It’s a Fair Cop


It’s a fair cop, but society is to blame.

How often have we heard that? How much was it dinned into our brains in childhood?

Did you know it was a point in a Soviet dizinformazia campaign, one of several memes with which they willfully infected western civilization in hopes of bringing it down?

From Neocon:

—Crime is the fault of society, not the individual criminal. Poor criminals are entitled to what they take. Submitting to criminal predation is more virtuous than resisting it.

Yes, there are a lot of poisonous memes in that list.  But it was a bit of overkill. For unmaking civilization, this would suffice and is enough.

Why? Because it both removes all individual responsibility and makes it impossible to fix crime, predation and injustice without making society perfect.

Of course, to make society perfect, you have to eliminate all humans who are imperfect, until the perfect man emerges. Which in turn brings us to the 100 million graves filled by communism.

Because humans aren’t — can’t be — perfect. And therefore society will never be perfect.

Like all the most effective and poisonous lies, it has a bit of truth. The type of truth all of us will realize who are human and have from up as humans.

The true part of the idea is that of course criminals act the way they do partly because of how they are, and partly because of how they were raised, and the things that influenced their childhood.  Look, none of us thinks otherwise. We know. We know from our own childhood.  The things we feel we did wrong, surely wouldn’t have happened that way if we’d been told how they would affect others.  (Or would they?)

We know how our order of birth, or who loved us and who didn’t in our childhood affected out own development.  And if we have a modicum of imagination, we can see that if we’d grown up in a different environment, we’d have been criminals, right?

That’s the truth and the lie of that meme.

First of all, sure, the circumstances in which you grew up affect you.  The thing is, we don’t know how much, or even how.  And part of the reason we don’t know it is that it might be different for each person.  Nurture or nature? Yes. And to each person perhaps different.

But the lie…  We do know incentives work. They work on puppies, they work on kittens and they work on humans. Yes, they work on each human differently. But if you believe something you do is good and will lead to good, you can overcome a lot of your nature.

One of my funniest and most continuous discussions with my two sons is when they tell me they’re incredibly lazy.

They’re not wrong.  And I’ve seen them be horribly, self-destructively lazy. I remember the summer when they were in their teens when I swear neither of them saw the sun before noon, and neither of them did anything worth mentioning, except argue and watch illegal car races (Outside our window when we lived in downtown Colorado Springs.  At least outside our window that year.) Any request they do anything worth doing was met with sullen complaining.

But then each of them turned to what they must do to achieve the profession (vocation?) they wanted.  And they changed.

Which is why I argue with them. They are busy, scrambling-to-make-money-while-training-for-arduous-professions young men, and no one who sees them would say “lazy.” Because of what they want to do in life, and what it requires.

I understand them, because I am also horribly lazy. And my motivation often fails. It’s been more or less broken since I realized that traditional publishing would not allow me to succeed (by which I don’t mean that the format would not allow it, but that I’d not be allowed. That everything would be brought to bear to make me fail. Partly because my first series failed, and thus according to their broken model, it must be my fault, and if I look like I’m doing well, I’m really not, and their model must be proven right by refusing even a modicum of support to my work.)  I’m overcoming it. By main force of will power.  And yeah, sometimes will power breaks.

Anyway, the problem with that entire “society is to blame” meme is that it precludes that scrambling, that will power, that strength that is required to survive. It corrupts the idea that we’re all born with defects, and yet it is our honor and duty to overcome them, and that the greater the handicaps we’re born with, the greater our honor when overcoming them.

The problem with forgiving the criminal with “it’s society’s fault” is that it condemns the many people who were born with the same disadvantages and never committed crimes, and often did well.

It taints all success with evil.  You want to know where the poisonous leftist idea that if you’re wealthy you must be a criminal comes from? It’s in there.  Yes, it’s complemented by the stupid idea that all wealth is a fixed pie and no one should take more than “enough” but it comes from the envy and evil of that “society is to blame” meme first of all.

Because if you must excuse criminals because “society is to blame” (i.e. they were born poor or “disadvantaged” — and that word is poisonous enough in itself –) then what happens when people born in horrible poverty “make it”, sometimes to the highest ranks of wealth and power?

Well, if poverty makes you a criminal, then these too must be criminals, only they’re better at hiding it, and therefore extra evil.  And I just gave you the key to 90% of the mysteries written by leftists, in which the rich or powerful man is to blame.

And if people who “make it” are demonstrably not criminals?  Well, then they must have had “advantages” and “privileges” we know nothing of.  And there you have the ridiculous idea that if your parents read to you in childhood, or encouraged you to learn, or did anything good towards your future development, you were “privileged” no matter how stone cold broke you grew up and how many things went against you.

Both the words “disadvantaged” and “privileged” are broken in this use.  They don’t mean what they’re made to mean.  Poverty gives you disadvantages, but if you’re a grown up human being, you know there are many other advantages and disadvantages, that have nothing to do with monetary wealth. There just are, because society is imperfect, because it’s made of imperfect humans.  As for privileges, as Pratchett pointed out they refer to the power of those are in charge, those who can command a “private law.”

Reading books is not a private law, nor does it give you a private law. It’s a familial culture that, yes, helps in success, but doesn’t guarantee it.  I don’t know about you, but I know people brought up by book-reading parents who have never cracked a book open and live in the ever-shifting world of TV blabbing.  (And some of them still do well.)

It’s not difficult either for you — or me, or anyone with half a brain — to come up with the same history, one leading to power and money, and one to crime, and see the person described as “disadvantaged” or “privileged” depending on how you look at it and weather the person is in the boardroom or jail.

Yeah, there are really bad cases, where someone would need to be a hero to survive and succeed.  And yet some people make it, even from there. (Apropos that, there is this post from bookworm room this weekend.)

People will never all be born the same in the same circumstances, because society is made of humans: that is jumped up monkeys who can’t see the future and are prey to their impulses.

Even the best of us could never, ever ever be perfect all the time. It’s not possible. And it’s not possible to keep yourself from doing harm.  Just like every child who grew up knows he was a victim of injustice several times, every parent alive, ever, has a sackful of guilt for all the times we did the wrong thing knowing it was wrong, but at the time we just couldn’t do anything else. Our health, our emotions, our fallible nature made it impossible for us to do the right thing, or even avoid doing the wrong thing.

When you remove the responsibility for criminality from the criminal and put it on “society”, you’re demanding that society be perfect.

You’re also taking someone who has chosen to commit a crime KNOWING it was a crime (yes, lefties, most people know it’s wrong to rape, to murder, etc. Those who don’t already fall under “diminished capacity” and there are ways to keep them from harming themselves or others) and telling them it’s not their fault. That is, giving them leeway to fail/be criminals over and over again. Which means you’re entrapping them in envy, in evil, in refusal to change their ways. Because how can they if society is to blame.

Yes, I DO know we know now that people can be born psychopaths.  What we don’t know is what that means.  We do know that it doesn’t mean you must become a mass murderer or a career criminal.

But if society is to blame, there is no escape. Because society isn’t perfect, we can’t refrain from killing or robbing or whatever. We’re all damned from the moment we first draw breath.

I do believe how we’ve come to the point where much of the left must believe in invisible demons like “white privilege”, because you know, some people obviously come from somewhere profoundly broken and still make it. Something must explain it, in the heads of the left.  So, white privilege, and book reading privilege, and words and math being patriarchal, and…

We’ve also, sadly come to how socialism (which also accepts this tenet) kills, either directly (by say, denial of socialized health care) or by preventing reproduction.  If individual humans have no agency, what point is there in reproducing? We’re all part of a vast, collective meat-engine, groaning from evil to evil with no ability to self determine.

It also explains why they hate the more or less apolitical Jordan Peterson that much. He says “Sure, you’re made of snakes. We’re all made of snakes. It’s still your responsibility to clean up your room and live a decent life.”  This is anathema to “society is to blame, and therefore the greatest criminals are just victims.”  As it should be.  And it makes him an existential threat to the gospel of the left.

It’s evil. It’s an evil, destructive lie. Unfortunately I’m not even 100% sure the Soviet Union knew how destructive it was.  You see, it’s part of the Marxist creed that humans were at some point perfect, until property and “greed” came into the world, inaugurating the “capitalist” (the rest of us call it humans being humans. So that’s a lie, too) system, which then “distorts” humans, so society isn’t perfect and there’s crime.  For Marx this would all be cured when communism automagically descended upon the world with the withering of the state.

Apparently it never occurred to the angry inkblot that if humans were still humans, this would never happen.  Or that if it happened there would be no point to humanity, because all of us would just be perfect automatons living perfect lives.

Of course you were born in an unfair society. Duh. It’s human, created by fallible humans.  And of course, the way you were raised, hell, the way you were born is going to make you susceptible to errors that in turn hurt others.  OF COURSE it is.

Does this mean nothing is your fault?  Oh, please. Be real. You know very well when you choose to do wrong things.  And all it takes is ANY contact with the criminal population to know they choose.

Real crimes, not you know, the procedural crimes that infect our penal code, you know what you’re doing. You choose what you’re doing.  When you rob, when you kill, it’s not society doing it, it’s you. And telling you that you’re a victim, just enables you to do it over and over again, which in turn, of course, makes society more broken and allows the snakeoil salesmen of communism to come along and promise peace and prosperity.  Which, somehow, always turn out to be more power and wealth to those in charge, while the people below them, despite all curtailment of freedom (they must after all be made to be perfect) become more and more corrupt (because humans can’t be perfect. They can only life about it.)

It’s time to fight back. And the first place to fight back is inside your own mind.  No, society is not to blame.  No, you’re not entirely a free agent either.

Be merciful. Be as merciful as you can be, without turning the evil-doer into the victim and thereby being cruel to the actual victims.

And above all, be merciful to yourself. And demanding of yourself, too. The two are not incompatible.

Yes, you will fail. You will fail many times.  Anyone who has achieved anything knows it starts with failing many many times.  And sometimes it won’t be your fault (like I wouldn’t know that. Though part of it is, too, my fault.) And sometimes it will be.

The attraction of Marxism is utterly exonerating you and allowing you to five in to your worst impulses.

Like all such doctrines, it brings only evil.

Yeah, you’re made of snakes. That dinosaur brain, that monkey brain will betray you over and over again.

But you also know you have at least some control over your fate.  Start small. Aim high and start small. Do what you can to make yourself and the world better today.

Humans are born to strive. We’re not cattle or pets to live in perfect happiness.

Society isn’t perfect. It’s most of the time not even good. And isn’t that a great opportunity?

Do what you can today.  Establish your goals. Aim for them. Work towards them, even if they seem unattainable from where you are.

One step, two, and sometime in the future you’ll see you’ve come miles towards the goal.

Forgive yourself when you fail and keep at it.

There is no such thing as privilege, except the privilege of all humans: to strive towards what we want.  That is your very own “private law”. The law you make your own, with your own will power.  “I’ll forgive others and myself for failing, but I won’t hold myself excused from TRYING.”

There are disadvantages. All of us have them. Yes, many of them are invisible.

Disadvantages are there to be overcome. That’s what we are. That’s what we do.

And now I’m going to do at least a little bit of work towards my goal of making an impact on the culture with my writing.

And you go too and take at least a few steps. Today. Just start. Who knows where it will end?

306 thoughts on “It’s a Fair Cop

  1. Of Effing Course Society is to blame!!! If there were no Society there would be no rules that I would have to break in order to express my true self!

  2. I have a disability… I foam at the mouth and speak uncontrollably when people change the meaning of a quotation by omitting or changing words. Case in point: thinking that Balzac said, “Behind every fortune is a great crime.” No. What he actually wrote was, “The secret of great fortunes WITH NO APPARENT CAUSE is a crime that has been forgotten, because it was done right.”

    The first isn’t a misstatement but a perversion into what the Left wants to believe.

    For a contemporary example, see how Trump’s remarks in Charlottesville were misquoted by omission.

    1. I’ve always heard it quoted that way…”behind EVERY fortune”…though somehow I had the impression it was one of the Russian anarchists. But that was “property is theft”, from Proudhon…doesn’t even have to be a Fortune, in that version.

      Just the other day, a blogger who is Left but relatively sane and actually nice quoted approvingly “anyone who has made $100MM or me didn’t earn it, they STOLE it.” I was thinking of telling her that there are people I know well, personally and professionally, in this category, and they didn’t steal anything, but it seemed pointless.

        1. I believe there may be a sizable number of people in Philadelphia eager to denounce Bryce Harper for “stealing” $330 million.

        2. Well, she stole all those sales and readers from less-talented authors, you know.

          1. Less-talented? More deserving! There were plenty of writers producing top-grade gray-goo without resorting to tricks like exciting plots and compelling characters to move their books! Rowling didn’t even know to make her all of boy characters either ignorant thugs, privileged bullies, or hopeless clowns. She even had a boy (for that matter, a man: Snape) demonstrate self-sacrifice and the importance of valor.

            Absolutely terrible role-models.

      1. The idea that any profit that isn’t directly tied to materials and labor is theft is one that has been around for a long time. Primitive Christianity embraced it. So, for a variety of reasons, did the Catholic Church. And in another society entirely, Confucius felt that merchants added little to society and did not earn their profits.

        That transport, storage, marketing, and risk all have costs is not something most people think of reflexively, and many cannot be convinced of it without long argument t.

        The evidence that Socialist governments where all that kind of thing is taken care of by ‘experts’ (read; cronies of those in power) not only do not produce much choice, but don’t produce enough of what little choice there is, simply doesn’t penetrate.

        OTOH; I have a happy thought. I recall another year when the Progressive Left was SURE they were about to take the White House away from a Republican they loathed. They had the youth of the country with them! They were making Bold, Radical plans! They were SURE to win in a landslide! The Squares couldn’t stop them!

        Then the Squares got a good look at the mook the Progressives nominated, and McGovern won one state and the District off Columbia.

        I’m not saying that the Democrats aren’t going to do better than that in 2020. For one thing, their opportunities for electoral fraud are much wider than they were in 1972. But they are too goddamned sure of themselves. I think they are in for a nasty shock.

        Now, if Trump can only keep any overenthusiastic underlings from repeating the unwise and totally superfluous Watergate break-in…..

        1. That transport, storage, marketing, and risk all have costs is not something most people think of reflexively

          For that matter, few understand the concept of Capital and its risk — although Jesus Himself explained it in the Parable of the Talents. All of the elements you cite are associated with Capital, Capital which could have been placed in safe, secure, stable investments rather than risked.

          Transporting goods is still inherently risky — as train derailments, ship seizures, and other events remind us — but nowhere near as risky as it had been through most of human history. Stored goods are subject to spoilage, “shrinkage,” obsolescence, destruction, and other diminishment with no guarantee of recouping investment. Middle-men incur great risk and are primarily resented for it. It is human nature to resent the buyer of your product as underpaying and the seller of your purchases as overpaying — so Middle-men get it coming and going.

          1. Once had a container in shipment get tied up for a very long time when the ship it was on caught fire and was abandoned. 3/4 of a Million dollars tied up until the lawyers, insurance and international salvage laws were sorted out.

            1. The inability of people to grasp “cost of capital” and understand that “inventory” is a common term for “idle capital” would depressing did I not hold so low an opinion of humankind. When that container in shipment contains vital components needed to assemble valuable gods the cost can become even higher.

              I once worked at a Honda small engine factory where a delayed shipment of gasoline tank caps (running about $100 each – thanks EPA Regs!) held up our ability to ship a considerable number of lawn mowers, leaf blowers, and rototillers.

