How Would You Describe Yourself?

How you describe yourself is a pretty good indication of how you see your place in the world. Most people start off with their occupation, “I am an engineer…”. Some site past achievements, others family relationships.

I think a major source of how you describe yourself must do with your future. It must be how you want to spend your remaining years on this earth. Your self-description should be about your future, not your past.

With that in mind, letting go of your “have been” life how would you describe yourself?

For most of us, this question will probably take some contemplation to get it right. It certainly did for me. I can’t say “I am an engineer” as I haven’t practiced that profession for years now. I can’t claim to be a volunteer in a soup kitchen as that ended more than a couple of years ago. Here is what I can say. I am a now:

  • Prolific Blogger
  • Nuanced Skeptic
  • Progressive Christian
  • Amateur Documentary Photographer.

I maintain three blogs and a couple of photography sites and I certainly am a skeptic about certain aspects of life. I only recently started calling myself a Christian again and that is because I shed the Evangelical label and adopted the Progressive one. (see my blog at RedLetterLiving for more about that.) One of my passions is photography particularly documenting the historical places I have visited. Looking to the future, however short it is, these are the descriptions that I put on myself.

How would you describe yourself?

A Cloaked Prosperity

As mentioned in a recent post here at RJsCorner, we in the US have been duped into believing that stock market indexes are the only indicators we need to measure the prosperity of our country.

Since the stock market in the last two years went from 19,700 to 24,000 which is about a 21% increase it sounds like we are living in the age of uber prosperity. But when you look at almost any other measure we fall pretty far behind many far less wealthy countries.

A better index for prosperity would include quality of life measures and that is what the Legatum Prosperity Index does. It was developed by a London think tank. Here is a little about that:

The 2018 Legatum Prosperity Index is based on 104 different variables analyzed across 149 nations around the world…

The 104 variables are grouped into 9 sub-indexes, which are averaged using equal weights. The 9 sub-indexes are:
Economic Quality
Business Environment
Governance
Education
Health
Safety & Security
Personal Freedom
Social Capital
Natural Environment

For example, Personal Freedom includes freedom of speech and religion, national tolerance for immigrants and ethnic and racial minorities. The Social Capital sub-index includes the percentage of citizens who volunteer, give to charity, help strangers, and who feel they can rely on family and friends…

Source: Wikipedia

This index is actually an index of indexes that include:

  • Gallup World Poll
  • World Development Indicators
  • International Telecommunication Union
  • Fragile States Index
  • Worldwide Governance Indicators
  • Freedom House
  • World Health Organization
  • World Values Survey
  • Amnesty International
  • Centre for Systemic Peace

As can be seen from the featured image at the top of this post, the United States comes in 17th on this index. It should be of no surprise that most of the world’s social democracies come in ahead of us as do some very small countries.

Money isn’t everything except maybe to the top 2% in our country who actually controls the majority of it.

Remoralization

I don’t think the word “remoralization” is a real word yet but I admire David Brooks for inventing it for the purposes of his weekly article on capitalism. This post is going to be about our capitalist system and the stock market. Let’s start off with Mr. Brooks words:

There’s been a striking shift in how corporations see themselves. In normal times, corporations serve a lot of stakeholders — customers, employees, the towns in which they are located. But these days corporations see themselves as serving one purpose and one stakeholder — maximizing shareholder value. Activist investors demand that every company ruthlessly cut the cost of its employees and ruthlessly screw its hometown if it will raise the short-term stock price.

source: New York Times – David Brooks

My three-legged stool analogy about how corporations used to be balanced between customers, employees, and shareholders applies here. When equal attention is placed on the three legs the corporation is healthy. When the legs become unbalanced turmoil results and we are, as David point out, in deep turmoil in the US in the last decades. When did corporations become immoral so they need remoralization?

“Stakeholder” which primarily mean the one-percent of the US population, who control more wealth than the bottom 90%, now demand that they get a lion’s share of the attention of the companies they control. This imbalance is one of the primary causes of the populist movement, even if the loudest voices in it don’t realize it. When a very small percentage of people control the economic assets severe unbalance is bound to happen.

How did we get to the point that the three-legged-stool is so completely out of kilter? How did we let that happen? I think a big part of that is that too many of us have blindly accepted the contrived propaganda on the subject.

We have been fed the line and seem to thoroughly believe that the only index needed to measure the prosperity in America are stock market indexes.

Since the stock market in the last two years went from 19,700 to 24,000 which would be about a 21% increase it sounds like, if we are to take that as the measure of our prosperity, we are living in the age of lavish prosperity. But when you look at almost any other measure the 21% just doesn’t begin to happen. If you want to look beyond the top 2% of the wealth holders there are so many other factors involved. More on that soon…

Letting You In On A Little Secret…

For this “Seeking Wisdom” Thursday I am going to give you some of my personal wisdom. Unlike some person we all know, I don’t think I am perfect but I have gleaned a fair amount of wisdom during my years on this earth. Much of it comes from the mistakes I have made, but isn’t that where the really valuable wisdom comes from?

I am letting you Millenials, and anyone else who cares to hear it, in on a little secret. No matter how old you get, you are still a forty-year-old but stuck in a decaying body. It doesn’t matter if chronologically you are in your seventies, you still think and sometimes foolishly act like you are forty.

Why forty? Well, that is the age where, in my wisdom, you become fully adult, if you ever actually become a full adult. 🙂 The teenage years of making stupid mistakes actually extends well into the twenties. After that, it is a learning process to find what the world and your place in it is actually about. By the time you are forty, you should have pretty well gotten all that stuff down. Of course, the years after that pile on the wisdom but forty is the point that your body starts on its long downhill grade. So you lock your mental psyche on that year.

