We Elected the Wrong Guy

It’s an itch we keep wanting to scratch. Dig Caesar out of his tomb and venerate his bones. It doesn’t matter whether you choose one of the two proffered candidates. Both of them are either greater or lesser minions of Rome.

This was our choice: a woman who is deeply connected to the establishment and operates an NGO which launders money or a billionaire pitching himself as an outsider because he’s never been a politician. We elected the billionaire. I voted for Dumpf. Why would I vote for the evilist of evil, evil, evil people, a rich capitalist pig whose ill gotten wealth comes from going bankrupt on other people’s money? I am supposed to understand that Dumpf is devil incarnate. Billary is a lovable fuzzball grandmother who just wants to make sure everyone gets their fair share. What’s crazy about that?

Dumpf won. There have been a string of narratives pitched regarding our new fearless leader since the election. The first was that he was a fascist bastard who was going to inter all the illegal aliens, make our gardeners and pool boys even poorer, steal food from the mouths of Appalachian babies and make Grandma survive on powdered milk and USDA bologna. Dumpf hates brown people so all brown people are even more deeply fucked than they were before the election. Brown people can help out by self-interring at the old camps from WWII. He is a real estate barron so obviously he hates the environment and we’ll all be dead from toxic waste before his term is up. Another one was that the Russians, those evil bastards, stole the election from Grandma Clinton. They hacked the voting system, they stole e-mails from her server and spread craptastic stories about influence peddling, an overly cozy relationship with Wall Street, and was secretly sex-trafficking in children sought by pedophile Oil Sheikhs.

This election taught me a couple things. First, we are nuts when it comes to choosing our leaders. We want childish, impossible things in our leaders. He has to be a man of the peeeeepul comfortable in a dive bar drinking light beer, plain spoken, wiser than Solomon, pious as St. Paul, mighty as Caesar Augustus, generous with free Cadillac’s and cell phones. He should be deeply steeped in the secular orthodoxies of the puritan left but not so wonky or stiff that he will enforce said ethics for everyone, just the enemies of the state. We want our leader to provide for us like a good pimp Daddy but not interfere when we decide to behave in transgressive ways. We want s/him to protect us from those who would perpetrate aggression, micro and otherwise, from those who behave in triggering ways while comforting us when our behavior has undesired consequences.

Second, we got played. It was a masterful checkmate. We could have voted for RayRoberta Bob. The establishment had a plan to co-opt s/him and stay firmly in control. It did not matter who we voted for. They had us at P-Q4. The massive civil service bureaucracy housed in the Executive Branch was going to ensure continuity of power regardless of whether Jill Stein, Gary Johnson, Cruz, Dumpf, Sanders, Billary or my favorite drunk alien, RayRoberta Bob won. Us who voted for Dumpf did so because we hoped it would communicate to congress and the bureaucracy that we were tired of the last century of rinse repeat.

I’ve been shut up. My usual narratives that align to some degree with the orthodoxy of conservative talk radio have been shook up. It’s a depressing thought, that hope & change by way of Washington D.C. is a non-starter. I hate the idea that we are not so different from Russia. You can elect anyone you want to be Prime Minister of Russia. He or she will still be a dictatorial bitch unsympathetic to your anxieties about the fate of Monarch Butterflies and Appalachian children. Dumpf turns out to be a kinder, gentler grandpa who wants to fiddle with the edges of our government but otherwise leave it be. Checkmate.

There is such a love-fest afoot with the press and the Obummers. It’s the sort of adoration I associate with socialist dictators in places like Asia or South & Central America. The fear and loathing seems to be a reaction to Grandma Billary’s failure to continue the dynasty attempted by the Obummers. The populist grandma telling us that she is the reasonable one who will fight for the little guy, protect the snowflakes from their own bad behavior and make those evil capitalist pigs pay their damned fair share.

It feels to me like a freed slave who stands in the middle of the road across from his former home on the plantation and realizes freedom is disruptive. He wasn’t free a moment ago before he was handed his papers. A moment ago his life was clear. He knew his fate, knew how he’d get his needs met. It was a familiar devil. Now, papers in hand, nothing is assured. He has to fend for himself. He has no income, nothing to assure his reason for existence or a purpose to pursue. Rick Warren’s book was 140 years in the future.

