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CHRISTOPHER TAYLOR'S BOOKS

Friday, September 19, 2014

EFFORT AS SIN

"We rarely observed a meal in which at least one family member didn’t complain about the food they were served"

The latest demand by some groups is that women get not just birth control but feminine products like tampons for free.  Essentially, their argument is that women are unfairly burdened with needing these things since men don't need them, so men should pay to give them what they require.
This is one more in a long line of demands for free things that we've been flooded with, each only "free" in the sense that individuals feel no cost upon receiving them, but pay in advance in taxes.  Each new demand stretches the definition of "necessary" and "rights" until its become almost self-parodying.  You can barely come up with a satirical version of events fast enough to be ahead of the actual demands.
There was an article written recently by a somewhat obscure feminist writer at Slate named Amanda Marcotte.  She's managed to get attention occasionally by writing ridiculous, self-important diatribes such as how no man is worthy of her and are all scared off by her wonderfulness.  This recent piece was rebelling against the idea of cooking:
The home-cooked meal has long been romanticized, from ’50s-era sitcoms to the work of star food writer Michael Pollan, who once wrote, “far from oppressing them, the work of cooking approached in the proper spirit offered a kind of fulfillment and deserved an intelligent woman’s attention.” In recent years, the home-cooked meal has increasingly been offered up as the solution to our country's burgeoning nutrition-related health problems of heart disease and diabetes. But while home-cooked meals are typically healthier than restaurant food, sociologists Sarah Bowen, Sinikka Elliott, and Joslyn Brenton from North Carolina State University argue that the stress that cooking puts on people, particularly women, may not be worth the trade-off.
Now, its one thing to say "man I just don't like to cook" or "I feel that I don't have time or energy to cook a meal" but no, her position is that home cooking is a terrible burden.  She is not opposed to cooking a meal, she's opposed to home cooked meals as a concept.  Its not just a burden but wrong to home cook.
She's not completely wrong in the article; it is true that often modern kids are whiny and complaining, and that its tough to cook a meal if you work all day.  And it is true that its tough to get your cooking done if you can't get adequate raw materials together.
However, her example "cook everything with one device and wash the dishes in the sink" is hilariously first-world problemy.  Oh the horror of having to hand-wash your dishes!  Inconceivable, where is Guadalupe to load the dishwasher for me!  How can I face the day knowing that I must cook my food in a single unit instead of having eighteen different devices on the counter to choose from??
Not having pots and pans is a matter of being ill prepared for the role you've taken on.  Its like complaining that now you are a baseball player, you don't have a bat or glove.  Maybe you should have gotten that stuff together before you took on that role.  But even if somehow a home and child came upon you by surprise, cheap stuff is available at thrift and Salvation Army type stores, and usually older family members will have extra supplies to offer.  You can get basic supplies at the Dollar Tree for a buck each.  Get them slowly over time.
But the idea that its cheaper to buy takeout or delivery every meal than supplies and raw materials is utterly and shockingly ignorant to the point of rank stupidity.  I get that Ms Marcotte probably shops at Manhattan boutiques for her microgreens and Kobe beef, and her idea of a grocery trip is being driven to Whole Foods but surely she must be aware that other, less expensive options exist
And ultimately it seems to come down to this philosophy: that effort, that personal difficulty is not simply something we may resent, but actually wrong.  That it is bad to strive or work, that having to do something to get what you want is morally incorrect.
More and more this seems to be the attitude.  For many of the people involved in the idiotic, repulsive "Occupy" movement, paying your school loans was thought of as an evil thing.  How dare you expect me to pay for my schooling!  Mommy gave me everything for free!
The attitude that if something is difficult and stressful it should not be is becoming more and more a cultural presumption.  Not something people wistfully think of, but something that people presuppose - its a basic assumption of life, something unquestioned and certain before each situation even arises.  You expect me to work for my home, my car, my clothes, my vacation?  How dare you, sir!
This goes beyond childish, where kids just assume things show up for free, and have no concept of the interplay between personal effort and reward.  It is the attitude of generational aristocracy, its the kind of thinking of Marie Antoinette.  People are acting like they are all lords in a feudal system, and that their mere birth demands they be attended to and given what they desire.
Yes, much of life sucks.  Yes, many times you work hard for little reward.  Yes, most of what you get in life requires a lot of trouble and sorrow.  If this was a game, people would rightly complain that the risk and difficulty of the quests does not gain an adequate reward.
That is how life is.  Wishing that away or demanding government fix it will not make that go away.  It is not possible to demand away reality, no matter how much you close your eyes and stamp your feet.  Every once in an extremely rare while, someone gets a lot for little.  But this presumption that not only we should get rich quick and easy, but that it is morally wrong to not do so... what on earth kind of life are you living?
It is, I fear, an inevitable consequence of how more than one generation of young people has been raised, however.  Each time you try to raise children away from difficulty, failure, disappointment, or realizing their limitations, you raise a generation unable to comprehend the basic truths of life and reality. 
And when faced with those truths, they throw a tantrum, camping in the streets, tearing up parks, demanding more and more and more.  And those who want to seem like they care, those driven by emotion and concern more than reason and fact will stand beside them and call for Something To Be Done (especially if it means more money and power under their control).
And crass politicians, knowing they can rely on votes from these perpetual toddlers, will side with them as well and come up with program after program spending other people's money to make it seem like it comes true.

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