How Do You Solve A Problem Like Inequality?

Yesterday in a thread discussing the crazy idiocy of “taking a knee” to protest the US in general and our lack of perfection in particular, I  made a comment about how they’re protesting in name of perfection that doesn’t exist (though idiots might have convinced them it does.  I mean, people who haven’t lived in Sweden like to claim it is perfect) and running down the most just country on Earth.

It never fails.  If you make a comment of that kind, you’ll get someone trotting out the “inequality indexes” according to which the US is no good, very bad, horribly unequal.  It’s sort of like the pavlovian reflext of threatening libertarians or non-socialists, really, with “no roads for you.”

But in this case, it’s even more puzzling.  Okay, so roads are at least self-obviously necessary, even if they don’t flow from the bounty of the ever-loving heart of Marx.  But why is “equality” self-obviously a good.  I.e. why should any sane, thinking human being care about statistics saying we’re unequal or give a good goddamn that we aren’t?

The equality promised in the declaration of independence is predicated on two things: equal standing before G-d and, aspirationally, “equal standing before the law” (this is always aspirational because no, a perfect state doesn’t exist in anything involving humans.)

It is not, has never been, will never be “equality of results” or “equality of possessions” or even “equality of social standing.”  It can’t be.  It’s impossible to guarantee or even attempt that, so long as human beings aren’t widgets.

Do you think that any Portuguese immigrant who came here at 22 and married an American would be writing this article thirty years later?  No?  Then why would you expect equality of results in anything else?

Take the class of first graders I started in, back in village school, in 1968.  We were all girls.  Though we all thought we came from extremely different backgrounds, in retrospect, looking back, we all looked alike, we all dressed alike, and we were all more or less at the same social level.

I knew how to read, mostly because I was so much younger than my only sibling and my cousins, that I was bored out of my gourd but honestly, by the end of the year we all knew how to read and cipher decently enough.

So… are we all equal now?  Are you kidding me?  Those I know about range from France (my long-lost best friend) to the US, to faculty in a Portuguese high school, to village housewives, to… well… dead (at least three, alas.)  The rest I have no idea how they turned out, because our lives diverged shortly after fourth grade and never converged again.

Does this mean that there is something broken with the system that produced us?  Sure.  Plenty.  But none of it is responsible for how differently we turned out and how unequal our circumstances.  Only each of us is responsible for how she turned out.

In the same way, throughout our married life, Dan and I have had friends who made more or less the same we did, and lived more or less on the same salary.  None of them had the same lifestyle.  Some were better off, some worse.  Few people — like me — decided to compensate for their profession/staying home with kids not paying by refinishing furniture, making clothes, and generally spending time instead of treasure.  And at least one couple in our social-economic level at 22 are probably millionaires now, because they devoted all their time and attention to making money: investing, financing, that sort of thing.

It’s not what you start with; it’s what you make of it.  People end up very rich who had none of the advantages, not even a degree that paid any money.  And people have ended up very poor who were born with a gold spoon in their mouths.

The only way you can guarantee equality of results is to have the government dictate exactly how much money you can make and how far you can go.  When the government interferes in the economy to the point no one can ever be poor and no one can ever be rich, then yeah, you have greater equality.

But here’s the thing, I’d bet you dollars to doughnuts that every one of those countries with greater equality, their rich live about at the level of our upper middle class.  If that.  Sometime ago I read in an article that for each social level in the US you have to subtract two levels to get the equivalent in Europe.  In my experience this is exactly true.  Their upper middle class lives more or less like our lower middle class.  Their lower middle class live like our poor, etc.

Understand this is not “disposable income” or “how flashy can they get” — Europe can get very flashy indeed.  It’s more comfort, health, food, day to day ease of living.

Take air conditioning, for instance, even if you can afford it in Europe, you can’t afford to turn it on unless the heat is truly unbearable, because the governments, in the name of saving the Earth or worshipping Gaia or whatever, make electricity and fuel so expensive.  Here?  Most people have a temperature controlled environment, and most people use it year around.  In fact, the one year we spent without in a climate that needed it we were truly “poor.”

I’ve also visited supermarkets in Europe.  I remain amazed that Europeans can afford to eat.  Yes, food here is cheaper, and the variety more abundant.  The same applies to every consumer good.

Frankly, even though I enjoy Europe, it’s always at least slightly uncomfortable, which always makes me happy to be home.  Even our service people are more uniformly nice to every customer.  Our public accommodations are more responsive to complaints.  Our hotels are more comfortable (seriously.  One of the best hotels in Portugal was somewhere below Embassy Suites in Denver.) Our cars are more comfortable, too, since most have air conditioning and heating (it takes effort not to have heating in the car, but my dad’s car when I was growing up didn’t have it.)

So, is America more unequal?  Oh, sure.  I think we live middle-middle class, and even one level above us means vacationing abroad, better clothes, going out to eat more and not just because it’s someone’s birthday, or you’re sick and can’t even, or you’re away from home.  And we’re miles above where we were thirty years ago, where if I bought a $5 book, we had to eat pancakes for dinner for a week.

But regardless of the clusters we got ourselves in (we’re both creative) when newly wed (we were paying off the birth of the son, on COBRA, a three day delivery with emergency Caesarean and three surgeons) I know even there we lived better than my friend who married a Frenchman at about the same time.  We had some close shaves but we never actually went hungry, and our son certainly didn’t go hungry.

What I’m trying to say is, I’m completely at a loss as to why the INEQUALITY should matter.

Did it matter to me during the worst year of our lives, when we were broker than broke, in Columbia SC and thought we’d never dig out from under?

Sure it did.  Up the hill from us was a development with very nice houses and a lake (it occurred to me some months ago our new neighborhood is much like that without the lake) and we loved to make sandwiches, go park there and eat, just to bask in the nice surroundings.  It was good to know that better things existed than the shitty place we were in at the time.

But didn’t it make us mad?  No.  Why should it?  Just because we were tight as hell and worried about surviving, didn’t mean we wanted everyone in the same place.  Why would we?

And this is where we get to “inequality” and indexing it is the sanctifying of envy.  It is giving envy the veto over civil society.  People who care about or protest over it are a bunch of whiny kindergartners screaming “but I wanna.”

Yeah, sure, there are countries where the inequality means something.  North Korea, say.  Or Cuba.  If you’re a party member, you live well, while everyone else drowns in the gutter.  But that inequality matters not because it’s great, but because the baseline is so low.  I think we can admit that like “perfect equality” if it existed, “everyone drowns in the gutter, but a few people have mansions” is the sign of despotism.

And before our European readers get confused, no, THAT IS NOT THE US.  Despite all the whining about the 1% a) the 1% vary year per year, and there’s great mobility in general and b) our poor aren’t dying in the gutter.  When you hear the sob stories your TV showcases of poverty in America, remember what you’re not being told: almost every case is self inflicted and involves drugs, alcohol or other forms of impairment.

In fact not so long ago, a liberal activist tried to go and “live like the poor” and found that to remain poor he had to continuously turn down private offers of help.  People wanted to give him clothes and furniture.  People wanted to feed him.

The few genuine, undeserved cases of true hardship in the US are usually as ours was when young and stupid, a case of simply not knowing where to go or how to ask for help.  Years later, in a less pinched but uncomfortable situation, we never hurt nearly as much because we knew things like the club you could join that bought food from restaurant supply stores and sold it to you at cost.  You could feed a family of four on $30 a week about fifteen years ago, and not eat badly at all.  I suspect the same existed when we were young and stupid, but we didn’t know it.

However, the base level, the safety, cleanliness, food and comfort of the poor in America is higher than the poor in just about everywhere else.  Sure, of course, our rich are also extravagantly, bizarrely rich, roaming around Europe and offering to buy whole countries and turn them into parking lots, but so what?

The theory that revolutions happened because of inequality is bushwa.  Sure, socialist/communist revolutions might happen, but they happened whether there was inequality or not, because the Marxist hasn’t been born who can’t instigate envy over the smallest differences.  Envy is, after all, THE Cardinal virtue in their system, the one through which they hope to bring about paradise.

But once communism is installed and inequality greater than ever no revolution ensues.  (After all, the bureaucrats need to be rewarded for working tirelessly for the people, comrade!)

So we can establish that inequality causes neither discontent, discomfort, anger nor revolution.  Marxism does.

I suggest instead of keeping inequality indexes, we keep Marxism indexes.  They’re more expressive of discontent, malice and real danger.

Remember children, the less Marxism, the better off your country will be.  Stay vigilant and keep in mind envy is a sin, not a virtue.

Then do the best you can.

 

 

 

 

 

376 responses to “How Do You Solve A Problem Like Inequality?

  1. …people who haven’t lived in Sweden like to claim it is perfect…

    And I once knew a Canadian fellow who moved there as he thought it would be ideal. He moved back to Canada as he discovered the cost of so much “free” stuff and decided the person who could make a better choice about what to do with his earnings was.. himself. Well, somewhat anyway.

  2. The complaints about inequality are the politics of envy, pure and simple. And, of course, it’s pure Marxism. As one snarky meme put it, the politics of Marx can be summed up as “hate the one who has more than you.”

    I’m not a Christian or Jew. I don’t believe the Bible is the word of God. Nevertheless that commandment not to covet is there for pretty good reasons.

    He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

    • The 10 Commandments are pretty easily summed up by, “don’t take anything that doesn’t belong to you”, and is applicable to all human interactions. Seems like half the laws in existence are mealy-mouthed justifications of when someone can violate that concept.

      • But going and getting your own is fine. Wanting to TAKE what the neighbor has is bad. Working to get things LIKE what the neighbor has? Go for it.

        • I learned it (age 12 or so ) as it’s OK to look at your neighbor’s car and say, “Oooh, I want a car just like that one.” When you say, ” I want THAT car,” you are in trouble (coveting).

          • *nod* The cool thing is that this hacks human desire into a good thing, too– you can make something cool without having to worry about protecting it so much, and if you see something cool you can work to make another like it.

            Obviously it should be done because it’s right, but it’s COOL that it is smart, as well.

            • you turn envy into ambition. Which can help your fellow citizens.You want to be rich. So you start a company which does well and therefore you are rich. You benefit your fellow citizens because your product or service makes every body’s easier or nicer.

      • Well. No. The 10 commandments can be summed up by “Love God first and best and strongest, then love your neighbour and do right by him as an effect of the first.

        I’m sure your summary does apply to some kind of ethical system, but it only applies to Mosaic law as a function of “…and everything, including human life, belongs to God.”

        Ethical monontheism, the debt all civilization owes to the Jews.

        • You raise a point of disagreement. So perhaps I should provide some explanation for my statement. I get just as annoyed when people make unsupported statements too. My apologies to any non-Christians who have other beliefs, and to others who have slightly different Commandment lists.

          1 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me.”

          You belong to God. You’re not allowed to take yourself off and give
          yourself to any other gods that are running around, or invented.

          2 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My Commandments.“

          Worship belongs to God. It’s not yours to take and give to something
          else.

          3 “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.”

          God’s name belongs to God. Don’t take it away for your own use.

          4 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.”

          The Sabbath day is God’s. You’re not allowed to take it away to do as
          you please with it.

          5 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.”

          Your Mom and Pop have the honor of being your father and mother,
          and you’re not allowed to take that away. That doesn’t mean you have
          to like them, care for them, defend them, obey them, or not say
          anything derogatory about them if they are execrably abusive monsters.

          6 “You shall not murder.”

          Pretty simple. Don’t take someone’s life for personal gain. Self-
          defense on the other hand, their life belongs to you.

          7 “You shall not commit adultery.”

          Spouses are a form of property in the Bible. You don’t take another
          man’s wife or another woman’s husband from them.

          8 “You shall not steal.”

          This one is pretty clear cut.

          9 “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”

          Don’t take the truth away from other people, especially for your own
          benefit.

          10 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.”

          Bear with me here. But this coveting can be construed as a desire to
          take away things from other people, not just admiration and desire to
          have your own. While it’s not actually taking away, it’s
          definitely “leading to temptation” to do so.

          And you notice in this entire Commandment set the word “Love” never shows up? Nor have I seen it in any other rendition of the Decalogue. Jesus is the one who brought that to us.

          But any how, taking other people’s stuff without their un-coerced permission to fix inequality is just plain stealing.

          • The commands to love God and your neighbor are part of the Mosaic Law. When Jesus said that the whole law rested on these two points, He wasn’t just meaning the Ten Commandments, but the entire law.

            Taking just the Ten Commandments, It’s easy to see how both love of God and love of others figures in.

    • I’ve probably said this before, but I’m of the opinion envy is the most destructive of the sins, far worse than greed. The greedy man needs a stable and prosperous society in order to enjoy his toys; the envious man doesn’t care if the world burns as long as he gets to be king of the ashes.

  3. As for Sweden, if it were a US state it would be among our poorest. Attempts to refute that claim (Mises Institute study) basically amount to claiming the study didn’t include things that it explicitly did, or simply saying “Nuh uh!” over and over.

    • And a case of sticking fingers in ears and yelling “lalalalala!”

