Ming The Merciful

We’ve all heard of Ming the Merciless, and his depredations on the planet Mongo.

But you probably never heard of his truly evil twin, Ming the Merciful. You never heard of him, because he destroys civilizations so completely that nothing is left to tell the tale of their fall. And he’s been in charge of our institutions for a long time. It’s frankly both a wonder and heartening that we’ve resisted him so long.

Yeah, I’m being silly, but only somewhat. And what I said still applies.

I have nothing against mercy and compassion. In fact, I try to exert it on a regular basis, because I’m conscious of how far off ideal-me I fall and how often I need mercy and compassion. Half the time when husband asks “Why did you do x?” (Which makes our life markedly more difficult) my only answer is “Actually I have no idea.” Mostly because ADD and tiredness… let’s say hope I don’t have Alzheimers, but the last month is largely a blank, and the two months before that not much better. And I find my body has a mind of its own. For instance our fridge in CO has this really neat feature where you can open JUST the dairy compartment, and not the rest of the fridge. So for five years I’ve trained myself to put the handle towards that door. … I’m still doing the same, even though we don’t have that door, and the handle is hard to reach from inside the fridge.

So, on that as well as more — ah expensive and destructive — miscalculations, I often need mercy and forgiveness. And I try therefore to dispense it to others.

But I’ve come to suspect that mercy is a bigger responsibility than unbridled anger and destruction. If you lose your mind and kill a bunch of people, it’s terrible. But if you, in your mercy, plan to make people act as they should for (your vision of) a better future, you an distort people’s lives and cause misery (and death, or never life) forever. See FDR and the soft socialists of Europe.

My Wicca friends have a rule that goes something like “Harm none.” But looking back on half a century of life, I have to tell you that this rule is easier to believe in than to apply. Sure, I can refrain from punching people in the nose, or taking stuff from them or — even — hurt them. Physically. In the moment. But in the long term, my acts of what I thought was mercy, my — often — attempts to save people I liked or loved from themselves probably led to more misery than if I’d stepped back and washed my hands of them. Okay, so my life would probably have been lonelier. But these people would probably be in better places now. Some of them much better places. And others would have wreaked less havoc if I hadn’t believed their stories.

Of course if one thinks about it too much, one ends up in a corner, trembling neurotically and doing nothing.


So, Peter linked this story on his blog: It’s not a “homeless” crisis – it’s a drug crisis.

He’s not wrong.

There are two things that caused me to sit back and reconsider the “Always be merciful; always give unstintingly. There’s never any harm in charity.”

One of them was seeing a thrift store throw away perfectly good things, better than we had in our house or could afford at the time: even from the thrift store which was (still is) where we acquire most of our stuff. (Dan calls it the lease program. In Colorado it was ARC thrift stores, because they were cheapest, in fact 10 years ago very cheap. We got furniture and clothing there, used it as long as we needed it and donated it again.)

We’d just bought something — probably a desk — and I was waiting out back to return it, as I watched the employees take a lot of the donations they had been given — piles and piles that were completely unsorted — and put them through the compressor dumpster. A lot of these were things I would have bought on the spot. Disclosure, in fact I tried, as they were putting a dinnette set in, and our dining table had just been broken. They wouldn’t sell me the dinette for $50 (which is all we could afford) and instead reduced it to shreds.

How is that harm? Well, how is it not? I realize they got the thing for free, and probably get rid of a bunch of things so they can keep prices up. But– It was something we could have used. We would have paid what we could afford for it…. and then it was destroyed. This while they keep a steady drumbeat for more donations. Which causes more waste.

We still donate things to thrift stores, but I usually try to give them away to PEOPLE first or (weirdly this works better, particularly when Dan assembles computers from the “components junk” around the house) sell them very cheaply. For the longest time, Dan would take broken computers replace the non-functioning parts, and sell it at cost of repair parts. Usually around $50. I think in the nineties we equipped a lot of broke or strapped people with computers for that price. That was our charity. But I also “sell” refinished furniture for that much, rather than take to thrift store.

The other experience that made me uncomfortable with “unbridled charity” was walking through Acacia park in downtown Colorado Springs, when it was still safe, but getting overrun with homeless. If you walked as I did, minding your own business, you heard the most appalling things.

The link above talks about how the homeless crisis is mostly a drug crisis. They’re not wrong. I’ve come across at least two “high as a kite” homeless who weren’t even, in any definition, human and one who fit as close to the definition of “Possessed” as I ever want to meet (Yes, including quoting scripture.)

But back in the early 2000 when we moved back downtown Col Springs, the homeless were not, by and large, demon-kind on meth. They were … homeless. Panhandlers. Shiftless. No account.

And the conversations I heard were… uh… enlightening. They despise and think of settled/income producing people as patsies. There to be fleeced. They’re not wrong.

But I also heard enough life stories of people who “dropped out” to leave a life of ease and do nothing, catering only to their pleasures in their teens. And now they were facing old age (Often at 50. I mean, you age fast on drugs and such) and couldn’t go back. wouldn’t be able to figure out how to go back.

Heinlein unlocked something in my mind in a book (Red Planet) where he says Man is made to strive. He was right of course. Without some strife, something you desire and sharpen yourself against, you stagnate at best. At worst, you decay, fast. You lose touch with doing anything but following your pleasures.

Even people who have worked their entire lives decay fast when they retire.

Yes, people who lived “disordered lives” of just doing what pleased them have always existed. Well, at least since the industrial revolution. Before that, you needed to be very wealthy. As I pointed out before Jack the Ripper’s victims were of that kind.

And those people tend to be miserable, while destroying everything and everyone they touch as well.

But once our government and really big institutions got in the game, we tempted a lot more people into the rat trap of this sort of life.

I was listening to Elvis croon “in the Ghetto” two weeks ago, when it hit me this sort of propaganda for the welfare state (no? listen to it.) was exactly wrong headed. It seemed to be “people grow up to a life of crime because they’re deprived.” And that’s an insult to every poor-but-honest person ever. Yes, it could/might have been a croon for civil rights. And yes, destroying the horizons of the young does cause violence. Though mostly it causes disinterest and descent into drugs, and the welfare state does that too. Everywhere.

Man (and verily woman too) was made to strive. And most humans aren’t prey to some overriding thing they MUST do. Like me with writing and looking after my family. In fact a lot of humans just want to survive. If they have that taken care of, they’re free to self-destroy. Yeah, it’s contradictory. That’s human.

The problem is, until we rid ourselves of undeserved superiority, of the idea that it’s ours to fix other people’s lives, our charity is more likely to be counterproductive than not.

And the government, and most mainline churches, being staffed with people indoctrinated in Marxism are vast pools of people with unearned superiority and an unshakeable conviction the lack of money is the root of all evil.

Don’t destroy your kids, or other people’s kids, by making their lives too easy. Don’t assume they’re living in squalor because they need other people to tell them how to live. When you do help, make sure you’re helping in a way they can accept and build on.

The hardest thing of all has been — with my kids — to accept their goals are not mine, and they must make their own mistakes.

I suppose that’s even harder when it’s some bureaucrat planning for other people’s kids. And making broad assumptions.

Ming the Merciful is the real threat. He makes people too incapable to help themselves, and in the end so much prey to their appetites they’re not even human in the sense of thinking through and planning their course.

Don’t be Ming the Merciful. To yourself, or others.

Man was made to strive. All we should ask for is that none of us strive in vain.

257 thoughts on “Ming The Merciful

      1. Wanted: one slightly used Mongo spacecraft. Only need it for a single kamikazi attack on the current CIC during a national speech. Needs to still have needle point on the prow for proper skewering of tyrant. Call FLA-SHG-ORDN.

  1. My cynical little voice opines that when thrift-charities that trash half of what they get beat the drum for donations, they’re removing competition from the market while acquiring the cream of the crop for their own shop.

    1. I don’t know how common it is, but the Goodwills I’ve hung out around would just not accept stuff they didn’t think could sell, and stuff only went to the destruction section after it had failed to sell both at stores and at the regional by-the-pound rag shop places.

      1. Yeah, I don’t know either. But I have noticed that the outfits that *give away* their “merchandise” seem to have better quality goods.

        Funny story… stopped at the local everything-free shop looking for ski bibs for outdoor winter workwear. Place was unexpectedly closed, but as I’m staring at the locked door, someone else drives up with a load of donations, and helps me stare at the locked door. (I guess we thought enough staring would open it.) I said, “I was just looking for this here winter gear” and she says, “Wait, I have one right here!” Exactly what I was looking for, in my size no less.

      2. When my husband’s aunt died three (?) years ago none of the local charities or thrift places would agree to take her stuff, and she actually had really nice stuff. When his parents died last winter we took some of the stuff (it’s still in my living room in boxes” there was a whole lot that we told the Realtor to arrange a crew and a dumpster and if they thought that any of what was left was useful or if anyone could make money off it, they were welcome.

        Because even poor people generally have tons of *stuff*. No one needed his aunt’s nice clothes, or her nice furniture, or her nice dishes.

        I will say though, not giving someone something they’re standing there and ASKING for is just insane.

        1. They probably have some inane policy whereby having received the stuff it is theirs and any staff giving it away or even selling it without the imprimatur of the shop manager would constitute theft.

      3. That’s been my experience at the local Goodwill when trying to get rid of things like old TVs, Ended up having to take a good-sized one to the landfill because of that, unfortunately.

          1. Well, we’ve already established here and elsewhere how much GA sucks even outside of Atlanta. Funny thing is the Salvation Army apparently took an ancient, plodding POS even in its prime old computer of my mom’s that I wasn’t even going to bother attempting a Goodwill donation with.

      4. Yes, here in Southern AZ we’ve found that Goodwill and other charities are careful not to accept goods that aren’t readily saleable…I’ve never seen or heard of any evidence that they destroy the stuff they have accepted..But here we have Mexicans crossing the border to specifically purchase the pretty nice goods at Goodwill et al, so the turnover is relatively rapid…

        1. The only place I’ve seen stuff destroyed was in a USEFUL way, such as the cloth stuff being bundled to go to…. I think it was paper making? Does that sound sane?

          Out back of the Seattle and Des Moines’ by weight stores. I was dragging a small, cute child around, so we got to ask questions. 😀

          …dang it, I can’t remember what the price per pound was, now, but it was less than fifty bucks to pack a cart to “I can barely move it” level, and the furniture was up front for like $5, I cannot suggest the places strongly enough.