I was never much of a Mark Twain fan but when we visited his hometown in Hannibal Missouri years ago I came across the words in the featured image above. Personally, I know not a day passes that I don’t feel young.

So, the next time you visit a nursing home, or other places where old people hang out, remember all those folks see themselves pretty much the same as you. You insult them when you baby-talk them or just plain ignore them. A lesson in empathy when it comes to old people is to go out of your way to say hi and recognize their presence. Why? Because someday, and sooner than you think, you will be the one on the receiving end of that transaction.

That is enough of my wisdom for now. I gotta go replenish my wisdom bucket now. 🙂

What do you think?

The Wisdom of Jefferson & His Contempt For Stonewall Jackson

Thomas Jefferson Statue at Monticello

I have let it be know many times here at RJsCorner that Thomas Jefferson is one of my main heroes in life. He, and Will Rogers, are who I chose many years ago to how to cope in the best of times and in the worst of times.

Jefferson had a love of words from a very early age. When it came to the written word he was probably the most prolific of all the founding fathers. He was also recognized, even by himself, to be no better than an average speaker. He seldom spoke extemporaneously. In his time in the Continental Congress, he seldom spoke more than a few words. But when given the time to dream, write, edit and then edit some more he was a master of eloquence. It is a fact that even Lincoln used Jefferson’s writing as a pillar for his own.

I have been looking over his words as found in the book “The Quotable Jefferson” as I seem to do on a regular basis and ran across his thoughts about Andy Jackson. Before I get to them I want to re-iterate my contempt for our 17th President. I simply cannot fathom how the Democratic Party can celebrate him as their founder. I admit that I haven’t read a full-length biography but I have read many things about him and have visited his estate the Heritage and read most of the info there. I know from that that he was a threat to our young democracy due to his rash and boastful bravado.

I also know that a picture of Jackson is now hung in the Oval Office as it’s current occupant thinks himself able to compete with Jackson’s legacy.

Before this gets too long I have to give you the quote from Jefferson on his thoughts of Jackson as recorded in 1824, two years before his death and five years before Jackson occupied the Presidency:

I feel much alarmed at the prospect of seeing General Jackson, President. He is one of the most unfit men, I know of for such a place. He has had very little respect for laws or Constitutions, -& is in fact an able military chief. His passions are terrible. When I was president of the Senate, he was a Senator; & he could never speak for the rashness of his feelings. I have seen him attempt it repeatably, & as often chock with rage. His passions are no doubt cooler now; -he has been tried much since I knew him- but he is a dangerous man.

I don’t doubt that Jefferson rolls over in his grave every time his name is mentioned Jackson.

Mind Your Own Business!

SOMEBODY IS ALWAYS TELLING US IN THE PAPERS HOW TO PREVENT WAR. THERE IS ONLY ONE WAY IN THE WORLD TO PREVENT WAR, AND THAT IS, FOR EVERY NATION TO TEND TO ITS OWN BUSINESS.

Will Rogers 

It’s been a while since I have posted a quote from Will Rogers who is one of my primary heroes in life. The words above were written almost a hundred years ago and maybe things are different now, but the idea is still a valid one. I know that the world is much more connected now than then. Lindbergh had just made is a solo flight between NYC and Paris, television hadn’t been invented yet, and long distance calls were expensive and not terribly reliable. We were just not as connected as we are now.

It seems when someone coughs in the Middle East now the price of gasoline goes up fifty cents.  In Will’s day when something happened in Europe, it often took days for that news to appear on our doorstep. Whatever happens in the world now we seem to know about it almost instantaneously. 

We are more connected now but we could have avoided many of the wars in my lifetime if we had just minded our own business.   “Minding your own business” is pretty good advice in other areas of life. I kinda think it relates to my pillar #7 of “Live and let live”. There are just too many of us today who think it is our duty to tell other folks how to live their lives.  As far as I see it, if what they do doesn’t affect what I want to do, then I should mind my own business. 

I might shock you, but I am not embarrassed to say that this is one of those areas I agree at least to some degree with Trump. Why are we so entangled in the Middle East? It used to be it was because of the oil. But since we are now almost self-sustaining in that area we don’t need their oil as we once did. Let’s let the folks in that part of the world try to settle their own differences. We don’t need to be involved in everything.

How about you?

Seeking Wisdom – Will Rogers Style

I want to say up front that Google doesn’t appreciate what I do. Their algorithm is prejudiced against me.  They sometimes call me a “duplicate content provider”.  Argh!!!

When I started my personal blog over ten years ago, I set a foundation for what it would be.  The first foundation was that it would pattern what my primary literary hero Will Rogers did.  One of Will’s more famous quotes is “All I know is what I read in the newspapers.” That is he took a topic for his articles from what he read and gave it his own twist. I believe I have pretty faithfully lived up to that idea.  

The second foundation is that I want to give people different views of the world by presenting them with new sources of wisdom.  Even this foundation goes by to Will Rogers.  You see here a couple of his quotes about that. All of us should be constantly trying to learn from smarter people.  We shouldn’t have to pee on every electric fence to learn our lessons in life.  In that regard, I go out of my way to provide you with links to people that might expand your horizon as they did mine. 

I think over the years I have directed hundreds of people to new sources of wisdom. I am proud of that fact, even if Google doesn’t agree.  Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t care to have tens of thousands of readers.  I am more than happy to have a smaller group of wisdom seekers rather than a large group of ranters.  That suits me just fine. Since it is coming up on the end of another year, I want to thank each and every one of my followers for letting me have a couple of minutes of your day. I appreciate that you think what I have to say is worth your time.