A Merry COVID Christmas

It is Christmas Eve. A time for peace and goodwill. A time for love and family. A time for tradition.

At least, it should be.

I do not practice very many traditions. I have no interest in repetitive ritual for the sake of historical precedent, so the only traditions I take part in are ones that I actually enjoy, and the only reason I do them is because they are fun, and not because they are tradition. That makes the end of this depressing year extra disappointing, because almost all of the very few traditions I hold dear are centered around Christmas, and thanks to the Covid pandemic, I will get to do exactly zero of them.

And so I cry and cry.

NORMALLY, in the weeks or months leading up to Christmas, my mother gets together with her lady friends, and takes part in a cookie bake off. Basically, they all make a million different cookies at home, then get together at my mom’s house and make a billion more, and then trade with each other so that they have countless sweet, sugary, delicious treats to share with their families throughout the holiday season. As a big, hairy, sausage-fingered beast man, I am not, and have never been welcome at the lady cookie party, which is absolutely fine because I’m fairly certain they all just drink wine, braid their tampon strings, and bitch about how much they hate their husbands and children while baking those sweet sweet cooks. But this year, the girls didn’t get to have their sinful gathering, and that blows because I WANT THEM COOKIES. If I’m not 63 pounds heavier and hobbling around on feet painfully swollen with diabetic gout by the end of the holiday season as sugar crystals the size of rock candy squeeze through my rubbery veins while my pancreas gives up, packs a bindle on a stick and squirts out my asshole to hop a convenient cargo train west, then what even is the point of the holidays?

To add insult to injury, not only do I not get to enjoy an unwise amount of homemade cookie treats this year, I also don’t get to visit with my family.

Every year since the beginning of time, my mother’s family has gotten together on Christmas Eve, and in recent decades the party has been hosted at my Aunt and Uncle’s house in Massachusetts. My mom has 376 siblings, and most of them had 12-15 children, and several of them have had children of their own, so on the day before Christmas an army of relatives large enough to sack mighty Carthage fill up my Aunt and Uncle’s cute little suburban ranch home until it’s packed tighter than a pre-1980s YMCA Men’s locker room on elephant walk night, and then they just sit, and eat, and talk, and laugh, and that’s it. That’s the whole party, and I love every minute of it. Almost none of my relatives even drink or do drugs at the party because they’re fucking NERDS, and you don’t even understand how much I love them. It’s not going to be much of a Christmas at all if I can’t drive up to Massachusetts, smuggle booze into my relative’s house, eat my weight in homemade meatballs, then vape weed, blast sneaker bumps, and rip shots in the dark basement with Mistress Kay and my two sleazebag cousins while all of the well-liked, well-adjusted cousins and other relatives gather upstairs around the Christmas tree and sing carols or whatever it is that those wholesome nerds do. God Damn I love them all so much and I miss them already. Missing out on the Christmas Eve party this year hits hard.

Not the least because, after the much anticipated Christmas Eve dinner party, I would then have perhaps the most cherished portion of our Christmas traditions to look forward to. I speak, of course, about the sibling slumber party. Usually, this beloved event would occur in Tiny Town, the legendary home of my ancestors, the 14 square foot farmhouse my grandmother and her sixteen siblings (that’s the actual number, not an exaggeration) were raised in, and the place where my mother, sisters, and I would spend Christmas Eve night eagerly awaiting Santa’s arrival. This place had everything. Uncomfortably low ceilings. Saggy wood floors. A fuzzy 19 inch CRT TV with attached VHS player. Grandmama ignoring us while playing solitaire on the kitchen table with her hearing aids turned off like a total fucking savage. Zero comfortable places to sleep. It was paradise.

Much to Wife Kay and my sister’s husband’s consternation, we continued this slumber party tradition well into our adulthoods, and would be happily continuing it this year too, albeit not in Tiny Town, since Grandmama now resides in a nursing home and Tiny Town is inhabited I assume by the Keebler Elves, but thanks to COVID, we not only don’t get our sibling sleep over in any location, we don’t even get to open presents together and have breakfast Christmas morning because it turns out my family HATES me and told me that I’m not welcome in any of their homes. Instead, Wife Kay and I have been generously invited to stand on a snow bank in my sister’s yard and peer through her window while her family drinks hot cocoa, eats candy canes and opens presents in sinful Christmas splendor without us, only pausing to periodically throw egg shells, coffee grounds, and other breakfast rubbish at us to eat from the ground like the wretched scum they think we are.

It’s okay, I only cried a little when my very own family told me that they wanted nothing to do with me this year, and that they’d rather chop off their ding-dongs than let me into their houses for even a second. I figured, at least Wife Kay’s family still loves me and we can still do our Christmas tradition with them, which would be to visit her dad’s house after breakfast while still in our pajamas, open presents there, and then watch a movie.

ALAS.

That is not the case either. They, like my family, have also made it clear that if we even set foot on their property, they would shoot me in the face with a blunderbuss full of ghost peppers and rusty nails.

Even though I work from home and am literally starved for human contact, and both Sadness Kay and I always wear masks and socially distance on the very rare occasions that we do leave the house, and we haven’t had so much as a sniffle all year, and we’ve passed multiple negative Covid Tests, none of our “loved” ones want to see us, none of my beloved Christmas traditions are occurring, and Sadness Kay and I will be spending a lonely Christmas alone crying beside our undecorated tree and opening the zero presents we got each other because we’re fucking poor, so 2020 is clearly going out with a last few kicks to my dangling veiny nut sack like the total bitch of a year that it was.

Thanks Obama.

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Why I support Peaceful Protests…and then Rioting.

I don’t like having to make this post. I really don’t. I prefer using this website to talk about wizards, spaceships, and other dumb bullshit like that. You know, my interests.

Being constantly stressed out and agitated about the current state of our society is decidedly NOT one of my interests. And yet, here we are.

For those of my readers who live abroad, and are watching the unrest in the United States without a full understanding of the causes and reasonings behind it, I will explain.

There are A LOT of murders in this country. For the most part, they are ignored outside of the communities immediately impacted by them, because they are just considered part of the cost of doing business in this great nation. If you live in a country filled with literally hundreds of millions of guns, enormous wealth disparity, little to no social welfare programs to help impoverished and highly segregated communities improve, expensive higher education, unaffordable for-profit healthcare, and a high cost of living with stagnant wages and little hope for upward mobility, then murders are going to happen. For the most part, they are accepted with a weary resignation because, oh well, you’ve got to pay to play, Thank You, Come Again.

The reason there are currently so many protests and riots occurring is because a certain type of murder has recently gained national attention. I’ll give you a list of murders, let’s see if you can guess which type I am talking about. Please note, this is not a comprehensive list of murder scenarios. We’ve got loads more because we’re so good at it, but this should be enough to prove my point.

Scenario 1 – A white person kills a black person. The murderer is arrested and goes to jail.

Scenario 2 – A black person kills a white person. The murderer is arrested and goes to jail.

Scenario 3 – A black person kills a black person. The murderer is arrested and goes to jail.

Scenario 4 – A white person kills a white person. The murderer is arrested and goes to jail.

Scenario 5 – A white person kills a black person, in broad daylight, on camera, with witnesses. The murderer is not arrested, does not go to jail, and continues living their lives.

Scenario 6 – A police officer kills a black person, in broad daylight, on camera, with witnesses. The murderer is not arrested, does not go to jail, and continues living their lives.

In scenarios 1-4, there are no protests. Why not? Surely their horrible crimes are just as appalling as in scenarios 5 and 6? Yes, of course they are. But the criminal responsible for taking a life was promptly identified, arrested, tried and convicted in a court of law, and sentenced to punishment. So what is there to protest? Justice, as unsatisfying and empty as it must be to the victim’s loved ones, has been served.

In scenario 5 and 6, there are protests, not just because the murder happened, and not just because of the identity or skin color of the victim, but because of the LACK OF JUSTICE. The murderer goes free, despite overwhelming evidence tying them to the crime, simply because of the badge on their shirt or the color of their skin.

There are protests, because a white man can get away with killing a black man just by saying that the black man was spooky and he deserved to die, and the justice system will shrug and say, oh, in that case, sorry for bothering you, you’re free to go. Imagine if instead a black man killed a white man because he thought the white man was spooky. The black man wouldn’t even make it to the courthouse, he’d be hung from the nearest lamp post or tree limb, and a significant portion of our country would celebrate that the monster got what he deserved.

