Life is unfair.

Don't we all agree? Isn't that what our Mother's told us?

Of course it's unfair. In its rawest, most unmediated way, life is short, nasty, and brutish...and exceedingly unfair. There is no moral/social/economic arbiter, no Bureau of Universal Equitable Balance that ensures that...'hey, you're a nice guy...you should have a nice life!'

Certainly over the last 10,000 years of increasingly organized civilization, the emergence of law and social structure, to reduce & control & prevent (and punish) the nastier and more brutish aspects has been successful in moderating those more painful extremes. But -- still, life remains intrinsically unfair. We are all slower, fatter, stupider, less successful, uglier, grumpier, less popular, and shorter than any number of someones...and equally we're all faster, thinner, smarter, more successful, prettier, happier, taller, and more popular than someone else.

So what?

It is not the State's job to rebalance Unfair Life.

It is not the State's job to somehow measure and compensate each of us for the unfair genetic luggage we were handed at conception. Nor is it the State's job to examine the lives our Parent's had (into which we were dropped) to determine whether or not they were up to State Standard (requiring the intervention of State Compensators). No.

Rather it is the State functions to leverage public funding to provide the goods and services we cannot individually manage: national infrastructures, safe food, product standards, military protection, police, fire, rescue, etc....and, to some limited extent, social safety nets for those who are unable to survive, independently, within the wider world.

This means not only that the Gaps created by an Unfair Life will continue to exist...but that those Gaps will widen and other new ones will be created. The taller, beautiful, well-spoken will become Movie Stars and Talking Heads and be paid millions to sell soap. Those who can throw a football 70 yards on a frozen rope will win championships, be paid zillions, and find their picture on Wheaties boxes. The brilliant and innovative will build better mousetraps and the world will beat paths to each of their doors. All this will occur on big scales and little, and all of it will be sprinkled with fate, fortune, luck, and happenstance. The mighty will fall and the meek rise. Families will slide, generation to generation, from one end of the economic scale to the other. If we look at 18th century America we won't find the Gates or Bezos Estates. If we look for the Bingham Empires in 21st century America (William being the richest man in the United States in 1776) we won't find them either.

In many ways the fact that Gaps CAN be created means that this is, indeed, a free country with an open market. And equally if what we witnessed was universal equity, what we'd there inhabit would be a totalitarian nightmare: all of us Winston Smith's, dressed in grey, living in 'little boxes on the hillside...all made out of ticky-tacky'... all looking just the same'.

"You wanna talk about how do we improve young childhood education, how do we talk about improving family structure, how do we deal with healthcare, how do we deal with childcare support for the very young, especially for parents who are overwhelmed with work, who don't have the time or the energy sometimes to be there for their children." No, actually I don't.

The State has no place seeking to 'improve' the family. Rather it is the family which must improve the State. And if we wish to raise good, productive, and successful sons and daughters...who will eventually grow to become good, productive, and successful citizens and neighbors... that responsibility begins with Mom & Dad...with Grandma & Grandpa.... and with the neighborhood itself. It begins with decisions about whether or not I'm having sex and getting pregnant at 15....whether I go to school or do my homework....whether I smoke dope, do drugs, and hurt other people...whether I go to Church and honor my father and mother and the policeman on the corner. It begins with taking responsibility for the lives we have.

Sure healthcare can be improved but the so-called Greatest Generation was raised in the absolute absence of any State funded national healthcare system. Sure, young childhood education can be boosted but that same Greatest Generation was raised in the total absence of young childhood (pre-school) education. Sure to all those grand, and nice-sounding things. But the problem we are trying to address is not subject to State-sponsored exogenous correction.

"The fault, dear Brutus, is not in the stars, but in ourselves". And correcting it requires first, that WE, admit that the problem is ours. Not the State, not the Man, not the System, not our History, not SOMEONE ELSE....but ME. I own it.

Now what am I going to do about it???

