Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Friday, August 15, 2014

Shorter Megan McArdle: Sucks To Be You

Megan McArdle has weighed in with her keen assessment on the Ferguson riots: Reverse gentrification is hell. Evidently the real problem is just that the cops are white and the community is black.
Demographic transition, combined with a long institutional lag, is a recipe for a yawning disconnect between the police and the community they serve. And occasionally, that disconnect turns violent. Young black men always have good reason to fear the police. But when so few of those police officers have ever been young black men, it’s much harder to manage those tensions.  
What is a little bit surprising is that it has gotten to this point in a majority-black community. My understanding of the literature on riots is that they are typically triggered by some sort of police violence against a minority, in situations where the population feels that it has no other means of redress. That they feel this way in a city where they are the majority of the electorate suggests just how powerful, and fraught, demographic transition can be.
Or, you know, chronic and long-standing racism.

McArdle does have one more pearl of wisdom: she doesn't see why reporters should have special rules to protect them.
Now, I’m not one of those who subscribes to the notion that reporters are some sort of a super-race who should be immune from normal rules.
It's not like she will ever need protection for her hard-hitting articles that expose official corruption, after all.

Now that we know we should sit and wait for racially balanced police forces to solve racism in America, let's look at our obscene level of inequality. We know it's not all that bad because Megan McArdle has said so frequently, and now she tells us that even the rich don't think it's good for the millennial generation to have very much money.
I think that most people need a real fear of failure to spur them to greater achievements -- but having lived through some of those failures myself, I can’t exactly recommend the stark terror that you might not be able to earn a living. It’s terrifying to send your kids out there in the world to take real risks with big potential costs. Unfortunately, it’s often even more dangerous to keep them “safe.”
So if middle class parents can no longer give their children enough advantages to keep the kids in the middle class it's not big thing. Failure leads to success and fear is good for the soul.

Speaking of failure, McArdle tells us that raising property taxes on the rich in England won't wash because the intellectuals won't support higher taxes that they might have to pay as well.
Of course, the power of the Henrys also makes it harder to displace them. If London is anything like New York, I suspect that a Labour leader who actually tries to implement a mansion tax would find that a large percentage of their supporters in the public intelligentsia are themselves sitting on real estate assets they could not possibly afford to buy today -- and that normally reliable left-wing supporters will come out against such a tax unless it contains some sort of grandfather clause to keep taxes from rising on people who have owned their houses for a long time. Perhaps the British will prove more resolute in the face of upper-middle-class self-protection than American politicians have proven to be. But I suspect they’ll need an iron will if they want to actually give the Henrys the boot.
Nobody can do anything ever!

And speaking of that, we can't help poor people being charged high interest rates because they would just be ripped off some other way.
Credit has long been thought of as a democratizing force. It enabled ordinary Americans to buy houses, cars and other amenities that had previously only been available to those with substantial capital. But over the last few decades, that process has been reversed. Financial irresponsibility is, of course, one of the things that drives a bad credit score. But so does unstable, low-skilled employment and a thin margin of financial error between you and the basics of American middle-class life. So what we’re seeing is a redistribution of benefits not just from the financially irresponsible to the financially responsible, but also from the labor market’s “have nots” to its “haves.”  
Those on the left see this problem and call for the reinstitution of usury laws to cap the amount that those with low credit scores can be asked to pay. And, of course, that would keep those 25-percent-interest auto loans from bleeding the family budget dry. But it would not put the Big Data genie back in the bottle; loan companies would still know that these people are bad risks. They would substitute even higher down-payment requirements -- or outright denial of the loans -- for the higher interest rates they’re now charging.  
Knowledge is power, as they say. But that power is not necessarily equally distributed.
So sad, but that's just the way it is.


ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Meegan is a fine example of this:

1. People tend to grow discouraged when the game is rigged against them.

2. People benefitting from a rigged game are reluctant to acknowledge that the game is rigged.

Susan of Texas said...

An excellent article, and it's so great to see Batocchio posting at Hullabaloo.

McArdle might be a little worse than that, since she admits the game is rigged but says that nothing can be done about it.

Downpuppy said...

A lot of us played wargames in high school Our World History teacher had us play Guns or Butter one day. We happily charged into nuclear holocaust. She just didn't understand.

Susan of Texas said...

It's always fun and games until someone decides to play Nuclear War.

Roger said...

McArdle needs to take public transportation with a former resident of Ferguson in order to orovide her special insight into the situaion.

Anonymous said...

I just love how Megan assumes St. Louis is exactly like DC (as she puts it, "the Great Inversion that seems to be taking place in St. Louis"). Not that's it's really relevant to Ferguson per se, but the core city in St. Louis isn't getting gentrified like DC. Some neighborhoods are experiencing gentrification, but overall, the cities population is still declining and the share of black population continues to increase. Nobody is moving back to the city; everybody is moving to further and further flung suburbs.

Also loving "it’s very unusual for majorities to be under-represented [in police and city government]". It might be unusual when that majority is white, but it's not at all unusual when the majority is black. The Washington Post handily demolishes Megan's claim.