Charlie's Blog: May 2015

5.30.2015

Hard Work


I have been young and now I am old,
Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken
Or his descendants begging bread.
PSALM 37:25 NASB

Life is not a meritocracy. The rewards of this world do not always go to the deserving. Life is not fair. The wheat and the tares grow side by side, and the wheat struggles against the tares until the separation and the fire. The ancients said that the gods would first make proud those who they aimed to destroy. I think God rewards those most genereously in this life who will suffer most severely in the next life. I don't agree with those who say that you can't take it with you. You can take it with you into Hell. The riches of this world become the chains of damnation like Marley's ghost in the Dickens tale weighted down for eternity by his filthy lucre. The injustices of this world are temporary, and no one gets away with anything.


If your viewpoint is confined to life under the sun, the facts of life can be very demoralizing. The wicked prosper. I have a friend of mine who likes to say that he believes in karma. Whatever you do in this life, you will pay for in this life. I always point out to him that he is wrong. When you consider that a scoundrel like Fidel Castro has outlived all his enemies, you have to shake your head and wonder where justice is in the world. Or contemplate the second and third generation rich who never lifted their hands a single time to the doing of real work. Or consider those who work in government living off of the taxes of hardworking Americans while producing absolutely nothing of value. They will retire to a guaranteed pension while the citizens they "served" get to eat Alpo. Like it or not, people do all sorts of bad things, and they get away with it in this world. This is life under the sun.


I tend to divide the world into two basic classes. There are those who work hard, and there are those who work hard at not working. The first class are honest, give value for the dollar, and have modest ambitions. The second class are dishonest schemers looking to get over on the first class. The first class of producers are absolutely vital since nothing would exist apart from their productive labor. When you consider that the food you eat, the car you drive, and the clothes you wear came from the labor of someone else, your life is utterly dependent on the hard work of other people. The second class of parasites provide little to no value whatsoever. These parasites will labor mightily to convince you that their "services" are vital, so they will point to their hours at the office as if that means something. They "earned" their ill gotten gains. I can allow these schemers their looted wealth, but I will not allow them to retain their self-delusion or good opinion of themselves.

When you consider the work that you do, you need to ask yourself these questions. What value do I create? How does this value serve the needs of others? And is my compensation fair relative to that contribution? Most blue collar jobs will have no trouble with these questions. But if you make your living as a financial services rat, a corporate middle manager, a government bureaucrat, or from other sorts of scheming, I can end the mystery for you. You are what is wrong with the world. The world does not need you. If the thought of doing real work horrifies you, you are a parasite. If your life is spent living off the work of others, you are a parasite. And if you spend a good part of your day denigrating the working class, you are a parasite.


I believe in hard work. This is because I believe in honesty. At this point, the cynic will scoff, and the parasite will sneer. Hard work is for suckers too stupid to get out of doing it. There is an element of truth in this mockery. I do not believe you will ever get rich doing hard work. I define rich as what an average Goldman Sachs trader pulls down each year to "manage capital." To give you an idea, one Goldman Sachs trader sued the firm for the "insult" of paying him a paltry $7 million instead of the promised $10 million he felt he had earned. There are people who have starved and put themselves through medical school who will never earn as much as that insult. The only suffering a Goldman Sachs trader endures is having to snort lines of cocaine in the restroom to cure his hangover before his shift on the trading desk where he gets to gamble all day with other people's money.

As I said, the world is not fair. But you should still do hard work and be honest. Why? Here are your alternatives. You can be lazy and try to make it on welfare and charity like the guy who gets a disability check because he can't handle the stress of working a job. Or, you can become a schemer and sacrifice your soul. Or, you can work hard, keep your self-respect and your soul, and make an honest living. The reason people become embittered is because that honest living yields a modest living. You won't get rich from hard work, but you won't be exactly poor either. Your life will fall somewhere in the middle. For many people, this existence in the middle is unbearable. This is where you get your dreamers.

