EppsNet Archive: David Mamet

Thinking on Your Feet

18 Jun 2014 /

I can forgive someone who lies, but if he can’t think on his feet, he has no business representing my interests. If he can’t lie to me, how can I expect him to lie, on my behalf, to the other guy?

— David Mamet, The Secret Knowledge

Good Causes

22 May 2014 /
NASCAR

The Good Causes of the Left may generally be compared to NASCAR; they offer the diversion of watching things go excitingly around in a circle, getting nowhere.

— David Mamet, The Secret Knowledge

The War on Poverty is 50 Years Old

6 May 2014 /
(Old) War Police Department & Jail

The New York Times has an update from McDowell County, West Virginia, on how the War on Poverty is going after 50 years . . .

Of West Virginia’s 55 counties, McDowell has the lowest median household income, $22,000; the worst childhood obesity rate; and the highest teenage birthrate.

It is also reeling from prescription drug abuse. The death rate from overdoses is more than eight times the national average. Of the 115 babies born in 2011 at Welch Community Hospital, over 40 had been exposed to drugs. . . .

Many in McDowell County acknowledge that depending on government benefits has become a way of life, passed from generation to generation. Nearly 47 percent of personal income in the county is from Social Security, disability insurance, food stamps and other federal programs. . . .

The poverty rate, 50 percent in 1960, declined – partly as a result of federal benefits – to 36 percent in 1970 and to 23.5 percent in 1980. But it soared to nearly 38 percent in 1990. For families with children, it now nears 41 percent.

“Worst childhood obesity rate.” Poverty is different in America. In most countries, poor people aren’t fat.

According to the United States Census Bureau, there are 9,176 households in McDowell County and the mean (not median) household income is $33,506. Multiply the two together and we get a total annual income for the county of $206 million.

If 47 percent of that income, as the Times article states, comes from federal programs, that’s almost $100 million per year. Since the War on Poverty has been waged for 50 years now, a crude approximation of the total amount of taxpayer money sent to McDowell County would be 50 times $100 million = $5 billion.

Possibly the annual federal contribution was less 50 years ago, even adjusted to 2014 dollars, but we’d also need to account for the fact that the county population at that time was five times higher than it is today. Taking even a small fraction — say, 20 percent — of $5 billion as our approximation, we can say that the War on Poverty has cost at least a billion dollars ($1,000,000,000) just for one small county in West Virginia.

Oh, and the people are still living in poverty. Evidently you can’t eliminate poverty just by giving people money.

As David Mamet pointed out in The Secret Knowledge:

There’s a cost for everything. And the ultimate payer of every cost imposed by government is not only the individual member of the mass of taxpayers who does not benefit from the scheme; but likely, also, its intended beneficiaries.

In the case of McDowell County, the intended beneficiaries are being paid to continue making bad decisions with their lives, most notably to continue living in a place where there’s no work and no hope for improvement.


EppsNet at the Movies

5 Sep 2010 /
Cover of
Cover of
Cover of

Thanks to Netflix, I’m catching up on movies that I never got around to seeing. It’s a long list because I don’t see a lot of movies.

Almost Famous

With the exception of the boy’s mom, there aren’t any interesting characters in this movie. It’s like spending two hours with uninteresting people.

The Lester Bangs character doesn’t count because Lester Bangs was an actual person who was interesting in real life. You don’t get credit as a writer/filmmaker for creating an interesting Lester Bangs character.

Cameron Crowe seems to have learned his directorial style from an Olive Garden commercial.

Great soundtrack.

Rating: Blah.

The Big Lebowski

Look at the scene and ask yourself “Is it dramatic? Is it essential? Does it advance the plot?

Answer truthfully.

If the answer is “No” write it again or throw it out.

This movie has interesting characters and snappy dialogue. I laughed a couple of times. But most of the scenes are just dropped in randomly out of nowhere.

My wife fell asleep early on as we were watching this. When she woke up she asked me what happened.

I said, “The girl wasn’t really kidnapped.” What else is there to say?

If you removed all the scenes (and characters) that aren’t essential and don’t advance the plot, there might be a good movie left, but it would be a very short movie.

The soundtrack includes a couple of songs I really like but rarely hear — “The Man in Me” by Bob Dylan, and (a cover of) “Dead Flowers,” originally by The Rolling Stones.

Rating: Crock of shit

Rushmore

Now this is a great movie.

Rating: Highly recommended!