Out of Weakness – A Blast From the Past From October 2016

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Out of Weakness – A Blast From the Past From October 2016

It never fails but if I’m talking to someone, particularly someone who is or thinks she is older than I (being mistaken is not rare) and the conversation turns to politics, they say something like “oh, you’re for small government and negative liberties because you’re strong.  You’ve never experienced weakness.”

The funny thing is that there is no point to my explaining, because they won’t believe me, but not only am I not strong, but I am unusually weak.

I was born severely premature — I fit in my dad’s size eleven shoe.  Yes, that is my family: faced with a severely premature child they didn’t expect to live out the night, they could think of nothing better to but see if I fit dad’s shoe.  The strange thing is that I’m one of two sf fans in the family — in an unheated stone house round about the Cuban missile crisis. Until I was 12, I spent more time bedridden than standing on my own two feet.  You name it, I caught it, and I probably caught things that no one has caught since the middle ages and which, as they swept the village, never got a name because they were just “one of those things.”) I probably had the scrubbies, the gnats and the gurgling peas.  (Part of this is that we lived in close intimacy with animals and with sewage both human and animal.  As most humans have, for most of history.)

Granted, after 12 or so I didn’t get sick more than normal human beings, but I still have some deficits.  Part of my fear of driving is that I know I have never been good at physical things.  I can in fact screw up something that requires coordination and agility and which I’ve executed perfectly a million times simply by THINKING about it.  And I think too much.  I swear whoever put me together left out the instinct module.  There are things everyone else seems to know that I have to reason through, painfully.  And sometimes I get it better than other people seem to, and sometimes I screw it incalculably worse, and I can never TELL which.

Besides, to compensate for no longer being sickly, I decided I needed other kinds of handicaps, and so I got married abroad.  Not only abroad, but in one of the few places in the world in which neither mom or dad can claim relatives.  Sure, we now have a network, of sorts, but we’ve gone through vast portions of our life where if we (or we and the kids, later) died in our house, no one would ever find out.  Dan’s employer might get upset, but I don’t know if they’d have looked.  And the same for the kids school.  Chances are that eventually the house would get foreclosed and the new owners would get a surprise.

That type of isolation has its own weaknesses built in.  When the kids were little, this was mostly that there was no one to lend a hand.  Not even just the big important things, but for the little “all the time things.”  No matter what else was going on, kids needed to be taken care of, house needed to be at least minimally sanitary, food had to be put on the table.  And I suspect this is what some of the people who have argued with me think is “strength” but it is not.  It’s the direst weakness.  I had no give, I had no margin, I had to keep going till I got sick, and then I had to keep going when I was sick, because people depended on me.  My kids and my husband depended on me (these were mostly the early days when Dan was working often 16 hour days) to keep the house running in such a way they had food and a place to sleep and weren’t unduly disturbed.  And my husband depended on me to write, because when we got married he gave up his music and took a job that would take a lot of his time, so I could write, because my money was our retirement.  The only retirement we could hope for.  (I’m hoping for it, still.  I have hopes, now there’s Indie.)  Because though both of us intend to die with our fingers on the keyboard, we know old age means more of what my childhood was like: there will be times we can’t earn our keep no matter how we try.

So I know weakness.  And it is out of weakness that I believe government should be small, almost powerless, providing to individuals only that which needs coordination and cooperation of many: mutual defense, for instance.  I believe each of government’s actions should be overseen, watched for potential violations of liberty and cut back if there is a shadow of a doubt over its unintended consequences.

Usually in this part of the discussion, I get accused of wanting widows and orphans to starve in the dark.

Which is not just not the point, but is entirely beside the point.

Look, humans are tribal and therefore we identify with the weak and the needy in our group.  And our group can and sometimes does extend to all the world.

I think it’s no small part of the fact we are the dominant species in this world (after grass) and have conquered all types of habitats, that we DO look after the weak.  As far back as we go we find skeletons with the marks of injuries and illnesses they could not have survived without everyone rallying around.  Even some of our cousins, now extinct or absorbed, were like that.  This is probably because cousin Gugr, who broke his arm and can’t throw the spear, can sit around the cave long enough till he figures a way to make fire, or perhaps to make a new type of spear, or perhaps —  Human invention often comes out of enforced idleness, so such a scenario is at least plausible — basket weaving or pottery.

However, what we have to think about is two fold — charity is a wonderful thing.  Looking after the poor and the weak is a great thing but — Who should do it?  AND Should it be a right?

The who should do it is important.  The so called “positive liberties” which our current [at the time Obama] president is very fond of include some doozies.  I think — but someone can fill in here, since I only think so because I heard it from sympathizers — the Soviet Union guaranteed housing, food and a job.  At least that’s the sort of thing proponents of positive liberties here wish to grant everyone.  Oh, and health care, transportation and, for the more daring ones, the right to free entertainment.

We agree these are all lovely things.  Things we would all like to have.  H*ll if I didn’t spend half of my time worrying about money (I know, I know, but the boys will be out of college in two and a half years [both managed to have to add an year. ARGH] and off our payroll) imagine the art I could create.  (More on this later.)

But who should do that?  Who has the power to grant these “positive liberties?”  The only entity large enough is a powerful government.  In the US a federal government.

So a lot of people (including the current president [Mr. Obama]) think that it is the duty of the government to do this.  Because you’re not truly free if you don’t have a car to drive wherever you want, or a place to live, or–

But the key word here is not freedom.  It’s liberty.  And liberty for what?  Life and the pursuit of happiness.

