Victim Culture

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  • sionisais wrote: »
    There's a lot of talk of contract law here but I'm not sure it's relevant.

    The "vendor" (note quotes) has no rights to the property s/he is selling. The rightful owner has been deprived of their property, while the "buyer" has lost the purchase price.

    My view, and IANAL, is that because the vendor had no rights to the property, s/he could not enter into a contract. The "buyer" may IMHO have a claim for damages under the law of torts (says he, going back to Principles of the English Legal System) although if said vendor has no means, he may as well whistle.

    'swotisaid
  • Such as the way it doesn't satisfactorily define what "justly distributed" means, or how, even if such a state could be achieved, it will be maintained beyond the first private transaction that occurs.
    Well, given that it's an assumption shared by views as diverse as strict egalitarianism, utilitarianism (government policy should maximise GDP regardless of how it's distributed), and technically even feudalism, of course it has no inherent stand on those questions. The types of distributive justice view in question would each want to have answers to those questions.
  • RussRuss Shipmate
    Dafyd wrote: »
    there's a libertarian view (most associated with Robert Nozick) the only justice that should be pursued is justice in transactions. Any distribution of property is just if each individual transaction that reached it was just. So long as no transaction takes place as a result of force or fraud, the result is just no matter how unequal.

    Yes, I would tend to hold that view. Not sure it's necessarily libertarian. More perhaps arising from a suspicion of theory, a sense that theories (in this case of justice) attempt to force the messiness of human experience into a simple mould. And from a bottom-up approach to life, a sense that if you look after the pennies the pounds will look after themselves.
    The problem with the Nozick view is that every current property right that we know of as far as we know originates eventually in some act of violent appropriation.

    Not true. If you follow a chain of transactions back far enough, you may find a primal owner who made the item, or just found it as unclaimed property - stuff that nobody else possessed at that time.

    The issue is more that making every claim to rightful possession conditional on knowing the entire history of the item isn't practical. That's not how humans tend to work in practice.
    So the Nozick view needs to find some way to launder property rights off unjustly acquired property.

    What it needs is some basis for drawing a practical time horizon beyond which it is unnecessary to go back in time.
    Russ wants to launder the rights by saying they're laundered when property is sold on to an innocent or unwitting purchaser.

    Not exactly. If I find a watch that someone has left on a bus, and Croesus tells me he bought it on Tuesday and you tell me it was stolen from you on Monday, then (assuming reasonable verification of both stories) I have to conclude that although you each have a claim to it (in the absence of the other), that your claim is the stronger.

    But if he bought it 50 years ago and has worn it to his wedding, his children's graduation, to all the emotionally significant moments in his life, then I'm inclined to think he now has a greater claim on it then you do as a previous owner whose possession was wrongly terminated by a third party a long time ago.
    Or presumably when the property is inherited
    We've not talked much yet about inheritance. I tend to think a dying person can will to others what he possesses (subject to resolution of outstanding claims against him for that property within a reasonable probate period). But cannot will to others a claim to what he does not possess. And conversely a moral claim against the dying person does not become a moral claim against the inheritor.

    Death as the great launderer, if you will.
    But the theoretical price he has to pay is that his system makes no room for property rights at all

    Not exactly. But I'll have to leave that for another day.

  • Russ wrote: »
    You can't have a meaningful debate about what principles apply with someone whose principle is to take sides on any question depending on their level of victim-sympathy for the particular parties involved in any example.
    Russ wrote: »
    Not exactly. If I find a watch that someone has left on a bus, and Croesus tells me he bought it on Tuesday and you tell me it was stolen from you on Monday, then (assuming reasonable verification of both stories) I have to conclude that although you each have a claim to it (in the absence of the other), that your claim is the stronger.

    But if he bought it 50 years ago and has worn it to his wedding, his children's graduation, to all the emotionally significant moments in his life, then I'm inclined to think he now has a greater claim on it then you do as a previous owner whose possession was wrongly terminated by a third party a long time ago.

    I wonder what happened to @Russ in the last eleven days to go from lecturing people not "to take sides on any question depending on their level of victim-sympathy for the particular parties involved" all the way to saying that not only can you factor in who is the most sympathetic claimant on an emotional level but that you should. I'm guessing when he warns against taking sides based on "their level of victim-sympathy", he means the pronoun literally. Their victim-sympathy is illegitimate, his victim-sympathy is right and true and just.
  • Russ' preferred "victim" who innocently purchased stolen property also just happens to be a married man whose children finished school, and thus worthy of sympathy. LOL
  • mr cheesymr cheesy Shipmate
    edited September 2018
    So, wait. Russ has more sympathy for families who have "owned" looted Nazi art for 80 years than those Jews from whom it was taken?



