by Karl Denninger, Market Ticker:
Everyone says Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Nice wish, eh? Some make sure to emphasize the religious aspect of the holiday. A few acknowledge that early Christians stole the existing festival of the Sun (before we understood celestial mechanics people prayed that the Sun would come back — they certainly understood that without it they’d die, but not that irrespective of their burnt offering the days would get warmer — and longer — anyway!) And, of course, the mercantile world has turned it onto a debt-fed orgy of buying crap we don’t need for people who don’t appreciate it.
But let me put the question a different way for the coming year.
What are you willing to put up with?
That’s the real question you ought to ask this “holiday season.”
For myself, I concluded back in the 2011 timeframe that the people of this country would not force the government to stop allowing the medical system to rob everyone blind, that we would not collectively rise and demand that those who refuse to stop go to prison, and that this meant that either I stop, to the extent possible, my expanding waistline and decreasing physical ability that was coming as I got older or I would have some miserable number of years at a point in the not-so-distant future before I finally met my demise. This conclusion (and by the way, Congress is perfectly happy to not only screw you but personally profit from it – and you let them do that too) drove me to make a decision. I decided that I would put up with feeling like I got hit by a bus every day for months and would stop eating a bunch of very pleasurable “foods” that are in fact poisons — anything laced with sugar, grains, starches and human-generated frankenoils – which are most of them. I decided to put up with that in order to attempt (with no guarantee of success) turning back that which was inexorably creeping upon me.
The result was that I lost 60lbs and am in better shape now than I’ve ever been in my life. But that didn’t happen because I “wished” to be able to run a 5k at a sub-7 minute pace. It happened because I was willing to put up with the demands of getting to the point where I could run said sub-7-minute pace — and that involved permanent changes in my lifestyle.
There are many who say “well, but there’s so much damage I’ve already taken to my person that it doesn’t matter.” Of course it matters; even if your body is severely ****ed as a result of your past abuses a positive change is still positive! In fact for the person who is seriously compromised today the loss of that 60 or 100lbs is far more important than it was in my case where the really ugly (and permanent) stuff hadn’t happened yet because the quality of life improvement is far greater; going from being unable to walk a half-mile to being able to easily do so is a hell of a lot bigger change than going from being unable to run a half-mile to being able to run three.
At the same time I came to grips with the reality that I was (at the time) pushing 50 and if things went sideways I was ok with the outcome. I’ve not had a bad run — and I’m sure as hell not going to ruin anyone else’s future gasping for a few more breaths.
I snort in derision at those who say it’s “easy” for me to put forward a “cut back to the point of tax neutrality” or “starve the monkeys in DC” perspective, which I have often written about in this column, given that I “made it” in the 1990s. Why? Because that didn’t just happen on its own and luck had little — or nothing — to do with it.
I put up with 15 years of insane demands on my personal time, emotional state, effort and stamina, starting from having one foot in the gutter (literally) and impending personal ruin, moved several hundred miles with no guarantee of anywhere to go or any sort of family support, began working my ass off for a paltry, sub-$20,000 salary that often demanded 80 or even more hours a week from me (no, there was no overtime either), found a (rather crappy) apartment that I could (barely) afford and over time clawed my way up, literally, to where I wound up. I put up with those hours, the effort, the lack of any sort of “vacation” or time off for more than five years straight, a metric ****-ton of emotional pain, whatever permanent damage all of this might have done to my body (which I’ll get to pay for down the road I’m sure) and more. There was nothing easy about it: MCSNet was not my first effort, it was the third, with the previous two being failures — at which I put in similar amounts of work and in the end got little or nothing other than managing to pay the rent for a while. Don’t even get me started on the long nights in a basement with a kerosene supplemental heater going so I didn’t freeze my ass off while writing code that ultimately went into a couple of businesses — instead of thousands. Never mind the jobs in that time where I was working for someone else, often for someone who I believed was completely full of crap.
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