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Strategies to Reduce Homelessness,The homeless are an ever-present but largely overlooked segment of society.  They occasionally appear in the news, though not noticeably more — and probably less — than many other groups.  Their presence depresses property values and business traffic, but not enough to incentivize serious action.  The homeless do not constitute a voting bloc, and therefore seldom factor in to politicians' agendas.  The homeless are viewed as a minor inconvenience, a cosmetic stain on society that doesn't really affect us and isn't worth addressing.  Indeed, we even tend to ignore the homeless in person, looking past them as though they weren't there, like browser extensions blocking sidebar-ads.Above everything is the crushing sense of futility that bears down on the issue of homelessness.  A dollar given to a panhandler, fifty dollars given to a soup kitchen, an afternoon spent volunteering — these can feel very satisfying in the moment, but in the larger view, it seems like throwing a deck chair off the sinking Titanic.  It doesn't seem that our efforts do much to fix the problem at its heart, and so we become discouraged into brushing the whole thing under the rug.  And the ideas — few and far between — that have been proposed to truly eradicate homelessness often entail costs that we have evidently been unwilling to pay.  Whatever platitudes we might espouse to ourselves, we do put a price on human lives, and if that price is too high, we won't pay it.  But perhaps we can circumvent or hack this shortcoming of human nature.  The following is an exploration of strategies to reduce homelessness.Gauging the scope of the problemIn the United States, more than 550,000 people are homeless on a given night.  Worldwide, this figure is estimated to exceed 150 million.  These are staggering numbers, far dwarfing many other issues which garner more attention.  It is beyond my level of knowledge and understanding, and therefore beyond the scope of this essay, to focus on homelessness on a global level.  Those looking to make a positive impact on global homelessness should research and seek out effective charities and aid organizations.  Bound by the current confines of my limited knowledge, this essay will principally concern the US, though parts may be generalizable to the developed world more broadly.Estimates of the prevalence of mental illness among the homeless range from 13-26%.  The umbrella of what is considered a mental illness or disorder has expanded in recent years, and many authorities now view drug and alcohol addiction under this rubric.  If those are included, the prevalence jumps above 50%.  Substance abuse, however we classify it, is another major factor among the homeless, with as many as 35% having been impacted by it.  The flip side of these numbers is equally important: about half of all homeless people do not have serious mental health or addiction problems.  In the US, over 9% of the homeless are veterans of the armed forces.  Quantifying these factors is essential for developing strategies proportionate to the realities of the issue.Preventing Homelessness in the First PlaceHousingIn the US, the cost of rent has increased over time, but has not kept pace with the stagnating average income and diminishing spending power.  The Department of Housing and Urban Development has recommended families not spend more than 30% of their monthly income on housing costs, in order to remain financially solvent.  38% of renters in the US are now spending more than this on their rent, with 17% spending more than 50% of their monthly income on rent alone (see previous link). Wider application of rent controls can be a game-changer in housing affordability.  In areas with high property taxes, property tax cuts may be useful for offsetting the lost revenue of landlords, and as a political tool for selling these measures.Reform zoning laws. Low-cost housing in many areas is impeded by NIMBYism ("Not In My BackYard") from residents putting pressure on local and state politicians to make it difficult for these complexes to be built. Low-cost housing would be an invaluable resource for many homeless people, or for those at risk of homelessness, and relaxing these zoning ordinances would help, specifically in urban and metro areas.Encourage the construction of micro-apartment complexes in crowded cities with tax incentives. Many homeless people live in cities, and this would be a good way to squeeze in low-cost housing in places where there is not a ton of space. And given the rise of hipsters and the minimalism movement, plus young people short on funds but eager to move out on their own, you'd get more than just homeless and poor people moving in.EmploymentThe converse of the problem of housing costs is income.  Wages have stagnated relative to inflation and the cost of living. People need more money.  One option is to raise the minimum wage, and index it to keep pace with inflation.  Some conservative objections are not wholly without merit (it depends on the amount), but the current minimum wage is preposterously low, and raising it would be one of the easiest net-positive ways to get money into people's hands, though imperfect. The best way to get money into people's hands is literally get money into their hands. More on this later.Another useful tool is public works projects, along with some training programs for those without any skills. This can kill two birds with one stone by offering work to the unemployed or underemployed while also repairing the nation's now infamously crumbling infrastructure.A leading cause of homelessness among women is domestic abuse.  Many stay in abusive relationships out of economic insecurity, and many who escape have a difficult time getting on their feet financially, often without support structures to lean on, and their situation can spiral down from there.  We should ensure that public jobs programs also create jobs other than construction or manual labor.  Some who need and cannot find work are not physically suited for demanding manual labor, and they too must be able to benefit from such programs in capacities where they can contribute, and there is no shortage of work of all kinds to be done.Mental HealthUniversal health care. Healthcare has become an enormous expense, and a common cause of economic hardship. The financial strain of large medical bills has been shown to increase the likelihood of declaring bankruptcy for years after. Any policies that increase healthcare access and lower or eliminate cost would be a huge burden lifted from the shoulders of most households. Universal healthcare would also help people struggling with mental health issues get the care they need.Schools should provide free mental heath screenings for all students during every year of grade school.  Any mental healthcare that may be needed should also be free.  This will help address children and young people who might otherwise go undiagnosed and untreated, or who might not have sufficient access to healthcare at home.  Identifying and treating conditions earlier can help manage them, so their impact on one's life and ability to function within society do not snowball out of control over time.Make mental health evaluations a standard part of getting a physical.  Since many are required to get physicals at various points in their lives (certain jobs, schools, programs, competitions, events, etc.), this will help ensure that fewer people with mental health problems go undiagnosed.We need more (and better) psychiatric facilities. Since the 1950's, there has been a 95% decline in psychiatric institutions in the US.  