Of compassion and commonsense 12

It’s generally a sign of a weak argument when something that is a plain and obvious disaster, which must be fixed, urgently, is allowed to flourish because of constitutional theories and scientific studies. … Without common sense, all the verbal gymnastics on earth will not find the truth. 

So Edward Ring writes at American Greatness.

He quotes a Democrat who objects to dangerous Democratic policies concerning the homeless:

I live in a city, Portland, OR, plagued by homelessness. I do not want homelessness to be criminal, but I also want to remove homeless camps and tents from my city’s sidewalks, fields, under bridges or overpasses. … The objection is far greater than a distaste for the appearance of the homeless or their camps.. … Portland’s waterfront is plagued by the smell of urine under bridges, large number of rats (they come out at night), danger from discarded drug paraphernalia, and threatening nature of many homeless people.

He writes that citizens fear “walking by large numbers of people sleeping in filthy towels, sleeping bags and tents”; that “a business owner’s objections to having a homeless person sleeping outside her store” is not unreasonable, nor is the preference of householders who live near a homeless camp “to live without fear, or worry their children will play with a discarded syringe”.

Many, perhaps most of the homeless are lunatics. They need to be in asylums for their own and everyone else’s sake. They are on the streets because way back in the last quarter of the last century, theorists who made academic studies insisted that those we commonly called raving madmen were “really” sane and the rest of us, designated “society” or “the community”, were “really” the insane. These theorists sprang up simultaneously in many Western countries – notably America, Britain and Germany –  singing the same song. An international chorus hymning a momentous discovery, a breakthrough in the understanding of human evolution: what seems insane is sane; what seems sane is insane. 

The compassionate thing to do was to “release these men and women into the community”. The homeless wretches reel about the streets of the cities, bewildered, helpless, desperate, lost. Drugged and diseased, they lived on the streets and died on the streets. Unless they were caught for crimes and died in prison. Successive generations of them do the same.

But now theorists who make academic studies are insisting that homeless deranged criminals are “really” the victims of social crime, and we, “society” or “the community” who obey the law are “really” criminals. The compassionate thing to do is to let them commit crimes.

We’re not making this up.

Edward Ring makes it plain that it is not compassionate to tolerate crime:

As anyone who lived or regularly visited New York City in the early 1990s will attest, “Broken Windows” worked brilliantly. Crime and disorder fell precipitously virtually overnight, and for the first time in decades, the city felt safe. It worked so well that most of the rest of the country quickly followed suit with similar results. It is the rare social science theory that actually worked. … Abandoning it wholesale is folly. Do people really want more disorder? How is that good for anyone and how will it not lead to more crime?

He is talking about all street crimes, not just those committed by the psychotic homeless. In California now, the theorists who make academic studies have enlarged their exonerating cloud of compassion to enfold and protect all street criminals.

He comes to the nub of the argument. What is and what is not compassionate?

Beyond constitutional theorizing and scientific studies, which can be posturing rationalizations as often as they are valid, is the moral value of compassion. That value is priceless.

“Priceless” meaning precious beyond price, extremely valuable. We would join issue with him over that, qualify the claim, but not here and now. We continue to follow his argument.

But common sense requires tempering the value of compassion with common-sense recognition of human nature. Compassion comes with obligations. Compassion is one of several moral virtues that need to inform common-sense solutions to public policy challenges.

For example, according to University of Virginia social psychologist Jonathan Haidt, there are six universal moral foundations. These virtues (and their opposites) are: care/harm, fairness/cheating, loyalty/betrayal, authority/subversion, sanctity/degradation, and liberty/oppression. Progressives … apparently place the virtue of compassion above all others. But true compassion cannot do good unless it is balanced with fairness, loyalty, authority, sanctity, and liberty.

We would omit “sanctity” and substitute “honor”.

Is it fair to anyone … to permit people to defecate on public sidewalks? Is it compassionate to allow people to stagger about a busy shopping district, stupefied on heroin? …

[A] “new breed of Democratic prosecutors” … is part of the problem, not the solution. They have placed a highly selective compassion before common sense.

It is true that, somehow, Americans need to figure out how to reduce the number of people who are incarcerated.

But the obligations of commonsense compassion

“Commonsense compassion” being not an oxymoron in his view, but an alliance, or at least a truce, between head and heart? …

… require policymakers to accept unpleasant realities: When you downgrade crimes you encourage more crime. When you decriminalize possession and personal use of hard drugs, you encourage more drug addiction. When you provide benefits and services to homeless people, you encourage more homelessness.

These realities don’t mean we shouldn’t have compassion for people who are homeless or who are coping with drug addiction, or even for those who have turned to a life of crime. …

There he goes too far!  To condone “compassion for those who have turned to a life of crime” is to condone the rape of justice.

