We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
There is a fine education in going to City Journal, and searching Dalrymple under "author". This Brit has been a prolific writer and thinker for years in that excellent journal, but our alert and intelligent readers have pointed me to one piece in particular of his, from 1995, Do Sties Make Pigs?, apropos of the French rioting. It's a case study of the law of unintended consequences, and of government's wealth, hubris, and lack of common sense. I quote here:
"But it is public housing that exemplifies most clearly the ideas of those who transformed the British urban landscape during the 1950s and 1960s. Here the new aesthetics combined with socialist reforming zeal to produce a multilayered disaster.
After the war, bien pensants universally agreed that pre-war British society had been grossly unjust. The working class, it was said, had been shamelessly exploited, as was manifest principally in Britain's great inequalities of income and its overcrowded housing. A sharply progressive income tax (which at one point reached 95 percent) would redress the inequalities of income, while slum clearance and the construction of large- scale housing projects would alleviate the housing problem.
The middle class reformers thought of poverty wholly in physical terms: an insufficiency of food and warmth, a lack of space. How, they asked, could people come to the finer things in life if their basic requirements were so inadequately met? What could freedom mean (I remember my father asking) in the absence of decent housing conditions? Since social problems such as crime and delinquency (which we were soon to discover were in their infancy) were attributable to physical deprivation—to the environment rather than the criminal or delinquent—the construction of decent housing would solve all problems at once.
But what was decent housing? A civil servant, Parker Morris, provided the answer: a certain number of cubic yards of living space per inhabitant. The Ministry of Housing adopted the Parker Morris standards for all public housing; they governed the size and number of rooms—and that was all."