Walls, Liberty and Trust

When I was a kid in the village, I could tell what the oldest walls around fields or houses were.

You see, in the sixties the new, nice houses being built, would have very short walls.  Maybe four feet.  Walls more for decoration than for anything else.

This didn’t mean there was no theft, of course.  I mean, the smart woman brought in the wash from the line at night, and henhouses and rabbit hutches had as good a locking mechanism as a house’s.  Sometimes someone got over the little walls and took all your just-grown lemons, or whatever else.  That wasn’t unusual.  BUT no one would get over the walls and kill you and your entire family in your sleep, and the stories I heard from my grandmother about second-story men who engaged in home invasion were just that — stories that were safely in the past (to be fair, I think most of them were from her mother’s or grandmother’s time) and not at all scary, because they could never happen to us.

But the REALLY old houses in the village, the ones that probably dated back to the eighteenth century, not only had eight foot walls around them, but the walls were topped with bits of broken bottles so anyone trying to scale them would hurt himself badly.

More interestingly, the old fields (the village had clearly expanded greatly in the nineteenth and early twentieth century, mostly with migrants from the mountains, like my grandmother’s family) which again, I’d estimate had been farmed since about the eighteenth century, not only had the eight or ten foot tall walls topped with broken glass, but also gates at least as high and — importantly — faced with smooth sheets of metal in the front, so you couldn’t get a foothold to climb.

This makes sense in retrospect.  In that time it made sense only in light of grandma’s stories of bandits, but I’ve now read a lot about the Napoleonic wars.  I didn’t realize how devastating they’d been to people in Portugal.  Oh, sure, you heard stories like the boat bridge, which sank under the weight of people escaping Napoleon, and that’s one thing — the kind of tales that exist here about the civil war, say.

But then I read some memoirs of the peninsular war from British soldiers, and hey, well…  Stuff like all the cows in the country (even work oxen) being eaten, or stuff like the troops scouring entire regions for anything edible.  It appears neither the French nor the British were well provisioned as we think of it in the 21st century.  To an extent troops were expected to live off the land.  But Portugal was very close to the bone, and …  well, I now know why the broken bottles on top of very tall walls.  I suspect it was the only thing protecting one’s vineyards or fruit trees, very often.  It also explained why most of those were along the old Roman roads, still in use when I was a kid (of course.)  Because further in, in fields amid woods or whatever, there would often be no walls at all, or just bits of broken, knee-high wall (and sometimes just boundary stones written in Latin).  Apparently further in where invaders or counter invaders (sometimes I understand it was hard to tell the difference for peasants on the ground) didn’t reach, or were afraid to go lest they be ambushed, the local trust amid families that had been there forever, (and most of those family were old local families, at the time) kept the walls low.

Then came the nineteenth century, more prosperous, but still not great, and amid civil war and revolution and counter revolution, the walls were a little lower, and the gates might be wrought iron, and you could climb them.  But still, to get to grandma’s back patio where the door was open all day, you had to go past two gates, one of which had a lock (though I never saw it locked.)  And even though the big kitchen window gave out on the side patio, past a set of gates, grandma would put a big board into the frame at night, to block off anyone who might break the window and try to get in.

By the time my parents built their house in sixty eight, it had four foot tall walls and gates the same height, more of a symbolic barrier than a real one.  Of course all the windows had roll-down shutters of the kind here associated with store fronts.

Then the security measures started increasing.  First there was a gate between the garage and the house, locking, and keeping away anyone who might think to surprise us in the back patio.  (Which happened a couple of times before that, and could have got ugly if dad hadn’t been able to stop any intruder.)

And then… well, every time I go back, the walls have climbed a bit more, and are now slick marble-panels on the outside, and the gates are smooth and locking.  I’m half afraid next time I go back there will be broken glass (or more aesthetic spikes) atop the walls.  The last time there were bars in the windows, behind the shutters.

I honestly don’t know if crime is that bad, or if it’s a matter of my parents getting older and less able to defend themselves, plus living in a neighborhood where more people are older and less alert, so the neighbors hearing a disturbance won’t save you.  And also, of course, such neighborhoods attract bad elements as they tend to be easy prey.

But I do know that when I first came to the states it utterly blew my mind that people had decorations in their front yard, with not even a symbolic gate to protect them and NO ONE STOLE THEM.

In Portugal someone would steal these things even if they had no use at all for them.  By leaving them outside, you’re inviting someone to take them.

This morning we bought pumpkins (at last) to carve, and noted the vast bins of pumpkins outside the store, the trust it implies in people taking them inside to pay.

Someone here said something about Arab countries being full of people who want freedom/the blessings of liberty.

I believe them.  Portugal is too.  Many people will express disgust with the Shenanigans of governance, with corrupt authorities, with the general anything goes atmosphere, and will make comments about how much better it would be if–

But what you have to understand is that these people don’t know anything more about America than a cat knows of a king.  They will admire the results of American can-do and entrepreneurship, then commiserate with me when unemployment leaves us without health insurance, and tell me how much better they have it because the government takes care of them; they will talk about how it would be great to have honest policemen, but will expect to get out of a minor fine with a minor bribe; they will decry nepotism but be quite happy when their godfather gets them a job or a good deal on something.

In Arab countries (and in some regions in Portugal) this would extend to things like “there ought to be a law keeping these shameless women from going around in short skirts/short sleeves/etc.”

It’s easy to want liberty in the abstract, but in societies where individual rights, including the individual right to property are not a gut-level belief, it’s almost impossible to implement it.  You need to have citizens who have a minimum of trust among themselves, who view others’ property as sacred, who view others’ rights as inviolable to be able to have people truly govern themselves, without its rapidly devolving to the stuff of nightmares.

As our kids have been taught for the last forty years that the collective is more important, that those willing to hold on to their property or the fruits of their labors are greedy, and that (as Bernie supporters keep saying) one must care for “the people’ in great unwashed collective form, we are at risk of losing the ability to have that mutual trust and respect which is essential to self governance, too.

Cultures change very slowly, and it seems more so when it’s in the direction of liberty and trust.

One of the great flaws in classical SF was the assumption that the whole world could become a sort of extended America without those prerequisites.

It was a beautiful dream, but it’s not how things work.

And when the west welcomes large groups of immigrants who don’t understand the rule of law or the meaning of civic trust, it becomes very hard to keep self-government going.

It is essential immigrants assimilate or leave.  Oh, not in things like food and modes of dress.  That is not important.  But the assimilation of the principles of trust and individual rights?  That is essential.

Teach your children well, and explain to those who would be like us what it actually entails.

247 responses to “Walls, Liberty and Trust

  1. Reblogged this on The Arts Mechanical and commented:
    We forget that the only thing keeping us from building walls like this is trust. I’m also seeing lots of wall, high, with sharp stuff on top lately. Unfortunately a lot of things we rely on require a high degree of trust to keep operating. When that’s gone, it’s not going to be pretty.

  2. When I left São Paulo ten years ago, seven or eight foot spiked walls or fences were the norm. In the wealthy neighborhoods that meant wrought iron with close vertical bars and sharp fleur-de-lis on top, a motorized gate, and an intercom for the household help to tell you the senhor is not home so go away. In the kind of neighborhood I lived in, it meant cheap brick walls topped with broken bottles from the bar on the corner. Unless you lived in the public housing apartments *shudder* knocking on a door like Englishmen or Americans do was fairly alien: you stand at the gate and clap and someone may let you in. “Only enemies come over the wall.” My house here feels so exposed. That’s part of why I want a castle. Put a ten foot wall around a tract home, you’re a nut job; put a ten foot wall around a castle, and it’s a castle. 🙂

    • Around here most 8ft fences are because there’s a garden back there the deer want to eat. Castles are still awesome and I married a mason who is already talking about making our ‘fence’ out of brick. It’ll be expensive (mostly in materiels.) but it’ll be great. (Our castle substitute will also be brick, but not as impressive as the real thing.)

    • I was in Brazil back in 2000 for two weeks to do an EPRI thermal performance program audit at the Angra nuclear plant. we were put up at a nice resort about 5 miles from the plant. I noticed the resort was surrounded by a 10 ft high barb wire fence, 2″ apart with concertina wire at the top, and the posts were all 8″X8″ wood posts. I asked the manager about that and he told me that if they did not have that fence, the surrounding people in the poor villages would strip the place in 30 minutes of everything.

      I noticed the compounds the plant workers lived in were the same. All banks had armed guards inside and outside, as did all the bigger stores.

      The slums all had a lot of shabby houses with satellite TV receivers too….

    • The apartment I lived in for years, and moved out of shortly after the Rodney King riots, now has concertina wire along the top of at least some of its fencing.

  3. My Aunt lives in a ‘gated community’. Hers is one of the types that actually has guards in vehicles patrolling the community. I remind her that Heaven is a ‘gated community’. Few realize the amount of trust we used to have in this country. Apparently it is a rare and precious circumstance that we have squandered.

  4. In “The Last Centurion” John Ringo has the narrator reference a study that showed an inverse relationship between “multiculturalism” and societal trust (where you can loan your neighbor your lawn mower and expect to get it back at all, let alone intact).

    Switching from “melting pot” to “salad bowl” was a grave mistake. “E Pluribus Unum” without the “unum”.

    That, more than anything else, IMO, is what threatens to bring us down.

    Now, the song describes a past that never was, an ideal that was never realized. But it was the ideal toward which we as a nation strove. “Was”, as in “past tense.” Once upon a time bigots favored segregation and not allowing minorities to be part of mainstream society. Now the minorities are segregating themselves calling it “safe spaces” and the like.

  5. This complements well this morning’s sermon at church.

    >

  6. Ah, trust … I wrote about that a couple of weeks ago at Chicagoboyz myself:

    “Of all that has changed over the last decade in the general culture of the United States, I wonder if a widespread loss of trust in the political, media, intellectual and bureaucratic establishments is the most quietly catastrophic of all the damage done to our society of late. It is axiomatic that once trust in an individual, a friend or a spouse is lost, it can almost never be regained; one of those things which is easily, almost casually done, never to be completely repaired. I suspect that we will discover over the next few decades that the thinking and observing portion of our society will never regain that unthinking trust in our institutions, now that we have seen them become weaponized in open and politically partisan ways.”

    http://chicagoboyz.net/archives/49999.html

    • What many (more on the Left but yet some on the Right) tend to overlook is the role of unwritten rules. Once it was expected that major social legislation would only be enacted through sizable bipartisan majority vote. It was expected that political leaders would respect the filibuster, neither abusing nor over-using it.

