Magic Beans Forgiveness
Jack and the Beanstalk
When I was a child I enjoyed the story of Jack and the Beanstalk. As is the case with many tales I heard during a time when my brain wasn’t fully developed and I lacked the capacity to think critically, I simply accepted the narrative of Jack’s adventure at face value.
Now that I’m an adult and can assess childhood narratives with the perspective of wisdom, I realize how immature my understanding of the beanstalk fable truly was. There’s no shame associated with my past interpretation, because I was a kid and didn’t know what I didn’t know.
Though there are many versions of the story, for the sake of the current entry I’ll focus on the one from American Literature. I chose this one, because it involves Jack acquiring gold coins, a golden egg-laying hen, and a magical harp.
In the allegory, Jack was tasked by his poor, widowed mother to sell the family cow. However, on his way to the market Jack met a man who offered magic beans as fair trade for the animal.
One may debate whether or not Jack was deceived during the voluntary transaction. Upon discovery of Jack’s actions his mother becomes angry, chastises the boy, and throws the beans out the window as Jack is sent to bed sad and without dinner.
Though memory is reconstructive, I think I recall understanding that Jack disobeyed his mother’s instruction and I related the cause and effect relationship between his behavior and resulting consequences to similar experiences I had with my mother.
Still, I reasoned—as much as a child has the capacity to reason—that in the end Jack’s decision was wise. After all, the tossed beans grew into a beanstalk and the conclusion of the story was that Jack and his mom were happy with the coins, hen, and harp.
Now, I view the story differently. Not only did Jack disobey his mother, he invaded the living space of a giant and his wife on more than one occasion.
Jack took advantage of the wife’s hospitality while stealing resources, as the wife thrice lied to her husband about Jack’s presence within the home. In essence, she enabled Jacks treachery.
Ultimately, Jack is able to carry off coins, a hen, and a harp without permission from the giant. Let’s not mince words. Jack was a dishonest thief.
When the giant attempted to retrieve his property, Jack’s action of chopping the beanstalk inadvertently led to the giant’s death. The giant’s wife then became a widow and destitute, as was Jack’s mom before she and Jack became rich from Jack’s thievery.
One may argue from a Marxist position that perhaps the giant was greedy for maintaining an abundance of wealth and that Jack was simply liberating resources from a position of oppression. From this perspective, Jack was just in his actions.
After all, the Machiavellian “the ends justify the means” axiom applies to this form of logic. Here is how such justification is represented logically:
Premise 1: It is oppressive to hoard wealth.
Premise 2: The giant hoards well.
Conclusion: Therefore, the giant is oppressive.
Premise 1: Capitalist bourgeoisie scum (haves) oppresses the underprivileged proletariat (have-nots).
Premise 2: Jack is a member of the underprivileged proletariat.
Conclusion: Consequently, the giant is capitalist bourgeoisie scum.
Premise 1: All bourgeoisies are evil and all proletariats are righteous.
Premise 2: The giant is bourgeoisie and evil.
Conclusion: Accordingly, Jack is a righteous proletariat.
Premise 1: All evil haves deserve wealth liberation from righteous have-nots.
Premise 2: The giant is an evil have.
Conclusion: As a result, Jack’s liberating of the giant’s wealth is deserved.
Premise 1: The ends justify the means when redistributing wealth.
Premise 2: Jack eventually kills the giant when redistributing wealth.
Conclusion: Subsequently, Jack’s actions are just.
As a child, I didn’t understand the logical considerations of Jack’s behavior. Now, I understand that Jack was not the protagonist figure I once thought he was.
While it isn’t my place to label Jack as good, bad, right, wrong, righteous, evil, nice, mean, and so on and so forth, I can describe what his actions mean to me. I don’t support redistributing the wealth of another individual.
Simply because one is a have-not doesn’t validate an ends-justify-the-means script that leads to supposed liberation of resources from a so-called have. I don’t have the right to take from others who have more than me and nor does Jack.
Nonetheless, I’m not here to tell others what they, shouldn’t, mustn’t, or oughtn’t to do. After all, when the Jacks of the world jack giants, it isn’t within my sphere of influence or control to stop their actions.
Unquestionably, there will be people who disagree with my stance as this blog entry will examine how some Jacks seem not to mind redistributing wealth. However, when the mission of resource liberation doesn’t go according to plan, how may Jack respond?
As a matter of full self-disclosure it may be necessary to state upfront that I had some student loans discharged in accordance with policies related to my veteran disability status. I declare this, because the information has been used to challenge my expressed position within this blog entry.