It is not sufficient merely to bring these back, however.  We need to reinvest, reimagine, and overhaul the standards by which they operate: the quality of care, the freedom, liberty, and dignity of the patients, the living conditions, treatments, and so forth.  The grungy, dungeon-like horror story insane asylums of yesteryear must be left in the past, where they belong.  We need facilities with positive, clean, open atmospheres, places that feel more like hotels than they do hospitals, with highly qualified staffs subject to strict oversight.  People should not be held against their will unless they are demonstrably a danger to the public, and even in such cases, the goal must be to rehabilitate them, not to imprison them indefinitely. These facilities are needed to help people with severe mental health issues who have nowhere else to go, but must never again be allowed to become de facto prisons for those guilty of the crime of being an undesirable.AddictionThe time to decriminalize drugs — all drugs — is long overdue.  Drug addiction is a debilitating enough affliction on one's life.  Having a criminal record, not to mention the trauma of prison life, in addition, only worsens an individual's prospects for turning their lives around upon release.  End the failed and immoral War on Drugs. People need rehab, counseling, and support structures, not prison cells.The rehab industry is sorely in need of oversight and regulation.  We need to set concrete standards, hold ineffective facilities accountable, and shut down or prosecute fraudulent ones.  Price caps should also be imposed on how much patients can be charged by day or week.VeteransUse the military more judiciously and sparingly.  The less we place our soldiers into potentially psychologically destabilizing situations, the less psychologically destabilized veterans at risk for homelessness we will have. Our foreign policy has implications here at home, too.Expand the Department of Veteran Affairs' (VA) ability to provide veterans with mental health problems or limited resources the support necessary to land on their feet once they return from service, and similarly expand the VA's capacity to help veterans who fall on hard times later on.  The military lives by the motto "no man left behind" on the battlefield.  But all of life is a battlefield, and it's time we extended this sentiment beyond one's active service.  Every veteran begging for spare change on a street corner is a soldier we have left behind.  Indeed, every homeless person is someone we as a society have left behind, and it's time we started taking that personally.Reverse boot camp. Upon ending their military service, a reverse boot camp would reacclimate soldiers to civilian life, teach some practical skills, catch them up to speed on changes in society, make them aware of available social and health programs, and help them land on their feet.Universal Basic IncomeUniversal basic income is one of the most impactful policies to prevent people from becoming homeless to begin with. Poverty is a social disease. The cure is money. By establishing an economic floor that no one can fall below, we can make sure that worse comes to worst, people will be able to cover the bare necessities. UBI would also be transformative for the recently homeless, and the many homeless people who are without a home and yet not living on the streets. Those homeless who have been living on the streets for years, or who have serious mental health or addiction issues, may not be able to immediately benefit from a UBI, as they may not have the means to collect it, or the wherewithal to manage it, and other social services would be needed to first get them to a place where they could then take advantage of UBI. Thanks to the efforts of advocates like Scott Santens and Andrew Yang, the Overton window has been massively shifted over the past couple years with regard to universal basic income. What seemed politically impossible just a few years ago is now entering the realm of serious consideration. It's time to secure the bag.The above strategies are best understood as a suite of avenues to be pursued in tandem.  Any one of them has the potential to enact positive change on its own, but it is in synergy that they can be most effective, as many individual strategies reinforce others.  It is here, in closing, that I want to address the role of charity in reducing homelessness.  Individuals have enormous power which, if properly wielded, can be a tremendous force for good.  Much of my content is devoted to empowering the individual to do just that.  These "strategies" essays, however, primarily focus on the macro-level policy-based approaches.  There are limits to what individuals can realistically be expected to accomplish without any governmental, systemic, or institutional support.  Even so, there are many problems we face that could nevertheless be solved solely with a groundswell of civic-minded, grassroots effort.  Homelessness is assuredly not one such; there are too many factors and variables, and the costs are too great.  Grassroots activism can help raise awareness and sway public opinion, which is crucial, and many charities do fine work, but in industrialized nations, there has to be a governmental approach to bring everything together.The problem is, most charities aimed at homelessness in the developed world are either relief agencies that treat the symptoms but aren't working to reduce homelessness, or think-tanks that work to produce policy proposals but take no action themselves, not unlike this essay.  And in researching this subject, I have read many such reports and proposals and "action plans," and to a disconcertingly large degree, they are underwhelming, phoned-in fluff pieces.  The obvious lack of time and effort spent seriously thinking about solving homelessness only belies the morass of apathy we are collectively stuck in on this issue.  In short, we need more charities that are trying to reduce homelessness itself.  In the developing world, however, it's a different story.  The cost to lift a poor person out of poverty in much of the developing world is orders of magnitude less than it is here, and there are many more such charities working to do this.  I would recommend that individuals looking to support charities to end homelessness find effective organizations serving the developing world, where each dollar goes a much farther way toward helping people. Two good resources, also linked earlier in this essay, are and words I have written here are all well and good, but without the will to seriously address homelessness, they remain no more than peculiar patterns of pixels.  Everything that does not violate the laws of nature is possible, given sufficient knowledge, as physicist David Deutsch has observed.  Homelessness is solvable.  It would require no miracles.  Only that we, as a society, give a shit.  Giving a shit is not a violation of the laws of physics, and so given sufficient knowledge, we will come to give a shit.  Perhaps the catalyst for solving homelessness — and myriad other problems — therefore lies in discovering what knowledge will affect this change of heart, and disseminating it as widely as possible.
