Tuesday, May 27, 2014

I think we should stop giving these mass murderers exactly what they want

Matt Walsh writes:

I won’t put his picture on here or link to his stupid YouTube videos. I won’t give you excerpts from his “manifesto” or tell you about his boring, predictable biography.

It doesn’t matter, anyway. You’ve seen it everywhere by now. This man-child wanted to be famous, and now he is. He wanted to captivate the nation with his tedious, pitiful ramblings, and how he has. He wanted to be sexually desired, and his rampage has even accomplished that. He killed six people just to get attention, and the media is happy to oblige. What evidence do you have that he wanted to be famous, or that he killed "just to get attention"? From what I've read, it seems he was driven more by a thirst for revenge.

Indeed, whenever some depraved narcissist tries to elevate his lonely, meandering existence to mythological status, all he has to do is record a couple of videos and then go out and slaughter a few innocent civilians. Every time, the message we send is clear: OK. We will give you exactly what you wanted. We will plaster your face all over the news and our Facebook pages. We will talk about you incessantly for weeks. Your name will be known, while your victims remain nameless.

Why do we find evil so incredibly fascinating, when, in truth, it is one-dimensional and mundane? It wreaks havoc and causes great tragedy, but that does not make it some sort of cinematic, awe-inspiring thing.  But it does wonders for your stats when you blog about it.

But I suppose it’s useless to complain about it. Humanity has always seen something intriguing and mysterious in the banality of evil. That’s how it lures you in. That’s how it catches you, converts you, empties you out and turns you into nothing. And when you finally implode and disintegrate, everyone will stare slack-jawed and riveted. Your nothingness will seem so damned interesting to us.

So I will try not to contribute to The Coward’s legend you say, after writing 5 paragraphs about him as I make just a few points in light of his murder spree in Santa Barbara:

First, if you immediately attempt to use the mass killing of innocent people to score ideological points, you are demonstrating many of the same characteristics as the mass murderer himself. You are displaying the same kind of detachment, selfishness, callousness, manipulativeness, and lack of compassion, integrity, and empathy that ultimately drives people to do these terrible things.

There you have it, folks. Trying to understand the broader societal dynamics that contribute to mass killings (something that is far from a human universal), in an effort to prevent future killings, puts you on the same level as the people who actually commit the killings.

Matt, I know you have never been one for understanding, education, and research, but seesh, is that not a bit extreme?

You might be interested to know that one of the victims' fathers has said, "I don’t care about your sympathy. I don’t give a s--- that you feel sorry for me." And what does he want? What does he go on to discuss (still in the immediate aftermath of the shooting)? Gun control!

At any rate, Matt, despite what you say above, I do not doubt that you will take advantage of the opportunity to "immediately attempt to use the mass killing of innocent people to score ideological points" if it means you can say nasty things about feminists and argue against gun control. Ideology away!

Calm down. Get a grip. Go away. The bodies aren’t even in the ground yet. Shut up with your inane hash tags and your sickening, smarmy “See? I told ya so!” victory laps. It’s gross. It’s disturbing. People are dead and you’re coming up with cute Twitter slogans? Have we all completely lost our minds?

Yes, now is the time to be thoughtful, reflective, and post inflammatory rants on our blog sites. (Gotta pay the bills!)

It’s true that The Coward apparently hated women. He also hated men, his family, himself, and all of humanity granted, I haven't read many stories about this so there are plenty of things I could have missed... but are you sure he hated his family and all of humanity? Do you have evidence to back that statement up?. He lamented his lack of sexual experience in a series of YouTube videos and said he wanted to kill women to exact vengeance upon them for not sleeping with him. Ultimately, he murdered three women, three men, and himself.

That’s all it took for the liberal feminists to pounce. They trotted out their #YesAllWomen hashtag and declared The Coward to be a “symptom” of a larger issue. He’s an example of something all women have experienced, they say. See? SEE? LOOK AT US. FORGET THE VICTIMS. ALL OF OUR FEMINIST TALKING POINTS ARE VINDICATED!

HOW DARE THEY THINK ABOUT LARGER ISSUES!  Clearly the most productive and helpful thing to do is... well, 1) Write an angry blog post about all the poopy-pants people you disagree with; and 2) Cry a lot and do nothing to make our society better.

See, once again, maybe this is a case where your particular social position entails a certain limitation to the type of knowledge you have (though you could easily overcome that limitation by being empathetic and learning from the experiences of others, and all that stuff you hate so much). Maybe so many women are saying this is a symptom of a larger issue because they have heard the exact same statements that the killer made uttered by other men time and time again. Maybe they haven't been in a mass shooting, but maybe it is scary when someone they have rejected starts stalking them or harassing them. Or maybe they don't like being dressed down by guys whenever they decide they don't want to go on any more dates with them. Maybe it is hurtful to be called a "bitch" when they try to be honest about the fact that they're not interested.

And maybe, Matt, you, in your eagerness to show everyone how terrible feminists are, are forgetting all the victims of a type of violence that occurs with regular frequency but does not usually generate the same types of headlines as mass shootings. In fact, it is these same ideas (that women "owe" men something; that men are entitled to women and their bodies; that women are not people with their own thoughts, feelings, attractions, and preferences, but merely objects of male desire) that fuel violence against women at such a startlingly high rate. Are these victims not important? Do they not count?

They said he’s nothing but a product of a misogynistic culture. “Misogyny kills,” they said. Not “evil kills,” or “hate kills,” or “this particular individual kills” — just misogyny. Well, if you actually looked at the stats, you might understand.

The deranged psycho in California can’t just be a deranged psycho in California. He has to be a point. An example. A case study. A platform. We can’t weep for the lost and grieve with their families like you would be doing, if there weren't so many darn feminists to get so angry about! — we have to argue about the War on Women, as if this lunatic somehow exemplifies and illustrates the universal misogynistic feelings of all men everywhere.

I have to wonder whether the Eternal Victims who’ve used this tragedy to advance their feminist agenda ACTUALLY think that most or all or many men share even one shred of one crumb of one iota of this maniac’s views about women.  If you actually took a second to listen to what they are saying, then you would hear that their concern stems from the fact that, as I have already mentioned, they do hear the exact same statements made by other men on a regular basis, and the fact that sexual assault and harassment occurs at an alarming rate. Do they hate men so much sigghhhhh.... [legitimate concerns enter into Matt's distortion mill of a brain and come out as "they hate men" or they think it "exemplifies and illustrates the universal misogynistic feelings of all men everywhere] that they’ve convinced themselves we’re all one step away from murdering sorority sisters, or are they callously pretending they believe it because it makes for great propaganda (and it gives them something to do on a lazy Memorial Day weekend)?  And Matt: do you really believe that feminists hate all men or are conniving, would-be-world-dominators? Or are you callously writing these things in your blog because it makes for great click-generating propaganda and a good source of revenue on a lazy holiday weekend?

Sadly, I think the latter might be closer to the truth.

Most appallingly, I saw dozens of women on Twitter using this event as an opportunity to complain about the ‘sexism’ they’ve personally suffered we can all agree, it is so much more noble to use this event as an opportunity to complain about feminists (while making money! Weee!)   — like allegedly (women are notorious liars) not getting paid as much as their male coworkers, or being criticized for their skimpy attire. Suddenly, fashion and salary issues are put in the same category as cold-blooded murder. Truly, the narcissism and tone deafness of many in our society never ceases to amaze me. And Matt, are you not aware of all the sexual violence that occurs on a regular basis, or do you not put it in the same category as cold-blooded murder? Truly, your narcissism and tone deafness never ceases to amaze me.

A woman told me today that the point is this: he’s an awful man, and “awful men cause harm to all women at some point.”

Alright, sure, but I think this is a better way of putting it: awful people cause harm to all people at some point. This story no more ‘says something’ about men, than Andrea Yates or Aileen Wuornos or Jodi Arias say something about women. One lone mass killer doesn’t prove anything about a man’s nature anymore than your neighbor’s cheating wife proves something about a woman’s nature.

