Decorating Inspiration

Decorating Inspiration

Often times, a person will walk into a room and be filled with a certain emotion or feeling. Sometimes this is because of the people in the room and how they are acting, whether they are silent or loud or they are laughing or crying. Other times it is because of the room itself. The use of different colors, patterns, shapes and other aspects in the decor of a room can evoke certain emotions from people I asked for western decorating ideas. I recently switched rooms in my home and I now realize the impact that room decor can have on a person.

Throughout my first three years of high school, I went through a slight depression and I didn’t know why. I was having enough success in academics and athletics and I had plenty of friends, but something just made me feel gloomy and alone whenever I was at home. After school every day, I would go into my room and lay in my bed or sit at my desk if I had homework and I was just upset. I would look around at the dark blue walls and I would try to fix the lights that stopped working and I wouldn’t figure it out, which only made me more upset. I didn’t realize it at the time, but the darkness of my room enhanced my depression to an outstanding degree.

Due to some remodeling in my home, I switched rooms senior year. It wasn’t until the switch was made that I realized how much a bedroom could impact someone’s life. My new room has light gray walls with maroon curtains and bedding. This change in paint color along with the new decorations on my walls have helped to brighten my mood. The addition of pictures of my family, friends, and some accomplishments I’ve made have completely rid me of my depression and I am truly happy for the first time in a while.

I would never have thought that the decoration in a room could change a person’s view of life until I experienced this change. The use of certain room decoration can literally change someone’s life for the better.

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The Unworthy Poor

The Unworthy Poor

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney remarked recently that, as president, he would focus on the problems of the great bulk of the American people rather than on the very poor, who enjoyed a “safety net.” Since Governor Romney seemed to think that the very poor, plus perhaps the very rich, constituted maybe 5% of the population, one might parse his comments to mean that he was thinking of disabled people of working age. That did not prevent his opponents from taking the occasion to portray him on one hand as a neo-Social Darwinist who hoped that the poor would die in the snow to reduce the surplus population and on the other as a guardian of the welfare state who believed that the 20th-century social safety net was sustainable and desirable. Frankly, the governor’s remarks were plainly made off the top of his head, and cannot reasonably be used to ascertain anything he might think about social policy in general or the care of the poor in particular. Such remarks are best used as hooks to hang speculation about points the governor might have made had he had any interest in the matter.

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Editorial Note: Readers will have noted that although Mr. Romney has not been governor of anything for some time, he is nonetheless referred to as “Governor” above. The usage conforms to this blog’s policy of encouraging the restoration of honorifics before surnames in public discourse; it is good practice to normally refer to people who have held important public office with their last title. So, even people who are no longer associated with pubic institutions should still be referred to as “Senator,” Ambassador,” or “Prisoner 6754Xc5,” as the case may be.

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As a rule, the people who care about the poor really should not design public institutions with them in mind. When you do, the result is often public services fit for indigents.

The most conspicuous example of this is mass-transportation policy. There is an argument to be made that rail-based urban transportation is not particularly efficient, but the fact is that people like trains. At any rate, people in nice suits can tolerate getting into a train or trolley in a suburb in the morning to come to a city center. Buses, on the other hand, tend to become a filter against the bourgeois. Middle-class people will take them out of necessity, but not after they can afford not to. Good transportation systems, in the sense of systems that are reasonably comfortable to use, do not force this choice. They are designed for the respectable; the unworthy benefit as an afterthought.

The same principle applies to health care systems and education. Governments might, for budgetary or cultural reasons, decide that these things should normally be provided by the market, with a public “safety-net” for people the market can’t serve. That decision means that you have decided to tolerate the formation of social castes. By and by, you will discover that the lower caste is not going to be frictionally small. It is going to be a large part, perhaps a plurality, of a society that is intransitive, not of a piece, whose members identify horizontally rather than vertically.

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The Next American Nation by Michael Lind is a book I reviewed 17 years ago. (17 years!?!) Though I did not and don’t find the author’s views ideologically congenial, nonetheless the book is has held up depressingly well as description, if not necessarily as forecast. American “elites” really did decide at some point in the 1970s for efficiency over solidarity, with what results we see in the decline in income equality and the redistribution of insecurity downward.

“Elite” has to go into scare quotes. The search for the Responsible Parties tends to degenerate into political sloganeering. The silliest slogan is perhaps the Occupy Movement’s villainous 1%; to the extent, you can use the term “class” here, the group in question is more like 20%, and the Occupiers are members of it. Lind’s depiction of the Overclass is a better approximation in terms of size and ideology, but his model is still “populist.” He still assumes the existence of a people whose virtue is being outraged. Furthermore, his view of the Overclass may need updating.