That is why the Black Lives Matter movement exists. Not because they don’t think All Lives Matter. Not because they think Black Lives Matter More. Just because we clearly need to be reminded that Black Lives Matter Too. All the movement wants is equal protection under the law for people of color. Equal rights. Equal consideration.

If your instinctual response to Black Lives Matter is – No! All Lives Matter! or even worse, No! Blue Lives Matter!, you really need to take a step back and consider why you find the idea of Black Lives Matter so unpalatable. I’ve made this metaphor before, but it is apt, so I will repeat myself.

If I break my arm, and go to the doctor to fix that broken arm, I expect the doctor to do something about the arm, not to ignore my arm and yell – No, All Bones Matter!

Of Course All Bones Matter. Nobody ever said they didn’t. But Maybe, just MAYBE we could focus on the BROKEN ARM SPECIFICALLY RIGHT NOW.

The most recent spate of protests are in response to the equally recent spate of police officers killing unarmed black men and women, sometimes “accidentally”, sometimes on purpose, and receiving no punishment for their actions, which is particularly upsetting because the people committing the murders were empowered by us to serve and protect our communities, and they are using powers, funds, and protections we provided to them, in order to take our lives with impunity.

If any other citizen of this country were to say, break into your house and shoot you while you were asleep, or kneel on your neck until you died, or shoot you in the back seven times, or shoot you while trying to shoot somebody else, or shoot you in front of your girlfriend and children while you are trying to comply with their demands, or shoot you while you’re laying on the ground with your hands in the air trying to comply with their demands, and all of these activities were on camera, with witnesses, well that citizen would likely be going to jail for the rest of their lives.

When the police kill somebody in the aforementioned scenarios, they get paid leave, investigate themselves, decide that they are innocent of wrongdoing, and go on about their lives without any further consequences. THAT is why there is protesting happening.

Please note, this is NOT an indictment of all police officers. In fact, I believe most police officers are perfectly adequate at their jobs, and really are motivated to serve and protect their communities. Some are even true heroes. I repeat – MANY POLICE OFFICERS ARE GOOD PEOPLE WHO TRY THEIR BEST AT THEIR JOB.

But.

If a police officer is BAD, if they are not interested in serving and protecting, if they in fact are prone to excessive use of force, or are violently racist, or are murderous bastards, they are protected, and do not get in trouble or receive justice for their unjust actions. THAT is why the protests and riots are occurring. NOT because all police officers are bad. NOT even because most police officers are bad. The protests and riots are occurring because the few bad police officers who exist and do bad things do not receive punishment for their crimes

Even the most jaded and bigoted American would hopefully support other American’s rights to peacefully protest when they witness an injustice. It is after all a right given to us by the VERY FIRST AMENDMENT TO OUR NATION’S CONSTITUTION. And I don’t think the protesters demands are especially unreasonable, since they basically boil down to  – Stop killing us please, and if you absolutely have to kill us, at least get in trouble for it!

A lot of people are quick to justify their disgust with the BLM movement and protesters by saying oh, I would support them, if only they weren’t causing damage. I agree with their argument, in principle, and I guess they are human beings and citizens of this country and deserve all of the rights I enjoy, BUT they better not cause a fuss about it! As soon as that happens, the protesters goals and desires are no longer valid! They are quick to condemn those protesters as soon as the protest turns violent.

I am not one of those people.

The reason for protest is to exert societal pressure to instigate institutional change. The people have identified a problem, and have gathered in large numbers to incentivize their duly elected government to resolve that problem.

But what happens if the government ignores them? What if the government does worse, and attacks them to silence their message and compel them to obey? What if, every time the protesters peacefully gather to have their voices heard, the government illegally breaks their gatherings up with batons and guns and tear gas and dogs and horses and tanks and masked men in unmarked vans? What if, every time a protester stands up for their rights, a masked and uniformed thug is waiting with baton raised to strike them back down, and then if the protester lifts their arm to block the baton instead of just meekly accepting having their skull rearranged by a length of steel pipe, faceless government goons will immediately point fingers at the protester and go look! He’s not peaceful! He’s a dangerous revolutionary! Let’s get him!

After years, and decades, and centuries of attempts at non-violent protest and incremental change with no success, should the protesters just pat each other on the back and say, oh well, we tried politely asking to not be murdered with impunity, but the government wants to keep murdering us with impunity, so I guess we’ll just go back to getting murdered with impunity? Should they quietly return home, convinced that they shouldn’t have asked for justice, because it was a silly request anyway?

I say no! If the government you are trying to reach refuses to negotiate in good faith with you to alleviate your concerns, it is time to escalate. It is absolutely time to break some windows, set some fires, cause some property damage, because you know what? Those types of escalations WORK. If the government you are protesting ignores your protest, the resulting inevitable violence is the government’s fault.

Take the Boston Tea Party, a famous bit of property destruction perpetrated by our nations Forefathers against the crown. They had attempted years of peaceful negotiation to have their concerns addressed by the lawful government of the time, but their non-violent efforts had gotten them nowhere. So then, understandably frustrated, they resorted to violence and destruction of property, and we consider those vandalizing, destructive, violent revolutionaries to be  heroes because of it, while the unreasonable and unresponsive British government they were at odds with is the villain!

If you have been pushed down so far that the only way to get your voice heard is on the tail end of a molotov cocktail, then throw that bangy boy. If you can’t make your point quietly, make it loudly. That’s as American as apple pie and over-priced insulin.

Let’s talk about Kenosha, Wisconsin. 

Kenosha has recently been rocked by protests and riots that have drawn a lot of controversy, and created a lot of anger from both sides.

What we know for certain, is that On Aug. 23, 2020, Kenosha Police Officer Rusten Sheskey shot an unarmed black man named Jacob Blake seven times in the back after Blake walked away from officers and opened the driver side door to a small SUV which contained his three children. The altercation and subsequent shooting was filmed.

Blake, although paralyzed, is still alive, so we may eventually get more information about what exactly happened. Although we can clearly see the shooting in the video, what we don’t yet know, is what led up to the shooting. Blake had a warrant out for his arrest for a domestic dispute. He had been scuffling with the police before he walked away to his car. He did not have a gun. There was a knife found in the vehicle, but it does not appear that Blake tried to grab it or use it. Blake might have been a danger to the several police officers surrounding him with their guns drawn. The shooting may have been warranted, but that seems unlikely upon initial review, because the officers lives did not appear to be in immediate danger in that situation. 

We don’t have all the answers about that tragic situation yet. But what we do have, is an alarming video of a police officer shooting an unarmed black man in the back seven times without a clear explanation of the reason why since the man was moving away from officers, not threateningly toward them. In a year when multiple highly visible killings of black men and women at the hands of police officers have occurred, and a devastating pandemic with all of its associated economic and social repercussions is still raging in our country, and possibly the most divisive and polarizing president we’ve ever had is in the White House preparing for a hotly contested election, this singular situation didn’t create the resulting civil unrest in Kenosha, but, much like the 1914 assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand didn’t cause the first World War, it sure added fuel to the fire.

Protesters, already frustrated by a lack of progress following  protests for earlier police killings, were understandably quick to gather and almost immediately escalated to rioting. From their point of view, they’ve done so much peaceful protesting already, with no results, so rioting is the natural next step. In their mind, the shooting of Mr. Blake is proof that their concerns are not being addressed, and that Black Lives still do not matter to the government and a large amount of the citizens in the nation where they reside.

Adding an unasked for and unpleasant twist to the situation, during the protests and riots, more deaths occurred, most visibly the shooting deaths of two men and severe wounding of a third by 17 year old Illinois resident Kyle Rittenhouse.

Here is my opinion regarding Kyle Rittenhouse: He is a piece of shit. His parents are pieces of shit. Anybody who supports him are pieces of shit.

Kyle is not a hero. He did not prevent loss of life by his actions. His actions actually caused loss of life. If Kyle had stayed home, two men would not have lost their lives that night.

Everything that Kyle did was illegal. He was a  stupid hot-headed bully kid who was in possession of a firearm illegally. He was in Wisconsin illegally. He was out after curfew illegally. He was acting in a vigilante capacity illegally. He took it upon himself, unasked for and uninvited, to travel to the protests with a loaded gun, to “protect property from rioters”. Whose property? Not his property. He didn’t belong there.

