Open Thread 155.5

This is the twice-weekly hidden open thread. You can also talk at the SSC subreddit or the SSC Discord server.

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2,209 Responses to Open Thread 155.5

  1. Daniel Friedman says:

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  2. johan_larson says:

    The death star aliens have stolen our cars, our paper, our power plants, and our food. Before this goes any further, how can we rid ourselves of this alien menace? It’s time to cancel the apocalypse.

    • Nick says:

      Send up two guys with a computer virus. We have about a month to put this all together.

    • Jake R says:

      Just all the nukes.

      • johan_larson says:

        Do we really want to destroy one of these ships?

        We are at a severe disadvantage when dealing with these aliens. They can, apparently quite casually, cross interstellar distances in ships we could not begin to construct. We are like the stone-age Polynesians encountering the US Navy in the 1940s. Now imagine the warriors of one of these islands caught the Navy napping and managed to attack and sink (!) a ship. Imagine the severity of the reprisal.

    • Anteros says:

      Torture their representative on earth such that we simply never hear from them again?

      • Pandemic Shmandemic says:

        That was a particularly bad idea when tried with the death-horde Mongolians.

        • Eric T says:

          You’d be hard pressed to find a decision in all of history that backfired for a people more than that one mayor (and later, Shah Muhammad II covering for him). Some of my historian friends argue that might be the moment the balance of power between the middle east and west europe flipped forever.

    • Tatterdemalion says:

      Without our cars, our paper, our power plants and our food, we’re almost certainly nearly all dead.

      So our best bet is probably to hire Michael Keaton to exact revenge by scaring the hell our of them.

    • Pandemic Shmandemic says:

      Somewhere among our paper are the combined writings of 20th century post-modernist thought, trick them into finding and reading it and watch them give up on all purpose over the course of a couple of generations.

      • bullseye says:

        They’ve already given up on all purpose. They’re messing with us out of boredom.

    • Edward Scizorhands says:

      Tell them to read an article on TV Tropes.

    • bean says:

      Tell them that human custom requires them to complete a manual game of Campaign for North Africa before we can give them anything else. With all the optional rules.

    • Protagoras says:

      If people had listened to me when they were helping us recover wrecked ships, I’m sure we could have rebuilt Yamato into a space battleship with a wave motion gun by now, and could use that to solve our alien problem.

  3. Nick says:

    You’re the leader of a prominent activist group whose leadership in the recent protests has now been recognized by most parties. Mayors as well as state and federal officials have come to you looking to compromise. They ask, “What are your demands? How do you want police reformed?”

    I think this conversation is well served by digging into specifics about what the problems are and why your demands will help. And phrasing it “How do you want police reformed?” is not intended to foreclose answers like abolishing police—but if that’s your answer, then as with other answers, I think we’d all like to hear how that will help. Bonus points if you can provide numbers.

    • Eric T says:

      Here would be mine – mind you I’m a middle-class white dude living in New York, so I might have more specific gripes than the average.

      First, substantially weaken the power and influence of police unions on local politics, either by restricting their donation ability and/or making it mega-illegal to engage in punative police policies (there is a history of Police here in NYC not policing some areas back in the 90s, unclear if its still an issue but I could see it becoming one), and the NYC based PBA has serious lobbying power for a local government force, spending over a million on campaign contributions last election cycle.

      My argument here is a simple one: when police capture local politicians it breaks down their role as an independent non-political peacekeeping force. Meaningful reforms can’t get passed if police can bully or buy politicians out of supporting them, which in turn causes civil unrest. This also causes the NYPD budget to continue to climb precipetously. It’s already at 6 billion, and prior to the protests an attempt to cut it by a meager 1% was … well unsuccessful. New Yorkers are constantly told there is no money in the budget to repair the MTA, fix the sewers, or any other badly needed infrastructure programs, but we spend far to much on a police force that could do the work it does with a third of its budget. In addition, I’m concerned about long term impacts of the police being able to easily influence politicians. They already have an outsized effect due to the fact that barring strange circumstances (like right now) most people tend to like, listen to, and support the police. The Union was able to, merely by showing public displeasure, cow the mayor into doing what they wanted back in 2014. (Not the best link I know but if you search there is a lot about this – it was a big deal)

      Secondly, pass stricter civil forfeiture laws. There was a discussion about policies like Stop-And-Frisk in the previous OT. I think a dimension missing from that discussion is the impact of civil forfeiture, which allows police to retain taken items they deem potentially evidentiary, even without charging the owner with a crime making the NYPD tens of millions in stolen goods every year. NYC has gotten a lot better about this in recent years, but I’d like to see more of the country tackle this practice, which is predatory towards those of lower S/E class simply by its nature. If I get my phone seized, I can buy a new one. If someone living paycheck to paycheck gets their phone seized, it’s a sizable blow to their financial stability.

      Thirdly, end or at least weaken, Qualified Immunity. I understand this will likely increase costs on the police, and so I’m willing to trade this off with the lower budget concern I raised in point one, but I believe both should be possible. In short, police have connections to DA’s offices, investigatory bodies, and politicians that make it less likely they get convicted than I and many others believe they should. There’s a lot of writing on the practicality of QI, so I just want to explain the optics, because I think they do matter. There is a belief, be it right or wrong, on the streets of NYC that the NYPD can effectively get away with anything. The issue is this belief feeds into a distrust between communities and the NYPD, which causes the NYPD to not be able to do their jobs as well. I think ending qualified immunity, even if it would increase lawsuits, would be a huge signal to public communities that the NYPD isn’t invincible, and would be a great first step in restoring trust.

      EDIT: To head off the argument I’ve heard about ending QI causing reducing policing and the like, doctors make it work with malpractice insurance, and I am 100% down for police violence insurance.

      • Scott Alexander says:

        I’ve also heard this, but the caveat is that this is only about illness-treating performance. How nice a doctor is to their patients has a huge correlation with how often s/he is sued and pays for insurance.

        The kind of “police performance” we’re interested in is basically all about how nice they are to people, so it could still work.

        • Controls Freak says:

          People often conflate someone being nice with being actively engaged. “This doctor really seems to care about me,” easily reads as, “…so I know that he’s going to pay close attention to my case. Perhaps he won’t make the right call, but if he makes the wrong call, it won’t be out of negligence.” So the incentive for the doctor is to act nice, and the incentive for the patient is to not damage the career of a doctor who paid close attention to them acted nice to them.

          In policing, many citizens don’t want the police to be actively engaged (with them). The criminals especially do not want active engagement. Police cannot act nice as a substitute for active engagement, because the “customer” doesn’t want the signaled engagement. Worse, if we set up a system that seems like it incentivizes police for acting nice, but it is public and well-known how this incentive system works and how it’s coupled with engagement, those who do not want engagement can claim that the officer was not acting nicely to them. This strategy is intended to reduce active engagement.

          Knowing that this strategy is a subset of possible strategies of the population, police have to consider this when formulating their own strategy. Police can simply reduce their active engagement, or ensure that there are sufficient “friendly” witnesses who will attest that they were Very Nice to the person in question. Some have pinned hopes on things like body cameras, and they’ve probably helped, to some extent.

          None of the above is new; folks have understood this back/forth for a while, but there is a disanalogy from medical malpractice insurance. I suppose we could try to consider a subset of patients who do not want active engagement from their doctor. I imagine there are some psychiatric patients like this, no? Do you think that doctors acting nice is the equilibrium strategy there, or is it something like, “Cultivate trust with fellow staff, so that they’ll argue on your behalf if something goes wrong (akin to forming a buddy-buddy system between cops)… and then write insane amounts of detail on paper to create a complete record (sort of like body cams)”? …do you ever try to skirt engaging with those folks at all?

    • Paul Zrimsek says:

      My starting ask is abolition of the police unions. In the compromise we more likely end up with, the unions stay on, but procedures for internal investigation and discipline are set unilaterally by the employing government and can be changed as necessary; they are no longer a contract item. (The union may still provide representation to its members who are up before the board.)

    • Jake says:

      I agree with everything Eric T said above, as he already covered several points that I was going to make. Another proposal I’ve not seen talked about a lot, but I think would help address a lot of the grievances currently being aired is to split the police department into multiple departments, with various levels of force authorization for each level. If you have a department just for the low-level offenses that almost everyone is guilty of (traffic violations, ordinance enforcement, minor drug possession maybe), but do not give them authorization to investigate beyond their low-level mandate, and do not authorize them to use force, it will result in much safer and less biased everyday interactions with the police for everyone.

      You get less biased policing, because police are no longer incentivized to target their low-level attention to violations that they think may lead to higher-level cases, because their mandate stops at the low level. These are the types of cases that police are accused of racial profiling the most on, and if they don’t lead anywhere, it may take away a lot of the incentive for profiling.

      In terms of safety, these are also the most common encounters with police, so taking away the ability for officers to escalate to force in this type of encounter would greatly increase the safety of most people. Right now, there is a small chance that a random stop for a minor violation may lead to a tragic outcome. Limiting the force allowed for this department would almost eliminate that possibility.

      There would still need to be a department authorized to use force, but I would hope they would be used more like a SWAT team today (and yes, I know those are arguably used to often). A call to the force-using department would need to be authorized by someone (judge/chief/board?) and a level of authorized force granted. Officers in this group would need to be vetted much more thoroughly than officers in the non-force-using department.

      So much of policing doesn’t need to be done at the end of a gun, and even having the gun there, probably makes it less effective. I think that making an unarmed force as the primary interface with the public would go a long way towards making outcomes more fair, and probably would even lead to better overall outcomes.

      • S_J says:

        Another proposal I’ve not seen talked about a lot, but I think would help address a lot of the grievances currently being aired is to split the police department into multiple departments, with various levels of force authorization for each level. If you have a department just for the low-level offenses that almost everyone is guilty of (traffic violations, ordinance enforcement, minor drug possession maybe), but do not give them authorization to investigate beyond their low-level mandate, and do not authorize them to use force, it will result in much safer and less biased everyday interactions with the police for everyone.

        That might work for big-City departments, but I don’t it would work for small town departments that have two to four officers on-shift during most hours.

        Come to think of it, there is a small town I’m aware of which has the reputation of funding their Police Department by issuing speeding tickets to not-local drivers who don’t slow down enough when they enter the town.

        This locality rarely sees a murder, let alone a violent confrontation between a policeman and a non-policeman.

        I wonder what that small town department is thinking now…

        • Jake says:

          Does the small town even need to have a force-authorized police department then, or could they just call in the county unit if they need it? I may be wrong, but I don’t think small towns are where a lot of the problems are coming from, though that may just be an artifact of more people living in bigger towns, so stories get reported more from large towns. If your department is mostly for issuing speeding tickets to out-of-towners, and throwing Bob and Bill in the drunk tank overnight so they don’t drive home drunk, do you really need to have weapons for that?

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            County sheriff deputies have guns because they might have to confront a lawbreaker with a gun: the Second Amendment, you know?
            Look at the Andy Griffith Show for an example of how mass media fiction used to view rural policing: there was no violence in Mayberry, so a deputy carried an empty pistol and made neurotic rants about if he ever needed the bullet he stored separately.

          • Jake says:

            @Le Maistre Chat
            I agree that’s how it is now. Deputies need to have guns because of the risk of escalation with the people they are dealing with. However, would that risk still be there if it was widely known that the deputies were not allowed to escalate like they currently are, did not carry guns, and were wearing always-on cameras that broadcast back to HQ. This may also be combined with much harsher penalties for assaulting an unarmed officer (enforced by the higher-level force-using guys with guns).

            Mayberry is actually the ideal I was looking for. There is no violence, so carrying a weapon doesn’t help. I’m looking to pull the large majority of police interactions into a guaranteed non-violent realm, though the caveat is, if you break that non-violence pact from either side, the law will crack down 10x as hard as before.

          • John Schilling says:

            I agree that’s how it is now. Deputies need to have guns because of the risk of escalation with the people they are dealing with. However, would that risk still be there if it was widely known that the deputies were not allowed to escalate like they currently are, did not carry guns, and were wearing always-on cameras that broadcast back to HQ.

            Deputies, etc, have to carry guns, not just in the United States but in basically every country on Earth that is not the UK and including even the giant gun-free zone that is Japan, because professional criminals have to carry guns. Professional criminals have to carry guns because they can’t count on the police to protect them or the courts to resolve their disputes, and the equilibrium where the entire criminal community avoids that otherwise very profitable arms race is a rare and delicate thing that we’re not going to duplicate here.

            Given that the professional criminals are going to be carrying guns, the temptation to use them to avoid being arrested by an unarmed police force is going to be very high. And that’s going to result in cops getting shot.

            I don’t see how you can avoid that without essentially promising the professional criminals that ordinary cops will not try to arrest them when they find it, and sticking to it. Or that the arrests will be a catch-and-release sort of thing so long as the criminals go along with it. Otherwise, yes, the criminal who resists arrest with a gun is the subject of a manhunt and will probably go to jail in the very near future, but resisting is safe and easy, he won’t be shot, and the criminal who doesn’t resist will definitely be going to jail, right now. Criminals not being big on deferred gratification, they’re going to look at the cop trying to throw them in jail right now, and the gun they have and the cop doesn’t, and some of them are going to shoot the cop.

            If you do robustly implement a policy of ordinary cops not arresting armed criminals when they find them, or of such arrests being basically catch-and-release, then every time some pretty white woman gets killed by a professional criminal then Fox News and even CNN are going to be running the story of the many times he was caught by the police and sent off with a warning because ordinary cops aren’t supposed to stop armed professional criminals. Good luck keeping that policy in force.

      • Controls Freak says:

        If you have a department just for the low-level offenses that almost everyone is guilty of (traffic violations, ordinance enforcement, minor drug possession maybe), but do not give them authorization to investigate beyond their low-level mandate, and do not authorize them to use force

        Suppose you do this, and in response, [content warning: bad] this video starts getting spread to even more people than the ones who know about it now (or other videos like it). Quickly, no one with two brain cells to rub together is willing to apply for positions in your, “Minor crimes, but roulette wheel for certain death with literally no chance to do anything about it” Department. At least that guy had a chance, being armed and authorized to use force. This department has literally zero chance. What next?

        (I think you can convince people to do jobs like meter maids, as 99% of the time, they’ll just be interacting with an empty car, not a person. Thus, a small chance of an encounter with a person being combined with a small chance of that encounter going really really badly is sufficiently small that folks will maybe sign up for it. Asking someone to constantly interact with folks to give them tickets or arrest them for minor offenses ramps up the risk precipitously.)

        • Paul Zrimsek says:

          I don’t see why no one would apply. It’s a steady job, probably with good benefits.

        • thisheavenlyconjugation says:

          Surely there are some people who can correctly assess the risk of doing that job (based on the numbers of police officers currently killed in those kinds of situations, it would be pretty low).

        • Edward Scizorhands says:

          There are lots of jobs that involve making strangers unhappy and you don’t need to be armed, or armored, to do them.

          If a grocery store clerk cards someone who doesn’t have ID and they get angry, that could turn out dangerous. And I’m sure some clerks have died. But we haven’t decided that the police must do it.

    • Nancy Lebovitz says:

      Weakening the police unions is important. I don’t know how that can be done.

      Taking complaints of abuse by the police seriously, and this means firing abusive police early. See above about the unions.

      Enforce policies limiting the use of force– all it would have taken to not kill Eirc Garner and George Floyd would have been to just enforce policies forbidding choke holds.

      Teach de-escalation.

    • LadyJane says:

      1. End the legal doctrine of qualified immunity, which has consistently allowed police officers in the US to get away with excessive use of force and all sorts of abuses of power in general. From now on, police will be held to the same standards as civilians when it comes to using violence in self-defense.

      2. Abolish the grand jury system, or at the very least, stop using grand juries to decide the outcome of police misconduct trials. There’s strong evidence that grand juries unfairly favor the police, and the US is the only country other than Liberia that still uses this antiquated system. Normal randomly-selected civilian juries would probably be a lot more likely to convict police officers.

      Those would be my biggest demands, and I think those two changes alone would do a world of good. But there are some other policies that I also think would help:

      3. Require police officers to wear body cameras at all times, and prohibit them from turning their cameras off, except during special circumstances like undercover investigations. If a police officer turns off their body camera or their camera has a convenient malfunction right before a violent incident occurs, that should be treated as strong evidence of guilt unless there’s other evidence to the contrary.

      4. Demilitarize police forces. Military-grade weapons, equipment, and vehicles should be reserved for SWAT teams with specialized training who are only deployed in extreme emergencies, as they are in virtually every other developed country. Rank-and-file officers shouldn’t be driving around in APVs or walking around with assault weapons.

      5. Have police forces work more closely with community leaders to build trust with local residents and better understand the issues facing the area they’re patrolling. Where possible, have police officers assigned to the same neighborhoods they live in. Police should be a part of the community, not an occupying force above and beyond it.

      6. Give police officers more and better training for dealing with conflicts and other high-stress situations, with an increased emphasis on de-escalation and peaceful resolutions. They should also receive special training for dealing with people who are mentally ill (at present, the mentally ill are killed by police at a higher rate than any racial or ethnic demographic group). Officers working in racially diverse areas should be given racial sensitivity training as well.

      7. Set higher standards for who can become a police officer in the first place, particularly with regard to intellectual, social, and emotional intelligence and psychological stability. (This is probably less feasible in smaller municipalities, but I think it can be implemented in large cities without limiting the size of the police force too much.)

      In addition to the reforms listed above, there are also some perverse incentives that need to be dealt with:

      8. Stop rewarding police officers for making arrests. At present, both individual officers and police forces as a whole stand to profit from a higher arrest rate in the form of promotions, extra work, paid court appearances, increased federal and state funding, and so forth. Not only does this incentivize officers to arrest as many people as possible, it also discourages them from focusing on more serious crimes: An officer will be better served by going after a large number of low-level offenders (drug users, people selling loose cigarettes on the street, etc.), rather than devoting their time to a smaller number of more serious cases that might require a lengthy investigation to actually result in an arrest.

      9. Likewise, stop rewarding police officers for giving out fines. Under the current situation, the amount of money that a municipal government makes in fines has a direct correlation on how much funding the local police force gets, which in turn affects how much individual officers make. Officers are also more likely to get raises and promotions if they give out a lot of tickets. There are supposedly some municipalities in the US where they even get paid a bonus for each ticket they give out (I’m not sure if that’s actually true, but even if it isn’t, there are more than enough indirect incentives to have an effect). Once again, this encourages police to go after a lot of low-level offenders (people driving slightly over the speed limit, people dodging the fare on buses and trains, petty vandals and graffiti artists), and it also fosters a general climate of hostility between the officers and the people they’re supposed to protect and serve.

      10. End the practice of civil asset forfeiture, which likewise encourages police to go after as many people as possible, and has additionally been used to justify outright theft and literal highway robbery. The only assets that law enforcement should be allowed to seize are illicit contraband, stolen goods (which should be returned to the rightful owners where possible), and any objects that are considered to be material evidence in an ongoing investigation or trial (which should be returned to the proper owners when the case ends). The police should not have carte blanche to steal whatever they want from anyone even suspected of being involved in criminal activity.

      Finally, there are some broader political reforms that don’t directly relate to police misconduct, but are closely tied to the issue. These aren’t as necessary as the other reforms, but are still likely to further reduce police misconduct:

      11. Abolish for-profit private prisons, as they create far too many perverse incentives for both law enforcement organizations and the judicial system. Additionally, set a minimum wage for prisoners; their use as a source of extremely cheap labor creates a similar set of perverse incentives, even in government-run prisons.

      12. Set stricter rules governing the use of money collected from tickets and fines. For instance, there could be a provision that fines should only be used for repairs and maintenance costs related to the offense that warranted those fines, with any additional money donated to charity or to a community pot rather than going into city hall’s coffers. Right now, there’s simply too strong of a temptation for municipal governments to rely on fines as a perpetual source of free extra money.

      • bullseye says:

        I don’t think grand juries are actually a problem.

        As I understand it, the grand jury pretty much always provides the result that the prosecutor wants. Typically this means rubber-stamping the case so it moves on to trial. But when the prosecutor doesn’t actually want to prosecute, they deliberately fail to convince the grand jury. If we had those cases go to trial anyway, a prosecutor who doesn’t want to prosecute will just lose the trial.

        The actual problem is that the prosecutor prosecuting the police is the very same person who needs to cooperate with those same police in order to put away regular criminals. The solution is to bring in prosecutors from the outside in the event of police misconduct (e.g., a state prosecutor going after local police).

        • A more radical solution would be to permit private prosecution of criminal offenses. That was the normal procedure in 18th century England, and is still possible in present-day England, although I gather with enough restrictions so that it rarely happens.

          A still more radical solution would be to revive the Appeal of Felony in the common law, an entirely private suit, like a tort action, with criminal penalties. If someone is convicted in a privately prosecuted criminal case the crown in England or equivalent here can still pardon him. If convicted in an Appeal of Felony the crown could not pardon him, just as the crown could not cancel the damages awarded in a tort suit.

          That action still existed in 18th century England but was, for most purposes, no longer of practical use.

          Now I will let the rest of you get back to tinkering with details of the modern system.

      • gbdub says:

        Most of these are pretty good. A couple minor quibbles:
        1. Qualified immunity results in only civil penalties. Criminal penalties are likely to be a better deterrent, and I don’t want to lean to hard on the sort of poor people who tend to interact with police to have to come up with a lawyer good enough to sue and beat the police union’s. So it’s a good idea, but the impact might be overrated.

        Also holding police to the same standards for use of force as civilians is not, I think, feasible or desirable. After all, we expect police to, as a core job function, physically detain people who have a strong motivation to not cooperate. But increasing the standard on use of deadly force clearly needs to move much closer to the civilian rules. No more “he had his hand in the general vicinity of his waistband so I feared for my life!”

        On 4., I also agree but think this is highly overrated – it seems like for the most part the really egregious cases of police brutality are beat cops using their hands, their clubs, and their service pistols. By and large they are not mowing down people with assault rifles or running them over with tanks. Restricting gear to SWAT might even make things worse – SWAT teams are expensive to maintain and local authorities and going to be itchy to justify their existence.

        To me the bigger “police militarization” problem is basically one of attitude. Treating policing like a war against an enemy creates a bad mindset and incentives.

        • Garrett says:

          Civil suits have the impact of not only civil penalties, but also the opportunity for discovery. Going from “mouthy ass gets improperly struck by police officer, pay $5,000” to “here’s a long list of excessive force complaints plus all associated video” which could be released to the public is a useful counterbalance, even if it doesn’t result in more money being handed around.

      • cassander says:

        1. End the legal doctrine of qualified immunity, which has consistently allowed police officers in the US to get away with excessive use of force and all sorts of abuses of power in general. From now on, police will be held to the same standards as civilians when it comes to using violence in self-defense.

        This is meaningless without also stripping them of their unions and civil service protections, which the democrats will never do.

        4. Demilitarize police forces. Military-grade weapons, equipment, and vehicles should be reserved for SWAT teams with specialized training who are only deployed in extreme emergencies, as they are in virtually every other developed country. Rank-and-file officers shouldn’t be driving around in APVs or walking around with assault weapons.

        This requires a much more precise term than assault weapon.

        5. Have police forces work more closely with community leaders to build trust with local residents and better understand the issues facing the area they’re patrolling. Where possible, have police officers assigned to the same neighborhoods they live in. Police should be a part of the community, not an occupying force above and beyond it.

        this sounds like a recipe for cronyism and patronage to me.

        7. Set higher standards for who can become a police officer in the first place, particularly with regard to intellectual, social, and emotional intelligence and psychological stability. (This is probably less feasible in smaller municipalities, but I think it can be implemented in large cities without limiting the size of the police force too much.)

        At what cost?

        8.An officer will be better served by going after a large number of low-level offenders (drug users, people selling loose cigarettes on the street, etc.), rather than devoting their time to a smaller number of more serious cases that might require a lengthy investigation to actually result in an arrest.

        Most cops aren’t detectives and I don’t think that many are rewarded for making arrests. Fines? definitely. but not arrests. And the problem with people getting arrested for selling cigarettes is that that shouldn’t be a crime in the first place, not that too many people are arrested for doing it.

        11. Abolish for-profit private prisons, as they create far too many perverse incentives for both law enforcement organizations and the judicial system. Additionally, set a minimum wage for prisoners; their use as a source of extremely cheap labor creates a similar set of perverse incentives, even in government-run prisons.

        Government run prison guard unions are considerably more powerful in this regard than any private company or group of them. abolishing private prisons makes the incentives WORSE, not better.

        Overall, your suggestions look to largely ineffectual, more a list of things you don’t like and some shibboleths than a look at the incentives faced by law enforcement and attempt to improve them.

        • Edward Scizorhands says:

          stripping them of their unions and civil service protections

          Having both is bad. But why would having just civil service protections be bad?

          • cassander says:

            I’m saying it won’t be any better. Because if you have those protections, the first thing the unions will do demand that the union or city step in between individual officers and direct liability, either explicitly or through work rules that achieve much the same effect through lengthy process requirements. And this is not hypothetical, it already happens.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            Wait, I thought we were talking about only having just civil service protections, no union at all. So there won’t be a union to demand anything.

    • Edward Scizorhands says:

      Ferguson had a big demographic shift, where a mostly-white community with a mostly-white police force became black. But it takes time for the workers to attrition out. You can’t just fire the white cops for being white.

    • Noah says:

      Gender makeup? My expectation is you’ll have a lot of trouble finding that many women who are willing to be cops.

      • DarkTigger says:

        Idk, in Germany it’s usual for police patrols to be pairs of male/female officers.
        But I admit that there were some incidents the last years, that looked like they needed to change the rules to get enough female recruits.

        Ninja-edit: This should also match the expection of the audience here. If me expect profession joices by different genders/sexes split at a people/things line. Police work looks to me to be about as much in the people as in the things department.

    • salvorhardin says:

      I’m going to outsource my response to Campaign Zero, https://www.joincampaignzero.org/

      I can’t say I’d necessarily agree with 100% of what they want if I dug into the evidence pro and con really carefully, but I don’t have the spare time to do that and they have and did, so “enact their 10 point plan” seems like a pretty good approximation to go with to me.

    • viVI_IViv says:

      stronger affirmative action to ensure the racial and gender makeup of police forces matches that of the communities they serve;

      I’m pretty sure that I’ve read some statistic that the race of the police officer doesn’t correlate with the race of the people they shoot.

      I’d add to this a much stronger preference in favor of hiring from the community itself. This could (a) improve police-community relations, (b) disrupt entrenched department cultures of bad people hiring other bad people, and (c) funnel resources and middle-class jobs into disadvantaged communities.

      This comes with the risk of handing out badges to the local gang members or gang-adjacent thugs.

    • cassander says:

      (b) disrupt entrenched department cultures of bad people hiring other bad people,

      How would it do that?

      and (c) funnel resources and middle-class jobs into disadvantaged communities.

      if the locals had the skills/education/experience to have middle class jobs, they presumably wouldn’t be disadvantaged.

    • zzzzort says:

      I probably agree with Eric T in practice, but if I was trying to design my law enforcement utopia, I would start by completely disbanding the police force as it actually exists. This gets around the current union contracts and turnover problems, and helps reset the culture. Have limits on use of force, stronger civilian oversight, and training in de-escalation and handling stress. Further, reorganize the force so that most people don’t have guns, and roles are more defined to prevent mission creep.

      -gendarmes: people with guns, no more than 10% of the total force, only called if there is a weapon at the scene.
      -detectives: people that investigate crimes like on TV, which modern police forces tend to do a crappy job of
      -peace officers: people who walk beats and deal with most calls, traffic tickets, noise complaints, police reports for insurance purposes; most of the things police spend their time on. Unarmed or just tasers and pepper spray, and localized as much as possible.
      -social workers: people who deal with mental health issues, addiction, and homelessness, and get sent with peace officers to domestic violence calls.

      • John Schilling says:

        -peace officers: people who walk beats and deal with most calls, traffic tickets, noise complaints, police reports for insurance purposes; most of the things police spend their time on. Unarmed or just tasers and pepper spray, and localized as much as possible.

        What happens when these people meet actual armed-and-dangerous type criminals, and there isn’t conveniently a gendarme around the next corner? If the answer is “carry on with your dangerous armed criming, good sir, it’s not my job to intrude upon such things”, I predict public support for this plan is going to fall off real fast.

        • fibio says:

          Meanwhile in Britain…

        • Ketil says:

          What happens when these people meet actual armed-and-dangerous type criminals, and there isn’t conveniently a gendarme around the next corner?

          How often does this happen? That is, that a patrolling officer stumbles upon armed criminals? Probably a lot more often in the US than in UK, but I still think the average burglar, drug dealer, or traffic violator will be unarmed (any statistics on this?)- and certainly not willing to risk killing a cop.

          On the other hand, the Breonna Taylor case started with a drug raid, her boyfriend opened fire on the police, and in the ensuing gunfight, Taylor was killed. Do you send unarmed cops on such raids (which would likely have resulted in dead officers) or do you send the armed ones (the results of which we know). [Edit: Maybe not the best example, if you believe the criticism of the police, Taylor and her boyfriend didn’t know it was cops and thought they were defending themselves from burglars]

          In the George Floyd case, no guns were involved.

          • DarkTigger says:

            As far as I understand it, british cops are/were usually not armed with fireweapons. When they encountered a situation that need fireweapons (i.e. beeing shot at) they retreat to a secure distance and call special “Fire Teams”. Those teams are usually able to react quite fast.
            This has big benefits: For the usual policeofficers more concentration can be lead on training deescalation-techniques, while the armed cops can concentrate their training on fireweapons and tactics.

          • zzzzort says:

            No knock warrants shouldn’t be a thing except in the most exceptional circumstances.

          • John Schilling says:

            How often does this happen? That is, that a patrolling officer stumbles upon armed criminals?

            How many armed criminals have you got?

            The issue is not that the average beat-cop-v-criminal encounter is with an armed or otherwise highly dangerous criminal, it’s that the end of the average highly dangerous criminal’s career involves a random encounter with a beat cop (or traffic cop, or the like). The model where the clever detectives figure out whodunnit and then the SWAT team serves a warrant at their house is very much the exception. Even when the clever detective does figure out whodunnit, the next step is just to put out a warrant and wait for an ordinary cop to stumble across the guy in the course of his ordinary duties. If the clever-detective-and-SWAT-team model is our only way of dealing with armed and/or dangerous criminals, we’re going to have a lot more of that sort of criminal.

            And often the reason we know whodunnit is that a beat cop was close enough to respond to the call while the crime was still in progress, whereas the much rarer detectives and SWAT teams would have arrived too late. Note the already-cited example. At the Stoneman massacre, the only remotely cop-like person in a position to stop it was an ordinary Sheriff’s deputy assigned to school resource officer duty. That’s pretty standard in mass shootings, and lesser but still deadly crimes like armed robberies gone bad. As seen at Stoneman, there is a very strong cultural expectation that if there’s one ordinary cop on the scene, he ought to try and stop the massacre/robbery/whatever even if the criminal does have a gun.

  4. Eric T says:

    A new poll from Gallup shows support for same-sex marriage is at 67% nationwide.

    But only one short lifetime of this young SSC poster ago, opposition was at 68%, and support a meager 27%.

    In my brief 23 years of life the country has basically done a complete 180 on same-sex marriage. So get your predictions in here, in 20 more years what “fringe” idea with under 30% support will be widely popular?

    • Eric T says:

      My completely BS prediction is Animal Ownership. I believe that in about 20 years or so, Americans will be majority opposed to owning pets.

      • TimG says:

        I believe that in about 20 years or so, Americans will be majority opposed to owning pets.

        I consider myself kinda centrist. Not by policy. Just that I tend to lean slightly left of center on social issues and slightly right of center on economic issues.

        I’ve been somewhat surprised to find myself really disliking zoos over the past few years. I’ve started to feel uncomfortable around people that treat their dogs like children (though I’m careful to never mention that.) And then I read things about how cats kill like a billion birds a year and it makes me ever-so-slightly against pet ownership.

        The strange thing is that I eat meat — and enjoy it. I wouldn’t want to outlaw factory farms. (Though I would happily shift to lab-grown-meat when it’s ready.) So I can’t say that my slight-disdain for pets makes any logic sense in combination with the rest of what I believe.

      • Anteros says:

        @Eric T
        Interesting – is that because you have some antipathy (like TimG below) towards animal ownership? I ask because otherwise I’d guess it would be a fairly unlikely thing to come up with.

        • Eric T says:

          Like I said, this is a BS prediction anyway not based on anything but my gut. Here’s my thought process (and no I actually like pets, I want a dog myself once I move somewhere more pet-friendly)

          1. There are a lot of issues with modern pet ownership. Puppy mills, people abandoning pets, people abusing pets etc.
          2. These incidents are, while probably quite rare, very well-publicized. People share videos of like animals being rescued from abusers all the time.
          3. It’s fairly non-political. Everyone loves animals. Dems may lean more on the animal rights stuff, but there are a lot of republican or at least religious, animal shelters, charities, etc. People love animals and care deeply about them.
          4. As our sort of “sphere of compassion” extends, animals have gotten more rights, more protections, and are sometimes treated better than humans by the public zeitgeist. When a Lion gets shot by a dentist it generates nothing but universal revulsion, something that people getting killed doesn’t usually do.
          5. There are already large, well-funded organizations that support this, like PETA. PETA is crazy, but they apparently have infinite money and lots of popular support in some circles.
          6. There are less crazy orgs pushing for greater public care of animal rights generally. Humane League for example.
          7. I think all of this could come to a head very fast if there was some new evidence or at least a couple high-profile animal abuse cases.

          • Anteros says:

            Maybe this is country-specific. I’m a Brit’, and if there was a pet lobby in Britain it would have at least the power of the NRA in the States. And I think that the majority of pets in Britain are treated extremely well, if in a slightly pampered manner.

            I’m be really surprised if feelings about pet ownership changed as much as those about gay marriage, but then that itself, as you say, was an enormous surprise, so who knows..

      • Lodore says:

        I don’t think this prediction will come true, but I would like it to come true. I increasingly find myself slightly appalled at the narcissism that pet owners put on display with respect to their pets. It’s like wanting a friend who never criticises you, always agrees with your plans for what you do together, never snaps back no matter how shitty you are, and who will never dilute their friendship by getting another friend. In fact, it’s like selectively breeding for these traits, as well as a couple of others, at the expense of the health and wellbeing of the friend.

        I can’t see how this is remotely healthy, though I guess smaller families and social networks means pets aren’t going away any time soon.

        • HarmlessFrog says:

          Also: Baby substitutes.

        • Nancy Lebovitz says:

          Maybe dog owners are something like that, but cats set some limits.

          • Anteros says:

            Absolutely – our cats treat us as the pets, and do whatever they please.

          • Lodore says:

            Maybe dog owners are something like that, but cats set some limits.

            It’s probably harder to play that game with cats for sure, but where there’s a will, there’s a way. A colleague of mine is a very intelligent, perspicacious academic, and yet she insists that her cat enjoys the same rich subjectivity as a human being. The result is that the cat is made the centre of a cognitive ecosystem that’s appropriate to a human being, and hence cruel for a cat.

      • Paul Zrimsek says:

        Doubtful. The sort of people who’d ordinarily scold us into that, own like 6 cats apiece.

      • Edward Scizorhands says:

        I wouldn’t mind too much if pet ownership went away.

        But it won’t. Pet ownership is on the rise as people have less kids. You need to start from a condition where pet ownership is rare in order to make it illegal.

        • Le Maistre Chat says:

          Pet ownership is on the rise as people have less kids. You need to start from a condition where pet ownership is rare in order to make it illegal.

          Furthermore, there’s a failure to model future processes in any wish to make owning pets illegal.
          I was raised in a working-class neighborhood by parents who had a German Shepherd, a big wolf-like mutt, and guns. Our neighbors on both sides of chain-link fencing had big dogs like Dobermanns our dogs would run with.
          Think about the optics of cops coming to people’s doors for violating a new law that it’s illegal to own pets when they have dogs like this they love and also guns.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            Police (at least in the US) have a history of being rather casual about killing people’s dogs.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            @Nancy: This seems very relevant to the current police brutality conversation!
            Yes, US police seem to express callous, deadly cruelty to the dogs of people they try to arrest. The media lets them get away with this. I think the question is, how would they get away with scaling that up to tens of millions of dog-loving working-class families who believe in the Second Amendment?
            The logistical scale of enforcing a newly-passed law against owning pets that requires going to millions of doors where the cops will have to face GSDs, Rottweilers, pit bulls etc etc defending their loving owners who see it as an unjust law to fight would be functionally similar to a major military campaign. A major military campaign of barging in on civilians is a dangerous PITA even if the media is on your side.

