Randoms of the last few days

It’s not often that I disagree with OneSTDV, but I disagree with this:

Basically what I’m trying to say is that reactionary politics might not really be all that great. It isn’t going to make you a better person and it definitely won’t make you feel better going to sleep at night.

Who was happier than H. L. Mencken? The pessimist, after all, is never disappointed. The proper reactionary attitude to mainstream society is detached amusement. You know which things you can control and influence and you see to those things. You laugh at the rest. (In fairness, I think One’s point may be that your political beliefs themselves shouldn’t be a source of happiness. With this point, I agree).

I guess we’re going with Theophile per this discussion.

Nothing is more bothersome to me than progressive discussions of the US prison population. "Despite our “land of the free” rhetoric, we deem it necessary (at great expense) to incarcerate more of our people, 2.3 million, than the world’s most draconian regimes." I’m pretty sure no on sits around saying the US prison population should be a little higher today. Doesn’t it depend on criminals to commit crimes at some point? The post also assumes that prisons have failed because they’re full of people. I don’t understand the logic at all. That said, I’m all for flogging.

The ultimate objection to my argument for the return of a de facto gold standard was that if we start down that route, USG will just take your gold. Instead, then you should take your meager returns from stocks and bonds and like them. Unfortunately, it appears that USG will probably come after those holdings as well.

Nothing puts affirmative action in context better than law school statistics. My wife has some good stories after being a law firm for a few years, but I’m not sure if I should share them.

Something’s wrong when you get better economic analysis from a game website than from economists.

The Sanandaji Principe: "due to the left leaning voting patterns of unskilled immigrant, we can only maximum have two out of three of Open Borders, Libertarianism and Democracy."

Fred Reed on democracy.

Pictures from a crack house.

A few people have asked me why I sometimes criticize Half Sigma. It’s most because he believes he knows the objective value of all goods and services. Even Marx was more skeptical of his own knowledge than that.

"Old books have good humour, proper manners, good smell, and wit: exactly what one expects in good society."

27 Responses to Randoms of the last few days

  1. CTD says:

    You shouldn’t share the law school stories. However, you _should_ share completely fictional stories about the behavior of Krebistani-Americans in your wife’s basket-knitting class.

  2. Handle says:

    I say share the law firm stories.

    As far Half Sigma, as far as I can tell, his entire post concerns the fairly simply notion of the “distribution of surplus”. An entrepreneur hires an additional worker at a certain wage and equips him with capital because it’s profitable – that is – the market value of the output exceeds the wage and the cost of capital. That’s not “value transference”, that’s a contract – and the missing piece is there is complementary distribution of risk. What determines the portion of profit distributed to a worker in the form of wages is basically the strength or weakness of the labor marker. Scarce (or unionized) labor means a higher portion of revenue ends up in wages, promises, and better working conditions, whereas plentiful labor (such as 10 million desperate illegal Mexicans willing to work long hours at subsistence wages, and who won’t sue you or complain or cause trouble) means plenty of gain for the employer.

    As for the prison population, there are two things that have completely changed in the last 30 years that are largely left out of the discussion. First there is modern forensics including genetic analysis. Nothing spells “instant ticket to beyond reasonable doubt” like ubiquitous DNA testing. But advances in “CSI”-style investigative techniques and unique-in-the-world levels of expenditure of that sort of technology by US Police means *lots* more solved crimes and lots more convictions.

    Second – there is legal re-equilibration. Ever since the Warren Court began it’s assault on policing almost 50 years ago, the police have been waging a shifting battle to hit a constantly moving target. Maybe a better analogy would be “constantly moving the bar” or “Lucy taking away the football from Charlie Brown”. Most of the innovations in defendant protection were direct responses to the intensifying drug war.

    But eventually the trend of Constitutional Criminal Law settled down with only occasional, and less significant, novel adjustments, and the Police gradually refined their standard procedures and learn to tell exactly the right stories to judge and jury, and the District Attorneys learned how to pick and choose cases and ensure very high conviction rates. There’s a parallel here to how the military initially foundered against the insurgency in Iraq but after a long period of adjustment and hard experience, improved their tactics and eventually turned the tables.

    The point is – there are perfectly good reasons for the large incarcerated population completely independent of the purported emergence of a “tough on crime” political culture, or the upward-revision of sentence-lengths, or the drug war, or the explosive propagation of new crimes. Most folks in jail in the 2010’s are in for the same things prisoners were in for in the 1960’s – they’re just getting caught and convicted more often, and losing their BS appeals.

    A related third reason the prisons are full is that we’ve got so many prime-working age males who are completely idle, and now more than ever – according to the latest BLS report. That report says 43% (3 out of every 7) of Black males 20-65, that is, Five Million of them, are not working at all. For White men it’s still an amazing 32%, or 28 Million folks. Without employment to keep them busy and disciplined and put food on the table, it’s no surprise a lot of those guys are going to end up getting up to no good and in jail.

