Wednesday, January 23, 2019

I'm From Another Planet

Many people feel they don't fit in, and I'm one of them. I thought you might find it helpful to read the ways I feel different. Perhaps it will encourage your self-acceptance or even desire to change.

Half-jokingly, when my wife and I went out to dinner with friends, I said, "I'm not from this planet." Actually, it's not far from the truth. For example:

I value an out-of-balance life. My life is utterly out of balance and I like it that way. I have worked 60 to 80 hours my whole life and now, as I approach age 69, I still work those hours and plan to continue until my health declines. I do it not for the money but because I believe that the more contribution, the more productive you are, the more worthy your life is.

I advocate reducing redistribution. I am a utilitarian: Most of my decisions, certainly my policy positions, are made on what will do the most good for the most people. Lest you think that makes me a socialist or Communist, no, I'm ambivalent about what yields the most good along the continuum from free-market to Communism, so I've ended up a mushy moderate.

But where I differ from the masses is that my utilitarianism makes clear that, except for a basic safety net, I believe that net ill accrues from redistribution from the Haves to Have-Nots--whether from the rich to the poor, able to disabled, the Israelis to the Palestinians. I believe we're wise to allocate financial resources and human effort not to those with the greatest deficit but to those with the greatest potential to improve humankind or their sphere of influence within it.

Said another way, I believe a dollar left in the hands of the people who have produced the most is likely to do more net good than a dollar wrested from them to give to the HaveNots. Do remember that current and especially Ocasio-Cortes/Warren/Sanders-proposed additional redistributions, for example, "free" (that is, taxpayer-paid) college and health care require not just soaking the rich but because there are so many more HaveNots than rich people and very successful corporations like Amazon, Apple, and Facebook , even if those were taxed at 90%, those radical redistributive policies necessarily hit the already hollowing-out middle-class, people who disproportionately have delayed gratification, spent years and a fortune on higher education, produced much and been compensated only modestly for all that and already pay the most painful share of taxes. The additional redistribution will be a death knell for much of the middle-class, that most worthy group.

I think materialism is foolish. So many people do jobs they dislike so they can live in digs in a "good" neighborhood, when in fact safety differences are trivial and children in "bad" schools, when controlled for socioeconomic status, do no worse than than in tony locales. So they can regularly buy new (more breakdown-prone and service-requiring) Beemers and Mercedes than hang onto older Toyotas? So they can wear designer-label clothes and jewelry that look and function very little better than clothes and jewelry costing 90% less? Foolish. I live modestly so I am free to do the work I want to do, often for free.

I am no funster. I dislike haha, trivial-talk, loud parties, getting high, dancing (bouncing one's body to deafening music for no purpose,) expensive, hassle-filled travel--What? So I can say I'm standing on the ground Julius Caesar stood 2,000 years ago? Big deal.

My pleasures are simple and sober: reading, gardening, playing the piano, hiking with my dog. When my wife and I go out to eat, we chose quiet, low-status restaurants, for example, the local family-run Thai or Indian place. We much prefer those to buzzy, frou-frou places with thumping music, $12 for a few lettuce leaves and $25 for a piece of chicken, a la carte, and per the restaurant consultants, not even bread included (It fills up the customer so they order less..Profit maximization, dude!)

People call me a stick in the mud. I am but believe I'm actually more content with the aforementioned low-hassle, low-cost recreations and worklife than is most of the world with its silliness.

I am an atheist. 90 percent of people believe in some deity. Not me. I wish I believed in one--It's comforting to have a God to lean on when life's crap hits. but I can't place any faith in a God that would allow millions of people to die from earthquakes and excruciating cancer, let alone the countless babies born with horrific diseases that make them scream in agony for months and then die leaving bereft parents.

It's sad and yes lonely being so out of step or, as I quipped, from another planet, but that's my truth. I hope it's somehow helpful to you.

I offer a video version of this on YouTube.

No comments: