Abandon the “isms” of politics. Be responsible.

I find I don’t agree with any political party any more. I think I’m hardly alone.

Democrats have a little better idea of the problems in poverty, something that’s hitting me hard at the moment. But I’m also very pro-life, which brings me closer to the Republican party.

I used to think of myself as a libertarian, or at least mostly libertarian. But lately I’ve found I don’t fit that either– it’s just a little too close to anarchist ideals for my comfort.

I’ve come to realize my political ideas are actually the same as so many people: Just be responsible. Be a mature adult, understand what social responsibility means, don’t trample on other people, do to others what you’d want them to do to you.

I mean, how hard can it be? (Cue Top Gear theme song.)


Technically That’s True, But… (Part 2)

Quoting proverbs proves everything!


I just don’t want to hear some stuff any more. A lot of the following is platitudes; simple, incorrect solutions to complex problems. Please read judiciously; I’m not going to hold back much. This one is going to be a bit more random than the last.

“If you don’t work, you don’t eat”
The original saying comes from the Bible, where the Apostle Paul says if anyone is not willing to work, he should not eat. Note the deciding factor is willingness, not actual work. “Yeah but you do have to work, because if nobody worked…” Uh, yes, of course, duh. Please see the next item:

“Most poor people need to __________ to get out of poverty”
Please read: http://www.cracked.com/blog/4-things-politicians-will-never-understand-about-poor-people/. In fact, please, just Google “site:cracked.com poverty” and read.

“You believe in young earth creationism? Wow, you must be an idiot.”
Okay, I never have had this one to my face, although I’ve had it through the internet quite enough. No, I’m not an idiot, although I’m not perfectly educated either. (And neither are you an idiot, nor perfectly educated.) Doesn’t matter much as I’m not really willing to debate the subject– most people have made their decisions, and there’s enough prejudice surrounding the subject that actually convincing people while still properly informing them on the facts is very difficult.

“How ya doin’?”
This one is contextual. “How are you doing?” is generally not acceptable as a greeting. It’s fine if you know me fairly well and you’re actually asking. In fact, “How are you doing?”, asked with a peculiar intensity by a close friend, can be powerfully moving.

Why do I hate that question as a greeting? A big factor is that as an introvert, I love questions. The better the question, the… better. “How ya doin’?” while passing somebody you don’t really know is an empty question– not even really a question, and so it is wasted words. Questions are too important be wasted! Questions are full of whimsy and exploration and explosions and wonder and awesome.

Check out this comic about the value of questions: http://kiriakakis.net/comics/mused/a-day-at-the-park

“You have the power within you to take charge of your future. You can do anything!”
I have a hard time going against this one, because the people who tout it often mean well. Usually, they’re trying to empower others. (Sometimes they’re trying to sell you something. Ignore those losers.) However, the truth is not so optimistic and pretty: What I have control over is internal. I have limited control of factors outside of myself. There’s lots of stuff I don’t have control over, and in fact, for every one thing over which I do have control, I bet I can find 10 for which I don’t.

If you take that as defeatist, it’s not. It’s realistic, it’s just not the whole story. We sometimes overlook what we can control and let the outside factors take the wheel. However, we do ourselves no favor by telling ourselves we can control anything and everything. I don’t need to be told I can do anything; I know that’s not true, and I’ll discard that advice out of hand. I’m not responsible for the universe.

It is also true that we have to take responsibility for what happens to us, when we can. Why, because we have power and can control it? No, we take responsibility because that’s life and we make right stuff that ain’t ours.

I will freely admit at this time I don’t have settled what exactly is under my control and what isn’t. But it strikes me that life is messy, and I’d rather have the matter be unsettled and messy than draw false lines.

Technically That’s True, But…

Quoting proverbs proves everything!


Maybe I’m getting cranky in my old age (I just turned 28 on the 18th of November). I just don’t want to hear some stuff any more. A lot of the following is platitudes; simple, incorrect solutions to complex problems. Please read judiciously; I’m not going to hold back much. Also, some of this is going to flow, some of it is random.

“You have power over your emotions. Nobody can make you feel anything you don’t give them power over.”
This one gets credit for being partially true. To some extent, yes, you have control over your reactions. However, if I develop a relationship with you, build up your trust, then one day out of the blue stand up to your face and call you a bleepety bleep of a bleep, you will react a certain way– bewilderment, hurt, loss of trust, desire to lash back. Words have meaning, and therefore, power. There may various degrees to which various people react, but the basic internal reaction is the same, because there’s this thing called the human factor, also known as psychology. Speaking of which:

“But if people would only engage in [logical behavior]…”
This is present Kaleb speaking to past Kaleb (and to all you wannabe machines out there):

There’s this thing called “feelings”.
You have them.
You’re human.

You cannot make a valid calculation about a human being if your parameters assume they are machines. People use their feelings in making decisions, and yes, that does lead to some stupid decisions sometimes. However, not taking feelings into account can also lead to some pretty stupid decisions, and will cause YOU to engage in anti-social behaviors, because you’re not taking other people’s feelings into account.

Also, you are going to involve emotion in your decision-making process anyway, whether you like it or not. So learn to recognize it, learn when it’s showing you something that left-brain is missing, and just be aware of it without always trying to second-guess and exclude your feelings from the decision-making process.

“Respect is earned, not given.”
This one is false in >99% of your day to day interactions. Respect is always given (unless you’re a psychopath), but the maintenance and growing of respect is earned. Your reputation is earned… usually, mostly, sort of. Okay, it’s hit and miss. People spread lies, which brings me to:

“Don’t mind what other people think of you.”
Again, credit for being half true. “Haters gonna hate”, but “your reputation is all you have in this world”. Oh, and also, “look before you leap”, but “all who hesitate are lost”.

Yeah, I’m not convinced at this point that all these clever proverbs are worth the paper they are not printed on. Does anybody really have a clue what they’re talking about when they create these proverbs?

And that’s enough for today. I’m sure I’ll have more later.

What Should Be the Final Argument About a Living Wage

And it is: People need a living wage because people need to live.

Seriously, as I’ve been thinking about it, I’ve come to realize the fundamental arguments for a living wage are pro-life arguments.

I find it amazing that the two US political parties seem to flip-flop on this issue. The one that was pro-life isn’t, and the one that wasn’t pro-life now is. Just another reason I argue for taking a different route.

Any road, the way I see it, the question of wages shouldn’t be one where the government has to step in. Are you an employer? Is your employee still dependent on his parents? If so, pay him any wage you’ve agreed on. If not, s/he needs a living wage. It’s that simple.

Small Victories

Today is a day to rejoice. In a small way. Just a couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the financial difficulties we were experiencing. It didn’t help that my wife and I had to move this past month. We were blessed with someone who stepped up and said “Here’s the money you will need to cover rent and security deposit; pay us back when you can.”

Thanks to those generous people, I’m happy to say, for the first month since last June, we were in the black for April. It wasn’t much at all, less than $50, but it’s a victory, and I’ll take it.

(To those who might say it “doesn’t count” because it’s a loan: the money allowed us to basically ignore one month’s extraordinary expense.)