Thursday, August 20, 2009

You are Charged with Being Guilty of Innocence!

I tells you what: I just discovered something. It's hard to blog about anything other than what I'm actually thinking about. To turn it around, the reason why blogging is so easy for me is that it gives me an outlet for -- well, as Bob Dylan put it, I got a head full of ideas / that are drivin' me insane.

As you may recall, we spent the first seven or so months of 2009 blogging about nothing but Balthasar, Balthasar, Balthasar. Why? Because I ware reading nothing but Balthasar, Balthasar, Balthasar. His body of work is so vast, that I decided to stop reading him so that my blogging could catch up to it. But now the blogging can't catch up, because I'm on to something else, thinking about other things.

This whole idea of "catching up" with myself is odd. It's as if the posts are my vapor trail -- or, as the trolls would say, my "back end." I'm always aware of cutting into the cosmic edge -- or the edge of myself, at any rate -- while the blog is a kind of real-time diary of my non-efforts.

This is also why I can't even think about writing another book. Blogging -- at least the way I blog -- is utterly different from writing, as different as, say, work and play, or comedy and drama, or music and architecture, or jazz and classical. The danger, of course, is that blogging can descend into mere self-indulgence, like the present post.

Is this post actually going anywhere? That's the thing -- I have no idea until I get there. You can't write a book that way. Publisher: "So, what's the book about?" Me: "Good question. I have no idea. I'll let you know when I get there." In fact, my agent wants to know how "the next book is coming along." The good news? It's done -- as is the followup. The bad news? They're entangled somewhere inside 1,500 blog posts, and I'm not the man to disentangle them.

So yesterday we had some objections from one of those traditionalist commenters who believes that history took a wrong turn with the renaissance. This is what Schuon and all of his followers believe. First of all, I do not ridicule their point of view. These are serious men, and even if you disagree with them, it is still worthwhile to read what they have to say.

There are two dangers, I think. The first is idealizing the past and denigrating the present; the second is idealizing the present and denigrating the past. I simply take a moderate position -- which is not the same as a mealy-mouthed compromise.

Rather, I think the only proper conservative position is to preserve the best of the past, not the whole thing, lock, crock and barrel. I think Schuon would counter that cultures are organic, and that you cannot simply pick and choose what you like and don't like.

But this overlooks the fact that once we awaken to the dream of culture, we cannot get back inside the dream. You cannot go home again. Man could no more return to a premodern mentality than an individual can go back to his childhood.

Remember the film American Beauty, in which Kevin Spacey determines that his life took a wrong turn with adolescence? He tries to recover his proper future by returning to the past and reliving his life over. At the very end of the movie, he is seen looking at a photo of his family, as if awakening to the infinite value of his present life. Then a bullet to the head. At least he dies a happy man.

This reminds me of an old patient of mine. Like Kevin Spacey, he was a sad and angry middle aged man who thought that his life had gone completely off track somewhere along the line. In his case, he traced it back to the experience of the 1960s. He had been something of a "square," and was therefore "on the outside looking in" on that dionysian decade.

But as we eventually discovered, "the sixties" was just a symbol for him of his own alienation from the vital core of himself. His visions of beautiful hippy chicks dancing naked in the rain were just a projection of his own suppressed vitality. They were as real as those commercials that show supermodels pounding beer on the beach while playing touch football with the guys. Yeah, that's what supermodels do. Hang out with drunken losers and throw up on the beach.

As far as I am concerned, it is just too easy to be "alienated," whatever historical era you were born into. Who feels completely comfortable on earth except for a well-loved child or well-stocked opium eater? I can guarantee you that if Schuon had been born in 1500, he'd be complaining about....

Well, we don't even have to really speculate. One of the values of this history of American conservatism is that it demonstrates the continuity of a kind of mindset that endures despite changes in the content. There's always something to complain about. Things are always going to hell in a handbasket. But only always. Once you are aware of this, then you can appreciate how the container determines the content, so to speak. Whenever this pattern occurs, you are trapped within a kind of parasite, because you are no longer apprehending reality, only your model of reality (which will be self-authenticating, only focusing on those aspects of reality that confirm it).

This is why, as Allitt points out, prior to the 1950s, conservatism was much more of an attitude than any fixed ideology. On the one hand, it is always skeptical, discerning, elitist. But this can conceal a kind of romantic naïveté about the past, as if one could resolve one's existential problems by living in a more coongenial time. You might say that progressives escape existence by romanticizing the future, while a certain type of conservative does so by romanticizing the past. But I simply see no evidence that people in the past were any less troubled than people of the present. They were just troubled in different ways and by different things, that's all.

