The Sweat of our Brow

Hamlet says we are born to die.  Heinlein says we are born to strife.  Both are right of course, and in a way accepting both of these things is the path out of a lot of our cultural quandries.

We were talking about Welfare in its many forms and what it does to people.  It started with discussions of writers and artists who use their “minority” or “underprivileged” status (most of them are actually from very privileged backgrounds, having grown up wealthy beyond the dreams of most of us, and wouldn’t know adversity if it bit them in the *ss) to advance fasters, or to advance at all (depending on talent) in a field where others have to work for years or decades for any recognition.

Because I could have used that path, I studied it.  My friends were mostly concerned with the fact these people are taking the place of people who have worked for it, the place of people whose background might be far more deprived than theirs, and who are thwarted and held back because someone else is exploiting societal guilt for his/her own benefit. (And btw, societal guilt is the dumbest concept ever.  Only someone who knows no history can be consumed with guilt for what his ancestors have done in the far distant past before he was born.  It is the combination of the Marxist lie about closed pies that gives them the idea that everything good they have they stole from someone less fortunate in ancestors, and the stupid, a-historical teaching in our schools.  They have to believe that instead of slavery being an ancient evil that plagued man forever, it was invented by whites and specifically by white Americans in the dawn of the 18th century.  They have to believe that whenever their ancestors were less than clean or nice in war the enemy wasn’t worse.  They have to believe the society they live in is uniquely evil.  Which means they’re mal-educated morons who don’t even know what they don’t know.)

If the “taking the place of someone more deserving” were the only evil of the situation, I MIGHT (probably not but I might) have talked myself into exploiting that pathway in.  But the problems are bigger than that.  It starts inside the head of the person playing this gambit.  Could they have made it without someone else’s guilt giving him/her a free ride?  Sure a lot of them might have been able to, but could they?  They’ll never know.  Other things they’ll never know: how good they could be.  In writing and in all the arts, and I suspect in the sciences too, despair sharpens the struggle to better yourself.  “You’ve got to stay hungry.”  And yet, take the case of a young black man who came to a writers’ group I’d just joined when I was starting out.  He was the son of wealthy parents, had gone to private schools and attended an ivy league college.  He brought in a story full of attempted hood speak and depicting events that were brutal but not very interesting (no one had reasons to do anything, other than they were really angry) and which took an awful lot of profanity to tell.

If any of the other newbies had brought that in, people would have beat them with metaphorical sticks.  No one said anything bad.  Not one person.  It was all “this is very interesting”s and “I liked when.” So, I’m me, right?  I tore into it as I would tear into the work of someone who was writing, say, a story set in India without ever having been there.

The young man followed me outside, asking for clarification of points.  He wasn’t angry at at all, but he was somewhat baffled, because no one had ever told him this.  I discussed with him as I would with any other writer, what I’d learned, how I made characters seem important, etc.  (mind you, I already knew a lot of technique then, it was the execution that lacked.)

He stopped coming to the group afterwards, and everyone thought it was because I was so mean.  I don’t think so.  Years later we ran into each other at a store, and he crossed several isles to come tell me what a difference I’d made.  You see, he’d already been published, while at … I want to say Harvard, but it might have been Yale.  He sent books out with a very “black sounding” pen name, and was picked up by a small press and published but the books didn’t SELL.  Apparently he’d gone to his own name (average American name) and had actually had shorts published, for which he was getting fan mail.  He’d decided to stop writing about a hood he didn’t know, and start writing about people like himself, split between the identity his upbringing had given him, and the one people tried to force on him.  (Which is THE worst problem for minorities in the US.)

I’m not going to say the man was typical.  He was a) an extraordinarily gifted writer (even in the stupid pseudo-hood stuff.”  And b) smarter than the average person.  BUT I’m saying the trap he was in is the trap most minorities who use “minority” to advance (or even they don’t but people know them personally and intuit it) get caught in.  The smarter and more honest ones know that they aren’t doing the best they could.  Perhaps commercial success evades them.  And all they can do is be angry at everyone who will not treat them fairly and help them progress.

From this we went to welfare.  Not just in this country, but in many others, (in Portugal it’s gypsies)  there are entire populations that are given some sort of dole, and treated as if they were incompetent children.  They’re usually given places to live, fed, clothed.  Not very well, but well enough that most don’t strive for anything else.  (Remember we’re descended from lazy cavemen.  The ones who hunted when they didn’t need to both depleted the game and wore themselves down.  They didn’t leave many descendants.  If we have just enough it kills the germ of strife.)

Sometimes there are reasons for it — as in with tribes in North America, reasons that our ancestors thought good enough — but most of the time, any minority corralled and put on the dole as a whole is someone the rulers were afraid of and wanted to defang.  A lot of the welfare of the 20th century came into effect because the rich of the time had bought the communist propaganda that revolution arose from starvation and they thought they could stop communism by going socialist.

It did stop communism from taking over those communities.  Also education.  Also invention.  Also self discipline.  Also anything resembling human civilization.  In fact those communities started devolving at a fast clip.

The idiots who think all of this is race or DNA linked (like the twits who think time-preference and delaying of gratification are DNA linked.) think this is because these “races” or ethnicities are “inferior.”

Brother.  They apparently — not surprising, most are computer-kiddies — never read those old boring biographies written in the eighteenth and nineteenth century.

Most of the “time preference” the ability to delay gratification, etc, is something that must be TAUGHT and taught very early, and reinforced by example.  You know when old books talk about spoiling the child?  It means failing to teach them that.  In those old, boring bios, mostly about British or French people (the ones I read) you come across spoiled children, both of old and new wealth.  These are the children who weren’t made to strive.  Their ancestors, recent or long ago, had made a lot of money, and they wanted their children to live in sort of an earthly paradise.  It never ends well.  Those people were destroyed by not having to strive in ways very similar to, if someone higher up the tree, those our welfare recipients suffer from.

Other things they haven’t read was the transformation that hit countries as “bourgeois values” became the norm, around the nineteenth century.  The eighteenth century, morally, at least in England, had more in common with our own, before the bourgeoisie at least EXPECTED the rich to behave like the “decent folk.”

Every person that grows up not having to strive, not having to do his/her best is like a spoiled opportunity.  They show all the signs of ennui and self-destruction, save for one emotion: hatred.  They normally disguise the reason for that hatred from themselves, like our first lady who thinks Harvard was INSUFFICIENTLY welcome to a girl of undistinguished academic background, but at some level, they know they’ve been infantilized and that’s what drives their resentment.

For the vast numbers of welfare recipients, particularly those receiving it “by the numbers” (or the skin color.  Or the culture.  Or…) it has been generations of being raised in that hatred and resentment, asking for more, though what they need more of is bourgeois values, and to strive.

This applies even to people abroad.  For decades America (and to a lesser extent Europe) have fed the world.  In poor, f*cked up Africa their best and brightest go work for NGO groups instead of working to improve their country.  Would be scientists work as chauffeurs for visiting dignitaries.  The food handed down is distributed by kleptocracy (as it is to most welfare victims) which creates little tribes, in which the dignitaries take the lion share and the rest is handed out by tribe and loyalty-pledging.

In other words, we’ve made these feudal societies, not unnakin to the ones our ancestors had to free themselves from; we make it almost impossible to escape them; and we’re shocked these people don’t spontaneously develop bourgeois values.

And then to make things worse we attribute their plight to their genes.  I can guarantee to you that if we started treating blue-eyed blonds as a helpless minority and gave them welfare, they’d be the exact same as people who tan better are now, in nor more than three generations.

Or to put it another way, our ancestors gave them welfare because they were scared and wanted to defang them, and now our children despise them because of welfare made them.  And simultaneously give them more welfare because they think they’re “not capable” and think them even less capable. Sounds legit. If you know no history or humanity.

Humanity, regardless of color, gender, IQ, was born to strive.  Those of us who believe we WERE made but not literally from clay, think we were made from a scavenger species.  Our dentition, eating habits, etc, support that.

Scavenger species are an interesting niche.  If they get too much food/resources, they ALMOST lose interest in reproducing.  Evolutionary this makes sense.  IF there’s too many dead animals lying around for you to scavenge, your kids are going to be in lean times.  For humans… well, it means that socialism could never conquer the world.  We now know that even in its soft, Euro form, it devolves into an old-age home in three generations.  Not enough kids.

But beyond that, it also devolves into Welfare-light.  Humans do best when they have to work for a living.  It gives us a purpose and a focus.  Only very broken humans want more after they have a lot.  We might be those.  Well, I am.  The way I’m broken is that I couldn’t stop writing even if I were very wealthy.  But it’s an habit.  I would have stopped if we’d won the lottery at 23.  Probably.  But there’s also another thing.  I grew up on the edge.  I know what it’s like to be hungry.  Not very hungry, never more than a meal, but hungry.  And I know what it’s like to not be able to afford tons of things, even those that were arguably needed.

What it did is create a NEED for security that has me working to make us so secure nothing can bring us to that situation of need.  (So far, unsuccessfully. Must write faster.)