      • Lord Nelson says:

        Disagree on animal ownership. I hang out with a fair number of vegetarians, vegans, and animal welfare supporters (and fall firmly into the last category myself). I don’t see anyone arguing against ownership of domesticated animals.

        For something animal welfare related, my guess would be a push towards meat substitutes. This already happened with fur vs faux fur. I wouldn’t be surprised if it happened in the next 10-20 years with meat and dairy products, especially as said substitutes get tastier. I had to cut all eggs and dairy out of my diet for five years due to medical reasons. I was pleasantly surprised to find that some of the vegan options were not just tolerable, but actually good! Some of the others still have a ways to go, but most of the problems were with texture and consistency, not taste.

        Edit : Oops, didn’t see that someone else already mentioned this. Guess that’s what I get for not scrolling down.

      • eric23 says:

        I think people on average are much too attached to their cats and dogs (and steaks and omelettes) to give them up, despite the good arguments that could be advanced for banning them. Supporting gay marriage, in contrast, doesn’t require making any changes to your life.

    • johan_larson says:

      I think meat may be ready for the same sort of quality revolution that coffee went through in the nineties. Right now, eating standard supermarket meat is basically considered ok. Demanding something better is pretty fringe. I expect that to shift, with more demand for higher-quality meat, and more attention paid to how slaughtered animals are kept and fed.

      • HarmlessFrog says:

        This would be great. I’d definitely like to see animals not fed corn and soy, but something more resembling their natural diets.

        Why do you think this will happen?

        • johan_larson says:

          First, there is a lot of room for improvement in how we house and feed food animals. Every time I’ve gone looking, I’ve come away horrified. And second, since the seventies we have found time to improve the quality of foods that are a whole lot less important than the meat we eat. These days it’s easy to find high-quality wine, beer, chocolate, whiskey, and coffee if you care even a little. And people with money do care. Meat looks like an obvious opportunity. Who’s going to be the Starbucks of almost-artisanal meat?

      • eric23 says:

        I don’t think so, because the median person won’t be able to afford that.

      • Spookykou says:

        I am possible confused by what you mean when you say meat quality, but assuming you are using it the way I think you are.

        As a lower middle class American I had access to better meat at my local grocery store than the top 0.1% Chinese people I now occasionally have cause to eat with. I have even eaten at a couple Michelin star restaurants including a steak house in Hong Kong, and I just have no idea what you are talking about. Maybe it is regional, but the meat at my local grocery store in Texas was very good.

    • HarmlessFrog says:

      So get your predictions in here, in 20 more years what “fringe” idea with under 30% support will be widely popular?

      By “popular” you mean “accepted and supported by the majority but practiced only by a small minority”?

      • Eric T says:

        By “popular” you mean “accepted and supported by the majority but practiced only by a small minority”?

        Both my original post and both polls it cites are about the support of the legalization of gay marriage, not the practice of doing it personally. Note that this isn’t just people moving from indifferent to support, the supermajority OPPOSED legalization of gay marriage when I was born. So I’m more asking about that kind of opinion sea-change I guess?

    • Thomas Jorgensen says:

      Since my operating theory is that the massive shift of opinion is due to the fact that things that become manifest and work out well are far more persuasive than any argument…

      Electric Cars. As in, people will love them, and the gasoline engine will be consigned to the scrapheap of history, as far as personal vehicular transit is concerned. Possibly self-driving, too.

      • Paul Zrimsek says:

        As a driver who loves quiet and loves torque, I say the sooner the better. But they’ll have to solve the charging-time issue first. (As an alternative, they could get range up to a full day’s driving– say, 600 highway miles, though 700 would be better. Then when I’m on a cross-country trip, I can let it charge while I’m stopped for the night and who cares if it takes a few hours?)

        • Thomas Jorgensen says:

          No, this is exactly what I mean. I dont expect super fast charging to become common place, I just expect people to utterly stop caring their car spends the entire night charging, because that is not an actual, practical problem. I also do not expect me saying this to sway very many people – only the practical experience that this is in fact not a significant inconvenience will do that.

          • Thomas Jorgensen says:

            If you own a car, you have someplace to park it, or you would not have bothered with the expense at all. Dedicated parking spaces will sprout wall warts, streets with reserved curb side parking will spout little steel poles with outlets on them. This sort of thing is not that expensive to do in job lots – installing just once steel pole? Ouch. Your utility putting up one for every house on the block in one go, no biggy.

          • Tarpitz says:

            The actual, practical problem is the range. Oxford-Edinburgh taking 24 hours instead of 6 is a pretty big deal.

          • Paul Zrimsek says:

            They’re not doing too badly on range nowadays: the longest-range models can take you about as far as a smallish tank of gas. But if it’s a long trip, once you run through that you’re still looking at over half an hour to recharge. Not the end of the world, but enough of a hassle for me to stick with internal combustion for now.

          • AG says:

            People are constantly charging their phones, though, and that doesn’t stop them from continuing to use power-hungry phones. I think that most will simply carry over the “charge at every opportunity” mindset to their cars, and demand infrastructure change to accommodate that demand, the way that plentiful Wifi and electrical outlets are now the norm in airports.

          • Randy M says:

            We seemed to have solved this problem in our AP chem class twenty years ago, so I assume it actually isn’t a solution. But, why not standardize the size of batteries, then simply swap them out at designated recharge stations? In, out, in the time it takes to fill up a tank of gas. Then your old battery is set to recharge.

            It would require a lot of batteries and a lot of power, making it a rather dangerous place requiring a lot of space. How does this compare to keeping massive tanks of flammable liquid underground?

          • baconbits9 says:

            But, why not standardize the size of batteries, then simply swap them out at designated recharge stations? In, out, in the time it takes to fill up a tank of gas. Then your old battery is set to recharge.

            One of the issues I have heard about is that there is a huge gap in the value of a new battery and an older one, so you have to figure out ways to compensate people who end up with older batteries in their new cars.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            Battery swap works if you lease the batteries from a company and that company lets you swap them at will.

          • sfoil says:

            @RandyM

            The battery pack in a Tesla Model 3 and the Chevy Bolt both weigh around 1000lbs; the Cybertruck apparently has over 3000 lbs worth of batteries. The Chevy Spark’s batteries weigh only about 470lbs, but it also has a sub-100 mile range.

            Replacing the batteries on these vehicles is much closer to replacing a transmission than to refueling a gas/diesel car. Even if these vehicles were designed for easier battery replacement, you would be looking at moving at least a literal ton of material each time. And of course, different vehicles use different types of batteries.

          • gbdub says:

            Presumably in a “battery swap” world, you would never own your batteries, just rent them from the nearest battery station. Maybe you’d have to have some sort of deposit on hand, or your insurance would cover it. But either way, you wouldn’t care if you got an old battery at this fill up because you’re only going to use it for one charge.

            Maybe you’d pay extra for a “premium” battery with a higher capacity, where “premium” just means a lower cycle count?

          • Randy M says:

            Well, that answers that except for golf cart size cars that aren’t going cross country anyway.
            I should have known it would be >> than a standard car battery, though 1000 lbs still seems very heavy.

          • John Schilling says:

            But either way, you wouldn’t care if you got an old battery at this fill up because you’re only going to use it for one charge.

            Which may be more absolutely true than you were expecting. You spend $60,000 on a new Tesla, drive it two hundred miles, and swap out the battery pack. The next day you drive another two hundred miles, pull into the service station, and the computer goes “Ding!” and says that the battery pack you got from the last station is expired, it no longer meets spec and cannot be safely recharged for one more cycle. So now you’ve got a car that you payed $60,000 for only two days ago, that has no propulsion system. And you’ve got five hundred pounds of hazardous waste, that the service station will not accept in trade for a shiny new battery. And you’re looking at a $20,000 bill for a replacement battery.

            “Oh, my insurance will pay for it”, or “…the battery-leasing company” or whatnot, might be plausible if those are vertically-integrated monopolies run by the same people who sell the cars and run the service stations, but that puts you at a lot of risk when you buy into such a closed ecosystem. Trying to establish such a solution ex nihilo, across a competitive market on a national scale, represents a huge coordination problem that probably isn’t going to coordinate itself any time soon.

          • Evelyn Q. Greene says:

            just expect people to utterly stop caring their car spends the entire night charging, because that is not an actual, practical problem.

            I really wonder how anyone can think this. On a long trip, a less than ten minute stop vs. a 8 hours of charging (and hotel room) is massive inconvenience.

          • Thomas Jorgensen says:

            And as I expected, nobody persuaded.
            Predictions: Electric cars will “standardize” their battery sizes at the upper end of a plausible daily commute + 30%. 300 km range (this is 3 hours of driving at highway speed. If your commute is longer than this, MOVE). thereabouts, with the goal being that as long as you plug it in every day, you will never, in daily use see battery go below 30%. And people will plug it in every day.

            On top of this, the long distance artery highways will get super charger stations with fast food and other minor commerce attached. These will be mostly empty, except for holidays, where they will be straining at the seams because people will prefer to charge at home, because they do not have to drive out of their way or sit twiddling their thumbs to do that. The holiday related thumb twiddling will just be tolerated, much like people put up with the kids going “are we there yet” from the back seat to visit ski resorts. – it is twice a year, and thus just not important enough to outweigh the upsides.

            Cars with longer ranges will also be sold, but the target customer for that amount of More Battery, MORE will be customers who drive for a living, or those who routinely exceed the speed limit. Prices will reflect that.

          • CatCube says:

            I’m also curious what happens when plans change or something fails. This is easy to deal with if filling or charging only takes 10 or 20 minutes, but if it takes many hours that seems very inflexible.

            If I can fill up in 10 minutes, if I decide I want to go a few hundred miles more based on how I’m feeling, I can do that. If I’m near the end of the battery, nope, gotta stop right now. Hopefully you made it to wherever your reservations were.

            Or, what happens if you discover the charge failed overnight (e.g., a power failure)? You get up, eat breakfast, and head out to your car to find that it doesn’t have a full charge. If the gas station you’re at is out of gas, or you can’t fill because there’s no electricity, you can drive to another one and it’ll only take 10 minutes. If it’s a charger, you either can only get a little ways down the road before having to stop again, or spend another night where you are to get a full charge.

            This is one of those things where it won’t go wrong often, but when it goes wrong it’s going to *reeeealy* go wrong.

          • CatCube says:

            @Thomas Jorgensen

            You posted while I was writing, so sorry for the 2x post, but what?! A 185 mile range is what you think everybody will need?!

            Two weeks ago I had to go out for an inspection, and put 220 miles on my car in two days back to back. If I have to stop for hours every 185 miles, I’m never going to get an electric vehicle. I don’t need this range *often* but when I need it, I really need it. There’s pretty significant option value to not being shackled to a piddly little battery range.

          • Evelyn Q. Greene says:

            Do you really only drive more that 300km (round trip) twice a year?

          • baconbits9 says:

            Electric cars will “standardize” their battery sizes at the upper end of a plausible daily commute + 30%

            If they do this they will never occupy more than a niche (barring aggressive government subsidization) in the car market.

          • Garrett says:

            @CatCube:

            > If I can fill up in 10 minutes, if I decide I want to go a few hundred miles more based on how I’m feeling, I can do that.

            Tesla’s superchargers can get something like 80% charge in 30 minutes. It’s certainly not as good as pumping in a few gallons of dino-juice. But I suspect that it’s mostly good enough. For people doing the occasional road trip it’s easy enough to schedule a breakfast/lunch/dinner break around such a charging.

            The bigger issue is that Tesla’s chargers are proprietary and the rest of the auto makers seem to be actively resisting the concept of making electric vehicles easy to own. Even Chevy (I have a Chevy Volt) which put effort into having a lot of its dealers have charging stations didn’t ensure that they were available 24/7 or even *outside*. It’s annoying to have to hand your vehicle over to someone to bring into a service bay to charge if so interested. It’s like getting gas in New Jersey with extra steps.

          • baconbits9 says:

            Tesla’s superchargers can get something like 80% charge in 30 minutes. It’s certainly not as good as pumping in a few gallons of dino-juice. But I suspect that it’s mostly good enough. For people doing the occasional road trip it’s easy enough to schedule a breakfast/lunch/dinner break around such a charging.

            Only as long as Tesla is a niche market, if it (and other electric cars) ever become a significant chunk of the cars on the road then the half hour charging time becomes a serious bottle-neck because that half hour is based on there being a completely open charger when you arrive. If you arrive to find a full charging station, which is not that uncommon with gas stations, your wait is now at least half an hour and for a busy traveling weekend (4th of July etc) it could easily be 3-4 cars ahead of you or a 2-3 hour wait.

            This is a dramatic underselling of the problem because the number of cars ahead of you at any station is going to (partly) be a function of the filling time. You can refill a car in 5 mins or less once you are at the pump without even rushing, but with a half hour charge time you need 6x as many chargers as pumps just to maintain that same number of cars ahead of you when you pull in, and to get it down to a half hour charge for everyone you need ~18x as many chargers as pumps.

            Long story short: the back of the envelope math says that if you pull into a highway gas station that currently has 8 pumps now for them to service half gas cars and half electric they would free up 4 pumps worth of space but need 72 charging stations maintain half hour charging times at peak loads.

          • Matt M says:

            If you arrive to find a full charging station, which is not that uncommon with gas stations

            Is it? The only time in my life I remember having to wait in line for gasoline was at the on-base gas station in the military, and then only during the morning/evening commuting hours, and only because it was significantly cheaper than “off-base” gas (presumably because it was exempted from CA state tax or something).

            But yes, the point remains. I was new car shopping a few years ago when I lived in an urban apartment complex, which provided itself on being hip and trendy. They had two charging-station specific parking spots installed in their garage. Of course, at least two people in the complex already owned Teslas. So the odds of me getting one of those spots were questionable, which made me pretty quickly rule out a Tesla as a likely purchase.

          • Paul Zrimsek says:

            Add to which: the amount of time you have to wait for a charger to come open won’t depend just on how long it takes the current* occupant to finish charging, but on how long it takes them to finish lunch and come back out to see whether they’ve finished charging.

            *Har de har har

          • JayT says:

            The thing is, Supercharger stations aren’t like gas stations where you go to a specific place just to fill up. You don’t need a huge amount of space or capital to build a supercharger, they can be added to pretty much any parking lot for not a huge cost. So, as electric cars become more popular, so will charging stations.

          • ana53294 says:

            Add to which: the amount of time you have to wait for a charger to come open won’t depend just on how long it takes the current* occupant to finish charging,

            AFAIU, Tesla chargers inform your smartphone that your car is charged, and charge you for every minute your car is in the charging spot.

            So people may leisurely eat, but they’ll have to pay for that.

          • baconbits9 says:

            You don’t need a huge amount of space or capital to build a supercharger, they can be added to pretty much any parking lot for not a huge cost. So, as electric cars become more popular, so will charging stations.

            I don’t know what the current numbers are but years ago the super-charging stations cost Tesla ~$150,000 each to install*, for ~4-5 cars each. That is a lot cheaper than a new gas station but an 8 pump station can fill 40x as many cars as a 4 spot supercharger.

            Trickle chargers are cheap and you can put them almost anywhere, but those aren’t super chargers, and unless costs have come down by a factor of 10 they certainly aren’t going to be everywhere.

            *That was with no value assigned to the space they took up, on average something like 400 sq ft for everything.

          • JayT says:

            I would guess that an 8 pump gas station would cost way more than $1.5 million though, so if you get four charging stations for $150K, it’s still cheaper, even if you need to put in ten, heck 20, of them.

          • baconbits9 says:

            I would guess that an 8 pump gas station would cost way more than $1.5 million though, so if you get four charging stations for $150K, it’s still cheaper, even if you need to put in ten, heck 20, of them.

            We already have the gas station infrastructure though, you only need to maintain it plus add a small percentage of the total here and there and not build an equivalent of half the infrastructure all over.

            And the ratio is 40x, not 10x and you need a ton more space which gets very expensive in dense areas.

          • Thomas Jorgensen says:

            You do not need super chargers in dense areas, though. Ever.

            As I have been saying, for day to day – and thus, within-city, driving, people will charge at home. Slowly. Super chargers are only really relevant for long distance highways… which means you can build those stations on the cheapest stretches of dirt you can find along said highways.

          • David W says:

            Fortunately, gas stations are feasible for an individual to build as a small business owner, so information is pretty googleable. It looks like the gasoline tank/pumps/etc themselves are in the range of $500K, not counting land or convenience store. Presumably these parts would be the same or more for a charging station.

          • AG says:

            How much are electric cars utilizing supplementary power generation methods? I remember seeing ads for a hybrid that would recharge batters from braking, and some amount of converting flywheel energy.

            Plus, if wireless charging infrastructure becomes viable, then urban driving could be reducing the rate of power drain constantly (use a transponder to charge vehicle owners for the service).

          • Paul Zrimsek says:

            AFAIU, Tesla chargers inform your smartphone that your car is charged, and charge you for every minute your car is in the charging spot.

            Good system then. If everyone’s quick-chargers standardize on that it will help matters.

            And the ratio is 40x, not 10x and you need a ton more space which gets very expensive in dense areas.

            I expect that nearly all of the gas that’s sold in dense areas today is burned in commuting or short trips around town. In an EV world that will be replaced by overnight charging from home and curbside trickle chargers. Fast charging is mainly for people who are far from home, and little of it should need to be located in the city.

          • JayT says:

            We already have the gas station infrastructure though, you only need to maintain it plus add a small percentage of the total here and there and not build an equivalent of half the infrastructure all over.

            We didn’t always have that infrastructure though, as demand for it increased, the number of fueling stations increased. As the demand for electric cars increase, the number of chargers available will increase.

            And the ratio is 40x, not 10x and you need a ton more space which gets very expensive in dense areas.

            I think your numbers are off. According to this the average time spent at a gas station and its convenience store is 7 minutes 40 seconds. So even if a Supercharger is only charging one car an hour it’s only an 8X difference. Building one supercharger is a lot cheaper than one gas pump, especially since, as I mentioned, you don’t need to actually make any space for it or even own the land it’s on. Restaurants and stores want to have them.

            Fortunately, gas stations are feasible for an individual to build as a small business owner, so information is pretty googleable. It looks like the gasoline tank/pumps/etc themselves are in the range of $500K, not counting land or convenience store. Presumably these parts would be the same or more for a charging station.

            Your link says that building the store costs $500K, but the entire station would be ~$2.5 million. Tesla could put in about 16,000 supercharger (that each can service more than one car) stations for that.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            A quick google says the Tesla has a 100KWh battery. To deliver 80% of that in 30 minutes means pushing 80KWh / 0.5h, or 160Kilowatts for 30 minutes. A house typically averages a bit over 1KW, so you either need a very substantial pipe from the energy company or a lot of local storage.

            . . . Do superchargers have local storage? I can’t find this out.

          • CatCube says:

            @Edward Scizorhands

            I’ve usually seen the things on commercial property, where they probably have a pretty substantial service, and 480V 3-phase to most parts of the property.

            I mean, assuming your 160 kW is correct, that’s still a pretty substantial 300 or so amperes (and IIRC, 100 per phase), but that’s not horrendously far off of the conductors feeding a house, so I could easily believe it’s practical to run it without any sort of local storage if you’re already running 3-phase power.

          • baconbits9 says:

            As I have been saying, for day to day – and thus, within-city, driving, people will charge at home

            Ah yes, and where are these chargers going? Only the wealthy end of dense living people have covered parking, with most people parking in streets. This pretty much eliminates at home charging for several weeks a year during heavy snow years even if you got the city to pay to put in all those chargers, oh and stuff right on the side of the road often gets damaged by snow plows which puts them right out in cities like Boston, Buffalo, Minneapolis etc. This plan also eliminates a bunch of other segments of the population, couples who work different shifts and share a car, people who want to make a long trip after multiple short ones (say a weekend trip with your family where the husband runs some errands while the wife packs up the kids and the husband swings home before they all head out, or one spouse dropping the other at work, running errands all day and then picking them back up).

            These issues would largely be moot if electric cars were generally cheap- lots of people have a nicer family car and a commuter car. If Electric cars were cheap* and had low range then as a commuter car they would probably fare quite well, but with minimum starting prices in the neighborhood of 2X that of a new Hyndai Accent or a Ford Fiesta, and 5x that of a solid used Civic.

            *The Spark appears to be the attempt here and it just didn’t capture market share.

          • Garrett says:

            @baconbits9:

            You don’t need covered parking for charging. All of the plug styles in common use are designed and rated for use in inclement weather. About the worst I can say is that freezing rain overnight makes *unplugging* a bit more of a challenge.

            Parking adjacent to your house (eg. you have a driveway) makes it pretty trivial to install a 50A (12kW) charger which will handle almost any overnight charging needs.

            FWIW, I charge my Volt, parked on the street, using a 110V outlet and a heavy-duty extension cord. I cover where it crosses the sidewalk with a heavy-duty ADA-compliant cord cover. It would not be enough for a pure electric vehicle, but it’s pretty close.

            Also, getting 110 outlets to every parking space in a parking lot isn’t that unreasonable. They were standard pretty much everywhere I grew up in Canada, because you needed an engine block heater to ensure your car would start in the 40-below weather. Adding them retroactively is a pain, but not unmanageable or unreasonable.

          • baconbits9 says:

            You don’t need covered parking for charging. All of the plug styles in common use are designed and rated for use in inclement weather. About the worst I can say is that freezing rain overnight makes *unplugging* a bit more of a challenge.

            Its not the ‘inclement weather’ its that many places when they plow the streets you get a 2-10ft embankment of snow because there is no other* place to put it. This embankment is going to prevent actually using the on the street chargers for days to weeks at a time.

            *reasonably priced. Some places do large scale dumping into rivers etc, but this doesn’t particularly help things as the snow is plowed first and then scooped from the edges.

    • broblawsky says:

      Vegetarian or partially vegetarian diets will be much more popular.

    • Uribe says:

      My prediction, by extrapolating current trends and with the logic that cultural change happens through cohort replacement, is that popular support for freedom of speech will collapse, hate speech laws will be enacted, and the Supreme Court will somehow decide that they don’t violate the First Amendment. Nearly everyone will see this as a great victory for Freedom.

      • Tatterdemalion says:

        Disagree with you about the SCOTUS part.

        My counterprediction is that popular support for anti-hate-speech laws in the US will continue to grow, but that the supreme court will continue to forbid them; however, anti-hate-speech codes will become ubiquitous on mainstream platforms like Twitter and Facebook.

        • Uribe says:

          Your prediction is much more likely to come true. But among “fringe political ideas most likely to go mainstream in 20 years”, this is the horse I would bet on, assuming I can’t just bet on the null hypothesis. For one thing, a number of Western democracies already have hate speech laws on the books, making this an everpresent idea to be copied. Of course, it would require the composition of the SCOTUS to go a certain way.

    • Bobobob says:

      Complete decriminalization (with accompanying state regulation) of *all* drug use.

    • Jacobethan says:

      So get your predictions in here, in 20 more years what “fringe” idea with under 30% support will be widely popular?

      My first thought is, probably a lot of stuff. These are strange times, and things seem to be moving fast.

      I’d say the general area to bet on would be things that somehow piggyback on changes to daily life that happen as a result of whatever long-term disease-control strategy we end up settling on.

      I could see K-12 education becoming more of a flashpoint over the next decade — not just the debates over failing schools that we already have, but much more fundamental questions about where, how, and by whom kids get taught. We’ve just had this massive enforced experiment in universal quasi-homeschooling, and it’s anybody’s guess how that might shift people’s perceptions about the value traditional schools are or aren’t providing. At the same time the in-school experience seems likely to only get weirder once the kids go back — there’s already a substantial constituency among ed folks for ideas that seem logically to point in the direction of e.g. abolishing grades. I suspect you’ll see a wider range of people looking to exit the system in various ways, and a lot of political controversy over the implications of that. I could easily imagine “ban homeschooling” or “everybody should be homeschooled,” or both, becoming much more popular positions than they are today.

      • WayUpstate says:

        Agree that education is overdue for a ‘revolution’ of sorts. The schools have taken on occupying children for 9 months of the year from 9 – 5 with the encouragement of parents and the backlash is coming. I expect we’ll see a focus on acquiring knowledge important to being a functioning member of society: Revolutionary stuff like reading (critically), writing complete sentences without MS Word helping you along, math through basic calculus, history of human civilizations, etc. We’ll drop everything else unless parents want to pay out of pocket for it.

        • cassander says:

          this is, in a word, delusional. Education is run by the state, is ossified by a million separate constituencies, and has been pretty much unchanged for almost 100 years. The idea that such a massive and powerful set of bureaucracies would endorse not just a revolutionary change, but one that reduces their power and importance? Well if you believe that, I have a bridge I’d like to sell you.

          • SamChevre says:

            Education has changed a LOT in the last hundred years–school consolidation hugely increased elite power in schools relative to that of the people, as did the anti-democracy movement of the fifties and sixties.

          • cassander says:

            The system has been massively expanded, and power over it has been centralized at the state level, but the experience for the users has remained remarkably consistent for a long time now. If not for 100 years, at least since ww2. You could drop a 1940s high schooler into a highschool today and he’d know what was going on.

      • cassander says:

        I could easily imagine “ban homeschooling” or “everybody should be homeschooled,”

        based on the experience of every parent I know after 3 months of lockdown, the latter will not happen in 1000 years.

    • Iago the Yerfdog says:

      Three possibilities that come to mind:

      1. Legalization of cocaine for recreational use, or at least expanded medical use. I might actually put money on this one.

      2. Legalization of public nudity. Very low chance: has some of the same dynamics as same-sex marriage but strikes me as unlikely to provide enough value to the side championing it.

      3. Consensus against going to college unless necessary to get licensed in your profession. Between student loans, negative-value degrees, and campus culture wars, I’m surprised this isn’t a popular position on the Right already.

    • viVI_IViv says:

      Western culture and politics will become much more like China: much more authoritarian and bureocratic. Due process, free speech and democratic elections will remain on the books but will become de facto irrelevant.

    • Uribe says:

      Another good candidate would be legal polygamy.

    • Skeptic says:

      Interesting question. I’ll go with:

      A) (pseudo) anonymity on the internet will be at minimum a reason to be unpersoned/fired/blacklisted and more likely illegal. This will be wildly popular

      B) There will be strict laws against speaking heresy. Truth will not be considered a valid defense

      C) We will consider it scandalous that any objective metric/test would be used for admissions to college/grad school or for a professional certification

      • Le Maistre Chat says:

        B) There will be strict laws against speaking heresy. Truth will not be considered a valid defense

        Oof. Anyone remember when the Catholic Church’s stated position was that error has no right to freedom of speech?

        • HarmlessFrog says:

          Was that position ever formally repealed?

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            I want to say yes, at Vatican II, more specifically Nostra aetate.
            Alas, I can’t do so right now with intellectual due diligence, because V2 documents are infamous in intra-Catholic arguments for being inscrutable. So with that caveat, my impression is that Vatican II restated the Church’s position toward public error to be compatible with liberalism (= libertarianism, this being the Year of Our Lord 1965), to the extent of dictatorships where Catholicism was the state religion getting a cold shoulder that undermined them.

    • eric23 says:

      Legal and social acceptance of euthanasia for old people with chronic diseases, and possibly also for children with severe disabilities.

    • keaswaran says:

      I looked up the numbers at one point recently and discovered that support for interracial marriage, same-sex marriage, and marijuana legalization all spent a decade or two climbing at 1-1.5% per year. For interracial marriage, it begin in the mid-80s, and it was about 1996 before more Americans approved of my parents’ marriage than disapproved. For gay marriage it began in the mid-90s, and I think marijuana began around that time too (but from a lower starting point, after having fallen moderately during the ’80s). I had somehow convinced myself that the change in support was faster than that, but it turns out that a steady 1-1.5% per year, sustained over a couple decades, really is gigantic.

  5. TimG says:

    I grew up in a blue collar, UAW household in the midwest. I now live and work as a professional in a big city on the East Coast. I’m not ant-union in theory. But I find myself having a lot of dislike for unions — at least how they exist in the US.

    The leftist zeitgeist (am I using that word correctly?) is to be pro-union. But it seems like the police unions are the biggest impediment to the reform protestors are clamoring for.

    How is this going to play out?

    • Nancy Lebovitz says:

      As might be expected, people are arguing. There are Marxists (possibly an inadequate term) who believe police are oppressors(?) and shouldn’t have unions. I’m not expecting this to get much traction.

      I hope this is short of trolling, but I’ll say “evil union” to a leftist. They say “What?”, and I point out the California prison guard union, which lobbies for longer sentences. This is followed by slinence.

      • Eric T says:

        I mean, presumably I’m allowed to be pro-union generally without supporting every single union? I’m also generally anti-killing, but I’d choke out Henry Kissinger if I could get away with it.

        • Nancy Lebovitz says:

          Eric T, you are certainly free to distinguish between unions, but I see people who make a moral issue of never crossing picket lines.

          • AlphaGamma says:

            I’m wondering how often a normal person would be in the situation to cross a police picket line…

        • Garrett says:

          > without supporting every single union

          It seems reasonable to me to point out that a particular instance (or enumerated instance) of a class is problematic. Eg. Unions are usually good but this *particular* union has problems with corruption, or whatever.

          But how do you go from generally supporting unions to excluding a *category* of unions? What provides a hard cut-of which allows a general category of workers to not be allowed to unionize while at the same time supporting them more broadly.

          • cassander says:

            It’s reasonable, yes, but if you try there’s a very good chance the other unions will say “No, we’d rather you didn’t do that.”

      • Guy in TN says:

        @Nancy Lebovitz
        I mean, this “gotcha” works both ways, right.
        “Oh, you’re anti-union? So what about the pro-democracy Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions that is fighting communist China?”

        A “union” is just a social structure that centralizes and amplifies a group’s power. The “goodness” or “badness” of a union is largely dependent on whose power it is centralizing.

        • Erusian says:

          You realize that the HKCTU is in opposition to the publicly supported unions, the ones that have laws favoring them like US unions? The ones that are the vast majority of unionized workers are in? That those unions are pro-government?

          If you want to say, “voluntary unions with no government support or laws requiring membership who deal in non-governmental sectors are good, unions that get too close to government or have laws favoring them become tools of government control” then you’re basically agreeing with the Republican position.

          • Guy in TN says:

            If you want to say, “voluntary unions with no government support or laws requiring membership who deal in non-governmental sectors are good, unions that get too close to government or have laws favoring them become tools of government control” then you’re basically agreeing with the Republican position.

            And most Republicans shorten this to “anti-union”, and we all know what they mean. If you are nuanced enough of course, the “gotcha” doesn’t work anymore.

            Likewise, Leftists who say they are “pro-union” are actually saying “unions that work to transfer power to workers who are fighting for the interests of the working class are good, unions that work to transfer power to workers who are traitors to the working class (such as the police) are bad”, but we usually shorten this to “pro-union”.

          • Erusian says:

            And most Republicans shorten this to “anti-union”

            Err. No, they don’t. I’m not aware of any significant Republican who wants to outlaw unions. “Right to work”, their main union position, forbids union shops, not unions and they explicitly say this makes them not anti-union.

            Likewise, Leftists who say they are “pro-union” are actually saying “unions that work to transfer power to workers who are fighting for the interests of the working class are good, unions that work to transfer power to workers who are traitors to the working class (such as the police) are bad”, but we usually shorten this to “pro-union”.

            Some do, this boils down to unions that support the “right” positions. As has been extensively critiqued from the left, this is a way to exert control over the working class by legitimizing their movements only when they agree with bourgeois liberalism.

          • Guy in TN says:

            Some do, this boils down to unions that support the “right” positions.

            Correct, just like Republicans support HKCTU because of its “right” positions (the ones you stated above).

          • Erusian says:

            Correct, just like Republicans support HKCTU because of its “right” positions (the ones you stated above).

            It’s a fair and consistent philosophy, if a little more nihilistic than I’m used to hearing.

    • Trofim_Lysenko says:

      “Police Unions are a uniquely bad exception.”

      I’ve had strictly limited success convincing people that the same public interest argument applies to public sector unions.

      • John Schilling says:

        “Police Unions are a uniquely bad exception.”

        What about teachers’ unions, when it’s the month that we’re all convinced our crappy public education system is the biggest impediment to racial equality? And, as you note, this can extend to the civil service unions generally.

        The prospect of delegitimizing teachers’ unions may not be on your radar, but it is always on the teachers’ radar and they’re going to be paying attention to the police as a bellwether and precedent. Now you’re going to have to put together, in a highly polarized nation, a reform coalition that includes the party that’s all in to #BLM, but without any of the civil-service unions and all their supporters and sympathizers. And you’ve already lost a good chunk of the white working class. Good luck getting the numbers to add up.

        • TimG says:

          What about teachers’ unions, when it’s the month that we’re all convinced our crappy public education system is the biggest impediment to racial equality?

          I wonder if, ironically, gutting both the teacher’s union and the police union would be the best thing for the black community.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            They’re both there to make sure that their members get as much as possible out of any reform meant to help the target demographic, so, sure.

            I’m happy doing the cleaving at “private-sector unions acceptable, public-sector unions unacceptable.”

          • Garrett says:

            > I’m happy doing the cleaving at “private-sector unions acceptable, public-sector unions unacceptable.”

            I would love to see that.

          • BlackboardBinaryBook says:

            I’m happy doing the cleaving at “private-sector unions acceptable, public-sector unions unacceptable.”

            I know a lot of self-identified lefty people who (sometimes uncomfortably or reluctantly) hold a similar view, and also am one.

          • cassander says:

            @BlackboardBinaryBook says:

            I know a lot of self-identified lefty people who (sometimes uncomfortably or reluctantly) hold a similar view, and also am one.

            None that work for the democratic party, it seems.

        • m.alex.matt says:

          It’s certainly going to be interesting to see. The teacher’s unions are the Democratic base in a lot of areas.

      • Trofim_Lysenko says:

        To be clear, my quoted sentence is what I think the justification will be for most of the people agitating against police unions to exclude other public sector unions from their rhetoric. I expect an explicit rhetorical fence that of course teacher’s unions are 100% fine and cause no issues at all, ditto AFSCME, and we can focus on police unions confident that they are a totally unique exception to the general unalloyed good effects of unionization. I’d have to go back to be sure, but my personal experience is that arguing against teacher’s unions gets you labeled “right wing/libertarian crank” and dismissed in most liberal and progressive circles when it comes to education reform.

        Are you thinking that the Teacher’s Unions would actually come out in solidarity with Police Unions on this one?

        • Plumber says:

          @Trofim_Lysenko says:

          “…Are you thinking that the Teacher’s Unions would actually come out in solidarity with Police Unions on this one?”

          I’m not @John Schilling but for what it’s worth in my experience public school teachers are very “social justice”/left-ish/pro BLM leaning, while cops are mostly Republicans (some years back the Republican candidate for Governor of California campaigned on a “reduce public employees pensions” platform except for police and fire fighters, where most of the costs actually are, as “they have dangerous jobs” which ticked me off because the most dangerous civilian public employee job is actually garbage collection), so while there’s usually inter-union solidarity I may imagine a cleavage between the two.

          • Garrett says:

            > civilian public employee job is actually garbage collection

            And public sanitation in-general has done more to expand human lifespan and healthspan than just about every other intervention we’ve developed.

            Thanks, Plumber!

          • Plumber says:

            @Garrett,
            You’re very welcome, and thanks to you!

    • Scott Alexander says:

      I was reading about how police unions make it hard to fire brutal police around the same time I was reading the stuff on US vs. Japanese automakers which argued auto unions made it hard to fire incompetent autoworkers, and that was one reason US cars broke so much more often than Japanese ones (although it was a lot more complicated, and Japan avoided unions by having their bosses start off more sympathetic to workers’ concerns, and giving them a lot of what they wanted without them having to unionize).

      I wonder if it’s possible to have unions that fight for higher wages but don’t make rules about who you can and can’t fire. I think the worry is that bosses would then fire their highest-paid workers and replace them with entry-level workers. But presumably this is stupid of them if their highest-paid workers are actually better performers? IDK.

      • Le Maistre Chat says:

        (although it was a lot more complicated, and Japan avoided unions by having their bosses start off more sympathetic to workers’ concerns, and giving them a lot of what they wanted without them having to unionize).

        Japan was a very homogeneous nation-state that had recently been bombed back to the Iron Age when its automobile firms became big, so this sense of “we’re all in it together; no need for working-class vs. management” isn’t surprising.
        It’s also rather famous that this “we’re all in it together (so work yourself to the bone)” belief had negative social consequences. However, analysis of that usually focuses on salarymen and the sexist way women were employed rather than blue-collar industries, so as far as I know the Japanese auto industry was and is unalloyed good.

