10 Rules: How Closed Minds Become Closed Borders

It is my intention to provide my readers with a very valuable and unique service.  I am a voracious reader and it is my special talent to distill complex subjects down to their simplest parts and principles (if indeed such principles exist).  Much of what is written, past and present, is intentionally obfuscated for political purposes or dishonest gain, whether of the material, intellectual, or emotional varieties.  It is designed to misinform or mislead.  Even when the ideas are simply muddle-headed rather than intentionally disingenuous, there is rarely an understanding of where those ideas originated, or historical consequences of their application.   These observations are particularly applicable to political discussions, but are not uncommon in virtually any serious discourse.

I am driven to know what is.  I grew up in an intellectually closed society, as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses.  I left that religious organization in mid-life only to find a whole smorgasbord of other closed societies, whether religious, philosophical, political, or social.  There is a vehemence and even fierceness of advocacy that inhibits civil conversation and betrays intolerance of different life experiences and conclusions.  What is most remarkable about all of these is that either side in any of these debates would passionately agree with my observations herewith stated, but only find them applicable to the attitudes and behavior of those with an opposing viewpoint!

As the polemicists outshout each other in the vain belief that raising the volume of their cranky bombast is the key to recruiting you to the cause or the sale, regard for evidence, logic, scientific method, clarity, and other calm pursuits are left behind like abandoned children.   Defense of our own position usually trumps all other considerations without any awareness whatsoever of the road by which we arrived at our convictions.  My most important takeaway from my own life-altering experience  is that I am the bouncer and doorman to my own mind, and I have sole discretion over what is permitted to enter.  I am the final arbiter of what I accept, because I become what I ingest intellectually.   This is a personal responsibility that I cannot delegate to any other person, institution, or authority. In my opinion, every one of my readers shares this same responsibility for themselves, for the same reasons and with the same rewards. Bitterness and anger about years wasted in misguided belief and defiance of reality are efforts to transfer responsibility for our own past choices onto others, but in every case it was we who negligently invited strangers, in the form of ideas, into our mind unidentified and unchallenged.  Even when we absorb faulty premises in our age of innocence, responsibility to identify and correct these later in life cannot be avoided with impunity.

I frequently include book reviews on this blog, on a broad range of subjects.  All of these book reviews are at least somewhat positive in nature, because I do not waste my readers time on books that are in my opinion without at least some important redeeming values.  I am neither Democrat nor Republican, neither liberal nor conservative, and these days, once you get past the rhetoric, it can be said their distinctions are often without differences.  I have no ideology except the value of the individual human being. Each of us is a minority of one.  Regardless of the comfort we find in each other, there is no collective brain.  Descartes famously said “I think, therefore I am.” What we think determines what we become.

I want to share some rules of the road from my personal experience.

When I was growing up, my parents taught me to eat everything on my plate at meal times.  It was axiomatic that to waste food was wrong, even though our young minds rarely grasped the contradiction in the fact that we didn’t overload the plate with all that food, the grown-ups did.  How could we possibly know that for the rest of our lives other BIG PEOPLE would be filling up our intellectual plates with the impassioned ideas, ephemeral notions, and absolute certainties they insisted we must ingest because it is “good for us.”  As in childhood, we trust the source, the same one we associated with survival itself.

Rule #1 :   The purpose of all propaganda is to become your “trusted source.” Read more..

Everyone, it seems, has the strongest notions of what is best for us, beginning with our immediate families and extending to all the institutions of our culture.  What is accepted and practiced in one generation may be repudiated by future generations.  The philosophy that someone else knows what is best for us is nothing more than delegating to strangers what gets put on our plate.  It makes no difference whether this authority figure or expert comes in the guise of clergy, government, Chairman of the Federal Reserve, media talking heads or television and movie script writers; all of them provide us with generous helpings of their opinions and rules and they expect us to eat it, even if it gives us heartburn.  They do not like to be ignored, and most of them are happy, if given the opportunity, to harness the coercive power of the state to enforce what they know is, if not for our own good, at least for the good of the greatest number.  After all, Daddy knows best.

Everything is based on core premises, and unfortunately these are usually absorbed unconsciously from the Influential People of our childhood and adolescence, parents, teachers, news media, friends, and church.

Rule #2:  At a tender age we are neither equipped nor qualified to evaluate  conceptual content, and we know little or nothing about possible  alternatives. 

Content becomes indelibly associated with the persons and institutions of authority that deliver it.  Because of this early childhood association between content and source, we begin to develop class distinctions based on these associations.  We are more inclined to trust and believe those who dress like we do, worship as we do, get educated where we do, and who earn their living as we do.  At the most mundane level it is often said that the best place for a young man to pick up a date is at a church wedding, because he benefits by association with the joy of the occasion and the trust placed in that institution by its members. A “no” response in a different context might become a “yes” at the wedding.

Rule #3:  As children, content becomes truth when it is delivered by those on whom we depend to survive.

Once imbibed, these childhood-acquired core premises become unchallengeable, eternal truths, the template against which all new information is evaluated.  We quickly learn to block dissonance, any new information that makes us uncomfortable.  As we build the rest of our lives around these core premises, our emotional investment in them becomes such that a challenge to their veracity becomes a challenge to our identity.  There is a crushing need to shut down, shut out, and utterly annihilate such threats, and this need is all the more powerful and insidious because it is experienced subconsciously, as in dis-ease.  We experience anxiety without knowing the cause. 

When you experience something that disturbs you, it may or may not mean it is bad for you.  A bad taste in your mouth may mean a poison mushroom, or it may only mean conflict with the taste of the previous mouthful, in which case you need to cleanse your palate before proceeding.  A mouthful of lemon juice may cure you of scurvy, but it could be intensely unpleasant right after eating a sweet.  Likewise you may have been led to believe that very wise people are looking out for your welfare, and this goes down pleasantly, like a sugar cookie.  You might have had great faith in the honest intentions and competence of Bernie Madoff in handling your life savings, or you may currently be planning an extended retirement on Social Security and Medicare as they currently exist, and it tastes sweet.

Rule #4:  What feels safe and tastes good may be the prelude to the financial equivalent of a diabetic coma.

In every case, we always trusted the source.  The doorman to our mind was sound asleep.  There were red flags about what we believed, but we chose to ignore them.

That’s why I write about labels.  I sit down to lunch with people of all stripes and within minutes I can hear, and feel, the palpable hatred as my temporary companions launch into diatribes about those who think differently than they do.  The emotional intensity and intransigence derives from the speaker’s sense of certainty.  A mere label such as the name of a political party, or particular belief or non-belief excites the passions and invites the derision of the group at the table.  To belong is to share in the laughter.  The opposite is equally true and commonplace; the willingness to blithely accept nonsense if it comes from a trusted source.  We will defend what we have already emotionally invested in.

