Victimology bites

Dr. Richard Friedman’s Sabotaging Success, but to What End?, published 2010-03-22 in the New York Times, is about an instantly recognizable pattern — people who sabotage themselves so they can feel like martyred victims of an uncaring world.

The piece is insightful and even funny in a bleak sort of way, but as I read through it I felt an increasing sense that there was something missing from this story. I was nearly at the end before I realized what had been lurking unspoken in Dr. Friedman’s account. But the crucial clue had been there from the beginning, when he writes of one patient “In fact, her status as an injured party afforded her a psychological advantage: she felt morally superior to everyone she felt had mistreated her. This was a role she had no intention of giving up.” Where…now, where had I heard that song before?

And the answer is: politics! This is what’s missing from Friedman’s account. He, and his patients, and everyone else nowadays, live in a culture saturated with the lesson that playing the victim card is the fastest route to power over others. “Help, help, I’m being repressed!” goes up the cry, and legions of professional grievance-mongers materialize more swiftly than the djinn of the lamp. Indignation is publicly indignated. One dares not even laugh at such posturing lest one be pilloried for “insensitivity”. Laws are passed. And the victim gets to become the oppressor while still collecting all the bennies of martyrdom. Such a deal!

And where might Friedman’s patients have learned the tactics of this strategy? By his own account, he has “intelligent and articulate” patients. I’m guessing they all went to college, where the student hours that used to be filled with trivialities like the heritage of western civilization are now increasingly consumed by “sensitivity” training, and life outside the lecture halls is regulated by speech and behavior codes so punishing in the hands of designated-victim groups that they’d be worthy of George Orwell’s Ministry of Truth.

Full circle; after decades of hearing from the left that the personal is political, Friedman’s patients are the political become personal with a vengeance. No surprise that an article in the New York Times would miss that elephant, though; this is the newspaper about which it can be said that the famous parody headline “World To End Tomorrow; Women, Minorities Most Affected” was a good spoof mainly because it was nigh-indistinguishable from a lot of what they actually print. The aptness of Friedman’s article appearing in the house organ of the limousine left is extreme; the jokes write themselves, and the unintended ironies just don’t stop.

Perhaps you think I’m snarking because I feel left out? No; I could have played the victim card myself, you betcha. Cerebral palsy, oooh, that’s “disabled”, and for starters it qualifies you for a premium parking space pretty much anywhere; we’re told to ignore the regulatory taking of the lot owner’s property and the deadweight drag on the economy because those spaces might as well be unusable most of the time. What does a little thing like costs inflicted on third parties matter when the political class is doing it for the poooor opppresssed viiictiiiims?

For myself, I refuse. I prefer self-respect to privileged treatment. Friedman’s article, despite its blind spot, is valuable because it exhibits the results of making the victim card into an ace. You get more victims, duh…and not just in the form of increasingly splintered and contrived identity groups jockeying for sweeteners from the political class, either. Individuals will internalize this strategy, too. You’ll get the kind of privileged, “intelligent and articulate” losers Friedman sees every day — useless to themselves and a misery to everyone around them.

The unintended ironies do not end with Friedman’s article, but continues with responses to it. The gravamen of which was mainly that Friedman was a bad person for writing about self-sabotagers so disdainfully, and who can blame them for not expecting a meanie like him not to be helpful?

These responses illustrate something else that politicized victimology has done to us; it has eroded the distinction between victims and trash. Before the welfare state, people used to talk of the “deserving poor”, distinguishing those who could succeed on their own character if given a little crucial help from the bone-idle, slothful, and irredeemably irresponsible. We used to be able to make a parallel distinction between people who’d failed through bad luck or adverse circumstances and people who have chosen failure and magnify their slights because that’s a role they have no intention of giving up.

The former are victims who deserve our help, if they are not too proud to take it (and it’s usually better for their children if they are too proud). The latter are trash — chronic, self-programmed losers. They deserve the contempt they work so hard to earn, and we should give it to them. Not just because it’s the appropriate response to them as individuals, but because it’s a bad thing for society when we reward chronic losers as though they really are morally superior to the rest of us. That way lies nothing but civilizational suicide on the installment plan.

That is why I congratulate Dr. Friedman on his disdain for these people;. it’s entirely healthy and appropriate. And that is also why I vow to be as nasty as I can to the next person waving the “I’m a victim!” banner in my face. Black, gay, transgendered, learning-disabled, or whatever the designated victim group of the week is — being that thing is not necessarily a flaw, but playing the victim card for a position of moral and political superiority definitely is.

For a better future, demand that individuals get respect the old-fashioned way — by earning it.

108 thoughts on “Victimology bites

  1. Well done.

    You’re right that it’s a recipe for disaster to keep encouraging people, both as individuals and as groups, to exploit potential “victim” status. On the other hand, being nasty to those who choose to wave the “I’m a victim!” banner in your face does not advance the ball. It will get you lots of flak (which I’m sure you don’t care about) but it will also fail to change their behavior. Why? Because they’ll see you as one of their “oppressors”, of course, and feel free to ignore you!

    What I’d recommend instead is to treat them as their behavior otherwise warrants. If they do something worthy of respect, praise them for it. If they make excuses (including the “victim” excuse) for stupidity or sloth or incompetence, call them on it.

    And if they appear to be worthy of your advice, then give it–just as you have here–but without rancor.

    If you want somebody to diss, diss politicians who cynically propose “solutions” to people’s problems that tend to continue the problem and encourage others to claim “victim” status.

  2. Gotta agree with the wifey, her approach is better. This post reminded me of an argument I had with my Colombian roommate today about ObamaCare. He was literally dancing a jig that “children and the lower class would now have access to medicine,” while I was telling him how various parts of the bill wouldn’t pass and were unconstitutional. Finally, he came round to telling me how it’s unjust for people to be refused medical care and die only because they couldn’t pay for it. I pointed out that people die all the time because they can’t afford food or housing or other basic services, to which all he could say was that medicine is different. This is the moronic game the left keeps playing, keep redefining “poverty” and “justice” so that people have a “right” to demand more and more services from others.

    The irony is all it does is destroy the services they try to regulate. All forcing insurance to cover pre-existing conditions will do is bankrupt insurance companies and push us closer towards a system without health insurance. In that, this bill could actually be the best of all outcomes: a suicide pill that sweeps the Democrats and Obama out of office and pushes us closer towards a system without insurance, by unintentionally wrecking a broken system so horribly that it has to be replaced with one where most payments are out of pocket and insurance is only for catastrophic events.

  3. Eric, your words are so true for the reservation quota system in India. There are some people who actually celebrate being victims of social and economic oppression. It’s a sad world when merit is no longer valued or given its due place.

    When a people stop recognizing merit, I think it’s the time when their culture starts declining. The trend must be stopped, both in politics and in society, but how? That’s the big question.

  4. Also I don’t think it’s such a complex issue as to require a psychiatrist to comment on.

    It’s an extension of giving a child a sweet to stop crying. Start giving it a sweet often enough to stop crying and soon enough it will start crying more frequently to get the sweet.

  5. You will find the whole syndrome portrayed, in detail, in Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged.

  6. What does a little thing like costs inflicted on third parties matter when the political class is doing it for the poooor opppresssed viiictiiiims?

    The real victim-player here is you, decrying the unfairness of the loss of a 2m x 4m rectangle to facilitate sound policy that improves lives. You seem to be trying to muddle the legitimate (and widely accepted) point that people need to take responsibility for genuine failure, with notions like regulatory constraints on property usage that are designed to help people who are physically handicapped.

    What I’d recommend instead is to treat them as their behavior otherwise warrants. If they do something worthy of respect, praise them for it. If they make excuses (including the “victim” excuse) for stupidity or sloth or incompetence, call them on it.

    So what you’re saying is, judge people as you see fit and then tell them what you think? Isn’t this what people do anyway? If there is a problem, it is that people have forgotten what personal responsibility means, not a unwillingness to be judgmental.

    If you want somebody to diss, diss politicians who cynically propose “solutions” to people’s problems that tend to continue the problem and encourage others to claim “victim” status.

    Like what?

  7. Okay, then you should be contemptuous of anyone who takes offense at “nigger”. Oh, look at me! I’m offended because somebody used the word “nigger”! You don’t even have to call them a nigger. All you have to do is USE “nigger”, for example to point out that somebody called somebody else a nigger. Even making reference to “nigger” in that way is to risk their offense and their opprobrium. The only appropriate use of the word is “The N word” or “N____r”.

    This is just plain bullshit. “Nigger” isn’t a magic word which causes anybody to magically feel bad about themselves, any more than saying “Voldemort” causes you to die from an imperius curse. It’s pre-scientific thinking: that words have power by their mere utterance, even if there is no intention behind the word.

