Thursday, October 09, 2008

Keeping Hopelessness Alive

I'm glad that some Raccoons are optimistic about the election. I'm not. I'm not pessimistic either. In fact, as I've mentioned before, I place no hope in politics to begin with, and pretty much lead a hopeless life, at least as it pertains to the World. This probably sounds like bitterness or cynicism, but it certainly doesn't feel that way to me, and I'm quite sure that no one who knows me would consider me embittered.

Actually, it's much more of a Zen thingy, except that I don't have to actually practice Zen to be this way. I can't really claim credit for it, because it's just my nature. However, there was a time that I tried to fight against it and be like The Others, and it's not always easy to explain it to people who don't have a clue as to what I'm talking about.

For example, I tried to explain it to someone at that family function I attended last week. The person actually took sympathy, as if I were depressed or somehow missing out. Perhaps I should point out that this side of the family is Jewish, but only in a deeply secular -- which is to say, materialistic -- sense, so that my way of living is basically incomprehensible to them. The conversation revolved around my relatively late fatherhood, and I made the comment that if a man hasn't more or less seen it all by the age of 40, he's sort of pathetic. Being that I'd seen it all, I wanted to have the one experience I hadn't had, fatherhood. His response was, "noooo, why do you say that? Life isn't over at 40!!!"

But that wasn't at all the point I was attempting to make. Rather, what I meant is that for most people, they have had all the usual worldly experiences by the age of 40; they know what it's like to get drunk, fall in love, have some good meals, make some money, go to Disneyland, see their favorite team win the World Series, have some nice vacations, see their candidate become president. But then they merely try to either perpetuate the same things, or ramp it up and try to wring more pleasure out of these things than there is in them. In this man's case it was a new career and a younger wife, but it's really just the same wine in a new bottle.

That way of living is fine and appropriate for the first half of life, as the sun moves toward its zenith at your personal summer solstice. But to try to hold the sun there as it gravitates back to the winter underworld is again just sort of pathetic. One way or another, the purpose of the second half of life is to make a decisive turn toward the interior adventure, not to cling to the exterior one.

In my case, I'm fortunate to be living this life of radical novelty at an age when things are usually just repeating themselves. The presence of Future Leader assures us that every day is the same, and yet never the same. We are totally rooted in the moment, which is quite liberating. Specifically, we are liberated from the tyranny of linear time. Again, this always came naturally to me, but now it is simply heightened.

I believe it was in How To Know Higher Worlds that Rudolf Steiner makes the point that it is critical to pay attention to organic growth in all of its modalities, whether it is flowers blooming in your garden or watching children grow.

The operative word is life, and there is nothing so alive as a child. I can never be alive in the same vital sense that he is, and yet, I feel as if I have transposed that vitality to a higher key that is appropriate for my age. Extremes meet, so they say that old age is like a second childhood. I'm only 52, so I'm not there yet, but I feel as if I am starting to get there in spirit -- to let go of the world and to allow the others slowly learn the same lessons or fight over the scraps. I'm too consumed enjoying the present.

Anyway, one reason I live this way is that I can then be pleasantly surprised when things turn out well. If you always imagine that things are going to go well, then you are going to experience disappointment and frustration on a continuous basis. I've heard Dennis Prager discuss this same idea, and although I haven't read it, I know he writes about it in his book Happiness.

Also, I think you have to be aware of historical irony. That is, events that look bad constantly lead to good things, and vice versa. You can't just take one abstract "time slice" and decide whether something is good or bad. It's always a mixed bag. I think this is the deeper meaning of "God's will, or that we cannot know the plan of creation. Whether or not you believe in an activist God, it's out of our hands. You just do what needs to be done in the moment.

In fact, there's a famous old Taoist story about a man whose horse runs away. His sympathetic neighbors comment on his bad luck, and he responds, "we'll see." The next day the horse returns with three wild horses following behind. Now his neighbors rejoice and congratulate him on his good luck, but he remains noncommittal: "We'll see." The next day his son is thrown while trying to break one of the horses, and fractures his leg. "Such bad luck." "We'll see." Then the next day the military officials arrive to conscript his son, but he's laid up with the broken leg, so they pass him by. "What luck!" "We'll see." Etc.

So I think this is the deeper meaning of "giving no thought for the morrow." I do everything I need to do in the present, and then just forget about it. The present moment is the field of karma that one is constantly tilling. We are always planting little seeds that have varying timelines of development. Eventually, when something bad or good happens, it's easy to tie it to a proximate cause, much more difficult to relate it to its ultimate cause. I mostly worry about not planting any more lousy seeds.

I never imagine that my life will change in any fundamental way, no matter what happens. I realize that the environment I live in is in my head, and that the only way to really change things is to change my head. Here again, this can be confused with solipsism or narcissism, but it's quite the opposite. I just mean it in a very concrete, experience-near sense. You must be very, very careful about the ideas you allow to take up residence in your head, because they will end up sharply limiting your ability to know the Real, which always transcends any idea you have about it. Life is impossibly rich, with hundreds of little daily pleasures that will pass you by if you do not heighten your awareness and hone your ability to appreciate them. Never imagine that getting what you want will satisfy you so long as you cannot appreciate what you have.

