Sometimes, I wonder if Francis is reading my mind or something. I don’t understand how a curmudgeonly Yankee 2000 miles away can know me so well, but there it is. Today, in Who Has A Hold On You?, Francis brings up the matter of my own bad experience with mortgage debt, documented here. It’s one of those moments that stands out in my memory because when I bought that house, I was a reader of his earlier blog incarnation Eternity Road, wherein I argued that purchasing the property in question was good. Francis was patient with me at the time, and that was a seed that took a little while to sprout.
When things went bad, I had the opportunity to reflect on why Francis had been right all along. Debt is serious business, and Americans today make far too little of it. They do not understand the seriousness of the obligation, and enter into debt casually and with minimal reflection as to the risks and costs associated with it.
It was almost three years ago that I rid myself of that property. The moment I handed the keys to the bank, I was barely clinging on to middle class. In the years since, my income has tripled, my net worth has skyrocketed, and my general quality of life has improved immeasurably. The debt was holding me back that much. The time spent managing the rental property was turned over to productive contract work. Much of my savings was put to work in investments, a couple of which paid off well for me. I paid off all other debt and deliberately lowered my standard of living.
Now I have one remaining mortgage, which is at 50% loan-to-value, and for which I have sufficient assets to cover if I really had to dispense with it. I have one investment which, if it pays off as expected in the next few months, will rid me of that last remaining debt. Even if that doesn’t pan out, the balance will be gone in a year, two at the most, even without liquidating my other assets. I have no other debt whatsoever.
The difference is night and day. No consumer good, not even a house or a car, is worth the level of stress and obligation imposed by debt. Many people will say things like “don’t flush your money down the toilet with rent” or “I can totally make more in the market than the rate I’m paying on my car loan.” Technically, these statements are true. But most folks who have car loans do not have the liquid assets to cover the balance earning interest in the market. Many of those who don’t want to flush money down the toilet by renting end up screwed by a finicky real estate market. They lose much more. These are generally hollow excuses for justifying spending, not sound financial advice that is actually followed.
Since the insurance mess that led to the problem with my old house, I’ve become a lot more sensitive to how debt shackles you in ways you don’t fully comprehend when signing the note. You think you are signing on for a relatively fixed payment on a balance that, after the accrued period, will go down. As long as the payment is sufficiently affordable, everything is okay, right? No. Financial market manipulation, government regulation, and insurance schemes can conspire to lock you into the property and shackle you to a specific geographic region. No longer can you shop for higher paying jobs elsewhere. The albatross is stuck around your neck. The neighborhood can be destroyed by government insurance scams and prevent you from ridding yourself of it if you don’t have assets to cover the note balance. That is only one scenario that can play out – I’m sure many others exist.
Point is, if I had it to do over again, I wouldn’t accept any debt like that for anything less than an immediate life-saving emergency for either myself or my family.
I’m not saying debt is always bad. Sometimes playing the spread for investment purposes can be good, if you have the underlying assets to cover it. Sometimes, you would rather borrow money for something than liquidate a productive asset. And in a business, where personal liability is no longer a concern, debt can be considered as part of your overall risk strategy in the business itself. But in this, I consider debt to be rather like a chainsaw: a dangerous but often productive tool when not pointed at you personally. Never turn the chainsaw toward yourself if it can possibly be avoided. Certainly don’t do it because you want a bigger house or a nicer car. It’s not worth it.
Debt can be used as a tool to silence you. It can force compliance with the Overton Window. It can shackle you to a bad job, a lower income, and bad neighborhood.
I will reiterate: since eliminating most of my debt, my income has tripled. And yes, it’s directly related to that increase in income. The elimination of a monthly loss, combined with the need to manage it as a rental property and all that time that took, plus the general stress and the tie to a specific geographic area… ridding myself of the property was one of the best things I’ve ever done in my life. Without debt to hold me back, and with the increase in income, my net worth exploded.
I know not everyone had an experience as bad as mine, but even so consider how much debt might be holding you back. And ask yourself if the stuff is really worth it. Most of my furniture is stuff I purchased second hand for 1/10 the retail price. My car is much more modest than most at my income level, but it’s mine, I don’t owe anybody money on it. I don’t have a particularly nice TV, the latest video game consoles, or a lot of knick knacks and consumer crap. The house is pretty bare compared to most. I have a few luxuries, like a humidor full of some good cigars (that was a luxury I had to give up for a while, back then) and a liquor cabinet with some of my favorite whiskies. And that is good enough for me.
Most people in my neighborhood think my wife and I are rather poor, because we live much more modestly than most of them. A few months ago, one asked me what I made in a year, and when I told him he nearly spit out his beer, and asked why I hadn’t sold the house and moved into one of the new trendy neighborhoods down the street.
No thanks. I like how things have gone these last few years, and I’ve no desire to go back to the way I lived before. It’s a good feeling knowing that, even if your possessions are more modest, and you don’t have the latest trendy whatever, what you do have is yours. If folks think I’m a little poor, or at least not well off, that’s fine too. Substance matters more than appearance, anyway. It’s a nice way to live, and I hope other Americans find their way to it eventually, too.
It isn’t difficult to find people complaining about how “people of color” are treated in America today. Turn on the TV, and you’ll see highly-paid NFL players lamenting this. White liberals are constantly bashing “whiteness”, and attending lectures and classes wherein white people are variously termed devils, demons, oppressors, or some other thing. It is the same for men in general, as opposed to women.