    Taking offense at “nigger’ just gives aid and comfort to racists. It gives them a sharp weapon to use — FOR FREE! Blacks who don’t like “nigger” (and I’m certainly sympathetic with their position) would do much better to embrace the term, just as Friends embraced Quaker, Homosexuals embraced Gay, Queer, and Faggot, and Nerds embraced Geek. There’s even a store called “ThinkGeek”. Now if only we could see a clothing store called “Fly Nigger”, then we’d know that the word has lost all value to racists.

  8. The real victim-player here is you, decrying the unfairness of the loss of a 2m x 4m rectangle to facilitate sound policy that improves lives. You seem to be trying to muddle the legitimate (and widely accepted) point that people need to take responsibility for genuine failure, with notions like regulatory constraints on property usage that are designed to help people who are physically handicapped.

    That is about the most ridiculous statement I’ve read because.

    1. ESR wasn’t demanding any privileges for him or his group.

    2. He was stating a problem that is common in society to be a serious menace to development. Nobody says genuine victims should be abandoned on the wayside only that the attitude of victimhood must be changed.

    3. And actually rewarding the whiners and complainers will increase the number of whiners and complainers.

    Even successful people will start pursuing that strategy if it is rewarding enough and society will turn into a bunch of people who live on doles.

    Ironically enough if you continue with handing out doles to “victims” who don’t deserve it, you’re taking away resources away from the really deserving disadvantaged of the society and that’s one of the points of the article.

  9. Ajay: “health care” means nothing more than “health care I can’t afford”, which definition of course allows EVERYONE to claim that they’re being victimized.

  10. *lights off fireworks, blasts the “Ode de Joy” section of Beethoven’s 9th at max volume, does dance with ‘V’ signs made with fingers on one hand, ‘devil’s horns’ with the other*

    THIS needs to be printed on the front page of every newspaper on the planet, readings required in every classroom of every school for every grade, and 95 copies nailed to the doors of the White House and congressional building in D.C.

  11. ESR wasn’t demanding any privileges for him or his group.

    Eric was attempting to paint the property owner as a victim of government regulation. Who said anything about demanding privileges?

    He was stating a problem that is common in society to be a serious menace to development. Nobody says genuine victims should be abandoned on the wayside only that the attitude of victimhood must be changed.

    He did nothing more than make a juvenile jibe at disabled parking spots, justified primarily by the fact that he’s apparently above using them. Eric’s objection seems to be that they’re not fully utilized, but then complains that the pool of people who can use these spaces is too large. As usual, there is no policy-oriented content in either his post or your own; just vague ramblings against perceived injustices. His own silly imitation works just as well against the property owner (exercise left up to reader).

    And actually rewarding the whiners and complainers will increase the number of whiners and complainers.

    What whiners and complainers are you talking about? People in wheelchairs?

    Even successful people will start pursuing that strategy if it is rewarding enough and society will turn into a bunch of people who live on doles.

    What does this have to do with parking spaces? Given how much you’re rambling at me one could be forgiven for thinking you were suffering from victim syndrome.

    Ironically enough if you continue with handing out doles to “victims” who don’t deserve it, you’re taking away resources away from the really deserving disadvantaged of the society and that’s one of the points of the article.

    Disable parking spaces are not ‘doles’, they are physical necessities. If you were to propose say, a system where disabled people pay extra to use disabled spots I might be able to take you seriously. As it is, you’ve responded to a post about disabled parking spots with some incoherent rant with no factual content.

  12. hari’s #3: Indeed! I can turn you into a cripple in a month; all I need to do is give you a crutch and pay you to use it. In four short weeks you won’t be able to walk without it.

  13. This is just plain bullshit. “Nigger” isn’t a magic word which causes anybody to magically feel bad about themselves, any more than saying “Voldemort” causes you to die from an imperius curse. It’s pre-scientific thinking: that words have power by their mere utterance, even if there is no intention behind the word.

    I’ll make this real simple for you Russ, since it’s well known that you’re not the brightest of sorts: nigger carries meaning that many people find offensive. If you go up to a black person and call them a nigger, they would be rightly annoyed with you. Go tell your wife she’s a cunt and tell me how she reacts. It has nothing to do with “victimization” and everything to do with the fact that words mean things, and sometimes that meaning upsets people. Do the world a favor and throw yourself off a cliff, you fucking moron.

  14. Roger, my father had a blue parking pass in his car. He called the blue parking spots “the lame and lazy spots”.

    Good for him?

  15. When you can get them to attack you instead of your arguments, you win.

    This is as good as an admission that you lost the argument. How embarrassing for you.

  16. Roger, you’re not using logic here. You’re claiming victimhood on behalf of those who are offended. The problem here is not that people don’t like to be called a nigger. I know that, you fuckhead shitforbrains retard. The problem is that you can’t even say that somebody else said “nigger”. THAT is offensive to the victims. And while you obviously don’t like the fact, their victimhood is offensive to me. Your proxy victimhood on their behalf is also offensive to me. Don’t want me to be offended? Don’t claim to be a victim and don’t try to turn other people into victims.

  17. I wrote a more full response on my blog, but wanted to post some of it here.

    http://www.haxney.org/2010/03/response-to-victimology-bites.html

    The gist of my blog post is that I mostly agree with ESR, but his language imbues the creators and beneficiaries with more blame and malice than I think they deserve. It is certainly a prevalent social problem, and some are more to blame than others, but I think it exists as a perversion of the fundamentally well-intentioned and right-headed people who seek to increase social well-being.

    There doesn’t seem to be an argument as to whether there should be some form of welfare at all, it’s just the extend, amount, and target of this welfare is currently out of whack. As ESR says, victimology has “eroded the distinction between victims and trash.” The goal, then is to rebuild that distinction and throw out the trash, but to try to avoid throwing out the real victims as well.

  18. Yeah about that word nigger:

    It’s a strange thing: it is the forbidden word, yet you seem to hear it all the time.

    I think we all know that white people are not really supposed to say it, but black people can for reasons of historical injustice.

    It is amazing to me how well this prohibition holds: even white stand up comedians, normally people who pride themselves on saying anything and pushing the envelope, won’t say it. Not even people like Sarah Silverman.

    On the topic of self defeating behaviour: I used to hear this called the Irish disease, Ronald Reagan’s father was said to have it. It generally reveals itself as an ability to handle hard, tough times, but be unable to handle it when things start going well, and do something to sabotage it like getting blind drunk.

  19. esr,

    If the parking lot is full or close to full, please use the handicap parking spots given that you qualify for them. It leaves a parking place (or a better parking place) for the rest of us. Pride is a fine thing, but less fine if it hoses everybody else.

  20. Good post. Allow me to contribute a minor historical correction: the erosion of the distinction between the deserving poor and the undeserving poor actually predates, and helped lead to, the welfare state. The concept of the deserving poor began to be attacked by Progressive reformers roughly 90 years ago (IIRC). Once the distinction was gone, a bureaucracy that doesn’t make moral judgments could hand out aid in a more “modern” and “efficient” manner.

  21. Roger, you’re not using logic here. You’re claiming victimhood on behalf of those who are offended.

    I’m pretty sure you don’t know the first thing about logic. I’m not claiming victimhood, I’m claiming the word is offensive. I don’t say the word ‘fuck’ around the elderly, because they come from a generation that’s more sensitive to it. That’s because I have what are called ‘social skills’. The one who is playing the victim here is you, complaining because (shock) you have to be careful with words that are likely to offend. Oh, the injustice!

    The problem is that you can’t even say that somebody else said “nigger”. THAT is offensive to the victims.

    You must be an embarrassing person to have around. In polite company you also have to be careful about how you use the phrases “bloody diarrhea” or “vomiting fecal matter”. Who are you going to pin the blame for that one on? Like all words with potent meaning, “nigger” needs to be used with care. Evidently you lack the necessary social skills to do so.

    And while you obviously don’t like the fact, their victimhood is offensive to me. Your proxy victimhood on their behalf is also offensive to me. Don’t want me to be offended? Don’t claim to be a victim and don’t try to turn other people into victims.

    I don’t care whether you’re offended, because it’s pretty clear you’re a nutter. There’s no accommodating the oversensitive feelings of people who can’t integrate with society.

  22. I was just ranting about this a couple days ago. Nigger just means black, so technically all you’re saying is black in another way. Limey came from British sailors carrying lime for vitamin C to ward off scurvy while the Krauts carried Sauerkraut for the same reason, yet Wikipedia feels the need to categorize both as ethnic slurs. Kike apparently originated from eastern european jews whose names ended in -ki and was even an affectionate term. Now, I understand where this avoidance originates: some bigot started using the terms as epithets and the recipients internalized the hate behind that word and started to feel like any use had to have the same hate behind it. However, in this extremely PC day and age, somebody needs to tell them to get over themselves and shut the fuck up: not everybody who uses those words does so for the same malevolent reasons.

