Saturday, March 23, 2019

Believe it or not, Marinwood CSD is far worse than Seattle.

Why I invented Titania McGrath

Why I invented Titania McGrath

spiked columnist Andrew Doyle on his infamous woke Twitter character.
Andrew Doyle


Last April, I decided to set up a satirical account on Twitter under the guise of radical intersectionalist poet Titania McGrath. She’s a po-faced young activist who, in spite of her immense privilege, is convinced that she is oppressed. She’s not a direct parody of an existing individual, but anyone who regularly reads opinion columns in the Guardian will be familiar with the type. Given that such individuals are seemingly impervious to reason, and would rather cry ‘bigot’ than engage in serious debate, satire seemed to be the only option. 
The obsession with victimhood from predominantly bourgeois political commentators is something I have always found inherently funny. It’s a phenomenon that has been amplified to a great extent by social media. This extremely vocal minority of activists enjoy pontificating to the masses from their online lectern, berating those who fall short of their moral expectations, and endlessly trawling through old tweets in the hope of discovering a misjudged phrase or sentiment that could justify a campaign of public shaming. In their eyes, there is no possibility of redemption. The most vicious remarks you’ll find on social media come from the racist far right and woke intersectionalists. They are two heads of the same chimera. 
American physicist Steven Weinberg famously remarked that ‘with or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil – that takes religion’. It makes sense, then, to think of the social-justice movement as a kind of cult. Its members are generally decent people with good intentions. They have an unshakeable certainty that their worldview is correct. They feel the need to proselytise and convert as many of the fallen as possible. And even though they are capable of the most horrendous dehumanising behaviour, they think they are the good guys. 
We are in this position because identity politics in its current form is a collectivist ideology. It does not value an individual for the content of his or her character, but instead makes prejudicial assessments on the basis of race, gender and sexuality. In the name of anti-racism, identity politics has rehabilitated racial thinking. This explains why an affluent and privileged person like Munroe Bergdorf can be invited on to national television to proclaim that ‘the white race is the most violent and oppressive force of nature on Earth’. How is well-intentioned racism even a thing?
A similar regression has occurred within the feminist movement. Fourth-wave feminism is predominantly victim-centred, and is based on the conviction that women are invariably oppressed and require the protection of authority figures. When the BBC promoted a smartphone app to help women speak up in meetings, it was merely toeing the standard feminist line on the intrinsic fragility of women. So we are left with the curious phenomenon of good people who are opposed to misogyny subscribing to an essentially misogynistic perspective. 
Titania was an attempt to highlight the inescapable hypocrisies of such a mindset. I was inspired by the brilliant work of the satirist Lisa Graves, who was one half of the Twitter persona Godfrey Elfwick. Although often accused of ‘punching down’ at vulnerable minorities, the actual target of Elfwick’s satire was the woke establishment. It was inevitable that he should be banned by Twitter, because those in power cannot tolerate being ridiculed. 
The problem is compounded because identitarians on both the right and the left typically believe themselves to be the underdogs, and are fuelled by a sense of grievance. In spite of the fact that we have a right-wing government, we should be in no doubt that woke politics is culturally dominant. I have previously argued that the notion of political correctness – a broadly agreed social contract that recognises that overt racism, sexism and homophobia are uncivil – is a laudable concept. Woke ideology has little to do with political correctness. It is about narrowing the Overton window, seeking out heretical opinions, and brutally punishing those who dare to think for themselves. 
WH Auden put it well when he said: ‘Satire is angry and optimistic. It believes that the evil it attacks can be abolished. Comedy is good-tempered and pessimistic; it believes that however much we may wish we could, we cannot change human nature and must make the best of a bad job.’ There is an optimism behind Titania, because I am convinced that we can and should challenge the dominant orthodoxies that generate so much resentment among normal people, sick of being hectored by paternalistic moralists who claim the power to divine their secret thoughts. When Alex Clark in the Guardian described Titania as a ‘speedy cash-in’, she encapsulated perfectly one of Titania’s chief failings: she routinely intuits the motives of her ideological opponents, and frames her speculations as fact. She knows you are an evil fascist, even if you don’t know it yourself.
It is hardly surprising that the most indignant responses to Titania have come from those within the cult of social justice. A quick search on Twitter will reveal a number of people who are busy proclaiming their indifference to my work by constantly tweeting about it. They are of course entitled to hate the character, to claim they have a telepathic insight into my motivations, and, above all, to find it desperately unfunny. I tend to have a similar reaction when I am being mocked, although I like to think I’m not so entitled as to believe that my particular sense of humour is definitive. Then again, as Titania points out, ‘If you find yourself laughing at comedy, it’s probably not sufficiently progressive’. 
Andrew Doyle is a stand-up comedian and spikedcolumnist. 
Woke: A Guide to Social Justice , by Titania McGrath, is published by Constable. (Buy this book from Amazon(UK).)