Whites, and white men in particular, are generally seen as squares. They can’t dance, can’t sing, are uncool, lame, stupid, and as the famous movie title once explained for us, white men can’t jump. If white men do anything interesting or cool, it will be seen as cultural appropriation, denounced as racism, or become an Obama “you didn’t build that” situation. White people either have no culture (that link is interesting, because many white American liberals genuinely believe that they have no culture), or their culture is based primarily on white supremacy.
Here is a video in which we see how men are portrayed in TV commercials, versus how women are also portrayed:
Men are variously buffoons, abusers, stupid, sexist, racist, misogynistic and otherwise. Women, of course, are strong and empowered paragons of virtue. They are smarter, wiser, stronger, kinder, and just better human beings. TV commercials are a great way to see this bias laid out, because marketing departments usually want to stay as tightly within the Overton Window as possible. Political Incorrectness in commercials is a no-no. When it does happen, as with the infamous Pepsi protest commercial, you’ll see a lot of back peddling and excuse-making. Somebody will likely get fired for such mistakes. So don’t think this is an accident. Marketing departments think this is normal, acceptable, and even desirable, given present sociopolitical circumstances.
Here’s one that’s a little more subtle. Because using white people stereotypes as awkward buffoons is politically correct, but doing the same of other races is not (double standard), we have commercials like those in this compilation:
Now to be fair, both videos contain a lot of cherry-picking. But when attempting to cherry-pick the reverse, I find very few examples, and most of those are old and/or foreign. Certainly you can go back to the 80s, and to some extent the 90s, and see all races and both genders depicted as smart or stupid, good or evil. But in the late 90s, we see the trend begin toward only white men being stupid, evil, or lame.
Still, I searched Youtube for a long time to find what example I could. The most blatant anti-black ad I could find was actually produced in China. See below:
For the most part, Social Justice Warriors deny any such discrimination exists. Instead, white men are privileged. They have the world handed to them. It’s all so easy to be a white guy. But this doesn’t jibe with reality, where we are the butt of all jokes, the one group that it is still politically correct to shit on. Most of the purveyors of the Twitter #KillAllMen are still around. Most of my old conservative and libertarian friends on Twitter are gone, suspended for much lesser infractions than arguing for the genocide of half the human race. Somehow most the Nazi LARPers are still around – perhaps because they make white people look evil. I don’t know.
The thing is, as the narrator in the first video explains, making fun of white guys doesn’t bother me, per se. I can take it. It’s fine. What’s wrong here is that this is only permissible one way. You may use any ethnic slur you wish with regards to white people, but they are off limits for white people to use on any other race. “Nigger” is acceptable when used by a black man, but beyond the pale when used by a white man. Any number of slurs against white peoples are permissible. Cracker, guido, greaseball, mick, paddy, kraut, hillbilly, cousin-fucker, white trash, pollack, donkey, redneck. All of these are okay. Say “porch monkey” and prepare for the army of SJWs to cry out for your head. And let us not forget that a completely non-ethnic related use of “chink in the armor” was widely decried as racist, many times, including one where it was literally being used to describe a weakness in tank armor.
Here is an old ad (early 90s) that depicts a black man the same way white guys are generally portrayed today. SJWs would go apeshit if they saw this:
The merest whiff of a possibility that someone might be insulting a “person of color” is enough to warrant dismissal and denunciation. Meanwhile crapping on white guys is so pervasive and acceptable, it’s used to sell us consumer crap on the television. Imagine if they used a dumb black person to sell watermelon on TV today. The outcry could be heard from space. SJWs would be like William Shatner screaming in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan: RAAAAAAAAAAAAACISM! That’s more or less how it works with white guys.
Being a white man in today’s society means walking on eggshells constantly, every waking moment. The black coworker next to you could be cool, she could be like any other person. Or she could just be waiting for an excuse to cry racism to HR if you accidentally said something that could be interpreted as racist in some fashion. It creates a constant sense of tension when white folks interact with a person of another race.
Rather than just organically connecting with that person as used to be the case in America (I remember in the 80s, it was still largely like this), now you have to micromanage every interaction, be on constant lookout for possible narrative violations, microaggressions, and otherwise. It creates a demand for ideological perfection that poisons any interaction between people of different races.
I’m part Southern American English(-ish, I found a few Dutchmen from the 1700s in the woodpile recently), through my father’s side, and half Armenian through my mother’s side. My Cuban/Spanish in-laws and I trade barbs back and forth about Cubans, and gringos, and about the Kardashians being distant relatives of mine (I’d throw the Kardashians into a woodchipper if I could, but it IS funny). One of my closest friends is a full-blooded Irishman. The drunk jokes and potato jokes write themselves. I participate in a closed conservative science fiction community with a lot of Jewish folks. And yes, even Jew jokes are permissible. Every once in a while, they’ll even provide me with a Jewish joke I’ve never heard before.
Nobody cares. Nobody takes it so seriously. And so folks of differing backgrounds can laugh, drink together, and make friends.
But outside of closed-off communities and personal relationships, this never really happens anymore. Everybody is so uptight about race, gender, sexual preference, whatever. The interactions are poisoned before they even begin. And the so-called “Safe Spaces” just make things worse, because in such places the echo chambers reinforce one another, and the hate festers and spreads. The benign social divisions (Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, for example) are destroyed. Toxic ones like SJWs safe spaces and neo-segregation (except this time, keep whitey out) are erected in place of them.
It’s almost like these people can’t wait to hear something they can spin as racist/sexist/whatever, no matter whether or not it really is. They are excited and salivate over opportunities to divide people, to further poison interactions between people, and to deprive us all of things like humor, fun, and genuine friendship. Remember folks, if your friend is outed as a “racist” you must immediately purge him and say twenty Hail Anitas in recompense.
