Doug Smith: Some advice to progressives and the younger generations

Updated 12 weeks ago Special to HuntingtonNews.Net

by Doug Smith

As a Conservative, I adhere to the principle that nothing is free: TANSTAAFL (There aint no such thing as a free lunch). But I am aware that everybody loves a bargain, and lots of people want free stuff. Having stated my principle regarding “free stuff” in advance by way of fair warning, here is some “free advice and wisdom. Do with it as you will. May it serve you better than your degree in Pre-Columbian-Art from Columbia and your $ 150,000 student loan debt.

1. You are not always right. Neither are you always wrong. No one gets it right every time, nor do they get it wrong every time. Will Rogers perhaps said it best: “There was never a horse that couldn’t be rode, and never a rider that couldn’t be throwed.” A mature, adult human will make peace with these facts and learn a truth from them. Check your assumptions.

2. Know why you believe what you believe. Be able to defend your articles of faith. Apologetics, from the Greek Apologia, means to make a defense. Arguing your beliefs based on “Mom said so” stops working when you are about 10. Basing it on, “Well you’re mean and ugly and your Mommy dresses you funny” stops at about 5. Challenge your beliefs. If they are true, if they are valid, when you question them, when you question the reasons that you believe them, you will finally come to rock solid evidence of a few basic things you can unshakable believe. This practice will serve you well. If you can challenge and then defend your own beliefs, you need never fear when they are challenged by others. If you cannot, then you may have built a system of belief with no solid foundation. Truth is not the same as opinion. If someone tells you the truth, be it an author, boss, professor, preacher and you challenge it, dig back to its roots and discover why it is true, it will still be true. This is what we used to call “Education.”

3. People will disagree with you. That is ok. Hearing ideas you don’t know or believe will hardly kill you, or even hurt you. It may stretch your mind. But (See 1, and 2, above) people who disagree with you are not always wrong, and they are not always right. Know why you believe what you believe and disagree. Debate your position. You may learn something. They may learn something. The moment you refuse to hear any position or opinion other than your own it the moment when you stop learning. Ignorance is curable. Stupidity is not. Bullheadedness is very resistant to treatment. If you try to be protected from hearing speech with which you disagree, you lose the chance to apply principles 1 and 2 and challenge not only yourself, but the one with whom you disagree, to defend their position. If you disagree, and they are wrong, 2 will prove it. If they are right, or a little bit right, 1 will help you learn.

4. There ARE NO safe spaces. That is an absurd concept. As a growing child, you wanted to get away from Mom and Dad, who wanted to keep you in a safe space, so you could live a more dangerous life. We try to keep children safe enough not to die, but they will climb trees, fall out of them, break bones, skin knees, and live a dangerous life. Life IS dangerous. It WILL eventually kill you. But you are going to have to

experience things that might hurt you and learn to survive them, ideas you don’t like and learn to deal with them, or debate them, or reject them, relationships that are challenging, all the parts of being a functional adult. I don’t like snakes. So, I could have stayed in a bubble where I was never around one, protected by my parents. Except: my mother is dead. My Father is 82. I am old enough for Social Security. And there are snakes in the world. I learned to deal with snakes. Don’t reach under a wood pile without lifting it from a distance. Watch where you step in the woods. I did not sit in a safe space from the age of 8 till now to avoid snakes. I learned to deal with a danger in the world in which I lived. So, when it comes to snakes, I am a safe Person, not a person who lives in a safe space. I am also a dangerous person. I ll blow that snake in half and not blink an eye. But I won’t kick a dog or a kid. Be an adult. Be safe when safety is called for, dangerous when danger is called for. Safe spaces? No one lives there. You live in the world. Grow up. Deal with it.

5. I don’t give a fig about your self-esteem. Neither does anyone else, despite what they told you in schools. I don’t want you to feel good about yourself just for existing. If you are my child, I love you because of who you are, and you are unique and important to me. But to feel good about yourself, DO something. You all have someone who loves you and to whom you are important. I ran track in Jr High School. I sucked. I was not built to be a runner. I got no trophies for participating. My self-esteem was not tied to that. I was a fair musician, and a decent writer, and a great sailor. I feel good about those things. I esteem myself for those accomplishments. You want to feel good about yourself? DO SOMETHING. Get a job. Pay your bills, feel good about doing what you can with your abilities. If you have high self-esteem and do nothing, you are going to portray a self-importance that will irritate people. DO something.

