Gut Rumbles

September 05, 2005

what can you say?

I don't believe in the "brotherhood" of man. I've read too much history NOT to believe that some people are capable of absolutely disgusting acts. And they feel NO GUILT after doing it, either. Just look at my bloodless cunt ex-wife for one fine example.

In the middle of war or disaster, you always see TWO kinds of people: the noble and the ignoble. That same scenario played out in politics over Iraq and after Hurricance Katrina.

I don't think tribes is the right word to use in this story. When people band together to HELP each other instead of engaging in rape and pillage during a time of crisis, I believe that you are seeing the best we are capable of being.

``Some people became animals,'' Vasilioas Tryphonas said Sunday morning as he sipped a hot beer in Johnny White's Sports Bar on Bourbon Street. ``We became more civilized.''

I'm no socialist and I damn sure ain't no communist, but I have very deep country roots. You help your neighbor when he's in need. You welcome a stranger into the house, feed him a meal and let him sleep in the barn.

You do that because it may be YOU the next time, needing help. It's really a "pay it down" way of thinking that may not apply to modern society, but it's a belief I'll never outgrow.

According to some of the great philosophers I've read in my comments, I was a goddam fool to tow that lady out of the mud-bog on the dirt road to Randall's Liquor Store. I should have charged her a pile of money for doing that. After all, nobody else was around to do it.

The sky was getting dark. She was frightened. I should have charged what the "free market" was worth in that situation. I'll bet that she would have paid me almost anything I asked for, maybe even a blow-job, and I could have walked away cackling, with a lot of money in my hand.

I didn't do that. I got fucked-up and dirty getting her out of that mud-bog, but I pulled her out for NO CHARGE. She tried to OFFER me money, and I turned it down.

I didn't do it for money. I did it because somebody needed help and I was able to provide it. I did it thinking that maybe, some fine day, another good ole boy may rescure MY MAMA the way I did that woman.

And you greedy bastards who don't understand that kind of reasoning ALL need to be dragged off and shot.


No, I wouldn't have called it tribes, either. That's how it SHOULD be. That's the only way to survive, is to band together and take care of each other. I don't know why so many people don't understand that, either.

Posted by: Kelly on September 5, 2005 11:42 AM

I agree with you on this one 100% -- I think a lot of it has to do with proper upbringing though. If you were brought up by bloodsucking leeches, it's bound to have an impact on how you view things and how you treat your fellow humans...

Posted by: Lisa on September 5, 2005 11:59 AM

It never ceases to amaze me how some people will come up with any argument they can to avoid simply acting like a civilized human being.

You can explain any libertarian free market theories you want and it still wouldn't let me look at myself in the mirror without shame if I had pulled some bullshit like selling supplies to desperate people at a 2000% profit margin or charging a frightened woman for pulling her car from a ditch.

That's called having a fucking conscience, and (as Rob says) anyone without one needs to be dragged off and shot.

Posted by: Graumagus on September 5, 2005 12:03 PM

That pretty much covers it. In time of trouble, whether disaster or somebody with a flat they can't change, or stuck, you help if you can.

Posted by: Mark on September 5, 2005 12:09 PM

My job promoted frequent trips back and forth

at odd hours. I ran into a lot of folks who

needed help which of couse I gave willingly.

My wife and daughter -in - law broke down on

the same stretch of highway on a cold rain

day.It wasn't ten minutes till someone brought

them charge. That IS how it works

Posted by: Arathorn on September 5, 2005 12:17 PM

A commenter on Kim du Toit wrote: “As for natural disasters, folks used to pitch in — pass the hat, or hie themselves off to the scene of trouble bearing blankets and hot soup, or whatever else seemed to be needful. That wasn’t ‘the market’, it was a case of voluntary action.”

Any voluntary action is part of “the market”.

Commies to the left of me, commies to the right of me…

Posted by: damaged justice on September 5, 2005 12:28 PM

A famous quote from a U.S. Supreme court justice (forgot who, exactly) went like:

"I can't define pornography for you; but I sure can recognize it when I see it".

The same goes for price-gouging and predatory profiteering.

While I've got no problem with a vendor needing to hike a price in order to offset his higher costs or losses, I do have a huge problem with profiteering on the suffering of a whole community.

Such betrays the basis of community.

