Love Letters — Fourth Love

Forbidden LoveOur Love was forbidden from the start — married man with child falling in Love with a single mom at work.  All those secret rendezvous – some people find that exciting, but it wasn’t…it was pressure…the whole weight of outward and inward social norms crushing down on a delicate budding flower.

Lightning

I remember exactly when I began to fall for you.  It was on that business trip we took together…alone…to Florida.  We had known each other for several years, but this was the first time we were alone together.  We worked alongside one another during the day and went out to dinner in the evening and then drove back to the same hotel…only to repeat the cycle for the entire week.  It was on the flight home…you were half asleep…when I let my head rest on your shoulder.  From that point on, the feelings grew…no one could stop it….not even you.  The flower was in full bloom.  I received all kinds of advice from those closest to me, but the words sounded like a foreign language compared to the passion of a deafening thunderbolt.

AirplaneIf the social pressures weren’t enough…add the black and white laws of corrupt capitalism.  Corrupt  capitalism drove us from the west to the east…took me away from my son…forced you to sell your house for a loss…what other choice did we have when they shut down the west coast headquarters in the name of “synergies”?  My ex-wife hadn’t worked for years — I couldn’t just take severance and hope to find a job in one month.  You may have had time to land something, but then we would be apart.  And so we accepted the company’s ultimatum and moved across the country to begin our new life under one roof.  Since I negotiated a healthy increase in salary and bonus, I had enough money to support two lives, the old and the new…and I was able to travel and see my son once a month.

Financial Crisis Hearings 2And then, after two years, corrupt capitalism reared its ugly head once again.  All those fucking assholes, the legalized and protected criminals, brought down the financial system…which led our company to “layoff” 10,000 human beings…with no option to stay on at a lower wage…escorting them out of the building like they were guilty of a crime… treating them like a bunch of fucking dogs.  I couldn’t take it anymore.  I took the severance package instead of hanging on at a lower salary like all of the other more politically connected, mindful, nipple sucking slaves… well, you know what… fuck those cowards…let them rot in hell for all I care.  I know…they are only thinking of caring for their own families…I know the argument and logic..well…what about the other 10,000 little people who didn’t have a fucking choice?

HoleOver-time, unable to secure a new job on the east or west coast, the expense of living the old and the new life depleted all my “worldly resources”, and the time came for a decision.  All I had left in my possession was my energy and Love…and that energy was divided… between you and my son…I chose my son.  The process of contemplating this decision tore something out of my mind…and the hole remains…all the way the through.

Little boyYou’re an amazing woman, tough, strong, beautiful inside and out…a fighter.  But I know, under all that armor, you have a gentle heart.  You deserve more than half of my energy.  But my son…he is just a little being…still developing…he needs all of my energy to grow strong and healthy.  Just as you have given so much of your energy to your son, so I need to do the same.  You, of all people, should understand this gut wrenching decision.  I still Love you, but you deserve a man who can give you everything… and nothing less.

There are those that will smile at this outcome, but they of course are advocates of the status quo and perpetuate all that is….from the meaning of the marriage contract…to believing in capitalism even in its morphed and corrupted form.  To them…I say…I would do it all over again…poverty is worth the price of pursuing Love…just like poverty is worth the price of pursuing what you know to be true…for you.

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Rich Man Poor Man

Last week on my way to some half-ass short-lived job I saw the same bum on the corner.  He picked the perfect spot – at the traffic light just off the freeway exit leading to the city.  He could barely walk to make his hopeless stumble along the cars.  His long dirty grey beard seemed to blend in and attach to the blanket wrapped around his body.  I said something like this to my friend, “You know what?  We are all not too far from ending up like this guy.  If I didn’t have some support I could be right there along with him.  I only hope that I would still have the sense of dignity and awareness to go up to the mountains for the long eternal rest.  There is no way in hell he will ever be able to dig himself out of this hole.  No one will ever hire this guy.”

I wondered what his story is and what events or decisions led him to where he is now.  I began to reflect on my own situation.  I grew up and lived a charmed life up until the age of about forty-one.  Then the shit hit the fan.  I can outline all the steps that led to where I am now and they are all mainly my own doing.  This decision caused that and that decision caused this.  The patterns of decision-making can be traced back to when I was a young boy and later a young man.  More importantly, the thoughts and feelings behind those decisions have even more clairvoyant patterns.  Although I can justify and stand by most of those decisions, thoughts, and feelings, in the end, it doesn’t really matter.  What matters is how society views or interprets those decisions, thoughts, and feelings.  If society doesn’t understand or agree, and you haven’t prepared for war with conviction and determination, eventually you will pay the price.  During youth such decisions and society’s interpretation of those decisions carry fewer consequences for youth has inward and outward armor.  But when one approaches the ripe old age of forty times around the sun, the outside armor begins to melt which exposes the inward armor.