      • Edward Scizorhands says:

        I think the worry is that bosses would then fire their highest-paid workers and replace them with entry-level workers

        When unions fight for wages they aren’t allocating higher wages to better workers or just lifting everyone’s fair market wages by an equal amount. Every single union, while allowing for some variation, has been built on “more wages to more senior people,” and not coincidentally the senior people control the union.

        So this often sets up the exact situation where “fire expensive worker to replace with cheap worker” is in the employer’s interest. A veteran may be paid 2x a newbie, not because they are 2x as good, but because that’s the way the union negotiated.

        Growing up in a Midwest state, I heard “the boss wants to fire the expensive people and replace them with cheaper new workers” constantly. Often with teachers.

      • Erusian says:

        Japan avoided unions by having their bosses start off more sympathetic to workers’ concerns, and giving them a lot of what they wanted without them having to unionize).

        That’s an… interesting theory about why the trade union movement had so little strength in Japan. I’d personally posit it had more to do with a series of anti-union governments that encouraged corporate paternalism. Like, even during the Taisho democracy right to strike laws were not getting passed.

        You can chalk it up to culture… or you can chalk it up to the fact that Japan never had a law protecting trade unions until the US imposed it and even then it was weak.

        • viVI_IViv says:

          I think that Japan is and always was extremely right-wing compared to any Western country.
          There was never any socialist or communist party worth of notice in Japan, and worker rights protests have been small and disorganized.

          • Erusian says:

            I’d argue the significant persecution of outside political ideologies prevented the growth of socialism in Japan in the same periods it grew elsewhere (late 19th/early 20th century). Further, for a long time under Japan’s postwar democracy the socialists were the second biggest party in Japan. So I’m not sure just ascribing the Japanese some inherent conservative characteristic works.

          • viVI_IViv says:

            Japan’s political system is considered a dominant-party system: there are multiple political parties which participate in elections, but the the same party always wins.

            In Japan the right-wing Liberal Democratic Party almost continuously held the government since 1955 to the present day with only two brief exceptions: in the 1993 election after a major scandal the LDP failed to reach a majority while still achieving a plurality. A left-wing coallition established a government, but in less than one year the Japanese Socialist Party switched sides and formed a government with the LDP with a socialist PM, who resigned in 1996 resulting in a snap election which the LDP won. The JSP subsequently changed its name to Social Democratic Party. In the 2009 election the LDP lost to the Democratic Party of Japan (a center-left party different than the SDP). The DPJ cycled three PMs in three years before dissolving the parliament and calling for a snap election in 2012, which restored the LDP to power.

            So yes, Japan doesn’t have any left-wing party that can present a credible alternative to the right. On the rare occasions when the left finds itself to have won an election because the LDP fucked up it immediately collapses and hands the government back to the LDP.

      • original-internet-explorer says:

        Toyota has a different theory of knowledge in mass production to the Americans and that changes how they treat their workers.

        https://www.fastcompany.com/40461624/how-toyota-is-putting-humans-first-in-an-era-of-increasing-automation

        tldr; The robots are not coming.

        • Nancy Lebovitz says:

          Thank you for the link. I hope more people will read it.

          The suggestion is that sufficiently good management makes use of employee intelligence (which is more widely distributed than most people seem to think) to improve production rather than trying to replace people with machines.

          To what extent are other Japanese companies like Toyota?

          • original-internet-explorer says:

            Yes the degree to which humans have the advantage over machines is not widely appreciated. I expect but can’t confirm a similar belief guides some other Japanese firms – and Westerners have written it off as nice-thinking because our philosophy differs. There is a deep appreciation of tacit knowledge in Japanese culture and as I see it the West – or at least the Anglosphere has become detached with information processing and written off the working class as a relic. If you have watched Metropolis you know this not a new theme – Head – Hands – Heart.

            Hans Moravec wrote part of his book Mind Children about why that may be so but I believe it’s overlooked and incredibly the standard textbook by Norvig and Russell I looked at leaves out the topic. The robotics engineers know all about it of course but their voice is drowned out and the commentariat does not visit Rodney Brook’s blog.

            I would hazard the production numbers for Toyota show them beating each competitor but VW into the dust because of this competitive advantage. The Japanese seem to have lots of books on the topic but I suppose it’s a lot like Ningen Dock – Westerners have never heard of a practice ubiquitous somewhere else.

      • LesHapablap says:

        I’m a pilot and part of a the Airline Pilots Association, not for protection from my employer but for the protection from legal action by CAA. ALPA will try very hard to prevent pilots from being fired though, even incompetent ones. I know of one pilot that has crashed more than one airplane that really should not be flying who was protected by ALPA.

        In ALPA’s case, it would really not make sense for them to be trying to weed out the crappy pilots. It would be like you paying a retainer to a lawyer, and then when you run into legal trouble the lawyer deciding that you were actually guilty and so not representing you.

      • NostalgiaForInfinity says:

        I think I’ve seen this suggested as a way to reform police unions – allow them to collectively bargain on wages and benefits but strip them of any right to participate in anything to do with conduct or disciplinary matters.

    • Guy in TN says:

      @TimG

      It’s not too difficult of a conceptual needle to thread, that we should give money/power to good organizations, but not give money/power to bad organizations. We intuitively understand this in many other aspects of policy, and there is no intellectual “tension”. If you can convince people that the Police in the United States are fundamentally a bad group of organizations, the anti-union exception easily makes itself.

      As for how this plays: Less relevant than you might think, as the police unions seem to be a minor focus of the protests.

      • TimG says:

        It’s not too difficult of a conceptual needle to thread, that we should give money/power to good organizations, but not give money/power to bad organizations.

        So you believe the those on the left will be able to have vocal opposition to police unions?

        My thought was that they’d ignore the union issue as much as possible and just focus on reforms or “defunding.” I guess we’ll see.

        • Guy in TN says:

          So you believe the those on the left will be able to have vocal opposition to police unions?

          I think that they will be able to have that position to the extent that the question is even brought up, but I don’t think the power of police unions are going to play a major role in the protests, or whatever reforms are proposed from the protests.

          The union issue just isn’t important enough to paint it on the roads. Not because of any inherent ideological tension, it’s just too niche.

    • Etoile says:

      I think that there’s a general aversion in society to actually say things as they are. That the unions engage in feather-bedding and are anti-meritocratic at times, and gum up the works and make things expensive and inefficient, is true. The question is “how much”, and “is it a worthwhile social cost for the benefits they confer”, and how do we make INCREMENTAL trade-offs instead of all or nothing.

      You kind of have to acknowledge it and decide, or be willing to revise how unions are conceived (e.g. take away the federal protections? Or rewrite them for a post-industrial economy? Revise how public unions function? I don’t know). I’m mixed; I think that employees should be able to form unions of their own accord, and sneaky ways against this by management is bad; I also think that external organizers coming and cajoling employees into union membership, or trying to sway union votes, is also bad. So I don’t know.

    • AG says:

      The last thread already explained why the police union is different, the same reason that the military should not be able to unionize: the people are not allowed an alternative police force, and police/soldiers are uniquely charged with dealing violence. These are conditions that don’t apply to normal labor unions.

  6. Plumber says:

    Its been noted before that the U.S.A.’s birthrate declined after 2007, but unlike previous recession induced drops in births there was no increase after economic recovery.
    Turns out higher rents means fewer babies, and birthrates are falling the fastest where housing prices are rising the most, though with the drop in births among younger women there’s an increase in births among 30+ year-old women (who are more likely to be homeowners), but not enough to offset the lower births among those younger.

    Also other nations governmental “cash for babies” may work, but it takes a lot of cash to work, likely prohibitively too expensive to be implemented in the U.S.A., and I’m reminded of a link provided by @DinoNerd some weeks ago of a “baby boomlet” at a Washington State “Tech” company where the owner substantially (by a lot!) reduced his own pay and raised minimum employee pay.

    • Your second paragraph seems to miss the difference between the effect of cash for babies and the effect of higher incomes. If the government subsidizes having children it is doing it with money taken from someone else, so not raising average incomes. If the government had a way of making everyone better off there would be plenty of reasons to do so aside from the effect on the birth rate.

      One of the costs of having children is that they take up space, so higher rents make children more expensive, so one would expect some negative effect on birth rates.

    • Etoile says:

      EDIT: deleted a huge chunk of my post accidentally; editing to fix it.
      ______

      That’s a compelling story, but I don’t think it’s the dominant effect or the most accurate. High rents are also in the cities which draw the people who want careers and not kids. The people not having kids include the very well-off silicon-valley and finance job holders.

      I personally think that the real dampers are mentality (“waiting until you’re ready”) and student loan debt, NOT the rents. I think if you emerge from college debt-free, or with something you can pay off making $100 payments for five years, you can manage.

      But also, a lot of it is the desire to be Perfectly Prepared and be Ready; if I had waited until everyone finished grad school, then saved $$, then buy a house, then saved more $$, and then start trying — well I’d probably be 40 before having kids.

      Also, something like 40% of all births are paid by Medicaid — suggesting that there’s a lot of babies being born to low-income families; and Medicaid beneficiaries are quite concentrated in the big cities with the high rents.

      • Milo Minderbinder says:

        Isn’t removing the “waiting until you are ready” mentality a coordination problem though? To the extent declining birthrates are a problem, sensible people will want the situation reversed. But since any individual birth has a negligible effect on the overall birthrate, someone contemplating having a child would still want to be maximally prepared.

    • Lord Nelson says:

      I agree that rent is one factor contributing to this.

      Other factors include the lack of full time employment and possibly the Medicaid gap, depending on where you live. I graduated from college in 2011. I had no desire to have kids in my 20s, but even if I’d wanted them, it would have been financially irresponsible. It took me 5 years to find a full time job that paid a living wage. Prior to that, my tradeoff was “work two part time jobs to get above the poverty line, qualify for government insurance, and have no free time” or “work one part time job, where you make too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough for the government to help with your mandatory ACA costs.” Having a baby is the last thing I want to do when I have no extra time or no extra money.

      And this was with me living in a city with a very low cost of living. I imagine people who live on the coast have it worse.

      • Two McMillion says:

        Other factors include the lack of full time employment and possibly the Medicaid gap, depending on where you live. I graduated from college in 2011. I had no desire to have kids in my 20s, but even if I’d wanted them, it would have been financially irresponsible. It took me 5 years to find a full time job that paid a living wage. Prior to that, my tradeoff was “work two part time jobs to get above the poverty line, qualify for government insurance, and have no free time” or “work one part time job, where you make too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough for the government to help with your mandatory ACA costs.” Having a baby is the last thing I want to do when I have no extra time or no extra money.

        I have questions about this.

        – What does “it would have been financially irresponsible” mean?
        – What’s a living wage to you?

        • Lord Nelson says:

          Apologies for the super late response. I haven’t had much computer access for the last few days.

          “It would have been financially irresponsible” means exactly what it says? I’m not quite sure what you mean by this question. In short, I barely had enough money to provide for myself, and that was with me pinching pennies in every way I knew how (including skipping meals or eating the same 3 things every day). There’s no way I could have supported a child.

          I define a “living wage” as making enough money to pay for essentials without going into debt or being constantly worried about going into debt. A living wage should cover: taxes, rent, utilities, food and other essential groceries, transportation, other bills (cell phone / internet / insurance), physical and mental health care, and ideally a small amount left over for hobbies because mental health is important. When I was making $12k per year and living without roommates, this was not possible for me, even in a cheap Midwestern city. The break-even point was around $10k per year with a roommate or $16k per year without a roommate, where I live. It wasn’t until I started making $20k per year that I stopped worrying about how I could afford meals.

          Note: all numbers are gross income, not net.

    • eric23 says:

      IIRC, teenagers are having less sex now than in the past. Mostly because they are on social media more. I imagine the same is true of adults, though to a lesser extent.

      How much of the lower birthrate is just a lower number of unplanned births?

      • keaswaran says:

        Here’s some relevant claims:

        TRENDS

        In the United States, the proportion of pregnancies that were unintended increased slightly between 2001 and 2008 (from 48% to 51%), but, by 2011, the proportion decreased to 45%.2,5

        Following a long period of minimal change, the overall unintended pregnancy rate (the number of unintended pregnancies per 1,000 women aged 15–44) decreased substantially from 54 in 2008 to 45 in 2011, a decline of 18%. This is the lowest rate since at least 1981 and is likely due to an overall increase in contraceptive use and the use of highly effective contraceptive methods.2

        Between 1981 and 2008, the unintended pregnancy rate among low-income women rose, while the rate among higher-income women declined steadily. Between 2008 and 2011, however, the rate among women with incomes below poverty dropped from 137 per 1,000 women aged 15–44 to 112 per 1,000—an 18% decline in just three years. The rate among women at or above 200% of poverty decreased 20% between 2008 and 2011.2,5

        The unintended pregnancy rate among adolescents has been declining since the late 1980s. Between 2008 and 2011, the unintended pregnancy rate among women aged 18–19 declined 20%, and the unplanned birth rate declined 21%. Among women aged 15–17, the unintended pregnancy rate declined 44% during the same period, and the unplanned birth rate declined 47%.2

        https://www.guttmacher.org/fact-sheet/unintended-pregnancy-united-states

      • Purplehermann says:

        Mostly because they are on social media more

        This is an interesting idea, how did you come to this conclusion?

  7. Bobobob says:

    Fun with the Copernican principle! (This has been discussed on SSC before, but I’ve never quite followed the probabilistic reasoning).

    Here’s the premise, as stated by Richard Gott and various others: Assume humans eventually achieve a Foundation-type galactic empire. Let’s figure a million planets, a billion humans on each planet, so around the year 10,000 or so we’re looking at one quadrillion human beings. Given that immense number, what are the odds that all of us on SSC find ourselves alive and conscious today, occupying the infinitesimal leftmost tail end of the probability distribution? Isn’t it more likely that we are, in fact, right under the peak of the bell curve, and our civilization is about to collapse?

    I have two main problems with this line of reasoning, which I’ve had occasion to ponder over the last few years. First, what does it mean to “find yourself alive” at a given time? Either you are alive, or you aren’t; if you are human, you are a conscious being, and you naturally find yourself alive at the time when, well, you were born and you are alive. Probabilistically speaking, what does the fact of your particular consciousness, at this particular time, have to do with those quadrillion other (existing or eventual) consciousnesses?

    Second, why restrict this argument to human beings? Why not extend it to all entities in the universe possessing (at least) a human level of consciousness, or, for that matter, all animals possessing even a little bit of consciousness? Given that there are exponentially more rats than there are human beings, wouldn’t I, at the present time, be more likely to be a rat? And if another intelligent civilization has colonized a galaxy 50 million light years away, wouldn’t I be more likely to be a conscious member of that species (with its 100 quadrillion inhabitants) than one of the mere seven billion humans on earth?

    I’ve got metaphysical questions, maybe you have metaphysical answers.

    • Friendly AI With Benefits says:

      I also take offense with this line of reasoning, and a story once told by Feynman I think illustrates it well, so I’ll paraphrase it.

      I came home from work today and parked my car. Next to my car, on the right, is parked another car. And I looked at it’s license plate and it read XRW-7072. And I thought, wow, how incredible, that of all the millions of possible license plates, that exact one should be parked next to mine.

      Should I actually be surprised? Sure, there are many other license plates. The probability of XRW-7072 is certainly much much lower than the probability of all “all other license plates but mine”. But it’s no less probable than any other individual license plate, and there had to be _some_ license plate there.
      So should you conclude that some force must have specifically pushed that particular license plate there? Probably not.

      So yea there are many many many other minds that “you” could have been. But each individual was no more likely than the one you got, and _somebody_ had to be here. So you can’t really conclude much.

    • Anatid says:

      I think a version of this reasoning does have some validity and often produces reasonable and intuitive estimates:

      – The current protests in the US have been happening for a week or two. So probably they’ll continue for somewhere between a day and a year.

      – Facebook has been an important company for roughly 10 years, so probably it will continue to be for between 1 and 100 more years.

      – Cars have been in wide use in their present form for about a hundred years. So probably that’ll continue to be true for somewhere between 10 and 1000 years.

      – Islam has been a major religion for about 1000 years, so probably it will continue for somewhere between 100 and 10,000 years.

      – Sharks have existed for about 400 million years, so probably they’ll last another 40 million to 4 billion years.

      – The earth has supported life for about 4 billion years, so probably that will last another 400 million to 40 billion years.

    • LesHapablap says:

      For every process of infinite growth, no matter when you are, you are always right at the beginning. See David Deutch’s Beginnings of Infinity.

    • Spookykou says:

      And the year 12,000 we learn how to make folded techno-babble and the population expands to such a degree that people living in the foundation could come to the same conclusion!

    • b_jonas says:

      No object level comment, but for future searchability, I think this is called “Doomsday argument” (“https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doomsday_argument”).

  8. Pandemic Shmandemic says:

    More reading of early Genesis stories as recording a societal collapse possibly induced by climate adversity and accompanying changes in consciousness.

    Expulsion from paradise

    Adam and Eve eat from the tree of knowledge and literally become self-conscious of their nakedness. Shame is inherently a mind-theoretic construct – not only are you reflecting on what someone else is thinking but on what someone else is thinking of you.

    In response, rather than abandoning them and retreating to heaven God casts Adam and Eve away from himself and a highly hospitable environment and curses them with terrible seemingly new concepts: the sadness that comes from hardship of having to toil for a living, the uncertainty of agricultural yield, the pain of childbirth for women (Halo effect around labour pains reduced as a result of a newly acquired continuity of self ?)

    Cain and Abel

    Cain kills Abel out of jealousy over God’s appreciation of Abel’s gift, jealousy too is a pretty high level mind-theoretic concept as it requires the notions of ego, status, ambition and frustration.
    God then asks Cain if he knows where Abel is and Cain tries to lie about it to God

    Both here and in the paradise story God is modeled via a mind theory of a human, both Adam and Cain expect him not to be aware of things that happen where they think him not to be physically present at the time – far more primitive than the “I am what I am” of YHWH

    The flood

    Definitely some climate adversity going on there, the people who survive can legitimately be called the “sea peoples”.

    Tower of Babel

    Hive-mind consciousness allows for mutual intelligibility and cooperation, ruling class probably already has theory of mind and uses it to embark on colossal vanity projects, food surpluses are strained and an otherwise survivable crop failure spirals out to city-state collapse scattering people to strange lands where they no longer understand the locals.

    Sodom and Gomorrah

    People use their newly acquired theory of mind to consciously be dicks to each other, God does not approve.

  9. Space Hobo from Hobospace says:

    Oh no! You have been bitten by a radioactive stopwatch and developed a superpower. You can now stop things.

    More specifically you can stop a single thing at a time – indefinitely but if you want to stop something else, the previous one must be released. A stopped thing ceases all internal processes and becomes absolutely solid. It can be moved and rotated, it is still somehow affected by gravity and reflects and absorbs light as it was, but no force can move a single its particle in relation to other its particles. It can’t be deformed, it can’t be split and once it released it will still be at the same temperature and continue other similar processes as it was before stopping.

    What exactly constitutes a single “thing” seems to be tied to your intuitive understanding – and you can’t rule lawyer against yourself. However a few things you know:
    – It must fit inside a sphere with diameter of 3 meters, no more
    – Anything that can’t be moved away without damaging it is also part of the same thing (For example, you can’t tie someone up and freeze the rope)
    – You can’t freeze any separate part of a living being, but you can freeze the whole being – so no walking around stopping people’s hearts

    What’s next in your superhero/villain career?

    • Vitor says:

      Well, this seems very versatile[1]. Freeze enemies that you’re fighting, disarm traps safely, make your own traps, create an indestructible shield, prevent a building from collapsing, sell ice cream in the desert, allow someone to survive a fall (or even a trip through outer space).

      So, the obvious next step is to find / assemble a team, because my power is the kind of thing that combos well with other powers, and I’ll need a frontline to protect me if I end up in a fight.

      [1] You didn’t specify the range though, is it on touch? Does the previous object get released instantly regardless how far away it is?

    • Edward Scizorhands says:

      What if I stop myself?

    • Erusian says:

      Why be a superhero/supervillain when I can use it for research purposes or something more productive? Imagine how much you could discover about a process by freezing it, thoroughly examining it, and then unfreezing it for a microsecond, and repeat? Think of all the particle physics. Not to mention you could respond to things like meltdowns by giving them more time to contain it. Or create an invincible shield (since what you freeze is effectively invulnerable).

      Less law breaking, more money, etc. Unless I’m particularly drawn to fighting or being evil or something.

    • emiliobumachar says:

      Solving the energy crisis would be better than fighting crime, see https://www.smbc-comics.com/?id=2305.

      Idea: work with the government. Detonate a nuclear fusion bomb in my temporarily indestructible 3m sphere, with one hole tiny enough (micrometers? nanometers?) that the energy gets out in a manageable stream that can be safely harnessed over hours.

      Go home. Eat, sleep, socialize. Come back to work. Repeat.

      • Space Hobo from Hobospace says:

        I think making a shell violates my second rule. But it’s definitely an idea with a lot of potential.

    • beleester says:

      The fact that the object can still be moved puts a real crimp in most of the obvious tricks. An unbreakable shield sounds great, but without an equally unbreakable arm to hold it, you’ll be crushed. And the requirement that it must be possible to move it away from nearby objects removes tricks like “freeze a door so bad guys can’t open it.” It also means you can’t anchor your shield on anything unless you first freeze it separately.

      The trick of freezing a piece of fishing line to turn it into a cutting edge still works (you could even swing it around like a sword), but that’s too gory for a superhero and I feel like a nearly-invisible blade is an accident waiting to happen.

      I think the easiest use is for medical stasis – prevent someone from dying of their injuries until they get to a hospital.

      Also, you didn’t specify if this was ranged or touch-based. If it has a decent range, then you can take the obvious route of freezing bad guys and calling the police.

    • Dack says:

      If it resumes momentum after you unfreeze it, you could freeze a falling object, rotating it 180 while in stasis, unfreeze it to have it shoot upward at terminal velocity, lather, rinse, repeat. Would this have diminishing returns or would it amount to perpetual motion?

      • rocoulm says:

        It really seems like you should be able to get free energy out of this, but I can’t actually pin down how. If you freeze a falling object and redirect it upward repeatedly, you don’t have free energy; it’s the same situation as a perfectly elastic bounce. If you harvest energy from it, you’ll just get whatever potential energy it had when it was dropped.

        Any better ways to use it?

        • March says:

          If all the particles are perfectly still, the object is perfectly cold, which can be used to generate heat gradients that can be harvested for energy?

          • rocoulm says:

            I thought about that, too, but if it’s “frozen” (in time) it also would be perfectly adiabatically insulated, right? It may technically be “cold”, but any heat being transferred to it would violate its time-frozen-ness, so it’d just be a really, really good insulator.

      • Space Hobo from Hobospace says:

        Freezing only stops internal processes as well as thermal exchange and the like. It will still keep moving and/or will fall on the ground. In fact, you will probably lose energy because what was supposed to turn into heat and deformation now went into some kind of magical dimension that allowed it all to happen.

    • b_jonas says:

      The long term is clear. I would eventually freeze myself. I believe that eventually people will understand the science of my superpower enough that they can force me to unfreeze myself, but that this will only happen when they also have the medical technology that they can cure me of everything and I can become quasi-immortal. This seems like a better option than traditional cryogenics, both because it seems less likely that it damages me in some irreversible way, but also because it’s less likely that I’m killed while frozen because society doesn’t maintain my cooling chamber for long enough.

      In the short term, I’d probably go with something similar to what emiliobumachar and other people suggested, as in explore the rules of this superpower until I can break physics with it and revolutionize the energy sector or gain some similar huge technological win. However, I have to be very careful with this, lest I get threatened to provide a service where I have to hold the freeze indefinitely, or for such a long time that would make freezing myself impossible.

  10. Contra Spoons

    Someone asks me to pick up a car and put it down somewhere else. I respond, accurately, that I can’t. Not being Superman, I’m not strong enough.

    Someone suggests to me, currently lamenting my unemployment, that I take an available job that involves working eight hours a day at something not very interesting. I respond that I can’t, since I would run out of spoons after the second or third hour. I just don’t have enough willpower to do such a job.

    One obvious problem with the claim is that we know that large parts of the human population through most of history have done the equivalent of what I claim I can’t do, many of them much more. None of them could pick up cars. There is no obvious reason why I should be less able to do boring things than they were. Further, it is likely that many, perhaps most, of them would rather have done something else and easier, which suggests a more plausible explanation for my behavior than the one I offered.

    Hence my objection to the way the spoons metaphor gets used. No doubt there is some truth to it. Some things are harder to do than others, and doing something for two hours a day is easier than doing it for eight hours. But there is an important difference between “I don’t want to” and “I can’t.”

    “I can’t” has the virtue, and fault, of providing a reason not to try.

    • Bobobob says:

      I actually had to look up “spoons,” for a moment there I thought you’d gone off your rocker.

      I’m not sure I have anything pertinent to say about your main point, but…why spoons, of all things? “Giving away spoons” isn’t a very intuitive metaphor.

    • Pandemic Shmandemic says:

      ” They won’t ” has the virtue and fault of absolving ourselves from responsibility but not the costs and externalities of having unemployed people.

    • Vitor says:

      Well, it seems to me you’re arguing against a strawman of spoons.

      For me, the core idea that’s expressed with spoons[1] is that there are tasks that don’t even register as requiring effort for some people, but that are quite hard / draining for others, along dimensions that might not be obvious.

      A better example than yours would be a mild physical disability. You might be perfectly able to go to work every day for 8 hours (even put on a smile and joke around with co-workers), but when you get home you’re too exhausted to do anything meaningful beyond fixing dinner and end up binge watching a tv show in bed. You regularly skip nice but non-essential things like keeping in touch with friends or meeting new people.

      Then, when you complain that you’re lonely, it wouldn’t be very useful if someone pointed out that you are technically capable of performing the task of going out to meet new people. This can lead to lots of social friction, specially because others only see you on the days that you do go out of your house to socialize, so almost by definition you’re having one of your rare “good” days.

      The concept of spoons is a useful way to convey the reality of such a situation to others. And trust me, even when people make an effort to understand, even when they think they understand, they very often don’t.

      [1] god I hate the name that this concept has been given.

    • Nancy Lebovitz says:

      The original idea behind spoon theory was that there are people with disabilities who have a *lot* less capacity than most people, and expecting those people to do “normal” things is unfair and destructive.

      For example, one of my friend’s life was greatly improved when she got a stair elevator. She was up against enough pain that she was organizing her day around minimizing going up and down stairs. Most people don’t think of a flight of stairs as any sort of a big deal. (The smart folks at the stair elevaor business asked her about how much she minimized using the stairs.)

      From memory: the essay which introduced spoon theory to the world was about someone with a disability explaining her situation to a friend She gives the friend a handful of spoons and expalins that various ordinary activities take one or more spoons. And then she takes some of the spoons away because you can’t alway predict how much capacity you’ve got.

      Unsurprisingly, there is both the more casual use of the idea of not having enough spoons, and people complaining that this takes away from clear statements about how bad some problems are.

      • Nancy Lebovitz says:

        I find it fairly weird that I’m explaining social justice concepts to rationalists, at least partly because the concepts are so pervasive where I hang out that I’m surprised they’re unfamiliar to a fair number of active netizens.

        • Erusian says:

          Spoons metaphor type social justice is fairly niche/elite and largely has to be learned through highly inaccessible elite institutions. That is part of why they make such good status symbols. Social justice, to your average person, means NAACP and not Africana studies and its metaphors about basketball.

          • Deiseach says:

            Spoons metaphor type social justice is fairly niche/elite and largely has to be learned through highly inaccessible elite institutions.

            I learned about it on Tumblr which, um, I don’t think is a “highly inaccessible elite institution” (not with how its owners are always trying to offload it on to some other sucker, who then tries offloading it onto another even bigger sucker to try and recover the money thrown down the drain).

            Ditto on the fannishness; I don’t follow any political blogs just fandom ones but these kinds of things keep cropping up!

          • Erusian says:

            I learned about it on Tumblr which, um, I don’t think is a “highly inaccessible elite institution” (not with how its owners are always trying to offload it on to some other sucker, who then tries offloading it onto another even bigger sucker to try and recover the money thrown down the drain).

            Tumblr’s demographics are disproportionately young, white, and from well off backgrounds but not well off themselves. At least last I checked. If so, you have a hugely disproportionate “in relatively nice schools” voice on the site. So you’re right tumblr isn’t highly inaccessible but it’s the equivalent of hanging out at a bar near Trinity College and then claiming Trinity’s cultural morals aren’t elite because you learned them just by being in a place anyone could walk into.

            As for fandom, I’m much less qualified to comment.

        • Lord Nelson says:

          I am also surprised by this. My intro to social justice was not through my liberal, elite college, but through online fandom spaces, of all things.

          I keep thinking “if fandom talks so frequently about SJ stuff, then everyone else must talk about it”, but apparently that’s not the case. Filter bubbles are mysterious. (I found out later that online fandom spaces skew heavily towards people who are disabled, LGBT, or have mental illness, all of which correlate with interest in social justice.)

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            My introduction to Social Justice is also by way of sf fandom. I suppose the next question is “How is fannsih SJ different from other sorts of SJ?”

            Also, there are a lot of disabled fans, so it isn’t sruprising that spoon theory would be well known.

        • SamChevre says:

          You and I probably encountered it in the same place (Making Light), but I was also surprised–I think the common and original versions are not very similar.

    • Vitor says:

      Ok, so I thought of an interesting way to frame the issue. If someone is on unemployment benefits, most people think it’s ok to ask them to be actively looking for a job, and cut their benefits if they were to actually reject a job offer. However, you wouldn’t count an offer to become a prostitute as an actual “job offer” for the above purpose. But would an offer that comes with a 3 hour commute count? Or an offer where you don’t use (and don’t get paid for) your specialized education? There’s clearly a debate on how much discomfort/hardship it is reasonable to impose on others, and what kind of objections (moral? hedonic?) carry weight.

      In this type of social dynamic, people with invisible diseases (almost all mental health issues and surprisingly many physical health issues as well) often draw the short straw, in the sense that their genuine struggle to fulfill the demands of society is not easily legible from the outside. The outcome is that these people often get treated way harsher than intended by others. For example, a person with chronic back pain might reject a job where they can’t have a standing desk, and then their unemployment benefit gets cut. This whole rhetoric about spoons (explained well by Nancy Lebovitz above) is an attempt to remedy this, by helping other people understand and empathize. The squeaky wheel gets the grease.

      Luckily, we don’t live in a world were everyone needs to toil 8 hours a day to ensure all our survival. I think many people are in a situation where they could work an 8 hour day of physical labour if their life literally depended on it. But perhaps this would destroy their long-term health and well-being, so it’d be cruel to force them to do this. It’s a great kindness, and a sign of a strong society, that we accommodate such people and show them compassion. But this obviously also invites abuse, so it’s inevitable that you’ll run across lots of stories of people who (try to) bullshit their way to the recipient side of this collective bargain. It’s also inevitable that you’ll have some squabbling about who gets to benefit exactly how much.

    • Lord Nelson says:

      When I run out of spoons, it doesn’t mean I’m literally incapable of doing the thing. If I have no other choice, I will persist. However, if I continue to do something that drains spoons, it leads to very bad consequences.

      For an extreme example, the worst job that I ever had drained so many spoons and caused me so much stress that I was having suicidal thoughts every day. I ended up quitting the job, using the rationale that working one part time job while living off my savings would have fewer negative consequences than working the full time job that made me want to kill myself.

      For a less extreme example, phone calls are hard for me and drain a lot of spoons. Thanks, autism. If I’m already spoon depleted, I’ll sometimes postpone the call to the next day. If the phone call is time sensitive, I can force myself to do it. But it usually has negative consequences, which range from exhaustion and being unable to de-stress for hours afterwards to self-harm.

      In short, I use “I can’t do this because I’m out of spoons” as a shorthand for “if I force myself to do this, it will negatively impact my mental health so much that there will be consequences.” I used to force myself to push through spoon depletion (because you’re right, I technically can do the task) but I’ve been trying to stop that lately because the long term consequences are rarely worth the short term benefits.

    • Deiseach says:

      “Spoons” is not just willpower, though. It’s being physically and mentally able to do the job. That’s part of the problem with disability, in that it often is invisible (if someone is not, say, visibly in a wheelchair then it’s hard for other people to understand why they can’t do Thing for eight hours when they’re able to do Thing for two hours). My father, for instance, got a disabled parking licence even though if you looked at him, he wasn’t visibly disabled: he wasn’t in a wheelchair, he wasn’t using a walker or crutch or walking stick, he looked as if he was well able to walk longer distances than he could, in fact, walk and he did need to be able to park in disabled spaces. In modern parlance, he didn’t have the spoons (energy/ability) to walk more than a certain distance due to ill-health that he had developed later in life, but on the outward surface he looked “if you can walk this far, why can’t you just walk further, why are you using something intended for people who are really ill/disabled?”.

      Like everything else on the Internet, it’s a handy metaphor that got over-extended and used in ways that were not originally intended. If “spoons” has come to be shorthand for “willpower” which in turn is a nicer way of saying “bone idle”, then that’s unfortunate.

    • AlexOfUrals says:

      After reading through all the comments above, I feel like spoons is a uniquely bad metaphor which tries to describe a real problem but does an extremely poor job at it. It captures the side of the issue which is common between the people with and without disabilities – humans get tired of doing things, well what an astonishing piece of news! – and completely fails to highlight the important difference – that disabled people can get exhausted much faster, and even by trivial things. So what a not-sufficiently-charitable audience ends up hearing is “Hey I’m so uniquely special – I can get tired sometimes, especially from work” which non-surprisingly often fails to induce compassion. While in fact the point, as I understand it, is closer to something like “It’s about as hard for me psychologically to get out of bed each morning as for you to do a 2-hour exercise routine, so don’t you tell me about willpower”. Also 100% agree with everyone who complained about the name choice – it’s frankly quite dumb.

      • Lord Nelson says:

        The blog where I learned about spoon theory (widely used to explain the metaphor, though I can’t remember whether the blog author came up with the metaphor or not) takes this into account. Specifically, non-disabled people are described as starting a given day with more spoons than disabled people. A hypothetical disabled person does 3 small things and 2 moderately taxing things and runs out of spoons because that was all they had. A hypothetical non-disabled person does the same 5 things and says “I don’t understand what the problem is. I was able to do all of that and I still have half a drawer full of spoons.”

        People in my social circles (SJ-adjacent) link that post all the time. I’m kind of surprised to hear that the term has lost some of its meaning with the wider audience… though I probably shouldn’t be.

        If you want the link, lmk and I’ll add it when I’m not on mobile.

    • Alejandro says:

      I think that most of the arguments Scott deployed against Caplan on mental illness (1, 2) also apply against your argument here–is there anything that was not covered in those discussions?

    • DinoNerd says:

      *sigh* You are making the obvious assumption that all people have the same abilities. IIRC the person who originally used the spoon metaphor was unhealthy, disabled, or both. (In particular, a chronic condition limiting how much she could accomplish.)

      But you don’t have to be sick or disabled to have different abilities from other people, even the majority of other people. I’m 90% certain that at your age, even given your athletic background, you couldn’t work a full shift at the job my father spent most of my childhood doing – even if you trained and worked up to it gradually. (I couldn’t either, and I’m younger than he was when he retired – though not by much.)

      You probably wouldn’t argue with this claim about physical ability, but seem to believe that everyone has the same amount of willpower, and for that matter that exercising it does not increase it. (And thus people who haven’t ever had to force themselves to do things will be as able at it as those who’ve done so all their lives.)

      I’ve seen enough people with major depression to know differently. Be glad you’ve never experienced it, or seen someone you trust and believe experience it.

      Moreover, the spoon claim has never just been about willpower. Executive dysfunction is also a thing – I had a neice who didn’t grow into the ability to organize and accomplish any kind of project until her late teens … until then, if someone with that skill wasn’t available to tell her what to do next, she’d bog down and accomplish nothing. Until then, she just didn’t and couldn’t get it. (This, and a couple of other things, got her an autistic syndrome diagnosis.)

      This is not to say that some people won’t grab any excuse that’s handy, and dress up their excuse in whatever language they think might get them excused – or might let them convince themselves that they aren’t simply lazy (or ill tempered, or whatever.).

      More than 90% of people have been able to walk. Therefore by your logic the next guy you see with advanced multiple sclerosis, or missing limbs, or various other conditions, should stop malingering and get out of his wheelchair and walk ;-(

    • Spookykou says:

      I never understood road rage. The idea that a person would kill another person because they cut them off in traffic, I couldn’t imagine how a person could do that, or why, and to be clear, I get very mad while driving.