  2. I’ve always been particular about my charity. I don’t give the homeless money, for example. Back in the day, I’d give the homeless McDonald’s gift checks, because all of their signs read Hungry, Need Food and that was what I was helping them with.

    I’ve paid cell phone and electricity bills for friends.
    Bought them groceries.
    At least two, probably more, girlfriends that needed interview clothes and I bought them. (I remember two because they “needed something to interview in” and they never interviewed for a job, as long as I was with them.)
    And back in the early days of the Crow Flu, when a number of friends were crying out “I’m running short on groceries, I need money to buy food!”, I did the research and found who was doing food boxes and told them that if they went and pick it up, I’d pay for it.

    And, you wouldn’t believe what kind of grief I got for it.

    1. Every now and then, the place where my wife works gets leftover food boxes that are mostly stuff that’s about to expire (as such things tend to be) but they almost always have fresh food in them as well as boxed/canned/packaged.

      We got two of those last year and frankly didn’t need them, but we have a friend who works a crap job for crap pay and gave them to him. He was so thankful it was almost embarassing. He probably ate for a month on that stuff.

      So it doesn’t *always* work that way. Unfortunately too many people take the attitude they don’t need or want charity (and I’m looking at older members of my fraternity when I say that, who DO need it, they just won’t admit that they do).

      1. OK, funny to me story.

        Husband’s command was doing Thanksgiving food boxes. They didn’t give a percent, but they did have an amount of how many people NEEDED help to have a good Thanksgiving, did some group fund-raisers and such as well as asking for donations.

        I did some really good shopping, got stuff that I know are traditional Thanksgiving things on great sales, the whole nine yards, I think he took in three boxes of stuff. Most of the traditional Thanksgiving stuff I can’t STAND, but I know most folks love it– yams, stuffing, gravy, cranberry stuff, GOOD mashed potato mixes, etc. (I like potatoes….)

        Come week of Thanksgiving, he comes home with a box that was at least half the stuff we’d donated.

        The guy in charge of the “for the needy” food box drive had taken the pay of everybody at the command with their dependent/recall list information and used it to calculate who was below the poverty line, and that’s where they’d gotten the number of boxes. Nobody ASKED. Husband was too polite to say “are you off your rocker?”

        Took it to our church’s food pantry and I still giggle at that supposed “need” for help.

        1. Similar situation. How the hell they figured an MSgt with only a wife and two kids couldn’t make it I have no idea. And in our squadron, the only kids who were in the barracks or eating in, God Forbid, the dining facility, on holidays were ones who actively wanted to be there.

      2. (Not sure what help your non-family loved ones need, but the trick that works on my family– we’re stubborn SOBs, too– is to spin it as doing a favor. “I ran out of freezer room, you got a use for [item]?” or “Wife’s having a reaction to [something], you want it?” Note, I *AM* always telling the truth. Sometimes I bought a few extra loaves of bread to make sure the freezer didn’t have room, but THERE WAS NO ROOM. And “for God’s sake, I WISH HE’D TAKE IT” is a reaction.)

                  1. No, some people can just grow tomatoes, lots and lots of tomatoes. To the point people run away when they see them coming. They FEEL they HAVE to give them to people, they CANNOT throw them away. So some just give them away by leaving them on door steps. Nothing to do with YOU, THEY have to give them away.

                    1. I’m like that every year with raspberries. My raspberry bush produces enough every year to make about five years’ worth of jam (at my personal consumption rate). So I make huge amounts of jam and beg people to take some.

                      I’ve given up on the Italian plum, though: those just go straight in the yard waste as I promise myself this year I’ll prune the damn thing back to a stick.

                    2. I’m okay with tomatoes. And zuchini. I’m not fond of hot food. Yes, I know, bad Latin. I think it’s a sensory thing. When I was a kid, I thought that onions were hot.

                    3. Well, yes. If you don’t find a suitable home for your tomatoes, the next year the Tomato Gods may be offended and withdraw their blessings. And THEN where would you be??

                    4. “Lern 2 can” is the only thing I can say.

                      And “maybe don’t grow tomatoes next year.”

                    5. And that’s a weird one. I know of so many how have issue with growing tomatoes, and yet some seen unable to NOT grow them. I don’t mind *a* fresh tomato now and then, but I really do not much care for them save thinly sliced in a BLT. Or else transformed into sauce, or as a petite diced ingredient in something. A big wedge of tomato in a salad? Oog, NO! (If YOU like that, fine. have mine. ALL of them. Yes, really. Have all ‘my’ peas too. Pass the carrots. Thank you.)

                    6. Last year my bell peppers didn’t start producing until late in the season, and this year it’s even worse. They’re in containers, so I’m able to start them early in the spring and to move them inside in the fall (and they’ve been inside two weeks now). Right now, however, they’ve produced a good crop of green peppers that have been holding off on turning red.

                  2. Tomatoes are a lesser form of zucchini. Once you get the hang of a good crop, they go overboard and you wind up with more than you can give away. I got around 100 pounds of tomatoes from four that I planted and gods know how many volunteers. (VT100 cherry tomatoes are an invasive weed.) I am very tired of tomatoes and inflict them upon anyone who’ll take them, and occasionally leave a bagful down at the neighbor’s place. Oh, and there are still more out there; the vines have frosted down but the ripening fruit remains.

                    I’m undoubtedly the poorest person on my road, but I’m apparently the best gardener. And a side effect of habitual thrift is inability to throw away what you can’t use…. so inflict it on the neighbors!

                  3. No, it’s too many zucchini doorbell ditch. My neighbor grew a bunch this summer and every time I saw her she asked. Then it appeared on the stoop. I couldn’t refuse like I could in person…

                    1. We passed at least four houses a few weeks ago with little baskets out front filled with all kinds of peppers. They all had signs that said “Free peppers”

                    2. Only time the small town lock their vehicles, and doors on the house and barn … Zucchini season.

                    3. I’d suggest compost, but all that will do is give the zucchini seeds a nice warm home.

                    4. Zucchini I have little to no use for. Now, if the jalapeno (or other pepper – I HAVE made Ghost Pepper Brownies…) – faerie appears… what do I leave out in proper payment?

                  4. Nah, it’s not charity, per se, it’s people trying to get rid of excess garden produce. Usually in the form of: tomatoes, peppers (hot or bell), or zucchini, but cucumbers often put in an appearance as well. They grew too much (and by that point have either realized they don’t have the time to learn how to can salsa/pickles, or are so sick of doing it they just can’t anymore) And I suspect by the time they do the ‘leave a bag on neighbor’s doorstep’ it’s because all their friends and family are going “NO I DON’T WANT ANY MORE STOP ASKING”…

                    It’s a standing joke in some regions that people will break into your car to LEAVE bags of zucchini/peppers/other produce that tends to overproduce 😀

                    1. As the joke goes.

                      Local to tourist. “Remember to lock your vehicle.”
                      Tourist. “There is problem with theft? Here?”
                      Local. “No. It is zucchini (or tomato, pepper, etc.) season.”

                    2. And I have indeed had it happen. Go into church services, come back out and find a brown paper bag of zucchini in the car…

                      Fortunately, I absolutely adore zucchini. 😀

                    3. I’m pretty sure that at our previous home, neighbors didn’t start locking their vehicle doors until the first year we got our garden going. I had no idea that all those zucchini seedlings I planted would all survive to produce.

                    4. How do I get the “pepper faerie” to visit?
                      Y’all can have ALL the zucchini and even all the tomatoes (I have use for about maybe ONE a YEAR…), but peppers? Those are great!

                    5. 2 best things to do with zucchini:

                      “Mess”–zucchini, tomatoes, onions (and any other veggie you care to toss in) + meat of some kind sauteed in butter and served over noodles 😀

                      Zucchini chocolate bread. Or just zucchini bread (a la banana bread, though I don’ t think you mash the zucs. It’s been a long time since I made it, though). That stuff is amazing.

                    6. Once in a while I do zucchini as a side dish:

                      Slice 3/8″ thick
                      Put in skillet and just cover with water
                      Boil until nearly dry
                      Heavily drizzle with balsamic vinegar
                      Boil until nearly dry again

                      I don’t grow zucchini (other than that one year as a test to see if I could here), because I have a total demand of about four zucchinis a year.

                    7. Sigh. I love zucchini. And lima beans, and broccoli and Brussel sprouts … well, most everything, except avocados, which are green and oily and nasty,
                      One of the best things to do with zucchini is to grate it, combine with a grated potato, squeeze out the moisture, and make a frittata by adding a couple of eggs to bind it all together.
                      Or stir-fry slices of zucchini in a bit of butter and sprinkled with truffle salt. Side dish of the Gods, people – side dish of the gods.

                    8. Didn’t care for Avocado until later. OTOH didn’t have them until my early 20 to mid 20’s. Probably another 20 years before I liked them. Now I love them.

                1. DJ Jardines makes both Ghost Pepper and Carolina Reaper salsas as part of their product line.

              1. It’s a genetic thing. Turns out all of the wild cabbage derivatives have a specific bitter flavor to them. Whether or not you can taste it is entirely genetic.

                If you’ve got the right combo, you can’t taste the bitter flavor, so they’re really good. If you don’t, they will just taste nasty, and there’s pretty much nothing that can be done to change it.

                (This, incidentally is why I despise all the children’s shows now talking about how much they love broccoli. You either do, or you don’t, and no amount of “thinking” at it is going to change that. Acting otherwise is just lying to kids, and they will figure it out eventually.)

                1. Kind of like catnip, then. Some cats ignore it, some go nuts for it.

                  So what should we call it? The ‘Yucky Broccoli’ gene? 😛

                  1. I hate broccoli, always have. Cooked or raw, doesn’t matter.

                    I like raw purple cabbage and raw cauliflower, but I can’t abide cooked cabbage of any color or cooked cauliflower.

                    I can manage Brussels sprouts if they’re roasted (that was a huge surprise), but boiled the way my mother made them in fine New England tradition would drive me out of the house until I was forced to choke down a single bite at dinner time.