  • Ruth wrote: »
    The views of a guy from the Hoover Institution who likes supply side economics and Rush Limbaugh? Thank you, no.
    You checked his credentials before you listened to him? That's a good way to ensure you never change your mind about anything.

  • RuthRuth Admin Emeritus
    Moyessa wrote: »
    Ruth wrote: »
    The views of a guy from the Hoover Institution who likes supply side economics and Rush Limbaugh? Thank you, no.
    You checked his credentials before you listened to him?

    Nope, watched the video first, then looked him up on Wikipedia.
  • Moyessa wrote: »
    Ruth wrote: »
    The views of a guy from the Hoover Institution who likes supply side economics and Rush Limbaugh? Thank you, no.
    You checked his credentials before you listened to him? That's a good way to ensure you never change your mind about anything.

    You really don't check out the people you link to?
  • Ruth wrote: »
    Moyessa wrote: »
    Ruth wrote: »
    The views of a guy from the Hoover Institution who likes supply side economics and Rush Limbaugh? Thank you, no.
    You checked his credentials before you listened to him?

    Nope, watched the video first, then looked him up on Wikipedia.

    Oh good, what did you think of what Sowell had to say?
  • RuthRuth Admin Emeritus
    Very little. Sowell is a conservative economist who in that video is merely knocking down straw men. For instance: I don't know anyone who says absentee fathers in black communities are the result of slavery. He blames absentee fathers on the welfare state, but doesn't mention incarceration. Given that the National Review recognizes how important that is, Sowell could have at least mentioned it.

    His notion that we can just forget about racism because it's only in people's heads and instead focus on overt acts of discrimination is, quite frankly, complete bullshit. He says the best answer to discrimination is the free market, assuming quite wrongly that people always act in their own economic best interests. They don't. Racism is plenty strong enough a motivation to act against economic self-interest, as is sexism. (I would have thought someone posting on a bulletin board chock full of Christians would recognize how strong a motivation beliefs can be.) Free-market economics don't help poor people, a group in which people of color are massively over-represented. Free-market economics serve the interests of the very wealthy and powerful people in the US who benefit from the widening inequality those economic policies help create.
  • Ruth wrote: »
    Very little. Sowell is a conservative economist who in that video is merely knocking down straw men. For instance: I don't know anyone who says absentee fathers in black communities are the result of slavery. He blames absentee fathers on the welfare state, but doesn't mention incarceration. Given that the National Review recognizes how important that is, Sowell could have at least mentioned it.

    His notion that we can just forget about racism because it's only in people's heads and instead focus on overt acts of discrimination is, quite frankly, complete bullshit. He says the best answer to discrimination is the free market, assuming quite wrongly that people always act in their own economic best interests. They don't. Racism is plenty strong enough a motivation to act against economic self-interest, as is sexism. (I would have thought someone posting on a bulletin board chock full of Christians would recognize how strong a motivation beliefs can be.) Free-market economics don't help poor people, a group in which people of color are massively over-represented. Free-market economics serve the interests of the very wealthy and powerful people in the US who benefit from the widening inequality those economic policies help create.

    Thank you for this thoughtful reply. Many of your points are certainly true. OTOH, I can't deny that living on welfare for a few generations has had many bad effects. I think the law of unintended consequences still holds - not that I see that as a reason to give up. I see it as a reason to look at the issue from many angles.



  • Moyessa wrote: »
    OTOH, I can't deny that living on welfare for a few generations has had many bad effects. I think the law of unintended consequences still holds - not that I see that as a reason to give up. I see it as a reason to look at the issue from many angles.

    You may not be able to deny it, but apparently you can assert it as bare fact with no supporting evidence in a way that's often found in attempts to pathologize American poverty, especially black American poverty.
  • RussRuss Shipmate
    Crœsos wrote: »
    Russ wrote: »
    I have to conclude that although you each have a claim to it (in the absence of the other), that your claim is the stronger.

    But if he bought it 50 years ago and has worn it to his wedding, his children's graduation, to all the emotionally significant moments in his life, then I'm inclined to think he now has a greater claim on it then you do

    to go from lecturing people not "to take sides on any question depending on their level of victim-sympathy for the particular parties involved" all the way to saying that not only can you factor in who is the most sympathetic claimant on an emotional level but that you should.

    Which part of "assess who has a greater claim" do you not understand ?

    Whether you or Dafyd is black, or disabled, or a good ol' boy, or grieving for your recently-deceased mother, or any other factor which might increase or decrease my general level of sympathy towards you, should indeed be irrelevant.

