During one of the worst – monetarily.  Okay, also psychologically.  I was suffering from post partum depression – periods in my life I came across a biography of Eva Peron.  No, I don’t remember why.  This was 92, and I think she was topical for whatever reason, and I was living from the “free books” rejected by used book stores and put up front because we were so far beyond broke.

How far beyond broke were we?  Well, not only was Robert born by emergency cesarean which required two surgeons, but I then stayed in the hospital two weeks, prey to an antibiotic resistant infection.

At the time we didn’t have insurance, so the bill for that was about 20k.  Also, the only job Dan could find was in another town.  So we were renting a house, paying a mortgage, and had a brand new baby with brand new needs.

We used to buy rice bulk, and those huge frozen bags of vegetables, and that was pretty much what we ate.  I read what I could get free, or from the library.  (That Summer I read all of Piers Anthony back to back.  A bad thing to do, but the library had him.  Fortunately they also had Jerry Pournelle.)  We had no TV.  I waited for my birthday gift from my dad so that I could buy a winter coat.

Any extra money – there wasn’t a lot – went for either “celebrations” (rarely.  But I did get a personal rejection on a novel.) in which we bought fast food, drove to the nice neighborhood half an hour away, parked and ate our fast food in the car surrounded by immaculate laws and pretty houses and people who were living lives so much better than ours.

There are two things needed to understand our mental state at that time.  No, three.  First, I was very depressed.  I suspect if I’d gone anywhere near a doctor, I’d have been medicated at least temporarily.  What’s more I’m not sure I shouldn’t have been.  I had post-partum depression and worse, I was in a city about two hours away from all my social contacts.  It’s hard to remember this, but there was no internet – that’s the other part – and life could get really small and closed when you neither had tv nor money for books.  Both of these probably explain the third, which is that I thought we’d never get out of that place: our life was always going to be like that.  At the edge of starvation, not able to send novels out when I should because we couldn’t afford $8 for postage, just day after day like that.

(We’ve had days almost as bad this last year, but they’re DAYS not day after day after day.  It’s usually a cash flow issue and bills hitting before the payments I should get to cover them – the bane of the freelancer – NOT a way of life.)

Anyway, if you’re getting the picture of where we were…  Dan bought me a book of the works of Leonardo da Vinci for $40, which meant quite literally we ate pancakes for dinner for a while, and that book was one of my main forms of respite, as was taking walks with Robert and daydreaming.

During this time, either because the library had it sitting around or because someone gave it to me, I read a biography of Eva Peron.

In it I came across a puzzling sentence.  She was talking about growing up very poor and she said that she hated the “idea that there were rich people in the world.”

This was alien to me.  It still is.

I’m not going to proclaim myself saintly and I’m not saying this to put myself above others.  I have sins aplenty, and yes, even envy sometimes.  I’ve been known to envy the way someone writes, or the ability they have to promote themselves.  I’ve been known to be flabbergasted by computers and bitterly envy people’s facility with them.

More importantly, when the book business was all driven from the top, I could – and often did – bitterly envy the “darlings” who got taken up and wafted up to the heights with no effort and no ability I could see.

That last is the closest we’ll come to – I think – how she felt.  But it wasn’t so much that.  I didn’t want to have no one do better at publishing than I did.  I just wanted the “darlings” to be people I could look at and see obvious superiority.  People like Pratchett, say, or even Weber.

I didn’t want to read half-baked, badly plotted books and then read all the promotion proclaiming it the second coming of Shakespeare.

But even so…

I still can’t understand WHY she wanted there to be no rich people because she was poor.  I remember reading it, and thinking of our pokey picnic lunches in front of people’s nice houses (I wonder what those people thought!) and thinking how much sadder, near unendurable, in fact, my life would be without those.

I liked to know that even though my life might never be more than unending drudgery, some people were living better lives.  Even if I never got there, it was good to know other people were happy.

Later on, Dan said “Where did you always want to live” and I told him when I was eight I was going to live in Denver and be a writer.  And he said “Great.  We’ll go there.”  And the rents were lower and the cost of living too, and his new job paid better.  It took us six years to dig out from under, but Robert was eventually paid for, and they can’t repossess him.

And now, except for this last year – let’s hope the next year is better – which featured health and – not unrelated – cash flow issues, we’ve been at least okay.  Oh, fine, we’re (still) not living the lives of the people in whose neighborhood we used to eat.  Those were million dollar houses with landscaped yards.  We might never get there – in fact, chances are we won’t though I’ll have you know I HAVE every intention of winning mega millions, if only I can remember to buy a ticket – but that doesn’t trouble me at all.  Oh, sure, it would be nice, but actually once the kids move out we don’t even need a home the size we have, much less twice the size, and hey, I’m Death Of Plants and having grounds landscaped (unless we do it in cement) would be a waste of money.

All this is apropos of this “inequality” thing.  All the flap about inequality puzzles me and makes me a little queasy.  It’s Eva Peron all over again.

Why should I care that there are people who could buy me and sell me in half an hour’s work?  Do I really give a hang?

I tell you where I’d like to be.  I’d like to be at the place that a car repair doesn’t make our mouths go dry with anxiety and having the HVAC fixed is not a matter of waiting a propitious month.  I’d like to be able to pay off my boy’s student loans (because we have about enough for ONE tuition, so we’re paying half of each.)  I’d like to be sure when my 20 year old car quits (it’s been a trooper for us for about 15 years) we can get a new one without breaking the bank.

All of these have a good chance of happening when we’re not supporting college students.

Meanwhile, I know there are people a great deal worse off than us and carrying unbearable burdens and people so much better off than us that it’s ridiculous.

Neither bothers me.  Oh, we try to help our friends who get to tight places.  But we don’t feel it’s necessarily iniquitous that people make a great deal less than us.  Yes, in some cases it’s luck, but that’s part of human affairs. Certainly I don’t either envy or resent the people who make a great deal more.  Why should I, if I can make enough for our needs and we are (and we really are) quite happy with each other and the kids?

Why would inequality be a problem?  People aren’t alike.  Their abilities aren’t alike.  Their capacity for work isn’t alike.  I don’t feel guilty for what I’ve worked to have.  I don’t expect people “above” me do either.  Even if they inherited it.  Someone worked for what they have.

The only inequality that bothers me is the inequality before the law.  The people who are given special dispensation and special privilege and special exemption from regulations.

The other thing that bothers me is the societal equivalent of the literary darlings: people who are wafted up – usually by the political establishment, though they might be “businessmen” – to become post turtles, as in, no one knows how the turtle got on top of the post, it doesn’t know how it got there or what to do, and you can bet some damn fool put it up there.

Which again comes back to inequality of treatment.

That doesn’t bug me if it’s occasional – luck exists, and she’s no lady – but it disturbs living daylights out of me when it’s systematic and hinges on speaking brownnose to power.

It still doesn’t blight all my existence to know those people exist, mind.  At most it makes me wish to fight for a fairer world, knowing it will never be perfectly fair.

But inequality?  I sort of expect it.  I take it as a demonstration that the world is working properly.  Money is a stupid way to judge how people live, anyway, since some people live like kings on two cents and some people are poor on a fortune.

Why should I care that we’re not all equal?  And why should the government care?

It doesn’t of course.  It just sees a possibility – riding on the backs of those who hate the very idea of anyone doing better – to grab more power to itself.  Because, again, money isn’t everything, and some people’s greed is for power, and those are ALL in government.

But there are people who do care.  Their minds are foreign and strange.  And others think they care, because the media has told us inequality is a bad thing over and over again (in service of a government power grab, of course.)

If you’re one of those, stop and think.  Should you care if people aren’t equal?  Equalite was never a call of the American revolution.  People were very unequal then, even people who fought for independence.

But they fought for the right to be equal in the one way that counted – under the law.

And it’s the only way that should count for us too.


210 responses to “Equality

  1. No-one should ever be so broke they are forced to read Piers Anthony.

    • Some of his books are utterly bizarre.

    • Hey, I liked some of his early Xanth books. They went downhill fast, but the early ones weren’t that bad. Same with the Incarnations of Immortality, I think I have read the first three.