                    1. For me, it’s okra. I have tried every possible cooking possibility and cannot choke down a bite. Makes me crazy. (I am a bit prepper-ish, and the fact that I literally cannot swallow an easy-to-grow, nutritious and prolific thing that’s perfect for my climate makes me…somewhat peeved.)

                    2. Oh, yeah, I can’t stand okra either. I was trying to answer the “all cabbage variants” thing.

                      My grandmother from Arkansas made okra once when I was visiting them where they lived in Bakersfield. It was pure disgusting slime. People have told me, “No, you’re supposed to deep fry it in batter!” and I’ve tried that and my verdict is that prepared that way it’s slime in a crunchy shell. Yuck.

                    3. Non overbooked cabbage was a revelation to me. They used to put it in with the ham while it boiled and it came out a mess. Boiled just right it’s delicious and you don’t get the smell of over cooked cabbage. Strangely, at least to me, I had it that way first at an Irish bar in Paris. I was with a guy from Singapore who wanted to try some Irish food, I told him he wouldn’t like it but it was delicious. That’s when I realized that it wasn’t the food, it was the cook.

                  2. For me it’s lima beans. I’ve always hated them. My mother didn’t force me to eat them since she remembered her mother’s story about forcing mum’s older brother to eat his peas, and him sitting at the table for literal hours rather than do so.

                    When he was about 10 he started having major allergy issues, and when they did testing, guess what vegetable he was allergic to? Yep. Grandma felt rather guilty at that point.

                    I don’t know if I’m actually allergic to limas, but I do love properly cooked Brussel sprouts (my husband and kids think I’m insane) while they like limas and okra. So if I want the former, I’ll cook some of the latter, and then we’re all happy.

              2. i like, or liked, broccoli until several months/a few years ago. It didn’t TASTE BAD, not was the ‘mouth feel’ bad. I simply just could NOT take that third bite. Someone suggested it might be a sign of an impending/developing allergy. I had been eating a LOT of cruciferous veg. then, so…

                Recently I had a reaction (thankfully NOT anaphylaxis) to antiobiotic I’ve had a few times, years ago. This time on day 7 or 8 of the 10 day course I looked like I had chicken pox. Only looked. Did not FEEL like it. I know from experience. I completely understand not getting an mRNA ‘Clot Shot’ QUACKcine, but DAMNIT, get the REAL vaccines for the real diseases! And get your kids those! A needle-stick is NOTHING compared to chicken pox, or measles, or… I might not have liked a ‘shot’ but I’d have MUCH rather have had that than chicken pox! Or measles, or…

                1. A needle-stick is NOTHING compared to chicken pox, or measles, or… I might not have liked a ‘shot’ but I’d have MUCH rather have had that than chicken pox! Or measles, or…

                  As someone who had measles (both kinds), chicken pox, mumps, etc., agree. I remember being sick, and for some of them I wasn’t much older than a toddler. I’d have taken the shots. No question when it was our son’s turn. The only childhood vaccination he hasn’t had was chicken pox, because it wasn’t released for about 36 to 40 months after he had them, severely. But these shots either one and done, or if boosters required (TB/Whooping Cough) then it is a booster every few years if you are unlucky. Unlike the flu or coof cough that are annual or looking to be more frequent. If it isn’t going to work longer term, and there is no specific “season”, why bother?

          1. When you grow zucchini, you find out who your friends are. It’s easier to give away a pregnant cat than zucchini halfway through the season.

            It truly is the gift that keeps on giving.

        1. Our son works the 4 PM to 2:30 AM shift. Not a lot open during 1/2 lunch break. So been in the habit of picking up easy to fix items he can take and microwave, or fix when he gets home. Also tried for variety. Sometimes the variety items get tried but he doesn’t prefer to take them, and not items either dad or I can eat (anymore). I’ve been very popular with the neighbor. They have 6 children between the two of them … 5 of them boys between the ages of 11 and 14 … or 5 walking appetites … This is exactly how I’ve phrased it … “I need to clean out the freezer, can you use these?”, “Picked these up for … he won’t use them. Do you think you can use these?” Since I generally get the item in bulk from Costco, I could take it back on my next trip … I don’t want to. It isn’t that they can’t feed their kids, they can. He works a job that I guaranty makes double what hubby and I ever did, combined. Just I know what it was like feeding ONE walking appetite.

            1. Even when I was a “walking appetite” there were some things that were RIGHT OUT.
              For me, it was bananas (I’d at least TRY *any* other fruit)
              And peas (Mr. Yuck is a pea with face for a sound reason!).

              Ma once tried to hide a banana in chocolate malt.
              That stopped when I opened the back door and gave it ‘The Woodland Fling’ & returned, “Threw the *&R^%&*% banana out.”

    2. I lived in Haight-Ashbury for a while. There was a grocery store a block from our apartment and the homeless living in Golden Gate Park used to hang out in front of the store asking for money for food. I watched a guy pull out a bag of apples from his just-purchased groceries and hand them to the guy only to have the homeless guy throw them back and start screaming obscenities. He wanted the cash not the food.

      1. I have been *really* lucky– I’ve done things like pass over the vehicle-stable snacks we have in the car, or at least a bottle of water, and haven’t run into that issue.

        ….I probably do some pre-sorting just by “that guy looks hinky” avoidance.

        1. I keep a case of bottled water in the car all the time, and hand those out. Doesn’t matter if they’re homeless or collecting for some organization, that’s what they get (except firefighters, those get cash) and no one anywhere NEAR sane turns down water if they’re standing outside in Florida.

        1. Well, not with only one bag of apples. Very hard to get enough with front-of-store begging level stuff.

          If you can manage like 5 “week of food” boxes, and sell it out the back of your car for about a dime on the dollar, you can turn food to drugs. Especially stuff like baby food, that’s stuff is gold.

          ….take a wild guess how I know. -.-

          1. I give to the local diaper and formula drives throughout the year. Now, I know that a certain percentage of what I give will be sold for drug money – but it will at least be sold to someone that does need it, for less than just buying it in the stores.

            1. Yep– I still donate to food pantries, too, just if I get a *chance* I pick ones that take steps to avoid the obvious fraud routes. Say, require ID for the area served, in concert with associated networks. (They also do things to help get photo ID and other life improvement stuff.)

            2. Aye, and “only donate what you would eat” doesn’t fit. I ***LOATHE*** creamed corn (reminds me too much of vomit) BUT some who use such place LOVE it as they are, shall we say, dentally declined. And a salt/pepper shaker combo (or several) is not a bad idea.

              1. ***LOATHE*** creamed corn

                AMEN. Make me choose between creamed corn or liver … I will starve.

      2. Haight-Ashbury is an outlier, like parts of Berkley and such. A lot of the people there want the money because they want to buy drugs. Or alcohol. Or both.

        They know where to get food, medical care, etc, etc, etc…for free. They just want money for their addictions.

        1. Not that much of an outlier. Especially not now. I don’t, and never did, give out cash for that very reason…they just want to buy drugs or alcohol. Friend of mine used to give out cigarettes (when she smoked). That at least didn’t get her screamed at. At that time in the Haight (mid-80s) there were a lot of punk kids, early trustafarians, living in GG Park. You could tell them apart from the professional beggars because the kids couldn’t get the request out in 3 seconds you were walking by.

          1. Very much not that outlier. I remember when GGP went bad in the ’00s and it’s like clockwork. SF goes bad in the ’60 and ’70s, gets fixed in the ’80s and ’90s, goes bad in the ’10s and ’20s…

  3. Over the years, I’ve moved towards thinking that charity should largely take place person to person, instead of relying on the state, after hearing stories like the ones my sister-in-law tells, where people are using their welfare funds to buy gold jewelry (no, I don’t know how this was allowed.) This year, I might hit one of the bargain stores, the kind that sell stuff that got passed on from the bigger stores, and buy some toys for Toys for Tots, only because of the warnings of a shortage of toys this Christmas. I’m also going to keep my ears open for individual families who are having difficulties this Thanksgiving and Christmas, though.

    1. I’ve always liked the places that will set out requests from specific families and you can go buy them, and you know it’s going to a family in particular.

      We keep doing this thing where the (can I even say?) glamorized needy of distant places are given priority over the people immediately around us. Charity should be local; it’s part of what bonds a community together. But it’s much easier to write a check to a faceless institute than it is to distribute blankets to your local homeless.

      1. After one disaster, $SPOUSE sent a modest donation to the national Salvation Army. (We inherited bad opinions of the Red Cross.) Now I wonder how much of that donation got burned in postage begging for more money.

        The Flyover Falls SA closed its store due to frequent burglaries at the worst of the meth problems. The unit in San Jose had the thrift store in the same complex as their residential shelter/job training center. We kept hearing good things about it and directed our surplus stuff to them on occasion.

        We’ll donate change (round up grocery bills to a whole dollar amount) to the food bank, but the bulk of our charity is a monthly donation of staple food to the Gospel Mission. The GM (drop in meals and short term residential) gets some from the food bank, but there have been many times we heard a quiet “Thanks, Lord” when they saw the bags. 50 pound bags of rice & beans. The Kroger peanut butter has gotten similar responses.

        We start tomatoes (and summer squash most years) from seed, and any surplus starts go to neighbors and the everything store in $TINY_TOWN. Excess fruit goes to the Gospel Mission. This year, we gave the squash seeds to our neighbors (since I couldn’t do any gardening until late June), and they gave us a lot, much of which we passed onwards,

        1. The local Gospel Mission, along with the shelter for battered women, are the only two I give cash donations to any more. I know some of the people, including the higher ups, that work those – and, yes, they are paid, but just barely at the level of keeping food on their own tables.

          1. It surely is a wonderment how many of the ‘Directors’ in those ‘non-profit organizations’ have gotten richer than the most Eeevul executives of those Eeevul Big Corporations.

            1. I’m happy with our Gospel Mission. The director is a decent guy, and will show up in the kitchen as a worker bee on occasion.

              There was a kerfuffle when the GM tried to get a vacant church/school to use as a shelter. The local residents were already having to deal with a lot of crimes (including the mad-dog arsonist), and they made the case that the shelter would be an attractive nuisance. Yeah, I can see that argument.

              The Mission tries to keep things under control, and *usually* succeeds. The new location is less industrial, though I’m not fond of the way they’re coordinating with the county & sole non-profit hospital in a shiny new social services complex. (Took over a defunct auto dealership and a boatload of ex-industrial land.)