    • Sweden benefits from being a highly homogeneous single race culture … or it used to so benefit. Apparently they suffer Problem Envy and have been importing people who don’t share their definitions of a perfect culture

      Sweden: What You Won’t See in This Book…
      by Bruce Bawer
      What won’t you see in this book? You won’t see a picture of Muslim “morality police” patrolling neighborhoods and controlling women’s conduct. You won’t see Muslim men cutting in front of Swedish women in queues and then calling them “whores” when they protest.

      One of Sweden’s former prime ministers, Fredrik Reinfeldt, pronounced with approval in December 2014 that the future of Sweden belonged not to ethnic Swedes but to immigrants.

      [SNIP]

      You won’t see a gang of Muslim youths raping an infidel teenager. You won’t see a Syrian refugee raping the fourteen-year-old daughter of the woman who took him into her house out of compassion. You won’t see ten men committing a gang rape in August of last year – or their arrest, which finally took place earlier this month because it took that long for the police to fit it into their schedule. They are too busy these days investigating murders to spend much time on rapes.

      You won’t see convicted Muslim rapists being punished by paying small fines and performing community service for a few days. (When they pay the fine, do they put the money in the right position and make sure it’s not so wrinkly?) You won’t see a Muslim youth perusing the new booklet put out by the Swedish Ministry of Youth and Civil Affairs, which explains to immigrants that Swedish culture disapproves of rape. You won’t see Muslim girls being raped by relatives – a common enough event that goes unreported because the victims know that if they go to the authorities they’ll be killed. You won’t see a picture of the annual, highly popular Bråvalla summer music festival, which will no longer be held after this year because the number of rapes occurring at the event has gotten out of hand.

      Of course, Sweden’s current crisis is not an invention of Islamophobic foreigners. It has been acknowledged by Swedish police inspector Lars Alvarsjö, who has warned that the scale of immigrant crime is straining the country’s police departments and courts to the breaking point.

      It has been acknowledged by Swedish police investigator Peter Springare, who has said that virtually all of the criminals he deals with are Muslims. It has been acknowledged by Malmö police chief Stefan Sinteus, who has said that Muslim immigrants in his city are responsible for an “upward spiral of violence.” And of course it has been acknowledged by the recent history of the Sweden Democrats, the only party to speak the truth about these problems, and now enjoys so much voter support that the so-called cordon sanitaire erected around it by the mainstream parties will soon no longer be able to hold.

      [END EXCERPT]

      • Sounds like the Swedes despreately need to get back in touch with their Viking ancestors.

        It won’t happen, but we can THINK about it…..

      • Their ship of state, emulating the famous Swedish disaster named Vasa, is starting to list badly. And it’s not even windy. Bad design can sink anything. 😀 (shouldn’t laugh, my country is running after them fast now. Best hope perhaps that the listing becomes very damn obvious before we have followed where it’s no longer possible to easily turn back and maybe, once noticed, even have the sense to do that turning then. Oh Cassandra, I feel for you)

      • You know, every time I hear that X country is a highly homogeneous culture, I can always think of at least ten native minority groups with serious beefs and a history of being oppressed. Especially in Europe. All over Europe.

        For example, the Saami (nomadic reindeer herders found all across the Arctic areas of Scandinavia and Russia). The Finns not living in Finland. (And the Finns living in Finland, back when Finland was part of other countries.) Swedish Catholics. People from regions not the capitol, speaking dialects of Swedish that aren’t the official Swedish. And so on, and on, and on.

        The more “homogeneous” that an area appears, the more fine distinctions are bound to be drawn between the group in power and all other groups.

        If everybody in town is related three different ways, and the town only contains twenty people, some family will be considered “those shiftless people who are never any good,” and some other family will be the leaders of fashion. Actual amount of achievement done by these people will probably not correlate much to their official standing, at least until the next generation (if they are more impressed by the “shiftless” family having a bank president and the school superintendent, rather than by the “good” family that does no work, except for holding the important dinner parties in their dilapidated home.)

  4. you’ll get someone trotting out the “inequality indexes”

    There are lies, damned lies and statistics. If a statistician cannot develop an index to prove whatever the buyer wants, that statistician will never get a Masters, much less a PhD.

    • One of my grandfather’s was fond of Andrew Lang’s quip – “Politicians use statistics in the same way that a drunk uses lamp-posts—for support rather than illumination.”

      • Is that the same Andrew Lang who did the colored fairy tale books? (The Red Book of Fairy Tales, the Blue Book of Fairy Tales, etc. I have Olive, which I think is the oddest of the color choices…)

  5. The biggest health issue of the poor in the USA is obesity.

    Those who want single payer do so because they don’t like the free healthcare available to the poor. Obviously, going single payer won’t mean all healthcare is like Charity hospital in New Orleans, it means some how it will turn “Free” Charity and VA care into Methodist and Ochsner quality.

    I wish I could go on, but back to work.

    • And the argument that 25% of American children suffer from “hunger.” People need to be aware of how that is defined by the CDC. That’s missing a *single* meal in the last *30 days*; the reason isn’t important. Skipping lunch because you had to go to the store on your lunch break isn’t exactly suffering from poverty. On that basis most of the busy adults I know suffer from “hunger.”

      • Hell, I think that is almost every day.

      • Are they including teenage girls on poorly advised diets in that number?

      • Wow, by that definition, my kids “suffer from hunger” every couple of weeks– we don’t eat before church, because it starts about the time the kids would be moving on their own towards the cereal bowls, and if they’re exceptionally good we’ll go out for pancakes afterwards. They’re still eating at about nine, but they’ll stuff themselves so much they don’t eat until dinner. (standard issue “brunch” pattern)

        Heck, once I was old enough that my parents would allow me to just drink a cup of coffee, I didn’t eat breakfast as a teen, either. Lunch was a couple of carrots, ate a normal dinner.
        (And got nagged about being fat because I “ate so much” and “always had candy”– I’d have a pocket full of sixlets on test days because it calmed me down.)

    • Those who want single payer do so because they believe A) that it will somehow give them a quality of care they could not otherwise afford or B) that ir will give them a degree of power over others that they could not otherwise attain.

      A) is foolish, but excusable.

      B) is grounds for defenestration.

      I suspect that most activists and all politicians pushing single payer belong to B).

      • Listening to the comments, a number of people seemed to be advocating single-payer on the grounds that they “won’t have to negotiate with the insurance company before getting care.” The fact that they would have to negotiate with the same guys who ran the DMV didn’t seem register.

        • Negotiate? You can negotiate with insurance companies because there is the government to fall back on. When it’s all one there wil be no negotiation, there’ll only be, “Please sir, may I have some more?”

          Go “negotiate” with the VA you twerps.

          • But… my coworker says he has heard that the VA is pretty good overall…

            • for the 75% of vets that make it though their service time without major damage, sure

              • *goes over mental list of good outcomes*

                ….you know, other than one PTSD case where the guy acted like a parody of a Vietnam Vet before we ever even ENTERED that war, that’s absolutely right.

                • Foxfier, you know for a couple decades there is was completely possible to ETS without the US being involved in any kind of major altercation…

                  And yeah, i have met people ‘with PTSD from ‘Nam’ who were stateside supply personnel in the mid 70s…

                  • Heh, I put PTSD in the category of “serious mental issues that respond to PTSD”.

                    That said, I know a guy who had a horrific “WTF” disease who got awesome help, too.

            • depends greatly on where you are. Dad got a hip done when he was living up here, and although the surgery was in Milwaukee but he didn’t deal with them (Milwaukee has a bad one) just showed up at the appointed time. Now he really needs another, but a PA in Memphis nixxed it because he knows better than an ortho and Dad lives in pain. Memphis isn’t considered one of the worst, but it is not a great one, for sure.
              New Orleans had/has a bad one, Phoenix is notorious. The one down by the Space Coast was rather good, and up here at Iron Mountain is considered very good but small.

      • Handy clip’n’save:

        13 Reasons Why … Single-Payer Would Be a Disaster
        By Laura Hollis
        If the title of this piece sounds familiar, perhaps it’s because you’ve heard something about the adolescent angsty suicide drama, “13 Reasons Why.”

        Adolescents are notoriously difficult to reason with. They tend to live in the present. They believe pie-in-the-sky promises. They want what they want. When they are warned about the possible consequences of their impending decisions, they frequently disregard the wisdom and experience in any such advice. And when the consequences of their poor decisions come to bear, adolescents feign ignorance: “I didn’t think this would happen!” they wail.

        Democrats’ love affair with single-payer health care is a textbook example of adolescent thinking. So here are 13 reasons why we must be grown-ups about ridiculous proposals like the one being floated by former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders:

        1. Single-payer has problems nearly everywhere it has been implemented. Canada ranks dead last in wait times for care, as compared to 10 other wealthy western nations (including the United States). The United Kingdom’s National Health Service is contending with long wait times, funding deficits and deteriorating patient care.

        [SNIP]

        12. Politicians are utterly unqualified to control our lives to this extent. Consider the staggeringly stupid things that come out of their mouths daily. Most have never owned a business or made a payroll. And yet we are going to sit back and let these numbskulls tell us what health care we can and cannot have, who can and cannot provide it, what insurance we can and cannot pay for? We are a free people, and this is an abuse of the limited powers of government enshrined in the Constitution.

        13. I’m sure I’ve missed something. Insert your own reason here.

        Laura Hirschfeld Hollis is on the faculty at the University of Notre Dame, where she teaches courses in business law and entrepreneurship. She has received numerous awards for her teaching, research, community service and contributions to entrepreneurship education.
        [END EXCERPT]

      • I agree with your remedy for B provided the fenestra in question is at least 200 feet above ground.
        My favorite nickname for “single payer” is “VA for All”. That captures what it would be like far better than the name Bernie attached to it. Just consider VA-like incompetence, multiplied by roughly 20 (the ratio of veterans to the US population as a whole). Or maybe 400, since the impact of government incompetence is more likely quadratic than linear.

    • Let’s say that a little louder, shall we?

      THE BIGGEST HEALTH ISSUE OF THE POOR IS OBESITY!!!

      Not, ‘where is our next meal coming from’. Not, ‘do we have enough fuel to keep us warm enough to not freeze to death about mid February’. Not ‘cholera sure runs through these slums like wildfire’.

      Their biggest health problem is they eat too goddamned much.

      Did anyone hold a celebration, and I didn’t notice? Because this hasn’t happened too much in human history.

      • #VictimBlaming much? You are forgetting that they live in food deserts, places where there’s no fresh arugula to be had and they are forced to scavenge for Mickey D’s, Col. Sanders (there’s a Bernie joke waiting to be made) and the kind of Popeye’s where spinach isn’t on the menu. They have to eat bags of chips, fritos, cheetos and dpnouts just t survive.

        It’s a wasteland, I tells ya, a frickin’ wasteland.

      • When I did DirecTv installs, many were in “poor” areas and they had bigger tvs, better cars, and game boxes than I did, that’s for sure.

      • Just as a side note of interest, laboratory mice have developed obesity issues in the last few decades. The reason that’s important is that laboratory mice have the most controlled and observed conditions of any creature out there, and if they’re having problems with obesity with no changes in care from, say, the 1960s, then there really is something that we’re doing to the environment that is affecting overall health. (My bet is on hormonal birth control, though certain plastic byproducts may also affect things.)

        • If we’re talking about laboratory animals, then I’d be more inclined to believe the articles claiming there is some (or perhaps more than one) microorganism responsible.

          • Whatever it is, it implies heavily that the increase in obesity (and overweight issues in general) isn’t just the result of poor dietary choices*, but something outside of that.

            *I’ve seen trained medical professionals, who should damn well know better, claim that only 3-4% of overweight folk are that way due to health issues. The reason I call bull on that is that the percentage of my friends who have health issues that affect their weight is far in excess of what even a biased sample could do to explode that, and the average time of diagnosis for even the basic issues they have is measured in years, not weeks or months. I mean, even I had an unexpected weight gain in the last year due to a problem that was easily fixed once we knew what it was, but it took me a couple of months to browbeat my doctor into doing the basic testing to see that once I realized there was a problem. She just figured that my fatigue came from depression (because a checklist screening indicated I had “difficulty completing tasks” due to fatigue.) Oh, and the weight gain (10-15 pounds in about eight months) was due to my age. Nope. Iron deficiency, which means not enough oxygen carrying capacity in my blood, which means a certain amount of cascading failures that are apparently easy to miss.

            *cough* Hot button for me. Wayyyy too many of my friends under-diagnosed or misdiagnosed for years. Note our hostess’ thyroid issues going unaddressed for decades.

            • When I turned 30 my weight started going up. Over the years I’ve made several attempts to get it back down. One was interesting. I started keeping a food diary. Note, I didn’t deliberately alter my diet (although paying attention and recording everything I ate and actually measuring portions would have that effect). I simply recorded it. Over the course of the next few months my weight dropped from around 260 to around 230. Then it started going back up. No change in diet (and I had the records to prove it). My weight just started going up again until, once more, it was around 260. At that point I abandoned the diary.

