Business From The Wrong End


There is a lot of talk about evil corporations.  But enough about google.

On the other hand, maybe not, because google is part and parcel of what is going on.  Its pattern is disturbingly the pattern of how wheels are coming off American businesses.  And the failure mode is more and more the failure mode I’ve been observing for my own industry, or at least my own industry as it was.

First a clarification: I was born in late 62.  I never considered myself a boomer.  And before you scream that boomers go to 64, let me explain: I swear to you they didn’t use to.  My brother, born in early 54 was considered one of the youngest boomers.  And if you look at the ethos of the generation and what formed it, and how its public image was created and also when they came of age, you’ll understand that makes a ton more sense.

The boomers were the baby boom after WWII. By the time I hit school, the classrooms were half empty, the trailers that they’d added the decade before were being used for craft classes or gym or something that required tons of space.

It would take a long time to come home if you were still being born in 62. (And I’d been due in 63.)

This is important simply because I want to make it clear when I came of age it wasn’t with the boomer ethos of “each generation is going to be bigger than the last and we’re going to remake the world in our image.”  That expectation is still obvious in books of the fifties and sixties, as well as the attached Malthusian panic.

The boomers, like now the millenials, are a much maligned generation.  The public image is almost not at all that of the people in the generation I actually know, with a very few exceptions.

The people the media chose to highlight were the ones they wanted the boomers to be, not who they were.

But something about the boomers is true — ironically the reason that caused them to hate my generation before they decided to aggregate us, because it gave them more power to still be considered young and marketable-to — and that is that they were raised in the expectation they would make the world a better place, and that they could because of sheer numbers, and because they’d been brought up to be better than their parents.

Look, I’ve never bought into the “greatest generation” stuff.  I saw it as a Jungian appeasement of the boomers towards their aging fathers whom they’d “sacrificed” in more ways than one.  I’m at heart — or at back brain — very Roman.  To explain why would take more uncomfortable biographical revelations than I have time for, including “because that’s what I was brought up to be.”

I get this dance very well.  First comes the sacrifice, then the deification.

Did the World War II generation rise to the challenge?  Yes, they did.  But in a way they’d been brought up for it: a generation grown to continue Europe’s long war, because the previous generation had been eaten in the fields of WWII.

And can anyone blame the veterans, coming back from yet another European abattoir for wanting to put an end to the cycle?

Obviously something had gone wrong in Western civilization and it needed to be stopped.  The next generation were going to be a brand new beginning.  They were going to make it all better.

Did I mention the serpent in the garden? You can’t make the garden without the serpent.

A lot of the crazy of the sixties, and the unmaking of society was what the boomers were explicitly raised to do.  A lot of the poison in our cultural waters was the rebellion of the veterans of WWII.  An understandable rebellion, but one that threw the baby out with the bath water nonetheless.

However, even the boomers who weren’t raised on utopian ideals, who weren’t told the world was theirs to remake, even the ones who didn’t protest (or fought in) the war, even the ones who were and are decent human beings were raised with the idea that it was theirs to change Western Civ to be more… humane.  Or at least not to self-destruct in battlefields.

This created an ur-programming, a back brain thing.  Even responsible boomers who cut their hair, got jobs and raised families had the idea that they were supposed to transform everything.

But Sarah, you say, you have that too.  How else are you supposed to fight in the trenches of the culture war?

Waggles hand.  In a way.  Maybe.  But it’s more that I’m at the forefront of admitting that we went very wrong somewhere, that utopia doesn’t exist, and that it’s time to go back to a more realistic approach to society.

That kind of looks like remaking the world if you squint really hard.  In fact it is the thing that got my brother’s generation to hate mine when we were young.  We were as reviled as millenials are now but for different reasons: we weren’t idealistic. We didn’t want to make things fairer.  We were materialistic. We just wanted to make money.

It wasn’t precisely true.  But coming to adulthood in the late seventies and early eighties, when Europe and the US had run off their legs economically, and with leftist governments restricting growth so that there were no jobs and houses were unaffordable, we were forced to be more realistic.  We took jobs, any jobs.  And we worked our asses off.  And yes, we aimed to climb.  And we put up with all sorts of unreasonable demands (which might not have helped the corporations stay connected to reality.)

So, back to the corporations.

There is a lot of talk about how corporations are evil.  There has always been, as far as I’ve been alive.

It’s a little stupid and ignores the fact that corporations are people.  (Yes, like soylent green.) Most corporations are quite small.  Yeh family publishing business is a corporation, because it makes everything easier, including having a single publisher, and eventually inheritance of copyrights.

But the view of business as inimical, and the military as inimical was imbibed by the boomers with mother’s milk.  To an extent business and the military (rather than ideologies divorced from the real world, facilitated by a society rich enough to be out of touch) were blamed for the European long war.

So when they finally joined business, it was viewed as a sell out, and it was almost immediately followed by a determination to change it from the within.

Almost all the hyper-politically-correct and, yes, often evil mega corps now had their origin with idealistic kids founding them or changing them to be more caring.

The problem is that business and social justice don’t mesh.  Business wasn’t to blame for WWII.  Business was just business.  The wars weren’t a ploy of arms manufacturers.  That’s not how this works.  That’s not how any of this works.

It was easy after WWII to look around and thing “who got rich” and then blame the whole thing on the armaments industry.

But the war was the result of too much technological change too fast.  It’s possible that it can’t happen without causing social convulsion and war.  (And that’s what makes me shudder for where we are now.) The two always happen together.

And armaments manufacturers got rich because the weapons were needed.

There is no great conspiracy of business to cause war (unless it’s in the sense that wealth causes crazy ideologies, which cause war.)

The people who went into business, built it or took over went in with the exactly upside down idea.

“We’re going to create a just world through business.”

That’s not what commerce is.  Commerce doesn’t have that kind of power.  Yes, I’ve read all the crap about advertising causing needs.  It’s crap.

It ignores all the new products that fail: most of them.  Regardless of advertisement, you can’t make the dogs want the food.

It was great for assuaging the conscience pangs of the people who pushed for war in service of their crazy ideologies and their wish for power: we’re the good guys.  It is business and the greed for money that creates war.  Business can create any need it wants, let’s create a wonderful world.

Again, that’s not how it works.  That’s not how any of this works.

To coin a phrase, business is the term for what we do together (eh.)  It is a way to weld individuals into working for a mutual or collective purpose, that doesn’t involve the coercion of every one, or enslavement of every one.

Advertising is not a magical force.  You can, yes, for a moment, briefly, make a product without purpose “popular” but all you’re creating is a bubble.  And the next bubble will be harder, and the next harder.

Mostly advertising works to show people things they can use or which will improve their lives.  As an early tech adopter, I can tell you we don’t jump on every new trend, just on the ones we have a good expectation will help us.

Which brings us again back to corporations.

Doing good by doing well is how google started with “don’t be evil” and ended up partnering with Chinese totalitarians and claiming it will be YUGE.  (It won’t, but that’s what we’re going into next.)  AND what led them to create a crazy authoritarian company in which if you’re the wrong political color you’ll be destroyed.

Because they think they serve something bigger than SIMPLY serving people by making money.

And we see this everywhere else.

Recently I gave up on Team Viewer which I used to connect to the home computers (three) when I travel.

It started manufacturing insanity, accusing me of using it for “commercial purposes” and demanding I pay a subscription as a company.

Now, at first I thought it was due to the number of my computers, but the first one they bricked was the one I almost never used.

It turned out that it was random.  They’d pick an account to yell at, and a random computer to brick (brick in the sense that you couldn’t connect to other computers from it using team viewer.) saying you’d used it the maximum number of hours that month.

I’m using this example, because I wasn’t alone.  It was ALL OVER the net.  Apparently someone at corporate decided this was a good move.  Perhaps they didn’t have enough subscribers.  I can well believe that.  I can also tell you as someone who found the program incredibly useful that if they’d offered something like $5 a month, subscribe, we can keep track of all your stuff better, and you’ll have access to customer service, I’d have gone for it.  I couldn’t afford corporate rates, but I could afford “individual subscription” or “Small business” rates.

Considering it was the most popular program for this purpose, I suspect they’d have done well, on small subscriptions but many of them.  And it’s the sane thing to do if you think of business as a way to transact with people who aren’t FORCED to work with you, and to make money while providing something people need.

But that’s not the ethos of business, when the people running it think they’re in charge of changing the world and that advertising can do anything and “create needs.”

So instead they treated us as a crazy ideology treats its adherents or a government treats subjects.  It made life uncomfortable and difficult and hampered the purpose we used it for, in the serene belief this would bring money flowing in.

Instead it brought us to researching alternatives and finding one that’s better than Team Viewer.  And I bet we’re not the only ones.

It’s becoming a familiar failure mode, similar to what publishing did and to an extent still does, bringing the price of ebooks very high, so we’ll go back to buying paperbacks.  (At the same time propagandizing us with “paperbacks take 100k to create, which means we’re losing money on everyone but mega bestsellers.”  If they really believe that they need to fire their accountants and their entire offices, because they’re being taken for a ride.)

That’s not how this works.  That’s not how any of this works.  Business and advertising are not tools to herd the public.  They’re tools to woo the public.

And business is not the dark force that moves the world.  That is human nature, particularly when channeled through authoritarian institutions.

Businesses that try to remake the world don’t only fail.  They take entire industries with them.  And they create misery.

Build under, build over, build around.

The remorse of the veterans of WWII is coming home to roost in the person of their aging children.

And this is going to hurt like a mother, because the crazy is not just in tech or publishing.  It’s everywhere and corrupting everything.

But life and business which is part of life must go on.

And we’re the lucky ones who see the need.  So it’s up to us to keep civilization going when the rest falls.



321 thoughts on “Business From The Wrong End

    1. Remember the .gif file format? It was the most popular picture format around.

      And then after years of use, the guy who owned the copyright for it decided to start charging. And not just corporate users. He wanted to charge *everyone* who was creating files in the .gif format.

      It got abandoned literally overnight.

        1. And what’s really silly, is that there are *two* patents on that algorithm. Indeed, the fact that software is executable mathematics, and thus easy to duplicate without even realizing it, is a major reason why a lot of software developers hate the idea of software patents.

          (For me, it gradually grew into the realization that patents in general are bad — and statistically, about the only place where they are useful is in medicine — but that’s because there’s a major government department, the FDA, that pushes the expenses of development way up (because they are afraid of making a decision that will kill and maim people, forgetting that (1) at some point, people *need* to take a risk, and (2) people are maimed and killed every day when *denied* a drug that could improve their condition, even if it should be provisionally approved, although sadly the Press rarely recognizes that this ever happens, so the FDA isn’t incentivized to avoid type (2) deaths….)

          (Sigh, that parenthetical was a lot longer than I expected it to be….)

          1. Patents are useful. They encourage people to get creative, and then market their ideas. You’re more likely to go through the trouble of doing that sort of thing if you’re guaranteed to get a pay-off for at least a little while, and don’t have to worry about someone else coming along and copying your idea without giving you any credit. But there’s a lot of abuse out of both them, and copyrights. For instance, Amazon’s successful patenting of “one click purchasing” was an absurd patent, imo, and never should have been granted.

  1. Don’t try to remake the world. Just produce the product or service people want, at the price they’re willing to pay for it, at an acceptable to them level of quality, on time, and where they want it.

    1. “My goal is to improve the world by providing people something they value enough to give up the fruits of their own labor in exchange for it.”

