Liberty and the 10 Cannots

Perhaps more than ever, we have liberty and freedom on our minds. Between the economy, current events and burgeoning political movements it’s hard to know what to believe and what direction to go in. Although, the following strikes my fancy. It certainly is food for thought.

The Ten Cannots by William John Henry Boetcker (1873 – 1962)

An outspoken political conservative, Rev. Boetcker is perhaps best remembered for his authorship of a pamphlet entitled The Ten Cannots. Originally published in 1916, it is often misattributed to Abraham Lincoln. The error apparently stems from a leaflet printed in 1942 by a conservative political organization called the Committee for Constitutional Government. The leaflet bore the title “Lincoln on Limitations” and contained some genuine Lincoln quotations on one side and the “Ten Cannots” on the other, with the attributions switched. The mistake of crediting Lincoln for having been the source of “The Ten Cannots” has been repeated many times since, most notably by Ronald Reagan in a speech he gave at the 1992 Republican convention in Houston.

There are several minor variants of the pamphlet in circulation, but the most commonly-accepted version appears below:

* You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
* You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
* You cannot help little men by tearing down big men.
* You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.
* You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.
* You cannot establish sound security on borrowed money.
* You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
* You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than you earn.
* You cannot build character and courage by destroying men’s initiative and independence.
* And you cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they can and should do for themselves.

Boetcker also spoke of the “Seven National Crimes”:

* I don’t think.
* I don’t know.
* I don’t care.
* I am too busy.
* I leave well enough alone.
* I have no time to read and find out.
* I am not interested.

I don’t know about  you, but I think this is something to really think about.


Does Anyone Want a Solution?

There is a lot of stuff happening in this country and the world today. I suppose that is always the case, although in the last several months it seems worst than it has been in the past. And honestly, much of what is happening I find personally scary and alarming. The deficit, the apparent disinterest on the part of our leaders in what the average citizen is concerned about, states going bankrupt, no legislative body showing any real concern about approving a budget much less making budget cuts, giving unelected officials the right to rule and regulate our personal lives, making the EPA part of a shadow government and in the future will tax us for exhaling, politician’s accosting private citizen’s and being defended for their actions, dissention being targeted as hate speech and terrorism, government taking over entire industries, the blame game left and right…..

In my opinion anyone who isn’t alarmed by such actions and much more is either delusional or has been living in a cave for quite a while.

But I for one, would really like to stop the blame game, the partisan rhetoric, and the gotcha games and pose a very simple question: Does anyone really want a solution? Seriously, let’s consider this shall we? In private life, most people when they encounter problems whether large or small tend to want to solve the problem. They may not always succeed but there is certainly an effort to find solutions to those things that work against us. Whether they are created by another person, a circumstance or a natural disaster. For example, last year we had horrible fires at the end of the summer in my community. In fact, I posted many pictures of the fires, some of which were literally down the block from me. I’m proud to say that my community, the firefighters, the police and so forth focused on the problem and did everything in their power to solve it. It did take a while and not everything tried work but I can truthfully say that a solution was everyone’s focus. And in the end, solutions were found, used and the problem was handled.

So, when it comes to larger problems, national problems, international problems, etc. why then is not a solution the focus? Why is the American public by and large satisfied to just let our leaders lay blame. It’s so and so’s fault because he did this and now this is why I can’t do that? A person elected to be a leader is supposed to be a leader and a leader is supposed to be the guy or gal who knows how to solve problems, right? Whether it is the president of the United States or the local city council member. But rather than solving problems PR damage control is the focus. Anecdotes about conversations with children are offered rather than finding solutions, nice speeches or not so nice speeches filled with excuses and finger pointing.

And all the while, while our leaders fail to solve existing problems they legislate more rules, regulations and attempts at taking over parts of our personal lives. Laws now exist that say American citizens must buy certain products or be fined or imprisoned. The government now must decide what we may eat, breathe, think, say and do. Those are not solutions those are impositions upon personal freedoms.