For some, this was exciting. It was a victory. For others it was disaster. Say what you want about the oppression contained in tenant farming in the south. Not everyone alive in the 19th century antebellum south was happy to be free. Ditto the Obummers. We have folk who are getting attention because what they wanted was a coronation of Obummer and if they couldn’t have that, an election victory that continued the Clinton Dynasty.

We have had authoritarian and socialist government since at least 1913. My ancestors were subjects of the British Empire. They were not all fervent supporters of throwing over King George. The argument over liberty vs. safety is as old as our republic. We started out hating any hint of imperialism. Our distaste for kings has diminished in the centuries since . The trend has been toward increasingly large, ineffective and authoritarian government for at least a century. Caesar is going to rise out of his tomb and be restored to the new empire soon enough. It seems to be what we want.

I voted to prevent what I didn’t want. The Supreme Court is short one justice. The choice of replacement was going to go to either Grandma Billary or Dumpf. Dumpf won. Obamacare is a growing nightmare being exploited to increase the intrusion of government into our lives. The snowflakes are winning the propaganda war and so the expectation is that we will comply. We want energy independence but it can’t come at the price of harming the butterflies or Native Americans. All perfectly reasonable and fair.

Jesus was not reasonable or fair. His message threatened the status quo within the Middle East and Jewish people. Authority came from God directly to the disciples of Christ. We didn’t need intercessors or interpreters of the Torah to facilitate our relationship to God. Caesar was cut out of the picture. The Levites were superfluous. Our rights, our laws, came directly from God the Father through his son, Jesus of Nazareth. These are troublesome words for the establishment of Christ’s day. Troublesome enough that he was crucified.

Empires fall. All of them. Ours is an empire made of a revolution 227 years old. We are fabulously successful. There is no empire in history with greater wealth and military might than ours.

Empires fall and tomorrow happens. Empires fall and there are survivors. Those that remain have to do the needful because their count of sunrises has not run out.

So . . . what? Anarchy? Anarchy is a foolish lie. Anarchy as currently promulgated means the anarchist can dictate the rules on his or her whims while being insulated from the consequences. It is how we self-governed before we had to deal with other kids and out of the purview of our parents. Though we are losing our distaste for imperialism it isn’t gone. Some of us hunger for god and express our appetite through electing authoritarian figures like Grandma Billary and Dumpf. Socialism? Hitler was a socialist before he took a hard turn into genocidal dictatorship, remember? Still, the reflexive answer remains, “certainly not! We don’t want a god-king, king or anything like that. We are a democracy!

Might I suggest something? When our desires for a leader are crazy/absurd an absurd leader becomes the reasonable choice. Who do I think an absurd leader is? Dumpf, perhaps. We shall see. Grandma lost, so that’s not going anywhere. What about that guy, the Nazarene Carpenter of two thousand years ago, who was martyred by the Romans? What about him? I mean, he’s been dead for a while so there is no danger of him getting caught diddling kids or accepting bribes from Wall Street Bankers. He and his followers are pretty crazy, so perhaps hungering after a resurrected dead guy as a leader isn’t any less crazy than having a hard on for Grandma.

Hope and change cannot be found in the temples worshiping our secular gods of democracy. Hope and change is where it has been for a couple thousand years. The Nazarene carpenter’s disciples still follow him. They named themselves Christians. You know them. They are your neighbors. Rather than pray to the false god kings of Washington D.C. go visit one of those churches in your town. Don’t pray. Not yet. Talk to the people at the church. Share your story. Volunteer a bit–something small that can be completed in an hour or two. This is a long game that won’t pay off right away. It does pay off. The anecdotal proofs of how it pays off are numerous and reach back millennia. Ask one of those Cheezus Freak people you see at that church.

King Jesus is an absurd and wonderful monarch. The beauty of naming Jesus as king is that he is dead. It ends up at not having a king or queen, a good thing. Ditto saying that the resurrected kingdom and temple lives in our hearts. I’m counting down my remaining 12,000 sunrises. Hopefully this house of cards we have will stand. Merry Christmas!

