Archive for January, 2010|Monthly archive page
About 3 months ago, I ran into an old colleague at a trade show. We spent most of the conference together, talking about technology and business. It was a good time. This guy, who I’ll call Bob, is about 10 years older than I am and I always respected him on a technical level and I considered him somewhat of a “career model” – not so much a role model, because, well, he’s a liberal. Despite that, he and I were friends.
When I say he was successful at my company, I mean to a degree – at one point or the other, during his almost decade-long tenure here, he pissed everybody off. When he left, there were a handful of people that he wasn’t really on speaking terms with. Of course, I’m not really on speaking terms with them either because they’re dufuses. No harm, mo foul.
Long story short, we got to talking about the industry. Since he left my company he has been promoted a few times at his new company such that he is now at the director level and has hiring responsibility. He offered me a job.
The numbers were good and the picture he painted of his company was very positive. Since he worked where I work and he reported to the very same people to whom I currently report, it was easy for him to portray “where he came from” (also “where I am”) very negatively. It wasn’t a hard sell.
The company was Avanade. A joint partnership between Accenture and Microsoft.
A few red flags came up when I heard the words Accenture, because even when I was still an undergrad, I knew about Accenture’s absolutely poisonous reputation as a merciless body shop whose business model revolves around hiring as many naive undergrads as it can find and working them to the bone because they don’t know any better. When you have a reputation for sucking people off the streets like a hoover, your employees become keenly aware that their replacements are lining up outside the building and they know that if they don’t concede to slave-like working conditions they’ll just be replaced by someone who will.
I voiced these concerns to Bob, who assured me that Avanade, despite being now owned almost wholly by Accenture, was nothing like that. Avanade had a unique culture where it considers its people its most important asset. This guy was a friend of mine. Why would he lie? Avanade was more Microsoft than Accenture, said he. Okay. My bullshit alarms were ringing but I gave him and Avanade the benefit of the doubt.
Note to self: wrong move.
I started employment with Avanade on Monday. By Wednesday, I had resigned.
Let me tell you about Avanade, henceforth known as Accenture.
I was brought in by a friend under the promise of wonderful things. 3 weeks of paid training. A $2000 “work/life balance” stipend. Almost 40 days of vacation, all totaled. Great, exciting, dynamic workplace with exciting technical challenges and brilliant colleagues. I was brought in because Bob knew I was, like him, a star at my current company, and in his words, he needed a star on his staff.
You’d think that if you’re paying your friend the star a nice, big, fat salary to do great things for your company, you’d find the time to arrange some place for him to sit. Not so at Accenture. No, I started my first day without even so much as a cube. I had a private office at my last position.
My panic alarm went off right away, because now I’m starting to think that I may have been brought in under false pretenses. Within 15 seconds of arriving on my first day I encountered my first experience with the two-faced bitch called Accenture. Tell your people that they are wonderful amazing great people and this is a great place to work, but then treat them like chattel.
Okay, whatever, Bob is a busy guy, he probably just didn’t have time, I tried to tell myself. I borrow a guy’s cube who’s out of the office and begin getting my “quickstart” training under way.
In the glory days (e.g., before Avanade started losing money along with everybody else in the industry thanks to the bank recession), they used to fly their new hires out to Seattle for a live indoctrination “quickstart” training. To save money, they reduced this to a 6 hour PowerPoint deck. I wish I was kidding. Many of these slide decks (as there were several) had Accenture branding all over them. “I thought Avanade had its own culture.” Says Bob, “It does, but something like sexual harrassment training is the same for us as any company like Accenture, so we might as well just borrow where we can.” Mmmhmm. Of course, that does make lots of sense.
“Avanade is all about integrity and honesty” the quickstart would have me believe. Keep that under your hat.
So I begin to sit through this not-so-quickstart training and I very rapidly realize the truth of Avanade. This company likes to talk as if it’s this wonderful breakout success, when that couldn’t be further from the truth. Avanade wasn’t a “partnership” between Microsoft and Accenture. If it were, and Avanade were as successful as they claim, then why would Microsoft sell its stake to Accenture? The truth is that Avanade is the perverted bastard child of a Microsoft bribe to Accenture to start using their technology in their contract engagements instead of their open source Java/Linux BS that Accenture is known for. From day one, Accenture has been feeding Avanade nearly all of its revenue either directly in the form of subcontract work or via Accenture and former Accenture executives using their business contacts to recycle old customers and point them at Avanade directly.
