OK, I am “retired”, and I “depend” on past accumulated wealth, much earned but some inherited, to keep these blogs going because they don’t pay for themselves. They don’t require much money (or Piketty-style capital) to run in the grand scheme of things, but they depend on stable infrastructure, security, and stable economic and personal circumstances for me.
Yes, stability. And judging from the “outside world” events of recent weeks, it doesn’t sound like something I can count on as much as I have.
For most of my adult working life, I was very much in command of the possibility for my own mistakes to undo me and possibly end my stable I.T. career (as with bad elevations into production).
But early in my life I was forced to be much more aware of eternal demands by the community I was brought in. Gender conformity had to do with that. Then came the military draft and Vietnam. There was an expectation of eventually having a family even if running a gauntlet that could expose me to some personal fair share of community hazards. This had much more to do with my own “mental health” problems in the age 19-21 range than I probably realized (including a brush with nihilism in 1964).
It is true, of course, that my employment could be affected by outside business events like mergers and takeovers, but in my case these actually worked out in my favor. And earlier in my work life I was concerned about staying near a large city (New York) where it would be easier for me to “come out”; the energy crisis was actually a threat to my mobility, as was potentially NYC’s “drop dead” financial meltdown when I was (finally) living there.
So it is, in retirement. If you have accumulated wealth, you want the world to be stable so you don’t have to watch your back, and face sudden expropriation because of political deterioration (maybe combined with a natural catastrophe). You want to believe if you pay your bills, make good choices, and play by the “rules” you will be OK. And you find people knocking for attention your life, and you have to deal with the knowledge that they didn’t have the situational stability that “you” did.
It’s possible to find one’s life suddenly becomes a political bargaining chip. For example, Congress could try to means-test Social Security recipients (even current one) as part of its debt (and debt ceiling) issue.
I have to say I do have a gut reaction from “extremists”, whether associated with Communism (North Korea) or radical Islam, who make threats that sound personal, as if they saw someone like me as a personal enemy. I do understand the racial contact, that some people will take statements (hate speech) made on the alt-right that way, also. But combativeness has become a problem that I had not anticipated throughout most of my working life.
It is true, also, that the most extreme scenarios from foreign enemies could reduce me personally to nothing. The conservative Weekly Standard, after 9/11, liked to use the term, being “brought low” because of the resentment of others. In the North Korean threat, there are many nuances. The right wing talks about EMP, and the major media refuses to mention it. It could become a real threat, but my own probing of the utility world suggests it is making some progress in making transformers less vulnerable (to “E3” threats, also posed by extreme solar storms). (The power companies won’t say exactly what they are doing, for good security reasons.) Personal electronics, cars, and data can face threats from a different mechanism (“E1”) which actually might be easier for an enemy (including retaliation by the DPRK) to pull off. This is a developing topic that the major media just doesn’t want to cover yet (outside of cyberwar, which is better known, as with the psychological warfare implications of the Sony hack).
I have to say, too, that for one’s life to come to an end out of political expropriation or violence is particularly ugly. I was privileged enough to avoid Vietnam combat, and I was “safe” enough not to get HIV, which previously could have been the most dangerous threats I faced. I was economically stable for my entire work career, which sometime after 9/11. I did have some family cushion.
The basic reaction from most people is to “belong” to something bigger than the self. I think all this relates to “the afterlife” and I won’t get into that further right here. In retirement, I’ve had to deal with constant reminders of how narrow my capacity for personal intimacy can be, even if it can be intense in the right circumstances. Yes, now I have to throw the “psychological defenses” (Rosenfels) to maintain my personal independence and stop being dragged into the causes as others. Solidarity alone seems rather alien to me, even if I can’t count on affording that kind of attitude forever.
Again, as to the “belonging” idea, throughout history, individuals have suffered because of the actions of their leadership. In Biblical times, it was considered morally appropriate that all members of a tribe be punished together for “disobedience” (to “Jehovah”). In modern times, it’s the “everybody gets detention for the sins of one in middle school” problem,
I want to reemphasize my intention so see all my own media initiatives through. That includes getting a novel out in early 2018, trying to market a screenplay, getting some of my music (written over 50 years, some of it embedded in two big sonatas) performed. The best chance to make some of this pay for itself would be to get some (perhaps conservative) news outlets interested in some of my blog content, especially in undercovered areas (power grid security, filial responsibility laws, downstream liability protections in online speech scenarios including copyright, defamation, and implicit content (which can include criminal misuse like trafficking). The intention is to help solve problems in non-partisan manners away from the bundled demands common with “identity politics”.
I tend not to respond to demands for mass “solidarity” with so many other causes, and I usually am not willing to “pimp” someone else’s causes as my own. But I realize I could be riding on partially unearned privilege, which can become dangerous. Indeed, having inherited wealth subsumes a responsibility to address needs as they arise; to ignore them would be tantamount to stealing. I tend to think that helping others is easier if you are in a relationship or have had kids (that became an issue when I was working as a substitute teacher). I think there can be situations where one has to be prepared to accept others as dependents and “play family” (and this often happens in estate and inheritance situations anyway, although it did not specifically in my own situation). We saw this idea in films like “Raising Helen” and in the TV series “Summerland”.
I’ll mention that it looks like I’m selling the estate house and moving out in October. That would remove the hosting opportunities for now; but, after downsizing, it could make other volunteering much easier and even open up the possibility of volunteer travel (although I need to stay “connected” at all times when traveling as it is now).
I have to add that taking on dependents grates against complacency. It means more willingness to sell other people’s messages rather than on sticking to your own. Our culture has developed a certain split personality: resistance to sales people or middlemen and to being contacted by cold calls (the robocall and cold call problem), yet an expectation of voluntary personal generosity and inclusivity online.
The sudden announcement of the intended termination of DACA is a good example of how instability affects those less fortunate. Although I really believe Congress will fix it in the required six months, today “dreamers” would have to deal with employers or schools who are uncertain as to what their legal status might be in less than a year.
(Posted: Tuesday, September 5, 2017, at 7 PM EDT)