Rule #5:  It is possible to have a lifetime investment in something that is indefensible by any rational standard.  

How long have we known, and has our government refused to acknowledge, that our Social Security is history’s largest Ponzi scheme ever?

I used to finish reading any book I had started.  Like cleaning my plate at dinner, I felt compelled to finish what I had started.  I don’t always do this anymore.  Life is too short.  I always seek to identify as quickly as possible  authors’ basic premises, and even if I disagree with them, I may continue reading if only because I enjoy the writing style or because an author occasionally drops in a redeeming original thought or new twist on something.  I no longer waste my time filling my mind with garbage, but there is a balance between that and closing one’s mind.  Periodically I have to remind myself to re-evaluate my own core premises to see if they still withstand close scrutiny.  The final questions are always, Who says so? Why?  Based on what?  I am always on the alert for the hidden agenda, the sugar-coated dodge.

If some distinguished authority figure makes claims that appear improbable and  unsubstantiated by the facts as you know them, assuming they know more than you is one possibility.  Another possibility is that they have reasons to be less than truthful on this occasion.

If their explanations more accurately resemble circumlocutions, going round and round in circles and making no particular sense, you could assume that their explanation is too deep for your comprehension, given their special training, or you could also entertain the possibility that their non-answer is because they really don’t have an answer but won’t admit it publicly.

How do you spot obfuscations, disinformation, and hidden agendas?    For starters, unless you’ve taken a serious course in statistics, distrust all statistics.  Most are not scientifically sound and are intentionally manipulated for uninformed public consumption.  I could say there are a thousand ways to do this, but that would not be a scientifically sound statistic.  So we’ll move on.  In commercial matters, follow the money.  In political and institutional matters, follow the power.  Look past the easy answers.  Look past the obvious beneficiaries of a particular group action.  The secondary beneficiary is always the real beneficiary.  The primary beneficiaries receive very diffused benefits.  They are the poster children of the much ballyhooed political action; the orphans, the poor, the children, the unemployed, the elderly, the American middle class, the racial minorities.   The secondary beneficiary receives very consolidated power;  the power to bestow or withhold.   Daddy isn’t interested in your growing up.  Daddy needs you to need him.  Daddy needs to be in control of permissions, punishments and perks.

Rule #6:  If someone is selling invisible clothes, let them run around naked.  

It is better to be underwhelmed by the titles and decorations and positions of power of the so-called experts.  Who even remembers yesteryear’s Nobel prize winners and Treasury Secretaries or Fed Chairmen?  If anyone makes claims that to your mind seem like the Emperor’s invisible clothes, let them wear them.  Plan your personal life and make your financial choices around your own perceptions, not theirs.  They will usually have agendas you will never know about, and disincentives to provide full disclosure or tell the unvarnished truth.  Do they really know better than you how to direct your life?  Most American households’ finances are looking better than the governments, perhaps for no other reason than we can’t print money like the government  does.  We have been acting to correct our balance sheets, to start saving and stop borrowing.  Does that sound like what they have been doing?  Do they care about you, or are they far more concerned about polishing their credentials to the largest blocks of voters?  This goes for anyone who is offering you advice on any subject.  Would you look to the Dalai Lama for guidance on improving your sex life, knowing he is a celibate monk?

In the end it’s the same.  Money is power.  But government is money plus guns.  By guns I mean the police power of the state.  With guns you can seize other people’s money.  If you get enough people behind you, even in a democracy you can decide whose money you will take, and how much of it.  This is REAL power, and this is why groups will spend a billion dollars to secure a position of power that pays only half a million.  The most expensive seats are reserved for those who hold court, who trade in favors and gifts, and who choose the winners and the losers.  These people are not producers; they are looters who talk as if they understand production.

All ideas have a history, and if you follow the thread of an idea back far enough, there are always surprises.  Every opinion, belief, and conviction—indeed every certainty, was arrived at in a certain historical and social context, and made perfect sense to those persons in their place and time, and was almost invariably the partial result of emotional turmoil in the author’s personal life.  In other words, intellectuals, philosophers, clergymen, or brick layers, we are all made of the same dirt.  Ideas all began with real people and every single one of them had problems, issues, and emotional dilemmas.  Some of them were morons.

Rule #7:  Many of the world’s greatest thinkers would be in therapy today.

Ideological sparks at the intersection of the right time and the right population periodically ignited the imagination of masses.   New truths became eternal truths that have often reversed themselves, sometimes over and over again, everyone so preoccupied with the minutiae of their daily routines they fail to notice the intellectual roundabout on which they have traveled for decades or centuries.    The grand ideas  have all come and gone, or splintered and evolved in almost unrecognizable ways, becoming innumerable dogmas and orthodoxies,  and today they make compelling narrative for the history or philosophy buff.  Those who take the time to look more closely are sobered by the awareness that in every time period of history there were those who were willing and eager to kill or enslave those who disagreed with them.    Our current democratic society provides some cultural and legal protections against this, but a basic meanness still often lurks beneath the surface of many human believers.  I hear it in conversations at lunch.

Rule #8:  There’s a troll under many a believer’s bridge.

When belief devoid of thought is extolled as a virtue, doubt becomes suspect, opposing opinions are demonized, dissenters are criminalized, and definitions of the enemy are crystalized.  Hatred is born and mob action is galvanized.  Ascendant mobs become the state. Other groups see opportunities to advance their respective causes by hitchhiking on the coattails of the rising group, with the idea that they will address their important differences after they achieve a more favorable situation in the power structure.   The state attempts to co-opt and harness culturally powerful forces (the most powerful of which is religion) and then moves to consolidate its power by weakening, neutering,  and eliminating competing groups.  There are no enduring loyalties, just the shifting sands of temporarily overlapping interests.

This is why I champion individual rights in my writing.  The individual is the smallest group in the world.  Protect individual rights and you protect the world.  Democracies are the competition and conflict between groups, but history is replete with the horrors perpetrated by one group (even elected ones) on other groups.  Great evil has been done repeatedly in the name of God or in the name of Society.  Even in a so-called free society there is nothing more fear-inspiring than observing an impassioned closed mind reflected in the eyes of another human being, so certain of his ideas in fact, that he will gladly sacrifice your life to prove it.  On their own, they are dangerous and capable of atrocities; organized into groups with their hands on the levers of power (duly elected or not), no one is safe.  Not even the members of their group.  Every group has its purges.