      Honor was largely important, and even those lacking it took care to give the impression they followed it. Generosity in victory, respect in defeat was understood to be the standard, the code expected. Our leaders knew too well how temporary could be victory and so took care to treat the defeated as they hoped in turn to be treated.

      In sports it was considered disgraceful to “show up” your opponent — a batter standing to admire a home run was as likely to be scorned by teammates as decked by opponents. Any football player doing an end zone dance would sit on the bench for more than a few plays. Basketball players didn’t trash talk except as friends, and boxers avoided needlessly inciting their foes.

      It was possible to respect an opponent and allow them honorable intentions even while disagreeing with their means to those ends.


      Americans, wherever they lived, believed in The Code of the West.

    • The word “trustworthy” is not much a part of our daily conversation, anymore. These virtues must be spoken of, else they be lost.

  7. What a beautiful expression of the responsibilities the individual bears to his neighbors and the level of trust that is mutually exchanged. I live in a small town, the kind of place where the walls aren’t being built, not yet. My children live in similar small towns. When relatives visit and realize that we don’t lock our doors (unless we’ll be gone for days), they suffer a bit of a shock. I’ll trade the richer life of the city and its walls for the chance to spend a few minutes with my friends and neighbors in my little town. We’ll see how long we can make it last.

    • Where I grew up the only reasons for a wall in the back yard was to conceal the garbage bins and compost pile, and to give the boys playing whiffle ball a goal to hit home runs.

      Related, from FBI Director Comey:

      When I worked as a prosecutor in Richmond, Virginia, in the 1990s, that city, like so much of America, was experiencing horrific levels of violent crime.

      But to describe it that way obscures an important truth: for the most part, white people weren’t dying; black people were dying.

      Most white people could drive around the problem. If you were white and not involved in the drug trade as a buyer or a seller, you were largely apart from the violence. You could escape it.

      But if you were black and poor, it didn’t matter whether you were a player in the drug trade or not, because violent crime dominated your life, your neighborhood, your world.

      There was no way to drive around the violence that came with the drug trade and the drug trade was everywhere in your neighborhood. And that meant the violence was everywhere.

      The notion of a “non-violent” drug gang member would have elicited a tired laugh from a resident of Richmond’s worst neighborhoods.

      Because the entire trade was a plague of violence that strangled Richmond’s black neighborhoods. The lookouts, runners, mill-workers, enforcers, and dealers were all cut from the same suffocating cloth. Whether they pulled the trigger or not, those folks were killing the community.

      Like so many in law enforcement in the 1980s and 1990s, we worked hard to try to save lives in those Richmond neighborhoods—in those black neighborhoods—by rooting out the drug dealers, the predators, the gang bangers, the killers. Of course, we also worked “up the chain” to lock up big-time dealers all the way to Colombia.

      But we felt a tremendous urgency to try to save lives in the poor neighborhoods of Richmond….We did this work because we believed that all lives matter, especially the most vulnerable.
      https://www.fbi.gov/news/speeches/law-enforcement-and-the-communities-we-serve-bending-the-lines-toward-safety-and-justice

      HT: Scott Johnson at Power Line

      • And Director Comey’s story is why so many oppose criminalization of drugs. Because that’s why the drug gangs are saturated with violence*. Neither the buyer nor the seller can resort to the courts to settle disputes, so violence and the threat of violence (ever wonder why the sterotypical gang-banger holds his pistol sideways and above his head? It’s because he wants to be seen shooting, but doesn’t want to actually hit anyone. The former is necessary for his reputation, the latter would result in a war of retaliation.) are necessary to solve the moral hazard problem. This of course empowers those who are most comfortable and proficient with violence, so an ever deepening spiral of violence commences, with those too poor to escape caught in the middle.

        *It might be more accurate to say that the profits from the drug trade allow violent gangs to purchase the tools of increased mayhem. Violent gangs certainly existed in poor neighborhoods prior to drug prohibition, but they were relatively confined in size and scope.

        • The reason violent gangs have increased in size and scope is due to massive population increases. They have existed for all of recorded history and wielded varying amounts of power over that time. Some old gangs wielded comparatively more power than their modern incarnations. It’s foolish to think that decriminalization of drugs will significantly curtail violent gang activity. Considering that decriminalization of drugs will be followed by taxation and regulation, then this viewpoint gets incredibly naive since this inevitability will keep the black market and its associated violent crime alive and well.

          Gangs are a result of culture and/or socio-economic status. Comparisons with various European drug laws at this point ultimately fail because of the massive cultural and demographic differences.

          Personally, I’m all for removing every single prohibition on all drugs, right after reducing the size and scope of the welfare state…and not a second before. Since my fellow Americans are reaching into my wallet to pay more and more of the costs of public health, then I’ve got a vested interest in the matter.

          • ” Considering that decriminalization of drugs will be followed by taxation and regulation,”

            Depends on the degree of taxation and regulation. Gasoline is taxed and regulated, but there isn’t a large violent black market in it because it is easier and cheaper to just pay the taxes than to provide for security. Legalize heroin and cocaine and the drug cartels will be competing against the likes of Bayer and Pfizer. They will lose. Legalize methamphetamine and nobody will be blowing up trailers in the backcountry for the same reason nobody tries to make ammunition in the back shed; it’s not worth the risk.

            Price gangs out of the drug market and you eliminate the economic incentive to join a gang. The psychological incentives will of course remain, but psychopaths are a small minority and have trouble accruing the money necessary to become large problems.

            • Look at alcohol- once prohibition was repealed, bootlegging and moonshining went from major sources of crime to fairly minor.

            • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

              Yep, Legalize drugs and the violent punks will settle down to get an education and work 9-5 jobs. [Sarcasm]

              Society isn’t doing a good job now of encouraging those types to get an education and get real jobs so how will killing the illegal drug trade “make” them reform?

              • It is kind of hard making a living selling something that’s not really worth all that much.

                • Politicians sell their integrity all the time and seem to make a pretty good living of it.

                  • Politicians don’t sell their integrity, they sell the ability to write laws. And that is worth a pretty penny.

                • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                  Then they’ll find another “job” that allows them to be violent. Sorry, they learned only to do violence so they’ll find some other way to be violent. Drugs are IMO an excuse not the reason for the violence.

                  • Certainly they would seem to have the background, the aptitude, the training and the experience to fill openings at the IRS, TSA and Department of Education.

                    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                      Well, normally I won’t put much past those groups but I can’t see them wanting people who’d use violence at the drop of a hat. [Wink]

              • Not the violent punks, but the ones who join the gang as a way to money and women.

                • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                  What are you going to do about the violent punks?

                  • Violent punks will always be with us. I’d just like to get rid of a multi billion dollar drain of our taxes that also reduces the rights of those who aren’t violent punks, i.e., the “War on Drugs”.
                    What we’re doing now is not in the least slightest even close to a shade of working. Either we go more statist, or we go more freedom. I’d like to see more freedom.

                    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                      Sorry, but you *appeared* to be saying that legalizing drugs would eliminate the violent punks.

                    • This assumes your conclusion– that the “war on drugs” we’ve got is worse than what would otherwise be.

                      That is far from agreed on, especially by those here with long term exposure to where it’s less enforced.

                      It’s also practically a religious argument that won’t be dislodged with any sort of logic, so I’m not going to attempt to argue it further.

                    • First, alcohol is addictive and can be damaging.
                      Second, we tried a ban on alcohol, and it didn’t work.
                      Third, we’re trying the same thing with other drugs, and it’s not working.
                      Will all the problems go away if we stop banning drugs? Maybe, maybe not.. but at least I would be able to buy cough medicine that works.

                    • In fact,it’s hard to name an negative affect of illegal drugs that doesn’t also apply to alcohol. Aggressive behavior- check. Addiction- oh, yeah. Physiological damage when abused- yep. Potential for intoxication at really bad time- yep.

                    • The tax money spent on drug interdiction pales in comparison to the increased costs to the public health system. Take the example of cigarettes – the public health costs of smoking exceed its tax revenues by an order of magnitude. Similar for alcohol. Increase demand by tossing more drugs into the mix, then factor in the increasing taxpayer burden in our public health system, and you get a recipe for fiscal disaster.

                      I don’t usually get into the social costs of this, but there are precedents for this and they’re all disastrous. 19th century China probably being the bleakest. I usually stick with the fiscal aspects. Legalizing drugs because of FREEDOM! is great and all, but only makes sense when you abolish the larger system which actually stifles it – the welfare state.

                      Otherwise, you’re just advocating for a way chemically escape the reality of a leviathan state with a little less hassle.

                  • Two to the chest, one to the head.

                  • Jail them and/or kill them. There should be plenty of capacity once we’re not imprisoning drug traffickers.

                • Having seen what happens to the kids who are rich enough to afford the drugs that are too new to be illegal yet? I strongly doubt that making it all legal will decrease the problems a single jot. (Hawaii had, and presumably still has, a thriving drug trade that we got regular updates on so we knew where to avoid and shiny 18 year olds wouldn’t do something stupid before they realized they were not being offered some new mix of alcohol but an actual spiked drink with something VERY bad, as in ’caused 3 deaths in its first 2 days on the street’ bad.)

                  • At a single jolt? No. There are plenty of people who have invested in the industry as it exists. More than a few of them will try to cross over into a related high-violence field. Long term, however, we will decrease – not eliminate – the incentives to joining gangs.

                    • Drugs aren’t the primary incentive to join gangs (Source: Staff Sergeant who joined the Army so he wouldn’t have to join a gang, and several others like him). They’re just one way the gangs make money. And I said a single JOT. I don’t think it will reduce the gang violence or the issues even a tiny bit.

              • They’ll get so many drugs that they’ll OD and take themselves out of the equation. Not my circus not my monkeys. I believe in keeping drugs illegal. They should not be making it harder for law abiding citizens to get their prescriptions filled.

                • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                  Nod, there are problems with the current “War On Drugs” but I’m not convinced that “Legalizing Drugs” is the proper answer.

                  Too many people (not you personally) seem to have this “religious” view that legalizing drugs is the only answer.

            • It may have been topped by now, but about ten years back they made a record breaking drug bust in Washington State.

              Cigarettes.

              Other drugs get more attention because they make crimes two ways– the criminals providing them, and the addicts getting the money to buy them.

              • Read “Wiseguy” sometime (the basis for “Goodfellas”). The guys would steal, and then sell pretty much anything they could get their hands on.

                • In his autobiography, Harpo Speaks Harpo tells of receiving a watch as a present and having the hands removed so that his older brother, Chico, wouldn’t swipe it and hock it for gambling money.

