Archive for Economics

History, Part 1: Why Bother?

Posted in All, Economics, Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 18, 2010 by marushiadark

“Those who fail to learn from the mistakes of the past are doomed to repeat them.” ~ Proverb.

When I was in middle school, I really hated history.  In eighth grade, I literally failed my history class because I didn’t want to do the work, because I felt the subject was difficult and boring.

That changed as I went on to high school.  I started watching The History Channel back before every other show was about Nazi Alien Templars.

Back then, the programs were fun and compelling and I enjoyed watching them.  It didn’t even occur to me at the time that I was actually learning something in the process.  Part of it may have been the subject matter being taught (I very much enjoyed Medieval castles), or the fact that they used computer models to render cities and events in a spectacular way.  Whatever it was, it managed to change my perception that history wasn’t fun or easy to learn.

Now that I’m an adult, I understand the significance of history and have a greater fascination in learning more about what happened in the past, and that has actually helped me a great deal in other areas of my life.  As a result, I’ve become more self-motivated in figuring out the context of the world around me and am always learning something new about history.

“History is written by the victors.” ~ Winston Churchill.

For most people, when they think of history, they think about the political history of countries, the formation and fall of nations or empires, possibly even ancient history with Egypt and Stonehenge and such.  This is the history taught in most schools today.  Much of it is quaint and irrelevant and omits the really interesting or important stuff.

Have you ever noticed, for instance, the amount of coverage devoted to battles in WWII?  Everyone knows about D-Day and Midway and the fact that Hitler committed suicide; yet I bet you’ve probably never heard of I.G. Farben, have you?  Who’s I.G. Farben, you ask?  Good question.  Too bad no one ever asks that question.  Maybe they should.

In America, students generally learn American history, starting with the Revolutionary War or just a bit before that with the colonization of America by the British, shortly after Columbus “discovered” America.  I suppose for little kids growing up in America, this would be an easy and somewhat relevant place to start, but as I said, it omits a great many things.  Moreover, it is biased towards American interests.

Most countries have a lot of dirt on them and do not wish to teach their citizens about this for fear that we may cease to give our government the support it wants.

Of course, in doing so, we fail to teach our children how to make our countries better by learning what they really need.  Why is it that when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says that 9-11 was an inside job or when Ali Khamenei says that the reason other countries hate America is because we’re occupiers … why is it that when our enemies tell us why they hate us and what we’re doing wrong do we not listen?  It’s because we’re arrogant and think that we are perfect and can do no wrong; when the truth is we’re far from perfect.

They may not be right about everything, but neither are we.  There are always two sides to everything.  One usually cannot be objective about something when that person has a vested interest in the thing it’s talking about.  So it is with our government-sponsored public education when it comes to the matter of its own history.

“We fight over an offense we did not give, against those who were not alive to be offended.” ~ Kingdom of Heaven.

Many people ask, as I once did: why is studying history important?

History is all about context.  The reason they say that those who fail to learn from the past are doomed to repeat it is because history is all about context.  The reason things are the way they are now is because of events that happened before.  It’s simple cause and effect.

If you can better understand the motivations and context of the past, then you can better understand the present.  All life’s problems are technical.  Understand the cause and you can find the cure.

For instance, say you have a problem with your car.  If you can’t remember when the last time you changed the oil was, you may wanna start there.  Find out if you’re in need of an oil change.  Your problem could be as simple as that, and knowing a bit of history about your car can go a long way in correcting the problem.  If the car is old and passed through many hands, there could be something less obvious that occurred during the history of the car.  Maybe a part was replaced and never reported and the part was of poor quality and that’s what’s causing the problem now.

When you go to the doctor, one of the first things they do is check your medical history.  Things you may have eaten, things that may be in your environment, places you might have been to, people you might have fucked, drugs you might be on, … such things can provide a better context to your current state of affairs.

The reasons for needing to know the history of a country or the world are no different than the reasons to know the history of a person or a car.

In recent history, America has become heavily involved in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, with the threat of war with China, North Korea, and Iran ever looming.  Many people wonder why this is.  To understand the current situation, we would have to go back to the first Gulf War, which would require us to go back and look at the Cold War, which would require us to look at WWII, which leads to WWI, and so on and so forth.

Understanding current affairs allows us to make predictions about the way the future will unfold.  That is simple Newtonian Mechanics: an object will continue what it’s doing unless acted upon by an outside force.  Learning about those outside forces then allows us to update our predictions.