I remember a patient of mine who was contemplating an affair. One reason I don't do therapy anymore is that I constantly blurted out things that therapists aren't supposed to say. In his case, I said words to the effect of, "why do you want another woman when you have no idea how to appreciate the one you have?" My professional training prevented me from adding, "you narcissistic bastard."

A little over four years ago I was diagnosed with adult onset type I diabetes. Such bad luck! Yet, I have never for a moment thought of it that way. It just is what it is. While it has certainly changed my life, I can't even say that it has been for the worse. As soon as the diagnosis came, I merely decided to be the best diabetic in the world. I work out at least once a day, always keep my blood sugar in a normal range, and keep my blood pressure and cholesterol even better than the normal range. Even so, you just never know. No matter what the state of your health, you can only try to tilt the odds in your favor, but there is always a random element, or at least an element that is so multifactorial and non-linear that there's nothing you can do about it.

One thing I do sometimes wonder about is the ticking time bombs that might be hidden in plain sight. For example, for a number of years we had a beautiful Great Dane named Finn. We got him from a rescue, so we didn't know much about his background. He had occasionally been a little aggressive, but it was nothing we thought we couldn't control. However, in 2005, out of the blue, he basically tried to eat me. I was pulling his bed from the living room to the bedroom, and he took it as a grave offense. He came at me like a grizzly bear, and if I hadn't been wearing a bathrobe, he probably would have severed an artery in my arm.

Long story short, all the dog trainers agreed that this was not something that could be trained out of him. It was more like a rage seizure that was totally unpredictable. In hindsight I realized the truth of this, because he would get this far-off look during these episodes, and appeared dazed and out of it for a few minutes afterwards. So with great reluctance, we had to put him down. It was very sad, because he was one of the most beautiful creatures I had ever seen, and most of the time he was quite endearing.

Such bad luck!

But then along came Future Leader a few months later, and I still almost swoon when I think of what might have happened. There is no doubt that he would have innocently crawled into Finn's bed, and then.... well, you probably would heard about it on TV.

So, what have we learned today? I don't know, I don't have time to reflect.

59 Comments:

Anonymous son of a preacher man said...

To all of you who dispare about the future.

[1] I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.

[2] God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying,

[3] Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life.

[4] But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal.

[5] Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.

-Romans 11: 1-5

10/09/2008 08:34:00 AM  
Blogger walt said...

One way or another, the purpose of the second half of life is to make a decisive turn toward the interior adventure, not to cling to the exterior one.

When I was a bit younger, and typically entangled with the affairs of life -- wine, women, money, singing -- (did I mention money?), I feared that I'd never shake loose of it, enough to cultivate the thread of spiritual interest that ran through the ten thousand things. But over time, I found that, more and more, I was emphasizing vertical things, and "winnowing" the horizontal ones.

Now the tables have been turned, and I manage to make every day a field of practice. It's great to have pulled at least a few body parts out of the horizontal Web. Great to know it can be done, at least somewhat. It is strange to die before you die, but there is certainly a taste of "freedom" to it, and it provides a little bounce in the step.

Without this late-season cultivation of Spirit I would feel my life to be a failure, so I prefer this -- hope-less, ha-ha, though it is!

10/09/2008 08:55:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"You must be very, very careful about the ideas you allow to take up residence in your head, because they will end up sharply limiting your ability to know the Real, which always transcends any idea you have about it."

Yes indeed. And of course, you must also be very careful about the ideas you refuse to allow to take up residence in your head, or even to come in to talk. Some of them might help you to pull back your curtains and let the sun stream in. Of course, some might provide delightful dinner conversation, and then knife you in your sleep.

Guests. What a pain they can be.

10/09/2008 09:17:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"Never imagine that getting what you want will satisfy you so long as you cannot appreciate what you have."

This phrase works equally as well as using mirrors,crosses and sunlight, in keeping leftists at bay.

10/09/2008 09:23:00 AM  
Blogger Niggardly Phil said...

"see their favorite team win the World Series,"


You couldn't resist rubbing it in to those Cubs fans, huh?

10/09/2008 10:11:00 AM  
Blogger Warren said...

Can't remember where I saw it or who said it, but many years ago I came across the sentence: "I don't want the things that I want". This sentiment was a total mystery to me for a long time, yet it stuck in my head... until a certain point in my mid-40s, when I suddenly understood it very, very well.

And you're right, almost everybody I've ever tried to explain this to took it for some kind of disillusionment or depression. To me, though, it just seems like... growing up.

10/09/2008 10:54:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I found turning 40 as if having had a raging fever dream and then waking up and realizing how good it feels just to feel good.

