Thursday, September 26, 2019

Early experience, not genes, shapes child abusers (?)

So it is claimed below. It may be true that most child abusers were themselves abused in childhhod but it does not follow that abuse always makes one an abuser.  Rather to the contrary from some examples I have seen: People are often determined that their kids will have a better deal than they had. So precluding a genetic influence on child abusers is dumb and does, I believe, miss the big story:  Child abusers tend to be low IQ people, low IQ males in particular. So it would seem that child abusers will always be with us.  Eugenics no longer has a constituency.

Stories of children killed or disabled by those responsible for them always grieve me greatly but the one consolation I have is that the murdered kid would probably have turned out pretty dumb too -- though that is not at all certain.

I don't know if this study below by Darius Maestipieri, a primate expert at the University of Chicago, is really worth commenting on. It purports to show that child abusers get that way not by genetic inheritance (e.g. by being born stupid, uncontrolled or aggressive) but by being abused themselves as children. The research concerned, however, was based on a small group of Macaque monkeys and I cannot see how the results can be statistically significant, let alone meaningful in any other way.

And this finding would seem to contradict their conclusion anyway: "almost half of those raised by abusive mothers did not become abusers themselves." That seems to indicate genes at work to me. And I won't ask questions about measures taken to preclude observer bias. No good beating a dead horse

Child abuse may be more of a learnt behaviour than a genetic trait, new research on monkeys suggests. If true, the understanding may provide the opportunity to break the cycle of abuse that runs in some families.

As many as 70% of parents who abuse their children were themselves abused while growing up. Maternal abuse of offspring in macaque monkeys shares some similarities with child maltreatment in humans, including its transmission across generations. This pattern of abuse has led to speculation that it may have a genetic basis.

Darius Maestipieri, a primate expert at the University of Chicago, US, tested the theory by observing a population of macaques across two generations. He took some of the newborn female infants from the group and cross-fostered them among the mothers, about half of which were abusers.

In the next generation, he found that 9 of the 16 females who were abused in infancy by their biological or foster mothers turned out to be abusive towards their own offspring.

But none of the 15 females raised by their non-abusive biological or foster mothers maltreated their offspring, including those whose biological mothers were abusers. This indicates that intergenerational transmission of abuse is not genetically caused.

Protective personality

“This study into primate patterns of abuse can be directly related to human abuse,” argues Maestipieri. “What it shows is that the effect of experiencing abuse first-hand or through experiencing siblings being abused is very significant in determining whether somebody will become an abuser.

“But it’s also interesting to note that almost half of those raised by abusive mothers did not become abusers themselves,” he told New Scientist. “We should try to discover what it is about these infants’ personalities or socially supportive environment that protected them from abusive effects.”

Chris Cloke, head of child protection awareness at the UK’s National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, is wary of applying animal studies directly to humans. But he adds: “We know the damaging consequences of child abuse can last into adulthood and affect the way children are brought up. Experiences of abuse in infancy can be particularly important as the brain develops fast in the first year of life.

He also notes: “With the right sort of help people with abusive childhoods can often grow up to be loving parents.”

Maestipieri believes that while some abuse is learnt through direct or indirect experience, physiological changes incurred during abuse may predispose behaviour patterns. “There is evidence that early trauma causes people to become more susceptible to stress, and less able to cope with emotionally challenging situations, so that they could react more easily by ‘losing it’,” he says.

Macaques who abuse their offspring do so early on, during the first three months of life. Abuse, which occurs about once an hour, is brief and takes the form of being overly controlling and violent towards the infant. Actions include biting infants or treating them like an inanimate object – dragging the baby around by its leg or tail, tossing it in the air, or stepping on it.

Journal reference: Proceedings of the National Academies of Science (DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0504122102)


Government Virtue-Signaling Severely Misallocates Resources

There are now 90 homeless camps in Oakland—more than one camp per square mile—most even worse than that pictured, each littered with unimaginable filth and trash.

Yet how does the government choose to allocate the resources it never fails to remind us are severely limited—it can’t pave the streets, educate kids, respond to 911 calls, or do anything to stop spiraling homelessness?

Patrolling private garbage cans and dumpsters.

We received via Certified Mail a notice bearing this badge, of our Violation of the “Mandatory Recycling and Plant Debris Disposal Ban Ordinances,” accompanied by seven photos of the outside and interior of our garbage dumpster, showing—horrors!—a cardboard box and some lunch room food waste included in our trash!

