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The Next To Last Refuge Of The Incompetent
Posted by salvorhardin in General Discussion
Thu Dec 01st 2011, 02:55 PM
A really fantastic essay looking at how Laura Ingalls Wilder's books were shot through with Depression era thinking. In fact, she wrote them because her daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, had gambled her own money, as well Laura and Almanzo's savings, on the stock market and then lost it all in the crash.

And there's Pa's fiddle. Practically a Little House character in itself, it's always in the background, singing lullabies at bedtime or ballads to lighten the long winter nights or "Dixie" as the family prepares to roll defiantly out of Kansas.

The Saturday of Wilder Days is the one day of the year that the violin is allowed out of its glass case, and the only person who's allowed to play it is David Scrivener, a Mansfield boy who decamped to Branson. It was a disappointment to learn that Scrivener doesn't much like playing the fiddle. Violins need to be played, he explained. Because Pa's is so underused, it won't stay in tune. "It's not itself," Scrivener told me.

Nobody seemed to notice, though. Accompanied by Aovie Dooms on guitar, Scrivener dipped into The Little House Songbook. Audience members jostled for position, held up cameras. After the musicians exhausted the better-known tunes in the Ingalls canon, they invited requests. I considered asking for Stephen Foster's "Hard Times," but a man behind yelled out for the "Tennessee Waltz" before I could get the words out.

Just over Scrivener's shoulder I could see the door to the gift shop, which is filled with books and flimsy calico dresses and tomahawk-making kits and T-shirts and coffee mugs. None of it is especially useful; neither Laura nor Ma would have approved.

The fiddle launched into "Pop! Goes the Weasel," and I wondered what Laura would have made of this spectacle. Both Lauras actually: the fictionalized girl and the real woman who wrote about her, to keep the wolf from the door during the Depression and to document for posterity the pioneer spirit that had permeated her childhood, however imperfectly her family held to it. Did she dream her house would become a shrine? (It's a good bet she never dreamed that a Minnesotan named John Charles Wilson would create a religion called Lauraism based on the principle that she is God.) Did she dream that her stories would be considered a prime example of family values and the virtues of the simple life? Or that 75 years after conjuring nostalgia for bygone Great Depressions as a means to soften the hardships of a current one, her creations would perform that same function for a future one?
Full essay: /

What I did not know was that Rose Wilder Lane was one of the founders of American libertarianism and a staunch advocate of laissez faire economic policy. This helps explain the hyper-individualism of the Little House books, and the omission of episodes in the Wilder family's life where they relied on friends and family to help shelter them or they skipped out on their overdue rent money.

In fact, according to this essay, Rose Wilder Lane coined the term 'libertarianism'! And the Wiki article notes that may have been the first person to compare Social Security to a Ponzi scheme.

In 1943, Lane was thrust into the national spotlight through her response to a radio poll on Social Security. She mailed in a post-card with a response likening the Social Security system to a Ponzi scheme that would ultimately destroy the US. The subsequent events remain unclear, but wartime monitoring of the mails eventually resulted in a Connecticut State Trooper being dispatched to her farmhouse (supposedly at the request of the FBI) to question her motives. Lane's vehement response to this infringement on her right of free speech resulted in a flurry of newspaper articles and the publishing of a pamphlet, 'What is this, the Gestapo?,' that was meant to remind Americans to be watchful of their rights, despite the wartime exigencies.
Wiki article on Rose Wilder Lane:

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Fort Wayne, IN
Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God? Epicurus (341270 B.C.), Greek philosopher
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