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.