No Minister

The Penny Begins To Drop

We usually think that the reason that laws are obeyed is that if they’re not we’re going to be punished in some way, starting with regulatory refusals and escalating all the way to the use of armed force by the Police.

Where you sit on that scale is entirely dependent upon the degree to which you are willing to cooperate with the law. The more you resist the State the worse it gets for you.
Certainly the Left, always under the yoke of opppression in our societies, feel all this keenly and thus yearn to be the ones with the power to enforce the laws they want. And in the last three months in New Zealand they’ve had their chance – and then some.
But in fact our entire system of law and order actually relies upon cooperation by we as a people, not on the State’s use or threat of force. We cooperate because the alternative is anarchy of the most primitive sort, as we are now seeing in Minneapolis and other American cities. We cooperate because we collectively think it best to do so.
That theory also works from a utilitarian viewpoint; were we to choose not to obey a law or laws on a mass scale then there is no amount of Police that could stop it, at least not in a free society. In a Police State huge numbers of people can be controlled by very small numbers, but even to reach that point requires the people to be terrorised and murdered in large numbers for years to really have an effect, and the effect never lasts. Such regimes always collapse from the very conditions they enforce.

There was an interesting article published ten years ago in the depth of the GFC that pointed this out, at least from one perspective of financial problems, The Coming Middle-Class Anarchy:

True story: A retired couple I know, Brian and Ilsa, own a home in the Southwest. It’s a pretty house, right on the manicured golf course of their gated community (they’re crazy about golf). 

The only problem is, they bought the house near the top of the market in 2005, and now find themselves underwater. They’ve never missed a mortgage payment — Brian and Ilsa are the kind upright, not to say uptight 60-ish white semi-upper-middle-class couple who follow every rule, fill out every form, comply with every norm

Brian and Ilsa are salt-of-the-earth people: They put four kids through college, they always paid their taxes. The last time Brian broke the law was in 1998: An illegal U-turn on a suburban street.

So they applied to the HAMP (Home Affordable Modification Program) program to help and after jumping through many paper hoops for three months they get approved. Then they get a letter from the bank saying that they don’t qualify and on top of that, they owe backpayments for the months of reduced rent, plus interest. So they’re depressed and pissed off – although as the writer says:

Now, up to this point, this is just another sob story of the Mortgage Mess—and as sob stories go, up to this point, it’s no big deal.

But then he goes on to point out that something else is going on here:

Brian and Ilsa — the nice upper-middle-class retired couple, who always follow the rules, and never ever break the law — who don’t even cheat on their golf scores — even when they’re playing alone (“Because if you cheat at golf, you’re only cheating yourself”) — have decided to give their bank the middle finger.

They have essentially said, Fuckit.

“We follow the rules, and look where that’s gotten us?” she says, furious and depressed. “Nowhere. They run us around, like lab rats in a cage.”

They decide not to default but to simply keep paying the minimum and dare the bank to foreclose.

But Ilsa is quietly, constantly insisting that they stop paying the mortgage altogether: “Everybody else is doing it—so why shouldn’t we?”

A terrible sentence, when a law-abiding citizen speaks it: Everybody else is doing it — so why don’t we?

Shades of what I wrote about in Middle Class Warfare, but I was also reminded of this while reading the following article by Elle at Homepaddock yesterday, Rules only for the rule-abiding:

Businesses are failing.
Jobs are being lost.
Diagnosis and treatment of serious illnesses have been delayed.
People have died and given birth alone.
Funerals, weddings and other gatherings have been restricted.
Rest home residents have been denied visits from family.
People have been prevented from worshiping, playing sport, celebrating and socializing with family and friends.
For more than two months we’ve been severely restricted in what we can do and where, with whom and when we choose to do it.

But thousands of people have been allowed to protest over the death of George Floyd.
That murder was atrocious but it’s no excuse for flouting the Level 2 rules by which  most of us, however unwillingly, have been abiding.

