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Obscured American: Robert the Chef
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Empty Friendly Lounge just before noon, Philadelphia, 2016

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It’s not right. I came into the Friendly Lounge at 11:45AM, parked my bony ass there for three hours, and saw nobody. In the 90’s, I heard an exasperated crack whore kvetch, “Don’t nobody want a blow job no more!” It’s gotten much worse. In 2016, it’s, “Can’t nobody afford a beer no more?”

Tony the cook, whom I featured a month ago, has lost his job. Of course, Tony said he did nothing wrong, only that his boss suspected him of stealing money when he worked as the parking lot attendant, Tony’s easiest duty. I’d spot him sitting in that box like a bored sentry, smoking in the half dark. There were other issues, for Tony was the only employee to get no Christmas bonus last year. Between booze, pot, $9 packs of cigarettes and up to a hundred bucks for lottery tickets on paydays, Tony has zero savings, so this flailing 55-year-old has been borrowing from several of his Friendly Lounge buddies. Don, the owner, has also allowed Tony to run up a tab, and often doesn’t even charge him for his first bottle or two. Don is not all about profits. Once he kicked 30 women out when they staggered in obnoxiously loud. They were barhopping, apparently. Since the Friendly doesn’t see 30 lovelies in a month, the crusty, mostly impotent regulars were quite pissed at Don.

Since Tony and his sister haven’t paid their gas bills in months, his apartment was already freezing before he got canned, and working under the table for years, Tony can’t collect unemployment. Brain cells pickled, fogged up and half frozen, Tony thought he might get a job at Sugar House, but since that casino gets more than a thousand applications a day, Vern (the Vietnam vet) and I dissuaded Tony from even thinking about it. It takes at least six weeks just to get a generic rejection email from that scamming outfit. We told Tony he should go back to BucksCounty and house paint, since he knows a contractor up that way. The dude would even help Tony move.

The poorer you are, the more desperate you are for that one life-changing break. In his 20’s, Tony went to Las Vegas to play poker with his last $200. Staying in a $30 motel, he managed to be worth $2,000 within a week, only to lose it all, of course, such that he had to call his dad for a bus ticket home.

We don’t help Tony just so he can eat, but also drink among friends, for a grimly-appointed yet bad joke, good anecdote, laughter and obscenity-filled bar is about the only place a poor, irreligious man can go to feel he belongs. It’s not the booze, bougie, but the fermented blatherings. Such a spiritual and intellectual need should never be denied. Lick her is just a pretext, amiga. Joe Blows wouldn’t go to operas, symphonies or plays even if they were free.

There’s a Vietnamese guy, Jack, who only shows up maybe three times a month. Jack works in a box factory. Even with lame English, Jack tries to banter, and though no one can understand what the hell he’s talking about, everyone grins just to encourage and comfort Jack. Buzzed by his third Bud, this scrawny and clearly gay man would start to purr a ragged medley in Vietnamese. Lost in ballads, Jack often looked like he’s about to drip hot tears onto his J.C. Penney tie, but it’s probably just Anheuser-Busch, the piss, that’s making his eyes red.

Tennessee Williams writes of “the chansons de geste which American tongues throw away so casually in bars and hotel bedrooms.” Each American barfly, then, is an instant jongleur with a vast repertoire of miscues, mishaps and a few timely breaks. Invigorated by cider, beer, rum and wine, a bunch of Philly blowhards could even dash off the Constitution. George Bush is a teetotaler. Seriously, though most of us would be perfectly content with a bit of liquid bread after eight hours of honest sweating, such a low bar is becoming out of reach, for the nation’s ceiling is caving in, its floor cracking and its foundation gone.

“You’re lucky to have an out, man,” I said to Tony.

“Take the sure thing,” Vern added.

“You wait around, it may disappear. Someone may take your job next week, or your buddy may change his mind if he thinks you’re not really interested.”

