Month: October 2013

Don’t call it socialism

You can always count on people talking about politics to screw up the terms, and the most obvious example is in the right-wing use of the term “socialism”. That’s what they think is being built by the political left in this country.

Well, it’s not socialism, believe me.

Whatever this thing is turning into, calling it socialism is an insult to socialism. I’ve actually looked into socialism. Socialism implies that EVERYONE works. This is more like, “let’s see if we can con some people into continuing to do real work, while everyone else does either nothing or some occasional pointless bullshit to boost their self-esteem, and everyone gets paid.” Whatever that is, it isn’t socialism. It’s some kind of mutant consumerism with no sense of honesty. A friend of mine called it “welfarism”, and that’s close, although that term still holds certain incorrect associations. Consumerism is better, if people understand that consumerism opposes capitalism.

In a consumerist society, those who consume hold power, which requires an overriding authority redistributing economic power – money – down to them, taking it from those who produce. Capitalism, in the raw, would be more like “producer-ism” than what we have now.

If you talk to a leftist about this, the usual line is that the people, who are invariably virtuous, always want to work and they’re being denied the prerogative to do so by the structural defects and inequalities of capitalism. Now, according to my way of thinking, that indicates something deeply wrong in people’s attitude towards work. The opportunity to work is not owed to anyone. People become valuable by doing something others value, and that value is expressed in exchange, not by manipulating a democratic system. I’m not saying it always works that way, but that’s what is consistent with an individualist philosophy.

Talking about work like an entitlement leads to the situation we all know today: shortages of people in valued fields, like engineering and skilled trades, and kids wasting billions getting degrees in useless shit, usually something in the liberal arts category. 

Someone forgot to tell these kids what work actually is.

http://praxamericana.blogspot.com/2013/10/redefining-laziness.html (more…)

Middle Class

There is no secret about the state of the middle class today: because of the advancements on productivity, labor has basically no power and this means that a larger-than-historically-normal income gap has developed. It’s not the end of the world, as being living in an equitable society and living in a society with a high quality of life are by no means the same thing. But don’t tell that to anyone on the political left, including the old stalwarts: 

http://news.yahoo.com/carter-middle-class-today-resembles-110509535.html

Just to be clear, this is simply false. Carter’s time was more equitable, but the actual material quality of life is not radically different. The disparity between rich and poor doesn’t matter, unless you’re under the impression that making money is morally illegitimate and that rich people should be dis-empowered just for the sake of dis-empowering them. Today’s middle class is not like yesterday’s poor. And although this should be abundantly clear without anyone saying it,  busywork is not the same as work that has a purpose others actually value enough to pay for.

Those people who are deep into poor territory in most measures still don’t have to worry about starving, and for that matter, most of them don’t even consider the possibility of a life without air conditioning. Calling these people poor is like calling fat people “plus-size”. There’s an agenda at work, and it’s not even on purpose.

Pious old men have permission to be pious old men, but sometimes, I wish Reagan were still alive to remind this guy about everything good about the private enterprise system, including its inequalities. And I don’t even like Reagan. 

Accountability Before Compassion

With the health care law still drawing political blood everywhere, my own experiences debating this issue have now lost me friends I never knew were so sanctimonious. Their points are simple enough: the law – and let’s not talk like it isn’t going to be fully implemented, because it is and everyone knows it – will get more people health care. It will do it at severe cost, because the deeper problems with health care cost in America aren’t being addressed, but no matter. The point is, get the people the health care. And as I have heard so many times, people are going to go to the hospital anyway, so we might as well get them covered so they stop running up everyone else’s insurance costs and stop going bankrupt.

They have to have access to medicine; it’s people’s health, so cost no object, right?

In other words, since we won’t deny people care, then we might as well make it an entitlement. I’ve been called a bloodless asshole and very nearly psychotic for my objections to this, and by the moral standards of your average liberal, that’s exactly what I am. I do not look at the world like they do. And while lots of conservatives will fight this, knowing that their electoral success can be swayed by whether they appear to be nice guys, they lean the same way I do because they, too, are “assholes”.

The thing is, the entire liberal agenda works for what they want it to do, and freedom-hawking conservatives can’t deal with it. The liberals want the leverage that the system has over the people to disappear. They want the entitlement system to lower dependencies that people have on the economic and religious structure for their well-being, leaving only an elected and servile government that’s willing to lower standards of behavior in perpetuity to care for them. This is how liberals want to create freedom: by creating a world where people don’t need the authorities, they cease to be authorities.

The people will not have to work, will not have to respect tradition, will not have to fear reprisal of any kind as they go through life enjoying the fruits of the system with no pressure levied on them to work and conform. 

This is exactly what I have a problem with. Those who continue to work anyway become a servile class when this happens. I cannot simply accept working for the welfare of people who I share no values with simply because they happen to exist.

But doing the right thing is all about tolerance and unconditional love!

Bullshit.

Accountability over compassion.

Discipline over empathy.

There will always be inequalities, and they must benefit those who, by a standard set and enforced outside the individual’s self-serving ego, act in accordance with their culture’s strictures and embody its values.