    I'm suggesting that whether the watch means a lot to you might be a relevant factor in deciding who has the stronger moral claim to it.

    Because you introduced the question of a stolen painting. And so I'm trying to address the question why the rights and wrongs of a stolen painting might be different from stolen cash.

  • Crœsos wrote: »
    Moyessa wrote: »
    OTOH, I can't deny that living on welfare for a few generations has had many bad effects. I think the law of unintended consequences still holds - not that I see that as a reason to give up. I see it as a reason to look at the issue from many angles.

    You may not be able to deny it, but apparently you can assert it as bare fact with no supporting evidence....

    Let me understand - you think that living on money which is based on how many children you have with no father available - has had good effects?


  • Russ wrote: »
    Which part of "assess who has a greater claim" do you not understand ?

    The part where the level of emotional sympathy you have with each party should sway your assessment, especially given that you've been a harsh critic of sympathy in such matters in virtually every thread you've ever commented on.
    Moyessa wrote: »
    Let me understand - you think that living on money which is based on how many children you have with no father available - has had good effects?

    Yes, I think programs like food stamps taking into account how many mouths are being fed is better than if such programs did not.

    What's always been interesting, and telling, to me is that monetary handouts for the poor (like food stamps or subsidized medical care) are considered "welfare" and are therefore socially destructive, but monetary handouts to the middle class (like the tax deduction for mortgage interest) aren't considered "welfare" and are argued as being beneficial to their recipients.
  • RuthRuth Admin Emeritus
    Oddly enough, the National Review points to the falling rate of marriage, not the welfare state, as the other main cause of absentee fathers. The Pew Research Center has found that money and education factor heavily into whether people get married. The more educated people are, the more likely they are to get married. And the more educated people are, the more likely they are to have money.

    Redistributing money to poor people is a good thing, IMO, pretty much any way you want to do it. The free market has been steadily redistributing money to the wealthy in the US ever since Reagan beat the crap out of the unions in the 80s.
  • Moyessa wrote: »
    Crœsos wrote: »
    Moyessa wrote: »
    OTOH, I can't deny that living on welfare for a few generations has had many bad effects. I think the law of unintended consequences still holds - not that I see that as a reason to give up. I see it as a reason to look at the issue from many angles.

    You may not be able to deny it, but apparently you can assert it as bare fact with no supporting evidence....

    Let me understand - you think that living on money which is based on how many children you have with no father available - has had good effects?


    These are not recent figures (2010), but I have to wonder what fantasies you might be entertaining about these huge, multi-generational TANF (welfare) families. Here's some actual information (source -- https://www.acf.hhs.gov/ofa/resource/character/fy2010/fy2010-chap10-ys-final)

    "The average number of persons in TANF families was 2.4, including an average of 1.8 recipient children. One in two recipient families had only one child. Less than eight percent of families had more than three children. The average number of children in closed-case families was 1.8. Nearly one in two closed-case families had one child, and only seven percent had more than three children."
  • You may also be interested to know that TANF, which stands for Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (my emphasis), is limited to 60 months total over a recipient's lifetime. These months may be distributed over a longer period of time than 5 years, as people go on and off the program when able to find paying jobs.
  • Have any you ever actually talked and worked with people/families on welfare/social assistance payments? I have. Very few are enjoying themselves, and want to be there. Unless there's some gravy train welfare somewhere else, I've never spoken to anyone who liked it. The amount of money is low, it doesn't last the month. Parents routinely don't eat for a number of says as money runs out so the children can eat. You can only go to the Food Bank 4 days per month, and there's great stigma. Do you know what a ketchup and sugar sandwich is like?

    Welfare people don't take buses anywhere, they walk because buses cost. Not unusual to walk 2 hours to appointments. Social workers and police interactions are fraught, with apprehension (basically arresting) the children and placing them in emergency daycare and then foster care because they are fed, not washed, because parents cannot afford it. Schooling wasn't on for parents because this in intergenerational, and their children are headed in the same direction.

    Poverty, welfare and life going nowhere is desperate. If you find work, it's at minimum wage and is deducted off of the welfare. While you're working you leave the children in the care of someone else on welfare, and then that someone or someone who drops by abuses them, and child protection finds they were unsupervised so they are taken away from you. And there's court, and the lawyers get as much money in day as you do in 6 weeks. And your legal aid lawyer meets you 15 minutes before court starts. So you haven't a chance.

