Paying the Price

I think the beginning of maturity is realizing everything has a price.

There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch, if you will.

And then you continue learning it, throughout your life.

If you’re looking at me askance and wondering how I came by such a materialistic view of the world, take a deep breath and read what I wrote again. I didn’t say the price is in coins, or in dollars, or in any symbolic denomination, though I suppose symbolic denominations make the price easy to see, sometimes. More on that later.

What I’m saying is that everything you want has a price. And the prices you don’t see are often the most terrible of them all.

Telling your kids they can have anything they want is outright destructive, if you don’t add “if you’re willing to pay the price.” Telling your kids they are so smart they can go anywhere is again, destructive, because success in life is not “just” intelligence. It requires a lot of other qualities, and the acquiring of them,as well as the performing of various positions that might look easy or prestigious from outside, is always more expensive than you’d think.

People who find it unfair that a CEO gets paid more than a store cashier might also have other mental deficits, but most of all they have failed to realize that there are prices to pay. Yes, of course being a cashier can be mentally and physically draining as well as unpleasant. I trust you to believe me, having known some, so can a CEO’s. It’s more that the CEO never can lay the job down and walk away, and that the job has the potential to eat everything else they love, something cashiering hardly ever does. (Unless it’s your own store and then it’s a wholly different animal.)

And that’s the other thing. When I was growing up in Portugal during a socialist upheaval, there was much grumbling about those dastardly business owners. But if you’ve been one, or known one, you know what every business owner — even owners of writing businesses — must do, what time and love and sheer effort much to to secure any success at all. People who own businesses are often owned by them, and what goes into them is heart’s blood. It’s a price. And you pay it. Knowing that sometimes no matter how much you pay it won’t be enough.

That most selfless and noble of all decisions, marrying for love, has a price too, depending on who you marry and when. In my case, for instance, it cost me accreditation and connections, and things that would have made the price for achieving high business and monetary success less onerous. I paid in my hands in dishwater, in learning to sew and mend, and yes refinish furniture, and other things. Though part of that price was for the right and privilege to lever my lance in the field of fiction writing.

I’m not complaining of the price. Totally worth it. But I also can understand my parents’ resentment — no, perhaps too strong a word — apprehension, concern and frustration at seeing me toss out a degree for which they’d paid — not in money. That I dealt with, but in not having me apprentice or enter the factory and bring in money for the house from the age of ten or so — and choose a much harder path with what must have seemed to them as much, much higher risk and lower potential rewards.

Having kids has a price too. My parents paid it, and I’ve paid it. And perhaps the biggest, most onerous cost of having kids is how it affects everything else in your life.

It makes sense that when you’re little everything you are and everything you do will go to “feed” the children’s needs whether those be in food, or time, or learning materials. It’s like a crisis situation that goes on roughly two decades, as you try to do the best you can, so they can be launched as well as you can afford to.

But more important is the price no one tells you you’ll pay. A friend, on losing her son posted on facebook that being a mother was having a piece of your heart running around in someone else’s chest.

Maybe not every parent is like that, but I’ve found that’s true of me (And not mothers only. I believe my husband feels the same way.)

And yeah, you blame yourself for all their stumbles, failures, and character defects no matter how small, even when they obviously are not your fault. That too is a price. As is understanding that at a certain point they have to pay their own price. If you try to pay it for them it will go wrong. At the very worst they’ll never realize the price. At the intermediate level, they’ll end up in a destination you chose, with a price you paid, and even if everything is great, they’ll wonder if that’s where they want to be. Because it’s not their destination and they didn’t pay.

There is a reason humans give birth in pain. Without it, how much would the average person value the mewling infant that needs them for everything.

You can’t pay the price for anyone else, because how do you know they even want that? And if they do, how do you know they’d pay that price, themselves or have you pay it for them.

Look, look back on your past, how many times did you make a choice of a path that you now wonder why on Earth?

Everyone I know at some point says “if I knew then what I know now.” Like if I knew which country I’d spend my life in, I’d have taken that computer science scholarship out of high school. Far more useful than languages, here. But I didn’t know, and it would have seemed far-fetched. So I went with what I knew, and made a less than ideal decision.

Most of all what our decisions cost is other decisions. You choose to be a stay at home mom, instead of a high power executive…. Or vice versa. Either way you sacrificed your self and the path not taken, and taken a risk.

