Open Thread and Link Farm: Primitive and Unscientific Edition

odeith-mural

  1. Trumpcare will probably kill thousands. That’s neither uncivil nor alarmist to say.
  2. Better Suggestions for Democrats who want to Win Elections | Noah Berlatsky on Patreon
    And see also Noah’s followup post, Love the One You’re With.
  3. AP Analysis: Gerrymandering gave Republicans advantage in House, state elections
  4. Democrats are still obsessed with Jill Stein. They should start obsessing over nonvoters instead.
  5. KING: 2 Supreme Court rulings must change to end police brutality – NY Daily News
    “As long Tennessee v. Garner and Graham v. Connor stand as law, police brutality will be protected. That’s the bottom line.”
  6. Prosecutors are the ones most able to hold cops accountable.
    Which makes it a shame that they have so little motivation to ever hold cops accountable.
  7. A liberal think tank just released its own proposal to fix Obamacare – Vox
  8. Jean “Moebius” Giraud on drawing from the work of other artists, from life, and from photos… – Ragged Claws Network
    Brief, but he makes really good points.
  9. Texas Couple Exonerated 25 Years After Being Convicted of Lurid Crimes That Never Happened
    It was a Satanic Panic case. So painful to read about.
  10. Bridging the Inferential Distance on Desexualization | Thing of Things
    Sexual attraction and oppression.
  11. After the president’s tweet, I must withdraw my support for everything but his agenda – The Washington Post
  12. Professor fired after defending blacks-only event to Fox News. – The Washington Post
  13. The Texas Supreme Court just gave a big, fat middle finger to same-sex couples
  14. Web host agrees to pay $1m after it’s hit by Linux-targeting ransomware | Ars Technica
  15. Fresh trans myths of 2017: “rapid onset gender dysphoria”
  16. Here are all the ways Jeff Sessions is wrong about drug sentencing – The Washington Post
    And here’s an alternative link.
  17. California Single-Payer Organizers Are Deceiving Their Supporters. It’s Time to Stop.
    According to this article, the CA legislature literally cannot enact single payer, because of the stupid ways the CA tax laws are set up. It would require a ballot measure.
  18. Watch this person makes a pancake that looks like a human skull – YouTube
  19. You Say You Want a Single-Payer System: The Canada Health Act
    A brief nutshelling of the principles behind the Canadian health care system.
  20. Julia Serano, Transfeminist Thinker, Talks Trans-Misogyny – The New York Times
  21. Debunking “Trans Women Are Not Women” Arguments – Julia Serano – Medium
  22. Fareed Zakaria Says Blaming Immigrants Is the one Thing Right Wing Populists Share – The Atlantic
  23. Data on Campus Censorship Cases | Thing of Things
    “I’d strongly advise against drawing any conclusion from it firmer than ‘censorship of both liberals and conservatives occurs on college campuses, and conservatives probably face more.'”
  24. (13) Billy Joel – We Didn’t Start The Fire (Historically Accurate Almanac) COMPLETE – YouTube
    A fan video to Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start The Fire,” with historic footage provided for each of Joel’s over 100 references. Weirdly fascinating.
  25. BREAKING: Tom Price promises to provide healthcare to millions of undocumented immigrants!* | ACASignups.net
    A Trump official is counting undocumented aliens as Americans who Obamacare failed to cover. I agree, I’d love to see them covered.
  26. Anita Sarkeesian’s astounding ‘garbage human’ moment – Polygon
  27. Muralist Odeith Crafts Engrossing Illusions | Hi-Fructose Magazine
    That’s one of his works at the top of this post.
  28. A top scientist was asked to downplay facts by EPA chief of staff. | Grist
  29. Survey: Just 5 percent of economists believe Trump’s big tax promise – The Washington Post
    That promise – that tax cuts pay for themselves – is not a Trumpism, but something accepted as true (at least in public) by virtually all high Republican officials.
  30. Health Care Premiums Have Gone Down Under Obamacare – Mother Jones
  31. The Supreme Court’s double standard for qualified immunity cases – The Washington Post
    Interesting look at a debate between Supreme Court justices.
  32. Chris Pratt Doesn’t Think Regular Americans Are Represented | The Mary Sue
    To be fair, Pratt later took his comment back.
  33. No-Platforming Only Helps The Person Being No-Platformed Spread Their Message – The Unit of Caring
    Worth reading, and I partly endorse this. But the evidence she’s talking about seems to be about violent no-platforming, not no-platforming in general.
  34. The Democratic Party: Labor’s Frenemy – Lawyers, Guns & Money : Lawyers, Guns & Money
  35. Jeff Sessions and the Odds of Imprisoning Innocents – The Atlantic
    Reforming criminal forensics is essential to reducing the number of false convictions. But Sessions wants to stop reforms.
  36. Fun with the nasal cycle
    Why we have two nostrils.
  37. Supreme Court unanimously overturns North Carolina’s ban on social-media use by sex offenders – The Washington Post
    And I unanimously agree.
  38. Are Democrats Ready to Push Medicare for All? – Rewire
  39. “Medicaid-for-all” vs. “Medicare-for-all”. – HealthCommentary
    This author argues that Medicare for all is better.
  40. Medicare-for-All vs. Single Payer: The Impact of Labels | The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation
  41. Veiled Lives? Muslim women, headscarves, and manufacturing Islam – Girl w/ Pen

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66 Responses to Open Thread and Link Farm: Primitive and Unscientific Edition

  1. 1
    Sebastian H says:

    #2 is frustrating, because he suggests that Democrats need to ignore people on the other side and non-voters, but he seems to classify white working class voters as “the other side” even though they have traditionally been a strong working class base until very recently. Obama to Trump voters would seem very reachable by Democrats–after all the voted very recently for Democrats and for a black man so their racism such as it is doesn’t seem intractable.

    Which leads to #4 which has a fact I hadn’t been thinking about:

    If these are the only variables of interest to us — the number of ballots affirmatively cast for Trump, Clinton, Stein, and maybe Johnson — then yeah, the Stein-as-spoiler argument makes some sense. But here’s another number, one that ought to change your perspective: 87,810. That’s how many Michigan voters showed up to the polls, cast ballots, and declined to vote for a presidential candidate at all.

    That compares to 49,840 such “undervotes” in 2012. It was a veritable phenomenon last year — people stood in line and performed their civic duty, but simply abstained from marking a preference for commander in chief. An analysis published by The Washington Post tallied 1.7 million undervotes in 33 states. The number was up in most states, they concluded, by an average of 2.5 times as much as in 2012.

  2. 2
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    1. Trumpcare will probably kill thousands. That’s neither uncivil nor alarmist to say.

    I would not choose the word “uncivil”, but it is a horrible semantic cheat and is accurately described as alarmist.

    It’s not OK to kill someone; fault is assumed unless you have some exception (war, self-defense, etc.) But it’s often OK to fail to prevent a death. Only if you have already determined that someone had an obligation to prevent a death is it fair to equate “lack of prevention” and “killing”.

    Using that cheat is basically an a priori argument: it assumes the whole “should we do this?” matter under debate, through a language choice.

    I have not reached a firm position on Trumpcare, but there seems to be wide agreement (from the CBO, Politifact, etc.) that the savings of Trumpcare are at least 60 billion/year (600 billion over 10 years.) If you assume the numbers cited in the linked article are correct, then 20,000 deaths/year = $3 million per theoretically preventable death.

    Should someone (us, ‘rich people’, or whoever gets the tax breaks) pay $3 million to prevent a death? Must we, in order to escape ethical liability?

    I don’t know but in any case that is a policy argument and the answer is not obviously “yes, and if we don’t then we are fairly termed to have killed people.” Because there are always more people we can save.