  3. Another Anon says:

    Re: incarceration and flogging

    I’d like to see the police brutality stats from countries with lower imprisonment than the U.S. My pet theory of the moment is that the “War on Drugs” was a reaction to the criminality unleashed by 1. increased protections for the accused and 2. increased racial sensitivities.

    If your police force can deliver an oldtime Chicago-style beatdown on criminal types without fear of a lawsuit or a race riot, criminals will be better behaved without the need for incarceration.

  4. dearieme says:

    “I’m not sure if I should share them.” I vote ‘yes’.

  5. sardonic_sob says:

    Share the stories. Unless they’re HIGHLY specific, they could’ve happened anywhere. And probably have.

    With regard to prisons, my opinion is that 1) we imprison people for way too many things most of which shouldn’t be crimes at all, and 2) the reasons that prison does not act as a deterrent are many and varied. Men are going to pay for sex, people without hope (economic and/or emotional) are going to be involved with drugs. Punish real rapists, punish people who do bad things whether or not they were intoxicated. Leave the rest alone.

    Also, some sectors of society do not see prison as an entirely bad thing. I doubt there are many who wouldn’t rather be free than imprisoned, but prison time is seen as a rite of passage or “just one of those things” by some. You’re not going to scare them with prison.

    Besides all that, given the glacial speed of our justice system, the sort of person who commits impulsive crimes, which is most of them, just isn’t going to form the spinal-reflex dread of being caught doing something bad that you get in place like Saudi Arabia or Singapore. There’s too much hope of avoiding the ultimate punishment. “I’ll be out on bond in two hours. Maybe the cop will be out of town for my hearing. Maybe they’ll lose the evidence. Maybe the judge will be a softie and let me go with probation.” This is not what you want people thinking about. You want them thinking, “SHIT THEY HAVE ME ON VIDEO STEALING THAT STUFF FROM THE STORE I’LL BE CHAINED TO THE WHIPPING POST THIS AFTERNOON SHIT SHIT SHIT.” (Please pardon my language.)

    While in my mind mutilation is right out as a civilized punishment, I think carefully controlled corporal punishment is both more humane than imprisonment and, especially if the sentence is carried out swiftly, forms a much more effective deterrent.

      • Sardonic_sob says:

        We have a saying: “Hard cases make bad law.”

        Every fiber of my being cries out that this is an appropriate retribution – and it might even act as a real deterrence (though it’s hard to deter crimes of passion and acidifying someone’s face is usually that, I’m guessing.) Frankly, that part of me wants him awake and for her to dump a whole jar on HIS face as he did to her.

        But no. Mutilation is where I draw the line. It is not civilized. I was going to say it is inhuman, but obviously it’s VERY human. So rather I will say it is not what humans should aspire to be. To teach and to deter – these are reasonable, civilized goals, and in my opinion we could be a good deal more aggressive in pursuing them. But to mutilate, to permanently scar and diminish a person’s body – and incidentally make them much more likely to become a permanent drain on society – that’s not justice, that’s just vengeance, and it’s not healthy.

      • Zimriel says:

        I honestly don’t aspire to be the sort of person who spends a lot of time worrying that we’ve been fair enough to scum. I aspire to live a life where I just don’t have to think much about scum in the first place. If, say, a few thieves lose their hands along the way the process, that’s their fault and not mine.

      • Sardonic_sob says:

        I’m not overly worried about scum, either. I’m worried about myself. My humanity, my soul, whatever you want to call it. Doing evil soils me. I lessens me. If I do it repeatedly, it makes me smaller.

        You may share this concern, or not. I haven’t any empirical evidence either way.

  6. Fake Herzog says:


    Regarding prisons and deterrence, the point is not that prison is necessarily a deterrence, but that you want prisons filled to the brim with the kinds of people they are currently filled with because those people are in fact, generally dangerous. See James Q. Wilson for more.

    • Sardonic_sob says:

      Do you mean that’s the theory or that’s the current situation?

      If the latter, I most strenuously disagree. Most small-time drug dealers, drug users, prostitutes, and johns are not particularly dangerous and would be even less so were their activities not so harshly punished.

      • K(yle) says:

        Criminals do not specialize. People are either willing to be criminals or they are not. Some drug-users perhaps are exclusively pot heads, but for the most part any other category of crime will have overlap with various other categories of crime.

        The reality is if someone is a drug-dealer they are probably willing to also B&E, steal, assault, et cetera. That’s taken into consideration in regards to sentencing (in terms of justification for the legislation, not judicially).

        Harsh drug charges are in place because it is an easy conviction. The evidence is on the perp. Best case scenario you get to lock up a violent criminal for additional years due to drug charges in addition to whatever else they are really being put away for.