The fever dream still sometimes beckon--but it doesn't have nearly the same pull it did even a few years ago.

10/09/2008 11:20:00 AM  
Blogger Niggardly Phil said...

There is a line in Lawrence of Arabia, when he is told something to the effect of, "But you're free now, you can have whatever you want!" and he replies, "But I can't WANT whatever I want..."

10/09/2008 11:21:00 AM  
Anonymous will said...

>>But then they merely try to either perpetuate the same things, or ramp it up and try to wring more pleasure out of these things than there is in them<<

Thus the major metaphysical disservice of drugs like Viagra. Is there anything more pathetic than this constant slew of "enhancement" commercials on the tube? Well, yes, there is - the animated corpse that is Hugh Hefner. Without his usual 'nad sparkling concoctions, I'm sure he would have turned into dust a long time ago.

One blowback from these kind of drugs designed to keep us "young" forever - such drugs enable pedophiles who otherwise would not be able to enact their evil thoughts.

There's a steep price to be paid. At the beginning of the play Hamlet, when the young prince is confronted by the ghost of the murdered king, he is told that the really terrible thing about the murder is that he, the king, was taken from life while still full of passions. Thus he's now imprisoned in the purgatorial fires. This is one really spooky scene.

Moral - make spiritual hay while the sun shines for night is coming.

10/09/2008 11:23:00 AM  
Blogger Niggardly Phil said...

LAWRENCE
Look, Ali. Look! That's me. What colour
is it? That's me! And there's nothing I
can do about it.

ALI
A man can do whatever he wants, you said.

LAWRENCE
He can, but he can't want what he wants.
This is the stuff that decides what he
wants.

10/09/2008 11:26:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Walt- I cooncur wholeheartedly

Our culture, which is surprising (given the plain evidence of Reality) but comes as no suprise, has it quite backwards.

It has long been amazing to me the things humans justify with "Life is short" or "You only live once". As if the shortness of life somehow justified a longer life of adolescence.

10/09/2008 11:36:00 AM  
Blogger Paul said...

"You must be very, very careful about the ideas you allow to take up residence in your head, because they will end up sharply limiting your ability to know the Real, which always transcends any idea you have about it."

Egad, that's the whole battle, isn't it?

I like the phrase "allow to take up residence." It conveys two images to me:

1) Thoughts as entities looking for a home, and

2) One's role as landlord, and therefore having say-so over who or what rents out your noggin.

Keeping the riffraff out is certainly a full-time job...

10/09/2008 11:41:00 AM  
Blogger Niggardly Phil said...

Anon: epitomized in the Smiths', "Give in to Lust, Give Up to Lust, Heaven Knows We’ll Soon Be Dust" - every time I heard that I cocked my head like the RCA dog, "arrr?"

10/09/2008 11:51:00 AM  
Anonymous bob f. said...

We're not here to have a good time; when the good times come & people have lots of stuff faith and spirit seem to fade (vide Ireland in recent years). Maybe what is happening now, whatever that is, is just what the doctor ordered.

10/09/2008 12:10:00 PM  
Anonymous dilys said...

"Guests. What a pain they can be." For Van, from Rumi. Thoughts vs. thoughts, guests, invaders, and permanent attachments. Good post and enjoying the discussion.

Sr. Dilys & I've been thinking about "expectations" and "entitlements," especially in light of the financial run-up mourned as though it was real wealth, the fading of the stories entangled with it resented as theft. To expect, as entitled, anything-at-all, disables gratitude for bare life as a gift. It also dismantles "forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors," for, in the most literal and immediate sense, forgiving our debtors means saying whole-heartedly, "you owe me nothing. If I have forgotten that, I was wrong, please forgive me."

Entitlement is a static Dantean gaping demonic baby-bird mouth, saying, "feed me! feed me!"

Also excellent point about the "vital" first half of life. A lot of contemporary religious willies trace to adults trying to stamp out the appropriate stages of development and make elderly pseudo-saints out of already-sadly-badly-parent-deprived children.

10/09/2008 12:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Bulletproof Monk said...

"I realize that the environment I live in is in my head, and that the only way to really change things is to change my head. Here again, this can be confused with solipsism or narcissism, but it's quite the opposite. I just mean it in a very concrete, experience-near sense."

I agree, except I would change "head" to "heart" to be more in accord with the Christian Fathers. There is a divine symphony and synergy between head (mind/soul) and heart (spirit/connection with the Divine), but the source of our environment is ultimately the spiritual heart not the psyche. Again to put this in Christian terms, what we have control over is the operation and direction of our nous. We can choose where to direct its attentions, to the tempting thoughts (logismoi) of the world, or to the Divine Logos (dwelling in Christ).

"You must be very, very careful about the ideas you allow to take up residence in your head, because they will end up sharply limiting your ability to know the Real, which always transcends any idea you have about it."