  3. 3
    pillsy says:

    $3 million per life saved is well under willingness-to-pay thresholds that are typically used in similar contexts.

    So yeah, we should.

  4. 4
    Kate says:

    If you assume the numbers cited in the linked article are correct, then 20,000 deaths/year = $3 million per theoretically preventable death.

    1.) Death is not the only thing that will be prevented. Many on medicaid are receiving healthcare that they need to stay healthy enough to live independently and hold down jobs. How many limbs are being saved by access to treatment for diabetes? How many people kept sane by medications for mental health conditions? How many patched up after accidents who would be perminantly disabled without medical intervention?
    2.) You are assuming that we won’t wind up paying for these things anyway. For example, roughly half of births in the U.S. are paid for by medicare medicaid. Those births are still going to happen (in fact, loss of birth control benefits mean that there will probably be even more). Unless you want to start turning uninsured women in labor away from emergency rooms, we’re going to pay for those births (in fact, lack of access to prenatal care means that more births will probably involve expensive complications).

    I believe that we should be providing medical care to all for moral reasons. But, practically, it is also cheaper for society as a whole to keep people healthy enough to work; living independly rather than in nursing homes for as long as possible; to negotiate lower drug prices (this list could go on). This is proven by every country in the world that has universal healthcare and spends less per capita on medical care than the U.S. for better results.

    [Minor correction made by Amp.]

  5. 5
    pillsy says:

    I think the ethical component of #33 is essentially correct (violently no-platforming people is bad), but remain unpersuaded by the tactical argument. What happens is that more attention is drawn to the target, and the target may or may not withstand the scrutiny. In Milo’s case, or Richard Spenser’s, well, it didn’t do either one of them a hell of a lot of good. In Murray’s case, on the other hand, it brought a lot of personal sympathy towards him (fine) and soft-pedaling of his views (gross).

    But Murray has been a prominent figure for a generation. He’s basically a known quantity. New attention is unlikely to to reveal much of that old attention didn’t.

  6. 6
    pillsy says:

    Has the piece in #33 been linked before? I just have a weird sense of deja vu about it.

  7. 7
    Kate says:

    Thanks Amp! Not many 65+ people giving birth :)

  8. 8
    Ampersand says:

    Has the piece in #33 been linked before? I just have a weird sense of deja vu about it.

    Very possibly! I try not to repeat links, but given the quantity of links and my famously poor memory, I’m sure I sometimes repeat.

  9. 9
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    Incredibly nifty website (especially the graphic) on Fourier transforms and digital processing (scroll down for graphic.) Not my field but brilliant visual presentation which significantly advanced my understanding in a short time.

    Note: linked page is towards the end, but there’s a TOC if you want to start at page 1, which you should.

  10. 10
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    A rationalist economist responds to Bryan Caplan’s Simplistic Theory of Left and Right, which is amusing for various reasons.

    Bryan Caplan’s Simplistic Theory of Left and Right says “The Left is anti-market and the Right is anti-Left”. This theory is half wrong, and will for this reason confuse the Left in particular. It ought to be a clue that if you ask the Left whether they’re anti-market, most of the Left will answer, “Of course not,” whereas if you ask the Right whether they’re anti-Left, they’ll answer “Hell yes we are.”…

  11. 11
    Kate says:

    From the post G&W linked @10

    Maybe we’d have an easier time explaining economics if we deleted every appearance of the words “price” and “wage” and substituted “supply-demand equilibrator”. A national $15/hour minimum supply-demand equilibrator sounds a bit more dangerous, doesn’t it? Increase the Earned Income Tax Credit, or better yet use hourly wage subsidies. Establish a land value tax and give the money to poor people, while being careful not to establish new paperwork requirements that exclude busy or struggling people and being careful about phaseout thresholds. Or if you really insist on looking at things in the simplest possible way, then take money away from rich people and give it to poor people. It’ll do less damage than messing with the supply-demand equilibrators.

    The problem with this is that studis of increases in the “suppliy-demand equilibrator” done over the past thirty years indicates that in the U.S., rasing minimum wages at the rates currently under consideration, does not do any damage at all.*
    The thing about the law of supply and demand is that, when an employee becomes more productive (as employees in the U.S. have over the past thirty years), s/he actually reduces the demand for his/her labor and reduces his/her wages as a result. So, we have people producing more value for their employers, and getting less compensation in return.** Yea, that seems unfair to me, and I don’t know of a market-based, non-governmental way to deal with that.

    * I’ve posted on this here before seveal times:
    Studies of the effect of minimum wage increases in the restaurant industry in states conducted by comparing counties in states which raised their minimum wage with contiguous counties in neighbouring states which did not found that “For the range of minimum wage increases over the past several decades, methodologies using local comparisons provide more reliable estimates by controlling for heterogeneity in employment growth. These estimates suggest no detectable employment losses from the kind of minimum wage increases we have seen in the United States.” p. 962 (emphasis mine).
    Studies indicate that modest rises in the minimum wage, such as those made my many states over the past 20-30 years, do not reduce the number of jobs. These studies largely rely on interstate comparisons of contiguous counties in which the minimum wage was raised in one state, but not the other. Here’s a recent review of that literature, which includes links to the actual studies: http://rortybomb.wordpress.com/2011/09/01/guest-post-minimum-wage-laws-and-the-labor-market-what-have-we-learned-since-card-and-krueger%E2%80%99s-book-myth-and-measurement/
    For a study suggesting that raising the minimum wage does have a measurable effect on reducing poverty, see:
    https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/15038936/Dube_MinimumWagesFamilyIncomes.pdf
    Minumum wage is lower, despite the fact that minimum wage workers are older and better educated:
    http://www.cepr.net/index.php/publications/reports/low-wage-workers-are-older-and-better-educated-than-ever
    If you’ve seen any actual studies (not theoretical blog posts) to refute the studies I’ve linked to over the years, I’d be interested to see them.
    **This isn’t the only thing that’s been happening. Women entering the workforce in larger numbers also really increased the supply of labor, for example.

  12. 12
    Charles S says:

    Kate’s argument is better and far more substantive, but the “supply-demand equilibrator” Econ101 argument just makes me think of frictionless vacuums.

  13. 13
    Harlequin says:

    Fourier transforms are fun, but I’ve never thought about them the way that animation shows. Interesting. Time-domain FTs are usually one-dimensional, but there are uses for 2D spatial FTs as well, particularly in optics. I was about to go on a tangent about Fresnel lenses (you can use FTs to analyze them) but, uh, apparently I already did that.

    The frictionless vacuum reminded me of this SMBC cartoon. I went looking for it, and I typed “SMBC” into Google. Since I’d just been looking around at Fourier transforms, it recommended “SMBC Fourier”, which led to this cartoon

    …which deals with ethics and economics. And that was my oddly coincidental Internet journey for the day!

  14. 14
    Eytan Zweig says:

    On a random note, #36 is based on an article written by my sister-in-law (cited as R Kahana-Zweig). Nice to bump into her work in the wild.

  15. 15
    nobody.really says:

    Ok, the secret’s out, so I may as well come clean.

    You may have read how Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III is assembling an all-star team to investigate Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election. Not everybody who is contributing has chosen to make themselves known—for obvious reasons. But our participation is known to the Executive Branch. And Trump is not exactly a tight-lipped about secrets; ask Israel.

    So I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised that, when asked if Russia was solely responsible for campaign meddling, Trump blurted out “Nobody.really knows.

    Thanks a lot, guy. Stay classy.

  16. 17
    Sebastian H says:

    Ha. Fresnel lens tangent…

  17. 18
    Harlequin says:

    ….that wasn’t intentional, whoops! :)

  18. 19
    RonF says:

    #22 is hard to judge the validity of because when the left uses the term “immigrants” they conflate resident aliens and illegal aliens together, whereas many (if not the vast majority, as I believe) of people on the right do not, and consider only illegal aliens to be a major problem.