    And then someone offers to buy sex from you, or gets you involved in stealing something. And they also offer you crack, meth, pot, pills, alcohol and you take it, because you feel so bad. So your kids grow up in foster care, over crowded, fed to the Food Guide, so not malnourished, but always hungry, and they live with kids whose parents and others abused them, and they teach your kids how to have sex and how to extort. And then one of these kids grows up, maybe almost makes it, but attacks me or someone I love, and we all want to kill them who is trash as far as we're concerned.
  • Moyessa wrote: »
    Crœsos wrote: »
    Moyessa wrote: »
    OTOH, I can't deny that living on welfare for a few generations has had many bad effects. I think the law of unintended consequences still holds - not that I see that as a reason to give up. I see it as a reason to look at the issue from many angles.

    You may not be able to deny it, but apparently you can assert it as bare fact with no supporting evidence....

    Let me understand - you think that living on money which is based on how many children you have with no father available - has had good effects?


    Yes it has. Unless you think "children not being hungry" is a bad thing.
  • mr cheesymr cheesy Shipmate
    edited September 2018
    Moyessa wrote: »
    Crœsos wrote: »
    Moyessa wrote: »
    OTOH, I can't deny that living on welfare for a few generations has had many bad effects. I think the law of unintended consequences still holds - not that I see that as a reason to give up. I see it as a reason to look at the issue from many angles.

    You may not be able to deny it, but apparently you can assert it as bare fact with no supporting evidence....

    Let me understand - you think that living on money which is based on how many children you have with no father available - has had good effects?


    To state the obvious, the payments are to support the children. The only alternative seems to be to punish the children for the (perceived) ills of the parents.

    But what I don't understand in this context is why you are focussing on the lack of a father.

    Surely they get social payments in your system if the is a father available or not, don't they?

    Or is this some not-so-subtle dig at black fathers ducking their parental duties?
  • Moyessa wrote: »
    Let me understand - you think that living on money which is based on how many children you have with no father available - has had good effects?
    The effects are better than any practical short-term alternative.

    The objection to basing welfare payments on the number of children seems to me more of a right-wing cliche than anything in practical morality. As a way of making money, raising multiple children with no partner is too much work and stress and no profit.
  • Crœsos wrote: »
    What's always been interesting, and telling, to me is that monetary handouts for the poor (like food stamps or subsidized medical care) are considered "welfare" and are therefore socially destructive, but monetary handouts to the middle class (like the tax deduction for mortgage interest) aren't considered "welfare" and are argued as being beneficial to their recipients.

    Regardless of the rights and wrongs of any particular policy, there’s a significant difference between giving resources to someone and not taking resources away from someone.
  • Regardless of the rights and wrongs of any particular policy, there’s a significant difference between giving resources to someone and not taking resources away from someone.

    I disagree. In terms of financial aid I don't think there's that significant a difference between giving an amount of money or erasing a debt of the same amount. I'm not sure the difference between subsidizing food through financial assistance and subsidizing housing through cheaper loans is all that "significant", except that the former is typically received by the poor and the latter by the middle class.
  • Regardless of the rights and wrongs of any particular policy, there’s a significant difference between giving resources to someone and not taking resources away from someone.

    Regardless of the rights or wrongs of any economic system, standing on a pile of money while others starve is not the moral high ground.

    Satisfying the basic needs of the poor is entirely achievable. Satisfying the rich is apparently a never-ending task - the more they have, the more they want. As Jesus said to the wealthy young man, if you have eighty coats and seventy-nine people have none, keep all your coats. You worked hard for all those coats, so Jesus says you're entitled to keep 79 coats in your closet while other people freeze.


  • RuthRuth Admin Emeritus
    The mortgage deduction means the government taxes renters at a higher rate than home owners, taking a higher percentage of our income away from us. This is deeply unjust.
  • As Ruth so succinctly points out, it's one thing to discuss so-called "victim culture," and quite another to establish practices that create actual victims.

  • Ruth wrote: »
    The mortgage deduction means the government taxes renters at a higher rate than home owners, taking a higher percentage of our income away from us. This is deeply unjust.

    And the injustice is compounded and passed on to the next generation, because homeowners amass equity and leave it to their kids. Renters do not, and their kids will never have that kind of advantage in life no matter how gifted or industrious they may be.

  • RussRuss Shipmate
    Crœsos wrote: »
    The part where the level of emotional sympathy you have with each party should sway your assessment.

    It shouldn't, and I'm not making an argument that it should.

    My reference to emotional attachment was to illustrate that the value of the stolen object to each individual may be more than the exchange or market value of the object. So that a form of redress that gives the original owner the market value of the object may be too little. And the same goes for the innocent purchaser.