In the end, hating white people is not merely permissible, it is required. Even if you are white. No, especially if you are white. Hating men is also required, especially if you are a man.
Social Justice purports to be a movement of tolerance, love, and diversity. Me? Fuck them. I’ll go hang out with my people and make tasteless jokes we can all laugh at. SJWs? You go be boring and unoriginal, because at this point I think every funny white guy joke has already been done to death. It’s so cliche it’s a TV commercial, now.
Truly, I was hoping for some more insight into the motives and background of Stephen Paddock, the perpetrator of the Las Vegas shooting, but it appears even a week later, facts are thin on the ground and few definitive conclusions have been made. It was a very unusual attack, such that if a man wrote a movie script with such a character, I’d dismiss it as completely implausible. I do hope something is discovered soon, for the conspiracy theories have already multiplied and grown several new legs in the days since.
On a more positive note, Francis, the proprietor of Liberty’s Torch, has released a new book. as of last week. A few snippets from the book were released earlier and were quite intriguing. With all the crazy news we’ve heard lately about the demented state of Hollywood, from Joss Whedon’s ex-wife outing him as a philanderer who took advantage of women in his employ, to the current case of Harvey Weinstein, a story about sexual slavery and perversion (but with a genetic engineering twist) is most appropriate for the times. Give Innocents a try if you’re looking for an appropriate read. I’ll post a full review later, when I get out from under this mountain of work I’ve made for myself.
If you haven’t seen it already, give this Project Veritas video a watch. I don’t know how James O’Keefe manages to get all these folks to admit their agendas so openly, although in this video we hear a woman’s voice, so possibly he used the honeypot technique. But I’ll be damned if he isn’t doing some of God’s own work here. We get all sorts of connections here, between Comey, Antifa, and the New York Times. None of these are surprising, per se, but to hear them freely admitted is relatively new.
Lastly, in light of current events I wanted to bring some more attention to an older post of mine: RadFems, Cenobites, and the Lament Configuration. We are seeing Hollywood and politicians getting exposed for this kind of hypocritical behavior more often lately. I’m not entirely sure why – some have speculated that the power of old print media waning has deprived them of cover, others suspect it a sort of housecleaning on the Left, where the old Clintonistas are getting kicked out from under their protective umbrella in light of her loss to Trump. But whatever the reason, the contradictions are starting to see daylight.
The trouble is the hypocrisy of it all, the person who protests Nazis, then wants to be beaten by a Nazi, the person who says all sex is rape, and then fucks a dozen guys in a cocaine-fueled mega orgy.
If you want to experience these things, and admit it to yourself, that is one thing. But the next day, you are suddenly a neo-Puritan? The standard bearer for why every time a guy in front of his computer jerks off, he’s committing the equivalent of rape? You say you are anti-fascist, dressing in black and either pretending to be a Nazi, or wanting to be dominated by one?
And so the TV cameras come out, and you’re Cotton Mather, praising the Salem Witch Trials… while at night, you are the witch. Who is the real you? These people are so very confused.
Most of Leftist politics, at least from these people, is pure theater. During the day, they are paragons of proper behavior. Why, they are almost Puritan-like, save for the fact that they don’t worship any stupid sky wizards because they are Brights, or something. But at night, they are something else entirely – ruled by drugs and lust.
It’s about time people started noticing the hypocrisy and speaking of it openly.
Poverty is an issue Leftists badger the Right about incessantly. Poor people provide a convenient excuse for government control over your wallet. They need food, shelter, transportation, healthcare, and so on, and why shouldn’t these things be guaranteed by a friendly government? Why rely on the charity of individuals to do this, when it is possible that private charity will miss some people, that some of the poor will slip through the cracks and suffer? Only government can make this a mandate. Let us raise taxes, they say, or reduce funding for the warmongering military, to help our poor people! As one Leftist detractor explained, let’s do it for national pride, compassion, and empathy!
The buzzwords sound great, of course. But they are empty platitudes. You cannot eat compassion, nor will empathy put a roof over your head or supply you with good, inexpensive healthcare. And as we give government our money to do these things for us (or, rather, as it is taken from us), be advised that the bureaucrats and politicians will take their slice of the action. They are the middlemen, and naturally a middleman wants his share of the spoils.
Government inefficiencies aside, many of those who are supported by government anti-poverty programs are, essentially, lifers. They are mired in permanent poverty, never to escape. What percentage, exactly? Well, it’s difficult to tell. But those receiving government benefits in the 37-48 month category (the longest period I could find concrete stats for) stands at around 43% of those on government assistance.
In browsing around these statistics this morning, I came across a Huffington Post article that was using essentially the same data (they differed by a couple percentage points here and there, but were clearly using a similar source). Their conclusion was that a majority of people used welfare benefits of varying types for only short periods of time. This was technically true (after all, 43% is a minority). But nonetheless, we are not far from that magic 50% marker.
In any event, for our purposes 43% of welfare recipients will do. These are people who are essentially in a state of permanent poverty. There are probably some who are too proud to take government benefits for long, too, or who do not qualify for one reason or another. So the actual number of those in permanent poverty is probably somewhat higher than that number would indicate.
Thing is most of us, myself included, have probably experienced some form of temporary poverty. For me, this came during the dot-com bust in 2001, when getting work as a web developer was essentially impossible. This happened to a lot of my friends in the industry, too. Those were tough times for folks in my line of work. I took a job as a Costco stocker for a time. Some friends took various odd jobs, or moved back in with family.