              1. When that container in shipment contains vital components needed to assemble valuable gods the cost can become even higher.

                I’d hate to be the one doing environmental impact studies for that business.

              2. When that container in shipment contains vital components needed to assemble valuable gods the cost can become even higher.

                *gets the giggles something fierce*

                K, I know it’s a typo, but…..

                Just hit a group in Final Fantasy 14 where they’re traders.

                The reason they trade?

                So they can get the most awesome containers.

                Why do they want the awesome containers?

                Because gods– kami– dwell in them, and that’s the source of their spellcasting.

                They’re trying to assemble gods.

                Thus, giggles.

                    1. I’ve heard that their “faces” are actually menpos that they wear. So the samurai analogy might not be totally off-base.

                      On another note, the Shadowbringers finale was great. ^_^

              3. this was split between chemicals used in printer ink, epoxies, or plating/electronics and those used for fire fighting.
                Oh, and our been counters at work hate the one division for all the inventory “just sitting around”. That fire in Texas earlier this year? We used ALL that inventory, that supposed to go to other orders and we borrowed 240 totes 265 gallons each from other customers in that area.
                Excess Inventory – sometimes it ain’t enough!

                1. It is important to understand what inventory is slack in the system and what is necessary margin, eh?

                  1. and the widget maker based ideas our bean counters and management think, consider any and all inventory is slack, and the only thing they want a margin of is their “Good Numbers” and think every business can be run exactly the same way as some knob who once read a Kaizen book part way through once told them.
                    Also “When can we get X Product shipped? It is Past Due!”
                    Well, once you pay the bill that is 200 days past due, and the raw supplier sends the ingredient, it takes 21 days, barring any issues, to make it, and that is assuming we don’t have Product Y being made as that uses the same Reactors.
                    “Is there any way to expedite making this?”
                    outside of paying the bills on time? NO.
                    21 days from getting the ingredient is the best case scenario. [insert explanations of the reactions and the time they take for each of 3 steps]
                    2 large fires, 3 special orders later
                    “Why hasn’t X been made and shipped?”
                    Well, you decided that even though we are behind schedule [deleted 20,000 word rant, mostly expletives, on how foolishly designed the manufacturing plant is] we were to concentrate on Finished Goods TS and MS, and we needed those reactors for 3 times the Product Y than planned so far this year. Also we need more of another Raw that is waiting for a bill to be paid before the supplier will ship anything to us.
                    “This is unacceptable!”
                    Yes, well PAY THE DAMNED BILLS! and maybe we could keep a slightly tighter schedule.

              4. Kamala (Not Mrs. Willie Brown) Harris was on another of her dictatorial rants today. If Congress doesn’t pass a bill preventing obscene profits in the first hundred days of Her Horribleness’s Reign, she’d ignore that silly constitution and stop their profits herself.

                Yeah, some meds are priced obscenely, but with the poor strike rate of potentially useful chemicals and the so-easy for Ms (notBrown) to ignore qualification/approval process, hell yes, they need to make serious bucks before the patent runs out.

                (I get a bit miffed at the high prices of some of the off-patent and/or now OTC meds; Humibid-LA was allegedly dirt-cheap as a prescription form of guafenesin. Mucinex, not so dirt cheap.)

                1. I am deeply irked at the ridiculous cost increase of insulin (specifically Lantus) which is the same stuff as it has been for ages…and yet somehow in the last ten or fifteen years has increased more that 300%.

                  (I vaguely recall reading that the little schmuck known as Pharma-Bro was behind that one as well as the AIDS treatment price increase. Dunno if that’s true or not, though.)

                  1. Yeah, I had to take a glaucoma med for a while, and because of some chicanery, an $80 medication went to $300. I previously had a similar experience with an optical NSAID. (Med got sold to another company, who jacked the price.)

                    1. Optical NSAID: I got a 10ml bottle 2012-13 for apparently an unremarkable price [meaning it was reasonable and I don’t remember]. I got a new Rx for the same identical medicine, identical 10ml bottle. BCBS paid $500 co-pay $100. Comes out to about $3/drop.

                    2. Ouch. I pay $19 for Lantanoprost 2.5 ml, Costco discount (no prescription insurance) for glaucoma.

                    3. Had to go with the NSAID because I’m steroid sensitive. Prednisolone works well, but the eye pressure went up to nasty levels. Thus the glaucoma med. I seem to present corner cases with my body. Guess I’m Odd in more than one way.

                    4. I have, more than once, found that the “pay full over-the-counter price” was less than my co-pay.

                      Lewis Carroll could probably have written a nice rant about how drug prices are… flexible.

                    5. The med I was on (briefly, thank God) was Combigan, one ingredient a moderately expensive ($80) drug, with the other *supposedly* inexpensive. Combine the two, and by the magic of drug patents, the manufacturer could charge $300. I think this was the 5ml bottle. The NSAID (oh yeah, Prolensa) was about $200 for 3ml.

                      The long term solution is “don’t use steroid drops”, along with “don’t get into a situation where you need them”. No more eye procedures scheduled, beyond monitoring the blood vessels in the eye. Fluorescein works really well, but you get the most amazing fluorescent yellow out of your pee for the balance of the day.

                  2. I am not conversant with the inner workings there, but could postulate a few. Producers may be experiencing significant increases in liability insurance for adverse side-effects or other elements of cost. Or, depending on how yours is being paid, it might be simply a matter of cost-shifting, say because government (Medicare & Medicaid) are paying 70% of marginal costs of production, leaving private insurance and direct pay to absorb the remainder.

                    It is possible the maker is grabbing for extra profits but I would look elsewhere first — right now any drug makers must know they’ve targets on their backs.

                    1. No insurance, not covered by either the pharmacy’s plan nor the state med program that every non-drug-insured person now gets crammed into.

                      It could be liability insurance for the combigan.

                      The Prolensa was unusual. When it came up, I researched it a bit, and the original manufacturer wanted out of that business because Reasons, and the buyer jacked the price. There was a bit of a ruckus a year or two before I got it, but the new manufacturer stood its ground, and kept the price.

                      On the gripping hand, post op meds are either dirt cheap or platinum-plated in cost.

                      Re targets: enough people are aware that Big Pharma had a lot to do with the push for Obama’s Unaffordable Lack-of Care Act. Those are Tannerite targets on their back.

                    2. Out of pocket makes a big difference with many meds. I was paying “over-the-counter” rates for several years before qualifying for Medicare and it was ridiculous — especially when you get to things like flu, pneumonia ans shingles vaccinations. Insurers negotiate huge (like, on the order of 80%) discounts on many drugs — at a guess I would venture it is due to a) volume purchase and b) in order t get some of the drug makers’ more profitable, more easily eschewed pills in the approved medicines list. An awful lot of what the government does is shift costs to insurers, and insurers negotiate deals with providers that produce some ridiculous discounts.

                      For example – a recent statement of benefits revealed that one recent month the supplier of my CPAP billed Medicare $220 of which Medicare approved $40.61 and Medicare paid $31.84 — the remaining $8.77 being my co-pay … which the provider apparently does not consider worth billing to me. That’s a write down of about 85% of the billed cost to Medicare. I do not have any particularly expensive prescriptions so cannot offer insight there — but I am confident that the same arcane pricing structure is in operation.

                      This is not to argue the drug prices are not obscene; it is to argue that they are obscene for reasons having less to do with Big Pharma greed than with arcane and convoluted pricing structures. Drug makers know they will end up discounting their products and therefore set retail prices high enough to enable them to discount and still make a little something.

                      Incidentally, that was what was behind the kerfuffle over Trump’s recent effort to establish transparency in drug pricing.

                      Oh, and as my Medicare Part D coverage is through Aetna and Aetna now owns CVS Pharmacies, wanna bet where I have to go to get my prescriptions filled?

                    3. I don’t know what is going on either. Our (well my half now – retirement before medicate) prescription coverage is horrible. At least my husband’s medications for 90 supply without filing with insurance was less than the 3 month equivalent co-pay for each allowed 30 day supply. If I remember right 60% cheaper. Once he went on medicare his med costs dropped more. The other eye opener was the cost of medications through the veterinarian VS Costco, if available. Hated to do it to our vet, but our last dogs heart meds were so much more inexpensive through Costco (1/3 the cost); yes the dog got the “not insured discount.” Vet didn’t care. They weren’t making money off the medication. My medication, the worst one I have is the $99 for the topical jell for Rosea. But that lasts a year.

                    4. In the case of Martin Shkreli (“PharmaBro”), the increase in Daraprim’s price from $13.50 to $750 per pill appears to have been solely a profit-seeking move. The fact that within months of the resulting furor another pharmaceutical company was producing an alternative with the same active ingredient for $1 a pill reinforces the notion that Shkreli’s motives were solely for increased profit, not due to increase in production costs or liability.

                    5. The very notoriety of Shkreli’s scheme suggests it is either the least poorly concealed or an outlier. I would put money on Shkreli the outlier.

                    6. I think the Unaffordable Lack-of Care Act never had anything to do with either afforadable or care. It was a promotion to get Big Pharma to transfer funds into politician’s coffers.
                      The whole scam of “price” vs “approved/covered price” has been a shakedown Doctors and Insurers have been running for some time. Drug makers just wanted to get a little piece of the action.
                      Add in Liability Lawyers looking for the unholy grail of the next tobacco class action liability settlement [50% going to the Lawyers] and the costs of processing paperwork for Federal bureaucrats that consider their primary mission is to grow the bureaucracy under them, and you reach the point where we are today.
                      Drug companies IP, IP lawyers and Government IP agencies, Government insurance, private insurance, Government oversight of private insurance, private insurance lawyers, patient claim lawyers, patient liability lawyers, production facilities, OSHA, EPA, FDA, unions, federal, state and local tax agencies, [all the others with a finger in the pie], is it any wonder prices are out of control?
                      I am reminded of that Federal Access Tax or some name like that on my phone bill and my cell phone bill [I embrace copper wire technology to p*ss-of Verizon if for no other reason]. Who couldn’t feel charitable to poor single mother’s with infants needing a home phone for medical emergencies. Then we find out “home phone” means top-of-the-line cellular smart phones, and single mothers have somehow morphed into any person receiving less than 4 × “poverty level” [WTF “poverty” is defined as, since I doubt any Americans actually live there].
                      But we dare not complain. After all, society is to blame!

                    7. I believe that the pharmacy’s buying plan is still active, but some of my meds went off their buying list, but they were covered by MODA (no idea of the acronym, but it’s the OR state drug plan). Ended up going fully with the state plan; the “computers” were randomly switching me over anyway.

                      I never went with Medicare Part D. Rumor has it that I should get a prescription for my diabetic test strips, and they’re covered under DME expenses. My CPAP machines were bought (non-insured, cash) before I was on medicare, and unless I have to go on something more exotic, I’ll keep it that way. (I *might* benefit from a servo type machine, but they’re $2000 or so).

                      I’m on four baseline medications now, and all are now generic, so the costs for a 90 day supply are sort of reasonable. Looks like I can refill all four for about $65. This is a hell of a lot better than some folks who are paying (or leaving behind) $200-300 monthly prescription orders. The pharmacy I use has a lot of older clients, and you see the leave-behind situation a lot. Around here, being able to pay your bills equates to being rich.

                    8. They pushed me off my ten (fifteen?) year old CPAP last year to one offering constantly variable air pressure (or some such BS – supposedly it monitors and changes the CPAP air pressure as necessary during the night.) The new one is quieter (less white noise during the night) and employs a more comfortable, smaller mask, one which would permit reading while wearing if I didn’t need reading glasses. Title to it passes to me after thirteen months, whatever that is worth.

                      It also has a satellite uplink reporting my sleeping performance — hours, mask leaks per minute, mask on/off during night and nuber of apnea events. It is rather handy for checking I am wearing the mask properly and would be reassuring did I not have nightmares about data privacy.

                      If you are actually using your test strips having them covered by insurance would probably pay for the coverage, as they (last I checked) run about a dollar apiece – if you test three, four times a day that can add up rather quickly. If you only use them to monitor your Blood Glucose Levels once a week or so, probably not cost effective.

                    9. When I first started using test strips to figure out patterns, I tested every 15 minutes to 30 minutes. Even then I could miss what was happening (not the low.) Needed (wanted) to prove/show to doctor what was happening. So we could discuss “what was too fast of BS drop.” The answer – “they don’t know.” That is when I got the prescription for the dog. With her, testing is much less. But was expensive at first.

                    10. Our insurance is through the union. Hubby’s is now officially supplementary to medicare. Mine isn’t yet. The monthly bill might hit $500 ($2500/deduct), before I qualify for supplemental. Should drop down to about $300 when I go on supplemental, then our options will broaden. No, those monthly $$$ does not include the amount taken for medicare.

                      Hubby’s 4 prescriptions run $60/90 day supply. Mine is $20/6 weeks and $99/year. I can’t get a prescription for the diabetic test strips, not diabetic. However they are how I got a (part*) handle on the Reactive Hypoglycemia after dealing with it by “not eating refined sugars on an empty stomach”, which is the “treatment.” FWIW. Inadequate doesn’t even come close. Did get a prescription for the dog (*)… but the insurance doesn’t pay for any part of her, not even the formal task training for low blood sugar alert.

                    11. I’ve always said I would NEVER get a tattoo, for reasons that don’t need discussion here today, but now …

                      Color-changing tattoos will track your glucose levels: study
                      Your tattoos could soon change color — and also save lives.

                      Scientists in Germany have developed tattoos that switch color with changing levels of glucose, albumin or pH — giving crucial real-time warnings for chronic diseases like diabetes, blood disease and kidney failure, according to a new study.

                      The tattoos are actually special “biosensor” dyes injected into the skin which show changes in blood acidity as well as glucose and albumin, according to research led by chemical engineer Ali Yetisen from the Technical University of Munich.

                      Calling the biosensor tattoos “minimally invasive,” the scientists said being able to continuously monitor key biomarkers would “transform personalized medicine” for people with chronic diseases.

                      “The applications of the sensors can be extended to the detection of electrolytes, proteins, pathogenic microorganisms, gases, and dehydration status,” the researchers stated, meaning they could help a “broad range” of issues.

                      The tests were carried out on pigs’ skins and have yet to be tested on humans, noted the scientists, who used an iPhone camera and app to evaluate the color changes.

                      They noted that such advancements would be fitting for such an ancient custom as marking the skin.

                      “Body modification by injecting pigments into the dermis layer is a custom more than 4000 years old,” the researchers stated in the paper published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Angewandte Chemie.

                    12. Nope. No. I’ll use Pepper. Pepper knows when mommy smells funny, mommy must go get something to eat, that gets shared with Pepper. Even if it is oh-god-30 in the morning … If mommy’s scent starts changing too fast, then mommy must get up and move (tends to slow the sugar crash), which means Pepper needs to induce mommy to come play, or do something that makes mommy get up no matter what (even if it is go chase the cat, go out back and bark at nothing …). Pepper is very good at this. Oh, yea. If mommy’s scent changes just right when mommy is driving, mommy MUST get all kinds of kisses, which the reaction shows mommy is paying attention … When mommy and daddy are hiking and mommy’s scent changes … Pepper tattles … It is a rotten job, but someone has to keep mommy in line.

                    13. RCPete. Medicare [part AB, I don’t have D] just paid for a new glucose meter and strips. I had the Doctor write out the Rx because the pharmacy kept giving me the wrong brand strips. I went to a different pharmacy and requested a new meter that matched strips that they also carried.
                      I was so frustrated, I really didn’t give a darn over who payed. And at least the frustration must have been worth it, because my A1C for the meterless period was 4.8.

