2010


Economics and Politics09 Oct 2010 03:35 pm

I find it a little odd when I hear someone express doubt of the authenticity of the facts of a report because it was written on the web and not by a major media outlet. While I agree that one should always be on the lookout for biased, agendized or even false journalism, I find it odd when people consider main stream journalism legitimate and discount alternative journalists out of hand.

The fact of the matter is that the majority of mainstream corporate media is inherently biased, spun, and written for a specific purpose. I’ve seen some statistics which state that over 70% of news stories are written by corporations and businesses themselves and placed in the news media.

The vast majority of the media itself is owned by a handful of families and to think that these families are not protecting or promoting their own interests and those of their friends is foolish at best. Yet, even if one does not have the time to fact check or research a topic, the very style and format of most of modern main stream journalism demonstrates its lack of integrity and authenticity.

The media, like most enterprises, has become increasingly dominated by economic processes. It is all about economic success and increasing market share. Smaller outlets are bought out or merge with other outlets in order to compete and survive the economic realities of a capitalistic society. Merger after merger ends up with a shrinking field of huge media entities.

These huge entities depend on access to newsmakers, advertiser revenues and increased market share for their survival. Such huge conglomerates have many divisions in varied fields of interest. It is important to note that every major news outlet has strong ties to military, financial, and industrial corporations which they almost daily have to report on. Conflicts of interest are inherent in this megastructure.

A reporter who is relatively harsh or critical of a political figure will not get exclusives or easy access to that political figure. Such a reporter will seldom be called on during press conferences and therefore endangers his position with his employer whose focus on the bottom line needs the story even if its soft.

The reality of reporters needing access to the people they report on isn’t the only factor making it difficult for reporters to be unflinching in their reporting the facts. Advertisers have a big say in how a story is written and reported. Even when they don’t censor or directly influence a potentially damaging story to their financial interests, they can always remove their financial support of the offending media outlet by dropping their ads from the radio, TV or print medium involved.
Just as politicians have become more products than leaders whose primary goal seems to be getting elected rather than an agent for designing a healthy society, likewise, the media’s need for market share makes their entire business a popularity contest and not so much about information, education and the unbiased reporting of hard facts.

On a national level it is almost impossible to write an expose or an honest portrayal of events without insulting or harming one of a news medias own subsidiaries. The huge media conglomerates are integral parts of mega multinational corporations which depend on consumer confidence and goodwill in order to continue to flourish.

This is not to imply that our news is always positive and business friendly. Everyone loves a good story and controversy sells more newspapers and magazines than anything else. The important thing is that in the long run business booms and short term dramas seldom lead to long term fiscal damage.

The advertisers themselves try to make their product look good, by making their competitors look bad. Yet, in the world of politics we thrive on the two party system. Our media loves to foster controversy between supposedly opposite poles such as conservative/liberal, democratic/republican, industrial/environmental, individual versus social rights and so on. In many of these battles the sides are really just two sides of the same coin and this easy controversy is used to distract people from real issues and choices.

The difference between Democrats and Republicans has been shrinking for decades now. Since both parties are dependent on the financial support of the wealthiest Americans neither can afford to truly represent the interests of the common man (unless you can convince the common man to support the interests of the wealthiest Americans). Both parties now support big business, war, Wall Street, etc., the only debate is in how they support these entities.

The days of classic journalism have been gone for decades. News reports no longer strive to be objective and neutral, they no longer just report the facts answering the basic questions of who, what, where and when. Yes, even in the old days specific perspectives were given, but when one perspective was given so were many others. Now, there are only two black and white perspectives given, these two viewpoints are usually labeled as democratic and republican or conservative and liberal.

I can hardly think of a single issue in which my viewpoint falls inside either of the two camps. I can’t recall the last time I read a report by the mainstream media or heard a speech by a politician which I felt articulated or even came close to a perspective I have.

I know many people who still consider outlets such as PBS and NPR as objective and even humanistic. Though I’m not a regular consumer of these outlets I have noticed a dramatic shift away from objective investigative reporting, or even a humanistic perspective to one which is noticeably status quo and supportive of current power structures and their policies.

Often times the opposing perspectives I hear regarding domestic and international policy on NPR radio are very narrowly defined. It’s like hearing if the choice is whether to watch an NFC or AFC football game and totally ignoring the possibility of the hundreds of viewing choices one has while those games are on TV. No one questions wars or the ethics of political policies, but only the two narrow and almost identical strategies of republicans and democrats.

Television and radio programs are well rehearsed in which the execution of the newscast must be planned out to almost the exact second. Even the bulk of interviews conducted on radio and TV though attempting to sound impromptu and natural are for the most part totally rehearsed. Questions and responses of supposed candid interviews are preplanned and prepared for, thus allowing interviewers a smooth interview with no dead and uncomfortable air space and no surprises for the person being interviewed. Despite the fact that most interviews progress in this seamless manner and fit perfectly into an exact time frame for the newscast, most people seem to buy into the authenticity and spontaneity of the interview.