      It means the same thing as “make money,” but it sounds better for the busybodies, and puts things in perspective when your own inner voice is nagging you and reminding you about all those “change the world” speeches that you kept hearing at graduations.

    2. I hear strong echoes of the rants H. L. Mencken used to write about the Gospel of Service, which was mucking up actuall customer service in his day. Look ‘em up (a lot of my Mencken is unavailable to me because of a flooring project that’s now three years gone past. Yes, I’ve been busy with younger emergencies.).

    3. In other words, look and your abilities, and at other people’s needs, and fulfill their needs? And do so on the condition that you look their abilities, and your needs, and have them give to you, according to their abilities?

      What kind of Communist monster are you?!?

      (And *this* is why Marxism fails. For all the “From each, to each” and “workers unite!” prattle he made, he never noticed that *real* Communism already existed right under his nose!)

  2. “Life is never a little padded playground. If you want to play with the big boys and at the big level, you’re going to get bruised. The trick to life is not to never be knocked down – it’s to have the resources to get up and fight again. Read the biography of any man who accomplished anything, from the founding fathers to oh, Heinlein, and you’ll see their eventual success was preceded by a series of often stunning failures.”

    -Sarah Hoyt, March 5, 2014, “How Much Sharper Than A Serpent’s Tooth”,, 9/27/2018.

    Good advice for kids doing contact sports, and just about anything else.

      1. Why, thank you. 2nd nicest compliment I’ve had all day. Best one was when my wife…on second thought, you don’t need to know that. 😉
        Any day I get anyone out of a slump is a good day.

    1. Was thinking about that last night while watching the Kavanaugh news and thinking how it applied. If Judge Brett survives this and gets nominated, I expect some very good things from him. Keeping my fingers crossed.

      1. And the stupid party once again folds like a wet noodle. Think there won’t be another blockbuster witness that finishes being coached before the fibbies finish their paperwork.

  3. two points:

    Sure paperbacks take 100k to create- when your Editor and editorial assistant and assistant to the editor and administrative assistant and edtior’s assistant and vice president of diversity all have to make NYC salaries, it does.


    I’m still worried the EU ‘experiment is going to end… to quote Kosh Naranek… “In fire.”

      1. I’mmflat amazed it has lasted as long as it has. When it was first in the news, my gut reaction was to wonder whether proof sets of Euros would be highly collectable or the next Confederate Currency, available as joke gifts in most museums.

        And people asked me “Why?”

        I told them, I will believe a stable union of European States that includes both France and Germany when they have survived their Civil War, and not sooner.”

        And I was asked “Do you really think the French haven’t forgiven the Germans for WWII?”

        WWII, hell. The French haven’t forgiven the Germans for siding with Wellington against Napoleon. Should they ever get past that, they have the Franco-Prussian War and WWI to work on forgiving before they’ll get to WWII.

        1. And let’s be blunt – one of the big reasons why Eastern Europe is part of the EU is because Russia is Eastern Europe’s eastern neighbor. And even with that inducement, Eastern Europe still appears to be thinking long and hard about whether or not they want to stay in.

          1. a lot of eastern europe doesn’t fully buy into the EU, and would like more American centric ties . . . well, when our gov’t doesn’t outright #^(% them to curry favor with those damned Russians

                1. I’m not sure what it would take for the Kurds to successfully create a Greater Kurdistan nation. Obviously the lands should be those where the Kurds are the ethnic majority, or at least the ethnic plurality. But making a nation of them semi-peacefully out of Turkey, Syria, Iraq, (and some of Iran iirc) would require outside intervention.

        2. The French haven’t forgiven the Germans for siding with Wellington against Napoleon. Should they ever get past that, they have the Franco-Prussian War and WWI to work on forgiving before they’ll get to WWII.


          My history is so bad that I can’t even name most of those fights, but even I know that Europe is basically a huge long bunch of fights…and France use to be a really big player. And Germany use to be a bunch of players.

          1. Franco-Prussian War: France attacks the Germanies, and loses, badly, with the Germans laying seige to Paris. 1870-1871. Bit of a dress rehersal for WWI. Major cause of the unification of Germany.

            Major reason that French commanders and politicians were adamantly unwilling to allow retreat along the trench lines in WWI, even with an aim to envelop attacking German troops, thus a big factor in the miserable stalemate that developed.

            What can I say; both my folks were history teachers.

            Worth learning about because if you have a grounding in how and why WWI was so goddamned awful, you can better understand whay Hitler was tolerated for so long. Also goes a way to explaining why De Gaul was such a,prick.

          2. Now that I’m thinking about it, one of the things that amazes me about France is that, in the midst of a Civil War, deep in debt, and Europe looking and France and thinking “This is *great*! How are we going to carve up France?” the French decide that it’s about time to declare war — and they almost conquer Europe in the process.

            While we have a tendency to mock France for their seeming willfulness to surrender at the drop of a hat…something tells me that if France ever gets infected with the “Conquer-the-world” bug again, they are going to be a force to be reckoned with.

            And, in the process, I can’t help but wonder: will the next solid and credible attempt to take over the world come from a stable, united, powerful and greedy country? Or will it come from a country in the midst of a Civil War?

            1. Usually the war comes from someone who is looking for a distraction or resources. Some sort of house of cards. It’s part of why (as well as the apparent death throes over here) China is being as aggressive as it has. Trying to broaden an economy that teeters on a pinhead.

              1. And it should be noted that Trump is suddenly causing a lot of problems for that economy just as Winnie the Pooh… er, Xi Jinping puts himself into a position from which he can’t afford to show weakness.

                    1. You put eons more trust in the rollover party than I ever could. Already have 52 votes in senate and just takes +1 in house to start. Just need 15 to be swayed by whatever perjury or anonymous allegations will flood out.

            2. You’re referring to the Revolution era? IIRC, at least one of the European nations involved in the march on Paris didn’t really want to be there.

              And then the French created conscription (which means that you can field much larger armies), the column formation (which was the only way to get all of the untrained conscripts into a useable formation, and also happened to be a really great way to smash through a traditional firing line), and, of course, Napoleon.

              The French have always made good soldiers. What they seem to have a problem with is their leadership. When they get a good leader, like the guy from Corsica, then they get really scary.

        1. Could be it’s taking them longer to go to full boots because so many of them are PETA-philes and don’t want to use animals for the leather.

            1. And carving wooden shoes is too much work for them.

              “WAAAA!!! This is too hard! It’s taking too long. I cut my thumb!”

          1. That’s the university educated folk.

            Not everybody here is university educated. But the blue collars are used to being subjects so it can take them long to rebel. However when they finally decide to rebel it might not be nice.

    1. And most of those folks are only making what in the Midwest would be considered a decent wage, but nothing spectacular. I think that in Manhattan, that equates to barely getting by.

      1. I once described western Europe economically as ‘Alabama with history theme parks’.

        Later I found I was being a but unfair … to Alabama.

  4. Sarah, this is an important piece. This notion that the Boomers (the real Boomers, anything after 1954 ain’t that) were actually *raised* to be disruptive agents of change by their parents, who were disgusted and horrified by the world’s two largest wars in the span of 25 years is one I have never seen put forward before (maybe I don’t get around). Sure, in almost all cases that parental desire, if present, was subconscious, but still I think you really might be on to something here.

    I’m reflecting back on my own quintessentially American upbringing, born in ’54 to a dual-income lower-upper-middle-class family in suburban Detroit. It was a strange time, but of course when you’re a kid living through something you don’t know that.

    There was all this unrest in the world (JFK assassination, Cold War tensions, Vietnam, black unrest, the ever-looming Bomb…) and yet there was also a very strong attempt to push that aside with the New! Vision! Of! Tomorrow! Juxtapose the unrest I list here with the vision of the 1964 World’s Fair. And that World’s Fair vision wasn’t restricted to the World’s Fair, oh no. It was on the TV shows, in the cartoons, in the ads, on the radio, at the other commercial “fairs” like the Auto Show, built into the names of products, expressed in the then-current graphic arts styles, used in the classroom decorations at school, and, on top of all that, made real by the Gemini and Apollo programs. We were going to The Moon! We were going to Outer Space! The first generation in all history to do that. There was nothing we could not do!

    And maybe that’s part of why the Vietnam War was so abhorrent. That was not supposed to be us! That was not supposed to be our world! The Jetsons, the Moon, the World’s Fair, the Future, THAT was supposed to be our world! How horrible to have your chance at that ripped away by a stupid war that was doing nothing but torturing rice farmers and enriching arms manufacturers. Or so it seemed.

    And so yeah, your insight that we were *raised* to be an antidote to the first half of the 20th Century is important. It accounts for our (often misplaced and always callow) idealism, our severe reaction to the Vietnam War, and, perhaps most importantly, it accounts for something that has puzzled me my entire adult life: the failure of our parents, the so-called Greatest Generation, to rein us in, correct us, or indeed oppose our youthful shenanigans and stupidities in any meaningful way.

    Thanks for this one. At 64, I don’t get presented with all that many new ideas these days. 🙂

    1. It’s a new thought for me, too. One I’m going to have to chew over for a bit. It makes some sense, but doesn’t really apply to my folks, who could have been considered Liberals only if you used the term in it’s 18th Century meaning. Born in 1961, I have been trailing after the Boomers, pinching the bridge of my nose, for a long time. I was disgusted when I learned that I had been swept into that ‘Generation’. My cousins, all ten years or so older, were boomers, and I was never impressed.

      1. Oh, Lord. That “pinching the bridge of my nose” is me, pretty much.
        Kate Paulk calls us (she’s more an “early xer but we’re all the same) “Generation pooper scooper.”

        1. Joe Queenan wrote an excellent book on the Boomers (he is one) called BALSAMIC DREAMS.

          One of the reasons he puts forward for why the Boomers are intolerable “We insisted that our parents acknowledge that Richard Nixon was Beelzebub while denying that Jimmy Carter was Bozo.”

        2. Hear hear. 😀 (1960, and no, we didn’t count as the “boomers” here either until towards the end of the 80’s, and I still refuse that label).

    2. You nailed it!

      Born in ’52 (in a Chevy)

      My Parents were classic “Depression Babies”… Hit their “this is what life is like” years in the middle of the depression, and then for a High School graduation present, got an “all expense paid” vacation called WWII…

      Thanks to them for their attitude “Our children should never know what we had to do”.

      That said, I’ve spent my life trying to reconcile the difference between my parents generational attitude, and that of my Grandparents.
      We (including wife here) got our most useful training/how to live day-to-day information from my Grandparents (how to can food, what is a chicken, oh eggs, really!…)

      Yes, Jetsons… of course…
      Now, where did I leave my anti-gravity device?
      This is what “The Future” IS!

      Viet Nam… Now it’s personal, let’s just skip that part.

      And now, I start learning some history… (infinite black hole)
      and somehow find that Disneyland is not the ultimate reality!

      So, yes – this is an important piece.
      Yugely so!

      Is there any way we old farts can salvage our children?

      (hey, be nice to a non-author on a writer website)

      1. > Yes, Jetsons… of course…
        Now, where did I leave my anti-gravity device?
        This is what “The Future” IS!

        There were people watching The Jetsons who read about the Wright brothers’ flight at Kitty Hawk in the newspaper. Because there was no voice radio yet. And they were watching The Jetsons on color TV powered by a nuclear reactor on the local grid, and the TV news had been telling them about the latest manned orbital mission.

