Saturday, January 30, 2016

Random Thoughts Part 18 (The All Politics Edition)

I try and avoid politics in this blog. Even now I try to avoid being overtly political, I'm just making observations that are hopefully too obvious to deny regardless of one's political views:

Government should not tell us how to live our lives, that’s the job of corporations and their 24 hour a day propaganda machine.

Unquestionably fire is a wonderful thing, one of the great discoveries of mankind. But to suggest that because it is good that we should not try to regulate it, to contain and control it, is absurd. How is the market any different? Shall we abandon human reason and desires to it, or can we not somehow limit its potential to burn?

More elections have been stolen by impeding voters than will ever be swung by people voting illegally.

Congressmen have become so busy raising money that they have been forced to rely on their donors to actually do the work of writing laws.

Capitalism gives us a choice of a thousand different bottled waters while it pees in the public well.

Responsible gun owners support responsible gun laws.

The flower of peace shall never blossom by being watered with blood, except, perhaps, the blood of martyrs.

Climate change deniers who point to every bit of snow as proof of their opinion are like alcoholics who point at every instance they have not misbehaved while drinking to prove they don’t have a problem.

We are all going to have to work together to solve our nation’s problems. Of course, there is a strain of political thought today, a very prevalent one, that says working together IS the problem.

Centuries ago, the Catholic Church had no answer to the theory that the earth was round, and so was forced to oppose the idea. Today, the religion of the free market has no answer for global warming, and so must likewise oppose what does not fit its world view.

When the last public school has closed and the last union disappeared, then the voices that now clamor for choice will fall silent. While there will be no choice left, they will say nothing, because it was never really about choice for them to begin with.

The more corporations take over our country, the louder will be the voices from the media that free enterprise is under attack from the government.

We are at a stage where we must learn to believe in Utopia…or 1984.

If you’re going to be a politician it helps to be a pathological liar.

If money equals free speech, then how can prostitution be illegal?

Why do governments put sanctions on countries that do bad things? Because corporations are soulless money suckers that would do business with the devil himself if it netted them a few bucks.

Beware of politicians who talk about working for the taxpayer. When they said the same thing in the South prior to the Civil War, they weren’t talking about working for those who actually did the work.

When our politicians talk about free trade, they’re not talking about the poor black man selling cigarettes on the street corner.

Of course the Confederate Flag is a symbol of intolerance and hatred, all flags are.

Conservatives have fallen on hard times. In the 70’s they callously told the poor, “Get a job!” Today they are forced to say, “Get a second job!”

Government is what big business wants it to be. To think to change society by going after government is like a bull going after a matador’s cape.

If you make credit too easily available you will have idiots driving around in vehicles the wise cannot afford. And in the end it will be the wise who will end up paying.

Is it too wild an assertion that elected officials should work for those people who pay their salaries instead of those who pay for their election campaigns?

