The Capitalist Conundrum

Capitalism is relatively new and still evolving on the human timeline – going back no further than the Medici of Florence and then modernizing in the Netherlands of the 18th century before reaching full early bloom in London and then in the 19th and 20th centuries in New York – the mantra of capitalism has … Continue reading “The Capitalist Conundrum”

Capitalism is relatively new and still evolving on the human timeline – going back no further than the Medici of Florence and then modernizing in the Netherlands of the 18th century before reaching full early bloom in London and then in the 19th and 20th centuries in New York – the mantra of capitalism has always been a combination of higher productivity + lower material and labor costs + increased demand = greater profits. It’s no coincidence that material and labor go together. Our work is lumped in with the raw materials because human labor is a raw material. You (or me) are of value to the capitalist in one of three ways – a raw material, a consumer, or a lender. The third may come as a surprise, but the debt that we incur is actually an asset to the lender. Let’s assume that robots suddenly provide all the labor including extraction, manufacture, delivery, and retrieval (trash collection, recycling, etc). Artificial intelligence is also handing marketing, merchandising, stocking, and quality control. The robot/AI work also includes making robots and new A.I. – Okay, so all of us are out of a job. Does that stop capitalism? No way. We are still consumers and at this point, in order to consume the productt produced by the AI/Robot factories – we will need to be borrowers (consumers of loans) and lenders (purchasers of debt to companies and nations through stocks which are loans to corporations and bonds which are loans to governments. Since we will be bored – we will probably be consuming more – just like when you sit in front of your computer for too long, you sometimes end up buying something – usually on credit. So, in the robot/AI society the capitalist gets higher productivity + lower material and labor costs + increased demand which as I mentioned before lead to higher profits which are doled out to the corporate shareholders who buy more shares and presumably diversify their investments with holdings in government bonds which allow the government to dole out to welfare programs which would seem likely to be the largest consumer (as a sort of collective patron of the needy), meanwhile the corporations are consolidated into larger corporations which eventually are all owned by the largest banks which leads to the conundrum which I can’t get my head around – I need help with this. At some point, there starts to exist a closed feedback loop between the banks and the government. The government buys from the banks with money the banks have lent to the government and the government pays the banks with money borrowed from the citizens, the citizens borrow from the banks to purchase the products the banks produce, the banks would seem to eventually swallow the government and the citizen so that we have corporate citizen banks which determine who eats and who starves, who lives in peace and who suffers war, and as we’ve seen in the philosophy and writings of others – at some point – the majority of citizen consumers are no longer a valuable resource but instead become a drain on the scaled up economy – at that point – it would seem – the banks are left with the option of 1) transforming into an altruistic welfare state or 2) genocide machine – It seems to me that a perfect capitalist machine looks a lot like genocide in its final days. As I look at our society undergoing rapid transformation – I can’t help but think that genocide on a global scale is not very far away.

The Regulated Society

I remember having a conversation with a ‘gun nut’ friend who insisted that she should be able to carry and shoot her gun anywhere she likes. I disagreed. I found it astounding that she couldn’t see that 1) her gun created a power inequality between her and anyone without a gun and 2) that unless she could guarantee that her bullets had a certain trajectory and stopping point, she was impinging on the freedom of others to move about without concern over being hit by stray bullets. She, on the other hand, was bothered that I thought there should be regulations in place to protect people who she had no intention of threatening – her problem with my arguments could all be boiled down to “Who is given the power to enforce these regulations?” and further that anyone given that sort of power is almost certain to use it for their own advantage. Why should she have to give up power to someone else in the interest of unknown others? Why should she have to give up her own best interest to the interest of others with uncertain motivations? We were at loggerheads – I tried to argue that it wasn’t her, a person with presumably benign motivations, that the regulations were protecting society from, but from people with darker reasons for having or shooting a gun. Her counter-argument was that criminal person wouldn’t be swayed by regulations so all the regulations were actually doing was dis-empowering her while empowering an enforcer class that would create more regulations thus depriving her of more power and beefing up the power of the enforcer class which would eventually come to be controlled by those without an altruistic intention. I tried to argue checks and balances, protection of the weakest members of society, representative government, and more – and left the table pretty sure that I was right and she was wrong – and a part of me still wants to believe that – but in my heart, I know she was right. I don’t like it because I want to believe in the hallowed institutions of self-governance and U.S. style democracy – but damn it – she was right. Or at the very least, we were both missing some ‘right’ middle ground.

