Living In Your Time

For reasons of an older relative’s birthday, someone I respect and love, and whose opinions I discount — often — with “he is a man of his time” I was thinking again of the ephemeral quality of human life.

No, I’m not sad about it, and it’s not even a depressing thing.  It’s more that we humans tend to act like we’re forever and as if the opinions and views of our age will last forever.  There is to the human soul — I think — an intimation of eternity that makes it hard for us to see how temporally bound to a passing time and place we are.

We live in our little niche and get to see — nowadays — maybe all of 90 years or so (said relative informed me you’re only old after 80, so stop whining and go work) but we behave like it’s forever, and like what we get to see lasts forever.

Hence all the talks about how we shouldn’t read the racist/sexist/eeevile people of the past, because you know, they don’t accord with how the world is currently seen.  And the direction we see is, of course, the right one and forever.

It never occurs to the people saying this that their opinions, views and intent may be reviled in the future.  No, it doesn’t matter if their idea is towards greater equality of male and female (end results, not even before the law, mind, which yes, is a problem.)  The classical world, having more surplus production and therefore “wealth” than the medieval world allowed greater equality of females in society (at least as usual in certain classes, at certain times.)

The medieval world which came after was against it.  And it’s no use all your saying that that is not right.  Where are you judging right and wrong?  By the standards of your time?  Your time too shall be judged and found wanting.

Take my disagreements with this older relative: he believes in a much greater place for the state than I do.  No, he’s not leftist.  But his seeing the 20th century unfold in fire and blood did not cure him of the idea that what we need are good men at the reins.  Because that’s how his mind was formed at a very young age.  None of us does well at stepping beyond the assumptions instilled before we were even literate.  To the extent I do a little better at shedding those, it is because I had to acculturate to a new nation and beliefs, a process that leads you to question everything and is a little going insane.

So, if the future is to laugh at us; if what is considered moral and virtue signaling in our time isn’t “forever right” how do we live? Who is to guide us?  What do we believe in?

I’ll tell you what I told an acquaintance who is just now wading into public politics and discussions hinging on opinions (and history, and study, but mostly opinions): Don’t go with the loudest voice; don’t oppose progressives just because they’re progressives; don’t turn all the lies on their head and think that’s the truth; don’t cut slack to those on your side behaving badly (sure, defend them when they’re under attack, if the attack is unfair, but still call them out on their bullsh*t.)

Find out what your principles are.  Examine them ruthlessly.  Don’t be shocked if in some you agree with the left.  (For instance, I want equality under the law for men and women, and I’m quite happy with more women in stem, but since I view people as individuals, I don’t believe in SHOVING women into stem to prove an ideological point.  I also think gay marriage is a stabilizing force in society, because marriage is a quintessential bourgeois institution, and once gay people enter into it, they stop being weapons of the left. [Though I also believe in the right of churches to refuse to perform said marriage, because the civil institution and the religious one are separate, even if people get confused about it.]  Also, bourgeois institutions will save the west. We need to teach our kids about them more.  ALL our kids.)  Don’t be surprised if in some you disagree both with the left and the right.

You can’t guess whether the future will decide you’re a monster.  So if you’re going to be pilloried as a monster, make sure it is for something you believe in.  Examine your beliefs.  Get them down to “Here I stand. I can do no other.”  And once you’re there, let the attacks come: attacks now, attacks in the future, attacks in the past, if we discover time machines.

Once you found the things you truly believe in and are willing to fight for (even if future events can lead you to change your mind, because you’re only human and you’re not part of a cult) and you’re not following the weather vane of someone else’s opinions, you have a place to stand.  And you can face eternity with a smile.

203 responses to “Living In Your Time

  1. I keep meaning to improve my post on not escaping the air you breathe. I’m not happy with it in its current form. Part of it is saying that there is something today—and not something either the left or right is focused on—that is going to seem horrendous to folk in the future. And we think nothing of it, and we have no idea what it will be.

    • sabrinachase

      Taking *someone else’s biome* and transferring it to another. (Blood transfusions, organ donation). How could that possibly be voluntary, and how barbaric when they could have just used the printer to grow them a new one! Bringing a baby to term in a body that is exposed to all kinds of hazards, instead of the vault-like safety of the gestational facility with constant medical monitoring! SAVAGES! 😀 Cluttering up the landscape with power and data conduits, not to mention waste disposal? You mean, mommy, they didn’t have their own reactors? Why???

      • And we KNOW those savages *knew*, in their heart of hearts, that transfusions were wrong–there was a whole movement against it, called the Jehovah’s Witnesses. But most of society, even the ones who read the same holy book where the words were plain to see but apparently impossible to understand, were too married to the comforts and possibilities of transfusion to call for its end. Who’s to say how much sooner we could have come up with artificial blood if more people had stood on principal?

        • Even JWs are not all in the same mind on transfusions. Some don’t even want their own blood, others store it up when an operation is needed, others will do transfusions from family …

          • I assure you all such distinctions will be erased by the future moralists.

            (Actually that’s ridiculously interesting I love learning things like this! Thanks!)

            • I had some co-workers who were JW (it was father, two sons, and once a cousin) and their Grannie/Mom in Mexico had to have an operation. I asked the more devout son what they were doing about blood need. He explained the above, and that she was trying for none needed, had a few pints of her own stored just in case, and was willing to get some from her sons if worst came to worst. His father was going down for the Op just in case he was needed.

      • Feeding people poison because they were sick, and hoping it would kill the sick parts faster than the healthy ones.

        • And talking about feeding – have you SEEN what they were told to eat! And WHEN during the day, and how often! What they assumed was a healthy diet! OMG! How many people got sick and died before their time due to that, that… stupidity! Even when there were studies which proved it was wrong!

  2. The thing is, if you insist on thinking for yourself you stand a good chance of being invited to a bipartisan barbecue, where the Progressive Left ties you to the stake and the Conservative Right holds the torch.

  3. paladin3001

    It’s gotten to the point I have to keep my mouth shut. As one friend of a friend stated, “You sound intolerant”. She said that like a bad thing. Trouble is that I am intolerant to a lot of things and I have to stand somewhere. I choose where to stand and how to stand. I also choose to have my opinion swayed by decent facts and not by feelings. I guess I am a bit of a fossil these days.

    • I sound intolerant? You would deny that the natural state of women is subservience to men, and equally deny that the proper function of the African is in service to the European — principles which have long stood the test of time, and you call me intolerant? Nor do you tolerate my desire for a warmer, more productive world, one free of those festering sinkholes defacing our coasts.

      What you mean is that I must tolerate your momentary styles of ethics while you are free to be intolerant of my time-proven ethos.

      • Nor do you tolerate my desire for a warmer, more productive world, one free of those festering sinkholes defacing our coasts.

        Heheheheheheheheheheheheh.
        Good thing you’re not evil.