Evagrius Ponticus would agree, whose spiritual approach informs both the Christian east (through St. Maximus the Confessor, John Climacus, and others) and west (through St. Benedict) to this day. And of course, what are mind parasites but logismoi that have taken up residence? Guard both the heart and mind, and deny bad ideas a point of entry and purchase.

Good stuff today Bob. Thanks.

10/09/2008 12:42:00 PM  
Blogger sawdust said...

Very good stuff indeed. Kind of the opposite of a "community organizer".

10/09/2008 12:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Bulletproof Monk said...

I also liked the "life stages" bit, because my experience has been the same.

In the first half of life, I sought a way to let the world have me.

In the second half of life, I seek The Way of ridding myself of the world...

...and thereby having It.

10/09/2008 01:30:00 PM  
Blogger ge said...

Yeah! the main benefit from making it to your 7th cycle [42nd year] is that you can by then envision and articulte the gesture of a spherical spiral; which performed, along with contributing your full fare, will allow you passage on many metropolitan busses

10/09/2008 02:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Bulletproof Monk said...

Hey GE, I love your myspace. I'm listening to "Polly of Gene Clark" now and am impressed. I also got a kick out of your early punk vid, and the "Natalie & Me" album cover.

10/09/2008 03:04:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

If it ever comes to this over here, instead of lamenting the loss of all that America stands for I'd like to think I shall take it as an opportunity to go on a permanent walkabout.

10/09/2008 03:11:00 PM  
Blogger ge said...

[Gee B-P Monk, gracias! my atheist friend did that colorful cover...He does movie posters for a living; we were in the new wave band also]

We gladly noted Bob's Steiner mention here, and happened to come across this old bookmark re Wagner & "Parsifal", which is sorta relevant: W wrote that baby late in life, necessarily so it seems. -Decades are needed to 'appreciate', plumb the suffering of the world? [now there's something to look forward to]

"As long as we regard blood merely as a substance that is built up of various chemical component parts, we cannot understand what took place on Golgotha. How was it that Wagner was able to find the right mood for his Parsifal? It is most important for us to recognize that Wagner was able to do this because he knew that what happened on Golgotha had especially to do with the blood, he knew that we had to see there not only the death of the Saviour but we had to see what took place there with the blood, how the blood was purified on Golgotha and became something quite different from ordinary blood. Wagner has spoken of the connection of the Saviour's blood with the whole of mankind. In his book “Paganism and Christianity” we read these words: “Having found that the capacity for conscious suffering is a capacity peculiar to the blood of the so-called white race, we must now go on to recognize in the blood of the Saviour the very epitome, as it were, of voluntary conscious suffering that pours itself out as divine compassion for the whole human race.”

And in another place Wagner says: “Because His will to save was so tremendously strong, the blood in the wine of the Saviour was able to be poured out for the redemption of all mankind when even the noblest races among men were falling into decay — poured out for their salvation, as divine sublimation, the blood that is associated with family or species.” The Saviour having come from a mingling of many different peoples, His blood was the symbol of compassion and blood in purified form.

Hardly has anyone even come so near to this mystery as Wagner did. It is indeed the power with which he approaches this mystery that constitutes his greatness as an artist. We must not think of him merely as a musician, but as one who possesses deep knowledge and understanding and whose desire it is to resuscitate for the people of modern times the mysteries of the Holy Grail. Before Wagner wrote his Parsifal little was known in Germany of the mysteries and of the characters of whom he tells..."
more:
http://wn.rsarchive.org/
Lectures/Prsfal_index.html

10/09/2008 04:17:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

“The presence of Future Leader assures us that every day is the same, and yet never the same. We are totally rooted in the moment, which is quite liberating.”

If you don’t allow him to have a now now, when will he have it?

10/09/2008 04:31:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

“We are always planting little seeds that have varying timelines of development.”

The Bible does this. I mean, I’ve lost track of the 3am morning glories. Well, not their quality.

10/09/2008 04:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Stu said...

The world seemed particularly burdonesome and fallen today.

So I took a long walk through Central Park to clear my soul. But I could not find silence.

So I laid down on the grass, closed my eyes and prayed -- for strength, redeption, salvation. I fell asleep.

I woke a half hour later to the sound of leaves rustling. I looked up into the tree above me, and about 10 feet up, there was big raccoon climbing around, eating berries off the tree. I didn't know that raccoons came out in broad daylight.

Anyways, the raccoon and I checked each other out, and I watched him go about his business for a few more minutes.

Manhattan was still the same cesspool it had been earlier, but the world didn't seem so burdonesome after that.

10/09/2008 04:59:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

“One thing I do sometimes wonder about is the ticking time bombs that might be hidden in plain sight.”

Yes.

10/09/2008 04:59:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Stu,
I was driving home, about 5:45 here in CT and saw a little deer in the middle of a field. Did a double-take for several reasons. I haven’t seen one since the spring. It was very small I thought for this time of year and it was all by itself in the middle of a very large, empty field.

10/09/2008 05:14:00 PM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

I can't dig the white race thing though. Don't sit so well with me. But o'course Wags was kind of looped out that way.

