Thorstein Veblen Was A Real Party Animal.

Thorstein Veblen, cranking off a marley.

Thorstein Veblen is famous for two things – inventing the beer bong and writing “The Theory of the Leisure Class.” He also invented the slotted spoon as a way to help people lose weight and coined the term “conspicuous consumption” which is a fancy way of saying “potlatch.”

Thorstein Veblen’s Theory of the Leisure Class—A Status Update

I was bewildered when I encountered a new social class at Yale four years ago: the luxury belief class. My confusion wasn’t surprising given my unusual background. When I was two years old, my mother was addicted to drugs and my father abandoned us. I grew up in multiple foster homes, was then adopted into a series of broken homes, and then experienced a series of family tragedies. Later, after a few years in the military, I went to Yale on the GI Bill. On campus, I realized that luxury beliefs have become fashionable status symbols. Luxury beliefs are ideas and opinions that confer status on the rich at very little cost, while taking a toll on the lower class.

In the past, people displayed their membership of the upper class with their material accoutrements. But today, luxury goods are more affordable than before. And people are less likely to receive validation for the material items they display. This is a problem for the affluent, who still want to broadcast their high social position. But they have come up with a clever solution. The affluent have decoupled social status from goods, and re-attached it to beliefs.

Human beings become more preoccupied with social status once our physical needs are met. In fact, research reveals that sociometric status (respect and admiration from peers) is more important for well-being than socioeconomic status. Furthermore, studies have shown that negative social judgment is associated with a spike in cortisol (hormone linked to stress) that is three times higher than non-social stressful situations. We feel pressure to build and maintain social status, and fear losing it.

It seems reasonable to think that the downtrodden might be most interested in obtaining status and money. But this is not the case. Inhabitants of prestigious institutions are even more interested than others in prestige and wealth. For many of them, that drive is how they reached their lofty positions in the first place. Fueling this interest, they’re surrounded by people just like them—their peers and competitors are also intelligent status-seekers. They persistently look for new ways to move upward and avoid moving downward. The French sociologist Émile Durkheim understood this when he wrote, “The more one has, the more one wants, since satisfactions received only stimulate instead of filling needs.” And indeed, a recent piece of research supports this: it is the upper class who are the most preoccupied with gaining wealth and status. In their paper, the researchers conclude, “relative to lower-class individuals, upper-class individuals have a greater desire for wealth and status…it is those who have more to start with (i.e., upper-class individuals) who also strive to acquire more wealth and status.” Plainly, high-status people desire status more than anyone else.


Veblen proposed that the wealthy flaunt these symbols not because they are useful, but because they are so pricey or wasteful that only the wealthy can afford them, which is why they’re high-status indicators. And this still goes on. A couple of winters ago it was common to see students at Yale and Harvard wearing Canada Goose jackets. Is it necessary to spend $900 to stay warm in New England? No. But kids weren’t spending their parents’ money just for the warmth. They were spending the equivalent of the typical American’s weekly income ($865) for the logo. Likewise, are students spending $250,000 at prestigious universities for the education? Maybe. But they are also spending it for the logo.

This is not to say that elite colleges don’t educate their students, or that Canada Goose jackets don’t keep their wearers warm. But top universities are also crucial for induction into the luxury belief class. Take vocabulary. Your typical middle-class American could not tell you what “heteronormative” or “cisgender” means. But if you visit Harvard, you’ll find plenty of rich 19-year-olds who will eagerly explain them to you. When someone uses the phrase “cultural appropriation,” what they are really saying is “I was educated at a top college.” Consider the Veblen quote, “Refined tastes, manners, habits of life are a useful evidence of gentility, because good breeding requires time, application and expense, and can therefore not be compassed by those whose time and energy are taken up with work.” Only the affluent can afford to learn strange vocabulary because ordinary people have real problems to worry about.

The chief purpose of luxury beliefs is to indicate evidence of the believer’s social class and education. Only academics educated at elite institutions could have conjured up a coherent and reasonable-sounding argument for why parents should not be allowed to raise their kids, and should hold baby lotteries instead. When an affluent person advocates for drug legalization, or anti-vaccination policies, or open borders, or loose sexual norms, or uses the term “white privilege,” they are engaging in a status display. They are trying to tell you, “I am a member of the upper class.”

Well, this theory about “luxury beliefs” sure does explain why Leftists are so gung ho for tranny rights. It also explains their obsession with global warming as well as odd practices like vaginal steaming, social justice, and listening to the music of Nickelback.

Native American Indian tribes of the American northwest gave us potlatch:

A potlatch involves giving away or destroying wealth or valuable items in order to demonstrate a leader’s wealth and power.

