Friday, December 30, 2016

Do People Who Have Less Even Want Friends?

(Pruned out of today's Link Log because my comment is long...here, just in case I'm not online during the next two weeks, is a rant that should last you. I'm trying to post it as pre-scheduled for the day I expect to come back to this particular Wifi node, so the rant will stay on top as the book reviews pop up below it.)

Abi Sutherland explains the concept of "spoon banditry," a.k.a. Why People Who Have Less Don't Even Want Friends Any More:

http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/016547.html

...It refers back to this classic blog post, now available as a visual poster and in four languages:

https://butyoudontlooksick.com/articles/written-by-christine/the-spoon-theory/

These posts happened to tap into my mood--such as it is.

I want to emphasize that as a hyperestrogenemic woman who's finally made it into the Promised Land of Middle Age, I don't even have moods in the sense I had when all those hormones were raging around inside me. What I'm actually feeling is bemusement. All my vital signs are nice and even. This computer has a white screen rather than a blue-grey or black one, so I can't see my face, but I suspect anyone looking across the crowd in the cafe thinks I'm typing this with a faint hint of a smile on my face. That would be the look of bemusement, which isn't mad, sad, or glad, but appreciative of the irony of life in a detached and temperate way.

But, once again, people didn't buy enough stuff in real life, and youall didn't pay for this blog.

I'm curious about this. You pay for magazines. Why are you not paying for this blog? Because other bloggers post more than just "Hi everybody im eating lunch & checking email again" just for fun, vanity, whatever, so you've formed a habit of not paying for things you read online? Despite the "i-frames" problem with the buttons Google provides to encourage readers to feed Blogspot bloggers, my Paypal works just fine, thank you; all you need to do is notify our Message Squirrel that you want to support the blog (as distinct from buying a book, knitted item, painting, carton of Veggie Burgers, etc.) and then paste the correct e-mail address for that into the appropriate space on your Paypal screen.

So, can it actually be true that of the hundreds of people who the computer says visit this web site daily, all of you either (1) haaate what you're reading here (yes, I know some followers are following this blog because they hate it, in a political sense; the computer shows who you are), or (2) are children, or (3) are in prison, or (4) have had an income of less than US$3000 for this year?

That's right, Gentle Readers. I did not intend to type "$30,000." I meant "$3,000." Calculating my actual income for 2016 is going to be difficult because I didn't have the use of the home computer on which I record sales for most of the year--the computer was fine, but it wasn't connected to electricity--but it's been well below $3000.)

If your income for 2016 was below US$12,000, there's no need to comment about that here. If it was above US$12,000, you should have been supporting this web site. No excuses please. If you earned over $12,000 this year, either you are +LB Johnson or +Andria Perry or a lurker in the Midwest, or you don't want this web site or its only currently active member to be alive in the next year, or you badly need some lessons in frugality (start with: no car, no television set, no restaurant food), which this web site exists in order to give you but is obviously failing to deliver.

Anyway, once again, this week, I ran out of cash in between real-world sales. Wednesday: no solid food unless we count medicinal garlic. One day without food is not a problem, and someone from a town even smaller than Gate City was supposed to have paid for something and also taken me to a big store in the city on Thursday. Thursday morning: person called early to say that "something came up" and reschedule the shopping trip for Saturday--and also the payment of course. I honestly didn't want to browbeat this person into driving into Kingsport, or even Gate City, for my benefit; I shouldn't have needed to do that in order to have enough food to walk and blog on. The thought that came to mind was, "I've promised myself no more long fasts and readjustments-to-eating. All my favorite people are dead. I'm too old to be living on the edge of survival like this. Why don't I just resign myself, stop trudging into town and being disappointed by not being paid for anything I do, stop eating, unplug the heater, and just focus on remembering my husband and find out whether I wake up with him?"

Now, turn off that whole line of thought about "What to Say to a Friend who has Depression." I do not have depression. I enjoy being alive. I particularly enjoy reading the obituaries of social workers and those who try to apply that line of idiot patter they're programmed to spew to any situation in real life. Nobody needs to tell me how to enjoy the nice things in among the nasty things in life.

Nobody needs to tell me about these wo-o-onderful tax-funded handouts to able-bodied people that are destroying the United States, either. "How is it harming a rich country to have programs that hand out specific things to people below specific levels of income?" I'll limit myself to repeating three of the most blatant ways:

1. Countries can go bankrupt, and the United States is on the brink. We need to slash all federal programs, brutally...and one of the most important cuts would begin with "If any kind of handout is still offered to anyone who can get out of bed and talk to a social worker, the condition needs to be that that person spends ten hours a day, six days a week, at a designated 'Day Labor For Cash' site unless and until s/he is employed." (Though I should mention that, when I'm doing Link Logs, this web site is my virtual "Day Labor For Cash" site; I am working the occasional-paid-gig sites for all they're worth.) This in no way implies that other cuts can be postponed, but...there's a reason why we as a nation just chose a President-Elect whose best known quote is "You're fired."