        There was a generation there who had seen 90% of the technical advancement of the human race during their own lifetimes. Anti-gravity? So what? It would just be one more “impossible” thing become commonplace.

      2. If your children are grown, I’m not sure you can salvage them. All you can do is leave the door open for them to eventually return should they be struck on the road to Damascus and realize the error of their ways. I have one child that I pray for a prodigal return story. But I fear that he will be one that I bury.

      3. ’56 here (late ’56). My folks were born during the depression, in grade school for WWII, too young for Korea, too old for Vietnam. Us kids were too young for Vietnam … me barely, but female so not a consideration.

        My folks never have had the depression or WWII need to stock food, other than meat; only because the meat was hunted & fished (or we didn’t eat meat, period). However, both sets of grandparents, most definitely; nothing got thrown out. Didn’t help that mom’s folks grew up on dirt poor Montana homesteads, & grandpa worked in the mines until he learned to be a mechanic. Spent the war keeping mine equipment working in Colorado.

  5. Oh gads, the “the 1980s ‘Me Generation’ Gordon Gekko blah blah.” *twitches* I first heard that in painful detail from a fellow grad student 10 years my junior, about how the only thing Americans did in the 1980s was make money and dump homeless veterans on the street and Reagan (or Regan, or Reagan, she spelled it differently each time) caused people to starve in the streets and the rich got richer and the elderly and poor ate pet food because they couldn’t afford free government food and so on. And then she’d inhale, or put in a semicolon, and start again. I grew up then and alas, my family completely missed the memo. And we were in the middle of the 1978-1983 Farm Crisis, too.

    I think I’m supposed to be either Gen X (“Leave us alone”) or the very last of the Boomers.

    1. We were the generation of the Carter Malaise. And yeah, we hit college and the hippies, who weren’t much older than we were, were appalled at our failure to be impressed.

      They got our kids, though.

        1. I think they may have gotten more of the kids that are slightly older than our kids. Our kids are the children of the Obama Malaise.

          1. My observation is that the children of crazy left who aren’t strong enough are crazy left. The rest? Mixed bag, but mostly they’re young. We were liberal-ish when young. We just thought beardo the weirdo was crazy.
            Life has a way of changing that.

            1. Obnoxious political purity test comment. But yeah, I was much further to the left in my younger years.

              Whedon is doing a woke Buffy reboot, which will probably suck. The failure will be the fault of the fans of the original series, for becoming alt-right neocon misogynists. 🙂

              Sure, my cohort, the one ten years younger, and the twenty and thirty years younger cohorts are not that visibly sound politically. Thirty years younger hardly has any real politics to speak of. We will mature, they will mature. No one knows what that will mean.

                  1. Yes. One for the ages. (If maybe for a small enough value of “age”.) I liked that it didn’t take itself too seriously.


          Don’t be afraid of the dark.

          Be afraid of what hunts in the dark.

            1. [flips down infrared visor and flicks off safety]

              “What is ‘dark’? And what may I splatter for you today?”

      1. Yeah, but the generation following is remarkably NOT impressed by the SJWs. My granddaughter perplexes her mother by being stolidly pro-life. And, highly suspicious of much of the blah-blah of the Progressives.

      2. I started paying atention to Politics just in time for Carter. My reaction; ‘You idiots were running against the man who pardoned Nixon, and this is the BEST you can do?’

        God, Reagan was a breath of fresh air. Several beaths.

        1. Jimmeah makes a sort of sense in the context of the 1976 Democrat primaries.
          For one, he was a Southerner, and looked pretty clear that he’d not be one of those McGovernite hippie kooks, all the while it was clear he wasn’t a Wallace type segregationist, either.

          1. He was genuinely earnest. I suppose no politician can be *nice* and manage to be governor or hit national office, but genuinely earnest didn’t make him *right*. It did make him appealing. And he worked hard, too. And he was a farmer.

    2. While the starting and ending years are hazy because so many different people have used so many slightly different definitions, if you were born after the moon landing and before Reagan took office, you’re definitely in Gen X. Whether there is any significance to these generation labels, applied to groups born during roughly twenty year intervals, is an entirely different question.

      1. Last I heard, for those of us born around 1980 or so, we’re getting labeled Gen Y and/or “The Forgotten Generation”.

        Eh, whatever. I hate labels.

          1. Meanwhile I’m annoyed that the media keeps stealing my cool generation name to mean “idiot kids we’re focusing on so that our bosses don’t feel so lame.”

            I was the first generation to graduate in the new Millennium! Dang right I’m a Millennial!

          2. It won’t make you feel any better about being lumped in with the millenials, but just being a member of a group doesn’t take away your individuality. Statistically, your cohort might be likely to have certain characteristics, but those statistics are meaningless at describing who you actually are.

    3. My folks moved out to Iowa in the ‘80’s (Father was heading up a new History of Science program at Iowa State in Ames). The Iowa reaction to ‘The Farm Crisis’ was a little different. The consensus was that the farms that were going bankrupt were the ones where the current generation weren’t all that interested in farming, and had taken up accumulating expensive toys like big harvesters they could barely use.

      Don’t know how much truth there was in that, but I find it interesting that in his social history of Iowa (HAWKEYES) Phil Stong said something very similar about the ‘Farm Crisis’ of his own generation…although what distracted the bored farmers that time was poorly secured land speculation.

      1. Nebraska had just added a “death tax” onto all property, not just cash assets, and a number of farms had to be sold by the heirs when they couldn’t get ag-loans to pay off the tax after someone died. It all got rolled into “farm crisis.”

        1. but, but, I’ve been told death taxes didn’t affect farms, that’s just a red herring! (I didn’t bother even responding to that silly statement, just to someone else talking about said evilness of taxing someone for being dead)

          1. We’re seeing smaller ranches forced into bigger ones due to the Oregon death tax. The drought conditions made it worse. (I’ll not get into the byzantine water rights system in our state, except to note that the fish in the Klamath Basin drainage have as much water as they want. Ranchers, not so much…)

            1. Two thirds of the ‘climate ‘ problems in this country could be solved by executing the board of the Sierra Club amd undoing all the policies they’ve backed.

              1. The water calls (the tribes now have the most senior water rights, and they can legally do this) seem to be a variation/continuation of the Modoc Indian wars. Large wells (Irrigation, OIT’s campus well) had to be shut down or relocated further away from the river/lake. Fatal for a lot of ranches along our river, and one suspects the water calls will stop when the ranches are in the “right” hands. OTOH, there’s now a regional irrigation restriction due to drought. We’ve been getting really stable weather patterns, but stable now includes “dry”.

                $SPOUSE’s relatives include one on a task force relating to beetle-killed trees. Their recommendation was to restore responsible logging (this is in both the US and Canada), but achieving that would require your suggestion be implemented.

                1. I can recall articles in magazines like REASON, going back to the 1980’s, asserting that the ‘no logging’ policies pushed by the Greens would cause the forests to sicken and encourage out of control fires. Naturally the Greens haven’t listened.

                  We should drop them into the resulting fires, to be turned into Long Pig.

      2. Met some young men from farm country in boot camp in 1973. One of them said pretty much the same thing. Once a year the combines roll through, and most farmers rent their services. His father’s farm kept growing. Because during boom years his father put boom money aside while neighbors bought brand new equipment – including their very own used once a year combines- on easy credit terms. During bust years when nearby farmers went bankrupt from not being able to make easy credit payments he bought fairly new used equipment at auction, along with prime parcels of land. Farming is a business. And needs to be run with business discipline.

        1. Of course, some years the combines didn’t show up.

          And some years they showed up when they couldn’t actually do the work– or after you needed them.

          A related problem is someone buying a nice big harvester and then everybody “borrowing” it, with serious little red hen issues.

    4. In the ’80s, Gen X was labeled the generation that didn’t have a great trial, like the Vietnam War, that it had to endure.

        1. On the positive side, the boomers had some really really good music.
          Which would you prefer- Steely Dan or New Kids on the Block?

    5. Well, there was an influential Regan in the Reagan White House. Donald Regan, Sec. of the Treasury and then White House Chief of staff. He was the force behind Reaganomics, so that grad student might not have been *quite* as confused as you thought – merely wrong.

    6. “And then she’d inhale, or put in a semicolon, and start again.”

      You owe me a keyboard!!! 🙂

      I thought I was the only one that noticed that behavior..

  6. Theodore Sturgeon’s “The Man Who Learned Loving” is all about the person who wants to make a better world getting a haircut and putting on a suit as part of doing so. It’s actually a pretty good story on its own premise.

  7. Riffing off the idea of “business is evil unless we change the world,” I wonder if you could consider it a badly warped version of the idea of work as a vocation in the spiritual sense. One of the ideas generally attributed to John Calvin but found elsewhere is that a person’s daily employment can be a Vocation, and that working hard and prospering can be a sign of divine favor (or at least a lack-of-wrath). There was nothing wrong with working hard and prospering, so long as a person didn’t allow the love of money to take over, and one’s income and personal resources were used for good causes. Cheating one’s customers was a no-no, but you could be a baker, or a watch-maker, or carpenter, or banker, or engineer, or ditch-digger and it was an honorable calling. No need to “change the world” or “make the world a better place,” just dig the best ditch you could. MLK Jr.’s little homily about being the best street sweeper possible is a not-too-bad take on the basic idea.

    1. The funny thing is, digging a really good ditch where it really needs to be does make the world a better place. It’s kind of sad that so many people seem to have forgotten that.

    2. Nevil Shute’s book, “Round the Bend” was a take on that. A Moslem aircraft mechanic who starts a movement that treats doing a good job as a form of prayer, and thus a goodness.

  8. I’d be happy if I could feel like I have my feet under me enough that when the rug is pulled from under me I can land on feet, or at least not break. Even better would be for the rug not to be pulled from under me but we live in a world of toddlers that have all the power they could want. The music will stop and if it is just blood and not atoms spilled it will be a miracle.

  9. I’m more worried about corporations who want to change how I live and think than ones that merely want to sell me stuff. This is, incidentally, the only “evil corporation” story I’d ever consider writing, because it’s such a boring, overdone cliché now.

    1. The interesting thing about the notion of using one’s company to make the world better is how much scorn the current crop of Progressive buttinskis pour on the generation of wealthy moguls who tried to do just that from a Christian POV in the years between the Civil War and WWI.

  10. Sarah …depending upon how many PCs you connect to, Splashtop’s Business “Pro” product is $99/annually (or $9/mo subscription), and allows you to connect to 10 PCs. ST’s feature set is as rich as TV’s (and rather easier to use IMHO …and yeah, I use both products daily, and have been for years). Cost effective. Highly recommend.

    Just FYI.

  11. bringing the price of ebooks very high, so we’ll go back to buying paperbacks

    This one is a particular peeve of mine. There is an author out there whom I read ONE book (ebook) from, and LOVED it. I got it as part of a collection or something, I definitely didn’t buy it specifically. So, having been “hooked”, I frantically searched for the rest of the series on Amazon. I found them, and a number of other books by the same author. I’m one of those people that I’m sure authors LOVE, because I’ve been known to binge-read an author’s entire catalog. Unfortunately, published (exclusively, as far as I could tell) by one of those publishers and even his oldest stuff, the ebook cost more than I would usually want to pay for a hardback. Dangit… I almost gave in and bought the rest of that one series anyway so I could finish the story, but no. I refuse to buy ebooks that cost that much.

