Category Archive 'Brett Stevens'

18 Jul 2019

The 79¢ Lime

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Brett Stevens points out that the Administrative State adds an awful lot of costs.

Take a detour now to a grocery store. For sake of argument, let us say that you are buying a single lime. Maybe you need a mid-day margarita after all of this government drama; maybe you are seasoning fajitas. Either way, you just need to pick up a lime.

It costs $0.79 for a single lime. This is for a fruit that grows on trees even within your region, which in theory should be harvested by cheap illegal alien labor, and delivered with our ultra-efficient transportation system. Why is is so expensive?

The following approximate estimates tell you approximately where your $0.79 is going:

    Sales tax (6.25%). Since this is a food item, you do not pay sales tax, but if it were anything else, you would pay an additional six cents. This would go to your local tax authority, of which four cents would go to the schools which have decided that they must admit illegal aliens, offer psychological care, have police officers on staff, have speech therapists, and add many more administrators to cover paperwork arising mostly from court cases which cause schools to handle students carefully.

    Taxes passed along (20%). The businesses which grow, transport, resell, and ultimately sell these fruits all pay taxes. They calculate those taxes into the cost of every item. This includes gasoline and road taxes, property tax, and income tax.

    Insurance (5%). Lawsuits take up a lot of money, and it costs about $250k just to defend against one, and much more to take the case to its conclusion. Every lawsuit payout gets added on to what insurance charges businesses, and they pass it on to you.

    Regulations (10%). Voters love regulations. “Well, it’s in the law then, and that’s that!” Each regulation written creates bureaucrats on the government side, and in every business that has to deal with them. Their salaries get passed on… to you.

    Affirmative action (20%). Companies get sued when they do not have enough sexual, religious, and ethnic minorities hired. Government can in fact seize the company. As a result, they hire lots of these people, mainly because any time you hire someone for what they are instead of their abilities, you get incompetents, so you have to double- or triple-staff each position.

All of these costs, created by government and its machinations, get socked to you at the end of the day. Now think about the total cost per shopping trip, times number of shopping trips per year. Think about how everything — mortgage, healthcare, internet, car — includes similar cost breakdowns.

Then add the taxes you pay: property, sales, income, and the various hidden taxes like registration fees, licensing, and fines.

Where does all this money go? Government becomes an industry if allowed because it is external to society, managing society as a means to an end, which is a combination of government and whatever ideology powers it.

Our economy has become contorted by government, which is now one of its largest industries, if you add up both direct and indirect costs like bureaucrats, consultants, lawyers, and politicians.


19 Feb 2019

“Diamonds Are Forever” (1971)

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Brett Stevens is reviewing old movies and connecting them to cultural changes on the Alt-Right blog Amerika.

We can see the formula — later modified into the Star Wars formula by adding New Age woo to the technology, intrigue, action, romance, comedy, and tragic hard man with a heart of gold ingredients — slowly drift more toward what was being seen on American television at the time: car chases, showgirls, fast quips, and gadgets.

In this transition, we see exactly how humanity outsmarts itself every time. They look at a few factors and conclude that they know enough to control the outcome, so they amplify those factors and in the process, crush the delicate ecosystem of a good story and replace it with the same paint-by-numbers scripts that people came to their film in order to escape.

Diamonds Are Forever feels like a blockheaded episode of Hawaii Five-O or Magnum, P.I.. Bond shows up, has some funny lines, makes out with a pretty girl, goes to famous and expensive destinations, wrecks some high technology, has a bunch of car chases, then finds the bad guy and blows up his lair, only to watch helplessly as the perpetrator escapes.

Where Dr. No showed us a James Bond who might be in an elite unit, a chaotic and violent individual who indulges deeply in the pleasures of life because he never knows if he will see tomorrow, the Bond that Hollywood produced by consulting its target audience surveys is an American middle manager: cautious, by the numbers and less driven to systematic victory than he is to declare success and go home.

As a result, this film moves like a Cadillac with a trunk full of lead. Bond sits through meetings, follows police procedure style investigations, threatens some people, and finally gets to the bottom of the mystery just in time, but everything happens in slow motion. The scenes cut quickly from one to another because no energy is transferred; they are points on an outline that makes the argument of coherence to the plot toward the audience.

