn't make the past disappear. Morally, that argument is empty. There's no morality in it under any moral system.

There are all kinds of arguments possible about how to deal with the past, but I do think it is illegitimate under any moral system I know to assert that the past simply disappears since present actors--acting under the rationality created by the despicable system--didn't have the conscious goals of the system's founders.

I would be wary of using a general impulse to defend the suburbs in service of the Atlanta suburban counties. These were not ways of life to be upheld; these were places explicitly stating in their platforms that the goal of politics was that "white supremacy must and will be upheld."
   335. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 31, 2014 at 10:16 PM (#4649675)
I don't believe that a community is a moral agent. Morality lives at the individual level.

This makes sense insofar as communities are constructs. But they are constructs with particular coercive powers.

The configuration of Cobb County, Georgia, more than almost any other county in the country, is a creation of explicitly racist mid-20th century policies devised explicitly to advance an explicitly racist policy where enforcing oppression of blacks was the primary goal, so there's no argument about "people of their time." For their time, Cobb County's political actors behaved outrageously even compared to other Deep South political agents. Those actions had consequences.

The fact that other people moved in and didn't have the same intention but instead responded to a set of structures that overdetermined the rational-choice considerations doesn't make the past disappear. Morally, that argument is empty. There's no morality in it under any moral system.

There are all kinds of arguments possible about how to deal with the past, but I do think it is illegitimate under any moral system I know to assert that the past simply disappears since present actors--acting under the rationality created by the despicable system--didn't have the conscious goals of the system's founders.

I would be wary of using a general impulse to defend the suburbs in service of the Atlanta suburban counties. These were not ways of life to be upheld; these were places explicitly stating in their platforms that the goal of politics was that "white supremacy must and will be upheld."


Again, the current residents of the suburban counties are 98% different people than imposed the racist structures.

They have no moral obligation to combine with, or financially support, poor, corruptly governed urban counties, just because the initial division was racially motivated.

No suburban county in their right mind ever wants to combine with the urban center. You'll only get higher taxes, and less services as the politicians milk you to subsidize the more populous areas.
   336. GregD Posted: January 31, 2014 at 11:42 PM (#4649690)
Again, the current residents of the suburban counties are 98% different people than imposed the racist structures.

They have no moral obligation to combine with, or financially support, poor, corruptly governed urban counties, just because the initial division was racially motivated.

Then the proper moral response to decades of systematic efforts to exclude people is tough ####? That's a standard of morality that seems to impose no obligations upon anyone other than Ubi Est Mea. I understand our fallen world may operate on that line but I do not understand it as a code of morality.
   337. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 31, 2014 at 11:57 PM (#4649696)
I don't believe that a community is a moral agent. Morality lives at the individual level.

So I guess that corporations are people, but not communities. This must be one of those formulations that we find in the King Antonin version of The Bible.

Again, the current residents of the suburban counties are 98% different people than imposed the racist structures.

They have no moral obligation to combine with, or financially support, poor, corruptly governed urban counties, just because the initial division was racially motivated.


How utterly convenient. But you should really just cut out the fancy stuff and say "I'm all right, Jack". It'll be a lot easier to fit on your tombstone as a fitting epitaph.
   338. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 01, 2014 at 02:00 PM (#4649824)
So I guess that corporations are people, but not communities. This must be one of those formulations that we find in the King Antonin version of The Bible.

I don't believe corporations can be ascribed morality either.

Then the proper moral response to decades of systematic efforts to exclude people is tough ####? That's a standard of morality that seems to impose no obligations upon anyone other than Ubi Est Mea. I understand our fallen world may operate on that line but I do not understand it as a code of morality.

The proper response is to do the moral thing given today's situation, and the choices available today.

People have a moral responsibility to engage in charity, but every decision does not need to be the most charitable possible, especially if it will incur substantial harm to the giver.

If your driving motivation is to address past wrongs, you end up treating other people are mere means to an end, and acting immorally towards them.

If I run a business, and decide "blacks have been treated unfairly in hiring, so I'm going to hire only blacks", that is not a moral act. It is in fact immoral because you are using all the non-black candidates as means to fulfill your particular charitable end.
   339. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: February 01, 2014 at 03:13 PM (#4649849)
I don't believe that a community is a moral agent. Morality lives at the individual level.

So I guess that corporations are people, but not communities. This must be one of those formulations that we find in the King Antonin version of The Bible.

I don't believe corporations can be ascribed morality either.


But both communities and corporations are composed of individuals. What you seem to be saying is that individuals have to make moral decisions, but groups of individuals are somehow exempt from that obligation. The logic of that somehow escapes me, unless you equate morality solely with the pursuit of maximizing your personal financial status.

You also seem to be saying that individuals have no moral responsibility to correct past injustices that have passed down tangible inherited benefits to their group, if such corrections might entail raising their taxes a bit. Raising taxes seems to be what "substantial harm" translates to in your world.

If your driving motivation is to address past wrongs, you end up treating other people [as] mere means to an end, and acting immorally towards them.