              A few years later, I was diagnosed as diabetic. I went aggressively low carb on my diet. No effort to control calories, just avoid carbs. Once again, my weight started down. Once again I went from 260 down to about 230. And once again, it started creeping back up until, once again, it was up at 260.

              No clue what’s going on. My doctor doesn’t have a clue either.

            • *cough* Hot button for me. Wayyyy too many of my friends under-diagnosed or misdiagnosed for years. Note our hostess’ thyroid issues going unaddressed for decades.

              A FREAKING MEN.

              When I think of what my high school years could’ve been like with B complex supplements, based on my body’s response from first supplementing by eating too muchchocolate and then with actual supplements….

              (Yes, I actually lost weight on chocolate. It wasn’t actually fun.)

            • By the way– don’t forget that the definition of obese was changed when they changed the screening equation to make it work better.

              Everyone they diagnose as “obese”? Is actually “group that includes all but a maximum of 5% of those who could possibly be medically obese.”

              • I was listed as obese when I was 10 lbs overweight.

                • Yeah, I was a “normal” weight once.

                  After I did three months on mess duty, with about four hours of sleep a night, and eating once a day due to time limitations. (Navy regulations don’t actually work.)

                  Went to visit my folks at the end of it… my mom was horrified at how thin and sickly I looked.

                  • yeah uh… i went into basic 2 lbs short of the top of my allowed entrance weight and i left basic 3 lbs under my actual required weight and i had lost weight in weird places…

                    • Hell, my husband amazingly shrank an inch or two between when he signed up and when he hit boot camp.

                      Destroyed his weight waiver. (under weight)

              • yeah, Arnold has been ‘obese’ by the current formula since the 1970s

              • Apologies – I’m not sure I’m parsing that correctly:

                Everyone they diagnose as “obese”? Is actually “group that includes all but a maximum of 5% of those who could possibly be medically obese.”

                Could you unpack?

                • BMI is supposed to screen out those people who cannot possibly be obese, with only a 5% escape-rate.

                  The “obesity rate” that people use– including the CDC– is that group; only 5% of obese people will not be included in the group, but a lot of non-obese people will be.

              • Right now I’m definitely overweight. (Over *my* weight.) But when I’m not—when I’m at a good stable position, where my moods don’t fluctuate too badly if it’s been eight hours or more since I’ve eaten, my stamina’s at the point where I can go all day and fall asleep tired but justified in that tiredness, and so on—I’m still considered “overweight” by that bastardization of misapplied guesses masquerading as statistics known as the BMI. Thankfully, I have yet to have a medical professional pick on me for that, but right now I have to search for a new doctor regardless because my last seemed entirely uninterested in tracking down what was an actual physical problem.

          • My bet is on the diet of the mothers– moving from free-feeding to “exactly what they are SUPPOSED to need.”

            • Just to be sure I understand – you mean you think that the researchers likely changed the diet of the mice to be what they consider optimal?

              • If diet includes HOW they were fed, rather than just WHAT, then yes.

                I KNOW that rabbit feed has changed in the last 20-30 years, I’d be shocked if rat food hasn’t, and a modification like “they get what they need” rather than “they’ll eat what they need” is an invisible but normal change.

              • Look, my mom was 4-H teacher.

                I had state-of-the-art feed because I was a display kid for the group.

                It was… alfalfa pellets.

                Now?

                I can’t even UNDERSTAND what the 4-H kids were feeding their rabbits.

                And they were NOT doing the “fill up the feeder, keep it topped off” thing.

                • My question was more aimed at, “The mice/rats, or humans?”

                  • ….that is depressingly on point.

                  • I am speaking, as a matter of a control group, of the mice.

                    I do think it matches with dietary changes in terms of waht is “normal,” though, although that would be a secondary thing.

                    My main theory is “starve the mothers, the babies will be fat on teh same diet.”

                    • This would be born out by “pre-eclampsia babies tend to be obese” — because they’re starved in utero. Robert suffers from this.

                    • After you mentioned this, I started using my “always pregnant lady” card to chat to relatives about what they did while pregnant.

                      The ones hwo said “F this, I’m preggers, eat whatever” have kids that are lean.

                      The ones who bent over backwards to avoid weight, who fought to avoid that “more than 10lbs gain”, have….well, my mom, and her sister. And my siblings.

                      The daughter I didn’t even know we HAD, until second trimester? (She hit Lent, so I wasn’t doing my paranoia “even though we’re sterile” testing dead zone) She’s a freaking TWIG.

                    • Marshall is relatively lean for this household (except for when a stomach issue made him gain weight explosively.) I didn’t know I was pregnant until six months (break through bleeding on schedule, plus, you know, I just didn’t get pregnant without treatments)

            • I’ve seen the great line, “We stopped caring about food and started caring about nutrients… and everyone got fat.”

  6. I forget who said it, but it struck a chord that while Joe Average and even Joe Poor were at a different level from Mr. James Moneybags…. well, let’s just see.

    The rich guy might have a mansion, a luxury car, fancy china dishes and silverware made of real silver and the biggest TV produced, etc.

    But the not-rich, unless truly destitute, well, his house is warm enough in Winter, cool enough in Summer. His beat up used Chevy runs well enough to get him around. The flatware doesn’t demand polishing as it’s inexpensive, practical stainless steel. So the dishes are Corelle – break one and you can get a replacement most anywhere. The TV shows the same shows. Inequality? Superficial nonsense.

    I grew up “American poor”… which means most (perhaps all) of history and a good chunk of the (then) present would have traded places with me before I could blink, if given the chance. Yeah, I find things at garage and yard sales or thrift stores that remind me of back when and I realize just how “make do” so much was… but make do, still does. There are “comfort foods” I found out later were “that’s we did when we couldn’t afford decent food” – and yet we had food! And shelter. And heat (though wood is work, aye). And cooling – an upstairs apartment means air conditioning isn’t considered a luxury, but a necessity.

    A while back I saw someone here post about an idea of an Immortal who went about as a ‘bum’… and could explain that even at that, he was still living better than royalty of old! I want to read that story. (So if you who said such are reading this, please write it… thank you.) Ponder our *junk*. Obsolete junk. A lot of stuff is that now.. and not that long ago it wasn’t even modern, nor experimental, but outright fantastic.

    Mr. Moneybags might have a servant or a gadget to on the light. I have switch to flip. We both get light. What he has, he might consider convenience. Others might call it needless complexity. And you know what? Doesn’t matter. We both get light.

    • There’s also the progression of technology dispersal. 100 years ago, only the rich had refrigerators. Now they can be found in the lowest-rent apartments. Less than 25 years ago, I remember seeing a large (at the time) LCD TV for $15,000. One of the same size today is less than $1,000.

      Basically, most big-ticket things start out being the province of the rich, but then their price comes down as they are improved and developed, until nearly everyone has one. For non-electronics, this cycle is generally 30-50 years. For electronics, it is 5-10.

      • Because… Capitalism.

        Bob makes a widget and sells some to the rich, but he wants to make more money. So, he has to expand his market. Which means he eventually has to sell to the not-rich guys, meaning the price has to somehow come down.
        Or, there’s Jane, who *also* wants to make widgets, but Bob has the rich-guy market all sewn up. So she makes them cheaper and sells to the not-rich folk.
        And, in the end, everyone is better off than they were before.

        Because… Capitalism!

      • I bought my first four-function (PLUS a memory buffer!!!!) pocket calculator in 1976 for $100 — and a year later I upgraded to a full slide rule function pocket calculator (with multiple memory buffers) for another $100. And that was when $100 bucks was significant money (gasoline ran about $0.65 a gallon, ppb cost something like $2.25; you could buy a week’s groceries for $100 and not scrimp.)

        Approximately twenty years ago PC hard drive memory cost about a dollar a Meg — a 200M hard drive ran about $200. Now? Thumb drives and SIM cards cost less than a dollar a Gig and you cannot buy anything smaller than 4G (I sometimes worry about not putting enough data in one of those and having my piddling 250M rattling about inside.)

        • From a tourist point of view I was rather impressed by the differences in hotel room prices. A boutique hotel almost next to the Mall, a large room, well under 200 dollars per night (okay, it seems to be more expensive when reserved less early than I did, I got it several months before I got there). Compared to my last hotel stay, a very small room in a hotel in Stockholm Gamla Stan, over 200 euros. Then there was this huge room in a smaller Las Vegas casino hotel, off the Strip, first night 30 dollars, after that under 100 dollars (they get their money from gamblers, I presume).

          Gas seemed to have gotten closer to European prices since the 80’s when I last visited, then it was about one quarter what we pay here, two years ago it was only about half the price I’m used to but that was two years ago, I’m under the impression it may have gone down some after that?

          • In the last six years or so, I’ve seen gas prices as high as $4 and as low as $2 per gallon. This is not a straight line from one to another but fluctuations. I think right now it’s a bit below $3, but I live in an area of the country with comparatively expensive gas.

            • And it’s still coming down from a post Harvey high. (Which wasn’t really that high, considering.)

              • A gallon is about 3,7 liters, a liter here has stayed rather consistently around a little bit under 1,5 euros, so that would be about 6,5 or so dollars or a bit under for a gallon with current exchange rate. Okay, somewhat over half the price at its highest, at its lowest you are paying about less than one third what we do.

          • Then there was this huge room in a smaller Las Vegas casino hotel, off the Strip, first night 30 dollars, after that under 100 dollars (they get their money from gamblers, I presume).

            I would guess a decent number of truckers, too.

            They just want a shower and a soft bed, won’t make demands on the staff, and probably won’t even touch the soap and stuff. (taking your own soap is a good tactic to avoid random skin irritation– I take mine because the kids are destructive, swipe the provided soap and stuff, and put it in beggar bags for guys on the corner)

        • My brother tells me that when he started work at IBM (sometime in the early 70s), computer memory (alas, don’t have a figure for long-term storage solutions) was, “a buck a byte”.

          • I’ve mentioned this, but on 1982 Byte bach cover, they’re advertising that some company has 5 megabyte Winchester type drives for only $6000. Such a deal!

          • I have several play recordings in my purse right now. As in, at least four recordings of 150 minutes each, full sound and HD color, in the amount of space my spare change would take up.

            • I have fond memories of my visit to Bell Labs in Columbus, in 1982. In their computer room, where their mass storage unit, that could store up to 250GB, was a double cabinet, each one about 7 feet tall, 3 feet wide, and perhaps 10 feet long, where there were massed receptacles along each wall (I seem to remember them as honeycomb-shaped, but am not certain), which could each hold one 3 inch wide tape, and a robotic retrieval mechanism for switching tapes in the reader units.

              Just a tad bit of an improvement today, eh?

            • Almost my entire music collection is in my MP3 player. They all reside on a single micro SD card, which has room to spare.

            • Oh, holy crud… I just realized that I ordered impulse buy-mini-sd cards that have more memory than my computers when I was growing up.

              Then, it would’ve been…. like a month’s worth of McD’s lunches. Now? Like two, three days.

              • thats always the case for me, my first computer was a Commodore 16. The computer i first started learning 3d on had 24 mb of memory and a 240 mb hard drive.

                • I just realized… I never knew exactly HOW much memory the first computer i started learning 3D on had, because it was the school’s mini-computer (a VAX 11/780 – I started in ’82, and my graphics class was in ’86, after I came back to school), and they didn’t really make the specs public to the students (and when i was taking the classes, I didn’t really care).

                  • That was back in the days when the attitude was, “If you can’t write a program that will run off a floppy you need to get into another line of work.”

                  • Everybody else was using the school’s IBM-compatible PCs, but my job kept me from being in the lab during the day, and they were locked up in their own room after 5PM, so I also had to learn how to send graphics commands to the graphics-compatible terminal, rather than using ones that were built into the language they were using.

                  • I think i’ve told the story about chatting with one of the guys that worked on The Last Starfighter at SIGGRAPH. He said there was an interview printed later where he stated “We brought a Cray VGX/T to its KNEES.”

          • Anonymous Coward

            Here is the first disk drive I ever used without removable platters :
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ST-506
            It was hooked to an original IBM PC (Model 5150) using a 3rd party interface board.
            $1500 in 1980 ($4360 in today’s dollars) for 5 Mb = $893000/Gbyte.
            A base model PC cost $1565 at that time (1981).

            Local computer store is currently selling a 3Tbyte drive for $78 = $0.0254/Gb over 35000x less expensive and over 1200x faster.

      • When my wife and I were much younger, as a major luxury we paid ~$400 for a microwave (adjusted for inflation, that’d be over double the price). It was large, heavy, and lasted for nearly 20 years. And it had features we seldom used (a temperature probe, for instance).

        It was still working when we donated it to a charity – the problem was that is was bigger than we needed and heavy. We replaced it with a more powerful one that cost $50 – much lighter and easier to use. Yes, it gave up the ghost after 7 or 8 years, but its replacement was better built, cost the same, and is going strong today.

        I’m sure most here could tell the same story about home computers, cell phones (not even smart phones!), and – yes – televisions.

