Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Re: Mind's Eye Re: Cops and robbers

To shift anything in the world of poverty we need to take a very cold look at what doesn't work.  This is true in general organisational change.  This raises the immediate problem of sounding negative and even racist  about whoever is poor.  I see the same problems now as 40 years ago with much the same non-solutions on offer, usually massively under-funded.  Like Don I see throwing money at the problems more of less useless.  The big ideological 'solutions' whether capitalist or socialist have failed everywhere and neither strike me as rational.  These latter seem to function only as means to prevent sensible alternatives being discussed.

Francis and I could probably do a 24/7/month doing a filibuster on social epistemology, Critical Theory and economics (even this has at least 9 forms) between us.  Fear not, I suspect we both know such is practically hopeless other than as a torture device.  It all grinds down to most expert opinion being the self-interested yakker of particular groups.  'Yakker' probably means talking from the nakkers.  I have long wanted us to look at new ways of discussion and action.  In academic terms we don't do argument, though this is not to say there is much 'cure' about in the academy.  This view is put forward by Dan Sperber and others in weak form.  We need something much more simple as a framework.

First of all I think existing knowledge cannot be the answer.  I could cobble together academic papers on regional economic renewal in a few months - but I did plenty of that once to no real effect other than as adjuncts to bids for project finance and know even 'successful' projects don't really work.  I can claim over £10 million and none of it did much other than support a few bullshit jobs for a while and stress me half to death.  It's a lousy and corrupt business and I even saw a really good project attract mainstream funding and then get worse!

The first problem in community involvement is the nature of the community needing help.  We may seem to know little about relevant bits of Baltimore or Bolton, but we know enough not to live there.  Even if we get the chance to travel to Rwanda we will live in the comfortable ex-pat community in Kigali and I spent time as an economic-educational advisor flying in steel tubes between good meals and rarely speaking other than English.  I did seem to pierce this bubble more often than colleagues,  but really I have been no more part of targeted communities than most.  I'd say the biggest problem is our own middle-class ideologies - the real ones, not the ones we can learn to speak.  Few of us are capable of looking at the real data and then working from the facts.  The most radical Critical Theorist is quickly found not to live next door to drunken, druggie, criminal and loud neighbours or work among them other than as a professional living somewhere else.  My nearest was as a cop undercover in France.  And I can point to police action so stupid no one would take what I could say at face value not far away.

We regularly imagine some kind of invisible economic hand will fix things, but I now suspect jobs in the old sense no longer exist to be 'brought back'.  Worse, in western societies I suspect most jobs are already bullshit jobs we would not miss if no one did them.  The next financial bust may also become a jobs' bust like the period between the wars - and remember that was corrected by war.  The US, in this sense, looks much like the old British Empire with a comparable and larger number under arms.

Can anyone tell me what products they can imagine we need if we could get growth, that would form the basis of a stable situation of jobs for all?  This is tough enough, then one has to think of comparative advantage and what other countries could do to have full employment too.  Germany does better than others, but translate this economy across the globe and we finally throw a match into an atmosphere that will burn.

The real answers on growing green and world peace lie outside current economics.  We have just had, in an apparently well-educated country (UK), a few months of hopeless election coverage and a weird result against opinion polling, that contained no sensible economics, nothing of any interest to me, and a majority government on 37% of votes cast and maybe as low as 20% of the potential vote when one considers that only 67% of registered voters voted and somewhere between 7 and 10 million were not registered.  It's actually worse than this.  We have 650 first past the post constituencies and in 550 of them one party tends to get in whatever and so only about 100 matter as changeable in the election.  In these marginals only around 20% of swing voters matter.  The winners worked very well in these marginals on a tiny percentage.of our population.  

Not much we can debate is "real".  American friends now face even longer elections in which the majority will probably not vote and with coverage as presstituted as that in the UK.  I mean no 'vote this way' politics in any of this.