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In 2020, The National Museum of African American History and Culture published a "teaching paper" on "Aspects of Whiteness and White Culture"...which should a have been titled..."How to live the American Dream and Thrive"...it ascribed a profile of behaviors and attitudes only to Whites. It asserted that POC only think these ways and do these things in response to White authority and power.

Their list (with the exception of a few racist and some what humorous remarks about mate selection and food preference) would be a profile for success in 21st Century US society no matter what you look like:

Have a family raise children, be self reliant, employ linear thinking and scientific study, hard work is key to success and comes before play, be action oriented and always seek better results...to win, practice deferred gratification save and invest for the future, be timely, learn to use proper English, respect authority, be polite.

Think about a person who lives by exactly the opposite of all these aspects of life...who would hire them...always late, doesn't work, hard can't think logically, doesn't respect an organization's goals?

The last two attributes (respect authority , be polite) might explain our policing interaction difficulties .

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In a 60 Minutes interview years ago, Morgan Freeman suggested that one of the best means of addressing racism is to stop talking about it incessantly. Instead of that, we now have "white supremacy" at every turn, a condition whose supply cannot keep up with the demand. Every single thing that happens to a person, especially a minority individual, is not the result of that person's melanin level.

Sullivan falls into the trap a bit, and Glenn rightly corrects him, on the topic of wealth and income. Racializing everything was poison when tried before. Why anyone wants to repeat that, other than the hustlers for whom it's a business, is beyond me. There are other dynamic at play, among them being the change in household dynamics from the time of Glenn's youth - a time in which racial animus was far more open than it is today. Like many white kids of the time, he had an extended family to look out for him and for the other kids in the neighborhood. Something changed since then. It was not more racism.

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Re: early childhood education -- the Princess of Wales is about to launch some major initiative in the UK regarding what Ferguson calls the Basics. Her life's work apparently is going to be devoted the first five years. She has spent the last decade studying the subject. It will be interesting to see if any good/new ideas come out. But she underscored the importance for society as a whole. The details are to be released on Tuesday. Her letter said: “During our very early childhood, our brains develop at an amazing rate - faster than any other time of our lives. Our experiences, relationships, and surroundings at that young age shape the rest of our lives.

“It is a time where we lay the foundations and building blocks for life. It is when we learn to understand ourselves, understand others and understand the world in which we live.

“But as a society, we currently spend much more of our time and energy on later life. I am absolutely determined that this long-term campaign is going to change that.”

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/royal-family/2023/01/28/princess-wales-pledges-will-champion-better-future-children/ (I believe you can press esc to get around the paywall) in case any one is interested.

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Just because someone is a hypocrite doesn't mean they aren't right. My father smoked most of his life. At one point he quit for almost 2 years. But one night he was at the bar drinking with friends and he bummed a cigarette. He didn't quit again until he was literally too sick to go to a store to buy cigarettes. He died in 2001 at age 59 from heart failure. My father always told me never to start smoking. That made him a hypocrite, but it was certainly good advice to follow.

I have identified as agnostic since I was 16. My own crisis of faith was not an emotional reaction, but really more the result of an intellectual thought process. My 10th grade English class was reading Greek mythology when I began wondering about the similarities between ancient Greek religious beliefs and my own Catholic faith. Why did they believe in these fanciful tales that pretty much everyone rejects the truth of today? I came up with 3 reasons. First, it was what they were taught by parents and teachers. Second, it was what everyone around them believed. Third, it provided explanations for phenomena that they couldn't otherwise understand. For example, the reason that the sun moves across the sky is because Apollo pulls it with his chariot. Then I asked myself why I believed in God? I decided that it was for the same 3 reasons. I also decided that those reasons weren't sufficient to justify believing. There were all kinds of stories in the Bible about miracles, but there had also been many stories of miracles performed by the Olympian Gods. God was a possible explanation for where the Universe, Earth, and life had come from. But just because Science can't answer those questions currently, doesn't mean that God is the correct answer. Occam's razor and all that.