      Then I took some medication that caused me to have an episode of nearly uncontrollable rage. Fortunately I was alone at the time, but I ended up breaking my computer, a table, and several glasses, then literally running around my house until I dropped to the ground exhausted, trying desperately to resolve the furious energy pulsing through my mind, like the blood was going to burst out of my eyes.

      Having never experienced rage, violence always seemed like a moral failing, people obviously could control themselves but preferred not to, but after the experience described above, I became considerably less convinced of the moral failings of violent people.

      • Two McMillion says:

        Your experience should not have changed your judgment of violent people. You have only discovered that being moral is harder than you previously believed.

      • Nancy Lebovitz says:

        I believe a lot more of temperament is metabolic than most people want to believe.

        My generally civil approach has a background belief of “this is a human spirit– do not bend, fold, spindle, or mutilate”. This might be a spectrum thing, but I read insults (unless clearly friendly) as saying “You are bad, you are intrinsically bad, you can never be anything but bad”. What if I insulted someone and they believed it?

        Alternatively, you can get attention with insults, but the attention tends to go to the insult rather than anything else you wanted to convey.

        However, I’ve had occasional brief periods of just not caring about my effect on other people. At that point, the only thing restraining me is that I care about my reputation.

        Concern coming and going like that strikes me as metabolic at least as much as moral.

    • drethelin says:

      I think endurance is a lot better of a word for this than ability or spoons and much less opaque. Everyone understands that endurance is a variable and not purely a matter of “can or can’t” and everyone understands that different people’s endurance for various tasks is different.

      I cannot run a 4 minute mile. I can probably run for a few seconds at that pace, and I can definitely travel over a mile on foot, but this does not mean I “can” run a 4 minute mile, and I don’t think it’s useful to argue that I simply choose not to.

      If the city was on fire, there’s a chance I could run a 4 minute mile. Between adrenaline and desperation, a lot is possible. But on any normal day, if I tried honestly as hard as I could to run a 4 minute mile I would probably sprain my ankle or pass out before I was done, or simple be unable to force my legs to move fast enough for the duration of the 4 minutes.

      However, we know lots of humans CAN run a 4 minute mile! Does this mean that everyone who doesn’t run that fast or that far is being lazy?

      • AG says:

        The spoons analogy gets around any pesky implications that those with a lower spoon capacity can simply exercise and get more endurance.

        • Nancy Lebovitz says:

          AG, I’m not sure what you have in mind, but from what I’ve seen, people with chronic fatigue were told to exercise, and it wasn’t good for them. Their *problem* was that exerting effort exhausted them, and more effort even if it was carefully graded, didn’t help.

          • AG says:

            I agree with you. Using the phrase “pesky implications” was a mistake on my part.

    • b_jonas says:

      I have a complaint about your phrasing, not the main issue.

      > Someone asks me to pick up a car and put it down somewhere else.

      When reading this opening sentence, I assumed that you meant driving the car from one place to another, using some informal expressions. I still think “pick up a car” means this, though “put it down” should perhaps have clued me in. Even after reading the next sentence, it seemed like you were deliberately misinterpreting their request, perhaps because you don’t want to do their request and want them to leave you alone more quickly. The rest of the post clarified this of course. (English is not my first language.)

  11. Nancy Lebovitz says:

    What do you think of Rebel Wisdom? They seem to have some points, but they’re pretty long-winded and I have no idea whether they’re actually living more sensibly (for either the short or in-case-of-disaster long term) than most people.

    • Aftagley says:

      Can you summarize or link to a good overview of their thesis?

      Their about us video on youtube seemed long on foreboding quotes (“The old ways of doing things have totally broken down!”, “Regular media won’t be able to cover the increasing chaos!”) but short on actual ideas. What’s their deal?

      • Nancy Lebovitz says:

        No, I haven’t seen an overview. I was hoping someone here would know whether there was anything coherent.

  12. original-internet-explorer says:

    #2

    Hello everybody. I have a practical proposal to reduce future violence. This is an alt account for obvious reasons but I’ve been here lurking for years. I’ll repeat this message a few times on open threads so more see it.

    Issue

    CW can become hot.

    The riots are becoming unnerving – there is a propensity for it to spill into physical targeted attacks against X-ists / X-ism. Scapegoating is becoming habit and public complacency is ratcheting an escalation. I believe the time has come to take seriously the possibility that political violence is going to be directed at available targets through moral panics. Today it can be one scapegoat – tomorrow it will be another. There is no real way of knowing who an internet mob will turn on next.

    You’ve seen the script of public opinion flip multiple times just with COVID19 – a few kilobytes of virus – to say nothing for the ever swirling legacy vortexes that are sex, class, race, political orientation. How many of you have looked back at your former selves and thought “what an idiot”. That the line between good and evil runs right through each human heart isn’t an abstraction – the people we need to protect ourselves against include ourselves. Maybe I’m being neurotic but I believe to know it can get bad you only need to be modestly introspective.

    Position

    By us I mean anybody who subscribes to the Slate Star Codex ideal – I describe it as very high tolerance for ideas coupled with a permanent suspicion of ideological monopolization.

    Medicine

    It’s about time some kind of real sanctuary is on offer to modern day witches because I think official channels will react too slowly against the internet mob. There exists the sense formal institutions are not proactive when confronted with big swells from the sea of sentiment.

    I’m capable of offering food and lodging to a target for a short duration in my country and I think many of us at Slatestarcodex will see the necessity too – but it needs to be systematized and well known if it is to do good work.

    My request to you is to reply with an email address. If as I fear things turn for the worse we can work out the steps as the situation develops.

    I expect this to be messy. The advantage we have is that mobs have an intense but short attention span and those who provoke violence most are not so persistent.

    My email is originalinternetexplorer@internet-mail.org

    I can shoot down one objection – the first operation would be a recorded meeting at a police station or notary to cut the risk of a Sanctuary being exploited into an ambush – and then a series of operations to put distance between the mob and the target with fallbacks – risky to be a Witch but when any person faces narrowing options they have to perform that calculation.

    Thanks

    Original IE

    • Eric T says:

      Alright I did my best to allay your fear last OT – I’m just going to say this.

      I think this kind of fearmongering is actively bad for places like SSC. This is a community that extols the virtues of rationality and logical thinking. People do not think rationally if they are worried of an oncoming political violence that doesn’t exist. Stoking fear causes people panic and panic erodes rational thinking.

      I don’t know what country you are in, but I know most of the readership/commentariat is with me in the US. Here’s why you don’t need to worry about a proverbial witch hunt here.

      1. The overwhelming majority of the country, even the ones actively protesting, is opposed to violence. Even looting, which isn’t directly harming people in the way a literal witch hunt would is so unpopular that as someone last OT pointed out 58% of the registered American voters support invoking the Insurrection Act to deal with the protests (including 40% of the liberals and 37% of black people) and this is with looting that it is at least diluted by peaceful protests.

      2. If there’s anyone to be worried about right now it’s certainly not liberals? Like not to play to stereotypes here but when it comes to which Tribe would be able to make an effective armed militia, my money is on the gods guns and monster trucks one. The military, police, and rich/powerful all trend more conservative than the public, so I really doubt any armed uprising would be effective in ANY way if it came from the left.

      3. This has all happened before. Rodney King, BLM 1.0, Ferguson, Charlottesville, the Miami Riots, 1999 woodstock etc. etc. etc. I’ve seen practically nothing that indicates this protest would be a massive break into some kind of political armed movement any more than those don’t. Especially since it’s an election year, so people are probably willing to wait to see if Joe wins.

      Please I understand caution, but try not to stoke the fires of fear any more than they already are.

      • Aftagley says:

        +1

        This is a much nicer response than the one I was in the process of writing.

        @Original IE

        I’d check your information bubble, because you’re clearly diverging from reality here.

        • original-internet-explorer says:

          It might surprise you to know I’ve spent little time in information-world of Twitter, online newspapers and commentary. My habit is to stop using the internet for weeks, months at a time and on occasion dive in to immerse myself as I fortunately did with COVID19 in February.

          • Aftagley says:

            It might help you to expand your apeture somewhat then.

            The real world isn’t as scary as you seem to think it is. Most people are nice, almost everyone means well (even if we disagree on how to be accomplish that) and almost everything just keeps getting better.

          • Eric T says:

            Ok great, the fact that you got a wrong, and I’d argue actively harmful, opinion from the newspaper or your friends, or the thin slice of the country you interact with doesn’t stop it from being wrong and in my honest opinion, actively harmful.

            I have been to 6 protests now here in NYC, and have close friends attending at least a dozen more. I haven’t seen anything to justify your fears. I have tried my best to outline why what you are so afraid of won’t come to pass. Please stop spreading fear into a very civil and friendly discussion forum. Fear is the mind killer.

        • original-internet-explorer says:

          :Aftagley

          I took a personality test recently called HEXACO – a Big Six model.

          I scored with the highest possible score on Openness and moderately on Neuroticism.

          The riots prompted my comment – true – but I’ve had these concerns about the internet and political violence for some time – if a Tinder for matching pairs can exist then a Tinder for matching victims to vigilantes is not an astonishing leap.

          https://www.lawenforcementtoday.com/groups-taking-photos-of-homes-with-police-cars-in-driveways/

          • toastengineer says:

            if a Tinder for matching pairs can exist then a Tinder for matching victims to vigilantes is not an astonishing leap.

            Hey, endorsing actual vigilantism is way too far.

      • Conrad Honcho says:

        +1. Everything will be fine. Wait a week or two until and everyone will have moved on to the next outrage.

      • Erusian says:

        2. If there’s anyone to be worried about right now it’s certainly not liberals? Like not to play to stereotypes here but when it comes to which Tribe would be able to make an effective armed militia, my money is on the gods guns and monster trucks one. The military, police, and rich/powerful all trend more conservative than the public, so I really doubt any armed uprising would be effective in ANY way if it came from the left.

        I agree with your other points, but not this. The other side sees you as just as encroaching and threatening as you do. They see you as threatening and more likely to launch a coup too. And they’d argue the elite is hugely disproportionately leftist. If you’re interested in de-escalating, arguing your side isn’t as scary as the scary, scary other side is a bad thing to toss in.

        • Eric T says:

          That’s fair. I don’t think either side is remotely likely to launch a coup, but I was just saying that us Leftists would likely be quite bad at it XP

          • Erusian says:

            One day I will write a story about the Spanish Civil War, where a group of libertarian ancaps and a group of anarcho-communists have been placed across from each other in a trench line. Neither side will ever actually attack the other because nobody on either side feels like they have to listen to orders.

      • Wrong Species says:

        I don’t know how you can hold on to such a perspective on current events. Conservatives have been told for years that they were paranoid and that what was happening on campuses would be contained there and yet here we are. None of this looks like a military coup by right wing authoritarians. Trump is too pathetic to do that. He more resembles Louis the sixteenth than Hitler. I don’t know what the endgame here is but it’s going to get worse. Of that, I have no doubt.

        • Edward Scizorhands says:

          I think Matt Yglesias had a tweet where he admitted he was wrong about that stuff staying on campus, but I can’t find it.

        • Nick says:

          Jesse Singal said on his Blocked and Reported podcast a few days ago that he was wrong about this. He said he had lunch with Haidt once and bet informally that it would never spill out into our institutions like this; if he’d made a formal bet, he said, he would have just lost.

        • Le Maistre Chat says:

          It is looking nonsensical that moderates sincerely argued that yes, the (only!) ideology taught in higher education is illogical and basically totalitarian, but no one will ever believe it except on-campus.

          • Wrong Species says:

            And yet conservatives will still be called paranoid. I get that people don’t like to admit they are wrong but it’s incredible the extent to which inconvenient things are just forgotten so quickly. Last weekend, they honestly tried to blame the far right for the riots and it may as well have never happened.

        • Eric T says:

          I don’t know how you can hold on to such a perspective on current events.

          Pretty easily actually if you read what my specific perspective is. Look, things may get worse in the abstract, but that was never my argument. I’m arguing things won’t (any time in the foreseeable future) devolve into some kind of mass violence. As I posted above, even among us higher-educated totalitarians or whatever, violence is still very very frowned upon even when its our tribe directed against our hated red tribe. And that’s with all the anger/frustration of COVID, the Economy, and 4 years of Trump all coming to a head. I think you’d be hard-pressed to imagine a worse set of circumstances for an event like this to generate in, to cause people to maybe consider violence, and it still hasn’t devolved to mass violence – even with a police response that has been less than popular shall we say. We’re on week 2 now and if anything the protesters are getting less violent from what I’ve heard.

          Like genuinely what are you afraid the protesters will do? If they tried some kind of armed coup the National Guard would sweep them off the streets. The most likely case is they will continue “cancelling” people on twitter or something largely irrelevant to your day to do lives. No offense, but few of us are important to ever incur a liberal mob large enough to damage our lives in the long run. I understand if you have issues with the long-term effects of leftist thought/politics. That’s not what this thread has been about, its about whether or not there is an imminent risk of mass physical violence. My position is: obviously no.

          • Wrong Species says:

            You talk about the riots like they are a minor hiccup to otherwise peaceful protests but some cities came out looking like a war zone. Are you just unaware of all the damage that they caused? Have you seen any videos/photos of what they’ve done? Do you even know that the rioters have murdered people? It’s just bizarre that you dismiss the risk of mass physical violence when that exactly is what just happened. Do you think it won’t happen again? The next time a white cop kills a black person under controversial circumstances, there’s going to be another riot. Not only that but since every mayor is going to cripple the police in response to the protests it’s going to be even harder to both prevent riots from happening and more difficult to stop them. And in response, people will say that obviously the only way to stop the mob is more appeasement. We’re not talking about twitter wars anymore. It’s honest to god physical violence and it will keep happening.

          • Eric T says:

            Are you just unaware of all the damage that they caused? Have you seen any videos/photos of what they’ve done? It’s just bizarre that you dismiss the risk of mass physical violence when that exactly is what just happened.

            I have not seen the numbers of how many people have been physically harmed by the rioting. We were trying to find them in the previous OT. I suspect it comes nowhere even close to the world the OP of this thread implied would exist. The rioters are slim minority, have been widely denounced, oh and yeah mostly dealt with.

            And if you get to call the riots “mass violence” do I get to call the hundreds of people hurt by police brutality “mass violence”? Should I make a post on the next SSC open thread advising people to email me so we can discuss ways to hide from the oncoming police-lead crackdown against all leftists? Obviously not.

            The next time a white cop kills a black person under controversial circumstances, there’s going to be another riot.

            Will there? This has been a very specific circumstance leading to a very unique response. Eric Garner didn’t kick of nationwide riots, it feels a bit disingenuous to have one data point and declare that its going to happen every time from now on.

            Not only that but since every mayor is going to cripple the police in response to the protests it’s going to be even harder to both prevent riots from happening and more difficult to stop them.

            Again… seems bold to say that every mayor is going to cripple the police when that really hasn’t been the case. The LAPD had a 150mil reduction sure… but they have had a 1billion increase over the last 10 years so not really “crippled” there. The NYPD are at risk of losing around 1% of their budget currently. Yeah Minneapolis is doing some weird shit maybe (MAYBE – just because they say they’ll do it doesn’t mean they can) but if it doesn’t work I really don’t see many mayors following suit. High crime tends to be bad for election chances.

            It’s honest to god physical violence and it will keep happening.

            Look until we get numbers of who has caused more violence: Rioters or Police, we’ll disagree about who is most at risk. But I can sympathize with this sentiment. I worry about an uptick of violence too. But again, please listen to what I’m arguing. I’m not saying their won’t be random angry riots from time to time (I hope there aren’t but I’m not naive). That’s not what this has ever been about, and OP’s weird strategy wouldn’t help against that. This is about whether an organized mob is going to start hunting people down. Considering how unpopular such a thing is among the people who would need to form said mob DESPITE RIOTING HAPPENING – I don’t see how rioting is strong evidence that this will occur.

          • original-internet-explorer says:

            Economy got a once in a century face smack. Printing press goes birr.

            A global pandemic where we are almost over wave 1. The standard textbook model says 2-4 are coming.

            Cities filled with bored unemployed young men. Look! Free masks!

            Race riots in dozens of cities, mass demonstrations in hundreds.

            Trump Election 2 coming up. Unpopular candidate expected to win.

            Neighbourhoods patrolled by civilians with guns.

            It’s true any of these affairs could be reconciled but when you start to look at the combinations this looks like it can become worse.

    • Pandemic Shmandemic says:

      I hope this is some sort of trolling or a phishing attempt, if it isn’t and this post genuinely reflects your feelings and perception of reality you should seek the help of a mental health professional asap.

      • Edward Scizorhands says:

        Whoever you are, it is easy to find people on the Internet who wish to cause you physical harm. But just because it exists doesn’t mean you have to read it.

        • Pandemic Shmandemic says:

          I don’t know if you meant me or the OP but this is almost completely besides the point.

    • toastengineer says:

      I guess I have to play devil’s advocate here:

      Are you guys unaware of the attempted murder of Cassandra Fairbanks? (Primary source, Breitbart, wish I could give more diverse perspectives but google turned up no non-right-wing sources covering this.) Political violence is absolutely a thing.

      Oh, hell yeah it’s a tail risk, but we are the worry-the-exact-right-amount-about-tail-risks guys. I think maybe putting in a little prep, just in case, is rational. Honestly, I think putting together a “fellow SSCers can crash on my couch for a couple days if you really need to” list is a good idea regardless of the political situation. Community & mutual aid = good thing. Maybe we should let people do good things even if their reasons seem a little silly.

      • A Definite Beta Guy says:

        Yeah, definitely this. You’d think after COVID-19 people might give a little more credence to the possibility that things will NOT be alright.

      • Eric T says:

        I’m fine with community and mutual aid. I’m not fine with making it seem like a massive witch hunt directed at “x-ists” is a real possibility. If @original-internet-explorer wants to create a SSC board for like couch surfing or emergency supplies, or even just a “hey if you aren’t safe and you need a place to crash” then go for it. I’d sign up my apartment for such a list as I mentioned last OT.

        This is explicitly not what they are doing. They are making it seem like there is an imminent wave of violence coming and we need to band together to “escape the mob” and we should prepare ourselves to go live in the woods or something to escape an “ambush”. This isn’t a good way to organize a community resource – see Deiseach’s comment below for plenty of reasons.

        I think this mentality is actively harmful to us as a community for the reasons I expressed above.All of this to say, I think we are way WAY WAY too early to have any reasonable concern for a literal angry mob forming and going around pulling people from their homes, as I believe this commenter implied when they invoked the Rwandan Genocide last OT.

        EDIT: I’ve decided to remove a section on what happened to Fairbanks. I was trying to establish a point about individual violence not equaling mass political violence, but the way I wrote it was crude and made it seem like I thought she had earned the violence in some way. I do not.

        • original-internet-explorer says:

          I mentioned Rwanda because of how radio was used as a communication medium for genocide. A new communication medium seems to always be key for widespread faction violence.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VNbUeLnxQEI

          I understand this isn’t your cup of tea – but I believe most police and soldiers would think the same way I do.

          Do note I didn’t make a specific prediction about who, what, where, when. I do admit – the future with monster trucks sounds cool and we should hold a truce where I am advised to watch March of the Penguins and in return I insist you watch a documentary called The Purge. Then balance will be restored to the universe.

    • Deiseach says:

      No. You do not need to recreate the Underground Railway, and any kind of attempt to set up a sort of commune or utopian-ideal is going to fail in many ways, which we have discussed on here before when analysing why people’s attempts at creating an ideal society fell apart.

      If somebody is in real physical danger then you’re not going to help them by taking them into your house. If somebody is mentally or otherwise struggling due to stress and problems in life, their family or friends should be better support. It would be a very unique case that moving to a stranger’s house for a couple of weeks would do any real good for the person.

      Amateur Witness Protection Programme is a very bad and unworkable idea and not necessary even in these current crazy times. Believe me, times have been this crazy or worse before, the world has survived.

      • original-internet-explorer says:

        I don’t really disagree with any of that Deiseach – but Amateur Witness Protection Programme has been the least worst option in historical civil insurrections

        There is not a strong claim that I know what when and how. This is real X-risk the way volcanos are.

    • John Schilling says:

      Trying to avoid the dogpile by offering something hopefully more constructive. This,

      I’m capable of offering food and lodging to a target for a short duration in my country

      Is not the help anyone is actually going to need. Nobody here is going to be dragged out of their homes and guillotined, and nobody is going to be literally cast out on the street to starve. There’s no support for anything like that. Furthermore, the United States at least is far too polarized for that to ever become the consensus. Long before it reaches the point where either tribe could do that sort of thing, the other tribe would turn against them in a way that would leave them far too busy with each other than worrying about a bunch of freaks like us.

      The danger, to the extent that it exists, is of “cancellation”. Which, again, does not mean literally cast out into the street to starve. It could mean being stuck with nothing but crap jobs that pay for a crappy apartment and food and video games, and being censored from the major social-media platforms, ostracized by your friends and left to play your video games alone in that crappy apartment where nobody will ever care.

      So maybe there’s a need to prepare a collective defense against that. But what is needed is not a priest-hole offering physical security. It’s an economic support network that can provide the cancelled with employment commensurate with their talents and training. It’s a social support network that can provide people with a circle of friends and maybe a surrogate family. And it’s alternate channels of communication to tie these people together and ideally give them some back channel into the public discourse.

      SSC itself could be a small part of that, but it would be a mistake to load too much onto Scott’s public-facing blog. Unfortunately, doing this right would be a much taller order than a mere underground railroad to a place of physical safety. But, if it’s worth thinking about, this is what we need to be thinking about.

      • original-internet-explorer says:

        I like the idea of a safe exit for marginalized groups. A cultural response has a long history with religious groups like Sam’s example.

        The issue for me is the speed at which an internet mob forms. Police reactions are event based but I expect somebody like Cassandra knows they’re about to be attacked but stays in position out of habit and not knowing what to do next. That is the window an assist could be made – by the time gunfire was going off she knows they can get to her – it is too late and we go from zero to 100km where she must call the police or survey the contents of her cutlery drawer. People have an intuition they’re in danger but don’t call the police all the time – but they might call somebody in their tribe who is their emergency contact.

        • Eric T says:

          No. Stop. Please stop advising people to call “a member of their tribe” over the police. If your life is in danger CALL THE POLICE.

          Edit: ESPECIALLY if there are armed assailants. Bring additional untrained people into what could be an armed assault or fight sounds like a recipe to get people hurt/killed.

          • original-internet-explorer says:

            I don’t know what you’re reading but it’s not what I’m writing.

            There exist support groups that are proactive to protect women from abusive spouses. There is a stalking behaviour that happens that the police can’t really deal with because they can’t exist in all times and places.

            Internet mobs can go wrong fast there would be a stalking activity so the victim would have an intuition. Police departments cannot be expected to run on somebody’s hunch.

            If a culture war turns hot the police would be overrun with calls. There have been people attacking ambulances and fire services.

            Meta: You think the system is strong I think it is fragile.

          • Eric T says:

            Alright I’m going to be honest, our conversation often feels like two ships passing in the night to me. I’m not sure I totally understand what you’re advocating for even now, so I’m going to do my best to be super thorough.

            I don’t know what you’re reading but it’s not what I’m writing.

            My understanding is you believe there to be a real chance of violent mobs descending on us like with Ms. Fairbanks. I’ve argued extensively why I think this is monstrously unlikely for the average person, but I won’t just repeat myself.

            My issue is that you seem to think enabling people to have support networks to call upon will help keep them safe. I think said support networks may actually make them, and everyone involved less safe.

            There exist support groups that are proactive to protect women from abusive spouses. There is a stalking behaviour that happens that the police can’t really deal with because they can’t exist in all times and places.

            The difference between this and what you are advocating for is pretty severe. First, an abusive spouse fixates on one person for weeks, months, sometimes years at a time. Angry mobs don’t do that – at least not unless you are so notorious you have a reason to have personally angered a vast amount of the mob. So with a spouse, having an ever-vigilant presence over a long time is helpful, but with a mob you’d just need to be safe temporarily. In such a situation YOU SHOULD CALL THE POLICE. Another difference between angry mobs and spouses are how they react to people, and the general danger level they pose. If I bring in 5 friends to protect me from a spouse, I can be fairly confident said spouse won’t try shit. Not true with an angry mob, if anything the presence of a counter-mob may only make them more violent.

            Internet mobs can go wrong fast there would be a stalking activity so the victim would have an intuition.

            Ok this is an example of what I mean when I say I don’t think I understand you. In the same sentence you say “internet mobs can go wrong fast” and “there would be enough time prior to the mobs arrival that a person could detect them coming” I feel like one of two things is true: Mobs either move quickly upon a person w/ little or no warning, or they don’t.

            If no warning: Unclear how your support network helps. If I have time to call for aid and there is an imminent threat to my life, I should call 911. If 911 can’t get to me, it seems unlikely that someone from an internet forum will, or that their presence would actually be helpful.

            If warning: Here the support network could maybe be useful if the person in question had nowhere else to go (friends, family etc.) but I see two issues. First, if the Mob is this patient the support network presumably can’t hide people forever. And second, if someone has reason to suspect a large group of people are targeting their life, and they go to the police with evidence of said fact, I think the cops would try to keep them safe, and likely do a better job of it than blog readers.

            If a culture war turns hot the police would be overrun with calls. There have been people attacking ambulances and fire services.

            In this world why is the mob targeting you? Presumably they’ve got way bigger fish to fry, and it sounds like they’re dealing with a lot worse right now, probably a bunch of cops shooting at them or something.

          • Matt M says:

            Cassandra did call the police. They told her tough luck, they couldn’t help her.

            I guess you can say that’s really rare and it’s just bad luck and it probably won’t happen to you. But are you willing to bet your life on it?

          • Eric T says:

            I guess you can say that’s really rare and it’s just bad luck and it probably won’t happen to you. But are you willing to bet your life on it?

            Yes. I’m willing to bet my life that: 1) I won’t be on the bottom side of the like 1-in-20 Million chance that I get targeted by an angry mob, that 2) said mob has for some reason stopped the cops from helping me, 3) that there is a nearby ally who can get to me despite the cops being unable to, and 4) they’re actually able to protect against the mob.

            I’m far more likely to die of heart disease, so maybe I should spend the time I would spend building my alliance of allies researching ways to lower my cholesterol, or going on a nice jog.

        • Deiseach says:

          The issue for me is the speed at which an internet mob forms … by the time gunfire was going off she knows they can get to her – it is too late and we go from zero to 100km where she must call the police or survey the contents of her cutlery drawer.

          Are you genuinely saying you are considering online lynch mobs forming and then heading out WITH GUNS A-BLAZING to kill or at least injure or drive out people from/affiliated with SSC?

          Seriously?

          Because that is as bonkers as the people I quoted saying straight up that the police (and white supremacists) are poring over photos of people involved in the protests so they can go after them to kill them.

          If you honestly think “group that includes Fred and Bob are fully prepared to commit murder” then offering to host refugees is no good, you need to call the cops or some form of authority to stop them.

          • original-internet-explorer says:

            It’s not just this digital metapolitics bar – but yes this is possible. It’s not crazy to think some species of rightist would gather information for assassination lists either – and I’m a rightist saying so. The left assassinated Pim Fortuyn for representing views which are just generic rightist positions.

            When CW aggravation escalates anybody who stands out and is accessible can become a scapegoat. Soros for the right or Kissinger for the left but often some pleb with the wrong opinion at the wrong time who is accessible who gets mobbed. Tucker Carlson did a bit on it last week – so this is not a fringe view – at least not for male rightists – I think men don’t talk to women about this.

            I don’t want to mention specific names of people in the SSC noosphere but yes there are different fringe groups who would target them if they became activated in a conflict. Contra-Eric – this is phase 1 of most civil conflicts. The Culture War is like the Cold War and internal conflict is more plausible than state on state.

            The most likely path is for a provoked partisan to post the location of the person representing the wrong sort of politics and then this is forwarded to a different group of people who act as the hands of violence. That group might not even have an objection to the target – probably not spending days and nights figuring out good reasons to be murdering fellow citizens – they just get the order and activate. There’s simple people like that in every faction.

            I posted the link from the police site – the rioters were exhibiting stalking by following police back to their homes – we are not as far from very serious events as we might like to believe. Probably it will be fine – but I say have insurance.

            Elon Musk is not going to Mars because of asteroids I don’t think – I believe his less disclosed motivation is he doesn’t believe we have a lot of time because of human nature. Right at the top of this blog a reference to Turchin – all about cycles of violence in societies.

          • Eric T says:

            Nooooooooooooooo I thought we were done with this!

          • original-internet-explorer says:

            :Eric T

            You’re supposed to be on your jog! It makes you live longer.

            I had a client who died of type 2 – I gave up all refined sugar and went from obese to normal BMI in a year.

            Zubrin gave a talk at the Mars Society echoing my basic complaint about us being murder-y and why that means we should strive for space.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8kaZRGwfK9U

          • Eric T says:

            The left assassinated Pim Fortuyn for representing views which are just generic rightist positions.

            Look – he’s a politician. You’re a commentor on a blog. Politicans by their nature will ALWAYS be in some degree of danger. All public figures are, some assassinated John Lennon for chrissakes. I’m not sweating that Boris Nemtsov was killed, because its functionally not a situation I ever see myself being in. Unless you are running for a high-ranking political office or forming your own populist party, Fortuyn’s assassination is probably the least of your concerns.

            When CW aggravation escalates anybody who stands out and is accessible can become a scapegoat. Soros for the right or Kissinger for the left

            Ah yes, renowned war criminal Henry Kissinger, arguably responsible for millions of deaths. Unless you’re planning something I should be worried about I think you’re going to be fine.

            but often some pleb with the wrong opinion at the wrong time who is accessible who gets mobbed.

            Do they often? I buy this might happen like… once in a while. But often?? Is this a frequent occurrence? I have legitimately tried to google how often this occurs and I have found nothing so I don’t think this is a valid concern, but I just don’t know.

            I don’t want to mention specific names of people in the SSC noosphere but yes there are different fringe groups who would target them if they became activated in a conflict. Contra-Eric – this is phase 1 of most civil conflicts. The Culture War is like the Cold War and internal conflict is more plausible than state on state.

            Uhhhhh I find it harder and harder to really engage with this because I genuinely don’t know where to begin. 1. No offense to any of y’all but I’m pretty politically savvy and I didn’t know ANY of you, so I think you’re low notoriety to be safe.

            2. Why am I even giving credence to that thought? I’ve repeadetly asked someone to tell me how this could happen and gotten no answer. To reiterate:

            Basically all states that descended into mob rule had crippled economies, weak militaries/police forces, and a long buildup of violent civil unrest. The US has a reasonably effective economy, even despite record high unemployment right now, the strongest and best funded military and police in the world, and I mean if you want to call the scattered looting that has basically all but ended “violent and civil unrest” I guess that’s technically correct, but it doesn’t really map onto the examples upthread like Revolutionary France.

            Add onto this fact how deeply unpopular it is for a violent lynch mob to form and another fact: the US government’s monopoly on force is extreme. If a violent lynch mob took control of the streets I’m very confident that if they wanted to the US military could kill all of them in under 30 minutes. Protestors with knives and rifles can’t really withstand trillions of dollars of advanced military vehicles and hardware.

            Probably it will be fine – but I say have insurance.

            As was posted above – your “insurance” is apparently to create a counter mob that can like… fight or hide you from the mob. I’ve gone deeply in detail as to why this won’t work, and will likely make you and your counter-mob LESS safe, even if your worst-case scenario comes to pass. You want insurance? Buy a log cabin deep in the woods and get a hunting rifle. Don’t try to convince people to fight mobs!

            Elon Musk is not going to Mars because of asteroids I don’t think – I believe his less disclosed motivation is he doesn’t believe we have a lot of time because of human nature.

            Wouldn’t moving to like… Australia be easier?

          • Eric T says:

            You’re supposed to be on your jog! It makes you live longer.

            I did actually! Thank you for checking in.

            Zubrin gave a talk at the Mars Society echoing my basic complaint about us being murder-y and why that means we should strive for space.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8kaZRGwfK9U

            You’re gonna make me watch a 30-minute long video of this guy? Really? Can I at least get a timestamp?

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            Zubrin gave a talk at the Mars Society echoing my basic complaint about us being murder-y and why that means we should strive for space.

            This seems parochial of him. He’s saying people should go live on the Moon-and-Mars because we’re murder-y? Why that quadrillion-dollar project and not an alternative like O’Neill habitats? Has he watched Mobile Suit Gundam and is afraid of separatist space colonists gassing the orbital habitats of government loyalists and dropping them on Earth as WMDs?

          • original-internet-explorer says:

            @Eric T

            In 1984 the Ministry of Health had an exercise instructor tell Winston what to do for an hour through the telescreen. Today that’s a Silicon Valley startup. I’m against using gym equipment but for exercise in real environments with trees and rocks. There is a leaping lizard inside your brain that appreciates simple real interaction like a puppy running after a ball. In our age people use their bodies awkwardly and are prone to injuries – probably as people turn their brains off while driving on the freeway.

            Robert Zubrin talks are always worth watching in full but here you go https://youtu.be/8kaZRGwfK9U?t=1385

          • original-internet-explorer says:

            @Le Maistre Chat

            I like the cylinders but there is a critical path in the tech graph I think.

            It’s somewhere in here –

            https://makezine.com/2013/07/06/the-rockwell-integrated-space-plan-vector-redux-version/

            We are behind schedule.

      • Wrong Species says:

        There’s no support for anything like that.

        People say stuff like this but they managed to outlaw Christianity in 18th century France. We don’t know what could happen and you don’t necessarily need that much support to put extreme policies in place.

        • Eric T says:

          To be clear, Dechristianization as a legal function happened mainly in 1793 – 4 years after the start of a massive violent revolution that had taken so many weird turns it resembled nothing of how it began.

          These things don’t come out of nowhere like you are making it seem.

          • BBA says:

            I’m not terribly familiar with the specifics, but I’ve read some discussion of how chaotic the Iranian Revolution was. Many of the revolutionaries were clamoring to replace the Shah with a secular democracy and weren’t pleased with how things turned out. You can retroactively impose a narrative that it was a unified front arguing for a repressive theocracy but that doesn’t reflect what they were thinking while it was happening.

            So when I hear talk of “the lockdowns are meant to repress Christianity” or “Trump is calling in the military to overthrow elected government in blue states” or “the riots and looting are being carried out by [INSERT ANYONE HERE]”, well, that’s how it may all shake out, but we just don’t know anything yet, and maybe we never will.

            There’s no earthly way of knooooowing… which direction we are goooooing…

        • Matt M says:

          Yeah. Pretty much every place where horrible atrocities happened looked relatively normal a few years beforehand. Everyone thought it couldn’t/wouldn’t happen there.

          Remember, Time Magazine made Hitler “man of the year” in 1938…

          The time to worry about and prepare for and try and stop this sort of thing is now. Not “once there is large public support for executing anyone who won’t take the BLM-pledge.” Because once that exists, it’s too late.

          • Eric T says:

            Yeah. Pretty much every place where horrible atrocities happened looked relatively normal a few years beforehand. Everyone thought it couldn’t/wouldn’t happen there.

            That’s just not true. Let’s go over the examples that have been brought up over the course of this thread in chronological order:

            Revolutionary France. 30+ years of unrest, starting arguably with the defeat of the British in the American Revolution, combined with a decades-long taxation scheme so massively unpopular it incited revolts, and a country literally declaring bankruptcy. Add in the fact that 98% of the population was systemically being denied representation through the weakening of the third estate.

            France was for years before the revolution a shadow state, crippled economy and functionally worthless military in the face of a public uprising that was only caused by measures so deeply unpopular they’ve become synonymous with really stupid ideas.

            Nazi Germany. Again, another very weak state in a massive financial crisis, the Weimar republic had little to no measures to prevent the rise of the Nazi Party. With a new, poorly constructed democratic system that had been hastily adapted from a monarchic government, one of the worst financial crises a first-world nation has seen in the last 200 years, and gutted military there was unrest and violence for years before the Nazis ever took power. They literally burned the main government building back in 1933 – last time I checked the white house is still up.

            Again, you have a state with massive financial issues, unrest that hits a cross-section of the population, and functionally weak stability internally.

            Finally Rwanda. I wrote my college capstone on the conditions leading to the Rwandan genocide, so to stop myself from writing 20,000+ words here, let’s just leave it at this. It was a hot fucking mess.

