Friday, November 18, 2011

When ever I read some advocacy for distributism

I’m invariably reminded of this passage in P.G. Wodehouse :

“Bingo,” I cried deeply moved, “you must act. You must assert yourself. You must put your foot down. You must take a strong stand. You must be master in the home.”

He looked at me a long strange look.

“You aren’t married, are you , Bertie?”

“You know I’m not.”

“ I should have guessed it anyway”

In similar manner to Bertie Wooster the advocates of distributism likewise do their worst to make that economic system look as impractical and as absurd as possible to anyone with any practical experience who is actually making a living in the manner distributism advocates go all misty eyed over.

Of which Thomas Storck’s latest article in the Distributist Review is a classic example. Staying on its primary subject the article is correct and makes a number of good points, but when it strays into economics it is so far from reality that one can only wonder in astonished disbelief if he actually knows anyone down on the street who is actually making a living supporting a family with his hands, because it’s not the buying “unnecessary things or just plain junk” that keeps them working more than two hours a day.

Or working more than four hours per day. Or working more than eight hours per day. What is typically being purchased those eight working hours per day is hand to mouth survival, with dentist bills and the like eating up all the excess.

Not that the distributists are alone, in fact one of the most disheartening problems I find online is that virtually all commentators on economic and social issues are Never actually out working in the private sector earning their daily bread from hand to mouth. Of which the libs, and libertarians are by far the most egregious. And if it wasn’t so uncharitable, I would wish nothing better for them than that distributists and libertarians be forced to live by the principles and solutions they so charitably would force upon my family.

In contrast, the distributists at least are advocating a good economic solution, but unfortunately combine it with romantic and impractical nonsense.


Thomas Storck mistakenly posted a response to my post on David Lindsay's blog thinking David Lindsay wrote it. So I think it's only fair to Mr. Storck to help him out by putting his response to my post where he would have intended it since I know myself to be a "fair minded person".:

Thomas Storck said...

Dear Mr. Linday:

I can only think that you have misconstrued my article, "Buy Junk or Starve." My main point was that the U.S. economy depends upon people buying things they do not need, much of which is simply junk. You need merely walk through a mall here in the U.S. to see that. The recession has limited people's discretionary spending, and as you rightly point out, many are struggling to simply make ends meet. But our economy is structured such that simply spending on the essentials is not enough to keep the "engine of growth" humming along. Therefore we have the dilemma I suggested in my title.

My example of people working more than two hours to produce and buy junk was simply an example to make a point, and I began it by saying, "If mankind could..." If you look at it I think you will see that I was not describing the actual economic situation in any way in that example.

I do not usually respond to negative comments about my writing made on other sites, but judging from your profile you seemed to be a fair-minded person. Thus I am hoping that you will take another look at what I actually said and perhaps revise your comments.

When I wrote my post, I had the choice of either writing that Thomas Storck doesn't have a clue of what is actually happening down on the street, or that he just writes that way.

And I would have given him the benefit of the doubt and assumed he just wrote that way, if it was not for his previous writings where he wrote that subsidiarity properly applied would have us using horses and wagons for traveling distances too far to walk, but too short for cars.

(I grew up with a horse having to take care of it along with all our other innumerable animals (including a pet cheetah, but that's a different story), and we did have a passenger sulky, and I know how much it costs to keep a horse including the extra space all the tack takes up, and so the concept of Thomas Storck's subsidiarity and working only two hours a week while keeping a horse is really pretty funny)

It's that article which came to mind when I wrote : when ever I read some advocacy for distributism I’m invariably reminded of Bingo Little's response to Bertie Wooster. Because it is astonishing that not only would Thomas Storck write it, but would afterward see nothing impractical with his application of subsidiarity when he defended it on Caelum et Terra a few years back.

Thomas Storck writes that the two hours was only an example to make a point. Well, the point would be made a whole lot better if he had written of reducing the work week by two hours.

And as I wrote, I agree with his "main point", but when someone starts talking about only having to work two hours, my first response is, look Jack, if I only had to work two(2) hours per day, why the do you think I'm working eight(8) or twelve(12)?

And so, I'll revise my comment to : perhaps Thomas Storck does have a clue, he just doesn't write that way.

Perhaps in turn, Thomas Storck will also revise his comment to be realistic, but I doubt he will, because he probably thinks its fairly close to reality as it is.

As to why Thomas Storck spoke of two hours being sufficient, perhaps this article by him will help explain why he does think it's sufficient.

Not that those who have lived as Thomas Storck romanticizes worked anything close to only a relatively few hours per day. As I know well from growing up listening to my mother tell of her childhood on a dirt farm in Eastern Colorado in circumstance Thomas Storck would perhaps find ideal, but let that be as it may.

Much of what Thomas Storck has to say is worth considering, when not taken to unrealistic extremes. Because you can't have it his way and also have modern medical hospitals, the mixing of the primitive with the advanced only works in science fiction.

And not many mothers when presented with the choice, would chose the primitive. I know my wife wouldn't because it would mean our five year old son would not be with us because bacterial meningitis requires a modern intensive care ward to cure.

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