But he turns back to commonsense.

Compassion has become so corrupted by progressives and the special interests who benefit from disorder and misery that the policies enacted in its name have made the problem worse. How is it compassionate, when supposedly compassionate policies lead to more victims; more homeless, more drug addicts, more criminals?

He’s right: it is not compassionate. It is cruel.

Posted under Crime, Ethics by Jillian Becker on Sunday, January 19, 2020

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Californian left-fascism, a model for the nation? 1

The “Democrats” – which is to say Left fascists – who govern the state of California and most of its cities, see nothing wrong with the results of their policies. They like what they’ve wrought. They plan more of the same, and even to intensify their endeavors to create one vast plague-ridden criminal’s playground.

In pursuit of which, they have recently welcomed among them the son of two imprisoned terrorists, himself a devotee of their political faith.

Chesa Boudin has been elected District Attorney of San Francisco. When he was little more than a year old, his parents, both of them  members of the Weather Underground terrorist group, were found guilty of killing two police officers and a security guard in a robbery attack on an armored car in upstate New York. His mother, Kathy Boudin, served 22 years in prison, but was released when President Clinton pardoned her on his last day in office. His father, David Gilbert, is still serving a life sentence. Chesa was taken care of by the leaders of the Weather Underground: Bill Ayers and his wife Bernadine Dohrn (close friends of Barack Obama). As the child and foster-child of red revolutionary murderers, Chesa was warmly welcomed into Yale Law School. He went to work as a translator for Hugo Chavez, president of Venezuela.

His winning policies include keeping as many black felons out of prison as he possibly can, and protecting illegal immigrants undocumented residents from deportation.

Why do we call the Far Left rulers of California fascists?

An article by Edward Ring at American Greatness explains:

Law and Order: … Thanks to Proposition 47, the Reduced Penalties for Some Crimes Initiative which voters approved in 2014, it is nearly impossible to arrest and hold anyone for possession of hard drugs, so long as they claim the drugs are for personal use. Prop. 47 also downgraded the punishment for property crimes if the value of the stolen goods are under $950 per offense.

The consequence of these laws is public drug use and rampant theft to support these drug habits. Other ridiculous laws include Assembly Bill 953, the Racial and Identity Profiling Act (2015), which requires police to fill out an extensive questionnaire after every encounter with a member of the public, even if it doesn’t result in an arrest. The purpose of this is to prevent disproportionate encounters with members of disadvantaged groups, and the consequence of it is fewer stops, fewer arrests, and more crime.

Environment: It’s hard to know where to begin when it comes to environmentalist extremism that tyrannizes ordinary Californians. At the heart of California’s central planning state is AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act (2006), and follow-on legislation. These laws aim to reduce California’s net “greenhouse gas” emissions to zero by 2045.

To accomplish this, it is becoming almost impossible to develop land outside of existing cities, which is driving the price of land and housing to unaffordable levels. Next on the “climate change” agenda is to charge Californians for “vehicle miles traveled”, wherein everywhere people go in their cars will be monitored and taxed.

Well before AB 32 came along, though, California had already gone overboard with environmentalism. The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), passed by the state legislature in 1971 and turned into the monster it is today via numerous follow on legislation, requires environmental impact reports to accompany any building permit. Since a separate report is required for every permit application, and since major building projects require approval from dozens of agencies, in California the costs to file applications and pay fees often exceed the actual cost of construction.

Then there’s forestry management, taken over by environmentalist zealots who prohibited logging, suppressed controlled burns with byzantine application gauntlets and endless litigation, and turned California’s forests into tinderboxes.

Energy and Water: Californians pay among the highest prices for gasoline, electricity and natural gas in the United States, despite the fact that California has abundant reserves of oil and gas.

But instead of approving new refineries, more connecting pipelines, oil and gas drilling, and clean natural gas power plants, California’s policymakers are shutting down conventional energy in favor of “renewables”. Even clean, emissions-free nuclear power is forbidden, as California’s last nuclear power plant, Diablo Canyon, is scheduled to be shut down by 2025.

Not only does this leave Californians without affordable energy, as they’re herded to the nearest retailer to purchase “demand response” appliances that don’t work very well, but utilities investing in renewables don’t have money left over to upgrade their power lines to better manage wildfires.

As for water, instead of storing more storm runoff behind dams and within aquifers, and investing in reuse and desalination, California has turned to rationing. Starting in 2020, Californians will be restricted to 55 gallons of indoor water use per person per day, with that amount being lowered in subsequent years.