  4. I have long felt that the state needs to stop with the marriage license business and simply issue contracts of civil union. Then the parties involved can if they so wish seek out a religious ceremony to bless the contract. And if your current religion won’t participate there are others who most certainly will. I attended several marriage ceremonies in churches between gay couples long before any state would issue them a legal license, so it’s not exactly a new idea.

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

      Elsewhere, there was a discussion on this.

      Many in the gay community weren’t interested in “gay marriage” and pushed “same-sex civil unions” with some success.

      Unfortunately, Progressives supported the gays who wanted not only the term “marriage” but who also believed in forcing (in due time) churches to perform religious gay marriages.

      So the idea of “secular marriage” being replaced by “secular civil unions” is a dead idea. 😦

      • No, the idea isn’t dead. It’s current realization may be, but the idea, never.

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          Dead especially when some numb-skull thinks us “Religious Conservatives” missed a chance to “make peace with nice gays”. 😦

      • Oh, the term should be marriage. Why? Because I saw what the term “civil union” did to STRAIGHTS elsewhere. It has no weight of tradition and becomes valueless.
        BUT there should be civil marriage and religious marriage.

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          A few years back, the idea of using the term “civil unions” for “secular marriage” came up on the Bar (and included the idea that “civil unions” would included “same sex civil unions”).

          At least one person “jumped down my throat” because “how dare you say that I’m not married”.

          The person had done a civil marriage.

          It was somewhat annoying because the person “attacked” me not the other people who liked the idea. 😉

      • In California, civil unions were quite literally the excuse used to force same sex marriage on the state.

        California passed an anti-same sex marriage ballot proposition back during the ’90s. Some time later, a proposition turned up on the ballot to create and allow civil unions so that same sex partners (among others) could enjoy the various legal benefits. Shortly after it was passed (by popular vote), the highest court in the state claimed that because civil unions existed, banning same sex marriage violated the state constitution.

        Or in other words, if Californians hadn’t voted in favor of that ballot measure creating civil unions, the court wouldn’t have ruled that banning same sex marriage violated the state constitution.

        No, I don’t understand the reasoning, either.

        That ruling then prompted Prop 8, which I’m sure you’re already familiar with if you have an interest in the topic of same sex marriage in the US.

    • Yeah, me too. It’s one of the few things I think Portugal does better.

    • Feather Blade

      I’m inclined to think that the only function the state should have regarding marriages is “Preservation of Records”.

      You get married in your church (or other religious institution), sign church documents regarding what both parties to the marriage swore (specific to each religion, or their secular contractual equivalent), submit the documents to the County records office for preservation and archiving, and away you go.

      You want a divorce, you do it on your religious institution’s terms or not at all. (Submit to the Records Office a signed affidavit that the marriage has been dissolved according to the standards under which the marriage was entered.) For secular ones it would be a matter of filing a dissolution of contract agreement.

      Let each live according to the standards of his culture.

      • The state’s interest in marriage is basically property. The state needs to understand who, individually or collectively, owns various real and personal property that they want to tax, and who gets it when the owner(s) are not around anymore, who is the next of kin who can act for an incapacitated person, and the biggie – Who is gonna pay to feed, clothe, and house those kids?

        This could all be done via contract, but for most people the package deal of marriage with all of the associated laws and customs is simpler for most people.

        • Ahhh… unless by “property” you mean “children” (an ancient and beloved concept for most of the world) then. No.

          If you insert slot A in tab B you risk producing live human offspring. H. sap, the most potent, dangerous, interesting, capable predator on the planet. You want civilized H. sap? You want your enlightened cultural traditions taming the beast?

          You need a social AND legal institution to control the means of production. The more stable social institutions, the less legal, but the latter needs to support the former.

          And that’s without getting into the positive opportunities that the human creature presents for joy, intellectual accomplishment, beauty, and creative endeavor. You need all the above for that as well.

          Christian marriage as the norm that everyone abides by, with a provision for at-fault divorce is provably the best option for the most people. But if you can’t have that, and if you live in an all-encompassing state, where what is not prohibited is required (and vice versa) than civil contracts controlling merged human households is better than what we’ve got now, in which the social institution is being undermined at every turn, and the legal one exists mainly to shaft the productive class.

          • I didn’t mean that children are property, but that the state takes an interest in them being housed, fed, and cared for in order to enhance stability. Most people tend to do that anyway, but when they don’t the state steps in. It is better, whenever possible, that the state collects from the parents rather than the public at large. (And yes, the system for doing so is broken and full of horror stories and should be fixed.)

        • Feather Blade

          Seems to me that that matter too could be solved by defaulting to the standards of the religion under which a couple were married.

          “You religion says that a husband can divorce his wife for any reason, and she gets nothing except her own dowry/ the husband can’t keep any of the money and posessions she brought into the marriage? Well, tough. Those are the terms you agreed to when you got married.”

        • I’d disagree. I think the state has an additional interest in marriage.

          Kids raised in two-parent homes tend to turn out better. Married couples tend to produce a more stable home environment. Ergo, (good) marriages are actually in the state’s interest because they will tend to produce kids that turn out better and are thus more likely to become well-adjusted adults who are productive members of society.

        • According to Michael Badnarik’s class on the Constitution, marriage licensing was adopted as a method to prevent or severely reduce miscegenation in the post-bellum South.

          I suspect it goes back farther than that, to when James the shepherd and Mary the milkmaid could not wed until they received permission from their Lord. Husband being the root of husbandry, and all that.

      • What if one of the parties disagrees?

    • When my wife and I got married, we wanted my brother, who at the time was waiting for his call to his first church, to marry us. At the time the state of Illinois required a clergyman to be licensed by the state to perform a legal marriage. We dodged this by having a civil ceremony in Arlington, Virginia (where we lived at the time,) then went to Chicago (where her family lived) and had a religious ceremony in front of family and friends. We always celebrated our anniversary on the date when we had a wedding, not when we signed papers with the justice of the peace. Worked fine for us.

      • We did both as well, for reasons of international marriage. We celebrate both because thanks to the INS, they are six months apart.

        • Our gap was only three days, so the only person who worried about which we celebrated was my mother. 🙂

          • In Portugal that is normal. Priests aren’t allowed to marry you LEGALLY only religiously. So people have a “civil marriage’ usually a couple of weeks before, leading up to the ceremony. You don’t even remember when it was, and no one considers it a marriage. The real marriage is the ceremony with family later.
            UNLESS you’re only having a civil ceremony, like my brother, in which case you have that with all pomp and circumstance and the court official will come wherever you want to have it. (in this case our house.)

            • We had civil marriage first so I could be Steve’s health insurance. I was only his fiancee. If I’d been his same sex partner I could get on his benefits.

              • Isn’t it wonderful how quickly we’ve become more enlightened in our policies so that you could now claim to identify as the same gender as Steve and claim those benefits?