Black lives matter and so do all the lives and livelihoods of everyone else.

If there is no risk from ignoring the rules for a protest, there is absolutely no excuse for keeping us at Level 2 where the rules are obviously only there to curtail the rule-abiding.

Going back to the 2010 article:

TV has given us the illusion that anarchy is people rioting in the streets, smashing car windows and looting every store in sight. But there’s also the polite, quiet, far deadlier anarchy of the core citizenry — the upright citizenry — throwing in the towel and deciding it’s just not worth it anymore.

Heh, when I talked of the Middle Class revolting I didn’t mean this:

A pair of Brooklyn lawyers are facing federal charges for throwing a Molotov cocktail into a New York Police Department cruiser during riots following the death of George Floyd in police custody.

Colinford Mattis, 32, a Princeton graduate and member of a New York community board, and Urooj Rahman, 31, a lawyer and Fordham alumnus who recently lost her job, were arrested and charged with attempting to damage or destroy law-enforcement vehicles on Saturday after a surveillance camera recorded the incident.

Written by Tom Hunter

June 1, 2020 at 9:16 pm

20 Responses

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  1. Jesusonapogostick, Tomas, you are finally starting to get it.The system is rigged against the people.The system is designed to work only for the very, very wealthy.Hard working honest people are simply fodder for the maw of Capitalism.The only way to save people like Brian and Illsa is to tear the system down and build a new, more people responsive system. The Billionaires must be abolished. The massive wealth transfer from the bottom to the top must be ended. Banks must be stripped of all activities other than effecting the safe custody and transfer of money. Corporations must be prevented from venue shopping and made to pay tax in the nations where their income is earned. All \”tax havens\” must be treated as a threat to democracy and social order and be treated no better than North Korea.Maybe there is some hope for you yet.

    Anne Tiffa

    June 1, 2020 at 10:25 pm

  2. Tom … thank you for this post. It's a wake up call. You can push people only so far. When it gets to the point that society collectively sez that the powers that be have got it wrong and can/should be defied then you have a major problem. Yesterday was a case at point … the vast majority of us know we should be at level 1 NOW. It ain't business as normal and thousands of people are losing their livelihood each week yet the muppets who inhabit the Beehive think they know better.Right now Ardern is left looking weak and stupid and it didn't need to be so. A smiley face and exhortations to be kind doesn't cut the mustard when you're sitting on a crock.

    The Veteran

    June 1, 2020 at 10:46 pm

  3. AT … the show pony for Antifa … how do you abolish billionaires … shoot them? If you strip banks from their lending function who do you go to … the gummit … yeh right … vote the right way and you (may) get that loan. Sorry, your utopia ain't my utopia and your identification as a supporter of the 'hard left' makes your views irrelevant to thinking New Zealanders.

    The Veteran

    June 1, 2020 at 11:01 pm

  4. Anne Tiffa said…Jesusonapogostick, Tomas, you are finally starting to get it.I got it a long time ago when I saw the Republican Party berated for not supporting the TARP bill the first time it came up, which would rescue banks from their own stupid behaviour. A number of Democrats voted against it also. But they all got TINA'd into it as the economy froze up so it went through on the second vote.Even some bankers themselves refused to take the resulting money from the Bush administration, saying that they didn't need it because they weren't the ones who'd fucked up.And that was aside from the multi-trillion dollar handouts by the Fed to those banks.What I won't get of course is your alternative; your pathetically poorly thought out Communist State utopia that has failed every time it's been tried, in which people like me, Brian and Lisa will be even more fucked over by the powers that be, which will of course include you living your statist, police dream.Oh don't tell me: your type of communism has never been tried.