Yeah, he's got the right to ask whatever price he wants.

And the community has the right to hang him from the highest lamppost.

The free-market has the right to freely fight back. Let the gougers beware.

Sloop New Dawn
Galveton, TX

Posted by: Jim on September 5, 2005 01:30 PM

"Be the change you want to see in the world."

Guess that opens all kinds of paths? Extending a helping hand to someone in need... or kicking them in the head.

Posted by: D. Lee on September 5, 2005 01:41 PM

I'm with you on this one, Rob. Heinlein referred to it as "paying it forward". Don't pay me back, pay it forward to somebody else. It's the way I try to live.

There are some who don't or won't "get it". There's little hope for them. Even if someone pulls their worthless asses out of a ditch someday and refuses remuneration they'll just think that they're one up on the world and regard their benefactor as an idiot. I sorta feel sorry for them. They'll never know the satisfaction that comes of doing the right thing without expectation of profiting from the deed.

I like to believe that what goes around comes around.

Posted by: StinKerr on September 5, 2005 03:17 PM

Couldn't agree with you more... but the hell?!

You say that it's just human to help someone else out who's in need, without asking for credentials, just blind hospitality because you never know when you'll need some help, all good points, but then turn around and rant about it when the government comes and asks you to pitch in a little to do just that for for citizens across the nation (the poor, the elderly...) that need similar help.

Perhaps you could please explain this paradoxical set of opinions?

Posted by: William on September 5, 2005 05:48 PM

I think it was in '93 or '94 when the ice/snow/rain storm hit in the early morning here in Columbus. People were unprepared. The storm came literally out of nowhere. Cars were all over the road, in ditches, the median, everywhere. Once the weather subsided and the sun broke, as it usually does after bad weather, the locals were all out in their 4WD's pulling people out of the ditches etc. Quite a few of them were Army buddies of mine. They wouldn't take money either, as you said Rob, they saw someone who needed help and provided it because that's what you do for people in need. After all, you said it perfectly, it may be you or yours next time.

Posted by: Leuthen on September 5, 2005 05:52 PM

William, I can answer that. The key word in your question was "government". The government does nothing but make things more expensive, more inefficent and create dependency. What Rob and the rest of us are in favor of, is people helping people.

Posted by: Gahrie on September 5, 2005 06:08 PM


The thing the 'free market' idiots seem all too willing to ignore (or are too stupid to know) is that the 'free market' is only expected to function when neither party to the transaction is under duress to engage in the transaction!

What they're describing in this disaster situation is the equivalent to someone holding a gun to your head for your wallet, and being told you have the choice whether to complete the transaction or not.

The 'free market' certainly can NOT operate during a disaster, but as you say, I sure hope it reasserts itself after things return to a semblance of normal, and these gouging assholes lose their businesses because customers refuse to patronise them. That WOULD be the free market at work. Live by the sword, perish by the sword.

There will always be those who will only act in their own best interests, at the expense of others, and even when helping wouldn't 'cost' them anything. Can't imagine how lonely, fearful, and unfulfilling an existence like that must be.

As a friend at work this week reminded me: disasters don't determine character, they reveal it.


Posted by: Light & Dark on September 5, 2005 06:09 PM

Go to this for an essay about what tribes mean to the man who wrote it. It is long but well worth reading. He devides it in to two colors pink and grey and it has nothing to do with skin color. I tend to agree with him

Posted by: GUYK on September 5, 2005 06:21 PM

Easy, William. Choice versus force.

Posted by: Brett on September 5, 2005 07:09 PM

A few points need to be made here...

First, to Jim on the Sloop New Dawn. Yes, the price gouger has the right to charge whatever the "market" will bear. It is his property after all. And I agree with most of the commenters that gouging on the order of 1000% profit is reprehensible. But the community does NOT have the right to "hang him from the highest lamppost" Profiteering might be reprehensible, but murder is much, much worse. What the community has the right to do is simply refuse to do business with him - both during and after the disaster.

Second, to William. You are comparing charity to government largess. And the key word in your analogy is the word "asks". The government never "asks" for you to pitch in and help the poor, the elderly etc.. Nope, the government "demands" it in the form of social programs paid for by taxes. And taxes are not voluntary. I'm not saying that all governemnt programs are bad, but neither are government programs charity, because charity is - and always must be - voluntary.