  19. 20
    Ampersand says:

    ….that wasn’t intentional, whoops! :)

    Er, what wasn’t intentional?

  20. 21
    Harlequin says:

    Fresnel lens tangent (which is kind of a pun).

  21. 22
    nobody.really says:

    David Brooks:

    Richard Reeves of the Brookings Institution recently published a book called Dream Hoarders detailing some of the structural ways the well educated rig the system…. [P]laces like Portland, New York and San Francisco … have housing and construction rules that keep the poor and less educated away from places with good schools and good job opportunities.

    These rules have a devastating effect on economic growth nationwide. Research by economists Chang-Tai Hsieh and Enrico Moretti suggests that zoning restrictions in the nation’s 220 top metro areas lowered aggregate U.S. growth by more than 50 percent from 1964 to 2009.

    Seriously? Wow.

  22. 23
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    A Cross-Disciplinary Survey of Beliefs about Human Nature, Culture, and Science

    http://journals.academicstudiespress.com/index.php/ESIC/article/view/10

    Do sociologists differ from women’s studies profs, how, why, etc? Interesting paper.

  23. 24
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    [P]laces like Portland, New York and San Francisco … have housing and construction rules that keep the poor and less educated away from places with good schools and good job opportunities.

    Somewhat ironically, these are often based in the laudable initial desire to have ‘safer’ or ‘better’ or ‘more accessible’ housing, without consideration of what Bastiat would call the “unseen costs.” This is the sort of thing I often argue about.

    I know, and represent, people who are homeless because they cannot obtain the minimum housing which the law requires. They would like to get off the street or out of their cars! They would rather sleep in a garage or basement (can’t do it; safety reasons); or an outbuilding (can’t do it, sanitary reasons); they would like to build a tiny house (prohibited by zoning, fire, and sanitary codes). They would like to live in a camper or a tent (nope, zoning.) They would also be very happy to live in a properly-built-but-super-tiny unit with floor plans like you see at Ikea… but those square footages are smaller than the housing folks permit, so our town is forced to build ~600sf units to house individual people, even though they would easily find people who would jump at the chance to live in a 200-250sf unit, and they could get three times as many folks off the street.

    It’s easy to say “nobody should live in a unit smaller than 600sf” but it’s also easy to forget that the unseen result is “nowhere to live at all, unless you have money for 600sf.”

    And of course we also have the ‘stretch code’, which is nice for the environment, but raises the cost of those public buildings considerably–resulting in fewer units. And, of course we often require them to be built under union contract, which is also more expensive and results in fewer units. And of course we have a lot of public input, which is nice but results in higher costs and more time and therefore fewer units; and we have a lot of oversight during construction, which does the same thing, and so on.

    Now, if you ask my clients whether they would rather (a) live in a basement; (b) pay the rent for fully-compliant housing and get the benefits of compliance; or (c) move out of the area… they would almost all choose (a).

    Oddly enough it is primarily the SJ folks who won’t let them. I say “oddly” because with a few exceptions, those SJ folks are otherwise very consistent about affirming the rights of individuals to make free choices. And they are otherwise very consistent in their claims that people know their own circumstances well, and can make their own decisions. At least, they are consistent when we’re not talking about housing, wages, union membership, or charter schools.

    This is not really true, though:

    keep the poor and less educated away from places with good schools

    The catch-22 is missing here. “Good schools” are often in that category BECAUSE they have a lot of well-educated people and social support. Everything has costs and benefits. The “good school” aspects frequently seem to be based on a lot of cultural homogeneity and lack of compensation for things like poverty and parental non-support. That frees up resources to focus elsewhere, like on education. But at some point, as the %age of poor and uneducated people increases, then you have competition for available resources, and unless you also dump a lot of extra resources into them the school performance will drop and the initial well-educated group will often go elsewhere.

  24. 25
    RonF says:

    San Francisco is famous for the effects of such zoning.

  25. 26
    Jake Squid says:

    I tend to take the words of David Brooks with the same gravity I give to the words of any random 3 year old. But, as they used to say, YMMV.

  26. 27
    Charles S says:

    Here’s the paper Brooks is referring to.

    As far as I can tell, the model generates the result that the country is suffering from a shortage of financial services and programming jobs caused by tight housing markets in the cities that are specialized in financial services and programming, rather than that those specific cities are suffering from having driven out the low productivity industries due to the high cost of housing, and that leaves the average productivity of the city at a much higher level.

    If I’m reading the charts right, Total Factor Productivity in New York, San Francisco, and San Jose combined increased by a factor of 20 between 1964 and 2009, while it roughly doubled elsewhere (except the rust belt, where it collapsed by a factor of 5). The paper just takes that as a given, rather than considering why New York no longer has a garment industry and what the loss of that and other low productivity industries would do to the total productivity and how housing costs might have driven out the garment industry.

    The distinction of San Jose and San Francisco is also a red flag that the paper may be looking at cities (which is what it says it is doing) rather than greater metropolitan areas (San Jose and San Francisco are both part of the same greater metropolitan area). If you ignore the existence of the New York metropolitan area, New York City proper is an even weirder place than it actually is.

    The model probably points at something somewhat meaningful, but treating its 50% estimate as realistic seems highly dubious.

  27. 28
    nobody.really says:

    I tend to take the words of David Brooks with the same gravity I give to the words of any random 3 year old.

    Well, a 3 year old, sure. But there are some kids who are just gonna give you a piece of their minds–and even David Brooks stands at attention and says Yes Sir when they’re done.

  28. 29
    Jake Squid says:

    I’d prefer that The Failing New York Times give a column to that baby. I’m sure it would be more insightful, clever and factual than Brooks’ garbage “ideas.”

  29. 30
    Kate says:

    Oddly enough it is primarily the SJ folks who won’t let them.

    G&W, you put safer in scare quotes, but many regulations in urban housing markets, like requirements that residential units have heating systems and electricity, are designed to make sure people don’t resort to lighting fires for light or to stay warm. Taking a risk that might lead to a fire in a dense urban area is not an individual choice, any more than choosing to go unvaccinated is.
    Yes, subgroups on the left, especially enviormentalists, do sometimes call out for regulations without thinking about consequences. And, sometimes, it is just pure NIMBYism, as when one of/some of the Kennedys opposed a windfarm proposed between Martha’s Vineyard and the mainland. Although, from what I can remember, there was no outcry from the conservative residents of Martha’s Vineyard, who wanted to preserve their ocean views as much as the liberals did. This was largely a fight on the left (and the right side ultimately did win that one).
    We really could use a robust public debate on updating regulations. For example, allowing smaller units might make sense (there might also be practical reasons for those regulations that I don’t know about). But, people on the right will knee jerk against any regulation, no matter how sensible – unless it affects their neighborhood. Then NIMBYism is no less common than among the liberals.
    Conservative suburbs have a lot of zoning regulations too, and often with less cause. In cities, fire is a very real danger. Whereas the requirement for large front lawns in many suburban areas serves no practical purpose except to raise housing prices, that I can see.

  30. 31
    Ampersand says:

    The housing crisis has many parents. Certainly, health, safety and environmental regulations are one issue, although I don’t think any sensible person would want all those done away with.

    Zoning laws are another major issue – often zoning laws make SROs illegal anywhere but downtown, but no one can afford to build an SRO downtown anymore. A huge factor is parking requirements for new construction, which makes it incredibly expensive to build apartment buildings with lots of small apartments.