    Tom Hunter

    June 1, 2020 at 11:11 pm

  5. Veteran, no one needs to die. But why is violence always top of mind for you?We can rejig the tax system to capture the gains for the good of society.One of the benefits of capitalism, I am told, is that it leads to the efficient allocation of resources. If a person is sitting on a pile of billions $ then that is inefficient. The money can only be efficiently allocated if is is put to work, buying, building, making. Not hoarded.We do not need billionaires, they are a dead weight on any nation.And don't tell me that people need an incentive to create new businesses, opportunities, products. Do you really think Jobs and Wozniak sat around in their garage planning how many yachts they'd buy? No, they were focused on creativity, doing something that hadn't been done before. The money came later, far later. And too much money changes behaviour. From trying to reduce tax paid, billionaires move to avoiding all taxes by shifting money, thereby denying the community valuable funding, and placing a bigger tax burden on workers. Why do you think they favour consumption taxes over income taxes? Because they would pay far more tax on income than they do on consumption.

    Anne Tiffa

    June 1, 2020 at 11:46 pm

  6. But why is violence always top of mind for youThis comment brought to you by Antifa.No, they do not appreciate irony.

    Tom Hunter

    June 1, 2020 at 11:51 pm

  7. AT … ate you able to let us into the secret as to which of the Antifa cohorts you subscribe to … the anarchist, Marxist or hard left socialist wing? … and don't come the raw prawn with me re violence. Your mob makes a meal of violence and happily engages in digital activism, property damage and physical violence against those they identify as deserving of their attention.

    The Veteran

    June 2, 2020 at 12:05 am

  8. Some guy in France is trying to tell us what & how we should think again..Oddball


    June 2, 2020 at 12:09 am

  9. And don't tell me that people need an incentive to create new businesses, opportunities, productsThe evidence of communist societies is that creating wealth is the best incentive. And your reference to Jobs is funny because he often talked about his path through hippy communities of cooperation, sharing etc in the 1970's – only to find they were human, which meant food he'd made getting nicked from the fridge, among other things. He realised it was a crock of shit. And too much money changes behaviour. With some people sure. Again, that's human. But it clearly didn't in the case of Jobs, who was just as creative to his dying day, as Apple shareholders were thankful for as he multiplied their wealth ten-fold.Same with the likes of Musk and your great nemisis, Bezos, who is currently pushing his own private space company as hard as he can with an eye on humanity settling on more than one rock for survival. Sounds pretty altruistic to me given he's not made a dime from it yet: he seems driven. And of course even if he were not altruistic it's the old Adam Smith principle at hand again, as his personal goals will benefit the rest of us, or our descendants more likely.

    Tom Hunter

    June 2, 2020 at 12:15 am

  10. The Veteran – I have been watching events unfold, and I am not seeing ANTIFA- Drive police cars into non violent crowds- Drive Pickups emblazoned with Trump logos into peaceful crowds- Drive a fully loaded semi into peaceful crowds- Arrest journalists for doing their job- Inflame the situation by adding fuel to the fire- Tweet about people being torn up by vicious dogs for exercising their right to protest.- Attend an NFL game in the full knowledge that we were only there to walk out when Colin Kaepernick \”took a knee\”.- Demand the NFL sack Colin Kaepernick for engaging in a peaceful protest.These have all come from the people ANTIFA stands against.

    Anne Tiffa

    June 2, 2020 at 1:54 am

  11. And now we have Dumpster Fire Donnie threatening to do what he explicitly prevented from doing.If a city or state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them.Not unless he his planning on staging a full on coup and using The Insurrection Act.An independent judiciary would put a stop to that. We had one, once, but not so now.

    Anne Tiffa

    June 2, 2020 at 2:00 am

  12. AT … answer the question.

    The Veteran

    June 2, 2020 at 2:21 am

  13. Does a rhetorical question need an answer?Maybe you could answer a question about why you try to blame ANTIFA for things being done by white supremacists, racists, and fascists.