Thursday, January 28, 2016

The New Art Movement

     We are overdue for an artist’s movement that will change the world. It may sound absurd to you but it is only because you have been sleepwalking through life of late, we have all been sleepwalking. It is we the artists who shape perception. We see the path and leave signs in our art for others to follow. But we have lost sight of this fact. We have allowed others to tell the stories, to paint the picture. We have allowed corporations and profiteers to take over. The world of late has been shaped by corporate artists for corporate interests. Hell, we’ve even become corporate artists ourselves, allowing ourselves to believe we do what we must to earn a paycheck.
     Even worse, we have become irrelevant. We have become domesticated, toothless, and fangless. We have forgotten the power we possess and quietly whisper half-truths and assertions we ourselves do not understand nor believe. We no longer even dare call ourselves artists because we fear what the name implies. We fear to take on such a bold undertaking and so call ourselves songwriters, novelists, painters, or filmmakers. But we are artists, all of us, all who seek to express beauty and truth. If we are not artists then we are propagandists. Even if we do not out and out lie, if we do not profess what we believe, if we do not reflect what we see, we are in the camp of the enemy by lulling the population into somnolence when we should be awakening them to their true condition.
     It is time once again for human art that expresses human values. Not money’s values, not machine values, not corporate values. When humans take back art they take back control of their path, their direction, their destiny.
     It must be done boldly, not with one eye behind us, fearing that it will not provide a living. The time has come for choice, the road has diverged and we must choose which path to take. In truth, the paths diverged long ago, and we have been stumbling halfheartedly through the tall grass. It is time to find the path those who have inspired us have laid clear for us.
     To crawl on the way we have been, meekly obeying our baser motives, denying all that is best of our humanity, or to embrace with both arms the visions we see at our best moments. Perhaps we have waited so long because we've allowed ourselves the belief that the other path, the path of doubt and timidity, offered at least a degree of security. Now we have walked it too far, can no longer deny the destruction and hopelessness that lies at the end of it.
     We must embrace our childish dreams with adult determination. It is not maturity to do otherwise, it is a refusal to develop ourselves into the most complete humans we can become, a refusal to grow into what we are capable of being.
     Crawl from your cribs and your playroom you call your man cave and stretch out into a larger existence than you have dared imagine. It can be frightening, yes, but it is worth the risk. The alternative is a life not lived. Put aside fear, and dare.
     Art is not a diversion, it is the summit of human understanding. Literature is not the construction of a beautiful though frail glittering glass ornament. It is the creation of a prism through which we are able to see the world we live in in a way we never have before. It is not the plaything of ivory tower intellectuals nor an escapist drug for bored housewives, but the raw, pulsing stuff of life, the essence, the soul.
     Art is a prism, not a microscope or telescope, which has us looking too finely or too far, but a prism to see what is before us, what is nearest and most relevant.
     You the artist shape how your audience perceives the world. You influence their behavior. It’s a big responsibility but you cannot avoid it. That is why you must try your utmost to give what you perceive to be the truth. To do otherwise, to produce work that is devoid of the deepest parts of you, is to tell others that the deepest part of you—and them—doesn’t matter. Is that the message you wish to convey?
     Charles Barkley once said that he was not a role model, but he was wrong. Once you have someone’s attention, you are a role model whether you like it or not. If you ask to be listened to, if you go out of your way to seek the attention of others, then you incur the responsibility that comes with that. You cannot merely entertain, it doesn’t work that way. You cannot offer only entertainment without message because that in itself sends a message, that life is a trivial game we play with no real purpose or moral aspects.
     The world is adrift on a rudderless ship, but you the artist are the rudder, you know it to be true. You ask for them to see through your eyes, to follow you as you weave your story. You are the navigator who sees the directions written in the stars. Do not tell the rest what they wish to hear but tell them what you have seen. Do not tell them for another instant what they want to hear when you know it’s not true, no matter how much approval or money you stand to lose.

     You are the artist. It is given to you to see what others do not or will not. It is given to you to speak of beauty and of truth. That should be enough. Indeed, there is no other reward that equals it.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

A Rich Man's Freedom

Freedom in capitalist society always remains about the same as it was in ancient Greek republics: Freedom for slave owners. -Vladimir Lenin