    Another major factor is capitalism. A city that’s having a housing crisis is a city that lots of people want to move to; in that situation, it’s going to be more profitable to build a luxury apartment building than an SRO. And for owners of SROs, it’ll be more profitable to sell to a developer than to remain an SRO. It’s hard to see how this could be helped without laws, subsidies, or both.

    NIMBYism is possibly the biggest factor. Try changing the zoning laws anywhere to make microrentals or SROs or residential hotels or even flophouses viable, and locals will organize and resist.

    G&W, what city do you live in where the minumum apartment size is 600 feet? In ultra-liberal Portland, the legal minimum is 150 square feet. In Seattle, it’s 90 sq feet, due partly to a quirk in building codes that defines square feet per kitchen rather than per bedroom, meaning that if you build 8 apartments with a shared kitchen the apartments can get very tiny. In San Francisco, it’s 220 sq feet. In NYC, it’s 400 feet, but you can apply for a waiver, and they’ve approved apartments as small as 250. Chicago 275, D.C. 220. I really don’t see any “liberal city government = large required square footage” trend going on here.

    Do you really think apartment square footage is a big issue among SJs? Insofar as I’ve heard people in my very-lefty circles talk about this at all (which isn’t all that much), people mostly favor smaller apartments being available, and greater density.

  31. 32
    Harlequin says:

    Minimum square footage varies with the number of people in the unit in at least some of the places I lived–I think one was 200 sq ft for one person, plus an extra 100 sq ft for each person beyond the first. So 600 sq ft for a moderately sized family wouldn’t be out of the question. Is be with Amp, though, to be surprised if it was a minimum full stop. I’ve lived two places over 600 sq ft as an adult, and one of them was a shared apartment with four people; currently I live in a 500 sq ft apartment in a very liberal state.

    That being said, if the regulations were designed carefully to actually correspond to health and safety–and I agree that many were not–then the solution should be “subsidize people’s housing” not “make the poor choose between homelessness and insufficient and/or unsafe housing.” That still probably wouldn’t be enough for city centers, but might allow people to live in the more residential neighborhoods.

  32. 33
    Kate says:

    In markets like San Franciso, and Manhattan real estate speculation is also a major factor.

  33. 34
    Harlequin says:

    I got the chance to see Falsettos tonight in a (movie) theatre. It was recorded for Live from Lincoln Center and then they decided to do a cinematic run instead of just on PBS. Check it out if you get a chance; it was a little odd for me at first, less like seeing a live musical than I thought, but by the end I was totally invested. (And sobbing, like about a third of the audience–it’s a tough show by the end, if you’re not familiar with it.) The cast is stellar: I knew Christian Borle, Stephanie J Block, Andrew Rannells, and Tracie Thoms already, and now I need to check out Brandon Uranowitz and Betsy Wolfe as well. (And it was choreographed by Spencer Liff, who did some stuff I really liked on So You Think You Can Dance, and does a good job choreographing stage movement that isn’t dance–he did the revival of Hedwig as well.)

  34. 35
    Ampersand says:

    We have tickets to see Falsettos on Sunday! I can’t wait. They seem to be doing more of these musicals-filmed-live lately (I think both Newsies and Allegiance were in cinemas within the last year), and I really love it – a much better approach than making a full-on movie, generally speaking. Also, as the quality of bootlegs keeps going up, maybe musical producers are being motivated to undercut the bootleggers.

    By the way, Tracie Thoms responded to something I tweeted. That night, I was asleep, and I was woken up by the 11-year-old pounding on my door. I got up, worried, thinking it was something urgent, threw on a robe and went blearily to my door. “Did you know Tracie Thoms replied to your tweet?!?”

  35. 36
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    Harlequin says:
    July 12, 2017 at 10:24 pm
    if the regulations were designed carefully to actually correspond to health and safety

    In theory, they are. It’s just that people have very different ideas of what that means. There is a tendency to regulate closer to the “we don’t want that so we will use regulation to handle it” line, when the regulation should probably be closer to the “this is obviously horrific and needs to stop” line.

    For example, “health and safety” includes things like “minimum bedroom sizes and ventilation standards.” And many people truly believe that it is bad for people to sleep in a room which is , say, 5×8 and/or which doesn’t have a window. So they want to ban it.

    It is bad, I guess, at least in the sense that it is not ideal. But I submit that this example is considered “non-bad” enough that we have absolutely no interest in dealing with the millions of situations where it already happens, because the people involved are rich. I can buy an old house full of lead, and paint it myself; I can buy an old house with bad fire codes and too-steep stairways; I can let my own kids sleep in what modern folks would call a ‘closet’ because I can’t afford to buy more room. And if I inherit or otherwise maintain ownership of a house I can do whatever I want.

    You know who we don’t let make those choices? Poor people. They have to rent, and therefore we play at being a paternalistic uncle and we don’t let them make the same choices we do, even though we routinely acknowledge that folks worldwide live in those conditions.

    the solution should be “subsidize people’s housing” not “make the poor choose between homelessness and insufficient and/or unsafe housing.”

    The solution should be “grant the poor people the same right to make choices that the rich people have.”** And, probably, “if rich people get a pass for compliance because they already own their shit, maybe we shouldn’t be enforcing expensive compliance on everyone who does not own their shit.”

    That still probably wouldn’t be enough for city centers, but might allow people to live in the more residential neighborhoods.

    People DO live there. Lots of people want to live in nice places; that is why they are expensive. Few of them do. I don’t live where I want to live, either. I don’t think there’s any particular right to live somewhere and there are always tradeoffs. If you take away X housing from Middleclass Moe and designate it for Poor Pete, then among other problems you cause, you are deciding that Moe needs to leave and Pete gets to stay. It is neither important or especially ethical to insert yourself into that decision.

    **the minimum wage equivalent would be “The ability to cogently plan for the long term, and to choose experience and references over money, should not be limited to rich people. If we started strictly enforcing every single ‘internship’ or ‘volunteering’ or ‘experience’ that rich people do, and demanded that those folks properly get minimum wage, then support for minimum wage would dry up considerably.”

  36. 37
    Ampersand says:

    The solution should be “grant the poor people the same right to make choices that the rich people have.”

    “In its majestic equality, the law forbids allows rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges.”

  37. 38
    Harlequin says:

    Amp, I’d love to hear your thoughts after you see the show!

    For example, “health and safety” includes things like “minimum bedroom sizes and ventilation standards.” And many people truly believe that it is bad for people to sleep in a room which is , say, 5×8 and/or which doesn’t have a window. So they want to ban it.

    That’s an interesting pair of regulations. Bedroom size is, as you say, informed by a lot of ideas about what is comfortable/acceptable. Windows aren’t, though; they’re emergency exits. Homeowners (and, in fact, renters) are allowed to put beds in closets if they want, but it’s a terrible idea for safety reasons.

    It’s true, people who buy houses are allowed to choose to buy unsafe places (up to a limit, anyway–too bad and the building would be condemned). But they’re not choosing that or homelessness, typically. So I’m happy to step in to prevent what would be essentially a coerced choice, when I wouldn’t step in to prevent a free choice.

  38. 39
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    Ampersand says:
    July 13, 2017 at 11:09 am
    “In its majestic equality, the law forbids allows rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges.”

    That quote keeps getting brought up as if it’s pro-poor, but it isn’t. When you bar people from sleeping under bridges (or in cars or on park benches or on sidewalks) you mostly screw over a ton of poor homeless folks and benefit the rich folks.

    Let me try to put it differently.

    Imagine a rough scale. somewhere near the top is WHAT WE WANT. somewhere below that is a cutoff line of WHAT WE INTERFERE WITH. Somewhere near the bottom is WHAT WE PREVENT (through laws, entitlements, or otherwise.)

    I’m going to talk about the gray area–call it a “workspace”–between “what we prevent” and “what we interfere with.”