Learning history can even help you in ways you wouldn’t normally think it can.  Understanding global trends can help you economically and medically.  You will be able to predict, broadly speaking, what will happen when and where and this can help you make better financial decisions, avoid certain foods or places when traveling, and otherwise fill in the missing pieces of the puzzle for yourself and your children.  Knowing economic history can help you invest your money.  Understanding the history of famous scientists can help expand your knowledge of what medical treatments are out there.  Knowing political history can tell you which politicians are really looking out for your best interests.  And so forth.

Long story short, learning history helps us to better understand the present and the future, and thus increases our chances of survival.

Hierarchy of Law

Posted in All, Economics, Politics, Spirituality with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 2, 2010 by marushiadark

“Then God said, ‘Let us create man in our own image, according to our likeness; let them have dominion … over all the earth and every other creeping thing that creeps upon on the earth.” ~ Genesis 1:26

In my last post, I talked about how we tend to identify with things that have nothing to do with who we really are, and how we are simply the observers on this universe.  It is important that we understand who we are and what are place is in the hierarchy of the universe.  If we don’t, then we become the slaves of our creations instead of their masters.  Many people are suffering at the hands of religions, governments, and corporations because they have forgotten that they are the creators and that our position is of higher authority.  It’s as though we are serving our spoons and our hammers.  To correct this, we need only remember our place in this world and who we are and then exercise our authority as true sovereigns.

So the most fundamental level is the level of God and the soul, which is the level of being.

From there, the soul may choose to create a mind to think and reason with, which may entail the temporary division of the mind into parts to create the illusion of separateness.  So now we have two levels: the level of the soul and the level of the mind.  We are a soul, but have a mind.

Of course, from this, we can infer that the mind in turn creates illusions and avatars in the form of a physical body.  So now we know there are at least three levels: soul, mind, and body.  We are a soul, but have a mind and a body.

“What’s in a name?  That which we call a rose, by any other name, would still smell as sweet.” ~ Romeo and Juliet, Act 2, Scene 2, Lines 1-2

If you take something and someone else then claims it as their own, it’s common to retort, “Well, I didn’t see your name on it.”  Of course, we know that there is no such mark.  There’s nothing there to identify the object as being the property of any individual in particular, so it becomes fair game to all.  Yet in our everyday lives, we place so much identity and attachment to our names in reference to who we are.

When you were born, you didn’t come out of your mother’s womb with a UPC barcode on your body, did you?  There were no inherent identifying marks of any kind that could be misconstrued as labels stating who you are, were there?  Of course not.  So why is it that when asked, “Who are you?” we answer with our name?

A name is not something you have inherently.  It is something bestowed upon you by another.  And such a name can be different depending on who’s referring to you.  A child may call you “Mom.”  A parent may call you “Son.”  Your dog may call you “Arf.”  The IRS calls you by your Social Security Number “123-45-6789.”  These are all names given to you as a means of referring to you, but they aren’t you.  There’s not even a rule that says you have to have a name at all.  There’s no law that says you have to carry around any sort of identification of any kind just to walk down the street.

In that scene from the movie Shooter where the cop stops Bob Swagger and asks to see his ID, he could have just turned around and asked, “Are you suggesting I’m obligated to carry around ID with me?”  The cop would then have had to either let him go or prove that there was a law requiring him to carry ID.

In the spy business, agents rarely use their real names.  Those names are just NOCs the agency gives them.  Those names have no more to do with who those agents are than your birth name has anything to do with who you are.  Your name is something that you choose to use or not.  You can change it anytime you like.

You are a soul, you have a mind, a body, and a name.  This distinction is very important for anyone that considers themselves a free individual because, as you’ll soon see, a name is everything in law.

“Bob Marley isn’t my name.  I don’t even know my name yet.” ~ Bob Marley

Do you know what your name is and when you were born?  If you do, you must have a time machine or some sort of clairvoyant powers, because you weren’t alive at the time of your birth to know all that stuff.  What you think you know is the result of hearsay from your parents and others who were around at that time.  But you, yourself, don’t have first-hand knowledge of that.  So your name is, at best, an accepted designation; and your date of birth, at best, is an estimation.

Were you also aware that you have not one, but two names and dates of birth?  In the legal system, you actually represent two persons: a natural person and a legal person.

The word “person” in law is a tricky thing because it can refer to either a natural person or a legal person, and often there is no telling which is being used.  Usually, it applies to both.  You see, law is a very precise thing.  Every word, phrase, spelling, and punctuation mark changes the meaning of what is written.  For instance, the phrase “A young, bare man” has a totally different meaning from “A young bear-man.”  But if I were to say both sentences aloud, without you seeing the spelling and punctuation, it could get quite confusing.

