OT - Gas to hit 4.00

Levi Pearson levi at cold.org
Wed Jun 11 13:59:22 MDT 2008

Kimball Larsen <kimball at kimballlarsen.com> writes:
> WARNING:  Conservative political ranting to follow.  Read at your own
> risk.

Wow, as far as conservative political rants go, this is actually
pretty tame. :)

> I was raised with a very strong work ethic and emphasis on self
> reliance - in short, if I want something, I have to make it happen.
> Period.  This includes insulating myself from potential effects of not
> being able to work for an extended period of time, prices going up on
> items around me, living well within my means, etc.  I feel pretty
> strongly that this is the right way to live your life - develop your
> talents/skills/aptitudes to the point you can rely upon yourself to
> handle any situation.  I have done relatively well in this regard, and
> am definitely not one of the "typical" americans referred to by Dave.

I feel pretty strongly that this is the way to live life, too.

> However, I totally agree with Grant here - there are some
> circumstances completely out of your control that can take away what
> insulation you may have built up, and make it very difficult or
> impossible to recover to a totally self-sufficient state.

This happened to my in-laws.  After selling a business for enough
money to retire on, the equipment he sold with it was stolen, he was
blamed and sued, and pretty much all the money disappeared.  Some time
thereafter, he developed health problems and can no longer work, or
even walk.  They are supported by my mother-in-law, but she worked in
the real-estate business for a home builder, and recently lost her job
due to the real-estate crash.  They're a hard working, self-reliant,
politically conservative family, yet they're in pretty dire straits
right now.

> Now, I told you all of that, so I could tell you this:  Given the
> current political scene, I have become increasingly aware of the
> various parties vying for attention as they make somewhat sweeping
> statements about how they are going to change America for the better.
> I find the mentality of some political statements truly frightening:
> "What happens if you lose your job?  What happens if you can't afford
> xyz?  What happens if [insert negative thing that could potentially
> occur here] - Don't be afraid of any of these things - your government
> will be there to take care of you."  This sort of statement gives me
> the heebie jeebies - usually because the sorts of items they propose
> are exactly the sorts of things I have always been taught and felt
> strongly are the individual's responsibility, not the gub'ment.

Consider that not everyone has had the benefit of your upbringing and
self-reliant nature.  Consider also that a very large portion of your
welfare is dependant on the health of your community.  As
self-sufficient as you try to be, you still depend to a huge degree on
the local, national, and global economies.  These economies are fueled
by the 'average American', and they're reliant on said people being
able to continue spending money.  Social welfare programs, as
abhorrent as they can be to those of us who work hard to be
self-reliant, are aimed at keeping those who aren't (whether through
their own fault or not) alive, healthy, and participating in the

As a thought experiment, what do you think would happen if all social
welfare programs were completely removed?  It's probably impossible to
say for sure, but I believe the results would be disasterous, both
locally and globally.  Thousands, perhaps tens or hundreds of
thousands, would die due to lack of health care.  Similar numbers
would end up on the streets, and crime would increase dramatically as
people turned to theft to survive.  Economies would be ruined, and
even the well-prepared, self-reliant, and lucky enough to not have
disasterous accidents would suffer far more than they do now by paying
for the social programs that prop up our civilization.

Our culture has evolved, thanks in large part to big businesses and
their advertising, to desire far more material goods than we can ever
hope to afford.  It takes tremendous willpower, or at least a lot of
training, to avoid this.  So a big part of our society walks a
tightrope, just one big mistake or accident away from insolvency and
complete ruin.  It just makese sense right now to provide a safety net
beneath them, for the benefit of everyone.

I would sure like for things to be different, but I also believe that
a lot of the comforts, conveniences, and cool things we take for
granted depend on our society being set up the way it is.  I honestly
don't know how things could be changed without complete disaster.
Maybe we'll end up with disaster anyway, which will force a change.  I
don't think anything else will do it.


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