“The Economy”

Sunday morning, I stopped in to Ray’s Super Foods, a long-time source of employment for yours truly and a place with a special place in my heart, and caught up for a short while with my (“former”) boss. Having inquired about the present successes (or lack thereof) of the store, I received the following reply

“I hate to say it, but these gas prices, they’re bad for the economy, but they’re good for Ray’s.”

A seasoned businessmen, and something of a community leader (We haven’t much community, as it were, to lead, but he’s a reliable contributor to causes seeking aid, and has been exceedingly active in the local Little (now Cal Ripken) League.), Ray is no dummy. He’s not an intellectual, either, so I avoided trying to take the conversation to too deep a level, merely quipping something to the effect of, “Well, I don’t know that I care too much about how the economy is doing as long as our economy is benefitting,” to which he rather simply, but astutely, replied, “I guess that depends on what you mean by “the economy”.” This remark resonated deeply with me, and has stuck with me since Sunday morning.

Of late, courtesy of a housing market disaster (except, of course, for those who hitherto could not afford to buy a home, maybe), distressingly high gas prices, and a dollar sinking more quickly than the Titanticlatched on to the Hindenburg, we’ve suffered much pundit-speak about the troubles of the “economy”, that is, the expansive, aggregate national economy.

Rather misleading, I say! Reading Berry and Kunstler in particular, I’ve encountered time and again a theme that, as time has passed, I have more and more come to believe is not only an undeniable truth, but an all-too-often denied truth, ignored to the detriment of society, to wit, that economy is community and community, economy. Exceedingly skeptical of the notion of any sort of national (or even regional) community, I conceive easily only of community on the local level, the little platoons of Burke, neighborhoods, small towns, and struggle, thus, to discern any meaningful relevance, beyond for statisticians and “My dad is better than your dad” nationalists, of speak of the national economy.

Yes, I recognize that, particularly in a nation-state wherein the Leviathan has in countless ways interfered with the market perniciously as, if not more, frequently as it has for the greater good (Nebulous concept, I know.), a decision at the top can trickle down in ways that affect community-economies across the map, so that, in a sense, “the economy” does exists. Nevertheless, if neighborhoods, towns, and cities, with their near-by countryside, can develop economically and ecologically, as well as socially, sustainable systems of exchange — that is, if they can free themselves from the moral bankruptcy of neo-classical economics (or worse!) and can begin to rely on themselves, to be (reasonably) self-sufficient, becoming community-economies — then, perhaps, someday, we shall recognize the silliness of speaking of “the economy”. If Ray’s Super Foods, often looked over because the independent grocer seldom can compete on prices with Wal*Mart thirty miles away (and because, since my departure, the store seems to have deteriorated into the sort of store at which Poles in the waning days of Soviet domination might have shopped), can benefit from these distressingly climbing gas prices, maybe other businesses in town can. Maybe the town can, and maybe other communities can follow suit.

Could someone please lobotomize Sean Hannity?

On his website (One simply must love the inspiring, patriotic poses of Hannity across the top!), “conservative” pundit Sean Hannity has posted his Top 10 Items for Victory, victory, one assumes, not for conservatism, the Republic, or liberty, but for the G.O.P.

Perhaps, most telling of why Hannity needs, for the greater good, to be lobotmized is that he makes one and only one reference to the Constitution, this when, making point nine, he refers to the need for judges “who recognize that their job is to interpret, and NOT legislate from the bench.” (He’s missing a “to” there; this may be evidence of a prior, botched lobotomy, which the proposed procedure will replace.)

More mind-boggling to me is the repeated use of “unnecessary” quotation marks. The following seem to be the case:                                                                    

a) The candidate can be willing to negotiate with dictators with pre-conditions.    

b) The candidate should opposed energy independence.

c) Hannity supports nationalized health care.

d) Catastrophic insurance is irrelevant.

e) (See point seven) Our children are screwed.

f) The candidate must be pro-life vis-à-vis education. (Again, point seven.)

g) Hannity cares neither about Social Security nor about allowing private retirement funds that restrain people from having a say in their own destiny.

Hannity, himself, seems not to have received much of an education in grammar and writing. Or anything else for that matter. His ideas are banal and cliché at best, fundamentally pernicious to America and the world at worst. 

Please, someone, yank out part of his brain. I doubt anyone at FNC will even notice.

Another Memorial Day post: Not so cynical, quite sad, well worth the read

Thanks to John at Upturned Earth for posting this amazing piece from Esquire, which I first discovered through @TAC and which I had since forgotten. It’s about an Indiana boy who paid the ultimate price, but about so much more: His family, his community, camaraderie. Do enjoy it, in a somber way. 

 

 

 

What, come November?

Yesterday, the Libertarian Party, wisely rejecting crazy Senator Gravel and nut-job feminist Mary Ruwart, selected former GOP Congressman Bob Barr as its nominee for PotUS. Shortly thereafter, the party nominated Wayne Allyn Root as Barr’s v.p. 

I know little about Root; that he has a background in small business interests me greatly, in principle if not because I think that it will provide any meaningful asset to a typically meaningless office (Cheneyism being the notable exception.) Dylan Waco, at the Left Conservative, previously expressed skepticism toward a Barr-fronted ticket, “but had been given some hope after watching his debate performance last night”, until Root received the nod. 

Waco alone hardly suffices to convince me of the perniciousness of a Barr-Root ticket, particularly because a vote for the L.P. can be little more than something of a protest vote, or, at best, akin to a vote for Ron Paul (which I should have cast, had I filed to vote absentee), part of an incipient movement toward change — but not, indisputably, a vote for a legitimate contender. I shall direction much attention toward this ticket in the coming months. And if it disappoints me, I have another option!