In a comment yesterday, I mentioned that this book I'm reading, The Age of Wonder, goes into the history of surgical anesthesia, which was not available in England until 1853. Prior to that, the horror of surgery was mind-boggling. Were people back then tougher than we are? Yes, perhaps marginally. But none would have chosen their lot had they had an alternative. These procedures were "unimaginably painful. The pain also caused shock, which itself could kill. The only known form of a painkiller [alcohol] was largely a method of controlling terror and deadening shock..."

He writes of one physician who performed over 200 amputations on the battlefield in a single 24 hour period (using Obama math, he would have earned a cool ten million dollars that day, i.e., 200 x $50,000). Imagine his horror! There is the account of a woman with cancer who had a mastectomy done without anesthesia in 1811: "When the dreadful steel was plunged into the breast -- I needed no injunction to restrain my cries. I began a scream that lasted [continuously] during the whole time of the incision.... So excruciating was the agony... All descriptions would be baffled... I felt the Knife racking against my breast bone -- scraping it!"

Now, I do believe that most people were probably "different" in the past. In a comment, Susannah touches on the reasons why, that is, the prevalence of infant mortality. She writes that,

"One of the unifying features is that every mother lost a child to some disease or other that we now think nothing about, thanks to vaccinations [not to mention antibiotics -- ever tried to endure the screams of a child with an earache?]. It's heartbreaking to contemplate. I can't even imagine how fearful the first appearance of a cough or fever must have been. I read or listen to a lot of 19th century American writings, and notice the frequency of death, the length of illnesses (weeks in bed!) and the mistaken notions of medicine that were just par for the course then. In short, like you, I am very, very grateful for modernity."

I do not see how infant mortality couldn't have had an adverse effect on attachment and bonding, and therefore adult character and psychopathology. I think for many mothers, it was just too painful to bond with a child until there was some certainty that the child would survive. But those first 6-12 months of infancy are when the baby most needs the "infinite love" of the mother. Deprived of it, they would grow up to be emotionally blunted themselves, since their "core" wasn't intimately responded to when their brain neurology was being assembled. Talk about 'missing the sixties'!

In fact, there is another chapter on the European discovery of the "innocent paradise" of Tahiti in the late 18th century. They were sexually free (to the sailors' delight) and had no notion of private property. Therefore, theft was totally natural. Also totally natural was infanticide, so common that no one gave it a second thought. It was "used with regularity and without compunction as a form of birth control." The explorer, Joseph Banks, questioned couples "who freely admitted to destroying two or three children, showing not the slightest apparent guilt or regret."

You see? Innocence. Isn't it wonderful? But forgive them Father, for they know not what they do.


Van said...

"Rather, I think the only proper conservative position is to preserve the best of the past, not the whole thing, lock, crock and barrel. "

Agreed, but it of course depends on how you identify what the best was - result, or the thinking process that produced the best of those results.

Sort of my problem with Constitutional Originalists in law (Scalia, Bork, etc), though far superior to leftie schools such as positivism, etc (which uses the constitution only in order to get around the constitution), it is a a kind of WWFD 'What Would the Founders Do'... which I think would really offend them, as it would any self respecting revolutionary. They put their all on the line for the principles of liberty and freedom as they discovered them through classical liberalism, and applied them to their world and their understanding of their circumstances. I think they'd be horrified at our attempting to take their conclusions, absent the reasoning which produced them, and pasting them into our world and circumstances - it is doing violence to the very principles they pledged their 'lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor' to advance.

Traditionalists of most stripes seem to do that... try to take the appearance of past wisdom, and paste it into the present as if something like wearing suit and tie in and of itself, is going to produce the maturity that chooses to wear a suit and tie.

Ok, back to reading.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"There's always something to complain about. Things are always going to hell in a handbasket. But only always."

Yep. I don't recall a time when I didn't hear that term, or say it myself at times. The grass is always greener...

"Once you are aware of this, then you can appreciate how the container determines the content, so to speak."

Precisely! Bein' full of handbaskets postmarked for hell is no kind of livin'.

"Whenever this pattern occurs, you are trapped within a kind of parasite, because you are no longer apprehending reality, only your model of reality (which will be self-authenticating, only focusing on those aspects of reality that confirm it)."

Aye. Well said, Bob! It's a sad to see. I've seen a person very close to me get trapped into this distorted view of reality and actually panic (freak out) over all the various calamities she can possibly think of that "could" ever possibly happen.

The hopelessness and bleakness of such a horrendous model of reality is obviously overwhelming, and no matter what you say, there's always another handbasket thrown in your face.

In fact, you hafta be careful what you say because you might become an object of the anger a person trapped in that self imposed reality feels.

I'm generally optimistic, with a cynical streak. I always have been. There have been very few times in my life wehere I felt utter hopelessness, or utter despair (to the point where I considered suicide).