To Paul. I agree, disasters do tend to reveal a person's character. But just because someone is of low character does not make them guilty of the crime of robbery. Price gouging is NOT the same as holding a gun to someones head.

Understand, I am not defending Bruce the ice-man. I don't know him at all other than what Rob has written about him. But everyone needs to stop and take a deep breath here.


Posted by: Roy on September 5, 2005 07:12 PM

When I lived in New Hampshire I found a couple of copies of the annual report for the town I lived in from the early 1900's to 1920's. The town kept a small house behind the town hall supplied with firewood, beds, water, food, etc. If anyone came to town needed help it was there for them. All the old people in the town had volunteers who would take them for their doctor's appointment and saw that they ate and had water and food as necessary. They would stop by and sit a spell to keep the old people company. Nobody got paid for that, they just did it. This went on until after WW II.

My cousins lived on a farm in southeastern Ohio almost on the West Virginia border. My dad's family was originally from West Virginia anyway. They never to my best knowledge locked their doors. They would go away and if you were around there you were expected to stop by and help yourself to some food and relax if they weren't there and to stay for dinner if they were there. It was just the way the families lived then. When I was a kid in the county seat, we went on vacation for 3 weeks and didn't lock up. Nothing was taken.

My point is what has happened to this country. This used to be the way it was almost everywhere and that was when I was a kid about 50-60 years ago. There were bad people around but we always had dogs who barked to let us know if someone was around they didn't recognize. Neighbors looked out for each other. I had some car problems and I had to commute 65 miles to work. My neighbor got up early in the morning and drove me 20 miles to the good bus stop to the city and then drove to his job in the other direction. When I got home at night I was to call him and he would come and pick me up. No money, he would not accept it. It was just the right thing to do.

Now I live in NYC and if it is not an emergency like 9/11 you don't even know your neighbor at all. I lived in an apartment in Chelsea just above Greenwich Village for 5 years. I saw my next door neighbor the day he moved in and I saw them on my way out when I moved. In between I never saw or heard from them at all. If I had seen them on the street I would not have recognized them. You are out of your neighborhood if you go 2 blocks. Strange way to live IMNSHO.

Posted by: dick on September 5, 2005 07:56 PM

I took money one time in my life for bailing someone out,and it was only 'cuz the sumbitch was too lazy to walk a half-mile and I figured he deserved to pay for his laziness.By the way,I didn't ask for it,he offered up front.
On the other hand,I've changed tires and given jumps,and pushes,and tows and all that stuff,and when people tried to give me money,I told them to just make sure they passed it on someday.
Call it Karma or whatever you want,but it' come back to me in Spades.Like the time I broke down in traffic on the way to work in a blizzard,and a woman going the opposite way asked if I needed help.I told her I could use a jump,and she said she be right back..Well,she pulled two u-turns and cut off traffic to get in front of me,then jumped out of her car in her fur coat and $400 business suit and proceeded to open hoods and help me hook up jumper cables.Then she took off.I'll always be thankful for her,and people like her.

Posted by: franxredhot on September 5, 2005 08:09 PM

yeah, but if you could have got a blow job........

Posted by: Robert on September 5, 2005 08:35 PM

Adding to this thread... I was at an "AutoZone" in Aurora Colorado when I saw a car overheating and seriously bleeding coolant all over the parking lot. Two young women had the hood up and were dumping coolant in (not quite as fast as it was gushing out). I glanced over their shoulder and saw the upper radiator hose was bloated and bleeding and told them I could fix it in a matter of just a couple of minutes (with a simple leatherman tool) if they bought a 10$ radiator hose from right inside the store (hell, they were already buying 20 dollars of coolant, what's easier than an upper radiator hose???). They acted like snotty bitches, sneered at me and said it'd be O.K, all they had to do was make it across Denver (prolly 50 miles). I wished them good luck and good day. I guarantee they didn't make it a mile before that $5K engine seized up over a 10 dollar hose. Don't look a gift-horse in the mouth, I wouldn't have asked for any-fucking-thing other than to spend a few minutes to fix their damn car and wish 'em well.

Posted by: Andy on September 5, 2005 09:29 PM

You can't buy a random act of kindness because no amount of money can define what it is worth. That goes for both the giver and the receiver. I'd go so far to say that the giver ends up receiving more than the person he's helping!

