College Loans and Debt Forgiveness

The United States government made it far too easy for students to take loans, and colleges pounced on students' willingness to take loans and jacked up tuition costs disproportionately to the rest of society - knowing full well that students would eventually bear the full financial weight of their poor choices and the government would be forced to make good on those loans one way or other. With that in mind, it doesn't matter whether you label the US government's current meddling in the college tuition debacle "overcharge reimbursement" or "loan forgiveness," because at the end of the day either way you choose to title such a program is little more than playing games with semantics.

Student-Debt-Crisis-Solved

In my opinion, what should be happening is these same colleges should be forced to eat part of the costs; some office of the government should take each college individually and review their tuition costs back to 1970 and compare the rise in tuition with inflation in the rest of society and determine whether each college rose their tuition costs more than inflation, and that's the part of the costs that the colleges should be forced to absorb - WITH NO GOVERNMENT BAILOUTS. If a college has to layoff workers to balance their books, then so be it, because there are ample studies available about colleges hiring an exponential number of non-educators with the increased fees they were charging, so that should take care of itself.

Once the colleges' culpability has been taken care of, the remaining costs are the financial obligations of the students - WITH NO GOVERNMENT BAILOUTS, either. While I realize that colleges were offering easy money to students at a time when most students were too stupid to realize the ill-effects of staggering debt (which is also why credit cards set up shop in student unions across the country), I have zero tolerance for students who claim to be a "victim" when no one was holding a gun to their collective heads. At any time the students could have said no. Instead of a loan for exorbitant tuition, students could have:

  1. Gone to a different colleges (which would have encouraged colleges to be competitive).
  2. Pursued their base courses through a cheaper, two-year college to save costs (which would have also forced four-year colleges to re-examine tuition costs to attract newer students).
  3. Spent more time researching the millions of dollars that are available each year as grants and scholarships (which most students ignored since those involved doing some "work" to discover and apply for, and loans only required a signature).
  4. Taken time off between high school and college to save up for school (which MIGHT have encouraged colleges to create more attractive entry-level pricing).
  5. Join the military to earn money for college (which is what I personally did).

In addition, students could have chosen a different major, or a different school, or a different career path, or refused to go to college, or myriad other options that were available to them. However, most students took the easy route and chose to sign a loan for their education - AND THAT'S TOTALLY ON THEM. Regardless of whether the school was charging too much, at the end of the day each student made a conscious choice to enter into debt unwisely; the same choice that people make when they sign up for a 33% credit card, or take a loan for a vehicular lemon, or pay too much for a property without doing the requisite market research, etc.

As I said earlier, no on held a gun to students' collective heads. If students signed up for massive amounts of debt, that is entirely on them - the rest of the country should not be forced to pay for their collective stupidity through taxation. On the contrary, the colleges themselves should be forced to reset tuition levels to reasonable rates and backdate loan amounts accordingly, and students should be required to pay off the remainder.

PS - If something like this proposal was rolled out, I would also suggest that whichever office of government went through the books to synchronize college tuition rates with inflation over the past several decades should also be able to force schools to adopt realistic tuition rates going forward, too. If a school is caught trying to jack up tuition rates, they should be penalized in some way.

For more things to think about, see Why is College So Expensive?, New Rule: The College Scam, Is College Worth It?, and Game of Loans.

Bidding Adieu to 2022

This evening I watched 2022 ride off into the sunset from Tucson's Saguaro National Park East with my spouse of 38 years, my children, and my grandchildren gathered round... treasured memories are borne from moments such as these, and I am eternally grateful that my long-suffering spouse reminds me now and again to seize these moments before they're gone.

Saguaro-National-Park-East-2022-12-31

My wish as we dash headlong into the year ahead is that everyone who reads these brief, reflective musings has a joyful and prosperous 2023 ahead of them.