And then the causes….don’t get me started on those either. When was the last time you saw any cause that was for something rather than against something? In my mind being for something is much more likely to bring it about than being against something is likely to stop it.

I admit that I am a bit of a political junkie and I find the field interesting, fascinating and somewhat nauseating – and I love debate because I think it is debate that brings about different views, and can in reality if done sincerely can bring about real change. However, most political debate is about hating the side you are not on. About smearing and belittling people and degrading them in public forums. And I’m not talking about satire I’m talking about venom, hatred and vitriole.

I wonder if some of the most popular people to attack were on ‘the other side’ if they would be so hated. If Bill Clinton had been a Republican and gotten sex in the Oval Office while he was supposed to be doing the people’s business would he have remained in office? If Sarah Palin were a Democrat, would the ladies on the View be fawning over her left and right? If Al Gore had been a conservative would anyone have gone to see An Inconvenient Truth? If George Bush had been a liberal would his bailouts, prescription medicine initiative, and budget and deficit fall-out been hailed by the media? If Maureen Dowd spewed her venom about liberals would she even have a job? If Chris Matthews loved Chris Christie and got a tingle down his leg every time he spoke, would MSNBC issue his pinkslip?

The point I guess I am trying to make is maybe if we stepped back and viewed any leader whether public or private on the merits of what they were actually saying and doing from the standpoint of truly wanting to add to the solution to the given problem, rather than adding to turmoil would things change?

Personally, I think the time has come for Americans (at least) to stop and think. Forget what ‘side’ people are on and really evaluate if that person is trying to solve anything (particularly those things for which they are responsible for solving) just trying to get you worked up into a lather about something so you won’t notice that they are solving nothing.

No one would accept that kind of behavior in their private lives. Bosses who seek to bring the company down and fire good and effective workers are hated not revered. Co-workers who goldbrick and get paid for doing nothing and resented. Businesses that treat their customers with resentment and condescension don’t long remain in business, pastors and priests who exploit members of their congregations soon find their churches empty, criminals who steal, harm and injure other citizens are thrown in jail. Why do those who supposedly lead get a pass?

At the very least, it may be something to think about.


I'm Worried…

Yes folks I truly am. First it was the mortgage fiasco and the subsequent bailout. Then came the auto bailout and the digital television voucher program. The bagillion dollar stimulus bill (where are the people who were criticizing Bush for a mere 87 billion now?) that is going to just create a bunch of government jobs designed only to keep the government huge and the public (that’s you and me, bub) at their mercy.

Ordinarily, this stuff would roll off my back. It is after all, business as usual in this bizarre world we live in, right? But here’s the thing that really worries me – the perception of the economy. I’m not saying that it isn’t in bad shape but the perception, the belief that what we are being told about it is stronger than the reality and will break our backs sooner than the economy itself.

There is an old political adage that says ‘perception is reality’ well I’m here to tell you that that is the truth. For years now, the media and any two-bit politician who was powerless and wanted some power has been hammering us with this idea that the economy was in trouble. And it started long before there were the problems we now face. I suppose you could say that these people were visionaries and saw it coming. But did they? Or did they just create a self-fulfilling prophecy for us? Did they just keep hammering away until we all started to believe it and became more and more desperate? Until we apathetically just allowed the government to make funny money to pay for a stimulus that is bound to actually collapse the economy?

What many people don’t seem to understand is what stimulates the economy is business and commerce. And yet what this stimulus package seeks to do is destroy business and commerce. It seeks to make the government the owner of all the major business concerns. Of course Congress will bail-out the auto industry, the banking industry and any other industry that comes along and kisses its ass. What better way to make the government the owner of those concerns? It’s not unlike Jimmy the Loan Shark. Sure, he’ll help you out but man if that loan isn’t paid back you lose your kneecaps and your business. How on earth do we think this is any kind of solution?

I feel like screaming on a daily basis. Yet, what is the point of it? Everyone is already there. They already believe what is being dished out. Businesses are freaking out and letting people go. People are going onto unemployment rather than looking for another job or even starting their own companies or going concern. People are bailing on their mortgages, letting them go to foreclosure and then saving all that mortgage payment money while the bank takes nearly a year to evict them. Nobody is spending any more because they are sure there won’t be any money to spend in the future. We’re sunk, folks. We’re really sunk if we don’t stop buying into this crap.