    1. Well, to be honest, I hate the fact that Larry Correia is so popular. I look at his Kindle books and the prices look like what I was paying for paperbacks a couple years ago. But then of course he’s, or perhaps Amazon’s, going to charge a higher price while the demand is still high. /sniff Or maybe I’m just getting spoiled by Kindle Unlimited.

      1. My understanding is that Baen had no choice but to raise ebook prices to Amazon standards in order to have their books available on that platform. I remember trying to buy a Weber book for my Nook and none existed because you had to buy them directly from Baen at the time. It was extremely inconvenient. Cheaper, but it really couldn’t last.

        And they’re still way cheaper than some of the other publishers who set the prices for new releases to above hard cover prices.

        Though at no point whatsoever is Larry involved in any of those decisions.

          1. It has to do with the price fixing cartel the Big Five have set up. DoJ dinged them and Apple for it, but the settlement still lets their attempt to dictate things have some weight. Baen is entangled in the big five by a mess of contracts.

              1. Baen said at the time, or implied, that it was Amazon. That it had something to do with the agreement where the big five forced Amazon to sell their stuff at a higher price than Amazon wanted is the inference I made at the time.

                  1. Big five got their hands slapped, alongside Apple. As part of the settlement from that, the Judge enforced a new deal between the big five and Amazon. That one was what I understood to be cause of Amazon being required to require higher prices of Baen. Many years ago, so that particular one may no longer be in force.

                    Presuming my memory is correct, my analysis is correct, Baen perceived things correctly, Baen told the truth, and that it wouldn’t have, due to inflation, since made sense to keep the new prices.

                    From my perspective, eighteen a monthly isn’t that much worse than fifteen. The change so that we could no longer purchase back issues of monthlies definitely makes sense with Amazon’s not wanting to be undercut on ebook prices.

              2. iirc it was Amazon and the whole “cartel” thing to set prices. I forget where I read on it but I remember it being explained as Amazon being used to try to force Baen in line with the rest of the Pubcorps, and Baen saying “Fine, we’ll just pay the author more and explain it to our customers.”

          2. It doesn’t. But it’s possible Baen believes it’s true. I found they’ve had a little difficulty understanding Amazon. That’s why they were out of ebooks at Amazon so long.

      2. I’m a shameless Larry Correia fan-boy, so if paying a little more for his books means he writes more books, then I’m not even going to complain. Although, if his ebooks started clocking at hardback prices, I would have to figure out if there is a methadone equivalent for awesome books… and maybe something for depression…


        Um… sorry… (cough)

        1. How many buy earcs?

          And ya. I finished up the final of the sinners trilogy and mh files and had to get more. So the target rich environment earc ended up on phone quickly.

          1. So far, I’ve managed to resist buying earc. BARELY. Not sure why it started, but now it’s become a “thing” with me. Probably just me trying to prove to myself that I’m not such a horrible junkie, and I could TOTALLY quit anytime… really I could…. No, really…

            1. Stop It. Chant with me “I will not buy the EARC. I will NOT buy the EARC. No, I will not buy the EARC. Well … maybe?”

              Have not succumbed yet. If only the realization of Cost ($$$) & I still have to wait until the next one anyway … “I could TOTALLY quit anytime… really I could…. No, really…” Actually, I’m so addicted I plan on haunting to read any uncompleted series I’m reading should the worse occur.

  12. I can see WWII vets coming back with a well-founded jaded and skeptical view of the military – the phrases and acronyms akin to FUBAR come out of the military experience for a reason.

    Some came back determined to apply the good parts of common effort and aligned objectives to the business world (see IBM and Ross Perot’s companies), while others applied their jaded view of any large organized people-driven activity to the world of business, aligning with organized labor for their security.

    Both choices have been seen to be questionable, simply empowering those towards the top. The balancing effect of management-labor tension has always been more mythology than fact, but there was some effect. But eth main restraint on business was always competitive pressure – going off the deep end would let a company be out-competed by competitors.

    All of those post-WWII businesses seemed to be set up more along the lines of a mantra of “business is how we make a living”. But something shifted generationally – the businesses started by boomers (real boomers – I’m a 1962 kid too, so I was SIX YEARS OLD during “the summer of love”; those older-kid hippy freaks were never my generation, no matter how well they cleaned up and started wearing black turtlenecks as business attire) seemed to want to be “this business will not only make me rich, it will end up providing magical unicorns in every garage!” efforts.

    Which kind of gives a hint as to how a company founded with the explicit internal motto “Don’t be Evil” ends up cooperating with the largest totalitarian dictatorship (in population, and likely in gross domestic product) ever to exist on this planet: When it’s “unicorns in every garage” on the line, the ends justify any means.

    And as the Huns well understand, when the ends justify any means, mass graves are on the horizon.

    When companies are small and competitive, competitive pressure helps restrain the worst of the crazy-town. But when companies are allowed to accrete to monopolistic scales, competitive restraint goes out the window.

    This is an argument for trust-busting as a valid government enterprise.

      1. My father (USAAF, drafted late in the war) liked to recite a few. Add JANFU (Joint Army Navy FU) to the list.

        I’m remembering “foo” and “bar” as tags for things, as noted in the Hacker’s Dictionary, circa 1985.

    1. “Which kind of gives a hint as to how a company founded with the explicit internal motto “Don’t be Evil” ends up cooperating with the largest totalitarian dictatorship (in population, and likely in gross domestic product) ever to exist on this planet: When it’s “unicorns in every garage” on the line, the ends justify any means.”

      Thomas Sowell’s A CONFLICT OF VISIONS is built around this very idea. There are two kinds of people in the world: the ones who think we can *fix* all this, and the ones who don’t. And the difference this makes in their thinking is so profound that they almost can’t talk understandably to reach other.

      1. And te bad thing about those who think we can fix everything is that they feel an evangelical call to make everybody else play the same game.

        While deriding the Victorian Christians who did substantially the same thing, with somewhat better results.

        Because a morality that has had two tousand or so years to wear the right edges off is often preferable to one so new it squeaks when it turns around.

        Hell, even Islam was better at engaging the real world before several decades of the West punishing the moderates and rewarding the nuts took effect.

        1. Not really on Islam. The Wahabists developed in the 1700s and spread rapidly, causing mischief as they went. They seem to have contributed greatly to the little mess in India in 1857-58. The book _God’s Terrorists_ by Allen has a lot of good info.

          1. We can make people better.
            But it takes both a day-to-day effort, and a multi-generations view to do so.
            Unfortunately, politicians and progressives have a constitutional fear of actually doing day-to-day work, and are incapable of looking past the next election cycle, much less 7 generations into the future.

        2. “And te bad thing about those who think we can fix everything is that they feel an evangelical call to make everybody else play the same game.”

          Of course. If they don’t make you play the same game, the world won’t be fixed. You have GOT to play!

          (Evangelical obnoxiousness is much the same, on a much more personal level–“If you can’t be persuaded, you will BURN IN HELL FOREVER! Who cares if you hate me, I have to try!” Fortunately, they also know that they can’t *force* salvation on you, so aggressive persuasion is usually as far as they go.)

          Sowell goes into this in some detail, along with several of the other logical corollaries of the assumption. “If you aren’t with me you’re evil,” for instance, is a direct implication. So is “Justice is not a process, it’s a result.” And quite a few others.

          Fascinating book.

          1. “Fortunately, they also know that they can’t *force* salvation on you, so aggressive persuasion is usually as far as they go.)”

            And this is why I have always felt that the evangelical Christians of the Victorian Century were preferable to the evangelical Progressives of the modern era; their teachings included self limiting. They didn’t always FOLLOW them, but the Progressives Just. Never. Stop.

            1. Yes, and they’re genuinely better people. Because the vast majority of those who genuinely believe the Christian doctrine of Hell (most don’t) are not exercising deeply courteous self-restraint.

              They just don’t care enough about you to make the effort. Those Victorians did.

              And by “you” I personally mean every Democrat involved in the Dr. Kavanaugh debacle. May God have mercy on me.

              1. Amen.

                I still remember hearing the reports of Jane Fonda’s conversion to (practicing) Christianity. I have no idea how sincere or lasting it was (maybe someday I’ll find oust), but I do remember the emotion I felt most.

                Shame. That of all the thoughts I’d entertained about her over the years, praying for her soul had never once occurred to me.

    2. You can’t *not* empower the people at the top of the hierarchy. That’s what hierarchies are FOR.

      If you opt out you’re “other”. If you try to change from within the people at the top change (either the person changes or gets swapped out) top optimize for the new environment.

      You can’t even smash the hierarchy–we’re hard wired for them and the very effort you put together to smash it will replace it.

      The best thing you can do is to build a system that holds everyone at every level to objective and known standards and punishes them *MORE* the further up the hierarchy they are.

    3. “when the ends justify any means, mass graves are on the horizon.”
      Kind of like what the Progressive Left has been doing the past couple of years? Makes you wonder how far they’re going to push it. Going to be a very interesting couple of months from here to the end of November.

      1. Going by what they say, they’re hoping to get to the ‘filling mass graves with deplorables’ faster than they’re seeing. It’s part of – at least in my opinion – why there’s so much desperation to keep Kavanaugh out of the Supreme Court.

      2. As far as they have to. 90% chance ends in blood. More likely than not leftists end up in power given history both in the US and abroad. That will result in higher death tolls than anyone but Mao.

      3. The sad thing is that, from a historical perspective, mass graves are ALWAYS on the horizon. It’s only since the rise of the Industrial West that they have receded at all….and the totalitarianism fans of the Left desperately want to bring them back.

    4. It probably also didn’t help that, when the men who came of age in the 1960s went to war, they did so in order to prevent a bunch of neofeudalists who liked filling mass graves and talked a good line about anti-imperialism and the people from displacing a bunch of neofeudalists who talked a good line about free markets and democracy.

  13. Sarah, your mention of how the end of the Time of the Boomers was extended reminded me of an R. A. Lafferty story (from the seventies, I think) in which the woman in charge of a team reminds the group, who were conscripts, not volunteers, that while her age is over 30, as a member of the ruling class, she is allowed to subtract from her age to remain under 30. I wish I had the story handy so I could quote it precisely because Lafferty;s original was more sharply phrased than my wimpy paraphrase. Not to mention the slogans that the really-over-30 hippy in command kept uttering. Incidentally, born in Feb. ’44, I’m too old to have ever been a boomer, pardon me, Boomer,so my own opinions are obviosly addled, if not evial . . .

  14. Sarah, you need to research the legal history of corporations.
    They somewhat echo the history of royal charters. Those went from a limited interest to becoming de facto governments with their own laws and military.
    For the first hundred years the US kept a very tight rein on corporations, allowing them only to be formed for narrow specific purposes. They could not suddenly decide to become something else or expand their charter or they would be disbanded. They could not contribute to political campaigns or accumulate assets not essential to their charter activities. Corporate officers did not have legal immunity for criminal acts they ordered the corporation to commit. It was like so many other things in our history a bad supreme court decision that unleashed corporations from their restrictions and granted them person-hood. Now they have all of the rights of a natural person but seem to have none of the responsibilities. All this bolstered and supported by legal theory that applied to slaves. Yes the corporations were enslaved and they needed to be kept in bondage for the safety of free men everywhere.

