February 26, 2020

Capitalism's Bogus Business Model



No one earns billions of dollars. You have to steal that kind of money. 


There is nothing to admire in the money hoarding, cheating ways of the billionaires.

They want us to believe that their business model is based on their hard work. They want us to believe that they are richer than us, because they are better and smarter than us. 

Their story claims that they are "self-made". 

Their story is false - they have stolen their wealth using capitalism's bogus business model.


Capitalism's Bogus Business Model


- exploit workers, crush unions, don't pay a living wage, gig economy

- never acknowledge responsibility, or pay for, environmental damage

- avoid and evade taxes

- push for more government subsidies and bailouts

- privatize profits, publicize losses

- employ shady accounting practices

- use corruption, lies, coverups and cheats 

- sell junk/planned obsolescence

- debut constant upgrades 

- spend $1 trillion/yr on mind and behaviour altering advertising and propaganda


We have all been the victims of the billionaire's bogus business model, which is premised on endless growth, based on infinite resource extraction from a finite planet. We can now see that model has lead us to the brink of collapse.

As hard as it may be, we need to end this parasitic relationship.

You may feel that what is happening in the world of business is not right. Trust that you are correct in feeling this way. There is nothing right about the billionaires.

It is important for us to ground ourselves in our own reality, and have a support network that allows us to join together to cooperatively figure things out. They want us atomized and weak, so joining together in solidarity is the obvious response. 

We are pleased that this a place where that can happen. It wouldn't be possible without you, and we are grateful for your participation in this project.

It is more effective to light the candle of truth, than to curse the darkness of the billionaires plan for us. 





"Anyone who cheers for any billionaire to win anything is a pathetic bootlicking loser. Billionaires are worthless, parasitical, untalented, unnecessary middlemen. 
“Philanthropy” is just another billionaire narrative control tool, same as buying media outlets and funding think tanks. 
Build a library named after yourself and you’ve got this “philanthropist” label that pundits use so that people call you that instead of “parasitic sociopath”. 
If wealth had anything to do with hard work, single moms would be the billionaires."
- Caitlin Johnstone 

February 24, 2020

Late Retirement


2026 - a shocking number.

It was the early 80s, and I was looking at one of the most memorable numbers, and moments, of my life. Sitting at a desk in my first permanent full time job, I  had just opened a letter from head office. 

Blah, blah, blah, probation over, blah, blah. Then, there it was - my suggested late retirement date - 2026.

I was overcome by SADLOL (sitting at desk laughing out loud).

The letter was like a punch in the gut to my 20-something rebellious sensibilities. I had never before bothered to figure out my official retirement date because it was soooooooo faaaar in the future. 

So far. So very far.

It seemed silly to think that I could predict what life would be like so far in the foggy future, but what I really could not wrap my still developing brain around, was the enormity of spending the next several decades of my life honing a daily grind.

I was hit by a fight/flight/fright reaction. I had a strong urge to flee while I still could.

Contrary to the company's advice, I did not file that letter for future reference. 

Instead, I began to draft my own way, which has turned into a decades long dedication to living as simply as possible so I could be as free as possible as soon as possible.

I started the final move toward avoiding late retirement, and early death, when in 2000 I took a leave of absence from my teaching position. After a year abroad (we wanted to take advantage of the fact that Linda could still walk at the time), we came home and made it permanent. 

I resigned from my full time teaching contract, which meant I was able to take on a wide variety of interesting jobs ranging from chauffeur to environmental educator at a city waste water treatment plant, to groundskeeping. 

The thing they all had in common was that they were not permanent full time, something I always found rather onerous. I prefer seasonal and contract work. In this way it is possible to work as much or as little as needed. 

If I had to work, I wanted to work at jobs that didn't interfere with my primary interests, which did not include "normal" things like having a career, becoming wealthy, or having lots of stuff.

