April Fools

April Fools:

I'm flying back to Iraq, so I won't be around for a few days. It's been an interesting and eventful leave, if not a restful one. I'd hoped to have more time to think and write, but I have at least had time to do.

I was having a farewell dinner with my father tonight, and he told me about the new title-holder of "Greatest April Fools Prank Of All Time." Car and Driver magazine appears to have captured the flag.

It was a perfect prank, coming as it does the same week that the President was firing corporate (but not UAW!) officers and undertaking to explain the new GM warranty. One suspects that the only reason it wasn't true was that he didn't think of it!

Alternatively, someone leaked to C&D that he was planning the announcement for next week, and they decided to do a pre-emptive strike. Either way, good stuff.

Jingle Bombs.

(Not that anyone complains, but it is humorous for everyone to see that the dogs get treated even better than Air Force personnel, who are treated 2x better than soldiers, who are treated 5x better than Marines. That means bomb dogs are treated at least 10x better than Marines.)

So the working dogs are being treated 10x better than Marines? Heh. I'd be tempted to say that all is right with the world, but Grim would probably come a-huntin'.

Still, heh.

Go and give the doggy a cooling jacket!

(via Instapundit)
Blow it out your ass.

Heh. Somebody's got a sense of humor.

"What is to be done?"

Ruining Your Life

Ruining Your Life:

Salon has a piece they've linked from their front page that wonders, "Does Having Children Ruin Your Life?" (There is also a reply from a male reader.) It enters very nicely into the discussion we were having below.

The list of reasons why it appears to the young lady that children might ruin her life includes:

· The thought of pregnancy and birth is literally horrifying (and I don’t understand why most women don’t feel this way – a HUMAN BEING grows IN YOUR GUTS and then tears its way out of the most sensitive part of your body!!! Aaiiieee!!! I got goose-bumps just typing that -- shudder).

· It’s much too risky to make a lifelong commitment to a human being I’ve never even met, who could very well be someone I wouldn’t like at all, or who wouldn’t like me at all.

· I deeply value and enjoy my romantic/sexual relationship and don’t want to ruin it.

· I strive to minimize my financial obligations in all manners possible and a child is the biggest financial obligation I can think of.

· While dogs and cats bring a smile to my face and make me want to touch and interact with them, I’m indifferent to children.

· I’m philosophically uncomfortable with the lack of consent inherent in parent-child relationships – children don’t ask to be born and certainly don’t ask to be born to their particular parents or raised in a particular household. I still sympathize with the teenager’s outrage at being forced to live by rules they never agreed to.

· When I think back to my own childhood I feel quite bad for my parents and all the sacrifices they made, and certainly would not want to live with my adolescent self.

· I cherish sleep and the idea of not sleeping in on weekends makes me want to cry.

· Human society could very well be worse in the future, and there are too many humans.

· I prefer peace and quiet, I’m a low-energy person, and I’m an introverted type who needs to spend lots of time in my own head.
Most of this is the leisure-first principle that Charles Murray was talking about in his essay of a few days ago.* On the occasions that the young lady considers the issue beyond the question of what pleasures she would have to yield, however, she says something more interesting.

It is clear from the pleasure-oriented passages that she lives in a remarkable garden of ease. Further, it is clear that the world has treated her so gently that she has come to believe that human consent is of fundamental importance. She objects to parenthood, for example, in part on the grounds that the child isn't asked if he wants to be born. That suggests that she simply expects that her consent will be asked for anything that has an effect on her. She lives in a world in which her consent matters.

What is probably invisible to her is the degree to which the world-of-consent is a temporary bubble. There will come a time when disease invades the body in spite of all attempts at prolonging health; the world does not ask if you are ready to die. There is nothing in the structure of the world that suggests that human consent matters at all.

It has come to do so only through a great deal of human will, which has implied a great deal of sacrifice. This bubble of safety is a house built by strong hands and long work. If it cannot last forever, the fact that it exists at all is a remarkable human achievement. It is a gift from previous generations, who found the world worth fighting for, and who made this place in which all the good parts of the world can be had -- and the bad ones held at bay, for a time.

