Friday, June 26, 2015

When Big Brother becomes an unnatural threat to society


When an industry succeeds in taking over the legislative and/or regulatory process concerning itself, so that laws and regulations are designed to protect the incumbent 'powers that be' in that industry rather than the public interest, we call that 'regulatory capture'.  It's (rightly) regarded as a form of corruption.  What if a political, social and economic philosophy does the same thing, taking over the bureaucratic, regulatory and administrative side of government so completely as to be able to impose its partisan agenda by riding roughshod over the wishes of those who don't agree with it?

We've seen that with the IRS, which is under fire for (but which hasn't stopped) 'investigating' political opponents (individual and corporate) of the present Administration, using its powers to impede their lawful, legitimate activities.  We're seeing it again with the Department of Housing and Urban Development.  The New York Post reports:

President Obama’s Department of Housing and Urban Development is accusing expensive towns of racism, simply because most minorities can’t afford to live there.

. . .

HUD’s soon-to-be-released regulation, in the works since 2013, will compel affluent suburbs across the nation to build more high-density, low-income housing, plus sewers, water lines, bus routes and other changes needed to support it.

Obama’s social engineers will eliminate local zoning requirements to achieve what the HUD rule calls “inclusive communities.” Property values be damned.

If you’ve worked hard to afford a home in an affluent neighborhood of single-family houses, you have a lot to lose under this HUD plan.

The HUD rule twists the original and laudable intent of the Fair Housing Act of 1968, which is to bar housing discrimination.

The new rule states towns must “affirmatively further” diversity. If low-income minorities want to move to a town but can’t afford it, the town must “provide adequate support to make their choice viable.”

. . .

HUD’s plan is frightening. Phase one will collect data on poverty, school-testing scores and public-transit sites from every Census division to spot towns that have too few poor residents.

If a town’s guilty, HUD will charge racism and demand more public housing.

Race is being cynically exploited by officials as a pretext to accomplish something else entirely — economic integration.

HUD’s plan is a power grab. Nothing in the Constitution empowers the federal government to do this.

Zoning is a local power.

There's more at the link.

There's nothing wrong with HUD encouraging towns and cities to provide more low-cost or subsidized housing for poorer families.  What's wrong is when HUD uses its powers to forcibly integrate different income and social levels into a 'homogenized' society.  That's never worked anywhere in the world - unless you count an elevated level of social misery as evidence of success.  Just look at the tenements of the Soviet Union or Eastern Europe.  Everyone was reduced to a lowest common denominator of misery, not raised to a highest common factor of success and achievement.  That's what bureaucracy always does.  It's the nature of the beast.

This is also allied to utterly ridiculous, politicized ideologies of poverty.  We've examined that in these pages before - but the US is not alone in such folly.  Just this week, the Telegraph reported in England:

The current rules, originally dreamt up by Left-wing academics in the Sixties, state that somebody is poor if they live in a household on below 60pc of median earnings, regardless of their actual quality of life or access to essentials.

But this measures income inequality, not poverty. Under that definition, poverty can never realistically be eradicated in a capitalist society. If median incomes go up by 10pc, and that of the bottom 20pc by 9pc, delivering huge improvements to the living standards of everybody in the country, poverty would still be deemed to have gone up. It’s bonkers. “Poverty” would remain rife even if the bottom decile earned £100,000 a year, unless – or until – all top earners were taxed out of existence.

It gets worse. As David Cameron pointed out this week, hiking the state pension under current conditions automatically increases reported child poverty, even if no child has actually lost access to any income and some receive greater help from grandparents. In fact, poverty supposedly went down during the recession – because rich bankers lost their jobs or saw their bonuses cut, which reduced inequality. Any measure of poverty that goes down in depressions and explodes in booms is an insult to the public’s intelligence and should be scrapped.

. . .

We are trapped by a metric that has been deliberately rigged to ensure a socialistic bias in public policy, to extend welfare dependency and to make it harder to cut public spending. Worse, Gordon Brown made it legally binding for the government to slash child poverty on this warped definition by 2020. The only way this can be achieved is by endlessly increasing tax credits to push as many as possible above the critical 60 per cent threshold. Unless the rules are torn up soon, George Osborne’s welfare cuts could be ruled illegal.

It’s a trick that the Left is brilliant at: redefining words and corrupting their meaning to fix the debate. Inequality becomes poverty, wasteful public spending is rebranded as investment and calls for a dramatically higher minimum wage are presented as a common-sense suggestion for a “living wage”.

. . .

Ever since Karl Marx, the Left has been obsessively materialistic. Yet there is far more to poverty than just money; being deprived of social capital during one’s childhood is even more important than suffering from too little financial capital. Family structures and educational opportunities are crucial, as is security and stability.

Again, more at the link.

