Ecology and Education and Social Issues25 Apr 2017 12:08 pm

 

The data supporting the fact that air pollution negatively impacts one’s health and in many cases shortens one’s life span are profuse. Car exhaust in particular has been identified as a major factor in many realms from asthma, to heart disease to cancer.

Cutting emissions could prevent nearly 300,000 US air pollution deaths

It is generally accepted that the health of children in particular is negatively impacted by air pollution and once again car exhaust. A child’s smaller lungs and developing immune system make them more susceptible than an adult to the harmful effects to fumes.

I live in a smaller city in which the populace is generally very concerned about health issues such as diet, exercise and pollution. Parents are very active and vocal regarding advocating for their children to make sure that the community is respectful and proactive regarding taking measures which help insure child safety and health.

Yet, it is perplexing to me how many of these same individuals spend each day during the school year in long lines of cars preparing to drop their child off and pick them up from school. Despite having ample school bus service, they choose to create traffic jams twice a day in which hundreds of idle cars wait often with their engines running in front if the school. Even the rare parent who does turn off their car, has to keep turning it on and off to keep the flow of traffic moving as they follow the long queue.

 

Health effects from car exhaust exposure can last a lifetime

In most situations in our community and many others in the US the cars pass and stall in front of the children’s play area and/or windows to the classroom. While the exhaust from a school bus is also a health issue, there are relatively few of them, and they do not have to stand in line for extended times to park.

Parent’s who choose to drive and pick up their children from school are not only endangering their children’s lives and health, but are also putting the lives of other children in danger through their needing to breathe the same air and learn in the same classrooms as the polluting parents. The smoke from the driving parents cars is second hand smoke which is negatively impacting the health and academic functioning of the children whose parents are taking the healthier option of taking the school bus.

http://www.takepart.com/article/2015/03/04/air-pollution-traffic-slow-learning-schoolchildren

Studies indicate that car fumes have a negative impact on many aspects of our children’s health both physical and mental. The denser the concentration of gas fumes and related particulates the more likely the negative impact on a students short and long term physical health, academic functioning and mental health.

http://www.takepart.com/article/2016/06/09/car-exhaust-affecting-children-mental-health

One definitely could make the argument that the negative impacts of most school yard pollution is rather small, or that one cannot prove that any one child was harmed by school yard pollution. One could also propose that most pollution caused by drop off and pick up traffic is likely diffused fairly quickly and, therefore, not a significant factor. But, why would any caring parent want to play the odds or minimize a potential harm on their child’s health and academic functioning.

This is not to say that there are not individual situations and extenuating purposes that validate and even necessitate a parent from driving their kid to school, but only to point out the dangers when many parents choose to cart their children to school when other options are available.

Riding a school bus does present it’s own set of challenges and problems, most of which can be resolved in a positive way for the social and academic development of your child. Yet, their really is no positive side to the endangerment of your child and all his schoolmates by increasing car traffic both in terms of pollution and potential physical harm inherent in the presence of so many cars near so many impulsive and energetic children.

Caring for the environment and being a responsible loving parent should go hand in hand.

Economics and Government and Social Issues13 Apr 2017 12:39 pm

The recent ascendency of the term “deep state” presents an opportunity to explore some of the elements which may comprise the entities that lay behind the term. Despite the long history of concerned politicians and citizens attempting to warn the public of the dangers and potential harms of a growing “shadow government” influencing international policy, such a discussion has largely existed under the radar of the general public.

One of the earliest and most public warnings came from president Eisenhower during his farewell address in 1961, when he cautioned us to become aware of the growing power and influence of what he termed “the military-industrial complex”. While the entire speech can be seen on You Tube or read on the web, the following quote will give you the gist of his message:

“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”

Eisenhower believed that our freedoms and democracy were being threatened by the power and influence being wielded by the growing surreptitious alliances between the military and corporate/commercial entities. Soon these “special interest groups” would take hold of the behind the scenes world of lobbyists which forever pressure, seduce and bully our politicians into supporting their surreptitious goals and agendas.

Another major player in the shadow world of the deep state is the CIA and related intelligence agencies. In essence the intelligence world is an excessive perversion of the old maxim that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The benefits and goodness of the intelligence community is totally based on one’s perspective. The bulk of the surreptitious and immoral actions of the intelligence community violates every tenet of an open and free democracy, but is posed as necessary and vital for the long term success of our nation. As long as they are working on our side and defending our freedoms and democracy we excuse their methods and total lack of transparency and moral ethics.

Yet, each and every decade since the inception of the CIA there are major scandals that emerge which question both their usefulness and their benefit to our democracy and freedoms of US citizens. Many of the unsavory tactics including propaganda, assassinations, torture, control of the media, perceptual management, rigging of elections and sabotaging of the actions of populist movements abroad not only open us up to blowback, but are often exposed by investigative journalists as being used domestically on our own citizenry.

While the universe of spies is dependent on deception and stealth the heads of the intelligence community often make statements which seem to expose the very reason we should not view them as necessary or an ally of our freedom and democracy. Two of the many dozens of possible quotes follow.

“The CIA owns everyone of any significance in the major media.” 
Bill Colby Former CIA Director

“We’ll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false.” 
William Casey, former CIA Director

The state department may be the best example of the deep state shadow government in that they are not elected, often not appointed by the president, are highly influential in long term planning and policy formation and whose careers may span through many administrations. The following infamous quote, which is actually a compilation of ideas express in a single declassified document, will give you and idea of the role and scope of the state department. This quote is by George Kennan the state departments first planning and policy head whose basic policies many feel guided our actions for a few decades.

We have about 50% of the world’s wealth, but only 6.3% of its population…. In this situation, we cannot fail to be the object of envy and resentment. Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity…. To do so, we will have to dispense with all sentimentality and day-dreaming; and our attention will have to be concentrated everywhere on our immediate national objectives…. We should cease to talk about vague and … unreal objectives such as human rights, the raising of the living standards, and democratization. The day is not far off when we are going to have to deal in straight power concepts. The less we are then hampered by idealistic slogans, the better.

I would invite you to read the entirety of the document as well as type in his name in a research engine to read more of his vision of global politics region by region. His comments and recommendations regarding Germany, Russia, Africa, and the middle and far east are still vital in terms of understanding the actions the US takes both militarily and politically.

Capitalism is a Real Killer

While admittedly the sample size of released documents and reliable quotes by government planners and deep state insiders is relatively small, they are very consistent in their conviction of a need for their to be two separate messages one public and one top secret. The public message of intention is littered with “sentimental” and “unrealistic”objectives such as freedom, democracy, human rights and the raising of living standards, while the internal message and goal is to maintain the global disparity and economic hegemony of the US empire.

The cognitive dissonance between the domestic and international actions of our military and our government evaporates once one assumes that capitalism and not democracy is our guiding principle and goal. Our creating havoc and installing and defending dictators while squelching populist movements abroad becomes quite understandable and consistent when viewed from our desire to maintain economic hegemony and market dominance.

The battle to keep intact the US’s privileged position as global leader and lone superpower is waged on two fronts. First we must prevent any counter economic ideology such as communism or socialism to gain a foothold anywhere in the world. Second we must make sure that we effectively prevent any other nation from usurping or even reducing our commanding position as the economic power or having any form of currency rival the US dollar as the global reserve currency.

Keenan was very concerned about the threat that Germany still posed as an industrial and economic juggernaut if it were allowed to quickly heal and rebuild. He discussed the importance and necessity of keeping Germany a divided nation at least until the time in which western Europe and Britain were economically strong enough to withstand their political and economic might.

