Strange and Dangerous Indeed

2011 May 8
by drdog09

From the current Works and Days from VD Hanson —

In contrast, in the present depression, the out of work and poor are as numerous, but both unhappier and yet far better off than prior generations. This is not the rant of some right-wing laudator temporis acti, or the death throes of an aging old white guy, but rather empirically based and shared by most of my friends in the ascendant Mexican-American middle and upper-middle classes, many of whom are becoming quite conservative.

The cars of our poorer brethren in our major discount stores are late model and often expensive. People get into them with full carts of food and clothing. Housing here is cheap and good. How to square this circle between official poverty and misery and the veneer of a well-off general public?

I’ve been discussing these disconnects with farmers, a professor or two from CSU Fresno, and local business people. All come to the same conclusions. There is a vast and completely unreported cash economy in Central California. Tile-setters, carpenters, landscapers, tree-cutters, general handymen, cooks, housekeepers, and personal attendants are all both finding work and being paid in cash. Peddlers (no income or sales taxes) are on nearly every major rural intersection. You can buy everything from a new pressure washer to tropical fruit drinks. For this essay, I stopped at one last week and surveyed their roto-tillers, lawn mowers, and chain saws, new and good brands.

New “restaurants” are sprouting all over the highways — mobile stainless-steel encased canteens with awnings and chairs set up along the road. And yet for all the cash economy, it seems almost everyone in the food stores and doctors’ offices are on food stamps, Medi-Cal, and rent subsidies. A carload of people drove in last week, inquiring about a house nearby; the occupants assured me that they had county housing vouchers.

A third ingredient is easy credit, whether for credit cards or late model cars. The result is statistically we are impoverished with near 20% unemployment; but in reality something stranger and weirder is transpiring. Prosperity and well-being are mostly assessed in relative not absolute terms. There is little appreciation of the wonders of the iPhone, whose computerized, and GPS-driven gadgetry would have been confined to millionaires ten years ago; there is frequent lamentation that the iPhone in question is not the latest model as others enjoy. A Camry is not worshipped as a wondrous machine that can get one 200 miles in 3 hours, in air-conditioned and musical luxury, only that one has a 4, not a 6 cylinder model, without leather seats and 6-disc CD.

The combination of 2 billion Indians and Chinese in the world marketplace, exporting cheap goods, has meant fewer jobs for Americans and far more material playthings now accessible to every stratum of society. Again, easy credit, combined with little shame or penalty in defaulting on what one owes, has allowed a superficial parity with the upper-middle class. Massive government transfers and relaxed eligibility have ensured households thousands of dollars in entitlements and subsidies. We have printed $5 trillion since 2009, and borrowed $1.6 trillion just this year. And the huge influx of easy government cash shows here.

Cash wages have meant augmented entitlement money and are competitive with those who are formally employed and who pay 30% of their money in payroll, health care, and federal, state, and local income tax deductions. The result is an odd sort of poverty, in which superficially the unemployed and poor to the naked eyed are almost identical to the upper middle classes.

And he closes thusly —

History’s revolutions and upheavals — whether the Nika rioting in Constantinople, the periodic uprising of the turba in Rome, the French upheavals, or the Bolshevik Revolution — are rarely fueled by the starving and despised, but by the subsidized and frustrated, who either see their umbilical cord threatened, or their comfort and subsidies static rather than expansive — or their own condition surpassed by that of an envied kulak class. Perceived relative inequality rather than absolute poverty is the engine of revolution.

These are strange and dangerous times. An insolvent federal government, an exporting China and India, and an almost complete indifference to federal immigration, tax, and regulatory laws have all combined to create a well-entitled but increasingly angry population, one “empowered” and made more, not less, bitter by the last two years of governance in Washington.


Another riches to rags story against California? Far from it. This same story is being played out in Houston, Denver, Providence, Atlanta and yes even my home town. I can take you over to a little area (approx 50 acres) that is not much different from what you might see in a open air market in Mexico City. There are some changes — roll door storage buildings for shops rather than carts, available electricity, private security even. But the similarities outweigh them. `No Englash` is a common refrain. Everything is cash. A Anglo stands out like a proud nail.

His observation as to the pre-revolutionary conditions we are currently in are spot on as well. Fact I am surprised he did not mention the Goths for he is light years more well versed than I. But still, in the waning century of the Roman Empire the Goths and the Huns were paid tribute by Rome. The gambit being in exchange the parties would patrol the borders and generally behave themselves. When the burden of policing combined with the waning value of the aureus manifested itself, they realized the value in sacking Rome directly rather than go for the percentage.