 

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Capitalism

First Posted 15-Oct-2014

Before I get going on today’s post I want to acknowledge a milestone. This is post 100. This site has been up for the better part of three years. In that time I’ve earned a little more than $10.00 in ad revenue and had a few hundred visits to the site. I can’t say how many posts I need before I can say this is more than a hobby. But, to those who challenged me to finish something, 100 posts is a big step in the right direction.

Now, on with the show:

“DOWN WITH CAPITALISM! DESTROY THE UNFAIR WEALTH DISPARITY! UP WITH ROBIN HOOD! HE’S MY HERO AND HE LOOKS HOT IN TIGHTS!! OBAMA FOR DICTATOR! FREE FOOD IS A RIGHT! FREE EDUCATION IS A RIGHT! FREE HEALTH CARE IS A RIGHT! FREE FAIR TRADE COFFEE IS A RIGHT! STARBUCKS IS EVIL FOR CHARGING MONEY FOR COFFEE! DOWN WITH THE RIGHT! UP WITH THE LEFT!”

Think I’m stupid yet? Agree with any of that? I have friends who would walk a picket line chanting the above and think it was serious. ROBIN HOOD HAS FREE COFFEE HE STOLE FROM STARBUCKS! HE’S SO MY BFF! Some of them believe that some flavor of anarcho-blah blah would be better. ANARCHISM IS BETTER. Really? Anarcho-Socialism is MORE FAIR!

diamond_dollarSeriously!? Capitalism is easy. I have some form of money and need some good or service. You have a good or service I desire and are willing to trade it for my money. We negotiate a price and make the trade. Done. Socialism gets in the middle of that and tries to enforce some degree of “from each according to his ability to each according to his needs”. Socialism tries to make it “fair” based on a value system that has a religious orthodoxy no less crazy than my own Christian faith. Socialists assume that there is disparity, that a small minority of wealthy hoard resources which could be better used by the peepul.

UP WITH PEOPLE! There are all these pie in the sky utopian ideals about ending poverty and misery by taking from the rich and giving to the poor. END MISERY, MAKE WEED FREE! FREE WEED IS A RIGHT!

Yes, capitalism is vastly more complicated than that in ‘merica in 2014. We are an empire of over 300 million people. Our GDP is $16 trillion. Only China has more people and controls more wealth. Even they have mostly abandoned their heavy social control of their economy in favor of a free-er market. We have been a socialist democracy since Woodrow Wilson and maybe before that. The difference is the degree to which we tax and regulate our commerce. Until recently we were more free-market than most countries. The current trend is toward more socialist policies, toward higher taxes and more regulation.

I may be oversimplifying, but I believe this is what is hurting us. Neither is it reasonable to say that it would be better if government was not involved at all. As big as our economy is, some regulation is necessary to keep the thing from collapsing into overwhelming avarice. I don’t trust people not to cheat or misbehave. For the sake of contrast, let’s say it would be better if there were no privately held assets. If everything was owned in common through the government. This becomes a feudal system where a few lords control the great majority of wealth, ruled by a titular democracy controlled by a dictatorial president whose power effectively makes him or her king or queen. A $16 trillion empire. That $53,000 in GDP is stripped from us and given instead, to the Peeepul, through government ownership. Since the lords control it and arbitrate who must produce based on ability to fulfill assigned needs, in effect, it ends up being like we are back in the 17th century as tenants and serfs forced to exist on what we can get from our overlords. It’d make it great to be president and bad, very bad to be a serf. That’s more fair?

My anarchist friends would vehemently deny that this is what they promulgate. They say they do want law but don’t want government. The people would be in charge. After much rhetorical tap dancing they finally admit that they would be in charge as representatives of the peepul. They’d decide who had the needs and who had the ability. So, they’d be the 17th century lords feasting on the toil of their serfs. That’s more fair, supposedly.

Since we would own neither the land we live on nor the means of transport or anything, not even the clothes on our back, there would be no reason to give a shit. Tenants famously don’t maintain the apartments or houses they rent. Owners do. Owners give a shit because it’s their shit. They benefit from or suffer from the condition of what they own. Tenants do, sometimes, but many don’t. In a system where the rule is that to each is given based on their needs from each according to his or her ability it’s hard to give a shit because nobody owns shit. The maintenance costs are huge.