    1. If people were never criminally responsible for their actions as an employee of a corporation they wouldn’t end up in jail, and they do. The corporation isn’t a person with any rights, but people collectively, do not loose their rights because they form a corporation. Mostly the corporation separates financial risk from someone’s personal life… not much more than that. So you, Joe Public, can form your business as a corporation, you don’t loose any rights, but if your business becomes liable for something (it’s not immune!) your financial risk is limited. If your business partner is a crook you’ll still loose everything that you held together but not your house or your other separate interests. It’s not primarily the *guilty* that are protected, but all the innocent people who would get swept along.

      1. Yeah, that’s the theory. “Oh, it’s just individuals banding together to further theiur common interests”. Yeah, and so is a gang, and so was the Mafia, and so were the Soviets. Corporations can do a lot of things that individuals can’t do in practice, the most important being that it’s very easy for them to acquire amounts of assets and power that are very difficult for individuals to attain. Yes, there are Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos and George Soros in the world, but there are a heck of a lot more still General Motors, Pfizers, Apples, JPMorgans, etc., and they’re a heck of a lot bigger even than a Soros. As a practical matter, not theory, these corporations are *vastly* more powerful than mere citizens. The people that control them are hence vastly more powerful than their fellow citizens. This does not endow said people with superior wisdom, nor special rights. It is right and proper, and indeed necessary in self-defense, that corporations be kept on a tight leash, and breaking them up for excessive size alone should be common, not rare. imo.

        1. With the somewhat crucial difference that corporations don’t make their money via illegal means or oppressing the populace, if the government is actually functional.
          If you want to permanently enshrine an aristocracy, cripple the corporations.

          1. I’ve thought for some time that the biggest fix needed to rein in Corporate behavior is to kill the inheritance tax. It doesn’t really affect the personally rich all that much, but it DOES mean that comoanies do not stay associated with a recognizable family beyond one generation. In order to pay the inheritance tax on Daddy New Money’s creation, the family has to bring the company public. Now in theory, the stockholders could control the company, but most don’t bother. So every company past a certain age is run by Business School Suits, and it’s only very seldom that anyone really knows who they are.

            Favorite example: some years back McDonalds was running their Monopoly game, and a lucky guy got the million dollar instant win, and gave the piece to his pastor. It took THREE DAYS for the management of McDonalds to realize that saying “The pieces are non-transferable, so we aren’t going to pay out.” was a public relations DISASTER.

            Now, in games like that the prizes aren’t paid for by the company running the game. They buy insurance based on probabilities and if the rules aren’t followed the insurer won’t pay out. But McDonalds could have ponied up the one million without any pain, and the bad publicity probably cost them more every day they were saying ‘nope’, and for days after they changed their tune.

            If Ray Kroc (sp?) had been alive, he would have stopped the nonsense a lot faster. McDonalds was his baby; he didn’t want it to be thought of as a killjoy.

            Maybe his descendents would have been as dumb as the managers. But they would have had a personal stake in the reputation of the company, beyond money.

            If the family of the founder is still involved, and a Company is about to do something stupid, they have cause to yell “Don’t do that! My name is on the goddamne building! I don’t want to he associated with that crap!”

            Of course, they can also go off the deep end with a Cause, as we are seeing. But at least it’s their money, not the nebulous shareholders. There’s more connection.

              1. On a smaller scale, the owner of several John Deere dealerships (and grandson of the founder) sold out because his kids didn’t want the business. Interestingly enough, he ran for county commissioner, won, and has become a rather effective one

              2. It happens. And one of the big questions I expect to see answered in my lifetime is; what the hell do we do with all thosege stores when Walmart goes belly up? We simply don’t NEED that many roller rinks.

                1. The demolition guy has to work too!
                  Actually, in my area, the old empty 80’s era Walmart buildings were bought by Tractor Supply.

                  1. Driving from Arkansas to Florida some years ago, my Dad and I amused ourselves by identifying no-longer-Wal-Mart stores. I think we saw fifteen on that trip.

                    Here in my town, the Wal-Mart have moved three times, and one of the buildings has been vacant for going on 20 years. It’s owned by “Wal-Mart Realty Company” according to a small sign…

                    1. That can come about for odd reasons. When I was first courting my Lady the nearest town to her mother’s home (Flemington NJ) had a nearly empty mall; one or two stores open and one ‘anchor store’ supermarket. Then the supermarket closed and the mall stayed completely empty for something on the close order of twenty years.

                      When we moved back into the area, I got to know some folks who lived in Flemington, and got the explanation. The owner would have been happy to renovate and lease the property, but wasn’t willing to do the several million dollars unnecessary work the local elected board (don’t remember whether it was a Council or what) demanded. This was far from unreasonable on his part; a local supermarket had their parking lot repaved during that period and what should have been a half-million dollar job was inflated to a two-and-a-half-million dollar job by requirements for islands and trees that made no objective goddamned sense whatsoever.

                      The owner of the mall didn’t need the income, didn’t live in Flemington (or NJ, for that matter) and was prepared to take the loss indefinitely until the council was ready to A) back off or B) suck it up, start eminent domain proceedings, and get the whole mess (including the cronyism involved) revealed in court.

                      Eventually the Council changed enough through natural attrition that the mall owner was allowed to do what made sense; tear the whole rotting thing down, pave it over, and make a high-end strip out of it.

                2. I’ve seen some repurposing. Kmart turned into a huge farm and ranch store, after several years vacant. A big furniture store was vacant for about 10 years, and now its a boat/travel trailer/ATV/snowmobile toystore.

                  Other big spaces sit vacant; one complex (torn-down rink, 🙂 )was finished in ’07, and has housed a Halloween store for a few years. Now, they’re in the old Sports Authority store. Some smaller places get used around Christmas. Cheaper stores are used for startup retail.

                  Some places just collapse. (If you don’t clear snow off the roof and it’s a bad year, it’s quite literal.) Others get torn down and something new put in. (County Road shop –> Toyota dealership.)

              3. Or Ford- there’s a whole lot of really dumb decisions that originated from Henry himself. The long reluctance to switch production away from the Model T for instance, which lost market share to GM.

                1. Ford deciding to skip the 1/4 ton pickup market for several years. The other companies (Toyota, Nissan, GM) now own it.

            1. Taxes took 1/3 of my inheritance. Necessary to note my father lived and died in New York City. Only place with more taxes is California.

              1. We really need to round up all the Loft Liberals and the likes of Michael Bloomberg and herd them into central park. then we can allow any sensible people left in the city to evacuate to New Jersey or Connecticut and blow the bridges.

        2. Yeah, that’s the theory. “Oh, it’s just individuals banding together to further theiur common interests”. Yeah, and so is a gang, and so was the Mafia, and so were the Soviets.

          Yes, and none of THOSE were penalized for being groups, either– they were penalized when they actually did ILLEGAL THINGS.

          Not for speaking while Mafia.

          1. Perhaps the solution would be to return to larger versions of the older “Joint Stock Associations” for what now are called “corporations.”

            And get people to stop valuing a company for how much its stock is going to rise or fall and betting on that to make money, but go back to pure dividend instead. And elephants will fly tomorrow without JATO assist.

            1. Yep. Stocks were supposedly to provide capital for company in return for partial ownership and associated rights. Today they are bought and sold in minutes in some cases.

              I actually wouldn’t oppose the idea of a cap gains tax thst drops every year a stock is held. Got to figure a bunch out to do it, namely shifting real estate vs stocks and having some form of lower income escape hatch at the least but better than these trades of minutes

              1. We already have a REALLY simplified version of that.

                “Long Term” v.s. “Short Term”. Long term gains are taxed at a (generally) lower rate than short term gains.

              2. Oh, fuck, no. Every time that I know of that Tax policy has been jiggered to encourage some behavior change, the results have ranged from disappointing to godawful. Taxes should be levied ONLY to raise revenue and the ONLY reason to get cute with them is to extract the necessary milk with a minimum of moo.

  15. Thinking about this… my birthday is 1964. The strongest influence on my view of economics was the terror and dread about never getting a job ever, never being able to afford a house ever, never having anything ever. That’s if we didn’t all die in a nuclear holocaust.

    That didn’t leave much room for hippy-dippy concerns, not really. And I remember college, we still didn’t *quite* believe that the economy would get better enough to live well, but our teachers despaired that we didn’t have any desire to protest anything, that our values weren’t their values. A lot of people identified strongly with Alex Keaton. And we ended up in a growing economy and it was okay in the end.

    But take kids 10 years later… when my baby sister hit high school the economy was already good. I doubt she had full grown adults telling her how she’d never get a job. And I think that 30 – 40 year olds today are more ideologically motivated.

    The even younger people… I don’t know… I think that a lot of them think that they’re socialist or that *of course* they’re on board with the SJW stuff because who doesn’t believe in being fair or being nice? But they became aware of the world in the worst economy possible, where working at fast food was a career choice that should pay a living wage because it was the best you could ever expect. Ever.

    A lot of those “woke” socialists are going to come up against an economy that is growing, where they actually aren’t afraid of not finding work because everyone seems to be hiring. I wouldn’t be the least surprised if a whole heck of a lot of them start enjoying it.

      1. There’s an underappreciated impact of living through the inflation era(s) of the 70s (and hangover at the start of the 80s when RR had to stomp on the economy to fix it). For the youngins, inflation is the slow, incremental tic upwards, which existence thereof was often denied by the Great and Powerful O Regime and their “Statistics on Demand!” departments, that makes things slightly more expensive every year.

        Inflation for me was going from “A nickle will actually buy something of value, and gas is 7 or 8 nickles a gallon” to “coin change is just a bother, and gas, when it’s not rationed*, is over a buck a gallon” during the time I was in High School. WHen everything yanks upwards in price like that, your view of economics gets skewed.

        *Yep, really, rationing – I remember sitting on the hood of my ’68 Dodge Dart in line with maybe 20 other cars to try and get gas on my odd-number-plate day, hoping the station would open and I could fill up. They had a red flag out earlier that morning, but I’d been told by a HS classmate that a tanker had been seen there since, and we were all hoping the station would put up the green flag and let us buy gasoline. They did.

        1. I came home with 2/3 of a cart full of groceries a while back, very pleased with myself that I’d gotten everything for under $60. Mentioned that to my father, who lived with us at the time, and he just shook his head, muttering about how HIS mom griped the first time her weekly groceries went over #10…

          1. I remember my Mom being handed two twenty dollar bills a week – for a family of five. We ate well, too (if somewhat monotonously Midwest farm in diet); all name brand stuff. Plus Green Stamps!

            Now, I am fortunate when I do a weekly shopping trip and stay under $100 for a family of five. That is by hitting every sale, every manager’s special, buying store / generic brands as much as possible. I also spend about $20 more during the week – I just cannot fit a week’s worth of bulky stuff in the fridge, like milk, orange juice, etc.

            1. Yeah, I do the majority of my shopping at Aldi, which is astoundingly cheap where I live. I was running about 85 a week for a family of four, then my father moved out and things got MUCH MUCH easier. But anyway.

              I do the housewife thing, and consider Proper Food Management to be part of my job. Problem is, I like to cook and I start going “oooh, what could i do with THAT?” (*Other* problem is that this time of year, Aldi starts selling frozen ducks to roast. Om nom nom nom…)

                1. Worth keeping an eye out IMO. They cost about 60% of what duck goes for at the only other local store that sells it. It’s strictly seasonal and started about a month early this year (glee!!); usually for us they run late October to January. I adore roast duck because first it’s delicious by itself, then it’s delicious in soup, then you use the duck fat you have saved to make Other Things delicious.