The whole thing was a giant sham. I wasn’t working for an independent company, I was working for Accenture. And this was clear by the fact that I was in an office (in fact, an entire floor at a federal building – your tax dollars at work) staffed with about 10 Avanade employees and about 150? 200? Accenture people. I also find out that this contract that Accenture has been on has been ongoing since I was a freshman in high school. There were lifers on that contract. People who have made their entire career selling bullshit Accenture “solutions” to a government agency that never runs out of money.
Maybe it’s my sense of morality or my refusal to take part in organized theft from the federal government but within 8 hours of starting at Avanade I began to realize that I was in the midst of a perverted, evil empire and that I had been seduced on to this assignment by a sith lord who was attempting to turn me to the dark side. “Soft” skills are more important than technical skills, says Bob. Wait, seriously?! I’m an engineer. I don’t devote 8+ hours per day of my life to inter- and intra-office poltiical bullshit. I’m not interested in playing games with customers or coworkers.
Theatrics aside, I’m being dead serious here. I quickly came to the epiphany that even if I could rise through the ranks of this company, I wouldn’t want to because I would hate what I had become. I left my first day on the job in a state of near panic because I had just left a paying job to come join the company I swore I would never work for when I started my career many years ago.
How could Bob have done this to me?
On day two, I began to understand how. Bob had a reputation at my company for having a gigantic ego and being very self centered. I saw it a bit when I was there, but when I saw him again a few months ago he didn’t come across like that at all. He had since been married and become a father, so I thought maybe a lot of his personality flaws from the old days had been worked out through life experience.
The reality was that no. He wasn’t less self centered. He was more self centered, to the extent that he would openly deceive a friend of his and lie to my face in the effort of advancing his career. He wasn’t less two-faced, he was more; the only thing that had changed about Bob was that he had become better at disguising his true colors. Is that what his career at Avanade taught him how to be? No thanks.
Bob didn’t give a shit about me. Bob saw me as an asset. Sure, that’s business. But it’s a two way street. He does for me, I do for him. From minute one, Bob immediately put his director hat on - even with an old friend who knew him as a lowly engineer – and kept it on. The thing about the cube? I called him out on it in front of a few of his other reports. You know what he said to me? “My concern is about growing this account by a million dollars, not about where I sit.”
Holy shit. If that’s not a company line, I don’t know what is. A company line that is intended to inform you from the very second you start at this company that you don’t mean shit. The only thing that matters is how much money Avanade takes from its clients, and I say takes because if the way it treats its employees is any indication of the way it treats its customers then I would only wonder how it stays in business. But I know how they do. They put on their “customer first” face with the customer and make the customer think they’re getting great stuff. Then they come back to the office and treat their employees like slaves who produce shit. It doesn’t matter, as long as the check clears. “Customer first” was one of the driving points of the quick start training. Meanwhile, in the next sentence, they tell you that they’re “all about their people.”
“Consulting is not for everyone” said Bob when I suggested that I didn’t like the way Avanade was doing its business. He assured me that every major consulting firm was like this. A little piece of me died becuase I knew he was right. I also knew that I had been stupid to go against my gut in knowing this before I signed on with Avanade but trusting my friend. I knew when I was coming on board that I was taking a risk, but I figured that I had to take risks or I would never know anything.
The people that I would be working with, also, struck me as total nincompoops. No wonder Bob wanted me on staff. It must be tough to convince bright people to work for Avanade because the bright ones can see through the charade that is that company instantly and are smart enough to get out while they can, while the dumb ones either can’t find work elsewhere or think they’re actually getting a good, fair shake from their dark masters. The work was simplistic and uninteresting, and in fact constituted a tiny subset of the work I did for my last project (my last job was in product development, not contract work). “Product is dead,” said Bob. I almost believed him.
Another perverse peculiarity about Accenture/Avanade is the fact that the bosses make absolutely no bones about the fact that all of Avanade’s employees are competing with each other for promotions and raises. You’d have to be a different kind of idiot to believe that isn’t the case everywhere, but in most places, they give you a wink and a nod and talk to you about cooperation. Of course you’re actually competing, but you can compete by cooperating. Not at Avanade. One of the metrics they use to determine your value to the company is chargeability. By one of, I mean the only metric, since from the way I was treated as a new hire – especially as a new hire who was friends with and was hand-recruited by a director – it’s clear they don’t care about anything other than how much money they bring in. If you’re more chargeable than someone else, you’re better. If you’re less chargeable because you spent a large amount of your time mentoring your team and helping them get their work done, you fail.
