Monday, March 16, 2009

Guilty conscience much?

Bob Greene feels guilty and wants to offer an apology:
As the country frets about extricating itself from the financial mess, there is one group of Americans to whom the rest of us owe the most sincere words of apology. That group consists of the oldest of our fellow citizens -- the men and women who went through the Great Depression when they were young...
As Tonto famously said, "What do you mean 'we', paleface?" Some of us actually listened to grandma and grandpa while growing up, and believed all those silly things like "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without," and "If you can't pay cash, you can't afford it," and "Never pay interest on something that depreciates." They weren't talking just to hear their heads roar, you know.

If you've got a guilty conscience, Bob, that's between you and the old folks.


Anonymous said...

My favorite: "You can have compounding interest working for you or against you"


WV: conanogy - The Governator's take on fiscal responsibility


Nathan Brindle said...

Bob Greene is still alive?

jesperskibbey said...

My grandfather graduated from high school during the depths of the great depression. He rode the rails around the country looking for work (or trouble, depending on who you talk to). One word of advice he gave me that I have always clung to: Never get a credit card.

I'm nearing 40 years old, and, sans credit, have always been able to book an airline flight, rent a car, reserve a hotel room and never had a problem, other than I have to wait to purchase an item until I have cash. I believe I have avoided many real problems, thanks for the good advice, Gramps!

Jeff the Baptist said...

"Never get a credit card."

You can have a credit card. You just need the discipline to always pay it off at the end of the month. That means you still can't use it if you don't have the money (or won't have the money when the bill is due). If you aren't doing that, then cut it up.

Yes checking cards make this less useful, but credit cards still have stronger protections against fraud.

Anonymous said...

The "Greatest Generation"? You mean the generation that sold this nation into Socialism so they could get something for nothing? FICA, Medicare, GI Bill, prescription drugs, and now National Socialized Medicine, gimme, gimme, gimme.

When I think of the "Greatest Generation" all I can see is a nest of baby birds with their beaks wide open. Bob, tell them to go away and take the Baby Boomers with them.

I'll pull this fucking wagon, Bob. Just shut up and stop whining.

Shootin' Buddy

Tam said...

The other thing I learned at grandma's knee was that FDR (referred to as "that liar") was the devil incarnate. :D

Anonymous said...

Ah, the restless ghost of Morris Massey stalks the echoing hall. Who you are, what you know, whether you are an asshole or not is all determined by what "generation" you belong to. How comforting for people who don't believe that humans are individuals.

Watch the fellow who gets to define these "generations." He's the one with the real power.

Anonymous said...

At least she taught you right!

You are lucky to have such wise grandparents.

Shootin' Buddy

Tam said...

"Ah, the restless ghost of Morris Massey stalks the echoing hall."

Being a Generation X'er, if you want to communicate with me, you should do it in short soundbites to keep my gnat-like attention. Preferably via email. Apparently we really dig that email.

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah, check your twitter in-box. And guess my age.

Anonymous said...

Nathan Brindle has a point there. Bob Greene seems to have a Certain Kind of Memory.

From the late 50's through the 70's, we saw pensioners absolutely plowed under by deliberate inflation. Most of them were pre-Greatest. When those people lost their houses--lost because they owned them, a concept foreign to Greatest and everyone later, and had to sell because they could no longer pay taxes and utilities--great swathes of the nation were laid waste. Now, of a sudden we realize what happens to the old when the Great rule, and presume it has never happened before. He is a gnat, and in his turn will be swatted by the great beast he worships.

Retirees at my gun club say, "I'm on a fixed income. You know when you take a dog to the vet and get it fixed? What's what they did to my income."

jason said...

Shootin Buddy,
GI Bill isn't something for nothing. It's a benefit earned through military service. Remove that from your socialism list. Thanks.

Bram said...

My Grandfather warned me about the political hucksters who took a recession and turned it into the Great Depression. They stayed in power by making promises to the ignorant poor and mortgaging the country to pay for them.

He grew up on a farm, hunting for food for the pot betwen harvests - then he spent his entire (successful) adult life paying for FDR's promises.

alath said...

Wrong group of people to apologize to.

The people we need to apologize to are our grandkids. We are leaving them an unspeakable mess of debt to deal with.

David said...

My Grandmother was 15 when the great depression started. Her mother was ill and as soon as things got rough her older sisters married and got away from the family as fast as they could. Grandma raised her four younger brothers, cared for her mother and kept house for her Dad who did anything he could to bring home meat.

Grandma turned the entire south west quarter of their yard into a vegatable garden. She traded veggies and bake goods for eggs and milk. She worked out trade deals with local farmers that some of them were still honoring into the late 1960s. Once the depression had ended and she had converted her vegatble garden into the largest flower garden in town she traded fresh cut flowers for eggs and milk.

