People Who Can Do Things (a repeat)
Worst Football Dives


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I know I'm out of the loop, but I just don't see how I missed hearing about that one.


Gaah! X-D

I always wonder if there's a mischievous site administrator or developer behind this sort of thing.

I don't know how long it was up. I noticed it and did this screen grab immediately. I didn't look at it again for an hour or so and it had been fixed then.

Good for you, Sir! :-D

I haven't seen it mentioned anywhere else, so maybe this is what they call "an exclusive."

or maybe nobody else thought it was funny.

Hee hee.
I stopped by the local Tea Party rally the other day, an observer rather than a participant.
Personally, I bet if everyone at the rally who collected social security, medicare or VA benefits went home there would be few left...

"maybe this is what they call an exclusive"

Your fifteen minutes. Milk them!

Well, milk would be appropriate for tea or ...

There are days when I just feel so stupid.


I don't know why you feel stupid but your previous comment is pretty funny.

Yeah, but I'm thinking that it was probably what Anne-Marie had in mind in the first place.


Oh yeah. Heh. See, that didn't even occur to me, because it would have required putting together two thoughts related in content but separated by a couple of hours in time, which I seem to have trouble doing these days.

21% sales tax; a top rate of income tax of 50% (for those earning over 3000 a month - most people pay about 25-30%; you don't pay any income tax if you're on less than 500 a month); property tax is fairly reasonable - 20% of the notional rental value of the property (which is considerably less than the real rental value), with 10% off that for every dependent child or elderly relative. Then there are social security payments. About 55% of the average Belgian's income goes to the state in one way or another. You work for society one half of the week, and for your family the other half, and in return society takes care of the unemployed, crippled, aged, and so on (it's sort of feudal, in that sense).

This is pretty typical for Europe, I gather. It's what American liberals want for us, and they don't understand why there's resistanceto it. Just yesterday I heard a glowing story on NPR about how well it works in Denmark. But, setting aside more remote questions about the sustainability of this model, I just don't think we, as a nation, are disciplined and cohesive enough for it to work very well here. Sheer size works against it, too--there are 250 million or so of us, and we're too spread out culturally and geographically and economically. It would be like the EU attempting to have one uniform tax-and-welfare structure for all its members. (Plus, add in an African country and a Latin-American one.) I suppose that's the goal of the leadership, but I don't know whether they'll make it.

Given that I'm likely to give birth some time in the coming week, I'm a bit sensitive about the "teat" thing! LOL!

I would imagine that in the long term democratic socialism (I think that's what this is all called) cannot be sustainable, due to the abortions and lack of babies generally.

I fully expect to see in Oz an increase in the age you can receive the aged pension etc.

I'm sure our guvvermint currently has enough money to give us decent social security, but it's too busy pissing it up the wall on pointless garbage, like, modern art. And buildings nobody wants or needs etc. Meanwhile, the health system deteriorates.

Unfortunately, it's all rather cyclical. The citizens say "the guvvermint should fix it" every time anything whatever goes wrong. So the guvvermint increases its revenue if it can to "fix it".

Paul, I see what you mean about it being almost feudal. Only, I wonder if the average peasant used to work as much as half his time for his Lord. Also, the peasant, by custom (according to Belloc at any rate) had full possession of his own land, provided only that he hand it on to his descendents (I believe he had not the freedom to sell it).

Imagine owning outright your own property with enough land to grow your own food, and working less than half your time for your Lord.

(I readily acknowledge the lack of decent dental and medical care and plumbing in the middle ages!)

Congratulations and hang in there, Louise!

I'm always just a bit skeptical of Belloc when he talks about the middle ages. Chesterton too, for that matter. I suspect they paint an overly rosy picture. I'd really like to learn more, from a variety of sources.

But yeah, it is true that the dem-soc model has some definite resemblances to feudalism, as I understand both. I sometimes think that the old American (and distributist) idea of a nation of mostly free property-owning citizens is just an anomaly that goes against the human grain. It seems to me that an awful lot of people, possibly most, don't really want that. They want to be, in essence, subjects, and dependents. Assuming of course that the lord or king is generous.

Re: the Chesterbelloc on the middle ages -

Yes, well, they never go out of their way to talk about the dire plumbing (ie none!)

More than once, Chesterton replied to accusations that he was idealizing the Middle Ages by saying something along the lines that to advocate learning from what was good about a past period was not the same as promoting its wholesale imitation or recreation - that praising the benefits of, for instance, small ownership and local organization (as to be found in medieval Europe) in no way entails advocating the abolition of railways or modern medicine (he puts it much more lucidly and entertainingly, but I don't have the texts to hand). And Belloc was as keen on Revolutions and Republics as he was on medieval poetry and philosophy, and peasants and guilds.