              1. Our local food bank uses volunteer labor, all the way up. Expenses are food, utilities and office supplies.
                Each church involved contributes a month of volunteers to give out food.

              2. Funny thing happened around our “mission” area. This is First Street / Whiteaker Neighborhood. When the Mission went in, it was mostly industrial and not shopping type businesses (auto repair, etc.). Now neighborhood has transitioned into boutique micro breweries, fancy wine, and rehab older homes. The complaint? That is the areas where the most “Secure (Homeless) Camps” have been located and proposed to be located in other not-yet-used spots. The now gentrified, revitalized, section complains that they are being foisted off with all the homeless … Gee I wonder why? This is where the services are located, and have been for decades! In response, other areas in the City have been setup with these “Secure Camps”. Those in “other neighborhoods” (Autzen/Alton Baker) that are actually used, are not that far from the mission and services. The ones 100% not in use (north hwy 99) are “too far” from the services. Those who can’t get into the secure camps nearby just illegally camp in parks nearby, and hide in the brush that line the Willamette River bike paths. (Is it more complicated than all of the above? Duh!)

    2. My husband had a ground with a Methodist minister in Rhode Island over this. She said, from the pulpit, that everyone should bug their local officials to increase the state aid. Seems she had to -gasp!- reach into the pastor discretionary fund to help this guy.
      Spouse argued and wrote a long letter on the virtue of private vs public charity. She made it clear she wasn’t changing her position.
      It did wonders for clarifying his, though.

    3. Government ‘charity’ consists of a class of preening parasites extorting money from those who earned it and doling it out to those that did not. John Galt had the right of it:

      Every mediocrity with the power to dispose of the property of his betters, by his willingness to devote his life to his inferiors, is the foulest of creatures. The double-parasite who lives on the sores of the poor and blood of the rich, whom men regard as the moral ideal.

      That, and I never believed it was a good idea for the government to pay 15-year-old girls to get pregnant.
      Welfare is pay without work. In order to provide pay without work for some, others have to work without pay. We used to call that slavery. Now they call it socialism.

      1. Don’t for get the tithe (actually probably closer to 25%) that those parasites skim off the top for themselves. Because they deserve such rewards for all the good works they do.

        1. This is what drove me crazy about the parking meters Denver put in: Donate change here and we’ll direct it properly.
          Oh great. Give money for the homeless that ends up buying wine for suburban social workers rather than beer for the homeless.

        1. we’re facing shortages of EVERYTHING.

          An IRL friend of mine here in Seattle, a Russian Jew immigrant also in his mid-fifties who sometimes comments on Instapundit, just posted this to FB today. He’s speaking to more or less the same set of Seattle progs that I know.

          Some of you noticed I stopped posting about politics. It does not amuse me anymore – shit just got real… Anyway. There’s one thing however – you are all my friends (to a varying degree) and this gives you an advantage of knowing a grizzled wise Russian Jew who lived through a few things, like disintegration of a major country or two, and who is PAYING ATTENTION. As we speak, this country’s supply chain is falling apart, and the current administration is unable to even understand what they need to fix, let alone how, and even less so to begin fixing it. What does it mean to you?

          First, the things made in China will disappear. It’s already started. Not only useless baubles we placate ourselves to stave off the existential dread – necessities too. Foods. Medications. Clothes.
          Second, things made in factories that use Chinese spare parts will disappear. This already started as well, but it will longer to notice. Maybe 2-3 months. Power plants may have to shut down, although it’s less likely.
          Third, food production will start to break down with shortage of spare parts for the agricultural machinery. That’ll hit by spring.

          So… What does it mean to you? Unless you’re willing to gamble your life on ideological purity – stock the fuck up. On absolutely everything. Food, groceries, pharmacy stuff, clothing. Visit everyone you want to visit before airlines are grounded… yes, due to spare parts. Buy that car you’ve been eyeing before your old one breaks, there won’t be any spare parts, even if they are made in Michigan. If you can afford an electric car – all the better. If you cannot buy a new one, fix the fuck out of everying that may need attention in your old car. Make sure you have a couple of bicycles in good working order. Whatever limited resources you have, spend them on what you may use in the next year or so.

          You’ve been warned.

          And if I am wrong – well, you can still use all of that stuff that you stocked up. It’s not like it’s alive and demanding of food and water…


          I just made another Costco run to load up on stuff that will keep nigh on forever but that I will eventually eat. Next I’m taking my battered old minivan in for an oil change and tuneup and maybe new tires.

          Speaking of Galtian “double parasites” elsewhere in this thread, an Insty open thread commenter yesterday posted this link: https://niccolo.substack.com/p/the-putney-spoons-interviews-malcolm, in which Niccolo Soldo (of whom I know nothing except he lives in Europe somewhere and is apparently semi-Moldbugian) interviews Malcolm Kyeyune (who lives in Sweden and is involved in local alt-ish politics).

          Kyeyune’s take is that the US Left has basically shot its bolt, has forfeited the consent of the governed, and isn’t likely to get much further with its agenda. (Which parallels what I’ve hypothesized here before, that they’re like the not-quite-winning player in Risk who almost-but-not-quite takes over the world but stretches themselves too thin and falls to the next player who ends up winning the game.)

          The struggle that populists like me are interested in, regardless of intellectual background, is the class struggle between the great many people who keep society running, and the increasingly desperate and bellicose parasites who require that these people be constantly exploited in order to make their own unsustainable lifestyles possible. A class war is coming, and it will not be between the 99% and the 1%, but between the producers and the parasites. Then we’ll see just how ”permanent” the rule of these parasites truly is.

          It’s hard to really get a money quote from the interview: RTWT.

          I’m starting to think I — we, all of us — just need to hold out until the 18th of Brumaire. The Left can still cause a great deal of damage, so be like water, be a judo master, duck and weave and rope-a-dope and serpentine until they run out of initiative, and then heavens willing we come back and run the board.

          1. I’m waiting for those running north to invade realize how bad it is getting and make a run back across the southern border. Because it will get so bad, that no matter the promises, TPTB can not provide what has been promised.

            1. In other words, when that which cannot go on forever will eventually stop, we’re getting closer to the “stop”.

          2. As tweeted:

            And even if this person is DEAD WRONG…. so what?

            Laugh at me. Laugh at him. Laugh at us.

            Laughing beats crying – over starving, dying, loved ones dying, etc.

            I *HOPE* you all get to LAUGH!

            Better a laughingstock than a corpse.

            1. Good point. I’ll ask the folks at Meineke what type and how much to use, and then equip to do a couple of changes myself.

        2. The container back-up is almost entirely caused by government action. Rules and regulations that prevent the ‘wrong’ people from moving cargo. Especially here in Kalifornia where they are trying to eliminate ‘gig’ and ‘contract’ work, to ‘Protect The Workers!’

          Well, guess what? One large group of contractors is the people who own and drive their own trucks. Something like 75% of the trucks in America are single owner-operated. The workers own their means of production! The Great Socialist Ideal! They can work where they want, when they want, hauling the loads they want.

          Except the Nanny State steps in and says, “No, that’s not good for you. You’re not forced to join a union, and for some reason you don’t want to. Heresy! Ungood!”

          So the Democrats passed a law. (Republicans are not represented in one-party Kalifornia) When the yuppies couldn’t drive Uber, they got a proposition on the ballot that made ONE SINGLE EXEMPTION narrowly targeted to Uber, and left the rest of that idiotic law in place. That’s called ‘Reform’.
          Does the Left drive those idiots barking mad, or were they drawn to the Left because they were already batshit crazy?

          1. I find the irony of the unions–ostensibly begun to protect workers (although I’m not sure there are really any good examples of them being ACTUALLY helpful, and not in fact causing more problems than not. Maybe really, REALLY early on)–are now the means by which the government tries to force workers to bow down to them…

            1. Ack. Nothing like not actually finishing the sentence. Let me rephrase that: I find it IRONIC…

              (I think I’d meant to end the original sentence with something else, but don’t remember lol)

            2. From what I’ve read, some fraction of mining union activity in the late 19th and early 20th centuries was both justified and effective, in the short term. Every now and then there was other union activity that was justified and effective, at least in the short term. In the long term, some of those successes became disasters for union and industry alike.

              1. Yeah, that’s kind of how I read it. I haven’t done as much reading on the history of unions as I plan to, but…my mother being forced to join a teacher’s union when I was a kid already marked unions as “not okay” in my life early on 😀

              2. Unions were originally organized to address real abuses, such as low pay, hazardous working conditions, and debt peonage such as was found in ‘company towns’ where everything was calculated to cost just a little bit more than workers were paid.

                By the 1950’s those abuses were nearly erased. Union pressure, competition, mobility and, yes, labor laws had made conditions for American workers the best in the world.

                The unions had won their war, but — they couldn’t stop fighting the battles. No longer needed by the workers, unions shifted focus to preserving their own existence. Workers leaving the unions? Employ threats and intimidation, not against employers, but against the workers. Pay politicians to pass laws to prohibit companies from hiring non-union workers, and workers from finding non-union employment.

                Today’s unions are bloated bureaucracies run for the benefit of union bosses that have more in common with their corporate ‘enemies’ than with the workers, who have been freed from corporate exploitation only to be subjected to union exploitation.

                And that is leaving aside the abomination that is ‘government employee unions’.
                “Ahhh, on second thought, let’s not go to Camelot. It is a silly place.”

                1. “Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.” ― Eric Hoffer

    4. I’d love to see some government hearing where some Good Person is going on and on about problem X and how something needs to be done about it only to have one of the committee members say “That is a problem, and I’m willing to help. *whips out personal checkbook* What’s the name of your foundation?”

      1. My first question would be, “What are YOU doing about it? Besides whining? Have you contributed time and/or money to address the problem, or are you just running your yap expecting other people to do the actual work?”

        1. ^^This. So much this. If you’re that worried about the problem you need to do more, far more, than whinge at city hall about it. If *somebody* should do something, then let that somebody be you.

          1. They really do aspire to be John Galt’s double-parasites, they just don’t want to admit it.

        2. That would be my response after being told they didn’t have a foundation, they were advocating for a government program.

  4. Next to directly helping people I already know, I like Freecycle.org because you meet face-to-face the people you are giving things away to, and often can have conversations about the history of the items you are giving away, what they will do with them, and so on.

