I’m a Little Late On This One…

… but yesterday’s column from Victor Davis Hanson will break your heart. Mondoville hasn’t reached these levels yet, but then, we aren’t as trendy as California.

About profmondo

Dad, husband, mostly free individual, medievalist, writer, and drummer. "Gladly wolde he lerne and gladly teche."
This entry was posted in Culture. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to I’m a Little Late On This One…

  1. mike shupp says:

    My heart isn’t broken, but it bleeds. A bit.

    On the other hand, I recall my family’s mailbox being blown up in rural Ohio back about 1955 and a great deal of other theft and destruction observed in bucolic settings since then. It seems as a rule, there’s been ongoing low level strife in rural areas in the US since the days of Shay’s Rebellion, generally with “decent respectable” property owners like Hanson on one side confronting lower-class “riff-raff” on the other. The LCRR engages in vandalism, theft, “pointless” destruction of property and conspicuous lack of respect for their betters. The property owners resort to the (generally ineffectual) law, occasional attempts at intimidation ranging from legal harrassment to lynching, and frequent lamentations.

    My sneaking suspicion is that diligent searching would discover similar disorder in 17th Century England, 12th Century France, Tang Dynasty China, Hammurabi-period Mesopotamia, 30th Century BC Peru, and no doubt other places and periods. An onrariness built into human nature perhaps, or maybe the friction inevitably produced whenever a hierarchical social system bears down too firmly on a resentful, recalcitrant bottom class.

    Labeling all this as “crime” seems to miss a point — The Mafia engages in crime, embezzlers and (sometimes, some places) adulterers and corrupt contractors and speeding drunks are criminals. Punks, delinquents, truants, petty thieves, and public urinators are something else again, which we don’t seem to know how to handle.

    Liberal approaches (“More social workers! More unemployment compensation! More school nurses! More art and music courses to produce self-respect!”) are expensive and ineffectual. Moreover, they infuriate conservatives; the offenses are attacks on their property and their social status, after all. Mollycoddling punks rewards the undeserving, at the expense of decent people who haven’t received such breaks, it’s unfairly taxing in several senses.

    However, Conservative tactics (“Send ’em to the army! Send ’em to reform schools! More paddling! Give them bus tickets to Chicago! “) are also expensive and ineffectual and are likely to infuriate minoritites who feel unfairly picked on. They promote recidivism. Morever, they don’t fit so well in the modern world — reform schools are declining in number, the volunteer army is selective about whom it enlists, and the sort of social cohesion that once brought middle and upper class individuals together for collectively admonishing the behavior of the lower classes has pretty well evaporated.

    So Hansen and his neighbors in the Central Valley have problems. I don’t think they’re going to find solutions.

  2. mike shupp says:

    Taking another look at Victor Hansen’s problems, what’s going on here? Theft from his viewpoint, theft from a law enforcement viewpoint — hell, it’s theft from my viewpoint. Ditto, trespassing. And it’s a problem in places far from the rural parts of the Central Valley — cities like Los Angeles have the same problem: groups of people stealing wire and cable and metal of all types, which is eventually sold as scrap to refiners in the US or elsewhere, generally in car trunk sized lots for pennies on the pound. This has been going on for well over a decade, and no one seems to have come up with a cure (though the activity does seem to decrease when demand for scrap diminishes in China). We might outlaw the export of scrap metal, I suppose — I’ll let you guess how well Congress and shipping companies would go along with this.

    It’s an interesting question as to whether other countries have the same problem, or if it’s just something for Americans. I don’t have data, and I don’t know that anyone else has.

    The problem I see is that we’ve built scavenging into the American economy. We’ve got people dutifully sorting our their used cardboard and bottles for the trash each week. We’ve got other people traipsing along roadsides and parks looking for the loose metal can (I can recall nattily dressed middleaged men slipping into college classrooms to rummage through the trash cans even while professors were teaching their courses). It’s all tolerated, it’s All Good, and it helps the environment — it’s Recycling! And after a while, it just seems reasonable that your collection of old bottles in your trash container — doing no one any good! — ought to wind up in my pickup’s bed, headed for the handy dandy recycling center. And the spool of wire lying there at the corner of your garage. And those nice long pieces of rebar in the unattended bright yellow city truck. And…. and … and…

    Without videocams, it can get a little tough to tell industrious behavior from the illegal, I’m trying to say. Particularly if the culprit isn’t too clear on the concepts himself. I suspect we’re going to see a lot more videocams in our future; I suspect we’re going to see a lot of money going to research automated surveillance methods and identification systems. I suspect these are not going to be unfailing sources of joy and contentment.

  3. J. Otto Pohl says:

    Stealing copper wire for scrap metal happens here as well.

  4. mike shupp says:

    Thanks for the data. I’d have guessed otherwise that thievery in Ghana was more commercial in nature — thieves taking wire spools from one construction site and selling them to another site, with few questions asked, since that would have to be more profitable than selling wire to a reclaimation center. But … okay.

    Where else might this sort of behavior flourish? I’ll bet it’s an insane problem in Russia.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s