            All these states have several in common. First, very weak or ineffective internal peace-keeping measures. The French Monarchy, Weimar Republic, and Hutu-Controlled Rwanda weren’t exactly ranking high on the “world power” list. Many of them were functionally out of money, couldn’t pay soldiers, or simply lacked high-quality force. The United States, for all of its troubles, has the most powerful military and police forces in the world. Any attempt at mass violence could be destroyed so fast it’d make the 6-day war look like World War I. Even if you don’t buy this, the deep political divides in the US make it unlikely that a majority is able to rise and seize power- ethnic Germans in Weimar, the 98% in France, or the 90% Hutu population in Rwanda. Even if all the Leftists got together and decided to hold a coup, we wouldn’t control a majority stake in the weapons, soldiers, or land of the country – something all of the above coups/uprisings had one of, if not all of.

            Look, I’ll concede that there is always some chance of shit going sideways. But that’s no matter what. If these protests end completely peacefully and life goes back to normal it will still be true. Given that I can’t convince you of that not being the case, by all means live your life ready to fight an armed battle. I think that’s a deeply illogical way to live and living that way will reduce your QoL, but I can’t stop you. What I will ask people to stop, is pushing that these ideas are likely, or even certain, based on one largely isolated incident that is already improving. Look I said it myself in the previous OT – I think there is likely going to be more riots if shit doesn’t change. But I see no path for these scattered riots to lead to, as you say,

            large public support for executing anyone who won’t take the BLM-pledge

            And if there is, I’ll smuggle you out of the country myself.

          • A Definite Beta Guy says:

            The thread creator is borderline paranoid, butI think you are underestimating possible risks. There are always warning signs, but the issue is everyone thinks “well, this is like what happened before” and thinks the warning signs mean nothing.
            And the warning signs and tremors can usually be mitigated by a competent government, and they usually are, until they can’t. France gets an exceptionally good Finance Minister that Littlefingers the budget, until eventually the jig is up and France realizes it has no money. Weimar successfully puts down a loser revolt and co-opts the leader into its political system, until they realize their political system is not robust enough to resist takeover when someone controls the security system. Rwanda looks like a normal shithole with its normal civil wars, until Hutu Power turned out to have just a bit more momentum than anyone planned for. We go through decades of influenza and coronavirus outbreaks, until it turns out this one is adapted just well enough to kill millions of us. All this slavery nonsense really just amounts to a few hundred dead in Kansas over the course of years and an idiot trying to start a slave rebellion in Virginia, until it’s not that anymore.

            Yes, there are always warning signs, the issue is that the warning signs usually end up being dismissed as Not Really That Serious.

            EDIT: First draft was more abrasive than called for so I edited the language. My apologies.

          • Eric T says:

            I guess my post got eaten by the spam filter, which is sad because I liked it a lot. TLDR: I don’t have the energy to keep arguing it, but please just bear in mind that I think 1. it’s not on me to prove the political violence isn’t likely, the burden of proof should be on the person arguing it is, and 2. I think this kind of thought (Leftists are likely, or even definitely, going to hurt us) could partially be a self-fulfilling prophecy as it breaks down the very types of civil discourse that serve as a great barrier to it occurring.

            If I can find the energy to re-write the longer version of this I will, but for now I concede that I can’t convince you said disaster isn’t coming, but I hold fast that trying to convince people it is coming is actively harmful.

            EDIT: Okay this is roughly what I initially said.

            1. I think this future is both statistically unlikely (the vast majority of cases of rioting or civil unrest don’t yield lynch mobs) and doesn’t seem to have a pragmatic path to occurring. I have laid out some, in my opinion, rather serious roadblocks to said Lynch Mobs forming (Financially Stable Country, Strong Military, Lack of Public Support) and I think that it’s not my burden to prove that this time isn’t different, but rather the people advocating it is to at least explain how it actually could. Otherwise we’re just arguing about some incredibly unlikely possibility.

            2. I think the advice in this thread actively puts people in danger. Do not call for friends, armed or otherwise, if a mob is assailing you. I outlined in an above post why it is virtually never going to be helpful, and putting untrained civilians in the middle of a high-stress violent confrontation potentially involving firearms is a recipe for disaster.

            3. This kind of talk, both on SSC and writ-large does damage to the very institutions that help make this type of thing nigh-impossible. When you convince people that Leftists are out to get them, it breaks down trust and communication. When I come on here and see people legitimately discussing how to blunt a Leftist takeover, it makes it really hard for me to discuss openly and constructively with them, because A. I’m starting from a perilous position “We don’t want to kill you” and B. We spend more time discussing this than the things that are actually happening right now. I think putting the idea that this is likely, or even certain as some people have implied upthread, makes fears of violence more likely to come to pass.

          • Matt M says:

            Nobody is saying it’s “likely.” It’s a rare event. Rare events, by their nature, are never going to be “likely.” But “it’s a rare event” does not logically imply “therefore you shouldn’t worry about it.”

            And your point #2 is sounding pretty close to you almost saying that “we have it coming.” I’m going to apply some charity here and assume you don’t really mean it to be taken that way, but “don’t talk about leftists being violent because that makes it more likely leftists will kill you” seems to be a morally suspect position, even if technically accurate. I mean, as a matter of practicality yes, the best way to avoid being killed by the mob is to do your best to join and not offend the mob in any way. But for various reasons, some of us are particularly disinclined to do that, so “what else can we do” is a relevant question.

            The point is that large-scale public violence is like pushing a boulder up a mountain. It moves slowly. It’s hard to get it to the summit. At any give moment when the boulder is below the summit, it’s easy to look at the situation and say “the people on the other side of the mountain are safe, the boulder isn’t at the top yet and getting it there will be hard.” But once you crest the summit, it’s too late. At that point the boulder has momentum, and nothing is going to stop it. The time to worry is before the boulder is at the summit. Preferably a bit before and not “two seconds before it gets there.”

            No, France and Germany and Rwanda didn’t go from “normal peaceful high-functioning society” to “mass public executions” overnight. It did take some time. But my point is that there was no period of months/years when intelligent opinion all recognized that mass public executions were coming soon. It seemed like it happened overnight to most people. Including the people with the most to lose and the highest incentives to be looking out for that sort of thing. The fact that a whole lot of French Aristocracy/Jews/Tutsis didn’t flee during the “good times” should suffice as ample evidence that these things aren’t necessarily easy to see coming…

          • Eric T says:

            And your point #2 is sounding pretty close to you almost saying that “we have it coming.” I’m going to apply some charity here and assume you don’t really mean it to be taken that way, but “don’t talk about leftists being violent because that makes it more likely leftists will kill you” seems to be a morally suspect position, even if technically accurate. I mean, as a matter of practicality yes, the best way to avoid being killed by the mob is to do your best to join and not offend the mob in any way. But for various reasons, some of us are particularly disinclined to do that, so “what else can we do” is a relevant question.

            Ok I know I said I’d stop arguing this but I feel that this point in particular is important to clear up. I’m not saying leftists will attack you if you call them violent, or that you should join the Mob. I think that’s a little uncharitable. What I am saying is when you try to convince people that violence agianst X-ists is coming, and let’s be clear, while some people in this thread have maintained its rarity, others have repeatedly argued that it is in fact coming, you do two things. First you break down trust between both sides. You make Red Tribers think Blue Tribers are going to hurt them, and you make the Blues think the Reds are paranoid. This in turn causes peaceful solutions to fail more often, and I think we can all agree that peaceful solutions succeeding is usually a good way to stop violent “solutions” occurring. Second, you make people panic, and panic is bad for preventing violence. Panicked people make poor choices, most violence is born of poor choices.

            To be clear, this isn’t a left/right issue for me. If someone came into this thread arguing why the Red Tribe is going to start pulling college grads out and killing them Cultural Revolution style, I’d have a real issue with it too. I think lending legitimacy to these thoughts goes past the point of “prepping for the worst’ and enters the point of “contributing to it”

            EDIT: I just wanted to say thank you for your above language edit, I felt a little peeved by being called head-in-the-sand for defending what I still believe to be a quite reasonable position XP

    • SamChevre says:

      I’ll just note that this is generous, but quite dangerous.

      I had a friend who helped someone at serious risk flee the country in a case that the left chose to use as part of their “no, we make shit up and it’s the law–or at least, we can punish you for not acting like it’s the law” campaign: he ended up spending several years in jail.

      • Aftagley says:

        Yeah. Us kooky leftists with our weird stances against parental kidnapping. What will we think of next?!

      • Guy in TN says:

        I had a friend who helped someone at serious risk flee the country in a case that the left chose to use as part of their “no, we make shit up and it’s the law–or at least, we can punish you for not acting like it’s the law” campaign

        Every once in a while, I’ll see a comment on SSC that just leave me floored. Awe-struck at the vast inferential gulfs, bottomless chasms stretching out into the horizon.

        [Ken Miller was found guilty of aiding in the kidnapping of a child, for those of you who are curious]

        • original-internet-explorer says:

          I can guess it comes down to the legitimacy of civil partnerships – something which is very new and their community doesn’t buy in so it’s a conflict between two moral codes and one legal one.

          Looks to be Shiri’s Scissors.

          • Guy in TN says:

            “Lesbian marriage is morally wrong” is a position I can understand why someone believes.

            “Lesbian marriage shouldn’t be legal” is also a position I can understand why someone believes.

            “Lesbian marriage and its associated parental rights isn’t actually the law, just something Leftists made up and are now lawlessly enforcing against innocent people” is currently beyond me.

          • cassander says:

            @Guy in TN

            “Lesbian marriage and its associated parental rights isn’t actually the law, just something Leftists made up and are now lawlessly enforcing against innocent people” is currently beyond me.

            I think the claim is more like ‘the constitution as laid down by the founders clearly states that lesbian marriage is a fundamental human right’ is something Leftists made up and are now lawlessly enforcing against innocent people.

          • Eric T says:

            @cassander – to be fair its the 14th amendment us Leftists usually site to force you innocent people to allow same-sex marriage. Also didn’t that case happen in Vermont, a state that legalized civil unions years before the Supreme Court ever got involved through its democratically elected legislature? The issue was she thought she could avoid this by moving to a state with different laws, despite knowingly entering into said legal arrangement in Vermont. And even the state in question’s own court said that irrespective of SS marriage laws in Virginia, the visitation rights granted by Vermont were still legal and enforceable?

          • cassander says:

            @Eric T

            I think you’re confusing me for someone who’s opposed to same sex marriage. But yes, that’s more or less what happened, but the supremes ruled the opposite way 40 years earlier on more or less the same question, as they have for numerous other rights, like gun permits. So I can understand why people are annoyed at the way the penumbras and emanations always seem to endorse the current left wing cause de jure.

          • John Schilling says:

            But Vermont passed an explicit civil-union law in 2000, in the usual fashion with the state legislature and governor doing their thing. That’s note make-believe law or quasi-law or fake law, that’s straight-up law law. And, per the full faith and credit clause, it’s law in Virginia as well as Vermont, where the child of a Vermont union is concerned.

            It might be a wrong or stupid or unjust law; those are all reasonable things to argue. But I’m not seeing where “they just made shit up and called it law” comes into it, except to the extent that e.g. “no murdering people” is just some shit that people made up once upon a time.

          • ana53294 says:

            I don’t think agreeing or not depends on whether you agree with lesbian marriage or parenting rights by the non-biological mother.

            From what I’ve read in the Wikipedia page, there are accusations of parental abuse in that couple, and many people will support the parent who does everything, even illegal things, against a person who they believe is mistreating their child, even when it’s a heterosexual married couple. Even when it’s not proved in court. The degree of support depends on whether they believe the accusations against the parent.

            In Spain, for example, there was a kidnapping case within a heterosexual couple, and the country more or less split in half, feminist organizations supporting the mother. The case was the following: A Spanish woman married and living in Italy made several allegations of abuse by her husband. After divorcing him, she returns to Spain, where she refuses the father’s requests to see the child. The Italian government launches a case against her for kidnapping.

            Nobody disagreed whether this was a crime according to the law (it was), but many people disagreed on whether it was morally wrong.

            In cases of parental kidnapping, I’m quite skeptical whether we can determine who was right. I believe that in some cases, parental kidnapping may be the morally right thing to do. And the law can be wrong in forcing visitation.

          • Eric T says:

            @ana53294

            Nobody disagreed whether this was a crime according to the law (it was), but many people disagreed on whether it was morally wrong.

            Literally that’s how this conversation started:

            a case that the left chose to use as part of their “no, we make shit up and it’s the law–or at least, we can punish you for not acting like it’s the law”

            Look if you want to argue the Left passes immoral laws, thats one thing. This was an argument over whether the Left “makes shit up and suddenly its the law.”

          • Spookykou says:

            I assumed ana was speaking to the case in their example in the section you quoted.

          • SamChevre says:

            It’s somewhat related to the legitimacy of civil partnerships–but more critically, Virginia law explicitly did not recognize civil partnerships (It even disallowed contracts that looked like civil partnerships.), and had not repealed its sodomy laws (Lawrence is part of the “make shit up and call it law” enterprise). From Br Ken’s perspective, it looked like the courts trying to take a child from her mother to give her to someone completely unrelated, whose past relationship with the mother was illegal under Virginia law.

          • ana53294 says:

            @Eric T

            I was referring to the Spanish case (link in Spanish) when I said it was a crime. It’s also a case where a parental abduction occurred and people disagree on whether it was right or wrong.

            I was trying to say parental abductions are a huge can of worms that’s very complicated even among traditional, married heterosexual couples, and people have vastly differing opinions on whether it’s right or wrong. An sometimes people morally support kidnapping even in those cases, especially when there are accusations of abuse.

            The law is clear; people’s conception of what is right and wrong sometimes differ drastically when it comes to parental abductions.

            The legal status of gay marriage and the biological parentage just adds another complication to an already complicated situation.

          • Aftagley says:

            Also, this wasn’t as if one party member was forced into an agreement against their will/morals. They both agreed to travel to a state where the kind of relationship they wanted was legal and then formalized that relationship contractually with each-other and the state.

            Then one party adjusted her feelings and wanted to keep the parts of the relationship she enjoyed (the child) but not the parts she didn’t (the partner). She also decided that she wouldn’t comply with the visitation rights of her partner as mandated by law.

            So we had one party in this who expected to be treated in accordance with most divorce laws as recognized by pretty much all states and another one who wanted her personal feelings to be held up as more important that law. That person, when confronted by the power of the state, ended up kidnapping a child and fleeing to the third world rather than follow existing law and her previous contracts.

            +1 on what Guy in TN said earlier. This is one of those topics I’m shocked reasonable people can disagree on.

      • original-internet-explorer says:

        I note it – but I don’t know if my plan would work for that. I had to stipulate in my scheme both persons appear at the police station or be known to the police so they can’t have an arrest warrant. This was to protect the householder from the person seeking refugee.

    • Purplehermann says:

      Let’s be rational :p

      I don’t think this is likely at all (at least in the near future..)

      If you’re worried about this I’d get in contact with some preppers, buy a handgun and train with it.

      The SSC culture is probably not as useful for this as preppers.
      Preppers likely won’t care about your other views too much as long as you believe in prepping, so they cover the main advantage of SSC.

      A handgun will give you the ability to stop people from attacking you, assuming you are trained.
      This will a) make you feel safer and b) let you stop a small mob if necessary. Make sure not to risk compensate.

      • original-internet-explorer says:

        Handguns are illegal in my state probably because of sectarian violence. I am though – already a prepper and know the culture.

        SSC culture is very high in openness – and it could be that I am neurotic more than most. I want to believe that a good explorer combines openness with survival traits. Neuroticism exists for a reason. I must admit there are times I would like to turn down the volume but I’m not sure this is possible.

    • Garrett says:

      Bolt-holes are useful, but more in the case where the issue is unexpected. For example, having a place to go in the event of a natural disaster avoids a lot of the stress of the disaster, and allows you to stay somewhere other than a hotel room, freeing up hotel rooms for others. Having a network of social connections and available assistance is really great in these cases.

      If you are worried about social upheaval and persecution, it strikes me that the best thing to do would be to slowly and cautiously look at moving to an area where people like you (for whatever value of ‘like you’ applies) are more well-tolerated and plan your life around moving to such an area. That doesn’t mean picking up in the middle of the evening. That means visiting occasionally, looking for employment in the area, and eventual relocation.

      If I end up facing a situation where People Like Me are being hauled out of their house and summarily executed, I’m not willing to also take in other people who are also weird. I’ve spent a decade convincing my neighbors that I’m quirky-weird not eat-your-pets-weird. I’m certainly not willing to take in randos. Hell, just *looking* to take in a friend of mine for a few months ended up with me spending more money on a lawyer than I thought I was going to need.

  13. metalcrow says:

    I’m inclined to agree that from a deaths-only utilitarian perspective you’re probably correct, but the real crux of the issue is that when push comes to shove, very few people are actually utilitarians. So while you have a point, the problem is, no one outside of the rationalist community (and even some in it), is going to agree with it and will probably view you as an evil robot for suggesting it. I’m not sure what to do about this other than note it.

    Then there is the whole counter proposal that it’s not just deaths but about rights, and the chilling effect on everyone’s QALYs that violations of these rights cost, but i think that’s less relevant.

  14. Le Maistre Chat says:

    So I was just looking up information on the April 1968 violent riots against the Reverend MLK Jr’s assassination, and apparently 40 people were killed, amidst rioting in around 100 cities. Does anyone know how current events compare?

    Loosely related, I’m not looking forward to the 1968 Democratic National Convention.

    • keaswaran says:

      It’s much harder to have police brutality around a convention held on Zoom than it is in the Chicago Convention Center.

  15. MisterA says:

    Just saw a pretty good real life example of the cops being willing to leverage union/labor type tactics to defend their right to flagrantly brutalize citizens.

    The two cops who were suspended after they knocked that old guy down in Buffalo were members of the department’s Emergency Response unit. Now all 57 other members of that unit have also resigned in solidarity with their fellows; not from the police, but from that unit.

    We’ve seen this before – after the city of Baltimore tried to reign in the cops following the death of Freddie Gray the cops basically went on an undeclared strike, and Baltimore saw a massive spike in crime while it was declining essentially everywhere else.

    So it really does seem like the police are committed to the position that you either give them total impunity, or they will withhold their services. I am not sure whether that ultimately leads to total police victory or the “abolish the cops” position starting enjoy broader appeal, but it sure seems like it makes it harder to find a reasonable compromise position.

    • Edward Scizorhands says:

      If the military did it, we’d call it a coup.

      • Ninety-Three says:

        A coup is when the military seizes new power. When they say “Fine, if you won’t let me do what I want I’m taking my ball and going home”, that’s called going AWOL.

    • Erusian says:

      So it really does seem like the police are committed to the position that you either give them total impunity, or they will withhold their services.

      Have you read the reason they resigned from the horse’s mouth? Or are you just listening to what other people are telling you they’re saying? Because this is not what they’re saying, it’s what other people are saying about them.

      You can choose to disbelieve them, of course.

      • MisterA says:

        Yes.

        “Fifty-seven resigned in disgust because of the treatment of two of their members, who were simply executing orders,” Buffalo Police Benevolent Association president John Evans told WGRZ on Friday.

        https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/05/us/buffalo-police-suspension-shoving-man-trnd/index.html

        • Erusian says:

          I read the article. I didn’t see a link or quote from their statements, just an asked for statement from a radio station talking to someone who didn’t actually resign (but is a supporter). Further, the quote does not explain why they consider the treatment unfair, nor does the article.

          • beleester says:

            The Police Benevolent Association isn’t just “some group that supports the police,” it’s their union. If the president of the PBA is saying something, I would consider that an official statement on what the police think of the situation.

            However, this article has an email from the PBA president with more details, and it looks like there’s another reason which explains why everyone resigned – the PBA said they are not going to risk paying for legal defense related to the protests, and officers are unwilling to work without legal backing.

          • Erusian says:

            I didn’t say they were. I said that they were putting out justifications and that a comment made to a news station that they were treated unfairly doesn’t include why they resigned, something you don’t know unless you read what they actually say. Which you have, revealing the situation is far more complicated than them demanding a right (quoting OP) to “flagrantly brutalize citizens.” or they’ll resign.

    • cassander says:

      the correct response in such a situation is “fine, so be it.” fire every cop in the current PD and bring in the national guard until you can hire a private company security firm to come in and re-build your PD from scratch along whatever lines you want. The police only have power if the politicians let them have it. Most of them prefer to do so, for their own reasons.

      • hash872 says:

        The correct response is to void their union contract and fire the department en-masse, then offer to hire them back- under a new union agreement where the police are at-will employees with no arbitration rights to dispute firings, and disciplinary procedures are carried out by an independent body (i.e. no more ‘Internal Affairs’ where the police investigate the police). Camden New Jersey voided their police union contract this way

        • Eric T says:

          The situation in Camden was so bad that the government basically had no choice but to take drastic action. I volunteered in Camden for years, and trust me I’ve yet to see anywhere as bad as mid 2010s Camden.

          All of this to say the bar probably shouldn’t be “Camden did it so you can to!”

        • cassander says:

          If the rot is that deep, re-hiring everyone will likely just reproduce the same pathologies through different routes. External disciplinary procedures aren’t much use if everyone in the department is perfectly willing to lie for each other.

          • Spookykou says:

            I have worked with large unions for several years, the impression I get is that a lot of people enjoy flaunting the line of what they can do within the confines of the rules. If you can use this fire rehire method to fundamentally change the union agreement, I think this would effectively shift a lot of behavior to the new, worst possible, but ideally not as bad, behavior, and of course if they step over that line back into the old levels of bad, you actually can fire them.

    • A Definite Beta Guy says:

      Yes, blaming the police for all of America’s ills for the last week, declaring your intention to bust their unions, trying to abolish them entirely, threatening to steal their pensions, wanting to put them in jail, etc, in the same week where police officers and even the Secret Service are treated like punching bags by the pro-Corona Virus Street Party….

      Yeah, believe it or not, actions and words have consequences.

      I can tell you in our division, both under old and new structure, if 1/3 of the workforce fires a complaint about something within X hours (corporate HR is very ambiguous), then the Factory Manager and the HR Manager are summarily fired. If you have that level of complaint, it means you really screwed the pooch and torched your credibility with your workforce beyond repair.

      • MisterA says:

        If they had resigned as some sort of general statement, that would be one thing.

        These guys specifically resigned in solidarity with cops who put a 75 year old man in the hospital for no apparent reason. The department first tried bald-faced lying to cover for those officers – then when it turned out the assault occurred on video, and they actually had to suffer consequences, their entire unit resigned in solidarity at the “disgusting treatment.”

        If a suspension is disgusting treatment for putting a non-violent elderly man in the hospital, exactly what level of accountability would you say is called for?

        EDIT – It appears the officers were also arrested and charged with assault, but that was after their unit resigned in protest, so even suspension was too much for them. Of course the same question also applies with their arrest and charges; if the police won’t countenance actual consequences even in a case this cut and dry, exactly what recourse is left on the table?

        Particularly notable is that a bunch of cops protested outside the courthouse in defense of the charged cops. So it really appears to be the view of at least large portions of the Buffalo PD that the cops in that video did nothing wrong.

      • beleester says:

        Does your workplace have a similar level of strictness towards health and safety violations? If a worker’s error put someone else in the hospital, would you let it slide because hey, their co-workers really like them and keeping your credibility with your workforce is more important?

    • Logan says:

      The cops didn’t resign in solidarity, that’s just what the police union wants you to believe.

      The union announced that, after the incident, they would no longer be covering the legal fees of union members charged with brutality during the protests. At least some of the cops decided that they didn’t want to be liable, and so refused to continue policing the protest out of rational self interest. The union then announced “See how much solidarity we have? All these people resigning in solidarity!” Media then repeats the union line because it’s easy and it fits the narrative.

      We can’t know exactly how many of the cops feel solidarity and how many don’t, but this local news piece shows that at least some of the resigning cops feel misrepresented:
      https://www.wkbw.com/news/local-news/exclusive-two-buffalo-police-ert-members-say-resignation-was-not-in-solidarity-with-suspended-officers

      • Matt C says:

        Thanks for posting this. That story makes a lot more sense now.

        • MisterA says:

          Yeah, that is somewhat more reasonable, although it still doesn’t paint a great picture that they can’t conceive of how to do their job without getting criminal charges for brutality.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            If my liability insurance provider said I would no longer be covered for anything on Tuesdays, I would stop going to work on Tuesday.

            “Just don’t do brutality and you have nothing to worry about for being sued” is as wrong as “just don’t break laws and the police will leave you alone.”

          • MisterA says:

            Nobody is suing those cops, the legal charges the union apparently won’t be covering anymore are presumably the criminal defense charges for assault.

            Although now that I have read the actual email from the union rep, it’s really unclear.

      • zzzzort says:

        Treating the union as different from the police is sort of weird. The union exists to be the collective voice of the police. The individual officers didn’t make independent decisions, but it’s not really the case that this is something imposed by an outside force. This is the cops going “we don’t like working protests because we’re too likely to be held to account for something, so we’re not going to”.

        • simon says:

          The union might in theory exist “to be the collective voice of the police” but that doesn’t mean that’s what it is in practice. It’s especially unlikely to properly represent particular workers that are in a different situation than most of the workers in the union.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            In my experience the union represents the senior members of the union at the expense of the junior members of the union, but with the social backing that you better not call the union bosses out.

            The same way colleges can do price discrimination but get treated as running a charity. It’s obvious bullshit but society has decided It’s Actually Good Instead Of Evil.

        • Purplehermann says:

          You’re assuming unions aren’t a seperate agent from the police.
          If this union is like other unions I know of, then you’re off

  16. Aftagley says:

    I know I’ve complained about this before, but what the hell is going on with the market? The S&P is only down ~5% from where it’s all-time high in February. YTD is only down around 1% and we’re up, in total, over 10% from this time last year. The DOW hasn’t done quite as well, but it still follows the same basic trend. This is on top of a pandemic with 100,000 dead, the economy still basically shut down and millions unemployed PLUS the most disruptive social unrest we’ve seen in at least 5 years, debatably in the last couple of decades and an oil market that has been having an absolute roller coaster.

    I’m not exposed right now, so I’m not at risk of losing my shirt, but this continues to absolutely shock me how disconnected to market is from the overall economy. My current guess is that this is just the biggest and longest-lasting dead cat bounce ever… but I freely admit I can’t predict anything with this market anymore.

    • Erusian says:

      The stock markets aren’t meant to match the general pattern of the economy, they’re meant to allocate capital. Why would you think that they’re supposed to match the general state of the economy?

      • Aftagley says:

        Because an asset needs to have some potential for increasing in value for it to be attractive to investment. No one allocates capital into a market that’s collapsing, you need growth and growth correlates strongly to the overall health of the economy.

        If you want me to rephrase my question as, “why are stocks continuing to increase in price absent any kind of discernible tailwind?” fine, but I don’t think that changes the question at all.

        • Erusian says:

          Yes, an asset needs to have a potential for increasing in value, not all assets. Plenty of people allocates capital into a collapsing market. Look at the former Soviet Union, for example. The aggregate of the market can be doing well with a major reallocation meaning specific stocks look very different. Further, you’re asking about aggregate measures, which removes it a step further.

          “why are stocks continuing to increase in price absent any kind of discernible tailwind?”

          Because investors are predicting those assets will increase in value. If you want to ask why they think that, that is a different question.

    • salvorhardin says:

      I had a good long conversation about this a few days ago with a friend whose investment instincts I trust. The points he made were:

      1. If there is actually a full recovery over the next couple of years, the total discounted present value of companies’ expected long-term income streams may not have fallen so much. This is especially true of multinational companies if other parts of the world recover faster and/or better than the US.

      2. There will be some collateral benefits to the post-pandemic economy from the lessons we’ve been forced to learn, e.g. now that we know who really can efficiently work from home, we can get to an efficient mix of from-home and in-office work a lot faster than we would have otherwise. There are some similarities here to the story in Alexander Field’s _A Great Leap Forward_.

      3. If you’re thinking about getting your assets out of the market, you have to understand what other asset class you think will have better returns and is thus more worthy of putting your money in it. In the absence of a clear answer, people might as well leave their money in stocks. Ultimately other asset classes may not be that much safer from any long-term effects on economic performance.

      4. This is especially true if inflation is on the horizon, which would lift nominal stock values and devalue cash.

      • Aftagley says:

        If there is actually a full recovery over the next couple of years, the total discounted present value of companies’ expected long-term income streams may not have fallen so much.

        Right, but isn’t that true in every economic downturn? Why would this be such an early and dramatic factor in this case?

        2. There will be some collateral benefits to the post-pandemic economy from the lessons we’ve been forced to learn,

        Interesting. I need to think about this more. This isn’t a major factor in anyone’s decision making process though, is it? Like, maybe we rebound into being slightly more efficient, but that’s no reason to say, invest in McDonalds (up 40% from the bottom of the crash)

        you’re thinking about getting your assets out of the market, you have to understand what other asset class you think will have better returns and is thus more worthy of putting your money in it.

        Hasn’t the mattress always been an option during a recession?

        4. This is especially true if inflation is on the horizon, which would lift nominal stock values and devalue cash.

        Interesting. What would cause this inflation? (Coughs nervously and looks at the fed’s current balance)

        • John Schilling says:

          Interesting. What would cause this inflation? (Coughs nervously and looks at the fed’s current balance)

          The Fed looking at its current balance, looking at Congress demanding another couple trillion dollars in stimulus funding, and dialing the money printers up to eleven at a time when we haven’t reestablished a corresponding level of production of stuff to buy with all that money.

          • Aftagley says:

            Yeah, that was an attempt at humor.

            On the bright side, I guess where about to find out if money market theory has legs!

        • DarkTigger says:

          Interesting. What would cause this inflation? (Coughs nervously and looks at the fed’s current balance)

          Sorry, if I sound like a broken record. The reason the stock market is up, is “Money Printer goes BRRRRR”.
          Think about why the stock market was falling in March. Because people (and institutional investors) expected companies to go bancrupt. The fed is literally printing money to keep companies afloat.
          Think about where else they put their money. Traditionally the asset for a recession that creates cashflow would be treasury bonds. The fed slashed the interest on those. (And some instituional investors are obliged to keep an balance between bonds and stocks)

          So: Companies won’t go bancrupt, at least right now the corona apocalypse seems to be averted, and investors have cash burning a hole in their pockets. Why shouldn’t the stockmarket rise?

          • Aftagley says:

            Sorry for the delayed post, but I’ve thought about this some more:

            If stock prices are currently being buoyed by the fed (which they clearly are) buying into the market implies you believe one of two things:

            1. That the transition from “market supported by fed spending” to “market driven by fundamentals” will be smooth and not have a precipitous drop-off.

            or

            2. That the fed will continue propping up our businesses forever.

            Is this the case?

          • DarkTigger says:

            Disclaimer: I’m an interessted layman at best.
            I think there are two other reasons:
            3. You follow a saving plan, and buy on the way down, and on the way up.
            4. You expect to be able to sell before the next crash comes.

            Number 3. has the advantage that there is good evidence that retail investors make the most money this way.
            Number 4. has the advantage, that if a trader is able to pull it off, they can make a lot of money buy buying S&P 500 by 75%ATH selling at ATH, and rebuying on 75%ATH.

      • baconbits9 says:

        1. If there is actually a full recovery over the next couple of years, the total discounted present value of companies’ expected long-term income streams may not have fallen so much. This is especially true of multinational companies if other parts of the world recover faster and/or better than the US.

        The underlying assumption here is that the price of the stock market was neutral prior to the pandemic/protests. Stocks were already on the more expensive side historically by trailing and forward looking earnings ratios, and then there is the basic concept that ‘things might turn out to be not so bad’ is an awful situation for what is essentially a best case scenario. The best case scenario in December was WAYYYYY better than that, and the more likely bad case scenarios were mild recessions at a fraction of the size of what we are experiencing.

        4. This is especially true if inflation is on the horizon, which would lift nominal stock values and devalue cash.

        This is roughly as false as a statement as you can make on the stock market. The US has a period of high inflation that we can look at and it was bad for stocks. The S&P 500 didn’t break its 1972 high until 1980 and it spend almost the entire decade of the 70s under the 1968 high, and the S&P didn’t maintain above the 72 and 68 highs until 1982. It was ~14 years of zero nominal returns in the highest inflation environment we have seen since WW2. Inflation (not hyper inflation) is generally bad for stock markets for a variety of reasons*.

        *You can make arguments for specific stocks, such as high inflation in the US weakens the dollar so companies with overseas earnings see a large spike when it is repatriated, but that doesn’t really work well for the broad stock market.

        • Jake R says:

          This is roughly as false as a statement as you can make on the stock market.

          How does this actually work? I appreciate the historical argument and believe it is true, but how does cash outperform anything in an environment defined by cash losing value relative to actual assets?

          • baconbits9 says:

            Stocks are (allegedly) valued on earnings which are revenues minus costs. If inflation causes costs to rise faster than revenues then the cash flow value of the stocks that you own decreases, and earnings can even go negative taking the value of the asset to zero (if they go negative long enough).

          • Christophe Biocca says:

            If inflation causes costs to rise faster than revenues then the cash flow value of the stocks that you own decreases

            Presuming that costs rise faster than revenues is begging the question. There’s no a-priori reason to expect input prices to rise faster than output prices, especially when averaged over the long term.

          • baconbits9 says:

            Presuming that costs rise faster than revenues is begging the question. There’s no a-priori reason to expect input prices to rise faster than output prices, especially when averaged over the long term.

            I didn’t state that there was an a-priori reason for input prices to rise faster, I was ansering the question at hand as to how could the cash value of an asset drop in an environment that people generally associate with rising values of assets compared to cash.

            However there are a-priori reasons to expect higher inflation rates to lead to asset prices. First is risk adjusted returns, which is the standard way of measuring returns. High inflation is unstable so any returns you get under said inflation cannot be as confidently projected forward which allows for situations where even higher earnings can have a flat or lower underlying asset value. As a sub point to this a high inflation rate under a monetary regime that is aiming for lower inflation means a failed regime and that makes policy responses less predictable, and the outcomes of policy responses less predictable, increasing uncertainty to the downside which generally leads to lower asset prices.

            Secondly if you take the definition of inflation to be what most people mean, that is higher measured prices, then there is an assumption of lower earnings. The key here is an increase in inflation, not simply ‘high’ inflation. If prices are stable at one point the system is in equilibrium with changes in demand being met efficiently with changes in supply. If prices are increasing that means there was no (or highly limited) monopoly power for rising prices in the prior period*, if input prices are increasing more slowly than output prices a company should be expanding output to capture this extra profit, restricting price increases (overtime) to output increases. That leaves the only options of

            1. A dislocation that prevents an increase in output that doesn’t also lead to an increase in input prices (ie a highly specific situation).
            2. Input prices that are rising at an equal rate to output prices, which is highly unlikely at disequilibrium and requires special circumstances.
            3. Input prices rising faster than output prices.

            *definitional to monopoly power and demand. If people are willing to pay higher prices plus firms having monopoly power then firms should already have been increasing prices.

    • Nancy Lebovitz says:

      I’ve heard that money is flowing into the stack market because everything else looks worse. Is this true? Plausible?

      While I’m cheering everyone up, I saw a mention that it’s even harder to be a successful day drader than it used to be (and it was always hard) because the proportion of the market which is hedge funds with lots of quants is larger than it used to be. (I think this was from Coffeezilla– he was saying to put your money into index funds and spend your time on something else.)

      Anyway, from what I’ve read (a book which I think was called The Quants), quants were people who thought they could beat the market without understanding how weird the market can get. Have quants gotten more sensible?

      • Aftagley says:

        money is flowing into the stack

        Uh oh, does that that the money that comes in last will be the first out?

        because the proportion of the market which is hedge funds with lots of quants is larger than it used to be.

        This is one of my pet theories – we’re blind to the systemic risks in a bunch of the market because it’s been so well packaged.

    • Ketil says:

      Yes, this puzzles me. In this oil-dominated economy, oil companies are almost back to previous stock prices, but the price of brent is $40, down from over $60. Surely, when you deduct production cost, this will eat seriously into profits? Even oil service and exploration seems to be back up – and the producers have cut this all they can.

      I wonder: is it possible that although economic activity has slowed down, governments have alleviated the effects by pouring money into the economy and lowering interest rates – so there’s as much or more money flowing around as before, but spending/consumption is down by a lot, so what else to do but increase saving? And the increased saving is what keeps share prices up.

      I don’t even pretend to understand macro economics – but if this is even remotely correct, what will be the consequences – and when? If we can just flush money out into the economy and see no adverse consequences from drastically lower productivity and consumption, I’m going to start believing in MMT after all.

      • Uribe says:

        “Oil companies are almost back to previous stock prices.”