Then, who decides need? Who decides ability? What if the most profit is gained in appearing to have the greatest need while hiding any great ability? Where do things come from if everyone is attempting to present themselves as having tremendous need while denying that they have any ability whatsoever. It is a system where ability is punished. Nobody wants to show ability because doing so would diminish need and thus diminish wealth.

And . . . this assumes there is no cheating. Every organization, every system, has to deal with criminals who find ways to game the organization or system to their advantage. Corruption in socialist or communist economies is way off the charts out of control because there is a someone deciding need and ability and thus has control over resources. That much temptation is very powerfully addictive and corrupting. Capitalist economies are not immune to corruption. But without a baron or lord in charge of assigning need or ability it’s harder to cheat. But, if you dump all that, allow private ownership, private capital, private commerce, and try to wrangle a $16 trillion monster into relative submission so on a macro scale it mostly functions to the good, many of these problems disappear. Poof.

Ability becomes the valuable thing. Innovation, hard work, things we like to call good American values, these become treasured. Capitalism is neither completely evil nor completely good. It is mostly good and mostly works for the majority. It works better than any other system of managing commerce yet imagined by us. Is it unfair at times? Yes. Our own history is plenty proof of this. But relative to the other choices, it’s damned good.

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Educating Alan

I put this in the “Not News” bucket. If you paid much attention in college you know most everything in this post. You can safely ignore it. This story on MSN about Stuart Alsop is amusing: Tesla decides not to sell a car to a customer.

© Provided by The Verge

Tell me that the community is going to manage capital and property for the good of the people and all my trust issues fly up out of the grave. Ray(Ro(bert(a))), the avatar for my anxiety, pops out of thin air to appear in the blue Queen Anne chair I use to watch TV. He fires up Verizon FIOS ‘On Demand” to start streaming episodes of Jerry Springer featuring lesbian love triangles that turn into ersatz UFC cat fights on Jerry’s stage. I love the philosophy, that through some democratic, anarchistic, collectivist, consensus based process we would ensure that the Acts 2:44-45 idea of a common pot would accomplish what we hope it would accomplish. Then I think about Ray(Ro(bert(a)))  being on the committee deciding who gets what. That makes me more anxious than usual.

socialismThe word socialism has become laden with tropes. It means many things depending on who you are talking with. For some it is a curse not fit for a lobotomized pig. It is said as a fight ending crotch kick intended to knock the opponent out. Others speak it with reverence as the utopian answer to all their ills. You almost have to be in the clique to know the context intended. I grew up with it as something suspicious that the adults seemed conflicted about. At times it has felt like a bastardized corruption of vaguely orthodox catholic church ideas.

I finally looked it up after reading this comment from my aunt on my Facebook wall: “Imperialism is enforced by the military. Socialism is democracy in action, like sewer and water services for all.” My first thought was, “no, it isn’t.”

My family is deeply Protestant. Even my aunt, who married a Jew (again! The prior Jew of recent memory in our family was Alfred Picker, father to my Mom), grew up Methodist and still has Protestant ideas floating about her Leftie-orthodox, somewhat Jewish mashup of a personal philosophy. My family is also a story of the tension between fighting the good fight for social justice, hungering for creative authenticity, and the need to maintain a home with a comfortably full larder. We can’t shake the itch to cheer on Mario Savio. Some, like me, try to do the starving artist thing and our privilege has made us soft. Socialism resonates for us. It seems like a plan.

This is what Wikipedia says about socialism: “Socialism is a variety of social and economic systems characterized by social ownership and democratic control of the means of production;[1][2][3][4][5][6] as well as the political ideologies, theories, and movements that aim at their establishment”.

The Wiktionary has this: “Any of several later political philosophies such as libertarian socialism, democratic socialism, and social democracy which do not envisage the need for full state ownership of the means of production nor transition to full communism, and which are typically based on principles of community decision making, social equality and the avoidance of economic and social exclusion, with economic policy giving first preference to community goals over individual ones.”

Sounds good, no?  For the good of the many, social equality, avoidance of economic and social exclusion, kind of nice.

Here is how I define socialism: it is the Christian common pot method writ large and without God. For those who have forgotten, the common pot thing is from Acts 2:44-45, “And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need“. Anabaptist communities like the Hutterites still operate under a common pot rule.