The regulated society is a disaster. It’s a disaster that most people are completely blind to. As humans we made a bad turn- this idea of disempowering individuals for the betterment of all is a terrible idea – like lowering test standards to increase the average score. The regulations are not working. All the gun laws we have did not stop any of the mass shootings (or individual shootings) that happened anyway. Speed limits do not stop people from driving fast. Food regulations do not keep companies from selling poison as processed food or using dangerous pesticides – yes, if they get caught they get penalized – which is what the regulated society is when it comes down to it – the penalized society – or the penal society – or the prison society. We live in the Prison Society. There is no freedom except that you are allowed to have from the enforcer class, the guards, the regulators, the power elite. We have willingly given up our power and they have willingly taken it.
I have never wanted to live in the Prison Society, but here I am. There are ways out, but none of them are easy. My world travels and travels within the United States have shown me that the Prison Society is a worldwide phenomenona – there are different flavors, but no escaping it. The Prison Society lives on enforcement and bureaucracy and the illusion of the common good. A dictatorship can offer more freedom than democracy, or less – it depends on the levels of enforcement, bureaucracy, and regulations. The only way out of the Prison Society is self-empowerment – we must re-empower ourselves and refuse to give up that power to anyone – and the only way to create a society that is good for all is to create a new way of thinking about power and wealth and humanity. My friend was right about the regulation society and that we should not give up our power to an enforcer class and she was right about the need to arm ourselves, but I think she was wrong about what we need to arm ourselves with – we don’t need to be armed with guns, we need to be armed with knowledge. The Knowledge Society is the only path that leads to freedom from the Prison Society.

Nobody likes to be faced with hatred

It’s a good thing to keep in mind in the world as it is today. If you are staring into the eyes of someone ordered to do their job and looking at them with hatred – that hatred is going to be returned.

Hatred has never put an end to hatred. Only love has or can accomplish that Herculean task.

We may be asked to fight against evil, but if we can find compassion and the ability to love our enemies (even while we fight them) then we just might have a chance at defeating them.

These are not just hollow words. When you are faced with all of the awfulness that the world can muster – you will need to fight, I’m sure of it, but you will only win if you fight with love.

Brilliant Manipulation – Shocked and Awed

I have a strong suspicion that we, the citizens of the United States are being brilliantly manipulated. It’s not an original idea – the evidence comes from hundreds of articles, Facebook posts written or shared by friends, and conversations with people who are at the very least, somewhat like-minded.

If you are of a similar mind – the past two weeks have been utterly exhausting on an emotional and mental level. Beyond that, the past 18-months were also oftentimes traumatic. Yes, I’m talking about the campaign, the election, the inauguration, the first days of Il Douche’s presidency – but I’m also talking about the events of the world which most Americans have been hearing as a sort of background or sideline noise. To use a sports metaphor – we thought the action was happening on the field, but then we realized that there were fistfights going on the sidelines, and finally we have started to notice (some of us) that the real competition was happening all around us in the stands. This was not an election about two flawed candidates – which is what we were told again and again by the corporate owned media. It was not a match between red and blue. Nor was it a power struggle between the liberal and corporate wings of the Democratic party or the conservative and racist wings of the Republican party. That was the sideline match designed to distract those of us who saw that the game on the field was already decided. The actual battle/struggle/fight/war was being waged in the stands among the spectators as we were indoctrinated with artificial ideologies, bombarded with contradictory ‘new’ stories, and emotionally drained with a shock and awe campaign that has left us ripe for manipulation.

The billionaire masters (because that is what they are, don’t fool yourself into thinking otherwise) are getting very close to a world where automation can take care of their needs. They will not need the masses to cook, clean up their mess, drive them around, build their products, deliver their products, or do much of anything. 8 billion people is a huge drain on the resources of this planet and the crowds are getting a little too close to their walled estates. As technology eliminates the need for low skilled workers(and increasingly workers in high skilled fields like medicine and law too) the billionaire masters are left with a question – “What do we do with all these useless people?” It’s nice to think they will focus on altruism and try to create a world where everyone has food, shelter, security, medicine, and the ability to be a unique and wonderful being – but somehow, when I look at the billionaires – even Bill Gates and Warren Buffet sitting comfortably on a stage and telling us everything will be fine – I have a very hard time believing they have our best interests in mind.

