If You Don’t Work, You Die

I was reading a Nero Wolfe book the other day and there is a man we’re obviously supposed to dislike going on about how it’s stupid to try to feed all the hungry in the world.  It puzzled me how this could be even disputed, much less a bad opinion.  Given the different kleptocratic kakistocracies around the world, trying to feed all the poor is in fact to support dictators and evil men. Trying to feed individual, targeted poor is different, but then you can’t feed “all the poor in the world.”  Of course, this was a time when the power of governmental organization and “scientific governance” were considered forces for good. (This man is also referred to as a Nazi, even though he’s clearly against all forms of socialism, national and otherwise.  Never mind, Rex Stout is dead and his time is not our time. Perhaps he was referring to someone who actually existed and there was stuff about this man I can’t now know.)

My grandmother, who was normally very shrewd had a blind spot a mile wide.  When I was little, we got door-to-door beggars.  (One would like to believe that was stopped by greater prosperity and better programs to help the poor.  One would also like to believe that pigs can fly.  Actually downtown in the city has as many beggars as ever, but the crime rate is so much higher that anyone begging door to door is likely to starve.  People don’t open the door to strangers, anymore.)  Grandma had real trouble not giving to beggars.  Mind you, she rarely gave them money (she rarely had cash money on hand, other than needed to run the house.)  But she’d give them sandwiches, eggs, bread, lengths of fabric.

This drove my mother nuts.  I even understand why, since at the time in Portugal there was an (unofficial) beggars guild and families of hereditary beggars, many of whom mutilated their own children to make them deformed/blind so they could beg.

When we all lived in the same house, more or less (well, mom and dad’s home was a shotgun apartment built out of what used to warehouses along the east side of the house) mom would follow my grandmother to the door when the bell rang “to act as her spine” if the pitch was obviously stupid/false.  Though it will tell you the sort of household I grew up in when you consider that both women agreed you should too give a generous amount to the guy who told the most ingenious, if obviously false story – and also to the guy who could not lie and therefore begged with “Please give me something, for neither my mother nor my father are blind.”  Mom and grandma spent the morning giggling and dissecting his pitch.  “Maybe he means since his parents aren’t blind they see how ugly he is and have cast him out.”  And then people think I’m strange…

Sometime a few days ago, I was reading a book about dinosaurs and it referred to how a dinosaur “probably earned his living.”

Yes, there is a point to all of this.

The other day in this blog, a commenter asked me about the Gods of The Copybook Headings by Rudyard Kipling.

These are supposed to be the lessons of the fables in copybooks, and you write them at the top of the copy, in your fairest hand, to show you got it.  (I will note I was raised on Aesop’s fables.)

And they are – yes, all of them – true even those I wish weren’t.  Anyway, the Copybook headings are a great way of getting a spine when faced with reasonable begging pitches.

How reasonable?  Well, pitches about feeding all the hungry in the world.  Who wouldn’t want to do that.  As someone who did have times of hunger now and then (which is not the same as times of appetite) I very much would like it if it were possible for us to feed, clothe, house everyone in the world – if that were the base level to work from. It’s not possible.  It will never be possible no matter how much our science advances.  The flaw is not in our science but in ourselves.

Someone at the panel on transhumanism spoke out against extending life because “we already don’t have enough food to feed everyone.”  I couldn’t beat that one down, of course, because it went into politics and policy, into the governments people choose, into how redistribution is always redistribution of famine.  I couldn’t go into it because it had nothing to do with technology of life extension.  It had to do with Old Adam.  Or perhaps Old Cain.

There is no such a thing as a lack of food in the world.  And when there is in a particular region, at a particular time, it is usually the result of a truly craptastic government.  Anyone who looks at the two Koreas can’t but conclude that the fault is not with lack of food but with a government so constituted that it makes it impossible for people to “earn a living.”  (Anyone but our president, who, having been thoroughly indoctrinated in Marxism likely thinks that SK steals from NK.)  Anyone who knows the history of Rhodesia can’t but realize that Zimbabwe is poor because its government chooses not to let its people earn a living.

In fact, it is normally the governments who ignore the gods of the copybook headings and decide everyone must eat, whether they work or not, who bring that sort of ruin and famine to their people.

There is a reason for this.  It is fashionable in the US to talk about people who are on welfare and don’t work.  That is not precisely true.  Yes, there are people on welfare who neither have a regular job nor look for one.  But what might not be understood is that these people are working: they are navigating the labyrinthine bureaucracy and making sure they meet all the guidelines to keep the money flowing.  That is work.  It is just not productive work.  It is a work that is the result of perverse incentives.  These people have become convinced that’s the only thing they can do to survive – so they do it.  And the government functionaries who derive power from their “service” want as many of them as possible under their sway.  So they teach more people how to work at getting money for “free”.  And they put more barriers in the way of those ever wanting to leave that condition.

Then there is minimum income.  We do have the ability to give every adult a certain minimum income, I think.  Or at least we did before we ran the presses at melting speed.  Heinlein in his Fabian socialist days envisioned this as a way to get the economy going.  If every adult has some tiny income, enough to live on if you have three roommates and live on Ramen noodles – say 10k a year – then everything you make above that is in a way disposable.  Not only is there no need, but there is more disposable income to stimulate the economy.  (To understand the appeal of this to Heinlein you have to understand that his most frequent contention with his sister was that they only had a pillow between the two of them.  It’s poverty we now can’t begin to imagine.)  Also, one presumes, since breathing and over eighteen was the criteria, we might spend less on that that on our current welfare system.

And maybe it would be.  Except we hit up on the snag of human nature.  A wise man said “The poor, you shall always have” and He seems likely to be right.  First of all, poverty is relative.  When that man walked in Galilee being poor was usually a fatal condition.  You simply didn’t make enough to eat, or to keep off the cold.  You might not be able to reproduce because you couldn’t support children.  It was a condition of terminal failure.  Unless you somehow clawed up, you’d die of it.

Nowadays, our poor are likely to live in air conditioned houses.  They often – if they’re on assistance particularly – have more children than the very wealthy, and the children have toys and clothes.

Nothing wrong with that, but they’re still considered “poor” – they’re poor in relation to people like me, who are not on assistance, and who live in larger houses and own more stuff and/or who can buy a book just because.  Just like I’m poor in relation to those people who can afford to take European vacations or even who own a mountain cabin to hole up and write in.  (Okay, most people don’t write in mountain cabins.  I don’t know why not.)

The point is that humans are not angels.  This is both good and bad. We’re built on a frame of the great apes, and the great apes are social creatures.  This means they’re also creatures of status.  What we consider poor is a matter of relative status, which means it keeps changing.  If our government doesn’t succeed in Zimbabweing us and we end up in a future where houses clean themselves, where you can have anything you can dream up and order t-d printed, there will still be the “poor”.  They might be those who lack the imagination to have their… replicator create really nifty things, but they’ll still be poor.  They’ll lack status.

The good and bad of the status seeking in humans is envy.  Good?  How can envy be good?  Envy is good when it makes you want what the others have, and instead of this leading to you organizing the community to steal it from them or – alternately – leading a communist revolution, it makes you work harder to “get there”.  Many an Horatio Alger worked so hard they forgot what they were working for and when they got there they couldn’t enjoy it.  BUT many more made it and enjoyed it, and all of them contributed to the wealth of society in general and building that.

There are, however, a group of humans with very low status envy.  Possibly a very large group.  In the seventies, Denver experimented with a minimum guaranteed income scheme.  So did other places.  The results were always the same.  No matter how low you set that income – even if it’s at a level like 10k where you really have to make a crazy effort to survive on it – the majority of people will live on it and stop trying to work or find work.

This might be an evolutionary trait.  The idiot hunter who went off and felled mammoth after mammoth was not only wasting food because his tribe of fifteen could barely eat a mammoth before it spoiled, much less ten – he was also depleting the mammoth herd and ensuring future starvation for his people.

So, the survival trait we inherit is “get enough to live on with minimal work, and don’t strive for more.”

Some of us are broken.  We were given both envy and high principles.  We can’t even contemplate bringing others down to level things, but instead we work madly to increase our status.  (No, it’s not how I think about it, but it’s probably what’s going on in the back of the monkey brain.)  Most of humanity however is functional.  Give them enough to eat, and a place to live, and no matter how unvaried the diet and how small/terrible the place, most people will stay put.

“But Sarah,” you say “Where are the gods of the copybook headings?  Even you say that it’s possible, if we arranged it that way, to feed most people so they don’t need to work.  Why shouldn’t we?”

We shouldn’t because the gods of the copybook headings in fire and terror return.

Government produces nothing.  It doesn’t build that. It doesn’t build anything.  It can’t.  Government is force.  It can, on threat of that force, seize enough of what someone produced to give to someone else.  Even when it “builds” roads or power plants, it does so with confiscated wealth and at the expense of what the owners might have done with that wealth.  (They wouldn’t have?  How do you know?  Remember status.  Throughout history humans have funded research – often in useless stuff – and paid for innovation.  How do you know left to its own devices private capital wouldn’t have created neighbordhood-sized nuclear plants?  Or who knows what?  The one thing we know is that nothing done by government has ever come in on time or under budget.)

When governments start thinking in terms of “feeding the hungry” which in our day becomes “giving things to the continuously redefined poor” what it is actually doing is reducing the number of people working in the productive sector.  Between the bureaucrats working to redistribute wealth and the people working to keep getting the handouts, a huge contingent of people is removed from the productive sector.

When that number reaches the point where the productive sector can’t keep up, a crash ensues.  An Earth-shaking Kaboom, you might say. The “you” in the poem is collective in this case.  “You” individual might survive for a time, without working, given a very wealthy society.  But no society can remain wealthy when it doesn’t “work” – ie. When it produces nothing.  And eventually the gods of the copybook headings, in fire and terror return.

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “If you don’t work you die.”

UPDATE: Welcome Instapundit Readers, and thank you Glenn Reynolds for the link!

656 thoughts on “If You Don’t Work, You Die

  1. ah yes. the poor in the good old USA … their biggest health issue is obesity (they eat too much) and a trip through their neighborhood shows better cars than many in the middle classes can afford (or a cheap car with pricier wheels than the worth of my four wheeled conveyance) and most now have sattelite tv, cable, a big screen and a smart phone. (even many homeless have a cell now-a-days).

    1. There’s a guy in Portland that got video of a beggar that takes credit cards on his smart phone. (He’s promised to send it in to the Lars Larson show, not sure if they’ve got it up yet.)

        1. I prefer David Boze in the morning, but Lars has a nice voice, and isn’t as bad as the Portland “Oh I’m as pure as the driven snow, no ideology, I’m just rational” idiot.

          What that guy should say is “I don’t have a rational philosophy, I just react to situations I’m offered and frame them to suit my reactions.”

          1. Lars is a very gracious man. At least he was very gracious to me when he had no reason to be, and was severely jet-lagged at a rubber-chicken fundraiser. This is not to say that I agree with him most of the time.

            1. We think alike, even when I don’t agree with him I can follow his reasoning easily. I have no doubt however that he is more gracious than myself. 😉

        2. Oh, and a plug of opportunity: if you like Lars, you may also like “The Dark, Secret Place” by Bryan Suits (an aspiring author of werewolves in the military from a new perspective) on KVI; podcasts available “on demand” at the link, and he’s thinking of doing a normal non-radio podcast.

    2. A leased automobile would not count as an asset for wealth assessment purposes. The debt obligation probably qualifies as a liability, making it a win-win situation for the poverty client.

      1. many are used cars bought from a Tote the Note place that makes usurious rates of interest.

        1. I wonder if there have been actual studies on the rate of return versus inherent risk for the payday- and other storefront-loan places. The risk of non-payment must be incredible, since the clientele are people with little money sense, have wretched credit histories, have bankruptcies and are borrowing specifically because they aren’t earning enough money.
          The clients that make good subsidize the clients who implode, skip or have other problems.

          1. Not necessarily. If the downpayment-plus-interest is high enough, every buyer who defaults is a source of profit: you have what he’s paid to date plus you have the car back to resell. Since most of the cars are older and already past their point of steepest depreciation, your biggest expense is the fees for the repo man and the detailer.
            I’ve actually had the experience of trying to buy a car from one of these guys for straight cash, 100% of the price on the barrelhead… and being turned down because I wasn’t going to be paying 12%+ interest for half a year and then defaulting on the note.
            I can draw a parallel to the subprime mortgage issue, which didn’t really get rolling until the homestead exemption for bankruptcy was eliminated. Before, the banks resisted loaning to a risky buyer because if he defaulted and went broke they could be on the hook for his home; after, they got the home plus however many payments the borrower had made to date. Bad debt had been turned into an asset, and handing out oversized mortgages to customers who the lender knew had no way on earth of making payments long-term had become smart business practice.

            1. Not always, depends on the state and business model. I thought those Title Loan places would be a great business because of what you said. Until I was talking to some of them when I stopped to look at a couple of repo’d rigs they had on bid. Turns out that when they get a car back because the owner can’t pay the payments on the loan they put it up for bid, as I suspected they lose money on many of these, but instead of being able to make it up on the ones that they actually auction for more than is owed, like I thought they would, they have to pay the owner the difference between what they get out of the car and what is owed on it.

  2. “So, the survival trait we inherit is “get enough to live on with minimal work, and don’t strive for more.”

    Maybe so but I don’t think it quite precisely so. I think the formulation is just a tad limited. Rather I suggest that when we have “enough to live on with minimal work” and only that much we go risk averse.

    That means we don’t gamble massive effort (that would leave us with not quite enough to live on if we fail) on hitting it big. This behavior has been observed in northern hunters who live hard. On the one hand the hunter is slow to gamble on a hunt. On the other hand the hunter once invested in the hunt the commitment means the hunter will stay on the trail until the gamble pays off or resources go below survival.

    Compare with the revolution of rising expectations which often follows having or expecting to have more than just enough to live on.

    The idiot hunter with many many mammoths is following Veblen into conspicuous consumption and I do believe such behavior is commonly observed. See also People of the Caribou or go look at a buffalo jump or consider theories of extinction in stone age North America.

    1. Was trying to factor the well observed phenomenon of subsistence level poor spending far too much of their limited resources on lottery tickets, and after giving it a bit of thought realized it does fit fairly well. Gambling, like the addictions to drugs and alcohol, cause people to make bad choices. And then too we see the train wreck for those who do manage to beat the odds and win a substantial amount. Almost inevitably such winners fall into the trap of equating “now I can afford anything I want” into “now I can afford everything I want” followed quickly by financial ruin and a return to their former state.

      1. “Gambling…cause people to make bad choices.”

        I’d argue that you have cause and effect switched here. Poor choices, including gambling with money you can barely afford, making the choice to buy drugs and alcohol when you know you have an addictive personality, cause poverty. It’s not the only cause of poverty, G-d knows, but continually making poor choices is an excellent way to stay in poverty.

        I know alcoholics who refuse to touch a drop. I know former addicts who shake a little, but turn down even free offers from old acquaintances. I know people who were poor and made stupid choices when they were young, and now are making smarter choices and are comfortably middle class. I once was trying to feed 8 people on $100/mo, and even when money meant more, it wasn’t enough. I had to clean out my fridge and toss some mouldering yoghurt and cauliflower yesterday, because I now can and do buy so much food I don’t get to it in time to eat it.

        1. I COULD be an alcoholic. Which is why I limit my drink to parties, cons, and when I need it to get through a rough spot. I don’t crawl into the bottle for longer than a week, then I crawl back out.
          Also, I channel my obsessive personality to writing. When people ask “How can you write so much?” I always want to say “I have the obsessive/addictive inclinations that would make me ABUSE something. Just be glad it’s work. It could be bath salts.”

          1. I swear, the more I read your blog, the more I’m convinced you’re me. And it’s the alcohol that scares me the most, especially remembering when I did drink daily.

              1. What’s a hun dinner, and is it permissible to bring children?

                    1. You.Are.A.Bad.Man. I’d threaten to remember this to tell your first born, but what’s the use? You’ll probably tell him/her yourself as soon as he/she is old enough to understand.
                      Bad man. BAAAAAAAAAAD.

                    2. In Wisconsin we know how to deal with brats; we cook them. You will see signs all around the state advertising “brat fry”

                    3. I find that keeping them in a large barrel of corn meal for a week to clean out their digestive tract works well (I borrowed this from preparation methods for escargot).

                    4. It is recommended that you keep possums in a cage and feed them fresh fruits and vegetables for a couple weeks before butchering. I imagine this would also work.

                      Personally after having seen possums in their natural habitat/food I can’t think of many things I wouldn’t prefer to eat over possum. I worked on a dairy farm as a teen, find a dead cow that had been dead for a week or two and take a stick and beat on its ribcage, a half a dozen possums would come running out. They would eat a hole into the body cavity, and then live there, eating their way out.

                1. why, it’s a meeting of the minds of Hoyt’s Huns and Hoydens. Probably, in a nod to her shifter series, at a diner.

                2. Well, a hun dinner would be a dinner of reprobates who comment on this blog. I no longer have children, since younger is 18, but since we took them everywhere when they were younger, I can’t forbid other people from doing so.

                  1. My oldest is 23, and has basically been running her own life since she was 16 (her maternal grandmother was the one that raised her and basically was not coherent enough to *really* organize her life).

                    But she’s still my child and always will be.

          2. Yes. I went through a very very bad terrible no-good horrible patch a couple of years back … major life crisis stuff … and I had a margarita one evening … it made me feel soooo relaxed and less depressed … luckily, I had a meta-awareness thing/epiphany about just how frighteningly seductive it was and if I didn’t clamp right down on myself, I could easily slide into alcoholic oblivion … so, yeah, I hear you. Good thing is, being aware of it makes one able to “stay safe.”

          3. I have those obsessive/addictive inclinations also, I just channel them into things I like doing and that I don’t deem harmful. When I find something I like, I tend to, as my Dad always says, go at it like I’m killing snakes. (why anyone would obsessively/addictively kill snakes I’m not sure).
            I will occasionally have a drink (a couple a year) but limit it because I know very well from my late teens that I can slide easily into the fifth or case of beer a day mode. On the plus side I’m not easily physically addicted to substances, while I tried virtually everything when I was younger, the only thing I had any physical withdraw symptoms from, and they were so slight I didn’t notice them but my coworker did, was tobacco.

            1. why anyone would obsessively/addictively kill snakes I’m not sure

              Guessing you never had a hatch in your back yard….

                1. Cowards are afraid of unreal threats. Heat is a real danger. Especially where I am, where it’s the heat and the humidity.

                  1. If you live in a hot place, exercise indoors is a good option. Walking in an air-conditioned enclosed mall is a a safe way to exercise.

                    1. @Foxfier –

                      My Tyranid husband wants to know if you are an Imperial…..

                      Filthy xenos! I shall purge you with holy promethium! FOR THE EMPEROR!

                      Seriously now, describing someone who’s fine with tropical conditions as a Tyranid brought a big grin to my face. Thanks! Games Workshop has some pretty awesome settings. I just wish their business practices weren’t so abusive as to make me swear off buying anything from them, EVER. Though I’ll probably make an exception for the Ciaphas Cain (HERO OF THE IMPERIUM!) novels. (If you haven’t read them, track one down ASAP. They’re fantastic.) But while I’d love to get into WH40K, it’s not just my limited budget that’s holding me back, it’s that I hate the thought of giving GW any of my money, given how sh*ttily they treat their customers and/or fans.

                    2. I know the feeling. My brother and I have sunk a lot of time and thought into a DIY chapter of the Adeptus Astartes, an enormous amount of world-building and list-crafting (I’d love to tell you all about it, we came up with some great new angles, but this isn’t the place), but especially with the whole Amazon takedown notice episode a few months ago, I’m leaning toward liquidating all my GW stuff and taking up Privateer Press’s Warmachine or Hordes. We’ll see… I still love my chapter and want to see them in action.

                    3. He’s got an hour long spiel on what books are worth getting and which ones aren’t, but heaven help me if I can keep them straight– I read the Genevieve (sp? Vampire lady, my mind substitutes names I know for characters; Melody is the lady on Pern with the firelizards, Robinson is the Masterharper, Camorine is the princess that Deals with Dragons, etc.) novels, but since he found the space marine series he’s addicted to I haven’t been in a mental place where I want to read GrimDarkHumor worlds. (even if I do have an urge to go all Ork on our van– it’s red, so it’s faster!) We played the video game for a while, too.

                      I agree with you about their buisness practices, but he’s rather solidly in the actual point of the original “power corrupts” quote….

                    4. Here’s a quote rough paraphrase of a quote from the first Ciaphas Cain novel, to give you the flavor. It’s from memory and I don’t remember the names (or ranks), so Smith and Jones it is:

                      “Commissioner Smith called the meeting to order. Then she called the meeting to order again. Sergeant Jones drew his bolter and fired one round into the ceiling. The meeting came to order.”

                      I don’t know how Sandy Mitchell managed to make such a Grimdark setting into such a vehicle for humor, but he pulled it off. The books are hilarious, and loads of fun. Highly recommended.

