Disney’s Give a Day, Get Some Guilt

11 01 2010

I had an interesting experience this weekend. My daughter’s Sunday School class has gotten involved with Disney’s Give a Day, Get a Day program. For those of you unfamiliar with the program, the basic idea is that if you volunteer a day of service, you get rewarded with a one-day pass to the Disneyland theme park. The idea is that everyone in the class and their parents would volunteer to do some “tzedakeh” or charitable work and we would all go together to Disney with the kids as a class.

This is hardly the first charitable thing my family has been involved with both on our own or with the Temple, so we were quick to get involved. We ended up working down at an elementary school in East LA working to clean the place up, weeding and resoiling a garden that had been completely overgrown with weeds. It was a couple of hours of not tremendously difficult work that really needed to be done and will hopefully make a school in an area that really needs it a better place for education. And we get a day in Disneyland.

What I found interesting about the experience though, was the conversation I had with a woman who got out of a car loaded down with bumper stickers. You know the kinds I mean — they say things like “Coexist” and “War is unkind to children and other living things” and “Like your rights? Thank a liberal.” She carried her self-righteousness with her like a cloak and it trailed behind her when she walked. Her first words to me while we were waiting on the line for our assignments were “Oh, you must be here to get the free day in Disneyland.”

Not that it was any of her business, but I decided to be nice and admit that yes, that’s why we were there. Her response: “Typical. All these people couldn’t be bothered to come out to help others without some giant corporation figuring out a way to make money off of it.” Someone on line pointed out that Disney was hardly making money off of their charity since they would be giving away the tickets. She pointed out that by getting people into the park, they ensured that they would be spending money on food, drinks, parking, souvenirs and all sorts of other things so Disney was hardly being completely altruistic.

I realized that that this is the kind of galactically stupid misunderstanding of human nature that leads hard-core leftists to misunderstand the nature of capitalism and embrace idiotic ideas like socialism. They somehow believe in something that never has and never will exist — the completely selfless act the utterly other directed person. The bottom line is this — the exchange of commodities isn’t just a facet of life — it is life. There is nothing that anyone ever does with another person that doesn’t have some element of self-interest behind it. The secret to a healthy society is respect for that enlightened self-interest.

The heart of capitalism is the win-win. It’s the exchange of value for value. Why shouldn’t that work in a charitable situation? Why is it so bad for some people to do good by doing well? Disney gets people to the park when the economy is down. A bunch of people get a day of fun for free. And a school in East LA gets the help that it needs. Is our motivation somehow less “pure” than the woman who so looked down on us? Perhaps. But I would also point out that prior to Disney’s involvement, the school was struggling to find volunteers to do what needed to be done. Judging by the effect of my day of service, if Disney gets a few more buck in their coffers for it, I’d say that was money well spent. And I plan on enjoying my day in Disneyland with my kids with a clear conscience.

Attention right-wing fruitcakes: You’re not helping!

1 10 2009

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From the “stopped clocks are right twice a day department” comes this story from Talking Points Memo about a Newsmax column by John L. Lewis suggesting a military coup against Obama. That last link goes to TPM’s reproduction of the column that was quickly pulled off of the Newsmax Web site. Reading it, it’s obvious that TPM is right. This is exactly the kind of incendiary speech that the Left keeps claiming that the Right is putting out there in its resistance to the Obama Administration. “They do it too!” really isn’t going to cut it on this one either. “They” are crazy. Their entire power base relies on appeals to emotion and narcissism that bypass things like logic and facts. I don’t care how many films or books they put out advocating the assassination of President Bush, we need to be better than that.

It’s not just because it’s the right thing to do, either. Consider that for all the assassination chic that came from our intellectual superiors on the left, they’re also the side that’s really big on gun control. I think one of the reasons that the right is better at controlling its crazies than the left is because we tend to live by the old Heinlein aphorism that “An armed society is a polite society.” Put simply, the right isn’t dangerous because we have guns — we have guns because we’re dangerous. When actually confronted with the details of the Obama Administration’s agenda, the people are starting to reject it. That’s good. When we wake up and take action, we’re effective. Think about it for a minute — it isn’t conservatives and libertarians who keep changing their name from “liberals” to “progressives” to whatever the left is calling itself this week. It’s still acceptable to be those things because our agenda doesn’t offend reason.

