21st century economics

Was just watching a few minutes of some heart-wrenching movie starring Denzel Washington where he played a father who’s down on his luck due to downsizing at his company, only to be confronted by an unforeseeable heart condition afflicting his young son which requires a heart transplant in order to survive, and only to find out his insurance coverage through his job had been reduced along with his hours. Drew a few tears out of me, not that that’s difficult to do. But it also bleeds into a topic that stays in the back of my mind and always has: modern-day economic disparity.

Don’t get me wrong. It doesn’t take an emotional argument like that depicted in tonight’s movie to get a rise out of me. Just happened to be what tripped my trigger this particular evening. Some would argue that a scenario like that described above is fairly rare, which is probably true, and they might go on to caution me to look out how centralized, state-funded healthcare programs haven’t produced the desired results. Won’t get an argument out of me about that. My stance continues to be that we as a society would be better off if health insurance companies were cut out of much of our healthcare system, possibly being reserved for unforeseen emergencies and catastrophic events only. As it stands now, insurance companies dictate the cost of healthcare at pretty much every level and are responsible for so much of it being cost-prohibitive out of pocket for the average citizen. The only way costs will be corrected (and largely lowered) is if our medical establishment becomes a truly free market without middlemen insurance companies aiding in inflating the costs. The fact that nearly all medical expenses (including routine care and prescriptions) are too much for the average consumer to afford is the sign of an unsustainable setup.

Many, many people are beholden to insurance companies in order to receive quality healthcare. I’m not, but I’m an outlier who thankfully has managed to remain pretty healthy thus far. But I listen to all of you out there and hear the frustration. Plenty of people are disgruntled about the cost of insurance that is automatically deducted from their pay, and plenty aren’t intimately familiar with what all their plans will or won’t cover. Because reading those forms is a legalese jargon nightmare, as is so often the case when it comes to important matters.

But my thoughts tonight aren’t restricted to the U.S. healthcare system or Obamacare. That’s just one mighty arm of this larger economic concern.

Modern life can seem most maddening when it comes to observing economic disparity. Now, I already know what my libertarian brethren will say about how we don’t want a socialist system and how that will only make matters worse. Not disagreeing with you there. However, something does indeed have to give. Not sure what exactly or how, but when this many people (and now we’re on a global stage where everybody’s watching) are experiencing feelings of resentment because their reality is absolutely nothing like the rich people’s reality broadcast all day/everyday on television, there’s going to be a problem eventually. The rights people are fighting to uphold are falling apart partly because they’re viewed as benefiting some more than others. Right or wrong, that’s the increasingly common perception. And it’s perceptions that are stoking the embers of aggravation and disrespect — it’s perceptions you are all up against. If perceptions don’t change, which they likely won’t if disparities continue to grow, then more and more people will seek to tear down the very system that’s currently in place. And they might win out.

I read where some alt-righters like to denigrate all socialists or leftists as a bunch of overly emotional idealists with no concept of how the real world works. Well, in some cases that may be true, but the potential threat they pose remains the same regardless. People don’t have to operate with sound logic and rationality in order to wage a culture war, and there are no guarantees that those deemed most logical and rational will win in the end. It comes down to a battle of ideas, and what’s working against some of you is that you’re viewed as insincere and uncaring about the masses. So good luck in attempting to change hearts and minds, especially if you or other dumbass minions claiming to belong to the groups you’re identified with use abrasive tactics in trying to put points across.

Classist concerns have always impacted my outlook and worldview. That’s no secret. And I can tell you that as a long-time libertarian-leaning individual it can feel uncomfortable at times arguing alongside the smug types who care mostly about protecting and maintaining and increasing their own, forever talking as if all they have came purely as a product of their hard work, failing to mention the people they’ve met along the way who’ve given them breaks or the lucky opportunities that have arisen. I’ve been fortunate to have met a wide variety of people over time in person, including a few who received their money through inheritance (“trust fund babies” is what we refer to them as). Had a client once upon a time who shared he was left a sizeable amount of money, enough to where his wife didn’t need to work and he was able to take over a year off between jobs without worrying. That’s not a reality I personally can relate with one bit. And yet he and I both consider ourselves libertarians of sorts and had many conversations about economics (me mostly listening since he worked in that sector and so had plenty to tell).