Another perfect rationalization for doing nothing.

If I run a business, and decide "blacks have been treated unfairly in hiring, so I'm going to hire only blacks", that is not a moral act. It is in fact immoral because you are using all the non-black candidates as means to fulfill your particular charitable end.

So who built that straw horse that you're so bravely knocking down? The Nation of Islam bakery? The government of Zimbabwe?

I don't see anything you've written here that goes even a step beyond "I'm all right, Jack", and your entire response to the victims of past injustices seems to amount to little more than "Sorry about that."

   340. The Yankee Clapper Posted: February 01, 2014 at 03:27 PM (#4649851)
You also seem to be saying that individuals have no moral responsibility to correct past injustices that have passed down tangible inherited benefits to their group, if such corrections might entail raising their taxes a bit.

Why should the residents of Atlanta's suburbs agree to merge with the city? For higher taxes, less efficient (and more corrupt) government, and a diminished political voice? Should the residents of suburban Maryland be similarly required to merge with the District of Columbia? And should we make any conclusions about the moral responsibility of those that chose to live in Kensington, Maryland (for example) instead of Washington, DC?
   341. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: February 01, 2014 at 05:41 PM (#4649896)
You also seem to be saying that individuals have no moral responsibility to correct past injustices that have passed down tangible inherited benefits to their group, if such corrections might entail raising their taxes a bit.

Why should the residents of Atlanta's suburbs agree to merge with the city? For higher taxes, less efficient (and more corrupt) government, and a diminished political voice? Should the residents of suburban Maryland be similarly required to merge with the District of Columbia? And should we make any conclusions about the moral responsibility of those that chose to live in Kensington, Maryland (for example) instead of Washington, DC?


I'd be more than happy to see DC incorporated into Maryland, thereby giving Washingtonians equal standing of citizenship with the rest of the country for the first time in our history. It sure isn't liberals who've been blocking such a move for nearly that long a time.

But hell, while you're at it, why shouldn't Buckhead just secede from the rest of Atlanta and tell the rest of the city to #### off? Why shouldn't Foxhall and Spring Valley and Georgetown secede from the rest of DC? Why shouldn't the North Side of Chicago be denied the opportunity to shed their (more corrupt and parasitic) neighbors from the South Side and the West Side? Why should anyone in those neighborhoods be forced at gunpoint to help anyone but themselves?

After all, aren't "We, the Me" the first three words in the Constitution?

As for the rest of your comment, I guess you're with snapper in seeing us as little more than a collection of atomized individuals and family units, each looking out for #1 and the hell with anyone else. That's pretty much where the Republicans and libertarians have been at all along, so I guess it's not too surprising that you two view things similarly.
   342. GregD Posted: February 01, 2014 at 05:56 PM (#4649904)
The proper response is to do the moral thing given today's situation, and the choices available today.

People have a moral responsibility to engage in charity, but every decision does not need to be the most charitable possible, especially if it will incur substantial harm to the giver.

If your driving motivation is to address past wrongs, you end up treating other people are mere means to an end, and acting immorally towards them.

If I run a business, and decide "blacks have been treated unfairly in hiring, so I'm going to hire only blacks", that is not a moral act. It is in fact immoral because you are using all the non-black candidates as means to fulfill your particular charitable end.
For living people who lived there when the towns and counties deliberately (and violently) excluded and saw their housing values accelerate because segregationists got hold of the state machinery and poured tax dollars to support those areas specifically because they were segregationist strongholds, you would be in favor of a segregation tax on the house resale, right? I mean, since people directly profited off the nefarious government actions, some of those profits should be diverted to other causes, right?

Again, a moral system predicated upon amnesia is simply not a moral system.

There are thousands of ways to morally try to address the past, and reasonable and moral people may disagree on which ways fit the issue and avoid nefarious consequences, but refusing to address the past isn't a non-action, it is a deeply immoral action that anyone would be held accountable for, morally and ethically.

Your comment on corruption being urban reveals a deep lack of knowledge of the history of Cobb County and for that matter its present, as FBI investigators move through the county.
   343. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 01, 2014 at 06:43 PM (#4649916)
As for the rest of your comment, I guess you're with snapper in seeing us as little more than a collection of atomized individuals and family units, each looking out for #1 and the hell with anyone else. That's pretty much where the Republicans and libertarians have been at all along, so I guess it's not too surprising that you two view things similarly.

Incorrect. I don't hold that view.

All I'm saying is that the morality of an individual is judged by his actions, not by the actions of people who happen to look like him, or who happened to live near him, or used to do so in the past.

Even if half the people in the Atlanta suburbs vote the way they do because of racism, other people who vote like them, for non-racist reasons, don't share any of the culpability for their neighbors' racism.
   344. The Yankee Clapper Posted: February 01, 2014 at 06:58 PM (#4649918)
I'd be more than happy to see DC incorporated into Maryland, thereby giving Washingtonians equal standing of citizenship with the rest of the country for the first time in our history. It sure isn't liberals who've been blocking such a move for nearly that long a time.