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Why Long Lines at Motor Vehicle Departments Never Disappear

Why Long Lines at Motor Vehicle Departments Never Disappear

When millennials stand in MVA lines, do they wonder what their experience will be when the government takes a more significant role in their lives?
The first time I stood in a long line at the Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) in suburban Baltimore was 1979. Since then, much has happened in my life: I taught thousands of students, got married, raised a family, and moved away from Baltimore. Recently, my son, living in the Baltimore area, needed help with the subtleties of car buying, and I went to assist.
In a free market, consumers shape their experience by selecting products that serve them well, not offering or accepting bribes.

Compared to today, cars manufactured in 1979 were unsafe and unreliable. My ‘79 Volkswagen Rabbit developed a head gasket problem in the first 15,000 miles, but warranties in 1979 covered only one year or 12,000 miles. There were no airbags. Today, car manufacturers compete on safety; collision avoidance features, unimagined in 1979, shaped my son’s car choice.
The car-buying experience has completely changed, too. In 1979, buyers had limited information and often endured unpleasant negotiations with salesmen. Increased competition due to the ascendance of Japanese automobiles and a dramatic increase in information available to car buyers have made it simpler to get a great deal on a car without even setting foot in a showroom.
After completing the new car purchase, we drove to the MVA to turn in my son's old plates. The address had changed, but the bleak Soviet-style interior remained intact. Just as in 1979, one line almost out the door snaked toward a check-in counter. When you made it to the counter, you then sat in one of the long rows of chairs until it was your turn.
Like Soviet-era bread lines, you got in line, waited, and hoped for a favorable outcome.

There were few signs. No attendants were there to answer questions. Like Soviet-era bread lines, you got in line, waited, and hoped for a favorable outcome.
My son was anxious to return to his job and insisted we leave. His plan was to return the next day to get in line an hour before the MVA opened at 8:30 a.m. Well before 8:30, many supermarkets and home improvement stores are open to accommodate early shoppers, but MVA managers set hours without having to meet the demands of customers.
As my son stood in the early morning cold, he chatted with others. Some shared stories of previous attempts to obtain MVA services, having abandoned their positions in line after waiting for hours. One told of a three-hour wait. They are lucky; in California, all-day waits are not uncommon.
Support for socialism among millennials and Generation Z is on the rise. When millennials stand in MVA lines, do they wonder what their experience will be when the government takes a more significant role in their lives?
Dreaming of a revolutionary republic, do the millennials who support democratic socialists imagine they will be proclaimed heroes of the republic and ushered to the head of the breadline? Or, like their hero Bernie Sanders, do they believe that breadlines are a “good thing”? Will they feel true equality when, along with their neighbors, they share the heartache of not getting enough food to feed their starving children?
If the democratic socialists are successful, long lines, shortages, and bribes will become the new norm in America.