Most of the issues we have today in Western society is that most of the children have never even seen real need.  Sure the welfare ones are kept on the edge, but it’s an edge they can’t fall from (even when the adults in their life try.)  They will be given just enough to dull their desire to strive.

Even the middle class kids who don’t do much of anything can survive on practically nothing.  Sure they won’t have the big house, or the car, or–  But their Marxist professors (and school teachers — trust me, I read my kids’ school books) taught them that it’s shameful to have too much, because it means you stole from someone else.

And barring a total collapse, having “just enough” is not hard, without striving.  Probably explaining the generation of “middle class artists” who don’t produce any art.  And who don’t acquire bourgeois virtues because they don’t NEED them.  They can survive without them.

Look at the children of the middle class.  Their future, particularly if we keep getting more and more wealthy, is where minorities on generational welfare are now.

How long can it continue?  Longish.  Sure, you need SOME people who still value work and striving to maintain western civ.  But machines and cybernetics reduce that number every year.

What to do?  I don’t know.  I can imagine a Hunger Games kind of world, but different, in which EVERY child is taken from his parents to be raised in early-twentieth century poverty and striving.  I can’t even write that story.  I can imagine it, but I can’t write it.  Much less implement it.  But it might be the only thing that saves us.

Barring, of course, a very careful upbringing and a better us of our resources than to create idle and resentful groups.  And an enshrining of striving, working, keeping chaste, investing in the future, at the heart of our society again.  A lot can be accomplished with societal and peer pressure.

The question is, do we have the courage to do it?  Or are we going to continue slouching towards Bethlehem?



219 thoughts on “The Sweat of our Brow

  1. Have you ever noticed that those who bleat loudest about “Societal Guilt” are quickest to avoid accepting Personal Responsibility?

    For example, that Tw?t who was so busy lecturing her Lyft Driver about Respecting the Indigenous Peoples of the Hawaiian Continent that she completely overlooked any personal responsibility to be a good passenger, to be polite, respectful of the driver and let him concentrate on SAFE navigation of traffic hazards?

      1. Worse, they seem to think that by having the “right” views, they magically become good people, without having to actually, you know, be good people. Like male feminists who treat women like crap.

        1. “Like male feminists who treat women like crap.”

          Amen. If you want to see some truly vicious sexism, give a man on the Left a woman who is a “safe” target, someone like Sarah Palin. I’ve long thought that the reason that Leftist women think men are all chauvinist pigs is because far too many Leftist men ARE chauvinist pigs.

          1. Just for example, you would mean someone like Monica Lewinsky’s ex-boyfriend’s wife’s husband, right?

            1. Him. And Hilary Clinton’s BFF’s soon-to-be-ex-husband. And “Client #9.” Really, I could keep listing all day.

        1. “Social Justice” just means “me and my friends getting together to decide justice.” AKA a lynch mob.

    1. The same bint who failed to notice the Lyft driver was in fact of asian descent. Too busy pontificating. These same folks would attack Tiger Woods for having a Thai symbol on something.

      1. It is a truth universally acknowledged, that social justice warrior in possession of a fine established position at the top of the pecking order, must be a total a-hole when it comes to the treatment of those actual human beings farther down the totem pole.

        I would refer the interested in this concept to all those stories about Ralph Nadar, Michael Moore, Garrison Keillor, Al Gore, Hillary Clinton, and a symphony of others; all known for their loud championship of the ordinary working folk and their actual disgraceful treatment of those who have the misfortune of working directly for them.

  2. I’m saying the trap he was in is the trap most minorities who use “minority” to advance (or even they don’t but people know them personally and intuit it) get caught in.

    Whether playing “Stepin Fetchit” or “Angry Black Man” the person is still conforming to Whites’ stereotyping and avoiding authenticity.


    Stepin Fetchit’s act continued the “trickster” tradition of slaves: outwitting their oppressors by pretending to be slow-witted and lazy, and thereby exploiting whites’ sense of superiority. He became a very wealthy man portraying “the laziest human being in the world,” the quintessential coon; shuffling, mumbling, slacking an dozing off whenever he could, his heavy eyelids and loose lower lop forever dangling, scratching his shaved head in befuddlement whenever a White actor upbraided or barked orders at him, as they did all the time.
    In the early 1930s he was the best known and most successful black actor working in Hollywood. At a time when contracts for Black actors were unheard of, Fetchit was signed, then dropped, then spectacularly re-signed by Fox Pictures. From 1929 to 1935, he appeared in some twenty-six films. Often working in as many as four movies at a time, Fetchit was the first Black actor to received featured billing, and special scenes were often written into pictures for him. He popularized the dim-witted, tongue-tied stammer and the phenomenal slow-lazyman shuffle.

    As you can see, profiting by acting out Whitey’s expectations is a long tradition. Some might be inclined to note that the same political group that encourages the “ABM” as present authenticity were the ones imposing Stepin Fetchit’s act as authentic a generation or two ago.

    The more things change, eh?

  3. This applies even to people abroad. For decades America (and to a lesser extent Europe) have fed the world. In poor, f*cked up Africa their best and brightest go work for NGO groups instead of working to improve their country. Would be scientists work as chauffeurs for visiting dignitaries. The food handed down is distributed by kleptocracy (as it is to most welfare victims) which creates little tribes, in which the dignitaries take the lion share and the rest is handed out by tribe and loyalty-pledging.

    The GREAT thing about cell phones and the mobile internet is that people in these countries who have drive to better themselves don’t have to work for an NGO or government. They can set up businesses and make money doing so. And by doign so they can inspire their friends and neighbors to do likewise.

    In the developed world, by contrast, a related part of the welfare dependency trap is the regulatory over-reach issue where you have to pay $$$ and spend time to get meaningless bits of paper to do anything entrepreneurial and as soon as you reach certain tiers of success you now become subject to even more rules and regulations that do very little to benefit either your customers or your employees but do a huge amount to benefit your competitors and to justify the employing of ever more hordes of government bureaucrat

    1. ” They can set up businesses and make money doing so. ”

      Depends on how corrupt the country is and whether they will be shut down for insufficient bribes breaking regulations.

      1. This.

        Back when I had excess fundage (it was a long time ago) I invested in a fund that supplied capital for peasants in a second world country to make a start and improve their situation.
        Sure, the projected returns were less than what I’d reasonably expect to have gotten on a spider, but doing well by doing good was one heck of a sales pitch.

        Then I learned why the second and third world suck. The funds were seized and nationalized within a matter of weeks.

        The experience slightly muted my disgust when they elected Chavez several years later.
        Sure, it was obvious what was going to happen.
        But most of the government *did* deserve to be lined up against a wall and shot. (Too bad that part didn’t actually happen. To the people that deserved it, anyway.)

  4. I look at the whole have people move into custom built RV’s to live as a very strange way to live. Sure for some people it is the perfect life but most people don’t need to be living in tiny houses. Sure they don’t need to be living in 4000 sq ft mansions either but …

    1. People can in my opinion, live in whatever size living space they want. As long as they are self-funding, don’t get their funding through criminal activity, and aren’t a public health hazard.

      I share your loathing of tiny hoses. But who are you to say what size house a person should live in? Why shouldn’t they live in a 4000 square foot mansion if they can afford it?

      1. Oh I don’t loathe the things I just find it amusing the number of people buying into the whole living in what is essentially a custom built RV will make their lives better. It is fascinating to watch these people having to eliminate clothes and other things from their lives to fit in the tiny house.

        That said there are times and places in a persons life where a tiny house could be a perfect fit. So loathe is perhaps the wrong term. I just don’t think most of the people moving into tiny houses will actually find the happiness from it that they are seeking. They are still tied up with the whole happiness = things.

        I have seen people on these shows where it is a perfect fit but more and more I’m seeing people who are going tiny doing it because it is trendy and hip and it virtue signals.

        1. The first I saw of such, I took it as a well-appointed ice fishing shack (ice house.. NOT the same as the TX definition of “ice house” – well, not exactly anyway.) One of those things that strikes me as a neat idea, but for myself, I cannot see any real practicality to it. But if someone else sees that for themselves, well, best of luck to them.

          1. We once rode out a weak tropical storm in a used pull behind camper trailer. It had a bathroom, kitchen, refrigerator, and AC, and dining area that converted to beds and drop down bunk beds. Anyone one who wants to write about living in a spaceship should have to duplicate the experience. It was much more comfortable than a tent, and with the hook-ups we didn’t do without creature comforts, but it was tight quarters. And then, with everyone inside, we had to stow away beds and converter the dining area back to table and seating. That was . . . interesting.

            1. Been there, done that. I spent some years young traveling with my grandparents to trade shows and fairs hither and yon in such a tiny contrivance.

              Cooking a decent meal every day is an order of magnitude more challenging in a space too small to extend both arms, let alone swing a cat. It means you have to learn foresight and planning, efficient use of space, and how to remain polite and courteous… a fistfight in an enclosed space (not with grandparents you must understand) is another… interesting experience.