I have hope, and I know it's not wishful thinking or some kind of fantasy. Even before I accepted the reality of God I was a hopeful person...mostly.

True hope is a reassurance of God, by God, through God, and you know that He has your best interests in mind.
Thus, even in the worst of times, hope springs eternal.
God is in control. Jesus talks about this, tellin' us not to worry about this or that, and to give him our burdens...I'm sure NoMo can come up with the exact scriptures.

But if you say this to someone trapped in a hellish reality? Try to point out the silver linings?
Or say don't worry?
Be prepared for an onslaught of rage.
At least that's my experience. It's hard to watch, and you can't (or shouldn't) take it personally.
Don't confuse mind parasites with the people you love.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"Whenever this pattern occurs, you are trapped within a kind of parasite, because you are no longer apprehending reality, only your model of reality (which will be self-authenticating, only focusing on those aspects of reality that confirm it)."

I reckon you could also call this a negative hope, so to speak, or a "hope" in despair.
Mind parasites are very insidious the way they twist meanings and try to fulfill or justify the hell in a handbasket attitude.

Northern Bandit said...

For a number of years I was in airline security and experienced directly the Left's efforts to undermine it at every turn. More recently I'm consulting to one of the biggest of the big pharma companies. I've learned a lot about the effort and capital required to bring drugs to market, and a lot about the people who do this work. They're well-aware of the lives that are saved and salvaged through their herculean efforts. Since Europe has all but destroyed her once significant pharma industry, the US will soon be the last great hope on THAT front as well. Unless the Left has their way. Of all the despicable, unhinged aspects of the Left, their unrelenting attacks on this industry strike me as possibly the worst. God help us if the likes of Ted Kennedy (who is of course receiving the world's best care) are successful in crushing the one source of new life-saving and pain-relieving drugs on earth.

Or maybe Obama will pull those out his magic hat as well.

Anonymous said...

Bob,great post. It is the voice of calm reason, stating that a perception of crisis can become a chronic and erroneous mindset.

A balanced viewpoint of the value of the past and the value of the present, in some kind of harmony--this is medicine to the racked modern mind.

The past was no picnic.

The discussion of the stoicism of peoples past was fascinating. Doubtless the folk of the future will think some of what we undergo today would be unbearable, like invasive surgery and the like.

But as you suggest, it is doubtful that people change much in their essence over time.

julie said...

Speaking of mind parasites, Ben, Rachel Lucas has an excellent post up about stopping smoking. (I know, Bob, you're not a fan. But this one is worth reading, for anyone interested.)

A tidbit:

What made me quit is fourfold and all came together in my mind at the exact same time, literally pretty much in the space of a few days, even if it took me another several weeks to assemble it all in my head and do something with it: (1) a good man, (2) an English spring/early summer, (3) turning 37, and (4) C.S. Lewis.

Northern Bandit said...

From LAT of all places:

Caldwell's assessment of what's at stake [re European submission to Islam] can also be adduced from his approving citation of philosopher Jürgen Habermas, an atheist, who after a dialogue with then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) declared: "Christianity, and nothing else, is the ultimate foundation of liberty, conscience, human rights and democracy. . . . To this day, we have no other options. We continue to nourish ourselves from this source. Everything else is postmodern chatter."

Basic common sense evident to the greenest coon begins to dawn on the nuanced press.

Ricky Raccoon said...

My father hasn’t smoked in 30 years. He’s 75 now. We were talking, my father and father-in-law recently, and I asked him if he missed it. He said he did. He answered instantly and very matter of fact. That he loved to smoke. It was sort of shocking. I didn’t expect it was something he still wanted to do as if he’d never stopped at all. He said he could smoke first thing in the morning. Loved to after a meal. All you’ve heard. He said he could smoke in the shower. I can picture that, and it seems funny at first.

Wilber Wood said...

I'm all for infinitely loving infants, children, spouses, etc., but this paradigm, somehow, can't explain the contrary phenomena of so many amazing sages prior to the decline of high infant mortality rates. Even more suprising, however, is tha in the modern world, what with its leveling and dumbing down tendencies, I can count on less than one finger how many true sages exist, at least in the first world. I am told a number still exist in India, but here again, that messes with the paradigm, etc.
Somehow, it all reminds me of Judas selling out Jesus for 30 shekels of anethesia.

Gagdad Bob said...

It's a long way from Denys to Maximus and then Maximus to St. Symeon. And I like Balthasar, Schuon, Abhishiktananda just fine. Besides, aren't you overlooking the Law of Compensations?

bob f. said...