                • One of the guys I was stationed with use to be a drug dealer. (never convicted, and he told the recruiter; shortly pre-9/11)

                  He’d flatly brag about how addicts would bring him their kids’ Christmas presents, how he could point them in any direction and they’d steal anything he wanted, some of them that he’d hooked himself.

                  He figured it was OK, since they’d chosen to take the first, free taste, which meant he had power over them in the form of the thing they were addicted to.

                  I’m sure you’ll be shocked to find out that the coffee mess fund kept turning up empty at times when only him and a random other person was in the shop.

            • Gasoline is also not an addictive drug and requires prohibitively expensive overhead to produce. For an apples to apples comparison, look at the thriving black market for prescription medication.

              And prescription meds require a comparatively large infrastructure for production. Now consider the relatively low-cost infrastructure which already exists for illegal drugs. Why would a grower/producer go through the government bureaucracy to create a legal production system which is going to jack up his overhead to non-competitive levels? Of course they won’t; it makes no economic sense. As such, there’s no way that large drug companies will be able to undersell the black market.

              • Except prescription drugs are highly regulated. Why would a producer go through the legal distribution system? Because the black market has costs associated with it. Those violent men who are necessary to solve the moral hazard problem on the black market don’t work for free. The courts are paid for out of tax money, which makes them a sunk cost. Keep the regulatory overhead below the costs of going to the black market and producers aren’t going to bother with it.

                • You sure? The black market infrastructure is already there, the legal isn’t. The legal will take time to build and why would they want to let the government in on a cut of their profits? This isn’t like prohibition which took something that was legal, made it illegal, and in a very short period of time made it legal again.

                  • Well Washington and Colorado are successfully building the legal infrastructure, especially considering the difficulties stemming from the federal bans and the resulting legal uncertainty making things like banking services difficult to acquire. It’s not like creating a storefront or a distribution system is arcane knowledge.

                    And the legal system would result in higher profits for the producers, since it would cut out the costs they pay the black market and replace it with a system that they already pay for (every successful criminal since Capone has been fastidious about paying taxes).

                    • For Washington, I can tell you it’s not going successfully, and that’s after they didn’t have to build it– they just shifted the newly unemployed state run alcohol guys into the job, at least in theory.

                      Drug smuggling hasn’t gone down, and now it’s harder to catch the black market stuff; there’s suspicion that the gangs are now using theoretically legal weed shipments to smuggle harder drugs, in addition to their existing illegal drug smuggling routes.

                    • For one, very mild drug. One that was not particularly contentious to start with. Start crossing the meth dealers? The ones who sell the really hard stuff, the deadly stuff.

                • Also, we’re dealing with violent men who know any legal competition would NOT be violent men. Shooting the competition is already an established business practice.

                  • Except the legal sellers would have access to their own violent men: the police. You are now postulating that drug gangs will shoot up the local CVS to protect their profits, I guess based on the historical precedent of bootleggers shooting up bars after Prohibition ended.

                    • Check out the crime rate for even medical pot places in Washington State- and that ignores the open “secret” that the way to be safe is to be gang supported.

                      As you well know, the police can just try to solve crimes– not prevent them.

                    • Solving a crime and putting the perpetrator behind bars prevents all the crimes that perpetrator would have committed while in jail, and occasionally results in a reformed criminal that doesn’t commit any more crimes.

                      How many crimes at the pot dealerships stem (heh) from the fact that because of federal laws the dealerships are necessarily cash businesses?

                    • How many of the crimes are because they haven’t got a gang yet?

                      How many are by rival gangs?

                      If it being a cash business is what causes the rise in risk, why aren’t yard sales also targeted?

                      Or various other cash-only stores– little coffee shops have a slightly higher than grocery store rate of similar risks, but not nearly as high as the medical pot shops.

                    • Because grocery stores and coffee shops can take their cash into their bank every night. Pot shops don’t have banks because FedGov has told the banks that if they do business with companies that violate federal drug laws their assets could be seized by the DEA.

                    • You’re doing that thing where you respond to a somewhat related point you wish that others had made, rather than answering the ones they actually did.

                      That leads to ever wilder interactions until Sarah has to come in and shut it down, so I’m stopping it now.

                    • BobtheRegisterredFool

                      The police, who don’t have sufficient disparity in force to shut down the black market, are suddenly going to be able to force all the customers over to the white market?

                      The only way the police alone could alter things by force alone would be by quietly murdering all the druggies.

                    • No, the police would shut down those who would do violence against the legal supporters. It’s well known that currently the police don’t prioritize scarce resources in investigating crimes between gangs. Things are a bit different when law-abiding citizens are getting shot.

                    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                      Not if the violent thugs are minorities.

                    • No, I’m postulating they’ll be shooting up which ever pharmasuitical company decides to make the stuff rather than import it. We ARE talking about a group of crooks who are brazen enough to smuggle that stuff across the back range of a military base.

                    • Pharmaceutical companies don’t exactly have much presence in the natural ranges of drug gangs, and drug gangs aren’t exactly known for launching the kind of expeditionary attacks you’re positing.

                      I think you also overestimate the amount of care the military places in their back ranges. Unless you’re talking about the core base where all the people are or an active live-fire range, the security is little more than a fence with occasional patrols.

                    • Actually I’m VERY much aware of how much security a military base gives it’s back range given he briefing we received during an exercise about NOT shooting into the dark because there would be no night time exercises of that sort and we had blanks the people out there would have live rounds. It was still brazen as hell.

                      On the pharmaceutical companies, and their subsidiaries and buyers. You realize you’re making an excellent case for them getting shot up by the CURRENT suppliers of illegal drugs?

                    • By an appeal to the police you put us right back at the war on drugs, just give it another name. Nothing’s changed but the wall paper.

                    • Except that the drug gangs have lost their business, so they don’t have the capital to operate at their current level.

                    • You still haven’t proposed a reasonable way in which they’re going to loose that business, nor refuted what the others in this conversation have pointed out.

                    • Sure I have, you’re just too obtuse to realize it.

                      People prefer to shop on the white market, that’s why the white market exists. The only time people shop on the black market is when government interference makes the black market the cheaper solution. There aren’t a lot of tomatoes available on Silk Road after all.

                      Assuming legalization and that government keeps the tax and regulatory burden below the black market threshold (a dubious assumption, I grant) then the number of producers and suppliers will expand dramatically. Drugs are a commodity, which means their price is determined by production costs. That means the organizations that can enjoy the economies of scale will be able to drive prices down, while the expansion in the supply side of the market – which will no longer be under threat from law enforcement – will make the retaliatory attacks you fantasize about impractical and ineffectual.

                      The major value-adds that drug gangs provide today are smuggling and moral hazard protection. In a free market both of those are superfluous, so why would anyone pay their markup?

                    • And you are too obtuse to figure in human nature, and the expenses involved, especially when you start talking regulation. You haven’t addressed the cost of getting anything through the FDA, you just assume legal will be cheaper with exactly nothing backing it up. It’s not just ‘dubious’ it’s utterly and completely laughable. Your entire premise rests on this assumption and there is exactly nothing backing you up and in fact most everything points to exactly the opposite, which means you’re giving even MORE teeth to the people who have no compunction about committing murder. And less grounds to stop them BEFORE they commit murder or assault.

                      You haven’t addressed Foxfier’s points about the issues with the legalized marujana trade in Washington. You haven’t addressed the designer drug trade that I brought up which is far closer to what you idealize and still is deadly. Why should anyone pay the expense of going legit when it’s easier and cheaper to avoid those costs and just keep doing what they’ve been doing?

                    • And all you have is a long tirade begging the question. Get back to me when you have a non-fallacious argument.

                    • You first. You were the one with the original proposition. You are the one on whom the burden of proof rests. You are the one who is ignoring all counter points. All counter evidence. All experiences that do not line up with your own.

                    • You don’t have counterpoints, you’ve been beating up on a strawman. You don’t have counterevidece, just unsourced anecdotes. You’re the one making the assertion that basic economic principles of supply and demand do not or should not apply to the illegal drug trade. Prove it.

                    • You are the one simply assuming that the drug trade is a completely free market hindered only by ‘this is illegal’.

                    • That’s the thing about black markets, once you pierce the shell of illegal, they’re the freest markets we have. No taxes, no regulation, just artificially high barriers to entry.

                    • Your premise is what I am questioning. At a fundamental level the question is why do you simply assume that anything at all would change just because ‘it’s now legal’? Especially since you simply lump a ‘well of course the regulatory climate will favor the legal sales’? When, as mentioned in someone else’s example of the prescription drug industry simply is not so, especially since you have already postulated regulating the extant illegal recreational drugs. You can’t apply simple supply and demand accurately when you are discounting the majority of the real world situation: An unfavorable regulatory climate, pre-established extant delivery methods and systems (which are cheaper to maintain than establishing new ones, which the legal crew would have to do, and you discount though it’s been mentioned). You are discounting all facts you find inconvenient.

                    • My apologies. I did not see this before my last.

                    • Guys, this discussion has reached the point of ad hom and diminishing returns. Drop it please.

                    • Yeah, I’ve been waiting for that hammer to drop

                    • It would have dropped earlier, had I not been busy with house sale matters and a LONG *ss explanation of Portuguese politics in a private group on FB.

                    • You now my beliefs on the matter, but I deliberately stayed out of this one.

                    • … a LONG *ss explanation of Portuguese politics in a private group on FB.

                      Piffle. Most Americans don’t even understand our politics, and those who claim to are generally liars, charlatans and prostitute toe suckers.

                      Explaining the politics of another culture on FB is like performing Gilbert & Sullivan on Aldis lamp — not impossible but much is lost in the translation.

                • “Except prescription drugs are highly regulated.”

                  Of course they are. And that’s the point of comparison. Legalizing and regulating prescription medication has not hindered the illicit trade of them at all. In fact, legalization and regulation created the black market for prescription drugs. The biggest hindrance is the lack of technological sophistication required to create them – a barrier the recreational drug producers do not suffer from in the slightest.

                  “Why would a producer go through the legal distribution system? Because the black market has costs associated with it.”

                  This is only a partial answer, which still misses the mark. Yes, the black market has costs associated with it, but it is still cheaper and more profitable to trade them illicitly. The other reason is because producers dare not take the moral risk of losing their legitimate business.

                  Now consider that it’s much easier and cost effective for producers of the recreational drugs to continue to do business as usual. They do not require hundreds of millions of dollars of research and chemical processing/refinement, not to mention the legal and administrative costs of compliance with federal and state regulation, because…

                  “Those violent men who are necessary to solve the moral hazard problem on the black market don’t work for free.”

                  …while no one says otherwise, this particular bit of overhead doesn’t even rise to the level of chump change when compared to legitimate pharmaceutical development.