      2. me, being weird, I never thought I’d own for the “normal reasons. I always figured it’d be rantals because I tend to not put up with BS and walk away from jobs, making saving up a down payment a bit rough, not to mention making those payments.
        I did look rather hard just before moving to Texas (yep, quit another job) and then had sorta started looking around Texas but then we got bought, and I knew it was likely walk away, or as it turned out to be “We need you to move to the Wisconsin plant”
        Ended up loaning it to myself and paying myself back at 3.5% iirc.

        1. It was a fad, true, but they are still around. Just “chain brands” nowadays. Mostly what I buy when possible, except for a few things that are so different, and so horrible, that I just have to get the name brand.

          1. …and (though maybe this is a local thing) the generic or ‘house’ brand is often more expensive than the name brand.

            Even though the price-per-unit is right there on the little tag (somewhere along a 40-foot shelf…) many people seem to have the idea the generics are always cheaper.

            1. The trick here is to list the units funky so that the store meets the requirement and lists the cost per unit, but for the house brand the unit is $ per quatloos, which choice of units is not repeated in the competing name brand item, forcing math upon shoppers.

            2. Absolutely. (Although not “often” in my experience here in Tucson.)

              The impatient son is slowly getting used to my whipping out the calculator in the butcher section. I always have to figure out whether the 85% ground beef is cheaper this week than the 73% ground beef, once cooked. And whether to get bone in ham, or boneless – between 15% and 20% is the bone and associated inedible stuff – although I’ll sometimes get the bone-in anyway, if I’m planning on a batch of pork and beans; I really feel that the marrow is needed there.

              (I really do need to get a meat grinder, though. Sirloin brisket is quite often cheaper per cooked pound than any of the ground beef.)

            3. Where I shop the store brands are often cheaper. You do have have to compare the prices on each item. Sometimes brand name is equal or cheaper when the brand name is on sale. I buy brand name OJ actually one particular brand because it tastes better to me. I also live in a family of two people and one (small) dog. We split our our shopping among 3 stores. Krogers, Walmart and Sam’s (local bulk buy store). All three have different price points.

              These days my husband does the shopping because he works from home and I don’t drive. He doesn’t go into the store much. I or hubby buy our groceries online and they are either delivered to our door, or hubby gets them packed into the truck by store employees. I find this quite valuable. It saves time and hassle. We used to have what I’d call traffic jams in the supermarket. There were (at peak periods) so many people in the store that, I felt like a salmon swimming upstream, trying to buy my groceries.

    1. The only google product I still use is Google Maps, for which I’ve found no decent substitute. I get my e-mail from AT&T, which has a contract with Yahoo. I have an Apple e-mail account as backup. I use Duck Duck Go as a search engine. I have no presence on social media as usually understood. I think that covers most of what you’re asking about, right?

      1. Even Maps is trying it’s best to be annoying, by forcing you to use the annoyingly poor quality “3-D” version of the satellite view by default.
        I used to be able to easily switch it off, but now that button is gone from the menu. Now I have to go into forced lite mode.

        1. I use the web-based email that came with y old dialup service. I can keep a fair amount online (as little as possible, and not any critical stuff), for $11.95 a mont. I’m not willing to go to the domain/email server system, partly because of the portability.

          If I don’t need the latest and greatest satellite pictures, I’ll use Bing or the ESRI feed available from NOAA. These can be kind of old, so Google gets used a bit. They usually have new satellite imagery every year or so.

          1. Getting a static IP and setting up your own email server is almost useless nowadays. You can’t just *send* smtp mail somewhere any more. Not that it was ever particularly reliable to begin with, but it used to work well enough. Now there are so many filters, firewalls, whitelists, blacklists, idiot admins blocking entire TLDs or A-address segments of the net… unless you’re willing to make it a time-sucking hobby, very few people will be able to send or receive your messages.

            Email used to be my main online presence; a few years ago I finally gave up on some mailing lists I’d been on for a decade or more, where I was getting one message in three even after changing mail hosts several times.

            I’m particularly chapped at how so many places use an email address as an authenticator. I’ve had several hosts close down suddenly. And no, handing account authentication information over to Google or Yahoo isn’t an alternative.

            1. “Static IP email”

              Try accessing csscams (dot) com. It is a legit business. But until white listed, Firefox, Explorer, & Chrome, will all block it, with warnings. Ditto for emails coming from it … I worked for the company for 12 years. It has been in business since 1985.

              CSSCAMS -> Cascade Software Systems Cost Accounting Management System. It has (per IT) the appropriate certifications. But all the computer systems see is CSS & CAMS both suspect for fraud & nefarious internet.

              Unless you work for a governmental agency that needs a cost accounting system, don’t bother looking it up. Just an example of all the filtering, etc., that goes on.

            2. Oh, it’s not that bad! It’s what I do for email. Mostly. I’ve got an email server on a VPS in, um, Des Moines? (The email the hoster has for me is at gmail, though, and for very good reasons.) The main issue is that you have to convince Google that you’ve jumped through their hoops as documented in their “bulk email injector” documentation. Sending four or five emails a month is apparently considered by the geniuses at Google to be “bulk email injection.”

              Jumping through those hoops requires that you come to terms with SPF and DCIM and a number of other acronyms. It’s actually harder to set up effective spam filtering, although I’m now using the Acme method, and it works astonishingly well.

              I’ve never had any issues receiving email, but sending is sometimes a problem, so you have to subscribe to a black hole list monitor and take some sort of action every three or four years.

              I owned a dial-up ISP back in the 90’s, and I won’t give up my email. My primary email address is all that I have left of that time.

              If anyone actually wants to do this, it does require some work, but not nearly as much as, say, a pet. I can provide some tips and tricks and suggestions, if anyone might find that helpful.

              I’ve also developed Web applications. Using an email address as an account identifier has a number of advantages. It’s guaranteed unique, and it provides for an easily-understood password recovery mechanism. I can provide some tips about that, too.

        2. Maps shows here in 2D mode, unless I intentionally switch. The toggle command-O (using macos 10.14) works, no need to go to the menu.

          Same on my phone (iOS 12); 2D by default. I wonder if there’s a setting somewhere that translates what you want to what you’ve got?

          1. I’m running Firefox. For a while, it would come up 3D as default, then I could toggle it back to 2D. A couple of months ago, the button went away and I was stuck with 3D.
            I did set it to default to Lite mode, but it can default back to default after a bit.

        3. Oh, and on a desktop, the 3D button is at the bottom-right corner. I don’t see any way to turn it off, but perhaps?…

      2. I’ve not noticed much difference between Google and Bing. Although they’re both big corporations, of course.

        Mapping data, especially when you add “street view” (which I love) I think is just too expensive for small outfits, even at the price per terabyte these days.

        1. I don’t make much use of street view or satellite view. I’m just looking for a mapping program that will find a lot of businesses of a given type in a given ZIP code, and that will let me identify the bus routes. Google Maps does that better than the others I’ve tried, including Apple’s mapping program. OpenStreetMap has a somewhat better street map view, but isn’t as good at these two functions.

        2. I’m currently looking at the best hosting deal to switch my email to a private domain on my own virtual server. The days when you would ever want to set up a mail server in your bathroom are long gone (actually, those days were never really here unless you were trying to hide violations of Federal Law or something). Someone else will be on the hook for maintaining the virtual server that has my stuff, which is a good thing.

          For search I’ve switched completely to duckduckgo.

          Apple Maps has recovered from their ignominious debut, and it’s right there on the hardware I use these days so I use that. Yeah, it’s still a big company, but at least Apple talks the talk – Alphabet doesn’t even bother with the talk anymore.

          1. Oh, and I am deleting Chrome from every piece of hardware I have control over. Rat bastard commie bastard central control bastards overriding my privacy choices to send every possible piece of supposedly-deidentified data to the googleplex is just the final straw there.

      3. I use no Google services at all, which has made it easier for me to build a phone that doesn’t spy on me. LineageOS and F-Droid, and recompiling everything from scratch after scanning the source code, and running wifi through a VPN back to my home router and a Pi Hole, and… hey, it’s a hobby.

        The spyware is baked in, all the way down to the back door in the CPU. I can’t avoid everything, but I can make them work really hard for the very little they’re going to get…

    2. I’m using Vivaldi (Chrome based, but a lot of “no, that’s not right, do this instead” gets done to it). It’s great to open a tab or note from an instance on another machine and have the information where I am. And yes, encrypted – you choose the password and there is NO recovery. Vivaldi can’t hand off your info as they can’t get at it as such, even when it resides on their hardware. And I am moving to the Vivaldi web mail service over Gmail – admittedly slowly.

      While I use an Android phone, Navmii also works for navigation.

      And while not a solution for everyone, my remote desktop (for now anyway) is X11vnc.

      Skype (I know, not Google, but still) has been replaced for most things with Discord. Imperfect, but less annoying.

    3. > Especially gmail.

      I use for my “personal” account, but it’s $5 a month per account (60 dollars a year) for me and my wife. It has a REALLY nice webmail client, calendaring etc. and I can get technical support if I need it.

  16. There’s a fun motte and bailey argument in how the Democrat Senators are accusing Kavanaugh of things Kennedy did, things many of them personally excused when in a position to deny Kennedy a position.

    More seriously, should we really be appointing Catholics to the Supreme Court when the Supreme Court may soon be called to clarify the law on the ambiguities on the Catholic Church as a religion and the Vatican City as a hostile foreign power that uses its influence networks to undermine rule of law? Because given the concern about Trump’s eastern European contacts and the level of proof so far offered, I must conclude that Americans are all Xenophobes now. Xenomiscy is cool.

    1. Oops. Wasn’t thinking and meant to post this on The Creature…, where all the discussion is.

    2. I don’t have a problem with a Catholic or two on the Supreme Court. I might if we had half or more of them.

  17. I saw something about this the other day posted by someone living in China. The person posting thought that Google’s deal with China was “better than nothing”. I’d thought that China had some search engines already in place. Does anyone happen to know more about this?

    That doesn’t change the fact that Google appears to need to be knocked down a peg or two here in the US, though…

    1. China already has search engines.

      Google is producing an ap for cellphones that the Chinese government can use to restrict search results and maybe search terms.

      From a Chinese perspective, its merely an additional government censored search engine.

      From an American perspective, Google is refreshing their technical expertise in censorship at the same time as they are committing to using censorship more effectively here in the United States.

      1. “From an American perspective, Google is refreshing their technical expertise in censorship at the same time as they are committing to using censorship more effectively here in the United States.”
        Right up to the point that they get obnoxiously intrusive, at which point they will feature prominently in future articles wondering why they collapsed and disappeared.

      2. So I’m not sure I understand. What’s the difference between what Google’s doing, and doing a search on an existing search engine in China, but using a mobile device to do so (like using Safari on your iPhone, and pulling up a local search engine)? Why is the Chinese government interested in having Google involved to begin with?

        1. The part that’s different is that your information (phone number, name, and such) is sent back to TPTB along with the search terms. Easy to identify malcontents and others with soon-to-be limited lifespans. Big Brother would smile.

              1. I think the old motto went away this spring, but they’ve privately substituted “Let’s” for “Don’t” many years ago, perhaps about the time they publicly announced the “Don’t” version.

          1. Uh… you realize that Google does this in the USA too, right?

            They don’t have (public) government backing, but they get your IMEI and other information from their “partnerships” with the five cellular backbone companies, and information right down to your particular cable or DSL modem from your ISP. If more than one person shares the same computer, it doesn’t take long for them to use search strings to identify them. And that’s without people simply logging in to their Google account and making it easy.