        • We DID have an additional pseudo-anniversary. We were both active in the Trivia Club on Q-Link (AOL’s original service for Commodore 64s.) Sometime in September, I made a post to explain why we hadn’t been around as much lately. I announced that we had gotten married on June 30th. My darling bride pointed out that we had actually been married on JULY 30th. I was trying to explain that it felt like we’d always been married, but the actual words that came out of my mouth were “Well it SEEMS longer!”

      • FlyingMike

        Here in the Glorious and Soon Yet More Bankrupt Peoples Republic of California, the county is the issuer of marriage licenses. When we did ours they were happy to delegate to anyone the officiation duties as long as we so designated when we got (i.e paid for and picked up in person) the license.

        We had a family friend officiate for us, but that field is where one designates one’s pastor, priest, rabbi, imam or coven leader* so they can perform both the civil act and any religious ceremony that is desired.

        * Apologies to resident oe transient wiccans, since undoubtedly this is the wrong title, but you know what I mean.

      • Feather Blade

        It actually makes me very angry to hear a pastor say “By the power vested in me by God and the State of [Wherever].”

        Sure, by order of words it puts God first, but conceptually it puts the State on the same level as God… especially since you know that the wedding wouldn’t be happening without the permission of the State. Which fact in reality, places the State above God.

        …which is frustrating, because I am a law-abiding (for the most part) citizen, and getting a State marriage license is the law

        Actually, I should look that up. My state may say that residents who present themselves as married are, for the state’s purposes, married. Hmmm.

        Not that it’s anything more than academic, at this point.

        • I believe there are only a handful of states that still recognize so-called ‘common law marriage’.

    • If you think about it, our current state of marriage is actually pretty awful. The terms of the contract are set by the State Legislature, and signed by the governor. The terms of dissolution are again set by the State Legislature and signed by the governor, and what’s more, it can be changed on the whims of the judge. The terms can change by moving to a different State. If the Legislature changes any of these things, the Legislature changes these things for *everyone*.

      Meanwhile, people getting married really have no idea what they are agreeing to, and they have no idea what the terms of ending the contract are, until they try to get a divorce. If the terms have a tendency to egregiously harm one of the parties (usually, but not always, the male), well, so be it.

      How much better would it be if the State would just get out of the marriage business altogether, and couples were required to create their own marriage contracts, and agree to the terms of ending those contracts, all up-front? How long would it take for both men and women to figure out the best arrangements for ending a marriage — and, for that matter, the best conditions for maintaining one? But because the State is in control of all of this, there’s not all that much wiggle room for individuals to work out what would be best for themselves….

      Oh, and for taxes and visitation rights and so forth? That should be easily established by making marriages a type of corporation, an entity in and of itself.

    • Yes. But the SJWs want to rub devout people’s noses in gay crap. It’s not the principle, it’s the gloating

      • Plus a bit of Orwellian “2+2 = 5”. The more outrageous and counter-intuitive things you can get people to acquiesce to, the more power you are seen to exert over them.

    • The state seldom cared who was bonking whom, or what became of it. unless taxes were involved, of course. Some religions weren’t all that much interested either.

      Where the state got involved was with matters of property and inheritance. Then came the usual legal questions; “What constitutes a marriage? How is one dissolved? What are the responsiibilities for issue? For monies jointly earned? For property acquired before or during the union? What constitutes lawful issue, what are their rights if any? What about previous marriages, adoptions, bastardy? Is the union recognized across state or national boundaries?”

      Nowadays it’s popular to present marriage as a religious rite, but religion is only a tiny part of a modern marriage.

      • Um . . . I may be missing something, maybe confusing US states with state in general, but I know of a case in the early 1800s of a couple repeatedly brought before a court on charges of “Adultery and Fornication” (Some take exception with that wording, but it was from the charges and from the state’s legal code of the time). Once or twice they were let off because they claimed to be waiting for a circuit riding preacher to be in the area to wed them. The final time they appeared before the court, they were convicted, sentenced to be wed, the ceremony performed by the judge, and the jurors serving as witnesses.

      • That’s the point I wanted to make, only expressed more clearly.

  5. This is part of the reason that CS Lewis kept saying that one should read old books, so that one would be exposed to the ideas of different eras, and perhaps not so inclined to chronological snobbery.

  6. Seneca: On the Shortness of Life: Life Is Long if You Know How to Use It

    Most human beings, Paulinus,* complain about the meanness of nature, because we are born for a brief span of life, and because this spell of time that has been given to us rushes by so swiftly and rapidly that with very few exceptions life ceases for the rest of us just when we are getting ready for it. Nor is it just the man in the street and the unthinking mass of people who groan over this – as they see it – universal evil: the same feeling lies behind complaints from even distinguished men. Hence the dictum of the greatest of doctors:† ‘Life is short, art is long.’

    Hence too the grievance, most improper to a wise man, which Aristotle expressed when he was taking nature to task for indulging animals with such long existences that they can live through five or ten human lifetimes, while a far shorter limit is set for men who are born to a great and extensive destiny. It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it. Life is long enough, and a sufficiently generous amount has been given to us for the highest achievements if it were all well invested.

    * A friend of Seneca’s.
    † Hippocrates

  7. From Oath of Fealty:

    “What would a Roman Legionnaire think of YOUR lifestyle? What would Thomas Jefferson think of me? There are a lot of ways to be human.”

    Of all the wise words Niven and Pournelle have written, these are the wisest.

  8. c4c

  9. I can think of few horrors greater than being adrift at the whims of fashion. History has great lessons for our grasping, and perhaps greatest of these is what happens in “fashionable” times. Sound principles, like a deep keel, serve to allow you to drive the ship of state against the winds to find safe harbors.

  10. I slightly upset a few proto-wymynists last school year when I pointed out that in a world where everything is based on muscle power, the average woman is at a disadvantage. And that is before we get pregnant, nurse, keep the child from falling into the stream/pig-sty/cesspit/cooking fire/stream and so on. But the lesson stuck.

  11. BTW – a useful rule when fighting for your political principles: do not follow the example of Greg Gianforte and punch out any journalist. While I agree in principle that journalists (especially aggressively progressive ones) should be routinely clobbered, that should be done by staff, not candidates.

    • One of the important parts of being a congressman is learning how and when to delegate.

    • Well, it’s worth noting that Gianforte still won, and there’s been some speculation that his smack-down gained him some votes…

      • I’d have voted for him on the strength of that alone. Decked some ponce from The Guardian? Helz yeah!

        • It is important to not consider the question in a vacuum. Candidate A punhed and aggressive jackass proglodyte journolist. Candidate B didn’t pay property taxes for seven, eight years, defrauded Medicaid, stiffed a contractor for work done on his house, lied about his work history and screwed his band members out of their wages.

          In short, one is a standard issue Democrat and the other did what more Republican candidates ought consider.

          • Even more importantly, don’t push back at a journalist unless you know you have your own cameras running. Turns out the “Republican candidate beats up reporter” while certainly good press for same in places like Montana, is more like “gets into awkward scuffle with.”