Just as there are two types of person, there are also two types of law: common law (the law of the land) and admiralty law (the law of water).  Common law is common sense and is the law of flesh and blood human beings.  Admiralty law is maritime law and is the law of commerce, taxes, businesses, and corporations.  Each has its own jurisdiction.

The so-called natural person is the name given to the flesh and blood human being.  It’s written using proper English Grammar with a capital initial letter and the rest in lower-case, such as John Henry Doe.  The legal person, however, is the name of a corporation and is written in all caps, such as JOHN HENRY DOE.  If you don’t believe that, just go ask a lawyer or a judge.

If you look at your driver’s license, credit card, bank statement, Social Security card, or other such commercial documents, you will likely see that the name on the document is written in ALL CAPS.  This means that you are operating under the jurisdiction of commercial law, not common law, and the rules are very different between the two.

Knowing that, it begins to make sense how a burglar can enter someone’s house illegally and win at court because he got hurt, even though he’s the one at fault.  It’s because you’re fighting in common law and he’s fighting in admiralty, and because he’s the plaintiff coming forward with a claim, he gets to choose which court to play in.

But how did all this happen?  How did we get two names and two birth dates?

“Your birth is a mistake you’ll spend your whole life trying to correct.” ~ Chuck Palahniuk, satirist

When a ship enters port, it travels down a canal, leaves the water, and is then placed onto dry land where the ship is then said to be “berthed.”  An officer of the State (such as a customs agent) will then ensure that the vessel is registered, complete with the ship’s name and date of berth.  He then gives the ship a registration number, which is recorded on a special piece of paper called a certificate of value and cargo manifest.  From that point on, the ship is subject to all the statutes and commercial laws of the jurisdiction that it’s in, so long as it resides in port.  In order to operate in commerce, the ship must obey these rules or it cannot do business.

What does that sound like to you?  Does that sound like something you’ve possibly heard of before?  No?  How about this.

Approximately nine months after your dad knocks up your mom, your body (a vessel for your soul) travels down your mother’s birth canal and leaves the water of the womb to enter onto dry land.  At this point, you have been birthed.  Shortly after, your mother will register the birth on a birth certificate and a State officer will file that with the county as proof of your manifestation into this world.  From that point on, you are subject to all the laws (commercial laws, that is) of whatever jurisdiction you were born in if you wish to do business and operate in commerce.

My, my, isn’t that interesting?  So does that mean your body is actually a commercial vessel subject to admiralty law?  It certainly sounds that way, doesn’t it?

“Like everyone else, you were born into bondage.  Into a prison that you cannot taste or see or touch.” ~ Morpheus

The 14th Amendment states that all persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.  Recall that I said “person” has a dual meaning, that it can refer to a natural person or a legal person.  Wal-Mart is a corporation, a legal person, and has all the same rights as a person like you or me.  Doesn’t that just make your blood boil?

All of the commercial documents that you get over the course of your lifetime, from bank accounts, to credit cards, to driver’s licenses (or any licenses) … they all require you to have a birth certificate.  And those that don’t usually require presentment of other documents that do.

The ALL CAPS name on your documents is, in fact, a corporation.  The birth certificate your mother registered is actually a unique piece of work.  It bridges the gap between natural person and legal person and is what created the legal person in the first place, allowing it all the rights and privileges under commercial law, according to the 14th Amendment. In the game of commerce, it’s your playing token.

Having a registered birth certificate is both a blessing and a curse.  On the one hand, being under admiralty law affords you certain rights and privileges.  You can own a business, have a bank account, take out a mortgage for a home, collect Social Security and Medicare benefits, etc.  On the other hand, it also means you have to pay taxes and avoid certain things like putting drugs into your body.  After all, the State doesn’t want anything to happen to your vessel while you’re in their port.  Damaged ships on their turf reflect a bad image and can be a potential threat to their property.  Why do you think illegal immigrants are such a concern for them?

But you can’t have it both ways.  Either you accept the pros with the cons, or you give it all up entirely.

It’s been said that ignorance of the law is no excuse.  That may be true if you’re talking about common law, where the only real rule you have to remember is don’t infringe upon the rights and/or property of others.  But when it comes to the 16,000,000 or so commercial laws and statutes, I think most people would say that ignorance of the law is every excuse, because it’s just too much information to keep track of.  Yet, if you don’t know how to play the commercial game, you’ll likely suffer a humiliating defeat at the hands of those that do.

So you have two options.  Learn how to play the game properly, or stop playing.  Stopping is hard because so much of our society is based upon the commerce game.  However there are those that have gone and done this successfully.  Such people often form their own little communes away from civilization, away from commerce, technology, and all the trappings of modern life.

