The Engineer and the Harlot

TrainWreckThumbby Glenn Fairman
“Power without responsibility – the prerogative of the harlot throughout the ages.” – Kipling  •  Imagine a horrendously overloaded locomotive slowly climbing a steep mountain grade. The engine has been called upon to perform a task that it was never designed to accomplish; and as a result, it is overheating and manifesting symptoms that augur an imminent breakdown or failure. The passengers inside who sip coffee while reading their books and chatting amongst themselves are not privy to what the engineer knows: that behind the passengers are twenty cars filled to the rafters with cement. Furthermore, upon reaching the apex of this brutal grade, the “dead weight” being hauled will create an inexorable inertia that will send the locomotive and its occupants down to their most certain doom. The haughty engineer and his Conductor who have abused it so are in an untenable position where they will not stop their advance and are instead content to whistle a half-hearted tune and order a last round of drinks for the unwitting passengers as they approach the inevitable. Indeed, in his arrogant madness, the engineer and his men have set their jaw and will stay the course; all the while maintaining that glib smile of faux-authority and competence: hoping against all earthly reason that somehow magically, they can deliver the goods.

Such parables are instructive only if they are rooted in truth and experience, and this one is no exception. The passengers in the cars – you and I, while not as fully informed of the circumstances as we would like to be, are nevertheless able to inductively piece two and two together to diagnose what is occurring economically. Despite the virtual lockdown in the Main Stream Media on truth, the average sober citizen who travels to his office or to the market for a can of coffee knows instinctively that something bad is brewing for America. [pullquote]They can sense that Leviathan is waxing more robust and brazen in its movements and impinging upon their freedom of action; but they do not necessarily believe this anymore to be such a salutary thing. [/pullquote]

These same citizens know from the cost of beans and everything else in their shopping carts that prices have skyrocketed upwards, even if the concept of hyper-inflation and its causal tie to the government’s printing of currency through political fiat is an intellectually opaque concept. They see taxes, special fees, and the quantity of government jobs growing inexorably; yet they do not see a reduction in our collective debt or a qualitative increase in goods and services as a result of that added revenue. They can sense that Leviathan is waxing more robust and brazen in its movements and impinging upon their freedom of action; but they do not necessarily believe this anymore to be such a salutary thing. Even the most dense and credulous in regards to the ideological beneficence of state intervention in their lives are now calling those articles of faith into question; even as constitutional restraints are unabashedly being reviled by politicos who have become accustomed to the free rein of unmixed power over their “little people.”

Indeed, despite the State-Approved Media parroting State manipulated statistics, these average people have grown quite cognizant of the businesses in their communities going dark. I am not referring to fly-by-night affairs, but shops and chains that have existed since beyond memory boarding shut their doors forever. We see our friends and neighbors being pink-slipped from jobs they have held nearly all of their adult lives or have had their hours cut-back as the first turn of an irresistible death spiral. Moreover, the stigma of purchasing our goods at flea-markets or at the Dollar Tree has disappeared as the necessity of survival has hit home. Generic brands are now a mainstay as we can no longer afford the items the television would have us purchase. Standing at the check-out, we spy from the corner of our eye the familiar debit card being used by needy families for their sustenance. The unemployment rate, we are told, has sunk below 8% for a long succession of months; but our gut tells us that the truth is otherwise. In our heart of hearts, we know that rate to be much, much higher and we can smell in the air that the great machine is sputtering and winding down as 90 million people are no longer even looking for employment.[pullquote]Moreover, the stigma of purchasing our goods at flea-markets or at the Dollar Tree has disappeared as the necessity of survival has hit home. [/pullquote]

But despite the stench of putrefaction in our lungs that comes from a colossal body in its terminal arc, the Great Media Harlot, our gold plated looking glass to the world, sees, hears and speaks no evil of those she calls her own. Having in her youth been renowned for her virtue, her fading modesty drew attention as she was found consorting in the company of riff-raff in indecent circumstances and at odd hours. But now that the bloom is off the rose, her wantonness for her favorites is for all to see as she cocks her heels behind her ears to her own shame without bothering any longer to pull the drapes. While still of a mind to scream at the top of her lungs at every misstep committed by her ideological rivals, her utility now lies in her affectation of silence as hard and ancient structures lie crumbling about her feet. Any duty she once felt to justice has been supplanted by reckless love: not the love that comes from contemplating the beautiful and the just, but the helpless debased sort that older women feel: having thrown their evaporating charms at young rogues leading ultimately to no happy end.