            2. My exercise in minimal-space living was an attempt at a trans-Pacific crossing (well, trans-part of the Pacific; Honolulu to Kwajalein) in a sailboat. Talk about stripping things down to the bare essentials. They probably don’t call spacefarers ‘Astro-Nauts’ without reason.

        2. I love how beautifully some of those tiny house are designed – and it wouldn’t be bad for a weekend or a country cottage somewhere temperate. But where would I put the books? The hobby materials … the pantry goods?

          For me, about a 1,400 square foot house would be about perfect. Just enough for stuff, guests, hobbies … and not so much that keeping it tidy is an never-ending chore.

          1. I’d love one — if I ever get rich enough — somewhere, maybe by the sea, where we go for the occasional long weekend (supposing we can afford to fly) and maybe a month in summer. Modifications would be needed for separate writing areas.

            1. It would be fantastic to have one to go on camping trips with. But … I don’t think I would like to live in one. And I live in probably about a 600 ft’ one bedroom apartment.

              See I would miss the full size shower, and frankly I would miss the flush toilet. Yes sure those composting toilets work. …. But would I want to live with one all the time.

              On the other claw to go out camping for a weekend or a even a week in one would be great. Most of them are very nicely designed from what I can see. I’m just not certain I would want to live in one every day.

              Actually one of those for an office would be fantastic too if I had a house and space in the back to park it.

            2. I want mine to be my mobile children-visiting home. Our kids are widely scattered already, and living in tight quarters. If I could drive to an RV park or usable space somewhere in their vicinity, it would be as if we lived close by – no need to be in each other’s pockets all the time.

              Then, after a visit in the area of a month or so, on to the next area/kid.

              That way the little writing house is set up and I don’t have to pack.

              People use RVs this way, but they don’t seem homey enough to spend a month somewhere, writing, visiting around, spending time outdoors – and the country is full of RV parks.

              That’s my dream, and I’m sticking to it.

          2. I hear you. My wife and I live in a small house of about 1000 ft2. It’s adequate for us and (very) occasionally 2-3 guests for a day or two, but there’s essentially no space for hobby material that needs to be left out when not in immediate use. Cleaning’s easy, but a bit of discretionary space would be greatly welcomed.

        3. It wasn’t tiny houses, but I was thinking today how much money we could save if we dialed back our existence to 1960 levels. Very few monthly bills look very attractive, which is the point, not rolling back technology.

          1. Difficult to dial back the billing without dialing back the technology. Kind of hard to run an internet on POTS with 120- (or 60-) baud acoustic-coupled modems. And that’s 19*80* tech..

            1. There’s going to free wi-fi vs subscription service, and going broadcast TV instead of yet another subscription service. It’s one reason why people ditch land-lines in favor of a cellular phone: minimizing bills.

      2. The annoyance isn’t someone who looks things over and decides “This will suit me nicely”; it’s the people who decide “Well, this is what I’m told I should do, so I’ll do it”, and their companions the “This will show that I care!” people.

      3. I horrified a cousin by tilting my head to one side and asking why it was classy to live in a “tiny house,” but s/he’d been horrified that I considered our family living in a camper for a while.

        As best I can tell, it’s because tiny houses tend to cost more than my house and the land under it….

        (Which is funny, since the origin seems to be those cute sheds at Home Depot being modified for guest cottages.)

        1. Because people in ‘tiny houses’ are hipsters trying to show how socially conscious they are and unconsumerific. People living in campers or trailers are simply white trash.

          1. I have noticed that a lot of “younger” – Millennials, Gen-Xs, etc. – people, particularly urban ones, don’t really “live” in a house or apartment. It’s just a place they return to sleep, store their 87 pairs of shoes, and hold some of their stuff.

            They “live” at clubs, malls, or other people’s houses.

            I live at home; that’s my default location unless I have cause to go somewhere else.

        2. As best I can tell, it’s because tiny houses tend to cost more than my house and the land under it….

          Say what? The 21st Century equivalent of a one-crib cabin is a high-end item?

          Hmmm . . . is there much of a market for the things?

          1. I think by this time you’re hitting the “you have to be a Designer Name” level on it, although you could probably make a bunch off of upgrading folks’ sheds to code for a Tiny House.

        3. I’m amused that “tiny house on wheels”= hip and cool, but “single wide mobile home” = white trash.
          Hey, at least with the single wide you get a proper sized kitchen, bath, ect in pretty much the same footprint!

          1. It gets better: tiny house on wheels, costs more in materials and labor than any pre- built trailer, is extremely heavy, is not aerodynamic, and requires a large heavy fuel-inefficient truck to move it around.

            They have no sense of history, and are reinventing things that Airstream perfected half a century ago.

            1. ” and requires a large heavy fuel-inefficient truck to move it around.”

              Hey now, when I was selling my Ford diesel, I had a young “hipster” couple look at buying it as a fuel efficient truck to pull their house around.

      4. I’d prefer a tiny house, and a large warehouse attached to it for a garage. I in as big a house as I am because it was priced right, and the garage was just big enough.

      1. Exactly. It is telling people and even more selling people on the whole … This is the way they should live that I find objectionable. I see lately on these shows people who have been told that this is the way they should live.

        As far as I can tell they are not doing it from some personal need but instead are doing what they have been told will fulfill their lives.

        On the other hand I saw a clever idea. The couple was building a long skinny 600 ft house and their ultimate plan is to have four or five more scattered around the world to vacation in. They can buy the smaller lots and build the smaller houses for less than a couple of regular sized houses.

        So that couple had a plan and a reasonably good plan I might add for living in a tiny house.

        But the people who talk about it like an almost spiritual experience are the ones I’m concerned about.

        1. Life in a tiny house is cool for singles, couples, or retirees. Life in a tiny house with kids? Dear heavens, especially if you have bad weather!

            1. They didn’t have the option of staying in because the weather was bad– only when it was lethal. And even then, it was rather famous for not being conductive to continued sanity.

              “What people can survive”=/= “a good idea.”

              1. Actually soddies were useful for sanity because they had sound insulation inherently so you didn’t have to listen to the endless winds, which were known to drive people crazy.

                Life is full of trade-offs.

                1. I got to spend a few weeks in a two-room cabin that was the Nevada version of a sod cabin, with my mom, her parents and my siblings.

                  About day 10 it got a little tough because it snowed, so the grandparents couldn’t sleep out in the bed of their pickup anymore, and our options for outside stuff got limited….

                  I know of what I speak re: survivable vs a good way to live!

              2. There’s a reason most Russian houses in period tended to be multi-family affairs with a dinning room that doubled as ‘wild dancing and singing room’. I’ve gotten some confirmation, though nothing at a publishable level, that one of the reasons the Russian dance styles (especially for the men) were so um… energetic was to run off all the energy they WEREN’T spending in the fields because of the snow to the rafters. It’s also likely the reason they have a long term value for the performance arts. “Keeps people from murdering each other after two days being snowed in.” Makes someone VERY valuable in a place where winter is 7 months long.

    2. I think that a lot of the tiny houses are cute, and I enjoy seeing how people put their creativity to work in designing and building them. I also think that they would make excellent housing for certain categories of people, such as an adult child or elderly family member who needs to be close but independent; someone who travels a lot for their work, but stays in one place for weeks to months (like oil-field workers); and young single adults who want to own their housing rather than live in an apartment paying rent. But tiny houses on wheels are too small for my family (me and my youngest daughter), and for a lot of other families. We live in 950 s.f. right now, and could actually use a couple hundred more square feet. I agree with those who say that everyone should be able to determine for themselves (and within their budget) what kind and size of house they live in.

      1. A lot of our room is taken up by storing the stuff that my parents put into the hand-me-down cycle; we don’t stay in one place long enough for that to work, and we don’t have enough local family for it to work anyways. So we store clothes for a year or so between kids.

        A lot of our friends live in a lot less space…because they get rid of everything as soon as they don’t need it. I keep stuff until someone needs it, given a choice, and THEN pass it on.

        I found some of my clothes from high school and my first duty station in the Navy– they fit me again. At least, until I hit mid-second trimester or so. But then I can wear my clothes from five years ago, and after the baby arrives, I can wear my high school clothes again.

        It’s amazing how much money you can save by not enforcing a “downsizing” when it’s not really warranted.

        1. This. I was looking at my National Geographic collection and wondering if there was any point in keeping them. Haven’t subscribed in at least a decade, but still hang on to them.

          1. I grew up reading my grandma’s National Geographic from the 70s or so. (I wasn’t born until the 80s… I’m not even sure she ever had a subscription)

    3. About 10,000 sf would do me nicely. All the “outside” would be “inside”, and could be filtered and air-conditioned allergen-free.

      1. Sorry, this reminded me of “Wonko the Sane” in Douglas Adams’ “So Long and Thanks for All the Fish”.

        He determined society was too mad and so he “locked it up” by building a house full of nature with the fixtures on the outside, so society was in an asylum and he was safe “outside” of it…

  5. I like to say that slavery has existed forever, but capitalism, in the sugar plantations, made it pay.

    Interesting that then, and only then, did humans ask seriously about the morality of slavery.