Strategies to Reduce Police MisconductWhatever one's politics, it is in the public interest for police misconduct — be it police brutality, needless killings, abuse of power, or just bad policy — to be reduced as much as possible. In the age of smart phones, the margin for error is low, and the tolerance for injustice, overreach, or even the appearance thereof is virtually nonexistent. We will never get this number down to zero. But if we can reduce the number of incidents (or seeming incidents), the causes of justice, public trust, public safety, and civil order will be improved. The following are strategies to reduce police misconduct.Underlying causesThe interactions that police officers have with civilians are the last link of longer causal chains. Addressing some of the root causes can prevent certain situations and environments in which misconduct might occur.End the War on Drugs. The decriminalization of drugs will eliminate the pretext for a large chunk of police interactions. This is the big one. Everything else I write about in this essay put together probably wouldn't advance the ball as far this one would on its own.Reduce poverty. Poor people have more police interactions, on average, compared to people who are middle class or above. Low-income areas also have higher crime rates. A disproportionate number of high-profile cases of misconduct involve a civilian who is sub-middle class. Domestic policy that reduces poverty may help reduce the crime rate, and lower the number of police interactions.Reduce the overall number of firearms in circulation. One of the reasons American cops are more likely to resort to lethal force compared to those of other developed nations, is because the US is unique in having about 300 million guns floating around. It is therefore rational for officers to assume that any given person they interact with might be armed. If, through policies like voluntary year-round buyback programs, universal background checks, and increased firearm taxation, the overall number of guns in society can be reduced over time, we can gradually establish an environment that no longer justifies this level of tension.ScreeningScreening and incentive policies can help make sure we are populating police departments with the best possible people.Any law enforcement applicant for a field work position must be subjected to strict psychological testing. Some police departments do require some form of psychological testing, though it varies. It should be a universal requirement, and should be retroactively applied to current officers. If you have problems with anger, impulse control, megalomania, sadism, sociopathy, or are otherwise unstable or unwell, you should not be a police officer.There should be a physical size requirement for police field work. As with psychological testing, this already exists in some places, but should be a universal requirement. If you're 5'6, trying to subdue a person who's 6'4 and doesn't want to be subdued, no amount of training or strength conditioning is going to bridge the performance gap between yourself and an equally trained officer who is 6'1. When officers prove unable to subdue suspects through non-lethal means, that's when suspects can end up getting shot. We need officers who can manhandle people if need be, because manhandling them is better than shooting them.Cops should be paid more. The average police officer makes a little over $50,000 a year, plus benefits. They're hardly poor, but when we consider how important a job it is, how difficult it can be, and how high the stakes are — literally life and death — $50,000 begins to sound a little low. If we want to recruit the most talented people for police work, then police work needs to be better paid. The better paid it is, the more people will seek it out for the money, rather than for the perks (the gun, badge, authority, etc.). It is in the public interest to attract people seeking money rather than a power trip. Increased pay would also spur higher numbers of applicants, creating more competition for spots, forcing departments to be more discerning in their hires, which will ultimately result in better quality.TrainingPolice officers need longer training. Depending on the department, officers generally receive somewhere between two and six months of training. Much has been made of the comparisons to the required education for all sorts of other jobs in which one does not have the authority to end lives. Any job that requires a four year degree, or even just a two year degree, constitutes somewhere between 4-24x more education than police officers go through. This is insane. Officers need to be given one year of training at minimum, and should be required to complete a two-year degree in criminal justice (or something related) prior to that.Deescalation training. As a required part of all police training programs, an emphasis should be placed on deescalation. While there is sometimes no choice but to resort to force, there are many documented cases where other options were plainly available in hindsight, and where better trained officers might have cooled things off by making better decisions. In many cases gone awry, police behavior often involves rushing/pursuing the suspect, and responding with lethal force if met with any resistance. In some of these cases, the suspect might have been surrounded from a distance and issued orders, making clear to them that they are surrounded, that they have nowhere to run, and that they will be shot if they resist. Some of these suspects, given a moment to process, will surrender peacefully. To put it in medieval terms, sometimes a siege can be more effective than storming the walls.Train cops in grappling martial arts. Related to the physical size requirement, there are many situations where an officer is attempting to subdue a suspect, sometimes a larger and stronger one, sometimes one under the influence of drugs or alcohol, who does not want to be subdued. If the officer is unable to subdue them, the risk that the suspect could overpower them and shoot them with their own firearm becomes a primary danger. Training officers in things like wrestling, jiu-jitsu, and Brazilian jiu-jitsu could make a big difference in their ability to successfully subdue suspects without situations getting out of control and leading to lethal force.Policy ChangesEnd no-knock raids. No-knock raids are when the police (often SWAT teams) kick in the door of the suspect with no warning, and proceed to clear the building and conduct a raid and/or arrest. These are often performed in the middle of the night. Let's game out a scenario. A legal gun owner has a firearm in his bedside drawer. The door is kicked in at 2 AM and a group of men come rushing in with guns. Disoriented, half-asleep, and in fear that their home is under attack, the resident reaches for a gun. Perhaps they get hold of it. Perhaps they are able to get off some shots. The police officers, seeing the suspect reach for, grab, or fire a gun, open fire themselves, and kill the suspect. In so doing, bystanders such as pets, other household occupants, or even neighbors (if bullets go through walls or windows) may be shot or killed. The tragedy of it all is that in these scenarios, both parties — the police and the resident — are behaving rationally, and yet the outcome is often needless death. This is the hallmark of a bad policy. These raids should not be no-knock, and should not be conducted in the middle of the night (where even if the cops do knock/announce themselves once, it may not be heard by a sleeping resident). To compound everything, these raids are sometimes conducted on the wrong homes, or conducted on faulty information.Demilitarize the police. In the past 20 years, surplus or decommissioned military equipment has been made available to local police forces around the nation, at little to no cost, provided that they find a use for them, which they unsurprisingly