Given how dependent on the situation and your knowledge at the time the decision is, how can you make it for someone else? You don’t know their own knowledge of their situation, much less do you know as they do what motivates them, and what they’re willing to sacrifice for what they want. Sometimes, even they don’t know it and are acting on an hunch.

It makes sense to make those decisions for little kids. “Yes, you will sacrifice your chance to play in the rain for the goal of not getting cold and potentially sick, because I say so.” Or “You’ll sacrifice the potential fun of petting the mountain lion, because I don’t want you mauled.” Because little kids don’t know any better.

But every year more of the decision should be theirs, because they know what they’re willing to sacrifice, not you. You can advise, inform, and help. You can worry sick that they’re closing the door on opportunities, or ignoring advantages. (That’s your price for the joy of having them.) But you can’t decide for them. You can’t sacrifice for them. You can’t live for them.

Even if you know more now than they do now, you’re not them. Your knowledge of them isn’t as exact, and you don’t know what drives them. Not even your kids, whom you’ve known from birth (and for mothers before.)

You can’t live someone’s life for them, because only they know the price they’ll pay.

My husband I have turned our backs on paths leading to fortune at least three times. TBF we didn’t tell our parents of it, but I’m sure they’d disapprove. But the price required was too high for us, either in time, or in required obeisance to repulsive ideas.

We picked a calmer and poorer life. The price was ours to pay.

Given that parents and children who (most of them) love each other and know each other incredibly well, can’t make that choice for each other, how can a government? Particularly a distant government, of a continent sized nation.

It might seem right and just to them that we incur famine to avoid the Earth temperature going up a degree over a century. It certainly isn’t my decision. The Earth has been warmer in the past with no catastrophe, and I don’t want to starve to death. I don’t even want to surrender the comforts of the 21st century to appease their cult of an angry weather goddess in which I don’t believe.

And it’s not their right to make that choice for the rest of us. Particularly when they use up more fuel in attending the “conferences” for their supposed “emergency” than I’d spend in a 100 years of living a normal 21st century life. Just like it’s not their right to tell us how to defend ourselves, where to live, how many children to have.

None of that is theirs to decide, because they don’t pay the price. We do.

Everything in life has a price. And to force others to pay the price for the result you want is evil.

Plain, unadulterated, irreconcilable evil.

Left to run rampant, it will destroy the world and all in it.

110 thoughts on “Paying the Price

  1. One thing that is forgotten among many is that money is merely a convenient medium for trading goods, time, and services. It is just easier than barter.

    1. Every so often I trot out Adam Smith’s description of the difficulty of using a cow as currency. The students catch on really quickly that making change is, to put it mildly, a challenge. Among other problems.

      1. Look up the story of “The Negotiable Cow” sometime. You can’t use a cow for cash—but you can write a check on one!

        1. Not just a story. Anything can be made a negotiable instrument and if you endorse it in blank it becomes a bearer instrument. Always be careful writing Pay to the ….. on anything.

      2. In old Irish law, one milk cow equaled one ounce of silver, or three slave women (3 cumal).

        A cow in calf was worth 2/3 of a milk cow.

        A three-year-old heifer = 1/2 of a milk cow.

        A two-year-old heifer = 1/3 of a milk cow, or 1 cumal.

        A yearling heifer = 1/4 of a milk cow.

        A yearling bullock = 1/8 of a milk cow.

        There were also rules about how many “set” or jewels that a cow was worth, and that varied a lot. So did the number of cumals that a cow was worth.

        But that’s how you make change for a cow.

    2. And money consists of gold,.silver and copper/bronze. Currency is not money, merely a transferable representation of money. And fiat currency is not even that, it is simply a commonly accepted.non interest bearing, bearer bond, which is deflated by its issuers.

      1. Money is whatever society says it is. If you can be confident that you can trade something with pretty much anyone for what you want, that something is money. It doesn’t matter if that something is gold, seashells, carved rocks, or pieces of paper.

        Fundamentally all currencies are fiat. It was government fiat that declared an ounce of gold to be worth $20.67 and another government fiat made that same ounce worth $35. The only thing that’s special about specie currencies is that it makes it difficult to expand the money supply. That has advantages and disadvantages.

