Could you reach out and grab my hand as you fell past me on your slide,
As you sink more and more along the hopeless spiral that you ride?
Is there a way I could reach you, before you fall into the sea?–
Beyond my reach, you’d kick and scream, giving the lifeguard injury.
I’m sure you see the walls bleeding, the ground shaking, the sky falling,
If I assure you it’s not real, would you hear my desp’rate calling?
Or have you slipped beyond the pale, beyond the rim of reasoning,
Being chased by all the beasts of your fevered imagining?
There is no need to impress me; I’m no one, friend, don’t lie to me
I don’t interpret what I see; I take you as you seem to be.
It’s all okay, we make mistakes; we’ve all been through our hells and fates
What matters is: don’t be afraid, and don’t you bite their silly bait.
Why are you so concerned for me? Though I am thankful for the thought,
I think your time would better be spent analyzing what you’re taught;
I have not doubted I am loved, nor have I knelt and looked above,
And cried out loudly to the sky, “Would person or god tell me why?”
Look to yourself, my falling friend, take care–do not, to others, lend
Your thoughts until you’ve reached the end, have come around the final bend–
And overcome, do not pretend–you’ve clawed your way back out again
Until you rise above the din and your torment is at an end.
If I could find the words
to tell this holy goddess
That my soul is hers,
that she could bear me malice
And I would yet revere
the ground she walks upon
That I’d go without fear
into Hell and far beyond
To take her to Eden,
give her the Forbidden Fruit,
That she would be the reason
for all that I would do–
But words ever escape,
fall to nothing in my mind
There are no words as great
as to do the goddess kind
So imitations fall
as reflections on this page
Of a desire to call
the goddess a million ways
And not a single one
comes close to matching she
Who walks beneath a moon
that writhes in jealousy
Even the stars above
stare with envious eyes
At this beautiful dove
whose radiance lights the sky
She causes wind to blow–
as each atom that exists
Craves the chance to know,
and touch this perfect goddess
So the wind has carried
these lusting elements
Until their hopes were buried
by her divine radiance
There are still no words
a mortal could think to use
Whose beauty would match hers,
even if given by a Muse
Though I shall always try
to channel her light through
These hollow words of mine
that I take such care to choose
To show my reverence
for this unearthly soul
For the holy goddess
whose heart I long to know.
You might also be interested in checking out last night’s episode of Rantings & Ravings, where I discuss the absurdity that sexual orientation is defined just as much by the gender of the person “who is attracted” as the gender that is the recipient of the attraction.
Anyway. Yesterday’s results for the Republican Primary made two things exceptionally clear. First, the Democratic nomination process is over. Second, the Republican nomination process is over. As I predicted back in November (though that link is from December), the general election is going to come down to Trump versus Hillary, and Trump will win. I’m not saying that’s a good thing or bad thing, but it is what’s going to happen. The only way to prevent that is for wider America to turn away from the established parties to a third party. And, realistically, the only third party with any chance whatsoever of upsetting the balance of power is the Libertarian Party. By the way, have you seen John McAfee’s new ad?
But enough of all that.
The current Republican Primary results are:
1,237 delegates are needed to secure the party nomination before the national convention. If that number is reached, then the person who reaches that number is automatically made the nominee. If that number is not reached, then some debating and argument ensues, the delegates cast their votes again, and the process repeats until someone hits the magic number.
187 delegates will immediately be up for grabs after the first wave of delegate voting (think of delegates as elected representatives) because the people they were elected to support have dropped out of the race. This includes Marco Rubio, who holds more delegates than John Kasich, who is still in the running.
There are 502 delegates remaining that are up for grabs, meaning that both Cruz and Kasich have been mathematically eliminated from earning the Republican nomination. Even if things radically change and Cruz wins 100% of the remaining delegates, he will only reach 1069, which is only barely more than Donald Trump’s current 954. Giving Cruz the nomination when Donald Trump has been the clear frontrunner for months and consistently earned a larger share of the votes from all across the country through a large time period would result in absolute chaos in the GOP. Whether people like it or not, it is time to accept that the nomination must go to Donald Trump.
Because Cruz won’t secure the remaining 502 delegates. Already, the tendency of people to vote for the person they think likeliest to win is taking effect, and Trump will continue to gain 50% or more of the vote in the remaining states. If Trump doesn’t hit the magic number, it’s an irrelevant point, because he’ll be so close to it–within a few dozen, according to most scenarios–that doing anything else would be viewed as outright robbery and political shenanigans.
The reality is that, according to the rules, having 1,236 delegates going into the convention won’t guarantee that person will become the nominee. This is because, in a two person race, there would be two candidates with 1,236 delegates, so neither of them can be assured victory. That isn’t the case here, though–this is a 3 person race, the totals are nowhere near even, and there is a huge gap between the other two candidates and the number of delegates needed to secure the nomination. In a two person race, it absolutely would be unfair to guarantee one of the people with 1,236 the nomination. In a three person race that used to be a 12 person race, however, it’s much less unfair. In a very real way, these goons that dropped out early in the race have screwed up the entire system, and I think that should be one of the GOP’s rules going forward: you can’t drop out of the nomination process.
Just think of all the people who voted for Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, and Carly Fiorina. All of those people have been disenfranchised by the people they supported. When Rubio, Paul, Fiorina, Christie, and all the others announced their campaigns and then proceeded to campaign, they made a promise to the people that they would try to secure the nomination. And then they dropped out, breaking their promises to the people who supported them. How would Rand Paul be performing in this narrowed field? How would Fiorina be doing?
Yet, at the same time, I think it’s time for Cruz and Kasich to admit defeat. I’m not saying that they should drop out of the race by any means–for the same reason the others shouldn’t have been allowed to drop out; it’s weak, disingenuous, and a betrayal to their supporters who now effectively wasted their votes on people who are no longer candidates. How many people would have supported Trump as their second choice, if Rand had not basically caused the votes he received to disappear into a blackhole of political shenanigans? How many people would have supported Cruz or Kasich if Rubio had never run at all? All of these people–their votes have been reduced to nothing, and might as well never have been cast at all.
Many Americans think their vote is wasted if their candidate doesn’t win, and this is what drives people to vote for the candidate they think is likeliest to win. If people had known that Paul, Fiorina, Christie, and all the others weren’t going to see it through, and therefore would never win, they would never have voted for those people at all. And now these people who voted in their primaries for these candidates who dropped out have their voices completely and totally nullified in the delegate process. The people who voted for the delegates going to the convention in the name of Rubio, Paul, Christie, et al. no longer have a voice. Behind-the-scenes “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine” political brokering has taken over, allowing candidates to influence delegates. That delegate going to the convention in Rubio’s name–he’s a Cruz supporter. That person who voted for Rubio who may absolutely hate Cruz has effectively become the reason that Cruz will win one more delegate in the second round*. Maybe that person would have selected Kasich if they’d known that Rubio wasn’t going to have the courage and spine to hang around; it doesn’t matter, their voice is nullified. That person who voted for Jeb Bush may hate Kasich and may have preferred Cruz as their second choice. But in the second round, that delegate who is a Trump supporter will vote for Trump.
It is inescapable that this process has marginalized tons of voters. One might ask, “So? If Trump hits 1,237, then all the people who supported Cruz similarly have their voices erased.” But no, that’s not the case. Losing an election (and primaries are elections) does not erase the votes for the loser–that’s the widespread belief I referred to earlier that a vote is wasted if the candidate doesn’t win. However, “Trying to the very end and losing” is not at all the same thing as basically telling people you’re going to try to the very end, and then absconding with a ton of votes.
If I told investors I need $10b to do some complicated thing that would make us all trillionaires, and then I took that money, gave up on the project, and left them standing there wondering what happened, that would be an enormously different thing from doing what I said I would do and simply failing at it. The consequences appear to be about the same, but the circumstances and details couldn’t be more unlike.
So what am I arguing, then, if not that Cruz, Kasich, and Sanders should give up and drop out of their races? I’m saying they should stop campaigning. They should remain candidates so that the voters can continue to speak, but the reality is that, contested convention or no, neither of them have a viable path to the nomination. Trump isn’t speaking in bravado when he says he thinks people will riot if he doesn’t get the nomination. People may or may not riot, but one thing is certain: they will never switch their support to the candidate who took the nomination more or less from Trump. And it doesn’t matter that “the rules say this” and “the rules say that.” The rules don’t matter, not really.
What matters is what the voters think and feel, not the rules that the Establishment has in place to go against what the voters think and feel.
They can hide behind the rules all day long and say, “No, see? We were totally allowed to ignore the fact that Trump needed only 9 more delegates and instead let Kasich have the nomination.” But their delusion has reached new levels if they think that “Well, the rules allow it” is going to appease anyone; if anything, such an explanation will only rile them further. The primary is done; it’s over. There is no way for Cruz or Kasich (or anyone else for that matter) to get the nomination without shattering the Republican Party. And no–the Trump supporters will never switch their support to a candidate who they believe unfairly took the nomination from Trump, and they do think that would be unfair.
As do I, for that matter, but I’m not a Trump supporter. I understand the rule, and I understand the process, but “Because it’s the rule” and “Because it’s fair” aren’t even related, much less the same thing.
Cruz and Kasich, however, should stop campaigning and should start attempting to bridge the animosity between themselves and Donald Trump. Yes, it’s their responsibility now to bridge those gaps–they are the losers, and they are the ones who must now accommodate Trump and his positions. Trump is the clear winner, and that will continue going forward. It is time for them to put aside their differences, accept that Trump is going to get the nomination, and begin making inroads so that their supporters, when Trump secures the nomination, will support the selected GOP candidate. Continuing to drive wedges into the Republican Party will not help matters. It’s time for them to start tweeting, “You know, guys and girls, Trump isn’t really THAT bad…”
Actually, to be totally clear, it’s time for them to start focusing on Hillary and going after her. That is how they continue to be candidates while ceasing to drive wedges into the party. When Trump (who is childish) insults them, they must ignore it and counter with an insult of Hillary. There is no excuse for continuing to fracture the Republican Party all the way up to the convention, especially not since it is inescapably clear that Trump must be the nominee–because, as I’ve said, the rules are irrelevant.
Briefly, the RNC is likely to repeal their changes to Rule 40B, which requires any prospective candidate to win the majority of delegates in at least 8 states. By widespread admission of the Establishment, this rule was changed in 2012 specifically to keep Ron Paul from getting the nomination. It prompted the majority of Ron Paul supporters to walk out in disgust, and it represents the most brazen official interference of the Establishment that we’ve ever seen. Ron Paul had the 2012 nomination stolen from him in a number of ways–the media refusing to report his victories was yet another, and it was so common and blatant that even Jon Stewart called out the media on it.
I’m not a Trump supporter. Obviously–I support John McAfee, through and through. But I did support Ron Paul in 2012 when the GOP retired him and didn’t even invite him to the retirement party (seriously–that actually happened), when the Establishment passed 40B specifically to shut down Ron Paul’s chances. They should not even be allowed to repeal that rule now. Oh, by the way, there is also evidence that Rule 40B was rejected by the delegates, and there is proof that the Establishment was going to pass 40B whether people liked it or not–there were some teleprompter issues that revealed a lot more than the establishment intended.
They made this bed when they passed 40B illegally (Illegally according to their own rules, not illegally according to the state’s laws), and they should now be forced to lie in that bed. This eliminates Cruz and Kasich, and good riddance. All three of the GOP options are just bloody awful, and it’s a terrible fact that Trump sucks the least out of them. But Cruz is a constitutionalist and, despite what most people think, the Constitutionalist Party is not built solely from the Constitution; it is a Christian political party, through and through, and its own platform rejects the notion of separation of church and state.
We also need separation of state and economy. There has never been anything more critical to our freedom than to forever separate these two things. But that’s another matter. The point is that Cruz and Kasich don’t have a valid pathway to the nomination, even if it can be done without violating rules, and it’s time for them to accept that and start trying to heal the damage that their campaigns caused in their attempts to win.
On a side note, one of the reviews of V2: The Voluntary Voice read my essay “The Power Gap” and reached the conclusion that, because I talked about the Second Amendment, I must be a Constitutionalist. What an idiot. This is something I’ve always wanted to address, but have never bothered to. He also blatantly asserted that he disagrees because “he felt otherwise,” which is just more of that crap where people think their feelings are good enough to outweigh facts and reason. But anyway–the notion that I, an anarchistic atheist, am a Constitutionalist is absurd, and nothing about the essay indicates that I’m a Constitutionalist. I would urge people who think that my reverence to the U.S. Constitution and insistence that, at the very least, the state should abide its own Constitution, makes me a Constitutionalist to actually look into what a Constitutionalist is.
* This is speaking hypothetically, of course, and assumes that Trump won’t hit 1,237. If he doesn’t, then this absolutely will be more or less how it plays out.
I also have very good reason to hate Game of Thrones and George R. R. Martin, so I apologize if you’re a fan of the show, because I’m about to offend you. But before I get into that, a bit of background.
The very first novel I ever owned was called something like The Crystal Shard, and I got it during the summer between the 2nd and 3rd grade. It was, of course, a Fantasy novel, but my love for Fantasy had already started by that point. When I was four or five, my father bought a game at Wal-Mart that he was [incorrectly] told supported 4-players, and that game was Ultima: Exodus on NES. That was when my love for Fantasy began. To call it a lifelong love would be absolutely correct.
I wrote my first fantasy stories, roleplaying adventures, and so on shortly after my dad introduced me to tabletop gaming. He didn’t so much “introduce” me to it as he did “made me aware of its existence,” and it simply was never going to fly for me to have actual Dungeons and Dragons materials in my grandmother’s house. This was before she heavily screened what I could read and listen to, but D&D would never have flown; this was right smack in the middle of the allegations that it was Satanic, and she believed whatever the pastor said. The pastor, of course, called it the devil’s work.
Around the 4th grade, she came upon one of my stories where, according to her, the main character died and brought himself back to life. While I never wrote anything like that, it didn’t matter. She launched into a tirade about how only Jesus could bring himself back to life (because, evidently, it’s normal when Jebus does it, but not normal when a different made-up and fictitious character does it), and that was the end of my exposure to most fantasy. Any future reading was done under the radar; I had to sneak books in, and keep them hidden, or let friends take them home and read them only at school.
That didn’t deter me, however, so strong was my love for these fantastic worlds of mages, dragons, orcs, and elves. I created my own settings. Folders upon folders full of archaic rules based on the set of 6-sided dice I’d snatched out of the RISK boardgame, where all damage and attack rolls used d6s. Entire notebooks filled with details of worlds, characters, mysterious trinkets, magical objects, wondrous secrets, gigantic landscapes… Like anyone under the heel of an extremely oppressive parent, I sank into these fantasy worlds that I created and lived them as completely as I could, because it was just a matter of time before my grandmother found them and destroyed them.
So that’s the context of my love for Fantasy. Fantasy is the reason I am still alive, no question. That I had my own imagination, built from these scraps of stories I’d never actually gotten the privilege of reading–who was Dalamar the Dark? I didn’t know, but I imagined Dalamar the Dark. Who was this Raistlin, this gold-skinned mage? I didn’t know, but I imagined him. Drizzt the Drow–who was he? Elminster? Waterdeep? Ravenloft? Over and over again, I had only slivers, little scraps of passages I’d glimpsed before the wicked claws of my grandmother snatched them away, and from those I built my fantasy.
