Re: Why Is Santa So Scary?

1

Solution: Color-coded posts.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12-13-07 9:19 PM
horizontal rule
2

I admit to being completely mystified as to what Santa has to do with the topic of this post.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 12-13-07 9:20 PM
horizontal rule
3

I'm a liberal because I know full well that voluntarism isn't enough. You need government to force shit to happen, because most people are lazy fuckers like me who aren't going to save the planet by economizing on office supplies. I'm cool with all of it. No use kicking against human nature.


Posted by: PerfectlyGoddamnDelightful | Link to this comment | 12-13-07 9:21 PM
horizontal rule
4

2: 'Cuz he's making a list, checking it twice. And ogged is definitely going in the "naughty" column.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12-13-07 9:21 PM
horizontal rule
5

You need government to force shit to happen

This is what I tell myself; what I do personally doesn't really matter, and you need government to "force" collective action. But it's not like I'm doing a lot to get the government I want, so it's another cop-out.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 12-13-07 9:24 PM
horizontal rule
6

Santa doesn't care whether you're a good person, Ogged. He's only checking if you're naughty or nice, and nice is a pretty low bar. It's got to be -- Santa has to keep the wheels of commerce grinding along.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 12-13-07 9:25 PM
horizontal rule
7

All in good time. Bill Gates had a rap of being indifferent to anything but increasing his pile, and now look.

As soon as I have a Gatesian pile, then look out, you sorry bastards. I'ma make it rain!


Posted by: rapoli | Link to this comment | 12-13-07 9:26 PM
horizontal rule
8

4: Ohhhhh. Thanks.

This article seems relevant:

The Case Foundation is embarking on an effort to test the potential of citizen-led philanthropy via the Internet.
[R]eaders of Parade magazine and members of the Causes section of the Facebook Web site can enter a contest to win a total of $500,000 and $250,000, for their favorite charities, provided by Case.
The prizes will go to the charities and causes that attract the greatest numbers of unique donors, rather than the one that raises the most money.

I'm not generally against any kind of charity, but what disturbs me about this is that it becomes a popularity contest. Cute endangered species, small helpless children, heartrending medical conditions are generally appealing enough to grab a busy shopper or clicker. Compare to the un-sexy work of the Center for Law and Social Policy, or even the ACLU.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 12-13-07 9:27 PM
horizontal rule
9

3 sounds to me like a problem caused by liberalism, not a permanent aspect of human nature that demands correction by an expanded state.


Posted by: Michael Vanderwheel, B.A. | Link to this comment | 12-13-07 9:32 PM
horizontal rule
10
Hell, I bet that even Michael Vick thinks he's basically a good guy.

A friend of mine, remarking on the rationalizations of genuinely evil bastards of our acquaintance, says, "Everyone is the star of their own movie."


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 12-13-07 9:34 PM
horizontal rule
11

Why Is Santa So Scary?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12-13-07 9:34 PM
horizontal rule
12

But it's not like I'm doing a lot to get the government I want, so it's another cop-out.

No offense, but there's a subtle buried egotism in the self-accusation here. My guess would be that only a couple of thousand people in whole country have really measurable effects on what government we get. And most all of them work in the politics/policy or media business full-time and professionally (the exceptions would be the rich people who fund the whole thing). You're not one of them, and volunteering on weekends or whatever isn't going to change that. It will make you feel better about yourself, and it's a good thing to do to be involved in your community. But it's not like you're failing the *world*. It's just another one of the many good things you're not particularly inclined to do, which are counterbalanced by the good things you are inclined towards.

If you really want to make a difference, get good at your job, amass some money and influence, and direct that power wisely. Specialization is where it's at.

But I might be unusually cynical, perhaps because I truly am rather lazy and am at peace with that fact. Don't lose your anguished idealism, Ogged!


Posted by: PerfectlyGoddamnDelightful | Link to this comment | 12-13-07 9:35 PM
horizontal rule
13

So I was just typing this comment and then the lights in the house flickered and then right away there was a loud, distant "boom." Has a war started while I wasn't paying attention or something?


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 12-13-07 9:40 PM
horizontal rule
14

12: I don't agree with this. However, even if it were true, it would only be the case for federal politics and policies. This is a very large country. There are a heck of a lot of things that go on at the state, local, neighborhood, and block level.

I dunno, maybe I'm just feeling nostalgic because I had lunch today with an old friend who sat through a million hours of zoning hearings with me. Talk about your small changes in the world. Nothing like arguing about streetlights until 11:30 at night and then getting stopped on the sidewalk next day to be told that your neighbors were upwatching the hearing, and they're glad you did it. Gotta love local cable TV.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 12-13-07 9:41 PM
horizontal rule
15

9: I love that section of Tocqueville. But I think of the phenomenon he's talking about as related to the replacement of hereditary, family-linked status with profession. In other words: we still sacrifice ourselves to be engaged with the world, but it is through our jobs and not through rooted local communities. The family was substantially pulled away from productive life, so as you assume adult productive status your loyalties form around broader professional communities.

But because the division of labor is so specialized, professional loyalties might feel less "organic" and more alienating than loyalties that linked skills, production, blood relation, and local community like older ones might have. Maybe they are also less oppressive though.

My sociology is pretty much all guesswork tho...


Posted by: PerfectlyGoddamnDelightful | Link to this comment | 12-13-07 9:45 PM
horizontal rule
16

If you really want to go green, ogged, you need to channel your inner cheapskate. Make every dollar hurt. Wonder frequently about who's paying for all of this. Worry that when x. runs out, nobody will get more so you'd better make it last. Remember that everything can be repurposed: that oil drum will make a dandy backyard chimney!


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 12-13-07 9:49 PM
horizontal rule
17

However, even if it were true, it would only be the case for federal politics and policies. This is a very large country. There are a heck of a lot of things that go on at the state, local, neighborhood, and block level.

Very true, I'm way too DC-focused at the moment.


Posted by: PerfectlyGoddamnDelightful | Link to this comment | 12-13-07 9:53 PM
horizontal rule
18

Randy Cohen gave an interesting little talk about how he's opposed, in principle, to charity, since it's basically private citizens picking up where the government is failing in its duty.

(Not) being as good a person as I perceive myself to be has been a part of my own personal crisis for a year now, so I guess it's good to see that I'm not alone.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 12-13-07 9:56 PM
horizontal rule
19

Don't overthink it, O. Use the gifts you have, in the opportunities that present themselves.

I'd like to ask that the above be designated Napi Comment 1 ("NC1"), and be incorprorated by reference as if fully set forth therein in all archived threads, and in all future threads.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 12-13-07 9:58 PM
horizontal rule
20

But it's not like I'm doing a lot to get the government I want, so it's another cop-out.

Hey, you went to Ohio for the '04 election, which is more than most of us did. Of course, you managed to never actually ask that cute redheaded volunteer out, so I guess it all balances out...


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 12-13-07 10:04 PM
horizontal rule
21

17 -- It's true that not everyone gets to start in the majors. Some play minor league ball, some watch the equipment, some balance the books, and some analyze trades. I wouldn't say that every contribution is equal, but even your backroom folks play a useful part.

(That is, I call bullshit on PGD -- [redacted text that might compromise off-blog communication].)


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 12-13-07 10:07 PM
horizontal rule
22

I dunno, maybe I'm just feeling nostalgic because I had lunch today with an old friend who sat through a million hours of zoning hearings with me. Talk about your small changes in the world. Nothing like arguing about streetlights until 11:30 at night and then getting stopped on the sidewalk next day to be told that your neighbors were up watching the hearing, and they're glad you did it. Gotta love local cable TV.

This reminds me that I've been giving some serious thought lately to going into urban planning. Anyone have any thoughts on that? Good idea? Bad idea? Fair to middling?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12-13-07 10:12 PM
horizontal rule
23

redacted text that might compromise off-blog communication

s/b "redacted text that might compromise off-blog communication program related activities"


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 12-13-07 10:13 PM
horizontal rule
24

Meh, the environment is overrated.


Posted by: Lauren | Link to this comment | 12-13-07 10:13 PM
horizontal rule
25

a way to get started, Ogged.


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 12-13-07 10:14 PM
horizontal rule
26

urban planning

What about it sounds appealing to you?

(I'm not being snarky, I'm trying to figure out how to answer your question.)


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 12-13-07 10:15 PM
horizontal rule
27

I agree with Napi & disagree with PGD. The only way to get really involved in stuff is to get a little involved. But free-floating-angsty liberal guilt is a poor motivator--it's going to be hard to sustain the drive to do anything substantial in your spare time unless you enjoy it & you feel like it's getting somewhere.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 12-13-07 10:16 PM
horizontal rule
28

There's a whole research literature in sociology on people in your situation, Ogged. I mean, the question of what it is that pushes or pulls people to get involved in some cause/voluntary action/ social movement or other.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 12-13-07 10:19 PM
horizontal rule
29

What about it sounds appealing to you?

The opportunity to be involved in decision-making and policies that directly affect communities, I suppose, as well as the geographical focus. In some ways it sounds like the ideal career for me, but I also sometimes wonder if it's really all that necessary or useful to society for such a career to exist.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12-13-07 10:20 PM
horizontal rule
30

I have a friend who's brother is an urban planner. Works and lives in Shanghai and Paris. Very well paid.


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 12-13-07 10:23 PM
horizontal rule
31

whose


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 12-13-07 10:23 PM
horizontal rule
32

Not a day has gone by, since I started reading this blog, that I haven't thought to myself: Ogged really is a horrible, selfish creature.

More seriously, the end of the year approaches. Use that milestone to take stock. Figure out one small thing that you can do to make the world a better place: replace incandescents with fluorescents, volunteer at a soup kitchen, give more of your fortune away, cure AIDS in your spare time, shiv an investment banker. Whatever. Just start small. Then see if you like it, and go from there.

All of which ignores the obvious; you've done something already. Helping to create a community where misanthropic misfits interact with each other -- rather than blowing up kittens with M-80s -- ain't nothing.


Posted by: anmik | Link to this comment | 12-13-07 10:24 PM
horizontal rule
33

21: do we know each other, Napi? I can't keep track the way pseuds are changing around here.