The strategy of keeping a nation divided in order to stall the growth of socialism or communism, as well as prevent the nation from becoming a major economic player has been used often by the US. I addition to Germany one could add Korea and Vietnams as examples. Yet, on recent years, especially in the middle east and Africa we have done our best to splinter a large nations into a number of number of splinter nations or warring entities. Iraq, Afghanistan , Venezuela and Libya are prime examples with the Yugoslavia and the USSR also falling into that category.

Isolating and punishing nations through economic sanctions due to a nation’s desire to reduce or sever economic ties and dependencies with the US is also a often used tool to “protect our way of life” and role as economic overlord to the world. Cuba and Venezuela come to mind in addition to many other nations including Iraq, Iran, Russia and Syria.

Often the list of nations we have placed economic embargoes and sanctions on involve political and social leaders who have led movements and adopted policies which greatly improve the autonomy and quality of life of many of its citizens. Castro, Chavez and Gaddafi are examples of leaders whose documented evidence of significant growth in terms of health care, education, women’s and workers rights, as well as an increased voice in political groups but were minimized or ignored due to alleged or highly emphasized violations of human rights.

In the case of Gaddafi, Nelson Mandela is on record saying that he felt Gaddafi did more for the freedoms and advancement of the African continent than other any personage. It may in fact be this unifying movement as well as his advocating for an uncoupling from the US dollar and the institution of a common continental currency which made him vile and unacceptable to the US. One should keep in mind that most leaders of populist social equality movements have been opposed, resisted and labeled as terrorist or public enemies. This celebrated list of dangerous individuals who are enemies of the state would include Dr. Martin Luther King, John Lennon, Gandhi as well as Nelson Mandela, and of course the recent list of whistle blowers and people of conscious in our own nation.

The battle to keep US imperialism and its economic and political dominance afloat has been fought both vehemently and violently. The US quickly intervened anytime nations show any signs of adopting measures which foster economic autonomy or an adopting of a more egalitarian system. Since and including Vietnam, and maybe even Korea, our actions have caused nations to become destabilized and politically chaotic often mired in seemingly endless civil war, this list would include at least Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Libya. Our desire to go to war and destabilize nations seems to be planned and intentional as was publicly intimidated by Wesley Clarke on many occasions such as the interview you can watch via the following link.

When your primary goal is to maintain and protect economic hegemony and disparity you literally can’t afford to be kind, charitable, generous or share the bounty of the planet. A few decades ago the thought that we went to war for oil would have been thought of and labeled as crazy conspiracy theory. Yet, today going to war for oil rather than freedom and democracy is accepted and even publicly supported.

It is only logical that a nation which places economic dominance as its primary objective would need to be a participant if not leader in any highly profitable market, especially one whose product is in the hundreds of billions if not trillions of dollars. The arms industry is one example of this size market, and as we all know, despite our shouts of peace, freedom and democracy we are the worlds biggest arms dealer. In fact during the Obama administration our share of the arms market recorded one of its biggest gains.

The international drug trade is another extremely lucrative market. With this in mind it is hard to imagine that the US government could afford to let another nation usurp or even reduce our economic dominance by refusing to engage in the illegal drug trade. As Keenan observed way back in 1948 that the need for the US to “deal in straight power concepts” and not be blinded by sentimental ideology would soon become essential for our continued economic superiority. The economic and resulting political power of the lucrative international drug trade is just too much to avoid through sentimental ideological morality.

With this in mind it would make sense that our two longest wars have been in Vietnam and Afghanistan. In the 60’s the “golden triangle” centered in Vietnam and Laos. The possibility of all that money going to waste our in the hands of communists was probably too much for us to bear, likewise a similar reality was posed by Afghanistan.

Almost every decade a book or two emerge which investigate and try to substantiate the CIA’s active role in managing and monitoring the international drug trade if not being a major direct player in the black market space. Here are a few links which seem to support the logical conclusion that the US is a major if not then major player in the international drug trade. Here are a couple of links which deal with the US and poppy production in Afghanistan.

Opium Cultivation Hits Record High in Afghanistan

Heroin Dealer in Chief. Afghanistan, Source of 90% of The World’s Heroin

Admittedly any direct connection between the CIA or US government and the illegal drug trade is highly speculative. Yet our practical need to not be left out of, or even marginalized in the participation of the enormous profits gleaned by the sellers and purveyors of the global illegal drug market is hard to deny.

It is hard for any argument of our mission being to spread freedom and democracy around the globe to stand up to the reality of our dominance of global arm production and sales, the enforcement of economic sanctions and our initiating of perpetual war around the globe. Economic sanctions seldom impact the ruthless dictators and immoral leaders who routinely kill their own people though brutal torture and chemical weapons. Instead, sanctions, such as the one we inflicted on Iraq kill hundreds of thousands of innocent including children and other non military civilians. Our attacks kill far more people than the atrocities we claim to justify and motivate our military and lethal interventions. The lower estimate of 500,000 Iraqi’s killed through our economic sanctions far out number the total number of people who globally have died due to the actual or even alleged use of “weapons of mass destruction”.

Whether it be a terribly misguided attempt to spread freedom or democracy or because we want to retain our privileged economic position, one thing is indisputable, and that is we have killed millions of people to acquire this objective. The conservative estimate is somewhere between and 20 and 30 million people from over 37 nations (see link below). This 20 t0 30 million people mostly non military or even oppositional to our stated objectives does not include those maimed or seriously injured, which most estimates would expand the pool by a factor of eight resulting in a figure closer to 160 million people. Even that estimate of the human damage and destruction caused by our wars and interventions would not include those additional people who suffered from PTSD for what they saw, their life in a war zone, or the perpetual fear of being in a land where drone attacks are a real possibility.

US Has Killed More Than 20 Million People in 37 “Victim Nations” Since World War II

Many of the themes in this essay were addressed in a slightly different manner in a previous blog that you can read here. http://guidoworld.com/blog/wealth-and-wa…

George Orwell is one of those who expressed deep concerns regarding what happens when economic superiority becomes a nation’s top priority., and their true motives become hidden or denied. Here are a few pertinent quotes.

“War against a foreign country only happens when the moneyed classes think they are going to profit from it.”
“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.”
“The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those that speak it.”

While I feel that our current course is dangerous for all on the planet, I do not feel that we are totally capable of our being able to steer space shift earth in a more healthy life affirming manner. Yet, in order to do so we probably have to “Deep Six the Deep State” as the title of this blog states.

I’ll close with links to a few songs which express my concerns and fears regarding our obsession with war and maintaining economic disparity in a more artistic manner.

What is the Deal?


 https://guido2.bandcamp.com/track/enligh…
 https://guido2.bandcamp.com/track/its-to…

Psychology and Relationships and Social Issues12 Mar 2017 01:14 pm

Skin-on-skin contact is not only essential in infancy, but plays a privileged role in our physical and mental health throughout our lives. A lack of physical contact can lead to increased depression and anxiety as well as being linked to heart disease and many forms of cancer.

While nothing duplicates the biochemical benefits of a rewarding sex life, affection, exercise and social bonding all have measurable physical and psychological rewards. Moments of physical and social comfort and connection reduce one’s stress level and improve one’s view of self and the world at large.

A good deal of live in person human contact and communication has been replaced by indirect and distant forms of interaction via technologies such as the computer and phone. While the amount and frequency of human contact has stagnated or declined the amount and frequency of affection people receive from their pets has increased sharply. It would be safe to say that a great percentage of people now give and receive more affection from cats, dogs and other animals than they do from other humans.

While incredibly rewarding, human affection and interaction, is often very complicated and conflictual. Affection with animals comes easy and has very little strings attached to it. Animals rarely rebuff our attention and affections and are generally available to us at our beckoning.