    1. Well, prior to the discovery of America, Western Europe had almost completely rejected slavery.

      While the need for workers in the sugar plantations caused some to forget the moral arguments against slavery, there were also some who never forgot those moral arguments.

      1. The unexpurgated beginning of Robinson Crusoe has him going from being captured by Muslims and serving as a slave to owning a plantation in Brazil as a slave owner before he was shipwrecked.

    2. Interesting thing, slavery. Russia practiced slavery alongside serfdom until the time of Peter the Great. Why? Because the Russian orthodox Church did not encourage charity and alms-giving in the same ways that the Western Church did, so there was even less of a safety/emergency net available. But you could sell yourself into slavery as a retainer or slave to a great family, and it enhanced the great families prestige to have a lot of slaves that they supported. There were also some jobs (estate steward, military ranks) that required a person be enslaved (sort of like posting a bond if you are the County Treasurer). There was also the “captured war prisoners and enemies” form of slavery, which has been with us since the paleolithic, as far as I can tell.

      Peter the Great eliminated it. Why? Slaves were not taxed and couldn’t be drafted. Serfs could. So serfdom became very close to slavery and slavery went away.

      1. Oh yes, and the children of slaves? Almost always enslaved themselves because they could no longer function as free men and women.

      2. And then the ever so great USSR brought slave labor using captured enemies back at the end of WWII.

        And yep. Instead of having people owned by other subjects of the state, it merely makes everyone a subject of the state.

        1. You don’t have to wait to WWII to see slave labor in the USSR. The way they treated the peasant farmers was pretty darn close – the USSR’s treatment of the peasantry made the czar and the Cossacks look like touchy-feely liberals.

            1. Yes, but it was particularly nasty in the area of extracting food from farmers. ISTR that making the peasants cough up so much food the peasants were on near-starvation diets was one of the key drivers for Lenin to establish the Cheka.

              1. One of them, yes. I’m trying to read a triple analysis of Lenin, Stalin, and Hitler. I say trying because it is soooo depressing. I’m coming to understand why so many academics who work in that period of history become either grim or the kind of person with yellow floral wall paper in the kitchen and white eyelet curtains who fosters puppies and kittens and watches Danny Kaye reruns every evening.

                1. I understand this feeling. I once read Robert Gellatel’s Lenin, Stalin, and Hitler: The Age of Social Catastrophe and found myself extremely down for days afterward.

                    1. Good luck. Its a tough slog with little emotional payoff, but if you ever need evidence on why massive all-powerful government can be a Bad Thing, or how the Soviets were bad as the Nazis, Gellately’s book will help provide it.

                2. I tried to read Chung and Halliday’s Mao: The Unknown Story. Quit after extracting a certain amount of information, as the psychological cost for more was too high for the worth. Was still a life changing event that left me angrier and more anti-communist.

  6. The only group that can know that their success is from their own work and effort are white males. Imagine a 1/2 Black Kenyan attending Harvard and made the Editor of the law review. In this case, after 8 years of watching him play golf, I’m pretty sure he was placed, not deserving.
    Progressives have also foolishly reversed cause and effect. Hard working Americans have college degrees and nice homes; therefore make college and good housing available to all with Government aid! Didn’t get the result you wanted? Perhaps (as Instapundit often mentions) the traits of self-reliance and delayed gratification are the traits, and the degrees and homes are markers of the traits.
    The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Our stupidity is to keep claiming the same unworkable solutions are the answer after 50-60 years of abject failure. Hand-up not a hand out? If you give someone a fish, they are fed today, if you teach someone to fish, they are fed for life? These are very good lessons distilled from our culture of betterment. Why do we continue to ignore them?

  7. I have tried to explain this to the “give us free shit” class, and the “oh we need to take care of the poor benighted savages” class for decades. It’s not just humans, no species survives well if too taken care of. Witness the “hot house flower” literally. It’s a phrase for a reason. A plant that is never presented with adversity (IE grew up in a greenhouse, or hot house) succumbs to the first blight, drought, or other calamity that comes along. So too, the house cat doesn’t do well if suddenly put in the wild (cats do better than most, but we haven’t been as capable of making carnivores like cats and dogs so domesticated that they’ve forgotten their instincts, the breeds that we’ve done that to are damn delicate even in our houses, much less turned loose to sink or swim) The point stands that a “taken care of” member of a species, even a very successful species like orca can’t survive strife (look up what has happened to the orca released back into the wild).

    We find it evil to feed wild animals, because they become dependent on that largess and forget how to be wild (forest service and park service signs “don’t feed the animals” are there for just that reason, as well as safety) Yet we insist on doing that to humans and expect a different result.

    Sometimes we suck and figuring out the obvious.

    1. College students so raised in protection that they’ll scream at the dean that he hasn’t made the college a safe-enough-space to protect them from- well, everything.

    2. Trying to poke a hole in the wall of stupidity by banging your head on it to let some light of understanding and knowledge in nets a sore head more often than not. Like the man said, you can’t reason somebody out of a position they emoted themselves into to be gin with.

      I’ve often wondered what emotion can give such a man, mired in slackitude, the drive to lift himself out of it.

      Slacking is easy when someone else is taking care of your needs. It’s hard to blame them, really. They might hate themselves for it (evidence of self destructive behavior abounds, but that may be a red herring), but they still take the handouts. If they’ve grown up in that situation, if all their friends are in that situation, if all the “smart people” keep telling them it’s not their fault… one voice advocating personal responsibility and the virtues of hard work is going to sound like a loony. I’ve been that loony, too, a time or two.

      What emotions describe that situation? Anger, that somebody else has it better. Fear, that somebody else is going to take away what little (they don’t know for little, but let that slide for now) they have. Avarice goes with the anger, and anger goes with the fear, too. You can try and make them work, but that tends to involve more bureaucracy. A bad thing, in my opinion.

      The thing is, they *are* hard done by, as most of us know all too well. They bloody well *should* be pissed off! We come from a people that built the greatest nation in the world from practically nothing at all, but that’s not what they’ve heard in school. How many men of passion do we lose to lassitude because all they hear is “don’t bother trying too hard. You can’t compete anyway. Let us help you by handicapping the other guy,”?

      Americans have always fought and strove and picked themselves up by their bootstraps. We’ve endured failure more often than not, but learned from it. From the cell phones that even the poorest have these days, to the flatscreen tv’s, to the cars, to even electricity and clean water in every home- none of this was built solely at the behest of some government bureaucrat. Institutional poverty was, but not the wealth that we enjoy today.

      Were we to design a program to lift folks out of poverty, it would probably be aimed at man’s most base emotions, not his best. Call on greed, sloth, and envy to prod a man toward his first steps towards greatness. This “war on poverty” nonsense, and indeed most of my arguments against it for a while now, have been aimed at man’s best characteristics. After all, we don’t just blame folks out of hand for being poor. Every one of us could be not-two-dimes-to-rub-together poor tomorrow, but damn few of us would stay that way if there was any way out of it.

      I suppose, stubborn beings that we are, some folks will keep to what scraps remain at the bottom of the heap, regardless. Those folks are lost, forget ’em. For the rest, well, the best thing that could happen would probably be to get big government to *stop helping them.* That ain’t gonna be an easy fight.

      1. You ask, “what emotion can give such a man, mired in slackitude, the drive to lift himself out of it.” They’re not emotions as such, but the conditions that can provide such drive are hunger, physical discomfort (freezing cold or enervating heat), etc. In essence, the things that the social justice crew scream must be alleviated for them at no cost to them. Basically, treat them as children and don’t expect them to act as adults.

      2. Bill Whittle in one of his early essays had a line something like “I wasn’t poor, I was a rich man with a severe cash flow problem.

    3. More and more I’ve been thinking about John Calhoun’s experiments with mice. Give them everything they need, food, shelter and let them breed. eventually the population collapses. Normal behavior stops, they would gather to be fed, fight occasionally, females wouldn’t take care of their young, forgetting about them, there would be some who kept apart from the others that would spend all their time grooming themselves and never fight or breed.

      1. That’s the rat guy, wasn’t it?

        If I remember the last time we dug into that subject– he didn’t actually provide them with enough, he just made it so there were a lot of little rooms.

        It’s pre coffee, but I sure got the impression the experiment was designed to get the result it got, rather than to actually test anything. (Now I want to go dig through the archives again… I believe it came up via that famous-news-story-that-didn’t-happen about the lady who was murdered while running up and down the block screaming for help and nobody even stuck their head out, which was totally invented by a reporter. Bunch of neighbors called the cops, tried to help, and she was actually killed inside, etc.)

        1. That would be “Kitty” Genovese, I suspect. A classic case of a NY Times misreporting.

          How everyone got the infamous Kitty Genovese case all wrong
          By Stephanie Merry
          High-profile assassinations aside, Kitty Genovese’s murder — in which 38 witnesses supposedly did nothing as she was stabbed to death in Queens — is one of the most famous in modern American history. Her nightmarish final half-hour has inspired multiple “Law & Order” story lines, a folk song, novels, a musical and an episode of “Girls.” Psychologists found their life’s work because of Kitty, and she helped inspire the creation of 911 as a way to call for help.

