Against Sanders

 

I’ve probably forgotten a variety of lessons my parents and others tried to teach me when I was young.  But I haven’t forgotten everything.  The most important thing my mother taught me was that we should count our blessings.  She never used that exact phrase, as I recall, but that was the sentiment.  My brother and I complained, as kids do, but my mom always counseled us to put things in perspective, and she was very correct to do so. I probably think about that lesson at least once a week.

I was reminded of it again when I read this article at National Review*.  Bernie Sanders, as usual, is whining about how shabbily the American worker is treated in our (mostly) capitalist system, and is calling for a change in the federal law that considers a 40-hour work week to be standard, with overtime kicking in after that.  The ancient socialist senator from Vermont — who was once kicked out of a commune due to his laziness — wants that number changed to 32 hours a week, without a decrease in weekly earnings.

The part of the article that reminds me of my mother’s advice is when the authors take us for a stroll down memory lane of what life was life was like for the common people before the Industrial Revolution.  I won’t quote the examples they gave, you can go read the whole article, but I do want to expand on those examples.  It wasn’t so many generations ago that many kids went around barefoot in the summer because shoes were too costly for many families to keep their kids in shoes all year long.  Even the wealthy didn’t have shoes that were made specifically for their right and left feet before the 19th century.  Not so very long ago, plowing a field was done behind a mule or an ox, and washing clothes was done by hand, beside a creek, using soap that you had to make yourself.  Metal ore and coal were brought out of the ground by miners who often did not live to old age because the occupation was so dangerous.  And in much of the world lacking free enterprise, things haven’t moved far beyond these examples.

Even the American working at a car wash today, driving a 25 year old car, and living in a trailer house — someone who we would think of as poor today — lives a luxurious life compared to the doctors and lawyers of 200 years ago. Queen Victoria of England would have been astonished by the choices we have when we go to a modern supermarket. Who among us would want to trade places with even the richest pharaohs of ancient Egypt?

So the advice from my mother still stands.  Appreciate the good things in your life.  Stop whining because someone else has more than you.  Odds are you have a better life, with more opportunities, than 99% of the humans who have ever lived and died.  And go read that article at NR.

The mother in question

*Yes, yes, I know.  All true conservatives are supposed to hold those globalist, elitist, America-hating cocktail sippers who write for National Review in contempt.

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  1. Internet's Hank Contributor
    Internet's Hank
    @HankRhody

    I was worried you were inveighing against Colonel Sanders. I recently saw a billboard advertising his family bucket on a Google Street View camera in Omsk, Russia. I want to say it cost 199 rubles, but I don’t recall. 

    Re: the tired old coot from Vermont, I’m willing to entertain the notion that there’s all kinds of things wrong with our modern capitalist system, but I don’t think that simply paying people more for less work will solve any of them.

    • #1
  2. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Well said, Randy. Thank you. 

    • #2
  3. Randy Weivoda Moderator
    Randy Weivoda
    @RandyWeivoda

    Internet's Hank (View Comment):
    I was worried you were inveighing against Colonel Sanders.

    Not me, Hank.  I actually visited the grave of Colonel Sanders on my way to the Nashville Ricochet meetup, many years ago.

    • #3
  4. Globalitarian Lower Order Misanthropist Coolidge
    Globalitarian Lower Order Misanthropist
    @Flicker

    Randy Weivoda: The part of the article that reminds me of my mother’s advice is when the authors take us for a stroll down memory lane of what life was life was like for the common people before the industrial revolution.  I won’t quote the examples they gave, you can go read the whole article, but I do want to expand on those examples.  It wasn’t so many generations ago that many kids went around barefoot in the summer because shoes were too costly for many families to keep their kids in shoes all year long.  Even the wealthy didn’t have shoes that were made specifically for their right and left feet before the 19th century.  Not so very long ago, plowing a field was done behind a mule or an ox, and washing clothes was done by hand, beside a creek, using soap that you had to make yourself.

    I’ve been thinking about the psychological consequences of affluence and what it means politically.  And I keep remembering a dark and sobering thing Jordan Peterson said several years ago.  I just transcribed it a few hours ago:

    Questioner #1: So you’re saying that all along, women and men have had the same opportunities.  Always.