Some comments on Van's remarks about Constitutional Originalists: I've been a lawyer for a long time (sorry 'bout that), most of that time a libertarian before morphing into some sort of radical conservative (yeah, I know) after 9-11. Law school is a trade school; expecting an attorney (that's all judges are) to give you a coherent theory of law is like asking your plumber about his theory of hydrolics. I would rather visit the dentist than have to read another tedious (is there any other kind?) Supreme Court opinion.
So where to go to find out what the Constitution means? Start by reading it, over and over; you can omit the procedural parts after one or two readings. After getting a good handle on the terms in the body of the Constitution read the Preamble, and ask yourself, "Self, what is this document doing?"
The Preamble states, "We the people of the United ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."
OK, consider this: if the federal government is entirely the creation of the People, what does that tell us about the powers the government lawfully has?
So looking to understand what the Constitution is and means is not a question of asking, "What would the Founders do?" It is a matter of understanding what they already did in writing the Constitution.
This is a radically different vision of government from what crawls and creeps out of Europe.

Gagdad Bob said...

Yes. My personal objection to socialized medicine is that no one -- least of all the state -- has a legal right to my labor. I say to the state: I don't work for you; rather, vice versa.

goddinpotty said...

Imagine the following non-existent utterances:

Police officer: My personal objection to socialized police departments is that no one -- least of all the state -- has a legal right to my labor.

Fire person: My personal objection to socialized fire departments is that no one -- least of all the state -- has a legal right to my labor.

Teacher: My personal objection to socialized schools is that no one -- least of all the state -- has a legal right to my labor.

VA Doctor: My personal objection to socialized medicine is that no one -- least of all the state -- has a legal right to my labor.

Aside from the above-mentioned VA (a fully-socialized form of health-care delivery which works pretty well), nobody in the healthcare debate is even considering anything even remotely as "socialized" as we currently have for the delivery of a large variety of services. And remarkably, the police officers and others involved in the delivery of such services don't seem to feel that their labor is being stolen from them.

Ricky Raccoon said...

You can't be serious.

Gagdad Bob said...

Paranoids are always serious.

Gagdad Bob said...

Why they are such worthy figures of comedy....

Ricky Raccoon said...

Honestly, what does he do, throw a dart at a telephone book? How does he come up with this stuff.

julie said...


Ricky Raccoon said...


Gagdad Bob said...

I don't know. He doesn't strike me as employable.

Ricky Raccoon said...

Fire watcher.

Gagdad Bob said...

No -- maybe one of those guys that stands on the offramp jumping around with a sign point to the El Boca Vista condos.

Ricky Raccoon said...


Gagdad Bob said...

At least we know why he's so passionate about free mental health care.

julie said...

He can't be a veteran; nobody who's had to deal with the VA for anything serious would say with airy confidence that it "works pretty well."

Gagdad Bob said...

From my experience, it's mainly a place to employ otherwise unemployable physicians. At least it was that way at the state mental hospital where I interned.

julie said...

I believe that. That's how it was with a lot of the staff in the long-term care wards my stepdad frequented.

goddinpotty said...
Longman cites a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2003 comparing veterans' hospitals with fee-for-service health care funded by Medicare. Both, of course, constitute socialized medicine in the sense that both are paid for by the federal government; but the hospitals treating elderly patients on Medicare are not government-run institutions. By every criterion, the New England Journal found the veterans' hospitals to be superior. This is especially striking when one considers, as the New England Journal noted, that patients in VA hospitals:

are more likely to be in poor health; to have a low level of education, disability, or a low income; to be black; and to have higher rates of psychiatric illness. These characteristics are associated with receiving poorer quality care.

Surveys by the National Committee for Quality Assurance and other organizations, have reached the same conclusion. The superiority of VA hospitals is so obvious that by now it ought to be common knowledge.

julie said...

Thanks, g - that would have been so comforting to know while helping my mom haul a paralyzed 6'3" man from bed to wheelchair to shower room because the staff couldn't be bothered. Also, watching her try to move him on her own to prevent bedsores, again because the staff couldn't be bothered. That was real quality. They had very important things to do, you know - there was daytime TV, and those pizzas weren't going to order themselves. Also, just try and find somebody who knows how to properly clean a trach.

If that's an improvement, I'd hate to see what the conditions are under Medicare.

Van said...

Bob F. said "After getting a good handle on the terms in the body of the Constitution read the Preamble, and ask yourself, "Self, what is this document doing?"

Certainly a much better place than not starting at all, but unless your Self has been studying the origin of the concepts you are asking it about... it may not provide you with a lot of illumination.

Your Self may then ask 'What to do?'

Glad ya'll asked (anyone guess where I'm going?)


The Founders Constitution

Now try that same fine strategy again, turning to the Preamble, you'll note underneath, as with all of the other sections, lines, etc, a list of links taking you into those documents and ideas which informed the Founders themselves. Read the Constitution like this, and paying close attention, and asking your ever more informed Self "Self, what are these ideas coming from?", "Self, why are these ideas stated this way?", "Self, why did they say this, and not the obvious 'that'?" and then "Self, what is this document doing?", and you'll become remarkably astonished with, and proud of, your Self and the fine answers and even finer questions, your Self begins relating to you!