Continue Reading »

Humor and Relationships and Social Issues10 Jan 2017 02:36 pm

We have become such a devout society. No matter where I go, I see people standing and sitting with their heads slightly bowed as they scan the sacred verses and icons (text and images) on their hand held prayer books. The most devout stay focused on their prayer books while kneeling, walking and in some cases even driving their cars. As darkness approaches their pious faces become bathed in soft eternal light (or as long as their batteries stay charged).

Their eyes and minds stay transfixed on the transcendent realities evoked by what they read and what they see. They are part of a universal community far greater than the mind can comprehend. They are connected to the universe through mind and spirit without the cumbersome limitations of the body and its senses. The faithful, while in prayer, are freed from all of the blasphemous temptations of the profane world and need not fret about its impending demise, or get distracted by its imperfect and fading beauty.

The clergy (Google, Facebook, etc. protect the purity of the message through loving censorship making sure that our (power) lord’s message of the “Good News” stays intact. While we can’t totally overcome our sinful natures and our appetites for actual physical sensorial pleasure, we can remove ourselves from temptation by entering the virtual sacred world of prayer and meditation. We can at least temporarily transcend the wheel of life and its attachments which lead to all human suffering and find calm and peace in the warm embrace of our electronic prayer books and their electronic spirit world of perfection. Virtual reality for faithful is truly a virtuous reality.

Jim Guido

Gender Issues and Relationships and sexuality and Social Issues21 Nov 2016 02:34 pm

Ever since early adolescence I’ve been hormonally constituted to be fascinated, mesmerized, entranced, intoxicated, infatuated and enthralled with the female body. Yet, even before the onset of puberty I found myself drawn to girls in the arena of personal relationships and intimate connection.

When it came to the realm of physical activity comprised of running, jumping, tackling and working together as a team I totally preferred the company of boys. In adolescence, in terms of intellectual, scientific and philosophical discourse I once again preferred the company of men.

Yet, what mattered to me most was how to maximize the quality of personal experience through consistently deriving joy form both body and mind. The time and energy, care and devotion, women spent processing their thoughts and feelings regarding their relationship with others as well as themselves I found highly captivating and fulfilling. In many ways this processing of relationship became the core of my definition of intimacy, and intimacy became the center of both the way I lived in the world and how I found meaning and fulfillment in life.

My love affair with the female body and feminine personality were not relegated to a specific type or ideal. The female body and the many varied ways woman had of processing their thoughts and feelings I found endlessly stimulating and refreshing. They were the fruit that I longed to savor and desire whether they be peach, plum, watermelon, pomegranate, grape or berry.

Despite enjoying the cornucopia of the pleasures offered through their intimate company, I never had a problem being loyal and devoted to any woman willing to match my intensity and devotion to intimate sharing. Every visceral, sensual, emotional and intellectual experience of my life became richer and more fulfilling when shared with a partner. I always felt it a touching privilege to be included in the processing ritual that forms the basis of most feminine relationships.

In activities I preferred the company of men, and in conversation and relationships I preferred the company of women. Viewing and experiencing the female life style as having more options and freedoms I greatly envied the female role in society. In the early 60’s the women’s movement with its emphasis on improving the quality of life, consciousness raising, respect for all human life and maximizing one’s experience of love and intimate relationships filled me with hope. I felt that men were imprisoned by work and oppressed by bosses and gender expectations.

Life in the Sixties

I grew up in a town where the great majority of men worked in factories and/or held down two or more jobs in order to make ends meet allowing their wives to stay home and provide the children with a safe and loving environment. Though this wasn’t always the reality, it did fit most of the lower middle class and middle class homes with which I was familiar.

A man’s life, I was often told, and as it appeared to me, centered around three things, duty, sacrifice and alienation. Duty and sacrifice were often spoken of with a sense of pride and purpose. Alienation was talked about in pop psychology, talk shows, the theater and in political messages espoused by unions, marxist and socialist groups, the intelligentsia, and dramatic plays. Death of A Salesman was probably the most powerful play I saw on TV during my childhood, and my father’s frustration, anger and depression seemed to bore testament to his sense of alienation.

My dad was so often very absent and emotionally damaged by his war experience. He would occasionally wake up from nightmares wailing and speaking in Italian in very anxious tones. I have no memory of him speaking to me let alone doing an activity with me, and even when punishing us with belts and switches he never made physical contact with us.

My dad often worked two jobs during my developmental years. My mom, while a busy homemaker, was able to work according to her own schedule and found time to engage in joys during the day such as watching her favorite TV programs and visit neighborhood friends. When I was three and four years old and my brother and sister were at school I had my best times with my mother (who had her own volatility and mental health issues). I would listen to my mom talk to herself and to the TV programs, and I often accompanied her as she walked or traveled by bus to visit friends. My mom loved to cook and the aromas of childhood were dominated by the nurturing smells of food that lingered in the house for hours.

When I was eight my mom decided that she was no longer needed in the home full time and she began to work. My sister, then fourteen, was asked to help out with the cooking and cleaning. and my brother and I were expected to maintain our rooms and make our own breakfast and lunch. My dad’s only objection was that it would make him look incompetent and a failure at providing for his family. Yet, he quickly adjusted to having more free time and not having the entire financial burden placed upon himself.

Since the late 70’s and early 80’s it has been fashionable to focus on how reluctant men are to help out around the house when their spouse goes to work. While this was true in my dad’s case it was also true that when my dad worked two jobs my mom did not help out or take on any of the traditional male tasks. In addition to working anywhere from sixty to eighty hours a week, my dad took care of the lawn, cleaned the gutters, put up screens and storm windows, and did most of the strenuous outdoor activity. Though not good with his hands he fixed all broken items in the home, for we had no money to hire out for professional or trade services. In essence none of this division of labor changed no matter how many hours of work my dad did each week, or when my mom took on an outside job.

I was mot enamored with the male role which I not only experienced in my family but witnessed in pretty much every home in our factory town. While I often saw and talked to my friends mothers, their fathers were generally not present or when present they were busy doing some chore or task. It is true that the men went to clubs and belonged to social organizations, but they usually were dominated by drinking and for group protection and alliances in the labor, religious and political arenas. The handful of times I accompanied my dad to these functions I found them generally bereft of amy intimate conversation though at times there was bonding via humor, story telling and rallying against common enemies or concerns.

Intellectually stimulating conversation was difficult to come by in my youth, and I sought and established friendships with peers who were interested in and willing to engage in thoughtful and intimate conversation. Rarely was I present in a home in which the parents demonstrate a vested interest in their child’s and their child’s friends thought and feelings. The exception to this was my Jewish friends whose families engaged in interesting and thought provoking conversation.

Years of Social Change

I couldn’t relate to my mom’s sense of being bored and having too much free time which greatly influenced her decision to go to work. Shortly after my mom went to work the women’s movement became a part of the mainstream social discussion. I found the entire movement quite encouraging and it gave me hope that men, and not only women, would be able to seek a better quality of life. The early dialogue in the women’s movement focused on quality of life issues such as consciousness raising, intimate relationship, self-discovery and finding and engaging in activities which improved and fulfilled oneself infusing their life with a sense of joy and meaning.

In my junior high years a feminist mom of one of my classmates initiated monthly assemblies where we would listen and discuss important social issues such as the war, poverty, the good society, and how to find meaning in one’s life. I was convinced that the women’s movement was going to free both men and women by providing everyone with options and replacing labor and sacrifice with intimacy and personal growth.

Shortly before I graduated high school the focus of the women’s movement turned towards the economic freedom of having jobs and careers and turned away from quality of life issues. I felt betrayed as the movement abandoned self-actualization and intimacy and replaced by an obsession with joining the workforce and receive equal pay. I could not fathom why women would aspire to live in the world that so many men experienced as a repressive prison. Why would anyone who was seeking intimacy and a better quality of life make alienating labor its core goal?