    1. Yep, Freecycle is great. I’ve also learned when I go fetch something to ask, “Anything else you want hauled away?” and have come home with other useful discards.

      It’s really amazing what people give away… furniture, appliances, occasionally a whole house (mobile homes come up once in a while, too, and my travel trailer came from Freecycle).

  5. Giving to those that we know to be in need is probably the best way to help those that are having a hard time. Giving through charities, etc. is fine, but there are overhead deductions taken out of every donation.
    There are many people that have fallen into difficulties and also many that have chosen an alternative lifestyle.
    Several decades ago there was not the “homeless” problem we are seeing today. People, whether mentally ill or substance dependent, were often placed into institutions where they would be treated short or long-term. The “enlightened” policy makers and “advocates” for the mentally ill forced the closure of these institutions rather than strive to improve them, which in many cases should have been done. But, putting these people out into the street was not charitable or wise.

    1. There were supposed to be halfway houses in community settings — but nobody wanted them in their community. So the big mental hospitals were closed without the halfway houses to take them in, with predictable results.

      There was also the glamorization of drug (ab)use in the 1960’s and the PTSD epidemic among Vietnam veterans in the 70’s, but those exacerbated the problem created by the closure of most state mental hospitals.

      And yes, there were abuses of the state mental hospitals, including families committing someone simply for being “difficult,” but those could’ve been handled by reforms of standards for commitment, which have mostly been done (if anything, we’ve gone too far the other way, and it’s almost impossible to get someone involuntarily committed unless they’re an active danger to self or others).

      1. I work at a large, urban medical center. At any given time 1/3-1/4 of our ER beds are psych holds. Many are regulars. They get a short term admission somewhere, get discharged, and end up back in our ER. Over and over again. Long term custodial care with the opportunity to do simple work would be a blessing and would take some pressure off of acute care facilities.

        1. The people who really need a long-term custodial care situation seem to fall into two basic categories. One is the people who probably could live a functional life with supports to make sure they take their medications on time, get to their appointments, etc. but don’t have a stable family situation to provide it. The other is the people whose brains are just too messed up for present-day medical science to straighten out. Unfortunately, we don’t have a good situation for either, and the patchwork of short-term psych admissions and ER visits only make their situations worse.

          Thankfully the members of my family who struggled with mental illness have had plenty of support at home, but given that at least some elements of mental illness are genetic, it’s unsurprising that many don’t.

          1. One is the people who probably could live a functional life with supports to make sure they take their medications on time, get to their appointments, etc. but don’t have a stable family situation to provide it.

            Even With family support it is fraught with problems. BIL’s wife is dealing with this now. Her 91 year old mother sure can’t deal with the son anymore. Now it is up to his sister, age 68, with another brother stepping in as backup. The problem is when mom was dealing with him, well mom. With sister, sister is the meanie, the bad person, the bully. SIL is a smidgen away from just walking away … but … NOW there is a puppy involved … and there is still mom. SIL is ready to stop making the medical appointments needed, or insuring that he gets there, unless asked. But will still oversee the puppy and her mother’s care.

            I am glad my uncle died when he did, not long after grandma. By then he had been in a nursing home and all but a vegetative state. Grandma swore he understood, but was unresponsive as far as anyone else could tell. Until his sister and SIL (my mom) had to tell him his mother had died; he cried. Confined to a wheelchair, blind, non-verbal, and by all appearances deaf. Accumulative consequences of grand mal seizures from age 3. Grandma kept him home until she couldn’t, then he went to a group home, eventually the nursing homes. By the time he was in the various nursing homes, he was in no shape to protest. But the group home, had things been like now, he’d have walked away, been on the streets, and probably died there, and no one could have done anything about it.

  6. Great post, Sarah, and as usual I feel stronger after reading it.

    I’m living witness to both the generosity/charity of family, and the intense burning NEED to work, hard, at my new career paths.

    I have to work. I have to carry the weight of my own life, or I get sick in spirit.

  7. “…I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion of the means.—I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. In my youth I travelled much, and I observed in different countries, that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.” Benjamin Franklin

    1. People could “help” by refraining from making it illegal to “do for yourself”, because in a whole lot of ways we’ve made it (okay, not “we” but even so) illegal for people to work their way out of poverty by making it illegal to be poor and taking out all the incremental steps between a pile of rags on the street and a job and nice apartment. No way to walk up steps or “climb a ladder” that’s missing all the lower rungs.

      1. ^^this^^.

        I had a neighbor with one child when I was in grad school who was on welfare. She really wanted to work, but everything she was qualified for required her to have her own transportation. She couldn’t buy said transportation without a job, but there was no way to get the job without it. And the welfare system would rather pay her to stay home with her kid than assist her to get that job. Or the story of the woman who had to refuse a pay raise because by getting a $10 a week raise, she was going to lose $50 a week in child care assistance. She’d have loved the raise, but the system is designed to ensure that she can’t take it.

        1. I gather it’s the same issue with folks receiving disability–they don’t DARE exceed the income limit (set very low, mind you) even ONCE or they lose it.* Basically, even if they are able to work, and just need a bit of extra assistance with that disability income (presumably to help tide over on medical bills, say, or on those days when their disability prevents them from working) they are forced to not do it, lest they lose assistance they can’t afford to lose (but can’t build a decent life on either).

          *Of course, that is for the honest folks out there, like the single moms you referenced. I’m sure there’s plenty gaming the system.

          1. Yep. I remember an article in the local paper about a woman on disability complaining that she’d like to work, and she could work part-time, but if she did she would have lost far more in disability payments than she could earn, and she couldn’t live on the part-time pay. She’d have been happy to have her disability cut back, but she, understandably, didn’t think she should end up worse off by trying to partially support herself.

  8. It all sounds so easy doesn’t it? Do no harm, give justice, show mercy. But what is justice, what is mercy and, most importantly, how do I know? Even if I know, should I make someone else do it? It’s hard. Still, I really hate the nudgers, Fauci is the most visible one but they’re everywhere. They are the good people, they know what’s good for you. Mask up, 6 feet, stand aside, don’t eat meat, the whole bloody lot.

    Two men went up into the temple to pray: the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee standing, prayed thus with himself: O God, I give thee thanks that I am not as the rest of men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, as also is this publican. I fast twice in a week: I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not so much as lift up his eyes towards heaven; but struck his breast, saying: O God, be merciful to me a sinner. I say to you, this man went down into his house justified rather than the other: because every one that exalteth himself, shall be humbled: and he that humbleth himself, shall be exalted.

    Then it gets hard, because by identifying as the publican I become the Pharisee. Sigh. God’s ways are not man’s ways.

  9. Diverging from the actual topic – Sarah, don’t worry about Alzheimer’s. The last few months being blanked out is perfectly normal. (That you have any remembrance of the last two years is more than a lot of people – it’s been extremely choppy waters.)

  10. “If other ages felt less, they saw more, even though they saw with the blind, prophetical, unsentimental eye of acceptance, which is to say, of faith. In the absence of this faith now, we govern by tenderness. It is a tenderness which, long cut off from the person of Christ, is wrapped in theory. When tenderness is detached from the source of tenderness, its logical outcome is terror. It ends in forced-labor camps and in the fumes of the gas chamber.”

    Flannery O’Connor, Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose

    See also, that not-funny-ha-ha quip about how an awful lot of “mercy” is about putting other people out of the merciful one’s suffering.

    1. The later seems to be the true crux of the problem.

      The numbers on the children’s shot horrify me, yet out institutions are going to impose them anyways to ensure that their metrics show sufficient “regard for universal health”.

      This is going to make the Thalidomide scandal look like a kindergarden spat.

      1. If it’s going to be as horrific as some things indicate, #Teamheadsonpikes will have competition dealing with those responsible. The lucky ones will be jailed. (Where they didn’t kill themselves.)

        1. And thus we reach the Oresteia’s dark mirror.

          Would that it not prove so, but it is not for us to chose the times we live in. Only what we chose to do with the time we have. :/

  11. I’ve noticed a meme pretty often over the last few weeks that goes something like: Give a liberal a fish and he’ll eat for a day. Teach him to fish and he’ll steal your fishing gear, hook, line and sinker.

    The only official charity I regularly contribute to is the Salvation Army. I was quite impressed with their response when we were flooded, Fairbanks and environs under 3 feet or more of water. Red Cross, etc., not so much, especially when I researched how much of donated monies, with most official charities, goes toward “administrative expenses”.

    Other than money to the Sally, any charity I indulge in is one on one and yes I’ll Ming The Merciful on occasion. For example I’ve, when walking down Two Street, upon being hit up by a drunk outside a bar for cigarette money, handed him a fiver knowing he’ll go back in and buy booze. Hey it get’s him off the street in -40° weather for a while at least.

    1. The gal who ran our local Red Cross response group was *really* salty about the “quality” of the national or international branches.

      And when I say salty, she was married to a sailor at one point and DEFINITELY outclassed him for cursing ability.

    2. Same here – we always drop a contribution in the kettle when they begin appearing in front of stores at holiday time. The Salvation Army does charity right.
      Almost fifteen years ago, my parents lost their house to a more than usually destructive brush fire in northern San Diego County. They had nothing more than their vehicles, the pets and the clothes they stood up in, and while they were still in shock from it all, one of the local churches came around with small cash grants for everyone who had lost a home. It wasn’t much – about $75, but there were no strings attached, no application or anything. Just, “Here, we know that you might need a little something for expenses right away.” Mom still teared up a little, thinking about that, ages later.

      1. We drop in change every year. One year we also included Certificate for a Turkey. Hubby had been given it in a basket made up for all the employee’s and subcontractors in the log yard by the newly wed wife of the yard manager. Problem is, legally he couldn’t accept it. Didn’t matter there were no “strings” attached, she was doing what she thought was expected. He couldn’t dash her enthusiasm for seasonal baskets. We passed it on to the charity. Unfortunately our then toddler saw the wrapped Christmas package. He was understanding it went to toys for tots with the other toys we’d had him pick out to donate; 18 month old toddlers are not altruistic.

