dinsdag 21 augustus 2018

A Free Market Fantasy

(Some) Americans, especially those of the baby boomer generation, seem to have this strange idea that the government is always the source of all problems, any form of government regulation is always bad, and if everything was in private hands, without any central authority overseeing it, life would be wonderful. Such society, I am told, exists in countries like Somalia, but conservatives don't haste to move over there, but prefer to stay in the first-world countries, governed by strong central authorities, instead of local warlords.

This mentality ties down nicely with "rugged individualism" I mentioned last week. Ultimately, that's the reason why the conservatives have been losing one battle after another. The recent one is that of freedom of expression on the internet. Internet was built with the US taxpayers money and the tech companies get government subsidies, yet when someone gets censored, too many conservatives jump to defend this violation of freedom of speech saying that "private companies should be allowed to do what they want."

Seriously? Should a telephone company be able to cut off your mobile for posting wrongthink on your blog? Energy company cutting off your heat supply in the middle of the winter for wrong tweets? Where does it end, really? Folks were told that if they didn't like it, they should build their own platforms. They went and did, and now these platforms, like BitChute, are being demonetised.

An interesting thing is that populist parties in Europe often combine hard-line positions on immigration or social issues with somewhat socialist views on economics. I remember reading C.S. Lewis once (I think it was in Mere Christianity) where he wrote that an ideal Christian society would have a combination of rigid medieval hierarchy with more socialist economic policies.

Now modern welfare state has its own problems, partly because it often rewards anti-social behaviours. I'll give you an example. In the 1930s and earlier, in my country, if a woman got a child out of wedlock, he would be put into an institution and while the government paid most of the expenses, she had to work, too, and to contribute to her child's upkeep and education. If she married, the duty would be her husband's, and he had to pay more, since men's salaries were higher.

The child didn't starve and got a decent education, but the mother didn't profit by it, either. In the 19th century, in many countries, an unwed mother would get nothing at all and was often reduced to poverty and prostitution. Again, she hardly profited by what she had done. Yet, she was free to do it because no law forbade sex outside marriage. It was a libertarian paradise, with the government staying totally out of the situation. Not forcing mother to do anything. But she had to pay her own bills.

Nowadays we have libertarian morals with pre-war government subsidies. It obviously doesn't work as intended, but let's be honest, few modern people would want to go back to little children starving in the streets or slaving in the factories because of the sins of their parents. Thus, a libertarian solution is an utopian one which won't work in this time and age.

I'm always amused at how common folks in America, often living paycheck-to-paycheck and in debt, were persuaded that conservatism is all about tax cuts for the rich and similar stuff. Conservatism should be about conserving traditional societies, not deregulating banks and making fat cats fatter. Any policy which makes life better for traditional, decent folks is conservative. How many mothers would be encouraged to stay home if they didn't have to pay exorbitant amounts of money for things like health care coverage and were guaranteed a widow pension if the husband died?

Another example has to do with marriage. Do you still remember the slogan of the recent years: "let the government stay out of marriage". Lets take it to the logical end. The government stays completely out of marriage. Private parties are allowed to make their own contracts. Then one of the parties breaks it. What happens next? Who is going to enforce the terms of this contract? The duped individual? By which means? Or maybe, his or her family? What will be the end result of it? Clan warfare? Again, the libertarian solution is purely utopian in nature.

The funny thing is, that the (US) government already regulates things like health care. You usually don't buy "care", you buy insurance, from an insurance company. Plus, there are legions of subsidies and rules of all sorts involved. Thus, those who opt to have no insurance, will often use ER which is for free, but someone will have to foot the bill in the end. I'm not saying that something like NHS is so much better, but the topic of what works best should be at least, open to discussion. It's not as black-and-white as some would like it to be.

If something doesn't work as intended, and even produces the opposite result, it's time to re-think your options.

vrijdag 17 augustus 2018

Is Your Child's Food Safe?

I guess many of my readers are aware of the controversy surrounding glyphosate, a component of a widely used weed-killer. A man was recently awarded nearly 300 million dollars as the court sided with his arguments that his terminal cancer  had been caused by it.