      On the other hand, I tried the first book of Apprentice Adept and never finished it, and didn’t try anything else I found afterwards.

      • He had the best magic ring ever.

        When Dor was talking to it (he can do that), it told him it was a magic wishing ring. He wished to get out of where he was. Nothing happened, the ring said it was working on it, and he climbed out on his own. The ring said, “See?”

        Every wish made on that ring came true from other things happening. But every wish DID come true.

      • I just got a surfeit, and haven’t read him since.

      • I hated Xanth. Fantasy is near and dear to me and he lampooned it. Maybe I’m overly sensitive. I liked his Bio of a Space Tyrant books though.

      • Usually the first book of any Piers Anthony series is okay, but they all decline, and the formula becomes obvious and threadbare. I often say that with the Xanth books, after a while you can see where he erased the roman numerals from his outline.

      • I’ve read all of the “Xanth” books, and a few others (Steppe is good, but the Mode books didn’t impress me). I even sent him the basic idea for “Yon Ill Wind”. Some of the plots in the middle Xanth books were a bit stretched. We differ greatly on political views, and that’s had an effect on my reading. I might still pick up one of his books from the library…

        I realized, once I read the Senior NCO Academy course material, that it was time for me and the Air Force to part ways. I wasn’t going to get promoted, and 26 years was enough. I was also beginning to have my more serious medical problems, and it was hard to continue to maintain that “military” lifestyle. They can still call me up if we get into a shooting war, and if need be, I can still hit what (or who) I shoot at. There is no way, however, I’m the “equal” of the young kids that serve today.

        Hate the rich? Heck no, I want to be one of them! People that “hate the rich” have never grown up since kindergarten. Both greed and envy are very UGLY personality traits.

    • Piers Anthony is okay in small doses, but you try reading Piers Anthony day in day out for a month. EVERY STUPID PUN MAGNIFIED… it was horrible. (Sniffle.)

      • :) There, there…

        Well, the puns did start to seem pretty stupid pretty fast even if I did read the ones I read with a year or two between each book.

        • The early Xanth books were fairly decent stories, which happened to carry a significant load of puns. Later books tended to be a long load of puns, strung together by something resembling a story.

          • After the second Xanth story, your mind starts getting teen twisted humor infections. Hard to shake off. And there are no antibiotics.

            • Try reading it first, *as* a teenager. Unleavened by the relief of other books, or logic (public school child, I was).

              In his defense, my own sense of humor may have been warped at birth. A keen appreciation of the ironic tends to fertilize the puns and make them more pun-gent. *chuckle*

              • Try growing up watching Red Skelton, for a “warped” sense of humor. My favorite was Sheriff Deadeye. Example follows. Sheriff walks into bar, swinging a horse’s tail. Says. “Well, I guess we’ll have to wholesale that one.” (Bartender misses line.). “Let’s do this over again.” (Goes out and re-enters.) “Well, I guess we’ll have to wholesale that one.” Bartender: “Why Sheriff?” (Wait for it.) “Because we can’t RETAIL him.”

          • I will stand in defense of A Spell for Chameleon and the next couple. I will even consider making an argument that without Xanth nobody publishes Discworld. (That your pitcher of beer? mind if I have a glass?) Unlike Pratchett, Anthony’s writing deteriorated rather than improved as the series went along, milking his fans without providing sufficient nourishment in recompense.

            I could even cite several works of Anthony’s which I consider better than decent — his Steppe reinvention of Temujin’s history as a MMORPG (in 1976) was an effort deserving greater success — SF. But time has taught me that very few authors merit binge reading, almost all need to be interleavened with other works, other genres.

            Old SF suffered less of this, because authors were expected and encouraged to vary their outputs. Contemporary authors, who often publish a single book as a trilogy, intent on mining a series (don’t misunderstand — as a fan I like series, but I recognize the problems) often suffer in comparison. I can think of few authors of whom I could take a pile of ten or so of their books and read them uninterrupted — RAH is one, nobody else leaps to mind — without getting sated.

            • Spell for Chameleon was my first entry into genre fiction that didn’t have copious illustrations (and I mostly read it because I wanted to read Source of Magic and figured I had to read the first one first). But it has been easily ten years since I’ve touched any of his stuff.
              Now, Alan Dean Foster… I need to go back and re-read some swaths of Commonwealth stuff. Icerigger in particular. And Spellsinger (speaking of lampooning fantasy, though that was mostly humor in the service of story, not story in the service of humor.)

          • It really went to hell when he started outsourcing his puns to his fans.

      • I think I only read one Xanth book … and my husband says I was insufferable for months afterward … later I tried reading more, but couldn’t “get into it,” don’t know why, it was long time ago and I don’t remember …

    • Call me weird (heck, even the voices in my head call me weird on occasion. Except for Ralph. He just giggles.), but I actually enjoyed the Xanth novels (hey, look! There’s a small statue resembling the southern end of a north-bound feline…lets pick it up and see what it is! Oh no, Cat Ass Trophy!!!). I only read the first Incarnation of Immortality book, the one about Death, and thought it was a fairly novel concept. But I was a teenager, and jobless, and therefore dependent on the base library and friends loaning me books, so I never got into the rest of the series.

      • I read the Xanth series up to the book where the main character is the golem. I lost interest there because he wrote a scene where he was obviously weaseling out of his world-building.

        The rule for Good Magician Humphrey is that you work for a year, and then he will answer your question. He waived this for Dor, reasonably enough because it was a public matter, and for Smash by giving him another job, but when he did it in this book, you could see the author’s hand too clearly. Oddly enough it might have worked if properly written, but it was too obvious.

    • I like some of Piers Anthony.

    • I read “On a Pale Horse” at a time when it happened I was rather depressed. Not happy timing.

      Fortunately, I haven’t had occasion to read anything else by him.

      “That Summer I read all of Piers Anthony back to back. A bad thing to do, but the library had him.”

      Angels and ministers of grace defend you.

    • Amen. Although (referring to last post), it was during reading Cluster that I got that “oh, so THAT’S how that works” moment.

    • I liked his Xanth books. I know they aren’t hard fantasy, but they were never supposed to be. It’s the whimsicality that made them fun.

  2. Larry Patterson

    I remember being upset at many rich Portuguese, because of the way they got rich, that is by connections to get a project approved, for example, or the schlubs at city hall who supposedly earned about $20 k per annum, but had wonderful houses and top of the line Mercedes or BMWs. And 2 full time employees to make sure none of the great unwashed didn’t park in their places on the main street in front of the Câmera Municipal, i.e. City Hall.

    Washington DC is now getting like that, though the income comes from a declared pay from Civil “Service.”

    • This is where it chafes. I don’t care about Steve Jobs or Bill Gates but this, this exercise in crony capitalism would have me chucking the whole free markets idea were I not sensible enough to know these are even more characteristic of “enlightened” economies:

      The Environmental Movement: How Corrupt Is It?
      [Powerline has] written many times about the corruption of the global warming movement. Billions and billions of dollars are being poured into the pockets of global warming alarmists, because they perform such a valuable service: they help to persuade voters that governments should be given greater control over the world’s economies. What’s a few billion dollars when trillions are at stake?

      We have written mostly about the corruption of Greens in America, where Al Gore has become a standing joke. But the Daily Mail has performed the valuable service of exposing the corruption that is rampant among British environmentalists; specifically, global warming alarmists:

      The Mail on Sunday today reveals the extraordinary web of political and financial interests creating dozens of eco-millionaires from green levies on household energy bills.

      A three-month investigation shows that some of the most outspoken campaigners who demand that consumers pay the colossal price of shifting to renewable energy are also getting rich from their efforts.


      Enquiries by this newspaper have revealed:

      * Four of the nine-person Climate Change Committee, the official watchdog that dictates green energy policy, are, or were until very recently, being paid by firms that benefit from committee decisions.

      * A new breed of lucrative green investment funds, which were set up to expand windfarm energy, are in practice a means of taking green levies paid by hard-pressed consumers and handing them to City investors and financiers.