  23. I was just ranting about this a couple days ago. Nigger just means black, so technically all you’re saying is black in another way

    You could not be more wrong. Words do not have well-defined meaning. If you disagree, well, let me know when you have your award-winning thesis finished. Words carry more than factual meaning; there are words whose only purpose is, in fact, to carry such meaning. Nigger carries lots of implications. If you’re not sure about what they are in a particular context, don’t use it.

    However, in this extremely PC day and age, somebody needs to tell them to get over themselves and shut the fuck up: not everybody who uses those words does so for the same malevolent reasons.

    Someone needs to tell people to shut the fuck up and get over themselves for being offended by the term “dick shitting nipples”. No wait, the other thing: you should stop railing against completely reasonable social accommodations.

  24. Roger, saying words have more than factual meaning takes you off into la la land. The truth is that those words have essentially been redefined into curse words with no meaning, other than supposedly being vaguely anti-black or anti-jew, despite their antecedents being fairly innocuous. So Nigger has lots of implications but they’re all non-factual? Got it, great to see the crazy “logic” of a leftist at work. What is reasonable about the social fantasy of imparting hate to all use of a particular word, regardless of the intent or usage? All it is is an excuse for dimwits to try and claim victimhood regardless of the situation, like the retards complaining cuz Rahm Emanuel said “retarded.”

  25. I find the term “dick shitting nipples” to be hilarious, not offensive.

  26. esr, the victim(izer) is you. Self-victimizing people haven’ got a problem, they follow a perversely successful strategy do fulfill their goal and so do the politicians and the Friedmans tending to their needs. They are the winners in the government pyramid scheme; it’s you who feel aggrieved, it’s your itch and you’d better start scratching it yourself. In other words, even the undeserving poor deserve your help, although a completely different kind of help than the deserving ones. They do need your help to turn into deserving poor and they must get it because it’s your tax money they are now spending, it’s your economy they are crashing, it’s your civilization they are destroying.

    By opening them a door toward self-reliance, you can achieve two things: first some of them will stop being part of the problem and will become part of the solution. This is quite important since as you have repeatedly mentioned the number of those relying on their victim status to make a living is quite large and, more relevant, politicians depend on them for their (re)election. Secondly, the “success stories” – of victims becoming independent members of the community will expose the other (or at least some of them) to the public opinion as the “profiteers” they are. that will make them more of a liability for the politicians and thus will further reduce their clout. Finally, as you know first hand, freedom can be at least as intoxicating and addictive as “entitlement.” But for the government-mandated bureaucracy, running your own business is more rewarding both financially and in terms of fun than being an employee. And, as your two friends are painfully aware, holding a “permanent full-time job” is no protection during a downturn. So, not only will some of the victims stop being a burden, they will join you in scratching your now common itch.

    The 19th century anarchists beleived that the fall of the established reactionary governments (caused by any means) would automatically lead to the blissful state of communist anarchy. However, the collapse of the Roman Empire had lead to feudalism not hte Second Coming, and the collapse of tsarist Russia opened the way to Lenin and Stalin, not to the Constitutional-Democrats or Kerenski. Eighteen years after the fall of USSR, only its smallest and most dynamic satellites have somewhat left behind the legacy of communism, despite strong support from all the major (capitalist) economies of the world. so, when the current Government will fail/fall its’s better to have Sons of Liberty prepared to fill in the void, or the Attilas and Lenins of that day will.

  27. Roger, saying words have more than factual meaning takes you off into la la land.

    You are plainly wrong. The word ‘fuck’ has plenty of meaning beyond what is objective. Words are used to convey many things that are not readily defined. If you can’t see this, well, come back when you have a basic understanding of language. I cannot help you if you are uneducated in this area.

    The truth is that those words have essentially been redefined into curse words with no meaning, other than supposedly being vaguely anti-black or anti-jew, despite their antecedents being fairly innocuous.

    So it’s appropriate for a doctor to talk to a woman about her ‘cunt’? Give me a break; these words are offensive and no amount of psuedo-intellectual rambling will change that. Since when is nigger “vaguely anti-black”? It carries the connotation of contempt for black people that is activated under certain usages and in certain contexts. This is highly dependent upon the listener, also.

    So Nigger has lots of implications but they’re all non-factual? Got it, great to see the crazy “logic” of a leftist at work.

    Right, so pointing out a basically indisputable fact that can be demonstrated with examples makes me a ‘crazy’ leftist? Why are you quoting the word “logic” here? My usage of the word was in reference to some silly comment Russell Nelson made and has nothing to do with any claims I was making. It’s not crazy left-wing logic to acknowledge that the meaning conveyed by words is complex and has content that does not relate to specific facts. If you can show that this is not true, then you will be the world’s most famous linguist.

    What is reasonable about the social fantasy of imparting hate to all use of a particular word, regardless of the intent or usage?

    Tell me: how often do you have to use the word “nigger” to get the point across? Almost never, that’s how often. So when you’re saying it you say it carefully, and not within earshot of people who may misinterpret it. This is for the same reason you don’t use other offensive terms in certain contexts. I’ve had cause to use the word nigger amongst friends once or twice, because I knew they would not misinterpret me. But please, do continue trying to paint me as a leftist when you don’t know the first thing about my politics; it entertains me.

    All it is is an excuse for dimwits to try and claim victimhood regardless of the situation, like the retards complaining cuz Rahm Emanuel said “retarded.”

    Some people were rightfully offended by this; however, they should be offended that the media reported it. Emanuel didn’t put those words out in public for everyone to hear. Plenty of people use the word “retard” with contempt, and that has changed its common usage. Meanwhile, you’re off in fantasy land pointing to your dictionary as an excuse for poor use of language.

  28. Interesting article – but even more interesting comments. Bravo Roger for intelligently representing an alternative viewpoint.

  29. Roger, I see, so the word fuck has non-”objective” meaning that cannot be articulated, how perfectly tautological. I prefer not to be “educated” in your sophistry. When did anybody bring up the word “cunt” before you just did? I realize it suits your purpose to blanket label words as “offensive” but Russ precisely argued why that is idiotic, an explanation you are either too dumb to understand or would prefer to ignore so that you can claim victimhood from those words. Nigger is vaguely anti-black, because it means black but has been redefined as a curse word, only to be used by those who are supposedly anti-black, and of course those who are black. How perfectly logical. I’m glad to see you now magically understand the importance of context, that you appeared ignorant of before and which Russ emphasized in his original comment that you blustered on against.

    There’s nothing indisputable about “subjective implications” that are non-factual, try to maintain some grip on your “logic,” which deserves quotes when leftists try to rationalize their tortured tropes. If you’re not a leftist, please self-describe, that’s the impression I get. I think what you’re trying to grasp at is that the meaning of words is socially constructed. Russ and I are arguing against the construction of completely taboo words, that are idiotically treated as being off-limits in any context. Yes, I never use the word nigger myself, as I almost never need it: the modern equivalent, black, does fine. However, I have used the word oriental and had a Korean somehow try to claim that was improper, which proved not to be the case. It is this creeping officiousness that we’re railing against, and you perfectly exhibit the dumb arguments made for it.

  30. Being offended and being a victim are two different things and the emotional meaning of words varies with context just as much as their semantic meaning. On the one hand, one can be an offensive racist using only PC language: “You know, I forgot he was black tonight for an hour.” (http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=1625)

    On the other hand, if a doctor uses the word ‘cunt’ speaking to a patient a) there is no problem if neither party attaches any offensive meaning to the word in that context; b) it can be offensive toward that particular woman (if other females have a ‘vagina’); or c) it can be a derogatory term evidencing the male chauvinism of that particular doctor. All three cases are possible and none may be ruled out from the start. What if the doctor is a female? Is she a male chauvinist? What if a person saying ‘nigger’ is an African American? Is (s)he a white-supremacist? When my nephew was three or four, he thought what can be translated as ‘your mamma’ was a swearing word and giggled accordingly because he had been exposed only to the shortened, ‘decent’ version of the actual swearing. Did that make ‘your momma’ an offensive phrase in any circumstance?

    As long as people feel contempt toward an individual or a group they will find ways of using acceptable words offensively (e.g. ‘your momma’). Discontinuing using words because some use them offensively will kill a language and by consequence the ability of articulate thinking more effectively as a newspeak dictionary. I can think of no other reason to use of prefabricated phrases with prefabricated emotional and informational meanings besides political bigotry, than terminal mental laziness.

  31. My comment at 1:30am is still awaiting moderation while the one at 2:46 am is already posted immediately.Is it because the second one contains ‘offensive language’?

