Think While Doing

I recently listened to a fine episode of the Working Man podcast in which the interview made the good point that the trades are beneficial to help young men stop living so much in their imagination. They’re tactile, and they require presence.

His observation bore itself out for me today, as I spent much too much time scrolling through Twitter rather than starting my day productively. I felt depressed – and it wasn’t so much from thoughts of the ridiculous and tragic things happening in the wider society – but more from a feeling of listlessness about my own life.

Here’s what I gather from my experiences with moments like this:

If you are only thinking about your future, you will feel despair. You will continue to project out your current mode of behavior (in my case, sitting on Twitter) into the future and see what a bleak place it is. Thinking about how bad the world is, too, – while sitting on your butt – will only make you more depressed about the future of the world.

Thinking about the future – even some daydreaming – is fine and natural, but do it while you’re doing something to move forward into the future. This is the only way to keep imagination – which can tend toward darkness and anxiety or grandiosity – in check.

Daydreaming is not ideal during action, but it’s a lot better than being an idle daydreamer. You can think about your athletic future when you’re on your next run, or your next building project while you’re making the saw cuts. You can think about your move while you work to save money for it.

Your thoughts will find new channels – optimistic channels – in the work you are doing in that moment. They will take assurance from your actions. And your mind may still play tricks on you, but it will at least extrapolate out your better behavior rather than your stagnation.

Originally published at JamesWalpole.com.

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A Modest Proposal for Compromise on “Confederate” Military Bases

In July 1864, Confederate forces led by General Jubal Early attacked Fort Stevens and Fort DeRussy on the outskirts of Washington, DC. Union forces drove them away after two days of skirmishes, but the battle threw a scare into the capital city and constituted a high point in the Confederacy’s Shenandoah Valley campaigns.

More than a century and a half later, the Confederates are back in Washington, meeting stiff resistance on Capitol Hill but garnering support from the White House.

This June, US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) sought the removal of portraits and statues honoring Confederate figures from the Capitol and its grounds.

Meanwhile,  the US Senate’s Armed Services Committee approved an amendment to the annual National Defense [sic] Authorization Act, offered by US Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). The amendment would give the Pentagon three years to re-name military bases named after Confederate figures.

US president Donald Trump says he’ll veto the NDAA if it comes to him with that amendment intact.

Will he? Almost certainly not.

The NDAA is the US government’s largest annual corporate welfare and middle/lower class workfare bill. This year’s version isn’t even at full pre-passage bloat yet and it already tops $740 billion in sweetheart payouts for “defense” contractors, plus salaries and benefits for more than three million jobs in, or related to, the military.

If Social Security is a political “third rail” (touch it and you die), the NDAA is the train that runs down the tracks on either side of that rail (get in its way and you’ll be run over and smooshed).

So no, Trump’s not serious about a veto. He’s just virtue signaling to those members of his southern and rural base who were weaned on pro-Confederate “Lost Cause” mythology (basically every southerner and most midwesterners who came of age before the 1990s). And yes, Pelosi and Warren are virtue signaling to their side of Culture War, 2020 Election Edition, too.

Both sides will drag this fake, silly fight out until after Election Day because it’s the fight itself, not the outcome, that brings in the campaign contributions and the votes. Style over substance, as usual.

But just for laughs, let’s think about what a compromise could look like if the two sides actually worked for the taxpayers instead of for the military industrial complex. How about this:

Don’t rename those “Confederate” bases. Instead, shut them down. Completely. Move or destroy the weapons, move or discharge the troops, and sell the real estate (with contract clauses forbidding use of the bases’ names or namesakes in subsequent uses).

For the sake of balance, shut down an equal number of bases named after Union military figures, on the same terms.

Then cut that NDAA by $100 billion or so, and call it a good start.

No, that’s not going to happen, at least while we keep sending Republicans and Democrats to Washington. They’ll occasionally slap new labels on their wicked and murderous behaviors, and sometimes assign blame to the old labels for those behaviors, but they won’t willingly change.

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Politics Reason Behind a Lot of Anger

Why is there so much anger in the world?

People fight over statues; over differing opinions on gender, race, and policing. Over masks and whether to end the shutdown or keep society imprisoned until everyone is perfectly safe — which can never be.