By 2010, sixteen years earlier than my official system sanctioned date, I retired from paid work. That allowed me to be at home caring for Linda, something we both like a lot.

Financial projections we have done indicate that we will be fine in the long run... as long as we continue not buying anything we don't need.

I am still shocked at that number: 2026. 

Except now, rather than being befuddled by how far in the future it is, I am gobsmacked by how soon it will be here.

Life is short. Don't wait. Simplify now.




February 23, 2020

Changing China's Comrades to Consumers




Is Chinese consumerism like Chinese democracy - a seemingly unachievable dream? The capitalist hordes hope not.

Traditionally the Chinese have been savers, and when they do open the qiánbāo, they do so to spend on assets like education and health rather than acquiring things they don't need (they will have to learn that). 

Will the culture that gifted the world with paper, printing, the compass, postal system and so much more, accept our return gift of conspicuous consumption and gross wealth inequality? 

To me, the Chinese are too smart for consumerism. If anyone can fend off the alluring attack of the invading capitalists, it should be the world's oldest continuous civilization.

In 2017 the global savings rate was 26%. The US rate was 19%, while personal savings in China were 46% of GDP, down from 52% in 2008. Before comrades can shrug off that stodgy label for the glinting new moniker of consumer, they will need to be trained and shamed to spend all they've got, and more.

After years of having the best performing economy globally, the mass of Chinese still seem unconvinced of the wisdom of buying stuff you may like, and may be nice, but that you don't actually need. 

Their economy continues to be largely based on the import/export system and investment rather than on what their people buy. Only about 36% of the Chinese economy is due to private consumption (and that figure actually fell between 2000 and 2010).

Such inconvenient data won't discourage the government. Boosting the masses "desire to consume" is an official goal, and if their experience is anything like ours, they will spend trillions of renminbi to brainwash the collective and manufacture that desire. 

Corporate vultures around the world are salivating at the prospects of all those comrades learning to lust after useless things, thus creating the largest consumer market in the world. 

The problem, of course that we will need another planet's worth of resources if they are successful. 

Also, more basically, it has become obvious that an economy based on consumerism isn't actually human progress, and only makes life comfortably awful for a while - for the lucky ones.

Chinese authorities want to make the shift to a consumer-based economy. In order to do that, they will need to stimulate their comrades consumption until it makes up about 75% (up from 36%) of economic activity. Like in the US or Canada.

My hope is that they will have the self control, wisdom, and insight that western culture lacks, and reject a system that is depleting and degrading the planet, and the human soul, one consumer at a time.



February 21, 2020

Watts Up? Awe Of Existence

An awe-inspiring sunrise over the backyard woods.


The main problem, as the author of "The Way of Zen" (1957) Alan Watts saw it, is that humanity has developed a near total lack of respect for all of existence, mostly because we erroneously see ourselves as separate from it.

"In this culture that we call materialistic today, we are, of course, bent on the total destruction of material and it's conversion into junk and poisonous gas as quickly as possible."


The winter woods dressed in a zen-like black and white simplification.


He also stated what he saw were some simple solutions.

“Be in awe of existence, for when you feel this awe, you respect that existence.”


At the brook I ponder that I am mostly water, flowing through the valley of life.

“Marvel at the feel of a pebble in your hand.” 


I am not part of this - I AM this, and it is me.


“Remember that the meaning of life is just to be alive. It is that plain and simple.” 


There is no defined line that illustrates where this all ends, and I start.


Thank you to friend of NBA, Mary, for sharing the Alan Watts quotes I used in this post in a comment on our last post. 

I share them here so a larger audience that might not read our comment section, may enjoy them (although if you don't read comments, you might consider starting - they are great!).

We are one. 

It is one. 

All one. 

So simple. 

I am in awe of that.