A man like him can become very defensive when confronted about his fortunate circumstances of birth. Not that I confronted him on it since that wouldn’t have been good for business back then. But I have confronted others I’ve met at times, pointing out the differences between us. Why? Because I can’t help but notice. Another man I used to know, a friend, has a timeshare in Jamaica and regularly vacations there and down to Florida with his entire family. He liked to tell me about it, and honestly sometimes I didn’t want to hear about it, especially when I was hitting the skids and having financial problems. Nice as he was as a person, he couldn’t understand me and I couldn’t understand him entirely on that level. He took time off work to heal up after very expensive elective surgeries, surgeries me and mine wouldn’t have an option to receive because we can’t afford it (even those with insurance can’t afford the amount expected to be paid out of pocket) nor can we afford the time off work. Different options lead to different outlooks.

I used to work for a man who raced Porsche cars that he owned. If you can imagine that. Even picked me up in one one time to show it off (very uncomfortable because when they race them there’s these bars inside to reinforce the cabin in case they roll — and those bars don’t come out) when I traveled down South to visit with him. That man would tell me stories of what it was like going from making over $500,000/yr. to a little over $100,000/yr. — a MAJOR transition for him and most especially for his wife. Was a truly nice guy overall and I still remember him fondly, but do you think I could relate with anything he was presenting me with? I’ve never made anywhere close to $100,000/yr. in my life thus far. Certainly have no idea what a $1,000 champagne brunch involves. Don’t know what it’s like to pay someone to prepare my meals in-home or come clean my house, though my Grandmother does continue to clean other people’s houses in order to supplement her social security money, as is very necessary.

I regularly met with a pediatrician, met with an accountant, met with a tax attorney, met with middle-management personnel, met with successful entrepreneurs, met with a few other lawyers, met with a former lobbyist — lots of people from a different socioeconomic strata than me. And I’m very glad for those experiences since they helped to humanize such folks, making it harder for me to concoct caricatures in my mind since I had met them and gotten to know them. Though I’d be lying if I pretended I don’t still harbor flickers of resentment toward upper middle-/middle-class folks in general. Probably was ingrained in me from the start, and it never fully dies. I remain aware of that tendency within me to judge, partly because I know that myself and mine were frequently enough judged by that class as well. The distrust and cautiousness runs both ways. Always are exceptions, but that’s been the general situation.

At least I’m aware of it inside myself. Plenty aren’t. Or they haven’t explored what it is exactly that they resent. Some are just envious and want what others have. I may be that way too to some extent, but I’m pretty content with having not so much and actually tend to prefer it this way. But that attitude can be a defensive strategy, as in reckoning that the less you have then the less there is to lose and miss. Others would say that’s the claims of someone lacking ambition. Perhaps so. But I would rebut by saying that some who have quite a lot didn’t gain it through pure ambition.

Either way, tit for tat squabbles aside, I understand that people’s perception can and does keep them down to where they don’t try to compete because they assume it’s futile. And that’s no way to approach a market economy if one hopes to succeed. Altering such perceptions is important, but how do you do that when fewer jobs with the chance of upward mobility are available now, yet the population continues to increase? Not everybody can be cutting edge and innovative in the ways that are being rewarded at present. When our manufacturing base was gutted and shipped to Mexico and China, that was viewed as a betrayal of a huge number of citizens in this country. It’s a position I hold as well. And once the southern border basically became a joke and undocumented workers came up to take jobs at lower wages than Americans, we as a society were presented with a new host of problems. Now we hear of tech jobs being outsourced to India and read of employees in that sector fretting over their futures. Where does this all end?

We all look out onto our society and observe so many major corporations becoming multinationals, going global and caring only about American consumers so long as another market doesn’t rise to trump our demand. Some say once the middle class grows and becomes better established in China, watch out! I don’t doubt it. Yet our country owes China a lot of money. No clue how that might all shake out in the end.

