PITA Populations

Vice‘s report on the Roma issue in Slovakia has been receiving a lot of attention. Despite the determinedly bleeding-heart angling, it conveys the basic reality of the situation adequately. It’s not exactly ‘the moron problem‘, but it’s not exactly different, either.

[Július Beluscsák] The mayor, a former physician and a coalition candidate from Slovakia’s center-right and center-left parties, rattled off the relevant statistics: there were 1,300 Roma in his town, 75 of whom were employed, “and somewhere around 200 stray dogs.” Ninety percent of the Roma, he claimed, didn’t understand basic hygiene. When asked about administering a district with these kinds of social problems, he sighed and said, “I’m envious of those mayors who have no Roma in their municipalities. The Roma settlement out here in Vel’ká Ida is probably one of the worst in all of Slovakia. The women are having children starting from age 13 to 33. We have a case of a 33-year-old woman who has 11 kids. They’re having children to get social benefits. They have no obligations or duties. The children don’t get vaccinated.”

Markus [Pape], who now works part-time as a human rights monitor, mentioned that he watched the American film Mississippi Burning the night before. “I was shocked by how many things in the movie were the same kind of things that happen here with Roma,” he said, describing how in 2009, he had investigated an attack on a Roma apartment building by neo-Nazis that left a young girl permanently burned. “When I talk to my Czech friends about the Roma, they think it is a problem that will never be solved. Maybe it’s something like the Israel and Palestine issue. For Israel, there is no solution.”

PITA Pops — you can’t live with them, and you’re not allowed to live without them.

ADDED: Derbyshire’s thoughts on the subject.

April 14, 2013admin 30 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Uncategorized

30 Responses to this entry

  • Nick B. Steves Says:

    PITA? Sorry… American.

    [Reply]

    Thales Reply:

    @Nick B. Steves
    “Pain In The Arse”

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    The anatomical irritation meaning of ‘PITA’ is #1 at the Urban Dictionary (in American English). I don’t think it’s primarily Brit usage.

    [Reply]

    Posted on April 14th, 2013 at 2:36 am Reply | Quote
  • James A. Donald Says:

    Morons are a problem because we feel bad about executing stupid but industrious people merely for being stupid.

    I don’t think anyone would feel bad if we threw petty criminals off welfare, and those simply unwilling to work off welfare, and applied rapidly increasing penalties for repeated petty crimes, culminating in execution for some modest number of repeated petty crimes.

    Nor, I think, would anyone feel bad if mothers of illegitimate children, instead of getting a generous life pension, got stripped naked and publicly whipped.

    Those measures are unthinkably right wing, but would I think easily get majority support. The reason that they are unthinkable is that they would have disparate impact – they would get rid of the gypsies in Slovakia and the blacks in the US.

    Executing those willing but unable to earn an honest living, would, however, be disturbingly Nazi. Few people would support that.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    “Those measures are unthinkably right wing, but would I think easily get majority support.” — That seems wildly ‘optimistic’ to me. Other that a few East European countries, nothing remotely approaching these measures seems politically imaginable. In the UK the Conservative Party has spent two decades in a (futile) attempt to ‘detoxify’ itself from its Thatcher-legacy ‘nasty party’ branding, and it never entertained anything close to the mildest of the measures you outline.
    At the very right edge of the Overton window, some very delicate tinkering with welfare incentive structures is acceptable, as long as it never leads to anything. In the center the topic is strictly untouchable. On the left, PITA populations make the heart sing and offer us a little sample of Jesus.
    The only historical complication I can see to this was the Clinton-era welfare reforms — an ‘only Nixon can go to China’ thing. But they were pre-gutted by their ‘disability’ get around (and are — in any case — now being reversed).

    [Reply]

    James A. Donald Reply:

    Politically unimaginable does not equate to unpopular.

    Recall the American public’s reaction when spoiled American brat was flogged for vandalism in Singapore.

    Similarly, the Clinton reforms were unconditionally and overwhelmingly popular, because Clinton being democrat and leftist and so forth, gave people permission to be in favor of them. Had Reagan implemented them, no one would have dared to be in favor of them.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Fair enough, but popularity without political consequences doesn’t tell us much about the way things will unfold.