The Telegraph's observation bears repeating.  Inequality is not poverty.  Furthermore, equality does not consist of, and cannot be measured against, economic factors alone.  What the framers of our Constitution sought was equality of opportunity.  What the progressive left seeks is equality of outcomes - and they'll impose that on us by legislative fiat if they can, regardless of its (lack of) truth and the failure of every society in history to accomplish anything of the sort by direction.

It's a frightening prospect to consider how much damage social justice warriors can do at the helm of every administrative department in the government.  That's yet another reason to reduce the size of that government to the necessary minimum, and ensure that its bureaucrats are aware that they serve in accordance with the Constitution and are subordinate to its requirements.  They don't have the authority, or the right, to ignore it and/or reinterpret it according to their whims.

Peter

7 comments:

Quentin said...

I remember an old Judge Dredd comic strip that dealt with this where an entrepreneur had built an orbital habitat for his rich clients and had the indigent foisted on him.

Mad Jack said...

Furthermore, equality does not consist of, and cannot be measured against, economic factors alone.
Which is true, with the emphasis on economic factors alone. The trouble is that any individual's success is most often measured by his wealth. There are very few famous or successful people who have not accumulated an amount of wealth along the way. What the SJWs often propose to do is confiscate a significant portion of that wealth and give it to those people, who, in their crossed eyes, have been discriminated against by the wealthy class and so are suffering from inequality. If this sounds a bit convoluted, it's because it isn't easy to think like a crazy person.

What the framers of our Constitution sought was equality of opportunity.
True enough, but think about their point of origin. They lived in a society that was repressive at best, where someone who was intelligent, hard working or talented was prevented by the government and society from rising above their station in life. Coincidentally, this meant becoming wealthy.

What the progressive left seeks is equality of outcomes - and they'll impose that on us by legislative fiat if they can, regardless of its (lack of) truth and the failure of every society in history to accomplish anything of the sort by direction.

I have two questions here. I believe your statement to be accurate, but I'm wondering about the term 'equality'. To define equality, you must be measure one thing against another, and to do so requires a measuring stick of some sort; a yardstick. What are the SJWs using for comparison, and what yardstick are they applying?

My second question deals with history. If there are no societies in history that have accomplished this 'equality of outcomes' by direction, are there any that were successful under any circumstances, direction or no?

This is a good read, by the way.

C. S. P. Schofield said...

What the Left desperately wants to avoid admitting is that, by historical and to some extend modern international standards, nobody in America who isn't on the streets is poor. Just as they have moved full bore into hype about the "Obesity Epidemic" (how can you have an epidemic of a non-communicable non-disease?) rather than look at "Hey! Our poor are FAT!".

Peter B said...

And, thanks to SCOTUS, it's about to get worse:

Under today’s 5-4 Supreme Court holding in Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project, you can be held liable for housing discrimination whether or not you or anyone in your organization intended to discriminate. Instead — to quote Justice Anthony Kennedy, who joined with the Court’s four liberals in a 5-4 majority — you might have been influenced by “unconscious prejudice” or “stereotyping” when you lent money or rented apartments or carried on appraisal or brokerage or planning functions. What you did had “disparate impact” on some race or other legally protected group, and now you’re caught up in potentially ruinous litigation in which it’s up to you to show that you had a good reason for what you did and could not have arranged your actions in some other way that had less disparate impact.

The decision is quite broad in its implications. For example, in employment discrimination law, where disparate impact has long been legally established, it is increasingly legally dangerous to ask job applicants about criminal records, or carry out criminal background checks on them before a job offer, for fear of disparate impact. Is it still safe to ask such questions of prospective tenants in your apartment building? Better ask your lawyer.


Read more at http://spectator.org/blog/63263/scotus-okays-liability-unintentional-housing-discrimination

Clinton Johnson said...

Watch the documentary "Food Inc." - This is just another aspect...

Coconut said...

I want to live a millionaire's lifestyle; someone should give me money to affirm my life choices and make my desire possible.

Les said...

HUD has been very successful in placing a crackhouse in every neighborhood. After Katrina, the Feds placed drug dealers even in gated communities. Then a federal task force comes in to fight drug trafficing. The whole thing destroyed quite a few neighborhoods. We didn't and don't live in a gated community, but when our neighbors divorced, the bank got the house. The new owner rented it to HUD. We had a few neighbors who were there because they were down on their luck, but mostly they were professional moochers. Selling drugs is very multi-cultural, all races lined up on our street to buy. Usually the house has five or six women and a couple of men. The HUD client is usually one of the women. When one or more are finally arrested for drug dealing and the client is kicked out, they go to another HUD house in one of the other women's names. In our case, the owner tired of rebuilding the house to federal standards between clients, and leased it to a relative, who was a decent hardworking sort.
Under current social standards, and due to federal activism, if you are in the know it is probably easeir to buy crack or meth in any given neighborhood than finding Sir Walter Raleigh pipe tobacco anywhere.