      * £3.8 billion of taxpayers’ money funds the new Green Investment Bank, set up by the Department of Business and Skills. One of its biggest deals involved energy giant SSE selling windfarms to one of the new green funds, Greencoat Wind. The Green Investment Bank’s chairman, Lord Smith of Kelvin, is also chairman of SSE. The bank says it ‘provided expertise’ to enable BIS to take a £50 million stake in Greencoat, which helped fund the SSE sale.

      * The same bank’s chief executive, Shaun Kingsbury, is one of the UK’s highest-paid public sector employees. His £325,000 salary is more than twice the Prime Minister’s.

      * Firms lobbying for renewables can virtually guarantee access to key Government policy-makers, because they are staffed by former very senior officials – a striking example of Whitehall’s ‘revolving door’.

      * Among the most astonishing features exposed by our investigation is the way in which vehement advocates for radical policies designed to curb global warming are making huge sums of money from their work. Here are some of the key figures among the new breed of fat-cat Ecocrats…


      • (claps) Yep.

        (remainder of post deleted as redundant)


      • B-b-but, aren’t all the deniers funded by the Oil companies?

        No, they are not.

        • I’m one of those still waiting for my check from Big Oil. I think Godot will come first. Or Charlemagne, Holger Dansk, or Frederick Barbarossa.

          • Ticks on fingers: big oil, The Zionist Conspiracy, the Koch brothers, the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy — look guys, if they threw me just a few shekels now and then, I wouldn’t worry about my car, right?

          • My checks seem to be lost in the mail too, and I’ve been accused of being a Big XYZ shill for a couple of decades now.

        • I know I’m not! Unless all my checks are lost in the mail.

          (Walks off, grumbling) Damn Luddites, when will they start using Direct Deposit??!?

          • Well everybody knows Big Oil is as crooked as a dogs hind leg, is it any surprise they are stiffing you?

            • Well, if any of you ever figure out how to get some money out of that bunch, let the rest of us into the secret, okay? Since we get accused of working for them anyway, might as well turn that into reality if possible. :)

              • Friends, we’re all victims of another terrible scheme by Big Oil to exploit our gullibility. This is a point made clear by one of the oldest “naughty stories” I learned:

                The night court judge looked down from his bench at the three scantily clad “ladies” charged with prostitution, turned to the first and asked what she was being charged with.

                “Prostitution, your honor, but I never! I am just a schoolteacher, I swear it, out looking for a little excitement.”

                The second woman being arraigned answered in very nearly identical phrases. Sighing, the judge turned to the third woman and asked whther she, too, was just a schoolteacher?

                “No, your honor, I’m not ashamed to admit that I am a prostitute; I am an honest working girl.”

                “Well,” sighed the judge, “ot os nice to meet somebody honest around here. So tell me, how’s business?”

                “Lousy, your honor, what with all these damn schoolteachers giving it away!”
                - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - –
                Friends, Big Oil isn’t goiong to write us any checks so long as we’re being the schoolteachers.

    • I sometimes wonder if the admonition that it is easier for a camel to get through the eye of the needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven is because in almost all the rest of the world and in almost all the other ages virtually all rich people got so through this or some other means of corruption, or if not then once they got wealthy they either had to participate in the corruption or else have their hard earned wealth taken from them by those who did. Our forefathers built a culture where you could get rich (indeed, the apparently easiest way to) by providing/inventing a good product/service at a price people will pay, and where a man expects The Law to protect him without first requiring any bribes or favors. Oh, not always… but often enough that that verse doesn’t make sense to most people anymore… and now we are seeing the reversion to the mean.

      • Heinleinian bad luck, that.


      • That’s why He said it. “Richness” involved one or more of the following” corruption, greed, theft, abuse of power. The problem is in thinking that the way the world USED to work, was the same as it does today. Just like many are unwilling/unable to understand that if you actually LOOK at History, you can see that the “Age on Enlightenment” was a direct outgrowth of Christ. An attempt to actually follow the rules He set down, and apply them politically. The U.S.A. could never have existed, without trying to follow what He said about Loving your neighbor., and free will.
        It’s not “reverting to the mean,” but reverting to the MEAN.
        A willful failure to know history, and falling for Evil.

  3. What ridiculous morals you have, actually paying debts you owe. Why didn’t you declare medical bankruptcy? Foist the debt upon the hospital and doctors, so they have to charge $10 for a Tylenol to recoup your cost from all the “rich people”? Very silly of you!

    (I personally went through the same thing. Not the c-section, that experience being reserved for my wife. But a change of jobs had an insurance company calling it a pre-existing condition, also slapping us with $20k worth of medical bills. I never understood how our friends, who had gone bankrupt, were driving new cars while I was busy paying off this debt and being hounded by debt collectors. I was young and foolish.)

    • When you file bankruptcy (whistles tunelessly, looks around…) all of a sudden you become a fairly good credit risk. You CAN’T file again for a considerable length of time, so they’ll get their money out of you one way or another.

      • And therein lies the big problem. “Money” (the possession or lack thereof) did not cause the problem. The problem is in MANAGEMENT of said money. They did a TV show a while back that tracked a bunch of lotto winners. Something like 3 or 4 out of 5 winners were either (a) broke again or (b) in worse financial situations than prior to winning. Why? Because they were still living with the same bad spending habits that landed them in trouble in the first place. Changing bad habits and learning some basic financial management is the key, whether you win the lotto or not.

        (and this post is not targeted at anyone in particular, please don’t take it personally!)

        • Meh. We would just be able to work more and better!

        • That’s why I say that lack of money is a symptom, not a cause, of poverty.

          • With apologies to those who’ve heard me say it before:

            Broke is a state of money; Poor is a state of mind. I’ve been broke, but I’ve never been poor.*

            *My husband and I have a running discussion on this, as he’s fond of pointing out that out on the ragged edges of this definition… It doesn’t work in the context of African war refugees. I can agree with that, but in any conditions I’ve ever known in the first world, including during- and post-fire, flood, earthquake, cyclone, and volcano, it still applies. And he does agree (emphatically!) that money cannot fix Africa; the culture and the politics will have to change before true progress can be lasting.

            • Will Africa ever change enough to have lasting progress?

              • I understand there is a study or two that claim that various parts start getting better when the international aid gets shut off for a while, and goes back to horror when it comes back.

            • Every analogy breaks down if you analyze it too far. Yours is awesome, especially when applied to the US. Gonna steal it, if I can remember it at an appropriate time.

  4. I’ve evidently got the same brain damage that Sarah has: I can’t envy people for being richer than I am. The fact that Bill Gates has more money than God doesn’t upset me. And I don’t think that would change if I was struggling to get by.

    (Confession: I do sometimes get mad at Clive Cussler, but it’s for writing crap rather than getting paid tons of money for writing crap.)

    So the question is, what makes some people really angry about other people’s success? And why has this become enshrined as an acceptable thing in our society instead of a shameful or pathological flaw?

    • I have been subject to a similar envy that our hostess confesses – I have been known to be downright resentful at seeing someone less qualified than I at work get the promotion I was going for.

      • I solved that one long ago. Any promotion for me now would be as some type of supervisor…No effin thanks. The only reason I have gone with being “lead” on my shift is there are, including me, 3 guys on the shift.

        • The working class
          can kiss my ass
          I’ve got the foreman’s job at last

        • Same. It’s a common phrase around my warehouse end of the factory: “It it makes sense DON”T DO IT!” Sad how often that particular bit of chuckleheaded nonsense gets proven sadly right.

          Also, if it makes sense to you, you must have management potential (“What! Everything’s going smoothly and no management personnel have been involved?!? Best get to meddling, lest *our* bosses discover how much a waste of money we really are!”).

          • This is one reason I am mainly self-employed. Even though I prefer the aspect as an employee of simply coming in and doing a good days work for a days pay, and forgetting about the job as soon as I clock out (very low stress, that) I don’t deal well with idiots. I get very irritated, very fast when somebody comes around (particularly someone who has never done the job themselves) and tells me to not do the job the way I am doing it, but do it this other way that requires four extra steps, twice as much time, and produces an only slightly inferior result to the way I am currently doing it.

    • To make, more clearly, a point I alluded to above: I DO NOT MIND Bill Gates’ wealth, even if I might deplore how he employs it. Al Gore, OTOH, should be given a blindfold, a cigarette and a brick wall to stand before.