In my eyes the humanist and feminist goal of creating a society fostering human fulfillment and self-actualization was being replaced by everyone being imprisoned by a life dominated by alienating and stifling labor.

Honoring Everyone’s Sexual Nature

In the fist couple of paragraphs I discussed how I was drawn to and desired to be intimate with the female body and value system. Data and conversations I had with my male friends amply demonstrated that I was not alone with this visceral, emotional and psychological attraction to women. The male sex drive is a powerful hormonal tempest that often dominates many men from puberty well on into adulthood. Sexual desire and the desire to have an intimate relationship with a woman is hard wired into the average heterosexual male.

We have come a long way in terms of understanding, accommodating and sometimes even celebrating the complex biological and hormonal feminine world. The bulk of men and women understand that the hormonal premenstrual changes in the average female influence mood, emotional tenor as well as sensual sensitivities and thought process. We also have begun to understand and accommodate the hormonal and emotional changes engendered during peri-menopause. Only a small portion of people would consider the emotional, physical and psychological changes to be a matter of choice, or a personal problem and handicap. While the hormonal changes are not experienced by everyone in the same manner and intensity, we would not say that they are fictitious or something a woman just needs to overcome.

We also have come a long way in realizing that sexual orientation, identity and sexual appetites are less about choice and more about biochemistry and genetics. One does not choose to be gay anymore than one chooses to be heterosexual.

We have much data regarding the harms caused when one suppresses, denies, or resents their sexual identity and preferences. Depression and even suicide are common reactions to sexual repression, yet often it can also lead to perversion, aggression, and physically harming self and others. There are numerous biochemical and emotional benefits for those who live a healthy and rewarding sex life. The sense of joy and connection not only benefits one’s self-esteem, but also improves one’s personal health, psychological perspective and ability to feel and express compassion.

The heterosexual sex drive is just as biological and inherent as that of gays, lesbians and transgenders. It is just as vital for heterosexual men to have their biological imperatives honored. Similar emotional, psychological and social problems emerge when the male sex drive is repressed, prohibited, suppressed and demonized and when men are told to overcome and transcend their sex drive through will power.

There is a tendency in the feminist narrative to decry the male sex drive in a host of negative frames. The male sex drive objectifies females. The male sex drive is often equated with a male need for power and control. The unrefined (non repressed) male sex drive leads towards violence and aggression. The negative bias towards the male sex drive includes feelings that for a man to be sexually healthy he need to curb his sex drive and become in touch with his feminine side.

While we have acknowledged the ill effects of long term suppression, denial and repression of one’s sexual identify, desires and appetites with the LGBT populations we have generally ignored or at least minimized the effects of repression and rejection on the emotional and psychological health of the heterosexual male. It has been rather common knowledge that from the onset of puberty through a sizable portion of adulthood the average heterosexual male’s life is frequently dominated by sexual thoughts, desires, urges and fantasies. Decades of scientific research have identified many of the hormonal and biochemical processes which render sexual intercourse a biological imperative for a great portion of adolescents and men.

The average adolescent and young adult male’s life being dominated by sexual impulses is also dominated by feelings of rejection and repression in that the goal of their daily and hourly impulses are denied and rebuffed. Is it any wonder that many men who have spent the greater portion of their adolescent and adult life being rejected and often vilified for their “preoccupation” with sex have a hard time staying emotionally invested and engaged?

One’s sexuality and sexual nature is core to both one’s self-concept and satisfaction in life. One’s sense of joy, pleasure, intimacy and meaning is highly impacted by and structured in one’s sexual sensibilities. The appreciation, understanding, compassion for an individual’s sexuality and sexual identity is just as important for heterosexual males as it is for any other sexual preference and identity.

All people and genders are negatively impacted by repression and suppression in any arena including that of sex drive and identity. The list of ways in which these repressions and suppressions manifest themselves is quite lengthy and would include various forms of active and passive aggression, inhibitions, perversions, obsessions and compulsions. Accommodating and helping people’s sexual natures find healthy expression and satiatIon benefits all and leads to better mental and physical health.

I am particularly distressed by the growing feminist perspective that many men are being labeled misogynists. The hormonal biochemistry of the heterosexual male sex drive is not based on hatred, but on attraction, intimacy, desire, passion, connection and devotion. Anger, hatred, abuse and violence are more often the products of repression, suppression, rejection, denial and desperation.

The male sex drive has been the core of all that I cherish and gives meaning to my life. It it what propels me towards finding intimate relationships with others. The biochemistry of sexual fulfillment and orgasm, is central to my experience of pleasure, beauty, passion, empathy, joy and intimacy. Yet, these marvels of being human have often come from my ability to withstand the censure and negative bias of a repressive society that tries to have me deny or transcend my sexual desires. I look about me and do not find many other males who have been able to embrace their sexual natures in a personally fulfilling manner. The road to personal happiness and social harmony is best navigated by understanding and compassion and not with anger, prohibition, and intolerance. The male sex drive is in dire need of a bit of compassion and understanding, and the potential benefits in terms of social harmony are hard to overestimate.

 

Philosophy and Psychology10 Oct 2016 04:05 pm

Let’s begin by breaking down an experience into its simplest parts. All events are not experiences. The difference between an event and an experience is that an event needs to be accompanied by at least a modicum of awareness for it to become an experience. Therefore:

Event + Awareness = Experience

There are many levels and means of being aware. As humans we are not only aware of our environment but also possess a self-awareness. While there is emerging data that supports the fact we are not the only sentient beings with a nascent sense of themselves, it is generally accepted that our level of self-awareness is unparalleled in the animal kingdom. Our complex and highly articulate use of language is the medium through which our heightened form of self-consciousness seems to most reside. Therefore, we could use this observation to modify our above formula of experience to:

Sensorial perception + Self-consciousness = Experience or

Sentience + Thought = Experience

Yet, even this expanded formula for experience leaves out an important element of human experience. While the definition of sentience involves both feeling and perceiving, the feeling aspect of sentience is usually more literal in that we sensorial feel things rather than emotionally feel things. Yet, for humans the emotional aspect of feeling is an important if not essential element of our experience. So, our expanded formula for human experience should be:

Sentience + Thought + Emotion/Feeling = Experience

You may wonder why I included feelings along with emotions, that is because I make a distinction between feelings and emotions. Feelings are often more a part of our sentient self falling below the level of awareness of the self-conscious ego. Feeling can be viewed as a general attitudinal background for our experiences. We may feel safe, calm, relaxed, agitated, irritated, or anxious without necessarily being consciously aware of this underlying state.

Emotions, on the other hand, are generally more conscious reactions to these underlying feelings or a reactive response to others or events in our environment. As an example someone who is feeling uncomfortable may be more susceptible to becoming angry or harsh with others. While feelings are what we viscerally feel, emotions are literally what we emote.

Each of the above elements of our experience equation provides some richness and fullness that the other lacks or cannot provide. A rich maximized experience would be more than a thought in our head, or an emotion of our heart but a total integration of body, heart and mind or as our equation states an integration of sentience (sensorial perception), thought and emotion.

Often when walk, drive a car or engage in any habitual activity we go on a form of auto-pilot in which we act and function without necessarily being self-consciously aware of what we are doing. We usually have enough awareness to not run into another car, or not fall or hurt ourselves as we make adjustments to minor changes in the terrain such as curbs, tree roots, parking meters as we mindlessly walk along a new or unfamiliar landscape.

Yet, functioning on remote control, while functional, is far from maximizing our experience. Likewise, if I’m absorbed in petty thoughts regarding a huge list of things I plan on doing in the future while at that moment being disconnected from the food I’m eating or the scenery I’m walking along, I am once again far from engaging in my experience in a rich and fulfilling manner. Even deep and challenging thoughts can be a little thin in the experience department if not accompanied by poignant feelings and sensorial context.