        These days, most consumer goods are, relatively speaking, *cheap*. And most who fall into true (not relative) poverty manage to extricate themselves in a few weeks or months. True, long-term, poverty is usually accompanied by either mental/physical problems that limit their ability to work – or a profound unwillingness to work (I’d classify drug/alcohol problems as a combination of these two factors).

        This is a relatively new thing in human history – as many others have pointed out, the “poor” in first-world economies being, on average, overweight would have been an impossibility even a century back. And most political discussions have yet to catch up to the current-day reality.

      • OTOH, that change has allowed the government to lowball inflation. Until they start taking actual necessities into account, such as food, we’re living in a fantasy.

    • Me the same. Small house, HVAC efficient, electricity at my command, and at not to onerous a cost.
      I remember the horrendous European heat wave of a couple of years ago, wherein hundreds of elderly people died in August, mostly because … Europe in August. (And not used to sweltering temps, let me fairly admit.)
      There is a huge difference between Europe and the USA, generally. I can say so because I lived on the local economy for better than a decade in the 1980s and 90s. Came away from the experience that basically – it’s DIFFERENT.
      Some ways better, some ways worse. Came back to the US more or less for good in 1994, settling in Texas – realizing that … basically, Americans are less guarded socially than Spanish/Greeks. More superficially friendly, more open, even more given to be helpful. and businesses are more customer-oriented. We had an outage with the central heat in our Spanish home; it took a month to sort, even with the good-will of our landlord. In Utah – problem with the central heat in winter was sorted in a single day. In Texas, we had a new HVAC system installed in a single day also.
      All the difference.

      • There might also be some legal differences there. Some states require AC to qualify a rental as “habitable”, and the landlord may be exposed to penalties if they don’t fix AC, electricity, or plumbing ASAP.

  7. My impression of left wing ideologues is that they are deeply self centred – narcissist tendencies at minimum – who are envious of people that are doing better in life than them. Also, left wing types seem to have dire families and want The State to fill that hole but it never works, of course.

    I don’t know if story was apocryphal or not but I remember reading that USSR communists sent a documentary team over to the US South in the late 1950s to show how bad black people had it in America and illustrate to Russians that their society was much better because it more egalitarian.

    Of course in reality, Black Americans were poor in America, bottom of society, but they were still miles ahead of Russians – documentary meant to show how poorly black americans were treated filmed them living in their own homes with consumer goods like fridges, tv’s, radios, cars outside on lawn ….. apparently common Russian person watching this documentary did not get correct message that USSR propagandists were hoping for.

    And there was story about Boris Yeltsin who went to grocery store on unscheduled visit while having official duties in Houston and he couldn’t believe how much food was available and at what cost.

    • I’d heard similar about The Grapes of Wrath being used to show what
      disaster and despair Western decadence lead to. And the result was, “Wait, the poor people have cars?”

      • Victor Belenkov (the Mig-25 defector) had that reaction to something his squadron was shown at an assembly.

        • There is one story about a Soviet general being welcomed in a parade. When they turn a corner he is amazed and exclaims “Wow! You guys do the sides of the buildings, too!”

    • In all fairness, my impression has been that ideologues, whether of the Left, Right or Center, tend to be affected by deep personal trauma which they project onto the world at large. OTOH, the Left seems to do a better job of weaponizing their nutjobs, perhaps because they are, as a group, so eager to criticize society.

      Rightwing ideologues tend to be symptomatic of deep ills within the culture, ills not being addressed by the bien pensant. See various nationalist European parties criticizing the failure to assimilate “refuge seeking” groups. When the powers that be wage war on the working* classes the results seem to be classified as Rightwing.

      *Working classes not in the Marxist sense but in the division of labor sense: people whose work involves tangible results subject to objective valuation, as opposed to the intellectual classes (professoriate, journalists, advertising/marketing, lawyers and others whose work largely consists of symbol manipulation to attain perceive results) and monied class (those who make their living from manipulation of wealth: brokers, arbitragers, traders and trust fund recipients, aka The Aristocracy.)

      • BobtheRegisterredFool

        Seems to fit me. 1) My strong views on family values were shaped by my childhood aspirations for my own family. 2) My views on displays of emotion, appeals to emotion, and the trustworthiness of emotions as a decision making process are likewise heavily influenced by childhood baggage. 3) My views on mental health, intervention in other people’s lives, and drug use (where I’m especially insane/out of touch with American culture) are driven by personality traits strongly shaped by events going back to early childhood.

  8. I think like all the worst reactions in human nature it comes from the toxic combination of hiding a bad impulse inside a good one. Envy of someone else’s advantages is natural but undisguiseably venal, and doesn’t get much shrift. Envy of advantages that that someone else “didn’t earn” or “doesn’t deserve” is remarkably easy to pass off as an urge to see “justice” done, which everybody either honestly wants to do or is averse to being seen not doing.

    The trick is to make sure your definition of whether someone “deserves” their wealth is always open to revision without notice, or optimally, without being noticed.

    • I was thinking about something Mrs Hoyt wrote here, a while ago that has become part of my mental furniture. She wrote that one of the ideas baked into leftists is the idea that “some people are born with saddles on their backs, and some people are born booted and spurred to ride them.”

      Which goes a long way to explain the seething resentment that is part of the aggressive left.

  9. I don’t think the yelling about “inequality” has anything to do with poverty. I think it’s mostly driven by people who have degrees from the “right” universities and are furious that their credentials haven’t brought them effortless fame and fortune.

    Their answer to “If you’re so smart, why aren’t you rich?” is “The other guy cheated.” And they will never give that up.

    • I recall reading (BLOOD SPORT: The President and His Adversaries, James B. Stewart) about Hillary Rodham Clinton sitting in the faculty lounge at the college where she was employed as governor’s wife lecturer on law and railing about a country which claimed to be dedicated to the importance of education paying such poor salaries to its educators. The disparity between “respecting” a job and what we are willing to pay for having it done was apparently too subtle for her to grasp.

      The world is full of people who glance at the colorful brochures touting “How To Have An Amazing Life” by attending such-and-such college, pursuing such-and-such career, living in such-and-such community and are disappointed to find that the brochure writers lied (well, not lied lied, not technically, but that print was kinda fine and some of those words’ meanings less precise than they realized and this way to the egress …)

      • Wellllll … dang. I reserve the right t revise and extend my remark:

        I recall reading (BLOOD SPORT: The President and His Adversaries, James B. Stewart) about Hillary Rodham Clinton sitting in the faculty lounge at the college where she was employed as governor’s wife lecturer on law and railing about a country which claimed to be dedicated to the importance of education paying such poor salaries to its educators. The disparity between “respecting” a job and what we are willing to pay for having it done was apparently too subtle for her to grasp.

        • richardmcenroe

          I guess you wanted to be sure we followed your line.

        • All of the “education” I ever had involved a teacher following the teacher’s manual, keeping order in the classroom (well, it *was* some time ago) and grading papers. In college some of the instructors only put in occasional appearances, leaving all that grotty “teaching” stuff to TAs.

          Any of the classes I took could just as well have been “taught” by any available warm body.

          Sorry, though they’ve strangled it in credentialism now, that’s unskilled labor, not a Great Calling.

          • I went to 10 different schools across the U.S. so I can confirm that there are far too many mediocries, an appalling number of the completely, obviously inept, and a decent number of “good enough to get the job done” instructors.

            But tMrs. Smith saved my life. She was clever, and wise, and on a mission to fill those little 3rd and 4th grade minds with knowledge. I learned to love the Greek philosophers and Narnia from her. Mr. Smith (no relation) taught me how to teach myself to draw. Mr. Carrier and Mr. M taught me how to write, Mr. H grounded our understanding of U.S. history in her constitution, Mrs. Jewel undid a decade of bad teaching in one year and every student left her class with a knowledge of and appreciation for the great works of the Western cannon. And these were public school teachers in schools that I remember being a cross between an ant hill and a jail.

            My experiences lead me to believe that teachers CAN be extraordinarily valuable, but usually aren’t. I leave the answer as to why as an exercise for the student. Zero credit for “we need to throw more money at school administrators.” Take the dunce hat and go stand in the corner for “they need more Marxist social justice indoctrination.”

            • They were probably teachers before teaching became something you had to get a degree in.

              • Or, like my mother, were one of 3-4 fields that women could enter in the rural South in the early 50s.

                • Hm, I wonder if that’s the (a) source of the “women had to be teachers” thing?

                  It doesn’t fit anything any of my family hit, but I know it had to have SOME source….

                  • Most family women were businesswomen. My great aunt was the village schoolmistress, though. before my time. She’d retired well before even my brother’s time.

                    • I have…exactly one school teacher in my ancestry, and TAHT is mostly because “my husband is your folks’ boss, I am going to teach you all the ways to avoid being screwed over.”

                    • True…. once they got married. If you weren’t married, schoolteacher was acceptable because it had been what the unmarried spinster generally ended up doing as part of the family unit.

                  • Yeah, pretty much. The social aspect was definitely there. Look at the Little House books for a secondary example.

              • Of the most influential teachers I had (2006 grad), not one started teaching after 1975.

          • That’s one of the reasons I appreciated my (regional, non-research) college so much. The class sizes were small (the largest I had were math and physics, forty or fifty students, and a typical class was about twenty) and the professors were the ones teaching. The only TAs I spotted were in chemistry, and they were primarily there at the labs for students to have extra people to go to for help.

            I skipped the UC system entirely, and laughed over UC Berkeley’s flyer that claimed a huge teacher to student ratio—that’s meaningless unless they’re actually in the classroom!

          • I taught my younger sister how to read when I was in first grade. Two years later, they put me in the below-average math class because I had a speech defect and spoke so poorly I had to be stupid, and they simultaneously paraded her around to show how well their kids could read.

            • ARGH. The Catholic school refused Marshall because he had a speech impediment. They said he jumped from fourteen to fifty. It never occurred to them to let him continue counting. This is the kid who would count things for fun “We’ve driven past two hundred blue cars this trip” Or calculate strange things like “It’s been 200 days since we did this, so, it’s 0.5 percent of the time.
              And they wouldn’t let him into kindergarten, because he needed to be in “special classes.” ARGH.

  10. How do you take a cloud and pin it down?

  11. I knew how to read, mostly because I was so much younger than my only sibling and my cousins, that I was bored out of my gourd …

    There you have hit on the source of much of the inequality in the world: we are not all born on the same day. Kids born in October will enter school more physically and mentally developed than kids born in May. More importantly, those born under Fire signs will have more forceful personalities than folks born under Water signs (who will tend to be more emotional.) Even worse, people born with Jupiter ascendant will be more bountifully blessed than those with Saturn rising.

    Not only that, but it is highly likely people who believe in Astrology will experience different lives than those who don’t.

    Inequality is baked into the cake.

    • And should any care to do the analysis (real or imagined) yes, I really am a Taurus in that sense, too – even with precession.

    • “Kids born in October will enter school more physically and mentally developed than kids born in May.”

      It’s even more pronounced in athletics. I remember as a kid on the summer swim team, your “age group” was determined by your age on May 1, so the kids with May birthdays would be almost a year older than many of the kids they were competing against. It wasn’t fair! If only I’d had a late spring or summer birthday, I could have been a star, maybe even an Olympian!

      Well, okay, maybe not, but there is a little something to it. Obviously, that advantage decreases almost every year and by the time you get to the elite levels is non-existent. However, I would be curious to know when the birthdays of the top swimmers are. I wonder if the 9-year-olds who win a bunch of awards swimming with the 8-and-unders get the little bit of extra encouragement they need to keep pushing themselves and pushing themselves, eventually joining the year-round clubs, the top college teams, and finally the Olympic trials.

      Of course, there are also the 9-year-olds who win a bunch of awards swimming with the 8-and-unders, get the little bit of extra encouragement, join the year-round clubs, spend their childhoods travelling to swim meets, but ultimately fall just a bit short of where they would need to be to reach the college or Olympic levels. So whether that birthday would have been a blessing or not is impossible to say.

      • I was born in November, and was always the baby. Um… I might have entered school in 69… memory is going.

      • I was always the youngest in my class– birthday in August. Also the weakest and the smallest until I hit puberty. When my classmates of that time meet me again, they always ask “what happened?” I’m the tallest now. lol Also meant I never did well in school sports.

        • The Princess would’ve been the oldest in her class, while her sister would’ve been the youngest– plus right behind her sister in school. REALLY not a good combination, so it’s a good thing we went homeschooling. (Although I hadn’t really considered what it would do to the Duchess of Ornery if she was always comparing herself to a sister with totally different advantages.)

      • Obviously, that advantage decreases almost every year and by the time you get to the elite levels is non-existent.

        I am not so sure — young children are very prone to incorporate such things in their self-image as part of their base programming so that, even as they consciously recognize the cause and effect relationships they subconsciously cling to those thoughts. A great deal of athletics involves confidence, and early success tends to instill confidence. As you note, such early success also tends to enhance familial and social support for such activities and can drive training and opportunities.