     Freedom for a rich man means something different than it does for the rest of us. Because to the truly wealthy freedom means not having to rely on anyone else for their happiness. This is an enviable kind of freedom to have, one that I’m sure we’d all enjoy if it was available to us. The only problem with that kind of freedom is that it costs a whole lot of money. In fact, if you want to be sure you have enough wealth that you’ll never have to rely on anyone else for your happiness, were talking tens of millions of dollars.
     Nevertheless, it is a freedom that is available to anyone. Potentially, at least. I mean, there is no law stating that certain people are not allowed to acquire that kind of money. Black, brown, white, man or woman, nobody is banned from being in that club once they have acquired the money. And the U.S. does provide the opportunity for advancement for anyone willing to put in the effort, there is no doubt about it. But even the most hard-working and shrewdest of us have little more than a lottery winner’s chance of acquiring the kind of money that would give us that kind of freedom. Realistically, only an elite few of us will ever get to experience that kind of freedom, I’m guessing somewhere near the one percent mark, a cutoff point that has been getting a fair degree of attention lately. And overwhelmingly, the most likely way one will gain that much money is by inheriting it. In that respect we have not moved far from the royalty we rebelled against in 1776.
     What I’m talking about with that kind of freedom—or more importantly, what the one percent are talking about when they talk about freedom—is the opportunity to make enough that you will be able to do whatever you want with your life. You won’t have to worry if there will be Medicare, welfare, or unemployment insurance. You won’t have to rely on scholarships for your children to attend college (though you’ll probably still take advantage of any opportunity to save a few bucks, after all the rich don’t get rich by letting opportunities to reduce costs slip by). You won’t have to worry about any of the social programs that are available to the rest of us. Therefore, you’re not likely to care about maintaining such programs: after all, programs like those cost money and they cost the rich more than they cost the poor.
     Even for those of us who don’t have that kind of money, it is a beautiful thing to dream about as we work hard to get ahead. But the problem is that it IS only a dream for the vast majority of us. And a dream is not freedom, it is not even the potential for freedom, it is a substitute for it. We are all free in our dreams, but we all have to wake up and go to work in the morning.
     Freedom can and does mean a lot of things. You can be free to do something or free from having to do something. You can have your freedom and still you can starve from a lack of food. Nelson Mandela was freer than most of us even when imprisoned because he refused to bow down to the powers that be. Freedom is quite a nebulous concept. But I’m not concerned with defining what freedom actually is or means, I’m only speaking to the rich man’s freedom.
     And when a capitalist—which is what most rich men are—talks about freedom, he means the freedom to make money. That’s what capitalists like to do, make money. That’s what makes them capitalists. So freedom for them is the pursuit of happiness (i.e. money). To them the sound the Liberty Bell makes is cha-ching.
     They want no limitations on what money can do. Kill them all and let the market sort them out is the philosophy. To impose any regulations on the market would be an attack on everything our Founding Fathers fought for. You see, because their one interest in life is money, they suppose that freedom to make money is the only thing worth living for. And because the rich are still prone to seeing things from their own point of view—just like the rest of us, only more so because their wealth validates their opinions—they assume that is what everyone else wants as well. That’s why they are willing to give what they love so much (money) to politicians, in order to preserve the freedom of the rich.
     The politicians who cater to the rich are quite fond of talking about freedom. They are always there to trumpet the value of liberty. Perhaps they were not the ones fighting for it on the battlefield, but they are quite eager to battle for your freedom in Washington D.C., that evil place where the enemy (government) resides.
     When a politician talks about your freedom, what he is really saying is “I’m not responsible for you.” Reagan talked about freedom and then released the mentally ill from the institutions they were housed in, leaving them homeless. He did it in the name of freedom. He gave them the opportunity to become capitalists.
     Most of us living in a capitalist society are no more capitalists than the average citizen of a communist nation was a communist. Most of us have lives beyond the pursuit of money. We don’t have a clearly defined ideology, we’re mostly just looking to get out of work on Friday afternoon. Most of us work to provide for our family and to be able to afford a few of life’s pleasures. Our needs are simple and we consider our lives worthwhile if we have some time off of work to spend with friends and family, to play a round of golf or do some fishing, play cards or go to the bar for a few, do a little travelling or work in the garden. We want to worship in the church of our choice or not at all if that is what we choose. There are a thousand different interests we all want to pursue, a thousand decisions we wish to make for ourselves, and for most of us that is what freedom means. And to achieve that kind of freedom, the kind of freedom that is available to everyone and not just a tiny minority, we have to work together in order to ensure our ability to attain it. Such freedom will not be won for the majority by each of us acquiring our own hoard of treasure, most of us will never be able to amass that much. We instead will have to trust our neighbors and our fellow citizens in order to guarantee the kind of security only society can provide, knowing that the security and hope for a better life of others is in our hands as well as ours is in theirs. We won’t get rich but we won’t end up homeless.
     That is the only kind of freedom that will ever be available to the vast majority of people. And when we look at it, there is ample material wealth to provide such freedom. It will never provide us all with outlandishly oversized toys, but we are adults after all, not children.