            Sigh.

            Weird how the wish-fulfilment on this one worked.

    • snelson134

      “When the occasion arises (and it will), you must be able to shoot your own dog.” – RAH

      • Nowadays, if you shoot your own dog you will be arrested and charged with animal cruelty – if The Man finds out about it.

  12. One of the reasons I like to study history is that it clearly reveals that things are not always the way they are now. How we got from where we once were to where we are know is important knowledge. It’s also essential to projecting where we might go in the future. Without knowing what the forces and counterforces that operate on society have been and are now, speculation is entirely uninformed.
    As one example: Grover Cleveland would be utterly shocked at what has become of the Democratic party.
    Karl Marx was a man of his times; a believer in the “progress” of science and philosophy, but the bloodshed and horror inflicted by his followers in his name is beyond appalling.

  13. John Pepple

    This is slightly off-topic, but I’ve been drifting away from the far left for quite awhile now, but I still haven’t encountered in all the conservative and libertarian material I’ve been reading much of anything in response to what the left believes about the Industrial Revolution. That belief is the following: “Just as capitalism was beginning, it exploited the workers. Therefore, we must oppose capitalism at every turn and smash it if possible.” I’ve had a few hints on this blog of a response, but there seems to be no consistent response on the right. Is it agreed that the workers back then were exploited? If so, is capitalism to blame or something else? If not, what actually happened? Is there a standard response to this or not? Is the standard response of the conservatives different from that of the libertarians?

    The same thing is true concerning the left’s complaint about American imperialism over Latin America. What is said about that on the right?

    • “…I still haven’t encountered in all the conservative and libertarian material I’ve been reading much of anything in response to what the left believes about the Industrial Revolution.”

      What The Left “knows” about the Industrial Revolution changes daily, based on whatever the propaganda effort is that day.

      My measured response is: Who Cares? Life sucked during the Industrial revolution. Life sucked a lot more in Medieval Europe. It sucks a lot less now. With a bit of work, life in the future could suck less than now.

      That is called Progress.

    • We don’t usually respond to leftist encomiums about how horrible capitalism and western imperialism are because those are just assertions by the left that they need to prove, not truths that we need to explain or refute.

      But as for worker exploitation during the industrial revolution, you need to get a good understanding of the lives of the people before the invention of factories. A good starting point is here:

      http://www.econlib.org/library/Enc/IndustrialRevolutionandtheStandardofLiving.html

      • BobtheRegisterredFool

        Yeah.

        Yesterday I heard a speech complaining about children having to work for food.

        The amount of food that can be eaten is at most the amount produced.

        When laying a society out on paper, absolutely nobody can make any promises about the food supply, especially not by leftist methods.

        Even our current system, which supplies adequate to very many, could be destroyed inside of a generation.

        Human history and prehistory is filled with inadequate food supplies obtained at great personal cost.

        Nineteenth century factory conditions did not exist in isolation, they have to be considered against other conditions as you say.

        Factory conditions, like many other things, is an examples of where labor theory is pretty much completely pointless and wrongheaded.

        • And now, through free markets and such we have arrived at a place where a small minority of the populace grows food, and plenty of it.. and in some cases we even people to not grow food. Ponder that: We pay people to not grow food.

          • Plus, we turn a sizeable portion of our food into fuel for our vehicles.

            • Fuel for our vehicles that burns less efficiently than the standard fuel for these vehicles and actually damages them…

              • Ah, for cellulosic butanol…
                I suspect the cheap, easy way to do that will be found..
                …right after the high energy density battery that charges quickly and somehow ISN’T a bomb is found.

      • Working in a factory was better than all day on the farm, or down in the mines.

    • Those questions exceed the general concerns of this venue and are best addressed by doing some serious reading of well-based source material. Go read Smith’s Wealth of Nations, Hayek’s The Road To Serfdom and any commentary on the works of John Locke and then ask your questions. Or you could read almost any day’s posts at National Review Online or The American Spectator, Washington Free Beacon, Washington Examiner, City Journal or Power Line.

      Few here have the leisure to tutor you, nor any great inclination to spend their time in such a venture. The knowledge is readily available for those willing to exert themselves. Hell, try reading Heinlein’s Starship Troopers or Ringo’s The Last Centurion. Read Thomas Sowell’s Basic Economics or his The Visions of the Anointed and any dozen randomly selected columns by Walter E. Williams.

      The Right is not a monolithic ideological palisade, nor is explanation of Basic Economics an appropriate task for a blog community.

      • John Pepple

        Smith’s work appeared somewhat before the Industrial Revolution. The other works address many stupid things leftists believe, but not the specific points I am asking about. Or if they do, how about giving me some specific pages?

        • Now you’re getting to Res’s quibble. We’re pointing the way for you to find the answers yourself, not teaching you as our pupil. Read through the books he’s pointed out, then come back here (or other places perhaps more appropriate) and ask about what you’ve learned.

          • John Pepple

            I’ve already read through a lot of this. At some point it hit me that I had never seen anything specifically on the exploited workers of the Industrial Revolution. I went back through Sowell’s Basic Economics and Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom just to make sure I wasn’t imagining things. I wasn’t.

            • paladin3001

              And there’s the beginning. If you can’t find anything, there probably isn’t. Of course there were bad factory owners and of course there’s in American history the talk of “Company Towns”. If you dig deeper you will find such examples were the exception, not the rule. Even the infamous “Robber Barons” knew about giving their employers a break. All else is looking like rhetoric using modern standards on past times which always taints the research.

            • JESUS. Go read about industrialization in China and India. All those poor people driven off the fields to work in factories are exactly what happened in the West. Oh, they aren’t driven? It was a better deal? Well, there’s your answer.
              Communists who in Europe are all descended from the best families still resent the Industrial Revolution for removing the good old order of old. Hence, the down on the Industrial revolution.
              Our answer? People have agency. if they chose the factories, they liked them better.
              In small words: there are no Moon Dolphins, so I don’t have to explain them.

        • paladin3001

          Smith’s work may have predated the Industrial revolution, yet it helped shape the industrial revolution. You can’t just pick a point and time and focus on the works of that time. Each era is shaped by what went before. There are no simple answers to be given for each of your questions. It’s something that has to be researched and picked out because everyone will come to different conclusions even though they end up on the same side.

        • Okay, we are not here to do your homework for you. Go read P. J. O’Rourke’s Eat the Rich.
          You’re demanding we explain the Moon Dolphins.

          • Burton W. Folsom Jr.’s work in reevaluating the Gilded Age, New Deal and other myths of the American past should probably be read. From Wiki:

            Folsom has written several books that argue against commonly held views about the role of capitalism in the social developments of the Industrial Revolution and the Gilded Age. He believes the term robber barons is a misnomer, and that many leaders in big business were constructive visionaries who benefited consumers and were integral to the development of industry.