My rebuttal to this critique is that if you’re willing to serve your country by way of military service and (forbid) you become disabled to a particular degree, you may also qualify for a federal discharge entitlement. Through your service and resulting disability, you earned it.
However, this post doesn’t pertain to earned loan forgiveness. If Jack was employed by a governmental giant and was therefore entitled to resources—to include discharging his student loans—the beanstalk story would be substantively different.
When speaking of matters relating to what one deserves or to what an individual is entitled, it may be worth defining terms. The Cambridge Dictionary defines “deserve” as, “[T]o have earned or to be given something because of the way you have behaved or the qualities you have.”
Further, the Cambridge Dictionary defines “entitlement” as, “[S]omething that you have a right to do or have, or the right to do or have something.” While “deserve” involves earning something, “entitlement” involves a right.
Thinking about what I deserve, I use the following example:
When establishing services with a new client there are a number of contractual documents the person needs to complete. Without forms such as informed consent, limitations to privacy, billing information, and other matters, I won’t be able to work with the client.
The price of therapy is covered within this documentation and it is well-expressed how I process standard fees, late cancellation fees, and fees for no-showed appointments. Essentially, the client is paying for the time slot and if cancellation of an appointment isn’t within the agreed upon amount of time a charge will result.
This isn’t because I’m a no good, low down, greedy, capitalist pig. Rather, I run a business and I deserve to be compensated for services rendered in accordance with the agreement regarding my clients.
Where entitlements and rights are concerned, the standard changes. Unlike what Bernie Sanders proposes when stating, “Health care is a human right,” I disagree—depending on how one defines what a right is. What then is a right?
According to one source, “A right is a justified claim on others. For example, if I have a right to freedom, then I have a justified claim to be left alone by others. Turned around, I can say that others have a duty or responsibility to leave me alone.”
This topic may be divided into what some refer to as positive and negative rights. One source describes this difference by stating, “Positive rights require the government to act in certain ways,” and, “Negative rights require the government to refrain from acting in certain ways; governments can respect individuals’ negative rights simply by doing nothing at all.”
If there is a positive right to discharging disabled veteran student loan debt, the government is required to act in a certain way. If there is a negative right to free speech, the government is required to refrain from preventing free expression.
Still, the matter may become confusing when people use “rights,” “freedoms,” “liberties,” and “entitlements” synonymously. These are not the same things.
“Deric, what does this have to do with mental health?” I know; this is a blog post entry by a person fulfilling the roles of counselor, social worker, and life coach. Bear with me, because context matters for this topic.
A separate source expands upon negative and positive rights:
“We’ll call negative rights the kind of rights which impose on others a negative duty—a duty not to do anything, a duty of noninterference. If I have a right of this sort, all you have to do to respect that right is refrain from blocking me. Negative rights are sometimes call liberties. Now, we’ll call positive rights the kind of rights which impose on others a positive duty—a duty to provide or act in a certain way. If I have a right of this sort, you respect it by complying. Positive rights are also sometimes called entitlements.”
In this regard, the “right” to health care is a negative liberty, because no one is to interfere with my effort to acquire it through trade. It is not a guarantee though. Unless there is specific legislation enshrining it as a positive right, healthcare isn’t an actual entitlement.
Likewise, a “right” to education becomes an entitlement through the proper process, though it isn’t a negative liberty. Moreover, it isn’t something people “deserve” unless it has been guaranteed through appropriate legal or political means.
When seeking higher education, I entered into a contractual agreement with a lender. Subsequently, because of my veteran disability status—something that resulted from the earnings associated with military service—the positive liberty of loan forgiveness allowed for my loans to be discharged
Regarding liberties, one source states:
“Negative liberty is the absence of obstacles, barriers or constraints. One has negative liberty to the extent that actions are available to one in this negative sense. Positive liberty is the possibility of acting — or the fact of acting — in such a way as to take control of one’s life and realize one’s fundamental purposes. While negative liberty is usually attributed to individual agents, positive liberty is sometimes attributed to collectivities, or to individuals considered primarily as members of given collectivities.”
In this way, I as an individual have a negative liberty to seek medical treatment or pursue education—though I do not have a right to receive it. My veteran loan discharge was a positive liberty, because a collective afforded me the option to cancel my debt.
To put a fine point on the matter of rights, one source explains (and I think it’s worth citing in full):
“The negative rights vision suggests that rights come from G-d. You, as an individual human being, have rights that you would have in a state of nature—without government present, without any sort of overarching power. You would have these rights. You would have the right to defend yourself, you have the right to your own property, you have the right to freedom of speech; you have the right to bear arms. All of these things exist in a state of nature.”