          Her death reverberated. It left an impression. Does it matter, then, that most people have the story wrong?

          Starting in 2004, her brother Bill Genovese spent more than a decade trying to understand how and why his sister died and who exactly she was. The new documentary “The Witness” chronicles the twists and turns of his search. Directed by James Solomon, the movie is as gripping as true-crime procedurals “Serial” and “Making a Murderer,” but with more intimacy and heartache.

          Like most people, Genovese’s initial understanding of the murder came from a sensational, now-debunked New York Times story that landed on the front page on March 27, 1964. “37 Who Saw Murder Didn’t Call the Police,” the headline claimed. (The number was later upped to 38.) Genovese and his siblings spent the next 30 years shielding their mother from articles that just kept coming. She never recovered emotionally from losing her eldest child.

          But after his mother passed away in 1992 and The New York Times admitted inconsistencies in its narrative with a 2004 story, Genovese joined forces with Solomon, who had interviewed him for an HBO project that never came to fruition.

          So let’s set the record straight: There weren’t 38 eyewitnesses to the murder, which happened first outside and then in an apartment vestibule, although there could have been many more ear witnesses. Only a handful of people probably saw Winston Moseley attack Kitty, and one yelled, “Let that girl alone.”

          At least two neighbors claim to have rung the cops, although police logs have no record of those calls. Another neighbor, Sophia Farrar, ran to help Kitty and held her as she died.

          That heroic act, however, didn’t conform with the Times’s portrait of urban indifference. There’s no mention of her in the 1964 story.

          Speaking of that article, Genovese also interviewed A.M. Rosenthal, who was city editor at The New York Times when Kitty was murdered and helped shape the narrative.

          “Where did the number 38 come (from)?” Genovese asked him while filming the movie. Rosenthal, who has since died, responded with a sardonic laugh.

          “I can’t swear to God that there were 38 people. Some people say there were more, some people say there were less,” he said with a casual flip of his hand. “What was true: People all over the world were affected by it. Did it do anything? You bet your eye it did something. And I’m glad it did.”


        2. Depends on what you mean by enough, the limiting factor was space more than anything else. It was mostly about seeing what would happen if a population was given all the resources it needed except for space and then allowed to grow. A behavioral breakdown was totally expected, it was that the form it took was unexpected. Increased aggression was a given, as was increased stress, it was the ones that ended up utterly apathetic, unaware and unconcerned about their surroundings that stood out.

          The real kicker was that after the population collapsed it didn’t recover because the surviving mice lacked anything resembling normal social behaviors. The ones left alive literally didn’t know how to be mice.

          1. Depends on what you mean by enough, the limiting factor was space more than anything else.

            By his calculations– the “enough” space was roughly the size of a lab rat cage, for the famous 5k rat study that topped out at 200-ish, which doesn’t take into account basic things known to anybody who raises, say, rabbits, about smells and sounds being important for the “how much will fit here” calculations.

            The real kicker was that after the population collapsed it didn’t recover because the surviving mice lacked anything resembling normal social behaviors. The ones left alive literally didn’t know how to be mice.

            You mean a population of animals in an abnormal environment didn’t behave like those in normal environment–one of the things that really pissed the guy off was folks exporting it straight into humans.

  8. “They have to believe that instead of slavery being an ancient evil that plagued man forever, it was invented by whites and specifically by white Americans in the dawn of the 18th century.”

    The Left is pushing slavery hard in the media the last few years. 12 Years A Slave, the new Roots, another series I forget the name of. You’d think it had only been defeated within our lifetimes, the way they’ve been hammering at it. Of course, modern slavery is almost completely ignored, especially if it’s practiced in Muslim countries. Because pointing that out would be racist, I guess.

    And we have this new novel, an alternate history with a silly premise, that the South won the Civil War and four states still practice slavery in the 21st century:

    This is already being pushed for a TV series, which I’m sure will be super-popular with Southerners.*

    *Note: sarcasm.

      1. I could do something with that, with slavery hanging on into the 20th Century, and remaining on some states,where laws makes it practically indistinguishable from modern safety nets.

        I don’t think the SJWs would like it at all.

          1. I’m already called a neo-Confederate for taking a view that the constitution, with amendments then current, means what it means at various points of history, and no, it wasn’t about Secession or the causes, so this isn’t a Civil War rehash. This would pretty much do it.

            That said, I was thinking about a will I found from the 1850s where a slave owner made provisions to care for his elderly slaves, then about a period of late Roman history where people tried to sell themselves off as slaves, then a toss-off comment in an episode of the original Star Trek, and mixed well with the fear of revolution. Sprinkle with an economic downturn where people are no longer able to fulfill their legal obligations for care. Then I thought about someone who is free but can’t find a job, and people trying to pass to sell themselves into slavery, and demands for racial equality so everyone can become a slave. Meanwhile, the slave market is already glutted and no one wants the responsibility of slave ownership right now. So there’s pressure on the government to buy more slaves, even though there’s negative connotations about the term “government slave.”

            Nasty stuff all the way around.

        1. Slavery does still hang on in plenty of states, where states retains its non-USA meaning of “country”. Just do some searching on, say, the Islamic State. Or the issues of human trafficking in the far and middle east (i.e. what price does a blonde female fetch on the black market? A Filipino woman?), sometimes covered up as “contracted workers” or “indentured workers.”

          Heck, do some searching the Yakuza and what’s going on in the supposedly modern country of Japan. Just because it’s condemned in the west doesn’t mean it stopped in the rest of the world!

          1. Well, “pretty girl sold to the yakuza to pay her family’s debts” certainly a common literary trope in manga, but I’m never certain how seriously to take that… Not that it doesn’t have a long history as a societal practice there anyway…

            1. It was notoriously the way the brothels were filled: parents selling their daughters because of poverty. As a consequence, prostitutes’ filial piety was often held to mean they weren’t actually bad.

              But Japan was particularly quick on abolishing it because they were doing the whole catch-up-with-Europe thing.

              1. _Memoirs of a Geisha_ was based on that premise. Our heroine and her sister were sold to a geisha broker. She, a child of notable beauty, was sold to a geisha house; her less lovely sister went to a brothel, where they wore their sash tied in front for ease of access.

            2. In Korea it was a danger as of the 60s when my folks were there (not sure if it was Yakuza specifically but ‘guys running brothels’). One of the things the Missionaries in that country did was go meet the country girls at the station so they could get them out of harm’s way before the pimps got them. I’ve heard reports of it lingering much later but that’s Rumint from, at best, tertiary sources.

              1. I gather — thanks to contemporary mystery novels and TV series — that this is quite common with American girls arriving in NY and LA, seeking to find fame and fortune in the big city.

                1. NY and LA might have a higher number, but “get vulnerable girl to go into an area where you control the situation” is how most of the human trafficking starts.

                  The classic “troubled teen” is a favored target, especially if they’re from a broken home– less likely they’ll be noticed as missing for a day or so.

                  1. I suspect the fact I was picking up on another’s comment obscured the point: those girls being “collected” in NY & LA are those arriving at the main transit points — bus, train and air terminals — where runaway girls are likely to arrive and be “recruited.”

                    1. I will grant that, although I suspect a large number of them have those runaway waifs being “collected” by White Christian Ministers Preachers who inveigh against the Sins Of The Flesh then hooks the little darlings on drugs.

          2. Every few years a Saudi couple visiting the US will get caught brutally mistreating their “maid” (invariably a woman from somewhere like Indonesia or the Phillipines). Officially, the woman in question is always a migrant worker. Realistically, though, it’s always obvious that the woman in question is pretty much enslaved.

    1. Gah.
      To get there, you’d have to eliminate the railroads and the potato famine as well. Migrant workers are so much more economical than slaves. Once you have the infrastructure to make workers mobile, anyway.

      Not to mention that there was a significant minority in the antebellum South that wished to do away with slavery while the “peculiar institution” was still economically feasible. (Heck, it was even openly debated during succession votes and while drafting the Confederate Constitution. The planters won those arguments, but it was clear that they were already on the defensive.) With changing economic realities due to technology, that opposition was only ever going to grow.

      I’m a gonna stop now. The Beautiful but Evil Space Princess objects to us refighting the ACW, and has a big basket of fish to smack us with.

  9. On societal guilt:

    One of ours told of a clique that was very into societal guilt, with them as the victim. Apparently they were vocal in history classes. Finally, a fellow student of the same shade of skin had all she could take and said “Yes, it happened, but it didn’t happen to you.

    Don’t think it did any good, though.

  10. The story about the young man in your writing group reminds me of something said by Walter Williams (I think). It was something to the effect of how glad he was to have grown up before white liberals decided they liked black people, and thus when he turned in work that was done badly, they told him it was bad, rather than simply coddling him and assuring him that it was all perfect and he didn’t need to do any better.