Let me back track: as beautiful as those ideas sound and as much as, as an idealistic 14 year old I’d have told you yes, yes, we need positive liberties, any adult who keeps on thinking they’re a bright idea is either not really an adult in mind, or is so thoroughly indoctrinated he never thought through the consequences.

When you say someone should have “housing and food, a car, entertainment, health care” you’re not saying that angels will come down from heaven and grant this.  Or if you are, you really should tell us how to summon these angels.  What you’re saying is “we should violate someone’s most basic and fundamental liberties so that someone else can be the equivalent of a trustfund baby with never a worry in the world.”

Whose liberties?  Well, builders and farmers, entertainers and doctors.  And while you might think those people can “give” you’re not thinking of scale.  If “everyone” is entitled to this what you’re saying is that these people have to work so that other people can have everything for free even without doing anything.

And if you say this is just a safety net, for when people fall through all the rest, you’re still missing the point that somewhere along the line you’re taking people’s labor and people’s goods to give to others, and since no human institution was ever free of fraud, and since that type of giving creates INCENTIVES for fraud, what you’re doing is taking from those who work to give to those who choose not to.  At which point I must ask, who died and made you god, precisely, that you would take from others their G-d given liberties, those that exist if no one violates them?

And if you make these things a “right” people WILL stop working (enough experiments with guaranteed minimum income show just that.  People can live on very little indeed, provided they have to do nothing for it and there’s no stigma attached to living from it.  Oh, they’ll agitate for more, and therefore empower the government to give more and more “rights” on the back of fewer and fewer people working until–

We have readers here who grew up in the Soviet Union. They can tell you how the end state of this is people doing less and less while demanding more and more, till everyone is living in dire poverty and bitching about deserving the stars.

But let’s leave aside the fact it doesn’t work on the macro-level: does it work on the micro-level?

Humans are scavengers.  This means we are instinctually designed to bring down (or more likely initially find) mammoth and then sit around and eat till mammoth all gone or too rotten to eat.  We’re not instinctually designed to run around killing more mammoth while we still have mammoth because animals that act that way deplete the food supply and starve.

I too have illusions.  One of my favorite games when stressed over money, is to buy a lottery ticket and spend a few days fantasizing about what I would do with 100 million or whatever.  And the first thing that comes to mind is “I’d write a lot.”  I might even do it.  I’m broken on the instinct front. But most people wouldn’t.  It doesn’t matter whom we’re talking about, someone always says “Yeah, he wrote those novels when he was paying a mortgage/putting his kids through college/paying off his divorce”  This is always and inevitably the writer’s best work.

Sure there are others, people of means who spent years perfecting the single, beautiful work they’re known for.  But they’re not nearly as many.

In the end that’s the worst thing.  Grant everyone “positive liberties” and you turn the country into a huge project.  No, I mean Cabrini Green type project.

Humans who don’t have to strive, and who by virtue of the system, don’t have the hope of getting much better, turn to the old human pastimes: fornication, fighting and mind-altering substances.  (Yes, I DID try to come up with an f.  No caffeine yet.)

You see it in the very wealthy throughout history, that sort of enui and a kind of “active despair”, the feeling that life is meaningless, and the appearance in them of all the vices of mankind.

The end of it is the destruction of the human, himself.  Humans are made to strive.  Remove the strife and we become less than human.  Apes, with too much time on our hands, and nothing to strive for.  When cousin Gugr was lying about in the cave with a broken arm, if he invented a new spear or a better way to preserve mammoth meat, he did it because he was conscious that without him the tribe was vulnerable, and he must find a way to compensate.

If you have no one dependent on you, nothing that you absolutely need to do, no matter how you feel, at best you go through life doing nothing and being nothing.  At worst, you find ways to introduce strife to your life.

I won’t say that I think we should eliminate all social programs.  I don’t say it, because I don’t think it’s achievable. Though with winter coming and the mess in the world, who knows?

And no, I don’t mean I want widows and orphans to starve.  I wouldn’t let any starve that came within my purview (and before you say something about the circles I move in, let me say you know nothing of them.  We spend almost as much on charity as we do on taxes, and besides that we give and help with stuff that isn’t official charity.  We’ve bought more computers of writers — sometimes with the money coming out of our food money — than I can count.  Literally.  If I try to count them I always forget some.) because it’s my duty as an able bodied human to look after other humans.  Even when I’m weak there are those who are weaker than I and need me.  Which keeps me from being too weak and therefore keeps me moving.

But I have no interest or need in supporting also a tribe of bureaucrats who eat the substance of that which would go to the poor.  And I have no interest in making the poor and needy feel these are permanent conditions, that they’re entitled to all care, and that no one, ever, should have to strive.  Because that’s denying them their essential humanity and the right to stand on their own two feet and find strength in their weakness.

Because I’m weak and because some days I’ve sat and wondered where the next meal was going to come from, I understand them perhaps better than most of the children of fortune addicted to “positive liberties.”  Give a man everything he wants and needs, and you’ve just destroyed him.  It would destroy me.

So because I’m weak, because I still have no idea what we’ll do for food or housing when we can no longer work, I say: leave us alone.  Leave us our negative liberties, those we have without your interference.  Don’t kill us, don’t imprison us, don’t take our stuff, allow us to struggle for what we want and need.

Because only then can we find strength.

90 responses to “Out of Weakness – A Blast From the Past From October 2016

  1. October, 2016??? Gosh, that seems so long ago, with so many mortar shells dodged.

  2. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    Amen!

    Of course, the “you’ve never been weak” reminds me of the “White Privilege” nonsense.

