SubscribeStar Saturday: The Second-Hand Economy

Today’s post is a SubscribeStar Saturday exclusive.  To read the full post, subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for $1 a month or more.

A neighborhood friend of mine and I have worked out an arrangement regarding my fig tree and grapevines:  I provide the fruit, he provides the jelly (before he gets angry, let me clarify that he actually makes preserves, and they’re delicious).  It’s a pretty good deal for me:  he and his son come by and pick figs (and grapes, soon), converting them into delicious preserves, which I enjoy after the fact.  All I do is keep the plants alive and give him access to my property.

Earlier this week, he and I spoke for a bit after he and his son partook in some morning fig harvesting (God is Good—it’s been a bumper crop this year, and the figs haven’t gone entirely to the birds and the beetles).  We talked about the figs and the muscadine grapes that will be ready for harvesting soon.  In doing so, he pointed out all of the possibilities in our neighborhood for similar collaborations:  those with some resource or item (in my case, figs and grapes), and those with the time and inclination to put them to use (in this case, my neighbor making preserves from them).

In years past, I’ve shamefully let my figs go unharvested, letting the brown birds and beetles strip the tree of its fruit before I could get to it.  One year I managed to get maybe a half-pound of figs from the tree, but my own negligence, coupled with a busy schedule (not to mention South Carolina’s intense summertime heat) has dissuaded me from picking the luscious fruit.  Even having gotten the fruit, I’m often at a loss as to what to do with it, other than pop full figs into my mouth.

Thus, the magic of this arrangement:  my neighbor has the time and the knowledge to put my resources to use; I simply have the resources.  He gets a good portion of preserves, and I get to enjoy some jars, too (and they’re really good preserves).

Regardless, in discussing the beauty of our arrangement of the possibility of other such collaborations around the neighborhood, we also discussed how much stuff—not just fruits and vegetables, but just sheer, material stuff—is just sitting around, unused, waiting to be put to some higher purpose—if only someone with the know-how, time, and ability could come along and put it to use.

The possibilities exist for an entire second-hand or recycled economy.  How often have you driven past someone’s home—usually way out in the country somewhere—to find their yard or a half-open shed full of goodies untouched by human hands (even if touched quite extensively by the ravages of time)?  But that junk—one man’s junk is a another’s goodies, I suppose—is actual, usable stuff—it can be put to good use.

In an age of hyperinflation, the expansion of a second-hand or cast-off or recycled economy takes on a whole new level of attractiveness.

Today’s post is a SubscribeStar Saturday exclusive.  To read the full post, subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for $1 a month or more.

TBT^2: Leftism in a Nutshell

When I first wrote about the “degrowth movement” three years ago, it seemed like another kooky Leftist spin to cover for an economy that would inevitably decline under a Democratic president.  When I revisited that post last summer, it was after five months of Biden the Usurper’s economic misery and malaise, and after a year of shutdowns thanks to The Virus.

In other words, we’d tried involuntary degrowth, and it’s made us poorer.

A year on, the economy has gotten even worse.  We’re all quite aware that gas prices are through the roof.  Food prices have skyrocketed as well.  One reason I’m dieting this summer (besides the fact that I need to return to my lean, pantheric form) and skipping breakfast is because it saves a few bucks (and because I need my massive spaghetti ration to last a lot longer—I can down a pound of spaghetti with shocking rapidity).  Groceries are too expensive for binge eating.

The most recent print issue of Backwoods Home Magazine (Issue #189, July/August/September 2022) features a cover story entitled “The Return of Victory Gardens.”  That piece discusses not just the high prices of groceries, but the scarcity of items on shelves.

For years, I’ve boasted about how cheap food is.  Just a few years ago, you could pick up a loaf of bread from Dollar General for eighty-eight cents.  Granted, it wasn’t good bread, but it got the job done.  Eggs were cheap.  Butter was maybe a dollar for four sticks.  Pretty much everything you could need was easily affordable, even if it wouldn’t make for the most exciting meals.