This is, to be fair, what makes my fantasy unique and new. Let’s not mince words: there is a “standard fantasy,” which is an oxymoron so great that authors throughout the world should be ashamed. There are many traps that Fantasy as a genre fell into, and that there is a standard fantasy is one of those traps. It is not, however, what killed the genre in the early millennium.
No, what killed the genre were the Moral Guardians who forced Fantasy to remain squeaky clean. No references to sex were allowed. No swearing. No outrageous acts of violence. Fantasy, more than any other genre, had to be absolutely clean. If it contained anything that even hinted at non-Christian imagery, it was going to be pulled from the shelves by the Moral Guardians. Weis and Hickman, two of the best fantasy writers of the 80s and 90s, remarked in one of their annotated trilogies that they had to come up with a nine-pointed star, because the publisher would never have allowed a 5-pointed or 7-pointed star at the time. There was constant censorship, and an overarching need to present solid moral values. Nothing less would be tolerated by the Moral Guardians.
In case it took you as long to read that as it did for me to write it:
Fantasy never evolved past that, even after the Moral Guardians turned their eyes onto video games and forgot about literature. R. A. Salvatore, Terry Pratchett, Douglas Niles, Margaret Weis, and Tracy Hickman–these prolific, mighty authors, fallen into obscurity. What happened? There are just as many nerds today as there have ever been. There are as many Magic: The Gathering and Dungeons & Dragons players as ever–where is the literature?
There is no literature.
Fantasy committed suicide because it never removed its pristine white coat, and people lost interest in these simple worlds of moral black and whites, these clear archetypes of heroes and villains, these bland, dry, and immaculate characters who were all celibate, apparently. It was so bad that even characters like Jarlaxle and Artemis Entreri refrained from sex–two rapscallion thieves and assassins who just lived the good life. Never had sex with anyone in any of their books. C’mon. I’m not asking for a sex scene by any means, and don’t want one, but the books make it a point to say that they refrain from sex. It’s ridiculous, and it was true across all fantasy, with very few exceptions. If a character did have sex, then they did so indiscriminately and it was a character flaw, such as Tanis Half-Elven and Caramon Majere.
I finished my first fantasy novel when I was in the tenth grade. If I’d had more guidance, either from a parent or by the teacher who had more or less taken me under her wing, then it would have been published. But I had no guidance. There I was, 16 years old, shoving the entirety of my unedited 276 page manuscript into a manilla envelope without even a cover letter, and sending it off to Wizards of the Coast. If they’d known a 16 year old had written it, things probably would have different, since that’s such a marketable thing, but c’est la vie.
The road not traveled.
Then life hit. My dad was caught stealing–embezzling, technically–and we lost our place to stay. I had to drop out of high school. My car, a 95 Camaro z28, broke down constantly. I delivered pizzas for a living, paid rent with my sister and her boyfriend, and smoked a lot of weed. Started doing rolls, and just kinda got mildly off track, but with distant thoughts of eventually going to college. Then my girlfriend moved in with me, and I decided I owed it to her to get off my ass. I scheduled to take my GED, and a week before the test got into a fight in the parking lot with the person I’d used to take all those rolls with because he was jealous of her and threatening her. I got fired, things got derailed, and I had very little time to write during all of this. What writing I did was non-fiction–fleshing out my thoughts on religion and the like. And playing a lot of chess.
But I took my GED, I got a new job, and my girlfriend and I got married. I supported us while I worked a full-time job and was a full-time student, and just 6 to 8 weeks before my graduation, I was pulled over by a Tunica County sheriff for not wearing my seatbelt. That tardy caused me to be fired a month or so later, when a “negative point” (a reward of -1 to your point total for employees who go 90 days without a tardy or absence) came off my total. 365 days after something is added to the record, it comes off the record. So I had a -1 come off my record. You know what 9 – -1 is? It’s 9 + 1. It’s 10. And 10 was the point of termination.
I’m fine with having poor attendance. I was supporting myself and my wife while working a full-time job and being a full-time student. That my attendance is as good as it was is something I’m proud of. That shit was exhausting. It was 7 days a week for two solid years. I got one week of vacation during it, and I was in school that week so it wasn’t even really a vacation.
I’m not complaining. Really, I’m not. It’s all good. I’m proud of what I did.
But it did keep me from writing. I was just too busy. I spent my Tuesdays off playing music with an old band, and that took the place of writing for a while. I didn’t have time for both writing and music, and music looked a lot more likely to lift me out of that hellhole. It was also a way of combining social interactivity with leisure. We partied, drank, made music. It was great. And my wife usually played World of Warcraft while we did it. Life was good. I didn’t mind.
I did get back on track, finally coming to work for the colleague with whom I am now associated (but not employed by), and I almost immediately began writing again. He was stunned when he RDP’d into the server late one evening and saw that I’d left my book open. He knew I wrote, but he never expected to find 100 single-spaced pages of text staring back at him. I’ll never forget his statement. “Oh. You’re like, actually serious about writing. That’s awesome.”
I finished that manuscript some time ago. And I thought it was something to be proud of. Reception varied from lukewarm to absolute disinterest. After the critical period of putting it aside and losing my emotional connections to it, I looked again, and it was shit. It was terrible. It was 300 pages of talking about stuff that had happened, not stuff that was happening. The Gaithin War that takes up about 1/3 of the final version–it “had happened years ago” in the previous draft. Queen Selena and Kyle Xenethil didn’t even exist. Calliope and Falrin didn’t exist. The story was weak–exceptionally weak, and I immediately saw why.
I’d crafted too much backstory over the decades, and utterly failed to craft the actual story. Last January I put the bullshit aside. I said “If I’m ever going to be a professional writer, then this ‘Writing when I feel inspired’ crap has to stop.” I swore to write a minimum of 35 pages a week–3 each day, 10 each weekend day. That soon changed to 5 each day, but there were some days when I only got out 3. I still always made up for it on the weekend, even if it meant I had to write 10 pages in one day, because I never went under 35 a week. I didn’t skip a single day. There were times when I was so thankful for dialogue because it made the 3 pages so much easier to hit, and there were times when I literally had to stop myself from writing too many pages in one day.
But I did it.
450,000 words in its first draft form.
The length of the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy.
I knew immediately that it was going to be a tough sell, but I also don’t care. People have suggested that I divide it, but I refuse to. I don’t refuse to because I’m being stubborn; I refuse because it would hurt the story cohesion. This is an epic tale of more than 25 characters, all woven together, with events in one part of the world impacting events in another part, threading in and out and coming together only for the third book of the trilogy. I will not apologize that it is an epic tale. Whether it’s a good epic tale or not, it is epic.
After flying through the agents I could find, it became apparent that it’s simply not going to work as a debut novel. Agents are terrible, and I have no respect for them. Stephen King wrote in his book On Writing that the first story he ever submitted to a magazine was returned back with only a sticky-note on it that said “Use paperclips. Don’t staple.” King never stapled another submission.
You don’t get that kind of feedback today. 90% of the agents simply won’t reply if they’re not interested. It’s an absolutely disgusting mentality, that people don’t deserve even a rejection letter. Busy, busy, busy! Gotta get that bottom dollar! And there’s no dollars to be made in sending someone a rejection letter. This also means that I have no idea–literally no idea–why these agents have passed up on my novel. The three that have replied (out of well over 30) have all said something like “It’s not for me, but I do wish you luck.”
Which is the literary equivalent of “It’s not you, it’s me.”
I imagine that if Stephen King knew about this, given his position on the value of agents and editors, then he would be repulsed, and he has the sway in the industry to do something about it. I’ve sworn that when I become successful, I will change this system that is damn near impossible to penetrate because the young aspiring writer has literally no idea what they’re doing wrong. Did I do the digital equivalent of stapling? Do they dislike the genre? The length? The style? The word choices? The writing? Who the hell knows?
But that’s another matter. My aim was only to explain why I’m not a currently published fantasy writer. I finished the first draft of that version during March of last year, put it aside for about two months, and then began the laborious process of editing 450,000 words–or more than 1300 pages. This was time consuming, tedious, slow, and exhausting. It was not until September of this last year–a mere 7 months ago–that I even began submitting it to agents. With the way the agent system is and how it is demonstrably stacked against new authors (even those who are already professional writers and who are already published in three different places), and with the fact that this novel is a tough sell, regardless of its merits, it’s no surprise that I didn’t find an agent. And I’m not going to until Aria DiMezzo has published a novel in some other way, and that’s where Dancing in Hellfire, now being edited, comes in.
So that’s my love for Fantasy. It’s a lifelong love of extreme value and depth.
And I’m watching it be cheapened, tarnished, and destroyed by an uncreative hack who peddles smut. Remember I’ve been reading fantasy more or less my entire life, though most of the earlier years were unstable and sporadic. Yet I’d never heard George R. R. Martin’s name before Game of Thrones.
Game of Thrones is cheap and tawdry. It idolizes rape, violence, and everything that is disgusting about humanity. It takes the absolute lowest of what humanity has to offer and engrandizes it, dresses it in a suit made of political intrigue, and tries to prevent it as something more than a cheap whore in a moderately expensive dress. But it’s not. It’s just a cheap whore in a moderately expensive dress.
It is the Fantasy equivalent of Hostel or Cannibal Holocaust. It is lewd for the sake of ratings and solely for the sake of ratings, and the same is true of the novels. If you want political intrigue, rape, and violence while still maintaining class and taste, then you need look no further than Ken Follett and his masterful works Pillars of the Earth and World Without End. They were both adapted into mini-series (and the mini-series are what introduced me to Follett), and they are phenomenal. If you can find them on Netflix, Hulu, or <insert website of dubious legality>, they are well worth the 8-9 hours they take to watch.
They masterfully craft villains, and they establish gigantic moral grey areas, yet it is always clear who is the good guy and who is the bad guy. They build the villains up into people that you, the reader or viewer, will absolutely hate. By the end of the books and series, you’ll be damned near frothing at the mouth, angry, irate, desperate to watch these scumbags get what is coming to them. And then they do get what’s coming to them, and the pay-off is just…
There’s nothing else like it. It’s some of the best storytelling I’ve ever experienced. And even when the witch lifts up her skirt and pees on a chicken in front of a priest (it makes sense in context), it never loses class; it never becomes tasteless. There is no rape scene simply because a female character needed to be degraded.
That is Martin’s biggest problem. He relies so much on rape that I wonder if he’s aware that not all strong women endured rapes in their past. He seems to think that any strong woman must have been raped at some point. Female characters start out strong, in command, and then Martin has them raped. Then they despair, and then they build themselves back up to being strong and in command. For that alone, fuck you, George Martin. Rape is not character building.
If it only happened once, it might have been understandable. We could have shrugged and said, “Well, yeah, rape was more common during the Middle Ages.” But it happens constantly. Martin appears to know no other way. And if it’s a male who has to be degraded, what happens? If his dick doesn’t get cut off, then the guy has to watch his sister/wife/girlfriend be raped; it again falls right back to this deplorable crutch of the untalented hack who dresses smut up in fine clothes.
It also doesn’t help that he has no idea how to build an actual hero in this world of Grey and Gray Morality that he has created–this generic Low Fantasy world that could just as easily have been called “Ferelden But Without Mages.”
When the colleague I’ve mentioned heard me ranting about what Martin has done to fantasy, he replied, “Woah. I never even thought of that. I guess it is fantasy, isn’t it? For some reason, I just never considered it fantasy…”
That is what Martin has done to the genre. It’s not even recognizable as fantasy. While he has undoubtedly introduced tons of people to the genre (Has he? I would argue that the overwhelming majority, if not all, of these people had been introduced to the genre by the Lord of the Rings movies by Peter Jackson), he has butchered and tainted the genre to such an extent that it’s hardly recognizable, even to aficionados.
One aspiring writer (allegedly–I’m not sure he ever wrote more than a few pages) told me that he’d handled it by cranking up the Raunch Dial on his “book” and added more sex and violence. Oh, have no doubt–I have no intention of continuing in the footsteps of the squeaky clean writers from whose ashes I am rising. But I will add nothing for the sake of pandering to people who get off on movies like Hostel. I don’t want their attention. There is rape in my novel. To be precise, there is an allusion to rape, and the strongest allusion is that the woman’s name is Persephone. It is neither described, nor is there a “tasteful” cut to black. The woman is attacked, and we revisit her later with her clothes in tatters; no details about what she endured are ever given. Because there is no need.
None of the female protagonists in my story were made strong by enduring traumatic pasts, either. They were all strong already–the same way that men are allowed to be strong without being required to first endure a ton of bullshit that makes them strong. Queen fucking Shadow is basically a goddess by the time the novel takes place, and while she does have a traumatic past, her suffering was a direct result of things she did in pursuit of power. They were not things that happened to her; they were results of things that she did. Queen Selena might be the strongest female character in that world, and other than Kyle usurping her throne after her father’s death, she endured no bullshit. Drusilia did, but like Shadow also caused her own bullshit. Aradiant–no bullshit past. Calliope, no bullshit past. Vera, the valkyrie who basically gets adopted by one of the groups of protagonists, endured a tragic past (but one that’s only tragic in hindsight; she was happy all the years), but she’s not a symbol of women in fantasy–she is there for the reader, because an ignorant and naive character was necessary in order to drop some exposition.
George Martin knows nothing about any of this. He thinks “I need a strong woman character. So let’s have her start out as idealistic. Then she can get raped. Then she can rebuild herself, and then she’ll be strong!!!!11!!11!1one1!”
Game of Thrones is the glorification of everything ugly in humanity. It is an absolute debasement of the goodness of human beings and violates the most basic principle of literature that the human spirit must always endeavor. In Game of Thrones, the human spirit does not endeavor because it has never existed. It is an anomaly that might appear, quite by accident, here and there, before Martin gets in over his head and screws it all up because, frankly, he doesn’t know how to craft a story.
Martin destroyed the genre that I’ve loved my entire life. He cheapened it and attempted to add in the sex and violence that were needed to pull it from the grave, and he did so in the most tasteless, and classless way possible. He is not interested in good storytelling. If you want good storytelling, read or watch Pillars of the Earth. Seriously–it will show you exactly what good storytelling looks like. If you want smut, read or watch Game of Thrones.
And yes. I’d put the quality of my storytelling against Martin’s any day of the week. As long as the judges aren’t people who beat off to Cannibal Holocaust.
Everything has been said before
Nothing left to say anymore
When it’s all the same, you can
Ask for it by name.
Sex, sex, sex,
And don’t forget the violence.
Blah, blah, blah, got your
Lovey dovey sad and lonely
Stick your stupid slogan in,
Everybody sing along.”
The Golden Age of Grotesque, indeed. Nothing encapsulates that as much as Game of Thrones.
It’s interesting to watch the UK currently going through what could be called its “federalist growing pangs,” especially as an American who (not to brag) has a pretty solid understanding of how states, rights, liberty, and economies work (all 4 of those are much more interwoven than the average person thinks), because we in the United States have already fought that battle. We fought it during the 19th century, and it was called the Civil War.
For those who aren’t aware, slavery was the catalyst to the Civil War, a fact that really can’t be disputed, but it’s not exactly fair to say that it’s the cause of the American Civil War. In reality, States’ Rights and the Tenth Amendment–the question of whether a centralized authority governed a state, or whether the state governed itself–were the cause of the Civil War, and slavery (abhorrent though it was) was merely the catalyst that brought States’ Rights to a boiling point.