  11. This is why I hate the idea of a “Universal Basic Income” or whatever they’re calling it now.

    Yeah, some groups might benefit. But it’s still encouraging people to sit on their butts and feel like they deserve to be paid for existing. It would dis-incentivize work in other groups.

    Even if the government could actually manage to fire all the people in the programs they would surely (Ha. Ha.) shut down, it would still need a tax increase. (See check box on tax forms: Apply UBI to next years taxes) Snake eating tail for the middle class, but not very nutritious as the bureaucracy takes a chunk every time it comes around.

    But hey, if you want to pay high school grads to sit around playing on their computers instead of getting starting level jobs . . . at least if you only give the stipend to working age adults, perhaps you’ve managed to dis incentivized girls from starting down the welfare queen road.

    On the other hand it could make “stay at home mother” less of a financial strain on the family.

    But all things considered, I think it would be a net societal negative. Too many people already think of themselves as failures, have to sense of accomplishment. Have anger, generally displaced, as Sarah says, at being infantilized, sidelined. Not useful, not needed.

    1. The key to a UBI – for those of us (e.g. me) who’ve pondered it is that it needs to be only about 75% of what you need to live on (basic food + minimal shelter). In other words even with a UBI you have to get out and work a bit to have any sort of housing better than living under a bridge.

      It might actually be better to bring back the workhouse with all its Dickensian misery because that misery provided the incumbents and potential incumbents with a HUGE incentive to not be there but did more or less keep body and soul together if you hit rock bottom

      1. In the past I’ve advocated just that, replacing the entire current welfare system with local and regional workhouses. If people are going to be supported by the government, they should live in government-provided barracks, eat in government messes, and work at jobs the government mandates (preferably jobs that private enterprise contracted with the government to provide the labor for).

        1. If the government – at any level – is going to run workhouses those houses should have zero economic productivity. Things like digging ditches and filling them back in or casting manhole covers and remelting them. otherwise you end up with the government profiting from unemployed people. You do NOT want to incentivize Leviathan like that.

          1. We have some state prison systems doing just that.

            Florida’s prison system rebuilds automatic transmissions and sells them through a front company. They’re undercutting commercial prices by using tax-free slave labor.

        1. I know. That’s because the people that implement it aren’t willing to be properly tough about the conditions. UBI needs to be 1) THE ONLY GOVERNMENT AID and 2) Not enough (quite) to live on

          In this day and age of woolly headed statist innumerates it probably never will be implemented sufficiently toughly so I don’t think we should have it. Even though it seems attractive at first

    2. On the other hand it could make “stay at home mother” less of a financial strain on the family.

      Nah, you know that it would just make having kids at all more costly, because the folks working would have to be supporting even more people.

      We can handle not spending money we don’t have, when I can do stuff at home– we can’t afford double the taxes.

      1. Taxes have always been our biggest expense, throughout our entire marriage. I don’t THINK we can afford anymore until the kids are graduated and off the payroll.

        1. Here’s a favorite story of my mother. When she and my father wed, she would earn tax money by picking up and selling pecans. She used to laugh about how it’s not possible now. Lately she wonders if it’s not so much taxes increasing as buying power decreasing.

          1. For a while now I’ve wondered whether the high price of gasoline was due to oil going up or the dollar going down. I finally concluded the answer is yes. There are those who profit from obscuring the reasons.

            1. Mostly due to the government shutting down refineries with the power of environmental regulations.
              It creates a bottleneck, and an artificial shortage.
              Same with not expanding the pipelines to accommodate a growing population.
              When light sweet crude was $100 a barrel in the early ’90s, gas was still under a buck a gallon. Recently, crude has been down to $30 a barrel, but gas was still two bucks a gallon. And that certainly isn’t due to an increase in wages!

              1. Luke your data is obviously incorrect. Think about it, a barrel is 55 gallons (US). If it were $100/ barrel and the refinery yielded 100% octane (aka gasoline which it NEVER does) you’d have a minimum materials cost of $1.81/ gallon. Now the oil companies have done stupid things in their time but losing 80+ cents/gallon is not one of them. A quick look for August 1993 shows WTI (West Texas Intermediate, aka light sweet crude) selling for $46.97/barrel Daily spot price ( Looking in the same period (August 1993)for gasoline prices we see ~$1.06/gallon for gasoline ( There was a bottom in WTI in February of this year of $30.35 (ibid) with gas prices at about 1.80 a gallon(ibid). So on that you may have a point.

                Please note I believe the gas prices are WITHOUT the excise tax. Federal excise is 18.4 cents/gallon, here in Massachusetts the total excise is 45.3 cents per gallon. Getting under $1/gallon is going to be hard when you’ve got almost half that in excise tax. Figuring about 55% yield octane from WTI you’re talking $25-28/barrelto get .45/gallon (pre tax). Of course figuring in inflation ( from 1993 $1.00 1993 looks to be about $1.66 2016 so there’s a little more room there if you believe the CPI.

                1. One minor quibble: are we sure that the gasoline that goes in our tanks contains no significant additives to the oil?

                  Given that it is a very volatile substance, it seems not unreasonable to assume some amount of additives are introduced in the production process and that their cost per gallon is lower than that of the oil. Thus if the finished product is only 50% petroleum the yield per barrel is doubled.

                  Other than that I concur in your reasoning. I recall back in the Nineties doing the math after hearing one too many complaints about the Europeons not complaining about their high pump prices and determining that, once you converted gallons to liters and stripped out the taxes their price per unit was about the same as ours — and their level of taxes laid upon the product were accounted fully for the difference paid at the pump here and there.

                2. I actually looked this up recently to verify that I had remembered it correctly: When processing purely for gasoline (instead of taking whatever fractions are available, they can alter the process to produce almost all gasoline, even though it is not all octane), a 42-gal barrel of crude oil can produce 44 gallons of gasoline, because so much of it is higher-number carbon chains, which can be “cracked” to recombine to become part of the gasoline mixture.

            2. It was mostly because the Saudis were restricting how much could be extracted from their reservoirs so they could keep the prices high. Currently they’re running their wells at max capacity to keep prices low in order to kill the competition (US and Russia mostly. Iran was already exporting via Iraq so they’re not part of the drop.)

              The professional society of which I am a member had a numbers guy in as a guest speaker a few months back. It was a really fascinating talk. Especially the main reason they didn’t crash things out while Shale Oil was still paying back all the parts of figuring out how to do it efficiently (and thereby actually hinder our ability to produce the stuff). He was sitting with some of his Saudi counter parts and they were discussing the vast CIA conspiracy that was American Shale Oil. It was apparently very difficult not to laugh in their faces. (His response was that he got a check for a horizontal well that had been dug under his property. If it was the CIA writing it, he was still going to cash it.)

  12. I am seeing in my own job a disturbing consequence of the “I deserve…” generation. I do maintenance work at a university, and our department is short-handed enough to the point where we have to outsource the lawn care.

    The big problem is that we are all in our 50s, now, and we cannot hire any young people to do this job. They won’t do it. It’s a dirty, difficult job, with nights and weekends and some very early mornings (on snow days we usually start between 3 and 5 am).

    When I started apprenticing as a locksmith, it was understood that the way to learn the business was to start at the bottom, making little money and doing all the dull jobs like sweeping the floor and stocking shelves. Over time you learned enough of the business that you were worth paying more, and could foist off the crap jobs to the new guys.

    Only there aren’t any new guys any more. No one wants to start at the bottom, and no one wants to mow lawns or unclog toilets or change lightbulbs. It’s not so much the money–the university offers very good benefits and a competitive salaries–it’s the work.

    From what I have seen men who are in their twenties today expect to be able to work in an air conditioned office and never do anything more strenuous than clicking a mouse. They have been sold as normative the idea that a few years of extended adolescence in college will guarantee them an easy life. (Yes, I realize the irony of our department, in effect, contributing to its own destruction.)

    It makes me seriously worry about what is likely to happen in the next decades, when the men who keep the infrastructure of the nation running have to retire without passing on their skills and knowledge to a new generation. We’re ending up like the second space ark from Douglas Adam’s “Hitchhiker” books, a group of sheep standing around in a forest, too well educated to build a fire.

    1. Which is why people who learn machining, carpentry, welding, plumbing and lots of other ‘you get dirty and sweaty’ jobs are in such demand. And make damn good pay.

      1. Depends on your definition of “damned good”, I suppose. I haven’t had a raise in about 8 years and with the increase in the cost of our insurance I actually bring home less than when I started. Right now I make just a little bit more than what liberals consider a “living wage” for running a cash register at a fast food restaurant.

        1. well, until last year, when they made me a trainer, instead of a hands on work leader I twisted wrenches (actually plied multimeters…) for a living as an electrician… between my wife (who is also a work leader) and I we make a solid 6 digits… I call that good, don’t you?

            1. and if you expect to start at that pay for manual work, you’ll be sadly disappointed. I got to that pay rate by working my ass off, over a long career, and being better than some others. You start at the bottom, and work your way up. In my case I did that twice, once in the military, then post retirement, started at the bottom again… if you’re too lazy to do that, you should go hungry.