  32. Roger Phillips, how amusing… putting words into my mouth. Common tactic of people who lose arguments before it starts.

    People in wheelchairs deserve certain specific privileges which address their core problem and grant them relief physically. That’s not in debate here.

    The issue in question is “victimhood” privilege claimed by politically powerful special interest groups not the treatment of disabled or “differently abled” people by society.

    As a matter of fact, people with physical disabilities have far less privileges than political groups representing certain “socially and economically disadvantaged” classes who in fact live on dole handed out by the state at the cost of the public.

    This is not playing any victimhood game. This is merely stating facts of life.

  33. hari, if you think I’m putting words into your mouth, quote me.

  34. ““World To End Tomorrow; Women, Minorities Most Affected””

    It was better than that, Eric: the wonderfully alliterative “Hardest Hit”!

  35. “These responses illustrate something else that politicized victimology has done to us; it has eroded the distinction between victims and trash.”

    Oh, I fear we’ll see a lot more of this in years to come. I figure that “racism!” as the favorite Gramscian trump card of the last decade or so is going to be rendered rather ineffective during the next election cycle; good ole victimology as you describe it must surely be warming up in the bullpen.

    Similarly, Peak Oil will fully replace AGW as the next thing that will “f-ing end us!”

    Why, it’s as regular as transits of Neptune through successive astrological signs or something! ;)

  36. “Nigger” isn’t a magic word which causes anybody to magically feel bad about themselves, any more than saying “Voldemort” causes you to die from an imperius curse.

    No one ever died from the Imperius Curse. Perhaps you were thinking of Avada Kedavra, the Killing Curse?

    What?

    How dare you call me a hopeless dweeb! That’s offensive and discriminatory and racist, and if you don’t apologize right now and pay me reparations, I’m calling the media, the cops, and my lawyer.

  37. Roger Phillips Says:
    > complaining because (shock) you have to be careful with words that
    > are likely to offend. Oh, the injustice!

    I once again find myself in the disturbing position of agreeing with Roger. Words certainly mean a great deal more than their etymology, and some words carry huge amounts of baggage with them, this certainly being an example.

    However, I see concerns here that I don’t think you are answering Roger. Firstly, the fact is that many people in the black community use the word ‘nigger’ in reference to each other a great deal. If the word is so offensive then it should be offensive on everybody’s lips, no matter the melanin content. Personally, I find it deeply offensive to hear this word being used widely in the ghetto black culture, in their music and art, not to mention in common speech. It is even common in some mainstream black comedian’s routines, such as Chris Rock. Sorry, what is good for the goose is good for the gander.

    Secondly, it is bizarre that the word is treated like radioactivity. It can’t even be used in analytically, or with a disparaging reference. The fact is that I feel uncomfortable using the word in this comment, even though I am doing so to criticize its use. Perhaps that is intellectual weakness on my part, but it is a viewpoint commonly pushed by my guilty white culture.

    Let me ask you a third thing. Is it OK for school children to read books containing this word, written two hundred years ago when this words was common vernacular, or should those books be tossed in the garbage, or pulled from the reading list? I’m honestly interested to know your opinion on this.

  38. Jessica Boxer Says:
    > Firstly, the fact is that many people in the black community use the
    > word ‘nigger’ in reference to each other a great deal.

    You know, I was thinking about this some more and it occurred to me that perhaps this is the thing that Russell referred to in his comment. Often victimized groups adopt slurs against themselves proudly. “Queer” is common amongst the homosexual community in self reference, “Quaker” and so forth. This does seem to go through phases of offensive, then ironic self reference within group, to mainstream in the community, to mainstream in the whole of society. I wonder if that is what is happening to ‘nigger’. After all, calling a gay person “queer” is still offensive if you are heterosexual.

    I don’t know what that means, but it just seemed an interesting thought.

  39. There’s also another construction of the word “nigger” that parallels “redneck” or “white trash”. It’s usually spelled “nigga” and is vocally indistinguishable unless you emphasize the “err” or “a”.

  40. “…some words carry huge amounts of baggage with them…”

    I know what you’re getting at, Jessica, but I think it is unhelpful to promote the idea that words ‘carry’ anything. A word is a string of symbols – visible or audible – that match a pattern of understanding in my head.

    I could run around the Serengeti all day yelling “NIGGER!” at every tribesman I saw, and they wouldn’t have a clue.

    The point being, it is very much up to the individual to form their own understanding of a word. It is also up to the individual to get a grip on whether they allow themselves to feel emotions like “offense” in association with a word.

    Unfortunately, there is a societal trade in incubating and fostering the most negative emotional responses to certain words, to effect political motivation.

  41. > I once again find myself in the disturbing position of agreeing with Roger. Words certainly mean a great deal more than their etymology, and some words carry huge amounts of baggage with them, this certainly being an example.

    I am not disturbed to agree with Roger and Jessica. Back in the day, when I went to high school the teachers taught me that words had connotations (their meaning) and denotations (the extra information they carried which was reflected in how they were use. People have been using a whole lot of words in this public forum which I will not repeat. I’m fine with using them for their connotations but I’m not interested in doing so because of their denotations.

    Yours,
    Tom

  42. Re “handicapped spaces”. Many years ago, I had a co-worker who part-timed as an installer for a company that sold telephone systems to medium-small businesses. They had offices in a suburban office park, with a few parking spaces. One of these was (by law) reserved for the handicapped, even though they had no walk-in customers, much less handicapped customers.

    My acquaintance used that space as a ‘loading zone’, when putting equipment to be installed in the back of his pickup truck. The space was marked with a sign on a pole, at the center of the back edge. The sign stuck up just far enough to obstruct the back of the truck bed, interfering with loading.

    So my acquaintance moved the sign two feet to one side. It was still on the back edge of the “handicapped” space, and still clearly marked it. But that wasn’t satisfactory to the relevant government authorities. They sent a peremptory notice demanding that the sign be restored to the exact center of the space, under pain of substantial fines.

    Think of all the deadweight costs here. Not the reserved space, so much – it was effectively resorbed by using it for loading. But the sign, and the bureaucracy required to inspect it, and enforce the regulation on its placement. Thousands of dollars, almost certainly, and all for nothing. (And the inconvenience to my acquaintance when loading his truck.)

    This one case is trivial. But repeat millions of times, and as Senator Everett Dirksen was supposed to have said, “you’re talking about real money.”

    Competitive victimization is also on display in international affairs. Palestinian Arabs wallow in it – to the point of self-sabotage (i.e. refusal to leave squalid refugee camps for resettlement). To be sure, their Israeli adversaries have made immense use of the moral authority of victimhood, and imitation is flattery. And Israelis and other Jews make considerable efforts to perpetuate the memory of their terrible victimization – I have never quite understood why the U.S.</i should have an official "Holocaust Museum", but apparently the Jews wanted one.

    Russian imperialism is justified by the USSR's losses in World War II. Germans and Japanese flaunt their countries' suffering at the end of the war to evade the bad karma associated with their aggressions and war crimes.

    All of this boils down to a simple principle: positive reinforcement tends to increase the condition. When it's an undesirable condition, people will fake it if possible, but if necessary will make it real.

  43. > Unfortunately, there is a societal trade in incubating and fostering the most negative emotional responses to certain words, to effect political motivation.

    You have to be kidding. Creating new insults is normal talking ape behavior in the form of fitness displays designed to jockey for status. In addition we all work to create varying levels of insults to maximize our tactical flexibility.

    In short, we want to be able to insult other people.

    Yours,
    Tom

  44. I was emphasizing esr’s point about our grievance-mongering society, not ‘insults’ in general.

  45. @Tom DeGisi: I think you switched ‘connotation’ and ‘denotation’ there.

    I’m not sure how this thread got onto the appropriateness of using words like ‘nigger’. I find myself largely in agreement with Roger Phillips in that it is in general inappropriate for people to use such words in the contexts in which their racist/sexist/whatever-ist connotations were established, because those words in those contexts are in general associated with whatever flavor of bigotry their connotations convey. However, I don’t like the sort of sensitivity which makes those words ALWAYS convey bigoted intent on the part of the speaker, no matter the context, nor do I agree with, for instance, movements to remove books like Huckleberry Finn from reading lists for their use of words like ‘nigger’. In large part, it seems the furor surrounding those words is at least a self-sustaining byproduct of the culture of victimhood, because they are kept in the culture by people going loudly ape over their usually trivial use, which causes more people to be aware of, and a small proportion to use, those words.

  46. PapayaSF:
    Allow me to contribute a minor historical correction: the erosion of the distinction between the deserving poor and the undeserving poor actually predates, and helped lead to, the welfare state. The concept of the deserving poor began to be attacked by Progressive reformers roughly 90 years ago (IIRC). Once the distinction was gone, a bureaucracy that doesn’t make moral judgments could hand out aid in a more “modern” and “efficient” manner.