10/09/2008 05:16:00 PM  
Blogger johnsal said...

Thank you Bob for a very insightful and timely post. I have been blessed in my pre-retirement life with a wonderful family, living in Africa and LA, and speaking foreign languages. A life to be savored. While events may seem to be spinning out of control, you have metaphorically helped me pause and take a deep breath. I feel I am in the process of exploring natural and spiritual world around me. I have a long way to go mentally. But your thoughts here have helped me. Thank you, again.

10/09/2008 05:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wierd, the raccoon incident also happened around 5:45.

10/09/2008 05:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Christ Lover said...

Queried some leftists I know about Ayers/Dohrn connection. Response was unanimous: doesn't matter.

Why should it?

The Weather Underground represents a logical waypoint on the leftist hellbound express train.

I'm with Sussanah: He conquered fear. Do what we can to help our neighbor, but the rough beast sloucheth tonight...

10/09/2008 05:59:00 PM  
Anonymous maineman said...

Funny, but today was more peaceful and less grueling than had been the case for some time, kind of like the OC post seemed.

I had a thought, maybe a fantasy, that if Obama wins and the Dems are in charge, there will be no one and nothing for the Left to project its self-loathing onto.

Maybe then it will swallow its tail and go away, at least for awhile.

10/09/2008 08:16:00 PM  
Anonymous anonymouse said...

Can we hear the story about FDR sucked again?

10/09/2008 08:38:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Certainly!

Here it is from UCLA!

FDR's policies prolonged Depression by 7 years, UCLA economists calculate

By Meg Sullivan| 8/10/2004 12:23:12 PM
"Two UCLA economists say they have figured out why the Great Depression dragged on for almost 15 years, and they blame a suspect previously thought to be beyond reproach: President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

After scrutinizing Roosevelt's record for four years, Harold L. Cole and Lee E. Ohanian conclude in a new study that New Deal policies signed into law 71 years ago thwarted economic recovery for seven long years.

"Why the Great Depression lasted so long has always been a great mystery, and because we never really knew the reason, we have always worried whether we would have another 10- to 15-year economic slump," said Ohanian, vice chair of UCLA's Department of Economics. "We found that a relapse isn't likely unless lawmakers gum up a recovery with ill-conceived stimulus policies.""


(uh-oh...)

"In an article in the August issue of the Journal of Political Economy, Ohanian and Cole blame specific anti-competition and pro-labor measures that Roosevelt promoted and signed into law June 16, 1933...."

Always happy to help a fool out!

10/09/2008 08:52:00 PM  
Anonymous austracoon said...

"why do you want another woman when you have no idea how to appreciate the one you have?"

Deu 24:5 When a man hath taken a new wife, he shall not go out to war, neither shall he be charged with any business: but he shall be free at home one year, and shall cheer up his wife which he hath taken.

10/09/2008 10:12:00 PM  
Anonymous anonymouse said...

Thanks, loser.

The dumbass can't figure out that the Lord is punishing America for its greed!

10/09/2008 10:17:00 PM  
Anonymous anonymouse said...

So much for late-nite trolling. Looks like everybody still has a job.

So how about some good non-governmental solutions to these worldwide confidence crises - as in a 'panic antidote'? Remember, government involvement will be considered cheating.

10/10/2008 12:20:00 AM  
Blogger Susannah said...

"You must be very, very careful about the ideas you allow to take up residence in your head, because they will end up sharply limiting your ability to know the Real, which always transcends any idea you have about it."

"Taking every thought captive..."

Sometimes I visualize this by enclosing the hell-born thought in a "thought bubble" and sending it to God (with an "I'm sorry" attached).

Wow, Julie. That link you gave perfectly illustrates the evils of bureaucracy.

Bob, your post is a wonderful explication of being in the world, but not of it...of living in a totally different "stream." What a vivid illustration Finn's unfortunate end was.

It occurred to me while I was contemplating this post and the last one that Leslie's friend rejected her because she cannot access the living stream. She's replaced multi-dimensional living with one-dimensional living. It's amazing how quickly a person's moral sense goes south when they reject the only true Source of goodness; how the hardened heart views good as evil and vice versa.

Being a total jerk to people you supposedly "care about" and have an invested relationship with, suddenly becomes a good thing, done service to your politician (idol)-worship. Rudeness, hatred, vile language...it's at unprecedented levels. Remember what the left did to Rick Santorum? Junior high name ridicule, in service of...what? We're supposed to believe a cause that uses such tactics is a righteous one? Cf. that pile of steaming bile somebody recently wrote about her visceral hatred of Sarah Palin. Well, there have been so many that I've lost count. Is it any wonder we look on with alarm at what leftism does to people? They would have us believe the world will be a better place with them in charge?

I can't even imagine... My MIL votes opposite of me most of the time, I'm sure, but I love her, and she loves me. I can't even imagine rejecting each other over a crappy *politician.*

It's obvious that quite a few people out there badly need to get religion. They are replacing faith in God with some pretty poisonous stuff.