        1. That is not the only advantage of specie money, nor even the most important one. The most important advantage of specie money is not some magical attribute of gold or silver, it is the extremely simple aspect that gold and silver’s perceived value is largely independent from the practices of the issuing government. You can certainly argue that governments adulterate specie, but to whatever extent there is metal content in the currency it has a value as a medium of exchange independent from that government’s reputation or even existence. A confederate $20 bill is today worth nothing. The same $20 in the form of a gold coin is still .96 troy ounce of gold and exchangeable today. Specie is not fiat money. Its value can be situationally limited or expanded by government fiat as when a government declares it to be worth an amount different from the market bullion price, but that is always a temporary phenomenon because if the values diverge significantly markets rapidly arise, even if illegal, to restore them to balance.

          1. If you have any of those worthless Confederate dollars hanging around, I’ll be happy to take them off your hands. 0:)

          2. “it is the extremely simple aspect that gold and silver’s perceived value is largely independent from the practices of the issuing government.”

            That’s simply a side effect of the fact that the government cannot readily control the amount of specie in circulation.

            “pecie is not fiat money. Its value can be situationally limited or expanded by government fiat as when a government declares it to be worth an amount different from the market bullion price, but that is always a temporary phenomenon because if the values diverge significantly markets rapidly arise, even if illegal, to restore them to balance.”

            Incorrect. Governments have changed the price of gold several times in the past. The gyrations you’re describing are why all specie currencies have failed.

      2. What inherent value do gold and silver (and copper) have?

        Everything is worth what its purchaser will pay for it, remember. (And if you’ve ever played Civilization, you probably heard that in Leonard Nimoy’s voice).

        The problem with printed money isn’t so much that it lacks an inherent value that gold and silver have. The problem is that with money that’s tied to things you have to mine out of the ground, it’s hard to devalue the currency, whereas it’s easy to do so by printing more money. But it can still be done, and there are plenty of examples throughout history of governments devaluing their own gold and silver coins by changing their metal content without telling anyone. The problems of fiat currency are not new. “There is nothing new under the sun”, as the author of Ecclesiastes repeatedly says.

          1. Right. Copper is relatively expensive right now because it’s highly useful in wiring, but if in the future we discover some other material that’s better for wiring and easier to produce, the price of copper will drop as nobody will want to buy it any more. Until someone else discovers that it makes an awesome material for something else, say the jump coils on warp engines, at which point the price will rise again because it’s suddenly in high demand again. And so on, and so forth, ad infinitum.

            1. but if in the future we discover some other material that’s better for wiring and easier to produce

              That is the one of the other benefits of asteroid minding crashing gold and silver prices forever beyond the obvious win of ruining the inherent value theorist’s religion.

              They are both better conductors that copper (silver a bit better than gold). Plus gold is a fantastic corrosion barrier: the future is gold lined water heater tanks.

              1. Gold is less conductive than copper, it just doesn’t tarnish. Silver is more conductive than copper, but much less abundant.

                When copper was a strategic metal in high demand, the Manhattan Project requisitioned hundreds of tons of silver from the U.S. Mint and wound the Calutrons with silver wire. After the war, they melted it down and gave it back.

                1. Gold is less conductive than copper, it just doesn’t tarnish. Silver is more conductive than copper, but much less abundant.

                  Right, I got that mixed up.

                2. Gold has inherent value for plating various electrical/electronic components, and doesn’t tarnish. Silver is a significantly better conductor than copper. Copper is more abundant than either. You pays your money and you takes your choice.

                  How about germanium or anti-agathics? Blish thought highly of both… 🙂

                  1. Strictly speaking– like the bread example– those metals have utility.

                    If something’s useful for stuff you’re not doing, it doesn’t keep value, but it keeps the qualities.

                    1. Value is subjective, that’s the Austrian economists key insight. Trying to find inherent value has caused much mischief in economics. Marx got the notion of the labor theory of value from Adam Smith.

                      As you say things might be useful for a purpose but if no one wants it it has no “value”.

                      I’ve found it better not to argue about this concept, it tends to be full of sound and fury signifying, nothing. That said, I do suggest a small portion of one’s “wealth” be held in the traditional measures of value — gold, silver, gem stones — and then lost in a tragic boating accident.

                    2. I’ve found it better not to argue about this concept, it tends to be full of sound and fury signifying, nothing.

                      I just mock them like the communists. Only real difference is that the ITV people don’t have quite as high of a body count as the communists do.

                      Even if Spain is sweating profusely in the background.

