Heroic Misery

We exhault the ending. We don’t like the heroic misery that led to the ending. It would be awesome if we could just have the penultimate moment at the peak of victory all the time. One decapitated dragon bleeding out behind one handsome, sword wielding guy. On the guy’s other arm is a damsel no longer in distress. It’s time for the hero to return home and the dragon’s family to start plotting revenge.

Foolish Imaginings Sans Heroic Misery

We want foolish fantasies as our utopia. To be forever no older than 25, virule, surrounded by docile, willing women who fulfill our every desire, women who are Mary Magdalene in the bedroom and Mother Mary everywhere else. There will be only ecstasy, forever in the exultant moment of victory as the dragon’s head fell to the ground and his blood began searing the grassland. Never mind about the dragon. He needed killing.

We want a complete end to death and disease. No one would ever die, get sick or injured. We would all always be twenty-something invincible. All the foolish things we attempt at that age would never fail. The Earth would be Eden and free of all the signals of first world manufacturing. Our land unsullied by large scale farming that uses chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Everyone would have their forty acres and an ox. Ox? Yes. An Ox will plough a field. A mule? Not like an ox. Think I am kidding? Ask any Amish farmer whether he’d rather pull a plough with an ox or a mule. Thought so.

No hangovers, no escalating negative consequences from our success at achieving all seven deadly sins. No responsibility for our depravity and all the benefits. It is a toddler’s perfect world.

A Toddler’s Pastoral Paradise

One world government, dedicated to the pleasure of the peeeepul, fighting the rich and protecting us from the insults of the world. No one would hear anything that might be perceived as even slightly aggressive or a potential cause for a trigger. We could pee on the coloring books and eat the crayons and suffer no ill-effects. Our innovative way of expressing our opposition to the oppression perpetrated against us by those who would have us color inside the lines engenders praise.

Akim got into a 100 comment long thread with a few women. At the root of it was Akim’s assertion that pussy should be available on-demand. If a guy wants it women should provide. No, women would not have a say. Guy wants ass, guy gets ass. He built up an elaborate fictional world in which gestation had been offloaded to robots and women were sterilized at birth. Akim framed this as a wise goal of a future Socialist Party government. Free pussy would be a right. Free will for women would be at the whim of men.

Which is . . . stupid. Women shut down insanity like this since forever. Guys don’t have a growing child in their belly and all the resulting misery. Guys initiate gestation with sex. We get a taste of ecstasy and the woman gets a lifelong commitment to a child. Abortion? The memory of that unborn fetus never leaves the woman. Women care about sex because of the consequences to them when it works as intended and pregnancy results.

Teen Male Fantasy and Porn Trope

Akim hungered for his “should be” and refused to acknowledge some inconvenient facts. He sought solace in long-winded fantasies of a better world run by local, communal governing boards. It was a rather Maoist ideology mixed with fantasy about San Francisco’s Summer of Love.

The signals of hope & change? perf. Actual change? Can’t even. There is a political point to this. Trump voters want change. We want the chaos unleashed by attacking the career civil service, sacred cows like Medicaid, Obamacare, TANF and Social Security. A century of bigger federal budgets, greater corruption and increasingly, a government that exists only for itself is enough. We know that every coup d’é·tat means chaos and sometimes, civil war. The struggle is real, tbh.

 wait-a-minute

Now, I need to interrupt myself. I started this full of vim & verve sure that I had an epiphany worth 1500 words. I thought my political point would make it to the end of this piece. It won’t. Why? A word from God.

It was around 3am. I did my nightly wake, pee, flush, back to bed. And . . . God picks this moment to remind me that I still carry resentment from a single kickball game when I was eight. I’ve not been to the gym in three weeks. I have tons of good reasons why. They are all bullshit. This, a bitter root from my youth, this is what God showed me. Shit. Busted.

Epic Fail Heroic Misery

Old Wounds

So, a confession. I am averse to misery of any sort. Yeah, big woop. Not exactly news, that. I have used my heritage and position to belly up to the buffet of pleasures possible in my place and day. Asceticism? Oh the horror. Never.

One more thing to confess: I was teased just enough in grade school when trying to play kickball that I made an oath that I would *never* be caught playing sports. There is a medical reason for this. I have a hand eye coordination problem. Or . . . I did. Sometimes my brain tries to get my body to do something and it doesn’t go as intended. There were enough embarrassing fails as a kid that I’d rather dissolve into shapeless meat inseparable from an easy chair than do anything that requires hand-eye coordination and sweat.

