The Therapy Sessions
Thursday, September 29, 2005
The things everyone knows, but that no one can say
Versions of every program being proposed in the aftermath of Katrina have been tried before and evaluated. We already know that the programs are mismatched with the characteristics of the underclass. Job training? Unemployment in the underclass is not caused by lack of jobs or of job skills, but by the inability to get up every morning and go to work. A homesteading act? The lack of home ownership is not caused by the inability to save money from meager earnings, but because the concept of thrift is alien. You name it, we've tried it. It doesn't work with the underclass.
Perhaps the programs now being proposed by the administration will help ordinary poor people whose socialization is just fine and need nothing more than a chance. It is comforting to think so, but past experience with similar programs does not give reason for optimism -- it is hard to exaggerate how ineffectually they have been administered. In any case, poor people who are not part of the underclass seldom need help to get out of poverty. Despite the exceptions that get the newspaper ink, the statistical reality is that people who get into the American job market and stay there seldom remain poor unless they do something self-destructive. And behaving self-destructively is the hallmark of the underclass.
Hurricane Katrina temporarily blew away the screens that we have erected to keep the underclass out of sight and out of mind. We are now to be treated to a flurry of government efforts from politicians who are shocked, shocked, by what they saw. What comes next is depressingly predictable. Five years from now, the official evaluations will report that there were no statistically significant differences between the subsequent lives of people who got the government help and the lives of people in a control group. Newspapers will not carry that story, because no one will be interested any longer. No one will be interested because we will have long since replaced the screens, and long since forgotten.
It's blaming the victim! And that makes it WRONG....
Even if it is right.
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
Why apathetic non-voters don't matter
(Inspired by Ken Grundland.*)
Opinion surveys consistently say that the majority of Americans cannot name their congressional representative and senators. Large numbers of Americans don't vote, and they don't care.
Who leads the country? These people couldn't care less.
Yes, this is apathy.
But how exactly does it serve the country to have them voting?
That is an important question.
Usually, the people complaining about voter apathy tend to be liberal. (I'm a moderate myself, but this is something I have observed. )
Is this because they feel these uninformed dummies will vote Democrat? That their votes will be easily bought by some federal money here and there?
What does that say?
I would argue that these people have tuned out because things aren't bad enough for them to care.
That may sound harsh, but after every election, the police still work and jobs and roads are still there, so these potential voters don't really expend the effort to care and read a newspaper.
I agree its pathetic; but hey, that's freedom.
You have a right to a vote in the same way you have a right to a gun...
But just because you have a right to a gun doesn't mean every person needs to have one.
In reality, the fact that most people don't have guns says something good about our society: most people trust the police and their neighbors to maintain security.
When I moved to my house, I recused myself from voting for local school board officials because I didn't know anything about them. The Democrats could have been socialists; the Republicans could have been Nazi's.
I didn't know, so I did not pull the lever.
I wish others would do the same. If you don't understand the issues, don't vote!
The guy that wants to vote for Bush because he is also a Texas Rangers fan: stay away!
The woman who wants to vote for Gore because of the way he romantically kissed Tipper: stay home on election day!
The American political scene will be better with their absence.
But - that said - there is one kind of "voter apathy" that must be discouraged by people of all political persuasions.
We must see beyond our differences and support the end of gerrymandering - where the party in power gets to draw districts in a way that allow it to keep power.
It has happened in Texas (and the Republicans were legally right, but morally wrong).
And it has been reality for sometime California. In fact, in California, the state recently had elections to its statehouse, and not a single seat changed hands, because the party in power (the Democrats) had drawn districts in way that made sure it couldn't lose.
That is a recipe for "voter apathy."
Why vote if your vote is certain not to make a difference?
This is a bad kind of voter apathy - millions of people who care but don't vote, because it simply won't matter.
This is exactly the kind of "voter apathy" that every citizen of a democracy should fear.
So what about it? Drawing districts in every state should be left to bipartisan committees.
How about that?
*I like Ken Grundland's site.
It's not that I agree with him; I don't.
But he does write essays that at least give me food for thought.
It's like he's my writing coach, saying "what do you think about...."
And hell, when I don't have anything else that inspires my muse, I'll bite.
Sunday, September 25, 2005
Price gouging at Big Fruit
Do you know what the price of blueberries is currently?
I'm seeing about four dollars for about a half cup!
Two months ago, a whole cup was going for two bucks!
A 300% price increase!
It's price gouging!
What's more, it happens every year at this time! And it happens well before winter! You can still pick blueberries in September.
The bosses of Big Fruit get together and decide that their summer profits haven't been enough for them to meet the annual targets that they promised their stockholders, so they jack up prices on hapless consumers!
And it happens every year. We need laws about this fruit gouging! There should be congressional investigations! I want to see the executives of Big Fruit testifying before Congress.