"The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever!"

10/10/2008 06:21:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well the cause of the length of the Great Depression is arguable. The New Deal was really just hiding some of the symptoms, but I think that's been known for some time. I seriously doubt personally that Roosevelt prolonged it, because honestly with 25% unemployment it could have gone on forever had it not been for all the extra spending during the war.

But honestly where do you go when you have 1/4 of workers with no jobs?

Perhaps pro-labor laws and anti-competition laws did stifle economic recovery, but to what extent? Considering the worst year of the Great Depression was the year he signed those into law I don't see how there is any conclusive evidence. It isn't like the economy was on the upside by the time those laws were signed, so what correlation do the economist have that FDR prolonged it?

I mean, what about the tariffs proposed by Hoover that deepened the depression? Or the fact that the workers weren't given any relief right off the bat? I think the depression would have been much shorter had it not been allowed to get so bad in the first place, and FDR's contribution to its duration pales in comparison to Hoover's. Roosevelt for sure didn't come up with the plan that ended the depression, but it was going to be long no matter what. FDR I don't think prolonged it, had he done nothing I'm sure it could have easily been longer, but what he did do was make it last longer than had other alternatives been put in place. The thing is the depression could have been longer had it not been for the issue of spending.

But now the issue with this economic problem is that we've over-spent. How will this economic crisis be solved?

10/10/2008 06:49:00 AM  
Blogger Niggardly Phil said...

"had it not been for all the extra spending during the war."


Now there's a handy myth, war leads to prosperity because it increases production and jobs. Consumption nosedives before and during war, demand goes in the toilet, and converting production to war goods, the price for which is set, the suspension of the free market, R&D is devoted totally to killing, etc. War is invariably bad for the economy, since you kill consumers or send them overseas. Only when the war ended, and people started procreating, did things get better, when all the pent up demand from the war released. War is always an evil, sometimes a necessary one, but never good for anything, except as negating a negation is good - in a negative way.

post hoc ergo propter hoc.

10/10/2008 07:42:00 AM  
Blogger NoMo said...

anon - Solved? I'm definitely gonna have to go with the Pope on this one...

"...the global credit crisis shows that the world's financial systems are "built on sand" and that only the works of God have "solid reality".

"We are now seeing, in the collapse of major banks, that money vanishes, it is nothing. All these things that appear to be real are in fact secondary. Only God's words are a solid reality."

Sand.

10/10/2008 07:49:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

anonymous said "Perhaps pro-labor laws and anti-competition laws did stifle economic recovery, but to what extent? ... FDR I don't think prolonged it, had he done nothing I'm sure it could have easily been longer, but what he did do was make it last longer than had other alternatives been put in place."

Ooh... looks like you just about succeeded in denying what you were starting to see... try this one, careful, it'll make evasion very painful:
FDR's Folly: How Roosevelt and His New Deal Prolonged the Great Depression by Jim Powell

Or a quick google search found this one for free - I can't speak for the site or more than a quick scan to see if it hit the basic facts, but with that, it seemed to show some, at best, poor judgment and convenient motives regarding the biggest Gold heist in history.

Personally, I don't put dark or nefarious motives to FDR, or his attempts at handling the situation, but his acceptance of New! Progressive! Scientific! notions for Gov't to manage the market - and substitute its conclusions for the choices people would otherwise have made - caused nearly inconceivable harm, not only to our economy, but to the world, and not just to its economy. Where would Hitler have been, without the crises of the Great Depression?

Decisions of this scale have long range consequences... as I'm afraid we're soon to find out.

Yes Hoover was most definitely culpable. A 'conservative' who tried to juggle ideas of a Free Market, with the wizbang new popular Progressive ideas, he, like our current President Bush, didn't fully understand the ideas behind the free market (which are Not economic, but which do result in free economic policies), caved, and went with Gov't controls.

Hoover, FDR, Bush... weren't bad people, or even foolish people, but they didn't understand what they should have, and they believed that Gov't not only could, but should solve the problem; and that ensured that all the rest would follow. BTW, Hoover didn't cause it either, he only furthered it along. If you want a more tangible cause, look to Wilson and The Federal Reserve Act of 1913 (a very bad year), but even there, the intellectual roots, and some precedents, go further back as well.

What should we do now? Honestly, I don't know. I suspect, that the best thing to do would be to let the bankruptcies happen and the market to handle it - as they will need to in the end, even with the Gov't controls telling them how to handle it - but the market is so far from free now, so wrapped up in, and hamstrung by regulations and agencies... I really don't know.

The idea that this bailout (getaway would be a better label) will solve or prevent anything at all is, I think, very wishful thinking. There is going to be a huge problem, the real question is how long it will be forced to play out, and how wide and deep it's effects will be made to go.

10/10/2008 08:09:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just shutter to think where we would be economically if we had not liberated Iraq.