The real test begins now.  In the evening I walk among the streets and look into the restaurants I used to enjoy not so many years ago.  I see the people in their nice clothes sipping on wine and enjoying a variety of dishes without any concern for the pending bill.  All the various flavors permeate the city air.  During the day I observe people rushing to and fro with a sense of purpose while I wander aimlessly and confused to my not so important destination.   I worry about having enough money for a quarter tank of gas or a bus ride.  I have to make decisions about whether or not to get a six-pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon or some Top Ramen noodles.  I don’t have the means to maintain my pride nor the humbleness to seek available assistance.  My living conditions are despicable and uncomfortable. 

Despite my plight, I realize there are millions and perhaps billions that are worse off than me.  I understand that these same people may have never enjoyed the luxuries and simple pleasures I enjoyed for some forty orbits – pleasures and luxuries that I sold out for rather than endure the harder and more true course that my being called for.  I also realize many of these people may not have the luxury or education for higher thoughts and dreams.  And I envy these people who never knew such luxuries and pleasures to some degree.  They are tougher, stronger, used to their daily struggle to simply survive.  They aren’t concerned with dreams and visions or contemplations.  I on the other hand, am like a helpless born baby with a dreamy grown up mind punted into the middle of the ocean without any diapers or a pacifier.  I am like the guy in the Matrix that just had his chords ripped from his spine and can’t swim in the reject toilet bowl because the muscles in the body and mind suffer from atrophied. 

The road ahead will be long and difficult – the comfortable middle ground no longer exists.  I will see whether or not my inward armor is made of metal or just a bunch of hot air that simply needs to be released with a long disappointed sigh.  This will be a very cold, lonely, and lean holiday season – a perfect time for some long thoughtful walks, reflection, and perhaps some laughter and tears of joy.  I think it might be the perfect occasion to begin reading true works of art once again.  Time to pick myself up a copy of Steppenwolf — somewhere during the last twenty orbits I lost my copy of this little golden nugget.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Generation Skip — Prologue

I often grow tired of observing and then criticizing the current human direction.  Therefore, I decided to take a break and offer my thoughts on how the human species could attempt to take control of its own destiny and set a potentially more fruitful course than the direction we have currently chartered.  I will say that like Socrates, I realize I know nothing and therefore these utopian visions are merely offered up to you as a form of contemplation or an impetus for us to discuss and debate the content, the ideas, or whatever comes to mind.  Of course Socrates would use the dialectic to explore such a concept and would not approve of this essay type format so it is my hope that some form of dialectic occurs in the comment sections.  I apologize if the length of these posts exceeds the more marketable short post format, but I need to expand my thoughts on this topic.  I am less interested in attracting a large crowd than I am in attracting a few that may understand and appreciate the awful predicament in which we currently find ourselves. 

Generation Skip will involve several posts and attempts to throw a wrench in the powerful cogs that have led us to what I have defined as “Gridlock” (see previous post).  In essence, this group of posts will communicate with broad strokes an outline or framework for a utopian solution to Gridlock.  Creating a utopian outline within the context of what currently exists as “human reality” is a very difficult and multifaceted project which can take many forms.  Previous and much more intelligent thinkers have already provided a variety of utopian visions or in some cases, comedies or nightmares.  My outline is merely one of an infinite number of potential frameworks for a utopian structure which is why I will in fact leave the ultimate goals and visions up to those beings living in Generation Skip to define on their own.  I am merely trying to remove and free these beings from what I perceive to be the primary mechanisms that have led us to Gridlock.  My goal is to free them from the heavy freight train-like momentum which has led us into a state of Gridlock.   

The problems which I have observed in our current human world have all been touched upon in previous posts contained in this blog, but I want to briefly recap the big issues here and now.  I think after outlining these key problems that my intention and logic for creating Generation Skip will make more sense and appear less comical and more logical. 