        OTOH, I trust I was sufficiently facetious as to make clear I was ridiculing the concept of such meta-equality as is being preached. As we cannot raise everybody to the same level the only way to reach such equality is to press everybody down, and even then we find some obvious flaws.

        • I was born in July, so I would have been one of the older ones in my class… but then I skipped second grade. So for the rest of my school career, I was a year younger than my classmates. I grew up always being the smallest, weakest kid in my group, picked last for sports for perfectly rational reasons, and so on. That sunk into my self-image, and even when I grew up to be slightly taller than average (about 5’10”), I still thought of myself as relatively small and weak. It wasn’t until I started lifting weights last year that that mental image went away. Now I think of myself as physically strong and capable, because I’ve seen how my strength has gone up in the past months. But I think you’re right about the self-image thing: if I’d been interested in sports during my college years (when, in fact, there was nothing preventing me from being a good athlete except lack of interest), I would have incorrectly thought that I wasn’t capable of athletic performance, and passed on the opportunity.

          • I call it the Clydesdale effect from how Anheuser-Busch trains up their famous horses.

            Early impressions can stick. Now consider that the teacher’s unions won’t let us fire the most predatory or inept public teachers, but instead haunts then into communities that are poorer or dysfunctional where caring parents capable of challenging the system are in the minority. And there you have another brick in the wall.

            • “Shunts” implies a conscious act. In reality, when a school system manages to get rid of a teacher, the teacher goes to where he can find work. It’s just like there’s not a committee to decide what bubbles to the top of a septic tank.

              What unions do is to make it incredibly hard to get rid of bad teachers. The truth is that most of the time, when a teacher gets the pink slip, there’s a political reason behind it. Just because it’s hard to get rid of a teacher doesn’t mean that it’s impossible, and there are ways; it just has to be considered worth the effort. When tenure is factored in, that can effort can be monumental, indeed.

      • There’s a lot something to it. The kids who do better are given more chances to improve. As a consequence, in ice hockey, where the cut off is January 1, pro hockey players are weighed toward born early in the year and especially not late.

      • IIRC, a survey of successful athletes in certain sports showed a significant skew in dates of birth across the year. More were born on dates that put them at the beginning of a school grade cohort than at the end. IOW, as children they tended to be the oldest and and thus the biggest, strongest, or fastest in the group they competed with. As such they were more likely to be very successful, and to persist in competing and eventually training, whereas those in the same cohort who were several months younger were more likely to do badly or merely average, and drop out of sports.

        • Oddly, after a similar study, my classmate started being held back a year before entering kindergarten for “home training”….

          (None managed to be sports superstars, but they did manage to be pretty impressive on the bully-grounds. Both pro and con.)

    • I was born under the sign of the Crab and have done my best to live up ( or down) to that standard of temperament and sociability.

  12. The only way you can guarantee equality of results is to have the government dictate exactly how much money you can make and how far you can go.

    That won’t work, either. Some folk will always be better than others at working the system. They’ll know how to bond with their case managers so as to be forgiven small transgressions (such as not showing up for interviews) and gain minor advantages (such as early notice of availability of new housing units.)

    Besides, do we really want Nazis to enjoy all the same social benefits as Progressives? Is equality truly equal or should some people be more equal than others?

    • …more equal than others?

      Knowing the source of the reference, I feel compelled to state (though it likely matters not) that I have no issue with those of general two-legged or general four-legged type (recognizing that unfortunate circumstance happen and the general number and actual number can differ) though I will admit that six- and eigh-t (and more..) -legged creatures might not be so well received, at least initially. Note: legged, not limbed. No issue with centaurs, for example. Oh, alright, I admit to slight bewilderment at multi-tailed foxes. There, said it.

  13. Thatcher put it best:

  14. You all want TRUE equality? Okay, I’m going to give you true equality.
    No sports team is allowed to make more baskets, points, goals, or touchdowns than any other sports team. No player is allowed to score more than any other player. If Tom Brady makes the most successful passing plays, then all the other teams must be allowed to make the same number of successful passing plays, even it they have to sit down on the field to let the other team make them. No player is allowed to make more money than any other player, and all players are not allowed to make more than the median U.S. wage.

    That’s crazy you say? Hmmm. Maybe you’re right. Tell you what, we need to do an experiment to verify that that. Every player taking an knee, and every player, coach, owner, fan supporting them will be required to adhere to the median income requirement for the next 5 years.

    I’d bet NONE of them would agree to that.

    • It’s a good thing you aren’t evil.

      • /em waggles eyebrows
        /em laughs maniacally

        “Okay everyone. Who wants to be in the experimental group, and who wants to be the control group?”

        Watches everyone step over to the control box.

        “Uh huh. I see nobody is willing to put their money where their mouth is.”

    • I like the way you think. 🙂

    • > all players are not allowed to make more than the median U.S. wage.

      I’ve long advocated that for US Congressmen and Senators. But alas, they’re “free”. Their states don’t pay them; they just dip money out of the Federal pot.

      Since the Fed is paying them, they’re working for the Fed, not for us…

    • they are all about taking a knee for equality but you don’t see them donating everything they earn above , say, the average us resident’s salary to other people

  15. How Do You Solve A Problem Like Inequality?

    Kill everybody. The only true equality is that of the grave.

  16. Thanks, Sarah. Just …thanks.

  17. Well, when someone complains to me about things being unequal my response is simple. “So what? Life isn’t fair, Never has been, never will be.”

    Equal rights, equality under the law, those are things we can strive for and achieve. Equal outcomes will never happen. Some people are faster, they’ll win races. Some people are stronger. Some people are smarter. And, more importantly, some people will work harder. And some will simply be in the right place at the right time.

    And if you’re looking for economic equality outcome? In doing family research I’ve found one of the family stories true. I’ve had several really rich relatives, who died rich. And childless. I have 5. There are costs to creating the next generation. A rare few (Trump) can have several kids- and wives- and still get rich. For most of us, it ain’t gonna happen.

    • Life not fair.
      Life more like circus.
      Explains all the clowns.

    • “Fair is where you go to show your pigs and quilts, and eat funnel cake and deep-fried-thing-on-a-stick.” The big one around here was last week.

      • CSPAN has been running a series of lectures recorded at the centennial celebration of the passing of Buffalo Bill. On lecturer, discussing the Lakota peoples’ experience with the show referred to a tale about some of the tribal members riding the carousel.

        I dearly wished to know what they had thought of that.

      • SheSellsSeashells

        Mine had deep-fried cookie dough on a stick this year. Damn good thing it’s only once a year… *starryeyes*

    • Some people are not innately faster or stronger, they are simply more willing to make sacrifices to achieve their goals. They’re more willing to adhere to a strict training diet and exercise regimen, more willing to spend an extra ten hours a week training instead of hanging with friends.

      Michael Jordan wasn’t more talented than other kids he met attending youth basketball camps when he was in High School, but he was more willing to put in the time and effort to improve. The quality shared by all great athletes is less “talent” than it is competitive drive.

      • Sorry, but there IS such a thing as talent, and it gives you a boost in your endeavors. Despite some peoples’ beliefs, however, it does not entirely substitute for the time and effort.

        If some people were not inherently stronger and faster than others, I would not have lost races at school nearly as badly as I did. I know I didn’t get as much practice as some of the them, but I also know I had more than others, including many of the ones in LOWER GRADES who beat me hands down.

        • Didn’t say there was no talent involved — all the other kids attending those High School basketball camps had talent. But talent alone isn’t enough, it is just the entry fee, the ante; it just gets you in the game and cards to play. Talent also poses the dire threat of making things easy enough you never learn how to work hard and employ your talent

        • I avoided being lapped in the mile run in HS by our best runner. Who ran 4:10 in HS. When you watched him run, either in a race or in practice, his gait and motion were different then the rest of us also-rans. Way different. All the practice in the world and along with supplements and steroids wouldn’t bring me to running that fast. Elite athletes aren’t the same as you and I. Most people can get to so good, and then that’s that, no further. And some are further BEFORE they start the practice and work.

          • While it’s true that your genetics and other factors do determine what your maximum possible performance will be, nobody, but NOBODY, starts out anywhere close to their maximum potential. It takes tons of hard work and training to get to your personal maximum. Which is why (as mentioned before) Michael Jordan was such a good athlete: he was willing to put in the hours and hours and hours of work to get himself up to his full potential.

            To put it in numbers because I think best in numbers, let’s say there’s a theoretical peak of human performance in sport X, and call that level 100%. And let’s say that with no training, people can generally manage to put out about 10% of their personal potential performance level in sport X. Now we have two athletes; one has been blessed with the perfect combination of genes and environment, and his personal maximum is 100%, but with no training, he’ll start at 10%. The second athlete doesn’t have nearly as good natural genetics and “talent”, so even if he trains as hard as Michael Jordan, he’ll only ever be able to reach a 50% level, and he starts out at 5%. But the first athlete doesn’t bother training and stays at 10% for years, while the second athlete trains at a moderate level and gets himself to 20%.

            There is such a thing as natural ability, in sports, in art, in music, in business, in writing. But regardless of natural ability, the person who trains hard will almost ALWAYS outperform the person who doesn’t bother to practice. Only when two people are putting in roughly equal amounts of training will their natural abilities be the differentiating factor.

            • I just keep seeing things that, when read, appear to be saying that there IS NO genetic bonus. I’m perfectly willing to believe that they are not intended that way, just as RES points out above, but that’s the way they read, nonetheless.

              I myself have a talent for learning to do physical processes. It takes me less time to learn something new than it does most other people. This one, however, is a complex thing, and I cannot separate how much is attributable to talent, and how much to growing up with a father who was competent at just about everything he did, and trying to emulate him. “Jack of All Trades”? Absolutely. “Master of None”? I wouldn’t bet on that. I don’t know anyone who can do some things as good as my dad did. So I had a VERY high bar to strive for. I haven’t reached that bar at anything he did, but I certainly can do a shitload of things better than most people.

              • I think all agree that there is a “genetic bonus” effect, but that alone is not sufficient to reach a superlative level. No amount of work will make someone who is tone deaf a great musician, and few are those who can achieve greatness on talent alone.

                Consider the recent research showing that toddlers learn perseverance by observing it modeled by adults. Having a bit of talent means the kid is not discouraged by initial inability and thus persists in the endeavor.

          • Funny thing is, my father may well have been an Olympic-level runner, but me? He was 70 before I could beat him in a short foot race.

        • I actually posit that’s why we see so many kids from underprivileged communities in sports. They don’t have very many models for success (or a college education), so they concentrate hard on sports, whereas the kid who has a lawyer for an uncle and a doctor for a mom is going to have sports as a sideline.

          • Once flipped by some program years ago that was a “documentary”: about an inner city version of Hogwarts. Very funny. The bit on the school and quidditch was hilarious, but one of the coaches observes that most kids see sports as the only way “out.” There’s probably a good bit of truth there.

            • Because of generally poor academic support an athletic scholarship often is the only way out — and I suspect that for many boys athletics is a shield against being recruited into a gang.


              This is not only true of the inner city, of course; those who saw October Sky will have noted that an athletic scholarship to WVU was considered the only route out of the coal towns and the only alternative to going down in the mines.

        • I can’t do languages.

          All the words go into one pile– so I’ll be saying something and then Japanese will pop out, or Spanish. And my Spanish is so bad it induces sudden English skills in “no habla englas” dudes.

          I spent THREE YEARS. All kinds of tactics. No go. I would always be that guy folks had to say “what? Say again?”

    • Having attempted to discuss the subject with some of its True Believers, I’ve come to the conclusion that “fair” and “equal” don’t mean the same thing to them.

      Apparently “equality” means “the pre-Civil-War South as the media portrays it, except with the races reversed.”

  18. I saw someone use the “how racist the US and Us military is” argument on Failbook. Seriously the person proudly proclaimed that they were a child of a fallen “vet.” It amazes me how I see and hear that BS when the person never served… I’ve lived other places i.e. Japan and Panama. I saw real racism…

    My late-hubby used to say that if we rounded up some of these “provocateurs” and sent them to some place like Panama… with no money… and they had to take care of themselves for a year on what a Panamanian makes– then they would be clamoring to come back to the States.

    • Pa, in one of his nastier moods (rare thing, that) “If tomorrow everyone woke up White, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant, Straight, Male (etc.).. a good many would be in for a helluva shock*: Ya still gotta work like Hell!”

      * Yeah, besides that one.

      • There was a Scrooge McDuck comic in which (IIRC) a tornado sucked out the contents of his money bin and redistributed the wealth to the citizens of Duckburg. It developed that whiile all were capable of spending money, only Scrooge had any skill at making money, so that he soon regained his wealth by doing work others would gladly pay for.

      • Yes, I think they imagine it’s easier for other people. Idiots.

    • Tangential: Have you been seeing a lot more argument-by-appeal-to-veteran-status?
      Or, really, more like “I, a Veteran, order everyone to do a Thing.”

      • More like, “Alejandro Villanueva served three tours in the sandbox as an Army Ranger and if he wants to salute the flag instead of hide in the tunnel with his team, well, more power to him.”

