briefly, the 25th hour of parenthood

The 25th Hour is a novel by David Benioff–later adapted by Spike Lee into a film starring Edward Norton–a vignette of a man’s final moments of freedom before reporting to prison for a seven-year sentence. In those ultimate hours, he spends the evening with two friends, contemplates the choices that brought him to this point.

Tomorrow, wife and I send the girls off for their first day of 4K. Granted, it’s only three-ish hours a day, but it’s their first first day of school and, after this, they won’t have a last first day of school for at least 14 years. I will be approaching 50 years old then.

We spent years trying and failing to have children, then we ended up with the beans, and things were good. They weren’t going to school for years. Then Don August showed up, which was cool. Not easy, not by a long shot, but cool. Well, time being what it is, slipped away and here we are, toddlers who don’t toddle, armed with backpacks and heading off to school tomorrow.

We knew it was coming. We tried to prepare for it. And then, I realized that their last first day of school will be at least 14 years from now, and I will be approaching 50 years old.

And that’s when I realized my life is over.

I’ve been having a hard time reconciling myself to that fact. From here, it’s parent-teacher conferences, something resembling organized sports, extracurricular activities: for the first time in my life, I told the girls, sans irony, to get ready for bed because it’s a school night.

IT’S A SCHOOL NIGHT.

How did I get here?

Our adventures seem like they were eons ago. Weren’t we just in Kansas City? Wasn’t I just in grad school? Didn’t I write that incendiary column at the Northern Light last semester?

The only semesters that matter anymore are at a grade school attended by my children. If it wasn’t about me before, it’s definitely not about me now.

This is where I’m at. I’m done, and I have to make my peace with it. Maybe I’ll do a Coffee With Dead People on myself! Or perhaps it’s epilogomena!

Maybe I’m just being melodramatic–particularly to those who aren’t here (or aren’t here yet)–or some wiseacre who has been here before just reads this smiling and nodding, but there is an eerie sense of finality here that I was not anticipating, and I didn’t even necessarily feel when I was first introduced to my offspring or even when I got married. This is weird!

So, I will go to bed (I’m really, really tired, can’t you tell?) and wake up tomorrow (I took the day off for the occasion) and we’ll take pictures of the girls with their sign and we’ll take them to their classroom.

After that, we’ll probably go grab some breakfast: two dead people–with a cute, mulleted mini-me in tow–wondering how it all came to this.

And life will keep marching on.

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Recklessly Reckless: Sam Eaton accidentally discovers navel, gazes

Talk about a clickbait-y headline!

I missed this viral post when it went berserk in September, again in February and see so much of a self I don’t particularly enjoy remembering that I couldn’t not write a response that ended up being a 2000-word monster, too big for the facebook rejoinder I promised a friend (Sorry, Kerry) and so, in the spirit of teh interwebz, I offer this, a behemoth talking about what someone else is talking about, which is one of my very favorite things to do.

(It’s not really one of my favorite things to do.)

And, while I do think Sam Eaton is doing some navel-gazing, I also think that he’s got honest points for all sorts of inaccurate reasons, which I discuss somewhere in the 3950834986th paragraph. That said, lots of noble enterprises have been undertaken for bad reasons.

In sum, there is nothing new under the sun.

Because sociology is amongst the softest of sciences, those my age (born 1981, too busy loading my diapers to appreciate the ’82 Brewers) have been labeled as everything from Gen-X to millennial and now x-ennial [barf.]

The reality, because I’m in this precarious gray area, is that generational differences really don’t exist. That said, nearly every lament the writer has about the church not caring, not listening, not adapting is the same lament the generation before him had, the same lament I had (and have) and generations before me had.

I remember thinking when I was 18 that I was going to write a new theology and it was going to be revolutionary. Then, I studied for about three seconds and realized that I had nothing new to contribute to the conversation, that the problems I identified were nothing unique or special or exclusive to my experience or perspective, and that I literally had no idea what theology was.

Millennials aren’t unique, they’re not exclusive and they’re not hard to figure out. They’re no different from any other group of people pushed out into this world. What has changed is the context, what they’ve been bequeathed–technology, ideas, ethos, etc. Those things, incidentally, have NOTHING to do with them. Just as rock and roll didn’t just pop up ex nihilo, just as drug culture wasn’t created in a vacuum. For those things: we just need to look in the mirror, just as our parents needed to. Former Assemblies of God superintendent Ralph Riggs put it this way: “If the youth fail, we are to blame.” He was absolutely right.