Contrary to popular belief, the economy goes in cycles – it is simply a fact of life. And if people just knew and accepted that and didn’t try to ‘do’ something to change it by creating bullshit solutions like a stimulus package for instance – the cycles would be much shorter and we’d all be doing better.

I know that my pleas are falling on deaf ears and if anyone even comments on this post I’ll be more than surprised. All I can say is that when the government owns everything, including our souls, it will be too late for any of us to protest. You think things are ugly now? Wait a couple of years, it’s going to make this look like a ferris wheel spin around the amusement park.


For further insanity on this bailout fiasco go here to read about the latest freakanomics solution. We, the taxpayers are bailing out Citibank? Come on! And all while they are jacking up our interest rates with gleeful abandon? That’s like getting beaten and then set on fire by the same bully. Oh my gawd! Where is this great change that has been touted for the last year? This is supposed to be good? I’m telling you folks, start stuffing your mattresses – unless you want all your money in government banks (the better for the IRS to seize your assets and freeze your accounts????) with no interest, heavy fees and likely bad math. Crap!

The Art of Parenthood

The following pictures were sent to me by an (appalled) friend in an email. The idea was that it was funny…

I never gave birth to any children but I did raise a couple and they’d go out naked before they’d leave the house sporting a tee shirt like this. How old do you figure she is? Six? Seven? Won’t she make some lucky guy a wonderful mate some day?

Okay, so a family that hates together mates together. What slays me is the little one on the right, what is she two or three – she’s using the wrong finger of course, but I’ll bet it won’t be long before she has the routine down pat. I’m thinking Mom of the Year for the chick in the green dress, how about you?

Listen, I know that child care is expensive and sometimes kids get underfoot – but don’t you think the parent should actually know that their child is a human being? I can only imagine what a lovely teenager he will be and how the parents will be quite forlorn over the way he acts.

Yup, start ’em young – but the glass seems a might large.

I can’t even comment on this, except to say, sometimes you shouldn’t always follow through on what you think is a brilliantly funny idea.

No wonder kindergarten kids are getting hit with sexual harrassment suits.

I hate to sound like one of those old fuddy duddies who don’t like people to have fun and such but I seriously couldn’t imagine myself having my children in pictures like these, or in these situations, much less be passing them around the internet. Sorry, but some people should not have children. No. Way. No.

Is Change Always a Good Thing?

You know, the election cycle is stepping up and even if you are trying to ignore it you’re getting wapped over the head with it on a daily basis, anyway. Unfortunately. I admit, I haven’t been paying close attention but one thing that I can’t seem to get away from is that favorite theme of politicians – change. All kinds of slogans come from this humble and common word, such as: A Time For Change – We Need a Change – A Change is Gonna Come – A Real Change.

Okay people, let’s get real. First of all, the concept of change has been used by politicians ever since Sam Clemens started writing editorials for the Mudville Gazette. Apparently, this word, change, has mystical and magical powers. A candidate utters it and suddenly whatever bullshit they happen to be pushing is instantly believed. Particularly if the audience is composed of young, impressionable adults whose whole lives are based on change, largely because their hormones haven’t stopped fluctuating and they haven’t yet entered the real world of bills, taxes and obligations. It is a luxury of the young to be idealistic without any reality thrown into the mix. Yes, change would appeal to this crowd to be sure.

But how about the rest of us? Do we really want change? And if so, what is it we want to change? We have 5% unemployment – which when Bill Clinton had close to that number he was said to be an economical genius – is it really unacceptable simply because a conservative is in the Oval Office? How about the fact that we haven’t had an attack on our country since September 11, 2001? Do we want that to change? Whether or not you agree with the war, are you really upset that we haven’t had a repeat, large or small, of 9/11? Okay, now what about the economy – the Dow Index has reached record highs – the likes of which we have never seen before, nor ever expected to see. Do we want it to go down to a nicer, lower number? How about tax revenues, they too have hit highest evers (because of the tax cuts), do we want less of that? We’ve de-burkah-ized millions of women and now those same women get to go to school, teach and even vote. Is that something we want to change?

