My mother informed me tonight that a childhood acquaintance of mine, who is a couple years younger than me, is now living in an agricultural commune in Southern California. She is not paid wages but is allowed to eat some of the food that she helps to produce. What horrified my mother most about this entire set-up is that she has never paid any money into Social Security. "She's 27 now," my mother intoned, "and she has no quarters of employment piled up yet." I think I mumbled something empathetic but vague. I guess I cannot bring myself to feel much if any horror, given that I would not really mind it so much if the entire Social Security apparatus were to just wither away.