To sacrifice some of those pleasures, for some of that time, is necessary to give the next generation a chance to be born. She points out that no one has asked the child if he wants to be born. She forgets that no one has asked him if he doesn't!

It is true that childrearing the end of a life of consent; you are, from that moment, required rather than asked. Many soft pleasures go away, and you cease to be the center of your universe.

Does that ruin your life, or begin it? It is the point at which you begin to experience life on its terms rather than yours. You can no longer hide your face from death, as you must fear it every day -- not for yourself, but for your child. You can not hide from time, and an awareness that every day is numbered and spent.

This points to the "vigor" of life that we have been discussing of late. It is also the part where you begin to pay back your ancestors for the garden they gave you, by tending its walls for the next generation.

* The Murray quote, since it was a longer piece:
Last April I had occasion to speak in Zurich, where I made some of these same points. After the speech, a few of the twenty-something members of the audience approached and said plainly that the phrase “a life well-lived” did not have meaning for them. They were having a great time with their current sex partner and new BMW and the vacation home in Majorca, and saw no voids in their lives that needed filling.

It was fascinating to hear it said to my face, but not surprising. It conformed to both journalistic and scholarly accounts of a spreading European mentality. Let me emphasize “spreading.” I’m not talking about all Europeans, by any means. That mentality goes something like this: Human beings are a collection of chemicals that activate and, after a period of time, deactivate. The purpose of life is to while away the intervening time as pleasantly as possible.

If that’s the purpose of life, then work is not a vocation, but something that interferes with the higher good of leisure. If that’s the purpose of life, why have a child, when children are so much trouble—and, after all, what good are they, really?

Keep Coming

Keep It Coming:

Why not? (H/t: Gwa45.)

Congressman Alan Grayson (FL-8) today proudly introduced the Grayson-Himes Pay For Performance Act of 2009.

"This bill is based on two simple concepts. One, no one has the right to get rich off taxpayer money. And two, no one should get rich off abject failure," Congressman Grayson said. "An economy in which a bank executive can line his own pocket by destroying his company with risky bets is an economy that will spiral downwards. And a government that hands out money to such executives is a government that fails to protect the taxpayers."

The Pay For Performance Act applies to all companies, including AIG, in which the federal government has a capital investment. The bill requires all future compensation to be performance-based. It will be up to the Secretary of the Treasury to establish the standards for fair pay and bonuses. The restriction will remain in place until the company repays all the federal money it received.
What are the standards for fair pay in this industry? How do you know?

Are people free to quit if they don't like their new, "fair" pay? If so, how do you convince them not to quit, if not via pay? This isn't the sector where starvation is haunting the mind. Most of these folks could get another job, if they wanted one; and they are apt to have substantial savings.

The government is supposedly taking over our corporations in order to save them. Right?
Against Rand:

Cassandra is quoting Rand at length.

"But money demands of you the highest virtues, if you wish to make it or to keep it. Men who have no courage, pride or self-esteem, men who have no moral sense of their right to their money and are not willing to defend it as they defend their life, men who apologize for being rich--will not remain rich for long. They are the natural bait for the swarms of looters that stay under rocks for centuries, but come crawling out at the first smell of a man who begs to be forgiven for the guilt of owning wealth. They will hasten to relieve him of the guilt--and of his life, as he deserves.
Rand is wrong precisely here:

"But money demands of you the highest virtues, if you wish to make it or to keep it. Men who have no courage, pride or self-esteem, men who have no moral sense of their right to their money and are not willing to defend it as they defend their life..."

Money does demand virtue, and perhaps even the highest virtues: but not these. What it demands are self-sacrifice, so that you are willing to work fifteen hours a day to support a family if you must; honor in keeping promises, so that no matter how hard the job, if you give your word men know will achieve it; and being willing to bear the weight of others, so that people come to be willing to trust their weight to you.

A man who does that consistently will never lack for money long. Courage is a virtue, certainly; pride is quite often a sin; and at this point in our society's history, 'self esteem' is absolutely a sin.