    Suppose that A the original owner, B the thief and C the innocent purchaser are in a room with the judge to implement some restorative justice. What does that look like ?

    Some people hold a "winding back history" view that says the judge should compel C to return the painting in exchange for a refund of the purchase price from B, and the painting should be given automatically to A.

    My suggestion is that the judge should put A and C in separate rooms and ask the question "would you rather have the painting or £X in compensation?" for successively higher values of X until one of them accepts the compensation. Which B is then compelled to pay. Thus resolving both A's and C's claims against B in a manner to which they both consent.

  • I really need the LSHMSFOAIDMT emoji right now ....

    Given that in the real world, B is often unidentified, unavailable, or insolvent, how do you suggest A and C resolve the matter in B's absence?

    (Laughing so hard my sombrero fell off and I dropped my taco.)
  • It's A's fucking painting. Period. End of.
  • RussRuss Shipmate
    Given that in the real world, B is often unidentified, unavailable, or insolvent, how do you suggest A and C resolve the matter in B's absence?

    If you don't agree that that's the right answer in the easier case when B is there with a judge (who has the legal power of confiscating B's assets to pay what he owes) then why would you be interested in what conclusion those principles lead to in the harder case when the prospect of restitution from the absent B is uncertain ?

    But I've suggested already that for A to take the painting and leave C with nothing but the uncertain prospect of compensation seems as unjust as C keeping the painting and leaving A to pursue B for compensation.

    Neither A nor C has wronged the other; B has wronged them both. A process of negotiation would lead to a sharing of the risk, some money changing hands between A and C, and co-operation between them in jointly pursuing B.
  • Russ wrote: »
    Thus resolving both A's and C's claims against B in a manner to which they both consent.
    This is all very well but not actually compatible with your view of morality as grounded in determinate universal and exceptionless rights that can only be overruled with the consent of the rights holder.

    Let's cut B out of the picture while we're playing. C mistakes A's car innocently for his car. According to Russ because C has made an innocent mistake he now has rights over the car. Now if A makes the same mistake, A is according to Russ able to go off with C's car in exchange. But if A realises that C has the wrong car, then A is out of luck. A has to take part in an auction to recompense C for any emotional attachment C may have formed to the car.
  • Russ wrote: »
    Given that in the real world, B is often unidentified, unavailable, or insolvent, how do you suggest A and C resolve the matter in B's absence?

    ....

    Answer the question.
  • Russ wrote: »
    My reference to emotional attachment was to illustrate that the value of the stolen object to each individual may be more than the exchange or market value of the object. So that a form of redress that gives the original owner the market value of the object may be too little. And the same goes for the innocent purchaser.

    "I want it more, therefore I should have it" seems like a toddler's view of property rights. It also seems tilted in favor of sociopaths who, by definition, always want it more.
    Given that in the real world, B is often unidentified, unavailable, or insolvent, how do you suggest A and C resolve the matter in B's absence?

    More interestingly, given Russ' "who wants it more" standard (which I've taken to mentally referring to as "the Sméagol principle") the real owner of the property is actually B. A and C were willing to pay cash for whatever is in dispute, but B was willing to risk serious legal sanction to acquire the property in dispute, so clearly he finds it more precious.
  • Crœsos wrote: »
    (which I've taken to mentally referring to as "the Sméagol principle")

    :killingme:
  • So here we are on page 6, blatting endlessly and somewhat farcically on about watches, paintings, larceny, innocent and not-so-innocent purchasers and on and on. I do appreciate the effort to search for some sort of guiding principle by which parties may be justly compensated after someone’s watch (an inheritance from his beloved great-grandpa) has been stolen or whose painting, valued at time of purchase at 40,000 marks, was misappropriated by the Nazis and is now recovered and valued at 275,000,000 marks. How can any principle we might arrive at through these somewhat hilarious scenarios (as Soror Magna points out) help us figure out the following:

    Let’s say I am a member of the Wampanoag Tribe of Massachusetts (I am not), living in 21st-century Gay Head with federal recognition (though no reservation) as a tribe. Here’s what I’ve lost, in just shy of 400 years since the Mayflower anchored in Massachusetts Bay:

    1. My original language (efforts are going forward by the tribe to preserve, revive and restore this).
    2. My original (apparently thriving) culture, with its governance, lifeways, history, values, etc. including some 40 villages spread across what is now southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island down to Narragansett Bay.
    3. My ability to identify with and attach myself to that lost language and decimated culture or any of those vanished villages.
    4. The vast majority of the human genome of my original tribal group, wiped out soon after European arrival by disease and violence.
    5. Most details, rituals, practices of my original religious belief system, assuming there was one commonly-held and valued among the original tribe.
    6. All or nearly all of the real estate and similar resources (water rights, fishing grounds, etc.) the original tribal group regarded as ‘theirs’ (however originally defined by that group, and noting that both the islands of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard – now extremely valuable assets -- were originally home to the Wampanoag people).
    7. The social status, autonomy, and regional powerbase of that original tribal group within the native inhabitants' federation of the area pre-European invasion.
    8. My (in)ability to access the social goods of the surrounding society due to my being a Native person of color.