Despite what we can discern happening about us vibrating in the marrow of our bones, those on the receiving end of our Great Knave’s material largesse have taken up the Media Harlot’s carefully groomed mantra: a subtle variation of Emile Coue’s psychological auto-suggestion that: “Everyday and in every way, things are getting better.” Having imbibed these imbecilic political “Laws of Attraction,” the faithful have learned that every negative thought can be checked and countered by a smiling and trim happy-go-lucky young face on the tube selling us on the lie that the American Dream is alive and well under Obama. Furthermore, as long as we think and vote in fidelity to “The One,” grandmother will never have to resort to eating food reserved for Fifi’s dish. Treacherous wraiths have calculated that as long as the checks TrainWreck2keep rolling in and the clodhoppers’ gaze can be re-directed to the government’s noble advocacy for the helpless children, the remaining scraps of our American liberties can be bartered away under the aegis that a hip black President identifies and cares for the little guy – despite an asteroid-sized quantity of evidence amassing to the contrary.

The Engineer of this great locomotive indeed seems to believe that his historical mandate of America’s transformation will be the grand legacy liberalism will bequeath to the earth. In hoarding powers and prerogatives to himself that no President has ever wielded so capriciously without regard to sacred Constitutional limits, Obama is taking us down the garden path to a place of his own choosing: a utopia that more closely resembles Golgotha. When the massive wheels come off this train — and they will do so most certainly, he will cast the onus on those American people who fought him “tooth and claw” and on the previous engineer — because that is just the sort of shallow creature he is.

From the security of their well-heeled digs, the Engineer and the Harlot will share amongst themselves a bottle of the finest. And high above the smoking ruins of America, they will gaze lovingly in each other’s eyes while clinking their glasses as they toast: “Everyday and in every way……
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Glenn Fairman writes from Highland, Ca. He can be reached at arete5000@dslextreme.com.
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17 Responses to The Engineer and the Harlot

  1. Timothy Lane says:

    Well, the synoptic media have certainly prostituted themselves for the sake of political expediency. But that’s what liberals do, as I noticed even before reading the same point in an article by Dennis Prager. An Inner Party liberal is first and foremost a liberal, and only secondarily do professional standards matter (and ethics even less).

    Half a century ago, I read about what was then the greatest railroad disaster known, which did in fact involve an overloaded train trying to go uphill. It was in occupied Italy in 1944, with poor-quality coal available, and a passenger train from Naples was a bit overloaded when it tried to pass through a tunnel going uphill. They were unable to proceed, and carbon monoxide even wiped out virtually everyone on the train (I’m not sure if anyone is known to have survived) without its ever leaving the track or running into another train or any other accident. I have no idea if Ayn Rand was aware of it when she wrote the train disaster scene in Atlas Shrugged.

  2. faba calculo says:

    While I would agree that there, very likely, is long-run danger in our accumulation of debt, and possibly even short-run danger, I disagree with many, if not most, of the specific facts you lay out here to support your case. To whit:

    1) The price of food is growing at about the same rate since the mid-1990s, which was about the best rate since the first oil shock in the 1970s. See: http://research.stlouisfed.org/fredgraph.png?g=nMY. (Note: this is the price level…the rate of inflation would be calculated as the percent change in this level.)

    2) Government employment is actually down since the onset of the Great Recession in general, while at the federal level, it’s actually been flat to slightly dropping since around 1990. See: http://research.stlouisfed.org/fredgraph.png?g=nMZ. (One important caveat: these numbers don’t include government contracts, and their figure is much less easy to get a handle on. That said, given their current dire straights, I doubt that state and local governments have been adding enough contractors to cancel the above result. In fact, I would get the exact opposite: that they are dropping contractors as well, thereby leaving the above graph, if anything, understating the effect. Nevertheless, of this, I am a good deal less sure.)

    3) Federal taxes as a percent of GDP (which is probably the best way to measure it, as it expresses taxes as a percentage of everything that can be used to pay them and it dodges the question of adjusting the figures for inflation) is at its lowest point in a very long time. (See: http://charleshawkins.blogspot.com/2010/10/federal-tax-revenue-as-percentage-of.html). Note: I am NOT trying to credit President Obama with this result, as it also appears to be a result of the wounding of the economy. As for state and local taxes, they appear to have been flat (again, as a percent of GDP) for some time. See: http://www.kentwillard.com/photos/graphs/tax-components-as-percent-of-gdp.html. Warning: I’ve actually seen different versions of the second to last graph that tell somewhat different stories, though, in broad strokes it’s the same. Nevertheless, taxes as a percent of GDP is not something we calculate as BLS, so it’s data I’m a good deal less familiar with. Caveat emptor.

    4) You should keep in mind that any statistic, government or otherwise, is nothing more then the answer to a very, very, VERY specific question. Thus, “the” unemployment rate is nothing of the sort. It is “an” unemployment rate (BLS, by itself, puts out six separate unemployment rates, known as U1 to U6. The one you see on the news every month is U3. Given they are generally numbered in order of how high they tend to be, it’s pretty much the middle of the pack, leaving off, as it does, discouraged workers, people “marginally attached to the labor market” (e.g., those who would be working were they not caring for a sick relative), and those forced to work part time. (See: http://research.stlouisfed.org/fredgraph.png?g=nN2 for all but the last, which, for some reason, I’m having a hard time finding.) If you’d ever like a quick intro to any of these six unemployment figures (or any of the hundreds of others we do for demographic subsets of the population), please just ask.

