Monday, December 23, 2013

Adult Bullying: Why We Need to Shed our Animal Instincts

            Bullying is based in a power play. Such power plays are going to happen for the rest of our lives. Adults just call it office drama. Nature also shows us that predatory creatures like lions and wolves play fight to practice for the hunt. Wolves fight each other to establish who will be alpha, beta, gamma, etc. These wolves will protect their pack at all cost, but also fight viciously for rank within the wolf pack. Humans have refined their razor teeth into polished rhetoric and gossip, but make no mistake that the majority of humans are still a predatory based creature. Notice I said the majority of humans.
            The current fight is not between humans, but between the new evolution of humanity and the old predatory instincts. Humans have finally developed to a point where everyone is waking up to the fact that we need each other. We have developed weapons that can kill everyone; economic systems that can impoverish entire populations with one economic bubble bursting; and heavy machines that are polluting our earth with filthy energy (seriously, so many better options out there). This has led to a painful fact. Humans are either going to evolve and shed our predatory instincts like a winter coat, or we will all die together in a blaze of glory from climate change or World War 3.
            We have even glorified a system that harnessed our polished animalistic instincts to shocking success. We call it capitalism. Capitalism works due to the fact that it harnesses our animal instincts, but it does not work for everyone. Granted, there have been those that have evolved past this wolf pack greed such as Gandhi, Bonhaufer, and Martin Luther King. However, even these men had their weaknesses. Humans are a work in progress to say the least. However, even predatory humans are still different from animals in one key area.
            Humans are the designers of their own hell through cultural pressures, expectations, and social narratives. It never ceases to amaze me how much humans miss that fact. Is Sally in accounting really a slut, or has biology just given her a high sex drive and you're being a rude gossip? Granted, she might be making things messy with the raging hormones of her gentlemen callers, but is that really your problem or the manager's (the one responsible for keeping the office productive and professional)? Let's flip that logic on its head. Aren't the "studs" down the hall also making things messy by hitting on every secretary? To deny our basic instincts is to deny we are human, and did not God create us flaws and all? Jesus taught us how to love others past these social controls created by humans to enslave us.
            If we are a Christian nation, then why are you following the father/mother of lies and gossip into his/her hellish den. Notice I gave Satan both genders. (If feminists can have a debate about the gender of God, then we should also have a debate about the gender of Satan). Need I mention movies like basic instinct and mean girls? Both genders are equally capable of being mean. Moving on, to understand adult bullying requires looking at humanity as a whole. We have created a system of hierarchy in the modern world, and we ruthlessly punish those on the bottom of the hierarchy. We cannot change human nature. We can create a system with a different incentive motivation for our energies. Cruelty will remain in our world as long as there are incentives to backstab each other and climb the social ladder. What we keep forgetting is that the social order was created humans, which means it can be redesigned by humans. I am not saying we should all hold hands and sing Barney songs together, even our founding fathers wanted a meritocracy (meritocracy: a system were ones skills and abilities determine social rank. Even meritocracy acknowledges rank of some sort). However, have you seen how broken and corrupt our system is? Really? This is the best we can do with the wealth of America?
            We must acknowledge that high school drama is a direct reflection of adult society, because teens and young adults model themselves after the society around them and learn from the adults in that society. The first shots in the battle for the next evolution of humanity were fired in the high schools of the current generation. Our generation here and there began to realize that no one is free until we are all free to be ourselves. It is time for this evolution to carry over into the rest of society. These ideas of loving each other and working together are not new. Jesus preached this amazing message over two thousand years ago. Where do you think society got the message of love and equality? The Greeks and Romans never mentioned it in their writings of power and empire! Humans have the ability to work together, but fear keeps holding us back.
            Everyone is trying to claw their way to the top. Therefore, what happens if our kindness is perceived as weakness? This is a valid question in a world of ruthless individualism. There is no easy answer to this, which is why it must happen on a society wide scale of small victories: turning off nightly news and reading a book full wisdom, or donating to a company on kick starter. There are lots of great ideas on such websites bringing jobs back to the United States. It could be as little as shopping at a farmers market to help grow small farms instead of big agricultural corporations. These farmers spend their money locally, which pumps money into the community. Plus, you get fresher produce - everyone wins! This is going to be a long road ahead of us. The only decision the current generation of young people must make is whether we will continue to be predictors with winner take all ideology, or whether we will evolve into the next stage of human social evolution and shed our predatory instincts!  

Friday, December 20, 2013

Life Lessons from Literature, Part 2

            The majority of people want to fit in. There is something primal about being left out of some type of group. There will always be those that act like they do not care, or maybe they are an introvert that prefers to be alone with their thoughts. However, most humans want be feel apart of a group. There is something primal that goes all the way back to our survival days that makes us want to be a part of a group. The safety of knowing that someone will help us or be there for us when we fall is comforting. We go to great levels to know that people are friends with us. Honestly, we don't really need fake friends with the amount people on this planet (there are 7 billion on this planet. Surely, you can find someone who enjoys your company). Yet, we still have this desire to belong to a group. The main character, Charlie Brown, in the comic strip Peanuts is always trying to fit in, and is even willing to get abused.
            Lucy keeps pulling the football from him. Charlie Brown continues running toward the football like it will still be there. Surely, Charlie Brown has figured out that the football will be pulled from him. The only conclusion is that he does it anyway knowing he will get hurt. Humans will sometimes even take abuse or negative attention rather than be alone. He even goes to Lucy with his problems for five cents. She keeps tricking him, and he is paying her for nonsense advise? He knows that Lucy is a bully. The other characters ignore him for the most part. They treat him with apathy, and that seems to be worse than abuse to poor old Charlie Brown. He is neglected and even left out of things throughout the series (going all the way back to the November 1950 comic about being not allowed to play football - page 14 of The Complete Peanuts 1950 to 1952). The sad thing is that this wonderful piece of art is reflecting back something that happens every day.
            We see this type of willingness to be abused in exchange for acceptance everywhere from high schools, to colleges, work place, and love relationships. There is no stage of life that does not have these people in the group somewhere. It keeps happening due to the fact that there is a primal need to feel a part of something. Granted, there are those that have become wise enough to learn how to be content alone. There are also those that are devious enough to wield these internal problems of their fellow man against them. Playing with people's emotions is the oldest trick in the book for manipulative people. Charlie Brown is a sad case of someone that is willing to run toward the football hoping that Lucy with change and he will have a friend. Yet, it is this internal need of Charlie Brown that keeps Lucy confident in her ability to keep tricking Charlie Brown time after time.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Life Lessons from Literature, Part 1

     Many people like to think that they are better than everyone else. Humans enjoy feeling good about themselves. The problem is that we humans are all the same. The core that makes us human is the same as what makes other people human. Whether this thought has consciously entered the minds of humans or not- I'm not sure. However, humans are always looking for new ways to define themselves as better than their fellow man. Some cultures use ranks such as Baron, Earl, Duke, Lord, Sir, etc to define their rank. Other cultures it's a cast system (such as in the religion of Hindu). In America we have no titles or cast system to define or rank ourselves and our place in the world. Americans have solved this problem by granting ourselves titles such as Abercrombie, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Ecko, and Prada. We wear shirts with these brand names proudly displayed across our chests. Proudly shouting to the world- I spent more money on clothes then you- therefore I have more money then you. Even though the labels might have changed- the concept of using little things (which have little to do with reality) to prove that someone is superior or inferior is a concept as old as time. A monkey in a suit is still a monkey and a productive member of society in a t-shirt is still a productive member of society. In the story "The Necklace" by Guy de Maupassant I will examine how a person can berate, and rank themselves. How we inside the quiet and still of our mind can be our own worst bully.

