Reverting to a third world s***hole

I’m an American now, no longer a South African . . . yet I can still be disturbed by news from the land of my birth that illustrates just how far it’s fallen from the First World standards that generally prevailed in my youth.  I don’t regret the passing of apartheid – it was a truly evil system of government, with far too much for comfort in common with Nazi Germany, and deserved to die – but what’s replaced it has become a travesty of nationhood.  When even essential traffic control technology is no longer safe, you know that a country’s well on the way to what President Trump (and others, including myself) would call “s***hole status”.

Theft and vandalism is such a big problem that the Johannesburg Roads Agency (JRA) won’t replace some traffic lights.

The situation is so bad that when the JRA tightened security‚ criminals killed two guards to get their hands on the infrastructure.

. . .

The agency said [stolen] traffic signals were recently reinstalled‚ using new copper-clad aluminium cables that have very little resale value. Despite displaying notices pointing out that the cables had no resale value‚ the cables were stolen again.

“Due to the high risk of theft and vandalism in that area‚ it was decided to decommission these traffic signals rather than to continuously rebuild the intersections again at a cost‚ just to have everything stolen again‚” said Scheepers.

. . .

The Gauteng roads department is to install stop signs and road markings. But the department expects thieves to steal the sign boards.

. . .

Scheepers said the JRA had seen a significant increase in theft of all road items that could possibly be resold such as manhole covers‚ steel posts and grids‚ road signage‚ guardrails‚ traffic signal poles‚ copper cables‚ traffic cameras and uninterrupted power supply units.

There’s more at the link.

It’s not just criminal tendencies that are driving those thefts – it’s sheer poverty.  South Africa’s official unemployment rate was 27.7% last year, but that probably understates the real position by at least 50%.  I won’t be surprised if true unemployment – including those not employed in the formal sector, who scrabble to make ends meet through subsistence agriculture or part-time, off-the-books jobs – is in the 40% to 50% range.  When you have poverty like that, you’ll do whatever it takes to survive.  Stealing traffic signals to sell their cables and electronics is one way.  It’s a desperation economy.

Trouble is, there are growing areas of the USA that are becoming like that.  All of those of which I’m aware are in inner-city areas.  I know several where municipal works departments can no longer send a single truck or van to do a job, because it’s more likely than not to be robbed or hi-jacked.  They have to send more people, some to provide security while others do the work that’s required, or have a police patrol car standing by, just in case.  Power cable theft has become rampant in several states, and the theft of electricity itself has been called “the third most stolen item [in the USA], after credit card data and automobiles“.  Poverty can’t be pleaded as an excuse in this country, what with all the government support programs available – not to mention the lucrative trade in illegal narcotics, for which there seems to be endless demand.

It’s culture (or the lack thereof), rather than poverty, that’s driving our problems.  That being the case, can we stop parts of our own country becoming “s***holes” as well?  That’s a good question . . .



  1. Wherever the black African goes, there you have black Africa. Wherever the Muslim goes, there you have Islam. Wherever the Mexican goes, there you have Mexico. It does us no good to ignore the plain and simple truth.

  2. @McChuck: You can't generalize. There are some outstanding Africans, some of whom I was proud to call my friends. I literally trusted them with my life, and I'm only alive today because that trust was not misplaced.

    It's easy to generalize, to blame everyone in a group for the actions of some of that group. It may even be the majority of that group that causes problems . . . but it always comes down to the individual. You judge a person by what he or she does, what they display of themselves as individuals. If you judge by the group, you deny individuality. (For example, President Obama was elected to two terms of office. Does that mean all Americans are, or were, Obama supporters? You could ask the same question about the current Administration. Just being "an American" doesn't automatically make you a supporter of the American president.)

  3. McChuck is stating a truism about racial group differences; Peter is stating a truism about anecdotal evidence. Social policy would be best based on racial group differences.

  4. I was tempted to call your attention to an article I saw last week, where a liberal columnist was trying to make a case that Africa was not a shithole by trying to praise things about the various countries in it. About South Africa he said something about gay rights being enshrined in the constitution. That THAT would be the best case he could make for SA to not be a shithole shows the paucity of both his argument, and his understanding of the world. And also serves as an example of the worthlessness of liberal standards.

  5. When talking about countries, regions, or cities you are perforce talking about groups, and generalizing about groups. When talking about your neighbor, bunkmate, squadmate, etc you are of course talking about individuals.