We are no different, in some cases worse. The Goths and Huns were on the outer reaches of the Roman Empire. Ours are inside the equivalent of `Italia`. We don’t send a treasure chest of gold to the leadership, we issue EBT cards to any qualifying party. The citizenship of which does not matter. And like Rome in its waning days the treasury is bare.

Depressing indeed.

77 Responses leave one →
  1. 2011 May 8 11:24 am
    justrand permalink

    Splendid article, and splendid follow on analysis, drdog.

    And yet the Democrats are promising MORE and MORE, even though it is so obviously unsustainable. Obama and his loathsome ilk WANT a “popular uprising”. They continue to seperate people into “haves” and “have-nots”…and find new ways to label more and more people “have-nots”.

    The veneer of civilization…even OURS…is thin. Our American “veneer” isn’t just peeling away through age, it’s being stripped away by those who would see us crushed. Sadly, our President is one of those wielding a hammer and chisel.

  2. 2011 May 8 11:31 am
    RepublicanPundit permalink

    Dr. Americans have no idea of what poverty really is. I spent a number of years and Korea (before the boom) and saw what poor really is. Poor people in most countries do not have cell phones, big screen TV’s and automobiles and a place to live.

  3. 2011 May 8 11:32 am
    RepublicanPundit permalink

    …sigh Turkey and South Korea…

  4. 2011 May 8 11:32 am
    RepublicanPundit permalink

    …or food to eat.

  5. 2011 May 8 12:33 pm
    bc3b permalink

    The welfare mentality moved into fast gear with Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society. No President since him – even Reagan – put a major dent in it.

    We are into the third generation of the welefare mentality – anyone under 50 knows nothing other than a world in which they can procreate and take off. Yet, everyone enjoys food stamps and welfare that provides smart phones, 50-inch HD televisions, etc. amd 47% of the people pay no taxes.

  6. 2011 May 8 12:35 pm
    bc3b permalink

    RP –

    It’s closer than that. You ever been to Haiti?

  7. 2011 May 8 12:54 pm
    retlaw permalink

    Good eye-opening and thought-provoking article and commentary.

    And wishing happiness to WMD (Women of Mother’s Day).

  8. 2011 May 8 1:21 pm
    janzam permalink

    Hmmmm…I don’t have a smart phone, and my biggest TV is 19″. Does that mean I am getting the raw end of the entitlement deal?????

    Another wonderful piece by VDH, drdog. Thanks for sharing it, as well as adding your own commentary to it. It is indeed depressing, when you put out societal picture together in a few paragraphs. Once people get used to give-aways, it is hard to wean or take them away.

    I have seen the same thing in S. CA, where many young people are paid half their salary in cash, the rest in a bonified paycheck. It makes the employers happy as well as the workers, as there is less to report on both ends.

  9. 2011 May 8 1:30 pm
    RepublicanPundit permalink

    Hell, I don’t even have a cell phone. I am one of the non-working deprived. I should be eligible for all kind of government assistance

  10. 2011 May 8 1:47 pm
    judyt2009 permalink

    RP — there is a government program to give free cell phones to those who can’ t afford one.

  11. 2011 May 8 1:48 pm
    RepublicanPundit permalink

    In the words of that great philosopher, Alfred P. Dolittle:

    “I am one of the undeserving poor, and I plan to stay that way”

  12. 2011 May 8 1:50 pm
    RepublicanPundit permalink

    Judy, How do I go about getting one of those free gobmint phones.

  13. 2011 May 8 2:06 pm
    bc3b permalink

    Janzam –

    Hmmmm…I don’t have a smart phone, and my biggest TV is 19″.

    That’s cause you ain’t on welfare. Git with the program honky.

  14. 2011 May 8 2:06 pm
    gnqanq permalink

    Myself, I hope the entitled class revolts when the spigot goes dry. Then they will feel my cold steel. I have no sympathy for those people that believe they can live off of my labor.

    It will be one hell of train wreck. When the entitlement class revolts, they are going toe encounter the working class who has had enough.

    BTW, I do not have a cell phone and I don’t want one either.

  15. 2011 May 8 2:07 pm
    bc3b permalink

    BTW, I do not have a cell phone and I don’t want one either.

    You are unusual. We have four cell phones in the family and dropped our land line about two years ago.

  16. 2011 May 8 2:10 pm

    Nihilism is our friend cry the re-builders of society,
    They first must destroy the system with sanctimonious piety,
    To remake the culture reflecting their own image,
    Has been their goal from the very first scrimmage,
    May we alter their course with castration anxiety.