Grandma's advice to surviving tough times was:
1. Do whatever it takes to care for your family. Dig ditches, pick fruit, shuck corn, if you can't get paid to use your brain, then make sure you can get paid to use your muscles.
2. Use, re-use and use up everything.
3. Never throw anything away.
4. When you are hungry you will learn to eat anything.
5. Help your neighbors so that when you need it they will help you.
6. Don't ever assume that it can't possibly get worse.

Grandma never complained about the trials she lived through. It was something she dealt with - day to day. When it was over she got on with her life and the great depression became something to tell stories about to entertain and educate her grandchildren. When a cousin decided to major in English grandma's only comment was "That's nice, who's going to feed you when times get tough?"

Grandma always assumed that things would get bad again. She maintained "People in general are stupid, they will make the same mistakes again or they will think up whole new ways to mess everything up." That is why she tried to educate us.

I think that if Grandma was still around, she would be pretty pissed off at most of her family. Most of them are going to starve when the going gets really tough. She would probably be disappointed in me because I have told those same members of the family if things do get tough, don't come knocking on my door - I'm better armed than you are.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, there's something about English that renders one unable to turn a spade? Who is going to feed the computer programmers when times get tough? Know what an out of work engineer is? Out of work, that's what.

College is not trade school. Around the campfire after the apocalypse, there will be former professionals bitching about the professions they don't have anymore, and there will be storytellers getting paid in food and drink. Guess their major.

David said...

Being an English Major will not earn you food as a story teller. You want to be a storyteller you had better major in bullshit.

I know several English Majors and they can't tell stories to save their lives. They don't communicate verbally, they read and they write. The best story tellers I have every known, the guys I would be willing to feed in order to have them entertain me, were relatively uneducated, but worldly types who understood how to make everyone around them laugh.

As for being an out of work engineer? Engineering is my profesion. Tinkering with, and taking things apart and putting them back together is my hobby. So when your windmill driven water pump suddenly stops pumping call me, for a meal and a box of 9mm ball ammo, I'll fix it for you.

staghounds said...

I'm not too broken up about the "greatest generation", either.

Of course I'm grateful for what they did, the war and that. But the war wasn't an act of altruism, it was self defense.

Remember that no military equipment was provided on credit until our allies had no assets left?

And the GI bill? NOW it's a benefit earned, because it exists and is known to the enlistee and the taxpayers. When it was created, its indirect beneficiaries were already in uniform and had made their deal. It was a straight up wealth redistribution, like the Civil War pensions in 1980 and after. GIs got schooling, schools (the direct beneficiaries) got tuition, taxpayers got the satisfaction of paying for it, whether they wanted to or not.

As people have been doing since at least Old Testament times, they followed the lead provided by their parents in 1932 and sold our future into socialism and debt for their present safety. We're doing it too.

Any idiot knows, you buy stock for dividends. If you're buying it for appreciation, you're gambling and you don't even know the rules of the game. Since there aren't any.

And, Tam, you obviously came from a left wing background. I heard my grandparents say f*ck and G#ddamn%t, but I never heard that man's name pass their lips.

kbarrett said...

English Major? Story Teller?

Invest in knee pads.

After TEOTWAWKI, they'll be killing and eating any extra dentists or doctors, but there will always be a place for someone who can give good head.

Cossack in a Kilt said...

Grampa taught me to hold for center of mass.

Verification? "Fryin" "Boy, you don't hold COM, you'll be fryin' in hell come dinnertime."

Anonymous said...

I was born in 1934, so you can figure I was raised on all the "Don't waste..." and "Don't fritter..." and all that.

The Left has always been more facile with words than the conservatives. That made FDR's BS politically possible. Shootin' Buddy is aiming at the wrong target. The public at large was led to believe that Capitalism had failed (sound familiar?) and the nation had to be "Progressive".

If anybody needs to do a bunch of apologizing, there's a fairly large group to do that.

We can start with those who brought us the Community Reinvestment Act and the subsequent associated laws and rules. We can include those responsible for monetary policy after the 1980 recession. We can add the Bush/Obama replication of Hoover/FDR monetary policy which is a slap in the face of all of us who have played by common-sense economic rules.

Been self-sufficient? Independent of government programs? Paid all your bills as though honor and self-respect were important to you?

I got news for ya: Nobody inside the Beltway really gives a bleep.

FWIW: The GI Bill led to more creation of wealth than any other government program ever devised since the TVA. As with the space program, the benefit/cost ratio was incredibly high. They rank with the Interstate Highway system for that. Helluva note, though; only four out of thousands...


Anonymous said...

David, you cannot spell "profession." No, I mean it. Really.

It's a shame you don't know any good English majors, but it all evens out, since they don't know any good engineers, either.

I spent 30 years, three months and 21 days following engineers around to clean up their messes. I've never met such a bunch of ticket punchers: they thought about exactly what they were told to think about, understood less, and uniformly passed the blame up when the obvious came to pass. In addition, their math was often wrong. You've obviously mistaken yourself for a mechanic, a nobler and less debased calling.