Reporting the facts and being objective has been replaced by news anchors who explain the news to us and engage in highly emotional and judgmental language. In a story or report it is often obvious which “side” we are supposed to believe or support. The bad people’s quotes, organizations or nations are littered with words such as “so called”, “alleged” and their actions framed as “terrorists” or “insurgents”. While the good guys are often the victims of a given situation and their quotes are certain and contain no doubt. When the need for description is called for they will be referred to do as defenders of justice or freedom fighters.

One of my favorite phrases used so often in modern news reporting is “some people feel”, or “some people believe”. In reality this is a total non-statement, but used artfully it can steer public opinion in the direction you want it to go. The authority and voice tone of the speaker is the only thing giving the phrase “some people think” any validity or influence. Yet, these phrases are uttered by news reporters more often than almost any other.

Obviously in any debate some people think one way and others think the opposite, the newscaster is taking sides by only stating one side. Comments such as “some economists think concerns regarding the economy are over blown”, “some experts feel that entitlement programs reduce productivity”, or “some scientists feel that global warming is more myth than fact”, all are misleading and prejudicial. Any statement of fact should have ample data supporting it, resorting to “some people” opinion statements is not good journalism nor a good sign of the objectivity of the report.

Early on in this post I pointed out some of the factors which have greatly contributed to the death of ethical and responsible journalism. These factors included the increased role of advertisers, the world of wealth the owners of mass media belong to, and the financial realities of media including market share and keeping friendly relations with news makers to insure constant access. Let’s expand on these ideas a moment to further articulate the growing sham that is portrayed as objective journalism.

So often our journalists are asked to stay mute or avoid reporting important news for the sake of “national security’ or if their reports could put “honest Americans in danger”. When reporting on the Iraq war journalists were banned from reports which could provide “aid and comfort to the enemy”, or divulge “sensitive information”. Instead they were required to just cover the press conferences held by the military to update the public on the war, or become “embedded” with the troops in chosen activities. The danger of not following these conditions was obvious in the fact that the Red Cross and foreign and alternative press incurred bomb and artillery attacks on a number of occasions even when they were clearly marked or had recently communicated their position and purpose.

No photos were allowed of military action or of injured or killed servicemen. Any report at all critical of the war or the actions of our military was attacked as anti-American and a danger to our troops. Without balanced and objective coverage of the war American’s weren’t able to monitor and question the policies and actions of its military. A case could be made that freedom of the press could alert the public when a military campaign is unnecessary of ill advised and thereby save the lives of our troops and our national security by removing us from battles unfitting to the goals and ideals of a world power.

One has to wonder about our government’s concern about national security and its relation to what is reported on the news. If filming our troops and military actions in a war zone is a threat to national security then why is not a danger to frequently encourage our press to insult and antagonize our enemies and their leaders?

The list of foreign leaders and nations which our leaders through the media label as evil and crazy is quite extensive. If it were true that these leaders and these nations were truly a threat to our national security why would we publicly call them crazy and ruthless? If we really were vulnerable to their actions and military attacks why would we acknowledge and admit this? If our media retained a shred of journalistic integrity don’t you think that be asking our leaders these questions?

The asking of questions in America which does not serve the interests of the military/industrial complex, or fit into the conservative/liberal debate is all but disallowed. Asking a question when facts don’t match the official story is considered paranoid or conspiracy thinking.

It is easy to view the national media as a lap dog for both the government and the wealthiest of Americans. A short list of what appears to me to be obvious examples of either utter stupidity or complicity should suffice to make my point.

When the towers came down they sure looked like a planned demolition and they came down at near speed of free fall totally inconsistent with the plane impact and resulting fire official story. This doesn’t even speak to the tower that came down which did not suffer any plane impact or direct fire caused by jet fuel. Of course, right away people defending the official story will accuse me of being a conspiracist or assume that I believe it was an inside job. Yet, strip the name calling and labeling away and the questions still remain. I have no idea what happened but why weren’t the logical questions asked?

Soon after the towers came down there were concerns regarding the air quality in the area. The EPA and other “experts” claimed that the air was fine despite the fact that workers and residents were complaining about symptoms which would typically signal a severe reaction to toxic air quality. Yet, despite this obvious contradiction of the official story I did not see any news report where they researched, investigated or questioned the official story in any substantial manner, or interview someone who felt the air was not safe.

The recent Gulf oil spill quickly went from ecological disaster to past history in an amazingly short period of time. The media once again was forbidden to film the spill or the clean up efforts. Then whole procedure was handled like a war situation where the media was forced to limit their reporting to information conveyed at the daily press conferences held by BP and the government.

Once the well was in the process of being capped the story went away. I saw some follow up stories in outlets such as the Christian Science Monitor in which the headlines proclaimed that the Gulf though injured was safe and quickly recovering. Most of the articles I read were artfully written to give the impression that the major harm was done and the long term prospects for the Gulf were promising.

All the articles talked of how effective the clean up efforts were progressing and that though the clean-up may take years, the general health of the waters and the sea life was better than anticipated. The articles that went into some detail do so in the following manner.