Perhaps a more recent book I should read is Charles Murray’s Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010, which apparently deals with many of the issues in the Lind book (no honorific needed: “Lind” is an adjective here). I know the book only from reviews and editorials, like this one from David Brooks

Roughly 7 percent of the white kids in the upper tribe are born out of wedlock, compared with roughly 45 percent of the kids in the lower tribe. In the upper tribe, nearly every man aged 30 to 49 is in the labor force. In the lower tribe, men in their prime working ages have been steadily dropping out of the labor force, in good times and bad….People in the lower tribe are much less likely to get married, less likely to go to church, less likely to be active in their communities, more likely to watch TV excessively, more likely to be obese…Murray’s story contradicts the ideologies of both parties. Republicans claim that America is threatened by a decadent cultural elite that corrupts regular Americans, who love God, country and traditional values. That story is false. The cultural elites live more conservative, traditionalist lives than the cultural masses…The truth is, members of the upper tribe have made themselves phenomenally productive. They may mimic bohemian manners, but they have returned to 1950s traditionalist values and practices. They have low divorce rates, arduous work ethics and strict codes to regulate their kids…Members of the lower tribe work hard and dream big, but are more removed from traditional bourgeois norms. They live in disorganized, postmodern neighborhoods in which it is much harder to be self-disciplined and productive.

The proportions of the total population in the upper group is about 20%, in the lower about 30%. Again, we are to some extent just seeing the return of older social patterns. In 18th-century England, there was a similar tendency for the lower orders (a majority of the population) to have informal family structures, only spotty connection with organized religion, and regrettable personal habits that involved gin, a cowboy rug,  and communicable diseases. Their betters, fearing with some reason their servants might murder them in their beds if they did not take matters in hand, then undertook to make cosmic busybodies of themselves in terms of social reform. By the middle of the 20th century, the campaign had produced remarkably egalitarian societies with high political morale. Within two decades the elites relaxed, perhaps believing that Spanish-speaking servants will be better behaved.

This attitude of nonchalance may not wholly misplaced. A less labor-intensive society does not require such a self-disciplined working class, particularly if the upper caste is large in absolute terms.

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Where does this all lead? If you believe the Roman analogy, we are almost due for something like a post-Gracchan Restoration, which was a revolution tricked out as a conservative reaction. (The constitutional gimcrackery advocated by so much of the American Right smacks of what Sulla did to the Republican Constitution somewhat later.) Such events are nominally conservative, but they are in fact a case of one faction of Optimates leapfrogging over another.

So here is a paradox for the 2012 election: President Obama could be the forlorn conservative, standing astride the train tracks of history and crying “Halt!” to the Spengler Express.… Read the rest

The State of the Tribulation Address

The State of the Tribulation Address

Perhaps only two-thirds of the nation were able to receive President Obama’s last State of the Union Address on Tuesday, January 24, in real time. Much of the electrical grid collapsed during the extraordinary solar storm of that day and the preceding day; elsewhere, cable or satellite transmission failed. Even where the president could be heard, the video component was often not available, or it was a flickering kaleidoscopic pattern of interrupted digital transmission. Many stations that could not provide video chose to display the rolling Aurora then visible over the cityscape of the local metropolis. In any case, one way or another, the whole nation had seen or read the president’s address by Friday:

My fellow Americans, I come to you tonight with the most grievous message that will ever be delivered by an incumbent of this office. I say this with sad confidence, because the sorrows that occurred in my predecessors’ times are already known, and I will have no successors.My fellow Americans, for some years the government of the United States, and the governments of other advanced nations, has possessed information indicating that hitherto poorly understood cosmological forces would soon trigger a mass extinction comparable to the Permian-Triassic Event of a quarter-billion years ago, a far more devastating disaster than the catastrophe that destroyed the dinosaurs 65-million years ago. The theoretical issues connected with this hypothesis were resolved in 2010; empirical study confirmed last summer that the process has in fact begun. I come before you tonight to announce that it will be completed in the final weeks of this year.

My fellow Americans, it is very unlikely that I will be living this time next year; I intend to remain resident in the White House no matter the course of events, though we know that the very shape of the continents will change. Similarly, very few of those listening to me tonight have as much as a year to live. But not none. I will now explain the transnational project to ensure that not just the human race but civilization survives, and also what steps government at all levels, and you yourselves, will be taking to offer some hope of survival outside that great effort….

It was an unusually long address, substantially over an hour. While the president spoke, there was not so much as a cough in the House chamber. When he was finished, he rose, gathered his papers, and walked up the aisle out of the unbroken silence.

The Final Address was much discussed in the following days. The odd thing was that there continued to be other topics of discussion. As it was in the days of Noah, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, even though this time they were very well informed about the Flood, and even though signs multiplied whose significance people understood very well.