     It is a choice we will have to make, freedom for the rich or freedom for the many. The freedom for the many does impinge somewhat on the freedom of the rich, but so too does the freedom of the rich take from the freedom of the many. It is a freedom based on dominance, based on the notion that the only way we can truly be free is to have enough money to distance ourselves from our fellow man through gated communities, security systems, and armed guards. It is the kind of system that requires locks and bars and security codes to protect the free from those who dream of freedom. And that doesn’t sound like the kind of freedom our Founding Fathers would have wanted. 

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Perceptions And Paradigms

More thoughts from a forthcoming book which I believe I shall call The Book Of Ashavan. If you have read my novel Seven Stones you will know Ashavan was forever scribbling his thoughts in a notebook as he collected a series of stones that gave him a deeper understanding. Here then are some of his thoughts:

Please know that what I ask of you is to stare into the abyss to dig the depths of understanding. You have spent your life distracted. We all spend our lives distracted. We play in the shallows, barely daring to break the surface, let alone plumb the depths. We prefer to live as animals, afraid to look at ourselves as we are,terrified of using our human capacities to explore our world and ourselves.

The illusion is that if I am not one I must be the other. If I am not a bully I shall end up being bullied. If I do not make myself strong I shall be weak. By accepting that we must be one or the other we place ourselves upon the wheel of opposites, give it the energy to spin around. We believe ourselves to be in a battle with a fierce enemy, but if we were to see it truly we would see a dog chasing its own tail.

 There is a center, a reality that is at the heart of all illusion. The problem is that we as humans, we as physical entities, cannot reach it. In reaching towards it we invariably overshoot it only to find ourselves on the opposite side of where we began.
But as we better appreciate it for what it is, we feel it pulling us like planets that ever circle around a sun but keep their distance. The truth is a campfire around which we all sit. We feel its warmth but cannot get too near it. As a society we can only gather around it.
As individuals, ah, the reality is reachable because it exists within us always. We have only to be silent to hear it.

 Do not waste your time in trying to overthrow the dark towers of evil. Instead build up the lighthouses that can steer others to safety. Fighting evil is evil, because fighting is evil. 

People bow to the highest power they’re aware of, pray to the greatest god. Small minds worship primitive gods, devote themselves to small ideas. Corporations and companies benefit from the commitment of people not open enough to see their connectedness to the whole. Countries use people who cannot connect to a higher power as cannon fodder.

Embracing the path means always leaving all idols behind, always letting go. You never have it; it is always leaving. We cannot have, we can only be, cannot know we can only see.

See it as it is, not how it fits into your life story. As you grow towards adulthood and begin to have an understanding of life, the pieces that do not fit the narrative you have written tend to fall to the wayside. So much we perceived in childhood is forgotten because it is inconvenient.

10,000 years of custom and practice bring about a wisdom even if it is not understood. Customs demand respect even as they demand questioning.

Build on questions, do not build on answers. Answers are the death of thought.