Actually, that's factually incorrect. To the extent that there is any support for retroceding DC into Maryland, it is coming from Republicans, and is being opposed by Democrats:
Rep. Louie Gohmert, the outspoken and undauntable Texas conservative, has introduced another bill to return the District of Columbia to Maryland, the state that donated the land to the federal government two centuries ago. The District of Columbia-Maryland Reunion Act, which Gohmert introduced last week, would turn over D.C. to Maryland, except for a "National Capital Service Area" downtown and along the National Mall. The federal government would maintain control of that area -- which the bill carefully defines. . . . Gohmert's proposal is likely dead in the water since neither D.C. statehood advocates nor Marylanders want retrocession.

Of course, once St. Nick explains the moral implications of their DC-phobic stance to his fellow Maryland Democrats, their outlook should change, no?
   345. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 01, 2014 at 07:11 PM (#4649922)
Again, a moral system predicated upon amnesia is simply not a moral system.

There are thousands of ways to morally try to address the past, and reasonable and moral people may disagree on which ways fit the issue and avoid nefarious consequences, but refusing to address the past isn't a non-action, it is a deeply immoral action that anyone would be held accountable for, morally and ethically.


What is your basis for conferring moral culpability on people for actions they had nothing to do with? That fails basically every theory of moral reasoning I've ever heard.

People are better or worse off because of all sorts of past events, intentional and accidental, benign and nefarious. I don't see what reasoning binds current people to moral responsibility for the results of actions that happened before they were born.

Even if you adopt a Rawlsian position that we must take whatever action helps the least well of person, why that person is bad off has no import.
   346. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: February 01, 2014 at 08:29 PM (#4649940)
One eensy-weensy snag with retroceding Washington D.C. is that it would require the repeal of the 23rd Amendment. Either that, or the shrunken non-residential area of D.C. that would not be retroceded (basically, the White House, the Supreme Court and the Capitol) would somehow have three electors in the electoral college. Maybe the mice would choose them.
   347. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: February 01, 2014 at 10:22 PM (#4649972)
As for the rest of your comment, I guess you're with snapper in seeing us as little more than a collection of atomized individuals and family units, each looking out for #1 and the hell with anyone else. That's pretty much where the Republicans and libertarians have been at all along, so I guess it's not too surprising that you two view things similarly.

Incorrect. I don't hold that view.

All I'm saying is that the morality of an individual is judged by his actions, not by the actions of people who happen to look like him, or who happened to live near him, or used to do so in the past.


And yet your sense of moral responsibility doesn't seem to incorporate any actions that would inconvenience the (unintended, in some cases) beneficiaries of past racist decisions in even the slightest way. The only factor that seems to enter into your equation is if the living beneficiaries of those past actions were alive and responsible for them---and even then you don't indicate what responsibilities they might have to the victims of their actions.

Even if half the people in the Atlanta suburbs vote the way they do because of racism, other people who vote like them, for non-racist reasons, don't share any of the culpability for their neighbors' racism.

Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil, and there's nobody here but us chickens. Every legacy of racism got wiped away the second the 60's civil rights bills were passed, and whatever problems may linger are solely the fault of black culture, the black family, and corrupt urban politicians, with no responsibility on the part of either racists or "people who vote like them". Again, how utterly convenient an explanation. I'd love to run all that by Pope Francis to get his reaction.

------------------------------------------------

I'd be more than happy to see DC incorporated into Maryland, thereby giving Washingtonians equal standing of citizenship with the rest of the country for the first time in our history. It sure isn't liberals who've been blocking such a move for nearly that long a time.

Actually, that's factually incorrect. To the extent that there is any support for retroceding DC into Maryland, it is coming from Republicans, and is being opposed by Democrats:


Rep. Louie Gohmert, the outspoken and undauntable Texas conservative, has introduced another bill to return the District of Columbia to Maryland, the state that donated the land to the federal government two centuries ago. The District of Columbia-Maryland Reunion Act, which Gohmert introduced last week, would turn over D.C. to Maryland, except for a "National Capital Service Area" downtown and along the National Mall. The federal government would maintain control of that area -- which the bill carefully defines. . . . Gohmert's proposal is likely dead in the water since neither D.C. statehood advocates nor Marylanders want retrocession.


Of course, once St. Nick explains the moral implications of their DC-phobic stance to his fellow Maryland Democrats, their outlook should change, no?

Ideally I'd favor DC statehood, since that's what Washingtonians have long wanted first and foremost, but since that's going nowhere, I'd also back incorporation into Maryland as a backup. As it stands now, DC is aptly described as our last colony.

Of course the real problem is that for many decades, conservatives in both parties, meaning Republicans and former Dixiecrats, have resisted giving DC residents any sort of voting power beyond presidential elections, limited home rule, and a non-voting Representative. The idea of giving two Senators to DC sends shudders down the spines of people for reasons that are politically understandable but morally questionable. And Republican congressmen, like their Dixiecrat predecessors, love to be able to control the DC purse strings.
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