I wasn't trying to say that only participating at a certain "level" is worthwhile. Politics doesn't divide into majors/minors -- people often get more done at the less glamorous or well-known job. DC in particular has a very high bullshit factor. What I'm trying to get at is that you should never blame yourself for not changing the world, because very few peoples' actions have grand consequences. One you've given up on judging yourself consequentially, it's just all about whether you're satisfied with the way you are in the world, whether it feels right, not whether you've satisfied some grand external demand to Make A Difference.

But speaking as someone who's made very little difference so far, this may be rationalization.


Posted by: PerfectlyGoddamnDelightful | Link to this comment | 12-13-07 10:24 PM
horizontal rule
34

30: My impression is that that's not very typical of the profession. Still, interesting data point.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12-13-07 10:25 PM
horizontal rule
35

On second thought, never mind your answer. My advice is the same no matter what: Keep your day job, and get involved in a local planning issue. Go to your civic association meeting, and hear what your neighbors are complaining about. Or look up the meeting times for your your town council or county planning commission.

Probably they have a moment (or three minutes) for public comment on whatever they're considering at the moment. Could be a homeowner who wants to build a really tall fence, could be a housing developer who wants to get rid of some inconvenient houses on his way to condo-land. Go, and listen. And then figure out a way to get involved, even on the fringes.

Do independent reading and research and the next month, YOU sign up for three minutes of public comment. Put a few hours a month into this and after a while you'll start seeing what it is that urban planners do, and how they screw things up or solve problems that nobody else could anticipate.

After six months or a year of doing this, you'll have a grounding in the issues, a background in the actual work of being an urban planner, and probably some good contacts in the planning world. You'll have a much better sense of whether you want a career in it, and what additional certification you might need if so.

Whew, that got long. This isn't really a pause/play issue. We need another set of icons. Tangent?


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 12-13-07 10:25 PM
horizontal rule
36

volunteer at a soup kitchen,

honestly more fun than it sounds!


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 12-13-07 10:25 PM
horizontal rule
37

In some ways it sounds like the ideal career for me, but I also sometimes wonder if it's really all that necessary or useful to society for such a career to exist.

necessary? no. useful, certainly. there are lots of ideas about how cities ought to work or what effects certain policies will have that are just plain wrong, and it'd be useful if the people making decisions knew such ideas when they saw them.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 12-13-07 10:26 PM
horizontal rule
38

34. aim high! i believe he has a master's in UP. not sure about any other degrees.


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 12-13-07 10:26 PM
horizontal rule
39

and yeah, as per "useful" - if you believe that people's environments have effects on their personalities and behavior, and i strongly believe this, then it seems quite useful


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 12-13-07 10:27 PM
horizontal rule
40

what I do personally doesn't really matter

I don't think this is true. What one does personally is almost always very small indeed, but it can make a great deal of difference to people. Little things add up, etc.

I think the trick is to find something that really matters to *you*. This, for instance, seems potentially Oggedian to me. Or, if you like, something like this. Or talk to a local teacher (I might know someone or two to put you in touch with) about going into schools and talking about Iran and Iranians.

Or, you know, fucking google up the local info on whatever candidate you like, and volunteer. Mr. B.'s going to Vegas this weekend to do some Obama stuff. You could do that sort of thing. (Personally I think getting involved in local politics probably makes more of a real difference, but hey.)


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12-13-07 10:27 PM
horizontal rule
41

22: Can you handle not having as much power as your enemies in the planning process? Do you really (I mean really) like democracy in action? Are you fascinated by details and willing to wade through endless prose produced by bureaucrats?

If you can answer yes to those, then I think it's a wonderful job. Many of my closest friends are planners, and they really like it. Occupational hazard: holier-than-thouism. But that's okay.


Posted by: anmik | Link to this comment | 12-13-07 10:28 PM
horizontal rule
42

I thought 35 was an answer to ogged at first, and was truly perplexed.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 12-13-07 10:29 PM
horizontal rule
43

getting ogged to be positive and energetic about leading a life more in line with his ideals: easier or harder than getting him to enter the dating pool?


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 12-13-07 10:29 PM
horizontal rule
44

the question of what it is that pushes or pulls people to get involved

Sex.

(All due respect to the literature, but I think it can be fairly summarized as such. Remember Tia's dog-rescue guy?)


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 12-13-07 10:29 PM
horizontal rule
45

35: Keep your day job, and get involved in a local planning issue. Go to your civic association meeting, and hear what your neighbors are complaining about

All depends on how diverse a neighborhood he lives in.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-13-07 10:30 PM
horizontal rule
46

Ogged, pick an issue that strikes close to home, maybe something that personally affects you or your relatives. Mexican immigration is a hot issue right now.


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 12-13-07 10:33 PM
horizontal rule
47

35: Yeah, that's basically what I've been intending to do. It would be pretty easy since I live downtown and the city office buildings where most of those meetings take place are very close to me (plus downtown is going through a lot of new development issues right now, so there's a lot of stuff going on at those meeting's that's likely to affect me directly).


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12-13-07 10:34 PM
horizontal rule
48

42: Whoops, sorry.

All depends on how diverse a neighborhood he lives in.

Yes and no. Regulations about how many residents per bedroom a house can be permitted to have? A planning issue! With super-extra-bonus racism thrown in.

(B has a good idea in her second link, at least insofar as I can speculate based on Ogged's contributions to the Flickr pool.)


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 12-13-07 10:34 PM
horizontal rule
49

there are lots of ideas about how cities ought to work or what effects certain policies will have that are just plain wrong, and it'd be useful if the people making decisions knew such ideas when they saw them.

True enough, and this is the best defense of planning as a profession that I've heard, but many of those ideas were strongly supported by planners in the past, and the failed results are all over the place. They've learned from those mistakes, of course, but how do we know that the current ideas are actually any better?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12-13-07 10:37 PM
horizontal rule
50

Can you handle not having as much power as your enemies in the planning process? Do you really (I mean really) like democracy in action? Are you fascinated by details and willing to wade through endless prose produced by bureaucrats?

Yes, yes, and yes. Maybe this is a good idea.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12-13-07 10:38 PM
horizontal rule
51

Teo: get an internship with a city government. It should be possible to check out urban planning first before committing to a degree.

Democracy in action...best to spend some time with it up close before deciding how much you like it.


Posted by: PerfectlyGoddamnDelightful | Link to this comment | 12-13-07 10:41 PM
horizontal rule
52

how do we know that the current ideas are actually any better?

We don't. But most planning is not about grand ideas. IME, anmik gets it right in 41. It's not about whether your dream of BetterHousingDevelopment will sweep the country so much as whether your little muncipality is going to follow in the footsteps of a lousy policy or a not-so-lousy one. Fifty or sixty other muncipalities have already tried one or the other, and data is all there to be learned from. The devil is in the details, etc.

Wow, it got late. Bedtime!


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 12-13-07 10:42 PM
horizontal rule
53

True enough, and this is the best defense of planning as a profession that I've heard, but many of those ideas were strongly supported by planners in the past, and the failed results are all over the place. They've learned from those mistakes, of course, but how do we know that the current ideas are actually any better?

I guess we don't KNOW that the new ideas are better. But while trying to come up with good ideas isn't any guarantee of doing so, I fervently hope that it gives better results than just pulling stuff out of one's ass or basing planning ideas on how much money they put into someone's pocket.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 12-13-07 10:43 PM
horizontal rule
54

Well, didn't see 35. I guess that's a route.

Anmik's comment was great. One of the best one-para summaries of government work I've ever seen.


Posted by: PerfectlyGoddamnDelightful | Link to this comment | 12-13-07 10:44 PM
horizontal rule
55

Regulations about how many residents per bedroom a house can be permitted to have? A planning issue! With super-extra-bonus racism thrown in.

Surely there's non crazy reasons why having 6 kids in a two bedroom apartment is a bad idea.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 12-13-07 10:45 PM
horizontal rule
56

Do we know each other, Napi?

Umm, maybe we should pick this up tomorrow.

Night all.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 12-13-07 10:46 PM
horizontal rule
57

I've been feeling guilty lately about how little good I actually do in the world. So I thought, "hey, climate change is something I care about; I should find out what I can do."

Many hours of reading later:

God, it's depressing. We basically need massive large-scale government action now to enforce strong fuel-efficiency standards, force houses and commercial buildings to be efficient, build wind turbines and nuclear power, capture and store CO2 from coal plants, stop deforestation, &c.

And all of that is just to make the problem somewhat manageable fifty years from now when we hope to have better ideas about what to do.

Far from making me want to follow through and try to do something useful, this just makes me feel like we're all fucked and there's no point.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12-13-07 10:46 PM
horizontal rule
58

It's not about whether your dream of BetterHousingDevelopment will sweep the country so much as whether your little muncipality is going to follow in the footsteps of a lousy policy or a not-so-lousy one. Fifty or sixty other muncipalities have already tried one or the other, and data is all there to be learned from. The devil is in the details, etc.

Okay, but even if those fifty or sixty municipalities have tried one or the other approach, it's unlikely that there's a clear-cut answer as to which is better. Different circumstances, confounding factors, etc. Plus the time frame is likely to be pretty short.

I'm basically playing devil's advocate here; I more or less agree that planning is useful and beneficial, but there's a lot of hostility to planning and zoning out there (especially here in the libertarian West), and sometimes I wonder if there's something to it.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12-13-07 10:47 PM
horizontal rule
59

Surely there's non crazy reasons why having 6 kids in a two bedroom apartment is a bad idea.

Sure, it's a bad idea. But the point is, should it be illegal? And what are poor people supposed to do?


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12-13-07 10:49 PM
horizontal rule
60

44: I was going to say: "peer pressure" but that's even more succinct.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 12-13-07 10:50 PM
horizontal rule
61

And what are poor people supposed to do?

Free birth control for everyone!


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 12-13-07 10:50 PM
horizontal rule
62

61: Agreed, but you can't force people to take it, and sometimes it fails, and sometimes people who are poor want big families, and sometimes people inherit nephews or nieces, etc.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12-13-07 10:56 PM
horizontal rule
63

Surely there's non crazy reasons why having 6 kids in a two bedroom apartment is a bad idea.