    An extremely interesting sideline. Once individual free will was replaced by a mechanistic model of human behavior, responsibility went out the window, to be replaced by environment and nature, with social engineering and eugenics galloping right behind.

  47. For fun with handicapped parking spaces, I had knee surgery about 2 year ago. Nothing major, but I was on crutches for about a week and a half. Since this was a short-term temporary thing, I wasn’t issued a handicapped parking sticker or anything (I never even thought to ask). However, that meant that I couldn’t use one at the grocery store when needed to buy food. I showed up one day and decided to come back after midnight so I could both avoid crowds and park reasonably close to the store. I really could have benefited from such a space at that time because I couldn’t walk without crutches.

    We have handicapped parking spaces to make it easy for people with mobility difficulties. I couldn’t use the handicapped space because I didn’t have a sticker, on pain of government penalty. We have government penalties because people are, quite frankly, jerks and would take up those spaces if not otherwise prohibited. For entertainment, it’s generally believed that there are more fake handicapped stickers/license plates than legitimate ones. In short, the people who need the spaces can’t always use them, and the people who use them frequently don’t need them. How’s that for fun?

  48. Jessica, Chris Rock made a distinction between “niggers” and “black people”, and did a routine on the war between the two.

    You can’t have anything valuable in your house. Niggers will break in and take it all! Everything white people don’t like about black people, black people don’t like about black people. It’s like our own personal civil war. On one side, there’s black people. On the other, you’ve got niggers. The niggers have got to go. I love black people, but I hate niggers. I am tired of niggers. Tired, tired, tired.

    NSFW Video

  49. Interesting article and analysis.

    If ESR is correct, then what really bothers me is the implications from a public policy perspective. As the entitlement state grows exponentially over this year and possibly the years following, this problem will only grow worse. Put simply, the permanent victim class hides within the ranks of the genuinely aggrieved and oppressed. From the government’s perspective they are camouflaged past the point of being indistinguishable. The government has no mechanism to determine the lazy from those who truly need help and no politician will ever step forward with a plan for distinguishing the two. Thus both get the entitlement and the generous spirit that originally intended to help those who are truly in need is corrupted, almost from the outset, by those who think nothing of government approved thievery. I would expect to see this phenomenon expand.

  50. Tom Dickson-Hunt,

    > I think you switched ‘connotation’ and ‘denotation’ there.

    I did, didn’t I. Oops.

    Yours,
    Tom

  51. > I pointed out that people die all the time because they can’t afford food or housing or other basic services, to which all he could say was that medicine is different.

    Lots of people die because they don’t have firearms and training in their use. Does your friend want to remedy that? There’s this model government program in Switzerland….

    Yours,
    Tom

  52. >Thus both get the entitlement and the generous spirit that originally intended to help those who are truly in need is corrupted, almost from the outset, by those who think nothing of government approved thievery. I would expect to see this phenomenon expand.

    To quote the Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, “There is another theory which states that this has already happened.”

  53. In large part, it seems the furor surrounding those words is at least a self-sustaining byproduct of the culture of victimhood, because they are kept in the culture by people going loudly ape over their usually trivial use, which causes more people to be aware of, and a small proportion to use, those words.

    We had an incident at Kansas City International Airport with a Southwest flight attendant on the PA system calling out to the passengers “Eenie, meanie, miney, moe! Get your bags; it’s time to go!

    Some black passengers raised a ruckus, because one version of the “Eenie, meanie” rhyme has as its second line “Catch a nigger by his toe”. Another version has a tiger being caught; the flight attendant had only heard that “tiger” version. I happened to hear a radio program in which an older black lady pointed out the irony that the only way to teach younger people like the flight attendant not to use that rhyme was to teach them the “nigger” version. In order to end racism, you have to perpetuate it.

  54. @esr:
    Well said, sir

    @everyone else:
    As far as parking spaces goes, esr is right. Not only is esr right, he’s damned right. All of you yapping about parking spaces being good public policy have obviously never owned a retail establishment or worked on (re-)designing a parking lot in your lives. You pretty much end up designing the whole thing around the minimum number of spaces the city requires, along with the minimum number of handicap spaces demanded by APA, state codes, etc (which is usually around 10% of your spaces).

    Being logistically unable to provide the minimum number of spaces — for whatever reason — will require you to hire an expert to fight your case with whatever zoning board of appeals, etc., is required for your locality to get a variance. This will cost you much time and money and potentially delay your project by weeks, sometimes even months.

    (Disclaimer: my father is in the architectural services industry and has done this sort of work before.)

  55. Morgan Greywolf,

    The most immoral man I ever knew threw a pass at every woman who worked for him. In at least one case the pass was caught and there ended up being a legal payoff. He was a pathological liar – lying when it didn’t even make sense – our company did not make radios for the CIA. He always parked in the handicapped spaces. He wanted to add more officies to the building and when denied because of lack of spaces did it without a permit.

    Apparently he didn’t think the laws of physics applied to him either. He had a large, load bearing pillar removed for aesthic reasons. After that the second fllor bounced when you walked across it, and the walls between the offices actually pulled away from the outer walls, so youcould look from office to office.

    The law is supposed to teach people to obey the law. Laws held in wide contempt do the opposite. They should be repealed to protect the majesty and pedagogic functions of the law as a whole.

    Maybe that should be a Constitutional amendment. Call it the Gandi / Thoreau clause.

    Yours,
    Tom

  56. Before there were “handicapped” (what does that mean, anyway?) parking spaces, many grocery stores had signs outside asking customers to leave spaces next to the door for our “crippled friends” or something like that. And I never heard any cripple complain that there weren’t enough spaces. Even today most “handicapped” spaces are empty most of the time. The truth is, most people were nice and left “crippled” parking spaces for cripples. Sure there were jerks who didn’t , but they suffered social opprobrium. And you know what? Most of the jerks were minorities. Just observation. But when the government stepped in and levied $250 fines for parking in the crippled spaces, no one would have left one free without the fine. We Americans resent oppression.

  57. @Tom DeGisi: You know the really cool thing about the laws of physics.? They really, really do apply to everyone equally. :) One day someone’s going to fall through that floor — or maybe the whole building will collapse even. (Depends on what the pillar was holding up). Either way, your boss will pay financially in spades if he still owns the building

    What your boss did without a permit will, in many jurisdictions, result in very large fines. Further failure to comply can have some very serious consequences, including the locality seizing the property in question. It can, unfortunately, depend on how well the man is connected, however.

  58. Robert: indeed, that is how government action works: rather than creating new services from nothing, it displaces and publicizes already-existing private action. Medicaid didn’t create health care for the poor, it simply caused doctors and hospitals to stop providing them free or cheap medical care.

  59. Morgan: fuck you, and everybody else who creates a job in today’s America. Shut up and pay your taxes.

    Originally I said “Obama’s America”, but y’know, he didn’t start it even though he obviously isn’t planning to end it.

    Roger: You say “Like all words with potent meaning, “nigger” needs to be used with care.” My point here, which you seem to be obtusely ignoring, is that you can’t say nigger at all if you’re white. Not in polite company, not quietly, not outside of the earshot of anyone who might be offended. It’s racist if you go into in the middle of the woods in Maine, hundreds of miles from anyone else, and whisper “nigger”. You just can’t say it, even to say that someone else said it. It’s not a question of being sensitive of other people’s feelings. It’s a question of, as someone here put it, the word being radioactive. Say nigger, and you are a social outcast NO MATTER THE CONTEXT. The people who are offended are, I claim, purposely positioning themselves as victims, to be re-injured any time anyone says the word.

    Note that I never once called anybody a nigger. I merely used the word. Yet, the first time a victim sees this, they will criticize me. Oh, wait, you already did.

  60. > My point here, which you seem to be obtusely ignoring, is that you can’t say nigger at all if you’re white.

    “Can’t?”

    Looks like you just did, Russell. What’s your problem, exactky? That you want to be able to say “nigger” with gay abandon and not offend anyone?

    Seems a funny thing to spend time worrying about, frankly.

  61. Many people here seem to be implying that stating facts about the victimhood syndrome is itself a part of the victimhood syndrome. No, it’s a logical absurdity to argue this.

    The point is people who are speaking out against the victimhood syndromes are NOT guilty of indulging in it because they are:

    1. Not putting themselves into a position of weakness deliberately to assume moral superiority deceptively over others.
    2. Not trying to create a situation where we benefit materially from any privileges society grants to special groups of people.
    3. Not trying to turn the tables on real victims or people who really deserve social help – rather just the opposite by calling out the undeserving lazy beneficiaries.
    4. Not trying to turn ourselves into a special group itself wanting privileges and benefits over others.

