Egged Off

An unfortunately perennial story that always gets traction here on the Right goes something like this:  precocious youngsters, hoping to engage in some earnest enterprise, start selling lemonade or the like from a roadside stand.  The kids are doing well and making good money (for kids), until an overzealous local health board official sends in the cops to bust up the lemonade stand.  Like Treasury Department revenuers smashing up a yokel’s still, these local officials destroy children’s dreams—and sometimes slap them with a fine.

It’s a story that guarantees outrage, and highlights the clueless, stringent rule-following of bureaucracies.  Yes, yes—technically you’re not supposed to sell lemonade and hot dogs without some kind of license, and the health department is supposed make sure your establishment is clean.  But these are kids, selling stuff on the side of the road.  Why bother?  Let them have fun and make a little money.

The latest such story involves two young ladies selling eggs in their town in Texas.  The Lone Star State has been reeling since the major winter storm hit a month or so back, and food supplies have been disrupted.  Having some backyard eggs for sale surely helped out some locals.

Unbeknownst to the girls—but beknownst to some overweening Karen, no doubt—a local ordinance prohibits the selling of eggs, though it permits the raising of chickens on one’s property.  That’s asinine.  Why can’t people sell eggs in a small town in Texas?

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TBT: Cass on Our Diminished Income

The other day my students and I were talking about the Model T Ford, which in the 1920s ran around $6000 in today’s money for a new car.  It is impossible to find a brand-new vehicle of any make for $6000 today.  Granted, a Ford Focus, for example, is packed with way more technology and safety features than a Model T from 100 years ago, and that technological advancement gets factored into the price.

But consider that in the 1990s, when Kia hit the American market, they advertised a new sedan for around $6999 (in 1990s’ dollars).  What would that be twenty-five years late—maybe $9000 or $10,000?  That price point, too, is virtually impossible.

I managed to purchase my current vehicle—a 2017 Nissan Versa Note SV—for right around $9100.  It has around 45,000 miles on it when I bought it, and had been a rental vehicle before I purchased it.  I got a steal on that car—the closest comparable I’ve found since then was a list price of around $8900 (the list for my car was $8000 even).  That’s for a four-year old subcompact hatchback.

I got lucky when I found that car.  I figured it would be easy enough to find a decent car for under $10,000 when I began vehicle shopping in late 2019.  Boy, was I wrong.  Vehicles last longer than ever before, and maintain their value a very long time.  They’re also, as mentioned, packed full of technology and safety features that weren’t present even twenty years ago.  Trucks in particular hold their value extremely well; to find a truck in my price range, I’d have had to purchase a Ford F-150 from 1994 with half-a-million miles on it.

It’s great that cars last longer and are safer.  But those features—many of which drivers will never need or use—drive up the costs substantially.  Such was the point of an illuminating Twitter thread by Oren Cass, which demonstrates that, despite earning more money, Americans’ expenses for basic goods are substantially higher, requiring a whopping fifty-three weeks of pay to cover now versus a mere thirty weeks in 1985.  Naturally, given that there are only fifty-two weeks in a year, that presents a problem.

I don’t know the solution, but as I wrote a year ago, “Something’s gotta give.”

Indeed.  Here is 28 April 2020’s “Cass on Our Diminished Income“:

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The King of One’s Castle

Over the weekend photog posted a nice little post on his blog, Orion’s Cold Fire, with the title “The Western View,” a clever bit of double entendre:  it’s about both the view of the western end of his property, and the Western view of republicanism—independent self-government.

It’s appropriate that photog used his home as the centerpiece—the “hook,” as he put it—for a short essay on the nature of liberty and republicanism.  At the most basic level, one’s home—one’s land, property, and the people that reside there—is one’s guarantee of liberty.  That scrap of land and the house upon it is one’s castle, and every man is the king of his little estate.

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Fast Food Premium

There’s been a lot of discussion of UBI—Universal Basic Income—over the last few years, especially with the presidential primary run of Andrew Yang.  The concept is seductive in its simplicity:  gut the welfare state and its behemoth apparatus of bureaucratic pencil pushers and middlemen, and just cut every adult citizen a monthly check.

For fiscal conservatives, it’s a particularly toothsome Devil’s Bargain:  streamline an inefficient and wasteful bureaucracy and simply direct deposit a grand every month into Americans’ checking accounts.  Of course, it’s a siren song:  we’d just get the payments and still suffer with an entrenched bureaucracy, claiming $1000 a month isn’t enough to meet the specialized needs of whatever community they pretend to support.

Even if the deal were struck and every redundant welfare program were eliminated, there UBI would still be a bad idea.  Besides the absurdity of merely paying people to exist, it’s inherently inflationary:  if you give everyone $1000 a month, prices are going to go up.  Just as college tuition has soared because universities realized they could jack up the price and federal loans would expand to cover the costs, UBI would cause a similar rise in prices.  Sure, it’d be great at first, but the inflationary effects would kick in quickly.