Almost no charisma attaches to Bond, who shows us Sean Connery demonstrating the meaning of “phoning it in” with visible boredom and disgust for this lame, formulaic script in his eyes. He seems to be gritting his teeth when he delivers the lines that are “clever” from an audience manipulation perspective but excruciating for anyone with a brain.

Other actors float in for what are essentially cameos, acting out roles that belong on a résumé and not a screen. They interact superficially with Bond, and the plot ends up being one where characters attach to a motion between scenes in pursuit of some very obvious “mystery,” with everyone coming together at the end. They might as well sing a Broadway number at that point, since nothing else makes any sense.

These films are not meant to be rocket science. They balance action, sentiment, gadgets, and adventure. That mixture works because it is not a formula but a means of telling a story, namely that of an agent deeply devoted to his cause but made personally unstable because of it, leading him to a point of lashing out, after which he recovers his discipline and beats his foe.

If anything, the story of Diamonds Are Forever tells us of a management struggle in which adding in more popular ingredients overwhelmed the need to tell a good yarn, and as a result, these films became banal enough to drive Connery, Moore, and eventually their own audiences away as the clever people in charge kept doing “the right thing” only to find out that they were murdering what had been given them.

In competent hands, this franchise could have gone on forever, but after the 1960s, it never regained control. The Roger Moore movies smoothed out the disaster with a more professional and threatening Bond, but could not overcome the tendency to write scripts by committee and rely on surface drama instead of any inner tension or desire for adventure.

The middle class murders anything it touches. The trap is subtle: at first, they like the new banality, but over time they start to drift away, all without ever being able to articulate why it stopped being satisfying.


The Bond films went wrong actually, years earlier, with “Thunderball” (1965), when, strangely, suddenly formula seemed to replace story, and Sean Connery began mailing it in.

I thought myself the Roger Moore films got even worse, possibly because Moore was wrong for the part and wore such awful suits.

Daniel Craig has almost magically revived the Bond franchise simply by adding Will and Brutality to a speeded-up version of the formula. The plots are sillier than ever, and the new movies are all brand new concoctions entirely unrelated to anything Ian Fleming ever wrote, but I find this reincarnated Bond surprisingly watchable.

08 Mar 2018

Too Alt-Right For Me

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Brett Stevens wants reparations with repatriation.

For a moment, step back from your preconceptions and view this world from the viewpoint of a minority group who were not the founders of a nation.

This place was not designed for you. None of its symbols, customs, values, imagery, or history fits you. In fact, the majority only makes it worse when they try to include you, because this does not negate the fact that you were brought here as labor, whether in chains or as a low-paid immigrant.

You can try to “assimilate,” as the moron conservatives argue, but that means giving up who you are and admitting that you are a conquered people. In fact, no matter what you do, you will feel like a conquered people, at least until you live in a land founded by your people, designed for your people, commanded by your people.

This applies to every group but the founding Western Europeans. [Emphasis added] If you are not English, German, Scots, Dutch, northern French, or Nordic, you are going to find that the founding group look different from you and their values and customs are alien to you. Their ways exclude the ways you need to live and behave.

As a result, you are always looking for compensation. Not because you feel injured, per se, because you are living better here than in your source nation. You want compensation because you feel left out, and you are always going to feel left out until your people are in control.

And those nice majority people? They seem friendly, but you know that everyone acts in their own best interests and wants to live among people like themselves. When they run off to a Whitopia, you know that even if you batter down the doors and get in, that place is Not For You.

You contemplate going back to your source nation. It might be a little rough, but there are great places to live in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Your middle classes now have the knowledge they picked up at trade schools and business schools to make an American/European-style first world nation within the third world.


OK, grumpy old un-PC type that I am, the idea of writing a check and then waving bye-bye to Ta-Nehisi Coates has more than a little appeal. But, what do you know? Micks, Wops, Bohunks and Polacks, all the Roman Catholic ethnic groups are also not “founding Western Europeans” and are evidently hopelessly unassimilable, even us Lithuanians (unless we get to sneak in, just like those non-founding square-headed Scandinavians, under the “Nordic” quota, based on conspicuously large percentages of people with blue eyes and blond hair).

If I’m going back to Lithuania, my reparations had better be large enough to acquire and restore a decent manor house.

And, just think, Dutchies like Vanderleun get to stay!

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