Obama gave us 8 years of potlatch, only he wasn’t giving away his own money. Biracist Colin Kaepernick conspicuously consumed his own career to prove that black people are oppressed in America. Democrats want to empty out all of our prisons and tell the cops to stop arresting people, but Democrat leaders live in gated communities that are unlikely to see the crime tsunami that would follow mass prison releases.

This might even explain why we subsidize the cost of housing for poor people in places like San Francisco. Wealthy Leftists need somebody around that they can sneer at.

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Another Saturday Night And I Ain’t Got Nobody Open Thread

Elizabeth Warren’s first foray into politics took place in 1961 when she ran for student council. She received 1 vote.

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F.O.O.T This S.C.H.I.F.F.T

We are here. Happy Weekend everyone. Open Thread.

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Boomer Bust – The Wasted Generation

Irony: The generation that said “I hope I die before I get old” has gotten old.

According to Wikipedia, these are the generations of the 20th Century:

Lost Generation
Greatest Generation
Silent Generation
Baby Boomers
Generation X
Generation Z

Here is what they had to say about the Baby Boomers:

Baby boomers (also known as boomers) are the demographic cohort following the Silent Generation and preceding Generation X. The Baby Boom generation is most often defined as those individuals born between 1946 and 1964.

In Western Europe and North America, boomers are widely associated with privilege, as many grew up during a period of increasing affluence due in part to widespread post-war government subsidies in housing and education. As a group, baby boomers were wealthier, more active and more physically fit than any preceding generation and were the first to grow up genuinely expecting the world to improve with time. They were also the generation that reached peak levels of income in the workplace and could, therefore, enjoy the benefits of abundant food, clothing, retirement programs, and even “midlife-crisis” products.[clarification needed] However, this generation also has been criticized often for its increases in consumerism which others saw as excessive.

The boomers have tended to think of themselves as a special generation, very different from preceding and subsequent generations. In the 1960s and 1970s, as a relatively large number of young people entered their late teens—the oldest turned 18 in 1964—they, and those around them, created a very specific rhetoric around their cohort and the changes brought about by their size in numbers. This rhetoric had an important impact in the self-perceptions of the boomers, as well as their tendency to define the world in terms of generations, which was a relatively new phenomenon. The baby boom has been described variously as a “shockwave” and as “the pig in the python”.

I was born in 1960, which makes me a Boomer. Most or all of us here are Boomers or come pretty darn close. I saw something once that referred to boomers as the “born to matter” generation. We were the first generation raised to believe that we were going to change the world. We were a generation of idealists. We were also the first generation raised on television.

But what have Boomers accomplished?

Most of the big events in our lives were not of our doing. JFK is often associated with Boomers, but he was part of the Greatest Generation, as were RFK and MLK. Their assassins were pre-Boomers as well. Boomers watched a man walk on the moon, but they didn’t put him there. The Boomers had Woodstock, but Rock & Roll music wasn’t invented by the Boomers. Neither were computers.

The Civil Rights Movement wasn’t ours. Some of us participated in Women’s Liberation, but the leaders of that movement were from an earlier generation. Lots of Boomers fought in Vietnam, and still more protested the war, but serving in Vietnam was more something that we endured rather than something we accomplished, and the effect of the antiwar protests is debatable and they were not exclusive to Boomers.

So what have Boomers accomplished? Not much.

As a group we are wealthier than our predecessors, but how much of that prosperity was due to being lucky to live in a prosperous age? We grew up prosperous too, but while some of us got richer, the inequality between rich and poor has grown during our lifetimes.

There have been four Boomer Presidents – Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump. At least three of those men will not be considered “great” presidents. Clinton and Obama ran “change” campaigns specifically designed to appeal to the idealism of Boomers. What memorable and lasting legislation did Boomers produce? What government programs did we create? What have we done with government except watch it bloat?

Our generation made “party” into a verb and changed the rules of sexual behavior. The results of this liberalization of morality include AIDS, a herpes epidemic, high divorce rates, single parenthood, a crack cocaine epidemic, and disco. We got wasted, and wasted our potential.

It’s not that Baby Boomers are bad, it’s just that we could have been so much better. We didn’t change the world, the world changed us.

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S.H.I.T. Open Thread

Court is in session

If you spent the past couple months trapped in a lightless cave and you were trying to figure out what this impeachment kerfluffle was all about, yesterday’s hearing would not have provided any enlightenment. The only thing that was clear to me is that nothing was clear.

If you were smart and skipped that kangaroo court yesterday but would like a taste of what went on, watch the clip below.

There are no impeachment hearings today. Tomorrow the former ambassador to Ukraine is scheduled to cry for the cameras.

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This is a fucking joke but it isn’t funny. So far Schiff-For-Brains is both judge and prosecutor, and he isn’t good at either one. The witnesses were sure of everything when the Democrats asked questions, but now that the Republicans are asking the witnesses don’t seem to know anything.