Posted by: Susie T on September 5, 2005 09:33 PM

Andy, once pulled into a parking lot and found a group of kids with their hood up, looking worried. Upper hose had cracked, right where it fits onto the radiator. Hose was just long enough so I cut it off at that point, took off the clamp and reattached it, they filled up with water and made it home.

Made me feel good, made them happy, and amazed them that you could do something like that.

Posted by: Mark on September 6, 2005 12:45 AM

I've given jump starts, fixed flats and sorted the occasional ' it wont go', and recieved help in return when I needed it. As a biker, I know how bad it can be to be stuck at the side of the road with a flat, and no such thing as a spare wheel. Help people when you can folks, its amazing how people will help back.

Posted by: robert in england on September 6, 2005 07:31 AM

We are discussing good will here, something no libertarian undervalues. When good will is made mandatory, tyranny results.

One thing we are underplaying here is the competition the so-called price gougers receive from all manner of disaster assistance, voluntary and involuntary. Their windfall rarely lasts long, and their customers are rarely the most desparate, if they are able to dicker for goods and services.

Everyone who dislikes high prices in the wake of calamity is perfectly welcome to express their low opinion of the merchants' activities, and to conduct themselves in a more charitable manner. The criticism comes down to the following statement: "They are unkind." The merchants still have a right to conduct their business without threat, and every one who thinks threatening or assaulting those they disapprove of are clearly in the wrong. Doing so does not prove your moral superiority. Rhetorical hyperbole gets a pass, but in our ironic age, it's difficult to determine who is serious and who is not.

As for objectivism, Rand makes room for a clearly defined ethic of emergencies in "The
Virtue of Selfishness." In a free polity unspoiled by the expectations of the citizens of a welfare state, the majority will be both self-reliant and kind, offering the above referenced competition to the merchants, rhetorically stigmatized by the sneer of profiteer.

Posted by: Brett on September 6, 2005 09:19 AM

Here's a thought: if ever you're held up by a profiteer, pay the money but get his personal details -- then tell him you're going to report the transaction to the IRS to make sure he's paying all the taxes on the profit.

Posted by: Kim du Toit on September 6, 2005 01:03 PM

I don't recall anyone saying that you'd be stupid for not charging for help, Rob.

People have said that it's not Pure Evil to do so, however. There's a big difference.

The economics just aren't on your side here; and unless someone's forcing people to not help for free, "profiteers" are only adding to the options available.

I assure you, someone that is an asshat and will only help if he can make a pile of money is not going to help if he's prohibited from making any money. The end result is fewer people helping at any price; those who are decent enough to help someone for free will do so in any case. But they can't help everyone, in case of disaster.

Should the remainder, who can afford to pay "profiteer" prices not get any supplies because it makes you mad that someone's charging "too much"? Should they take a share of the "free" goods, thus shutting out people who can't pay at all?

Your moral indignation might get someone killed, satisfying as it is.

(Mind you, it's also a perfectly moral intuition that such things are wrong; but prohibiting them or murdering those who do so has a demonstrably negative effect overall. Intuitions are often incorrect, as we're not God; that which looks bad to us may in fact be on the good side of the ledger, in terms of actual effects.

I wouldn't do what Bruce-the-asshole did, and I'll call him an asshat right along with you. But he did help more by going there with that $10/bag ice than by staying home and not bringing any ice at all.

Anyone that says he didn't is free to try and tell me how the supply of ice would have magically increased without his truckload.)

Posted by: Sigivald on September 6, 2005 05:13 PM

"I'm not saying that all governemnt programs are bad"

Ok, I'll take that, although I would define government programs more as long-term charity than involuntary donations, for the government does remain a creature of our own making. This is superior, in certain areas, because it does not economically punish those that are being charitable and doing a service from which all of society benefits.

Also keep in mind that most/all charitable donations are tax deductible, thus almost all charity is ultimately government funded.

Posted by: William on September 6, 2005 10:32 PM

"Also keep in mind that most/all charitable donations are tax deductible, thus almost all charity is ultimately government funded."

This is a widespread error. The government is not giving anyone money when it refrains from taking it.

Posted by: Brett on September 7, 2005 09:00 AM
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