    Jordan Peterson: No, I’m basically saying that all along hardy anyone had any opportunities.  I mean, if you look at the history of the world, things really started to shift in about 1895, but before 1895 the typical person in the West lived on less than a dollar a day in today’s money, which is about two-thirds the UN cut-off for abject poverty by today’s standards.  And so what happened through most of the history of the world is that men and women struggled mightily together, sometimes at each others’ throats but mostly cooperatively, to keep the wolf from the door and the tyrant at bay.  Life was very, very, very, very difficult.  And the fact that we survived at all meant that fundamentally we cooperated despite the fact that we’re rife with stupidity, ignorance, and malevolence.

    ***

    My comment is that we have elementally the same minds cognitively and psychologically that we’ve had for several thousand years, but we have a very changed world, and we don’t know how to address it, or thrive within it.

    • #4
  5. Globalitarian Lower Order Misanthropist Coolidge
    Globalitarian Lower Order Misanthropist
    @Flicker

    Internet's Hank (View Comment):

    I was worried you were inveighing against Colonel Sanders. I recently saw a billboard advertising his family bucket on a Google Street View camera in Omsk, Russia. I want to say it cost 199 rubles, but I don’t recall.

    Re: the tired old coot from Vermont, I’m willing to entertain the notion that there’s all kinds of things wrong with our modern capitalist system, but I don’t think that simply paying people more for less work will solve any of them.

    I thought this was about “sandals” and this was a screed against Birkenstocks.  (Not that I’d oppose that.)

    • #5
  6. Paul Stinchfield Member
    Paul Stinchfield
    @PaulStinchfield

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):

    Internet’s Hank (View Comment):
    I was worried you were inveighing against Colonel Sanders.

    Not me, Hank. I actually visited the grave of Colonel Sanders on my way to the Nashville Ricochet meetup, many years ago.

    Should pantomime cows lay wreaths there?

    • #6
  7. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    • #7
  8. Painter Jean Moderator
    Painter Jean
    @PainterJean

    This past weekend I watched the movie “Cabrini”. It is set in the New York of the late 1880s – early 1890s, Mother Cabrini arriving there in 1889. The depictions of the squalid slums of that time are very vivid and very moving. In reading about the movie afterwards, I learned that the sets were based in part on the photographs of Jacob Riis, a photographer and social reformer who used his camera to document the ghastly conditions of the impoverished immigrants in New York in the late 1880s. The movie isn’t overstating the crushing poverty of that era at all. And less than 150 years later, not one of us reading Randy’s post has ever seen poverty at that level – or anything even approaching it – in this country. There is much to be grateful for!

    • #8
  9. Juliana Member
    Juliana
    @Juliana

    While capitalism and our prosperity have enriched the lives and lifestyles of millions, I  can’t help wondering if our current foray into fantasy via the transgender (and other) movements isn’t prosperity related. A male wouldn’t be running around in women’s clothing and makeup if he had to actually concentrate on survival. As in food and shelter for him and his family.

    • #9
  10. Painter Jean Moderator
    Painter Jean
    @PainterJean

    Juliana (View Comment):

    While capitalism and our prosperity have enriched the lives and lifestyles of millions, I can’t help wondering if our current foray into fantasy via the transgender (and other) movements isn’t prosperity related. A male wouldn’t be running around in women’s clothing and makeup if he had to actually concentrate on survival. As in food and shelter for him and his family.

    Absolutely.  These reality-denying trends  are the product of affluence (and, I would argue, secularism). I don’t think you’ll find any of this nonsense in impoverished – or at least not wealthy – third-world populations.

    • #10
  11. Randy Weivoda Moderator
    Randy Weivoda
    @RandyWeivoda

    I did just make an edit to the post, by adding a photo.  It took a while to find one that was actually well-focused.  I think my family had pretty lousy cameras in the 1970s.