(I should be careful. I might convince somebody. That argument is all a socialist needs...)
Friday, September 23, 2005
I work at a large research company.
I love my job and I feel that its important.
The people I work with directly are first rate, as are most of the people I work with indirectly.
In short, life is good.
But lately a dark cloud has entered my life.
Some very important company officials (VICO's ?) are coming to visit my lab - where we have been doing some interesting work.
But all of the people I work with are freaking out like newlyweds having the in-laws visit their home for the first time.
A friend who spent some time in the Navy said that it reminded him of the time their ship got boarded by the admiral.
Everything must be spotless. Minor cosmetic changes are being made right and left to impress the executives, who probably wouldn't know a lab from a staff toilet.
I mean, these people have visited manufacturing sites, and they are way dirtier than we are!
Everyone is horrified that they will open up the company newpaper in October and read: "Company officials left the laboratories visibly shaken by the clutter and disorganization...."
I can understand most of it.
For example, they are reminding us of company policies on dress.
They are not going to make me rent a tux for the day, but when the bigwigs are walking through, you don't want them to see some scraggily guy who looks like he crawled out of hamper flashing the company badge.
But still - I'd love it if these guys lived up to the what people seem to be preparing for.
One could saunter up to the associate director...
"You there! Simple lab tech! Are you not delighted with the wondrous opportunities the company has given you? Did you ever think your humble high school diploma would bring such blessings?" And in a whisper: "The company offers educational opportunites for you to better yourself. Talk to your HR representative."
That would be rich.
But alas, the visitors will be smiling and quite normal - well, as normal as someone can be who controls several million shares of company stock. They will smile, shake hands and leave on the company helicopter.
And they won't even notice that we cleaned the windows!
My stubborn son
Last night at the playground, Sean got a little too excited and I suggested we go home.
It - after all - was almost time for bed.
Sean knew this, and he let me know it. I didn't like the tone he was using, so I told him he would going to bed without his story.
"Why?" He protested.
"Because you are talking back to me like a little brat."
When I was tucking him in and it was clear that I wouldn't relent - even after a tooth brushing session where he was extremely nice (and expectant) while helping his little brother - he threw another temper tantrum.
"I don't want a story! I don't want a story tomorrow either!" He pouted.
"OK, no story tomorrow either. What about Saturday night?"
He was quiet and began to cry. Gone are the days when he could blow a whole week's worth of something he loves just out of sheer stubborness.
This time he was silent, except for the sobbing.
The daddy in me sobbed with him. I love reading Sean his stories. He's almost five, so his stories have become interesting. Unlike his Timmy's stories - which are still about little white ducks and happy trains - Sean's stories are morality tales populated by witches and goblins.
But the father in me saw this as a learning opportunity.
Don't get me wrong: I'm thrilled to have a child who can dig his heels. Being stubborn is a wonderful virtue.
Sean's mom is a very stubborn person, and this is great because she is almost always right. (I know that is what husbands are supposed to say, but it helps when you really believe it.)
But stubborness can have a dark side: you have to know how to choose your battles.
A person who is stubborn about petty things is rarely a hero.
Most often, he is an asshole.
Sean is not that way. He is generally an obedient and helpful kid.
But it is the role of father to be diligent and watchful for first signs of brattiness. And though the daddy would love to relent and show mercy, the father in me realizes that every word to my child must be seen as a promise.
Whether the promise is good or bad, I must keep it.
Even when it hurts.
When I tucked Timmy in after his story, Sean was still awake. He had stopped crying, and his voice was now calm and expectant again.
"Am I still not getting a story tomorrow night," he asked.
I shook my head no.
"That's a promise?" Sean asked.
"Yes it is, but I wish it wasn't."
He didn't cry. He knew that was what I was going to say. He was just testing. So much of childhood is just testing the limits.
He might actually turn out to be a good kid.
How government works(?)...
It's not real, but it could be:Iowahawk:
$12 B For New WV Pork Study Center
Morgantown, WV - In a late afternoon voice vote, Congress today approved an emergency supplemental appropriations bill that will fund Gulf Coast recovery efforts, as well as the new $12 billon Robert C. Byrd Center For The Study of Government Waste at West Virginia University.
'The devastation from Hurricane Katrina will cost US taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars, and the new WVU center will help us identify creative approaches to finding cuts in other areas,' said Larry Wright, a spokesman for the bill's chief sponsor, Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV).
Wright said the eight-year construction project for the mountainside center would begin as soon as Congress allocates supplemental funding for the proposed $3 billion, 5,400 foot Robert C. Byrd Memorial Anti-Waste Suspension Bridge To The Robert C. Byrd Center For The Study of Government Waste.
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
Price gouging, and other socialist myths
One of the clearest signs of how far gone the modern left has gotten is the swiftness with which they have concluded that the high gas prices of late are the result of corporate greed.