Even shifting poor people out into the burbs is no good if they don't get income.  How is this income going to happen in an economy with nearly 95 million of working age 'not in the economy'?  We have a very similar problem here and those with low skills remain more or less unmarketable.  Think of the numbers on tax credits too, employed on subsidy.  54% of even Americans get some kind of welfare.  Now wonder if any of this will get much election coverage.. We seem to be living in deluded faith that economies can recover in the old business cycle sense.

When I lecture these days, I start out with a blank paper equivalent to test knowledge of how current economies work.  They are returned blank.  I guess we should start in some kind of admitted ignorance.  Someone tell me what jobs black unemployed in largely blac ghettoes can do, what training they could do and so on.  Then, as dots are supposed to join up in economics, lets have some answers on whose jobs such lucky black people might take?  And whether you would bother as an entrepreneur to take on the expense of the training, possibly low attitude and aptitude population, rather than employ some already ready others?

Drongoes wanting to moral high ground me as racist in this last bit should leave their heads in the sand.   You won't help. 

On Monday, Md even racisay 11, 2015 at 12:52:40 PM UTC+1, Allan Heretic wrote:
The inner citues are truly  a work of art. In 1965 (I was 18) i was volunteered to teach a reading class in the inner city section of L.A. known as Watts. At the time my education  was pitiful but compared to the kids in the area it was as if i had several doctoral and masters degrees.
It was some class.. they were young kids. Though it was not much we had a total  of 2 books both the same. We sat on the floor as we only had a mattress with a couple of blankets.  We took turns read or i should say they read.. and helped them when they stumbled or didn't know the word.. in a way we had a lot of fun.. joined the navy and was in boot camp when the riots hit . (I was very lucky to be out of there.)
Oddly many years later i was approached by a nicely dressed black lady.  She bought me coffee and lunch saying i had given her the knowledge that she to could read.. she was a beautiful soul.. she said that too gave reading  classes and only need two of the same books.
It really does not take much mostly the desire to help others.

تجنب. القتل والاغتصاب واستعباد الآخرين
Avoid; murder, rape and enslavement of others

-----Original Message-----
From: Molly <mollyb363@gmail.com>
To: minds-eye@googlegroups.com, dajohn@gmail.com
Sent: Mon, 11 May 2015 12:49 PM
Subject: Re: Mind's Eye Re: Cops and robbers

Poverty sucks for every culture, Don, and there are so many catch 22 factors involved like mental health and addiction. 90% of what goes through a county court system involves one if not both of those on some level. Not easy to break out of if you are raised in it. In the 90s Chicago was recruiting former athletes that were raised in those situations to go back and work with kids there to give them hope. They were a great group of guys who did a lot of good. The program may still be in place, not sure.

On Sunday, May 10, 2015 at 4:08:05 PM UTC-4, Don Johnson wrote:
Oh yeah, forgot about the harbor. I'm really just talking about the really bad neighborhoods anyway. The kind of neighborhoods you'd have to be a junkie or mentally disabiled to actually want to live in. IF they can be saved, fine. Using Chicago as a template I don't see that happening. Looking at who's in charge over there I don't see that happening. They'll get hundreds of millions of State, Federal and Charity dollars and they will line their pockets and piss the rest away with fresh paint and pinewood shacks. That's the ugly truth. 

My brother used to be Director of Radiation Control for the Navy but now heads the EPA Dept. He still goes to all the shipyards, including Japan, fairly regularly. I know he was over there in Baltimore last week I wonder if the riots affected their routine. Actually he was in Kittery last week don't know about Baltimore. 

Your right about the Moms, Molly. I've been impressed by single black moms before. Particularly sports star's moms. 6 or 8 kids and she manages to raise decent human being on her own and even one or two that end up really excelling. Impressive. The dead beat dads I have a healthy dose of contempt for. Some cultures suck. 

On Sun, May 10, 2015 at 9:56 AM, Molly <mollyb363@gmail.com> wrote:
We have a long way to go with race relations in this country, Don. Our personal feelings are one place to begin because we have complete influence on them. My own are by no means pure, and I've had to flush out much cultural programming over the years. Since it's mother's day, I will say that in every race, barring mental health and addiction issues, mothers want the best for their children including opportunities to succeed given the resources available. I have seen this and lived it.