    5) I will not speak for every governmental statistical agency (there are a few small ones I’ve heard horror stories about), but at the Bureau of Labor Statistics, where I work (and where I am sitting, even as I type), I can say on the basis of my 15 years here that the statistics aren’t manipulated. And, it’s worth noting, at for the two you mention (i.e., the Consumer Price Index and the unemployment rate) there are non-federal analogs, such as the Billion Price Project (see: http://bpp.mit.edu/usa/) and Gallup’s unemployment rate (see: http://www.gallup.com/poll/125639/gallup-daily-workforce.aspx), respectively that put out there own versions, which closely match our own results.

  3. Glenn Fairman Glenn Fairman says:

    I can neither affirm nor deny what Fabo says about the statistics. My piece was a visceral one based upon what I have seen happen around me: jobs shuttering, the prices of food rising alarmingly, an America that is transitioning from Full time to Part Time. All the while, the use of EBT cards has risen dramatically and Americans are getting poorer—–while the gravitational pull of money to DC makes them an anomaly in this tale of woe. I won’t bring out the old screed about “damned lies and statistics,” but a 17 trillion dollar debt and the reckless imposition of QE give me the unmistakable impression that we are a termite ridden house that only needs a moderate push to bring it down. Even a dumb animal knows by the scent in the air that something is ready to occur.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      I can neither affirm nor deny what Fabo says about the statistics. My piece was a visceral one based upon what I have seen happen around me

      Glenn, Faba is our resident denier-of-reality. I don’t know why Faba pretends to be right-of-center but continues to post all this left wing denial stuff.

      The reality is that socialism and Marxism suck the lifeblood out of a nation, both economically and morally. You can try to hide this fact with selected statistics, but that is the conservative truth. And with Obamacare now kicking in, I can’t imagine that we don’t lapse into perhaps a depression of some kind.

      • faba calculo says:

        I would defy anyone to point out, where in here, I’ve “denied reality”. These are the statistics I’m most aware of. If anyone has any questions about them or wishes to add some of their own, please do so.

        I imagine there are plenty of websites I could visit and, were I to voice an opinion that, no, corporations aren’t becoming our slave masters, that voter ID laws aren’t going to decimate our democracy, or that the Tea Party is not a racist movement, I would be called “a denier of reality” for that as well.

        It seems to me that, more and more, calling someone a denier of reality simply means that they are denying something that the person in question wants to be true, and therefore believes with little or no actual evidence.

        In fact, this is all depressingly reminiscent of the last presidential election where so many were just sure the polls were wrong and that Romney had it. I doubt I need to remind anyone where reality came through that time.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          Faba, you deny reality daily. The gist of Glenn’s column is the disintegration caused by socialism and Marxists. This is undeniable. They have had a deleterious impact on our economy…and our morals as well.

          Pulling statistics out of your ass to try to deny this obvious truth is disingenuous. But you’re our house liberal so I guess that’s okay. But I think you do better with the movie and book reviews.

          • faba calculo says:

            “Faba, you deny reality daily. The gist of Glenn’s column is the disintegration caused by socialism and Marxists. This is undeniable.”

            First, I opened my comment saying that we ARE very likely in long-term danger from our accumulating debt and may be in short-run danger. How does that jibe with me allegedly denying the results of socialism and Marxism? That’s like saying I deny the dangers of a woman living with a confirmed woman-beater because I observe that she can still walk!

            The CPI and unemployment rate(s) are collected fairly and honestly and backed up by independent observations. I’ve worked at one of the major statistical agencies for over 15 years now. I’ve seen administrations come and go. And this vision people have of presidential cronies forcing / bribing us into doing their bidding is just a myth.

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              Faba, I think we are so screwed. Maybe we can agree on that. What we see playing out right now is the slow-motion disintegration of our society. And that is unequivocally true if only from a financial point of view. But the moral element has its costs as well. And some would say (I would say) that moral element is why we are heading down the road to financial ruin.

              And I’ve just discovered what all too often a “conservative” is by speaking to many of my friends or watching their behavior. It’s decrying all the freeloaders while quietly getting in line right along with them. Socialism is not just an economic system. It’s also a system of thought. And I reject that system of thought. Or I should say that I am trying, for no one is immune, not Dennis Prager, not Jonah Goldberg, not the best and brightest amongst us.