Since even before the Constitution was drafted and the Federal Government formed, there was discussion about whether the Federal Government should have the authority to legislate over member states, and, if so, what parameters were acceptable. This is most evident in the Federalist Papers and Anti-Federalist Papers (which I have read, but it’s been years, so forgive me), when Hamilton and Jefferson argued opposing viewpoints. Hamilton, a statist, argued in favor of a stronger Federal Government, while Jefferson argued for states’ rights and self-governance.
It has to be accepted that the two are at odds. For every power the Federal Government has, that is one power that the member-state does not have. If the Federal Government has the authority to determine what is and isn’t marriage, then the people of Mississippi who want to define marriage differently are, in effect, governed by the Federal Government, and not by themselves. While there can obviously be times when this is critical–such as if the state of Mississippi turned Gay Hunting into a year-long hunting season–the question of “when it is critical” is one that was debated extensively by the founders.
While I’m not going to launch into another long tirade about what is and isn’t a right, a few things must be pointed out. First, rights are not granted by governments. Let’s say that you have a box. I attack you and take the box from you. Years later, you get back up, fight back, and reclaim your box. Finally, I say, “Fine. Keep your box, then.”
Did I give you a box?
No, obviously not. That I stopped taking something from you, or that I returned something I had previously taken, is not the same as giving you something. And the course of human history makes it clear that rights are the box, because it’s inescapable that, in the earliest days of homo sapiens’ existence, a person could say and do pretty much anything they wanted. It doesn’t matter how far back we have to go–if we have to go back to the trees of the African plains, then so be it. The fact remains that liberty and rights are the natural state of affairs and that, in the very beginning, we had all rights.
It was not until the invention of the state that rights came under attack, and “come under attack” did they. Fast forward from the first chieftains and tribes to England in the 12th century, and you’ll find a mass of people whose “rights” are stomped upon at every turn; they could not be more unlike the ancient homo sapiens who spoke, thought, and lived freely. After much oppression, the British people came together, rose up, and took the box back with the Magna Carta. They did not then take back the entire box, but they took back a lot of it, and the past 800 years of human history have essentially been the people forcibly taking back more and more of the box.
To assert that rights are granted by a government is to fundamentally misunderstand rights, liberty, and human nature. Being able to speak, think, and act freely is the natural state of affairs. No right can be granted by a government. The government can either restrict a right or acknowledge a right, but it cannot create them. You are thinking of “social privileges,” but not rights. And you can argue all day long that this social privilege or that social privilege should be ubiquitous–that’s fine–but don’t call them rights, because they’re not, and calling them rights obscures your actual point of view.
The Confederate States had 150 years ago the opportunity to double down on the principles of liberty and self-governance that the Federal Government had been cracking down on, virtually since its inception. They did not take this highroad, though, and they merely used states’ rights as a mask to hide the fact that they wanted to keep slaves. To further backup the claim that the issue was never truly slavery and that slavery was merely the catalyst, consider this excerpt from one of Lincoln’s letters, where he reveals that his only concern is keeping the union together (e.g., continuing the encroachment of the Federal Government):
If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it; and if could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it. … What I do about Slavery and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save this Union.
Slavery was merely the mask around which the question of states’ rights was decided. It was always about self-governance versus centralized authority, and the Confederacy’s failure to stand on principles ensured their defeat.
When secession petitions circulated the Internet a few years ago, Obama responded to them by saying that the founders intended the union to be perpetual. This is such a flagrant violation of self-governance that it hardly needs to be addressed, but let’s address it anyway. The founders are dead. Their intentions, their desires, their motives, and their concerns no longer apply to this world, and they certainly do not apply to modern politics, because we are not governed by the dead. The idea that the founders had the right to impose a government upon us that we could never abolish or escape from is abhorrent to the thinking mind. They had no more right to consign us forever to a union than we have to sign our future great grandchildren to a union. The idea is absurd, and that a President of the United States so poorly understands the nature of liberty that he believes it is relevant what dead people wanted is horrifying.
It would be interesting to see a referendum go before the people of Mississippi that asked whether we should withdraw from the union. Of course, there’d be immediate arguments that we’re part of the same landmass (an argument that is ridiculous, since, so is Mexico and so is Canada, yet neither of them are required to be part of the United States), but it would be more interesting to see how it played out and whether a state would even be allowed to secede. I would bet “No.”
Similarly, I don’t think the UK’s referendum will matter. Even if support for withdrawing falls 80%, I don’t think it will be allowed to happen. Either the current UK government will pull some kind of shenanigans (the referendum isn’t legally binding, after all) to wave it away, or the EU will impose itself upon the UK. For whatever reason, despite knowing it for thousands of years, we have yet to apply the very basic truth that no centralized authority has ever allowed one of its members to just leave.
I’ve been pointing out for years that the United States and the European Union are identical in nature and structure, and that we have simply forgotten that. We have forgotten that our own 50 states are states, are individual republics and nations. California, Germany, New York, Texas, Russia–these are all states. Accepting anything less is the equivalent of relinquishing our right to self-governance.
That is the question that now stands before the UK. Are they ready to surrender the idea of self-governance, ostensibly forever, since even the United States, who fought this war 150 years ago, has not reclaimed its right? There are many arguments that put the cart before the horse, especially on the European Court of Human Rights and other matters, most of which are direct products of the UK people, and they argue that pulling away from those will diminish their own standing. What a bizarre concept. If your principles created that institution, then your principles do not rely upon that institution. Another of those things that should never have to be pointed out…
While I do personally think the UK should go with self-governance, there is a huge disconnect between the American mindset and the European mindset–an almost irreconcilable disconnect. The disconnect is almost as severe as the one between Americans and Asians, and it’s caused by the same question: Individual versus Society.
Me, I’ll side with the individual every single time. Even when they’re assholes.
For your amusement, the whole of the quote I pulled is:
I would save the Union. … If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it; and if could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it. … What I do about Slavery and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save this Union.” In this masterful message, Lincoln reaffirmed his support for abolition without apologizing for the pace of change, while also subtly preparing pro-slavery Union loyalists for the announcement to come.
…and it came from http://www.civilwar.org/education/history/emancipation-150/i-would-save-the-union.html .
Pay attention to the author’s remarks. “In this masterful message, Lincoln reaffirmed his support for abolition…”
No, he didn’t. He, like, literally did the exact opposite of that. The only thing he affirmed was his ambivalence for abolition. He affirmed his support for keeping the Union together, and he affirmed that slavery and/or abolition were only means to that end, and that he didn’t care at all which was the one that achieved that end. How can someone be so brainwashed and so thick that they literally read the opposite from what was actually said? Lincoln basically said “I don’t care about slaves. I just want to keep the Union together, and I’ll do whatever is necessary to ensure that.” And from that, this dumbass takes away Lincoln’s affirmation for abolition???
I meant to post this several days ago. I’m sorry that I didn’t. This one focuses on using Obamacare as its example, and I’m posting it without looking at it further. Keep in mind my addendum to the previous entry in this series–these were written as I was still fleshing out my ideas on anarchy and free market principles. Basically, I know more now than I did then, about how economy works and how it is merely the result of humans acting, hence why Mises called his magnum opus “Human Action.”
I did fix the links, though. And just wanted to say… “Ah. The days before I had a consistent policy for using bold and italics, and occasionally went a bit overboard on emphasis… Good times. ;)”
Before we get too deeply into this, we must first discuss a few very basic [I promise: they’re basic] economic principles regarding Supply and Demand, because the Affordable Care Act (colloquially, Obamacare) relies on your ignorance regarding basic economic laws. If the masses understood these basic economic principles, the Affordable Care Act would have no chance of reaching the American People, because it can be demonstrated in just a few minutes that sound and proven economic principles predict with certainty that Obamacare will be a complete failure. It has no chance of success, because, in order to succeed, Obamacare requires that these basic, sound, and proven economic principles be wrong–and they’ve been known for a very long time to be right.
These four basic laws are:
If demand increases and supply remains unchanged, a shortage occurs, leading to a higher equilibrium price.
If demand decreases and supply remains unchanged, a surplus occurs, leading to a lower equilibrium price.
If demand remains unchanged and supply increases, a surplus occurs, leading to a lower equilibrium price.
If demand remains unchanged and supply decreases, a shortage occurs, leading to a higher equilibrium price.
I truly hope you understand these 4 principles, because there isn’t much I can do to explain them. They’re self-explanatory, and it’s very difficult to explain things that are self-explanatory. If the demand for health care increases (i.e., more people want to go to the doctor) and the supply of health care remains the same (i.e., there aren’t any new doctors added to the health care system), then a shortage occurs and prices rise. If there are 100 people who want to go see 10 doctors at $100 per visit, then if we increase those 100 people to 150 people (increasing demand) but leave only 10 doctors in the system, then there are still only 10 doctors to go around the increased number of people. Instead of 100 people using 10 doctors, there are now 150 people using 10 doctors. So what will happen as a result of this increase in the Demand? If supply does not increase, then Doctors will raise their prices. This is because higher prices lower demand, another foundational principle of economics. There may be 150 people wanting to see a doctor if they only have to pay $100, but if they have to pay $200 to see a doctor, some portion of those 150 will decide they don’t want to see a doctor–Demand will, therefore, lower.
If, however, no new doctors are added to the system (supply does not increase) and doctors cannot raise prices to offset the increased demand, then a severe shortage occurs, because there is now a Price Ceiling in place, and Price Ceilings always create Shortages and invoke the rationing of the good in question. When during World War 2, the Government fixed the price of Gasoline, gas station owners could not raise their prices and had to consider selling gasoline at prices lower than what the Market demanded because of the increased Demand and the decreased Supply. Since the same amount of people still wanted gasoline but the supply of gasoline had lowered, the only free market course was to raise prices, but the Government made doing that illegal. People continued buying gas, since higher prices didn’t decrease demand, and there were shortages as a result of the Price Ceiling (“You can’t raise the price beyond X!”).
Now–I know what you’re thinking. “What the fuck, I/E? Your blog is supposed to be accessible!” But I promise that the graph isn’t as complicated as it initially looks. First, there is the blue curve–S. Obviously, that’s the Supply line. There are two red lines–D1 and D2. These are the Demand curves. We’re assuming in this graph that the Demand for the good increases. Let’s use Pringles as an examples. For whatever reason, the Supply of Pringles cannot increase except on the Supply line. It cannot increase as a result of increased Demand; there cannot be a shift in aggregate Supply (sorry about that; the term was unavoidable). So the Pringles factory can only produce a number of Pringles that falls on the Supply line; the Supply line cannot move.
Now we’re going to look at Demand1–many people want Pringles. But, suddenly and because of a new hot flavor of Pringles chips, the Demand for Pringles increases (adding a new flavor does not increase the Supply of Pringles, because in order to make the new flavor, they had to decrease the amount they were making of other flavors).
Look back to the graph at P1 and Q1. At x amount of Demand, as demonstrated by D1, the Price of Pringles will be lower and the Quantity sold by the Pringles company will be higher (because Demand is higher and because Supply can only increase along the curve–adding new factories would shift the curve, and that isn’t a possibility at the moment). This makes sense. Demand increases, so Pringles sells more chips and they also raise their prices. We’d all expect this to be the case.
And when we increase the Demand by moving to D2, the Supply increases according to the Supply curve. Note that these are notstraight lines. They are curves, which means that the Supply will never increase exactly in proportion to the increased Demand. Supply will always, because of the arcs, decrease less than would correspond to the increase in Demand. If these were straight lines, then if Demand increased, Supply would increase by an amount exactly in proportion to the increase in Demand. But economics never deals with straight lines, because straight lines require that conditions be perfect, that the amount of unutilized resources simply pop into existence the moment they are needed and back out of existence when they are not. This is never the case in the real world (one of the main flaws of Keynesian economics is that it, more often than not, requires absolutely perfect market conditions that are never reflected in the real world). The Supply increases on a curve because, if 50 people can produce 5000 cans of pringles, it doesn’t necessarily mean that 60 people will produce 6,000 cans of Pringles–it is far more likely that increasing the labor force to 60 will only increase the “cans of pringles” by 800 or so. As size grows, previous levels of efficiency become harder to maintain and it becomes impossible to get the same Input>Output yields.
This is why economics often deals with Marginal increases and Marginal decreases. It is the observation that, if 50 people make 5000 cans of Pringles, then it isn’t true that 60 people will make 6000 cans of Pringles; it’s true that 60 people will make between 5000 and 6000 cans of Pringles, and the number they actually make will fall in the upper range of averages. If, however, we double the workforce it also doesn’t mean that 100 people will make 10000 cans of Pringles; in fact, because increasing Input doesn’t decrease Output proportionally, we would predict that doubling the Input (via doubling the workforce, which isn’t exactly “doubling Input,” but let’s keep it simple) won’t necessarily double the Output; we’d expect 100 people to make about 8000 cans of Pringles if 50 people make 5000 cans.
Has this gotten too complicated? I’m worried that it has.
Back to the graph. So we find that even if we can increase Supply along its curve (by introducing more workers to the Pringles factory), it won’t raise in an amount exactly in proportion to the increase in Demand. If Demand doubles from 5000 people wanting Pringles to 10000 people wanting Pringles, if 50 workers produce 5000 cans of Pringles and we know that doubling the input to 100 workers will not yield 10000 cans of Pringles, then we know that to offset the increase in Demand, we must do more than double the Input. If 50 workers make 5000 cans and 100 workers will make about 800 cans, then we’ll actually need to roughly triple the workforce to 150 people to produce those 10000 cans.
Suddenly Pringles is paying three times the amount they were to meet a Demand which has only doubled. If Pringles pays each worker $10 an hour, then they were paying out $500 to an hour to meet Demand1. But when Demand doubles to D2, Pringles will need roughly three times the number of workers (actually, between 2x and 3x, but we’re using 3x because anything over 2x becomes a loss) and will need to pay out $1500 an hour to make a Supply which equals Demand2. But Demand2 doesn’t earn them enough money to meet the increased expenses of tripling production to meet an increased Demand–for obvious reasons. If Pringles has to suddenly pay 3 times the amount of money they were paying before but they’re only earning 2 times the amount of money they were before, then Pringles is suddenly losing money.
So it’s not only impossible, along given Supply curves (without the Supply line itself moving, which we’ll look at in a moment), for Pringles to meet an increase in Demand, it’s also not even economically viable. Pringles would lose money if they attempted to please everyone by meeting the increased Demand by a corresponding increase in Supply. Instead, the Free Market would have the price per can of Pringles rise, the Supply of Pringles increase somewhat, and the quantity of Pringles sold to increase. But because of the increased Price, Demand will actually go back down, as many people don’t want to try the new flavor of Pringles badly enough to pay $3 per can when the old price was $2.25.
That’s the best I can do in explaining this. I hope you grasp it.
An Increase In Supply
Calm down. It’s the same thing as the previous graph with the difference that there are now two Supply lines. Here we are assuming that Pringles isn’t restricted to its current amount of “resources” (which we exempted the labor force from in the previous example, allowing that Pringles could still hire more workers to satisfy moving along the Supply curve–there must be some resource which is currently underutilized in order for anything to move along a given Supply line); we are asserting that Pringles can do whatever it takes to increase its supply, which is, I hope you’ll see, a much more accurate reflection of the real world. Pringles can hire new people, invest in new production technologies, open more factories, and do all sorts of creative things to meet an increase in Demand. In short, in the real world, Pringles isn’t restricted to a given Supply line; they can move the line. And, moreover, because we’re allowing that the Supply line can be moved, you’ll notice that we are now using straight lines. We’re assuming that Pringles won’t run out of potatoes, land on which to build new factories, or workers to be hired. These assumptions may or may not be accurate, but we’re going to assume that all resources Pringles would need currently exist and are plentiful but underutilized.