I can't say that Baltimore does not want to be helped. When I was there on business I loved the city and the harbor, but learned little of the politics effecting it now. Because of the navy's presence in the harbor, I imagine that this brings several federal security agencies into town to maintain order, as is also the case in Detroit. I see Baltimore as a city worth saving. And not just because it is in Mary-land.

On Saturday, May 9, 2015 at 7:55:54 PM UTC-4, Don Johnson wrote:
You can't save a town that doesn't want to be saved. If I was king shit of turd mountain I'd focus on those individuals and families that want to be saved. I'd get them the hell out of Baltimore and set them up in the 'burbs somewhere. It's worked before. The rest can burn; I'm fed up. The same goes with the ME. And Africa. Anywhere oppressed with Sharia law. Those that want to be saved; come here. Assimilate. 

But no. Pardon moi. I think I just went all bigoted and racist. Live and let live as they say. I'll just mind my own beeswax. Nothing to see here. 

On Thu, May 7, 2015 at 10:08 AM, archytas <nwterry@gmail.com> wrote:
We have almost become each other Francis - I used that poem in my doctorate and now find myself agreeing everything you say like the worst of disciples!  The rough beast is obvious - I was more impressed by the bit about the best lacking all conviction and who now had conviction.  The German public were voting for parties that would end democracy - Nazis and Communists - how often do we see that with Muslim Brotherhoods and the West's now de facto behind-the-scenes one-unelected-party state.  I went through a phase of trying to make leadership a key factor, but in the end I hate the concept for its lack of 'biology', real history and anthropology.  I always think of the septic tank theory of society with the really big chunks rising to the top..

Veblen was writing in the same times.  His hope was in technological progress matched to human needs and his rough beast the business-financial control system - I lump the latter as the 'allocation class'.  Soddy was doing economics too, saying we would be better off with a few good adding machines than the banksters.  There was much discussion of lytric systems - the word doesn't google now.  Today's talk is in Modern Monetary Theory and Positive Money and would have relevant application in such as Detroit, the Middle East and Bolton.  Jumping somewhat, Molly's local ideas have much merit until one thinks of the rough beast bogeyman of economics and their failure almost everywhere for 50 years.  Talk of economies coming back is rarely true - though I have made such claims in regional economic forums to get hands on what relief effort (EU grants mostly) was up for grabs.  Molly as Mary is a spokesperson for such an outfit.  I worked with people from Chicago more than 15 years ago doing much the same.

Positive Money could bring the rough beast of economic externality to heel in the local.  Such would be an attack on the allocation class through government by the people.  I pronounce this world revolution feeling too knackerd to put up a couple of replacement fence panels!  Old Boxer feels on his way to the glue factory.  The scheme sounds rather too like the Nazi effort for comfort, rather than Soviet Paradise, in economic-social terms.  The first thing one must accept is the current economic system cannot work for peaceful, stable, reasonably egalitarian outcomes.  The idea that it can is a myth, held by many, especially Americans, that we can fine tune the current system.

There are many voices on positive money, whether they refer to it or not directly.  Zerohedge has the libertarians, naked capitalism the MMT and the notion is implied in all social epistemology (Critical Theory etc) economic geography and the heterdox economists like Steve Keen.  Economists generally are a dire block to the discussion and I agree with fellow scientists that their departments should be closed.  I favour bringing a much wider form of project based money and learning into operation.  There are some small examples.

The big question is how to do anything under the gaze of the Establishment gun.  We are, of course, up to our arses in alligators and only now thinking of draining the swamp (and hopefully concerned to relocate the alligators).  If we were able to find a model that worked in practice, there is still a history in which we don't transfer it in order to maintain beggar they neighbour.  Afghanistan is a good example, though there are many.  Modernisation there has repeatedly been kiboshed by the West since the 1920's, even to power systems on the Hellmand river raising salt into the agricultural land leaving it fit for poppy growing.

My guess is the technical doing isn't that hard. 

