Disgustipated

My mother used to say ‘disgustipating’ to refer to things that she thought were really rotten.  I hadn’t thought of it for a while, until this week.

Yesterday, the Supreme Court issued a decision that gay marriage is a Constitutional right, and that the remaining states where gay marriage is forbidden will have to allow it.

Hooray for Marriage Equality
Hooray for Marriage Equality

While I was out this morning, I saw the sign above at a parking lot.

I really have no problem with gay civil marriage: gay people should be able to express their commitment to each other, and secure their legal rights with respect to each other, the same as heterosexual couples.

But is it ‘marriage equality’?  Hardly.

All but a tiny handful of the seven billion of us walking the planet today are here because, at some point in the past, a man and a woman came together and caused us to be.  Not all of them were married, but it is that essential fact of our existence that is the origin of marriage.

And until and unless there is a race of literal Amazons who reproduce through parthenogenesis, so it will continue to be.

What bothers me about yesterday’s Supreme Court decision is that, first, there is nothing in my reading of the Constitution that infers a right to gay marriage, either directly or indirectly.  Many, many decisions are made (in business, politics, and life in general) by coming up with the answer first, and assembling whatever arguments are needed to support it.  But I expected the Supreme Court to be above that sort of crap.

What’s far worse, though, is that the government is now empowered to clonk those of us who believe that ‘equal under the law’ is not ‘the same thing’ upside the head and tell us to get with the program.  We already have laws preventing discrimination based on sexual orientation: those, together with yesterday’s decision, mean that gay civil marriage will not be containable as ‘civil’ for very long.

*          *          *

The other disgustipating Supreme Court decision concerned Obamacare.  The law, as written, indicated that subsidies would be available for individuals who had purchased insurance through ‘an exchange established by the State.’  We normally don’t say that in American law.  You might say ‘a State’ or ‘the States,’ referring to one or more of the 50 state governments, or ‘the States or the Federal government’ if that’s what you meant.

We had understood that the intent was that a state would have to set up an insurance exchange for its residents to get the subsidies, as a means of encouraging states to set up exchanges.  But most states didn’t do that, leaving it to the Federal exchange.

But if people couldn’t get subsidies, the insurance wouldn’t be affordable, so an executive decision was made to allow subsidies to residents of all of the states.  You could reasonably read ‘an exchange established by the State’ to refer to, not a particular one of the 50 states, but the government in general.

Ultimately, this one doesn’t really matter for me.  New York did set up an Obamacare exchange. (Alas, I earn too much to be eligible for a subsidy, and even if I got one, it wouldn’t make a dent in the actual premium.)  Nevertheless, with or without the subsidy, Obamacare remains the most breathtakingly bad public policy decision that I can remember in my life.

But I’m sure something will come to top it later this year.

Gay Marriage: A Moral Issue?

I really didn’t want to write another gay marriage piece: it’s getting tiresome. But I wanted to get my thoughts out ahead of the Supreme Court decision that’s due any day now.

Some of my conservative readings rail against gay marriage as a moral issue. Homosexuality is identified in the Bible as sinful, so admitting gay marriage in law is sinful and immoral. Then again, the proponents of gay marriage sometimes frame their position as a moral issue, a matter of justice and equality for all. So which end is up?

“You can’t legislate morality,” my mother told me years ago. It fit my view of the world as a teenager, and I didn’t challenge her on it. But now, thinking about it, one can legislate morality. Alas, one ends up with a state like Iran or Saudi Arabia, where the church is the state and the state is the church and the government can do no wrong as it is run by men of Allah.

In our society, it is not the responsibility of the government to enforce morality. It is the responsibility of each of us to live a moral life. Religion is useful in pointing the way to a moral life, but it’s not the only way.   (Indeed, the functional purpose of religion in society is teaching morality to children.)

But the conservatives who frame gay marriage as a moral issue have a useful concept: ‘natural marriage.’ Natural marriage is that which has been around with us for millennia. Natural marriage is exclusively, by definition, between a man and a woman. If you’re religious, it is a gift from God; if you’re not, it’s a consequence of our nature as sexual beings whose young require years of care and upbringing before they can be fully functional. It is also immutable.

To reconcile natural marriage to the government, which needs to track such things, there is civil marriage. Civil marriage is a construct of law and regulation. When a community legalizes gay marriage, they are legalizing gay civil marriage. They cannot change the definition of natural marriage.

And alongside natural marriage (which can’t be changed) and civil marriage (a construct of government) is popular marriage, i.e. marriage as understood in the culture. Gay marriage wouldn’t be worth getting bothered about if it was accepted as a bureaucratic workaround by which gay couples who were committed to each other could secure their rights with respect to each other, and for the rest of us, a curiosity, a weird exception to the rule, and nothing more.

