What does it take

If you live in the United States of America chances are high that you will live in the same economic status that you and your parents are born into. The American dream of rising out of poverty or even moving up in the ones socioeconomic status is highly unlikely. In the United States, less than 50% of children born in the 80’s will out earn their parents.. I find this statistic interesting and a complete bummer. Why has social mobility gone down every year since the 1940’s?

That is a big question with lots of moving parts. society is a group of people living together in an ordered community and there are lots of parts in that society that can and do influence socioeconomic mobility in that society. Guess what is currently the number one driving force behind socio economic mobility in a society?

Did you guess? What was your answer? Was it crime or lack of? Was it education? Was it natural resources or access to them? Well the answer is (insert drum roll here)…. COMMUTE TIME TO WORK!! Yeah my mind is also blown something that simple seems to make all the difference. Long commute times work to keep society in poverty. Lack of mobility creates a lack of socio economic mobility.

So what can we do? I quit a job with an hour and a halve commute two years ago and traded for a 10 minute commute and have never been happier. I understand that not everyone has that luxury though. Stronger, good communities provide robust public transportation. Good communities are made up of citizens who participate in them. I know you are tired form the long commute but if you can get active and attend local town hall and county meetings, this is where the public transportation is often shelved in the United States of America and this is where you, the good citizen, needs to be heard. “Hey guys who are already in the upper class, if we shelf this transportation plan, no one will reach the status you are at now.”

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Cities cannot afford to not have good, clean and safe transportation. It is possible and will happen eventually don’t you want to be able to say that you drove this change?

More and More and more

Daily writing prompt
What’s something most people don’t understand?

When I was younger the MSN website felt like it often showcased the current wealth of Bill Gates. I checked and Bill Gates is currently worth 107.8 billion dollars. Right now the richest person in the world is currently Bernard Arnault worth 202 billion dollars (technically the worth is the Arnault family not just Bernard.

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This year the United States will spend 1.22 trillion on Social Security and 767 billion on national defense. I see news stories with these totals of money and for the longest time I had no idea just how much money this actually was.

A million dollars is a lot of money, a billion dollars is a whole lot of money, and one trillion dollars is an almost unfathomable amount of money. As humans millions and billions and trillions are hard for all of us to understand.

The inability to understand the magnitude of big numbers is evolutionary. Even though it is hard to understand it is imperative that we develop this skill and that we do it quickly. Why is that? Because the human population has grown exponentially and the actions of this growth are having dire consequences on the earth.

Another major reason for understanding the magnitude of big numbers has to deal with social justice and wealth inequality.

Billionaires wealth provides tools that make it easy to create huge carbon footprints, the tools have also made it possible for a select few to commit egregious acts of injustice against many people. The quicker we understand orders of magnitude the quicker we can evolve into a better species and society.

Buy Amazon stock

What advice would you give to your teenage self?

Ever since Robert Zemeckis brought the world Back to teh Future in 1985 I cannot help but imagine teenagers and adults all over the world have wondered what they would do if they could jump in the DeLorean and meet their past selves.

What would we warn our past selves off? That one bad relationship that we have scars from? The job we took right after university that had the boss from hell? If you have lived enough you are going to make missteps’.

We learn from failure not from success

Bram Stoker

The mental exercise has been done again and again. The more I consider my past the more I realize that the past has made us who we are today., not really the past but how we react and process the past has made us who we are today and I am not sure that I would want to change anything simply because I am happy now.

One thing I would of course want more of is money or maybe wealth not money. I would love to have the stability and luxury that comes with wealth. In the current pay to play system of the world money provides people security, and control of their time. I would if I could change anything get that security and control.

So if I had to tell my past self anything it would be to buy Amazon stock. as much Amazon stock as I could afford and hold onto it. Amazon opened at 97 cents per share and as of this post the stock was selling at 95 dollars a share. The Amazon stock has split 4 tines as well.

If I bought 100 shares for a little less than 1000 in 1997 I would have just over 2 million dollars! I did not buy that stock so for now I have to get back to work.

How to

In his book “Outliers” Malcolm Gladwell goes over a study by Anders Ericsson. The study reviews musicians and their performance in the study Ericsson comes up with the “10000 hour rule”. Ericsson realized that all experts have one thing in common and that is practice and the number of practice hours to become an expert is 10000 hours.

The readers of Outliers dropped the book and started practicing. Some reached the 10000 hour limit and were not experts. Was the rule wrong? Not really. The authors of the study came back and made the rule more robust. That link will take you to the article but if TLDR the answer is that practice must be good and involve teaching and learning.