            Identifying you and selling your information is what Google *does*.

            The hypocrisy of the Googleites who have protested the company’s work for the Chinese government is impressive, considering the company announced it was “partnered” with the National Security Agency a few years ago…

            “Nothing to see here, move long. These aren’t the Androids you’re looking for.”

            1. I’d say I’d expect google to be more accepting of China as opposed to US agencies but then remember that feds are nothing more than dem oppo research agencies

        2. Frequently, an economic incentive to perfect something is better than a political incentive.

          Google, from day one, has had nothing but an economic incentive to track every move of every person using their “service.” That is the only product they have to offer to anyone with money.

  18. just found this blog, love this post. good stuff and spot on in every way. keep it up, maybe we can help the lunatics see the error of their ways before this country tears itself apart

  19. WWII didn’t leave the same sour taste in the mouths of America that WWI did. For one, we had properly evil bad guys to fight against.
    We weren’t bled dry in the same way that Europe was either.
    So, up until the mid 60’s, the US was optimistic and fairly hawkish- note that it was JFK who attacked the Eisenhower admin for “the Missile Gap”.

    1. The Progressives needed time to bring about any sympathy whatsoever or Communist revolutions. In that they were aided by Joe McCarthy; if he hadn’t really existed, they would have had to invent him.

      1. alas Joe’s biggest crime was being an ass. It wasn’t being wrong.
        The leftoids also need everyone to forget They were the ones who enforced the Black list

        1. No, if he was ever right in particular it seems likely to have been anaccident. His methods were laughable. He just wanted a big list of names to wave about. He would have jumped on any bandwagon going, up to and including the legalization of cannibalism.

          Now, there were Communists shot through the federal government, thanks to FDR and his delusion that he could ‘manage’ Stalin. Truman was digging them out as quietly as he could, among other reasons because simply exposing them was inefficient; it left too much aparat in place.

          1. McCarthy appears to never comprehended the notion that sometimes a known spy in place is actually better than a spy eliminated. Frex, you can feed the spy false information tailored to lead the enemy in unproductive or even counterproductive directions. You can get the spy to reveal the presence or even identity of other spies. And that’s just the obvious. Whereas, if you remove the spy, there’s a probability that the other side will soon put another spy in place, and this time avoid the things that exposed the first one.

            OTOH, there are times when very publicly exposing, removing and destroying a spy can be very valuable, if nothing else, for the deterrent value. But McCarthy was the proverbial bull in the china shop, causing indiscriminate destruction and smearing innocents who would’ve been spared had he took a measured approach, mindful of due process and the rights of the accused.

            Considering that the man was a lawyer and a judge, his cavalier attitude towards those last is inexcusable.

            1. Lawyers with a dim view of the rights of the accused and due process. Let me introduce you yo the US Senate

                    1. Kindergarten Cop – when he has to revile who he really is to one of his kids & kid’s mother; I think. Could have been both. Too good of a line to not use twice.

              1. “But it’s okay because those people are BAD!”, or so the thought goes.
                And what about when someone thinks you are the bad one?
                As the quote goes, “I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake.”

                1. They don’t think that far ahead and are likely relatively safe from being hit by it until it is really too late. Remember, there has been no effective punishment for this type of action so it is continually encouraged

    2. I know my dad’s mom’s family was really not impressed to get over to the US– and just a few years later be called on to go save the @#$@# of the guys who’d made it so their family had to pack up and leave.

  20. Doing good by doing well

    This…subtly wrong, and I can’t quite put a finger on it.

    I think the best way to put it is that you’re supposed to do what is right, and that comes before “doing well”– but it generally results in doing well over the long term, exactly because people learn your company can be trusted to do something besides “try really hard to make money.” Yeah, money is good– but short term profit that destroys your reputation by letting those who pay attention know that your interest in them is to use your customers, and anybody else….

    Incredibly tempting, though.

    1. That’s because it was coined from an insult. For an example, see James Michener’s Hawaii. The New England missionaries were derided with “They came to Hawaii to do good, and they did right well” because they “swindled” the native Hawaiians.

  21. Sarah, bless you. I’ve been hammering on this point for YEARS.

    OK, folks. A political generation is not, repeat not, 20 years. More like 10, 12 at most. I was born in 1963…and people like me have absolutely nothing in common with the Brat Boom. Completely different frames of reference. The Brat Boomers grew up in the safe, stable, prosperous 1950s…and took the turbulence of the 1960s in the face. My decade group, the Baby Busters…we were the people Jimmy Carter told, “You can’t expect to live as well as your parents.” And our parents weren’t doing all that well.

    Needless to say, we voted for Reagan in 1980. And went on to rebuild the American economy and grind the Soviet Empire into rubble. Baby Busters FTW!

    And yes, the World War II decade group has a terrible tendency to live on past glories – and believe their own press releases. If you look at the performance of the Presidents who were in the Second World War but not the First (Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, and Bush the Elder), the track record is 1 great (Reagan), 2 fair (Ford and Bush)…and four disasters. Not good.

    I suspect it had something to do with being accustomed to a centralized bureaucracy as the Solution To All Problems. When it’s usually not.

    1. (Nods) Centralized bureaucracy is the answer when what you need is something, anything, in massive quantities, RIGHT NOW, and any decision is better than doing nothing.
      When that’s not what you need, a centralized bureaucracy becomes part of the problem.

      1. Centralized bureaucracy didn’t really do all that well, even in wartime, as the ‘Truman Committee’ demonstrated time and again. But our industrial base was so powerful it didn’t matter as much as it could have.

        Centralized bureaucracy was a middling disaster for the Nazis. They kept building neat sounding stuff that didn’t work and then not junking it soon enough.

        1. One could say that America succeeded in becoming the WWII Arsenal of Democracy in spite of the centralized bureaucracy- see “Freedom’s Forge” for more details.

        2. Eh. Thing about the Nazis was that Hitler tried to have this “survival of the fittest” thing going on, and the various parts of the military also did some serious duplication of effort.
          Putting the paratroopers under the Luftwaffe made some sense. Giving them 22 infantry divisions did not.

    2. I like the idea of grouping folks by their “coming of age” thing, big things during their formative years.

      That’s more like 8-12 years– so I’d be a 9/11 or millennial, there’s the Obama generation, folks that were about 14 to 22 for Obama, there’s the Challenger generation….

        1. Watching that guy eat a **** sandwich against his better judgement, and dying from a secondary effect….

          Yeah, if I’d been conscious of what was going on a the time, that’d make an impression on me. By the time I was old enough to think of it, it was already a Really Bad Idea.

    3. Nixon had issues, but he also did a lot of good. He pretty much forced the North Vietnamese to the negotiating table, and kept them out of the South until after he left office (the leaders in Hanoi were quite literally scared of him, and thought he had a lot more power than he actually did). And he established good relations with China.

      If you focus on his international achievements and ignore the domestic (such as questions about his involvement in Watergate…), he comes off quite well.

  22. Friedrich Meinecke, who was in Germany during the Nazi era, had an observation that I think is relevant here:

    “It often happens nowdays…that young technicians, engineers, and so forth, who have enjoyed an excellent university training as specialists, will completely devote themselves to their calling for ten or fifteen years and without looking either to the right or to the left will try only to be first-rate specialists. But then, in their middle or late thirties, something they have never felt before awakens in them, something that was never really brought to their attention in their education–something that we would call a suppressed metaphysical desire. Then they rashly seize upon any sort of ideas and activities, anything that is fashionable at the moment and seems to them important for the welfare of individuals–whether it be anti-alcoholism, agricultural reform, eugenics, or the occult sciences. The former first-rate specialist changes into a kind of prophet, into an enthusiast, perhaps even into a fanatic and monomaniac. Thus arises the type of man who wants to reform the world.”

    It seems likely that the same phenomenon is occurring in America today.

    1. That would explain how empty so many of these folks are– and their reaction to a failure to fall in line.

      They’ve dedicated their life to their Work, and it didn’t love them back; now they’re dedicating their life to their Cause…and you’re a threat to that.

      And the horrible thing is, it won’t love them, either.

    2. I cannot deal with threading heck just niw

      This is in reference to the German engineers comment. Doing research into the revised Mason-system McGuffy (sp?) Readers I found an entire discourse on the training of the soul. Which led to the Abolition of Man (and the realisation that I’ve loaned it out so no quote. ) and to this odd book about how to kill the creativity, joy and imagination of your kid via the Prussian educational system.

      I’ve ordered a copy, but based on the preview it appears that the phenomenon described in the referenced comment was a feature not a bug to the folks in charge.

      1. well, the Prussian educational system that ours is modeled on was designed to turn out good little factory workers… so its designed for jobs that barely exist anymore.

  23. People who assume civilization are a default condition are begging for a shocking surprise.

    Those Who Unmake Civilization
    By Sarah Hoyt
    I’ve been listening to crazy people saying things like someone isn’t entitled to the presumption of innocence, or that an accusation that is not only unproven but unprovable is “corroborated” in growing alarm. What goes through my mind is “this is the way you un-make civilization.

    Part of the problem is that our civilization – arguably, at least in terms of keeping the most people alive and in relative comfort – is not normal in the history of the world.

    This strange idea that each individual has rights, that the rights are inherent to them, that they deserve to be given due process, and not simply destroyed because someone – anyone, or one of their betters – accused them of something, is not only bizarre in terms of historical societies. It’s also something that took a long time to work itself through.

    And ever since it’s been created there have been attempts to take it back to “normal human society.”

    The attempts are usually the result of people who don’t understand the full horror that society used to be. People who have been fed stories of glory order, and who think that society without all these “ridiculous” protections for normal individuals will be somehow better. Or people who understand how horrible it will be but think they will emerge on top and able to make things serve a greater good somehow.

    Part of the problem is that those people who are romantic – in the old sense, having little to do with couple dynamics – and read older books tend to read about the deeds of the nobility, and therefore think that “noble” means good. Heck, our very language is corrupted that way so that “Noble” means not of a certain birth and possessed of power, but full of great ideals. Because for a long time noblemen had power and thought that way, till language served their needs.

    But there is a reason that not only in our long history, but in the history of other peoples – Chinese, Indian – who never fully conceptualized “individual rights” there was no society wealthy enough or peaceful enough that the common individual lived as well as the kings of the past. …

    1. “It becomes Auschwitz, or Siberia. It becomes mass graves and immiseration. It becomes Venezuela and Zimbabwe, and people eating house pets, and starving children.”
      It becomes the Old Jim Crow South, where keeping the nigras from getting uppity meant lynchings, police torture, and innocent men sent to prison on the unsubstantiated word of a white woman.
      As a dog returns to it’s vomit…

    2. In which everyone’s favourite wallaby sums up the failure of progressivism since the dawn of Rousseau. Dang!

      “People who assume civilization are a default condition are begging for a shocking surprise.”

      1. It is like any construction. All it takes is cessation of maintenance and time. Even if you are not handing out sledgehammers and tnt to folks

      2. Unmaking vs Making was a central theme of Scott Card’s “Seventh Son” series, the counter-factual fantasy history of the US.

  24. Yes, I know this belongs on another thread, the one with Mrs. Hoyt’s poor son getting mobbed. (Mi dispiace, but I’m wiped) It struck a nerve because I lived through what he did. So I thought you make might appreciate what this woman, a former public school teacher wrote:

    “I could accept an inferior education, because I felt that I could supplement at home, but I could not send him back to an environment that was so callous to a six-year-old child’s daily despair. ”

    What a world, eh?