When talking to friends, family, and some of my readers here at The Declination, I can safely say that most of us have experienced temporary poverty. When I was born, my father was broke and just barely struggling to keep the lights on and food on the table. But that, too, was temporary. My wife’s family came from Cuba with nothing but the clothes on their backs, all that Castro permitted them to take with them. But their poverty was temporary, also. My wife’s grandfather quickly landed a job (all physical labor, but that was enough) and he managed to claw his way out of poverty. Her father managed to prosper, working his way up from a minimum wage pharmacy worker job to part-owner in a lucrative pharmacy business.
What is the difference between those who fall into poverty, for whatever reason, and those who stay there?
There is a mindset I’ve seen with people who are stuck in permanent poverty. A family friend, who for sake of anonymity I will call Harry, exemplifies the permanent poverty situation quite well. Harry was a general contractor, and had a set of skills that ought to have made him permanently well off. But when he’d land a good contract, and score some hefty profit, he would quickly burn through money. Harry’s house would be filled with toys, from a new lifted F-150, to boats, RVs, motorcycles, whatever. And then, a year or two later, after going through several lean months, the possessions would disappear one at a time, sold or repossessed by the bank.
Feeling sorry for Harry, my father helped him score a job worth a substantial amount of money. Half was to be paid upfront, the remainder upon completion of the job. But Harry spent the advance too quickly, burning through it at the bars and the strip clubs, and found he did not have enough money leftover to buy all the supplies needed to finish the work. The broken contract cost him his contractor’s license, and he found himself out of work. Things continued to go downhill after that, and he spent several months in jail on some unrelated charge.
Harry has since been released, and is back working in construction, but now as a regular laborer. His lucrative career as a general contractor is gone forever. And even still, after all this, he quickly spends his money on booze, women, and toys, and finds himself in financial pickles. So far as I know, Harry has never taken a dime of welfare money, but he is still stuck in permanent poverty. And all the help my father and I could give him was for naught.
The thing is, you could give Harry a million dollars, and it would soon vanish. Just as you could give some folks on welfare piles of money, and in the long run it would do them no good. The money would not improve their lot, but if taken out of your paycheck, it could worsen your lot. That isn’t to say money can’t help a poor man at all. Those who are in temporary poverty may very well be helped by a timely infusion of cash, or some food, shelter, or otherwise.
Differentiating between the temporarily impoverished and the permanently impoverished is a mission we’ve largely outsourced to the government, and I consider that a mistake. The government is ill-equipped to do this. Some of the temporarily impoverished may be turned away, and many of the permanently impoverished may supplied with money and/or benefits that are, essentially, wasted. Take this story, confirmed by Snopes, of a man using his girlfriend’s EBT card to buy steak and lobster. He then resold the food for cash, 50% of the value of the original food. He was caught and arrested for fraud; for reselling the food and using someone else’s benefits. But this sort of thing goes on all the time. And sometimes the EBT benefits are sold more directly. And let us not forget the FEMA cards after Katrina, often being used for strip clubs and booze, not unlike what Harry did with his profits. Some got caught. I suspect many more got away with it.
The point is, some of these folks have a mindset that mires them in permanent poverty. Even given the food, they will sell the food at a discount and use it for something else. Given the welfare cash to pay bills, they will spend the money on something else. Give them millions, and they will soon be broke again. Such aid only truly improves the lot of the temporarily impoverished. And even then, I’ve never taken such benefits, even when temporarily impoverished, and neither have most folks I know. Most of the time, we can get out of temporary poverty with some bootstrapping and some assistance from family and friends.
How do you change the mindset of the permanently impoverished? I don’t know. What I do know is that if the purpose of government welfare spending is to lift them out of this state, it’s not going to work. It may help the temporarily impoverished, though I’d argue we could do that more efficiently via private means. But the permanently poor are going to stay that way, short of changing their mindset. I’ve spoken at length on the possibility that pain is a good teacher; that maybe making people too comfortable in poverty (the regularity and guarantee of government assistance) may work against learning the habits and mindset necessary to escape poverty. But Harry’s example is also instructive, he’s had every incentive in the world to change his behavior, and he never did. Some people may be beyond our help. It’s an unpleasant thing to contemplate, but it may nonetheless be true.
The question is, if some people are beyond our help, if lifting them out of poverty is beyond our means, what is our responsibility to them? Do we owe the government an ever-increasing slice of our earnings to fail to help them? Where does our obligation end? To those in power, of course, middlemen taking their slice of the action, the answer is that the obligation never ends, and is an essentially unlimited mandate.
This morning, I was parsing through the usual suspects, and noticed a back link to Right as Usual. The author, Linda Fox, is also a contributor for Liberty’s Torch, and so it piqued my interest. Linda reiterates the dangers of debt:
The Declination has an old post addressing this, from January, 2016. Such a long time ago.
How might we survive, both individually and as a nation? Hunker down, pay off debt, and detach yourself as much as you can from dependency.
Failing that, try to diversify your income sources – yes, that means part-time work, freelance work, and under-the-table work/bartering.
If the powerful can control whether or not you have access to money/income/daily needs, they own you. The peasant, who does NOT control his income, is most at risk.
If you are familiar with the concept of the Overton Window, you understand that mainstream political discourse occurs within certain boundaries. For instance, if a man started espousing Nazi-like sentiments, like throwing Jewish folks into concentration camps, he would be rightly disparaged and ostracized for them.