                    14. Diabetes: For a fairly long time, I was diet controlled, and tested every third blue moon or round tuit. Got a bit more serious back in 2012, and was testing every third day until last year. Now, it’s every other day unless I’m doing a medical procedure/trip. Then it’s once a day. My A1C was creeping up (now at 5.9), and with a family/personal history of wonky heart action, the doc put me on Metformin.

                      Lifescan has been flogging the Verio meter and I figured they were ready to end the OneTouch system, so I got a meter from Wally World. As I finished the OT strips, I got more Verio strips, so I’m good for 10 months. Will talk to the doc about a prescription when I need to refill. These strips run about $0.90 a strip; not too bad for my frequency. (The Ultras were $1.40 each.) Medicare’s handled a bunch of procedures since I got eligible, I’m willing to pick up the small stuff.

                      CPAP: What I have now is my third generation of machine. Gen 1 was strictly analog, (paid through insurance) Gen 2 (digital, no recording) and Gen 3 (ResMed S9, writes to SSD card, but no phoning home) were self-insured. When the Gen 2 machine was wearing out, I found the Apnea Board forums and checked out the machine info. I already was using cpapman dot com for stuff (gen 2 machine from him, and various masks/pillows), and I bought there.

                      I use SleepyHead software to monitor the machine (see the Apnea Board for details), originally on my Win 7 box, and later I built a Linux version from source.

                      I have “clear airway apnea” and “hypopnea”, AKA Cheynes-Stokes breathing. Seems to correlate to stress (pain, life, whatever), but the regular doctor and my cardiologist aren’t worried. It tends to flare in common with my atrial fibrillation. A servo machine would fix this (might drive me crazy, so I’m not pushing it), but it’s about $2000. Until I hear that I have to get one, I’ll pass.

          2. Furthermore, people conveniently forget all kinds of costs associated with whatever they think is priced too high.

            I used to work for SUNCOAST (the video offshoot of media-store chain Sam Goody) and once the DVD shift had gotten well started, every couple of months I could count on some new twit coming in and ranting at me about how those DVDs only cost $1 (or .79, or some such number, it kept changing) to make.

            And I would point out that that figure was undoubtedly what it cost to record the data on a blank disc, including the cost of the blank. But that didn’t pay for the rights to the film, the cost to design and print the package, the shipment and inventory control, or the discs that didn’t sell. And they would always seize on that last and demand to know why they should pay for discs that didn’t sell. And I would point out that that was the price of having choice; unless they wanted to only be offered things that were sure to sell someday – like animated Disney films – they would have to pay for the inevitable flops.

            I got through to, I’d guess, about one in four.


            1. School photography. People complain about the costs, because they don’t think of the training, wages, equipment, and printer costs* associated with actual professional photographers, because “I can take my own photos and get them printed for less than 10¢ apiece.”

              There’s a reason many school photographers will sell you a digital disc for a moderate fee. They’re sick of people buying a single photo and illegally copying it, and are trying to capture that market.

              *A printer costs as much as a house. In California. With similar yearly maintenance costs of about 10% of the purchase price. The ones they have at Target or wherever are loss leaders (and smaller. The ones we use at the studio are fifteen feet long.)

              1. On the flip side, a lot of school photography is highway robbery.

                My aunt runs a photography studio. Yeah, they’ve got digital now– but the buying power of a dollar has dropped, too, and they can do a scheduled private shoot for less than my basic school pictures was.

                Hell, they could’ve driven two hours to our tiny school, gotten only a third of the kids to order the teaser-photos, and still have made bank on those prices.

                1. I won’t deny that, but it really chaffs me when people are complaining about the prices at the studio I used to work for, when I know for a fact that the boss-owners on salary are making an hourly less than minimum wage, since they spend so much time at the studio. It also doesn’t help that the national franchise (which does not treat its employees very well) keeps undercutting prices while having a similar drop in services, so this small family studio has to run on a razor-thin margin.

                    1. or, the wedding video effect “my cousin has a camcorder i’ll get him to do it”

                    2. My aunt started gifting people wedding photographer services. (probably partly because her husband is Not A People Person, and if she hands him the camera he’s more comfortable)

                      It actually got them a lot of business, although that’s small town.

            2. reminds me of folks complaining about gas stations and profit back when the stations were not allowed to make less than 6 cents a gallon and only the idiots were charging more than that.
              The distro made 5 cents!
              the refiner made about that, and if it was piped the pipeline got a few pennies a gallon, so less than 25 cents a gallon is profit added to the cost of a gallon.

              1. The way some people complain you would think they believe it gets pumped out of the wells and into the gas station tanks. I long ago calculated the various excise taxes and realized government is making more than those in the pipeline.

                1. The Gov’t makes more than everybody in most everything.
                  My work is one of the rare ones. The worst thing I got is “only” a 28% margin. but I’d have to get all the numbers, it’d not shock me if along that chain (much of it is also petrochemical) the feds were not coming out ahead. Probably are.

                2. The only time I ever saw my father actually rant and rave like a maniac (and just like me, tbg) was when some yoyo whined about how an oil company made “too much profit” and “didn’t pay enough taxes”

                  Dad worked for an oil pipeline company for over 20 years. He explained (i.e. ranted) that if Evil Oil Company made, say $100 million in profits, then they’d paid at least $300 in taxes to Uncle Sam, that profit margins for oil are cents on the barrel, and the only reason Evil Oil Company made that much profit was because they’d produced, moved, and sold an extremely large amount of product.

                  Yoyo, naturally, didn’t care.

          3. But the real cause of interest and profit is that goods in the present are worth more than goods in the future. There are many reasons for that, some real and some psychological, but it is so. Go look at any futures market.

            1. Phrase it perhaps as “Goods certain are more valuable than goods uncertain.” Risk — of loss, of spoilage, of obsolescence — is always greater fr those future goods, thus discounting their value.

        2. The idea that any profit that isn’t directly tied to materials and labor is theft is one that has been around for a long time. Primitive Christianity embraced it. So, for a variety of reasons, did the Catholic Church.


          I’m familiar with the issues with money-lenders and such, but in context every time I’ve looked it’s turned out to be “don’t abuse someone’s weakness” rather than “only physical work is work” or similar.
          Kind of like how tax collectors were scum because they were stealing, not because they collected taxes.

          1. Nod.

            There were two problems with the Roman Tax Collectors.

            First, they were required to pay the Romans a certain amount of Taxes but collected (and kept) plenty of money over what they were required to pay to the Romans.

            Second, in Judea there was a large number of people who disliked paying the Romans anything and saw the Tax Collectors as traitors.

              1. To paraphrase an earlier comment: That doesn’t sound historically right. The word Quisling was coined in 1940, I believe by Norwegians.


                But an accurate description, nonetheless.

                1. The term comes from Norwegian fascist Vidkun Quisling, who headed the collaborationist administration in oocupied Norway.

                  1. Yes, I know, I was playing off of the earlier set of comments regarding the concept vs. term eugenics, where the basic concept is vastly older than the term.

            1. Yup Roman tax collectors were essentially extortionists. (nice Bath House you got there be a shame if it burned down…). And of course the Jewish populous was NOT fond of being ruled from Rome. In addition one was often required to make sacrifices to the deified Roman emperors, also a big no no in Hebrew society (thou shalt have no gods before me…). I would say tax collectors socially rated below how we’d hold MS13 drug kingpins and slightly above members of Congress.

          2. It crops up in the Summa, and a few other places, with the idea of “just price” and that merchants who charged more than the cost of goods were committing a form of usury. Transportation costs didn’t count, according to some, so merchants should not charge more than they paid for the goods that they moved. Luxury goods were a little different.

            I don’t have the exact references quickly on hand. You might start here. Scroll down to “just price.”

            1. While the Mises writer doesn’t agree with the philosophy, what is actually cited there falls in line with what I was familiar with.

              Long quote:

              Like his predecessors, Aquinas maintained the necessity of a just price in every transaction. In examining his teaching as a whole, we see a number of principles:

              The merchant performs a valuable service
              The merchant can conduct business without sinning
              Buying and selling are to the advantage of both parties
              Misrepresenting the condition of goods in a sale is fraud
              Price is influenced by changes in supply and demand
              Price can vary according to location
              Price can vary according to time
              Price is a function of utility
              The just price is an estimate, and cannot be fixed with mathematical precision
              The just price is the current market price
              Price should represent the true value of goods
              It is this last concept that sends Aquinas off course. Instead of considering value as purely subjective, he maintained that “if either the price exceed the quantity of the thing’s worth, or, conversely, the thing exceed the price, there is no longer the equality of justice: and consequently, to sell a thing for more than its worth, or to buy it for less than its worth, is in itself unjust and unlawful.”[25] A seller who “has received more than he ought must make compensation to him that has suffered loss, if the loss be considerable.”[26] Just as “no man wishes to buy a thing for more than its worth” so “no man should sell a thing to another man for more than its worth.”[27]

              Where the economist is shocked a saint spoke of moral imperatives, rather than promoting his preferred economic theory.

              (I figure economics is science, and thus is silent on morality– get tired of folks confusing that silence with there being nothing worth saying.)

        3. remember, Progtard Prime err i mean Senator Sanders didnt understand why you’d need 23 kinds of deodorant…. so he obviously doesnt believe in biochemical differences between people, or even people who prefer different scents

          1. Heh. The NY Times apparently used, as part of its indictment of Space program sexism, the fact that they only have one basic model space-suit even though men and women sweat very differently, in different places and different volumes (apparently men really do perspire while women only glow.)

            Silly me – I was under the impression there were no significant differences between the two sexes genders general types of humanoid.

            1. Silly you – “Silly me – I was under the impression there were no significant differences between the two sexes genders general types of humanoid.
              There are NO differences when it can be used to bash men/America.
              There are SIGNIFICANT differences when it can be used to bash men/America.

    2. Trump’s remarks in Charlottesville????? Look at his tweets about “The Squad” and note the disparity between the reported statement and what was actually said:

      “So interesting to see “Progressive” Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run. Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how it is done. These places need your help badly, you can’t leave fast enough. I’m sure that Nancy Pelosi would be very happy to quickly work out free travel arrangements!”

      Nothing in there about any specific Congresswomen, nor about deporting them — go do it where it’s most needed then return and show us how you did it before you try to “fix” America. But the racist Gaslight Media only heard the “dogwhistle” and misreported the tweet in the most inflammatory possible way.

      1. I think that was a genius piece of Trump at work; to borrow a metaphor from Bill Mauldin, Trump build a shoe. If the Progressive Left wants to put it on and loudly announce that it fits…

    3. Heck, look at how they’re misquoting Trump’s more recent “go back” comments to the Squad. I have yet to see any of those yahoos include the rest of it, which was “and then come back and show us how it’s done” (Which was of course sarcastic, but a totally different meaning to what the screeching loons are pretending.)

          1. It is woefully obvious that any Gaslight Media or Democrat Operative (BIRM) analysis of a Trump statement begins with the premise that Trump is racist and then proceeds down the wrong trail from there. Challenge any Liberal for evidence Trump is racist and they’ll look at you with an amazement akin to a Buddhist asked to prove Karma’s existence.

            Which is admittedly unfair to Buddhists, who surely know their beliefs are not universally held and will not condemn you for not wearing their tinted goggles.

            1. And on the other hand, the sainted squad can do no wrong. Mark the media’s response to Rep Pressley’s profoundly racist remarks: “We don’t need any more brown faces that don’t want to be a brown voice. We don’t need black faces that don’t want to be a black voice. We don’t need Muslims that don’t want to be a Muslim voice. We don’t need queers that don’t want to be a queer voice”


              1. My favorite is Omar’s smirking about newscasters sitting up respectfully when they say “Al Qaeda” but not when the say United States or Army.

                Could that be because the first is a crew of rabid murderous thugs while the latter adhere to rules of conduct that protect the rights even of our enemies?

      1. The militia clause was stuck in as a justification for the new government requiring that its citizens procure and maintain proper equipment should they be called up for militia service. Separate issue from the main body of the Second Amendment which specifically prohibits the government from infringing on citizens’ rights to the means for self defense, a natural right that had been abused by our former masters, the British.

          1. Fond memories of adverts from Dangerous Dave in Montegue, CA. He sold (apparently legal) artillery a few decades ago. Not sure just what he had to do to keep from getting long stays at the Greybar Hotel, but it was a going concern. (I’m assuming decommissioned, not sure how.)

            OTOH, it is/was legal to own and operate black powder artillery. Got to shoot a 2″ naval replica a few times. Casting the balls was a bit of work, though.

            1. iirc it A: Depends on where you live B: Design (rifled is limited in caliber, I think) but cannon is legal to make or own.
              Bowling Ball Mortars

              1. I’ve seen a Coehorn mortar on the ‘net that was sized to shoot Bocce balls. I’ve seen another sized for golf balls–want to build that one. Bocce ball guy did a mountain howitzer with about the same bore. Only saw pictures of his test with grape shot. Effective.

            2. AFAIK, it is legal to own a cannon of any kind, modern or muzzle loader. Getting the ammo for modern cannon is the challenge.

              And while fully automatic weapons, that is, machine guns, are highly regulated, it’s perfectly legal to own a functional Gatling gun, with a rate of fire that puts most fully automatics to shame.

              1. Anything over .50 is considered a Destructive Device under the NFA (unless a black powder muzzle loader). Still perfectly legal to own if you have your infringement fee.

                Same with machineguns, except that you can’t make a new one.

                1. A few states have laws allowing you to build full auto firearms for personal use, if you want, as long as you do not sell/transfer it or transport it out of state. Texas had a bill (I think it passed) and Wyoming iirc.

                  1. Technically those laws are illegal on the Federal level. Just like drug legalization.

                    Of course the restriction is illegal in the first place, so it depends on what level of risk you are comfortable with, and how stupid you are.

                    1. I haven’t heard the BATF or cohorts trying to fight the various state interpretations. (I thought Kansas had one of the local laws, too.) A moot point for me, unless the State of Jefferson a) comes into being and b) includes us.

              2. The “bump stock” regulations have probably put paid to any sort of Gatling.

            3. Pre-1898 French 75mm cannon are on the ATF’s C&R list.

              “That’s not a gun. THIS is a gun!”

      2. they REALLY hate when you point out the Founders though of the Militia as “All able bodied Men. 17 to 45 years old” or so . . . Hey! if Healthcare is a right and the Gov’t must provide it . . . Being part of the Regulated Militia is a right and the Gov’t must then provide for that too, right?

        1. They also dislike pointing out that “well regulated” meant “can use the weapons effectively,” and that “arms” was “everything a soldier might carry.”

          1. Not just carry; they also meant for that to include things like artillery and ship’s armament. Basically, the philosophy was that if the government had it, then so too should the average citizen…

            Not sure how that would have played out, had the 13 Colonies had anything like nukes in the arsenal, but philosophically, they meant for arms to mean anything even remotely weapon-like.

          2. The most powerful weapons known to mankind, up to that point, were armed warships. The fledgling American nation, being poor, couldn’t afford to build a fleet of its own, so for some years leased privately-owned ships and crews for their navy.

            Those ships were the 18th century equivalent of atomic bombs or particle-beam satellites.

            The drafters of the Second Amendment had fought in that war. If they had meant for there to be restrictions on “arms”, they would have said so.

            1. Those Founders weren’t worried about ships being used to either overthrow or resist the overthrow of the government. They recognized the fundamental truth that a ship can’t control territory outside the range of its’ weapons…. and can’t even be kept running without friendly ports.