They’re real close. Years ago, Tony sold the guy a pretty good car for cheap, only to see it totaled within a week. “It flipped then landed upside down in a cemetery. When my friend opened his eyes and saw a grave stone, he thought he was dead!”

Though Tony doesn’t want to leave the kitchen, he will have to. Having worked as both cook and housepainter, I much prefer the latter. Though as exhausting, it’s much less detail-oriented, thus less stressful. It’s also more solitary, with no man hounding another. At the end of the day, though, you’re just as dazed and ready for a few mugs.

With almost no manufacturing jobs available, Joe Sixpack must jostle to find work in construction or food service. Recently, I met a young chef in Friendly who seems to have his act together. Thirty-two, Robert just bought his first house, something I’ve never been able to accomplish, and I’m 52. OK, let’s hear from this easy going, big bearded dude:



I left home at 19, and have only been back once, for six months. I worked at Wegmans in Syracuse, Rochester, then Northern Virginia. I went from eight bucks an hour to 16. When my sister got sick, I moved back home to help out. I didn’t help very much, but I was around. My mom was a mess, you know. My parents are divorced. I wanted to be around them. I didn’t want to be six hours away.

I’ve been across the country. I’ve been to Memphis. I hung out in Portland. I lived in Chicago. The train to Portland, Oregon was a phenomenal experience. I loved it. It’s such a beautiful country. So gorgeous.

I lived in Syracuse for the majority of my whole life. Eighteen years. I’ve been to Toronto a bunch of times. It’s a phenomenal city. It’s so clean. I’ve been to Ottawa. That’s all right. My grandmother is from Quebec. I’d like to go to Montreal.

I like the East Coast culture. I like the attitude. It’s rough and tumble. I like the anxiety of it. It’s like, “Hey, can I bum a buck?” Get the hell out of here, whatever. You know, when you walk down the street and somebody bothers you? It’s fast pace. It’s like, “Hey, buddy! Hey, buddy!”

My girlfriend applied for a job in Seattle. She won’t get it. She likes the West Coast. She wants everything to be nice. She loves to be super calm. I love the hustle and bustle of the East Coast. If she gets the job, I’ll go over there, hands down. We’ll make it work.

I had no idea that Portland is the go-go bar capital of America. In New York, you can only show the top or the bottom. If you go to a go-go bar in Philadelphia, if you go to Show and Tell, you get both, you get everything there, but in New York, you can only see either the top or the bottom. What do you want to see? You have to choose between pussy and titties. If you want to see both pussy and titties, you have to go to two different bars. It is ridiculous. You don’t get a full show. It’s the state law.

I’d rather vote for Sanders, obviously, but if he doesn’t get the nomination, I’ll vote for Hillary. No problem. Anybody but Trump. I’ve never voted Republican. I voted for Ralph Nader.

I want it to be the United States. I want everybody to be on the same page. I don’t want these backwoods country bumpkins saying, “I can’t wait until we build a wall, to block out the Mexicans, from coming into our country.” I don’t want to hear any of that shit.

For Donald Trump to want to build a wall and not allow anyone to come into the country, it just blows my mind. Immigrants work so hard. They’re not lazy people, they’re not slackers, they’re not awful people, they’re not on meth. You know how many slackers and methheads I’ve worked with in the kitchen? It’s ridiculous!

In my business as a chef, I’ve met so many people who just want to provide for their families. I know two people from Argentina who send money to their families all the time. Argentina is a beautiful country, from what I’ve heard, but it’s not as easy to make money there. They’re here legally. One guy has brought his family over, so now his wife and kids are here.

We only have three or four immigrants in our kitchen at this point. There were two guys from Mexico. They were phenomenal workers. In the last year, we’ve only had maybe ten immigrants. It’s a brew pub on the Main Line. There aren’t too many immigrants out there.

We make mostly Mexican food, but the two Mexican guys were just dishwashers. They left because they found better jobs.

Anyone who comes to this country from another country, they’re not just like, whatever. They’re not just doing it. They’re not just like, “Here I am! It’s going to be great!”

