The Sensible Knave

"I do not see that we are further along today than where Hume left us. The Humean predicament is the human predicament." - W.V.O. Quine

Monday, September 18, 2006

The Streetcorner Mentality

Suppose your community has a streetcorner where all of the local hooligans congregate. There, they loiter, cuss, smoke, and generally make nuisances of themselves. Just get rid of the streetcorner, and you'll do away with the hooligans, right?

Not many people think it's just that simple, of course. Won't the hooligans just go somewhere else? This point seems to get more obscured though when we deal with metaphorical hooligans, such as low-paying jobs. The single largest private American provider of low paying jobs, Walmart, has been much maligned and threatened, on this account. The mentality seems to be that if Walmart is no longer the largest provider of low paying jobs, then there will be that many fewer low paying jobs. To the extent that that's true, though, there are likely to be that many fewer jobs, period. You can get rid of the streetcorner, but you can't get rid of the hooligans.

I see a similar mindset among many far leftists. Capitalist societies, they'll say, are full of ambitious, greedy, and cruel people who think nothing of victimizing the less powerful. Maybe so, but will a socialist alternative solve this problem? Will abolishing capitalism do away with these people? Every society has positions of power, and they will attract the same bad elements. You can get rid of the streetcorner, but you can't get rid of the hooligans. You can only get rid of the corner shopkeeper who will shoo them away.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Politics is not the art of the possible. It consists in choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable".

4:10 PM  

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