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Yesterday, ol’ Robbo got round to reading Kevin D. Williamson’s new book, The End Is Near and It’s Going To Be Awesome:  How Going Broke Will Leave America Richer, Happier, and More Secure.  I like Williamson’s stuff over at NRO and had heard great things about this book, so I felt it worthwhile to pick a copy up over at the devil’s website.

Well.

The book is a good, succinct, lucid account of the socio-economic collapse which I am now almost positive will be upon us in the next fifteen to twenty years thanks to the modern entitlement state, demographics and the iron hand of simple math.

It is also a damning critique of Leviathan, arguing persuasively that we are not now, in fact, a republic in which the government rules by consent of the people, but instead a Mafioso protection racket with a thin veneer of respectability thrown over it.

It further argues that, contrary to teh progressivist straw-man that those rejecting Big Gub’mint want to go to a Hobbesian state of every-man-for-himself-and-the-devil-take-the-hindmost, many, indeed most services offered or promised by said Big Gub’mint can be provided more efficiently, more ethically and more humanely by overlapping and integrated layers of private and semi-private organizations – churches, mutual aid societies and the like.

It then proceeds chapter by chapter to suggest various ways in which this might be accomplished with respect to things like social security, health care, education and even law enforcement.  (I particularly like Williamson’s dig at Holy Mother Church for supporting Obamacare and then being shocked, shocked at getting snake-bit over mandatory employer coverage of birth control and abortion.  As the They Might Be Giants lyric goes, “Can’t shake the devil’s hand and say you’re only kidding.”)

And yet…..

As I was reading, I kept thinking to myself, “Yes, yes.  This all makes lots of sense to you and me.  But how are you going to sell it to the Low Information Voters, the Bread and Circuses crowd, the 47%, the Free Shite Army?”  Williamson doesn’t seem to get much farther than suggesting that we have to be intelligent and careful and make sure to get it right.**

So, in other words,

Step 1 – Collapse of Progressivist Leviathan

Step 2 – ?

Step 3 – Profit!

I don’t mean to be unduly harsh.  As I say, I think the book states the current problem and some very sound academic solutions quite well.  But I’m reminded of a passage from Peej O’Rourke’s Parliament of Whores (which, by the way, TEIN closely mirrors in a number of ways).  Peej is talking to a woman living in some god-awful housing project in New Jersey:

“What if,” I said, “you and the other tenants had a chance to buy your apartments, no down payment, with mortgage and maintenance no higher than the rent you’re paying now.  Then you could control the building, get rid of muggers and drug addicts and order repairs and renovations yourself.”

“I’m not going for any of that,” said the woman.

“But you’d own something,” I said, “You’d be building equity.  You could sell it later and make a profit.”

“I’m not going for any of that,” said the woman.

“But you wouldn’t be at the mercy of the housing authority, the city council, all those people.  You’d be a property owner.  You could tell THEM what to do.”  And I told her about various other advantages that would accrue to her and her family through privatization – all very good arguments for the case, I’m sure.

The woman looked up at this seven-story sewer in the sky that she lived in and looked back at me like I was a big idiot and said, “I’m not going for any of that.”

The collapse, as I say, is coming.  And hopefully, when what’s left of us go to rebuild, Williamson’s ideas (behind which – although he doesn’t say so- I catch a distinct whiff of the Catholic social doctrine of subsidiarity) will be adopted.  But between now and then I fear it’s going to get mighty ugly.   Perhaps the subtitle of the book should be amended to include “Eventually – In the Meantime, Praise the Lord and Keep Your Powder Dry.”

**UPDATE:  I guess I should be clearer about this.  The book does, in fact, discuss the transfer of sovereignty from a static, centrist model to a kind of market-drive merit one that encourages innovation, refinement and improvement and rejects what doesn’t work, and even shows some small scale examples of the way this is being attempted in some areas even now.  (For instance, with respect to education, one sees the growing trends of homeschooling, voucher programs and online degrees.)  It’s fascinating stuff.  But anyone keeping up with the headlines knows that Leviathan is not going to let go its power without a serious, to-the-death fight.  At the same time, much of the population won’t even be aware of what’s going on until some kind of major catastrophe – like a can of soup suddenly costing $100 – hits.  Will we, as a people, be able to smoothly, sensibly readjust our entire attitude toward the relationship between State and Citizen under such circumstances in able to implement this transition?  I’m a bit dubious simply because I think Leviathan’s I-spit-at-thee arming of the Genesis device will be to turn the mob loose on that very part of our society capable of such implementation.

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I have read numerous “scientific” articles which claim that while stink bugs are a household infestation nuisance during the wintah months, once summah comes around they move outside to do whatever it is that stink bugs do au natural.

My friends, I am here to tell you that those articles are incorrect.

The neighborhood of Port Swiller Manor reached spring-like conditions a good five or six weeks ago.  And Heat Miser appeared with a whoop and a holler this past week.  Yet it seems that, if anything, the number of stink bugs in the house has increased.

Feh.