The NatGeo channel ran a TV series called American Colony about the Hutterites. Some things I got from watching the series: If you want to be a Hutterite you are going to work. There is no way they would tolerate the sort of welfare mom we suffer with in our inner-cities, who owns a new car, seems to have no problem affording a substantial night-club life, and is otherwise a fit to the large dimple in the velour couch in her publicly funded living room. B) You will have your basic needs covered. 3. Although everything is technically held in common it is bad form to use as your own something that has sentimental value to someone else. And one more thing: the common pot does not by itself calm things down or make them unilaterally fair. We are still a thick-necked people.

I’m a poor student. I tried to phone in my English degree. My history classes tended to be propaganda of the “America is Great!” flavor. The white hats were the defenders of freedom and the constitution. The black hats were the Socialists and Communists who wanted to destroy all that is good about America. It’s only as an adult that I’ve gone back to study history a bit more and been humbled by how much I don’t know. The simple world of my youth isn’t simple. Way more interesting and technicolor than I was taught.

Of the instances of socialism that come to mind, most of them have not gone well. Community decision making means some form of governance and politics. Even with God, when the church was the remains of the Roman empire and the Pope is who was last man standing and thus, the inheritor of the title of Caesar, humanity’s talent for bitterness spoiled all attempts at a better way of governing.

Going back further, all the way to Abraham, there has been a tithe to be given to the Levites. It was to be used by the Levites to support themselves as well as maintain the temple and do benevolence. The bible seems to elevate the Levites as worthy of the burden of religious leadership. The Levites, though, had their malcontents as do any large group of people. Even with God’s blessing we are far too talented at mischief. The question of who shall hold capital and property is old. It still nags us today. Three (Trump, Sanders & Billary) of the candidates for president are advocating greater public ownership of property and capital to better manage it. It’s not a solved problem.

Last thing, then I’ll get to my point (maybe). I was a member of Taxi Unlimited from 1981 to 1983. We were one of the oldest surviving collectively run small businesses in the country. During my time as a member there were only a handful of clean & sober members. The collective was dominated by addicts and their coterie of supporters. One of our best customers sold marijuana. Some of our most powerful members owned land in Humboldt County and grew weed. We were a shining example of a living utopian, hippie community. As a young, hormonal twenty-something, it should have been perfection. It was not.

This is a broken world. There are plenty who have great ideas as to why it is a fucked up world. I’m not that smart. I know what I’ve been told, that Eve is a traitorous bitch who fed Adam some fruit from a prohibited tree and that explains everything. I’m not so sure it’s that easy. As I’ve written elsewhere, I believe Eve had her reasons. I do agree that our world is fucked up. There is misery. The misery afoot seems chronic and terminal. I find more resonance in the Buddhist and Hindi idea that all the dark is one half of creation intimately made along with the light, that you can’t have one without the other. All in all? Whatever. We are here and some of it sucks.

Socialism. If, against nature, good triumphed over evil and we could find an as yet unfound solution to the incredible talent of humanity to be asshats, it might work. In the meantime, socialism depends on a foolish and naïve faith in the fundamental goodness of man. Man can be good. He is at times. It’s the small percentage of the time when he is brilliantly bad that wags the dog and screws things up. We are brilliantly perverse enough of the time that giving the community control over capital and property ends up making corrupt and obscenely wealthy civil servants and pisses off everyone else. Clergy are famously no more immune to this than anyone else. If anything, their power as religious figures just makes the potential upside of malfeasance harder to resist.

Taxi Unlimited taught me the importance of character, and the need to respect boundaries and traditions. Collectives, because they don’t have traditional leadership, are much more vulnerable to the hurts, habits & hangups of their members. Collectives can work if they have quality people of good character who enforce the standards of the collective. Taxi Unlimited in its effort to be more radically anarchist tolerated a suspicion of rules and governance. It’s egalitarian hiring policies allowed street people to become members. Just getting through the day vertical was a feat for a key number of our members. Responsibly operating a business without a traditional manager/owner was a tall order. I’ll give you Berkeley’s Cheeseboard as a collective that has thrived. They are not free of the need to take care to value people of good character and to value traditions & boundaries.

