Poverty

H/T Ad Orientem.

This is poverty.

poverty
From Shorpy’s, http://www.shorpy.com/node/23987

And this.

poverty2

This might be poverty, but it’s probably more bad choices and bad habits. Los Angeles is an expensive town. Move.

san fran2This really isn’t poverty.

not poverty1Nor is this. It’s not “refugee” or “asylum” either.

not poverty2

I couldn’t find a photograph of a fast food worker with a neck tattoo and cell phone, but that too is not poverty.

Mankind has accomplished an amazing thing in my lifetime, and that is the practical abolition of scarcity. We can grow all the crops the world needs in that greenbelt in the middle of the U.S., and float it down via gravity to the Port of New Orleans or truck it to every corner of the country. Nobody starves to death in the U.S. absent the most consumptive mental illness or addiction.

I’m willing to be proved wrong, but I don’t think anybody starves to death on the entire planet absent a deliberate human disruption of the supply chain.

Rather than be grateful to God and humbled at our abundance, we instead are freed up for all sorts of nonsense, like gender equality, racial equality, and sexual deviancy. That’s the human condition, and has been since Genesis 11.

I’m in my 50’s which is old enough (believe it or not) to have seen people with parasitic elephantiasis. Elephantiasis is now classified as a “neglected tropical disease.” I still see people living in genuine Third World squalor in places like McIntosh County. I call it squalor not poverty, because if we wanted to we could take these peoples’ guns and shoot their pit bulls (they have both), bulldoze their shacks, and move them to clean, hygienic apartments with a guaranteed minimum income, which a lot of them already receive. Same for the schizophrenic homeless men I drive by every day on the way to work. The only reason we don’t is our powerful creed of autonomous individuality. And you know what they would do if we did these wonderful things? They’d escape to the back streets or some remote culvert or clearing to resume their free lives.

We have a poverty problem all right, but it’s the problem of the poor enjoying the vices of the Biblical rich. The recluses and vagrants aren’t really the problem. These people are the problem:

Is anybody else thinking about a world, post-Scarcity?

Are the economists? What is money at this point? There are people alive today with so much money all they can think to do with it is buy the government paper that keeps millions alive without working and a Navy floating around with nothing to do. Why do we even bother with taxes? Why can’t we sell countries like Haiti, Guyana, the Congo, and Palestine to the billionaires? One day, I bet we will.

Are the theologians? What’s the attraction of Christianity when Globohomo Corp. can reduce marginal costs to the point that we fill every belly, cure everybody’s AIDS, and preach the gospel of liberalism? What was all that stuff about “labor” and being “heavy-laden” again? Christianity in general, and Orthodoxy in particular, is the redoubt of affluent intellectuals. Present-centered people enjoying all the food, parties and sex they want have no need of it.

I’m told this is all cyclical and soft people make hard times. I guess we’ll find out.

Smashmouth politics

run to daylight

The basic running philosophy employed by the Green Bay Packers under coach Vince Lombardi [was run-to-daylight.] The central two plays in this philosophy are off-tackle run and the so-called Packers sweep. In both plays, the offensive line would work to seal off a running lane for the back to use, and the running back would aim for this corridor rather than a specific pre snap hole. In the off tackle run, the quarterback would hand off (often to the fullback) who started running to the position between the tight end and tackle, but would aim for the best hole that developed. In the sweep, the two guards would pull to form the outside wall of the running lane, while the center and run side tackle would form the inside wall of the lane. – Wikipedia

iraq-marines

Each item of equipment in the modern ampibious assault force–from the multimillion dollar aircraft carrier to the least expensive radio battery, every highly skilled man–from a jet pilot to the operator of a small, portable radio–exists to get the Marine rifleman in position to close with the enemy and destroy him. – Guidebook for Marines

I’m a simple man so I like punchy quotes that are clear, direct, and axiomatic. The goal of the ground offense in “smashmouth football” is simple: clear the field in front of you in order to advance the ball to the opponent’s end zone. The goal of Marine assault is similarly reducible: put an infantryman on the disputed ground so he can engage with and destroy the enemy.

The goal of politics is simple as well: acquire power to implement desired policy. The Left has pursued that goal single-mindedly for a long time. The Right has been debating minutiae, but they are quickly catching (growing) up. The Right is adopting the smashmouth politics of their opponents and not a moment to soon.

More subtly stated, the goal of politics is to control the frame of debate. The US Civil War banished secession and slavery outside the frame of debate. (I can use the Civil War interchangeably because politics is just war by other means–instead of firing the rifles, we count the rifles.) Socialism, royalty, government racial discrimination are outside the frame of US political debate.