But that wasn’t what happened, or at least not how it’s being presented in the mass media. People are apparently falling all over each other to embrace gay marriage, even though the vast majority of them are unlikely to participate in one. And if you’re not embracing the concept, you must be hateful or, worse, homophobic. (And calling people ‘chicken’ or ‘afraid’ or ‘phobic’ to shame them into agreement is, if not the oldest trick in the book, somewhere in the top ten.)

That the popular culture is so quick to ditch natural marriage (which was already happening well before gay marriage became an issue) is sad, but does that mean that we all have to embrace gay civil marriage as equivalent to natural marriage? I’d like to think not.

It certainly isn’t the same as racial discrimination. At one time, some places denied people of different races the right to natural as well as civil marriage. Thankfully, we’re long past that. But all our good thinking about fairness and equality will not turn civil marriage into natural marriage. And it’s not fair to anyone to maintain the delusion that they’re the same.

As for the question before the Court—is there a Constitutional right to gay marriage?—I’m not a legal scholar. But a commonsense interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment—the right to equal protection of the laws—doesn’t get me there. Natural marriage is gender-neutral: you need to have one of each. And if someone had suggested a century and a half ago that the Amendment would one day be used as the basis for a right to gay marriage, nobody would have believed such a ludicrous notion.

It remains to be seen if the Justices are, um, phobic….

Post sale of house…here comes the fallout…from a friend, yet…

Sometimes I feel like I am listening to a 9 year old girl.

*sigh*

Here is the problem…and the problem is the way my friend E. is acting.

She knows the whole kit and caboodle of what happened here.

Mind you, she has always been touchy about money — commenting on who at her workplace has what house, who is driving around in what car and how much her coworkers earn (this is public service and she knows what their salaries are). Who cares and why is this so irritating to her?

She’s been like this for as long as I’ve known her. Maybe I should have realized the squeeze was not worth the juice and ditched her back then.

Yesterday I mentioned that I might take a trip to see a cousin of mine — he lives out in California.

“You must have an awful lot of money if you are talking about taking all these trips.”

I blew sky high — I didn’t care who on that boardwalk bloody heard me — ha, they probably heard me clear across the water to Coney Island somewhere — and I said, “This again from you??? Suppose I tell you HE is paying for the TICKET???” (Cuz offered pay for my expenses to and from; “door is open and let me know if you’re coming to see me; I’ll pay for the ticket to and from”)

My goodness — didn’t we get quiet. I flat out told her if she made a comment like that again, the friendship will be over.

I said “I went through a lot this past decade; I lost a job and I gave up a lot of blood sweat and tears to get Bro out of the picture…” She has to “match” me and go “Oh so did I…I go through a lot at work and I lost a job, too…”

Ever feel like just turning around and leaving somebody right there?

I said “how much money do you think I am getting from the sale of this home? You think it’s a mansion???” To this, she looks down at the floor.

%&*%&#$ if I have to justify this to her or anybody.

This isn’t the first time she’s said something like this — she’s done it in the past more than one time. But yet she gets all touchy if somebody comments about what she is driving ,etc. it’s like she is taking this out on me.

I am seriously rethinking the friendship. I already have enough on my hands and the next thing I am grappling with is where to live — suppose I find a for-cheap house I can rent or maybe even buy? (it would have to be a tiny little house with maybe 6 rooms in it on a tiny piece of property; we still have quite a few of fhem left that fit into that category and that’s the only house I’d consider buying; I might even luck out and be able to get some kind of a loan to buy it) It’s account to her for what I am renting/paying for it?? What good is this to me?

I feel like I am living in a glass box.

Synthetic Politicians

The politicians who know about the Synthetic Economy know that the only way forward is to maintain the status quo.  Big deficits are OK, as long as the excess doesn’t slosh around in the Little People’s economy and cause inflation.  And the politicians, and their friends in the Big People’s economy, get richer and richer because the same dollars circulate in both economies.

But even the politicians who aren’t in on the secret are constrained to follow the status quo, as well.

  • If you believe in increasing spending, you run headlong into the Little People’s notion that money is finite. (It isn’t necessarily true anymore in the Big People’s economy, but it’s still universally understood, and useful as a bludgeon.)  “We’re eighteen trillion dollars in debt!  How dare you contemplate another half-trillion to fix the roads!”  The real reason—that an extra half-trillion loosed into the Little People’s economy would be inflationary—need not be mentioned.
  • If you believe in reducing spending, you quickly find out that every dollar of spending has a constituency, who will argue that the world will come to an end if even one dollar is cut from their program. A while back, the Federal government convened a ‘blue-ribbon commission’ to investigate spending and identify things that could be readily cut.  They could identify less than 1% of spending that fit in that category.  And Federal, State, and local governments all have commitments enshrined in law that cannot be readily unwound.