        This is technically true if you are using early March as “previous stock prices” but oil stocks collapsed this year, with Exxon leading the plunge in January and other majors falling off the cliff in February. Most oil Co stock prices are half what they were a year ago, and they are in the process of massive layoffs. Active rig count has collapsed as well.

        • Ketil says:

          Interesting. I’m looking at local (Norwegian) oil companies, dominated by Equinor down -10% since the start of the year. The others seem to be down around 30% still, but now rapidly rising. This still seems a little hopeful to me, but maybe the economy will right itself, and oil demand bring the price back up.

    • broblawsky says:

      Money printer goes *brrr*.

      • rumham says:

        Ha! I said this to my boss today in response to the same question.

        • broblawsky says:

          Look, I’m not saying that Trump should kick Pence off the ticket and put Jay Powell in instead, but I’m not not saying that.

    • keaswaran says:

      What do you mean when you say “the economy still basically shut down”? Perhaps it looks different where you are, but here in Texas, traffic is about what it had been before the pandemic began, and this is presumably with lots of office workers still working from home. Lots of service industries are down, but those are mostly small businesses that aren’t in the stock market at all. Household income is up, because some people still have their same job and pay, some have their same job plus hazard pay, and the ones that are unemployed are on average making more from unemployment than they were from their job. (Which isn’t to say that no individual has less household income – just that most households are up.) Thus, the big national companies you can shop online at are likely making a lot more than they were before, having absorbed local service spending plus increased household income.

      Also, I haven’t looked at the details of the stock market, but how much of the S&P rally is just a few tech companies going way up, making up for a moderate decline in everything else? In any case, the market probably predicts that after a vaccine is available, most industries will recover quite well (with a radical reshuffling of which individual companies are on top).

    • baconbits9 says:

      what the hell is going on with the market?

      The Federal Reserve has explicitly told the markets that it doesn’t want them to value things fairly (correctly whatever term you want to use). The markets are currently arational, and prices don’t matter because they cannot be valued in any meaningful way.

      • Nancy Lebovitz says:

        “The Federal Reserve has explicitly told the markets that it doesn’t want them to value things fairly (correctly whatever term you want to use).”

        Could you be more explicit about this?

        • baconbits9 says:

          When the Fed announced that it would be buying investment grade rated debt (in March) they grandfathered in any company that had been downgraded to junk status* within the prior two (I think it was that stretch of time) weeks. That was the Fed saying that they were going to act as if Covid hadn’t happened as far as assets that it would purchase.

          *The Fed is supposedly not allowed to purchase junk level bonds and had to set up a shell company to get around this, it was a significant action.

    • tg56 says:

      One other thing I didn’t see mentioned above but have heard people considering (no idea how much of an effect this would be). The stock market isn’t a reflection of the totality of US business, only the publicly traded portion. This is highly biased to larger and more established companies. It could be that the stock market is anticipating increased consolidation / reduced competition that will favor large publicly owned companies over smaller private companies. E.g. even if the pie is shrinking the piece represented by the stock market could be increasing.

      I could see the cornavirus shutdowns for ex. being harder on smaller independent restaurants then chain ones. And larger and public entities better able to garner government support or navigate financing options.

  17. Edward Scizorhands says:

    Warning: weird idea

    Has there been any push to have the protestors become cops?

    This pattern-matches to a common asshole argument, which is “how dare you criticize job X when you’ve never done it, you wouldn’t last 5 minutes before breaking down in tears if you became an X.” So I want to be careful to say I’m not making that argument.

    But I’d wager that there are many protestors (as a relative number a small minority, but still many) who are all right with making personal sacrifices to improve the police force. They might think that sacrifice would be “I pay more taxes” or “I have less police at my beck-and-call.” But what about the sacrifice being “I spend the next 20 years being a cop”?

    If we think cops are assholes or racist, we could do human-wave tactics on the job force, and just create lots of good cops.

    • Well... says:

      This is basically “be the good you want to see in the world”. I endorse it.

    • Guy in TN says:

      I think the answer to this idea depends on to what degree you are protesting because you think the police, on an individual-person level, are making bad on-the-ground judgement calls (e.g. such as deciding to shoot a protestor in the face) vs. protesting because you think the police are doing bad things on an institutional level (e.g. being instructed by their supervisors to shoot protestors, with their job on the line for non-compliance).

      My position, if it wasn’t already obvious, is that the police violence problem is an inherently institutional one, not one based off of individual officer’s poor choices. So the question of “why not join the police, in order to reform the police” is sort of like asking “why not join the mob, in order to reform the mob”, or “why not join ISIS, in order to reform ISIS”?

      The problem is that by joining an organization and following their orders, you inherently make that organization more powerful.

      • gbdub says:

        We’re okay with eliminating ISIS or the mob rather than reforming them. But, a few extremists aside, everyone agrees we need police in some form. So reform is the only option.

        The problems of police are institutional, but the institutions are made of people. And many of the problems are due to the police unions – as close to a democratic institution of individual police as you’re going to get.

        So lots of “good people” who won’t demand a lack of accountability becoming cops would be a good thing. If all the good people think the cops are evil, only evil people will become cops.

        • Guy in TN says:

          We’re okay with eliminating ISIS or the mob rather than reforming them. But, a few extremists aside, everyone agrees we need police in some form. So reform is the only option.

          It is important to distinguish “policing” (the social concept) from Police Departments in the United States (the specific organizations, with specific laws that apply to them, and specific cultures). While basically everyone agrees we need to social concept of policing, it is not clear that we need the Police Department to be the ones doing it, and this view is not restricted to extremists (see: the current proposed abolition in Minneapolis).

      • Spookykou says:

        I am a bit confused by your second example, I understood ‘institutional’ to basically be talking about the incentive structures, but your example sounds like an individual officer (I assume police supervisors are largely still also police officers?) making a poor choice.

        Do you think a 100% staff replacement with no other change produces no results? What about just replacing every officer who has a direct report?

        • Guy in TN says:

          @Spookykou

          I am a bit confused by your second example, I understood ‘institutional’ to basically be talking about the incentive structures, but your example sounds like an individual officer (I assume police supervisors are largely still also police officers?) making a poor choice.

          By institutional I mean dictated by the laws/high levels of power. For example, the no-knock raids in enforcement of the War on Drugs. How much discretion does an individual officer have in this? You can’t just say, “no, I don’t want to do no-knock raids, they are too dangerous”, at least not until you get into a very high level of power. And even if you manage to reach a high rank, you are not going to change the fact that you will be forced to enforce the War on Drugs in some sort of manner

          I think much of the police violence we see today, e.g. rubber bullets and pepper spray, is the same way. Officers following orders, because their job is on the lines of they don’t.

          Do you think a 100% staff replacement with no other change produces no results? What about just replacing every officer who has a direct report?

          I think these would be great changes! My concern is over adding more power of the police, not about replacing bad officers with good ones.

          • Jake R says:

            You can’t just say, “no, I don’t want to do no-knock raids, they are too dangerous”, at least not until you get into a very high level of power.

            I’m not sure how relevant this is to the larger point, but I believe most no-knock raids are performed by drug task force or SWAT units that individual officers join on a volunteer basis. Radley Balko used to write about this a lot. It turns out kicking down doors in the middle of the night is a lot of fun. I think there were even cases of officers training on their own time or buying equipment out of pocket in order to participate. This is all based on hazy memory though from before Balko’s column went paywalled.

    • WashedOut says:

      One of the good side-effects of this proposal is that if it were implemented such that it became common knowledge that many ex-protesters were now working as cops, slogans like All Cops Are Bastards have the floor pulled out from under them, along with a general reduction in broad-brush hatred directed at police officers as people.

    • John Schilling says:

      Has there been any push to have the protestors become cops?

      What’s stopping the protesters from becoming cops right now? It’s not a thing that needs to be coordinated or organized even to the limited extent that the protests themselves are such. If you want to become a cop, and you are qualified, you just apply. Are they?

    • TK-421 says:

      Not that weird of an idea – I’m generally supportive of the protests, although I can understand the stress the police must be under, and I decided that the best way I could contribute is by becoming the police. I’ve applied to two major metro departments so far (the Los Angeles police and the New Orleans police) and I’m actively looking for others. Departments often have infrequent hiring windows (which can contribute to a concentrated police culture) but if your city is hiring I’d probably be open to moving there. Who knows, I could be shooting a beanbag at you in a protest next year.

      Joking aside, I’m very serious about this. I’ve been a software engineer for a number of years so my background and age are atypical for a police recruit but I view that as a potential positive. Given my background I could join the FBI (which is often recruiting software engineers) or some other federal department but I want to really understand and serve in a regular department.

      To Guy in TN’s point – this might be a mistake. I think the difference is that I believe the police are a necessary social institution while the mafia or ISIS are not, although organizations like them are inevitable where state capacity fails. Additionally, the sense that I’ve gotten from George Floyd and other incidents of police violence are that a lot of the problems really are individual cops either breaking the rules or pushing them past the point being reasonable. Using a neck restraint doesn’t seem like it was necessary in George Floyd’s case but that doesn’t mean that it might not be for a person who actually is resisting and trying to harm others. The bad cops are the ones who escalate to the maximum allowed at the slightest provocation. There’s obviously a place for institutional reform in all this but I do believe that when we talk about the actions of police we’re generally talking about the actions of individuals. If we view police work as a low status form of work that’s the result we’re going to get.

      I’ll keep everyone informed of my experiences if I do get hired on somewhere.

      • Guy in TN says:

        To Guy in TN’s point – this might be a mistake. I think the difference is that I believe the police are a necessary social institution while the mafia or ISIS are not, although organizations like them are inevitable where state capacity fails.

        Even if “policing” (the social concept) is a necessary institution, is doesn’t necessarily follow that this police organization (the thing we have in the United States) is.

        For example, in 1930’s Germany one could argue that “well, the military is a necessary organization for a nation to have, right? So if you are opposed to the German military’s recent actions, why don’t you you join them and change it from the inside?”

        The logic isn’t wrong per se (one could theoretically be a successful saboteur), but you have to make a trade-off between the amount of good you are doing via internal changes vs. the amount of bad you are doing by giving power to the organization.

        • TK-421 says:

          That’s absolutely true but I do believe that the general structure we have for policing isn’t perfect but it’s good enough, and certainly closer to perfect than it is to the 1930’s German military. I do think the implementation and culture are the major issues. Those are just as much bottom as top driven.

          If we could change police culture strictly by institutional reform we’d already be done. We’ve been trying that since the 1970’s and we’ve made a great deal of progress but I think we’ve gotten about as far as we can with top down solutions. That’s part of the reason this is such a persistent problem.

          I admit I could be wrong. Joining the police is part of finding out.

      • gbdub says:

        Good luck, keep us updated!

    • Aftagley says:

      How would this even work? I here this argument all the time and it never makes sense.

      Let’s say I hate Walmart – I think they’re exploiting underpaid labor and destroying local economies and I’m willing to devote my life to making this organization change its ways for the better. The proper path here wouldn’t be to go take a cashier job at the local Walmart and “be the change I want to see” because I’d have no more ability to make the system better from the inside – less even, because now instead of devoting myself to changing Walmart I have all this ancillary cashier-related work to do.

      • TK-421 says:

        Police, even low level police, have drastically more discretion than a cashier. If you believe that we’re doing a pretty good job as a society of dismantling overt, intentional oppression (Jim Crow laws, redlining, etc.) then a lot of the actual work of oppression is happening at a low level.

        Flooding police departments with people committed to not using that discretion to, say, pin someone by the neck and not bother to check if they were dying seems one way to prevent that from happening.

    • zzzzort says:

      I’ve seen proposals for more minority and female officers (with better data saying that having more female officers reduces violence). This is at least consistent with the idea changing personnel could change outcomes.

    • unreliabletags says:

      The consensus on my Facebook feed is that it’s inherently evil to maintain order in an unjust society, to uphold laws that protect the rich from the poor, etc. You’re taking a mistake-theory view of policing which may be less popular among protestors than you expect.

    • Konstantin says:

      The police hiring process in many cites is broken beyond repair. Here is how it normally goes:
      1. Attend a recruiting event or contact a police recruiter.
      2. Fill out an insanely long application detailing everything you have done during the last 10 years. Residences, jobs, known associates, education, and especially any “contacts” with law enforcement, of any nature whatsoever.
      3. Wait several months. During this time you may be required to take a physical fitness test, a written knowledge test, any number of psychological profiles, attend one or more interviews, and submit to a medical examination. The standards used here are probably outdated, arbitrary, or pseudoscientific. If you are currently employed, you will probably need to take time off multiple times.
      4. Have your application reviewed by a “background detective.” This is a veteran police officer placed on desk duty for some reason, who will review and verify your application, and can reject it for no reason at all with no appeal. This is low status, low priority work, so it is often assigned to the worst officers on the force and can take several more months.
      5. Submit to a scientifically discredited polygraph examination, where you may be asked humiliating questions and again may be arbitrarily removed from the process, even after passing all the previous steps.
      6. Get assigned a slot at the next academy class, assuming it hasn’t been cancelled due to budget cuts and you still want the job, considering it has been more than half a year since you applied.

      • Spookykou says:

        I struggle to imagine a version of the American government where getting a job working for it would not involve jumping through an obscene number of hoops.

      • Dack says:

        You left out the part where they make you pay (non-refundable) $ just to apply, and then decide not to hire anyone in the end.

      • digbyforever says:

        If it makes you feel any better, FBI hiring isn’t substantially more efficient, and something like the State Department is even worse.

        I suspect this is a combination of several factors: genuine disinterest in the “admin crap” part of the job by line officers, perhaps some subtle “feature not bug” where it’s a grueling process to weed out those who aren’t committed (it shouldn’t be as easy as getting a gas station attendant job), some behind-the-scenes bureaucratic/regulatory requirements, and a sense that presumably, they’re not failing totally to recruit enough cops, so it works just well enough.

    • Clutzy says:

      I actually had this discussion with my parents today. One major problem is that almost no normal person can stomach being a police officer in the modern era. I could stomach responding to domestic violence, shootings, rape, burglary, etc as an officer. But that is not what they do most of the time. They mostly have to write chickenshit tickets for traffic violations. This is a soul sucking activity that only the most power hungry in society would agree to engage in.

      • Garrett says:

        > write chickenshit tickets for traffic violations

        Can we at least agree that people who fail to signal before changing lanes should be cited? Sure, there are a lot of stupid laws on the books. And for stupid stuff like “3 mph over the limit”, “discretion” can be used, especially as long as you manage to justify your time. And things like failed-to-signal can be objectively caught on car video without having to deal with annoying questions like “when did you last calibrate your radar gun”?

  18. Belisaurus Rex says:

    Diplomacy:
    It ended in a 3-way tie between Rome (yours truly), Russia, and England. I guess this is as good a time as any to do a write up. I began with a co-consul, Vermillion, but I think that this really does not work well with teams. You need to send out too many messages, and need to keep long term plans. Messaging a teammate, especially in the early turns which have a blistering pace, is too much.

    It began simply enough. England, Germany, and Rome negotiated in the week before the first turn to invade France. It was easy to do with no opposition from the French, because they were AWOL at the time. Once they joined the game and started messaging players, the attack plans faded away but Italy didn’t get the memo. So the first turn is an aggressive move into the Piedmont that probably soured our relations with France for the rest of the game. Such is life.

    We immediately gave up on an invasion of France and moved to defend against Austria. They had been more active diplomatically, and were on good terms with all of their neighbors: Turkey, Russia, and Germany. In Spring 1902 they broke the peace by brutally backstabbing Turkey, and moving into the Tyrolia with German support. We were diplomatically isolated and knew that we had to get Germany’s support. Unfortunately, this was not forthcoming. We settled in for a stalemate at Venice.

    Fall 1902, Austria makes an error. They support Russia’s defense of Moscow, and the same turn they get backstabbed by Russia. They then disband their army deep in Russian territory so that they can defend the homeland. Huge error, and now Germany must retreat. Angry at the Austrians, they finally take my side. With the Russians marching south, the Turks enraged, and the Germans disappointed, there are now plenty of allies for Rome.

    Over the next few years, the Austrian position collapses. I promise them that I will keep them alive, and will support them into Moscow, and all they have to do is let me into Trieste. The Austrians are unwilling to be a vassal of Rome, and by the time they agree, it is too late for them.

    Spring and Fall 1904. A critical year. I have promised the Russians support into both Vienna and Budapest. The French have told me that they will build a fleet in Marseilles and send it north to fight the British. The French have spent the last few turns static, and are not increasing in SCs. I’m worried that they might get antsy and offer to support them into Munich. The French are appalled, and threaten to cut off our alliance right there. “Germany’s integrity is non-negotiable!” But then they make moves to “accidentally” support English ships into German SCs. I smell a rat, but don’t make any hostile moves. I can still get my fleets back to defend Italy, but it will require me to slow down in the Balkans. I stall in the Fall and do not let the Russians into Austria. My fears were proven right–France moves into Tuscany. But, unfortunately for them, at the same time they are backstabbed by England. They quickly apologize to Rome, but the damage is done. The English begin to tear France to pieces.

    The Russians, encouraged by my promised support into Austria that did not materialize, moved into the Black Sea, an act of Aggression against Turkey. My biggest fear in the East was that after Austria was dismantled, that Russia and Turkey would ally against me. I was planning a fait accompli by striking Turkey this turn, but the French fleet discouraged me from making this bold lunge. But at the end of 1904, I had options.

    In 1905, I promised Turkey support, and then backstabbed them. In the space of a few years, I managed to obtain all of the gains from the war, while the Turks even took territory from the Russians. To accomplish this daring task, when the Turkish forces equaled mine in size, I used a combination of deception and misdirection. I continuously reassured the Turks that Russia was the real threat, and offered to give some of my SCs to Turkey. I actually followed up on this promise, but only to encircle and destroy the Turkish forces–it was easier to fight the Turks when their moves were so predictable. By Spring 1908, the Turks were gone–and my ill-fated invasion of Russia would begin. At this point, the Russians were weak. So confident were they in a swift victory in Turkey that they opened up another front against England in Spring 1906. They weren’t exactly wrong, since Turkey fell swiftly, but this was still the second of their major errors, the first being attacking Turkey in the first place.

    /end of part one.

    • Belisaurus Rex says:

      Why did I invade Russia? I could have continued in alliance with them, and probably could have beaten them to London. But I looked at the board, and saw my long line of armies on the Danube, with 3 Russian SCs in easy reach. And I was not even close to worried about England, since they had too many fleets. They could not project power inland, and could not send their fleets too far away from France, who at this point could still be relied on to tie down the bulk of English forces. As one additional point, my co-consul, Vermillion, suggested that I never trust Russia. It may have been this advice that spurred me to make this lunge.

      Russia sent me an ultimatum, saying that if I attacked them, they would throw the game to England. This reassured me–they saw it too. I ran the simulations, and to have a chance of success they would have to throw the game that turn. No one has the nerves of steel necessary to throw the game BEFORE they know that the other player is defecting. Confident, I put in the orders for my invasion. Alea iacta est!

      And it goes perfectly. In 1908 I seize 3 Russian SCs. I can almost taste it. Fall 1909 I am at a crossroads. With French support, I can take Munich, flanking the Russians, opening up Germany, and threatening the English port cities on the Channel coast. France could also, at no cost to themselves, attack Spain, defeating the English fleets and giving me mastery of the Mediterranean. I ask France, and they confirm that they will make these moves. I think that it’s game over. The next year adjudicates and…France did not put in the orders.

      I crash. My lowest moment. Napoleon in Moscow. Two SCs are within my reach–one fewer than I need to win. I lunge for them anyway, but it’s not going to be enough to end the war early. Due to the disappointment of the last turn, I make mistakes. I go for SCs for short term gain, but not for long-term strategic position. My impatience probably adds another few years to the war. I make more mistakes. My fleet sits in Marseilles when it should be attacking. It looks more and more like a 50/50 decision will decide the game. I get an offer for 3-way draw, and take the easy way out. (I was also unsure to what degree Russia and England would cooperate. I was sort of hoping on England being difficult, and being able to take advantage of their lack of cohesion to obtain the majority of Russia’s SCs. There was no such lack of cohesion.)

      I was never in it to destroy any enemies. I just wanted to restore the Roman Empire. Though once lost to history, the Roman Empire has been reborn! When I began, Rome’s borders in the West were the walls of the city itself, and in the East, our neighbor the Adriatic. Through crafty diplomacy and shrewd maneuvering, we restored the bulk of Rome’s territory, most importantly Constantinople. Europe suffered through centuries of darkness, culminating in the 11 bloody years of the Reconquest, but now we enter a new golden age. In ending the war diplomatically instead of waging endless conflict on the barbarians at our frontiers, we have proven ourselves worthy successors to the mantle of civilization. Belisaurus Rex rules the new Imperium Romanorum, and with the legions of Rome will ensure that a new Pax Romanorum will settle over Europe.

      /fin

      • The_Archduke says:

        Germany here. I watched to the end, though I was tied for first eliminated with Austria. In the west the situation was much as Italy stated. Though he didn’t directly participate in the negotiations between England and myself. We both agreed to go after France, who turtled early. I took Denmark and Holland the first year. England took The Channel and Belgium. Russia had moved their army Moscow north to St Petersburg, and I assumed they were going to bounce England out of Norway. They did not, so England and I were at 5 SCs each after the first year. We both said to each other we were going after France, and then we both attacked each other instead, assuming, that we could take France later (correct assumption in England’s case).

        Since I was going to be fighting England, and Russia was allied with England, I struck first against Russia, bouncing them out of Sweden in year one and moving to Silesia. In year, two, I sent another army east, hoping for a build from Warsaw to reinforce my north against English aggression. That was when Austria supported Warsaw and was stabbed by Russia on the same turn. I could have taken Warsaw and built a second fleet so long as Austria merely stayed neutral. The game in the west would have been completely different but for that Russian stab. Russia survived to the draw, so I guess it worked out for him.

        • Seth B says:

          England here:

          I had a great experience with this, my first real game of diplomacy.

          I had read several opening guides, and decided to take the bold strategy of opening to the Channel. Germany seemed happy to split the low countries with me, and an attack on France seemed wise if everyone was going to gang up on them too. When France finally showed up, they agreed to let me into Bel as well.

          Russia I immediately agreed to split Scandinavia with peacefully. This alliance turned out to be the most important of the game, although interrupted by a major Russian backstab later.

          In Spring 1902, Germany and France worked together to kick me out of Bel. So I saw myself now in conflict with both. Given my position in Scandanavia, a joint attack with Russia on Germany made the most sense. Meanwhile, my fleet in the English channel protected my rear and kept France cautious.

          Russia and I proceeded to destroy Germany. I think I dealt with Russia very fairly — despite beating Russia to two SCs (Sweden and Berlin) I let Russia keep these.

          On my other flank, I moved a fleet to the mid atlantic to further constipate France. To my surprise, France then invited me to collaborate with them (around Spring/Fall 1904) in an attack on Italy in the Mediteranian. This was fantastic news for me, because I was worried about further expansion: I had a navy heavy mix, meaning that there was no real reason to fight Russia (I would only contest Ber, Swe, and Stp) and no opportunities on the interior of the continent. While the board might not have shown it, I had to attack France. This invitation to cooperate with them in a backstab on Italy was the perfect time to backstab them. I did, immediately grabbing an undefended Portugal. My naval superiority making me immune to French reprisal.

          This had the unfortunate effect of taking pressure off of Italy while they finished off Turkey. Had I let France finish their attack on Italy, perhaps Italy would not have made it to the draw.

          In Winter 1905, the game reached its antipenultimate stage. I sat at 10 SCs, Russia at 9, and Italy at 6. France and Turkey are being digested by the big 3. With some good tactical decision making on my part, I’m able to make good progress on finishing off France. But Russia takes this opportunity to stab me in Scandanavia and north Germany. I thought I was immune to this: Russia and I fundamentally were well situated to be allies. My naval advantage meant that Russia was poorly suited to contesting these regions. Despite throwing the full force of his armies at me, Russia was only able to grab Nwy, and I was able to take this back from Russia before long. Perhaps Russia felt compelled to attack me because of the following logic — if Russia allied with me, I would win for sure. If so, they did successfully make it to the draw, so I salute them.

          In Spring 1908, I have 10 SCs, Italy has 11, and Russia 9. Russia’s alliance with Italy to destroy Turkey has gained it nothing. Russia’s backstab of me has gained them nothing. Only Italy has grown, and they have grown to 1st place.

          Russia, in my opinion, at this stage makes a mistake in not seeing what comes next. Russia completely retreats all armies from its itallian border to throw at me. Italy uses this opportunity to backstab Russia.

          Russia starts to completely collapse. They immediately reached out to me, and agreed to 100% ally against Italy, even inviting me to take SCs from them if necessary. It was a bit touch and go, but ultimately the two of us were able to create a stalemate line.

          Had a fun time!

          • Belisaurus Rex says:

            Regarding France’s attack on me: I saw it coming, and had enough fleets (or future builds) to protect all my SCs. If France had attacked, I would’ve still been on good terms with Turkey and Russia and even had a plan to ferry Turkish armies into Spain. Maybe it wouldn’t have worked, but there was a plan.

            My biggest question to you is why did you ever build so many fleets? They ended up sitting idle for most of the endgame, and were a huge factor in my decision to attack Russia.

          • Seth B says:

            I leaned hard into fleets for two reasons:

            1) I hoped that by committing to a naval heavy strategy, I would communicate to Russia that they were not my target.

            2) Although not as valuable in the endgame as armies, the fleet advantage is what allowed me to steamroll Germany and then constipate France. So I leaned into what was working for me.

      • metacelsus says:

        Turkey here. The Turks shall never forget your brutal betrayal!

        (I was far too naive in trusting you)

        • Belisaurus Rex says:

          I was just too worried about a Turkey/Russia alliance, and would have to trust you way too much to ferry your armies over to France. Your fleets and armies sitting idle really scared me too. I thought you would steal Greece with them.

      • rlms says:

        Russia here (also the organiser)! Our ultimatum was genuine (possibly we should have said “throw the game to England or cause a stalemate” instead but that’s not as punchy), and I think my reasoning was sound. In the end we did successfully stop you winning, although with perfect tactical play possibly things would have been different (I think there were some mistakes on all sides). And I was considering making slightly more defensive moves that turn, like leaving Ukr/Sev in place to defend Rum, probably I should have explicitly mentioned that. Equally I don’t think it was necessarily a mistake to ignore it, it might have been your best shot of winning.

        My reasoning was that my only possibility of winning was if I was able to trust Italy and fully dedicate my forces to fighting England. If I tried to fight on both fronts I would just get slowly crushed and turning on Italy didn’t seem promising either.

        For our stab of England, the idea was that either us or Italy would end up in Munich and support a campaign in to Kie/Den. I didn’t love the attack (although I didn’t feel as bad as about stabbing Austria, who were a very nice ally, but tactical necessity demanded it) but we felt that sooner or later England would expand into Sweden and it was better to strike first (the move into Den the same turn seems to support this).

        Regarding why I didn’t ally with Turkey after defeating Austria: they demanded that they be allowed to occupy the Black Sea which isn’t really workable in an alliance since it leaves you defenceless against a stab. This was annoying as it would definitely have been the tactically best option from our perspective, as was the way that their moves when we are attacking them with Italy led to Italy taking all their territory rather than a split with us as originally planned.

        • Belisaurus Rex says:

          Thanks for organizing it!

          I was surprised by the lack of real trust this game, and looking over the previous SSC games, there seems to have been grand alliances and people leaving themselves exposed and NOT instantly getting stabbed. Any idea why this game was different?

          Edit: The reason that Turkey had near optimal moves against you was because I was allowing them to take your SCs and promising not to interfere.

        • Doctor Mist says:

          It has been literally 40 years since I played Diplomacy, and I never played with seven people, and we might actually have never finished a game, but I don’t remember anything about stalemates and I don’t see anything in the rules about stalemates.

          What is a stalemate that it could be a credible threat? Did you folks have a prearranged deadline, either in the real world or in Diplomacy years?

          • John Schilling says:

            The standard Diplomacy map has several known “stalemate lines”, behind which the leading power can be contained to <18 supply centers by a defending power or alliance whose position is a provably impregnable static defense so long as they have the right units in the right place at the front and always issue them the right orders.

            Once a stalemate line is recognized as having been established, or clearly soon will be, the game is usually considered a draw for all surviving players. This can be a two-way draw with each side defending a stalemate line with 17 supply centers on its side; more common (as in this game) is a leader with 14-17 supply centers and a defending alliance with the remainder of the board defended behind a stalemate line. Since the leader cannot win unless one of the defenders backstabs the others or otherwise changes their orders to something suboptimal, and since either of those options inevitably results in the leader winning and the suboptimal backstabber losing, the game becomes an unending session of "Can I convince you to commit suicide this turn?" "No." " Pleeeease?".

          • cassander says:

            @john Schilling

            one of the reasons I like this diplomacy variant.

          • Doctor Mist says:

            John,

            Very clear, thanks.

      • Algon33 says:

        France here. I genuinely did err in supporting English ships into a German SC. Call it a beginner’s mistake. As to why we did nothing for a few turns, for some reason I couldn’t submit orders. That was quite frustrating, as I wanted to help Germany regain its SCs, take Holland and strengthen Austria. After all, I wanted to betray everyone at least twice, and that’s hard to do if they’re not their.

        Sadly, I made terrible decisions later on. Namely: trying to invade you at the wrong time, trusting England for a turn, try to attack England when you requested my aid in breaking Munich.

        If I play again, I want to achieve my failed ambition. Once done, I think I’ll switch to a honour based playstyle.

        My main takeaways are that I must pay more attention to minor details my allies give away, never assume any gambit is attractive without thoroughly simulating it and never underestimate my enemies.

        Thanks for the game guys, especially Russia.

    • Belisaurus Rex says:

      I want to add my theory of Diplomacy as well. I made alliances with everyone at every point of the game, and against everyone else as well. Rome and Austria versus Russia; Rome and Turkey versus Russia; Rome and Russia versus Turkey; etc. Keep your options open.

      I never trusted anyone. Maybe I contributed to the lack of stable alliances, but I thought that this was a good move. Trust others to act in their best interest. Maybe this advice needs to shift late-game.

      Armies have inertia. Once you start moving, it is hard to stop, for two reasons. First, since armies disband if you lose SCs, any successful attack turns into a rout. It is basically impossible for a defender to make a fighting retreat (although maybe Russia proved me wrong on this).

      SC count is misleading. Army positioning is far more important than raw SC number, and you can use this overestimation/underestimation to your diplomatic advantage.

    • John Schilling says:

      I see no mention of an Austro-Turkish alliance. I thought there was a rule that when SSC played Diplomacy, there had to be an enduring alliance between the Habsburgs and the Ottoman Sultan.

    • John Schilling says:

      OK, having gone through the recorded game in detail, congratulations to all involved. And some specifics:

      First, I’m not sure the final position is truly a stalemate. It doesn’t match any of the known stalemate lines, and the Italian army in Burgundy is a potential spoiler. It’s going to be difficult for the Northern Allies to actually destroy that army, and it’s got lots of room to retreat in the North, so it can potentially disrupt the perfect defense the Northern Allies have to present in e.g. Spain and Warsaw. I haven’t plotted out all the possibilities, but it might still have been possible for Italy to win the game.

      Second, generally good play by Italy, but I think I know where you lost your shot at victory. Your diplomatic play worked out quite well; in particular your own stabs were decisive and your enemies’ stabs were ineffectual. You had useful allies for all of your attacks in the early and mid-game and your enemies never put together a strong alliance against you until thee endgame. So good work on that front.

      But, Spring ’08, A Ser S Bul – Rum leapt out to me as backwards. Yes, it gets you Rumania and an SC, but so would the reverse (A Bul S Ser – Rum). As is, you had Rumania and an army in Serbia that spent the next two years puttering around in the rear doing nothing decisive. If your “rear” army had been in Bulgaria, your Fall ’09 attack on Sevastapol could have been with an Army convoyed from Bulgaria rather than a fleet. And an Army in Sevastapol can support an attack into Ukraine that I think gets you either Moscow or Warsaw before English reinforcements arrive in the East. 18 SC for the win instead of 17 for the draw.
      You mention being aware that you were grabbing for SCs without thinking far enough ahead; I think this may have been the worst of that.

      England, generally well played. Your stab at Germany was a bit early for my taste, but if you sensed that Germany was planning to stab you anyway, well done. The Anglo-Russian alliance to dismantle Germany was superbly executed on your part, and as you note you were never seriously vulnerable to a Russian stab. The only mistake I see is being a bit too fleet-heavy, which made it difficult for you to finish off France when you needed to and gave Italy a year or two to build an unassailable position. Yes, it’s diplomatically useful to signal “I am not a threat because I do not have an army capable of winning this war”, but if it means that you actually don’t have an army capable of winning the war…

      France was almost doomed by being on the wrong end of an Anglo-German alliance (which fortunately broke early), and definitely doomed by whatever glitch caused her to lose a turn of orders. A couple of other early missteps, though. The army build in Brest should have been a fleet – whether you’re fighting England and Germany both or fighting England with Germany, you absolutely need to keep bouncing the Royal Navy out of the channel (or at least the MAO). And, in 1902, there was a nice opening for your southern forces to move against Italy while Italy was busy with Austria in the east. Instead the fleet on the south coast of Spain went for the easy SC in Portugal – but then was tied down defending that isolated SC, so no net gain. Your actual attack against Italy came a year too late.

      On the other hand, a solid comeback from that turn of missed orders. With three surrounded and isolated armies you held on for five years and even built back up to four armies and marched into Berlin for a brief triumph. Nice.

      Russia, solid campaign in the North, allied with England against Germany until the stab. Which, yes, weak but you did have to try. And nice job responding to Turkish aggression in the south, then making a vulnerable Turkey back your play against Austria. Getting Italy on board for that, and then both of you turning against Turkey at the perfect moment, also good work. Failing to support Bulgaria against an inevitable Turkish attack in Spring ’06 was a costly error, though, and while you recovered it meant Italy getting most of the gains in the southern war. Threatening to “throw the game to England” if Italy then attacked you was the right diplomatic move then, and of course it worked in getting you a seat at the table for the draw.

      Turkey, yeah, you never should have trusted Italy. You can’t win without taking out Italy sooner or later, and they know it. But being on the wrong end of a Russia-Austria alliance at the start puts you in an untenable position; you pretty much have to trust allies you know will betray you in the end. There’s a slim hope that you can anticipate or control the moment of betrayal and strike a deal with the power you were just allied against, but it looks like you weren’t able to pull that off.

      Austria, I always like to see the Balkan gambit succeed as an opening. But there’s a reason Austria is the power most likely to be eliminated first in Diplomacy. I think the problem here was that you made too many alliances in the opening negotiations, but didn’t make yourself indispensable to any of them. When they were all looking for someone to turn against for their next conquests, there you were…

      Germany, fighting against England and Russia, needed a strong Austria to take the heat off the Eastern front, and that just didn’t happen. Alternately, when the Anglo-German attack against France turns into a mutual stab in 1902, you needed to persuade a strong France to join your side of that fight, and that didn’t happen either. So you wound up simply overwhelmed by the numbers.

      Good game by all, and I for one welcome our new Russo-Romano-British overlords.

      • Doctor Mist says:

        Gack. Just when I think, “Yeah, that would be fun, I should make sure I sign on next time it comes around,” a message like this convinces me I am totally not qualified.

  19. Noah says:

    used very unfavorable estimates for his position there

    Not really–a far more unfavorable estimate would be more along the lines that the fallout from the protests includes a 20% increase in the homicide rate because there are far fewer police, or they stay out of black neighborhoods, or whatever else. Then multiply that by however many years you were using.

  20. Jesse E says:

    I think there’s been some questions about how people really feel about the protests, so I’ve done a little legwork in getting the polls I could find.

    1.) There was some polling out there showing 58% of American’s supporting sending in the troops. Well, an unpopular President pressing that idea, plus several more public screw ups, this has actually changed –

    39% of Americans now support President Trump invoking the Insurrection Act, while 52% oppose.

    https://twitter.com/MorningConsult/status/1269654851169906688

    Now, I think this is largely because the looting has largely stopped, but also more importantly, things like the use of tear gas, further violence by cops, etc. has convinced people that they don’t trust Trump sending in the troops.

    2.) In addition, at the start of all of this, there was some belief that perhaps, there’d be a Nixon-like Silent Majority reaction to the protests. Again, Trump has bungled that.

    “The way Trump is handling the response to the death of George Floyd”:
    Approve 32%
    Disapprove 66%

    From an Ipos/ABC National Poll.