Supporters will say he was defending himself, and he had to shoot those men, because they were trying to stop him.

Stop him from what? Brandishing his firearm threateningly at strangers? Bullying protesters? The best way he could have defended himself, was by not being there in the first place.

A seventeen year old is barely allowed to drive a car after dark. A seventeen year old can’t vote, or drink, or do a myriad of other adult activities, because it is understood that their brains are still developing, and they simply do not have the cognitive maturity to process things like an adult. So the fact that this one was allowed to load up his rifle and travel to a riot to act out some sort of Call of Duty: White Power Ops fantasy where he could scare niggers and libtards without expecting any consequences for his actions, is unforgivable.

When protesters encountered this belligerent redneck mouth breather swinging his gun around with an itchy trigger finger, and rightfully tried to defend themselves and take the dangerous gun away from the unqualified child, he panicked and started blasting.

Then, when other bystanders saw a madman with a rifle murdering unarmed civilians, they stepped in to try to stop him, and they got shot as well.

THEN, fresh off of murdering two fellow American citizens and wounding another, Kyle Rittenhouse was able to saunter over to share fist-bumps with the cops and crack a few monster energy drinks before hopping in his car and driving home to a peaceful slumber in his twin-sized red plastic racecar bed in his Scooby-Do themed bedroom at his parents house.

Why can a violent white dude straight up murder multiple people, then walk past the cops openly carrying the gun he used for the murders, and go home to a hot cocoa and a bedtime story, but a black dude, who has murdered zero people and doesn’t even have a gun, gets shot in the back seven times by potentially the same group of cops?

That’s exactly the question BLM activists are asking.

If you think that Kyle Rittenhouse, and all the other Ya’lliban Jihadists like him that flocked to the protests to take potshots at an angry grieving community, are justified, but the protests and riots themselves are not…you’re an insane person.

If murder is an appropriate response to destruction of property; then why is destruction of property not an appropriate response to murder?

Which is more important to you? Replaceable objects? Or Irreplaceable lives?

The most confusing part of all this, is the people who don’t support the BLM protests, should! All of the gun-toting, don’t tread on me, small government, give me my freedoms, red-blooded Americans should absolutely be standing shoulder to shoulder with the BLM activists who are protesting against bad cops and an oppressive government. Supposedly, the entire reason they have all their guns is to protect themselves from a tyrannical government! That’s like, their whole thing! Not to help the tyrannical government perpetrate it’s tyranny!

The second group that should be fighting shoulder to shoulder with BLM activists, are the Blue Lives Matter crowd! Good cops and their supporters should be the LOUDEST voices of condemnation against bad cops! They should be the leaders in the fight against the racist cops, the excessive force users, the corrupt, the incompetent, and the violent. If they were, then this wouldn’t even be a problem at all.

If good cops held the bad cops accountable for their actions, we wouldn’t be in this situation in the first place. That’s all the protesters want. It’s a reasonable request, and they are going to continue protesting until they get it, and if protesting still doesn’t work, hey, they can always escalate to rioting and violence.

That’s the whole point.

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To dad, or not to dad?

Father’s day is coming soon. Let’s talk about fatherhood.

My entire website is a nearly even mix of entertaining lies and uncomfortable truths. This post will mostly be the latter.

I don’t know if I want to be a dad.

I haven’t gotten anybody pregnant as far as I know, so you may rest assured that this is currently just hypothetical musing on my part, and not some terrible confession made under duress as I flee for the Southern border in a hastily packed car while spurned lovers gather into a vengeful posse hellbent on tracking me down and strong-arming me into fulfilling my filial obligations. But the uncertainty remains.

As of the writing of this post, two of my closest girl friends are, judging from the size of their bellies and how sweaty and out of breathe they get while performing the most mundane of tasks, somewhere between 10 and 34 months pregnant with their first and second babies respectively, AND my two best male friends have both just fathered their first children, so I am surrounded by babies and my thoughts on the matter are somewhat unavoidable.

birth

The miracle of childbirth – a young mother experiences typical labor, 1986 colorized

On the one hand, I am so excited for my best friends, but I also worry that they won’t like me anymore because I’m not part of their cool parents club, and that I will be doomed to a life of loneliness and ostracism as I slip slowly into the comforting madness of eternal solitude while they exclusively pal around with other parents and talk about diaper brands and nipple seepage and whatever else it is that people with young children talk about.

On the other hand, building a baby of my own just so the people I love still tolerate my presence in their lives does seem a little rash.

How do you know if having a baby is right for you? Wife Kay very much wants babies, and is constantly talking about how “we” want kids, and “we’re” thinking about trying for them soon, and “we” can’t wait to be parents, while I make noncommittal noises like “mmm” and “ah” and “hmm”, but all the while I’m internally screaming in terror as anxiety crushes my lungs, my blood pressure spikes, and my dick retracts like the head of a panicked box turtle.

Here’s the thing. I am an inherently selfish individual. I enjoy doing the things that I want to do, how and when I want to do them, and I avoid doing the things I don’t want to do, because they do not bring me joy. I won’t even buy a pet dog because I would be forced to adhere to another creature’s food and bathroom schedule. It is my understanding that children’s needs can be even more demanding than a dogs. That sounds not fun, and fun is a thing I happen to enjoy. Additionally, I like having a hot babe wife that makes more money than me, but I am fairly certain that if Wife Kay gets pregnant she’ll end up looking like Slimer from the Ghostbusters for the rest of our lives, and will also use the kid as an excuse to never work again. Is having a child really worth the stress of becoming a single income household so that my formerly hot wife can turn into a grotesque monster that eats chili cheesecake, watches daytime soap operas and washes herself with a rag on a stick?

rag

Wife Kay after having babies

I know that the go-to argument for having children is that you’ll love them, and I know intellectually that love is an enjoyable thing for people to feel, but there sure seems to be a lot of caveats that go along with loving a child. Like, you’ll love your kids, BUT they sure are messy. Or, you’ll love your kids, BUT they sure are expensive. Or, you’ll love your kids, BUT you’ll never sleep again. Or, you’ll love your kids, BUT they’ll probably knock you out and steal your kidneys for drug money. That seems like a lot of buts.

There are plenty of things you can love without any buts involved. Like books. I love books. They’re inexpensive, quiet, fun, and I enjoy every part of them. I love how they look. I love how they smell. I love how they have words in them, and when I read those words I can hallucinate about wizards and spaceships and shit. And, on the off chance that I get bored of a book I love, I can just slot it neatly into place in my bookshelf, or even give it away, and forget about it completely. But, if I get bored of a baby and stuff it into my bookshelf or give it away to a stranger at the bus stop, suddenly I’m a monster, and I’m going to jail? No thanks.

Beyond the fact that children seem like a lot of work, how do I know I won’t fuck it up completely? If I’m going to do a job, I want to do it right. Am I really qualified to give an impressionable youth the right mix of love, support, and spicy childhood trauma necessary to help them grow up into a hilarious and competent adult?

I have mixed feelings about fathers. My father was killed when I was a dumb little baby. So I crave father figures in my life with a desperate need. But also, I don’t really know what it is that fathers do? If my father had survived to raise me, I would be a completely different person than I am now, with a completely different set of circumstances, a different personality, different friends, different everything. So obviously I wish I had an opportunity to know him. But also…not. Because I like me. I like who I am. I like my friends. I like the life that I have. A life that I wouldn’t have had if he had survived. I can almost guarantee that, had he survived, I would be a worse person. Not because he was a bad person, but because my specific experiences have sculpted me into the man I am today, and if you take away those experiences and replace them with new ones, I would in many ways be lessened. That’s a complex situation that I can’t help but feel a certain level of guilt about.

My mother eventually found somebody new after my father was killed, and her new beau was around from when I was maybe four to about eighteen, so I did at least have a male figure in my life during my most formative years, but he unfortunately was just looking to lay some pipe with my babe mom, and was woefully unqualified for the dad role, so he received D+ to C- grades in fathering at best. Consequently, my role models for fatherhood were a dead man I never really knew, and a gruff stranger that could generously be described as father-adjacent, and all they’ve really taught me about fatherhood is that if I want my children to have great jokes and be happy and successful, the best thing I could ever do for them might be to just die immediately so they can figure their own shit out without my idiocy ruining them.