                    3. Point. But, given that my word choice could have been better, I’d still argue that utility implies value, even if not in the usual monetary sense.

                      Probably unnecessary disclaimer: I’m not an economist, I never played one on TV, and I’ve never stayed in a Holiday Inn Express… 🙂

                    4. :laughs: Don’t worry, I mostly picked you to point this out for because you didn’t make any complicated statements in it– as much as folks complain about semantics, they are important.
                      The distinction between being a human, and being a person, and being alive– all of which get used pretty much interchangeably when people agree that all living humans are people should be known, even if in casual speech Everybody Knows what you’re saying.
                      Example because I still have “Is Data Human?” on my bookshelf. 😀

                    5. I would point out that being observant, thoughtful, and careful counts for a lot when it comes to generalism. Generalism is both very hard to actually pull off, and something where a lot of people ignore the low hanging fruit.

                      Actually verifiable expertise that should be trusted is often extremely narrow. Frequently, people trust it more broadly than they should.

                      It may be common for economists to be narrow, and entirely within their own silo of academic theory, and for that reason actively worse than even a very weak generalist when it comes to broad thinking that includes economics. When your expertise is only in theoretical manipulation of theoretical models that treat government interventions as the /only/ independent variables, you can be an economist and at the same time have very limited understanding of real world economies.

                    6. A currency can be too hard. For example, one cause of the American Revolution was the lack of coins in the colonies.

                      Everything is relative. Gold is a store of value when there are mechanisms to facilitate easy exchange. In extremis, a box of cigarettes, a water filter, or needle & thread will be more valuable than gold.

                    7. Increasing the amount of money in circulation has often led to economic booms by making it easier to make transactions. This can include SMALL coins, too, as those make it easier to make change.

                    8. …and if increasing the money supply to match the amount of value being created in the economy is good, then increasing it far beyond that value must be even better! Just look, everybody’s getting rich!

                      A soap bubble looks really impressive just before it pops, too.
                      My grandpa voted Republican until the day he died — but he’s been voting Democrat ever since.

                3. The Project had absolute priority for everything. They needed lead for radiation shielding, so they took it.

                  Unfortunately, there was barely enough lead available for other military needs, such as ammunition. The ammunition problem became so acute the War Resources Board managed to negotiate the shady channels of tippy-top-secret to find out where all the lead was going, and even further, to contact General Groves himself. Was their anything at all that Groves could use instead of lead? Groves asked his boffins. “Gold would work.”

                  The WRB had clout. A few days later, the first gold bars left Fort Knox for Oak Ridge and Los Alamos, and the WRB got its lead. Feynman talked about using gold bars for paperweights and doorstops at Los Alamos.

                  1. A Good Delivery bar is a bit much for a paperweight, but I’d love to have one as a doorstop (about $780K, these days).

              2. as someone who discovered my water heater spewing at 11:oopm on a weekend, I am fascinated and looking forward to the hot water heaters of the future!!!

          2. Obviously, you’re not in electronics business. Gold is ideal(literally,) for low voltage switch contacts. Anything else will oxidize resulting in eventually no current, IOW, not a switch. Silver will solder with lead free solder (as will gold). We can’t use solder with lead in it anymore.

            Gold and silver do have utility, which creates value.

            As utility does for everything else.

        1. True but trivial. Gold and silver have had significant market value in civilizations going back as long as we have records. Pretending there is no difference between a piece of paper that has value only so long as people believe in the government backing it, and a coin that has value as long as people value gold is simply not a supportable position. Yes, both depend on someone being willing to accept them, but in one case we have 10,000 years of people being willing to accept gold and in the other we have a plethora of examples of governments abusing the trust to the point where no one accepts the currency. You can certainly argue that the advantages of fiat currency outweigh the disadvantages, but that position depends on the government, or in the US the Fed, showing some restraint.

          1. That’s because gold is more portable than all the other barter items you might be carrying, and it doesn’t rust away.

            It also makes it easier to trade, in that you don’t have to find someone that wants your carrots before you can trade them for the eggs you need.

            You still have to get people to agree that this shiny rock is a reasonable medium of exchange for things that have actual value, like things you can eat and things you can make other useful things with.

          2. A throwaway in Tim Powers’ “Dinner at Deviant’s Palace” was a local government had based its money on distilled spirits and enforced a monopoly on distillation. So its money had inherent value; you could get drunk on it, use it for cleaning, or burn it for lamp fuel if you didn’t want to spend it.