Sure. But regulations that seek to enforce a middle-class notion that every child in a household must have an individual bedroom tend to be, IMO, purposeful discrimination (although more class-based than race). Not to mention unrepresentative of the majority of American history.

there's a lot of hostility to planning

There is something amusing about the fact that I apparently am capable of hiding my prejudices, at least on occasion. I am actually quite hostile (maybe suspicious is a better word) towards planners. That's part of why I didn't say you should go to grad school, or even do what PGD suggested and get an internship.

My bias is that in general, a passionate, self-educated local is a better force for good neighborhood planning than a professional who is less personally invested in the long-term health of the community, not to mention answerable to a different hierarchy. Formal education can give you useful credentials in the event of a court fight, but you can usually hire an expert if it comes to that, and most of the planning issues that affect our daily lives don't get to the point of litigation.

That's a long rambling way of saying you can do awesome planning work without becoming A Planner, and if you do decide to become a planner, a little hands-on experience as an amateur may mitigate some of the holier-than-thou tendencies anmik described.

I'm going to be useless at work tomorrow. Off to bed, really.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 12-13-07 10:57 PM
horizontal rule
64

The local involvement stuff sounds good. I did some of that with the water board in Santa Barbara, and felt like I did my small part to help support saner policies. It's a matter of finding something you care about and where you can contribute. It's not a substitute for big issues, but an important complement to them.


Posted by: Bruce Baugh | Link to this comment | 12-13-07 11:03 PM
horizontal rule
65

sometimes people who are poor want big families

I sympathize with people ending up with relatives and stuff due to circumstances beyond their control, but "poor and want a shitload of kids anyways" is squarely in the land of "too fucking bad".

I don't know that there's a legislative solution to this, but for christ's sakes everybody, there's six billion people on the planet.

But regulations that seek to enforce a middle-class notion that every child in a household must have an individual bedroom

Yeah, that's madness.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 12-13-07 11:04 PM
horizontal rule
66

As long as we're not hanging puppies, we give ourselves a pass.

The first chapter of Dale Carnagie's " How to win friends and influence people" is good on this:
http://astore.amazon.com/chemistry-20/detail/0671027034


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 12-13-07 11:05 PM
horizontal rule
67

what I do personally doesn't really matter

I do a lot of dumb hippie "think globally act locally" stuff. I suppose I could kid myself it was making my difference, and maybe people seeing me cycling will think twice about driving, and maybe, maybe, maybe.

But really, it's so that when the planet does catch fire, I will be able to have the secret thought, "at least it wasn't my fault."


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 12-13-07 11:14 PM
horizontal rule
68

But really, it's so that when the planet does catch fire, I will be able to have the secret thought, "at least it wasn't my fault."

Heh, I've got a bit of that too.

We do small stuff too. Buy the efficient fluorescent light bulbs, donate clothes and such to local shelters, donate to Heifer International, etc.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 12-13-07 11:19 PM
horizontal rule
69

Me, I provide shelter, warmth and succor to the indigent and invalided. In your face!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-13-07 11:21 PM
horizontal rule
70

Sifu, living alone doesn't count.


Posted by: anmik | Link to this comment | 12-13-07 11:27 PM
horizontal rule
71

but "poor and want a shitload of kids anyways" is squarely in the land of "too fucking bad"

But prohibiting 6 people/2 bedrooms doesn't remedy this, it just makes people in the situation even worse off. You'd have to be awfully fucking sold on the idea of people as perfectly rational incentive-responsive cost-benefit machines to think that would even conceivably have any effect overpopulation whatsoever.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 12-13-07 11:31 PM
horizontal rule
72

67 is true, sure. But I think it's arrogance and immaturity, partly, to bemoan whether or not one is "really" making a difference, by which presumably we mean Changing Teh World! If you're making a difference to someone, that's a difference.

"poor and want a shitload of kids anyways" is squarely in the land of "too fucking bad".

I don't know that there's a legislative solution to this, but for christ's sakes everybody, there's six billion people on the planet.

If the issue is population, then whether or not a given family is poor is irrelevant. If the issue is poverty, then I can't get on board: kids are not a luxury good.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12-13-07 11:39 PM
horizontal rule
73

Anyhoo, on the "most of us don't do much" front, it's true. I think there's something there about the gap between what we can conceive and our day-to-day lives, which are more defined by immediate norms than by our ability to think beyond those norms.

I was reading or watching something t'other day about some family that went and lived some hippie simple life off the grid or somesuch, and the effect of that on their kids (entirely positive), and thinking about how yes, I can see that living a less materialistic, more do-it-yourself kind of life would be really a net good for PK in many, many ways. But I am never going to do that. It's sad. But then again, part of being compassionate towards the poor, etc., is recognizing that we all fail at being perfect (which is why the rhetoric of "well, they should ___" is so damn infuriating). I think the first question is, do you try? Or do you rationalize?


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12-13-07 11:48 PM
horizontal rule
74

Thanks for the advice folks, but the primary purpose of the post was to make you all feel like bad people. I have to spell everything out, don't I?


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 12:20 AM
horizontal rule
75

Hey Ogged, how come you don't do a paragraph break between different speakers, when you're transcribing dialogue? It would be easier to read. Thanks!


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 12:23 AM
horizontal rule
76

One New Year's I resolved to reduce, reuse and recycle. It was one of the few resolutions I actually achieved. It was also fun and creative.


Posted by: Annie | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 12:24 AM
horizontal rule
77

74: Eh, we already knew we're lazy. That's why we're here.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 12:24 AM
horizontal rule
78

Ogged can feel good about not having a bunch of damn kids he can't afford.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 12:29 AM
horizontal rule
79

Surely there's non crazy reasons why having 6 kids in a two bedroom apartment is a bad idea.

I had 3 kids in a one bedroom apartment. Crib in the Kitchen, baby.


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 1:00 AM
horizontal rule
80

I think Capra was right--one's "value" lies in an intricate web of relationships and encounters over time, not to be too serious here. the idea of the movie was to point out how natural an emotion it is to quickly forget all those small generosities. isn't "it" about encouraging others by not being a total prick?


Posted by: mookles | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 1:01 AM
horizontal rule
81

Santa is scary because he comes out in force, takes the MTA (and by take, I mean, Take), drinks heavily, and demands good cheer. "You better watch out, you better watch out, you better watch out, you better watch out..."


Posted by: fishbane | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 1:04 AM
horizontal rule
82

I am also in the lazy and doesn't really do much camp.

re: green-ness: I recycle some stuff, use low-energy bulbs and drive a car with a fairly low petrol consumption and don't do an enormous amount of mileage. But, let's face it, I do still drive a car.

re: political activism/charities. I give money to a couple of political pressure groups/NGOs, write the occasional letter to MPs/ministers, have done a bit of leafleting, gone on the odd march, etc. But, relatively speaking, that's nothing.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 1:06 AM
horizontal rule
83

I pissed on a Bush Cheney sign once. Does that count?


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 2:35 AM
horizontal rule
84

I also have a number of friends who are urban planners, including both people who've been doing it for quite a while and someone who only just recently got his degree and landed a career position. All of them also did lots of related volunteer work before going professional. I know that all of them are very happy to talk about the job, the training process, the getting-involved process and pretty much everything else to do with urban planning, so if you're interested, Teo, I'd be happy to put you in touch with one or more of them. The degree to which working as a "planner" involves doing zoning and actual planning vs. working as advisors to local government and local businesses can vary a lot from municipality to municipality.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 5:45 AM
horizontal rule
85

if one's work overlaps with doing good it helps
i for example work on cancer research and feel like contributing something without doing anything further, a lot of crappy data though
but may be i'll adopt a child after coming home
if i will feel myself responsible and reliable enough


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 6:08 AM
horizontal rule
86

kids are not a luxury good

Sure they are. I don't see any way that they aren't in 1st world countries anyway. They don't provide cheap manual labor anymore and we don't rely on large close knit extended families for community support much anymore so I don't see how they are much more than a luxury good anymore.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 6:45 AM
horizontal rule
87

i for example work on cancer research

ah this explains
i've known some people like that
they have a distinctive typing style


Posted by: Standpipe Bridgeplate | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 6:51 AM
horizontal rule
88

the question of what it is that pushes or pulls people to get involved: Sex.


A former colleague of mine went to work for an organization that is sort of a clearinghouse for urban professionals looking for volunteer opportunties (either because they are vaguely socially conscious or they need something to put on their B-School applications). My colleague said very bluntly that one of their biggest problems was that the organization has a reputation as a good place for lonely singles to meet someone, and that the pace of volunteer activity drops off markedly after the participants hook up.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 6:59 AM
horizontal rule
89

86: Children are increasingly expensive to raise, because you can't put them to work on the farm or send them out to work as chimney sweeps or factory hands. But they are most emphatically not a luxury item. The economy requires workers, taxpayers, payers of social security premiums, and you can't just order them from a catalogue, fully assembled, you (or if not you, then somebody else) has to more or less make them from scratch.

The lack of young people, relative to the large number of old people, is becoming a real problem in many European countries (and also Japan). If you want to have large numbers of retirees living into their eighties, you have to replenish the supply at the other end. Not a luxury item.


Posted by: Invisible Adjunct | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 7:02 AM
horizontal rule
90

Children are increasingly expensive to raise

I'm dropping roughly $1800 per month on daycare.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 7:12 AM
horizontal rule
91

if one's work overlaps with doing good it helps

Oh, good. 'Cause in my job, I have made a small but measurable contribution to heightening the contradictions in the bourgeois capitalist order, thus bringing the proletarian revolution that much closer.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 7:21 AM
horizontal rule
92

what about freedom of speech and expression?
people keep picking on my distinctive typing style :(
what if i just want to hide deliberately mistakes conscious or unconscious, skipping commas and dots
please read on autocorrect


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 7:26 AM
horizontal rule
93

If you want to have large numbers of retirees living into their eighties, you have to replenish the supply at the other end. Not a luxury item

Unfortunately for the current system to work you need above linear population growth which I think is itself unsustainable so I think that system is eventually screwed anyway. I think we should look at population decline. This is going to cause obvious short and medium term problems.