    Where do I sign up for my “White Privilege” because I haven’t seen it in my 65 years. 😡

    • Why, sure you have. It looks exactly like… hard work.

    • Saw an awesome article this weekend that explained the concept of “luxury beliefs.” Those are the beliefs that you can indulge in when you’re wealthy enough to face no consequences for them.

      One is “white privilege”. Others are advocating for single parenthood. Most “liberal” social opinions. Or, hey, even the notion that poor people should be given stuff without accountability or striving. We see whole communities all but destroyed but for the person wealthy enough to indulge in these “luxury” opinions there’s no personal impact on them at all. In fact, all that happens to THEM is that their peers agree that they are very fine people indeed.

      And then someone will come up and lament that they don’t understand how those people over there “vote against their interests” because they’re poor and were offered Stuff and voted for other things instead of Stuff.

    • Actually, when they say “White Privilege”, they mean ME. I come from (some) money. I went to a private school. And what it inspires in me is not contempt for the poor, but contempt for the reasonably well off who come up with slogans like “White Privilege” and then enact policies to hold the poor down. Rent control. Opposition to school vouchers. Patronizing Black Quislings like Al “Freddie’s Fashion Mart” Sharpton. Contempt for the White Intellectual Left and their never ending self aggrandizing bushwa.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

        Nod.

        The woman who came up with the idea of “White Privilege” was from a well-to-do family.

        She had the “Privilege” of Wealth but decided that her “Privilege” was only because she was White.

        Like the privileged idiot she is, she decided that all Whites were “like her” and all non-Whites lacked her privilege which was actually from Wealth.

        And yes, like all of her kind she can’t see that the “help” she gives does more harm than good.

        • I’ve always thought that “White Privilege” was just weaponized “White Liberal Guilt.”

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

            Too many of the “White Liberals” are well-to-do thus can afford the nonsense that they support.

            So I suspect the “Guilt” is there but because they are well-to-do they don’t want to “get down in the dirt” to find out the real problems of the people they claim to want to help.

            Of course, since they are well-to-do they are isolated from the people (white and non-white) harmed by the policies that they support.

        • I admit I come from a privileged background: my paternal granddaddy carted blankets, food & furniture into West Virginia coal mine towns so that the miners’ families weren’t dependent on the company store, built a chain of furniture stores employing bunches of people so that his kids and grandkids could get ahead in life. If only he’d realized what an unfair advantage he was giving us, he could’ve spent his profits on liquor and floozies instead of plowing it back into the business.

  3. “Part of my fear of driving is that I know I have never been good at physical things. I can in fact screw up something that requires coordination and agility and which I’ve executed perfectly a million times simply by THINKING about it. And I think too much. I swear whoever put me together left out the instinct module. There are things everyone else seems to know that I have to reason through, painfully. And sometimes I get it better than other people seem to, and sometimes I screw it incalculably worse, and I can never TELL which.”

    You, young lady, sound like a perfect candidate for 5 years of regular and frequent martial arts classes. Not only did I learn to not trip over my own two feet, but I can also chew gum at the same time; and was in the best shape of my life.

  4. “I don’t mean I want widows and orphans to starve.”

    I don’t think any of us want that. But charity is only a virtue if it is done without coercion, and usually without public notice. Which means that taking care of widows and orphans by the government, or anything else done by the government, is not charity. Because it is by use of force, or the threat thereof, that those resources are confiscated and redistributed, and by gum, they certainly make sure everyone knows about the distribution.

    It’s kind of scary to think back on how the federal and state-level governments have driven most charitable organizations out of the charity business by claims of discrimination and regulating them to not discriminate. Especially since the government then discriminates completely when it comes to redistribution.

    I remember years looking at the Combined Federal Campaign (only approved charity drive allowed on military bases) organization lists as seeing the percentage of donations that went to overhead. Some of them were over 50%! And if you didn’t contribute, there were repercussions. Oh, not “officially”, but somehow your performance reports for that year just didn’t quite score as high as everyone else’s.

    Nope. For me, charity needs to be personal, and immediate. It doesn’t have to be cash. It doesn’t have to be stuff. It can be both of those things; or it could just be a warm dry bed under a roof away from some dangerous situation. Sometimes charity can be just taking the time to be a sympathetic ear to bounce ideas off of to straighten out what you’re thinking.

    Let’s get the government out of the charity business. It creates and maintains too many dependencies. And that’s bad for liberty.

    • What gets my blood pressure up are the self-appointed hall monitors who smugly insist the we (meaning “you deplorables”) aren’t doing enough for $CURRENTLY_FAVORED_VICTIM_GROUP, which doing so mysteriously seems to have a major benefit for that same hall-monitor.

      We’ve had that three times in our tiny town since we’ve been here. The good news is that in two out of three cases the hall monitors moved away. [VBEG]

    • As I told some students a while back, “I encourage you to [do volunteer thing], but I’m not going to require it because I really do not like people doing that to me.” Voluntold gets old really quickly. So to does, “required donation to [possibly worthy cause].”

      • I remember the fashion for requiring volunteer time to graduate high school. And the moment I rad about it, my gut reaction was “Oh, my, THAT’S going to be a hairball!”

        Is it still in force anywhere? Or did the Nattering Ninnies of Wokeness realize that preventing a poor brown child from graduating because all his spare time was taken up looking after his siblings, or working in the family business, was poison?

        • School district dependent.

          And if you’re enough of a pisser [raises hand] they can be mysteriously waived, too.