        The War on Drugs is really the War on Thugs. You can’t come out and say that we need to get millions of violent black men off the streets, but we can criminalize behavior that is tertiary to their more violent escapades.

        Regardless, you’d have to be foolish to think that rampant drug and alcohol abuse doesn’t significantly contribute to the whole impulse control and violent crime situation in the black community in particular. Just look at Somalians and their kash.

      • Foseti says:

        I absolutely agree. They only seem to make drug arrests, because it’s hard to catch people doing the really bad stuff. If it takes drug laws to get criminals off the street, I’m all for drug laws.

      • Sardonic_sob says:

        Some of your arguments are reasonable and would be persuasive if I was not aware of the fact that violent offenders, on average, do not spend more time behind bars than non-violent offenders. If it is your position that a lot of convictions for non-violent offenses are really just easy convictions of Bad People, I am both dubious that this is the case and of the opinion that this is a very, very unhealthy state of affairs. We don’t prosecute people, we prosecute crimes.

      • Foseti says:

        That is my position – though I agree that it’s a bad state of affairs. The courts basically outlawed good old fashioned police work in the 60s and 70s. Crime (obviously) shot up. Drug laws have fixed much of the problem in many places. Shitty state of affairs, but better than the state of affairs that existed in the 80s.

  7. josh says:

    RE: AA

    My principal last Friday asked all of the teachers, over the PA system, to ‘excort’ our class to hear the guest speak, a local tv reporter who was hand-picked for something or other by Ted Koppel (which apparently rhymes with “opal”.)

  8. RS says:

    > Most small-time drug dealers, drug users, prostitutes, and johns are not particularly dangerous and would be even less so were their activities not so harshly punished.

    Is that who you think is in jail? My guess would be otherwise.

    • RS says:

      This would be great if it were for the entire prison pop – I don’t know what ‘state prison’ means.


      By the way, it’s not that I support drug laws – I would repeal them all tomorrow, since they appear to have no effect.

    • Sardonic_sob says:

      I never said that that is most of the prison population. I was responding to the “full to the brim” assertion. Say that only 25% of inmates are in for non violent victimless crimes. I hope no one would assert that since we would only reduce the pop by a quarter and not more than half it’s not a valid consideration as to how much it would benefit us to get.them out. Let alone the chronic overcrowding which makes prisons so much worse than they need to be and contributes mightily to lawsuits and endangers corrections officers so much.

      Systems don’t demonstrate linear response to carrying capacity issues, as anyone who commutes in a congested area can tell you. A system 10% over it’s limit can produce results 50% as good as it would even right at 100% capacity.

  9. RS says:

    Wow, interesting stuff. So we have 400,000 men in the joint for drugs even though this does nothing to drug use relative to legalization (in Europe, at least). And that’s about half again more, or 35% again more, than we have in there for ‘real’ shit. And we used to have approximately zero guys in there for drugs at the state level, and I’m guessing also at the federal level.

    And all this because the Dem machine wanted to compound de-segregation by making ‘real’ crimes functionally semi-legal. Why? The MM explanation, that they wanted to make war on urban (generally Catholic/’ethnic’) Whites, makes no sense seeing that those were (as I recall) their own voters, who were inspired by this to turn GOP. Maybe they simply did it against self-interest out of their warped principles.

    • Another Anon says:

      “they wanted to make war on urban (generally Catholic/’ethnic’) Whites, makes no sense seeing that those were (as I recall) their own voters”

      I think the case is stronger than you do. First, many Northern progressives were originally Republican, so they’d be fine with causing chaos among the Dems.

      The white ethnics voted Democrat, but were of a different faction and temperament. The battle for control was often over cities and their large budgets and patronage systems.

      The ethnic machines were weakened by the New Deal’s nationalization of many work projects, by WWII ethnic blending, and by the advent of new media technologies that bypassed the ethnic bosses. The ethnic voters were also redundant if the black vote could be made dependably progressive.

      Lots of white ethnics still vote Democrat, but their leadership has been co-opted and rendered dependent upon the control systems of the progressives, or sent into ineffective exile in the GOP.

      How much of this was intentional, and how much of it only looks that way in retrospect, I don’t know.

      • RS says:

        Hm. Not a bad case I guess. Of course the Dems gave up not just Yankee ethnics, but also the entire South – and they had to see that coming. In consideration of that, the case might have to be stronger than it is in order to be convincing.

  10. Gian says:

    Detached amusement might work if one never loves or have children. Afterwards, one can never be sufficiently detached.

    Mencken lived in an easier time. Suppose one’s family is hit by genocidal pogrom or a senseless crime or even stricken by cancer.
    How much detached amusement can one afford then?

  11. Tschafer says:

    Well, no one knows more about drifting in a drug-induced fog than Fred Reed. Of course, drugs are cheaper in Mexico – that might explain a lot…

  12. RS says:

    I have just now replied a bunch at the bottom of the Nietzsche thread.

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