Transportation: Freeways in California are among the most congested in the nation, but instead of widening roads and building new freeways, California’s policymakers have declared war on the car. Never mind that cars are the future of transportation, destined to be entirely clean, autonomous, capable of driving safely at high speeds while their occupants work, sleep, or entertain themselves.

Instead, California’s political leadership remains committed to a high-speed train that will never pay for itself, light rail when light rail ridership is in decline, and zoning that will make it impossible for people to park their cars where they live. California’s transportation policy is misanthropic and misguided. Meanwhile, ordinary Californians cope with super commutes on neglected roads.

Housing: Despite the fact that most young married couples, given a choice, would prefer to raise their children in a single-family home with a yard, California’s elite has decided that single-family homes and suburbs are “unsustainable”. Never mind that California spans over 160,000 square miles, of which only around 5 percent is urbanized.

Californians instead are expected to construct all new housing via high density “infill”, where there is minimal open space, parking is unavailable, and prices are sky-high thanks to the artificially created shortage.

Again, the costs to prepare permit applications and pay fees often exceed the construction costs, notwithstanding the fact that high rise and mid-rise construction always costs far more per square foot than what it costs to construct one or two-story wood-frame homes.

Homeless: In a state where you can’t build anything without paying fees that cost more than the construction costs, and where utility bills and other hidden taxes make the cost-of-living the highest in the nation, it should be no surprise that California has a homeless crisis.

Add to that the best weather on earth, and laws that permit public consumption of hard drugs and prevent detention of petty thieves, and you have a recipe for a homeless population explosion. Moreover, court rulings make it impossible to remove homeless encampments unless you can offer them “permanent supportive housing”, and rampant (totally legal) public sector and nonprofit corruption have driven the costs for such housing to exceed on average $500,000 per unit.

To top it off, state laws make it, for all practical purposes, impossible to incarcerate the mentally ill. If these laws and court settlements were overturned, overnight, half of California’s homeless would find shelter with relatives and friends, and the rest would get cost-effective help. But it’s a meal ticket for the corrupt public sector.

Education: To save the worst for last, this is perhaps the most unforgivable sin of all in California. Instead of teaching children to read and write, the public schools excel at indoctrination. Instead of being held accountable, incompetent teachers are protected by union labor laws. Disruptive students are kept in classes to fulfill quotas designed to prevent “discrimination”.

The University of California, which—under threat of lawsuits—is about to abandon using SAT scores entirely, has already engineered its admissions policies to circumvent state and federal prohibitions on affirmative action. From higher education down through the K-12 public schools, leftist propaganda and identity politics are the goal of California’s unionized public education system, instead of teaching children the skills they will need to become more productive graduates.

The last section of the article  is headed A Soft Fascism:

This is the future that awaits America. It is a future abetted by a complicit media, an activist entertainment industry, a unionized public bureaucracy and public education system, and nearly every significant corporate and financial player. The political model it embraces is often labeled as socialist, but might more accurately be described as economic fascism—a merging of public and private, a partnership of corporations, oligarchs, and the public sector.

While people typically cringe at the use of the term “fascist,” the fascism we’re seeing in California is … a soft fascism as envisioned by Aldous Huxley in his novel Brave New World. California’s citizens are being channeled into high-density apartments, forced to use mass transit, and increasingly made dependent on government subsidies, in exchange for the illusory freedoms of legal drugs and anything-goes gender exploration. …

This 21st-century fascism being pioneered in California touts itself as “anti-fascist” at every opportunity, but the system nonetheless fits the definition of fascism. It is corporate, collectivist, centralized, and autocratic. With an equally unhealthy and excessive fervor, it exalts the planet instead of the nation, and celebrates “diversity” instead of one culture. It punishes dissent, protects the oligarchy, and deludes the overtaxed, over-regulated, overpaying majority.

The state could be saved if this sensible advice were to be taken (which it will not be, of course, as long as the Democrats are in unrestrained, almost unchallenged power – and to that there is no foreseeable end):

Enforce common sense drug laws and punish thieves. Quit using environmentalism as a punitive religious faith and start logging the forests, building roads, drilling for oil and gas, and approving nuclear power plants instead of shutting them down. Stop extorting more money in permitting costs than it costs to construct homes, and start building them again on open land. Get vagrants off the streets, build cost-effective shelter for the truly needy, and put the mentally ill back into institutions. Fire incompetent teachers and hold our students to immutable, objective academic standards instead of filling their heads with divisive nonsense.

And let water flow amply to farms and houses.

And keep felons of all ethnicities in prison for their full term, and deport illegal aliens.

Americans would do well to look to California today, and whatever they’re doing, do the opposite. Before it’s too late.

Posted under Fascism, Leftism, United States by Jillian Becker on Friday, November 15, 2019

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