Now, I know some of you are going to come back and yell at me about the price of gas and the real estate market. However, those things are changing all the time. And isn’t it change that we want? And also, sorry, but both of those are private industries – the housing market was poised to crash starting about three years ago – it simply finally caught up with itself. There was another about a decade back. It’s cyclic, as is the cost of oil. The fact that traders have managed to convince people that unrest in the Middle East equals a shortage of oil is actually laughable when you stop to consider that we get a mere 13% of our oil from that region of the planet. Our primary source of oil is Canada and Mexico, neither of which appear to be in a state of unrest, nor look to be developing nukes to blow us up. And too, my feeling is that likely the same people who are all freaked out about the price of gas are the same dodo’s who vote to add a tax to gasoline prices every time they want some public entitlement program. Those programs aren’t free and yes, you are paying for them and yes, likely you voted to pay for them, quite possibly because you didn’t bother to read the fine print on the proposition before you voted for it. Reading is a good thing. Know what I mean?

How about small changes? Say you have a favorite Trader Joe’s or drugstore that you like to go to. But every time you go in there, they have moved the eggs and coffee and forget about finding the toilet paper. Is it better that you had to spend an extra 15 minutes in that store because somebody changed the layout of the place? Or when your boss decides it’s time to change and downsizes his staff because the government has changed something, that makes a staff of 25 unaffordable for him? Is that good? Or when your spouse of 15 years decides that he/she might like a newer, prettier model. Do we like that change?

So, obviously change for its own sake isn’t necessarily a good thing, nor is it often even necessary. Sometimes, it’s downright destructive.

So, when I hear these candidates yammering on and on about change and how they are the merchants of change it gives me a shudder. An honest to God, clutch in my gut, because let’s face it, when was the last time a politician came up with a change you liked?

When they say change, I say: What change? How will you change? Why are you changing it? Why is it better than what we’ve already got? And the ever popular, What makes you think you’ll be able to change it?

What about you? Anybody out there know what all this changie-ness is all about? What are they a-gonna change and why? And can they actually do it?


A World of Our Own?

Technology is a beautiful thing. The conveniences it has given us and the simplicity it has made of once tedious work is nothing short of miraculous. But, in the words of one of my readers – are we enjoying the technology or is it enjoying us?

We have so many gadgets to give us creature comfort that we nearly never have to leave the house. As long as we have a computer, a phone, internet connection and a credit card we are set. We could easily begin to feel that really there is no one else in the world for all of the digging in we do in our little nests. We cocoon to coin a popular phrase.

It is any wonder that when we are actually out in the world our behaviour is less than amicable? We squeeze into spaces, nearly sending the car behind us in a ditch, but don’t notice because we have the a/c, stereo system and the cell phone going. We screech down residential neighborhoods at 3 a.m. with our music so loud it’s breaking crystal in someone’s house. We cut into line and don’t see the dismayed looks on other line mates’ faces. We yak to our friends while the movie is playing. Talk on cell phones anywhere, allowing all to hear everything there is to know about our lives, relationships and troubles. Our children run rampant, like wild animals through shopping malls, restaurants and groceries stores because we don’t believe in suppressing their desire to be free beings, even though they are giving everyone else mild heart attacks. We plug in our Ipods and giggle, gaggle and bang out the drum line on the table top, never noticing that the racket is bothering others.

All because of technology? Or is it us? Have we become so embedded in our own toys and gadgets of convenience that we no longer see the other people in the world. Or know that there are other people there? And when we notice them, are we confused by the strange or angry looks, the rude gestures? The stunned, gaping mouths?

It has been said of previous generations that it was all about me. But I’m wondering if that is a thing of the past or the present. Is the me generation still alive and well? If they lost their technology tomorrow, would they have the people skills and thinking skills to survive, to work in tandem with others and make it? Or would they just sit in a corner crying because they can no longer plug in, tune out and float in a world meant only for them? I wonder. Do you?