    • #11
  12. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Painter Jean (View Comment):

    Juliana (View Comment):

    While capitalism and our prosperity have enriched the lives and lifestyles of millions, I can’t help wondering if our current foray into fantasy via the transgender (and other) movements isn’t prosperity related. A male wouldn’t be running around in women’s clothing and makeup if he had to actually concentrate on survival. As in food and shelter for him and his family.

    Absolutely. These are reality-denying trends that are the product of affluence (and, I would argue, secularism). I don’t think you’ll find any of this nonsense in impoverished – or at least not wealthy – third-world populations.

    To that extent they are all “luxury beliefs.”

    • #12
  13. Painter Jean Moderator
    Painter Jean
    @PainterJean

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):

    I did just make an edit to the post, by adding a photo. It took a while to find one that was actually well-focused. I think my family had pretty lousy cameras in the 1970s.

    I like the addition of the photo! Thanks.

    • #13
  14. Globalitarian Lower Order Misanthropist Coolidge
    Globalitarian Lower Order Misanthropist
    @Flicker

    One more thing about affluence.  I know I take clothes for granted but here is a good article, explaining why in 1347 a high-quality shirt cost $3,500 (or in 2013 with inflation to $4,200).

    ***

    And we’ll say that the spinner is in a hurry to make this thread because the shirt’s for her or someone she knows (all spinners were female in medieval times), so we’ll say she worked her tail off and did it in 500 hours.

    So, 7 hours for sewing, 72 for weaving, 500 for spinning, or 579 hours total to make one shirt. At minimum wage – $7.25 an hour – that shirt would cost $4,197.25.
    And that’s just a standard shirt.
    And that’s not counting the work that goes into raising sheep or growing cotton and then making the fiber fit for weaving. Or making the thread for the sewing.
    And you’d still need pants (tights or breeches) or a skirt, a bodice or vest, a jacket or cloak, stockings, and, if at all possible, but a rare luxury, shoes.

    NOTE: Back in the pre-industrial days, the making of thread, cloth, and clothing ate up all the time that a woman wasn’t spending cooking and cleaning and raising the children. That’s why single women were called “spinsters” – spinning thread was their primary job. “I somehow or somewhere got the idea,” wrote Lucy Larcom in the 18th century, “when I was a small child, that the chief end of woman was to make clothing for mankind.” Ellen Rollins: “The moaning of the big [spinning] wheel was the saddest sound of my childhood. It was like a low wail from out of the lengthened monotony of the spinner’s life.” (Jack Larkin, The Reshaping of Everyday Life, p. 26)

    ***

    We are swimming in affluence.

    • #14
  15. Freeven Member
    Freeven
    @Freeven

    Globalitarian Lower Order Misa… (View Comment):
    Jordan Peterson: No, I’m basically saying that all along hardy anyone had any opportunities.  I mean, if you look at the history of the world, things really started to shift in about 1895…

    I’ve heard Peterson make similar comments for several years. He always specifically cites the year 1895 as the point of change. Never “the 1890s,” or “the turn of the century,” or whatever. I figured he was referring to some invention or event from that year that I didn’t know enough about. Can anyone clue me in?

    • #15
  16. Globalitarian Lower Order Misanthropist Coolidge
    Globalitarian Lower Order Misanthropist
    @Flicker

    Freeven (View Comment):

    Globalitarian Lower Order Misa… (View Comment):
    Jordan Peterson: No, I’m basically saying that all along hardy anyone had any opportunities. I mean, if you look at the history of the world, things really started to shift in about 1895…

    I’ve heard Peterson make similar comments for several years. He always specifically cites the year 1895 as the point of change. Never “the 1890s,” or “the turn of the century,” or whatever. I figured he was referring to some invention or event from that year that I didn’t know enough about. Can anyone clue me in?

    I really can’t imagine.  Maybe he’s suggesting the weight of a number of things happened around 1895.

    • #16
  17. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Globalitarian Lower Order Misa… (View Comment):

    Freeven (View Comment):

    Globalitarian Lower Order Misa… (View Comment):
    Jordan Peterson: No, I’m basically saying that all along hardy anyone had any opportunities. I mean, if you look at the history of the world, things really started to shift in about 1895…

    I’ve heard Peterson make similar comments for several years. He always specifically cites the year 1895 as the point of change. Never “the 1890s,” or “the turn of the century,” or whatever. I figured he was referring to some invention or event from that year that I didn’t know enough about. Can anyone clue me in?