These higher virtues of self-sacrifice are the true root of wealth. Those are just what Rand warns against in her work, but they are the real thing. There is plenty of money in the world: those who have it are only too eager to find good stewards, trustworthy employees, and hard workers to help them with their enterprises. When you have enough of your own, you may be the one looking for good stewards and trustworthy men. Think what you would want in an employee, and you will know how to ensure that you have work.

What is more, with those same qualities a man can find love to go with his money. Pride and 'self-esteem' will not alone bring love to him. These things will.

Then you have a reason to want money. A man without love will throw it away as fast as his hands lay on it, seeking pleasure and having no care for it. A man without love might prefer the gun to the dollar, honestly. But the man with love will want stability and safety for the people he loves, and he will work to build it. In working faithfully, he will gain the name for honor and honesty that will ensure his success. He will leave an example to his children, and a place for them.

If he fights, he will fight for those reasons. It will not be because you come to take his money. It will be because you seek to undermine his ability to defend what he loves against the storms of the world. In that cause, you will find in him a terrible foe.

Something about death

Something To Do With Death:

Mark Steyn warns against the Obama project, and his terms are familiar.

A couple of years back Paul Krugman wrote a column asserting that, while parochial American conservatives drone on about “family values”, the Europeans live it, enacting policies that are more “family friendly”. On the Continent, claims the professor, “government regulations actually allow people to make a desirable tradeoff - to modestly lower income in return for more time with friends and family.”

As befits a distinguished economist, Professor Krugman failed to notice, that for a continent of “family friendly” policies, Europe is remarkably short of families. While America’s fertility rate is more or less at replacement level – 2.1 – seventeen European nations are at what demographers call “lowest-low” fertility - 1.3 or less - a rate from which no society in human history has ever recovered....

When the state “gives” you plenty – when it takes care of your health, takes cares of your kids, takes care of your elderly parents, takes care of every primary responsibility of adulthood – it’s not surprising that the citizenry cease to function as adults: Life becomes a kind of extended adolescence – literally so for those Germans who’ve mastered the knack of staying in education till they’re 34 and taking early retirement at 42 (which sounds a lot like where Obama’s college-for-all plans will lead).
What was it that Charles Murray said?
And yet he is right to say [men] are not adequately welcome within the society. In many respects the world of Iraq is as much home as this world; for there one still puts on armor and 'rides out,' and does the kinds of things that make you feel like you are living the kind of life a man should live. This is what Murray was talking about: vital experiences, extraordinary ones, that are the reason that men exist at all.
What if these experiences fade, and given the choice of anything else that they want, men choose not to exist? And women, freed to have only the children they really want, find they really want so few that the land grows empty and the people pass from memory?

What if that is what we really want -- given everything we might want?

We've spoken before of how that movie predicted the end of men, in a world in which only 'businessmen' would be welcome. Yet what all this points to is that something within the West has died. What we may wish to wonder about now is, what comes after?

We must ask, for we are coming to the end of this. Perhaps it is an end to us. Perhaps it is a rebirth.

As American Digest notes: "Because we can".
Climbing the Ridge:


I Find This Rather Alarming:

"GM Chief to Resign at White House Behest."

I can't quite put into words why that bothers me, but it does. Teddy Roosevelt, of course, fought the big trusts and use government power to make them smaller and more amenable to pressure. Government and corporations fighting is not the problem; indeed, that's part of what the world should look like. If the two are aligned in their interests so much that there is no conflict, we're not looking at a healthy situation for the rest of us.

What I think may be alarming here is the confluence of two things: the President is plainly acting well outside of his Constitutional role in making leadership decisions for private corporations; and the corporations, though massive and powerful, are submitting without a fight.

That's too much concentration of power, and no obvious sense that there are lines that ought to be respected.


Dad29 has more:

Today, the President of the United States is expected to make significant announcements about GM’s warranty policy. No, that’s not a typo....
One gets a sense that there has been a loss of perspective somewhere.