It's funny (not funny ha ha, but funny as in distressingly pathetic).
I've heard their arguments:
The most common argument goes something like this: this is a national emergency and energy companies shouldn't raise prices on the oil they refined a few weeks ago because of a little thing like a shortage.
At the head of each energy company is an evil Mr. Burns, and he jacks up prices at the first opportunity, just because he can.
And his competitors do exactly the same thing, even though they know the best way to make profits is to offer the cheapest price to maximize customers.
Lost in such muddied thinking is the problem of supply. The prices don't go up because of Mr. Burns and his greed. They go up because a significant amount of gasoline won't be there - not just now,but in the next few weeks.
The price expresses the fact that buyers throughout the South are desperate for gas now. Stations there will gladly pay $5 a gallon, because their suppliers are offline. If they don't, their pumps will be dry.
So if Mr. Burns were a "good" man, he might sell his gas at $2.50 a gallon in Michigan. But that just opens up a nice opportunity for his middleman, the man who transports his gas. Let's see, I truck this gas on my normal route and I collect $1,000,000; or I go out my way down South to help those folks out and make $2,500,000, more than covering my extra transportation costs.
I would love to do business with the people who argue that sellers should always use yesterday's prices. I'd love to buy their houses, cherrypick their stocks.
I'd make a fortune pocketing their profits for them.
I know almost nothing about economics, but the little bit I do know has served me well.
It makes sense with a little thought.
Some on the left would rather spare themselves even that minimal effort, and just attribute rising prices to the evil machinations of "the man."
This is how liberals becomes socialists.
And it is how intellectuals become morons.
Monday, September 19, 2005
And you believe them?
N. Korea Vows to Quit Arms Program.
Just in time to get a big gift of winter heating oil from a relieved world.
And when winter is done, they'll huff and puff and restart everything, leaving everyone in the West sputtering with disbelief at a simple realization: dictators don't keep promises.
Of course, that lesson will be quickly forgotten.
And they'll be new round of talks in 2006 aimed at getting North Korea to stop their arms programs.
UPDATE: OK, I was wrong. North Korea won't even wait that long: N. Korea Demands Reactor Before Nuke Talks Continue.
Of course, there is nothing to discuss. A nuclear North Korea is a fait accompli.
Saturday, September 17, 2005
Every lit bit hurts
Oh my God, this is funny. And not that far off the mark:
Iowahawk Special Guest Commentary
by Joshua Markos Mikos Atrios
For the Angels of Indignation
Two weeks ago, millions of Americans watched in horror as the city of New Orleans was savaged by the relentless, pollution-fueled fury of Hurricane Katrina. Later, we witnessed the human rights atrocity as George Bush's incompetent racist henchmen dynamited the levees, unleashing a tidal wave of contaminated Halliburton turdwater which forced thousands of our fellow citizens to flee into the dank slave ship-like bowels of the Superdome.
Now, as the floodwaters recede, the survivors of Bush/Katrina face an even greater danger: the danger of complacency. Even as you read this, Chimpy's pals in FEMA and the Red Cross are buying off evacuees with food and cheap blankets and debit cards, slowly robbing the survivors of God's most precious gift -- the gift of focused political rage.
The statistics are staggering. If we do not act soon, tens of thousands of Katrina victims will soon succumb to false hope. Many will return to Louisiana and begin rebuilding, lacking even the most basic idea of BushCo's culpability. Worse, many other poor and minority survivors will remain where they are, anonymously absorbed into the overwhelmingly Repugnican districts that were suspiciously ready to "set up" evacuee "help" "centers."
That's why we in the online progressive community have teamed up to form the Angels of Indignation, a new charity dedicated to getting the survivors of Bush/Katrina disaster back off their feet and on the road to class action. Angels of Indignation is proudly supported by a coalition of some of the top reality-based political sites -- sites like FrenzyBloc, RetardedChimp, Don't Bogart That Truth, BushTard, ConspiraScream, Puke Uprising, Dubyacide, Sanity Underground, Zit Popper, ScreamPukeRageScream, Screamette, and my own online community diary, The Daily Shriek.
Together, we represent the "can-do" sites that millions of progressives like you turn to for clear, level-headed political insight and activism to help you survive the coming holocaust schemes of the Rupugnican Xtian Jihadis in Washington. And now, we are asking for your financial help on behalf of the needy people of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast.
Friday, September 16, 2005
Like a scene from a cartoon...
This morning, I was coming down the stairs, I noticed that Timmy was not in the living room. I found him rummaging around in his daycare bag, where his breakfast and lunch were packed.
He was eating his toast.
I told him to put it all back, and he made a show of doing so.
Reluctantly. (Timmy loves to eat.)
A recent trick of his is to fall down suddenly and start crying, expecting everyone to immediately feel sympathy for him and hug him.