    That workspace is sort of a loophole. If you have to ask permission to end up in that workspace, you will usually be denied: you can’t get a permit for it, you can’t get funding for it, you may not legally be able to agree to it, etc. But if you can get in there some other way (usually involving some sort of money) then you get to use the workspace.

    But the laws of supply and demand and competition being what they are, having all of that extra usable workspace confers immense advantage. The added flexibility allows you to make smart tradeoffs in the immediate realm. As another very salient example it also allows you more room to make short term sacrifices for long term savings and gains–that is a standard tactic for rich people but the tactic is often denied to poor people.

    And yet liberals, who claim to be pro-poor, are constantly expanding the regulatory state, which is is constantly expanding the gray area. Every new building code raises costs on people who don’t yet own houses. Every new zoning regulation raises costs on people who don’t yet own land. Every increase in minimum wage especially burdens those who don’t yet have a job. And so on.

    Rich people have the funds, and the lawyers, to make use of the gray area. So the bigger that area gets the better off that they are; the most complex loopholes in the gray area are almost exclusively benefiting the ultra-rich. Relatively speaking the expansion of the grey area–think “more regulation, however well-intentioned it may be”) almost exclusively screws over poor people. Want a law to tax gas? Regressive. Want to make all eggs free range and thereby more expensive? Regressive. Rent control? In the long run, anti-housing. Subsidies for solar power? Regressive. Generally speaking, “centralized control?” Regressive in the long term, as you will see if you ask your friendly local Venezuelan.

    I am not opposed to raising the threshold of “what we prevent.” But I am highly opposed to expanding the gray area, and I think “what we interfere with” should be much closer to “what we prevent.”

    If folks don’t think anyone should be at a job for less than $15, those folks should start arresting all of the business owners who employ Congressional interns, docents at the MMA, and other “volunteers.” “Volunteer” is just code for “rich person violating wage laws.”

    If folks don’t think people should live in a house with or without ____, those folks should support going around to homeowners and locking them out ’till its fixed.

    And so on.

    Of course most folks would never support that in general. And most folks would not support it for themselves, because most folks think they’re smart enough to make their own choices. I agree. The difference is that I don’t think we should assume poor people are dumb, and I don’t think we should force them to use a smaller workspace than everyone else. I think we should think twice before telling people that they can’t do things because we know what is good for them.

    Unless you work with these hidden consequences all the time, which I do, they are easy to miss. Right now I am involved with multiple clients who are getting jacked by laws that someone, somewhere, passed because they thought they were “good” for some population, without ever considering the effects on everyone else.

    I’m happy to step in to prevent what would be essentially a coerced choice, when I wouldn’t step in to prevent a free choice.

    Interesting word to use.

    In my experience most liberals use “coerced” to mean “A choice which falls below the we-will-interfere threshold.” Coercion is avoiding something we dislike.

    In my experience most laws use “coerced” to mean “A choice which falls below the we-will-prevent threshold.” Coercion is avoiding something we prohibit.

    Problem is, the”interfere” threshold is illusory and escapable. When you use it for coercion, you end up with bad outcomes of your good intentions.

  39. 40
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    Quick limited poll for all readers.

    A) HOW MANY OF THESE HAVE YOU DONE? (0-8)

    B) HOW MANY OF THESE DO YOU THINK THAT YOU AND YOUR FRIENDS SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO DO IF THEY WANT? (0-8)

    C) HOW MANY OF THESE DO YOU THINK ARE ILLEGAL? (0-8)

    D) HOW MANY OF THESE DO YOU THINK SHOULD BE ILLEGAL? (0-8)

    1) I have knowingly and voluntarily worked for less than minimum wage. This includes interning to gain experience, volunteering to gain experiences or references, or just plain working.

    2) I have knowingly and voluntarily worked without being covered by worker’s compensation insurance.

    3) I have knowingly and voluntarily worked more than 40 hours without getting OT, and/or worked on holidays without getting time and a half, and/or have worked during my vacation.

    4) I have been injured at work and have not reported it to the state.

    5) I have lived in “non habitable space” for an extended period of time

    6) I have lived in a place which did not meet all health codes for a period of time.

    7) I have paid my landlord more in advance than they were entitled to, or given a larger than usual security deposit, in order to secure the housing I wanted

    8) I have agreed to perform duties which are not legally mine in order to keep my landlord happy and secure housing I wanted.

  40. 41
    Kate says:

    I can buy an old house full of lead, and paint it myself; I can buy an old house with bad fire codes and too-steep stairways; I can let my own kids sleep in what modern folks would call a ‘closet’ because I can’t afford to buy more room. And if I inherit or otherwise maintain ownership of a house I can do whatever I want.

    Lead and fire codes are really bad examples if you’re trying to convince people that there should be fewer regulations on rental properties, and not more regulations on private homes.
    We would probably save millions on the effects of lead poisoning if we made a conserted effort to remove all the remaining lead from residential properties. In fact, I think we should do that. It would also create a lot of jobs for the next decade or so.
    If my house is right next to yours, I consider you keeping it up to fire codes to be my business, just as I consider you hooking up to sewage systems or maintaining your septic system and not turning your backyard into a cess pool to be my business.
    Once the actions you take on your private property are likely to cause brain damage associated with violent behavior, fires, outbreaks of cholera, etc., society has an interest in preventing that. I have a problem with localities which are only doing that with rental properties.

    If folks don’t think anyone should be at a job for less than $15, those folks should start arresting all of the business owners who employ Congressional interns, docents at the MMA, and other “volunteers.” “Volunteer” is just code for “rich person violating wage laws.”

    Actually, I do think internships with governments and for-profit businesses should be required to pay minimum wage. Volunteers for non-profits are another matter, but there is a case to be made that they should only be allowed to work a limited number of hours.

  41. 43
    nobody.really says:

    1. I acknowledge gin-and-whiskey’s point that policies/regulations have both costs and benefits. I sense gin-and-whiskey overlooks the dynamics of externalities: the idea that bilateral transactions may have consequences that extend beyond the two parties involved.

    2. I also acknowledge that more sophisticated parties can exploit loopholes better than less sophisticated parties. “More sophisticated” often correlates with “richer,” but not always; recall stories about the poor, street-wise kid who knows how to get things done in a given environment, while some rich person flounders.

    3. Regarding the “grey area” or “workspace”: There is a tension between uniformity/fairness and flexibility. Books such as The Death of Common Sense and religious folk trumpet the idea that the law is needlessly burdensome because authorities won’t make reasonable accommodations for the needs of minorities. Even the Pope suggests that Catholic authorities have been needlessly inflexible in excluding divorced/remarried Catholics from taking Communion.

    On the flip side, others argue that granting exceptions undermines the uniformity of the rules, erodes public confidence in fairness, and permits the well-connected to avoid the burdens that the rest of us bear.

    Because I see merit in each side of the argument, I can’t embrace a generalized statement exhorting one side to the exclusion of the other. I need greater specificity before I can evaluate any given argument.

    4. So let’s look at some specifics:

    Every new building code raises costs on people who don’t yet own houses.

    Perhaps; depends on how you value externalities. If you build a house in a neighborhood that insurance companies know has building codes that make it less likely that 1) your house will catch fire or collapse, and 2) your house will be less likely to be harmed by the neighboring house catching fire or collapsing, then you may find that a building code actually reduces the long-term cost of owning and insuring a home.

    Moreover, some building codes make certain practices more common, which then creates a market that will drives down the incremental cost of implementing the codes. Yeah, requiring builders to install smoke detectors in each structure might have been really expensive—when the technology was brand new. Now it’s trivially cheap—yet still not free. Would gin-and-whiskey argue that we should repeal such codes because, after all, the ost of the components and labor is still above zero…?