While state and local governments can’t print their own money, they are nevertheless subject to the same constraints, with the same results.  Occasionally a governor or mayor can turn back the tide in his own state or city, reducing taxes and encouraging development, but it’s a drop in the bucket, and the gains in one state or city are almost always balanced out by losses elsewhere in the US.

So what does this mean for our politicians?

  • A politician’s positions don’t matter. We’ve always know that most of what politicians say when campaigning is motivated by ambition, and bears scant resemblance to what the politician will actually do if elected.  But now, with the Synthetic Economy, politicians really can’t do very much different.
  • Political parties don’t matter. At least, not at the Federal level.  The rhetoric and the emphasis may differ, but both parties are pulling in the same direction and seeking the same ends.
  • Elections become beauty contests. In the 2000 Presidential election, much was made about how George Bush was ‘more likable’ than Al Gore.  At the time, I thought it was ludicrous: we’re electing a President, not hiring a bartender!  But the pattern has been set for every Presidential election since then, as well as most of the others I’m aware of: the most telegenic candidate wins.
  • Incumbents rule. And if you’re not telegenic, but you’re the incumbent, you still have it made.  You have the name recognition and, perhaps more important, the connections for campaign funding.  Just don’t do anything stupid that would land you in prison.

For us ordinary citizens, it’s all very disappointing.  In general, there isn’t much point in supporting one politician over another.  And the notion that an ordinary person might run for office and win, once one of the basic tenets of our republic, is now a pipe dream.

And the keepers of the Synthetic Economy prefer it that way.

The house has sold: 99% of the way through with BRO!

It’s 99% official…

I am done with Bro.

I say 99% done because the house has sold (the close is not until mid-September) but I am still going to go after Bro for damages.

The amount of “back taxes” he rang up, plus the cost of the oil he did not put in the tank for 8 years plus my legal fees plus my closing fee. Those are the damages

It is a pretty hefty amount of money.

I have to sue him separately for that.

That amount is going to be held in escrow upon closing. Boy is he in for a big surprise.

Considering he paid home owners insurance from late 2013 up until march of this year ,  taxes for this house for 2 and one half quarters (more on that in this post later) and the water, I prob ably owe him about 4 grand tops. Big deal.

We had 18 groups of people come to look at the house. 6 groups were families, a single woman, or a couple with an elderly mother — the other 12 were developers.

And that is who bought this house: a developer.

Bro signed at the start of last month after the written offer came in; I held out because I was trying to get this house reassessed. There is turn of the century woodwork here and a cove ceiling and you do not find that in any homes anywhere today. Plus this house is on a double lot and double lots no longer exist in this town at all.

I also considered buying him out.

I held off signing until I had all of this investigated — if I b ought him out, I’d have to be on the hook for a jawshattering amount of money. I’d have to fix a bum roof, tear down a garage, fix and tear down a back porch, get the furnaces replaced and many more: NOT worth it.

I signed a week and a half ago. And between the time he signed and I signed, hoo boy—what a pity. I got cursed out by Bro, screamed at by his damn live-in (this, in front of people who were interested in buying!! Holy crap, it never ends) and more or less pressured to sign.

He’s been giving me the cold shoulder and ignoring me for about 3 weeks now. I am wonderin g if they were considering a home but missed out because there was no signed contract and his money for the down payment was contingent upon a signed contract and close date. Well, tough. I was trying to perhaps get us a better deal. I did NOT give him any of this info.

I have been “Free” of Bro for about a week now.

And guess who is stuck cleaning out the basement by herself. What a lousy little rat xyz.

There is a gripload of items that his live-in has downstairs and that shit has been in the basement for 11 years — it has been here since she moved in that first time. When she moved out, she didn’t take anything with her. I told him a zillion times MY basement is not her storage bin and all I would get is yeah yeah yeah…just like I got yeah yeah yeah to the oil that he never put into that tank.

Regarding the damages:

I will give him hell in court.

N O way can a judge tell me “oh families throw around money” – that little piker never contributed ONE CENT between August of 2005 and August of 2013 – I pulled the plug on him on Labor Day weekend of 2013 after we had that showdown —I made sure that was the LAST showdown ever —  and that was when I started to get the ball rolling to legally get him out of here.

I have 5 pounds of paperwork – every single check I have written from March of 2005 up until October of 2013 that plainly states that I PAID EVERY SINGLE QUARTER OF TAXES. Bullshit; he cannot say he gave me cash and I gave NO RECEIPT. I will swear under every oath that what I am saying is the truth.