    3.) Now, on to the actual changes people want. The realty is, “defunding the police” is a minority position, even among the left. From a YouGov poll (https://today.yougov.com/topics/politics/articles-reports/2020/06/01/police-reform-america-poll),

    “Two-thirds of Americans (67%) favor a ban on any type of neck restraint, a technique that is permitted by many police forces under certain circumstances. Four in five (80%) Democrats support a ban on neck restraints, as well as most Republicans (58%).

    There is strong bipartisan support for training police officers how to de-escalate conflicts and avoid using force (94% support among Democrats; 83% support among Republicans). A similar number of Democrats (91%) and Republicans (82%) support outfitting all police officers with body cameras.

    Four in five (80%) Americans favor implementing an early warning system to identify problematic officers. This is supported by strong majorities of Democrats (89%) and Republicans (72%), as well as white (81%) and black (88%) Americans.

    Despite calls by activists and protesters to defund police departments, most Americans do not support reducing law enforcement budgets. Close to two-thirds (65%) oppose cutting police force funding. Just 16 percent of Democrats and 15 percent of Republicans support that idea.

    Three in five (61%) Americans say the deaths of black Americans during encounters with police in recent years is a sign of a broader problem — not isolated incidents (39%). Two-thirds (67%) of Americans overall say black and white people do not receive equal treatment from the police. Most Americans (62%) — including white Americans (57%) — now say the criminal justice system treats white Americans better than it treats black Americans. More than nine in 10 black Americans (94%) say the US justice system benefits whites. ”

    4.) On the other hand, while people may not want to directly cut police budgets, they are open to having different people handle aspects that the police currently handle. For instance, in a Data for Progress poll, a majority (53%) of people believe the police use violence when they don’t have too, including 70% of Democrat’s and 67% of African-American’s.

    In addition, 68% of people support both, “creating a new agency of first responders, like EMS or firefighters, to deal with issues of addiction or mental issues that need to be remedied, but do not need police” and “funding community-based programs to train community leaders.”

    5.) Finally, there’s some belief in the idea that white leftists blame the violence on the cops, while many African-American’s mostly blame the protestors. A Morning Consult poll also shows this to be false, as while in polling 45% of people blame the violence on the protestors and 35% blame the police, in the crosstabs, whites blame protestors 52/27 while Hispanics are 31/54 and African-Americans are at 14/68.

    /https://assets.morningconsult.com/wp-uploads/2020/06/05165234/200613_crosstabs_MorningConsult_Adults_v1.pdf

    • Guy in TN says:

      Thanks for the round-up, very informative.

    • 10240 says:

      2.) In addition, at the start of all of this, there was some belief that perhaps, there’d be a Nixon-like Silent Majority reaction to the protests. Again, Trump has bungled that.

      “The way Trump is handling the response to the death of George Floyd”:
      Approve 32%
      Disapprove 66%

      Does disapproval of the way Trump is handling the protests imply support for the protests? I imagine many (most?) people, when asked “Do you approve of the way Trump is handling…”, answer without listening to the rest of the sentence.

      • The original Mr. X says:

        Plus, I’d expect that people who disapprove of Trump’s handling because they think he’s been too soft would still vote for him, on the grounds that Biden would have been even softer.

      • Jesse E says:

        Since all the other polling shows Trump’s general approval at basically the same place it’s been forever (low-to-mid 40’s depending on the poll), and polling of the actual protests and such is still quite positive, the “I disapprove because Trump is being too soft on these damn anarchists” is a relatively small portion of the disapproval rate.

  21. hash872 says:

    The real law enforcement reform that needs to take place, is broadening the power of the FBI and other federal agencies to investigate, charge and punish local police wrongdoing. I know ‘give the big federal government more power’ is not the most popular argument out there, but:

    There are lots of arguments out there for new laws around police behavior. I like most of them, but they’re also meaningless because the police are free to disregard them, without consequences. For example banning chokeholds is one of the ‘8 Can’t Wait’ reforms going around Twitter right now- but, chokeholds were already illegal in New York when Eric Garner was killed with one, and the police faced zero discipline. Frankly, they should’ve been arrested and charged. There has been some absolutely astonishing bad cop behavior out there that resulted in zero consequences- my personal recent favorite is the Baltimore officer who forgot to turn his body camera off while he was planting drugs on an African American man. He was eventually charged, received a suspended sentence, and remains a Baltimore police officer to this day! (The victim was held in prison for six months). In practice, local prosecutors, mayors and judges rarely have the will to charge or seriously punish bad cops. The prosecutors don’t want to prosecute- if they do, the judges will not impose a real sentence. (In New York, for instance, all cases involving officers are routed to a small number of NYPD-friendly judges, who always hand out suspended sentences). A common tactic if there’s a public outcry is the police commissioner announcing that an officer is ‘suspended pending an investigation’. What’s not mentioned is that the officer is suspended with pay, so he’s either behind a desk or playing video games at home, and that he’ll be quietly reinstated once the short American attention span has moved on.

    One of the FBI’s underappreciated focuses is investigating local political corruption- payoffs, pay to play, you want to develop this parking lot and I want a bag of $50,000 handed off to me at a restaurant, etc. (Real estate & alcohol licenses are huge sources of corruption!) The logic is that, if say the case involves crooked New Jersey politicians, local prosecutors are too close to the parties involved to be objective. This is actually a major FBI focus! Remaining a 1st world country means a sustained, never-ending fight against corruption.

    I’d broaden this to local law enforcement. If prosecutors and judges in their home city won’t enforce meaningful consequences, then the feds should. Much of the civil rights laws ‘worked’ because successive presidents sent in military units to the South to enforce Brown v. Board of Education and the Civil Rights Act. Both Eisenhower and Kennedy federalized National Guard units and sent them to physically keep the doors to schools open- obviously it seems absurd to argue that Congress could simply pass anti-discrimination laws and allow Alabama to enforce them. At its heart this is a rule of law issue- as local police departments increasingly morph into armed gangs that can assault citizens at will, and steal property via ‘asset forfeiture’ without charges, they risk simply becoming militias like in a 3rd world country.

    I’m not sure if Constitutionally a federal bureau can charge assault & battery if the states won’t do it, but I’d strongly argue for taking a hard line with some local police- and quickly. Passing meaningless laws that the cops can laugh off is not going to have much of an effect

    • cassander says:

      Civil servants getting people killed through gross incompetence and not getting fired isn’t limited to cops. If cities and states don’t care that their officers are inept, I’m not sure any amount of federal investigation would make a meaningful amount of difference.

      • MisterA says:

        Also, the FBI have not traditionally been known for their own scrupulous protection of civil liberties.

      • hash872 says:

        I don’t quite understand what you mean. The difference federal investigations would make is that violent cops are arrested, prosecuted and imprisoned (and presumably don’t have a particularly fun prison experience). And then, that future violent cops are deterred by the thought of a prison sentence. The feelings of cities and states are irrelevant here

        • cassander says:

          so someone gets killed. all the officers involve swear it was legitimate, for obvious reasons. the local chief knows that the people involved have had some issues in the past, but he certainly doesn’t want a scandal so he’s not going to say anything. The mayor doesn’t want riots so he’s not going to push. and if the FBI do get involved, what can they do? there’s no forensic evidence to prove otherwise, because none was collected at the time.

          If you have a system that has rotten incentives up and down the line, an outside investigator won’t matter much, because everyone but them will conspire to protect themselves, and since they’re the ones who work with each other day to day, their ability to do so is pretty high. No mayor or chief is ever going to want some FBI agent poking around, because no good will ever come of it for then, so there’s always going to be resistance and cover for said resistance. and if an incident does get out and generate enough energy to force an investigation, then you’re already trying things in the court of public opinion and no one will be happy regardless of the outcome. What you’ve created isn’t better incentives for cops, but a recipe for endless media circuses. You need to consider the incentives of people in the context of the institutions they’re part of and their limits.

          • Spookykou says:

            In some of the many comments on this topic, a common suggestions to address this concern is more ubiquitous bod/dash cam usages by the police, and stiff penalties if they don’t maintain their data. There might be cases where this kind of evidence is not sufficient, but I would think in a decent number of cases it would be.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Those are really good points.

          • cassander says:

            @Spookykou

            I think body cams are not a bad idea, but they’re only useful if there’s an organizational culture where the bodycams going dark for a while is treated as a serious concern and not laughed off. and that’s something that has to be imposed internally.

    • TimG says:

      The real law enforcement reform that needs to take place, is broadening the power of the FBI and other federal agencies to investigate, charge and punish local police wrongdoing.

      I had been chatting about this with my wife. She’s a (non practicing) lawyer. She pointed out that police are a state and local thing and thought that the Feds wouldn’t have a lot of leverage with local police.

      So it occurred to me: the Feds could set up a program that cities/states could “enroll” in — if they want to. What exactly that looks like, I don’t know. One option/example would be: anytime someone dies in a police action, the FBI should do an independent investigation.

      A lot of cities/states would probably consider signing up for that. But the police unions would definitely throw a fit. And they would probably prevent a lot of action on this — at least in normal times. But today, right now, these cities and states could enroll in this program to appease protestors. It would be a great example of protesting achieving something concrete. Unfortunately, our federal government is a bit broken right now 🙁

      • cassander says:

        A lot of cities/states would probably consider signing up for that.

        that seems unlikely at best. How could such investigations benefit the people who run cities? it seems like they could only cause trouble.

        • zzzzort says:

          The people who run cities (or at least the elected leadership) often have an antagonistic relationship with the police department. A lot consent decrees were supported by city leadership, and were more ways for city hall to get leverage over the PD than the DOJ imposing requirements on the city.

          • cassander says:

            The people who run cities (or at least the elected leadership) often have an antagonistic relationship with the police department.

            They have a codependent relationships. Usually, the unions help get the mayors elected, and the mayors cover for the cops and give them their pay raises and autonomy. sometimes they disagree on the details, but on the whole they’re on each other’s side far more than not. and neither benefits from an FBI investigation looking for witches to burn racist cops.

    • Dack says:

      For example banning chokeholds is one of the ‘8 Can’t Wait’ reforms going around Twitter right now- but, chokeholds were already illegal in New York when Eric Garner was killed with one, and the police faced zero discipline.

      This was a few years ago, but I remember reading at the time that the chokehold wasn’t illegal, just against NYPD regulations. And if I recall correctly, the choking officer was eventually fired for it.

  22. salvorhardin says:

    That’s a plausible argument for why perfectly rational protesters who had completely effective control of their emotions would find that the better moral choice was to wait.

    But we go to a protest with the human beings we have, not those we would wish to have. It’s unrealistic to expect that anyone this angry would just press pause on their anger for months rather than vent it now. (This is also of course an argument against extended lockdowns generally.)

  23. Tatterdemalion says:

    It looks to me as though most of the people supporting Trump sending in the military to deal with the protests, and most of the people opposing it, share the assumption that they would generally use more force when doing so than the police are.

    That assumption seems plausible to me, but I’ve seen a few people (e.g. David French, IIRC, or possibly someone he linked) challenge it; what are people’s thoughts on it?

    • mtl1882 says:

      I definitely think it could go either way–I associate the National Guard with sometimes being preferable to local police, where local police are out of control or unable to deal with the situation, and the violence can only escalate. My comment that it could make sense depending on the case caused an unexpected falling out with a friend, who saw the “feds” as only being called in to basically beat down the protestors. I understand the “law and order” rhetoric around it right now plays into that, and many conservatives are calling for it, but it wasn’t my immediate mental association, especially given that the police seem kind of brutal in the area in question, and seem to be at odds with local leaders in a way that might make them unlikely to back down. There are some types of federal forces I’d be more wary of, but I can definitely see a point where it would be wise to send in the NG–possibly not now, due to the feelings that have arisen. It should not have been used as a taunt, and it would definitely be preferable not to have to resort to it.

    • Guy in TN says:

      I’m not sure the assumption is that, in terms of use of force, military>police. But rather military+police>police.

      For example, here’s Tom Cotton’s argument:

      One thing above all else will restore order to our streets: an overwhelming show of force to disperse, detain and ultimately deter lawbreakers. But local law enforcement in some cities desperately needs backup

      All else equal, I would rather the protestors face the military instead of the police, but that’s not an option anyone is seriously floating.

      • Spookykou says:

        I think one possible reading here is that Cotton is arguing that the show of force reduces the need to use actual force.

        Based only on the quote I have no idea who Tom Cotton is and have not read the source document.

      • keaswaran says:

        I would even more rather the protesters+military face the police, as happened in several states in the wake of Brown v Board of Education. But that seems less likely here in most states (though not out of the question in some, given that the National Guard is often controlled by the state governor).

    • broblawsky says:

      It’s not just a question of force; the US military simply isn’t really trained for riot control. The question isn’t whether they will use too much or too little force, but that this isn’t their area of expertise.

      That being said, my assumption is that they will use too much force. Part of the problem with American policing is police being trained like soldiers – that is, that they are trained to assume that every interaction is a potentially lethal threat.

      • Aftagley says:

        Yeah, this. The only tool the military has access to is force. They’d either be using force, or be doing nothing.

        Look at what happened on the Southwest border when the administration declared an emergency then and sent in the troops – the brass realized that they had a bunch of untrained yahoos coming in and so made every effort to keep them well away from the actual border and had them doing a bunch of non-necessary logistics work to keep them busy.

        • broblawsky says:

          The explanation I saw (from, I think, Myke Cole on Twitter) is that there are three levels of state power.

          Violence: When you run a red light and the police stop you and give you a ticket.
          Force: When you don’t run a red light because you can see a cop car.
          Power: When you don’t run a red light because the cops might give you a ticket, even if you know they aren’t there. Now the cops are inside your head.

          The military has access to violence; if they’re doing their jobs well, they might have force. They never have access to power, because we’re not used to military policing.

          • Aftagley says:

            Hmm, I kinda disagree with that explanation, mostly that giving me a ticket is violence. Maybe something like –

            Violence: Shooting me after a failed to pull over.
            Force: When you run a red light and the police stop you and give you a ticket.
            Power: When you don’t run a red light because you can see a cop car.
            Control: When you don’t run a red light because the cops might give you a ticket, even if you know they aren’t there. Now the cops are inside your head.

            Although I admit the control/power divide is kinda squishy there.

            They never have access to power, because we’re not used to military policing.

            They also have no clue what to do with it. Our misadventures in the Middle East basically come down to our inability to translate violence into power productively. Why would anyone think they’d be better at it here?

        • Controls Freak says:

          The only tool the military has access to is force.

          Frankly, this isn’t really true. It’s pretty well-known that the military is often used in a variety of roles, stretching even to humanitarian roles. Whether or not this is an optimal use of resources is highly debated. Whether or not they’re capable of doing things below the level of “kill people and break stuff”, especially on short notice when other assets are unavailable, isn’t quite so disputed.

          Look at what happened on the Southwest border when the administration declared an emergency then and sent in the troops – the brass realized that they had a bunch of untrained yahoos coming in and so made every effort to keep them well away from the actual border and had them doing a bunch of non-necessary logistics work to keep them busy.

          IIRC, it was actually that there wasn’t sufficient legal justification in that case to have the military operating in an enforcement capacity. So, they were pretty much restricted by law to only helping out with stuff like logistics work. (Of course, whether or not this was actually helpful is sort of immaterial to whether or not Donald was going to press forward with the claim that he’s “sending the military in”.) Here, the discussion is focused on whether or not there would be sufficient legal justification for having them operate in an enforcement capacity. I don’t think that in either case, “untrained yahoos” is likely to be much of a factor.

      • Edward Scizorhands says:

        My wife is friends with a Marine who says he learned crowd control in Iraq and is aghast at how poorly American cops seem to be at it.

    • Conrad Honcho says:

      Both and neither? I oppose sending in the military to deal with the looters/rioters because the places with the rioting and looting don’t seem to want it to stop. If they wanted the protests/riots/looting to stop they could just….stop protesting, rioting and looting. If this changes and the people in these cities want the military, sure, send them in. In the meantime…democracy is the belief the public knows what they want and deserve to get it, good and hard.

      • cassander says:

        I’m pretty sure the people getting looted want it stopped…

        • Nancy Lebovitz says:

          I don’t know whether this is part of what you had in mind, but there are a lot of people who don’t want their neigborhoods wrecked.

        • Conrad Honcho says:

          I don’t know to what extent, though. I’ve seen social media posts from the owners of small businesses of the form, “don’t worry about us, justice for George Floyd.”

          Here’s the statement from Target about their store that got looted. I don’t see any call from them for the looting or rioting to stop, and they express sympathies with the cause of the protesters. They understand the “unleashing” of “pent-up pain.”

          I don’t know if they all really believe this, but plenty of the people getting looted do not seem overly concerned about it. Already I think the protests themselves do not have merit, and yet people support them. Minneapolis is disbanding their police force? I saw some bizarre pictures of white people who didn’t do anything washing the feet of black people who weren’t victims? I don’t know how to put this charitably, but I think a lot of people right now are out of their minds. “We’re getting looted and that’s okay, don’t send in the military” doesn’t really seem that far-fetched.

          • Paul Zrimsek says:

            The old phrase “Saying nice doggie while looking around for a rock” seems to apply here.

      • The Pachyderminator says:

        This seems to assume that in any city where looting and rioting is taking place, all the people or at least a democratic majority want the looting and rioting to continue. It doesn’t seem plausible that you actually think that, but I don’t know how else to make sense of your comment.

        I haven’t seen any information to suggest that anywhere near a majority of protesters support looting and rioting, let alone a majority of inhabitants of any city.

        • Conrad Honcho says:

          The people protesting provide cover to the looters and rioters by distracting the police. If they wanted the looting and rioting to stop, they could stop attending the “peaceful protests” that either turn into violent riots, or simply provide cover for the rioters and looters. Their revealed preference is for the riots and looting to continue.

          ETA: Also, the elected representatives of the people in places where there is looting and rioting are (I believe) uniformly against the military coming in. So, yeah there doesn’t seem to be popular will to send in the military.

          • Matt M says:

            Yeah, the cries of “I’m not in favor of looting, I’m just opposed to literally any and every thing that might conceivably stop the looting from happening” ring a bit hollow to my ear…

          • SamChevre says:

            they could stop

            Or they could do what every other mass protest does, and either point rioters and looters out to the police, or have their own informal security force to stop them.

          • Viliam says:

            Or they could do what every other mass protest does, and either point rioters and looters out to the police, or have their own informal security force to stop them.

            I didn’t comment on this topic previously, because I don’t know what are the social norms in USA about protests. But it was always on my mind that during my active period in Amnesty International this is exactly how its local branch dealth with potential troublemakers, and there was no trouble. You have a clearly established leadership with a megaphone, so they can declare “these people are not part of our protest; people who came here to join our protest please step away from them” when necessary.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            @Viliam

            That’s eventually what happened here, I think. The initial days of protesting were disorganized, so in addition to peaceful protests you had riots and looting. Once the protestors got organized, the riots and looting ceased.

        • Conrad Honcho says:

          Also, I asked on SSC and couldn’t get a single left-winger/Democrat here to say that the protests/riots were unjustified before or should stop now.

          Perhaps no one but Plumber saw my post before (and I don’t think he answered my question), but the lack of response to that question is one of the reasons I can plausibly believe people aren’t that concerned over the riots. The only people making big noise about stopping the riots in the mainstream culture are Trump-aligned. The opinion editor for the NYT just got sacked for letting a US Senator express his opinion that the military should stop the looting and riots.

          Will you condemn the looting or riots? I know in that question I said “protest/riots” but I think the looting is wrapped up in the riots. Burning cars = rioting and cleaning out Target = looting but it’s the same basic sort of stuff people would want the military to stop, if they thought it was important to stop that sort of thing.

          • Eugene Dawn says:

            I think the protests are justified (though possibly unwise because of coronavirus), and not the rioting or looting.

            From what I can tell, this is pretty typical for the left: here is Vox making the case for peaceful protest only, and here are some Democrats agreeing. There’s also plenty of video of protesters themselves intervening to stop looters.
            Finally, here’s some polling that shows that 70% of Democrats think it is “very important” to protect private property from looting or damage during the protests, and another 20% say “somewhat important”.

          • metalcrow says:

            As a protester i can confirm i think looting and damaging property is bad.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Those are good videos, thanks for sharing. There’s more opposition to looting than I thought. I will update in that direction.

            ETA: There’s something surreal about people making themselves into human shields to protect a Target.

          • Eric T says:

            I’m a pretty active protestor. Fine condemning looting and rioting.

          • Eugene Dawn says:

            Another fun video from DC, in which protesters literally grab a rioter and turn him in to the cops.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            I’ve seen some people on Twitter criticize the protestors for being turncoats and “siding with the cops.” But even on Twitter that was an extreme minority position and most people were saying “nah, fuck him.”

          • Randy M says:

            ETA: There’s something surreal about people making themselves into human shields to protect a Target.

            Would it be in poor taste to wonder if their marketing backfired?

            On point, I think you should always separate your questions about rioting and protesting. While they can blend together and shift into one another, and protesting may be unwise in cases because of that, protesting is an act much easier to justify on the end goal than rioting which has a high cost innocents must pay.

          • John Schilling says:

            I […] couldn’t get a single left-winger/Democrat here to say that the protests/riots were unjustified before or should stop now

            How many right-winger/Republicans can you find here to say that the protests were unjustified before or should stop now?

            Trying to make the protests and the riots into the same thing, is unfair and unlikely to persuade. As noted elsewhere, the riots stopped pretty much on day one – and in large part because even the protesters agreed that the riots were unjustified and should stop.

          • Matt M says:

            I am a right-winger, and I believe the protests (even if entirely peaceful) are unjustified, and should stop. Because they are based on a premise that is factually incorrect.

            I don’t dispute their right to protest peacefully, but they are wrong and should stop promoting things that are wrong.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            As noted elsewhere, the riots stopped pretty much on day one

            No, the riots/looting went on for days. They were still going on early/middle of last week. I thought they were still going on through the weekend but they died down middle/late last week.

            Also, what Matt M said. The protests themselves were never justified because the BLM narrative is factual incorrect.

          • The Pachyderminator says:

            Sure, I think looting and random destruction is wrong and that the minority of leftists who think it’s politically productive are completely up their own ass. If anyone on SSC disagrees, I haven’t seen their posts. I can think of a few people who left or got banned long ago who might say they approve of rioting, but not current commenters. So I’m still confused about why you think approval of the rioting and looting is so widespread.

            I suspect there are a few things going on here:
            – You’re seeing a few social media posts about the riots being good, and not properly discounting them for filtering effects (extremely online leftists tends to be a little crazy, much like extremely online rightists, and the crazy posts are more likely to penetrate a conservative bubble).
            – You’re seeing a much larger number of posts express support for the protests and their cause in general, many of whom are focusing on the protests and not the riots precisely because arguments are soldiers and they don’t want to give you any ammunition, and applying your own assumption that anyone who supports the protests also supports the riots.
            – You’re seeing a few arguments that the rioting is understandable or not that big a deal in the grand scheme of things, compared to the magnitude of the evils being protested, and mistaking this for outright approval.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            If anyone on SSC disagrees, I haven’t seen their posts.

            Guy in TN had plenty of posts justifying rioting and looting. As did, surprisingly enough, John Schilling with

            …we get a bunch of black people and their allies highly motivated to set this right and in a way that reaches far beyond Minnesota. I hope they succeed, and I’ll overlook some broken windows and burnt-out squad cars if that’s what it takes.

            He got several +1s, too.

            So when we’ve got posts like these who are okay with or defending rioting/looting, and nobody responded to my request for leftists to comment on it, and various left-twitter takes, and “riots are the language of the unheard” rhetoric, and celebrities bailing out rioters…perhaps you could cut me a little more slack than:

            It doesn’t seem plausible that you actually think that

            It’s very plausible. Now, I think this week people are a little more calm and we’re getting the more nuanced approaches, but beginning of last week and the week before when tensions were high, there were definitely people willing to defend riots and even looting.

            Maybe not a majority then, and it’s definitely a minority now, but it’s not like I made it up whole cloth.

          • Eugene Dawn says:

            I don’t want to speak for John, who can say what he meant, but I personally wouldn’t read that as justifying rioting. I would say I agree with John’s sentiment, even though I oppose rioting, because I think that a small amount of rioting is an acceptable cost for the protests, even if I would also try and reduce the amount of rioting to zero if possible. But I don’t see how that counts as a defense of rioting. It is an acknowledgment that some rioting may occur anyway, but as long as the amount of rioting is small enough, that won’t convince me not to support the protests.

            I also donated to the Minnesota Freedom Fund, but again, I don’t think this constitutes a defense of rioting: I donated because I believed that many if not a majority of the people arrested were not rioting (for example, they were arrested for curfew violations) and it was an acceptable risk that some of that money might go to help rioters who I consider less deserving.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            But I don’t see how that counts as a defense of rioting.

            “I don’t like riots but if it takes riots to get what we want then riots are okay” is definitely a defense of riots. I don’t see how it can be anything else but that.

          • Eugene Dawn says:

            No one here is saying “if riots are the only way to get what we want, then riots it is”, we’re saying, “it’s unreasonable to demand that protesters guarantee literally zero riots before their protest is justified–if the majority of protesters take reasonable measures to discourage rioting, then any rioting that occurs despite that should be counted as an unfortunate cost of an otherwise beneficial action”.

            To illustrate the difference by way of a hopefully less charged example:
            about a year ago, my city’s NBA team won the championship; in the course of the celebrations, some police cars were smashed up, as well as some buses, bus shelters, etc. I don’t think every person who thinks “it’s okay to celebrate the Raptors winning” is defending rioting just because a minor amount of rioting is an almost inevitable consequence of victory celebrations.

          • Aftagley says:

            Let me try and frame this a different way:

            Let’s say you hypothetically support access to firearms. Greater access to firearms means more people will kill themselves with guns. A small percentage of the overall number, sure but it’s pretty directly correlated.

            Would it be fair of me to then say that you support people shooting themselves? Of course not. You think one thing is good; you accept that there is occasionally some bad that comes with your prime concern, but that doesn’t mean you’re actively supporting the bad.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            I think the way to do that would be to vocally condemn the celebrants who burned the cars, not shrug and say, “if a few burned out cop cars are what it takes so we can party then so be it.” That definitely sounds like a defense of burning cop cars in celebration of the Raptors.

            ETA: Also, that’s not how I read John’s post. Perhaps he can correct me, but I took him to mean that he expected the burned out cop cars to be among the things that made the changes in policing he wants happen.

          • Eugene Dawn says:

            I think the way to do that would be to vocally condemn the celebrants who burned the cars, not shrug and say, “if a few burned out cop cars are what it takes so we can party then so be it.”

            I agree the first part is necessary, but the fact is…the latter is still true, even if it’s impolitic to say it. We do accept a little bit of destruction as an inevitable but unfortunate cost for lots of things, including all sorts of things that are generally benign.

            I also think it’s important that John’s phrasing was that he would overlook the burnt out cop cars, which is why we probably are reading him differently–not that burnt out cop cars are part of what it takes, but that, if they occur as a side effect, he is willing to not hold that against the protests as a whole. But anyway, if John cares he can clarify, and either way, that’s the interpretation of his remark that I’d endorse. I don’t think burnt out cop cars are necessary, but I do think they are probably inevitable, and so long as the majority of protesters are discouraging the burning of cop cars and taking measures to keep the number as low as possible, endorsing protests and accepting the inevitability of burnt cop cars as an inevitable cost shouldn’t count as defending rioting.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            I’m not sure about what counts as a defense of rioting, but I was seeing a lot of “the anger rioters feel is a normal response to being mistreated” and as a counterbalance, a lesser amount of “I’m black and I don’t want my neighborhood wrecked, and that includes the stores I shop at”.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            All right. I just object to being told I couldn’t plausibly believe lots of people approved of the riots, when there were lots of people saying they approved of the riots and few speaking out against them until after the riots were over. It feels a little like gaslighting.

            It’s not like it’s that implausible. I think just about everyone agrees that there is a defense of burning cop cars in extreme circumstances. If the government went full fascist and was rounding up guns, or Jews, or Jews with guns, I would definitely support burning cop cars to stop that. For many other people, that line may be police brutality against blacks or the poor, and many people said just that, and I took them at their word.

          • Eugene Dawn says:

            @Nancy and Conrad

            Yes, I agree there are lots of defenses of rioting, or at least, minimizing the rioting. Anyone who told you there wasn’t was lying, gaslighting, or wrong; I just think there are even more people who approve of the protests and who don’t approve of rioting.

          • John Schilling says:

            I also think it’s important that John’s phrasing was that he would overlook the burnt out cop cars, which is why we probably are reading him differently–not that burnt out cop cars are part of what it takes, but that, if they occur as a side effect, he is willing to not hold that against the protests as a whole. But anyway, if John cares he can clarify

            You’ve got it right. There are cases where I would affirmatively support burning police cars, but this isn’t one of them.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Gotcha. So in “if that’s what it takes,” the antecedent of “it” was the overlooking, not the burning squad cars themselves. Understood. Sorry about that.

          • John Schilling says:

            Right. Burning a few squad cars is an unavoidable consequence of an otherwise-good plan being implemented by actual flawed humans, so I’ll overlook it. Sorry if that was unclear.

          • Matt M says:

            an otherwise-good plan being implemented by actual flawed humans

            Is George Floyd being choked to death also the result of an otherwise-good plan (to disallow people from using counterfeit currency, with force when necessary) implemented by actual flawed humans?

          • John Schilling says:

            You dropped the word “unavoidable” in there. Occasional violence in street protests, is unavoidable outside of pollyanna-land. Policemen murdering unresisting handcuffed suspects in plain view of A: other policemen and B: many independent observers with cameras, I think can be plausibly avoided in the real world.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            I don’t know John. You’re positing perfectly peaceful protests are Pollyanna but perfectly peaceful police are practical…and pickles.

            I don’t think so. You’ve got approximately 700,000 law enforcement officers in the US. The idea that not a one of them is going to be a murderer is unlikely.

          • John Schilling says:

            We don’t need “not one of them is a murderer” to avoid another Floyd. We need not one of them to believe that they will get away with murder committed in front of three other policemen and a bunch of cameras.

            Other, mostly lesser, abuses of police power are inevitable. This one isn’t.

          • Matt M says:

            You dropped the word “unavoidable” in there.

            If you allow the police to use violence to enforce the law, I do think it’s “unavoidable” that at least one person will be killed who probably shouldnt’ have been.

            George Floyd specifically, his death was avoidable. But “zero unjust deaths from policing” is unavoidable, so long as the police have anywhere near the power and legal status the average person expects them to have.

          • John Schilling says:

            But “zero unjust deaths from policing” is unavoidable

            What does that have to do with any claim I or anyone else here has made?

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            I think it’s that John tends to prefer people who abuse their power be more discrete about it. He’s not saying “no murders” but “no flagrantly obvious murders.”

          • The Pachyderminator says:

            @Conrad Honcho

            I just object to being told I couldn’t plausibly believe lots of people approved of the riots, when there were lots of people saying they approved of the riots and few speaking out against them until after the riots were over. It feels a little like gaslighting.

            Sorry about that. FWIW I was actually trying to be charitable. Your comments did seem to be pretty clear that you believed exactly that, but that belief seemed so crazy to me that I still hesitated to impute it to you. In retrospect, I can see how you reached the conclusion you did.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Thanks, no problem man. We’re good 🙂

          • Evelyn Q. Greene says:

            …we get a bunch of black people and their allies highly motivated to set this right and in a way that reaches far beyond Minnesota. I hope they succeed, and I’ll overlook some broken windows and burnt-out squad cars if that’s what it takes.

            This is absolutely a defense of rioting, at least in the sense that “Pinochet would kill less people than Allende” is a defense of Pinochet.
            I say this a someone who would support the protesters attacking local organs of the state, if not random businesses.

            Looting, rioting and other forms of violence are deliberate tools of protest, not some sort of random side effect. I was at both the pro-gun lobby day protests and local anti-lockdown protest, the former of which had tens of thousands of people. No riots, no looting. Defend them or condemn but don’t pretend that this is some sort of random force of nature.

          • Matt M says:

            Yeah, even in the most violent/deplorable “right-wing protest” in recent memory (Charlottesville) there was approximately zero random destruction of private property. Certainly no looting, at all. No buildings being set fire to, at all. There was some street brawling between protesters and counter-protesters, and one dude who drove his car through a crowd, but none of the stuff that we’re now being told is just inevitable whenever a protest happens.

          • I think it’s that John tends to prefer people who abuse their power be more discrete about it.

            It isn’t that he prefers them but that he recognizes that covert misdeeds are harder to prevent than open misdeeds.

          • AG says:

            @Matt M

            Seems like there’s a class component, there. Few to none of the right-wing protesters at Charlottesville would have been living in poverty (especially insofar as they could afford to take days off from their day jobs to travel out of state somewhere), so they have little incentive to opportunistically steal things. Fires are a little harder to justify, but I suspect that fires only started after the police had generated chaos to begin with.
            If the police had decided to disperse Charlottesville the way they have in these protests, I bet opportunistic crime would have occurred.

          • Matt M says:

            If the police had decided to disperse Charlottesville the way they have in these protests

            They absolutely did do this. They broke up pretty much every concentrated right-wing gathering, often forcing them to exit public parks through narrow spaces that were surrounded by left-wing counter-protestors. It’s what led to the large crowds in confined spaces that allowed/enabled the whole “drive the car through the street” scenario to have happened.

            Had the mayor done what a federal judge had ordered him to do, and allowed the legally permitted right-wing protest to proceed, nobody would have died in Charlottesville, I’m absolutely convinced of it. That event would have been far less violent had the local authorities just stood down and allowed the chips to fall where they may (there probably still would have been some street brawling, but it would have been entirely between willing participants with no innocents getting caught up/killed in the crossfire.)

          • AG says:

            I’ll concede that the police did disperse the right wing protests in a poor way, but I don’t recall any reports of tear gas or grenades, which would provide ample cover for people to start smashing things.
            The way the police handled Charlottesville likely escalated the risk of protester/counter-protester violence, but it didn’t make it easy for people to loot places under the guise of protest.

          • Matt M says:

            I’ll concede that the police did disperse the right wing protests in a poor way, but I don’t recall any reports of tear gas or grenades

            Because they didn’t need to. They showed up and said “OK you Nazis, we order you to disperse and leave this park, please exit through this narrowly confined space which your enemies have surrounded and will throw things at you as you move through it” and, by and large, that’s exactly what the right-wing protestors did. There were no instances of large groups of right-wingers violently resisting orders to disperse.

            The main and primary difference between the worst example of a right-wing protest anyone can think of in the modern era and nearly every left-wing protest happening in every city is the behavior of the protesters themselves. And I’m here to tell you, this is not a coincidence.

          • AG says:

            I strongly disagree with this characterization. In case after case after case, which can be verified with video, police employed tear gas and other violent measures without announcing a requirement to disperse.

      • democracy is the belief the public knows what they want and deserve to get it, good and hard.

        HLM

      • JulieK says:

        I’m pretty sure the people whose premises are being looted want the looting to stop, but are powerless to achieve this.

    • Clutzy says:

      My thought is not that the military will use more force, but that they would actually use force when needed, which is not happening in several cities where the riots are ongoing. My city has thankfully calmed quite a bit, but at one point I was on the police radio religiously and was 1-2 blocks away from saying, “we are going or my car has a 50% chance of being burned.”

      Cities that have riots still ongoing have governments that, IMO, are wholly illegitimate and have failed their bargain in the social contract as the monopoly on force.

    • Purplehermann says:

      I thought the looters and rioters will stop once the military gets there, because the military is scary.

      Protesters will also be less likely to go out, again because military is scary (at least in the US).

    • J Mann says:

      My read on the riots and looting is that people inclined to lawbreaking are more likely to do it when they can get away with it. Put more boots on the ground and you will hopefully need less force – people are less likely to throw a brick or loot a store if they know they’ll be arrested and charged.

    • Deiseach says:

      One thing to be careful about getting what you wish if the military are sent in (and I’m not exactly sure is the National Guard or the Army meant here) is that they operate under different rules.

      This happened a lot in Northern Ireland where the British Army was sent in to support the police, but they were operating under military rules. These mean, for instance, that there is no such thing as an “innocent bystander”; if you’re shot because the army is dispersing rioters, too bad, you shouldn’t have been standing on the street trying to get to your home. Controversy is still going on decades later.

      For decades successive British governments have provided immunity to British soldiers from being prosecuted for deaths during the Troubles, most recently Boris Johnson (before Brexit, Coronavirus and pulling down statues in Bristol blew up). You may have some hope of holding the police accountable for what happens during riots, but you have very little to none when it comes to the army.

      The situation may get bad enough to warrant calling in the military, but if protestors and rioters push it that far because they expect to get the police replaced, they and everyone may regret it later.