If you actually want to learn what Classical Liberals were and what they believed, you won't find too many better sources on the web, or in the flesh, than the The Founders Constitution, from the University of Chicago Press and the Liberty Fund.

Van said...

potty mouth flushed "And remarkably, the police officers and others involved in the delivery of such services don't seem to feel that their labor is being stolen from them."

potty, what is the purpose of Govt in your world? Have you asked yourself that question before? If so, have you pressed your answers any further than 'duh... well the New England Journal of X said so!'?

Assuming that you aren't actually one of our previously unmentionable trolls that I've asked this of so many times... and gotten either no answer, or pure pap in reply, what is it that you think a Right is? What is the relation of one person's Right, to another persons Right?

What would you have to say, if anything, to a well cared for house slave, to encourage them to escape with you to freedom?

I'm betting you won't have much to say at all... but maybe not.

Care to prove me wrong?

Ricky Raccoon said...

Bob, looks like Rush called Gibbs "Bagdad Bob Gibbs" today.

Van said...

baseball fan fouled "Somehow, it all reminds me of Judas selling out Jesus for 30 shekels of anethesia."

You've been running this schtick for months... please... first pick a nic, and then step up with some better comments & questions... you're certainly capable of better than that.

wv: stail

Gagdad Bob said...

A brief history of progressive racism.

Susannah said...

I posted that Founder's Constitution link on my facebook, in the hope that my more gullible (not so much liberal) friends would read through it. I have an old American Bar Association text (ca. 1959, I think?) called "Sources of Our Liberties" that I've just started (I'm in the middle of Magna Carta at the moment), and it does the same thing, only puts the sources in chronological order, of course. I'd like to compare it to the sources on the site. What you said, bobf, about lawyers not really caring much about the Constitution, seems to be echoed in the introduction to this book...much if it is new to lawyers.

Northern Bandit said...

Garden Pest is 100% wrong as usual. As perhaps the only coon to have lived extensively under both the US health care system (more than 15 years in 3 states) AND under the socialist Canadian system I can tell you that the current US system (while pace Krauthammer should undergo tort reform) is better than the socialist Canadian system in every conceivable respect, including in the degree of access afforded the poor.

Dr. Amy Doig -- head of the Canadian Medical Association -- last week told Canadians that the socialist medical system is "imploding" and that the situation is "worse than most Canadians realize". This was naturally suppressed across the board in the US media. Dr. Doig encourages a move to more privatization in order to stave off complete collapse of health care for Canada.

If we allow the likes of Garden Pest to get a foothold in the US we will end up even worse off than the Canadians, since unlike Canada the US has nobody to turn to when their system fails (Canada sends tens of thousands of patients to the US annually, the US sends perhaps 50 to Canada).

Garden Pottys are simply full of shit.

Northern Bandit said...

Glenn at Instapundit linked to that same article on leftist racism.

Now that the facts are coming roaring back from many angles, it is time to apply pressure hard to the Left -- to once and for all educate as many people as possible about the truly diabolical history of "progressive" movements since Rousseau. Leftists are slippery as hell and utterly without shame when it comes to employing Big Lies (just switch on your TV at random and you'll hear one within 20 minutes). We need to start pinning them down and confronting them with their own actual history without allowing them to slither away or change the subject by shouting, rockin' the potty, etc.

Smash the Left. With fact-based history lessons.

Gagdad Bob said...

In the UK they give free viagra to child molesters but deny treatment for alzeimers.

Van said...

Susannah said "I posted that Founder's Constitution link on my facebook, in the hope that my more gullible (not so much liberal) friends would read through it."

Oh Susannah! You just made my day!

As you're investigating the sight, don't miss the index's,

Index of Authors and Documents
Index of Cases
Index of Constitutional Provisions

Or run something like "Property Rights" through the search....

You also might want to take a look through the vast library of one of it's sponsoring sites, The Online Library of Liberty, and the several ways it organizes and lists material by Groups & Collections, reading lists, essays, by authors, subjects or periods... or just click it's Front Page and browse about.

Those items which the Founders Constitution may include only the relevant portion of, you'll very likely find the document, book, correspondence, etc, in it's entirety at the OLL.

Btw, it also contains Adam Smiths Lectures On Jurisprudence [1762], which will very likely provide a perspective on the Law not found in many Law Schools anymore - fascinating reading.

goddinpotty said...

You guys sure seem to have trouble with any thought of even moderate complexity. Honestly, I know 4th graders who can follow an argument better.