  62. In order to end racism, you have to perpetuate it.

    There’s another amusing race-to-the-bottom effect i’ve noticed, particularly in “media assisted” racism witch hunts.

    I’m sure everyone remembers the kkkramer incident right? Michael Richards spectacularly blowing his cool because some jerkwad who happened to be black felt the need to be a dick.

    The most amusing part about the whole thing was that everyone was all up in arms that this white cracker (hey thats not racist right because it’s not about a minority? (sorry… pet peeve. anyway moving on)) using the word nigger several times.

    Of course what so many reports, disapproving comments and scornful moral criticisms failed to report was the slightly longer “Fifty years ago they’d have you hanging upside down with a f*&king fork up your ass”. Now
    YMMV but i’m pretty sure that statement is much much more offensive than “nigger” (pretty much by definition since all those thoughts that people are saying nigger “means” are being specifically portrayed in a way that requires no historical contextual).

    Being offended by the words people say is great and all, but when someone bypasses something that is specifically and undeniably spouting the same thoughts because of those words it makes me fundamentally doubt their sincerity on that issue.

  63. Jessica, Chris Rock made a distinction between “niggers” and “black people”, and did a routine on the war between the two.

    And has since disowned it, according to wikipedlo. This stuff is called “reclamation of language” on the left, and there is some debate over whether it serves a righteous purpose or just muddies the water and erodes hard-won taboos, as it seems to have done in Rock’s case.

  64. “…Rock said, “By the way, I’ve never done that joke again, ever, and I probably never will. ‘Cause some people that were racist thought they had license to say nigger. So, I’m done with that routine.” …”

    He didn’t disown the sentiment behind it, but rather refused to continue delivering the comedy routine because he saw how it was being abused by racists. Understandable.

  65. @Russell Nelson

    Morgan: fuck you, and everybody else who creates a job in today’s America. Shut up and pay your taxes.

    Erm. I’m sure by the tone of your various posts in this thread, you’re trying to make some point. Taking a SWAG here, but I think you’re trying to make almost the same point Cathy Raymond made in the first post, using reductio ad absurdum? Or is it something a bit more than that?

  66. An interesting discussion that began with my reaction of “oh god. Not another psych theory.” to being surprised at the point of view offered by the respondents. This is in relation to the welfare state enabling laziness and theft. To now being left with the thought that it is in helping the lazy and bone idle that holds back the “deserving poor” – I think you called it. I came to this conclusion because I am claiming benefit but know that I could help myself if I could get the help I require. Trouble is that in treating everyone within a particular group in the same way not everyone gets the help they require or is appropriate. I have bothered to write letters to the government ministers responsible asking for money to start my own business – give a man a fish and he can feed himself for a day. Give a man a fishing rod and he can feed himself for a lifetime. The response is that they could not do that. I presume and I see the irony, considering that I am getting financial help from the govt’, is that the governments point is that if we help one person in a certain way they would have to do the same for others – which of course in its own way circles back to round to being held back by the help which is being given.

    But really the matter of victimisation is really more complex, and I think in isolating this particular point that it loses all context. As some people have mentioned in this thread that words have baggage. In other words there are connections which stops isolation. we can not understand one point without weighing it against neighbouring point and that other neighbouring point against its neighbouring point and so on. The truth is like an orange and we each hold a segment. Our goal should be to gain more segments. — thats my two cents worth.

  67. “….I have bothered to write letters to the government ministers responsible asking for money to start my own business…”

    *sputtering rage*

    Shame you couldn’t be “bothered” to do what others do and actually GET OFF YOUR FUCKING ASS AND WORK HARD TO START A BUSINESS.

    Go to a bank and seek a loan, convince them of the value of your business plan, inspire them to invest in you. Or is your ‘plan’ nothing more than worthless welfare parasite bullshit? LOSER

  68. @Dan I would guess you are American. And banks tend to like to give money to those who dont need the money. And you are right I am a loser in Darwinian terms. I was born not having what it takes to succeed and have had it drummed into me all my life, probably by people like you who on the one hand complain about the position I am in but on the other maintain my position by your relentless mockery – and yes I suspect the less people who are in competition with your position the better is the underlying cause of your hostility – displaced anger – fear.

    As I wrote, it is not that simple. Its all connected. You cannot isolate one little piece of information for you own ends.

    Its what you have to admire about the right – the complete lack of thought and the jumping to conclusions that that ends results in.

    Just think if the tables were turned and I was in your position and you in mine – would you find it so easy as getting up off my arse?

  69. Kind of as a side note, but sparked by Crassone’s comment and Dan’s rage: First generation immigrants from China or South East Asia have kind of a second option for generating capital and being successful (convincing banks or venture capitalists to lend you money being the first).

    Essentially, the whole extended family acts as a bank, as well as a versatile, cheap labor force. Hong arrives from Vietnam with her two daughters. She and her sister (who was already in the US) open a hair and nail saloon, think “Happy Nails”. They get a loan to start the business from Grandpa Vo. They don’t need much because Hong’s two daughters are practically working for free and the whole family lives in two small rooms in the back of the store. A few cousins are also recruited to work the shifts when Hong’s daughters are studying.

    The family lives cheap, puts in 12 hour work days, and in 5 years they are paying Grandpa Vo back. In ten years they are making good money and move into an apartment. In 15 years, they move into a house, open another hair and nail saloon, which provides 6 new jobs for their nieces and nephews who just arrived from the other side of the pacific.

    This system is one of the reasons that Asian immigrants (specifically those of Chinese descent) do so well in America. It is also one of the reasons, in my opinion, that those of Chinese descent who moved to South East Asia centuries ago, quickly rose to the top of the economic ladder. It is a kind of hybrid, tribal, communitarian, entrepreneurism.

  70. @chris. yes it would be nice if i could do that. But I am alone. I have saved money though despite being on “handouts”. When I saved enough I thought here we go lets start. Then I hit a second problem that I had not foreseen – theres no where to do it. One of the problems of having no family and no roots is that it piles difficulty upon difficulty. Most people at my age have a home of there own and therefore somewhere to do it if not being able to use there home as collateral. I realise it might sound like what I am writing proves the article correct – that somehow I am sabotaging myself. But really have you noticed that we are all born into different situations and our lives progress from there.

  71. @crassone I would have said that, in general, it is having a family that piles difficulty upon difficulty. Having someone else to feed does not help the entrepreneurial spirit. It really does sound like you are sounding off tidbits from self-help books, or in general, that you have rationalized your problems and made yourself believe that they are impossible to solve. Writing ready-made phrases about how all of us ‘are born into different situations’ does nothing to further your particular case.

    And I do think that for some people, going to the bank is not an option, and that some governments do some good some of the time. But I’ve seen many that revel in their misery like Eric writes in this post. Mo’nique makes a similar point from the opposite point of view in Precious, I think.

  72. crassone: If the business you wish to start requires funds, then the only way for you to succeed is to devise a method to obtain those funds. As a suggestion (I have no idea what your situation is), perhaps you should think about starting a slimmer business, something that you can do by yourself and requires fewer funds to start. For instance, if you live in an urban area, perhaps window washing. A bucket, a squidgy, some towels or rags and maybe some window cleaner and some steel wool for the baked-on bird shit and you’re in business. Total investment (here in the US) about $50.

    If you’re in the countryside, perhaps you could broker deals between farmers. For instance, farmers raising live stock usually have stalls to be mucked out, farmers who grow vegetables for market need manure for their crops. You can find the farmers of each type, make a deal with each to move the manure from one place to another at a set price per load, possibly even securing a wagon,t trailer, or use of a truck in the deal. Your investment (if you get one of the farmers to supply the transportation) is a shovel and a broom. You get paid several TIMES what you would get paid to simply muck out the stalls for the one farmer, and the added value is finding the market (the vegetable farmer). The same could be done with the manure farmer and businesses/well-to-do home owners in the city if you have the means of transportation and probably having a higher profit. If you have property, store the manure at the property and let it sit for a couple of months to reduce the smell. That will make it more acceptable and increase the value to the city-folks.

    Just because you can’t afford to start a Starbucks, doesn’t mean you can’t be an entrepreneur.

    Oh, and it’s “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, TEACH a man to fish and you feed him for life.” Confucius said nothing about giving away rods, he expected his students to go find their own rods because the search makes them better people (and more able fishermen). Go find your rod!

    Leaning on government is never a productive thing in my experience. A man who stands on his own two feet and is beholden to no one is more likely to succeed in anything he does, but he must apply his wits and develop his skills. Pick your task, follow it religiously, be the VERY BEST at whatever you pick, and you are more likely to succeed than fail. Even if you fail, you’ll learn more about yourself and how to BE successful than you knew when you started and that increases you chances of success on the next try. If you don’t put all your resources into it, and if you aren’t beholden to a government (or a banker), then you’ll be able to move from manure trading to window washing with almost no interruption, and eventually you’ll be paying somebody to put manure on the plants and wash the windows in your own Starbucks :^).