You can kind of order them fully made through immigration. Someone has to have the children, but it doesn't have to be anyone in this country. I am not saying that is a good idea, but you could outsource population growth.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 7:27 AM
horizontal rule
94

I am also not saying people shouldn't have luxury goods. I have a dog which is probably more of a luxury good in some sense than a child since it really doesn't contribute to society much at all. It is of course much cheaper than a child. I am just saying that at least in the US children are luxury goods.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 7:35 AM
horizontal rule
95

read on autocorrect

This is what's wanted, yes.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 7:35 AM
horizontal rule
96

The lack of young people, relative to the large number of old people, is becoming a real problem in many European countries (and also Japan). If you want to have large numbers of retirees living into their eighties, you have to replenish the supply at the other end.

Sorry, but this natalist stuff is to a degree right-wing propaganda. If we want to downshift to a lower global population, which I think is an entirely natural and healthy response to a declining need for children as old age and sickness insurance, then there will be a couple of generations where there are more old than young people. There's no material reason why a healthy economy cannot handle this situation. Just like we handled several generations with many more children than productive adults.


Posted by: PerfectlyGoddamnDelightful | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 7:46 AM
horizontal rule
97

hey, this sounds like a good cause.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 7:47 AM
horizontal rule
98

Back to the original post -- it's funny how different people react to things. I'm in the same position --vaguely save-the-world type beliefs, no effective actions other than a little (shamefully little) charitable giving and political giving. I've got a fairly small environmental footprint for an American with two kids, but that's not living according to my beliefs, that's just because I like apartment living. But my overall reaction to this is "Come the revolution, I'm going to be one of the first up against the wall," rather than believing that I'm a basically good person. (This doesn't do any more actual good, it just colors my day with a seething undercurrent of guilt.)

The real problem is picking something to obsess over and then maybe do something about. Malaria in Africa? Voting machines? Encouraging dense, pedestrian and bike friendly development? Local food banks? The number of things out there that need fixing is just overwhelming, and I find it paralyzing.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 7:48 AM
horizontal rule
99

Children are increasingly expensive to raise, because you can't put them to work on the farm or send them out to work as chimney sweeps or factory hands. But they are most emphatically not a luxury item.

Just to be clear tho, I don't think children are a "luxury item" either, I think that's a category error. Luxury items are expressions of purely material desires, whereas the desire to have children is much more basic. It's an expression of love and the desire to share one's life with another human being in a particular sort of way (involving diapers). Society should collectively support people who have children, it's a basic human desire that does produce benefits for all (and harm when kids are raised badly). But we shouldn't do it because of some supposed economic need to have a constant or expanding population level.


Posted by: PerfectlyGoddamnDelightful | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 7:59 AM
horizontal rule
100

80 to 98.

Isn't globalized guilt a big waste of emotion? It accomplishes nothing. LB, maybe your problem is that you just don't like your job, so you don't feel productive in general. Once you feel productive in your little corner of the world then you won't obsess about the near-infinite amount of stuff you're *not* doing.

OK, now I have to go back to work. I'm starting to feel guilty.


Posted by: PerfectlyGoddamnDelightful | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 8:04 AM
horizontal rule
101

"The number of things out there that need fixing is just overwhelming, and I find it paralyzing"

I get this. I would say: definitely pick the one that grabs you the most, or that you think your skills best match with, or where the coolest-sounding opportunity presents itself, or where you know & like someone who can plug you in. Which you probably already know, & which doesn't necessarily prevents paralysis, but trying to rank the issues & work on the most important is almost guaranteed to depress you & drive you nuts.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 8:05 AM
horizontal rule
102

Isn't globalized guilt a big waste of emotion? It accomplishes nothing.

Absolutely true, but you have the visceral reaction to being better off than 99% of the people on the planet that you have.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 8:06 AM
horizontal rule
103

The number of things out there that need fixing is just overwhelming, and I find it paralyzing.

Right, people who have internalized B's "if you're making a difference to someone" advice are a mysterious, superior breed.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 8:06 AM
horizontal rule
104

97: It's clear now: I should start making a difference by signing up with Blackwater.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 8:10 AM
horizontal rule
105

Oh, come now, people. You can so "make a difference", and you don't need to wait until you've exploited enough people to get really rich, either.

Where do you think big social movements come from? They come from small ones. It is the classical mistake of both left and right to assume that one moment/action/situation will raise a movement and create change. And there are lots of small groups to join.

Or you can donate, say, $100 to a small group. I bet a lot of those immigrants' rights groups (probably one in your very city!) would love $100 and would make excellent use of it. Or you can go to talks and documentaries and stuff and thus give money and create momentum. Or you can write letters to your elected representatives on important but insufficiently-publicized matters, thereby almost certainly actually swaying legislative decision-making.

For pete's sake, join Amnesty International or something and write letters. For all its flaws, AI actually does get some people out of jail. Or donate subscriptions of good magazines to high schools.

If you think either in terms of trying to help a very particular demographic or trying to build momentum for social justice generally, there's lots of useful things to do. If you're thinking that you'll get out there for a few hours and then the whole world will be changed, that's probably your problem.

The whole problem with this Baader-Meinhof thinking is the idea that the revolution will arrive not only unexpectedly, like the Messiah (and which trendy theorist talks about that? I can't remember right now) but that it will arrive without any boring prep-work.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 8:15 AM
horizontal rule
106

Or did 105 sound too sanctimonious? Possibly.

It's just that for once I am full of political optimism!


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 8:17 AM
horizontal rule
107

Perhaps a comfortable life shelters us from real choices. If connections to others are mostly disposable, demands for meaningful personal sacrifice are rare, and always personal in the sense of coming from a particular dependent (usually child or parent). The closest most of us come to an environment where small decisions carry moral weight in the sense of having an effect on others is the workplace, which can be atomized and laced with fucked-up incentives. The inner glow of righteousness comes from supporting diligent colleague X professionally when you had the chance to do otherwise without fear of serious repercussion. Other parents in a school could potentially form a similar community, but the ties are pretty weak if the school is OK, and I imagine pretty frustrating if the school is not.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 8:17 AM
horizontal rule
108

"...she had a wonderful will for inanity"

Georges Bataille on SW

I was trying to find where SW says good works harm everyone, but the recursion(?) of posting the above quote in this thread was irresistible.

"The future will be no different than the past" ...SW


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 8:19 AM
horizontal rule
109

Yay Frowner!

(And the last line of 105 made me smile.)


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 8:22 AM
horizontal rule
110

"...but that [the revolution] will arrive without any boring prep-work."

The catastrophe, the cataclysm will arrive without prep work, like 9/11 or Iraq or Katrina. It will arrive quite often. Most liberals were unable to use those cataclysms for social change. But the other side dod take advantage & profit from those catastrophes of our age. Why is that? Organization, ideology, attitude? It is not as if we did not have these examples before our eyes.

Lenin didn't bring an army with him to the Finland station. The Castro/Che army fit in a small boat.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 8:28 AM
horizontal rule
111

108: From George Bataille to Simone Weill? That's much scarier than even Santa with a chainsaw. Of course, it's sort of like "from A to B and back again", at least in terms of where it gets you politically.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 8:30 AM
horizontal rule
112

110: And of course neither Lenin nor Che had done any sort of preliminary organizing or prep work of any sort, and there hadn't been, you know, any kind of social movements in Russia before the revolution. That's what makes Lenin so remarkable, you know. The hero of the hour who understood those mysterious historical forces and achieved everything on his own.



Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 8:33 AM
horizontal rule
113

I'm dropping roughly $1800 per month on daycare.

Oh. My. FUCKING. GOD.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 8:40 AM
horizontal rule
114

Yeah, ditto what gswift said. The Unfoggetariat will take those buggers off your hands for nothing.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 8:41 AM
horizontal rule
115

112:Are you aware of Stalin's reaction when Lenin handed him the plan at the train station? They thought he was fucking crazy. Did Kerensky not have backing ideology or organization? Did not the Mensheviks have more ideological support from socialist history?

Lenin & Trotsky calling for "No More War" and eventually Brest-Litovsk were in vicious opposition to most of European socialists since Zimmerwald. Most socialists called for nationalism & war as a way to infiltrate and co-opt their local parliaments. The parliamentary socialists aren't remembered because they quietly gained many of their goals.

But that isn't my point. The point is to look at 9/11 & Katrina and ask why one side won everything with those opportunities.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 8:52 AM
horizontal rule
116

daycare

About what an au pair + extra car works out to.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 8:53 AM
horizontal rule
117

Infant and a toddler makes for expensive daycare. We're not even in one of the fancy-schmancy places; this is just a church near where Roberta works. And yet, it still makes more sense than having Roberta stay home with them, putting the entire family on my health insurance plan, and getting no 401(k)/benefits/etc. from her job.

It fucking sucks.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 8:53 AM
horizontal rule
118

It's also why every time I hear a politician start up about "family values", I want to smash them in the face with a bottle.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 8:55 AM
horizontal rule
119

116: I was kind of thinking what lw said; if you've got a bedroom to put them in, you could get a live-in au pair for less than that, couldn't you?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 8:58 AM
horizontal rule
120

if you've got a bedroom to put them in

And if frogs had wings...


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 8:59 AM
horizontal rule
121

Infant and a toddler makes for expensive daycare.

Yeah, that's why I've been working swing and grave shifts for the last 8 years or so.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 8:59 AM
horizontal rule
122

Katrina:We had Geraldo & FNC scum crying on national tv for starving dying people. We had bourgeois suburbanites shooting refugees. We had terminal fuckups by Bushco FEMA.