                1. I managed it in 12, (On my second career) YMMV depending upon skill and position. in total (my military experience is also electronics) I have now 35 years as well.

                  1. In my estimation, skill and experience mean much less than choosing a field where government licensing causes an artificial scarcity to drive up salaries.

                    1. Government licensing driving up salaries is a big thing today, certainly, but it does not seem to be strictly required in order to get salaries above $30k. I live in Dallas and have been experimenting with the AngularJS software library, and when Google noticed that I was doing a lot of AngularJS-related searches from Dallas it started feeding me AngularJS-related DFW-area job advertisements. The ads are not the weird who-knows-unless-you-know-somebody uselessly vague job ads (too coy to mention salaries anywhere? then will you please shut the hell up about having trouble attracting people to move to an expensive inconveniently remote boomtown?) that I consistently ran into when I tried to help a native speaker of Korean investigate the possibility of working in one of the oil-shale boomtowns a few years ago. The AngularJS-related ads tend to be clear about offering salaries starting around $80k and running into the 100-odd-thousand range, and unlike in some software job markets (notably the SF bay area) it is not terribly expensive to live in the DFW area, and AngularJS programming is not heavily encumbered by licensing.

                    2. Marine electricians aren’t licensed in the state of Washington, but you keep looking for excuses there sparky

                    3. “it is not terribly expensive to live in the DFW area”

                      Trailing daughter #2 was transferred there almost a year ago. She says in Dallas house prices are going up 1% a month, which is the other reason she and her husband just bought a house instead of waiting until they could afford their preferred community.

                    4. “Dallas house prices are going up 1% a month”

                      What I am most familiar with is not house prices but apartment prices, particularly 1-bedroom apartments in areas near tech companies, and such 1-BR apartments prices seem to be comfortably less than half the Silicon Valley price, and the gap does not seem to be closing fast if indeed it is closing at all.

                      From the average of all 1-BR apartments in Silicon Valley was $2,361, more than twice what I pay for my reasonably nice very conveniently situated 1-BR apartment in Plano. (I am perhaps half a mile south of the Sam’s Club and Wal-Mart supercenter on the southeast fringe of the enormous and apparently quite prosperous Stonebriar mall/stripmall complex, and 1-3 miles from many sizable office buildings including a pretty good proportion of obviously-tech companies like HP and Intel.)

                      I couldn’t find good Plano numbers but for anyone prepared to make a Silicon-Valley-style longer commute from further away in the metroplex, says “average monthly rents throughout the area have jumped to $888.” And “at midyear, average apartment rents in North Texas are up almost 4 percent from a year ago. That’s the largest growth rate ever reported by longtime analyst MPF Research.”

                2. As long as you are working for a university, the answer is “never.”

                  You need to be working for someone other than a gang of entitled, government-subsidized Marxists. Bad chess to them.

      2. BTW, the idea that machinists, carpenters, welders, etc. make damn good pay is essentially- not true. Some skilled tradesmen make good money. In my experience, most don’t. Search through your local help wanted and look at the jobs listing pay scales. I just did here, with a range from $15-$25/hr for experienced tradesmen in a variety of skills.

        If you’re in the right place at the right time, or know someone, there are well compensated skilled trade jobs available. Or, if you’re in an area that requires licensing of trades like plumbers and electricians. But then, that needing to know someone really comes into effect.

        Some of the really dirty and sweaty jobs make good money simply to get people to do them. And some are really hard on the body; you’re not going to stay in them as a career. Oil roughneck, for example. Or anything involved with drilling. Tough, dirty, dangerous. With high turnover because it’s tough, dirty, and dangerous.

        1. Yeah, I enjoyed my time as oil patch trash. Was fit, made pretty good money. Not a career. Too many broken down ‘old’ men in their forties. Good times for a twenty-something though.

    2. I have some friends whose now 20’s son when he graduated was very unhappy he couldn’t get a job in the corner office. He did not like at all starting at the bottom and having to work his way up.

      1. I suspect that a lot of that is that when I was 20 the difference between starting at the bottom and not working at all was the difference between eating and not eating. Today a job that just covers the necessities means doing a lot more work for not much more than most Americans can figure out how to get from welfare–sometimes less.

          1. So true. When I lived in California with a wife and a baby girl I was very acutely aware that they would have had a higher standard of living from the state if I had left them than I was able to provide on my salary. Insane.

            1. Well, that’s how we got inner-city blacks who’ve been matriarchal for three generations now – they responded to the incentives provided by welfare, which gave higher benefits to women with children if there was no husband/father in the household.

    3. I’m not so sure that it’s young kids don’t want to start at the bottom so much as no one want to hire and train helpers and apprentices. I work as a boiler operator/stationary engineer for the feds. When there’s a job vacancy, everyone wants to hire someone with experience. We poached our last new hire from a private college. He’s in his 40’s. He’s the youngest operator we have.

      Worse then that, the powers that be want to downgrade the jobs pay rate. because a college education isn’t required. Typical government bureaucracy. They already can’t fill positions, they want to reduce the pay because a college degree isn’t required, and they don’t want to hire trainees because as soon as they’re experienced- they can go elsewhere if there isn’t an immediate opening. And the job is 24/7/365. Rotating shifts suck, and fixed shift means the junior guy gets midnights until someone more senior retires.

      And I’ll bet if you look at what your university offers for pay and benefits- it isn’t really that great. Otherwise you’d fill the jobs. I was making $11.00/hr part time working in a big box. Local hospital had a maintenance supervisor position open. Heck, a supervisor job! I applied, figuring I could go M-F and work one job. They were paying $9.50/hr. They filled the job, but not with me. I have to wonder at the actual quality of maintenance work that goes on there.

      1. Because “people need a living wage” and minimum wage laws, health benefits, unemployment insurance costs, employment taxes, FICA, and the like employers can’t afford to hire and train people on the job. Can’t hire a teenager because you can’t get your money’s worth. (Can you say “It’s simpler and cheaper to hire someone off the books, like, f’rinstance, an illegal alien”, boys and girls? Yes, I knew you could.)

      2. I was told recently that nobody would be willing to work seasonally for the store I’m a full time manager at for less than what I’m making. As a manager. With more than a few years of management experience. On the one hand, I wanted to tell them what to do with that opinion. On the other, the lack of applications for even our regular part time positions says they’re right.

        And then there’s the people who are willing to work for what we’re offering because they need the outside of academia experience but don’t do weekends, evenings or mornings before 11. Who, when asked how they would react to a rule they don’t agree with, all answered that they’d find the person in charge and ask them to change the rule.

        Sometimes I wonder if being humble and willing to work your way up makes me a sap or if these people are still largely unemployed.

        1. *boggle-eye’d expression* Ye gads and little fishes. Last year I considered applying for a seasonal holiday job at a local retailer that was hiring, but decided not to. Why? Because my day job sometimes lasts just long enough it would have been a problem with the shift they were hiring for, and I was not about to apply and say, “Oh, yeah, and I’ll need to start late some days. No, I don’t know when because I may find out that morning.” 1) No one would accept me under those terms and 2) It’s rude to do that to employers. But I’m starting to think that I was raised in a parallel universe. Some days I’m thinking perpendicular universe even.

          1. Our shifts are 3-4 hours long and I have people who can’t start until 6 pm during the week. It just *head desk* But, honestly, there are days where I’d consider those kinds of conditions as long as you had a pulse, were willing to learn, and didn’t argue about everything.

    1. Someone else’s Original Sin, never your own.*

      * Personally, I think a little more teaching of Original Sin might not be a bad idea, meaning “Yes, the world is unfair, it can be cruel, it can be mean, and terrible things happen to people who didn’t deserve it. Why? Here’s a couple possibilities. Now suck up, grit your teeth, and start digging, oh Son of Adam and Daughter of Eve.”

      1. Every person has that original sin. And as such everyone has that lil devil on their shoulder. For many it is greed of one form or another (Most of the deadly sins revolve around wanting an excessive amount of a good for yourself.) This is why the idea of utopian socialism where everyone cooperates and no one tries to take more of the pie than another is farcical.

        1. I recently saw (did not read — I am no longer sufficiently intelligent to read all drivel without impairing my smart) an article which seemed to claim that the Doctrine of Original Sin was the reason so many Americans reject Welfare and a Guaranteed Basic Income; it is because we are Christian that we believe [Genesis 3:19 (BBE)] With the hard work of your hands you will get your bread till you go back to the earth from which you were take.”

          1. I prefer exodus 20:15 Thou shalt not steal and 20:17 thou shalt not covet…

            I will donate my dollar and time to the community. Not 90¢ to a bureaucracy which lives in the richest suburbs in the country with maybe 10¢ going to anyone that meets criteria to drive numbers up

    2. Nah, Original Sin is “People as a whole were given a gift, your ancestors who received it broke it, and you’ve got to deal with that gift being broken.”