A relatively wide Overton Window that encompasses a wide variety of views, but omits the utterly evil and detestable, is generally desirable. It is how free speech is kept alive, while evil is still recognized and treated as such. But, like anything, you have to ask yourself: who gets to decide what is evil? Most reasonable people would probably agree that Nazis are evil. But SJWs have a habit of labeling anyone they don’t agree with as a Nazi or a fascist. That Nazism and Fascism are not, strictly speaking, the same things doesn’t stop them from using the ideologies as synonyms. Fascist leader Francisco Franco, for instance, may have been a ruthless dictator, but he did not have the racial ideology or genocidal inclinations of the Nazis. Either way, however, no matter the label they choose, they wish such labeling to immediately expel you from polite discourse.
All of this is very important, because for the moment the Overton Window is still controlled by the mainstream media, and to some extent the policing and censorship policies of social media. Remember that Facebook curators were caught suppressing conservative news stories. Overt and covert manipulation of the Overton Window is one of the Left’s most important tactics.
But what if a man decides to exit the Overton Window and accept social penalty in the name of what he believes is true? What stops him from doing it, if he is prepared to be called names and otherwise taunted for it?
But there is something else that is less commonly understood, and that is the relationship between debt and political censorship. It is at the very center of what the elitists are trying to do. Their SJW patsies are, of course, the designated attack dogs.
Consider my own recent case. Yes, I apologize for harping on it excessively, but I do prefer to use practical examples where possible. So someone doxxes you and starts making threats to your livelihood. They will tell your clients, or employer, or friends, family, etc… that you are a big meanie poopy-head Republican, and you say things they don’t like. Whatever.
Point is, if you are debt free, your expenses will be low. You will have to eat, and pay the usual bills. But these can be managed. You can eat a little less, conserve electricity and water, etc… They are at least partially in your control. But what about a car payment? What about a mortgage? What about the credit card payments and installment loans?
That’s a very different kettle of fish. You might be able to juggle some things around for awhile by being creative. But soon you are facing a wall which cannot be moved. You will lose your home, car, possessions and ruin your credit such that you cannot get these things again for a long time. Your family could be ruined with comparative ease.
How quickly would the average person correct their wrongthink and toe the party line? Or, at the very least, self-moderate their own positions to stay within the increasingly-narrow Overton window of the Left? Indeed, this has consistently been one of the most powerful weapons in the SJW arsenal, because they naturally subvert institutions and HR departments to put their men (or transsexual otherkin) into these positions. So help will not be forthcoming from these avenues. You cannot appeal, because the Court of Public Opinion answers to no higher court. And defending yourself is proof of guilt.
You are labeled as a Nazi, or a fascist, and now you are beyond the pale. Any defense is proof of guilt. Only by espousing Leftist social policy can you be freed of the label. If you don’t, they can tattle on you to your employer. They can play a game like they did with Brendan Eich and force your resignation through a PR campaign. I remember seeing a site that was dedicated to “getting racists fired”. I won’t link to it here for obvious reasons.
Naturally, since such courts of public opinion have no legal standing, they also don’t follow the presumption of innocence or allow for the possibility of defense.
Now any debt you are carrying becomes an albatross around your neck. If you have no debt, and live well within your means, the SJWs can damage you. But they can’t destroy you, they can’t force ideological compliance with their dictates. Extensive debt forces a man to keep his opinions within the Overton Window. And then, using media and social pressure, the window can be moved to the position the Left desires, dragging you along with it (perhaps kicking and screaming, but dragged nonetheless).
Whether the promotion of debt was designed to do this, or whether the Left merely took advantage of circumstances, I can’t say. But regardless of whether or not this was intentional, it has happened. Avoiding debt and living within your means is a way to avoid a sort of new variant of slavery.
It is a consensual slavery, mind you, but that is neither new nor unique. In ancient times, selling yourself into slavery was a common practice, and carried with it certain benefits. A slave was likely to be fed and cared for as valuable property, and a freeman who could not feed himself or his family might have no other choice. It is understandable that some would do this, even if very unfortunate.
But today it is different. Most of the people who are selling themselves into slavery are doing so for frivolities they don’t really need, for nicer cars or fancy furniture, for more house than they need, or for vacations to exotic destinations. It is not merely unfortunate, it is stupid. Folks need to take debt a lot more seriously, and minimize it where possible.
As in ancient times, there may have been circumstances where debt was unavoidable, or the consensual slavery was preferable to the alternatives. But give the decision the gravity it deserves. Do not go into it lightly, and know what the real cost is. It’s not just the interest you pay. It’s not just the payments from your future labor, it’s also the right to say what you believe.
A reader of The Declination by the alias of fslenentine had this to say on the matter of Padraig and others like him.
The question of Padraig’s intellectual insecurity is more consequential than is generally realized.
Today, intelligence is increasingly the most important attribute one can possess. No longer are there multiple avenues to social worth, just the one.
The problem is that most people aren’t smart enough to be special, and two thirds of the population is average to below average.
This has produced a culture of lying. Everyone has to pretend to be smart, and we all have to pretend that they are so in order to avoid being called out for our own banal mediocrity. After all, the average IQ in this country is 98 but the average self-reported IQ is 118, more than a full standard deviation away.
The internet makes it incredibly easy to give the superficial appearance of intelligence. Consider the old tactic of “link-storming” in which someone would just post, in place of an actual argument, links upon links which often only have passing relevance.
The end result of this is that most everyone is pretending to be smarter than they are, and thus live lives of deceit. They are wracked with insecurity and it manifests in malice.
Psychologically speaking, they’re angry and resentful at the world because they aren’t as special as they’ve been told and/or imagine themselves to be.
I call it the “American Idol” problem in which a competent but unspectacular singer is turned down and leaves in utter shock, having never considered that he/she might not be good enough. After all, everyone told them how great they were.
People who live fraudulent lives are prone to resentfulness and then true malice.