It would seem obvious that fulfilling experience is more likely when it integrates all elements of human experience, and does so with each element open full throttle. The old image of an engine maximizing its speed potential by using all of it cylinders seems apt. So does the image of filling the bathtub through fully opening up all three faucets of sentience, thought and emotion.

It is important to keep in mind that more isn’t alway better. While full use of one’s thoughts, senses and perception, and feelings and emotions increases our potential for personal fulfillment and rich experience, it does not necessarily maximize our experience or produce lasting joy. Such cellular joy comes when one acts in a life affirming manner and remains sensitive to one’s personal wants and needs.

Despite the apparent obviousness that an exhaustive use of our mind, heart and body is better able to produce rich and full experience, this expansive approach towards happiness and fulfillment runs counter to millennia of human experience. A great deal of human history focused on reduction rather than expansion and the vestiges of that tendency still dominate modern society and its methods to live a meaningful and happy life.

The expansionist and reductionist ways of dealing with human experience both seem to be present in the life of early man. Earliest records show that man often did not feel to be the author of his own thoughts and feelings. More often than not even the most basic thought and feeling was considered to be a gift or curse of the gods. Early man often desired to flee this fragile sense of self by partaking in ceremonies and rituals whose goal was to achieve ecstasy, which literally meant to get beyond oneself. Despite this goal the ceremonies themselves were often expansive and integrative. One reached the ecstatic state, through chanting, dance, and participating in or observing emotionally and meaning laden operatic parts. While the participants routinely testified to reaching a unified state beyond individuality, they did retain enough awareness to experience this supposed state of fusion.

Yet, the tendency towards reducing experience was also present in the desire to make a distinction between the sacred and the profane, or the exceptional and the mundane. According to this viewpoint life was inherently meaningless or even sinful, and one’s only hope of finding solace and significance was through making contact with the holy or the sacred.

This need to transcend suffering, uncover the great mysteries of life, and create order out of chaos became the central goal of the majority of cultures and societies. Through time it became increasingly necessary to divorce oneself from some aspects or elements of human experience in order to uncover eternal truths, avoid sin, or obtain salvation or eternal life.

Many of our disciplines became very disparaging and mistrustful of our body and its sensory perceptions and emotions. Plato viewed physical and perceptual life as a deceptive illusion feeling that truth and perfection were found instead in ideas, ideals and concepts. Science likewise felt subjectivity and naive perception were obstacles to the acquiring of the underlying mathematically perfect laws that house absolute Truth. Scientific objectivity was acquired by reducing, stripping away, and isolating variables. Religion, spiritualism and mysticism likewise rejected the tangible and the beauty of human experience replacing it with transcendence, essence, spirit and alternate realities. Even the classical arts sought to find the skeleton of truth by reducing our experience to the mathematics of pure form and attempting to find the true laws of idyllic beauty.

This is not to say that the above reductionist tendency was a complete mistake or itself an illusion. Yet, the negative attitude towards integrated human experience, was often unnecessary and has had many unfortunate consequences. The important fact that each time the scientific method found human perception to be illusionary or false, it was corrected by another human perception is often missed. What was gained by objectivity and reductionism was somewhat nullified by the danger of our disrespecting and vilifying our emotional and sensorial world. When spirit and mathematical Truth is all that matters than it become increasingly less important to not poison the air, water and land, or where war, torture, rape and the quality of life of each sentient being becomes inconsequential or the means by which the good defeats evil.

Knowledge, wisdom and intimacy all involve the ability to see and feel things from a multitude of perspectives. We learn much when we reduce and focus our vision when using a microscope and we also often benefit by expanding our vision telescopically to see the big picture. Yet, joy is an expansive experience, and maximizing one’s experience is best accomplished by savoring and integrating all the elements of human experience. The human body is no less a marvel than the mind, and feelings are the spice of life without which joy is impossible. The body feels pleasure, the heart feels joy and the mind feels wonder, such is the incredible beauty of being human and the expansive full range of human experience.

Jim Guido

Art and Music and Relationships13 Aug 2016 09:28 am

Album Release and The Art of Living:

People attain a sense of meaning and purpose in their life through a variety of means. An abbreviated list of ways would include: tasks and accomplishments, thought and ideas, experience and emotions, faith and belief, and events and adventures. The way we derive meaning, joy and satisfaction from our lives could be referred to as the Art of Living.

I advocate for an approach which attempts to maximize the moment by integrating sensorial, visceral, emotional, conceptual and psychological elements as often as possible. Both experience and logic seem to verify that such well rounded and comprehensiveness provides our lives with much depth, richness and satisfaction.

While everyone is free to find what best works for them I must admit a sense of wariness and fear when people employ methods that emphasize mind, spirit and consciousness at the expense of dismissing, ignoring, devaluing and sometimes demonizing the body and sensorial life.

If we lived in a global community that was life affirming all personal preferences would be safe and acceptable. Yet, when our and all of organic life’s continued existence is threatened through war, intolerance, etc. the respect for and valuing of physical organic life becomes essential. The less one values and appreciates our bodies and tangible organic life, the more likely it becomes that we will engage in or tolerate actions which harm and destroy organic life. The more the body and the world is a burden, obstacle, temptation, illusion or thing to transcend the less likely we are vigilantly insure its survival.

My music and lyrics are a major way in which I personally grow and find meaning in life. It is also the means by which I try to have a positive impact on the quality of life of others as well as have a life affirming influence on the world as a whole. I, therefore, greatly appreciate your taking the time to listen to my songs, and ask that you introduce and share it with others.

So, here are 2 songs from my latest release Go!
Below for those who are interested is a little insight into how I create music and write songs.
Just tap on links immediately below and enjoy!

 https://guido2.bandcamp.com/track/feelin…
 https://guido2.bandcamp.com/track/carniv…

To read lyrics and listen to songs from all currently released albums go to:

 https://guido2.bandcamp.com/music

Just tap on any album cover and go from there.

Me and my music

Occasionally when writing a song I’ll start with an image, or a phrase and then find a couple of chords which fit. Yet, the vast majority of the time I start with a totally clean slate and play chords on the guitar (or piano) until they create a distinct emotional environment.

Out of this musical mood/environment a tentative vocal line emerges. After singing nonsense words for hours over a number of days, the song usually coalesces into a few distinct musical sections with their own chord patterns. Then the dance between actual words and melody lines begins to happen which shapes the length and order of each section, verse and refrain,

My entire songwriting process is extremely organic and as reflexive as speech or driving a car. I usually enter a kind of emotional trance state trusting that words will come to me which elicit and evoke what I’m feeling. In many ways I experience the bulk of the process as me listening and paying attention to my emotional and sentient body. While my ego does help in the decision process by and large my ego spends its time trying to listen and portray what I’m feeling.

Songwriting is a form of personal therapy in which I learn about me as I create. I often find that the longer I sit with my original lyrics the more comfortable I become with them making it unnecessary to make many changes or alterations. While words serve many purposes in my lyrics I find a certain hierarchy of preferences. I most often use words to evoke and elicit an experience or mood, next I prefer words that express, after that comes words that articulate and my least favorite lyrics are those that explain.
I would learn little about myself if I all that I created was managed or filtered through my self-conscious ego. The learning of myself comes after a songs completion when i reflect on and savor what I’ve created.

Ironically, I find that my music is easiest for people to enjoy if they start first by reading the lyrics and my liner notes. In this way most people find a way to appreciate the mood and intensity of the music. Most modern music is a consumable, while my songs are more art than easily digestible sound.

I seldom find music that moves me more than that which arises out of me. I feel that my music speaks and shares many aspects of myself in an intimate and powerful fashion. I invite you to viscerally enter my world and inspires you to further explore yours and maybe even motivates you to share with me some of your reactions and experiences.