February 17, 2020

The 10 Commandments of Consumerism





These are the unspoken, unwritten, yet clearly understood, 10 Commandments of Consumerism:



1. Thou shalt never rent things, or buy previously used/desecrated goods. 

2. Thou shalt never fix or repair anything.

3. Thou shalt increase thy pace of shopping indefinitely, until death.

4. Thou shalt never consider the social, ethical, and environmental responsibilities of the actors in the system.

5. Thou shalt covet the Jones's stuff, and try to out-buy them.

6. Thou shalt shop endlessly even when thee doth not need a thing.

7. Thou shalt never be content with just enough as long as too much is available.

8. Thou shalt deny any and all negative effects of basing life on rank materialism.

9. Thou shalt work as much as possible to make as much money as possible, then spend it all as fast as possible. Thou deservith it.

10. Thou shalt borrow as much money as credit limits allow, at any interest rate, to buy more stuff and keep up the appearance of success. 



What about the 10 Commandments of Simple Living? They don't exist, because unlike the conformity of consumerism, approaches to simplicity are as beautiful and varied as the people who take it up as a guiding principle in their lives.

Besides, I can only think of one Commandment of Simplicity. 

That would be:

1. Never use more of anything when less would suffice.




Warning: The 10 Commandments of Consumerism are largely unaffected by the particular brand of buying. 

Green Consumerism, New Consumerism, Conscious Consumerism and other lame lies like these are all variations on a broken, irredeemable theme.





February 14, 2020

Valentines Day Haul




Since we don't really celebrate love any other time of year, I wonder what Valentines Day is really all about. Could it have anything to do with retailer's Valentines Day haul being about $21 billion dollars in the US this year? 

That is a lot of candy, flowers, cards, and nights out at romantic restaurants. 

It is also a lot of jewelry. About $5.8 billion worth. That is a lot of money for something you can't eat. Or live in. Or burn if you are cold.

I imagine about $1 billion or more will be spent on inappropriate lingerie that might get worn once a bit later this evening, only to languish at the back of a drawer until the next garbage day.

Valentines has become a Hallmark Day extraordinaire. People have been trained to expect gifts on this day. 

"Thou shalt buy Valentines gifts." It is one of Consumerisms 10 Commandments.

And do remember, cautious consumers, the amount you spend on a gift equals the amount of love you have to give. Mo money, mo love.

There it is! Money = love. On no other day is that as obviously exploited as today.

This day is not about love. Like everything else, it is about money, the economy, and buying crap no one needs. It is about consumerism, because they have made everything about consumerism. 

Everything.

This is Idiocracy crossed with Shopiocracy, with Greediocracy thrown in for good measure.

That is not about love. 

But this is - "I love you."


February 10, 2020

Making A New American Dream




There is a new American Dream formulating. We are defining our own version of what to desire, and what to see as our goals in life. This new version thankfully doesn't include a lifestyle focused on endless work and endless consumption.

Our new dream has a new story. It is more about personal freedoms, and meeting one's needs with enough and no more. 

Our new dream values personal potential over economic potential. We want to be the best people we can be, not the best shoppers we can be.

Nature is being re-inserted into this story, because without it we are lost. Our connection to the Earth must be expressed and protected.

70% of Americans surveyed think that we are responsible for many of the world's challenges due to our overconsumption. 

91% of us think we produce too much waste, and 85% predict that major changes in our lifestyles will need to occur in order to address environmental conditions. 

Some of those changes involve working together more often to save money and reduce our environmental footprint. The majority of respondents felt that sharing is one important way to tackle the problems caused by everyone needing their own personal everything.

The new American Dream does not include advertising in parks and public spaces, and would put limits on advertising to children, and in textbooks and on school buses.

The new dream includes less work, more fee time, and reduced stress levels. It rejects consumption as the way to happiness. 

The new dream is more personal and can be tailor made for each individual because it is based on need, not greed. 

Therefore, the new dream can be dreamed, and manifested, by all. 

The new dream helps heal our planet and ourselves, improves our relationships with each other, and creates a kinder, gentler, and happier planet.

We are waking up from the nightmare. We know that a new dream is possible.