              • faba calculo says:

                “Faba, I think we are so screwed. Maybe we can agree on that. What we see playing out right now is the slow-motion disintegration of our society. And that is unequivocally true if only from a financial point of view.”

                Certainly our long-term federal debt situation is shaping up disastrously. Nor have the states and (especially) the cities been covering themselves in glory. Quite the opposite: many will likely face bankruptcy much sooner than the US will flirt with it.

                And you are right at least one other place: I probably owe you a book/movie review. Let me see what I can come up with.

              • Timothy Lane says:

                Sometimes it’s unavoidable receiving money from the government; for example, after a certain age, one legally must accept Social Security (and even before that, it’s still something one pays in to). What counts to me is whether or not this determines how you vote. Those who vote for a living are leeches; those who accept what is offered (which they’re often forced to accept) aren’t as long as they realize that they have no entitlement to those funds.

  4. Glenn Fairman Glenn Fairman says:

    “And that is how we are. By strength of will we cut off our inner intuitive knowledge from admitted consciousness. This causes a state of dread, or apprehension, which makes the blow ten times worse when it does fall.”
    ― D.H. Lawrence,

    • faba calculo says:

      How did that inner intuitive knowledge work out when it came to predicting the last election? Give me a large-sample, probability-based survey any day!

  5. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Sometimes it’s unavoidable receiving money from the government; for example, after a certain age, one legally must accept Social Security (and even before that, it’s still something one pays in to). What counts to me is whether or not this determines how you vote. Those who vote for a living are leeches; those who accept what is offered (which they’re often forced to accept) aren’t as long as they realize that they have no entitlement to those funds.

    Tim, it’s that “unavoidability” that makes it such a train wreck. I live in an area that is heavily influenced by military spending, thus my business surely benefits.

    This is the problem with becoming a ward of the state in any form. It becomes unavoidable, natural, normal, etc. We no longer even see it. And as for one’s vote being influenced, the data on that is already in: votes are influenced. We see that with our national debt and the way the entire debate has skewed from the common-sense view of not spending more than you take in to the idea that to put any brakes on spending is starving children, throwing the elderly out into the street, not “caring,” etc.

    Thus we see that spending does influence how people vote because they sure as hell aren’t voting for the fiscal conservatives. This all becomes a twisted and confused dynamic wherein it’s possible even for brilliant fellows such as yourself to overlook the very playing field we are all standing in right now.

    The only practical difference between the two parties is that one wants to spend more than the other. But we, and the parties, are now hooked together into a death spiral (a train wreck) of spending. It would not due to say that because one votes for Republicans that one’s vote therefore isn’t influenced by spending. This is so because both parties are big-spending parties. It gets so bizarre (like Charles Krauthammer). Our last GOP gubernatorial candidate in Washington State, for example ran, in part, on the need for “early childhood education.”

    We’re screwed. We are now thoroughly locked into the mindset that the state is our provider. The last guy who tried to put some kind of limit on spending (Ted Cruz) was roundly criticized and seen by most as a bad guy. That shows you just who is hard-wired to votes-for-free-stuff.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      My point isn’t that receiving government money never influences voters, but that it doesn’t always. My housemate is 72 and is on Social Security and Medicare (as I will be at some point), but she has a strong libertarian bent and preferred Rand Paul to Trey Grayson in the 2010 primary. (I voted for Grayson, but after Paul’s RNC speech I told her she’d been right.) To be sure, she probably wouldn’t vote for someone who would take those away from her, but that doesn’t mean that she can’t support reforms of these programs. For example, I think the slow raising of the age at which full Social Security benefits come in should have been raised more than it was, and still should be (perhaps raising it by a month each year), even though this would delay their availability to me.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        You are, of course, right. There are always exceptions to the rule. And your housemate sounds like an extraordinary person. I know a few of those type in real life and they are a pleasure to meet. But I have to confess that I just talked to this great “conservative” friend the other day who basically turned down a job offer to go on food stamps. He came to my office and told me and I think was looking for approval. I just smiled and said as little as possible.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          I can understand someone going on food stamps out of necessity. In fact, a friend of mine (again, one with a strong libertarian-to-conservative bent, though the fact that his first choice in 2012 was Sarah Palin if she ran, and that he preferred Newt Gingrich among those who did — to a great extent because of the latter’s Conservative Opportunity Society speech at an SF convention — might make you wonder about the libertarian part) is likely to on disability and food stamps because he lost his job and doesn’t think he could get hired due to serious health issues stemming from his stroke in February 2012 (actually, we’re amazed he was able to keep a job as long as he did).

          But it’s another thing to choose the welfare system over work. So far, I’ve been lucky enough that I know of no one who has definitely made that choice.

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            Timothy, I would beg for food before going on food stamps. I would show up at the church soup kitchens. I would have meals with friends and family. But I’ll be god damned if I’ll ever get on the dole.

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