Category Archives: Life's mysteries

Well this is a new one . . .

puzzled-lookLast night I dreamed I was hallucinating. I knew I was hallucinating but I didn’t know I was dreaming.

Does something sinister this way come?

Cute kittehs. Yeah, yeah, yeah, cute kittehs everywhere. And they pretend they’re the ones being pushed around by the big bad humans, but I ask you – who’s really  in charge here?

(thanks friend Shep)

Do we care about tomorrow?

This morning, Gene directs me to an article in the New York Review of Books, by Tony Judt, taken from his new book Ill Fares the Land. I entirely agree with Gene that this is a very important article/book indeed. It describes where we are presently as a society, compares that to where we were until the 80’s, and compares quality of life measurement with our sister nations – mostly Europe – where financial and social practices track our own to a large extent.

The article reads well even to the economic novice and includes clear graphs measuring his premises. The gist is that we have turned away from being a social democracy invested in our future and well being, to an increasingly unequal society with collapsing infrastructure increasingly beholden to the moneyed class whose interests are not the good of this nation but only of their own wealth. It’s a fine read for tax day – makes me want to pay more taxes.  It does.

Some outtakes that struck me:

No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable.  —Adam Smith

“Something is profoundly wrong with the way we live today. For thirty years we have made a virtue out of the pursuit of material self-interest: indeed, this very pursuit now constitutes whatever remains of our sense of collective purpose. We know what things cost but have no idea what they are worth. We no longer ask of a judicial ruling or a legislative act: Is it good? Is it fair? Is it just? Is it right? Will it help bring about a better society or a better world? Those used to be the political questions, even if they invited no easy answers.

“. . . Poverty is an abstraction, even for the poor. But the symptoms of collective impoverishment are all about us. Broken highways, bankrupt cities, collapsing bridges, failed schools, the unemployed, the underpaid, and the uninsured: all suggest a collective failure of will. These shortcomings are so endemic that we no longer know how to talk about what is wrong, much less set about repairing it. And yet something is seriously amiss. Even as the US budgets tens of billions of dollars on a futile military campaign in Afghanistan, we fret nervously at the implications of any increase in public spending on social services or infrastructure.

“. . . The consequences are clear. There has been a collapse in intergenerational mobility: in contrast to their parents and grandparents, children today in the UK as in the US have very little expectation of improving upon the condition into which they were born.

“. . . Inequality is corrosive. It rots societies from within. The impact of material differences takes a while to show up: but in due course competition for status and goods increases; people feel a growing sense of superiority (or inferiority) based on their possessions; prejudice toward those on the lower rungs of the social ladder hardens; crime spikes and the pathologies of social disadvantage become ever more marked. The legacy of unregulated wealth creation is bitter indeed

“. . . Although countries as far apart as New Zealand and Denmark, France and Brazil have expressed periodic interest in deregulation, none has matched Britain or the United States in their unwavering thirty-year commitment to the unraveling of decades of social legislation and economic oversight.”

Well worth a read. And well worth some thought.

Okay, not liking this . . .

For the second time in as many weeks, posts have disappeared into thin air. About four, posted late afternoon yesterday? Not there. Were there last night. On the home page, fully visible, not in draft form.

Who took ’em? Fess’ up!!!!

Nobel, noble? Yes, no?

Some more possible reasons Obama got the Nobel? Maybe to put the wind at his back in support of policies the Nobel Committee think are the right policies. Give him some momentum.  Create opportunities to bring the national conversation back to where it began in January. Maybe make it a little harder for Israel to be dusting off the bombers.

Going in both directions

About to have some painting done, so I spent a few hours over the last two days clearing out shelves and cabinets. You’ve all been there. Setting up the three categories: 1.) Save; 2.)  Goodwill; 3.) Garbage. And then wondering  how in the world I  accumulated all this stuff? Again. And as I write, I’m making a mental note to order some books. Dear lord.

And better looking too?

Do insurance companies have better bureaucrats? Is that why we need to be protected against government bureaucrats?

Not really a mystery

A favorite, tiresome complaint of conservatives – always delivered with an indignant tone – laments the liberal bias in journalism, the arts, universities education etc.

Let us stipulate; it is so. Why argue it; as long as we add that there is a conservative bias among CEO’s,  members of the Chamber of Commerce, small business owners, and those in all financial industries.

(And as usual, liberals will continue to fail in positing this other truth. They will deny or defend. I would like to complain about THAT. )

There are reasons for these differences and fer god’s sake, they are apparent to any who bother looking – conservatives pursue profit, liberals pursue learning and human potential.

A simple, but not simplistic, explanation. Liberals are attracted to the liberal arts. Conservative are not. Liberals always have questions and look for answers. About all sorts of things that confront human beings. The professions they dominate offer mostly modest earnings. These people are not looking to get rich; they are pursuing their passions.