There IS a problem with championing individual rights.  It puts responsibility on the individual.  There is uncertainty, and results are neither equal nor guaranteed.  What is guaranteed is that no group can by itself or backed by the power of the state, make you do or be what you do not believe in.  And you can’t do that to anyone else either.  Not everyone is comfortable with that.

Individual rights are inalienable, meaning you were born with them and do not acquire them by permission from others–no one and no group can morally take them from you, even when those others are infused with certainty about their better idea.   They may seize your property and take your life by force, but they can never do so morally.  Individual rights mean the right to pursue your own life and happiness as your highest values, and you are free to seek and perform work that sustains those values.  This includes buying and selling from whomever you choose, to your own benefit.  Individual rights means essentially the separation of church and state and the separation of economic activity and state.

Individual rights mean the government is there to protect  individual rights of all, and no one is there to serve the government.  Individual rights in practice, of necessity mean small government because there just isn’t that much the government needs to do.  No modern state, including western democracies, will ever pay more than lip service to government based on the sovereignty of the individual because all governments derive their power from the purse, which includes both confiscatory taxation and gross interference with free trade of its citizens.  The power of government is in granting permissions.  That’s where the money is.

Rule #9:  The government’s favorite childhood game is “Mother, May I?”

You can recognize individual rights in action when your government fears to transgress against its citizens.  

Group rights, on the other hand, are acquired by permission from a majority of others in society, and those permissions can be revoked.  The herd sometimes gives little or no notice of intent to stampede.  The primacy of group rights derives from the belief that your highest value as an individual  is not yourself but your contribution to society as a whole.  Individuals can  expect to be sacrificed to the group when the group calls for it. Every single favor demanded of  government by a group always implies a request for the police power of the state to be used against someone else  who doesn’t want to do the group’s  bidding.  Otherwise, if the group could achieve its ends on a voluntary basis, arrived at through negotiation, documented and signed by the parties, why would they need to involve the state?  Groups only need the state to club minority interests into submission.   I use the word minority here in the very literal sense of anyone who does not have sufficient votes to protect their interests. Group rights are the inevitable political legacy of those obsessed with the certainty of their beliefs, so much so that in their minds the ends justify their means.  Sooner or later the means include the confiscation of human life and property by the state–for the benefit of the greater good, of course.  Group rights degrade into group warfare and lead to an indefinitely expanding state, with eventually the state dwarfing all other groups.

Group rights lead to totalitarianism, which is sanctioned and even welcomed by the public in the name of efficiency.  When the cacophony of bitterly opposed groups gets too rancorous and the machinery of the state grinds down, someone with the necessary stage presence steps forward and suggests temporary consolidation of power to get through the political impasse.  We all know the rest of that story.

You can tell group rights in action when citizens fear their government.

So what is my point?  Am I advocating political activism in favor of limited government and individual rights?  Not really.  You can, of course, if you want to.  All I am encouraging is to become aware of what is happening around you, and to be aware of the ideas behind the events.  Keep your finger on the pulse of the politics in your community, your state, your nation.  Be more careful what you believe in, and scrutinize documentation with a critical eye.  In almost every location it is possible to exercise a great deal of personal freedom as long as you don’t make too much fanfare about it.  Love your life, keep your mind open and your passport current, and

Rule #10:   Know where the border is.

Closed minds eventually become closed borders.

 

Why the Federal Reserve Exists

Here we go with the vocabulary thing again.  I promise to make this easier than your last root canal.  The Federal Reserve Bank is a central bank.  Central banks are created to control and manipulate the money supply.  The money supply is the aggregate total of all the money in circulation in an economy.  It is often referred to in the media and the industry as M.  Controlling the money supply frees governments from the responsibility of living within their means.  It makes it possible for them to counterfeit money.  All governments have laws making counterfeiting their currency illegal.  That is because all governments have a monopoly on counterfeiting and do not tolerate competition in the business.

Governments counterfeit money in the exact same way all counterfeiters do; they print it, and slip it into circulation into the economy.  They spend it.  They spend more money than the economy produces because they do not want to live within their means.  They do not want to live within their means because they use money to buy votes.  They give out goodies in return for favors; favors in the form of legislation that promotes the welfare of one group over another group; favors that line their individual pockets, reward their friends, punish their enemies, and above all, favors that get them re-elected.

Other reasons are given, of course, for the existence of the Fed.  But it is axiomatic that all governments seek continual expansion of their powers, and control of the public purse and the power to tax is the Holy Grail for power seekers.  The founding fathers of this country feared government more than anything, and the Constitution they framed was to protect us, not from foreigners, and not from each other, so much as from our elected government itself.  The debates about economic policies are a sideshow and a distraction; the main event is the relentless expansion of executive power and the quiet transfer, not only of wealth, but of personal liberties as well.  Without economic freedom based on individual rights, private property, and the right to keep and dispose of our earnings as we choose, there is no freedom at all. Read more..

Governments, all governments, do not really favor free markets, because in a free market you decide the winners and losers in trade, and the winners are those who produce what you want to buy at prices you are willing to pay.  You vote constantly with your wallet.  Losers go to government and ask them for favors, such as passing trade restrictions on those competitors who are better or smarter or faster than they are at producing what you want.  When legislators grant those favors, they expect favors in return.  This is called cronyism.  Cronyism is a form of corruption. Corruption on a massive scale, such as we see now, is the first sign of internal decay and the beginning of the end of empire.  America is an empire in late stages of such decay.  When trade is made possible primarily by permission, or political pull, resources cease to be allocated efficiently.  Those with get-up-and-go get up and go.  Bottom line:  trade and wealth goes to wherever it finds the most freedom to seek its own advantage.

Governments all prefer a command-and-control economy rather than a market economy.  In a market economy, the decisions are made at the bottom, by the millions of consumers.  The consumer is sovereign.  The consumer is boss.  In a command-and-control economy, the decisions are made at the top.    Who do you think does the commanding and controlling?  You are so very, very smart.  Yes, the politicians do, and the bureaucrats and regulators they appoint.  In a command-and-control economy, the government is sovereign.  Usually the ultimate goal of a command-and-control economy is, well, you guessed it—control.  Of you, the consumer.  To what end?  The accumulation of power and privilege.  To line pockets, enrich the ruling class, and permit the ideologically driven to save the world.  To save you.  Even from yourself.  They know best.

Command-and-control economies prefer big. Big what?  Big Corporations, Big Unions, Big Institutions, Big Media.  Why?  Big is easier to control.  You call in all the bosses of Big and you tell them what to do.  You threaten them with a Big stick.  And you promise them carrots if they deliver.  Then the government lets Big do their job for them.  Big collects the taxes for government, and performs countless other administrative duties free of charge for the government.