        • Community service is a requirement at Day Job, BUT we are really flexible about how those hours are earned. Plus it is a known requirement from the outset, so no one gets ambushed with, “Oh yeah, by the way, we didn’t tell you, but you need NNN community service hours to graduate,” or go to contest, or whatever. Helping with school fund-raising counts, working with your preferred religious institution counts, and so on.

        • In school (undergrad), I was invited to the relevant honor fraternity. Joid, went to the dinner, got the cool paperweight, then was told I had to do some “volunteer” work. Nope, not with the hours I was taking. Never heard boo, and belonged to the group a few more years–IMHO, generally worthless.

          OTOH
          In high school, if we wanted to go to the senior prom (large class, maybe 1100 graduating, so Big Deal), we had to participate in some fund raising goodies. That was worth it; IIRC, I sold some felt tip pens, then new on the market–major advance over the goose quill pens we normally used. 🙂 IIRC, the Four Tops (1970) played–Big Deal indeed.

        • Oregon Initial Achievement Certificates and Advanced Certificate never full implemented (don’t remember the letters), was suppose to replace grades, was never accepted by anyone, even the State Universities and local community colleges, let alone the military, employers, or any other higher trade or education.

          Kid was still under the “yes it will be a thing” back and forth when he was getting ready to graduated. Made sure all the boxes were checked. Including copying all his scouting and eagle award volunteer hours; we didn’t bother with the hours put in for National Park Jr Park Ranger activities. Only one other student had higher hours … scouts AND church week long summer outreaches. Should have been more students with as many hours or more. As the other parents and we stated “Doesn’t say they CAN’T use those hours …” Come to think about it, the other student’s parents were both in engineering and science trades too.

          Pretty sure those certificate requirements have disappeared into the ether. But been 12+ years since kid got bailed out; oops, I meant graduated.

          • “CIM” and “CAM”

            Certificate of Initial Mastery
            Certificate of Advanced Mastery

            * Don’t know why I blank on CIM/CAM given I worked for a company that wrote a software shortened to “CAMS” (Cost Account Management System) for governmental agencies.

    • Both CFC and its civilian cousin United Way are charity through threat and intimidation. I’ve dealt with both in my day.
      Standard practice would be to pass around the donation forms along with a pep talk from management on how important it was for the department to have a good showing. And if you declined or only put down a token amount you got a one-on-one interview with your boss’s boss, the old “I’m very disappointed in you” song and dance.
      And a little detail I learned with CFC, you could donate to the general fund or specify that your donation apply to a selected organization. Thing was I found out that if your chosen recipient got more than the powers that be thought was fair, their share of the general fund donations was reduced thus eliminating any real choice for the donors.

      • United Way, at least, used to require “participating” organizations meet certain criteria, such as no (or limited) outside fund-raising, rendering them dependent upon UW for their funding. Further, “participating” organizations could not engage in discriminatory” practices, such as the BSA being barred from excluding girls, gays, transients and what-have-yous from membership.

        As always, “He who pays the Piper calls the tune” and some deals are too good to be true.

        • United Way. // “He who pays the Piper calls the tune” and some deals are too good to be true. // <– This. The minute United Way pulled the BSA plug, was the minute I pulled the UW plug. Don't care what my employer said/did. Employers involved were matching employee contributions for the organizations listed. Unless I knew where my contribution was going, nope not happening. One thing you couldn't do was specify specific UW charities that could NOT receive your donation … one of them was Planned Parenthood.

      • I know a way to kill the “I’m very disappointed in you” talk dead, or at least it worked for me; I told the charity bullies, “Every city I have ever lived in has suffered a major United Way misappropriation of fund or outright embezzlement scandal in my lifetime. There is simply something structurally wrong with The United Way, and I decline to support it.”

        *shocked silence*

        Of course, now I have an even better reason; my wife’s health.

        • Good Will in Silicon Valley imploded when it became known that management was skimming the best of the stuff and selling it; one person had a house near us, and most every weekend had an amazing yard sale (San Jose said only 2X a year, might have been one of the reasons they got caught.) After that time, if we wanted to donate something, the Salvation Army got the goodies; they had a great program there.

          OTOH, we gave SA some money after one or another disaster (IIRC, one of the big fires a year ago). We got more fundraising letters than from the NRA. I think they’ve gotten the hint…

    • In Europe (at least some parts) charities are just about dead – for this exact reason. It’s a ‘market’ like any other, and the gov’t crowds out all others once it gets going.

      (Churches face the same in places with an official gov’t-supported church. After all, why should I tithe directly when I already give out of my paycheck?)

      • Fundraising is an established service, and a profitable one. Some fundraisers keep 70-80% of the money they solicit.

        (things work differently between ordinary recipients and registered nonprofits)

    • I dunno about now, but in the early 90s United Way consumed 85% of donations to overhead.

  5. H*ll if I didn’t spend half of my time worrying … imagine the art I could create.

    Meh. You would probably be creating Wrongart, encouraging Wrongthoughts.

    • tregonsee314

      RES says (jokingly):
      Meh. You would probably be creating Wrongart, encouraging Wrongthoughts.

      My only thought is. Yes please dear hostess make as much Wrongart as possible. And please continue to mentor and encourage others to do so. Consternation and confusion to the enemies of Wrongart!!!

  6. you’re not truly free if you don’t have a car to drive wherever you want, or a place to live

    But you must not have a car, you must instead rely on public mass transit because Global Baloney Climate Change. And you must not be permitted a home of your own, you must live in government provided stack-a-prol housing because Climate Hope and, and Equity!