Yes, that 5 years when I did Aiki Jujitsu did happen. The things I learned in that 5 years still help me. Deep down there is still that little boy who is embarrassed and wounded because the kids laughed when I tried to kick the ball and whiffed it. The same little boy who got pranked and ran the football to the opposition’s goal line.

It Needs Killing

So, there it is, the dragon that must be slain. I have to heal that little boy within me that swore off recess and kick-ball because of a couple minutes in my youth. I can’t say I am not an athlete. My rank in Jujitsu belies that. But, as my sixth decade approaches a life-altering choice is before me. I can spend ever increasing amounts on medications and incantations and doctors in an effort to get this glutinous body healthy or I can get myself to the gym and recover my former athletic self.

The easy chair will remain. Every day the choice is there: endure some misery for an hour or so at the gym or let the easy chair eat a bit more of my health. On this last visit to the doctor my A1C score was down a full point and I had lost some weight. I’ve not been to the gym in the last two weeks. When I was going my weight was under 230. It’s over that now. You can’t ask for a more concrete proof of whether exercise works. Work out? Weight and blood sugar scores fall. Collapse in to the easy chair? Things move the other direction and I die a little bit more.

Six miserable, one joyous

None of this is news. There are 7 major phases to an archetypical hero’s tale. The sought after exultant victory is achieved only at the end, after the hero almost dies. For six out of the seven phases there is misery of one sort or another. The story is a tragedy until the very end. You can’t accomplish the penultimate victory over the dragon without going through phases 1 through 6. Training is tortuous. If it isn’t hard you are not putting in enough effort. But . . . enough platitudes. I can spit out tropes and slogans with the best of them. The measure of whether I will win the battle with diabetes is still to be told.

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Fear

I wrote a post I titled, “Anxiety“. I wanted to be done with it. I am not done with it. I am not over it. Fear touches me in two ways lately. My son, who I don’t usually write about, suffers from anxiety that causes depression for him. This is actual for him. There isn’t a “just get over it” for him. When he gets knocked by life it takes him out. Recovery is never sure and can take months. It hurts and no amount of tough love will move the ball for him. Yeah, he is a millennial, something of a snowflake. The angst is no less powerful for him.

That’s one. The other is the intense tantrum the press is having now that HRH Pimp Daddy US has left the building. Their king, their god, their bhodisatva, did the horrible thing and let Cheeto Satan move in. It’s the end of the world as we know it. A bajillion women worldwide marched and carried protest signs and sang and spoke of wanting to burn down the White House. The *White* House. Shouldn’t it be something else, maybe the 1600 House or something. I mean, seriously, “white” House. Isn’t that racist somehow? All that strom and drang and what of it? Not so much.

I have a question for all those who are trying to learn to contort themselves so that ass and lips can meet. Who is your lord and king? Who is your Daddy? You knew this would end. Pimp Daddy US said so. Is that it? Is that who you worship? A dear leader who committed a venial sin and simply walked away from being the most powerful man on earth? You are that simple, that empty, that you worship a pimp? No wonder you are a mess.

This was going to end. It has to. It’s been a century of diddling about with socialism, either more or less of it. Every election cycle the offers of mo money came and went. Every election cycle we found out that the offered mo money was more money for our pimp, not for us. Instead of less tricks it was more. When we tried to object we got hurt.

The Soviet Union collapsed. Spain’s flirtation with anarchy fell into authoritarian socialism and after some bloodshed, came around to democracy as the least evil way to run a society. China is a mix of places. Where the party still dominates it is a shithole. Where capitalism has infested places like Hong Kong, Shenzhen, and Shanghai these places have exploded in wealth and disparity. We are at a generational turning point where the old guard of the last century is dying and losing elections. Sorry to say it, baby-girl, but this is the beginning of something impossible to avoid.

It’s one of the freakish things about abusive relationships. The victim keeps going back and the abuse keeps escalating. The cycle is well known. Obama was an abuser. Sorry, that’s what his term in office felt like to me. He spoke sweet words, said a lot, but his outcomes hurt us. Each time he would promise to treat us better, do some therapy, be a better pimp, and beat our ass back into the hospital. All the while making sure that we were out in public looking fine as fuck.

After all that, and now that he is gone, we somehow forgot the abuse and want him back. If we can’t have him then we want his bitch-in-chief, Billary. None of what we said in the hospital to the social worker means shit now. Jimmy Choo’s y’know. He took our Jimmy Choo’s with him. We want our pimp back.

