Southern Man

Friday, January 31, 2014

Income Inequity

There has been much wailing and moaning and gnashing of teeth of late about "income inequity" or the idea that some people having more money than others is a Very Bad Thing. Southern Man will now explain why income inequity is inevitable and why you shouldn't worry about it and why it is actually a Good Thing.

Capitalism and free enterprise are the greatest engines of wealth that the world has ever seen. They are engines of wealth because they enable people to provide goods and services that other people want. And even in their highly regulated and overly taxed form here in the good old United States of America capitalism and free enterprise are the means by which anyone - anyone - can better their lot in life.

Case Study 1: Some dude named Wayne, the son of Oklahoma sharecroppers, thinks that people need places to store their stuff. He leases some land and puts up some sheds. He was right - people will gladly pay him for storage. He now has thousands of buildings and is worth millions of dollars. His thoughts? You can get money if you're smart or work hard. I'm not smart, but I worked hard. Full story here.

Case Study 2: Some other dude named Bill drops out of school to implement a programming language (BASIC) for an early microcomputer (the Altair 8800).

You don't even know how to turn it on, much less program it.

It's successful enough that he and a friend hire some other dudes and start a company that they call Micro-Soft and write a lot of other software. A lot of that software was for an operating system called QDOS. When Bill learned that IBM was shopping for an OS for their upcoming line of personal computers he took a chance, borrowed a stack of cash, bought QDOS, and marketed it to IBM. Now we all run Windows.

Case Study 3: Yet another dude who goes by the handle of Southern Man had this notion (back in the early nineties) that he can buy components and build PCs and sell them for a lot less than the stores were charging and still turn a tidy profit. He's right and he builds and sells (and buys at auction and refurbishes and sells) thousands of desktop computers. After a while desktop computers become commodities and he closes the business but not before it paid for ten acres of land and two (used) cars and countless tanks of gas and trunkloads of groceries and many many thousands of dollars in taxes.

Case Study 4: Southern Man's neighbor José worked his ass off mowing lawns in the summer. Pretty soon he has more clients than he can service so he buys a couple of used lawn mowers and hires a couple of other dudes to help him out. Now forty guys drive around in green F-150s with "José's Lawn Service" painted on the side while José sits in the office and works the phones drumming up more business.

That's actually pretty typical of how people gain wealth: they have ideas about goods or services that people might want, they put those ideas into action, and sometimes it takes off. However, apparently Wayne and Bill (to pick on the big winners) are EVIL because they now have all this money. It does not occur to critics that they have all this money because they produced goods and services that people want. It also does not occur to these people that Wayne and Bill have created countles jobs and pay enormous amounts in income tax that support all of the social programs that are so precious to their critics. And that's not to say that Southern Man and José aren't doing well, either. Southern Man has ten acres of land, paid for, and José has a new mini-mansion just up the road. On the world income scale we're both one-percenters by comfortable margins. And we did it by figuring out what people would pay for and providing it.

According to the Global Rich List if you make 25K per year in the USA you're in the top 2% of global incomes.

In other words: capitalism and free markets provide the goods and services that we crave, and income inequity is an inevitable result of those very same free markets.

You may argue that these guys were fortunate and lucky and privileged and not like the rest of us. To some extent, yes. Bill, for example, was born of relatively wealthy parents (he borrowed the money for QDOS from his dad) and had opportunities that many of us do not. The same goes for Southern Man. But Wayne, the son of sharecroppers? Nope. José, who never finished high school? Nope. These guys got where they were by sheer hard work and determination in a country where hard work and determination can result in great rewards. Southern Man spells out his privileges this way: born in the USA (which is like winning the birthright lottery, right there) to parents who stayed together, raised him in the church, taught him the value of both education and hard work, and made sure he had a shot at college. Not everyone was as lucky as he. And not everyone avails themselves of the opportunities that they had (Southern Son comes to mind) and Southern Man is fortunate that he did. And not everyone is really aware of how the system works - the über-liberal Southern Sister, for example, who rails against the evils of income inequity and the injustice inherent in our economic system but who recently borrowed money (capitalism) to open a coffee shop (free enterprise) so that she could (surprise!) convert her ideas and industry into more stuff for her and her family. For all its faults, we do have an economic system in which everyone - everyone - has a shot at becoming more than they are.