To recap: Bob made the claim that "My personal objection to socialized medicine is that no one -- least of all the state -- has a legal right to my labor". I pointed out that there are many other services that are provided by the state, and none of them involve theft of labor (exception: the military draft). This caused much hilarity and name-calling, but no counter-argument, which is hardly surprising, since I'm obviously right. So either Bob is too stupid to understand the difference between government provision of a service (which involves paying the people who provide it) and theft, or he is just lying and trying to confuse the rest of you. He doesn't seem that stupid so I assume he's deliberately lying, but the rest of you -- the people who believe the bullshit? Probably stupid.

Note that this argument has absolutely nothing to do with the question of whether socialized medicine, or socialized fire departments, or socialized education, or socialized park rangers, are good things or not. There are reasonable arguments for and against government provision of any of these, but if you don't even understand what they are, you are obviously ill-equipped to evaluate those arguments.

maurice said...

i have been reading this blog for a couple of years now, and i think i understand about half of what is written here.
i agree with almost everything i read here, but i have never made a comment.
the reason for this one is in responce to the way you all dissed godinpotty who i thought made a very good point.
is there any chance that someone can give him a decent reply to the points he made. thanks.

will said...

>>One of the values of this history of American conservatism is that it demonstrates the continuity of a kind of mindset that endures . . <<

Yes, the schism between conservative and, in the modern context, the liberal has long been there - time is an upward spiral with each elevation bringing new ways of conceiving the same basic meta-issues. And this means new spiritual challenges.

Are these challenges really less tougher to deal with than in previous ages? Believe me, no one is more grateful than I for modern medical tech and innovation, but I think we've got to keep the bottom line in mind - not to sound cloying but is not the issue the spiritual health of our eternal souls?

Is it so that today's general prevailing ethic is more capable of corrupting a soul, and on a very vast scale at that, than ever before in recorded history? I think a case could be made. Longer lives, healthier bodies, but to what end? I know that there are philosophical views contending that genuine spirituality can only flourish in times in which the general populating can afford a certain amount of "slack", ie., times that relatively free of the age-old fears that have always plagued the earth. There is certainly a case to be made for that view.

I'm not committed to either view, but I have to wonder - would we be able to endure the material privations that the long-age generations endured? Because the only way they could have endured it is by way of spiritual fortitude. If it took material privation to inspire such fortitude, then they were ultimately more fortunate than we are.

On the other hand: I really do think that today, as we ride the crest of the highest time-spiral, the delineation between good and evil has never been more clear; and for those who can see, the choice has never been easier to make. In that way, WE are the more fortunate.

That's always been the issue, of course, the choice between good and evil.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...


Okay, prolly a waste of time but I'll give you the Ben-efit of the doubt, once.
You thought Gippy made a good point? Where?

If you thought his claim that VA healthcare is good, that is simply not true in any sense, particularly compared to private hospitals. Anyone who reads even biased newspapers will see all sorts of major problems reported about VA hospitals. Often. A simple search online will give you more material to read than you probably will ever have time for.

Having spent a fair amount of time in VA hospitals I can say there is a lot of problems you rarely see in private hospitals and they are under-reported.
A private hospital would be sued into bankruptcy for the stuff the VA gets away with (that's right, VA's can't be sued).

But don't take my word for it, visit any VA, particularly the larger ones and ask the veterans.
That's not to say there isn't good doctors and nurses at VA's, but good care is inconsistent, and a lot depends on what doctor you are assigned to (that's right, no choices for veterans, and the VA is supposed to be an example of the best care America can provide) and how well he/she knows the system.

If you think Gippy made a good point about socialism, then you don't understand what socialism is (it's clear Gippy sure don't, but s/h/it wants it nonetheless).
If that's the case I suggest you read the links Van kindly posted.

We have all attempted to engage Gippy in honest debate before, but Gippy is a died in the drool lefty who doesn't have the character nor the principles for any honest debate or discussion and is quite happy to troll.
That's why I ignore s/h/it now, except for insultainment purposes.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...


Thanks. Good post! :^)

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Will said-

"On the other hand: I really do think that today, as we ride the crest of the highest time-spiral, the delineation between good and evil has never been more clear; and for those who can see, the choice has never been easier to make. In that way, WE are the more fortunate."

Good points, Will. I think we got the better deal overall, but I'm no doubt biased in that regard. But I can see the advantage of material privation and the spiritual fortitude it inspires.

I think it boils down to liberty, for me, although the struggle to keep it may prove as difficult as the struggle to obtain it.

But spiritual liberty has always been available even if one is imprisoned, so obviously there's more to it than that.

Thanks for the food for thought. :^)

maurice said...

its the points he made about a social police force, and fire service, ect. that have not been answered.
i just think its a very valid point that deserves an honest answer.