Besides, for every act of violence and cowardice a man perpetrates, a dozen men commit acts of courage and kindness. But you’ll notice that those men never get thrown on stage for examination. Liberal feminists never give them credit evidence?, or point to their virtues evidence?, or turn their valor into encouraging and supportive hash tags. If anything, they’ll find a reason to turn even the heroes into villains evidence?. It’s this propensity — this constant, relentless, soul-sucking cynicism — that will forever make the purity of their motives appear, at best, dubious.

Yes, Matt. There is no better way to respond to an act of hate than by saying lots of really hateful things about an entire group of people.

Second, and in the same vein: this has nothing to do with gun control.  And now follows a quick summary of every tired, clichĂ©d argument against gun control. At least it really is quick.

The Coward killed three people with a gun and three with a knife. He shot several more, and injured several others with his vehicle. If this proves anything, it proves that murderous people will use any tool at their disposal to carry out their violent fantasies.

He left ten crime scenes in his wake, and committed dozens of crimes in the process. None of these laws prevented the massacre, because laws can do very little in the face of men who care not for the law nor their own safety.

Third, let’s not allow all of the talk about sexism, gun control and mental illness to distract from one simple fact: this man chose to do what he did. Selfishness lies at the root of his crime, just as it lies at the root of all evil.

I know I’ve referred to him as a “psycho” and a “maniac,” but please understand those words to be reflections of my modest vocabulary, not literal descriptions of the killer’s mental state.

He was not delusional. He understood what he was doing. He knew it was wrong, which is why he made efforts to conceal his plans. This was a coldly calculated mission to slaughter innocent people and gain worldwide fame. Nothing about its planning or execution leads me to believe that he should be let off the hook by these assumptions that he was somehow too “ill” to comprehend his own actions.

It makes us feel better to reject the existence of evil and consider all maliciousness and brutality to be mere symptoms of mental diseases. This way, tragic events like these become easier to manage, easier to understand, and easier to cure.

Matt Superhero Psychologist doesn't need research or knowledge of any kind to accurately know everyone's mental states!

But the truth is more difficult. The truth is that, sometimes, perfectly sane and rational people do terribly violent and sickening things.

Now, I suppose all evil is, in some ways, insane. It’s insane because it’s self-destructive, and to destroy one’s self is about the most unnatural thing one can do. Yet this insanity is self-imposed. We dive in, and sink gradually into it. We can choose to swim back to the surface at anytime. It is of our own accord that we plunge deeper and deeper.

So I don’t think this guy was insane in the sense of being the victim of some unfortunate psychological phenomenon. I think he was a rational human being committing evil acts because he chose to commit evil acts.

For the record, I do think there are prevalent attitudes and beliefs in our culture that contribute to fueling situations like this. We are a godless, materialistic, death-obsessed society, and there’s no doubt that hatred and fear will grow more rapidly in such an environment. But that does not make The Coward a “product” of anything. Not of society, not of misogyny, not of mental illness, nor video games, nor Hollywood. He is (was) a human being, and humans are dynamic, powerful creatures with free will and the ability to choose right over wrong. We are not products. We are not puppets. We’ve done what we’ve done because that is the path we have chosen.

This individual chose his path.

That’s his story — the story of The Coward and his cowardly crime.

And I think that’s all that needs to be said about him.

So, there's nothing we can do about this because it is caused by evil people. Well, maybe our godless society is somewhat responsible (damn you, feminists!). But no, not really.

___________________________________________

Recap of Matt Walsh argument:

Matt says we shouldn't give the killer more attention, and proceeds to write a blog post that contains many more paragraphs devoted to the killer than to the victims. He briefly mentions something about weeping and crying for the victims, but seems to be much more upset about what feminists are doing. He says we should not use the incident to further ideological agendas, and spends a vast majority of the post complaining about feminists and gun control laws - and, I don't doubt (though I'm not brave enough to look this time), spurring his followers to do the same in the comment section.

Many women heard the words spoken and written by the killer and recognized them as the words uttered by so many other men who have committed acts of violence and harassment against them. They sought to bring attention to this issue, which continues to produce many female victims. Matt, under the pretense of showing concern for victims, ironically tells the people who have been or are more likely than him to be victims of sexual violence that their efforts are "inane," "sickening, smarmy," and "gross." He berates them for their "narcissism and tone deafness" (oh, irony), their "relentless, soul-sucking cynicism," and their dubious motives.

But feminists should also thank Matt for so clearly demonstrating the hateful attitudes that women have to put up with on a regular basis.

If Matt really felt that the killer should not receive any attention and that the tragedy should not be used as an ideological platform, then Matt would not have written about it. At all.

Let's not kid ourselves. Matt's more interested in making money off of hate.

I hate porn because I hate child abuse and sex slavery

Just one point that I want to make. While I don't disagree with the overall sentiment and accusations Matt levels at the porn industry, nevertheless, it strikes me how he is not even capable of critiquing exploitation without simultaneously expressing negative attitudes toward women (shocking, I know!). He says women do porn because they want the attention (he can't conceive of economic reasons, or of their hopes that, given the large volume of porn on the internet, people they know won't ever see it). These women are not even bothered at all by bullying. Well then, why do they want to do it? They are defective human beings!  Specifically, they are "psychologically and spiritually tormented." Interestingly, when a guy kills a bunch of people on his college campus (see next post), Matt rejects psychological reasoning. He says mass murderers (men) are rational individuals making purposeful decisions, and we should not discuss their mental health. But when a woman stars in a porn video, there is no end to the psychological and mental defects that Matt is willing to diagnose her with.

Once again, I looked at the comments, and you can see Matt's attitudes toward women bearing its fruit in the fan base he is establishing:

"While on the face of it your comments are valid, it’s not so cut & dried. I spent the first decade or more of my marriage in sexual torment because my wife had zero interest & would just lay there & actually prevent herself from getting aroused (ie lubrication was mandatory).

 Obviously the sex was horrible most of the time & I was deeply hurt & became very bitter.
Furthermore, she tended to come unglued during that time of the month which didn’t help matters.
Masturbation was a way to get some satisfaction & I turned to porn to make it really satisfying.
Another decade later & I view porn in spurts as I have no desire for my wife. Sometimes I’ll go weeks without because my desire is is just generally getting less but I have essentially been conditioned that my wife isn’t the person to have good sex with.

If I had the choice to have it different, I would. I feel bad at times when I view it & would want to be hot for my wife but my point is that porn is sometimes the resultant of & not the cause of marital issues.

 A man has needs & those needs are strong so if his wife chooses to not care, he makes his choices right or wrong-some sleep around on their wife & others go the porn route, however wives aren’t blameless either."

Bravo, Matt. I see you are keeping yourself in good company.


Matt Walsh writes:

I bought a diamond ring for my wife.

I saw it at the store, I didn’t think I could afford it but the woman behind the counter told me it was on sale. She said they had to discount it because most customers are refusing to buy it.

“Why?” I asked.

“Well, because it’s a blood diamond. It was mined in a conflict zone and sold to fund the activities of a brutal warlord. It was probably extracted out of the ground by child slaves. There’s probably a lot of misery, death, rape, and suffering that brought this diamond from a mine in Africa to a jewelery store in Baltimore.”

I was disgusted. I passionately oppose child slavery and violent African warlords, I insisted to myself.

But… Then again… Man, that diamond sure is pretty. And it’s cheap! So affordable! See how it sparkles!

Anyway, it looks really nice on my wife’s hand. Don’t judge me. I don’t endorse or condone all of those bad things; I just chose to potentially help fund them because I enjoy the fruits harvested from those bad things.

Make sense?

Are you convinced?

Me neither.

Honestly, I’m trying to trick you. I wanted to get you on board with the basic premise that we should not knowingly contribute to or condone brutality, rape, and exploitation, even if we enjoy whatever sparkly, attractive pleasures these atrocities might produce.

I wanted you to shake your head in dismay over my callous disregard for these injustices, so that the momentum might keep you shaking your head when I change the subject to a different kind of blood diamond: pornography.

Let me say upfront that I am biased. I hate porn.

I’m a man in modern society, and I still hate pornography. I don’t hate it because I’m some sort of morally righteous saint (far from it); I hate it because I understand it. I hate it because I’m honest with myself about it.