        Cub Scouts Pack did an annual toy for tots drive, through the local fire fighters. One den started doing bottle drives, then would take that money to buy the toys for the pack drive. Word got out, and the rest of the dens did this too. Not only did the cubs get a kick out of picking out the toys as a group, Toys for Tots get a lot more toys, not a single cub scout felt like their toy contribution was inadequate, and it surprised the fire fighters who showed up to pick up the toys. Then it was written up in the Council Newsletter. More dens started doing the same the next Christmas. Don’t know if still occurring, we’ve been out of Scouting now for almost 15 years, and cub pack level since 2000.

    3. Give a liberal to Cthulhu and he’ll be devoured for eternity. 😛

      Some of them deserve it…

  12. Things are worth what you pay for them. If you give someone a refurbished computer (for example), or a car that still runs but which has no trade-in value, they won’t value or appreciate it. $50 for the computer, or $100 for the car (I’ve sold cars for that before now) means they have skin in the game. The item cost them money. Sure, it was probably way less than market value, but it was as much as they could afford.

    Being Ming the Merciful, or in the UK Lady Bountiful, doesn’t help because the recipient of the mercy or bounty hasn’t earned it. Without skin in the game, without putting money or effort — and paying someone for work done with goods instead of cash still gives them skin in the game — things have no value.

    1. Skin in the game is why I recycle my cans at OmniSource. The money I get may not be much (a couple of weeks’ laundry or a few groceries), but at least I know it’s not going to be one of those scandals of “recycling” being sent to the landfill.

      1. Our county dropped most of the recycling BS when the Chinese stopped taking it. Oregon has a 10 cent deposit for drink cans and bottles, but anything else, we precrush. Glass is recycled (I have no idea why–it went to landfill in the SF Bay area 25 years ago) as well as non-shiny corrugated cardboard.

        Not sure who mandates it, but there’s an electronics drop-off site at the transfer station.

        1. Glass can be used in some road bed mixes. Surprised me when I learned about it.

          We’re still recycling, but the allowed items is way, way, down.

          Locally we have a number of locations to drop off electronics, including Bring, and one of the Goodwill locations (ONLY item type we will take to Goodwill). Anything either can’t strip and cobble together into working computer, or whatever, the components are stripped and recycled. Generally by the time we’ve gotten rid of electronics, the latter is occurring. Better than it getting tossed.

          We have neighbors who haunt salvage and garage sales for items to up-cycle, especially wood. They use the items to make other items out of them. Then sell them. Good solid oak is expensive. But not if it is in a old style computer table or dresser that just needs the wood refinished. They even took our old cedar fence posts, rather than let us up-cycle into the wood pile.

          1. There are crafters who scrounge worn and weathered fence palings to make bird houses and other country crafts out of. One of our neighbors sided a backyard shed out of recycled fence staves from. It looked very nice, actually. Fitted well into his backyard.

            1. Met a woman yesterday (she had been vending at the fiber festival that weekend) who had taken fabric, 2-liter soda bottles and zippers and somehow crafted yarn holders by mating fabric and bottle with the zipper. Open zipper, insert ball of yarn, thread yarn through (inverted) mouth of the bottle and voila! – yarn that can’t bounce across the floor while you work. All if from repurchased items. She said they sold pretty well, too.

              1. “Re-purposed,” #:&!!
                I’ll add she charged $5 if I remember correctly and hand-turned wooden yarn bowls were going for upwards of $100.

          2. Pretty sure they use glass in the reflective road paint used (especially) at crosswalks. Y’know, the stuff they lay down with a torch.

            … though I haven’t actually checked to confirm this.

            1. Yeah. At one time concrete counter tops were a thing (at least on Ask This Old House 🙂 ) and pieces of colored glass were incorporated into the mix for shiny. Never saw one in the wild, though. *Never* wanted to try it in a project. I did do a 6″ thick concrete wedging table when I was mucking with ceramics, but the concrete work was worlds of not-fun. Almost as painful as trying to use the potter’s wheel. I understand why the guy at one of the clay suppliers had hands that looked like crabs.

              I assume there’s a viable market for the scrap glass. Scrap metal doesn’t seem to be selling overseas, at least judging by the pileup in the new & used metal dealer/recycler. I do find myself wondering if domestic metal processing is going to make a comeback. Structural steel is probably lost to the East unless India gets nuked, but specialty steels were (maybe still are) done in the US.

              If the Green Nude Heel and it’s bastard relatives get scrapped, we should have enough electricity to get back into aluminum processing. Not sure why China is seeing power outages; them going green doesn’t pass the sniff test.

  13. Back when I was in high school you had to work in the cafeteria to get free or reduced lunches. Then that was considered demeaning to students from poor families. Really? How is working to earn your keep demeaning? The kids who bring lunch to school or whose parents buy lunch have to earn it, just not by working in the cafeteria.

    But once it became demeaning to work for food at school then food at school became an entitlement and pretty soon all the schools were feeding most kids most meals and now they are washing clothes for kids too.

    It will never end.

    1. Heh. My Dad was a veterinarian. After cleaning cages out, and especially squeegeeing out the outdoor dog runs in the middle of an Arizona summer day – none of his kids thought of any job as demeaning. (Illegal, or unethical, yes, but not demeaning.)

      Kind of bit them in the rear with me – I had convinced the school cafeteria manager that I was “poor” – and washed pots and pans in the kitchen for an entire school year before I was finked out by one of my sisters. That thirty-five cents a school day that I pocketed was the basis for my early SF collection. When caught out, the “guilt trip” that I was hit with wasn’t that I was doing a “demeaning” job – it was that I took an opportunity away from someone who actually needed it. Learned much later that Dad handed the manager $100 to let her add more of the deserving to her list.

      My kids hate this story, of course – because I always told them when they complained about sticking their hands into hot soapy water at home that they had no idea of what “hot” water is. It’s not “hot” until you have to lean back to keep your glasses unfogged in an already hot cafeteria kitchen.

      1. Should probably add that I didn’t have the worst possible paying job. The kids in the back, washing the trays and silverware, had it just as hot and humid as in those dog runs. (Just without the added fillip of eau de dog poo.)

        1. Before I could mow the back yard in Florida I had to remove my dog’s poo. In summer, in Florida….well, if you didn’t have a strong stomach you either got one or learned to gag and shovel at the same time. But at least it was only one dog.

    2. I worked at various jobs in my (boarding, co-ed) high school. Janitor, cafeteria dishwasher/cook, house painter, glazier, chemistry/physics lab assistant, reader, commercial laundry, … We got paid (minimum wage to start), usually enough to cover cafeteria bill, maybe some left over to go toward books and supplies. Learned some useful skills. Both my sisters did the same, if with a slightly different list of jobs. (The school also operated a dairy, smallish egg farm, vehicle repair business, commercial broom and mop factory.)

      I also learned about payroll deductions.

      I don’t think California even allows 14 year olds, perhaps even up to 18 year olds, to do this sort of thing any more. Pity, it was useful.

      1. I don’t think California even allows 14 year olds

        Oregon neither. Little more leeway with 16 and older, but nothing that involves machinery. Unless part of a farming family. Or rather the farming cousins could drive the farming carbine as soon as they could touch the controls with their feet, and see over the steering wheel, at the same time (age 14 for oldest, age 10 for her younger brother … as an adult she’s barely 5′). But the other younger cousins, great nephew and nieces, of same age to 10 years younger (as they got to those sizes), couldn’t be hired. They could hire HS senors if they were 18. Very frustrating for those who are not 18 at HS graduation … if one wants a job outside of retail or “do you want fries with that?”, even then hours are going to be limited because < 18.

  14. We’re all in God’s hands. He’s going to do what’s best. We might not like the flavor of some of it; but He is wiser than we are–as well as always, only, and continually good.

    We need to stop thinking this life is all there is. We need to adopt the long view. Hebrews 13:5-6 might help.

  15. I think learning to struggle/persevere is important. To some degree this is what does in the pampered children of the wealthy. Ultimately almost everyone runs into some kind of difficulty. If Daddy (or Mommy) has fixed everything well into early adulthood when things go wrong if either parents are NOT present or the failure is on that only the person can fix they have no coping strategies and they just break. They’re essentially brittle. On the other end of the scale those who have never experienced success or praise become angry and manipulative as this is how they’ve gotten their needs met. Again their personality is brittle. In either case when the massive failure comes these brittle ]people will often wander into drugs, alcohol or other addictions to soothe that thing they don’t know how to fix or endure. To be fair with enough failure any one can wander down that road, but a pliable personality is likely to take it for longer and is more likely to recover on their own.

  16. I’m all for helping the helpless, and I frequently do. Helping the clueless, though? Not so fast…

    “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

    ― C. S. Lewis

    1. In context, that quote was actually about not using immoral means (specifically, shifting criminal punishment to psychological ‘correction’) to do something for a person’s “own good.”

      He then went on to explain that the method he was objecting to, when *not* practiced by borderline angels, would be even worse.

  17. I have an observation that might appear unrelated, but I believe it merits pointing out there are many facets of societal disconnection, as well as how it manifests in different cultures. While China’s “laying flat movement” appears to be a more benign form, it might also be the start an individual’s cascade out of normalized community leading to still greater disconnection. Not trying to give this website clicks; I just picked one at random should y’all be unaware of this… https://www.insider.com/disenchanted-chinese-youth-join-a-mass-movement-to-lie-flat-2021-6

    1. “Lying flat” exists here- but not as a movement. A few years back was talking to a neighbor. She thought she was doing some good by helping one of the town’s ne’er do wells a warehouse job where she worked. Shortly before hunting season. He lasted 2 or 3 days- discovering he couldn’t just show up when HE was ready, and that he couldn’t just take off the day hunting season opened. He and his brother lived in what was basically a shack. They did odd jobs for neighboring farmers. The shack isn’t on any official town records as a structure… They work only as needed to get money for more beer and tobacco. And eat mostly what they hunt and trap and fish for.

      There are quite a few people like that scattered throughout the country. I’ve never met these two. But I’ve heard stories about them. From a few that use them once in a while for day labor. Most of us will on a day to day basis not encounter our “lying flats”. They exist on the outskirts of society.

      1. Our small town had someone a bit like that, I think. I think it was partly fetal alcohol syndrome. He got along with everyone so long as no one tried to tell him what to do, and took care of himself and worked at various things on his own schedule and hunted and fished and drank and was charitable, sharing or trading what he had. Just so long as no one tried to tell him what to do.