        Otherwise I find the whole “As a [status] I find [object] offensive” type of argument illogical and offensive. And not simply as a person, place or wallaby.

        • I’ll admit, I do use that argument– but only when it’s relevant. Such as in response to a question like “do girls find toilet humor offensive?” or refuting the “I’m X and I say Y is fine, cross me and you’re evil” type stuff.

          Heh, the one that comes up most often is bout being the mother of a small army….

          There’s just not a lot of stuff where what I am is relevant.

      • I’m a veteran. Had a tour in the sand box during Desert Storm, spent a lot of years in other, less-than-desirable locations. People back home slept safe in their beds from nuclear holocaust. Most of us do just fine with a “Thank you”, and reply with a “Thank you for your support”, and press on with life. The ones who died need to be remembered with honor. Those left broken, damaged, maimed need to be remembered too, and healed or put back together again as best we can; or at least visited in the VA hospitals around the country once in a while.

      • My usual response, when confronted with Military Halo Syndrome, is “Decorated war hero General Benedict Arnold could not be reached for comment.”

      • One of the reasons I have been more than cranky. As if anyone really cares that you were admiral so and so or petty officer something. Not their business to order people to do anything. *grumble

      • Realistically, people who have Done Things and Made Sacrifices have moral authority that those who have not, don’t.

        It’s not just veterans.

        Just compare Felonia Von Pantsuit’s “Because I have a Vagina” or Shaun wossname’s “Because I can look like I have dark skin” to John McCain’s “Because I voluntarily endured torture in the service of my country.

        It can be abused, anything can, but it’s real.

  19. They wail about inequality because they still think the world is zero sum. Ergo, if $RichPerson has a sports car, it can only have been taken from $PoorPerson. I would sentence them to remedial classes on economics, strapped to chairs with their eyelids propped open the better to see the glory of the recorded lectures by Mr. Sowell.

    Furthermore, they completely neglect to take into account the effect of personal taste. I don’t care if the government promises free vine-ripened tomatoes because I HATE TOMATOES. I would pay money to *avoid* tomatoes. But that’s just me. I prefer to have the fraught issue of tomato distribution handled by market forces. 😀 Furthermore, I don’t care how cute the butler is I don’t want strangers in my house!

    • Fellow I knew took delivery of a new radio (TS-440.. new at the time) and neighbor asked about it. “How can you spend that much on a radio?!” Fellow pointed at what was on a trailer in the neighbor’s yard. “Easy. I didn’t spend it on a boat.”

    • Yes. That’s at the heart of it.

      • Occasionally I’ve gotten through the zero sum economics concept with the following:

        In 1750 the world population was about 700 million, or one tenth what it is today. If wealth is not created but merely moved around, then the average person in 1750 would be ten times as wealthy as the average person today.

        • Bravo! I’ll have to use that line the next time someone trots out that tired old canard.

          Or if they want something more recent, consider Hong Kong, a fixed-size plot of land with no natural resources except location. In 1960, it had a population of ~3 million compared to today’s ~7.5 million. According to the World Bank, the per-person GDP (in US dollars) was $430 in 1960, compared to $43700 today.

          Adjusted for inflation (~8.3x since then) that would be ~$3700 per person in 1960. Instead, despite a population over twice the size, the per-person productivity today is ~12x that in 1960 (and about 30x the inflation-adjusted GDP)

          My wife grew up in HK in the 60s and 70s – by the first time I visited with her in the late 80s it was a much wealthier place than she had described. And the standard of living there today (in everything except personal space) is far above what I observed in those early visits, not starving to death as the fixed-pie advocates would predict.

        • Zero sum economics is wrong. But wealth doesn’t grow straight line population growth either. It almost always lags behind.

          • But that’s not an excuse to engage in steal and redistribute economics.

          • If you think about it, though, that stands to reason–it usually takes a few years before the new people are in any sort of condition to produce instead of just consume

          • Well, of course.

            Look at planting:
            You work your @#$# off, and later you get the harvest.

            Work, wait, reward.

            VERY few things have a quick reward– and population is decades of time.

    • That’s because most of them work in academia or other patronage systems, which *are* zero-sum. The few who can see that not all the world operates that way, dismiss them as their inferiors.

  20. Dear Sarah:
    I can’t seem to figure out how to communicate directly with you–I don’t have your email despite being a subscriber–but this link came across my desktop and I thought it might be of interest.
    Again, my apologies for posting this in the wrong place. Carry on.
    Blessings, David

    • Dear David,
      When including a link, please to be including link.
      Note: More than one link and into the moderation it goes. For all of us.

      • N.B. – not all links are accurately produced in WP because WP delenda est.

        This is particularly so in emailed WP comments. Sometimes the linked video, meme or image appears, sometimes the link appears, sometime only the framing comment appears (which is why I always try to frame such links with comments, lest some poor fool wondering what I was linking search in vain.)

        Further N.B. — I rarely post in vain, finding it much more convenient to post in North Carolina.

    • I don’t see the link my first two initials, last name at the mail of heat.

      • I read that as “mail of heart” and was trying to recall what all the different logos were. That’s what happens when you don’t wear a pair of classes for two years, and then discover that it is the same prescription but the focal point is set in just a slightly different place.

    • Also, if all else fails, you guys can send me stuff to the free range oyster email (in the promo posts) and he’ll forward.

      • If the message I sent never showed up, my offer to send you a copy of “Trekonomics” still stands.

        I listened to the audio version a couple of weeks ago, and I kept thinking “Sarah would shred this guy…”

        • I don’t remember seeing it. My issue with that is TIME.

          • Oh heck, making any of the obvious magazine jokes here would be akin to shooting carps in a barrel and I would rather shoot craps in an alley.

          • If you’re short of blog fodder sometime, ping me and I’ll have the ‘zon drop a copy your way.

            The author’s premise is that the NG Federation is Communist (which is obvious), and that’s GOOD, and if we can add more laws, more government, and more credentialism, we can become New StarFleet Man and the organs of state will wither away. Presumably the credentialing and legaling bits get privatized…

            • Yeah, about that …

              Imagine, if you will. that Starfleet is not made up of the best and the brightest. They are, in fact, a way to get rid of SJW. Once they are detected, they are taken aside and told they are all so special, which is what they want to hear, put on starships, and sent far, far, away. That five year mission thing wasn’t a coincidence, and that’s why a captain can lose as many ships as he pleases and never be cashiered – if they have enough casualties.

              Nor are they the only ones. Seem that every advance civilization that develops space travel eventually hits on this means to be shed of SJW. When there begins to be a huge disparity, they have a cull every now and then. Very entertaining for the sentients back home, and it thins out the gene pool a bit.

              Of course, accidents happen, and the real leaders have to scramble to restore parity, otherwise another bunch of SJW gains the upper hand and the results are just as bad. So one side has to be culled a wee bit more. This is how starfleet has all those last minute victories.

              • Star Trek as written by Cyril Kornbluth? I like it!

                I long thought Chief O’Hara the best character on ST:TNG.

                And all those red shirts lost in ST:TOS would be actual Federation Officers assigned to limit damage, being “written out” after having served their sentences time, via faked deaths?

                • That would also explain Kirk’s odd speech pattern.

                • Chief O’Hara? Do you mean Miles Edward O’Brian?

                  • Apparently I do. The only name I recalled (besides his ranking) was the actor’s, Colm Meaney. I can’t imagine whence the O’Hara came … at least I got the ethnicity correct. He’d have been mortified had I made him a MacDonald, I’m sure.

                    Sigh, now I will spend days with the back brain running down the O’Hara source.

                    • I’m guessing 1965 Batman. They created Chief O’Hara to give Commissioner Gordon someone to talk to.

                    • G-D knows I watched the stupid series. Both of ’em, although Trek was slightly better and (at lleast) tossed some money to such SF writers as Sturgeon, Ellison and Bloch. We can only imagine what they might have bought from Heinlein.

                      Maybe, once HBO has gamed all their thrones they could tackle MIAHM or Starship Troopers … although I shudder at what they might do with the last one in this current age, Moon would benefit from the present diversity mania. Lessee … Morgan Freeman as Prof., Tom Hanks as Adam Selene, Richard Dreyfus for Mycroft … I s’pose there are several energetic Latino actors who could play Manny but I do not keep track of such things. Wyoh ought be played by a spectacular blonde but I gather those are in short supply in Hollywood.

                    • *looks in awe* Oh my gosh I never noticed the similarities between O’Brien and O’Hara before….

                  • Chief O’Hara was in the Adam West Batman. Same era, different chief.

              • So Starfleet is Ark B? Huh. Interesting idea.

              • BobtheRegisterredFool

                That reminds me of some worldbuilding I did the other day.

                “What if the starships were officered by a small group drawn from a much larger population of sucidal badasses?”

                Mr. Midshipnin Sasuke Sarutobi

                Okay, the inspiration was much sillier than I imply. And I tried to do at least quasi-serious job on the society. Trying to square the circle of Ninja Scroll infighting prior to commissioning and a functioning Navy after is still more plausible than communism.

              • Of course! Why didn’t I see that??? Put all the SJWs in red shirts (or is it copper shirts this year?) and let the horrible aliens kill them all as they extend their hands in unwanted friendship.

                “Shoes and shirts required. No humans!”

              • Doesn’t fit well, but the idea is amusing.

                BTW, according to Rogue Trader, some important people are made RT (essentially Peers of the Imperium, owning a spaceship and having very few obligations) just to get rid of them – they will be peacefully removed from the local politics and take their ambitions somewhere far on the dangerous frontier. Attaching a dangerous mission as a condition is optional.
                However, the Imperium in WH40k considers itself already at war with everything else (except the lost colonies, but even that is no great loss).

              • Yes, but then you get rid of your phone sanitizers

            • So, he totally ignores the one requirement to get the NG Federation, totally free and unlimited energy? Oy vey. (Well, that, and the idea you can turn it into matter at will.)

        • Star Trek was a collectivist utopia from day 1. But also, it’s amusing how familiar traits that aren’t “utopian” at all just… emerge.
          Remember those phasers clearly not fit for a human hand, yet produced in “H. Sapiens club”? Remember Tupolev?..
          And random fits of hilariously backward engineering in general.
          Or how even the Fleet personnel would rather take their children to the frontier rather than leave them in that safe happy utopia.

    • https://accordingtohoyt.com/about/#comment-161720
      s a hoyt at hotmail dot com

      (I was pretty sure I remembered seeing it, and got lucky because it was actually THERE!)

  21. Our local politicians recently participated in the “Eat on a SNAP budget for a week” stunt to illustrate how difficult it was to live with government benefits helping you out. 9/10s of the comments were people sharing their own budgets and showing how the SUPPLEMENTAL food help was more than they actually spent per person in a week or a month. We figured it out too. It is more than we currently spend. And we don’t buy just the processed pre-packaged foods. We have a fairly good variety. Even many of those who used SNAP at some time said it was a help at a rough time, but it wasn’t what they subsisted on and many had a lot left over at the end of each month.

    Those who know how to cook, meal plan, shop sales, buy and store bulk properly, preserve, etc. will be better off on a low food budget with or without government help than those who just buy as they eat (which is what the politicians seemed to do. So even with government help to get people on a more “equal” food footing, some do better than others.

    • Those stunts were really popular a couple of years ago. At the time, I commented that I wasn’t sure whether these people were failing on purpose (after all, it wouldn’t be much of a publicity stunt if they came back and said, “I ate a lot of rice and beans, and it wasn’t fun, but I was never hungry”) or if they had all been raised by French poodles and genuinely had no idea how to eat on a budget.

      • There was a time that I was on food stamps (a combination of knee problems, the economy at that time and place, and then not having the degree I eventually got and I just plain could not find work I could actually do). Single male. So basically the most basic allowance at all.

        I couldn’t spend them all on food and I’ve always been a big eater. I ended up going from store to store getting things that totaled just over an even dollar amount so I could get change back in spendable money (even dollar amounts were returned in food stamps themselves while change to the even dollar was in coins) I could use for other things.

        So I always wondered, what the folk in these stunts were spending it on: lobster thermidor every night?

        • Yes. The massive numbers of stories you hear people tell of watching someone with an EBT card buying things they can afford maybe once a year have a solid core of reality under them.

      • I noticed most of them tended to report that they shopped daily and used the $4.20 or whatever limit as their entire budget for the day. “Oh, I can’t buy a box of cereal and milk because it is the entire day’s budget. I can’t eat McDonalds because then I can’t buy dinner.” I know people who shop like that without a budget. I know it is also a very European thing because microscopic refridgerators. but we have ways of doing things that should mean everybody could eat well and pretty healthy too.

      • Or as one supermarket checker observes, “Poor people sure eat a lot of steak and designer chocolates…”

        • This is covered in Milton Friedman’s “Four ways to spend money” under the category of “Spending other people’s money on yourself.”

          This is especially so when spending that money in productive ways will result in the money being cut off.