In short, why are some craving the MVA experience in more areas of their lives? Why do they not heed historical evidence of failed socialists’ regimes? Do they believe the next time it will be different? Do they believe the lines will disappear when the right people, with pure hearts like they imagine themselves to have, are in charge?
It’s fine to imagine the right people working at the MVA, but even the right people cannot create an efficient MVA.
Democratic socialists such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez imagine a better world where decision-makers are not constrained by having to earn a profit. In his book Bureaucracy, Ludwig von Mises explains why decision makers can never make good decisions when they operate without the market signals of profit and loss:
It is true that under socialism there would be neither discernible profits nor discernible losses. Where there is no calculation, there is no means of getting an answer to the question whether the projects planned or carried out were those best fitted to satisfy the most urgent needs; success and failure remain unrecognized in the dark. The advocates of socialism are badly mistaken in considering the absence of discernible profit and loss an excellent point. It is, on the contrary, the essential vice of any socialist management. It is not an advantage to be ignorant of whether or not what one is doing is a suitable means of attaining the ends sought. A socialist management would be like a man forced to spend his life blindfolded.
The personnel at the Maryland MVA seemed indifferent; moving the line along did not seem to be part of their decision-making calculus. If supervisory personnel were on duty, they didn’t pitch in; they remained hidden in their back offices. In each of us is the capacity for empathy, as well as indifference and even cruelty. What makes one individual access the best qualities that humanity can offer while those qualities lay dormant in another individual?
At your local supermarket, if lines get too long, it is not uncommon to hear the “all personnel to the front” announcement. There is a palpable sense of urgency to serve customers. Mises explains that in successful organizations, managers understand consumer sovereignty:
[The manager] is not simply a hired clerk whose only duty is the conscientious accomplishment of an assigned, definite task. He is a businessman himself, a junior partner as it were of the entrepreneur, no matter what the contractual and financial terms of his employment are. He must to the best of his abilities contribute to the success of the firm with which he is connected.
Consider a buyer for the supermarket who often listens to the pitches of potential suppliers. Suppliers don’t offer her bribes; they know to offer her features valued by her customers. Does she set standards for customer experience and accept poor performance from her assistants? Again, Mises explains why the buyer’s decisions must respond to the needs of customers:
He will not waste money in the purchase of products and services. He will not hire incompetent assistants and workers; he will not discharge able collaborators in order to replace them by incompetent personal friends or relatives. His conduct is subject to the incorruptible judgment of an unbribable tribunal: the account of profit and loss. In business there is only one thing that matters: success. The unsuccessful department manager is doomed no matter whether the failure was caused by him or not, or whether it would have been possible for him to attain a more satisfactory result. An unprofitable branch of business-sooner or later-must be discontinued, and its manager loses his job.
The MVA manager is under no such constraints. Why try to fire an incompetent civil service employee when you’d be subjecting yourself to endless hearings? Why argue to open earlier and close later to accommodate customers when you’d be told: “That’s not the way it’s done here”?
“Consumers are merciless” when they are not well served, but only “in an unhampered market society,” writes Mises. At the MVA, those who wait suffer silently and follow the directives of those who care little about their welfare.
During my teaching career, I taught MBA classes on-site at a government agency. Many of those career employees were impressive. They held high-level positions; they were brilliant thinkers and dedicated learners. Yet, among these relatively young individuals was a running joke; they could recite exactly how many years and months they had until retirement. And to a person, they did retire at the earliest possible date. These individuals had far more autonomy than the government workers Mises wrote about in 1944. Nonetheless, core truths apparently remain:
Government jobs offer no opportunity for the display of personal talents and gifts. Regimentation spells the doom of initiative. The young man has no illusions about his future. He knows what is in store for him. He will get a job with one of the innumerable bureaus, he will be but a cog in a huge machine the working of which is more or less mechanical. The routine of a bureaucratic technique will cripple his mind and tie his hands. He will enjoy security. But this security will be rather of the kind that the convict enjoys within the prison walls. He will never be free to make decisions and to shape his own fate. He will forever be a man taken care of by other people. He will never be a real man relying on his own strength. He shudders at the sight of the huge office buildings in which he will bury himself.
How you do anything is how you do everything. In never learning to care for customers at the MVA, employees never learn to rely on their own best qualities. Because their own abilities and sensibilities lie dormant, they don’t know they are suffering along with those they “serve.”
In a free market, consumers shape their experience by selecting products that serve them well. In the Soviet Union and other socialist countries, citizens shaped their experience by offering or accepting bribes.
Next time it won’t be different. If the democratic socialists are successful in shifting more of the economy into government provision of services, long lines, shortages, and bribes will become the new norm in America.

LA Tenants Union Take on YIMBYism

Dropping the Hammer on YIMBYism

LA Tenants UnionFollow
Mar 19

This statement is from a group of organizers associated with the LA Tenants Union, DSA-LA, and/or the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project, in response to an event hosted by the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles on March 19, 2019 titled “The Growing YIMBY Movement.” We also organized a protest inside/outside of the event.

As Angelenos committed to housing as a human right, we are disappointed that the Hammer Museum would provide a fawning and uncritical platform to Sonja Trauss and other spokespeople of YIMBYism. It is not simply that we disagree with their ideology, or recognize it as an astroturf campaign; YIMBYs undermine the true movement for housing justice and tenant power.

“Yes In My BackYard” advocates a deregulatory, trickle-down framework for housing policy that does more harm than good. The thread uniting YIMBYs is that we should just “build baby build” to solve our housing crisis, despite abundant evidence — including studies by MIT academics and the Federal reserve, in addition to historical evidence from cities that have pursued this approach — showing that merely adding market-rate supply does not lead to lower housing prices, but rather spurs gentrification and displacement. By empowering the real estate industry, which has long served as a vanguard of structural racism and segregation, YIMBY policies hasten the construction of cities only accessible to the rich.