Here is the question they are asking.

What do we do with all the people we don’t need anymore?

I can only come up with a few possible answers.
1) Take care of them all (which seems very unlikely)
2) Kill them all (which also seems very unlikely)
3) Ignore them all (which is not only unlikely but impossible)
4) Use them as tools to increase power, security, etc for the Billionaires
5) Get them to kill each other
6) Take care of some (useful) and find a way to eliminate the rest (not useful)

That’s as much as I can come up with.

This election wasn’t about politics. It was about the billionaires taking control of the most powerful country on the planet. If you think any billionaire on the planet has more in common with you than with another billionaire, you are deluding yourself. Right now, the billionaires are in control and it is very likely that they have already decided what they are going to do with us. Everything else is just theater to keep us from seeing the truth.

If you are one of those they consider useful you are lucky. We can already see what is happening to those they do not consider useful. Just look at the poorest and least protected people in the world – and then look at how we have slammed the door in their faces and will be building a wall (or many walls) to keep them out. Everything that happens from this point on, has already been decided.

All Hell Is Gonna Break Loose … And We All Know It

2017 is going to be an interesting year. I’ve given up on trying to predict what is going to happen – or at least that’s what I tell myself. I can’t help it though…playing the predict the future game is too much fun. It’s like a slot machine, you usually lose, but when you win – even a little, you want to do it again. And when you win big…well, that’s when you are in danger of losing it all. So, here is my prediction… in about two weeks all hell is going to break loose. The enemies of the USA (and we have lots of them because of the way we’ve been meddling in the affairs of the world for the past 75 years) are going to hit us from all sides shortly after Trump is inaugurated. Since Trump has more or less fired every Obama appointee from the moment he takes the oath, there has never been a moment when we have been more vulnerable. Since he has not been getting security briefings and has refused to acknowledge the reality of our national security, he is uniquely positioned to fuck everything up in a crisis. Within days of his taking office we can expect attacks within the US and upon US interests outside of the US. We can expect cyber attacks that will cripple our banking, electric grid, and information systems. The economy is going to get slaughtered. Foreign enemies will use this state of confusion to undermine the goals of the USA abroad in places like Ukraine, the South China Sea, Iraq, Europe, and the Korean Peninsula. And then….well, isn’t that enough? So there is my all in prediction. If it doesn’t happen, I’m happy wrong. If it happens, I’m psychic and right (but not happy). Either way, there it is. Here are a few more predictions for 2017 – Dick Cheney will come out of the shadows. A nuclear bomb will destroy an urban area. The internet will let us know it is awake and aware (I believe it already is, but is keeping it from us). A billionaire will be kidnapped and murdered. A virus will wipe out the entire US chicken supply. A millennial movement advocating violence towards baby-boomers will shock the internet and go global. And finally, a cat will record a grammy winning song with Yanni.

That’s it. Have a great year. Be safe, be cool, don’t be surprised. See ya later.

The World Doesn’t Need White Men Anymore

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying the world ever needed white men, but there was a time when many people were convinced that it did. White men did a pretty good job of convincing and bullying all the non-white-men (women of all colors including white and everyone else) that white men were essential to civilization. Lately I’ve been struck by the bloated sense of self-importance that fills the prose of my favorite writers – Steinbeck, Hemingway, London, Kipling, Maugham, Verne, Melville, Stevenson – these guys were convinced of their place in the world and how important it was to keep it. White men – the keepers of order and civilization. White men – the last bastion of sanity between the encroaching primitive civilizations and the hysteric female imperative. White men. Yes.

I think – and I’m not sure of this – but I’m pretty sure – I grew up in the last years that white men were the self-acknowledged and self-proclaimed masters of the universe. The 1970s and early 1980s were a time that the world was still processing the movements of feminism, Native Americanism, Black Pride, Hispanic pride, Asian pride, and multi-genderism. I don’t know what to call all of these movements – but they can all be lumped together under the banner of “Straight White Men Are Not Better Than Anyone Else” movements. These movements took place mostly from the late 1960s through the 1990s and during much of that time – white men still held the keys to the kingdom.