    It is possible, desirable, and intellectually defensible to discuss broad generalizations about groups. Further, individuals often act against their own desire or benefit when part of a group-for good or ill, vis ordinary germans during WWII, or american farmboys going off to war.

    So again, the behaviour of the group is different from the behaviour of an individual.

    The VAST evidence of years of social experiment, and plain observation says, blacks in Africa will not spontaneously build civilizations or any organization that can build and progress, in the western mode. American blacks, en masse, NEVER improve the area where they are found. I have been challenging people for years to give me more than one example of an area that IMPROVED when large numbers of blacks moved in.

    I can point to many neighborhoods that improved in any way you'd like to measure when Hispanics, Asians, whites, or even gays moved there in numbers. We even have words to describe what happens. Whites, gays, hispanics = gentrification. Blacks = ghettoization.

    White flight isn't just about racism, although that plays a part. It's the reaction to decades of evidence that the property you have a significant portion of your net worth tied up in will begin to devalue dramatically, until you can't get ANY money out of it.

    As groups, whatever the base reasons, whites, blacks, europeans, africans approach life differently, act differently, are different, and those differences get "built in" to the societies and civilizations and cultures of the groups.

    As a westerner, with european heritage, I'll say that our way of life and our culture is one of the best ever devised for the world and the individuals who make it up. More freedom, more wealth, more opportunity.

    anon, because you can't have a discussion about these things in public

  6. I'd ask, "What are the cultural values, or lack of cultural values, that encourage stealing infrastructure?"

    In South Africa and other parts of the world, it seems to be poverty and desperate need for anything that can be sold or traded for food/water/shelter/medicine or other necessities.

    If the US doesn't have that level of poverty, and given that it takes work to starve or go completely without shelter in the US, what cultural values encourage stealing infrastructure and hi-jacking utilities repair equipment? "Drugs" is the easy answer, but what encourages people to do drugs to the point that they feel that going without power and water is better than leaving public works un-touched? Is there a way for society at large to find carrots and sticks that will encourage a cultural shift away from "steal power cables and/or electricity?"

    For the record, I do not believe that culture is determined by birth. It is not genetic, and can be accepted or discarded if an individual so chooses.


  7. So Peter, given your two alternatives, would you rather live in the S.A. of your youth while virtue sniffing about some of the attributes that kept it safe,


    live in it like it is now, after it has attained "s***hole status"?

    Or do you think that it is just coincidental that rejecting one culture (notice I did not say color)to adopt another has no consequences?

  8. This failure of culture is really the conflict between 'high trust' cultures and 'low trust' cultures. There is a lot on the web if you are unfamiliar with the terms.

    Basically, the US, a traditionally 'high trust' culture, is seeing what happens when either a place is overrun with 'low trust' migrants (from outside the area), or devolves into 'low trust' due to circumstances.

    One of the striking things about mexico is that flood lights and security lights are usually encased in rebar cages set in concrete. It's the only way they can be kept from being stolen.

    In areas of Houston, people have built similar cages around the outdoor part of their air conditioning systems. The condenser is often stolen for its scrap value. One of the very clear signs of being in a high theft area are those cages. Those areas have become 'low trust'.

    The people of Detroit were abandoned by their 'rulers' and have reverted to a 'low trust' society. The people of other areas in the US have been replaced by migrants from 'low trust' societies.

    Low trust societies see anyone outside their clan group as a willing victim, to be taken advantage of for the benefit of the clan. They see the state in the same light. And the result is movement from high trust to low trust as individuals and as groups, and a downward spiral to shitholia.

    It's not reversible, save by replacing (or dis-placing) the low trust occupants of the region, or by giving them reason to see the surrounding area as part of their group.

    Very hard to stop the self reinforcing downward spiral when seen in these terms.


  9. Apartheid is why SA was a first world country. Even with apartheid, illegal immigration was terrible in SA.

    While one can point to exceptions among people, the reason Africa is the hole it is is because of Africans. Most subsaharan the countries are all low trust societies. Botswana seems to be the only exception, and they are holes as a result.

    The anglosphere is a result of the protestant reformation and we are seeing the result as the anglosphere abandons that heritage. Corruption and little trust are the result.

  10. Add to that a belief in free will, and the protestant work ethic, and in no small measure the idea that everything was put on the earth by God for the USE of man.

    Fatalism, predestination, the modern idea that the earth is supreme and we are parasites upon it and it must be protected from humans at all cost- these are the ideas that prohibit development, industry, and real progress.