            In his book The Myth of the Robber Barons, Folsom distinguishes between political entrepreneurs, who ran inefficient businesses supported by government favors, and market entrepreneurs, who succeeded by providing better and lower-cost products or services, usually while facing vigorous competition.
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burton_W._Folsom,_Jr.

            His Entrepreneurs Vs. the State and New Deal or Raw Deal?: How FDR’s Economic Legacy Has Damaged America might also prove informative. He has several videos accessible through Youtube (particularly at Prager University) and at CSPAN’s BookTV (c-span[DOT]org/person/?burtonfolsom).

        • You seem to imagine The Right is a response to The Left. Around here we see it the other way around: The Left is a reaction to The Right, to devolution of power to the individual. That is why The Left’s answer to everything, from the Industrial Revolution to Anthroprogenic Climate Change, is to gather power into some form of collective essentially controlled by an “enlightened” few; it is a reversion to aristocracy.

          Union leadership has been far more exploitative of workers than ever Management has achieved.

      • P. J. O’Rourke’s Eat The Rich.
        Also, the Industrial revolution was NOT the beginning of capitalism. Capitalism is what humans do left to their own devices. Hell, it’s what they do even in socialist regimes, only distorted and hidden. Without black markets the USSR would have starved.

        • Or to put it another way, people on the Left complain about the Capitalist system. But the reality is that Capitalism is what you get when you *don’t* have a system.

          • I prefer to call it the Free Market. I think I read a comment on this blog sometime in the past that noted that Marx coined the term “Capitalist” and went on to ask why should we use the pejorative that the enemy cooked up to describe it.

            I’m not posting this to quibble semantics, it’s just what springs to mind any time I see someone being down on and/or apologizing for Capitalism. Why buy into the progs’ assumptions?

    • Slightly off-topic? How is it in any way even slightly on-topic?

      If you are serious about your questions, try the archives at the Heritage Foundation, The Cato Institute and The Mises Institute. Right now you don’t even know enough to formulate an appropriate question.

      • Now Res, be kind toward someone seeking enlightenment. He may not know just how and where to find the answers to his questions. It doesn’t cost us much effort to point him in the right direction and send him on the way.

      • John Pepple

        Our hostess talked about an older relative who believed the state deserved to have a lot more power than she thinks it does. I take it his belief in such a state is partly due to the rhetoric from the left, most of which goes back to its beliefs in the Industrial Revolution. That is, we must have a powerful state to protect the exploited workers from the evil capitalists. That is why I said “slightly.”

        • It’s worth mentioning here something that many of us (and Sarah most definitely) are quite aware of. There’s a major difference in the meaning of “left/right” between Europe and the US. In Europe, the primacy of the state is a given. “Left” means a more international form of socialism, while “right” means a more national form of the same. In the US, “left” means statism in any form, while “right” means individualist. (Yes, this is painting with a broad brush. The terms are broad themselves, and it’s therefore warranted.) So in US terms, all of the major European political positions are “left,” regardless of where they fall on the European scale. And US “right” doesn’t even register on the European scale.

        • No. His belief is in the idea of enlightened rule. He’s not a Marxist or a Communist. He simply thinks that without a strong state there is “anarchy.”

        • That belief, especially in an older European, could as easily stem from a belief in the need for a powerful monarchy.

    • “The same thing is true concerning the left’s complaint about American imperialism over Latin America. What is said about that on the right?”

      Be more specific. What imperialism are you talking about? There has been essentially no American imperialism in South America, unless you think the Monroe Doctrine keeping Europe from meddling in Western Hemisphere affairs is a form of imperialism. If it is, it’s a remarkably bad effort, as we didn’t really gain any benefit at all from it.

      If you’re talking about Central America, there might be a bit more validity to it (in the first third of the 20th Century, but no longer). But ongoing imperialism? That’s just a flat-out lie.

      • John Pepple

        Ok, here’s a quote from a book I read recently called Lost City of the Monkey God by Douglas Preston. I hadn’t expected to find leftist rhetoric when I picked up this book, but there it was:

        “United Fruit and the other fruit companies that soon followed became infamous for their political and tax machinations, engineered coups, bribery, and exploitation of the workers. They strangled the country’s [that is, Honduras’s] evolution and cultivated a corrupt and extreme form of crony capitalism, in which they subverted government to their own ends” [p. 54].

        • You did read what I posted and you responded to, right? There was definitely some corporate exploitation in Central America in the early 20th Century (which is not governmental imperialism, you know). That’s essentially non-existent today. So what’s your point?

          • John Pepple

            I was hoping you would be able to point out extenuating circumstances or some such that would mitigate all that. I mean wasn’t some of that due to those countries defaulting on loans (always a bad idea)?

            • I don’t really care what the circumstances were.
              Look, EVERY country at some point behaved badly. Yes, the US too. Yes, crony capitalism is bad.
              The answer is not to give the government (responsible for those malfeasances) more power. It’s to remove power from them. Communism/socialism believes in giving it more power.
              It invents a bunch of words (“Imperialism” is pure Marx) to justify why the government should have more power. And then it kills a hundred million people, plus.
              WHY is this a good idea?

              • John Pepple

                I for one am not saying it’s a good idea. I’m just looking for the best answers to give to the various leftists I run into.

                • That is an answer. “People were exploited under crony capitalism” okay “Crony capitalism is an artifact of the state giving power to one over the other. Why would more power to the state help?”
                  And when they say communism is different, you point out if the industrial revolution taints capitalism, then 100 million plus dead taint socialism/communism. The end.

                  • People being human, when they get any sort of power their natural inclination with rare exception is to gradually arrange things so as to grant them increasing power while insulating them from any real accountability.
                    True capitalism gets replaced by crony capitalism and the exploitation of the lower classes by a self appointed ruling class. In theory under communism the people decide issues, but that never happens because those who seize control and power are even worse than abusive capitalists, growing their own power and privilege at the expense and often the lives of the common citizens.
                    In America we were greatly blessed with a cadre of men who did their level best to create a system designed precisely to retard and cripple the tendency for the few to take control over the many. Sadly, this has over time deteriorated to the point where another violent revolution may be necessary.

                    • Case in point, look at Silicon Valley and the effects of their political and social philosophies: unaffordable property, indentured (H1B) servitude, restrictive economic policies …

                    • BobtheRegisterredFool

                      The sanctuary city stuff, and accompanying exploitation of illegals by cartels, is probably an artifact of increasing the minimum wage in those cities.

                    • snelson134

                      It’s actually more an artifact of workers that you can have deported if they cross you. That and several regulations that don’t apply to non-citizens.

                    • this is actually in response to Res…

                      in an area pushing ‘the cloud’ and its abulity to decentralize, it is… interesting (in the chinese sense) that they want to keep all their people centralized there whenever possible…

                • Every one of those situations I’m aware of came about via the collusion of the local governments and landowners.

                  United Fruit didn’t land an army and reduce people to serfdom. The local authorities were, in general, thrilled for the chance to make a profit from some population they had no real use for anyway.