Now Southern Man will argue that income inequity really doesnt matter because we have for the last fifty years fought the War on Poverty and we've won. Poverty has been largely eradicated in the First World. And by that Southern Man means that most "poor" people live in constructed homes with indoor plumbing and running water and electricity and refrigerators. Not to mention cable television and cell phones and cars. To call them "poor" is a grave offense to the few who are truly poor - who sleep rough, who have no idea where they will get their next meal, who have no access to medical care. Fortunately, to be truly poor in the First World is increasingly rare. The First World has performed a miracle - in their corner of the globe, for the first time in human history, almost everyone is pretty well off. And they are pretty well off because of the wealth produced by capitalism and free markets. In other words, income inequity is the rising tide that lifts everyone's boat.

It didn't used to be that way.

How did they know he was a king? Because he wasn't covered with sh*t!

So it doen't matter to Southern Man that Bill has ten thousand times as much money as he. Is Bill's water ten thousand times as pure? Is his gasoline ten thousand times better? Bill may drive a Mercedes and Southern Man a Hyundai but we drive on the same roads and burn the same gas. Is his health care ten thousand times as effective? Truth is, had Bill broken his leg while in Southern City he might well have ended up with the same surgeon as Southern Man. Bill may live in the House Of 95 Windows and Southern Man bunks in The Trailer but we both sleep with equal comfort at night; he may dine at $300-per-plate eateries but his meal is not that much better than a good $12 steak at Chili's.

So stop fretting about income inequity. It's inevitable and does a world of good through goods and services and taxes that we wouldn't otherwise have. Except to liberals who erroneously believe that income is a zero-sum game and sing "tax the rich, feed the poor, until there are no rich no more." 'Cause then we'll all be poor. Southern Man suspects that's what they really want.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Back To The Future

Why, yes, we are that old.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

SOTU 2014

An emperor with no clothes addressing a parliament of whores.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Family Fun

A few random family photos...

Teen Daughter by the gazebo at the Ancestral Manor.

Southern Cousin watches as Teen Daughter launches into a cartwheel.

Southern Father contemplates his firewood stash.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Friday Morning Trance

So Southern Man arrives at the high school for his early-morning concurrent-enrollment Astronomy course only to find that the public schools were cancelled because of - cold. They sure didn't do that back when he was a lad. So instead of teaching this morning Southern Man is scouring the web for the morning's entertainment and came up with some trance music by French composer VJ Aurel set to a mash-up of footage from dozens of science fiction films from the past several decades.

Hat tip to Optimal Human Modulation.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


What used to be a 19 oz can is now a 14 oz can. Same price. Same spot on the shelf. No warning that we now get a third less chili for our money.

Tragically, this is "lunch" most days at the office.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Birthday Girl

Southern Man's colleague Mary (the same girl who treated us to lunch the other day) celebrated her sixtieth birthday today.

The Birthday Girl.

Let Them Eat Cake!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Gun Range

Today a bunch of the church singles met at the gun range for an afternoon of high velocity gunpowder-propelled cordite-scented fun.

Yes, these are all ours, all the way back to Southern Man's crutches.

Little Jeri brought her own.

Jeri puts a through few her pistol.

Big Jacob shoots the little five-cylinder .38.

Southern Man spent most of the day on the bolt-action Russian Peasant Rifle...

...which has but a five-round internal magazine so he spent a lot of time reloading those big 7.62x54 bullets.

Joy and the Škorpion.

On the firing line.

Happiness is a warm gun...

...with a drum magazine...

Jon does some coaching.

At the gun range? Really?

Jon shoots the SKS.

Jacob takes a turn. Southern Man also shot it and the Škorpion, meaning that he fired only commie guns all day.

Manly Men Shooting Manly Guns. Looks like the Mosin-Nagant and Jon's new H&K.

There is nothing quite as much fun as expending ammunition with your friends!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Getting Ready

With the start of classes next week today was a busy day of meetings and preparations and a little fun.

After some morning meetings Southern Man slipped off for lunch and a little geocaching in this lovely park.

The hiding spot is clearly visible. Can you see it?

The afternoon meeting was "Faculty Development" courtesy of our local Center for Teaching and Learning. All those CTL people are a little nuts and they had us write a bunch of stuff on cards and construct a "Bridge to Success" for our incoming students. It was actually kind of fun.