Every minority I’ve ever worked with, that has come to the United States, has been a phenomenal worker. At Wegmans, Whole Foods and those places, they’re phenomenal workers.

My girlfriend works for the water department. She’s an environmental scientist. She wants to make this city a little better.

She makes around 40 grand. She has college student loan that she’s still paying off. She will probably be paying it off for the next 30 years.

I made 45 thousand at Whole Foods, but I quit because it was very stressful. I hated it, so I moved to the restaurant business. I make 29 now. It’s OK. I’m doing something that makes me happy. I’d rather make less money but be happier.

I’m not in the worst place in my life. I’m not in the best place in my life. I’d love to make more money!

We just bought a house, for 200,000, in Lower Kensington. It’s an up-and-coming neighborhood. The place next to us just sold for 240.

I lived in South Philly for ten, eleven years. We paid nothing for a house. My landlord was a white, Jewish man from the Northeast, and he was like, “Are you kidding me? You want to move into this neighborhood?” And we were like, “Yeah, of course. Why not?” It wasn’t a bad neighborhood. It was a good mix, of everybody. Whites, blacks, Cambodians, Mexicans, everybody was there. The whole neighborhood was very solid.

I don’t really have a stance on marriage. I’m OK married. I’m OK living it out, like we’re doing right now. My girlfriend would probably want to get married. She has actually been married before. It was a very abusive relationship and only lasted a year. I don’t want to put on any pressure, but at the same time, we’ve been together for, like, almost five years. We’ve been living together for three.

She studied abroad a bunch of time. She was in Puerto Rico. I’ve never been on an airplane. I’m terrified of flying.

We’re doing our thing. We’re fine. Does she want to get married? Probably. Any day now. We’re fine.


We were going to have a kid, but we had a miscarriage, very recently, in the last couple months. I think my girlfriend is more into the sense of having a kid than I am. I don’t necessarily want to have a kid, but when I found out my girlfriend was pregnant, I thought, This is going to be great! I love this. It changed my whole mind. This kid is going to be everything to me. I loved the fact that my girlfriend was pregnant.

I was very against pregnancy, I didn’t want to have a kid, but when I found out we were going to have a kid, I was very excited about it. My girlfriend was very excited about it. Then we lost our kid. It got a little rough for a while. She wants to try again, but I’m not sure any more.

She’s a year older than me. She’s 33.

It was so unexpected, the pregnancy. You have to set your life towards, you know, I’m not going to be out drinking every day, I’m not going to be out smoking, I’ve got to come home from work, and it was going to be great!

I have a lot of friends struggling right now with healthcare. That’s a problem. It should be more affordable. When I quit Whole Foods and lost my healthcare, I thought, OK, now I can apply for Obamacare, but they wanted to charge me 300, 400 bucks a month! I couldn’t afford that! I ended up paying the penalty.

My mom was a legal secretary. My dad had his own company. He took care of your lighting needs. He would walk into your business and say, OK, you need so many light bulbs, and he would put up a bid. He was basically a salesman.

My mom has gotten kind of crazy. She’s a hypochondriac. She has a lot of back problems. I’m sure she lies about the majority of them. She won’t talk to me or my sister any more. She has a huge grudge because she thinks we’re all siding with my father. I talk to my dad nearly every day.

When my sister got married 12 years ago at the court house, my mom didn’t make it. She said she couldn’t get off work. My dad made, my stepmom made, everybody made, but my mom couldn’t make it.

My mom got pissed because I didn’t call her one Christmas, but I had a bad flu and was in the hospital.