To wit, if the number is now a staggering 59% loss, then it is staggering because it is a substantial improvement over the 80-90% attrition rate documented and cited amongst those who knew better 15-20 years ago.

[You can stop reading here if you’d like; it is the summation of my thought on the matter. The rest of this is a point-by-point rejoinder of the original piece.]

***

Now, let’s dig into this point by point. The snark lever is in the on position, fair warning.

1) Ummm, Sam? You’ve gone viral. Do you really think nobody is listening to you, on a platform that allows billions of people to watch you gripe, or monkeys throw poo at each other, or people do unusual to abhorrent things to each other?

2) Sam, if you’re sick of values and mission statements, you should break out in hives over ‘Love God, love others.’ That phrase has been beaten to death, resurrected and beaten further, killed and beaten into a pile of mush on the ground, devoid of any recognizable influence or impact.

Mission statements can be valuable when employed judiciously. Often, to your credit, they are overused. What matters here is perspective: what is it that one community sees that another does not? This is the value of Paul’s letters, not in a singular voice, but a singular person involved in myriad cultures and communities. Paul’s words are not unilateral (shove it, Reformed types: ‘Let the women stay silent’ is NOT prescriptive) but are demonstrative of the recognition that 1) the church existed and grew without him, and 2) those vantage points helped him shape the way he led and influenced them.

Similarly, what each community sees as value-able or worthy of effort and enterprise can help one another shape their own, or engage culture at large in a different way. If we all just said ‘love God, love people’ we’d likely be even less effective than we are right now.

3) Yes, the institution is self-centered and Americanized. Yes, the busy-ness of church life has stagnated purpose and growth. Yes, service is often overlooked.

No, reducing Bible studies and airing grievances will not help. We tried this long ago, with a different set of millennials: the 19th century variety. The social gospel bombed terribly, though it did leave us with the Pledge of Allegiance (written by a Baptist socialist) and the immortal Walter Rauschenbusch (the OG conflator of socialist political doctrine and something faintly resembling authentic gospel.)

It destroyed and polluted most of what has come to be known as mainline Protestantism, which is largely feeble and impotent, but all too happy to have little free libraries out front and soup kitchens in the basement. Those things are good and needed, but any notion of the importance of the Christ-event is typically lost as soon as there is something Republican to protest.

4) Hey, I’m with you! Eschatological garbage has got to go. It is theologically-bankrupt (how many years have to pass before we have to reconsider an ‘imminent’ rapture or apocalypse?)

Seriously, Sam? Groeschel? Using The Gospel Coalition to defend your points is like the Green Bay Packers trading for Teddy Bridgewater. Actually, this contradiction and paradox is an ideal fit for a world in which P is not P is not only accepted, but encouraged. It’s the world you inhabit, and the world created and fostered by those who have gone before you.

5) Kindness and compassion are great. I’m learning how valuable they are and cultivating them in my own life.

Several generations before you have clamored for authenticity. Said generations have desired outlier seekers. And those people who seek out those people typically ARE those people [/looks in mirror]. Those skills do come naturally.

The problem, Sam, is not that the church hasn’t been trying; the problem is that the church has tried and is actively trying too hard. This is why we have a horrible, knock-off subculture in the first place. Training outlier hounds while demanding authentic community? Are you actually thinking these things through? Have you examined your own thought processes, or do you recognize any of what you’ve griped about as being interdependent issues?

It doesn’t take Aquinas to see your blindspots. Then again, I remember I used to be the same way. See also: the very first sentence of this already-lengthy post.

6) Millennials don’t trust institutions. They said the same thing about Gen-X. Whatever comes after you will likely say the same thing about you.

Guess what? If you want transparency, it’s there for you. All registered nonprofit organizations with 501c3 status have to report annually to the government and to membership. (These are why they have those irritating annual meetings.) Without institutionalization of some kind, there would be even less transparency than there is now. Further, any official business is legally-available on demand with written notice. But hey, you run a nonprofit, right?

…right?

/checks Recklessly Alive website
//self-incorporated
///no need to be transparent

So you’re complaining about a lack of transparency when you’re running an organization that is not recognized as a charitable organization and doesn’t need to comply with what most churches and other charitable organizations do? Especially when your own financials aren’t readily accessible?

Have fun with your audit, Sam!