Dawn comes, it always comes. As does spring, although not quite as predictably. So it is with culture. There is little doubt our culture is in the dark and cold night now, regardless of our technological achievements. But the farmer is busy even in the winter, preparing for the inevitable thaw. So too do we who mourn the death of what was prepare for the season of rebirth that is to come. We must now be planting the seeds from which great things will someday blossom. We must shine our light as if it were the first rays of a new sun.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

My First Novel, Free As An E-book

     An unknown author does what he has to do to get a little attention thrown his way, therefore I am offering my debut novel free in digital format. Actually, I don't mind giving it away. It is nice to know I have something to give to the world. I worked really hard on it, and while I feel I have learned a lot about writing since this initial endeavor, I am nonetheless very proud of The Amazing Morse. There is a lot of me in these pages, a lot of the things that have stuck with me in my life, the questions that needed asking and the observations that I felt compelled to make when it would have been easier to look the other way. And the influences. Sometimes it feels like the voices of the thousands who have influenced me ask that I keep their ideas and memories alive.I have humbly acquiesced.  Hopefully my love for the experiences I've had in life can make it across the pages into the reader.
     There's a lot of my childhood in this novel, too. Everyone has their unique childhood memories, but I hope at least to convey the magic I felt when I was young, hope that it rekindles the same feeling in you, the reader. If it does then I have done something worthwhile. If I am able to hold on to my childhood dreams and help you to hold on to yours, then magic truly does exist.

Here's the link for Kindle

Here's the link for Nook

The Amazing Morse is available elsewhere also. Leave a message for me if you want me to direct you to a digital copy. I like to think that there's something within it that is more than mere entertainment, something worth sharing. At least that was the intent.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Random Thoughts Part 17

It's been almost a month since I've done one of these:

Gratitude is not something we should feel burdened by, rather it is a reward to be attained. Gratitude is the sweetness we experience when we achieve true happiness, it is the realization of how much we have been given.

The second greatest crime we can commit in this life is to be something other than ourselves. The greatest crime is to not allow someone else to be who he or she was meant to be. To force someone to become something artificial, through fear or shame, is to take from them not only what belongs to them but a piece of their soul.

Politics should be dealt with between people and should leave politicians out of the discussion.

Good ideas survive violence, bad ideas require it.

I’m not saying I have all the answers, I’m simply saying I have a deeper level of misunderstanding than you.

The society that sacrifices virgins to the volcano god would see the absurdities of our culture more clearly than us.

Choosing a side is like closing one eye. It means that you cease to take in any information from one source and only accept that which is perceived by the other.

Don’t listen to those who say they have answers, listen to those who ask questions.

The problem with humans is we are clever enough to talk ourselves out of what our hearts know. No animal, unless treated cruelly, is capable of disbelieving in love or loyalty.

I am disappointed in the-man-I-was-yesterday, wildly optimistic about what the-man-I-will-be-tomorrow will accomplish, and very sympathetic to the-man-I-am-now’s need for a rest.

We spend the first part of our lives trying to convince others we are more grown up than we are and the second part trying to tell ourselves we are not as old as we are.

If we turn everything into a competition, such as we do with cooking contests, American Idol, etc., then we turn everything into pleasing authority, for there must always be authorities who judge.

I hold forth the hope that a day will soon come when we once again prize ideas over attitude, a day when we think brave thoughts, dare our own paths. Once again, the individual will think for himself and in that moment we will all be amazed that we more or less agree.

Technology will never solve man’s moral problems, it will only complicate them.

The ability to wield the tools technology has brought into being requires not greatness but humility.

Your inner voice is always there, willing to tell you what it is that will bring you the happiness you want. You merely have to turn everything else off and be a little patient.

Imagine a world where man’s moral evolution has caught up to his technological achievements.

Hell is merely a Purgatory we’ve resigned ourselves to, accepted. Hell is what we experience when we have given up hope.

Some people have a less inclusive sense of “we” than others.

Those who complain most loudly about unjust laws are most likely the once who induced society to write them in the first place.

You will never go broke underestimating the general public, but you will become morally bankrupt, which is much worse.