The current problem in US politics is the competing frames. Past a point, the competitors aren’t fighting over holding calls; they’re fighting over which ballpark. As I’ve been saying for a long time, politics has passed beyond ideological to territorial. Keynesian economists can exist in the same frame with the supply-siders, socialists cannot. Lots of people are now actual socialists. They will literally vote to take your stuff unless you out-vote them, and when votes no longer work, you’ll have to physically, ahem, stop them.

Sexual deviancy is also zero-sum. If you don’t banish transgendered freaks to live under bridges, they will dress up like Baphomet and read books to your children. If I’d said that ten years ago, you’d have called me a lunatic.

baphomet

Now for the hopeful stuff, as I promised last post.

At this point, Kavanaugh must be confirmed. It won’t be pretty, it will drive the Left even more insane (which doesn’t seem possible but always is), and that’s why it has to be done. If it’s not, we lose the framing. We’re not ceding an arrogant, eccentric Robert Bork to get the more conventional and tepid Anthony Kennedy; we’re hanging on to Kavanaugh because the Left’s real premise is that white heterosexual males cannot be allowed to govern. Call me crazy (am I? Am I?!) but look at how transgenderism has snowballed–remember last post how I said these things always snowball?

The Republicans and American bourgeois finally recognize the competing frames. We’re in a gunfight, not a toy knife fight. You play smashmouth or you lose. This isn’t about oafish Irishmen, it’s about straight white males period. The ideological debate is back there in ancient, white-guy history, and the scales are falling off a lot of eyes.

erickson

So if you see me with a twinkle in my eye, a spring in my step, and a jaunty straightening of my tie, it’s because Trump has fulfilled a simple man’s simple wish: he’s made smashmouth politics great again!

jaunty lindsey

The adults have left the room

Sixteen-Candles-underwear-trade

Like those old John Hughes’ movies, the adults have been inexplicably though indispensably absent to the titillating plot line of politics in the Kwa. No youthful indiscretion has been too infinitesimal as the leaders of the world’s most powerful and oldest continuous government root around in details of beer-drinking and sex from parties that were cleaned up and forgotten long ago.

You may recognize the scene from Sixteen Candles above. I enjoyed being a young person in the early 1980’s, but unfortunately never got to make out with a drunken Haviland Morris.

haviland 1982

Here’s Haviland now. She works in New York City real estate.

haviland now

The 1980’s were fun times. I attended a number of those parties that Christine Blasey-Ford has been talking about. Ms. Ford is no Haviland Morris. (In fairness, I’m no Anthony Michael Hall.)

blasey ford

Speaking of, Anthony Michael Hall has ended up with a pretty interesting, pugilistic look. He’s also gotten tall (6′ 2″) and his estimated worth is $16 million. As I said, I’m unfortunately no Anthony Michael Hall.

anthony_michael_hall

I’ve been following this story to see if another member of my age cohort, Brett Kavanaugh, will have his Supreme Court appointment derailed by Ford’s completely unprovable and unrefutable allegation that he ravaged her fair white body at a beer-fueled rapefest in 1982.

Where are the grown-ups to tell us forget it, it was 36 years ago, we don’t know, we can’t know, and therefore we don’t and can’t care? We’re the grown-ups now: world-weary adults with thinning hair, arthritic joints, aging or deceased parents, furiously denouncing our peer group over drunken groping that may or may not have happened in the bloom of glorious youth.

As somebody who remembers those torrid years rather fondly, I’m astonished. I can recall lots of good and bad times, including being physically humiliated by a bigger, stronger peer. I could look this man up on Facebook. We have our own adult lives and responsibilities. Why would I seethe over any number of stupid incidents from high school? That’s what grown-ups do: they grow up. Christine Blasey-Ford is not a grown-up. Lots of women never grow up. We used to not bother counting their votes.

The hysteria has snowballed to encompass all manner of lurid allegations and minutiae. Grown-ups can tell you that’s what hysteria does: it feeds on itself, snowballs to attract all sorts of freaks. A woman named Julia Swetnick came out of the woodwork to say Kavanaugh and his friends ran trains on helpless, poisoned women. Wow! Except our big-brained media and savvy politicos forgot to notice that Swetnick was crazy as a fucking fruit bat and being shepherded around by a psychopathic lawyer.