Socialism on a national scale just magnifies the problems we had at Taxi Unlimited. Instead of a group of 25 people or so and their troubles, there are millions. The odds that at least a minority of those millions will have troubles are very favorable. With that large a population it is likely that all the ugly ways people can be brutal to each other will exist. There are well-meaning civil servants. There can even be a majority of civil servants who are sincere in their effort to do a good job for the people they serve. We will still have irreconcilable needs, demands and asshats. It only takes a few asshats to perpetrate the usual crimes to disrupt the hoped for utopia and screw over some (?all?) of the people. Misery ensues and dildos get presented.

In effect, the choice becomes which bastard do you want holding the sandpaper dildo stuffed up your anus. Do you want a red, white & blue dildo held by a bearded old white man with a fetish for war? Would you rather have a brown man or woman hold a red dildo decorated with yellow stars? Perhaps a guy in a toupee with a trophy wife who claims he’ll make you great again? Or grandma and her significant other and his harem?

Democracy didn’t get invented in the 18th Century. Rome was something of a democracy. There was a Senate and Caesar. The Senate had as much or as little power as Caesar would allow them. Greece was a democracy as well. That was about 3,000 years ago. Our forefathers had the king of England to worry about and the corruption rampant within the Vatican and the church. They wanted a form of governance that limited its power. Our constitution is a list of limited powers because our forefathers had recent, bitter memories of what it’s like to be subject to an asshat ruler and a corrupt Pope.

Pop-pop Bernie, Grandma Clinton, Trump and others are trotting out familiar election cycle tropes about the unfairness of it all. They say they will fix it, they will get things done. Their ideas about the means to get things done all seem to involve a larger federal involvement in our lives—single-payer health care, free education, mandated paid time off, and mandated living wages.

beggar uncle samWe have a 3-4 trillion dollar federal budget. The Executive Branch has grown in size so as to be a permanent civil service, fourth branch of government largely immune to elections or the whims of Congress. Our federal debt exceeds $19,000,000,000,000 and is climbing rapidly. With that much governance in play, why is it that some of our presidential candidates assert we haven’t done enough, that things are still unfair? $800,000.00 per family of debt. If we just folded the government and wrote everyone a check for a million I’m guessing we might actually come out ok.

I don’t have answers. Thinking about it, unfairness and malfeasance have been a constant through human history regardless of how things are governed. Character matters. Our leaders are a reflection of our character as well as influencers of our national mood. If we limit the size of government we limit the amount of malfeasance that can be generated by it. I am not in love with corporations and capitalism. If I have to pick a hand to hold my dildo I think I’d rather pick the capitalist pimp with diamonds embedded in his teeth than the skinny bearded guy in the tri-colored tux and ugly hat who is constantly begging for money and picking fights with my friends. Oy. Ray(Ro(bert(a))), just found all the old episodes of, “All My Children” online. He’s on my couch sobbing. Does Oxyclean remove alien tears?

 

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Beer After Work

First Posted 02-Aug-2015

roger-pe-anti-mail-order-bride-stamp-adThat guy, James Rustler? He’s had a few aliases. I think that’s the one he uses these days. There was another one from a few years back when he came home broke after flying to Thailand to meet a girl who promised him a happy ending. They all promise that. I seem to remember his face was bruised up when he met me at my job after work a few years ago. I guess Thailand went about as expected. Anyhooo. I saw some e-mails lately that sounded like he’d returned to crashing on his Dad’s couch. Wonder what it was this time? Yeah, James Rustler told it, got some of it right, but mostly told it wrong. He also talks too much and writes too long.

