Playing By The Rules

Howdy, Pardners…

No matter what game you play, there will always be those who see the rules more as gentle guidelines than actual rules that have to be followed by all of the players. It is part of the nature of human beings that there will always be a small percentage who cheat.

I’ve participated in many competitive sports during my lifetime, and there has always been that small core group of gamers. They’re the ones who spend a fortune for any competitive edge (they eventually turn any sport into a money sport, which ruins it for everyone else), and they study the rules looking not for the things that they can do, but instead look for all things not said. Ya see, when they get called on an obvious infraction, their answer is “It doesn’t say that I can’t do it!” And, of course, they are right. It doesn’t say that they can’t do a particular thing. This is why the rulebooks for so many sports are the size of the Encyclopedia Britannica. Yeah, it only takes a few assholes to ruin just about any sport or game.

There are trillions of dollars sitting in tax-free offshore accounts. This is where very wealthy individuals and corporations stash their money to avoid paying taxes. These particular gamers found a magic loophole in the rules that allows them to do this. The rules do not explicitly say that they can’t do it, so they do. And it is really funny. These offshore “banks” contain no actual cash. The actual cash is sitting in vaults here in America. The “transfer” of cash offshore is electronic. It’s a shell game of monstrous proportions. Smoke and mirrors.

I once owned a theater company. Every year, I would march over to the hardware store and buy new stuff. Stuff? Yeah, stuff. Stuff that can be easily stolen and put into pockets or backpacks. Tools, extension cords, props… stuff. These thefts didn’t bother me too much, because I discovered that it was cheaper to buy new stuff than it would be to stop the thefts. Theft was a business expense. It wasn’t everyone in the theater company who stole my stuff. It was a small group of people who felt that they were entitled to whatever they wanted. Their rules said something like, “If you don’t get caught, it wasn’t a crime.” And they were right. In America, if you don’t spend actual time behind actual bars, then you’ve committed no crime.

I know people who collect monthly permanent disability checks, and these people are not disabled in any way, shape, or form. They play sports, own businesses, work out at the gym, and hold under-the-table part time jobs that involve intense physical labor. They found a loophole and jumped right through it. Gamers by any other name.

When I was a kid, we bought everything on through black market. Cigarettes, booze, televisions, radios, appliances, guns, and most anything else. We were well aware that these items were stolen, but that didn’t bother us. The rules of the underclasses saw no crimes here. The rules that the “other” society played by didn’t apply to us. When you join the underclasses, you quickly learn how to manipulate the rules for food stamps and welfare. It is what we did. It was what everyone did.


Whether it be Wall Street Bankers or Welfare Queens, there will always be a small group of individuals that fuck everything up for the rest of us. Most of us… most of us… want to play by the rules. Just leave us alone and let us play by the rules.

We don’t mind playing by the rules, because we know that the rules weren’t put in place for us. The rules were put in place to protect us from the gamers. Yeah, those few and mighty assholes who just can’t comprehend the concept of a fair level playing field.

A couple of lessons here….

First, if you’re going to use a term like “Welfare Queen” to denigrate the entirety of a social program, remember that not all people who use the system… game the system. The system isn’t the problem. A small group of assholes are the problem.

Second, given that there are always people who are going to scam the system at every opportunity, the thought of the Invisible Hand of the Free Market makes less and less sense. If you tear up the rulebook, there will be no rules. If you stop enforcing the existing rules, there will be no rules. If politicians are bought and sold like commodities, there will be no rules.

Government exists to protect the common citizen from the assholes. That’s not socialism… that’s the America that our founders had in mind. They well knew that concentrations of power and wealth could ruin a society, and they knew that rules were necessary to keep the assholes in check.

And we are failing.

Have a day.

primum vivere, deinde philosophari.


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