Smile

Brittney Griner vs the World

If I might be so bold as to weigh in on the subject, the following illustration hits home with what has been my biggest complaint with the entire media circus that surrounded the entirety of Brittney Griner's arrest and subsequent incarceration: she's nothing but a celebrity, and a minor one at that, so I failed to understand the constant hype around "getting her home."

Brittney-Griner-PR-Stunt

Despite the Vice President's comments about Griner being "wrongfully detained", at the end of the day - Griner broke Russia's laws, and as such she deserved to be punished according to their laws. We might not like those laws, but our nation would do the same if a foreign national broke our laws while on our soil. Do I think Griner's prison sentence was considerably longer than it should have been? Heck yes, and diplomacy should have been used to reduce Griner's sentence to something a little more reasonable.

Of course, in hindsight we see the ulterior purpose behind Griner's sentence - it was a poker move. Putin knew that if the punishment was far too excessive for Griner's minor crime, he could force the United States to do something unreasonable in order to rectify what was clearly an unjust situation - which we did. The United States traded a major criminal, who will undoubtedly return to his prior life of crime, in order to free a celebrity whom most people couldn't pick out of a lineup.

Adding insult to injury, however, is the fact that the United States attempted to free retired U.S. Marine Paul Whelan or schoolteacher Marc Fogel as part of this prisoner exchange, and rather than forcing the Russians back to the negotiating table, the US acquiesced to Russia's terms. There are SOOOO many things wrong with what happened here.

First of all, Putin stared down the USA, and the USA blinked. The key takeaway for everyone around the globe who opposes the USA is: the USA is weak and easily manipulated. From a statecraft perspective, the Brittney Griner prisoner exchange was an utter failure from the point of view that matters most; e.g. foreign perceptions of the USA.

What's more, however, is the USA has shown once again how anyone who ISN'T a celebrity doesn't matter. If the USA could have traded for just one prisoner, that ABSOLUTELY SHOULD have been Paul Whelan, who has been held by Russia for four years, or Marc Fogel, whose crime and sentence were nearly identical to Griner's. Instead, the weak-minded and weak-kneed imbeciles who headed up this political debacle threw the non-celebrities to the wolves, and opted to bring home the prisoner who would get them on the 6 o'clock news.

In the end, that's the part that hurts the worst: this administration has demonstrated, once again, that the common man has less worth than canine feces to those who could make a difference. This entire affair has been nothing but a cheap public relations stunt for the Biden administration; let everyone else and the country be damned.

Egypt Discarded the Rosetta Stone, Now Egypt Wants It Back

A pair of articles recently caught my eye: Egyptians call on British Museum to return the Rosetta stone (from PBS) and Act of plunder: Egyptians want the Rosetta Stone back (from Al Jazeera).

As a student of history, I have a difficult time accepting the demands of countries to have treasures like Rosetta Stone "returned" to their country of origin when that country never bothered to take care of these treasures in the past. While the Rosetta Stone was created in Egypt, it was also discarded by Egypt and lost to the world for literally 2,000 years. What's more, the Rosetta Stone's discovery was over two centuries ago, it's purpose was deciphered by archeologists and scholars from central Europe - not Egypt - and it has been on public display for the rest of the world to admire for two centuries.

Rosetta-Stone

The Rosetta Stone's fate thus far - e.g. safely kept in a museum - has been far better than if it had been taken as spoils of war by a military commander, and spent the past two centuries languishing in someone's private collection, which might easily have happened if others had discovered the Rosetta Stone. Or as we have seen with ISIS running rampant throughout the Middle East, the Rosetta Stone might just as easily have been destroyed due to the ignorance of its discoverers.

At what point is an item of antiquity no longer within the realm of "possession" by a country that cared so little for its significance that it was used as building material? Now that 200 years have passed and Egypt has finally realized the Rosetta Stone's worth - if nothing more than museum fodder for tourist money - why should the rest of the world heed the requests of a country that didn't care enough to preserve it in the first place?

