Category Archives: Health & Politics

Free Money?

Economics
In economics, TANSTAAFL demonstrates opportunity cost. Greg Mankiw described the concept as follows: “To get one thing that we like, we usually have to give up another thing that we like. Making decisions requires trading off one goal against another.”[17] The idea that there is no free lunch at the societal level applies only when all resources are being used completely and appropriately – i.e., when economic efficiency prevails. If not, a ‘free lunch’ can be had through a more efficient utilization of resources. Or, as Fred Brooks put it, “You can only get something for nothing if you have previously gotten nothing for something.” If one individual or group gets something at no cost, somebody else ends up paying for it. If there appears to be no direct cost to any single individual, there is a social cost. Similarly, someone can benefit for “free” from an externality or from a public good, but someone has to pay the cost of producing these benefits.

I had an interesting talk with a charming young lady today. She is the wife of our gardener. They are both in their late 20s. Somehow the subject of collecting social security came up, and the fact that I would be able to collect mine next year. She said “oh nice, free money.” I was kind of shocked and informed her that there is no such thing as “free money.” I worked for FORTY YEARS and paid into my social security during these decades of drudgery intermingled with interesting jobs.

It made me wonder. Do young people think oldsters are getting a ride on “free money” from social security? Do they understand how the social security system works? Maybe not. I don’t really understand it myself. All I know is that I am entitled to it. Yeah I know, the dreaded “entitled” word. However… there is a huge difference between “I’m entitled to this because I paid for it” and “I’m entitled to this because I exist on this planet and I have decided that I should have everything free.”

I remember my grandmother used to say to me “there is no such thing as a free lunch.” And there really isn’t. Everything costs something. Time, effort, money, materials, thought, preparation and on and on. For example: you may say air is free. But you still have to do something, yeah breathe. The air isn’t just going to float into your lungs with no effort on your part.

So I am interested and concerned at the same time. I keep hearing the term “democratic socialism.” What does that even mean? Socialism has been tried over and over again, in many countries. If we can learn anything from history is that it doesn’t work. Human nature drives us to explore, try to improve ourselves, make money. (yea I know another evil word ‘money.”) And we expect a result.

I only truly know myself, and just barely. What I do know is that I expect some outcome or benefit from my efforts and adventures. If I work at a job I expect to get paid. If I work on an art project, I expect to end up with a painting. I would not appreciate the government stepping in and confiscating the fruits of my efforts. “Well we want 30% of your paintings, and we decide who gets to have them.” We want 30% of your salary and you have NO say in what we are going to do with it or who we give it to.”

I’m just basically confused. Where do people think money comes from? It doesn’t grow on trees. It comes from the sweat of someone’s brow. All these people proudly cruising around in electric cars…..where do they think electricity comes from? Electricity comes from power plants that use … yes…take a deep breath…fossil fuels.

I am at the end of my rather rambling rant. It’s good to be back to my blog. I’ve really missed it. Love to all and peace on earth.

Discussing Politics Makes Me Rip Out My Hair

Tweedle Dee

Tweedledum and Tweedledee
Agreed to have a battle;
For Tweedledum said Tweedledee
Had spoiled his nice new rattle.
Alice in Wonderland

Ever find yourself embroiled in a political discussion that has morphed into a battle? Now  your morals, intelligence, and even your right to exist on the face of the earth are called into question.

The last few days I’ve been attempting this fruitless activity on Facebook. First with my ex-husband and then with my son. Once again I remember why I hate Facebook and question my sanity for attempting to have a public discussion about anything more emotionally charged than which way the wind blows.

No I take that back. I say the wind is coming out of the east someone will attempt to rip my head off and say “the wind used to blow from the west and this means you don’t care about global warming. Therefore you probably put your cat in the microwave on a regular basis, and when you’re not doing that you spit on homeless people.” Say what? I give up. I usually end up thinking “I know you are trying to make a point, but I can’t for the life of me figure out what it is.”