Yes, this is what "faculty development" looks like.

And then was the somewhat winter-weather-delayed opening of the brand new performing arts center (it turns out that you just can not pour concrete when it's below freezing) where Southern Man was delighted to see local guitarist Edgar Cruz performing in the lobby.

Not everyone can pull off classic Yes the way Edgar can.

Except of course Steve Howe himself.

Southern Man is still highly dependent on the crutches and hopes that the healing will commence. Soon!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Lunch Surprise

So this is the week of meetings and meetings and more meetings but after one of the meetings most of the CS faculty decided to go out to lunch. And lo and behold one of our number (the redhead two girls to the right of Southern Man), who is retiring, paid for everyone.

Thanks, Mary!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Weekend Update

And it is a busy one with Teen Daughter in town, plus the monthly geocacher's lunch and Christian dance.

On Friday Southern Man zoomed up the turnpike to fetch Teen Daughter from her mother. As always she chatted and sang all the way back. We ended up at the mall for dinner and a scary movie.

Teen Daughter knows all of these movies by heart and was quick to identify references to previous films when she wasn't cowering under Southern Man's jacket.

Saturday morning was our monthly geocacher's luncheon.

A festive gathering.

Our luncheon hostess (on the left, who caches under the name "Prairie Gypsies") and part of her gang; Southern Man cached with her after the November meeting a few months ago.

Our youngest member.

This gentleman, a retired professor of biology, caches under the name "Dr. Scissortail."

Southern Man geocaches under a game name he picked up long, long ago that would also have been the name of this blog if the URL hadn't already been taken.

He then zoomed over to the Ancestral Manor for an afternoon of fun and shopping and games and shopping and eating and more shopping with Teen Daughter and Southern Son. Then it was time to head over to the Christian Dance, where Southern Man is in charge of the Bible Trivia as well as casual photography...

Our lovely hostess and her boyfriend. Southern Man works tirelessly to keep them together.

On the dance floor...

"Hey, I ordered this coffee black!"

Queens of the Dance.

A lovely couple.

Disco Lights!

Our DJ hard at work.

Don't hate me just 'cause I Dougie better than you...

Drawing for door prizes.

And the winner is...

And Sunday was Bible Study and lunch and a birthday party for Southern Nephew (with Dr. Who videos!) and then the brief drive back up the turnpike to return Teen Daughter to her mother. As always she chatted and sang all the way there. And Then Southern Man went home to feed his throbbing leg a couple of pain pills and a stout 'rita. But it has been a great weekend. Tomorrow it's back to work...

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Hazy Shade Of Winter

Monday, January 06, 2014

Requiem for Stella

After a long illness Stella has moved to that great Dog Park In The Sky.

Stella was a Good Dog. Photo by Southern Sister.

As the Official Dog of Southern Man Blog Stella can also be seen here, here, here, and here.

A Minor Setback

So Southern Man was getting along well enough without the rental crutches that he turned them in late last week. Then today he reported to the Bone Doc this morning for a checkup and to have the staples from the incision removed. Which hurt, a lot. Sadly Southern Man was unable to get a copy of the new x-rays, which are pretty cool as they show the plate and screws, five short ones in the fibula and two long ones that go all the way through the fibula and into the tibia. And then we had the following conversation:
Bone Doc: Where are your crutches?
Southern Man: I didn't think I needed them anymore so I returned them.
Bone Doc: Where's your boot?
Southern Man: You didn't put one on me.
Bone Doc: (sighs, installs boot) Go get your crutches.
So Southern Man now has a boot on his foot with strict orders to leave it on and is back on the crutches with strict orders to use them. But he also has refills on his pain meds.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Coffee and Geocaching

A clear and bright (if cool) Saturday began with our monthly gathering for breakfast and coffee and fellowship...

Looks like the Christmas stockings are still up...

In The Kitchen...

A lovely couple...

The Boys...

After breakfast Southern Man and the son of one of the guests slipped out to do a little geocaching.

Signing the log...

Southern Man then dropped by the Ancestral Manor for lunch and laundry and a shower and a bit of running round with Southern Son and by the time we were done the expected cold front had moved in so Southern Man went home and turned on all the heaters and relaxed for the rest of the day. Well, as much as that throbbing foot will let him. Let the healing continue!