Daily Potpourri 7/15/12

HT SilouanThompson.net
  1. 1.6, 19.2, $84,000,000,000,000.
  2. The Perverse Vice of Selfishness.
  3. Feet of clay.
  4. Sins of the fathers.
  5. Seamless marketing.

1

As I refreshed the Washington Post Opinion Page Saturday, there appeared, for the second time this week, a splash ad from Prudential that revealed more about politics’ “third rail” than the liberal editorial board might want to admit.

First, this fact: “Average length of retirement in American in 1960: 1.6 years.”

Fade to second splash. “Average length of retirement in American in 2012: 19.2 years.”

The third splash suggests that Prudential can help you get ready, but the first two reminded me why Social Security is broke.

The figure I heard from a pretty credible source was $84 trillion of future liability, which presumably (but maybe not, heaven help us) includes Medicare. That’s about $280,000 for each of 300 million of us. And that kind of liability, produced in part by a twelvefold increase in the length of the average retirement, is why I insist that serious Social Security reform must include raising the retirement age. We can deal separately with those indispensible people who wear their bodies out, even before age 66 in many cases, doing hard physical work.

2

Stephen Prothero has assembled and published The American Bible: How Our Words Unite, Divide and Define a Nation. “Here Stephen Prothero reveals which texts continue to generate controversy and drive debate. He then puts these voices into conversation, tracing how prominent leaders and thinkers of one generation have commented upon the core texts of another, and invites readers to join in.”

Stephen Carter’s review at the Washington Post reports that:

The award for irony goes to the estate of Ayn Rand, which refused to allow the excerpting of “Atlas Shrugged,” a decision Prothero cleverly marks with a blank page.

Sometimes selfishness isn’t a virtue, but a self-defeating vice. And I’m talking only about what selfishness does in this life.

3

The internet can be very educational.

For instance, it brought me an e-mail, mass-forwarded by a person I love and respect, that proved (as if such were needed) that we’re all sinners, that we all have lapses in judgment, and that Barack Obama has an amazing capacity to incite derangement in some people I love and respect.

That’s not the educational use my friend intended. He was passing along absurd allegations about Obama saying things about the National Anthem and flag burnings on Meet the Press on September 7, 2008.

Forget little thing like “I remember 2008, and the right-wing blogosphere, which was seizing and twisting every trifling Obama malapropism, never mentioned that whopper.” Look just at things like the impossibility of a candidate being elected two months after saying such things in front of God and everybody. That’s more than enough.

There is an ancient commandment against bearing false witness. Christian authorities through two millennia have taught that false witness includes careless gossip even if it happens to turn out true. I’m quite sure my friend would acknowledge being a sinner with lapses in judgment, so I trust that this observations are not themselves a violation of the Commandment, dressed up prissily as an admonition to be truth bearers even about political opponents.

4

In my professional life, I’ve recently experienced a first. An heir in an estate never responded to a single piece of mail, and let me turn his inheritance over to the County Clerk, whence it will eventually go to Indiana Unclaimed. Word came through the grapevine that he was very upset by the proceedings he boycotted from day 1 before he had any reason to be upset.

It kind of reminds me of the Okie who hunted rattle snakes because one bit him, almost fatally, while he was hunting rattle snakes. (True story, by the way.)

Another heir cussed me out to my face as she took her check, she also having not participated until the very end. (I’m sure she has regaled her friends with the story of how she told the lawyer off. If you’re her friend, let me assure you: it’s true.)

Two of five heirs had some of the largest chips-on-shoulders I’ve ever seen. One of the most civil was the one with the longest rap sheet and jail time served. Maybe he figured out that chips on shoulders can endanger your physical health unless your the baddest S.O.B. in the cell.

The heirs’ failure to cooperate also resulted in higher attorney fees and consequent lower inheritance checks.

I’m kinda glad I never met the decedent. “The sins of the fathers …” and all that.

5

My wife’s van is in great shape – considering that it’s 10 years old. But if we don’t trade it in the next 2 years or so, we’ll be setting a record for how many miles and years we’ve ever kept a car.

So, being a guy and all, I stopped by the VW dealership today and looked at Touaregs and Tiguans, which strike me as more versatile replacements for what we’re apt to need in the next decade or so. Following up the visit, I looked more a Touaregs online.

Sonafagun! Suddenly, Touareg ads show up on unrelated websites I visit. This is not a coincidence – nor, for my money, is it especially sinister. It’s just, well, the way things are today, for good and for ill.

* * * * *

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.

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