    Anne Tiffa

    June 2, 2020 at 2:31 am

  14. Four days ago it was a legitimate protests giving voice to the voiceless. It's the only way White people will listen.Two days ago when it was obvious that shit was spinning out of control it was White Nationalists, White Supremacists. Hell I've even seen people on Twitter and the Blogosphere blaming the Russians (again).Next up will be the Police causing the violence.

    Tom Hunter

    June 2, 2020 at 2:58 am

  15. Does that mean the known antifa terrorists, and the many black and brown faced rioters, are \”crisis actors\” hired by these \”right wing extremists\” to be the fall guy?If these riots and arsons are started by \”right wing extremists,\” why are leftwing celebrities and Biden staffers paying charity funds to get them out of jail?I think that what's going on here is that US progressives (I think we can drop the label \”liberal\” now, since they have) approve of Antifa, and think they're Heroes Who Punch Nazis. Just like Chris Cuomo and the MSM have told them for several years now. CNN especially has been running defence for them, which made the attacks on CNN HQ in Atlanta richly ironic.But all these little progressives (small \”p\”) don't like seeing churches burned down or stores being looted.So they've made up a fiction – a conspiracy theory – to ease their cognitive dissonance: that while it may appear that Antifa and BLM are doing all this, in conjunction with the local thugs, it's really Right Wing Extremist instigators who are tricking peaceful antifa types to do these things, or doing them themselves.

    Tom Hunter

    June 2, 2020 at 3:02 am

  16. That's right Tomas, it was ANTIFA, CNN and George Soros who- Ran the Tuskegee experiments.- Bombed wealthy black neighborhoods \”back into the stone age\”.- Gutted funding to the DHS Countering Violent Extremism project- Outsourced water in Flint to an untreated, contaminated source.- Murdered Fred Hampton and Mark Clark- Ran Operation INFEKTION- Ran an unrelenting and unfair demonization of a squeaky clean POTUS, simply because he was a Black Man.- Carried out \”Mississippi Appendectomies\”.- Used dogs, pepper spray and batons against The Water Protectors at Standing Rock.- Tagged groups such as PETA, The Quakers, Thomas Merton Center, Greenpeace as \”terror groups\” when the crimes they had supposedly committed were trespass and vandalism.Yes, us \”Lefties\” sure have a lot to answer for.I bet you wish your white supremacist friends could come up with programs like those.

    Anne Tiffa

    June 2, 2020 at 3:45 am

  17. Next up will be the Police causing the violence.Well, if you don't think a cop murdering a black man while 3 other cops looked on, and a police department that didn't think a murder investigation was warranted incitement, I don't know what you would accept.You know, its funny, but no one has ever written a song :\”Fuck The Fire Department\”. Why do you think that is?

    Anne Tiffa

    June 2, 2020 at 3:47 am

  18. It was people like you who killed a hundred million humans in the 20th century in trying to build a new, more people responsive system.…ߤ㰟䣰ߤ㰟䣰ߤ㰟䣰ߤ㰟䣰ߤ㰟䣰ߤ㰟䣰ߤ㰟䣰ߤ㰟䣰ߤ㰟䣰ߤ㰟䣰ߤ㰟䣀… and have spent ever since saying that's not us.Just like now.

    Tom Hunter

    June 2, 2020 at 3:51 am

  19. Name them.

    Anne Tiffa

    June 2, 2020 at 4:00 am

  20. The Communist Party of the Soviet UnionThe Communist Party of ChinaThe Socialist Unity Party of GermanyThe Communist Party of HungaryThe Communist Party of PolandThe Communist Party of VietnamThe Khmer Rouge…List of Communist PartiesIt's a long list…ߤ㰟䣰ߤ㰟䣰ߤ㰟䣰ߤ㰟䣰ߤ㰟䣰ߤ㰟䣰ߤ㰟䣰ߤ㰟䣰ߤ㰟䣰ߤ㰟䣰ߤ㰟䣀

    Tom Hunter

    June 2, 2020 at 4:09 am

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