The North’s Jim Crow

 victims were accused of violating laws or rules governing conduct in commercial establishments and public spaces. In the first case, it was for trespassing or loitering. In the second, it was for using a charcoal grill outside of the designated areas.

“Quality of life” laws serve as a potent instrument of racial segregation.

.. They provide commercial establishments, law enforcement officers and everyday citizens with tools enabling them to police racial boundaries while at the same time claiming to simply be upholding the law.

.. these laws supposedly apply to everyone. But in practice, they clearly don’t. Like most middle-aged white people, I have spent countless hours in Starbucks without buying anything. Plenty of white people have barbecued, blasted music and drunk alcohol at that same Oakland park, without anyone calling the police.

.. The selective enforcement of minor ordinances, as many critics note, performs the same work today that segregation laws did in the past.

.. These wealthy enclaves were also among the first to use privatization as a means of segregation

.. recalled accompanying two white teenage friends to a private beach in the neighboring town of Milford. Although Motley’s white friends were not members, they went there often. But with an African-American joining them, “there was suddenly a membership requirement.”

.. It will take more than sensitivity-training sessions and the public shaming of racist, hypervigilant white women to dismantle today’s system of segregation. Limiting the power of white people to use the law to act out their vision of a “quality” life that excludes black people is a place to start.

A tech billionaire blocked public beach access. A court just forced him to open it up.

“The decision is an important step to vindicate the principle that the public has a right to access the California coast regardless of their wealth and resources,” Buescher told The Post, calling the gate and use of guards a “defacto privatization of what is an incredibly valuable public resource.” The decision also ordered Khosla to pay nearly $500,000 in attorney costs.

.. The suit came after community members and Surfriders sought an amicable solution, Howe and Buescher said. Protests and letter-writing campaigns to apply public pressure failed. The situation escalated in October 2012, when the San Mateo County sheriff cited a group of five surfers on the beach for trespassing. The charges were dropped in 2013.

 .. In 2014, the state lands commission sought to end the legal battle by paying to create road or sidewalk access to the beach on Khosla’s property, or to use a portion of the road. Surveyors estimated a price of $300,000. Khosla countered with an offer of about $30 million.

President Mike Pence?

Where Donald Trump is undisciplined and entertaining, Mike Pence is very disciplined and boring. But that discipline will not benefit the Americans at large.

Pence: Worse than Trump

It could be argued, superficially, that where Trump is undisciplined and highly entertaining, Pence is somewhat more disciplined and very low-profile, perhaps even boring. The actual news is far worse.

Vice President Pence is a complete nutcase, to put it bluntly. Where Trump adopts extreme positions to stay in the news, Pence’s views are actually built on conviction.

Pence is, admittedly, smoother than Trump. But his folksy Midwestern demeanor masks extreme views. As early as June 2006, when he was a U.S. Representative for Indiana, Pence introduced legislation for “self deportation” as part of immigration reform.

It was one of 90 bills and resolutions he introduced while in Congress, none of which ever passed in 12 years, most of which he served in the majority (thus giving him a powerful perch to craft legislation that passes).

As outwardly smooth a Republican all-star operator as Pence comes across, that is a devastating statistic. It underscores that he is a conservative radical, not a bridge-builder and consensus seeker.

The stereotype of a wolf in a sheep’s clothing captures Pence quite well.

.. Pence also presided over a large outbreak of HIV in his home state of Indiana that stemmed from the ongoing U.S. opioid crisis. Rather than moving speedily to resolve the crisis, he hemmed and hawed publicly over whether an emergency needle-exchange program would conflict with his decades of strident anti-drug policy.

.. Cheney but worse

If Pence were to become U.S. President, it could truly spell the end to many liberties. He is more dangerous than Cheney (as far as U.S. domestic politics are concerned).

On foreign policy, purely by contrast to Trump, he appears to be more predictable and therefore more acceptable to other nations. In reality, he is Cheney-esque, with a fondness for “enhanced interrogation” (= torture) and a fondness for military interventions.

.. Aside from his likely unpredictability abroad, where he would have the least restraint as president, domestically, a Pence Presidency would mean the true arrival of Speaker Paul Ryan’s public disinvestment agenda.

.. The Pence-Ryan agenda, outlined in the 2012 “Ryan Plan” and already hinted at by White House Budget Director (and former House member) Mick Mulvaney, calls for slashing U.S. social welfare programs to ribbons purportedly to balance the budget, even if they have little to no budgetary impact.

.. It is important to realize that Mike Pence and Paul Ryan are not targeting generous, European-style social welfare programs. They do not exist in the United States.

The Midwestern duo consider basic programs as excessive that serve as many people’s last line of defense between scraping by and sheer destitution.

Mike Pence and Paul Ryan would voucherize Medicare that keeps elderly Americans healthy. They would obliterate the food benefits that keep families from starving to death.

They would roll back the Medicaid program that gives poor and disabled Americans healthcare access and pays for elderly Americans’ nursing homes. Social Security privatization would likely follow.

Even the United States’ already severely underfunded budgets for infrastructure repair would be cut to the bone. Pence and Ryan would be a disaster for the long-term future health of the United States, its allies and its economic partners.