     Loisel in the opening paragraph has a defeated attitude."She had no dowry, no expectations, no means of being known, understood, loved, wedded by any rich and distinguished man; and she let herself be married to a little clerk at the Ministry of Public Instruction." The line I enjoy most is "and she let herself be married to a little clerk". To let something happen means to allow or permit, she is permitting a lower class man to marry her. No were in that phrase is a talk of happy marriage or what a wonderful man she is marrying. Brides in American culture plan and await their wedding all their lives. However, Loisel isn't awaiting the wedding- instead is permitting it, allowing it to happen- almost as if it is an unpleasant event that must be done eventually. This has nothing to do with her husband. Throughout the story the husband is an enjoyable character with great kindness toward his wife. The wife is settling for a clerk as a husband. Yet, there is no mention of her ever going wanting. She bullies herself into believing that she is being deprived of something. Even when she has a chance to mingle with the rich at a party she still finds ways to bully herself into thinking that she must be more then she is "Nothing. Only I have no dress and therefore I can't go to this ball. Give your card to some colleague whose wife is better equipped than I." She believes that she isn't capable of going to the ball. Life is hard and then you die: life is going to be hard (have its challenges and hardships) any way you look at it, so you might as well make your life what you want it to be.

     Loisel is making her life what she thinks everyone else's life is. People even today think in such a fashion. People don't understand that the wealthy and powerful hide their weaknesses and flaws because such traits are seen as weakness. Therefore, people who take what they see are fools. The only difference between a wealthy person and a poor person is that wealthy people are better at with money. Wealth is has to do your skills with money and nothing more. However, money is the currency of our lives. However, if a person is smart enough and willing to work more money can always be made. Money can't buy friendships or family- therefore it shouldn't destroy them either; however, money is the currency of our lives. Money is how we buy and trade items we need or desire. Therefore, money is a valid issue and should not be wasted or loaned out to wasteful family members.

     Loisel not only hurts herself but also her husband in the process. "They found, in a shop at the Palais Royal, a string of diamonds which seems to them exactly like the one they looked for. It was worth forty thousand francs." Loisel was so driven to be equal to the wealth and great of the Paris that she was got into a hurry and ended up losing the neckless. The amount of money that had to be paid back not only burdened her but her husband as well. A amount of that sum is a great amount on a clerk's salary and cannot be repaid quickly. She never thinks of her husband or the extra burden that her mistake has caused him. Sadly, when people believe that they are better than others the cost to the lower classes rarely matters as long as the superior group benefits. This story is true with from the Ancient Egyptians in the Bible killing the first born of every Israelite, to the French elite taxing the poor into starvation in the streets to build their palaces (this later led to the French revolution and great stories like Les Mis being told), to the first emperor of China enslaving (and almost all dying in the process) one third of the Chinese peasants to build the wall of China. This concept has been done the world over and can be found in every people group, nation, and religion. I remember one time in physics I said "wouldn't it be great if we all had the innocence of children". My physics teacher looked at me and said "sweet heart, I have seven children- if you want to see the dark side of human nature put a toy in the center of a group of children and tell them to share." I never forgot that, my teacher was completely right. If I put a toy down in the center of a group of children (anywhere in the world) and tell them to share- I will see the dark side of human nature the second the toy hits the ground. Loisel is the selfish child that never grew up. Granted, with age we don't get any less selfish only more clever in the way that we get the toy first.

     External bullying most of the time becomes internal bullying when we start believing that the people bullying us are right and we stop believing in ourselves. The interesting part of this story is that there is no sign of external bullying. All the bullying is internal- within Loisel. She believes that she deserves better then what she has. Therefore she bullies herself into putting on a facade that isn't really her- nor does her fa├žade benefit her in any way. In the process to become better and then she is she also uses others and bring misery to people around her (her husband being the main one). No one in the story bullies her, but she becomes so obsessed with facade she has built that she internalizes her- miserable- life and begins to bully herself for not being good enough. If a person is smart, willing to learn, and work hard, then more money can always be made and our lives improved. However, in this story Loisel truly does become her own worst enemy- the bully within. She becomes her own worst bully! This is a problem the world over- in every people group, religion, and nation. We (all of humanity) cannot solve what we don't understand. Sadly sometimes the enemy that we can't see or understand is ourselves. There is so much that we humans don't understand about ourselves and the world around us. Which is why more money is not the answer to the world's problems, knowledge is the key to solving world's problems. We humans need to dive into ourselves- into the depths of our minds, our emotions, and examine the chains the tie us down. The only person we can control is ourselves, and history is filled with examples of one person changing the world, therefore we are all a powerful force in this world.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Matrix is Real as a Metaphor

            The matrix is real. It is not real in the sense that we are all brains in jars. It is real in its artistic form as a metaphor. Art reflects the reality back at us in whatever form the artist wishes to express themselves. The matrix is a metaphor for the modern world. The matrix is a set of machines that have taken on a life of their own. The people that it uses and abuses for energy are interchangeable to "The Machine". Capitalism is like this in the sense that incentives and market forces pick the winners and losers far more than the best and brightest surfacing to the top. If you don't believe me that incentives and ruthlessness are more of a factor than being best and brightest, then I'll be happy to introduce you to my English major friends. I have lots of English major friends that the free market has kicked right up the rear end! Having something that is in demand is more likely to determine your success. The ones that go from poverty to the penthouse in this modern world are those clever enough to create the demand, then supply it.
            We must think above the matrix, or forever be locked into the system. The majority of Americans still think that being loyal to their company will bring them that wonderful corner office. Granted, this illusion was always a lie unless you were male and college educated in the 1950s. The system the world build post world war 2 was one built on money. The Europeans proved that they couldn't be trusted to not start wars. Worse, they became too dangerous with atomic weapons. Germany was working on an atomic bomb at the end of the war. A Third World War could not be risked. The United States founded mechanisms to tie the world together with money. The World Bank, The International Monetary Fund, and the Federal Reserve (American's Central Bank) are all based in Washington D.C; that was not a coincidence that just happened! America had found a way to channel the warlike culture of Europe into commerce. Money was flowing and everyone was happy, but these systems have now become our masters as we buckle under their lust for more. The system had a good run, but it is now time to rethink the world once again.
             Incentives take on a life of their own, and humans become interchangeable as "The Machine" grows. Everyone keeps thinking that businesses are run by humans, which means we need to hold humans accountable. Yes and no. Yes, humans are still in control and need to be held accountable. However, greed always wants its way regardless of the talking puppet doing its bidding. This has led to a group at the top we will call big investors. These big investors live in their palaces. Everything has a reward and punishment. These people are completely removed from the consequences of their actions (environmental damage, poverty wages, etc). This class of people only look at the numbers and never see the faces of the people wearing their consequences. This class just moves their money from profitable business to another making more money. The profit incentive has caused whoever is ruthless enough to rise to the top in a dinosaur economy far outliving its usefulness. We keep thinking that people are running businesses, which is why we can appeal to their emotions. The problem is that there is no room for emotion in business, which means the profit incentive has removed those that are "weak" with emotions from leadership. This is why profit itself has taken on a life of its own.
            This current matrix has given us an upside as well. The saturated markets are so filled with stuff clogging our homes that an innovation race has begun. The goal is not to find a way to make it cheaper, faster, better. The goal is now to advance the technologies or products so far that it leaves your opponents in the Stone Age. The cell phone was just for phone calls until the smart phone blasted it into the last century. This has caused an innovation renaissance that has led to technology literally reinventing itself every few years. This is also how I believe the modern matrix can be broken without rebuilding society. We need to realize that we are all Neo in this matrix (Read my blog post Disadvantages to Advantages: Our Evolving Economy for more). We are living in an age with annoying old jackasses from the last century like the Koch Brothers and Rupert Murdoch that still think the 1950s and treating your secretary like a play toy is the way everything should be. We cannot fight these entrenched forces inside their own matrix that they created, but we can take the whole system away from the dinosaurs destroying our economy and society.
            We are living in a technology renaissance, but still the masses fight each other for the chance to become a wage slave. The masses need to out innovate the current matrix to render it obsolete and those controlling it powerless. An obsolete economy will die. Those wielding this massive power will become irrelevant as the investor class begin to back the new rising economy (remember, the investor class just watches the numbers - nothing more). We are the technology generation living in a technology society. In the movie, the main character is called Neo, which means new. We have the chance to become a generation of complete innovation, which means the masses will buy our products instead of the products of the dinosaur economy. Technology is getting to a point where the masses can own the means of production.
            Historically, it is technology that has broken the old system and brought in the new. The printing press led to mass publication, which led to mass education and the Enlightenment. The rise of gunpowder weapons allowed soldiers to be trained within months instead of years, which rendered a warrior class of knights training for a lifetime useless and silly. The rise of 3-D printing could render old world polluting factories irrelevant, and bring specialized manufacturing to whatever country gets this technology into people's hands. Solar power could create countries were power companies sell a product produced literally out of thin air, which will render disgusting coal polluting power stations irrelevant! Also, think of the profits to be made from selling something that is produced without expensive fossil fuels or expensive coal. The savings alone would make it worth the trouble!
            Picture a world where the masses finally get to control the means of production. The goods and services of everyone being bought and sold on massive websites of commerce. Such a world is possible if we commit ourselves to innovation. The matrix we are living in now was technology drive with the printing press, gunpowder weapons, and the industrial revolution. The industrial revolution matrix broke the feudal system matrix. This matrix has had a good run, but it is now time to out innovate the dinosaurs and bring about a world that works for everyone. I am not saying it will be easy or perfect. I am not even saying the old matrix will go away (we still have a Queen of England and King of Sweden, don't we?). However, I am arguing that a new world that works for everyone is possible, and it has been technological innovation from the masses that has created it throughout history. Let us not fight the current matrix on its terms, because we will lose and they will be ready for us with riot police. Let us think above the matrix they have created for us and create a new world through our creativity and innovation. Let us once again use technology and innovation to render the old system irrelevant!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Why Nothing is Changing