Anyone who doesn’t see a corporate culture of competition as an absolutely toxic place to work has serious personality defects they need to work out. Did I mention that my friend Bob, who fosters and promotes this poisonous corporate culture, is a raging liberal who believes in universal healthcare?
At this point, as all these thoughts are coming together for me, I begin to realize that I don’t have a future with Avanade. I was willing to confirm all these fears – after all, then I’d have more to share with all of you – and stick around for a few months. But there was one tiny detail.
Part of my contract was a signing bonus that stipulated that if I left within 1 year I had to pay back a prorated portion of this bonus. What it didn’t stipulate was less taxes, meaning if I left 3 months now I’d have to come up with that bonus in post-tax dollars (to be refunded next April, but gone now). In otherwords, I was financially liable to Avanade if I accepted this signing bonus. As a result, I contacted HR in regards to this bonus to see if there was a way I could defer it or forfeit it. The phrase I used to describe the situation was “indentured servitude.”
Bob asked me to lunch that day. I knew what it was about. “What’s this about you not accepting your signing bonus?” For those of you who didn’t catch what just happened, the answer is: HR forwarded my e-mail directly to my boss. Does that sound like integrity or honesty to you?
I told Bob that I thought this company was fucked and that I didn’t foresee myself having a future with this place. The culture was diseased and I didn’t want to catch it.
Now of course, I’m shitting all over Bob’s company at which Bob has been successful and for which Bob now represents. He obviously likes it – or, what I really suspect, likes the power it gives him – so of course he isn’t going to be conducive to me telling him that I think he likes Avanade because he’s an egomanical power hungry douche that loves a place like Accenture because it lets him do what he’s always wanted to do which is be Mr. Big Shot Important who can pretend to be your best friend while he pisses in your coffee.
Put yourself in Bob’s shoes for a second. You’ve just brought a friend to your company as your subordinate and you catch wind – ethically or otherwise – that he’s thinking about leaving. For those of you who one day might be in this position, let me explain the correct way to handle this situation.
First, you find a way to ask about my future with the company without blatantly revealing the fact that your HR department is your personal spy. All Bob had to do is ask, “how do you like Avanade so far,” and I would have told him everything I would have told him already. By revealing that HR forwards e-mails, you basically damn your company even further because now my suspicions are only confirmed, and those suspicions are your company is a bunch of two-faced lying jackasses who pollute who they employ with highly questionable work ethics.
Next, when you hear that your friend is not happy and has negative things to say about Avanade, your reaction should be: “what can we do to make it better?” Your reaction should not be: “how can I introduce you to the customer if you might leave shortly [thereby making us look like jackasses who can't keep our employees on staff]“. If I thought that Avanade didn’t give a flying fuck about me before and was certain that they, and he, would chew me up and spit me out, now I knew I was also correct on this score.
Mr. Big Shot Director doesn’t even have these, the most basic of people skills. I guess you don’t need them at Avanade.
By the end of that lunch conversation we had essentially agreed that I was resigning from Avanade. Took me about 20 hours on the job, in total.
I had originally scheduled a concall with HR for later that afternoon so she could answer my original questions about the signing bonus, but I took that opportunity to inform her. It was one of the more amusing phone calls I’ve been on. I’ll call her Cuntface, because that’s what she was.
Me: “Cuntface, did you forward the contents of my e-mail to you with my boss?”
Me: ‘Did you share the substance of it with him?”
Me: “Really? Because not only did he know things that I shared only with you, but he quoted the exact wording of the e-mail message I sent to you this morning. How do you suppose he did that? Is he omniscient? ESP, perhaps?”
Cuntface: “I don’t know… I didn’t-”
Me: “Cuntface, I know you’re lying to my face and I’ve caught you in your lie. If you were some random person at this company I would forgive you because I don’t actually expect the average Avanade employee to actually act in accordance with your stated corporate values because you and I both know that’s marketing HR bullshit that makes our customers feel good about Avanade, but you’re HR. If any person in this company should keep correspondences confidential, it’s you, Cuntface.”
Cuntface: “Your negative attitude isn’t helping…”
Me: “My negative atttiude? Cuntface, fuck this company. I have never been treated so disrespectfully in a professonal environment in my entire life. This is disgraceful and hypocritical and you ought to be ashamed.”