              Land forces, OTOH, worried them a great deal; it’s why there’s a clause in the actual Constitution forbidding disbursing funds on the army for more than two years at a time. Forcing your general to come hat in hand to the civil government every so often was one way of avoiding coups. They definitely wanted the citizenry to be able to resist the army.

              1. the end result of that two year clause is that the Army has trouble funding advanced research project that take more than two years…

        2. “Men. 17 to 45 years old”
          You must remember that this was who HAD to show up or they could get fined, prison, or just shunned because they didn’t show up.
          It is not who can show up or who will show up.

  3. Tell young blacks in the ghettos that they are poor because of Racism, then they won’t try to improve themselves.

    Thus the Lefties have more poor blacks to use to beat us over the heads. 😡

    1. And if you say ‘Ben Carson” or “Colin Powell,” the answer is, well, unprintable, but sums up as “They sold out/were helped, don’t count because of Reasons.”

      1. I have literally been told that letters of recommendation are the same thing as affirmative action, and so Thomas Sowell is ungrateful for his affirmative action rise.

  4. As a matter of literary history, I think Frankenstein may have been the source of that “criminality is the fault of society’s abuses” idea in popular culture. Mary Shelley’s father, William Godwin, was a big advocate of it. And Shelley gives us her creature built ugly, abandoned by his maker, wandering the world alone, and rejected by everyone he meets, and turning murderous.

    In the book, of course. The movies had a different criminological cliché: The creature became murderous because he had a defective brain. Again there was no suggestion that he had a choice, though.

      1. That doesn’t sound historically right. The word eugenics was coined in 1883, I believe by Darwin’s cousin Galton, and under the influence of evolutionary thinking and concerns about “racial degeneration.” The novel was published in 1818. It would be really science fictional for Mary Shelley to have been influenced by ideas that were current more than half a century later.

        On the other hand, “I blame society!” was a theme of Caleb Williams, written by her father—and now largely forgotten, whereas Mary Shelley’s version of the myth became immortal.

        1. The thought preceded the label by a considerable period.

          I believe the “Nurture” v “Nature” argument is probably one of the oldest in human thought, preceded only by the debate over from whose side of the family Junior inherited his [unadmirable] traits.

          1. While the “Nature” part remains somewhat constant, look at how the “Nurture” changes. From spare the rod and spoil the child to participation throphys.

            1. Note that that phrase “spare the rod and spoil the child” is not in fact in the Bible as many assert. Rather it comes from a lewd poem from a few hundred years ago that is absolutely not talking about children.

              Not starting the spanking argument either way; just poking one of those lies that refuses to die.

              1. Uhmmm… What the hell is Proverbs 13:24, then?
                He that spares his rod hates his son: but he that loves him chastens him early.

                Not to mention all of these similar cites:

                Hebrews 12:7
                Endure suffering as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?

                Deuteronomy 8:5
                So know in your heart that just as a man disciplines his son, so the LORD your God disciplines you.

                Proverbs 3:12
                for the LORD disciplines the one He loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.

                Proverbs 19:18
                Discipline your son, for in that there is hope; do not be party to his death.

                Proverbs 22:15
                Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him.

                Proverbs 23:13
                Do not withhold discipline from a child; although you strike him with a rod, he will not die.

                Proverbs 23:14
                Strike him with a rod, and you will deliver his soul from Sheol.

                Proverbs 29:15
                A rod of correction imparts wisdom, but a child left to himself disgraces his mother.

                Proverbs 29:17
                Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will bring delight to your soul.

                I think you might benefit from a bit closer reading of your Bible, TBH.

                Not to mention, Hudibras isn’t exactly a “lewd poem”; it’s a “mock heroic” quite in the vein of Cervantes Don Quixote, and was quite influential in its time as satire. Granted, the exact part of the poem where Butler uses the line is somewhat lewd, that’s not the nature of the work entire.

                1. Any time someone mentions the concept they use a very specific phrasing, which comes from the poem.

                  As for the poem itself: I hadn’t read it myself, only knew of it and it’s relation to the phrase.

                  1. Any time someone mentions the concept they use a very specific phrasing, which comes from the poem.

                    Well, gosh, they are also not speaking Hebrew or Latin, so clearly invalid. -,-

                    1. Humph!

                      If they aren’t speaking the Original Greek for the New Testament verses, then they are clearly invalid! [Crazy Grin]

                2. In fairness, it is a standard atheistic “debunking”; if you don’t find an IDENTICAL translation, then it’s not Biblical. Even if it’s a really obvious paraphrase. Being able to yoke anything sexual or perverse in is just gravy.

                  Somewhat related is this blog post, and comments:


                  (This guy is an awesome seeker-of-wisdom.)

                  1. Well, I also think it’s a fair cop – a lot of bible-sounding phrases make their way into our lexicon, and a lot of people (who don’t read their bibles thoroughly) just assume they are biblical.

                    My two favorites are:
                    Cleanliness is next to godliness!
                    Money is the root of all evil

                    First one ain’t even close, second one is actually “the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil”.

                    The phrase referenced is probably the least mis-quoted of all those.

        2. Thing is, thought fitting the category of eugenic, as opposed to having the label of eugenic, has been around a very long time.

          Man has been breeding horses and hounds for a very long time. Husbandry, and the domestication of animals are very old.

          Sparta and Rome quite definitely had customs of culling deformed infants. Now, strictly speaking that is not necessarily eugenic, in absence of an associated theory of heredity. The legends of sons of gods and kings becoming heroes might be understood as a manifestation of such a theory, but we do not need that interpretation.

          All we really need is the awareness that the eugenics movements of the twentieth century did likewise have an interest in culling people with deformities that we do not know are actually heritable. A mad fixation on the costs of deformed in a socialized environment in this generation, not just in the following generations.

          If we accept this broader criteria for eugenic thought, we can easily see that it well predates the coining of the word eugenic.

          1. > associated theory of heredity

            The philosophers might not have found the idea of interest, but I assure you that any farmer with chickens, sheep, or dogs knew precisely what it was.

          1. The ancients and our immediate ancestors were not stupid people. They lacked the science, but they certainly could observe and respond to what they saw.

            Sure, there’s no real genetic theories behind it all, but look at the way that they bred behavioral traits into dogs for an example. Damn, but Border Collies are nearly perfectly programmed fur-bearing extensions of the shepherd’s crook, and a Great Pyrenees or other flock protection dog is an almost perfect expression of an independent defender of those flocks. Those dogs are the product of generations of highly effective breed-work, which has created dogs that are practically programmed from birth for their roles.

            I don’t think the ancients were as off-base as we think, with a lot of this stuff. Sure, there were holes in their reasoning, and they had no real science to back up much of the “folk wisdom”, but they were not any stupider than we are. They could make observations and infer the cause-and-effect relationship as well as we can, and maybe even did a little better at it because they trusted their unconscious inferences a little better, that being all they had to go on.

            So, when someone tells you that there was “folk wisdom” that said there was such a thing as “bad seed”, well… I don’t know that it’s wise to ignore that. Our “primitive” ancestors did a lot of things that we take for granted, and which we really should not.

            Anyone who works with dogs like the Border Collie or Pyrenees has to recognize that there were a bunch of very canny and intelligent people working together over long generations that created those breed lines. One would be wise not to discount the other things those people came up with, as contrary as they might be to our current “wisdoms”.

              1. I dabble in folk medicine (not woo-woo crystals, but basic first aid and overall health; the plantain salve is astonishingly effective). In the process I’ve learned that many plants have differing nutrient/chemical balances throughout the day. I pay more attention to old wives’ “pick it when the dew is on the grass”-type instructions these days.

        3. Strictly speaking, the ideas that caused the word to be invented were a strong theme in it– we’d just recognize them as “eugenics” because that’s the fruit they gave.

          It does just mean ‘good stock’ after all, and the idea of “good families” is hardly original.

          1. I’ve read a Renaissance work in which one characters scolds another for his misogynistic diatribe, and one argument he offers is that the existence of great men proves the existence of great women — one does not pay attention only to the male side when breeding hawks or hounds, after all.

    1. When I finally read the book it was clear that “Herr Doktor” was a clueless twit and the only actual ‘monster’. The ‘creation’ was… non-ideal, but COULD have been guided. The big fiction is that things went was WELL as they did, rather than once and for all time huge feral “undead” humanoid-thing running amok.

      1. Back in the early 90s I read a riff on Frankenstein that had the monster come alive with a baby’s wail, rather than an adult capability, and the scientist ended up having to raise the monstrous child. Pretty much a happy ending to that one, with his colleagues talking to him years later with “I wondered what happened to you,” (he became a parent), and the “child” eventually becoming a professor and getting married—to a blind woman, but a sweet one.

    2. I remember an argument that the tales of Dr. Frankenstein and Dr. Jekyll represent two opposite views of sin; the first that it is Society and the second that it is innate in our natures and that giving vent to it is fundamentally corrupting, eroding our decent selves seeking to remain unblemished.

      Both are true, to an extent, because people and society are complex, and a society which instructs its young that sin is not their fault will find — unexpectedly! — that “crime” is more common than in societies which teach the importance of character.

      1. Victor Frankenstein’s reaction to his creation somewhat suggests post-partum depression as well.

        1. Not surprising; look at who the author was, and what was going on in her life while she wrote it.

          The work can be read as an allegory of motherhood and loss of a child, if you squint, a little bit. It also has roots in her mother’s death, her fathers distancing himself from her after remarriage, and a host of other things that went on in her life. She was probably writing it as an outlet.

          I read her biography once, and I was struck by the idea that it’s kind of a surprise she didn’t write something far more horrific, with all that built-up angst and all the rest of it. You find yourself quite sympathetic to her.

  5. Not to mention blaming society is a massive insult to the overwhelming majority of people sharing the disadvantages of poverty, broken homes, etc. that do not go on to be career criminals. Or even occasional criminals.

    Yes, a crappy environment reduces the barriers to criminal behavior, and the whole “blame society” memeset attempts to give an advantage to the criminals (since they make rather handy reinforcement to those who want to keep that segment poor and with minimal options).

    Despite all of that, the majority of people still choose not to steal, not to injure, and not to kill their fellow humans. An awful lot of them manage to live their lives without committing any crimes other than the idiotic crimes the increasingly complex legal code more or less forces on people.

    I do wonder what would happen if someone laid into one of the left leaning tools for insulting all the honest, hardworking disadvantaged folk out there.

    1. Those “exceptions” (aka, the overwhelming majority) are guilty of “acting White”, betraying their caste and seizing the benefits of White Privilege. They are race traitors and deserve opprobrium except where they encourage their fellow identity group members to eschew their example and instead practice resentment toward a society which has oppressed them.

    2. This … I had several good friends during my military service, who came from out of the ghetto, or from terribly dysfunctional families (sometimes both!) who wanted very much to escape from all that, and build happy and respectable lives and careers for themselves. They were succeeding in that, in the main.

      1. Generally, only as long as they can maintain a distance from the crab bucket they came from.

  6. the problem with that entire “society is to blame” meme is that it precludes that scrambling, that will power, that strength that is required to survive.

    If you are going to talk about the “content of our character” there will be no end to discrimination!

    1. In a way, I can understand why “content of character” is denigrated as a measurement by the left. A lot of them would be found rather lacking if they were judged by that standard. 😛

  7. if you must excuse criminals because “society is to blame” … then what happens when people born in horrible poverty “make it”, sometimes to the highest ranks of wealth and power?

    Contrariwise, what happens when people born to unearned wealth and power — say, Teddy Kennedy — commit crimes and abuse their power to protect their privilege unearned status?

    Of course, the only reason that Teddy could be born to privilege was that his father corruptly built a fortune. It’s turtles all the way down. Only the poor are without sin and therefore they are free to sin because society is corrupt.

    1. Poor Teddy was the victim of a self-driving car that just happened to go homicidal, drive off a bridge, and kill that nice young woman that Teddy heroically tried to save.

      Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go wash my hands after typing that.

  8. Of course you were born in an unfair society.

    Or, as I like to consider it, into a fallen world. And only by developing our character can we rise above our innate fallen natures.

  9. allows the snakeoil salesmen of communism to come along and promise peace and prosperity

    They’ve misdiagnosed the illness and their proposed solution is at best a placebo and more likely a greater poison, as Heroin was offered as treatment for Opium addicts.

    1. In we must bring a Marx into this, how about this one?

      Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies. — Groucho

  10. There is no such thing as privilege, except the privilege of all humans: to strive towards what we want.

    Oh, there is privilege sure enough, but it is less beneficial than many imagine. In many instances the privilege exacerbates tendencies toward laziness, to only applying oneself 90% and eventually 80% and then 60% — meanwhile, those who’ve had to work hard for everything they’ve ever gotten are acquiring skills and habits which will raise them above those “privileged” competitors who’ve never learned the White Queen’s lesson about having to run twice as hard as you can merely to stay in place.

    Bill James* once noted that African-American Baseball players tend to have longer careers, tending to retain “tools” as speed, power, and reflexes much longer than their White contemporaries. James theorized this was because they lacked the alternatives available to those White contemporaries: they couldn’t retire and go into their Father-in-Law’s insurance business, for example. Thus their lack of “privilege” condemned them t concentrate n maintaining those tools essential to their trade, to stick to careers paying them a meagre ten to fifteen million dollars a year.

    *Early in his baseball analysis career; for obvious reasons he has not publicly revisited this topic.

    1. Your recall and interpretation of Bill James differs a bit from mine, though the major point remains the same. I’ve been reading his work since the early 1980s. His comments from that period refer only to the early integration era, from 1947 to late 1970s or so, which included Hank Aaron and Willie Mays and Ernie Banks and Frank Robinson. This was a unique era in which Major League Baseball finally allowed Black players while most parts of the country were still practicing segregation and discrimination. Baseball made a sudden change that was taking decades in the USA as a whole.

      I find it interesting that in recent years baseball has become worried about the relative decline of “African-American” players, ignoring the large number of “Latin American” players whose complexions are just as dark. They are considered different groups. The backgrounds and experiences of foreign-born Spanish speaking players don’t have all that much in common with the U.S. born players.

      Pre-integration there were the Negro Leagues and barnstorming exhibition teams which used the name “Giants” or “Cubans”, Those two names in particular stem from an even earlier era, indicating these were not white teams. But while the Cubans may have actually had a few players from Cuba it was not a predominantly Spanish speaking team. And, in that era, they would all have faced discrimination no matter which language was spoken.

      1. I started reading Bill since the first national Abstract was published, and I accept your “correction” of my presentation of his argument. One interesting point about the Negro Leagues, nicely brought forth in James S. Hirsch’s biography of Willie Mays, is that they brought a level of showmanship to the game that Major League Baseball lacked. It took more than just Baseball to attract Negro audiences, and players’ entrance to MLB brought an infusion of not just talent but also joie de vivre to the sport.

        1. The showmanship was not only to attract black fans. Negro League teams played exhibition games more often than league games. Frequently those games were more profitable than their league contests. As a consequence the Negro leagues had many off days to allow for this. The quality of the opponent might be highly variable from one game to the next, and it was desirable to put on a good show regardless of circumstances. The home team provided the umpire(s), and hometown favoritism was expected. Though gambling was illegal almost everywhere, there was probably a fair amount of side action involved too. It was important to win but to also make it entertaining enough that a rematch was possible.