She’s out of her fuckin’ mind. It’s very depressing, actually. It was just me and my sister, and I was the last child to listen to, you know, her bullshit. She actually just sent me a care package a couple of days ago, to my new house. She was like, What is your new address? I gave it to her and, Hey, take a look at my new dogs! She grew up with beagles, you know, and I have two beagles. She never sent anything back, but it’s all right, whatever. I opened the care package when I was drunk. It’s something you should only find when your mom dies, and you go into her house and see that book, that picture book with This is how much you weighed when you were four, that kind of stuff. She sent that back to me. I was wasted. It was very emotional. Your mom is not supposed to send you that. You should only find that when she dies. It should be like, Oh shit, I can’t believe she kept all of this stuff!

No, my mom’s not alone. She remarried, and so did my dad. I love my stepfather. My stepdad is one of the nicest people in the world. He got fucked over more than anybody I’ve ever met in my entire life. It’s his ex wife. She’s ruined his credit for thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars.

In ten years, I’d like to be doing the same thing, cooking, and being with my girlfriend. I don’t know about having a kid.

Linh Dinh is the author of two books of stories, five of poems, and a novel, Love Like Hate. He’s tracking our deteriorating socialscape through his frequently updated photo blog, Postcards from the End of America.

• Category: Culture/Society • Tags: Obscured American, Poverty 
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  1. Isn’t the fact that a bar is empty in the morning and the early afternoon a sign of a healthy neighborhood?

    • Replies: @Linh Dinh
  2. Linh Dinh says: • Website

    Hi anony-mouse,

    Friendly is an old man’s bar, and there are thousands of retired people in the neighborhood. There are also independent contractors and people working night shifts. Business at Friendly has thinned out considerably, even in the evening and on weekends. Wherever I travel across the country, I duck into bars, and bartenders all tell me people are drinking less, and even putting less money into the jukebox.


  3. Linh Dinh says: • Website

    A while back, I wrote about a bar in Kensington, a Philly neighborhood, “Jack’s still opens at 7 in the morning, but instead of workers coming off their night shifts, its earliest customers these days are hookers, pimps, drug dealers and junkies, people who’ve been up all night to get by in the worst ways. The factories are gone.”

  4. epebble says:

    Great story Linh! I recently started reading your stories and they are captivating. Robert sounds like a typical “low information” American that politicians talk about. He seems to worry that Trumps Great Wall will prevent all foreigners from coming; He probably doesn’t realize it is only against illegal Mexicans. Legally, they can all come. Also, illegals can always come by air or ship! (as nearly half of them do now).

    I wonder why he quit his Wholefoods well paying job for a person of such not so special skills. Did he not think healthcare is very precious in these times and he has to be more careful?

    His attitude about having a child also appears a bit shallow. A bit “whatever” attitude. And hardly any regard to getting married before having a child. This all seems to fit well with the “Fishtown” stereotype of Charles Murray.

    One thing he surprised me about is that thing about Portland. I know we are permissive in the girlie business; but didn’t know we are so unique!

    • Replies: @granesperanzablanco
  5. RolfDan says:

    For Dinh readers – an interesting podcast with a similar theme:

    The presenter is a bit annoying though.

  6. Rehmat says:

    “I’d rather vote for Sanders, obviously, but if he doesn’t get the nomination, I’ll vote for Hillary. No problem. Anybody but Trump. I’ve never voted Republican. I voted for Ralph Nader.”

    The guy seems to be a typical brainwashed American. Doesn’t have the brain to think which politician is good for the country.

    In the past, he voted for a ‘losing horse’ Ralph Nader. Now his choice is Bernie Sander, who is a ‘good Jew’ ploy for Hillary Clinton. Most probably, Sanders will withdraw in favor of Hillary and become her vice-presidential candidate.

    He is paranoid about Trump, who if wins GOP nomination – will never be allowed to enter the White House by the powerful 51 pro-Israel Jewish groups and the military establishment.

    Pity – Americans don’t have politicians like Paul Findley, Cynthia McKinney, Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul anymore to lead them. All the current sheep are afraid to stand-up to the powerful pro-Israel lobby groups. The secret code in US politics is: “If you want to get ahead; you don’t criticized Israel, you defend Israel.”