The circus continues and will for some time. Women roam the Congressional office building, screaming in its halls. Millions cower at their computer monitors, convinced women are routinely assaulted at a level which would otherwise shut down much of society, with women refusing to leave the house and men fighting blood feuds over the constant attacks on their wives and daughters. It’s all nonsense.

There have been hopeful signs out of all this mess, and I’ll address them in the next post.

Be of good cheer

Eastern Orthodoxy is splintering, Rome is burning, secularism’s gaping maw is at your heels and the Benedict Option won’t save you.

It will be fine.

Handle has read Dreher’s Benedict Option so you and I don’t have to. It is a lengthy and even-handed treatment and Dreher’s heart is definitely in the right place. Handle reaches similar conclusions to mine, including that Dreher, while sincere and offering a clear vision, still can’t work himself up to “go there.” As Handle puts it, Dreher tells us of a dire world of crumbling morality and overbearing government where Christians need to be prepared to run to the hills, only to assure everyone he’s not telling them to run to the hills. Rather, observant Christians can build up educational, financial, and social infrastructure centered, literally geographically, around their cathedral or parish. Dreher points to actual examples where this has been done and draws on the successful example of the Mormons, who build themselves little Zions in the heart of the American State.

Christianity needs a Christendom, but Dreher can’t find it in himself to put things in quite those terms, probably in recognition that Christendom on any significant scale would be an insufferable rival to the secular State. The Mormons avoid such conflict by touting themselves as the truly and inherently American creed, loyal to and increasingly employed by the American State.

mormon vision
Mormon President William Woodruff visited by the beatified founders of the USA, including Christopher Columbus. Few know this.

The future belongs to those who show up, and the Mormons showed up and carved out their space in the culture. And this highlights my (though not necessarily Handle’s) main objection to the Benedict Option: I don’t want Christians to hide from the State; I want us to capture the State, or at least be too potent to be screwed with. Again, that’s outside Dreher’s comfort zone, so he omits or overlooks a significant and pertinent phenomenon: the establishment of the highly successful Israeli State, of, by and for Jews so Jews can practice Judaism safely. So when it comes to carving out safe space for ourselves, I favor Free Northerner’s strategy of building up shadow elites who can seize the levers of power when it’s opportune. There is likely a synthesis between the two strategies.

As for Rome, her faithful should understand they have a Big Gay Problem at least as much as a pedophile/pederast problem, and until they make homosexuals uncomfortable in the clerical ranks they will continue to have that Problem. I’d suggest they ordain married priests, since there aren’t enough heterosexual men qualified to handle celibacy to staff all their parishes. Homosexuals go where the men and the fabulous aesthetics are, and the professional ranks of the Church are often where they end up. I’ll say no more. It’s not my Church and it’s the spiritual home of many Christians observing the Faith of their fathers, or who just find Eastern Orthodoxy too removed and alien for their Western roots.

And boy, is Eastern Orthodoxy ever alien, with an arcane battle royale between the Church’s oldest and largest Patriarchates respectively.

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia’s Orthodox Church said on Friday it would no longer participate in structures chaired by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, deepening a row in Orthodox Christianity over the Ukrainian Church’s bid to break away from Moscow’s orbit.

The Russian Orthodox Church’s Holy Synod ruling body convened on Friday to consider how to respond as the Ukrainian Orthodox Church has courted Constantinople to formally make it a self-governing body independent of Moscow.

Ukraine’s pro-Western political leaders have sought step by step to take the former Soviet republic out of Moscow’s orbit after Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula in 2014 and a Moscow-backed insurgency broke out in eastern Ukraine.

Vladimir Legoida, a Russian Church spokesman, said the Holy Synod had decided to suspend its participation in all structures chaired or co-chaired by representatives of the Patriarchate of Constantinople.

It is also suspending all services with top priests of the Patriarchate of Constantinople and will not commemorate the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I in its services, Legoida wrote on social media, summarising the outcome of the meeting.

“Essentially this is a breakdown of relations. To take an example from secular life, the decision is roughly equivalent to cutting diplomatic ties,” the Russian Church’s Metropolitan Ilarion was quoted by RIA news agency as saying.

I previously mentioned this sovereigns’ dispute here. The canonical Orthodox Church in the Ukraine is a metropolia seated in Kiev, whose Metropolitan Onufry is under the authority of +Kyrill, Patriarch of Moscow. The Church in the Ukraine has a tangled history, with Moscow and Constantinople respectively claiming ecclesial authority at various times. The Ukraine and Russia have some differences, and at the moment the Ukrainians find it galling that their putative national Church still answers to Moscow.