    2. Hence the domination of basketball for so many years. The math works like this: If 5% of players are apt to be good with practice and dedication, but >90% of white players have an alternative that might be more attractive than basketball while >90% of black players see basketball as their way out of poverty, you’re going to get a higher percentage of really good black basketball players even though they are a smaller population percentage, because a lot more of that 5% are going to apply themselves to become really good at it.

      The fact that it’s changing as more options become available to disadvantaged youth is a good thing, but it certainly held true for several decades.

  11. The other day someone posted a song, mentioning that “the monster tried the bars of the cage”.

    Perhaps less primal, but for those about to fight:

    1. Yes. I thought of this song, too, when listening to that other bit.
      Love listening to these guys on occasion.

  12. We do know incentives work. They work on puppies, they work on kittens and they work on humans. Yes, they work on each human differently. But if you believe something you do is good and will lead to good, you can overcome a lot of your nature.

    Which is why Thomas Sowell is always talking about incentives and constraints rather than hoped for (or at least stated) goals when it comes to judging a policy. They provide by far the best handle on what the actual results will likely be.

    1. Behavioral conditioning is something we ought to pay more attention to, and utterly fail to recognize when we’re doing it wrong.

      You want to know why things are going off the rails, examine the incentives for them to stay on the rails in the first place; they’re often not there, or we’re offering perverse incentives that make the behavior we want something that is simply not going to be obtainable.

  13. When we look back at these years, if we’re able to, what is going to be most striking to the observer is the utter lack of responsibility or accountability our society demands. Instead of saying “You did this; this was wrong.” we say “Oh, poor you… You were forced to do this by circumstance… It is our fault…”.

    On a society-wide scale, we’ve bought into the idea that everything is the rape victim’s fault–She shouldn’t have been dressing so provocatively!

    Quite where this all started from I couldn’t tell you, but the mentality has been growing since back around the early 1800s. It’s culminated in a situation today where nobody wants to be the bad guy, and instead of saying “You f**ked up, Jonny…”, and then holding Jonny to a standard and ensuring that Jonny pays the price for his foolishness, we hold his hand, apologize to him, and rewrite the rules to accommodate his malfeasance.

    You see it everywhere. It’s particularly prevalent with regards to false accusations, whether it’s some silly little twit trying to get back at Daddykins by accusing her casual sex partner of rape, or the Jussie Smollet-like incidents of “racial bias”. Nothing is ever done to these people, despite the Biblical injunctions against bearing false witness. The wise folk who wrote that book knew the invidious damage that false witness could do to a society, and that’s why those passages are there. Problem is, we’ve completely forgotten that wisdom, and gone on to commit folly after social folly with regards to this sort of thing.

    You sketch out the whole thing, from the root of it, you can almost see an outline stemming from what could be seen as society’s values and mores changing form from a stern paternalism to an almost crazedly indulgent maternal mode of thought and conduct. Witness the increasingly insane insistence by all too many parents that their little darlings could not possibly be capable of doing wrong, in any setting, and recognize the deranged form of defensive maternalism in all of that. It’s a social ill that’s been adopted across society, and I can’t quite put my finger on where any of it stems from, or what caused it to happen. But, it’s there. Zeitgeist? Maybe.

    The social commons are a creation of our minds, but those commons have a life of their own, a life-cycle, and a reality that’s entirely separate from the individuals that make up society. There’s a corporate wholeness to it, which we all contribute to and take from.

    If you think I’m wrong, do me a favor: Go out into communities around the country, and observe the little behaviors out in the commons: Do people put the shopping carts into their corrals, or return them? Do they leave them loose in the lot? How do they treat the public amenities? Do they litter? Do they have any regard for other people using those taxpayer-funded amenities, or do they ignore any boundaries that might exist?

    I think you can make a case that society has shifted over the last few hundred years, in some fundamental ways: Where once stern responsibility and accountability reigned in the public spaces, now we’re indulgent and refuse to assign or enforce such things. It’s probably wrong to characterize it along the axis of paternal/maternal, because some moms are just as stern and unforgiving as the strictest paterfamilias of Roman times, but the common stereotype in our culture has generally been the indulgent mother vs. the demanding father. And, I think we’ve shifted the balance perilously far in favor of indulgence…

    1. On a society-wide scale, we’ve bought into the idea that everything is the rape victim’s fault …

      If only. Thanks to Intersectionality we’ve decided that certain castes — call the “oppressors” — are automatically responsible for any ills while other castes — call the “oppressed” — are not “responsible” for any action they take.

      Case in point: #BelieveAllWomen which asserts that because some men have sexually assaulted some women, then all men are presumptively guilty of sexual harassment and deserve punishment, even if only for the crime of being male. Meanwhile, women are presumed innocent and any questioning of their claims or attempt at due process is compounding the damage done by being forced to live in “Rape Culture.”

      Any thinking person sees not only the unfairness this does to men but the harm done to women by unleashing their darkest impulses.

      But the fundamental process is present pretty much throughout human history, with different rules and standards applied to Aristos and to Plebes, to [Religious Group] and to Heretic, to Whites and to Blacks, to Elites and to Deplorables. The marvel is not that we’ve fallen back into that pattern, the marvel is we ever eschewed it — even if only in form rather than practice.

      1. Probably using the wrong metaphor, there… I did not mean to tie that in with the current mania, more that people are all too likely to be the ones blaming the teacher for disciplining their kid for misbehavior rather than backing the teacher.

        In other words, the people that get blamed are those who are applying social pressures. That Cuban guy down in Georgia who dared have words with the black legislator…? Classic example. He dared to wear provocative clothes and critique her behavior, policing the social boundaries.

        I could probably have come up with a better way of phrasing that, TBH.

        1. That Cuban guy down in Georgia who dared have words with the black legislator…?

          I find myself unable to accept her relating of events as valid and complete. I do not mean to suggest a black legislator would fabulate — I believe any legislator would fabulate, especially one with a (D).

          My belief in such fabulation increases in direct proportion to the likelihood of Media retelling the fable without any challenge to the legislator’s veracity.

          1. I grew up in Atlanta and my BS detectors went off the second I saw the headline. Plenty of people say “bitch” (not “son of a bitch” to a woman, because we value precision in our invective) and an *actual* racist might drop the n-word, but “go back where you came from”? In a city where whites and blacks have been living cheek-by-jowl in varying degrees of amity for centuries? Not *remotely* likely.

            1. ROTFLMAO

              The Erica Thomas story was a hoax, but it never should have mattered outside Georgia anyway
              A few weeks ago, nobody outside of Georgia knew who Erica Thomas was. Now the Democrat and state lawmaker has been the subject of national press coverage in the aftermath of a supposed hate incident that provided liberal media outlets the perfect opportunity to blast President Trump.

              Too bad it’s all basically a hoax.

              The original story went like this: The innocent, affable Thomas was just minding her own business in a line at the grocery store, when an evil, racist white man confronted her and told her to “go back” to her country where she came from. Seeing as Thomas is a native-born African American citizen, this was a racist attack and the perfect example of how Trump’s divisive “they should go back” comments directed to minority congresswomen are fueling a national rise in hate.


              The only problem? The man in question was actually an anti-Trump Hispanic Democrat, and Thomas has since admitted that she isn’t sure he told her to “go back” at all. Plus, he could have meant to “go back” to the regular checkout lane at the grocery store, as she was in the express lane with more items than posted signs said are allowed.


              But while these inconvenient facts certainly call into question the liberal media’s fact-checking standards, it doesn’t actually matter that the incident turned out to be a hoax. Let me explain.

              I’m a publicly gay man working in conservative media, so it’s possible for me to envision a similar scenario happening to myself one day. But if I was in a grocery store and some angry Democrat came up and said something homophobic to me, I’d flip them the middle finger and carry on with my day. I wouldn’t throw a fit and try to stir up outrage, I’d move on to something productive. Plus, something tells me that the New York Times wouldn’t be nearly as interested in using my story to paint a negative narrative about homophobic Democrats and they’d be right not to.

              A random person being rude to someone in a grocery store somewhere is not news. …

    2. I think you can make a case that society has shifted over the last few hundred years, in some fundamental ways: Where once stern responsibility and accountability reigned in the public spaces, now we’re indulgent and refuse to assign or enforce such things.

      Once the wages of failing to maintain accountability were death and destruction. As we can see in reports of rats and typhus rampant in Los Angeles, of San Francisco’s “fecal maps” and rotavirus, the gods of the Copybook Headings are warming up their chariots in preparation for return.

      One thing we’ve lost is gratitude — appreciation for the hard-won achievements of our ancestors and recognition of how easily those achievements, left unattended, revert to the mud from which they came.

    3. I think RES has a good point about lack of consequences being one driver. I wonder too if the absorbtion of the Ideal of the Feminine by the larger society is another element. Emotion, dependence, over-indulgence of the “helpless and ill,” excessive sensitivity… all the things that (according to people who never read the original sources) defined the ideal woman in Western society and especially the Victorian era have been turned into public virtues that warped into society’s vices.

      There’s got to be a much better way to describe and phrase it, but I’m currently wrestling with Victorian India’s social hierarchy as re-created on Shikhari, so my brain cells are a little tied up.

      1. So, I’m not the only one that sees that…?

        I hesitate to lay this at the door of sexual dimorphism, but the behavioral issues that are coming to the fore are the ones I normally think of when I stereotype the “indulgent mother” effect on the kids they raise.

        It’s not just a male/female thing, because men are all too prone to that sort of BS as much as women are. It’s more the inability to comprehend long-term cause and effect, with regards to behavior. What you allow today because you “feel sorry” for the individual transgressor will be the standard of tomorrow, because you can’t punish the next guy to come along any differently, or you’re going to get called out on being “unfair”.

        It’s not so much the lack of consequence as it is the unwillingness to actually deliver those consequences effectively or rationally. You see this crap all the time in the military–I don’t know how many damn times we had some malefactor dead to rights for misconduct, put them up for action with the commander under the UCMJ, got it all through JAG, discussed it with the commander, and then the day of? The friggin’ commander would feel sorry for the little turd-blossom, and not follow through with the previously discussed punishment and punitive action plan with the miscreant. I’d be standing there with my jaw on the floor as the commander would suddenly ignore everything we’d discussed beforehand, and apply a slap on the wrist when we’d planned a near-hanging to try to get the idiot in question to fly right…

        What I came to realize was that, just like with periodic evaluation reports, nobody wants to be the bad guy and actually tell anyone when and where they’re f**king up. It’s a social syndrome, from grade school all the way along to the rest home. Nobody wants to criticize, and nobody wants to accept criticism with good grace–You honk your horn in traffic, and what the hell usually happens? It’s taken as a personal attack, the subject of your honking starts acting like you’re the transgressor, and away we go–Road rage. Reality is, someone screwed up, and should accept the criticism with good grace and try to learn from it.

        Problem is, the general majority isn’t doing that, and I don’t know why. It’s like a society-wide mental “thing”, coming from I don’t know what. And, since I’ve been immersed in it myself, since childhood, I have had a lot of difficulty in recognizing it, or being able to say if it’s ever been any different. It feels like it was, though, from my reading of old books and magazines. The milieu, the zeitgeist has changed. Parents blame the teachers for trying to instill discipline in their whelps, and it’s their blameless little darlings that they insist on protecting. When I was a kid, holy crap… One word from the teacher, and regardless of the right or wrong of it, my ass was grass when I got home.

        Something’s shifted, and I don’t know what. I think it started back in the late 1800s, with all the deification of the mother in popular culture, and might perhaps stem from all the dead males in the Civil War. The shift feels like it started about that time range, but I’ll be damned if I can tease out the actual reasons for it taking place.

        I’m not sure it should necessarily be phrased in terms of sex differences, either–Although, that is a very convenient shorthand for it. Indulgent mother vs. stern father is a handy, if unfair and inaccurate way to phrase the shift. We’ve gotten way, way too indulgent, as opposed to holding people to standards in society, and that’s happened on both sides of the sex line.

        1. I must admit, it always strikes me as a bit incongruous when people here start talking wistfully of when parents automatically took the teacher’s word against their kids.

          I mean, I get it — there are the ones who won’t believe or won’t care in the face of all the evidence in the world — but I guess I’ve absorbed too many instances of teachers breaking that trust, even though mine were mostly okay.

          1. Spend more time around teachers, and you’ll get it. There’s been a huge change in the whole culture surrounding the teacher/student relationship.

            Which, now that I think about it, may well be due to the somewhat lower quality of teacher we have, these days. My grandmother and great aunt came from the era when a really smart, switched-on woman had few other options besides teaching or nursing, and the teachers were a very select lot, almost a self-policing guild. The crap you see today with teachers boinking the students…? I can’t imagine that being as normalized, in their era–The slightest hint of such a thing, and that young lady would have been out on her ass and unemployed. The old crones may have been judgmental bitches, but they were strict as hell about such things. They had to be…

            Of course, I came from a generation and place where adult infallibility was still a thing, and strictly enforced by every member of the “adult conspiracy”. These days, not so much–The values and mores are different, and these kiddie shows where the adults are depicted as hapless buffoons would not have played, at all. Ninety-nine percent of the current Disney oeuvre would have been destroyed on sight by my grandmother’s generation as unacceptable dreck. And, we’re mainlining that crap into our kid’s heads, not paying the slightest attention.

            Then wondering why we’re having behavioral issues.

          2. I think it is not so much longing for automatic “the teacher is right, you’re grounded,” and more “parents cared enough to bother disciplining kids if the teacher said they needed it.”

            Full disclosure, Day Job has a lot of wonderful parents who take teacher communications seriously. And a few who cannot believe that Junior or Juniorette is a problem in any way, because Reasons.

            1. It was the regardless of the truth of the matter bit that got me, I think. I just keep remembering stuff like the incidents where our hostess’s kids were being accused of stuff that turned out to have not happened. Sometimes the exact reverse, sometimes just that he was on camera not doing anything of the sort.

              The adult infallibility thing Kirk mentions? Heck. On the one hand, I want my daughter to respect legitimate authority and be courteous even if she doesn’t agree. On the other hand, she’s not even in preschool and I’m worried that if I let her go under somebody else’s authority, some SJW is going to hear her pretending to be Link and try to bring the hammer down about “social transition” being the “standard of care.”

              1. There are hard-core, serious, main-stream scolds out there about how not putting your kid in day care before age 2 means you’re socially disadvantaging them, because they can’t possibly learn to integrate properly with the public school students who have had that early training.

                Why, yes, I have started collecting points for next time someone gets on me about homeschooling….

                1. I usually tell the scolds who wittered on about Baby Brother choosing to be homeschooled (or when I said I wanted to homeschool my hypothetical future children if I could) that if you’ve got a homeschooled kid who can’t function in a social setting, then that parent was doing something seriously wrong.

                  Because the vast majority of homeschooled kids are not only fine, they can operate more comfortably interacting with people of ALL ages because they are not forced into an artificial social atmosphere in which everyone is segregated by age (and also possibly the first letter of their surnames).

                  1. It might not be the parents.

                    I HAVE most of the issues that folks point to for home-schooled kids.

                    It’s directly tracable to being in public school. Short version, feral kids. And I didn’t even get it bad, since I have a very supportive family.

                    Home-schooled kids with serious social issues have a good chance of being home-schooled BECAUSE of the stuff that gave them those…issues.

                  2. (I thought it might be genetic, but appears not– the kids are way more social than I am, basically they have no fear of social situations.)

                    1. No fear of social situations? They’ve probably never been beat up for looking sideways at the wrong person, failing to hand over lunch monies, or not stepping aside for the cock of the walk.