Let’s imagine that Demand increases from D1 to D. Let’s also assume that Pringles can rise to the challenge presented by this increased Demand and do whatever is necessary to meet it. You’ll see that the old level of Demand (D1) meets the old Supply (S) at a Price lower than P and at a Quantity lower than Q. This means that, with the old Demand, people aren’t buying as many Pringles (which makes sense, as the Demand is lower) and that the price of a can of Pringles is also lower (which also makes sense, as people don’t want them as badly). When we increase the Demand and keep Supply the same, we move to using the D line but we still use the S line; we do not use S1. This means that the price per can of Pringles will go up and the number of cans of Pringles sold will go up.
In order to meet the increased Demand, though, Pringles would move its Supply from S to S1–since doing so would increase the amount of money they were making (meeting a Demand yields money, after all). When S changes to S1 and D stays as high as it was (having already moved from D1 to D), the quantity of cans sold becomes an amount almost exactly in proportion to the quantity of cans sold at the old price, the old supply, and the old Demand. You’ll notice, however, that Q1 passes just slightly to the left of the nexus of D1 and S; the price per can is just slightly higher than an exact proportion to the nexus of S and D1 and the number of cans sold is just slightly lower than an exact proportion to the nexus of S and D1. This is why we don’t have to curve lines when we can freely move Supply and Demand; it happens naturally. Just as, in our previous example, doubling the workforce won’t necessary double the number of cans produced, so will moving the Supply line to account for the increased Demand not necessarily result in a price that is exactly in proportion to the old Supply and Demand. Maybe a can is now $.35 per ounce while originally it was $.32 per ounce.
In short, buying a can of Pringles won’t be “as good a deal” as it was before the increased Demand and Supply; it will be a slightly worse deal. And what would happen if we shifted the Supply from S to S1 while staying on the old Demand of D1? What would happen if Pringles suddenly opened new factories, hired new workers, used a new production technology, or some other method of “moving the Supply line” but they did this of their own accord and without any change in Demand?
We’re now looking at S1 and D, but we’re also assuming that D won’t move along its line, that no matter what happens, the Demand for Pringles won’t change at all. We’re not assuming that more people can be made to Demand Pringles (through marketing, word of mouth, and advertising), and we’re not assuming that people can be made to Demand Pringles more than they already do (also something that would be accomplished through marketing, word of mouth, and advertising). Instead, we’re assuming that a certain number of people want Pringles a specific level of “badly” and that nothing is going to change that. D meets S at this location, where the Supply corresponds to the Demand. But Pringles has suddenly increased the supply without regard to Demand. What happens? We have to move the Demand line to account for this, and we’d have to shift it to the left, so we’re now looking at a line not on the graph. Demand hasn’t changed, but the Supply has, so we must shift the Demand line to the left. We can use D1 for this.
As you can see, Pringles fucked up majorly. In order to sell the increased Supply, the price must be lowered substantially. Basically we have to shift the Demand line to the left. Don’t think of D1 as a change in Demand; think of it as the Demand staying the same but its proportion to the Supply changing. If Demand is 50 and Supply is 100, then the ratio is 1:2. If Demand stays at 50 but Supply changes to 150, then the ratio is 1:3. Demand hasn’t changed, but its relation to Supply has. That is why we must move the line to the left. This is also why we must move the Supply line, as done above, when Demand increases–the ratio between Demand and Supply has changed.
OMG, I’m So Bored
Sorry. I don’t know–I find this topic interesting. I’ve noticed that it’s a tendency of people to become bored with a topic when they do not understand the topic. I’ve noticed that when people become bored with Physics discussions, it’s usually because the conversation has become too advanced or too technical for their grasp; I’ve noticed that when people become bored with Economics discussions, it’s usually because the conversation has become too advanced or too technical for their grasp. If this stuff bores you, I recommend you either taking a few Economics classes at your local college or reading a few books on the subject. And if what you find bores you, start smaller and simpler. Don’t discard the subject entirely; it’s interesting enough to have fascinated numerous people to the point where they devote their entire lives to the subject. There must, then, be something interesting about it.
What the Fuck Does This Have To Do With Obamacare?
In some ways, Obamacare has no impact on Supply and Demand. Obamacare won’t suddenly make anyone want to go to the doctor and it won’t suddenly increase the number of doctors in the system. It will, however, increase Demand for health care because it is making health care a viable option for some 30,000,000 people. We dealt with much smaller numbers above, but it doesn’t matter. What happens when you increase Demand by 30,000,000 but don’t change Supply to account for the increased Demand? That’s right: prices rise. If, again, we have 100 people wanting to go to the doctor now and we have only 10 doctors, then the ratio is 10:1. If we increase it to 150 people wanting to go to the doctor without adding even ONE new doctor to the system, then we have changed the ratio to 15:1. And then prices must rise.
Increasing the amount of people wanting to go to the doctor by thirty million without adding even one doctor to a system that already is known to have too few doctors will only raise the cost of health care and will only decrease the health care’s quality. I never mentioned quality above because “the quality of Pringles” isn’t really an issue; Pringles are mass-produced. Health care is not. Quality can vary wildly from one doctor to the next, and if you increase the Demand without increasing the Supply, it is impossible for any doctor to maintain the Quality they were able to maintain with the old Supply:Demand ratio. Price is not the only thing impacted by an increase in Demand without an increase in Supply. For all services (this is also true of many goods, particularly those that aren’t mass produced), an increase in Demand without an increase in Supply will result in higher prices and lower quality.
All of Duck Dynasty’s duck calls are made by hand. Let’s consider for a moment that they cannot hire new employees to reflect that we can’t simply manufacture new doctors. We can’t. The best we can do is motivate people to become medical doctors, but that is an eight year investment, resulting in an eight year lag between a rise in Demand and a corresponding rise in Supply, and that is if we somehow managed to entice people into becoming medical doctors (which we can’t and won’t do). So we have to assume that they cannot simply bring in new people to meet an increase in Demand (for Duck Dynasty, perhaps there aren’t any more bearded rednecks to hire).
Basically, we cannot increase the Supply of health care. We can’t. Doctors are already known to be overworked and stretched too thin–hence people waiting in Emergency rooms for hours at a time. …Actually, we can increase the raw Supply of health care, but we can only do this by drastically lowering the Quality of healthcare received. We can only increase the Supply of health care by changing doctors from 5 minute visits which charge you $120 to 2 minute visits that charge you $180. We can only increase the Supply of health care, without adding new doctors, but having hospitals and general practices behave exactly as the DMV: draw a number, “NEXT!”
Anyway, so let’s say that someone suddenly wants the Duck Dynasty guys to multiply their orders by ten. This actually happened in one episode, and they responded by enlisting the help of the community. They increased their Supply to correspond to the new Demand by bringing in help. But let’s assume that this isn’t possible, since, after all, we can’t simply “bring in help” to increase the Supply of healthcare–the best we can do is entice people to become medical doctors which will, obviously take 8 to 10 years to yield any results (and by then Demand will have increased even more, since Populations are always growing, though this also theoretically increases the Supply at a given ratio… but since we’re in the process of fucking up that ratio with Obamacare by increasing Demand and not changing Supply, this whole parenthetical statement is irrelevant).
So what do the Duck Dynasty guys do if they need to increase their production 1000% and they can’t bring in any help to do that? What happens when the amount of productive resources (labor) they have stays the same but Demand increases by a factor of 10? They can’t simply speed up their conveyor belts (though they tried this in the episode, and it worked until they reverted to their Kindergartener mindsets… I swear to god one of them got in a canoe on the conveyor belt and fully intended to ride it off the edge–he almost certainly would have broken something if the CEO hadn’t come back there and stopped them). They can work faster and harder, but can they work faster and harder enough? Probably not. To assume that they can increase production by a factor of 10 is to assume that they are majorly underutilized, and if they were that inefficient, then the Free Market would have put them out of business long ago. It should be noted that the demand for duck calls, the handmade products, did not increase by a factor of 10; the random shit like t-shirts, mugs, and stuff did–the mass produced items had their Demand increased by a factor of 10; I don’t think the demand for duck calls changed at all… In fact, I’m not convinced that they sell very many duck calls at all. They don’t seem to earn much money from their actual duck call business; they make most of their money from the show and from related merchandise like t-shirts. Just go to Wal-Mart sometime. Duck Dynasty is the new Angry Birds.
Anyway, if they do have to increase their production of handmade duck calls by a factor of 10 and they can’t bring in any outside help to do that, what happens? They work much faster to try to meet the increased Demand. Unless they were horrendously inefficient and underutilized in the first place (which they are, but not in a way that their productivity isn’t 10% of what it could be–I would wager it’s more like 30% of what it could be). To assume that they are underutilized to a degree of 10% is to make an absolutely ridiculous assumption; show or not, the free market would have crushed that level of inefficiency long before they ever became millionaires. The Free Market, which achieves its ends through competition, abhors inefficiency.
To suddenly make 10 times the amount of handmade products which they were previously making, the quality on the products would have to decrease. They wouldn’t have time to carefully test each one. They wouldn’t have time to carefully craft each one. They’d work at a break-neck pace and quality would suffer as a result. Do any task. Now attempt to do that same task ten times in the same amount of time it took you to do it once. Yeah.
The only way to increase a supply to meet an increased demand without bringing in new resources is to raise prices and lower quality. Snap your fingers 60 times in one minute. Now snap your fingers 600 times in one minute. Were you able to do it? How “good” were your snaps when you attempted to snap your fingers 10 times as fast as you were before? If you had to snap only 60 times in one minute, then you could produce nice, loud, and ringing snaps, one per second. But if you had to do ten times that, you’d have to snap your fingers 10 times per second. If you somehow managed to do that, by the time you were 30 seconds in, you’d be exhausted. Economic principles are not difficult to understand.
Many people try to make them out to be very complicated and difficult to grasp, but this is intellectual dishonesty; these people want to deliberately mislead you and keep you ignorant so that you don’t realize that what they’re proposing is absolute nonsense.
And, believe it or not, snapping is a good demonstration of the economic principles we’re discussing. We have a Demand for snaps, and I want 60 of them by the end of a full minute. So you Supply those 60 finger snaps, and generally give me good quality snaps of your fingers.* But if Demand increases… A factor of 10 is a bit unreal. Let’s increase it only by a factor of 3. Snap your fingers 180 times in a minute. Demand has increased to 180 and you, without bringing in any outside help (someone to snap with you, adding to your total to “give me”), are trying to increase the Supply to meet that increased Demand. If you manage to do it, the quality of your snaps will still be substantially lower than the quality of your slower, more careful snaps.
And it’s HEALTH CARE of which we’re lowing the quality. We’re not lowering the quality of duck calls or someone’s snaps of their fingers. We’re lowering the quality of health care at a time when the quality of health care is already abominable. What good will it do these 30,000,000 to be given health care when the quality of that health care has decreased to the point of barely being useful? Already we wait for hours in Emergency rooms. Already we wait for an hour in the lobby of a doctor’s office, then an hour in a room alone, then we have about 5 minutes with the doctor–who writes us a prescription for some combination of: painkillers, barbituates, and antiobiotics–and then we leave, having paid the doctor roughly $100 for that “service.”
Increasing the number of people going to the doctor will only increase the time we spend waiting in the lobby, increase the time we spend waiting in a room alone, decrease the amount of time we spend with the doctor, and increase the amount of money we have to pay to experience the whole bizarre process.
Yeah, But… Those 30,000,000 People NEED Health Care, I/E. We Can’t Let Them…
No, we can’t let them go without health care. We can’t let them die of diseases that could have been prevented because they couldn’t afford a doctor visit to receive the vaccine. We can’t let them die of chronic illnesses that could have been curbed if the illness had been discovered sooner. But how is increasing waiting times, decreasing the amount of time with the doctor, and raising the prices for virtually everyone else (and raising insurance costs–my sister’s health insurance cost more than DOUBLED because of Obamacare…) going to help?
It isn’t, and this is tragic because there are better solutions. There are much better solutions.
Yes, I believe that individuals should have the right to seek health care.
No, I do not believe that we have the right to force individuals to seek health care (except in the case of child abuse and negligence).
No, I do not believe that we have the right to force doctors to lose money by not charging enough or by making them treat people who can’t pay.
Yes, I’m aware of the Hippocratic Oath and the tendency of Doctors before the existence of Medicare and Medicaid to give discounted treatment to the poor and to volunteer their time at free medical clinics.** Before State-run health insurance schemes, almost every doctor gave discounts or free treatment to the poor and elderly–just like most corporations have a 10% Senior Citizen’s discount even though the Government isn’t forcing them to…
Yes, I worry that it’s only a matter of time before corporations mentioned above are being forced to give 10% discounts to Senior Citizens. It may very well come to pass that the Government steps in and forces businesses to do this. A generation or two later, everyone will have completely forgotten that this law isn’t necessary and that most corporations gave a 10% discount long before the Government stepped in and forced them to do it.
No, I don’t think that the Affordable Care Act is going to do any good to help a system that is already primed to collapse, and this blog demonstrates the unimpeachable economic principles for me thinking this. If you want to demonstrate that the Affordable Care Act can be successful to any degree, then you must demonstrate how we can increase Demand without increasing Supply and Prices and lowering Quality. This, however, cannot be demonstrated because it’s absurd in the highest degree. It’s impossible and it flies in the face of everything we know about economics.
The State is relying on the ignorance of the masses regarding basic economics. If the masses knew anything about the basic laws of Supply and Demand, then the masses would understand that Obamacare has no chance of succeeding in “helping” the health care crisis in our nation. The first 4 principles found at the start of this blog demonstrate unequivocally that the Affordable Care Act cannot work. It literally cannot. Not “will not.” CAN not. It is an economical impossibility. And this is obvious. If we were taught Economics in high school, then the Affordable Care Act would have had no chance of being passed.*^ Actually, a lot of things would be and wouldn’t be if we had been properly taught Economics in high school instead of four years of grammar and English classes. Fuck, man. Once you start the First Grade, you’ll have an English class every year until you graduate high school. Considering how infrequently most people write, this is obnoxious, especially since we could spend that time with BETTER and more important subjects. English III and English IV should have been electives, and a full-year Economics class and a full-year Newtonian Physics class should have replaced them. If you don’t have the English language down by the time you’re passing the 10th grade, then two more years of the same subject is NOT going to help you.
We wouldn’t allow the EPA unilateral power, and we wouldn’t allow it or any other government or pseudo-government organization to be filled with non-elected officials. We wouldn’t allow a fiat currency. We wouldn’t allow the government to give us worthless sheets of paper, tell us they’re valuable, and then systematically steal all our money via inflation and the devaluation of the currency. We would require that Congress do as the Constitution commands:
The Congress shall have power… [t]o coin money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign coin, and fix the standard of weights and measures… [emphasis added]
Nowhere in the Constitution is Congress given the power to delegate its powers and responsibilities to other organizations. The Constitution does not give Congress the power to give a coalition of privately owned banks the right to make our money. And this is common sense. Just think about it. If your wife gives you permission to have sex with her, you can’t delegate that privelege to someone else. You can’t say, “Well, you gave me permission to have sex with you, but… I’m going to let Bob here do that.” Things just don’t work that way. Your wife would divorce you if you tried some shit like that. And we’re the wife, giving Congress the permission to have sex with us–and Congress said, “Well, you gave us permission, but we’re going to let someone else do it.” “Um, no,” the wife would say. “I didn’t consent to that.” Neither did we consent to allow Congress to delegate its powers to non-elected organizations, especially not the power to make our money, which necessarily controls our entire economy.