On Thursday, May 7, 2015 at 2:13:57 PM UTC+1, frantheman wrote:
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;, 
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.

Yeats' "Second Coming" is nearly 100 years old now, written in the immediate aftermath of WWI and in the middle of a six year convulsive period (1916-1922) which led to Irish independence. I've read somewhere that it's one of the most quoted poems in the English language - the "rough beast [...] slouching towards Bethlehem to be born" seems to ring all kinds of bells. Reading your latest post, Neil, brought the first verse immediately to my mind.

Even data has problems; what data do you collect (though this problem is solved if you collect everything about everything, which is now the normal digital standard, from Google to the NSA), more importantly, what criterea do you use to sort it - or, put more contemporarily, what algorithms do you use to mine it?

To quote another fellow Irishman, Oscar Wilde has a character in "Earnest" observe; "The truth is rarely pure and never simple." In our fractured post-modernist realities, truth has become irrelevant. You have your truth, I have mine, the Salafist living across the road from me has another, the neo-Nazi down the street yet another. In the social media the extremists from both sides shout without listening and any nuanced and more complex analysis is, at best, ignored, more frequently instrumentalised by the one or other extreme.

The recent British election campaign has shown that neither of the putative Prime Ministers wants to say anything real about any serious issue, for fear of alienating potential supporters. They've both been trying to learn from the doyenne of no-speak, Angela Merkel here in Germany, whose only principle is to say as little as possible while, at the same time, mastering the art of producing anodyne balm for the insecure, self-righteous petit bourgeois soul of the German majority.

The first season of The Wire (in my view one of the best series TV has ever produced) will be 13 years old next month. One of the frightening things about Baltimore is that the city and US society seem to have learned exactly nothing from David Simon's work. 

"Il faut cultiver notre jardin," Voltaire's Candide increasingly seems to me to have got it right. As you say, the temptation to retreat to an ivory tower, having secured - as far as possible - the necessities of basic living, is almost overwhelming. 

And yet ... and yet ...

Maybe all we can do is just not give up, try to cultivate decency and humanity and openness and listening to each other in our own lives and in the small islands of dignity we can discover in our ordinary lives. And protest in our own little ways against the lies, and oversimplifications, and hypocrisy, and bigotry. Shout out. And howl ...

   I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked,
   dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix,
   angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night ...

Am Montag, 4. Mai 2015 12:59:15 UTC+2 schrieb Molly:
The big ongoing news here in the states is the rash of clash between demonstrators and police. The demonstrations are (supposedly) brought on by the ever growing voice against the use of excessive force by police. It is such a complex issue, and the demonstrations themselves are not a simple problem.

Since living in Detroit I've heard many storied about how the riots of 1967 altered the course of history for the city, and changed individual lives forever. Most recently, I cried like a baby listening to the eulogy of a fine man given my his loving wife, my friend. He was a catholic priest at the time, and she a Detroit resident. He left the priesthood afterward and they married a couple of years later. There were over 40 priests at the services, three from Rome officiated the funeral mass. This guy was on the fast track to Cardinal when the riots shook his very core and changed his value system forever.

It gets me thinking about the very nature of the waves of demonstrations. In the sixties, of course, they were spurred by civil rights issues, Then the war in Vietnam (four dead in Ohio). Now it seems, in the age of transparency, the relationship between law enforcement and the criminals they deter (treatment during the time of arrest.) Complicated and exacerbated by the new "protest for hire" gang, the same well funded group that travels the US heightening racial tension (Al Sharpton, Jessie Jackson.) Baltimore's riots had a big gang problem that hasn't been seen yet, the street gangs hoping on board in an organized way to conduct criminal activity in the chaos. Something's gotta give.

Certainly, the police methods employed in some metropolitan cities should be eliminated and cleaned up. But the police have to be able to defend themselves and do their job (which should be protecting and serving the public.) Where any of that goes off the rail is where it gets murky.

When we can't have civil unrest without it being corrupted by monied interests looking to make things worse, there is little hope for societal change. This may be the reason for the current chaos. Follow the money.


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