    Posted on April 14th, 2013 at 8:21 am Reply | Quote
  • fotrkd Says:

    Condensed UK ‘Gypsy’ Timeline (added to my left-trajectory list):

    1514 – First mention of a Gypsy in England.
    1530 – Egyptians Act expelled Gypsies from the country.
    1554 – Egyptians Act strengthened the Act of 1530 by imposing the death penalty on any Gypsies remaining in the country.
    1596 – 106 men and women condemned to death at York for being Gypsies (9 were in fact executed).
    1650s – Last known hanging for the crime of being a Gypsy (in Suffolk).
    1783 – Egyptians Acts repealed.
    1822 – Turnpike Act led to Gypsies who camped on the roadside facing fines.
    1908 – The Children’s Act made education compulsory for Travelling children in England (but only for half the year).
    1960 – New private Traveller sites were banned from being built in England by The Caravan Sites (Control of Development) Act. Mass evictions and public harassment of Gypsies and Travellers followed.
    1966 – Gypsy Council established.
    1968 – Caravan Sites Act. From 1970 the Government had to provide caravan sites for Travellers.
    1988 – Romany Gypsies recognized as an ethnic group.
    1994 – The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act abolished the Caravan Sites Act. Local councils were now obliged to identify land for private purchase by Travellers.
    2000 – Irish Travellers recognised as an ethnic group.
    2007 – 200,000 – 300,000 Travellers in Britain.
    2008 – Britain celebrates the first Gypsy, Roma and Traveller History Month.

    Timeline pinched from this PDF.

    I would add incidents like the eviction of Travellers at Dale Farm (2011) – identifying land for travellers also makes all other encampment clearly illegal, and/but (depending on perspective) there was considerable outcry over the force/brutality used by the police during the eviction. So politically unimaginable almost certainly. Popular? Debatable, at least in the UK. After all, the Government are still struggling to get their Workfare scheme running with any success (and much opposition, and can’t even evict Abu Qatada (let alone ‘Egyptians’). I say all this whilst still walking a morally undecided fence btw.

    [Reply]

    James A. Donald Reply:

    And the communist party usually won elections with 99% of the vote.

    I am pretty sure we are seeing some massive preference falsification. Everyone worships at the official church. If the official church’s doctrine was to reverse, most of them would continue to worship at the official church, scarcely noticing the change.

    [Reply]

    fotrkd Reply:

    Okay, possibly, but now we’re getting into the territory of telling people they’ve been brainwashed into their tolerance, and here’s what you should think… There is a noble ideal, surely (even if reality is telling us otherwise)? That we can afford the drag such a group puts economically on a society… that diversity carries some (stored) value? Question for Nick – what would you have done with the witches?

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Were the witches a drain on society? A better question for me: what would I have done with the witch-hunters?
    But that’s one of those weird ‘if you were the government’ hypotheticals, which no one beyond their teens should entertain. The solutions to PITA populations that I can see are:
    (1) Liberal — hand-waving, maybe Jesus will sort it out
    (2) Quasi-Nazi (= not good, but perhaps the natural outcome under democratic conditions)
    (3) Dynamic geography (micro-states that select — and are selected by — their populations). That would be an attractive option for many other reasons too, but the practical problems are daunting.

    Posted on April 14th, 2013 at 11:24 am Reply | Quote
  • Randoms | Foseti Says:

    […] – Vice on the Roma (HT). […]

    Posted on April 14th, 2013 at 2:30 pm Reply | Quote
  • James A. Donald Says:

    There is a noble ideal, surely (even if reality is telling us otherwise)? That we can afford the drag such a group puts economically on a society

    That you believe, or rather kid yourself that you believe, that it is a noble ideal is a measure of the brainwashing. If the official truth was to change that it was an evil sinister plot everyone would believe it was not a noble ideal, but an evil and sinister plot, and would scarcely notice that their supposed opinions had done a 180.

    Radish, Students Against A Democratic Society, is doing a great job at digging up old books written when official truth was different.

    People who have actual contact with Gypsies don’t like Gypsies. So, a harsh policy would be popular.

    [Reply]

    fotrkd Reply:

    I’m happy to accept we could have a completely different popular view. But a healthy society depends on stored value – e.g. a pig that is only slaughtered in times of hardship – progress (even in terms of intelligence) is presumably not linear, so a healthy society relies on diversity for innovation. Travellers – 500 years of being a PITA in the UK; Travellers – 500 years of compromise and integration – Travellers – 500 years of pointing to an alternative way (probably not but I thought I’d throw it in there…)?

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Roma are (Yuri Slezkine) ‘Mercurians’, but the trouble is, they don’t seem to have the ability to make much of a contribution in that role (and many astute observers will reasonably judge that to be the understatement of the millennium). Scrap metal and horse trading, supplemented by petty crime, and increasingly by welfare soaking, doesn’t make for an obviously indispensable social function. It’s not a serious issue in the UK (yet), but in eastern Europe its a major hard-edge fascism generator.

    [Reply]

    James A. Donald Reply:

    Gypsies have been always been underclass. They live by stealing and cheating, which in the twentieth century was supplemented by welfare. This has always pissed people off.