First they would state a range of gallons of oil that had been sucked up. These estimates were vague and never expressed in terms of the percentage of total oil spilled. Second they would state that some oil was sinking to the bottom of the gulf and described this oil as being relatively inert and only a harm to the sea life it was covering at the bottom. Each article hinted that the sinking oil was being caused by the chemical dispersants being amply used in the cleanup. No word of explanation was offered as to how something used to disperse the oil was somehow responsible for its coagulating and sinking.

In fact not one single article I read (of over two dozen) mentioned the fact that the oil that was successfully dispersed wasn’t gone, but only dispersed into the water. They would say the noun dispersant but avoided all verb forms which could imply that oil was being dispersed and not removed. Not only did the reports and journalist not ask any questions regarding this conflict, or report the actual mechanics of chemical dispersants, but they also underplayed the toxicity of the chemical dispersants. In sentence after sentence they would say that the dispersants have not been “proved” to be more harmful than the oil, and that in fact they are “considered” to be less toxic than oil.

The following parts of the articles truly show the death of journalism. They went on to say that since the chemical dispersants were less toxic than oil, a combination of the two was actually less toxic than oil alone. They stated that a gallon of oil was far more toxic than a half gallon of oil and a half gallon of dispersant. What they led a reader to believe was that the dispersant was replacing the oil it was dispersing and therefore making the gulf less toxic the more it was used. What was missing was any information regarding the amount of dispersant used compared to the amount of oil in the gulf.

Yet, since by its name a dispersant doesn’t remove but only disperses the most logical conclusion would be that we now have the toxicity of the oil spill plus the toxicity of the dispersant. I was horrified when these logical assumptions weren’t even posed as questions for the professionals to answer. So while the headlines of most of the articles proclaimed the Gulf as being safe, these claims were neither supported or questioned by the content of the articles.

A logical person is only able to conclude that the dispersants were not used to clean up the Gulf or reduce the toxicity of the water, but only to disperse the oil diluting its toxicity by spreading it over a greater area while at the same time making any further attempt at collecting or removing the toxic oil less possible if not impossible. Instead of collecting and cleaning up the massive oil spill, we decided to disperse it into the water system by adding additional toxicity to the water through massive use of chemical dispersants. Though our government showed a moment of backbone and humanity by ordering BP to stop using the dispersant they were and find a less toxic alternative, they did nothing when BP refused to comply and continued the use unabated.

There are literally hundreds of examples I could give in which it appears our national media has at worst lied to or deceived the public and at best did not ask the basic questions inherent in being a journalist.

Many of the world’s tragedies could be reduced and in some cases prevented by media outlets with integrity and ethics. Events and situations such as famine, torture, genocide, epidemics, slavery, abuse, crime and mass exploitation could be reduced or rectified by a free and ethical media. Yet, currently one has to wonder if the media is exacerbating these events and situations by being propagandists and apologists for those who stand to suffer financially by an open and thorough reporting of events and its related discussion.

Jim Guido

Economics and Psychology and Social Issues02 Oct 2010 01:26 pm

Yes, it does appear that the USA is going retro and that we are heading towards an economic reprisal of medieval serfdom. It doesn’t appear that any economic recession, deflationary depression, hyperinflation or economic rebound can steer us off this course. The wealthiest are becoming wealthier and are set to increase their percentage of ownership of assets and resources.

The gulf between the have’s and have nots is getting wider by the day, and the policies and structures promoting this expansion of disparity is pretty firm. The wealthiest no longer need a prosperous and expanding middle class to support their profit margins as vital consumers. This need has been decreasing over the last few decades due to the globalization of industry and economy.

The most successful companies such as Walmart ushered in the new global business model. What they found is they could lower prices and profit margins and still not only survive, but become the leader in their field.

The logic is pretty easy to grasp. You can reduce the need for high profit margins per business transaction by sharply increasing the volume of your sales. If I make a dime per sale of product and my market has 1000 customers I stand to make a hundred bucks. Yet, if make just a nickel per transaction yet my customer base is 10,000 than my my profits balloon to $500.

So, each time a business substantially increases their customer base their profit margins and therefore the prices of their products can come down while total profits escalate. So, a city wide business needs higher profit margins than a state. Each level of operation up from city, state, region, nation, international and global makes lower prices possible while still protecting total profits.

As your customer base rises your prices can fall. This also means that the individual purchasing power (or wealth) of your customers can continue to decline as the volume (numbers) of your customers increases. This is why as companies go global they can afford the standard of living of their potential customers to decline. They don’t need wealthy consumers to pay high prices for their goods and services, they just need a lot of people buying products and using their services.

A corporation’s large customer base and global audience allows it to offer significantly lower prices to the customers than smaller and more local operations. The poorer the customer base the less able they are to purchase the goods from the smaller businesses and therefore the smaller businesses go out of business. The larger businesses therefore lessen the players in the field essentially becoming the only game in town, which increases their client base and allows them to lower their prices even further while not injuring their total profits.

Yet, even though this process has a logical endpoint whereby the gulf between the have’s and have nots makes the customers too poor to sustain a global corporations total profits, a change in direction is unlikely. First, our most successful businesses have never shown a real concern for sustainability but instead are driven by immediate and short term market conditions and opportunities. Second, ownership is the real source of wealth and if you owned 90% of the land, structures and resources of a nation who cares how much its worth in terms of dollars.