    Good luck!

  73. Morgan, I’m just disgusted by how badly treated are the hard-working people who CREATE the jobs that politicians take credit for. Obama stands up there and says “and I’m going to create millions of jobs.” Bullshit he is. He’s going to tax capital and tax anybody with more than an average amount of money, who are the ONLY people who have the proven ability to create jobs. The perverseness of it just makes me tremble with rage. Stop it, I say! You say you want one thing most of all, and then you do the EXACT thing MOST LIKELY to stop you from getting that thing.” I feel like Prometheus, only instead of having my liver eaten out, it’s my brain.

  74. Tom, no, I don’t want to offend anyone. I want to be able to say “Racists call black people niggers”, or “So and so called somebody else a nigger”. Be offended by the fact of racism, or the act of labelling somebody a nigger. But stop fricking being a victim and taking offense at factual statements including “nigger”.

  75. I read the article. To me it is typical 20th century psychobabble which seldom can get itself to the core of a person’s problem other than attaching labels to it such as, self-destructive behavior, or self-sabotaging or role playing, or (this one is the most ridiculous) fear of success.

    The writer’s solution that the person’s motivation was: “she felt morally superior to everyone she felt had mistreated her. This was a role she had no intention of giving up.” is simply incorrect. The fact that the woman justifies her position of feeling morally superior because the other person is doing her wrong is her mind trick that allows her distraction. Her role of superiority is not her main motivation. Her main motivation is blaming the other person so she can avoid the pain of her own fear. None of these psychobabble labels, being in themselves simply names of overt behavior, give any clue to the poor person as to what in the heck they are doing wrong. Feeling morally superior is not the error. The error is distracting yourself from your own fear.

    People who are not successful in life are truly unaware that the reason they are unsuccessful and “always victimized” is because they are weak and afraid. Not being aware that they are afraid, they can do nothing to call up their courage. This does not mean that these people are not intelligent, or even successful in some ways. But their lives, despite their various successes, do not work for them. Because they do not call up their courage they are, ipso facto, cowards and make all their decisions out of fear of something rather than love of something. Because nothing good comes from fear, nothing in their life gives them a deep sense of satisfaction.

    The only way out of this is for the person to experience their own fear in such a way as they can recognize it, and have the option to call up their courage. I suggest to people all the time that they take a course in public speaking via Toastmasters International because most people are afraid to speak in public, and this is one way people can experience their own fear, as well as vicariously experiencing the fear of others who are struggling with their microphones.

    The only way a person can call up their courage is to first recognize they are afraid. It is a very painful thing to confront your own fear. It feels like you are dying, but of course, it is not you that is dying, it is your fear. It is so painful that people distract themselves from their own fear with blaming–it’s the fault of my mother, my husband, racists, the economy, bad luck, bad therapists, childhood abuse, etc. As long as they can expend their mental energy and focus their attention (we have only one attention) on what is being done TO them, they are distracted from what they are FEELING (FEAR). But you can’t get someone to see their own blaming until they can see their own fear. Once a person confronts their own repressed fear, allows it to finish, they have no need of blaming and see other’s abuse of them in terms of the other person’s weakness. They themselves have lost all interest in blame since it no longer serves any purpose.

    Blaming is the way we avoid our own fear. If you want to know how afraid you are, how much repressed fear you have, check out to see if you blame anyone for anything

    A. B. Curtiss, board-certified cognitive behavioral therapist
    http://depressionisachoice.com

  76. Oh, and it’s “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, TEACH a man to fish and you feed him for life.”

    Give a man a fish and you establish a relationship which centers upon your predisposition to kindness and your control of the fish supply. Teach a man to fish and you must then find something else to do.

  77. He’s going to tax capital and tax anybody with more than an average amount of money, who are the ONLY people who have the proven ability to create jobs.

    I guess all those jobs in rocket science don’t exist, then. Typical dogmatist-libertarian thinking: take what’s typically true and convince yourself it’s always true, it must be true — it’s a law of nature!

  78. “I guess all those jobs in rocket science don’t exist, then.”

    Tell that to SpaceX, who are beating the shit out of NASA’s innovation-trajectory right now…so much so, that they’re eating their lunch and taking space station supply contracts away from them.

    It’s so easy to take others’ money at gunpoint and pat yourself on the back for throwing it around. The truth is that government tends to create tasks rather than jobs.

  79. Adrian Smith:
    HA! That’s great!

    Of course, I hate fish, especially the smell, so I don’t think I’d make a good fish monger ;^).

  80. @A.B. Curtiss: I didn’t get the sense that Dr. Friedman was saying something different from what you lay out. Friedman, you and my wife all have something in common: you’re all behaviorists. The only difference I see in what you’re saying vs. what Friedman is saying is that people are is in the motivation. Friedman thinks that the reward for choosing out of fear is the moral superiority, and what you’re saying is that that motivation for choosing out of fear is the fear itself, and that the moral superiority aspect is a justification. As for what I think, though I’m not a psychologist (but I often play one on the net), I think that perhaps both things are true: the moral superiority is a both a justification and a motivation. I’d be interested in seeing what my wife thinks (she hasn’t read the article yet, but I think she will.)

    As for why I think this, you have to understand that I’m more of pure cognitivist, so I tend to think that self-defeating behavior is more or less a result of people becoming addicted to the brain chemicals associated with the failure-related emotional states. As they say, “misery loves company.”

  81. A.B. Curtiss,

    keeping in mind that this problem is at least as much philosophical as psychological – because there are lots of subjective experiences and linguistic details here that are hard to approach based on hard science – it could be interesing what my Buddhist teachers have to say about fear.

    They say fear is a _secondary_ emotion: it is caused by anger. Scratch your fear and you will find you are actually angry.

    The first step is that the mind encounters something that it recognizes as “I don’t like this thing, this is bad for me, I want it away from me, now”. This is the first step. It is then merely a second step to react with “usual anger” i.e. aggression, or to react with fear. Generally if it looks stronger to me, then this aversion leads to fleeing away i.e. fear, if it looks weaker to me then it leads to trying to destroy it or chase it away i.e. “usual anger” i.e. aggression.

    If we are afraid of speaking in public we must ask ourselves what do we hate about speaking in public, because it is more or less sure we will find something.

    This is more or less easy to accept. However there is something they tend to not quite say but hint at with sounds more unusual: most of our anger is against people, not against things or situations. This is why they say developing compassion with people solves the problem of fear, because it solves the problem of being angry at people.

    This is harder to accept – that I’m afraid of giving speaches because I don’t like the people who are successful at giving speaches or even I am afraid of a parachute jump because I don’t like people who do such stuff. It sounds very unusual.

    However, the prediction generated with this unusual idea: that compassion with other people alleviates fear because it alleviates anger, is rather true, I tried it and it works. So there could be something in it.

  82. @Shenpen: Your Buddhist teachers are right in that fear and anger go hand-in-hand, but I’m not sure that fear is always caused by anger. I think sometimes anger is caused by fear. Example: if someone attacks us physically, we get angry. That anger is caused by the fear of physical pain and death.

  83. Tell that to SpaceX, who are beating the shit out of NASA’s innovation-trajectory right now…so much so, that they’re eating their lunch and taking space station supply contracts away from them.

    Yes, and it’s wonderful to see private industry finally taking over — of course, NASA and the Air Force are their main customers. And three cheers for Marxist Fascist Obama’s plan to invest in commercial spaceflight.

    Then again, ask SpaceX about the fifty years of NASA-developed technology that they use for free. Maybe the government should levy a 1% tax on technology developed through NASA funding — starting with GPS receivers, and ending up with water purifiers. That should take care of NASA’s budget.

    We were talking about job creation, however, and NASA employs 17k people versus SpaceX’s 900. A lot more bloat, sure. But call me when SpaceX is sending pure science missions to other planets, and sharing their findings with everyone. Then the thousands of planetary scientists can get off the government dole.

    My point, though, is that your dogmatism prevents you from seeing exceptions. Sometimes the government throws lots of money — more money that private investors can gamble — at new, embryonic technology, and in doing so accelerates the development curve. Thus, we enjoy satellites, integrated circuits, genomics, and even the Internet (ask SpaceX founder Elon Musk where his billions came from), sooner than we would under the natural evolution of technology, which in private enterprise proceeds by small, investor-sized steps.

    A sensible libertarian response might be that these advances aren’t worth breach of some principle, or to present some evidence that they weren’t worth the lost opportunity, or so. A dogmatist libertarian response is to deny the facts, dodge the issue, bring up something unrelated, etc..