Admit it: you damn nearly failed your one and only English elective, and it scared you.

Billy Beck said...

"The GI Bill led to more creation of wealth than any other government program ever devised since the TVA."

Wot ridiculous horseshit. The GI Bill convinced a whole generation of the delusion that they were actually fit for college. If you can think your way through this, then consider the effects of inflation, applied to the academy.

Those poor people sent their dumb-ass kids to college, and the payoff began to rear its head about 1968. Look around you.

"GI Bill", my achin' ass.

David said...


You're right! I'm obviously a complete failure at everything I have ever done in my life because I dared to misspell a word. I'm so ashamed! I should probably go kill myself now before I further torture the human race by committing felony misspelling again.

Oh, in case you didn't get it - that was a little something that my literature professors in college called sarcasm. Get a grip, get a life, and get an identity (or at least a name) while you are at it.

I took several semesters of English in college. An entire year of required Freshman grammar which I barely managed to get Cs in because I couldn't stay awake. The teacher (and I'm being kind using that word) was an incredibly boring, endlessly droning, monotone voiced, robotic excuse for an educator. I may have slept through the classes but I think that hag actually died mid semester, she just didn't stop talking after she expired. Two years later the professor I took my technical writing class from (I got an A, BTW) talked me into taking a couple senior level literature classes. I got As in both of them, because I was interested in the subject matter and I lucked into two really good professors who loved to debate and discuss things with their students.

So, how many engineering and science classes did you take, and pass?

Am I being presumptuous, since you spent 30+ years cleaning up after engineers, maybe you were just the janitor?

One last thing - your initial comment was directed at something an 80 year old woman, who has been dead for almost decade now once said to her goof off granddaughter just before she dropped out of school after changing majors for the sixth time in seven semesters. So if you would like to continue arguing her thesis she is buried in a small farm cemetery in Eastern South Dakota. I'm sure she would love the company. Bring flowers when you go - she loved holly-hocks.

jason said...

if your ass is achin' use ky. leave the gi bill alone. i didn't know people had to check with you before the enrolled in college.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, Billy Beck, but I'm right and you're wrong. All you have to do is check the track records in life of the guys who wemt through the program in the 1940s/1950s. There have been numerous surveys and studies about this through the years, and they consistently have shown a very high level of economic success far beyond previous norms.

By and large, ex-GIs who go to college do better in school and then do better in life. They begin with a greater level of maturity than those who didn't first go through the armed services.


Billy Beck said...

"i didn't know people had to check with you before the enrolled in college."

Check with me?

Hey; when they have it in mind to use my money on the project, I say, "Fuck 'em all," right out loud.

jason said...

Your money to defend your ass is okay though. Just don't let those people earn any benefits. Please go to Camp Pendleton or LeJeune (whichever is closer to you) and say, "Fuck 'em all," right out loud. Or better yet, Afghanistan or Iraq.

David said...

There were two GIs in most of my college classes back in the late 70's. Those guys set the curve in every class they were in.

We asked them one day why they seemed to handle college without near the effort or stress the rest of us were experiencing. One of them replied "I'm older and more mature thon most of you guys. Plus, frankly comparing my homework load to crawling around on my belly in rice patties while people are shooting at me - school is easy."

The other guy chimed in with "In addition to what he said, I'm married with two small kids, my wife is working to support the family while I get my degree. If I bring home anything but A's the woman I love will castrate me in my sleep."

The both graduated early, and had the best starting salary job offers in our class.

Both of my nephews are going to college now on the GI bill. An opportunity they would not have had otherwise. They are both doing very well, even though they didn't do so well in high school. It is amazing what a few years and a little maturity will do for a guy. They both will say they same thing. "Compared to Iraq, college is easy."

Personally as a taxpayer, I have no trouble what so ever having my tax dollars spent to pay for college for guys who volunteered to defend my country, my freedom and my family. I'd rather you take all the tax dollars that are currently being spent on social services and education for illegials and use it to increase the GI bill spending.

Anonymous said...

Beck's not talking about the social impact of GI bill now (though he is complaining about funding it). The GI Bill, when it was implemented, was a god damned communist plot, did put thousands into universities who belonged in trade schools (although it did fine in trade schools--except for some great jokes some Greatest Gen. vets may tell you at the VFW), changed the content and meaning of a university education forever, and set up a generation of absolutely pliant left-wing professors. Who were veterans.

It also financed a lot of fuck-ups in subsidized "artistic" careers.

Beck is not wrong about this. I fully support educational benefits offered as a signing bonus now. But it would be hard to overestimate the sweeping, well-nigh Stalinist change that came over higher education then. The program really was used a a tool to uproot society, and it really did work.

Meanwhile, it's Beloit College frosh week here again, since none of us currently posting actually were in college then, and so, well, it just didn't happen, because that would mean we read about it or actually had social conversation with someone older, and we are so not into that.