                      In fact, I should check if they’re on the Hoyt’s Huns book recommendations page yet…

                    5. @Free-range Oyster –

                      (I’d love to tell you all about it, we came up with some great new angles, but this isn’t the place)

                      I’d be interested to hear about it. I believe you have my email address from when I asked for a copy of the USAian alphabet. If you can’t find it, my gmail address is pretty easy to guess. (Put a dot in between my first and last name.)

                    6. Okay, books 7, 8 and 9 of the Ciaphas Cain series have now been added to the Hoyt’s Huns bookshelf on Goodreads. (Books 1 through 6, or rather the omnibus editions thereof, were already there thanks to Mary Catelli.)

      2. Playing the numbers is a reasonable choice, not a bad one, for those caught in the House of Poverty. The payoff is large enough to matter, even if it is likely to be squandered. Increased work effort, skill development, better life choices are not likely to extract you from the dole; indeed, they can make matters much worse.

        Higher income can lose your subsidies for insurance and housing, causing net income to be not much more (and possibly less) than before. Because such individuals are ordinarily on the margins, “last hired, first laid off” policies make income insecure and can put the individual in the situation of constantly losing and regaining their qualification for benefits. Each series of reapplying for benefits entails opportunity costs and delays. Getting a job (minimum wage, probably part-time) consumes hours and constrains activities without commensurate benefit.

        Whereas winning the lotto constitutes enough of a quantum step up that it is worth trying, if only for the dream of winning. That too many people fail to distinguish between the winning value of a single ticket and a dozen tickets is the problem.

        That and the cynical exploitation by those establishing, managing and promoting such hare-brained schemes over the tortoise route of slow and steady.

        1. 1. Playing the numbers is a reasonable choice, not a bad one, for those caught in the House of Poverty. The payoff is large enough to matter, even if it is likely to be squandered…

          Put that way, it sounds reasonable.

          Now that I consider the matter, it sounds plausible that the “safety net” entangles.

          2. …Increased work effort, skill development, better life choices are not likely to extract you from the dole; indeed, they can make matters much worse.

          Maybe establishing yourself in the underground economy would give the needed boost (initially with or without the dole): not trafficking drugs or humans, but working away from the taxman and the regulator.

          3. Speaking of a government that traps people in its House of Poverty, I’ve seen “quantitative easing” described as a War on Savers, i.e. on self-reliant middle-class moderate earners who have been trying to prudently prepare for the future. Not too many Obama voters.of that description, IMHO.

          It’s not hard to visualize such processes creeping up the economic ladder.

          1. Playing the numbers has been analyzed any number of times as a rational savings scheme for some people despite a negative interest rate. The losses are small and bearable the winnings are big enough to matter – the analogy is to putting money in a piggybank but the piggybank money would never allowed to accumulate to as much as a winning number so……

          2. It’s not too hard to get the non-savers to “voting is the best revenge” from there. After all, those prudent savers likely stole their savings from someone less fortunate, and we should go after ’em.

      3. Likewise, hitting the “meritocracy” lottery of success in professional sports. Just watch ESPN’s excellent doc. “Broke” and see what happens to most of those athletes who worked hard to get out of the ghetto or the poor rural environment. Within 2 years or retirement 75% of NFL and 65% of NBA athletes are bankrupt or in serious financial difficulties. They get the money up front and blow it on buying “everything they ever wanted.” And then the money dries up instantly.

  3. Sarah, sorry to have to chide you so early on a weekend, but I feel compelled to point out a small faux pas on your part. Nowhere in your post or the link do I find proper attribution of “Gods of the Copybook Headings” to its author Rudyard Kipling. For some of us of course it’s common knowledge, but please never pass up the opportunity to turn someone new on to one of the true wisdoms of the past.
    As for the post itself, spot on. The poorest of the poor in this country have access to riches denied to 90 % of the rest of the world. And in this country they are freer than most to sit in their own dung and reject the opportunities offered them. As they say, you can lead an idiot to knowledge, but you can’t make them think.

      1. Not to worry. That’s what you have we loyal minions for after all. Have yourself a pot’o’tay and burn off the mists.

    1. I’m a fan of Kipling, and I don’t even like poetry. He was clearly very wise.

  4. My grandmother was a Pennsylvania Dutch pow wow woman. And one of the earliest things I remember of the many things she did to scare the snot out of me as a kid involved a begger. We lived in Cuyahoga Falls Ohio in my aunt and uncle’s house, and I was perhaps 7 or 8 so it was in the early 50s. We were sitting in the living room in the afternoon and she suddenly laid down her newspaper and said: “A man is coming.”
    Since the phone hadn’t rang and my aunt and mom were not home that was strange enough, but she proceeded to go in the kitchen and cook a hot meal or fried liver, creamed corn and fried potatoes.
    About a half hour later a bum came to the back door and asked if we had any work to be done in exchange for food.
    My grandma assured him we had no work but she’d give him a hot plate if he was hungry. He accepted and she had him eat it out on the back step.
    She told him if he wanted more to knock, or just leave the plate if he was happy. When we checked later he’d left the plate and gone, satisfied.
    She sent me out front to see if he’d left hobo chalk marks on the curb to mark us as a soft touch, but it was bare.
    I do not give money to giant charities that are basically unaccountable. I have never lacked for decent people who need money or food that I can help directly with firm knowledge it is appropriate. But I’ve had those I stopped helping, such as one young man I got several jobs, but he basically was too lazy to drag his butt out every morning and show up to work.

    1. Yes. This is the Christian ethic in action.

      I also avoid giant charities. In addition to that, I seek out charities that have a policy of not taking government funding. I figure that I’m already supporting the ones that depend on the government, and that’s at gunpoint so I’ll be danged if I’ll add to it. There are a lot of good organizations out there that stick to private funding.

      1. Oh, we help, both those charities we judge will do no harm, and friends/acquaintances/blog pals who fall on hard times BUT we do stop if we judge we’re harming someone (by encouraging someone to become dependent); if our help is taken for granted; if the person can’t seem to get up off the floor, period.

  5. 2 minor notes, One as Mad Mike says, our poor would be considered middle class anywhere else in the world. Two, mountain cabins do not ordinarily have the power for the computers

      1. I know plenty of mountain cabins with very limited solar/wind electrical power. Don’t run the battery dead, and the owner won’t mind. Now septic, that’s hard to come by. But electricity? The desire to have a light after dark has been with us since we started carefully feeding and tending our fire.

      2. Tsk. You just need to choose the right location, so that you have a stream to power your generator. Of course, satellite internet comes with its own troubles.

      3. How about a deserted beach house? Electricity AND wifi. I willing to share.

      4. Whenever I read Number of the Beast I greatly admire Gay Deceiver, but what I truly lust after is “Snug Harbor” the hidden retreat, internally powered, with a near zero detectable footprint. Now that’s a mountain cabin.

            1. Thanks. Now I’m going to have to go see if I can find sib’s old rubber dinosaurs.

      5. *hem.

        Put “refrigerator sized nuclear reactor” in your search engine of choice. Supposedly able to power 10,000 homes, so probably enough for a mountain cabin.

        I could make the argument that internet connectivity is over-rated, but this probably is not the venue (although it is a better venue than FB, eh?).

        1. All the stories I find about the fridge-sized reactor are from 2010. Did the company actually deliver on their promises, or was this another startup that failed due to unforeseen factors? (Said unforeseen factors could include the “nukes are evil, scary and gross” contingent of the population* being larger than anticipated, for example.)

          * You know: morons.

            1. Fully intended. I would have used more of the quote, but I couldn’t find a way to make it fit, since this particular species of idiot lives (mostly) in cities rather than on farms.

              1. The common clay of the new left…

                Who have, unfortunately, seriously infected the NRC. It’s no coincidence that we haven’t started any new plants since it was formed.

              2. “What did you expect? ‘Welcome, sonny’? You have to understand: These are simple farmers. These are people of the land — the common clay of the New West. You know… morons.”

                (Yes, I have this on DVD. Why do you ask? 🙂 )

      6. Photovoltaics, plus some thoughtful other means (stream? Small windmill? Solar water heater?) can go a long way toward getting a mountain cabin fully off-the-grid. Add a diesel generator & a big tank, and you’ve got some real possibilities.

        Satellite Internet is slow but ubiquitous, terrestrial (LTE) wireless is faster but not available everywhere.

        1. Yup, I just upgraded from satellite internet a few months ago, that was all that was available where I live (no phone or cable lines) when I got it. At the time it worked well, but as more people got put on the satellite speed and reliability would plummet. Also the upload/download limits were a real pain, I used to never go over them, but as websites got more sophisticated, and I began to use it more I would occasionally, and when I did they knock your usage speeds WAY down, plus put everyone else’s usage ahead of yours, so in effect the internet would only work for a few hours in the very early morning, or sometimes midday on workdays. And they company I went through ran on a thirty day rotation, so go over your usage limits and it was thirty days before they would up your usage back to normal. They put a wireless tower a couple miles away about a year ago and I switched to that, no limits, higher speed, and lower cost. Also much more reliable, and better customer service.

          1. Also much more reliable, and better customer service.

            Times sure have changed! I remember when terrestrial wireless companies (ie “the phone company”) had the worst service around…

            1. Actually this is FirstStep Internet, they don’t deal in phones; and are a local company so when you call you actually get to talk to someone who speaks English!

        1. What I want is a nice little pocket dimension supplied with brownies who are willing to look after the house and the garden — indeed insist on it, though they will let me cook — and where I can get stuff done.

          I could control the weather and not get this heat/humidity.

          1. I want a TARDIS. Plenty of room and it can go anywhere/anywhen. [Grin]

      7. Way off grid, you can generally get enough power via solar, wind, hydro and store excess in batteries for the dry spells when you’ve got none of that. Just because it’s an expensive way to power things doesn’t make it unavailable.

    1. Middle class? Many’s the African who would cheerfully commit mass murder for the riches our poor enjoy, starting with not losing his sons to cholera and malaria.

      Mountain cabins can have power for computers. There are a lot of solar and small-scale wind generators in cabins in Alaska; having a light after dark is a primal sign of civilization, and being able to chill or freeze food in summer and start the day with a pot of coffee before stoking the fire and heading outside for more firewood is far, far more awesome than on-grid people realize. Being able to charge the GPS and the satellite phone before heading out can keep you out of a world of trouble, and just because you’re five hundred miles from civilization doesn’t mean that you don’t want to watch a football game on your satellite dish and tv. (I know, there are lots of hippies in the lower 48 with weird ideas about living in the bush being a return to noble savagery. They generally don’t survive the reality that no garbage trucks means your yard become your “stack til you find another use or burn it” junk pile.)

      1. I’ve “test driven” a bicycle powered generator.

        Getting a 60 watt bulb lit was more work than you want to do when you’re trying to think.

        Your best bet for this–if you want it to work well–is going to be to have a couple power sources feeding into battery and running as much directly off DC power as possible (to avoid the loss when you go DC->AC->DC.

        Have some solar panels on the roof, a wind driven turbine, maybe a small scale hydro system if you’ve got unimpeded access to a stream and 2-300 feet of drop. Feed all of these into a half a dozen batteries and then feed 12 and 5 volts out from that.

        If I were a writer and wanted to go down this road I’d see if I could live writing on a 10 or 11 inch Android tablet with a bluetooth keyboard. You can out the tablet on an arm to get the right elevation, and it can’t be worse than writing on a 14 inch monitor back in 1994. Well, not by much.

        If that’s too small a screen, or you just can’t think w’out your favorite text editor/word processor then I’d work really hard on finding something that was as power efficient as possible, and then find someone to hack a DC->DC transformer for you that would step the 12 volts up to whatever the DC input on your computer took.

        According to this link: http://www.anandtech.com/show/6063/macbook-air-13inch-mid-2012-review/7 the Macbook Air (2012 model) draws 28.5 watts in their testing.

        This is low enough that you probably could spend an hour on the bicycle running full tilt to charge the laptop up a bit, then work for two to three hours, especially if you can send DC directly in (to avoid the loss as hinted at above).

        It’s certainly low enough that if you planned your mountain hideaway properly (doing stuff like buying RV/low voltage fittings etc. you could probably stand a reasonable chance of making it work.

        1. During an eight day power failure a couple years ago (North Alabama when a wall of tornadoes took out the trunk lines in to town) I kept laptop and radios charged with a 200 watt inverter off my truck’s battery. Ran the engine for 15 minutes several times a day to keep the charge up and used less than a quarter tank of fuel. Have since upgraded to a 1,500 watt inverter which will power the fridge and deep freeze, just not at the same time, but you only have to run them for a few minutes every several hours to keep things cold.
          Thinking a couple of deep discharge heavy duty batteries and a small solar array would accomplish the same thing without the need for fuel.
          This is all of course disaster contingency as opposed to a lifestyle adjustment.

          1. Yep, I have a 400 watt inverter in my truck, I use it for charging stuff whenever I am out (everything seems to use batteries anymore). I can leave stuff plugged into it overnight and never have a problem with running the truck batteries down. The inverter supposedly has a cutoff that will shut it off if the battery in the truck reaches a certain level of charge, so you won’t be stuck with a dead battery. I wouldn’t necessarily trust this, but in fifteen years of use I have never had it kick off, nor have I ever had any problems with the truck starting, so apparently the inverter doesn’t draw a tremendous amount of juice.

        2. In my experience, Bluetooth is the enemy of power consumption. If you can have wired, do that: radios are always on, draining.

  6. I was debating a socialist on twitter the other day (nice young woman, but utterly idiotic). She was arguing that as long as one had to “work for a boss” (or, as I’d phrase it, “trade labor for cash with another equal human being”), we can never be free.

    I argued that, in a sense, she’s right. The squirrel, the elephant, the raccoon – none of them are free. If they do not work to find food, they die. It’s like gravity – neither of these laws is created by the evil capitalists (who, socialists think, “work to create poverty”). The fact that we have to work to survive is part of the universe – it falls out of thermodynamics.

    This is, apparently, not a convincing argument…if you are a socialist.

    1. I have this argument often with a guy I blog with. He has a notion of what it takes to be a “good” employer, which is someone who provides all his workers’ needs, rather than transfer to the taxpayers his “obligation” to provide all his workers’ needs. I can’t get through to him at all. I much prefer your formulation of people who “trade labor for cash with another equal human being.” The point should be to find a trade that works for two people, both of whom respect the other’s freedom of choice enough not to use force. Otherwise employment is just a kinder, gentler version of the old master-slave arrangement, or a holdover of the parent-child arrangement that we ought to give up when we grow up.

      1. I agree utterly that an employer, not more than (but better than) the government should address “all a workers needs”. Again – the employer is not their life vest, both are getting value out of this. Also – as you alluded – if the employer provides all (think company towns, where the govt has de facto abandoned its role of providing justice and the company WAS the government, and the markets, and the supplier, and …) – the company can of course deny all. This can be true even if they don’t employ all but the other providers of services are dependent (Think the power board in Sarah’s Darkship books)

        That said – a good boss who’s not a total asshole SHOULD be someone you can come to and say “I’ve got a problem” – and should have some concern for the spiritual/emotional/mental life above and beyond work. There is more to life than money.

        On the gripping hand – the pursuit of happiness is an intensely personal thing, and if your boss wants to start dictating to you what you can and cannot do outside of work, or makes work so onerous that you can’t deal with larger responsibilities like health/survival/etc…. then renegotiate that contract in the direction of “I quit..”

        1. There’s no question in my mind that an employer who has human contact with his employees has the ordinary duties to them that all of us have to everyone we know: honesty at a minimum, and sometimes obligations of charity and kindness. Not to mention the fact that it’s only good business for people who work together to be alert to ways to help each other. (That goes both ways. The employee may need to help the employer.) But I think it’s the human connection, not the employer-employee relationship, that creates these duties. If the job isn’t working for both employer and employee, it shouldn’t continue. It’s not a womb.

          1. And even wombs kick the occupant out with a no-return policy after 9 months.

        2. What?

          Your boss qua boss should do nothing of the sort. He is there to make sure work stuff gets done. You are an adult. The rest of your life is your business and your responsibility.

          This is not to say that if you and your boss have that sort of relationship that you cannot talk to him about it, but it’s not talking to the boss, it’s talking to a buddy.

          Your “boss” owes you two things–organization and compensation for services rendered.

      2. Point to him the example of FoxConn, the infamous Chinese electronics manufacturer) that provides room and board in the same building as the factory. The anti-suicide nets around the upper stories is just an additional benefit.

        1. Trading Places or (IIRC) Gladiator at Law point out the perils of an employer providing all of your needs. Tick off the boss, fail to attend church, have one too many drinks … there are a thousand and one ways to lose not only your job but your home, your car, your social circle.

          Any non-financial benefits received are at the expense of money in your pay envelope, and at the option (by the choice) of your employer. If the company store negotiates an exclusive deal to carry Charmin and you prefer Cottenelle, you’re just SOL.

          1. I agree completely about the dangers of having your employer directly buy all your needs for daily life (which is one reason I think employer-provided health insurance is such a terrible idea), but the broader point is that it’s not your employer’s role in life to make sure you have enough cash to buy everything you need and want, either. It’s the worker’s job to figure out what his labor will bring, then live within that budget. The employer’s job is to be sure he can make money on whatever he’s producing even after he pays workers whatever it takes to keep them on the job. It’s a bad idea for either of them to get mixed up in the other’s calculations.

          2. RES: “Any non-financial benefits received are at the expense of money in your pay envelope, and at the option (by the choice) of your employer”

            I teach economics to seniors. You should see their jaws drop when I point out that Social Security is one giant Ponzi scheme that they will probably never see a dime of, BUT, more importantly it is government imposed limit on their take home pay. They seem to get the idea that they pay 6% from their paychecks, but then I point out that their boss also puts in 6% from his or her MONEY and that is less money that they can use to pay you for a good job or extra work! “So there you have it kiddies, not only will you probably never see a dime of that money, the government reduces your potential earnings by over 12%! Hee hee!”

              1. Oh its fun. I love popping holes in their little economic fallacies. Three years ago when I talked about fiscal policy and one of my little Obamabots was going on about how the stimulus bill was going to create economic growth, I walked over to him, pulled out a twenty dollar bill and said, “I have twenty dollars with which to buy goods and services.” I handed it to him. “You have twenty dollars with which to buy goods and services.”

                1. I find it interesting that WordPress decided both teachers from Texas on this site should be walking hearts with arms and legs.

          3. In the real world, FoMoCo worked exactly like that when Henry was alive. Employees lived in a company-built house in a company villiage, sent their kids to a company school with a Ford-approved teacher, and bought from a company store with company scrip instead of cash. There was even a Ford-run newspaper.
            The thing was, having ‘all their human needs’ provided for by their employer meant that the house looked like Henry wanted it to and was furnished in a style he approved of, your kids got taught what Henry wanted to teach ’em, the company that gave you your scrip set the prices (and could manipulate your choice at market by raising the prices on things the company disapproved of), and your house was open to a company inspection at any time- just to make sure you weren’t getting drunk or reading unapproved literature on company property. And since all of this was company purview, it could all be altered or taken away at any time.
            In other words, FoMoCo ran its little world much like most socialists want to run ours.
            I’d be glad to leave them to it, if they’d leave me out of it.

      3. So basically he regrets growing up and wishes his boss would be his daddy except for the telling him what to do with his free time?

        Or does he want is boss to do that too?

        1. No, oddly enough, he’s fiercely independent and responsible in his own life. He’s just confused about how “employers” should act toward other people. As far as I can tell, he’s never been an employer. He has been a fine commanding officer in the military, but that’s not the same as having to figure out where the money comes from.

          It’s all the more frustrating because he’s a good man and very smart.

          1. Well, there’s your answer. Your debate partner comes from a milieu where, when done right, the employer becomes the family. However, there are very few things in this world other than the military that should be run like the military.

    2. Well of course. There can be no total freedom in life, only in death.
      But that’s not what I suspect your socialist acquaintance meant. I’m fairly sure she was focused on some utopian vision where a benevolent government magically creates all the necessities of life and bestows them on its citizens with no strings attached. The fact that every attempt to create anything remotely similar has failed tragically and catastrophically just means that we didn’t try hard enough.

        1. I don’t have as fine-tuned a nose for political stuff as our esteemed hostess, but the first Iain M. Banks book I picked up (The Player of Games, on some strong recommendations) had enough of a smell of hippie-ism in The Culture that it put me off. Not enough to throw the book against the wall, but enough that when I had to put the book down partway through, I never mustered up the interest to pick it up again. I eventually returned it to the library still mostly unread, and haven’t tried another of his books since.

          1. I’ve read some of his books, I can’t remember the name of the series but it was mil-scifi and on an interesting premise. They should have been good books, but between the socialist blather and the greenie BS (global warming, humans are going to overpopulate and destroy the earth, etc.) I would get so mad it was an effort not to dent the wall with them.

          2. The only thing that makes those bits tolerable is that he’s built a universe where communism is feasible, largely through engineering (including genetic) and science.

            If you have the ability to turn almost nothing into energy and matter and can do it in a wide variety of forms, then ‘From each according to their abilities to each according to their needs’ becomes possible because you can treat anything that even basically looks like a reasonable desire as a need and not impoverish anyone.