Ricky Raccoon said...

Number 1, he doesn’t deserve an answer. No one does. He has a right to ask. That’s it.

Number 2, the comparisons can’t be made. I’ll pick one or two, but I’m pressed for time. Have to get to my private industry job – which is my choice.

To suggest that the US Military is a socialized program is simply idiotic. Private corporations compete for contracts with their cutting edge designs of aircraft, submarines, vessels and their equipment. These great ideas are not done in-house by Government employees. If it were, we would not have won the cold war. Many push the paper and checks around and decide who has the better idea and capability. That's a gross generalization. But I've given praise to the servicemen at every opportunity here and elsewhere. There is no direct US Military-to-individual citizen service delivered. If anything, that is a by-product when it occurs. The entire US military must defend the entire US population as a whole. It must at least do that. There is no other way to do that part better. It is inefficient, cost-wise, but it is worth it. It is our federal government’s highest priority, without question.

As far as public education and police force, there is great inefficiency too, and I say would be a lot more cost effective if done by private companies competing. But how would we get there now?...which is the point (of no return) to opposition to socialized medicine. I have great respect for policemen and firemen. One other thing is that is a town-by-town “force”. If you don’t like the rate in this town, you can move to another.

Public education. Lets do a little math. I believe the town I live in spends about $6000 a year per student. This is not unusually high. I believe NJ is about $9000. In a 20 student (unusually small) classroom x $6000 that adds up to $120,000. The teacher’s wage is between $40-60,000. Where did the other $60-80,000 go? Now use $9,000 and 30 kids in a class. And economy of scale should enter as the town grows, but doesn’t.

I could go on…
(notice no cut and paste)

Van said...


How you could be reading here for years and not grasp this, I don't know, but briefly, as free people, we have a right to engage in occupations of our choice, and offer our services and products at a value we feel is appropriate, and others have a right to purchase from us or not.

That is not the case with a govt service.

In a nutsehell, the purpose of govt, is to uphold and defend the rights of its citizens, provide arbitration for disputes, and defend their lives and property from a enemies foreign and domestic. it's services cannot be competed with, no one can have a right to offer competing services that would conflict with, or undermine its proper services. And since its services are paid for by all of the citizens (or should be), in its most benign sense, for govt to even engage in a service that isn't proper to it, is to force those citizens, such as doctors, to fund their competition.

Whatever govt offers, it does so with the force of law behind it, there is no competition, there is no customer choice, there is no 'customer service', its 'services' are offered by force alone. Ben gave you a couple examples of how that works out.

The services of a policemen, judge (in the legal code sense, rather than civil arbitration), soldier, are the purpose of govt, and cannot be offered by others in competition with the govt, otherwise you no longer have one supreme source of rights and law, and the undisputed power of enforcing them. Attempting to introduce competition, as do the radical libertarians, would quickly descend to anarchy and gang warfare.

Whether Firemen fall into this definition is a disputed matter, personally I think it an appropriate service for local communities to offer - if someone wished to offer a fire protection service, similarly to how companies offer simple security, it wouldn't be a problem, it doesn't infringe on the authority of the state, or of peoples rights to use them, civil arbitration 'judges' are another case in point, their services are offered by choice and unquestionably subservient to the authority of the law.

I think the state of education in this country should at the very least indicate that the state controlling schools, certifying teachers, and 'approving' curriculum, is at the very least a disastrous proposition. For the Federal or State govt to take money from all citizens, determine what and how material will be taught, and mandate that all parents will send their children to them, is such a huge violation of so many rights... but if you have been reading here for years, you know the links.

Typical of the leftist, potty attempts to focus your attention on the lowest level particulars, such as policemen are paid, they do their job, what's the problem... and distract you from the real issue, that of what rights are, what the purpose of govt is, and the vital necessity of govt providing those services only, to uphold rights, property and liberty of its citizens, not trample them.

As expected potty will not answer my questions, because he can't. The only conversation he could have with the 'well cared for' house slave, is 'can you put in a good word for me?'.

maurice said...

i havent the savvy to get involved in deep political arguments, really.
i come here for the god side of things, this place gives me comfort.
but i do sometimes wonder what jesus would think about services only being available to people with the ability to pay.
i wont bother you all any more.
thanks for the replys.

Ricky Raccoon said...

Couple more things…

I particularly enjoyed the last eight years being told what a bunch of hicks we are compared to those other more sophisticated countries. You know who you are. Well, what makes you think our program of socialized medicine will even be as good as their disasters?