If the people want to separate themselves from the values and strictures of their society in the name of freedom, then their society owes them nothing. If they come inside from the cold, then they play by house rules. Otherwise, no free lunch for you. The medical system should be turning people away who are too stupid to have medical care, just like the church should never put a penny of their charitable work into helping people without even getting a hearing for their faith. Reciprocal altruism beings a society together. An altruism of one-way self-sacrifice is cultural suicide.

The logic of this doesn’t seem to matter, as it’s just so cold, people can’t stand it. This entire debacle will probably score political points for the left. The government is competing with every other institution in the country, and it’s winning.

It’s a problem. No matter how many times you say to yourself that love will save us, love fades, while the discipline of institutional hierarchies have always held together a culture. We will pay for our softness, our unwillingness to put aside the weepy femininity and push people to pack the gears with the rest. I know this, but it’s still shameful to watch a once-great culture prove itself unworthy of its position in the world, especially when you still consider it your culture.

Charisma Wins Elections

If you think the people vote on sophisticated understandings of cultural issues, nuanced moral principles, good sense of how a country should be run, or anything else so high-minded, let’s review the record, shall we? I’m going to start with 1980 just because I haven’t been alive any longer than that, and besides, I don’t even remember who ran against Nixon in ’68 and the 70’s were filled to overflowing with incredibly dull men on both sides. Ford versus Carter was not worth calling an election, and voter turnout emphasized this. But the pattern that put Kennedy in the White House with ease should be every bit as clear in the case of Reagan on up.

1980: Reagan versus Carter – Reagan, with an actor’s charisma, defined a very popular legacy of mediocre ideas shared by other guys with great hair, like Jack Kemp.

1984: Reagan versus Mondale – Mondale looked like a stodgy turd even with a chick on the ticket. Reagan with ease, despite looking almost senile at times.

1988: Think George Bush is boring? Then you haven’t met Michael Dukakis!

1992: Despite handling Iraq reasonably well, Bush, like so many ladies, gets manhandled by that handsome Bill Clinton. We like to chalk this one up to Bush having the audacity to raise taxes, a fiscally intelligent move but unforgivable since he said “read my lips” that one time. Excuses, excuses…

1996: Clinton versus Dole: I did my history thesis on Dole and the Food for Peace program, and won a minor award for it. Dole’s still kicking, an honorable and decent man, and just duller than ditchwater compared to Big Bill.

2000: Bush the Younger versus Gore: dear God, the pain of watching these two cardboard suits blathering on about school vouchers, tax cuts, and the environment was just insufferable. What a terrible choice. Bush might have “won”, but they’re both losers.

2004: Just when you didn’t think the Democrats couldn’t find anyone worse than Al Gore, they go and top themselves! John Kerry? It takes serious effort to embody such a complete lack of charm.

2008: HOLY SHIT THAT GUY’S BLACK! WINNAR!!! Who’s that old dude?

2012: See 2008. Who’s that rich guy?

Hint: if you want to know who will win in 2016, wait until the primaries are over, then go to a gay bar in Oregon. Ask the fruits who they’d rather fuck, and there’s your next president. Romney was a pathetic attempt to deal with this naked superficiality, as he’s fairly handsome, but he’s also obviously a tool and a terrible speaker.

It’s not that any of them are good or bad because of their charisma, but that’s just it: they aren’t good or bad because of their charisma, while charisma seems to be the defining factor here. An election is not a character referendum or a policy referendum; it’s a popularity contest, like high school.

Has it always worked this way? Who knows? It certainly has since televisions found their way into people’s houses. Before that, party loyalty mattered more and having the necessary information to make an “informed decision” was likely even more of a joke than it is now.

The childish fantasies about the guy, or the lady, who “ignites everyone’s imaginations” are just that, nothing more. Leadership of a country with serious responsibilities is not a matter of an inspiring narrative, and yet, the people want to look at it this way. Forget this popular vote crap.

Eventually, it might become clear that the Catholics have it right: first, gather up the people with the most connections, education, seniority, or authority in the various regions under the institutions commanded. Then, lock them in a room and tell them to choose which one will be running the shit between now and his death. Yes, his death. And stick with it.

If he fucks things up, I guess they’ll choose differently next time, right? Or if he’s REALLY bad, get the group together again and a unanimous decision can disempower him and decentralize the system, sending more authority to different regions/divisions/subordinate groups. Then, wait for him to die. Stripping him of his position and making a new choice right there just creates incentives for the next front-runner to lie about his performance to get more power for himself while breeding civil war. Special considerations for wartime only.

That’s it. Define the system and stick to it. No matter the mechanics, if you want it to work, you have to expect people – all of them – to change for the system, not for the system to change for them, on any level. Only egomaniacal fools look at it differently.

Healthcare Twits

Saw this on a Twitter feed:

“Dear GOP: making fun of healthcare.GOV crashing because demand was too high doesn’t help your argument.”

Actually, it does. The GOP has been talking about how the entire mess was too expensive, and ridiculous demand for it just emphasizes how correct they are about that.

What’s actually being said is, “this proves the case for more government health care, because people need it. Thus, the government should provide it.” That’s called either Marxism or Christianity, but since this supposedly neither a Marxist or a Christian country, either way, you believing this doesn’t mean you’re “right”.

What the GOP should be saying to the public is, “fuck you, handle this yourselves through earning more money or charities or something. You want us to leave you alone, then stop asking us for things.” They can’t say that because elections. Once again, democracy doesn’t work.

That is all.