Space the Final Frontier?

In recent years there has been a lot made of space. Not the NASA kind of space. Not the Star Trek kind of space. Or parking spaces or office spaces or even line spaces. Personal space. Know what I mean? As in: I need my space. Gimme some space. You’re invading my space. Gotta find some space. There’s even an entire blogosphere devoted to it called My Space. So, it’s quite the commodity these days.

Used to be that people just wanted to be alone. Or go for a walk. Or see a movie without company. Maybe sit under a tree and read a book. They even played hookie from time to time. But they didn’t carry around metaphysical walls and boundaries over which others were not to step. They did not erect in their minds individual planets with their own solar systems in order to get a little peace and quiet. Nope, back then I think we were more sociable than today.

So how does one make that space? That personal space that is so sought after, valued and treasured? It seems to me that there is no one way to do it. It seems to me that everyone has their own way of making their ‘space’ their own.

Roomie for example, makes it with dirt and clutter. He has so dripped, dribbled and drabbed over the coffee table that I won’t go near it. His side of the kitchen counter is frightening and I go to great lengths to avoid it. Heck we even divvy up the stove – my half is clean, his is dirty. Yep that’s how he maintains his personal space.

Others use food – hey the bigger the body the more space you get to occupy, yes? Don’t believe me, ask my fat ass. (Note to self, must find other ways to make space).

Some make it with noise. Ever notice how crazy noisy kids are in grocery stores? They throw themselves on the floor and scream bloody murder. Boy do they get a lot of space, people go three aisles over just to get out of that space.

How about fences or walls. The neighbor who isn’t exactly neighborly erects concrete walls, 8 foot fences, electronic gates and covers them with growing vines to get his space.

The do-it-your-selfer uses his trusty power tools to ensure the garage remains his personal space. The wife doesn’t want to go near the dirty noisy things and as long as something is running, she will stay safely ensconsed in the house in front of the television or air conditioner.

Many of us bloggers use words. Pleading words. Pleasing words. Funny words. Angry words. Authoritative words. Impressive words. Kind words. We fill our spaces up with words and sometimes pictures too – the words of course, are really just thoughts so I guess we use our mental faculties to make space. How very metaphysical of us.

Yet with all this space making going on, it seems to me that we aren’t any happier than we used to be. In fact, we may be less happy than we once were. When social decorum was a quality not an abberation, when manners were sought after, not criticized, when people tried to get along, not get apart.

So what’s your take on space? New frontier or life avoidance? How do you make space? Are others welcome there? What do you do to get space?


The Great Melting Pot?

A friend recently sent me the following in an email. I found it unsettling and provocative – it is indeed a galvinizing topic – but I post it here for your thought and consideration. WC

We know Dick Lamm as the former Governor of Colorado. In that context his thoughts are particularly poignant. Last week there was an immigration overpopulation conference in Washington, DC, filled to capacity by many of America’s finest minds and leaders. A brilliant college professor by the name of Victor Hansen Davis talked about his latest book, “Mexifornia,” explaining how immigration – both legal and illegal was destroying the entire state of California. He said it would march across the country until it destroyed all vestiges of The American Dream.

Moments later, former Colorado Governor Richard D. Lamm stood up and gave a stunning speech on how to destroy America. The audience sat spellbound as he described eight methods for the destruction of the United States. He said, “If you believe that America is too smug, too self-satisfied, too rich, then let’s destroy America. It is not that hard to do. No nation in history has survived the ravages of time. Arnold Toynbee observed that all great civilizations rise and fall and that ‘An autopsy of history would show that all great nations commit suicide.'”