  7. Never experienced weakness? You think I was born an adult?

    As for widows and orphans starving, if the government would stop the over-regulation and over-taxation then corporations could provide the kind of return on investment that their pension-fund investors need in order to support widows and orphans! That would also do far more to reward those who exercise foresight and prepare for calamity.

    Reliance on government induces weakness, reliance on self produces healthy government.

  8. spend a few days fantasizing about what I would do with 100 million or whatever. And the first thing that comes to mind is ‘I’d write a lot.’

    Now, there’s an idea for a novel! Writer wins lottery — what happens next? Try to write with any and everybody demanding you give them a loan or invest in their idea or pay for a “much-needed” surgery? You heartless boob, refusing to pay for my little girl’s braces – you <I<want children not to smile!

  9. I don’t mean I want widows and orphans to starve. I wouldn’t let any starve that came within my purview

    No, you wouldn’t let them starve — you’d do worse! You would put them to work! Tending your garden, peeling vegetables, scrubbing pots and otherwise destroying their dignity!

    You heartless witch! Taking advantage of other peop;e’s need to get free labor from them, all so you can sit back in comfort drinking piña coladas! You’d like that, wouldn’t you? Living it up in White Privilegeland!

  10. they say something like “oh, you’re for small government and negative liberties because you’re strong. You’ve never experienced weakness.”

    I was always a runt growing up. I was late to mature physically, the guy who was always at the back of the pack in gym class (even behind the girls). That and being an “odd” meant I was always the one being bullied. Until high school I was the guy who was regularly beat up. (In high school, I was able to pull off the greatest disinformation campaign of my life, convincing people that I’d learned martial arts–so great that I even convinced myself of it. The physical bullying stopped. The mental? That was a whole other ballgame.)

    Even then, however, I firmly believed in individual liberty.

    Today, I’m pushing 60. And while I’m approaching “in good shape for his age” the key in their is “for his age.” Compared to some young punk intent on violence, I continue to be “weak”. And yet, still do I believe, firmly and wholeheartedly, in individual liberty.

    And I believe that because anything else is to put someone else in charge of protecting me from the strong. And how in the world do I trust them to put protecting me over whatever other interests they might have? With liberty I can at least take steps to protect myself from those stronger than I. A big one being possessing arms:

    “Be not afraid of any man
    No matter what his size
    When danger threatens call on me.
    And I will equalize.”

    Burma Shave. 😉

    • Burma Shave???? Try Samuel Colt. Unless you’re in Canada.

    • > for his age

      Still not recoil-sensitive.

    • How did they respond?

      And yes, mandatory “volunteering” destroys whatever volunteering does for an individual’s sense of community involvement.

      • My students? They were pretty positive, and a few looked into the option. The timing was exactly wrong, as it turned out, because of some major academic commitments they had.

    • Maybe being weak, being the bottom of the social pecking order, experiencing school more often than not as abuse from either teachers or other students is what makes us libertarian in our sensibilities.

      If you’ve never been protected by power why the h*ll would someone expect to be protected by power?

      I’m sure that there’s a huge range of libertarian minded people’s backgrounds but it would be interesting to see if there is statistical support for the idea.

      I’m reminded of a quote I have somewhere by Penn Jillette about democracy, how it’s people ganging up on the weird kid, and he’s always the weird kid.

      My experience with authority *helping* me, is that more often than not authority helped my tormentors. And when I did manage to do something I was proud of and thought should finally change my status a bit, that authority would conspire to ignore my accomplishment. (Honestly, I can think of TWO award ceremonies where I had among the highest achievement and got nothing more than a group photo.)

      So, tell me again how power is going to help me because I’m weak.

      • For me, my allergy to collectivism came from getting punished for stuff I had nothing to do with but my classmates did. What, I was supposed to stop them from being loudmouthed morons? How, exactly?

        From there, I came to the conclusion that those in authority would do whatever made things easier for them, whether or not there was justice in it.

  11. Know of people (can name names) who think taking SS at 65 is “charity”. Uh, wait. What? Granted I never expected to see it. But what the HECK? You’ve paid into this since you were 12!!!! (We’re old enough to have been “allowed” to pick beans and strawberries for pay.)

    Charity. Prefer to be anonymous, thank you very much. I remember buying a box of food for school drives taking it in to the teacher. Having kid pull out a few cans for the class room contribution. Then giving the rest to the teacher with instructions to allow kids who couldn’t contribute to pull from the box to add to the classroom contribution so the teacher’s class had 100% participation in the food drive. Granted I was likely only adding to the teacher’s stash for the same thing. School always bragged not only the amount of food added to the county and school food banks, but 100% participation by students and teachers. Not possible. Not given the demographics of our area. Possible if teachers, or others who could, were gaming the system.

    Cub scouts handled a little differently. Was not the one who came up with this. But each cub den would go do fund raising (bottle drive or newspaper drive, which was worth something then); was money contributed to the pool by those (multiple those) who had spare cash? Maybe. Then with money in hand the cub den would go shopping together for food or toys for the charity drive. The den would then present the results with the rest of the pack. I remember the Salvation Army’s response the first year every den did this (second year pack participation) for their toy drive. They’d only had two people come with a car. They had to call for someone to come with the small moving truck. Note – at the time this was a relatively small pack. Don’t know if the tradition has been kept up. We haven’t been involved with the pack for 20 years now. Do know pack is 4 or 5 times larger than when we were involved. Salvation Army would need to bring the larger moving truck. Note – did every cub show up for all three parts of the process? Credit – Yes. Work – No. There are always freeloaders (& at that age we know who is responsible).

