We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Thursday, January 19. 2017
I focus on the fact, in general, our lives are improving. Today, most of us hold more computing, audio and video power in our pocket, at a reasonable cost, and this device can help us control our houses, cars, and money with a few swipes. We text or call someone and are sure they got a message. Our diets are vastly improved, our choice of diets extensive, and we have more options regarding the quality and types of foods. When I was in my teens, few people had flown in a plane. Today, most have. I was the first of my friends to visit Europe in 1976. Today, most of them have kids who have vacationed or studied abroad.
First, as our lifestyles improve, we become jealous and envious of what others have. This is the essential problem around discussion of economic inequality. There is no evidence (literally none, though Piketty and some other pinheads tried to make a case which has been pretty solidly debunked) that economic inequality makes us worse off. If that were true, we wouldn't have that computing power in our pockets at such a reasonable cost. What does happen is we want what others have as our positions improve. When I bought my first condo apartment, I became desirous of what others had in theirs. Prior to that, I didn't care much about what was in my apartments, because I moved frequently enough to keep boxes minimal. Since that time, I've learned 'stuff' is overrated. But envy is what drives class warfare, not any sense of real economic doom. We're not economically incapacitated, we just feel like we are. We don't like that feeling, even though we're fooling ourselves. Seneca once wisely stated, "We are more often frightened than hurt; and we suffer more from imagination than from reality."
The second is the stupidity of elitist leaders. Biden put on an epic performance of philosophical illiteracy yesterday. He warned that democracy was at risk of collapse, and the world's democracies are at some kind of crossroads. Of course, the nature of democracy is it's constant risk of collapse. It's an inherently unstable political structure, the 'will of the people'. It's also capable of being attacked from external sources (though this faith our leaders have that Russia somehow 'tampered' with the election is laughable. Even if they were the culprits, and I doubt they were, all they did was expose a crime). What's really funny about Clown-in-Chief Diamond Joe is that he's just so out of touch, having plagiarized his way to a JD. Joe's fear about democracy's imminent collapse is based on the misguided belief that fundamental power structures must be constantly strengthened and expanded to assure democracy's survival. He views democracy as a 'top down' approach to leadership and society. But democracy needs to be renewed from time to time, torn down, rebuilt, torn down again - by the people. It's not as efficient a model as the market in providing what people want or need (and I would personally argue is almost unnecessary - almost), but if we understand this critical point about democracy, we'd stop worrying about the silly stuff Diamond Joe says is worrisome. Of course, as the fool of the elitists speaking to his paymasters, I guess it's no surprise he would exhibit such ignorance.
Is this a dangerous time to live? Maybe. You might get hit by a bus, I may break my leg stepping in a pothole, someone will certainly lose their job today. It's pretty dangerous out there. Could there be a war? Well, Obama has been at war with some nation every year of his presidency, so that's a given. Is democracy in peril? Maybe. I doubt it. But fools like to worry people about foolish things, and elitists want us to be scared of the bogeymen they create so they can impose more 'safety' and protect us from ourselves.
No, I don't think it's that dangerous. In fact, I think it's the best time to live, and it's getting better. There will be ups and downs along the way. There may be some frightening events, some tricky times, maybe even a war or two. But we're getting smarter and better, and the real problems are being created by our governments, even as we individuals continue to improve ourselves and our lives each and every day. One reason I don't worry too much about Trump is because with Obama I stopped caring what the government does and started focusing on myself even more than I had before. It's the only way to generate a positive outcome. Government isn't here to help, and never will be. All we can do is help ourselves and hope government stays out of our way. Which is precisely why democracy is not at risk.
Display comments as (Linear | Threaded)
I think your location has much to do with your perspective of good or bad time. I remember the Cuban missile crisis because it cleaned out both of the large grocery stores in our town, all in one afternoon.
I am of that generation just before the baby boomers. The years between 1952-1964 were the best in this country as my generation remembers them. As a little girl I remember my single working mom having so much hope and succeeding well by working two or three jobs at a time. When I was a young teenager just becoming aware of the political world around me Castro took over Cuba and we were told that was scary because he took down a government. However, Cuba did not get scary until the missile crisis which was several years after the take over. Meanwhile I sunny southern California everything was good-jobs, jobs, jobs. Great airplane manufacturing companies and a booming building industry--everyone had hope and opportunity. The baby boomer/hippy generation began to graduate from high school in 1964 --just three years after our generation and boy did they hit the scene hard. We never had a voice--they out-screamed us from the beginning. We could see and sense that change was happening, but our generation had never been taught the art of community organizing, nor had we been made aware that rebellion was an ok thing. I have to think North Korea is the scariest possibility on the planet right now. Unless, of course, you want to include the fem-naizis taking over the next three generations--that has been and will continue to be terrifying. They are determined that all American shall march in step in the same way all Chinese do in China. So--yeah today is much scarier.
