Usually, I don't send out my ⚯ Reading Notes as an email; I just post them to [S][J][P] in the Reading Notes section. However, I'm sending this one out to make anyone who reads these missives aware that ⚯ Reading Notes exists.
For those who don't know: Mod is known for (among other things) a type of travel log style writing on fascinating walks he takes. His most recent writing is based on his walking through 10 different cities. There is a part of the post where Mod talks about why he feels safe walking around cities in Japan with his backpack full of loads of expensive equipment.
Mod observes the following:
As I walk these small-/mid-sized Japanese towns, and observe, in some, a degree of poverty, I can't help but think about a few things:
- They're utterly safe. Walking around at night, dark alleys, no street lamps — I feel completely safe. I'm hauling around $10,000+ in equipment and don't think twice about it. Obvious disclaimer: I'm a dude, so this is a dude's experience. But still: The scariest walks / moments of my life have been in San Francisco (second scariest: São Paulo). I'm pretty sensitive to ambient danger, and I don't feel it here.
- I think the main reason I feel safe is: No drugs (besides alcohol). So no addicts. No irrational behavior for fixes. You simply don't see drugs anywhere. They don't exist. Nobody is hooked on opioids. Lord knows I've never even heard a whisper about heroin here. Drunks? Alcoholics? Everywhere. In the first city I visited — Hakodate, a kind of frontier-land in Hokkaido — it seemed like everyone was drunk or heading straight for drunk. Smoking a joint to relax in Japan? Extreme vilification, prison sentence, deportation. Blacking out drunk in the middle of Shibuya? Aw shucks just salarymen being salary men. I'll never be able to square that dissonance.
- The secondary reason I feel that safety is, I believe, that the folks with the least still have enough to maintain dignity. I.e., the trifecta of social safety nets, national health care, and a more evenly distributed wealth curve, keep citizens from falling too far from grace. In America, the pit has no bottom. In Japan, you're probably going to be OK.
- Infrastructure is amazing. Even in the smallest of towns, individual shops may be falling apart, but the general public infrastructure is in surprisingly good shape. Smooth roads, trains and buses on time, clean.
What I think is so interesting about this is this bit:
I believe, that the folks with the least still have enough to maintain dignity. I.e., the trifecta of social safety nets, national health care, and a more evenly distributed wealth curve, keep citizens from falling too far from grace. In America, the pit has no bottom. In Japan, you’re probably going to be OK.
I've thought about this a lot, and I've written about it a bit. I'm going to re-state (very briefly) my thoughts on this.
- People have needs.
- Physical needs and social needs.
- When needs are not met or are in danger of not being met in the future, people will get desperate.
- When people get desperate, they become more vulnerable to exploitation.
- The more desperate and/or exploited people become, the more likely they become bitter and resentful.
- The more bitter and resentful they become, the more attractive the idea of being violent as a reaction to desperation and exploitation becomes.
I've been doing lots of reading on Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) because of my thinking on how to stop people from being desperate and vulnerable to exploitation. I'm collecting lots of notes on this, and I'll post those notes at some point. (They are way too chaotic in their current format. As I continue to learn about MMT, I'm adding to my notes, processing them, and refining them. At some point, they will probably be shareable.)
Ok, that's it for now. Till next time, please, make glorious mistakes.