    [Reply]

    Posted on April 15th, 2013 at 12:11 am Reply | Quote
  • fotrkd Says:

    @admin
    Would witches have been included under this? “…an outlandish people, calling themselves Egyptians, using no craft nor feat of merchandise, who have come into this realm, and gone from shire to shire, and place to place, in great company; and used great subtlety and crafty means to deceive the people–bearing them in hand that they, by palmistry, could tell men’s and women’s fortunes; and so, many times, by craft and subtlety, have deceived the people for their money; and also have committed many heinous felonies and robberies, to the great hurt and deceit of the people that they have come among….
    … the Egyptians now being in this realm, have monition to depart within sixteen days…. from henceforth no such person be suffered to come within this the King’s realm and if they do, then they and every of them so doing, shall forfeit to the King our Sovereign Lord all their goods and titles and then to be commanded to avoid the realm within fifteen days under pain of imprisonment…. [1530 Egyptians Act – I hope you’re linking all this to the Death on the Nile discussion 🙂 ]

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    My (very shallow) understanding of the matter is that witches were most commonly sedentary folk-medicine practitioners, ground between the twin stones of protestant enthusiasm and medical professionalization. The Roma connection, therefore, whilst clever, is also quite limited. Still, I’ll accept that Roma have been persecuted for the same reasons witches have (in the 16th century — truly fascinating quote). You’re not suggesting those motivations still dominate today, though, are you?

    [Reply]

    fotrkd Reply:

    Well the Roma presumably escape from the Cathedral education system; they also operate with different notions of time and freedom – I’m suprised you’re not a bigger fan.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    I can understand where you’re coming from (I think), but if caught off-guard you might confess that it’s a little romantic. I don’t know enough to comment upon Roma conceptions of time (for some reason, they don’t seem to write a lot down), but more generally, if populations are evaluated through their achievements, I don’t think the Roma come across as particularly impressive. Do you think that escaping Cathedralist education without learning anything else, and defending freedom without attaining independence, are admirable cultural traits?

    fotrkd Reply:

    Do whatever the fuck you will then.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    It’s a European problem, so my relation to it is extremely detached — I’m certainly not in a position to ‘do’ anything about it (nor do I want to). Seems to me though that the Roma culture is heading for a clash with hardline East European ethno-nationalism, and on the present trajectory, people are going to get killed. Being a ‘fan’ (big or otherwise) isn’t going to make any difference to that.

    Posted on April 15th, 2013 at 12:28 am Reply | Quote
  • fotrkd Says:

    @admin

    Liberal solution is not hand waving (give them some fucking credit). The solution is clear from the timeline I pasted – movement from extinction to education to toleration (as drag). They eventually gain some sort of cultural heritage valuation. But the broad sweep is that a tolerant liberal society accepts such diversity so long as it’s no big deal.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Given the clear failure of the liberal solution, it doesn’t strike me as unfair to describe it as hand-waving (wishful thinking and can-kicking wrapped up in hazy sentiment). As we’re seeing in many different areas, elites and populist movements have very different ideas about what counts as a ‘big deal’.

    [Reply]

    fotrkd Reply:

    During my skulking I started wondering about this quote in relation to camouflage:

    “Mosca: I am so limber. Oh! Your parasite Is a most precious thing, dropped from above, Not bred ‘mongst clods and clot-poles, here on earth. I muse, the mystery was not made a science, It is so liberally professed! Almost All the wise world is little else, in nature, But parasites, or sub-parasites.”

    Then I noticed the full title ofVolpone is Volpone or the Fox. A group of foxes is called a skulk. Is that helpful at all?

    [Reply]

    fotrkd Reply:

    Something cute: George Monbiot vs symbiotes

    Posted on April 15th, 2013 at 12:40 am Reply | Quote
  • james wilson Says:

    Most Americans cannot conceive of the extent to which Gypsies are self-segregated. That is the reason that Gypsies have remained unchanged in custom and language for a thousand years and through several continents. It is most certainly not persecution or discrimination. It is surprising that they are not more often persecuted, and unfortunate they are not more often prosecuted. It is impossible to discriminate against a Gypsy. Their way of life is immutable. Squalor may be in the eye of the beholder.

    FYI, there are at least six million Gypsies in the US.

    [Reply]

    Nick B. Steves Reply:

    They showed up on The Waltons if I recall correctly. They were real nice, but misunderstood. I think they showed up on X-Files a little more in character.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    I’m not expecting The Waltons in Bulgaria.

    [Reply]

    fotrkd Reply:

    I wrote a long reply which my computer deemed worthy of deletion. I think I lost sight of the bigger picture (red wine after a Sunday lunch is a killer). (Of course it’s romantic… That’s the point). Now off to dwell (possibly skulk) over the road ahead (I think I’m going to upgrade hell from murky to plain old shitty). Question: is it all a question of camouflage (not for the Roma obviously, but in general)?

    Posted on April 15th, 2013 at 4:24 am Reply | Quote

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