Believe me, I’d prefer not to hate it. I’d rather live in the convenient reality that pornography apologists so unconvincingly attempt to construct — the one where porn is just an innocent bit of fun, and our porn habits exist in some kind of vacuum, completely separate from all of the dark, seedy, repulsive things that fuel the industry.

That’s a fun world. An easy world. A world that requires less energy and thought. I wish that world was more than a fantasy or a rationalization — but it isn’t.

Here on Earth, the situation is more complex and challenging. Here on Earth, we have to deal with stories like this.

Alyssa Funke was a 19-year-old college student. She recently appeared in a porn, and she even more recently hanged herself.

image

The media has concentrated their coverage on the fact that Funke was ‘cyber bullied’ after she was ‘outed’ as a porn star. Of course, saying someone has been outed as an internet porn star is like saying I’ve been outed as a blogger. My site gets millions of views. I have my picture at the top. I make money from this website. Obviously, I want people to see it. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have the picture, I wouldn’t have the site, I wouldn’t have the ads. I’d just keep my opinions to myself, or between myself and those closest to me.

If you don’t want your sexual escapades to be widely known, you probably wouldn’t have them filmed and put on the World Wide Web. The Huffington Post article on this incident breathlessly insists that people who appear in porn often value their ‘privacy.’

Needless to say, a ridiculous claim.

Indeed, privacy is precisely what you don’t want when you star in a porn. The real question is: why? What drives a person to publicly display such intimate things? What compels them to seek attention in this manner?

Police say that none of the ‘bullying’ messages and Tweets even rose to the level of illegal harassment. Funke herself actually took to Twitter to brag of her newfound fame shortly before she committed suicide.

The ‘bullied to the point of suicide’ narrative doesn’t seem to hold up.

But the media runs with it because they’re too cowardly and too dense to get to the heart of the matter. Alyssa Funke tragically took her own life for the same reason anyone does: because she hated herself.

And she appeared in a porn for the same reason.

It’s not that porn stars kill themselves when other people notice that they’re porn stars. It’s that porn stars are psychologically and spiritually tormented, which is why they’re porn stars in the first place.

This is obvious. We all understand this, even if we pretend otherwise. When you watch porn, you are watching desperate people resort to desperate and unhealthy measures. You are literally taking pleasure in their pain. Alyssa Funke was a self-destructive, depressed college student. If you viewed her porn, you viewed a cry for help from a suicidal young woman. Not so fun and innocent anymore, is it?

We jump through many hoops to get around this unavoidable reality. That’s why John Millward, a blogger and amateur porn-researcher, was received with much fanfare last year when he published a study which determined that porn stars only choose that profession because they “like to have sex.” Spectacular deductions, professor, but could there be more to the story? I like to have sex, too, but I don’t do it on camera for millions of strangers to watch. How do you explain that disparity?

Millward also says that the “stereotype” about porn actors and actresses often having a background of abuse and family turmoil is a “myth.”

How did he prove this? By asking them. He debunked the myth by using self-reported data from people who clearly desire to dispel the notion that their industry is kept running by mopping up and exploiting the shattered remains of abused and disordered men and women.

His scientific process consisted of this:

John Millward: “Hey, porn industry, does your business deserve any of the troubling stigmas attached to it?”

Porn industry: “Nope.”

John Millward: “Eureka! Myth debunked!”

Interestingly enough, when you ask someone who has left the business and is no longer financially dependent upon its success, you’ll hear a drastically different story.

Admittedly, it’s hard to conduct an accurate and honest study of porn and porn stars, because any such study would require the accurate and honest participation of the people currently invested in protecting the reputation and fortune of a multi-billion dollar business.

We can, however, turn to psychological science and begin to come to a few basic conclusions.
It is a well established fact that people who engage in risky sexual behavior often had a childhood rife with sexual, physical and emotional abuse. If you want to see one study among the thousands that demonstrates this link, click here.

We also know that starring in porn videos constitutes risky sexual behavior. Just ask the porn star who contracted HIV by having sex with a bleeding, HIV-positive man.

It doesn’t take a detective to connect these dots. There is no ‘myth’ associating broken homes and abuse with porn and prostitution. This is a self-evident, scientifically supported fact.

Pornography, like prostitution (and they’re really the exact same thing), relies on child abuse. Period. Without abuse and neglect, these industries wouldn’t have hardly any workforce at all. And we’re not talking solely about an indirect reliance on child abuse, either.

Child pornography is a multi-billion dollar cash cow. Porn viewers will tell you that they would never seek out child porn, yet they can’t explain how, precisely, they ensure that the participants in the sex acts they searched for on Google are all: A) of age, and B) engaging in this activity in a fully consensual manner.

There’s no way to be sure that the woman is a woman and not a 14-year-old child, and that she’s there of her own accord, and not because of drugs, or because she’s a victim of the massively expansive global sex trade.

Even if you were sure, it still wouldn’t be right. But you’re not. You know that you are not. And this point ought to weigh heavy on your mind. Why is it that Americans are concerned that their sneakers might have been stitched together by a 12-year-old in China, yet so unconcerned that the ‘consensual sex act’ they’re viewing online might actually be a very nonconsensual act of child rape?

The impossibility of discerning between children, and adults and consensual and nonconsensual, should be enough to convince any man (or woman) to try to fight the urge to sift through all of that filth and muck in search of respectable masturbation material.

Or, if not that, then the fact that even consensual porn isn’t really consensual, as the whole industry thrives on abuse and desperation.

Or, if not that, then the fact that most children are first exposed to porn at the age of 11. Considering that porn rewires your brain and changes how you view sexuality and romantic relationships, exposure at such a young age has a devastating impact that we haven’t even begun to understand.

Or, if not that, then the fact that porn causes great damage to current and future relationships. It grooms men to be adulterers, as evidenced by “cheating wives” being one of the top porn search terms in the world.

Or, if not that, then whatever other reason, of the thousands of reasons, that speaks to you when that quiet voice in your head tells you that porn is immoral and shameful.

We’re told to reject that voice, but I think it deserves a fair hearing for once.

That voice — our conscience — tells us that we should hate porn.

We should hate it because we hate abuse, rape, and exploitation.

We should hate it because women like Alyssa Funke need help — not a million wide-eyed, gawking, drooling voyeurs, just out to have an ‘innocent’ and ‘fun’ time on the Internet.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Congratulations, graduates: you’ve done exactly what you’re expected and legally required to do!

I started this blog because writing these responses is somewhat cathartic for me when I must be subjected to these links on my facebook newsfeed. If someone is already in the mindset to be enamored of Matt Walsh, I know there is nothing I can write to convince them otherwise. However, I will say it has been nice to see a few comments from other people, similarly frustrated by the assaults on their newsfeeds, who appreciate my responses. You are very welcome! Nevertheless, it can be time-consuming and just reading through an entire Matt Walsh blog post is often... not enjoyable. So, when he writes a post that is more silly than offensive, and doesn't require much comment from me, so much the better, for those reasons and more.

This time Matt chose to focus his culture warrior energies on the extremely important and urgent matter of graduation ceremonies. I took a gander at the comments (something I am rarely brave enough to do), and it seems that the limitations to his argument were so obvious that even many of his fans were able to point them out. They did my work for me! Hurray!

To summarize:

First of all, in keeping with Matt's tendency to discount the importance of social institutions (even of society/community in general), Matt cannot seem to comprehend the function of rites of passage. Why celebrate a milestone if it is something that everyone attains? If it doesn't make you "special," why bother recognizing it? If that is the case, as one of the commenters pointed out, we may as well do away with birthday parties too.

Second, Matt presumes that making it through school does not require hard work or endurance of any kind (including, as some commenters pointed out, putting up with social pressures and bullying)... OR, that hard work and endurance do not deserve to be recognized. If the latter, then Matt is essentially valuing accomplishment over effort. There is something to be said for both. Accomplishment is great, but some people are naturally inclined to achieve things more easily than others. Do we not value hard work and perseverance as well?