And the fact that this house is in tax arrears to the tune of $6200 shores up my argument.

Here is what he paid, between September 2013 and May of 2014:

Bro paid house taxes — half a quarter in October of 2013 (after that town punk moved in with him) and 2 quarters’ worth after that — February and May of 2014. That is the 6200 in arrears for taxes — August of 2014 up to May of 2015.

That was the end of any taxes paid for this property. I could not afford to contribute and he simply did not want to.

I think he paid that 2 and a 1/2 quarters for appearances to maybe show the little lady he was living with how responsible he could be. Werk.

So who is he kiddin g that he has consistently been diligent and ON TIME with payments for taxes??? He just blew his argument to hell!!! He refused to pay any more after May of 2014 probably because I was suing him and he figured wtf and why should he bo ther…”when this house sells, the town will collect the arrears from the sale.”

These are the only 3 checks he has to back up what he paid fo, during those 21/2 quarters of taxes. After that, as I said, he paid nothing.

He was supposed to go to his bank and produce the same kind of evidence — v ia copies of checks he has written —to prove he paid his share of taxes, homeowners insurance and for his half of the water bill — (there’s only one water meter)  but funny how he never came up with that documentation.

That alone cost me a good $1200 — to attain copies of those checks, for all those years. To prove he did not pay a dime.

99% over. And it has been hell. I paid for all of this in more than legal fees: it was in blood and sweat and tears also. I paid many times over for what happened here. And my only regret is that I didn’t get rid of him when this house came into the picture. Own NOTHING with anybody…not even a spouse.

Synthetic Economics: Directions for Government

The Synthetic Economy enables the Federal government to continue to run vast deficits every year without having to worry about the usual consequence of price inflation.  But as wonderful as that is for the government, it’s paradoxically even better for the banks.  For they have made trillions in loans to foreign countries and others that, as a practical matter, can never be repaid.  Some of these came up as an issue in the 1980s, but through the magic of ‘extend and pretend,’ and some ‘aid’ from the Federal government, the banks have managed to sweep them under the rug.  The banks would like to very much go on sweeping, as the politicians would very much like to go on spending.

Under the Synthetic Economy, the government and the banks (the Big People’s economy) work to balance the amount of money going into the Synthetic Economy that the vast majority of us live in.  Too little, and people get angry, and there are riots and other civil disturbances.  Too much, and there is widespread price inflation, which could ultimately lead to riots and other civil disturbances.  Meanwhile, in the Big People’s economy, inflation is, indeed, out of control.  But since the inflation manifests itself in the stock market and the price of real estate (at least in the places useful to the Big People’s economy), people think of it as prosperity, rather than runaway inflation.

So what does the government have to do as its part of the deal?

  • As I noted earlier, the first rule of the Synthetic Economy is that we do not speak of the Synthetic Economy. So no politician can say that this is how we solved the deficit problem.  (On the other hand, the former cliffhanger drama of the debt ceiling has become tiresome, so we can quietly ditch that.  Never mind that the debt ceiling was the practical implementation of the Constitutional requirement for Congress to authorize Federal borrowing.)
  • We also don’t want to tell the Little People that money isn’t finite anymore: first, because it is contrary to the experience of their lifetimes, and second, once they came to understand it, they would demand a piece of the action, and they vastly outnumber you. No politician will propose a vast new spending plan, to be paid for by borrowing.  Instead, the propose ‘taxing the rich.’  And their plan goes off to die, because nobody likes tax increases.  (And in any event, a 5% or 10% tax increase won’t change the overall situation.)
  • But perhaps the most important thing is that the government needs to maintain policies that discourage money from circulating in the Synthetic Economy. This isn’t to say that money doesn’t circulate at all: it does.  But we want the money paid into the Synthetic Economy (government spending, wages paid by Big Economy players, payments for exported goods and services) to come out (through taxes, payments to Big Economy players—like one’s mortgage payment—and the purchase of imported goods) as quickly as practicable.  When someone buys a domestic manufactured item, they pay the factory owner, who pays his employees, who go out and buy the things that they want and need.  This used to be the virtuous cycle of capitalism.  It’s now bad news, because it can’t be readily controlled.  We must stop it, as much as we can.
  • A corollary of discouraging circulation is that saving and investing need to be curtailed, as well. If the denizens of the Synthetic Economy have their own productive assets, they can function independently of the Big People’s direction, and that’s bad.  And if people do have assets, and can be encouraged to liquidate them, so much the better.  (Anyone for a home equity loan?)

What happens when the politicians carry out these tasks?  What about effects on the politicians themselves, or the political system?  Tune in next week….