Thank God Elijah Cumstain won’t be asking any questions today. I hope he is warm and cozy in his new home.

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Rep. Adam Schiff

The lunatics have taken over the asylum.

Democrats Shift from ‘Quid Pro Quo’ to ‘Bribery’ and ‘Extortion’ Ahead of Public Impeachment Hearings

Democrats are shifting their rhetoric ahead of public impeachment hearings, from accusing President Trump of a “quid pro quo” to “bribery” or “extortion,” believing that the stronger and simpler words will play better.
The messaging was unveiled during Sunday morning shows, ahead of the first hearing on Wednesday.

Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, accused Trump of an “extortion scheme.”

“We have enough evidence from the depositions that we’ve done to warrant bringing this forward, evidence of an extortion scheme, using taxpayer dollars to ask a foreign government to investigate the president’s opponent,” he said on CBS News’s Face the Nation.

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA), a member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, accused Trump of “bribery or treason.”

“Because you have an elected official, the president, demanding action of a foreign country in this case, and providing something of value, which is the investigation, and he is withholding aid, which is that official act,” she said on ABC News’s This Week.

“And the Constitution is very clear: treason, bribery, or acts of omission. In this case, it’s clearly one of those,” she said.

Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT) explained that “quid pro quo” is too complicated a concept.

“I have two problems with quid pro quo,” he said on NBC News’s Meet the Press. “Number one, when you’re trying to persuade the American people of something that is really pretty simple, which is that the president acted criminally and extorted in the way a mob boss would extort somebody, a vulnerable foreign country, it’s probably best not to use Latin words to explain it.”

He said the distinction between “quid pro quo” and a word like “extortion” will be critical during the public hearings.

He said, “What they’re going to hear is they are going to hear immensely patriotic, beautifully articulate people telling a story of a president who — let’s forget quid pro quo, quid pro quo is one of these things to muddy the works — who extorted a vulnerable country by holding up a military aid.”

So you make a product and after a major nationwide advertising blitz, people are not buying your product. Do you:

1. Repackage the same product with a new name and start a new ad campaign
2. Consider that maybe your product stinks

The impeachment inquiry will hold its first public hearings this Wednesday, with Ukraine Embassy Chargé d’Affaires Bill Taylor and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs George Kent, and then Friday with former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) chose them to testify first because each has “unimpeachable character” and are “apolitical career officials,” an aide told Axios.

“You’ve got to have a blockbuster opener and closer. That’s why we went with Taylor and Kent,” a second aide told Axios.

Democrats believe that Yovanovitch, who Trump removed from her posting in May, will engender sympathy from the public.

“Yovanovitch was the first victim of the president’s scheme with Giuliani,” the second aide said. That draws the “sympathy of the audience.”

Democrats will reportedly have National Security Council (NSC) official Alexander Vindman, an Army lieutenant colonel, testify next week as a “closer.”

“He’d come in his dress blues — how powerful would that be?” the aide told Axios.

About as powerful as the testimony of Doctor/Victim/Thespian Christine Blasé Fordlincolnmercury was in the Kavanaugh Inquisition – the kind of testimony that convinces the convinced and persuades the persuaded.

There are millions of people in this country who would vote to impeach Trump right now without hearing a single witness. And there are millions of people who would not impeach Trump for any reason just as a middle finger to the Democrats. In order to impeach Trump the Democrats must win the undecideds and flip some of the Trump supporters.

A good product sells itself. Gimmicks and high-pressure sales tactics should always be a red flag for buyers.

On the other hand . . .

Despite my reputation, I’m not always the sunny optimist people think I am. I have occasional doubts and dark thoughts. Lately, I find myself haunted by the possibility that the Democrats will get with this bullshit – that they will impeach Trump in the House and a bunch of Romneyite Republicans in the Senate will flip and vote to convict.

All the drama and trauma over the past three years is related to one basic thing – the fight between Trump and The Swamp. The Deep State IS The Swamp. So are Congress, the news media, and the K Street lobbyists. Trump campaigned on a promise to drain The Swamp and The Swamp is fighting back.

One thing that the Ukraine Nothingburger has made obvious and undeniable is that Trump does not control his own administration. It is riddled with Deep State spies and saboteurs. Trump can’t even fire them, but if he did he couldn’t trust their replacements to be any better.

Still, Trump is making progress. Some of the worst ones are gone from his administration, even if they are now on CNN. Brennan, Comey, Clapper, Rosenberg, Strzok, and McCabe are some of the Deep Staters that have been excommunicated so far. Eric Ciaramella (the so-called “whistleblower”) was an Obamaiite mole, and although he is still working at the CIA he is no longer inside the White House.

But there is still more work to do. The Augean White House and the rest of the executive branch need four more years of Trumpwash.

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