So many of these major corporations have come to dramatically alter reality for the average citizen, determining where we shop, what we eat, what technologies we rely on and who manufacturers them, how we communicate, what news we’re presented with, what information we can readily access, what hoops we must jump through in order to gain and maintain employment, etc. And yet those same major corporations feel so inhuman. Distant and operating with a whole new set of ethics and values that we then are expected to adapt ourselves to. Do you honestly think people will all be able to adapt? And what happens when they can’t or won’t? Build more privatized prisons to warehouse them within?

Do you see what I see here? This is where the Leftist argument actually contains pieces of truth, uncomfortable as they may be for some out there. People may not articulate themselves terribly well and may rely too much on the wrong leaders to do so on their behalves, but I think this is ultimately what some of them are trying to point at and call attention to. Of course these requests have fallen on deaf ears for quite a while, so I suppose it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that a bunch of ideologically-possessed college students instructed by radical agitators/professors have now taken it upon them to claim to speak for the little people (though many of them arguably are much more concerned with peddling their preferred ideology than actually helping the people whose stories they exhibit — that being how politics tends to roll). These current ideologues are working to appeal to these folks who feel relatively disenfranchised and who worry about what the future may hold.

My question for us is what ideas or counteraction do we have to offer on the libertarian, pro-market end of the spectrum? Because demonstrating that some people can become fabulously wealthy no longer sways the growing majority who can’t relate to or comprehend that level of success. It’s fast coming to be viewed as a pipe dream that’s mostly applicable to those who attend fancy universities and who come into regular contact and hob-nob with other successful people. And that’s pretty accurate since who one knows does definitely play a part in all of this. Networking is key — haven’t we all grown up hearing this repeated? For a great many people out here, it’d likely be through pure happenstance, chance, that they’d rub shoulders with a very wealthy and influential person, let alone develop an ongoing relationship with one. And now that the student loan bubble has hit a record high, fewer youths will be willing (or able) to take the risk of taking on inordinately high loan debt in order to attend a quality university. The vast majority of us needn’t worry about Harvard or Princeton since we’d likely never be admitted anyhow.

Yet every day people do turn on their televisions (much as I wish they wouldn’t, praying that they would please cancel their cable subscriptions and recognize that them paying for the service only further enriches those they view as rich and influential enough already, perpetuating the problem) and gaze upon the Kardashians and other wealthy celebrities and politicians, adding more fuel to the fire and enhancing the sense that we increasingly live in a time of haves and have-nots. But television has proven addictive, so telling people simply not to watch it is pretty pointless. Besides, people feel entertained by doing so. But what do they learn? What messages are they being sent over and over again? If you think the mainstream media is neutral, think again. And if you think marketing and advertising has a minimal impact on our mindsets and behaviors, you’re incredibly naive.

Some of what’s being marketed to us, day in and day out, is divisiveness via neo-tribalism and false narratives. Because there’s a political competition, as always, geared toward telling people what they want to hear (or scaring the hell out of them through intentional fear-mongering), and as with advertising, people can be swayed. They may not trust the Democrats, but they certainly don’t trust the other side. So then what? Libertarians who get televised tend to talk about abstract matters or legalizing/decriminalizing marijuana and that’s about it. Even when folks online do create a platform to discuss our Constitution and the necessary protection of our rights, that may appeal to someone like me, but what about someone who views the police and government as dangerous and rich people as in their own separate orbit?

We have a conundrum on our hands at present, and it certainly won’t be alleviated by throwing around useless labels and calling one another names online. How do we get across to people who haven’t learned all that much about the origins of our government or why our rights matter (thanks largely to the downfall of public schools)? How do you reassure people that caring about any of that is in their best interests when they think the whole system is rigged against them, don’t trust the corporations either, and basically have resolved themselves to be against the current setup? Call it nihilism, sure, but that doesn’t make it go away. Some folks out here seem to be craving greater chaos, almost with a devil-may-care casual attitude toward the fallout likely to occur as a result. Most others just aim to stay out of the fray and go about their daily lives, believing these feuds have always been ongoing and likely always will be, hoping they can make it through their own lives before the wheels fall off of this national project. But then that leaves their kids and grandkids to reckon with the mess when the shit eventually hits the fan.