            More portable than cows or giant stone wheels, and a lot easier to make change with, too.

        2. I would submit that a loaf of bread has inherent value. Especially if you’re hungry.

          Potable water, medicines, arable land, domestic animals — all have inherent value, in that they can directly meet some absolute human need.

          Copper wire, steel plates, aluminum bars — these also have inherent value. You can build useful things with them.

          Silver, gold, jewelry — these commodities have some inherent value, but it is only a fraction of their assigned value. Their greatest advantage is that they are impossible to counterfeit. You can’t print gold. Gold can be adulterated with other metals, but such deception is fairly simple to detect.

          Fiat currencies have ONLY symbolic value. The paper and ink in a 100 dollar bill have practically zero inherent value; the bits that represent a bank balance or a Bitcoin have none. Fiat currencies are worth no more than what somebody else is willing to trade for them.

          Fiat currencies can be expanded without limit by an irresponsible government. Printing more money does not create value any more than printing empty bread wrappers can feed the hungry. Baking more bread DOES create value.
          Governments can only print money; they can’t make it worth anything. They can make it worth nothing.

          1. Even those things do not have inherent value: their value is situation-dependent. A loaf of bread has more value the hungrier you are, but if you’re well-supplied with food then its value its minimal: you routinely leave hundreds of loaves of bread on the store shelves because you don’t need them and aren’t willing to pay even a dollar or two for them right now. Baking more bread only creates value if people need bread: if there’s a glut of bread but a shortage of wheat for other things (for example. the pharmaceutical industry uses gluten from wheat to make capsules), then baking that wheat into bread instead of using it to make pill capsules has actually destroyed value.

            Everything‘s value is relative to the situation. It’s just that some things (food, water, and so on) are pretty much always in demand, so it looks as though they have inherent value. But even those things will fluctuate in value depending on the current supply and how much demand there is; their value, too, is relative.

            1. Similarly, gluten-free baked goods have a correspondingly high value to those who want/need them. (Looks at price of GF bagels and winces.)

          2. “…such deception is fairly simple to detect.” Is “Eureka!” appropriate here? 😉

    3. It wasn’t all that long ago that the greenback dollar was essentially a promissory note, sans agreed redemption date, exchangeable for silver.


      Ah for the good old days.

      1. And that was the value of the gold (or silver) standard. Not the fact that gold and silver have inherent value, but that the bills were tied to something that had a finite supply (albeit expandable by mining) and therefore the government couldn’t choose to inflate the currency whenever they chose. (Well, they still could, as you see from things like Roman history where they repeatedly debased their currency by making silver coins slightly smaller or with less silver content — but it’s a lot harder to manage that than to just order the printing presses to run full-speed.)


    Skeletor: Punishable by a fine means legal for a price.

    Until next time…

    1. W. Churchill [paraphrased]: We have already ascertained what you are, Madame. Now we are merely negotiating the details.

      1. That seems to be attributed to all sorts of people. The version I heard claimed it was Bernard Shaw.

    2. Which is why the Detroit signs “Hit a highway worker, pay 10k” made me wonder if any of them was worth that kind of money just to hit them…. 😉

      1. Yes, but there is no way of telling by looking which ones. Nor are they a majority.

  3. I would say “cost” rather than “price,” but that’s because I’m used to the technical definition from economics: The cost of something is the most valuable other thing you give up in order to get it. I think that’s the idea you’re describing, isn’t it? In any case, if I think of it in those terms it makes sense to me.

      1. I thought of the saying “‘Take what you like,’ said God; ‘take it, and pay for it.'” I don’t remember where I read it, but it was purported to be a Spanish proverb.

    1. If my rather faint memory of economics is correct the term the economists use is opportunity cost. If I choose X what things y, z, Alpha and Aleph do I miss out on and are precluded by that choice. Tanstaafl is real even if the price/cost is just listening to some spiel. At one point in Starship Troopers I think Col. Dubois (may be in H&MP in Officer training its been a while I need to fix that) references the song “The best things in life are free” noting that is both nonsensical and wrong in a rather literal sense and yet that the most valuable things in life are without a price in a physical sense, but yet are invaluable (or perhaps infinitely valuable) in another sense. Its the thought of Robert Frost’s “Two Roads Diverged” to some degree, except who knows which path is less traveled.