Now, none of those items are particularly cheap.  The lowest price for a loaf of crummy (and crumbly) white bread I can find locally is around $1.49 a loaf.  I have a hook-up for eggs, so I’m covered there.  But my egg supplier tells me that I should start canning butter, because the price of that is about to go way up.

And forget about eating meat.  It looks like the grand dream of the globohomo super elites—that we’ll all be eating cricket burgers, safely isolated and subdued in our living pods—is getting closer and closer to reality.

It became a BoomerCon cliché to point to Venezuela as an example of what happens when socialism runs amok.  But the BoomerCons were right.  Unless we want to be eating pet rabbits and zoo animals, we’d better do something to shore up our food stores and increase our independence from the supply chains stat.

With that, here’s “TBT: Leftism in a Nutshell“:

Read More »

TBT: Egged Off

Shortly over a year ago I wrote a piece about officious bureaucrats shutting down two little girls selling chicken eggs in Texas.  The girls were trying to help people out and make a few bucks after the crazy ice storm massively disrupted Texan supply lines.

Since then, I’ve obtained a source to bring farm fresh eggs to my home on an as-needed basis; it’s one of many small blessings for which I am thankful.  With food prices even higher than they were a year ago, free eggs is a huge boon.

I ended this post with the admonishment “The time to start growing and raising our own food is now.”  But even yours portly has largely ignored his own advice.

Let’s work on changing that in 2022.

With that, here is 30 April 2021’s “Egged Off“:

Read More »

Retro Tuesday: Christmas Break Begins!

Yesterday marked the true “beginning of my glorious, two-week Christmas break.”  It’s been a busy break so far, with a very productive Town Council work session last night, and a meeting with our new Mayor-Elect this morning.  I’m also meeting with a parent later in the day to sign some paperwork for a program for her daughter.

That’s a breakneck pace compared to past Christmas breaks, but it’s nothing too daunting.  I’m looking forward to some time with my parents, brothers, sister-in-laws, niece, and nephews soon, not to mention other family members.

It’s a lazy time of year for the blog, too:  not much is happening in the news, and everyone is settling in for a long winter’s nap.  I will have a guest contribution from 39 Pontiac Dreamer tomorrow—a review of a video game series—and some other goodies after Christmas.  Otherwise, look for a lot of re-runs from yours portly this week.

That said, the topic of this post from last Christmas Break—the need for some time off at Christmas for everyone, not just those of us in the cushy education racket—is still relevant.  Granted, some workers have decided to take the entire year off, it seems, enjoying generous federal unemployment and other kickbacks from The Age of The Virus, rather than return to their honest, albeit grueling, jobs.  Maybe let’s shoot for something a bit more balanced, yeah?

Still, work, while ennobling and healthy, can easily become overtaxing and detrimental.  There are diminishing returns, too:  after too many hours and too much effort, both mental and physical, we all start to get sloppy.  Some folks are built with the drive and energy to go nonstop, but I suspect most of us appreciate having a little downtime here and there.

With that, here is 21 December 2021’s “Christmas Break Begins!“:

Read More »

Flashback Friday^2: Brack Friday Bunduru: Workers Need a Break

It’s Black Friday today, so everyone is rushing out to get whatever picked over sales items they can.  In the spirit of Black Friday, I’d be remiss if I didn’t hawk my bookThe One-Minute Mysteries of Inspector Gerard, and my music.  Inspector Gerard is the perfect White Elephant gag gift, and at $10 for the paperback, it fits perfectly into the price point for most such novelty gift exchanges.  I’ve also got some weird merch for sale.

I first wrote “Brack Friday Bunduru: Workers Need a Break“ back in 2019, at a point when I was feeling immense amounts of burnout at work.  I stand by my original assessment—that companies shouldn’t gobble up Thanksgiving Day to offer increasingly early doorbuster sales so their workers can enjoy some time with their families—though now I would probably add some more caveats.

I realized that I never really explained the name “Brack Friday Bunduru.”  I lifted it from an episode of South Park in which the kids heat up the console wars between the XBox and Playstation:

Ever since, I can’t help but say, “Brack Friday Bunduru” in an exaggerated Japanese accent ever Black Friday.