If you ask young people today what their dreams are, they almost never tell you that they aspire to be janitors or garbage collectors. Plan A is to make big dollars in athletics and rap music. Plan B is to make big dollars managing athlets and rap stars. Plan Z is doing work emptying garbage cans, and it only becomes a dream when Plans A-Y implode usually leaving a mountain of student debt to repay. People will risk almost anything including epic colossal monumental failure to escape the life of the ordinary man or woman. You would be wrong to think that greed is what motivates these dreamers. Greed is easily satisfied in the world of the schemers. The dreamers yearn for recognition. They want the world to tell them that they are someone important. There is no American Idol for the next superstar janitor.


To be righteous is to be ordinary, hard working, and unknown. I'm not sure when it happens, but there comes a point in a working person's life when they accept this honest path of living and recognize it as the superior way. This is when they see the vanity of riches and ego and embrace the dignity of decency. It is when they value the opinion of God and their own selves over the empty show of this world. I can honestly say that being working class is voluntary suffering because opportunities for dreaming and scheming abound. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't see at least one person getting over. But I pity them. They think I am a fool for working. I think they are fools for selling their souls for such a low price. I just don't want what they have, and I do not believe that God forsakes the righteous. Justice will prevail. It just doesn't happen in this life.

5.23.2015

The Craft Beer Bubble


Comforts that were rare among our forefathers are now multiplied in factories and handed out wholesale; and indeed, nobody nowadays, so long as he is content to go without air, space, quiet, decency and good manners, need be without anything whatever that he wants; or at least a reasonably cheap imitation of it.
G.K. CHESTERTON

Over the last decade, I have learned one thing about bubbles. A bubble is formed when a fad meets easy credit. The reason for this is simple. There are people with ideas, and there are people with capital. There is no end to ideas, but capital is a naturally limited thing. But thanks to fiat currency and low interest rates, anyone with an idea--good or bad--can jump into business. The result is a boom as the novelty drives curiosity and the bust when that curiosity is satisfied. It could be the Dutch Tulip Bulb Mania or Dot-Com Stocks or McMansions. Today, we have the craft beer bubble.

Now, I want to say at the outset that I have quaffed some of these beers, and I have found a few of them to be quite tasty. But as the novelty wears off for me, I find myself returning to the familiar in much the same way that listening to Pink Floyd, Rush, and Yes made me realize that the best rock came from the meat and potatoes music of AC/DC. At the end of the day, you just want to rock. Likewise with beer, you don't want to think much about it. You just want to drink it.


Now, I could easily poke fun at the absurdities of the craft beer revolution such as the concept of chocolate beer. But that would be too easy. Instead, I want to point out the similarities of this revolution with others in wine, coffee, and ice cream. The fact is that all these new craft brewers are competing to be the next Starbucks and Ben & Jerry's of the beer world. Those two brands did for coffee and ice cream what these craft brewers are doing for beer. They challenged the status quo of the corporate products to give us new and bold flavors and established themselves as the new corporate products. There is something sad in this tale.

There are essentially two types of products in the world. There is the factory made, and there is the homemade. The factory made food or product is mass produced, uniform, and cheap. The homemade food or product is locally produced, varied, and expensive. This is why my town can have various corporate fast food places but also mom and pop diners and hamburger stands that attract the locals. The lesson here is that you can either get something cheap or something good but not both in the same product. This is because the large producer tends towards the bland while the small producer tends towards the flavorful. What if you could have the best of both worlds? You can't. But people still try, and there is where craft beer comes from.


Craft beer began with homebrewing. People dissatisfied with Budweiser, Miller, and Coors had the option to buy their own barley, malt, hops, yeast, equipment, and bottles and make their own. The result was beer with greater alcohol content and better taste than the watered down stuff you get off of the supermarket shelves. The homebrewer may even have shared his beer with friends and neighbors who found his recipes awesome. One of these homebrewers would go on to make Samuel Adams beer to the delight of beer lovers. Those same beer lovers hold that beer in disdain now as it has become corporate. They even have a term for this corporate craft beer--crafty beer. It seems that the primary appeal of these craft beers for craft beer lovers is that no one else drinks them. Yet, they want these beers on tap at their local bar or on the shelf at the local supermarket. Basically, they want a corporate beer that no one drinks. These people are not beer lovers but beer snobs. They are cousins to the coffee snobs and the wine snobs.