As I understand it (and distantly remember it from undergraduate days), a "free" peasant typically held his own land in return for two or three days work a week on the lord's lands (or, increasingly as time went on, equivalent payment in cash or produce), plus occasional fees and duties of all sorts (for firewood, for milling, for using the big plough with lots of horses or oxen). His land couldn't be alienated from him, and within the bounds of soil, climate and social expectation he could grow what he wanted on it, for food, for clothing, or to sell at market, but nor could he alienate it from the lord's oversight (the "lord" being a local lord, a big nobleman, a king, an abbey, whatever). He could sell the rights, subject to the lord's agreement, but then the person buying would be subject to the same obligations. An "unfree" peasant didn't have that option, and usually had to work more days a week for the lord, and might have to grow what he was told. A franklin held his own land outright, without being a lord, but that was the real middle class of European farmers. But things varied so much from one place to another, and changed so much over the thousand years of the "Middle Ages" (in terms of how many peasants were "tied" to the land, how many held their own lands, what rights and duties they might be subject to, and so on), that it's almost impossible to generalize.

I wasn't thinking so much of the more primitive living conditions--I mean, of Chesterbelloc romanticizing them--as a general softening and sweetening of the the culture and the times as they portray them. Those were some pretty hard-nosed folks back then...

I understand that some of this is just the contrarian streak that's very strongly visible in both Chesterton and Belloc, and that they were trying to correct the general "dark ages" misconception, which is to be applauded. Still, I often feel like they're prettifying things to some degree. Actually I'd say the same about Belloc's republicanism and revolution.

And about the peasant and his sort of semi-ownership of his land: I often think that one of the too-little-remarked sources of anxiety in modern life is the wage-earner's unrelenting fear of The Boss. The w-e may be making very good money, live in great luxury compared to most of humanity for most of history, etc., but always in the back of his mind is that he can lose it all, or have it greatly reduced, at the whim of his boss. It produces a sort of cringing deference on the surface of great hostility (cf. Dilbert). So if the peasant was really secure in his little acreage, he may have been somewhat better off psychologically. But then of course he had the anxiety of bad weather or blight ruining his crops, a disease carrying off his milk cow, etc.

I think Belloc wanted to see men and their families with as much self-sufficiency as they could have b/c that is more in keeping with human dignity. Anxiety will afflict all people in every time and place and the only real antidote is a supreme trust in Divine Providence. My Nick feels anxiety as the breadwinner in our family and I sympathise with him (although I wish he'd worry a bit less, since worry doesn't actually solve anything or add to anything except stress levels). Still, I can understand it b/c he is responsible for the material well-being of 8 people, including himself and he would hardly be human if he didn't feel it.

I do believe, myself, that wherever possible, the family and its friends, neighbours etc ought to have as much self-sufficiency as possible. It is this that Belloc and Co are presumably examining in their appraisal of the Middle Ages and they make a plausible case. There is a great deal of subservience etc in the current Servile State type set up that most Western Nations now seem to have.

I think we are perhaps now so far gone that indeed most workers would rather the security of being wage-slaves than stepping out on their own. Although, part of the problem there is a lack of guild type structures for mutual support.

Most plumbers and doctors in Oz are self-employed, yet are not renowned business people. Why? Professional support and a general sense of "this is how plumbers/doctors do things." If you had that same sense in every sector, you'd have a lot of non-businessmen/women in fairly secure self-employment with relative ease.

Belloc himself suffered quite a lot of anxiety about his own means of production, both before and after he was married. Yet, he preferred the ideal of ownership of the means of production, rather than merely being looked after by a company.

Gosh, now you're making me feel guilty for giving up self-employment to go and work for a university ...

Oh dear. :(

That was definitely not the intention! If it makes you feel better, Belloc lectured at uni himself, IIRC.

Pretty much the same here for docs and plumbers, though maybe less so for plumbers. I hadn't really thought about it till this minute, but there may be a trend here toward fewer self-employed plumbers and more small plumbing companies employing a dozen or two.

Engineers & software developers could potentially work in a guild-ish sort of way very effectively, and there have been a few attempts to get such movements going, but they haven't really gone anywhere. Too much inertia in the current system, I guess.

I know exactly how Nick feels, although there were only 6 of us. :-)

I'm sure you do know how Nick feels! I'm sure most husbands and fathers must feel similarly. Since being married, I have gradually developed more of a devotion to St Joseph, and particularly under his title of St Joseph the Worker.

That reminds me - I need to ask more frequently for St Joseph's intercession for Nick.

It is next to impossible for ordinary folk to get into their own business, or stay in it, (unless they are very business oriented) in an economy that is set up for Big Business.

Paul, I am suffering neurotic guilt for having made you feel guilty! Especially since you have just given me that great pile of Belloc books!

Which, I might add, I'm enjoying greatly. Mostly, I'm reading from Pierce's biography.

Hmmm. That reminds me Paul. Rising Road.


It's lying ready, Janet (you should perhaps ask Louise how long it took me to get round to getting the Pearce biography in the post!)

Seems like the last book you sent me took a while to get there, but not as long as Bedtime for Frances took to get to you.


Ah... sending books in the post. It's one of those jobs that hangs around on the "To Do" list forever!

You know, it just struck me, Paul that the first book you sent me was by Pearce.


Oh, is that where that went to?

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