The Reds got a Republican Louisiana & tons of graft. Liberals got nuthin. Well, ok maybe the pointless useless discouraging dispiriting 2006 Congress. Whoopee.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 9:00 AM
horizontal rule
123

119: I should certainly hope so. That's more money than I make, and I have to pay rent out of it, and I can still save money.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 9:01 AM
horizontal rule
124

That is to say, we are a five-person family in a three-bedroom house that is already way too small.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 9:01 AM
horizontal rule
125

Eh. I don't know from people who live in houses -- I assume all you people have spare bedrooms. We couldn't possibly have had another adult living in our apartment unless they slept on the living room couch, but I think of people in the rest of the US as having infinite space.

Oh, well. This too shall pass -- they'll all be in school before you know it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 9:02 AM
horizontal rule
126

117
can't you hire a nanny for less?
not necessarily illegal


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 9:02 AM
horizontal rule
127

120 see 116: the au pair can sleep in the car.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 9:04 AM
horizontal rule
128

I'd think that too -- $1,800 is plenty and more for a live-in, but couldn't you find a full-time live-out nanny for that much? With taxes and so on, you wouldn't be paying much at all, but if I'm estimating the math right, you'd still come out over the minimum wage.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 9:05 AM
horizontal rule
129

115: I'm assuming that we misunderstand each other; my point was that being all "ooh, look, inane!" because people propose their drab little political projects ignores the vast degree to which drab little political projects forward other ones. Yes, drab little political projects can certainly lead to bad big projects, or nowhere, et patati et patata. But this intensely romantic bit about the crazeee geniuses who seize the moment and aren't held back by silly bourgeois ideas about prudence and deliberation--that's just as much an artifact of cozy life in the developed west as is "oh, I can't do anything".

I can make a lot of suggestions about why the bad guys "won" Katrina; many of them would be "the left didn't do boring prep work and hence had no infrastructure to respond with, neither in material terms nor ideologically."

The point isn't "oh, you have to do plodding daily stuff and never ever do anything dramatic/violent/radical"; the point is to develop both material conditions and knowledge so that you can make a revolution that will last past, say, 1927.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 9:07 AM
horizontal rule
130

I should certainly hope so

The agency that's necessary for a visa takes a big cut, the kid doesn't get that much. Nannies worked out to a lot more after we checked. Yes, you need the extra space, which means living in the burbs.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 9:10 AM
horizontal rule
131

I'm assuming that we misunderstand each other; my point was that being all "ooh, look, inane!" because people propose their drab little political projects ignores the vast degree to which drab little political projects forward other ones. Yes, drab little political projects can certainly lead to bad big projects, or nowhere, et patati et patata.

Where I get stalled there, is on any sense that the infrastructure/organization/whatever built by my involvement in drab little political projects will go toward any positive, as opposed to useless or harmful, end. I suppose there's no way to know the effects of anything, but that's what stops me -- not feeling that there's a movement whose goals I can really endorse that I'd be aiding by getting politically involved.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 9:11 AM
horizontal rule
132

130: Oh, you wouldn't get someone from overseas unless you had live-in space. I was thinking of a local person who needed a job.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 9:11 AM
horizontal rule
133

I don't see how they are much more than a luxury good anymore.

They are people. People are not goods.

Society should collectively support people who have children

Since children *are* people, the end of the sentence is unnecessary.

people who have internalized B's "if you're making a difference to someone" advice are a mysterious, superior breed.

You know it, baby.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 9:14 AM
horizontal rule
134

Re "what are *you* doing?"

I, for one, do not own a car; Mr. B. and I share. This means that from this afternoon until Monday he will be in Vegas working on the Obama stuff and I'll be single-momming it with no car in the suburby part of town. *And* I'll be generating an art curriculum for my kid's school, free of charge, because art funding is not a priority of the state of California.

You may all send me letters of admiration. Preferably on recycled paper, of course.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 9:17 AM
horizontal rule
135

Oh, plus, if the freezer trick unsticks my old hard drive enough for me to get my CV off it, I'll be updating that and sending it out to see if I can pick up a class or two in the spring.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 9:19 AM
horizontal rule
136

129:that being all "ooh, look, inane!"

I wondered if anyone would get that joke, and so I added text that I hoped would give a hint. I though posting the quote on inanity was itself inane; the comment was itself inane, and a joke on myself. A "will to inanity" felt descriptive of most of my comments, my project, aww fuck too many levels of irony here.

But it is exactly why I have fallen in love with Weil
The "will to inanity" is transcendentally beautiful, and even on topic.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 9:20 AM
horizontal rule
137

local person who needed a job

When we investigated, that's tractable only if your schedule has flexibility. People were either unstable or were moms who wanted to supplement but couldn't quite cover all workdays week after week.

Kids v pets has so many interesting dimensions, but even the superficial people I know really love their kids, even if they have defects that keep them from acting on that feeling consistently enough for optimal childcare.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 9:24 AM
horizontal rule
138

When we investigated, that's tractable only if your schedule has flexibility.

Yeah, that is the downside of the bottom end of the babysitter market. Nancy was so reliable and so generally great that I forget.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 9:27 AM
horizontal rule
139

131:"I suppose there's no way to know the effects of anything, but that's what stops me"

The "will to inanity" can liberate and empower past Situationism to really really big puppets and starting a compost heap. It is caring about consequences (Weil was a radical anti-utilitarian) that paralyzes. Liberalism is, in its Burkean origins, the responsible ideology. It is intrinsically conservative.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 9:29 AM
horizontal rule
140

96

I agree. There is no fundamental problem with a slowly declining population. Relatively more unproductive old people are balanced by relatively fewer unproductive children.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 9:29 AM
horizontal rule
141

They are people. People are not goods.

This seems more of a semantics issue rather than an issue with the idea. What if I called them luxury things. People are things. I could say my dog isn't a good and therefore he isn't a luxury good, but I don't think that changes that fact that me having a dog is a luxury.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 9:31 AM
horizontal rule
142

$425 a week minus taxes for full time child care of 3 kids sounds obscene in the opposite direction to me.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 9:32 AM
horizontal rule
143

It's still different. It's culturally a lot easier to round up unpaid family childcare than senior care -- seniors tend to need services involving actual medical training, and taking care of them is less emotionally rewarding. I think shrinking world (and US) population is a good thing, so we need to suck it up and take the hit, but you can't think of one unproductive old person as the equivalent of one unproductive child.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 9:32 AM
horizontal rule
144

Nanny rates in this area for a single child, once you figure in taxes and everything, come to about $30K/year. For two kids, obviously, it would be more.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 9:35 AM
horizontal rule
145

(142 may be overly influenced by big-city cost of living though)


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 9:35 AM
horizontal rule
146

141: Dogs *are* goods, at least in our society. The point of the semantic "people aren't goods" thing is to counteract the otherwise dominant tendency of people to act as if pregnancy and childbirth weren't a basic human function, and as if children were the "belongings" of their parents, rather than human beings whose rights are the same as yours.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 9:36 AM
horizontal rule
147

I think I was overcorrecting for a presumed cost-of-living difference between NY and NC.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 9:36 AM
horizontal rule
148

But in any case -- yes, childcare=crazy expensiveness.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 9:39 AM
horizontal rule
149

Dogs *are* goods

Tell Michael Vick. You can destroy goods you own with impunity. They're substitute kids in so many ways that must be left unstated. Consider the nice lady whose pet monkey, Armani, was just returned to her.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 9:41 AM
horizontal rule
150

141: Except they're not. They're persons, unproductive ones, certainly, but they're not the sort of thing that we can measure in terms of dollars and cents or numbers of Cadillacs. It's a pretty short step from believing that kids are luxury goods to believing that poor people shouldn't have them and the state should be able to stop them.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 9:45 AM
horizontal rule
151

131

"Where I get stalled there, is on any sense that the infrastructure/organization/whatever built by my involvement in drab little political projects will go toward any positive, as opposed to useless or harmful, end. I suppose there's no way to know the effects of anything, but that's what stops me -- not feeling that there's a movement whose goals I can really endorse that I'd be aiding by getting politically involved."

This makes no sense at all to me. I am lazy and feel no great obligation to improve the world anyway but if for some reason I wanted to there are lots of useful things I could do.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 9:46 AM
horizontal rule
152

they're not the sort of thing that we can measure in terms of dollars and cents

Well, unless you're raising them for food.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 9:48 AM
horizontal rule
153

Am I the only one that thinks it's really fucking bizarre that had Vick crashed his car due to being drunk, assaulted someone, or been convicted of date rape, he'd likely have received less of a sentence than he would have for harming some dogs?

I realize I'm decidedly unsentimental about animals but the level of outrage is crazy.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 9:48 AM
horizontal rule
154

Tell Michael Vick. You can destroy goods you own with impunity. They're substitute kids in so many ways that must be left unstated. Consider the nice lady whose pet monkey, Armani, was just returned to her.

In Virginia, you cannot use deadly force to defend property. Pets are property.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 9:49 AM
horizontal rule
155

Since we're all over the place in this thread, and since we've been discussion Katrina, here is a link to something about resistance to demolishing low-income housing in New Orleans (from, by the way, a simply fantastic blog).


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 9:56 AM
horizontal rule
156

I, for one, do not own a car; Mr. B. and I share. This means that from this afternoon until Monday he will be in Vegas working on the Obama stuff and I'll be single-momming it with no car in the suburby part of town. *And* I'll be generating an art curriculum for my kid's school, free of charge, because art funding is not a priority of the state of California.

Wow, bitch, that is just so admirable! You are great!

There! I provided encouragement for someone doing good, and I didn't waste any paper!

That, along with riding the bus to work, should be enough to keep me feeling good about myself for another year.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 10:01 AM
horizontal rule
157

151: There's two things going on. First, is whatever small practical good you yourself are doing, and of course you're right that there are plenty of small practical good things to do out there. But second is what Frowner was talking about, movement building -- by becoming engaged in small organizations, you create political power that can be appropriated and directed toward larger ends. And there, the 'larger ends' worry me -- or rather, the fact that the 'larger ends' don't seem easily controlled at the individual participant level.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 10:05 AM
horizontal rule
158

Ouch. Yeah. Although I think we overestimate the extent to which people who do Try And Make A Difference are doing it just because, or doing it just because, plus self-regard and self-interest.

I haven't read the thread, so I hope this isn't repetitive, and I don't mean to say that Everyone Is Selfish or whatever.