“Then there’s the positive rights view of how rights work, and this is the idea that rights come from government. There are no rights outside of government. There’s a big collective and that collective gets to tell you what your rights are and therefore, if that collective decides that your rights are not as important as somebody else’s rights then they can simply redistribute the rights. They can circumscribe the rights. They can prevent those rights from being evenly applied or available to everyone. The U.S.[United States] Constitution is based on negative rights. The constitution of South Africa, or the French Declaration of the Rights of Man, those are based on positive rights.”
“Now, the way you can tell the difference between a negative right and a positive right—just in practice—is whether a right that is articulated requires somebody else’s labor or time in order to effectuate. So I have a right to bear arms. That doesn’t require anything of you. I have a right to self-defense, freedom of speech; I have a right to my own property. These require nothing of you other than you don’t get to invade that right. A right to housing, by contrast, suggests that I have to provide you housing. A right to health care suggests that I have to provide you health care. And that if I’m unwilling to provide you these things, then I have violated the social compact and I can be forced to at the point of gun.”
Given this information, negative rights are synonymous with liberties and freedom. You have them simply by existing as a human being.
Positive rights are synonymous with entitlements. You are given them by an entity such as the government.
It is worth noting that many people disagree with this summation. And why wouldn’t they when we live in a nation with people fundamentally misunderstanding their rights?
For instance, one source states, “[B]ecause of its role in helping protect equality of opportunity, health care can be tied to the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. There is, therefore, good reason to believe that health care is a human right and that universal access should be guaranteed.”
Given this perspective, one could say that the “pursuit of happiness” is directly related to one’s level of indebtedness. Therefore, a reasonable argument related to student loan forgiveness could be declared as a “right.”
Unless there is a government entitlement, I disagree with this notion, because entering into a contract by way of free association sets the standard for a lender who is deserving of repayment. However, I’m not saying I like, condone, or agree with predatory lending practices.
I’m simply stating that if you sign a promissory document, you legally bind yourself to the idea that you must fulfill the requirements of the binding agreement. I realize people disturb themselves into emotionally illogical and irrational positions regarding this matter.
This blog entry is intended for logical, rational, and reasonable consideration, not appeals to emotion. If the government intervenes with student loan debt—much as it does for disabled veterans who earned the privilege of loan forgiveness—this is another matter altogether.
Dear reader, what do you think? Is there a human right to housing, health care, education, or student loan forgiveness? Does simply declaring that these things should, must, or ought to be make the demands true?
Student loan forgiveness
As a presidential candidate in 2020, and plausibly as an attempt to persuade people to vote for him, Joe Biden declared:
“That’s why I proposed and house Nancy [Pelosi] put it in the plan to immediately provide $10,000 in debt relief as stimulus right now. Right now, for students—minimum of $10,000 relief. I’ve also proposed that you in fact have—if you come from a family where you are making less than $125,000 a year, the family, that you in fact are able to go to a state university for free. For free. And you get debt relief, for those who’ve gone to those universities in the last five years.”
There were a lot of Jacks who heard that message. After all, magic beans can be quite appealing. It’s unclear as to whether the man who trades beans with Jack is intentionally attempting to secure votes from a gullible child.
In 2021, when Pelosi was asked about Biden’s promise, she stated:
“People think that the President of the United States has the power for debt forgiveness. He does not. He can postpone, he can delay, but he does not have that power. That would have to be an act of Congress. And I don’t even like to call it forgiveness, because that implies a transgression. It’s not to be forgiven.”
At least in the tale from my childhood, the beans turned into a beanstalk. They were actually magical beans. The magic beans of student loan forgiveness never were.
I wonder if Jack ever crossed paths with the man who traded those beans. Surely, Biden made his way back into the lives of Jacks within the U.S.
Just in time for the 2022 midterm election cycle, and disregarding what Pelosi stated last year about the limits of presidential power, Biden once again made a verbal declaration about his magic beans forgiveness strategy by announcing:
“My campaign for president, I made a commitment that would provide student debt relief and I’m honoring that commitment today. Using the authority Congress granted the Department of Education, we will forgive $10,000 in outstanding federal student loans. In addition, students who come from low-income families, which allowed them to qualify to receive a Pell Grant, will have their debt reduced $20,000.”
Apparently, some Jacks are more deserving than others. This is often how positive rights—which are simply conjured out of thin air—function. I’m uncertain as to whether creating a two-tiered rights system is moral, ethical, or legal.
Nonetheless, per one source, on November 10, 2022, a “federal judge in North Texas ruled on Thursday that President Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness program is ‘unlawful.” Pelosi stated the same thing in 2021, so to those decrying this as a Trump-appointed judge, such a qualifier doesn’t matter.