I can't say for certain there is no God, but I think it's extremely unlikely. I actually considered Pascal's wager before I had ever heard of it. Isn't it safer to believe in case God exists? But I decided that if what I had been taught in Catholic school about God was correct, if I lived a good life treating others as I would want to be treated, I don't think that God would damn me to Hell because I didn't go to church on Sundays. After all, God gave me the ability to reason. If he wanted me to believe he could certainly provide evidence that would convince me. I have avoided the atheist label, both because I can't disprove God's existence and because I didn't like the attitudes of most high profile atheists. At least that was true of the people famous for their disbelief. I hate the way certain atheists delight in mocking the faithful for their belief in "superstition." Bill Maher anyone?

I have struggled most of my adult life with depression. It took many years before I realized that was what my problem was. It wasn't until recently that I connected my first symptoms of depression during my junior year of high school with my crisis of faith the year before. In retrospect, it's hard to believe I missed the connection. I believe that faith can be very powerful irregardless of whether that faith is justified by reality. Faith that God will give you the strength to overcome adversity might be the only reason a person might try to overcome it instead of giving up because they see their situation as hopeless. Faith can also provide comfort. We lost my mother a few years ago. I so wish that I believed I would see her again. My own health is generally poor. My one saving grace is that I never smoked. But I suffer from complications from diabetes and a back injury sustained when I was rear ended at a red light. Today, I am retired on disability. I live alone and haven't dated anyone in over a decade. I have siblings as well as 2 nieces and a nephew. My nieces live in CA. My nephew I get to see every couple of weeks. As much as I love them, I wish I had more to live for. I honestly wish I could believe in God again. But my rational mind keeps telling me that the more I desperately I want something to be true, the more skeptical I should be. Maybe I should rethink Pascal's wager.

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I feel that I should defend Jamelle Bouie because I am a subscriber to his newsletter. Andrew Sullivan may have been made fun of by Bouie on Twitter more times than he can count but the things I remember Bouie writing about are his theories that the Electoral College is racist, the Supreme Court has too much power, and the Senate should be elected by the state legislatures again in return for giving up some power. Every week he also has a photo which he has taken and a recipe which he has cooked. I think his perspective is much more about the legacies of white supremacy in how public power works than how individual Black people can succeed because he has had little trouble succeeding (before he was at the Times he was Greg Sargent's second-in-command at The Plum Line which has gone to a succession of very talented people).

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Excellent commentary on the issues of the day. Thanks for sharing.

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Thanks for sharing, Glenn. I hear you in there, Uncle Albert!

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Anyone listened to Bari Weiss’ conversation with Ken Burns on the Holocaust?

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I don't see how it mitigates the injustice of the racial wealth gap to say "Wealth is created by human creativity, ingenuity, risk-taking, and entrepreneurship and all of that." Sam Walton, for instance, began Walmart in Arkansas in the 1940s, with a loan that was the equivalent of $300k today. Today, Sam Walton's children are some of the richest people on earth. You can say "Well, Walton built that wealth through ingenuity and risk-taking." But what Black entrepreneur in Arkansas in the 1940s could have accessed the capital necessary to start the first mega-store chain? The first megastore was always going to be built by a white person, because the opportunity arose during Jim Crow. The Walton family's wealth today may be the result of "creativity and risk-taking" but it was creativity occurring under conditions that kept Black people from competing in the marketplace. Their wealth here in 2023 is Jim Crow wealth. If the racial wealth gap has existed continuously since the end of the civil war, and if access to capital builds wealth that can build more wealth, then the racial wealth gap is the injustice of the past passed down to the present, no matter how much "creativity" led to the creation of that wealth. I don't think there's any more reason to wave away the injustice of the wealth gap today than there would be in 1940.

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Heard it last week. AWESOME.

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