Europeans didn't raid an Egyptian museum to steal the Rosetta Stone from it's "rightful owners." On the contrary, French soldiers found the Rosetta Stone discarded in the desert, and realizing its potential significance, the French treated the Rosetta Stone with far greater care than Egypt had demonstrated. Eventually France lost its battles with England, and the British took possession of the Rosetta Stone and placed it in a position of prestige at the British Museum. As I said earlier, the Rosetta Stone has fared far better in the hands of foreigners than it had had in its country of origin.

Enough said. Rant over. Please resume your regularly-scheduled Internet browsing.

My Philosophy for Tipping

A friend of mine posted a meme in Social Media with the following text:

"The year is 2024.
You walk into your local coffee shop.
A latte coasts $12.
You have the choice of tipping 75%, 95%, or 125%.
You sheepishly tip 75% and feel bad about yourself.
The barista shakes his head in disgust."

This meme was designed to address the combined issues of soaring inflation and tipping expectations within our society, though it made me want to weigh in on the subject from an observational point of view.

Tipping has been an interesting subject for me as I've traveled around the planet. I've been to some cities and countries where tipping is considered an insult, because the implication to the staff is that you think they aren't being paid enough and you pity them. That being said, in the USA, some people AREN'T paid enough, because their employers figure that the employees will make up the rest of their wages in tips, which is why these employees are justifiably angry when they get stiffed.

Personally, I find it reprehensible that an employer expects me to cover their wage shortages. I'd rather that restaurants set realistic prices for their patrons and pay their employees a reasonable wage, where patrons are still welcome to leave a tip if they feel that they had great service. Although I must admit, despite societal expectations, I still tip based on service. Even though I leave a tip 99.9% of the time, I do not feel obligated to always leave more than my bill.

Occasionally I've dealt with an exceptionally underwhelming server, and in those one or two situations I've had no problems saying to them, "Your service was terrible," and I didn't care if those specific employees came up a little short in their wages that evening. If their employer can dock their pay for gross ineptitude, so can I; and in the future, perhaps they'll do try to do a better job.

Accepting Assistance with Essential Tremors

I have written before about my experiences with "Essential Tremors (ET)" since I was initially diagnosed several years ago, and since then I have realized that there will likely be a time that's more difficult for people who suffer from ET to accept: when we have admit that our lives have changed and we need a little help now and again. It's not easy for us, because we all want to be self-reliant and we don't want to be a burden to others, but more than that - I think there's a part of us deep down that doesn't want to face the truth that things are different now.

Around the time that I was diagnosed with ET, pouring something with either hand would set off my tremors in major fashion, and one night as I was having dinner with my spouse of nearly 40 years, I couldn't pour parmesan cheese from a plastic canister over spaghetti. I tried with my right hand but the tremors were too strong, then with my left hand and the tremors were just as bad. After switching hands a few times, I set the canister down on the table and stared at it while I contemplated how I was going to handle the situation. My spouse had been quietly watching this story as it unfolded, and after a few seconds she broke the silence and asked, "Would you like some help?" I didn't want to say, "Yes," but in my brief moment of vulnerability I felt forced to say it.

I have said before that there are three ways that people who suffer from ET can choose to respond to our disability: we can cry about it, we can scream about it, or we can laugh about it... and this was one of those times when I wanted to cry about it, because I hadn't needed someone to help me feed myself since I was an infant. I was frustrated and embarrassed, though I had no need to be. My spouse clearly didn't mind - she was glad to help, and that was a learning opportunity for me. I had to learn to accept that my life was different, that I would need assistance for little things from time to time, and my spouse was willing to help.

My life has been considerably better since my neurologist and I were able to sort out the medications that I need to keep my tremors in check, so I seldom need my spouse to step in and save me. But still, there's nothing wrong with saying, "I need help" now and again.