manage to do. While the use of these military weapons and equipment does occasionally cause increased property damage, injury, or death, the larger issue is one of optics and public trust. Bringing tanks, humvees, rocket-propelled grenades, and machine guns to bear against civilian US citizens, in American cities and towns, is not only creepy, authoritarian, and completely overkill, but it's bad for the public image of law enforcement, and severely undermines public trust. The police should be seen as serving their community, not as an occupying military force lording over them.End qualified immunity. Qualified immunity is a legal principle in the US that protects government officials such as law enforcement officers from being sued civilly unless the plaintiff can prove that their constitutional rights were violated. It is reasonable that, given the difficulty of the job, and the impossible, split-second decisions officers sometimes have to make, that a degree of leniency should be granted to law enforcement for doing things that a civilian would get into trouble for. But immunity is a bridge too far. If a doctor causes harm by making a mistake, they are subject to civil suits, with no stipulation that it only applies to constitutional violations. The police should be no different.A body cam for every cop. In the past seven years, many police departments around the country have begun to adopt body cameras which record both video and audio when officers are in the field. Much has been brought to light because of this. The problem is that not every department uses them, and sometimes the cameras are shut off by officers. By requiring all cops nationwide to have these cameras, and establishing that as the new norm, any officers whose cameras shut off should be investigated for non-compliance, and penalized if found guilty.The police should not be in charge of policing themselves. Every state should establish a body of unelected investigators and prosecutors separate from and unconnected with any police department, police union, or local/city government, who can carry out investigations, indictments, and prosecutions of law enforcement officers, free some much of the internal pressures, politics, and conflicts of interest that often hamstring internal affairs and district attorneys from bringing bad cops to justice.Mandate comprehensive record-keeping. We are operating in a law enforcement data-desert. It turns out, there isn't much in the way of record-keeping requirements, and so each police department or precinct does it their own way, some more diligently than others, with few centralized resources where nation-wide data is aggregated. Most of what we know about the data of police shootings, for example, was manually compiled by journalists through painstaking and time-consuming research. All law enforcement should be required to keep comprehensive records, and to report them to a national database. Non-compliant departments should be subject to penalties. Good policy must be informed by data, and we need much more of it.It's not all the cops' faultIt would be remiss not to acknowledge that an effective, civil, if not perfectly harmonious, relationship between a city or town and its police, is a two-way street. There are some truly bone-headed decisions that people often make, which create situations that are more volatile than they need to be. Here are some basic precepts that will not only lead to better police-civilian relations generally, but may just save your life:Don't resist arrest. It doesn't matter if you think you are being wrongly or unfairly arrested. If you resist, you significantly increase your likelihood of being killed. It's just not worth it. When everything is cleared up, lodge a complaint, get in touch with local news, make a viral post online about it, sue the police department, advocate for reform, run for office on that platform, whatever you want — but while the arrest is underway, that's not the time to dispute it. It doesn't matter that you think it's wrong that the cops have this power: they have it, and you may end up dead for resisting. In life, you have to pick your battles.Don't be drunk or high in public. First of all, this is already a minor crime in most places. Secondly, it's totally classless. And thirdly, a disproportionate number of police interactions that result in serious injury or death involve a suspect who was under the influence. Being intoxicated is a recipe for bad decisions, which is why these substances are best consumed in the comfort of one's own home, or in some other safe, private space.Don't reach for anything or make sudden movements. Keep your hands where the officer can see them, and move like you're suspended in congealing amber. Remember, there are 300 million guns in this country. It is totally rational for a cop to assume you're armed.The above strategies are best understood as a suite of measures to be pursued simultaneously.  Any one of them has the potential to bear fruit on its own, but it is in synergy that they can be most effective, as many individual strategies reinforce others. In closing, it is important to address the most hotly contested element of this issue, which is systemic racism: the idea that law enforcement is systemically biased and prejudiced against black people. This is a claim I believed for many years, but over the past few have been forced to abandon. The evidence just doesn't add up. When you correct for poverty and criminality, the various sub-claims made by the systemic racism camp, and the superficial disparities they point to, are either mostly collapsed, or entirely collapsed. What we see in the press, or on social media, is the tiniest, handpicked sliver of what goes on, and it can give a distorted picture. This does not mean that racism no longer exists, and as noted earlier, we need more data. But what it does suggest, based on the data currently available, is that there is no problem with policing that couldn't be better addressed with reforms that apply across-the-board as opposed to race-specific policies.Indeed, most of the realistic adult proposals that have been suggested by reform activists are essentially race-neutral. But there is this pressure one feels to lace everything in rhetoric about the scourge of racism and white supremacy. Of course those things are bad. All decent people already believe that, and saying it over and over won't convince anyone new. It doesn't add anything of value to the conversation to talk this way. It obscures, it distracts, and it divides. And if anyone tries to bully you about it, stand up to them. Let us keep our eye on the prize: finding, advocating, and implementing strategies to make the police work better for society.
The Problem With Meritocracy