                1. Communism would not be evil if human beings were genetically transformed into a hive culture (for example, see Brian Aldis’ Let’s Be Frank) so that there were no individuals.

                  Transforming humans into such creatures would be evil, of course. Which is what communism (in its ideal form) requires.

                  1. I submit that genetically transforming humans into a hive culture, destroying their individuality (pretty much by definition) would in and of itself be evil, thus refuting your conditional.

                    1. But we/us/all will be thankful after. Long live the collective.

                      p.s. every one that advocates the collective aproach always sees themselves in the ruling cast and never as the drone.

                    2. Once I got into an argument with someone. (No. Really. Okay, more than once, but this once in particular.) The premise was one of the things I didn’t like about the Lord or the Rings and the associated works was that it was basically “all downhill.” The world started as this great thing and each succeeding age was worse than the preceding one. I mentioned that the real world may have its ups and downs but the general trend through history has been upward.

                      You would think I had just suggested the sacrifice of their firstborn child.

                      I made the example of how things were so much better now than in Roman times–how all Caesar’s wealth could not have purchased him a single aspirin. To which the response was about opium as a painkiller. (Um. Okay.)

                      But then the kicker. The comment was “Life would have been just as good in Roman times. I mean I would have to get used to having slaves doing the work rather than machines, but…”

                      I didn’t bother from that point. I mean, what made that woman (and it was a woman) think that she would have been one of the slave owners rather than the slaves. And having machines to do the work rather than slaves is an improvement, a big one, over life then. I so submit and I will reject any claims otherwise.

                    3. Not European, I don’t think (tended to be on GEnie–the old online service run by General Electric, thus the non-standard capitalization–about the same times I was which was Eastern time in the US) but left-Liberal in many ways (as many in SFWA were even then). This was from a discussion in the SFRT (Science Fiction RoundTable) on GEnie.

                      Now, I understand the mythic underpinnings of “decline from old times” dating back to the Greeks with their Golden, Silver, and Iron ages (with “Heroic” sometimes sandwiched in between Silver and Iron). I just don’t particularly care for it in my entertainment reading.

                    4. *know

                      I learned this lesson from an argument/descution my dad had with my ex-stepmother. She was a Cali flower power libral out of the 60’s generation trying to tell my dad into how great Communism is. This was mid 80’s. My dad looked over at me at, after she had stormed off, and said, “She actually believes she would be at the top making th decisions. Hmmm…. how about that.”

                    5. P.s.s. Yes I no the workers do the work, but drone sounds more droll.


            1. Still don’t buy it. Not that either of us can collect, but I bet you cash money that EVEN UNDER THOSE CONDITIONS communism would create hell. It’s the devaluing of the individual and the thirst for power — it’s not the possessions, they’re just a way to express/push power. It’s the desire to make other people obey you. Actually throw gen engineering into that and SHUDDER. Hopefully (older son tells me it’s much more complicated than it looks) we’ll never be that good at it.

            2. So did he rip off Star Trek, or they him? Since the unlimited conversion of matter into energy and back again was the basis of the Federation.

              1. Even their communicators are apparently based on that. In the episode “A Piece of the Action.” McCoy says he thinks he left his communicator behind. The discussion is that the locals will dissect it, learn how the “transtator” works, and that this is the basis for every piece of equipment in the Federation. And what could the “transtator” be but conversion between matter and energy states?

                1. Transstators were a theoretical replacement for the transistor, at least according to later documents.

            3. You know this idea of creating stuff out of just about anything reminds me of the one major logical flaw in the world of “The Hunger Games.” (Mostly in the film version, but the books don’t make it clear either.

              It has to do with the creation of the “Muttations.” In the movie they seem to appear out of thin air in the arena, in the books its less clear but it mentions that they are made with the DNA of the dead tributes (Rue’s eyes).

              My point is this. If you have the ability to create living things out of thin air (movie) or in a reasonably short time, then you DON’T NEED TO ENSLAVE PEOPLE to dig coal. The problem of scarcity is solved. Everyone now gets enough to eat.

              This led to some great discussions with my economics students this year that touched on such things as man’s innate cruelty (“The Capital would still enslave the outsiders for their enjoyment”), the nature of tyrannical regimes, the idea that if the world consisted of my class and me, I would much rather we all have bread rather than enslave them and have to sleep with one eye open or pay people to watch them.

              It even led to a great “What if” from American history. Suppose in 1792 Eli Whitney did not invent the cotton gin, but the magic “cotton transmuting machine” that only needed five workers to plant, grow and gin the cotton. What would have been the effect on slavery? Would it have prevented the Civil War? etc.

      1. Confirm liberty in law, as the song says. Unfortunately socialists tend to interpret that as; more laws=more liberty.

  7. “Someone at the panel on transhumanism spoke out against extending life because ‘we already don’t have enough food to feed everyone.’ ”

    Funny how the party line changes and folks follow it blindly. Time was any good liberal would have a copy of Food first: Beyond the myth of scarcity by Frances Moore Lappe (1977) at hand the better to argue for socialist distribution and to beat capitalism over the head with.

    The counter of course is that capitalism produced the surpluses see e.g. years of lean community settlement followed by abundance when the rules went off at the early English settlement in Plymouth Colony all the way up to post WWII Germany and the gamble of 1947.

    1. Their logic is that if enlightened scientific management could not produce surpluses, surpluses cannot be produced. Any surpluses produced through free market exchanges are a temporary aberration and cannot be relied upon.

      The same problem with logic leads them to conclude AGW is occurring regardless of recent measurements.

  8. “I am for doing good to the poor, but…I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. I observed…that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.”

    ― Benjamin Franklin

  9. Actually, I suspect that the Gods of the Copybook headings are going to be back in all their glory and terror, relatively soon. Between the utter Charlie-Foxtrot that Obamacare is finally admitting, the Immigration Bill (which WILL pass, after the House-Senate Conference with all the Dems and enough RINOs in the House voting for it), and Obama’s War on Coal, I expect it to ALL come crashing down. And most of the poor, as well as the poorly prepared, will not survive the aftermath.

    All we need now is some genetically-engineered Supermen, and we’re well on the way to becoming the extinct USAians. . .

    1. Except in the shiny new future, it won’t be government, but individuals making the supermen. Oh, sure, it’ll start with university research, and end up with cheap Chinese knockoffs. But in the middle, you’ll be picking your kids IQs, athletic and musical abilities, oh, and coloring. Parents can be as PC–or not–as they wish.

            1. You know… you know enough writers to be able to draft folks to do prequel short stories set in this world.

              Just sayin.

        1. OF COURSE we want you to post the future history, Sarah!

          I play with the same ideas, from a different angle in _Outcasts and Gods_.

          1. That was a pretty good story. It stumbled in a few places, but I liked it.

            1. They are good stories, Pam is a good writer, I just struggle with the anti-Christian bias that is so prevalent in them.

              1. There are certainly a lot of lifestyles in the fantasies that I would not promote to the younger readers. That’s the main reason I use a pen name for the YA stuff. Not just because there’s no sex, but because they occur in a normal, healthy culture, with normal, healthy realtionships.

                1. Understood, rereading my comment it comes across a little harsher than I intended. I’m not comfortable with certain aspects of them, but then most books have aspects I’m not comfortable with. They are still good stories, I just wouldn’t recommend them to my mother. 😉

                  1. How do you think I feel, with my mother reading them!

                    I wrote these, probably starting ten years or more ago, not expecting to ever publish. So I was experimenting with “What if this current split between men and women went to extremes?” On top of challenging myself to write up one magic system with a scientific basis–genetic engineering, in this case–and another magic system where the power flowed from one or more deities.

                    The real gods one, I’ll be publishing in another month or so, under the Zoey Ivers branding. But again, it’s not Christian, and the Church has gotten all about their own power, rather than about being the bridge between man and god. Which gets fixed in the end, this being Human Wave at least to the extent of “Good Guys Win, life is good.”

          1. My younger son’s name is Sean. I’ve been thinking about yelling his name like that quote, some time when he irritates me, but he wouldn’t get it.

  10. I have a certain sympathy – actually quite a lot of sympathy – for the idea of a Citizens Basic Income. It ought to massively simplify welfare/social security administration, thereby removing a swathe of bureaucrats, simplify taxation (you pay tax on all income, no deductions) and thus removing a second swathe. Moreover as we seem to be gradually moving (patchily and despite idiot politicos) to an economy of abundance, a CBI makes sense because it is actually rather cheap. But – as you note – it needs to have teeth so that it is unattractive to freeloaders to try and live on it alone.

    Maybe combine it with something like the old British workhouse. It is true there were numerous abuses there, but that surely was the point to some extent. People in the workhouse were housed, clothed and fed at some basic level, but life in them was so grim that you had an enormous incentive to find a way out. Maybe CBI payments are like food stamps (the original ones not the current mess where apparently you can buy anything with them) and limited to only certain items? Maybe in fact the CBI isn’t in fact money but is plain (but healthy) food, distinctive crappy clothes, and nothing else?

    And critically I think you have to make it so that if you don’t pay taxes (and that means have a legal job or investment income) you don’t get to vote.

    1. I have frequently thought that that is the way to structure aid, if we must. Free or minimum cost protein (eggs?, cheese?) and bread and vegetables available to anyone who wants to pick up government cheese. Free boarding at the government hostel for anyone who wants to stay (you can be thrown out for cause, and not return), and free set of orange jumpsuit once a year for anyone who wants one. Be cheaper than the current system and anyone can access it. Anything else you want, go work for it.

      1. Not orange. Not felons, and it would be better not to confuse those. Bright pink. (nods.) Bright pink. And it will be laundered for you at no cost once a week.

        1. Okay, bright pink would get me into cleaning toilets or collecting trash or anything else I could find in no time. I don’t particularly like that color even in accessories, the thought of having to wear a badly fitting whole outfit… you just gave me nightmares.

          Hm. Trash is unsightly. Anybody who gets the free food and pink outfits will also have to spend certain amount of time per year cleaning roadsides or forests and pretty much everywhere else, if not handicapped or with some other good excuse. I have occasionally done that for free, but the problem usually is where to deposit the trash once you have collected it, so more regularly happening organized versions which included a plan to get the stuff to a dump would be nice (I think school kids still do that once every spring, but that’s usually only close to their schools).

          1. And yes, that might encourage even more people to just throw it there (the excuse if scolded: it will get cleaned) but I think I’d like it anyway. Make the punishment for being caught littering to join the cleaning crews for a day or two, or something. In the pink outfits.

              1. Can be bad in Finland in some places, especially in the spring after the snow is gone but before the new growth hides it. Towns and cities get cleaned fairly well, and pretty often, the ugly parts are once you get away from those but not yet into proper countryside because nobody really cleans there. Or along some roads and highways.

                1. And one of the reasons lots of Finns are getting a bit fed up with some east European summertime migrants is that they leave really spectacular messes where they camp… (plus the fact that more burglaries seem to happen then too). Open borders do have some setbacks. Fortunately the summer here is short, at least right now most of them leave the country for the winter.

                  1. Littering is a foreign concept in most cultures, this is particularly noticeable in Latin American and Middle Eastern immigrant populations here, although I have seen it in Eastern European immigrants also, they are generally so scattered amongst the general population that it isn’t as noticeable and they acculturate faster.

                    1. The general idea is that most of the east Europeans who come here belong to some version of organized crime. The older and more pitiful looking ones beg, but are often picked up by the end of the day by pretty good looking cars – and that’s something I’ve witnessed myself – burglaries and other crime go up when they come, and the ones who get caught during those times of the year are often of the same nationality as the groups, for the first time in my lifetime we are getting warnings of pickpockets as organized groups in larger towns and cities. And they don’t seem to be particularly interested to work even when offered jobs, if some tests done by some groups I have read about are truthful. So I suppose littering wouldn’t matter much to them either.

                      Makes sense, I suppose. Most of them are supposed to be Romanian gypsies. The sentences here are more merciful, and for smaller crimes, well, once they are out of the country they really don’t need to worry, police here don’t seem to have the resources to go even after our own burglars with any particular vigor as long as they don’t steal anything major and do it only once in a while so there is nothing one could call a crime wave. The worrisome part is that they also seem to be more inclined to use force when they deal with their victims than most of our native petty criminals are.

            1. “And yes, that might encourage even more people to just throw it there (the excuse if scolded: it will get cleaned)”

              Where I grew up the old guy down the road would pick up all the trash in the ditches, which more than anything else consisted of beer cans (the side effect of an open container law), another neighbor would save up their aluminum cans and when they got a garbage or two of them they would go out and dump them in the ditch. Because, “them old men like Mr. Climber like to pick up cans.” I’m pretty sure Mr. Climber would have preferred if they just gave them to him instead of dumping them in the ditch, or at the very least left them in the garbage bags.

            1. Personal preferences. 🙂 I like, or at least tolerate some tones of pink, but the bright ones, not. Well, I’m not overly fond of any pastels though, at least if we are talking about the candy colors.

              1. I may have to go pastel (not candy colors) because my skin tone has actually gotten lighter. *sigh All those meds that cause my sensitive skin to become more sensitive to the sun.

                1. I’m about as light skinned as Snow White. I usually go for the softer earth tones, lots of colors like forest green and chocolate brown or a bit brownish red, slightly faded looking versions. When I can find them, that is. Lots of black too simply because that is almost always available, even if it makes me look like a cadaver (or a seriously non-cool vampire).

                  1. My skin and hair color (more gold than blonde) doesn’t go well with earth tones and greens (green makes me look like a cadaver). So I use color, white, and black. Also ecru or off-whites don’t look good on me.

            2. Ditto, but I think it’s a “if you want anything besides this jumpsuit, you work” thing– while, say, gray would probably get women to work, guys would just shrug, and there’s the aspect where it looks like what honest folks or the military (joke intended!) wear.

              Pink, on the other hand, will get to guys while women tend to want pretties anyways. (even I wouldn’t want to be in all bright pink– or even hot pink)

        2. How about that delightful shade commonly known as Pepto-pink? Or that pink-green-purple that was popular in the 1950s and early 1960s?

          1. I had a dress that color once . . . of course those were the miniskirt days, and I probably weighed less than half what I do now, so there wasn’t that much pink. I was sixteen and wouldn’t want to repeat those days, but the figure, the energy . . . Yeah give me those back and I d**n well will wear pepto-pink.

              1. Youth is wasted on the young. Oh, to have those knees again! I’d be more careful this time, I really would!

              2. Hi Ms. Hoyt, new to your blog and work, and I would just like to say if that picture in the black strapless is any indication, you have nothing to complain about. Very beautiful. 🙂

        3. Fluorescent lime green. Looks about equally good on everybody and makes it hard to sneak up on people in the dark.

          In temperate climates the jumpsuits could be short-sleeved with knee-length bottoms.

          Allow seamstresses/tailors to earn money for alterations, to encourage entrepreneurship.

          1. I already wear that nearly every day. My riding jacket is Hi-Vis green.
            Stick to the pink, make it ugly looking, and not matching the pink Joe uses in the Phoenix area for his prisoners.

            1. Make it a yearly contest: Most Nauseating Eyesore Design. Winner gets a prize, and gets to see his creation on hundreds of thousands of backs.

      2. > I have frequently thought that that is the way to structure aid, if we must.

        Agreed. I don’t like welfare, but the populace wants it, at some level.

        Right now welfare and a thousand other programs are really jobs programs for the social workers as much as they are wealth transfers.

        My idea welfare: nothing
        Next up: oatmeal taps and free sleeping bags
        Next up: reverse income tax / minimum transfer: EVERYONE gets $10k/yr, which should buy some sort of housing and a few sacks of rice and beans. Those earning anything at all pay a flat tax into the gov, which pays for the transfer.

        Worst of all: what we have now.

        1. Some kind of welfare system is necessary from a national defense point of view. Otherwise you end up with a critical mass of desperately poor and the useful idiots who feel sorry for them that can, and has, been used by demagouges to capture power.

          If Hoover had more aggressively worked to ameliorate the suffering of the Great Depression FDR would never have been elected. And without that nincompoop playing with the economy like Matt Smith at the controls of the TARDIS we probably would have seen full recovery by 1936.

          1. or had thousands incarcerated for being the wrong race, possibly. So far 0bama hasn’t done that … so far

            1. We have a couple of hundred million guns on our side, do you really think Obama has enough thugs motivated and suicidal enough to put on jackboots?

              1. Funny, I remember watching the comments on Democrat sites as Ohio came in for Bush in 2004, and the “intolerance” some of those people showed (tsk, tsk, surprise huh?). It was a lot of bluster and talking about how Christians should be banned from government posts and how the GOP should be outlawed and not a few calls for open armed rebellion.

                I chuckled. Wow a lot of Womyn’s Studies majors, PhDs in bullshit subjects, emasculated metrosexual males, flaming gay males, public sector union types (not their going the way of the dinosaur blue collar bretheren) and people, who in general would faint at the sight of a gun, were going to make war on the rest! That was good for a laugh.

              2. They’ve got something better– those we care about.

                It won’t work all the time, or long term– but it’s a major edge.

                  1. “Fight right now, and your loved ones are punished; just be quiet, don’t fight right now, and they’ll be fine….”

                    It already works online– saying the wrong thing puts you at risk of being “SWATed” and your family at risk of death.

                    1. “Fight right now, and your loved ones are punished; just be quiet, don’t fight right now, and they’ll be fine….”

                      “You LIE!”

                      As for SWATting, it might happen. Might not. “Do not take counsel of your fears.”

                    2. It’s a matter of applying the same thing that works with buying votes– give a big enough benefit to a small enough group that the cost is tiny to the whole, but very important to the ones that get it.

          2. Hoover worked so aggressively against the suffering of the Great Depression that FDR campaigned against him by calling him a socialist — and promised to balance the budget.

      3. Given the record of enforcement of good behaviour in hostels, homeless shelters and public libraries … no free housing unless strictly policed. Instapundit recently had a link about sexual exploitation of minor boys in “reformatories” by female supervisors. The stats make the Catholic church look good. (Heck, they make public schools look good. The BBC still looks bad.)

      4. Perhaps more to the point, if you can’t provide for yourself, why on earth would we let you raise a child?

        A grace period would be allowed, but if there is one thing the welfare state has shown, it is that providing free stuff does not make good parents.

    2. Oh, and medical care thru training programs – you can see physicians in training for minimal cost.

    3. I don’t like the idea of entitlements. The government providing a way for people to earn–with minimal bureaucracy–would be better. Perhaps a low cost-medium payout-good odds lotto. Work at it, and you can win enough to pay the basics. Or if you postulate a total surveillance, implanted and tracked ID, the government tracking computers could credit people with trash picked up (and fine them for littering, no creating your own work, here) and so forth. Plenty of fodder for the SF writer trying to build a future world.

      Of course, we also look at what goes wrong with our Utopian plans . . .

    4. And critically I think you have to make it so that if you don’t pay taxes (and that means have a legal job or investment income) you don’t get to vote.

      It has long been my attitude that if people ask society to support them and society agrees, in principle society is morally entitled to withdraw some (not all) rights of citizenship from such individuals.

      1. We should also have literacy and math tests. Both vetted by multiple groups, so that they’re fair (e.g. people have to be as good as a 9th grader). Without that there’s no such thing as consideration and debate, there’s just pure popularity.

        1. I hope you are joking here. We do not want tests. We want something that separates the contributors from the consumers, that is all.

            1. The problem with tests is that whoever gets to write them would have way too much power to pick and choose who gets to vote, and thus, the course of our government. It’s far too much power to hand to a single person or group, especially since it wouldn’t be an elected position. (If you think it would be an elected position, I have a spectacular deal for you on some waterfront property in Florida.)

              1. Trivially fixed.

                1) You get to keep your copy of the test, signed by the guy who administrated it.

                2) The minute polls close the tests are made public. Anyone who has a different test can contest their decision, and using a non-standard test is a felony FOR EACH INSTANCE.

                Or better yet, instead of a “punch the button” voting machine you get a keyboard and a list of offices. The test is spelling the name of each candidate PROPERLY. The tabulating machine simply spits out a list of names and their number of votes.

                For everything else on the ballot it can be handed similarly.

                1. Thus making sure no Poles, folks with Welsh names or select Germans and Hispanics will ever be elected again….

                  I still remember meeting my favorite chief:
                  Him: “Welcome aboard, Petty Officer (standard easy last name)!”
                  Me: “Thank you, Chief …(Horrified silence).”
                  Him: “It’s pronouced Sky-rip-chack.”
                  Me: “…There’s only one vowel, and it’s a Y.”
                  Him: “I’ve noticed.”

                  1. My family name was a lot longer and more vowel-intensive before Ellis Island. It didn’t hurt us that it got Americanized.
                    Or do a Heinlein: change it to “Smith”, and tell people that “Smith” is pronounced identically to your original family name. “It’s ‘Lvovopolysi’. Them ‘M’ is silent.”

                  2. Poles and German’s can’t get elected to most offices anyway as they’re not Americans.

                    I have no idea what my grandfather’s last name at birth was, but it was fixed at Ellis Island. People still screw it up, but that’s because they don’t pay attention.

                    As to your objection, if you want to get in office either make sure your supporters can spell your name properly, or change it.

                2. What I meant wasn’t no much fiddling with individual tests, but writing the overall test in such a way as to skew the results towards one group and away from another.

                  1. “… wasn’t SO much”, that is. Curse you, WordPress, and your sudden but inevitable betrayal lack of a preview button!

            2. Hmm. But my view is if you pay taxes you have a valid reason to choose abut how the money is spent. If you don’t then not.

              More over if you PAY taxes chances are you end up being basically able to do simple sums and reading because if you can’t you probably can’t have a job (and yeah I admit there are some minimum wage workers that challenge my theory here) .

      2. A defining characteristic of adulthood is the ability to care for oneself. If you are unable or unwilling to do that you should have no expectation of any rights or privileges not given to children or dumb animals.

        1. Who gets to decide who is taking care of themselves?

          I’m a house wife. I work my tail off, but don’t bring in income. (eating much better than we should be able to, on the money spent, isn’t an income; neither is savings on laundry, new clothing, repairmen, etc)

          Simplest would be “if you take gov’t money (and we’ll pretend the only thing is money, not– say– bike paths subsidized by the rest of the state, like in Seattle) then you don’t get to vote,” does that mean that we can do vote-buying by paying to support any number of people we can, and telling them it’ll keep going so long as the person that we want to win in an election does? (avoids the secrecy of ballots issue)

          1. Hmm… I’m sure there would be some way to game that, but I’m not too sure that it’s unreasonable, if you’re willing to pony up someone’s entire livelihood.

            1. I’m picturing Soros packing barracks full of folks, preferably in places where when they riot, it’ll harm others….

              Which would, actually, give us a reason to arrest the blanker for inciting a riot. Win-win!

              1. Of course, the Koch brothers could play the exact same game. It would quickly degenerate to the electoral system of the late Roman Republic.

                The sad thing is that I’m not sure it wouldn’t be an improvement.

                1. Could, yes– but would they?

                  We act like doing something bad is the sin; they act like getting caught is the sin….

                2. And your belief that it hasn’t already so generated is based upon … ? You think that SEIU / OFA busing in paid illegal alien “demonstrators” and heckling enemy politicians at their homes isn’t the exact copy of tactics that Crassus and Gaius Julius used?

          2. I liked David Weber’s standard for Manticore: 1 penny more in taxes than you receive in direct transfer payments from the government.

            1. Going to outlaw in-kind payments, then?

              I know there are folks who sell the baby food they get through various assistance programs, because one of the gals who can’t stand to do it– but gets it anyways– gives it to me. (We give it to the local St. VdP/Catholic Church with the rest of our stuff, and I am always careful to thank the lady for it. She could just throw it away, as some folks do their “free” goodies that aren’t wanted.)

              1. In-kind can always be translated to a dollar value; people do it for tax purposes all the time when giving to Goodwill, etc.

                1. Yes, and they lie. Six dollar used undies, anyone?

                  How, exactly, is giving the dishonest yet another advantage good for those of us idiots who follow the rules?

                  1. *cough*

                    Six dollars for used undies isn’t a bad price, depending non whose they are. I suspect the current market value of Scarlett Johansson’s undies, certified worn under her Black Widow costume is much higher than six bucks. While I doubt there is as much of a market* for the used undies of male stars, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn there is a market for the undies worn by Channing Tatum or any number of professional athletes. (I can imagine a movie character being portrayed as a real b-buster having an array of jockstraps on display on her wall, neatly mounted on trophy plaques.)

                    OTOH, I doubt you could pay anyone to dispose of Hillary Clinton’s or John Effin’ Kerry’s undies.

                    *I understand there are subscription services for the worn undies of porn stars, but cannot personally confirm this business opportunity. If true it represents aspects of our culture upon which I would rather not dwell.

                    1. Those are sold, not “donated.”

                      But an excellent example, none the less, even if I was thinking of the OTHER Clinton, who I have even less respect for.

                      (How many old ranchers who are driven out of their homes, while being forced to pay for them, equal one Benghazi?)

                    2. “Culture. You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” 😉

                    3. I forget how much was given for one of Terry Clark’s bras (auctioned for charity) but if I remember correctly it was in the thousands. And that was a spur of the moment thing (while taking an interview the interviewer suggested they auction off her bra at the currently underway charity auction) with no lead-up publicity.

          3. It should be judged by household. As long as the household isn’t taking federal money, it’s no one else’s business how you split up the labor under your own roof.

            1. It would still favor those who outsource the future, but that’s an acceptable level.

              Assuming that being employed by the gov’t for things like the DoD doesn’t get you unable to vote.

              1. Which is why “direct transfer payments” was specified. As in “not earned by past or current contract for work performed.”

                1. Definitions matter– I’ve seen folks who consider a military paycheck to be a “direct transfer payment,” because defending our shores doesn’t directly generate income.

                  1. I’ve seen idjits before, too. I consider them as highly likely victims of that “selective plague” referenced above.

                    1. To quote the infamous Werewolf RPG character Culls-The-Monkey: It’s time to thin the herd…..

                    2. That was pretty much the reaction of the gaming group when he was introduced….. 😉

                  2. Foxifer, that’s how they came up with the ‘red states get more federal money than blue states’ meme.

                    1. Well, that and the fact that so many damyankees retire down here. Call them on it and they usually shut up, especially when you offer to send them back.

                    2. they were counting soldier’s salaries *and defense spending* as ‘federal money going to red states’.

                  3. Whether something directly generates income doesn’t strike me as the right test. Firemen don’t directly generate income. Does any service directly generate income? It’s not all about manufacturing widgets.

                    I have to admit I rather like the idea of refusing the vote to anyone in a truly parasitic government job, but the task of separating out the parasitic from the useful government jobs would generate a lot of squabbles. I suppose the right approach is to keep working on eliminating the stupid government jobs by refusing to fund their salaries, but continue to let everyone vote who doesn’t take a check just for breathing. And even there, any proposal for disenfranchising people makes me thoughtful. It’s an awfully handy tool for people who fear the vote. In this case, of course, it’s I who fear the vote: the power of people to vote for other people to send them money. But it’s still a dangerous weapon to start wielding.

          4. Who gets to decide who is taking care of themselves?

            If we pick you up for vagrancy you’re not taking care of yourself.

            If you’re at the “Welfare” office asking for government handouts, for the length of time you’re not taking care of yourself.

            If you’re hanging out at home, cleaning the house, doing the shopping and the laundry while your SO brings home the bacon, you’re taking care of yourself.

            1. Give that they’ve already taken to threatening to not pay the military, how long do you think it would take to engineer a “we’ll pay you later” situation for the military a month and a half before the election?

              1. In which case the military needs to remember the whole “enemies domestic” portion of the oath and act accordingly.

                One thing seemingly forgotten by the Order of Cincinnatus is that they have a responsibility to the citizens that far outweighs their responsibility to the officeholder… and that tyranny is only effective when they allow it.

                1. Which would probably play right into the part two of the Xanatos Gambit– if the military doesn’t react to being disenfranchised, you win; if they do react, you can put them down with help hired from the money saved by not paying them.

                    1. They’re operating without reluctance; our military has a well-earned and honorable resistance to bearing arms against our government.

                      It’s like how a church is a really good target for terrorism.

                    2. It’s like how a church is a really good target for terrorism.

                      The only reason Jeanne Assam was armed and ready to respond almost as soon as Matthew Murray opened fire at New Life Church was because the church had been alerted by his attacks at YWAM twelve hours earlier and had asked their security guards to arm themselves if they had CCW licenses. If New Life Church had been the first place Murray attacked, he would have killed a LOT more people than he did.

                      Of course, in Texas, a few things are different. I know someone with a CCW who always carries, even to church. I never asked him why, because I didn’t need to. I think I did ask him once if he’d told other people in his church that he was carrying, and he said something along the lines of, “The ones that wouldn’t freak out, I’ve told. The ones that would freak out, well, I chose not to worry them with something they wouldn’t want to know.”

                    3. Robin, I play a mental game of “who’s carrying” at my place of worship. I know for a fact three of the choir are, and I strongly suspect about eight of the usher-types, plus three or four of the usual congregants. I wager several other women carry, but in the Home of the Giant Handbag, it’s hard to tell a carry-purse from a carrying-an-anvil purse.

              2. Nah, the military is such a respected institution that, even if it were completely disenfranchised, the backlash among the rest of the electorate would completely destroy the political party that tried it.

                1. Except that the military was effectively disenfranchised during the last election. And it was deliberate. The president has also been selectively destroying the military leadership since the mid-terms in 2010.

                  1. The military wasn’t disenfranchised, just the deployed part. And there’s a big difference between stopping military pay for six weeks and failing to accommodate the incompetence of the US Postal Service (a much less respected institution).

                    1. It wasn’t the incompetence of the post office, it’s the nature of the military postal system. It just never mattered before because even that sick f* Clinton had enough respect for the institution of the military (or enough fear of what would happen if word got out) that he didn’t try it.

                      Of course, since 2000 and 2008 the press got radicalized and is now actively taking part in the destruction of our country.

                    2. It wasn’t that the Postal Service was incompetent (actually from my experience they aren’t, packages almost always get delivered on or before the time they state they will, and to the right place, of course exceptions like the mail lady where I grew up are around). The problem was that they specifically used the Postal Services very plain guidelines to draw up regulations that would result in military ballots not being counted. The military postal service system has worked the same way for longer than most of us have been alive, they used that to their advantage to specifically make regulations that disenfranchised soldiers.

          5. “Are you a net tax payer, or a net tax consumer?” (Yes, we’d have to exclude public works. I can live with that, since an individual making use of public facilities like the roads or the sidewalks or the bike paths does not actually _consume_ them in the same sense that a person receiving welfare or a government salary consumes cash — that is, make them unavailable for use by others. Disagreement about the proper amount to spend on public works will still happen, but that’s a tolerable consequence of having such things at all.)

            And yes, you could hypothetically have a problem with that sort of vote-buying scheme. But it doesn’t scale well enough to be a real problem. Even George Soros can’t buy that many votes with his own money. (He buys _agitators_ with his money, but their numbers are relatively tiny, in the grand scheme of things. Not nearly enough to swing elections by themselves, without collecting the votes of thousands of tax-consumers each.)

            1. It is easy to buy votes with public works projects, especially if you include public transportation– and the Dems already use them.

              1. Most of the “buying votes with public works” happens because folks get paid to build them and maintain them, though. And under the new proposed system, those people wouldn’t be able to vote, anymore, since they’d be net-consumers of taxes, rather than net-payers. 🙂

                Of course, some people derive enough direct benefit from an infrastructure project that it’d be worth backing it politically even if they didn’t expect anyone they know to get a job building it. Local merchants, for example, might want to band together and push to get a road near their businesses expanded.

                But without the tremendous dead weight of a major political party whose effective platform is “free goods for everybody, and somebody else pays for it all!”, they’d have a hard time getting enough votes together to influence the state government (let alone the national one) to pay for it. Their job would be much easier at the local level. Maybe they succeed, and maybe they don’t…if they do, I’m a lot readier to give the benefit of the doubt about the genuine utility of the project to the whole community, than I am with the present system whereby all the interest groups get to make everybody live at the expense of everybody else, using a giant population of people who contribute nothing to the system but still get to vote on how it gets run.

                If upper-middle-class Seattle SWPLs want public bike trails (and they probably would, even if they had to pay for them out of their own taxes), they can convince the Seattle city government to pay for them. Not my business, since I don’t live, vote, or pay taxes in Seattle. And under the new system, it wouldn’t have to be my business if I lived in Spokane, either.

                Theologians call it “subsidiarity”. Political scientists call it “federalism”. Either way, it works remarkably well, if you actually do it. 🙂

                1. Most of the “buying votes with public works” happens because folks get paid to build them and maintain them, though. And under the new proposed system, those people wouldn’t be able to vote, anymore, since they’d be net-consumers of taxes, rather than net-payers. 🙂

                  No to both, actually; being paid for work done was specifically pointed out as not a transfer payment, and subsidized transportation of a tiny group by the more productive most assuredly is an issue.

                  Being able to drop cherries in the lap of some cronies is just an additional incentive.,

                  I can’t remember what the exact numbers are, but something between a third and half of my state— Washington’s– spending is on mass transit. Yes, that includes the ferries, with their massive waste and cushy job situations, and the gold plated buses in Tacoma, but it’s a constant push for more money and power or they’ll take away the buses, the bike paths, this and that special favor.

                  The Seattle guys don’t pay for it from their own pocket. They take from the state budget, and you can’t separate them– especially with a gas tax, which in theory goes to upkeeping roads and bridges.

                  1. I think you may have misunderstood. When I said “exclude public works”, I meant exclude _use_ of them, so that driving on the roads or walking on the sidewalks (or being protected by the crime-deterrence umbrella of the police and the invasion-deterrence umbrella of the army, to name things even harder to measure on an individual basis than use of the roads and sidewalks) doesn’t count against you. Getting paid to build them and run them? Well of course that would. If the government pays you more than you pay it, you’re a net-consumer of taxes, whether you’re getting paid to work, or you’re getting paid to be poor.

                    And even if you’re getting paid to work, and the work you’re doing is arguably necessary, it still creates perverse incentives as a voter.

                    1. So it is another thinly disguised disenfranchise-the-military thing, and still doesn’t avoid the vote buying by providing goods and services to population centers at the cost of less favored areas.

                    2. Well, I think “thinly-disguised” kind of implies that disenfranchising the (active-duty) military is a sought goal of mine. I assure you it is not. But I do admit that implementing a policy of “only net taxpayers can vote” would do that as an unfortunate side-effect.

                      And I would indeed regard such a side-effect as being unfortunate. I’d bet that in political terms it’d be more than balanced out, but asking the men and women in the armed forces to give up yet another of their rights for the duration of their service (in addition to all the ones they already do) is not something I’d consider fair, in any kind of absolute sense.

                    3. Not needfully of yours, but of those pushing it as actually solving anything.

                      ESPECIALLY as it removes all of those with skin in the game from having input, and allows money-shifting for “public works” to favored groups.

                    4. Example of how perverse it is:
                      under your interpretation, it would mean that someone who joins at 17, serves 20 years and is then paralyzed with at no point in their life have the right to vote.

                      That is… unspeakable.

            2. Soros is even more efficient than that: he just buys the vote-counters. See Secretary of State Project.

              Another reason a peaceful resolution is impossible. Soapbox, jusry box (see Zimmerman “trial”), ballot box: all have been effectively nullified. Only one box left.

    5. And the simple fact is that you will never get that reform without a hot civil war.

      In Jerry Pournelle’s Falkenberg books, a planetary government becoming independent of the CoDominium found itself with a population of a few productive types trying and failing to support a parasite class. There was a way to correct the problem, but the parasites would never adopt it voluntarily.

      Dr Caldwell Whitlock summed it up nicely: “What you need is a good selective plague. One that will kill off the incurable parasites and leave the others with the motivation to move out and take advantage of what’s available.” (paraphrased)

      They got one. It involved tricking the parasite leaders and their most rabid followers into a sports arena, barring the doors, and shooting/ grenading about 10% of the occupants, concentrating on the leaders.

      “And the Gods of the Copybook Headings with Terror and Slaughter return.”

      No one wants it. There just isn’t any other path back after getting so far off course..

          1. With a little precursor in a couple of weeks if the GZ trial plays out the way it looks to be headed. I’ve heard rumors to the effect that the inner city prols are already busy picking their targets of opportunity with selection heavily skewed towards high end sneakers and flat screens.

            1. Any proprietors not reducing/securing inventory, hiring guards (arming themselves) and installing steel shutters are being derelict. Unless they are looking to their insurance and making sure it covers arson and riot, in which case I would not be surprised to learn inventories are being highly inflated.

              1. LArge stores (chains) keep as little inventory as possible and use computerized JIT ordering systems that in theory analyze traffic and sales patterns to know how much to order. Among some fellow gunnies in the area and I, it was a popular ‘thing to do’ to go into wal-mart and wipe out their supply of a particular caliber or calibers of ammo, partly just to mess with the JIT ordering system, then sit back and watch if the computer thought it was a ‘pattern’.

                1. “, it was a popular ‘thing to do’ to go into wal-mart and wipe out their supply of a particular caliber or calibers of ammo,”

                  Not particularly hard to do lately, probably wouldn’t even cost you much money.

          2. Dang, I hope you’re wrong about that. I mean, yes, some kind of crash is inevitable at this point, but a shooting civil war? G-d forbid.

            1. It’s not going to be a blue-and-butternut civil war. I doubt it will even rise to the level of a widespread insurgency a la Iraq. I think you’re more likely to see essentially widespread riots with occasional clashes as the rioters try to spread outside their neighborhoods.

              1. Oh, I don’t expect a blue / butternut one either. More like a “Robin Hood prunes back the Sheriff’s Men” civil war.

                1. Given the political situation in most of the country, it would be more like “The sheriff and his men tell Prince John to pound sand.”

                  The unamerican contingent’s power base is the urban youth. Not exactly a group known for their motivation, discipline, or martial prowess.

                  1. Urban youth are ripe to be enslaved once civil authority collapses. After they’ve thrown their tantrum and burned down their homes, they will be easy prey to those with the will and the need for farmhands.

                    1. But I don’t think civil authority will collapse. At least not locally and not in most places. Of course that means any corrupt political body will be unfettered by state or federal oversight, but theyll also have fewer resources available with which to cause mischief.

                    2. I’m reminded of the state of Chicago in Fallen Angels. That book got a lot of things painfully wrong politically, but an awful lot of it seems terribly, horribly prescient.

                  1. Mate, I got nuthin against slinging arrows around. Good times. Plan on getting a nice recurve later this fall if finances hold out.

                    But when the cry is Havoc and the dogs have slipped their leash, well, there’s a reason that neither professional armies, mercenary companies nor police (even in cities where they have horses) use bows any more.

                    Then again I practice ancient japanese battlefield arts and will be getting a medium quality sword for cutting practice, so what do I know.

                    1. Compound bows are *scary* and effective, at the size of horse-bows.

                      Not as point-and-click as a gun, but cops and the military aren’t doing hunting tactics.

                    2. For close range a zip gun will work wonderfully.

                      Click to access ZipGun.pdf

                      A hollow tube, a high-tension coil spring, a triggering mechanism and a bolt are about all you need.

                      You could also adapt the potato gun to similar purpose by employing a saboted bolt to replace the potato. A butane lighter recharger should provide propellant.

                      Cheaply and easily made, easily aimed and quite effective at close range. A little thought should suggest numerous adaptations for increased effectiveness. For example, it seems likely that interchangeable pre-loaded coil springs could be inserted in the firing tube to increase the spring gun’s rate of fire.

                    3. I second that. He also does things that are the reverse of his job. As in when Robert needed a cane capable of going to school (i.e. not with a sword inside) but still a good looking walking cane, not “I’m an invalid” cane, MMike changed a sword cane, by filling it and balanced it so Robert could use it.

                    4. Only when effective. See recent comments in Post Liberty Con Post for instances of the problems of ineffective intimidation.

                    5. Oh no. I meant that this sudden feeling of “holy cow there are some really incredibly impressive people in the field wow what can I do to up my own game”. Definitely not thinking I would try intimidating anyone else.

              2. That’s possible. Sort of a Watts riot / LA post-Rodney King style chaos write somewhat larger.

                But even that isn’t any better, because it increases chaos, and creates a need for someone to step in and “pacify” things.

                If I was a crazy conspiracy nut, I’d say that this was leading up to a night-of-the-long-knives style event. Here’s hoping that really is a crazy conspiracy idea. Heh. heh. ugh.

                1. The vile progs haven’t advanced nearly enough in their disarmament agenda. They’d be bringing their long knives to a gunfight.

                  1. I think you’re thinking of the wrong target, which leads to the wrong idea.

                    The night of the long knives scenario isn’t one where the vile progs make a play for coming down in military power against their political enemies. It’s the most cynical possible scenario – it’s the coming down in military or other violent action against erstwhile political allies in a bid to consolidate power. I’ve heard it expressed in other instances as “bottom up, top down, inside out.”

                    The original night of the long knives wasn’t an action against the Jews or teh Evil Capitalists of the German society. It was an action against the Brownshirts – those people who were rabid fans of Hitler and Nazism, and were violently intimidating others. Which I believe Hitler admitted was an illegal use of his power, and the people were so relieved that he’d gotten rid of the Brownshirts that they loved him for just making the problem go away.

                    Which allowed him to consolidate more power and eventually get to where the Brownshirts had been all along – they were just early, and people were on their guard. The night of the long knives let people go back to sleep and ignore what was developing in Hitler’s administration until it was effectively too late to do anything about it.

                    So I don’t expect military force to be used against tea parties or 9-12 groups or FreedomWorks rallies – I think that would spark an immediate shooting civil war, which I think would be won pretty decisively by people who are fans of the Constitution. But it took four years for the German people to go from the Night of the Long Knives to Kristallnacht.

