before we scattered, he brought out what was in his mind

There is much to be said for a life pared down to utter simplicity and being part of a community that embraces those ethics. There may even be something to be said on doing away with sex as part of that simplification. If one is really serious about sex being a sin, then this is the only non-hypocritical path to take. The problem with that is that over time, without converts your community gets smaller and smaller, The Last Ones Standing

Only four Shakers are left in the world, all living in southern Maine. But if they can’t attract converts to their celibate lifestyle and this really is the end for them, they have a plan to ensure that their legacy lives on forever.


These are the last Shakers, living in the world’s last active Shaker community, which has survived for 223 years in this idyllic and isolated hilltop village 35 miles northwest of Portland. Here, the four faithful live a life of ascetic simplicity and abide by the three C’s: celibacy, confession of sin, and communalism. “The real misconception about the Shakers is that we’re all dead,” says one of the four, Brother Arnold Hadd, only half-jokingly.

When it comes to globalization, political affiliation aside sitting around talking to folks that are a few paychecks away from financial disaster, talking with people whose future health and well being is dependent on Social Security and Medicare there are two kinds of BS I have lost patience with. The first is Repuli-speak which is pretty much the sound a parrot would make as it said free trade..over and over again, like a sacred mantra that is never explained and is not to be argued with. The second is Democrats who talk about how free trade must be tied to some reciprocal benefits for American workers while at the same time being so willing to cave into the too many of the demands of multinational corporations. I didn’t want to read all this whole article from Steven Pearlstein, A Winning Strategy for the Democrats: Barter for Free Trade because I could tell from the first two paragraphs where it was going and I’m pretty sick of bashing Democrats because of what seems to be a lefty wonk mind-jarring epiphany that Democrats are not perfect.

Because this was the free-trade wing of the Democratic Party, the event featured all the usual arguments about how globalization has helped the U.S. economy, boosting growth and productivity through scale economies, specialization and increased innovation.

And because these were Democrats, there were the requisite acknowledgements that, while trade is an overall plus for the economy, it has had some unpleasant side effects: insecurity about job losses, downward pressure on wages, widening inequality, and an unsustainable trade deficit.

Since you can’t even get conservatives to admit there is a problem, Democrats are already half way there. David Sirota commenting on the same article writes,

What perplexes Pearlstein the most is that these Democratic insiders are so insulated in their Wall Street and K Street offices, they can’t even see the raw political benefits of following the heroic trade reformers in their midst:


I wouldn’t go that far – I don’t think Democrats have lost the instinct for the political jugular. I don’t think its that natural – I believe many inside the Democratic Party have competing loyalties: 1) The Democratic Party and 2) Big Money. And I believe when those two loyalties come into competition, too many Democratic Party elites choose Big Money. This, of course, says nothing about the immorality of their advocacy for trade policies that are crushing ordinary Americans.

To use a bad metaphor, Democrats have at least a hand in the pockets of big money. Maybe in real world politics that is the best we can expect for right now, though I’m not throwing out my membership card in the practical idealist club just yet. How difficult can this be. Free trade that puts American jobs first. Free trade with moral strings attached. Someone has to start questioning the fundamentals. Why have we allowed an economy to evolve whereby someone works hard for forty plus hours a week and is barely surviving. If half the country is doing fairly well, and they are if we measure well off by spending power. They are well off because they buy so many products that were produced by someone that makes even less then minimum wage, not to mention that in many cases we’re helping prop up some authoritarian governments in the process. To be against globalization is as overly simplistic as conservative pro globalization, so if Democrats want to be leaders, if they want to set the agenda they need to let those voices with ideas and answers lead. Conservative-lite might win in the interim, but American workers still lose in the long run.
The classic thriller The Turn of the Screw by Henry James is available as a downloadable audible book here.

The story had held us, round the fire, sufficiently breathless,
but except the obvious remark that it was gruesome, as, on Christmas
Eve in an old house, a strange tale should essentially be,
I remember no comment uttered till somebody happened to say that it
was the only case he had met in which such a visitation had fallen
on a child. The case, I may mention, was that of an apparition
in just such an old house as had gathered us for the occasion–
an appearance, of a dreadful kind, to a little boy sleeping
in the room with his mother and waking her up in the terror of it;
waking her not to dissipate his dread and soothe him to sleep again,
but to encounter also, herself, before she had succeeded in doing so,
the same sight that had shaken him. It was this observation
that drew from Douglas–not immediately, but later in the evening–
a reply that had the interesting consequence to which I call attention.
Someone else told a story not particularly effective, which I saw
he was not following. This I took for a sign that he had himself
something to produce and that we should only have to wait.
We waited in fact till two nights later; but that same evening,
before we scattered, he brought out what was in his mind.

from THE TURN OF THE SCREW by Henry James