    • Replies: @RadicalCenter
  7. Immigration is a very large factor in working class displacement and anomie. Also, those hardworking Mexican dishwashers will be on disability by age 50.

  8. Does he lock his doors to his abode?

    What a shallow mind.

  9. Marcus says:

    Is there something about living in large cities that strips people of their pride and self-worth? I’ve lived in Southern towns or small cities my entire life and I don’t think I’ve met anyone as pitiable as your subjects.

    • Replies: @another fred
  10. BobX [AKA "Bob who~is bitter yet also invested"] says:

    “Robert just bought his first house, something I’ve never been able to accomplish, and I’m 52.”

    Lihn’s lack of investment in the world and the US more specifically as reflected by this statement and his apparent childlessness should be kept in mind when contemplating his world view. His sympathetic view of the lowly is interesting and sometimes insightful, but his end of America (AAM) shtick should be contemplated in light of his life choices. Not all choices deserve equal respect. Perhaps we need to rethink universal suffrage, is it wise to allow those who would make no investment in our posterity to make judgments about our future?

    G.K. Chesterton:
    Marriage is a duel to the death which no man of honour should decline.

    Winston Churchill:
    There is no finer investment for any community than putting milk into babies.


    Historical back to 1700:


    They get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations

  11. iffen says:

    iffen who is suspicious

    Perhaps we need to rethink universal suffrage,

    I am willing to bet that you have criteria for suffrage in mind and that you meet all requirements. (several times over)

    • Replies: @BobX
  12. Marcus says:

    Universal suffrage and female suffrage were both terrible ideas

    • Replies: @Stonehands
  13. @Rehmat

    As much as it pains me to say it, Rehmat, I agree with you this time 🙂

  14. @BobX

    People without children shouldn’t be allowed to vote.

  15. Speaking of “criteria for suffrage” I think that there is no IQ test for that in the USofA.
    I would say that maybe 10% to 25% of adults ( depending on their ethnicity) are in some way mentally challenged. These mentally challenged adults might have a difficult time understanding
    who and what they are voting for. But hey, this is America where everyone is equal.

  16. @epebble

    If you believe in a literal wall being built and Mexico paying for it you are the low information voter

    • Replies: @epebble
    , @iffen
  17. MJMD says:

    Just scrawled a few very, very rough estimates regarding Robert and his girlfriend’s financial state down on a notepad beside me, and it seems to me that if it wasn’t for her student loans they actually wouldn’t be that bad off, but that that extra debt will probably make their situation pretty unmanageable in reality.

    • Replies: @tsotha
  18. @RadicalCenter

    Nor should people with children who are relying on government handouts to subsidize their offspring and/or who are not raising their offspring in a stable, nurturant, and supportive family setting including both biological parents be allowed the franchise. (Exceptions for widowers, stable homosexual adoptive couples, etc.)

    • Replies: @animalogic
  19. witters says:

    This is the most dispiriting and self condemning set of comments I have yet seen. Congratulations.

  20. Nice article Linh. You have grown on me and you are my favorite writer on Unz.

    For a well traveled man, Robert should know that country bumpkins are the least of our problems.

  21. BobX [AKA "Bob who~would ease your suspicions"] says:

    @Jus’ Sayin’

    Iffen your suspicion is misplaced. It was a comment on Lihn Dihn specifically and more generally the current fetish of universal suffrage, not a detailed proposal. I can think of many ways a citizen could invest in our collective posterity short of “putting milk into babies” of their own.

    * Military Service
    * Real Property ownership with designated inheritance
    * Net worth above some $ limit with designated inheritance
    * Support of orphans or foster children
    * taxes paid in the previous year above some $ amount

    I can also think of other things that we might consider temporary or permanent disenfranchisement for.

    * Felony conviction
    * Claimed as a dependent on someone else’s taxes
    * Child born out of wedlock
    * Received welfare payments in previous year (Excluding Social security, Medicare, or benefits earned through military service)
    * people that claim conscientious objector status
    * A negative net worth

    These may have additional conditions that would allow one to reclaim the franchise.