Former Moral Majoritarian and Baptist pastor Chuck Baldwin handily defeated Alan Keyes, who had no business at the party’s convention, to win the nod from the Constitution Party. I admit that his being a Baptist pastor and his background give me pause, but he’s right on government, right on foreign policy, and pretty close to right (perhaps a bit too conservative — but only a bit – on some social issues for my tastes, still vulgarly afflicted by a bit of “open-mindedness”). Furthermore, he originally hails from LaPorte County, IN, directly north of my home. 

Neither Barr nor Baldwin is perfect. Both, however, represent conservative veins much closer to mine than the GOP has come to espouse. (The GOP hardly embraces conservatism at all.) Obama all but has the Democrats’ nomination; Clinton, I suppose, could mount an independent campaign, which I should very much like to see. Not that I’d support her. Obama might not, as my libertarian, agnostic/atheist friend Megan insists, be the anti-Christ, but he is pretty wretched. I can’t support his policies, and I can’t support a man who would not be a serious contender were he white. Ol’ Geraldine was right; it may be an ugly truth, but it’s truth nonetheless. An eloquent, intelligent, inspirational-to-the-vacuously minded former community activist who now serves in his first term in the Senate who were just another South Side Irish guy would be a first-term Senator and nothing more. 

My vote won’t matter in November, at least not directly. But I at least have choices this year, and, even if the Hippies-of-the-Right movement ultimately fails within the collapsing big tent of the GOP, hope exists outside. Long live the Republic. 

Gonna read ’til my eyes bleed

Or so I hope. Presently, I find myself, quite happily, at home in Indiana, where, at the moment, we enjoy absolutely beautiful weather. Sooner, rather than later, I intend to make use of down-time here to read. Travels to Chicago and to Texas and attempts to visit with as many people here as possible over the next three weeks will keep me busy, as will my trip to Yale and Boston (18 – 22 June), but, otherwise, I’ve few plans for the summer (although at some point I must find an internship). This being the case, I hope to update this web-log more frequently and, having become quite cognizant of my consistently being remiss in my post-undergraduate duties as a Program of Liberal Studies major, to wit, to read frequently, I hope to make my way through as many pages as possible. Forty-some books awaiting their turn rest on my bookshelf back in Maryland; the list in my head carries on well beyond. For now, a very incomplete list of intended reads, those that accompanied me to Indiana.

Orestes Brownson, The American Republic: Its Constitution, Tendencies, and Destiny (I’ve finished about sixty-five per cent of this one.)

Alexandre Dumas, The Three Musketeers

Wilhelm Röpke, A Humane Economy: The Social Framework of the Free Market

Wendell Berry, The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays

Eric Freyfogle, The Land We Share: Private Property and the Common Good

The longer list includes Hawthorne, Faulker, O’Connor, E.F. Schumacher, Victor Davis Hanson, Russell Kirk, Edmund Burke, Bolingbroke, Chesterton, McCullough (1776 and John Adams), perhaps Tolstoy, and others, many of whom, seven hundred-plus miles from Hyattsville, I fail to recall at present.

Memorial Day

To-day, we remember those who have surrendered their lives serving in our armed forces, men and women who have, for one reason or another, made service to their country (more likely, nation) prior to their own well-being. We all have known friends, family, peers who have enlisted; many of us have known some of them to return to the States in bags. I count a high school classmate amongst them (May Mike rest in peace); and though his death, self-inflicted, was non-combat-related, the frustrations in his life would not have reached the point that drove him to his premature death had he not been in the hell that is Mesopotamia, one of more than a million pawns in an incomprehensible geo-political chess match.

I have, I must concede, come to believe that the notion of the ultimate sacrifice is, in fact, the ultimate lie, perpetuated by the neo-Wilsonian hate-mongers to sustain their project of spreading democratic capitalism across the world, hoping to make everyone else as miserably as we. This is not at all meant to disparage those who serve, those who have served, and those who have made the sacrifice. Quite contrarily, I believe that, duped as they have been by organs of agitprop, they have believed that their actions have been for the greater good, and, opposed to the war as I am, I cannot condemn them for their misguided sense of patriotism — nationalism masquerading as patriotism, it really is — and continue to respect and appreciate them, as well as to recognize the sacrifices made — by those who live and those who die — as being pure in intent, regardless of the machinations of the neo-Wilsonian apparatchiks.

Returning then, to my point, I do believe that we — soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen, as well as citizens — foolishly have bought wholesale into this myth, that dying a hero in Iraq, or Syria, or Darfur, or wherever our current or next c.-in-c. deploys troops, is the ultimate sacrifice, something for which we ought to be proud of our fallen soldiers. These men and women are not dying for some great cause, for their patria, or for their family; they die for reasons so utterly unintelligible that, beyond contending that they’re unConstitutional, silly, and immoral, I shall not attempt to explain what they are. Had oil something to do with our current debacle? I have no doubt. Petty personal revenge? Probably. But, ultimately, without attempting to get into specifics, I fear that it’s the legacy of Wilson, of the Roosevelts, of Lincoln, of the Jacobins, and not preservation of the fatherland, of culture, or of decency, that leads our young Americans prematurely to death’s door. It’s sad.

May God bless and keep those who serve, may He welcome into His Kingdom those who have made this “ultimate sacrifice”, and may those whose lies and deceit have placed so many in harm’s way be prepared to meet God’s judgment when their times come.

Remind me never to be kind to strangers in Florida

First, I have no opposition to “illegal” taxi services; rather, I quite vehemently oppose unnecessary regulations that drive up prices. Second, I suspect that this poor gent simply tried to be a nice guy at the wrong time, much to the pleasure of the sprawling, neurotic bureaucracy. I mean, consumer services department? Really? Why not a citizen services department, or have we lost any worthwhile conception of ourselves as anything other than buyers and sellers?