Talking Peace

…..Is it still okay to talk about peace or has it become unpatriotic to do so? Is refusal to follow our leaders blindly into whatever war they initiate showing disrespect to our fighting men and women? These are questions that I ask quite honestly and without any sarcasm intended. I ask these questions because I often feel that when I mention the word peace that I am somehow doing something controversial, that many feel I should probably keep silent and say nothing. Sure, it may be easy for you who are on the side of the majority, who are on the same side as the media. It is easier to speak your mind when you are on the side that has the support of all of the powerful institutions, all of the big money. Whether we care to admit it or not, there are trillions of dollars to be made by selling arms and virtually nothing to be gained by supporting peace.
…..So let me ask one more time, is it okay if I share my thoughts about peace, about peace being something that should be supported and worked towards by all of humanity?
…..I’ll admit, I’ve never been the biggest patriot. I’ve never wrapped myself up in a flag, was never one to unquestioningly obey orders. You see, when I was growing up, I was told that what was so special about my country was that it allowed you the opportunity to do things the way you wanted to do them. You were allowed to think what you wanted to think, do what you wanted to do. And I believed that, I really did. Not only did I believe that my country gave to me a freedom that no other country on earth gave, I also accepted the idea that freedom was a very special right. Not only a right, but a responsibility. I had a responsibility to act freely, to oppose any kind of oppression, whether it be overt oppression or the more hidden oppression that comes from public opinion. I considered it to be a sacred duty to think for myself and resist any temptation to conform, to think the way I was supposed to think.
…..Mind you, I didn’t just say whatever came into my mind. I never said or did things merely because I could. I’ve always been rather conservative when it came to speaking my mind. Because freedom was a sacred thing, I did not wish to abuse it. But I nurtured that idea of freedom, tried to cultivate inside myself the idea that whatever thoughts I grew inside of my own mind had a certain value precisely because they were not dictated to me by some outside force. I had a notion, given to me not only by the founding fathers of my country, not only by my religion, but also by everything I had read of the great thinkers of history. I had a notion that if we are given enough freedom, as well as a proper environment in which to grow, that we would in this fashion make the best possible world.

…..Is it a crime against our nation, our government, our fighting men and women, against freedom itself? Is it okay to talk about peace?