  17. 2011 May 8 2:12 pm
    bc3b permalink

    Here’s the free cell phone program judyt2009 referred to:

  18. 2011 May 8 2:14 pm
    bc3b permalink

    Janzam –

    Your Lakers are getting their butts handed to them. They are playing so poorly that I thought the Pistons changed to purple uniforms.

  19. 2011 May 8 2:14 pm
    RepublicanPundit permalink

    Actually, I don’t want a cell phone, either.

    Buy some minutes when we travel. Otherwise people talking on cell phones irritate the hell out of me

  20. 2011 May 8 2:25 pm
    drdog09 permalink

    We have reached the Rubicon last week as I recall. It was reported that 51% of the population was on some sort of government support.

  21. 2011 May 8 2:26 pm
    gnqanq permalink

    bc3b – I should say “my wife” has one. But I told her, if she goes first, the cell phone goes with her. I get maybe, 2 phone calls a month over the land line. Again, if something happens to the wife, the land line may go with her too. Then I would get a trak phone for those 2 calls a month (fire & police in an emergency).

  22. 2011 May 8 2:28 pm
    RepublicanPundit permalink

    Checked that site out, B3, but, as usual I always make $2 too much to qualify, or two dollars to little. I am a screwed human being

  23. 2011 May 8 2:28 pm
    bc3b permalink

    As the owner of a small business that does a lot of contract work, I have to admit that a cellphone is a lifesaver.

  24. 2011 May 8 2:29 pm
    RepublicanPundit permalink

    Hell, I can’t even afford the internet.

  25. 2011 May 8 2:32 pm
    drdog09 permalink

    We finally cut the cord this year when we upgraded phones. It does annoy me that people don’t have the common sense to put their phones on vibrate when in public gatherings. The other one that I still can’t adjust to is watching people walking down the street talking with a bluetooth ear piece. My immediate first impression is `What’s the frequency kenneth?`.

  26. 2011 May 8 2:32 pm
    RepublicanPundit permalink

    When I worked for the school district, I had a UHF radio, cell phone and a pager. I lost all three of them quickly.

  27. 2011 May 8 2:36 pm
    RepublicanPundit permalink

    Dr. It took me some time to realize that a bunch of crazy people running around talking to themselves were on a bluetooth..

  28. 2011 May 8 2:40 pm
    gnqanq permalink

    RP – just an over inflated ego of how self important they are.

  29. 2011 May 8 3:09 pm
    janzam permalink


    Don’t rub it in how ‘well’ our teams are doing here in Los Angeles. The Lakers fell apart, as did the Kings. The Dodgers are in a state of disrepair over mismanagement of the team. Not much left around here!

  30. 2011 May 8 3:12 pm
    janzam permalink


    Talking about the ‘ear piece’ that seems to be growing on the sides of people’s heads —> I have fears about what this might be doing to their brains, years down the road.

  31. 2011 May 8 3:17 pm
    JustMary permalink

    There are neon signs in the front of every Jack in the Box in my town now that say “Now accepting EBT cards”. I’m sorry, WHAT? CA wants to allow folks to buy booze with EBT cards, what? Cigarettes? Why? Insanity. Folks in line for handouts talking on cell phones. Remember that woman when Obama first got elected whining about how dirt poor she was, while sitting next to the worlds largest big screen tv? There is a new definition of poor: if my neighbor has it, and I do not, I am poor. Whatever “it” is doesn’t matter.

  32. 2011 May 8 3:18 pm
    JustMary permalink

    #30 I’ll be honest, I use one, and I do think about the consequences of it. Brain cancer? Maybe. By the time the studies are conclusive, it’ll be too late. Just like with cigarettes.

  33. 2011 May 8 3:21 pm
    JustMary permalink

    I should mention, I have had my bluetooth for much longer than the state required. Hubby got me one because he didn’t want me holding a phone while I was driving, because having a driving job, he saw how awful drivers became once the phone was in their hands. I yell at drivers holding the phone in their left hands more than anyone else. They block their own view of the lane next to them, but get over anyway. *sigh*

    Oh, and RP- my hair is long, so it looks like I am talking to myself most of the time. lol but I am blonde, so it works for me I guess.

  34. 2011 May 8 3:22 pm
    drdog09 permalink


    The bluetooth isn’t so much the issue. But expect to see a lot of 2 headed children soon. The inclination is most guys place the cell in their pockets next to…. I’ll leave it at that.

  35. 2011 May 8 3:23 pm
    janzam permalink


    Lots of people wear the ear pieces. I don’t, because I have blue tooth in the car, and besides I’m not a big talker on the phone when I’m out and about.