Third,  Matt sees the celebration of something that he, personally, views as meaningless as a symptom of the broader societal decay that he is so concerned about. Without any evidence whatsoever to back him up, he claims that kids are now raised "amidst constant preening, fawning, coddling, pampering, and congratulating" and that this will result in their ability to cope with life as adults, a dependency on recognition and flattery, and possibly even psychological issues like depression. In addition to the fact that he is declaring things to be true without doing any research, it is also unclear whether he thinks today's 23-year-olds are the maladaptive products of such an upbringing, or whether he is merely speculating about what will happen to the children currently being raised under these supposed conditions.

Finally, I think it is clear to everyone that Matt doesn't like graduation ceremonies because everything related to education sends him into a rage. However, I doubt he would have any problem with any of his readers clicking on the ads for graduation party supplies on his website so that he can tap into that ad revenue.

Matt Walsh writes:

America, listen, we need to talk.

I know we can’t agree on very much these days, but we should still be able to find some common ground somewhere.

May I suggest a starting point?

Graduation ceremonies. Specifically, graduation ceremonies for kids who aren’t actually graduating from anything at all.

Yesterday, one of my Facebook friends sent out a mass invitation to a “graduation party” for her son. I don’t know her, but clicked on it anyway. I was immediately impressed. A picture of her young child accompanied the description of the festivities. “Wow,” I thought. “That kid looks like he’s 11-years-old! If he’s graduating at that age, the little guy definitely deserves a party!”

And that’s when I noticed, to my sorrow, the words “elementary school.”

This was not, apparently, an occasion to celebrate a child so gifted and determined that he managed to complete 12 years of coursework before his 12th birthday, but rather an opportunity to pat a kid on the back for making the expected, required, and terribly non-momentous transition from 5th to 6th grade.

An elementary school graduation party; which, I assume, follows an elementary school graduation ceremony; which likely comes a few years after the kindergarten graduation ceremony; which is preceded by the pre-school graduation ceremony; which is the first in a long line of ceremonies, including the middle school graduation ceremony and the high school graduation ceremony. Before legal adulthood, these kids will be the subject of more ceremonial adulation than Medal of Honor recipients, despite the fact that their “accomplishments” don’t quite rise to that same lofty level.

Might I remind everyone that kids are compelled to finish school? A ten-year-old literally can’t do anything but make it to sixth grade. It’s required by law. You might as well throw me a party for wearing pants when I went to the post office this morning. Sure, a kid can be held back a grade, but eventually everyone will be pushed through the various stages of social promotion, because ‘no child’ can be ‘left behind.’

We raise our children amidst constant preening, fawning, coddling, pampering, and congratulating, and then scratch our heads and wonder why they eventually enter adulthood so entirely unprepared for the rigors and challenges of the real world.

“What?! I showed up to my job on time for a whole year, completed the minimum amount of work required, and performed at an overall standard, to slightly substandard, level — yet nobody’s handing me a ribbon or giving a lengthy speech heralding my many achievement?! Unacceptable! I’ve been bullied! I quit!”

We get them hooked on recognition and flattery at the age of three, and by the time they’re 23 they’ve become full-blown addicts. They develop a dependency on attention and affirmation, and can’t handle living in a universe that doesn’t stop to give them a cookie every time they complete some minor, routine task. This attention-seeking, “hey, notice me!” mentality can lead them down a dark path towards resentment, jealousy, depression, and Snapchat accounts.

And here I thought we’d reached the pinnacle of narcissistic absurdity back with the invention of the tee ball trophy. A trophy. For tee ball. I mean, have you ever seen tee ball in action?

It’s madness.

Kids running every which way. Players switching sides in the middle of the contest. The batter swings, misses, hits the tee, runs to second, the second baseman doesn’t see him because he’s too busy eating grass or making sand castles, the runner moves back to first, then cuts across the field to third, suddenly the first baseman runs home while the catcher heads to the dugout for a juice box. Then a whistle is blown, everyone applauds, and one of the moms hands out snacks.

There is no score. Nobody wins. Nobody loses. Nothing happens. There are no rules. There is no point. And everyone gets a trophy.

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A TROPHY. FOR TEE BALL.

It’s pretty bad, but this graduation nonsense is worse. To think of the two concepts together — to consider the scenario where a child attends his t-ball trophy ceremony a few weeks before his kindergarten graduation party — well, it’s more than I can stomach.

The whole charade is dishonest, really. We’re lying to these poor kids. Worse still, we’re diluting their real achievements (should they ever have any) by sounding the trumpet and sprinkling the confetti every time they tie their own shoes.

What happens when they actually earn the confetti and the trumpets? What happens when they cure male pattern baldness or rescue a baby moose from a wildfire or something? Our words of appreciation will be muted and muffled, as their ears still ring from the 87 parades we threw for them between the ages of four and fourteen.

What a tragedy.

But, I admit that I’m biased. This is all coming from the guy who even dislikes high school graduation ceremonies. Maybe I’m just a curdmugeon. Or maybe I don’t like them because they’re way too long, and my family can never leave early because our graduates are always at the end of the alphabet. Or maybe I’ve noticed that the pomp and circumstance all feeds into the faulty notion that you’ve somehow accomplished something just because you completed the steps you were mandated to complete.

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At the end of every high school graduation ceremony — staggering and gasping for breath after having spent 7 hours sitting on crowded bleachers listening to the principal mispronounce a lengthy list of names I don’t recognize — I feel like Tom Hanks in Saving Private Ryan.

Shot in the gut, bleeding to death, he looked up at Matt Damon and muttered, “earn this.” The point being that Private Ryan hadn’t actually done anything to earn the enormous amount of effort and sacrifice these other men assumed on his behalf. Similarly, high school graduates haven’t necessarily done anything to earn the steady stream of praise and adulation they’ve received throughout their childhood, culminating in this bloated, overlong pageant. They haven’t earned it, but now they can officially begin the task of paying off that debt (right after they go to the bank and take on another massive debt to help pay for college).

If I was ever asked to give a high school commencement address (which seems unlikely at this point), that would be my entire speech:

Graduates,

Earn this.
Thank you for your time.

It would be the shortest, and therefore greatest, high school graduation speech ever delivered.
And if I was somehow asked to give the keynote address at an elementary school graduation, I imagine it would go something like this:

Kids who are still seven years from being graduates,

Take off those silly robes and go do your chores.
Thank you for your time.

Succinct. Timely. Educational. It would be a fantastic speech for such a fantastically useless event.
So, needless to say, I declined the invitation.

OK, fine, I clicked “maybe.”

They’ll have free food — it’s not ALL bad.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Matt Walsh is too lazy to come up with his own ideas.

When I saw that Matt Walsh, in his latest post about Chelsea Manning, erroneously claimed she was receiving "special attention" and "fast-tracked" for treatment - and knowing of course, that Matt merely regurgitates the arguments of ideologues - I was curious where he got this bit of misinformation. Pretty quickly, I discovered the obvious (and only possible) source: Breitbart (known for journalistic integrity... *eyeroll*). However, what I didn't realize I would find was that Matt lifted the entire idea for his post from Breitbart. He acts like that VA-Manning comparison just came to him, but really he was getting his daily dose of brainwashing from Breitbart, picked an article, and added in some ill-placed and incoherent ranting about the government and the stupidity of the American public. Based on how little he changed Breitbart's wording, I would say this even borders on plagiarism.

(But Matt has better things to do with his time than construct original ideas and arguments. There are a lot of food service workers who need to be told that they aren't working hard enough, after all.)

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Veterans are dying, but at least this criminal still gets his sex change

Like usual I have added all my comments in red. However, I got the urge to underline all of the text from Matt's original post that is factually incorrect. I did this conservatively, and did not include any statements that were merely misguided, misleading, unsupported, or just plain odd (that would cover most of the rest of his post).

Matt Walsh writes:

Government is always political. Every agency, every department, every office. They’re all driven by politics. Always. Every time. You love that word "always" don't you?

There might be a few diamonds in the muck who really are interested in achieving the betterment of society, but they will either be drowned and obscured in a deep sea of clumsy self-interest, or eventually convinced to sell their souls for the sake of preserving their cushy — and often useless — jobs and lavish pension plans. That’s because the government does not exist to better society. We have celebrity doctors, Burger King’s new inspirational corporate marketing campaign, and self-help gurus for that. I don't know how to respond, because I don't even know what point you're trying to make here.