Perhaps I’m bitter about this because in my early-awake drowsiness this morning I felt something prickling on my elbow and gave it a hearty whack.  Turned out to be a stink bug.  And he stinked me real good.  Yuck.

On the other hand, I suppose I can’t complain too much.  Something similar happened to sistah during our misspent yoot back in Texas, only it turned out to be a scorpion.  Got her three times on the hand and face before she even really knew what was happening, as I recall.

Still, we hates stink bugs.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Regular friends of the decanter will recall that I occasionally post here about Jenny, the elder (and I mean very elder – she’s well into her 18th year) of the two cats who deign to grace Port Swiller Manor with their presence, demanding royal treatment from us house servants.

Well recently ol’ Jenny has started to impress her immense age and failing faculties on us via a distinct uptick in the number of times in which she refuses to avail herself of the litter boxes at her disposal and instead sneaks off to take care of her biznay in remote corners and behind various chairs.

In addition to the distasteful matter of having to clean things up, the smell of apres chat is beginning to become somewhat too pervasive, even for tried old pet-owner campaigners as Mrs. R and self.  As a result, Mrs. R set out to discover a means by which we might persuade Jenny to cease her out-of-bounds latrinal forays.  (A very, very small voice somewhere inside my head suggested pitching the argument that maybe this is the time to start thinking about sending Jenny to “the Farm”, but I have so far not listened to it, nor relayed its whisperings to the Missus.)

Anyhoo, in answer to her requests for suggestions, someone among her vast network of armchair pundits suggested that cats, for whatever reason, hate tinfoil.  Loathe it.  Avoid it at all costs.  Therefore, she ought to lay down squares of the stuff in all the places about the house Jenny has deemed fair to foul.

When Mrs. R relayed this tip to me, my first reaction was to suppose that, even assuming this feline tinfoil aversion to be real, what would stop Jenny, upon discovering the stuff in her usual haunts, from simply shifting operations elsewhere?  Plenty of target zones in this house.  An answering voice in my head said, “Well, Mrs. R would then feel it necessary to lay down more tinfoil in those spots.”  Mulling the thing further, I was suddenly rewarded with a vision of Jenny racing about Port Swiller Manor, a needful look on her face, pursued by Mrs. R frantically waiving a roll of Reynoldswrap, until the floors of the place  were one, vast, gleaming sheet of shiny silver.  At that point, I confess, I started to snigger.

“What?” said Mrs. R.

“Oh, nothing,” I replied.  “Tinfoil.  Sounds good.  Just one thing – be sure to save enough to line your hat! Oh, ha ha ha!”

A gentle lob like that over the net and you think I’m not going to smash it for all it’s worth?  Puh-lease.

“Yes, funny.  But what of chivalry, old boy?  This is your wife, after all,” you might be thinking.

Well, let me tell you a little story apropos the lob metaphor.

Waaaaay back in 1993, a month or two before we were to be married**, Mrs. R and I travelled to The Homestead for the first and only Virginia Bar Association annual meeting I ever attended.   Mrs. R had graduated from Sweet Briar the previous summer where she was, among other things, captain of the varsity tennis team.

I, personally, have never been a tennis player or had much interest in the game, although I took some lessons as a kid.  As a result, I know little technique and almost no strategy.  However, during our courtship, Mrs. R and I would venture out to the courts on a fairly regular basis to play a gentle set or two.  Mrs R, being an infinitely better player than self, would indulge me by confining herself to the tennis equivalent of gentle sparring while I flailed about the court and a good time usually was had by all.

Amongst the extracurricular activities on offer at this Bar meeting was a mixed doubles round-robin.   Taking advantage of my pre-nuptual infatuation, Mrs. R somehow persuaded me to sign up for the thing along with her, assuring me that it would be a lot of fun and that there was no shame to be derived from my uber-novice status.

Well.  I don’t recall anything of the first round or two I played.  All I remember is that at some point I found myself and my partner matched against Mrs. R and hers.  Suffice to say, it was readily observable that there were three real tennis players on that court, and then there was me.  “Oh, well,” I thought to myself naively, “Soon-To-Be Mrs. R knows my weaknesses and limitations and, although she’ll probably worst me, at least she will go fairly easy.”

Ha.

Ya got that?

Ha.  HA.

This woman, who had so recently pledged her troth, who in a few short weeks would promise in the sight of God to love, honor and obey, proceeded on that court to flay me alive.  Knew my weaknesses and limitations?  Oh, yes she did.  And used ’em without mercy.  In particular, I recall that she played cruelly on my inability to deal with shots aimed at my feet.  It was brutal.

Curiously, I believe it wasn’t until we were all shaking hands after I had led my partner to ignominious defeat that Mrs. R even realized who it was she was playing against.  I recall that she gave a curious little double-take, as if to say, “Hullo, what are you doing here?”

Since that day, I have point-blank refused ever to put myself across a net from Mrs. R.  (I believe this is a not-uncommon phenomenon among golfing couples, too.)   Instead, I get in my overhead smashes, such as the one above, on ground of my own choosing.

So there you are.

**Yes, our 20th anniversary is coming up in about three week or so.  More on that when we get there.

 

 

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