                    And yes, we do have the benefit of our founding documents and a starting point that sets out some basic principles, but given the way that education in the country has been headed that isn’t the bulwark it used to be. (Or rather, a large and growing subset of the populace has abandoned the traditional defensible positions of our forefathers.)

                    Which means that we fight this fight on all fronts. And one of the most important is culture – which means we need a lot more books along the lines of Starship Troopers and AFGM.

                    1. I still don’t think it’s a viable strategy (not that they aren’t dumb enough to try it, just that it will backfire messily). One of the necessary conditions for Obama’s reelection was exceptionally high turnout among blacks and other minorities. If those people don’t show up to the polls, either because they fell victim to or were turned off by the long knives, the Democrats don’t win. I’m not sure that they would pick up enough of the white vote from gratitude to make up for their losses in the urban centers.

                    2. One thing to keep in mind is that something like the Night of the Long Knives requires cunning and strategic thinking. This administration has shown a truly startling degree of duplicity and scheming, but all of it on a tactical level, never strategic. They are, honestly, not all that good at basic politics. Game the system, hamstring their enemy du jour? Sure! But building long-term plans, alliances, and structures? Nope, utterly incompetent. Say what you will about the Kennedy or Clinton machines, but they were at least *competent* in their corruption.

                    3. They are third generation “revolutionaries.” In selected circles — media, politics, law, etc — they’ve been selected for (actually more) than three generations for politics, not brains. What we’re facing is the end result.

                    4. One of the MAJOR things this administration has been terribly bad at is hiding their duplicity. They don’t have enough people in the right places (YET) to get away with everything they do. I think the deliberate release of information that Tea Party people were being targeted (and it was deliberate) was an attempt to suck up the oxygen from other scandals that were beginning to break, especially the AP wiretap scandal (you don’t mess with the press!), and Benghazi.

                      I don’t want to sound like a conspiracy theory nut, but Obama IS a muslim. He even said it at the Press Corps dinner, where he said he was “no longer the young muslim socialist he was in college”. I’m not sure if that was a faux-pas, or a deliberate “get it out there and see what happens” moment. The press reaction has been absolutely zilch. But if you assume that Obama is a muslim, or a muslim-sympathizer, it explains many of his actions, including turning Egypt over to the Muslim Brotherhood, his reaction to Benghazi, and his absolute refusal to acknowledge that the Boston Marathon attacks were terrorism.

                      Even a looney-toon can be right now and then.

                    5. Good Lord, of course he is. And the foreign money for his campaign was either Russian or Arab or “yes.”

                      That’s only considered conspiracy theory because the MSM says so.

                    6. Yes, but if you say he is a Muslim you are racist, a religious bigot, and of course a loony-toon. Because obviously he is a Christian, you can tell by all the Christian values he touts and lives daily.
                      To be fair he does about as good of a job of living Christian values as he does living Muslim ones, he doesn’t attack Muslim values like he daily attacks the Christian ones, however.

                    7. Yeah but the Vile Progs in SFWA strike me as being outclassed. I mean, throwing imprecations at Pournelle?

                      I’m not even a member of the organization and I’m reaching for a rhetorical helmet and flak jacket while trying to calculate minimum safe distance.

                      No, the only thing they’re doing there is displaying their irrelevance.

                    8. “Night of the Long Knives”

                      What I always find hilarious about contemporary “Brownshirts” like the anarchists / OWS / OFA types is that they seem utterly ignorant of the fact that when the purges come, the first to be purged are the fanatical insiders that might be rivals for power. “Enemies of the people” ? They get purged later

                    9. I don’t want to sound like a conspiracy theory nut, but Obama IS a muslim.

                      No, he is not.

                      The one core thing you need to be a Muslim–or a Christian, or a Jew–and I think almost no one would argue with this, is a belief in “God” or at least a higher power.

                      Obama clearly does not believe that *anyone* is above him.

                      As to more general “muslim” beliefs, Obama is clearly not the head of his household and he does not respect chastity in wimmen folk.

                      He smoked dope as a young adult (we do not know when he quit), and it is almost certain that he drank and possibly still does (I don’t give a f* about the man’s personal life).

                      The only thing that he has in common with Muslims is the notion that the individual is subservient to those above him. Obama just stops the “above” at himself.

          3. I’m hoping for a bit longer. And I disagree with some (many) in that I don’t think the results of the “shooting civil war” will be an improvement after it’s over. It will only determine which of several forms the follow-on tyranny will take. Although we can hope that “USan” will survive as an underground religion for a future generation to rise up.

            “Pledge allegience to the flag, whatever flag they offer.”
            “Never hint at what you really feel.”
            “Teach your children quietly, for someday sons and daughters.”
            “Will rise up, and fight while we sit still.”

              1. that song always made me wonder about Mike’s political leanings.

                When I read your response in the email announcements, the snippet from mine was cut off so I didn’t see the song lyrics I’d quoted. Thus when you said “Mike” a completely different individual was the first that came to mind (one from whom’s 20th wedding anniversary party I have just returned. 😉 )

                1. The first Mike that popped into my head upon reading that reply was MadMike Williamson, and I wondered how anyone could wonder about HIS political leanings 😉

      1. Sounds like Justinian’s solution to the Nika riots, where the rioters were in the Hippodrome and they were slaughtered by his troops.

        1. I think Pournelle commented that the solution was based on Justinian’s solution.

        2. Weren’t the Nika riots backed by the manipulation of the Malwa anyway ? 😀

      2. I remember what Falkenberg said to the mostly sane politician after the killing was over.

        Basically, Falkenberg said “Don’t mess up or those people would have died for nothing”.

      3. I mentioned in an earlier thread that Pournelle got me into history? Realizing THAT story was based on the Nika revolt in Constantinople, after reading an attribution to the (IIRC boer wars) before a later story in the same edition of “The Mercenary” was the one.

        That said – I don’t think anyone’s done the Nika Revolt more often than Drake. Three (four?) times I think – At least two of them Slammers novels (Sharp end, and one other), and of course the alternate history Belisarius version.

        When people start talking about how violent things are, etc., I love to dredge that piece of history. Butchery? Try in the tens of thousands by the stadium-full.

        1. As Drake points out, it wasn’t his idea to do Belisarius a zillion times; it was Jim Baen. Of course, he then points out that Baen was totally right about Belisarius retellings always being popular and selling well.

      4. Note that the commenter has quoted the poem correctly: It’s “with terror and slaughter return.” Not fire.

        1. Yes, indeed. I realized that — again, early morning, no caffeine. It seems somehow dishonest to change it. Also, I’m not quoting so much as invoking.

            1. Yar – I was already hard at sloth imagining a religious cult invoking the Gods of the Copybook Headings … can’t decide whether it is a MHI story or a cult cooperating with the USAians.

              1. It’s definitely a USAian splinter cult, with a bit of Christianity mixed in. Specifically, verses like “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat” (2 Thess. 3:10).

                I just don’t see any way MHI might need to get involved: any group that worshipped the Gods of the Copybook Headings would have no truck with Cthulhu, vampires, or other supernatural entities.

                … And now I’m wondering where the expression “to have no truck with _____” came from.

        2. It’s “with terror and slaughter return.”

          It’s so much more open ended this way. there are many ways that terror and slaughter can occur.

    6. Exactly. More important than giving food is making it so there is food. The free market has done more to feed people than all the NGOs in history.

      1. If only we could convince some people of the success of the free market. In addition the free market works best when most are makers, not takers.

  11. “I am for doing good to the poor, but…I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. I observed…that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.”

    ― Benjamin Franklin

  12. It’s an appealing concept, on the surface. Everyone gets $10k/yr, whether they “need” it or not. Much less bureaucracy, that way, at the very least.

    Trouble is, if you implement that, you end up with price inflation to the point where an apartment big enough for three people to live in and enough food for three people to eat can no longer be purchased for $30k/yr. So the poor end up no better off than before, and you’ve also diminished the value of the income that the rest of us get from working.

    And that’s even _without_ the effect of pulling more and more people out of the labor force, as the margin of productive work shrinks. Or the fact that the American underclass has a culture that glorifies criminality to the point where people who work would be putting their lives in danger by living in close proximity to people who don’t work. Which in turn further incentivizes price inflation in the housing market. (And no, I am NOT talking about race. I have plenty of black neighbors. A couple of them are elderly retirees, and the rest all work for a living, and I have no problem living near any of them. Nice folks. I also have an uncle and two cousins, white as I am, whom I’d be prepared to use gunfire to drive out of my neighborhood, if they somehow connived to move into it, because no one here would be safe with them around.)

      1. LOL! Me, too, Sarah! At the same time they have brothers or sisters I’d walk a mile barefoot on broken glass to lend a helping hand to. The difference is in choice. Too many people CHOOSE to take the easy road, no matter how low it is.

    1. In Theodore Dalrymple’s Life at the Bottom the author notes that the (white) British underclass has the same social pathologies as America’s black underclass, and largely attributes both to an overly generous and undemanding welfare state.

      1. Yes. Yesterday I was reading an article about teaching in an inner city school, and they talked about how “blacks” behaved. I kept thinking “But that’s not a black thing, it’s an underclass thing. I encountered the same in Portugal while dealing with “dependency” children, whose parents were clients of the state.”

          1. I rather like Thomas Sowell’s point that “authentic” black culture is actually derived from white “redneck” culture.

            The idea that ethnicity = culture only becomes semi-valid when you define ethnicity properly (it is culture; it is not race.) Defining Ashanti, Ebo,, Fulani, Hutu, Tutsi, Xhosa and Zulu as interchangeable is as idiotic as lumping Portugese, Greeks, Brits, Romany and German as having a common culture. Or calling Spaniards, Portugeese, Cubans, Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Bolivians, Argentinians, Ecudaorians and Chileans “Hispanic” and pretending the term has a meaning.

        1. I think it was Dalrymple who made the succinct observation that societies advance when the under class emulates and copies the values and habits of the upper class, and societies regress when the upper class copies the lower class. Looking at all the tattoos, living without benefit of clergy, criminal and abusive behavior, almost half of births out of wedlock, the most vulgar profanity accepted in formerly polite discourse among our entertainers, athletes and political elites (of both parties) I keep thinking that observation is sadly correct.

        2. The difference, Sarah, is that they hadn”t been declared an Official Government Victim Group with the ability to declare anything “raaaaacist” and have the government back that up.

          There is literally nothing you can do to discipline them as long as they don’t cross the line to attempted murder.

          1. Yes. I know that worsens things. I made the decision early on that I would — not just — NOT claim discrimination because I have an accent and I’m “Latin” but I would even allow myself to think it. Because to think that gave me an excuse not to fix other problems standing in the way of what I wanted to do. The only exception I allow myself is with (some) doctors. I swear half of them hear my accent and think I’m either stupid or hypochondriac. Why I don’t know.

            1. I swear half of them hear my accent and think I’m either stupid or hypochondriac. Why I don’t know.

              If I had to guess, it’s because they’ve encountered enough uneducated* and/or hypochondriac Hispanics that their experience has taught them “If I hear this accent, assume this about its possessor” and they, not being linguists, are confusing your accent with a Hispanic accent. It doesn’t require much to imprint patterns in people’s minds — the human brain naturally seeks patterns — so all it would take would be three or four Hispanic-accented patients in a row with X behavior and a prejudice would automatically arise in most people’s minds that “all Hispanics are X”. Some would be able to override it with their rational minds, but many wouldn’t.

              But that’s the obvious-on-its-face theory, which I’m sure you’ve already considered. For all I know, there may be other, much less obvious, things going on as well. Still, if I had to guess, I’d put money on the “prejudice formed by prior experience and misidentifying accents” theory.

              * Note that I said “uneducated”, not “stupid”. The two are VERY different. I know a man who never got a bit of education until he was fourteen (this was not in the U.S.), then had finished the local high school and moved on to college by age 21. Brilliant mind. Had anyone met him when he was 14 and still uneducated, they might have assumed he was stupid, but they would have been dead wrong.

              1. There could be other factors at work. I don’t think I have “toddler markers” in my speech, but I might. My Venezuelan cousin (brilliant, he’s now a brain surgeon) always brought out the maternal AND patronizing in me, because his Portuguese accent sounded toddler-like. He was over six feet tall and looked rather like my dad/younger son (runs in the family) BUT I’d find myself trying to help him cross the street and explaining to him how lights worked. No, really. It annoyed hell out of me, and I explained WHY I was doing it (he just laughed) but yes, it was all subconscious. “Sounds like toddler. Must help, protect and teach.”

              2. I think that a lot of doctors assume all of their patients are idiots— which, if you assume dumb folks see the doctor ten times more often than a smart one, and smart ones are more likely to do so when they’ve been juggling the idiot ball, and that if you’re seeing a doctor you are less likely to be light on sleep kind of makes sense– and that further ones assume various groups (women of a certain age, unemployed at a normal job people) are stupid or malicious, and that not liking doctors can read the same as being someone trying to get a fake prescription to someone’s subconscious….

                1. Yes, of course, the “novelist” in my job description doesn’t help. I had one guy — the year I had six books due — tell me the issue was that I was just at home and bored, and thought up stuff. AFTER I took off his head, I found a REAL gynecologist. (My hormones were so far out of balance it wasn’t funny and yes, there were GLARING physical symptoms. But he thought writer equaled “unpublished, plays at writing.”)
                  I’m also a difficult patient. First, I don’t go in unless I think I’m dying. Second, I have a “pain turn off” that I can use. I only had to take my morphine prescription twice — once during massive uterine infection after delivering Robert (I fudged it in the post. When they set him on my belly, I passed out instantly from the pain. After which they put me on antibiotics and morphine and we stayed in hospital two weeks while I recovered — they wouldn’t release him without me.) and when one of my teeth went nuclear. But until that point is reached I can say “Okay, it hurts, but I need to function.” Doctors don’t get that. In the early part of my hard labor with Robert (before I was too tired) the doctor said I couldn’t be in pain because I was making puns.

                  1. In the early part of my hard labor with Robert (before I was too tired) the doctor said I couldn’t be in pain because I was making puns.

                    That is solidly moronic.

                    Humor is a traditional way of reasserting control over a situation and keeping yourself from going to pieces; when I was borderline hysterical with our first deciding to show up in the middle of the night, my husband and I had the nurses giggling so hard that they had trouble steering the wheel chair.

                    Heck, I find that my wit is much sharper when I’m in serious pain– I’m so distracted that there aren’t any halters on that tongue.

                  2. Doctors don’t get that.

                    Most doctors don’t get that. But if you should be persuaded to move to Dallas, there’s a couple of doctors (by which I mean a husband-and-wife couple, both of whom are doctors) you need to meet. (They’re both big readers, of science fiction and many other genres, and I have a feeling they would hit it off right away with your family and/or many of the Huns.) I know him better than I know her so I can’t speak for her reaction, but he would definitely get the “It hurts, but I can ignore it because I have to” thing.

                    1. I live in Plano. Are they in Dallas proper or are they in some other part of the Metroplex?

                    2. @emily61 –

                      They live in the northwestern part of Dallas, not too far from Carrollton. I won’t give more specific information than that in a public forum, but if you are interested in possibly meeting them, send me some contact info at my gmail account (it’s easy to figure out, just put a period between my first and last name) and I’ll be happy to pass it on to them.

                  3. I don’t deal well with raving idiots that because they have a medical school degree think they know everything, when in actuality they couldn’t deal with a situation outside of a sterilized room where they had to make a real life decision, if their life depended on it.

                    The ones who were having attacks because I should have came out and called an ambulance instead of telling a friend he was just going to have to suck it up and walk on that broken ankle, because I’d have to gut him to pack him, and he wouldn’t have much hide left by the time I dragged him out (he was 5’2″ 265#). Not quite sure what part of, in the Mt. St. Helens monument area, with the truck parked on the nearest road, they didn’t understand. Or maybe it was the fact that he was soaking wet, in a short-sleeved shirt and jeans, IN A SNOWSTORM, that they didn’t understand. This was before cell phones were common, and after I hiked out, I would have to have driven a couple hours to get to the nearest phone, waited for an ambulance, then drove a couple hours back, then hiked in to him (big snag patch, all killed when the mountain blew, trying to bring a chopper in would have been like calling an airstrike down on him). A broken ankle is not a life and death situation, UNLESS YOU LEAVE THE GUY TO DIE OF HYPOTHERMIA!

                  4. In the early part of my hard labor with Robert (before I was too tired) the doctor said I couldn’t be in pain because I was making puns.

                    This anecdote only reinforces my point about the great evil that is the pun. A pun is so evil that it can actually send your medical care off course. That pun could have taken your life. 😉

                    1. As might be expected of a lawyer, The Roman misassigns blame. In that anecdote it is clear that the act of punning is the only thing allowing the anecdoter to manage the pain. It is the doctor, probably some swot who never raised nose from grindstone, who is at fault here for failing to recognize the analgesic distancing from self accomplished by the puns.

                      It is a well demonstrated medical fact that the pain of a bruise can be alleviated by rubbing the surrounding area, stimulating a different set of nerves to abate the information transmitted from the area immediately about the injury. Just so can the mental pain inflicted by a pun provide soothing balm to the greater pain being inflicted. Why, anyone who has ever seen a 007 film has borne witness to the anodyne benefits of jokes to a person undergoing torture.

                    2. The evil lies not in the pun, but in the intolerant hearts of those who deplore it.

                      Or is that deploy it? I gets confoozed sometimes, about words’ intentions.

                2. Hence why i intensely dislike dealing with doctors. I do NOT like being talked to like i am an idiot, and don’t respond well once someone has done that to me.

              3. “If I hear this accent, assume this about its possessor”

                Beloved Spouse, who grew up in Philadelphia has that problem, too: upon hearing Chris Matthews’ accent BS reflexively dismisses his statements as ignorant, misinformed, stupid and biased.

                Oh, wait – your point is that the reflexes can be wrong …

              4. A waitress at one of our local restaurants had a heavy accent that could have been mistaken for Russian accent. I wanted to ask her if she was from Brazil or Portugal. Anyway, I knew it wasn’t Russian because she said El Presidente Margarita perfectly and not with the American flat vowels and r’s. 😉

  13. On an ENTIRELY separate topic, I had a dream that I was at some sort of writer’s back room chat with Sarah, Larry C, and Michael Flynn (clearly not JUST Baen; you guys let a Tor man in the room).

    I talked guns with Larry, Mr. Flynn asked if I liked Irish whiskey, and Sarah was a wonderful mother figure wanting to make sure that everyone was happy and friendly.

    The only part of the dream that I’m not 100% sure is based on real characteristics is Michael Flynn’s preference in drink. 😉

  14. I lived in the Detroit area for the first 35 years of my life. When we moved into the city proper, it was to a neighborhood on its way down, and we were surrounded by families on welfare. On thing I discovered is that some of those families had been on welfare for two, three, even more generations, which meant each succeeding generation grew up never seeing anyone in the house go to work on a regular basis.

    That simple thing – the concept of showing up somewhere everyday, whether you wanted to or not – is the big thing the kids never learned, that no government job training program can teach. It’s not even addressed, and that, I believe, is why so many of these programs fail. Most of the trainees simply go back to the family business, and learn to “work the system.”

    The Detroit media used to refer to this group of people as “the hard-core unemployable,” whenever yet another wonderful, costly job training scheme was launched. I just refer to the “professional poor.”

  15. Feeding the hungry of the world– there’s another way to look at that goal. Not to give them food, but to make it so there is food. Nobody this generation is going to feed a crowd off of two loaves and three fish, so if that’s all that can be produced you’re up a river.

    1. To clarify: if the US didn’t control water so we aren’t flooding our land, and so that we can irrigate, we couldn’t feed ourselves.

      If we didn’t use various technologies to control pests, improve output, improve the soil, distribute the food around the world– we couldn’t feed ourselves.

      But we’re so good with technology that we can afford to build houses on farmland that happens to be near a city.

      1. The simple truth is that both Malthus and Paul Erlich were dead wrong.
        Modern farming creates enough food so that no one need go hungry in the world. That so many do is a matter of distribution and politics.
        On a related note, how completely obscene is it to take perfectly good grain and convert it to second rate fuel when we’re sitting on hundreds of years of fossil fuel resources? Priced any beef lately? And if we’re feeling the pinch here how much worse for those less fortunate?
        And Ringo has an excellent discussion on modern farming methods in “The Last Centurion” along with numerous observations on the differences between traditional American culture and some others.

        1. My folks are beef ranchers. We’ve noticed how the production costs are going up– and I actually shocked my mom with what their “we have to spare from the half a beef a year for pay” gifts were WORTH to my family, using the loss-leader prices.

          Incidentally, part of the rise in cost is from the Forest Service finding reasons to kick ranchers off of their leases…which also increases the cost of public land, and the damage from forest fires.

          1. Don’t forget that ethanol, with its higher water content, tends to increase the rate at which engines rust out. Just a little benefit to the economy, getting older cars off the roads while stimulating new car sales.

            Suppressing rant about Obama “cash for clunker” idiocy.