Plus, the Constitution gives Congress the power to “coin” money. We are not arguing semantics here. Congress was not given the power to print money, and “printing money” is not the same as “coining money.” The Founders would never have consented to allowing Congress to print money, because the dangers and problems of paper money have been known for thousands of years. Every nation that has used paper currency has experienced hyperinflation, has overextended its reserves, and has promptly collapsed. There has never been an exception to this. Nations that existed for centuries using gold and silver coins of specific weights collapsed shortly after switching to a fiat (paper) currency. Worse still, though many Americans do not know it, we are NOT on a gold standard. The Dollar is NOT backed by gold or silver. It is JUST a sheet of paper. It has no value external to how much of it is in circulation and whether anyone will accept it as payment.
The reason Congress had the power to regulate the value of coins and fix the standards of weights? To prevent people from making coins that are of a lower purity and to prevent people from clipping off small portions of coins to stretch them further (although, to some extent, this would be an acceptable and legitimate practice, as long as one didn’t try to pass off a “clipped coin” as an unclipped coin). Congress had the responsibility of making gold and silver coins for us to use and fixing (and making it known) the value of those coins by “fluffing” the coins out with less-precious metals. We would end up with a $1 coin not because we had a tiny little coin of gold but because we’d have a tiny amount of (real) gold covering a nickel-based coin. How much gold a $1 coin contained would be fixed and, if the coin was valued as a “5 gram gold coin” rather than being valued as a “$1 gold coin,” then inflation would be impossible. After all, 5 grams is always 5 grams.
This is why people advocate not just a return to the gold standard but a return to a commodity currency which has no arbitrary value attached to it. We advocate the use of gold and silver coins that are measured by the weight of the precious metal they contain, not some random value. We advocate using a coin that has 5 grams of gold, a coin that has 5 grams of silver, a coin that has 10 grams of gold, a coin that has 10 grams of silver, a coin that has 50 grams of gold, and so on… And the amount of grams of silver it would take to equal 5 grams of gold would be decided explicitly by the Free Market, not by Congress (as any attempt to fix this price manually would be price fixing and wouldn’t ever work–just like Congress’s attempts to fix the price of gasoline have never worked). If Congress set the exchange rate too high (requiring too much silver to get a certain amount of gold), then no one would ever want the silver coins because we wouldn’t consider them as valuable as gold coins. If Congress set the exchange rate too low (requiring not enough silver to get a certain amount of gold), then no one would want the gold coins because we wouldn’t consider them as valuable as the silver coins. Congress would have to hit the Goldilocks proportion perfectly, and since the amount of coins in the system would change constantly and could change drastically very quickly, the exchange rate would constantly be out of balance, making gold coins better one day and silver coins better the next and then gold coins much better the next… It wouldn’t be consistent and people would hate it. That’s why only the Free Market can do these things. People will automatically set an exchange rate that automatically corresponds to real-world conditions, and Congressional attempts to manually set an exchange rate would always be lower or higher than the one the People would set according to the Free Market, resulting in the imbalance and silliness I described.
But by using coins that are fixed as weights that demonstrate the purity of the coin, we don’t have to worry much about inflation. A five gram gold coin will always be a 5 gram gold coin and a 100 gram gold coin will always be a 100 gram gold coin. The only way that inflation could happen using commodity currencies is for the amount of that metal to actually increase, and there’s a limited quantity of gold and silver in the world. We would reach a point where inflation could no longer happen. And ALL economists have stopped spouting the nonsense that “Some inflation is good.” That argument has been thoroughly shredded and debunked, and if I remember correctly, that’s why Friedrich Hayek, the incredible successor to Mises, won the Nobel Prize in 1974.
Inflation is bad because if you insert more money into any given economy, it makes all the money in circulation worth less than it was before. If there are $1000 in circulation in a town and we suddenly put $1000 more into circulation, then every single dollar is worth half of what it was before; each dollar will only buy half of what it bought before. If a loaf of bread cost 25 cents before the inflation, then it will cost 50 cents after the inflation. This means that people who have retired and who have no way of gaining more money just had half of all their money stolen by inflation. This is the main reason the elderly in the U.S. are suffering so much: many of them have had to get jobs in order to bring in money because a portion of the money that had in their retirement account was stolen by inflation. I’ll never forget the first time I saw a 70ish year old woman working at a Wendy’s. FOR SHAME, AMERICA.
Do something about this. We’ve forced the elderly to come out of retirement and get low-paying, degrading, and humiliating jobs to cover the losses they incurred by monetary inflation and by the shenanigans which caused that inflation. We should be ashamed of ourselves. People who don’t have an income are those who are most affected by the effects of Inflation. That’s the elderly, America. When we debase the currency, we are hurting our grandparents and great grandparents more than we’re hurting anyone else. We should be thoroughly ashamed of ourselves for allowing this to happen.
Protect our elderly. And we can protect them by allowing them to accrue money that can’t be devalued and stolen by inflation. If you want to talk about supporting Medicare and Social Security to “help the old people,” then you should recognize that the single best thing we could do for the retired and for the nearly retired–and for everyone, really, since everyone is going to retire on money they saved up eventually–is use a currency that cannot be inflated to cover up the shenanigans of giant corporations. The bailouts hurt Gran-Gran the most. Gran-Gran had to get a job because of the bailouts. Shame on you. Fucking shame on you.
Obamacare and Economic Growth
Okay, I went really far off topic. But my point in all of this is that we cannot legislate our way into a growing economy. So often during Romney’s campaign I heard people say, “I agree with Romney. What we need to do is grow the economy.” And they had no idea what in the hell they were talking about. In general, they were discussing “growing the economy” as a way to negate the harmful effects of inflation, but the only way they could “grow the economy” would be with subsidies, grants, bailouts, and other attempts to pour resources into the system by pouring more money into the system.
There are only two ways to “grow an economy.” One can do nothing and let the Free Market and competition create wealth. Or one can give out subsidies, grants, bailouts, and other things in attempt to “jumpstart” the vehicle. But the vehicle broke down because of all the subsidies, grants, bailouts, and other things that we poured into it. Inflation caused the Recession; inflation was at the root of the housing bubble and is collapse, at the root of the derivatives market, and at the root of the toxic asset bubbles. Because the Fed held the interest rates on their loans (and loans from one bank to another) so low, it created the illusion that wealth was plentiful and no one minded loaning out money; in fact, loaning out money was a positive thing for banks. Because of the Fractional Reserve System, every time a bank loans money, 90% of that is created out of thin air. This causes inflation.
In a Fractional Reserve System, a bank only has to keep a certain percentage of its assets; it only has to have a certain percentage of assets to back up its debts. In the U.S. System, that percentage is only 10. Did you see the film, “It’s a Wonderful Life”? This is what allows runs to happen on banks. Banks loan out the money you give them, so when everyone panics and demands their money back, it is learned that the bank… doesn’t actually still have your money because they loaned it someone else. If a bank has had $2,000 deposited into it, then it can loan out $18,000. Obviously, the bank doesn’t have $18,000. It literally just creates it out of thin air the moment the money is loaned out. That is a fact which even the Federal Reserve admits. That’s what Fractional Reserve means; that a bank must hold a fraction of its assets in reserve. So after the bank loans out this $20,000 and keeps the $2,000 in its ledgers (because of withdrawals from accounts, the bank will occasionally have to borrow money to make up the difference and bring its reserve back up to 10%–the bank borrows this money from another bank, and that other bank–you guessed it–simply makes that money up out of thin air, too), one thing comes to mind. People have to pay back money they borrow. And they do. The bank has loaned out $18,000 and has kept $2,000 (occasionally borrowing from other banks, which are doing the very same thing), and now the people they loaned all that money to have paid it “back” to the bank. So the bank now has $20,000 (more, actually, because the bank also charged Interest on the loans). What can the bank then do with that $20,000? Keep it in reserve and loan out $180,000!
We’re literally paying banks “back” money that they didn’t loan us because the money did not exist until we paid it back. Banks have been sued over this–and the banks have lost the case. When the First Bank of Montgomery foreclosed on Jerome Daley’s home, he got a lawyer and sued the bank, saying that the contract he had with the bank required both parties to put up a legitimate form of property–Jerome would put up the house and the bank would put up the money. But Jerome alleged that the bank did not put up a legitimate form of property and that the bank didn’t put up anything at all–it just made up money out of thin air, said that it had that money, and gave Jerome this money that didn’t exist. And Jerome won the case. The judge decreed that the bank did not put up a legitimate form of property and that the bank did simply create the money out of thin air. Now, since this happened decades ago, there’s no doubt that the banks learned from the case and modified their contracts accordingly, to prevent anyone else from refusing to “pay back” money that they “borrowed.” So this almost certainly wouldn’t work today, and I wouldn’t recommend trying it. Especially since banks are much more powerful and entrenched than they were in Jerome’s day, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a judge who will give you a fair ruling. You also won’t find a judge who will give you a fair ruling if you fight the IRS, even though the IRS requires you to give up your Fifth Amendment right, even though the IRS is illegal, even though the Sixteenth Amendment was never ratified, and even though there is no law on the books which requires anyone to pay taxes. These are all facts, and they will all be discarded by judges, so I don’t recommend not paying the IRS either… Though you shouldn’t, because it’s illegal and unconstitutional for them to make you give up your Fifth Amendment right and since the Sixteenth Amendment was never ratified, thus the Federal Government cannot levy any direct or unapportioned taxes like the Income Tax. But don’t try it. I’m not encouraging you to fight the system in this matter; I’m only saying that the system is cheating.
None of these things can cause real economic growth. They can cause the illusion of economic growth, and certainly some investments can yield pay-offs and rewards. If investment didn’t work, the stock exchange wouldn’t exist. But the Government has no right to steal from us to invest in this thing or that thing, especially since We the People won’t be given any pay-off or reward from the investment. But the Government isn’t supposed to be in the business of trying to make a profit… Moreover, all of these “investments” are paid with money that is created out of thin air and then repaid by the American People. The Government doesn’t make Dollars; the Government borrows money from the Federal Reserve Bank. Don’t let the name fool you; it’s no more part of the government than is Federal Express. The Federal Reserve Bank is a coalition and cartel run by twelve privately owned banks and receives no oversight from Congress, reports to Congress only a few times a year and isn’t accountable for anything, and has never been audited. The restrictions placed on Congress in examining the actions of the Federal Reserve are insane when you consider how powerful the dollar is and how much of an impact it has on our daily lives. In “End the Fed,” Ron Paul notes that the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 shows that:
Audits of the Federal Reserve Board and Federal Reserve Banks may not include:
Transactions for or with a foreign Central Bank [because we did pass a law a few years ago that allowed us to marginally audit the Fed, we learned that the Fed (short for “Federal Reserve Bank”) had been propping up the dictator of Libya], government of a foreign country [we also learned that the Fed was propping up numerous other dictatorial governments], or non-private international financing organization [such as the WTO and the World Bank];
Deliberations, decisions, or actions on monetary matters [which is 99% of what the Fed does…], including discount window operations, reserves of member banks, securities credit, interest on deposits, and open market operations [basically, we can’t audit anything they actually do];
Transactions made under the direction of the Federal Open Market Committee; or a part of a discussion or communication among or between members of the Board of Governors and officers and employees of the Federal Reserve System related to clauses (1) — (3) of this subsection [basically we can’t wiretap them even if we get a warrant… The Fed’s privacy is better protected than the privacy of Americans].
So other than the minute pieces of information the Fed voluntarily gives at its Congressional reports, which is a very small part of the actual information, we generally have no fucking clue what the Fed is up to. We have given them full power over our currency, and then we relinquished any authority to keep tabs on them.
Money Is Not Wealth
Pouring more money into any economy will not create wealth. As I mentioned above, if a gallon of milk costs 25 cents when there is $1,000 in circulation, then putting a total of $2,000 in circulation will not create wealth–it will only devalue the existing $1,000 and make the lives harder of anyone who has retired or who has no income. It certainly won’t create wealth.
A currency is just a system of measurement. It’s critical to remember this. A currency is how we measure the value of our productivity and the value of our resources and products. That’s all it is. Changing the value of a dollar won’t create wealth, and this is all that pouring money into an economy does; it only changes the value of a dollar. If you’ve got a pile of wood, then no matter what you measure it with, you won’t ever have more or less wood. The measuring system which you use will have no impact on how much wood is actually there. You could use inches, centimeters, yards, or a system you make up–none of it will change the amount of wood in the pile. You can even increase the “value” of an inch by doubling an inch’s size–but that won’t change the amount of wood in the pile. You can decrease the “value” of an inch by halving an inch’s size–but that won’t change the amount of wood in the pile. Ultimately, people who think we can grow the economy with grants, subsidies, and bailouts believe that we can change the value of an inch and somehow get more or less wood. But the amount of wood never changes. The only way to change the amount of wood is to get rid of some of it or to add some more wood to it; changing your measurement system will not change the amount of wood.
And the way we change the amount of wood in the pile that is our economy is by letting competition take over. Competition creates wealth. Competition creates efficiency, skilled workers, incentives, creativity, problem-solving, and, ultimately, wealth. The only way to “grow the economy” is to allow competition to be enhanced. And how can we enhance competition in the United States economy? Simple: we get rid of the primary factors that are detrimental to competition: Government Regulations. We let the Free Market take over. If a company pollutes too much or offers bad service or any other thing, then, in a Free Market, people would stop using that company. If there was competition, they wouldn’t be forced to use that company and “voting with their wallet” could actually MEAN something. But as long as we’re limiting competition with government regulations, voting with a wallet has no real impact. We don’t need the Government to make Texaco stop polluting (I don’t know if Texaco has a problem polluting or not). Society and the Free Market can do that all by themselves by not using a company that pollutes excessively.
Take the power that you should, as an American Citizen, have. Don’t let the Government tell you that you are powerless or that you need them to have your power. No, man–fuck that. You, in a Free Market, would have the power to regulate companies and businesses. Naturally, the State doesn’t want you to have that power; they want to have that power. So you’ve been told all of your life that they’re the only ones who can do it, that we need them to have that power, and that we shouldn’t or can’t have that power. But the same power we’ve given the Government…? It came from us. It’s OUR power. We can not only use that power–we can use it more effectively than the Government ever could.
* This was originally “clapping,” but I changed it because it sounded really bad to say “generally give me good quality claps” with the Clap being an STD.
** It should be noted that we now generally force doctors to volunteer their time at free medical clinics. We wouldn’t allow this in any other industry. We wouldn’t allow the government to force I.T. companies to spend one weekend a month working on the networks of schools (I’m scared to say that, since the wrong politician may read that and decide that we should do it). We wouldn’t allow the government to force Wal-Mart cashiers to spend two days each month working at the DMV. As I’ve stated before, we have no authority or justification in forcing people to do what we think is right.