I suspect that this has much to do with the embrace of postmodern marxism.
Universities, in a classic sense, challenge students with truly difficult material from truly remarkable minds. The brutal truth is that most people aren’t intellectually equipped to deal with Kant, Aquinas, Jung, and so on.
Bringing in more students means lowering the bar, intellectually speaking (and please, this is no comment on gender or race because that’s the first place Padraig will go. It’s a pure numbers game), not just for students but teachers.
Now we have generations of failed intellectuals with delusions of grandeur and wracked with resentment, unable to solve the immensely complex problems that society presents. As such, they retreat into pseudo-intellectualism, i.e. postmodernism.
It demands no rigor and affords them the ability to create what is the equivalent of fan theories about movies. Clever, fun, but meaningless. More so, they bury it in opacity. They abhor clarity for it exposes the vacuity of their efforts.
Increasingly mediocre teachers combined with even more increasingly mediocre students means a ripe environment for pseudo-intellectualism.
This affliction affects the slightly above average person the most because they’re smart enough to know that they’re above average, but not smart enough to be insightful or special. Thus, what’s their intelligence worth? To them it should entitle them to a place of status. Instead it just means that they can be a mid-level accountant or marketing manager. That’s simply not enough. They expected more. They were promised more. Now they feel angry and betrayed which causes them to lash out.
My rambling point is this: we overvalue pure intelligence and thus we create a situation in which many, many people have to pretend to be smarter than they are, and that produces psychological resentment, which is the foundation of malice.
Enter Padraig. He’s not here to discuss, which is what intelligent people generally do. They recognize the limits of their intellect and enjoy discussing with people who see the world differently. He’s not here for that. He’s not even here to lecture. He’s not even here to show-off his superior mind. He’s here to establish his bona fides as a true intellectual by attacking. That’s all he has: malice.
The all-too obvious problem is that he’s not particularly impressive. I don’t think he’s stupid but he seems perfectly average to slightly-above average. He offers no original thoughts of substance and I think it’s because he doesn’t have any, and he knows it, which is why he’s here, attacking a small blog.
Dystopic is, in his mind, an easy target. He wouldn’t risk going after someone who’s a heavyweight. Hell, I doubt he’d even risk attacking a minor leaguer like Ben Shapiro. He has no intellectual heft and he knows it. He just thinks Dystopic and his viewers don’t either.
This is a very important concept to understand. I’ve said for a long time that many Lefties are motivated by a desire to appear intelligent and moral, to be superior to those knuckle-dragging, hateful Republicans, or whatever the Leftist boogeyman of the day might be.
The question is why?
Fslenentine answered it succinctly. I frequently tell people here that I’m just a regular guy trying to work through the political ratfuck of our age. But the fact is, I could have been a Padraig myself, were circumstances a little different. I recognize in him certain character flaws that I once expressed, though not quite so obviously. Two things conspired to prevent that. First off, while I was probably the smartest kid in my high school (and it was not small), when I began writing software, I realized that much smarter men existed. I soon had the notion that I was uniquely clever or special beaten out of my skull.
Second, and perhaps most importantly, I began gaining recognition for genuine intellectual accomplishments. Nothing too big, nothing that would make me famous or land me a chapter in the history books, but real nonetheless. I started seeing my work out in the world – you’ve probably seen it too, though you’d never know it. And once you accomplish something real and meaningful like that, the sort of false ego-stroking you get from winning Internet debates on meaningless shit feels hollow and fake.
Nonetheless, it’s easy to become a cruel, angry person when reality doesn’t kiss your ass the same way all the fawning idiots of your youth did. I don’t blame a man for going through that period. But I do blame him for never exiting it.
Our resident Lefty troll has spent the better part of the last few days lecturing my readers on their moral inferiority. He offers no solutions, no costs, no benefits, and is quite vague on matters of policy. Rather, he hopes to play the Alinsky handbook out and see where it takes him. But in the process, he has exposed a facet of Weaponized Empathy that bears elaboration.
A few months ago, a friend of mine suffered some serious legal trouble. He was innocent of the charges levied against him, and his lawyer was confident of victory in court. Indeed, the charges were immediately lowered, and just last night I heard that his lawyer had secured evidence that ought to clear him. But, as is often the case, the punishment is the process. My friend’s legal fees were mounting. He does pretty well for himself, but while the court case was pending, his employer placed him on leave. So he was eating into savings very quickly. Things were looking grim.
A few of us got together and did some crowdfunding for him on social media. We secured enough money to pay his legal fees through small, private donations. It was enough to allow his savings to cover his day-to-day costs, and keep him afloat in what would otherwise be a very trying time. And we did so with small donations. $25 here, $50 there. It all adds up. So at no great cost to ourselves, we willingly helped him, and it worked.
Legal fees being about as ridiculous of an albatross as healthcare, one wonders why this approach isn’t championed by the morally-enlightened paragons of the political Left. With the rise of the Internet, and the power of mass media, it seems there is a great missed opportunity. When a leftist browbeats you with some sob story, and uses it as evidence as to why we need some government program, why we need higher taxes, ask him about this.
The tone of the article would have you believe that the landlord is a heartless, cruel company (or person). Why, for a mere $173, they charged this woman late fees, and now she can’t catch up! More subtly, the article is asking the question of why this woman should even have to pay rent at all. Clearly, the government should pay all of her housing expenses (it only pays most of them now). There is even a picture of the woman in her wheelchair next to her son, trying to waive down a bus to take them to the courthouse. Think about that, a reporter who knows this woman’s story is right there taking the picture, seeing this woman suffer, and can’t even be bothered to give her a ride. But the staff photographer has plenty of time for some quick Weaponized Empathy photo ops.