        2. Just a little clarification about modern farming and production. At the beginning of the 20th Century, more than 50% of land was used for farming, whether it was any good for it or not. Today, less than 2% of land is used for farming. IIRC, more than six times that amount is in “farm banks” – land that lies fallow, but the ownership gets paid NOT to grow stuff on it. Yet we produce enough food to feed ourselves and export tens of thousands of tons of food DAILY. There is very little “free market” in farming today — almost all of it is regulated six ways from Sunday. If American farmers were totally unleashed, there’s nowhere in the world that would truly suffer from hunger based on lack of food. They may not be able to afford it, but it would be available.

  16. The biggest nonsense in the world today is all the folderol over “genetically modified” foods. Everything we eat has been genetically modified — either by millenia of selecting the best seeds for next year’s crop, “hybridizing”, or by human intervention. If we tried to live today on what grew “naturally” before all the modification, we’d have a population of about 50 million. Worldwide. And it would take all day every day to gather enough to have something that would tide us over for the next season of plenty.

    The biggest reason GM foods are being villianized is because they distort competition. The people that don’t use them produce less. The amount produced goes up, so the price per unit drops. All the wailing and screaming is just a matter of political posturing.

    The truth is, if we were to produce a low-cost genetically-modified hybrid (miracle rice, anyone?) that would produce a crop even in the worst soils in Africa, hunger would cease to be a major issue (the biggest problem in Africa isn’t food, but clean water — more people die from water-borne diseases than from starvation. That includes malaria.).

    1. The truth is, if we were to produce a low-cost genetically-modified hybrid (miracle rice, anyone?) that would produce a crop even in the worst soils in Africa, hunger would cease to be a major issue (the biggest problem in Africa isn’t food, but clean water — more people die from water-borne diseases than from starvation. That includes malaria.).

      Keeping people from destroying what you’ve got is a root cause– be it the source of clean water (stealing the pump parts, pooping in the watersource, cleaning dead animals in the water) or stealing from farmers/ranchers because that’s easier than growing it yourself.

      Some variation of the solution that was used in the West as recently as a century back– my great grandparents ran the Indian school in part because that meant taking care of their employee’s kids, and as abused as the vigilante gangs going after killer Indians was, it frequently did work. (My godfather’s father was killed in the last “Indian raid” in California; I don’t know how typical it was, but think along the lines of a bunch of guys who got kicked out of any social group roving around being barbaric. They know that they got the right murderers because, besides the scalps, they’d taken the mustache of one of the guys who had a really impressive ‘stache. The vigilantes then turned around and put the widows into poverty to pay for stopping the murderers. Rumor has it that some of the vigilantes weren’t too careful about getting the right guys, and that some tried not to take what little the widows and fatherless kids had.)

    2. You’re trying to make too much sense of the objections to GM foods. Just remember that anti-GM Foods protestors shout “Monsanto!” like anti-Iraq protestors shouted “Halliburton!”

      Other objections are even stupider, like the push for labeling. If a regular tomato isn’t going to alter my DNA, a GM one isn’t either. Human being don’t incorporate the DNA of the food they eat.

      It’s kind of like the superstition that surrounds irradiated food. Sure, if your only source of information about what Radiation does is “Them!”, it might seem like a bad thing, but imagine a world where your food lasts longer and Salmonella poisoning and food recalls are as forgotten as Polio and Smallpox.

      1. As I understand the complaints, it is that GM food does not self-reproduce (? can’t think of the term; I’m an accountant, not a farmer, dammit) — meaning that seed must be bought again every year, making the grower dependent on the producer, unable to reserve a portion of the crop for next year’s seed corn.

        I don’t say I share that concern, but I recognize it.

        1. Some have . . . I think it’s called the knockout gene? So the seeds don’t sprout. The others are frequently hybrids, so the next generation won’t be of a consistent type. The main problems are Monsanto’s contracts (gee, a major corporation jerking the basic suppliers around? Trying to control their future output? Where have I heard that before?)and the over use of herbicides, once the crop is resistant to the specific herbicide.

          The “Not safe to eat GMO” scare is mind boggling.

          1. Thanks, Pam, for expressing what I was grasping for as to the problem with GM foods.

            Typical Progs, eh? Even when they are right to object to something they manage to find the wrong reason for doing so. “Frankenfood” my broad & hairy! Just think how bad they would be if the Progs were “anti-science” instead of pro.

          2. Funny point:
            “knockout genes” got popular at the insistence of Green groups; I don’t have citations, I remember reading about it in the Capital Press and such while I was growing up; the idea was that it would keep any harmful genes from infecting surrounding stuff, because it can’t reproduce. (stuff like seedless watermelons, obviously, are also dead-ends)

            I actually don’t mind the “all spliced stuff has to be unable to reproduce” rules, it prevents the most obvious issues.

            1. The bad thing I hear about the terminator gene is that it can cross-breed with natural versions and prevent the succeeding generation from reproducing.

              1. “The bad thing I hear about the terminator gene is that it can cross-breed with natural versions and prevent the succeeding generation from reproducing.” Now that, if true, is a reasonable objection and something that the laws of trespass and nuisance ought to be able to address.

                If the problem were only that the product doesn’t self-reproduce, which makes you go back to Monsanto for next year’s crop, then it seems to me the solution is to refuse to buy from Monsanto and plant heirloom instead. So what if your heirloom crop doesn’t produce as much? Figure in what you’re saving from not having to buy new seed and decide which is better for you, but quit squawking. Or develop your own darn strains of seed.

              2. “The bad thing I hear about the terminator gene is that it can cross-breed with natural versions and prevent the succeeding generation from reproducing.”

                If you think about it, Wayne, you’ll realize that that can’t be true.

                1. Not certain that it can’t be true – it’s entirely possible that the fertilized zygote could develop, yet the product of that would not be able to be successfully fertilized.

                  I don’t know if that’s the way it works, or if it’s simply that the pollen from the ones with the terminator gene “fertilize” the others but then the zygotes do not grow, or if there is yet some other mechanism.

                  1. The product would be a mule, based on your thesis.

                    Unless, of course, SPQR was making a Schwarzenegger film jest, in which case the resultant product would be a paradox.

          3. Pam– some of my inner circle who are terrified of GMO products are the chronically ill patients, who have found out that their diseases have been caused by a combination of gene and trigger. The triggers have turned out to be industrial products or some of them (qualifier because silica is a trigger for this disease in some people). We think that trichloroethylene, a product that was used in the Navy to clean certain electronic components, was a possible trigger (or combo trigger) for my disease. So the patients with my disease feel they have a reason to be concerned. The rest of the objectors? Honestly, I don’t know their reasons…

            The reason my disease is so terrifying other than it does cause death 🙂 is because each individual who gets this disease have different triggers. The scientists have given up on triggers because they can’t find a single cause: this disease has multiple causes. It is a very individual disease because it has different symptoms for each person, different causes, and is hard to diagnose. So yes, these type of people have cause for concern. It might not be true that GMO is unhealthy for them, but they are very distrustful. I haven’t found a reason to consider GMO unhealthy for me– but I stay vigilant because I don’t trust any processed food either unless I have a hand in the processing. *sigh

            1. I sympathize. And I don’t mean to sound like I am blocking out the possibility of problems. It’s the “Latest Big Scare!!!!!” knee jerk reaction to GMO that irritates me.

              The Roundup ready stuff, by it’s very nature allows much more of the pesticide to be used. Anyone chemically sensitive . . . could have an issue. And people with serious food allergies could get a nasty surprise if the gene swapped from one plant to another turns out to be a trigger. And as you say, and know personally, things other than allergies can be triggered.

              But frankly? It’s the stuff we allow to be put into foods deliberately that scares the hell out of me.

              1. Yes–to what is put in our foods. I can’t heat HFCS or any other corn syrup. Plus some of the ingredients gives me headaches.

                I agree about the next big scare. GMO has been around longer than the reaction to it. I am now using baking soda and vinegar as cleaning problems because I have problems with some chemicals now (the perfume stuff–gives me hives).

                Those of use with immediate reactions to chemicals are a small portion of the population. I do believe that more people have reactions that take longer to overcome the natural defenses of the body.

                1. And they use it as filler in so many things! Or maybe to sweeten it enough to start a cycle of cravings. Same with the artificial sweetners. I’ve become a compulsive label reader. Not that it does me much good.

                  1. me too– and yes, not that it does me much good. *sigh I had to get rid of my favorite blueberry syrup when I realized that the HFCS was not doing me any good.

                  2. Robert is horribly allergic to it. When we found this out, we cut it out of our diet. The entire family lost twenty pounds a piece even though back then we were still eating sugar. And Pam, read Gary Taubes. no, seriously.

          1. Bananas don’t reproduce. They’re all clones of just a few progenitors. They’ve already lost the most common to diseases that the whole variety was vulnerable to.

              1. If all those sex ed classes would just stop using them for condom demonstrations! Sorry. It’s still too early for rational thought, and I’m out of caffeine . . .

                1. Funny (though somewhat in the “tragicomedy” vein) story about condom demonstrations and bananas…

                  Last year I heard a colleague talk about a previous job she’d had somewhere in Africa (I forget where exactly) helping out with AIDS prevention education. She discovered something about the way the condom demonstrations were done, and how the men attending the classes were understanding the information. See, it seems the men thought they were being taught a magic ritual to keep AIDS away. So from that point on, before they visited a prostitute, they would perform the ritual exactly as they’d been taught: they would buy a condom and a banana, place the condom on the banana, and put it somewhere nearby while they, ahem, availed themselves of the prostitute’s services. Afterwards, they would remove the condom from the banana and throw both away.

                  The lesson my colleague took away from this? Understanding culture, and how people think, is very important. And the way the condom demonstrations were presented needed to be entirely re-thought.

                  1. This brings to mind the story (I expect all here are familiar with it) of the problem they discovered impeding efforts to promote sale and use of baby food in Africa. Because Africa is a large and diverse land, with many languages and cultures, manufacturers use pictures on labels to identify the contents of the jar or tin. So all those jars proudly displaying happy, smiling babies on the label …

      2. Then you have people like the genius who wrote this list, who can’t even get consistency within a single list. #3 mentions Canola Oil as healthy, then #20 calls it an evil GM product (even though it went on the market before actual artificially genetically modified organisms were allowed out of the laboratory.

        There might be things on that list which are not healthy, but I certainly would not use it as a guide.

      3. When I encounter someone all spun up about irradiated food I simply tell them that I know of stores that are selling irradiated products right now and they aren’t even labeled. Then I tell them that I’m talking about raisins.
        All sun dried food is by definition irradiated, and by thermonuclear energy to boot.
        In a similar vein, I’ve been known to point out to greens that all energy is nuclear in nature. The only differences are the transfer mechanisms and whether the source is rocks from the ground or that big fusion reactor 93 million miles over there.
        Some people seem to always get very put out with me. I can’t for the life of me understand why.

    3. The two biggest objections to GMO foods are (a) fear of the unkown, and (2) Monsanto are dickheads, and the USG and whomever it is that decides what is and isn’t patentable world wide are enablers of this dickheadedness.

      No, really. The biggest “issue” with GMO foods is the fear–with absolutely no evidence–that GMO foods are dangerous. This is usually spouted by folks who take street drugs from marijuana (grown by criminals, shipped by criminals and distributed by criminals) to MDMA/X, LSD and etc–drugs made in UNLICENSED LABS by criminals who often don’t even have DEGREES IN PHARMACOLOGY!!!!! (diseased mind).

      The second biggest “issue” with GMOs is that Monstanto has been absolutely insane at prosecuting their patents, and people who have experienced donated genes from pollen from nearby fields are getting sued by the assholes. The first suit should have been:

      Judge: Let me get this straight, pollen drifted from Mr. Jones’ field to Mr. Smith’s field and put YOUR patented material into HIS crops?

      Lawyer for Monsanto: “Yes, your Honor”.

      Judge: “So basically you’re suing Mr. Smith because that’s the way plants work”.

      LfM: “Yes, your Honor”

      Judge: “Bailiff, take Monsanto’s lawyers out back and either shoot them or beat them to death, whatever makes you happiest. Mr. Smith, I’m sorry these dickheads wasted your time and caused you stress. Send me an invoice for your lawyer fees and time, I’ll make sure Monsanto pays it AND a big ass fine for abuse of process”.

      I think I’ve posted this here before:

      1. And I’d add, “You get to pay damages to your neighbors for trespassing on their crops and infecting them with a gene that prevents them from reproducing properly. Next time you come up with a handy gene like that, make sure it stays on your own property or get ready to pay more damages.”

    4. Sorry this took so long got to researching & reading.

      The “Not safe to eat GMO” scare is mind boggling.


      Anti-GMO links:







      Pro-GMO links for fairness:




      We are barely and slowly getting a handle on the bio-chem. nutritional science of the current unmodified food sources. GMO are in the US regulated by the FDA, and how many drugs/engineered products are recalled each year because of unintended side-effects? Example: Olestra.

      We need to place warning lables on all the drugs we cook up, but some how it’s crazy if we sugest the same for GMOs….

      Final link thought on GMO:


      Bonus links:

      When you don’t fight nature you can do some amazing things. Food shortages and famine is a man made economic phenomenon. 




      On a personal one on one level:



      Now to get back to the original topic of the blog post. You want to pull people out of or help the poor read Muhammad Yunus’s books. Someone with real world experience in doing just that.


      My 2 cents or in this case a buck 50.

  17. I am pained to disagree with you, but I want to feed all the poor; I just don’t go about it the way all the Good People do. When somebody asks me to donate money to “Feed the Hungry” the first thing I do is ask them about their program. “When do you plan to shoot Greenpeace?” I ask. Because, frankly, the first step toward feeding the poor of the world is to take all the anti-genmod greenies in the world out behind the barn and (as The Who put it) “let the Shotgun sing its song”.

    Want to feed the poor? The way to do that is to make them as rich in the third world as we are in the West. And that is hardly impossible. Contrary to the Intellectualoid Idiots who still believe that property is theft, what needs to happen is to spread the industrial revolution, encourage an Islamic reformation (with, sadly, attendant “30 years’ war”), and generally speaking keep the do-gooders the hell out of the way.

    But I’m a Crank.

    1. Oh, yes. I agree with you. You know that. I just don’t think we should be handing food out to everyone. What we’re doing to Africa’s economy isn’t even funny.

      1. My hope for the Twenty-First Century is that I will live to see the inhabitants of the Third World put their brown bare feet up the lily-white behinds of the various fools who want to keep their cultures ‘unspoiled’.

        I get particularly enraged when I see some animal loving idiot bemoaning the fate of one predatory species or another, when I know damn well that most of the conservation programs for such put the lives of (say) tigers above the lives of poor first farmers.


    2. You’re a crank in good company, assuming you’d consider me good company.

      My biggest regret from my time in the Navy was that for all the time I spent in southern California I only saw one Greenpeace idiot, and I was running late for a movie so I couldn’t stop and make her cry.

      1. For a while I lived in Bethesda MD, and for some reason we got more door-to-door petition gatherers than I have experienced before or since. One day a particularly insistent little twit (who wanted me to sign some sort of Environmental petition) caught me feeling Crank enough to explain to her that I believed that nine out of ten ‘Environmental Crises’ in the United States would be significantly ameliorated by executing the board of directors of The Sierra Club.

        Funny, we didn’t get so many petitioners after that……

        But there was certainly something odd about that neighborhood. There was a Church at the end of our street (some brand of Protestant, don’t remember which) and its signboard was clearly under the direction of a cliche ridden loon. He (or She) never quite posted “Drop kick me, Jesus, through the goal posts of life”, but it came close every week. We consequently called the Church “Our Lady of the Perpetual Platitudes”.

        Maybe it was something in the water….

        1. My favorite church sign in recent years was the one I drove by recently that said:


          1. For values of “recently” that include “2-3 years ago”, come to think of it. My, does time fly.

          2. There was a sign on a mailbox north of Camp Lejuene, NC in 1987 that read:
            Jesus Saves

            and one immediately under it with a different color background and printing:
            Firewood For Sale


          3. I kinda liked the one a local store-front Pentecostal group had: “Want to shock your parents? Come to early worship!”

    3. You are not a crank; I am a crank.

      When somebody talks to me about “feeding the poor” my response is: to what do you wish to feed them?

  18. Oh, ya’ll will luuuuv this tidbit from the Wall Street Journal yesterday. The government of India has decided that all Indians have a Right to Food just as they have rights to free speech and equality under the law. Because what on Earth (or any other known planet in this version of reality) could possibly go wrong with the government insisting that all people have food? Meanwhile, Argentina has passed a law allowing the police to confiscate grain from corporations (and presumable farmers) in order to “secure domestic supply at export prices.” http://www.buenosairesherald.com/article/135297/govt-applies-antihoarding-law-to-secure-wheat-supply

    1. They’d do well to remember Robert A. Heinlein’s wise counsel:

      Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.
      This is known as “bad luck.”

    2. 1. I won’t cry for you, Argentina. You brought this on yourself.

      2. Meanwhile, in the good ole USA:

      Right after tornadoes devastated parts of OK in the spring, state authorities immediately got boot on the ground in the affected areas.

      Assessing damage, you ask? Delivering emergency services and aid? Kickstarting the rebuilding? Silly, silly questions!

      They were there to crack down on potential or actual “price gouging”.

      3. Oklahoma is a red state and the state government is solidly Republican.

      Note to self: remember to bring this up the next time somebody says I’m too harsh about today’s GOP.

      1. Republicans, generally, are not conservatives *politically* they are social conservatives.

        At least 1/3 of the republican party are moderate to socialist in most areas, but are either gun nuts or extremely religious. This is why progressives like Newt Gingrich and Romney can call themselves “Republican” and not get laughed at.

        1. “Gun nut” and “extremely religious” defined as “do not want to ban all guns yesterday” and “do not believe religion is a disease.”

          1. Yep, most so-called social conservatives (not all there are some who deserve the name) in actuality simply have a moral belief system of their own. Unlike the so-called liberals they don’t want to enforce their moral system (or amoral as the case may be) on others, but they do want to follow it themselves, and it is a prerequisite of all the religions I am familiar with to believe that your religion is the right one. Simply because I believe my religion is right does not make me a ‘social conservative’, nor does it mean I advocate requiring all other citizens follow my religion. Certain religions (Islam), or moral belief systems do incorporate a requirement of all citizens following them; thus they are fundamentally incompatible with American values of freedom of religion.

          2. Courtesy of the bloggers at Powerline, from their “The Week In Pictures” feature:

            Please put all beverages and food stuffs down before viewing and restore laptop monitors to fully upright position. Management not responsible for harm to your stupid computer.

            1. That’s a guy I’d like to have as a neighbor. Then, when the fit hits the shan, I can borrow a weapon and a few rounds of ammunition, and cover his back! My guns are still at my brother’s in Houston, and I probably won’t be able to get them back before I need them… 8^(

          3. Gun nuts as in “draw the line here” and extremely religious as “anti-abortion in the general case”.

            Basically Guns and Abortion.

            1. Put this in your search engine and prepare for the stoopid: If my vagina was a gun,.texas

              It is even worse than you think it will be.

      2. I don’t get anti-gouging laws the least little bit. I’d say the way to protect desperate people against gouging is to get your own butt in there and offer them the stuff they need at what you think is a “reasonable” price, or for free, if it belongs to you and you feel like giving it away. That way they’ll be free to turn down the “gougers,” who will adjust their prices in response. Any other approach just ensures that there will be shortages of critical goods in an emergency.

        1. I have less sympathy than you do, because I set aside the money and bought the generator I knew I would need in advance; Piss-poor planning on others’ part does not constitute an emergency on mine, and trying to protect fools from folly is the root of most of our problems.

        2. Price controls and anti-gouging laws promote shortages. In the worst situations the populace buys up all the cheap, price-controlled goods and then resells it on the black market. A half-second thought on the part of local and state government would make them realize that a) once it goes to the black market, emergency services can’t find it through regular vendors, and b) once it goes to the black market they can’t tax it at the higher rate so they are losing revenue
          I can see that the brilliant thinkers planning for emergencies want to avoid the evil shylocks getting rich on the misfortunes of others (and so earn political capital for themselves), but the rules of economics do not cease to operate because of a declaration of emergency.

          1. Funny thing about price controls and anti-gouging laws, they are only ever implemented on items the politicos deem important. Even with massive ammunition and reloading component shortages, I have not heard a whisper about there needing to be any price controls (not that I think they would be a good idea) and amazingly enough, the free market seems to be handling this quite well on its own.

            1. For government intervention in the ammunition market for some values of government the CMP has sold a fair quantity of M118 over the period of shortage and currently. There’s a fair quantity of assorted Hornady loads in stock there currently.

            2. The purpose of price controls and anti-gouging legislation has nothing to do with protecting the public from exploitation. The arguments against rent-control, for example, are so well-established that they are basic economic doctrine.

              The purpose of price controls and anti-gouging legislation is entirely about the politicians’ need to look like they are addressing public concerns. At best they are economic placebos, at worst they make the “patient” worse, but none of that is relevant to their purpose. They are the political-economic equivalent of patent medicine, and are frequently as toxic.