“Here is how they do it,” Lamm said:

“First, to destroy America, turn America into a bilingual or multi-lingual and bicultural country. History shows that no nation can survive the tension, conflict, and antagonism of two or more competing languages and cultures. It is a blessing for an individual to be bilingual; however, it is a curse for a society to be bilingual. The historical scholar, Seymour Lipset, put it this way: ‘The histories of bilingual and bicultural societies that do not assimilate are histories of turmoil, tension, and tragedy.’ Canada, Belgium, Malaysia, and Lebanon all face crises of national existence in which minorities press for autonomy, if not independence. Pakistan and Cyprus have divided. Nigeria suppressed an ethnic rebellion. France faces difficulties with Basques, Bretons, and Corsicans.”

Lamm went on:
“Second, to destroy America, invent ‘multiculturalism’ and encourage immigrants to maintain their culture. Make it an article of belief that all cultures are equal; that there are no cultural differences. Make it an article of faith that the Black and Hispanic dropout rates are due solely to prejudice and discrimination by the majority. Every other explanation is out of bounds.”
“Third, we could make the United States an ‘Hispanic Quebec’ without much effort. The key is to celebrate diversity rather than unity. As Benjamin Schwarz said in the Atlantic Monthly recently: ‘The apparent success of our own multi-ethnic and multicultural experiment might have been achieved not by tolerance but by hegemony. Without the dominance that once dictated ethnocentricity and what it meant to be an American, we are left with only tolerance and pluralism to hold us together.’ Lamm said, “I would encourage all immigrants to keep their own language and culture. I would replace the melting pot metaphor with the salad bowl metaphor. It is important to ensure that we have various cultural subgroups living in America enforcing their differences rather than as Americans, emphasizing their similarities.”
“Fourth, I would make our fastest growing demographic group the least educated. I would add a second underclass, unassimilated, undereducated, and antagonistic to our population. I would have this second underclass have a 50% dropout rate from high school.”

“My fifth point for destroying America would be to get big foundations and business to give these efforts lots of money. I would invest in ethnic identity, and I would establish the cult of ‘Victimology.’ I would get all minorities to think that their lack of success was the fault of the majority. I would start a grievance industry blaming all minority failure on the majority population.”

“My sixth plan for America’s downfall would include dual citizenship, and promote divided loyalties. I would celebrate diversity over unity. I would stress differences rather than similarities. Diverse people worldwide are mostly engaged in hating each other – that is, when they are not killing each other. A diverse, peaceful, or stable society is against most historical precedent. People undervalue the unity it takes to keep a nation together. Look at the ancient Greeks. The Greeks believed that they belonged to the same race; they possessed a common language and literature; and they worshipped the same gods. All Greece took part in the Olympic games. A common enemy, Persia, threatened their liberty. Yet all these bonds were not strong enough to overcome two factors: local patriotism and geographical conditions that nurtured political divisions. Greece fell. “E. Pluribus Unum” — >From many, one. In that historical reality, if we put the emphasis on the ‘pluribus’ instead of the ‘Unum,’ we will balkanize America as surely as Kosovo.”

“Next to last, I would place all subjects off limits. Make it taboo to talk about anything against the cult of ‘diversity.’ I would find a word similar to ‘heretic’ in the 16th century – that stopped discussion and paralyzed thinking. Words like ‘racist’ or ‘xenophobe’ halt discussion and debate. Having made America a bilingual/bicultural country, having established multi-culturism, having the large foundations fund the doctrine of ‘Victimology,’ I would next make it impossible to enforce our immigration laws. I would develop a mantra: That because immigration has been good for America, it must always be good. I would make every individual immigrant symmetric and ignore the cumulative impact of millions of them.”

“Lastly, I would censor Victor Hanson Davis’s book ‘Mexifornia.’ His book is dangerous. It exposes the plan to destroy America. If you feel America deserves to be destroyed, don’t read that book.”

There was no applause. A chilling fear quietly rose like an ominous cloud above every attendee at the conference. (I edited, all but this line of the narrator’s editorial comments – as I am more interested in your comments at this point. WC)

(Origins: Richard D. Lamm was a Democrat who served as governor of Colorado for twelve years from 1975 to 1987. Of the above quoted third person account regarding his speech on the perils of multiculturalism, he told us ( in mid-June 2005: “Yes, it is a speech I gave a year and a half ago in Washington D.C. It was a five minute speech, and I am amazed and gratified it has received so much coverage.”)