With that, here is 2020’s “Flashback Friday: Brack Friday Bunduru: Workers Need a Break”:

Read More »

TBT: Leftism in a Nutshell

In looking at the inflationary effects of so many people staying out of work on unemployment, I’d completely forgotten about this short post from 1 June 2019, “Leftism in a Nutshell.”  The post looks at the “degrowth movement,” a movement that sought “to intentionally shrink the economy to address climate change.”

Well, the degrowth movement—which I have not heard of since 2019—had the chance to try out their deranged economic experiment in 2020 during The Age of The Virus.  It turns out that fewer people working doesn’t mean “not as many brands at the grocery store”; it just means less of everything, and it’s all more expensive!

I’m not opposed to some personal minimalism.  Despite my love for miscellaneous bric-a-brac, I appreciate living beneath my means and cutting down on spending (I’m only a spendthrift at Universal Studios).  But re-reading the Vice article about the degrowth movement makes me think it’s just a flimsy intellectual excuse for laziness.

That is, after all, Leftism in a nutshell:  always the grasshopper, never the ant.

Here is 1 June 2019’s “Leftism in a Nutshell“:

Read More »

Disincentives to Work

A few weeks ago, I wrote a piece, “Fast Food Premium,” which argued that, as restaurants began offering higher wages and even signing bonuses to employees, those increased wages would get passed along to consumers, and would result in wider inflation (a big “thank you” to jonolan at Reflections from a Murky Pond for expanding upon the premise of my post with his own, excellent piece, “UBI —> UBM“).  My observations might be deemed “prophetic” if they weren’t so blindingly obvious:  higher input costs mean higher prices.  That’s basic economics.

Of course, the ongoing labor shortage is not due to a booming economy, per se, but due to excessively generous federal unemployment benefits, which have effectively increased the minimum wage for restaurant employees:  many such employees are paid more to stay at home, collecting unemployment, than they are to flip burgers, wait tables, etc.  Mogadishu Matt highlights this phenomenon in a reblog of a John Stossel piece:  the issue is not a labor shortage, but a problem of incentives.

Read More »

Lazy Sunday CXI: Bric-a-Brac II

In the spirit of yesterday’s Subscribe Star postBric-a-Brac,” it seemed like a good time to do another miscellaneous edition of Lazy Sunday.  Blogging daily means there are a plethora of miscellaneous posts that don’t necessarily fit into any major category, but as I noted in yesterday’s post, miscellany is the spice of life.

  • SimEarth” – I’ve been jonesing lately for four or five uninterrupted hours to sit down and play video games.  I’m a grown man with many responsibilities, but every now and then I want to spend an afternoon playing Civilization VI, conquering the world via cultural influence as France.  Las summer while recovering from a mystery illness I had the time to do some gaming, and dove back into the classic planet simulation SimEarth.  This post details my pitiful attempts at playing God.
  • Fast Food Premium” – This post, which is about UBI and the perils it presents, uses the fast food industry to illustrate the point.  Blogger buddy jonolan at Reflections from a Murky Pond generously reblogged it, providing his own, more in-depth commentary to supplement my brief sketch of the idea.  I highly recommend you check out his post.
  • SubscribeStar Saturday: Bric-a-Brac” (post on my SubscribeStar page) – The meat of this post is behind the paywall, so the preview just makes it sound like a self-indulgent essay on the toys on a windowsill in my kitchen.  My point is deeper, though:  little figurines, decorations, etc., aren’t merely pleasant trappings; they’re individual little touches that express our individuality, our creativity, and our liberty.  Little touches give life and warmth to our homes.

Well, that’s it!  Here’s hoping you enjoy this slightly-belated edition of Lazy Sunday.

Happy Sunday!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

Tip The Portly Politico:  Support quality commentary on politics, education, culture, and the arts with your one-time donation.

***NOTEThis link is NOT a subscription to my SubscribeStar Page; it is for a one-time donation/tip via PayPal. To subscribe to my SubscribeStar page, use this URL:   https://subscribestar.com/the-portly-politico***

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?

Read More »