When all is said and done, it is yours and you can do as you please with it. When one is lord of the manner and everyone is your serf, money is kind of unnecessary isn’t it?

For the wealthiest of corporate owners the benefits of the demise of the American and European middle class seems to far outweigh its resurgence. The practical obtaining of a capitalistic global economy would be endangered by any market conditions allowing for a narrowing of the economic gulf or a more balanced distribution of wealth. The Walmart model outlined above seems to be a logical necessity of the global marketplace and not a temporal strategy.

This, as they say, is the new normal.

Every since the birth of the machine age and automation we have been on this path. The machine transformed the agricultural industry by replacing human and beast labor by advanced farm equipment. Increases in production and yield allowed food prices to fall as larger and larger farms arose. Large farms put small farmers out of business which ultimately led to huge food conglomerates which control the vast majority of farming for the entire globe. Not even the most fervent farm fan imagines that we will ever return to a society in which a significant portion of the populace is involved in commercial farming.

The obvious fact that progress in technology lessens work forces and job opportunities has been clouded by the fact that many new jobs are created by new technologies. Yet, as that field and its technologies progress the need for human labor decreases due t the entire progression we talked about above as businesses get larger and larger and their customer base increases.

The increasing complexity of modern society and global communication allowed the US and Europe to create and provide jobs to support the emergence of the postwar middle class. Yet, we may be at the point where the amount of complexity will not be able to produce a great number of jobs and as we pointed once companies global they don’t need their consumer base to increase their earning power.

Just as the agricultural industry need for human labor has become a fraction of what it once was, so the same is happening in a number of fields from manufacturing, to IT, to communications, etc. As I pointed out in some of my recent posts, even our most high skilled and trained professionals are bering replaced by computers, robots and machines. Much of the work previously done by surgeons, accountants and engineers are now done better and more efficiently by technological wonders.

It is common today for us to be deluged by a number of half truths deflecting us from the inevitable reality outlined in this post. We are told that we are losing jobs to third world nations and their cheap labor. This is partially true, but they would need us much anymore anyway and they could completely automate if they desired.

A second falsehood is that our workforce is undereducated and under skilled. We are assured that if we go back to school and become better trained we will find employment and financial success. First, of all it is ridiculous to think that we have all these professional and highly skilled jobs waiting to be filled out there.

We never have had, and certainly do not currently have an economy or social structure able to support a nation of graduate and post graduate professionals. What it comes to technologically based jobs dealing with computers, IT and the like the idea of getting training which will insure you of a long term career in these fields is absurd. Advances in these fields are happening daily and skill and knowledge training are an on-going issue and can’t be alleviated by going back to school.

Robots and computers can be programmed, reprogrammed and up dated in the flash of an eye, human technology workers cannot learn new software, procedures and systems in a profit oriented time frame. When it comes to technology fields humans will never make the best or most cost efficient workers.

The simple fact is we don’t have the billions of jobs required to keep everyone on the planet gainfully employed. Keep them busy, maybe, but provide work worthy of a living wage at today’s living expenses is not feasible.

To some this post may seem pessimistic and depressing. Yet, I don’t feel this the case at all. There are plenty of solutions available, but only if we first identify and acknowledge the problem.

For those feeling depressed by this post, I recommend you read more of my posts, lyrics, books and listen to the songs contained on this site.

In closing I thought I’d include a parody of Surf City the old Beach Boy classic as a bit of comic relief. This was written in all of ten minutes so please excuse its rough spots and please feel free to pen your own versions (not for profit of course unless you want to get permission from all the necessary sources).

Serf City USA

No jobs for anyone

I work all day but make no money
Serf City here we come

I’ve got a mortgage to pay, and my credit is lousy
Serf City here we come

Well, my roof has a leak, and my windows are broken
But, my house is still better my neighbors is a joke man
l
And we’re goin’ to Serf City, ‘bout to be a bum
You know we’re goin’ to Serf City, probably need a gun
You know we’re goin’ to Serf City, bankrupt and glum
You know we’re goin’ to Serf City, be a homeless one, now
Low pay for everyone

You know the banks give no loans because of all the owing
Serf City, here we come
My wife’s got cancer my son’s off the program (fell off the wagon)
Serf City, here we come
Yeah, I lost my health insurance and money’s tight
If I had life insurance maybe I could die

And we’re goin’ to Serf City, ‘bout to be a bum
You know we’re goin’ to Serf City, probably need a gun
You know we’re goin’ to Serf City, bankrupt and glum
You know we’re goin’ to Serf City, be a homeless one, now
Low pay for everyone

And if my body breaks down on my way to serfdom
Serf City, here we come
I’ll push the shopping cart full of my belongings
Serf City, here we come
And when I get to Serf City I’ll be ready to hurl
And hope my wife lives to be my serfdom girl

Jim Guido

Economics and Social Issues25 Sep 2010 11:22 am

This post and the next one will involve a lot of the same themes and hopefully I will be able to minimize any duplication of material. The title of this post is also the name of one of my CD’s and a song on that CD which you can listen to and read in the music section of this website.