6. Let us explore a bit the concept of TANSTAAFL. There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch. Bars used to advertise “Free Lunch.” It was, of course, a lie. Yes, you could come in and drink their beer, and eat a sandwich they had thoughtfully provided. And in doing so, pay more for your beer than you would in a place with no “free” lunch. Guess who bought your lunch? You did. TANSTAAFL. Some hotel chains provide a (bad) “free” breakfast. Can you figure it out? For the feeble breakfast, or in fairness, sometimes a good breakfast, you are paying more for the room than you would otherwise, or than you would in another hotel down the road. Because? There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch. Painted across a broader canvass, when your employer provides you with “free” healthcare and gym memberships, they are doing so by paying you less than they would otherwise. And when government offers free stuff, like healthcare, housing, food, needles, education, the list goes on and on endlessly, the principle still applies. And even more so, because government has no money. That bears repeating. Government has no money. How can that be you say, since they have a trillion-dollar budget? Government, has no money, so the money they spend, or promise to spend, must come from somewhere else. Anyone? Bueller? If you have a job, like I do, look at your pay stub. See how much you grossed? See how much was taken out before you got to touch it? And that, children, is how the government gives free stuff. Not free, because somebody had to

work and produce the money to buy that sumptuous lunch. There really is no such thing as a free lunch. Everything has a cost.

7. The way to get more is to become worth more. Don’t expect to get more for what you do just by continuing to breathe. If you are worth minimum wage when you are hired, (often a questionable premise) you will become worth more if you learn to do more, if you show you are reliable to show up, if you become better at your job, if you learn to do more and other jobs. Sorry to shake up what you have undoubtedly heard from politicians and other people who don’t have to pay you, but you are not entitled to a certain wage. If you can’t afford what you want to make what you make, buckle down, work harder, learn more, don’t make obligations you can’t afford (spouse, children, car payment, 1000-dollar cell phone), and improve your lot. No one owes you a good living. No one owes you a Living, period. The compact under which we live is life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. So, you get to live, and are free to earn your living as you see fit. You are not entitled to eat my food.

8. Most people don’t care that you can quote French poetry or determine which period in Chinese history produced a vase, of if you have read Das Capital, the Little Red Book, or Upton Sinclair. They care if you smell bad. Take a shower. They care if you keep your word. Don’t make promises you cannot or will not keep. They care if you pay your bills. Pay what you owe. Earn what you expect to receive and expect to receive what you earn. Giving, or receiving charity is a choice. Forced generosity, however grand sounding we make it, is simply theft. Be a good neighbor, whether on a tree lined street, in a tall building, or in a barracks. Be kind, speak gently, be ready to help when you can. It is far easier to deal with the results of living this way.

9. Despite the social chic that has tried to show otherwise, it is a good thing to love your country and your people, and to defend them. Patriotism is not reflected by despising and finding constant fault with your country. It is in defending and supporting it. If you are an American, you live in a nation that is wealthier, freer, and more desirable than any nation in the history of the world. She has grown and become steadily better, correcting inequities, and learning from failures, in a way few others have done. If you focus on the 10% that needs improvement, you miss the 90% that is laudable. Note that for all the bluster of the wealthy chic every 4 years, few leave this country. None who lack the resources to live in luxury, insulated from the realities of other countries do so. Many, on the contrary, desperately seek to come here. Reflect on those truths. And find a sense of gratitude. You will find that the vast majority of people who have worked to build the country, who have fought and sacrificed to keep it secure, or who have buried those who did, will honor that sense of gratitude far better than the child throwing a tantrum because his cake is not big enough.

10. Equality means the game is the same and the rules are the same for everyone. It does not mean we will all get the same. There is no shame in the guy who pushes a broom down the halls of a hospital, but I expect that the Surgeon who says good morning to him will make more money. A lot more. If you expect otherwise, then hand the scalpel to the janitor and have him remove your appendix. There is no equality of outcome, because people are created equal, and there the similarities

cease. We could mandate that Thom Edison will make exactly the same as the push broom operator. But the push broom operator will give us clean floors. Thom gave us light bulbs, recording equipment, movie cameras, electricity in our homes, microphones, fluoroscopic X Ray systems, well, I could go on. I’m ok that Edison made more than the guy who swept out his lab. If we are all to have equal outcomes, then they must, necessarily, be those of the least capable among us. Paying the guy on the broom a million bucks won’t make him produce a light bulb, paying Edison 10 bucks pretty much ensures that he won’t, either.

These are a few truths based on life and observation of the human condition. Life exists in places other than student centers on campuses and coffee shops. Those of us who live out here in the world learn these things by trial and error, often more error. But learn them we do. Come, join us in the adult world. It is not the rainbows and unicorns you may be expecting, but it is not such a bad world. We mange. Grow up and join us.

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