Government exists to perpetuate itself, like bacteria or the aliens from Independence Day. This is why the political wheel always gets the oil while the important things are left outside to rust. Really? I didn't realize the government was an organism that existed independently of a whole bunch of people with different aims and views. 

Maybe one day it will be politically advantageous for our politicians to do their jobs — but right now we have a voting base which is largely bored by mundane matters like taking care of our veterans and balancing the budget. We don’t want a president who performs his constitutional duties and manages his subordinates efficiently. So, the government sucks. And so do most of the people who live in this country. Man, we don't have much going for us. Is there anything in this country that doesn't suck? (Except, of course, for you and anyone who agrees with everything you say.)

YAWN. Totally un-sexy. Ohh, okay. Now I understand your blog. You believe people are bored by substance and reason, and you have to make a living, after all.

No, we want him to create massive healthcare entitlement programs, attack his political enemies every time he opens his mouth, appear on late night comedy shows, and chime in whenever a professional athlete comes out of the closet. This is an odd list. Making partisan statements, making appearances on various entertainment media, commenting on the random goings-on of the country - those are traditional "ceremonial" duties of an American president. Healthcare reform is a policy initiative... which is kind of exactly the sort of substantive thing you would expect a president to do, whether you agree with it or not.

That’s the sort of government that many people in this nation prefer, so that’s the sort of government we have. Are you actually trying to make the argument that the government we have is the government that most people prefer? Have you looked at opinion polls?  Anyway, if that were true, isn't that pretty much what "by the people, for the people" - i.e. the essence of democracy - is all about? On the other hand, you made it very clear in one of your most recent posts (in which you said you would be elated if most people didn't vote) that you're not such a huge fan of democracy. I'm guessing theocracy is more your style.  And that creates exactly the kind of cultural atmosphere where veterans in need of critical health care can be left to die on secret waiting lists, as an Army private and convicted felon gets fast tracked for “sex reassignment treatment.”  [UPDATE: When figuring out where this bit of misinformation came from, I discovered that Matt lifted the entire idea for this post from a Breitbart piece. (Which, of course, he does not cite as the inspiration for this post.) Such a paragon of integrity....]

I'm soooo confused. Your unparalleled logic must be too much for me. You are saying that the government is focusing on Manning's treatment (actually, not true; the media is) because the government, in an effort to perpetuate itself, only does what people want it to do. So everyone is really concerned about Manning getting treatment and the government is responding to those concerns. But also, as you argue in a previous post, the country is predominantly comprised of conservative Christians who are not so concerned about transgender issues.

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We know that over 40 veterans died after being neglected at a hospital in Phoenix — but this goes much deeper, and is a problem much wider, than that terrible statistic indicates. Well, actually, it is still unclear at the moment how much deeper and wider it goes. The latest reports I've seen indicate the media may have, to the contrary, overblown that statistic. In fact, veterans have been saying for years that the VA healthcare system is completely and totally broken, but nobody listened. Most veterans have rated the VA system favorably, as a matter of fact. Its patient satisfaction ratings are higher than other health systems. Also, I know of at least one case (supposed non-diagnosis or reversal of diagnosis of PTSD and brain injury) where the media distorted the issue at hand; it seems some of the media also might have it out for the VA system. Plus, you have to factor in the fact that Congress (pressured by citizens like you who object to government spending) has failed to provide adequate funding for VA health care, and the system, through no fault of its own, may no doubt be strained by all these recent wars....  Politicians spewed their platitudes and moved on to more urgent concerns, such as building a soccer field for Guantanamo Bay detainees.

This isn’t an issue that’ll get a lot of pop in the polls, one way or another, so they didn’t waste their time on it.  But hormone therapy issues definitely get people to the polls, obvs.

But, finally, the stories of corruption, incompetence, abuse, neglect, and general disarray in the VA system have made it, briefly, to the headlines. The reports still aren’t afforded the same press as the “news” about Beyonce’s sister smacking Jay-Z in the face, but you take what you can get at this point. Okay, I'll add that to my list. The government sucks. The American people suck. The media sucks. Oh, I also know from a previous post that you think BeyoncĂ© sucks. (I like how her name is autocorrected to insert the accent.)

Now, there’s plenty of angles to analyze on the VA scandal, but I think this one deserves a close inspection: Bradley Chelsea Manning, a convicted criminal**, was given special attention from the Pentagon, and will now likely be transferred to a civilian prison where he she can receive “treatment” for his her “Gender Dysphoria.”  Meanwhile, veterans and free citizens of the United States have waited for years, even until death, for legitimate medical treatment of life threatening physical ailments.

**First of all, I find it ironic that you keep calling Manning a criminal when the crime with which she was convicted was whistleblowing - i.e. making transparent things the government did - and this is after you spent so much of your post ranting about how much you hate the government. So, the government sucks. And people who expose the government also suck.

It is also worth pointing out that if Manning received any "special treatment" it was not the good kind. Like, being forced to spend the night naked, standing up (not allowed to sleep) during her pre-trial detention. Or, having to go through a military trial rather than civilian trial, which is not appropriate for a whistleblowing case, with all the lack of transparency that entails.

In fact, Chelsea did not get "special attention" from the Pentagon. By law, as upheld by numerous court decisions, prisoners are required to receive treatment for various conditions, of which Gender Dysphoria is one. So, this is nothing special. This is normal prison procedure. Hormonal therapy was deemed by the court to be more cost-effective than dealing with all the potential effects of leaving it untreated.

Never mind the fact that “Gender Dysphoria” is a disease only recently invented and added to the Diagnostic and Statical Manual of Mental Disorders after years of political pressure from anti-science left wingers. Good point. Since older diseases are more legitimate, I take bilious fever much more seriously than AIDS. In fact, I refuse to believe MERS even exists. Never mind that, without a salient scientific or medical reason to do so, the focus was shifted from treating the psychological delusions which lead a person to believe that they ought to be something other than what they unequivocally and biologically are, to treating the “distress” that stems from being a man “stuck in a woman’s body,” or vice versa. Now, rather than offer someone intense psychological and spiritual counseling to help them accept who they are, we give them hormones and mutilate their genitals to help them feel better about not accepting who they are.

Sighhh.. I'm getting kind of tired, what with my real jobs and all, but I guess I have to give you another science lesson. Biological sex is complex and determined by a variety of interacting chromosomal, genetic, hormonal, anatomical and environmental factors.  According to these scientists (in relation to gender verification in sports), "Sexual boundaries are not so defined and separated in two classes (male and female) as the society and sports institutions generally intend, being present a wide range of intermediate sexual conditions which have to be taken into account." Just at the chromosomal level, variations other than the common XX and XY types account for about 1-2% of the population. Just for comparison, redheads also comprise about 2% of the population (yet, we don't exclude redheads from what we consider normal human variation). Then there are all the other determinants of biological sex (I find this to be a fun, interactive educational website). 

So, biological sex is much more complex and variable than we commonly understand it to be. Then you have gender, which is the cultural meanings attributed to biological sex (e.g. associating long hair, dresses, beauty products, and the color pink with women, and violence, sports, cars, and darker colors with men.) I have gone through this a number of times now, and it's getting old, so I will be brief. Gender varies cross-culturally. It also has varied historically. No link has been found between culturally-ascribed gender differences and biological traits. Sometimes I run across dubious claims about testosterone, but you must be wary of those. Testosterone is notoriously difficult to study, from a behavioral standpoint, and the only scientifically valid studies that have been conducted (all on birds), which I have read, have been inconclusive. Based on the cultural and historical evidence, there is no reason to believe that gender is anything more than a cultural phenomenon.

Given all of that, it makes sense that a certain number of people will possess a whole bunch of natural inclinations that are in direct conflict with culturally prescribed gender stereotypes. It runs a little deeper than can adequately be solved by counseling and telling them to "get over it." If this causes the type of distress that leads to depression, anxiety, and suicide (it does), what's the big deal with giving them inexpensive hormone pills? Or calling them by their preferred names and pronouns?  Must we insist on making their lives miserable just because it doesn't fit into our unresearched opinion of how the world should work?