Enter +Bartholomew, the Patriarch of Istanbul Constantinople, whom we also observed in these blog pages here.

old chum

My old friend.

my old friend

+Bartholomew is apparently pushing ahead with the grant of a Tomos of Autocephaly to Kiev, and here is where things get even more interesting.

“The Chief Secretariat of the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate announced on 7 September 2018 that within the framework of the preparations for the granting of autocephaly to the Orthodox Church in Ukraine, the Ecumenical Patriarchate has appointed as its Exarchs in Kiev His Excellency Archbishop Daniel of Pamphilon [Ohio] from the United States, and His Grace Bishop Ilarion of Edmonton from Canada, both of whom are serving the Ukrainian Orthodox faithful in their respective countries under the Ecumenical Patriarchate.”

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the United States is very young, and has its own tangled history, answering to the Ecumenical Patriarch and not, as one would assume, to the Metropolitan of Kiev. The Ukrainian Church in the US is open to converts, as you can tell from poking around their website, but is still popularly and culturally Ukrainian and apparently intends to remain so, even as their children marry out and converts marry in. Their bishops were members in good standing of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America, in communion with the Moscow Patriarchate’s bishops in the Americas, even though Moscow’s own Ukrainian Metropolia apparently has no parishes outside Ukraine. Are everybody’s heads hurting yet?

+Bartholomew plucks his two bishops from the Americas and deposits them, presumably without having to pry their fingers from the plane doors, back in one of the most uncouth, corrupt countries on the planet where they will prepare to accept the Tomos of Autocephaly and elect a Patriarch.

Wait there’s more.

United States Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Samuel Brownback has said the United States is ready to assist in implementing a Tomos of autocephaly in Ukraine once it is granted to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. “Following the decision to grant a Tomos of autocephaly to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, the United States will support this resolution,” Brownback said at a meeting with Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Andriy Parubiy, according to the parliament’s official web portal. Brownback stressed that “at the stage of adopting a decision to grant the Tomos to Ukraine’s Orthodox Church we do not interfere. But once such a decision is arrived at, we will support it, and if we can be useful at the stage of its implementation, we will be happy to assist,” the U.S. ambassador said.

Parubiy thanked the United States for its support in many areas “in a very difficult time for Ukraine when we have to defend our independence with arms in our hands.” Parubiy also thanked for the attention to the issue of granting Ukraine’s Local Orthodox Church the said Tomos of autocephaly. He expressed his conviction that this is “one of the key issues of the existence of the Ukrainian state itself.”

The things you learn! In case you’ve been awake at nights wondering where former Kansas Senator Sam Brownback ended up, he’s apparently endowed in the indispensable office of U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom.

I can hear the young under-employed Mormons in the State Department typing up their report telling Undersecretary-Deputy-Assistant Somebody that this is A Good Idea all the way from here.

This is kind of a big deal in world Orthodoxy, as Muscovite, Greek and Ukrainian bishops in their turn withdraw from communion elsewhere. Antioch and Jerusalem are already not talking over their own jurisdictional fight, and Antioch is not on good terms with Constantinople either. There will be disputes over who does and doesn’t recognize the new Ukrainian Patriarchate, resulting (I don’t see how not) in further severances of communion.

If you’ve read me over the years, you’ll pick up that this is a problem arising from the Church’s continued employment of canons written for an Empire that disappeared almost 600 years ago. Then came trans-oceanic emigration, as the Orthodox faithful discovered they could just leave when the wars started or the jobs disappeared.

What a mess, amirite? But the affairs of sovereign bishops need not disrupt our Christian praxis and parish life. Before the current mess there was the Russian Revolution and Soviet Union, disrupting numerous jurisdictions. Before that was the fall of Constantinople and its attendant confusions and before that the Great Schism, and before that the Oriental Schism, and numerous conflicts and disputes in between. Really and truly, it has always been thus. As Fr. Stephen puts it, the history of the Church is the history of humans, and we love the Church just as we love humans (I hate humanity).

Besides, the more time the hierarchy has to spend defending their jurisdictions, the less time they have to spend lecturing us about immigration and global warming.

At some point these issues will resolve, probably with the American Churches telling the Sees across the pond how things will be going forward. Historically, ecclesial issues are resolved by fait accomplit.