2. When people receive handouts that meet their physical "needs" as long as they stay below a certain level of income, they're motivated to stay below that level of income. Have you ever tried to help someone who's been receiving food stamps, fuel assistance, and so blah blah on, by offering the person an honest day's work that they could actually do well? "I'd only have to report it and they'd cut my handouts, so I'd rather just slop around watching television all day." Even if your business is big enough that you can offer them a steady part-time job with benefits, you'll get "I've enjoyed the job, but it's going to affect this or that handout..."

3. When people believe that their neighbors can always get handouts to meet their needs, people don't feel motivated to appreciate and boost their neighbors' work, and the community falls apart. If you know someone needs extra money, so (although you might be able to do it yourself) you pay that person to weed your garden or wash your windows or whatever, you're boosting that person and boosting your entire neighborhood. If you choose to wallow in arrogance and whine, "Other people can always get food stamps, and I want to drive everywhere and watch television all day and eat precooked food every day," you are an enemy to that person, and to your community.

Well...it just happens to be time to cash out my Paypal account before anybody hacks into it. (Never accumulate more than a hundred dollars in a Paypal account.) So, after giving myself a day to wallow in discouragement (and actually have fun getting a lot of household things done) on Thursday, I forced myself to come into town today.

This morning's internal dialogue went something like this: Superego to id: "Self, pull yourself together, put on clean clothes, and hurry into town."

Id: "Do you even know for sure that the cafe's going to be open today?"

Superego: "It's extremely unlikely that anybody's going to be online today, but if you cash out the Paypal account via the one person that you know in Gate City who has a Paypal account, that person will probably advance at least enough of the cash that you can eat lunch."

Id: "Eww, ick, do I haaaave to talk to per?" (Inside my head I use, and in this post I will use, "person" and "per" as non-gender pronouns, like the characters in Marge Piercy's classic novel about the way welfare destroys those who "benefit" from it.) "Person is so not purr. Person is very very meow, or maybe even growl!"



Superego: "Person is undeniably Getting Older and Starting to Forget Conversations, but person means well."

Ego: "Person is a divorcee and a convicted welfare cheat--a moral bad apple with a natural tendency to rot the whole barrel. In any conversation about our personal lives and business, person constantly urges me to do the kind of stupid things person has done to mess up per life. 'Gossip always settles down' and 'All they do is cut off further benefits, so you're not worse off after being convicted of welfare cheating than you were before,' indeed!"

Superego: "Yes, person does have a guilt complex a mile wide, but you know person is not a role model. If Jesus claimed Zacchaeus and Mary Magdalene as friends, it shouldn't hurt you to claim person. Just don't talk about your personal business. Tell person how much cash you want from the amount you're sending, wish per a Happy New Year, and get to work."

Id: "Person's company is sickening."

Ego: "The company of any person who doesn't appreciate something you do for per is always sickening. It doesn't always have to be a monetary transaction, but...well...it may be fun to watch wild creatures grab a crumb and fly away, but the animals we buy food for, and feed regularly, are the ones that rub against our hands afterward."

Superego: "Right, right, absolutely right, now just power through the nausea. It will pass I tell you."

So of course this friend-of-extremely-questionable-value found a way to spew out the moral fungus that's rotting the person's own mind. "If you're not earning enough money online to have a full-sized business bank account you should go on food stamps and fuel assistance and a disability pension, because you could be hoarding cash that way..." Uuurrrggghhhh. Get thee behind me Satan.

Person even went so far as to mention the names of a few mutual acquaintances, who I happened to know weren't in town this week but that's none of person's business. "Don't you have other friends? Don't you even want other friends?"

And it hit me: I do in fact enjoy having a small select circle of friends. The people I've liked best in my life are dead, but in this world we all have to learn about friendship from observing trees: you lose a part of your social "core," you grow closer to someone else, your life goes on until it stops. Once long ago when I was paid for what I did, I enjoyed being a loyal and generous friend. Before I'd seen the side of this person that person shows to those who have less than person has, I would have counted person among my living friends. But...welfare pushers? With "friends" like that, who needs enemies?

People who babble along the lines of "You could get some sort of handout" are not friends. They're dang lucky if anybody counts them as acquaintances, as connections (if not in the fullest Mafia sense, at least with that emotional connotation, yes).

