Mincome

Salmos 84:3, “Señor Todopoderoso, rey mío y Dios mío,
    aun el gorrión halla casa cerca de tus altares;
también la golondrina hace allí su nido,
    para poner sus polluelos.

Sweet! I can live on the dole and pretend I am a writer who makes enough to support his addiction to useless work! Stellar. I love my fellow red-diaper babies. Especially the anarchist ones. We’ll tear down the government and make one of our own. The community will own everything. Everybody will be guaranteed a base salary regardless of whether they work or not. We’ll make education free. We’ll make health care free. We’ll eliminate income taxes. We’ll legalize all drugs, opioids, marijuana, all of it. Let’s make sex workers a protected class. LGBTQ Forever! We can set up houses all across the land where you can get your freak on and be stoned! Awesome!

Never heard of this? Think this is a pipe dream of a hippie wanna be millennial? News Flash, we did this. We hated it. What happens when you guarantee income to us, the dysfunctional end of the Bell Curve? Good things? No. We become more fucked up than we were before you made it possible us to expand our man-caves in our parent’s basements and buy better pajamas. If you haven’t noticed, dysfunctional people do dysfunctional shit. Giving us a monthly check just means we can do more dysfunctional shit. It’s awesome.

Mincome is a solution looking for a problem. It is an overly simple framing of the problem as lack of income. It ignores much about us, about people, especially my us, the dysfunctional at the scary end of the Bell curve. The potential for unintended consequences is stunning.

But, we have some who pitch ideas like mincome as the reasonable thing to do. These folk desperately cling to their pumpkin spice latte’s and Nordstrom credit cards (badly over their credit limit) and other social signals to prove that they are the good folk. Mincome is another way to signal that they care. And, after all, it is the strength of the caring signal that is the important thing.

One of Felina’s friends is like this. Felina met her at Stanford. She’s picture perfect NoCal grunge with a bit of goth added. Felina liked her because the girl had the best weed she’d ever smoked. Oh, oh, OH! you are horrified that a hot mess like Felina gets high? Just . . . go away. I’m not going to get dragged into a 1500 word rant that boils down to Nancy Reagan, “Just Say No.” I’m busy with another axe I want to grind. Y e e e s I am a Dad and I inhaled and now I don’t and as-far-as-I-am-concerned addiction is a deadly short game. B u u u t . . . this isn’t an anti-addiction rant.

Where was I? Oh. Felina’s friend, Inger (pronounced anger). No, I am not going to describe Inger’s age, hair, her figure, all that. There is enough free porn on the Intertubes that you can rub your sausage or clam without my help. Is she hot? Are you stupid? Inger is all about protests and grunge guys who claim they are musicians because they can crush Dragonforce’s, “Through the Fire and the Flames” in Guitar Hero. Inger is also, lately, off the radar doing another stint of rehab. Don’t get your hopes up. She drifts about various soup kitchens somewhat volunteering but mostly eating and live tweeting.

Inger is all about mincome. She totally cares about poverty and world peas. She’s punched a Planned Parenthood protester in the face more than once. After graduating from the county’s Anger Management class, twice. She also, before rehab, was depressed because she wasn’t able to get this year’s Nordstrom BP Cotton Anorak. Inger wants mincome for herself. And free mental health care, especially free mental health care. Legal weed, maybe also. Actually . . . legal weed first. Until rehab happened.

One of the many things that mincome ignores is something we Reformed Tradition Christians have heard all our lives, men are made for work. We don’t need more money or a guaranteed minimum income that means we don’t have to work. We need a cause to pursue, we need work. Not so we have access to necessary resources. It goes deeper than that. Idle men, especially idle young men, are fertile ground for trouble. Mincome takes away a key component of our reason for existence–our work.

Women are different. Women are made to help men love God more dearly. They are also the bulk of the work of birthing and raising the next generation. That secondary purpose, kids, is preoccupying for women. Women should and do work, but their two responsibilities mean that they are not first made for work in the same way that men are. I’ll grant you that for a woman, mincome can feel like a solid plan. Inger agrees.

These childish platitudes keep being pushed by left-wing media. Poor people? Give them money with no strings attached. Done. Hungry? Feed the hungry. Homeless? House the homeless. If we do enough of this we’ll accomplish an end to poverty, hunger, and homelessness. New Deal? New Frontier anybody? How about the Great Society? The War on Poverty? How is that working out? An unacknowledged elephant in your safe space is that simplistic solutions like this surface disastrous unintended consequences.

2 Tesalonicenses 3: “Porque incluso cuando estábamos con ustedes, les ordenamos: «El que no quiera trabajar, que tampoco coma.»”

Todo 2 Thessalonians 3 vale la pena leer. One of those unintended consequences is a non-verbal insult to men. Through mincome you are telling us that we can’t provide enough to our kin, that we are not enough. This is demeaning. So much so that our answer is to take your mincome and use it to run black market businesses where we can feel pride of ownership and the satisfaction of being providers to our kin.

We have dumped trillions in foreign aid into third world countries. These trillions have spawned countless acts of evil and corruption. Our trillions we intend for the poor and suffering enrich government bureaucrats and corrupt NGO’s. Yet we continue to be told that we are not doing enough, that we have to dump more cash into the life of that big eyed kid on TV because he or she is still miserable. And that the problem is that we are not trying hard enough. These Utopian fantasies of an end to misery will work if we just apply ourselves with enough due diligence. Did you fill your UNICEF box this Halloween? It’s not our fault that after 73 years these endeavors have entrapped those we sought to help. You really want Grandma to live on cat food? What’s your answer to a single mom with a dickface baby daddy? Grow a garden? Raise chickens? Seriously?