Jim Guido

Ecology and Philosophy and Social Issues20 Apr 2016 09:28 am

Here are a few themes from early philosophy, science and religion which continue to influence our beliefs, attitudes and assumptions regarding truth, meaning and the nature of human existence.

Early philosophers such as Plato desired to anchor knowledge and meaning in the impermeable and eternal. While human experience was transitory and unstable ideas and concepts were true, fixed and universally valid. According to this view point ideas are real and valid while tangible objects are imperfect and relatively insignificant copies of reality.

The superiority of form and essence over the world of sensations and subjective perception was also found in the pure science of mathematics. Perfection, precision and universal law were revealed in the pure form of number and geometry. Certainty, truth, natural/universal law, and objective knowledge were attainable not through sensorial human experience but in revealing the underlying immutable form obtained through math.

All hard sciences from astronomy, to physics to medicine acquired objective knowledge and certainty in the realms of math and universal law which lay outside the subjective realms of sensation and perception. Truth, certainty and immutable fact were the sole property of pure form and essences garnered though math and objective experimentation, while human experience was deceptive at best if not entirely illusionary.

The belief that all human sensorial, emotional and perceptual experience was an illusion was fundamental to most spiritual practices such as Buddhism as well as a core tenet of the major salvation religions. All truth and certainty existed in the sacred and ideal space which lay underneath or beyond human experience. Pure knowledge, truth, certainty and universal law were acquired in the esoteric sacred worlds carved out by religion, philosophy and science.

Enlightenment, salvation and eternal life were attainable to only those brave, disciplined and clever enough to not become attached or deceived by the transitory sensorial world of mundane experience. The world of human experience was deemed an empty illusion bound to be dominated by physical and emotional pain and suffering haunted by the inevitability of death.

The denigration of human experience by making it an illusion, something to transcend or a necessary obstacle to gain access to truth, certainty and immortality carries with it many important ramifications and repercussions. The acquisition of certainty, truth and universal law through the creation of ideal and sacred space comes at a severe cost.

Through math and the scientific method we have satisfied our quest for certainty and truth by discovering and proving the immutable laws which govern our planet and the entire universe. These efficient laws of cause and effect determine that each and action and event have an opposite and equal reaction. So what might appear on the surface as novel or by chance is only an illusion fostered by our inability to see more than a sliver of reality. Yet, according to universal law there is no chance occurrence and every event is predetermined by the immutable laws of cause and effect.

When logically implemented this means that not only is every action I take just a link in the causal chain of the universe, but so is every thought I have or emotion that I experience since they are indeed events that occur inside of the universal frame work. In a world of universal law and cause and effect any perception of individual action, creation or choice is a complete subjective fiction.

The quest for certainty is just as strong in the realms of philosophy and religion as it is in the sciences. The idea of a perfect god or intelligent agent which created the universe is extremely common. It is the nature of a perfect god to create all that is good and perfect. Thus creation must to be perfect, immutable and follow a specific destiny.

It is, therefore, not surprising that most religions have the initial creation being perfect and ideal such as the garden of Eden. The one variable allowed in the realm of religion is that man was created with a free will. So while man was born in harmony with god, he had the ability think on his own. Yet, since god was all good the only way man was able to demonstrate his freedom was to willfully do other than god. Yet, if god is perfect any deviation from his ways would be imperfect and wrong and, therefore, a sin.

In essence the only way man could distinguish himself from god and exercise the gift of free will was to sin and be cast out of the perfect garden and live a live filled with suffering, pain and death. From that moment of original sin on, the entire goal of human existence was to try to seek god’s forgiveness and regain eternal life by subjugating himself to the will of god.

The quest for certainty, immortality and perfection is often born of man’s fear of death and the desire to escape pain and suffering. In philosophy and spirituality one is often guided to transcend the harsh reality of life and to take refuge into his underlying perfect essence. While one can’t prevent the body from pain, suffering and death one can transcend the illusion of the sensorial experience finding solace in enlightenment or place all their focus on their inner immutable and immortal essence, soul, mind or spirit.

While much of the above is no longer explicitly stated many of our beliefs, assumptions and attitudes towards ourselves and the world in general are highly influenced by the tacit vestiges of our need to find meaning in life through truth, certainty, and absolutes. Though for many of us human existence is no longer synonymous with pain and suffering, we still feel a need to find meaning and solace in transcendental realities and universal truths, which marginalize and often demonize our sensorial perceptual subjective experience.

No matter how comfortable and pleasurable our sensorial world, we still have a tendency to view it as an illusion or an empty seduction. The abstract immutable world of spirit, mind, consciousness and soul are still considered by most to be both separate from the body and immutable and immortal. This being the case we still place little value on the importance and significance of physical and sensorial pleasure, in comparison to that of ideals, beliefs, absolutes, concepts and transcendental realities.

This could at least partially explain why we show little regard for the physical, emotional, psychological welfare of those who do not believe as we do. The general disregard for the physical body also explains why we so readily pollute our water, air and land despite all the evidence of its harm on our health, quality of life and physical survival.

We are children of Plato when we revere and glorify ideas and abstract thought as more important and essential than the care and protection of the human body and all its sensorial experiences. Our obsession with mind, spirit and pure consciousness is very harmful when it is divorced from its connection to and dependence on the physical body.

An integrated view of human life finds joy and happiness in the perceptual, emotional, visceral and psychological realms of human experience. Rather than transcending the body we can delight in embracing our humanity. Rather than looking for immutable truth which renders life predestined and predetermined, we can enjoy the human potential to discover, invent, learn and process.

Eternal truth and universal law provide ultimate meaning and immortality at the expense of the value and richness of an individual whose choices and joys are truly real, valuable and self-determined. I do not find what is abstractly gained through Truth, Certainty and Universal Law to be greater than what it is lost by becoming a predestined creature whose every action is just the unfolding of a fated script written either by god’s will or the law of cause and effect.

The choice isn’t between Certainty and Chaos, or complete order and randomness. Our existence is an extremely nuanced blend of givens and possibilities. There are basic laws of nature expressed as limits and conditions such as my need for oxygen to breathe, or that I will die without food and water. We know that genetics as well as naturally occurring events can exert varying amounts of influence in our moment-to-moment thoughts, feelings and decisions.

Humanity’s current self-destructive path seems to be fueled by our blatant disregard of the importance, significance and beauty of sensorial/perceptual life. The more we accept the fact that matter matters, that our bodies and our environment are central to all our experiences of joy, pleasure, love and meaning, the more dedicated when can become to sustaining and improving the quality of life of all organic life.

Philosophy and Psychology and Relationships17 Feb 2016 09:06 am

The following is the introduction from my book Exploring Intimacy which can be accessed by clicking on the words tab. The entire book is available for your perusal and I would love to hear your thoughts on it.

INTRODUCTION

Throughout most of my life there has been an attitudinal thread running through me. All my thoughts, actions and feelings have come together to form one unified view of life. This unified view forms the basis of my theory of intimacy.

This theory tends to all the major questions of life including, what is love, where do I find meaning, how can I be happy, and how can I derive the most from my moment to moment experiences?

The basic views outlined in this book were initially formed as early as high school but began to take shape and become organized in my early twenties. Since then I have been pleasantly surprised to see how my earliest intuitions have been validated through all I have read and experienced throughout the years.

While other people I knew created their ideal world around religious beliefs, love, faith, or psychological/philosophical schools of thought, I instead found myself drawn to a very practical way of looking at and appreciating my experiences. This attitude soon found a name, that being intimacy.

In my life intimacy has been more than a catch word or a vague feeling, for me it is a basic orientation towards life. It is what motivates and propels me towards the future. This book is an introduction to the very program of my existence.