However, it would seem that a far more practical solution would be to learn the rules and enjoy the game as it was meant to be played so that we can take advantage of all the good things that modern life can offer us as well.

To do that, though, you must first realize who you really are.  You are a soul, which has a mind and a body.  The body has the name of a natural person and that natural person is then the player with the legal person being the game token.

You can think of the legal person as yet another avatar for your natural person, just like how a car acts as an avatar of your physical body, which is in turn the avatar of your soul.

I know that can sound quote complicated, but it’s really very simple.  Just remember that there is a hierarchy to all this: God / soul, mind, body, natural person (John Doe), legal person (JOHN DOE).  It’s really as simple as that.  No creation can be higher than its creator, so long as the creator is operating from a position of creator instead of a position of victim.  If you remember that you are a living soul and a part of God, then you are already three-quarters of the way to being totally free from the legal and corporate entities that we created down below.  The rest is just putting it into practice.

M is for Money

Posted in All, Economics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 27, 2010 by marushiadark

“So you think that money is the root of all evil.  Have you ever asked what is the root of all money?” ~ Ayn Rand

At the time of my writing this, I’ve yet to read Atlas Shrugged.  I think I might already know a great deal of what’s in it, much like when I first read The Lost Symbol.  However, at the insistence of my mother, and many others, apparently, I’ve made Atlas Shrugged the very next book on my reading list.

Even still, Ayn Rand makes a very good point.  What is money?  Have you ever really thought about it?

For most people, when you mention the word “money,” a lot of things come to mind.  To some, it means little green pieces of paper or metal with pictures of dead presidents on them.  For others, it may call to mind an image of the mint printing vast rolls of the stuff.  On the one hand, money can be the source of great stress and grief if we don’t have it, or great opportunity and abundance if we do.  Pious people avoid it like the plague, while people that have it are willing to do anything to get it and can’t seem to get enough of it.

Most of these are probably incomplete observations, made by equally  ill-informed observers.  I know that, for most of my own life, I kept having the wrong impression about money, and only recently am I beginning to see money for what it actually is.

But what is that, exactly?

The Uniform Commercial Code is the Bible of commercial law.  UCC Article 1, Section 201b, Line 24 gives the definition of money as it’s used throughout most of the world today:

“Money means a medium of exchange currently authorized or adopted by a domestic or foreign government.  The term includes a monetary unit of account established by an intergovernmental organization or by agreement between two or more countries.”

In brief, money is simply a medium of exchange, an I.O.U.

When you play Monopoly, the paper is just there to help regulate how much you’re worth in comparison to the other players.  If you run out, the game even tells you to make more money out of regular paper, because it’s just a medium of exchange with no inherent value of its own.  Or if you play in digital form, it’s all done via electronic transfers and moving numbers around.  It’s Bookkeeping, the Game and boy do we love playing it!

If this were a barter system, we’d trade goods directly, like a camel for five bags of potatoes, or whatever we happened to agree was an equivalent exchange.

Money is just an indirect way of trading.  For instance, say I had a hat, but needed a pair of shoes.  I meet a man who needs a hat but has an extra pair of shoes.  So I trade him the hat for the shoes.  Now this man, some time later, needs to buy food.  He needs the food more than his hat, so he finds someone who will make the trade with him.  In that process, the hat was used as money because it was the medium that facilitated exchanges.

If we wanted, we could really use anything for money, as long as it was agreed upon by everyone involved; and in ancient times, that’s exactly what happened.

It used to be that money was more than just worthless paper.  When things like gold, silver, beads, shells, stones, and feathers were all used as money, the money itself had inherent value.  It could be used in trade, or kept by its possessor because it was worth something for its own merit.  Over time, certain things like copper, gold, and silver became more standardized as money because their value as a medium of exchange was more universally accepted among disparate cultures.  Eventually, people began to store, lend, and borrow coins and soon the first banks were formed.  From there, it was a short while before people started carrying around certificates that represented an amount of hard currency being kept in a vault somewhere.  And thus, we arrive at paper money.

The documentary Money as Debt elaborates more on this concept and gives a brief, allegorical history of the evolution of money.

“For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” ~ 1 Timothy 6:10

Money is a form of power.  So it follows that the love of money is the love of power and of control over one’s self and others.  What we do with that power, however, is the determining factor.

Greed and lack are just flaws in perception.  The world is nothing but abundant with wealth and resources for all, and then some, yet this misguided belief of never having enough to survive is what leads people to commit both great and terrible acts in an effort to get more money.  Rest assured, it’s not the paper or the numbers that they want, but the power and the goods that said money represents, as you will see later on.

The cure for greed and the cure for poverty are one in the same: recognize that there is more than enough to go around for everyone and find a way to satisfy everyone at the table.