                  “Keep the regulatory overhead below the costs of going to the black market and producers aren’t going to bother with it.”

                  Well that’s the real trick now isn’t it? You must deny the current reality of our government as well as the readily available examples I’ve already mentioned for this idea to escape the realm of pure fantasy.

                  • Well I guess that explains why nothing can be bought outside the black market.

                    • Of course. When you ignore the context of the discussion leading up to that, that’s an easy quip.

                    • And when you ignore the entire point I’m trying to make, a quip is apparently the only thing that can get through.

                    • Right, because taking the time to respond in detail to each and every point you’ve made is ignoring those same points. Like the substance of your argument, your form relies on a clear denial of reality. It seems I’m not the only one calling you out on this, so you might find it wise to review the discussion.

                    • Seeing as how I just saw how this turned out upthread and that the hackles of our hostess have been raised, I’m going to follow her “advice” and drop it. I won’t be back to this thread. Good day.

        • Difference between drugs and alcohol is simple. Alcohol isn’t particularly addictive, and some drugs are addictive after the first use. Alcohol abuse comes with its own punishment – the hangover. Over consumption of alcohol generally involves vomiting, over consumption of drugs generally involves death.

          Abuse of both alcohol and drugs is a blight on any community. Please look back at history and discover why drugs were banned in the first place – they weren’t always illegal. I’ll give you a starting point – the opium wars. Then take a look at the highway fatality rates in Colorado over the last five years.

          When you have a substance that is cheap and available, which is almost instantly addictive, makes the user never want to do anything else ever again, and is accepted, even encouraged, by the general populace – you have a certain recipe for total societal collapse.

          A functional society requires people who aren’t stoned all the time. It’s just that simple. If you’d like a more philosophic treatise on the subject, you can check out the last couple issues of Sci Phi Journal. (Sorry, I forget the author’s name.)

          • Alcohol is addictive. Furthermore alcohol withdrawal, unlike opiate withdrawal, is extremely dangerous:

            Withdrawing alcoholics may suddenly collapse and die; they may have epileptic fits; and their terrifying hallucinations may prompt them to behave in bizarre and dangerous ways, for example by throwing themselves from high windows to escape the pursuing monsters.

            • He said alcohol wasn’t “particularly addictive”, and he’s right. The addictive qualities of alcohol just aren’t comparable to pure opium, heroin, or – because the comment wasn’t limited to “opiates” – crack cocaine, methamphetamine, or a host of other powerful drugs.

              Ditto for health effects, which in some cases result in rates of health deterioration that alcohol can’t even touch. As for alcoholics dying from sudden withdrawal, compare with how many drug users (prescription or illicit) that die from accidental overdose.

            • While I won’t argue with alcohol being addictive, or withdrawal being unpleasant and possibly dangerous, I must ask; have you ever watched someone cold turkey heroin? I must assume the answer is no, due to you using that as a comparison. While not all heroin addicts have hallucinations, vomiting, cold sweats and the shakes so bad they can’t hold onto a cup of coffee, certainly a higher percentage do than do alcoholics that give up drinking.

              • I point you to Romancing the Opiates by Theodore Dalrymple, a man who has seen more of both that either of us have, unless you actually worked in a detox ward.

                He’s seen a lot of those scenes. Tell the addict that they aren’t getting drugs that way, and the symptoms vanished remarkably.

                • I’ve no doubt that he has seen more than I have, but I have helped people quit heroin as well as been around a number of alcoholics that quit. In my experience the withdrawal symptoms of heroin are almost universally more severe, although generally of shorter duration; and according to studies the incidence of actual death is higher from alcohol withdrawal. The only actually “coding” I have known of personally (personal knowledge, not personally coding) was with heroin withdrawal, and I’ve never had to hold an alcoholic down by physical force to prevent them from doing something likely to be fatal. I will note that every SINGLE person who has quit tobacco as well as either heroin or alcohol, has stated that tobacco was much harder to quit; even though the withdrawal effects were physically milder.

          • “When you have a substance that is cheap and available, which is almost instantly addictive, ”

            Actually, opiates are not instantly addictive. It takes steady, daily use for months to addict. People have used opiates for years without getting addicted.

            The stories about instant addiction are chiefly put about by addicts, to make it easier to get their next fix.

            • Depends on the form the opiate takes. Morphine in high enough doses can be pretty close to instantly addictive.

              • Got a cite for that?

                • The classic “highly addictive” drug is only 2-3 times more powerful.

                  http://www.drugs.com/illicit/heroin.html

                  • That link does not give any length of time to addiction.

                    • You’re perfectly aware that abused drugs are neither issued in standard strengths nor standard doses, and that the sort of clinical trials required to get shortest, longest and average time to addiction would be highly immoral at best– and that’s before the issue of who’s defining addiction, since you’ve already shown a willingness to state that information is invalid because it’s from addicts trying to get another fix.

                    • Except that we have scads of cases of people using the stuff for years and years and years without being addicted. And even addicts who admit (when it’s not to their advantage to claim to be helpless victims) that it takes a long time.

                    • “you’ve already shown a willingness to state that information is invalid because it’s from addicts trying to get another fix.”

                      I must point out that addicts are notoriously willing to steal to get another fix. Why on earth would anyone not expect them to lie as well? (Plus — well, I recommend Romancing the Opiates which lists many cases studies where he can prove they are lying.)

                    • There is a distinction between expecting them to lie and assuming everything they say is false.

                      For actual data, Heather Mac Donald has a pretty good piece up at City Journal, where T. Dalrymple is also a frequent contributor. Here is an introduction as proffered at power Line:

                      In “The Decriminalization Delusion,” her deeply researched essay in our brand-new twenty-fifth anniversary issue, Heather Mac Donald shows how the growing movement to reduce incarceration (which has partisans on the right as well as the left) traffics in myths. The biggest myth of all, frequently promoted by President Obama, is that America’s prisons and jails are filled with nonviolent drug users, kids who’ve just had a bad break or two. The reality is that prisons are dominated by thugs and serial thieves, as she noted as well in last week’s Congressional testimony. If they’re returned in large numbers to city streets, crime is sure to rise—and we’re already seeing signs of it happening in California. This is the latest of Mac Donald’s major essays on crime and punishment, which will be anthologized in a book in 2016.

                      Mac Donald is an outstanding scholar who has done much serious research into debunking popular criminal justice myths. It might prove interesting if Dalrymple initiates a dialogue on the matter.

                      In the meantime, I trust y’all are aware that this is a largely pointless argument which is unlikely to change anybody’s position on the issue of decriminalization? Much heat, little light.

                    • I must point out that addicts are notoriously willing to steal to get another fix. Why on earth would anyone not expect them to lie as well?

                      They do, because they’re addicts.

                      Yet you wish to use it to show they only got there after years of dedicated use to become addicted.

                      That, combined with the well-known dealer’s tactic of ‘the first hit’s free,’ if true, would result in a huge group of recreational users able to truthfully say they can stop at any time, and doing so with the same frequency that people abuse alcohol in college and then go on to have no issues with alcohol, or whose “alcohol problem” means that they only drink in social settings.

                      That’s not there.

                      What is there: people “experimenting,” or trying it once while they’re drunk, and soon turning their lives upside down for another fix, once they’ve sucked all the otherwise available resources into getting more.
                      (Meth, at my first command, although it was mostly in another squadron.)

                    • “if true, would result in a huge group of recreational users able to truthfully say they can stop at any time, ”

                      There are. Many opiate addicts have just decided to quit and, once they got through the physical symptoms, been fine.

                    • Mary, since you’re not going to actually respond to the arguments made, I’m not going to keep trying to get you to do so. You’re not going to impress anybody who doesn’t already agree with you.

                • Only if you’ve got a better in with the almighty than I do. 😛 Personal experience of pretty much every doctor in Korea around the time my folks were growing up there. I’ll have to see if there are any still alive who’d answer questions. And before you go ‘anecdote are not data’. Anecdote are the beginning of data. Got any citations for your claim that they’re NOT that addictive?

            • People have abused alcohol for years without getting addicted, too– I don’t know if it’s justified, but I do know that my doctors are more worried that I’ll get addicted to the pain killer after each c-section than they are about alcohol abuse, never mind actual addiction. And that’s assuming no abuse.

              Sure, they probably pad their numbers of “addicts” by including those who have chronic pain– but we know they inflate alcohol deaths by estimating whatever the heck they want.

              • As most of us recall from the 1996 presidential race (“GOP Nominee Denies Cigarettes Are Addictive!!!!!!!!!”) the definition of “addicted” is very imprecise. It falls into the category of those words which everybody thinks they understand but for which almost everybody holds a different definition.

                Before any additional discussion along these lines I strongly suggest negotiating a common interpretation of just what exactly is meant by “addiction.”

                Keep in mind that, the vagaries of human biochemistry being as they are, what is almost instantly “addictive” for one person might be utterly resistible to an other. Personally, I get no kick from champagne, mere alcohol doesn’t thrill me at all, Some get a kick from cocaine — I’m sure that if I took even one sniff, that would bore me terrific’ly too.

          • The Opium Wars had more to do with economics and trade policy between China and Britain than with drugs per se. If Britain hadn’t been on a hard currency the wars would never have happened.

            You’ll have to point me to the Colorado statistics you’re referencing, the most recent I can find is from 2013, which shows a modest 1% increase over 2012, well within random fluctuations.

            There’s a big gap between legal and socially accepted, much less encouraged. Most parts of society encourage sobriety, at least during business hours. We already have social structures in place for dealing with alcohol abuse, expanding them to cover other drugs is a trivial exercise.

            • BobtheRegisterredFool

              Consider the pharmokinetics of alcohol versus all the others.

              Alcohol impairs and kills as a fraction of brain mass. If you have alcohol in your brain, some will have diffused back into your blood. If you have it in your blood, it diffuses past the lining of the lungs into the air there. Exhalation can be used to estimate concentration via instrument or a carefully calibrated tube of chemicals.

              Tell me that there is as easy a test for influence for every other substance that can impair human judgement.

              All medicines are poisons. The way a substance can help will hurt at a higher quantity; toxicity is in the dosage.

              Tell me that no medication has ever had permanent unforeseen side effects after it has passed from the system.

              Tell me again how trivial it is to extend what we have for alcohol to all other substances of interest.