Anti-vaxxers are Paranoid, Illogical, and Unscientific

There is an old saying that goes, "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink." Likewise, there is a variant of that saying that has evolved over the years as, "You can lead a man to knowledge, but you can't make him think." This is especially true within the realms of Social Media, where any number of ill-informed rabble now have a platform to publicly spew complete nonsense, while remaining incapable of being able to see anything beyond their warped points of view. Even when presented with incontrovertible evidence to the contrary, these ideological miscreants cling to their fallacies with a religious fervor that would fill zealots with envy. As I have mentioned in previous blogs, few topics have generated such levels of misplaced devotion as the anti-vaxx crowds, which gained tens of thousands of new converts during the recent COVID19 pandemic as paranoia fueled by conspiracy theories devolved into a quagmire of unscientific, politically-charged drivel. It is usually best to ignore the ridiculous offerings proffered by those who are incapable of understanding simple logic, because nothing you can say will budge them from their comfortable, little echo chambers.

Well-Thought-Arguments

That being said, I occasionally see something so ludicrous that I cannot remain silent, and though I know that my actions will do no good, I cannot resist the temptation to speak up, which brings me to the subject of today's blog. Despite 2½ years of a global pandemic that has resulted in millions of deaths around the planet, there are thousands of paranoid, uneducated saps who deny its existence or distrust the government's motivations where the pandemic is concerned. The following conversation details just one example of this type of mentality at work.

ANTI-VAXXER:
"The unvaccinated aren't dying. Just saying..."
 
REBUTTAL:
Literally millions of unvaccinated people have died around the globe... though apparently no one you know (but some people I know). That said, far less people died in the USA because we have some of the best medical care in the world. Thankfully, however, global fatality rates have decreased because the Omicron variants - while still easily transmissible - have much lower mortality rates than predecessor variants.
 
Current numbers indicate that roughly 8% of the world's population has contracted COVID19, and the numbers will probably increase this winter as in the past couple years, and COVID19 will likely become an annual scourge like the normal flu season.
 
ANTI-VAXXER:
"The normal flu season also results in the death of 10s of thousands every year, except, it seems, when COVID was raging. Interesting how the head shed in dc has never been as rabid about normal flu season deaths as they are about COVID. Apparently, there's no political advantage to being fired up about deaths from flu."
 
REBUTTAL:
You've apparently missed the point that flu deaths were reduced during the COVID pandemic because millions of people across the globe wore masks, used hand sanitizer, practiced social distancing, quarantined people who were infected, stayed home as much as possible, closed businesses, etc. Personally, I think that some of those measures were an overreaction, but the reason why people were overreacting is that even though the flu typically results in the deaths of tens of thousands of people each year, from the outset of the COVID outbreak it was easy to project that millions were going to die from that disease when it was still at its worst. If we hadn't done anything, the number of COVID deaths would have been far greater - in other words, even though some governments overreacted, their results were nevertheless effective. The number of people infected with COVID were far less than they would have been, and flu cases were reduced as a by-product of the heightened awareness and preventative measures.
 
To put things in perspective, the average number of annual flu cases in the USA from 2010 to 2020 was around 28 million, versus 97 million cases of COVID in the USA alone since its initial outbreak (and 628 million cases globally). However, the total number of deaths in the USA due to the flu for that same decade of 2010 to 2020 was 347 thousand, versus 1.1 million deaths in the USA due to COVID in two years alone (and 6.7 million deaths globally). In other words, the annual flu season results in an average of 32 thousand deaths per year, which is no small number, but COVID has resulted in an average of 440 thousand deaths per year. Putting that in layman's terms, despite all the preventative and/or over-reactive measures that were enacted, COVID still infected the population with a transmission rate that was several times greater than annual flu seasons, and COVID was considerably more fatal.
 
But here's another interesting tidbit about diseases - as most people are aware, diseases mutate into new variants, and as a result, they often become less toxic with each new mutation. When you study the pathology for diseases that have rampaged humanity, they are especially heinous when they mutate and initially cross over the barrier from plants or animals to humans, which is when we sometimes see the highest mortality rates. But as some diseases continue to mutate, their lethality decreases as they are transmitted from human to human (though sometimes diseases mutate in the opposite direction and become more pernicious before eventually withering out).
 