If Big Corporations do their bidding, laws are passed, manipulated, or enforced selectively to help Big Corporations succeed over their more able competitors.  When Corporations fail and would otherwise go out of business, government bails them out with taxpayer money.  This rewards Big Corporations for their generous campaign support, and it also rewards Big Unions by keeping their overpriced labor untouched.  In other words, government makes sure that no real solutions are put in place, that nothing substantive is changed, but that the inefficient and ineffective and incompetent are allowed to continue on as before, sustained by the public purse where the public has already rejected them at the cash register. Government grants monopolies to some winners, and it throws up bureaucratic hurdles to newcomers as protection bought by Big Corporations.  It investigates some Big Corporations in order to benefit other Big Corporations.  It extorts money from all business, large and small.  It decides winners and losers. This is called corruption.

All Big Corporations began as small business that began with drive and new ideas.  They flourished and grew and became Big.  Then they seek to keep other small businesses from competing with them.  They do this by going to government for protection.  The free market cannot be trusted.  Consumers might decide to buy the newer, better idea.  So government doesn’t want to kill small business, but it would prefer to decide which small businesses get to join the Big country club.

Big Unions are expected to tell their memberships how to vote, and to turn out massive campaign support when it is needed. In return, Big Unions get legislation passed that makes it easier for them to organize people into unions who don’t really want to be in a union.  Big Unions get favorable treatment by government agencies that control labor and management disputes.  Big Unions in turn can control or influence which Big Corporations get Government contracts. This is called corruption.

Big Media is rewarded with inside information, direct access to important people, scoops that improve ratings, and higher ratings bring in higher advertising revenues. Big Media can also be rewarded by legislation that tends to bring the Internet, or the power of millions, under closer government control.  Big Media is the propaganda arm of government, and the primary purveyor and amplifier of bad philosophy from the Humanities departments of our mainstream universities. 

Hiding in those hallowed halls are generations of resentful and envious intellectuals who yearn for a return to the Old European model of society where the bespectacled and leather-elbowed writers and philosophers garner the same reverence as the greedy money grubbers, the shop keepers, the retailers, the industrialists.  These intellectuals resent having only the same vote as the ordinary, unscrubbed mechanic or factory worker who could not possibly recognize or appreciate the superior intrinsic value of the intellectual author whose books gather dust in the publishers’ warehouses while trashy romance novels make their authors wealthy. They pride themselves on their spiritual elitism.  According to them, the only useful social purpose for the materialistic captains of industry is to create wealth that can be transferred (plundered) by those who court government’s favor.  The universities (Big Institutions) have cranked out generations of teachers, artists, writers, philosophers, and intellectuals wholly indoctrinated in a bias of anti-capitalism, which is nothing more than our unfettered freedom to trade as we please, with whom we please, each of us seeking our own interests.  As George Orwell said once, some ideas are so preposterous only an intellectual could believe them.

Part of Big Media’s role in assisting government is to confuse language, to expropriate legitimate terms and concepts and then skillfully change their usage to mean the exact opposite of the original definition.  Through the skillful use of propaganda, society has been revolutionized without firing a shot.  The Revolution is over, and we didn’t even notice there was one.  For the record, we lost.  Sometime during the night our servants became our Masters.  Free enterprise has become a euphemism for trade by permission.

Big Institutions obtain subsidies and grants that keep them in existence, even when no one really knows anymore why they should exist.  Because if they were truly necessary, surely the free market consisting of the rest of us, would support them as being in our own best interests.  Government subsidizes and controls what we would not pay for, precisely because we would not pay for it.  The government doesn’t think we know enough, that we are not sophisticated enough, to make those choices.  Government will spend our money for us.  And many times government doesn’t really care about whether something is a good choice or not; they simply have friends to reward and favors to repay.  This is called corruption.

Public education is a gigantic institution, funded by tax dollars, and mandatory.  Even if you have no children, you are going to pay taxes to support it.  Government controls the unions that control the teachers; therefore government controls the indoctrination and world view of our children.  It is also by means of this monopoly on education that toxic ideas are spread throughout the culture.  Government controls, and everything, every meaningful transaction, is subjected to influence and infinite subtle forms of bribery. This is called corruption.

When poor decisions happen, Big has a meeting:  Big Government, Big Corporations, Big Media, Big Institutions, Big Unions, and they decide who will be blamed, and who the winners and who the losers will be.  All solutions will of course include a further expansion of government influence, power, and intrusion into the marketplace.  The marketplace, folks, is a euphemism for us.

How does government do all this; how does government get all this past us, the voters?  The first rule of thumb is the artful use of propaganda.  Regardless of the controversy, it is better to unify everything into one common enemy, one Devil.  For Hitler, it was the Jews.  In our nation, it is business, always portrayed as greed personified.  Except in certain useful instances, it is not necessary to get too specific.  It is not necessary to label any business in particular, but rather to attack an amorphous, gray, ambiguous entity such as greed and business in general.  You see, government has a love/hate relationship with business.  The government wants control of business, but it doesn’t want business to go out of business, at least not most of them.  If business goes away, there is nothing to plunder, nothing to expropriate, to tax or seize.  Occasionally some Big Corporation, very often in bed with government, is caught in some behavior so outrageous that it causes a public outcry, and then of course there needs to be a “public hanging” to satisfy the mob.  And those members of government that were involved backpeddle as quickly as possible so as not to be fatally associated with the errant business entity.  If you think I am exaggerating the extent to which the elites of our culture endorse an anti-business animus, ask yourself, when a businessman plays a significant character in the movies, how does Hollywood typically cast his character?  And when events conspire to reveal corporate excesses, such as in our present time when so many on Wall St. were taking hundreds of millions of dollars in bonuses even as they squandered other people’s fortunes, how much exposure is given by Big Media and Big Institutions to the complicity of government in such shenanigans?  Barely a word.  Were it not for the Internet, how many of us would know the rest of the story??

Then there is divide and conquer. Encourage group thinking, and then pit one group against another group, and let human nature take over.  This is where the R word has been so effective:  disagree with proposed legislation and you are labeled as racist.  Government-sponsored racism is everywhere, and for a very good reason.  Divide and conquer.  Pit every man against every other man.  And then play the paternal role of Benevolent Referee.  The government is here to help!

