The Oddities of Life

Oddities, what an odd word in itself.

In my younger days I was right-wing. At the time I would have been very much in a minority amongst my age cohort and in the wider community. Socialism seemed the way of things then. Everyone I knew was benefiting one way or another. The Unions were insisting on high wage increases, the farmers were insisting on price increases and the professions were demanding that they held their place. I thought this was nuts. It required an ever-increasing cohort of unemployed to sustain it. I know it’s an odd way of putting it but it is the truth. So rapidly we had wages at £1000 per week, tax at 65%, insurance another 10% and the unemployed starving on £10 a week. This just had to implode. And it did. It happened in the UK first, then in the USA. So by the end of the 80s the 60/70’s workers utopias remained only in the dreams of militant lefties kept around as a sort of nostalgic endangered species.

Of course, I was right-wing in other things also. I got my Guns and Ammo and a few other mags. So would fit it very well with the NRA types. Still would fact be told. My religion would have been very Catholic. And my diet bland.

This changed over a period of a few years. Leastwise, a change occurred. I’m not so certain that I changed as things round about did the changing. The first of these would have been the murder of Archbishop Romero and then when JP2 castigated Ernesto Cardenal the  Sandinistas minister kneeling before him on an airport apron I knew I couldn’t keep my earlier stance and live with myself. Frankly I think for many people who would have been staunch Catholics the savage ignorant position of the Vatican during JP2’s pontificate on Central America is the cause of the rump of a church you see today.  And while I remain Catholic, I’m one of those that will argue the toss with Jesuits, dismiss Franciscans as idiots and consider diocesan priests as little more than procurers. On that last point there has been numerous reports.

The economic situation was somewhat different. There some of the unions were exempt while others  wiped out. The difference was stark. Blue collar and you’re gone. This is seen from the Urals through the Seattle. Usually called the rust belt. However any unbiased look at these industries would have told that they were out of  date. In some cases by 100 years. There were coal mines hunting seams three and four ft wide and as much high. Ludicrous. While the steel industry in all areas except Japan and Germany was working to pre first world war specifications. This was true into the late 80’s. ( a NZ friend was involved with building a small oil refinery and they couldn’t get metals pure enough from UK sources)

The exempt unions, the white-collar, the professions, the civil service.  These are for the most part protected by the State. Directly as with the civil service or indirectly with income floors. Where the State sets a level it will pay a lawyer for public defending or a doctor for treating those with public insurance. Since the State is by far the largest customer for all services it de facto sets levels. That it never exercises its power as a preferential customer is beyond me.

Farmers in Europe are an odd group. They, on the face of it, are businessmen/women like any other. But they are deemed deserving of supports denied to even the most deserving and needy. There is a concept of food security. This concept derives from the same family as Lebensraum. Which sees food not as a traded commodity but as a weapon. Think the middle east after the oil has gone and you get the idea. Anyhow, it’s something that on paper seems a darn good notion. But on the ground all it does is lift the cost of everything by the exact amount of the subsidy. So from feed for cattle to John Deere tractors will have the EU stipend built-in. NZ jettisoned most of this craziness in the early 80s. They saw that permanent subsidy was nothing more than ludicrous transfer.  It is one thing for a window of say five years where cash is injected. And it is one thing for small farmers to get income support to keep them in the countryside. But all farmers without regard to size in receipt of economic transfer is downright insane.  But try saying this to any of them.

Today, am I right or left. Frankly, I don’t know. Mostly I’m on the left, I would say. But whether a function of age or intelligence I tend to take my stands one at a time. I don’t call myself Catholic. Not because I’ve decided otherwise. But I think Christian gets far nearer the mark for its lack of exclusion. I still detest Unions when they use their clout to act as gatekeepers. In this I include the medical and legal communities together with all the other professions that set numbers. But where they protect people from being screwed then I’m a staunch defender. On my gun nuttiness, well, I don’t really care anymore. I do think the position in the USA is lunatic. Gun ownership, yes. Home possession of side arms, oh so very much no. What with the guns and alcohol, it’s a wonder anyone is still alive.


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11 Responses to The Oddities of Life

  1. Kelly says:

    Funny how our opinions change/mature as we age. I hesitate to label myself, as I’m not sure the same labels (liberal/conservative, left/right) are globally accepted. Besides, it all depends on the issue. My husband and I agree on many issues, but there are a few I’m on my own. And I’m happy to say my kids have all been raised to embrace their own opinions. It’s interesting watching theirs change as they enter different phases of their life. 😉

    You can probably guess some of my stances just from reading my blog, though I try to keep it pretty neutral when it comes to “opinions”. Still…if you browse my tags at the bottom you’ll see a few topics I’ve expounded on here and there. My silence is, in part, due to the fact I have trouble expressing myself at times and do not debate well. Add to that, I’m married to a “master debater”!

    Anyway….I liked getting a little insight into your thoughts and how they’ve evolved.

    • Vince says:

      Oh very much so, there is a real distinction between the left of Ireland and the left in the UK, and France something else again.
      But we outside the US don’t really see the economic distinction. We see a socio-religious one where abortion is concerned but very little else. On tax, one is a bit easier than the other. While the BIG GOVERNMENT controversy, the real skinny there is the republicans are far far FAR more inclined to deploy Washington’s dollars than are the democrats. But I think people really know this. And the way cash gets distributed with Congressman X(R) and Congresswoman Y(D) both shoveling from the same committee. It’s basically a horse that can be sold twice and in different directions.