Cuntface: “So are you resigning then?”
Me: “Absolutely, I am resigning.”
Cuntface: “Well we’ll send you a box to mail back your laptop…”
Me: “My laptop is where I left it, in Avanade’s offices about 6 feet away from Bob; if he wants it, he can have it. I’m done with your company.”
Cuntface: “I need you to send me a resignation letter…”
Me: “How about I just send it to some random Avanade employee; I’m sure it will wind up in your inbox. Share and share a like, that’s called integrity and honor.”
Cuntface: “You need to send it to me.”
Me: “I’m sorry, Cuntface, I can’t do that. I don’t correspond with liars.” Click.
I resigned to Bob. I forfeited my pay. They’ll probably pay me anyway to cover their asses legally, but I’m going to give the money to charity. I didn’t contribute to their business – thank God – and I won’t stoop so low to bloody my hands with their dirty money.
Don’t work for Accenture or any company that subcontracts for Accenture. Don’t hire Accenture to do any work for you or your company. Avoid these people like the plague. They are the worst segment of this industry, and they give IT contractors a bad name.
I returned to my previous company – these people were truly my friends instead of just pretending to be to get more out of me, and unlike Avanade, even though they were not beaten over the face with a PowerPoint exalting honesty and integrity, they actually have both.
When I tell my coworkers who also knew Bob this story, they say, “yes, that sounds exactly like him,” or, “we warned you.”
Needless to say, this was a very interesting week. I hope to never have one like it again.
The latest drivel on Feministing - a bottomless bowel of perversion and debasement – is about two activists who were trying to stop a prosecutor for charging a pregnant woman whose drug abuse may have caused her unborn baby to be stillborn. Apparently one, the author, is pro-choice while her compatriot jihadist “Jo” was not.
I am consistently awestruck at the ineptitude with which these people rationalize the world.
First, the sheer contempt that these pro-choice feminists display for unborn children in every form is staggering especially in contrast to what every person on this planet knows about the undeniably vast majority of mothers, including feminists whose unborn children actually survive their ideology, which is the devotion women display to their children. Once born, that is.
The idea that anyone would rally in defense of a woman who continued to abuse drugs while pregnant is repugnant. Haven’t we learned anything?
But no. These activists paint the accused as a victim who needs help for her addiction instead of punishment for her reckless endangerment of human life which resulted in human death.
If you would believe these feminists, you would believe that in this world, crystal meth stalks it like a jungle cat and leaps from the bushes at unsuspecting, helpless women who are subsequently addicted to the substance to such a degree that no force, including pregnancy, can bring them into rehab voluntarily.
In the world that I live in, drugs aren’t going to enter my body unless I consciously seek them out and imbibe them. You might say that I have the right to choose whether or not I do drugs. In the world that I live in, I am a victim neither of my own free will nor the choices made in pursuit thereof.
It’s not hard to understand why a pro-choice feminist in love with her crusade would be inspired to fight the fight to void these charges. A successful conviction by a jury of her peers would be a referendum on the status of unborn life. A successful, unanimous conviction here might illustrate in living color the changing of the cultural tide. A tide which now indicates that we’re not afraid of the volume of the feminist voice any more and we’re willing to walk the path our consciences would take us without the fear of confrontation with militant types like the author of this Feministing garbage.
But, in truth, that’s all such a result would do: illustrate. The conviction would make its way through appeals court and eventually land in the United States Supreme Court where Sotomayor and Roe v. Wade would promptly overturn it. For the accused in that time, who will certainly be in prison, she might actually kick her meth habit. Not a terrible outcome.
And that hinges upon the likelihood of conviction. The author, “nancyg” asserts that the medical community hasn’t been able to establish a causal relationship between amphetamine intake and fetal mortality, a fact which I’m sure the defense attorneys will raise in court and which, if true, might convince a jury that her actions were inconsequential to the death of her unborn baby and thereby lead to acquittal.
But nancyg and Jo don’t want to allow the criminal system to take its course. Rather, they want to march on the court house, chain themselves to the door of the prosecutor’s office, and essentially hinder our government from operating as it does for everyone charged with a crime for two reasons. First, they’re afraid of what the result might be, and second, it gives them something to do and a reason to feel good about themselves, as if they’re agents of social good.