I don’t want to die yet.

Look, at the end of the day, I’m just not sure if I’m ready to have kids, or if I even want them at all, but all my friends are having them, and I don’t want to lose my friends.

I worry that the people I care about the most are growing up and maturing and moving on with their lives, and I don’t know if I can keep up with them.

I was already having fun, I don’t want things to change. I just want to do hoodrat things with my hoodrat friends, and be as stupid and silly and self-destructive as ever, but they don’t. How could they? Their lives aren’t their own anymore. Their lives belong to these tiny little miracle parasites that they’ve created and are now dedicated to. I think I might want to join them, but I’m scared. Does having a child mean that your life is over, and your dreams are done, because now you’re dedicated to your child’s life and dreams instead?

I know that having a child makes you lose a lot of sleep. Do you lose your dreams as well?

If all my friends have kids, and I don’t, do I lose my friends?

 

 

FATHERS. As Father’s day approaches, lend me your wisdom.

Those of you who always knew you wanted to have kids, why did you? Those of you who were never sure, but had them anyway, how is that going for you? And those of you who never ever wanted to have kids, do you regret not having them? (Or having them, if you did?)

Teach me.

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Coronavirus Quarantine and other enjoyable Opportunities

For those of my readers based outside of the solar system colloquially called Sol, and away from the planet unimaginatively named Earth, you should know that those of us stuck here on the old homeworld are currently living through a global viral pandemic. This is, understandably a stressful time for everyone, as hospitals are overwhelmed by patients, businesses are closed, and people are forced to isolate themselves at home to try to reduce the spread of illness to a manageable level.

Those of us who reside in the United States can breathe easy, at least until the virus turns our lungs into forbidden water balloons, knowing that our nation will definitely make all the right economic and healthcare decisions in a timely manner thanks to the astute leadership of That One Illiterate Guy Who Was A Reality TV Star And Whose Businesses Went Bankrupt Six Times, and The Other Dude Who Is A Religious Zealot And Thinks Science Is A Hoax Perpetrated By Satan. For those of you in other countries who DON’T have leaders so highly qualified to shepherd you through such scary high-stakes times, I’m sorry.

The best thing for all of us to do at the moment is take a deep breathe, while we still can before the virus drowns us from the inside, post up at home, and chill the fuck out for a few weeks. The Covid-19 Coronavirus is so dangerous, not because it kills everybody who gets it, but because it doesn’t. The virus is highly infectious, and has a fairly long incubation period. That means it’s easy to get, and you can have it for a relatively long time before you even know you’re sick, giving you ample opportunity to spread it to everyone else you come in contact with before you begin to show symptoms. This, obviously, is leading to a massive amount of secondary and tertiary infections as asymptomatic carriers Typhoid-Mary around town breathing their hot plague breathe all willy-nilly. Yes, Typhoid-Mary is a verb now, civilization is collapsing and the old linguistic rules of the Before Before no longer apply here in the After Times. Since this dangerous illness proliferates so rapidly and so easily, the most effective measure we can take to curtail its spread is to bunker down at home and wait it out.

Now, to many of you, this is understandably a cause for major stress, whether due to financial worries while you’re not working, or personal angst because you can no longer avoid your families by working long hours in the office, and are forced to confront the fact that you resent your children, those soul-sucking leaches who stole the final years of your youth and greater part of your financial freedom for their own selfish needs without contributing a single thing of tangible value in return, or that the last fitful flickering spark of love, respect, and contentment you had for your hideously aging lazy nag of a spouse is now inevitably and irretrievably gone as you’re forced to witness them slime around the house like a malodorous slug in the same pair of raggedy sweatpants for the thirteenth day in a row, staring in slack-jawed bewilderment at the glowing screen of the smartphone held six inches in front of their stupid hairy fat face by clasping claw-like hands covered in cracked and fissured skin that has been dried to a dusty Paper Mache-like consistency by their compulsive hand-washing in their efforts to prevent the spread of the virus that you almost wish would hit your household because you’re starting to look forward to a few days of painful suffocation, gasping for air on an uncomfortable National Guard cot in an overcrowded triage tent set up in an empty Wal Mart parking lot while a tired dead-eyed physician frowns and stares sadly at her clipboard before resolutely moving on and leaving you to slip silently into the sweet embrace of death alone and forgotten.

Of course, that’s not what home quarantine HAS to be like, at least not entirely. It’s also a time of exciting opportunity! Now that we’re all home, life is either:

1) Business as usual – maybe you are retired, or a housewife or househusband, or you were already working from home before this pandemic.

2) Working from home for the first time. Or;

3) Not working because you’re stuck using paid time off, or unpaid time off, or furlough, or you’ve been laid off due to the virus.

If being home is business as usual for you, like it is for me, you’ve probably got nothing to complain about. You’ve already got an established routine, you’re a pro, you’ve got this.

If you’re working from home for the first time, you can be thankful that you’re still receiving an income, and that modern technology allows you to avoid infection while still remaining productive. Sure, there will be some growing pains as you ease into a new routine with potentially unfamiliar or insufficient software and hardware, but those pains are more than offset by the conveniences that those of us who were already working from home have long since discovered. First, you have more time. Even if your productivity and efficiency take a hit while you’re working without all the conveniences of the main office, you shall soon find that your efficiency can still receive a net increase because you can finally work however -you- work best. Maybe it’s in complete silence, something you could never achieve while manacled to the desk in your waist-high cubicle in your crowded office. Maybe it’s with pounding death metal riffs cranked up to eleven on your surround sound stereo keeping your blood pumping and energy up, something that would never be tolerated in a public office environment. Maybe it’s naked as the day you were born, unconstrained by restrictive business casualwear and societal pressure. I don’t know what makes you work best, but I bet you do, and when you’re working in the privacy of your own home, you’re free to indulge.

Even if it turns out that working from home doesn’t help your efficiency and productivity, and you actually have to work a little longer to complete your assigned tasks, you’re still saving time during the day that would otherwise be spent getting ready and commuting to and from work. All that time normally spent sitting in traffic ironically listening to Rage Against The Machine on the radio as you dutifully creep into the office to toil for your corporate overlords like a busy little worker bee in their underground sugar caves is now your own again. You are suddenly reminded that there is such a thing as a work/life balance, and that they are separate things. Work is work, and life is life, and the less time you spend stuck at work, the more time you have to actually enjoy life. When you’re at work, you’re not living, you’re existing. Once you gain back even a little of the time you used to lease to your bosses for too little pay and too much stress while they sit fat and happy in their golden towers drinking cognac from blood diamond decanters fondly reminiscing about last season’s human hunting trip on their private death island, you begin to realize exactly how valuable time for yourself actually is.

If you’re not working at all due to this quarantine, the same applies to you, but even more so. There’s only so much worrying you can do about your reduced income, so try to get that out of the way early instead of dwelling on it throughout the entire quarantine. Try instead to think of it this way – for the next few weeks you don’t have to work. You can’t work. So you might as well spend this time working on yourself.

The United States has a very unhealthy work culture. It’s not quite as bad as say, Japan, where salarymen are expected to literally work themselves to death, but America has plenty of that same attitude, where if you’re not working overtime, putting in extra hours above and beyond what you were hired to do, you’re somehow doing something wrong, and if you have the gall to actually take time off, you’re definitely thought less of. Even in companies that provide generous paid time off benefits, actually using that paid time off and taking time to enjoy your life instead of just constantly slaving away often gets you more than a few stink eyes, and not just from management. This pressure comes from your peers too, which is preposterous when you think about it, because they know exactly how stressful and draining and unrewarding the work you’re doing really is, so it would make more sense if they all agreed that HEY, we SHOULD be compensated more for this, and we SHOULD get more time off to relax, or travel, or spend time with our families, or work on our hobbies, or do any of the countless things that are actually more important than working. Now that a significant portion of the American work force is unemployed and stuck at home for the foreseeable near future, we might as well take this time as an opportunity to remember that life is more than just work.

Let’s reignite or discover our passions, people. Write a book. Knit. Paint a painting. Learn to cook. Build a desk. Learn a musical instrument. Get fit. Do something that you’ve always wanted to do, but have simply never had the time for. You have the time now. So no more excuses!

If I wasn’t working, and I couldn’t travel, I know the things I would do. Please allow me to try to convince you to do them too.