“The economy’s biggest mystery”

How to Fix Stagnant Wages:  Dump the World’s Dumbest Idea

Today’s New York Times tells us that wages should be rising, since we live in a world in which stock markets are soaring, the global economy is growing and unemployment levels are at record lows. But wages aren’t rising. For most workers around the world, wages continue to stagnate, after decades of minimal growth or decline. The implications are dire for global political stability: resentment among middle- and lower-class workers has already given rise to populist leaders in both the U.S. and parts of Europe. Unless the problem is solved, more trouble lies ahead.

Yet the world’s leading economists aren’t much help in understanding, let alone solving, the problem of stagnant wages:

It’s “the economy’s biggest mystery,” writes CNBC’s Jeff Cox.

“This is one of the big economic questions of our time,” said Ángel Talavera, lead eurozone economist at Oxford Economics in London.

“The lack of wage growth at the aggregate level despite the declines in the unemployment rate and strong job gains remains a mystery,” Joseph Song, U.S. economist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, wrote in a note to clients.

“Economists are stumped,” writes Noah Smith in Bloomberg.

The author, retired World Bank executive Steve Denning, thinks he’s found the answer:

Previously, firms had sought to balance the needs of all the stakeholders—customers, employees, shareholders and the community. Workers were valued both as contributors to the gains that had already been made and as the creators of future growth. But once shareholder value thinking took over, workers came to be seen as expendable commodities, whose training for the future and career development were simply not their problem. No responsibility was felt to those employees who had helped create the wealth of the company. Instead, corporate raiders, who had played no role in creating that wealth, extracted much of the gains, which they then used to conduct more raids.

“Fifty years ago,” writer Lynn Stout, the late distinguished professor of corporate and business law at Cornell Law School, in her book, The Shareholder Value Myth, wrote, “if you had asked the directors or CEO of a large public company what the company’s purpose was, you might have been told the corporation had many purposes: to provide equity investors with solid returns, but also to build great products, to provide decent livelihoods for employees, and to contribute to the community and nation. The concept was to focus on long-term performance, not maximizing short-term profits.”

“All this changed in the 1980s. Economists began arguing, confidently, if incorrectly, that shareholders ‘own’ corporations and that stock price always captures a firm’s true economic value. Thus shareholders should have more power over corporate boards, and executive pay should be tied to shareholder returns. These academic arguments were embraced by activist investors seeking to buy shares, pump up price, and sell for a quick profit. They also appealed to CEOs hoping to enrich themselves by boosting share price by any means possible (including, at Enron, outright fraud). The result is today’s world, where ‘shareholder value’ is king.”

I’m not an employee of a publicly traded corporation but I do work for publicly traded corporations, and I’ve done it for the past 27 years. I have many colleagues who’ve done it longer than me. My father worked for publicly traded corporations, as did his father before him. My grandfather’s father worked for the railroad, and I’ve heard some of those stories too. So what I’m about to tell you is based on a store of human knowledge and experiences spanning more than a century:

Corporations have always been shortsighted and greedy.

Corporations have always skimmed the fat for their shareholders, scrimped on the workers, built shoddy products, maimed and poisoned people, bribed legislators, creatively accounted, and evaded taxes. Contra Mr. Denning, I think the answer to this economic mystery is more drearily, micro-economically simple: the supply of labor has increased exponentially since around 1980.

When I was a child–about 4 billion people ago–sophisticated products and services were provided by the US, Europe and Japan. Africa was where the famines happened. The Soviet Union and Red China (remember them?) were lumbering, socialist autarchies. Southern and Southeast Asia were where all these insanely violent wars broke out. That world is as gone and vanished as the O’Hara family’s cotton plantation. First World workers now compete in a global labor market at all levels of sophistication, and there are 7.6 billion of us.

world-population-by-world-regions-post-1820

From the perspective of the global marketplace, most of us do embarrassingly fungible work. The demand relationship is the world’s simplest economic graph: labor prices will not rise. Not ever.

law-of-demand

So that’s my hypothesis, even though Forbes magazine doesn’t quote me. There are many more of us than ever before, and we actually need less workers per good. Think about the mining industry, and imagine how many miners you’d need swinging pick axes all day to keep up with this behemoth.

This is actually a great thing. Mechanical excavators don’t get horrible diseases, and don’t leave weeping family members behind when disasters happen.

black lung

massey disaster

But what do you do if you’re a coal miner? Bucket wheel excavators don’t require a twentieth of operators and mechanics as the miners they replace, and there’s no reason the operation and maintenance won’t be automated at some point as well. Unquestionably, the cognitive threshold for remunerative work is rising. Billions of people exist on the left-side distribution of the intelligence curve. They are looking at an idle future.