            Education in the United States has become an economic hierarchy system. The reason why so little is changing in the United States is that those that can afford the education are those benefiting most from the system. Rich schools have everything that money can buy. It has the nice labs and the top prize winning scholars. This does not really mean that they are better than the Colleges substituting their income with massive sports programs (see blog post College Sports: How Sports Became the Most Important). However, why would a rich kid use an expensive education to change a system when he is the top of the hierarchy? The other side is massive student loans. The problem is that such a system straps people into years of working to pay off the loans, which makes them far more docile.
            The only way out of this trap is to read everything we can get our hands on. The masses have access to the knowledge through books sold to them through the capitalist system. Irony, I know! The capitalist system is even willing to sell books about how messed up the system is to make a profit. Such is the nature of profit and capitalism! The only problem is that people are too tired to do anything with the demands of constantly rising productivity on their backs. The United States work force has been increasing its productivity every decade, but wages have not increased with that productivity. The masses have been kept so busy with the constant demands from the ruling elites for boosted productivity that they exhausted. Boosting productivity not only makes the ruling elites more money, but it keeps people too busy to figure out the real problems or do anything about it!    

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Who is in Control?

"To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize" - Voltaire.

            Americans criticizes the government all the time, but nothing happens. According to Voltaire's logic, the government is not the one in charge if we can criticize them openly. This begs the question of who we are not allowed to criticize. America has to look no further then the occupy movement and how brutally that was smashed to realize who we are not allowed to criticize. Bashing the government seems to have become a national past time with their corruption, but let us keep it in mind that we bash them not for who they are. We bash them for who they are "in bed with" as the saying goes. So, let us put this logic to the test. Can Americans bash President Obama? Yes, it is done all the time. Can Americans bash congress? Yes, it is done all the time. Can Americans protest Wall Street with fearing riot police. No, we saw how ruthless occupy was put down. Can Americans protest any corporation without police showing up ready for a riot with power lust in their eyes? No, they always show up and seem ready (and sometimes wanting) violence. Starting to see my point?

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Profit over People: Private Prisons and the Need for Prisoners

            It is my prediction that debtors prisons are going to come back to the United States. Stay with me and I'll walk you through how I got to this grand conclusion. The prison industrial complex has massive lobbying power in the United States. The prison companies make billions of dollars every year from the private prisons. The war on drugs has provided them their "customers" in the past, but even extended sentences will eventually not be enough. The nature of big business is to always push its product, which leads to new "customers" always needing to be found. The extension of sentences in the name of "justice" has caused these private prisons to make more profit to keep these prisoners longer - I see a link between "justice" and profit! Big business needs to constantly grow in order to be happy. The question now is what will happen when the war on drugs can no longer provide "customers"  and that "market" is tapped, which leads to these prison corporations looking for new "markets" to provide new "customers"? See where I am going with this? Awesome, now let us look at how this might happen.
            We now live in a technology panopticon society. The panopticon concept was created by the father of utilitarian philosophy Jeremy Bentham. The panopticon prison system was based on the concept of being constantly watched. The prison no longer had to wait for minor problems to become bigger problems. The trouble making inmates could just be dealt with quickly and effectively. The prison was set up so that the prisoners constantly knew they were being watched, but not when they were being watched. The guards could see all the prisoners at all times, but were hidden from the prisons. The effectiveness of this tactic was psychology instead of literal force being used (Read Oxford History of the Prison, or Discipline and Punishment for more). This fear is being installed into the masses is what will keep them in place.
            Poor areas are stopped and frisked for drugs, because this keeps feeding the private prison system. (vast research has been done on this if you wish to read more. Just search the web and type in prison industrial complex). There is no conspiracy about this fact. The same politicians that accept theses bribes from the prison companies are the same ones that give the police their marching orders. They have all our information to help track how much debt is out there, and anything else they want to track. So, what happens if these prison companies need more "customers"? We have already proven that they pick on people causing trouble and poor areas. Unrest in the masses are far more a result of desperation than any other reason. We have a group of college educated young people in student loan debt, which could lead to them causing trouble for the corporations pillaging the system. These ideas might just spread into the lower classes that are also in debt due to not having enough money. Notice the common denominator of debt, and the fact that these prison companies need new prisoners to keep growing.
            The two biggest groups that might cause the American government trouble as the economy gets worse could be swept away with debt prisons. The prison industrial complex will need more prisoners to keep growing as an industry to keep their shareholders happy! I foresee a future where both the poor and the new college educated poor under crushing student loan debt start to realize they are fighting the same enemy, which leads to them refusing to be divided and conquered anymore. This will cause a massive headache for our government. I believe that this will speed up the government's hunt for a way to get rid of this annoying united front from the people. The only people that will stand to make any profit off them will be the prison industrial complex, which they will figure out sooner or later. If these people are causing the government a headache, then I can easily see the laws getting rewritten to get these people behind bars and out of their hair. All they will have to do is use the information they have to slander your name, which will cause you to not be able to get work. Not able to work will cause debt to be called in, which will get you into debt prison. Thus, making the prison companies money and you out of their hair!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Money is the New Religion