The history of diseases is replete with nasty outbreaks that eventually contain themselves, though to be clear - that sometimes takes decades (e.g. the Black Plague) or centuries (e.g. Yellow Fever), during which millions could perish. However, following the introduction of germ theory for disease in the 18th century and its global acceptance in the 19th century, we now know for the most part how diseases work - and we have spent the past two centuries building up our defenses and chronicling our discoveries, which helps us fight off major pandemics like the one we just encountered. That being said, make no mistake - if COVID had struck 100 years ago, the results would have been far more devastating than the 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic.
 
To sum up, there's no conspiracy here - it's simple science: if you take drastic measures to prevent the spread of one disease, you will more than likely prevent the spread of other diseases.
 
ANTI-VAXXER:
"Regardless, flu deaths were essentially ignored by the political agenda for COVID."
 
REBUTTAL:
Once again, that's completely untrue. Anyone working in any of the combined fields of science that were fighting COVID knew that anything that was done to prevent the spread of COVID would ALSO prevent the spread of other diseases like the flu, and anyone with a grasp of basic science - to include politicians - understood that simple concept. So the flu wasn't "ignored" during the pandemic - everyone knew that it would be contained better than ever before, which it was.
 
However, the question that you MIGHT want to ask yourself is, "Why is the flu ignored when there ISN'T a pandemic?" Given the numbers that I shared earlier, the annual flu season resulted in an average of 32 thousand deaths per year in the decade prior to the COVID outbreak, so why isn't anyone paying attention to THOSE deaths? And once again, the answer is simple: they are. The CDC is actively fighting the flu, and does its best to predict the flu variant each year, and millions of flu vaccines are shipped around the country/globe to fight off the flu as a result. Some years the CDC does a better job of predicting the flu variant, and infection rates decrease as a result.
 
However, according to the CDC, if you REALLY wanted to reduce the numbers of flu cases and/or deaths each year, you could... wash your hands, use hand sanitizer, practice social distancing, quarantine people who are infected, and even - [gasp!] - wear a mask. Of course, many people refused to follow any of those recommendations during the pandemic, so there isn't a snowball's chance in hell that they'll follow any of those guidances for the flu season. That being said, I've carried a mask in my laptop bag for years when traveling, and I've had no problems pulling that out and wearing it when someone seated next to me is horribly ill (and probably shouldn't have been traveling).
 
In other words, despite your beliefs to the contrary, the flu wasn't ignored during the pandemic. On the contrary, the effects of the flu were greatly marginalized due to the extraordinary measures that were enacted to combat the pandemic. However, even when there isn't a pandemic, the flu is still in the cross-hairs of the people we have who fight diseases.
 
ANTI-VAXXER:
"From my observation of the political 'used car' salesmen during the COVID panic, it is completely true. Never once heard one of them mention anything in reference to the annual flu season."
 
REBUTTAL:
There was no need to mention anything in reference to the annual flu season during the COVID pandemic, because - as I just said - everyone knew that the annual flu season would be contained better than ever before because of the extraordinary measures that were enacted to combat COVID. There's no need to mention something that has been totally negated, which - for all intents and purposes - the the flu was.
 
Flu deaths in the USA for 2020 were so small that the CDC has no real numbers to report, and flu deaths for 2021 were around 5 thousand - which was 85% below the annual national average. However, in that same time frame, COVID deaths were literally 220 times greater (e.g. 5,000 deaths for the flu vs 1.1 million deaths for COVID). So, yeah - you didn't hear about flu deaths during the pandemic because it was essentially a non-entity statistically, but you heard a LOT about COVID deaths because COVID was killing people at numbers that were exponentially higher than the flu. And you didn't hear anything about trying to prevent the flu during the pandemic because - as I have said several times now - everything that was done to prevent COVID was ALSO preventing the flu.
 