Maximize the formula of concentrated benefits, dispersed cost. Those voters who stand to gain the most will work hardest to get a law passed; and the cost will be dispersed over a much larger group.  If a given piece of legislation will provide a benefit of $10 to Group A, but will cost everyone else only 1/100 of a cent, no one blinks and lets it pass. Government promotes  democracy, which is nothing grander than gang warfare, and weakens the Constitution which champions individual rights (the smallest group, and obviously the only group without a lobbyist to buy protection for it), the only real rights that cannot morally be voted away by any majority. 

And finally, the ultimate government weapon:  culturally imposed altruism.  By “culturally imposed” I mean simply the prevailing philosophy in the culture.  Frame all legislation in terms of the right and moral thing to do for Group A, and call anyone who disagrees selfish.  In a culture that has been brainwashed for over a hundred years that our only purpose in living is to live for others, and not for ourselves, bring up the S word and all opposition runs for cover! 

Government utilizes the Big Media and Big Institutions (major universities very beholden to government for subsidy) to promote the idea that government has access to a very special kind of human being:  this phenomenon is smarter, better educated, and more intellectually agile than the people and businesses and institutions s/he controls and regulates.  This special form of human being is likewise wiser, more prescient, more inclined to take a long term view, and look out for your welfare better than anyone else.    And most important of all, this special human being is not selfish!  This special person is a paragon of virtue, incorruptible, devoid of ambition, immune to lust for power, sex, or money.  This special form of human being is here for you, and will always treat you like a customer, with respect, deference, and competence, because they know you have choices.  You could go elsewhere.  Who is this special form of human being?  Why, your government worker, your government bureaucrat, your friendly regulator.  And who do these enlightened human beings report to?  Why your elected officials, of course.  Thanks to bad philosophy in our universities and culture, government is granted a pervasive and benevolent benefit of a doubt; it is here to protect us, to look out for us.  Protect us from whom, from what?  From those avaricious, for-profit people.  Because they are selfish. 

Government is altruism at its finest.  Are they not committed to taking from those who produce, to distribute to those who do not?  How very Robin Hood-ish.  How very unselfish.  So now we have millions lined up outside Sherwood Forest, waiting for Robin Hood to show up.  No one wants to work in the fields any more; Robin Hood is taking from that wicked Sheriff of Nottingham, and is going to redistribute it to the rest of us.  All we have to do is wait in line.  Of course, in the fable, the Sheriff got rich by taking loot from others too, just like Robin Hood does.  What no one told us is that in Part II of the fable, Robin Hood becomes the next Sheriff of Nottingham.  He got to liking being in control of the transfer of wealth.

In our world of free trade, the rich are despoiled because they created wealth, not stole it.  We punish some for their virtues of innovation, industry, and thrift, and we reward others for their indolence and sloth.  Everyone except the producers gets something for nothing.  It is their right!  This is the Age of Entitlement.  Our Founding Fathers began this nation with a legacy from the Age of Enlightenment.  This is ideological corruption.

Now your elected officials at the federal level pass about 600-700 laws each session of Congress.  Do you really think your lawmakers read all that stuff?  If they did, they’d have no time to prepare for their next election campaign, which begins approximately 60 days after their last election.  There are hands to shake, babies to kiss, speeches to give, fundraisers to attend.  The business of democracy must go on!

So who do you think tells your lawmakers how to vote on all this legislation?  Their support staff and bureaucrats, that’s who.  And of course the phone calls from vested interests calling in their chips.  It’s payday, boys.  Here’s a little verbiage we want you to sneak into that Bill; here’s how we want you to vote.

Because government operates under the mantra of altruism, or unselfishness, and government officials pride themselves on the fact that they are not tainted by the dirty profit word, doublespeak and obfuscation become a professional responsibility.  Unions can never be painted as a business within a business with profit incentives, with its own leadership and management infrastructure, with their own “corporate” ambitions and perks;  unions can never be painted as what they frequently are, as paid thugs and shake-down artists that will rely on misrepresentation and lying; a protection racket that uses physical violence and intimidation when necessary to increase the all-important paying membership.  No, unions need to be portrayed as the unselfish champion of the common man, Joe SixPack, who is powerless to fight for his rights against the Leviathan of Big Business.  Little does Joe SixPack know that Big Union and Big Corporation have already cut a deal in the back room.

Teacher’s unions need to be portrayed as protecting the rights of the most underpaid professional class in America.  But who is going to champion the rights of the ones really without representation, the kids of our country who are graduating without a basic mastery of reading, writing, and the English language?  Ah, but take a stand against the all-powerful teachers unions, and you will be accused of throwing our education system to the wolves.  Our children are the real customers here, but let us not forget that when it comes to education, this is not market driven.  God forbid, put our children’s education in the hands of profit-seekers??!!  Why, some parents would selfishly want to put their children in the schools where they would get the best academic education (like our unselfish politicians??), instead of our centrally controlled and socially approved model of distribution!

Laws are enforced against businesses in order to protect the consumer from decisions he has already made!  He is not purchasing the higher priced union-manufactured product, and instead selfishly went for a cheaper, better quality product!  He doesn’t trust a certain bank because of foolish investment decisions it made, and therefore withdrew his money from that bank, causing it to become illiquid, but that bank needs to be saved where the market would have let it die twisting in the wind.  The bank will be propped up, and the government will protect it with guarantees, and it will protect the consumer from any of the banks future bad judgments by guaranteeing their deposits. So bankers can continue to take huge risks and consumers can be careless who they bank with.

The government is also busy looking out for the interests of all the displaced workers who are laid off, victims of downsizing by the brutal free market.  It therefore incurs a moral hazard in the form of those who are in no hurry to find replacement work, or get retrained in different vocations that are more in demand.  Since they cannot collect unemployment and work at smaller jobs in the meantime, the government creates a black market of under-the-table workers who pay no taxes.  My God, self-interest seems to be everywhere!  But please don’t think that self-interest has anything to do with politicians being concerned about the unemployed vote.  Our politicians are above self-interest.  They are here to serve their fellow man.  They are altruists.

Now assume for a moment, for the sake of argument, that our fearless leaders are far, far less than what they pretend to be; assume for the moment that their primary concern is not our welfare, but the perpetuation of the jobs and privilege paid by us, and assume for the moment that our servants have become our Masters.  And assume (correctly) that they print money when they want to spend more.  And assume that they use the vehicle of the Federal Reserve to make all this possible.  So what?  Didn’t we all enjoy our stimulus payments?  Did any one write their Congressman objecting and returning the check?  So what’s the problem?

Here’s the problem:  Our currency is the dollar.  The dollar works for us as currency only because we all accept it and are willing to use it.  No kidding.  It isn’t backed by anything.  Nothing.  Except your willingness to use it.  Savor that thought for a moment.