I realize from a historical perspective I was very fortunate to be born in the USA in the 1950’s. Even though I grew up in a relatively poor household all of my basic needs were always taken care of and I never went to bed hungry nor did I ever suffer in any tangible or lasting way.

Though the fruits of empire were never divided equally, almost everyone in the US benefitted by our nation’s economic status and ample resources. No matter how hard we worked, we lived a comfortable life in comparison to most on the planet.

The birth of arguably the largest middle class ever to exist in a world society allowed so many of us to experience great leaps in standard of living and quality of life. Public health practices and vaccinations made crippling disease a relatively rare occurrence, and mother’s dying in childbirth became a relic of family history rather than a current event I witnessed in my or my friends lives.

Due to the growth of labor unions, the womens, student and civil rights movements and easy access of information via newspapers, radio and TV most American’s were finding their voice and feeling empowered. Popularization of labor saving machines and appliances along with the mind boggling accomplishment on having people walk on the moon spawned a sense of hope and optimism that few previous generations have ever been privileged to be a part of.

In so many ways the US was a safe haven and a land of plenty. Other than the A-Bomb threat from Russia and the Cuban Missile Crisis, our lives were safe and secure. Famine, lack of drinking water, life destroying epidemics and fear of attack were not realities for the US as they were for the rest of the world and world history. The fight for survival was replaced by free market competition and being on the losing end of competition did not prevent one from trying again tomorrow.

Yet, in many ways the protests against the war in Vietnam, the women’s and civil rights movement and the birth of the Ecological movement were more end points than the births they were touted to be. Just when we were on the verge of creating a living Eden we started going the other way.

Somewhere in the 70’s we began to become the land of Opportunity Lost. We began to see that progress had its costs. Waste and pollution began to endanger some of the gains we made in public health by contaminating our water and air with toxic substances. The very industries which led to our rise in the standard of living were faced with the fact that working conditions and substances involved in the production of their products were a public nuisance and often a detriment to public health.

The culture which had cured many lethal diseases and had created a more wholesome environment was now faced with new problems and hurdles to overcome. Yet, instead of using new technologies and invention to successfully tend to these problems money and resources were used by the status quo oriented large corporations on public relations messages and litigation which only gave the perception of change and the false reassurance of solution.

Individuals like the corporations they worked for and fiscally supported began going down roads that would not lead to a continuation of a higher quality of life. While corporations increasingly valued profit over quality of life, individuals moved towards success and convenience over health and relationships.

Just as corporations minimized or denied research that showed the harm and danger of their products and waste materials so likewise did individuals ignore studies on health and personal satisfaction. Studies regarding the dangers of smoking, lack of exercise, poor diet, and stress induced by the fast pace of modern life were ignored by corporations and individuals alike. The only difference was that corporations stood to profit by their denial while the individual stood to suffer from theirs.

The burgeoning medical, pharmaceutical and psychologically therapeutic industries all gained by identifying the physical and psychological dangers and harms of modern life while losing business or becoming extinct if true cure were to be found and implemented. Individual’s were seduced by the convenience and status offered by being consumer’s of these “helpful industries.

Our generation of abundance and safety was wasting a great opportunity. Instead of using our resources, technologies, affluence and talents to create an even higher quality of life for even more people on the planet we were succumbing to lures of competition and the monetary gain of exploitation.

Individuals once citizens became consumers. Instead of sharing the wealth, saving for tomorrow, using our safety and freedom to create strong bonds and friendships, and providing for future generations, we bought more than we made, went into debt, ate poorly, became a nation of divorcees and broken families while leading the world in depression and self-dissatisfaction.

Instead of making the world a healthier and safer place we became a nation of pirates stealing and controlling the resources of other lands, and became a full time war nation and military opportunist in various ways such as nation building and arms sales.

We squandered the spring and the summer of our Eden and did nothing to prepare for the coming fall and winter. Though we have had a few significant natural disasters such as hurricanes, floods and tornadoes we’ve been incredibly fortunate to not have any major earth quakes, epidemics, plagues, pestilence, famine or the like.

This is not an alarmist, gloom and doom, perspective. It is just the simple fact that we are not above and beyond the cycles of nature and that things will happen. On almost every level of life we have been consuming instead of saving, acting instead of preparing and winning instead of loving.

Are we now fated to suffer the anguish of our lack of preparation and be punished for our wasting away our fortunate and golden opportunity? The housing and debt crisis has awoken many to the dangers of not saving and preparing, but are we ready as a society to see this as a symptom of a much larger crisis?

Philosophy and Social Issues16 Sep 2010 01:47 pm

The majority of my adult life I’ve been uncomfortable with the US’s belief in the concept of earning a living. I not only think it is inaccurate and misleading but often times a complete mythology.

The concept of earning a living involves a number of beliefs about people, justice and fairness. One of these is that anyone willing to work hard will be adequately rewarded and recognized in our society and the hardest and most capable workers are the most successful in our culture.