          • Not relating to individual government help, but government spending in general, my brother told me a story from his days working at IBM (I’m not certain exactly when, but it was definitely during the time when mainframes took up at least the space of a large desk, if not more)::

            Some guy from an agency that they supplied came in and wrote a number on the blackboard in a meeting, and said, “What can I buy?” They worked up a proposal and gave him a dollar amount. He subtracted that from the first number and said, “What can I buy?”. He kept doing this until he had spent every cent of the year-end budget leftover.

            • well yeah, you always spend it. And smart vendors price things under whatever dollar limit is just under discretional spending for the local office.

    • I have noticed that those doing such stunts rarely explore the possibilities of selling their food stamps at a discount for cash and using that cash to buy cigarettes, alcohol or other product generally excluded from the program.

      Of course, their goal is never to demonstrate how easily a person can supplement their diet with such programs. Their goal is forever and always to make the argument that program beneficiaries cannot get by on such meager benefits. Thus they’ve every reason to starve and none to prosper.

      Might as well ask Edison to test Tesla’s direct current concept.

      • Actually, Edison was pushing DC. Tesla was working on AC.

        • My error. Went to see Wind River* last week and walked in during the middle of the trailer for The Current War


          … and have lost track of who shocked who and how.

          *Excellent film, BTW

        • As I recall, that’s why Edison developed the AC Electric Chair, to show that AC is a KILLER.

    • every time I see those it’s more than we spend, and we’re LOW CARB.

  22. How Do You Solve A Problem Like Inequality?
    Ooooooh! A musical!

  23. “equality of social standing”
    Well, it depends on how you define “social standing”. We are not supposed to have an aristocracy. Everyone is supposed to be a “peer”. But, being humans, we’ll never get away from breaking up into cliques that are somehow “like us” – including our social standing. (But, hey, progressivism doesn’t believe in history or human nature, so that will never happen in their Utopias….)

    And this is where we get to “inequality” and indexing it is the sanctifying of envy.
    Yep. Envy is one of the most powerful motivating factors in the human experience. It can be channeled for good – “I want to live like that some day. So I’ll buckle down and work hard and trust to American ‘equality’ to not artificially keep me down, and some day I’ll be well off!” Or, it can be channeled for bad – “I don’t have what he has! Why not? I work. The fact I work at Subway 3 days a week for 4 hour shifts and he owns a regional company shouldn’t have anything to do with it! I’m an American, too! I deserve that! It’s not FAIR! Gimme what he has or I’ll take it from him!”
    (Hmmm, this might be the difference between ‘envy’ and ‘jealousy’ at work.)

    So we can establish that inequality causes neither discontent, discomfort…
    Well, inequality can cause discontent and discomfort. That motivates people (ones with a work ethic, anyway) to bust their hump and improve their lot in life.
    But, it’s up to YOU whether it produces stealing or striving. Not me. Not the gov’t. Not “society”. Just YOU.

  24. Charles Stross—a writer whose politics I often disagree with—had a character in Empire Games sum up her political agenda: “Equality before the law, liberty under the law. nobody above the law.” That’s actually a basic position I can support, and it defines the equality that I want and think is essential.

  25. Side note: Prices in Europe drop the further east you go. By the time you get to Russia, you can live well on a thousand dollars a month without even trying.

    • True. Also valid for playing tourist. I was in Hungary last year, and both lodging and meals were at least a third less than equivalents in Western Europe. Nice place, I highly recommend it.

  26. I read a former KGB agent’s story of going to “America school” before doing his first tour in the US. The instructors showed them propaganda films showing the extreme poverty and vicious racism prevalent in the US at that time. (late 1960s, I think)

    What he took away was that in America, people could riot or protest and not vanish. And that the “desperately poor” only lived one family – sometimes not even a whole family – per apartment, and they didn’t have to share plumbing down the hall. And those poor people had televisions, and many of them had private automobiles.

    • Brings to mind:

      Q: What’s the difference between a capitalist fairy tale and a Marxist fairy tale?
      A: A capitalist fairy tale begins, “Once upon a time, there was….”. A Marxist fairy tale begins, “Some day, there will be….”

      Q: Is it true that there is freedom of speech in the Soviet Union, just like in the USA?
      A: In principle, yes. In the USA, you can stand in front of the White House in Washington, DC, and yell, “Down with Reagan!”, and you will not be punished. Equally, you can also stand in Red Square in Moscow and yell, “Down with Reagan!”, and you will not be punished.

      Q: What is the difference between the Constitutions of the USA and USSR? Both of them guarantee freedom of speech.
      A: Yes, but the Constitution of the USA also guarantees freedom after the speech.

      Q: Is it true that the Soviet Union is the most progressive country in the world?
      A: Of course! Life was already better yesterday than it’s going to be tomorrow!

      An American man and a Soviet man are arguing about which country is better. ‘At the end of the day, I can march into the oval office, pound the President’s desk and say “Mr. President I don’t like the way you are running this country.”‘, says the American. The Soviet man replies, ‘I can do that too. I can march in to the Kremlin, pound the General Secretary’s desk and say “Mr. Gorbachev, I don’t like the way President Reagan is running his country!”‘

      Mikhail Gorbachev and his wife were on the train returning to Russia following a state visit to East Germany. After they’d been travelling a short while, his wife asked him: “Where are we now, Mikhail dear?” He put his hand out of the window and said: “We’re still in Germany, dear.” Several hours later, his wife asked him again: “Where are we now?” He put his hand out of the window and replied: “In Poland.” Some time later, his wife asked again: “Where are we now?” Gorbachev put his hand out of the window and said: “We’re back in Russia.” His wife was curious; she asked: “How do you know where we are just by putting your hand out of the window?” He replied: “When I put my hand out in Germany, the people kissed it. When I put my hand out in Poland, they spat on it. And when I put my hand out in Russia, they stole my watch.”

      A hotel. A room for four with four strangers. Three of them soon open a bottle of vodka and proceed to get acquainted, then drunk, then noisy, singing, and telling political jokes. The fourth man desperately tries to get some sleep; finally, in frustration he surreptitiously leaves the room, goes downstairs, and asks the lady concierge to bring tea to Room 67 in ten minutes. Then he returns and joins the party. Five minutes later, he bends to a power outlet: “Comrade Major, some tea to Room 67, please.” In a few minutes, there’s a knock at the door, and in comes the lady concierge with a tea tray. The room falls silent; the party dies a sudden death, and the prankster finally gets to sleep. The next morning he wakes up alone in the room. Surprised, he runs downstairs and asks the concierge what happened to his companions. “You don’t need to know!” she answers. “B-but…but what about me?” asks the terrified fellow. ‘Oh, you…well…Comrade Major liked your tea gag a lot.”

      The KGB, the GIGN (or in some versions of the joke, the FBI) and the CIA are all trying to prove they are the best at catching criminals. The Secretary General of the UN decides to set them a test. He releases a rabbit into a forest, and each of them has to catch it. The CIA people go in. They place animal informants throughout the forest. They question all plant and mineral witnesses. After three months of extensive investigations, they conclude that the rabbit does not exist. The GIGN (or FBI) goes in. After two weeks with no leads they burn the forest, killing everything in it, including the rabbit, and make no apologies: the rabbit had it coming. The KGB goes in. They come out two hours later with a badly beaten bear. The bear is yelling: “Okay! Okay! I’m a rabbit! I’m a rabbit!”

      Five precepts of the Soviet intelligentsia (intellectuals):
      Don’t think.
      If you think, then don’t speak.
      If you think and speak, then don’t write.
      If you think, speak and write, then don’t sign.
      If you think, speak, write and sign, then don’t be surprised.

      Those and more at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_political_jokes

      And yes, I realize that the last one applies to many areas of American intellectual life these days.

  27. The great Professor Dutch once pointed out that activism is glorified freeloading. I have a problem, and you need to drop what you are doing and go fix it. Right now!

    In regards to the specter of coddled multi-millionaires taking a knee- how bout getting up and working to fix the problem yourselves? Black America has tried to vote themselves help for almost a century, and it isn’t working. When a major political party relies on a group for a good % of votes, they’re not going to do anything that may end that reliance.

    Professional athletes have money, and they have influence, both within the black community, and with the business community. They can do something that an army of social workers can’t.

    Concerned that black men are unfairly viewed as criminals? Then stop acting like criminals. Work to make the thug life unpopular.

    Concerned that there is a lack of economic opportunities in black communities? Give money to black entrepreneurs. Support black businesses. Buy a house in a black neighborhood and make it a nice place.

    Taking a knee as a protest is quite easy. Because after the game is over, they’ll drive their nice car to a nice neighborhood and sleep in a mansion far away from the community they profess to love.

    • how bout getting up and working to fix the problem yourselves?
      This used to be the norm. Until about the time of gov’t politicians trying to solve things.

      Taking a knee as a protest is quite easy.
      Yep. It’s nothing more than signaling virtue. It’s not real virtue at all.

      • Victor Davis Hanson:
        The NFL House of Cards
        [SNIP]
        Outside the NFL bubble today, most of America, to the extent it still watches, now sees Sunday afternoon pop demonstrations as increasingly a farce, played out among players who appear neither exploited nor as exemplary model sportsmen, but rather as overpaid and pampered. Given the NFL’s enormous overhead, even a 10–20 percent reduction in attendance and viewing could send financial tsunamis throughout the league.

        Nor do the protesting players come across as informed, brave social-justice warriors on the barricades of dissent, but as mostly unable to explain to their fans precisely why and how they are mistreated or why America is a flawed society that does not deserve momentary iconic respect each week. If players were concerned about violence and injustice, why not collect a voluntary 10 percent contribution from the league’s multimillionaire players and use it to fund programs that address systematic and lethal violence in inner-city communities such as Baltimore or Chicago? And if ethics and values are the players’ issues, why over the last decade has there been an increase in player off-field violence and arrests, often marked by well-publicized violence against women?

        The owners, again fairly or not, are not viewed any longer so much as maverick tycoons and eccentric entrepreneurs or philanthropic regional family dynasties of the past, but rather as billionaire corporate magnates who invest their riches in glitzy cultural trophies and expect the state to subsidize their excesses. They are going down the Google/Apple/Facebook grandee path of losing their cultural appeal and, with it, their brand.

      • Taking a knee as a protest is quite easy.

        Taking a knee as a way of encouraging borrowers to pay the vigorish on their loans is quite painful … for the borrowers.

        • Yeah, isn’t taking a knee what the guy who can’t pay his loan shark back does just before they put a bullet through the back of his head?

          • Depends on the shark in question. The Mafia may rough a customer up to teach them the virtues of prompt payment, but usually frowned on murder. In the end, one needed to get the money back, somehow.
            The Medellin Cartel, on the other hand, tended to shoot first, then wonder about how to get the money back later.

  28. C4c

  29. The Liberal Democrat Left absolutely MUST push for “equality” of outcome, because the LD establishment is made up of White intellectuals who simultaniously KNOW that brown people must be treated as equals and KNOW that brown people are hopeless primitives who can never rise on theor own merits.

    In short, they are exactly the same sort of flaming racist swine that they were when they tried to secede from the Union.

    One day, brown people all,over the country are going to realize how poorly served they are by the Liberal politicians, academics, media twits, and (especially) Black quislings like Sharpton. I have no idea what will happen then (I have fantasies), but I don’t think it will be good news for the Left.

  30. x + 8 < 13
    x + 8 – 8 < 13 – 8
    x < 5

    I have solved the inequality for x!

  31. FWIW, I’ve been through a fair chunk of Europe. Sarah’s not exaggerating about the difference in standard of living between the U.S. and Europe.

  32. If inequality exists because some horses are faster than others, that’s just life. If inequality exists because somebody sabotaged the starting gates, that’s a problem. Inequality itself says nothing about injustice. Regardless, fixing inequality by hobbling the fastest horses does nobody any good.

    • Inequality also exists because of local instabilities (positive feedback loops).
      Even without soap bubbles, in plain coin sense, those who have much, will be given more, and those who have little will have even that taken from them.
      But also, there are naturally developing mechanisms that mitigate one or both.

  33. “Harrison Bergeron.” Read it in seventh grade. Scared the bejeezus out of me, until I realized it was satire.

    And now I find the SJW’s seem to think it’s a Good Idea.

    • Back in the early days of the first Clinton administration the Wall Street Journal ran Vonnnegut’s story on the editorial page; it required a single column, running the full length of the page.

      I long wondered how the liberal author felt about that. Of course, he was liberal back before the party had moved so far left McGovern* wouldn’t win their nomination.

      *That’s the pre-Bed&Breakfast McGovern; the later one, the one who said** sometimes the laws make it impossible to run a business, would have never gotten a campaign started.