    Same pack. There would be cubs with no derby car in the spring for the derby races. No excuse. Derby kits were distributed by the pack to every registered cub. We (okay hubby, allowing me around tools, uh … no?) held derby car building sessions in our garage for 8 years (well after we moved on to a troop, offer was open for years after that but no one spoke up, so offer died). This was held for cubs whether a parent showed up or not. No cost involved. Granted, other than our kid (appropriate age supervised) and one trusted parent, no one ran hubby’s saws or other electrical equipment. But kids designed their own cars. Hubby would then jig saw it out. Kids and parent could then build it with the hand tools present (with help from hubby and other parents as needed). Note. STILL had kids (with parental whining) showing up without a car built.

    All the above is micro scale. Do not want to even contemplate the macro consequences where the individual is lost in the process.

    • I’m going to wait until I can max out my SS before I start extracting it. Assuming I don’t need it before then. YMMV.
      Oh, and if I’d had the SS money I and my employers put in for investment? I’d be looking at at least double the amount, and realistically more like 4 or 5 times.

      • Already taking my SS early. Ran the math. Should out live the difference. But figure at some point SS benefits are going to be reduced and still would be at risk of not having it there (a good 7+ years from max SS). Also, we make way more than the guaranteed 8% annual increase on our own funds, even after we pull some; which is not taxable until we pull it (since it is in tax deferred). Not only that SS isn’t fully taxable (although we pay on the maximum % taxable). Where anything we use from our sources is 100% taxable (well except for a couple of tax free accounts and they aren’t big enough for a long term option).

        Yes. YMMV, even over time. We both thought we’d wait until max out on SS. When it got right down to it, neither one of us ended up waiting. Putting everything together … the math didn’t, and still doesn’t, work. Better to save OUR (in theory) untouchable (by government) savings, and take the government earned money that is touchable and/or changeable.

        Yes. Demorats go after SS will be a major scream & outcry. Going after IRA/Roth savings from the last 30+ years it’s been available. That might spawn the first shot of the next civil war. Or it might be the last time a democrat is in office to do these type of things (okay not a bad idea, but so NOT worth it).

        • “might spawn the first shot of the next civil war. Or it might be the last time a democrat is in office to do these type of things”

          Or both.

      • Because of dot-bomb (v1.0, ca 200[012]), both of us had job skills not well suited for Silicon Valley at that time. In 2001, there was a possibility of something in So Cal, and Idaho. Neither one was a sure long term bet.

        We figured we’d be better off elsewhere, and rural Oregon was elsewhere enough. The downside was that any employment would be barely better than the costs to achieve it (80 mile round trip to town), and the craft-based businesses we thought of weren’t going to do well–especially if we followed the rules and regulations set by the state–not sure how horrible it is compared to other states, but it was grim.

        So, we lived on excess from the Cali house and savings until IRAs could be tapped, and then SS once it was available. No regrets.

        • Oh. You too? 2002 got nailed. Took 17 long months to find a replacement job. I got laid off Aug. 2002. Took my husbands company 13 months to discover I wasn’t working. They then figured they could transfer him to middle of nowhere (worse than K-Falls), Rainer WA, and he wouldn’t quit. We talked really hard about it. But figured at worse it was 25 months until full retirement, but another 7 years until SS. Took our 10 year old 27 foot trailer north and parked it. (Did not license it in WA. Did not license the new highly efficient small car we got (gas savings alone paid for the car and his rent). My name was legally on it. Not sure of WA stance but they never complained. AND what does it say about housing that a 10 year old TT is the best option? He wasn’t the only one, either.)

          Hubby left at 4:30 AM and got home late Friday night for 17 long months before he got transferred back. I did find a job locally, but not enough pay for him to quit. I think the potential commute for me, should our HS age son & I joined him, was 80 to 100 miles, one way. 3 strikes. No way would hubby allow kid to be pulled from his HS; plus working on his Eagle. No way was hubby happy about ME commuting 160 to 200 miles round trip (given Seattle/Olympia traffic, 8 or more hours of just driving). And no where else to go for his type of job (Log Scaler … who even knows what they do? I do. But does anyone else?)

          No way would our house in Eugene sell with the proceeds you got out of your CA property. You work with the hand you get dealt.

          The one good out of it? Hubby spent Tuesday – Thursday evenings hiking MT Rainer NP the summer and fall he was exiled there.

          • I was seriously lucky. Spouse got laid off in 2000 from [redacted] semiconductor, then found a rotten job working for a shady (but huge) contractor. After about a year or two, it was too much and she quit. (Said unit of the contractor went toes up as the semi industry died locally. Not sure how many lawsuits they collected…)

            I was laid off July ’01 with a few weeks given to try to find something internal. Nope. After 9/11, not too many companies were interested, with one in SoCal, and one in Idaho a weak maybe. Then, in November, a rep for the tester I’d been using had a gig through her husband’s company. We were going to help the tester people develop calibration software for their brand-new RF gear. A RF scientist type, a hardware engineer and me as tester guy were the prime. Paid well, and we were getting the beast understood when the tester company went bankrupt. (Protip: never build a new corporate HQ during a recession.) That upset everything, so I was out of work again, but with a wad of cash.

            We used that to get the San Jose home up to snuff. Had to rebuild two walls of a sorta-addition at the back of the place, we redid the kitchen, and I replumbed most of the house. I’d been there 17 years, in a good neighborhood, and it just so happened to be down the road from eBay. Jackpot. (Now, according to Zillow, it’s worth maybe 2.5 times what we sold it for, while current place has rather less appreciation. Oh well.)