,Meritocracy refers to systems in which people are elevated into positions of success on the basis of their demonstrated abilities and merit. In principle, it sounds perfectly reasonable. The idea behind meritocracy at the macro scale is that people who are more productive, skilled, or effective deserve, among other things, a higher standard of living as reward. If you perform better, you should benefit more. That's fair, isn't it?But when examined, everything that leads to success or failure stems from causal factors outside any individual's conscious control. You did not choose your parents, upbringing, environment, or economic conditions. You don't choose your genes, your height, or your face. You cannot take credit for your natural talents, nor the ability to focus, work hard, or improve yourself. And you also cannot take credit for all the terrible things which might have befallen you, but didn't. To say nothing of nepotism and cronyism.Given this, the attempt to morally justify why some should live in comfort while others live in states of constant insecurity, stress, or even squalor, simply crumbles away. Everything in life comes down to luck. And this is a problem for meritocracy as we know it.To be clear, there's nothing wrong with meritocracy on the micro-level — within an organization, company, league, etc. We want professional sports teams to play the best players, we want the best films to win the awards, and we want to see effort, ingenuity, and dedication rewarded in the workplace. That isn't what I'm talking about. But meritocracy, when applied to an entire society, results in some living in extravagant luxury while others live hand to mouth, propped up by the lie that this distribution of resources and opportunity is "deserved."Inequality is omnipresent in humanity, just as it is in nature. There will always be disparities in talent and ability. This is what makes life interesting! What a dull place this would be if we all had the same talents, interests, and abilities. We should not want to erase the natural variance of human diversity. But we gravely err when we regard this diversity as though it were a kind of moral caste system, where the luckiest people somehow deserve their good luck, while the unluckiest people deserve their bad luck. Worse yet, when we confuse one's level of luck with their worth as a human being.If everything that went right for you in life — and everything that didn't go wrong — amounts to luck, in what sense is "deserving" even a coherent concept? What's that, you say? But you worked hard to get where you are? You were lucky to have been able to work hard! You are lucky to have been motivated and disciplined. You are lucky that you possessed the cognitive and physical wherewithal to persevere, that you were not stopped in your tracks by disease, injury, personal tragedy, or any of the countless unlucky things whose paths you avoided by sheer luck. Let's not delude ourselves, it's luck all the way down. Meritocracy is the lie society's winners tell themselves so that they can feel deserving rather than lucky. But the truth is that every successful, happy, or actualized person is in effect a lottery winner. And every unsuccessful, miserable, or unfulfilled person is the inverse. This is why poverty and all of its associated ill-effects are so grotesque — because it's all just luck.Meritocracy is the lie society's winners tell themselves so that they can feel deserving rather than lucky.Unlike the rest of nature, we have the capacity to transcend social Darwinism. We should not attempt to control everything in the attempt collapse all disparity. Nor should we fixate on knocking the luckiest in society down a peg. That road leads to the kind of society no one wants to live in. That doesn't increase luck; it spreads bad luck to all. But we can raise the floor, and raise the aggregate level of luck for everyone. We have the power to implement luck-maximizing engines like universal basic income, which preserve everything we are right to appreciate about human variance, while ensuring that nobody, regardless of how bad their luck is, can fall below a certain level of resources and opportunity.The problem with meritocracy is that of any luck-based scheme where the stakes are too high. Who would want to stake their happiness, self-actualization, or quality of life on the spin of a roulette wheel or the cast of a pair of dice? Because that's what meritocracy is, in its current form. But a meritocracy where the stakes were lowered — where a losing spin doesn't lead to dire poverty, misery, and abject want; that is the kind of meritocracy that can work. And it requires no revolutions, no top-down restructuring of society, no heavy-handed coercion, nor an overnight rewriting of human nature. It doesn't require lowering the ceiling. It requires raising the floor.
What Happens to Your Audience When You Go Anti-PC
I've seen enough examples over the years to detect a pattern. When someone — a journalist, commentator, or writer — who previously put out Lefty or center-Left content, decides to start voicing objections to political correctness, identity politics, social justice, cancel culture, or wokeness, something happens to their audience. Everything described below will happen like clockwork. You can set your watch to it.First is the internal revolt. A large percentage of their Left-leaning followers — Marxists of any stripe, ordinary progressives, Dem loyalist "Blue No Matter Who" types, as well as anyone with a soft spot for social justice or critical theory — reacts like they were just slapped in the face. The creator can expect thousands of incredulously disgusted comments or emails basically saying, in so many words, "What happened to you?" If the creator continues publishing these heresies, a majority of their audience will begin to jump ship. The creator will become known as problematic; as a grifter, an attention-seeking contrarian, a sellout shill, or a far-Rightist, indeed, someone who has always been so, having chosen this moment to take off their mask and reveal who they've been all along. It never seems enough to declare the heretic to be no longer of the faith, but to have never been a true believer at all. To cross this mob is to be reputationally unpersoned.So out go most of the New York Times and Vox readers, the NPR listeners, the Volvo and Prius drivers, and the Whole Foods shoppers. With them leave most of the rose emojis, social justice types, Antifa supporters, and feminists. This process takes months. What comes next is a new audience that replaces much of the old. This new audience is predominantly comprised of individuals aged 15-39, mostly male, mostly white, mostly of middle class means or higher. These guys tend to listen to or watch other anti-PC voices, like Joe Rogan, Sam Harris, Bret Weinstein (or his brother Eric), etc.They have a number of strangely predictable overlapping interests. They like mixed martial arts and the UFC, specifically Brazilian jujitsu. They tend to be "responsible gun owners." They're into fitness, and tend to follow low-carb diets like paleo, carnivore, or ketogenic. They're interested in history, specifically the history of communism's many failures. They're interested in philosophy, with a penchant for annoying pedantry. They're interested in biology, specifically evolutionary biology, evolutionary psychology, and genetics. They largely describe themselves as liberals, though they use the term in a number of ways. Many identify as "classical liberals." They have problems with both the Right and the Left, though their denunciations of the Left tend to be more sweeping and pointed. These are the kinds of guys who don't like Donald Trump, but tend to view him as the lesser evil, a necessary check on the excesses and overreaches of the Left; the discount Walmart Churchill to the Democrats' Chamberlain (the Left being the Nazis in this metaphor). Many of them voted for Trump, or will (again). Many will vote Libertarian, or another third party, or just not vote. A few will hold their noses and vote for Biden.This type of audience is one that, in the current political climate, is easily depicted in a negative light. To be sure, they are best tolerated only in small doses. Any group of people that seems too white, too male, too "bro-ish" is one that educated, affluent, Left of center voices — the voices that control the levers of information and culture — will either dismiss or disdain. Any