          2. ” A half-second thought on the part of local and state government…”
            Governments can think?

            1. Government is made up of people. _People think_. nfortunately the people running things are trying to get out without causing waves that would affect their access to nice things and their pension, and the underlings can go along or have a miserable time.
              Thinking is contraindicated if you are looking for success by these criteria.

              1. “Thinking is contraindicated if you are looking for success by these criteria.”


    3. Everyone does have a right to food, just as they have a right to free speech, freedom of religion and the right to reasonable arms for protection of self and others.

      Your right don’t obligate me to buy you a gun, build you a church, let you borrow my press or buy your food.

      Rights are simply that which no one has the moral authority to prevent you from acquiring or exercising. The only obligation it places on other is not not make the acquisition of those things any more difficult than reality insists they be.

  19. Hey, I grew up in Detroit! Now there is a place of liberal utopia! My question is, and it will be very relevant soon, is how many of those people could support themselves if welfare stopped? I believe that almost all of them could do something useful and would survive if needed. Or would we have mass starvation in the street? I’m not ok with that since it starts with the kids.

    1. Oops, this was a response to Trudy, but I messed up. Just picture it up above…

      1. I’ve actually eaten raccoon for Thanksgiving. We had a Thanksgiving when I was about 14 when everything on the table was produced by members of the family, including a raccoon Dad had killed a few weeks earlier. It was greasy, but it tasted fine. Of course, both Mom and Dad were third-generation (or more) Southern… 8^)

    2. Humans are smart and clever beings. If you provide the right incentives, they learn quickly.

      However, humanity is comprised of individuals. Some are going to be too old, too young, or too broken to effectively care for themselves. Others will be so stuck on the old way of doing things that they will refuse to acknowledge things have changed, and cry out for intervention and protection. (We see this from the professional poor to the publishing industry; it’s a human thing.) Some will turn to crime, as they think the adrenaline rush and the status of being “the toughest dawg”, combined with a lazy lifestyle of living off the last mammoth, er, mugging victim’s purse, until they get hungry, is easier/better than the fearful unknown of daily commitment and grind involved in punching a time clock.

      Many will promptly get off the system. Some of these will succeed well, some will get by, and some will make poor choices that fail badly. Some will run afoul of bad luck. Some will be helped by random good luck. Some, like Booker T. Washington, will turn around and dedicate their lives to helping those around them. Some, like Jesse Jackson, will make their living as entertainers/agitators/parasites by singing the soothing song that responsibility, and the blame for poor choices, is Not Their Fault.

      Will some kids starve in the street if we remove the social safety net? Absolutely. Do some kids starve in the street right now, because their mothers value drugs over food, their fathers are unknown, and the culture around them doesn’t care? Absolutely. There is no perfect solution.

      Look, when the Katrina refugees started coming into northern Louisiana, one common tactic was for a mother to abandon her kids in the front yard of an occupied house, leaving them to cry themselves all alone and starving. When kind-hearted victims took them in and fed them, they really were hungry. (Their mother certainly wasn’t going to feed them; that was for the “rich” to do.) The slightly older hungry kids escorting the hungry babies were also scoping the inside of the house for robbery later, and anything, especially drugs in the bathroom cabinet, they could pickpocket while there.

      Knowing this was a common tactic, would you take in and feed three children abandoned on your front lawn?

      On the other hand, if you mean starving to death… look, this is America, where our biggest problem with the poor is obesity. If you freed the people to create businesses, hire people, and have trade with each other, at the same time as you release all the captive labor from the welfare market… no, you would not have mass starvation.

      1. A solution: social services take any kids that are abandoned on lawns.

        More short term: if it’s not cold, time for a picnic!

      2. On a related note: my husband refuses to let us have any signs that say something like “Baby on board” or those (I think silly) stick figure families that scream “Hey, look, the adults here have a lot of possible captives– good target!”

          1. That gives me a NASTY idea on how to make a ton of money. Instead of dinosaur and alien, include an M-1 Abrams tank, an Apache Longbow attack helicopter,an M-108 155MM howitzer, a rack of AR-15 rifles, crossed swords, or whatever, with the sign “rapid response tools” underneath.

        1. Saw this response sticker on the back of a big honking Escalade in Texas the other day: “I don’t care about your stupid stick family” and the image was a similar, big-wheeled, SUV running over stick figures.

          Loved that!

        2. A gun blogger put together a stick figure version of a single Tuskan Raider with the caption “My family walks single file to hide their numbers”.

    3. I think some people would manage, but there would be others who would not; especially if there is no longer any drug economy. The way it seems to work is that the basics come from the gov, and the luxuries come from a little dealing on the side. It would take some time for the light to go on, and many would suffer.

      1. Sometimes I wonder if the War on Drugs isn’t a measure to placate some of the most violent areas of the big cities. Keep the price high, at all costs!

    4. Most of them could not.

      Way back in the day I had an acquaintance who had studied Russia in college, and then gone on to study law. I think Russian Lit and history is probably as good a preperation for Law School as any, but…

      We got in a dicussion one day, and this is over 20 years ago so I’m a bit foggy as to the details, but his opinion of Stalin was that a much of his brutality was necessary to bring Russia into the modern age, that for a modern, industrial economy to exist *everyone* had to have three concepts–time, money and one other which escapes me. If, at the time of the Russian Revolution you told a Russian peasant to be at the train station at 10 AM he showed up around dawn because he knew 5 times a day: Waking, dawn, noon (lunch), dusk (dinner), and bed time. And often bed time wasn’t much after dusk.

      That was Russia in the 1920s and 1930s.

      In the modern era you not only need the concepts of time, but ideas like proper decorum, proper dress, how to keep your f*ing mouth shut and do your d*mn job, and frankly the denizens of our inner cities (and this is not a *race* issue, it’s a *culture* issue) can’t do things like show up for work on time with reasonable levels of cleanliness and focus on their work.

      We can’t have a conversation about race because if you don’t blame whites for it, you’re a racist pig.


      I don’t know if the above is legitimate, but I know that I’ve met a lot of blacks who *aren’t* like that, but none of them come from large urban areas, and especially not the city centers. The blacks I’ve seen from city centers and large urban areas tend to act like that in public, but I don’t know how they are on the job.

      1. You’ve hit the heart of it: it’s not the race, it’s the culture. My former roommate (he moved out when he got married) from Chad was nothing like that, and neither were the relatives that I met around the time of the wedding. Whereas Theodore Dalrymple’s writings about the poor in Great Britain (most of whom are white, I believe, though I’ve never seen Dalrymple mention the race of the people he writes about) seem eerily close to the attitudes mentioned in that article.

        It’s not the race, it’s the culture. The chains that keep most people in poverty are in their minds: the worldview they hold, the attitude that working hard at a job is for chumps or suckers, the idea that the world is out to get them…

        It’s not the race, it’s the culture.

  20. Sarah, your example of the neighborhood nuclear power plant as something that might have been developed without government interference in research is a poor one. I am aware of at least two companies, one Japanese, who are going through the certification process for those already. The Japanese one is buried, unmanned and good for ten years, after which you dig it up and swap it out for a new one. The old one goes back to the factory to be refurbished.

    I have also run across a group that is developing a sub-critical, thorium reactor that uses an accelerator to keep the fission going (shades of Blowups Happen, but not so huge or close to criticallity).

    1. How is it a poor example? How much longer and how much more expensive is the process for simply being allowed to build those things than it would be if the government weren’t so overbearing? Granted that nuclear power is a tad dangerous, but the legal hurdles are insane.

    2. Bah, you’ve just hit on one of my pet peeves. A sub critical reactor is simply one in which power is decreasing. A critical reactor is one with a stable power output, there is absolutely nothing exciting or dangerous about it. A supercritical reactor is one with increasing power. That’s pretty much never something to be excited about, but it could be trouble if you were near a thermal limit.

      Both of the major accidents in western nuclear power, Three Mile Island and Fukushima, occurred in sub critical reactors.

      1. And LockMart is saying that they are going to be able to deliver self-contained FUSION reactors the size of a tractor trailer by 2018.

            1. It’s an old joke that we will have fusion power in ten years, plus or minus 30.

  21. Feed a man and you’ve fed him for a day. Teach him to fish, and you’ve fed him for life.

    1. Build a man a fire, he’s warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he’s warm for the rest of his life. 🙂

      1. Feed a man a fish and you have to worry about feeding him tomorrow.
        Feed a man to the fish and they will stay fed for a week, depending.

    2. Give a man a fish and he will eat for the day. Teach him to fish and he will sit in a boat and drink beer all day.

    3. Maxim 21: Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Take his fish away and tell him he’s lucky just to be alive, and he’ll figure out how to catch another one for you to take tomorrow.

      (From The Seventy Maxims of Maximally Effective Mercenaries)

        1. It looks like a bit of myopia on my part may have lead you astray.

          I had intended the post as a joke, quoting one of the fictional Maxims from the webcomic Schlock Mercenary (31st century space opera, basically, focusing on a mercenary company a la David Drake’s Hammer’s Slammers). Sorry if I caused any confusion.

          1. No. I was just amused at the thought that governments can too follow the same rules, only they don’t work quite that way. Instead people stop fishing, etc… 😉

            1. Ah, okay. Confusion cleared. And, yes, it is amusing how many government types assume that what they do will have no effect on the behaviors of others, if in a somewhat skewed variety of amusement (if for no other reason than laughing beats crying 😛 ).

              1. “…many government types assume that what they do will have no effect on the behaviors of others

                And yet they advocate fine tuning the tax code to encourage desired behaviour while assuming nobody will engage in undesired behaviour to avoid taxes. It seems psychotic thinking is either a prerequisite or a consequence of working the government. (Admittedly, it could easily be both.)

                [Insert Cersei Lannister style governance reference]

      1. Give him a maxim and he can engage in highway robbery to his heart’s content?

  22. I think that we do work for status but mostly I think that humans work because of insecurity. Same reason we hoard stuff. (Otherwise known as “planing rationally for future scarcity.”)

    If people are secure with 10K and three room mates, then why not relax?

    All human advancement, though, is dependent on some people, at least, working until they have a surplus. A surplus allows experiment and innovation because without a surplus you can’t risk that something won’t work.

    1. Same reason we hoard stuff.
      *wryly looks at full freezer, bunch of ready-to-eat soup they hardly touch, closets full of Materials, all bought at A Really Good Price*

      Yeah, you’re telling me….

        1. You have to remember to eat the stuff in the freezer. We found 3 year old meat at the bottom of the freezer last year. Since then we usually don’t buy sale stuff unless we eat it right away or we’re out of it.

          1. Not to mention when the freezer dies–and it seals so well it’s at least a week before you finally track down that faint odor . . .

              1. Yeah. You were lucky. My luck involved said freezer being five feet from an outside door. We manhandled outside, and left it sealed until the wee hours of garbage day. An unpleasant few hours, hose and soap. All done.

          2. Every time I house-sit for my parents, I go through the freezer and remove the most mysterious of the mystery packages. Chopped beef kidney for the cat they had 20 years ago? Check. Three pieces of bacon with a pre-9/11 use-by date? Check. And chunk, if there’s been enough freezer burn. I really wonder if my cousins dared to empty out Great Aunt D’s big deep-freezer after she died, or if they welded the lid shut and had all of it hauled off to the dump. The power had been intermittently off and on while she was hospitalized, and this was Houston in August, with the freezer in the garage.

      1. Not to mention several large plastic storage boxes full of yarn my wife has accumulated over the past 20+ years. She does use some of it from time to time, but most of it sits…

  23. There is a pair of Jewish concepts called the good inclination (yetzer ha-tov) and the evil inclination (yetzer ha-ra). Tradition says that the fact that humans were created with the yetzer ha-ra (which is why we would ever build a house, marry, be acquisitive, etc) is why God said that the sixth day was “very” good.

    1. Oooh, the Two Wolves story! (There’s two wolves in our nature, along the lines of those described, and the punchline is “the one you feed is the one that wins.”)

      1. Not quite: the two wolves story implies that one should not feed one of them. The Jewish teaching is that the innate creation of attributes like envy and acquisitiveness is responsible for good things, and needs to be channeled (“yoked” in the language of the rabbis) rather than let run loose, but without the inclination (ie if we let one of the wolves starve) we would no longer be human.

    2. One of the concepts I like from Judaism (and pardon me if I’m getting it wrong — I know it mostly from reading) is that those with great potential for evil have great potential for good, it’s all on how you channel it. So if you know yourself to be naturally envious, larcenous and cynical, it’s no cause to despair, but to rejoice. It means you have the virtues of those vices in potentia and in at least equal measure. That idea has helped me and several people in my sphere not give up and (I hope) be better.

  24. A report from Breitbart I saw yesterday:
    http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government … l-time-job
    Less than half of adult Americans have full time jobs. 47% are working full time. The rest, who knows, who cares. If nothing else this says a lot about the Democrats and the press that this isn’t the news, the only news. They ignored the potential consequences and passed Dodd Frank and the ACA. They have insisted on higher and higher taxes. They have assaulted cheap energy. They have chased unicorns for utopia. They are still chasing those unicorns. I predicted that electing the Democrats was like taking a punt gun to the economy. Is this the new normal?
    Just a thought, How many of the full time jobs are government jobs. If it adds another 10% or so to the total of worker that are not full productive workers then the total productive worker count could be as low as 37% or lower. That’s not a percentage for long term growth and stability.

    1. Oh, I think you’re underestimating the number of bureaucrats. I think we have 25% of people, if that, actually working not-in-government. The hour is late.

      1. Somehow, the number 27% kept sticking my head even though I said 37%. 25 or 27 percent trying to support everything else including the mind boggling administrative state is a recipe for disaster. The democrats, have through their recent actions managed to take a very robust society and turn it into a fragile one remarkably quickly. I’ve been reading George Gilder’s new book “Knowledge and Power” which confirms a lot of thing on how Progressives and other systematically replace information with power, always trying to boost the economic signal rather than getting feedback and acting on it.

    1. So long as they’re worth saying– even if marginally so, folks put up with me, no matter the level of sleep-dep or baby-brain– our host is generous.

      1. You know, it’s only in the last 8 years ago or so that I began to realize just how deceitful the Progressive left is. In their search for perfection they even lied to themselves. In their eyes the New Deal was a great success probably because the authors of the disaster told them so from their ivy covered towers. Andrew Mellon and the Schechter Brothers were whited out of history. The little things like price fixing and arrests for economic crimes, the abuse of the IRS, also just whited out. the reputations of those that opposed the New Deal, Tarnished. When the media was by and large controlled by the Progressives that wasn’t too hard. The funny thing is that I, at least, as a kid was told that propaganda was evil. Of course I was also told that we, Americans had a free press. It was free as long as it spoke in one voice, left and lefter. The rot, thought doesn’t go away and the longer it sits the stinkier it gets.

        1. Roughly speaking, true for me as well– I’ve been aware of it since I was 14 or so, so twice the time…but I’m constantly surprised with “of course everyone knows” that are false. (I date it from then because that was when I came home telling my folks about how everyone drafted for ‘nam was either crazy or hated the gov’t, and my dad mildly asked which camp he was in. Dad does almost everything mildly. Drafted and sent to Germany, for those curious.)

        1. I like your cute monster icon and– No, wait, that’s pretty much it. (runs.)
          Actually most of your comments are either relevant or interesting.

          1. Look, this comment thread is over 500. It’s got politics, GMO, electricity for mountain cabins and looking good in pink. I don’t remember the theme of the original post. Do you? Without peeking?

              1. Yep. And we’re deep into banana reproduction, the corruption in India’s government, swords, college, used underclothes . . .

  25. We could feed everybody, but the progs are still limited by their Malthusian thinking. Last week President Obama made a speech essentially banning coal power plants. While this is going to hurt a lot of people, especially in the cities, fracking and abundant natural gas supplies should at least take the sting off somewhat. Green politics, though can have a severe impact in Africa, where not having electricity, poor crops and unnecessary disease can have severe consequences:
    The thing is that even a the president enacts more stringent and costly regulations it’s becoming obvious that all of this is unnecessary:
    Of course to serve his green constituency, Obama gives Africa the elitist finger:

  26. Someone at the panel on transhumanism spoke out against extending life because “we already don’t have enough food to feed everyone.” I couldn’t beat that one down, of course, because it went into politics and policy, into the governments people choose, into how redistribution is always redistribution of famine.

    There are two responses to someone like this. One is “Shut up [your betters | the adults ] are talking. Alternatively “Children should be seen and not heard”.

    This is no matter what their age or level of education. If one is going to inject stupid into a conversation, then one must risk public approbation.

    The other is to say “Name 3 instances of long term famine in the entire world since 1900 that were not caused by governments either taking food from people–as the famines in the Soviet Union were caused by, or by governments preventing food from reaching areas effected by drought–as the purported Somali famine we are so familiar with from the 80s propaganda”.

    We are limited to how many people we can feed by how much nitrogen we can suck out of the air and shove into the ground to produce food. Other than that we have NO WHERE NEAR hit our limits for how much food we can grow, especially if we stop with a lot of the nonsense we’re doing now (growing corn to make alcohol for cars, growing corn to turn into sweetners etc. That corn should be fed to pigs to make bacon and pork and sent to the starving folks in Egypt. Convert or go hungry.)

    It is fashionable in the US to talk about people who are on welfare and don’t work. That is not precisely true. Yes, there are people on welfare who neither have a regular job nor look for one. But what might not be understood is that these people are working: they are navigating the labyrinthine bureaucracy and making sure they meet all the guidelines to keep the money flowing. That is work.

    It might be work, but it’s not anywhere near the work it takes to actually get your butt out of bed in the morning, shower, clean your teeth and get to your place of employment on time (oh for a telecommute job 🙂 ), not to mention actually, you know, doing the work.

  27. Thank you for explaining the Gods of the Copybook Headings. I’ve seen it used before, and I read the poem, but didn’t quite understand it except as a bad thing. Very good blog post, and I agree with it completely.

  28. 2 Thessalonians 3:8-15

    8 Neither did we eat any man’s bread for nought; but wrought with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you:

    9 Not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us.

    10 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.

    11 For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies.

    12 Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.

    13 But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing.

    14 And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.

    15 Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.

  29. Enjoyed the post but it really should have been proof read before posted. And you really shouldn’t do whole paragraphs in parentheses!

    1. This is not my job. The blog doesn’t make nearly enough to support me. My job is writing fiction. These posts are written early morning and pre-caffeine. Yes, I could spend three hours proofing and redacting, but then the three novels a year wouldn’t happen, and the rest of these people (at least 90% of them) would kill me.

      1. OTOH, if you are willing to hit the Tip Jar hard enough to pay her to proof (or hire an editor) I am sure accommodations can be made.

        While it is false to claim “you get what you pay for” it is usually the case that you don’t generally get what you don’t pay for.

    2. She is welcome to do whole paragraphs in parentheses, culottes, clam-diggers, shorts or skirts (of any length) so long as she does them!!!

      Doing whole paragraphs in pantsuits, OTOH, is just wrong.

  30. I’d be willing to accept the idea of a guaranteed minimum income if it came tied with the idea that you had to give up said income in order to vote/hold office/ sit on a jury. Encourage the lazy and stupid to remove themselves from participation in public life. Ideally, this means that the people who run for office and participate in elections are those who’ve chosen to be productive and actively reject government handouts.

  31. I wish this stuff was theoretical to me. I’ve been “working poor”, as my husband didn’t go on disability when I was making good money. When that job went down in the tech bust, we sold the house and went back to trying to live on one paycheck. I’m very familiar with how the food stamp program used to be, starting with commodities but stopping before they started paying people to sign up folks on food stamps. I’ve had friends that referred to their welfare check as their “paycheck”.

    Life is better now. My husband died in 2008. I’ve recovered from that and my boyfriend has disability and two properties. We now spend our time trying to scrape together property taxes to keep the places out of foreclosure. But I wanted to talk about the second place. It has a run down double wide mobile and a bad water system. (We are restricted from upgrading the place as it’s in a flood zone.) We have the stuff to fix the water system. My boyfriend has had people stay at the place in exchange for work. And that is the part that no longer seems to work for us. It started with one woman that had stayed there about 10 years. She turned into a hoarder and spiraled down into meth use. We got her out and allowed a friend of hers to stay. He started out doing an amazing amount of work, but never bothered to fix the water system. Then he went into jail for six months and came out with an attitude problem. We had chickens at the place, but he would never eat the eggs. He couldn’t bother to write down when he had to go to court so he kept getting thrown into jail. Then things went missing. Things have always gone missing at this location. We finally evicted him and are now trying to find someone capable of keeping an eye on the place. There’s no shortage of people wanting to stay there. I know people paying $300 a month to stay in a small travel trailer. It’s finding someone willing to do a minimal amount of work that seems to be the issue.

    I am reading Life at the Bottom and it’s an excellent book. And yes, we are not doing anyone a favor by giving them stuff. I’d like to see a return to commodities, instead of food stamps. Groceries and fast food places make too much off of food stamps for that to happen. We can’t expect people to find jobs in an economy designed to restrict job development. As a culture, we mock the very behaviors that would help poor people get out of poverty. There is no solution here, as politicians see these people as votes that can be bought relatively cheaply.