                    2. or publicly rejected by the pretty girl who led you on because she thought it would be funny, or ostracized because they finished their schoolwork and then fished a book out of a backpack and read for awhile, or quietly did your work while everyone else was acting up, etc

                      yeah, publik skewlz r awsum

                    3. Mine were less brutal, like the “popular girl” seeking me out to make SURE I was reminded we had 4-H sewing that night.

                      ….they had canceled it.

                      She had been told to make sure I knew that.

                      I hitch-hiked home.

                      Poor twit blew her brains out at about 13-15, after we moved.

                2. Pre-Kindergarten… you mean you now have to prepare children for Kindergarten?

                  1. That is the argument.

                    And yes, kids who haven’t been in the “raise your hand, ask to go to the toilet, get in line” system ARE harder to deal with in Kindergarten. You have to teach them to follow a silly system. See also, bosses not wanting to hire untrained workers.

                    …I think it’s partly a salve to the ladies who are upset they went back to work before they really wanted to. It’s a huge vulnerable spot.

                3. I’ve mentioned it before….

                  I used to worry about socialization with homeschooling, too. How were they going to fare, not getting the social interaction they would get in a public school setting?
                  So, I started beating them up and taking their lunch money once a week. I don’t worry, anymore.

              2. The adult infallibility thing Kirk mentions? Heck.

                If adults are going to be treated as infallible then they had better be able to live up to the full program. As usual we have a pendulum here: adults not being gods does not therefore mean that anything goes.

                (similarly “Respect for the Law” implies that The Law had better be something worthy of respect)

            2. I did not take the teachers’ words as gospel. I often sided with the kids against them, which frankly saved younger son’s life in middle school.
              OTOH I expected the kids to learn, and I never at any time thought I’d birthed saints.

            3. I get no communication whatsoever from the schools that son has been in since the move. When we were in Queensland, there was a communications app that allowed the elementary teacher to do virtual stickers – a variety of smiley, sad or frowny faces, with a little note area for ‘why’, that the parent with the app and kiddy code could see. The teachers also put down what homework was passed out during the day, etc. The kids could see the records too. The idea was so that the teacher could praise or chastise the child as needed, in somewhat less than real time, the parent would know, and there were in-class incentives for behaving well (and punishments for misbehaving were usually ‘you don’t get the ipad’ for most kids, from the parents at home, or the classroom one.) It was also a good way to have the parent get in touch with the teacher directly; which in my case was useful when I ended up in the hospital, the Housemate had to stay home with one kid, and son had to be picked up by the duty driver from Rhys’ unit, because Rhys himself was out of state. Or for the teacher to message me when the boyo fell and got a huge cut on his forehead, BEFORE the school office called me.

              The app was active an hour before class start (so if you needed to get in touch before school, you could) and it was up to the teacher’s discretion if they left the app on for an hour or two after school let out. The kids were in elementary though, so… *sigh* I rather miss it. It really let me work with the teacher on problem parts or things where son was having difficulty, so it was really good for parents who were keen on the parent-teacher-kid interaction. The current schools we’ve had to go through literally seem to expect that mothers/a relation are available at their convenience (the school office is only open half an hour AFTER school lets out), and if they’re not, you don’t get communications.

              1. Something I forgot to mention was this allowed the kids to basically have a corroborating way of telling their parent about their school day. It really discouraged fibbing since kidlet knew that I was in touch with his teacher and could check his day, and we encouraged honesty through it (say he threw a tantrum – he was very little then -) he’d get a talking to, and a punishment for the misbehaviour, but praised if he was upfront about what he did wrong and learned from it; but if he tried to fib, he would get a more severe punishment because of the fib. Such as perhaps not being allowed to play on the computer or watch his shows on the weekend (! Which was FOREVERS when you’re 5-6, nooooo~) but admitting and attempts at improvement might mean he’d lose his privileges only for a few hours, half a day at most.

          3. There were actually times and places when the teachers weren’t either lazy or over-worked, and you COULD trust their judgement on education matters.

            There’s only a few I can think of, but they did exist. It seems to be largely a matter of risk/reward and a highly focused mission. If teachers screwed up when my great-grandmother was a teacher, she wouldn’t have been kept on, plus her husband would lose the advantage of being able to get folks’ kids into the Indian school as an…incentive to work for him.
            Of course, she was only teaching ACTUAL EDUCATION STUFF. Not basic socialization, hygiene or for heaven’s sake SEX.

          4. > parents automatically took the teacher’s word against their kids

            Mine did. And I had way too many teachers who worked that angle.

            Not a happy time, but it taught me that when things went bad, the only one I could depend on was me.

            Maybe not the lesson they were trying to teach…

        2. I think it’s because we’re successful.

          What kept popping into my head was “cheap mercy.” Mercy where you’re not paying the price, just like cheap grace.

          We are kind of mentally inclined to let things slide when times are good– room for mistakes.

          When we’re under stress, we get nitpicky.

          …we’re in really good times.

        3. Reality is, someone screwed up, and should accept the criticism with good grace

          It took me a long time to accept it, but I eventually realized I had never corrected a mistake I didn’t know I’d made. If the criticism is made in proper (non condemnatory) manner I do my best to take it as an opportunity to improve.

          Of course, being a wallaby of vintage years I make very very few mistakes (other than typos.)

    4. Do people put the shopping carts into their corrals, or return them?
      I wish we would adopt the stick-a-coin-in-to-get-your-cart approach. Specifically at the places where people do NOT return them.
      Heck, I’ve always thought it would be a good way to get a dollar coin into circulation. (Not many, mind you, but enough for everyone to carry one or two about.)

      1. That didn’t necessarily work. *chuckle* I used to make decent money hunting around for carts that had been abandoned with the coin inside the slot. Housemate told me that if the coin hadn’t been pried out of the slot with a knfie, he also would make something like 20 AUD a day doing the same (which was a decent amount of money then…)

  14. I know it’s a bit of a cliche, but in my experience, crime is a matter of personal values first and foremost. In a developed country, there’s next to no chance of a Jean Valjean type criminal, a saintly martyr of society, relying on petty theft for basic subsistence. By and large, these are people raised in environments putting greater social value on criminal activity, while actual civil life is considered “selling-out” or whatnot. Even in ghettos, the people most eager to break the law are usually those looking for peer recognition from other criminals… or in plain terms, trying to keep up with the cool kids.

    Now, there might be an institutional reason as well. As much as general anti-police statement is a rather stupid mentality, I’m not excluding the possibility of scenarios where police officers themselves might sidestep the law, racking-up arrests if ordered to do so – presumably by a district attorney running for re-election. I’m not versed enough to say if that’s a realistic scenario, but if it is, then the group so targeted would have some rationale in believing the law isn’t on their side, and consequently, to view criminal life as more rewarding.

    At any rate, I find that the often touted reason of poverty is dead wrong, at least by itself. Same goes for poor education, or at least the concept that pouring money in schools automatically makes students more studious. Right about now, virtually anyone with as little as a $200 used tablet and a bus ticket to a wi-fi hotspot has access to a wealth of knowledge the previous generation couldn’t even begin to imagine. But, you can lead a horse to water, as the saying goes…

  15. Back in the late 80s and early 90s, there were some instances in which muggers discovered that their victims didn’t have any money in their wallet, and shot the victim in anger. This led to the conventional wisdom that you should always carry a $20 in your wallet so you wouldn’t get shot (and likely killed) if you happened to get mugged.

    Needless to say, when Thomas Sowell heard about this from a friend he was visiting, he was not amused.

  16. Only a lad!
    You really can’t blame him
    Only a lad!
    Society made him
    Only a lad!
    He’s our responsibility…
    — Oingo Boingo

    1. You know, Oingo Boingo has quite a few songs with lyrics that include social commentary if you pay attention. Of course, they also have songs about Clowns of Death and Bugs, but hey.

      1. It can always be a problem distinguishing between those mocking a view and those endorsing it.

        Especially when songwriters perceive advantage and threat on both sides of the issue.

        1. The quoted Oingo Boingo song is pretty clear. The “lad”, Johnny, keeps getting away with more and more serious crimes, and the song ends with the community trying to sweep his criminality under the rug in the vain hope that the problem of Johnny will just go away.

          1. Sounds like the DA in a nearby county, though her favored minority runs hispanic.

            1. Nope. Because his sob story keeps convincing everyone in the community – including the judge – to give the poor boy another chance. And another. And another. And another. And…

              After all, it’s everyone elses’ fault that his life is so screwed up.

              Though the reason varies, we’ve seen similar things in the past.

              1. Ultimately, though, they usually do something so heinous they get punished by the courts – if they don’t suffer death by misadventure first.

        2. I particularly like their song “Capitalism.” Chorus: “You’re just a middle-class socialist brat/ from a suburban family and you never really had to work./ And now you’re saying that you have to get back/ to the downtrodden masses, whoever they are./ You talk, talk, talk and you’ve got nothing to say/ your mouth is bigger than your entire brain.”

    2. So, if he can’t stop himself, despite his being a danger to himself or others, Society should give him a nice secure institution where other people can stop him.

  17. It is like the Thug who was only asking for Bernard Gettys to give him $5.
    He wasn’t trying to “MUG” just asking. He nd his ‘Friends” and their screwdrivers.
    After all it is perfectly normal to as a stranger for $5 and the stranger will gladly give it to you.
    And the Progressives said that the Thugs were correct there was nothing criminal about asking for $5.

    1. I wonder at what point those Progs would draw the line? If it is nothing criminal about asking for $5 is it okay to ask for $10? $20? $100? All you have on you? Is it criminal to ask if you’ll blow them? If they can party with your wife?

      I recall Ken Hamblin, who certainly knew what ghetto life was like, explain that, while it was “out or proportion” to shoot somebody for stealing you $100 television, it was NOT disproportionate to shoot that person for breaking into your home and treating your possessions like an all you can eat buffet.

      1. Sounded familiar, but the name is Bernard Goetz, arrested after shooting four thugs “asking” for $5, while armed with screwdrivers. He’s still not popular with the NYC media…

          1. What got Goetz in legal trouble was that he shot at the muggers as they were fleeing. From a practical standpoint, that may have been smart. But the legality tends to end the moment you or others are not in immediate danger.

  18. So: Criminals are not at fault, because society made them so, but rich people are criminals and must be punished, because their riches are by definition crime, and they are at fault.

    Integrating using their definitions: Insufficiently remunerative criminals must not to be punished, but sufficiently remunerative criminals must be punished.

    So the punishment is actually for competence.

    Why, yes, my head does hurt – how could you tell?

  19. ‘Society is to blame’ my ass… Shoot the criminals, save the state the cost of prosecution and incarceration, and it’s amazing how quickly an area can be ‘cleaned up’… A few years ago there was a comparison of violent crime/robbery in the DC metroplex area. DC was no guns/no carry, MD was ‘may issue, VA was shall issue. DC was the highest rate per 100,000, MD was somewhat less, with VA a much smaller percentage. And there was an ‘interview’ with a criminal who said words to the effect that he didn’t rob people in VA because he might get shot.

    And the world IS upside down, when those of us who have WORKED for what we have are considered criminals by the left… sigh

    1. Society includes the people who willfully, knowingly, and maliciously sabotage the criminal justice process. The criminal justice ‘reform’ types on the libertarian spectrum.

      Poverty in America is largely caused by that failure. Petty thieves with a drug habit have a free hand to prey on the poor. That ruins the incentives of the poor to accumulate wealth, because it will be stolen. Unchecked, it can get to the point of areas devoid of industry beyond the drug trade.

      Isaac Parker had the right idea. People’s failure to implement is largely racial hatred of persons of comfort with capital punishment.

      If these people are sick and need therapy, the correct therapy is wall to wall counseling.

  20. First, whenever anyone uses the term “white privilege” in my presence, I immediately turn it around and call them a racist for using that term. I tell them there is no such thing as white privilege. What matters to folks is having a loving family who will nurture you as a youth and will instill the proper values into you. Although I was a high-school dropout (in my “rebellious youth” days), my mother loved me. She lit a fire under my rear end and enrolled me in electronics school where I learned a valuable trade. I was then able to earn good money and support myself. (Yes, eventually, I got a college degree.) Although I was born white in the United States, my color wouldn’t have had anything to do with my future prospects if my mother hadn’t pushed me in the right direction. If I hadn’t learned any job skills, I could have ended up as a homeless bum. Unfortunately, the left has pushed the break-up of the family, and THAT is what has been the biggest downfall of society. It is also the elephant in the room that no one should dare mention.
    Another thing that separates the policitcal right from the left are their views on personal responsibility. The right believes folks should be responsible for their own actions, while the left always tries to blame their actions on others. Bill Whittle had a great essay about this idea on his old EjectEjectEject blog, but I can’t seem to find that essay of his online any more.

    1. I recall reading that the break-up of the family was due, in part, to social workers paying women with children only (??? Memory failure) when there was no man in the house. So, naturally, the father of her children could not live with her and her children. That was long ago and far away, so those who can correct me, please DO.

      1. Nod.

        The major Welfare Program is called “Aid to Dependent Children” and was basically intended to help women who had lost their husband (who was the wage earner) so that they could raise their children without needing to work.

        However, somebody forgot to establish that the women were widows so it became easy for women to continued to add children to the welfare roles without being married.

        IE The more children the mother had, the more money she got even if the fathers of the children were alive but hadn’t married the woman.

        1. Other way around– they previously had it for only widows, and it just kept getting expanded until baby farming took on a new meaning.

        2. I have heard that many gang-bangers take pride in giving their girlfriends an income. Most of those girls having grown up without the presence of a father don’t know they are missing anything by settling for a “baby daddy.”

  21. My childhood gave me every excuse to be a monster and provided me with all the tools to be an effective monster. I chose not to be. I get really angry at the “Criminal Minds” kind of TV shows where they explain that abusive parents and such “made” this person into a sadistic killer. Bullshit. Everyone has a choice. In both directions –someone who was raised in the most loving, nurturing home in the world can still end up as a torso murderer.

          1. Hm. Various search engines seem determined to return the ones in Cleveland, but reports pop up – mostly from northern states – every few years. And there have been several cases in Canada.

            1. I know I’ve seen individual versions pop up every couple of years– roughly as common as the “feed the body to the pigs” setup. (Digression, the Father Brown series totally freaking telegraphed that.)

              The big thing is that it involves an insane level of “this body is not a person like me.” Which is hella freaky.

              1. We had one around here where the attempted coverup involved a neighbor’s bulldozer. Both the perp and victim were town drunks (alas, no shortage of such around here), but the victim was a happy drunk. (At least he didn’t drive into town; his horse knew the way. The perp? She ended up in the current equivalent of The Cuckoo’s Nest.

                I have a vague recollection of a #MeToo defense, but a D4 caterpillar tends to negate the poor-oppressed self-defense strategy.

                Sounds like we missed an interesting episode of Father Brown before we debugged the DVR timer.

                1. Not sure why I hit moderation. I assume a typo on my part.

                  Take 2:

                  We had one around here where the attempted coverup involved a neighbor’s bulldozer. Both the perp and victim were town drunks (alas, no shortage of such around here), but the victim was a happy drunk. (At least he didn’t drive into town; his horse knew the way. The perp? She ended up in the current equivalent of The Cuckoo’s Nest.

                  I have a vague recollection of a #MeToo defense, but a D4 caterpillar tends to negate the poor-oppressed self-defense strategy.

                  Sounds like we missed an interesting episode of Father Brown before we debugged the DVR timer.