When I was 10, my buddy and I were playing around the roots of a giant oak when my Dad came by and told us about Pearl Harbor. Dangerous time, but I don't remember realizing it. I decided then and there to become an Air Force pilot. Later, was part of the C-130 fleet set to haul both the 101st and 82nd to the Caribbean in '62 and '63 (Cuban Missile and Dom Rep coup crises). We never launched for the Cuban. Did lauch for Dom Rep, but the ground troops didn't get into action. Part of several dustups before and after those, many of which didn't even make the news, some of which were hot. Too senior to fly much in RVN. I was a headquarters weenie for that one. Yeah, today's crises look puny by comparison, which could be related to my being an old fogie looking on from the sidelines.
My great grandfather died in the Civil War. My grandfather lost everything in 1929. My parents married during the depths of the depression. I was born during WW II. It would be naive to think that any and all of those things won't happen again just because they are history and don't seem to have affected your own life today. We face numerous real and probably unavoidable threats today and the only things we don't know is which one of them will blow up in our face first and when will it happen. History may not repeat itself but it rhymes. Whatever man made or natural disaster is in our future it will happen with or without your consideration. It may happen suddenly as it did on Dec 7th 1941 or Oct 24th 1929 or it may develop more slowly but inexorably while you watch unable to stop it. But make no mistake, it will happen.
But we have to believe a man who Obama gave the Medal of Mediocrity or whatever it was, right?!?!
As you said, every time was dangerous. I teach my students that we are blessed today because our agriculture, infrastructure and economy ensure us that we have enough food to survive the next bad harvest. I know that the government says millions of Americans are poor, and thus can't buy food. Some of them stand in front of me in the supermarket, buying steaks with their benefit cards and many are pushing 350 pounds. If they are starving, it won't happen for QUITE a while, thanks. But this is a tremendous advance on life 200 years ago when we had severe trouble shipping and preserving food. Famine could still strike us, but we are better prepared to survive it than at any time of recorded history.
I disagree that this is a particularly safe time because I don't think we can keep the nuclear weapon genie in the bottle much longer. I am pushing 50 now, so I am too young for the Missile Crisis, but I did the duck and cover drills 40 years ago. In those days, Russia and us were the only countries with the capabilities to destroy a whole country with nukes. Today, the club has grown and there are hundreds of nukes in storage around the world. I am not worried about Russia or even China frying Houston, but I do worry that some terrorist cell might steal or buy a nuke and kill hundreds of thousands of us. Tell me I am wrong in 50 years and I will be happy to be wrong.
I also think that our deficit house of cards will tumble in the next 20 years. Our politicians long ago learned that they would get elected and loved if they gave more goodies away every year. It got worse when they realized they could go into deficit to do it without raising taxes. Now my unborn grandchildren will have to pay back $20,000,000,000,000.00 and interest if Congress balances the budget today. That is on top of the 60-80 Trillion in unfunded state and local govt pension liability.
The problem is that we will have to cut back on government services soon and when we do, I have little faith that it will be an across the board cut. Instead, the pension $ will flow like water and the services like police and fire protection will be slashed along with roads and water/sewage. At the same time we will have to do-it-ourselves in fighting criminals, our elites are striving mightily to take our guns (I am looking at you, Obama and Schumer). When those groups of concerned citizens band together to protect themselves, some will inevitably bump into neighboring groups and cause infighting. I worry we won't just be fighting gangs of thugs but fighting other groups like us. Either way, the security we know today looks like it is doomed within a generation.
Again, I want to be wrong. PLEASE let me be wrong. This election just reinforced my notions, though, that we are closer to the edge than we want to admit. About half the voting population thinks the other half is a bunch of savages who can't be trusted to elect a leader and they are dangerously close to advocating a civil war to separate. I know losers are always hurt after a rejection like this, but this time feels...nastier and more vicious. We edge toward chaos.
So I am not sure we are as safe as we ant to think.
I'm not saying any of those things won't happen.
Just that assuming the worst, and saying "this is a dangerous time" is like looking at a stopped watch and saying "it's 12pm." Eventually you will be right, because these things do happen.
But that doesn't make any time more dangerous than another. It's just not happening at this moment.
I didn't say it's a safe time, or that it's any less dangerous than any other time.
I just think it's a pretty damn good time to be alive, and while bad things are almost assured of happening at some point, overemphasizing that fact is pretty silly.
It's silly because while something will happen, it's odd to try and figure out what and when it will happen....that can make things worse than they are already because you're EXPECTING bad things to happen.
So, I'm not saying be a Pollyanna. But seriously, if this is a more dangerous time than 1980 or 1985, 1990 or any one of a host of years, then I'm a monkey's uncle.