    I think, though, it would be well worth looking into some other kind of device that wouldn’t be directly against your head.

  36. 2011 May 8 3:24 pm
    janzam permalink


    Yeah, you’re right about the phone in the pocket next to the guy’s thingee.


  37. 2011 May 8 3:28 pm
    JustMary permalink

    #36 😆 I better make my son carry a purse so he can protect my grandchildren. Damn…..that wouldn’t work either would it. Purses are a gateway accessory……

  38. 2011 May 8 3:31 pm
    RepublicanPundit permalink

    I Always carried them in my back pocket. I guess that is why I have hemroids.

  39. 2011 May 8 3:31 pm
    JustMary permalink


  40. 2011 May 8 3:40 pm
    drdog09 permalink

    funny cell phone commercial —

  41. 2011 May 8 3:43 pm
    janzam permalink

    Who would have guessed a thread could have gotten so much milage out of a cell phone back and forth!

  42. 2011 May 8 3:49 pm
    judyt2009 permalink

    Warning: Get the barf bag, or the blood pressure medicine handy… OBL Muslim funeral involved requiring US troops to recite alahu akbar, just like the terrorists who murder innocents. Does anyone remember the reported words of the Ft. Hood scumbag murderer?

  43. 2011 May 8 3:50 pm
    RepublicanPundit permalink

    Jan, it started out by telling you how poor I am

  44. 2011 May 8 3:51 pm
    RepublicanPundit permalink

    …started… forgot to use my new spellchecker program. finally found one that works when I type. I think it mispelled hemhroids, though

  45. 2011 May 8 3:58 pm
    RepublicanPundit permalink


  46. 2011 May 8 4:00 pm
    janzam permalink

    This is a perfect follow-up link for Judy’s comment in #42!

    SNL: perceptive mermaid and undersea friends encounter with OBL’s body

  47. 2011 May 8 4:06 pm
    justrand permalink

    judy, I don’t seem to recall alQueda reciting the Lord’s Prayer before they beheaded Daniel Pearl. Musta missed that.

    I hope…PRAY…that multiple service men & women REFUSED the order to say “Allah Akbar” over that piece of shit.

    I would have refused and DEMANDED a Court Martial over it.

  48. 2011 May 8 4:12 pm

    I would have refused and DEMANDED a Court Martial over it

    I would think that forcing such on a christian would be a violation of your religious freedoms not to take part in a muzzie funeral.

  49. 2011 May 8 4:24 pm
    judyt2009 permalink

    I agree. I would have refused… actually I probably would have dropped my pants right there and peed on the body. I hope that they did refuse.

    The last paragraph says it all… the fact that Obama specifically ordered this far in advance of the mission can it be any wonder that 20% of Americans think he is a Muslim, 43% aren’t sure what he is, and 34% think he is a Christian… probably because they take him at his word versus looking at this actions.

  50. 2011 May 8 4:40 pm
    RepublicanPundit permalink

    SNL took a break from Sarah to do that little skit, now back to Sarah Bashing.

  51. 2011 May 8 4:43 pm
    justrand permalink

    I don’t know if Obama is a Muslim or not…I’m not sure if has any time left to worship Allan after worshiping himself. But I DO know that he agrees with their aims: Islamic domination of the world.

    Islam MEANS “submission”. It’s the perfect “religion” for Barry to support…since he thinks everyone should submit to him.

  52. 2011 May 8 4:54 pm
    TLS permalink

    Happy Mother’s Day fellow BJG Moms!

    Spent the day out for a Mother’s Day brunch and a movie (Thor), kids treat. Speaking of annoying cell phones, they have a big message on the screen at the beginning that says “Please no cell phone use during the movie ~ THAT INCLUDES TEXTING”. It is sad that we as a society are losing basic manners. The younger generation has grown up with cell phones and they have never been educated that phones have a certain place in life, but are NOT life.

  53. 2011 May 8 4:58 pm
    TLS permalink

    requiring US troops to recite alahu akbar…

    Oh screw that! Invite some muslim leader and he can say whatever the frick he wants and we won’t shoot him. (And that’s more than he deserves). Don’t convert our troops to Islam even for one fing word.

  54. 2011 May 8 5:06 pm

    27 – That did take some getting used too… 5 years ago, instead of being constantly annoyed by them I finally just decided to join them. lol

  55. 2011 May 8 5:10 pm

    36 – The make thin snap on rf shields\outer casings for the paranoid, have one mainly for not breaking my phone if it’s dropped but has the added benefit of offering a little more protection for my jewels; before all this flat phone crazy I’d always just have a flip version and a belt case, that extra inch away from contact with the body matters.