Yet if $173 is a mere trivial nothing, and the late fees so unimportant that the landlord should be expected to waive them away because of media outrage, where is the gofundme for this woman? And why have the journalists who exposed this terrible case not donated a few dollars themselves? You could circulate that crowdfunding link around the office of The Dallas Morning News and pay this woman’s bills for an entire year with what these people spend individually on a cup of overpriced Starbucks coffee every morning.
Some time ago, I read an article (which I can’t find at the moment – if my readers know, please reply in the comments) where some old woman wound up dying because she could not afford her electric bill. The electricity wound up getting shut off, and she froze to death in the winter. Naturally, everyone was angry at the utility company for shutting off her power. Why, the whole community was outraged at the greed of such a terrible company.
Yet where were these outraged people when she was still alive? Could they not cobble together a few dollars each to pay her bill, to see her through the rough times? No, chances are they didn’t even notice she existed. And if they did, they paid her no mind. She wasn’t their problem. She was somebody else’s problem. And when she died, they were shamed, because they let it happen. The utility company, who likely had no idea what was going on (only that they weren’t being paid), became the scapegoat for their shame, for their lack of caring for their fellow man.
The solution for such people is to outsource the responsibility of caring to someone else, namely the government. Out of sight, out of mind. They never have to mix it up with folks living at the edge. They don’t even have to bother with the time it takes to go to a gofundme link and donate a few dollars. Let the government handle it all, they say. And they account themselves our moral superiors because of this.
To them, charity is some distant, impersonal thing. Some money is taken out of their paycheck every month. Where it goes, nobody knows. But the leftist has done his duty, you see. He doesn’t have to think about his fellow man anymore. Indeed, he could write a story about a poor woman in his own community who needs a mere $173, and use his podium to lecture the public that someone else ought to cough up that money.
When government charity fails, when it breaks the human spirit, when it destroys entire communities, leftists can always point to the mean old Republicans and blame us for the suffering. All because they can’t cope with the shame that, when you get right down to it, they did nothing. All they did was watch the IRS come and take some portion of their paycheck. They did the easiest thing in the world: they threw some money at a problem and hoped that it would go away and trouble them no more.
Usually, when you encounter an item with no definitive price tag, it is because the item is significantly overpriced. When a customer must ask for the price, the salesman can estimate wealth, gullibility, and many other things before finding a way to screw the customer. It also provides an opportunity to sell the customer, rather than merely counting on the item and its price to convince the buyer.
In simple terms, forcing another to be open about his wants, and being closed off on your own, gives a man a decided bargaining advantage.
Lately, we’ve seen this at work with Antifa, BLM, #TheResistance, and other assorted left-wing groups. Grievances are produced, from slavery, to the plight of Native Americans, to American foreign adventures in the Middle East. Being honest with ourselves, some of these grievances have at least a historical merit to them. But for such leftist groups, the price for burying the grievance is obfuscated behind buzzwords and jargon. We must dismantle the cisheteropatriarchy, we must check our privilege, we must become a positive advocate for change. Everything from microaggressions to cultural appropriation are cited as examples of these things.
But I ask, what change?
Allow me to step into the shoes of one of Babylon 5’s villains, Mr. Morden, and ask the question: “what do you want?”
Well, leftists? What do you want? What is your price for putting away identity politics and your incessant portrayals of right-wing racism, sexism, homophobia, and islamophobia? These portrayals have silenced some of us, enraged others, and sent many conservatives running for the political closet. And once there, they still voted right-wing. Thus we now have one Donald J. Trump, despite all predictions to the contrary.
Some of us, like the esteemed Francis at Liberty’s Torch,have made peace with the incessant accusations and said something to the effect of “if you think that means I’m a racist then fine, I’m a racist. Now what?” Others, like myself, maintain that the portrayal of racism as the greatest of all evils is a mistake, dredged up because of the relative historical freshness of Nazi evil, and America’s own struggles with slavery. These evils most Americans are familiar with, but judging from the proliferation of Che Guevara t-shirts, the evils of Communism are less well understood.
And so racism becomes the number one evil in America, a sort of 21st century red scare, except there are even fewer to play the part of the reds (and many more actual reds).
All of that is immaterial, however. What is the end goal of the leftist? What does he want? What does his ideal America (or world, for those of a globalist persuasion) look like? Who gets to live there? What becomes of us and others who do not fit this progressive vision of the future?
When asked, leftists are often quite silent on the price. Just today, one explained that I should google the matter (never mind that I’ve exhausted google as a resource for this) because she didn’t want to “perform free emotional labor” on my behalf. Naming the price is now something that, in itself, costs money. Imagine if you asked the salesman what the price of a thing was, and he replied “you have to pay me to find out.”
Like the little psychological trick of decreasing sticker shock with slick salesmanship, the left understands that by hiding the price, they increase the possibility of ripping off some gullible idiot. Namely, us. And it works well enough on some. Enough that the thought of being accused of racism or prejudice is enough to elicit outright fear in many, not just an answer to the question.
Once an accusation of racism is leveled, very little is sufficient to dismiss it. Do you have many friends of the race in question? RationalWiki tells you that this is insufficient (after all, Hitler liked one Jew). You’re still a racist. What if, instead, you married a black woman, loved her and her family, and had a child with her? Well, you’re still a racist, because as some Puppy-kickers explained on Facebook (they have since deleted the posts in question, but I saved a screenshot, and Brad Torgersen can confirm it), black pussy doesn’t mean you aren’t racist. The Puppy-kickers even made this into a t-shirt. This argument was recently resurrected on Twitter by Talib Kweli Greene where he explained that if you marry an Indian woman, you’re still a racist, you just like Indian pussy.