10/10/2008 08:52:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Sorry, forgot I was dealing with an aninnymouse.

You may go.

10/10/2008 09:20:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh no, Van, I wasn't saying I couldn't see how FDR's legislation could prolong the depression, what I'm saying is that it's a factor that essentially remains unknown in terms of what kind of damage it really did since the reason we came out of the Great Depression had nothing to do with the legislation already in place.

Additionally we don't know if it really had a negative impact anyway because--even if its only coincidence--that legislation was put in place right at lowest point of the depression, and to say things improved would be an exaggeration because really they just stopped being as bad.

We have no benchmarks because things didn't start improving beforehand. EG if we saw things improving and then FDR's solution were implemented did they slow the improvements? Well we don't actually know because no real solution came about until we realized, "Hey lets spend our way out of this mess"

I've seen that economists and historians are stumped on it because a few too many factors go in, personally I think it is a mix. I do think FDR prolonged the depression, but not any more than any other responsible parties, but we'll never really know how bad it was because somebody was smart enough to figure out we had to spend our way out. Had we not done that I'm sure the depression could have easily lasted over another 5 or 6 years.

And I'm not blaming Hoover for the depression either, but he was a little too... uh... virtuous for this country's overall well-being in a time like that.

10/10/2008 09:40:00 AM  
Anonymous anonymouse said...

“I think the depression would have been much shorter had it not been allowed to get so bad in the first place”

”Now there's a handy myth, war leads to prosperity because it increases production and jobs.”

“What should we do now? Honestly, I don't know.“


Economies are machines fueled by confidence (for lack of a better word). Confidence breeds risk-taking, new ideas, extensions of credit, living large.. which are obviously translated into expanding economic opportunities. The problem is that confidence in many humans, is tenuous at best, and they do crave the “dear leader” or focus of some sort, in tough times. Additionally, there’s a risk of a catastrophic loss of faith in the unfettered market system which could take years of preaching (by the Vans of the world) to rectify. Seems like a terrible waste of effort.

10/10/2008 09:41:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh there is another anon here, sorry van I'm the one you responded too, and the one who just wrote that long response. One in the middle is somebody else.

10/10/2008 09:41:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well Anon #2, the thing about economies being fueled by confidence is they still need enough general wealth to have an impact. If it falls beyond a sustainable system, regaining wealth isn't possible. Hence why 3rd world countries just can't just get out of being 3rd world economies.

10/10/2008 09:45:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

*isn't possible by increasing confidence.

10/10/2008 09:45:00 AM  
Anonymous anonymouse said...

There is only one anonymouse here.

So confidence was no factor with China, Chile, Columbia..?

Confidence is one variable, which varies in importance as a variable. For developed nations, confidence is most influential at the extremes – with overheated bubble building economies and with panic or depression stricken frozen economies.

I’m trying to get Mr. Wizard (Van) to answer what libertarian/objectivist/vandasians do not seem to answer very well: “What do we do if the worst happens?”

10/10/2008 11:56:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

The interesting anonymous said "I've seen that economists and historians are stumped on it because a few too many factors go in..."

No time now, but your description of uncertainty about the causes of the depression, and its length, grants a lot more ignorance of economic cause and effect than we now have, not to mention of the principles that always were, or rather the amount most economists grant when looking back, as compared with what they pretend to know when looking forward.

Try the book I linked, it makes a very strong case, and backs it up with documentation. Milton Freidman sketched things out as well.

the aninnymouse said "Economies are machines fueled by confidence (for lack of a better word)."

'Stock Markets' are not synonymous with the economies they serve.

The root of the economy is Production. The necessary ingredient for growing it is Law, Property Rights, and a society that respects them. The role 'confidence' plays in an economy, is that of how confident people are that they will retain the right to their property. Damage that confidence, and the rest will be worthless.

There are several studies out there ... at AEI? Cato? that show the relation of third world poverty to a lack of property rights and a legal system that isn't corrupt (found one here)

"I’m trying to get Mr. Wizard (Van) to answer what libertarian/objectivist/vandasians do not seem to answer very well: “What do we do if the worst happens?”

Stop listening to idiots like you.

10/10/2008 12:25:00 PM  
Anonymous anonymouse said...

The role 'confidence' plays in an economy, is that of how confident people are that they will retain the right to their property. Damage that confidence, and the rest will be worthless.

The role 'confidence' plays in an economy, is that of how confident people are that they will retain their property. Damage that confidence, and the rest will be worth less.

Stop listening to idiots like you.
In other words, you have no answers.

10/10/2008 01:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Try the book I linked, it makes a very strong case, and backs it up with documentation. Milton Freidman sketched things out as well."

Well van while you might believe that, there are also cases against it as well. Powell isn't the first to mention it, and he's not the first to be refuted. It's been a back and forth argument. If you present the right evidence for it anything can sound possible especially if only supporting evidence is presented.