    Every new zoning regulation raises costs on people who don’t yet own land.

    Try getting a mortgage on a home if there’s no restrictions on somebody creating a landfill next door.

    It’s nice to focus on bilateral transactions, but as any realtor will tell you, the three chief drivers of a house’s value is location, location, and location. By which they mean, the house’s value is driven not simply be what’s on the lot, but by the stuff on the neighboring lots. And that stuff is controlled by zoning.

    Every increase in minimum wage especially burdens those who don’t yet have a job.

    Data is mixed. Classical economics tells us that we would expect that a minimum wage would tend to reduce the number of people employed, but increase the compensation to those who are employed, all else being equal. But all else isn’t equal. When more people have more income, they may feel inclined to spend more, thereby stimulating demand for more employment than would otherwise have been the case. Higher compensation for the majority might reduce safety-net expenses, which might alter taxes. Etc.

    Want a law to tax gas? Regressive…. Subsidies for solar power? Regressive.

    True, most taxes on consumer goods are regressive. But a gas tax or a solar subsidy will reduce the consumption of fossil fuels, which will tend to reduce the externalities that would otherwise occur. So we must evaluate who bears those costs. For example, we might imagine that affluent people with asthma are better able to stay indoors and gain healthcare to deal with the particulate matter that fossil fuels adds to the environment, while poor people are not. In short, it’s not a simple analysis.

    Want to make all eggs free range and thereby more expensive? Regressive.

    This example expands the analysis, because it calls into question what we mean by “regressive.” I think of “regressive” as meaning “shifting burdens from the relatively powerful to the relatively powerless.” And in this analysis, I’d be hard-pressed to find a party less powerful than the chickens. Clearly, people might evaluate the issue differently than I do. My point is simply, again, that the issue is not as simple as gin-and-whiskey suggests.

    “Volunteer” is just code for “rich person violating wage laws.”

    Actually, I kinda agree with this one. I struggle with the conceptual framework for a minimum wage.

    I don’t think we should assume poor people are dumb….

    I make no such assumptions. But I acknowledge that there are social dynamics that poor people, much like rich people, cannot control on a bilateral basis, and that’s what laws are for.

  42. 44
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    Kate says:
    July 13, 2017 at 1:27 pm
    Lead and fire codes are really bad examples if you’re trying to convince people that there should be fewer regulations on rental properties, and not more regulations on private homes.

    I think you’re missing my point. If you can successfully convince folks to raise the “prohibited for all” level and enforce it, that’s A-OK with me. Practically speaking I’m unconcerned about excessive over-regulation in that context because people are usually pretty unwilling to regulate themselves. But that would at least cure the loopholes.

    If my house is right next to yours, I consider you keeping it up to fire codes to be my business

    Wow, I’m impressed. It sounds like you voluntarily have your building annually inspected and that you voluntarily perform annual maintenance to meet current building, fire, and health codes (or at least fire codes). That must be really expensive–how much does it cost every year? I don’t know anyone else who does that.

  43. 45
    Harlequin says:

    g&w, in case I missed it–is the regulation in your town 600 sf for any renter, or just for families of a certain size as I theorized? As Amp pointed out, it’s an outlier if the former. Also, except in your poll, I note you haven’t mentioned landlords at all, even though at least some of the regulations you mention are designed to constrain landlords and not tenants. Do you have any thoughts on that?

    To go back to this for a second, because I missed it the first time through:

    But I submit that this example is considered “non-bad” enough that we have absolutely no interest in dealing with the millions of situations where it already happens, because the people involved are rich. I can buy an old house full of lead, and paint it myself; I can buy an old house with bad fire codes and too-steep stairways; I can let my own kids sleep in what modern folks would call a ‘closet’ because I can’t afford to buy more room.

    Do you think it’s rich people who are putting their kids’ bedrooms in closets (etc)? I don’t think that’s likely–people who renovate houses for fun or profit aside. If they’re rich, they can buy bigger houses, or renovate more safely. Those behaviors are, in my experience. far more likely to be the upper edges of the working class and some fraction of the middle class, depending on area: people who have enough money to buy a small house, but not enough to buy a sufficient house. I agree with you that poor people (like other people) are not dumb. In most cases, they do unsafe things because the safe thing isn’t an option available to them.

    Look–if the regulations are onerous, then yes, let’s reform them. But you’re freely flipping between actual safety regulations (emergency exits) and, for lack of a better term, comfort regulations (bedroom size). One of those we need to be much more cautious about relaxing.

    I remain firm in my earlier comment: if housing is so hard to obtain that poor people must choose between homelessness and unsafe housing, housing support is the right solution. And, to be honest, I find it incredibly distasteful to be having this conversation less than a month after the Grenfell tower fire (at least in part due to a relaxation of housing regulations). And less than a year after the Ghost Ship fire, too (which was people who owned a building putting it to uses they weren’t supposed to)–a case in which, as you say, we absolutely should be locking property owners out of their houses if they’re doing unsafe things with them.

    Were the 80 deaths at Grenfell Tower more or less than the deaths that would have occurred if Grenfell Tower–and the other unsafe high rises like it, housing thousands of people–had rent that was slightly higher to cover better upkeep, consigning some of their poorest residents into homelessness? I don’t know. But that is a monstrous choice.

  44. 46
    Harlequin says:

    (And that choice, I should specify, is my argument in favor of better housing support for the poor and/or homeless–not necessarily against g&w, since I can’t tell exactly what level of regulatory repeal he’s going for.)

  45. 47
    Elusis says:

    For example, “health and safety” includes things like “minimum bedroom sizes and ventilation standards.” And many people truly believe that it is bad for people to sleep in a room which is , say, 5×8 and/or which doesn’t have a window. So they want to ban it.

    If you’d ever visited the Tenement Museum on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, you’d understand why we have these kinds of regulations. Dank, dark, unventilated and unlit rooms with garbage-collecting airshafts barely an arm’s width across between buildings were responsible for all sorts of injuries and deaths to the poorest of the poor.

    I suppose I feel, talking about this kind of thing right after Grenfell Tower, the same kind of despair I felt watching even minimal changes in gun control laws fail to pass after Sandy Hook.

  46. 48
    Kate says:

    1) I have knowingly and voluntarily worked for less than minimum wage. This includes interning to gain experience, volunteering to gain experiences or references, or just plain working.

    I think everyone agrees that there should be some exceptions – babysitting the neighbor’s kid for an evening, or mowing their law; volunteering a few hours a week tutoring children, as a docent, or in a soup kitchen or the like – or full time for a short-term goal, like working on a fundraising gala. Most of these are things that I have done.
    It also makes sense to have lower minimum wage for trainees/interns in some cases.
    But, the notion that college graduates, with years of part-time work experience, have so little to contribute to an organization that they should be exempt from the minimum wage for what are really full time (or even more than full time) entry level positions is absurd, and wrong. It should be illegal. But, I understand that as the world is today, it is the only way to get your foot in the door. So, I wouldn’t condemn individuals for doing it.

    2) I have knowingly and voluntarily worked without being covered by worker’s compensation insurance.

    I haven’t knowingly. But, I suppose babysitting as a teenager would count?

    3) I have knowingly and voluntarily worked more than 40 hours without getting OT, and/or worked on holidays without getting time and a half, and/or have worked during my vacation.

    I haven’t. I think that for hourly workers it should be flat out illegal. I think for salaried workers, overtime should be limited as well. I am terrified of overtired residents in emergency rooms, truck drivers, and the like. Allowing people to work too much overtime can be dangerous.

    4) I have been injured at work and have not reported it to the state.

    I think that reporting injuries to the state should be the responsibility of the employer, not the employee. I’ve reported all injuries that required more than a bandaid to my employer(s).