content creator who attracts this kind of audience, even in part, will acquire a kind of taint because of it.While the media establishment turn their backs on these creators, their new audiences will reward them with likes, upvotes, shares, subscriptions, and money when they post content critical of cultural Leftism, or really anything on the Left. If they decide to go all-in, they can easily grow a large and lucrative fanbase with minimal effort. It's barely an exaggeration to say that you could probably program a crude AI bot posing as a real person, who could become a millionaire within a few years following this simple template of posting anti-PC content while courting crowd-funding donations.If, however, the creator turns their critical eye back to the Right, they will, almost without exception, be met with a disgruntled but relatively civil "ratio-ing" from their audience, who don't want to hear it. If the creator continues down this path of criticizing both sides when they see something they disagree with, some of this new audience will leave, but most actually won't. However people in this new audience want to label themselves, in the current political landscape, they are part of the Right. And the Right has a much higher tolerance for viewpoint diversity, even if their minds seem just as closed to change as their Left counterparts.As the creator pursues this tightrope walk, and it becomes clear that they are not partisan for one side, their credibility will grow among some centrists, and even a few on the Left, broadening their audience. They will never be accepted on the far-Left though, nor in the mainstream media, nor the professional-managerial-class (PMC) Left that controls Twitter. The path of anti-Wokeness is, in the end, the path of marginalization. At least, until generational changeover shrinks the influence of the mainstream press and associated institutions past a tipping point of relevance, such that it is they who become niche, or fringe.
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All I Need is You (pt.1)
    Josh went through each day of his life barely making it to the next. Every minute at school, he was threatened. Tortured by the constant assault on him. In endless torment, he gradually became insane. The vast majority of his teachers flunked him in their classes out of spite, simply because they didn't like the way he looked. Even his parents, his own flesh and blood, beat him, yelled at him and nearly abandoned him one too many times.
    On this fateful day, something seemed different. Josh walked this path every morning and afternoon. It was tattooed into his mind, into his very being. One, two, three, four. Why did something seem different? Five, six, seven, eight. Only a few hundred metres from school, the air had a sudden chill. Nine, ten, eleven, twelve. A single drop fell onto Josh's nose.
    As the rain picked up, there was a sudden static in the air. And then, it all fell apart. A sudden boom in the air signaled the start of a thunder
:icondawnandrew:dawnandrew 2 10
Nic (Chapter 1) part 1
    The only feeling that was worth noticing in this bright, loud room. Everyone pleased with themselves. Everyone simply taken alight with their fantasies, that may or may not ever come true. Who am I? I am Nic. Sometimes I think I was cursed to be this way. Even my parent's named me "nothing". Just so that when I introduce my self I can say "Hello, I am Nic. I am Nothing."
    This classroom is the vain of my existence. Full of unworthy souls stealing precious air that I once thought was sacred. How could they be so selfish? They steal our air, our thoughts, our minds. 
    Our souls.
    To think that once, not to long ago, I was a part of this never ending cycle. The cycle of hate, lies, greed and misery. Why was I so foolish? I should've known better. But I didn't. I followed them around aimlessly, like a dog, hoping that they would give me the time of day, that they would somehow understand me. But that was a big mi
:icondawnandrew:dawnandrew 5 70
Land of Pie part 1 of 4
   Long ago, there were peaceful creatures, known as the pie. The pie loved to frolic in the meadow, they loved to play fight and for those that crossed the all powerful god, they were killed and served to the people. The people were hard to satisfy. 
    The first pie ever to be given to a human was given as a tribute, as the human craved a new desert. Stanley was known as the crook of the land of pie. After hearing that the human was looking to eat a desert, the pie people were more than happy to give the humans this bad pie.
    Unknown to the pie people, the human that was given Stanley as a tribute, started to crave pie. The pie people had overlooked one crucial fact. Pie is delicious.
   The human that tasted this first pie, was named Steve. Steve was a simple man, of italian descent. He had taken much in his life. Ice cream from the land of Narnia, cookies from Andremma, marshmallows from Dravia and lasagna from Blu Procrasti-Nation.
:icondawnandrew:dawnandrew 2 9
Silvyss' Journey, chapter 1
Darkness; what an unpleasant thing to wake up to. He blinked a few times to be sure that his eyes were open. He even rubbed his eyes and found them to be wide open, and yet, he couldn’t even see the hands which he used. The air was… surprisingly dull. No heat, no cold. Nothing. He took a step forward, but found no ground underneath his feet. His heart jumped and he slung his hands around, trying to find something solid to grip on to. Was he standing up? Lying down? He couldn’t find solid ground no matter where he flailed his arms and legs. What was this place? It was unpleasantly silent, his quick and fearful breath being the only thing he could hear. The frightened thumping of his heart sent blood rushing through his stiff, nervous body. His lips jittered in confusion and fear.
“H--hello?” He muttered lowly, his gentle voice disappearing somewhere into the dark depths.
He felt like he was floating mid-air, but not falling. His clothes were… gone.
:iconsteenbelhage:SteenBelhage 6 8
to the magical world
if you could warp away to the magical world
you always wished to live in,
would you be able to leave everything in this world and fly away?
:iconkimkwanho:kimkwanho 8 31
colors of your dreams
if you have no choice but to accept that this world is real, would you be able do anything to fill it with the colors of your dreams?
:iconkimkwanho:kimkwanho 14 5
The Truth: Problems - One of Six
Read Out Loud!
We can not run from our problems.
They want us to think they are strong.
But the fact of the matter
is that's absolutely dead wrong.
They make us believe we are the ones meek
Too scared and frightened keeping ourselves weak.
Controlling our lives with their own fear.
A fear that if they let up for even a second
We will rise up for battle
And be a force to be reckoned.
So we are kept at bay
By their shape-shifting ability to adapt
Into the thoughts we wish would just stay back.
Sometimes to survive we try to run away
with a false feeling of hope that would never stay.
And they let us.
An ingenious ruse to keep us down
And never fight to purge the guilty crown.
They will never show us their true form.
Unless we stand up to them
:iconkirstenjacob:KirstenJacob 31 13
this space in my heart is meant for you
Did you know?
The space between our lungs hides little stars
that dance, and glimmer, and dream of night
and the out-stretched arms of the sky
as the owl and mockingbird make calls to dark.
I have often told you so.
And between our toes there grows a longing for the sea
for the steady come-and-go of the waves