*^ Actually, I took Economics in the first semester of my Senior year. It was a one-semester class (I don’t remember what I took the second semester because I… didn’t go back, so I didn’t take anything the second semester of my senior year) and it taught me nothing. It didn’t teach anyone anything, because the guy who taught us Economics was one of the football coaches and he knew nothing about the subject. All he did was have us read passages then answer the questions. There no lectures, no creativity, and no attempt to foster understanding. Moreover, Economics was an elective; I took it only because I like learning things and always have. But it certainly wasn’t a requirement of the curriculum. It should be.
Because Obamacare is about to hit us (unless the GOP performs a miracle for the wrong reasons), I focused this blog on the law in question and also went into some basic economics, the Federal Reserve, and again into Free Market Principles. As you can see from the final paragraph, this ultimately comes back, as did the previous two blogs, to Individual Responsibility. We have the power to use the Free Market to regulate corporations and businesses. We’ve simply lent that power to Government. And they’ve bungled the job, crushing the Market, and creating numerous problems. It is high time we took that power back, because we’re the only ones who can use it effectively. All the Government can do is fuck things up more.
I meant initially to focus this blog on “What is Anarchy? How does it work?” But I decided that, before I get into that, I must first go back into the Free Market and the power which Individuals hold. YOU are more powerful than any Government could ever be. Accept that power. Do not hide from it.
If you want to know more about the Government, what we created it for, and what function it has in our Society, misidentification of the Self as the State, and a demolition of the notion that a “Society” actually even exists, then read Anarchocapitalism, A Review Of: Part the Second. If you’re curious about the Free Market, Representative Governments, the failures of Welfare, the counterproductive nature of Social Security, Medicare, and other programs, and how the Free Market and voluntary principles can handle all of these things more effective, then read Anarchocapitalism, A Review Of: Part the First. If this paragraph is the first time you’ve seen the word “anarchocapitalism,” then go to Part One and then come back here.
Hopefully, I will actually address the meaning of Anarchy in Part Four. But no promises. This stuff must be addressed incrementally. As always, if there is something in this blog that is not adequately explained or which you do not understand, please comment seeking clarification. I want this series to be easily understandable.
I’ve spent the better part of the past two weeks arguing on behalf of conservatives in the United States, because it’s evident that conservatives are the victims of open and blatant discrimination, to the extent that many people on the left openly admit to marginalizing conservatives and self-righteously claim that this marginalization is a good thing. Seeing this, it’s difficult not to argue on behalf of those who are being systematically oppressed.
The reality is that no U.S. state should ever have needed to pass a law guaranteeing its people the right to religious freedom, but they did have to–and I’ve argued in favor of that law. I argued in favor of that law because a compromise is possible. We can reach an agreement. It won’t make everyone happy, but it will be one that everyone can tolerate. The first step in reaching that compromise is allowing conservatives the right to do as they think is best, to isolate themselves from this community and that community if they so desire, and to basically bubble themselves off from the rest of the world. If that is what they want to do, then that is their right, and I wholly support that.
It’s been my contention that we can persuade the left that there’s nothing about that position that violates anyone’s rights. Just yesterday I attempted to break down the idea of rights so as to make that case and demonstrate that, as long as there is no force, violence, or coercion there is no violation of rights. If we can get the liberals to accept that, and to accept that people have the right to be as racist, homophobic, and transphobic as they want, then we can reach an agreement where we leave them the hell alone and they leave us the hell alone.
Not only is that endeavor destined to fail because no one on the left is capable of pushing through their self-righteous bullshit belief that they are on the side of truth and justice and therefore have the right to force their beliefs onto others, but the reality is that the right isn’t willing to compromise, either. I’ve primarily targeted the left recently and the ways that it attacks and oppresses the right, because the left is currently the group with the power in the United States.
Make no mistake about it: the left has won the war. We’ll soon see legalization of marijuana across the country, gay marriage is already legalized across the country, and it’s just a matter of time before the Federal Government rules on the transgender bathroom issue and undoes the North Carolina and Mississippi laws. We are more than likely heading straight toward Civil War Part 2. LGBT issues are this generation’s slavery, and the right has made its position and unwillingness to compromise clear. Unfortunately, they are laughably outnumbered, and the idea that they can somehow come out of this and still have their worldview intact is delusional. The future is clear. Homosexuality and transgenderism will never again be illegal. Sexual and gender openness are the future, and I hold that’s a good thing, but the good/bad judgment on that is irrelevant; it’s simply the future, and nothing is going to change that. In the future, everyone will be bisexual and transgenderism will be so common and so irrelevant that we probably won’t stop to ask people what gender they are. These things will become non-issues. It is inevitable.
I’ve made the argument on behalf of conservatives (which I gladly admit was arrogant of me) that they truly do simply care about protecting their kids, and that they don’t take issue with actual transgender people. I was being facetious and giving them the huge benefit of the doubt, and I knew it at the time. So did everyone who heard the podcast. We all know it. Conservatives are simply using “omg we have to protect the children” as a front to mask their transphobia and intolerant behavior, in the same way that they use “Obama is a muslim!” to mask their racism. I know it, you know it, and they know it. But it would have been fine–it wouldn’t have mattered that I was being facetious and they were being underhanded–if they had been willing to compromise. If they were willing to actually meet the left in the middle and hold the position that I attributed to them–that they simply wanted to prevent pedophiles and sex offenders from gaining access to the restrooms, and that they simply wanted some kind of screening process in place to prevent that–then everything would have been okay.
But they weren’t, and they aren’t. They are not willing to compromise. They don’t give a flying, duck-squatting shit about Liberty. All we ever hear from conservatives is “small government this, small government that,” and I tried giving them the benefit of the doubt in the interest of healing our fractured nation. Because it is my estimation that we are brazenly marching directly toward Civil War Part 2, and it is my belief that this can only be avoided if we agree to Live and Let Live. Neither the left nor right is willing to do that, however, and North Carolina’s law requiring that people use the bathroom of the gender checked on their birth certificate is proof of that.
I’ve already made the argument that these are private restrooms. And they are. With very few exceptions (schools, courthouses, etc.) these are private restrooms. It is up to Kroger, Target, Wal-Mart, McDonald’s, and all these other places to set the usage policies on their restrooms. If they want to allow people to use the restroom of their choice, then that is their right as the people who own the restrooms. However, North Carolina’s law proudly spits on this idea of limited government by granting the state the power to dictate the policy on privately owned restrooms in a way that corresponds with the morality of conservatives. This, again, reinforces the notion that conservatives only want small government when the policy is liberal; when the policy to be imposed is conservative, they don’t care how much regulation is necessary.
Conservatives need to realize that they lost this war. That restroom law simply won’t be allowed to stand, and neither will Mississippi’s. It doesn’t matter what my position is on these laws, and I’m not making a judgment call on whether it’s good or bad that these laws will be forcefully repealed by the Federal Government and other 49 states (thus violating the very basic principle of self-governance). It’s simply going to happen.
That guy isn’t alone in his idea that his way is the only right way, and thus it’s okay to force his way onto everyone else. In fact, that’s the mentality of 85% of the world’s population, if estimates are to be believed. It’s at least the position of about 90% of the U.S. population*. Conservatives, realistically, hold that same position–they consider homosexuality behavior to be abhorrent, and the only reason they’re not banning it today is because they know that they wouldn’t be able to get away with it. The Federal Government, which has decreed that outlawing homosexual behavior is itself abhorrent, would drop the hammer on them instantly.
Now, everything the state does is done with force, violence, and/or coercion. Everything. No exceptions. The state is force, violence, and coercion. It is the entity in our society that we have bestowed with the authority to use force, violence, and coercion in the manner we have prescribed in the U.S. Constitution. This is why I’m an anarchist and not a Libertarian, strictly speaking. So I’m obviously against outlawing homosexuality, because that is an act of force, violence, and coercion.
But if the conservatives could, they absolutely would ban homosexuality. They did in the past, and they would certainly do it again. They refuse to take the high road of compromise; they refuse to say, “You do what you want and let me do what I want.” The left isn’t willing to do that, either; the left’s behavior is simply more obvious in modern America, because the left has already won the war, leaving the right unable to ban the things they want.
Might equals right has become the mantra of our society. Whoever has the majority has the power. When the majority of people were Christian conservatives, homosexuality was illegal. Times changed. Now that the majority of people are liberals, being anti-homosexual is fast becoming illegal. We are not a society of liberty and rights. We are a society of might, authoritarianism, brutality, force, and violence. We are ruled by the majority, and those who dare speak out and say otherwise, no matter how sound their position is, are ridiculed and cast off as bigots. We have fallen prey to the flaw of democracy that was known thousands of years ago: If rights are not properly valued, then it becomes a tyranny of the majority over the minority.
I couldn’t begin to tell you how many times in the past month I’ve been called transphobic, homophobic, hateful, and bigoted. That’s the Go To response for the left any time anyone dares speak against the oppression of conservatives that we see across the country. If I’m speaking against the marginalization, then I must be hateful and bigoted–without knowing anything, they immediately apply the very same labels to me. This, more than anything, should highlight that they aren’t thinking anything through, that they are merely reacting with the bullshit they’ve been taught to react with, and that they aren’t arguing for anything except the use of force against people who disagree with them. They’ve called a transgender person transphobic, for crying out loud, because I dared speak up against the way the conservatives are being oppressed.
I did a podcast last night (but didn’t publish because of weird mic issues) explaining that I could not and would not continue arguing on behalf of conservatives as long as they continue to insult and disrespect me. Calling transgender people “mentally ill” and “delusional,” never guessing that they were fixing those labels to someone who was honestly fighting their rights–at pretty extreme impact to myself. Realistically, yes, if I jumped on the bandwagon, it would be all too easy… A friend of mine told me this morning that I should make a new Go Fund Me campaign with the title “I’m Transgender! Please Help Me Escape Mississippi!” because that campaign would immediately go viral and would hit its goal in just days. Not only are there esoteric costs such as that, but there are demonstrable costs–I’m a Mississippi resident. The businesses around here now have the unquestionably legal ability to not sell me food, gasoline, or anything else I might need. It is only my rapport with the workers and owners that would spare me that, and not everyone is so lucky–and the vast majority of these businesses don’t even know that I’m transgender. Will they continue to do business with me once they know? I don’t know. I live at very real risk–I’m putting myself at a very real risk by arguing for these people’s rights. In the process, I’m seriously pissing off the liberals who would otherwise have my back, and seriously antagonizing the rest of the LGBT community that just wants to walk all over conservatives’ rights. I stand to gain nothing by fighting for their rights, and stand to lose a great deal of (immorally gained, admittedly) benefits.
I have put myself in No Woman’s Land arguing for these fuckers’ rights. The left rejects me because I argue for the conservative’s rights to be bigots, and the conservatives reject me because they’re bigots. And I’m not going to do it any longer. They’ve shown no willingness to compromise. They’ve shown no sign that they are willing to live and let live. They’ve shown no sign that they are even capable of recognizing me as transgender. They had the easiest possible way with the transgender restroom issue–all they had to do was back down a little bit, and there would have been a compromise that everyone could have accepted. Instead, they revealed that they are merely using children as a front to hide their desire to impose their morals onto others, all the while saying things like “Now our children have to be at risk because we have to accept these people’s delusions?”
My position hasn’t changed. I still think conservatives should have the right to do as they think is best–as long as they don’t use force, violence, and coercion. But they’re clearly not willing to forego the use of force, violence, and coercion. North Carolina’s law makes that all too clear. The cries that we’re delusional make it as plain as day. I will fight for their right to do as they think is best, but not when “what they think is best” involves using force, violence, and coercion to push their morals onto me and onto others, and not when all they have to say to me are insults.
The United States is heading toward Civil War because no one is willing to compromise. The left isn’t going to compromise, and the right isn’t going to compromise. Both sides are gearing up to use force to impose their way of life, moral values, and beliefs onto others. We are destined to fight another civil war, and the signs and issues now are identical to what they were in the mid 19th century. The only difference is that today the issue is LGBT stuff. The south wasn’t fighting on the side of justice and liberty then, either, and that is why they lost. No one who fought a war in the name of justice and liberty ever lost. But the previous civil war wasn’t about justice and liberty; it wasn’t about states’ rights. States’ rights were just the front that they used to mask the fact that they wanted to keep slaves. Today, it’s protecting their children that is the mask to hide they’re unrespectable positions
And in due time there will be another civil war, and we’ll just become the nation that tears itself apart every 150 years. We have no choice. Conservatives are never going to die out, and liberals are never going to die out. Whatever willingness to compromise there is, the tendency to negotiate and reach an agreement that satisfies everyone, giving no one 100% but everyone something, steadily decreases over time. Compromise becomes taboo, untenable, and unacceptable. Oppression begins, marginalization begins, and resentment begins. It builds and builds, and eventually battle lines are drawn. We can see battle lines being drawn today.
You cannot win this war, conservatives. The best you can achieve is the right to carve out your own little existences. The best you can do is to earn the right to be left the hell alone. But you’re not content with that, are you? No, and you never have been. If you sought that, instead of seeking to push your way onto others, then the left might be willing to compromise with you. But as long as you’re unwilling to, they won’t be, either. And I’m not going to lament the destruction of your tyrannical mindsets. Embrace liberty, or watch your way of life be dismantled before your very eyes. I won’t be the one who does it, but I’m not going to continue arguing against it. You don’t deserve it.
This is the kind of person for whose rights I was arguing:
It should be noted that I replied to this one, saying: “I’m an atheistic transgender lesbian and resident of Mississippi. If you really think you can say anything to me that I haven’t heard before, then you’re crazier than you think I am.” This, of course, prompted him to go to my page and comment about a half-dozen unrelated Tweets, at which point I decided to simply ignore him. He almost immediately moved on and targeted someone else.
That is his reply to the auto-posted Tweet for my article “I Am Not An Adjective.” That’s right. While I wrote a lengthy article explaining that we are people, and not adjectives, his solution was to attach an adjective to the adjective that he thinks I am. I am not a person in his eyes; I am not a person who is gay and/or transgender. I’m a mentally ill gay. I’m a gay. I’m an adjective to him. What a narrow-minded fool.
He also added that I’m creepy, to which I replied “Says the guy with an honest to god dick pic on his profile. Mmkay.” I won’t share the image here, but I took a screenshot of it in case he wanted to continue things, and I took a screenshot of his self-written description. Behold:
Now, I’m not really going to make fun of the dude for naming himself after the slang for “hard dog dick.” I’m gonna be classier than that and point out that anyone who prefers paying for sex is full of shit. No one who ever got consensual sex for free thought “Man, I’d rather just pay for this.” Or, at least, no one who can get consensual sex for free thought that. And this is substantiated by his admittance that he loves porn. That’s okay–I love porn, too. But… “loving porn” isn’t really a key characteristic of who I am. When I think “Give 10 sentences that describe yourself,” then “loving porn” isn’t on that list, and neither is paying for sex. But here we have a conservative who loves porn and paying for sex named after slang for dog dick and who had an actual dick pic that he personally uploaded.
And I’m the creepy one…
And, remarkably, this one is one of the leftists! “This guy”. This guy.
Eventually I just reached that point where I had to ask myself “Why am I pissing everyone off? What do I have to gain from it? Clearly, these people are never going to respect me and recognize my right to live as I choose. So screw them.”
* This is derived from the fact that Libertarians comprise about 10% of the U.S. population, since Libertarians are the only ones who don’t want to force other people to do things.Except, perhaps, to leave other people alone, but using force to stop the application of force is allowed under the NAP. I’m not a fan of it, but it’s at least not a contradiction.