    I really can’t imagine. Maybe he’s suggesting the weight of a number of things happened around 1895.

    Maybe 1895 has something to do with steam power really being widespread?

    And electricity was used to light the 1893 World’s Fair.

    • #17
  18. Globalitarian Lower Order Misanthropist Coolidge
    Globalitarian Lower Order Misanthropist
    @Flicker

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Globalitarian Lower Order Misa… (View Comment):

    Freeven (View Comment):

    Globalitarian Lower Order Misa… (View Comment):
    Jordan Peterson: No, I’m basically saying that all along hardy anyone had any opportunities. I mean, if you look at the history of the world, things really started to shift in about 1895…

    I’ve heard Peterson make similar comments for several years. He always specifically cites the year 1895 as the point of change. Never “the 1890s,” or “the turn of the century,” or whatever. I figured he was referring to some invention or event from that year that I didn’t know enough about. Can anyone clue me in?

    I really can’t imagine. Maybe he’s suggesting the weight of a number of things happened around 1895.

    Maybe 1895 has something to do with steam power really being widespread?

    And electricity was used to light the 1893 World’s Fair.

    The one single thing I read that would come close was when an A/C power plant (I forget which) opened in the US purportedly ending the AC/DC Current War.  But I don’t think that’s it.

    • #18
  19. Internet's Hank Contributor
    Internet's Hank
    @HankRhody

    Globalitarian Lower Order Misa… (View Comment):

    The one single thing I read that would come close was when an A/C power plant (I forget which) opened in the US purportedly ending the AC/DC Current War.  But I don’t think that’s it.

    For my money it’s not a single thing, but an inflection point he saw on a graph somewhere. Regardless of the exact year he has a point.

    • #19
  20. Globalitarian Lower Order Misanthropist Coolidge
    Globalitarian Lower Order Misanthropist
    @Flicker

    Internet’s Hank (View Comment):

    Globalitarian Lower Order Misa… (View Comment):

    The one single thing I read that would come close was when an A/C power plant (I forget which) opened in the US purportedly ending the AC/DC Current War. But I don’t think that’s it.

    For my money it’s not a single thing, but an inflection point he saw on a graph somewhere. Regardless of the exact year he has a point.

    Yes, it’s probably the numerous effects and changes that were somehow specifically around 1895.  But I wonder if there’s a way to actually ask him.

    I mean, when he points to technology, and specifically mentions that tampons were among the things responsible for allowing the creation of more egalitarian cultures and for women being freed within them, he’s making points that don’t readily occur to me.

    • #20
  21. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    A quick search found some interesting perspective that may be useful:

    https://medium.com/@weadorebooks1/peterson-makes-a-rookie-mistake-96d2255403f4

    Could Peterson be thinking that 1895 is where that phenomenon really started taking off?

    • #21
  22. Globalitarian Lower Order Misanthropist Coolidge
    Globalitarian Lower Order Misanthropist
    @Flicker

    kedavis (View Comment):

    A quick search found some interesting perspective that may be useful:

    https://medium.com/@ weadorebooks1/peterson-makes-a-rookie-mistake-96d2255403f4

    Could Peterson be thinking that 1895 is where that phenomenon really started taking off?

    Personally, I think it’s poppycock saying that you don’t know how bad it is because you don’t know how good it can be.  Death and disease and children dying (and those who live growing stunted) is just about the definition of “bad.”

    • #22
  23. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Globalitarian Lower Order Misa… (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    A quick search found some interesting perspective that may be useful:

    https://medium.com/@ weadorebooks1/peterson-makes-a-rookie-mistake-96d2255403f4

    Could Peterson be thinking that 1895 is where that phenomenon really started taking off?

    Personally, I think it’s poppycock saying that you don’t know how bad it is because you don’t know how good it can be. Death and disease and children dying (and those who live growing stunted) is just about the definition of “bad.”

    Yes, but, in those times that was pretty much the situation for EVERYONE.  The “grass is greener” phenomenon wouldn’t have gotten started then.