People who are not, in fact, asking me to help with something they do, and thanking me for my help, are at best "spoon bandits." I may not expect much more from them. They may have genuine disabilities, although this particular spoon bandit qualified as a potential friend by being in the minority of our generation who can still keep up with me on a stroll in the park. I may feel sorry for them; I may profoundly hate and regret any need to ask them for anything, even a moment of their time, which I assume is likely to cost them as much energy as it does me, which I sincerely regret.

I'm even aware that, due to elitism, people who are at or below my level of the "class" hierarchy but who currently have more money may have reasons not to want to be seen with me or recognized as my friends, and I certainly wouldn't want to burden them...and that adds to the drain any contact with those people, or with people who might be in that category, puts on my energy. As an introvert I have no natural instinct to issue invitations. I might enjoy someone else's company or appreciate their help with something that I enjoy doing, but if I don't know for sure that the person would be grateful for an invitation, I'm not going to ask; I naturally prefer to be asked. (Even if I'm older and/or senior in a given situation, and could reasonably be expected to do the asking...during my formative years I was not older or senior to anybody, y'see, so I didn't cultivate the skill of issuing invitations much.)

So what is my social life like? Once in a while I remember someone whom I might, long ago, have invited to share a meal, go to a book party...I have never enjoyed passive "entertainment." In my twenties I went to movies for the usual reason young women go to movies--the opportunity for safe, semi-private, limited snogging. I used to enjoy games, book parties, fundraising events, things where my participation actually helps someone else accomplish something I want to see that person accomplish. Once, long ago, Bright Young Things used to hang out at the Starbucks on Dupont Circle; let's just say that, whether we grew up "bright" or not, we're no longer young, or single, or likely to hang out there any more. Now I remember this one or that one and think, "Yes, person and I used to have fun," and I wonder whom the person married or whether the person is still living, and I think, "I wish per well, wherever person may be." I don't Go Out, socially, at all any more. That's one of the most obvious budget cuts you make when you adjust to a lower income.

What you don't want to do, ever, is spend an unnecessary second in the presence of people who may deny that they're elitists, but they are. You know...they don't ask you for favors or want to share meals you've cooked, so if you do ask them for the sort of favor you'd do for them in a heartbeat, they act as if it's suddenly become a big deal and "you should be grateful." And they don't think poor people are supposed to have opinions, so the kind of thing on which your reputation for being bright, witty, and charming was built has suddenly become "mouthing off." And they don't realize that you're exactly the same person you were when you had an income, so acting as if your time or your preferences mattered has suddenly become "arrogant." And so on.

These people will scream and howl if you tell them that they're not only showing elitism, but showing it in a trashy way that will severely compromise your ability to respect anything about them ever again...but they are. Surviving on a low income means you have to judge those people, write them off as "stupid" or "crazy" or "senile" (whether or not they are those things in other ways, they are at least one of them where elitism is concerned), like them less, trust them less, not take anything they're currently saying seriously and be very very cautious about taking them seriously if you ever get back to a level of income at which friendship with these people might be possible. They are an inferior, unworthy grade of friends. (That's not because this person's family aren't local landowners, although that happens to be the case; it's because person is choosing stupidity.) If you don't need any material benefits they may offer, you certainly don't need them; if you find similar benefits somewhere else, you'll never look back with fond memories of the time you shared with them.

The world would be a much more pleasant place if all the elitists were dead, and likewise all the successful welfare cheats. I know one blatantly bogus "retarded" person who was in fact "retarded" in the original, non-judgmental sense that a physical injury prevented him from showing or using his considerable talents as a child; because people were cruel about his "moron"-level I.Q. scores when he was younger I can pardon him for continuing to collect his pension, while quietly becoming able to do half a dozen different jobs, even white-collar jobs, well enough to have earned a living at them. Most people who do that sort of thing, I say, are an ungodly combination of beggars, thieves, prostitutes, and traitors: worse than any of those four things by itself. I could not live in the same house with someone like that. The temptation to murder would be overwhelming. If I had become that kind of person, it wouldn't even be murder, any more than masturbation would be rape; it'd be consensual euthanasia. If I had to choose, I'd rather skip the step of evildoing and go directly to euthanasia.

If any welfare cheats are reading this...pull yourself together, if you can. Wean yourself off the plastic. You don't have to have a car. You don't have to have television, or own a computer; I'd recommend keeping a phone, but buy prepaid minutes and use them for emergency communication only, no chat, no Internet, no staying in touch with friends. You don't have to eat fast food. If it comes down to that, you can probably find an alternative to paying rent as long as you bear in mind that anything--not including violence, but including the genteel form of prostitution usually known as cultivating a rich friend--is preferable to welfare-cheating. God forgave St. Paul for participating in the murder of St. Stephen, so God can forgive you, and so can I, but in order for that to happen you need to repent.