First, I believe we have lost our way and allowed ourselves to be almost entirely consumed by and with economics.  In fact, I fear that economics has become the primary focus of our energies, goals, visions, and spirit.  Economics has always been a piece of civilization, but I believe it has become by a large margin (excuse the pun) the biggest piece of the pie.  I fear that it over-rides, dominates, and suppresses all of our other potentially wonderful human traits, abilities, and creations.  I fear that it holds hostage science, technology, medicine, education, law, politics, engineering, religion, spiritual endeavors, art, and other wonderful fields.  All of these fields are held to constraints by funding, profits, money, and capital resources.  None of these fields are short of human beings with great brains and talents.  I am taking the above claim as a given and will not take time and space to prove these points.  If you disagree, then by all means state your opinion and corresponding argument.

Economics, and in particular, capitalism, is based on one very important assumption – the human being is not motivated to create, innovate, or act effectively or efficiently without the incentive to make money, turn in a profit, and become wealthy.  In the most primal aspect of this primary assumption, the human being is placed in the realm of training and motivating a young puppy.  Many assume that a puppy will not act “appropriately” or learn to heal, sit, lie down, shake hands, or rollover unless you offer or reward the puppy with a treat.  The treat in economics or capitalism is money or accumulated wealth.

I have more hope, confidence in and respect for the human being and its potential than do capitalists and economists.  All I have to do is look at children.  Do children learn to walk, talk, read and write in exchange for money?  Does a child hug his mom because he is expecting a buck in return?  Does a child laugh and cry, play and fight, dream or imagine only because he or she wants to make some dough?  Do children play team sports and work together for common goals based on the assumption that they will make coin?  Does a child become interested in a musical instrument or singing in hopes of becoming rich?  There are so many intangibles that motivate or cause children to do what they do, and money and profit isn’t one of them.  It is only when these children reach a certain age that they begin to become concerned with earning money and entering the “real world”. 

I want to make a few broader points here.  If you observe the natural world around us, not a single animate species is motivated by or acts for the exchange of money.  The same principle applies to all that is inanimate – momentum, gravity, chaos, order, creation, destruction, all occur without earning a penny.  The human being is THE ONLY thing in the entire universe (as far as we know) that is addicted to or functions on the concept of money.  We must realize that everything we have created, infrastructure, airplanes, automobiles, skyscrapers, technology, satellites, space shuttles, antibiotics, were all not created by economics, capitalism, profits, and money.  All these things that we enjoy were created by man’s brain, hands, and cooperation.  All these things and perhaps more could have existed independent of economics, capitalism, profit, and money.  In fact, if you contemplate the structure of skyscrappers, which are impressive, one has to realize that their shape and structure was developed with one purpose in mind — economy.  How many people can we stuff into one structure while using the least amount of land as possible.  Look to the past to see more beautiful structures and architecture.  Money creates nothing – money is a piece of meaningless paper.  If you are interested in this concept or argument that money, debt, and financial institutions are a myth and have caused great harm in our direction and assumptions about value, I urge you to read my first post on this blog entitled “The Human World without Money, Debt, and Financial Institutions”.  It is shorter than this rant. 

Economics, capitalism, money, profit, these things accentuate, emphasize, or reward certain human traits or behaviors. The words I would use to describe the traits or behavior or outcomes driven by these concepts include greed, shrewdness, swindling, inflation, recession, depression, market collapse, ponzi scheme, ripping off, miser, exploiting, cheating, selfish, hoarding, excessive, desensitized, cold, ruthless, criminal, deceptive, and the list goes on.  I have worked in business for over a decade at some relatively high levels and have seen firsthand corruption, petty politics, exploitation, and massive layoffs where people are escorted to their cars as though they had committed a fucking crime.  I have had some pretty good internal insight as to how the large powerful capitalistic corporation functions and makes money for the entity, those at the top of the entity, and those involved with banks and Wall Street.  It isn’t rocket science.  Just within the last two decades we have seen the rich getting richer and the middle class disappearing, companies making huge profits by exploiting cheaper labor abroad while laying off and killing jobs in the home country.  We have seen suspect wars that could be linked to the need for oil which is a key piece to our capitalistic society.  We have seen horrible examples of greed including Enron, Bernie Madoff, the housing derivative scam, the bailouts, and the continuing bullshit that occurs on Wall Street where investment bankers and traders use smoke and mirrors to make themselves and those in the know huge amounts of money from speculation and short selling.  We have seen our government become hostage to lobby firms which are simply the guns of huge and powerful capitalistic entities.  None of the above would have come about if there was no such thing as money, loans, debt, and financial institutions. 