Yah, yah. All this government funded mercy does some good. Cities that have done, “Housing First” have had some success with it. You can listen to the Freakanomics story here: Most of the time when a story of this sort is aired it is presented as the most original, best idea ever. No one has ever thought of this. Why not just pay a guaranteed income to everybody? Poverty solved. I mean, what reasonable person would oppose that? Grandma could afford wet cat food.

But . . . whatever. Do it. Pay a guaranteed minimum annual salary of at least $40,000.00 with benefits. Give women free child care, free maternity leave, and 320 hours a year of paid time off. Ignore Cuba, the USSR, China, North Korea, Venezuela and others where such nonsense is the rule. Ignore the half-century of experience we have in this country with presidential initiatives like Roosevelt’s New Deal and Grandma Billary’s proffered Fair Deal. Us deplorables will happily use your benevolence as we have for most of a century. We’ll cash your checks and take that cash to the black market where we can get all our gluttonous heart desires. We’ll occupy ourselves with grey and black market businesses to give ourselves the work we can’t get because we accepted mincome. Thank you and please, may I have another?

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I Live in Heaven

First Posted 21-Sep-2014

This is a favorite of many Sunday School teachers. It’s the class they do where they talk about gratitude. A typical exercise is to list 50 things to be grateful for. I’m good for a list of a dozen or so. 50 is hard. It’s not that I am ungrateful. I have a hard time being put on display like that. I am grateful. I didn’t get here alone. There is a large crowd of people who contributed to this point in time in my life. I am blessed and that crowd had a lot to do with it.

“I live in heaven”. If you have known me for a bit you’ll hear me say that. I’m not being foolish. I’m not dead or some special angel sent here from heaven. I haven’t been insulated from strife. If you doubt me, scroll through my Facebook page. I’m just a guy. But, I do say that. I do say I live in heaven.
stairs-to-heavenI have that list also. The one the Sunday School teacher doesn’t want on the Sunday when they teach gratitude. Things which might cause me to lay prostrate before the alter at church and ask him, “Why?!” Some include being divorced from my wife of seven years, watching my son grow from age eight to eighteen from afar, being an ex-offender, been to jail, been homeless, penniless, unable to own a car, pretty much the whole bucket list of horrors promised to me by my Dad if I didn’t get it together. Were I of a mood to cry, I have plenty I could cry about. For a time, I did cry, blaming my father for my troubles, also blaming Uncle Sam, various friends, and God.

This could be that post, the one where I keep going for 500 words or so about the reasons why I should be pissed, sad, depressed, worse than I am. The claim that I live in heaven is a bit incredible. In addition to my personal, dark bucket list of unwanted hard times, there is all that is messed up about the world. The fact that Satan is in charge and he takes great delight in making as big a mess of things as he can. The starving children in Africa and elsewhere, the current evil, idiot violence of radical Muslims seeking to restore the Ottoman Empire (good luck with that), our now forgotten outrage over the death of Michael Brown, our current outrage over the domestic abuse being committed by athletes in the NFL . . . I could fill a year’s worth of posts just detailing all that Satan has under way to cause us strife.

yinyangI have friends who have been captured by the allure of this. They are Christian, decidedly so, but the life in Satan’s bar is seductive. Great food, great people, amazing music, best well drinks anywhere, all of whatever makes you feel good you is there for the taking. It comes at a price, of course, but it’s there and you can have as much as you like. Pastor’s and ministers who spend years sermonizing about the boogey-men alive in the world, its dangers and pitfalls, pleasures to be warned against and necessity of sticking to the laws of Cheeeezus.

These friends make me sad. I’m not blind. I see it too. I see the ugly in God’s creation. But God made an infinite world where there is light and salt as well. There is standing on top of Grizzly Peak in Berkeley, CA on a night when the fog was low over the San Francisco Bay and glowed orange from the city lights. There is dim-sum in Oakland’s Chinatown with Julie Lucchesi for about a year while I talked her into being my girlfriend. My two vacations to Taiwan, which were life-changing and still something I talk about. My son, Tim, who was the world’s best kid and is now becoming a man I admire and happily count as a friend. Watching young women walk down Bancroft Avenue alongside the UC Berkeley Campus each spring, like orchids newly bloomed. Ten thousand things that God made as part of His light which bring me to say I live in heaven.

I don’t want to preach this time. Do you. Do whatever. I’m not the one who will cajole you with promises to get things done or fulfill your every whim so that you’ll come to Jesus. I came to Jesus because each time I ran away he was still there with hot soup in a smoldering hearth and just let me talk. Often, the beginnings of it are not heaven. I have to fight the urge to whimper that it’s never been good, it’s always been horrible, I have no friends, nobody loves me, nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen and this is the worst thing I’ve ever done. He’s always there whittling by the hearth. He knows I’ll come around in time.

I still found heaven in the croissants and coffee at Au Coquelet in Berkeley, CA. I still lived in heaven even in the depths of my worst times. If there is any message in these words, it is that you can probably find heavenly beauty in your own life, right now, as you are, with all the good and mess in it, no altar call or preaching needed. Ok, a little preaching. It is better with Christ. It really is.

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