I won’t claim to have any answers here. But I will say that considerations like this continuously reconfirm my decision to not have kids. Wouldn’t know how to prepare them for the future. And maybe that’s viewed as nihilistic on my own part, and so be it. Something’s obviously happening here, and I doubt the U.S. will be able to keep it together throughout my lifetime. More and more it looks like major social instability is just on the horizon — provoked by political opportunists, yes, but coming nevertheless. People do see an unfair situation, and I can’t blame them for viewing it that way. It’s a tough reality to come to terms with, especially when there appears to be SO MUCH wealth generated and so many possibilities on how it could be better spent rather than rich people congregating at high-priced galas or buying private jets and vacationing on luxurious islands, then showcasing it to the rest of us.

Maybe Hollywood will wind up checked this time around. Maybe. Perhaps people are finally growing tired of the lavish and inconspicuous displays of spoiled celebrities. Personally, I think it would be good for us to come to grips with how watching them really isn’t all that entertaining and instead tends to make us feel worse about our own selves and our own realities. Such comparisons only push the envelope farther. Helps no one, not even the rich celebrities who complain that they’re unfairly targeted with negative attention and are granted no privacy. Might as well give them what they want then. Would be better for us to turn our attention elsewhere and find ways to build our skills rather than continue bankrolling the already wealthy (especially where such fortunate circumstances appear undeserved). Maybe we would be better off with a more leveled society, relatively speaking, to where at least the disparity wasn’t this immense. Libertarian types might not like to hear it, but I’m frequently reminded of primatologists describing how perceived inequities lead to intense displays of outrage and aggression among chimps. We’re talking murderous rampages in some cases, even over fairly minor favoring one over the other(s). Well, we humans obviously are civilized and have a great deal more tolerance than chimps (thank goodness), but we do have our limits too, and it’s very possible that we’re approaching them (at least in terms of how the situation is being perceived — again, perception winds up being everything here). Rather than call on the government to redistribute money, which most don’t want (or don’t trust the government in doing so), we’d be better off figuring out better ways to vote with our own dollars so as to shift the balance. Talk of shopping locally turns out to not only be a hippie slogan — in our own communities is where we can have the most positive impact. Also actually voting in local elections instead of only in presidential elections (at least for those who claim to care about politics). Choosing our entertainment options more wisely so as not to reward spoiled celebrities. Figuring out more sustainable forms of energy so we can finally cease being beholden to the Saudi Royal Fucking Family. Seriously, fuck those guys! We do need more jobs, but the government’s no good at providing them (aside from the military and contractors). What else?

Some of the ideas commonly associated with the Political Left aren’t bad ideas. Not all are purely idealistic. One would think that real conservatives and real liberals alike would choose to care about sustainability. That’s an area where we could make inroads with one another, bringing ourselves into direct physical contact in the process.

That’s enough on this topic tonight.

“Climate Change is a Non Issue (We’re Doomed if It’s Man Made)”

I tend to agree with his perspective shared here. Hence why I refuse to get into discussions on the topic since it comes across as a bunch of useless hand-wringing by folks who do little more than talk about the issue. And what does talking about it get us? Doesn’t improve a thing.

Indeed, if this trend has been coming for over a century, then by now, after a population explosion made possible by technological advancement, we are screwed. Because we’re not going to be reducing the human population anytime soon (it continues growing worldwide), nor can we reduce the livestock we rely on to all survive. Much of this “war” against CO2 emissions strikes me as a way for select politicians and businessmen to profit from taxing strategies that won’t likely prove effective, especially when manufacturing and farming practices in other countries like China remain unhindered by our country’s legislation and regulation attempts. Just sayin’…

Film of the evening: “UNGRIP”

Interesting documentary about one Canadian named Rob’s journey toward claiming personal sovereignty.

“Anything one fears could be construed as master.”