    There is lots of room to work out the details and they need not be the same for State & Local elections. Being a warm body that can register & cast a vote is not my idea of what the bar should be.

    IQ as discussed by europeasant is much more problematic to set a rule for. My sister who has one of the sporadic genetic syndromes and consequentially an IQ of around 70 probably does not have the understanding to make an informed judgement. Many other people with the same IQ of 70 can. I would not be opposed to some small test at the start of the ballot. Wordsum as used in the GSS with minimum of 2 correct cutoff might be a good candidate (high correlation with adult IQ and brevity). It would have the advantage of eliminating those in cognitive decline. It might still not stop those Chicago Zombie voters.

    • Replies: @JackOH
    , @iffen
  22. JackOH says:

    Bob, interesting idea, or constellation of ideas. Do you think the idea of a less expansive, more limited franchise might be best promoted within the context of a push for a new constitutional convention?

    (I’ve mentioned before here that a new constitutional convention may be the best way of handling a lot of complaints commenters here have, because those complaints won’t be adequately addressed within single-issue advocacy or partisan wrangling.)

  23. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Lazy bums.

  24. epebble says:

    Not at all; I am quite sure Trump is just dog whistling to ride the white peoples angst to nomination. I was commenting on Robert’s ignorance about his worry that (even an imaginary) wall implies “no more Mexicans”.

  25. iffen says:

    definition: low information voter

    Someone who does not vote the way that I think they should.

  26. @Marcus

    I think it’s the sense of belonging to something greater that is lost. A sense of community. In a small town even those on the lowest rung are part of the community unless they have some serious socialization trouble. It’s hard to feel part of a modern large city now that neighborhoods are falling apart. With the high number of transients the problem is seeping into small towns.

    People no longer “live” somewhere, they “stay” there.

  27. tsotha says:

    Just scrawled a few very, very rough estimates regarding Robert and his girlfriend’s financial state down on a notepad beside me, and it seems to me that if it wasn’t for her student loans they actually wouldn’t be that bad off,

    Between them they’re over the US median household income. They’re what we used to call middle class, and since she has a government job they’ll probably be able to maintain a middle class lifestyle and even retire someday. Assuming they stay together.

    Guys like “Tony” have screwed themselves, though. You can bounce from shitty job to shitty job like that when you’re young, but it gets harder as you get older.

  28. @RadicalCenter

    People who don’t own land shouldn’t be allowed to vote.

  29. iffen says:

    aka Bob who would rule over me

    In the temporal sphere, iffen wills himself to be a free soul and only accepts the legitimacy of political authority based on equality, therefore, I must reject your political fraternity.

    • Replies: @Talha
    , @BobX
  30. Talha says:

    Lock it down iffen – you convict ghetto baby-daddy draft-dodging welfare queen.

    Seriously though, I do think a regularly administered civics test may be a laudable idea to determine whether a person, who plans on voting, understands the principles of a Republic, basic grasp of US History, etc.

    Too much to ask for maybe…

    God preserve you and yours.

    • Replies: @iffen
  31. iffen says:

    Lock it down iffen – you convict ghetto baby-daddy draft-dodging welfare queen.


    Evidently over my head.

    • Replies: @Talha
  32. Talha says:

    It was a joke my friend…I was just having fun with the causes of ‘permanent disenfranchisement’ Bob was listing and was simply stating that you were only perturbed because they would disqualify you because you were in multiple categories – but forgot to add ‘broke’.

    Much less effective if I have to explain it…and I was deliberately making it over the top so you wouldn’t take it seriously – forgive any unintended offense.

    • Replies: @iffen
    , @iffen
  33. BobX [AKA "Bob who~concurs"] says:

    I agree that you are not my equal and seek no fraternity with you political or otherwise in this or any spatio-temporal sphere. “Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.” Equality before God I will leave to the church, equality before the law we aspire to, beyond these there is none such. You may will yourself to be anything, and I would not constrain your right to. Your right to will it does not imply an obligation on the rest of us to honor & respect it though. Political legitimacy is based on the consent of the governed, not equality.

