Take & Take

Dogs fighting over ropeGovernment by the people is the ultimate DIY enterprise. Mainly, we benefit each other by taking turns. Conservatives are people who, for whatever reason, do not know where their interests lie. And, having no basis for comparison, aren’t able to divine others’ interests either. They are self-centered without being self-aware. From a societal perspective, they probably exist to be recipients of other people’s creative ministrations. After all, for the shoemaker to perfect his craft and experiment with style and design and criteria of comfort, he needs people other than himself to use his product.

Give and take. In the natural order of events, the giving comes first. However, self-centered people don’t perceive that. Perhaps that’s why classical economic theory starts from the assumption that trade and exchange is initiated by demand. This is nonsensical, since it is not possible to demand what doesn’t already exist. (It might be noteworthy that ExxonMobil has been running an ad to promote fracking for natural gas by asserting that “all it takes is the idea” to have enough energy “for a hundred years”). This misordering of events (which comes first and which comes second) apparently persists in the thinking of many people and presumably accounts, for the common injunction that it is up to the buyer to be wary of what he buys and to know what he’s getting — another logical impossibility. We can’t know before we experience. We can only expect and what we expect is not necessarily what we get.

All of these fine distinctions rely on the ability to perceive time as a linear process and remember the sequence of events. That is, it requires a sense of time and not everyone has that. Some people have no sense of past, present and future being distinct entities. They exist in an ineffable present where expectation and experience are one big muddle around an unstable center. It’s no wonder such people are discombobulated and insecure and want nothing more than that the familiar stay the same. Change is a disaster for them.

How can you take turns when you don’t know what time it is? How can you delay gratification when there is no future? How do such people even function? By responding to prompts and following their basic instincts –like a dog getting into its cage, regardless of whether it’s in the garage or on top of the car. If they thought about it, they’d know better.

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Monica Smith

Monica Smith writes Hannah's Blog. Born in Germany, she came to the United States as a child, living first in California, then after an interval in Chile, in New York. Married to a retired professor at the University of Florida, where she lived for 17 years, she moved to St. Simons Island, Georgia, in 1993 and now divides her time between Georgia and New Hampshire. (New Hampshire, she says, is always interesting during a presidential election.) She and her husband have three children and five grandchildren. Ms. Smith says she "learned long ago that I am not a good team player when I got hired at the Library of Congress, fresh out of college with a degree in political science and proficiency in four foreign languages, to 'edit' library cards and informed my supervisor that if she was going to insist I punch the clock exactly on time, my productivity was going to fall from being the highest to being the same as everyone else's. The supervisor opted to assign me to another building where there was no time-clock. After I had the first of our three children, I decided a paycheck wasn't worth the hassle."