It was a time when it was still okay to tell black jokes (if there were no black people around), it was okay to characterize Asian people with a language that sounded like ching chong and with slanted eyes, Hispanics were still considered lazy and sneaky (the men) or lascivious and waiting for rescue from white men (the women). It was fine to demean other white men with descriptions about how they had female genitalia, how they were homosexual, or how they were (fill in the blank) like a (fill in the blank). To be a straight white man was the ideal.

I think I can pretty well pinpoint when it began to change. Bill Cosby and the Cosby Show – a black doctor wearing colorful sweaters and raising a respectful family. Whoopi Goldberg becoming a wise character on Star Trek: The Next Generation. All of this right around the 1984-1988 period. The world was thrown on its head – suddenly there were African-American characters who didn’t speak with a ghetto accent, Hispanics on television who were not drug dealers, and Hillary Clinton – the First Lady, actually had the audacity to take on real political issues like healthcare and gender equality. Mind you, it was still fine to tell gay jokes through much of the 1990s – but much of the mythology of the straight white man being the pinnacle of civilization had worn off by the time I graduated in 1990.

Perhaps it was that sense of being thrown adrift into a world heading towards equality that pushed me to join the US Marine Corps – a last bastion of white masculinity. I’m happy to say that in the USMC, I was part of a multi-racial fraternity – that while still heavily self-segregated (whites and blacks tended to sit at different tables in the mess hall) introduced me to African Americans, Latinos, and even Eskimos – but I’ll be brutally honest here – it was much easier for white guys to get promoted even in an equality Marine Corps. And it was don’t ask/don’t tell – which translated to it not being okay for guys to be gay. As for women in the Corps – they were treated as inferiors and sexually harassed almost constantly during the time I was in.

Between 1994 when I got out of the Marines and 2008 when I graduated from the University of Hawai’i – things changed even more drastically. I majored in Anthropology – I suppose in part because I grew up reading Tarzan, Robinson Crusoe, and other books where white men encountered and learned to live with the ‘savage’ other. I was always fascinated by the pre-Christian, pre-Muslim, primitive cultures of the world. I was drawn to the wild blood drums of howling fires in far off lands. I sought the pageantry and intense passion of intense humanness. I wanted to peel the onion layers of civilization back to see the reality of the human condition. I gazed at the other with a white man’s eye. My advanced level of civilization – looked down on the people of the world with a paternal eye born of thousands of years of white men dominating everyone else. Our society, however, was moving on.

Now, in 2016 – I live in a rural Oregon town where straight white men still rule supreme. From the time I graduated to now, I’ve traveled a good bit of the world. I married the daughter of an Arab shepherd I lived with in a poor African village. I left my country for nearly half a decade and then returned to this region of ignorant white men in huge gas guzzling trucks who look down on the world with a paternal eye while they cut down ancient trees in exchange for paper money to buy gas and vegetables grown far away by non-white laborors on multi-million dollar corporate farms owned by rich white men.

And all of this has led me to a conclusion that I should have come to long ago. The world doesn’t need white men anymore. It really doesn’t. And it never did. The reign of the white men is coming to an end. They won’t give up without a fight, they will continue to dominate for as long as they can. Donald Trump carries their banner. To some extent Hillary Clinton carries it as a proxy for her husband – a man who was the most powerful man in the world and used his position to fuck an intern who was just barely out of her teens – and got away with it. Bill Clinton would carry the white man vote if he were able to run – and for that reason. Hillary Clinton might win because she brings Bill with her – she was the ‘Good Wife’ who stood by her man. White men don’t hate Obama for his policies nor because he is black – they hate him because he is not a white man. It’s why Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio stand no chance of winning – they are Latino – they are other. Bernie Sanders is a different story – being a non-practicing Jew who likes guns – he stands as an almost white man other – but not quite. He may get the white man vote – it’s hard to say.

I’m saying a lot here – I don’t expect this kind of honesty to go without harsh responses from white men and from non-white men both. Let em go. I’m happy to hear my blind spots. Thank you.