Right after that, 56:38:

“Our creations are our servants.”

Absolutely correct there.

“Life is all about my relationships.”

Yes. I know that, yet I continue to struggle with it too.

It’s all a big process, most definitely. And yes, the solution ultimately does wind up being within ourselves. Continue to struggle with that notion as well…

Not sure what I think near the ending there. JFK isn’t really someone I care for much. But that aside, I’d overall say this is a quality film for providing food for thought that I’d recommend to others.

“Spirit of Eastern Wisdom: The Intelligence Within”

That’s probably my favorite talk from Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, a “mystic” I stumbled across by chance in recent weeks and have watched a good deal from thus far. Worth giving a listen to, whatever your beliefs may be.

A humorous excerpt, 15:15:

Dogs are being tortured to fulfill human loneliness.

Ha! A lot of truth in that statement. Don’t I know it. But that’s a topic in itself for another time.

He’s an entertaining and interesting man to listen to.

Tangled paradoxes

In each corridor I go in search of answers another paradox shows itself. Was just chatting last night with a buddy and this topic arose, since I can’t shut up about it. I’m always left frustrated by how all seemingly good ideas still wind us humans up in what appear to be unwinnable conundrums.

If we fight some other power to keep it from overtaking us (as in the cases of countries waging war), we risk our own society becoming damaged in the process. In the case of warfare: through maintaining standing armies and the risks (and empire-building) that go along with that; through attacking foreign nationals who very often are mere civilians not belonging to the extremist groups said to be presenting a direct threat to us (which then diminishes people’s respect for our nation’s military actions and gives rise to protests among our own citizens); through the exorbitant costs associated with waging war and how that impacts our economy overall, including how the military wound up transformed into a permanent employment sector in its own right; through soldiers potentially winding up psychologically or physically impacted as a result (and how that then impacts their families and the morale of the nation); through corporations finding ways to cash in on the war games via State contracts, which then provides them with an incentive to further lobby to keep us engaged in war where it can prove profitable; etc.

That’s just a cursory look at how ongoing warfare has led to negative consequences with lasting impact on a nation and its people and their way of life. And that’s not even going into how militarization has seeped into domestic police forces and influenced their tactics used.

See, the problem here for me is that I cannot figure out how we’re not ultimately going to wind up in a totalitarian setup eventually, somehow, some way. All roads appear to lead in that direction, regardless of people’s good intentions or what great ideas they might originally be operating with. Because technologies have changed the way the whole game of Life is played anymore, as have modern economics. The complexity is inescapable at this point, and yet history has taught us that the devil is in the details. What this might mean here is that the means employed determine the end outcome, unrealistic utopian fantasies set aside since they hold no real bearing. And it also means that any highly complex setup is vulnerable to corruption and ‘siphoning’ at various levels therein (as in the case of corporations getting into the mix and seeking ways to profit, even though through doing so they add greater complexity, which then further obscures the total reality of the situation, making it all the more cumbersome to apply necessary and effective checks and balances). Economic efficiency becomes a high priority, which comes with its own drawbacks in terms of how we humans are expected to mold ourselves to fit these demands. Before we know it, maintaining the system in question at all costs becomes a primary focus, because we’ve come to depend upon it and are accustomed to it and basically form an irrational attachment to it, even when it’s demonstrably creating more problems than it’s capable of solving.

The dog days are over…

If we minimized the size, scope and roles of our government, we’d potentially leave ourselves open and vulnerable to other nations that fortify and strengthen their own. And if we further strengthen and enlarge our own, this cycle of ramping up never ends — forward to totalitarianism. Can’t truly opt out or escape since the problem’s gone global and shows no signs of slowing anytime soon. This places us in the precarious situation of forcing all other nations to stand down against our demands, lest we wind up being made to stand down to theirs. MAD (mutually-assured destruction) is still with us — it never left and it likely never will.