The press is doubling down on the propaganda of Pimp Daddy US. They insist that Pimp Daddy US’ story was accurate. It was one of fear, of an unspoken fist in our stomach if we got out of line. Pimp Daddy never hit us in the face or above the neckline. Nobody ever saw the scars. We had to bring him his money, after all. The scars are there. Our John’s saw them.

Now that we don’t have Pimp Daddy we don’t know how to live. Self reliance? What is that? We haven’t shopped for ourselves in Walmart in 8 years. The people who shop at Walmart are missing teeth and can’t speak proper English. You want that for us? We always went to Nordstrom to the personal shopper desk with Pimp Daddy’s card. He always ordered in from a stack of takeout menus. We got thick but he said he liked it.

He’s gone. We went to the doctor and doc says we are diabetic, have high blood, are ?!obese!? and could die if we don’t quit living this way. The HIV test was negative but doc wants to test us again in 6 months. Our pimp daddy god-king left us to go on vacation in Palm Springs. How could he?

Yes, self-reliance. change the things you can, let go of the things you can’t, and pray for the wisdom to know the difference. Nothing changes if nothing changes. We who spent time in meetings have a bunch of these. Change who you worship. Get a new god-king because the one in Washington D.C. dates “models” who turn up on porn sites. Melania is just a high-class mail order bride. Think what you will of the last 2,000 years of idiot followers of that martyred Nazarene carpenter. I’ll put my martyred carpenter up against Cheeto Satan Melanic Dumpf all day. We try to use foundation to cover the bruises but we are not so different from you.

Who would you give your fealty to? A magic brown man who didn’t care enough to shoot Cheeto Satan? Cheeto Satan himself? How about . . . that dead guy the Romans killed whose followers claim is still alive and conduct a cannibalistic ritual meal of his blood and flesh? Is fealty to him, to the Nazarene carpenter any less insane, less absurd than fealty to a rich John with a taste for expensive whores?

In an insane age, in an age where the dominant language is imagery and video, the image of the crucified Christ remains powerful and good. The cross makes sense in this bonkers shit show we were born into. Cheeto Satan will do whatever. The teeth knashing over his latest crime against socialism will continue until he leaves office.

For eight years I deepened my marriage to the cross. I prayerfully sought ways to serve my neighbor, my kin, and my enemies. I have been blessed to be granted chances to do small acts of kindness, sometimes with love, sometimes not. That doesn’t change because Pimp Daddy US is out of office and playing golf until winter break is over and his daughters have to come back to school. Cheeto Satan is just a side show as it concerns the practice of my faith.

Last year some protesters stood across the freeway and stopped traffic for half an hour. They wanted us to care about black people, to understand that black lives matter. Not more than a mile from their protest is public housing where numerous churches and NGO’s are working to get the residents out of there and into stable lives. It is hard, frustrating work that goes largely unnoticed. It is stunning to me that a dozen people would block traffic and claim that black lives don’t matter in complete ignorance of the work under way in Richmond’s public housing. This says a lot about the protest community.

Cheeto Satan? Whatever. Some of what he’s doing was going to happen either by intent or by disaster. Pimp Daddy built a house of cards that was going to collapse anyway. At least Cheeto Satan wants to take it down card by card rather than just let it collapse.


I’ll end here. If fear is a powerful force in your life then you have surrendered to a false-god. You worship a lie. God made you fearfully to love him more dearly. He loves you and wants you to thrive. There is no such thing as courage. Courage is what we say about someone who was terrified and did the needful. To conquer fear get a new god, a real god, who is love. The threat to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego was not myth or an empty one. The miracle would be less amazing if it were not as the bible tells it. Yet these three men were willing to die for their faith. They risked death and found freedom. That’s an awesome god, way better than Pimp Daddy or Cheeto Satan.

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Secrets

Let me explain the title of this piece. This aphorism, “secrets have a way of getting out,” was in my head as I watched our local TV station report the march on Broad Street because Dumpf was inaugurated. Dumpf’s opposition is desperate for a secret that will kill his ability to be President. The secret that keeps revealing itself is our national general anxiety now that Pimp Daddy US has flown to Palm Springs to devote himself to golf.


NO TRUMP, NO KKK, NO RACIST USA! NO TRUMP, NO KKK, NO RACIST USA! NO TRUMP, NO KKK, NO RACIST USA! NO TRUMP, NO KKK, NO RACIST USA! NO TRUMP, NO KKK, NO RACIST USA!