  56. 2011 May 8 5:13 pm

    “Ft. Hood scumbag murderer?” – I believe they were alahu akbar but then again we’re not supposed to jump to any conclusions.

  57. 2011 May 8 5:32 pm
    drdog09 permalink

    So what are you going to do KH when they are implants? see #40.

  58. 2011 May 8 5:34 pm
    drdog09 permalink

    Not knowing what ship type was used, but if it was a capital ship, CV, LVH, etc I suspect they could find enough crewmen of the Muslim faith that could have observed services. Some of these vessels are small cities in and of themselves.

  59. 2011 May 8 5:35 pm
    RepublicanPundit permalink

    I would find it hard to believe that any Naval Captain to order his men to yell “Allah Akbar” under any circumstances. They may have yelled that to mock the SOB.

  60. 2011 May 8 5:43 pm

    I would find it hard to believe that any Naval Captain etc

    There were plenty of these types who would sell out for a higher rank. They sold us out on DADT.

  61. 2011 May 8 5:43 pm
    bc3b permalink

    Janzam –

    Now you know how we feel in Detroit. Lions have sucked since 1958. Pistons have won three NBA championships since the mid-1950s. Tigers have won two World Series since 1945. Red Wings have been the only good team, but things don’t look good for them this year.

  62. 2011 May 8 5:54 pm
    bc3b permalink

    ip –

    You’ve got that right – promotion in the field grade ranks depends a lot on politics. This is especially true for the navy, which hasn’t been involved in a major nnavel battle in 66 years.

    It’s who you know and who you ….

  63. 2011 May 8 5:55 pm
    janzam permalink


    While I like the Lakers, I think they have become cocky, maybe even complacent, as they have won so many titles in the past.

    I bet Phil Jackson wished he had retired last year…while on a winning streak.

    Lakers could end reign, Phil Jackson’s career with thud

  64. 2011 May 8 6:03 pm
    judyt2009 permalink

    Back to being on thread topic…. I forget if it was something I read or a radio interview but the person was talking about entitlements and that there is an entire subculture where people are working under the table in a cash based economy but then sign up for all the entitlements they can get. Or they declare just enough income to remain below the eligibility levels.
    There are also the employers who pay their employees off the books because it ends up being cheaper than the withhold tax, unemployment insurance, and other costs.

    There are the unemployment queens that hold a job just long enough to become eligible for benefits again and then they make sure they get fired and are back to collecting benefits.

    There will be an entire sub-economy built up underneath the government radar… that is until they send out the IRS auditors to guess at your actual income based upon your life style.

  65. 2011 May 8 6:03 pm
    mulletover permalink

    I question whether they threw the ba$tard overboard.

    He could be in Area 51 by now.

    That’s my truthism for the evening.

    Piss be upon him.

  66. 2011 May 8 6:12 pm
    drdog09 permalink

    Lethal armament without using gun powder.
    With the right hopper, a charging bank and sharp pointed ammo you could build your own automatic.

  67. 2011 May 8 6:23 pm
    TLS permalink

    #64 How many couple do you think are out there that live together with kids (theirs or hers) that don’t get married becuase the woman will lose her welfar? I can name at least 3.

  68. 2011 May 8 7:14 pm
    janzam permalink

    O/T A WI recount update:

    Brookfield falls to Prosser forces

    After the recount there only was a 4 vote change from original canvass — +1 for Kloppenburg and +3 for Prosser.

  69. 2011 May 8 7:49 pm
    retlaw permalink

    Perhaps our Navy personnel were actually saying “Halla Actar”.

    Islamic “Allah Akbar” sounds an awful lot like “Halla Actar”–which was a Klingon saying in an old episode of Star Trek meaning “F.. U.. and Your Mama”.

  70. 2011 May 8 7:50 pm

    😆 😆

  71. 2011 May 8 7:53 pm
    gnqanq permalink

    retlaw – right on.

  72. 2011 May 8 7:57 pm
    TLS permalink

    #69 ROFL!

  73. 2011 May 8 8:45 pm
    justrand permalink

    Halla Actar!!

    a splendid battle cry!! 👿

  74. 2011 May 8 8:57 pm
    drdog09 permalink

    I wonder if a SEAL repeated “Heghlu’meH QaQ jajvam” as he squeezed off the rounds.

  75. 2011 May 9 5:36 am

    “This day is good in order to die.”

  76. 2011 May 9 7:17 am
    RepublicanPundit permalink

    😆 😆 😆

  77. 2011 May 9 11:39 am

    57 – Not get one.

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