        He had to have made it to his mid 50’s before getting drunk and freezing to death in a snowbank, but can a person really say it was a bad life? (It might have been better with parents who didn’t drink and more structure as a child, but that wasn’t up to him.)

        1. And that’s one of the problems I have with liberty versus mental health. At what point does it stop being a choice, and start being a disease condition? The answer I have is, “when that person’s behavior starts impacting me.” e.g. poaching on my land, messing my property up, drinking and driving, etc. It does NOT include maintaining his property as an eyesore, even if it impacts my property resale value, as long as his conditions aren’t migrating onto my property (water contamination, pollution, etc.)

          1. The Soviet Union regarded dissident political opinions as a mental health problem. Such people were sent to sanatoriums to be “cured” by electroshock, insulin shock, or forced spinal taps, along other things.

            Helping people is one thing. Helping them with public funds… *Forcing* them to accept unwanted “help”… how do you draw the line where the help stops? Keeping in mind even the government doesn’t regard the Constitution as a limit to its powers.

            There are things worse than freezing to death under a bridge.

              1. If you aren’t quintuple vaxed and wearing a biohazard suit you are literally trying to kill people.

                We can’t have nice things for as long as there are disagreements about the nature of violence to this degree.

                    1. >> “Oh, so THAT’S how to make white phosphorus.”

                      Can I get a list of these textbooks you keep referring to? You have my word I’ll only use the knowledge as I see fit.

  18. I had this conversation with one of my daughter’s elementary school teachers, yeah verily, a decade ago. We did in fact move our charitable donations to ones where we “adopted” families and provided things like yard work, or car-washes for the elderly poor, cash for medical bills etc. It’s a lot more labor intensive though.

    What I say to my more feel-good type neighbors is to ask if they want to help people. The answer is usually an enthusiastic “yes.” I reply that I don’t (?!), I want people not to need to be helped. Also… The more people who cheat the system, the more innocents WILL fall through the cracks because we collectively lack the resources. Like enough parasites, and you die of colds, malnutrition, and other things you’d ordinarily shrug off.

  19. “Man is made to strive. He was right of course. Without some strife…”

    Thanks Sarah, I never realized the root of those words is the same.

  20. I’m a firm believer in Reynold’s law, “Subsidizing the markers of status doesn’t produce the character traits that result in that status; it undermines them.”

  21. The fire of moral certainty burns high and hot, but it leaves a fireplace full of nothing but ash in the cold night of the soul. In the end, only kindness matters.

    I mean that to be the end of my last message to my company when I leave. I hope it might make the SJWs think, but I only expect it to comfort those bullied by them.

  22. “Even people who have worked their entire lives decay fast when they retire.”

    I’ve seen this, but in my case it’s freed up the time allowing me to grow in new areas. I can also say that people who retire, or older people in general, sometimes decay because of the way they feel they are perceived by others. That is, a creeping feeling of being ignored or not taken seriously.

    Charity is a must for society and for our own sense of happiness and connection. But we need to have a good feel for where we aim and where to draw a line. I actually had a couple of bad experiences when I temporarily supported friends in bad situations and had to wind up pushing them out.

    Anyone remember how pathetic the rockets in the TV Flash Gordon looked?

    1. The thing is, some of the early rocket fuels looked a lot like Flash Gordon rockets. I was surprised when I watched footage.

      Mind you, they were not good rocket fuels.

      1. Liquid oxygen and alcohol, or liquid oxygen and kerosene. Robert Goddard did most of his rocket experiments with liquid oxygen and gasoline. He injected the gasoline so it swirled around the combustion chamber walls to prevent them from burning through. He eventually got it to work most of the time.

        When I was about 12 I read a book compiled from Doctor Goddard’s lab notes. Fascinating! His FWOOOSH to KABOOM! ratio was pretty bad, especially at the beginning.

        1. Almost everyone’s was. Goddard was mostly ignored, and every rocket designer and manufacturer started from scratch, “how hard could it be?” “Hmm…”

      2. Good combustion in rockets seems to be quite tricky. So, the early attempts would have probably had issues even with good fuels. Of course, at the earliest stage you don’t know what a good fuel is.

        With liquid fuels, you are probably spraying them into the chamber where they mix and burn. Even today, theoretical models of spray-into-droplets aren’t perfect, and theoretical models of mixing aren’t perfect. So, you would expect to need a lot of empirical work before you can get a steady controllable flame.

        As for solid fuels, I think most of the modern mixtures are around 20% aluminum by weight, plus some sort of plastic, and an oxidizer, and the shape is pretty important. Shape probably would have been difficult to design from first principles.

        1. Which is why the Russian Energiya rockets used 20+ small engines. They never figured out all the details that made the Saturn 5 F-1 engines work.

          The flow plates NASA eventually came up with effectively divided the F-1 combustion chamber up into multiple ‘virtual’ chambers, damping out the hypersonic surges that were blowing up every rocket engine above a certain size.

          Thus improving their FWOOOSH to KABOOM! ratio. Always a good thing.

        2. I liked Myth Busters when the use sausage as part of their solid fuel used a liquid oxygen source with it.
          It worked.

      3. Cue quote from Ignition!, about chlorine trifluoride:

        It is, of course, extremely toxic, but that’s the least of the problem. It is hypergolic with every known fuel, and so rapidly hypergolic that no ignition delay has ever been measured. It is also hypergolic with such things as cloth, wood, and test engineers, not to mention asbestos, sand, and water—with which it reacts explosively. It can be kept in some of the ordinary structural metals—steel, copper, aluminum, etc.—because of the formation of a thin film of insoluble metal fluoride that protects the bulk of the metal, just as the invisible coat of oxide on aluminum keeps it from burning up in the atmosphere. If, however, this coat is melted or scrubbed off, and has no chance to reform, the operator is confronted with the problem of coping with a metal-fluorine fire. For dealing with this situation, I have always recommended a good pair of running shoes.

        A one-ton spill of the stuff literally set the concrete floor on fire and melted through several feet of it.

  23. I can probably leave off laying out my view of society taking responsibility for keeping folks alive in free range asylums, then using cops as scapegoats for a ‘standard of care’ that cannot be anything but horrific.

    Yeah, without something to do, one rots. Unemployment is /boring/, it is all too easy to settle, and just not achieve anywhere near one’s potential.

    Also, I have an excessively skeptical view of even personal charity, due to a family member who went about it in a pathological way. See someone being very destructive trying to help others, working by rote and not actually seeing the other party can paint a distorted picture in one’s mind.

    1. As you are saying being LAZY is HARD. Anyone one can do it for a day or 2 but to do it for Weeks or Months?
      That takes real skill, talent AND Training.

      We must first define what WORK is. Work isn’t just something you get paid for. Work is also such things as gardening, Building things, creating things. Knitting is Work, Sewing is work, wood working is defiantly work. They may be fun but they are Work. Reading is NOT work, TV or surfing the Net is not work. (Unless they are part of Work and doing them for reasons).

      It is hard to be Lazy over time, to accomplish nothing, to be happy just being and enjoying the simple pleasures of life. You have to practice. Early in life and it is a life long pursuit. If you don’t practice, when you stop work you will go mad if you do nothing. You will have to FIND things to DO, things to accomplish. If you have practiced your laziness as you should then you will not have this problem. You will not feel the NEED to accomplish anything.

      Being Lazy doesn’t mean you can’t DO anything, it just means that doing nothing doesn’t bother you. You don’t feel the NEED to WORK. You can WORK but you don’t HAVE TO. That is the important part.
      Many people NEED to Work or HAVE TO Work and without it they just wither and die. Don’t be like them. Develop the ability to be LAZY, to accomplish nothing, to sit back and relax. Then when YOU wish, you can accomplish anything you want, or not. You are NOT driven. You also do things as you wish, doing things an easier way, finding easier ways of doing things, not caught up in “You MUST do it this way.”
      Practice being Lazy so that when you retire you can live a pleasant life, untroubled by the NEED to work. Where you can enjoy the people in your life

      1. I recall the story of a movie reviewer telling someone who had some envy and said “Oh, it must be great to get to see all those movies!” that it was not so great as it was NOT ‘getting to see’ the good movies, but also, and mainly, HAVING to watch all the bad ones.

        1. “Ever seen a bad movie? A really bad movie? One so bad you just have to get up and walk out?”


          “I can’t walk out.”


            1. Many years ago I picked through the shelves at a Blockbuster (remember them?) going-out-of-business sale and they had more bad movies than I ever knew existed. Even the blurbs on the boxes were bad! They had a couple of paragraphs to say anything they wanted to make the movie sound interesting, and they couldn’t manage that much.

              Box after box, I could only shake my head. “I can’t believe somebody actually spent time and money making this turkey. What were they thinking? What were they smoking?
              Leo Bloom: “Well, if we assume you’re a dishonest person—“
              Max Bialystock: “Assume, assume!”

  24. We were discussing the Goodwills and thrift stores just last night, having recently uprooted from New York and moved to Texas. About half of all our worldly possessions were not going to make the journey with us. So after gifting the best of the best to friends and relatives on Long Island, we started making regular pilgrimages to the Salvation Army and others with box after box of donations.

    What an unpleasant experience THAT was. My wife wrapped breakables individually in newspaper and we packed everything so neatly, but the creep at the rear door of the Salvo flatly WOULD NOT accept anything even loosely wrapped. So we spent at least one afternoon unwrapping all the items in a dozen Banker’s boxes one by one so that we would not have to cart it all back home.

    St. Vincent de Paul was even worse. They would only accept “lightly used” modern fiction hardcover books. No softcovers at all. No textbooks or reference books. No records or tapes, and unopened music CDs only. They would only accept “new, in the box” small appliances. And as for larger furniture donations, there was a minimum two items per address for them to come and pick up, and we had to send photos of each piece to see if it met with their standards before they would agree to come accept our charity.

    Funk dat. We ended up putting everything else out to the curb. Fortunately, we lived on a well-traveled road so that literally every scrap we put to the street was eventually taken. Fun fact: On three occasions, the person who stopped to collect our giveaways came up our impossibly long driveway to the house to make sure we were really giving the stuff up, and twice we were offered money. All three times it was elderly White men.

