I have lived a life of great fortune. Starting with picking a great set of parents, being born white, and American, I just kept getting lucky as opportunity spread itself before me like a red carpet. I would have had to be a real loser to fail.
Up until I was in my 40s I thought it was my hard work, but eventually reality began to sink in. Basically, John Scalzi is right: if you’re born white, male, and American, you’ve got the “god code” to current civilization and you’ve got a leg up in every situation. [scalzi]
The other day, I had a chance to sit down and contemplate some other great easy victories I have won, recently.
First off, I “won” the pandemic. 500,000 casualties in the US alone (largely due to government incompetence) which is comparable to the US’ losses in WW2 – (also largely due to government incompetence) – I got both of the vaccine shots (Pfizer) and now my body is cheerfully developing armies of antibodies to protect me. The way the shot works is pretty fancy and clever, but the main thing is that scientists worldwide were able to mobilize rapidly and put a miracle into production. Again, in the face of government incompetence. Many people have been unlucky, especially those who have chosen to be ruled by republicans or who are unfortunates who find themselves in the custody of republicans, and they have suffered terribly. The dead are the beginning of it; like with WW2 there is a mass of casualties suffering long-term damage. They are survivors but their lives have been shortened, they are financially devastated, and some of them are not as smart as they were a year and a half ago. One of my old information security friends got the corona and wound up with cardiac damage requiring open heart surgery and now he has 2 artificial heart valves (another modern miracle!). His prognosis is OK but his life will be shorter and he’ll need years to recover, if he gets those years. I haven’t asked him if he’s still a republican.
Secondly, I “won” the war on drugs. That one was a huge surprise for me.
I remember in the 70s when they had protest “smoke ins” at the Johns Hopkins University annual fair, and sometimes the police would come bust a few people, and ruin their lives. I remember being told as a kid that “drugs will kill you or ruin your life” – not realizing that it was a lie: cops will kill you, and the establishment will ruin your life – drugs can kill you. I lost friends to cancer from cigarette smoke, and alcohol. I’m not aware of any friends who died from smoking too much weed unless it was from eating too much weed-induced pizza. My whole life was mostly against the background of an insanely expensive “war on drugs” being fought across US society, Since 1971, the war on drugs has cost around $1 trillion. Adjusted for today’s dollars, that’s 1/4 of what the US spent on WW2. WW1 was a mere $200bn – cheap compared to the war on drugs.
And the other day, for $150, I won the war on drugs. All of those years of tormenting the citizens and throwing money down a hole, and I was able to fill out a few web forms, pay $150, and get a medical MJ card. I don’t even like MJ but I felt like I had to do it. I was mind-boggled 2 weeks later when I walked into a dispensary and walked out, a few $20 lighter, with a small container of the dankest, stankest skunk-bud I’ve ever smelled. All that money spent to keep people from smoking MJ, and when I walked out of the dispensary I felt like I was pulling the toilet-lever and flushing the war on drugs.
Of course I know that the war on drugs was not anything to actually help the citizens of the country – it was a political maneuver by white supremacists to create a way of putting black people into the criminal justice system and taking their vote away. [business insider] That our government pulled such a shitty maneuver on us, and then lost that stupid “war” begs for a Marshall Plan in which the government’s fangs are pulled, the nazis are purged, the constitution re-written, and the country is put back on a moral plane – like the US did to the Japanese and Germans (did you know that the Japanese constitution was written by General Douglas MacArthur, an incompetent deranged christian fascist, racist, and war criminal?) So I felt morally obligated to kick the government while it’s down. They’re going to keep fighting that ‘battle’ to the bitter end, until the whole thing finally collapses in the face of tax revenues. Just like happened with alcohol: the war on alcohol in the 1920s did nothing but create a crime wave, open opportunities for new criminal enterprises, and huge tax windfalls when it was all over. That’s what “winning” the war on alcohol was like, and the war on drugs is going to end the same way. I won’t be buying much legal weed – I’ll keep some in my house for guests – but as soon as I can, I’ll grow my own. Because, “fuck you” that’s why.
Polite society suggests that I should adopt a humble pose, instead of gloating. But I can’t. I’ll be over here counting my blessings.*
“Wait, what? WW2 wasn’t goverment incompetence!” – yes, it was. The non-deranged non-fascist governments of the world failed to see and respond effectively to Germany’s take-over by psychopaths. Under post-enlightenment political theory: protecting the people from nazis is the government’s job, which is why I say that governments were incompetent. If you study the events in which Hitler bluffed the takeover of Austria, Czechoslovakia, and Poland, it ought to have been obvious that he was a dangerous gambler who could not be trusted – instead of uniting to stop him, the non-deranged governments of the world allowed themselves to be bluffed, and the world burned.
(* 2 of the biggest: I accidentally stumbled into programming computers in 1975 or so and learned to code as I was learning to write in English. That’s blessing #1. The second was my mother who said, “well, if you’re going to spend that much time typing on computers let me teach you some touch-typing” Thanks, mom! I could type 80wpm in 8th grade.) (I still have an IBM Selectric in my closet of dead IT, for the memories)
Reginald Selkirk says
I have only a few friends who are Republican, or have sympathy with the old school “fiscally responsible” lie. I have been telling them for years that the Republican Party has gone insane. I got a “both sides” email from a friend on January 4, 2021. After January 6, all those arguments became moot.