The following violations and fines were checked:

Disposal of Covered Materials – Recyclables Section 2012.01.4(a) $100.00

Provide information at least annually to tenants, employees, and contractors of their obligation to keep Covered Materials from garbage $300.00

One can only imagine the manpower going into such “dumpster-diving” of every dumpster in the county, recording multiple images for every one found with any items covered by the Ban, and the personnel, paperwork and Certified postage for its enforcement.

Meanwhile, we pay the following for garbage services, monthly:

* Regular garbage: $581.09
* Recycling: $95.00
* New “Organics” dumpster for food and plant waste: $183.01
* Lock fee (paid for the privilege of having padlocks on our dumpster to prevent their being filled with other people’s garbage): $56.18

In all, nearly $1,000/month for a small office building in which fewer than 30 people are employed.

Maybe we would consider it worth it—if we weren’t also paying private haulers to take away the items regularly illegally dumped here, and weren’t otherwise assaulted by piles of trash all over Oakland

Meanwhile, members of the private sector have been taking matters into their own hands–see, for example, Scott Presler’s #CleanUp movement that has done trash clean-up in Baltimore, Newark, Virginia Beach and Los Angeles; and Oakland’s Pothole Vigilantes.

The response by the powers-that-be?

Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf tells the Pothole Vigilantes via Twitter: Thanks PVs [Pothole Vigilantes], this job will be for in-house union pros.

While the Baltimore Sun’s editorial board questioned Presler’s motives for his group’s clean-up there, saying: Call us skeptical.... Whatever he says his motives were, Mr. Presler’s presence in Baltimore reinforces the tired image of our failing urban cores.

Yes, citizens, don’t help yourselves—that’s Gov’s job!


Thoughts on Housing Affordability and Homelessness in California

I am honored to have been invited to join a group of policy experts in the SoCal Policy Forum, a project of the Southern California News Group—which consists of 11 Southern California newspapers, including the Orange County Register, (Riverside) Press-Enterprise, Los Angeles Daily News, (Torrance) Daily Breeze, and Long Beach Press-Telegram—and the University of California, Riverside. The experts, who have a diverse set of viewpoints and backgrounds, are asked on a quarterly basis to briefly weigh in on issues of the day, and their responses are published on the project’s website. Other project contributions include full-length columns in the newspapers and community forums with the experts and state and local stakeholders.

The SoCal Policy Forum recently kicked off with its first set of issues, tackling housing affordability and homelessness. My responses are available at the project’s site, but I am copying them below since it is easier to see them all in one place, since the site organizes the experts’ responses randomly for each question, rather than by author.

Question 1: From your perspective, how are the problems of housing affordability and homelessness linked, and how are they different?

There is certainly a good deal of overlap between the housing affordability and homelessness crises, particularly here in California, because financial issues are one of the leading causes of homelessness, and housing is typically one’s greatest expenditure. But there are a number of other reasons people become homeless—including job loss, substance abuse, mental health issues, physical disabilities and medical emergencies, death of a loved one (particularly a head of household) and other family issues—so it is far from a perfect correlation.

According to San Francisco’s 2019 survey of the homeless, for example, the loss of a job was the No. 1 primary reason for homelessness (26 percent), followed by alcohol or drug abuse (18 percent), eviction (13 percent), being kicked out by family or friends (12 percent), and mental health issues (8 percent).

As a result, improving housing affordability (as well as other costs of living and making it easier for people to obtain sound employment) will significantly reduce homelessness, but it will not in itself solve the problem, just as focusing solely on substance abuse and mental health issues will not eliminate it. This is why homelessness, especially, is such a difficult problem, and why steps must be taken in a number of policy areas—from taxation and regulation to housing to job growth and economic opportunity—to adequately address these issues.

Question 2: From your perspective, what is missing in the HOUSING AFFORDABILITY conversation so far in Southern California? And in looking for solutions, what role should government (federal, state, or local) play? And what roles should the private sector and non-profits sector play?

There is a growing realization that California’s housing crisis is fundamentally a supply problem, but too many of the commonly proposed solutions fail to address the issues that discourage homebuilding in the state—and many would even make things worse.

Soaking taxpayers with expensive housing bonds will only add to their cost burdens, and making housing less profitable through rent control or affordable housing mandates only inhibits the investment needed for more housing. Even government-funded “affordable housing” developments average about $425,000 per unit, and can reach $700,000 or more per unit.