YIMBYs view the nightmares of housing and homelessness as a matter of supply and demand, ignoring the basic human right to shelter. Indeed, what they don’t fight for speaks volumes. YIMBYs do not support communities of color that have been fighting a permanent housing crisis for decades. YIMBYs do not support empowering and protecting tenants through policies like right to legal council, just-cause eviction, and rent control. They overwhelmingly ignore the possibility of increasing supply with public or social housing. They do not support redistributions of power and wealth. Fundamentally, they are not on the side of the working class and people of color, and they are not guided by a commitment to housing as a human right.

They have also been notably quiet on the subject of vacancy and speculation. They continue to ignore that there are 100,000 vacant homes in San Francisco and 268,000 vacant homes across the L.A. metro area. These staggering numbers can only fail to be relevant to those who are steadfastly committed to housing as a profit-making commodity.

Their deference to the free market is why someone like Ben Carson, Secretary of HUD in the Trump Administration, feels comfortable enthusiastically declaring himself a YIMBY.

With advocates in the Trump White House, the Governor’s Office, and the chair of California State Senate’s Housing Committee, the YIMBYs are not at all a “grassroots movement,” as the Hammer event ridiculously describes them. From the beginning, YIMBYs have benefitted from robust funding from the tech and real estate sectors. In 2015 Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman helped get YIMBYism off the ground with a $100,000 donation to a Sonja Strauss-led group. According to a more recent investigation by In These Times, among the YIMBY PACs that disclose their donors, over half their money comes from employees of tech or real estate firms.

Indeed, last March, the LA Times wrote that “California YIMBY has raised more than $1 million and has a registered lobbyist on its payroll. The group hopes to collect another $1.5 million this year, Hanlon says. He estimates that about 90% of the money has come from technology executives.” This was reported before a $1 million donation from the tech company Stripe.

Despite occasional claims to the contrary, YIMBYs do not support the burgeoning tenants movement, and do not take the problems of gentrification seriously. Last year the YIMBYs relentlessly pushed the upzoning bill SB 827 in the face of vehement statewide opposition from tenants groups and anti-gentrification organizations rooted in communities of color that were arguing the bill would intensify displacement. This year, they are again allying with anti-tenant groups like the California Apartment Association (the landlord lobby who have been leading the fight against rent control in California for years) and various Chambers of Commerce to push essentially the same bill.

Prop 10 is another good example. This was a massive priority for tenants and the biggest push for an expansion of rent control in California in decades, yet the YIMBYs were nowhere to be found. Instead, they ignore or downplay the need for tenant protections with their laser-like focus on increasing market-rate supply.

Sonja Trauss, the invited speaker to this event, has gone out of her way to represent the most nefarious qualities of the aggressively anti-poor, anti-immigrant, and anti-POC mindset of YIMBYism. She has claimed that gentrification is actually a net good for urban land equity because it’s “the revaluation of black land to its correct price.” She has also cited Edward Banfield, who popularized racist ideas like culture-of-poverty theory and broken-windows policing, as a “huge influence.” Even worse, Trauss has has compared Latinx anti-gentrification activists fighting to block luxury development in their neighborhoods to Trump supporters who demonize immigrants.

YIMBYs often claim that all opposing them are reactionary NIMBYs opposed to low-income housing and diversity. This framing forecloses and ignores — intentionally, we think — ideas from the volunteer-run, tenant-led housing movements who are often their critics. We support more housing, as long as it’s affordable for the poor and the working class. We want social housing for all, whether owned by the state or by communities. We thus call ourselves PHIMBYs, advocating “Public Housing In My BackYard.”

YIMBYism is a dangerous ideology that is funded by the powerful to serve the powerful. We, as advocates for tenants (not housing units), for the human rights of working, poor, and people of color, must push back and provide alternatives to their narrow views. We hope this statement and our action does so, and invite you to join us.

Who is the REAL race provocateur?

The more I think about it, the more it appears this march was an attempt to deliberately provoke a response at a community celebration of our Little League kids. Noah Griffin is very media savvy, having served Nancy Pelosi and other politicians. He knows the power of visual imagery. The desired effect didn’t happen though when people ignored them except for a few passing motorists. The news media must have been disappointed. There are no gangs of racists defending the Dixie name. The ONLY time I have seen a confederate flag in Marin is when Noah Griffin held one up for this photo for the Marin IJ and other news media.
Who is the REAL race provocateur? Have the Change the Name folks considered how trashing our neighborhood in the eyes of the world, actually CREATES the hostile environment that they claim to be against? I want to change the name of the district too but we must not allow the hateful rhetoric destroy our community.

Why is Noah Griffin wearing a white turtleneck that looks like a cleric's collar?  I don't think he is a member of the clergy.  Pure showmanship.