    • The “envy of those richer than you” bit is reminding me of the old thought experiment:

      You’re working at a medium-sized company, maybe 100 employees or so. You’ve just received your end-of-year bonus check… and it’s ten thousand dollars! Wow! You weren’t expecting that much, since the company owner is notoriously vindictive and you had questioned several of his decisions over the past year. I guess that old Scrooge must have seen the light, right?

      … Except that then you overhear other employees discussing their bonuses at lunchtime, and you find out that everyone else got twenty-five thousand dollars. Everyone but you.

      Now, you know that if you go to the owner and talk reasonably to him, nothing will happen. However, if you threaten him with a discrimination lawsuit, you’ll be able to get something to happen — but as vindictive as he is, what he’s going to do isn’t to increase your bonus to match everyone else’s. No, if you threaten a lawsuit, he’ll just cancel everyone’s bonus checks for the year, and give everyone a nice equal zero.

      So, the question is: would you sacrifice your $10,000 check, in order to make all those other people with $25,000 lose theirs? After all, that would be only fair. And the related question: are you still able to be happy about that $10,000 if you know others are getting more?

      Now — I know that Dona Sarah, and many others who’ve commented so far, wouldn’t do so: they are not afflicted with envy. I find myself in the same boat: to me, the obvious choice is to keep the $10,000: I’m slightly jealous that others have more, but certainly not enough to say “they should be as poor as I am”! Yet from what I’ve heard, there are LOTS of people whose instinctive response would be “Cancel everyone’s checks, it’s only fair.”

      … And now you know where all those idiotic “Tax the richest 1% to fiscal death” policies come from.

      • See, I’d be taking my big 10 and assessing the situation. If I’m getting less through no discernible fault of my own, I’ll use it to move to another job with a better culture and leadership. If, on the other hand, assessment reveals I’ve fouled the waters of my own work environment, I’ll use the disparity as inducement to mend my ways and clean up my mess. Taking action against anybody else’s money? I just…uh…why?

        The flip, of course, is having been in management I’m well aware of the sort who take egalitarian to mean we should tear everybody down to the same level. I don’t get ‘em, but I know what my responsibility is to them: To see them along to places better suited to their temperament, so that everybody else can get on with gettin’ on.

      • Old Russian proverb: It is not enough that I do well, my neighbor must also suffer.

        • And I remember a similar line from a Superman movie. “It is not enough that I be rich- everyone else must be poor.”

    • “Confession: I do sometimes get mad at Clive Cussler, but it’s for writing crap rather than getting paid tons of money for writing crap.”

      Ah, c’mon! The earlier Dirk Pitt stuff (before he started farming out the writing) was entertaining popcorn stuff. And his books paid for the location of the Hunley.

  5. Inequality is the new “Global Warming”.

    • Christopher M. Chupik

      Nah. Global warming causes inequality. That is why we must have climate justice if we are ever to have financial justice.;-)

  6. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    Has anybody else read C. S. Lewis’s “Screwtape Proposes A Toast”? It’s usually included in Lewis’s _Screwtape Letters_. The part on “Democracy” (not the political system) is “interesting”. The Tempers have made “Democracy” mean “let’s pull everybody down to the same level”.

    • I have, and yes, it’s a very inspiring speech (for those who follow Our Lord Below).

      I first ran into it (the “speech” and the idea) in college back in the early 1990s, where everyone was playing the “I’m worse off than you” game. Everyone, that is, except the students who were scholarship and work-study because they really truly came from poverty.

      • Note: I was a scholarship student, and needed it, but I wouldn’t classify myself as coming from “poverty.” We were middle class, but I was the youngest of five and my parents couldn’t afford college for any of us, and let us know it… and that there were alternatives. They also managed to get us through private high schools (scholarships again!) with the understanding that if we leveraged that properly, we could pay for college ourselves.

        I’ve just over $3K left to go on my student loans (living expenses were not covered, alas.) But it was a nice city, there were reasonable things within walking distance, and I had enough money to get the things I really needed, like cold-weather clothing, so I wouldn’t say I came out of poverty.

        • One gal I knew had been working since she was 14 because her family, eh, the less said the better. A few others were almost as hardscrabble for various reasons, and wanted to go to this college to get away from [thing or person]. Most of the other work-study folks were working class and the first generation to go to college.

          And then the college’s financial aid department massively messed up my junior/senior year (long story) and we had students who had to walk away a few hours short of graduation because they couldn’t come up with several thousand dollars cash on ten minutes notice. Yet another reason to be very, very leery of govt funding programs.

          • Ouch. My husband filed a leave from college but they lost it. However, we had a friend working in the admissions department and she figured out that it was easier to accept him as a new student, transfer his credits from the same university (!) and go from there, which meant he was the first of his class to graduate, technically. (He was “in college” for six years, but he only took classes for four and a half years, which I think is reasonable. He’s got more in student loans, though.)

  7. BTW, did Eva Peron then explain how she dealt with becoming one of the rich and powerful herself?

    Sometimes it seems as if the ones who most resent the rich when they are not one themselves are also most likely to become the most obnoxious of the rich people, or the least compassionate of the powerful people, those who are all talk and no action, at least no action which might diminish their own position or be off their own money if they manage to get there themselves.

    • Denial, denial, denial. How else?

    • From the few obnoxious wealthy people I’ve crossed paths with, I’m inclined to agree with you (although some of the third generation trust-fund babies came close). The ones that always made me blink were the ones who have money flowing out of their ears and yet are “victims” who “deserve” so much more from the world.

      • You are talking about the SEIU members driving the top of the line 2012 Toyota SUVs with 99% bumper stickers on them?

        • Keying is too easily repaired.

          .. must.. not.. say.. anything.. else…

          • You don’t need to. Carrie Underwood already gave instructions.

          • Why is that ping pong ball making a sloshing noise?

          • sugar in the gas tank?

            • A good friend of mine once advised me not to bother with sugar. At least back in the days of real gasoline, it didn’t do anything. Yes, he tried it. To his great disgust, the car failed to fail.

              • mikeweatherford

                There are things you can add. I won’t say anything more, except that the Air Force, in its infinite wisdom, ran a course called Espionage, Sabotage, and Subversion. I was an honor graduate.

                • I’m just gonna write your name down over here, with a little note. Never know when you might need a fellow’s skills…

                • At least in cold weather just water would work, at least temporarily. It will freeze on the way from the tank to the engine when the car is moving. Has happened to me a couple of times. Presumably the water had come from condensation, both times were when I had started with a half full tank. And both times the car did start again after a while, but having it stall in the middle of winter in the middle of nowhere can be scary, or at least used to be before cell phones.

                  Okay, those were very small amounts of water. I suppose a lot might do worse things.

                  • The one and only advantage of ethanol added to your gasoline is that it cures this problem (well for small amounts of water such as come from condensation, or faulty sensors). If you want something more spectacular than sugar, use swimming pool chlorine tablets, but DON”T drop them in straight, put them in a sealed plastic bag (or condom if you want lots of time, like a week or two, to disperse) so they do NOT touch gas while you are standing at the fill spout.

              • Sugar probably only works if you have alcohol in the mix.

  8. The January poll has begun:

    And you can still read Have Spacesuit — Will Travel

  9. Even at my lowest, the two months when I made $1500 total and almost tapped out my savings because just heating my one bedroom apartment cost $400, Bad Supervisor was being Very Bad, and there was no sign of improvement, I never hated the guys who did have very nice flying jobs with guaranteed incomes and fat per diems and retirement funds. I looked forward to the day when that would be me.

    I’ve been disgusted with obnoxious wealthy people (and obnoxious people in general). I only really resented the one successful person and that was because this individual ruined a lot of other people’s job chances because of the individual’s bad behavior.

  10. What you’re talking about is not envy per se. It’s the hatesex-child of envy and wrath: Resentment.

    But it’s worth noting that you point out you too find it objectionable when it’s systemic, because that’s exactly what most of these objectors believe: that’s why they call it privilege, literally “private law”. And it’s also worth pointing out that “inequality” means one thing when the difference between the richest and poorest is three zeroes; it means something else entirely when the difference between them is nine zeroes. As a result, people incensed about the latter can talk right past people who see nothing wrong with the former, but both are still talking about “inequality”.