Yet, a quick look at the real world finds a lot of information which does not support this belief. First, the most physically demanding work in our society is often poorly paid. In fact the majority of menial and physically challenging work will likely result in your being near or below the poverty line. In the US a large portion of those hard workers can’t afford health insurance and are struggling to survive.

When one responds that in today’s world the definition of a hard worker has less to do with menial labor and more to do with talent, credentials and education I once again find actual life to be non-supportive of this view. In US history the wealthiest and most financially successful people in our society have generally not been the best educated, credentialed or talented. Up until recently our most successful entrepreneurs and businessmen have typically been college or even high school drop outs. Not many would argue that most of most successful politicians are our most talented leaders, political minds or gifted communicators.

In almost every field and discipline the most talented, credentialed and educated people are not its leaders nor the richest and most recognized. I have personally known some very talented musicians and though some of them have had professional and financial success the larger portion of them have not, while many inferior musicians in terms of expertise and talent have flourished.

Instead of hard work other factors seem to play a more pronounced role. One’s success usually has more to do with family background, personality traits, luck, height and physical attractiveness, ambition and verbal skills to name a few factors.

Even the rather self-evident idea that people who perform the best in a given field make the most advancement and get the job promotions is not true according to my experience. The bulk of my job experience has been in the human service and education arenas. In a number of situations my job description or role in the agency I was working in made me aware of or directly involved in the hiring, firing and promoting of employees. I can state most assuredly that the bulk of employee decisions did not reward the hardest working and talented employees.

I can recall numerous situations where a classroom teacher or direct care staff was promoted because of inability rather than ability. A teacher incapable of managing their classroom or whose students weren’t succeeding were promoted to remove them from an unsuccessful situation hoping that their weaknesses and incompetence would be better hidden in a more administrative (and high paying) position.

Likewise some were overlooked for promotion due to the fact that they were too valuable in the classroom, or whose talents were too threatening for those up the ladder from them. Others were denied professional and fiscal advancement due to their intelligence, talent and ambition being viewed as posing too much conflict and discomfort for the administrative team.

In my experience I always felt that the those with direct contact with clients and students deserved the most pay. Yet, direct service personnel are almost always some of the least paid individuals in an agency or school.

The factors that seem to most impact the amount of monetary success and influence you achieve in our society is often not so admirable. While those with drive and ambition are often thwarted by incompetent and stagnant bureaucracies and businesses, a person with a ruthless drive often rises to the top in our society. An obsessive, self-promoting and pushy person will often succeed when competing against a caring and adaptable person.

I’m fond of talking about looking at our earning a living as literally a human race. Anyone who bends over to help someone, or courteously waits their turn falls behind. Any business owner who pays his workers more than his competitors and gives his workers more benefits will be at a severe economic and business disadvantage to those owners who underpay their workers and cut corners on benefits and working conditions. Those who misrepresent the benefits and importance of their product while denying or minimizing its drawbacks or uselessness will usually defeat an honest competitor.

In my book “A Crack in the Wall” I pointed out how beneficial it is from a business perspective it is to maximize the potential addictive qualities of a product. Many businesses have worked hard at fine tuning the “attractiveness” of their product which is a euphemism for exploiting the addictive qualities of the product.

Some of the addictive qualities are obvious like tobacco, beer, coffee, prescription medications, recreational drugs, gambling and prostitution. Yet, the majority are more subtle tweaks in the taste, feel, smell, appearance and psychological recipe of the product which are borderline addictive in nature but not in effect.

To this point my presentation of why I find the concept of earning a living distasteful is due to its functioning under the false assumption that desirable qualities such as talent, education, intelligence and industry directly result in financial reward. The belief is that in a true democratic free market economy everyone is capable and will be able to earn a good living if they are disciplined, work hard and try their hardest to learn marketable skills.

I have attempted to give a few examples of how the real world does not support that financial success does not correspond to these vaunted qualities and characteristics. An entire book could be written citing example of example of how our democratic free market does not work in this way. I leave it to you to find your examples and will not bore you with a couple hundred pages of mine.

Yet, I want to move on to two more core objections I have to the concept of earning a living. Even if it were true that qualities such as industry and characteristics such as talent and intelligence did have a direct correlation with monetary success and quality of life, would that be reason to construct a society based on these functional truths?

Is my being more intelligent, creative, talented or personable than someone else entitle me to having a better quality of life then them? Due to marketable skills and personality traits am I more worthy of comfort, medical care and security than someone less gifted or disciplined?

Should one have to earn a living? Or should having access to one’s basic needs be a given? Are less talented, handicapped, mentally disadvantaged or slothful individuals unworthy of a quality existence?

If the above humanitarian argument does not move you or you view it is dangerous and unproductive let me address another practical argument.

If we go back to the initial hard work interpretation of earning a living we find that the definition of hard work has been going through changes during the entire span of the industrial revolution which most likely gave birth to it. The hard manual labor of man was first replaced by beasts. Instead of men pushing and pulling plows we had horses, cattle and the like do the truly hard work.

Later with the emergence of steam and then the combustion engine we much more productive and less laborious. The age of machines removed us from our most strenuous labors while dramatically increasing our production and efficiency. The age of machines and automation morphed into the electronic and then the age each reducing our labors while increasing our efficiency. Our emerging world of robotics, and artificial intelligence promises to even further reduce our labor.