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Guns: A Buyer's Market

     Do you remember the fear leading up to January 1, 2000? There was the concern that since years were encoded in computers in only two digits that the flipover from 99 to 00 could cause chaos that could potentially shut down everything with a microchip in it. We were all a little bit nervous as we were ringing in the new year, the new millennium, that everything would go dark and we’d suddenly find ourselves back in the stone age. A lot of us stocked up on necessities, making sure there was a little extra food and water in the house.
     Some went overboard and bought generators, certain that society was going to break down. They were going to be the survivors, with all the Meals Ready to Eat, canned foods, water purification tablets, and whatever else survivalists store up in their special doomsday bunkers. And guns, lots of guns. Because if the world is falling apart, you want to make certain you don’t have to share with your unprepared neighbor. Darwin’s law, and all.
     All I can say is January 1st must have been a great time to be in the market for a generator. When Y2K failed to materialize, there were a whole lot of people sitting on top of a whole lot of equipment they had no need for. Prices for such items must have bottomed out overnight.
     We’re looking at a similar situation coming up. You see, for years, people have been certain that President Obama was going to come for their guns. And a good many people have been preparing for that day, buying all the guns and ammunition they could afford in order to ensure that they would have enough when the time came that buying and selling guns would be outlawed.
     And gun sales are at an all time high, gun rights advocates are quick to point out how many are being sold as if it was a vindication that their convictions are correct. Because, of course, if everybody’s doing it, it simply must be right. As long as you are going along with the flock then you’re doing the right thing, right?
     The problem is we’ve seen it all before, oh so many times. It’s called a stock bubble. In the run-up to 2008, people were investing like mad in the real estate market, frightened that they were going to lose out by not throwing their money at any available plot of dirt with a shack on it. Except that all of the sudden the market turned on them and left a load of people with a bank loan on property that was greater than what  that property was now worth. And before that there was a silver buy up, and a tulip buy up, etc. In each case, a lot of people lost their savings on a craze that somehow seemed to sweep over society. The mob isn’t always right, in fact a lot of people get rich betting against them.
     The thing is, all you need to get a mob excited is to place a few fire-breathing demagogues in front of them to play upon their fears. Like a Sunday morning preacher caught up in the spirit, there’s always some attention whore willing to play to an audience, to get beyond their intellects and go straight for the emotions. And their patriotism, they always go for patriotism. So people like Ted Nugent whip up a lot of testosterone and convince people the enemy is at the gates, that the government is coming for your guns, and that’s just the start. So you better stockpile as much ammunition as you can before they come for your wife and daughter next.
     But what happens when the SWAT team doesn’t break down your door in the middle of the night and take all your guns? What happens when President Obama leaves office and the corner gun store is still open for business? What happens when a Republican gets into office and makes even more liberal gun laws than we have now (I mean liberal as in more tolerant. That’s what the word means, look it up if you don’t believe me)?
     I’ll tell you what happens. It will be Y2K all over again. Perhaps it won’t be an immediate rush to sell, but it will happen, whether quickly or slowly. It will happen, and people will start to think they’ve overspent on guns. Not that there’s such a thing as owning too many guns, I know, but most of us have other bills to pay. Eventually the wife is going to complain that she has nowhere to store stuff because your guns are all over the house. Maybe the wife might divorce you and you’re going to be strapped for money. Or maybe your interests might change and you’ll be wanting more room for your Downton Abbey collectibles or perhaps your L Ron Hubbard book collection. Eventually you are going to realize you have more guns than you could possibly fire in a lifetime and not enough money to buy a case of Hamms. You might deny you’ve overbought, but I know what such denials are worth. I once had a kid who assured me he was never going to regret buying all those Pokemon cards, that some day they would be worth a fortune. It didn’t happen.
     So someday you’re going to need cash more than you need guns. What will you do then? You’ll want to sell them, but who is going to buy them? All of your buddies were thinking the same thing you were, and now most of them have more guns than they know what to do with. The corner gun shop will only give you pennies on the dollar for the guns you bought from them, just like the jeweler shop with your ex-wife’s engagement ring. It aint right, but what are you gonna do? At any rate you’ve got guns and no money and you want beer or that cute tea set or a Precious Moments figurine or what have you, and all of the responsible gun owners already have too many guns in their gun closets.
     There’s still a market for all of those guns, people who are willing to pay good money for what you have. There are a lot of creepy people in this world and a lot of them like guns. And after all, it’s just not right that the gun store is only willing to give you fifty bucks for a gun you paid $500 for. So if you sell it to a stranger who might sell it to someone you don’t know who might knock off a liquor store, it’s not you who’s to blame, is it? Because after all, guns don’t kill people, people do.
     And maybe you are responsible enough not to sell your guns to less than savory elements. Others will. If you are a gun owner, you know another gun owner like this, in fact you probably know a lot of them. And a buyer’s market means a lot of people are going to be able to get their hands on guns they probably shouldn’t have. Because all guns start out as legal guns, criminals don’t make their own, and we’ve been making them and buying them like they’re the new Beanie Babies. So if Obama doesn’t come for your guns the realistic scenario is that a lot of those guns now in the hands of “responsible” gun owners are going be sold to or stolen by criminals, because that’s how criminals get guns. And if that doesn’t scare you, it does me.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