and with them, a sweeping away of the cares of the world.
Sea birds call back and forth across its shores
and entice you with songs to let go, let go.
Have you noticed?
the longing for sunshine which rests atop your cheeks
and the sprinkled freckles that lay there?
They sing for the blue sky above you
and the clouds that sail like ships across its face
as you run between rows of blueberry bushes,
laughing into the afternoon air.
Have you felt it?
Beneath our skin there is a hunger for the mountains,
the air so crisp and the horizon stretching endlessly out before you,
the silence that envelopes you and holds you to stillness.
How small you feel as you sit in the shade of evergreen
:iconmidnightmelodie:MidnightMelodie 7 5
Raistlin and Crysania.
And why is something missing?
And why is something wrong?
And why is there a hole in me?
Some part of me is gone
You're all I ever wanted,
You're all I never wanted
So go away so go away
And leave me here...
The day I'd fall in love is
The day blind men could see
Then you came your sightless eyes
Saw straight inside of me
I'm so far below you I'm the dark
And you're the light
But standing here beside you all
I know is this is right
This conflict of desire is
tearing me apart
My lust for power and for you
is coursing through my heart
All I see is death and
Even you decay.
Always winter always night I
Never see the day
If I were you if I were you I'd
Run so far away
But only you but only you
Have courage enough to stay
You plan to save me. How? tell
Look around you look around you
Welcome to my hell.
And stand here by my side
And look into the light
Our time's both short and long
And all I know is wrong
Stand close and take my hand
This wo
:icongraphpaperqueen:graphpaperqueen 26 12
Hour of love
If I am going to have but an hour of love
and It was all given to me
all over tis earth , I must find thee
and give all my love to thee
:iconjosemiguelbaasis:josemiguelbaasis 60 5
You Threw 'Us' Away
We could've worked
We had a chance
Why couldn't you see
Our great romance
I know you cared
I know you worry
But still you did it
With no hurry
You kept on pulling
On my strings
You showed me love
But now it stings
You acted nice
But said mean things
Had me confused
But I found my wings
You broke my heart
You ripped it out
But it will heal
There is no doubt
I will be sad
I'll shed some tears
But in the end
I'll break my fears
I will move on
I won't look back
I'll leave you lying
In pitch –black
:icon102vvv:102vvv 98 29
She Sits
She sits
Strumming her guitar
Making her now calloused fingers graze over the resonate silver strings that float above the neck of her wooden companion
Strumming and strumming
A secret chord exists in her vocabulary, but its repelled back into the confines of her mind
As she pushes forward notes from her blood rushed fingertips
She strums and strums
Trying to stop that secret chord from breaking sound barriers.
She fills the air with familiar harmonies and melodies
Her eyes clouded by purple haze
While her heart beat keeps the tempo
She moves her hand over the shapely wooden body and memories that are
Triggered by the sensory images manifesting from those subtle hand movements
strike her
She starts to strum once more
but the tempo slows
As she continues to mover her fingernails over the curves of her guitar.
The strumming ceases
She's caught in a trance, recalling the lingering feeling of fingers clawing over the geography of flesh hills.
Trembling she starts to strum slower than befor
:iconpoeticlaughter:PoeticLaughter 20 25
Tick Tock
Tick Tock
You see as a poet
I've smoked seaweed with stingrays
Ridden on the backs of seahorses over meadows of coral
I've sung in a choir of humpbacks
Discussed politics with mermaids
And they teached me
And I learned
I learned
And now
I'm breaking the rings of time that
Now ring my eyes
Giving birth to infinite
That can reverse the curse of death
Making me
Allowing me to open a portal to become
A permanent imprint in the map of the stars
I will forever breathe in the eardrums
Of the free, and even those behind bars
It doesn't matter if you're from Venus or from Mars
I speak in all tongues
So you pupils and your pupils cannot escape
The light of these teachings
Because I am the sun
I am the sun
I am the one that makes the world go
Round and round
I am the one that makes the clock go
Tick tock
And no no no I cannot stop
Nothing can limit me
I am omnipresent on all levels from enslaved to free
But as I can see
Cash … it
:iconpoeticlaughter:PoeticLaughter 11 7
Sofia's World CHAPTER 8
Chapter 8: "No more distance"
As you know, again the same, but this time it's less close: it's like always. Is it his absense of one day intervened on it?
I came to school, said hello to the girls, and I saw Martin talking with Barbara. They were side by side and, the worst of all: she came with him where I was and she said to me: -Hi, Sofy. Did you know that Martin and I are dating?- In that moment my heart was complety destroyed, but not literally: I mean, I was who felt bad.
I asked totally surprised: What!?
Barbara: What I already said, Martin is my new boyfriend since yesterday. What do you think about it?
I went out for stay alone crying... I felt so confused: couldn't believe it and I couldn't understand how happened, why he could be with someone like her and why Martin treated me so good until the day before yesterday like for love someone as he is.
My mind kept thinking and thinking, trying to understand those things and starting to remember the good things that happened on th
:iconrevistabombadraws:RevistaBombaDraws 2 19
Miego: Turnabout memories - 1
The stairway to heaven had been long, too long for him to wait. But it had been worth him, knowing who would be the one waiting on top. His sweet Kitten, his purpose to live, his life. Mia Fey. It had been a shock, finding out that she was dead. Killed, and he wasn't there to take care of her, to protect her, to save her. And he had just kept on living, carying his 'sin'. Blaming that lawyer, Phoenix Wright. But while Diego Armando, or how he was called nowadays, Godot, walked up the stairs… He realized something he had realized in the court as well. She was living on, in Phoenix Wright. That split second had been enough to realize that, yet it came as a surprise. And now, she was waiting for him. Waiting to see him again, her lover.
"Diego…" her smile greeted him on top of the stairs. "Mia…" was the only way he could reply. But no words were needed, not yet. The emotions spoken out in these simple names would be enough for now. There would be time enough to talk, eterna
:iconrebeccaproductions:RebeccaProductions 2 31
no one knows.
imagine a world in which everything hurts.
imagine a dappled blue-green-gray sphere of a changing globe warped by pain. in this world your emotions have been robbed by a black-clad fiend. with him he took love, desire, happiness, peace. he took in his grimy arms your most blissful memories and meaningful pastimes. he took away the good in your life.
he was careful to leave behind only the demons of the night, multiplied in their potency and frequency by the sheer wrongness of the crime itself. he made sure that, bereft of all comforts you once enjoyed, you would be haunted forever. you would have no joy to hide behind, no shield from the onslaught of gloom. he leaves, but remains with you forever.
what you once felt is numbed, frozen and buried deep in the core of some forgotten antechamber of your heart – your fractured pinkish muscle that never ceases to sting you with its insistent throbbing. insistent. that's what it is. it won't just give up and die as you often wish it would
:iconhakyness3876:Hakyness3876 38 39