The latest news is that apparently, glyphosate is present in breakfast cereals and other products marketed for little kids, and not in negligible amounts, either:

Concern over glyphosate has continued to grow in the United States in recent years.  Although the chemical may be safe in some amounts to spray on weeds if certain safety precautions are taken, it is probably a lot more dangerous if it’s ingested by a child. Most disturbing, however, is the fact that thirty-one out of 45 tested products had levels of glyphosate that were higher than what many scientists consider safe for children...

We’re very concerned that consumers are eating more glyphosate than they know,said Scott Faber, vice president of government affairs at EWG, according to CBS News. Faber has been working to improve food safety standards for more than a decade. He said he and his team at EWG conducted the study which included a lab test involving “45 samples of products made with conventionally grown oats.” The researchers found glyphosate, which is the active ingredient in the Monsanto weed-killer Roundup, in all but two of the products.

Read the whole story over here.

maandag 13 augustus 2018

"Rugged Individualism" Was A Myth

People are meant to live in communities. Not those shaped by some social engineering policy, but the ones which arise organically and consist of your kith and kin. Being a member of society carries with itself not only rights, but also duties. I'm glad more and more people start understanding it:

Why the Right fails

vrijdag 10 augustus 2018

Housekeeping Resources

One of the most famous and comprehensive ones is FlyLady. It tells you precisely what to do and when to do it (and how long) and in general, reads like something out of the 1950s (or, at least, 1970s). Though I have little doubt that some "working women" use it as well, it has nothing about "going out to work" in its daily routines.

I wonder, do any of my readers use it?

P.S. We are going away tonight till Sunday, to try out our tent. I'll be online, but "less". Have a great weekend!

woensdag 8 augustus 2018

How To Survive A Heat Wave

Personal experience! (Is it finally over now???)

(This is the result of waiting for a friend yesterday morning. Not that bad, the neighbour's children liked it:)

So yesterday was like +34*C. One thing which helps is an airco:) I strongly suggest to my Euro readers to invest in a portable air conditioner. They aren't that expensive any more and in this manner you'll be able to keep at least one room in your house relatively cool. They aren't as powerful as split systems, but then they use less electricity. It's about 1.3 kwh, I think. Still a lot for over here, but they do make life easier when it's hot. Going to the seaside helps, too!

( Yes, that's my husband in the picture:)

Don't forget to drink a lot, but no sugary drinks:) I just made normal tea and let it cool off. Put lemon into everything and you can always add ice cubes. As for food, remember that nearly anything can be turned into a salad. Pasta salad, rice salad, potato salad. I boiled some potatoes unpeeled and used a dressing made of vinegar, olive oil, mustard, salt and pepper. Sometimes I added sour cream, and of course, herbs of your taste. I find that dill weed and scallions work best.

Water melon makes a wonderful dessert. We also ate ice cream (of course!) and lots of plain yogurt sweetened with raw honey. It's a treat! We also bbq-d and ate out.

(Looks like Spain, doesn't it? We seldom get skies so blue. However, I'm happy to say it looks like the Netherlands again, grey and windy, at least, where I am).

I tried to do most of housework and shopping (and entertaining) before midday.. Most of the time I kept the airco in a ventilator mode, to save energy, but I discovered that pouring water down your neck and wetting your arms and face works. I also discovered, I don't really appreciate southern climate all that much:)

How do you cope with heat? Feel free to share!!!

zondag 5 augustus 2018

Lifestyle: Traditional Vs Bugman

It's still quite warm over here. We usually get a couple of cooler days, than the heat comes back. It's two more days, they say, and then it's over. Housekeeping is necessarily reduced to the basics, while summer entertainment occupies evenings and weekends.

When the temperatures climb up, the only thing left to do is sit outside and read or draw. I'm still trying to learn a two-point perspective and re-reading Miss Silver novels. I've come across an interesting passage which I have to paraphrase since the book is in Dutch. The main character returns back to the village he grew up in.

East or west, home is best. No place can compare to the one where you first became aware of your surroundings, where you knew every tree, every house, every man, woman or child, and where you could look around with the knowledge of the fact that for three hundred years men of your own flesh and blood were leaving their impact on the environment to make it what it is now.

 (The watersplash/De Lankmoedige Erfgenaam, Poema Pocket 2000 pp.45-46).

Flesh and blood matter. Your family matters. People aren't interchangeable consumer units which can be transferred at will from one place or country to another. They make their surroundings into what they are.  Having roots is important. It's a pity so few realise it nowadays...