Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Stewing, a la OPM

You know what stew is, we assume:  a slowly cooked mixture of various ingredients in which the individual components meld to create a blend of greater complexity and satisfying flavors.

Here at Side, we love the comforting aroma of simmering stew, and most of all, slurping down the final result.

Which now that we read our own words, makes this introduction of our thesis tortured to say the least, and absurd at the worst.  Oh well, everyone should do what they do best, and we do stupid metaphors as well as anyone.

So let’s segue into the meat of the matter on our cutting board.  We’ve been stewing for several days on the subjects of MSHA, the youth that supposedly comprise our future, our unmanageable public debt, and the reckless deficit spending in spite of it.

We find them all to be harmonious ingredients, united by a common theme.  Let us explain.

Let us begin with Betsy, exemplar of our future, as described in this prior post.  We cited this Coastal Journal passage:

For Betsy (redacted,) who is from Brunswick and is studying global and gender issues at New York City's New School, the Occupy movement goes beyond economic frustration. Like a lot of college students and graduates, she and her mother are deep in debt to financial institutions that funded her education. She (sic) believes, however, the Occupy movement also involves human rights issues, class warfare, and racism. She has participated in Occupy protests in New York.

We looked into the details, and learned that tuition alone at The New School is $35,000 a year.  Add living and eating in New York, plus all the party expenses, and you’re probably looking at close to $50,000 a year, or $200,000 for a degree, unless you go the 5 year route, in which case you’re staring at a cool quarter million.

All so Betsy can study pointless prattle like this:

Gender's meaning changes. In other words, the culturally constructed idea of what sex difference means is unstable and is often renegotiated over time and from place to place. To study gender is to study a central category of identity that shapes basic structures such as:

  • divisions of public and private
  • the distribution of wealth and patterns of labor
  • the ways in which gender is represented in art, literature, and popular culture
  • how sexuality and the body are understood
  • definitions of sickness and health
  • the creation of norms for public life and the state
  • the production of knowledge itself

Courses in Gender Studies are one way to understand the ideologies, social patterns, and images that shape the changing world in which we live. Gender Studies raises questions about how the gender divide is formed and maintained, and how it is often resisted or undermined. Students explore gender scholarship from the last four decades in the United States and rest of the world. It includes courses about the history of feminist thought and action; men’s studies; gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender studies; and queer theory. Working in conjunction with the program on Race and Ethnicity, these programs explore the many intersections among race, class, and gender.

Imagine spending and borrowing more than the median price of a home in Maine to immerse yourself in studies that prepare you for nothing other than teaching the same twaddle to those as gullible as you.  (Need we remind you the word gullible is not in the dictionary?)

We are convinced that Betsy and her mother, considering the other ‘affordable’ options they had, signed up for this crushing debt in the belief that the tooth fairy, or perhaps the fairy godmother, would come to their rescue.  We expect they hold a tacit belief the government should pay for her education, and that a benevolent agent of hope will ride to their rescue and bail them out with, you guessed it: OPM.

Strange as this may sound, the Maine State Housing Authority is known to spend more than this on an ‘affordable housing’ apartment.  So it’s all relative when it comes to borrowing, government, and the thirst for knowledge, useless or otherwise, and the pursuit of the common good.  They all are addicted to the drug  of choice: OPM.  Say it slowly; Oh-Pi-M.

Is there any doubt that if Betsy gets to Congress one day, she’ll support borrowing the country into oblivion because ‘it’s the right thing to do?’  What other choice could she make if she doesn’t have enough common sense in her young adult years to avoid chaining herself down with unmanageable debt, with the support of her mother?  Unless they expect someone else to bail her out?

Which brings us to the third corner of this triangulation scheme: the federal government itself.  High on their own self-importance and lust for remaining in power, our so called leaders are busy spending over 60% more than they have in revenue, making up the difference with Monopoly money and debt we will never be able to repay.  In the process, they are driving us down a greased death spiral that leads to almost certain collapse for the American experiment in liberty, self-determination, and self-government.

Coming full circle from our silly introduction, we arrive at a conclusion that Betsy, the MSHA, and our federal government are all alike.  They are ‘peas in a pod,’ to extend our original thought.

Which doesn’t make for a very tasty stew, unless you can compel other people to give whatever they have to bail out your supper.


It is my belief that the writer, the free-lance author, should be and must be a critic of the society in which he lives. It is easy enough, and always profitable, to rail away at national enemies beyond the sea, at foreign powers beyond our borders who question the prevailing order. But the moral duty of the free writer is to begin his work at home; to be a critic of his own community, his own country, his own culture. If the writer is unwilling to fill this part, then the writer should abandon pretense and find another line of work: become a shoe repairman, a brain surgeon, a janitor, a cowboy, a nuclear physicist, a bus driver. -Edward Abbey, naturalist and author (1927-1989)

Our choices are pretty clear, according to Mr. Abbey.  But we can’t help wondering why he didn’t mention the option of becoming a chef.


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