But as someone whose actual job is helping poor people, even I feel like I'm not doing very much. The problem is that whatever you're doing, as soon as you start becoming used to it you harden a little, just so it doesn't hurt as much.

Obviously, I love helping people and I think the work I do is really important, but I would be kidding myself if I didn't acknowledge that part of the reason I do it is because it assists me in maintaining my conception of myself as a strong person who hunkers down and makes shit happen for people. And because my job is crazy. Bizarre shit happens every single day. It can be hard, and draining, and infuriating, but it's never boring.

So not only does it help me maintain my self-conception, but it also is the only kind of job I think I could succeed in and enjoy. And part of that is because it always seems like life-or-death, and sometimes I feel a little dirty getting my exciting work life from other peopel's misfortunes.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 10:16 AM
horizontal rule
159

Am I the only one that thinks it's really fucking bizarre that had Vick crashed his car due to being drunk, assaulted someone, or been convicted of date rape, he'd likely have received less of a sentence than he would have for harming some dogs?

Indeed, of the multiple NFL players I can think of who've done any of those things, none went to jail or were suspended for more than a quarter of a season.

Marijuana use and animal cruelty are the real unforgivable crimes.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 10:18 AM
horizontal rule
160

158: Good people are so hard on themselves!

Lousy people like me have all kinds of clever excuses and rationalizations....but someone who actually chose to get in work that helps people worries that her motives aren't perfectly pure.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 10:21 AM
horizontal rule
161

In Virginia, you cannot use deadly force to defend property. Pets are property.

I predict jury nullification in any case involving a defendant going after against a person who was going all David Huckabee on the defendant's dog. Maybe not if the defendant killed him, but otherwise . . . people like dogs.


Posted by: Amber | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 10:28 AM
horizontal rule
162

And there, the 'larger ends' worry me -- or rather, the fact that the 'larger ends' don't seem easily controlled at the individual participant level.

LB, are you saying here that you worry you may end up inadvertently contributing to a revolution that won't turn out so well? Like maybe we'll wind up with ogged as dictator and he'll start executing people right and left?


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 10:32 AM
horizontal rule
163

Well, maybe sort of kind of. More like Ralph Nader -- voting for him wasn't much in the way of participation, but my thinking when I did it was "Yeah, show The Man that there's a sizeable number of people out to the left of the Democratic Party looking for someone to vote for." And see how that turned out.

This isn't well thought through, and the answer is, I suppose, do as much research as you can, and do what you can despite not knowing how it's going to turn out, but that's the sort of thing that I find tends to make my thoughts of activism stall.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 10:38 AM
horizontal rule
164

but my thinking when I did

Huh.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 10:39 AM
horizontal rule
165

Oh, I've been out of the closet as a 2000 Nader voter (but in NY! It was okay! I didn't hurt anything! It wasn't my fault!) here for ages -- half the site fessed up, if I recall correctly.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 10:41 AM
horizontal rule
166

165: I want to say that it's telling, both about you and the commentariat; I can't, unfortunately, really see how to make that case. But I'll work on it!


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 10:47 AM
horizontal rule
167

I've been out of the closet as a 2000 Nader voter

Damn, I did not know that (or if I did, I had forgotten). And here I was, having very nearly convinced myself that LB's opinions were a perfect proxy for my own! (My own view on Gore: 2nd greatest person to win a major party nomination for President in the 20th century.)


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 10:50 AM
horizontal rule
168

1.) On the expense of childcare. A friend of mine has a nanny, and it's got to cost a lot. She works for a medium-sized firm, so she's not making a big law salary, but I assume that her salary is pretty good. She's been there nearly 8 years, and she's coming up for partner. She's likely to make it, since everyone who's lasted that long at her firm has. Anyway, the nanny (through an agency which probably pays for health benefits) costs fully half of her salary. Daycare wouldn't work, sicne she can't just leave to pick up the kid, and her husband travels a lot on business.

2.) It's only recently that I've come around to thinking of myself as a basically decent person. For most of my life I loathed myself in just the way that ogged wants us to.

3.) Frowner was talking about getting involved in particular movements on a small scale. I find this frustrating. I visit a guy in prison who's going to college. (Even now, I'm looking for some resources to help him. Anybody know anything about New England culture that might inform a paper on Robert Frost? Unfortunately, I don't have time to mail him anything, and I can't pass him anything on my visit to him tomorrow.) I care a lot about prison rehabilitation programs, about the overcrowding and excessive numbers of people in prison and the poor medical care--particularly mental health care--available in prison. Until recently prisoners coudl vote in MA, but there's not a big voting constituency for making life better for prisoners, so I feel useless when I call my rep. And prison life is so arbitrary, the ruels are inconsistently enforced, that people's heads are messed with. Part of what is so dispiriting is that there was a time when rehabilitation was taken seriously, and I feel that even if I can make a dent in the system, the tide will turn back again. The "liberals are soft on crime" meme is pretty well entrenched.

And although I've come to have more respect for unions, I still don't have a lot of respect for the Corrections Officers Union. The situation here is not as bad as the one in California, but they have every interest in having more people in prison.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 10:51 AM
horizontal rule
169

I've warmed up to him a lot in the last seven years. Back in 2000, my sense was "Great, another moderate conservative. Infinitely better than Bush, but in NY my vote doesn't swing anything, so why not send a message."


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 10:52 AM
horizontal rule
170

The point of the semantic "people aren't goods" thing is to counteract the otherwise dominant tendency of people to act as if pregnancy and childbirth weren't a basic human function, and as if children were the "belongings" of their parents, rather than human beings whose rights are the same as yours.

I really don't see childbirth as a basic human function. It is something that many people want to do and is a basic human possibility, but isn't a requirement. Obviously, we are coming from different base assumptions so I doubt we will reach consensus.

I think it is possible to say that children aren't goods, but the decision to have them seems like a luxury decision to me.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 10:58 AM
horizontal rule
171

157

"There's two things going on. First, is whatever small practical good you yourself are doing, and of course you're right that there are plenty of small practical good things to do out there. But second is what Frowner was talking about, movement building -- by becoming engaged in small organizations, you create political power that can be appropriated and directed toward larger ends. And there, the 'larger ends' worry me -- or rather, the fact that the 'larger ends' don't seem easily controlled at the individual participant level."

This seems awfully hypothetical to me. You could work with several groups, not get too invested in any particular one and abandon a group if it changed in a way you didn't like.

Or if you really distrust other people you could work to create groups with you as dictator. Not exactly unheard of in left circles (Nader?).


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 11:06 AM
horizontal rule
172

I never had the slightest desire to vote for Nader. I saw him as a disaster from the start.

Just though I'd come out.


Posted by: PerfectlyGoddamnDelightful | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 11:24 AM
horizontal rule
173

Yeah, I wasn't really worried by what sort of President he'd make, because clearly that wasn't going to happen. I was thinking of it as signaling an unsatisfied leftist vote out there.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 11:26 AM
horizontal rule
174

I really don't see childbirth as a basic human function. It is something that many people want to do and is a basic human possibility, but isn't a requirement. Obviously, we are coming from different base assumptions so I doubt we will reach consensus.

Different base assumptions, for sure. What has it been -- maybe 40 years of semi-reliable access to birth control, and maybe 30 years of semi-reliable access to legal abortion? CJB, I don't like generational arguments when people make them to me, but to me the assumptions that you outline are breathtaking, because for almost the entirety of human history they would have been impossible.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 11:54 AM
horizontal rule
175

If Gore had won in 2000, then today we'd probably either have Lieberman as the uncontested frontrunner for the Democratic nomination, or else some Republican incumbent running for reelection. I'd need a lot more detail to be at all convinced that our actual timeline isn't better.

I still hold it against Gore that he blew the most consequential election of my lifetime and probably my parents' too. And I don't regret my Nader vote. Do these things contradict each other? I don't think so, anyway.


Posted by: mano negra | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 11:56 AM
horizontal rule
176

Do these things contradict each other?

Yes, they do. You hold it against him for "blowing" an election he actually won, in which you joined the group of windmill-tilters that voted for the vanity candidate.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 11:59 AM
horizontal rule
177

I'd need a lot more detail to be at all convinced that our actual timeline isn't better.

I think God knows how many dead Iraqis settles that one handily. The Clinton-Gore administration was more warmongering than I liked, but I never saw any reason to think Gore would start a full-scale war for the hell of it, the way Bush did.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 12:00 PM
horizontal rule
178

As a candidate it was his job to convince people to vote for him. By failing to convince enough people to vote for him, he lost the election. As one of those people I feel intensely that he should've done a better job. Maybe if he'd painted an accurate picture of the perils of Bushism I'd blame myself, but I do not recall that being the case.

I'm not at all sure that Iraq wasn't invaded in either of those other two timelines. Maybe in the other timeline they invaded Iran too. If Gore was such a dove, what's with that VP pick? Does Lieberman want war less than Cheney? Enough to matter?


Posted by: mano negra | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 12:10 PM
horizontal rule
179

I'm not at all sure that Iraq wasn't invaded in either of those other two timelines.

See, that's just weird. Not invading Iraq didn't make you a dove, it made you 'not faking intelligence to provide an excuse to invade for no reason'. Clinton-Gore spent eight years not invading Iraq. There was no reason to invade Iraq in 2003 that didn't exist during those eight years, other than those invented by the Bush administration out of whole cloth. Why would you think invading Iraq would have occured to Gore?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 12:12 PM
horizontal rule
180

Frowner is rocking the hell out of this thread. Go Frowner!

Frowner was talking about getting involved in particular movements on a small scale. I find this frustrating [...] I feel useless when I call my rep.

You have confused "issue" for "movement". My feeling is that one should help people, and one should help movements, but individual action on issues is going to frustrate you. If there's an organization that advocates for prisoners' rights, join it, but you calling your rep on your own will accomplish very little. It's a good thing to do -- god bless you for keeping alive the notion that there are people who think that keeping convicts under the umbrella of humanity -- but without strategic political engagement, it will not accomplish anything. It's like poetry.

$100 to an immigrant-rights organization is a great idea.