He knew I was angry , so he gave it a try.
But something went horribly wrong. In the middle of his simulated fall, a hidden piece of contraband toast fell from his grasp and onto the middle of the floor.
When I silently watched his display of mock pain, he looked up to make me feel guilt.
Then he saw the toast, and he realized he was in more trouble than before. He tried to reach for it, to cover it up and hope that I had not seen it.
But Titus the Dog had seen the toast too, and he got there first.
Timmy cried for a very long time.
Busted. Exposed as a Fraud. Busted again. Dissed by the dog.
Thursday, September 15, 2005
You first, Dave
David Brooks clearly needs to relearn the greatest failure of the 1960's:
If we just put up new buildings and allow the same people to move back into their old neighborhoods, then urban New Orleans will become just as rundown and dysfunctional as before.
That's why the second rule of rebuilding should be: Culturally Integrate. Culturally Integrate. Culturally Integrate. The only chance we have to break the cycle of poverty is to integrate people who lack middle-class skills into neighborhoods with people who possess these skills and who insist on certain standards of behavior.
Of course, that wouldn't be Mr. Brooks' neighborhood...
No, of course not. Mr. Brooks and his peers would never tolerate a bunch of section eight's living next door.
It will be some working class neighborhood that will be suddenly infested with Jim Bob Trailerpark and his cousins or Ms. Crackwhore and her seven unruly children.
And the result is quite predictable: the socially-engineered neighborhood will deteriorate.
The crime rate will go up, the local government services will be overwhelmed, and the schools will suffer.
Ambitious people will move out, and a cycle will begin: property values will go down, making it affordable to other lowlifes, bringing property values down further still.
Call it "white flight' if you want, but it is really just simple economics - and it makes complete sense even if you completely negate the race card.
All people want safe neighborhoods and good schools for their children, and these things are valuable assets that people will move out and pay elsewhere to get.
This is how government - under the guise "ending poverty" - actually sows it.
Through non-judgmental welfare programs and dispersed section eight housing, it nurtures little seedlings of despair. Eventually, they grow into the weeds that choke off the last sprigs of hope in the neighborhoods where they're planted.
In the Philadelphia area, places like Bristol, Norristown and Chester used to be nice places to live.
Government has horrendous record in "breaking the cycle of poverty."
It has an excellent record of doing the opposite.
Democrats are attempting to use the Katrina disaster to get Americans to charge across the field in yet another pointless assault on American poverty. American poverty exists certainly, but what we call poverty here actually passes for middle class in Europe (and upper class in most of the world).
American poverty is a poverty of values, which is why gearing up for another assault on material poverty won't work, and the Democrats would be fools to try it.
It won't work, because most Americans - the vast majority of whom are not poor - don't see poverty as their failing.
The girl who drops out of school, gets addicted to drugs and has three children by the time she is 25....she did not do these things because of anything I did or didn't do.
She did those things because she was never taught any better.
The left has a terrible habit of attributing every problem in the world to "our" failings.
Osama bin Laden would have been a wonderful person if not for our support of Israel.
The Cambodian killings fields never would have happened if not for our wreckless venture into Vietnam, and Vietnam would have never happened if we weren't so frightened of a little socialism here and there.
And had the American government had given out more checks in the sixties, Ms. Crackwhore would be a doctor today.
The world is full of people in the world who are just wrong. They make the wrong decisions in their lives. They do stupid and violent things. They are sociopaths, dictators, mass murderers and criminals.
And the first responsibility of our government is to keep them away from the people who do not do stupid things.
That is, government's first job must be to protect the people who actually build the country and make it better: people who hold down jobs, raise families and live responsibly.
These people have been trending Republican over the years, and when you look at the modern Democratic Party, it is no mystery as to why.
The US response to the poverty "exposed" by Katrina? We will rebuild their houses, and hopefully we will build them outside of a flood plain. We will repair the levees and pay for the damage.
But when it comes to the assault on poverty, we will do the only thing that has worked in the past: quarantine.
Because the people - otherwise known as the voters - have no stomach for using our children to try to reform their children.
For every virtue my sons may teach them, they will receive two vices in return.
There are already enough vices in their world. My job is to keep those vices simple: on their walk to school, they might see a discarded Coke can, not a crack vial. I will try keep them from playing too many video games or watching too much TV.
In my neighborhood, those are the vices that afflict us. If that were to change, we would change neighborhoods - as quickly as we would change our underwear.
Most people - even the liberals - think this way, even if they refuse to admit it.
Just as Bill and Hillary weren't stupid enough to send Chelsea to DC's horrendous public schools, I have no desire to see my children riding a bus into West Philadelphia.
That blighted area is off limits to them.
It is quarantined.
Most people think this way, but elites like the people who run the Democratic Party (and the hapless columnist David Brooks) do not.
I wonder who's going to win?