    First, even if the existing power structure and governance agrees that past events like those above constitute massive mistreatment of the Wampanoag people for which restitution or reparations or some form of compensatory action is deserved, how do you compensate for losses like 1 through 5, or for 7? A painting is not a language, with stories and prayers and jokes and lullabies to be handed down through generations. A watch is not a culture, with traditions and celebrations and lifeways.

    Second, am I, one 21st-century Wampanoag individual, a victim? Consider:

    • Does it matter how ‘well’ I’m doing as an individual in the here-and-now, regardless of how ‘well’ my group is doing now? Does it matter how ‘well’ my group has done in the past?
    • Does it matter that only some of the losses listed above may be experienced by me directly and personally?
    • Does it matter whether I view myself as a victim? Does it matter whether I have internalized a sense of these losses, or whether, for me, this is ancient water under washed-away bridges and I just want to get on with my life in the present?

    I’ll stop there, my only point being that dithering about stolen watches seems to me unlikely ever to help with urgent issues of racial, gender, class, and economic injustice.
  • Ohher wrote: »
    So here we are on page 6, blatting endlessly and somewhat farcically on about watches, paintings, larceny, innocent and not-so-innocent purchasers and on and on. I do appreciate the effort to search for some sort of guiding principle by which parties may be justly compensated after someone’s watch (an inheritance from his beloved great-grandpa) has been stolen or whose painting, valued at time of purchase at 40,000 marks, was misappropriated by the Nazis and is now recovered and valued at 275,000,000 marks. How can any principle we might arrive at through these somewhat hilarious scenarios (as Soror Magna points out) help us figure out the following:

    Let’s say I am a member of the Wampanoag Tribe of Massachusetts (I am not), living in 21st-century Gay Head with federal recognition (though no reservation) as a tribe. Here’s what I’ve lost, in just shy of 400 years since the Mayflower anchored in Massachusetts Bay:

    1. My original language (efforts are going forward by the tribe to preserve, revive and restore this).
    2. My original (apparently thriving) culture, with its governance, lifeways, history, values, etc. including some 40 villages spread across what is now southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island down to Narragansett Bay.
    3. My ability to identify with and attach myself to that lost language and decimated culture or any of those vanished villages.
    4. The vast majority of the human genome of my original tribal group, wiped out soon after European arrival by disease and violence.
    5. Most details, rituals, practices of my original religious belief system, assuming there was one commonly-held and valued among the original tribe.
    6. All or nearly all of the real estate and similar resources (water rights, fishing grounds, etc.) the original tribal group regarded as ‘theirs’ (however originally defined by that group, and noting that both the islands of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard – now extremely valuable assets -- were originally home to the Wampanoag people).
    7. The social status, autonomy, and regional powerbase of that original tribal group within the native inhabitants' federation of the area pre-European invasion.
    8. My (in)ability to access the social goods of the surrounding society due to my being a Native person of color.

    First, even if the existing power structure and governance agrees that past events like those above constitute massive mistreatment of the Wampanoag people for which restitution or reparations or some form of compensatory action is deserved, how do you compensate for losses like 1 through 5, or for 7? A painting is not a language, with stories and prayers and jokes and lullabies to be handed down through generations. A watch is not a culture, with traditions and celebrations and lifeways.

    Second, am I, one 21st-century Wampanoag individual, a victim? Consider:

    • Does it matter how ‘well’ I’m doing as an individual in the here-and-now, regardless of how ‘well’ my group is doing now? Does it matter how ‘well’ my group has done in the past?
    • Does it matter that only some of the losses listed above may be experienced by me directly and personally?
    • Does it matter whether I view myself as a victim? Does it matter whether I have internalized a sense of these losses, or whether, for me, this is ancient water under washed-away bridges and I just want to get on with my life in the present?

