Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Ruthlessness is bliss

A recent on line article in Texas Monthly reported how great it was that a man living off-grid in the Scottish highlands was rescued after a distress signal he sent out was received by a response center in Houston, Texas and relayed to Scottish authorities.

I pointed out that the man's happy tale of rescue and support owed a lot to Scotland's universal health care system. This observation received a lot of "likes," but also the predictable flamethrowers from people who take pride in their freedom to pay too much to a system that is designed to profit by denying them health care here in the United States.

"You certainly love to spend my money," one of them commented. Another one tried to say that universal care systems only work in smaller populations, which is the dead opposite of how risk pools work. Managing one database centered on patient care rather than profitability would have to be cheaper for the consumer than the current overlapping bureaucracies of care providers, drug companies, and insurance companies, all trying to protect as much as possible of their profit margin.

On another page, trying to combat the malignant growth that has already obliterated most of Annapolis, Maryland, I mentioned that transportation cycling could be very helpful to reduce traffic congestion. I no longer live in Annapolis, because of the malignant growth and the ridiculously high cost of housing, but I have friends who are still fighting the battle there. It used to be a nice place.

An angry commenter snapped that I must be in favor of the ridiculous waste of tax dollars on a bike lane that no one uses. I admit that my response was not the most level headed and charitable. When someone automatically equates support for alternative transportation with "a waste of tax dollars," it tells me a lot about their world view. So I said, "you sound pretty hot under the collar. You should either loosen your shirt or tighten it the rest of the way and end your suffering." He responded by calling me a libtard, thus confirming my first impression of him. I replied that he sounded like a typical money-obsessed conservative, to which he volleyed back that he wanted to keep the money he makes and leave a nice inheritance for his kids.

Here's the thing about a nice inheritance: unless you're bequeathing a billion, and sticking your kids in the right schools to meet the right people, they're going to have to go out and lick boots and grub for cash like most of the rest of us. The boots they lick might be more expensive and walk the halls of the executive suite, but the model of moneyed power is inescapably hierarchical. And a financial cushion might make them decadent, rather than provide them with a platform from which to reach higher.

As the argument escalated, his closing screed called me a cuck (a cherished pet insult of fascists and racists) and a beta male, and described in detail the kind of anal sex I should be subjected to.

A search on the guy's name disclosed very little. I found a Linkedin profile that seemed to match his name, location, and personality type, listing his occupation as "military professional." If he's active duty military, we all pay his salary through taxation. If he's a defense contractor/mercenary, we still pay his salary through our tax dollars, with less accountability. So of course his posturing about being a lone individual profiting from his own intelligence in a hostile world is a crock of shit. But he and people like him will never acknowledge the interconnectedness of all things, because they feel disconnected and oppressed. That religious tenet underlies all of their thinking. They're blissful in their unhappiness, because they're sure they know what's wrong and who is responsible. They take pride in their strength and ruthlessness. The ones with the most integrity really will accept death if they're unable to maintain life under the harsh terms they have endorsed. But most of your "live free or die" types have already agreed to be a little less free and live a bit longer. You will hardly ever get one to admit it, though.

Collectivists exhibit a similar religious devotion to the virtues of their view. The better future leans more to collective efforts that will improve the average for everyone. Yes, that will make the super-wealthy obsolete, but the super wealthy don't provide much value in return for our investment. The hell of it is that nearly every actual religion has some good principles along with their heavy component of destructive bullshit. You choose a way forward based on what you expect the future to look like.

The ruthless future is full of fire and blood, conflict and conquest, the rise and fall of empires. It unleashes the most ambitious passions, granting freedom to the strong and trampling the weak. For those who fancy themselves strong, it sounds like heaven. However you end up, if you gave it your absolute best shot, you ended up where you deserved to end up. It cannot be a peaceful future, because the super ambitious and greedy will take everything they can get, and hold it until someone more powerful blasts them out of the top spot. Armies will clash over and over across the trampled and scorched fields of endless battle. If too many people refuse to fight, the power structure will freeze in place, leaving most of the population to toil as underlings while a tiny minority controls the wealth and enjoys the leisure.

The United States Constitution accidentally provided a mechanism for citizen government that would make the actual bloody warfare unnecessary, if enough citizens could agree on what to demand from their government, and what limits to set on the private sector to keep it from becoming the de facto government. Just as our environmental neglect is at a crisis point, so is our civic neglect at the last intersection before the doors close against us and we have to accept slavery or bloody revolution.

I don't give the bloody revolution very good odds, because the environmental crisis will go all to hell while we're trying to hold off a professional military with our AR-15s and pipe bombs. We can die gloriously on principle, but that's about it. Meanwhile, if we'd gotten our shit together and been a bit more collective, we could have straightened out both the environmental issues and the governmental issues.

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