    Which is one reason that, for all my issues with Heinlein on other topics, I have always been a big fan of his demand for facts and numbers. (Though even there, you have to make sure you’ve got *all* of the facts and numbers. Statistics is the art of making some numbers stand for the rest in misleading ways.)

    • Actually I don’t give a good goddamn how many zeroes there are, because their wealth doesn’t affect me. I affect that.
      I resent laws being twisted around, but that might CAUSE inequality but has nothing to do with it. It’s what government does.

      • Yep. The ‘income gap’ is an inconsequential measure. Only applicable or important wherein external (i.e. government) action artificially maintains it. A useful measure would be quality of life of the ‘poor’ (sorry, I’ve been out of the U.S., I can’t call our lower economic brackets poor without quotes).

        Somebody around here (RES perhaps?) linked to a Thatcher speech in Parliament that addressed this idea nicely.

        I don’t care what Bill Gates or Jeff Bezos have, or what they do with what they have, except wherein in enriches my life. Huh. Ya know, guys like that got where they are by enriching my life, so…wherein I do care it’s to say “Cool! What’s next?”

        • The poorest people in America are in the 70th percentile, world-wide.

          • And largely unaware of what lies below.

            • And encouraged by our political and media class (but I repeat myself) to be, not grateful for their opportunities, but resentful that they a) don’t have more and b) have to exert themselves as much as they do for what they get.

              Such are the wages of incubated entitlement and victimhood.

      • mikeweatherford

        I do care in one instance: when it’s out-and-out government fraud that gives one person nine zeroes and another one four, and they do the same basic job. I care when the government decides (as it has several times in the past) that some people “deserve” a 5% raise, and others “are paid too much as it is” — primarily when civil servants get a raise and the military is told to “do more with less — again”. That makes me angry — not because the paper-pushers got a pay raise, but that some idiot that has never done anything but glad-hand and BS thinks that a guy that can’t complain, can’t quit, and can hardly pay his bills is “paid too much”. A certain president in the 1970s comes to mind…

  11. Funny how the wankers whining about inequality are most often the same folks who do things that make it even harder for those who are down to get a leg up. The Poor ™ can’t afford food so lets make sure some things are too pricey for them to get ahead (see using food for car fuel) or like y’all’s old car, they made it even harder to find a quality replacement by ordering the crushing of replacements when the silly Cash For Clunkers went into effect to try and save the Union bigwigs phoney baloney jobs. My old ’98 Nissan has an issue where I get a Check Engine light, and it is an emissions purge valve and prevents getting an inspection sticker. $139 to replace. What happens is some bits of carbon get into the seat and prevent it closing. I know this because, not having the funds to replace it, I have twice disassembled the “non-serviceable” component and fixed it. The second time I bought $5 in fuel filters and hose and isolated the valve so it cannot happen again.
    Then there is the price of fuel driven up to keep people from moving from a bad situation to a better one (mobility of the populace is bad for their power… see Detroit, California, The “rich” can always either afford it, or leave, but the middle is where the bucks are. When they leave you get the Leftoid paradise of Detroit)
    I had more of a rant but fighting the kitten to type has made me forget it all.
    I’ve become the Looney Toons dog Marc Anthony

    • But if inequality ended, they’d need something new to whine about.

    • I have to fight two cats who think they’re kittens to type.
      Our car has something wrong with the front end. One of these days it’s going to GO and probably not be worth fixing. I’ve been keeping it going by prayer and will power. I need (I think) two more years. Then the kids SHOULD be out of the house.

      • I’m sorta looking for another old ’70s Dodge Colt, but they are gettin really rare, and often over priced. One of the reasons I play more with motorcycles these days. They stayed easier to fix longer. Some of the newer ones are almost as bad as a car, but even my 91 is a stone ax reliable “Foin Beasty”. Even ice and snow did little to stop me when my truck was laid up (for 3 years), but now that it is back on the road, I did drive it in two days this month (only really needed to one day).
        I’d have to look (wish I was closer to you so I could help a bit) but I think anything is worth fixing if you have the time, especially if it is all you have, and you can do the work. Sadly though. these days too much is disposable, and designed so replacement often entails a large assembly that costs many time more than the one bit that is actually worn.

        as for Allie the kitten … This : pic.twitter.com/xzcjeEQWGw is part of what I fought to type this. She knows that one day she will catch the blinking curser and the arrow. Isabeax just sits on the mouse, and Annie will walk in front of the monitor from time to time … Allie will do all that at the same time while batting the keys and clicking the mouse. She multitasks with abandon.

    • Oh yes.

      And Finnish environmentalists and their desire to save the world by limiting our use of cars, in this country, and forcing us to buy newer models which are more environmentally friendly (and the poor can’t afford even used)… :)

      We have long distances here, and public transportation works well only in the bigger centers of population. And even though I live in one I have to get to work at a time when it doesn’t work. And now there is some talk about starting to tax cars by the kilometers driven. Everybody would need to get some sort of tracking device in the car. And we probably will not get rid of any of the older taxes if that happens, we are still paying one yearly tax which was supposed to be temporary, only for a few years… (that was 1994. We are still paying it).

      • And by the way, the main reason our lords and masters want to go to that ‘by kilometers’ taxation seems to be that enough of us have actually changed their cars to the newer ones which use less fuel (in spite of the constant complaints that Finns are supposedly driving the oldest cars in Europe) that the old system, where fuel has been taxed heavily, no longer brings in as much money as before. So, in order to get the accustomed amount of money from the car owners (or maybe even a bit more, since as said no chance in hell they’d lower the fuel tax or anything else)… damn.

        • That notion is cropping up regionally around here, as well. Much like the nitwits who proposed punitive taxes on cigarettes be applied to some worthy cause or another:

          What do you suppose is going to happen when your punitive action works? Where’s the funding for those worthy projects coming from then?

          When taxation is used as inducement for some behavior or another, it can be assumed the accomodation of that behavior will not be the end of the tax.

          • No. And most of the money from the taxation of cars and driving them isn’t even going for the maintenance of roads here. That part of the infra is starting to get rather bad, at least compared to what it used to be like, and what I remember from twenty, thirty years ago. Because there is not enough money, they say. Since there is so much more that money is needed for. Nothing of which can be cut. So lets wait a bit more with the roads. Oh yeah. Cars are bad for the environment anyway…

          • Taxes never end.

        • I think they want to tax by miles travelled in order to turn rural residents into serfs. In rural America going anywhere doesn’t involve a subway token- it means driving.

          • They try it here and I’ll disconnect my odometer. Besides do they really have the manpower to go house to house and check everybodies odometers? Because you know people aren’t going to tell the truth about how far they drive.

            • The Soviet experience teaches us that if you can make everyone a criminal, you have pretext to jail, fine, or harass anyone for any reason you can pull out of your fat, bureaucratic rear-end. Any reason from having a better car, a political or social opinion you don’t like, to Solzhenitsyn’s experience, a piece of kit that the political officer coveted.
              In short, the innocent have nothing to fear, so it is important to make them criminals as quickly as possible.

            • And you have to report to odometer reading when you sell your car. If the odom is disconnected I expect they will have a standard matrix for fines and estimated mileage to ding you or the buyer.

              • You simply hook it back up a little while before you sell it. The older ones you can even just hook to a drill and spin the miles on. Actually knew a guy that burnt up a reversible drill by doing this spinning the miles off.

            • OnStar or equivalent will report it for you. No effort on your part required.


            • It won’t be hooked to the odometer, but rather GPS, with the owner paying for the ‘service’. Of course, they would ‘never’ use that data for any other purpose.

      • There’s nothing more permanent than a temporary tax.

          • Okay, some ranting, due to some damn stuff I recently erred reading (very bad for blood pressure, reading some forums): so taxes are sold to us as a way to get money from the rich for things which will benefit all of us. But there is never enough money from that. And the will be fewer rich people because of that too since all the stuff that goes with taxes makes becoming rich a lot harder. And in the end the taxes will always come to roost on the income of the poor people too (those who were supposed to benefit).