Get Your Writing Out There!

:bulletred: Want To Join Our Group?

:bulletpink: Just click the 'Join Our Group' button at the top of your page! :heart: It's that simple!

We look forward to your participation! <3

:bulletred: Looking to submit your work?

In the gallery, select 'Contribute To This Gallery'. Choose to submit a pre-existing deviation. Use the drop down box at the top for submitting pre-existing deviations to select the proper folder for your writing! (Fiction, Poetry, etc..)

:bulletpink: Now that all the submission and joining problems are fixed, I'm going to set down some simple Deviation Rules :
:bulletred: Members are permitted to submit a total of two deviations per week.
:bulletpink: Each folder (Fiction, Fan Fiction, Poetry, etc..) holds a total of three new deviations per day.


1) Absolutely NO flaming. If you don't like a piece of writing, don't read it. It's simple as that.
2) Be friendly to all other members of the group.
3) No plagerism! Don't post anything here that you haven't written yourself. Gathering inspiration from another piece of writing is perfectly fine, but don't post the work of anyone but yourself!
4) The general rules and regulations of dA are to be followed.
5) Check for spelling, grammer, punctuation, etc..Errors before submitting your work!
6) Be sure that what you're submitting is a finished piece. (Pieces of writing with chapters is an exception, but otherwise be sure that you consider what you are posting as a 'finished piece'.)
7) Submissions to Featured are limited to one a week per member. Only put what you feel is your best work into Featured!

:bulletred: Let me introduce myself:

I'm the Founder of this group, AllynDupe. My name is Alli, so you can feel free to call me by name. If you prefer AllynDupe or Allyn that's fine as well. :hug: I'm willing to answer any questions you might have about UnitedToWrite, so if you're curious, give me a shout! Write on the page below and I'll get to you as soon as I can. I'm on dA at least once a day, so, that shouldn't take long. <3

You may also consult the Co-Founder of UnitedToWrite for your questions or concerns, LittleZoefje. :D She goes by the name of Sophie or Zoef, whatever you prefer.
Hello everyone!

I'm sorry it's been so long since we've had an update on here. :iconcryforeverplz: I've been very busy, and so has Sophie, but lately I find myself with more time to be on dA than usual. SO. I was thinking of hosting a contest on here, though I'm still waiting to hear from Sophie about it, to see if she's up for it. <3

I'd like to get active with this group again, and any opinion you guys might have on the idea of a contest here would be appreciated! Prizes would be dA points, provided by myself.

Would you guys like to have another contest, finally? Let me know! <3

~ Alli
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UltramarineWitch Featured By Owner Feb 14, 2018  Student
Hello !
I would like to ask.. Is it okay to post an artwork with stories on the caption?
ThisKidAintKiddin Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I'm currently writing a book, and was wondering if I could be part of this group and put it on here for people to read and maybe critique? One of these days I'm hoping to publish it, but I'd like to see how people like it first.
I've also been wanting to join a group with other fiction writers for a long time too, just never got around to it. :) (Smile)
LittleZoefje Featured By Owner Jan 13, 2014   Writer
Hey! First off: I'm so sorry for the late reply!
Yeah, of course, feel free to add to our gallery! 
You're more than welcome here and we hope the group offers you what you are looking for :)

TheFS Featured By Owner Aug 25, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Hello everyone!

I am currently offering a speed critiquing service for those who want to get professional standard feedback on their prose writing/or poems at a cheap price. I've just finished my latest 45,000 editing/proofreading job and I'm looking for new works!

You could have your short story, the first chapter of your novel or one-act script read by the end of the day with in depth feedback on how to improve!

If you're interested in finding out more, follow the link to my job service forum post.

I look forward to hearing from you! =D
MadnessHarper Featured By Owner Jul 26, 2013   Writer
Hello, would you like to affiliate with :iconoriginalarentweall:? (: We are a group focusing entirely on original literature. :aww:
AllynDupe Featured By Owner Jul 26, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Absolutely! :D
GoWeegie Featured By Owner Oct 31, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Excuse me... I don't know if you're going to accept me in your group or not, but, there's something that I've written called, "Symphrax's Massacre," and... I'm really proud of it, you know? I was wondering if you guys could accept it into your group... You don't have to, if you don't want to. It's only four chapters long, but each chapter is, like, fifteen pages... I really worked hard on it... :iconumplz:...Could you please, accept my deviation?
AllynDupe Featured By Owner Nov 8, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
We'd love to have it! : )
LittleZoefje Featured By Owner Nov 2, 2012   Writer
Hey! :)
We accept everyone that wants to join, dear. And of course, you can submit your writings! :)
GoWeegie Featured By Owner Nov 2, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
:iconpatrickiloveyouplz:...I don't know what to say. You are an Angel. Thank you!
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