People shouldn't underestimate the value of starting out with a little following. There are organizations that may not want your strategic input right away, but go to a few meetings, trust them enough to get on their program, and you'll find yourself doing a bit of leading. There are groups like LAANE in Los Angeles, EBASE in Oakland, CPI in San Diego and various Jobs With Justice chapters across the country that have really learned how to use the political process in pursuit of specific legislative goals that make a difference in people's lives -- living wage laws are the best example, but they've also done a lot with redevelopment and land use explicitly in favor of poor people. They participate in politics as much as they need to in order to effect change, which may be a better fit for some here than just supporting candidates (I do that too). If you really don't like going to meetings, or people in general, $100 to a local organization is much appreciated.

Also, yeah: change those lightbulbs out.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 12:12 PM
horizontal rule
181

Gore loses reelection in 2004 and the intelligence-fakers get their kicks in a few years later than they otherwise would have. Or maybe President Lieberman starts an even worse war with Iran in 2010. I don't know how likely either of these were, but neither do I think that Gore winning election in 2000 would've stopped American foreign aggression for all time. Indeed, with every passing month it looks more like Bush's invasion of Iraq has managed to discredit war as much as Vietnam did, and at much less human cost.


Posted by: mano negra | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 12:23 PM
horizontal rule
182

There is something amusing about the fact that I apparently am capable of hiding my prejudices, at least on occasion. I am actually quite hostile (maybe suspicious is a better word) towards planners.

Don't worry, it came through loud and clear.

My bias is that in general, a passionate, self-educated white middle-class local is a better force for good neighborhood planning than a professional who is less personally invested in the long-term health of the community, not to mention answerable to a different hierarchy.

Fixed that for you.

And that's really the basic issue. In communities composed primarily of people who are demographically similar to most professional planners, passionate locals can do much of what planners do at least as well. Not all communities are like that, though, and while many of them can of course do similar things, they face a lot more obstacles (many of them, to be sure, put up by the government and institutions in which professional planners play a large role). Plus, that sort of activism really only works on a very small scale, basically limited to the neighborhood (or small-town) level, whereas many of the most important issues operate at the citywide or even regional level.

Anyway, the issue for me is not ultimately whether planners do anything that needs professional training for, because the system of professional training and jobs is there already and it isn't going anywhere, but whether it's a worthwhile thing for me personally to devote my life to. Given that I have to do something with my life, is this a reasonable choice? I'm still undecided.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 12:24 PM
horizontal rule
183

It is interesting stuff. Have you looked at David Sucher's blog, City Comforts (I'd have to google for the URL)? It's off and on, but there's good urban planning stuff in the archives.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 12:32 PM
horizontal rule
184

181: That still looks to me like a net profit of X00,000 lives times seven years, plus maybe it wouldn't happen at all. But we're far enough apart that it's probably not worth arguing.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 12:34 PM
horizontal rule
185

with every passing month it looks more like Bush's invasion of Iraq has managed to discredit war as much as Vietnam did

There's a Walter Benjamin line that I wish I could find where he responds to the Nach Hitler, uns crowd by saying, more or less, "the worst that things can get before they have to get better is total annihilation."

American imperial overreach wasn't going to go away in 2000 and it won't go away now. Under Gore, it would have been the expansion of the free trade regime, which has been pleasantly slowed by the hamhandedness of the Bushies and the new left leadership in the Americas. Under Bush, it has been outrageously bloody. Gore would have sucked, but less.

I was a 2000 (and 1996) Nader voter; I'm okay with thinking of that as a wrong choice, though in California not an important wrong choice. I'm glad, however, that I joined the protest round in 2000 -- the message wasn't "The Democrats suck, vote Nader", it was "The Democrats have betrayed poor people, people of color, gays, the environment" etc. and that remains true.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 12:36 PM
horizontal rule
186

By failing to convince enough people to vote for him, he lost the election.

Again, he *won* the election. Take it up with Florida's wack-ass electoral system and the US Supreme Court.

Maybe if he'd painted an accurate picture of the perils of Bushism

You mean if he'd seen the future? Look, your individual vote wouldn't have swung the election, so this is all just pissing in the wind. But it isn't Al Gore's fault that you didn't vote for him. You're an adult.

Or maybe President Lieberman

No way on God's green earth was Joe Lieberman ever going to be president of the United States, even as an incumbent VP.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 12:36 PM
horizontal rule
187

182: You should check out UCLA's Urban Planning department. They teach you planning and a lot more. I've met a lot of good people in all sorts of work who came out of that program.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 12:38 PM
horizontal rule
188

179

"... There was no reason to invade Iraq in 2003 that didn't exist during those eight years, other than those invented by the Bush administration out of whole cloth. Why would you think invading Iraq would have occured to Gore?"

911 made invading Iraq more politically popular. This may not be a good reason but it is certainly a reason.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 12:39 PM
horizontal rule
189

Have you looked at David Sucher's blog, City Comforts (I'd have to google for the URL)?

I haven't; thanks for the tip.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 12:40 PM
horizontal rule
190

I really held the Lieberman pick against Gore. Still do. Bad choice, Al.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 12:40 PM
horizontal rule
191

9-11 made it possible to sell the invasion of Iraq to a panicky country, but it wasn't a reason to invade Iraq particularly.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 12:40 PM
horizontal rule
192

186

"No way on God's green earth was Joe Lieberman ever going to be president of the United States, even as an incumbent VP."

Gore is immortal?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 12:43 PM
horizontal rule
193

Or Apo dropped the word 'elected'. But I like your idea.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 12:44 PM
horizontal rule
194

158 is very perceptive.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 12:44 PM
horizontal rule
195

My dad was on the local planning commission for about ten years, just as a volunteer thing. He claims that he almost always voted to approve projects, but he did hold forth a fair amount about how much he liked mixed-use zoning, so I'm sure he managed to advocate for those projects in some way that doesn't fit with his self-image as a libertarian. I think he enjoyed the work, as a middle-class well-informed local.

A cousin of mine did an undergrad degree in urban planning (or whatever equivalent there is at the undergrad level). She then got a law degree, worked at a firm for a couple of years, and then transferred over to the Department of the Interior where she does land-use law. (I think.) She enjoys it, but she does think that most of the other lawyers working there are a bunch of slackers. Some of my extended LDS family is frighteningly competant.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 12:45 PM
horizontal rule
196

191

You are not thinking like a politician. Politicians are more likely to adopt policies which have popular support.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 12:47 PM
horizontal rule
197

You should check out UCLA's Urban Planning department. They teach you planning and a lot more.

Thanks, I'll take a look. That's not one of the programs I've looked into much so far.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 12:47 PM
horizontal rule
198

190: Well, I think we all agree on that, but it wasn't clear then how terrible a choice it was.

I didn't like Lieberman in 2000, and I thought it was a lousy choice, both politically and substantively, but it didn't seem that awful.

Now...well I'm sure Gore regret this decision too.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 12:47 PM
horizontal rule
199

Or Apo dropped the word 'elected'.

Yes, that.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 12:49 PM
horizontal rule
200

196: Don't be silly -- 9-11 wouldn't have made invading Iraq popular without a publicity campaign linking Iraq to 9-11. There wasn't a spontaneous groundswell of support for obliterating Baghdad in revenge for what those dastardly Saudis and Egyptians did to us, the support was a response to the administration's campaign.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 12:52 PM
horizontal rule
201

Oh sure, assuage your Nader-voting conscience by pretending you're on another planet from someone who's presumably voted the same way as you in each federal election for the last eight years. Surely you were prepared for things to get worse in order to vote for the guy who said things have to get worse before they can get better.

I can't the only one who remembers hearing about how many x00,000 Iraqi children we were killing with our sanctions through the 90s, am I? I don't for a moment think that's true enough to justify killing them with bombs instead, but neither do I trust that the guy who nominated Joe Lieberman for VP would never have been persuaded to mount a humanitarian case for invading Iraq. It certainly was not just a few guys at the top and their exile buddies with the forged documents who tricked an entirely unwilling government into invading a random country.

it isn't Al Gore's fault that you didn't vote for him. You're an adult.

This is practically like saying campaigning doesn't matter. I don't buy it.

Again, he *won* the election. Take it up with Florida's wack-ass electoral system and the US Supreme Court.

Truth be told, the part that happened after he won (by a statistically insignificant margin) is most of what I hold against him. You can't blame that part on the electorate, since it was out of their hands by then. Bush stole the election, nobody but Gore and his team could've stopped it, and they failed.


Posted by: mano negra | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 12:56 PM
horizontal rule
202

9-11 wouldn't have made invading Iraq popular without a publicity campaign linking Iraq to 9-11.

And just because the people running the publicity team happened to be in the White House doesn't mean that there wouldn't have been a publicity campaign without them there. The same people who convinced Bush to invade Iraq had been trying to convince Clinton to do it for years.

This alternate timeline that scares me: Gore gets elected; 9/11 happens; the right immediately, harshly blames him, it sticks, and his popularity sinks; in this atmosphere they launch the Iraq-9/11 campaign and the public quickly begins to demand war. Gore bends to it, possibly after Lieberman publically joins the campaign.


Posted by: mano negra | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 1:01 PM
horizontal rule
203

nobody but Gore and his team could've stopped it

Actually, the only people who could have stopped it were first the Florida Supreme Court and then the United States Supreme Court.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 1:02 PM
horizontal rule
204

Before either of those would have been the Florida Secretary of State, but she was plainly on the other side.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 1:03 PM
horizontal rule
205

204: You assert that so confidently, as if she had been co-chairman of Bush's campaign in Florida or something. Just think how ridiculous that would have been.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 1:08 PM
horizontal rule
206

This alternate timeline that scares me: Gore gets elected; 9/11 happens; the right immediately, harshly blames him, it sticks, and his popularity sinks; in this atmosphere they launch the Iraq-9/11 campaign and the public quickly begins to demand war. Gore bends to it, possibly after Lieberman publically joins the campaign.