Yet, as we work less and utilize and rely more on technology and non human labor forces it is becoming more and more unrealistic to talk about us “earning a living”. With more and more of our mental and physical labor not only being executed but often designed, monitored and regulated it is hard to sell the earning a living image. In an environment where most of our most sophisticated and delicate surgeries are being done by robots and lasers, it will be become increasingly become difficult to justify surgeons making oodles of money despite the fact that they may still be very educated and talented understudies to the robots they employ.

A major reality undermining the old earning a living model is the fact that almost every advance in modern technology removes more jobs than it creates. Each and every passing day it is becoming increasingly obvious that we do not and will most likely never have enough jobs for everyone on the planet. Our expectation that everyone earn a living and allowing those without significant employment to suffer, live in poverty, die due to insufficient medical care and even starve due to their lack of earning power is unrealistic at best and cruel and inhumane at worst.

I was taught to believe that anyone who was poor was so because they were lazy. selfish and immature. Disciplined and responsible people always found gainful employment and made a positive contribution to society.

People who were under or unemployed were and are still viewed as being a burden to society. My personal experience has differed greatly as I have found many poor people I’ve known and met to be hard working and caring individuals.

Yet, I would also like to point out that in my life slothful people have been less of a problem for me than ambitious and industrious one’s. It may be true that the slothful may have been a source of irritation in my day-to-day world and in some ways forced me to take care of them when I may have felt they could and should have taken care of themselves.

Yet, those of fiscal ambition and the desire for power have had a great role in making our world unsafe and unhealthy. Our polluted water and air are the product of the industrious, as is most of our military and religious conflict and war. The damage done to our ecosystem and the degradation of our quality of life by filling our environment with dangerous and toxic substances is due to ambition more than sloth.

The exploitation of peoples weaknesses for financial gain has made our highways, neighborhoods and workplaces increasingly violent and less safe. The misinformation and propaganda which fosters fear, mistrust and destruction of life and property is a product of the politically ambitious and those who thirst for power.

I’m not saying that the talented, intelligent and industrious aren’t worthy or shouldn’t be respected and rewarded for their gifts and efforts. What I am saying is that one should not have to earn a living, we all deserve food, shelter, health care, clothing, access to information, and the resources necessary to have a high quality of life.

Jim Guido

Art and Philosophy28 Aug 2010 11:14 am

Imagine you’re sitting in a drawing class and all eyes are focused on a bowl of fruit at the front of the room. All have been instructed to draw what they see, and have received identical technical instruction on how to draw the image before them.

After all have finished you walk about the room to see all the drawings. Though impressed with the accuracy with which they have rendered the bowl of fruit you can’t but help noticing the fact that no two drawings are identical. In fact, the longer you look the more unique and different each drawing seems from another, while at the same time still “accurately” capturing a relative photo of the bowl of fruit.

There are many reasons for these differences. First in even a simple pencil line drawing there are numerable subtleties in each pencil stroke in terms of width, darkness, and interface with the next line. There is also slight differences of focal point of the picture where your eye is drawn to see as the true center of the drawing. There are variances in the play of light and shadow, in what is highlighted and what is more background.

The list of variances of drawings in a single class could fill up pages in a book. While some of these variances are due to slight differences in motor skills and physiology of each individual artist, there are also differences caused by the individuality of each artist experience of the bowl of fruit.

Each artist is occupying a unique position in the room and with it a unique vantage point of the fruit bowl. This causes slight changes of perspective in the view and perception of the bowl. This unique perspective not only influences the angle and focus of the drawing, but also makes significant alterations in the play of light and shadow.

An artist who is attempting to truly draw what he is seeing in terms of shapes and lines will render the scene much differently than an artist who is drawing a bowl of fruit. The one drawing a bowl of fruit will be influenced by the preconceptions of banana, apple and orange. The one drawing lines and shadows rendering may look more abstract in that the fruit may not immediately maximize its apple-ness or orange-ness, but rather look and feel more like geometric shapes than pieces of fruit.

The emotional state and the feelings evoked by the bowl of fruit will also be part of the artist’s end product. One who is bored or neutral to the scene will draw a much different portrait than one who is hungry or finds the scene nostalgic or fascinating. Likewise a happy artist draws even the most simple line differently than the mantic or depressed one.

Many of the variables which cause each drawing to be different and unique are also changing during the time spent drawing the bowl of fruit. Often times the play of light and shadow are changing, any shift in position or body posture of the artist changes the perception of the scene, and at every moment the artists emotional and psychic experience of the bowl of fruit is in flux. In many ways the artist is changing at each and every moment and so, therefore, each finished drawing is a composite of different artists (the same person at different points in time).

The differences between line drawing are minor compared to the differences that arise when colors and different mediums are introduced. A fruit bowl rendered through charcoal, oils, water colors, or clay will be dramatically different than through a pencil line drawing. The relatively infinite variety is found everywhere from brush strokes, to density, to pixels.