  24. J.R. says:

    Does anyone else have trouble recalling what their younger selves thought of things? I have a hard time articulating what I’m getting at in a short comment, so I’ll elaborate…

    When I was a teenager, I really enjoyed Dostoevsky. The Brothers Karamazov was the first Serious Literature that I deeply responded to. I continued to work my way through the Russian greats, reading more Dostoevsky and Tolstoy and moved through the 20th Century to Solzhenitsyn.

    I’m revisiting some of those works now, over a decade later. I’m working on War and Peace now and read Solzhenitsyn’s In the First Circle about a month ago.

    What’s crazy is that my teenage self read these books, but had no clue what was going on. I don’t even remember Tolstoy’s main conclusions from War and Peace, or what any of the characters were for. I vaguely remember liking Prince Andrei, and thinking Natasha was silly, but that’s it. I don’t even remember Pierre’s story arc and he’s the central character of the novel. So what was I doing reading one of the longest novels ever? Why did I waste all that time?

    What’s especially bizarre is I definitely got Dostoevsky as a teenager. My interpretations of Karmazov and Crime and Punishment have held up when I’ve read them as an adult. So it wasn’t like I was a complete idiot.

    My suspicion is that there are two types of art: ones that I respond to and ones that I don’t. Work that you don’t respond to, you digest quickly, so you’ve forgotten it as soon as you’ve finished it. But work that you do respond to, you think about it, it churns inside of you, it changes the way you view the world, so it stays with you.

    But the other thing is – as you age, the things you respond to change and you have more general knowledge to latch onto things. I know way more about military history now, for instance, so I find Tolstoy’s account of the Battle of Austerlitz gripping. I’m sure my younger self was baffled and too lazy to look it up on Wikipedia. Hell, I didn’t even have a smartphone so I could do that from my bed between chapters like I do now.

    • Uribe says:

      I read Anna Karenina when I was 19 and it blew me away. Reread it a few years ago and still loved it, but I didn’t remember much of it. What I did remember was simply the warmth of Tolstoy, how 3-dimensional the characters felt, how Tolstoy seemed to understand what makes people tick and what problems they were going through. Even though my life was nothing like the characters, it felt like Tolstoy understood what I was going through. I still feel that way about Tolstoy. I don’t believe in God, but I wish there were one & I wish He were like Tolstoy.

      I don’t feel like my inability to remember the details of the novel mean I don’t remember who I was. I feel like I remember exactly who I was. Of course, it may be a false memory.

      EDIT: Dostoevsky didn’t do as much for me yet I think I can remember his stories about as well as Tolstoy’s. Perhaps I even remember the big plots in Dostoevsky better if only because they are more straightforward, though I don’t claim to remember much detail.

    • Robin says:

      I read “The Brothers Karamasov” in my twenties and loved it; likewise the “Idiot”. “Crime and Punishment” was so-so, I particularly remember finding the end a bit corny (which was probably due to censorship).

      The best part of the Brothers Karamasov was Ivan’s discussion with the devil. The great inquisitor was a bit disappointing. Now, I might some day read it again.

      One book I reread was “Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance” by Pirsig. I remember that I found it spectacularly enlightening when I was 22. When I recently reread it, I mostly went “meh” and “what’s so great about this”.

    • Viliam says:

      Books are interesting when they somehow deal with issues that are currently important in your life. If you never experienced X, then reading a book that assumes you are familiar with X is a waste of time. On the other hand, if you spent too much time thinking about X, maybe the book doesn’t have anything new to tell you. And things that are interesting are easier to remember.

      • cassander says:

        I’ve made this argument before about why it’s pointless to have teenagers read great books. Can you really appreciate Moby Dick if you haven’t pursued something past the point of sense and suffered for it? Julius Caesar if you’ve never been betrayed by a friend? Romeo and Juliet if you haven’t watched teenagers be idiots, knowing exactly how it will turn out? Sure, maybe some of them will appreciate the aesthetic quality of the writing, but it won’t mean much to them.

        • AG says:

          The short-lived trend of teen movie adaptations of literature show that the stories are fundamentally applicable, though, and that it’s more the aesthetic trappings and prose/dialogue styles that make them less accessible to students.
          I know that Ethan Frome was rendered accessible to me because I recognized some passages of ~longing~ from pining/angst-centered fanfiction, hah.

  25. Eric T says:

    My politics friends and I have a joke that Mitt Romney is going to become a democrat at some point soon. I’ve only ever thought of it as a joke, then this happened. I’ve officially updated my chance from 0.1% to like… 1%.

    • broblawsky says:

      He isn’t going to become a Democrat; he’s planning on running for President again, and he’s betting on a backlash against Trumpism in the Republican party. If it falls through, he’s still fine; he can keep winning Senate elections in Utah until the day he dies.

      This isn’t to say that his convictions on this aren’t sincere; I believe that they are. This is just one of those rare situations where the politically convenient decision and the morally right decision coincide.

      • Nick says:

        Agreed on all points.

      • keaswaran says:

        There are still 77 days before the Republican delegates go to Charlotte to catch coronavirus select the nominee. I believe 77 days ago, San Francisco still permitted events of up to 50 people.

    • Erusian says:

      Despite what was said around the 2012 election, Romney’s always been very moderate and willing to work with Democrats. He ran Massachusetts and implemented universal healthcare there. This doesn’t surprise me at all. I doubt he’ll defect but he’s always been on the liberal wing of the Republican Party, which really is only relevant in New England but does exist.

  26. If humanity ever succeeds in developing a Friendly AI, I expect “Friendly” to come with the addendum “as defined by the Chinese Communist Party.” What will Skynet with Chinese Characteristics be programmed to do?

    • Fingerspitzengefuehl says:

      Ruthless utilitarianism.

    • Viliam says:

      It will print “it doesn’t matter if a cat is black or white so long as it catches mice” and then convert everything to paperclips?

  27. Mark V Anderson says:

    Noah, to his credit, used very unfavorable estimates for his position there.

    Maybe for the Covid deaths. Not for the benefit side. I think the biggest result of the protests will ultimately be a crackdown on crime, after people saw what happened when police didn’t control it. I think this is the opposite direction the protesters are looking for.

    As far as racism is concerned, does he really think this will decrease racism? For anybody that is already a racist, the riots will confirm their beliefs and make them more racist. I suppose that liberal Whites might feel a little more guilty for awhile, if this is how you measure racism. But it will have next to no effect a year from now, as the media is on to future conquests. IT certainly won’t have a fifty year effect.

    • John Schilling says:

      Maybe for the Covid deaths. Not for the benefit side. I think the biggest result of the protests will ultimately be a crackdown on crime, after people saw what happened when police didn’t control it.

      What is it that you think people saw? What I saw was one day of mostly-peaceful protesting with a side order of looting and rioting, the latter causing property damage of the sort most people assume will be covered by insurance, the injuries almost entirely non-lethal confined to the cops/protesters/rioters demographic. Then there was some attention to small business owners saying “hey, we’re part of this community, we’re trying to rebuild, and insurance isn’t going to make us whole”, and community and protest leaders saying to knock off the violence. Then about five more days of protest with the rioting and looting diminishing each night to approximately nothing in the end.

      I was in South-Central Los Angeles for the Rodney King riots; I know what uncontrolled looting etc looks like, and this wasn’t it. And to the extent that there was violence, which there was, I don’t think anyone but the hard-core Trumpists are going to believe it ended because the Long Arm of the Law came down on the rioters like a Ton of Bricks; most everyone else is going to see this as the community deciding it didn’t want violent protests and making it so.

      You’re going to be waiting a long time for that crackdown, I’m afraid.

      • Mark V Anderson says:

        Well it was pretty uncontrolled here in Minneapolis, for at least two days. Folks were mostly looting and burning as they wished. Now we are talking about the national response to this, not just local response of Minneapolis or LA. And my impression was that the news portrayed this criminals gone wild for a few days with little restraint by the cops (which was true in Mpls). And the protesters mostly saying it didn’t much matter in the face of Floyd being killed, and besides it was the cops fault for being mean to us. Right now everyone is highly cowed by the media that the Floyd killing is the only thing that matters, but I think when it comes time to vote, most people want peace and won’t be in favor of those politicians that decided to let criminals run free for a few days and destroy lots of businesses.

  28. Edward Scizorhands says:

    Minneapolis is getting rid of their police department.

    I guess we’re doing this.

    • zero says:

      What does this entail in practice?

      • Iago the Yerfdog says:

        I don’t think anybody can know at this point — though I’m cynical enough to think “meet the new boss, same as the old boss” is the most likely result after the new system is broken in.

        I will say two things in its favor: (a) cities are prima facie a pretty good place for this kind of experimentation to take place, and (b) there are plenty of historical examples of law enforcement systems significantly different from ours, so there’s no a priori reason something new will be worse.

      • theredsheep says:

        My tentative timeline: the city council is in no hurry to actually fire all those officers without having a clear idea of what to replace them with. Meetings and hearings are held. The broader public moves on the next horrible thing that happens, leaving the field to dedicated activists and academics. The academics have some ideas based on models that have worked in Europe and Asia; the activists have some of those, but also some totally new ideas that their friends on social media think would be totally awesome. The academics have learned a lot about this subject; the activists have learned something about this subject, and a lot about making life unpleasant for authority figures.

        A lot of proposals get floated, most of them with hefty price tags attached and requiring the employment of large numbers of people with degrees in social work. Meanwhile, the actual police are white-hot pissed and inclined to obstruct this with lots of legal challenges, which I assume is a thing they can do. Crime levels start to creep up as the police adopt an increasingly strong “I’m not getting shot for these bitches” work ethic. Every weird or impractical idea floated, as well as several outright made-up ones, gets gleefully leaked by right-wing media provocateurs. Second thoughts are head.

        Somewhere around 2022 some watered-down guidelines are released to a very nearly unchanged police force, who may possibly be renamed the Unicorn Snuggle Brigade. Incremental improvements are made, and the hefty sentence handed down to Derek Chauvin in the meantime serves as a strong disincentive to further outright lynching. If we’re really lucky, somebody has made some slight progress in killing qualified immunity, and maybe chipped away some more at asset forfeiture. Hopefully nothing even worse has been invented to take the place of either.

        The Atlantic publishes a “Whatever Happened to Police Reform?” article noting that members of the Minneapolis City Council were caught on tape saying All Lives Matter on at least three separate occasions.

    • MisterA says:

      I am genuinely surprised to see protests have a direct effect this dramatic, and have had to greatly revise my expectations of what it is possible for protests to actually accomplish in terms of tangible results.

      • cassander says:

        I would be very surprised if this actually happened. the department might have its budget cut, or be renamed, or some responsibilities transferred, but they’re not going to lay off 1,100 people.

        • Aftagley says:

          AFAICT they are going to create a new “Public Safety System”

          No clue what that’s going to be… but I bet they’ll have mostly the same membership and uniforms as the old system.

          • Iago the Yerfdog says:

            I see I’m not alone in my cynicism.

          • Guy in TN says:

            @Aftagley
            I think its basically good, and you shouldn’t be too cynical about it. One of the most important moves to reduce police violence would be to transition them to an organization that is legally “Not Police”, meaning they can’t have the multitude of laws/supreme court rulings that apply to the police apply to them.

            This way, if a gang of them burst through my door at night and killed me in my bedroom, instead of opening up the lawbooks for “what happens when the police kill someone”, we open up the same lawbooks for “what happens when a normal citizen kills someone”. A major reason for police violence is that they know they are legally near-untouchable.

            Transferring “policing” powers to an organization that is legally not “The Police” is a massive step. A much greater victory than I could ever have imaged a week ago.

          • Aftagley says:

            Yeah, I didn’t mean that to be as cynical as it came out. I honestly do think the new system with likely be an outgrowth of the old one, but I don’t think that’s inherently negative.

          • cassander says:

            @Guy in TN says:

            I think its basically good, and you shouldn’t be too cynical about it. One of the most important moves to reduce police violence would be to transition them to an organization that is legally “Not Police”, meaning they can’t have the multitude of laws/supreme court rulings that apply to the police apply to them.

            this will not happen, period. We live in a world where the government printing office feels a need to have uniformed security personal with police powers, there is zero chance that the city of Minneapolis will go without them. the name might change but, their powers will not. if anything, they will probably spread as, say, the department of health gets a “mental illness patrol” or whatever.

          • John Schilling says:

            If the organization is legally not “The Police”, then it legally doesn’t have the power it needs to protect the population from the sort of seriously dangerous criminals that are the reason we put up with all the hassles of having the police. If the organization is legally not “The Police”, then it can’t arrest people unless it witnesses them commit a felony in their actual presence, which means that it can’t threaten to arrest people, which means that its negotiating position for all those nice non-violent conflict resolution strategies everybody is in favor of is greatly weakened. If it is not legally “The Police”, the even when we have clearly established by due process in a court of law that Bob is probably a criminal who kidnapped Alice, the “Not-Police” can’t serve a warrant to arrest Bob or search his house.

            So, yay that you’ve found a way to do traffic stops and community outreach with less risk of doing something stupid that leads to a gunfight. But all the problems we really need police for, are left unsolved. And if you’ve got a solution to those problems, I’m not sure we need a separate force dedicated to traffic stops, etc.

          • Guy in TN says:

            @John Schilling

            If it is not legally “The Police”, the even when we have clearly established by due process in a court of law that Bob is probably a criminal who kidnapped Alice, the “Not-Police” can’t serve a warrant to arrest Bob or search his house.

            I’m not saying this new agency should have legal authority identical to an average citizen. Many non-Police enforcement agencies have authorities beyond that of an average citizen, this is normal and legally well-established.

            The government should authorize this new agency to have specific powers such as arresting felons/serving warrants, while making perfectly clear that this is not The Police, and laws and legal precedent that apply to the police do not apply to them.

          • John Schilling says:

            So, it should have the power to arrest people, but it should not be constrained by all the limits that legislatures and courts have put on the power to arrest people? They can just arrest people without constraint or accountability?

            Or is the theory that you’re going to get rid of all the old rules that limit what police can do, and invent a complete new set of rules for the same purpose, and that the new rules you just made up are going to be better than the rules people have been struggling with for decades? And that the courts are going to let you get away with this transparent ruse?

            I’m guessing you’re thinking in terms of getting rid of Qualified Immunity, because QI is Obviously Wrong. But, it’s not going to work. The Supreme Court is going to look at this thing you’ve created, that’s acting almost exactly like a police department, and not be fooled for one nanosecond by the label you put on it saying “We’re calling this the Not-Police and therefore all those pesky Federal court rulings don’t apply”.

            Also, I expect you’re going to throw out an awful lot of baby with that bathwater, and the courts may not rescue the baby for you.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            @Guy in TN:

            This way, if a gang of them burst through my door at night and killed me in my bedroom, instead of opening up the lawbooks for “what happens when the police kill someone”, we open up the same lawbooks for “what happens when a normal citizen kills someone”.

            Now you sound like a libertarian.

          • Guy in TN says:

            @John Schilling

            Or is the theory that you’re going to get rid of all the old rules that limit what police can do, and invent a complete new set of rules for the same purpose, and that the new rules you just made up are going to be better than the rules people have been struggling with for decades?

            Yes, the new rules will be better. “Make things better” is the idea behind all reform and social progress, I don’t know why you are mocking it. One contributing factor to why the police are such a terrible organization, is that we’re barely been able to “struggle” with any reforms, due to highly constrained nature of our legal system (full of non-democratic elements, vetos, and a near-unaccountable supreme court). It’s not like the current version of the Minneapolis police underwent rigorous trials and experiments of various laws/arrangements and emerged the victor. There has been very little prior democratic input into the question of what should policing in the United States be like. “Making things better” might be as easy as actually trying for once.

            And that the courts are going to let you get away with this transparent ruse?

            The Supreme Court, if it is so inclined, will have to figure out which people in the new agency qualify as “police” for their purposes and which ones don’t. I look forward to the debate. Seems unlikely that they will deem the entire organization “police” just because a handful of them have arrest and warrant-serving powers.

          • jewelersshop says:

            I can think of a lot of ways that “actually, we’re not the police and you aren’t technically being arrested and this isn’t jail, it’s a therapeutic center” could go wrong.

          • Guy in TN says:

            @John Schilling

            I’m guessing you’re thinking in terms of getting rid of Qualified Immunity, because QI is Obviously Wrong. But, it’s not going to work.

            I don’t see this plan having any effect on Qualified Immunity, since that applies to all government officials.

          • fibio says:

            AFAICT they are going to create a new “Public Safety System”

            Just to be clear, they’re not running it through The Committee of Public Safety, right?

          • Garrett says:

            > and uniforms as the old system

            My guess is that the thing with the least resistance to change will be the name/uniform/stationary. Everybody involved will probably roll their eyes at it but accept that it’s somewhere between “symbolism of our new and improved policing system” and “least-effort way to pretend we’ve fixed things”.

          • A Definite Beta Guy says:

            The Supreme Court is going to look at this thing you’ve created, that’s acting almost exactly like a police department, and not be fooled for one nanosecond by the label you put on it saying “We’re calling this the Not-Police and therefore all those pesky Federal court rulings don’t apply”.

            Before or after the Supreme Court is packed with 20 people who think exactly like the New York Times editorial board?

        • MisterA says:

          My expectation going into this was that it would be like every other protest I have witnessed in my lifetime, and thus would have absolutely no effect of any kind whatsoever.

          The City Council passing a veto-proof vote to dissolve the police department is already a lot more than that, no matter how much or little it actually winds up changing in the end.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      I’m delighted by this development. I assume it will go terribly and everyone will learn a Valuable Lesson, but if it doesn’t, then that would be an exciting update to my world model and opportunity for future change.

      (edit after thinking for five seconds: wait, does anyone learn lessons anymore? Is there any level of bad this could go that won’t result in people finding a way to declare it a success? I think we’re still reality-based enough that it’s possible for a very strong failure signal to detected, and even a failure signal weak enough to hide would be an interesting sign that this was less bad than I expected)

      • AlesZiegler says:

        Yeah, exactly

      • Matt M says:

        I had a long reply to this, but deleted it because I think it might be insufficiently charitable to my enemies.

        All I will say is that I think the people loudly cheering this today will be loudly insisting “See! We told you it didn’t go nearly far enough!” as soon as any amount of negative data comes in.

        I think the people celebrating this change today will happily acknowledge the shortcomings of it once they manifest… but their solution at that point definitely won’t be “let’s go back to how things were before…”

      • Oldio says:

        No, no one learns lessons. Right leaning media(not necessarily red tribe- violet tribe media too) in a few years will have a set of lengthy screeds on how this was a horrible idea, and should be undone.
        Blue tribe media in a few years will have a set of lengthy screeds on how every American city needs to copy them.
        Both will be working from the exact same data.

      • viVI_IViv says:

        They’ll learn the wrong lesson: that they didn’t go far enough, that they need fifty Stalins.

      • RalMirrorAd says:

        I recall seeing a moderately prominent twitter handle saying something to the effect of; if the protests result in large number of cases/deaths of covid19 that (unironically) racism ought to be blamed.

        if they go ahead with not having a police force I predict it will either succeed (Hurray) or racism will be blamed for why it didn’t succeed. It’s nice to have one’s priors updated, but those of us who like to have our priors updated are very bad at pushing these kinds of social science experiments in the first place.

    • Purplehermann says:

      Sounds good, let’s check differences in crime statistic trends there compared to other places in a few years. If a few more cities do this even better

    • broblawsky says:

      I think this is essentially a gambit to destroy the Minneapolis police union.

    • BBA says:

      I was looking into what this would entail, and the charter of the city of Minneapolis requires the city to have a police department (section 7.2(a)(11)) and sets a minimum staffing level and dedicated funding stream (section 7.3(c)). In Minnesota, amending a city charter requires either a referendum (which will take a few months at the minimum) or the unanimous approval of the council and mayor – and the mayor has already said he’s against abolition.

      Maybe I’m missing some other operative legislation or judicial precedents (I can’t afford Westlaw), but to me this looks like empty talk.

      • Mark V Anderson says:

        @BBA
        I hope you are right. The one thing that hasn’t been discussed here is that the Minneapolis city council is mostly a bunch of kids that got handed this cool new thing to play with called a city in the last election. I wouldn’t trust them to make even minor changes in a reasonable fashion. It is kind of like having Trump make a radical change in policing; these people simply aren’t very competent. So far I’m mostly heard about some sort of citizen council to replace the police. I suppose BBA is probably right and they are also too incompetent to make any change legally. Although this will end up making the police kind of hate the city government, and maybe its citizens by proxy. That can’t be good. The only good thing that may come out of this is hopefully the voters will think better about electing a bunch of radical kids into office.

  29. Le Maistre Chat says:

    Grover Furr is an American professor of Medieval English literature at Montclair State University who is known for denying crimes of Stalinism.”

    That’s just ridiculous on several levels.

  30. Uribe says:

    Speaking of Pinker, I’m surprised more people aren’t bringing up his story about what happened when the Montreal police went on strike.

    • Tenacious D says:

      From that Wikipedia article:

      The leader of the ‘Operation McGill Français’ protests was ironically a part-time Marxist political science lecturer from Ontario named Stanley Gray who could barely speak French, but who declared that McGill must become a French-language university to end “Anglo-elitism”, rallying support from the Quebec separatist movement.

      He sounds like a character in a skit on a political comedy show (e.g. 22 Minutes)—a bit too on-the-nose to be real.

  31. Dino says:

    Seems like there are folks here into sci-fi, and folks who are writers, so here’s a couple of ideas I had for sci-fi stories – help yourself. I’d like to read any results.
    #1 A social satire/comedy about a world where the social status of food and sex are reversed. The smallest room in every house has a door, and people regularly excuse themselves and go in there and shut the door and eat, and then wash their hands. You can buy food, but it’s discreet, and embarrassing so nobody talks about it. There’s some places in Nevada where you can be fed publicly. Meanwhile there’s gourmet sex media, high end brothels, mom&pop brothels, national chains of brothels at various price points, celebrity sexologists with media platforms, exotic ethnic sex, etc.
    #2 The advanced alien saviors have landed to save the poor earthlings. The earthlings desperately want to be saved because their world is dying from climate change, suffering a pandemic, and wracked by partisan politics. The aliens’ mission is to help because they are part of the Galactic Bureau of Serving Humanoids. But the GBSH has the usual issues of a bureaucracy – dumb inflexible rules, can’t be fired incompetents, etc. Also – this is the captain’s last voyage, he’s about to retire, and the 2 lieutenants are doing office politics against each other trying to succeed him. And the aliens are humanoid enough that the captain falls in love with a beautiful earth maiden and starts acting irrationally. The plot lines converge in the climactic scene where the fate of the earthlings hangs in the balance.

    • Snickering Citadel says:

      There’s a movie “The Phantom of Liberty”, where the social status of eating and pooping is reversed.

    • Nancy Lebovitz says:

      Not quite the same thing, but Theodore Sturgeon’s “Grannie Doesn’t Knit” has a society which is prudish about food. Eating is done in private and food is acquired at “flower shops”. They’re highly restrictive about sex, too.

    • Kaitian says:

      I read a star trek fanfic years ago that had #1 as its central conceit. The human narrator had a college roommate from an alien society where the sex / food privacy norms were as described.

      I think the narrator was Uhura?

      • Nick says:

        There’s an Enterprise episode where an alien species visiting the Enterprise eat privately. The leader storms off the ship saying to Archer, “You eat like you mate!”

    • ana53294 says:

      #1. It’s in Russian, but in the series of the author Alexei Kalugin, Did you call the Patrol? there is a scene where Earth-people are making an appeal to the inhumane treatment they are receiving from Venusians, because they aren’t even allowed to eat in private, which is an extremely private act by Venusian standards.

      Unfortunately, like most Russian sci-fi, it’s not translated.

      • JulieK says:

        I wonder if Kalugin took that from Heinlein’s Space Cadet, which has a similar scene likewise involving Venerians.

    • Randy M says:

      #1 A social satire/comedy about a world where the social status of food and sex are reversed.

      Kilgore Trout wrote this one.

    • b_jonas says:

      Szathmári Sándor’s sci-fi novel “Kazohinia” (aka “Kazohinio”) features a society that partly matches #1.

      Eating is considered taboo so much that people always do it privately, and schools have small secluded rooms for children where they eat. People rarely talk about eating, and even then in euphemisms, and they rarely openly admit that it is a necessary part of life that everyone does often, instead treating it as a dirty unnatural thing that people sometimes do because they are imperfect. And yes, there exist the equivalent of prostitution where you pay a woman to feed them, with its stigmas. The viewpoint hero, being foreigner who doesn’t understand the culture, gets in trouble where he gives food to a woman, and he is eventually forced to marry that woman, in a brief ceremony conducted by a local priest, to avoid a bigger scandal.

      In contrast, they urinate publicly and show their genitials when doing so. How this society treats sexuality is not described, presumably because describing it could have ran into more taboo problems in our world.

    • b_jonas says:

      As for #2, the closest thing I know of is Asimov’s short story “Blind Alley”. A non-human intelligence species is in decline, and will most likely be extinct within a generation. The last group of specimens lives in a reservation where they are entirely dependent on humans. The buerocrat hero Lodovik Antyook saves the alien race, establishing a future for them, but he has to do that by brilliant individual action against the incompetent bureocracy that governs the entire Empire.

      Elements that don’t match are: 1. the humans are in the other of the two roles, 2. the aliens are in decline and risk of extinction primarily because humans have outcompeted them, and 3. nobody is acting irrationally because they’re in romantic love, especially not in an interspecies one.

    • Dino says:

      Re #1 – seems like I’m guilty of unconscious plagiarism, just like Paul McCartney.

  32. Uribe says:

    I need to find a way to make this comment kind since it may not be true. I believe the protesters mean well. I believe most of them honestly believe they can change things for the better, and I also believe it’s better to have that kind of optimism than the cynicism I have.

    That said. C’mon, let’s get rational. These protests are happening across the country because people have been bored to tears by lockdowns for two months. I’d join them myself if I weren’t still big into social distancing.

    Or rather, the protests are happening because plenty of kindling was set out and then the murder of Floyd was the spark that set the country on fire. Part of the kindling was Donald Trump spending the past 3 years in the White House making it clear he hates liberals, and not only does he hate you but he thinks you’re a loser. But then we’re locked down for 2 months, and the world feels surreal. If you have school age children, you probably feel overwhelmed. If you live alone,you have probably been lonely and bored as shit.

    The murder of Floyd would have caused protests in Minneapolis during normal times, but no way — you are kidding yourselves — if you think these protests would have spread to the whole country were it not for mainly the pandemic but also 3 years of Trump verbally attacking liberals.

    The behavior of cops has little to do with it.

    • cassander says:

      art of the kindling was Donald Trump spending the past 3 years in the White House making it clear he hates liberals, and not only does he hate you but he thinks you’re a loser.

      A loser, sure, but there’s vastly more hate directed at donald trump than coming from him, and let’s not pretend otherwise.

      • The Pachyderminator says:

        It’s far from obvious that this is true, unless you just mean it in the trivial sense that millions of people hate Trump, whereas Trump is just one person. Trump seems to give as good as he gets most of the time.

        • J Mann says:

          I think the quality of the hate directed at Trump is also much more intense than the hate he sends.

          Trump’s messaging tends to veer between occasional complements, even towards his outgroups, and casual bullying – demeaning nicknames, wierd statements, and calling people losers or sad.

          The venom directed *towards* Trump on any given Twitter thread is extraordinary.

          Of course, Trump is president, and most of the people tweeting at him are sad losers (I kid!!!), so if that’s the important variable for you, then I can see going the other way, but the statement is true if you either count the hateful comments or count their intensity.

        • viVI_IViv says:

          There have been people, including blue checkmarks on Twitter, calling for Trump to be deposed, arrested or even assassinated since 2016. Since before he was elected major newspapers called him a racist, a Nazi, literally Hitler, a rapist, a Russian asset, and so on.

          What’s the most hateful thing that Trump did?

          • Nick says:

            There are all sorts of petty and disgusting things Trump has done, from the Rosie O’Donnell comments to “Lock her up” to the recent Joe Scarborough stuff. It’s inexcusable for a president to engage in at all and completely beneath the office, but it’s also not remotely as “hateful” as the vitriol leveled against him, and at least millions of times fewer.

    • Tarpitz says:

      Never mind “the whole country” – they’ve crossed the sodding Atlantic. Bristol had large scale protests. I don’t know when the last time someone was killed by police in Bristol was, but it doesn’t seem to have been in the last fifty years. Not wrongfully killed, mind you – no police killings of any kind, in a metropolitan area with more than 700,000 people.

      • The original Mr. X says:

        The globalisation of US politics has been one of the more negative consequences of globalisation more generally.

      • AlphaGamma says:

        Avon and Somerset Constabulary (which covers Bristol) did shoot and kill someone a couple of years ago near Bristol- I don’t know if the location of the shooting is in the metro area or not. On the other hand, the incident which led to the shooting started some distance away, and also looks like a fairly clear case of suicide by cop by a white man.

        • Tarpitz says:

          It seems the Avon is generally taken as the border on that side, so Portbury is a mile or two outside it, but given that armed police are rare and specialised units I imagine they were probably based in Bristol.

          I wasn’t aiming to exclude the incident on that kind of technicality (I just hadn’t realised how close to Bristol Portbury was), but at the same time while certainly very sad it appears pretty clearly to be in no way indicative of police malfeasance. (Short summary for anyone disinclined to click the link: depressed young man drove around threatening people with what they reported to police as a gun but was in fact an air pistol, police stopped his car and told him to come out with his hands up, he fired on them and they fired back.)

          The broader point that issues with use of force by US police are not replicated in the UK, despite which British protestors have abused and in some cases behaved violently towards British police as if they were the guilty party, I think stands.

      • Matt M says:

        It’s almost as if this isn’t actually about police brutality at all…

      • NostalgiaForInfinity says:

        They haven’t killed anyone but they have had some issues with their conduct with black Bristolians.

        Police killings in the UK are much rarer than in the US, but that doesn’t mean there’s no problem. It might be a bit strange that these protests have been triggered by what’s going on in the US but it’s not weird that there are protests.

        And they did have a statue of a slave trader in the city centre.

        • Tarpitz says:

          I happily accept that Avon and Somerset Police fail to meet the bar of no misconduct ever. I still think it’s pretty daft to think much of the substantive complaints about use of force by or impunity of police in the States apply to Britain. It is very much not just a case of fewer guns leading to fewer deaths but everything else much the same.

    • Aftagley says:

      So, you haven’t been to any protests, presumably haven’t talked to any protesters and don’t have any first-hand experience with them and yet you know they’re secretly just doing this because they’re bored… how exactly?

      • J Mann says:

        That’s his model, and he put it here to be challenged (while conceding he doesn’t know it to be true).

        My intuition is that the protestors are sincere, but that if we hadn’t been paying people to stay home/making them stay home for two and a half months, they’d be smaller. No way to run the counterfactual, though.

        • Edward Scizorhands says:

          Compromise position: black people protesting are sincere. White people protesting are bored.

      • cassander says:

        Because he’s met people? That’s not the only reason they’re doing it, but I think it’s mad to assume that 3 months of lock-down didn’t have an effect on people’s behavior. the protesters are sincere, and they also all have cabin fever.

        • Matt M says:

          I see no particular evidence that lockdown-induced boredom is a contributing factor here.

          Don’t get me wrong, I understand the logical thought process behind the assumption. It makes sense. I’m not saying it’s definitely wrong. But it doesn’t seem to obviously be the case.

          I guess one test could be something like “are the protests better or worse in areas that locked down more or less severely?” but that itself is probably largely correlated with blue/red tribe in general which also correlates with protest activity, so it’s hard to say. Maybe compare like Colorado to Michigan (both generally blue, but former had much less lockdown than latter) and see how protest intensity measures up?

          • cassander says:

            most people like having parties with lots of other like minded people. for 3 months, those parties have been illegal. Now they’re legal if you’re protesting and nothing else is. that is a strong inducement to protest, on top of other strong inducements like genuine outrage, nice weather, lots of other people doing it, the fading fear of corona (particularly for the young), and others. conditions were ideal for some sort of mass something to break out.

    • keaswaran says:

      The counterfactual seems clear – if we hadn’t been in the pandemic, the protests wouldn’t have caught fire. We have very clear evidence for this based on similar police atrocities at various points over the last six years.

      But I’m not sure exactly what conclusion we are supposed to draw from that. Should we think that the cause is less likely to succeed because of this counterfactual? This seems wrong given how much official response there already has been, from corporations changing their spending patterns to cities beginning specific new policies around policing.

      Should we infer that the people involved aren’t actually sincere about their support? It seems that here it’s hard to distinguish this from the opposite – that in pre-pandemic years, people’s sincerity was hidden, because the veneer of ordinary working life kept them out of the protests, but now they are free to express their “real” opinions. Obviously there’s no particular evidence for this claim, but it seems like it should be just as plausible as the other, unless you define “real” opinions in terms of some concept of normalcy, that allows wage-slavery to count as normalcy but not pandemic protection.

      • Matt M says:

        The counterfactual seems clear – if we hadn’t been in the pandemic, the protests wouldn’t have caught fire. We have very clear evidence for this based on similar police atrocities at various points over the last six years.

        IMO, Trump is more of a confounder here than the lockdowns.

        We had some pretty large scale BLM and occupy protests during the Obama administration. But those were, in a way, limited by the fact that most protesters didn’t want Obama to look bad. Now that Trump is the face of America, no such reservation exists. He can’t plead with them to stop (even if he wanted to, which he doesn’t) because they wouldn’t listen. I think most of them believe their actions are decreasing his likelihood of re-election (whether this is true or not remains up for debate).

        • Some Troll's Serious Discussion Alt says:

          Electionbettingodds.com seems to think so. Since the protests started Trump and Biden have basically switched places, with Trump droppin into the low 40s and Biden breaking 50%

        • keaswaran says:

          But I thought there have been moderate-sized BLM activities that fizzled out even during the Trump era. Wasn’t the whole Kaepernick thing under Trump?

          Although now that I look at it, I do see a lot more recognizable names from 2014, 2015, 2016 than from 2017, 2018, 2019.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Lives_Matter#Timeline_of_notable_US_events_and_demonstrations

          So maybe you’re right that Trump’s presence has kept things quiet, and it’s only become unlocked after the coronavirus.

      • zzzzort says:

        This seems right to me, though I think the protests have been building since ferguson so that a lot of normie white kids have come around to the idea that protesting about police brutality is a good thing.

        The phrase ‘never let a crisis go to waste’ comes to mind. On the other side Trump is using the economic conditions to justify ending a bunch of regulations. Everyone would agree that weakening environmental standards was a goal beforehand and permanently ending regulations doesn’t have much to do with a temporary crisis, but this is a unique chance to make some big changes so he’s taking it.

      • Nancy Lebovitz says:

        “The counterfactual seems clear – if we hadn’t been in the pandemic, the protests wouldn’t have caught fire. We have very clear evidence for this based on similar police atrocities at various points over the last six years.”

        I don’t think it’s clear because the world doesn’t always run in a smooth liniear fashion. It does a lot of the time, but there are also last straws and sudden breaks.

        In the case of filmed police brutality, each new instance is amplified by previous instnaces.

        The lockdown might have adding somewhat, but I don’t think it’s the only thing going on.

        • John Schilling says:

          Yeah, I think protests+riots of at least this magnitude were going to happen sooner or later. Anything less would neither achieve decisive results, nor satisfy the itch to Do Something About It. Exactly which dead black man would be the trigger incident involved an element of chance, and lockdown-induced boredom and aggravation kicked up the odds for Floyd being the trigger enormously, but if not Floyd now, someone eventually.

    • AG says:

      How does this logic not also apply to the behavior of the cops, for dual escalation? Outside of pandemic, many more of the cops would be spending their time policing the rest of the populace that wasn’t at the protests, and wouldn’t be so bored that tear gas happy fun times was a nice diversion.

      • AG says:

        Also relevant: Law Enforcement Seized Masks Meant To Protect Anti-Racist Protesters From COVID-19.

        This on top of the stories of how police have pulled down masks, attacked medics, and kept detained people scrunched up together.

        So the police definitely don’t give a shit about keeping a lid on the pandemic, either, but apparently only for the protests that are against police brutality, whereas the actual anti-lockdown protest all got to quietly get their temperature checked.

        • rumham says:

          So the police definitely don’t give a shit about keeping a lid on the pandemic, either, but apparently only for the protests that are against police brutality, whereas the actual anti-lockdown protest all got to quietly get their temperature checked.

          This is some…interesting framing. I haven’t seen this particular take before. You seem to be saying that the anti-lo