There appears to be a great deal of confusion, particularly in the United States and on the left, about what, exactly, rights are. So I thought I’d take a little bit of time here to clarify things, because it’s really not the complicated issue that people make it out to be.
To figure out what is a right, we must first ask:
Can you do it in isolation on a deserted island?
If the answer is “Yes,” then it is a right–thus far. There is some more screening to be done, though, and that’s answered by the next question:
Does it require the consent of another?
If the answer is “Yes,” then it is NOT a right. This is obvious, because the “other” necessarily has the right to deny consent. One last question finalizes the matter:
Can it be achieved without force, violence, and/or coercion?
If this answer is “Yes,” then congratulations–it is a right. So let’s take a few sample actions and run them through the analysis and see what comes out as a right. First up, let’s take
Can you have health care on a deserted island?
Yes, obviously, though you’d have to perform the care yourself.
Does it require the consent of another?
Yes. It requires the doctor, nurses, and hospital to consent to give you treatment. Unfortunate though it is, that doctor has the right to say “No, I don’t want to treat that person.” The nurses have the right to say that, and the hospital’s administrators have the right to say that. This is not the argument that “corporations are people.” It’s the obvious argument that corporations don’t exist. They are fictitious creations of human beings. There is not, and never has been, such a thing as a corporation. There are only people who work together to achieve a specific end. Those people do exist. The imaginary group that we have imposed onto reality that binds them together is not a real thing. The people, however, are, and people obviously have rights. Just as you couldn’t force a friend to give you a ride to an AutoZone, and just as you couldn’t force someone to be your friend, neither can you force someone to provide you a service, because that person providing the service is a person and obviously that person has the right to do with their time and energy whatever they want to do with their time and energy.
Someone owns that medicine somewhere down that line–it is someone’s property. You do not have the right to take it from them, and you do not have the right to force them to give it to you. Return to the desert island, where it would just be you and a man with penicillin that you need. Would you have the right to make him give it to you? Would you have the right to put a gun to his head (because, as I’ve said ad nauseum, everything the state does is at the point of a gun) and take it from him? Of course not. Things don’t get any murkier simply because you can’t see the person who owns the medicine you’re trying to forcefully take. There are other ways to acquire the medicine from the person without violating their rights. Again, peer pressure is the most underestimated force in the United States–no hospital administrator would resist a national shaming for their refusal to give someone medicine. No force required.
I’ve recently seen the contention that, yes, Wi-Fi is an honest-to-fuck human right. We know before we even start to process this that some dumbass millennial said it. I’m sorry, my fellow millennials and x-millennials, but no one else would make such a ridiculous claim.
Could you have Wi-Fi on a deserted island?
Obviously, yes, but you’d have to construct it yourself. You’d have to build the access points yourself, and build the devices that connect to it yourself. You have every right to do that, of course.
Does it require the consent of another?
Realistically, yes, because no one is going to create their own 802.11ish standard and conceive their own Wi-Fi topology, meaning that the topology they use will be patented. I’m actually against patents, trademarks, and copyrights, but that’s another matter. Because the Wi-Fi you constructed would be no use, we’re realistically talking about Wi-Fi as we actually know it today. And, again, we can see that the answer is “No.” Somewhere down the line, those access points, those gateways, those DNS servers, those webhosts, that bandwidth, etc… all belong to someone. That’s someone’s property. Again picturing yourself on the deserted island, would you have the right to go up to them with a gun and say, “That’s a nice, awesome thing you have! NOW GIVE IT TO ME! IT’S MY RIGHT!”? No, of course not.
Could you do it on a deserted island?
Absolutely. You’d have utterly unbridled free speech on a deserted island.
Does it require the consent of another?
Nope. All it requires is that others not inhibit your free speech. There’s a lot of confusion here, because we think that the government has given us the right to free speech. They have not. We can go all the way back to the dawn of homo sapien and realize that the natural state of human is to be able to say any foolish thing we want, without restriction and without punishment. At some point in our history, the state and other institutions rose and restricted our free speech, and we later rebelled and won back our right to speak freely. However, the state now, having been beaten back, and not restricting our right is not the same thing as giving us a right.
Let’s say you have a sandwich. Then I take the sandwich from you. You hit me, and take your sandwich back. Then I say, “Fine. You can keep your stupid sandwich.”
Did I give you a sandwich?
Can it be achieved without force, violence, and/or coercion?
Again, obviously–you have only to open your mouth and speak. There could be force and violence required in forcing people to listen to your free speech (because you do not have the right to be listened to), but your free speech alone? It requires no force, violence, or coercion.
Can you do it on a deserted island?
Commerce fails at the very first hurdle. Commerce (that is–the buying and selling of property by mutual consent) ipso facto requires another person. You cannot have commerce on a deserted island because there is no way to have commerce with yourself. Ergo, commerce is not a right; you do not have the right to sell things and buy things. You have the right to attempt to buy things and sell things, even on the deserted island, but “the attempt to have commerce” is not equivalent to commerce itself. Yes, on the deserted island you have the right to attempt to buy a hamburger. You’ll obviously fail, because there is no one from whom to buy a freaking hamburger, but you obviously have the right to try. And the universe has the right to make you fail in your endeavor because there is no one there from whom you can buy it. The presumption that you have the right to commerce is the presumption that you have the right to force the universe to sell you a hamburger on a deserted island. It’s utter nonsense and wholly unrealistic.
You can wander the island all day attempting to buy a hamburger, shouting to the palm trees and seagulls and coconuts, but you obviously do not have the right to buy a hamburger. To say that you have the right to buy a hamburger is to assert that the universe owes you a hamburger, that the sky should part and the universe should send a specially made hamburger to you from the Eagle Nebula. It’s silly. Once more, you have the right to try to buy a hamburger, for obvious reasons, but you cannot have the right to succeed, as the act of buying requires the existence of another person, and the other person obviously has the right–as we have already discussed–to say “No, I don’t want to sell you a hamburger. It’s mine, and I don’t want to sell it.”
So there we go. That’s how rights work. That’s how we distinguish rights from not-rights. If it involves another person, then it’s not a right. If it involves another person, then you usually have the right to try (“usually” because there are obviously some things you could try that would immediately violate their rights, such as “trying to rape them” and “trying to kill them”), but you do not have the right to succeed. That’s because they have the right to say “No.” They have the right to refuse consent on whatever grounds they want. You have the right to argue with them, to reason with them, to rally people together and attempt to apply peer pressure, but you do not have the right to force them to do what you want. The very moment you do, you are overstepping the bounds of your rights and violating theirs.
I’m actually going to return to this at some point, because I think the future is pretty well laid out for us all to see. I’ve been breaking from Dancing in Hellfire because the first draft is finished, and because some period of waiting is always necessary before moving onto the second draft. That officially ended today, though, and the second draft process is quick. One of the primary issues I’ve noticed with it is that I didn’t even try to write it emotionally–I talk about abuse, drug usage, murder, and violence so matter-of-factly, and that hinders the actual manuscript. My next project is the sci-fi story about AI, and it’s already been started (gotta do something in that downtime between drafts!), so I’m looking forward to moving onto it. Of course, both Dancing in Hellfire and “The AI Novel” will be available to patrons. Anyway–here is some thing that I wrote.
Blehk! It’s really sloppy. Clearly this is something I wrote a very long time ago.
North Korea invaded South Korea yesterday, following two weeks of diplomacy breakdowns over recent hostilities. Earthquake in Chile leaves thousands homeless and hundreds dead. AIDS epidemic reaches all-time high in Africa, despite efforts of the WHO to curb the outbreaks. Oil prices skyrocket this week as a result of civil war in Pakistan. Iran making threats to invade Pakistan to end the civil war themselves, while the U.S. prepares to institute a No-Fly Zone over Iran.
John rubbed his eyes and closed out of the webpage. Too much information for it to be so early, he decided, and walked over to his coffeemaker. He helped himself to a cup of the black drink and sat back at the table. He re-opened his Internet browser and once more and flipped through his home page, this time ignoring the headlines and words. John finally stopped on a cartoon that depicted a donkey bending over to receive a brand of ownership from a man wearing a hat that labeled him as, “Corporations.”
John laughed a little, though he didn’t fully understand the cartoon. He went back to cycling through the pages when his cellphone, sitting near him on the table, vibrated. He lifted the phone and saw he’d been sent a friend request on Facebook from someone named Mario Valez. He didn’t know a Mario, but out of friendliness, he accepted the request. Seconds later, his phone vibrated again, alerting him that he and Mario were now friends. John smiled a little at the knowledge that he was approaching the One Thousand Mark of friends. He set the phone back down on the table, but ignored his laptop, and continued to drink his coffee in silence.
When he couldn’t take the boredom any longer (which lasted only a few seconds, really), John stood up and walked over to the counter, to his small television that sat in the kitchen. He turned the TV on and grabbed the remote off the counter, then returned to his chair. He flipped through the channels for anything interesting. News, news, talk show, news, talk show. Sighing, he used the remote to turn off the TV and sat drumming his fingers on the table while he finished his coffee. He looked at the counter on top of the television, which was tied in with the other counters on all the TVs in his house (John prided himself on having six televisions). Fourteen hours, 37 minutes remaining according to the counter.
Well, it’s Friday, John told himself. Four hours tonight, five tomorrow, and five Sunday, so I should be okay to get through the weekend. Each house was allowed to watch forty hours of television per week. John had, unfortunately, fell asleep with his television on Tuesday night, which had consumed an extra 8 hours of his time. Sure, John could file a request with the Department of Energy to get those hours back, but they wouldn’t be pleased (he knew from experience) when they learned he’d fallen asleep with his television on. They were unlikely to fill the request by Sunday, anyway, he also knew from experience. Far more likely was the possibility that eight months from now, he would receive an email saying that he was to be credited for those 8 hours sometime within the next 3 months.
John knew exactly how the counters communicated with the televisions and the Allocation Counters at the central offices of the Department of Energy, as he was a networking specialist. It was a rather mundane career these days, but he had learned in school that there was a time a few decades ago when the field of networking was booming. Apparently, this was when home devices were just starting to communicate, when televisions were beginning to access the Internet, when stoves were able to be programmed to turn on from cellphones, and people actually paid for TV broadcasts instead of streaming programs to their televisions from the Internet.
Of course, now all these things were in place. John’s job was essentially to maintain this communication between devices, not to make new communications. Every electronic device that conceivably could be used to talk with another electronic device could already do so. The frontier was gone, replaced with the tedious task of just making sure the status quo was maintained.
When at last he was done with the cup, he sighed in relief, for now he was able to do something, rather than sit and wait to finish the beverage. He walked back to his bedroom and dressed for work. His watch beeped at him as he did, letting him know that it was time to exercise.
John had overheard coworkers joking one day a few years ago about the original function of a watch. Apparently, watches once performed the utterly useless task of keeping the wearer (and everyone else around that didn’t wear a watch and would bug the person incessantly concerning the time) informed of the current time. This truly was, John agreed, a completely worthless concept, as nearly every electronic device (and the average person had four or five devices on him at any given time) would allow the user to know the time.
Now watches actually performed tasks, John thought with satisfaction. Then the sadness hit, for it was another frontier of technology that he had missed out on. Obesity and diabetes in the past had been a great problem in the U.S. due to high sugar diets and an increasingly sedentary lifestyle. To combat this, the Apple corporation had been paid by the government to create personal devices that were worn on the wrist and would remind the person at specific intervals to get up and do some exercises. This was Friday, so push-ups were on the agenda today.
It also meant, John thought as he did his twenty push-ups, that it was now 8:00 in the morning, so he had only an hour remaining before he was to report in for work. When he finished, he grabbed the shirt he’d slept in the previous night off the bed and wiped the sweat from his brow. 70 degrees was still a bit too hot for him, seeing as it was the middle of the summer, but there was nothing he could do about it. The Department of Energy denied all requests for temperature adjustment, having decided some decades ago that 70 degrees was the perfect temperature to maintain in a house regardless of the season. The thermostats were also connected to the Internet, which allowed the DOE to adjust the temperatures of houses remotely, but they never did so.
He sat down on the bed, needing a few minutes to catch his breath and cool off from the brief exercise. He was still overweight. Most people were. At six feet tall and around 200 pounds, no one could accuse John of being skinny, but he was fine with that. The average person was no longer of an average build, he thought ironically, and the average person was overweight between 30 and 50 pounds. However, the goal of the watches had never been to make people skinny. The goal had been to simply make people less fat. Apparently it had worked, as diabetes was on the decline, as was severe obesity, which the WHO defined as being more than 50 pounds overweight.
The goal had been achieved with great success, meaning that the frontier in that area was dead. However, a new model was being developed by the Apple corporation under the direction of the U.S. Government that would expand on the functions of the current watch. Finally, the watch would actually do what its name implied; it would watch the wearer, at least to some extent.
The new model would become available in just a few days (the upcoming Monday, John couldn’t wait!—despite the amount of work it meant he would have in the coming weeks) and would monitor the heart rate of the wearer for fifteen minutes after a notification to exercise. If the person did not have an increased heart rate in those fifteen minutes (meaning he did not exercise), a notification would be sent to the Department of Health, and the person would literally be taken to an Exercise Camp for one week.
John was thrilled at the concept, as he worked with several people who routinely ignored their alarms and didn’t exercise. These people were also rapidly approaching severe obesity, and some were even at an even fifty pounds overweight.
He applauded the level of care the Government was showing in these new watches. Not only did they want to ensure that people exercised and were healthy, they had solved the problem of obesity by interfering into the lives of citizens as little as possible. Another solution would have been to ban the foods that were so high in fat and sugar, but how many jobs would that have lost? How would the economy have handled the migration of hundreds of millions of people from McDonald’s and Burger King to Wal-Mart for pre-cooked meals that only had to be heated? Considering the average Wal-Mart had between ten and fifteen employees, the job loss would have been staggering. With unemployment rates already approaching 35%, it simply was not a feasible route to go.
John had something that few others could boast: job security. In High School, an instructor had told the entire class that as long as electronic devices communicated, electronic devices would break or stop communicating, and would need to be repaired, or replacements would have to be configured. The average user was too ignorant to configure these devices himself, so the Government would always have an Information Technology department that handled such things. A job in that field was a job forever, the instructor had said. John was the only student who had taken the words to heart and joined the field.
He was also the only student in that class who actually had a job.
The new watch would do other things, too. Given that people were limited to so few hours of television each week, few households were sparing their allotted time to watching the news. To remedy this, the watches would notify the wearer with a beep followed by scrolling text displayed on the watch whenever something “important” occurred in the world. Most users had their personal laptops (bought by the U.S. Government from the Dell corporation and supplied to every citizen over ten years old) set to open a search page or a random video site, so very few people in the nation ever had any idea what was going on in the government or in the world at large.
That reminded John—his laptop would be two years old next Friday. He’d have to take it to the Department of Technology (which wasn’t a big deal, as he worked in that department) and exchange it for a newer model. They would copy his data and settings over to his new laptop, then erase the hard drive of the old laptop and sell it back to the Dell corporation, who would in turn sell it to some other country with fewer resources to be used by its people. Or so people said. Other people said that only government officials from other, poor countries (like Iran and North Korea) had laptops! This was something John couldn’t understand fully, as he’d seen his entire life virtually everyone carrying a laptop case everywhere they went. To think this wasn’t the way of the world, that it was only the way of the U.S. was unfathomable.