  • Interracial Romance My son’s Mom is Taiwanese. Nationalist Taiwanese of a father who was a general in Chiang Kai Shek’s army. The family ran casino’s in the resort area of Bei Tou for many years. Some of them hustled unsuspecting rubes in Ma Jong. When I say casino, I mean asian pleasure palace with bar girls, bottle service, happy endings and any number of casino games. The sort of places that were on the Japanese Salary Men sex tourist list of places to go. Understand now? Good. I married the shunned daughter of this family. 28 and unmarried means something in Taiwan. A Taiwanese businessman I met at the International student dorm told me that any woman shopping for a white ghost husband at her age could not be a good woman. She put herself through college and worked as a fish processing chemist because it was that or be human trafficked. So, the Triad Princess nickname has some merit.
    Whether Russian, Philippine, Brazilian, or whatever gets your dick hard, all of them face a similar challenge. America isn’t like their home country. Things are different. The English they speak is a small, pale shadow of American English spoken by natives. Reading anything takes great effort. For the Empress, the Totalist attitude toward conflict–that even playful insults were abuse worthy of arrest–were at odds with her upbringing. At home in Taiwan big arguments were fights settled with fists or worse. We don’t tolerate that here.
    The most common story among those fresh off the boat is that they lose a lot of their status and prestige in coming here. All the options are bad. The golden mountain they thought was here turns out to be a useless pile of brass tokens for Dave & Busters. It’s very common for the first generation to emigrate here to fight just to be poor, to afford the “or” in that word. Marrying a rich white guy as many of them hope to do, too often does not shortcut that struggle. So it was with the Empress and I. We have a son that is doing well. We could never bridge the cultural and language gap, the ways in which she was wounded from growing up hard and the lessons she brought from home on conflict resolution. You are stupid if you imagine you can escape the struggles of most marriages with a mail-order bride. That she is FOB doesn’t make it easier. It makes it harder.
  • MGTOW Men Going Their Own Way are pussies. Own your shit. Do the inventory. Figure out where you are broken, in pain, still carry resentment, where your empathy muscle is weak, and fix that. Remember that we are to love God with all our hearts, minds and strength, that we are to love neighbors and enemies alike. Be the temple reconstructed, the kingdom resurrected today, not later, not after the rapture. *THE* way to do this is in healthy relationships. God was right that it isn’t good for men to be alone. He made us for relationship. We are most alive in marriage. Are women annoying? Yes. Men are annoying as well. Ditto kids. It’s how we surrender to God, die to live, and allow ourselves to be transformed in relationships that makes us better. Suck it up, MGTOW, and let her put her toothbrush in your bathroom. You are welcome.
  • Personal Responsibility It happens to all of us. We get older. We can’t rave all weekend and be back to work Monday morning without some damage to our health. Our hurts, habits, or hangups really start to make a mess of things. As hard as we work to patch up our teflon suit so nothing sticks to us, that suit wears out and begins to fail. The escalating negative consequences accumulate until they become intolerable. Remaining irresponsible becomes nigh impossible. Some of us never quit and thus find ourselves in the hospital, morgue, jail or rehab. If we end up in the morgue then there is no further. We lived a hard, fast, indulgent life and left a ?pretty? corpse. From the hospital, jail or rehab there is another chance, another iteration of promising to change and perhaps, this time, actually sticking to it. Anyway, personal responsibility happens, get used to it.
  • Work Ethic I’d rather work. Simple as that. I’ve been on welfare and food stamps, unemployment, psych disability was offered to me, as was public housing. I made a choice a long time ago to struggle through keeping a job. I’m not very good at holding down a job. I get fired a lot. I’m also not very good at money so more than once, the lack of savings and the frequent firings mean I end up homeless again. As I edit this (20-Jan-2016) I had my unemployment cancelled by my former employer. Even that safety net isn’t as safe as it once was. Still, of my choices, I’d rather find the next job and try again to get back on my feet. It’s hard, sucks a lot, but having seen the other way, for me, it’s better.
  • Communism and Anarchy Communism fails. Once you declare the dominant paradigm to value need and deprecate ability people set about accomplishing just that. They arrange their lives so it appears they have tremendous need while hiding or sabotaging ability. Anarchy–the large scale governance without rulers, is a childish impossibility. Leadership does more than force you to do things you’d rather not. If humanity has any common thread over history it is our talent for conflict and unruly behavior. Collectivist, communal, socialist or other utopian schemes for removing distasteful structure and governance are only as good as the least well behaved in in a group. Us malcontents are going to drive the agenda, like it or not. Without governance to reign us in we foster chaos and crime. It doesn’t take long for those of us who were so happy about the loss of governance to start asking for the heads of the others of us who are being transgressive and transgressive. Poof. Anarchy gone.
