The two major things that drive the US economy are personal consumption and military spending. With this post, I will try to convince you that is a basic problem for us as a country. It thwarts happiness and is a wasteful way to live a life. But the biggest problem is that for too many of us it is the ONLY thing driving our lives. More money, more stuff. 2018-09-30_16-18-17 Ironically this is true throughout the economic ladder from the richest of us to the poorest. We think that if we can just get a few more dollars to buy more stuff everything will be better. Most of us have been thoroughly indoctrinated into consumer driving capitalism. For many of us, contrary to what the philosophers say, money can buy happiness, at least temporarily. Or so we believe... For those on the lower end of the economic spectrum it is another flat screen TV; for those on the upper end, it is a new $50,000 car to replace the two-year-old one we currently have. Believe it or not, there are other parts of the world that take a very different approach to capitalism. They don't depend on all of their citizens spending more and more year after year. Instead, much of the profits of their version of capitalism is used for the overall good of the country and its citizens. Those countries have an infinitely better infrastructure.  Potholes and failing bridges are not the norms for them.  Even more importantly they provide health care for all their citizens and security for their senior citizens.  Every statistic taken shows that they are much happier than we are even if they don't have multiple storage lockers filled with junk. How do we as a country get out of the "more and more" mentality and into something that makes us happier?  That is the question of the day for me.  
2018-09-30_16-29-26.png I am doing something a little different today; I am leading off with the words that inspired this post.  I can't say it better so why not just show it to you up front. In the mid-1980s when the capitalist decided to change the rules of the game hardly any of us noticed it.  Up until that point, American capitalism was generally deemed a three-legged-stool. It was driven by the customer buying the product or service, those holding stock in the company, and finally the people creating the product or service. As long as the three legs were pretty much the same length our economy prospered. Then came the MBA's (Masters of Business Administration) which was a new degree in the business world.  When those new graduates started entering the business world the three-legged stool was discarded in favor of a total focus on the capitalists. Employees went from being an asset in the company to a liability.  Given our consumer-driven economy, they decided the customer would be there regardless of how they were treated. Corporate R&D organizations like Bell Labs were tossed aside as being unnecessary. 2018-09-30_18-25-05.png As long as the capitalists could convince the rest of us (workers/customers) that when the stock markets went up everything was fine.  With this strategy, the stock market went from 800 to 26,000 over the resulting 38 years. That's about a 33 times increase. The wage increase over the same period of time rose 3.5 times which was about the same as the cost of living increases.  In other words, the capitalists have taken home ALL the increase in prosperity! I know the argument goes that more people own stocks now than in 1980 so that prosperity is shared by more of us.  In reality, now that pensions are pretty much a thing of the past, the percentage of families with stock ownership has barely budged in the same time period. The fact is that the top 10% of American households hold about 85% of the total stocks and almost 50% of everyone else don't own any stock at all. How long will it take for us to understand that we have been fed a line by the capitalists? That is the question to end this post.
I have to give you a quote from one of my most recent regular reads in the blogsphere. It is from John Pavlovitz.  He is a North Carolina pastor who speaks to my heart.  Here is the snippet for discussion in Today's post. It is about a Trumpster who tried to insult him by calling him a beta-male (as opposed to an alpha-male I suppose): 2018-10-04_15-36-21.png 2018-10-04_15-33-03.png Source: Confessions of a Proud Beta Male Evidentally #CO3 has been using this term in his rallies/self-adoration sessions. He intends it to be an insult/putdown but it seems that many are now proudly taking up that mantle.  I am one of them, I now call myself a Beta-Male. I guess to him and his base it means that you are not an alpha-male:
  • You are not a take-charge guy who has to dominate every situation.
  • You are not a  guy who proudly boasts of his conquest over others, especially females, and proudly proclaim the things you can do to them with complete immunity.
  • You are not a guy who strikes back in anger when you feel even a slight bit challenged.
  • You are not a guy thumping your chest and proclaiming yourself superior and vastly more intelligent than others.
  • You are not a guy who berates and mocks those you have decided are your enemies.
  • You are not a guy who primarily makes decisions with gut feelings as opposed to studying the situation to make an informed choice.
I, like Pastor Pavlovitz, proudly proclaim that I am a beta-male. Thank you #CO3 for painting me as very different from you and so many of your base.  I will proudly wear the mantle you perceive as a smear.

I am a proud beta-male

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