I said in an earlier post that anxiety never speaks of life or victory. It speaks of death and injury and misery and trouble and toil. It is what God gave us so we don’t get eaten by a sabertooth tiger. I’m making this edit three weeks after I first posted this piece. Our current national mood feels like an anxiety fueled tantrum where we don’t want to understand that this was inevitable. The secret is that Dumpf is destiny.

It’s a lot easier to be against something than it is to be handed the royal scepter. I can happily write a million words of snark, never advocating for an answer and it is of little consequence. We have had a professional class of agitprops for as long as I remember. These folk make it their career to be agin it. It doesn’t matter what the thing to be agin is. They are just agin it. It has happened in history that the agitprops win and have the scepter because they killed the king. For the bulk of human history the way the regime changes is through war. Equally constant is the use of genocide to control a king’s enemies. One reason we are exceptional because we have been able to change kings without bloodshed for over two centuries. Trump is finding out that being mouthy and agin it is very different from being king.

I used to try to engage with them, to ask what they wanted. The answers were usually some foolish platitude like giving the people a fair deal. Anarchists would say they wanted to just wreck everything and replace it with governance by community boards. The Communists have tried in numerous places to enact their utopia only to find that the wealth moves into the black market and ignores them. Socialists are just communists that are willing to allow some private ownership of capital and tangible assets. Same deal, the core belief is that the community in the form of government is the better operator of the enterprises of an empire. It fails.

Now I leave them alone. I am a follower of the Way. I believe that Jesus of Nazareth died and was raised again on the third day. Read Σύμβολον τῆς Νικαίας for the rest of it. I don’t need to hate or fear or bother myself all that much with what happens in Washington D.C. The change I seek comes from being it. I’ve written extensively here about what that looks like. I’ll not repeat it here. The PUDFRB agitprops throw bricks through store windows with the same religious passion that I sing Amazing Grace. It’s a waste of time to deal with them. They are walking dead incapable of being light and salt.

We were headed, may still be headed for a Nazi America. We are almost there. We just need a leader who leads by either overarching patriotism or by a constant drumbeat of reasons to fear everything except the dear leader. Trump marks a delay in this, maybe. His opposition seems intent on furthering their goal of revolution to be replaced by some childish fantasy of what would make America great for them.

✠ ✠ ✠

It is a tactic. Find some juicy rumor about somebody and beat it to death on social media. Muster up a ton of righteous indignation. Keep at it because if you repeat an accusation enough times it gains the heft of truth. Lately, it is a finger pointed at the left, who have become obsessed with the idea that our president hired Russian prostitutes to piss on the bed that Obama once slept it. This is added to the steady drumbeat that Putin personally hacked the election and caused Cheeto Satan to be the most powerful man in the world.

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That’s one. We have Bradley Manning, nee Chelsea Manning, who has garnered enough sympathy by choosing to cross-dress that Obama commuted his sentence. This one goes way back for me. When I was naturalized as a citizen of the Peepul’s United Free Demokratik Republik of Berkeley I had to pass a quiz and sign a loyalty oath. I was given a classification: zzcc, for apprentice cab driver in a collective. It’s not a very high status. I would have scored higher if I had agreed to be classified after getting my first crazy check. High status goes to an African-American lesbian who has six kids by six different fathers and is on TANF, SNAP and so on. Even higher status is awarded to her if she is an addict.

What’s happened since is that guys have heard the unspoken message and decided that gaining status to get the girl means agreeing to be gender fluid. The penultimate is the love-fest for a treasonous spy simply because he decided to wear a training bra. See if this doesn’t sound nuts to you: that one could do anything, any depraved thing, and get a pass because they self-identify as trans-gender.

Young women are my krypton. I am a creepy old guy lurking about the tubes ogling women young enough to be my daughter. But . . . Chelsea Manning is my savior. I can simply declare that I self-identify as a twenty-something lesbian and solve my ethical issue. Since I now am Alice and not Alan, I am 22 and a lesbian, I gain status in my old PUFDRB home. I qualify for attaching Go-Pro’s to my shoes to get video of panties worn by SumYung HotTea and others. When challenged, I get to claim that I was born this way and am fulfilling my destiny.