            Well, we can always stop working altogether, I’m sure I could invent lots of reasons not to, and just hope there are still enough of those ‘rich b*stards’ around that the money will last our lifetimes (I doubt. Most likely will not last what is left of mine). But since I’m one of the working poor every time there is some new tax it seems it gets harder for me to make a living.

            So yay for envy, my fellow citizens (yes, Finns are pretty bad as a group, all who work for somebody else or live on government benefits anyway, any proposal to make things easier for those people who actually employ us will inevitably bring out the vitriol, at least on internet forums, depressingly so).

            Just keep voting for everything which would take the money from the pockets of the ‘rich’ (that, by the way, here sometimes seems to be _everybody_ who owns their own company, no matter how small, the employed seem to be sure they are all full into the ‘grey’ if not full ‘black’ and evading taxes – those bad, bad people are not giving enough to the rest of us poor workers who are getting so screwed by them) you envy, in the end it’s still easier for actually rich to move if things start to become intolerable enough (the one part I _do_ envy the rich for) and we will all still be here then, trying to live in the broken system…

            • One thing to keep in mind — such taxes are generally on income, not wealth. When you are wealthy enough you don’t have to have much income; your accountants and tax lawyers are a deductible expense hired to hide income while preventing deprivation. For example, if you have Kennedy-level wealth everything goes into a family trust, which owns all family houses, vehicles and such, pays each family member’s expenses (stipend for per-diem is a non-taxable event, clothing allowance for public appearance on behalf of the Trust is non-taxable), health insurance is provided as beneficiary of the Trust and so on. Actual income is shielded by the Trust even though the beneficiaries can enjoy a very lavish lifestyle.

              *All statements are based on US tax code and represent general principles only; tax laws are subject to change without notice and varies from state to state. Your mileage may vary.

              • N.B., when wealthy persons and families (e.g., Warren Buffett, the Kennedys) promote higher income taxes this is known as “raising the drawbridge,” a practice whereby accumulated wealth is protected while accumulating wealth is impeded. One of its benefits is it helps deter competition for resources by more aggressive “up-and-coming” entrepreneurs and (frequently) ensures family representatives get “invites” to participate in ventures where their capital, connections and prestige can earn disproportionate returns on investment. (See Al Gore.)

                BTW, one way of providing benefits of wealth without income is for the Trust to buy (say) an apartment building over-looking Central Park and install a family member beneficiary in the penthouse to “oversee” the building superintendent staff. Free apartment, generous per diem stipend, token income.

        • mikeweatherford

          Does anyone remember the telephone company being forced to give everyone rebates back in the 1990s? They had been collecting a tax on telephone service to pay for the war

          the Spanish-American war of 1898. It was totally paid for in 1913, before the US got into WWI. Just a little “temporary” tax…

          A Pox on all their houses, everyone that inhabits them, and their children for three generations!

      • Yes, here in Flyover Country USA, it’s much the same … corridors of the urban centers with public transit with limited hours (my daughter can’t work past 6pm and make it home because of the bus schedule) … and outside those corridors, good luck with that. And the young lefty urbanites keep proselytizing public transit … dude, I have to get to my job from my home, neither of which is served by public transit … but they only know their own little pigeonhole of a world.

        And don’t start me on all the money being spent on bike lanes, etc., taxpayer expenditures to benefit primarily … young white males! How do they keep from slitting their own wrists, these lefties … I thought white males were the bad guys … ?? And all these tax breaks for bike access is targeted straight at that demographic … ooops, I said straight. It’s too confusing …

        • Yes, here in Flyover Country USA, it’s much the same … corridors of the urban centers with public transit with limited hours (my daughter can’t work past 6pm and make it home because of the bus schedule) … and outside those corridors, good luck with that. And the young lefty urbanites keep proselytizing public transit … dude, I have to get to my job from my home, neither of which is served by public transit … but they only know their own little pigeonhole of a world.

          That isn’t just flyoverstan, USA. Take the French Riviera for example. Should you desire to use public transport for a night out in Nice, then if you happen to live anywhere not within the urban boundary of Nice you’d best hope your night out will end before about 10pm (and 9pm if you live inland a bit) because that’s about when the last bus or train leaves.

          And don’t start me on all the money being spent on bike lanes, etc., taxpayer expenditures to benefit primarily … young white males!

          I have to say I appreciate US bike lanes – or at least the ones here in San Diego county. Unlike lanes in, say the UK or France, they are generally (I’m sure there are exceptions) of sensible length/width, don’t abruptly end just when you really need them (at the bend when the road narrows) and so on. Even so, and despite the wonderful weather, they don’t get used that much M-F by the average working slob, rather they get used A LOT at weekends by leisure cyclists in lycra on what are generally pretty expensive road bikes.

          But I have to say that they do seem to be used by both men and women. More male than female to be sure but not overwhelmingly more. I can’t comment on the racial breakdown because I have no good way to determine whether a tan is genetic or simply caused by much exposure to the elements. Evidence suggests that whatever the racial breakdown the class breakdown skews heavily upwards.

          However the cost of a few lines of white paint and a slightly narrower road for vehicles doesn’t seem that excessive. Unlike the totally idiotic “sprinter” light rail line that sprints along at a speed slightly faster than an arthritic snail between places that no one actually wants to travel (or at least if they do they certainly don’t take the sprinter… because it never seems to have passengers) and which cost $billions

          • “However the cost of a few lines of white paint and a slightly narrower road for vehicles doesn’t seem that excessive.”

            I didn’t know California was so sensible. I’ve surveyed for and worked for engineers that engineered bike lanes in both Washington and Idaho. Generally it is at a cost of millions of dollars per mile of bike lane. They must widen the roadway, build it up or cut it down to match the existing road, then resurface the existing road to match seamlessly with the bike lane. Then they must rebuild all the features farther from the centerline than the bike lane, ditches, sidewalks, storm drains, cut banks, etc. Most times this includes buying additional right-of-way from landowners, many of whom see no pressing need for a bike lane, and must be forces to sell under threat of eminent domain.

            All for a four foot wide lane so that instead of having to share the road with some yuppie and his girlfriend, who insist on riding two abreast, even on blind corners and blocking the entire lane of traffic. Now I have to share the road only with the yuppie as he rides alongside of his girlfriend who wonder of wonders is riding mostly in the lane designed for their mode of transportation, while said yuppie blocks only half the lane (which means I still must wait until there is no oncoming traffic to pass) while making conversation and puppy dog eyes at his girlfriend.

            • You left out the most significant: feeling smugly virtuous while wasting the gas in your tank and subjecting his coworkers to the delightful smell of his sweaty unwashed body.

        • Or Good Lord, Portland OR, where they spend so much per mile of Max train and bike paths it would be cheaper to give all the riders a free car and a gas card: A friend of mine’s nephew blew his engine up commuting from where he could afford to live and where he could find a job, and had to put on blocks until he could raise the money to get it fixed. Unfortunately the commuter friendly city doesn’t run mass transit for the night-shift workers, and the way the night traffic runs riding a bike is nearly suicidal. Good thing he could borrow money from his family, because it is getting hard to find a payday lender.

        • Mass transit is a favorite tool for forcing folks to cluster where the planners want them to:

          We have written before about “regionalism,” the left’s stealth plan to impose equality through urban and suburban planning. Stanley Kurtz has been, to my knowledge, the leading critic of this effort.

          Katherine Kersten is also on the case in a big way. In a column for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, she explains how, in the Twin Cities area, the Metropolitan Council is preparing to instruct nearly 200 municipalities on what they must do to disperse poverty.

          In essence, the Twin City planners will identify surburban zoning and use prectices that supposedly deny opportunity to, and create barriers for, low-income and minority people. What does this mean? The answer lies in what the Feds have required of other regional planning bodies that, like the Metropolitan Council, receive its planning funds.

      • yeah, it is 19 miles to work for me, and to get to the nearest public transport is … about the same, but it is not near work. I live outside of Dallas/FtWorth (Alvarado) and work in another suburb of DFW called Mansfield. I think a small part of Mansfield is served by a bus-line, but not the area I work.