Every place that I have worked has had campaigns for charity, some of the campaigns allow employees to choose the funds that they can contribute to. When I review the funds I always look for funds that have low admin costs. This way I feel like money is more effectively being used.

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There is a new movement now though called Effective Altruism. Effective Altruism EA for short is a movement and a community.

Everyone wants to do good, but many ways of doing good are ineffective. The EA community is focused on finding ways of doing good that actually work.

excerpt from the EA website

The world is bad off right now, and can do much better. Governments are not picking up the slack and doing their jobs (which is to provide for the people that they govern). Because governments ar not taxing correctly (Billionaires pay less tax than the working class) and lack funding to provide for the welfare of the nation altruism is very important and often comes from the working class and poor. It is important to doante to charities that provide the biggest bang for your buck.

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Education always seems to be the key and this is no different. Know what your charities do and how they do it, if you can get involved beyond just writing a check. You will be helping yourself more than helping others and with education you will be effectively heling everyone.

Always be

The movie Glengarry Glen Ross was an adaptation of a play with the same name. The movie and play show the cutthroat side of the sales industry. A famous line from the movie is “Always be closing”. The line has been repeated all over the world by everyone in sales.

In the cutthroat world of sales this is pretty good advice because if a sales person doesn’t close a deal they don’t get paid and if they don’t get paid they don’t eat. Most people who know me know that I am not a big fan of capitalism for this reason here. Capitalism is meant to divide up and manage resources equitably through placing a dollar amount on resources and then forcing consumers to work for the dollar amount by processing, or selling the resources. The problem with capitalism is that it doesn’t work. If the goals of capitalism are equitable resource allocation and proper resource management it doesn’t work. Proof is in the socio economic state of every capitalist nation on Earth. Capitalism puts money first not the person, it seems that the true goal of capitalism is to make a very few amount of people wealthy and leave all others in want.

If our species plans to survive we will need to show some kindness. Instead of Always be closing good citizens should take up the mantra “Always be kind”. Instead of amassing capital that we can trade for resources we should be focused on making sure the resources are managed and shared with our neighbors. If people do not care for each other or the natural resources then one could argue that we do not deserve either.

Instead of focusing on money we should focus on kindness and resource management. Instead of being consumers we should be citizens, kind citizens who care for each other in deeds not just words. Try today to “Always be kind”.

Now what

My parents carried cash for everything, cash and checks. When I was in middle school my uncle went o and on about an ATM machine and explained how an ATM card was not a credit card to my parents. Now you are hard pressed to find a person with more than $100 in cash on their person. Money has pretty much been automated.

Restaurants, hotels and health care have taken the reigns as the most labor intensive jobs in the United States. Think about that these jobs are service oriented and produce no physical products. Factory work is far less labor intensive now.

What does it all mean? Well, I think we are currently living at the start of a post scarcity economy. Products and food are in abundance, the need to scrap by or fight for everything we get is now truly a manufactured need and not a real one.

Living in a post scarcity economy means that there should be a shift to better resource management instead there is a shift to service jobs. The lower class is serving the upper class (please bear in mind that the upper class is usually in this position because of birth right).

There is some hope though… I have watched a whole generation resign when covid came and went (sort of people are still struggling with covid but it seems it may be starting to become endemic). After the “great resignation” I watched a whole nation participate in quiet quitting (this is where you simply perform the bare minimum at your position). The transformation from resigning to quitting should change again to setting up a work life balance.

As this article states work life balance is a myth, and what is happening is more of a career or job that is not for money but satisfaction. Within the next generation I predict the end of money and the start of work that is for the purpose of work only.

So now what? I plan on spending more time at home and work doing things that make me feel accomplished than simply paying me money. I plan on doing more work to help others instead of helping myself to the over abundant supply of stuff and I think the world would be much happier if we all did the same thing.

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Consumers and or Citizens

Just recently in the United States the government signed into law a pretty extensive budget package. The money in the package will go towards combating climate change and inflation.

Some people are very vocal about the law because this will involve a tax to help pay for the changes made. The tax is minimum almost non existent for most of the population and actually not an abhorrent amount for the wealthy. By wealthy I mean anyone making over 400000 dollars a year.

When I hear citizens complain about taxes that they will not pay or are less that 2 % of their income I start to wonder why. The climate crisis that our world is facing is one of the largest crisis that humanity has ever faced and it is existential. To pay just a little bit of money in taxes is well worth the continued existence of the human race.