          • Oxycodone is one of those drugs that is supposedly extremely addictive. Just got my practitioner to write me a new “10 day” prescription because I was running low- on the 6 year old “10 day” prescription. Once in a while I get severe knee or back pain that OTC aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or several glasses of wine won’t kill. I take the oxycodone until the pain gets to a manageable level, then stop. I had to take a whiz quiz to get the prescription.to see if I was a drug abuser…

            There is a constant debate on whether alcohol addiction is a moral failing or a disease. I lean very heavily towards moral failing. No one forces you to take that first, second, or tenth drink. Some day, I may someday meet an alcoholic who doesn’t smoke. Haven’t ever known one. All the smokers I have known who didn’t drink have been “recovering” alcoholics. Not sure which one is the “gateway drug” to the other.

            Then there’s the legal and widely accepted legal drug- caffeine. Addictive or not? Or just habit? I gave it up recently for 4 months before my last physical for all the supposed health benefits of giving it up. Not a single measurable item changed. Notably BP- exactly the same. I’ve just given up giving up caffeine.

            • I take Hydrocodone 7.5 for my osteoarthritis pain twice daily. I’ve been this for years. It doesn’t make me high or anything. It just relieves my pain. Right after I broke both shoulders I received a prescription for Hydrocodone 10.

              Recently Hydrocodone was put in a more stringently controlled classification. Not only do you need a new prescription every month you have to bring the actual paper ‘scrip by in person. This doesn’t cut down on its abuse it just makes things more difficult for me.

            • Alcohol addiction is a bona-fide illness. That is, genuine addiction. Which you can get over and, if you survive, go on with your life without further problem. It’s the HABIT of drinking that drags you back.

            • Look for functional alcoholics– the people who you don’t actually see getting drunk, they just drink.

              All the time.

              Tend to not get noticed– even people who are looking for signs of people drinking miss these folks.

              How much not noticed?
              I know of a pilot nearing the end of his career, and they caught him drunk… after he flew a training mission where he’d done perfectly good, as always. They’d chosen him for a “random” alcohol test because he’d been in front of everybody for something like nine hours, so it was a safe way to pad their “good” numbers.

              Long story short, he’d managed to keep his blood alcohol level at about that level for as long as he’d been in. Even on board ship.

              He managed to keep from a dishonorable discharge by going cold turkey, which was supposed to kill him.

              He lived.

              Pilot “Pink” Floyd, VX-31, about 2003.

  8. Until a couple of years ago I knew people who didn’t lock their houses when they went out. I grew up leaving the keys in the car, and never had anyone steal it. There are still people in the rural areas here like that. The local police depts still have to remind people every winter not to leave their cars running with the keys in the ignition. Until about 10-15 years ago it was never an issue. Now there are a dozen or so vehicles stolen every winter that were left running.

  9. In the early 1990s, the college I attended had to sit the incoming classes down and explain what “honor” meant and how the honor code functioned. That had never happened before that anyone could recall. At the time I suggested we modify it to read like the Academies (” I will not lie, cheat, or steal. I will not tolerate those who do so.”) but the administration stuck with the flowery language about being women of honor. Something had shifted in the larger culture. I hope we can shift it back.

    • Re: college honor codes. Mine had one, and I mocked it. I figured that if someone was going to cheat, the fact that we’d all signed a little piece of paper saying we weren’t going to cheat wasn’t going to affect things. And yet…

      The typical practice for exams was for the professor to hand out the exams, then return to his office to work on his research. He’d usually come back about halfway through in case anyone had any questions, but for the most part, we were entirely unproctored. We could have talked all we wanted and exchanged answers. But we didn’t.

      Our final exams were “self-scheduled,” meaning we could come in at any one of 8 different exam periods to take whatever exams we wanted. We were then supposed to keep the exam contents secret from anyone who hadn’t yet taken the exam, but there was nothing really stopping us from talking about it. But again, I never heard of a single case of it actually happening.

      The really interesting thing about this was that it didn’t occur to me, until a student from another college pointed it out to me, was that we even could have cheated in those circumstances. The culture was so strongly in favor of “You Don’t Cheat” that doing it was completely unthinkable. You wouldn’t share answers during a test any more than you would steal the Chistmas lights off someone’s front-yard pine tree.

      Now, I’m at a large university where students must sign-in with a photo ID during exams, be separated by at least one desk, and supervised at all times. I don’t know if my old college still holds to its “no proctors, take the test when you want” philosophy, but I like to imagine it does. It’s comforting to imagine a culture of honor existing somewhere, even if I’ll never be able to go back there.

      • That’s the way we were. You picked up your exam from the exam clerks, found a classroom, took said exam, signed the pledge on the blue-book, sealed the envelope, and returned the package to the exam clerk, then went away. The only check was if you brought a bed pillow in a pillowcase (wooden chairs are hard), and then you shook the pillow at the clerks to show that you didn’t have notes tucked into it. I suspect things have changed a little (no i-things or smart phones, most likely).

      • When I was in college, one of my grad assistant friends (I’ll call him “Tim”) told of the fun he would have dealing with students of a particular ethnicity. The notion of an honor code seemed to be entirely foreign to them. In particular, they would cheat on exams at every opportunity.
        During one exam, Tim made a game of it with one student. He would walk out of the room, but keep an eye on that student by his reflection in one of the cabinet doors. He’d wait until the student had his book out of the backpack and almost open, then walk back in and pretend not to notice the student shoving the book back into the backpack. If he’d spent half as much time trying to answer the test questions that he spent trying to cheat, he might have gotten a passing score.
        But Tim was not the only grad assistant to tell me that this particular minority considered cheating acceptable, and if the teachers and school didn’t want it happening, it was up to them to prevent it.
        Absent that, if the proctor stepped out of the room, you could be sure conversations would break out in Farsi, and equally sure the topic was not “how about them Dodgers?”

  10. Re trust: They told me in hunter safety that prey exposure and thus predation happens at the edges of environments – say the edge of wood and meadow, where the critters who have cover in the woods can sneak out to get at the good grass growing in the sunlight. I think the US in the past had fewer of the social edges as assimilation combined with social stratification kept people in any given area more homogeneous, espacially as there was just so much darn space.
    Nowadays, especially in suburban areas out here in CA, development in the very restricted areas where it’s still allowed has run these social environments up against each other in a crazy-quilt. That combined with the rejection of assimilation has led to edges that are all over the place and are sharper, with million dollar homes next to trailer parks, for example, and as a result I’m seeing more tall walls around new housing. No spikes or broken glass yet, but 15 to 20 foot “sound walls” all the way around are pretty standard in silicon valley to my eye, even around condos. Maybe that ‘s more to address the fears of people who feel they are prey tha actual crime stats, but it’s happening nevertheless.

  11. I grew up in suburbia. We had no walls, just fences, and not all properties had those. Upper-middle class area. You locked your doors at night and when you went out during the day. People would walk in while you were gone and walk out with your TV, computer, jewelry, etc. Not much in the way of violent crime, at least until the year or two before we moved, but still very much the exception rather than the rule.

    It was a neighborhood only in the technical sense: nobody knew each other, nobody talked to each other, and nobody really wanted to do either. The family across the street from us lived in the house since before we moved in. I don’t think I ever talked to them once. Couldn’t tell you the names of 3/4 the families on our street. We sure as hell didn’t trust each other, that’s for sure.

    I still live in Suburbia. Different city, no walls, practically no fences, pretty much zero crime, at least in this township. Go a township or two over and you get some. You can leave your doors unlocked here, I guess. We don’t, at least not deliberately. Yet it’s the same thing: nobody talks to each other, nobody’s friendly with each other. Still can’t tell you the names of most anyone on the block.

    I’ll take your word that society’s changed, since it happened well before I was born. But me personally, I have a hard time trusting anyone. Probably because I’ve been burned and betrayed too many times by people I did trust.

    • Free-range Oyster

      There are places where neighborhoods actually function as networks and communities. I live in one now. The Oyster Wife and I are still acclimating in some ways to living in a high trust society; neither one of us grew up in one. Heck, I’ve spent most of my life in and around ghettos and favelas. Utah in general has been a strange transition, and the neighborhood we’ve lived in for the last few years particularly so. We know most of our neighbors, and even the ones we don’t we’re generally on smile-and-wave terms with. We had neighbors show up on the doorstep the day after we moved in to introduce themselves and ask if we needed anything. Heck, a couple we’d known for twenty minutes (they picked us out of a crowd as fellow geeks; I’m still not sure how) offered to put us up for a few days when it looked like we might not close on the house before our lease was up. They’re still some of our best friends. We’re still waiting for a body to show up in someone’s yard, but so far it seems real.

      • As should be obvious, since you’re talking about Utah, it’s the LDS culture that’s largely responsible. Latter-Day Saints are actively encouraged to look out for each other. That goes for the local neighborhood (i.e. being open and friendly with the neighbors). And it’s even assigned within the congregation. Every LDS family is supposed to be assigned a pair of “Home Teachers” who visit at least once a month (though the practice frequently doesn’t match the theory), and represent a known contact point between the family and the church should the family need to get the word out to the congregation for some reason (emergency, moving, etc…). If the family needs help with something, they can call the home teachers. You might recall the story that circulated in 2012 about Mitt Romney removing a wasp nest from a neighbor’s roof. Romney was the man’s home teacher.

        • We’re in a small city, in the block north of downtown, near a school, park, several churches – older part of town (houses from 1901-1930’s, mostly). Christian neighbors across the street, they have homeschooled kids, a few other neighbors have kids that play back & forth – pretty much mixed, Trust level is middling — there’s a few people I don’t know well enough to lend/borrow with, and some that I do.
          No LDS that I know of… just what people do, in a neighborhood made stable with a few older couples and a fair amount of communication back and forth.

  12. Check out the discussion on low trust and high trust in Ringo’s Last Centurion.

  13. Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
    What I was walling in or walling out,
    And to whom I was like to give offence.
    Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
    That wants it down.’ I could say ‘Elves’ to him,
    But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather
    He said it for himself. I see him there
    Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
    In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
    He moves in darkness as it seems to me~
    Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
    He will not go behind his father’s saying,
    And he likes having thought of it so well
    He says again, “Good fences make good neighbors.”
    http://www.writing.upenn.edu/~afilreis/88/frost-mending.html

    Or, as a wise political leader advised: “Trust but verify.”

    In my experience, you can trust most those who require your trust the least.

  14. Lots of interaction in my little suburb. Hubby was in the hospital for a month a few years ago and neighbors who we hadn’t told were asking after hubby.

    I talk to neighbors when walking my doggie. A woman who I didn’t recognize asking me about my shoulders. Apparently the fact that I’d broken both of my shoulders circulated on the local news vine.

  15. c4c

  16. reddragonhawk

    In some cases you can’t tell anything by the height of the walls nor whether or not there is glass. Lots of cities have strict rules about the height of the walls in the back and in the front and you can forget about spikes or broken glass, no matter how bad your neighborhood has gotten. Of course the elites all can live in gated communities with armed security, so they aren’t worried about any of the downsides of their policies.