  11. Peter – There are individuals, who may be judged individually. Then there are peoples, who are judged corporately. While there are always individual outliers, groups may be confidently be judged by their averages.

    An individual black man may be a fine, decent, upstanding citizen. But that's not the way to bet on a dark night. You served in the prison system – are or are not blacks over represented among the criminal classes? How do you explain the fact that blacks are 8 times more likely to commit violent crimes than whites? Hint – it's not poverty.

    Humans are not born with an innate culture, any more than they are born with a common language. But groups have group traits, and all children will learn their parent's culture as well as their language. And culture is far deeper and harder to change than language.

    Blacks are observably less intelligent and more violent than whites, wherever they are, whatever their economic circumstances. (Poverty does not cause crime and ignorance. Ignorance and crime cause poverty.) Black infants raised in white homes are far more likely to fail out of school and commit crimes than their white siblings. If you do not believe there are different races of men, then you must also not believe there are different breeds of dogs, for the causes and effects of both are the same. If you can tell the appearance and behavior of a Labrador from a Pekingese, then you can also tell the difference between a Somali and a Swede.

  12. Well, I feel the overwhelming urge to scrape the soles of my shoes on the curb after stepping through the excrement of your commenters, Peter. As it usually is, most of the depositors are anonymous.

    The success of Western culture lies in no small part to belief and espousal of the power and sanctity of the individual. The American Dream is that anyone can come here and overcome "where they came from" to be a valued citizen. Once we start assigning implicit traits to different groups, we become no better than the monarchies and failed colonies we left behind. Not everyone achieves that success, even among those born with every advantage.

    McChuck, if you equate breeds of dogs to races of men, then surely you must acknowledge how often the mixed breed is smarter and more capable than a purebreed? Most geneticists will tell you about "hybrid vigor" and the dangers of inbreeding, and why mixing characteristics creates a superior line. I suspect you are not advocating that, though.

  13. Majority Black culture in the us has become disfunctional. There is as a study showing it took 3 generations for higher performing carribean immigrants to lower themselves to average of black economics. Genetics? No, culture.

    Some guesses:

    1. Disintegration of black family. Fatherless houses
    2. Cycle of poverty / family history
    3. Not working
    4. Blame culture
    5. Affirmative action
    6. Lack of value culturally of education

  14. Why is SA going backwards economically?

    Rhodesia is another example.

    Some guesses:

    1. Tribalism – same issue the Arab world has
    2. Low trust society
    3. Belief of shared ownership – I think there was an artical by a former peace Corp person, who explained how this killed motivation. Why work hard when a cousin can share your rewards?
    4. Lack of rule of law
    5. Remnants of socialism in ruling party’s ideology
    6. Corruption
    7. AIDS – huge hidden cost
    8. Polygamy – nuclear family is the best family economic work group to date

  15. Great post Peter! Marijuana growing is the reason for a huge amount of electricity theft in the us. Grow lights take a lot of juice. There was an interesting article about how smart meters can be hacked linked in the article.

  16. Aunty Bubba – you need to worry about the shite tumbling from your lips than the crap on your sandals.

    Respect is EARNED. By any metric you use, be it IQ, crime stats, SAT scores – blacks as a group are dumber, more violent and LAZY. It's been at least 50 years since you could reasonably blame that on Whitey or racism.

    The fact is that hybrid vigour is another PC pile of hooey. The police departments do not commonly use hienz 57's for law enforcement. You don't get champion race horses from mixed breed hobby farms. Dispense with the fake science – or do you believe in Warble Gloaming too?

    Stuff the virtue signalling, folks. We are all smart enough not to generalize – except liberals, who refuse to see Africa, Detroit, New Orleans and African city/states as failures. We have a HUGE problem right now: the racists were right about a few things and unless we move to dispense with PC bullchit, feral blacks will be starting race and civil wars here in America too.

    Hey – I don't like it either, but it is what it is. The third world is a chithole because of the people that live there. Now they're here.

  17. Antibubba:

    "anon, because you can't have a discussion about these things in public"

    did you miss that? Your response was the first attack directed at individuals commenting. Frankly, I'm stunned that this place isn't overflowing with vitriol from the world of virtue-signalers. I'd be using "anon" also, if I was going to wade into this subject.

    My only comment in your direction is that to address a problem, you first have to define the situation, and determine the variables involved. That's where it usually falls apart on this subject. Too much emotion, no supporting facts that people will accept.

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