Activists are even protesting to abolish the Fourth of July … without mentioning Independence Day. I guess if they are successful, future calendars will skip from the third to the fifth … unless the activists are confused.

What causes anger over such issues? Politics — where every win comes at someone’s expense.

Politics forces everyone along the same path. Legislation dictates things only our ethics and morals should determine. To understand the anger, notice how politics makes a difference of opinion into a life and death struggle. An unnecessary one.

It’s odd that something imagined to be a hallmark of civilized society is instead the root of most antisocial behavior. Trying to form a society around politics is like trying to form a pearl around a pellet of nuclear waste.

If you want to play politics, go ahead, but any results should only apply to you. You shouldn’t expect others to be bound by your results. They shouldn’t be expected to fund your political institutions or agencies. If you want it, you fund it. I have better uses for my money.

Just as there is no “one-size-fits-all” church, you shouldn’t be able to force everyone to participate in the same political system based on location. Or any political system at all. If you force everyone to play your game by your rules, or else, your game is toxic. Society would be better off without it.

Just imagine if no one were forced to fund a park or a statue. If your group builds a park, good for you. If you want to put a statue in the park to honor Willie Nelson, people can choose to visit your park or not. As long as they aren’t forced to subsidize it, they aren’t harmed.

If, however, you force people to chip in for the park and pay for statues and monuments to things they dislike, it’s no wonder people get angry. I do, too.

The way these things are currently done causes strife. It’s long past time to give it up and try something better. Something voluntary, based on unanimous consent. If you want to chip in, go ahead. If you’d rather not, go your own way. It’s the only civilized way to organize a society.

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Role Modeling, Discipline, & Parental Differences (32m) – Episode 316

Episode 316 has Skyler giving his commentary on the following topics: role modeling male behavior for your daughters, and other valuable lessons; what discipline is and how it looks in his household; sharing his name with his son; the differences in his parenting style versus his parents’; and more.

Listen to Episode 316 (32m, mp3, 64kbps)

Subscribe via RSS here, or in any podcast app by searching for “everything voluntary”. Support the podcast at Patreon.com/evc.

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On Labor Unions

There’s nothing wrong with collective bargaining from the voluntaryist perspective. Where labor unions go wrong is in their use of coercion. When collective bargaining breaks down and employers wish to hire competing labor, that is well within their liberty to do so. When labor unions employ threats and violence against so-called “scabs” (those who break away from the union or come from outside the union to work), they are engaging in criminal behavior. When governments protect unions from liability for this, they are aiding and abetting criminals. (But what’s new?) Nobody has the right to use coercion against their competition, not businesses and not workers. If you can’t collective bargain without coercion, then you aren’t collective bargaining. You’re bullying, and you’re a criminal. And that’s today’s two cents.

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The Real COVID-19 Heroes

I’m coming to the opinion that those who are risking getting coronavirus are serving humanity. If the riots are doing any good, that’s it. Same for political rallies (a slow riot?) or any other gathering.

Maybe it’s not good for individuals who are under greater risk of dying from it, but this thing is going to have to run its course. The only way that’s going to happen is if most people get it– and if the experts are right (Ha!) and immunity doesn’t last long, most people are going to have to get it at roughly the same time to take away its power.

In fact, it’s probably our responsibility to get out there regardless of the risks (if any).

It seems Covid-19 has already lost most of its power to kill. Until the past couple of days, none of the 3 counties in various parts of the country I’d been watching with personal interest had had a new death attributed to coronavirus in 3 or 4 months. That’s right– three or four months. Even as reported cases of the disease have skyrocketed. That ought to tell you something.

Even the two deaths which suddenly showed up after the long “dry spell” are suspicious to me for a variety of reasons. Could my prediction about a renewed push to get people to worry about conornavirus again be coming to pass?

The panicdemic has also lost most of its ability to scare all but the most politically susceptible and scientifically ignorant. Politicians and other political people are desperate for you to stay scared so you’ll give power to the politicians, regardless of reality. Don’t. No threat is so great that such behavior would be a good idea.

If you are worried about the virus, please take every precaution you can. Let the rest of us do what we need to do to make the world ready for you again. Please don’t try to stop us or point and whine about us. Don’t be a karen.

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