            Money and Stuff is the new religion in the United States. Granted, greed and selfishness are human and international traits. Every economy the world over uses money to stream line trade in their economy. This is a given. However, the United States has begun to worship money on a level that is truly emotional and devotion based. This makes money the new religion in the country. The definition of religion is "a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held with ardor and faith". (Taken straight from my dictionary). I am going to argue through both the good and bad points of this definition to show how I got to this conclusion.
            The cause behind money is to make our lives better, because money can buy us stuff we need or want. This is not a bad thing by its nature, because it is in our nature to keep improving and progressing. There are ways to channel that energy that benefits humanity and ways that this is harmful to humanity. Recently, Black Friday happened in the United States. I watched as my news feed filled up with people getting into fights over towels and people getting knifed over parking spots. People, let me break it down for you. You work your rear end off to get that money away from a company in a pay check, then jump at the first chance to throw it away because there is a "sale" sign on something? No wonder the top 1% thinks the populace is stupid!
            The principles of the religion of money is thou shall have no other gods before money. I want all my readers to have blessing flowing on them. I want you to have nice things. However, let's get back to thou shall have no gods before money, shall we? We exalt anyone that is the most loyal servant of money regardless of how they got it. The Kardashians have basically prostituted themselves in pretty much every way. Sometimes literally with sex tapes. We exalt her. The family makes their wealth by the fact that we are constantly paying attention to them. We give these people titles like celebrity and fame for their bad behavior. This makes them wealthy. Their bad behavior is quickly forgiven as people wish for their lives as their wealth and power is flaunted for all to see. Thus, bad behavior is only looked down upon if it does not bring wealth. Thou shall have no principles/gods before money is established.
            The system of beliefs that keeps this going is ruthless individualism and winner take all ideology. The top 1% fills the air with programming for the noise boxes (TV) that is filled with jackasses telling the masses the wealthy deserve the money. Why? Because they were the ones smart enough to trick the masses into buying useless products from slave labor factories. Sure, you get bored with the product with a week, but you need the product in the exact moment you are told you need it! Silly people with morals. Learn to trick people into buying things they do not need if you want to be wealthy like the jackasses you worship! Sarcasm aside, the point I'm trying to drive home is that money above else has created devoted religious leaders of this message of worshipping the rich for no other reason than their wealth. Do not worry mindless sheep like people, I have not forgotten you.
            This principle of ruthless individualism and winner take all ideology is the only thing about trickledown economics has flooded into the masses. A man was stabbed, this past Black Friday, over a parking spot. The man was stabbed at a Walmart. Let us think about this for a second. A human being was so eager to throw his money away on useless products from Walmart (only hours after being thankful for what he has) that he was willing to stab someone. Thus, the 99% prove that the new religion of money (and the stuff it buys us) has crossed into all social classes and levels of society. The devoted disciplines of the religion are carrying the message of their masters far and wide. To all corners of the globe shall this message go forth with globalization! The example of a man getting stabbed is extreme, but there were enough examples of people getting into fights over stuff for me to call it a nationwide cultural thing!
            The system is kept in place by the fact that every American views themselves as the next rich person. I keep hearing how people are going to make it big someday. I want people to be successful, but let us break down what success means in this concept. These Americans are not saying they want to live full lives or better lives with money making their lives easier. They are looking at the bad behavior and wealth of the rich and saying "I want to be like that". Why would the masses want to be like the jackasses they keep seeing on their noise boxes? Society must overhaul its definition of what success is and what a better life means, or we will just keep replacing one trickster for another! Leaders wanting to build a better world will only rise when the people start following them instead of lies they have been fed by the wizard behind the curtain (wizard of oz reference). People should use money to live, but we have become a society that lives to make money.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

What is Capitalism?

            What is capitalism? Most people say that it is a system of buying and selling goods. However, people have been buying and selling goods since the beginning of time. So, what is capitalism? It is not always big investments that drives everything! So, what is capitalism? How is capitalism any different than all the other systems throughout history. Think about it! If capitalism is the buying and selling of goods, then how is it special from every other system throughout history?

Monday, December 2, 2013

Religious Narratives and Women's Rights.

            Religion affects culture and is a part of culture. The main way that religion is a part of culture is by providing a social narrative for the masses to follow. Religion has many characters, but we are going to focus on Christianity and the Abraham traditions for now. The very nature of our gender roles comes straight from the Bible. The Abraham traditions believe that the sex organ people are born with defines what role they play in society. The roles are molded by the narratives of the patriarchs and matriarchs found in the text. In this blog we will explore the two main matriarchs and how women have been treated based on these matriarchs. Eve and Mary are the main female characters, but I fully acknowledge that there are others. The reason for picking these two is their roles as mothers to life. Eve is the mother of human life, and Mary is the mother of spiritual life in the form Jesus. The narrative of these characters have created the virgin and whore contrast we see women suffering under today.
            Eve was the naughty wife that disobeyed and caused the downfall of mankind. The question that modern humans need to start asking themselves is whether or not this narrative made its way into western culture. Do we treat rogue women as dangerous and needing of a man's control? There are many ways to frame the question, but let us break down the narrative. The woman acted on her own and was easily tricked into doing something that she should not have done. She led her husband astray and caused the downfall of humanity. She thought on her own and become dangerous to humanity through her disobedience to God. This caused her husband to go against the will of his God, which shows a system of hierarchy right away with dangerous subordinates acting on their own thoughts. The rogue woman acting on her own caused the downfall of humanity, which leads us to the innocent virgin that saved society through obedience.
            Mary is a virgin from the very beginning of her story in the Bible. This shows that she is a good little girl submitting to the hierarchy. She stays in her place by doing her part giving complete possession of her sexual experiences in exchange for marriage. She only has one man that she submits to, and her husband submits to only one God (hierarchy complete). Her obedience of the hierarchy is what earns her the privilege to be the mother of the world's savior. She is a character that transcends the hierarchy by getting to mate with God, which is her husband's master. Mary does not think for herself or act on her own. She obeyed the hierarchy and what is asked of her. The narrative repeatedly talks about how Mary was obedient to God. This shows a narrative where a woman is exalted above all others due to her unquestioning obedience. This leads to the question of whether or not these characters have been a part of how women have been treated in western society.
            Eve thought on her own and went rogue, and caused the downfall of mankind; Mary obeyed the hierarchy and became the exalted mother of salvation. Has this narrative caused the foundation of how women have been treated throughout History (obeying virgin and rogue whore)? I believe that this is wrong and the fact that we strap women into a narrative like this with only two choices is wrong! Granted, there are lots of other women in the Bible that could be picked to represent women, but these two characters tend to pop up over and over as the main female characters. Modern humanity needs to break out of this trap it has set for women for hundreds of years. Whether this is done by picking new female role models to exalt in our religious texts (there are lots that get no attention), leave this narrative behind, or create a new narrative for women to model themselves after is for society to discuss and debate to a conclusion. The point of this blog article is to point out how these religious narratives are far more than just stories, and how the narrative of these two women creates the foundation of how western society has treated its women for hundreds of years. 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

College Sports: How Sports Became The Most Important

            College coaches are making more money than ever before in history. Some people think that this is a problem for society, because it shows a shift from academics to athletics. The argument on one side is that big sports programs make lots of money for the University. The other side is arguing that the money should be going to academic programs. I agree with both sides, and I believe that both sides are missing one key reason behind this drive toward massive sport programs. State houses are slashing the budgets of their Universities like crazy in this bad economy. So, let us look at where a lot of these big sports problems are popping up.
            The states with leaders cutting higher education budgets are where these big sports are popping up. Granted, there are case by case situations. However, this is a pattern I have begun to see in higher education. So, let me paint a picture for you. You are a President of a big college and the state budgets are slashing things from their budget like a butcher. You have worked too long and too hard to get into the big chair. The federal government is telling you that there is no more money, but everyone knows that the military industrial complex lobbies to are draining the system dry with wasteful spending at the pentagon. This is forcing state governments to beg for every penny, and they are telling you to find the money somewhere. You tried raising tuition, but the student body are already drowning in student loan debt (1.2 trillion in my generation). A memory of last year student protests flashes in your memory. That's the last thing you want. The numbers come in about how much money sports are bringing in. A championship would double those numbers. What would you do?
           Begging for bigger budgets from the state house might work from time to time, but thousands of screaming fans are guaranteed income for the College year after year. A winning team allows building to be built and grad students to get research done. The dangerous side of this is not in the logic that led to the result. The dangerous side is the fact that I see a pattern of universities picking their source of income (sports programs) over their mission statement of education in the name of education. I do not mind if the football team follows the logic above in helping build buildings, but I fear that the source of income is taking on a life of its own. Our government cares little about education (regardless of what they say). The children of government leaders go to private schools, which makes the slashing of budgets far less personal and much easier for them. The colleges have been told to make up the difference in their budgets, and this is how they are doing it. These college presidents are caught between a government that pays lip service to education (did I mention their kids go to private colleges?) and a student body that cannot take on anymore debt. My generation is already drowning in 1.2 trillion of student loan debt, and this is the solution they have come up with.    