  25. I think generalizing across a whole generation is probably the wrong way to go. Generalizations explain less the bigger they get. How are people born in Europe before the internet heirs to quite the same brand of cultural malfunction that plagued the US.

    Also, if the WWII generation tacitly agreed with the 60’s rebellion, then why were they so hated by their children? I have no idea where the 60’s rebellion came from (its demographics, how big it was at first to begin with), but that seems incongruous. (Then again, the 60s seemed incongruous.)

    As for myself: Nevermind remaking the world. I suppose I had ambitions like that when younger (learn deep physics, go invent new technology, do my part to bring some sort of sci-fi future to pass.) More and more that’s been crushed out of me by the various bureaucratic hells in which I’ve worked.

    Now my life’s ambition is merely to have some tiny corner of the world that is mine – that belongs to me. A place where I have a right to be and some measure of control over. To help my extended family, and to be able to sustain myself in some sort of life. Even this tiny measure of security seems more and more out of reach.

    1. What and who would you need to build that sci-fi future you dreamed of?

      Sometimes I think resource scarcity is a major component of our inability. Not enough power, not enough freedom from regulation of power, not enough space, not enough freedom from regulation of space. You see a trend here? When you get to a point where anyone who doesn’t like you, or what you’re doing, can use legalisms to stop you, everything grinds to a halt, except for your cycle of despair.

  26. As I told my stepkids all their lives, more fortunes have been made by someone coming up with a way to make something more available at a lower price than have been by having a monopoly and selling at a high price. It worked for Sears & Roebuck, Ford and others, and is working now for WalMart. Of course, Sears & Roebuck and others demonstrate that having a virtual lock on the market does not mean that you will keep same.

    1. Somewhere in the 1970s, Sears lost track of “how to be a business.” I remember during the Energy Crisis, when the local Sears stores decided the appropriate reactions were:

      A) raise prices
      B) close on weekends and evenings
      C) be open only from noon to four weekdays
      D) fire all their salespeople
      E) turn on just enough lights to feel your way around the store
      F) not order any replacement stock

      So, you’d go to the mall if you happened not to have a day job, grope around mostly-empty shelves until you found something, then put it down and leave after failing to find anyone to take your money.

      Then they added “in-store pick-up fees” to their catalog prices, after raising those and getting rid of 75% of the catalog items, then got rid of the catalog business entirely.

      They weren’t the only one to cut service and lights, but the others wised up faster. And a handful started staying open longer hours, possibly having made the connection between “those annoying people who keep bothering us” and “and then we get paid!”

      All of the auto parts stores in town closed at 5 o’clock. One started staying open until 7; by 6, they usually had two dozen people waiting in line. The reaction of the other eleven parts stores was to form an association and petition the city council to limit the hours parts stores could be open…

      1. And the thing is, Sears was Amazon. All they had to do was keep that original mail-order sell-the-customer-what-they-want-to-buy mindset going until Al Gore invented the internet, and then do the same thing there, and they’d be Jeff Bezos.

        But they had “changed with the times”, throwing away the original distinguishing idea to be just another store at the mall, and look where it got them.

        1. But-but-but… malls were *IN*! There were even doctoral theses and popular books on “mall culture” and how they were “the new face of the changing American lifestyle.”

          None of the local malls ever came close to the rosy picture I kept reading about, and after the closings and bankruptcies became so common as to be national news, I began to wonder if it ever actually had been that way, anywhere. Like disco or “Blue Wave”, it was likely a creation of the media…

      2. All of the auto parts stores in town closed at 5 o’clock. One started staying open until 7; by 6, they usually had two dozen people waiting in line.

        There’s something tangent to that that’s been ticking around my brain for a while.

        It used to be the businesses would and could be open only from 8 am to 5 pm, and they’d still succeed, because all the housewives would do business during the day.

        Now they have to be open later, because too many of those who would have been housewives work all day.

        Am I completely off base?

        1. “Am I completely off base?”
          We are running into the same problem with church and volunteer organizations that used to be kept going because the moms were at home during the day and could fit the work into their schedules.
          The original flex-time.
          Now most of the work is done by retired folks with the same flexibility.

  27. As for the Malthusian dystopia: That might be coming anyway, just a little later than expected.

    One of the key things I keep experiencing/hearing is just how unwanted and unvalued we all are. “You’d better be the next Edison or Einstein. Anything that has been done before is being done in China!” Job fairs at big technical colleges where a double column of engineering students down the block stand in the sun and rain for 8 hours to get into a career fair where there are maybe 15 companies which have bothered to show up. They take your resume and chuck it in the garbage in front of you, and tell you to apply to their ATS.

    “Why do we need you? We can hire ten $foreigners to do anything you could hope to do for us for half the price.”

    This isn’t necessarily overpopulation with respect to how many people our land can sustain, but it is some kind of overpopulation relative to our economy: How many people the people who own land and resources (a much smaller and more consolidated pool than it used to be!) can find a use for. At some point the market value of labor (any labor, even supergenius wunderkid inventor labor that there is supposedly demand for) falls below the level needed to sustain life. In this, I wonder if the socialists are entirely wrong about what happens in an entirely owned, labor-overpopulated economy. America has never experienced this before.

    1. Yeah, jobs are rate limited by the economy, and presuming that speeding up educational production will come with the jobs is almost purely magical thinking. However, I think the issue is not pleasing ‘the people with the resources’. Costs of regulation and taxation. I’ve heard that US regulatory costs would be the fifth largest economy in the world, and some of those costs are pure costs, without positive outcomes. Those costs don’t go to investment, don’t get competitive returns, and the growth of the economy scales more poorly with growth in population and of available competent workers.

      Compare with the effects of thieving government officials.

      1. They are also self growing. Regulations shift how things get broken out, so companies divert money to lobbying to create more regulations and once there is a public consequence more regs added atop that and so on.

  28. This is a really insightful analysis. That rings so true.

    But the description of our World War II generation does fail to track somewhat for me… and I was raised by two of them, and spent much of at least the first half of my life commonly among them (and obviously many of my own post baby-boomer contemporaries too, so much for “generational identity”).

    “Did the World War II generation rise to the challenge? Yes, they did. But in a way they’d been brought up for it: a generation grown to continue Europe’s long war, because the previous generation had been eaten in the fields of [WWI].”

    Well, yes. But they’d really been brought up to it by something as simple as twelve years (at 1941’s Pearl Harbor) of Great Depression, going up and down but literally *never ending* until the “conversion” to wartime production. It may be a little hard to fully comprehend now, but the onset of the Depression was not just an outbreak of hard times, but also a falling off the map of what had been before, into new territory where *nobody* could ever be sure “normal” would *ever* return. (The Humphrey Bogart movie “The Petrified Forest” is a contemporary crime / adventure drama, but it also highlights this sense of hurtling through unknown outer space rather powerfully.)

    We, in America, didn’t have the “rubble” or a lost previous generation. We did have the foundations falling out from underneath our feet. And yet, in a quite low-key and straightforward way, we persisted. And persevered.

    Sons (and daughters) of the World War I generation, who’d fought “the war to end all wars” and *won* it. Children of and survivors of the Depression — for whom *that* was *their* normal — along with the quasi-fascist government of the time. (Look at the love-fest between FDR’s “brains trust” and Mussolini and Hitler’s mobs, at least before the war, ugh.) If you’d *designed* an environment to incubate people most likely to see the (so far) ultimate convulsion of World War II as just another day in the life — this would have been just about it.
    (And ask any of them about it, and diamonds to dimes you’d get something like, we just did our jobs, nothing special, the only heroes are the ones who never came back.)

    So now (1946 or so), the war is won, normal is back as we start making cars and stockings again… and the *next* generation grows up in the shadow of those, and of that. (That “fake” 1950s domestic bliss looks quite genuine, set against the Eternal Depression that never was, or even an invasion of Japan.)
    Suddenly, we’re back on the tracks again.
    Enter the boomers — with *that* competition, and *no* dragons alive to slay.

    “Obviously something had gone wrong in Western civilization and it needed to be stopped. The next generation were going to be a brand new beginning. They were going to make it all better.”
    *Of course*… because how else can you *ever* follow an act like that?

    Angst much? Inferiority complex much? Hubris much?
    And while I don’t doubt that some of the World War II generation egged them on into it, I know *all* of the next grew up with that kind of background, that unspoken but inescapable challenge: we saved the world, no, really — so how are you going to top that?

    So, especially as they age closer to their inescapable encounter with the hard question, what have *you* accomplished with your lives — they want to save the whole world too, just like Daddy (and even Mommy) did. Me too, me too!
    Even if it doesn’t need saving (or want it).
    Even if it needs saving a lot less than they want it to.
    Even if (for ex.) racism is mostly extinct, they *have to* kill it *dead* again!

    Which brings us to now, especially those of us in the (thank you, Kate Paulk) “Pooper Scooper Generation.”
    We get to deal with the, ah, poop.
    Of the Boomers (who could easily *be* as destructive as a bunch of Fleet Ballistic Missile submarines) who want to over-save the world, or over-kill the problems of yesterday. And endanger (once again) the foundations of our *own* world as they try, just the way the Depression and World War II did.

    And that’s why (at least for me and anybody who’s read this far) it’s been worth going through what’s really only a slight, maybe more American and more rural-toned, variation of What Sarah Said in the OP.

    Because ‘build under, build over, build around’ is much of what got the World War II generation through their Depression. Because ‘despair is a sin’ (and isn’t much good otherwise either) is a major survival value for it or anything like it.

    Surely there are no guarantees. But that generation made it through both the Non-Eternal Depression and the Only Atomic War (it was and we did it), in the not-so-dazzling afterburn of the Roaring Twenties. And we know how.
    And so we can survive the Boomers’ Accidental Discharges too.

    Deo Volente, and with an eye to stealing the best tricks our past has to offer.

  29. You know, I wonder if Heinlein’s stories scared the politicians into restricting the space race because they saw that they’d lose control over us as we moved out from our blue marble incubator?

    1. I don’t know if it was Heinlein, but *something* put the brakes on the Wheel and Moonbase.

      Like I said a few months ago, that was during the Cold War, and the propaganda value would have been incalculable.

      Anywhere on Earth, if you looked up into the sky, there would have been America, looking back down.

      The Wheel and Moonbase were what NASA was *for*. Instead, we wound up with a timeshare on a Russian space station we can’t even reach on our own…

    2. From what I read somewhere, it was the transistor that killed the Wheel.
      Vacuum tubes and mechanical computers require a manned space station.
      Transistors and microchips meant you could have the same stuff in a lighter, smaller, and cheaper package… and you could have them right this year with existing boosters.
      Kennedy then pretty much put the focus on Apollo, and that was that.

  30. The “merchants of death who start the wars” meme long predates WW II. It really took off after WW I. It was heartily embraced by Western-state isolationists (who overlapped with the Progressives), and was a thing in popular literature for a long time.

    For some years, I’ve devoted my fun reading to pre-1960 mysteries and thrillers. One was a “spy” novel from 1935: The Budapest Parade Murders by F. Van Wyck Mason, featuring U.S. agent Captain Hugh North, who thwarts a plot by arms manufacturers to disrupt a peace conference in the title city.

    In the US at least, the “baby boom” coincided with the biggest peacetime military spending in our history, which barely slowed down even after the Vietnam War.

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