                  The locals who mattered didn’t think UF were the bad guys. Not as long as they were on the payola rolls, anyway.

              • Capitalism is an economic system in which man exploits man; in Communism it’s the other way around.

            • BobtheRegisterredFool

              There have been weak powers and strong powers throughout history. It is not that rare for people with pull in strong powers to use it to hit above their weight level in weak powers.

              It sucks to be a weak power, and it sucks worse to be weak, and mistakenly act as if you are stronger than you are.

              The behavior doesn’t need a justification in rightwing theory because it isn’t specific to governments operating according to rightwing theory. Plus, what political factions were the people involved tied to?

            • Extenuating circumstances? People back then thought it was a good idea. They learned otherwise. That covers “American Imperialism”, slavery in the South, the excesses of the Industrial Revolution and Modern Jazz. Believe it or not, at one time the establishment of reservations for American Indians was viewed as an enlightened idea — and compared to what preceded it, it was.

          • Moon dolphins. The left has come up with moon dolphins, so you MUST explain them.

            • Simple, our way when abused results in exploitation. Their way each and every time it’s been implemented results in starvation and mass death. Choose wisely.

        • Why do you accept Preston’s assertion as factual? Do you believe everything you read in Zinn’s history, or in the NY Times (a paper infamous for misidentifying NY City streets!) Do you accept as fact everything reported on Fox News or MSNBC?

          • John Pepple

            I thought I had made it clear that I did not accept it as factual and that I wanted to know what the facts were.

            • Facts are funny things. Different people can assemble the same sets of facts and reach very different conclusions. You should no more accept our interpretations of facts than you should accept Preston’s. If you are actually interested in answers you will have to do the hard work of reviewing facts, examining their contexts and interrelationships, and comparing the pictures thus created against your own understanding of human nature.

              The fact is, nobody knows what the facts were. Anybody claiming otherwise is selling you something.

              One rule to remember is that Leftists Lie. It is acknowledged in their doctrine, just as Muslims recognize the principle of taqiyya. Refusing to lie to advance the narrative is frowned upon. The Right also lies, but our doctrines consider it a flaw as our doctrines seek to get as close to Reality as possible — but being human and flawed means we will err and we will sometimes lie because we do not like the implications of the Truth.

              • More engagingly put …


                “I had some fun with this problem before the Conference on World Affairs folks in Boulder last month. The video of the first half of my remarks failed to record properly, but they got it working just in time for my summation of why the left doesn’t believe in truth and reason, so Hillary’s* nonsense today provides a nice opportunity to share it here (just under two minutes long).”

                *Sorry, Hillary spewed such an amazing quantity of nonsense today that she ought be declared a SuperFund site. See: powerlineblog[DOT]com/archives/2017/05/hilarious-hillary.php and washingtonexaminer[DOT]com/hillary-clinton-my-detractors-fear-me/article/2624291

                URLs neutered to eschew moderation. Revitalize by inserting “.” where “[DOT]” appears in URL.

              • BobtheRegisterredFool

                And it should be empathized that many of us regulars have substantive disputes over what the facts are, and what the better interpretations of a given set of facts would be.

                If I’m spouting off about drug policy, a number of us might encourage you to take it with a pinch of salt. Frankly, I have strong biases and probably do a better job of finding the evidence supporting what I argue on that than I do of finding the evidence that opposes it.

                Or when I argue that police militarization has multiple causes. There is a good chance that the truth is more complex than what I say.

    • Some capitalists did exploit their workers. Some of them still do. However, when workers are free to quit and go to work for a better employer, they quite frequently do. It doesn’t work perfectly..not all employees are equally free to move, so some people have and still do get trapped in miserable situations.
      As a general, rule, however, happy employees do better work, and a boss who can keep his employees happy has a competitive edge over one who exploits them. (I recommend Undercover Boss, for sample illustrations in a variety of workplaces). Competition in the free labor marketplace works in favor of the best employers.

      As far as American Imperialism in Latin America, I offer the opinion (based on my attempts to follow the history of Latin America) that in most cases it’s no more than a convenient scapegoat.
      Latin America has strong traditions of picking revolutionaries and strong men as leaders, who go on to be nearly as bad, just as bad, or worse than the fellow they overthrew. Also of bloody fights between political parties. Also of picking fights with the neighbors. Also, something of an economic feudal legacy left over from the Spanish.

      • Joe in PNG

        Let us also point out that the record of Marxist Imperialism in the Third world is far, far, far, far worse. How many free AK’s have been given away by the container load to various “socialist” freedom fighters over the past number of decades? How many gross tons of Semtex (plus free instruction in the proper use from the friendly Soviets)?

    • Capitalism did not exploit people in the industrial revolution. That is a Marxist fallacy. Go see the industrial revolution in India and China. No one is forcing those workers to work in the factories. they do it because it’s better than rural life.
      As for Latin America, go read I THINK The complete South American Idiot for an answer.

    • The response, such as it is, that I have seen is this question: If things where so very bad, why didn’t the workers leave the factories and go back to the land?

        • Byzantine_Corporal

          Exploited? Alienated from the surplus value of their labor? I’m not willing to accept Marx’ labor input theory of value even long enough to engage with “exploited”.

      • PRECISELY. And people will come back with “enclosures” but that’s bullshit. It only happened in England, while the industrial revolution happened and continue to happen everywhere.

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      Re: Imperialism

      I’d bring to your attention a statement that I took as evidence that Trump was a pinko hippie influenced by the left at a cultural level.

      At one point during the campaign he suggested that US military policy ought to be done with an eye towards profit. Implication being loot or tribute.

      As a rightwinger somewhat conversant with right wing theories of wealth and value, I think the rest of the world is too poor to be worth looting, given the high costs of American military power.

      Leftwing theory is that America is wealthy because it is collecting from the rest of the world.

      Rightwing theory is that the wealth generation is internal, due to internal qualities, and gets abnormally high only when internal qualities are extremely abnormal.

      Rightwing theory is that when Rome looted Europe, it was worthwhile for at least some of the Romans because the slave based Roman economic was so very screwed up. At least compared to if they had the qualities to industrialize and mechanize.

      Rightwing theory is that when the Nazis had to loot Europe to keep the Germans happy, the reason it wasn’t a huge waste is because the Nazis had screwed up the German economy with socialism.

      One presumes that leftwing theory is that slavery and socialism aren’t so much more screwed up than normal as to change the cost effectiveness of looting.

      In short: What imperialism? The third world is poor because of internal qualities, and because of listening to labor, the left, and the insane. For anyone producing in the US or any true first world economy, looting the third world is so wasteful that you lose money. Only our parasites really bother with trying to collect.

      • Oh, yeah, the left thinks the US is rich because of imperialism. We “steal” the raw materials from the rest of the world and that’s why we’re rich.
        a) we don’t steal. b) if we did we’d still leave behind more raw materials. c) raw materials are NOT wealth, it’s what you do with them that is. d) this is based on the closed pie idea of economics, which is a fallacy. e) go read Eat the Rich d) I will not explain the moon dolphins.