      The modern “social justice” is more like belief in witches as the cause of misfortune — which, I’ll point out, greatly predates Christianity. “That person is doing better than I am, they must have done SOMETHING to take it from me.”

      The idea of a starting point is different; OS is that we were only better as a gift, SJ is that we’re only worse as a wrong.

  13. The food handed down is distributed by kleptocracy (as it is to most welfare victims) which creates little tribes, in which the dignitaries take the lion share and the rest is handed out by tribe and loyalty-pledging.

    When it’s not straight-up grabbed from the disarmed distributors by the warlords, yeah.

  14. “These are the children who weren’t made to strive.” I’ve read that Donald Trump made his strive. D9 Cat drivers, his boys.

      1. Get out on one in 90+ degrees and operate it in tight quarters for 8 hours without damaging anything you didn’t want to. Then talk.

        Beats handing his kids the key to a corner office right off the bat.

  15. Even the middle class kids who don’t do much of anything can survive on practically nothing.  Sure they won’t have the big house, or the car, or–  But their Marxist professors (and school teachers — trust me, I read my kids’ school books) taught them that it’s shameful to have too much, because it means you stole from someone else.

    This involves the rejection of the virtue of gratitude, too– if someone has more than you do, and gives you some, then it isn’t them giving you something, it’s them belatedly granting you what was your due.

    That’s poison. It means that even when someone gets lucky, recognizes that luck, and shares it, they get attacked rather than even being able to see that they improved someone who didn’t thank them.

    1. “that which we achieve to cheaply we value to little” (Ben Franklin, speaking of liberty) also known as the Cabrini Green rule or the indian res rule.

  16. Hamlet says we are born to die. Heinlein says we are born to strife.

    Steppenwolf says we’re born to be wild.

    1. Someone seems to have misplaced the like button, which is a shame, because this comment needs it badly.

  17. On a little bit of an off topic note, looks like the Dragons came out pretty well. At least this time I had read two of the novels.

        1. It won’t surprise me if we hear that argument soon enough. I’ve heard enough snobbish remarks by certain types of fan about conventions that were either run by “the wrong sort of fans” or were “for profit.”

          1. I think it’s time we faced the fact that WorldCon is basically a faded old gas station on what used to be Route 66, that might have had some historical significance once but is now largely passed by and of use only to a dwindling group of aging regulars…

            1. Hey, Route 66 is fun, man, and some of those old gas stations are really neat. At least when you’re on vacation and killing time because a forest fire is blanketing half your planned destinations in smoke.

      1. Thanks for the link. I’m quite liking the results. Of those I recognize, I have no complaints that any of them were unworthy of winning. That is a significant improvement over some of the Hugo results I’ve seen in the past.

        1. No. no. It means the International Lord of hate has a Dragon! Probably two, because can you see the Brain In A Jar (John C. Wright) cleaning up the dragon pen when the ILOH’s minions can do that for him? And two dragons is a good start on a Dragon Army, especially if he can borrow David Weber’s dragon…

      2. Mr. C’s Son of the Black Sword really deserved the award. I was deeply impressed by it. Larry’s Monster Hunter stuff is a great read a real romp. But Son of the Black sword was a great read AND there’s a whole bunch of other stuff going on too. And as for the CHORF’s, Mick Jagger had a quote about people not be able to take a joke that applies. Who needs an ugly plastic spaceship anyhow…

      3. And having looked at the the results in detail I feel the folowing from Conan the Babarian is appropriate:

        Conan what is best in life?

        To crush your enemies. To see them driven before you. To hear the lamentations of their women.

        The Chorf’s aren’t really enemies (far to lame for that), but the response across the network does put me in mind of that quote…

  18. … there are entire populations that are given some sort of dole, and treated as if they were incompetent children.

    More than treated as if — they are required to behave as if they were incompetent children. Read anything by Star Parker or any of the others who’ve rejected that life; you will see that the rules for remaining on Welfare require you to abjure any effort at improving your life, because any incremental advancement results in punitive reductions of your benefits. You are barred from forming two-parent households, you are deterred from accumulating savings against future need, your industry discouraged, your resources pillaged… worst of all your very character stifled.

    The only outlets for entrepreneurial activity are illegal, the only hope for climbing out is the lottery.

    1. Ayup.

      It’s vile.

      Add to that that every bit of education they might pick up, every piece of mass media they consume, and any do-folders who might show up to “help” relentlessly and mercilessly indoctrinated them in the idea that they have no agency, that NOTHING is their responsibility – failures or sucesses – they owe it all to Big Mamma Gummint.


  19. We live next to the Crow and Northern Cheyenne reservations. And, for this area, a stones throw from three others. My family has for more than a century. In Dad’s and my lifetime the Bureau of Indian Affairs welfare state has destroyed their cultures. It took two generations.

    We have a strong reaction to those leftists who now want to do the same for the entire culture.

    1. There’s a book I sometimes like to recommend under the title: Absolutely True Diary of a full-time Federal Dependent that does a good job exposing this reality.

      And IIRC Job Stossell had a piece comparing the social capital and economic success of Amerindian tribes who hadn’t gotten “recognized” by the BoIA and those who had. It was eye-opening. Including an ctivist determined to get this “injustice” rectified so that she could siphon off her share of the federal dollars — and over the vociferous objection of actual tribal members with successful lives.

      1. Naomi Schaefer Riley has been working on a book about the state of American Indians

        The New Trail of Tears: How Washington is Destroying American Indians
        If you want to know why American Indians have the highest rates of poverty of any racial group, why suicide is the leading cause of death among Indian men, why native women are two and a half times more likely to be raped than the national average and why gang violence affects American Indian youth more than any other group, do not look to history. There is no doubt that white settlers devastated Indian communities in the 19th, and early 20th centuries. But it is our policies today—denying Indians ownership of their land, refusing them access to the free market and failing to provide the police and legal protections due to them as American citizens—that have turned reservations into small third-world countries in the middle of the richest and freest nation on earth.

        The tragedy of our Indian policies demands reexamination immediately—not only because they make the lives of millions of American citizens harder and more dangerous—but also because they represent a microcosm of everything that has gone wrong with modern liberalism. They are the result of decades of politicians and bureaucrats showering a victimized people with money and cultural sensitivity instead of what they truly need—the education, the legal protections and the autonomy to improve their own situation.

        If we are really ready to have a conversation about American Indians, it is time to stop bickering about the names of football teams and institute real reforms that will bring to an end this ongoing national shame.

  20. “first lady who thinks Harvard was INSUFFICIENTLY welcome to a girl of undistinguished academic background,”

    Obama studied the attitudes of black Princeton alumni to determine what effect their time at Princeton had on their identification with the black community. “My experiences at Princeton have made me far more aware of my ‘Blackness’ than ever before,” she wrote in her introduction. “I have found that at Princeton no matter how liberal and open-minded some of my White professors and classmates try to be toward me, I sometimes feel like a visitor on campus; as if I really don’t belong.”

    Welcome to the human condition. I wonder if some part of the imposter syndrome increases the willingness to seek or accept a dishonest edge.

  21. Reblogged this on The Arts Mechanical and commented:
    I think that the reason that Socialism and all the other ‘isms are created from Romantic thought is that only those separated from strife could actually believe that any of that would actually work. Of course the consequences are still more strife on the poor victims of the Romantic dreams.

  22. Any chance you can recollect the name of that young man? I believe I’d like to send him some money for books/stories. My older boys are just starting to hit this “You must act this way because of your skin color,” concept, and aside from driving their mom to drink (“They are not African-American. They are Cameroonian-Finnish-Dutch-English American, if you must know.”) it’s a problem for them of figuring out how they fit. Anyone who is addressing those issues in any way that is not encouraging kids to view themselves of victims of something that not only didn’t happen to them, it didn’t happen to their ancestors, I would like to read and pass onto the kids when appropriate.

    1. This here’s the story of how the evil Democrats tried to murder good Republicans, like my grandpappy, merely to win elections. They did this because they could, and because winning on their own merits would have meant working harder, and stealing less from the public.

      There are a lot of people in the world, and you can’t control anywhere near most of them. Potentially you can influence local politics, make the cost of organized political murder too high to causally pay, or get out while the getting is good.

      1. No, I can’t control other people, but I can try to give my kids tools and ideas about how other folks have dealt with the same issues.h

        1. Sorry, that wasn’t addressing your post, that was my take on message fiction involving certain parts of US History. I’ve been making some poor sleeping choices lately, which hurts how well I can write. Not that I haven’t also been making poor writing choices.

  23. Bravo!
    I’ve been wondering over the last day or so how the U.S. might solve its issue of racial division. Socialism, under the direction of progressives, has created an entire sub-culture of maladjusted, uneducated underachievers. Most of them are white, but a disproportionate number of them are black. Having created this entitled sub-class (or sub-classes), the left is now required to continue to pander to it by electoral demographics and a healthy sense of self-preservation. Some blacks are now demanding racially segregated autonomous regions. So now we’ve created our very own “Palestinian” problem. I foresee bloodshed, and a great deal of it.

    Will it end in the creation of our own version of Coventry?

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