By forking over a few hundred in fees and taxes?
Marcus Ranum says
By forking over a few hundred in fees and taxes?
By mooting all of their hard “work”
I won’t be throwing fees and taxes at them; I don’t consume much but eventually I may explore growing my own just for the hell of it, so I can share it about. They have already extracted a bunch of tax money from me for the war on drugs, without my ability to resist.
I suppose that at this point I should confess that I am the person who dumped his guest’s MJ seeds in the flower boxes outside the Clearfield County municipal building. But I’ll deny that and say “I was being hyperbolic” if anyone ever tries to bring that one home to roost. [I had a dinner guest who picked a bunch of seeds out of some weed before smoking it and I felt like they should not be aborted and right to life and all that…]
I had a few remaining friends who are republican or republican-adjacent, but I shed a half-dozen in 2016 and have not regretted it for a millisecond. In fact, it took Trump winning for me to realize that they were assholes and I simply had not examined their politics as I had a responsibility to do.
the old school “fiscally responsible” lie
The whole reason I started posting about the F-35 is as a subliminal way of pointing out how “fiscally responsible” republicans have been. It’s probably too subtle.
Im not sure how it works in Penn, but in Oregon your MMJ card means you dont have to pay the taxes. My primary care doctor signs for my card and it costs me 20 bucks to the state for the card for one year. It used to be much more to the state (200 bucks a year then they gave the veterans a break). Ive been breaking the drug laws for 53 years now. I dumped anyone who voted for trump in 2016 and never looked back. It turned out I had a lot of friends who were closet republicans, now not so much.
@#1 Reginald Im am happy to pay these fees to the state if it means I get cannabis without mold or chemicals from growing. Its safe and effective and keeps me from having to use opiate pain pills that do nothing for the pain, they just get you so stupid high you dont care that you still hurt. It also keeps people out of jail, I got no beef with either of those.
Eh, two out of three ain’t bad. Nobody can be lucky ALL the time. ;-)
Numenaster, whose eyes are up here says
Ranger, I’m in Oregon too and once the state legalized recreational weed we dropped the medical card (it required an annual doctor’s visit to get your paperwork signed, and that was a nuisance).
And congrats to all me fellow scofflaws for all these years of bucking the system. We won. Now if we can just get The Boyfriend’s record expunged for felonies that aren’t crimes any longer, we’ll be golden. My friend the attorney tells me the paperwork is simple enough that she just points clients to it and they handle it without her assistance.
I’m going to be so pissed off if we finally legalise weed now that I’ve quit…
@#5 Numenaster Actually, it only requires a doctors signature on a form that the state provides. I just drop mine off filled out except for the doctors signature and they call me when its signed and I go pick it up. Yeah, I have to drive to his office, but thats on the way to my rockhounding spots so its not even out of the way. That saves me probably ten bucks off each eighth, and combined with my veterans discount (10%), Im getting a pretty good deal. I hope your SO gets his record expunged without too much ‘due process’.
WMDKitty -- Survivor says
I love living in WA. We’re legal, here, and it’s so nice to just be able to pull up the dispensary’s online ordering system (no pressure), and then roll myself down to pick it up (no waiting on weed-man, who was supposed to be here twenty minutes ago). On top of that, the people are so darn friendly!
But I’ve been using, medically, since my mid-20’s, long before legalization. I don’t miss dodging pigs, and trying to find wheelchair-accessible places to toke.
Dunc @ 6: you can always start again. As for WW2 govt. incompetence, I think cowardice was also involved. Nobody wants war, but think of how many lives would have been saved if the Europeans and the U.S. had put up a united front against Hitler and Tojo in 1935. The worst thing is that each generation seems to need to re-learn this the hard way.
Just remember, you haven’t “won” the pandemic yet. Your odds of getting the worst outcome just dropped from about 3% to 0.15%.
It ain’t over yet. Stay home everyone, for just a little bit longer.
“I am the person who dumped his guest’s MJ seeds in the flower boxes…”
Just before leaving my hometown for what I thought would be forever, in 1970, my friend and I sowed pot seeds in every one of the flower boxes along the main business street, during a gentle spring rain. I never knew how that worked out. Hope some of the local garden club ladies, who maintained the flowers, got a thrill…
Marcus Ranum says
Just before leaving my hometown for what I thought would be forever, in 1970, my friend and I sowed pot seeds in every one of the flower boxes along the main business street, during a gentle spring rain
I always wondered if we could have won the war on drugs simply by planting weed everywhere. I think the NORML folks were pushing for that in the 70s.
I’ve been using weed legally for about 10 years, but it’s totally legal up here now, so it isn’t special anymore.
My mother forced me to take touch typing in grade 9. I wasn’t happy about it, but it’s sure served me well. (you were right Mom. Thanks)
@ 4 sonofrojblake
On touch typing — when I was in Junior High and High School back in the 70s, the assumption was that I and my male peers would not need to know how to type, because of course we would have secretaries. I went ahead and learned how to type anyway.
Then personal computers changed everything in the 80s and 90s, and most of the secretaries went away. I recall during my times as a summer temp in Northern Virginia during those decades that there would be high-powered executives and military personnel laborious hunting and pecking on their keyboards.