The reality is that you can't be both corporate and homemade. Once upon a time, Ben & Jerry's was homemade ice cream. Now, it is Unilever made ice cream. This may seem depressing, but it should be hopeful for the homegrown entrepreneur. If you can make something good and different, you will find your customers. The temptation is to sell out to corporate greed at some point which is what Ben and Jerry did with their ice cream. The corporation will try and maintain the illusion of homemade because this allows them to charge a premium price for a factory made product. And it works until the product becomes mass contaminated with listeria.


My advice to the homebrew entrepreneur is to never sell out. Stay small, remain faithful to your values, and remain profitable to the end of your days. You won't be rich, but you will be successful and happy. Unfortunately for many, this is not enough. Getting rich takes over the driver's seat from making quality stuff. People quickly forget the reason that people liked them in the first place. It was because they were small, local, and good.

I tend to like two kinds of products. I either like the corporate made crap because it is cheap and ubiquitous. Or, I like the homegrown stuff for the quality and value they provide. The result is that I shop at Walmart and the farmer's market. I do not shop at Whole Foods Market. I will drink coffee at Dunkin' Donuts or a local diner. I do not drink Starbucks. This is because Whole Foods and Starbucks tries to occupy that middle ground between the corporate and the homemade. The result is expensive crap. I want it cheap or good. I don't want it expensive and bad.

At some point, this bubble in craft beer will pop. This will probably happen as capital dries up and people settle for the Starbucks of beer. When bubbles burst, the survivors become the winners and the new corporate masters. And there will be those who rebel against these masters. And I will write it again. You can't have the best of both worlds.

5.14.2015

The Cult of the Open Mind


Merely having an open mind is nothing. The object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid.
G.K. CHESTERTON

I am not an open minded person. I used to be but not now. This is because I am Catholic now where before I was an idiot. Being open minded is like being single. When you are single, you are free to date, but that freedom ends when you become married. Likewise, when you are a seeker, you are free to look for answers, but you stop looking for answers when you find the answer in Jesus Christ and in the church He established. I have closed my mind on something solid. To open it again would be double minded.

I am not so arrogant as to believe that I am always right. But this mindset is not having an open mind but simply being humble. I am prone to error, but there are no errors in God. My humility leads me to conform my mind to Christ. This is anathema to the Cult of the Open Mind. Apparently, you are supposed to have an open mind on everything except God. When it comes to God, that open mind snaps shut with an audible click.

The Cult of the Open Mind comes from the Enlightenment and from atheism. This is why pluralism and tolerance have become buzzwords, and anyone who disagrees is "intolerant." The philosophy of the Enlightenment is the philosophy of the Devil since it was Lucifer who was the first freethinker. Every form of thought and religion is to be tolerated as long as it is not the Christian religion especially the Catholic Christian religion. This is why so many today tolerate Islam but want the Catholic Church shut down for its refusal to ordain women. This is because Enlightenment secularism and Islam are on the same team.


Islam is not Christian. This is why the Cult of the Open Mind will tolerate it along with satanism and witchcraft. Once upon a time, I belonged to a group of atheists that decided to include Wiccans in its membership. I was a bit floored over this as I considered practitioners of voodoo, spiritualism, witchcraft, and the rest to be even worse than Baptists at the time in terms of being anti-science and rationalism. The reality is that witches and atheists are on the same team. It was just another push by Providence towards Catholicism.

The advocates of tolerance are only tolerant when they are in a position of weakness. They want tolerance for themselves. Then, when they attain power, they become extremely intolerant. the irony is when they claim to be stamping out "intolerance." As a consequence, people are imprisoned in the name of freedom.This is how the French Revolution turned into the Reign of Terror. And who did they feed to the guillotine? Nuns and priests.


Similar atrocities happened in the Russian Revolution and the Cristeros War in Mexico. If you want to see tyranny, put an enlightened thinker in charge of the government. They will justify all means until you are ended. New Atheists would prefer you didn't know these facts, or at the least, not put these atrocities on their ledger sheet. But history shows in the absence of the Christian religion, humanity becomes inhumane. It is Christianity and only Christianity that is truly tolerant. This is because Christianity teaches a dignity of all persons known as the imago Dei. We are all made in the image of God. This is why you see all those pro-life people outside abortion clinics urging women to not abort what the atheists consider nothing more than a clump of cells. It's about "choice." Notice how the atheists and the enlightenment people always point to an asbtraction while the Christians always point to God and real human beings. This appeal to abstraction over people is actually the modern form of  ancient idolatry. This is why these new pagans can sacrifice human beings to abstractions like tolerance and liberty.


