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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Anxiety And Happiness: A Case For Economic Equality

Futurama Nibbler
Image lifted from The Scribbler

For a good chunk of my adult life, I enjoyed an extravagant income. I come from humble economic beginnings (to which I have now returned, in spades, to understate the matter, to direct your attention to the donation button to your right, to humbly point out that I am rather diligent and industrious when it comes to, say, washing dishes... Bueller?), so what I consider "extravagant" is perhaps modest when compared with your standard American Ambition. Given the state of the actual majority of Americans - not to mention the global population - it was not really modest at all, but this post is about comparative wealth, so it is worth noting.

How extravagant? With nary a thought to be given to them, the basic needs of nutrition, shelter and clothing were covered. What was left over was enough that to triage the remaining pleasures of acquiring material goods (electronics, media) vs. the most wasteful indulgences of the social pleasures (jovial nightly parties and/or pub sessions with fine companions) was more of an exercise of amusement than serious budgeting. The greedy "virtue" of hoarding (savings) was thankfully never a bee in my bonnet, so I was spared at least that particular worry.

A good life.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

What Capitalism Incentivizes - Rather, Commune With Your Heart

Paul Newman exemplifies education in Cool Hand Luke

The Profit Motive

Many well-meaning people - especially here in the United States, the "shining city on the hill" of capitalist doctrine - see the profit motive as the prime motive for human activity.

The Invisible Hand of free markets is seen, in turn, as the arbiter of balance in the capitalist doctrine. Depending on one's proclivities, it is tantamount to a manifestation of God's will, a fundamental law of physics like entropy, or a force of ecological equilibrium, a Gaian thermostat.

To adopt these as fundamental truths gives rise to the prominent ills of our day, ills of Biblical proportions. And, because of the acceptance of the profit motive as an a priori aspect of human nature, these ills are dismissed as necessary correctives, reigned down from above upon those of us who fail to recognize our "true" nature, we retrograde blasphemers of received wisdom, we who fail to hold up our end of the deal in the beautiful machinery of achievement and progress, we who receive instead the holy correctives of the meritocracy we so arrogantly, and impotently, spurn.

Friday, August 3, 2012

O Puerile Meme: "But What Do They Want?"

Futurama Nibbler
Image purloined from futurama fan art & scans

While going through my weekly ration of hate comments, including a veiled death threat, from my ultra-left readers, I wondered what they expect if their actions—or inaction—result in the defeat of President Barack Obama.

How will they feel on election night and the arrival of four years of Mitt Romney and maybe four years after that?
So goes the lede in Bill Boyarsky's Anti-Obama Animus on the Left Reaches Hysterical Proportions.

Ah, the "lesser of two evils" complaint. A cliche that, like all cliches, contains that sand of truth that nourishes and escorts a simple idea into hoary old age. The nugget of knowledge acknowledging, at the very least, that it is indeed evil that we are talking about here.