  12. Oh, I’m totally with you here. I remember reading a passage by H. L. Mencken where he talked about being constitutionally unable to envy or resent the rich, and that struck me as totally familiar. I hear people go on about “the 1%” and they just sound to me like they’re eaten up with envy—and proud of it.

    If someone becomes wealthy by providing other people with goods and services that they want, in a market that’s open to competition—there’s this thing called “gains from trade,” which says that in any voluntary exchange, both parties end up better off. Every dollar Apple has gotten from me gave me something worth more than a dollar to me in return. So from my personal perspective, Steve Jobs’s huge wealth looks like a measure of the huge benefits he conferred on other people to get that wealth. People who become fabulously wealth in a free market have conferred substantial benefits on other people; their wealth is a measure of the good they’ve done.

    Now, if they become wealthy by committing actual crimes against other people, or by having the government do so on their behalf, or by having the legal system tilted in their favor or potential competitors shut out of their captive markets, that’s objectionable. But it’s not the wealth I object to; it’s the crimes and corruption.

    A columnist named Lant Pritchett, over at Bloomberg, sums it up neatly in a comment on Pope Francis’s views on economics: “Poverty matters; injustice matters. Mere inequality is beside the point.” (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-12-15/why-is-pope-francis-promoting-sin-.html)

  13. Large proportions of people, and almost all of the “Left/Progressive”, are motivated by hatred of others.

  14. I liked the thought when I was younger that I there were ladders and people were on the top and bottom rungs. Today, I just wish I could have climbed to the top of at least one ladder. ;-) But less about other people succeeding and more about what I finished– Plus I do know about drudgery–

  15. I think it boils down, in large part, to the whole “entitlement” mentality. We’ve done away with awards and trophies and told kids “you’re all winners” (dragging everyone down to the same level and leading to an expectation that, in the real world, everyone will be treated equally despite poor performance). We’ve gone into debt just to buy the latest iDevice just to replace our “ancient” two-year-old product, which would still work perfectly fine if the software/app developers wouldn’t make their products to work only on the latest/greatest software/hardware combos (I work in IT…I see this all the time, and am, in fact, typing this on a computer that’s probably pushing 9 or 10 years old, and rocking WindowsXP). We are inundated with commercials and sitcoms and “reality” shows that tell us we’re backwards, stupid, inbred, oblivious if we don’t buy ______ which is endorsed by (paid) actor/sports persona ______. And the .gov stepped in and told people “oh, its okay, you just sit back and watch daytime TV and collect EBT cards and other assistance programs, buy your kids steaks and get cash from those green stamps to purchase the cigarettes/alcohol that you’re not allowed to buy with green stamps in the first place, because you’re of a certain pigmentation/ethnic background and all the hard-working middle class white folk should feel guilty about something that happened looooong before any of them were ever born and we’ll just tax the living crap out of them to enable your entitlements…and your kids will grow up the exact same as you because most of them will not be taught work ethics or a sense of personal pride in their own accomplishments.”

    Sorry. Rant over. I’ll just say that my family is not well-off by any measure used in the USofA, but we make ends meet every month and have food on the table, and will be out of most of our debt in 2014 (barring any more medical issues). How? Not by having a six-figure income, believe me. We did it by sacrificing (no cable in our house, cheap internet, eating at home, movies from RedBox or Netflix).

    • OT: Please please upgrade from XP. Or at least don’t do any banking, filing of taxes etc. on it. XP can be PWNed in seconds no matter what AV/browser/… you use because there are holes in it that Microsoft cannot fix (not will not or doesn’t want to but cannot without disabling almost all networking) that are actively exploited.

      Any XP machine will run a flavor of Ubuntu just fine and you’ll be a lot more secure and ubuntu (and derivatives) are free to download.

      • This. And you’ll get better performance on the same hardware from a lightweight distro like Lubuntu.

        • I don’t do any banking on this machine. My wife pays bills on a Win8 laptop.

          I’ve got a virtual machine with Ubuntu that I’ve been playing with, I’m just too lazy to switch over full-time.

  16. I’m actually glad I’m not rich, because I don’t ever want my kids growing up in the empathy hole that so many rich kids do. Though if I ever did by some miracle win the lottery, I’d do what I could to mitigate the effects—mostly by doing a few projects like building a live theater and a farm-play area (because kids who play outdoors get so many benefits!) (Yes, I spend imaginary lottery money, because it’s fun.)

    Anyway. Envy is one of those emotions I don’t get, or maybe it’s because I stomped on it so hard when I was growing up. (I didn’t want to be that person, so I trained myself to not resent people who get good fortune. And no, that doesn’t stop me from being thoroughly annoyed at cronyism.) It’s a waste of time, in my opinion.

    • I love imaginary lottery money! I’ve had so much fun imagining all the stuff I’d get (and all the back-handed revenge I could get) that I have no room/desire/interest for IRL. It’s like a Santa list, but with a whole lot more zeros on the price tags.

      • I keep using imaginary lottery money to plan the things I’m going to create in order to make even more money.

        • The sad thing is that other than extravagant huns get-togethers, which I only dream about when the pot is over 400 million, what I’d use the money for is getting someone to clean, cook and repair around here, and someone to spellcheck, and make me tea, so I could spend the whole day writing. I’m a sad creature.

          • I don’t find it sad to wish you could be enabled to do what you’re passionate about instead of what we have to do to survive.

            After winning the lottery, I’m sure I would hire someone to grade for me, so I’d have time to get that education research Ph.D., just to have credibility when I tell the school board “This doesn’t work. Try that instead”.

            No, really. The education field desperately needs more people who aren’t postmodernist nutjobs.

            • “No, really. The education field desperately needs more people who aren’t postmodernist nutjobs.”

              This. If you can’t, go private education/distance learning/homeschooling stuff, so you can decide for *yourself* what works, and let other people’s kids get the benefit of your knowledge and experience. The public school system is rife with postmodernist nutjobs needing a swift kick in the fundamentals from the real world the rest of us live in.

          • That’s not sad. That’s practical.

          • I don’t think so. You’d use it to do what you crave more time to do, I’d use it to do what I crave enough money and time to accomplish.

      • When I do — occasionally — buy a lottery ticket, what I’m actually buying is the ability to daydream. It’s best to get it three days in advance, because it’s that much dreaming.
        JUST FYI if I win megamillions, we’re renting out the Natural History Museum of a Hun New Year’s party — roundtrip flights and accommodations provided. (What? I dream BIG.)

        • In Denver?

        • Woohoo! I just turned in two mega millions tickets for two $1 wins! I’m rich!

          Wait a minute… That’s not the jackpot.

          All right, though, if *I* win, I’ll do the same thing. Sound good?

        • I suspect that it would actually be better to win the second prize because it’s much easier to realize that it’s a nice bit of money that could help but can’t keep you out of money issues forever.

        • “When I do — occasionally — buy a lottery ticket, what I’m actually buying is the ability to daydream.”

          Yep. A couple of bucks on lottery tickets is cheaper than a movie and planning the dispensation of all the loot can entertain me for longer.

          • But it’s possible to do that without buying the ticket too. All of us who write can dream we manage to write the next Harry Potter, or 50 Shades of something (okay, not me, not that), or Da Vinci Code or whatever. You’ll never know what might hit the soft spot of the readers next year, or any of the years after that. Might be anything. And if you are lucky it might be one of yours. You might not even need to be all that good, or traditionally published. There have been plenty of big bestsellers which have not been all that well written, and some of the indies are starting to make respectable money now. :)

            • And an added benefit with the new system: since we can now keep our books available for years, one of these days that next big hit might even be something you wrote years ago.

              You’ll never know.

        • When it comes to lotteries, I have a rather odd dream: whenever a jackpot gets particularly big, I wish I had enough money to buy every single ticket, so I would be guaranteed to win it. This dream comes from reading about a mathematician who did just that, as described in a fun book called “Here’s Looking at Euclid”.