    I’ll stop there, my only point being that dithering about stolen watches seems to me unlikely ever to help with urgent issues of racial, gender, class, and economic injustice.
    Thank you for a post that is relevant. The problem is huge, and name-calling & virtue-signaling will not move us forward.
  • MoyessaMoyessa Shipmate
    edited September 2018
    A 13-minute clip of Thomas Sowell answering questions from Joe Biden, Orrin Hatch, etc. It is really worth watching the entire clip, if only to answer questions about how he was a Marxist for many years, even after education by the "Chicago school of economics".

    I think it's important to counter the, "We have our ideology, and we are sticking to it', even in the face of arguably bad results.
    https://youtu.be/72dRkGwllmI
  • RuthRuth Admin Emeritus
    Why are you so enamored of Thomas Sowell?
  • Because I believe the points he makes are helpful, in contrast to much of what I read.

    You mentioned Ta-Nehisi Coates. I have been forced to read one or two of his articles, and they left me incredulous that The Atlantic would promote his views. He writes as if he believes that good things for black people can only come from white people giving them stuff, and not from the action of black people themselves.

    From my POV, this is so disempowering, insulting, and false as to be painful.

    OTOH, Thomas Sowell says things like,
    “The negative -- and false -- impression that blacks are constantly trying to get something without earning it has already been created by such things as racial preferences and quotas. Despite much of what has been said by some black "leaders" …most blacks worked their way out of poverty themselves. The greatest reduction of poverty among blacks occurred before the civil rights revolution of the 1960s or the affirmative action policies of the 1970s.”

    You may have noted in his testimony before Congress, Sowell emphasized that he supported school integration long before the civil rights movement. In everything I have read and heard from him, he expresses nothing but respect for black people. This is in stark contrast to Ta-Nehisi Coates.

    So, I was hoping to put some balance into this discussion, which seemed to me unbalanced.
  • OhherOhher Shipmate
    edited October 2018
    Moyessa wrote: »
    You mentioned Ta-Nehisi Coates. I have been forced to read one or two of his articles, and they left me incredulous that The Atlantic would promote his views. He writes as if he believes that good things for black people can only come from white people giving them stuff, and not from the action of black people themselves.

    Remarkable. I don't know where you're posting from, but I'd be interested to know how, when, and where someone managed to "force" you to read material by Ta-Nehisi Coates.
    That said, Coates has advocated for reparations for the harms done to African-Americans by European-Americans. I'm not sure that's quite the same as "white people giving them stuff," (as it apparently ignores the realities of what white people have for centuries stolen from blacks) nor that reparations would somehow obviate or prevent black people doing for themselves.
    Moyessa wrote: »
    OTOH, Thomas Sowell says things like,
    “The negative -- and false -- impression that blacks are constantly trying to get something without earning it has already been created by such things as racial preferences and quotas.

    I suspect that both you and Dr. Sowell will find, with minimal research, that this nasty myth long predates racial preferences and quotas.
    Moyessa wrote: »
    Despite much of what has been said by some black "leaders" …most blacks worked their way out of poverty themselves. The greatest reduction of poverty among blacks occurred before the civil rights revolution of the 1960s or the affirmative action policies of the 1970s.”

    I'm willing to be corrected, but it's my understanding that the civil rights movement of the 1960s was primarily about, er, civil rights rather than poverty -- (As a side note, I was active in the civil rights movement in the 60s and have the arrest records to prove it.) -- being able to register and vote, being able to attend schools with up-to-date texts and certified teachers and working equipment, etc. Affirmative action was intended to address discrimination in employment and higher education; to the extent that these addressed poverty, it was indirectly.

    Many blacks did in fact lift themselves out of poverty (I have no stats about this at my fingertips), but this often occurred in the brief period between the end of the Civil War and the establishment of Jim Crow practices which thrust many black families right back into tenant-farming very akin to slavery. Westward expansion (the "40 acres and a mule" program) also provided opportunities to some black families. Note, though, that this was in fact a federal program.

    The so-called anti-poverty programs of the '60s and '70s were carefully crafted, in my view, to keep poor people (a majority of whom were white, not black) in that no-man's-land between rioting in the streets for food (or starving in the streets for lack of same) and actually getting a toe-hold on economic security. Such programs actually keep people IN poverty, and they are very difficult to escape. I know because I am an escapee, and it took every bit of my white privilege to pull that off. Without my white privilege, it's doubtful I'd have managed it.

    Thomas Sowell is a libertarian, and he suffers from some of the same blind spots as many of his fellow ideologues: he ignores the devastating effects on African-American families of centuries of unequally-applied criminal justice, of historical effects of redlining and routine exclusion from many government benefits programs in his analyses of the effects of economic redistribution he and other libertarians don't approve of.