In a society as fast paced and media oriented as ours a word or idea can become popular very quickly. The term intimacy, seldom used before the late sixties, has become quite fashionable over the last few decades. Once the sole property of poets and a gentile substitute for more direct sexual descriptions, intimacy is now a term used by almost everyone.

References to intimacy are common in magazines, novels, and self-help books. Psychiatrists, psychologists and many other therapeutic professionals refer to human intimacy in almost everything they say. Radio and television talk shows donate entire programs to the discussion of the relative merits of intimacy. Instead of talking politics, or exchanging local gossip, friends now often evaluate the amount of intimacy in their lives, or discuss the “intimate” details of their latest relationship.

Intimacy is most often described as something desired and desirable. Many individuals and therapists make intimacy a goal, something to attain which will enrich one’s life. Yet, like many popular terms, the meaning of intimacy is taken for granted. We use the term like we all know what it means. Seldom does anyone ever define the term, and if so they usually do it in a demeaning way, (as if only an insensitive moron would not know the meaning of the word).

The lack of a clear definition is occasionally recognized as a problem. Yet, instead of providing a definition of what intimacy is, people generally choose to end the confusion by stating what it is not. A common example of this would be that sexual intimacy is not just having sex.

Sex, though a popular form of intimacy, is not the only recognized area of intimacy. One often hears of people “hiding their most intimate secrets”, or sharing their “most intimate dreams”. Desire, love, religious piety, personal beliefs and dreams are all viewed as being proper arenas of intimacy.

What is the beauty of intimacy which makes it such an attractive and desired element in our lives? Why are people who claim to have found and attained intimacy in their lives envied and doubted? Why and how has intimacy become a litmus test for personal happiness, and a pre-requisite for achieving self-fulfillment?

These questions lead us to reconsider our perceptions of intimacy, and our views of someone considered to be an intimate person. Though we function under no clear definition of intimacy we do have some pretty strong ideas of the type of people leading intimate lives.

An intimate person is viewed as being open, caring and sensitive, able to see and work on the shortcomings in himself, while recognizing and openly complimenting the strengths of others. An intimate person accepts and gives love without strings being attached and is devoted to those he loves. Women are generally viewed as being more inclined towards intimacy, and often complain about the boorish nature of men and their inability to even appreciate intimacy let alone live it.

The preceding sketchy outline of an intimate person may seem a bit narrow and idealized, but that is what happens when we do not define terms we use. Love, like intimacy, is a word we have trivialized and trampled to death. Yet, the short amount of time we have abused the term intimacy allows us an opportunity to restore the dignity the word deserves.

Intimacy, like love, is much more than a word like boat which names a specific object. Intimacy is a concept articulating an entire stance towards life. Also like love, it is a force we desire to engulf our lives, a worthy goal of the human spirit.

In Exploring Intimacy, we will not only define intimacy, but explore it. We will look at how our current views of intimacy were formed and how this view could shape and be altered by our future. Most importantly we will try to become intimate with intimacy itself, we will look at it, sniff it, and devour each tasty morsel it has to offer.
We will see how our desire to be intimate pervades every aspect of our lives and potentially influences each individual thought we have or action we take. Our investigation into intimacy will involve more than a discussion of sexual relationships, or even friendships in general. Our exploration will be into all relationships we have, including those we have with ourselves, nature, spirituality, art and knowledge.

Leading an intimate life is a never ending task, complex and challenging. No one person’s life is devoid of intimacy. Nor is anyone’s life unable to be made more intimate. The more we know about a specific subject or object the more intimate we can become with that person or thing. Intimacy is infinite because there is no limit to the number of ways we can view even the most mundane object. In this book intimacy will be found to be a pervasive force and an on-going approach at the very heart of human experience.

Economics and Government and Politics and Social Issues13 Oct 2015 07:14 pm

Wealth is not so much about how much money and assets you have but rather how much money and assets you have in comparison to others. In essence, wealth is about how big of a piece of the pie you possess.

The recent money printing mania of central banks has deeply distorted our concept of wealth. Over the last decade or so the size of the pie (money pool) has quintupled yet the majority of people’s wages and assets have stagnated or have grown at a moderate pace.

What this means is that if you’re personal wealth hasn’t ballooned by 500% over the last decade your relative wealth has decreased. If your savings have stayed pretty much the same it means that you are 1/5 as wealthy as you were a decade ago. Actually if one figures in the rise in inflation of food, energy, medical care and other necessities your wealth has plummeted even if your numerical wealth has doubled or even tripled.

Economic data suggests that as many as 20% of US citizens were experiencing expanding relative wealth in the early 80’s. Those treading water or enjoying a larger share of the pie fell to under 10% within a decade. The next decade saw the percentage of people’s wealth increasing drop to 5% and then down to 2%. Since the last financial crisis in 2008, the percentage of people enjoying a boost in relative wealth has gone from the infamous “one percent” to a fraction approaching 1/10 of one percent.

So even in the glory days of the middle class well over 50% of US citizens were experiencing a decline in relative wealth. Yet, due to advances in medicine and technology statistics supported the idea that the US and European middle class were experiencing a rise in their quality of life.

The standard of living and quality of life of a sizable percentage of people can actually rise even while their relative wealth declines. This can occur due to substantial improvements in technology and medicine along with the empire sharing the spoils with its citizens. The US shared the wealth it obtained through global dominance with its allies and citizens. Consumer based capitalism rewarded its citizens and foreign backers and participants with increased access to its riches, even as the percentage of wealth continued to shift into fewer and fewer hands.

Yet, over the last couple of decades and especially since the last financial crisis the tendency for the US government and financial elite to share the bounty is on the decline. A consumer based society needed a sizable portion of the populace to participate as consumers and producers of goods and services and also to function as soldiers to insure the continued expansion of global domination (both militarily and economically).

Recent economic events and technological advances have now lessened the need for a sizable portion of US citizens to be consumers, producers and soldiers. Our vaunted consumer based society is now being replaced by a financial instrument economy. Please read my previous post http://guidoworld.com/blog/the-post-indu… to gain a better understanding of the logistics of this new economy and how it frees the financial elite from its dependency on US citizens for its continued progress and success.

The US’s position as the reigning superpower is dependent on its retaining its financial and military domination. Any set back in its relative wealth is a threat to its privileged and dominating position. The US cannot just maintain its wealth to insure its dominance, but it must continue to increase its market share and piece of the global economic pie. Any drop in the percentage of global wealth it experiences results in a loss of global dominance. Wherever money and asset ownership exists, the US “cannot afford” not to participate and be a leader.

In order to remain the dominant superpower our government and its patrons must do everything in their power to maximize profits. One does not maximize profits through just tolerating and taxing lucrative illegal or immoral practices and markets. In order to maximize profits it is logically necessary to not only participate and establish a presence in economic boons such as black market trade, but to establish and maintain a commanding position. Likewise, one does not remain the dominant economic superpower by refusing to participate in the largest and most lucrative industries and marketplaces due to ethics and morals.

When one’s goal is an ever increasing state of wealth through maximizing profits and increasing market share it becomes imperative that you maintain access to “free markets” and that you dominate all lucrative marketplaces available. The bulk of our military actions make sense when viewed from this perspective. We go to war, use economic sanctions and intervene in the political world of other nations (regime change) all in an effort to gain access to potentially lucrative resources and markets or to establish a dominant position in an industry.

So while we trumpeted our defense of democracy and values such as freedom, in reality our privileged position was acquired and is maintained by the expanding acquisition and ownership of assets, resources and money. Britain in its heyday did not shy away from admitting that it went to war with China over the free trade of opium as well as other producing promising great profits.