  17. That kind of trust come from a self-disciplined society: “I will not take what is not my own, even if it is left out on the open”. You don’t get that sort of self discipline if your moral values come from Hollywood or certain New York television producers (names omitted to protect the guilty).

  18. BobtheRegisterredFool

    Engineers are, or have been, heavily trusted in our society.

    The Romans would make the foreman/engineer stay under the arch when the scaffolding came down.

    Much of the market value of a car is reputation for safety, which is supported by trust in engineers.

    This emissions technical fraud scandal is troubling, because many engineers should have known, and apparently never blew the whistle.

    Now, maybe it could be as simple as cultural differences. Or maybe political, if the governments concealed the whistleblowing.

    The worst case scenario is that Western civilization has changed to produce engineers with a greater willingness to commit and conceal technical fraud.

    If so, we can speculate to causes.

    a) Values instilled in children
    b) Toleration of ‘change the world’ dreams in future STEM students may lead to greater magical thinking, and less appreciation of the starkness of the cold equations.
    c) Regulatory and social enforcement of speech endorsing environmentalist ignorant bullshit may pressure engineers into lying. Every time one lies, it becomes easier to lie again.
    d) Enforcement of political correctness in other areas can be just as compromising.

    • The Libertarian argument applies here: the more BS regulations imposed, the less inclined people become to respect such regulations.

    • Engineers have problems with arbitrary rules. Nature provides so many non-negotiable restrictions, have a bureaucrat add more for no good reason just adds insult to injury.

      While VW certainly violated the spirit of the rules, as far as I know it is still an open question as to whether or not they violated the letter of the rules. If the rules state something along the lines of “When tested the exhaust shall contain no more than X, Y, and Z.” then VW was completely within the rules and the EPA needs to look up “malicious compliance.”

      • Yep – if what I’m reading is accurate, this could never have been done before computer controlled engines. If you someone had to throw a switch put the car it into ‘test’ mode, they’d need a willing accomplice in the testing facility to make this work, but since some clever engineer figured out how to have the car itself recogize it was being tested and adjust the engine control parameters accordingly, no inside man in the CA Air Resources Board was required.

        At base this issue really lies in the technical ineptitude of the testing agencies, and their complacent certainty that their testing protocols (drive it onto the dyno, stick in the probes, and run the test cycle) was not game-able. The people that found this out were outside testing groups, who could not get their over-the-road results to match up to the government’s official tests.

        CARB has been pushing crazy low emissions standards for a long time – for diesels, there was a stretch of years where no diesel powered car was sellable new in CA as nothing could meet the CA emission standards, and as a result a cottage industry sprung up to purchse new high end diesel imported autos, drive off enough miles to qualify as ‘used’ to allow them to be registered here, and then bring them into the state for resale.

        Bureaucrats making technical rules are always going to hit walls like this when they try to drive technology in their centrally-planed preferred direction.

      • Many people seem to think that natural law is negotiable, and that human laws are unquestionable and absolute.

        • Natural law is negotiable, if only we all believe hard enough. It’s just you slackers, skeptics and outright unbelievers who prevent the rest of us from having pi equal 3.1500000000, darn you!

          • Reality Observer

            Select the appropriate base, and pi is 3.15 exactly (in symbolic representation – in reality, pi is pi and nothing else is pi).

            Of course, then everything that is not pi is irrational.

            Hmmm… There is some deep psychological meaning there for understanding the regressives. More thought is required, I think.

        • Christopher M. Chupik

          Back in the ’90s in Canada we had something called the Natural Law Party. They wanted to create world peace through something called “yogic flying”. Seriously.

          • ‘the application of transcendental meditation to all levels of government’

            talk about magical thinking…

          • …what the BLAZES is the connection between the philosophy of a rationally identifiable human morality and ANY KIND OF FLYING!?!?

            *boggle*

            • The “some things must be believed to be seen” mindset?

            • “Yogic Flying: The most profound aspect of the TM-Sidhi program—for the individual and for society—is Yogic Flying. During the first stage of Yogic Flying, while the practitioner sits in the cross-legged lotus position, the body lifts up and moves forward in short jumps. One branch of the Vedic literature, the Yoga Sutras of Maharishi Patanjali, describes this first stage as “hopping,” and further defines a second stage as hovering for a short time, and a third as complete mastery of the sky. Even in the first stage, the subjective experience is commonly described not just as inner peace, but as exhilaration, lightness, and an intense happiness often described as “bubbling bliss.”

              As explained in the Vedic science of consciousness, Yogic Flying develops the ability of the individual to act from the unified field of all the laws of nature. The mind-body coordination displayed by Yogic Flying shows improved correlation between consciousness (the unified field) and its expression—the physiology. Since increased brain wave coherence is one indication of Transcendental Consciousness, moreover, it is significant that EEG studies have shown that during Yogic Flying, at the moment the body lifts up, coherence in brain wave activity reaches a peak.

              Research also suggests that group practice of Yogic Flying is the most effective single program for generating a society-wide influence of peace. The increase in brain wave coherence in the individual is reflected by increased coherence in social behavior—as measured by reduced crime, terrorism and war. These results are easily reproducible and have been extensively validated through rigorous, peer-reviewed scientific research.”

              http://www.permanentpeace.org/technology/yogic_flying.html

              Some days I wonder if I am speaking the same language as other people. Some people’s definition of ‘easily reproducible’ are significantly different than my own.

            • Oh, come now. Don’t you remember your Peter Pan?

              All it takes is faith and trust!

              Oh, and something I forgot… just a little bit of pixie dust…

      • It’s a moral dilemma I’m glad I didn’t have to face. Like enforcing Internet censorship in China and Pakistan and the like — it’s a stupid regulation, serves no purpose, and arguably does more harm than good. Yet it’s the law.

      • BobtheRegisterredFool

        That certain cars are on the market can only be because some of the consumers are willing to pay a bit extra for Green nonsense.

        The diesel emissions cheating vehicles may have been bought by customers willing to pay extra for Green bullshit, but not willing to pay the full price of actually doing it.

        The decision by the manufacturers perhaps falls under the heading of deceiving the customer. Some codes of engineering ethics ban this last.

        Maybe automobile sales are crooked enough that this is not significant.

        If a man tries to hire me to build a perpetual motion machine, I should turn him down and explain why. It’d still be an ethics violation if he gets the government to attempt to force me to do so.

      • Bruce Schneier wrote an essay about the VW issue.
        One of the reasons VW was caught was that they didn’t hide the code well enough. After this, other programmers will do their best to make the “detect test protocol and adjust results accordingly” code look accidental.

    • Also, given that these legal requirements for emissions are set to keep increasing ad infinitum according to a schedule that some politician invented, eventually *everyone* is going to have to cheat to have a compliant engine, because it simply isn’t physically possible to squeeze X energy out of Y fuel, while producing less than Z worth of products.

    • “The Romans would make the foreman/engineer stay under the arch when the scaffolding came down.” – the way I heard it was “…while the legion he came from marched in lockstep over it.” Motivated over-engineering is why Roman ruins have lasted so long, in so many places.

  19. It is essential immigrants assimilate or leave. Oh, not in things like food and modes of dress. That is not important. But the assimilation of the principles of trust and individual rights? That is essential.

    Teach your children well, and explain to those who would be like us what it actually entails.

    AMEN and AMEN.

  20. Pingback: News of the Week (October 25th, 2015) | The Political Hat

  21. I am sitting here reading the essay in my house in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico, which is indeed surrounded by an 8-foot cement block wall, topped by broken glass on two sides, barbed wire on one side, and electricity on the fourth side (maintained by the neighbour; I guess he is worried about us.). The front gate is hard-to-climb sheet metal. (And BTW Merida is one of the safest cities in Mexico; homicide rate down around 2 per 100,000.)
    This is kind of a middle-class neighbourhood; as you get over to the upper-middle-class areas, the broken glass tends to get replaced by concertina wire, and the electric fences have considerably bigger insulators than the ones my neighbour is using. …. And lots of Dobermans, too.

  22. Birthday Girl

    Re pointless thievery of laundry … a close relative lived in Mexico City for over 20 years. When visiting there, I helped with laundry and needed to be tutored in how to hang laundry in the chain-link enclosures used there – chain link fence about 8 feet high, and chain link across the top as a kind of roof also. Several clotheslines run the length of the enclosure. Each apartment gets their appointed area. You don’t hang your socks or underwear on the lines nearest the fencing because they will be stolen. Anything that can be pulled through that mesh will be stolen. You only hang small items between pairs of jeans or whatnot. Was a real paradigm shift for naive little moi.

    Here in flyover country, kids leave their bikes flung all over the front yards. Garden tools, hoses, wheelbarrows, etc. are left out while yard projects are underway. Front porches host decorative chairs and tiny tables, as though they were ice cream shops. And don’t even start talking about Christmas decorations!

    I have heard a few ex-pat retirees extol the beauties of living in Mexico. But I would not want to. No sir.

    • It’s not pointless. And there isn’t laundry theft now. When I was a kid, people REALLY were that poor. They might be in Mexico now. And yep, outdoor decorations would get stolen.

    • The Other Sean

      In my neighborhood, I have to be very cautious when walking after dark, away from the intersections where the lights are. Not because of a bad element – but because kids are as prone to leave their toys, bicycles, scooters, skateboards, sporting equipment, etc. on the sidewalks as in their yards.

      You should see the panoply of Halloween displays around Cincinnati. My block alone has the fake cemetery across the street, ghouls next door (with a “Vamipre Parking Only” sign on the driveway), giant pumpkins at the house on the other side, two houses down from that is a gigantic display covering the entire front yard, with cemetery, bones, severed body parts, freaky bloody dolls, etc.

      • Keep in mind that in some venues ostentatious displays at Christmas & Halloween constitute conspicuous consumption and thus are an insult/challenge to others.

  23. The whole idea that an army in the field would be supplied – at least with food – from the home country is relatively new. I think the US Civil War was the first one in which it happened, which means the war was significantly lengthened because the Union had plenty of supply depots established, but not the skilled cavalry to defend them.

    • And this is also why Sherman’s march was such a shock, as he cut himself off from his own supply tail on purpose to drive through to the sea.

      • Grant’s final campaign for Vicksburg, too.

      • But at the same time it was merely reverting to the practices Grant and Sherman engaged in while lieutenants in Mexico.

        The real shock was that Sherman split his army in half, but even that wasn’t terribly surprising since each half was as large as Hood’s Army of Tennessee.