If I was homebound and suddenly found myself with a notable increase in free time, I would do projects around the house, I would write, and I would work out. So basically, I would do what I already do in my free time, just more of it. To me, work has always only ever been a means to an end. I’ve always sought the highest pay possible for the least effort possible, because that’s the only equation that makes any sense. I care about work only as much as necessary and not a tiny bit more, because work for me is not my life, it is only ever an inconvenient but necessary distraction that I would not do at all if it wasn’t needed to fund my life.

While this probably doesn’t ingratiate me much to upper management in any of the companies I’ve worked for because they prefer to think of their lower and mid-level employees as mindless drones and autonomous assets dedicated solely to building wealth for the glory of the corporation, and any empathetic sonder the corporate aristocracy may feel from being reminded that even poor people have hopes and dreams and inner worlds equally as rich and vibrant as their own is uncomfortable and unwelcome, I like to think that my immediate supervisors are generally satisfied with my productivity and willingness to do my assigned activities. Even if that is not the case, I’m not overly bothered by it, because work is not what is important to me. At least, not working to increase someone else’s wealth.

Please don’t misunderstand. I’m not afraid of hard work. I just like to focus that hard work on projects I’m passionate about. Like the aforementioned house projects, and writing, and working out. If I had all the time in the world I would complete more house projects because I like tinkering, I like puttering, and I like making the home where I spend most of my time more pleasant, and I take pride in doing the work myself instead of paying somebody else to do it. So while you’re stuck at home not working, perhaps you would enjoy doing the same? It can be something as simple as cleaning old clothes out of your closet, or something as complex as building an addition to house all the babies that are going to come out of the quarantine humps we’re all enjoying. Either way, I promise you that the simple act of doing something productive will make you feel better, and will provide you with a much needed sense of accomplishment during this trying time. If you’re not “handy” or you feel overwhelmed, don’t be! There are so many useful resources available online that can walk you step by step through doing any project you might think of. We may as well get the most out of YouTube University while the internet still exists, and learn all sorts of useful skills now that may prove valuable once civilization finishes collapsing and we’re back to drawing buffalo silhouettes on the back walls of caves.

If I wasn’t working, beyond my constant puttering around the house, I would also devote my copious free time to my writing. I write because I enjoy the process nearly as much as the result, and because I like the thought that something I create may be consumed and enjoyed by another human, especially after I am dead and gone. The thought that I can create something, and leave a little bit of myself behind as a lasting legacy, is very reassuring. While you’re not working, why not do the same? For me, I make words good, so I write. For you, maybe you can paint, or sculpt, or create music. It doesn’t matter what medium you use, just create! Gift the rest of us with a little sliver of your soul, so that you can say – I existed! I was real! – and future generations can look upon your works and tremble in awe of your glory. Most of our lives, we consume more than we produce. We consume the media made by others. We consume space. We consume resources. In taking the time to create art, we can tip back the scales, and give of ourselves to balance that equation. So go ahead! Write a dumb poem! Draw a stupid drawing! If it sucks, who cares! Do it with joy! No matter how it turns out, you’re creating, and there’s a certain immortality in that.

The third thing I would devote myself to if I was not able to work for a month or two is getting absolutely fucking shredded. Just fucking enormous. Not all weird and lumpy like a body builder, that particular sport has never interested me because I’ve never really been motivated by the aesthetics of it. I’m just interested in getting as strong as possible. As fit as possible. As fast as possible. Because, why wouldn’t I be interested in that?

I’m sure when you think of the brilliant Greek philosopher Socrates, you think of a wispy haired older gentleman hobbling around the symposium debating great and lofty ideals with an adoring public, but what you might not know is that the great scholar was also a raw natural deadlift world champion, squatted more than the mighty Hercules, and could bench press the moon. He is well known, not only for his thoughts on the nature of man and reality, but also for this interesting quote:

“It is a disgrace to grow old through sheer carelessness before seeing what manner of man you may become by developing your bodily strength and beauty to their highest limit.” – Socrates

I mean, the dude isn’t wrong. We only get one life to live. Why wouldn’t we want to find out the full extent of what we’re physically capable of? Obviously we’re not all going to be Olympians, or even especially good amateur athletes, but how could you not want to know your fullest potential? It’s not about achieving some arbitrary level of ability. Every body is different, everyone has different limits. But to never even try to find out what your personal limits are? What a waste that would be.

I like working out because I like getting stronger. I like staying fit so that I can experience everything this world has to offer. After this pandemic fades away and we’re allowed to leave our houses again, if my friends or family want to go on a hike, or ride bikes, or play a game of ball, or explore the black catacombs of the Elder Things beyond the Mountains of Madness where we may all be consumed by feral Shoggoths, I want to be able to join them. I never want to miss out on the opportunity for a new experience or adventure because I spent too much of my free time slowly sinking into my couch cushions watching reruns of The Office. If you can choose between being a fat lard, and being the most capable version of yourself, you’re doing yourself a disservice if you don’t choose the latter.

Also, this Covid-19 Coronavirus hits harder if you’re unhealthy to begin with, so it would be wise to reduce our blood pressure and increase our lung health while we still can, because if you think this is the last global pandemic we’re going to be dealing with as the Earth gets more and more crowded and people continue traveling all over, you’re a silly goose.

Six weeks off of work might not be enough time to turn anybody into world class athletes, but if that time is spent productively by exercising hard and eating right, it absolutely can produce notable, noticeable, and long lasting physical results. We don’t need access to a fancy gym for results either, HIIT videos streamed online and body weight exercises can provide surprising benefits if you devote enough time and effort to them. If we all come out of this quarantine healthier, yoked beyond belief and ready to take on any adventure, I’ll consider this break from employment to be well worth it, economic repercussions be damned. If we come out of it fatter than ever, we might as well let the next virus finish us off, because we’re wasting our time here.

We’re all stuck social distancing in quarantine or self-isolation for the foreseeable future. We might as well use it as an opportunity to work on our projects, create art, and get healthier. The rest of the world will still be waiting for us when we get out the other side.

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Ditch Trump, vote Bernie Sanders

It is hard to be a Trump supporter these days.

In the beginning, sure, voting for Trump seemed to make a lot of sense. Life had been tough for the last several years leading up to the 2016 election, and neither the incompetent Democrats nor your beloved Republican Party had really done anything to help you. So what were you supposed to do? A change was necessary. You needed an outsider. A bad boy. A scrappy underdog who wouldn’t be cowed by all the corrupt billionaires that have spent the last few decades buying the loyalty of our politicians – to the point that the politicians now only protect the interests of those self-same billionaires, corporate lobbyists, and special interest mutli-mega-pacs, while the rest of us normal citizens are left forgotten and ignored. So who better to change up the stagnant political landscape, than another corrupt billionaire? When Trump was elected president, you were no longer ignored and forgotten. Oh no, your message was heard, loud and clear across the world! Greedy, self-serving, uncompassionate, elite, out-of-touch, corrupt politicians may have been ruining this country, but now you had a greedy, self-serving, uncompassionate, elite, out-of-touch, corrupt politician of your very own, so naturally the country was saved. Things would finally be done differently. And oh boy have things been done differently.

For a while, that was enough. The establishment had been shaken, and business as usual was no longer possible. You considered that an undeniable win, even if it was never very clear exactly what Mr. Trump would do to benefit you specifically.

But then, concerns began to surface.

Sure, it’s not completely essential to have an educated, articulate President who speaks in a calm, collected, well-informed manner. But you’ve surely become  at least somewhat uncomfortable with our elected leader’s habit of speaking in rambling, incoherent, coked-out diatribes, and cranking out crackpot tweets riddled with spelling errors and gross inaccuracies while sitting on the shitter at 2am.

And no, of course the President doesn’t need to be kind all of the time, but you couldn’t help but think that making fun of a war hero, or a physically disabled reporter, or bullying a mentally disabled child might not be an appropriate way for the most powerful man in the world to act.

And sure, it’s hard to reconcile the traditional family values your preferred party so loudly promotes with the ugly reality of a misogynistic lecher who has had multiple divorces, received multiple accusations of predatory sexual behavior, and paid hush money to hide an extra-marital affair with a porn star while his wife was pregnant with his child, but nobody is perfect after all.

