Friday, September 26, 2014

"America's new class system"

"It is also in the interests of a tyrant to keep his people poor, so that they may not be able to afford the cost of protecting themselves by arms and be so occupied with their daily tasks that they have no time for rebellion."- Aristotle

There is nothing new in this article. What is in it has been noticed for thousands of years: the rich and wealthy will use the police - who ultimately are stupid and sometimes evil - to protect them.

I'll bet if you fired 90% of the police and disarmed the rest, crime would go down substantially. And if you got rid of all traffic tickets (which exist only to financially support the police) wrecks would go down. Of course, all of this is to "protect us."

See that video? The cop has been fired and might get 20 years for this, but do you know what caused this? "Seat belt violation," which is an attempt to steal the money of a not-rich man. You think the wealthy in limousines get them? Of course not.

This article is from USA Today and was written by Glenn Harlan Reynolds.

"We've heard a lot of election-year class warfare talk, from makers vs. takers to the 1% vs. the 99%. But Joel Kotkin's important new book, The New Class Conflict, suggests that America's real class problems are deeper, and more damaging, than election rhetoric.

"Traditionally, America has been thought of as a place of great mobility — one where anyone can conceivably grow up to be president, regardless of background. This has never been entirely true, of course. Most of our presidents have come from reasonably well-off backgrounds, and even Barack Obama, a barrier-breaker in some ways, came from an affluent background and enjoyed an expensive private-school upbringing. But the problem Kotkin describes goes beyond shots at the White House.

"In a nutshell, Kotkin sees California, once again, in its role as an indicator of where the nation is headed. And it's not an attractive destination.

"Once a state where the middle class reigned supreme, the apotheosis of the American Dream, California now has the wealth distribution — and, in some disturbing ways, the political underpinnings — of a Third World country. In Silicon Valley, a group of super-wealthy tech oligarchs live lives of almost unimaginable wealth, while only a few miles away, illegal immigrants live in squalor.

"The oligarchs feel free, and even entitled, to choose the direction of society in the name of a greater good, but somehow their policies seem mostly to make the oligarchs richer and more powerful. Meanwhile, once-prosperous middle-class communities, revolving around manufacturing industries that have now moved overseas, either sink into poverty or become gentrified homes for the lower-upper class. The middle class itself, meanwhile, is increasingly, in Kotkin's words, 'proletarianized,' with security vanishing and jobs moving downscale.

"The oligarchs are assisted in their control by what Kotkin calls the 'clerisy' class — an amalgam of academics, media and government employees who play the role that medieval clergy once played in legitimizing the powerful, and in implementing their policies while quelling resistance from the masses. The clerisy isn't as rich as the oligarchs, but it does pretty well for itself and is compensated in part by status, its positions allowing even its lower-paid members to feel superior to the hoi polloi.

"Because it doesn't have to work in competitive industries, the clerisy favors regulations, land-use rules and environmental restrictions that make things worse for businesses — especially the small 'yeoman' businesses that traditionally sustained much of the middle class — thus further hollowing out the middle of the income distribution. But the lower classes, sustained by government handouts and by rhetoric from the clerisy, provide enough votes to keep the machine running, at least for a while.

"This process has gone very far in California, but it's well underway across America. As the Federal Reserve noted last week, despite a booming stock market and several years of 'recovery,' most Americans aren't doing well. In fact only the top 10% saw their incomes rise between 2010 and 2013.

"One reason is that America's labor market, once famously flexible, has been rendered much less so. As The Economist notes, stifling occupational regulations make it harder for people, especially at the bottom of the economic ladder, to find jobs: "The spread of occupational licensing, for everything from horse massage to hair braiding, has raised barriers to entry for occupations that once required little or no training."

"Those most affected are the young, the poor, and the unemployed. Meanwhile, members of Kotkin's 'clerisy' find work teaching in schools needed for licensing, and in enforcing the licensing programs.

"And as Radley Balko notes in the Washington Post, a thicket of petty regulation helps to keep the poor, poor. Traffic fines, fines for not using a city-approved garbage service, even parking tickets all provide revenue for municipal machines that support jobs for the clerisy — social workers, police, etc. — even as they make it harder for poor people to keep their heads above water, or find the kind of work that would let them rise above poverty.

"Kotkin is not as pessimistic as this summary suggests. He thinks that America has a vast latent capacity to adapt, and to change the rules democratically, as we've done in the past. But, he says, "the most fundamental challenge facing the U.S. is the growing disenfranchisement of the middle and working class from the benefits of economic activity."

"Some people — like the Institute for Justice, a public-interest law firm that addresses absurd occupational licensing rules — are working on addressing that. But if the middle class is to have a future in America, we need to return power to it, at the expense of oligarchs and their secular clergy. Given that the uppermost strata of American society are still doing fine, expect the impulse for change to come from somewhere else."


Robert What? said...

It is completely reasonable that the policeman felt safe in shooting the guy, considering that the police are almost always exonerated in these situations, no matter how outré.

I imagine the cop was surprised to get arrested. Although I am sure the prosecutors will find that he acted "by the book".

Anonymous said...

"Every cop is a criminal ..." - Rolling Stones - "Sympathy for The Devil"

Perhaps not then, but damn close to an absolute fact now. They refuse to police themselves and this is the result, ergo, they are all complicit and thus criminal.

Novaseeker said...

Kotkin has written some interesting books in the past, relating to urbanism and suburbanism, pretty much counter to the oft-peddled idea that everyone wants to live in high rise apartments in the inner cities.

It's interesting that he uses the word clerisy. of course, I've described it that way myself some time ago here: But it's interesting to see that others are reaching similar (not identical, but similar) conclusions in a non-samizdat setting.

Unknown said...

The cop is in big trouble. He shot at the man as he was backing up with his hands in the air. Three of the bullets went wild. He could have killed innocent people.

Glen Filthie said...

Let's have some honesty here Unca Bob.

A. Most poor people are not poor due to Wall Street, The Gubbermint, or the Joos or cops - they're poor because they are stupid, and they refuse to educate themselves or learn from their mistakes. Yeah, I am looking at blacks when I say that, and fuck them if they don't like it. It's true.

B. Not to defend the cop, but I'm betting that if you want to hop up on the soap box and weep for this poor, innocent black man that got blown away - you will find that he is a chimp on par with St. Trayvon Of Skittles or that feral baboon that got shot in Ferguson. His rap sheet probably goes up to and includes rabies and the cop probably knew exactly who he was shooting at. I dunno - just call that an educated guess.

Finally - of COURSE our cops are homicidal maniacs. You send those guys into the ghetto where feral chimps will watch as they are beaten to death in their streets, or the trailer parks where they get shot at by drunks, Obama's children, or other failed liberal social experiments - and they are going to break. Anyone with a brain would refuse to do the job - so unless these libertarians want to step up and do the job they should STFU and FOAD. If you fire the cops it will be the law of the jungle - where private citizens do the same thing that cop just did - and entire neighbourhoods will go to war.

Good grief. It must be Friday.

kurt9 said...

Joel Kotkin is a liberal who actually gets it.

Anders said...

Given the massive demographic shift, California is America's first third world state. Many others soon to follow, typically among the south west border.