        • BobtheRegisterredFool

          The money flows the other way.

          Those parasites that are in theory collecting from the third world? That money mostly comes from the funds that they’ve arranged to have given to the third world. It’s a kickback.

          • Joe in PNG

            As per “Eat the Rich”, most Western, Capitalistic Imperialism during the Cold War involved us paying Third World nations to be socialist so they wouldn’t turn communist.
            And this is why there’s a welfare mentality in a lot of the world- WE have a problem, YOU need to fix it for us. So infrastructure that was gifted by the West is allowed to decay, as the money that would be used for maintenance is pocketed. Besides, wait long enough, and a friendly government will build a new one. You get stuff like schools and hospitals built at great cost, only to be neglected and abandoned after the next election, because the new MP is from a different tribe, and wants that stuff for his people.
            Ironically, one of the things that is bettering life in the 3rd world is the spread of modern cell phones, and that by corporations driven purely by the profit motif.

    • Joe in PNG

      Let us ponder this. What if we took a Western country, populated by a law abiding, educated, hardworking, diligent people. What if we burned that country’s infrastructure to the ground so they had to start from scratch. What if we split that country in two, and had one half under Communism, and the other half under Capitalism. And what if we let things run for about 45 years, and see what the results were?

      We did- it’s called “Germany”. On the western side, we wound up with a fairly modern industrial state, freedom, and Mercedes-Benz/BMW/Audi. On the eastern side, we wound up with tyranny, oppression, and Trabants.

      Despite this perfect case study, the Left still thinks Marxism is cool.

      • Also see – The Korean Peninsula

      • Also see: Marshall Plan. And NATO.

        • The Marshall Plan was merely a sly ploy to enable Europeans to buy American products, becoming dependent upon our goods and services rather than attaining self-sufficiency.

          NATO was a sinister plot to render Western European nations subservient to our military rather than retaining their independence. It stoked anti-Soviet paranoia and fed the worst tendencies of our puppets allies, forcing them to host nuclear weapons, cruise missiles and other provocative weapons systems, thus threatening the nation whose great and blody sacrifices saved the world from Hitler’s Nazi armies.

      • snelson134

        See also Korea.

    • Try Tom Sowell’s Basic Economics. It will help a lot, since he used to be a Marxist.

      And he’s a darn good writer, as well.

      • John Pepple

        It’s a great book, and I enjoyed reading it, partly because he is a darn good writer, as you say. But he didn’t talk specifically about the Industrial Revolution. Even if one says the workers back then weren’t exploited because they were free to leave the factories, one could say something more, like:
        A. That they were exploited is not something that the workers themselves said. It was said by rich people who didn’t like the industrialists.
        B. They weren’t exploited, although wages were depressed because the population was expanding rapidly.
        C. They weren’t exploited, although it may have seemed so at the time. But the fact is that wages were slowly increasing.
        I wanted to know what the standard answer was, if it was one of these or something else.

        • The “standard answer” from the Right is whatever seems to make sense to you, the one(s) you find most credible according to your comprehension of human nature.

          The Right does not generally believe in “standard answers” because the Right is not interested in imposing a doctrine. Imposing doctrines presumes an authority greater than the individual.

        • Ah. I understand. You want Katherine Patterson’s book, Lyddie.

          HTH

    • John, I’ll tell you what my tenant farmer grandfather told me:

      He worked alongside a man who was once a slave. My grandfather told of one time most of them on the lower economic rungs gathered and one fellow kept talking about how Mr. So-and-So beat him out of his shares. That former slave said. “Did Mr. So-and-So give you what he said he would?”

      “Yes.”

      “Did he hold a gun on you and make you agree to it?”

      “No.”

      “Then Mr. So-and-So didn’t beat you out of anything. You beat yourself out of it.”

      In other words, a lot of that “exploitation” came because someone rather agree to less than optimal conditions than make tracks for a better opportunity.

      Did exploitation exist? Sure. Read of Jacob and Laban, and that was thousands of years before the Industrial Revolution. When Jacob cut out and Laban caught up with him, Jacob complained of the number of times Laban changed his wages. Laban had him by the daughters he married off to him, and maybe because he figured Jacob wasn’t going anywhere courtesy of that business with Esau. And yet Jacob still managed to cut out.

      To have exploitation, you have to have a captive workforce. Ever heard the song Sixteen Tons? The company store was a real thing, and a common dodge was to get a worker so far into debt that he was as bound to an employer as slaves were. That’s why the grandfather in the above story warned all his children and grandchildren to never get into debt with your employer. The key thing is that exploitation happened didn’t mean all employers were exploiters anymore than some men committing rape means all men are rapists. That’s where the mantra of Marxism breaks down, because it holds that all workers are exploited by their employers, which is utter BS.

      The other pile of BS is the assumption that capitalism started with the Industrial Revolution. No. It started all the way back when Ogg realized if he took some of the trade goods and invested in a better spear point, he might could bring back more hides and earn more trade goods. Capitalism is simply investing a good percentage of the profits back into the business, and that’s been going on thousands of years.

      Now: the question to put forth to your socialist friends is, since J.P. Capitalist is investing profits to make more profits, this means he can hire more workers. That means more people have gainful employment of their own free will. Therefore, if J.P. Capitalist pays the agreed amount, and has not forced employees at gunpoint to work for that amount, where is the exploitation?

      • Here’s another question to put forth to your socialist friends:

        It’s considered a good small business practice for the owner to keep business funds separate from personal and pay himself a salary from the profits. In other words, he’s employing himself. Does that mean he’s also exploiting himself?

        • He’s exploiting his customers. All profits are immoral. (Until they are taxed, which cleanses them).

      • In Marxism, all employees ARE exploited. Did you ever run across the saying, “We pretend to work, and they pretend to pay us”?

  14. On the ephemeral nature of human life, an ancient being speaks:

    “May I see you, Nammu?” asked Syn. “I’ve never seen a Von Neuman creature before, maybe I can learn something.”
    “There will be plenty of time for that later,” said Nammu, putting a friendly hand on Syn’s shoulder. “I am somewhat tragic, to be honest.”
    “I guess that would be true, you living here and the humans dying on you all the time,” said Syn, reevaluating Nammu with a measuring eye. “How have you managed?”
    “They love me,” said Nammu. “It is enough.”
    “That isn’t much of an answer, you know,” said Syn, putting her hands on her hips.
    “I am an immortal thing,” replied Nammu, hooking an arm through one of Syn’s and leading her over to the side where their group was waiting. “My life goes on and on. The humans last perhaps as many as one hundred years, they live very fast. I must pay attention, so as not to miss them as they speed past me. When I find one to love me, who knows what a creaky, mad old thing I am and holds me close despite it, then I hold nothing back. I give them all that I am, for as long as they live. Then they leave me. They must go, it is their nature. I must stay, that is mine. So it has been, all these millennia.”
    “Why didn’t you make them immortal?” demanded Syn in exasperation. “That is easily within your power. Why suffer the loss, and for so long? Are you cracked?!”
    “For an answer, allow me to introduce my beloved husband Jimmy,” said Nammu slyly.

