Friday, December 01, 2017

Friday Thoughts

     I'm a little burned out.  After a week of high-profile misbehavior* and medical adventure, there's either too little or too much to say.

     Sinus surgery is still up in the air, awaiting word from my insurer.  Like most people, my health insurance has been steadily costing more and doing less for the past thirty years.  My employer, a small and conservative firm, held on to conventional health insurance for years longer than most businesses of like size (and a stellar plan it was, too), and have been scrambling from one rat-bag PPO to another over the last decade or more, putting together the best deal they can manage.  It's still not terrible...except the pre-approval process is heavily biased towards "No" and deductibles are fulfilled on a per-procedure basis rather than being a simple sum of whatever you've had to spend on doctoring in any calendar year.  So they could decide the surgery isn't covered, or simply leave me with more of a bill than I can afford once the insurance portion is paid.  I won't know until they decide, and those wheels grind very slowly, especially around the holidays.

     --Holidays!  Look, I shouldn't snicker, but as one of the technical-type people who had had to work many holidays that my desk-bound peers enjoy at home, I did take some amusement when American Airlines slipped up and gave too many pilots off time for the holidays.  It's fun to own the race house; it's fun to manage the horse and rider.  But someone had to shovel out the stable and without them, the rest of the operations will be hip-deep in fertilizer.  Ayn Rand's memory is grinning like a Halloween pumpkin. 

     Rand?  She's become a curse word to the Left -- and even some of the Right.  Apparently, she "hated the poor" and thought only the rich were deserving.  This surprises me; no, it makes me wonder if the people spouting such notions even read the Cliff Notes for Atlas Shrugged.  --Fine, Rand herself was kind of mean and loved to push back against conventional platitudes, and a good many of her followers suffer from Great Leader Is Right In All Things syndrome, even when Great Leader has a taste for cheap, romantic, adventurous pulp fiction and a messy personal life.  But the good and bad guys in Atlas Shrugged don't sort neatly by income at all, and a recurring image contrasts a clean, airy, well-lit basement cafeteria used by ordinary railroad workers against a dark penthouse pseudo-dive enjoyed by the well-to-do -- well-to-do plotting villains, no less.  Representative examples of hoi polloi, academia, Old Money and the recently-rich all show up as both bold brave heroes and loathsome baddies, with a few ditherers caught in the middle and skewered for their indecision.  I'm not qualified to tell you how the book stands as literature, and as a political tract, it's an early example of the wish-fulfillment genre, not a blueprint for change; but what it doesn't do is hate on the poor and glorify their rich oppressors.  I'm reminded of the possibly apocryphal story of someone expressing surprise at finding W. C. Fields reading the Bible, to which he snarled, "I'm looking for loopholes!"  Similarly, some readers of Rand skim though, looking for the class war they expect to find -- and long for.

     Class war?  That brings me back to where I started: in each and every one of the reported instances of harassment or abuse, the common element is misuse of an imbalance of power by the powerful.  Hey, do you know how you get seething resentment against the people with money and power?  By them acting like jerks.  And that stuff rolls downhill; when J. P. Gotrocks treats his underlings like dirt or toys, how do you suppose they treat the people they can boss around?
* Weak, but when the behavior in question runs the gamut from a creep with a remote door lock whose reputed actions appear to my non-lawyer understanding to constitute rape to a couple of public figures on opposite ends on the political spectrum whose wandering hands may -- or may not -- be innocent, it's difficult to find a wide-enough term.


Jerry said...

Hi Roberta,

I've always enjoyed Atlas Shrugged. Another book you may find interesting is Henry Hazlitt's "Economics in One Lesson". It's available as a free download on the Mises website. Not much of a storyline but Hazlitt writes well.


Joseph said...

One of my pet theories is that the "alt-right" consists largely of former libertarians who realized that libertarianism does not actually include letting people use the State to step on their alleged inferiors.

azmountaintroll said...

I've often thought that the main problem with Atlas Shrugged was that the medium was inadequate for the message. The story was more mythology than fiction, and the characters behaved more as philosophical archetypes than realistic human beings. It would be much better as a Wagnerian opera.

RandyGC said...

I hear you on the holidays. Fortunately the current job is mostly being on call when I have the rotation during the holidays (such as this year's Christmas and New Years).

In the past I have made the statement "Holi-what? Oh, you mean the days when the Post Office and BX are closed and the Day Whores aren't around to get in the way of us Trick Trash getting our job done".

Roberta X said...