This sounds ridiculous to me. How do you get the public to demand war with the CIA and every other intelligence agency saying Iraq had nothing to do with 9-11? You needed the lies coming from the people who controlled all the information emerging from our intelligence apparatus to make it even remotely plausible.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 1:09 PM
horizontal rule
207

180; Wrongshore: I make those calls, because a particular faith-based group (which encompasses several churches) that helps prisoners get through college urges me to do it.

Same thing goes for health care reform in Massachusetts. I don't feel as though I'm part of a powerful movement.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 1:11 PM
horizontal rule
208

200

"Don't be silly -- 9-11 wouldn't have made invading Iraq popular without a publicity campaign linking Iraq to 9-11. There wasn't a spontaneous groundswell of support for obliterating Baghdad in revenge for what those dastardly Saudis and Egyptians did to us, the support was a response to the administration's campaign."

This is naive. There were a fair number of Americans after 911 who felt like killing some Moslems and didn't particularly care if they were the right Moslems. Maybe not a majority but enough to matter politically.

And what makes you think there would not have been a prowar propaganda campaign in any case? Do you think the Republicans would have been sitting on their hands while Gore calmly and carefully considered a measured and appropriate reaction? I think they would have been howling for blood and criticising the adminstration response as weak and ineffectual. Perhaps Gore would have ignored them but this is not certain particularly if he thought invading Iraq would be easy. Why did Ogged support the invasion?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 1:12 PM
horizontal rule
209

208: Gore (and Nader and anybody else) would have responded just like Bush, by attacking Afghanistan. There is nothing whatsoever to indicate that he'd have then gone on to agitate for invading and occupying Iraq. this was an obsession of the people who became Bush's foreign policy advisors from way back. They wouldn't have had a seat in a Gore administration.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 1:15 PM
horizontal rule
210

Why did Ogged support the invasion?

Because he believed some of the lies. (I think. Ogged?) Again, if an administration not trying to sell the war had controlled the output of our intelligence agencies, the case for war would have been nonexistent.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 1:15 PM
horizontal rule
211

i always thought that no matter who was the US President, republican or democratic, the US was going to fight some war and did
now this discussion proves my theory was right
i am pleased


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 1:21 PM
horizontal rule
212

This alternate timeline that scares me: Gore gets elected; 9/11 happens; the right immediately, harshly blames him, it sticks, and his popularity sinks; in this atmosphere they launch the Iraq-9/11 campaign and the public quickly begins to demand war. Gore bends to it, possibly after Lieberman publically joins the campaign.

I really don't believe this "scares" you.

Myself, I'm more scared that Santa Claus will turn into a homicidal maniac and leave timebombs instead of presents beneath the Chrismas trees.

Really, you can't really believe that Gore would have been a worse president than Bush.

Now, of course, it is easy to spin out scenarios that things that turn out for the worse in the end (Gore is assassinated and Lieberman drops an h-bomb on Mecca!) (W. is elected in 2009, and the defeat in 2001 makes him even worse!) , but really that's just silly --- like an obstetrician worrying that the baby whose life he just saved might turn out to be the next Hitler.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 1:23 PM
horizontal rule
213

Really, you can't really believe that Gore would have been a worse president than Bush.

I, apparently, really really can't believe that.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 1:26 PM
horizontal rule
214

Really.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 1:26 PM
horizontal rule
215

Democrats seem incapable of understanding that fighting a tough losing battle can be a good choice in the long run. Actually they aggressively refuse to understand that, and ridicule anyone with a better understand. They have a whole comedy routine about how silly "kabuki" votes are and how stupid militant Democrats and liberals are. To them lameness and caving in are fine arts and evidence of sophistication and intelligence. In part it's because they're bought and have divided, anti-liberal loyalties, in part it's because they have extremely particularistic, very short term perspectives (fundraising and winning the next election), and in part because they're all bureaucrats, administrators, and academics. The Republicans' willingness to include ideologues and semi-criminal, entrepreneurial high-stakes gamblers in their coalition (along with the Armageddonists) has paid off for them manyfold.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 1:48 PM
horizontal rule
216

Democrats seem incapable of understanding that fighting a tough losing battle can be a good choice in the long run. Actually they aggressively refuse to understand that, and ridicule anyone with a better understand. They have a whole comedy routine about how silly "kabuki" votes are and how stupid militant Democrats and liberals are. To them lameness and caving in are fine arts and evidence of sophistication and intelligence. In part it's because they're bought and have divided, anti-liberal loyalties, in part it's because they have extremely particularistic, very short term perspectives (fundraising and winning the next election), and in part because they're all bureaucrats, administrators, and academics. The Republicans' willingness to include ideologues and semi-criminal, entrepreneurial high-stakes gamblers in their coalition (along with the Armageddonists) has paid off for them manyfold.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 1:48 PM
horizontal rule
217

Gore opposed the Iraq war. He is pretty much the only liberal hawk without egg on his face.

Have you looked at David Sucher's blog, City Comforts (I'd have to google for the URL)? It's off and on, but there's good urban planning stuff in the archives.

The "city comforts" book is good as well and is on google books:
http://books.google.com/books?id=mMERVULagV8C&dq=city+comforts&pg=PP1&ots=g6RZIM66ET&sig=GmRQTYJBi5YtH7JIJ9gCVlfaK3E&prev=http://www.google.com/search?q=city+comforts&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&sa=X&oi=print&ct=title&cad=one-book-with-thumbnail&hl=en#PPA5,M1


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 1:55 PM
horizontal rule
218

i mean it's not that democrats and republicans are equal in badness :)
just war is something to keep the economy running and for the USA of the last decade the war was a major engine
much like ancient egyptians built pyramides or chinese their great wall
and sure i don't know nothing about politics


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 2:11 PM
horizontal rule
219

anything


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 2:27 PM
horizontal rule
220

You're not wrong about that, but the political incentives to give the economy a boost with a war are different for the different parties.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 2:29 PM
horizontal rule
221

the political incentives will be forgotten in the long run
what only matters is the same result of the seemingly different policies
and being fatalistic me, i think the sequence of events would have been exactly the same
no matter who run the show


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 2:43 PM
horizontal rule
222

203: Florida Supreme Court decided in Gore's favor, so apparently they couldn't have stopped it.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 2:47 PM
horizontal rule
223

runs


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 2:53 PM
horizontal rule
224

no, run


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 2:57 PM
horizontal rule
225

"had run", actually, but it's okay.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 3:09 PM
horizontal rule
226

thanks, i appreciate


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 3:29 PM
horizontal rule
227

Could I give you a bit of unsolicited advice, read? You might consider demarcating the beginnings and ends of your sentences and phrases with conventional capitalization and punctuation, rather than line breaks. It would make your comments a lot easier to read. It also might be good practice. Just a thought.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 3:34 PM
horizontal rule
228

Actually, you know what it would really do, is cut down on people being rude to you. The no-capitalization no-punctuation style looks like the way a teenager being silly types, and I think it's what's inspired most of the hostile comments. Conventional capitalization and punctuation, even with errors, would be more friendly to other readers.

(And you should type however you like. I just figured that as long as there was some unsolicited advice going around, I'd add mine.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 3:38 PM
horizontal rule
229

Actually, now that we know that read is not just a teenager being silly, maybe people could just stop being rude because it's obnoxious.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 3:48 PM
horizontal rule
230

I was sort of hoping that the commentariat would come to that conclusion on their own. But it's a good one.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 3:49 PM
horizontal rule
231

I like read and his typing style. He reminds me of yoyo, who was one of my favorite commenters but isn't around much any more.


Posted by: PerfectlyGoddamnDelightful | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 3:51 PM
horizontal rule
232

I have been reluctantly seeing the truth of much of what Emerson says in 216 (and 215!).

On the other hand, having two parties full of semi-criminal ideologues might be even worse.


Posted by: PerfectlyGoddamnDelightful | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 3:53 PM
horizontal rule
233

assuage your Nader-voting conscience by pretending you're on another planet from someone who's presumably voted the same way as you in each federal election for the last eight years

My Nader-voting conscience is actually OK. I'm not sure what you mean by pretending I'm on a different planet from you (or were you talking to LB?) but it might be just a matter that I have more ambivalence about that position today than I did back then. I think people who blame Nader are picking the wrong fight and underestimating how sucky a pick Gore was. And in the public work I was doing at the time, I was very careful to not say what people should do with their vote; I was protesting the Democrats' failures. I'm OK with that, and I also don't share your confidence that Gore would have been as bloodlustful as Bush.

Hearing the Vice Presidential debate on the radio was my favorite moment of the 2000 campaign. The combination of Cheney's gravelly purr with Lieberman's nasal musicality was sublime to me.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 3:53 PM
horizontal rule
234

Lieberman's nasal musicality

That's how Lieberman sounds when he has Cheney's member in his mouth like he did for that whole debate.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 4:03 PM
horizontal rule
235

Yeah, that turned out to be a problem.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 4:05 PM
horizontal rule
236

this was an obsession of the people who became Bush's foreign policy advisors from way back. They wouldn't have had a seat in a Gore administration.

I'd never try to say that there's anything like a balance between the two on this score, but "wouldn't have had a seat" is going too far. Several of Clinton's cabinet officials signed the PNAC letter urging an invasion of Iraq, along with Cheney, Rumsfeld, Bolton and the whole neocon crew. Several of them would've had seats in the Gore administration too. Would it have led to the same outcome? Very unlikely, but it's just not true that Gore's administration would have been exclusively people who thought it was utterly inappropriate to avoid Iraq.

This is pretty much all I've been trying to say. Despite believing that everything about the Democrats is better, I can't help but see that they have really done nothing to oppose the war, torture, extrajudicial imprisonment, illegal spying, executive corruption, and it rankles to see them given so much credit simply for not coming up with these things themselves.


Posted by: mano negra | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 5:37 PM
horizontal rule
237

Indeed, the bar has slid. I had lunch today with a confirmed Bush-hater who said that his stance on torture--that is, not being in favor of it--was so appealing, that if it wasn't for his views on abortion, she'd give John McCain a hard look.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 7:41 PM
horizontal rule
238

 


Posted by: meh | Link to this comment | 12-14-07 9:12 PM
horizontal rule