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We are in trouble if your train of thought is, “sure, if that’s what makes him happy, let’s set up a personal shopping appointment at Nordstrom’s and drop some cash on a new wardrobe.” One of the inanities of some is that their rules are ok but those old rules by people they dislike, those rules are not ok. I’ve been in so many seminars by agitprops where after hours and hours of discussion the core boundaries that emerge have a strong resemblence to either the القرآن الكريم or the Bible. Efforts at wiping the slate clean are amusing to me because very often even though the past is disregarded it has a way of sneaking back into the resulting decisions.

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I am writing this on the Saturday after Trump’s inauguration. I had to turn off my phone because Inger is apoplectic. She started blasting Ray last night, who turns out to be surprisingly empathetic to Inger, and me and Felina. Through the fb meme storm, the story seems to be that she has made a home for herself in a house leased by Felina, who is the one among peers with the most legit presence. Inger is recently out of rehab and at risk of arrest because she’s blown off her drug-court judge and social worker. I don’t think I am giving too much away in saying this. So . . . yeah, Inger has garnered the ire of her housemates because she launched an epic fit. Nothing damaged that threatens the security deposit but also the house has a long weekend cleaning up. Felina doesn’t have a license. It was never necessary. The one vehicle owned by the house has expired tags. This is not a bunch that gives a rip about compliance. Felina is herself capable of epic latina angery storms. Ray and Felina managed to drive Inger to the psych ward without getting arrested. Not bad.

Inger’s tantrum seems to be an attempt at being pissed off enough, ugly enough, that she will be heard in D.C. and they will come correct and make Billary president. Inger is one of those who spent a few hours being booked and released from Richmond City Jail. She was charged with public intoxication and assault on a cop. That went well. Inger is still learning that attempting to motivate and lead by force of negative emotion is a game of diminishing returns. More hate has the opposite effect of what is intended. It’s power over a group diminishes to arrive at indifference. Inger should be out next week. It’s going to be rough because the hospital followed protocol and contacted her probation officer. Her near future will not signal very much virtue.

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There was a picture that raced about social media that claimed to be of a dead woman who had been left out in the cold with her child. So it was said, she and her child died on that bus bench because no one had stepped up to help her. The proffered answer was something program, NGO or government above and beyond what we are already doing. There was very little bandwidth given to the thought that we, without a program, could bring a cup of soup to that woman and sit on the bench with her, talking. No, it had to be Pimp Daddy US who had to do something more.

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Service is ugly. It messes with your orthodoxies. The usual tropes, that the guy asking for help is somehow damaged and undeserving of mercy, get stomped on. The other, that we are not enough, or that sacrificing will put us in jeopardy, are both shown to be false by the many who have sacrificed to give mercy and find that God has blessed them.

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Back to Chelsea. I have no interest in what underwear you choose to wear or whether you decide to be something other than whatever ugly you were born with. Neither is it noteworthy to me if you love a partner who shares your same genitals. There are two things I care about: parenting and dysfunction. For me, there are two genders: parents and non-parents. If you are a parent then I care about how you raise your kids and what that will mean to us as we have to cope with your progeny. Dysfunction should be obvious. If the reason you have decided to be an outlier and choose some gender identity that isn’t cis-male or cis-female is some bitterness or mental health thing–fix that. It’s the bitterness and the cray-cray and the way that makes an impact on us that matters to me. Whether you end up as two sausages or two oysters or whatever but are otherwise mostly healthy it is the healthy that I wish for.

I am struck by my encounters with some within the LGBTQ world. Rather than take what is noble and good about men or women they seem to like being obnoxious. The caricature they present as their true selves isn’t what we would wish from the better parts of what masculinity or femininity means. No, it’s the trashy stuff, the stuff where men or women are being asshats. That’s what seems to define the transgender set. They choose the aspects of men and women that are shameful and shove it in our faces as the real identity. It makes good copy and a terrible lifestyle.

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Things are going to change. It looks like a lot of the bribery of the Demokrats that they were using to stay in office is at risk. I am ok with this. What the Demokrats were offering through Billary was something we couldn’t keep doing. We are broke, America. Pimp Daddy US doesn’t have our money. The only difference between Dumpf and Billary was the severity of the collapse. With Billary the PUDFRB agitprops would get their D.C. in flames and a government that would have to shut down because it could no longer pay its bills. With Dumpf it may still happen but not as soon as it would have with Billary.