For more information about sex and gender, you can consult my favorite field, anthropology.

Never mind that. And never mind the smarmy sycophants who mock anyone who questions any part of Darwinian evolutionary theory, yet fall silent, or even join in, when the progressive chorus starts singing about how a man’s biological sex can be “changed” by giving him magic pills and cutting off his penis. Well, that's because a person's sex can, in fact, be changed through medical means. What does Darwinian evolution have to with this? Are you concerned that there are no means by which transgender people can have children (there are), or that the human population isn't increasing fast enough?

Never mind all of that. And never mind the quacks who take advantage of sick people by charging them exorbitant sums of money hormonal therapy is inexpensive to deform themselves in pursuit of a goal that is, in every sense, literally unattainable.

Never mind that. And never mind the fact that Bradley Chelsea Manning’s “treatment” will come on the taxpayer’s dime. It's an insignificant amount of money, and it's not any different than any other prisoner's health care. And never mind that Pentagon officials claim it would be “cruel and unusual punishment” to refuse to play along with Manning’s unfortunate hallucinations. It is considered cruel and unusual to deny medical treatment to prisoners. Medical professionals have deemed treatment for transgender individuals to be necessary, so take it up with them.

Never mind, also, that we’ve reached a point where “transgendered” folks get to be included under the civil rights banner, further proving how little respect progressives have for the historical plight of black Americans. Man, you have no problem trying to manipulate the feelings of your African American readers, do you? Fortunately, I would assume most of them are smarter than that. You have never made any attempt to hide your utter lack of concern for the historical plight of black Americans. Or their current plight. And never mind that saying you “identify as a woman” when you’re actually a man is exactly like saying you identity as a tomato or a kangaroo when you actually are neither a tomato nor a kangaroo. Nope. Not even close to being the same thing.

And never mind every whining, insufferable bully who comments under this post to tell me I’m a bigot for making a series of unassailable, scientifically accurate statements. (In Matt's mind, "unassailable, scientifically accurate statements" = "things I believe are true, but have never bothered to confirm against any scientific research.")

And never mind the fool who Tweeted me to say this about the Bradley Chelsea Manning/VA scandal dichotomy:


And never mind the despair that sets in when you realize that we are languishing away in a world where news reports can include sentences like this: “Pte Manning has been diagnosed by military doctors with gender dysphoria, the sense of one’s gender being at odds with the sex assigned at birth.”  GASP! NO! You mean to tell me that a NEWS report said that Manning was diagnosed by doctors with a condition, and then it defined the condition she had been diagnosed with!?!  The news is out of control!

Assigned at birth? ASSIGNED? So now my sex is some superfluous identifier handed down to me by an outside agency at the moment I emerged from my mother’s birth canal?

Man, when the doctors say “it’s a girl,” I always thought they were merely observing biological traits. But, it turns out, they were assigning biological traits. I guess I can see why doctors sometimes have a God Complex.

But never mind that.

The point, here, is one of priorities. It’s been known for years — decades, even — that veterans frequently waste away on waiting lists while do-nothing bureaucrats forge documents and cover their tracks. Yet nothing was done about it. Nothing. But the first criminal military man who grew out his hair and told the world he’s a she automatically received the undivided attention of the top brass at the Pentagon. As always, just saying things doesn't make them true.

Haven’t these pencil pushing cultural Marxists in our government done enough to our troops? They use them, abuse them, send them all over the world for dubious reasons, wielding them like pawns in a global chess match. And then when they get home, battered and broken, their plight is ignored while a cross dressing convict takes center stage. I was going to laugh at your use of the term "cultural Marxists" to describe our government, but then found out that the term is specifically used by Christian conservatives to label anything that they perceive to be in conflict with their conservative, Christian values. (That's actually the scary part; the fact that you spend your day mindlessly repeating the catchphrases of other conservative Christians indicates that, for some of the crazier things you say, there might be other people saying that crazy stuff!) Anyway, I am quite familiar with what cultural Marxism really is, and it has nothing to do with our government. I especially like how you call them cultural Marxists (people who critique power relationships, including those related to the U.S. military) and then immediately go on to complain about how they send the military all over the place.

I'm still confused about what you are really upset about here. The government sucks. The American people suck. The media sucks. Sending people all over the world to fight wars on spurious grounds sucks. But also, people who expose what is really going on in these wars also suck.

Our politicians and our president are using our troops like lab rats in the social experimentation lab. They repealed Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, they’re working towards putting women on the front lines, and now transgenders are the next group to get special treatment from the sociopaths running this country. None of these things make our military safer and none make it easier for them to do their jobs. That’s because the mission and the man will both gladly be sacrificed on the altar of the Church of Liberalism. So, you still have not managed to explain, at all, how this terrible liberal elite managed to wrest control of every American institution and maintain power, despite the fact that most Americans are conservative Christians and despite the fact that they need corporate money and backing to be elected. Interesting world you live in....

It’s disgusting.

This whole thing disgust me.

Every day, I think “things can’t get any crazier,” but then every day this country makes a liar out of me.  I'll agree with you. The world, as you see it, really can't get any crazier.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Quick! Someone raise the minimum wage before this man starves to death!

Matt Walsh writes:

Someone alert Feed the Children. Jeff, who messaged me this week, is fighting to survive:

Matt Walsh…. I first started following you when I read your post defending customer service representatives. You also wrote something blasting people who don’t tip, and then last week you wrote criticizing customers who talk on their phones while they’re in the check out aisle. I’m in a the customer service industry so I greatly appreciated these writings. I read them and thought, hey, this guy is on our side. But then last week I saw you Tweet a sarcastic slam against people fighting for a higher minimum wage.

I went back to see what else you’d said on the subject and discovered a lot of ignorance and hate directed at low wage workers. I realized you’re just a fraud and a liar. You pretend to fight for working class people and to be a “voice of the people” and all that bull sh*t, but then you have a problem with giving us a living wage. I know you’ve never been in our shoes as a big shot wannabe famous blogger, but let me tell you what it’s like to try and live on the poverty level minimum wage. I graduated college a year ago. There were NO JOBS to be found (which you’d know if you had a real job in the first place). Eventually I ended up at a fast food place making minimum wage.

I want to start a family, get married, have kids, buy a home, buy a more reliable car, do all the things people in America should be able to do. But I can’t. I can barely to pay my bills as it is. I’m stuck and I’m struggling. The movement to raise the minimum wage to 15 dollars an hour would at least allow me to move into my own place and start a life.


One day maybe I can make money sitting around typing hateful sh*t all day and basically being an assh*le for a living, but right now I don’t have that luxury like you. That’s why I need the minimum wage to be something I can at least survive on. That’s what ALL Americans deserve. If there’s ever a strike or rally in my town, I’ll be there. I’ll be there because of people like you. Or maybe you’d prefer it if all the people serving you food and waiting on you hand and foot just went home and starved to death. I guess that’s what it means to be Christian, right Matt?

-Jeff.

Dear Jeff,

Yes, I’ve certainly only ever lived in luxury. I used to go to sleep in my one bedroom apartment and smile about my privileged existence while I listened to the drug addicts down stairs yell at each other until 3 AM. Sometimes I’d even laugh with radiant joy about my stress-free life, as I cooked some Ramen Noodles while watching the roaches crawl across the counter.

And, when I couldn’t afford to pay the cable, or to turn on the heat or the air conditioning, and when I spent weeks at a time eating nothing but gas station hot dogs and peanut butter sandwiches, and when I worked two or three jobs at once, never had any vacations, rarely had a weekend off, and when I paid for gas with quarters, and started selling my few possessions on Craiglist so that I could afford rent for the month, and when sat alone at nights in my rundown pad staring at the wall in silence, I used to thank God that I didn’t have as hard a life as you, Jeff.

Now, here’s the funny thing: even then, I didn’t whine, and I never waved my arms around and screamed about how I was on the verge of starvation.

I mean, really. For goodness sake, man, get a grip.

‘Starve to death’?