How statistics lost their power – and why we should fear what comes next

The ability of statistics to accurately represent the world is declining. In its wake, a new age of big data controlled by private companies is taking over – and putting democracy in peril

In theory, statistics should help settle arguments. They ought to provide stable reference points that everyone – no matter what their politics – can agree on. Yet in recent years, divergent levels of trust in statistics has become one of the key schisms that have opened up in western liberal democracies. Shortly before the November presidential election, a study in the US discovered that 68% of Trump supporters distrusted the economic datapublished by the federal government.

.. In the UK, a research project by Cambridge University and YouGov looking at conspiracy theories discovered that 55% of the population believes that the government “is hiding the truth about the number of immigrants living here”.

.. One of its main findings is that people often respond warmly to qualitative evidence, such as the stories of individual migrants and photographs of diverse communities. But statistics – especially regarding alleged benefits of migration to Britain’s economy – elicit quite the opposite reaction. People assume that the numbers are manipulated and dislike the elitism of resorting to quantitative evidence.

.. The problem is that the government is now engaged in self-censorship, for fear of provoking people further.

.. The declining authority of statistics – and the experts who analyse them – is at the heart of the crisis that has become known as “post-truth” politics. And in this uncertain new world, attitudes towards quantitative expertise have become increasingly divided. From one perspective, grounding politics in statistics is elitist, undemocratic and oblivious to people’s emotional investments in their community and nation. It is just one more way that privileged people in London, Washington DC or Brussels seek to impose their worldview on everybody else. From the opposite perspective, statistics are quite the opposite of elitist. They enable journalists, citizens and politicians to discuss society as a whole, not on the basis of anecdote, sentiment or prejudice, but in ways that can be validated. The alternative to quantitative expertise is less likely to be democracy than an unleashing of tabloid editors and demagogues to provide their own “truth” of what is going on across society.

.. This raises the alarming question of how – if at all – we will continue to have common ideas of society and collective progress, should statistics fall by the wayside.

.. ince the high-point of the Enlightenment in the late 18th century, liberals and republicans have invested great hope that national measurement frameworks could produce a more rational politics, organised around demonstrable improvements in social and economic life.

.. But for the most part it is thanks to statistics, and not to democratic institutions as such, that we can know what the public thinks about specific issues. We underestimate how much of our sense of “the public interest” is rooted in expert calculation, as opposed to democratic institutions.

.. the contemporary populist attack on “experts” is born out of the same resentment as the attack on elected representatives. In talking of society as a whole, in seeking to govern the economy as a whole, both politicians and technocrats are believed to have “lost touch” with how it feels to be a single citizen in particular.

.. Speaking scientifically about the nation – for instance in terms of macroeconomics – is an insult to those who would prefer to rely on memory and narrative for their sense of nationhood, and are sick of being told that their “imagined community” does not exist.

.. Yet in recent decades, the world has changed dramatically, thanks to the cultural politics that emerged in the 1960s and the reshaping of the global economy that began soon after. It is not clear that the statisticians have always kept pace with these changes. Traditional forms of statistical classification and definition are coming under strain from more fluid identities, attitudes and economic pathways.

.. the location of economic activity far more important, exacerbating the inequality between successful locations (such as London or San Francisco) and less successful locations (such as north-east England or the US rust belt). The key geographic units involved are no longer nation states. Rather, it is cities, regions or individual urban neighbourhoods that are rising and falling.

.. Headline-grabbing national indicators, such as GDP and inflation, conceal all sorts of localised gains and losses that are less commonly discussed by national politicians.

.. when politicians use national indicators to make their case, they implicitly assume some spirit of patriotic mutual sacrifice on the part of voters: you might be the loser on this occasion, but next time you might be the beneficiary. But what if the tables are never turned? What if the same city or region wins over and over again, while others always lose?

.. What if many of the defining questions of our age are not answerable in terms of the extent of people encompassed, but the intensity with which people are affected?

.. the focus on “unemployment” masked the rise of underemployment, that is, people not getting a sufficient amount of work or being employed at a level below that which they are qualified for.

.. It wouldn’t be all that surprising if these same people became suspicious of policy experts and the use of statistics in political debate, given the mismatch between what politicians say about the labour market and the lived reality.

.. it is not enough simply to know which box someone would prefer to put an “X” in. One also needs to know whether they feel strongly enough about doing so to bother. And when it comes to capturing such fluctuations in emotional intensity, polling is a clumsy tool.

.. Figures close to Donald Trump, such as his chief strategist Steve Bannon and the Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel, are closely acquainted with cutting-edge data analytics techniques, via companies such as Cambridge Analytica, on whose board Bannon sits. During the presidential election campaign, Cambridge Analytica drew on various data sources to develop psychological profiles of millions of Americans, which it then used to help Trump target voters with tailored messaging.

.. The new apparatus of number-crunching is well suited to detecting trends, sensing the mood and spotting things as they bubble up. It serves campaign managers and marketers very well. It is less well suited to making the kinds of unambiguous, objective, potentially consensus-forming claims about society that statisticians and economists are paid for.

.. A post-statistical society is a potentially frightening proposition, not because it would lack any forms of truth or expertise altogether, but because it would drastically privatise them. Statistics are one of many pillars of liberalism, indeed of Enlightenment.

.. But the battle that will need to be waged in the long term is not between an elite-led politics of facts versus a populist politics of feeling. It is between those still committed to public knowledge and public argument and those who profit from the ongoing disintegration of those things.