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I’m repeating myself  in this next. Empires come and go. Emperor’s rule and die. Dynasties rise and fall. The circle of life continues. Dumpf is done in at most, eight years. In the meantime, if you want to change the world the means to do so hasn’t changed. If you have not befriended your neighbor now would be a good time to do so. If you are renting now would be a good time to look for land to buy. You want something with a lot big enough to support a small garden and maybe a few chickens. If that’s illegal where you are maybe use all that political animus to get the county or city to approve of keeping chickens. Humbly seek to strengthen your relationships to those around you. Trust your instincts. Listen with both ears and be slow to speak. You’ll know what to do.

We change the world by being the change we seek. I know, it’s a cliche. Whatever. Still, do the small acts of kindness, be merciful and gracious first. Remember this? אם אין אני לי, מי הוא בשבילי? אם אני רק לעצמי, מה אני? ואם לא עכשיו, אימתי? This also: עשו לאחרים את מה שהייתם רוצים שיעשו לכם – זאת תמצית התורה ודברי הנביאים.

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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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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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More Educating Alan

I’m well within my wheelhouse for this space if I just write from my hip and don’t bother with facts. This post felt like it needed seasoning with a bit of fact. I posted this on FB:

100+ years of some degree of Socialist Democracy and the Bern says change means even more Socialism? I don’t understand.

black power sheildThere was some back & forth with my anarchist friend. Then I said, “Socialism is fascism”. No, not by itself. It needs help. Fascism, as defined on Wikipedia: “a form of radical authoritarian nationalism“. Socialism is, for those that don’t want to go look at my prior post on this,  “is a variety of social and economic systems characterized by social ownership and democratic control of the means of production; as well as the political ideologies, theories, and movements that aim at their establishment.” Socialism become fascist with Hitler and Mussolini before WWII.

Socialisms isn’t fascist until it is. To the social ownership and democratic control of production you also need fierce nationalism and an authoritarian government. What we have now is fierce loyalty to a tribe and fierce anger at anyone outside the tribe. We also have a government that is in a rather authoritarian mood and pitching more of this as the best plan going forward.

Democracy in action often means endless meetings and frustration. Because we are a democracy those other people are hard to shut up. You have to talk to them, listen to them, maybe compromise with them. So annoying. For those who wish for a living wage, for free education all the way through college, for safety from triggers and micro-aggression, for free medical care, for a social safety net that means a job isn’t a necessity, for all the things we’ve been promised for over a century, opposition is an unfortunate annoyance. It seems like it would be so much easier if we just had a king who would do the needful.

CoA_of_the_RSIOk fine if that king is benevolent and agrees with what you wish. There is a problem with kings. They can legally have you killed. They are the rule of law so at the end of the day, it’s do as the king wants or die. I’m cranky. I don’t behave. I write about drunk aliens and questionably sane emperors of People’s Park. I’d be safe as long as the king didn’t pay me much mind. But . . . troublemaker that I am, I’d probably end up on his radar and he would not be pleased. Kings are bad for my health.

I don’t doubt the sincerity of those who want Billary & Sanders as our next president. I have a hard time with the claim that a bigger, more authoritarian executive branch is the change we have been promised for over a century. My ancestors came here seeking hope & change. They left their manor homes to escape religious persecution. They thought that coming here would mean starting over in a virgin pastoral utopia where they could finally live as they believed God called them to live. That itch to just tear it all down and start from nothing has remained a constant melodic thread through our history. Obama got elected pitching a new beginning for America and a fundamental transformation of the Puritan experiment. His transformation was, wait for it, a bigger executive branch that has become more authoritarian.

DSA-LA-logoSocialism becomes fascist when a charismatic leader draws us into revival fever full of tribal pride and seduces us into believing that the answer is greater government control of business, industry, assets and property. Billary & Sanders are smart. They are not preaching a brighter future. We were sold a time share in hope & change by a brown man in a nice suit and can’t afford the monthly payments. They are preaching the apocalyptic warnings of Isaiah and the Revelation of John. They are warning us that if we don’t let them expand government control we are doomed. It is a sermon the yungins are feeling deeply.

Government control of industry can reign in their evil, polluting ways and save the planet. Government regulation of wages can assure everyone of a living wage and end our forced viewing of those doe-eyed kids on TV who we are told are starving and need our donation of just a dollar a day. (Those kids were on TV when I was a kid. I’m guessing they have grandchildren now.)Government regulation of work rules can assure us of two months of paid leave. We already have Obama care and while it does help some people it works because those younger pay higher costs so that those older can pay lower costs. Old folks get nice silicone dildos while the youth get red oak covered in ferrous oxide sandpaper.