              2. WP put my last attempt in moderation. Typos for the loss, I suppose.

                We had a local case where the #MeToo attempting perp did in a fellow town drunk (he was liked more than her; town drunks all too common around here). Her defense fell apart when the jury was informed she talked a neighbor into covering up a pile of trash (and the body) with his caterpillar bulldozer.

                We missed a few episodes of Father Brown this season, due to DVR/scheduling issues. Sounds like an interesting one.

                1. No idea what the seasons of the FB series are, just now my dad had already seen it when I saw it in…Feb? March?… and that I saw where it was going pretty much as soon as I saw the pigs.

                  On the flip side, I did grow up with knowing about a local serial killer who did that.

                  1. SOPTV combined with the Portland stations for programming, and their schedule makes as much sense as Portland’s politics.

                    Just saw one where Wife #4 did in Wife #3 with home-extracted cyanide from cherry pits. Mrs. M doesn’t have much luck in the husband-hunting arena.

      1. I would guess that he’s talking the type of murders where all they find is a torso. All the identifying stuff having been removed and disposed of.

    1. Well, that’s bad television for ya. In real life, victims of child abuse tend to grow up as victims of adult abuse – spousal or otherwise – rather than become abusers themselves. That whole cliche is overused in anything from police procedurals to superhero shows… And the reason for it is that poor writers tend to create such characters as “villains” – as in, people who are uniformly evil and meant to be booed by the audience – rather than as criminals, with particular motives for a particular crime.

      Similar cliches also include the “criminal mastermind” – the evil genius involved in crime for its own sake… all while actual criminals tend to be lower than average on the intelligence scale. Or the “suave and stylish sociopath”, charming his way around the stumped detectives while always remaining one step ahead… whereas real life sociopathy involves a general lack of social skills and long-term planning ability.

      I wouldn’t be too concerned about these cliches to begin with, if not for the so-called “CSI effect” – where they start affecting people’s decisions in real life situations. It’s bad enough that Hollywood frequently fosters Luddite paranoia regarding science and technology, let alone making grand statements about society and human nature.

      1. A few decades ago, a talk show host would do his “ineptitude in crime” segment, showing the current lack of criminal masterminds.

  22. On the idea of advantage or disadvantage, I had a discussion where we were talking about the grass is always greener type situations. It was observed that when you wish you were taller, you never think about having to duck or hitting your head.

    Point being– “advantage” or “disadvantage” is situational.

    1. Mom was talking with a gent from Uganda the other day, and they were comparing notes about their childhood. Very similar. Which speaks to some advantages being universal:

      Parents with a reasonably accurate moral code who love you and make the time to teach it to you is definitely one.

      If you live somewhere where this is either despised, or so rare as to be viewed as “privilege” you’ve got problems.

    2. Airplane seats. When we all wish we were a 5’6″ size 0 woman. [Who I believe is who they actually design the seats for.]

  23. Good essay, and good links. Lots to chew on.

    From, IIRC The booksworm I realized:

    The leftist class system exists, and has nearly purged academia of anything like American opportunity described above. Race-base exclusion not only exists, but is protected. The Indian vs. Jewish vs. Asian lawsuits are revealing the extent of the systemic problems.

    Knowing that a corrupt society is taking steps – and figuring out what these are -to keep you down, is useful once the idea of personal responsibility is internalized.

    Back to work. And speaking of which, any of the middling to journeyman creators reach the point where they create objectively go’s work, but then struggle not believing that it was a fluke, and you won’t be able to do it again?
    Because you still mostly can’t.

    1. “Back to work. And speaking of which, any of the middling to journeyman creators reach the point where they create objectively go’s work, but then struggle not believing that it was a fluke, and you won’t be able to do it again?
      Because you still mostly can’t.”

      OK, you’ve totally lost me here. I am not understanding this.

  24. Sounds like your ‘lazy’ and my ‘lazy’ are the most beneficial to society sort of lazy.

    Perhaps it should be encouraged. (wink)

    I’ve heard of a number of people who grew up poor or in slums and ghettos and pretty much went “NOPE” and worked their darndest to get out, reaching for middle class and better (off the top of my head, Ben Carson and his sibling.) That counts as being affected by their environment, right? (I’m sure the lefties only see it as being ‘oreos’ or such, but they see anyone leaving the psychological, mental and spiritual reservations they put them on as EVILBADNO!)

    1. Pretty much. To the left, society is not only inherently stratified into haves and have-nots, but more importantly, that’s how it’s supposed to be. The world should be neatly divided into evil overlords and poor peasants, the sole exception being the great nobles leftists see themselves as, bravely defending the latter from the former. Consequently, any evidence of social mobility or equality of opportunity is a threat to them, because it ruins their power fantasy. And worse – it shames them for not doing better themselves.

      Because the vilest thing about this concept of stratification is that it’s convenient even for those who regard themselves as the ninety-nine percent… while still being in the top ten, globally speaking. It’s convenient to blame the system or whatever, to make up excuses for your own lack of accomplishment. It’s like the proverbial crab bucket, only when a crab does manage to get outside, it gets called slurs for doing so. For proving that it can be done. For implicitly raising the question – what’s your excuse?

  25. I’ve got this theory about why a lot of what’s going on is happening, and the reasons our elites can’t quite grasp how to make things work.

    I may be way off base, here, but the essential problem is that the people running things are essentially carefully selected and highly trained autistic savants, with no real innate understanding of the way things “really work”. They project what they think motivates themselves onto everyone else, and when that doesn’t work out, they experience brain lock. Most of them double down on the unsuccessful paths they’ve tried, rather than step back and analyze what is actually going on around them.

    Look at this from the standpoint of behavioral theory: Everything in your environment around you is what we could term “signal”. You’re constantly taking in and evaluating the signals your environment sends you, processing them, modifying your behavior, and then evaluating the result. All of this is going on unconsciously, completely unnoticed in the background, because we never think of it in those terms.

    Couple of months ago, I had a video brought to my attention, one that completely blew my mind, once I digested it and the implications:

    It’s about an hour and a half long. The subject is “Lying to Ourselves: Dishonesty in the Army Profession”. The speaker is Dr. Leonard Wong, and while I have the utmost respect for the good Doctor, the thing that hit me about this lecture of his is the shocked dismay he shows over what he’s recognized about the Army’s culture: The Army is training and conditioning people to lie.

    My first take on this was the one I had when I first heard of that study he’s referencing back in 2015–I literally said to myself “Oh, neat… Another intellectual has discovered that water is indeed wet…”. I never read that paper, never went past the headlines about it. I should have.

    The reason I should have is that I might have had the epiphany I did while watching Dr. Wong’s lecture for about the third time, which was “I… I don’t think these guys (Dr. Wong’s background is as a field-grade officer, who taught at West Point) really understand how the Army works…”.

    I remain convinced that this is the actual fact. These carefully selected and exquisitely trained officers are oblivious to the whole of what they do, and are completely baffled at why most of their “initiatives” fail miserably. The root of it is that they’re entirely incognizant of the fact that they’re doing behavioral modification, and they simply don’t think past “I instruct; they obey…”. The reality is that there are aspects well beyond the remit of command and control; you cannot simply make a decision, mandate it, and then expect that to take effect. Not when there are twenty other things in the environment surrounding the subjects of your mandate which militate they do the diametric opposite of what your words say.

    Nobody looks at the whole of things–The people running most institutions in our society think that all they need to do is make a decision, promulgate it, and then it will happen. Thing is, most of what they’re creating is actually just noise, while the actual signals out in the environment surrounding those they’re trying to influence are saying quite another thing. It’s not just the military, either–You can observe this disconnect with damn near every institution. Nobody is cognizant of what they are actually doing, or what is actually influencing the behavior they want to change. The model is “we say; they obey…”, and that’s simply not at all how it works.

    This is a huge problem, because so many of our leaders and managers are operating in complete unawareness of the realities, and they keep trying to effectuate change without understanding how to really go about doing such a thing.

    I’ve got about a book’s worth of thought on this, but while it’s a related subject to this post of Sarah’s, it’s also tangential to it.

    1. Thing is, though, they’re not highly trained autistic savants.
      Most of them are carefully-selected, well-credentialed fluffheads.
      You can tell this, because autistic savants would actually come up with original, good ideas once in a while. Our current lords and masters seem incapable of doing so.

      1. This. Magical thinking models of leadership are not unique to autistics.

        If you poke at historical regime legitimating narratives, you could argue that they are more the rule than the exception. At least where scholars are concerned.

        It would particularly be a mistake to conclude autistic savant if one could point to autistic savants who have studied leadership enough to work out that the magical thinking models are destructively wrong, even if they cannot use leadership themselves.

        Of course, my preferred label to go on the warpath over is stoner. I tend to ascribe Obama’s clear defects of thinking to his pot smoking youth. I would be very irritated by a claim that it was instead autism.

      2. No, the autistic savant explanation holds more water: Line up the DSM IV for the various flavors of autism in one column, and then line up the demonstrated characteristics many of these people have, and the congruence is scarily apparent.

        Were you to sit many of our institutions in a chair, treat them as an individual there for diagnosis, you’d find that a lot of them demonstrate all the symptoms of autism, and a certain degree of manic schizophrenia.

        The root of the problem is that we’ve broken the links between “academic knowledge” and what could be termed “tacit/tribal knowledge” that’s derived from an intimate understanding of how things work gained via experience and close contact with the institution. The people we put in charge of these institutions are all very high-functioning, intelligent people, but they are essentially blind to everything that’s not laid out clearly in a textbook they were exposed to in college. And, the academy has done a really lousy job of getting out there and understanding how the real world actually functions…

        These people aren’t stupid, either: Look at Dr. Wong. There’s a guy who is very smart, very switched on, and an officer I’d have like to have worked for, if only for the lunchtime conversations. But… And, it’s a huge “but”, the thing is that he was like a fish swimming in water, unaware of the water, all through his active military career. Look at the genuine shock and surprise he demonstrates, describing his epiphany about how the Army is essentially training officers and subordinates to lie in everyday life. He genuinely did not notice something that the average enlisted guy picks up on after about his first week of basic training. It’s like the Arthur Carlsen line from WKRP in Cincinnati–“As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly…”.

        I observed that whole syndrome early on, but I could never really understand why the hell the Army was doing that, throughout my entire career. It was “just the way it was; we’ve always done it that way…”, and I observed and commented on it all, but I never realized that the higher-ups were all unawares of the whole syndrome. The utter bafflement that Dr. Wong expresses at the whole thing is indicative of an institution-wide problem with the Army, and most of our other institutions: These folks really don’t understand how things work, or why things don’t work.

        It’s like that guy down at one of the local plants that processes apples; there’s a side door, emergency exit sort of affair, and everybody used it. He was pissed because it opened on the line where they process apples, and people were opening it and allowing contamination to happen. So, policy letter after policy letter goes out, new locks, alarms on the door, all kinds of crap go into implementation to discourage people opening that door. Fairly large money is spent on it, problem is never really solved.

        Thing was, none of these guys ever stepped back to ask the question: Why were the employees using that door, and always opening it? All the managers were baffled, it was briefed at safety and production meetings, and all the rest of the bureaucratic impedimentia. Company never could figure it out–It was an ongoing issue for literal decades. Why were the employees doing that? It was inexplicable to them.

        Then, they had to build a new building, and they did it on top of the old employee parking lot. The one that was on the side of the original building with the emergency exit problem. No employee parking lot, no more illicit use of that door. See, nobody had ever stopped to ask “Why”, and the reason was that the employee parking lot was on the opposite side of the building from the entrance, and going through that exit saved about a half-mile of walking around the warehouse facility…

        Had you actually asked anyone who’d worked in that building, as in “actually worked”, and did not use the executive/manager parking lot conveniently located next to the offices, well… You’d have known.

        Nobody steps back to analyze the environment that’s encouraging these unwanted behaviors. The paradigm is that management will just decree, and everyone will obey–But, since the incentives to do the things that management wants to discourage are still in existence, never having been addressed, wellllll… Guess what? Utter failure of leadership/management thus occurs.

        And, the folks who run these institutions are still running blindly down the same paths they learned in college, where it’s like that physics teacher who says “…assume a sphere…”. Perfect spheres exist nowhere outside the imagination, and that’s the place most of these highly educated autists actually dwell, oblivious to the real environment and its effect on their ivory-tower idealized pronouncements.

        1. Again, autistics would at times be out of step with the damn herd.

          Behavior that consistently the same across a group? Social reinforcement of some sort. Which is broken enough in autistics that you would see variation if autism were the correct mechanism.

          This stuff you talk about picking up from the people who are actually doing things? You get that because you have a certain minimum level of trust in those people.

          You would not have that level of trust if your background was instead an academic credential in mechanical engineering, and your experience with people outside of mechanical engineering was perpetual motion cranks.

          Yes, you can get an academic credential and still have that trust.

          Academia breeds people with very narrow trust circles. Hence, cut off from a lot of important sources of information. But the reason why they as a rule never look at those sources is because doing so would lower their status, and show that they are not of the tribe. That is normal social function.

          Additionally, applying the DSM to groups is not a valid usage.

          1. If it were just “trust circles”, then they would eventually, y’know, notice that things weren’t working out the way they envisaged, and then try something else. Instead, they keep trying the same thing, time after time after time, never recognizing that their technique and rationale aren’t working.

            Y’know why I think it’s autism? I’ve got this neighbor kid who visits periodically down the road, who’s actually a diagnosed honest-to-god with a pretty pink bow on top autistic-spectrum individual. High functioning, but, still… Diagnosed autistic. Mom’s had that conversation with me, and I’m pretty sure from having met him, he’s autistic.

            We’ve also got this dog that’s a complete and utter nutter; she’s out-of-control friendly, and has taken a hell of a lot of work to get to the point where I can take her out in public and not have her love the general public into the hospital.

            That occasionally-visiting family also has this dog, similar situation, a hot mess of a Golden Retriever. Loves the world, and wreaks havoc demonstrating that.

            Saw these folks last fall, after extensive work and time with our lunatic dog, who’s now a bit better behaved around strangers that she wants to love on. Meet the kid, and the kid sees that I’ve got a new pink Martingale collar on her. Immediately, he makes the inference that the pink collar is why she’s better behaved, and starts agitating to get one of those magic pink collars for their dog… ‘Cos, that’s gonna make him behave better.

            In a nutshell, that’s the same dysfunctional thinking you see at the higher levels of every hierarchy in our culture. The Army, for example? That whole fiasco, with the black beret? Pink collar thought process, right there: They fundamentally do not understand the mechanics of the whole “Elite Ranger Regiment wear Black Beret” thing, and actually honestly thought that if they just extended the black beret out to the “rest of the Army”, they’d all tighten up and get ‘leet, just like the Rangers were.

            Shinseki et al are still puzzled why that didn’t work. You can see the same thinking going on today with the snazzy new dress blue uniform, the one we’re replacing yet again with a WWII-style “Pinks and Greens” outfit. The brass still doesn’t get it, and never will.

            Autism on an institutional scale. As individuals, these are not stupid and/or purblind people: You talk to them one-on-one, and you can often get things across to them. Put them into groups, and the aggregate decisions you get out of them are generally so off the “will this work” scale as to be worthless for fiction-writing purposes. I mean, seriously–The whole uniform thing, with the Army? If they’d have just asked, back when, the rank-and-file would have told the brass that the pattern to go with was Multicam, not that mint-green digital abortion we wore for over a decade. But, they didn’t ask.

            1. That’s not autism, that’s disdain.

              Contempt makes you stupid.

              Those guys are enlisted, thus they MUST be incredibly inferior to the *genuflect, crossing self* officers, thus you can manipulate them like children.