The Doers And The Takers

…..There are doers in this world and there are takers. I don’t want to draw lines and divide us all, but somewhere is a line that divides those who take more than they give from those who give more then they take.
…..But let’s not obsess about it too much. The line that does divide the takers from the givers is not one that’s easy to see. It’s probably not one that we as human beings are capable of drawing, seeing as so many different factors go into what makes a person’s stay on this earth a net asset as opposed to a net liability. A housewife who has never worked a day in her life has done more than most if she has raised healthy, contributing children who are looking out for their fellow man, especially if she has found time to contribute to various volunteer activities most of us just don’t seem to find the time for. Again, that line is a difficult one to draw and I’m humble enough not to presume that I am capable of judging just where it should go. It’s the sort of thing wise people leave in God’s hands, whether they believe in Him or not.
…..What I can say, I think, is where it should not be drawn. Being human beings we like to come up with simplistic models in order to help us understand a complicated reality, and no more so with drawing the line between the doers and the takers. And the yardstick we use to measure between the two uses dollar bills instead of inches. You see, money is the final determiner of who contributes and who is a drain on society. At least to many people. At least to those who own the media and influence our legislators with healthy campaign donations. According to them, money is the measurement that never lies, it is the golden rod sent down from Heaven to measure the worth of a man. If you are paid a lot of money, you are worth more to society, such a thing is unquestionable according to the wisdom of today.
…..As I said, we humans like to find a quick and easy answer to everything, but life is never quick or easy unless you are both very fortunate and very dumb.
…..I appreciate those who hustle and make things happen. I freely admit that I am not always one of those people. There are those who are able to direct the energies of others in order to make possible what those people individually would never be able to accomplish. (If at any time during my argument you feel I am neglecting that fact, please reread this paragraph). Such people deserve adequate recognition and recompense.
…..But having said that, let us not confuse those who are capable of making a lot of money with those who have given more than they have taken. Assuredly there is a great deal of overlap between the two, but let us not mistake one group for the other. Let us not use the yardstick of money as the only measuring stick.
…..Because there are many people who earn their money in ways that do not benefit society. Oh, I know, the magic of the market states money equals value, but I learned the silliness of such a notion at about the same time as my dad gave me the lowdown on The Tooth Fairy, The Easter Bunny, and Santa. Sorry, Virginia, there is no such thing as magic.
…..You see, I’ve always liked good music and could never understand why the worst sort of musicians often made the most money. Just how much did Milli Vanilli make, anyhow? I appreciated really good writers and wondered why they were rarely the ones you could find on the bestsellers list. And don’t try and sell me the idea that in some way they’re making the world better by producing what they do, because I’m not buying it. Don’t tell me 50 Cent is worth the money he made, don’t tell me EL James has given more to society than Daniel Woodrell, because that insults my intelligence, insults the very concept of intelligence.
…..You don’t have to be jobless to be a taker. As a matter of fact, all you have to do is take more out than you put in. You say you work 60 hours a week? Good. But do you receive more for those sixty hours a week than the sweatshop worker who works the same amount of hours who made those clothes you’re wearing? Don’t tell me you work harder because I don’t buy it. You say you work smarter but is part of that intelligence in knowing how to extract more from those sweatshop workers?
…..The world is full of hardworking people who aren’t getting their share of the pie and yet the only complaints you seem to hear are from those with the biggest slices. Anyone whose belly is not bursting from their gluttony, anyone whose plate is not piled high with the fat of the labor of others, is called a taker. And worse, much worse. Spend five minutes on some media stations and you’ll hear those without adequate capital described as subhuman parasites that are dangers to society.
…..To those who equate wealth with worth, I say this: when you’re old and in a nursing home, perhaps then you will finally appreciate the worth of those who do the hard jobs for low wages. Maybe then you’ll see just how hard others work for their living, how much more they contribute to society than what they get in return. There are so many doing an honest day’s toil regardless of the inequality of the system. Maybe when your are old you will see how people are willing to clean up the accident you had in your pants and still manage to treat you with a measure of dignity.

…..Of course there are takers on the other end of the spectrum too, those who are doing as little as possible at dead end jobs to get whatever money they can. Poor takers are no better than rich takers, always looking out for themselves and trying to maximize profits. But to you who believe all people without blossoming stock portfolios are takers, who give nothing back to society, I can only hope that the ones who are changing your adult diaper are not the kind that will prove you wrong.