Their tactic in this campaign was to “hand out flyers” and get petitions signed. As a commentator to one of my recent posts eloquently pointed out, we don’t live in a democracy, we live in a republic. We rule by law, and the opinion of a mob should not and will not influence the machinations of our criminal justice system. We do remember lynch mobs, don’t we?
Their base motives are obvious despite their best attempts to disguise them. Here’s one such attempt:
[The district attorney] didn’t credit the prosecution’s likely chilling effect on addicted pregnant women who would now avoid prenatal care altogether or decide against disclosing their addiction to health care providers and seeking help, believing these sort of prosecutions necessary as deterrents to drug use during pregnancy.
For a woman who has no moral objection to terminating a pregnancy at will, she seems awfully concerned about pre-natal care. Does anyone else find this bizarre?
Oh, I’m sorry. I keep forgetting that a woman who chooses to terminate her pregnancy and a woman who chooses to keep her baby (but uses heavy drugs while pregnant) are in different categories. I would think a feminist who supports abortion would be advocating that any drug addicted woman who finds herself pregnant should simply abort the pregnancy. But the reason they don’t might be linked to their pro-choice philosophy. It’s hard to argue that the fetus’s welfare is important when you believe that a fetus can be killed whenever the mother wants, so even if drug use does hurt the baby, so what? This might explain how a feminist can believe that we shouldn’t even try to discourage pregnant women from using heavy drugs during pregnancy. When we have a total disregard for human life until it exits the vagina, why should we care?
The only way any of this makes sense is if you explain it this way: when a baby is wanted, the mother is owed prenatal care and shouldn’t be scared away from receiving it for fear that if she continues to take action injurious to her baby she might be criminally charged. However, when a baby is unwanted, go ahead and kill it. It’s your body, your choice.
This doesn’t come across to me in any other way that extremely selfish and flatly philosophically bankrupt. The value of an unborn human life is not dependent upon whether or not, or by how much by some unknown measurement, the mother wants the resulting baby.
It was only later that I learned that for Jo, this set of circumstances amounted to the state putting itself in a position that required drug-addicted women to get abortions or run the risk of being charged with murder when they attempted to carry the pregnancy in spite of their addiction.
If I wasn’t already confused by the way these people think, now I’m absolutely dumbfounded.
Let me see if I can paraphrase pro-life Jo’s reasoning. If we prosecute a drug-using mother of a stillborn baby, we (the state) have criminalized drug use while pregnant to the extent that it is considered homicide. Once criminalized, we (the state), now must kill the baby before the drugs do to spare the mother from commiting the crime we just committed on her behalf.
No. If we prosecute a drug-using mother of a stillborn baby (and convict her), we (the state) are declaring it unlawful to kill your own baby by drug use (and therefore, by any other means, such as those practiced in abortion clinics nationwide).
I understand why a pro-choice feminist would necessarily oppose this stance or else forego her pro-choice feminism. But a woman who supposedly self-identifies as pro-life opposes it?
I often wonder if I’m the only one on the planet Earth who thinks clearly.
It was after my sole visit to see the client in jail that I learned that Jo was pro-life. I don’t remember how it came up, only that I reflexively fell into “If only you knew better” mode. I instantly told Jo the story of what a relief it had been in the seventies to be able to get someone close to me a safe, legal abortion when she accidentally became pregnant as a teenager. Surely she’d understand then! Jo listened and nodded. She said she thought the abortion solution to the problem of an unwanted pregnancy represented an act of violence that frees the man involved, but can tie the woman up for the rest of her life.
The person close to her was probably a little sister. What a relief it had been in the seventies to be able to free someone close to her up to engage in so many other enriching pursuits like disco dancing and a degree in Women’s Studies. If that abortion hadn’t happened, that baby would be in its 30s right now. This also tells me that nancyg is just another washed out old battle-axe from the heyday of feminism who apparently has lived with her eyes and ears closed for those last 30 years and hasn’t realized her own irrelevance yet.
But I want to focus on that last sentence: “an act of violence that frees the man involved but can tie up the woman for the rest of her life.” What does that even mean? How does an abortion tie up a woman for the rest of her life? Tie up in what manner? This leads me to believe that Jo the pro-lifer had an abortion in the seventies too. I’ve yet to meet a woman who isn’t ashamed to even admit that she had an abortion nor one who doesn’t regret it. I’m sure they exist, but I for one am relieved to know that I don’t know any.
We didn’t try to convince each other — just respectfully stated our opinions. Years later, we’re still tight.