    As recently as 1924, so just 100 years ago, the son of the PRESIDENT died from an infection due to a blister on his foot that he got while playing tennis on the White House grounds.  And I expect it took quite a while before many people found out it happened.

    • #23
  24. Globalitarian Lower Order Misanthropist Coolidge
    Globalitarian Lower Order Misanthropist
    @Flicker

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Globalitarian Lower Order Misa… (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    A quick search found some interesting perspective that may be useful:

    https://medium.com/@ weadorebooks1/peterson-makes-a-rookie-mistake-96d2255403f4

    Could Peterson be thinking that 1895 is where that phenomenon really started taking off?

    Personally, I think it’s poppycock saying that you don’t know how bad it is because you don’t know how good it can be. Death and disease and children dying (and those who live growing stunted) is just about the definition of “bad.”

    Yes, but, in those times that was pretty much the situation for EVERYONE. The “grass is greener” phenomenon wouldn’t have gotten started then.

    As recently as 1924, so just 100 years ago, the son of the PRESIDENT died from an infection due to a blister on his foot that he got while playing tennis on the White House grounds. And I expect it took quite a while before many people found out it happened.

    Do you really think that life being a struggle, and losing a parent before you’re eighteen, and having a child or two die young, and being widowed is ever any less painful than having less of this happen to you?

    Do you think that today having any of these things happen to you is any worse to the person because there are not as many of them statistically?

    • #24
  25. thelonious Member
    thelonious
    @thelonious

    Painter Jean (View Comment):

    This past weekend I watched the movie “Cabrini”. It is set in the New York of the late 1880s – early 1890s, Mother Cabrini arriving there in 1889. The depiction of the squalid slums of that time are very vivid and very moving. In reading about the movie afterwards, I learned that the sets were based in part on the photographs of Jacob Riis, a photographer and social reformer who used his camera to document the ghastly conditions of the impoverished immigrants in New York in the late 1880s. The movie isn’t overstating the crushing poverty of that era at all. And less than 150 years later, not one of us reading Randy’s post have ever seen poverty at that level – or anything even approaching it – in this country. There is much to be grateful for!

    What’s interesting is the squalid slums were an upgrade to the conditions they came from. Many were subsistence farmers who had to endure flooding and drought and often were on the verge of starvation.  A steady 12 hour a day job in miserable conditions and a roof over their heads in a cramped, unventilated apartment was an upgrade. 

    • #25
  26. Randy Weivoda Moderator
    Randy Weivoda
    @RandyWeivoda

    thelonious (View Comment):

    Painter Jean (View Comment):

    This past weekend I watched the movie “Cabrini”. It is set in the New York of the late 1880s – early 1890s, Mother Cabrini arriving there in 1889. The depiction of the squalid slums of that time are very vivid and very moving. In reading about the movie afterwards, I learned that the sets were based in part on the photographs of Jacob Riis, a photographer and social reformer who used his camera to document the ghastly conditions of the impoverished immigrants in New York in the late 1880s. The movie isn’t overstating the crushing poverty of that era at all. And less than 150 years later, not one of us reading Randy’s post have ever seen poverty at that level – or anything even approaching it – in this country. There is much to be grateful for!

    What’s interesting is the squalid slums were an upgrade to the conditions they came from. Many were subsistence farmers who had to endure flooding and drought and often were on the verge of starvation. A steady 12 hour a day job in miserable conditions and a roof over their heads in a cramped, unventilated apartment was an upgrade.

    Yes.  We often hear about the terrible conditions for third-world factory workers, but for most of them it is an easier life than trying to scratch out a living on a little farm using the same methods as their ancestors used for thousands of years.

    • #26
  27. Ekosj Member
    Ekosj
    @Ekosj

    If Bernie Sanders would simply employ the math he used during the Great Recession and use it in a new payroll scheme,  he could easily raise 500%.

    During the aftermath of the Great Recession, Bernie issued a report asserting that the Government bailed out US banks to the tune of 16.1 Trillion dollars.  That was more than the entire US GDP at the time so I was curious how the actual data was tortured into admitting to 16.1 trillion dollars.    And I found it in a footnote to that report….