If we don’t secure our borders, we risk being invaded, if only by an onslaught of immigrants who then wind up dramatically impacting our culture. But if we close our borders, we’re trapping ourselves inside every bit as much as we’re working to keep others out. And, realistically speaking, how does one truly and sufficiently go about securing a nation’s borders? The most determined will likely still find a way, especially along coastlines. This leads back to a massive top-down operation which is only possible under a powerful government. Which then, again, helps pave the way toward totalitarianism.

Another buddy and I were discussing the other day his concerns over climate change and what possible options people have at this point for reversing this trend (if one accepts climate change as a human-exacerbated phenomenon). He speaks of wind and solar power and people growing their own food and living simply. That all sounds well and good, BUT, again, climate change is only one concern among many that humans face today. We can’t put all of our energy toward addressing that, not when that’d leave us wide open in other areas. (See what I said above already about warfare and immigration.) Not to mention that the vast majority of people, here in the U.S. and elsewhere worldwide, don’t view this issue as being the numero uno concern to tackle. Plus, plenty of people are open to nuclear power because they’d rather that than accept drastic changes to their lifestyles and be forced to make sacrifices. Beyond that, these massive wind turbines and complex solar panels are sophisticated technologies requiring corporate manufacturing. Keeps us tied into the money game, which then keeps us supporting this global economic situation, whether we want to or not and likely to humanity’s detriment in the long-run. But it’s inescapable at this juncture.

In continuing our conversation on the matter, I told this buddy that if it came down to jumping on board with a top-down scheme that claims to be capable of handling administering such an undertaking as retooling our energy infrastructure, I’ll personally have to side with not. Not that I don’t care about the environment and not that I don’t think renewable energy is something worth striving toward (or getting back to), but the top-down scheme is yet another avenue toward totalitarianism. It helps pave that road to hell, all good intentions aside. This depresses him to think about, understandably so. But consider how China behaves as if its manufacturing base doesn’t care and how our nation cannot do much to change that. Even if we boycott their products, at this point they’re too powerful and it’s already too late (Thanks WALMART and other big-box stores). Probably shouldn’t have shipped so much of our manufacturing infrastructure to that country in the first place. But what’s done is done — our lack of foresight has screwed us once again.

This all ties in with conversations on how “Leftists” talk the talk when it comes to “green living,” but in reality they’re as tied in and dependent on the current status quo as the rest of us. Driving a Prius doesn’t really change a thing. Small drops in the bucket might make us feel better, like we’re at least doing our part to try to improve environmental conditions, but very often it’s just another illusion. Why? Because we live in a massive infrastructure, a concrete jungle, powered by heavy dependence on oil and coal, and even if we switched over to nuclear power that wouldn’t imply our biggest worries are behind us. Possibly Chernobyl-izing more arable land sounds every bit as folly as anything else humanity has managed to step in thus far.

Sound pessimistic? Yeah, I know. Yet another reason for why I’m not having kids.

Any and all attempts to reverse these trends or to take an alternative path is fraught with equally bad, if not much worse, consequences. We have a massive global population and must contend with the competition that arises over resources as a result. And the complexity of the technologies we in developed nations rely most on are fueled by the big money game. One way or another, major corporations are here to stay (unless we manage to across-the-board knock ourselves back into the Stone Age somehow). Government can either attempt to regulate them or become enmeshed and intertwined with them, the latter already being the case. So big government’s here and big business is here and neither are going anywhere. Any ideas we come up with to try to overhaul life as we know it will depend on these entities aiding us. Because asking them to stand aside and not obstruct us just isn’t realistic anymore. All possible solutions will be handled by some sort of centralized power, top-down system. These entities indeed intend to maintain the power they have already and to expand it where possible. That is their driving goal, for better or worse.

And this is where someone like me can’t sufficiently adapt. Have to so long as I’m here, but really resenting where it all appears to be heading. What other alternatives are feasible? Split this country into several sovereign communities (as it once was intended to be) where each does as it wishes and no centralized power can dictate, and we’ll probably wind up invaded by both Mexico and Canada by next week. Simply because then they could. We’d be rendered defenseless. So the “traditional” dream is dead, folks. I too like the idea of people living on the land and staying out of the muck so long as they’re able. Best of luck to them! I don’t begrudge people for doing what they think is best during what time remains that they can get away with it. But I see limits on the horizon. Eventually the old ways won’t be allowed to fly any longer, and they won’t prove sustainable or practical for most. Not in this setup.