My second major concern or problem that needs to be solved is quite simply our massive and increasing population – currently at seven billion.  I don’t care about the pros and cons and facts and figures spewed out by environmentalists or far right capitalists.  All you have to do is open your eyes, ears, and nostrils to know for certain that our huge numbers combined with a capitalistic highly industrialized product driven society is degrading our planet and destroying or negatively impacting huge numbers of animate creatures and polluting the most precious resources on planet earth – air, water, and land.  People, we are on a flying ocean rock alone in a giant chaotic universe that doesn’t care whether we exist or not.  So, why don’t we take it easy on the number of beings we bring into our world?  I’ll tell you why not.  Economics, capitalism, profits, money, demands that we keep bringing more and more beings on-line.  If we actually began to significantly reduce our population, how in the hell would companies be able to show upward trending sales and profit graphs and therefore where would the fuel come to keep the banks, Wall Street, and the investment banks humming along?  It is a horrible wheel we have created for ourselves isn’t it?

Our increasing population combined with our winner take-all mentality leads to fewer and fewer resources and money to properly educate and nurture all of these new little beings coming on to our beautiful planet.  Governments and states are running out of money, schools have more children and fewer teachers, which is leading to a dumbed-down growing populace. To make matters worse, huge pockets and numbers of people are ignorant, extremely poor, sick, suffering, yet it is within these very pockets that relatively more innocent little beings are brought on-line.  This has to stop.  It is not only cruel but it is also not sustainable when we attempt to appease their suffering by simply throwing money and welfare at them to buy food.  Such short-term action may make us feel better, but it is not the solution.  And it further strains our already empty public coffers.  It is a fact that poverty breeds more poverty.

Generation Skip will attempt to free a group of beings from the above wheel in manner that hopes for further adoption without bringing down and destroying the status quo in an abrubt catastrophe.  A sudden switch over to a utopian model for all human beings is not possible given our status quo.  The framework and methods used to do so will seem rather strange and perhaps harsh, but compared to other potential utopian frameworks or visions the harshness and sacrifice required is rather mild.  One of the fundamental principles of Generation Skip is that sacrifice over individual rights must occur for the culture to get up and running.  The tension between individual rights and a unified whole is the conundrum we face as American’s and as a human species.  Both sides of this spectrum are desirable and important, but if the balance falls too far to one side or the other, we lose a great deal of value, power, and potential as a civilization and as a species.

The “Human World” without Money, Debt, and Financial Institutions

When you look at the economic state of America, the former beacon upon a hill and economic dynamo, one cannot help but to muse about how the country has fallen so hard and so fast.  But rather than dive too deeply and get into facts and figures and economic / political theory, I want to get to the point and highlight what I think is the core problem — our creation of money, debt, and financial institutions. 

At some point in time, human civilization decided that money, pieces of paper and coins, could represent value and value created. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/ancient/history-money.html  Here is the first step we took into obscurity.  I find it very strange that a piece of paper or coin can accurately represent value.  Trade and barter made sense.  Give me your basket of fruit in exchange for my hunk of meat and we have a fair deal.  Imagine, if we could put a modern man back in time, and he was to offer a hunter a ten-dollar bill in exchange for a hunk of meat.  The hunter would look at the piece of paper and say, “what in the hell am I supposed to do with this?”  I have a broad question when it comes to assuming money has intrinsic worth.  How much money would it take to buy the sun, fresh rivers, a bountiful ocean, clean crisp air, and fertile soil?  These elements have immense value for they are the basis for life, yet we can’t put a monetary value on what they are worth — although I am sure there are some economists modeling out the worth of the elements to support the new green economy.  Good luck with those calculations. 

The next step into obscurity was the idea that the money supply could be increased or in current terms printed.  Hey, we are out of money so lets just print more.  Brilliant! There is a limited supply of gold, jewels, and goods and therefore one can make a reasonable leap of faith that these limited items could be linked in some shape or form to value.  But when you can simply print more money it obviously waters down the relationship between approximate value and true value.  At one point money was linked to the gold supply (gold standard), but apparently the powers that be didn’t like that restriction and elected to sever the relationship.  