    If an institution borrowed 10 million dollars and rolled that single loan over every day for 30 days, that single 10 million dollar loan shows up in the  “aggregate borrowing”  as 300 million dollars.  (30 X 10 million)  If that same institution borrowed the same 10 billion dollars for the same 30 days but did the initial loan as a 30 day term loan instead, that loan shows up as “aggregate borrowing” of only 10 million dollars.  Roll over the same 10 million for 60 days gets you 600 million borrowed using Bernie-math.

    So here is the new payroll plan…

    Every business day, workers will be paid a week’s wages calculated the old way.   Immediately following the payment, they will return those wages to their employer as an “non ownership investment”.   This will happen every day except Friday.   Friday’s payment is not required to be invested.   And badda bing badda bang badda boom … we add up how much workers were paid and we see that payments to workers increase 5X !!!    If you used to make $400 a week you now make $2000.   And it’s non inflationary to boot!   All through the magic of Bernie-math.

    • #27
  28. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Randy Weivoda: So the advice from my mother still stands.  Appreciate the good things in your life.  Stop whining because someone else has more than you.  Odds are you have a better life, with more opportunities, than 99% of the humans who have lived and died.

    And on the flip side: My mom would always say to us, “No matter how bad you have it, someone else has it worse.” :)

     

    • #28
  29. Paul Stinchfield Member
    Paul Stinchfield
    @PaulStinchfield

    kedavis (View Comment):

    A quick search found some interesting perspective that may be useful:

    https://medium.com/@weadorebooks1/peterson-makes-a-rookie-mistake-96d2255403f4

    The author of the linked item makes two rookie mistakes: He fails to cite the source of his quote, or at least link to a video, and he fails to quote enough to allow us to understand the context in which Peterson made that remark. A conscientious writer does not leave it up to his readers to sleuth out sources.

    The author also makes the imbecile but fashionable* assertion that it is a fact(!) that “hard times only exist in the reality of our perceptions” and thus people back in the day did not know they had it tough. It is true that those people did not know what improvements the future would bring, but they certainly knew they were vulnerable to poverty and starvation, could die suddenly of disease or accident or in childbirth, and were very likely to die if they required surgery.

    The only source for the quote that I can find online is this very short clip which also fails to give a source.

    In the two relevant interviews that I have listened to, Peterson’s comments about life in the past being extremely difficult were to make two points: First, people today do not realize how good they have it and how thankful we should be to those who made this civilization. Second, much of what are decried today as historical injustices were the “fault” of nature, not human action, and were eventually relieved by modern technology, modern medicine, etc.

    * Fashionable among some of the “intelligentsia”. For just two historical counter examples, consider Zola’s Germinal (1885) and Voltaire’s Candide (1759), both of which deal centrally with human suffering, both at the hands of other humans and at the “whims” of nature. One can find examples in Classical literature, too.

    EDIT: Mayhew’s London Labor and the London Poor was published in 1851.

    • #29
  30. Painter Jean Moderator
    Painter Jean
    @PainterJean

    thelonious (View Comment):

    Painter Jean (View Comment):

    This past weekend I watched the movie “Cabrini”. It is set in the New York of the late 1880s – early 1890s, Mother Cabrini arriving there in 1889. The depiction of the squalid slums of that time are very vivid and very moving. In reading about the movie afterwards, I learned that the sets were based in part on the photographs of Jacob Riis, a photographer and social reformer who used his camera to document the ghastly conditions of the impoverished immigrants in New York in the late 1880s. The movie isn’t overstating the crushing poverty of that era at all. And less than 150 years later, not one of us reading Randy’s post have ever seen poverty at that level – or anything even approaching it – in this country. There is much to be grateful for!

    What’s interesting is the squalid slums were an upgrade to the conditions they came from. Many were subsistence farmers who had to endure flooding and drought and often were on the verge of starvation. A steady 12 hour a day job in miserable conditions and a roof over their heads in a cramped, unventilated apartment was an upgrade.

    Having a roof over their heads and a steady job was not the situation that many were in at that time and place.  

    • #30
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