I mean I could easily prove a lot of things if I ignored evidence against what supported me, and if nobody knew any different then it would sound perfectly reasonable.

As for anonymous, aren't you arguing exactly what I argued for? Except now you're trying to argue me by using my arguments. I honestly had to reread what I wrote to see if you actually negated it, which you didn't, but you somehow made it sound like you were trying to.

10/10/2008 06:31:00 PM  
Anonymous anonymouse said...

Which anonymous? To distinguish myself from the anonymous hive mind, I've called myself "anonymouse". I also prefer to put my periods outside of the quotes.

I was with you until you (or another anonymous) threw this little bugger in:

*isn't possible by increasing confidence.

hence the subsequent post.

Van, besides taking great pride in his position as village watchdog, doesn’t seem to understand or care that while one can sell practically anything they want in America, people gotta wanna buy.

10/11/2008 04:58:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

aninnymouse said "Van, besides taking great pride in his position as village watchdog, doesn’t seem to understand or care that while one can sell practically anything they want in America, people gotta wanna buy."

While you on the other hand, as an apparent flea riding upon the back of what has already been created, you are unaware the human experience of reality.

You can wanna buy, all you want. You can even really, really, really, really, wanna, wanna, wanna, buy, but if nobody has first created something for you to buy, your dollar bill, or thousand dollar bill, is worth more as rolling paper than anything else.

Take a gander at Say's Law, and then start working your way forward. If you can manage to void the statists and marxists, you might develop beyond the state of the flea.

Woof.

10/11/2008 06:41:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

After scanning down the wiki link and nearly ralphing on the bluring into Keynes, here's a link that goes back to the source.

Say's "A Treatise on Political Economy".

Beats the hell out of whatever they mistaught you in college.

At the same site, look up Bastiat, well worth your while.

10/11/2008 06:51:00 PM  
Anonymous anonymouse said...

Fleas buy low and jump high. My point (not clear I’ll admit) involved your selling of ‘vandasianism’ to the disgruntled “America is heading in the wrong direction” masses, who historically tend to turn against the political incumbent when times are tough. Unless you can save the day, here comes Obama. So I look to Say’s Law for a possible answer (is there a Cliffs Notes for this stuff? My time’s a bit limited these days).

Say’s Law: The more goods for which there is demand that are produced, the more those goods (supply) can constitute a demand for other goods.

Alright, what would people want or need to buy today, besides sock darning equipment? Not much spinoff potential in needles n thread – it's gotta have lots of components. These should sell like hotcakes:

http://www.teslamotors.com/

Look at the specs. I know mechanical and electrical engineers who are clueless (when they’re not presenting some conspiracy theory) as to why Chevy, or Toyota, or whoever.. cannot mass produce, for a good price, a car that even comes close to the performance of one which a ragtag bunch of silicon valley gearheads are building. What’s going on here? Does the government need to step in to enforce or break up something? If not, who? Is Tesla selling snake oil?

10/11/2008 07:54:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

aninnymouse said "is there a Cliffs Notes for this stuff? My time’s a bit limited these days"

Got that right. Here you go,
J.B. Say: The Forgotten Early Austrian

"The analysis of interest rates is very perceptive and, in most respects, remarkably Austrian. First, Say realizes that the interest rate is not the price of money, but the price of credit, or "capital lent."47 Therefore, it is false that "the abundance or scarcity of money regulates the rate of interest."48 Of course, Say is thinking of the real rate of interest, not the nominal, or market, rate. He also clearly sees that interest rates will include some risk premium as a sort of insurance to protect against loss due to default.49 Such a risk premium will become very large when, for example, laws are imposed so that creditors have no legal recourse against a debtor who defaults.50 Furthermore, Say identifies the fact that there are "political risk" differentials between nations that lead to an international array of nominal interest rates.51 Overall, in terms of public policy, Say adopts the same stance with regard to credit markets that he exhibits elsewhere: namely, the state should not meddle. The "rate of interest ought no more to be restricted, or determined by law, than . . . the price of wine, linen, or any other commodity."

Super cliff's notes version: When Gov't meddles in the market, kiss your ass goodbye.

How do you fix it? Get Gov't out of it. Not willing or able to do that? Kiss your ass goodbye.

Looking for answers to a problem you're not willing to recognize, let alone fix? Kiss your ass goodbye.

What do I recommend?

Lipstick.

10/11/2008 08:48:00 PM  
Anonymous aninnymouse said...

So who would pay for the inevitable debtors prisons? No.. not prisons, but ‘Involuntary Infrastructure, Berry Picking, Port and Border Protection Services (wrecks and reeks)! Businesses would be taxed what it would cost to ‘maintain’ these people, eliminating that amount of taxation for the solvent (or the operation would be privatized and civil rights attorneys would have something more to do). At the end of the day, credit would be cheap and unlimited, unwanted labor would be done for cheap by American citizens, infrastructure would be rebuilt and maintained, and we’d be that much more secure!

10/12/2008 07:04:00 PM  

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