Such is the strength of their conviction that they didn’t even bother to persuade one another and simply continued to coexist peacefully. Where there is no conviction there is no truth.
I’ve never explicitly asked Jo to explain further why she’s pro-life. But watching her live a life committed to helping others, and serving some higher good — consistently, compassionately, and generously — I think I can guess. Nor does it appear to be a mystery to her, though she has never asked me explicitly, that I try to lead a similar life but am pro-choice.
So, nancyg attributes Jo’s pro-life stance to her good, wholesome life in which she helps others, in the very face of the fact that her own self-proclaimed similiar lifestyle led her to reach the exact opposite conclusion.
In other words:
If a, then b. If a, then not b.
This is the textbook definition of an oxymoron. A logical impossibility.
When I tried to find words for our friendship, I wrote to Jo, “ We are joined at the root. Our differences don’t shake that foundation.” She responded, “The bond formed by our compassion for others means that we are joined at the root. Our respect for each other’s genuine belief in different means of expressing our compassion represents divergent stalks arising from that common root. It also represents a unique (dare I say feminine) gift we give each other: we care for and about another who is not a carbon copy of our self.”
Perhaps they should both start caring about another who is a carbon copy of themselves, e.g., their own children, born and unborn. If they did, they would be on board for putting a woman who poisons her unborn baby with crystal meth in prison where she belongs. This so-called feminine gift – no sexism there – translates to ignoring entirely their moral and philosophical underpinnings for the sake of social cohesion. I agree, that is a very female trait.
As a man, I have a very hard time getting along with people who I don’t respect, and that category includes people who reach very bizarre and perverted moral and philosophical views of the world with which I do not agree. I am also not afraid to draw a line in the sand and declare everyone on the other side of it my enemy and kill them if they cross it. Ah, testicles.
In reality, this Jo person has demonstated herself to be a very strange version of pro-life. No abortion, but yes to bathing your fetus with meth in the womb. Even if we accept the idea that meth isn’t unhealthy for the baby in utero – and that’s a pretty big stretch – what kind of mother will a meth head make to a newborn baby?
I will never understand how these women think. If nancyg or her ilk have just read this sentence, please do not interpret this as a validation of your puzzling and jumbled thought process. The fact that I don’t understand it is not a function of a morally relative ethos in which we agree to disagree or that there is no universal truth to be found here. I am a staunch opponent of post-modern thinking and you should be too. No. When I say I will never understand how these women think, I say it because I claim everything they think on this subject is flat-out, objectively wrong and I am willing to do my best to persuade you, vis-a-vie, this post, and furthermore, if given the opportunity, I would legislate my morality.
Advocates say a $290,000 speeding ticket slapped on a millionaire Ferrari driver in Switzerland was a fair and well-deserved example of the trend.
Germany, France, Austria and the Nordic countries also issue punishments based on a person’s wealth. In Germany the maximum fine can be as much as $16 million compared to only $1 million in Switzerland. Only Finland regularly hands out similarly hefty fine to speeding drivers, with the current record believed to be a $190,000 ticket in 2004.
Isn’t it enough that the top 5% wealthiest people pay 95% of the taxes that now our socialist allies in Europe have crossed the gap into outright criminalizing the wealthy to a larger degree simply because they’re wealthy?
This is truly astonishing. Socialism is supposed to be about society, namely, equality in society, you know, a fair shake for everybody, black or white, rich or poor, etc.
The clever among us all see this phony ethos for what it is: phony. Socialism isn’t about the good of society, it’s about fucking the people who pay for it all because the masses are jealous of the rich, and in a democracy, the voice of the majority reigns supreme.
I don’t have any objection to the “voice of the masses” reigning supreme in principle, but the problem with the voice of the masses is that nothing and nobody ever bothers to check from where that voice comes, and often times it comes from rote and rather base emotional impuluses such as jealousy.
You can’t possibly rationalize a legal system in which the punishment for a crime scales with the size of the perpetrator’s bank account any other way. Where is the equity in all of this?
Socialism is a sham, people. It’s a fucking sham designed to comfort you and your sense of mediocrity in the face of the heroic successes of those around you, like the guy who drove real fast in a Ferrari that costs more than your family will earn in a decade. And this is where socialism leads.
You take an idea that sounds good in principle, like socialism does, you let imperfect humans and their imperfect, emotional impulses twist it into some horrible aberration of its former self, and what you’re left with is tyranny.