He’d heard this before, but found it hard to believe. Even if it was true, it only strengthened his belief in the U.S. and its benevolence toward the other, poorer countries of the world. After all, if not for the U.S. and its corporations, third world countries like North Korea wouldn’t have laptops at all, if it was true! John laughed a little at the idea of using a laptop that was over two years old (how slow his laptop was by the current standards!), but he figured it was okay for poor saps who wouldn’t know the difference anyway. Saps like the North Koreans.
Hadn’t he seen something about them? He couldn’t remember at the moment. He knew it wasn’t important anyway, and went back to getting ready for work. It ate in the back of his mind, though, and he tried to remember what he had read about North Korea recently. They’d just had an earthquake, hadn’t they? Hopefully we are donating them money for the recovery! thought Jon. Or were they at war? Bastard North Koreans, that was probably it. Always starting fights with someone! The only thing he truly remembered from the glance at the day’s headlines was the the U.S. was finally, after years of arguing over Iran’s increased hostilities toward Israel and their questionable “peaceful nuclear program,” going to do something about the country that was, by all accounts from the CIA, the U.N., NATO allies, and other independent media sources, full of terrorists and people who burned the U.S. flag.
Coincidentally, his watch beeped. He looked down to see the daily advertisement for the U.S. Navy. “Have you considered a career in the U.S. Navy? Job security and good pay!” said the scrolling text. John ignored it. He’d served his time in the armed forces, as had every U.S. citizen. At any time between the ages of 18 and 24, a male citizen was required to spend at least 2 years in service to the armed forces. In contrast, women had to spend at least 2 years (during the same age range) as either intern nurses or “entertainment” overseas to the armed forces.
John shook his head sadly. Very, very few women chose entertainment, and those few who did rapidly switched to nurses as soon as they learned what was meant by “entertainment.” He had only been entertained once in his two years of service, and most people he’d been stationed with hadn’t been entertained at all. The government was on the verge of fixing that, too, though, by instituting a new random draft where roughly one third of women would have to serve as entertainers, while two thirds would continue to serve as intern nurses. It didn’t do John any good, as he had no interests in going back to the military, but it would hopefully help future young men from having to suffer through two years of private droughts while they fought and died to protect the very women that refused to look him in the eye while they did their duties for the country.
Selfish, John thought as he walked back to the kitchen and put his laptop in its case. He took his cellphone and put it in his shirt pocket, then grabbed his wallet from the table. With a quick look around, he surveyed himself.
Watch? Check. Not that he could take it off, anyway. One needed a special key that only workers of the Department of Health had to remove a watch.
Anklet? Check. Another device that couldn’t be removed without a key from the DOH. The Anklet, as it was called, monitored a person’s steps each day. It ingeniously reset itself after a period of 4 hours of no movement. And the daily vitamins contained a supplement that kept people from restlessly moving their legs around in their sleep. John, at roughly two hundred pounds, was only required to walk a total of one mile per day. He usually did double that during an average work day.
Cellphone? Check. It was a miniature laptop itself, capable of nearly everything that a laptop could do. The cellphone, however, served one important role that, for whatever reason (probably due to corporate bureaucracy or government copyrights), couldn’t utilize the Internet without connecting to Wi-Fi networks. The cellphone would give him access to the Internet, as well as other devices he carried that connected to the Internet through Wi-Fi (like his Anklet and Watch) the same connectivity. It was a wireless access point as much as it was a cellphone. It, too, was supplied to every citizen over the age of 10, and was bought from the AT&T corporation by the Government.
That was everything he needed. He clipped his keys to a belt loop on his pants and left for work. He had only to walk a few hundred feet to the end of the street corner to catch the 8:15 to the DOT. Unfortunately, because of all the other stops, he’d arrive at work only a few minutes before his shift started. He would have preferred to have ten or fifteen minutes to come in and collect his bearings, but the only other bus that ran to the DOT was the 7:15, and there was just no way he was going to work that early.
The upgrade to the new watches was being handled so smoothly that John was hardly able to tell that it was scheduled for the coming Monday. The watches were already in stock and were being delivered to every major workplace in the city. The bosses at those workplaces were required to collect the old watches in exchange for the new ones, then deliver them back to the DOT. In theory, the watches would configure themselves by pressing a button on the watch while pressing a similar button on each electronic device that was to communicate with the watch.
John looked at his laptop screen, which was busy pulling his tasks from the server. His first task appeared on the screen. He turned in disbelief and saw a co-worker named Brady walking by. “Brady,” John called. Brady approached. John pointed at the line in question and said, “They can’t be serious… We’re replacing everyone’s watches Monday!”
Brady read the line quickly aloud. “1214 Ninth Street, Apartment 117, Communication with Device B of Resident 6 has not succeeded in 72 hours. Please investigate. What’s the problem?”
John sighed, thinking it obvious. “Device B is a watch. So it’s not communicating with our servers through Resident 6’s cellphone. Big deal, he’ll be getting a new one Monday. I really don’t think it’s the best way to use time and energy, going to an apartment in the slums to repair a device that’s going to be replaced on the next working day. Do you?”
Brady shrugged. “Take it up with Mike, not me.”
“I’ll do that,” John said. Brady left.
No one in the DOT enjoyed making a trip to the slums, and Ninth Street was right in the middle of the slums of the city. The slums were full of people who didn’t have jobs, who had probably never had jobs, who relied on ANF (Assistance for Needy Families) and SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and Wazzup (so they called it) (actually called WSUP—Weekly Supplement for Unskilled Workers). To make matters worse, these families usually had more children than anyone who had to pay their own bills would ever reasonably have—sometimes in the range of 8 or 9 children.
The household in question had at least 4 children. Resident 1 was the father, Resident 2 was the mother. Further residents were numbered in the order they were born. Resident 3 was the oldest child, Resident 4 wass the next oldest, and so on. This number could also be misleading (at least in non-slum households), as when a child moved out from the house, he became Resident 1 (and she became Resident 0, even if she lived alone, but never Resident 1—how odd) of his new household, and his siblings all had their numbers lowered by one, when determining how many children a person had. This wasn’t an issue in the slums, though. No one ever moved in the slums, unless the family itself had grown to proportions that simply could not continue in their current apartment, and were relocated to a larger one.
John knocked on the door of Mike’s office. Mike, as a Department Director (for the city) had his own office, not just an opening in one of dozens of workbenches onto which he could set his laptop (like John had). “Come in,” Mike called from the inside of the office, and John pushed the door open.
Mike was an aging man, probably about seventy years old, but no one had asked Mike his age in decades—it simply was rude to do. This made John remember something he’d learned back in school about something called, “Retirement,” when people got so old that they became too cranky to be valuable members of the work force. With whatever the government put in their daily vitamins, though, this “crankiness” was a thing of the past, as most people were in a good mood around the clock. This, John had been taught, meant that people could continue to feel useful and not feel like burdens to society, regardless of their age, as they would work and contribute until the age of 100. At 100, it was said a person could retire to what was known as the Beaches of Florida and live out the remainder of his or her days watching the sun rise or set over the ocean.
John shivered at that. Imagine the boredom!
“Are you cold? It’s an even 70 degrees in here. Perhaps you’re getting sick?” Mike asked.
John shook his head. “No, not at all. I was… thinking about something else.”
“Oh?” Mike asked, leaning back in his chair. Mike had the habit of making himself comfortable with people, which caused people to become comfortable in turn. When people were comfortable, they revealed themselves. Mike was constantly watching for Dissenters, and this was the best way to discover them. “Do tell.”
“It was nothing,” John said. “Look, Mike, you can’t be serious about replacing Device B at 1214 Ninth Street. They’ll be getting a replacement in three days, it’s such a waste!”
Mike shrugged. “Protocol is protocol. You know that.” Mike winked at his joke.
Protocol was a term used in the technology world to describe a given method that devices use to communicate with each other. John didn’t appreciate the humor at the moment, though.
“I know, but—“ John started.
“The device in question hasn’t communicated with our servers—or the servers at the DOH, which is more important—in over 72 hours. Protocol dictates that we send a technician to examine the problem. The meeting has already been scheduled, and Resident 6 has remained at home today rather than going to school. I know, John. Believe me, I know what’s it’s like to go over there,” Mike interrupted.
“It’s not that so much as it is the fact that in three days—only one of which—today—is a work day—will be fixed anyway.”
“Well, just pretend the world isn’t getting new watches Monday,” Mike said. Mike also winked again, something that John was finding increasingly irritating under the circumstances.
“But we are getting new watches.”
Mike shrugged. “Maybe not. There could be a problem in shipping them out, there could be a universal flaw in the new devices that causes them to not function properly. Who knows?”
John conceded that point, even though the odds were very, very steep. He doubted most people remembered a certain event about six years ago, though it had been a major event that caused a great deal of problems for the DOT. People were usually so busy trying to do a million things at once that they had no time to remember things that had happened, which, being in the past, no longer even mattered.
John remembered, though. Six years ago, the DOT passed out new laptops on exchange for laptops that were two years old. As it turned out, the wireless on these new laptops didn’t work, and DOT employees ended up working about one hundred hours a week trying to fix all the laptops before they were given out, and giving priority to laptops that had been given out and returned already. The U.S. Government had sued Dell for negligence and faulty craftsmanship. After a lot of legal mumbo jumbo, the Dell corporation packed its things and moved its headquarters to Japan, becoming, instead, a Japanese corporation. The U.S. Government promptly dropped the lawsuit, wrote off the losses, and pretended the event never happened. John, in addition to not getting paid for his overtime hours (over 60 worked hours in a given week), saw a 2% increase in the amount of taxes he paid in. This brought his total taxes withheld to about 84%.
Once, fleetingly, many years ago, about two years after that lawsuit with Dell, John had wondered why his taxes had not gone back down. He never remembered it when it was important, so he could ask Mike about it or someone in the Department of Revenue, and in time he forgot about it completely.
John sighed. “Suck it up and deal with it?” he asked.
Mike nodded, and John left the office. He checked the time on his cellphone. 9:20. Thirty minutes for the bus ride to Ninth Street—it would, without doubt, be the loudest and smelliest bus—one hour for the actual service, thirty minutes for a trip back—once again on the loud and smelly bus (all buses that went to the slums were loud and smelled awful)—fifteen minutes to collect his next assignment, then fifteen more minutes to get something to eat. That would put him eating his first bite that day around Noon, which was completely unacceptable for a guy that didn’t eat breakfast. His stomach was growling at him already.
He reworked the times, factoring in a side trip to McDonald’s. He nodded his satisfaction at this new time frame, then left the building and caught the bus to the fastfood place. He walked in to have the smell of grease and fried foods assault his brain. He licked his lips hungrily and was pleased to find no one in line.
He looked at the menu and told the worker (after the worker gave his initial and routine greeting), “Yeah, let me get… Two Freedom Burgers, an order of Freedom Fries, and… a Diet Freedom Coke.”
Freedom everything. John had heard once, from where, he didn’t recall, that during a war long, long ago, the French government did not wish to join the U.S. in going to war with someone. As a result, Americans starting calling, “French Fries,” as, “Freedom Fries.” It was a gesture John thought was elegant—a slap in the face to a country that refused to ally themselves with a beacon of hope and freedom while the rest of the world went mad.
The word Freedom was formally attached to everything before John was born, when the U.S. Government began its move to supplying the citizens of the country with what they needed by purchasing the goods and services from corporations, like they did with Dell, Apple, and AT&T. McDonald’s was no different. Its workers were government workers (unskilled government workers, John thought with contempt), and the money made was delivered to the government. The government in turn paid the workers themselves, then paid the corporation McDonald’s the profits. Why the corporation was paid at all, John didn’t know.
Bureaucracy again, he assumed.
Some complicated lawyer mumbo-jumbo that no one fully understood.
After receiving his order, he carried his bag and drink back to the bus stop and waited for the next bus that would carry him into the slums. He ate as quickly as he could, hoping to finish his meal before the bus arrived. He succeeded, and, feeling a little nauseous, he swallowed the last bite and threw the bag away in a nearby trash can as the bus came to a stop.
John hadn’t been alive then, but the history he’d been taught in school regarding the Corporations’ takeover of, well, pretty much everything was very simple. Basically, the corporations grew larger and larger, and thus more and more powerful, as they had continually more and more wealth, until they were concentrated in the hands of a few larger, mostly unknown Megacorporations. These Megacorporations, of which there were about five, owned every smaller corporation, which gave the illusion to the public that there were thousands of distinct and separate corporations, when, in reality, there were but five.
These Megacorporations, through employment and the sheer resources they commanded, easily outweighed the U.S. Government in terms of power to direct the people. It was said that the government hated competition, and that was probably true, but competition grew up around the government while the government was wholly unaware of it, and before anyone knew what was happening, a handful of Megacorporations essentially controlled the world and all its resources, making the tiny-minded U.S. Government look rather foolish to the People of the country.
Any threats by the U.S. Government to rein in these rogue, nation-less Megacorporations resulted in direct debasement of the workers—the Megacorporations would close, would raise prices, or would exercise any other power they had in getting what they wanted. It eventually became very clear what they wanted: profits.
The Megacorporations and the U.S. Government worked out The Deal, which was that the U.S. Government would manage the smaller corporations in a business sense and would pass the profits of that operation onto the Megacorporations. Through working this out, the Megacorporations would relinquish their power to influence so powerfully the lies of the citizens, because the employment and prices and wages would no longer be in their hands, but in the hands of the U.S. Government. The U.S. Government would, in turn, control employment, prices, and wages, and would also pay the Megacorporations the profits for the privilege of controlling these things.
The anger serves to hide the deepest guilt,
the remorse that falls like rain above
like tears shed over unrequited love
As the hatred makes all the flowers wilt
With emotions that will never be felt
Which sing eulogies of lost moments,
which denies the right to find penance
Which has become a bed of rotting silt—
Could such be construed a fitting end
For all the light and warmth that there has been?
Should we climb Mount Helicon, will we find
no Muses, but instead our own souls
begging the chance to burst through these holes
That we fill with lies to our own minds
Surely, I give credit that should be mine
for keeping lit all the burning coals
which keep me warm through the Winter cold
So that I will again see the sun shine
And, though the Winter even now sets in,
What will I find bringing warmth to my den?
Something must sustain the sleeping spirit
perhaps fury burning in the soul
making of vengeance the only goal—
If such a flame, the soul cannot endure it—
And will fall to ashes at its limit
as it digs always a deeper hole
leaves the spirit still out in the cold
Clinging to the anger that condemns it
To fear the sun and seek out the cold night
To huddle in anger and fear and fright
Hi. I’m not gonna lie to you. Being transgender in Mississippi actually is difficult, because it’s true–despite my awesome work history, my college degree, and the fact that I started by own business and managed it well for years, it’s impossible for me to find a job in Mississippi as a transgender person. I’m able to do small work on the side for an I.T. colleague, but it’s extremely minor and earns about $100 a week. My only real chance to pull out of this hole is through writing, so if you like poetry and would like to see more of it, perhaps you’ll consider becoming a supporter at Patreon. I don’t like asking that, and certainly not in this way, but reality demands what reality demands. My novels are no nearer to being published for unknown reasons, my story on Amazon has been lost in the thousands of other stories alongside which it sits, and though I have seen growth across the Internet on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, the fact is that it’s extremely slow, and the loss of a substantial Patron today for unknown reasons was a serious hit. Liking, Sharing, Commenting–all of these things are appreciated.