        • It might have been split in Georgia, but the distance between them wasn’t all that great. There are also some eyewitness accounts of mounted troops who weren’t “bummers” flanking the columns. I suspect he was making very sure there wouldn’t be surprises beyond Joe Wheeler.

        • Sherman, very specifically, was following the example of Scott who had intentionally dropped his supply chain to speed to the capture of Mexico City.

          The brilliance of that campaign is still not appreciated IMHO.

          • Scott was the most historically under-appreciated American general. He also came up with the general strategy the north used to defeat the south in the civil war.

            • I concur on that as well but it the Veracruz campaign that I am stunned is just plan forgotten.

              He was the first American general to capture an enemy capital (out of two or three depending on how you count…note, Grant never entered Richmond…MacArthur got Pyongyang. The open one is should Mark Clark get credit for Rome). That alone should be in the history books.

    • Wasn’t practical. You had to haul the feed for the mules to haul the provisions.

    • Nicholas Appert is credited with the invention we now call “canning.” Napoleon Bonaparte’s quartermaster issued an open contract with a 12,000-franc prize for anyone who could come up with a way to preserve food for the army. Appert won the prize in 1810, with a method involving sealing boiling food into glass bottles. Troops would get something like a mutant wine bottle with soup, stew, etc.

      Prior to that, most armies depended on dried or live supplies, plus what they could “requisition” from where they were passing through.

      “Requisitioning” was a huge problem; it was often hard to distinguish between soldiers and bandit gangs. That’s what that part about “quartering troops” in the Third Amendment of the Constitution is for.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

        There was also the problem of sending out troops to Requisition supplies only to have the enemy’s full army attack you with only part of the army. IIRC Napoleon got caught out that way but managed to win. That’s why he had an interest in finding new ways to preserve food for the army.

        Also, I remember reading that when Wellington was fighting in Spain he began to punish his troops for unofficial requisition of supplies. He didn’t want the locals to see him as much trouble as Napoleon’s forces. He also apparently was preparing his troops for the day when he invaded France. IE he only wanted to fight French troops not local Frenchmen as well.

        • In the US Civil War, “peeled pork” was a big deal. Normally, when butchering a hog, you scald it just right so the hairs come off when you scrape it, then butcher it along with the skin, for rendering and such. With peeled pork, the hog was butchered and skinned, which was much quicker than the normal process, and that meant the pork was acquired through midnight requisition. Some officers cracked down on it; others were “blind” to it.

          BTW, skinning seems to be the preferred method for butchering wild hogs. Maybe due to taste and the thicker hair?

          • Likely. If the flavor’s in the fat, as gamy as some of those wild pigs are, I’d trim ’em lean and then mix in other fat for sausage-n-stuff. And the hid is probably cut and scuffed with barbed wire marks and what have you. Since you’re field dressing rather than butchering, a fast skin-n-run seems reasonable.

        • If you study troop movements in the Napoleonic period a huge factor in the “disperse for march and assemble for battle” was tied to the need to requisition supplies. Armies dispersed to allow spread out foraging allowed them to stay in a given area longer but, as you say, were vulnerable to attack. This is why cavalry scouts were so important.

          Given Gettysburg, one of the most significant battles of the Civil War, occurred due to an army dispersed and blind by no cavalry reports got caught when one unit went to requisition shoes, it could be a very big deal.

    • While the US Civil War was a landmark in modern logistics the British, at least, had a primitive form of modern logistics in the Crimean War. Certainly large scale distribution of canned food (which was sometimes rancid as mass canning methods was still being worked out) was a British practice. If they did it for food it was probably only done so after it was done for ammo.

      • It would have been necessary. The Crimean War was fought over a rather small area, both armies would have quickly exhausted the available forage.

    • This is why Sheridan destroyed the Shenendoah Valley.

      It’s also worth noting that armies didn’t live *completely* off of the fields they were fighting over (the official term was “foraging”). There was typically a logistical tail that sent some fresh supplies forward. But each army expected a different ratio of “home support vs local foraging”. The French under Napoleon were one of the most lopsided in favor of foraging, which helped the army to keep up its speed on the march compared to those of the other nations. There was less of a supply train to slow the army down. But it also caused Napoleon’s downfall in 1812, when his army found itself stranded deep in Russia, and forced to retreat along the exact same route (i.e. already “foraged) that it had used on the way in.

  24. I grew up in both worlds here in the states, the farm and the slummy city. Two total different environments, two different sets of rules.

    Now we live in the city. Locked doors, fences, cameras, alarms, dogs and firearms. Slowly the city has shutdown most of the overt drug dealers and meth heads.

    • My wife and I lived on the edges of a rough neighborhood when we first married. I made it a point to periodically trim my shrubbery with a machete. Had no problems.

  25. Re: some of the comments here.

    I don’t see how building walls and fences and withdrawing trust is something *we’re* at fault for, or somehow the fault of those taking steps to protect themselves. *I* haven’t squandered anyone’s trust (ie, I haven’t gone in through someone’s window and stolen all their electronics. *I* haven’t declared that I consider everyone living in the rural areas between this and that large city to be lesser beings who need to be disposessed and enslaved. *I* haven’t declared that I care absolutely nothing for the rights of X or Y group, and **** them anyway. But in a nation where there are large groups of people who are more or less acting/stating these things, you’d have to be some kind of crazy to trust them, right?)

    It’s a logical response to your environment to take steps to defend yourself when they are necessary. Before you can have a high trust society, you have to have neighbors who are trustworthy.

    • It’s another prisoner’s dilemma type situation.

      The only way I can think of to transition from a low-trust to a high trust society is to go through some sort of tit-for-tat situation, where people associate and selectively extend trust/mutual assistance only to those who reciprocate, while keeping their guard up against people who haven’t proven themselves.

      • Free-range Oyster

        There’s also the option of simply building relationships: extend trust in something with low risk, and if it goes well continue with increasing levels of risk as you find each other trustworthy. *shrug* Generally works for me.

        • Works on an individual level; not so much on a societal level. And Democrats have been lying about more and more since 1980 or earlier.

          • Free-range Oyster

            *ponders* Lying is something to take into consideration, and either disqualify that person or group altogether, or require some sort of sign of good faith before renewing the attempt to build trust. As far as the overall approach, I know it can be scaled up, though the implementation might change. I remember Bill Whittle doing an editorial video several years ago talking about sequential prisoner’s dilemma as related to foreign policy and how it worked equally well at every level. Now for polities you have to worry about a change of composition or attitude over time (see also the utter unreliability of the United States for at least the last hundred years on the foreign policy front), but that can be accounted for. On smaller or more regulated scales – families, cliques, tribes, congregations – it seems to me that it would work pretty much just the way it does for individuals. Are there issues I’m missing?

      • Isn’t that the way to win the Dilemma? Do unto the other guy what he did to you last turn? As I understand it, that ultimately results in everyone going trust/trust.

        • That could be one of the reasons rural areas have less crime. More opportunity to due unto others as they have done unto you.

    • Welcome to where I’ve been since 2003.

    • Before you can have a high trust society, you have to have neighbors who are trustworthy.

      That’s the rub.

      A lot of people want the fruits of high trust, but don’t want the consequences– that there are unwritten rules, where the enforcement is that people don’t trust you, and you lose the benefits.

      Not allowed to pick and choose, enforce those rules? Then you’re limited to how much abuse you can afford.

  26. The Other Sean

    Here in my mid-1950’s subdivision, fences are typically to let dogs run free when nobody’s home, with doggy doors in the rear doors very common, or in a few cases because somebody has a pool. In most other cases, there’s a fence because there was a pool, or somebody (or a previous owner) had a dog but no longer does.

    I once screwed up heading out early one Saturday for a very long day hike, and left my main front door open and unlocked. Only the unlocked glass door was keeping critters – or two-legged animals – out. I came back to find… nothing wrong. My neighborhood is pretty decent.

    The next neighborhood over, though, does have some minor problems. But nothing like what others have described.

    • I think it’s less a matter of “leave the door open once, you’l be robbed” and more “buckle up every time you drive so you’ll be buckled when you’re T-boned by some moron.”

      • There are some areas that ARE that bad, but I don’t think they’re that common– the bigger risk is drive-by theft, people who aren’t from an area.

  27. There’s an element of tribalism going on. People not in your family/clan/tribe aren’t people the same way that you are people. Thus, their stuff is pretty much fair game, as long as you don’t get caught.

    Here in PNG, sheet metal fences topped with razor wire, barred windows, and nighttime security guards are pretty much a standard feature of urban life.

  28. So many things came to mind reading this post. One of the first was a two-story log house built on the frontier. It had a breezeway, which was a passage as wide as a room that separated the bottom floor, and the stair was accessed from the back porch. Even though the Indians were about three miles away and there had been periodic trouble, there was neither walls nor fence around the house. That turned out to be a good thing for a young man who was scalped alive, and managed to make it to the house, where he passed out in the breezeway.

    Why, though, where there no walls? There was frequent theft from certain Indians crossing over, and the scalping above – and worse – wasn’t an isolated example. Not a quarter of a mile away was a fort build by the settlers, so they knew how to construct a palisade wall, and there was plenty of trees for the task, but it was never done. It was as though they never considered such a thing. The fort was a place of refuge during trouble, and that’s as far as they went.

    I bring this up as it’s one thing to point to declining morals in the US, and my knee-jerk reaction is to tie it to religious teaching and revivals in America, but thinking about that house on the frontier and others, I wonder if something else was going on.

    I do know the man who built that house had three. One, mentioned in his will, was between the Indians and the fort. Two had the fort between them and the Indians, and the latter was where he raised his family. There seems to been a sense of danger, but no walls.

    What was going on in England at the same time as in Portugal? Medieval England used a tithing system where men were subdivided into groups and were not only expected to help uphold the peace, but to report wrong doing. What that strictly an English thing, or was that common throughout Europe? Could that ultimately have had an impact on the mindset of the settlers?

  29. My theory is that the concept of property is one of the foundations of civilization. Probably the first word out of Ogg the Caveman’s mouth was “Mine!” We invented writing so that Egyptian farmers could mark their amphora of grain so they knew whose was whose. They invented accounting to keep track of it. Pythagoras and others figured out geometry so farmers could get their own land back after the Nile flooded. And of course, we punish people for theft. Horse thieves got hung.

    Any place where there is less cultural respect for property rights is further down on the scale of civilization.

    And now, we’re working our way down. “It’s insured, who cares if they stole it.” “You can’t shoot someone just for stealing a car!” “I guess he just needed it more.”

    Not me. As far as I’m concerned, a thief is the lowest of the low. An uncivilized animal. Putting thieves down is merely humane.