  2. R. Sherman says:

    I’m not sure what the definitions of “Left” and “Right” are these days. I used to be a Democrat, until about 2003 when I finally tore up my party membership card. Philosophical inconsistency sends me fleeing for the exits. I suppose as evidence of this, I’ve been derisively called a “neocon,” and then complimented for my “progressive” views, at the same social function by the same person.


    • Vince says:

      Did either of them have a philosophy. I would have thought our Fianna Fail took their political artistry from both R’s and D’s in their simple dedication to Power. Granted the lot here really really…… Well the IMF was called in on their watch. And frankly, I don’t really see any hunger for power that would control the disparate and snaffle the political whack-a-doodles. But then, that seems to be contagious.
      Just how exactly in a grouping of 50 or so million Republicans they came up with this current offering.

  3. Kimberly says:

    Selecting a stance issue by issue seems the most logical way to go about it. I tend to lean left as well but not on everything. I think it’s the all or nothing approach that got us in the mess we are currently in here. Not being able to admit that there are flaws on each side of the issue and that there may be good points on each side as well, in my opinion, is what is shooting us in the foot (possibly with the firearm obtained due to weak gun control laws).
    I’m required to be part of a union for my job. We are currently in contract negotiations with our school district, and it’s so ridiculous. Our state is broke and taking money away from the schools by the truckloads, but our union sits at the table fighting for a raise the same day teachers are getting their pink slips. Collectively, if we agree to 3-5 furlough days next year, those teachers will get their jobs back. However, those at the table are against taking those days as they are not willing to lose even a day’s pay to save someone else’s job. Who knows, maybe I AM a socialist, but I’m willing to sacrifice a little so someone else doesn’t lose everything. I know there used to be a need for the unions, and there may still be, but in my experience, those who are in charge of them tend to be out for themselves rather than the whole group. By definition, at that point it’s no longer a union which is probably where the negativity of the unions stems from in the first place.
    A lot to think about in this post.

    • Vince says:

      There is a very real difference between front line State employees and the plethora of mid range analysts and statisticians you find populating the western Civil Service, any of them.
      What’s forgotten is that there is more need for teachers during a recession or depression than at any other time. People need retraining.
      The all or nothing, I think that’s OK if there is a real politic behind it. But in general most of them haven’t the Mind for it. Yes, you have the venal savage that deploys the animal aspect of self who will find resonance much of the time. But won’t have that grain of humanity that will lift them. And following, won’t have the feel for either people or situations.
      I think that’s part of the problem with most Unions. The type of mind required to navigate the structure is the very mind you definitely don’t want at the upper echelons.

  4. Shrinky says:

    I’ve always voted Liberal, except for that one time in my youth when (mis-guidedly) I cast for the Green party – but frankly, my choices have hailed more from laziness than from any conviction. I did once queue to see my MP at his surgery – what a complete waste of a good afternoon that turned out to be. I think I’m not alone in feeling the UK political system is so far removed from involving the likes of Joe Bloggs and me, in the decisions they make for us, it is often hard not to disengage and tune out. Interestingly, since moving to the Isle of Man, which is self-governing (usually falling into line with UK policy on major issues), I’ve had some of my faith restored insofar as feeling I actually do have a (small) voice over matters that concern me. Our MHK’s, the equivalent to UK MP’S, are required to publish their home telephone numbers in the directory, as well as their address! I phoned my local MHK when my disabled son was denied a place in a special needs school unit, because it was out of our catchment area – he called over for a cup of tea within the hour of my placing the call, and painlessly cut through the red tape for us, like magic. Like any institution, the larger a government is, it seems to me the more cumbersome it becomes.

    • Vince says:

      I was born in the UK and lived there for many years so I keep an eye on the goings-on/doings over that-a-ways. And I suppose the LibDems would be a semi natural home for me. But you’d have to say voting LibDem is more a function of stubbornness than any real expectation, til very lately. 😀

      We have that local connection with our TDs. It can be a boon. But in reality these are the gobshites that put the system in place.

  5. Ed says:

    I not sure what direction I ever was. All I know is that I bristle whenever someone tries to put me in a category. For most of my life, I was an independent on my voter registration but the last couple cycles I switched to Republican just to take part in the nomination part of elections. Despite being labeled as a Republican in my district’s eyes, I have yet to vote for a Republican candidate for President.

    What a complicated world when we try to make things black or white.

  6. Rebecca S. says:

    Enjoyed reading all the thoughtful comments! I believe in the basic idea of unions and what they have done for working people in general, but my husband is a manager of a large contingent of unionized employees and whew! what some of them are willing to do to get their way…Kimberly’s comment was right on the money with some of the attitude. Still, I deplore a government that takes away a worker’s right to strike because it counters democracy somehow. Oh, so many complicated issues!

    • Vince says:

      The problem with Unions, those that need them don’t have them. And those that have them deploy them dangerously. Governments are afraid to set minimum wages in an erroneous belief that it will halt investment. But the reality is investment is not dependent on the wage bill. But on the return. Basically if an investor is getting high return he expects high risk. He just needs to know what his risk is as near as can be done.

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