      **Also on the WSJ editorial page.

  34. Well… “inequality” in financial sense isn’t a problem itself. It creates problems, in interaction with other factors. Thus generally there are at least two other places to deal with any effect without trying to abolish gravity.
    ‣ Bribery: a problem, but it obviously also involves another form of power having either bad cadre policy or larger “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes” issues, plus either lack of social feedback naturally inclined to create incentive to avoid throwing one’s weight against lower weight category directly, or artificial barriers (if bribery backs victimless transgressions).
    Likewise, lobbies are tolerated not as much because of wider corruption, as because it’s impossible to remove, since it’s inevitable in any political system pretending that existing major power groups don’t exist.
    ‣ Money sponges: result of “those who have will have more” effect; since currency is either limited or prone to heavy inflation, either inhalation or exhalation of Charybdis can create a problem for the wider economy.
    But it’s naturally mitigated: not only the rich tend to spend much (and often stupidly) on their own, they attract a whole damn ecosystem trying to take their money, thus in some form are robbed, scammed (from plain frauds to being pressured to buy gilded crap [https://medium.com/incerto/only-the-rich-are-poisoned-the-preference-of-others-c35ddf65cf68]), and have to spend on protection from some of those. Either way, money flow out.
    It’s a problem if they make other pay for said additional protection, but that’s back to bribery and throwing weight around too much.
    ‣ Price gradients (high city/low city or capitol/province): can be a problem, but it becomes a major problem only when either it moves (and it doesn’t move randomly) or others are forced to move against it.

    • In most of the places where wealth inequality seriously distorts economies (e.g., housing prices) there seem to be other factors, such as rent control or regulatory barriers to building housing stock. Of course, such constraints tend to benefit folks selling homes.

      Funny how that works, especially in places like San Francisco, New York and Boston.

      • Or, enough people are moving from a place with a distorted market that their “unearned” money now helps distort the market in the new location, too. (E.g., housing market and the California exfiltration.)

  35. INEQUALITY matters because it is inexhaustible. Suppose you were involved in a worthy cause such as feeding the hungry. What would happen to you if you succeeded? You might have to start doing ordinary things for your moral egoboo.

    • It’s the difference between those who enjoy helping people, and those who enjoy people not needing to be helped. Interestingly, there’s a similar divide of those on the other end of the stick.

      • *feels a little sick*

        I really don’t know how folks can enjoy helping folks who CAN get better, but don’t.

        • Inexhaustible moral egoboo. Also, you can frequently control them.

          • But…it’s EMBARASSING to need to give folks help! Other than minor stuff, it’s INSULTING!

            • Yep. To you. To me. To many people here, I suspect. However, to them, they feel that they are paving their way into their utopian heaven, and that if those people stop needing their help, that they won’t have any way to show how morally superior they are.

            • Have you never heard of Munchausen syndrome by proxy?

              Wiki:

              In Munchausen syndrome by proxy, to gain the attention of medical providers and others, an adult caregiver makes a child or elderly person appear mentally or physically ill or impaired by either fabricating symptoms or actually causing harm to the dependent. To perpetuate the medical relationship, the caregiver systematically misrepresents symptoms, fabricates signs, manipulates laboratory tests, or even purposely harms the dependent(e.g. by poisoning, suffocation, infection, physical injury). Studies have shown a mortality rate of between 6% and 10% of MSbP victims, making it perhaps the most lethal form of abuse.
              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Munchausen_syndrome_by_proxy#Signs_and_symptoms

              Progressive policies are MSbP diffused over a broadly defined populace. That is why they throw tantrums when anybody challenges their stereotypes by refusing to support their delusions or (worse yet) declining to conform to their stereotypical beneficiary.

        • There’s a parasitical relationship.

  36. Anybody know who this WMMw?GR might be, or if ze knows anything about SF?

    The Puffington Host Now Doing Bad Science Fiction
    By Sarah Hoyt
    Look, we live in strange times. It seems that every time I turn around I hear of another science fiction magazine being in trouble, and yet, wouldn’t you know it, the Puffington Host has decided to publish some and picked Barbra Streisand to write it.

    It’s not very good, of course. No one really expects this “celebrity written fiction” to be wonderful. Normally the done thing is to pair the “name in another field” and an experienced writer, like what is happening with Clinton and Patterson. But Barbra has decided to go it on her on and the result…. Well, it’s funny. We just don’t think it’s entirely intentionally funny. Also, we won’t lie some of the funny had us crying a little, because, well… you know…

    Props for her beginning, which establishes clearly that we are in a parallel world with the following:

    [END EXCERPT]

    • I think I’ll write a horror story.

      “President Hillary Clinton.”

      Alright, I’m done.

    • “Yeah, we’re all pretty glad that women leaders don’t have to endure Bill Clinton as the “first lad” or his reptilian wife who protected him through all his malfeasance. I’ll drink to that. Where is the champagne, again?”

      Champagne? I suppose. But if you have yet to open that bottle of scotch (LibertyCon…)… this is worth breaking the seal.

    • And in other circumstances I might say that Sarah was vicious. But in this case? The [CENSORED] asked for the trouncing and deserves all of it and then some. I admire Sarah’s great restraint in comments on and to this dolt.

  37. I have a suspicion that the worst kind of poverty in the US is not material poverty. It is social, emotional, and spiritual poverty. It appears to me that a growing number of people lack families, teachers, neighbors, or friends who know how to help them in times of difficulty or even care to try.

    • In support of this:
      Those horrible genetic test ads that have folks’ entire identity built off of what they feel like their “real” ancestry is.

      Secondary support, I had a really uncomfortable conversation with someone about “what” my kids are… they’re Irish, from me, and Italian, from my husband, but…both of those are the cultural markers, not genetic. I also have English, and Indian, and a LOT of Scottish, and some possible WTF not sure; my husband… Ok, FFS, his mom’s half Cajun. Seriously. Zomga. Just TRY making that simple. And the other half was basically the same as my family. Although his dad is pure Italian…ish….

      • Thanks to my genetic test, I can now claim to be part of an Officially Oppressed Minority!

      • My son is “mixed”. Once, when he was still small enough to be in a stroller, a woman stopped my wife to ooh and ahh over him. She asked my wife, “Is his father Mexican?” When that was denied, she pressed forward with, “Are you sure?” *facepalm*

        • And this is why I’m thinking about a GoFundMe to “Bring back the saber-tooth! Because the Yellowstone bears can’t keep up!”

  38. I expect many of us read Power Line, and many read their weekly guest post from the Ammo Grrrll, but this portion of last weeks’ entry seems particularly applicable to today’s discussion:

    THOUGHTS FROM THE AMMO LINE
    [SNIP]
    Veering off temporarily in an entirely different direction before coming round again, it was my privilege to get to know a family of legal Jewish immigrants from The Ukraine. The young man and wife were each about as big around as my thumb due to actual starvation in the Workers’ Paradise from whence they had fled.

    The mother of the woman was a vegetarian, as she had given any small scraps of meat they were able to procure to her daughter and her husband for the protein. When the young woman, let’s call her Nadia, shopped an American supermarket for the first time, she got dizzy and nauseated at the ludicrous profusion of food. She had to use her hands for blinders around her eyes and run to the produce section where she found a cabbage and three potatoes, familiar food, and proceeded to the three-minute checkout line.

    They were all very intelligent (“cognitively privileged”), trained in I.T., including the mother. They all got jobs and eventually, after a baby arrived, they bought a small house. They told us that they pretended still to be renting, because they could not tell even their closest Ukrainian friends they owned the house. The Soviet system was built not just on terror, torture, and routine Lena Dunham-style spies, eavesdroppers, and informants, but on massive envy.

    Nadia said that in America, people do not hate the rich because — until recently — everyone thought he had a shot to one day be, if not rich, at least comfortable middle class. But in the FSU, they were taught to hate anyone doing even a little better. She told us a Russian joke she said was representative of the Soviet thinking: a man was told by a genie that he could have anything he wanted, but whatever he got, his neighbor would get double. After thinking for a minute, the man said, “Just blind me in one eye.”

    [END EXCERPT]

    Pushing the myth of unfair inequality is battle space preparation.

    • Aye, I have no desire to “eat the rich” when it would be far more profitable to me, in almost any sense of the term, to join them.

    • Whereas, in response to the Genie, I would be saying, “Hell yeah! I’ll take $10 Billion of that!”, and then walk over to my neighbor and congratulate him on his good fortune.

      • Or invent something that will have him giving you half of his newfound fortune. 😉

      • Yeah, I never got those jokes.

        I mean, I understood the idea was that the guy was dumb…but it was literally harming yourself to harm others, lest they get something awesome.

        I don’t have a worst enemy, so let’s put in “person you like the least”– I’d still wish them a trillion dollars.

        …and then I’d feel guilty about the taxes I just stuck them with….

    • She told us a Russian joke she said was representative of the Soviet thinking: a man was told by a genie that he could have anything he wanted, but whatever he got, his neighbor would get double. After thinking for a minute, the man said, “Just blind me in one eye.”

      Note that when Robert Sheckley adapted that joke for an American audience, he had to change “neighbor” to “worst enemy”.

      • And the “killer” wish (in some versions, “beat me halfway to death”) was a loving, adoring wife whose sexual appetite was “just as much as a man could satisfy.”

        I sometimes think I am the last person who read Sheckley, and am always relieved to find out otherwise.

  39. Most of those demanding ‘equality’ actually do not want any such thing…

    Consider, for example: Many people in “progressive” leadership positions are graduates of the Harvard Law School. Do you think these people want to see a society in which the career, status, and income prospects for an HLS grad are no better than those for a graduate of a lesser-known, lower-status (but still very good) law school? C’mon.

    Quite a few “progressive” leaders are members of prominent families. Do you think Teddy Kennedy would have liked to see an environment in which he and certain other members of his family would have had to answer for their actions in the criminal courts in the same way that ordinary individuals would, without benefit from connections, media influence, and expensive lawyers?

    The prevalence of “progressivism” among tenured professors is quite high. How many of these professors would be eager to agree to employment conditions in which their job security and employee benefits were no better than those enjoyed by average Americans? How many of them would take a salary cut in order to provide higher incomes for the poorly-paid adjunct professors at their universities? How many would like to see PhD requirements eliminated so that a wider pool of talented and knowledgeable individuals can participate in university teaching?

    There are a lot of “progressives” among the graduates of Ivy League universities. How many of them would be in favor of legally eliminating alumni preferences and the influence of “contributions” and have their children considered for admission–or not–on the same basis as everyone else’s kids? Yet an alumni preference is an intergenerational asset in the same way that a small businessman’s store or factory is.

    The reality is that “progressivism” is not in any way about equality, it is rather about shifting the distribution of power and wealth in a way that benefits those with certain kinds of educational credentials and certain kinds of connections. And remember, power and connections are always transmutable into wealth.

    from my post Jousting with a Phantom

    http://chicagoboyz.net/archives/55613.html

    • The only collectivism the progressives fail to embrace is patriotism, the collective pride in the nation.

    • Yet an alumni preference is an intergenerational asset in the same way that a small businessman’s store or factory is.
      Huh, there’s an interesting thought. Maybe that alumni preference should be taxed like other, more tangible assets, when a person dies? Calculate the lifetime earning difference to another college, then tax it at… 50% isn’t it?

      How swift would be the outcry among the intelligentsia against a “death tax” then?

  40. “However, the base level, the safety, cleanliness, food and comfort of the poor in America is higher than the poor in just about everywhere else.”

    A prominent Indo-American conservative pundit (Ramesh Ponnoru IIRC) had an Indian friend who was working very hard to immigrate to the US. He told Ponnoru “I want to live in a country where the poor people are fat.”

    As to inequality not making revolutions: you have forgotten that in many countries, inequality was baked into law and custom. Not only aristocratic privilege, but dealer-wins-winner-deals economics, where an oligarchy has things rigged so that insiders always get big profits, and are effectively exempt from the law. There have been societies where the owners rigged the labor market, using law and goons to hold down wages or enforce debt peonage. Sometimes there are brutal racial or religious barriers. In 1910, a Jew in Russia or a black in Alabama didn’t have much opportunity.

    Some of the unfairness can be subtle. One of the great wealth creators for the American middle class has been home ownership. This expanded after WW II with VA loans for veterans. But black veterans were excluded (AIUI).

    Even so, America in general doesn’t have these conditions. But elsewhere, there’s been a lot of resentment against titled and propertied elites who assumed their position entitled them to be and stay on top. And that makes revolutions.

  41. > the club you could join that bought food from
    > restaurant supply stores and sold it to you at cost.

    Searching “food club” didn’t turn up any likely results. Some poking around indicates that “food buying co-op” might do the trick.

    • this was through our then church. We didn’t want to join a charity thing because Dan was unemployed, but hell we had savings, and I was sort of working.
      And then we heard this announcement and were told that they WANTED people to join, because the bigger the quantity the cheaper the food.
      I should add that we could live WELL on $120 a month of food WITH TWO TEEN BOYS.
      They were in the phase we now joke about their having portals in their stomachs…

    • If you are in north-west Texas, “Food King” seems to be the place–price they paid is on the wall, and it’s a 10% charge on top at checkout.

      You can get some really awesome deals, but you need to KNOW what you’re shopping for.

  42. Good post. I could write an essay in response, but I just don’t feel like it. Inequality is a monster of a subject. Great job in tackling it.