Is that a common workplace hazard over at McDonalds?  About 15% of American households are food insecure, and I would have to assume that there are some McDonald's workers in there. Anyway, Jeff did not say that he, himself, was starving to death. He said that he cannot afford to start a family. Read his letter again. Are you finding that your co-workers often collapse on the floor and whither away from malnutrition?

“Hey, where’s Steve today? He didn’t show up for his shift.”

“Oh, Steve starved to death last night. He’ll be out for a while.”

Is that a conversation that often takes place in your break room?

It is beyond embarrassing that we live in a country where someone would spend tens of thousands of dollars on a college education often this comes in the form of onerous loans, and then move back in with his parents and complain that he is in a fight for his very survival.  But it's not "beyond embarrassing" that we live in a country where so many people with college degrees cannot find anything better than a minimum wage job? In fact, nearly 1/5 (18%) of workers 16 and older with minimum wage jobs have at least a bachelor's degree (and if you subtract those aged 16-21, who are not old enough for a college degree, the percentage would be even higher). Given your contempt for anyone who has decided to pursue a college degree, I am sure you will assert that they are not trying hard enough. I have personally known too many hardworking college classmates who had to resort to minimum wage jobs when they graduated to believe that is true. You cannot deny the fact that our economy sucks. We have a real jobs problem. You can't fault someone for getting a college degree (it does provide a better chance of getting past minimum wage, after all), and you can't blame someone if they can't find a decent paying job when they graduate. Personally, I am a hardworking person who has always had at least 2 jobs at once. However, I have been working for years to attain a position and salary level that matches my education, and I am not even close. It is not for lack of trying.

No, Jeff, your survival is not at stake. Sure, one day you’ll die, but I can guarantee that ‘minimum wage’ won’t make it on the autopsy report under ’cause of death.’ Having spent time in the lower income brackets, surely you can't be ignorant of all the major health problems that result from poverty?  (see this and this)  By definition, a living wage is the amount of money people require to meet their most basic needs (food, clothing, shelter, medical care). Minimum wage is currently far below a living wage, so by definition it is not enough to meet a human being's most basic survival needs. But, who am I to tell you that you can't make light of this situation all you want...

So I’d recommend that you stop worrying about how you’ll die, and start worrying about how you’re living. That is exactly what Jeff is worried about. He's talking about getting a house and starting a family.

You want a better life, and I don’t blame you. You want more money, and I don’t blame you. The question before you, Jeff, is how to best achieve those results. So you just spent all this time responding to a claim that Jeff never made about dying, mocking him for his concerns, and acting like being poor isn't such a big deal... and it is not until now that we get to the point where Jeff started. Yes, the question is how can people like Jeff, and people worse off than Jeff (who say, are unable to live with their parents), have a better life? Jeff is saying that raising the minimum will help. He is saying that people who have jobs should at the very least be able to afford their most basic survival needs. At the least. Furthermore, Jeff's claim is supported by the fact that the very situation of living in poverty itself is a barrier to economic mobility. For example, applying for jobs requires money and other resources (reliable transportation, time off work, computing/printing for resumes, nice clothes for the interview, etc.). It is easier to find your way into a better paying job if you have some free time and vacation time, don't have major health issues to worry about, can be somewhat flexible about where you live, have a stable and safe living environment, don't have to worry about how you're going to get to work, and (this is key) already have some relevant job experience in that area.

Jeff also points out that you are an anomaly - in fact, you are extremely lucky to be supporting yourself with a blog. EXTREMELY lucky. That is all you owe your success to:  pure dumb luck.

But I can only assume that, despite all of this, you are still going to council minimum wage workers to just "work harder" or something like that...

As far as I can tell, you have two options:

1) Continue to use your time surfing the Internet, and writing angry emails to bloggers, and organizing minimum wage protests I believe he said he would join a protest if he found one, not organize it, and sobbing about your tragic lot in life. He was not sobbing about his tragic lot in life. He was saying that he did not appreciate your ignorant posts about these topics. Sit in idle and wait for the government to come along, lift you on its shoulders, and carry you into a paradise of mediocrity.  He also did not say anything about the government. He is working, and he is living with his parents. Hope that the law will magically make it possible for entry level burger flippers to afford homes, and cars, and other things that most of us had to actually earn. Wouldn't the concept of "earning" encompass flipping burgers for wages? If he made his money through work, on what basis do you say he hasn't earned it? And once again, given the prevalence of low-skill service-sector jobs in comparison to skilled work, and all the other economic factors that ensure that many adults will have to take these low-skill jobs no matter what, why is it so unreasonable for a working adult to suggest they should be able to afford a home and a car (especially when both are necessary for work)? Is that really so much to ask? Are you really that resentful about a person wanting a place to live and a means of getting to work?

2) Get over yourself. Stop complaining. Stop treading water and start swimming. And if you apply your approach for getting out of poverty to your children's swim lessons, you will have a couple of dead children.  Decide what you want out of life and go chase it. Make sacrifices. Take risks. Move out of town for a new opportunity, or out of state, or out of the hemisphere, if that’s what’s necessary. Realize that there are other jobs out there, but you have to be willing to do them uh, if he is working a minimum wage job, I don't think his "willingness" is the issue here, and first you have to be willing to pursue them. Stop insisting that there are ‘no jobs,’ and pay attention to all of the people somehow finding these openings that you claim don’t exist anywhere in the known galaxy.  And remain completely oblivious to the real economic conditions that show it is, in fact, objectively, hard to get a job. Stop seeing yourself as entitled to the American Dream he just wants a home and a family just because you bought a fancy college education man, you are really resentful of his education, and have now spent one measly year in the job market. Stop belittling other people’s accomplishments ...like, getting a college degree?, especially when you haven’t yet accomplished much yourself (apply this bit of advice to yourself Matt). Stop looking for sympathy. Start looking for a path up the mountain — however treacherous, however dangerous, however hard — and get to climbing.

Those are your choices, friend.

As usual, one is easy, but the other is right.

Jeff, I think you should also know that you’re begging for your own firing when you talk about a 15 dollar minimum wage.  Yup, asking for a raise is definitely grounds for being fired. You aren’t making 15 bucks an hour pushing buttons and frying potatoes because your labor isn’t worth that kind of money. Actually, if that is how much money is required to make that labor possible  - to secure the basic needs for life - then labor is, objectively, worth at least that much. If you are not even paying someone the full cost of what it takes them to make that labor available to you in the first place, you are ripping them off. You’re doing something that most people could do, which means your employer doesn’t have to shell out big bucks (the very minimum that a person needs for basic survival = "big bucks"??) to attract highly skilled candidates to do it. If they were forced to shell out big bucks, they’d either become much more discerning about who they employ, or they’d simply cut to the chase and automate your entire profession.  Matt, you know what else most people could do? Word-vomit all their unresearched thoughts about stuff and/or repeat cliched partisan talking points (which for you are pretty much indistinguishable things) on a daily basis. From my past experience working in the food service industry, I would say flipping burgers requires more mental and physical skills (responding with grace to cranky customers, doing mental math when customers give you change after you have already entered the amount in, standing on your feet for 8 hours, scrubbing toilets, figuring out why equipment isn't working, lifting stuff) than your blogging masterpieces require. 

See, in the mean world of reality, we are forced to confront the fact that when the government comes in with its Hammer of Economic Justice and starts bludgeoning business owners over the head see, if your own earnings were to be reflective of your writing skills, I might actually consider giving you less than a living wage... smh, demanding that all of their lowest skilled workers be given an across-the-board raise, there are real trade-offs that must occur. Even the Congressional Budget Office predicts that half a million jobs will be lost if the federal minimum wage is raised to $10.10.

If you care to pay a few dollars to purchase this 180 page study, you’ll find that two leading researchers conducted a thorough investigation and discovered that the vast majority of the most reliable empirical evidence ("the vast majority of the most reliable empirical evidence" - HAHAHA. I would love to see what happened if I put that phrase in a research paper.) points to a direct causal link between job loss and minimum wage hikes.

Of course, your fellow minimum wage proponents are quick to assert that “most of the studies” somehow “prove” otherwise. Next, they’ll probably tell you about a 1994 study out of New Jersey that actually revealed an INCREASE in employment as a result of a minimum wage hike. What they won’t tell you is that these psychotic claims have been thoroughly debunked.