First my Ex fires a shot across the bow when I commented about how I don’t like how our government spends our tax dollars. “I think we should tax the rich until they bleed.” Oh come on. That’s a rather violent response, don’tcha think? This is coming from a man who used to work for the Internal Revenue Service and knows first-hand how convoluted and crooked the whole tax system is. At this point I murmur to myself, “Now I remember why I divorced your ass.”

Next comes my son. He was raised by his dad. His comments left me wondering “what the hell did your father read for a bedtime story? The Communist Manifesto?” He actually said something to the effect of “I don’t like how the government is spending our money, but I think there should be more taxes.”

I just don’t get it. I feel a migraine coming on. I must refrain from such useless and frustrating attempts to talk about politics. But dammit, sometimes I just can’t help myself. I have a brain and sometimes I like to use it.

 

Is the Desire for War a Form of Collective Mental Illness?

And it’s one, two, three,
What are we fighting for?
Don’t ask me, I don’t give a damn,
Next stop is Vietnam;
And it’s five, six, seven,
Open up the pearly gates,
Well there ain’t no time to wonder why,
Whoopee! we’re all gonna die.
Lyrics – Country Joe and the Fish

I went to see that movie American Sniper last night. It was a rather sobering experience. But how much more sober can you get than stone cold? Who knows? If you haven’t heard about this movie it’s based on the biography of Chris Kyle, a sniper who did 4 tours in Iraq. He is known as the most lethal sniper in American History with 160 confirmed kills. He made it home alive and was murdered by a troubled veteran he was trying to help.

I’m not even going to go into the nasty debate about whether he was a hero or a coward. My opinion is that he was a soldier doing what he thought was the right thing to do to protect his family and country. He didn’t start the war – he just did what he had to do.

That being said, I’ve been pondering the whole war conundrum. I laid awake much of last night thinking about it. In a way we treat our returning warriors the same way we treat people with mental illness. We sweep it under the rug and pretend the problem doesn’t exist.

Those caught up in the war machine seem have the same mental kinks as people who are mentally ill and/or have mental illness or substance abuse problems. “Oh this is just affecting us, no one else has to deal with it, and we’re handling it just fine.” Hogwash!

As I look back over my life I can see that war has tainted my entire life. I was in my mid-teens when the Vietnam War was going on. I faced the fear that if it continued for a few more years that my brothers would have to go. I was the oldest in my family and female, but my girlfriends had older brothers that were sent off to Vietnam. They came home in a box. One of those brothers was the first boy I ever kissed. He kissed me the night before he went off to boot camp.

During that era teenage trouble making was a death sentence if you were boy from a blue collar family. The judge gave them a choice “jail or Vietnam.” Stupid boys chose Nam. I would have much rather they went to jail, but I was a 14 year old girl, my say didn’t matter much then. It probably doesn’t matter much more now. I just have a wider audience.

After my girlfriends lost their brothers, we three musketeers decided to wear black arm bands to school. We got in all kinds of trouble for it. Being teen aged innocents we didn’t know we were protesting, we just knew that our guys died and we were sad and very angry. We had to stay after school for detention every day that we wore those arm bands. Funny thing was no one ever tried to confiscate them. If this happened in the present they probably would have them confiscated. Can’t wear or carry anything to school that might offend someone nowadays. I don’t remember how long we wore them and when we stopped either. How odd. We drifted apart, life goes on I guess.

Fast forward to when I was 18 years old. I fell in love with a Vietnam vet who was one of those who made it home in body but not in mind. My mother hated him and knew he was trouble. She finally told me to not talk to her until I was finished with him. She was right in a way. He was trouble because he was troubled. When we walked down the street he was constantly scanning and looking around at trees, roof tops, alleyways. I thought he was just unusually alert. What did I know about soldiers and PTSD? My dead friends don’t talk about that. 6 months later he committed suicide by cop. Meaning they tried to arrest him, he said “you’re not taking me alive” and boom he’s dead.

