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Adoration of the Shepherds or the Nativity by Gerard David, 1490
"We covet health now, and a living more ennobling than any capitalist can count."

They were by all accounts humble shepherds, though that designation seems redundant, and not only because nobody's ever filed any report even hinting at the existence of haughty shepherds. Shepherds might find arrogance and self-importance less than useless in the productive execution of their role in society, for their wards are invariably humble and rather stupid, more interested in following each other around and not really in to adoring any charismatic leader. Shepherds were almost always contractors, not sheep owners or full time employees with benefits. They worked through the season in sublime isolation with only the adoration of their sheepdog as company. Yet they were counted as full equals at the nativity, right up there with those angels who had so recently rendered them "sore afraid" and the three wise men. Their contribution appreciated without compensation, for the Nativity, like much of every society, was not an economic activity.

We speak of ourselves as capitalists, though only a relative few of us actually hold much capital.
Many work and earn paychecks without ever considering themselves to be workers. Our work might be most usefully seen as an annoying if necessary distraction from our primary occupation which is and always has been simply living, for most of us, living simply. We earn no passive income like even any half-assed capitalist must. We hold no investment portfolio. We do not accumulate wealth but spend our paychecks and a little more on necessities to support our living, sometimes splurging, sometimes even giving some of it away. At the end of the day, we're tired, too tired to sit in some counting house totting up accumulated assets. We live lives colored more by looming liabilities than by compounded wealth. We're generally healthy and wise rather than wealthy and despised, nobody's Scrooge McDuck.

We lose that paycheck and we're out of freaking luck. Some have learned to game their government to collect unwarranted disability checks or to cheat the taxman, but most could care no less about the taxes they pay. They know that somebody's more or less destined to take away some of their pay, be it by levied tax, a usurious interest charge, or some spurious handling fee amounting to table stakes, expected ante. We're still more focused upon living, the purpose of which never seemed to be accumulation, but more a more-or-less orderly distribution of income across an eternal constellation of creditors. Those creditors might be capitalists, but they serve the humble home keepers like shepherds serve their sheep, though often much less humbly.

Wealth brings notoriety, a useless currency for either shepherd or humble home keeper, who hopes to Hell (or High Heaven) that they never stand out or above any man or beast. We feast at tables laden with much more than caviar and worth much, much more than any flashy car to us. We have no shareholders to feed dividends to and wouldn't know a derivative debt obligation if it bit us on the ass. We're most of every economy, though economists mostly focus away from us toward whomever's making the biggest fuss in the market today. When our economy crashes, as all economies sometimes must, the triage focuses upon how to make the Big Dogs whole, though they might throw a bone or two in the general direct of the majority shareholders in this enterprise while complaining about the moral dangers inherent in "giving handouts." The bailouts bring better ink, I guess, though I must confess that I do not know why they so desperately need to subsidize entities that do not even have lives to sustain. Blame the game if you care to, we speak of ourselves as capitalists, though only a few of us ever hold much capital.

A vanity publisher phoned this week, trying to entice me into republishing The Blind Men with his firm. I'd need to invest in the enterprise, he said, then he beat around bushes for the following half hour. I finally managed to entice him to spill the story. A thousand dollars would get me not only a freshly designed and distributed book, but worldwide promotion, too, and even a guest spot on a wildly popular radio show I'd never personally heard of, and social media! I finally asked him if he had any idea who he was talking to. He did not. I apparently knew more about publishing than he'd managed to absorb. He promised me fame and fortune and I told him that I was not in the market for either. They call these Vanity Publishers for a reason. My vanity, if I have any, lies in the weekly unique page views racked up on my PureSchmaltz Facebook Group, an average of about a hundred each day this week. I remain grateful to each and every one of you who pause for a moment here each day. Here's what I had to say from my sequestration to yours last week:

The overriding theme seemed to hover around the effects of the Covid-19 virus, which has been coloring our existence for a couple of months now, but which finally came into prominence this week.

I began my usual Friday reflection with
AssEptness, a celebration of my own bull-headed form of acceptance of our new reality, and maybe your's, too.

I convened the
First PureSchmaltz Friday Zoom Chat, inviting readers to join in for a rambling conversation. Five showed up to help launch this budding weekly practice. It was of course, precisely the proper five. You're welcome to join us.

Then, I wrote about the various forms of aloneness in

I took you with me on a guided tour as I drove rather aimlessly around our newly-installed

I next confessed to my credentials as one of a cadre of

I spoke with great gratitude of the
Barriers in my life.

I provided a link to my eleven year old White Collar Recession series while
Revisiting a suddenly relevant-seeming low point in my life.

I finished up my writing week by incredulously questioning the old saw

What can I say? It's a living. Us workers who deny that we're workers say that we're making a living. As I write this morning, I acknowledge than many find themselves suddenly barricaded from making that living, though no fault of their own, and find themselves dependent and accused of potentially becoming a moral hazard from accepting handouts from representatives who apparently know nothing about SimpleEconomics. Moral hazard thrives among the haughty, not the humble, and especially not among the freshly humbled. Nobody covets wealth. We covet health now, and a living more ennobling than any capitalist can count.

©2020 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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