  32. Why no attribution to Rudyard Kipling, who composed this doggerel ditty in 1919? By “Copybook Headings” he of course meant schoolboy cliches, naive conventional wisdom that nonetheless was absolutely, inescapably and forever true.

    Though reigning political classes may insulate themselves from such peasant reality for a time, absent respectful stewardship Their Lordships’ days are numbered. As Kipling noted in other contexts, genteel sophisticates who believe themselves above the Copybook Gods they will soon discover otherwise.

    1. “Why no attribution to Rudyard Kipling, who composed this doggerel ditty in 1919?”

      Because we all know who wrote it.

    2. Because it’s the Hoyt’s Hun’s blog anthem, and we tend to assume that all parties have it memorized, nevermind knowing the poet. (Despite which, someone is bound to post it or a link to it at least once every couple of weeks.)

      1. Or: For the same reason Lincoln felt no need to cite the source of his “A House divided against itself can not stand” line. Or why Melville didn’t explain what was meant when he had his MC instruct us to “Call me Ishmael.”

  33. Conservatives often assert that everyone could produce enough to survive if only government would get out of their way. This is the fallacy of “survivor bias” — they see millions of poor people working hard and surviving, but don’t see the millions who failed and died of hunger. Retail famine rarely makes headlines, though WSJ recently ran a series called “Starving in India”.

    For any social welfare system to survive long-term (instead of collapsing into North Korean style wholesale famine), all who benefit from the system including those who manage it must be prevented from procreating so as not to create a hereditary parasite class. Poverty, chastity, and obedience.

    1. PFUI. No one EVER asserted that. Is there another straw man you’d like to set on fire? What we assert is that if government lives the productive alone there will be enough and to spare for everyone. A rising tide lifts all boats, etc. If you’re using India as the model of an UNMANAGED economy you just rendered yourself laughable.
      As for preventing people from reproducing — again pfui. When I want to live in a hell hole where someone can tell people when to reproduce and when not to I’ll move to China.

      1. India is a democracy, has a growing high-tech sector, is not at war, and is not suffering adverse weather. About the best one could hope for in the 3rd world, yet people still starve there.

        “As for preventing people from reproducing…”

        That’s cool, because I’m planning to do a Desmond Hatchett and father 30 kids with 11 different women. I’ll earn minimum wage, buy my own food, and send the kids over to your place for dinner.

        1. India is a democracy? Some Indians in their government may claim so, but look at the definition of democracy, then look at India’s government. See many similarities?

          “That’s cool, because I’m planning to do a Desmond Hatchett and father 30 kids with 11 different women. I’ll earn minimum wage, buy my own food, and send the kids over to your place for dinner.”

          If you try and keep 11 women under the same roof I very much doubt you’ll live long enough to father 30 kids, problem solved.

          1. Yes, India is a democracy. It’s also quite corrupt, tied with Greece, Moldova, Senegal, and Colombia in the latest CPI. This is not a contradiction. Elections don’t make people honest, nor do honest people often win elections. India is less socialist than the USA, thanks to widespread tax evasion and the inability to finance government deficits with money-printing (Indians keep their savings in gold, not rupees).

            Desmond Hatchett’s baby mamas don’t live with him, they live in public housing. They’re quite happy with this arrangement, often inviting him over to make another baby. You have no right to expect this to stop, so just shut up and pay your taxes!

            1. So basically, India isn’t an example of a free market economy. That concession is noted.

              As for the baby mamas, so what? Really. So what? Yes, you get a few like that but the vast majority of people in wealthier societies limit their own birthrate to the point that a number are not even reproducing at replacement level. (The US is holding on to that teeth and toenails but the trends show that won’t hold for long.)

              So some people have a lot of kids? It doesn’t _matter_ because a lot of _other_ people don’t have kids at all. The total fertility rate remains close to replacement and falling.

              You’re taking an extreme case and generalizing it fallaciously.

              1. I will say this though, a lot of even such problem as we have would go away if, instead of “forcing people not to have kids” we simply stopped paying them to have more kids.

                1. As that is not politically viable, how about just removing the marriage penalties for having kids and financial issues?

                  When my sister was married, there was a wide range of help that they weren’t eligible for because she had a wedding ring.

            2. Yes I was being facetious about your baby mama’s, more seriously, IF I fed your kids they wouldn’t be going back home to you. I am under no obligation to provide for your kids (regardless of what socialists might think), if I thought they were worth saving I would feed them, but if so I wouldn’t be sending them back to a worthless cull like yourself to raise them to be more worthless culls. Since currently the government won’t allow me to keep them, I see no point in taking care of them for you.*

              *Yes I realize the government currently will take my money and give it to you and your baby mama’s to waste under the guise of taking care of your kids. But this house of cards is fixing to fold, because it is built on the shifting sand of a fabricated economy. When it does what I stated above will apply, I will only bother to help those I deem are worth helping, if I believe I can influence those kids to become worthwhile people I will help them, if feeding them will simply enable you and your baby mama’s to waste the money that could have went to their food on drugs and fancy new bling wheels for your lowrider… well, I could use a new set of wheels also.

              1. Yes.

                The big problem with welfare is not that the women are using the babies to support themselves, it’s that the women who are thus doing it are clearly unfit to raise a child, and throwing money at them does not help.

        2. So you are going to ignore India’s long standing economy-strangling socialist government bureaucracy? Sarah’s entire point in the comment you lamely pretend to be replying to.

        3. I suggest that, in the future, you choose an example you know more about. Your declaration of India’s fortuitous circumstances only demonstrates your ignorance.
          India enjoys quite a few natural advantages. So does Brazil and so did Rhodesia. The same things stop all three: culture and politics. India’s government is endemically corrupt, its culture stratified and broken. They have kept many of the bad cultural artifacts from pre-colonial days, and grafted to them some of the worst that they picked up from the British. The caste structure is still in place, bribery is a necessity, sanitation is poor, property is uncertain, the economy is often governmentally controlled, and as for not being at war, you must never have seen or heard of the signs a mile or more outside every dam, powerplant, or other infrastructure schwerpunkt declaring “No Muslims Beyond This Point.”
          We don’t mind disagreement around here – we thrive on it in fact. But if you’re going to come throw rhetorical hand grenades, get your gorram facts in order, Dave. If that wasn’t your A-game, step it up. If it was, leave that lo-suh at home, sit down, listen, and maybe learn something.

        4. Is the scarecrow market good where you live? Because if you’re going to build strawmen like that, you really should be paid for it.

          The whole “population explosion” thing, and in particular the proposed fixes for population growth, was pretty thoroughly demolished by Jerry Pournelle (among others) forty years ago.

          Look, people, in general, aren’t that stupid. They tend to act, within limits, in their own self interest. This includes having and raising children.

          Take much of the world, economies based on subsistence agriculture and handicrafts. In those circumstances children can be and are put to work from a very young age, working in the fields, herding and milking the cows/goats/whatever, mending and even making the simple clothes they have, and so on. In such circumstances, children add to the family productivity quite readily. People who have a lot of children tend to be better off then their peers who don’t. Add in that the only “security” one might have in one’s old age is to have a lot of children who will take care of one. Children in those circumstances are a net economic benefit to their parents.

          Now contrast the “West”, industrialized and technological. Before children can be made economically productive they require lots of schooling and, frankly, by the time they are economically productive they are generally close to, if not out on their own. Children are a net economic cost to their parents.

          Now look at where we have very high birth rates and natural (by birth as opposed to by immigration) population growth.

          Yes, in the industrialized West, you have the occasional person/couple who has a lot of kids (whether for personal reasons or religious/cultural history reasons). But that’s the exception. People generally choose, on their own, to limit family size because it’s in their interest to do so, to the point where it’s actually becoming a problem in some societies.

          The only place “force” is required is in those poor, subsistence agriculture, societies. Which basically means those doing the forcing are also telling the forced that they want them to be even poorer, because that’s what limiting number of children means to them. And it’s not a mistaken belief. That’s how their economies work.

          There is, however, another approach. It’s called economic growth. As societies become wealthier, they become more industrialized and technological. They start sending kids to school rather than keeping them on the farm. And they learn that they are wealthier than they were before while having fewer kids. Machines make up for what they used to do with children working in the fields. And the children they do have, far fewer than before, go on to be wealthier still.

          But the growth in wealth has to come first. And the best means of creating wealth, bar none, remains free market capitalism.

  34. Social mobility is my concern.

    10 years ago you could get a job as Entry-Level Radiation Control Technician/Health Physicist without a degree. In 5 years you could be making +65K a year as a Sr RCT/HP, a friend of mine makes 75K a year without a degree and he knows people without a degree in the same field making +100K a year. Now, more and more companies are requiring RCT/HPs to have a degree.

    I worked in Radiation, not as an RCT. But no company will hire me because I either do not have a degree or do not have prior experience.

    More companies are requiring two and 4 year degrees for a job that does not rate that level of education. You can teach someone to be a competent RCT in 2 weeks classroom time.

    Soon, and mark my words, you’ll have to attend tech school to flip burgers at McDonald’s.

    1. Yes. But that’s connected to the collapse of public education. Having seen how college Freshmen write and think I wouldn’t hire one of them to sharpen pencils without a competency test. Since I understand those render you open to discrimination suits (it’s impossible to create a test someone can’t claim is racist or sexist) this leaves me with hiring someone with a BA or BS. However, having seen how college seniors write and think–
      Ten years from now you’ll need a MASTERS to flip burgers. And that too is a massive subsidizing of colleges/indoctrination centers.

      1. Yes well, the competency of current school students exmplains why when i went back to college (2004-2007) I managed to graduate magna cum laude…

    2. YES I saw this change happening in the electronic technician careers about the mid-90s. I worked with a few AA’s in that period who couldn’t fix a computer, while folks getting out of the military w/o degrees and not even in the repair shops showed up with more experience and were easier to train.

      1. Between 1984 (when I blew my college education) and 1998, I was told more times than I could count that companies I was applying to for computer jobs would not hire me because I didn’t have a degree. In 1998, with the applicant supply collapsing due to enormous hiring for Y2K, I was able to secure a job doing Tech Support. A few years later, after the excess staff from fixing Y2K bugs in everyone’s code, it’s become difficult again to get a job without a degree, even when the person has several years of experience. Even though a degree from 1985 would be utterly useless today.

        1. YEP– funny the hubby taught electronics in both the Army and Navy, in the field since he was 15, and thinks electronics, but since he doesn’t have that degree (four years), they want him to take novice pay. It is heart-breaking and makes me furious sometimes.

          1. Actually same thing in writing. Until you get that NYT bestseller seal, you take novice pay. Fortunately at Baen that’s “middle pay” at other houses NOW. Eh. We live.

            1. RDF– He did set up mobile satellite antennas for an officer who was inspecting bases… I am not sure the year (early mid 80s?). But he did teach in the Navy EW area (and was one of the authors for the curriculum).

              1. Ok, was wondering, i was an army tacsat/microwave repairer … my joke is i have forgotten more electronics than most will ever know. Now i want to find a refresher course…

                1. He says the same thing lol– but if you want a refresher course, get some old Navy NEETS Modules. They are now digital. As for refresher course other than an old Army/Navy man, I don’t recommend some of them. *sigh

        2. No kiddin, Wayne. Without more current *work*, a degree would mean nothing. Of course, after some of the people I’ve dealt with in the computer industry, I doubt the capabilities of people *with* current degrees.

  35. “The one thing we know is that nothing done by government has ever come in on time or under budget.”

    Not so. In 1988, Sam Schwarz, deputy commissioner for bridges in New York City, succeeded in renovating the Carroll Street Bridge ahead of schedule and under budge.

    Of course, he received an official reprimand for not following proper procedures, so I’m not sure this disproves your point.

      1. I swear that Joser’s step pyramid, built by Imhotep, was that sort of thing. First he had a mastaba built, and when it was finished he still had money and was still alive. So they enlarged it.
        Well, so good, but how big can you make a stone platform before you feel silly? “You want to be able to see if from orbit, maybe? That is impressive of my undying majesty how?” he probably asked Imhotep, architect, prime minister and go-to guy.
        “Right, Boss,” (and it is established in Egyptology studies that the early dynasties did talk like Marx Brother movies,) “maybe we stick another on top of it, right?”
        “OK. But draw up contingency plans if we get more buyers for turquoise and the ivory we took in on that partial trade with Kush – I mean, if we still got money…”
        “OK boss. But there has got to be a limit, after a bit it will look like a set of steps.”
        “Maybe we can get those Goa’uld to park on it, then, eh?”

  36. I am not sure I quite buy some parts of this. I know a fair number of people who are in one way or another unable to find work, and thus staying on whatever welfare programs will take them. And in every case, “status envy” is the wrong criterion to begin with. They want desperately to do productive things, things of value. But they’re poor fits for our society’s model of how entry-level jobs work; say, they have mental disorders that prevent them from living up to those particular standards. (Not that they might not be able to live up to standards we consider “higher”, but those particular standards are beyond them.) So they can’t find anything that lets them move into the rest of society.

    And, of course, the harder we try to prevent “fraud”, the more of their already-limited cognitive or emotional budget for solving problems goes into the one kind of “work” available to them.

    I note: I currently make a respectable living as a moderately senior programmer. But I, too, could not make it in any entry-level work I’ve seen. My disabilities are insurmountable barriers to that work, while once you get to my current level, they’re just amusing quirks.

    1. First, this didn’t apply to people unable to find work in this craptastic economy but to the problem of “the poor we’ll always have” Second, There is no such thing as “will never be able to find a job in this society” or the like. The economy improving and their being willing to change, they will. (This is why I counsel everyone to have multiple skills.) Third — did you READ my post? I wasn’t saying they were receiving money because they were envious. I was saying envy is a good motivator to work/try harder, but few “generational poor” seem to have it.

      1. I read that the average time spent on welfare was about two years, with most of the women surveyed, on average, needing welfare twice in their lives.

        The generational thing going on is a small subset, one that needs desperately to be addressed . . . somehow.

        Two different things, really. We, as a nation, are wealthy enough to have a safety net. It’s the people who mistake it for a hammock that need the boot. And yeah, a real economic recovery will really help.

    2. But I, too, could not make it in any entry-level work I’ve seen.

      Horseshit. I’ve got big problems with that kind of work, too, but I did it for 15 years. If you HAVE to, you will. You find ways of coping with it, even if those ways are constantly moving from job to job because you are always on the lookout for bettering your situation. I had 30 or more jobs in those 15 years. A couple of times it was because I simply couldn’t stand it, most of the time it was to leave one job for another that paid better. Sometimes it was because of downsizing or companies flat going out of business. And I hated almost every one of them. For 15 years.

      1. Of course, one ingredient in that is an attitude that I’ll be damned if I’ll sit back not do my damnedest to take care of myself and my family. This is something that’s not taught to children very much any more.

        1. Duh. If Dan’s job fails and nothing else turns up, we punt to contract work for him, while I write as much as I can. I might also start selling my art (don’t laugh. I’ve seen worse making a living.) There is another side to “If you don’t work you die” — you die inside.

          1. Does anyone buy or sell finished cross-stitch pieces? I started cross-stitching again because I missed the feel of creating something with my hands. I was told recently that cross-stitch is now a lost art… ROFL from a craft store. Dang, it must be lost if they can’t tell the difference between an art and a craft.

            1. Cross Stitch is alive and well. It was the hottest thing before scrapbooking. I’d buy some finished pieces depending.

              1. Thank you 😉 I may just put a few pieces up on my website … I will have to discuss it with the hubby. He just hates selling pieces because it is like selling children. lol

                    1. The secret to sales on eBay or Etsy? Good quality photographs of the work. Oh, and not calling an orange knit hat “Jayne’s Hat” …

          2. Sweetheart, I walk past an art store every day, and I’ve seen worse right there for sale.

          3. Exactly. Had a period of prolonged unemployment like that myself recently. It kills something inside of me – kills your confidence, kills your spirit.

  37. One exception to : ” The one thing we know is that nothing done by government has ever come in on time or under budget.)”

    Apollo Program and getting to the moon in the 1960s.

    Maybe an exception that proves the rule.

  38. Pingback: — GraniteGrok
  39. Do you have a reference for the Denver minimum income claim made in this article? It seems counterintuitive to me that most people simply stop working if given a tiny guaranteed income. I’ve looked around and haven’t been able to find any sources supporting your claim. Dauphin, Manitoba tried this experiment in the 70’s, and they found a very small (5%) decrease in labor, primarily among new mothers and teenagers (http://archive.irpp.org/po/archive/jan01/hum.pdf). Another pilot project in a village in Namibia actually found the opposite: a guaranteed minimum income actually increased economic activity (especially entrepreneurial activity) — see http://www.bignam.org/BIG_pilot.html.

  40. Do you have a reference for the Denver minimum income claim made in this article? It seems counterintuitive to me that most people simply stop working if given a tiny guaranteed income. Dauphin, Manitoba tried this experiment in the 70’s, and they found a very small (5%) decrease in labor, primarily among new mothers and teenagers (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mincome, http://archive.irpp.org/po/archive/jan01/hum.pdf). Another pilot project in a village in Namibia actually found the opposite: a guaranteed minimum income actually increased economic activity (especially entrepreneurial activity) — see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basic_income_guarantee (and specifically http://www.bignam.org/BIG_pilot.html).

    1. No, I don’t, but you might be able to find it if you google it. I want to say it was in the Heinlein bio, but I don’t think so. I remember people were shocked it was a dismal failure, as others have been. I’ll point the US culture breeds a different kind of poverty than in other places. They are already (normally — current conditions and regulations are something else) ignoring opportunities for work.

  41. Whitehall, won’t fly. Apollo had the motto ” waste anything but time”. No real budget to get it going. Proved government can do stuff if given a limited clear goal and whatever it takes. Manhattan project was another.

    Nice blog, Sarah. You seem to have exceptionally polite and intelligent commenters. Presumably mostly sf fans which speaks well of them as a group.

    1. I beat them with dead fish. It keeps them in line. And okay, so there have been a couple of examples, but I was stealing from Heinlein, aka Holy Writ, so I was RELIGIOUSLY correct. (runs.)

    2. Government tends to be inefficient because it generally has multiple conflicting goals. For example, Boston’s Big Dig was an effort to provide useful infrastructure AND jobs for patronage purpose. That second factor yields inefficiencies.

      Rarely do government projects arrive with a limited clear goal, and rarely does that goal remain so once it starts bearing fruit.

      As for the “government produces nothing” line, rather than challenge it on basis of being overly broad, I think of government as producing order, as producing a secure and predictable legal environment enhancing planning. That is, of course, the purpose of sound government, an entity as rare as a government project producing results on time and under budget.

      One criticism of the current administration is that its actions are often arbitrary (witness the suspension of the Obamacare employer mandate, opening the “exchanges” to opportunities for fraud and abuse not seen since Pigford) and undermining of rule of law.

      1. In re: Obamacare = Pigford,

        HHS now says it will no longer attempt to verify individual eligibility for insurance subsidies and instead will rely on self-reporting, with minimal efforts to verify if the information consumers provide is accurate.

        Remember “liar loans,” the low- or no-documentation mortgages that took borrowers at their word without checking pay stubs or W-2s? ObamaCare is now on the same honor system, with taxpayers in tow.

        People are supposed to receive subsidies only if their employer does not provide federally approved health benefits. Since HHS now won’t require business to report those benefits or enforce the standards until 2015, it says it can’t ask ObamaCare’s “exchange” bureaucracies to certify who qualifies either.

        HHS calls this “a slight technical correction” though it is much more than that. The exchanges will not only start dispensing benefits “based on an applicant’s attestation” about his employment insurance status. HHS is also handing the exchanges “temporarily expanded discretion to accept an attestation of projected annual household income without further verification.”

        In other words, anyone can receive subsidies tied to income without judging the income they declare against the income data the Internal Revenue Service collects. This change has nothing to do with the employer mandate, even tangentially.

        Powerline, quoting the Wall Street Journal.

  42. Interesting to notice that possession of a sword cane is a mandatory one year sentence in California despite one noted story of the that’s not a knife this is a knife variety by a noted California resident. Penang lawyers have odd jurisdictional rules too.

    I’ve got quite a nice and properly sword tempered 1095 blade in a staff but it’s joke for Cons – taken as a Bo the staff is as good a weapon as the blade. Maybe as an assassin’s tool the blade might have some use?

  43. Actually, a “copybook” was a teaching tool for children learning good handwriting. An adult (usually a parent) would write out some wise saying or other at the top of an otherwise blank page for the child to copy, and the child would write it over and over until he/she reached the bottom of the page. It had nothing to do with Aesop, except that the fables’ morals were often pithy sayings that could be adapted to the purpose.

    1. Sigh. No. I just said that’s how I learned — through Aesop’s fables. That’s where my morals were extracted from. I grew up in Portugal, though, not the UK, and several years (eh) after Kipling, so…

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