It is important to note that money is not, itself, a bad thing.  It’s just a tool, like a hammer or a pencil, that facilitates a purpose.  In the case of money, that purpose is to act as a catalyst for the trade of goods and services.  Just as guns don’t kill people, neither does money create problems.  It is only people that kill people or create problems.  How can money create something?  It’s just a tool.  Only divine beings, living souls, can create anything.

Without getting into too much detail, there is a principle in law that states that the created cannot be higher than the creator.  Who is the creator in this case?  We are.

We humans are the creators of every organization and institution on this planet, and we are the creators of governments and money.  They are our tools, our creations.  They have only the power and authority and value that we say they do or that we give to them; and we alone have the ability to revoke that power, authority, and value.  Whether we choose to abdicate our role as creator and be overrun by these Frankenstein monsters or not is our choice.  But eventually, the human race will be pushed to the breaking point unless it wakes the fuck up and remembers that the power was ours all along.

Like what Glinda, the good witch, tells Dorothy at the end of the Wizard of Oz, you’ve had the power to go home all along.  It’s just that you weren’t in a position to accept or believe it, and so no one told you, but instead left you to figure it out for yourself.  Well, consider this your wake up call, with me giving you formal notice the power is yours.

“The man who has no money is poor, but one who has nothing but money is poorer.” ~ Orison Swett Marden, New Thought author

Return we now to the subject of paper money.  It’s really almost absurd how everyone knows that paper money is just worthless paper, and yet we still choose to rely on it for everything.  We covet it as though it were the secret of eternal life.  But why?  What makes paper money so valuable?

Recall that, in ancient times, people used mainly gold and silver as money in the form of bars or coins.  Bars and coins were used because they could be regulated in terms of weight and purity, but they were not without their flaws.  The most basic reason for switching to paper money was because it was lighter in weight and easier to carry around.  You could write up a certificate for really any amount of money that you wanted, so long as you had enough gold or silver somewhere to back it up.

For hundreds of years, it was the case that all certificates of this kind could be turned in any time the holder felt insecure and he would be given an amount of gold or silver equal to the amount that was written on the document.  What had value wasn’t so much the actual paper, but the confidence that it could be exchanged for something of worth.  And soon people began to trade these papers as though they were actual value.

If you look at the top of any American dollar bill, you will see the words “Federal Reserve Note” scrawled on it.  The word “note” in this case means a promissory note.  In other words, it’s a promise to pay.

If you’ve ever taken out a loan, you probably filled out a promissory note and gave it to your creditor or bank.  That promissory note is your promise to pay.  It’s your promise to them that they can redeem it for something of actual value.  With that confidence, the note can be exchanged as though it were actual currency.  They can trade it in for whatever it’s worth (which these days is just an extension of credit).

Things start to get interesting when you begin to realize that all cash is just a promissory note.  What we think of money is really just our promise that the holder will get something in return for it.

More interesting still is that, if you look at a dollar bill, it no longer says “redeemable in gold or silver.”  Prior to 1933, all dollars were promises of payment in either gold (which was standard) or silver to the holder.  So what happened in 1933?

“What difference does it make how much money you have?  What you do not have amounts to much more.” ~ Seneca

For a more in-depth history, I would recommend the documentary The Money Masters, but suffice to say that the history of America has really been one of banking and trying to avoid central banks, in particular.  The Founding Fathers resisted the Bank of England and wrote into the Constitution the power of Congress to coin money and to regulate its value.  And our country managed to survive well enough without a central bank for over a hundred years.  Since our inception, private international banks have tried to get Congress to give over that power to them and, in 1913, President Woodrow Wilson finally caved with the signing of the Federal Reserve Act.  From then on, the Federal Reserve (a private international bank) would be the sole creator of all the currency used to fund the government, which it lent to us at interest.

Prior to 1933, the United States was on a gold standard and most of its currency was backed by gold.  In 1933, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt ordered a seizure of all the gold held by private citizens in an effort to pay off the national debt.  With the signing of HJR 192 on June 5, 1933, the use of promissory notes backed by gold was ended and a new form of currency replaced it: the Federal Reserve Note.

Federal Reserve Notes (which replaced United States Notes) are what’s known as fiat currency.  Fiat means that is isn’t backed by a commodity (like gold), but has value because of government decree.  It has value because the government says it does and will force you to accept it if offered for the payment of any and all debts in the United States.

If you look in the corner of the dollar bill, it says as much.  The word “tender” in this case means “an offer of money.”  It’s an offer of money because it’s only a note, which is a promise of money, not actual money itself.  There is no money.  Roosevelt took it all from us to pay the debt, which we still have hanging over us to this very day.