Welcome to modern life.

I don’t know what to say to us right about now. Feels like nearly all advice is pointless. People are going to do what people are going to do. And I suspect some of those unable or unwilling to adjust will turn destructive as a result. That’s to be expected from obstructed people whose lives feel devoid of meaning, made to compete with machines that grow more sophisticated by the year, made to play a game that not everybody can win at (or even nominally succeed at). Such is modern life. Some will give up before even leaving the starting line. And I won’t be surprised if a growing number of people choose not to have children as well…kind of like caged animals in a zoo reacting to being kept in captivity. Won’t surprise me a bit. And there’s where we get into another arm of what will pave the way toward totalitarianism. The trend is already being labeled as “domestic terrorism,” though I prefer to simplify it by calling it what it is at root: insanity.

Insanity, as I prefer to refer to it as, can (and will) take many forms. People today sure do love to diagnose one another with various psychiatric labels, but in truth we’re all struggling to various degrees, pseudo-scientific explanations aside. Some cope better than others, but it’s mostly a matter of putting on an acceptable facade. We really have no idea what goes on behind the masks others show to the world, much as we love to speculate. Some insanity plays out in rather benign ways and is being catered to and exploited by Big Pharma. More severe cases warrant lock-up in mental institutions or prisons (which are fast becoming the same thing). All of that already plays into the power-structure-that-be. And when someone flips out and decides to go psycho on some random group of people, this reinforces the necessity of expanding domestic police forces and is then also used to justify them beefing up their security measures. Which corporations exploit by peddling wares to law enforcement agencies that allow for greater surveillance of the citizenry. This paranoid panic drummed up among the citizens through the popular media encourages us to turn on one another and to snitch to authorities, seeing as how we’re not all on the same team and regard one another more often than not as strangers worthy of suspicion. So we feed the beast, through our own actions or through alerting authorities to “questionable suspects,” and around and around it all spirals.

Where it ends, nobody knows…

Sound like a happy and productive future? Sound like something worth celebrating? Sound like a cause for optimism?

People say that we somehow need to regain the reins of this System, to figure out a way to subdue it and overhaul it, but time for that has passed. We’re now committed to it. We necessarily depend on it while simultaneously fearing its scope and power. The System is entrenched, and we’re entrenched within it, both as employees and citizens dependent on everything it offers in order to maintain our livelihoods. And what alternative is there?

Fight it how? Lobby to change a few laws? ha  Go for it, folks. Try that. As was brought up in a recent conversation, the moderate people do indeed wind up making concessions and compromises that inevitably just dig them deeper into this mess. The so-called “radicals” on the fringes, misguided as they may seem and indeed be, are the only ones willing to make a big stink, and how many do you imagine will wind up imprisoned for their troubles? But, then again, what alternative can the radicals bring to the table either? Thousands of communities going their own ways apparently won’t work anymore. A break in law and order would just result in opposing groups taking advantage of one another and seizing key resources for themselves. Because that’s where we stand today — saturated with several decades of easy living, forever seeking the easy way out, competing and pushing boundaries where we think we can get away with it — yet still up against other powers-that-be.

That’s not to say there aren’t plenty of good people in the world. But it only takes a calloused, self-serving, social-contract-dismissing minority interest to fuck it up for everybody else.

So there we have it. Where can we as individuals go from here when this is the outlook? Is this merely a problem in my own perception? What is still worth looking forward to and striving toward?

Anyway, my break is over and I need to head back to work.

[Lightly edited since for punctuation and greater clarification.]

“Terence Mckenna – The 1000 year binge on materialism and primate dominance hierarchies”

Some interesting food for thought…

“Joe Rogan Podcast #310 – Neil deGrasse Tyson (Astrophysicist)” (plus my thoughts)

A discussion between Joe Rogan and Neil deGrasse Tyson filmed in 2013:

Really appreciated that conversation.  clap  Wonderful to see Dr. Tyson able to speak casually at length about everything from popular conspiracy theories to environmental change and the possibility of lifeforms out in the universe.