For myself? If I hadn't had things to do at home I could have forced myself to go into town and cash out the Paypal money yesterday, so yesterday didn't count. Henceforward, though: whenever I've not eaten in 48 hours, I promise myself to take that as an indication that it's time to start the Ultimate Hunger Strike. I won't go online to give you readers any last-minute warnings; I wasn't particularly impressed by Oral Roberts' fundraising stunts and don't want to sound like them. If you get some sort of benefit--pleasure, information, publicity for your work, whatever--out of this web site, you are supposed to fund it. Do not wait to read about "needs." Make sure I don't get down to the level of thinking about physical "needs." Widows survive by building up and moving forward. Steadily.

This web site used to have a button (which never really worked) that recommended $5 payments, the cost of a monthly magazine, but since other people are freeloading and participating in the exploitation, you need to think in terms of $100 payments, the cost of an annual subscription to many monthly magazines these days. (Yes, printed "magazine" versions of this web site are and have always been available to those who pay for them. No, they won't look as slick as Time or People or National Review, but neither will they be weighed down with full-page ads...in fact you can customize the amount of paper, size of type, number of pictures, and type of material for which you pay.)

If you don't get enough benefit out of this web site to fund it, then don't worry and don't whine if it disappears; you have, for the moment, won. I believe you're on the side of a great moral-spiritual conflict that's predestined to lose, the ultimate and total defeat, but I don't have any emotional attachment to staying here and watching that happen.

For the past ten-plus years I've been living in the bizarre situation of being exactly where I've always wanted to be, doing exactly what I've always wanted to do...and not making enough money at it to provide any assurance of being able to pay for anything that doesn't grow naturally in the orchard, even a week ahead of time. I've never taken any vows of poverty or turned down any legitimate odd jobs that might pay better than the ones I've been barely surviving on; it's just that paid jobs have been scarce and a lot of people have taken advantage of Virginia's lack of a small claims court.

From time to time, someone has said, "Why don't you go back to the big city and make some more big money." Answer: Washington is a young people's town, and nobody's guaranteeing that I would make money there. The odds are very high that I would not. Around age forty, people in Washington are either senior executives or consultants or officials, or making plans to leave; I left. I don't need a lot of money to enjoy living in my own home; I would need a lot of money to be able to afford an equally pleasant, or even a tolerable, quality of home in Washington. Back in the Associated Content days I used to get lots of offers to write five-dollar articles about the city, but not enough of them to fund a $150 bus ride back there. Even during the past week, the e-mail contained an invitation to join some e-friends at an Inaugural Festivity...and if it had contained bus tickets and Metro farecards and a hotel reservation and/or invitation to stay at someone's home, I might have enjoyed going back to Washington for one more week, but...I'd rather cherish memories the city where I used to be a Bright Young Thing than form new memories of a bigger, uglier city where I would now be "old" and homeless. Giving up the good things I currently enjoy, in exchange for no guarantee of any potential future enjoyment whatsoever, would be genuinely stupid. Selling my home and going back to the city would be suicidal.

No. Much as you might like to believe that people only ever have emotional problems, I have no emotional problems. I have a reality problem. I have been considering every angle of this reality problem for a long time now, in my own mind, in consultation with my (now distant and second-best) friends, and in prayer. In prayer I even received a flash of illumination in the form of a mental image--I don't often think in pictures; I saw the image of a sick patient trying futilely to move crippled hands to summon help, and understood it to mean that God can't use the Living Body of Christ, which is/are Christians, until Christians snap out of their "people can always get food stamps" mentality and start supporting other Christians' work. In rational thought and conversation, it's inescapable: The only possible way my life situation is going to get better is going to consist of

*wages for work done*

*wages for work done*

*WAGES FOR WORK DONE*

*WAGES FOR WORK DONE*  !!!!!!!!!!!

What that means to you, Gentle Readers, is: if you want more of whatever you've been getting from this web site, send money now. Use the e-mail link at the bottom of the screen to receive the Paypal address to which you can send money to keep this web site going.

(To those whose minds leaped to "yes but I neeeeed money myself for whatever reason" mode...your own web site is the place to post all about that, and yes, you may link to this post in your post about your situation. I'm all in favor of people funding your project or helping meet your needs too, the more money people have to fling around the merrier, but let's keep this one simple. Only if you can prove that you've been living in the United States on less than US$2000 for the year 2016 are you welcome to post about your level of income here. This post is about funding this web site.)