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  1. I hear your frustration with the current economic situation; I wish I had more answers, Jonathan. At this point I’m simply musing aloud, trying to figure out what elements are worth preserving and which should be definitely dispensed with, you know?

  2. The sheer vitriol generated when someone thinks that they have been told that they have it ‘easy’ (and they stop listening at that point, even if it’s ‘compared to someone else with X, Y, Z characteristics) is breathtaking. John Scalzi attempted to bring this point up again a few months ago and commenters seemed to be completely ignoring the entire gist of the facts: Being white, straight, and male is ‘easy mode.’ You can be living in a dumpster and eating week-old bread and have not a penny to your name but you will still have it better (however marginally) than someone who is not white, not straight, and not male. Really, the “It’s all about ME!” attitude was astounding, as if people were desperately trying to preserve some sort of martyr complex.

    (And of course, they got into their straits through no fault of their own. It’s everyone else who’s a lazy, good-for-nothing slacker.)

    We pay a simply ungodly amount of money to our sports icons. And I use the term ‘ungodly’ on purpose. Many of the people whom you heard cheerfully discussing the contract were very probably self-identified Christians of some flavor. (Texas is extremely religiously conservative, albeit not the most religious state in the nation.) I doubt that for a moment it occurred to them that any portion of that 88 million might have gone towards relief for the people still stuffering after the horrendously botched response to Katrina.

    But then again, why should they? New Orleans is just filled with lazy colored folk. They got what they deserved. Who cares about them anymore? (And I do hope you know I’m only relating things i’ve actually heard, not my own views!)

    Regarding Voyage from Yesteryear, I was actually reading that today! I wouldn’t call it ‘libertarian.’ Maybe my idea of what libertarianism these days is colored by the likes of the Objectivists and many of Ron Paul’s supporters and an increasing number of people here in the Valley. I actually found the actions of the invading Terrans to be more libertarian, insofar as some of their actions were driven by economics and ‘rational actor’ business goals. The Chironians were a rational post-scarcity environment; there was no need for money, and it was based on gifting, as you said.

    Regarding Vegas… yes, there’s a akind of emptiness. I’m not sure it’s power that people are looking for so much as the illusion of power. The vast majority of people in this country — 85% or so, the last I checked — live in some sort of insecurity, either food, housing, or financial. Vegas gives the illusion that, for a little while at least, you don’t have to worry about that. (If one can afford to go to Vegas for several days and play and gamble and play some more, one is probably already doing better than most people, anyway.) For a few days, they’re in control… except they’re not. They’re being told they’re in control, that they have choices, that they can do what they wan’t… but they can’t. They’re limited by their finances, and by the class/social boundaries, as to what they can do, and these boundaries are rigidly enforced. There are things that the rabble simply will never be allowed to do, nor will they ever be given the idea that they can do these things; just the opposite. They will be told they will not, should not, cannot ever.

    Because, to be honest, the big cheeses who go to Vegas, they’re not walking the Strip with the hoi polloi. They’re already where they need to be, in the penthouses and suites on the top floors of the casinos.

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