Friday, November 29, 2013

Animalistic Materialism

            I started watching videos of the Black Friday madness, and was saddened by what I saw on my screen. There was a story of a man getting cut with a knife over a parking spot at Walmart. There were stories of fights, people getting shot, and madness that would not be accepted any other time of year. Any other time of year we would have been horrified over people acting this way over a parking spot, but on Black Friday it just another story in a stream of nonsense! Are we so primal and itching to turn into animals over cheap products! No wonder the other countries are doing better than us in economics. Some of these other countries even produce quality products. I know, quality and not on sale - what is this silly concept? Sarcasm aside, I can only imagine what other countries must think when they read these stories.
            People do an awful lot of complaining about the top 1% destroying this country, then act like this in their stories begging for just a few damn dollars off that TV?! These normally rational people boldly talk about how they are not some dumb sheep to be controlled, then flock to stores and risk being trampled like cattle at the first sale of the season. Yes, I said trampled. Check the internet for the story from a Long Island Walmart. We cannot say that we can build a better world if we work together, then act like this on Black Friday. The very concepts are opposed to each other. I've studied economics for some time now. I've learned one simple lesson. If you have money to spend, then someone will be willing to give you what you desire.
            We live in an age where anything you desire can be brought to your door in 3-5 business days, and we act like this nonsense I keep seeing hitting my news feed? What good is our technology, our status as a world power if this is what it leads to? My head master at my prep school would have been horrified at this behavior, then sat these people down for a lecture on original sin. The majority of the people I saw in these stories needed to get the ruler from an angry religious school teacher that has never been laid. But hey, that's marriage for you. Boom, didn't see that joke coming did you!? Our school masters were Protestant and allowed to marry. Moving on, the point I'm trying to make is simple. I'm not saying that you shouldn't have nice things. I got free shipping on all the stuff I bought. Oh yes, I do enjoy free shipping! Seriously, it's called online shopping - check it out!
            However, how can we call ourselves a Christian nation when people behave like this only hours after being thankful for what they have? I want you to have many blessings and that big screen TV. Football is awesome on a big screen, but God also created us as humans with divinity and self respect. I promise you that someone will be willing to sell you a TV after Black Friday. There are lots of great options for you to get the goods and services you desire in our modern economy (Seriously, it's called online shopping. It comes right to your door! How awesome is that!) I fully acknowledge that I cannot condemn everyone for the actions of a few, but the fact that these stories kept hitting my news feed regularly is what saddens me. These types of behaviors would not be acceptable any other day. So, why does Black Friday turn people primal? What I saw in some of these stories was not shopping or anything else you want to call it. It was straight up animalistic materialism! Also, to all the people that fought over a TV today - try a book next time.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Greedy Interpretation: The Dark Side of Religion

            The problem with religion is that it can be interpreted into whatever the speaker wants it to be. Don't believe me? Is it wrong to kill another human being? Everyone I ask this question of answers with the firmest yes. "Everyone can agree on that!" Okay, is it okay for an executioner to kill in the name of society? What about if a solider kills in war? See how easy I muddied the waters? I took something as simple as "thou shall not kill" and turned it into a debate. This blog post is not about the morals of that issue, but the point still stands on how easy it was for me to turn the easiest point into a debate. The simple fact is that the lines are not as clear as we want to think they are. Now let us take it in a really tricky direction. What do you think about the theology of the trinity? What do you think about the Martin Luther's book "Bondage of the Will"? If I can cause a debate out of a simple thing like "thou shall not kill", then imagine what I can do with a theology degree. Picture a room full of people looking to me for their spiritual leadership and they know nothing of theology. Granted, they could just buy the same books I read on amazon. (Confessions of St. Augustine is an awesome place to start). However, many of them do not and look to me to make sense of it all. Did I mention that eternal damnation and the power of God is the authority I'm operating under? I didn't mention that, now I have - let's move on! Picture how easy it would be to twist everything I learned to whatever purpose I want it to become. Can you picture how much power that would wield of the masses?

            Some of the wisest people I've met have theology degrees and are leaders in the Christian community.....but it is the kind of power described above that makes religion so dangerous. It is not the message of most of these religions that make them dangerous, but how easy it is to twist their original message to the will of the speaker that makes them dangerous. Sadly, a lot of people have thought of this as well, and have acted on it for their own greed. Get a book on the Borgia family. They will make your skin crawl with their corruption in the 1500s. Jesus warned us about con-artists coming in his name. He was well aware of how easy it was to trick the masses. Only a few have listened to this warning. What was the result? Television pastors demanding money and telling people whatever they want to hear. Also, it is not just Christianity that is in on the act. The ruling house of Saudi Arabia uses the Koran to back up their rule. Yes, this is the same ruling household that preaches love and community from the Koran, then exploits their neighbors for money and power. See how easy it is when dealing with complex messages? The sad part is that most of these religions stared out to do good. Jesus died for humanity, and wanted everyone to love each other. That is an awesome message of good news. Yet, humans all around the world take these simple messages of love, compassion, and community and twist them to their own will. "For all have sinned, and have come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). Yes, all fall short...but some see how easy it is to trick their fellow man, then jump off the cliff on purpose taking a lot of their fellow man with them.  

Monday, November 25, 2013

Silly Dog

            The other day I was playing with my dog. She was perfectly happy with her toy, but I picked up another toy and started to squeak it.  She dropped what she was doing to see what  I had at in my hand. We played with the new toy and had a great time.  The next day, I wanted to see if she could be distracted again by the simple squeaking of a toy. She left the current toy she had and watched the toy I had in my hand. She really wanted that toy I had in my hand, even though the toy she left was much better. I thought to myself "silly dog! Why did you leave a better toy, because the other one distracted you?"

            The next day I saw an advertisement for something. All of the sudden I wanted it. I do not know if it was the pretty girl or if the product is any good, but it was presented in a way that made me want it. The fact that I was my dog in the hands of a clever advertiser never crossed my mind at that moment. Then something amazing happened. My dog came up and wanted to snuggle, and I thought "silly dog" thinking back to how easily she is distracted, then it clicked all at once. I slowly looked back up at the advertisement that had done such a good job to make me want their product. I began to wonder if she looks at me and thinks "silly human". 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Lessons from the Master, Part 3