Don’t try to rationalize the government giving $290,000 speeding tickets to one driver and then $16 to the next. It’s rationalizations like these that enable lynch mobs in the future.
The long and short: teenage boy refuses to stop playing PlayStation. Single mother unplugs PlayStation and calls cops.
In my household, if I gave my mom shit about playing video games deep into the night, my mom would have woken my dad up. My dad would have stormed down the stairs and done one or both of these things: backhanded me and then taken a sledgehammer to the PlayStation. That would have been the last time I gave my mom shit about playing video games deep into the night.
Instead, because this woman does not have a husband to reign in her asshole teenaged boy son, he walks all over her. Desperate and incapable of parenting her son, she has to call the police – an arm of the state – to help raise her child.
Anyone who tells you that a woman can raise a son by herself need only take these cases in point.
I’m really sick of libertarians.
First off, it’s a dodge. Look, I don’t necessarily like the two party system any more than you do, but like any bipolar thing, you’re either one or the other. If someone put a gun to your head and made you pick a party, you’re going to pick one. In the United States, if you want your vote to have any meaning no matter how slight, you have two choices. You, the libertarian, are not thinking outside the box or rebelling against a flawed system, you’re just giving yourself a soap box to stand on at parties when your friends ask for your political alignment. Boring.
Second, the entire concept is stupid. I am not going to go through the trouble of dissecting their official talking points, instead I’m going to respond to the ideas that the self-proclaimed libertarians that I know in real life claim to be libertarian ideals. I’m sure I’ll get at least one libertarian commentator who claims that my libertarian friends aren’t true libertarians… please, spare me. If the concept of a libertarian is too vague for self-identifying libertarians to get it right, my point that libertarianism is f’ing stupid is only furthered.
The entire libertarian world view seems to boil down to the idea that “personal freedom” is paramount. In practical terms, “libertarians” generally believeve that individuals should be allowed to do whatever they want at all times “as long as it doesn’t infringe on anyone else’s rights.” Thus, libertarians are usually in favor of legalizing all drugs, they are typically pro-choice, they are usually pro-gay-marriage, etc. etc.
In other words they are liberals who justify their liberal ideology with the personal liberty angle. But they don’t want to associate with other liberals, possibly because they are against welfare. Libertarians are often against all taxation of any kind, which sometimes leads actual liberals to think that libertarians are actually conservatives because they don’t want to pay for social causes.
In my view, libertarianism can be caricatured with a simple South Park quote: It’s my hot body, I do what I want!
When I start to confront libertarians with anarchy, which is essentially where the libertarian path leads, of course they are anti-anarchists. Of course we should have laws and rules, but they should only be limited to regulating actions and circumstances that involve two or more individuals. This line of thinking is so easy to derail. It is impossible to exist in society wherein you do not constantly affect other individuals in some way, and whether that way is positive or negative can only be determined at the point of impact.
Every time I get in my car and drive somewhere I interact with other drivers on the road. Every time I buy something in a store I impact the cashier, the owner of the store, the maker of the good that I buy, my wife when she sees what I’ve brought home. Christ, every time I take a breath in a crowded elevator I’m minutely affecting the people around me.
We interact with each other all the time, no matter what we are doing.
Liberatarianism boils down to a few select issues, almost always drugs, in which the libertarian wants to be free to smoke pot all day long because “it doesn’t affect anyone but me.” The truth is, he just really wants to smoke pot without worrying about a community service sentence, and he constructed some elaborate ideological framework to justify his pot habit.
When push comes to shove it’s just a matter of degree: non-libertarians are slightly more restrictive on so-called “personal” freedom than libertarians are. Usually, the line in the sand is simply that society-at-large makes illegal anything that we determine will harm the individual doing it even if it doesn’t harm anyone else whereas the libertarian will not. While there are certainly things that today are illegal that probably shouldn’t be because the amount of harm they do to an individual is dubious (or at least no worse than other things that are presently legal), this doesn’t prove that the approach is wrong. Most reasonable people would agree that we, as a society, have a responsibility to protect each other from harm from any source including one’s self.
When I’m in the mood to derail a libertarian, I like to use the example of a house fire. Suppose Larry the Libertarian is at home in his house when it catches on fire. The fire department rushes to the scene. Should the brave firefighters remove Larry from the house?