Listen, Matt. You can pretend that you are capable of parsing and evaluating the minutiae of research design and statistical methodologies that the economists on both sides of this argument are quibbling over. However, I think it's pretty obvious that you cannot. Frankly, I would bet you didn't even read that 180 page study. I doubt you were even able to fully comprehend the abstract. What you are doing (and what anyone is capable of doing) is Google searching and picking out the results that you agree with. 

Another thing that you can do is look at the big picture - the reality that is more obviously visible. To start, let's do some geographic comparison. If you compare the minimum wage (WG) and unemployment rates (UE) in other countries, you will see there is no strong correlation between the two, which undermines any notion that there is any "direct causal link" between them. Furthermore, if there is a pattern, it's not what you would expect if MW had such a direct, significant impact on employment (this is especially visible if you look within regions).  I pulled a bunch of random countries and pasted below (I tried to select countries on the opposite extremes of MW, with a few in the middle; also MW is in U.S. dollars).


Kenya             MW $0.25     UE 42%
Tajikistan        MW $0.30     UE 60%
Swaziland       MW $0.33     UE 40.6%
Senegal           MW $0.36     UE 48%
Nepal              MW $0.45     UE 46%
Mozambique   MW $0.51     UE 60%
Armenia          MW $0.65     UE 17.3%
Mongolia         MW $0.82    UE 12.2%
Turkmenistan   MW $0.89   UE 70%
Morocco          MW $0.92    UE 10%
Syria                MW $1.02    UE 18%
Jordan              MW $1.29    UE 11.9%
Serbia              MW $1.31    UE 20.1%
Macedonia      MW $1.32    UE 28.6%
Dominica        MW $1.48    UE 23%
Costa Rica      MW $1.85    UE 7.8%
Libya              MW $2.06    UE 13%
Poland            MW $2.07    UE 9.7%
Slovakia         MW $2.59    UE 13.9%
Turkey           MW $3.05    UE 9.8%
Venezuela      MW $3.30    UE 5.6%
Saudi Arabia  MW $3.85    UE 12.1%

Israel              MW $5.99    UE 5.9%
U.S.               MW $7.25    UE 6.3%
Japan             MW $8.32    UE 3.9%
UK                MW $10.02  UE 6.8%
Netherlands   MW $10.99  UE 7.3%
San Marino    MW $11.49  UE 7.0%
New Zealand MW $11.59  UE 6.0%
Belgium         MW $11.69  UE 8.5%
France            MW $12.22  UE 10.4%
Monaco          MW $12.83  UE 0.0%
Luxembourg  MW $14.24   UE 6.1%
Australia        MW $16.88   UE 5.8%

We can also look historically. In the post-WW2 era, the two troughs of lowest unemployment occurred in 1969 and 2000. The year 1969 followed a decade of strong union activity and minimum wage increases. If you look at inflation-adjusted minimum wage graphs, you will see that minimum wage reached its peak at around/over $10.00/hr in the mid-to-late 60s, and that was also the strongest the American economy has been in the post-WW2 period.  Likewise, the 2000 trough occurred at the end of a decline in unemployment that began with a couple of large minimum wage hikes in 1996 and 1997.

Finally, I have already questioned the claim that employers are forced to lay people off to save money when wages increase (I even did some calculations for you to show how it is possible to still be really profitable while paying a living wage.) You are letting people with more money than they could ever spend in their lifetimes convince you that they just wouldn't have enough incentive to run a business if they paid their workers sufficient money to live on. They even spend gobs of that more-money-than-they-could-ever-spend to commission studies showing that it's true. But you don't have to believe them, Matt. In fact, if you look at graphs of inequality, it is pretty obvious. As these people make more money, inequality increases and the economy becomes more unstable. They don't need to pay their workers lower wages so that they can stay in business. They need to pay them less money so that they can be more insanely wealthy even if it harms the economy (less purchasing power/lower demand) in the long run.  Look here and pay special attention to figures 3 and 5 - particularly to what happens to the concentration of wealth prior to the economic collapses of 1929 and 2008. In fact, you can find similar graphs of this data in many other places.

People with lots of money use all the resources at their disposal to convince everyone else that anything that might challenge the status quo (raise taxes, raise minimum wage, etc.) will make it impossible for businesses to stay afloat and, hence, destroy society. And many people believe them because they don't understand how the economy works and many of their sources of information are ultimately influenced, directly or indirectly, by those people with money. However, if one looks historically, it is pretty easy to see that wealth does not trickle down, that all the things that are "favorable to business" at the direct expense of everyone else just increase inequality and economic instability, and that significantly "lowering the burden" of regulations and taxes has culminated, twice in the last century, in major economic crises. The period of strongest economic growth saw increased taxes on the highest brackets and increases in minimum wage.

Like always, though, there is a broader issue that I am more concerned about. Say you are right and a minimum wage hike will directly increase unemployment. You are okay with that? You're willing to accept that? Do you see absolutely nothing wrong with a society that is structured to force a choice between paying lots of people less money than they require to live, or leaving lots of people without any jobs at all? Is that really the best system we can come up with? And must our highest priority really be some abstract concept of "growth" (without any apparent ultimate goal or limit) and a personified, sanctified "market" that we believe acts independently of real people making real choices? Personally, I willingly pay more for things when I know that the people who made them received higher wages. Are not other people capable of making the same decisions? Do we really want to make our model of a human being the cold, calculating individual who cares about nothing more than personal gain? Or can we build our society with the standard and expectation that human beings are moral creatures who make decisions based on what they believe is ethical and in other people's best interest as well? We act like consumers and CEOs "can't help" but make choices that sacrifice the lives of many people in order to maximize their savings and profits. We talk as if it were all mechanized and beyond anyone's control.  Don't you, Matt, as a Christian, believe that we can all act better than that? Are there not things we can value more highly than maximized profits and the latest iPhone?  Like... the lives of other human beings?

Or is it only before they're born that you care about the lives of human beings?

But this is all academic.  It's actually getting kind of funny, how often you think you are being "academic." It doesn’t matter to you. Says the one who makes fun of college graduates, to the person who went to college.

Put it aside, and go do something with your life. And, working is.... not doing something with your life?

I’m sure you have skills that a lot of people don’t have — that’s why I encourage you to forget about the minimum wage and dedicate all of your available time and energy towards finding a spot in a field that allows you to utilize them. Matt... what could you possibly know about finding a spot to use skills from a college education? You say it because it sounds good, but you have never done it. You worked low-paying jobs just like Jeff (though you criticize him for it). Then you happened to get really lucky when lots of people started reading your blog.  So much for your thoughts on the matter. Let's look at what another young man named Matt Walsh once (in March of 2014) had to say: "Can't find a cushy, high paying job with competitive benefits and three weeks paid vacation every year? Join the club, your Highness. Now go flip a burger, dig a ditch, mop a floor. Something. ANYTHING." [Either Matt Walsh has multiple personalities, or he just expresses whatever opinions happen to suit his purposes at the moment.]  You’re correct that everyone is worth more than nine bucks an hour, but that doesn’t mean that everyone is worth more than nine bucks an hour while performing a task that a child could just as easily perform.  So if those are the only jobs available to a person... it's their fault? They should accept less than what they're worth because society is giving them less than what they're worth?

Albert Einstein was a moderately gifted dude, but if he rose from the grave, knocked on my door, and asked for a job washing my windows, I’d still only pay him the going rate for residential window washers.  That's not the point. The point is that, if Einstein doesn't have many options available at the moment but is nevertheless working and contributing something to society, he should be able to afford basic necessities. Einstein was valuable when he was doing that thing which only Einstein could do (unlocking secrets of the universe, styling his hair to give it that ‘just electrocuted’ look, etc.) but he’d be equally as cheap and expendable ouch as the next guy when doing things that anyone could do.

Jeff, even though you hurt my feeling awww... so you do have one feeling? What is that feeling, anger or resentment? and said mean things about me, I still want you to succeed in life. I want you to find that spot where you can blossom. I want you to be The Einstein of something.
But, until then, I regret to inform you that you are being paid exactly what you deserve.

Sincerely,

Matt