Following World War I, Germany was in bankruptcy because a lot of its infrastructure was destroyed and it had no money to rebuild or to pay the war reparations that its enemies demanded as a condition for accepting German surrender.  As a result, Germany suffered massive inflation and the Deutsche Mark became incredibly devalued without anything to back it.  It is said that marks were used to wallpaper people’s houses, that’s how worthless they were.  It was only through the aid of private banks and corporations – some of them American – that the Nazis were able to rise to the levels they did, and we all know how that turned out.

Similarly, after the Great Depression, people began to hoard gold as the only valuable form of currency.  Without gold and value passing through the American economy, the government had no funds to operate with.  It couldn’t afford to maintain its military in wartime or repay the Federal Reserve and its other creditors.  So the United States was also forced to declare bankruptcy and stole all the gold of its citizens in an effort to pay off its debts.

While we may have gotten out of the Great Depression through a re-stimulating of the economy via Roosevelt’s New Deal, we continue to employ the Federal Reserve and its worthless paper.  So a rational person would have to conclude that it’s only a matter of time before we fall back into that same pit again.  Only next time, it’s liable to be a lot worse.  Remember, we brought the Fed into this world and we can certainly take it out.

Going the Extra Mile

Posted in All, Economics, Miscellaneous with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 7, 2010 by marushiadark

“Look, if you had one shot, or one opportunity to seize everything you ever wanted in one moment, would you capture it? Or just let it slip?”  ~ Eminem, Lose Yourself

It’s funny how the universe seems to provide you with exactly what you need in your darkest moments once your mindset becomes corrected.  Here I was, sitting up at three o’clock in the morning wondering what the hell I’m gonna write about today when, lo and behold, the universe showed me the way.  I didn’t ask for it, but I got it all the same because I knew now that I needed to right what I felt was a particular outstanding wrong.

I never considered myself to have come from a very privileged family, and yet I know there’s a great many things that I have to be thankful for.  After my last post, I’m sure there are a lot of people who would look at what I wrote and think, “Oh, that’s some wishful thinking, but what do you know about me and my problems?  Have you ever lived in a trailer park working two jobs to feed your three kids?  How am I supposed to focus on things like love and vacation?  You don’t know shit about what I’m going through.  You’re just another spoiled person talking crap.”

The truth is, I don’t know what it’s like to live that life, so I’m sorry if you read that and felt insulted by my nonchalant attitude.  I can really only speak from my own experiences and those I’ve shared with others.  But that doesn’t mean my words don’t still hold some truth to them.  I know, in many ways, I do act like a spoiled little rich kid at times.  And it’s true, that I could probably never understand the lives of people who’ve had it a lot worse off than me.  But that doesn’t mean I can’t try.

“The road to heaven goes through hell.” ~ Unknown, allusion to Dante’s Divine Comedy

So I was sitting in the living room watching TV when the movie 8 Mile came on.  I had never seen it, but I’d always wanted too, since I enjoy a lot of Eminem’s work (I didn’t as a kid, but I do now as an adult).  I think his music has some very inspiring messages that come from the heart.

For those of you who’ve seen it, I think the movie is a perfect example of what I said in my last post and how those that have it a lot worse off than me can still take it to heart and apply it to their own situations.

For those who haven’t seen the movie, Eminem plays this guy Rabbit who lives with his mom in a trailer park in Detroit.  His car doesn’t work, he’s about to lose his job, his mom is about to be evicted, his girlfriend tells him she got knocked up, and the man his mom is seeing is a real asshole to the family.  If that wasn’t bad enough, things get even worse for him as the movie goes on.  His new girlfriend is cheating on him with his friend, he has a reputation for being a chicken at the local clubs, his mom throws him out of the house with his daughter in tow, and he gets beaten up by a gang of local thugs.

That probably sounds a lot more like what some of you are probably used to seeing and dealing with.  I’m sure a lot more people can relate to that lifestyle if you couldn’t relate to my last post.

But it’s not all bad news.  Just when he’s at his lowest and about ready to give up, he pushes past it all and things begin to turn around for Rabbit.  The abusive guy leaves, his mom wins enough money at bingo for them to keep the trailer, Rabbit and his daughter move back in, his boss offers him some extra shifts, his girlfriend comes back to him, his friends come back to support him, and he begins to develop more courage and street credit with his rhymes.

He may not have been rich or outrageously successful, but Rabbit was at least able to pull himself out of the hell hole he was in and give himself and his daughter a better life.  He was able to do this because he stayed focused on his dream and the things that really mattered to him; and as a result, he drew strength and motivation from it that allowed him to do the work needed to see him to the end.  If he can do it, so can we all, I think.