            We’re old enough now that the acreage is more than we can handle (particularly since I’m not doing much of anything on my feet til the end of September). Starting to look at smaller properties, or maybe some land, preferably kind of flat and much closer to K-Falls. Only change of state would be to Jefferson, but no counting on that.

            BTW, just what does a log scaler do?

            • Timber.
              * Log measurements: Length, Diameter (small end for board feet, both ends for cubic).
              * Determines Species – based on bark or wood chip from end (latter not resorted to normally, but did have to with wood pulled off of Mt St Helen after the eruption … I was still Log Scaling then … It was interesting).
              * Deducts length and diameter for physical damage and rot based on visible clues.
              * Determines log grade – which is based on diameter, volume, and surface characteristics.

              Does NOT determine value, that is by contract between the buyer and seller based on grade and volume.

              Used to be a lot of scaling at truck ramps with logs still on log trucks. Now mostly done rolled out on the ground in log yards, by the truck load.

              Job locations. PNW N. CA, OR, WA, N. Idaho, and Alaska. If there are more than 300 log scalers left in all the 3rd party companies, and timber companies, and USFS, I’d be surprised. Company hubby worked for 35 years for went from 279 scalers in ’79, when we were hired, to barely 100, in ’82 (which is when I made my career change, I was one of the 179 who was out of work). By the time he retired the company fluctuated from lows of 30 to highs of <45, including supervisors. Remaining 3rd party companies are not any better off.

              Worked outside regardless of the weather. If you were doing your job right, everyone was mad at you. Buyer was sure you measured wrong (too high), didn't cut enough, and graded too high. Seller was sure you measured wrong (too low), cut too much, and graded too low. No matter what the rules. Yes. Either or Both sides bullied.

              Hubby has thicker skin than I do.

              When code wasn't going right. I could always look outside at the heat, or sleet, or whatever bad weather, and immediate attitude change.

              • Thanks. I was guessing something like that, but figured I oversimplified the job. Yep, I did.

              • Thanks. I was guessing something like that, but figured I oversimplified the job. Yep, I did.

                • Not a bad job to have. Weather could suck. But you weren’t in an office.

                  Not physically demanding. But you could be on your feet all day, long days. You could also sit in the shack and do nothing (I read. 5 card Pinochle was popular; they couldn’t gamble – $.05/hand.) Days were almost always overtime. Lunch and breaks were paid, even after jobs pretty much came off the ramps and in, or close, to towns. Few jobs were < 10 hours per day, 5 days a week. Almost all started at 6 or 7 AM. Overtime started after an 8 hour day.

                  Measuring logs was exact. Species id with out leaves or the full tree, sounds hard. Other than the stuff that came off St Helen after the eruption, blasted of bark, and cooked outer later, id is fairly simple. I can still id most at a glance just going down the freeway, and I haven't worked as a scaler since '81, and only worked (not counting layoff months between) a total of 25 months, counting training. I can still tell Alder by smell alone without seeing. Douglas Fir, and some Pines, have scent too, just more subtle.

                  Never got to the point where I could calculate the volumes, and cut percentages without a cheat sheet (hubby could, the math wiz). Grade was knowing the rules and applying judgement based on what you could see (which sometimes, wasn't a whole lot). When I was working it was all paper based. They've been using handheld water proof computers since late '80s (boy was that fun to watch come in & no, I had NOTHING to do with it, I'm not stupid …) … 🙂

                  Demanding job. But not impossible. I found programming more mentally demanding. But more satisfying. Primarily because the client was happy when something worked; plus the self satisfaction of solving the problem. Where scaling, everyone, except maybe your supervisor, and that was iffy because if he was doing their job he was taking some of the heat off of you. Ultimately a great fit for my husband, but not particularly for me. As much of an upheaval the career change was, it was good for me and us.

                  Even if it had been an option, I doubt I'd have gone back to scaling after our child was born, and did the stay at home mom thing … don't know. Still would have had to deal with fact that hubby got laid off every year he worked, even if some years it was less than a month. As it was, with me working, different company, different industry (eventually), hubby demanded the non-OT jobs (rare among his co-workers) which meant less than full time day care (I dropped, he picked up after lunch/nap, or home by school time out). Daycare was professional organized paid play dates (only child). Hubby didn't demand OT jobs until the "Oh crap, college is coming, again …" (for kid).

                  Oh, yes. 0.4% of the scalers were female. Where as my last job 10% were female. But then the percentage of 1 of 10, VS 1 of 279, math just looks better.

                  • Randomly, I just had two trees in my backyard cut down. The Chinese Lem we knew was hard hardwood (a piece was rock solid after ten years on the ground), but the hackberry was a surprise. The wood was almost pure white at the cuts.

                    I have someone interested in taking the 8′ trunks away, but I have to wait until they’re in my area. Thank goodness they have a crane and we back onto a road with sound wall—it would take a lot of tap-dancing heavy lifters to get them to the front yard through the gate.

                    • Chines ELM. Not a Stanislaw.

                    • You’ll find with the hackberry the problem is getting it to STAY down. Even with stump grinding, shoots were sprouting within three months when we had one cut down.

                    • Ran into that with apple tree stumps and a cottonwood type variety. Cottonwood was a “volunteer”. Stumps on all three kept sprouting. Finally they’ve stopped.