There is this thing called Supply and Demand.  When these two forces are more or less equal, prices are stable.  Every commodity in the world is subject to supply and demand.  This includes money, which is a commodity.   Anything bought and sold is subject to the Law of Supply and Demand.  If Supply of anything remains the same, but demand for it grows, the price goes up.  And vice versa.  The price is a symbol of the value of the item in demand.  When the price goes up, it means your unit of one dollar can buy less of the item.  Now get this:  we usually think of price as being attached to the item bought and sold, but the price is really a statement about your dollar:  a low “price” means your dollar buys more; a high “price” means your dollar buys less.  Makes sense so far, right?  Now suppose you have two widgets for sale in a room, and there is $10 available for those two widgets.  Your price per widget is going to be $5 each.  Now suppose we introduce another $30 into the room, for a total of $40 available for those two widgets.  The price is going to rise now to $20 per widget.  Did we get more value for our money?  No, we still only have two widgets.  So what changed?  The purchasing power of the dollar as the unit of exchange.  This is what happens when you print money.  It doesn’t matter who is doing the printing:  the Treasury or illegal counterfeiters.  When you introduce more money into the room (the economy) the purchasing power of your dollar goes down.  In the example above, your cost per widget went from $5 to $20, or an increase of 400%.  That’s called inflation. Were more widgets manufactured?  No.  The supply remained the same.  The purchasing power of your dollar went down.  You are now poorer.  It takes more dollars to buy the same thing. 

Not everyone gets hurt the same.  It takes a while for the new counterfeit money to work it’s way around the room, and it takes a while before the Seller of the widget realizes there’s more demand (in the form of more dollars) for his widgets.  It takes a while for the price of his widgets to move up.  The first people to use the new counterfeit money feel little impact; the purchasing power of the dollar hasn’t changed yet.  The ones who get hurt the most are those who saved a lot of dollars under their mattress, in their 401k, or anyone on a fixed income.  When they finally get around to spending their dollars, they are going to discover that the price of a widget went from $5 to $20.  Their dollars don’t go nearly as far as they used to.  This is how governments print money to steal from their savers.  It is a sneaky way of impoverishing your citizens, stealing their wealth and savings, and for the government at least, the best part is no one notices for a long time, no one understands that the government was the root cause, and therefore it doesn’t get voters riled up the way, say, higher taxes would.

Now let me emphasize one more time:  were more widgets manufactured in this example?  No.  Was the room (the economy) producing more?  No!  All that changed was that more money was introduced into the room.  Could you say that this economy was growing?  No!!  When you brought more money (counterfeit) into the room, did everyone feel richer? Yes, for a very short while.  But the new money was an illusion, and as soon as it worked its way into full circulation, everyone got poorer, because there was more money chasing the same two widgets for sale.  It just took more dollars to buy the same stuff.  This is like a great, global shell game.  Someone got cheated.  Can you figure out who?

The trickster, the one who controls the shell game, is the Federal Reserve.  And it serves its political Masters, for their political ends. 

Now, my fellow neophyte economists, can you guess what’s coming?  It’s a Category V tropical storm way out in the Atlantic, thousands of miles away.  It is ugly, ominous, foreboding, and its immediate direction is undetermined.  Once it moves there will be little time to prepare, and it will be vicious and destructive.  It’s target??  The dollar.  Trillions of fiat (counterfeit) dollars are being printed and introduced into the economy.  We are in uncharted financial territory.  What will happen when the impact of that new money is finally felt in the system?  Have you figured out what will have to happen to the dollar?  Production is stagnant and the money supply has been wildly inflated with printed money.  Can you connect those dots now?

Have you noticed the experts puzzled because after pumping this vast sum of newly printed money into our economy, everyone should feel better off, but doesn’t?  Have you noticed that the economy is supposedly improving, but production is not?  Do you remember what happened when you still only had two widgets in the room, but a lot more dollars introduced into the room to chase those two widgets?

The world has never seen a storm like this one.  It could bring a decaying empire to its knees; it could drastically lower the standard of living of the world’s greatest consumer nation; it could destabilize our social institutions; it could foster riots in the streets; it could induce our terrified citizens to quickly grant emergency powers to our government to restore order.  Would we ever find our way back to what we were?  Highly unlikely.  The problem is not the Chinese.  The problem is the weakness within; a viral infection of bad philosophy and bad ideas, ideas with consequences, ideas intended to dumb us down, curb our individualism, and foster the creation of an all-powerful nanny State that directs and controls all of our economic activity.  Who could possibly prefer such a government?  Some who feel safer in the middle of the herd; even if the herd is running over the edge of a cliff, they don’t seem to mind too much, as long as they’re in lots of company.  And the others, the really dangerous ones, are the ones who seek the power over the herd.   Greed and moral decay  turned us from a nation of Yankee ingenuity into a zombie State of  Welfare entitlements and Hollywood circuses.  And like the Roman Empire, our military legions are scattered worldwide trying to keep the barbarians from the gate.

It has been said that a people get the government they deserve.  It is easy for us to point the finger at some greedy business leaders,  incompetent bureaucrats, or power hungry politicians.  But weren’t we all glad to get something for nothing?  Weren’t we glad to be able to buy houses we couldn’t afford, with mortgages we never intended to pay (because we thought we knew we could sell the house quickly at an even more inflated price and walk away with quick money)?  And when the government promises free health care, or improved benefits, doesn’t that tickle our ears?  Who pays for this?  We benefit, someone else pays.  That works for us, right?  And when our government tells us they have figured out a way to pay for all this without going into even more debt, even though that same government already has about $67 trillion in existing unfunded liabilities and a 100% failure rate at living within its means we still believe them, right?  Why?  Because we want to believe them.  Because what’s wrong with a little something for nothing?  Do you hear anyone challenging universal health care on moral grounds?  Yes, I do know of such people.  For a powerful expose of the moral issues involved, go to  David Kelley‘s article Is There a Right to Healthcare? at http://www.atlassociety.org/showcontent.aspx?ct=14&h=53  For a courageous response to the question of why is healthcare different from other commodities essential to survival, such as, say, food, go to Bradley Doucet’s article here http://www.atlassociety.org/cth-43-2212-WOE-HealthFreedom.aspx.  Should the government take over the bakeries, and the distribution of bread, produce, and other food items essential to survival?  And finally, for an in-depth evaluation of both moral and practical issues, read an article by Clifford Asness, Health Care Mythology, at his website http://www.stumblingontruth.com/