(Actually, I love the idea of zero-based budgeting, and would love for the federal government to adopt it.)

7) Why does this have to be an either or? You note that there are millions of videos and podcasts, and yet you don’t realize that the cacophony of voices a few clicks away are devaluing and diminishing quality preaching and pulpit rhetoric. Millennials crave relationship, you’re right. So did my generation, the generation before that. EVERYONE CRAVES RELATIONSHIP.

Now, creating a database for older and younger people to connect? How does that create authentic community or not further entrench the institutionality you detest? Intentionality often smacks of patronization. Further, old people tend to feel the same way you do about not being heard or valued. You’re not alone, Sam. Your problems are not unique and your insight is decidedly unoriginal. That’s fine, until you go viral. Then you open yourself up to feedback and criticism. And then you have another unoriginal problem entirely.

8) Speaking of value!

I find the opposite of your viewpoint true–most people who are most invested in church ministry or activity are older. I’ve never heard of a millennial prayer warrior, but I’ve heard of hundreds of grandmas whose prayers moved. Frankly, if your assertion is true, and four in ten are sticking around church, there aren’t enough of you to do anything.

Yes, we should be gracious with those who serve and volunteer, but you don’t serve or volunteer for the laurels–you do what needs to be done as its own reward. That’s something you don’t realize when you’re young. Fatherhood has taught me just how much like Sisyphus those who serve are.  The lesson has made me better for it. Simply put, Sam, I think your perspective here is selfish and as such misguided. The right conclusion with the wrong reasoning is still the wrong conclusion.

9) SEX!

SEX SEX SEX SEXY SEX SEX!

Again, you’re saying the same thing that has been said for decades. But, the moment a preacher, for better or worse, talks about sex, politics, social issues, whatever, he/she will get blasted for it (if it’s the wrong viewpoint, which is entirely dependent on whoever is listening and their own idolized social perspective.)

You don’t create real, relevant spaces. Contrived relevance isn’t relevance at all (see also: Magazine, Relevant.) And, again, you don’t see that your solutions lend themselves toward institutionalization.

10) Fine. Cool. Good. Let’s do this! I agree with you, Sam!

But a church in Springfield, Missouri can do this when the area is largely red state and Evangelical. You get the local Assembly of God church in Madison, Wisconsin to try asking what to do for the local government and school and they’ll go broke from the lawsuits and be annoyed by the protests.

It’s not that simple.

Instead, go pick up trash at a park. Help a neighbor with their yard work. Be subtle and don’t come off as self-serving (and many churches that tout their activities and service do exactly this.)

11) Again, Sam, everyone is sick of being ignored and tired of broken promises. I’m a BlackBerry guy. I get it!

And, if you want people to stop lamenting and bitching about millennials, shut up and do. And you’re trying to do that very thing, and you should be applauded for it. But the higher your profile, whether you like it or not, the bigger the target is on your forehead.

After all, as a millennial purporting to speak on behalf of millennials, that’s exactly who you are and what you’re doing: a whiny millennial. You can’t complain about blowback when anything you’re writing is fair game for billions.

The same whininess is found in every generation. I am from another era, but I, too, whined as you do now. That’s why I’ve spent hundreds and hundreds of words pushing back.

12) The problem isn’t that the church isn’t reaching millennials, the problem is that it’s not reaching ANYONE. Generational obsession exists primarily in two places: sociology and Evangelicalism. Beyond that, it is a fiction to be marketed to and or exploited.

Here’s the raw truth, Sam: generations mean NOTHING. Trends mean nothing. They mean nothing because there is no real difference between your generation and mine, or mine and my father’s. The same problems exist, just with differing perspectives and differing stuff that has been left to us.

And this is the odd part about your post going viral: it’s nothing new or particularly insightful. You’ve touched on things countless others and myself have. The problem isn’t that you’re wrong, it’s that, in many ways, you’re right. It’s the way you have retroactively built cases for your conclusions that is the issue, often in ways that nullify or contradict outright several of your core criticisms or presuppositions.

So, if you want to be a part of a reform movement, by all means, do and be. Stop writing clickbait. Stop with the self-martyrdom. Stop thinking your perspective is exclusive to you.

And, when you do get blowback, as you have, don’t not listen to those who do, and don’t write a post about how you are confused as to why people range from loving to hating your work. When you write for the Internet, you’re writing for anyone. The thinness of your skin will show when you double-down as you have in a follow-up post that borders on being self-congratulatory in a masochistic sense and tone-deaf to those who you claim are tone-deaf to your generation.