    5) I have lived in “non habitable space” for an extended period of time

    I’m not sure. I once went nearly two years in a house with no hot water. We showered at the gym and used the kettle to heat up our son’s bath water. But, I’m not sure about the legality of that.
    As I’ve stated, I think that a lot of “non habitable spaces” are ultimately judged non habitable for good reason – fire risk, lack of plumbing (leading to build of of waste products) or the like. Regulations which are not rooted in such safty issues, or for which such issues have become antiquated, should be reformed.

    6) I have lived in a place which did not meet all health codes for a period of time.

    no

    7) I have paid my landlord more in advance than they were entitled to, or given a larger than usual security deposit, in order to secure the housing I wanted

    No, but I lost the chance to rent an apartment once because someone else did. I’m not sure what the legality of this is, or what I think it should be.

    8) I have agreed to perform duties which are not legally mine in order to keep my landlord happy and secure housing I wanted.

    No. Again, I’m not sure what the legality is, or what I think it should be.

  47. 49
    Kate says:

    In response to the post Amp linked @42 – I’m all for eliminating the parking and garden requirements discussed in that link. But, the parking requirements don’t sound like requirements pushed by lefties. Maybe the garden spaces are? Still, if it is for the benefit of the occupants, balconies should count. It is for the benefit of the surrounding community, it should be based on the size of the footprint of the building, not the number of units/rooms.

  48. 50
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    And, to be honest, I find it incredibly distasteful to be having this conversation less than a month after the Grenfell tower fire

    I don’t. You shouldn’t.

    Were the 80 deaths at Grenfell Tower more or less than the deaths that would have occurred if Grenfell Tower–and the other unsafe high rises like it, housing thousands of people–had rent that was slightly higher to cover better upkeep, consigning some of their poorest residents into homelessness? I don’t know.

    But that is a monstrous choice.
    I don’t know the answer, but I do know that it’s a public policy choice like any other. It is simultaneously very horrible, and also very necessary. Lots of people die in the UK for all sorts of reasons and the question about how to spend a limited pool of money and effort to make the population safer and healthier and more alive requires a lot of tradeoffs.

    I submit that generally, tradeoffs are necessary and proper. But for a lot of people they are really hard to do. And so people who think that making tradeoffs is monstrous–this group may or may not include you–are not really the best folks to be in charge of making tradeoffs. There is an immense human bias towards the ‘seen’ over the ‘unseen’, and Grenfell was very much in our minds. To some folks it seems really obvious that we should avoid those particular 80 deaths; to other folks those are 80 deaths out of 500,000 total, or 80/18000 accidental, and the government needs to treat them as such.

  49. 51
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    Elusis says:
    If you’d ever visited the Tenement Museum on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, you’d understand why we have these kinds of regulations.

    The only basis for my position is a lack of knowledge, I guess? Well, that’s rude. Half my family came from the tenements. I know what they are.

    Dank, dark, unventilated and unlit rooms with garbage-collecting airshafts barely an arm’s width across between buildings were responsible for all sorts of injuries and deaths to the poorest of the poor.

    Saying tenements “were responsible” reminds me a bit of the perennial debate about sweatshops.

    By and large, sweatshops are bad. But in many cases they are better than the available alternatives for many people who work there. Sweatshops are bad; prostitution or starvation or other riskier jobs are worse. If you haven’t fixed the other available alternatives it is not always a benefit to prevent folks from working in sweatshops.

    Similarly, by and large tenements were bad. But in many cases they were better than the available alternatives, such as “death by famine, war, or pogrom in your home country,” “risks of leaving the city,” “homelessness,” and so on. They were, as you put it, “the poorest of the poor.”
    T

    These days we have somewhat better alternatives and much better mobility so the tenements are less needed. But even now, some of my clients live in places that are pretty close to tenements, though they could live better somewhere else. They choose the tenement because they want to be close to their connections more than they want to live somewhere safer/nicer/cleaner/bigger. If you kick them out of the tenements they will hate you, since you will have doomed them to choose between homelessness or leaving their connections. And I don’t work in Appalachia.

  50. 52
    RonF says:

    I’ve done 1, 3, 4 and 6. Heck, #4 happened just a few months ago – and I had to go to the hospital and get a stitch to close the cut.

    BTW, I’ll be off the air for a week. I’m on the Program Safety Staff for the B.S.A.’s National Jamboree, so I’ll be living in a tent for the week up in the hills of West Virginia. No wi-fi, and I’ll be pretty busy anyway helping to make sure that 30,000 Boy Scouts and Venturers can participate in dozens of program areas over 14,000 acres safely. It used to be held at Fort A.P. Hill (an Army base) but Bechtel and other groups and people donated $100 million to the B.S.A. to purchase and improve the property and create the program areas.

    “Volunteer” is just code for “rich person violating wage laws.”

    Based on the above, does that include me? Seems overly broad….

  51. 53
    RonF says:

    then you may find that a building code actually reduces the long-term cost of owning and insuring a home.

    True – but it may well raise the initial cost of purchasing it. Consider that there are a lot of people who can handle paying a mortgage on a house but don’t own one because they cannot raise the down payment.

    Were the 80 deaths at Grenfell Tower more or less than the deaths that would have occurred if Grenfell Tower–and the other unsafe high rises like it, housing thousands of people–had rent that was slightly higher to cover better upkeep, consigning some of their poorest residents into homelessness?

    Possibly. But a greatly contributing factor was that the cladding put over the building was flammable and the installation method formed an external chimney around the building, essentially wrapping a furnace around it just waiting for something to spark it off. I suspect that even a sprinkler system would have had limited effect. I’ve read analyses that claim that an E.U. “green” regulation overrode a British building code that would have prevented it, but I’d like to see an actual official inquiry on that before I cite anything.

  52. 54
    Harlequin says:

    RonF, yes. There was a nonflammable version of the cladding available; I saw a calculation it would have cost £5000 more total (out of a renovation budget of almost £10 million). So, slightly higher rent, perhaps, if a bunch of cut corners like that hasn’t been cut. And reduction in regulation; I’m told by some friends in London that the fire brigade used to have more latitude to inspect buildings and ensure compliance, which also increased their familiarity with these structures in case of a fire.

    The thing about the EU “green” regulation is flat wrong. That cladding is forbidden for high rise buildings in Germany, among other countries.

  53. 55
    Kate says:

    Wow, I’m impressed. It sounds like you voluntarily have your building annually inspected and that you voluntarily perform annual maintenance to meet current building, fire, and health codes (or at least fire codes). That must be really expensive–how much does it cost every year? I don’t know anyone else who does that.

    Nice strawman. But, making it illegal to break fire codes doesn’t require house to house searches any more than making drugs illegal does.
    But, actually, as a renter, my primary residence is inspected every year. It’s free for me, and I don’t think it costs the leasing agent an ungodly amount of money. Frankly, it gives me peace of mind to know that my home meets safety standards.
    Recently, getting houses that I’ve considered purchasing inspected only cost a couple hundred dollars, but I’m no longer in the U.S., so I’d actually expect it to be cheaper there.
    In the house I sold (this was in the U.S.), the inspection took place when the house went on the market. We had to replace a bunch of electrical outlets which weren’t up to code before we could sell. It cost about $150 on a house that was worth about half a million. So, no, I didn’t consider that a burden.

  54. 56
    Ortvin Sarapuu says:

    ” I’ve read analyses that claim that an E.U. “green” regulation overrode a British building code that would have prevented it”

    Sounds like this ‘analysis’ came from somebody whose default is ‘blame the EU’. The cladding that was used is flat out illegal in many European countries. The UK is one of the few where it isn’t (although it is illegal in buildings over a certain height – of which Grenfell Tower was one.)

  55. 57
    Harlequin says:

    I submit that generally, tradeoffs are necessary and proper.

    I do not disagree. I’m not saying there are no situations where we should consider tradeoffs; I’m saying that, for me, this particular issue is so far over the line of unacceptable that the answer to “should poor people be forced to make this choice” is FUCK NO.

    Housing is one of those things that make many other interventions work better. Financially supporting housing for the poor is sound policy as well as sound morality.

    Sweatshops are a really good analogy here, actually. In an admittedly limited study, sweatshops weren’t better than the alternative for most people. Money quote:

    Industrialization is not a quick fix. The first defense of industry probably still holds: Over time, a booming sector tends to improve labor conditions and bid up wages as more businesses compete for workers. But the path there isn’t smooth. In the short run workers seem to share few of the benefits but a heavy burden of the risks — a burden borne by the desperate and the uninformed.

    And the framing “sweatshops are bad, but better than the alternative” is also a good analogy in this discussion because of what it hides, which is the third option of “paying workers a little more and ensuring proper safety regulations at the cost of slight to moderate profit decreases to the producer and/or cost increases to the consumer.” That “better than the alternative” framing takes the existence of sweatshops but not better workplaces for granted, as if the people who own the factories don’t have any real choices: they simply must run dangerous, underpaid shops.

  56. 58
    Kate says:

    I submit that generally, tradeoffs are necessary and proper.

    But when making trade-offs, one ought to start with the regulations that cost the most and provide the least benefit. Harlequin @57 and I are focused on health and safety. In the realm of housing regulations, that would mean starting with issues like the ones that Amp linked to @42 – expensive parking requirements (which I don’t think are fueled by the left), and green space requirements (which probably are fueled by the left). Reduction of requirements like these could probably save billions in housing costs without putting a single life in danger.
    But, if your interest is in keeping wealthy people wealthy, then keeping those high cost zoning laws in place in weathy neighborhoods raise property values, increasing their welath; while lowering basic standards in poor neighborhoods, keeps the expenses low for slumlords, increasing their wealth.

  57. 59
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    I keep saying that hate crime legislation and special rules which pertain to “hate speech” are dangerous. One person’s hate speech is another person’s free speech, and the only thing the laws get used for is to punish more people for speaking.

    Example 1,294-43C: There are plenty of POC who say “fuck white people,” right? I have certainly heard more than a few. Maybe you think of them as justified, or righteous; maybe they are. Maybe you think that “fuck white people” is totally OK, and should be given a lot of leeway, while “fuck POC”is really problematic; maybe you’re right.

    But it doesn’t matter what you think, unless you’re a judge. Because no surprise, the law does not make that distinction, and the government does not make that distinction. And so the government will use things like “fuck white people” as a hate crime enhancement if it wants.

    Not that this was predictable, of course.

    And this comment:

    Racist and anti-police rhetoric is completely unacceptable, as is vandalism of any kind. This kind of extremist behavior only fosters hate, harms innocent people and continues to perpetuate a climate where Police are put at risk.

    is obviously made by someone who has no conception of how things work. 1000 to 1 odds that the police are very interested in prosecuting people for “anti police rhetoric”, not so much interested in prosecuting someone for racism.

  58. 60
    Kate says:

    I keep saying that hate crime legislation and special rules which pertain to “hate speech” are dangerous.

    There’s a huge difference between legislation and rules. I’m against legislation against hate speech (although, I do think that it should be an agravating factor in things like assault and I’m fine with the fact that it cuts both ways in those cases).
    But, when it comes to rules in organizations, businesses, etc., freedom of speech needs to be balanced with freedom of association. As I’ve said before, the nature of the organization, and the way the person is connected to it, is really important in determining where the weight falls. There should be different standards for religious organizations (lower on speech, higher on association) and publically held corporations (the reverse) – for high level employees who act as public spokespersons (lower on speech, higher on association), and people sweeping the floors (the reverse).

  59. 61
    Sebastian H says:

    “There should be different standards for religious organizations (lower on speech, higher on association) and publically held corporations (the reverse) – for high level employees who act as public spokespersons (lower on speech, higher on association), and people sweeping the floors (the reverse).”

    And similarly wedding cake providers vs. Emergency Medical providers.

  60. 62
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    Kate says:
    July 19, 2017 at 12:41 am

    There’s a huge difference between legislation and rules.

    …maybe? I don’t know whether we’re agreeing or not. When I talk about “rules” in the context of hate speech I am talking about rules issued by governmental bodies, courts, schools, etc. which often have similar effect to legislation. They are rules which require classification as “hate speech / not hate speech” . The rules which concern me are ones which are made/enforced by third parties, though; I can live with rules which are individually adopted by the affected folks even if I think they’re bad rules.

    I’m against legislation against hate speech (although, I do think that it should be an aggravating factor in things like assault and I’m fine with the fact that it cuts both ways in those cases).

    Well, we disagree, but I certainly respect the “bring on the hate crime convictions of the POC ‘fuck whites’ activists, the laws are an overall benefit to society” position. At least it’s consistent, albeit a bad idea IMO. Anyway, moving on:

    But, when it comes to rules in organizations, businesses, etc., freedom of speech needs to be balanced with freedom of association. As I’ve said before, the nature of the organization, and the way the person is connected to it, is really important in determining where the weight falls. There should be different standards for religious organizations (lower on speech, higher on association) and publically held corporations (the reverse) – for high level employees who act as public spokespersons (lower on speech, higher on association), and people sweeping the floors (the reverse).

    I am confused. Are you talking about hate speech…? I think you have moved into discussing an employer’s right to regulate employee speech (interesting, though a very different subject) but I am not sure.

  61. 63
    Kate says:

    And similarly wedding cake providers vs. Emergency Medical providers.

    We’ve had this discussion before. I see cakes as a difficult case. On one end of the spectrum, we might have a grocery store with a cake section with a bunch of standard cakes on display, including a wedding cake. Anyone should be able to walk in an buy one of those. I think its problematic to choose which foods are truely essential. Could they decide that various ethnic groups don’t really need fancy foods like steak and lobster, and only agree to sell them rice and beans on the grounds that they only need that to survive?
    On the other end of the spectrum is a baker who individually contracts to make custom designed cakes. They should have a great deal of freedom in declining contacts.
    The court case you’re referring to appears to be somewhere in the middle, but closer to the grocery store end. The shop was open to the public. To my mind, if you have a shop open to the public, you shouldn’t be able to discriminate against people who are in protected classes. Now, if they were asking for a customized cake that could be interpreted as supporting same sex marriage (eg. with their names on it, with a gay couple as a cake topper), they have the right to refuse to make that. But, if they just want to order a cake from a standard list, refusing that is not o.k..

  62. 64
    Sebastian H says:

    “On the other end of the spectrum is a baker who individually contracts to make custom designed cakes. They should have a great deal of freedom in declining contacts.”

    But that isn’t the state of the law at all. I’d be much happier if it were. The court didn’t make those kind of distinctions.

  63. 65
    Kate says:

    Yes, I know. But, I find the wedding photographer case a clearer example of judical overreach in this area.

  64. 66
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    One is a restriction, the other is a requirement.

    The restriction would control whether or not you can say, to every white cis bride who wants a traditionalist Christian wedding cake, “you are a paternalistic abusing Islamophobic racist transphobic fuckface who is the worst race on the planet; you are part of the worst aspects of society; I hope you and all your kind choke on your wedding cake and rot in hell for all eternity, because it would be a better universe if you all were dead.”

    The requirement would control whether or not you are required to sell the white Christian would-be bride a wedding cake.

    And neither of those are really the same as “hate speech” laws.

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