          I probably wouldn’t do it, though, for two reasons: first, I consider the lottery immoral, and I don’t want to participate in that immorality (for various reasons I don’t want to go into for this comment), and second, if I had enough money to do that, I’d be completely debt-free, I’d own my own house, and I’d be living off of the interest of the investments so that I can do pure research (mathematics, mostly, but also writing, hobbyist machining, and figuring out how to get a small robot to the moon)–and I wouldn’t be caring any less about what’s happening to lotteries around me anyway.

          In any case, I’ve never let the absence of lottery tickets prevent me from daydreaming! ;-)

          (Incidentally, when I was in Vegas about a year ago for a business trip, and I had to walk through various casinos just to get to restaurants, my hotel room, and pretty much everywhere else, I /really wanted to carry a sign that said “Gambling is a Sin Against God, and Against the Law of Averages”. If I were still working for that same company, attending that conference, I would have done it, this year, too!)

    • Cronyism is not good fortune. It is criminality. Perfectly legitimate to resent that. :)

    • I never fantasize about lottery money. When I want to imagine being rich, I imagine a fortune equal to the US national debt. It’s amazing how much more my fantasy life can afford lately. . . .

  17. On that “winning the lottery” thing? I believe I have previously mentioned my view that requiring a person to buy a ticket in order to win the lottery is an unfair and unreasonable and unjustifiable restriction. Here’s why: the government gives tax cuts to people who don’t pay taxes, right? So the same principle mandates that the population of lottery winners not be limited to the population of ticket purchasers. There can be no question that I would buy a ticket if I knew it would win, therefore I cannot justly be excluded from my chance of winning.

  18. I think if I were an Argentine of Eva Peron’s generation (or in fact many other generations) I might hate the rich there and want to destroy them. In much the same way as I’d hate the kleptocrats in any country, from Algeria to Zimbabwe, if were growing up poor and desperate and saw these people lording it over me. If the only way to get stuff I needed was via companies that belonged to the President and his cronies and where the good stuff was unaffordable, or if I always had to pay a bribe to get anything done, or if the only times the legal system affected me was to screw me over then I might well hate those who prospered under such a regime.

    The difference in the Anglosphere, Japan and Northern Europe is that for the most part our rich people haven’t got that way through the abuse of government monopolies or the expropriation of someone else’s successful business. Moreover the law is not, generally, E&OE etc., different for the rich vs the poor – if a rich man tries to take my property or fails to live up to a contract I can sue him and generally expect to win if the facts are on my side.

    You can argue that we are gradually losing that difference and I’m not sure I would disagree with you, though I suspect the past has never been as good as rosy tinted spectacles suggest. But whether we are worse off or not, we need to fight to maintain those differences.

  19. I had this great conversation with one of my leftist friends (good guy, just misguided) one day about how evil corporations were and how terrible people who had lots of money were and how everyone should be given whatever they need and all rich people are just evil because, you know, someone else should have that money, it’s not like they earned it. (Yes, he’s a friend. He means well, but he’s basically the definition of a Useful Idiot even if I do like him.) Any human being who would lower themselves to making a profit was a piece of dirt.

    The part that cracked me up was that he was sitting there, in his Polo shirt, with Calvin Klein jeans and Nike shoes talking on an IPhone. He also makes twice what I do (he picked the right degree, I didn’t, he’s earned it) at a company that writes/sells software. That makes a profit selling such software. When I pointed out the hypocrisy of his position, he was unable to see what I was talking about. It wasn’t about him anyway, it was about THEM. Those EVIL CAPITALISTS. He denied benefitting from the system as well.

    I don’t get it. How do people not see the obvious truth in front of their faces? It makes no sense to me. Then again, I guess I’m just ready, willing and able to freaking think for myself. When did that become something that so few people were willing to do?

    • it’s been that way for a long time, but it’s only in the modern era of mass media manipulation that it became so readily apparent.

      What makes me shake my head is that, when you try pointing out the things you just mentioned, many of them will accuse you of being the one who can’t or won’t think for himself.

    • BMW Socialists. Come the Revolution, there will be a car in every garage and a chicken in every pot. But BMW’s only in their driveway.

      • No no. Come the revolution we will all drive Rolls Royces

        “But I don’t want to drive a Rolls Royce, I like my BMW M5″

        “Come the revolution you’ll do as you’re damn well told”

    • When people such as your friend call me intolerant I find I must agree with them, because I find I can no longer tolerate such idiocy.

  20. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HRB2dGI1vRM — from 1:26.

    Oh, and on the Car Front: http:www.enterprisecarsales.com .

  21. The progressive obsession with equality isn’t just fiscal, it is also social. There are certain behaviors which are more dangerous and which as a society we try to avoid, and there are certain behaviors that we try to encourage. To tie it back to the sex thread, to the equality-obsessed this is unacceptable because how dare we make little Suzie feel bad about sleeping with half of New York City. How dare we criticize the athlete who fathers three children with three different women? They should be considered the moral equivalents of the couple down the street who married, raised a family, and stayed faithful to one another.

    The obsession for “equality” eventually runs into the reality that humans are different from each other and that the world values certain skills over others. The result is to declare the existance of structural inequality and demand that the basic institutions upon which western civilization and human freedom are founded be smashed.

    • “How dare we criticize the athlete who fathers three children with three different women?”

      You realize this actually places this fellow on the responsible end of the scale, as those things go?

      • Heck no. As we all know, the irresponsible thing to do is to marry one woman and have all your children by her.

  22. The Western Intellectuals, as a class (there are honorable exceptions) are ‘levelers’ because they are uneasily aware that they are, for the most part, socially useless. Before the spread of literacy and cheap books, the intellectuals severed as the gate-keepers of social memory. Now they don’t so much; they no longer control the choke points. Any plebe with an enthusiasm is likely to know more about his subject than a run of the mill PhD, and to be better at explaining it. The Arts committed suicide by turning deliberately obscure so that the “Arty” could feel superior, and now the general population just doesn’t give a damn. And the Western Intellectuals by and large failed to jump on the technical literacy bandwagon, so the engines of social change are passing them by.

    They know that they have made themselves ostentatiously useless. They resent that people who actually do and make things are more valued. And so they want to drag everybody down into “Socialism”, which system has always PROMISED the Intellectuals that they will run things.

    Of course, historically Socialism has been run by thugs, bare knuckle brawlers, and psychotics. And the first group up against the wall have been the intellectuals. But the intellectuals can’t face that, or the task of remaking themselves as something worthwhile.

  23. I don’t care that much that other people have more money than I. It does pain me a bit that other people who work harder than me have less. I understand the reasons but it still troubles me.

    What bothers me a lot more is people who get more recognition for their talents than I get for mine. I have never been terribly good at blowing my own horn, at least effectively, yet that’s pretty much a good working description of the annual performance review process where I work.

  24. It took me more than a few years to realize that, by and large, rich people are not that much happier that I am, although they do get to play with a lot more toys. You can only sleep in one bed at a time, nothing tastes better than food you cook for someone you love, or who loves you, and a passable bottle of scotch will get you just as blitzed the finest champagne.

    All that being said, I fully intend to follow Sarah’s action plan, go out to buy tickets, and win the new year’s lottery. And you know something else? Just buying the tickets are worth it for the dreaming entertainment value.

  25. Amen! I might know some rich people, but the ones I may know never mostly put on a show of being rich, which I find obnoxious. Not because I’m jealous of them, but it’s sort of like flaunting athletic ability. One doesn’t need to be particularly intelligent to obtain a lot of money, can we all say Ted Turner, or be an athlete. To do other things well a person needs intelligence and skill. Writing, mathematics, building things (as in old fashioned carpenters, cabinet makers, machinists, and the like) are among those things.

    I’d rather live with my wife and dog and be happy and know love than with piles of money and people marveling at how rich I am. I’m rich, but not in money.

  26. Would that book have been “Eva, Evita”? I ask because I have that book sitting around here unread (also from a free book bin ;) )

    • I have no IDEA bearcat, it’s been a long time, and that entire year I was less than compus mentis — between post partum depression and still being somewhat physically ill.

  27. I have no problem being middle class. I try to help the poor when I can, and I don’t envy the rich. I suppose it’s because I want to be rich one day. A girl can dream.