Ours will be at least as good as the average Department of Motor Vehicles. And how did they get their reputation if this wasn’t so. My wife recently spent 3 hours in line with my son to take a computerized test for his driver’s permit. I don’t even want to get into what you can use or can’t to prove the ID of a 16 year old. Let me just say that a US Passport is not enough. Speaking of the DMV, I’ll never forget this one lady, this was 20 years ago, behind the counter. She looked half as happy as George Castanza’s mother. If she’s not a drinker I’ll eat my hat. How anyone could wish there were more jobs like that, or that your fellow man should want one, is beyond me. Of course, no criticism to anyone who has no choice.

Also interesting (to me anyway) how Van and I took two different approaches yet I don’t believe we conflict in any way. I am certainly open to his criticism.

Ricky Raccoon said...

You’re welcome, Maurice. I think Bob might say, stick around. No bother.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Here's an example of how govt. healthworks:

VA Recommends The Hemlock Society

Yes, now the VA wants Veterans to talk to the Hemlock Society, now using another moniker.

This is how socialists treat our heroes. How do you think they'll treat you?

Good points, Van, and Rick.
I would add that a VA doctor chooses to work there, whereas, if Obama's healthscare passes all doctors will be forced to work for the govt. in some compacity (and accept what some bureaurat determines a "fair" price for their services.

Obama has already demonized doctors. Did you know doctors hack out your tonsils for a few extra bucks when they don't need to?

BTW, the mental health services at VA's is perhaps the worst part of any VA program. Don't believe me? Visit a mental "health" ward at a VA and talk to the patients, or talk to the outpatients.

I call it zombie central.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

I'll also say that I've received far more mental health/spiritual care here at the OC, and all the Raccoon blogs than I could ever hope for at the VA.

IOW's, here at OC and in Bob's book, the Bible, MOTT, etc., I have only seen ways to improve my own mental/spiritual health.

If I had continued to go to the VA mental health, I have no doubt I would be a zombie drooling in a corner somewhere, if I survived long enough.

There be hope here, and inspiration, not to mention motivation. I can grow here or at least with the help of the revelations talked about here.
Thanks Bob and fellow Raccoons! :^)

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Hey Rick-

Funny how computers were supposed to speed things up at the DMV, ain't it? Ha ha!

Van said...

maurice said "but i do sometimes wonder what jesus would think about services only being available to people with the ability to pay."

Personally I think the WWJD questions are pure potty fodder, but for it's and grins, let's take a look at it from another angle.

WWJD if the question was posed as

"Would it be ok to have Pontius Pilate going to every inhabitant in Jerusalem, extracting a sizable number of sheckles from them, in order to pick the physicians that they will be able to see, tell those physicians what procedures, tests and questions they will and will not be allowed to perform, and be in charge of when the residents of Jerusalem will be allowed to see his approved physician, and in what manner. What? Kosher? Faith Healer? Pshaw! Not allowed, and trying to perform such things will be strictly verboten. Here's what you'll do and how you'll do it and how much you get paid. Comply or else, I wash my hands of the matter.' "

So maurice... WWJD?

Anonymous said...

"Death can be robbed of its greatest fearfulness
if we practice for it. Christianity recommends
mortification, penance, and detachment as a
rehearsal for the great event. For every death
should be a great masterpiece, and, like all
masterpieces, it cannot be completed in a day.
A sculptor who wishes to carve a figure out of
a block uses his chisel, first cutting away great
chunks of marble, then smaller pieces, until he
finally reaches a point where only a brush of
hand is needed to reveal the figure. In the same
way, the soul has to undergo tremendous
mortifications at first, and then more refined
detachments, until finally its Divine image is
revealed. Because mortification is recognized
as a practice of death, there is fittingly inscribed
on the tomb of Don Scotus, Bis Mortuus;
Semel Sepultus (twice died, but buried only once).
When we die to something, something, comes
alive within us. If we die to self, charity comes
alive; if we die to pride, service comes alive; if we
die to lust, reverence for personality comes alive;
if we die to anger, love comes alive."

Fulton Sheen

Gagdad Bob said...

As Vets Suffer, VA Staff Gets $24M Bonus.

"Thousands of Employees Receive Big Bucks While Wounded Veterans Face Financial Hardship, Reports Show."

Ricky Raccoon said...

I don’t know what the problem is at the DNV. It just seems like they are doing 10 x more crap than what is necessary. And are incapable of telling you in simple terms what you need to do. You should see our DMV website. There are a thousand choices right on the home page. I dare you to find a gov website that isn’t like this.

Susannah said...

I positively hate the DMV. It takes two or three trips just to gather all the right paperwork, etc. No idea how people with day-jobs manage to conduct business there. At least I set my own schedule, as a homemaker, but it's not exactly convenient bringing 7 kids to the DMV. I needed a *marriage license* after we moved to a new state, to prove that my name changed eighteen flippin' years ago! Sheesh!

Anonymous said...

More horror stories of socialism.