"The time is now near at hand which must probably determine whether Americans are to be freemen or slaves" - George Washington
            George Washington won the American revolution by not losing. Most people think that winning is how to win a fight. Sometimes, not losing is the best way to win. George Washington only won a few battles in open combat with the British. The British were the most powerful nation on earth at this time. They had a navy that could supply them, and an army with veterans of the French and Indian war in their ranks. Most people are taught that the British did not know what they were doing, but that is nationalist pride on the part of Americans. The historian Andrew O'Shaughnessy touches on this in his book "The Men Who Lost America". The British were skilled fighters. Think about it! They had an Empire, which is not easily won! George Washington and his subordinates (such as Nathan Greene) knew that the British wanted to face them with superior numbers in open conflict. The Americans would be destroyed in open warfare. They also knew the British could not replace their numbers quickly. Granted, there were plenty of men out of work with the enclosure act kicking the peasants off the commons, but sailing armies across an ocean was expensive and England had a massive debt already. George Washington knew that he could not win a war in open conflict, but he could keep the British in the war. Every year in war and every battle ran up the cost. George Washington knew that the cost would break the British far before open battles would.
            Life is hard and injustice is everywhere. Most of the injustice in this world is done by people that believe they have nothing to fear from the person/people they are oppressing. Standing up to an opponent that can crush you is scary, and mostly leads to defeat before the conflict even begins. However, even giants have their weak points. George Washington knew that not losing was the key to winning. He could replace troops faster than the British. He could move around faster and knew the country with spies everywhere! George Washington only fought battles on his terms, and never on British terms. This gave him a few victories to keep the enemy frustrated and after him, but never let the British tempt him into a battle he could not win. Opponents that know they can crush you will want a swift fight and will bait you into conflict with them. They might even call you a coward for not "fighting like a man". This is a power play to bait you into making a mistake. Deny them that advantage, and make every battle on your terms and costly. This will frustrate them, but never give them anything solid to attack. Even bullies will retreat when the cost of battle grows too much. Basic human selfishness teaches us that everything has a cost benefit balance. Bullies pick on easy prey that are already defeated in the mind, which will make you an easy slave for those bullying you. Fighting the person head on will just be a wonderful opportunity to make an example of you to the rest of the world.
             They will bring everything against you to make you an example of what happens to those that oppose them! However, conflict is expensive and time consuming. This is why a war without a solid battle is horrible. All the expenses of war are there, but nothing is gained. They know they can crush you, which enrages them to keep chasing you. They may lose interest, which is why they must be kept infuriated and chasing you. Washington also knew that never engaging would cause his own army to lose moral and stop fighting. He kept engaging with the British to keep them believing he was a real enough threat to keep a large army in North America. The more annoying he became, then the more they wanted to break him. However, he never fought on their terms and kept them chasing him. He knew they would eventually make a mistake and the cost would become to much for the British to withstand. The growing cost of war would do all the work for him. Support and moral for the war went through the floor. The British eventually made their mistake at Yorktown, and that was it. The British could have sent more troops and another army, but they were financial breaking. Merchants were screaming for an end to the war and for trade to get back to normal. The moral was broken. The British retreated and gave America it's freedom from the Empire. George Washington did not view the size of his opponent as a problem, but its weakness. He realized that their superiority was amazing, but was also a drain on their national debt. All he had to do was keep the giant annoyed and chasing him, and the belief in British superiority (their ego) would do the rest.  

Friday, November 22, 2013

Lessons from the Master, Part 2

"Not by speeches and votes of the majority, are the great questions of the time decided, but by blood and iron." - Otto von Bismarck
            Otto von Bismarck said this during a time of great changes happening in Europe. He would go on to lead the Prussian Empire to become the top leader in German Unification and rise of the modern German state (mid 1800s). The main changes that he saw happening all around him were happening too quickly for the old men to argue over. He understood that the leaders of Europe were reorganizing their armies and updating all their tactics and equipment. He understood how effective the tactic of divide and conquer was. Germany was in Central Europe and was extremely vulnerable to the rulers finding a way to culturally divide the German princes. He knew the German princes were going to all argue till the other nations acted fast and hard. He knew that swift action would be needed if Germany was to become a united country against the modern armies of other European countries. He knew that if everything was hammered out by letting old men argue, then they would face the blood and iron of other countries. This might mean enemies on all fronts sensing weakness and wanting their cut. So, he decided to act swiftly in all areas instead of waiting. He politely listened to whatever others thought and gave the illusion of letting people think they had power, but constantly and relentlessly acted with what he thought was best.

            Life is hard, and sometimes we make it harder by giving enemies time. Humans have a nasty habits of wanting what others have, which could mean anything from your corner office, your nice new apartment, etc. Jealousy is a nasty and constant trait in our world. However, we make it worse by sitting on our gut feelings and waiting to think through every detail. Granted, you should always think before you act. However, sometimes wasting time (giving an opponent time) can be just as dangerous as rethinking what your gut is telling you. Otto von Bismarck became the master of politics by thinking through every move, then acting on it relentlessly once his believed he knew the answer. He was willing to make changes along the way, but never stopped going toward his goal. Sometimes letting your opponent come to you can be good (see Lesson from the Master, part 1), but in a time of rapid changes it is dangerous. Letting your opponent come to you can be good when you can keep them at arm's length and guessing, but Otto von Bismarck was dealing many enemies on multiple borders. Waiting for one enemy would just give the enemy on his other border time to encircle him. He thought through every move, then acted swiftly and constantly kept changing the game faster than his opponents could counter. He robbed them of the time they needed to encircle him by making alliances with greedy foreign leaders, then swiftly acting one step ahead (not just thinking one step ahead). He would politely listen to people over thinking everything and giving advice. This gave others the illusion of being involved and his ally, but he was already secretly acting on his next move.   

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Lessons from the Master, Part 1

"Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee" - Muhammad Ali
            This metaphor has two contrasting images at the same time, and that is the strategy behind this. Muhammad Ali would keep his hands at his side while he was fighting and would be very inviting to anyone that wanted to attack him. He would keep his guard down and tempt his opponents into attacking him like a harmless butterfly. He would float around the ring like a butterfly welcoming a fight to the superior fighters. He would wait for them to take the bait, then sting like a bee. The strategy won him endless fights in a world of cocky athletes. He used their cocky attitude against them. He knew that they would not be able to resist an easy target.
            He fought on his terms. He made himself a easy looking target by floating around the ring frustrating his opponent. He knew that as long he could keep his fellow boxer frustrated, then they would eventually lash out and make a mistake. It was in this mistake that he would he would sting like a bee. The key to his fights is that he did not allow the fight to get to him, but made sure it got to his opponent. He had all the time in the world as long as the other boxer was wasting his energy tiring himself out. The world of boxing is very much like business or politics. People like to feel important and are all too prone to thinking that the world revolves around them, which is wonderful to let them think. Let them tire themselves beating their chests about how awesome they. You have all the time in the world as long as you fly under the radar and appear innocent like a butterfly.

            People that think they are God's gift to humanity are bound to make a mistake eventually. If they pick on you or think you as easy prey, then float like a butterfly and forgive them. It will mess with their heads on a level that they won't expect, then they will view you as harmless. A useless, weak person that does not want to mess with them. This buys you all the time you need to wait for them to come to you on your terms, like Muhammad Ali use to do. People like that are normally well known to everyone else as well. People might not say anything. However, if they are picking on you, then chances are they are doing it or have done it to others. This is why forgiving them is important. This gives you the moral high ground for when they make a mistake, then sting like a bee. People see far more then they acknowledge to seeing, and even the strongest alpha will fall without allies to help protect him/her. A arrogant jerk that does not take care of his/her allies will be that much more vulnerable when he/she makes that mistake and you sting like a bee!