    *I take things like this as evidence that I don’t write the story. The story writes me. Nammu Chen tells me how it is, and I write it down.*

  15. BobtheRegisterredFool

    I think we may have before us the opportunity to persuade that homosexuality is a mental health phenomena and that the recommendations of the social left are not helpful.

    This by analogy with transgender, where there is obviously some truth to it.

    The danger of arguing a need to discomfort the many so that bad things, including suicide, don’t happen to the few is that it opens one to counterargument if one’s prescriptions to help the few happen to be harmful to a group that is even fewer. Current policy seems likely to increase the rate of false positives for self diagnosed gender dysmorphia. In such cases at best the accepted prescription will not treat the actual problem, and at worst could result in an otherwise healthy person ruining their mental health, potentially to the point of suicide.

    Anyway, I’m not saying the attempt will be made, or that the persuasion would be successful.

  16. A former coworker was puzzled by take on things. “It seems like half the things you like or claim are rather conservative. And yet the other half seems quite liberal. What’s going on?”

    I replied that each, as seen by him, seems to have half an idea. One side is, very simplified, “Stay out of my wallet.” and the other is, also very simplified, “Stay out of my bedroom.” and the whole message, is “Kindly leave me the hell alone!”

    “Isn’t that the Libertarian idea?” “It should be, and almost is. But they don’t get the message out enough, in a sane way, and thus don’t elected.” Or something like that. And what works locally doesn’t necessarily work internationally – and the failure mode can be quite nasty.

  17. “””None of us does well at stepping beyond the assumptions instilled before we were even literate. To the extent I do a little better at shedding those, it is because I had to acculturate to a new nation and beliefs, a process that leads you to question everything and is a little going insane.”””

    This is one of the problems with insisting that we can do away with copyright and patents, or privatize the police and the courts, or insist that we should either defang the FDA or get rid of it altogether, or suggest that we should end public schools and just go all-out home-schooling, among other things. Sure, I’m convinced that the State is evil, and that the more we can cut back, the better we are….

    But for some of these things, it took a *lot* to convince me that they were evil. To give copyrights and patents as an example, I remember being in school, designing things and writing stories, and being told “you can protect this with copyrights and patents” and imagining all the riches that would pour into my coffers because of copyrights and patents. Once I get those things, I’m a real writer and inventor! It took many years of using Linux, hearing horror stories about copyright and patents, reading at least two books about why copyrights and patents don’t hold water, either philosophically or economically, and some thinking on my own, to get to the point where I am now.

    And *then* I get into trouble when I try to defend such a position, because I’m left trying to defend an end of all copyright and patents, sometimes to a generation of people who have lived with it for a decade or two longer than I have, in bits and dribbles far smaller than all the stuff it took to convince me to accept the position I now hold….

    • Oh yes. Blanket statements about “eliminate all copyrights and patents because information wants to be freeeee!” tend to make my wallet scream. I like being able to benefit from the labor I put into writing/designing/composing/producing whatever the thing is. I agree that there is abuse of the system, but the moment someone gets starry-eyed idealistic about ending all of my rights to my labor, my hackles shoot up and my claws start twitching.

      • Yeah. Usually closely followed by “property is theft!”

        It boils down to, “I don’t want to pay for anything, and I want society to legitimize my theft of goods and services.”

        Also commonly followed by, “You can’t take that! It’s MINE!”

  18. When I turn 80, I’ll tell you if I’m old.

  19. It’s not inconsistent to believe both

    1) Copyrights and patents are important to allow creators to benefit from their work

    2) The current system is sometimes horribly abused.

    Patent trolls, for instance. Or the ever-longer term of copyrights (what, Peter Pan is *still* under copyright?) ostensibly for noble purposes. Or, in general, the way that deeper pockets (or a law license and free time) can allow the courts and the threats of lawsuits to be used as a club to eliminate competition.

    I’m for both strong copyright and patent protection AND a shorter term for both. Along with renewals (of copyright, not patents) only to the original copyright holder and not to exceed their lifetime by more than some short term of years.

    As a possible for-instance:
    28 years originally, renewed for no more than subsequent 14 year terms thereafter, copyright to become invalid if not continuously available once rights no longer held by the original owner. Copyrights filed by corporations to be limited to the original term only with no renewals.

    I won’t quibble on the exact terms – basically, I believe that individuals should be able to receive the benefits of their work. And a reasonable legacy to their heirs. Beyond that, why should the law be used to protect the corporate interests of a publisher who considered those rights a worthwhile purchase with the original limited copyright term?

    As an example, consider the limits on what, say, Project Gutenberg can make available – in the US, of most Dorothy Sayers work (including all her Lord Peter Wimsey novels) isn’t on their site due to legal issues. Yet she died in 1957. I fail to see how that serves any valid interest.

    • Mickey Mouse is still under copyright, as I understand it.

      • Yes, because Disney Corp. got US copyright law changed to protect their products. Otherwise a lot of the films would be in the public domain, characters likewise.

        • I’ve seen it observed that the copyright lengths get extended whenever Disney’s oldest copyrights are about to expire.

  20. Sorry to go off topic, but I am returning from a month in Algeria at the start of Ramadan. I soooo crave bacon. I wish some eatery would have pork lunch specials in conjunction with Ramadan. I would eat there every day!

    They do say familiarity breads contempt.

    • I am such a bad copy editor.
      Then again breaking and frying improves many things

    • John Pepple

      Are restaurants there even open for lunch during Ramadan?

    • When I was in Saudi during Ramadan, the work-around was to pick up an extra shwarma or falafel wrap from one of my favored street vendors the night before and chow down – very discreetly – at lunch break time. (Yes, the dock’s snackbar was closed all day during the time.)

      One of my co-workers got arrested or eating a candy bar while driving on the port in daytime. He came this close >< to being expelled.

  21. John Pepple

    Thanks for all the comments, everyone.

  22. snelson134

    “Don’t be shocked if in some you agree with the left”

    I’m shocked you wrote this; what the Left SAYS they want and what they actually want are never the same unless it involves controlling others.

    • Agreeing with what the Left says and what the Left means are very different things.

      The Left often says they support the Constitution and Traditional practices, but that only occurs when those favor the Left’s advantage. Witness their conversion to rejection of an Imperial Presidency during the period 2000 through 2008 and again in 2016.

      Agreement with the Left’s opposition to imperial presidencies owes more to consistency of principle than it does concurrence of views. This does not mean we should alter our views in order to avoid such concurrence, it means instead that we should view any occasion of the Left’s sharing our positions as akin to them offering to hold our coat while “You and them fight.”