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Monday Morning Movie Review: Aniara (2018)

What happens when a luxury transport ship on a routine voyage to Mars is thrown off course, set adrift on an endless voyage across the cosmos?  That’s the premise behind 2018’s Aniara, based on the 1956 Swedish epic poem of the same name.

The answer, ultimately, is quite bleak.  Aniara fits fully into the nihilistic ennui that Scandinavians—materially prosperous but spiritually adrift—relish so stoically.  Seriously, the Swedes seemed obsessed with existential crises and a sense of meaningless in life.  At its best, that gives us the likes of Danish Christian existentialist philosopher Søren Kierkegaard; at its worst, it creates the kind of mindless pleasure-seeking the passengers of the film’s title ship indulge in here.

For all the film’s depressing messaging about the futility of life (to be fair, being trapped on an endless voyage in space, eating only algae to survive, would be a fairly depressing and psychologically destructive experience), it’s a fascinating look into how a society might develop, survive, and perish in the depths of outer space.

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Lazy Sunday CX: Inspector Gerard Reviews

The One-Minute Mysteries of Inspector Gerard has been out for a little over a month now, and so far, book sales have met my expectations (at the time of this writing, that’s ten Kindle editions and nineteen paperback copies).  Naturally, I’d love to see that hit fifty copies.

It’s been a fun experience, especially promoting the book (two of the stories from the book were published yesterday at Terror House Magazine).  One fun aspect has been sending PDF manuscripts (and author copies!) to blogger buddies to review.  Here’s a round-up of the published reviews so far:

Happy Sunday!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

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SubscribeStar Saturday: Concert Postmortem

Today’s post is a SubscribeStar Saturday exclusive.  To read the full post, subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for $1 a month or more.  For a full rundown of everything your subscription gets, click here.

My poor health recovered, I tested negative for The Virus, and the Spring Concert was a smashing success.  I managed to get back to work Wednesday, giving me time to build—for the first time since the 2019 Christmas Concert—my Frankenstein’s Monster sound system, rehearse my students, and wire up a ton of microphones, amps, keyboards, and the like.

After every big concert, I spend part of a class period conducting a “concert postmortem,” my pet term for reviewing the highs and lows of the previous night.  It’s a good opportunity to discuss elements that could be improved for the next concert, but also to allow the students to bask in the glory of their performance a little longer.

Not surprisingly, this process tends to work better with high school students, who have developed politeness filters and know how to phrase suggestions diplomatically.  They’re also veterans, so they understand better the realities of live performance, and don’t have unrealistic expectations.  Middle school students tend to either be over-awed by the experience (one student Thursday evening exclaimed, “That was awesome!”) or very critical of small errors.  That’s why we frame these discussions as “constructive criticism,” which helps the students understand the purpose is to build each other up and point out areas where we can all improve.

Regardless, I’m letting readers in on that process a bit with a general “concert postmortem,” including our finalized set list.

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Flashback Friday: Opening Night

The concert was last night and, presumably, it went well.  I’m actually writing this post two days before the concert, so you’ll have to wait until Saturday for a full rundown.

Due to my illness earlier in the week and the hectic nature of the Fine Arts Festival, I’m throwing back to another old post this Friday.  Our High School Drama students will give their performance of their own adaptation of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.  The Drama teacher asked me to play the part of Leonato, but once I fell ill, I did something I rarely do—I backed out.  Fortunately, he is a massive Shakespeare buff, so I think he is covering the part… I hope!

Anyway, it seemed like a good time to look back to opening night of my own brief theatrical career, playing “Brett” in Catching Icarus, a two-act play a former student wrote.  The details are below in the original post, but I will add that it was extremely challenging—and rewarding.  It’s also something I have little desire to do again, as the amount of mental and emotional energy acting demands is too much.

With that, here is January 2020’s “Opening Night“:

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TBT: Gig Day III: Spooktacular

Tonight is the Spring Concert at my little private school, an event that The Virus denied us in 2020, and which my illness earlier this week seemed to threaten.  Indeed, it’s the first true concert the students have given since the ignominious Christmas Concert 2019, which veterans of my class have dubbed “Corporate Christmas” for reasons I cannot elaborate upon here.

In the spirit of live music, I thought I’d look back this week at a post about the first Spooktacular, before the epic front porch Spooktacular II.  This inaugural Spooktacular was back during The Before Times, in The Long, Long Ago, when coffee shops still would let me gyrate behind a keyboard for tips on Halloween.

The show ended up being a huge success, and inspired the at-home, front-porch sequel in October 2020.  I’m currently planning a springtime front porch concert for Friday, 28 May 2021, but I’ve gotsta get through tonight first.

With that, here is 2019’s “Gig Day III: Spooktacular“:

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