ANTI-VAXXER:
"We will have to agree to disagree."

As I said earlier, this discussion typifies the point that I was trying to make; despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, this anti-vaxxer was incapable of seeing anything beyond his paranoid, unscientific, and illogical perspective.

What a sad indictment of the quality of scientific thought in the 21st century.

Sad smile


UPDATE: This post was edited to fix a small math error that was in the original.

Standing Up to Bullies

In 1990, my wife and I were stationed in Germany with our daughters, Becka and Rachel, who were 5 and 3 years old respectively. Our two girls would play in the back yard behind our apartment, but every once in a while, the little boy across the street would come over and yell at Rachel to make her cry. Whenever my wife or I would run outside to see what was happening, the little boy would be trotting gleefully back across the street to his parents, who would pick him up and look at my wife and me with a shrug of their shoulders and a patronizing half-smile as if to say, "Boys will be boys." Their son was an only child, and he was quite clearly a spoiled brat.

I sat Rachel down one day when she was crying after the little boy's last attack, and I explained that the boy was a bully. I told Rachel that when he came over the next time, she needed to jump up and scream in his face as loudly as possible before he had a chance to do anything. Sure enough, a few days later we heard Rachel screaming at the top of her lungs, and we ran outside to see the little boy crying and running home to his parents, who were eyeing Kathleen and me with a look of horror on their faces. I gave them a sarcastic half-smile and shrugged my shoulders as if to say, "Girls will be girls."

But the best part was Rachel's reaction; as she watched that bawling brat run home to safety, her face was aglow with a combination of shocked surprise and total elation. She turned to look at me and said, "I did it! I yelled at him and he ran away!" At that moment, I realized that my daughter would never fall victim to a bully ever again. I may have taught her how to stand up to our neighbor's bratty kid, but she had won this battle entirely on her own. She was empowered.


POSTSCRIPT:

I should add, however, that the spoiled, little brat briefly paused in his withdrawal to look back at Rachel, who made her point undeniably by unleashing another round of high-powered war cries, and the sniveling little coward made good on his retreat and vanished into the safety of his home. He never bothered Rachel again.

Unionism, Socialism, Capitalism, and Communism

A few years ago, Ben Shapiro (like him or hate him) was speaking at a university, and a young Socialist stepped up to the microphone during a Q&A session to promote the related ideas of Unionization, Market Socialism (as opposed to political), and worker-owned businesses. The Socialist kept pressing the point that Capitalism is unfair to workers because workers provide all the labor for lower wages than business owners receive, which is classical Marxism at its best (or worst, as the case may be). The Socialist kept espousing what he thinks is "fair" with regard to wage gaps between the common worker and the CEO. Though to be clear, the young Socialist doesn't use the word "fair." Instead, he obscures that notion through a never-ending barrage of Socialist jargon. Nevertheless, that is his implication: Capitalism is "unfair" because workers do not earn as much as business owners.

However, Shapiro's answer provides one of the best explanations for why there is a logical reason for wage disparity, and I highly suggest that you watch it. There are two versions of this video: a shorter version (≈3:30) with just the highlights at https://youtu.be/3xq-q6a9tCM, and the full version (≈12:50) with the entire conversation at https://youtu.be/NUauABEnTZI. Unions are not a bad thing conceptually; the problem is that they often devolve into a bad thing in reality.

I have seen several situations where unions keep round-tripping back to the negotiating table again and again asking for benefits that are unnecessary (and I can cite examples), and the unions in these situations eventually force their parent businesses to become unprofitable (which is what has led to more robots on factory floors, self-checkout lines in supermarkets, jobs headed overseas, and self-service kiosks at fast-food restaurants). When unions demand higher wages for skills that are easy-to-train and therefore more or less expendable, businesses will do away with expendable laborers. (Either by outsourcing or automation, as I have just mentioned.) In a like manner, when unions demand benefits with significant costs from businesses like paid college tuition for workers' family members, six months of paid maternity leave, etc., these unions may force companies into bankruptcy. Don't get me wrong, paid college tuition and paid maternity leave are wonderful benefits to have, but when labor demands these types of things and profits cannot keep up with the increased expenditures, businesses are doomed to fail and everyone is out of work.