  • Capitalism I had two hard & fast rules as a cab driver. Pay me and Shut Up. It is common to pay for the ride at the end in a cab. Most of the time I let that happen. But . . . for fares that gave me pause, gave me a reason to need control of the next 15 minutes with them, things changed. I’d stop the cab. I’d tell them, politely at first, that I needed at least $20.00 up front before continuing the ride. If they resisted in any way I’d get rude and demand that $20.00. If they argued I’d give them a choice. Pay me or get out. Simple. In over a decade I only had a few who decided they would neither pay me nor get out. The last guy to try that found himself in a cab parked in the middle of a busy intersection and I, his driver, sitting on a bus bench waiting for a bus to take me home. He asked me what I was doing and I told him, I was going home. He asked me how he was going to get home. I told him I didn’t care. He asked me what I planned to do with the cab. I said I didn’t care. I was going home. He thought about it for a minute, then stumbled to the bus bench to wait for a bus with me. Good. I left the bus bench, got back in my cab and went back to work. As for “Shut Up”, mostly I don’t care about you. I care about getting paid. I talk to you, dear customer, because I want to get paid. I don’t mind talking. Unless . . . for some reason you are annoying then I do mind and you need to pay me, now.
    Capitalism is easy. I have a good or service to offer. In lieu of barter, you offer me money at a price we agree on. I get the money, you get the good or service. Simple. Communism, socialism, whatever, introduces a third element that attempts to arbitrate the transaction so it is fair. We, collectively, as a society, agree to own nothing individually and let the commons own everything. In practice, this means that the government owns & operates most everything. The government has 350 million opinions on the definition of fair that in large part, don’t reconcile. There is no way to arbitrate commerce, to assure fair distribution of resources, and not piss somebody off. It’s almost assured that there will be winners and losers, but this time, it is the bureaucracy that chooses the winners and losers in the name of fairness. That never goes well.
    Since everything is owned by the commons there is no reason to value it or be good stewards of it. As a result, we don’t take pride in the condition or value of the resource and instead, tend to let it go to shit. Capitalism thrives as a black/grey market and you have Cuba, where there is the dollar economy, an avaricious Capitalist economy where the haves have always had and the peso economy where there is rationing and perpetual shortages. Oh, and . . . you can’t stop Capitalism. You can only drive it into the underground where it becomes controlled by organized crime. Every communist or socialist economy has a horrid problem with corruption and black market/capitalist trade. Yet, yet . . . if you remove government, society, us . . . as the brokers of fairness and let people own, buy & sell goods, services, land and other resources, there are still winners and losers but as we have seen in China, the wealth created is off the chain. Plus, it becomes possible to reign in the corruption and black market trade. We are seeing this now with the legalization of marijuana in some states and in defiance of Federal law.
  • March of Time Albany Hill is fine. The top of it where my grandmother walked so often and love so much, is preserved as a park. The evil capitalist real estate people she fought got to build on parts of the hill. Our favorite Asian grocery is built on the north side of the hill just over the city line in El Cerritto. My grandmother might have been pissed, but at some point we age such that the short trip to vertical becomes a victory. The one thing that has the best shot at immortality is our legacy, is the stories people will tell long after we are finished being worm food. I didn’t care about that when I was young. In my mid-thirties I was intent on being a Dad. My son got told by his Mom in one of her uglier moments that he was a mistake. She didn’t want to be pregnant with him. Doh. Too late. My son is here and that is a very good thing. The Webb name is in good hands with him. My grandfather, my father, me, and now, my son, all first born sons, all inheritors of a good name. We can’t change the linearity of time nor prevent our eventual move to 6th & Green. We can, though, consider our legacy and the stories people will tell after we are there. I have fond memories of Albany Hill, even with the condominiums that were built on its west side.
  • Mary Parker I think she failed out of rehab a bunch of times, relapsed a lot, learned the talk so the psych-ward docs let her out, learned what all ex-offenders learn about talking to Probation and Parole so they ended her supervision early, nearly spent her fortune in Reno and on cab drivers, until someone from the Ashram there at 52nd & San Pablo in Oakland, Ca. invited her to a weekend workshop and she found religion there. I’d rather she came to church, to Christ, but for Mary, the thing that worked was yoga and Hinduism. Fair enough. At least the last time she tried to bribe me so I’d buy an axe and cut down the pecan tree in the front yard of a North Berkeley neighbor of hers will remain the last time. I didn’t take the bribe. I talked Mary down and dropped her off at the Royal Cafe in Albany. She paid me with a generous tip
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