Too Much To Lose

In the comments of this post, MC makes a good point:

I read something about California recently in which the author described how the state will fine people like him thousands of dollars for a wrongly-laid drain, while ignoring the illegal plumbing of illegal immigrants.

This is related to the Hither Green Chavshrine™ and a comment made by The Manc:

It could cause a flash point, but it won’t, because decent law-abiding people have too much to lose to bother getting caught up in something like this.

I’m starting to believe that western societies, once they reach a certain level of wealth and comfort, will start to implode. One of the ways this will happen is the middle classes – who provide the the ruling classes with legitimacy – will have too much to lose to even raise their head in opposition to obvious abuses of state power. Now the masses having a lot to lose is generally a good thing: it stops them taking to the hills and enduring immense hardships while fighting pointless civil wars, for example. But as with most things, there appears to be an inflection point where the population goes from being generally satisfied to being utterly cowed. The state authorities, which by their nature look for soft targets, find it all too easy to threaten the comfortable existence of the middle classes with ruinous fines, reputational damage, and other punishments which overnight could upend their entire lives. By contrast, those who don’t have as much to lose, e.g. illegal immigrants in California or travellers in Hither Green, take a lot more effort for the ruling classes to keep in line.

You see a similar thing happening in large corporations, which interestingly Tommy Robinson mentioned in his recent podcast with James Delingpole. Robinson said the reason there is so little pushback from the masses against the ruling classes over scandals such as the Rotherham and Telford abuses or terrorism is because they enjoy extremely comfortable lives paid for by taking on colossal quantities of debt. This in turn means they are desperate to hold onto their jobs, terrified they may lose it along with their living standards. It’s not that people won’t find another job, but more they won’t find one which pays the same money: the tendency is for people’s lifestyles to expand to match their wages, meaning taking a lower paid job is not an option unless they wish to downgrade their lifestyle. If ever you’ve watched one of those programmes on TV where an expert takes a person faced with bankruptcy and tries to get them back into the black, this is an exceptionally difficult thing to do. But the expenditure which cripples most people is housing; years of government manipulation has forced the middle classes to extend themselves well beyond what is sensible, and people will put up with anything to avoid losing the only job which pays for their home. Managers in companies know this only too well, mainly because they are in a similar situation themselves, and use this leverage in the form of veiled and not-so-veiled threats to obtain compliance from their subordinates. If this goes on long enough, normal management practices are abandoned entirely and this leverage becomes the standard tool. The result is an ubiquity of moral cowardice in the workplace.

This wouldn’t be such a problem if the aims of the ruling classes and corporations were separate, but the line between the two is becoming increasingly blurred. Governments have realised they can police people’s behaviour and political opinions by outsourcing it to employers. Whether by accident or design, companies were forced to employ sprawling HR departments to remain compliant with the growing thicket of government regulations, but now serve to ensure anyone who expresses unapproved opinions gets booted from their job. As I’ve written before, what makes the situation worse is you have people on the right queuing up to defend this practice.

In summary, you have the vast majority of the population paying off mountainous debts on their homes, terrified of losing their jobs; you have managers and HR departments using this leverage as a matter of course; and you have those same managers and HR departments increasingly doing the bidding of politicians. If there is a better way of keeping a population cowed short of Gulags and mass murder, I’d be interested to hear of it.

So it’s not surprising the law-abiding in California or Hither Green are being shoved around by the authorities while illegals and travellers are free to do as they please. The shoving around is a feature of the system, not a bug. The other part of The Manc’s comment completes the picture:

The only angry young men we have couldn’t give a shit about this type of thing. It’s not the type of flashpoint that created the 2011 riots.

The only people prepared to take on the authorities are those who have little or nothing to lose by the criteria set by the ruling classes. Until that criteria changes, ordinary people are going to keep finding themselves on the wrong side; until they start voting differently, the criteria won’t change.

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40 thoughts on “Too Much To Lose

  1. You can push the “crushing mortgage debt” narrative too far. Only a third of the adult population has a mortgage and more people are savers than borrowers.

    You are right, however, in saying that the middle classes have too much to lose to be able to stick a metaphorical two fingers up at the authorities, but that is not necessarily fear of losing financial security: the middle classes have a lot invested in the structures of Western civilisation; the rule of law; our traditions; and the trust inherent in both of those.

  2. Vote against the elites every time. Trump, Brexit, etc.

    In the UK that might mean voting Tory for now – as I think they will see Brexit through.