Again, nothing new under the sun.

Regards,

–b.

pascal was wrong

“What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself.”
– Blaise Pascal, Pensées VII (425)

More commonly, this phrase is seen as something along the lines of ‘Every person has a God-shaped hole that only God can fill.’ And this is a nice notion, lending itself well to an apologetic that insists on the existential inadequacy of life without Christ’s salvific work.

In recent months, I’ve been wrestling fiercely with inner demons, confronting my own dark places and winning some of the battles, while waging others still. In unearthing a lot of the baggage and processing through everything from past and present hurts to memories I literally had to recalibrate, I realized something that deeply bothered me.

I am half-man, half-chasm. There is an enormous hole in my soul, and I’ve spent years trying to fill it, trying to let God fill it, but mostly trying in vain to do it myself. Inversely speaking, it’s like trying to bail the ocean.

Then Pascal and the bastardized version of his quote came to mind. And I thought it over. And while I understand what he’s saying, he’s wrong.

An abyss, even one in the shape of a deity, cannot be filled.

Further, not only can that hole not be filled, I’m not sure God is particularly interested in fulfilling anyone. If it is so that we are incomplete without God, that completion does not complete God, but us; that is to say, that God in this state of affairs is not God at all. We are. It is completing us, and not completing God or God’s work.

No, it is not us who need to be fulfilled, but God. God may well be incomplete without us in all our broken, incomplete–ahem, holy–lack of glory. It is for our frailty that grace is offered freely to those who would embrace the grace giver; that we need not be made whole, but satisfied solely in the Christ-event.

It is this realization that has brought me significant relief and peace in these trying days and months. It may well be what has stemmed the tide. The hole needn’t be filled: it is for this very reason Christ came! Nothing will fill that gap and nothing should, lest we be somehow dissatisfied with the resurrection or somehow find resurrection inadequate. (And many, many religious types do, and with the best of intentions!)

Family, education, career, art, benevolent involvement, passion, religion: these are all great and worthwhile things and worthy of our time, effort and devotion. They will not heal existential wounds or provide fulfillment. While these things are not substance abuse, violence or other self-abusive behavior (often with lasting effects on others), they can very easily have the same pernicious effect, because they, too, can become false idols. Only anchoring into something transcendent of life as we know it will provide any relief at all.

Something like the man who left the tomb empty.

Rather than Pascal, I think Augustine is more fitting: Our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you. 

It is not completion we ought to seek, but rest.

briefly, an opening day devotional

I bared my soul yesterday to a co-worker I hardly know at all. I did not realize it at the time. It is wasted if left there. It is possibly less-wasted here and is presented unedited.

***

Apr-3 4:20 PM

For me, it’s love. I stopped playing baseball when my parents moved us from Plover to Stevens Point (and the uniforms in Point’s Little League were generic and lame, while Plover’s were actual kiddie ML kits, stirrups and all. I was stupid; some things never change.)

I lost interest in baseball, then went to college in Minnesota, where I lived about three blocks from the Metrodome. The Twins, who were execrable for years, started making the postseason (Johan Santana, Torii Hunter, before Mauer and Morneau.) October baseball, and living in that for a month one fall, made me swoon.

I started reading the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel daily, following the Brewers, who were in those years, charitably described, utter and complete butt. I write and occasionally turn a decent phrase, so I got suckered into the writers there (Haudricourt, Drew Olson, Dale Hoffmann, then Bob McGinn, Cliff Christl and the Packers writers.)

Baseball somehow tied itself into the deepest part of my soul. It’s love.

***
Whatever noun connects itself to the deepest part of your soul–your natural talent or gifting, a place that sinks deeply into your conscious, a person who makes you feel like half-person, half-chasm without them–that noun is only there because it is rooted in love.
Don’t ever risk those nouns.

coffee with dead people: chuck barris

Chuck Barris died Tuesday in, of all places, Palisades, NY. The songwriter, author, television producer/emcee and cultural lightning rod was 87.

Most may not know that he wrote the post-Golden Age of Radio single “Palisades Park”, or that he worked behind the scenes on American Bandstand and was in no small part influential in the rise of what we know as reality television. Most know him in one of two ways: One, as the central character in the 2002 film adaptation of his self-professed unauthorized autobiography Confessions of a Dangerous Mind; or two, not entirely removed from the first, as the cracked-out host of the cracked-out late 1970s *ahem* talent program The Gong Show. 