  84. Oh, and ask your GOP congressmen why they oppose Obama’s new space budget.

  85. @David

    I’m not going to engage you in a ‘rethuglicans vs demonrats’ pissing contest because I despise political ‘parties’.

    Your argument falls apart, as so many do, because you presume too much with respect to the historical involvement of gubmint in the ‘space race’.

    Simply put, there is no sound reason to deride the private sector’s power to develop space-age technology. There is greater reasonto believe that the historical governmental status quo has been responsible for retarding our progress into extra-terrestrial development.

    Government is cancer. Civilization must evolve to eradicate it.

    It’s the only future we have.

  86. @David McCabe: Obama’s space budget actually affects directly affects me financially (my main client is directly involved in the Constellation program). While I’m excited about development and expansion of the commercial spaceflight industry, I’m also a bit worried that the termination of the Constellation program will have serious detrimental effects on the economy, especially here in Florida and in Texas.

  87. Race condition; my above comment was at Dan. (Why I bother talking to him I don’t know. I come here for a different perspective and to have my assumptions challenged, but to try to argue? All you know how to do is rave, bully, and speak in platitudes. I have never heard a fact, never have I heard a study, never have I heard a statistic from your mouth. This goes for most the commenters here.)

    Greywolf, my main comment about the new space budget is how, once again, the Dems prove more fiscally conservative and private-enterprise-minded than the GOP. This somehow still blows most peoples’ minds, but perhaps not as much in this forum.

    Since you seem to know something about it, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the new budget, and space in general.

  88. >They say fear is a _secondary_ emotion: it is caused by anger. Scratch your fear and you will find you are actually angry.

    I think I agree with this. I have very seldom experienced actual fear. Usually I just get angry in situations where other people seem to expect me to be afraid.

  89. David McCabe, how about we levy a 10% tax on all the govt employees using tech developed by private funding, particularly that people like you ignorantly claim was developed by the govt? Why would SpaceX send pure science missions to other planets? Their goal isn’t to shit money down the drain like NASA. Govt accelerating the development curve? Ha, what a laugh. The integrated circuit was invented by two independent tinkerers at private companies, Kilby and Noyce. Genomics is a large field so I don’t know how you fantasize that it was spawned by the govt, but Celera beat the pants off the public efforts in the Human Genome project, at a tenth of the cost. Aah, the internet, that great white elephant of the pro-govt crowd. The internet was mostly a result of the miniaturization of electronics from Moore’s law, which was mostly done at private companies. The TCP/IP protocol itself is a trivial conception, the cherry on top, and there were other private protocols, like AppleTalk or DECnet that would have done the job. The reason technology evolves naturally in small steps is because the future is uncertain, we don’t know how tech experiments will turn out. In order to rush madly ahead, one has to be a fool or have plenty of other people’s money to throw away. Unfortunately, the govt fulfills both and craps away a ton of money while holding up a fig leaf of one or two successes as justification. Nobody’s talking about principle, we’ve examined the evidence, while you simply retail leftist fantasies. As for the democrats being fiscally conservative, yeah, spending a couple billion to outsource some space contracts really makes up for trillions of increased govt spending. You’ve really got a devastating case there.

  90. Little me with my little ideas and small viewpoint. Just like everyone else.

  91. @David McCabe:

    As far as the dems vs. the reps, there’s very little difference between them. If you or anyone else doesn’t realize that by now, you haven’t been paying attention.

    President Obama’s comments about the Constellation program lacking innovation, while SpaceX and their competition somehow are somehow not lacking in innovation puzzles me greatly.

    SpaceX, for its part, is filled with ex-NASA engineers, funded by the guy that made his billions starting Paypal. They’re using NASA-developed technology, and launching from a former nuclear test launch pad in the South Pacific, leased to them by the federal government for next to nothing. Maybe they can do satellite launches and ISS runs cheaper than NASA, maybe not. This actually remains to be seen. (Sure the price tag might be less initially, but unless/until they make an actual profit, they have not proven their methods to be more efficient.)

    NASA doesn’t engineer much in-house anymore — nor have they for many decades. Like the shuttle program before it, almost all of the engineering work for the Constellation program is being done by Lockheed-Martin and its various subcontractors. IOW, private industry. Furthermore, much of the technology being developed for Constellation (and work is still progressing as if the money were going to be part of the 2011 budget, of course) is brand-new, and some of it is reused technology from the shuttle program. The ultimate goal is a manned mission to Mars. So I’m not exactly sure how Constellation is “lacking in innovation.”

    What I am sure about is that if Constellation is cancelled, lots and lots of people will be losing their jobs and several very large companies will lose their contracts and potentially billions of dollars. The impact to the overall economy could be quite substantial, and the financial impact to the economies of Florida and Texas will be devastating. Maybe SpaceX will hire some of those who lose their jobs, but I guarantee you it will be a tiny fraction.

  92. Oh well.

    All the more reason that we need Instrumentality.

    Then the status jockeying darwinists of the world will finally see that their samsaric worldview is false, and nothing more than an excuse to be heartless to people they decide are not worth respecting.

  93. Mark C. Chu-Carroll has an excellent counterpoint:

    1. I am a racist – because I never noticed all of the unearned privileges that are given to me until someone pointed them out.
    2. I am a racist – because even after learning about the unearned privileges that I recieve, I still don’t notice them.
    3. I am a racist, because I have grown up in a culture that, at every turn, teaches me that to be white is to be better, and smarter, and I have absorbed that lesson.
    4. I am a racist, because I instinctively react to members of minorities with fear.
    5. I am a racist, because I live in a sunset town.
    6. I am a racist, because I believe that I deserve the success I have, even though I know people who are more smart, capable, and talented than I am never had the chances that I did to be successful, because of the color of their skin.
    7. I am a racist – because I am a white man who has directly benefited from the unfair preferences that have been directed towards me all of my life.
    8. I am a racist – because every day, I benefit from the denial of basic privileges to other people.
    9. I am a racist, because I do not notice the things that are denied to people who are different from me.
    10. I am a racist, because I do not notice the advantages that I have over others.
    11. I am a racist, because even when I do manage to notice what is denied to people of different races and backgrounds, I don’t speak up.

    You can narratize it as political victimology all you like, but the fact is that whites are bestowed unearned privileges that people of color are not — unknowingly, unwittingly. It behooves us as a society to shed light on these hidden corners of institutional discrimination, root them out, eliminate them — not justify their perpetuation by claiming the other side is merely whining and playing victim.

  94. We don’t need Affirmative Action.

    What we need is to take name, gender, social status, and race off of applications, and judge solely by their merits, as well as criminal past if any.

    Also, I can agree with that list, inasfar as it doesn’t mean that I bear perpetual guilt for being white. Or male.

    Because you know, I think that if I singlehandedly arrested, convicted, and prison raped every single male who has ever so much as looked cross eyed at a woman, I’d still be called a “patriarchial oppressor.”

  95. Jack, you just have to come to grips with the fact that women rule the world. This is the world we have made, they are in charge. Their opinion matters and ours really doesn’t except on technical matters or without our own families. The only way to deal with it is to prosthletize women with your ideology so that your ideology will have support.

  96. Here’s my understanding of fear, anger and love. We only have one psychological defense mechanism, the fight or flight response, it is triggered by fear which is the only emotion we have as a human being. Fear projected outward is anger (fight), fear projected inward is depression, despair, etc. ( flight)

    Love is not an emotion, it is our essential being. The only reason we are not generally in touch with our essential being (love) is that is usually covered over by our repressed and unexpressed and therefore unfinished fear. When we acknowledge our fear and it finishes (instead of represses) then we can experience ourselves as love, bliss, joy, etc. We are not “in love” (the sexual urge is an instinct not an emotion) we do not “feel” love toward anyone or anything, we are simply love itself.

  97. The reason we have so many names for emotions is that we have given names to the different situations in which our fear arises. It is really the same jangle of neurons that we feel when mugged on the sidewalk (fear) or getting ready to ski down an steep slope (excitement)

  98. This is a difficult subject for me because I’m intimately familiar with it. I’ve known a lot of privileged, smart young people who fall into a hole due to a combination of motivation problems and a sense if shame and helplessness. I’ve been there myself too recently to have any reliable prescription for the problem. We live in a society where distraction is everywhere, and because of credential inflation we judge many young adults as unready to do meaningful work until they get degrees, which is demoralizing. We warn college students about STD’s, but not about procrastination, which probably destroys more lives. But the thing is, people who have become hopeless and helpless are not always benefited by shame — shame is part of the problem. Believing you will never be better than a loser is a horrible experience, and my personal resolution is never to lead anybody else into that attitude. I’ve been there. I’ve been told I’m worthless, and believed it. That creates broken half-children; self-respect creates productive adults.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>