  • Barnabas62Barnabas62 Purgatory Host, Epiphanies Host
    Ohher

    You beat me to the punch about the Civil Rights Movement. Nicely done. A compliment which applies to your most recent posts.

    There are big practical issues associated with the concept of reparations for historical harm and one only needs to look at the baleful effects of the Treaty of Versailles to see the risks of them boomeranging. There is scope for both recognising the moral obligation and seeking to make amends, and on the other hand recognising the value of not visiting the sins of the fathers on the children.
  • Ohher wrote: »
    Does it matter how ‘well’ I’m doing as an individual in the here-and-now, regardless of how ‘well’ my group is doing now?

    Yes, emphatically so. That and the passage of time are the only reasons why nobody thinks I should be entitled to restitution for the evils of slavery imposed on my ancestors by the Romans. Which means it's not really about those historical evils.
  • Ohher wrote: »
    Moyessa wrote: »
    OTOH, Thomas Sowell says things like,
    “The negative -- and false -- impression that blacks are constantly trying to get something without earning it has already been created by such things as racial preferences and quotas.

    I suspect that both you and Dr. Sowell will find, with minimal research, that this nasty myth long predates racial preferences and quotas.

    Here's a rather famous example making exactly that argument about the Freedmen's Bureau in 1866.
  • GwaiGwai Purgatory Host, Epiphanies Host
    Marvin, say rather it's not about how well you personally are doing in getting over your ancestor's slavery to the Romans but that it's about how the rest of your group is doing. Since all of us are over it, the Romans don't owe us anything.
  • The civil rights movement was all about economic equality as well as legal equality. It requires very little research to verify this. Recall that MLK was in Memphis to support striking workers when he was assassinated. Here is a representative quote.
    King recognized that wage issues were civil rights issues. “Now our struggle is for genuine equality, which means economic equality,” he told a rally of AFSCME sanitation workers in Memphis on March 18, 1968, barely two weeks before his death. “For we know now that it isn’t enough to integrate lunch counters. What does it profit a man to be able to eat at an integrated lunch counter if he doesn’t have enough money to buy a hamburger?”

    Internettia is replete with such quotes from Dr. King.
  • Dr. King was very interested in economic justice. Recall that the full name of the March on Washington was "The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom" and included such demands as a public works program for the unemployed and a minimum wage of $2/hour (equivalent to $16.43/hour in current dollars). On the other hand it should be remembered that while Dr. King was the best known leader of the civil rights movement, he wasn't the entire movement.
  • RussRuss Shipmate
    Dafyd wrote: »
    Let's cut B out of the picture while we're playing. C mistakes A's car innocently for his car. According to Russ because C has made an innocent mistake he now has rights over the car. Now if A makes the same mistake, A is according to Russ able to go off with C's car in exchange. But if A realises that C has the wrong car, then A is out of luck. A has to take part in an auction to recompense C for any emotional attachment C may have formed to the car.

    If A and C have agreed to swap cars, the transaction is consensual. But if they both take the wrong car by mistake ? Maybe the two are identical except for being different colours that look the same in the dark ? And the same key fits both ?

    I think your question - and it's a fair one - amounts to "What if one of them wants to swap back and the other doesn't?" Do they have a right to their own car that doesn't depend on the moral depravity or innocence of the other ?

    My answer would be that both have inadvertently stolen the other's car, (removed it from their possession without consent) and that therefore neither has the moral right to refuse to swap back. Each has - immediately following the night of errors - a moral claim on the other for whatever additional value they may place on their own vehicle over and above the value of the identical vehicle they currently possess, i.e. the value of their emotional attachment to it.

    But I would also answer that:

    Do they both have a collective moral duty to the universe to swap back ?
    - no. If both agree that it's less hassle to keep the vehicle they now have they can morally agree to do so. (Consent after the fact).

    If A gets a lift to the village where C lives, takes back his car, and leaves a note to say "I've taken back my property, come and get yours when you're ready", leaving the other without transportation, has he done wrong ?
    - yes, because his just claim is only for the difference in value, and he has taken without consent more than that

    If both of them do nothing about it for 5 years, can A then turn up with the vehicle he's been driving around for 5 years and demand to swap back ?
    - no because that length of time is sufficient for C to have formed an emotional attachment to the vehicle he's been driving. (He may for example have small children for whom it's the only car they've ever known).

    What if C has an accident while driving A's car and it's written off ?
    - they have to negotiate as to who puts what value on the remaining car and thus who should get the car and who get the insurance settlement and how much money should compensate the one who doesn't get their first choice.

    All of which considerations argue against Mousethief's view that property must morally be returned to its rightful owner full stop.

    You may. of course, disagree...
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