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Not least of these signs was a column by an exasperated Mark Steyn about an encounter with the American health insurance system, a column in which words occur that one would expect to come only from the mouth of some spine-softened evangelist for the Servile State:

I notice when you’re standing in line that the big difference between a trip to the pharmacy in the U.S. and one in the rest of the developed world is that in America the druggists spend virtually their entire time talking about not the medicine but the “customer”‘s degree of access to it.

As is so often the case with that’s-the-last-straw stories about the American medical industry, Mr. Steyn here had been acting as an advocate for a friend or relative; this one had become critically ill and then discovered that she had fallen between two stools when her employer changed medical plans. He does not, on this occasion, dwell at length about how public health systems infantalize their users. He does say this:

I don’t quite know what you’d call these rituals, but the term “private health-care system” doesn’t seem the most obvious fit. Indeed, as in so many other areas of American life — the Fannie-Freddied mortgage market, the six-figure college education — the main purpose of these dysfunctional labyrinths ever more disconnected from any genuinely free market seems to be to discredit the very concept of a “private” system and thus soften up the electorate for statist fixes.

The Soviet-era Left had a falsifiability problem. No matter how awful the Soviet Union or the People’s Republic of China or Kampuchea or Albania might be, you could always say that none of these was an example of “real socialism.” As the list of unsatisfactory Communists states lengthened, however, you eventually reached a point where it seemed that any actual Communist state would be unsatisfactory by the mere fact of existing. In the matter of health systems, the one in the US is the only example of a “real, existing” private health system in the developed world. If it’s a “private” system only with scare-quotes, then where do we look for the real thing?

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Many reads of this space, particularly those involved in international finance, were pleased to see the return to strong growth that China reported around the end of 2011. But then there were spoil-sports like Ambrose Pritchard going on about China’s Very Mysterious Data:

I could not help noticing that China’s imports from Japan fell 16.2pc in December. Imports from Taiwan fell 6.2pc. [Graphs Omitted.]The Shanghai Container Freight Index fell 1.4pc to a record low of 919.44 in November, after sliding relentlessly for several months. It has picked up slightly since. The Baltic Dry Index measuring freight rates for ores, grains, and bulk goods, has fallen 44pc over the last year. Kasper Moller from Maersk in Beijing said weak Chinese demand for iron ore was the key culprit…rail, road, river and air freight volume for the whole of China fell to 31780m tons in November (latest data), from 32340m tons in October. Not a big fall, but still negative…So how did China pull off an economic growth rate of 8.9pc in the fourth quarter?

As we have noted here before, it’s a bit unfair to criticize official Chinese economic statistics. They are planning devices, not empirical observations. They are always fulfilled; there is always some way to move funds around in a way that registers as the mandated degree of growth.

One of these days, that point is going to sink in elsewhere in the world. As we have also noted here, the effect will be rather like what happens when Wyle E. Coyote finally acknowledges the fact he has not been running on the cliff for several seconds.

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Despite the fact that the earth’s crust will fracture before the next presidential term can begin, we may at least take comfort in the fact that Mitt Romney is all but assured of winning the upcoming election. The Onion itself reports on growing Romneymania:

“The raw energy and enthusiasm Mitt Romney stirs inside people is like nothing I’ve ever seen,” Youngstown, OH auto mechanic Chris Ritenour said Wednesday. “Everything he says resonates with Americans. His moving story of growing up privileged, his inspiring rise from moderate wealth to overwhelming riches, his thrilling work in the highest echelons of corporate finance–he really speaks to the heart and mind of the common man.”

Do not underestimate the likes of Mitt Romney; the future could well belong to them. He is the Fossil American, the end result of a process that turned the entrepreneurial frontiersman into the pure manager. This final form, unlike its Affluent Society technocratic predecessor, incorporates a great deal of America’s Masonically tinged spirituality, as well as a sincere and powerful sense of the public good, understood as the seemly grace of private fortune. His motives are, colorably, fundamentally dynastic, which is the best motivation to be hoped for in the age of the eclipse of the nation. Such people are authentically transnationalist in a way that the exotic late-liberal fauna of the charitable foundations and NGOs never were. Like his cousins in Mexico, he is comfortable with being an element of a gentry caste which is ethnically and linguistically diverse from the lower strata of society, but from which it is by no means segregated or impervious to rising talent.

In The Hour of Decision, written in the depths of the last Great Depression and published just after the Nazis came to power, Oswald Spengler reviewed the political classes of the major Western countries and considered whether they could reform themselves into becoming ruling class fit for the mature phase of Western Civilization. About America and its money-mad, “intellectually primitive upper classes” Oswald had grave doubts, but then he was a Gloomy Gus.

Romney is scarcely a proto-Caesar, of course. He is not going to be elected anything if he does not stop offering to fire people.… Read the rest