The state and local governments should, instead, simply remove the obstacles they have put in place that have driven up land and construction prices so much. Restrictive zoning limits the amount of land that can be developed, thus driving up prices, and has been used to discourage more affordable options like boarding houses. Development fees average more than $23,000 per single-family home—about three times the national average—and can be much higher in certain areas, topping $60,000 per home in Oakland and totaling roughly $150,000 per home in Irvine and Fremont. Prevailing (union) wage mandates drive up construction labor costs by as much as 30 percent. The California Environmental Quality Act has been used to squash or tie up developments for years and “greenmail” developers into adopting prevailing wage requirements and extract additional amenities and other concessions, further discouraging homebuilding. Excessive building code requirements also add to home prices, and the solar roof mandate will likely add another $10,000 to $20,000 to the cost of a home, beginning next year.

Getting rid of so many taxes, fees and regulations—which easily account for one-quarter or more of the price of a new home (see here and here)—would bring down housing costs substantially and spur the development needed to meet demand.

Question 3: From your perspective, what is missing in the HOMELESSNESS conversation so far in Southern California? And in looking for solutions, what role should government (federal, state, or local) play? And what roles should the private sector and non-profits sector play?

It strikes me that there are a couple of aspects of the homelessness problem that need more attention, one demographic and one economic.

The demographics of the homeless population are complex, and people become and remain homeless for a variety of reasons, which is why there is no single “silver bullet” to solving the problem. Some see homeless people as primarily those with drug and alcohol addiction problems or mental health issues, while others see people mainly down on their luck due to financial issues, oftentimes beyond their control, who just need a temporary helping hand. There is truth to both views, and both of these issues represent significant pieces to the puzzle, but the reality is more nuanced and varied, as noted in the response to the first question above.

Many acknowledge that securing a decent job is among the best ways for one to get himself or herself out of homelessness, but not enough attention is paid to the impediments that make this so much more difficult. Occupational licensing laws, for example, serve as a barrier to work by imposing government fees and oftentimes unnecessary education and training requirements, like hair braiders forced to attend expensive cosmetology schools to learn skills they will never use.

In addition, a job paying $10 an hour might allow a homeless person to live in a boarding house or stay temporarily in a flophouse until he can work his way up the economic ladder, but minimum wage laws and zoning restrictions prevent such arrangements. Even payday loans, though they may not be cheap and are often demonized, nonetheless help many get through short-term financial emergencies. These may not be ideal arrangements, but they are still much better alternatives than resorting to loan sharks or sleeping in one’s vehicle or on the street.

Question 4: Is there anything else you would like to add on the topic of affordable housing or homelessness?

As much as we would all like to eradicate homelessness altogether, we must recognize that some portion of the homeless population will refuse all help, and direct our scarce resources to those who can most likely benefit from them. The hard truth is that we cannot force assistance on those who reject it, and we cannot afford to waste time and money on them when those efforts could be so helpful to others willing to do what it takes to improve their situation.

Finally, precisely because our resources are scarce, it would be more effective for individuals concerned with the homelessness problem to direct their time and money to private charities, rather than large, sweeping government programs (with their large, sweeping government bureaucracies). Private charities generally are more responsive to the needs of their communities because they have greater local knowledge of what must be done, and they have greater incentives to show positive results in order to generate future donations. Heavy-handed government involvement, by contrast, relies on compulsion (i.e., taxation) instead of charity, and need not be effective in order to continue receiving its funding.


Ivanka Trump says her dad is 'politically correct' compared to mom Ivana who wore stilettos to construction sites – and NEVER let her get away with anything because she was from a harsh communist country

Ivanka Trump joked Monday that her mother – Donald Trump's first wife – makes the president look 'politically correct.'

Although Trump said that her mother Ivana is a 'tough,' 'strong' woman, she conceded that she has a great sense of humor that some view as insensitive.

'She's also really funny,' Trump told the crowd at the Concordia Summit in New York City on Monday. 'She makes my father look politically correct, it's fascinating.'

The audience, which was attending Trump's talk on the White House's Women's Global Development and Prosperity Initiative, responded to this revelation with laugher.

'All my friends would love to hear what my mom had to say on every topic,' Trump reminisced.

The host of Trump's remarks at the summit on global women empowerment said he recently learned that Ivana was a 'take-no-prisoners' type of woman. And Trump said that her mother's attitude and parenting style reflected her childhood growing up in communist Czechoslovakia.

'So my mom grew up in communist Czech Republic,' Trump explained, 'which means as a child I got away with nothing. So she is definitely tough, definitely take no prisoners.'

Trump said that Ivana, 70, is her 'role model' and attributed a 'good part' of her success to her sometimes loose-lipped mother.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here


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