                    • We’ve poisoned it with stump killer. If that doesn’t work, we’ll keep doing it until it does—it took a lot of tries to kill the Russian Olive stumps.

          • Rainier wasn’t too bad. Kind of a quiet little place. The two years I was stationed at McChord I’d often loop around the backside of the base and head down 7 and 507 just to avoid taking Rt 5 for a change.

            • Actually … He had been transferred from Longview, WA to Eugene, OR, 18 years before (before my full career change). Moving to Rainer, as an area, wasn’t the problem (In fact, in a lot of ways, our dream area). Timing OTOH, no. No way. Plus we weren’t convinced the jobs were permanent. FWIW, they weren’t. I’d have to go into the history of the 3rd party, not for profit, scaling industry VS timber company based scalers VS timber sold on the cruise. Yes, it comes down to MONEY, power, who has the latter, who thought they had the power (mid-’70’s) and didn’t.

    • You’ve paid into this since
      Sorry, but that’s baloney. You were NOT “paying into it”. You were being taxed so others could draw on it. It’s NOT a fund you paid into, it’s a “charity” you were supporting with your taxes. It’s propagandized as your personal retirement fund, but it is NOT.

      That’s the law, not just my opinion.

      • Yep. Social Security was sold on the idea that you’re paying into it for your own retirement and proponents continue to spout that lie, but it’s never worked that way, ever.

        • Ah, but don’t you know that the government gets to do all kinds of weird accounting and credit tricks with it that way. You can consider it double revenue flow in and out at the same time they pass it off as savings and investment in the government, while drawing on it for all kinds of Congressional goodies. Obamacare was a pittance compared to SS. And both brought to you by con-artist Progressives!

          • And even if you’re just trying to collect what you paid into it, it’s an “entitlement!”

            My Dad nearly had a stroke when the Fed started referring to his military retirement as an entitlement…

      • Well. True.

        Almost just like Insurance. Only with insurance you hope you never have to use it, even life insurance because eventually, in theory, even tho no one gets out alive, at some age/point the cost isn’t worth the insurance.

        With SS you are told it will be your turn someday. Already stated, we didn’t count on SS ever being there, or expected it to be severely curtailed way more than what actually happened.

        Personally, I have some ideas, never have to worry, ever, about SS funding.

        1. Everyone who works pays in, as well as their employers. No exceptions. Self employed. You pay the 14%. Not real new here, but there are categories that don’t pay in because they expect to be wealthy enough to not need it.

        2. No tax holiday. No upper limit on income.

        3. Based on income, as currently calculated, up to a maximum amount of SS received, and discounted if taken early, like now. Only difference now on upper limit, comes from no tax holiday on income when paying in. Upper limit now, is based on the limit on the income you actually paid in.

        4. If you don’t need it. You don’t HAVE to take it. Or you can take it and donate it to the causes you believe in.

        Of coarse, YMMV on all 4. None of them would have affected either of us. We never reached the upper income level for the so called tax holiday.

  12. *glares at the section about a safety net and taking God’s place*

    I really do not need more penny theology ideas, even if the connection between “taxation is theft” and that theft is theologically allowed if it’s that the thief may live, and all the shades of “and it doesn’t make it so the one stolen from will die” etc.

  13. This was really good to read right now. Thank you.

  14. Thoughts;

    The trouble with a government that is big enough to give you everything you want isn’t that it is big enough to take everything you have. Most government’s are that big, if they become corrupt enough. The problem is that a government that’s big enough to give you everything you want is that it is big enough to crush you like a bug without meaning to, or even noticing.

    The assumption by the Progressive Left that, absent Daddy Government, there will be no charity is insulting to all thinking people, and unsupported by history.

    The Statists appear to believe that the Government is an infinitely large toolbox, full of the right tool for every problem. I think many of them DO believe this. History shows that government is much closer to a huge spiked mace.

    I trust my fellow citizens to react better, with more appropriate help, in a disaster than any government agency with a rule book.

    • The assumption by the Progressive Left that, absent Daddy Government, there will be no charity is insulting to all thinking people …

      But it is not insulting to the Progressive Left, which is what really matters most.

    • The Statists appear to believe that the Government is an infinitely large toolbox
      Actually, a treasury chest. Again, one of the problems (oh, there’s many!) with marxism is that it’s based on ideas drawn out of a feudalist society. One of the bits lost to us as Americans is that the king actually had a treasury full of gold and such. And it wasn’t all taxation that put it there – going and sacking a foreign city was partially about looting the place and putting some funds back in your treasury.

      So, marxism (or the teaching of it, anyway) assumes the gov’t has its own money, its own little hoard somewhere. (After all, doesn’t all that gold in Fort Knox belong to the gov’t?) I don’t think it’s explicit anymore, but I think it’s hiding in there.

      (This is of a piece, imo, with not using the word “capitalism” to describe our (mostly) free-market, since that concept is also constructed on the basis of a feudal society.)

      • Heh. I remember Dr. Jerry Pournelle saying something to the effect that the U.S. foreign military policy was designed by idiots. We’d invade countries, conquer them, and then totally screw up on the whole loot and plunder part.

        • People have been saying that since the late 1700s, when we spent nearly thirty years dicking around with pirates off the Barbary coast. (1875-1815, more or less)

      • So, marxism … assumes the gov’t has its own money

        Have you paid no attention to recent Fed “policies” nor the underlying economic theories of the Green new Deal (or the Grey Old New Deal, for that matter) and Medicare for All advocates?

        There are those (not me*) who make exactly that argument against fiat currencies.

        *I don’t. I don’t. The Hell I don’t.