    1. Yup. I put stuff on the curb, in my neighborhood. Sometimes with a sign saying “free” or not. If it looks anything like usable, it’s gone in hours. The most amusing was last month, when the bulk trash pickup was posted by the city. We put out the den closet folding doors; cheap contractor items, which I had painted, in sort of a Japanese screen style: a rough gold background, with stenciled purple iris and green leaves on them. Someone took them away, even though one was slightly scratched.
      And we have scored a fair number of things put on the sidewalk, too. We call it “sidewalk shopping.”

      1. I always place gently used furniture items out the day after trash pick up. Almost always gone by the next day. Although there are what I call professional rag pickers in our area. People not from the neighborhood with nice red pickup trucks who collect resell-able things left at the side of the road, I assume for resale.

        1. Our former neighborhood was not traveled enough (out of the way cul de sac) for anyone to take anything. This one former owner told us things get snapped up, which is good, because….

        2. One of my friends in college (moderately tony private school) would scour the local dumpsters as soon as yearly finals started. Lots of the students threw out furniture rather than cart it home; he’d skim off the good stuff, refinish it over the summer, and make a minor fortune reselling it that September. (That was the summer. During the school year we worked together to change oil and tires, and undercut the local places by about 25 percent.)

        3. I stopped listing stuff as “free” on the local selling websites because I invariably got a car full of junk and a couple meth addicts who clearly were collecting stuff they could sell. Now everything has a price if I advertise it. Don’t need meth addicts having an excuse to come to my house.

          I do have the best give-a-way corner in town however and my neighbors routinely ask if they can put stuff there (even though it technically belongs to the city). Once someone (never did figure out who) put a broken treadmill on the corner of my property. I was sort of pissed and it sat there for something like two weeks looking horrible. Eventually it disappeared but I never did find out if someone took it for parts or if the owner came back and got it.

          The book series “The Stars Came Back” by Rolf Nelson has an interesting concept where a monastery is formed (present day) for homeless veterans. Eventually (four books with hopefully more coming) it evolves into an order of warrior monks with the stories scattered through the future and the Order as a constant theme. Heretics of St Possenti is the book that lays out the founding and it is well worth a read. Apparently there is a real life version happening although I am unfortunately skeptical about the likelihood of success as they are going multi-denominational, which I suspect will cause nothing but problems. Not sure where I saw it originally, it may even have been here.


      2. I’ve ended up getting rid of a few things that I had no use for myself, though more out of laziness from not wanting to go to Goodwill or the Salvation Army than anything. They always get picked up by morning.

    2. …that place that would only accept unopened CDs and new-in-box appliances…sorry, I immediately assume that they’re insisting on that because they can either sell it or pull a return scam by going to a retail store with a lax return policy. Same on the ‘lightly used’ hardcover books.

  25. Well-put as always, and that’s an absolute shame about the thrift store and dining set. It reminds me of a discussion among the Huns where one noted the high compassion, low critical thinking mindset that drives so much of this ridiculousness, when it’s not flat-out tyrants using it as an excuse to impose their will on others. It’s taken a while to get some appreciation for striving on my end, and I’ve still got a long way to go and plenty of endurance to build, but one other thing the Huns are good for is helping people get on that path. Still, hope things get less exhausting for you and your family soon and that includes the kitties of course! C wants to wish them well, too, since he’s insisting on even more lap time right now.

  26. Even Agent Smith of The Matrix recognized the importance of having purpose; indeed he spoke of it as being essential.

  27. Profound column, cleverly framed! In my years as a social worker, and also in my personal life, I saw plenty of evidence that giving people Government money, paid for apartments, etc., was highly destructive..Heinlein was right!!…In our personal lives, after retirement, my wife and I have found that we must keep busy, me with teaching and self improvement, her with an assortment of projects and modest causes…Boredom and uselessness are lethal to the soul…

  28. I don’t want to throw a stone so will not identify a catalog I received today that is from an organization that “helps” American Indians. I leafed through it thinking that it might be a nice place to buy some Christmas gifts – until I got to the page that said they have been “…helping for 30+ years…” Sad.

  29. When I retired from Federal service my boss told me to have a job or business going before I left. He said over and over, he’d watched people with 40 years service retire saying things like, ” Now I’m going to play golf every day,” or, “I’ve always wanted to fish. Now I can do it every day.” And they’d do whatever their dream activity was once…because they’d put it off so long the desire had atrophied. And six months to a year later he’d be at their funerals.
    We’re on our way home after six months on the road. Nine weeks of it went to volunteer projects. (Why yes, we did travel last year, though our route was a bit limited). Spouse already has us signed up for next year. God willing, we’ll do it again.

    1. On the other hand, my Uncle Henry really did play golf every day, for nearly 20 years after retirement until he got too frail to swing any more.

      1. My husband plays golf (almost) every day. Has since he retired 10 years ago, just before age 60. Goes on winter trips with the Men’s Golf Club. Never had touched a golf club when we married. Thought “chasing a little white ball around was stupid“. Then the guys at work got him playing a little. His sister needed to sell ex’s golf clubs (crappy set … we paid way to much but she needed the money). Then we got the kid playing (our son played on the HS team). The rest is history.

        I took golf lessons when I retired. Age, almost 60, at least for me, was too late. OTOH raising and training a puppy then taking up Dog Agility with her, at age 3, over the last 2 years, isn’t too late, even if I never take her to compete. I have other things to do to putter around. While I miss programming, I am glad I am not working. It is also an addiction I do not need to start back up with.

          1. I was very fortunate in that I wasn’t slotted into one notch of software where that is ALL I did day after day. I did the whole range from no design, designed, wrote, and delivered. Closest I ran into “just a programmer and support” was my last job. Even then the variety of the system, it became very difficult to get tired of it. Sure there were days I wanted to take the telephone and pitch it out the window. But not until the very end did I need a self pep talk to go into the office. I did work as much as I could from home, until I gave notice, risking getting fired. That was not related to the work, but one specific person, and I wasn’t even the direct target … OTOH I wasn’t going to be collateral damage either. Incidents did occur with the individual a couple of times not long after I left. One at the office, where he was tackled and ejected from the office but did not involve guns. Another involving guns and police, but didn’t occur at the office. (Drug related paranoia, and the boss’s adult child.) I have to hand it to my husband when I explained what was going on, note this was before the escalation. His response was two, one word, sentences: “Quit. Now.” Yes, hubby is a keeper. 🙂

          2. It’s a great skill to have for your own projects, though. The only crap you need to put up with is your own.

      2. But I bet Uncle Harry played on weekends before he retired. These guys never touched a club before they retired.

  30. An elder at my church ‘retired’ after 40+ years as a building contractor. I spent the two years prior to obtaining full-time gainful employment helping him remodel/repair things around the church building including erecting a 60-foot-long retaining wall above the parking lot). Still a half-dozen or so projects to be addressed as time and board-supplied funds permit. Oh, he also drives ‘short bus’ part-time for the local district.

    When I grow up, I want to be like Brother Larry.

    1. I want to be like my dad. He retired at 80 only because the drive into the mountains and back (an hour and a half a leg) was getting to be too much.
      So, he’s acquired half a dozen engineering hobbies and writes epic poetry on the side…. 11 years on, he’s doing fine.

    2. I tried to retire at 40, didn’t work. It had been my goal from the day I went to work, do 20 Years or so, make enough money and go. I dealt with psychopaths all day and needed to know
      It would end. should have known better since my father tried the same thing and failed for the same reason. Nothing useful to do and I need to be useful. Too much Thomas the Tank Engine I suppose. Now, 19 years on, I’m looking to do another 3 years of paid work and then retire for good. I have a plan this time and something useful lined up.

  31. Awww, nuts. Well, since comments are closed on the October 9 post ‘Who Is To Decide’, I’ll put this here.

    There is a necessary aspect to the ‘utilitarianism’ you find so objectionable. You (and me, and everybody else) consume resources in order to remain alive. If you (we) do not produce some value equivalent to those resources, somebody else has to. Voluntarily, or otherwise.

    So, being ‘good for nothing’ is a real, and undesirable, state. Too many ‘good for nothings’ will drag society down into squalor, deprivation and death.

    The evil of communism, fascism and socialism is that they drag down the ‘good for somethings’ in order to support the ‘good for nothings’. Which group most prominently includes the Party Leaders.
    There but one greater sin than to be right when those in power are wrong — proving it.

  32. Worked Fraud case back in DC on major major really big Charity. Issue was senior executives paying for mistresses and/or others on payroll and using funds for cars and apartments and such. Expanded to many other charities. By the end…the only charity I even consider anymore is Salvation Army. All the rest are corrupt and crooked. Keep your money….sell your stuff on FB (spit, spit spit), Next Door, Garage sale. Start early and be patient. We have had items (golf clubs) sit for a year before they sold but hey 50 bucks is 50 bucks….and those .25, .50, 1. 5. – can add up on a Saturdays garage sale. Even big items eventually sell.

  33. I quit giving to Goodwill when I learned that they were not a donation non-profit store like they implied. They are for-profit all the way. I put my stuff on a table in the senior apartment lounge now. Someone always takes it.

    1. BTW a lot of their workers are supplied by the court system for “charity” work and fulfill their judicial requirements. So free workers and free donations… That’s Goodwill

  34. My Wicca friends have a rule that goes something like “Harm none.” But looking back on half a century of life, I have to tell you that this rule is easier to believe in than to apply.

    Even the full form “If it harms none, do what thou will” is hard to apply. (I’d say the blanket “Harm none” is impossible. I don’t think even Jainists manage.) The full rule gives blanket permission to acts that actually do harm none, but leave the responsibility for acts that cause harm in the hands of the actor, who has to weigh the risks and benefits.

  35. I’ve read that the huge donations of second-hand clothes and food to Africa have done little besides drive local producers out of business. Who can compete with free stuff?

  36. https://babylonbee.com/news/divided-nation-finally-united-over-hatred-for-houston-astros

    Akshully, I think I had a meal with an Astros fan Saturday.

    Okay, I’m not a fan of professional sports, but I would really wish that folks stop contributing to evil by continuing to support professional, college and highschool teams. The fans of college and highschool sports are contributing by sheltering the schools from being dismantled and abolished.

  37. “The vices are, indeed, let loose, and they wander and do damage. But the virtues are let loose also; and the virtues wander more wildly, and the virtues do more terrible damage.” Chesterton

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