But Man didn’t stop there.  He also came up with an even more entrepreneurial and innovative concept — the loan.  Why wait until you have earned enough money to buy this or that when you can have it today for a small monthly fee and the promise you will pay back the original amount some time in the future?  Finally, man capped it all off with the invention of financial markets.  Thus the invention of Wall Street and Investment “Bankstas”. Now you could print more money and take out a loan and then throw it all into the financial market and make more money without actually doing any work.  As long as you made a good guess where to invest your money you can hit the jack pot!.  And if your are connected and obtain inside information your chances to hit the jack pot increase.  And if you are a trader controlling huge funds and can move the market up or down with rumours or a touch of a button, your chances increase exponentially to make lots of money for doing nothing of value. 

Currently, vast amounts of money flow so fluidly and rapidly (thanks to electronic flows of money…yet another step into obsurity) through financial, business, and government institutions that nobody understands what is going on.  Watching the talking business heads on tv is a true comedy.  “Well, the Dow went down 100 points in the morning due to the debt crisis fears in Europe but rebounded in the afternoon because an article mentioned that China might step in to help stabilize Italy”.  The most comical aspect is that these talking heads  claim to understand what is going on with the economy and interpreting what is causing the stock market to go up and down on any given day probably make over six figures.  This leads me to my next point.

Money, which has a watered down assumed intrinsic worth as previously mentioned, flows rapidly to sources that we “perceive” to have value equal to that already inflated assumption of the intrinsic worth of money.  If our “perceived” value of the source receiving vast amounts of money is wrong, then we have really dug ourselves in a hole.  And I would argue that our perception of what is valuable is off-base in many cases.  From a big picture perspective, looking at the earth from space and then zooming in on our society, is a rookie NFL quarterback fresh out of college really worth $20 million?  I enjoy watching football especially college, but the amount of money we pay folks for hitting or throwing balls is out of line.  Is the latest and greatest reality star that has suddenly emerged from obscurity worth millions of dollars?  Those Jersey Shore celebs sure are valuable human beings.  I have watched the show a few times so I am guilty of increasing the net worth of these boneheads.  Is the hottest rap or pop star worth multi-million green backs?  I do think Rhianna is pretty hot.  Guilty again.

Jeff Skilling -- President Enron (currently in jail)

Was Jeff Skilling (Enron president) or Bernie Madoff ever worth the huge sums of money they earned through compensation and stock grants?  Do the top earning 20% of Americans really generate 84% of the value in America?  Are 40 million people in the United States (and 1 in 5 children) that are below the poverty line really worth what their measly earnings say they are worth or could be worth?  Clearly, something is out of whack.  And in my opinion,the distortion is caused by the possibility that our perceived value of what has value is way off base and we have made an erroneous assumption about the intrinsic value of money.  Combine the above flaws with loans, debt, and financial speculation and you have a house of cards and misallocated “wealth”.  Two movies worth watching on this topic are “The Smartest Guys in the Room” (documentary on Enron implosion) and “Too Big to Fail” (the mortgage-backed security frenzy).

But what would we do without money, loans, credit, debt, banks, Wall Street, and Investment “Bankstas”?  How would society function?  This may come as a surprise, but every society on this planet, excluding the “Human World”, operates without money and the related baggage.  And man himself at one point operated without money.  In every other society on Earth, including the Apex species, value is pretty clear and money has no meaning or intrinsic worth.  And there certainly aren’t any problems with “perceived” value.  The currency in all other societies on earth is energy.  Some of the more advanced societies combine their energy via cooperation to obtain one of the ultimate valuable prizes — food.  They also work together for protection and ultimately survival.  And many of these societies have been around much longer than ourselves. 

Imagine the sense of freedom these apex predators enjoy without money and particularly debt!  But their societies aren’t free from stress or hardship.  If the society or individual doesn’t find food, they die.  No one is going to come to their aid.  But that doesn’t mean that these apex predators don’t find time for fun or enjoy being alive.  The bond between members of these societies is strong for without each other it would be a very lonely and dangerous world.  Not all members of these societies are treated completely equal — Only the lucky few earn mating rights through various competitions and the prize certainly has value and a bit of pleasure!  Although some inequality exists, they each play a crucial part such that the whole has access to the fruits earned through cooperation.  Of course we would be in position to adapt lessons from these societies because we have an opposable thumb, a large brain, and free hands since we walk upright.  We have the power to create and manipulate the environment around us.  All we need to do is define true value, define our missions, use our brains, thumbs, free hands, and spend our currency (our energy) to make it happen. 

Otherwise, the vast majority of us will remain like domesticated pigeons huddling together looking up at the few fortunate hawks.