“Pride is not the opposite of shame, but its source.  True humility is the only antidote to shame.” ~ General Iroh, Avatar: The Last Airbender

At the beginning of 8 Mile, Rabbit found himself engaged in a rap battle in which he couldn’t handle the pressure and wound up choking on stage.  He lost the battle and his reputation with it, even though all his friends built him up as being a great improv rapper.  The shame he felt made his dream of becoming a rap star seem impossible and so he began to lose passion.  This plunged him into a downward spiral until he found himself, literally, at rock bottom.

Once you’ve hit rock bottom, though, there’s no where to go from there but up.  So with nothing to lose, Rabbit took a chance and reinvested himself in the things that he loved most in the world and he was subsequently amazed at how quickly his luck began to turn around.  By the end of the movie, he found himself in another series of rap battles, but he embraced his reality for what it was and wound up winning.  He took every negative thing about his life and turned it on his opponent, robbing him of the chance to use it against him.  He had overcome his shame with true humility and became more powerful for it.

In my own life, I’ve been put in many situations for which I, too, am ashamed.  For one thing, you may recall me saying how my mom, at one point, supported our whole family.  Well, during that time, she had to pay both the mortgage and a Parent PLUS Loan she’d taken out for me to go to college.  One thing for which I felt immensely ashamed was that I was the one who helped put our family in such a negative financial position.  Day in and day out, I watched our family struggle to make ends meet.  Worse still, there were no jobs available to me or my dad, so I had to work for small change at my neighbor’s catering company.  Worst of all, for about the last year I was in college, I had lost passion for what I was studying and didn’t want to have anything to do with it anymore, so it was all a complete waste of money.  And it was all on me.

I still finished my degree of course, and it wasn’t a total waste of time either, since I had many great and unique experiences while there that made me who I am today; but that all paled in comparison to what I put my family through and the shame I felt about not being able to use my degree.

For a year after college, I carried that around with me, wondering how I would ever pay her back and still live a life of anything but working to pay my debts.  And who would want to even associate with someone in such a bad position as me, who could love someone that did that to their family?  But I remained true to the things that I was passionate about at the time; and soon, slowly but surely, a way out began to reveal itself and I followed it through.  I had hit the bottom and used it to push myself back up and began crawling my way towards the surface of the water once more.

So while I may not be the worst off person in the world, I hope that, for those of you less fortunate than I, you were able to take something out of this post of mine.  And I hope that you’re able to pick yourself up from the ground, dust yourself off, and go on to do what you love doing and be abundantly rewarded for it.

Peace.

Thoughts for Labor Day

Posted in All, Economics, Humor, Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 6, 2010 by marushiadark

“… to celebrate work by being at play.” ~ Unknown

Today is Labor Day (not to be confused with Labour Day), a day commissioned to honor the social and economic achievements of the working class.  Sounds great, doesn’t it?  Having parades in honor of the hard-working, blue collar men and women of America.

How do you plan to celebrate this most American of holidays?  Take the day off?  Have a barbecue?  Watch a parade?  Go to a ball game?  Or maybe just sleep until noon?  After all, you probably haven’t had a Monday to yourself since Memorial Day.

Yes, Labor Day is a day dedicated to you, the L5 vertebra in the back-bone of our society … or at least that’s how they sell it to us.

If you were to look at the history of Labor Day, you’d see very quickly that it was actually the result of political expediency in an effort to placate the masses.  President Grover Cleveland, no doubt at the behest of railroad lobbyists, ordered the U.S. military to step in and put down a group of workers exercising their Constitutional right to peaceful protest against what they believed to be unfair working conditions.  Many workers were killed and the whole thing was a political disaster stacked on top of questionable authority, so the President hastened the approval of making Labor Day a national holiday in the hopes that people would be too distracted by the big fancy floats to remember what happened.

Talk about buying people off!

But that’s all in the past, right?  The U.S. government no longer treats workers like crap.  I mean, this isn’t Communist Russia where we have things like graduated income tax, confiscation of property, centralized credit systems, centralized communication and transportation systems, property taxes, state-sponsored schooling, disproportionate rights for immigrants and rebels, … oh wait.  I guess we do have all that stuff over here in America.

Just that we had our workers revolt a few years before the Russians did.  And here we were worried about them beating us at something.

“If hard work made you richditch diggers would be rich.” ~ Proverb on Work

You might have heard that quote before, perhaps even in a letter about starting a business from home.  I’m not here to tell you to go and do that, but it raises an interesting point that there’s a disparity between what we’ve been conditioned to believe about working to earn money and the truth.