He gave us any number of pop cultural icons and curiosities, launching the immortal Bob Eubanks from radio disc jockey to near-ubiquitous television presence for the better part of twenty years, to early exposure for a very youthful Paul Reubens, to giving David Letterman some of his earliest appearances as a celebrity judge on The Gong Show. He might not have been a kingmaker per se, but his work shaped a lot of American television culture to the present day.

Barris showed the world what an introvert looked like when faced with success, a national audience and a multi-camera studio. Or, perhaps, he really was cracking under the pressure of being an international man of mystery and assassin. Or, perhaps, drugs (a claim Barris vehemently denied to his death.)

The Gong Show was an early part of the lineup back in the days when USA Network ran blocks of old game shows every weekday afternoon. We lived in the suburban Twin Cities before cable became commonplace; my father got one of those enormous satellite dishes so that he could watch the Packers out of market. So, my brother and I were exposed to far more of the 1970s than I probably should have been.

And yet there we would be, in that ebullience known only to the young, dancing along to Gene Gene the Dancing Machine. Those memories are some of a scant few I have when my brother and I were both children. That joy still welled up when Central Wisconsin finally got Game Show Network and Gong was on every night at 10pm. That joy came back when I found Gene Gene compilations on YouTube last week.

Barris was also an accomplished author. Confessions is one of my favorite books (certainly not for the faint of heart), and The Game Show King is one of the better memoirs I’ve read. After Gong went off the air in 1980, he largely disappeared from public life, moving to France before returning to the States in his latter years. He never fully recovered from the loss of his daughter to a drug overdose, and four years of consistent on-screen delirium will suck the life out of anyone, much less someone who never wanted to be on that end of a television camera.

He might not have been a saint, he might not have been responsible for the downfall of Western Civilization (at least not entirely), but he gave me some of my earliest and most favorite memories, and now the coffin of my childhood is fast running out of space for the added nails.

The end of both the film and book is an uncomfortably apropos way to conclude:

I came up with a new game show idea recently. It’s called the old game. You got three old guys with loaded guns on stage. They look back at their lives, see who they were, what they accomplished, how close they came to realizing their dreams. The winner is the one who doesn’t blow his brains out. He gets a refrigerator.

briefly, dust

“…you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” — Genesis 3.19b

I was not raised in a Christian tradition that paid much recognition to Ash Wednesday or the Lenten season, which began for many Christians a week ago. With the arrival of the season, though, this phrase has stuck in my mind.

To be returned to dust. Pulverized; pulvis: dust, powder, ash.

We will all be pulverized. What (ahem) levels the playing field more than that?

Perhaps in our heightened state of enlightenment, we have forgotten what it is we really are. Regardless if one believes in the literal creation (which I do not), or in evolutionary development (theistic or otherwise), the source is the same: we come from the elements. In kind, we will end up elements again.

In the meantime, we are animated dirt.

And, as dirt, living amongst dirt, we tend to lack self-awareness of our own dirtiness. As such, we take our fellow dirt for granted, we mistreat, we hate, we ignore, considering our collection of dirt of more value than someone else’s. All the while, neglecting the fundamental fact that I am dirt and could be dispatched to my natural, dusty state at any given time.

The fact that we are animated dust, then, should never be far from our minds, Lent or otherwise. This is the time to be grateful, to be fair, kind and to recognize the myriad ways in which we fail one another. This is the day to seek forgiveness and to forgive. The garden might not be an option anymore; that shouldn’t keep us from creating something beautiful (or as beautiful as dust can possibly be.) This is hope, that in spite of our mutated condition, we might yet even have the faintest resemblance of a time when things were right.

Indeed, while we yet have anima, we are extraordinary pulvis. Capable of life and destruction, often in the same manner and from the same source, inexorably thrust toward our pulverization. Ashes to ashes; dust to dust.

What will you do with your interim? What shall I do with mine?

waging war on salary

Everything is rooted first in an idea. Seldom are things what they are–seriously, it is what it is is a phrase that needs to be obliterated outright–rather, they are anchored by presupposition, predicate events, definitions, etc.

The present is inextricably linked to the past. Nothing exists in a vacuum. (Come to think of it, isn’t that a brilliantly redundant sentence?)