    The next recession / market meltdown will cause the EU to have to reform – or lose a few members. Huzzah!

  3. It’s also the fear of losing your place in respectable society. Say the wrong thing and you’re an outcast, and you’ll never get a decent job again.

  4. I understand the idea that access to “nice” jobs is predicated on not being a troublemaker; but how does this square with your view that big lumbering companies are slowly turning into milch cows for more nimble subcontractors?

    Having a criminal record for beating up a traveller would prevent you getting past HR* in e.g. Carillion; but it wouldn’t stop you getting a job at one of their subcontractors. The terms wouldn’t be as generous though, and the work would likely be harder.

    (*although given that women tend to fancy ex-cons, and women populate HR, it might not be such a barrier after all)

  5. I’m in Singapore at the moment, a place which is allegedly oppressive and authoritarian. It is certainly not a democracy and the government places restrictions on free speech. However, I don’t think it is any more restrictive than the UK, they simply restrict different speech – dissent rather than hate speech.

    I also feel that the police here are still on the side of the law-abiding citizen.

    Also, bizarrely, voting does occasionally seem to work here. There was a big anti-immigration backlash in 2011, such that the PAP saw its massive majority slide noticeably. They subsequently tightened up the immigration rules and this is still the case. Can’t remember the last time any UK political party in power took notice of the public stance on immigration.

    Plus of course everything works here and the tax is low.

    It is rather sweaty of course…

  6. It’s not just debt. People don’t want to be portrayed badly and fear of a public shaming is another factor. Even in the rare case that the tabloids might ostensibly be on your side no doubt they’d be digging for dirt on you for tomorrow’s copy.
    I’m surprised anyone so much as dares tweet these days without the back up of a full PR, marketing and legal team.

  7. “Black man got a lot of problems but they don’t mind throwing a brick,
    White man goes to school where they teach you how to be thick,
    Everybody doing just what they’re told to,
    ‘Cause nobody wants to…. go to jail!”

  8. I understand the idea that access to “nice” jobs is predicated on not being a troublemaker; but how does this square with your view that big lumbering companies are slowly turning into milch cows for more nimble subcontractors?

    You’ve answered that yourself: HR are concerned with employees, not subcontractors.

  9. Ugh, you’ve hit quite close to home on this one.

    I’m in the process of cashing in on my house value increase to reduce my debt for some of the purposes you mention. I still have too much to lose, though.

  10. People don’t want to be portrayed badly and fear of a public shaming is another factor.

    That’s probably due to the decline of religion. Time was, provided you weren’t a complete dick and went to church, people thought you were probably all right. Now everyone has to run around virtue-signalling all day, e.g. by posting Facebook posts about plastic in the bloody ocean. Most of these people would be better off getting their arses down to church on a Sunday and leaving the rest of us alone.

  11. Our civilisation is in the post-peak decadent decline phase. And we’re not reproducing. More vital, younger, more aggressive, more reproductive civilisations will replace us at some point.

  12. The enforcers in society, either official or self-designated, will always go after the low-hanging fruit. Why confront real problems when imagined difficulties can be squished without too much effort?

    The feature of governments in the west, from California to the rocky Hither Greens, is to imagine siding with the troublemakers will enable the ‘authorities’ to put pressure on the law abiding: a fanatic may openly carry a banner calling for the beheading of people but ordinary folk find it best not to say anything about it. As we know PC Webwatcher is ready to move fast to quell any threat to our collective happiness.

    The problem is further fuelled by governments randomly choosing which law to enforce. When, for instance, an illegal walks through the Chunnel and then is granted permission to stay in the UK in recognition of his walking abilities despite having broken the law when entering the country, it is a tacit admission that law enforcement is a variable. Well, perhaps there are too many laws and no one can keep track of which ones are important these days. Maybe all this is because everything has got too complex, though we can be assured every government that gains power will introduce yet more and more laws, regulations and codes of practice.

    If they didn’t, they fear people might think they shouldn’t be there.

  13. @Patrick:

    It’s an interesting notion that the billionaire oligarch Donald Trump is a non-elite. Real partner of the common man he is.

    @MC:

    Brexit was the last time the govt took notice of the public attitude to immigration.

    @AndrewM:

    Carillion isn’t hiring anyone right now 😉

  14. I saw a wonderful example of the malicious, lazy State on Twitter today. Apparently Companies House have made one prosecution in five years for registering fictitious companies. Their target? A man who registered one AND TOLD THEM ABOUT IT to highlight their lethargy.

    Can’t link, search for Companies House and Oliver Bullough on Twitter.

    This really is a fantastic example of what State agencies are really like.

  15. “Robinson said the reason there is so little pushback from the masses against the ruling classes over scandals such as the Rotherham and Telford abuses or terrorism”
    A lot of people don’t want to complain about that because it would be “racist”

  16. Bloke in Germany: Look at what Trump is trying to do to the deep state elites, and the wailing and gnashing that his election elicited. And then you’ll know if he is one of them or not.

  17. Brexit was the last time the govt took notice of the public attitude to immigration.

    Ah yes, Brexit was when the huddled wossnames ignored the advice of their betters and voted against them furriners. Nothing to do with sovereignty or freedom.

  18. That’s probably due to the decline of religion

    You may be onto something. The whole point of Christianity, after all, is that everybody is a scumbag who needs to be forgiven, so you better do your best to forgive everybody and get along with people so that they will forgive you, and don’t judge them because you really, really don’t want them judging you.

    Get rid of that, and of course everybody’s immediately going to start judging everybody, as well as trying to prove how they are better that everybody else, so they have the right to judge, all while being secretly terrified that the big judgy eye of judginess will some day get turned on them.

    And where does that get you? Twitter, that’s where.

  19. I’m starting to believe that western societies, once they reach a certain level of wealth and comfort, will start to implode.

    Although the lunatics who promote it are a cesspool of beta male racists, the r/K theory of mating and parenting strategies predicts this quite well.

  20. Meh, it’s more that we’re “correcting” back to the natural state of authoritarianism, but this time we’re doing it in style.

    I mean, look at your own implied arguments: to counter Big Corp and their HR departments getting cozy with gov’t edicts we need to…further curtail freedom of association and property rights via gov’t edicts. The ratchet continues apace.

    Look, we have it great. Better than anyone in the past, ever. People naturally take things like this for granted and end up losing it. Again, look at your own words:

    “Now the masses having a lot to lose is generally a good thing: it stops them taking to the hills and enduring immense hardships while fighting pointless civil wars, for example.”

    I would think “having a lot to lose in the first place” would be the #1 example of a good thing, but then I don’t automatically think like a state actor. Imagining oneself as the state is common, and allows the ratchet to continue apace.

    We have inherited Utopia yet bitch endlessly about our bounty without doing much to ensure it remains overflowing. Enjoy the good times and prepare for the bad folks.

  21. I mean, look at your own implied arguments: to counter Big Corp and their HR departments getting cozy with gov’t edicts we need to…further curtail freedom of association and property rights via gov’t edicts.

    If I’ve called for that, I’m unaware of it.

  22. The company i work for is heading the way of Carillion,it is constantly bleating on about the gender pay gap and gay pride/diversity bollox and if you question the reasoning behind these beliefs or tell them they are possibly not focusing on their real job you will be sidelined or even demoted,funnily enough a year ago it was in the footsie 100 its now in the footsie 250 it’s share price has halved in two years and now it is laying off 500 workers,obviously not the cheap as chips bulgarian agency staff of course,the unions and workers committees are complicit in all of this.

  23. I am always skeptical about these stories of fines and such by government especially in California. The reality is usually far different from the tale told. First off, the code enforcement people usually don’t even bother to show up until other nearby property owners have been screaming at them for several years, begging them to do something. Then after years of court action the property owner is finally forced to clean it up or have it cleaned up for them and be fined. The government inefficiency cuts both ways. Typically if they can avoid doing anything at all they will.

  24. “an inflection point”: I suspect you mean a turning point. Your old maths master would be horrified.

    “Until that criteria changes”: ‘criteria’ is plural. Your old English master ….

  25. suspect you mean a turning point.

    Eek, yes.

    Your old maths master would be horrified.

    He would.

    Until that criteria changes”: ‘criteria’ is plural. Your old English master

    Oh, sod it.

  26. “Most of these people would be better off getting their arses down to church on a Sunday”: good point, that.

    Obvs need Sunday services at the Gaian Church of the Holy Environment. Maybe that felt need is being answered in a clumsy and ineffective way by the C of E. I imagine that the Roman Catholics will hew to whiskey, buggery, and the lash.