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Purpose of Fiction

            Fiction is more then just a set of stories. The goal of a good reader is to find the hidden meaning in these stories. The reason that the reader looks for the hidden meaning is because good writers hide truth in fiction. The movie the Matrix was a movie about a non-caring machine that plugged everyone into an illusion that caused them to become the batteries that powered the machine. The machine sucked the life out of the people, but they lived in a fantasy world created by the machine to keep the people blinded from the fact that they were a useless and replaceable number. The reality is that this is just a story. Anyone that reads anything into this can easily hide behind the concept of "it's just fiction dude". However, the careful artist hides insight he cannot prove inside of stories, and the careful reader sees the insight that is hidden. Is the matrix a fun story - for most it is. Or, is it a metaphor for the modern world of apathetic business that works people all their lives and sucking the life out of them? Is the quote about people being so hooked on the machine's illusion that they will fight to defend it refer to a machine in sci-fi or a reflection on people in society? It's just a story, right?
            The point of these fiction novels is that people do not pay attention to other forms of communication. Granted, there will always be authors that write to pay the bills instead of inspire or enlighten. However, the quality authors write well and hope that someone finds their meanings hidden. Sure, people can spend a life time studying economics or politics, but is that really the best way to spend your time with a family to feed? The majority of the masses do not have the time to read through all the latest articles about what is going on in the world. Plus, who wants to read these boring articles after a hard day at work? The information about how the world works is completely out there. However, the world rarely changes. The reason that the world rarely changes is because those reading these articles are mostly at University due to coming from a social class that could afford it, which means they come from a social class that has little incentive to change a system that helped their families achieve that social class. Sure, we peasants could go to the public library and figure it out, but that would require time that is normally needed to earns wages to buy things like food and rent. I hear homelessness is a real bitch! Now, I know what you're thinking. And no, none of this is a master plan of some secret society. A professor once told me "if you have to pick between incompetency and conspiracy, then always assume that it's basic human greed and stupidity and they are just covering their ass and you'll win most of your bets". (how true) Study economics and history long enough, and you'll realize that greed and stupidity are the cause of most suffering. So, what does this have to do with fiction? Simple, insight cannot always be shared openly when these insights could be unpleasant to those that don't want you to see behind the curtain (wizard of oz reference).
            The irony of capitalism is that is can commercialize even hatred against it, which is why it cannot be defeated. Let's look at some of those artists that have successfully done it and made millions off the system while they were at it! George Carlin did HBO specials about how the system is rigged by ruling elites and everyone praised him endlessly for standing up to the man (the truth is that there is no "the man" there is society, economics, incentives, etc - that's it!). He sold millions of DVDs on his specials, but who do you think produced and profited from those DVDs? The V for Vendetta masks that everyone is wearing to protest "the man" are made in sweatshops in China, then sold by Warner Brothers. The artist that came up with the graphic novel and the character made millions. Children walk around all the time with shirts that say "independent" that were made in sweat shops and sold at the mall (the forum of capitalism). The reason capitalism cannot be defeated is that it is just a system of buying of selling, and that will always exist. However, sometimes there comes a time when the system becomes oppressive or injustice becomes normal. So, that is why these artists begin to rise due to the demand in the market for discontent or rebellion. Where there is demand, then there will be a supply. If the population demands art that shows rebellion, then someone will supply that desire. See how flexible capitalism is? They use the very system itself to get their message across. "Uncle Tom's Cabin", "V for Vendetta", and the "Matrix" are just stories. However, there is so much more to them when you look beneath the surface. The reason why fiction is so needed is that it can make people feel in one graphic novel, movie, or novel what would take academics years to study and convince people of. Academics argues from the point of logos, but the true artists of society are the ones that argue from a pathos point of view. Granted, some stories are written just to entertain (artists have bills too!). However, true art is a pathos argument about society in disguise. The key for readers is to find these truths and hidden pathos arguments hidden under the mask of "just fiction".

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Thank You!

             Thank you to all my readers and followers! We have hit our first goal on this blog, and now we are going to take it to the next level! I'm going to start posting every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday. Start checking back on those days for new posts!

Front Porch Philosopher,
Joshua Owens

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Disadvantages to Advantages: Our Evolving Economy

            The current generation is having a hard time finding jobs. There are a few reasons for this. We will begin by looking at the economics of America and how it got to this point. Time to use that education, right? The current problem with the United States has been happening for years. The problem starts in the 1975 in Youngstown Ohio. The steel plant there is closing because foreign markets are undercutting US steel companies and fighting to take the global market. This is fine, but it is not a fair market. The Japanese government is subsidizing the steel to cut the legs out from under the domestic steel companies. The government under Jimmy Carter could have done something, but the president decided to just let the free market take its course. The Chinese are also starting to build us their economy and positioning themselves to take a leading role. Relations between China and the United States began under Nixon and are beginning to bud.
            Fast forward twenty years, and now we are in the 90s and everything is running smoothly. Everything is now made in China, but all those wonderful white collar jobs needed to support the growing capital are rapidly paying high wages. The money is flowing through the economy and Regan has just smashed the Russians. There is no limit to how much wealth and happiness can flow through an economy. Happy times are had by all. There is so much money flowing that banks begin to demand deregulation and the removal of the Glass-Steagall Act under Clinton. China now begins to want acceptance into the world trade organization. Cheap goods are flooding into the America market like never before. Everyone is so happy that they are saving money on these goods, Wall Street is up and behind the scenes playing with dangerous new investment tactics, and now bundling house mortgages. The markets are beginning to declare that we are transitioning to a new service economy, which leads everyone that would have normally gone into manufacturing to go to College. Remember, we (society) were being told that College equals success in this new global economy of white collar jobs! Workers go to College in droves, which sends the demand for College through the roof. With expensive text books and student loans in hand everyone is off to College. College no longer becomes a place to advance your mind, but a training ground for those white collar jobs.
            America goes to war in the early 2000s, and starts spending money on credit. The economy seems fine with everything going so well. The government convinces everyone that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction and the money starts flowing to the military. Expensive defense contractors start making money like it is going out of style, and they love it. The more we stay at war, then the more they make. This gives them plenty of money for lobbying the government for more money. The war continues far longer then it ever should have gone. The companies keep pushing for longer and longer wars, which drives us deeper and deeper into debt. We are paying for these wars from the Chinese and other countries abroad. So, we bought from the Chinese at low prices and were borrowing from them to pay for wars we couldn't afford. They were taking our jobs and loaning that money back to us with interest. Well Played China! Well Played!
            So, how does all of this mean bad jobs for the current generation about to leave College? Fast forward to the Great Recession. The housing bubble burst causing our economy to take a nose dive. The Fed realizes that we are about or take our entire economy down and our allies. They panic and flood the market with money, and banks are happy to take the money (because we peasants can't be trusted with it). The banks promise to start lending money, but then never do. Surprise, they lied! Companies panic causing they to stream line everything that is not needed. White collar jobs are not needed to support manufacturing jobs if there are not manufacturing jobs. Companies "cut the fat" at record rates. The supply of college graduates has never been higher, and goes through the roof with a steady stream of workers getting laid off. Supply and demand takes effect. The supply is up, which means the demand is low. College graduates become easy to get, which makes them disposable and replaceable. They can now pay you whatever they want and you just have to take it. China is now revving up their education system to take the white collar jobs away from the United States. This means we are now competing both domestically and internationally for the same jobs.
            Why is all this happening? Who benefits from this. I'll give you one guess! That's right, the top 1%. They get cheap goods to sell you and an unlimited supply of talent that they can basically set the wages for. They are now benefiting from the cheap goods and the low cost of both college educated work force here and the non-college educated work force abroad. Here is the real kicker. They are not even willing to pay their corporate taxes to help the American people get out of this student loan debt that they helped put us in. However, the simple fact is that we cannot look back anymore. Yes, more could have been done to prevent these things from happening, but we are where we are.
            We need to start figuring out how to get out of this mess. The fallout from not getting out of this mess will be enormous. If young people cannot find an income source of some sort, then they will not move out, have children, or consume goods they would have had the money to buy. The fallout we are facing is simple and drastic. A young generation with no way to support themselves will not have children they cannot afford, which will cause the birth rate to fall through the floor. People arguing over population might like this, but a work force that cannot replace itself causes problems. The Japanese are having this problem as we speak right now along with Europe and soon to be America. Older generations will not be able to retire due to having to support children into their 30s (Spain is a flawless example of youth unemployment). The young people will not consume in the market like they did before, which will cause a loss of companies that carter to the middle class with luxury goods. The fallout will go on and on, and it will snowball. So, what can be done?
            Bill Clinton did come out with a book awhile back. He talks about how America needs to do things that others cannot. I agree with the emotion behind what he is saying, but I disagree with his conclusion. Anything and everything we can do can be done better and cheaper somewhere else. Big investors can absolutely find another country without a crumbling infrastructure and with a government willing to work with them. Australia, Switzerland, and France have done a great job to keep their economies thriving. People are beginning to put forth ideas about to fix the problem, but I believe that they are missing one key thing that young people have on their side in spades - a love and working understanding of technology. Stay with me and I'll give you my solution, I promise.

