Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Unkind and unfair

I was thinking about the resurgence of the '70's policies and their inevitable consequences, and I realized something. 

We, as a nation, have become profoundly unkind and unfair.  

History repeats; or if it doesn't straight up repeat, it rhymes.  Or at least, that used to be the case, when it was actually taught as a series of choice/consequence pairs. Now, it just repeats.  Over and over.  About every twenty or thirty years.  

We used to learn from history, until people who were kind and gentle and didn't want to traumatize the kids changed the way it was taught (at the behest of people who thought that they'd find it easier to seize power if it wasn't taught...and they were right).  We no longer learn from the mistakes others have made; instead, we make our own.  

When I was in school, I read history.  I read a lot of history.  Mostly because of the self-esteem movement blocking me from reading-level-appropriate fiction because "we don't want to make your classmate that can't read feel bad."  I read a lot dissecting how this act led to that reprisal.  

And then, I saw similar playing out on the playground: one of my classmates would be an asshole, and another classmate would bop them, or kick them, and their behavior straightened up.  Action/choice led to obvious (and fair) consequences.  

And so, children used to learn not to be dicks to each other.  

I also saw when the "anti-bullying" turned from "Hey, y'all, stop being a dick to the weird kid" to "Oh, you poor, disenfranchised baby, you can be mean to anyone, and we'll punish them for applying consequences." 

That was profoundly unkind, and unfair: kids are dicks.  And they've got to learn that there are consequences.  By preventing the consequences of their actions from being applied, the "kind" grownups removed an opportunity and an incentive to learn socially appropriate behavior.  

It's spreading, even now: we've seen it with people living way above their means; we've seen it with businesses going under because they've made long-term stupid their missions statement.  And it's because kids aren't taught consequences of their choices at young enough ages, because kids are protected from the fallout of their own stupid choices.  

It's a profound disservice, and we're really starting to see the economic fallout: in slapping layers of regulations on businesses, the government are jacking up the costs of doing business.  The businesses start jacking up prices, and people stop buying from them.  The government slaps more regulations on the businesses, limiting how much they're allowed to charge, so the business cuts prices...but also cuts quality.  Which drives more people away from them...and then the business starts failing. 

We've seen what happens when they're allowed to fail.  Yes, it's horrible for the people employed by the business; however it's worse when the business is bailed out by the government.  Especially when part of the bail out is new regulations that prevent new businesses from rising up and doing what the failing one was doing, but better and cheaper and higher quality, because there are better choices--smarter choices--being made.  

Case in point: car makers with plants in the United States.  The ones owned by American companies are infested with unions and slammed with regulations; the ones owned by foreign car manufacturers have some of the same regulations, but they're not infested with parasites on top of it.  American car makers are failing; they're failing, and their flailing for government bailouts.  

Unfortunately, those come with more shackles strings attached.  

I say let them fail.  Let the unions murder the jobs that they claim they're trying to protect.  Let the government murder the industries.  Let them fail.  

Maybe, just maybe, we can figure out where the fail point was, and fix the problem.  

But it takes failure, it takes natural consequences to punish bad choices before we can even begin to recover.  

The fail point is government.  The fail point is regulations, regulatory costs, and the push by the stupid and uneducated toward the impossible. 

It's not fair to the rest of us.  It's not kind to us, or to our children.  

We're not allowed to hit the bully back.  We're not allowed to side-step the increasing regulations laid on vital infrastructure.  

Sarah Hoyt says "Build over, build under, build around." And we're going to have to.  Because the Gods of the Copybook Headings will not be gainsaid.  

Not teaching that has been the harshest, most unfair, most unkind thing that weaponized "nice" has done.

Saturday, September 16, 2023

Of interest:

Yesterday, I grocery shopped in person.  I forgot to set up a pick up earlier in the week, and my phone was dead anyway, so...yeah.  

Anyhow, I have been needing new bathroom rugs for post-shower/post bath for a while.  Walmart's options were...not good.  All I wanted was basic, rubber-backed pile.  In darkish brown or gray because those can go longer without needing washed because they look grody--or at least, look worse than they are. 

There were options at Walmart, but I didn't want memory foam--takes forever to dry--and all of the rubber-backed sorta carpet? Light colors or bright colors.  All matchy-matchy with towels and wash cloths and all sorts of stuff.  

And not a single option was less than about $9.  None.  

There were designers, designs, and color palettes that Walmart used to not carry, not bother with.  Those were JC Penney or Target (both of which are having actual problems with falling market share, because in a lot of people's minds, Walmart meant cheaper...even if it's not anymore).  What there wasn't was basic level bath mats in the color families I wanted.  Almost everything but that, but not...that.

I'm not settling for something that isn't what I want, and paying that much to do so.  Not for something that basic.  If they'd had the general color families I wanted, in the material I wanted (rubber backed rugs were more like $16--the $9 option were the memory foam pads), I would have been less unwilling to pay that much for something that wasn't exactly what I was looking for.  

Fifteen years or so ago, I joked about JC Penney having gone to the dogs: Penney's prices, but with Walmart quality levels.  Walmart has now officially joined Penney's in having Penny's prices with Walmart quality. 

Dollar General has taken over the niche Walmart used to fill. Their prices are about what Walmart's used to be, on the types of things they used to carry.  You know: dry goods, some semi-durable goods, paper goods, and cleaning supplies.  Things like that. 

Dollar Tree has taken over what Dollar General has dropped: cheap shit that is about the most basic of the basic. THAT is where we found the bath mats I was willing to settle for, and I almost didn't have to settle: I got a slate-gray one, and a dusty purple one. 

As we were waiting to check out and leave, there was a young couple in front of us with a cart full of kitchen supplies: some pots and pans, basic mixing bowls, and some tableware.  Plastic drinking glasses. Paper towels, oven mitts. The most basic of the basic of setting up a kitchen.  Total price was $42. 

My bathmats were $5 each.  Yeah, the pile was sparser than I'd like, and the colors weren't exactly what I wanted. However.  I will settle for almost right for $5 each.  Not for double that, much less triple.

I may go back there when I need to get new kitchen towels.  Or dish rags.  The basics of the basic.  Because you don't need to pay Penney's prices at Walmart on basics when your budget is tight, and there are alternatives.