A column like this does nothing but hand a rhetorical weapon to our ideological opponents and — let’s be honest — stoke the crazies on our own side. There are a lot of reasons to oppose the Obama Administration and as the season of the tea party and the town hall rolls on, we can see what can be done within the bounds of our system. Our republic will survive Obama (and we can start by getting out and voting in the 2010 election!). What it can’t survive is the side that actually has the guns even entertaining the possibility of a junta. That is unacceptable. The Left will squawk, point and say “I told you so!” Let them. That’s what they do. Real condemnation for something like this must come from our side of the aisle.

Update: Newsmax distances itself from the article. Sigh. You don’t have to be psychic to see how this is going to play out.


Stardock Takes a Stand for Fox News

28 09 2009

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I found this interesting, especially given the recent hullabaloo over the Shadow Complex boycott. Brad Wardell, the CEO of Stardock Software and an outspoken conservative, has decided to take a stand against UPS. UPS, the package delivery service, recently decided to drop all of its advertising with Fox News. Stardock, according to Wardell’s comments on his Facebook page, does a “non-trivial amount of shipping with UPS.” Upset by the company’s decision to pull its advertising from the network, Stardock Software will now be doing all of its physical game fulfillment through FedEx.

So now we face yet another aspect of the Shadow Complex boycott issue. What’s good for the goose and so on… If liberals can boycott things that offend them, then so can conservatives. While I doubt losing Stardock’s business will result in a significant hit to UPS’ bottom line, this doesn’t strike me as a terribly healthy phenomenon. There are lots of CEOs out there, and lots of companies much bigger than Stardock and what happens when everyone needs to start signing an ideological bill of particulars before someone else will do business with you? If I have to have my voting record perused every time I go for a job, I might as well move out of California now. As lovely as I’m sure Texas is, I have no desire to live there.

To everyone’s credit, the discussion that came about as a result of Brad’s post was pretty civilized as such things go, but the gaming industry is a pretty small neighborhood. That tends to encourage civility. The rest of Red and Blue America? Not so much.

And on a completely unrelated note, if you’re at all interested in strategy games and have never played Galactic Civilizations 2, drop what you’re doing and play it now! You’ll thank me later.

UPDATE: This story got picked up by GamePolitics which prompted Brad Wardell to e-mail with the following:

My Facebook comment was taken considerably out of context. I could care less about Glenn Beck or whether someone advertises on their show or not. But UPS is boycotting the entire channel which annoyed me enough to ask my publishing director to look into whether it was true (it was) and have them look into Fed Ex which provided competitive pricing and make use of them for our uses.

This is completely and 100% true and was true when I first put up the story. This is why this story was labeled “Stardock Takes a Stand for Fox News,” NOT “Stardock Takes a Stand for Glenn Beck.” However you feel about Fox News, I wanted to make sure that Brad’s stance was clear.

Update 2: Brad Wardell comments on his personal blog


When All You Have is a Hammer…

1 09 2009

Had an interesting e-mail conversation with Dan over at Gay Patriot. During it, I was thinking about the conundrum he’s in — being gay and a conservative isn’t easy because of the identity politics mindset of the left. I never quite understood why being gay (or black or a woman) means you must also be for higher taxes, socialized medicine and government intrusion in your life, but this apparently makes perfect sense to today’s liberals and woe betide those who stray from the “approved” series of positions.

In the end, that’s why I have a bigger problem with liberals than I do with conservatives. Even when I agree with the cause (and when it comes to social issues, I’m pretty damned liberal), I loathe the tactics and the mindset, It’s not that the right doesn’t have lunatics and hatemongers, it clearly does, but it always seems to me like the left’s hate and desire to control others is closer to the mainstream of the progressive movement’s thought than those of the right.

I think that’s part and parcel of the “progressive” cause. When you view government action as an inherently good thing, the question becomes how best to direct that action to ensure the most just and fair outcome. They really believe in using the power of government to order society properly and assume that their opponents do as well. Thus for them the struggle is not between advocates of social control and libertarianism but between two competing visions of an ordered society — one a beneficent nanny state that cares for its citizens, the other a George Orwell “1984” one that oppresses them.

I think that’s why they get apoplectic when confronted with those that try to block their programs. To the people who believe that “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem,” and “The personal is political,” anyone not down with the idea of using government power to “help” must clearly hate those the program is designed for. It never even occurs to them that conservatives and libertarians might actually mean what they say — that government programs designed to help usually do more harm than good and that the less government, the better. Lets not forget — both “Brave New World” and “1984” were visions of socialism.

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