So at the tender age of 14 I learned that I was not invincible. People die because of other people’s decisions, shit happens. Should children have to learn that? I don’t know but there are children all over the world in war zones learning this every day. Are we better for it? I don’t think so. But that’s just my opinion among billions of others.

The Seven Stages of Pissed Off

The five stages – denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance – are a part of the framework that makes up our learning to live with the one we lost. They are tools to help us frame and identify what we may be feeling. But they are not stops on some linear timeline in grief.  Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

All the death gurus I’ve read or heard quoted claim there are stages of grief. I have to say that at the moment I’m in the white hot lava mountain of rage otherwise known as anger.

It’ kind of hard to deal with because at the moment I’m angry with my family and everyone else I’ve even known who puts themselves in harm’s way to the sorrow and fear of their loved ones and friends.

I’m angry with my grandson for choosing to live a sad and dangerous life; choices that left his 26 year old beaten, drugged up, frozen dead body on the ground in a train station in Boston. Those of us left behind to mourn him are left holding the bag. I’m pissed off because it seems like he got off easy. He doesn’t have to face each day knowing that he’s gone forever. He’s not left with a life time of “what ifs.”

I’m angry at those members of my family who still abuse drugs and alcohol and live on the razors edge of death in a myriad of ways because of their actions. Who will I have to bury next?

I’m angry at family and friends who suffer from an assortment of mental illness and refuse to seek or maintain treatment. I’ve been told by a number of them that well “I’m not hurting anyone but myself.” Excuse me but that is total unadulterated bullshit. Hello but you are torturing those who love you.

Having substance abusing, and or mentally ill friends and relatives is like having a stalker. The situation grinds on relentlessly for years and then decades. Your heart jumps into your throat every time the phone rings. “What  is it THIS time?” Are they in the hospital? Are they in jail? Are they missing…again. Are they dead?

It’s a slow kind of torture that never ends. You can’t do anything about it. Maybe having an actual stalker would be easier to deal with. You can report them to the police. You can take out a restraining order. You can go incognito. If all else fails, you can move to another city or country to get away from it.

But you can’t get away from substance abuse or untreated mental illness. You can hope, you can pray, you can go into denial and refuse to answer the phone, but you can never get away from it.

To anyone who thinks that their self destructive behavior is their business and not anyone else’s….I would like to brain you with an iron frying pan and then lock you in a closet for a year or three. You ARE hurting the people who love you.

A Thief in the Night

For you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 1 Thessalonians 5:2 New International Version

Beloved Christopher, Rest in Peace

My dear readers, the thief in the night came quicker than I thought. My darling grandson, Christopher age 26, was found dead at 5:30 am Saturday morning. My heart is broken at the loss of a sweet but troubled young man. When he first started talking he named me “Grandma Vick.” I was happy with that, because he had another grandma so that was his way of telling us apart.

What is even worse than this loss is the grief I feel for my daughter, my own baby, who has lost her beautiful son, her baby boy. I was with her when he was born, and love the both of them so much it hurts.

Christopher was a young man with a big chip on his shoulder. His father died young from either a suicide of drug overdose. He has suffered for years with mental illness, and drug addiction. Recently he was living in a homeless shelter for veterans. From what I can gather so far, he got in an argument with someone in the shelter and was either kicked out or left. He stormed off and went into a train station. Boston’s temperature lately has been in the low 30’s lately. He probably feel asleep or passed out from drugs or alcohol and succumbed to that and hypothermia.

So today I’m in Boston to be with my daughter to offer any support I can give her. We need to make arrangements to lay Christopher to rest. I’ve had a lot of trouble and arguments with my daughter, but there is no way that I could live with myself if I did not come to her side in this most painful time that any parent will ever experience, the loss of a child.

All I can ask of you is please pray for Christopher, his mother and family in our time of sorrow.

Thank you for listening.

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