There was a greater need for unions a century ago, when modern labor laws had yet to be written and factories routinely abused their laborers. Times have changed, and everyone in the United States is in the top 1% of the world with regard to health, housing, employment, wages, etc. The quality of life in North America exceeds that of nearly the entire planet, and yet people still find room to complain - because people delude themselves into thinking that life is somehow "unfair" to them, which is typically because someone else has something that they want; either a higher salary, or a better job, a better house, a better car, a better spouse, etc. People want what they don't have, and that's what led to the "99%" riots a few years ago, and also to thousands of misguided Socialists and/or Unionists who decry their elevated global conditions as some form of suffering. Don't get me wrong, nothing is perfect and laborers still need representation to prevent potential abuse, but the irresponsible claims emanating from the mouths of most Unionists sound ludicrous when you take into account just how blessed some of the people doing the complaining really are.

As for Socialism, which typically goes hand in hand with Unionism and eventually devolves into Communism, let me take a moment to briefly editorialize. I have witnessed first-hand the many evils of Communism, which is why I cannot support anyone who is espousing either a Communist or Socialist system of government. While a logical argument can be made for socializing specific programs - such as healthcare - both Communism and Socialism are doomed to failure from their inception, because they seek to forcibly create "equality of outcome" instead of "equality of opportunity."

Everyone deserves an equal opportunity to qualify for the job they desire, and an equal opportunity to seek advancement within their respective places of employment. However, people deserve to be rewarded for their efforts, and if one person chooses to outperform their peers, they should be compensated for their efforts. Likewise, if someone chooses to accept greater responsibility within their company, or to step out as an entrepreneur and found their own company, they should also be compensated for their efforts. In a Capitalist society, they will be. However, in a Communist or Socialist society, everyone is forced into categories - often from which they cannot escape - and the outcome is dictated by the state. If Person A outperforms Person B, that doesn't matter; compensation must be the same for both people, for that is "equality" under Communism and Socialism. Of course, this system is untenable for those who are forced to suffer under it, which is why millions of people have fled Communist or Socialist societies over the past century, and millions more have been put to death or imprisoned when trying to protest their oppressive regimes. This is why most countries that adopt Communism or Socialism are forced to do so at gunpoint.

Most people who deride Capitalism do so because they have a misguided view of "fairness," which is generally an untrustworthy worldview. What is "fair" for Person A seldom seems "fair" to Person B if Person A has more than Person B, and therein lies the problem. In an equality of opportunity scenario, both Person A and Person B have the same chance to make more or less based on their personal participation, which is the ideal way of conducting society. However, in an equality of outcome scenario, if Person A has acquired more than Person B, that is forbidden by the state, and the government must intervene and force both persons to be "equal," which is not an ideal way to conduct a society.

This is what we have seen time and again with Communist or Socialist societies; they actively seek equality of outcome, and millions are forced to suffer as a result. The former Soviet Union, North Korea, China, the Warsaw Pact, and Cuba are just a few examples from the 20th century of what happens in an equality of outcome society. Even though barely a generation has gone by since the demise of the Soviet Union, there are thousands of gullible individuals who would gratefully embrace Communism and Socialism because they think that some part of their lives isn't "fair." These people are - as the Communists called them - "Useful Idiots." Such people hasten their own demise by failing to understand what they are promoting; as the old adage says, "Those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it."

I will now step down off my soapbox and back quietly away.

Thought for the Day (2022-08-19)

This isn't meant for anyone in particular, but still... a few people should ponder this excerpt as they start their day.

"Above all, don't lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to such a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love..."

--Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky ("The Brothers Karamazov")

Vasily-Perov-Dostoevsky