But then there was also that thing where he stole from and had to pay a $2 million dollar fine to 8 different charities? That definitely was not cool.

And also that thing where he created a fake Real Estate University, and had to pay a $25 million dollar lawsuit to victims of his sham.

Plus, it’s not really cool how he has already spent over 300 years worth of presidential salary playing golf at his Florida resort, where all the rooms he is renting out to his various staff and security are being charged at full price, rooms which are being paid for by the American taxpayer, and profits from which are funneling directly into his own pocket.

Additionally, it is frustrating how he claimed he would “drain the swamp,” but all the career politicians are still firmly entrenched in their cushy elected roles, and the only people being fired, or quitting, and oftentimes going on to be tried and convicted of crimes to an alarming degree, seem to be people he hired to begin with.

Oh, and also, he was impeached. Sure, he was acquitted in his senate trial, but you’re understandably concerned with the fact that the judge of the trial admitted that he would not be impartial before the trial even began, and they blocked all the witnesses from testifying before the senate, and hid evidence, and took almost no time to deliberate before voting exclusively along party lines, except for one devout Republican who considered his oath before God to tell the truth to be more important than the orders he received from his political party to lie, and then, as soon as President Trump was acquitted he illegally retaliated by firing all of the witnesses and openly admitted to doing the very thing he was on trial for, almost as if to gloat about his invulnerability, like a sociopathic serial killer.

So yes, it must be hard to be a Trump supporter these days. You wanted a loose cannon to shake things up on Capital hill, and you got it, but the problem with a loose cannon is it tends to cause destruction all over the place, not just where you’ve pointed it.

There comes a point where it’s just too exhausting to keep up your support for a man that ticks all the boxes necessary to be the villain of a 1980’s coming-of-age teen movie. Privileged Country club jock? Check. Documented coward? Check. Irredeemable bully to anybody weaker or poorer? Check. Problematic views and actions towards women? Check. More concerned with looking good and maintaining his social standing than doing what is right, just, or fair? Definitely check.

So what is a frustrated Trump supporter to do? You’re still disgusted with the established political system. You still want to root for an outsider. A bad boy. A scrappy underdog who won’t be cowed  by all the corrupt billionaires and their purchased politicians. Luckily, there is another option! You can still stick it to the man, without continuing to support a cruel and deranged lunatic constantly mired in scandal.

I submit to you: Bernie Sanders.

I know your initial knee-jerk reaction is OH NO, HE’S A SOCIALIST, and worse he’s a DEMOCRAT, but allow me to explain. First, technically he’s an independent, who just happens to be campaigning in the Democratic primaries. Second, I know that socialism is a dirty word, but we already have plenty of socialist programs in the United States, like Social Security, Medicare, SNAP food stamps and other social welfare programs, and Labor Unions whose efforts earned us the 40 hour work week, and overtime pay, and minimum wage. Without them we’d likely still all be slinging pig shit barefoot in a tannery for 16 hours a day, seven days a week, for six cents an hour and a diet Mr. Pibb. It’s no coincidence that America’s economy was doing the best, and America’s middle class was at it’s strongest when Labor Unions were also at their strongest. And what’s wrong with social welfare nets? Do you really hate the poorest and most vulnerable among us so much that you’d rather not pay the $80 per year that Welfare costs? Surely you agree that $80 is a low price to pay to know that an innocent child might not starve to death because their family is going through a tough situation. Plus I’m sure you’re not going to complain about receiving those Social Security checks and Medicare benefits you collect upon retirement. Besides, we already pay tax-payer funded subsidies to enormously wealthy corporations as bailouts, so why is it okay to use socialist policies on the rich and powerful, but not us regular folk? Maybe a certain limited level of democratic socialism isn’t such a terrible fate after all. Besides, Bernie Sanders is not even exactly a socialist in the traditional sense of the word, he’s not interested in seizing the means of production and abolishing private ownership. He simply wants to adopt some socialist programs that other capitalist countries have successfully implemented, in order to combat inequality and extreme poverty in the United States.

LET ME REITERATE. THE UNITED STATES WILL NEVER BE A SOCIALIST COUNTRY. True authoritarian socialism has never worked, and will never work. Even success stories for full Democratic Socialism are few and far between. The United States is the poster child for democracy and capitalism. We are rich and we are powerful, in no small part due to our successful capitalist innovation and drive. That does not mean that there is not vast room for improvement in the way we support and protect our most vulnerable classes.

SO I’LL SAY IT AGAIN. THE UNITED STATES WILL NEVER BE A SOCIALIST COUNTRY. PURE SOCIALISM DOES NOT WORK. WHAT DOES WORK HOWEVER, ARE ADOPTING SOCIALIST POLICIES INTO A DEMOCRATIC CAPITALIST SOCIETY TO HELP PROTECT THE WORKING CLASS.

This DOES WORK. Countries that have successfully adopted varying levels of socialist policies include Bolivia (which has drastically cut extreme poverty and has the highest GDP growth rate in South America), Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Great Britain, Canada, the Netherlands, Spain, Ireland, Belgium, Switzerland, Australia, Japan, and New Zealand.

When you think about failed socialist states, and poverty stricken hellholes, do any of those countries come to mind? No they do not. All of those beautiful countries, countries whose citizens consistently rank happier than citizens from the United States, succeed in no small part due to the robust social welfare systems they have in place that promote equality and protect their citizens when things go wrong.

So let me repeat yet again – Bernie is not in any way going to remove the ownership of businesses and properties from private hands. What he will do, is continue to fight for the rights of the common working man. You know, men like all of us. And you’ve got to give the old bastard his due, he’s been in this fight his entire life. He’s dedicated his entire career to civil service on behalf of the American people. If that’s not enough to convince you to vote for Bernie, just wait, there’s more!

Look, I know you HATE Democrats. You probably post snappy political memes on Facebook all day that claim Democrats are Stupid, and Un-American, and Lazy, and Greedy, and Brown. But…I’m a Democrat. For those of you who know me personally, is that what you really think of me? When you think of someone who is stupid, or un-American, or lazy, or greedy, or brown, is it really me that pops into your head?  I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that it isn’t. That would be like me thinking you are the stereotypical villainous Republican – Racist, Sexist, Homophobic, Hateful, Cruel, Hypocritical, Uneducated, Misinformed, Greedy, and unempathetic. But here’s the thing, you’re my friends and I know you aren’t those things, even if that’s what the Facebook memes say. So maybe, just maybe, Democrats aren’t the cartoonish super-villains you seem to think they are either.

Even if you can’t be convinced otherwise, and you’re sure that all Democrats, including me, are evil traitors, you should still consider voting for Bernie Sanders, because you see, the Do Nothing Democrats hate him too. You know the old saying – the enemy of my enemy is my friend. The Establishment Democrats, just like the Establishment Republicans, are all bought and paid for by those rascally billionaires, corporations, and pacs. Except for Bernie. Bernie Sanders, unlike the mainstream Democrats, and unlike Mr. Trump, refuses to accept money from billionaires and special interest groups, and is running his entire grassroots campaign entirely off of small donations from regular American citizens. That means if he gets elected, he’ll continue to fight for our best interests because he won’t have been bribed to act otherwise. Because of this, the DNC is really scrambling to stomp out his message, but despite their best efforts, his support keeps growing and growing. So while the DNC would love to see one of their billionaire-butt-licking puppet stooges like Buttigieg, Warren, or Biden take the reins, and their fake news network spin doctors are doing their best to suppress or explain away Sanders’ popularity, Bernie’s star keeps rising because he, like Trump, represents the normal, real American people’s frustration with the current corrupted system. In most cases, the narrative manipulation by the fake news media isn’t even subtle, it’s blatantly obvious, like this recent article with the headline AI picks Buttigieg ‘the candidate to beat Trump’, where if you actually look past the headline at the actual forecast, Buttigieg is actually in a distant second place with 17.9 percent, while Bernie wins handily with 24.9 percent. Saying the AI picked Buttigieg is a blatant lie.

The #Bernieblackout is real folks, here’s another example of mainstream media simply ignoring Bernie’s surging popularity, and refusing to mention his name even though he won the New Hampshire primary:

berniefirst

As a Trump supporter, you know all about the frustrating spin created by the fake news media. So I’m sure you can empathize with Bernie Sanders and his supporters, who are getting shut out and silenced, bigly. (Be careful though, the left leaning news outlets are not alone in spreading misinformation and fake news. In fact, a rigorous study conducted by Fairleigh University found that watching Fox news actually made you less informed than watching No News At All. So if you’re relying exclusively on Fox for your news…don’t. It turns out it’s the fakest news of all.)