If you are interested in checking out the snopes page on this topic, you can find it here 

If you are interested in the book Mexifornia, you can find it here 

An article by the author of Mexifornia can be found here

And finally, I leave you with what I think is an appropriate quote about the great melting pot, America.

” …whence came all these people? They are a mixture of English, Scotch, Irish, French, Dutch, Germans, and Swedes… What, then, is the American, this new man? He is neither an European nor the descendant of an European; hence that strange mixture of blood, which you will find in no other country. I could point out to you a family whose grandfather was an Englishman, whose wife was Dutch, whose son married a French woman, and whose present four sons have now four wives of different nations. He is an American, who, leaving behind him all his ancient prejudices and manners, receives new ones from the new mode of life he has embraced, the new government he obeys, and the new rank he holds. . . . The Americans were once scattered all over Europe; here they are incorporated into one of the finest systems of populations which has ever appeared.” – Hector St. Jean de Crevecoeur, Letters from an American Farmer.

Give And Take


I’ve become painfully aware of late, that this world is comprised of givers and takers. I suppose there may be another third group, that is more balanced but then again, maybe not.

I don’t know if it’s always been this way and I just never really noticed or if it’s something that has evolved over the last couple of decades but it seems more pronounced these days, more obvious. And it seems to me, that the takers are gaining on us.

Take something as simple as courtesy on the road. We’ve all heard of rules of the road (or at least, I hope we’ve all heard of them) and it isn’t so much about traffic laws as it is courtesy. You let another driver in when they’re stuck trying to get out of driveway, wave someone through ahead of you even if you have the right of way, or in the reverse, tip your hat, nod your head or wave or something if another driver has done the same for you. It’s not a big deal, but it makes a difference.

I’ve literally had people try to run me off the road rather than yield to my merging into a lane, even when I had the right of way. Everday, as I stop at a stop sign and another driver arrives at the same time, that driver only pauses and when they see I’m actually stopping, just slide through the stop without so much as a blink. The list is endless – and really this post isn’t about how other people drive.

It’s more about the attitude. It is as though there are some people out there who just feel they are entitled to anything and everything they get. They don’t feel obliged in any way to return the favor. And sometimes, they seem to expect it. The co-worker who expects you to cover their lunch because they haven’t the money but wouldn’t dream of lending you a five-spot. The friend who calls you at all hours to cry on your shoulder, who borrows clothes and never returns them, who always shows up at your house around dinnertime but who is often busy when you need something. The boss who expects to be able to call you on your day off to discuss some business issue but doesn’t think they should pay you, and who gets uptight if you dare to call them at home. The parent who demands you demonstrate your love to them constantly but can’t help you out when you’re in need or trouble.

And I suppose the givers are duplicitous in these acts because they cooperate. They give. They are happy to help out. Don’t have the heart to hang up on a sobbing friend, or deny lunch to them. Will bend over backwards to show their love and nurture parents, children and spouses. Because they are givers. That is the way they are wired. Right? So, why shouldn’t they be taken advantage of? Why shouldn’t the takers take what the givers give? It’s the way the food chain works, isn’t it?

Is it? I wonder. I’ve had a few serious takers in my life. And there is no pleasing them. No matter what you do for them it isn’t enough. No matter how hard you try it just isn’t hard enough. No matter how much you give they still seem to need more. You could literally have a personality transplant and remake yourself according to their specs and still be wrong. It’s exhausting.

And I’ve found whenever I go through a particularly exhausting period in my life that I am surrounded by these folks. I am swarming with them. I am the proverbial puppet on a string. My life becomes dedicated to doing for them and going without. And I have to ask myself why? Why the hell do I do it? What puts me in that place? Is it just my general good nature, am I too nice, care too much, just want people to like me? I suppose it is all of the above and none of the above. I mean, how does one find the balance? I don’t really like fighting back, so to speak. It doesn’t do anything for me personally – truth be told I don’t really like conflict. I like life to be easy going and fun. I don’t want to be an accountant, forever tallying what others owe me or I them. Or scolding people for taking advantage either of me or others. It’s just not my thing.