We’re taught from an early age that having a job and working hard makes you a successful and upstanding member of society; yet for most of us, the reality is probably a lot different.  The truly sad part, though, is that we’re all aware of it to some extent, but we either ignore it or think we’re powerless to do anything about it.

For instance, have you ever wondered how it is that 1% of the population earns 95% of all the money and can get away without paying any taxes on it to boot?  If you haven’t, then consider this is your wake-up call.

That 1% owns 95% give or take a few percent.  So if there were a hundred people in a room with a million dollars between them, one person would have $950,000 and each of the other ninety-nine people would have little more than $500 each.  Does that not seem unfair to you?  I count myself among the 99% and I think that’s unfair.  I mean, there’s ninety-nine of us and only one of him.  Why don’t we all just get together and make him give us a bigger cut?  Maybe he’s a really great guy that contributes a lot to society, so he can get a slightly bigger slice than the rest of us and that’s fair, but I seriously doubt he’s ninety-five times better than any one of us.  As a matter of fact, in all likelihood, he’s probably about ninety-five times worse than any of us.

But I’m generalizing of course.  Not that you go out and murder every rich man on the planet, although in the long-run it might be a lot fewer bodies.

“All the measures of the government are directed to the purpose of making the rich richer and the poor poorer.” ~ William Henry Harrison

I once read that, in a single year, David Rockefeller made $16,000,000 and paid no taxes on any of it; yet in order for us to pay off the outstanding national debt, income taxes of every man and woman in America would have to be raised to something like 65% of their total income.  With the amount you pay on taxes now, do you think any of us could survive such a thing?  Maybe it’d be worth it if we got something in return for it.  But I bet most of you reading this article right now are probably struggling with what you already have, trying to make ends meet while busting your ass for forty, forty-five hours a week or working two jobs or something, with kids and rent and family medical expenses on top of all of that.

I should know, since I’ve seen my own family go through that very thing.  My mom works as a nurse – sometimes twelve hours a day – and my dad is a general contractor.  My first job was working for him over the course of several years for next to no pay at all.  For a while, my dad had no work during the most recent recession, so my mom was supporting us all by herself.  Ours is a family of four kids, two dogs, and a mortgage.  Thank God we’re all healthy and went to public schools or we’d be in even worse shape than we are now.

“There’s nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.” ~ Peter F. Drucker, Social Ecologist and Management Consultant

As Peter Joesph, creator of the movie Zeitgeist (linked in sidebar) put it, “Most people think of having a job as some form of basic instinct.”  Without much question on our part, we sell our time and labor out for money to some dictator we call “boss” for little pay and even less respect.  And the jobs we do are done solely because, if we don’t, we are going to lose our house or our health insurance or our vehicles or whatever.

Obviously, it’s not a totally unreasonable thing to do what you have to in order to survive, but working harder isn’t always a guarantee of fulfilling our needs, either.  And even then, we’re just taking care of our physiological needs.  We’re being kept alive to do … what, exactly?  Working hard to keep us alive just enough so that we can keep on working hard?  That’s what I thought.  What’s the point of laboring if you don’t get to enjoy the fruits of your labor once in a while?  Most people put off their enjoyment until they’re old enough to retire (which is usually some time in their sixties, if at all).  But even a poor orange grower gets to eat oranges one season out of every year.

It’s one thing to save for a rainy day, it’s another thing entirely to save every penny for a day that might never come.  If you aren’t living and enjoying life now, then you’re doing something wrong.

What that something is depends on your particular situation, but there are a few general things you can do.  For starters, I’d recommend reading the book The Richest Man in Babylon, as it has a lot of wisdom on earning money and making it work for you.  Wisdom that is really timeless.

Working hard will not be enough to get you what you want in life.  Trading your income for labor is something that a robot or a well-trained monkey can do and you’re not a robot or a monkey (not even a well-trained monkey), so you need to begin to work smarter, not harder.  Instead of working that dead-end job in retail or telemarketing (which is only helping to bring down the whole of society), figure out what it is you love doing and develop a plan around that.  You’ll be a lot happier for it.  And take some time out to enjoy life once in a while.  Otherwise, you’re little more than a cog in some great big corporate machine that churns out tools and bureaucrats by the barrel-full.

As I’ve often said, there’s a difference between work, a job, a career, and a hobby you get paid for.  Work is back-breaking labor, a job is a tedious task, a career is something you’re stuck doing for the rest of your life and a hobby you get paid for is just that: a hobby you get PAID for.  Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all do what we loved and then get paid for it?  If we did, I’m sure some robotics geek could build the machines to do all the other things we hate … and he would have fun while doing it, too.