About 1:40:00 into the podcast, I especially liked how Dr. Tyson hit on the probability of life on Earth originally being seeded by matter introduced from without, namely from Mars which appears to have once been Earth-like. Always wondered about that too, if Mars could’ve seeded our planet.

And I found it very fascinating when they were discussing how the universe seems to make nothing solitary, how everything comes in pairs or more, so when we back up further and further, from multiple universes to multiple multiverses and so on, how that basically trails off into infinity. That’s something else I’ve been pondering a while now, and I tie it in with my understanding of string theory and quantum physics and how perspective seems to be key in how we relate to anything and everything. Like when Dr. Tyson was talking about the clouds and how we commonly observe them versus how much is actually going on within them that we couldn’t historically detect. Obviously I’m a total layperson who’s learned more about “hard” and physical sciences outside of college (aside from a course on zoology and half a semester of physics), but this stuff’s always captivated me on some level so I read and comprehend what I can on these and related subjects. Then I mesh it together with what I’ve learned about biological sciences and then social sciences, the latter being my own emphasis. And I just keep seeing all these patterns, from micro to macro and on back to micro depending on perspective taken, and how these “layers” (for lack of a better term) can appear calm from a distance but appear chaotic up-close and personal. And I swear it divides out in SO many ways, from physicalism (to borrow a term from the book War of the Worldviews: Science vs. Spirituality) on down to human social relations and the intricacies of our psychological and social functioning from within an individual and among them, spanning out to mass group dynamics of most-modern times. So many things that are difficult to measure once you get to the social and psychological end of the spectrum of human life, but also in analyzing animal life and its myriad of social formations and trans-species interworkings. Then on down to pondering the energy vibrations that make up matter.

It’s all rather cool to me. Can’t probably speak intelligibly in depth on these sorts of things, but I dig them and look into them and like to let my imagination roll over the possibilities.

Fractals, yes.

And this is partly why I’ve found space exploration somewhat humorous. I’m with Dr. Tyson on considering it folly to strive to terraform Mars since the amount of energy and technology needed for that could very likely be better used in serving our interests here on Earth. Though I’m not one to concern myself greatly with the continuation of our species. Just sayin’. But for as illuminating as I’ve found space exploration to be, I’ve always wondered if eventually—combined with our research into everything on Earth, including exploring lifeforms in the ocean depths and in Earth’s crust—it will all lead us to realize the “sanctity” of the lives we’ve been “blessed” with. Putting those words in quotations since I know people are sensitive to them, but they come to life when we also take into consideration the role of consciousness and our higher development in that arena. Makes me wonder if this will all someday drive us back to appreciating the basics, recognizing we have this life to live and no guarantees beyond that, but that there is a balance to be reached in some sort of way in order to find some amount of peace, recognizing that though we each are so small and seemingly inconsequential, we really are amazing creatures with so much potential who make living interesting. If nothing else, that’s what we are. Gives me a bit of comfort when I arrive back around to that conclusion periodically.  smile  Can’t explain why exactly — just does.

Maybe more of us will learn to love one another in better ways and to appreciate one another’s humanity and significance. Maybe not, but for those who do, I consider them blessed. We have been bestowed a gift and a curse as human beings, but life is what it is and we don’t get to choose the nature of “objective” reality — we can merely work within it with one another.

Dr. Tyson’s talks always refill me with appreciation for humanity. Not sure exactly why. (Not that I don’t expect us to drive our species over a cliff in due time, but still.) Maybe it’s his infectious way of spreading curiosity and encouraging us to explore for ourselves and to not be limited in doing so. All I know is I genuinely appreciate the man and his insights and the information and ideas he shares.

Also becoming a bit of a fan of Joe Rogan, slowly but steadily. Never much was into the Fear Factor show, but then again, I don’t subscribe to cable and so didn’t see it often. Liked most of what I’ve watched from him online thus far.