I suppose in the long run my solution is to just cut my losses and move on – it’s not easy though. In fact, it’s damned hard – everyone seems connected in one way or another. That 6 degrees of separation thing, you know? In the end, I just end up putting up with it. Try not to get too god-awful sucked dry of life and resources and look for better friends – sometimes with success, sometimes not.

How about you? What do you do with these people? I’m curious what everyone else’s take is on this.


Are We Society Bots?


After the nearly 10,000 spam hits I’ve gotten on this blog, I’ve started thinking about this whole spam-bot thing. This isn’t another post complaining about spam, though it’s tempting, it’s really about how maybe the weird little things in life actually mirror who we are. Bear with me and we’ll see if I can make my point.

I’ve noticed with the spam that there seem to be trends. For example, one week it’s all sicko stuff, the next week it will be apparently from Russian or Yugoslavian guys, the next week from real estate people and this week I’ve gotten almost 2,000 spam hit from the drug planet. Every kind of drug you can imagine, which I dare not specify lest, they send another 2,000 my way. But it’s not the numbers or even the spam that interests me – it’s the trends. It’s the type of message they are spewing all over the place.

We live in a modern and technologically -savvy world. Heck, there is a gadget for everything, even a special clip for your potato chip bag, every method under the sun for your love-making preferences and a drug for everything that ails us. Still, we’re all restless, can’t seem to find our purpose in life, our soulmates, happiness, nirvana, whatever you want to call it. We’re still as screwed up as we were 30 years ago – maybe more so. Now doesn’t that give you pause?

Don’t you have to wonder that if none of this stuff is really floating our boats, if none of it is solving our woes, if none of this is tickling our fancy, then there must be some other reason for it all? I’m not going to go into any conspiracy theories here, because there are spambots for that too, so why would I take the time. But, I will say that if none of this stuff is solving our problems then it must be solving someone else’s. Right? I mean, no company keeps doing something just for the heck of it. They don’t advertise things to death because they aren’t selling it. So, if you put aside the ‘reasons’ they say they are selling it – to make you feel better, so you won’t hurt anymore, because you deserve the best, I’m okay, you’re okay, blah, blah – then you have to look at who/what it might behoove.

I think the spam bots are trying to tell us something and that that something is that we will not find our answers in pill bottles, blue videos, dates with Blonde Russian girls or real estate seminars. That no matter how many pills, vids, seminar, get rich quick schemes, promises of true love and so on are promoted that the answers lie somewhere else.

We’ve become convenience junkies – from junk food to remote controls. Why walk when you can drive the two blocks to the grocery store? Why cook when Micky D’s is down the street? Why talk to your family at the dinner table when you could be eating KFC in front of the big screen t.v.? Why be responsible when there is always someone else you can blame and make responsible for you?

We’ve become prisoners of our own laziness and apathy. We’ve stopped caring about each other and given in to a preference for living in our own little worlds, where companies and advertisers will gleefully supply us with everything we think we need or want. Hell, it’s all just money to them. And they are probably just as wound up in this silly string as everyone else.

Yep, we’re the little society bots who get up every morning, fire up our computers, check our emails, stop by Starbuck’s to get our fix, crank up our sound systems in the car and dial the cell phone and the heck with everyone else. You think I’m kidding but I’m not. I find it really sad and i worry, that we’ll someday all end up as Borgs or some odd configuration of man and machine all because we bought into the idea that life should be easy, that we are entitled to every little thing our hearts desire and that we shouldn’t really have to work too hard for it. Shouldn’t have to stand on line, shouldn’t have to be polite to our neighbors or care if some fellow is stranded on the side of the road.

Yep, we be society bots n’ shit. But I’m kind of hoping that the people out there who still think – give this some thought. Otherwise, we may soon find ourselves impelling through space into a bigger universe where we are the bots spamming the bigger guy’s computers.