Beyond the cathartic knowledge that voting for Bernie Sanders will be thumbing your nose at the DNC elites and the fake news media, there are actual, tangible benefits to supporting our favorite grumpy old Jew from Vermont.

Let’s talk about the economy. Trump is the first to toot his own horn when it comes to, well, anything, but especially the “economy”, specifically how well the stock market is doing, and how low the unemployment rate is. But what does that really mean for us normal people? The truth is, it doesn’t mean much. A booming stock market benefits…people with stocks, and that for the most part means wealthy people. So while the stock market soars, and the rich get richer, those of us who need to work for a paycheck, and then spend our paychecks on things like food and shelter, and can’t afford to invest heavily, are left falling further and further behind. Without regulation, a capitalist system is all about maximizing profit. This usually comes at the expense of us normal wage earners. Don’t forget, slavery is capitalist. Child-labor is capitalist. Unchecked Capitalism can be just as dangerous as unchecked communism, or fascism, or socialism. Always remember, while business owners enjoy increased dividends on their stock options, their increased profits oftentimes actually come from demanding more and more from their workers, and giving them less and less. In a perfect system, companies would provide great benefits and pay strong wages to their workers, since all their profit is built off of the efforts of their work force, and they want to take care of their people. In the real world however, what is actually happening is unmitigated greed is causing companies to pay their workers less than a living wage, while demanding ever increasing levels of productivity, while those at the top get richer and richer in a single-minded hunger for more profits.

US-household-income-by-income-level-2017

Look at this census data. It shows how income has remained stagnant for all levels of earners for over fifty years, except the rich. They’re doing just fine. Thanks to President Trump’s tax breaks for the rich, the very people who need the tax breaks the least are making even more money than ever before, while those of us who would benefit the most from a break are once again forgotten, so not only has our national debt skyrocketed, but the income inequality level has grown ever wider.

Take the company I work for, for example. It’s a great company, and I like working there. It’s also a fairly big company, with 16,400 employees. Last year, the top-five highest paid members of the board of directors made over 34,000,000 dollars. Between the five of them, they could have given an additional $2,000 to every single one of their sixteen thousand four hundred employees, and still walked away with an entirely respectable wage of $240,000 each, more than enough to support a family in comfort and style. These top five board members did not express their gratitude toward their hard working employees with $2000 bonus checks however. Instead, they notified us that they won’t be giving out raises this year, and we might be in danger of downsizing to cut expenses. They made 34 million dollars, could stop working tomorrow and still live their entire remaining lives in obscene luxury, and they’re threatening to lay off people barely making 34 thousand dollars a year. And this is from a great company that for the most part takes care of its workers, not even a dystopian hellhole like Walmart or Amazon where the lowest earners rely on government welfare to survive while their owners are literally the richest human beings that have ever existed throughout all time. But hey, at least the stock market is up, right?

Added on top of this gross income inequality, we have skyrocketing costs of living. Trump is so very proud of the low unemployment rate, and even ignoring the fact that the economy was already rebounding strongly long before he ever entered office, and he personally isn’t responsible for the low unemployment numbers at all, the sad fact of the matter is that being employed does not mean you aren’t living in poverty. Take a look at this graphic –

MSPUS

From the 1960s to today, you can see the steady climb in median home price in the United States, a reasonable indicator for overall cost of living. Now remember that previous graphic I posted earlier, that shows income remaining steady and in some places going down from the 1960s until today? Yeah, you can see the issue. Everything is getting more and more expensive, but we are not getting paid more. So what gives?

Bernie Sanders has made it a campaign promise to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. In 1965 it was $1.25, or $10.30 in today equivalent dollars. So from 1965 until now the minimum wage has actually gone down, while cost of living has, as can clearly be seen, gone up, up, up. During that time, GDP, profits, and income for the top few percent has also gone up, up, up, so it’s not like the money isn’t there to support a higher minimum wage, it’s just ending up in fewer and fewer pockets, where it does the least good.

Bernie believes, and I wholeheartedly agree, that if you work full time, you should be able to support yourself. The minimum wage should actually reflect the lowest amount needed to legitimately survive. If you’re getting paid less than that, your employer is saying that the value of your labor is so low, that you don’t even deserve to live. That is wrong. If your argument against raising the minimum wage is that you currently make $15 an hour doing something higher skilled than what traditional minimum wage employment looks like…you’re an idiot. Or cruel. Instead of saying, hey, I deserve to be compensated higher for my skilled labor, which is true, you do, you’re saying hey, I don’t care if someone else’s income won’t allow them to live a dignified, successful life, as long as I’m doing better than them, which is wrong. Here’s the thing! You BOTH deserve to be compensated higher for your labor. If minimum wage is $15/hr, and you currently make $15/hr doing some sort of highly skilled job, YOUR INCOME WILL BE RAISED HIGHER TOO. Do you know why? Because you’ll have leverage. If you can make the same income doing something easier, then if your employer doesn’t raise your wage to an appropriate level, you can just leave. Go do the easier job for the same amount of money! You won’t be any worse off, and your employer will still have to fill that harder, more skilled position, something they won’t be able to do without paying at the higher rate it deserves. Since that is the case, it makes financial sense for them to keep you, a trained, proven employee, and pay you that higher rate you’ve earned. Once we have that freedom to leave and still make a living if we are not compensated fairly at our skilled job, we suddenly have the bargaining power again, and we will be able to start closing the ever expanding income inequality gap. Remember, the money is there. Typical CEO compensation has grown 940% since 1978, while typical worker compensation has only grown 12%. Why is their labor so much more valuable than ours? If a millionaire gets an extra million dollars,  or a billionaire gets an extra billion dollars, does it really improve their quality of life? No, it does not. It’s just numbers on a ledger at that point. It’s doesn’t really add to the economy. But for someone making $30,000, a few extra thousand dollars a year would absolutely be life changing. That might mean the difference between renting and buying a home. It might mean the difference between taking the bus or buying a car. It might mean the difference between remaining child-free or having a child. What do you think is better for the economy? Hundreds of thousands of people in a resurgent middle class building houses and buying cars and having children, or a few wealthy billionaires hoarding more cash away in some Cayman Island tax haven account?

An increased minimum wage isn’t the only thing that would benefit us normal struggling folk. Bernie Sanders is dedicated to not only increasing our income, but also reducing our expenses. Like I mentioned before, cost of living has gone up steadily since the 1960s, while income has remained steady. In almost no way is that more apparent than the increased costs of education.

market-watch-chart

 

The above chart paints a stark picture of the problem. College just keeps getting more and more expensive, while we keep getting less and less capable of paying for it. Bernie Sanders is committed to changing the way our public college and universities do business. A change is needed, because unfortunately higher education is already out of reach for most normal people, at a time when the changing and ever more competitive job market makes those higher education degrees all the more necessary. Gone are the days when a blue collar laborer can hop onto an assembly line at a manufacturing plant and make a comfortable living. Skilled blue collar jobs can’t be the answer for everybody either. Not everybody can go to a trade school and get a high paying job as a welder, or plumber, or electrician. There simply aren’t enough of those jobs available. Most of the jobs which are available are “degree preferred” or “degree required,” even if they’re bullshit, low-paying, basically menial jobs that don’t really even require a degree in practice, since that’s just the way the job market is these days, so most of us have to get college educations in order to support ourselves. So before you make fun of the young people who support Bernie’s student loan forgiveness idea, try to walk a mile in their shoes. I’ll give you an example. It’s me. I’m the example.