    • Replies: @iffen
    , @Talha
  34. iffen says:

    Political legitimacy is based on the consent of the governed

    This is what I said. If you want to disagree with me you are going to have go come up with something else.

    • Replies: @BobX
  35. iffen says:

    I was pretty sure that was your intent.

    The “lock it down” threw me off. I had to look to the Urban Dictionary to see that we are apparently on our way to being BFF.

    Sorry to have messed up your joke.

    Stop with the forgive any unintended offense. BFFs forgive and forget without prompting.

    And no, absolutely no “civics” test for the right to vote.

  36. Talha says:

    Dear Bob,

    I agree with some of what you are saying; not sure I am keen on complete universal suffrage, but neither am I sure about what is a correct restriction.

    I do have a couple of questions:

    “Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.”

    Is this a quote from somebody? It does seem to contradict the assumption that “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty…” In essence they were arguing, that your freedom is a God-given right, simply because you were born from a human womb – not a horse, dog, or any other species. Freedom is free (to those who hit the human species lottery jack-pot) and it is its restriction that needs to be validated or proved. You can go grab a wild horse and pen it up and train it and use it for labor – this is not immoral. It is immoral if you were to do so to a random man – why? Because God says you don’t have that right – this is self-evident.

    Political legitimacy is based on the consent of the governed

    However, your proposals would seek to govern those from whom you would remove the mechanism to consent…something needs to be done to square this circle.

    May God preserve you and yours.

    • Replies: @BobX
    , @iffen
  37. BobX [AKA "Bob who~thinks iffen confused"] says:

    Perhaps you need to go back and find what you said. Your statement was: “legitimacy of political authority based on equality”. A quick CTRL-F of the LD post and comments will show my use of “consent of the governed” to be the first instance here. If you think this the same as the part of my post you quoted it seems your confusion is proved. I have no desire to agree or disagree on anything with you.

    • Replies: @iffen
  38. BobX [AKA "Bob who~thanks you for the question"] says:

    Yes it is a quote from Dr. Pournelle that he often uses as a sort of signature/divider in his Chaos Manor blog. He will soon be receiving the 2016 Robert A. Heinlein Memorial Award from the National Space Society at the 2016 International Space Development Conference.

    I think you go wrong when you confuse freedom with unalienable Rights. These men had no doubts that there was a price to pay for freedom. Look to the last sentence “we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.” For the price they were willing to pay. I agree with the sentiment that good government is a blessing from God. Here on the earth to maintain it is a duty of man and one that comes with a cost that has always had to be paid in blood & treasure.

    The 15th amendment of the constitution gives ‘The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude”. Race, color, and previous condition of servitude are fairly specific things and I do not find them in any of the items I listed for discussion. Of course, we do apply restrictions other than those that are proscribed. Also please remember that my main point was not this, but rather how one should keep in mind LD’s investment in the world and the US specifically when reading his posts.

    • Replies: @Talha
    , @Talha
  39. @Marcus

    Eureka! Someone gets it… and that’s why the “country” is doomed.

  40. iffen says:

    What we have here is a failure to communicate. Since Talha is watching and I made a commitment to be civil in my comments, I will.

  41. iffen says:

    However, your proposals would seek to govern those from whom you would remove the mechanism to consent…something needs to be done to square this circle.

    I prefer universal suffrage and voting.

    Some want to take us back to where we denied our consent by throwing ourselves against the sabres and bayonets of their hired Cossacks.

    We can do both.

  42. iffen says:

    I forgot to say welcome back.

    I have some concerns.

    Rurik seems to be in a slump.

    I seem to be able to more easily read Joe Webb’s comments and many of the things that he says give me a lot to think about. And that worries me.