I get my claim that socialism is fascist from talk radio. I said socialism is fascist out of fear and ignorance. I didn’t do my own homework. Socialist democracies have become fascist but socialism isn’t on its face fascist. The danger is in making the president more powerful and authoritarian. What worries me about supporters of Billary & the Bern is that they are rushing toward a more authoritarian executive branch in the name of change and fairness.

Can we not repeat more of the same in the name of real change, of real hope & fairness? I am also in an apocalyptic mood. My bet on the dead pool for this country has a lot of squares. I’m not betting on any square beyond another century or so before the American experiment collapses into regional fiefdoms. There is a revolution afoot. It started right around the time the socialists got elected here almost a century ago and elsewhere and began to dismantle our democracy as we knew it.

The work is almost done. We don’t have far to go before the festering puss of failed socialism bursts through our abscessed skin. We are not fascist yet. All we need is more socialism paired up with a weaker congress and a stronger, authoritarian president ginning up national (pride isn’t the word) sentiments favoring the fashionable tribe. We almost have it. We saw elements of it in the protests of the Black Lives Matter cadre against the police. You’ll know we achieved it when this blog is taken down by the government because it is deemed hate speech promoting micro-aggression and containing overmuch triggering.

 

 

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Rhetorical Dodge Ball

First Posted 30-Dec-2014

My Dad has become a troll. He does this thing at least once each time I visit him. He’ll throw a macro-aggressive statement out there to trigger me. Sometimes, when I was younger, I flung words back at him. These days, though, I’ve learned to dodge his rhetorical fast balls. I’d rather keep the relationship than be right. The art of it is knowing how to keep my dignity, to disagree with him, without getting caught in a shouting match. This trip there were two balls launched at me, both glittering generalities.
socialist christThe first one was, “Jesus was a communist. So, if you are sincerely following Jesus you’ll also be a communist.” Which is a bit stunning. Jesus, depending on who is counting, lived over two-thousand years ago. Communism, says Wikipedia, became a thing in the late 18th Century. So, Christ had been dead and resurrected well over 1800 times before Communism made its name in the history books. A key difference between the early house churches of pre-Constantine Christendom and our modern church was that before Constantine Rome was the enemy so arbitrating who gets what was done on a small scale by individual churches. Modern socialism envisions a large, unelected civil service governing of the distribution of capital and property. This puts the President’s civil service at the head of the government picking winners and losers. The President assumes the role of Caesar and Congress becomes a feckless Roman Senate. The courts abdicate their power and become tools of the Caesar’s civil service. Maybe that isn’t a future wish. It’s perhaps what we have as a government now. Woo. Jesus was no friend of Rome or of his contemporary church leadership. If Jesus was anything, he was an anarchist.

Christ advocated against needless governance. He performed a miracle, finding a coin in the mouth of a fish to pay Caesar’s taxes. The Communist idea of public or government ownership and management of most everything is the furthest from the sort of service first leadership demonstrated by Christ when he washed the feet of the disciples. Jewish tradition of the day insisted on a tithe of 10%. So, by tradition, the community through the Levites, only held 10% of the assets in common. The rest was held by individuals and their families. I don’t find anything in the Bible to suggest Christ advocated a greater ownership of resources by Rome.

pink triangleHis next one was this, “Anybody who thinks homosexuality is a sin is homophobic. Anybody who is homophobic is hiding something, probably that they are actually gay and just won’t admit it.” So, we who believe that homosexuality is a sin are all gay and just in denial? Really? Wow. Good to know that. Thanks for sharing, Dad. So, I am supposed to be a Communist because I say I am Christian. And, because I believe that homosexuality is a sin I’m actually a closeted gay man in denial. That’s a pretty profound therapy moment right here in public on this blog, for everyone to read. Glad I got that cleared up.

My tinfoil hat is crooked and faded to a mottled, oxidized grey, should I be worried? Maybe a better tinfoil hat would be one with pink triangles and red stars . . . maybe my Dad would like that tinfoil hat better. Maybe for realz, I kinda don’t care.

I’m good. I know he does this. I know he says stuff that is weird. He’s my Dad, though, so I let it all slide. His tendency to throw stuff out there like that doesn’t take away his success within the Presbyterian Church or his role in designing and building early computers that were a step toward today’s SmartPhones. He’s one more odd duck like me who still has attributes worth praising. The world is better for having him in it, wild claims about closeted gay Communists included. Bless your heart, Dad.