I went to a modest public State University, worked hard for four years, and got a useful bachelors degree which eventually helped me find the decent job I have today. I do not have student loans. The only reason I was able to do that was because my father was killed violently while working, and I received compensation to pay for school. My wife, the mighty Wife Kay, also went to that same modest public State University, and received her bachelors degree, and actually makes more than me at her current job. Unfortunately, since she did not have the good fortune of having a parent die messily, and since her inconveniently still alive parents were not in a place financially where they could gift her tens of thousands of dollars, she had to take out student loans to pay for her education. We graduated 12 years ago. She is still paying off those loans, and the interest is so high that most of the principle remains untouched. So for well over a decade, she has been working hard, usually at multiple jobs, over 60 hours a week, and has been paying enough money every single month to cover the mortgage for a decent home toward these loans, and we still have tens of thousands of dollars remaining in debt. That is disgusting. She is the exact opposite of lazy or greedy, and she’s been nearly drowning for over 12 years. Think about if I had loans too. Our lives would be completely different. We would never have been able to purchase our house. We wouldn’t even be close to thinking about having children. We’d be in a position where we’d just be making interest payments on the costs incurred for a pair of bachelor degrees at a modest public university from now until the end of time, and our lives would never really get anywhere. Now imagine if neither of us had student loans. Our lives would be completely different again, this time for the better. We could have bought our house ten years earlier, instead of renting with multiple roommates into our thirties. We could have significant amounts of money saved toward retirement. We could have pumped money into the economy with various additional purchases. We could have had children already. So think about that reality the next time you hear about ideas like Student loan forgiveness. Instead of immediately assuming young people are just lazy and greedy and don’t want to pay their debts, recognize that their lives are actually being ruined, and they sincerely need help. People used to be able to work part time 4 hours a day at minimum wage and pay cash for public college. Now you’d need to work over 20 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year at minimum wage to pay cash for public college. Private colleges are even more expensive. It’s simply impossible to work your way through school without the type of high paying job you can’t expect to obtain without already having degree, so that means for those of us without rich parents, loans have become essential, because the current employment landscape makes college degrees essential. So for the sake of our future students, something needs to change regarding the cost of higher education, and for those recent students whose lives are literally being ruined by their educational loan debt, student loan forgiveness may, without hyperbole, be the only chance they have to ever have a successful, comfortable life where they can pump their income back into the economy, and create growth, instead of just losing it all making interest payments on insurmountable debt.

The third, and to me, the most important thing Bernie Sanders is focused on, is health care. Single-payer healthcare. Universal healthcare. Nationalized medicine. Socialized medicine. Medicare for all. Whatever you want to call it, it, more than anything else, is absolutely essential right now. The truth of the matter is that America’s healthcare system is so broken, that people are dying from preventable illnesses and fixable injuries simply because they can’t afford to fix them, even though we live in the richest, most prosperous, most powerful nation that has ever existed. If you know me, or if you follow this website, you know that one of my closest friends is currently fighting stage IV colon cancer, so this shit is personal for me. She is a young, hard working, otherwise healthy woman, with “good” health insurance, and her treatments are still costing her tens of thousands of dollars out of pocket. Not only does she have to focus on not dying from the cancer, she also has to focus on figuring out if she’ll still have a job after her treatment is complete, and how to pay her bills while she is in treatment. Our current system is barbaric, and most upsettingly, it’s not even necessary. Universal healthcare isn’t some crackpot’s pipe dream. Out of 34 developed nations, 33 have figured it out. The USA is the only one still languishing in the dark ages of for profit medicine. I know most people’s arguments against socialized healthcare, or really any social programs, is cost. They don’t want to pay an extra six cents a year so that tiny Tim Cratchit can get a new crutch and some cough syrup, and live to see another Christmas. But the cost projections pretty definitively show that Medicare for all would actually cost us LESS. Right now we all pay out of pocket for care, or for various private, for profit health insurances. If we had Medicare for all, some more money would be taken out of our paychecks for taxes, yes, BUT we would no longer pay all the money that is taken out of our paychecks for our current health insurance, so the net amount paid out would actually be less. On top of that, a single payer system would actually make the cost of medicine go down EXPONENTIALLY. Our current system is the wild west, an uncontrolled gold rush of profiteering and extortion. Take insulin for example. It’s creator sold the patent for $1, because it was meant to help people. It costs about $5 to create a vial of this live-saving and entirely necessary medication. In the USA, even though it only costs $5 to make, an insulin vial costs us over $500 to receive. That’s a profit margin of nearly 10,000%. That is unquestionably criminal. And it’s not just insulin, these types of price gouging activities are rampant throughout the entire healthcare industry, even for something as simple as say, a cough drop. A regular old cough drop, the type you can buy a bag of at any drug store, costs about $.03 retail. In a hospital, a single cough drop costs $10. Ten dollars for a cough drop. That’s an increase of over THIRTY THREE THOUSAND PERCENT. A single payer healthcare system, which would make the government the sole customer for these various drug manufacturers and healthcare companies helps reduce these criminally inflated healthcare prices by giving us bargaining power. If the government is your sole buyer, you can’t overcharge your one customer, because if you do, they’ll just take their business elsewhere, thus forcing prices to remain competitive.

Another argument people like to make against socialized healthcare is that it forces you to pay into healthcare, even if you do not personally use it, thus taking away your “freedom” to choose whether or not you would like to be covered. Besides being needlessly obtuse, because paying into such a system would likely actually save you money, I argue that you are mistaken. I think it would actually increase our freedom. In our current system, many people are trapped in horrible, underpaying, unfulfilling jobs that they hate, simply because they are afraid to lose their medical benefits. With Medicare For All, you would now have the freedom to leave that terrible job and find something better, because you have the security of knowing that you won’t lose access to healthcare. It will also give us the freedom from being ruined by medical debt. Freedom from bankruptcy and ruined lives just because you slip and break your leg on a patch of ice, or wake up one day with a tumor the size of a cantaloupe protruding from your forehead.

I believe that the cost of such a system would actually be less than healthcare is now. This is based on the fact that person for person, healthcare in the US actually costs about twice as much as it does in the rest of the developed world. If we were getting twice as good care, then maybe that would almost make sense, but we’re not. We’re actually getting worse care. So why are we fighting this?

I know that Republican rhetoric points to individual freedoms as being more important than lumbering government oversight, and I agree wholeheartedly. The problem is, we currently aren’t really even enjoying all that many individual freedoms. We’re instead being taken advantage of by a rigged economy designed to benefit the tiny top richest percent, while the great majority of us are forced to sell our labor for far less than it is worth, pay outrageous prices for the education essential to improve our lot in life, and risk losing it all to a criminally greedy healthcare system if even the slightest thing goes wrong. Social systems cost money, and if Mr. Sanders gets his way and gets all the various protections and coverages he desires, costs would be higher, but there is a relatively untapped resource of nearly immeasurable wealth being wasted by the super rich. It used to be that the richest among us would be taxed at about 70%, which is a large percentage of their income sure, but when your income is that high, the actual impact on your financial well-being is much less noticeable than a person with a normal income being taxed at 30%. Since the rich would be the least impacted by an increased tax rate, I have no problem with our government bumping their tax rate back up to a higher level. I say this even as I hope to one day become one of those rich people myself. If I’m obscenely wealthy and funds I’m not even using because I simply don’t need them are spent on feeding a starving child, or repairing crumbling infrastructure, or paying for a sick young woman’s cancer treatment, I’m okay with that.

President Trump is a very “Me” focused individual. Everything is about him. When things are going well, according to him it’s because of him. When things are going poorly, it’s everybody else’s fault. Mr. Trump’s tagline when he campaigned in 2016 was “I alone can fix America.” Really, Mr. Trump? We didn’t need a King in 1776, and we don’t need one now. You’re either vastly over-confident in your own abilities, or vastly under-estimating the quality of ours. America doesn’t need four more years of such a self-centered individual.

Appropriately, Bernie Sanders’ tagline is – “Not me. Us.”

The main stream media will do everything in its power to obfuscate and conceal Bernie Sanders’ message. So take some time, and look him up yourself. I think you might find what he has to say makes a lot of sense. If you were a Trump supporter, but you’re having second thoughts, I think Bernie might be your man. If you’re a Democrat already, multiple polls pretty clearly show that Bernie has the best change of beating Trump in the general election, so don’t let the DNC shoot themselves in the foot again by promoting another unpopular candidate over Bernie just because he’s not a corporate stooge who will blindly toe the party line.

Everybody, regardless of political affiliation should remember that all of our politicians are elected representatives. Their entire reason for existence is to represent US. If they’re not doing that, if they’re taking the role to gain wealth, power, and recognition for themselves, they’re shitting on everything their positions stand for. That includes whoever is in the presidency. That’s why I believe Bernie, with his long career dedicated to fighting for the common man, is our best choice for the next President of the United States.

FTB

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