This sacrifice is at the beginning stages today as Christian bakers and caterers are being fined substantially for not providing their services for same sex weddings. This will move on to imprisonment and not just for businesses but churches and clergy as well. Now, the Islamic State is throwing homosexuals off of rooftops, and mosques will be exempt from tolerance laws here in the US. But not those churches. As I said, they are playing on the same team. Everything is to be tolerated except for Christianity.

The Cult of the Open Mind is primarily about freethinking. And what is freethought exactly? It is thought free from God. God is just a superstition even though the people who say that are quite able to tolerate real superstitions like Wicca. Do not be deceived in this. The open mind is the mind hostile to God. These people want anything but God, and everything will be tolerated except for God. And if you doubt this, watch what is to come. You will be horrified at the insanity of these people who claim to be sane.

5.10.2015

The Plan


But who art thou that judgest thy neighbour? Behold, now you that say: To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and there we will spend a year, and will traffic, and make our gain. Whereas you know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is a vapour which appeareth for a little while, and afterwards shall vanish away. For that you should say: If the Lord will, and if we shall live, we will do this or that. But now you rejoice in your arrogancies. All such rejoicing is wicked.
JAMES 4:13-16 DOUAY-RHEIMS

I have a friend who makes plans that are always changing. Now, I don't want to subject my friend to ridicule because I do the same thing she does. The only difference is that I keep my plans a secret while she shares her plans openly. Naturally, when those plans don't happen, she looks foolish. Now, I would not advise people to not make plans since I don't think you can make progress without planning. I would advise keeping those plans to yourself and exercising a little humility in regards to those plans. As someone who has made many plans in life, I can tell you that my life is nowhere near where I thought it would be.

There is a certain arrogance in the Plan. I put a capital P on it to designate it in your mind because you have heard it many times. You have to have goals and ambitions in life. You need to FOCUS and DREAM and ACHIEVE. This is all motivational poster stuff, and all of it is a bunch of crap.


What makes the motivational poster stuff a bunch of crap is the fundamental arrogance of this dream it and achieve it mentality. None of us is promised tomorrow. Everything we have and do is on loan from God and is always subject to His will. As Woody Allen so famously put it, "If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans." Everything you will ever have or ever do is only because God allowed it.


People who boldly declare their plans have drank too deeply from the Kool-Aid pitcher of Friedrich Nietzsche and his concept of the will to power. This philosophy of the self created and the self actualized individual is a nice myth, but it is a delusion. This is why God laughs when you tell Him your plans. When you make plans in absence of humility, you are telling God that you are God. This can only end in two ways. You will either continue in this delusion to be humiliated later, or you will experience humiliation immediately. The best advice I can give you on this is to not do this. Follow the advice of James's epistle and remain humble. Always preface your plans with the statement, "If the Lord wills it, and if we live."


Humility in your plans is the best way to go for two main reasons. The first is that it saves you from disgrace when those plans don't happen as planned. The second is that it leaves you open to God's plans for you which are always better than anything you can plan for yourself. We should always seek what He has for us instead of us telling Him what we are going to seek for ourselves. Plus, the bonus of following God's plans for you is that they always succeed.


It would be nice to know all the details of what God has planned for us, but God lets us know exactly what we need to know when we need to know it. If the bold planner exhibits arrogance, the anxious planner exhibits a lack of faith. God must be out to lunch, so we have to do His work for Him to avoid disaster. Both arrogance and anxiety are foolish. God is God, and you are not God. God knows His business.

Be humble in your plans knowing that your life really is just a vapor. Trust in God's plan and providence instead. Seek His will daily and accept whatever comes with the grace that God gives you. Learn obedience in your sufferings and doubts and be thankful in your successes. This humility in all things pleases God. Place a simple trust in Him and then make your plans with Him always in mind. Things will go better for you, and you will look less foolish.