A Functioning Society – How It All (Really) Works

Some Of Us Need Better Hobbies.

This past week students advocating for segregation at the University of Berkley, CA attempted to block some of their fellow students from attending classes. You can read about it here.  It occurred to me: at what point point does such intense focus on the trivial render a functioning society ineffective?

Reflect on the irony for just a moment. Totalitarians are operating with impunity, and not just in some backwater kleptocracy, but within an institution ostensibly devoted to critical thinking.

What I will discuss here is our collective failure to teach our young how it works. How a functioning society not only prospers, but how a functioning society works on a mechanical level.

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Theory Without Mechanics – Like Faith Without Works.

Mechanics – it’s not just for automobiles. My older brother, Michael is one of those fellows who can take a six cylinder engine down to its nuts and bolts, clean it an put it back together.

Prior to the proliferation of personal computers in the 80’s he would fix broken television sets, build transistor boards, hook up a keyboard (surprisingly hard to find back then – I think radio shack was your only option outside of the odd hobby store), hook up a cassette player (remember them?) and create a functioning computer.

My own Pastor, Scott Carver is also one of those possessing significant acumen with engines and brakes. I have a standing invite to borrow whatever I need, which includes labor, (I suspect) should I ever feel the urge to change my own rotors.  My own inadequacies will remain imbedded as long as men like this exist.

Suddenly making lieutenant colonel seems so ordinary.

My saving grace? I know the value of these skill sets.  I am also proud to say that I am dialed in to how they nest into the functioning society that is western civilization.

We’re One Solar Flare Away From Re-instituting Slavery.

The kids at Berkley sadly, do not. If they did, I’m convinced that they wouldn’t be protesting the lack of day care centers safe spaces for people of color, Lesbians, Gays, Bi-Sexuals, and “Trans-Genders.”


Solar Flare expending its energy on a trajectory that will not impact Earth (whew).

But let’s be candid. It’s our fault. While defenders of Western Civilization formed “think tanks,” wrote books and columns, the Marxists took control of the broadcast and cable networks, print media, established the K-12 indoctrination system, and assumed control of the universities.

Seriously, what did we think was going to happen?

The result? None of these kids have a clue with respect to what sustains their privileged lifestyles. Everything from ubiquitous refrigeration to our outlandishly useful smartphones is made available via an incentive-based manufacturing and distribution system. This system does not function under the guiding hand of any oligarchy, nor under the aegis of some federal agency. In fact, any part of this system where the government attempts to manage always underperforms and experiences reduced efficiency.

The Bottom Of The Pyramid In A Functioning Society.

Here is a intro of how a functioning society works.

At the base of every social order are its natural resources. You can divide natural resources into two groups: Agriculture and Mining.


The harvest is everything, because everyone needs to be fed.  Someone needs to break up the soil, and someone needs to plant the seeds. The crops will not walk themselves over to the threshing floor.  Livestock will not find their way into the slaughter house on their own.  The overwhelming majority of us are shielded from this ugly process.  Some will even think twice before eating chicken off the bone unless it’s slathered in buffalo sauce (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Oh, and a word to “organic restaurants” – there is no such thing as “farm to table.” Unless the table is on the farm. Stop lying to your customers.

Agriculture & Functioning Society http://manningthewall.com

That bowl of Honeycombs cereal got off to a dignified start.

Currently, 97% of farms in the United States are still owned by families, with 2% of the United States population directly involved in agricultural production.  Yes, 2% of the people feed the rest of us.


You want your stuff?  So do I, and we should all thank goodness there always seems to be someone willing to drag it out of the ground for us.  As long as we pay them, of course.  This applies to everything. Everything. From the petroleum in your shoelace tips, to the rare earths in the computer on which I am typing, to the steel reinforcing the foundation of the buildings in which we work.


This is where your cell phone comes from.

And you see precious little of it.

The kids at Berkley have likely seen none of it.

Here’s a primer on discerning what’s important: How long can you do without it? That’s your gauge. The local township zoning office could shut down for weeks, or possibly months before most people would notice. Try doing without garbage pick-up for a month or even going a day without the line workers from the power company turning their wrenches or making adjustments to the local transformer station. Try that for a week.

95% Of What Makes Your Life Possible Is Invisible To You.

Every building has a foundation, usually made from concrete.  Have you ever ever reflected on how it got there?  First you need to dig a hole. Not over the construction site. You need to dig a hole over a rich deposit of limestone which not always easy to find. Then you have to extract the limestone, and load it onto a truck. Ever wonder how that truck gets built? First you have to dig hole over an iron deposit – ok, we’ll get back to that in another article (maybe). Then you drive the limestone over to a cement plant.

Dig another hole over a gypsum deposit and then extract that particular mineral, and then load it onto a truck. Drive it to the same cement plant, which you’ve probably already figured out.  Grind up both minerals into a powder and mix them together. The plant operators will mix in a few other ingredients to the recipe, all of which have been dragged out of the earth.


Without this, you’re living in a tent.

Then you cook it. Yes, you cook it.   Now you have dry cement. Load the cement into a silo. Drive a forty-ton cement hauler under the silo and pour it in. Drive the cement hauler to a concrete plant. Pump the dry cement into another silo and mix it with water, sand and gravel. Drive a cement mixer under the silo of the concrete plant, and pour the wet concrete. Deliver the payload to the job site, and pour into a mold. Let cure several days, which is different from drying.  Yes, getting it done is an involved process.   And it’s why I’m immediately suspicious of anyone who claims to “get things done.”


To say the kids at Berkley are spoiled is to over-simplify, but the fact is that most of us aren’t far removed from them.  Few of us hunt for or grow our own food (including myself), which makes precious few of us truly “independent.”  And plenty of us rarely pick up a hammer and a box of nails.   We live in an age of refined specialization which means that nearly every aspect of our lives accrues the benefits of an efficient assembly lines and distribution chains. This efficiency allows for a per-capita production that dwarfs the progress of the early industrialization years.

But is also makes for free time. A lot of free time, which often allows the mind to wander and to invent problems. Plato proposed a ruling oligarchy made up of the best minds.  Given time to think, they would ostensibly be able to envision and implement  ways to improve society.  In 21st century America, leisure time is the norm for most, not just the ruling class. Do we use that free time to improve ourselves? We know how the kids at Berkley are using theirs.

About Phil Christensen

The trail behind me is littered with failure. The trail before me remains to be seen.
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3 Responses to A Functioning Society – How It All (Really) Works

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  2. Hello Colonel. Thank you for your service. My father in law was an Army Lt. Colonel, Vietnam.

    I found my way over here from a comment you posted on an article at Townhall. Bravo to you and your blog. Very good.

    This particular post of yours resonated with me because I feel similarly about hybrid/electric transportation, or “green” cars. I live in a liberal city filled with a lot of self-righteous wealthy people, so of course there are a lot of Priuses and Teslas running around, many with obnoxious license plates such as “NO MPG” and “GASHAHA”.

    Just where do these people think the minerals came from that are used in the electric motors and batteries moving their incredible egos around? What powers the gigantic machinery that digs and hauls that stuff out of the ground?

    I often fantasize about a conversation with these zero emission crusaders regarding a study to determine if the emissions pouring out of the huge diesel engines used in manufacturing their car are even possible to offset by driving said car. Call it a net pollution study.

    I have a little phrase I use from time to time that’s helpful in at least making me smile a bit in less than pleasurable company:

    Giant machines powered by oil
    Dig gaping holes in the Earth
    So you can drive a “green” car

    Live well Colonel.

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