      1. The opportunity cost of having your cake is eating it.

        The opportunity cost of eating your cake is having it.

      2. Economics has opportunity costs and sunk costs. The opportunity cost is what you have to give up to do something now; the sunk cost is what you gave up some time in the past to get the present opportunity. The sunk cost is irrelevant to any current decisions! Learning that principle was one of the most helpful and freeing things I ever learned. I often think of sunk costs as “accounting costs” (because accountants are basically historians) and opportunity costs as “economic costs” (because economics is focused on how you make decisions NOW).

        1. Right for the present (and likely for always?) time’s arrow runs one direction for us mere mortals. You can (maybe) change what you’ve already done (those sunk costs) but at additional cost and opportunity costs/changes.

  4. My Pop always said that you play the cards you’re dealt. A caveat to that is that periodically, you’re the dealer

  5. Right now, the communists who’ve taken over the government aren’t feeling the price of what they’re doing. I read that a government agent breezily said that no, he wasn’t feeling the ‘pain at the pump.’

    Armed security around politicians who want to take our guns away. Shootings of babies in the streets of cities where “defund the police’ and “bail reform” have been implemented, while the politicians reside behind armed gates. TANSTAAFL, but for them, when will they pay the price?

    1. A friend of mine was telling me the other day that one of her acquaintances was in California recently and paid $7 a gallon for gas.

      She, being from a foreign country, expressed surprise that no one was rioting over the fuel price yet.

      I didn’t have the chance to explain that we aren’t rioting about fuel prices because we know the service stations aren’t at fault for them and the people who are at fault are at least 4 days drive away. And we’re pretty big on getting the person who is actually the problem.

      Which is the disadvantage of living in a country you can’t walk across in a week.

      But that’s the (probably unintended) brilliance of this for the FICUS’ regime. They’ve made it so that anyone who wants to take them out can’t afford the gas to do so.

  6. Yes, I’d say “cost” rather than price.
    When I chose to have my daughter (having become inadvertently pregnant by the guy that everyone thought I would marry, but he inconveniently had another plan) I am certain that it cost me a dead-certain chance at a regular military commission as an officer. But yeah – no regrets on that cost.
    I was furious and disheartened at not having the end-of-mil-career choice of an assignment as I had wanted in Utah. I had wanted to go back to a unit that I liked very much, felt of good use to and had connections there to a good post-service job, and a house that I purely loved. Texas was my third choice. But they all worked out for the best.

  7. Churchill had it right. Blood, toil, tears, and sweat. Pay up.

    As we say in Flight Test, “No Bucks, No Buck Rogers.” (The most accurate line in the entire movie, FWIW)

  8. I spent this weekend in Bay City, MI – a 600 mile drive each way – to celebrate the high school graduations of three of my grandchildren. Fifty + people at the picnic, odds all of them. Children, grandchildren, “steps” of various generations, several people who had needed a port in a storm and pulled their own weight and were “adopted”. Every one of them had cost Michele and I time and effort, concern, tears , laughter, etc. And everyone of them calls me PopPop. I am a blessed and happy man. And the family motto is TANSTAAFL.

  9. “So I went with what I knew, and made a less than ideal decision.”

    Wrong. Stop castigating yourself up about it.

    You made the best decision you could based on the information you had. Best = Ideal.

    The thing a lot of people don’t get, and all intelligent leaders understand, is that decision making is a time-dependent activity. Sure, with infinite time and infinite knowledge and infinite power, you can always make the perfect decision every time. You need to make your decision within a finite window. Exceed that window, and then the dynamic changes both the facts, the options, and the possible outcomes into a completely different decision. Exceed that window, and you often lose the entire opportunity. And THAT is a less than ideal decision. I’m not God. You’re not God. So don’t beat yourself up trying to do His job.

    But you are absolutely right that nobody else has the right to make your decisions for you. Our forefathers were willing to kill, and to die to keep the right to decide for themselves. They knew and understood the consequences of their decision. They knew what would happen if they failed. Reagan was also right when he said, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.” But if it comes down to it, I aim to follow Patton’s, “No poor bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making other bastards die for their country.”

    God Bless you all.

    1. Absolutely this. Failing to make a decision is, in its own way, making a decision. So you make the best choice you can with the information you have in the time frame that’s available.

      This is also why I’m a libertarian. I want to be able to make my own decisions, and I don’t want to make anyone else’s. This does not seem to be a majority viewpoint, unfortunately.