Modern empires have used piracy, bullying, intimidation, manipulation and deception in order to acquire and maintain the monopolization of assets and resources. Nations which refused to participate were demonized, punished and often vanquished, whatever it took to increase market share and profits. The US has not deviated from this game plan, even if they try to hide this reality. When US leaders speak of taking aggressive actions against other nations to protect US interests, stakes and way of life it is far more accurate than when they say they are defending freedom and democracy. Unless, of course, they are referring to the freedom of gaining access and control of the assets and resources of others and that when they say democracy they mean capitalism (as our way of life).

We have generally opposed anyone who refused to participate in our exploitive profit based global economy or who wished to share the wealth with its citizenry. We labeled and demonized anyone behaving in this way as being a communist, socialist, terrorist, or as an evil and destructive zealot. A nation who nationalized its oil or attempted to use its resources to benefit its citizens while isolating itself from the US was sure to be invaded, attacked, have its government removed or have their assets frozen and be saddled with economic sanctions.

In general there are two basic national or cultural camps which resist or refuse to participate in “our (capitalistic) way of life” or prevent us from gaining access to their assets and resources. One camp would include any society promoting an egalitarianism such as socialists and communists. The second camp would be those who object to capitalism because of core values such as conservative religions and social activists. Most major religions have basic tenets which promote charity, succor and support to the less fortunate and are generally intolerant of exploitive and selfish economic practices. The very same practices which are often viewed as being inherent in the capitalistic free market system. A subset of these two camps would include entities such as human rights organizations, workers unions, and ecological watchdogs.

Luckily for the US many communists nations went the route of totalitarianism or were able to be guided in that direction which validated our aggressive actions as well as our claims of their being evil and our intentions as being noble. Yet, the social benefits of revolutionaries of the people such as Castro, Chavez and Gaddafi had to be ignored and vilified. Statistics which show great strides made in health care, education, access to technology, quality of life and quality of life are ignored, denied or described as meaningless is comparison to the suffering supposedly caused by these “evil tyrants”. Likewise the leaders of passive resistance and their themes of charity and non exploitation were undermined and labeled terrorists by our government (at least internally). This list would include Mandela, Gandhi, Dr. Martin Luther King as well as many prominent women’s rights and peace advocates.

We have forced our way into every marketplace and resource. Where ever money is made we are there, and we must gain monetary control. We can’t let our morals, ideals and principles be our undoing. While we may deny it, more and more people accept the fact that we go to war to maintain our economic leadership in oil, natural gas and other vital and profitable areas regarding energy. Yet, how long would we stay the economic superpower if our morality and principles prevented us from the billions of dollars available through the selling of munitions, illegal arms and weapons of mass destruction.

Communist nations are by definition opposed to profit based capitalism. So, when a nation becomes communistic or socialistic they no longer conduct themselves in a manner befitting global trade maximizing profit. The US reacts to this non participation aggressively and will go to war, support a coup or try to assassinate leaders who are deemed responsible for this unacceptable economic stance.

Yet, China is currently an example of how even a communist nation can be acceptable to us as long as they keep the channels of commerce open and allow us to exploit their riches in an expanding fashion. Tensions arise whenever China makes a policy decision which jeopardizes are financial role or shows any signs of hoarding their wealth or resources.

During its heyday Britain could not pass on the opportunity to dominate the opium trade. Its status as reigning empire necessitated its gaining access and control of the opium trade. When China successfully intervened and squashed the drug trade and addiction rate in its country, Britain felt it war worthy to reestablish the opium trade.

Just as Britain went to war for opium, the reasons behind our wars and military interventions are economic in origin. As mentioned above, our position as global superpower is dependent on not only maintaining but increasing our market share and piece of the global economic pie. Wherever a sizable market exists we must not only participate in it, but be an increasingly major player.

Vietnam and the surrounding area was known as the “golden triangle” and was responsible for much of the global production of heroin and other illegal “recreational” drugs. When the communists took over the flow of drugs began to slow down, and moral and health concerns became more important than economic ones. The US war in Vietnam succeeded in reestablishing the global drug trade. So, from a strictly economic standpoint the war in Vietnam was a success.

It is fascinating to note that the two longest wars for the US, that being Vietnam and Afghanistan are both illegal drug havens. Over 90% of poppy production evaporated when the Taliban took over and gained control of the land. As soon as the US got involved the poppy production not only returned but went to record levels. The charts of US military presence in Afghanistan and poppy production appear to be the same. Whenever our presence increases so does poppy production and global heroin trade, and when we leave or lose territory to the Taliban the production is curtailed.

While both Vietnam and Afghanistan could just be coincidences it does seem unlikely. We are a capitalistic society that values money, wealth and power over everything else. It is only logical that our policies and behaviors would correspond to this paramount concern. If we didn’t act in this manner than what other explanation is there for how we successfully maintain and increase our economic position. Someone is making the billions of dollars available through illegal drugs, munitions, armaments, pharmaceuticals, tobacco, gambling, prostitution, human slave trade, ecologically destructive practices, etc. and if the US government and its corporate sponsors aren’t leading the way then how do we remain the world economic power?

One only need to look at how we have exploited Central America and “banana republics” to get a picture of how important it is to the US to become and stay dominant in every market place and economic space. I saw an article recently that went through every war the US has participated in since its inception. As it turns out we have been involved in a military conflict or war in over 93% of the time we have been a nation. We have initiated the vast majority of these wars and conflicts.

The above statistic clears demonstrates that the US is more than willing to go to war to “protect our interests”, or to provide us access to and control of global assets. Yet, war is not the only means by which the US accomplishes these goals. Another fruitful means has been through the installation of trading agreements and international pacts of commerce. Agreements such as NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) have been very effective in terms of protecting the rights of major corporations and industries such as banking, pharmaceutical, insurance and oil while expanding their access to foreign markets and assets.

Another tool has been to provide monies in loans and aid to foreign nations in exchange for establishing a military presence and gaining access to industries. Oftentimes the debt on the substantial loans given to nations become unserviceable resulting in our government and corporations gaining ownership of assets in exchange for forgiveness of debt. Many of the US’s most dominant positions have been forged through this method. The US gains ownership of foreign land, oil, coffee, plantations, gold, diamonds and many other lucrative markets via the exchange of assets for debt. Recently the EU took ownership of many of Greece’s assets and land in this same way of debt forgiveness.

While the practice of overwhelming a nation with debt could be just financial incompetence by bodies such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank its frequency and obvious benefits to the goal of maximizing profits suggest otherwise. As early as 2002 I started to become concerned that the methods of confiscating assets through the creation of unserviceable debt had become a domestic issue with the US middle class being the target audience. The quick growth in credit card, mortgage and student debt of the average US citizen was becoming large and conspicuous. Loans were being given out at an alarming rate, and from my seat a good portion seemed unserviceable or very vulnerable to an economic downturn (such as the housing bubble).

Please click on the following link to read my thoughts on this perspective which I published in August of 2008 http://guidoworld.com/blog/the-debt-endg…. This concern of mine has only grown and been validated through the passage of time. It only makes sense that the US government and its benefactors need for increased wealth and market share would finally demand their being predatory and confiscate what little wealth remains in the hands of its citizens. This blog along with the previous link above regarding the post industrial financial economy present a rather succinct outline of what might be in store for the US middle class, as well as the middle class in most post industrial societies.

The EU’s growing practice of negative interest rates and buy ins, as well as increased discussion regarding the need to construct a cashless society fit well into this unsavory vision of the immanent future (demise?) of the middle class. While the situation is far from hopeless one can’t solve a problem that one doesn’t recognize.

While writing this I agonized on how to present the above information in a manner which wouldn’t quickly be rejected by those on the right or the left, or thought of as just being a paranoid rant and over reactionary. Yet, I doubt if that is possible. I hope that those of you have shown the openness to read this to its conclusion have found the logic sound and the topic provocative.

United in Compassion

Jim Guido

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