We can debate practical aspects of any given issue till the cows come home, but in doing so we are missing the point.  Any time something is offered for nothing by a government, someone is being enslaved.  As novelist and philosopher Ayn Rand said once, free milk makes a slave of the milk man.  Any time something is offered for nothing by a government, the reach and power of that government is being expanded.  We are all so accustomed to our entitlements that we have forgotten to ask the really important questions.  Has it occurred to us that the redistribution of wealth and resources is only one part of the issue, the least important one, and that it masks a concerted and determined effort by some to totally change our form of government and increase and extend executive power and privilege into every nook and cranny of our lives?  We are a nation and a people that has lost its way because we have unwittingly bought into bad ideas and bad philosophy smuggled into our culture without our awareness.  The smugglers knew exactly what they were doing; we did not.  It’s time to wake up.  Not to change the world, but to change our individual lives.  If you are one of the ardent souls who has read this blog this far, then you will also want to read a truly excellent article documenting what I have written in this paragraph.  The article is called The Revolution Was, by Garet Garrett, written in 1938.  You can read it at http://www.rooseveltmyth.com/docs/The_Revolution_Was.html

All governments have an insatiable desire for more power.  That power is only possible by seizing control of economic activity within the country or empire.  Such governments achieve their control of the purse strings, and proceed to further enrich themselves by plundering their own citizens, and when there is nothing left to expropriate, they ration whatever is left of the nation’s wealth.  Governments do not produce wealth; they only plunder and ration.  Governments choose the winners and the losers.  Central banks, of which the Federal Reserve is the foremost example, are the tool governments use to manipulate the supply of money in the economy, increasing governments wealth by devaluing their own currencies.  Continued unabated, it spells the end of the middle class, the end of empire.  The only wealthy left standing are those handpicked by government.  After 300 years of capitalism, we are back full circle to Kings and serfs.  The barbarians weren’t the problem after all.  We did it to ourselves.

 

SOMETHING FOR NOTHING

I have decided that we humans are fundamentally lazy, that is, we travel with the herd and we will do what we have to for our own survival, but for the most part we will ride on the efforts of others as much as possible.  It is best and safest to be in the middle of the herd, for those who travel on the periphery are far more likely to be picked off by predators or somehow get separated from the herd, to their destruction.  Basically, all we want is what the members of any herd want, the freedom and safety to graze and reproduce.  Now what, exactly, does this have to do with financial literacy?  Everything, dear Reader, everything.  Read more..

Literacy requires effort, mostly mental effort, and time spent reading and thinking and conceptualizing and comparing new knowledge with old knowledge, accepting some, discarding others, and continually challenging the orthodoxy of the day.  Orthodoxy is what is generally accepted by the herd, and to challenge that orthodoxy is to place ourselves at the fringe of the herd, to be viewed with suspicion, or even to be shunned.  This would mean willingly placing ourselves in a minority of our own choosing, the minority of independent thinkers. 

 I am not speaking of pseudo-free thinkers:  those individuals who seek to differentiate themselves, not  by real thinking, but by faking its supposed trappings, meaning strange dress, odd behavior, loaded language, secret meetings, or anything that will draw attention to themselves as being fringe for the sake of being fringe.  These people are also lazy, seeking to acquire the image of independent thinking without the mental effort of achieving the reality.  They are fakes.  The most obvious example of these folks are the young, who will blindly take to the streets with little information and bold slogans to demonstrate against the status quo.  These are the same people who will adopt the dress and mannerisms of their pop idols and who in their own way become the greatest conformists of all.  For them, to be, is to be AGAINST something.  And the definition of courage is to find something worth dying for, because at that point in their life they haven’t found anything yet worth living for.  They are AGAINST whatever IS, at the moment.  As opposed to conservatives, who are against any CHANGE of what IS, at the moment.  None of this is critical, or independent thinking.  It is all nonsense and herd mentality.  But the herd exists, and it behaves as it must, as a herd.

 I grew up as a Jehovah’s Witness, the same as the family of the recently deceased Michael Jackson.  There was a lot of good in how I grew up, including a respect for hard work and honesty.  Honesty in some things, deception in other things.  We believed in material honesty, in not cheating or defrauding others.  That honesty did not extend to matters of the mind.  That’s where the fraud began.  One of the first hallmarks of intellectual dishonesty is to label anything that differs from our own beliefs, and to use those labels as a substitute for thinking, as a shortcut around thinking.  Instead of critically evaluating, you simply label a thing and that absolves you from the effort of genuine, honest, open thought.  There was danger in free thinking; one might be seduced by differing ideas.  The belief system must be defended at all costs.  The most efficacious way to achieve this goal is to constantly warn of the dire consequences of opening the lid to Pandora’s box by even a crack, and allowing the seeds of doubt to enter our minds.  To facilitate control of the herd, access to outside, or conflicting information needs to be closed off.  It is absolutely necessary to gain control of what information gets through to the herd.  If truth was what mattered, truth being loosely defined as reality, what IS, there would be no danger from the herd having full access to any information out there.  But truth is not what matters, belief is what matters, and therefore every power broker in the history of mankind has sought control of what information becomes available to the herd.  The politician, dictator, guru, ayatollah, or leadership insists on becoming the only acceptable channel, or conduit, of new information.  The minds of the herd need to be forcibly protected by  seizing or controlling the media.  All news is filtered and given the proper “slant”.  The editing of information and news may be subtly nuanced or flagrantly propagandistic.    Success is finally achieved when the herd polices itself, and takes over the job on behalf of the State, the organization, the enterprise.  Belief has finally taken on a life of its own and requires no further rational defense.  Belief now substitutes for thinking.  Everyone can now get on with the serious business of grazing and reproducing.

 I knew growing up as a Jehovah’s Witness that we were often labeled as a cult, and I used to wonder what that really meant.  In time I learned that it was an elusive term that seemed to take on a different connotation in every different context.  Ultimately it meant any belief system inspiring intense devotion, and that was outside the herd thinking, i.e. outside the orthodoxy of the time and location.  Cults often seemed to attract people who were lost souls to begin with, the disenfranchised, those without purpose or direction, those looking for someone to tell them what to do next with their life, or to tell them what to believe.  Many of these people had no idea what they believed, they simply sought an unearned elitism of being AGAINST something.  They identied their Devil before they acquired their God. Intellectually, they wanted something for nothing.  They were not really independent thinkers, but seeking a new herd with which to identify themselves.  They are more like the very young offspring of a species who become imprinted after prematurely losing their real parent, and who then are brought into close contact with a representative of another species and adopt that one as their lost parent.  This produces charming absurdities, as we see a duckling adopting a cat as its parent and following it dutifully. Humans who get separated from the main herd are vulnerable to becoming imprinted by any stray subgroup or guru that happens along, and strongly identifying themselves with that new group.  They develop a new, and possibly absurd, new identity.