      1. “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.” — Freewill, by Rush

        Or as I put it in a story I’m writing:
        She spoke up again, trying to be persuasive. “Right now, this decision is yours to make. Or not make. But if you wait too long, it will be taken from you. Somebody else will decide what to do with me, and you will have no choice about who that is, or what they will do. Most of our choices will be taken from us, and all of the ones that don’t end badly for everybody.”

      2. A counter-point: Making a decision too soon can unnecessarily foreclose opportunities. As I like to put it, “I don’t procrastinate, I just don’t make decisions before it’s necessary.”

        The trick, of course, is determining when is the necessary time for the decision – and being ready to make it at that point.

  10. “Economists are often accused of believing that everything – health, happiness, life itself – can be measured in money. What we actually believe is even odder. We believe that everything can be measured in anything.”

    David Friedman, Hidden Order – The economics of everyday life

  11. Life just runs on, a continuous series of choices to be made daily, monthly and yearly. I just feel that I’ve been very lucky overall. I’ve turned down good jobs in Connecticut, New Jersey, and Iowa. All to stay in my hometown, especially because my oldest daughter, who is age 37, is handicapped and has had a very hard life. I stick around for her and it is a choice I would gladly make every day, any time. Money isn’t always the real driver of things. Family is. Good luck to everyone here with that.

  12. Daughter unit was an assistant mgr at a store, they wanted her to be a manager. She told them no. Managers have no life. More money, no life. There are costs that are not money.

    1. In my experience, they actually have neither. The extra hours they are required to put in often bring their “hourly” wage down below what they would have made before. One lady I worked with said that if her wage was calculated hourly she’d be making minimum wage. She was often there when I got there and when I left, she worked from home, she made many business trips to clients, and had no life outside of work.

      A friend calculated his wage if he took a management position, and it dropped below what he made as an assistant manager.

      No thanks.

  13. When I got fired from my job at one of the big investment banks back in 2006 for raising the alarm about mortgages, I semi-retired into a much less taxing and much lower paid position. I had been commuting from NY to Chicago after spending years alternating weeks between London and Hong Kong. The children were growing up without their father and my wife said “there’s more to life than money.” This was something that hadn’t really occurred to me, I was so focused on money and the things it could buy.

    Since then, I have resolutely refused promotion and our life simplified a great deal. I don’t drive an M5 anymore, the wife doesn’t have a Range Rover. Our house is significantly smaller. Then again, it’s hardly a shack. We did send the kids to private school, but my grandpa father taught me that one always finds money for what one values.

    Best decision we ever made.

  14. I guess I’m really odd. I’ve made mistakes and learned from them, and even profited from them monetarily. I’ve done things that made others aghast and survived and even profited from them. I walked away from the love of my life for 5 years, yet was miraculously reunited with her and had 41 years with the best woman who ever lived. (Apologies to those of you of the fairer sex, but I would never trade a minute I had with her for time spent with anyone else.) If I’m good enough, I’ll see her again when she’s done with her long list of questions for The Big Guy. If I’m not, I’m sure she’ll nag Him until He changes His mind.

  15. I campaigned against the Vietnam War and paid the price. Several friends shunned me, forever. People yelled at me, and called me a traitor. One Vet saw me from his window and opened his front door in his army fatigues. He held a rifle – pointed down – loose at his side. I paused for a moment and listened to his tirade. Then, I kept walking the precinct, and he kept yelling at me. Our best candidate lost in the primary – it was a very bitter loss. We were all terribly depressed. But, looking back, I think it was worth the price.

    The next time I participated in a campaign, I detested the candidate. My bandleader had booked the gig without considering our individual political leanings. That was a hard effing pill to swallow. It still hurts. That price was too high.

  16. “There are no solutions, only trade-offs.”

    Thomas Sowell

    No one, no matter how intelligent or exquisitely educated, is an expert in another man’s life.

  17. Life is a series of hassles, then you die.


    Life is a series of adventures then you move on to the eternal great adventure.

    Which worldview you choose makes a great deal of difference how your life goes.