If we were all libertarians, the brave firefighters couldn’t decide what to do. Are they certain that Larry didn’t exploit his God-given right to burn down his own house with himself in it? Did Larry accidently drop his lit bowl on the carpet, and is instead desperate for rescue? If the brave firefighters pull an unconscious Larry out of his smoke-filled house only to discover that Larry was committing suicide, then the brave firefightes infringed on his rights. If, instead, the brave firefighters sat on their hands because it isn’t their right to protect Larry from himself when the truth is that lightning struck Larry’s house, the brave firefighters have committed gross negligence.
Of course if we were all libertarians we probably wouldn’t have a fire department. Look after yourself, chump.
Okay, okay. I have to go off on a tangent here, lest I be called out for being inconsistent.
“But Evan,” cries Tim, “you are against socialized medicine and welfare for the same reason: look after yourself, chump. Doesn’t that make you a libertarian douche?”
No, Tim, because there’s a key difference here, a difference that I wish more people would learn to appreciate. The chance that I will need medical care at one point in my life is very close to 100%. The chance that I will need the fire department is very close to 0%.
Well eureka! Then it makes more sense to cut the fire department and instate socialized medicine, right? Everybody needs medicine, but only a very tiny number of people need the fire department!
No. Because I know with certainty that I will need medicine, I can prepare to afford it well in advance, the same way that I know in 8 hours I wil lbe hungry so I better think about where my next meal is coming from. I can’t say for certain that I will never need the fire department, but I still have fire insurance anyway.
Now look. Tim was only 21? 22? when he got very unlucky and racked up some serious healthcare bills, and I can understand why he’s pissed. I am considerably older than that and have been working at a lucrative, well-paying job for many years but even I could not afford Tim’s bills without liquidating a lot of assets (e.g. my house), so my thesis that I should be responsible to “prepare to afford” medical bills is somewhat preposterous since medical emergencies (and bills) can strike anyone at any time (that’s why insurance works the way it does, and that’s how I prevent myself from being in Tim’s shoes).
Society should look after people who are incapable of looking after themselves. Guess what? It already does. Tim didn’t have insurance because he was temporarily not a full time student. But he wasn’t earning income at the time, so shouldn’t he have been eligible for Medicaid, because he was, in theory, poor? I’m very strongly anti-socialized-medicine, but that doesn’t mean that I think people who are too poor to buy medical insurance should die in the streets. My problem with socialized medicine is that it gives it to people who can afford it. Well, that, and it’s fiscally implausible and I don’t want my physical health to become a campaign issue or a political tool for some DC asshole’s career growth.
My problem with things like welfare and social security is that these are both handouts for people who are capable of taking care of themselves (either through a job or by saving for retirement). Instead, they choose to rely on others to take care of them. And that irritates me.
So, to come full circle to my house fire analogy, I am incapable of putting out my own house fire, therefore, we need to have a fire department. I am not, in theory, opposed to the idea of paying the department to put out my fire, but since fires are so infrequent yet fire departments must be on call 24×7 and it is possible that they will go an entire year without ever fielding a call, the pricing model for a pay-as-you-need system is just impossible. Medicine is a very different thing.
Okay, tangent over.
Libertarianism is dumb.
I’ve written before about proverbs before. While this is somewhat like using the word to define itself, brevity is the soul of wit, and proverbs are short, easy to remember, and are great reminders for how to react to various situations.
Here are some to think about for 2010:
I’ve never seen a wild thing feel sorry for itself. A bird will fall frozen from a bough without ever having felt sorry for itself.
Don’t let yourself wallow in self pity. It is counterproductive.
Losers always whine about their best. Winners go home and fuck the prom queen.
Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing.
For the last 30 years institutional education would have us believe that trying is as good as succeeding and that your intentions are as important as the results. Neither is true. If you live your life under that premise, you will never actually accomplish anything. Great things don’t happen in this world because people mean to do them or because they tried to do them. Great things happen in this world when people actually accomplish what they set out to accomplish.
Best is the enemy of good.
Strive for excellence, but remember that no matter what you do in life, someome is better at it than you. No matter what you create, it is never going to be perfect. This expression would have helped the guys over at the Duke Nukem Forever project in a major way. At some point, you have to declare your effort “good enough” and move on. Perfectionism is a vice.
To make an omelette, you have to break some eggs.
Don’t be afraid to take risks and make sacrifices to achieve something greater than that which you are losing. Coupled with:
Once you get comfortable, it’s time to move.
The worst thing you can do in life is settle in to what you have and lose sight of what you want. When you want nothing more from life, you die.
Take a risk in 2010.