            Think about what you're good at. Now, can you start selling that with your out of work free time and parents wifi? Ebay and Amazon will be happy to help you make money if you help them make it to! Can you make awesome wooden toys? Great, start selling those on Ebay. Are you good at graphic design for t-shirts? Great, start printing some up and find buyers on the internet that like your designs. Start your own website. Are you a good writer? Great, start a blog like this one. Are you a good musician? Great, make a YouTube channel and start promoting your music online. I'm not saying that you should quit your job earning low wages, and we should push for a living wage. However, I'm saying that it is time for my generation to start something. There is a great book called "Poke the Box" where the author argues that everyone needs to get over their fear of starting something. He goes on further to say that our society has been taught to be complacent. I'm taking his argument one step further. I'm saying that right now we need to reverse our thinking. Robert Greene talks about turning your disadvantages into advantages in the "33 strategies of war". We keep viewing a group of young people out of work and living in with their parents after graduation as a bad thing. We need to start viewing it as a good thing. We have a generation of tech savvy young people that are College educated with time on their hands. This should not be viewed as free time, but as an opportunity to start something. Get up in the morning and go full steam ahead. Don't be afraid to learn, fail, and figure it out. Young people (and people everywhere) need to no longer view their time as free time, but as time that is not required by something else. I'm arguing that we are living in a world where anything can be ordered online and shipped anywhere in a timely fashion. It is our generation that is tech savvy enough to take full advantage of this. Let the individual craftsman rise and sell his products to a world market that is waiting.            

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Sneaky Tactics: Friend or Resource?

                Humans have to figure out a lot things in this life, but one of the hardest is figuring out who is friend, foe, or neutral. The secret is keeping an open mind. We don't know where allies will come from, but never be desperate for allies and take care of the allies you have. Everyone has their needs and wants. Help them get to where they are going and they will help you, but be careful not to let people take more then they give. There is a difference between friends and being a resource in the name of friendship. "Friendship" has been the biggest way to turn humans into resources. People need bodies and the labor those bodies produce. This happens at all levels from youth groups to high government agencies.
                Being too generous will make you a resource and people always want to control their resources. This will make people want to control you. They will begin to shut down your ideas and begin to link access to their resources (their time, connections, etc) in exchange for your obedience. They will begin to put buffers between you and them to keep you under control and following their ideas. They will "listen" to your ideas, but never act on them. The more you prove your "usefulness" or "willingness" to follow orders, then you will have to give more and more in exchange for less and less benefit or access to them.
                Eventually, it will get to the point where they be giving you nothing and you will be giving them everything. Granted, you may get a pat on the head or a word of praise, but that's it. They have become your authority or superior of some sort. At this point you will begin to wake up. They will not fear losing you, but will fight to control their resource (you). They will get mad at you for being disloyal. They will throw everything you have ever done wrong in your face, but will get mad if you do the same to you. They are just trying to protect their resource. You are not a resource. You're a person. This power game is played everywhere from co-workers, to love relationships, to governments. It does not matter the level, because the tactics are the same.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Christianity vs Atheism: For Love of Money

      The other day I was talking with a friend about where society is heading. I have decided not to give my friend's name to protect his identity, but I give you a critical part of conversation.

Me: "This will only grow the gap bigger until there is a divide between religion and those that have gone the opposite way into atheism and agnostic beliefs. This creates a great shock value culture where the two will play against each other. Richard Dwarkins will sell lots of books not because of his ideas, but because of the controversy against him. The Christians will pit themselves against this as a holy crusade and sell their gear, books, audiobooks, etc by setting themselves politically opposite this movement."

Me: "And both sides will grow richer and richer by playing off each other in the same way democrats and republicans play off each other. Neither side will care about truth anymore, but will need each other to scare the other side into their camp."

Me: "This game of cat and mouse will develop almost as organically as the democrats and republicans playing off each other did. Both sides will need each other without realizing that they do, and the ones that are best at the game will become the wealthiest until all real truth is gone."

My friend calmly replied something so simple and profound it was amazing. 
Friend: " Josh, we're already there".

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The F**k You Generation

             The new generation rising is a new generation. We are the first generation of our kind in human history. We are a generation that has unlimited access to information. Our entertainment is geared toward maximum stimulation constantly. We are a full throttle generation that has its foot all the way to the floor and we are not stopping for anything or anyone. We just now entering the workforce and already America is realizing that we are going to change the game forever. The first key difference between our generation and generation that have gone before us is how our generation wields its power. Every generation that has felt powerless in a time of massive change has its rebellion that made its voice known. The flappers shortened their skirts and bobbed their hair. They drank whiskey and danced "naughty" dances that made their Victorian parents blush. The baby boomers went the opposite way by dressing in jeans and tie die t-shirts. They protested everything that they saw as unfair and unjust. The new generation is one of the biggest in history and this gives us massive amounts of voting and financial power. We were also a generation that grew up in an age of fear mongering on the nightly news, everyone wanting our money as teens, and religious organizations spending any amount to get our attention for Jesus, Allah, or the new Atheist movement. We grew up in a time in America were "children are a future" was the mindset. Everyone is fighting for our attention and money. Entire clothing brands have risen just to serve us. We are a generation that accepted all this attention with open arms! Everyone is fighting for our souls and money. We began to learn that we were in the driving seat. We realized that we could pick the winners and losers according to what we wanted. You want our money, then prove that your product is good! You want our souls for your cause or belief, then prove to us it's worth it! We took all of this in stride with our lives.
            However, there is also a dark side to this that caused us to become very apathetic based rather than just motivated. All the attention should drive a generation that heavily involved like nothing before. We are that generation, but there is also a dark twist to our generation. We are the generation that saw mass shootings on TV and wondered if our schools were safe. We are the generation that saw friends and family members get taken to war over lies of weapons of mass destruction. We are the generation that was told to sit down and shut up from authorities. Our dreams and hopes made us ADHD regardless of how boring the teachers from the dinosaur age were. We watched politicians lie to us, teachers tell us to sit down and shut up, and then the great rescission hit. We watched as our parents lost their jobs and the system we had been told was rock solid became painfully fragile. We began to realize that there was so much that did not make sense. The game was up and young people were not buying it anymore. We looked at the wizards behind the curtain and we did not like what we saw.

            The paradox was great. We had been taught from two different angles that we were both powerful and that everyone wanted our attention and to sit and down and shut up! The current generation did not know how to handle this. They began to think through what power they had. In the past we had picked the winners and loser by rewarding their attention with money or going to their church, but this time it was different. The current generation realized how powerless we were, and how it was all a scam. We were not getting attention, but were being entertained for money we no longer had. We did not know where to turn or what to do. So, the rise of apathy began. The current generation might be powerless, but you can't tell us how to feel about it. The current generation of young people began their resistance by not allowing others to tell them how to feel. This is where the f**k you generation came from. Our focus became narrow on those around us that really care about us. The current generation has a strong connection to family and does not wish to move far from them. Our generation is one that realizes that this life is filled with scams and we only want people in our lives that support us, and the rest can go f**k themselves.