With recent fiat regulatory changes to the nature of pay for exempt (read: salaried) work authorized by the erstwhile presidential administration, then stayed by a federal judge in Texas, the nature of exempt versus non-exempt work briefly became a point of conversation. In short, exempt workers earning less than $47,476 in salary were to be paid overtime as though they were non-exempt (read: wage-earning) workers.

The first glance take by many was, ‘Cool! MONEEZ!’ And that would make sense, since, hey, who doesn’t like more money? In a sustained economic climate of flat average wages and inflation, it could be seen as government throwing the gray collared class a bone.

A deeper look at the matter, though, showed the rule change for what it is: a bureaucratic and logistical nightmare for businesses and employees. Employees who were not adjusted to above-threshold pay levels would essentially lose their exempt status, the trade-off for more money being meticulously tracking time as though they were not salaried at all. Employers artificially bumped entire sectors of their business, creating a new, unintended impact to the bottom line, putting some employers in a position where they had to cut payroll to keep the books level.

<.<

>.>

[Hmmm? Oh, I didn’t say anything. Sorry.]

***

These kinds of wholesale changes are almost unilaterally nothing more than cynical pandering. Attempts to jack the minimum wage don’t just cause headaches for small business owners, but they push entire segments of the workforce closer to poverty as the other mechanisms are triggered within the economy adjust to the new baseline. Flat wages lend themselves to flat revenues; starve someone long enough and they’ll eat anything that looks like food. (Hey, they’ll get your vote, too.)

And this is what happens when we fundamentally misunderstand wage and salary. This is neither an economic nor math problem: arbitrarily rewriting numbers higher–even for the most well-intentioned (assuming noble motivation) reasons–does nothing productive when we don’t even comprehend what it is being changed.

Salary and wage are ideas. Salary is more or less an allowance: rooted in the Roman military tradition of paying salt-money in exchange for continued service. It is a forward-thinking payment that sets out to make above and beyond work worth a person’s while. Wage, on the other hand, is a reward for work already done. It is recompense for the past.

Salary, in essence, buys off a person’s commitment to a standard schedule where it is made worth a person’s while to not be confined to a shift. Wage, in contrast, is offered with clearer baseline expectations. (Anyone else ever work in an environment where overtime was discouraged, if not penalized?)

Neither are necessarily bad: some people prefer income stability, while others prefer the budgeted schedule and the chance at making a little more here and there. Some employers prefer people to not worry about the clock, others need to maintain a bottom line. It depends on the business and type of activities within it.

The problem is that workers and managers alike also seem to misunderstand this as much as, if not more than, government bureaucrats and the wage-hike cheerleaders. Salary is not designed to be abused and make people work 50-70 hour work weeks; that is an abuse of workforce and bad faith. Similarly abusive are environs where workers are either subjected to repressed wages or otherwise obligated to work overtime on a regular basis.

Simply jacking salary or wage numbers doesn’t address the actual problems however far beneath the surface. Raising the exempt overtime threshold, or the minimum wage, does not reconcile anything.

If anything, it amplifies fundamental misunderstandings and makes bad situations worse: a jerk of an entrepreneur who expected 80 hours of work per week from an exempt employee for $40,000 will expect that much more from someone when they have been required a nearly 20% raise by bureaucratic decree. That same jerk will either cut working hours or workforce entirely when wage obligations reach an unsustainable level. These are not merely math problems: they’re philosophical problems.

The part about Smith’s Wealth of Nations that people seem to overlook is that the name of the book has nothing to do with capital or capitalism. He’s pretty clear on this point, before laying out–in most comprehensive detail–his capitalist treatise: the wealth of nations is in the goodness of its people. The title is an irony. And, while I quickly veer away from the partisanship and rancor and cause all gradation of grundy such as whenever terms like ‘capitalism’ or ‘socialism’ are implied or invoked, the point I’m making is that if we understand what we’re dealing with, we stand a far better chance of actually solving problems, and doing so together. Further, I believe this is particularly true in matters of compensation.

A good and wise business owner will treat her employees with goodness and wisdom in all respects. Granted, this doesn’t happen much, but when the conditions are such that ownership is obligated to conform to a standard, the ability to demonstrate goodness or wisdom is also  necessarily restricted.

So, then, this is how we ought to interpret broad-stroke regulatory changes like the one currently stayed: as a capricious restriction on our ability to be better. The bigger check makes for stronger chains. The law brings death, and that which is dead is connected to nothing at all.

Graves have no roots. Those in them don’t get paid, either.