    • Someone who steals my property steals the portion of my life that went to earn the money to purchase or make it. Having someone else’s life involuntarily used for your benefit is the very definition of slavery.

      “A slavemaster is subhuman”, to quote Lazarus Long, and they’re just lucky Lazarus’ penalty can’t be applied.

      “I spaced the bastard. Alive! He went thataway, eyes popped out and peeing blood.”

    • “A man with a sword in his hand demands my purse in the high-way, when perhaps I have not twelve pence in my pocket: this man I may lawfully kill.”

      – John Locke

  30. wouldn’t it be smarter just to build those walls around the homes of people WE don’t trust? Keep them in?

    • That was an old custom– they’re called “jails” and “insane asylums.”

      Problem being that people who can afford a whole lot of system-abuse decided that an average of ten to twelve years for convicted murders was an acceptable limit.

      • For those wondering: that isn’t per murder.

        It’s per murderer, although as best I can tell it doesn’t combine the re-offenders– it’s calculated by those who are released in the counted year and how long they were in, and for what.

        http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/html/cjusew96/ts.cfm

        According to latest available figures (1994 in the United States, 1995 in England) time served, on average, was —

        longer for murder in the United States (10½ years) than in England (8 ¼ years) (figure 55)
        longer for rape in the United States (5½ years) than in England (nearly 4 years) (figure 56)
        longer for robbery in the United States (3½ years) than in England (nearly 2 years) (figure 57)
        longer for assault in the United States (2 years) than in England (6 months) (figure 58)
        longer for burglary in the United States (1½ years) than in England (6 months) (figure 59)
        longer for motor vehicle theft in the United States (just under 1 year) than in England (3 months) (figure 60).

        • And obviously, that doesn’t include the issue of plea deals– I’m sure I’ve bored folks enough with the drug-and-breaking-into-cars-with-identity-theft story of mine, where they were caught red handed and two years later got a suspended six-month community service ruling.

  31. I live in the middle of nowhere. The door isn’t locked. Unless we’re away for more then a day. Then, we tell the next door neighbors (1/4 mile) so they can keep an eye on the place. I’ve never seen them go away. (They’re Mennonites. FWIW.)

    As far as property rights go in the western hemisphere, I’ve read that if you’re south of the U.S. border, they’re close to non-existent. You own what you can fence in and control and see. If you have a house, and don’t wall in a yard- you don’t have a yard. You have just a house.

    We have thousands of miles or rail in the United States. Some used infrequently. Trains barrel along those tracks with the engineers fully confidant that the track will still be there. Not so in other parts of the world. (It is also illegal for scrapyards to take rail in rail. So illegal that even the shady on the edge of the law yards won’t touch it. Bring in some copper though…) One of the problems reconstructing Iraq was power lines. Outlying areas receive power on a rotating basis. Once scavengers figured out a pattern, transmission lines would disappear for scrap value while de-energized. Whoops! No more power to outlying areas. That’s become a serious problem in Detroit. Street lights that don’t work because during daylight hours copper wire is pulled from conduits.

    On my visits to South America, the lobby of every bank I peered in to had an armed guard. Seriously armed. In a kiosk. Behind bulletproof glass with holes he could point the gun out of. Most banks in U.S don’t have guards on duty. At least, not the ones I use on a regular basis. Maybe they do in cities. Someone else here might know that.

    We live today, even in the cities, in a very high trust society. Young women walk around in revealing clothes. Without worry. Which I kind of like; makes life more pleasant. In Europe, the authorities are now telling young women near “resettlement” centers to dress more modestly. The authorities are giving the wrong lesson. They should be telling the “refugees” that if they molest or bother any of the locals, they’re going to be hauled to the nearest public square, have their testicles torn off, after which they’ll be hanged. Immediately, no trial or lawyers involved. One or 2 such lessons and the refugees will either behave, or decide they don’t really want to be there and go back.

    • I was told by one of the old lineman who ran the first lines where I grew up that they had all sorts of difficulty from people stealing copper to make fish baskets.That was late 1930s US.

      In some places in the US, crews restoring power have had items stolen from their trucks. Our usual solution is to pull out and go work somewhere else for a while. Typically that drives home the point to leave our stuff alone.

  32. You need to have citizens who have a minimum of trust among themselves, who view others’ property as sacred, who view others’ rights as inviolable to be able to have people truly govern themselves, without its rapidly devolving to the stuff of nightmares.

    That is exactly the problem. Rose Wilder Lane said so seventy years ago: our lives and property aren’t protected by the State, but by other people’s convictions about the rights to life and property. No system of government (or non-government) can substitute for a moral and ethical citizenry. The nations of Europe are learning this on their own hides as Muslims swarm over them and reduce their once peaceable and prosperous nations to free-fire zones.

  33. “She went on, ‘My grandparents used to tell me about a time when people were polite and nobody hesitated to be outdoors at night and people didn’t even lock their doors – much less surround their homes with fences and barbed wire and lasers. Maybe so; I’m not old enough to remember it. It seems to me that, all my life, things have grown worse and worse. My first job, right out of school, was designing concealed defenses into older buildings being remodeled. But the dodges used then – and that wasn’t so many years ago – are obsolete. Then the idea was to stop him and frighten him off. Now it’s a two-layer defense. If the first layer doesn’t stop him, the second layer is designed to kill him. Strictly illegal and anyone who can afford it does it that way.'”
    -Robert Heinlein, Friday

  34. Christopher M. Chupik

    Several of the early-chronology Sharpe novels show a great deal of the war in Portugal. The Duke of Wellington tried to make sure farmers got recompensed for the food his soldiers took, but the realities of the situation meant they weren’t always.

    • Perhaps more to the point, if the money isn’t edible, what good is it? All your fellow farmers got their food taken, too. “though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy, “

  35. It is a curious thing, I mentally look around the neighborhood and the only fence I can think of (other than one for dog containment) is either on my property or my neighbor’s – and it surrounds neither of us, nor even is a full divide between us. I am unsure what the previous owners of each residence had in mind, but it seems to serve no purpose other than as a boundary and perhaps “I don’t want to see that” thing going on. Doors are locked out of habit more than need – or so we’d like to believe. There’s just enough crap going on that a simple lock is a valid deterrent. Yet there are items left outside, or in an unlocked enclosure and they remain there.

    I recall my first visit to a gate community I felt offended at the very idea of the thing. When something is “exclusive” I start getting curious about just who is excluded and why. I can comprehend the need for sound walls and fences, but I find I seldom much like the idea, at least outside farming arrangements where the purpose of the fence is quite plain.

    • Out here everyone has 6-8′ solid wood (or brick or cement block) fences because of the wind more than anything. There might not be a gate in the back, or the gates might not have locks, but everyone and their dog has a wind fence.

    • Teenagers. Not teenagers that would steal things but teenagers that would mess with things just to mess with the ‘city slickers’ that moved into town.

      We currently have no need of a fence. When we get a dog and a garden fence will be necissary. (I’ve never been fond of ‘let the dog roam about as he pleases because it’s the country!’ style dog ownership and for the garden… deer. Deer require an 8ft fence.)

  36. Free-range Oyster

    Deer require an 8ft fence.

    Minimum.

    • My theory is to let the deer eat the garden, then eat the deer. Besides, deer don’t dig potatoes, and fried taters and venison go very well together.

    • I’ve watched a CA coastal white-tail levitate over an 8 ft fence from a standing start to get at a garden at a friends house up the Santa Cruz mountains.

      One approach that seems to work up there is one 8ft tall chain link fence installed vertically with another rolled out on the ground outside the garden – apparently they don’t like how their feet go through the mesh, feeling like they might get stuck, so they can’t get close enough to use their levitation powers.

    • Yeah… We’re working on planting a garden and an orchard. Anti-deer and anti- rabbit measures are a top priority.

  37. I want to take just a moment to thank you for expressing your insight into our property rights that currently exist (just barely) in the USA.
    By comparison to the people who have never known the freedom that a possession brings and the shared responsibility that society must deliver for all to appreciate that which is theirs, you show what a slippery slope we all live in where the “community” challenges the individual. If individual rights are lost, then everything is nothing and what is yours is mine (or ours). Only violence or the threat of violence will protect that which you consider to be yours.
    This is a world that I no desire to live in.

  38. Pingback: The Invisible Walls | Cheek's Bay

  39. Two items that I want to mention –

    Victor Davis Hanson has been writing periodically about the problems of property ownership in the Central Valley of California. Anything not nailed down and left out overnight is gone the next morning. And if you nailed it down, then you’re a jerk for making it so hard for the people who would make it disappear.

    Meanwhile, in Ukraine…

    Ukraine has severe government corruption problems. Recently, in a bid to fix some of this, the government of Kyiv (I think that’s the new spelling) symbolically fired all of its cops. A new set of cops was hired (which might very well have included a lot of the old cops), and new rules were instituted. Cops were, for the first time, given a decent wage. They were also prohibited from taking bribes, and severe penalties are apparently promised for any cops that violate this rule. You see, under the old system, cops made barely any money from their salary. It was just generally understood that cops would make the vast majority of their income from taking bribes.

  40. It is essential immigrants assimilate or leave. Oh, not in things like food and modes of dress. That is not important. But the assimilation of the principles of trust and individual rights? That is essential.
    Teach your children well, and explain to those who would be like us what it actually entails.

    I lived for a while in an apartment building (before I lived in the four-plex across from the Sears that burned down during the Rodney King riots) where I had a parking space in the car port behind the building. I had decided to try out a trick I had read about for letting you know you could stop backing in to the car port — tie a red ball to a piece of string and hang it from the roof of the garage. Arrange it so it’s just touching the windshield when you’re about a foot away from the back wall. That way, when you’re backing in, you stop when you see the ball touch the rear windshield.
    So I arranged the ball, and all was well — for a few hours.
    When I got home from my next errand, the ball was gone, the string was hanging there empty,and a couple of the neighbor’s kids were playing with the ball.
    I spoke to their father and he didn’t care.
    I remember when a father who discovered his son had stolen something, even something effectively worthless, would march the kid over to the owner, and make him return it and apologize. Additional punishment would also be a near certainty. Children were taught not to steal because stealing was wrong.
    In this case, the father didn’t even care to impart the lesson of “don’t get caught”.

    At the time, I hadn’t analyzed the issue of the web of trust that makes society work, so I couldn’t engage the father in a philosophical discussion, even if my Spanish had been up to it. But perhaps it’s just as well. I’m not sure he’d have appreciated the lesson.
    I simply made a point of never leaving anything the least bit shiny unsecured in the carport.