  18. Fortunately, I managed to dodge a lot of things that I would had to have paid far too much for.

    Two dodgy girlfriends that marriage-and-divorce would have been much too expensive.
    Staying out of the tech industry when it made the change-over from “technical wizardry” to “being able to hide things well on your balance sheet.”
    Managing to convince my previous employer to promote me to an office in Seattle or transfer to London, where I would have probably lost my job during the Crow Flu and had to move back home at massive expense.
    Getting roped too far into working for at least two different conventions. One of which I had rumors of no-joke sexual assault confirmed (and would never be able to report it because they were Pillars Of The Community).

    I’ve paid far too much for the wisdom that I’ve gained. And, have lost things in the process.

    But, there is always a price to pay for what you want.

  19. I’ll never regret retiring early, living a bit more frugally, and homeschooling. The boys are currently a USAF Ssgt and SRA…

  20. Retiring early because working for the Army at a dead-end if well-paying job was getting to me, then taking to the road with my sweetie every summer has been good for us. Volunteer work is giving us meaningful, manual work and a network of friends. The trip up the Alaska Highway was worth it all by itself.
    And then there’s my brother. Six years younger and in “rehab,” but it’s been over six months and I strongly suspect he’ll be there the rest of his life. COPD, emphysema, neuropathy…all the result of a lifetime of self-abuse. It hurts. It hurts a bunch. But we each made our choices, for good or ill.

  21. That’s why I get so angry when politicians try and claim “for the greater good” or “it’s in your best interest”. Who are they to decide what my best interest is?

  22. “Everything in life has a price. And to force others to pay the price for the result you want is evil.”

    I am regularly galled when our cultural and political leaders make impositions which cost them nothing and which cost the rest of us dearly. One generalization regarding the Imposers is that they are so often ‘childless’ — too selfish and too lazy to procreate! Yet, these same childless leaders demand that we support and fund their geriatric needs (in comfort). Screw ‘em! — they made their choices long ago, their fates awaits, loneliness and then untended and unremembered graves.

    1. Not all childless people, especially childless men, are selfish or lazy.

      Many are just not seen as having traits desirable in offspring, or more likely, in having a sexy romp.

      1. THIS is true of childless people, but not necessarily of childless (or with children) politicians. They are usually stupid, lazy and selfish. But cunning.

      2. Children are an investment in the future. They are not the only way to be invested in a future. Folk who are childless but who want to leave the world a better place than they found it—”better” as in “the way I’d like it to be if people I care about had to deal with it”—do just fine.

        1. While true I suspect it is harder.

          There are lots of time I want to say “f*** it, why am I working to fix a future I won’t be a part of”.

          Niecfews are the most common thing that get me back to the table…even faith doesn’t do as well (not sure if that is a blind spot in Christianity in general or my personal understanding of it).

          1. Herb…. With the advantage of 23 and me…. My grandkids, if I have any, might have only a few DNA segments of me. My great grandkids might as well be distant cousins. etc.
            You will be a part of the future, because you’re humand and you’ve lived. And maybe something you said saved someone, somewhere along the line.
            I know you’ve helped me.
            parts of your genetics will go on, because you have relatives. Maybe sometime, in the future a near-Herb will exist. But mostly, you’ll still be there in echoes and ripples.

            1. Not having kids => not being part of the future is very little about genes.

              It’s about giving them Kipling and Heinlein at the right ages, taking them to metal shows, taking them to Liturgy and reading them the Bible, and all those 1000000s of other things involved parents do to send offspring (natural or adopted) into the future prepared.

  23. I wish I had a profound comment, but instead I just find parts of the refrain from Kansas’ “Play the Game Tonight” running through my head:

    Can you tell me if it’s wrong or right?
    Is it worth the time? Is it worth the price?

  24. “What wouldst thou have from Life? Pay the price and take it!” — Emerson

  25. Really appreciated the reasoning in this one, Sarah. The parenting / living your own life rationale were solid, and I wasn’t even expecting the segue into Big Government and Climate Crazies, but so true. Thanx!

  26. Sarah, this one hit me and my wife hard. Our children rarely speak to us and certainly don’t treat us with love and respect. I have two grown kids and she has a daughter. None of them visits or calls, even when we try to communicate with them, and send gifts for birthdays and holidays. If you could ask them, they would say they love us, but we feel they don’t show it. Your description of the parents’ price brought us to tears because it is just how we feel. Perhaps we tried to make some unknown choice for them. We are just heartbroken and at a loss to why we are treated so. Your article comforts us by reinforcing that we can’t make their decisions for them, no matter how unfairly we feel they treat us.

    Thank you for the insight and thoughts, ma’am.


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