I think part of the problem is that in the United States many of the citizens have been conditioned to be Consumers first then citizens. I have seen this ideology with Union votes in factories and warehouses. The major reason most people vote against unionization in a warehouse or factory is that the employer promises that they will raise the cost of their goods if a Union is voted in. A good citizen would support safe working conditions and equitable pay that comes with a good workers union, however a consumer would only care what a good cost them. The same attitude seems to be going on with the climate. A good citizen would support laws that address climate change but a consumer would care less bot the climate and more about the cost of goods produced.

Money is a medium of exchange, it is a payment for resources or services. The resources that money can buy like clean water and safe food those are what matters not really the money. Being a good citizen should have very little to do with money and everything to do with how a nation or world divides and uses their natural resources.

I wonder how much better would our world be if as a society we focused less on money and more on.. well everything else?

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We all do it

This morning I wasn’t sure what to blog about. I was stumped (for a microsecond), then I thought about what I was actually getting ready to do. I was about to blog or tell a story.

Ahh story telling, it is what separates humans from the animals. Here is a wonderful right up on the difference in humans and animals. My wife and I went to a Trace Adkins concert and he told us that he is a story teller. That night I thought it was odd that he called himself a story teller and not a singer but on the ride home as I was getting my hearing back I realized that he was right.

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Musicians, teachers, parents, siblings every human on earth who interacts with another human on earth is a story teller. Even the hermits tell stories to themselves.

I think about money and how money is intrinsic to the story that comes with it. There is a book that has been on my to read list forever and one day will move to the read one. It is titled “Money: The True Story Of A Made-Up Thing” and written by Jacob Goldstein. If you think about without story telling money would not work. It is the story and belief in the story that gives the currency its widely accepted value.

How and why we tell stories matter. Stories should be told to build people up and help not hurt. There is a wonderful Disney movie called “Encanto”. The story behind the movie involves a multigeneration family in Columbia and one attractive feature of the story is the lack of a central antagonist or bad guy. Even without the bad guy the story is compelling and the plot moves quickly (its a great movie).

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Bad guys and villains’ in stories can be dangerous. Stories are great at creating empathy but they are also good at creating hate. Who doesn’t love to see a bad guy get his comeuppance? This is dangerous because life is not black and white. Life is messy and very gray.

“The color of truth is gray.” –Andre Gide

When you tell your stories today and you will, be sure to act kindly compassionately and humanely.

Why even say that?

What is a job?

Last week while waiting in line to get my smoothie, I over heard lots of lunch time conversations. One conversation in particular made me pause for a second and I had to resist the urge to set the induvial straight. A man with sunglasses turned backwards on his hat told a woman that “A military spouse is not a job”. I know crazy right.

A spouse is a job, military or otherwise. I thought about what I would say if I rudely interrupted this jerk to “set him straight”. I asked myself what is a job exactly. I did some light googling and found this post online. The post has a line that I think succinctly defines a job and it is “a job is an activity, usually regular and often done in exchange for a payment.” See the sunglass wearing jerk let the woman know that the Military Spouse job was not a job because they received no payment. Before my research I immediately thought “jerk and how close minded he is.”

Money, that is how he defined work, this thinking is close minded nearsighted and foolish. Money is and should be treated as a tool however, it seems that in capitalist society we have made money more than just a tool we have allowed it to stand in as a sense of value and worth for people and groups of people.

The Yanomami, Kula Ring of Papua, Awa tribes,  Nyimang of Sudan, and Jonbeel Mela are societies in existence today that do not have or use money. The people who live in these societies have jobs even if they do not get a paycheck. The narrow mindedness of sunglass guy and his awful statement about military spouses just denies the existence of these societies and the work that is done.

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Money turns my stomach, because of people like sunglass guy. I heard a man in an Egyptian market call money filthy lucre and that has stuck with me for over twenty years. It really is filthy lucre. We allow ourselves to become trapped by money. We work jobs we hate for the promise of it. We starve for the lack of it and when we have it we are often forced to spend it to protect it or forced to part with it.

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I truly believe that my grandchildren will live in a cashless society. A post scarcity economy. Essentially an economy based of division of the real resources not imaginary money. You will work for actual food and shelter not paper or electronic transactions. Here is an interesting article about the post scarcity economy. I could write for pages about societies without money and the worlds future (in which there will be no money) but, I must stop digressing. The bottom line is this… We have to stop being narrow minded a$#holes and I have to stop eavesdropping