    • Replies: @Talha
  43. Talha says:

    Dear iffen,

    Thanks, but I am probably going to call it quits for a bit after this particular thread and the one I have going on Mr. Giraldi’s article, but enjoying the time so far, enough that I might be back in a few months or so. I might poke in a comment here or there though. I think I just have to work on pacing myself better – that is just a personal fault – I can get very ‘plugged into’ something at the cost of other things.

    sabres and bayonets of their hired Cossacks

    LOL! That one was good…yeah, I see what you are saying; universal suffrage was hard fought for by different groups, methinks they won’t relinquish it easily. It’s not a perfect system, but which one is, right?

    I see some people talking about the detriment of women’s suffrage, maybe, but good luck getting that horse back in the barn. I give us men collectively about 3 months before we beg them to take it back and end the refusal of ‘services’ ala ‘Lysistrata’.

    Rurik’s sparring it out with Sam – and it looks like a war of attrition to me.

    I actually had some very good exchanges with Joe Webb a while back. I don’t agree much with his take on things – I come from a spiritual background that grants human beings volition, he’s a materialist and it seems free will is just an illusion projected onto us by our genetic wiring that is really pulling the strings. With that in mind, dialog only goes so far, but it just started getting vitriolic and personal at some point, so I had to bow out. Hope you fare better. I may not agree with his viewpoint, but reading his posts (when they are not derogatory) allows me to get into his shoes, which is beneficial. So hey, read and ponder away.

    Always a pleasure.

    May God preserve you and yours.

  44. Talha says:

    Dear Bob,

    Most welcome for the question and thank you for the civil exchange – a rarity these days on the Intranet.

    T thin I got it; the difference make sense. Liberty is one thing. Freedom is the state or environment established in which to practice the aforementioned. OK, no doubt, some will try to take it away, so one needs to be vigilant about its preservation. The Swiss found this out very early on. Many aboriginal and nomadic people also found this out to their detriment as their freedoms were proscribed further and further by better equipped sedentary people.

    True, we do apply certain restrictions, but – as I mentioned to iffen – people struggled for those rights, they won’t let them go away without a fight. You’ll have to literally ask them to voluntarily give them up, since I doubt they’ll vote against their own interests. Again, I may agree with you in a sort of principled sense (but maybe not be as restrictive as you would), but it is very difficult to see this changed on a practical level. For instance, a person who gets into a bind and has negative net worth would not be able to ward off any attempts by people with positive worth to draft laws that perpetuate the status quo and make it harder for him to climb out – just an example.

    but rather how one should keep in mind LD’s investment in the world and the US

    I do enjoy Mr. Dinh’s articles, but that is a keen point to make. None of us can escape the subjectivity of our beliefs nor our context.

    I honestly don’t know what the solution is, but thanks for talking this out with me nonetheless.

    May God preserve you and your progeny with honor.

  45. Talha says:

    And I do agree with you and Mr. Pournelle regrading: “Equal men are not free.”

    When that ‘equality’ is enforced; the nightmare of which is brilliantly imagined in Vonnegut’s ‘Harrison Bergeron’.

  46. @BobX

    “Not all choices deserve equal respect.” Yes, that’s true, but first you need to determine what actually WAS a choice…unless, you have the wonderful (self) convenience of believing that ALL outcomes are the result of an individual’s will.

    “Perhaps we need to rethink universal suffrage, is it wise to allow those who would make no investment in our posterity to make judgments about our future?”
    That’s just priceless: there you have a (probably) innocent call for Oligarchy and the extinction of democracy. An “investment in our posterity” ? Just try to think about that in a pragmatic, common sense way… what the hell could it actually MEAN ? Bollocks.

  47. @Jus' Sayin'...

    OK, I can accept your view, if you can accept the fact that you are anti-democratic to the point of being crypto-fascist.
    So-called “morality” is not a great basis for social function….although it’s great for arbitrary dictatorship (Calvin’s Switzerland comes to mind as a model for “moral dictatorship”).

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