Every time is a dangerous time, just like that stopped watch is always right twice a day. So why bother even worrying about it?
we agree that every time has its own dangers and challenges. We agree that now is a great time to live in lots of ways: Medicine can save lots of us who would have died 50 years ago, Food is easily available in the West, Information has become instantly available and our entertainment options are legion.
But my point stands: I think now is a more dangerous time than 50 years ago for the reasons I mentioned. I wasn't trying to imply that you were less than honest or perceptive. I just wanted to share my view.
As far as why worry: I can't protect my family or community from all of the potential problems. But I can make sure that we are as prepared as possible for the bleep-storm I think is imminent (but hope I am wrong about).
What happened in April-May of '72? Were you a BUFF pilot / crewman? My memory of that particular time is a bit hazy.
How about being a Chinese intellectual during the period that Chairman Mao was consolidating his power?
Or a Polish Jew during Hitler's reign?
Or a soviet dissident during Stalin's reign?
We modern Americans have it pretty safe and easy.
Not a pilot, but I remember international tensions hitting a peak, and doing a good number of nuclear 'drills' in school.
I was thinking of Operation Linebacker. Nixon was quite the football fan, you know. Linked in your linky:
"United States negotiators in Paris..." I would have hated to have been one of the boys in the jungle with that table shape BS going on. Cluster? I think so.
Anyway, I did not know we were on the brink again in '72. Probably best I didn't. However, ever since the H-test in '53 I have had concerns about being vaporized. Had a kid in elementary school in October '62 say, "What a way to go!" My memory is not all bad.
Dawg, I mostly enjoy your stuff.
i remember staying up all night, scared to death that we were going to war. I was just a kid, didn't understand any of it, really.
The funny thing is, there were worse moments since then, and the effect of that on me helped me realize these dangerous moments are rarely as dangerous as we're lead to believe.
Am reading "A Dream of Eagles" series by Jack Whyte. It details the period from 367 to 448 in Britain. In 367, Britain was still firmly Roman. By 448, the Eagles had flown, Rome had recalled all its troops, and the Angles and Saxons were well on their way to conquering the island and ushering it what is called the Dark Ages. Fascinating but scary reading.
0. The Pax Americana is over, that ship has sailed. You have been living in it, it's all you've ever known, so you think it will always be this way. We live at the tail end of an exceptional period. Normal is coming back.
1. The nuclear djinn is out and about, and delivered by ICBM. When a pissant country like DPRK can field one, so can everybody else. Unfortunately, there ain't nobody in the world who wants to go near the DPRK/Iran briar patch, now or ever. So eventually DPRK/Iran is gonna lob one. All bets are off after that.
2. What's with the cultural gestalt about zombies? Far more damaging than a nuke is a pandemic. Plagues have been with us since forever. Eventually and soon some jerkwad is going to marry something nasty into the 1919 Spanish flu virus and let it rip. If you think the moribund time-serving hacks at the CDC are gonna protect you, you've been smoking too much weed for too many decades. 50% mortality means you and everybody you know are dead.
3. For the first time in the history of the world, food and energy are at a surplus. All the dirt-poor countries got plenty to eat ('cept DPRK, Venezuela, and Cuba where starvation is the policy). That makes it a great time to be alive? It means more layabouts. For instance, truck driving is the #1 occupation, but the technoids for some reason are pushing hard for unmanned trucking. If there are too many layabouts and the supplies are disrupted, the response will be nonlinear. And there are always disruptions and shocks.
They said the Depression actually wasn't such a bad time, if you had a job. The bigger they are, the harder they fall.
There was no Pax Americana. It was a mindset which we were led to believe existed, when in fact we were at war almost constantly in some way.
Which is sort've my point. I agree with everything you say, while at the same time recognizing nothing is really different today than at any time in the past.
Whether we feel it's dangerous or not is really based on our willingness to believe something(s) in the past were inherently true, or real, when they weren't necessarily.
I believe humans naturally find the best path forward. Sometimes anomalies take hold, which create massive upheavals and risk, such as the events leading to the Bolshevik Revolution or WWII. But in general people tend to try and avoid those kinds of events.
Not a Pollyanna. Recognizing all the risks. But also recognizing risks have been around even when we pretended they weren't.
You use the term layabout to describe the problem of too much food. I prefer to point to the desire of those 'layabouts' (not all are) to ignore their improved position and want what they did not earn. In having more than they ever had, they tend to believe life is zero-sum, with those that have taking from those that they perceive have not.
Changing that mindset is difficult. But possible.
I was in 8th grade when the Cuban missile crisis occurred. The day after Kennedy's speech, our school held an air raid drill. We were freakin scared.