So your friends, family, and relationships are dismissed. The accusation still stands. And remember, you are guilty unless proven innocent. And to prove your innocence, you must embrace leftist politics. That is the only accepted coin. And even by doing that, you would still have to abase yourself thoroughly and completely. Meanwhile, a woman who murdered her own 4 year old son applied to Harvard, and was denied. Naturally, this had something to do with racism, according to Vox.com. Of course it has little or nothing to do with being a convicted murderer of a child.
Ultimately, the choice is this: convert to leftism, or risk being tarred as a racist with no possible way to prove otherwise, because you are guilty until proven innocent, and all evidence except leftist political sentiments will be summarily dismissed as insufficient.
Meanwhile, a reasonable man might be inclined to ask the price of buying this weapon off the left. What would it take for them to put it away?
Their rants and raves on this matter are difficult to parse. Ta-Nehisi Coates penned a long piece in support of reparations, and when I first read it I expected a concrete answer to the question “what do you want?” Instead, we were treated to a historical lecture on the plight of blacks in America. We already knew this. Everybody knows about slavery, Jim Crow, and discrimination against blacks. How can anyone not know? The media has been bombarding us with these things for as long as I’ve been alive. And if the media wasn’t, BLM sure has been making a rather more raw effort at doing so. We get it. These things happened, and blacks got a raw deal.
What I want is a price. What are the demands? What do they really want?
I suspect the reason the demands aren’t named is that the sticker shock is likely to be quite mighty. I recall reading some time ago (and I can’t remember where presently, but if any of my readers know, please reply in the comments) that one black leader suggested a one-time payoff of $1 million to each black citizen. That bill would come out to approximately $36 trillion, approximately double the GDP of the United States, and likely an impossible sum. But to be honest, I suspect the left’s real demands would be much more expensive, and involve something much more Marxist than a massive one-time payment. The left would probably want to ensure the racist right-wingers never got to express their racism again, and would need to be actively suppressed. Somebody has to be the kulaks when things go bad, after all.
In the end, it’s just like Barack Obama’s campaign of hope and change. What change? How much will it cost? Hopeful for whom? These are questions the left leaves unanswered. There are never any (accurate) price tags on their merchandise. And so, I’ve no interest in buying.
Read the whole thing, it’s a very important point to understand. The motive is always power. If casting Rightists as Nazis will help them obtain power, they will do it. If casting them as people who like cats will do likewise, they will do that too. The point is to find a lever which moves you; to find something that that will get under your skin and force you to obey them. Francis references this point in a quote from the book:
‘You are ruling over us for our own good,’ he said feebly. ’You believe that human beings are not fit to govern themselves, and therefore-’
He started and almost cried out. A pang of pain had shot through his body. O’Brien had pushed the lever of the dial up to thirty-five.
‘That was stupid, Winston, stupid!’ he said. ‘You should know better than to say a thing like that.’
He pulled the lever back and continued:
‘Now I will tell you the answer to my question. It is this. The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others ; we are interested solely in power. Not wealth or luxury or long life or happiness: only power, pure power.
O’Brien has the virtue of honesty in this scene, at least. But then, he is in a position where the truth will actually serve better than the lie, at least for that one moment. He will lie as readily, if not more so, if the lie will serve his purpose. We are currently in a time when tyrants wish to justify their rule over us in terms of our own good. We are not wise enough, you see, to govern ourselves. More and more functions and decisions must be made by the Party.
But the time will come when the O’Briens of the world will be more truthful about it. It is about power, no more, no less. Trouble is, this will only be admitted when the usefulness of the existing weapon has expired. When saying that we are governed by our supposed betters, for our own good, no longer produces a benefit, the claim will be discarded. By the time this truth is admitted, it will likely be too late to do anything about it.
When SJWs discuss oppressive power systems, they are really lamenting the fact that they have not been able to fully impose such systems of power themselves. If and when they do, the mask will come off readily.
There have, however, been a few radical Leftists who have admitted these things semi-openly when it suited their purposes. Saul Alinsky is a great example. Reading his Rules for Radicals exposes a man for whom causes are merely weapons in the pursuit of power, not articles of genuine belief. Now, true believers do exist, of course. And one difficulty a Rightist has today is separating the true believers from the power seekers. One is to be pitied, perhaps. Not the other.
As Francis points out, however, this pity of the true believer can actually be a weapon, too. Our desire to be nice to such people is used against us by the power seekers behind them. Useful idiots form a sort of ideological human shield to protect tyrants. The practice has a long history in physical warfare. Place innocents in a target likely to be bombed, and then accuse your enemy of killing civilians. This helps a tyrant gain a moral high ground position in the eyes of the mass media. We should not be surprised that in politics, a similar tactic is used.
But it is important to understand who you are dealing with, regardless. A deceiver, or the deceived? Some folks may have noticed the arrival of new Leftist detractor in the comments section of The Declination, and might be wondering why I am permitting him to air his inconsistent spew. They come from time-to-time of course. And I continue to maintain that if you do not have enemies, you’re doing something terribly wrong. But it is interesting practice in spotting the difference between the deceiver and the deceived. It is tough to say with certainty yet, but I lean toward the former in his case.
The difference is in directing your own attacks. Don’t waste time on the deceived, that is a mistake. Find and neutralize the deceiver instead. Behind every batch of gender-confused, rainbow haired crazies ranting about the oppressiveness of eating Chinese takeout is an Alinsky-like figure (or perhaps more than one) using such idiots for his own personal gain.