              Even children can’t be manipulated this way. But many folks hwo haven’t had to be around a kid unsupervised for more than ten minutes think you can.

              1. Watch Dr. Wong’s lecture; gauge the response from the other field-grade officers in the room.

                The thing with TRiPS? Pause and analyze that whole systemic thing as a “pattern of thought”. The brass actually thought that having everyone be required to do an online worksheet/training event before taking leave would have effect on their behavior. This was a solution that they staffed, implemented, and actually expected to work.

                Meanwhile, the unexamined signals all around those junior enlisted soldiers? Oh, holy crap… Stop and think about it: TRiPS is intended to prevent people from driving on leave and pass while tired. What does the Army do, every single day in ever unit? Oh, yeah–We tell the troops “Hey, by all means, we’re gonna put you on an all-night duty, and then expect you to drive home in morning rush-hour traffic after 24 hours-plus of continuous duty…”.

                That’s not disdain; that’s obliviousness to the point of mental illness; the brass genuinely does not observe these little facets of what they’ve got going on around them on a daily basis; the idea is that they’ll identify a problem, staff it, come up with a solution, and then promulgate it. They never stop to look at the entire environment surrounding the soldiers whose behavior they want to modify, or what other signals there might be in that environment that are telling the diametric opposite of their desired policy.

                I don’t think it’s a class thing, or a matter of disdain for the troops. I think it’s that they genuinely cannot see the trees for the forest, to reverse a metaphor…

                1. The brass actually thought that having everyone be required to do an online worksheet/training event before taking leave would have effect on their behavior.

                  Of course.
                  Because those idiots ONLY did such stupid things because they didn’t “think about it” first– ‘thinking’ meaning ‘use my assumptions and reach my conclusion’.

                  It is disdain, you just need to look LOWER than disdain of people. It is an extension of the Army issue of treating humans like rental equipment.

                  It can’t be something new, because group punishment has existed forever.

                  1. I don’t think you got to spend a lot of time around the brass, over the years… I did, and most of them are not bad guys, at all. It’s not disdain; it is disconnection and an inability to grasp “how things really work”. They all mean well, but they keep doing this ineffective stuff in a state of obliviousness that’s truly epic.

                    I mean, seriously–Look at the annual budget fiasco: “Oh, my Gawd! We’ve got money left over! Quick… What can you think of to blow it on! Use it, or we’ll lose it…”.

                    This is usually taking place in near-conjunction to catching up on all the annual mandatory training, which usually includes a block of instruction on “fiscal responsibility”. And, somewhere in there, they notice that the ammo allocation ain’t zeroed out, so that same LT and Platoon Sergeant they just lectured and had sign a sheet saying they knew they shouldn’t waste money then get sent out to draw all the residual training ammo from that year, and go do an EXPENDEX with it…

                    Then, supposing that LT and Platoon Sergeant do something a little ill-advised later in that same year, and spend some money in an unauthorized irresponsible way, they’ll line the both of them up for a little UCMJ action, ‘cos “Fraud, Waste, and Abuse”.

                    You call any of these guys on this crap, once they get above about Major, and they’re gonna look at you like you’ve developed a third eye right about the middle of your forehead, and that’s all they’re gonna pay attention to.

                    What we’ve done, I reluctantly conclude, is that we’ve managed to institutionalize autism and schizophrenia on a service-wide basis. Because, if you ever called any of these guys out on any of this budget BS, they’d be in complete confusion over the issue: “But… But… This is how we’ve always done this…”.

                    If I were still on active duty, and had an evil destructive mind, as well as wanted to get rid of a particularly annoying LT, I’d put him up to calling the Fraud, Waste, and Abuse hotline to report the commander for tasking us with an EXPENDEX. And, then… Just sit back and watch the fireworks as the local area collapses into a self-referential circular firing squad of contradiction.

                    1. I don’t think you got to spend a lot of time around the brass, over the years… I did, and most of them are not bad guys, at all. It’s not disdain; it is disconnection and an inability to grasp “how things really work”. They all mean well, but they keep doing this ineffective stuff in a state of obliviousness that’s truly epic.

                      Brass, not always.

                      “Leaders,” yes.

                      They ARE NOT BAD PEOPLE. If they were, I wouldn’t be defending them so much.

                      ….even though I want to, because after being shoved into every bleeping photo related thing because I am not male, I want to be mad, but I can’t.

                      We’re talking past each other– “disconnect” is a result and factor for disdain. They don’t look because there’s nothing to see so they don’t see and who would look.

                      They MEAN well, but they really don’t know what they don’t know.

                      And yeah, truly epic is a good way to phrase it. You stand there screaming “are you for freaking serious?”

                      And they never listen.

                      For the budget stuff– the guys spending aren’t the guys writing the briefs aren’t the guys…. it’s an illusion of unity.

                      (do not get me started on the Filipino Mafia. I got new boots ONCE. It was because I was in the Chief’s mess. They were big enough my husband wears them, now)

                1. *sigh* Dang it, RES, must you do that to me?

                  Like I don’t have enough issues dealing with liter-involving-letters palindromes…..

            2. Unless it is a deeply ingrained blindness, and nothing that goes wrong could ever be an important reason to change things. I was originally attempting to explain blindness in professors, and source filtering and social reinforcement are sufficient to explain some of that.

              Army officers are actually expected to be able to solve serious organizational problems. Going the other direction, the promotion system is known to filter both good and bad qualities from the pool of active duty officers. (Look how few have the moral courage to make a serious effort at overthrowing the US government, for ex.)

              Officers and professors both usually got their bachelor’s at a very young age, as a step in a complicated career plan. Coming to a bachelor’s directly from public school means you already have an ingrained tendency to treat the lecturers as trustworthy*, and generally haven’t had the time in mixed age groups to be more discerning. The professors hand over a bunch of tools on a platter, mastering them is difficult, and you don’t see the selection process. That can lead to assuming that the tools are valuable, and were unambiguously correctly chosen. Lot of officers get master’s degrees in order to further their careers. A masters degree shows how and where to find the tools that get handed to you during a bachelor’s, but if you finish quickly you do so by trusting subject matter experts. At least enough to look to them for answers first. This can lead to situations where an engineering MS looks at sociology articles, and treats them as if they are worth a wet gnat’s fart.

              I also suspect that the services reward officers for looking to relevant branch officers for answers, and punish them for looking to other sources and getting things wrong. Other sources like an infantry officer asking a medical officer about a problem in the artillery or armor domains.

              If these observations are correct, you would expect officers to be primed to listen to officers with the correct specialty and additionally academic training a relevant field.

              I spent years listening closely to y’all, paying attention to most everything said, because I could remember more or less who said what, and adjust my models if, say, Jimbo turns out to be less reliable on certain subjects. I had attention to spare. These days I have a lot of the regulars figured out, and the process I use is less expensive. I suspect officers generally have a lot less attention to spare often enough that they get into the habit of looking to experts first, and not bothering to look or think past that.

              Beyond that, the Army is large and complex, and envisioning sweeping changes means a lot of variables to model. If you do it without orientation, you will get lost. Officers may orient by internalized understanding of Army bureaucratic process. (You seem to be orienting by quite a different understanding?) If officers are scared of looking at changes that are not understood in terms of bureaucratic process, we might expect the blindspots you describe.

              I still say that a single autistic and a group of autistics are very different animals. That a group of autistics converses more like the regulars here. That you aren’t describing situations with individuals who are crazy or boring on certain topics, don’t filter that when speaking, but don’t necessarily drag the group with them either.

              I’m out of spoons for the night, we are perhaps arguing subtly different cases, and maybe we are both wrong.

              *Otherwise, you might have lower grades or be less impressed with what you could learn from a university.

        2. No, the autistic savant explanation holds more water: Line up the DSM IV for the various flavors of autism in one column, and then line up the demonstrated characteristics many of these people have, and the congruence is scarily apparent.

          That is because groups operate on a system, and autism spectrum folks operate (or fail to) on a system.

          1. Yeah. I wish I had noticed that earlier.

            Would have saved me some writing and thinking if I had.

            Kirk is describing groups that operate on a sort of deterministic system. Groups of autistics are perhaps more probabilistic. Single autists may be more deterministic, and maybe what he is describing as normal is stochastic?

            It is clearly something we can describe in terms of information being filtered. Just as clearly, I am too stupid right now to get everything sorted out.

  26. Incentives…badly-designed incentive systems can lead to strange and harmful behavior. See Stupidity: Communist-Style and Capitalist-Style.

    …but at least the capitalist-style stupidity is eventually self-correcting, through bankruptcy of the firm if nothing else. The communist version is not self-correcting short of the implosion of the entire society.

    1. Imagine if Borders was state-run.

      Or look at the automobile bailout Obama’s people engineered.

  27. We’re all part of a vast, collective meat-engine, groaning from evil to evil with no ability to self determine.
    What you’ve just so pithily described is *nihilism*. And, yes, it sucks. It sucks for the nihilist and it sucks for everyone into whose life they intrude.

    Yes, you will fail.
    And we should make the distinction between “failing” – that is, not making your goal (morally or achievements) – and “sinning” – disobedience of the law (or the Law). Because we often use the first word when we really mean the second.

    The folks who are rotting in prison may have frequently failed, but they’re in the hoosegow for sinning. (Aside: There are incredibly few innocent men in prison, though some might be there for a crime they didn’t actually commit.)

    1. “Aside: There are incredibly few innocent men in prison, though some might be there for a crime they didn’t actually commit.)”

      50 years ago, I would have agreed with you, before the bureaucratic state got started on defining crimes out of thin air. Now? They may be “guilty” of offending bureaucrats but not much else.

      That said, the solution is to repeal the law rather than refuse to enforce it.

  28. There has to be a point, a line where you can say, “past this point, this isn’t your fault. Past this point, this is your fault.” The ignorant and untaught child, the mechanically brain damaged, the people that truly do not know better, can claim honest inability to have fault.

    But, if you know, if you have been punished for these things, if you have committed the act with no outside influence to commit it or stopping it, you are at fault. I wish I could remember that there was someone on Death Row in California, and they were claiming Fetal Alcohol Syndrome for the convict’s inability to know right and wrong.

    The Governor, in his denial of clemency, basically stated, “Yes, he’s been damaged, but there comes a point where the suspect had to know he was doing wrong, and still did it. And, that is why he was convicted, and that’s why we are executing him.”

    The inability to understand that…I don’t know what else to say.

    1. “The inability to understand that…I don’t know what else to say.”

      Militant refusal of Reality for personal gain. There’s money and social advantage in Lefty virtue signaling.

      One wonders how that’s going to look in St. Peter’s book when they get to those Pearly Gates. Personally, I wouldn’t want to risk it.

  29. Sarah said: “Yeah, there are really bad cases, where someone would need to be a hero to survive and succeed.”

    Yes, and in these heroic tales of survival and triumph is the engine that drives Western Civilization. “Never give up, never surrender!”

    These are the books which are no longer printed by tradpub, these are the stories no longer told by Hollywood. They are, to my eye at least, actively suppressed.

    And yet, as I noted in the above post and as can be seen every single time there is some kind of disaster around the world, MOST PEOPLE are not assholes. They run outside and start digging for earthquake victims. They rescue dogs from rivers at peril of their own lives. They run IN to burning buildings. They -always- do.

    There is also the “external reality check” as I like to call it.

    Check 1: If, as the Lefties love to assert, “Crime is the fault of society,” then why is not EVERYBODY in poverty a rapist/robber/thief? Hmm?

    Check 2: If crime is the fault of society, then why is the vast majority of violent crime in the United States stuffed into less than 2% of its geography?

    Clearly the “social cause” people maintain their stance and spread their views in the face of incontrovertible proof to the contrary. They are wrong, and they know they are wrong.

    Here’s the poser, for me. Why the hell would anyone do business with people who LIE like that?

    1. Yeah. If poverty causes crime, why not keep those of poor origins from having access to the means to commit serious crimes? Education can help people do both bad and good things more efficiently.

    2. In fairness, your point two actually works against the contention that environment doesn’t play a role–if it didn’t, one would expect crime to be evenly distributed, on a per capita basis, by population.
      However, it isn’t, which indicates that some environments are more conducive to good choices than others are.

      1. Yeah, but local environmental cause versus federal.

        The environmental causes sorts are pushing federal solutions.

        It’s the ‘we need to punish the criminals more’ types who think that the government of Baltimore is simply wrong.

      2. Except that poverty is common, occurring over a much greater area than high-crime locations. Example, there are many poor neighborhoods in and around Chicago. Only a very few of them have cornered the crime market.

        Crime does not spring from an -environment-, otherwise it would occur in the same severity and frequency every time that environment occurs.

        Furthermore on crime maps there is no “drop-off” zone as one would expect of a natural phenomenon. One block, no crime. Next block, all the crime. Five more blocks in the same direction, crime stops.

        When you see straight lines anywhere, it means humans did it. So the areas where pretty much all the crime in the city happens are an arrangement, not a phenomenon.

        There -is- a continuous rate for crimes, which does vary a bit by socioeconomic circumstance, but not by orders of magnitude which is what we see in those high crime areas.

        Circumstance obviously does matter. There’s no question about it. But circumstance does not -create- crime, any more than guns -cause- murders.

        1. Who said anything about it being poverty that caused it?
          Not me.
          I’d be willing to bet that, if you looked at all the high-crime neighborhoods from whenever we started keeping accurate records of such things, you’d probably find they all have a perfect storm of issues that lead to crime being an easy choice.

          1. Clearly you never said that. Lefties say it all the time against the evidence, was the point I was reaching for.

            Crime being an easy choice is IMHO insufficient to explain the situation. They’re making it that way deliberately. Its an arrangement.

        1. The most terrifying stat on that site is the 9.1% homicide clearance rate.
          I mean, I know it doesn’t work like it does in the movies and on TV, but you’d think they could do better than one in ten.

          1. On the other hand, the Chicago PD appear to often enough be corrupt incompetent jackasses. See the McDonald affair, which they mishandled so badly that they had to pay out damages and IIRC actually managed to get convicted in the case of someone dying strung out on PCP.

            I would rather have an honestly low clearance rate than a dishonestly high one.

            There are some other confounding issues, which I don’t have the time for, but do fall under not TV.

          2. “The most terrifying stat on that site is the 9.1% homicide clearance rate.”

            Yeah. That’s the arrangement part. You do your shooting on the approved streets, you don’t get any police attention. You go -outside- the hunting park, then the cops bust you.

            Clearly even the dumbest Plod can make an arrest when they’ve got video evidence of the crime, make of car, license number, and actual perp in the Cook County Hospital getting stitched up. Which is very common these days.

            But THEY DON’T. They do not make the arrest, they don’t even get out of the car. Because there’s a chain of bribery and back scratching that goes from street level all the way to the tippy tip top.

            No other scenario is sufficient to explain the observed phenomenon.

            The same situation in New York City was proven when Giuliani fired half the NYPD and began his Broken Windows campaign. In two years or so the super high-crime areas were down to the same base level as the rest of the city. Because ALL the assholes doing ALL the friggin’ crime were in jail. Why weren’t they in jail before? Corruption.

            Naturally the Left turns around and boldly blames Society and Conservatives for what the Left did deliberately, for money. Imagine the problem these guys are going to give King Minos, trying to decide which circle of the Inferno to put them in.

          3. They do…. when there’s a connection between the victim and the killer. Random drive-by? Not so much.

  30. I remember that line from a Monty Python sketch (“There’s a dead bishop on the landing”)

    So even then it was ridiculed..

Comments are closed.