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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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Toxic Food Boxes

First Posted 16-Jan-2015

2-Feb-2016, Richmond, Va.—It’s a bit curious to be editing this a year after I first posted it. At the time I wrote it I was a month into another job search. As was true last year I was one of those without an income and struggling to find ways to afford myself. It hadn’t yet been a year since I’d moved to my house. The memory of being homeless still loomed. What an awful fear, to have gotten this house and so soon lose it. All those who gave money, time & furniture to helping me make it a home. All that gone. I’ve been in my house for 15 months now. I found a job last May that paid double what I usually make. I finished out the year making significantly more than I averaged annually over the last seven years. I still fear the street. I am encouraged that maybe I can rest in my success and build on it.

Pestele, simbol crestinI read Robert Lupton’s “Toxic Charity” last summer. I’ve taken Lupton’s message to heart. I get it that folk want to help, want to relieve a bit of the misery of some through direct giving of boxes of food. I’ve wanted to do that also. Also, it’s not always a bad thing to give a box of food. It can be helpful.

However . . . I’m after the sick symbiotic relationship that can pervert good intentions and take an act of mercy and turn it into something hurtful. The sort of thing that has 10,000 people show up at the Richmond Convention Center for a Thanksgiving meal every year. The sort of short term missions which stops at giving a box of food, giving a fish. No doubt, some of them wouldn’t eat if there was no meal being served by local charities at the Convention Center today. Still, because of Lupton’s words, I wonder how many of them forgo doing for themselves because there is a free meal to be had. Along with the food boxes we need folk living among those they intend to serve and learning what the gifts are, what ways we can partner with our new neighbors to improve the economy of the neighborhood and create jobs.

As Lupton says, this isn’t a one weekend project. It’s a 10 year plan. You have to invest in the long game. I agree with Lupton and Dr. Moyo (Dead Aid, 2009) that this is the better answer to serving a community. The act that prompted this is a completely benign donation of a box of food to my neighbor. He needs it. He needed a fish. He knows how to fish but lately has had trouble fishing. The sort of longer term project of finding a more stable career for him will happen. But today, a box of food is about right. It’s not an “or”. It’s not give a fish or teach to fish. It’s go fishing and sometimes, give a fish because the fish in the river chose not to be caught. For Lupton, it’s work with the neighbors on buying the pond. My neighbor and I will keep going on the 10 year plan to make a difference here. And probably, he’ll get more donated food. That makes this an “and” instead of a false dichotomy of whether to give a fish or not.

That’s what I said last year. I came home from my driving job last December. I started my job search drill. I had a little money saved. I applied for Unemployment as per usual. Things looked difficult but I’d been through worse. Then my former employer said to the Employment Development Department that I’d been let go for malfeasance. Now, my usual source of income while I looked for work was gone. I had all the bills that come with living in a home and no income. Ruh roh.

It’s been scarier. It has been a scary couple months. My church stepped up and paid my bills for the last couple months. I found a friend whose car broke down and I’ve been giving him rides to work for gas money. I made it. In December I made noise about continuing the Dave Ramsey thing. Today, I have a few dollars cash to spend, I’ve started paying my pledge to the church for 2016, and set aside some cash in an envelope for an emergency fund. This is a break in pattern for me. My usual practice is to indulge in some sort of FUB spending and cry louder about how scary my finances are.

While on the road and making all that money I got to watch my life with double the money. Yes, I tried to do the right thing. At one point I had almost two grand in my money market checking account. Then I relapsed. I bought a printer. That was the first thing. Then the October trip home where I flew my son to Richmond and bought more stuff I’d wanted. All those fine words about living poor when I’m doing well became bumpkiss. I have more cash in the house than in the bank.

Some twelve step cliché’s: it works when you work it. Nothing changes if nothing changes. One day at a time. I have a spending problem, not a revenue problem. Like many addicts, I am really good at words. I promise a lot. The measure of my words is how I deliver on what I say. It’s 10:43am. I haven’t been out of the house to spend money. I still have the cash I’ve set aside. It’s been a couple weeks since I’ve spent money FUB-ishly. One day at a time.

The key takeaways I got from Lupton a year on are that we should focus on funding gifts instead of needs, that we should think in terms of the long game, part of any investment is visible progress on the part of our clients on clearing up their hurts, habits and hangups, and it has to be driven by the client, not by us. Another twelve step thing: we can’t help those who haven’t admitted being powerless. Ouch. Mea culpa. 10:47am. So far, so good.

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