  27. My kid sister has a vineyard in Napa and is driven to distraction complying with leftie nonsense.Her and fellow vineyard managers are very aware that they are cash cows and targets and their workers often joke with them about the way in which they rather than Mexicans are treated.

  28. Victor Davis Hanson has written extensively about disfunctional California, it sounds like a crazy State to live in but always nice for short visit.

  29. Unfortunately many people WANT to live in a society such as ours. Try suggesting that pub owners should decide whether their patrons can smoke or not, or that people should be able to have guns (even with a proper test and licence). The Eloi are in fact in charge and they want you to be an Eloi too.

  30. “I am always skeptical about these stories of fines and such by government”

    For my sins, I bought a piece of access road in Dagenham. It’s right in the middle of it, so houses/roads/flats everywhere, ie its not a desert (even if a shithole). It was used as a garbage dump by all and sundry. Who do you think had to pay a fine and several 1000s pounds to get it cleaned? The fly-tippers (who would just back up their van and empty it in broad daylight, or worse were the people actually living there)? Nah, those people were left alone. The owner, the victim of such vandalism, that’s who. Because he’s solvent and has an address.

    Until one has to deal with such bureaucracies, one has no idea how utterly corrupt and useless they are.

  31. On the other hand, I find it rather perplexing that the people unable to buy a house without essentially getting themselves indentured would think they have much to lose. The success of Corbyn seems to indicate a lot of them rather think they have absolutely nothing to lose (which is, of course, as smart as putting out fire with gasoline).

  32. Yay! How’s the instalanche Tim?

    Ooh, I didn’t spot that!

    *runs to check web stats*

  33. After repeated hacks of up to $90-K on major credit cards, since early 1990s we’ve used debit-purchase only; kept well-informed without recourse to ridiculously inane print and TV media; above all, remained financially independent without recourse to corporate paymasters.

    To those who say, “This can’t be done” we answer, “You just don’t care to do it.” Remarkable how life improves, once one takes this route.

  34. California resident. Anything you have heard about California Government is probably true. Many businesses are relocating mostly to Texas and Nevada, because California sees them as cash cows,rather than assets. Politically, it is dominated by the Democrat party at all levels, so to distinguish themselves too voters, they move further left, and virtue signal through the legislature, and proclaim their “resistance” to Trump. City services are uneven, but the virtue signalling is limiting regular citizen’s options. Look at my old Home town, Palo Alto, choking off streets with planters and pedestrian only areas to choke off car traffic, in expressed opposition to the city residents wishes. A sanctimonious “Road Diet” plan by the unelected city bureaucracy. Very expensive as well. California (political) values have diverged dramatically, from Constitutional American values, and the friction is evident in Attorney General Jeff Sessions warnings to California over the Sanctuary for Illegal Aliens issue. On the upcoming November ballot, there are a couple of initiatives, one for splitting the state into three, and one for leaving the USA, (Calexit). They probably are not binding, but it will not prevent the political establishment here from using as a distraction from the state’s budget and pension crisis. If I could afford to move out of state, I would.

  35. Is “Traveller” code for “Gypsy”?

    Yes. If I want to make a particular point unrelated to actual terminology, I tend to use whatever terminology the MSM adopts so it doesn’t detract from the main point. It’s why I refer to Chelsea Manning as “she”, for example.

  36. Interesting hypothesis, Tim. In the poli sci literature it is conventional wisdom that a rising middle class is the biggest threat to authoritarian rule in developing/low middle income countries. The middle class demands political rights and social status commensurate with their improved economic condition.

    You suggest a sort of mirror image–in developed (and senescent, literally and figuratively) countries, a stagnant/established middle class is the bulwark of authoritarianism. The mechanism you propose makes sense. Whereas in developing countries the middle class exploits its economic power to demand political rights from the state, in mature/senescent economies the middle class is willing to bargain away political rights in order to maintain economic status.

  37. I think this was one reason why the leftists and statists were so terrified of the Tea Party several years back. We did nothing at all threatening, talking about the constitution, rule of law, honest government, less regulation, less taxes, no bailouts, gun rights, the greatness of the founders, our proud history, was hardly the acts of angry racist dangerous people out to overthrow the gov. But the mere fact that a bunch of polite middle class people were willing to gather together as activists was something they thought would never happen. Grass roots activists were violent leftists, whose organizers had to be appeased and bought off by corrupt handouts, never nice polite middle class people who cleaned up after their rallies, had no organizers who needed to be bought off, and wanted things to be fair for everybody.

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