First Greg Swann; with a post quotable in its entirety. There will be more on this next week.
We walk our dogs late at night at Rio Vista Park in suburban Phoenix. I love to go past the skate park, because the boys are such amazingly hard workers — toiling away at ten at night, and some of them will have been there for twelve hours.
The culture at large has nothing but contempt for exclusively-male pursuits, with skateboarding standing in as the cypher for the whole. But the boys who work at things like skateboarding or softball or skeet shooting or homebrew electronics or ceaseless home-improvement, these guys are amazing in their skill and dedication, their willingness to keep working and working and working until they get it just right.
No one notices their efforts, no one admires their perseverance, no one cares. But if you want to know where all the good men have gone, look for them in places where being a good man is honored and revered, instead of always being denounced or ridiculed.
The position of modern American women puts me in mind of prideful retailer standing under a huge sign that reads “The Customer Is Always Wrong!” Emotionally satisfying, perhaps, but clearly bad for business. Where are all the good men? They’re off doing things they’re appreciated for with people wise enough to appreciate them for what they are.
Burt Folsom, who kinda specializes in surprising you with actual history—such as how truly great and revolutionary the “Robber Barons” really were; like, if you actually know the, like, actual history & shit (but who bothers with that?): What is the Difference Between a Tornado and a Fire?
What are the two major differences between these two natural disasters: the Oklahoma tornado of 2013 and the Michigan fire of 1881?
The first difference is that, bad as the tornado in Oklahoma this week was, the Michigan fire of 1881 was more devastating. Raging flames swept through eastern Michigan, killing almost 200 people and destroying over one million acres of timberland and much property in four counties.
A second difference is seen in the prevailing attitudes toward private charity and the role of government. True, in the Oklahoma tornado we have seen heroic work by teachers, citizens, and local church members. Those groups have saved lives and mitigated damage. Oklahomans tend to be resilient and self-reliant. But more emphasis in the media has been focused on high-profile politicians, who are promising to give other people’s tax dollars to victims of the tornado.
At the time of the Michigan fire, Americans looked inward to themselves, not outward to the federal government to assist victims. They became the most generous people on earth, partly because they knew government had nothing to give except what it taxed away in the first place, and partly because they saw it as a personal responsibility to help their fellow citizens in need.
In fact, the Michigan fire of 1881 became one of the catalysts for starting the American Red Cross. Clara Barton led the way in promoting relief for Michigan fire victims from her home town of Dansville, New York. According to locals there, Clara Barton “rallied us to our work,” which meant sending food, clothing, and other gifts to Michiganders who were victims of the fire. Railroads provided the shipping. New Yorkers left jobs and homes to rush to Michigan and help the people there rebuild.
No presidential summit on voluntarism was needed because the volunteers simply showed up. And they did so in San Francisco 25 years later when that city was ravaged by a huge earthquake.
Robin Lampson, who lived through the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, has described how the not-so-prosperous people nearby all pitched in to help the earthquake recovery. “So it was,” Lampson said, “that farmers and their wives, even from the most distant farms in that section of the valley, brought in their contributions—more sacks of potatoes and dried fruits, plus hundreds of quarts of canned fruits and vegetables. Dressed and roasted chickens were hauled in by the dozens. . . . This went on for many days.” The San Francisco area recovered rapidly.
Our nation’s Founders limited government because they wanted people to help people in time of need. Giving one-on-one establishes habits of trust and friendship that create a blessing for the giver as well as for the receiver. Writing government checks does not do that, and, given the corruption and incompetence of many government officials, the Founders believed money would likely be wasted if Washington was given the task of providing relief.
The heroes of the 1881 Michigan fire were thousands of private citizens, whose names rarely made headlines and whose selfless devotion has since been forgotten. Likewise, the heroes of the Oklahoma tornado today are those who are helping with their own resources, not the politicians who come to distribute other people’s money.
Finally, I have thankfully never felt mistaken in my firm belief that CNN’s Wolf Blitzer is anything but a stupid doofus with a cool name.
That is all.