 Jehovah’s Witnesses were no different from anyone else, but they certainly had no corner on the market of intellectual dishonesty, or trying to control the flow of information to their followers.  We knew who the enemy was:  it was the other churches, first and foremost the churches of Christendom, and extended from there to  the full range of all the Moslem and eastern religions of the world.  It became necessary to learn the weaknesses of the competiton, but to assure that the membership of the herd was not influenced by the competition.  Therefore, all higher education, meaning college education, was strongly discouraged.  Our youth were encouraged to find blue collar jobs and vocational school training.  If the children of church elders went to a college, it placed the position of the elder in jeopardy.  Who knows what contaminated ideas the young and impressionable might be exposed to at the altars of higher learning?  The Humanities departments of our universities were the breeding grounds of wrong ideas, and were therefore the enemy.  As in all herds, access to ideas had to be carefully controlled.  The irony of all this is that thought control, or political correctness, is nowhere more prevalent than on the university campuses purportedly dedicated to open inquiry.  Hence the professor who achieves tenure as protection from coercive practices of the school administration, and who then introduces punitive actions towards students who do not subscribe to his own version of orthodoxy.  Each minority, when the tables are turned, proceeds immediately to a repetition of the behaviors of the preceding majority.

 In time I lived at the headquarters of the church and was able to observe the workings of the organization at the very top.  It was disillusioning.  I did not see evil as I would define it.  I saw victims of victims.  I saw closed minds and the power of belief.  I saw true herd mentality, circular logic, propaganda, power struggles, and sex.  I saw the masses happy to be told what to do, what to believe, and how to behave.  I saw the viciousness towards any who broke from the herd; I saw the pack turn on them with a ferocity never quite directed towards those who had never belonged to the herd to begin with.  I saw the confusion of the herd when they occasionally perceived glimpses of internal power struggles and ideological conflict.  It was necessary for the herd to believe all was harmony, that there was still a final authority, and that God forbid, no one had to do any thinking of their own.  Everyone wanted something for nothing.

 When we would go from door to door, canvassing for new converts, I was amazed at finding the same phenomenon everywhere.  Someone would say, as a defense to engaging us in unnecessary or prolonged conversation, that they were sorry, they were not interested, because they were, say for instance, . . . Catholic.  I would ask them what it meant to them to be a Catholic.  I never once, in years of proselytizing received an intelligible answer to my sincere question.  As a matter of fact, the question was usually received as an absurdity, as if it was unaskable and unanswerable.  No one knew why they were a Catholic, instead of, say, a Methodist or Presbyterian, or God forbid, a Buddhist or Hindu.  They just were what they were.  It was unchallengeable, unassailable, and accepted as axiomatic, something that required no defense or thought.  Belief had become a short cut for thinking.  Something for nothing.  No mental effort required.

 Belief in God was accepted without thinking; belief in the Bible was accepted without the necessity of reading it; belief in the Koran was accepted without the necessity, not only of reading it, but of reading anything at all; belief in Communism and the triumph of the proletariat was defended and died for, without  ever reading its Manifesto; belief in economic Central Planning was accepted without any comprehension of money, production, the creation and preservation of wealth; belief in every boondoggle imaginable was accepted by virtue of its constant repetition in the media, as if anything that received enough Twitters could turn nothing into something.  The billions of parents of the world sent their own children into the furnaces of armed conflict to die for causes they never understood, but accepted and believed because they had heard the holy mantras repeated so often they must be true.  Slogans were substituted for thinking.

 Now let’s get back to financial literacy and the purpose of this blog.  Why do I write, dear Reader?  Because I have unanswered questions, and you should too, if you do any thinking at all.  And the answers matter.  In the last ten years hundreds of thousands became millionaires on paper, only to lose it and become paupers.  What was going on?  Was it the failure of capitalism, or the forceful intervention of governments into free enterprise?  Is the solution more intervention of governments, or a return to free enterprise?   What is capitalism anyway?    What are inflation and deflation?  They say we should buy gold.  Should we?  If we do, what do we do with it?  It won’t earn interest in our closet.  Who do we sell it to if paper money becomes worthless?  Will we be able to buy a loaf of bread with a bar of gold?  If the government wants our gold, what is to prevent them from knocking on our door and confiscating it?  If they do that, what recourse do we have?  They have the guns and we don’t.  What about the national debt?  They say we are mortgaging the futures of our children.  What does that mean, anyway?  Are our children all going to get an invoice in the mail, like a credit card bill, but from the government, saying they will have to make onerous monthly payments to Uncle Sam?  And if not, exactly HOW are our children saddled with our debt?  This doesn’t seem real, and so we don’t really care about it, and why should we?  None of us want to become accountants or economists, and how much do we really need to know?  Why isn’t it enough to just believe?  Like being a Catholic or a Democrat or a Scientologist or a Kenynesian or a Liberal or a Libertarian?  Why can’t we just accept a label of our choosing and go on grazing and reproducing, which is all we really want to do?

 When I was a Jehovah’s Witnesses, the herd organized lots of meetings, assemblies, conventions.  We were often regaled with lengthy dissertations so dense and obscure that no one really had any idea what had just been said.  Happily, however, it never occurred to us that the obscurantism was intentional obfuscation; that the problem was not our failure to comprehend, but that the message was incomprehensible.  After such a program, we often said to each other, in discussing the recent content, how intellectually “deep” it was.  Little did we realize that we had long ago given up the sovereignty of our own minds, and now accepted any imposter’s substitute.  Now I listen to the same intellectual sleight-of-hand in the form of endless economic and political sermonettes disseminated on the 6 o-clock news as divine truths, using jargon and slogans that gain credibility with their endless repetition.

 I have already been accused on this blog site of writing too many words.  Can’t I reduce concepts to Twitter-size feeds, or sound bytes, that tell us what to do and what to believe?  And actually, as a card-carrying member of my herd, I really don’t want to be disturbed with new information, or the introduction of conflict and mental discomfort into my carefully fabricated perception of reality.  As a philosopher said long ago, I have never seen a subjugated people that didn’t deserve it.  As I would say, if we have not the will to impose our own terms on life, we must be prepared to accept the terms life imposes on us.  And when that happens, we will have no comprehension of how we got there, but will we really care, as long as we can go on grazing and reproducing?

 Why can’t we have something for nothing?

As always, thank you for stopping in.  Leave a comment if you wish, and come again.  John Bechtel

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