Dear Reality,

wp-1455336989176.jpegBy QMC, USN (Ret)

Living is easy with eyes closed
Misunderstanding all you see

                            The Beatles

I saw this meme on Facebook a while back, shared or liked by one of my liberal friends (yes, believe it or don’t, I have a few of those. I don’t think that they know that I’m the guy that writes this drivel). I looked at some of the comments, and, as I would have suspected, most of the commenters thought that this was the most logical piece of common sense that they had seen in weeks. And, as you might have suspected, I thought that it was the stupidest thing that I had seen in that time period. While I am normally willing to let a lot of stupidity go unanswered, this was so blatant, and more importantly, so easy (I’m actually almost as lazy as those of our youth who are busily occupied occupying somewhere, whilst waiting for their free stuff), that I figured I’d give it a shot.

In full disclosure, I feel a little bit guilty about responding to this, seeing as how it was addressed to Republicans, and I am not, and never have been, a member of that party. But since I’m sure that those people are too busy conspiring with the Democrats in order to find new and better ways to screw over the American populace, I’ll do them this one small favor.

Dear Reality, (If that’s your real name, which it obviously isn’t. You didn’t give your address, but I suspect that it’s at the corner of Rainbow Way & Unicorn Lane, in the heart of downtown La-La Land.)

Those of us who are in possession of some functional brain cells realize that giving our youth a college education or healthcare is not the same as giving them a flat-screen TV or an X-Box. But, Reality, we also realize that all of those things have something in common: none of them exist except for the results of somebody’s labor.

Simple Fact of Life: In a free society, people own their labor.

That education, healthcare, TV, or X-box were all created by somebody. And in all likelihood, that somebody would just love for you to have what he created. That is, as long as you have something to trade for it. You see, as talented as he must be to have created those things, he doesn’t have the skills, or the time, to do everything for himself. He, like you and me, needs someone else to create the goods and services that he cannot fashion for himself. And to get those things, he is willing to trade his creation. That is the basis of all economic activity. When all parties agree to the terms of the trade, it’s called freedom. It’s called honor. But if somebody who has nothing to trade takes his creation, it’s called slavery. It’s called theft.

But, you say, education and healthcare are tools, with which they can shape America into something better, so we all gain. Well, a monkey wrench is a tool, and unless you live way out in the woods, or are a member of some bizarre species that doesn’t ever need a toilet (maybe I’m on to something here, since you’re so full of s**t), we all gain from the work of plumbers. And we all gain from the work of mechanics, carpenters, truckers, dentists, writers, and a host of other professions, all of which use tools of some sort to practice their trade. Are you suggesting that we, the taxpayers, should give everyone that wants to try a job whatever they need to do it? With our national debt and budget deficit gumming up the gears of our economy the way that they are, I doubt that it’s a good idea to throw that monkey wrench into the works.

Or, Reality, does it make more sense to ask that somebody who wants to get into a profession to go to work for an employer that will provide the necessary tools, and, if he discovers that he has a knack for that work, and wants to start his own business, to save and/or borrow what he needs to do it? Fully aware, of course, that sooner or later, he has to pay back his freely accepted debt. But, you say, a college education is not the same as a contractor’s license. Sure, not exactly, but remember, most college students, even the ones that spend more time in the library studying than they do in the quad protesting or the dorm partying, lack the real world experience to be sure of what they want to do with their lives.

Which brings us to the real crux of our problem. A young person who is not worried about the cost will miss out on the most important lesson that college has to offer. Discipline. The discipline that comes from the fear of failure. If you’re not concerned about the cost of your healthcare, aren’t you more likely to live an unhealthy life-style and take stupid chances than you would be if you knew that doing so could cost you dearly? And if you know that you will have to make your college degree pay for itself, won’t you give more thought to what you will want to study, what tool that you are buying? A young carpenter won’t by every hammer in the hardware store, or even the first on that he sees. Since he knows that he will have to make his tool pay for itself, he will carefully consider which one will best serve his needs, which one he can most effectively work with.

Yes, Reality, for a disciplined person, a degree can be a useful tool, one that will pay for itself many times over. But if the discipline is not there, it can be a huge waste of time and money. Now that’s just fine, if it’s his money. It’s already his time, not mine. But, Reality, are you okay with it if it’s your money that he’s wasting? I’m not okay if it’s mine. Seriously, how useful a tool is a degree in 19th century lesbian poetry? Or, for that matter, 20th century straight male poetry? Our undisciplined young idealist may be able to whip out his tool and impress a couple of people hanging out in the coffee-house, but the chances of making it pay for itself are infinitesimally small. So how do we all gain from that? If we’re the ones that are paying for it, then we all lose.

                             And you read your Emily Dickinson,
                             And I my Robert Frost,
                             And we note our place with bookmarkers
                             That measure what we’ve lost.

                                                          Paul Simon

                                          Signed, QMC, USN (Ret), Proud resident of Planet Earth

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