The promised government entitlement (positive right) of student loan relief isn’t constitutional and therefore it isn’t lawful. One may declare that it should, must, or ought to be allowed, though this is not how the world operates.
I practice Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), using the ABC Model to demonstrate how it isn’t what happens that upsets us—though what we believe about a situation which leads to unpleasant, uncomfortable, unhelpful, or unhealthy consequences. Here’s how it works:
(A)ction – Biden continuously panders to trusting voters about student loan debt forgiveness even though it’s consistently been stated that no constitutional authority affords him the right to fulfill his promise. As it stands, those who likely traded their votes for magic beans forgiveness are unlikely to receive the resources from other people’s tax dollars.
(B)elief – You may say, “I should receive debt relief, because Biden promised at least $10,000 in forgiveness, and if I can’t qualify for relief I don’t think I can stand having debt looming over my head.”
(C)onsequence – Because of the irrational (B)elief associated with the (A)ction, you disturb yourself into anger, feel tightness in your shoulders and experience a rapid heartrate, and you drop to your knees and cry out to the sky in agony while pounding your fists on the ground.
In the current blog entry, I won’t get into the nuances of how disputation of irrational beliefs is performed. If you would like more in-depth understanding about my approach to REBT disputing, I invite you to review blog entries listed under the Disputation portion of my blog.
Ultimately, I’m reminded of a scene in Braveheart during which Robert the Bruce confronts his father after the elder betrayed William Wallace. It exemplifies how beliefs lead to consequences.
In the segment, the son angrily declares, “You deceived me,” to which the father replies, “You let yourself be deceived. In your heart, you always knew what had to happen here.”
Even for those who are unknowledgeable about how the government functions, Pelosi clearly articulated that Biden had no ability to fulfil his promise. The beans you were traded were never magical to begin with.
This situation reminds me of those who don’t think through statements such as, “Democracy itself is on the ballot,” when Barrack Obama said it six years ago and again for the 2022 midterm elections. Think about his nonsensical statement for a moment.
The ability to vote is on the ballot for which to be voted. Seriously, if democracy—the ability to vote—were on a ballot, the existence of a ballot suggests that democracy is already in place.
If one can’t see through political recycled gibberish such as this, it’s fairly straightforward as to how one may conclude that the idea of student loan debt forgiveness from the U.S. President is feasible.
I wonder what selection of beans will be served for the 2024 presidential election. What will you be willing to trade for a fruitless proposal? Altering the words from a childhood rhyme, I suggest the following:
Beans, beans, the magical fruit
The more you eat, the more you toot
The more you toot, the worse you feel
So don’t eat beans from government deals
When Jack returned home with a handful of beans his mom called him a fool and sent him to bed hungry. The child in the story is naïve, which is understandable given that he’s a kid.
When you returned from being lied to by a politician who is just shy of five decades of saying what needs to be said to beguile the public, might you question what you’re being told from now on? Presumably, you aren’t an immature child who lacks critical thinking skills.
Then again, it’s worth considering that Jack intentionally swindled the giant and his wife. The boy selfishly decided he was entitled to the resources of others.
Perhaps you, too, conclude that you deserve the tax dollars of other U.S. citizens. You have no negative rights claim to this resource, no inherent liberty by virtue of existence.
Still, you may conclude that because you exist and demand gibs, you are entitled to the money of your neighbors. And when your irrational demand isn’t met, what belief do you use that leads to unhelpful or unhelpful consequences?
Perhaps you don’t care that a president can’t fulfill the deceitful promise he issues. Who knows? Sloganeering and comfortable fallacies may be your thing. If this is the case, why maintain the belief that you should, must, or ought to be entitled to anything other than disappointment?
For those who are weary from the consequences of your beliefs involving government dishonesty, and who desire to interrupt the cycle of self-disturbance, there is hope. You no longer have to needlessly suffer.
If you’re looking for a provider who works to help you understand how thinking impacts physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral elements of your life, I invite you to reach out today by using the contact widget on my website.
As a psychotherapist, I’m pleased to help people with an assortment of issues ranging from anger (hostility, rage, and aggression) to relational issues, adjustment matters, trauma experience, justice involvement, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression, and other mood or personality-related matters.
At Hollings Therapy, LLC, serving all of Texas, I aim to treat clients with dignity and respect while offering a multi-lensed approach to the practice of psychotherapy and life coaching. My mission includes: Prioritizing the cognitive and emotive needs of clients, an overall reduction in client suffering, and supporting sustainable growth for the clients I serve. Rather than simply helping you to feel better, I want to help you get better!
Deric Hollings, LPC, LCSW
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