February 9, 2020

Things Are Not The Target

You (yes, you), beautiful you, are the target.



"Things 

are not the target.

You, 

your innermost being, 

is the target -

not a beautiful house, 

but a beautiful you;

not much money, 

but a rich you;

not many things, 

but an open being,

available to millions of things."


- Osho



February 6, 2020

State Of The Disunion

In 1992, before the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, developed nations were being called out on their obscene levels of consumption.

We know there are natural limits to our resources use. But how these limits are approached depends on lifestyle choices and levels of consumption, and these depend on what is considered as essential for human well being.

"The unsustainable consumption of the world's most developed economies must be urgently reduced," critics charged at the time. 

U.S. president at the time, George H.W. Bush, was having none of that. Striking back he famously declared,  

"The American way of life is not up for negotiation. Period." 

Now, 3 decades later, with reductions in our consumption needed more than ever, the current U.S. president's State Of The Disunion address let the world know that the unsustainable consumption would continue.

If it weren't such a negative message, you would have to admire how they stick to the same playbook regardless of who is in power - "Nothing will stop us in sating our enormous appetite for material things. Nothing."

The current line is that they have "rejected downsizing". This at at time when downsizing is needed more than ever.

Not only is the plan to not slow down, but to accelerate. The consumption will continue "at a pace unimaginable just a short time ago"

Full speed ahead... right into that iceberg. 

They have successfully fragmented everything from everything. The centre won't hold, they will see to that. 

Consumption and the environment are not separate issues. Each determines the state of the other. 

Who is left to look out for the people and the planet in this state of disunion? 

And just in case you believe the message of endless, pointless consumption for the masses, you may be disappointed. The downsizing of the 99% will continue unabated, while economic acceleration only enriches the already rich. 


That is what he really means.

There is no union in the Union. Or the U.N. Or anywhere. 




February 3, 2020

Freedom Of Thought vs Freedom Of Movement




Cars can be freedom machines in a way, I admit, and I have had my share of incredible moments blasting across the face of the Earth in a variety of internal combustion conveyances.

But those days have been over for Linda and I since we began voluntarily limiting how much we used our vehicle. We made this decision as the rest of the world was speeding around a blind corner and on into the 2000s.

Since then we been driving less and less and less. Overall, we have found it has not had a noticeable negative effect on our quality of life.

That is because cars are sold as freedom machines, but they can only provide freedom of movement. What is the use of having an unlimited freedom to move, if we don't also have the unlimited freedom to think?

Socrates knew that we cannot find ourselves without first thinking for ourselves. Without  this freedom, we are lost.

So, do we have the freedom to think in our societies?  

Freedom of thought is the freedom to hold or consider a fact, viewpoint, or thought, independent of coercion or force to think differently.

That does not describe the world I know.

Our freedom of expression has always been limited through censorship, arrests, book burning, and pervasive propaganda.

This has destroyed any semblance of freedom of thought that we may feel we still have left.  

Educator John Dewey, himself a deep thinker, thought a lot about freedom of movement vs freedom to think, and this is what he said,

"The only freedom that is of enduring importance is the freedom of intelligence, that is to say, freedom of observation and of judgment, exercised in behalf of purposes that are intrinsically worthwhile. 
The commonest mistake made about freedom is, I think, to identify it with freedom of movement, or, with the external or physical side of activity."

While we have driven around our cultural obsession with cars and freedom of movement, we have found our grey matter has been thrown in the slammer.

We didn't notice because we have been stuck in traffic.

In recent years I have been willing to give up a large part of my freedom of movement. However, I will not compromise my freedom to think for myself, something on which all other freedoms are based.

You can't be yourself if you can't think for yourself. And if you can't be yourself, you can't be free.

Freedom of thought wins.

The time I used to spend driving and being mobile, I now spend blasting around the infinite space between my ears.

I would like this to continue, unimpeded by outside forces.


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