The amount of shade or brightness will greatly affect the shade of green or red of the apple in the fruit bowl. Even whiteness will be altered by the contrast induced by the neighboring fruits and open spaces. Yet, despite the myriad of differences the experience of the same bowl of fruit persists.

Our life experience could be looked at as an innumerable number of snap shots of our life world. Each and every moment we are the artist taking note and documenting his perception of his environment. Like the still life drawings, we are all seeing the same things but our individual experiences and perceptions are unique and different from each other and from our past experiences of the same object.

Who hasn’t read a book or viewed a movie a second time and been struck with how different the experience was the second time? A favorite book I read as a teenager or young adult is not the same book as the one I read now in my fifties. In each reading I perceive and take away something different from the previous one.

This potential of human growth, change and development is not an exhaustible resource. As long as we are a living and sentient being we are always capable of new and significant perceptions and experiences. In fact we are incapable of ever truly duplicating any life experience, for each and every moment we are a slightly different person with a new history and emotional perspective.

Yet, the inevitability of human change in all aspects of perception, thought and experience does present some challenges. It does make it obvious that no one can truly experience what we do and that we are always alone in the universe. It also tends to put limits on how much certainty and finality we can have in terms of self and worldly knowledge. Yet, that is the cost of being a truly unique and individual person who is able to grow and change.

Though our experiences and perceptions are always redefining and composing ourselves it does not mean that we and our lives are random, chaotic or meaningless. What it does mean is that our sense of self and life experience is an ongoing process. While some might view a sense of certainty as reassuring and secure, it also is very limiting and opposed to the way we experience life.

The uniqueness of our every experience and our never ending sense of who we are should not be a threat to our ability to share with others and feel apart of the world. Likewise, our ability to feel connected and to love others should not dampen our ability to feel unique and special.

As humans we have both a need to belong and a need to be a unique individual. The built in irony to this is the fact that we need others to validate and appreciate our uniqueness. So even our ability to feel unique is dependent on the validation we receive from others.

The good news is that our needs fit in with our very experience of life. Though no one can truly duplicate our thoughts, feelings and perceptions we all see the same bowl of fruit. In general we all see and feel the same world, we all sense that others have similar feelings and reactions to the way others behave and conduct themselves.

We can see joy, fear, concern and love in the eyes of others, and in the way they act even if they do not speak the same language as us, or live in a culture very different from ours. We can see we have many of the same needs and concerns and can derive great joy from making others feel good about themselves and safe in the world.

We can all enjoy looking at the renderings of others while still not detracting from our own view of the fruit bowl. We can hear and appreciate the articulations of others on how they view the world without it detracting from our experience.

Even when we are drawing a still life, it is still life.

I enjoy the opportunity afforded me through this website to articulate my individuality as well as hopefully render our shared reality. I feel very fortunate to be a human being, and aspire to help others get to a place in their life where they can appreciate the beauties and wonder of human existence.

Humanity is a composite of all of our individual perceptions and feelings. Sometimes our desire for certainty and truth blinds us to the true beauty and wonder of human experience. Instead of providing all with a pencil and paper and let them draw and express who they are and what they feel we hold up the official painting of reality for all to agree to and revere.

Certainty is dangerous because it is so foreign to how we actually experience life.

Jim Guido

Art and Philosophy and Psychology15 Aug 2010 05:02 pm

This post will be some background thoughts and reflections on the poem Awed which I posted last time.

The first part of the poem focuses on the incredible vastness of the universe. The next theme is how rare and precious life is in this vast and generally empty universe. Even more rare and precious than life is conscious life, or life being conscious of itself. It is this capability which makes it possible for the awesomeness of life and the vastness of the universe to be perceived and appreciated.

Only recently through the inventions of telescopes, space probes and radio wave technology have we been able to get a glimpse into just how vast and complex is the universe. Us conscious human beings have grown and developed to the point where we are beginning to understand the inner working of ourselves and the universe. If our current theories and observations are correct the time that humans have been conscious and self aware is an infinitesimal moment in the life of the universe.

Organic cellular life itself seems to be a relative babe in comparison to the existence of planets which are babes in terms of suns which are babes in terms of the theoretical beginning of the universe. Yet, without conscious life there is no awe, appreciation or understanding of our vast and ancient universe.

Though human life and consciousness are as incredible if not more incredible as our vast universe, we have a tendency to denigrate conscious life and to deem things outside of us as being more important and amazing. In man’s early history we totally denied our consciousness and often attributed our thoughts and feelings to gifts from the gods.

It seems highly unlikely that one day we decided to think, perceive. use language or feel emotions. These capabilities seem to be hard wired into our being human. This is not to say that our basic humanity hasn’t grown, evolved and developed, but only to point out that there is no reason to believe that we just one day decided to become conscious and have an awareness of self.

Yet, just because we didn’t create our own ability to be conscious doesn’t make our self awareness any less amazing. It also doesn’t make it necessary for us to create theories or beliefs regarding who or what created our consciousness. Though very few species show any signs of self-awareness approaching human kind, we are quick to imbue other entities with a superior level of awareness, motivation and intentionality.

Instead of simply appreciating the mystery and awe of being that rare form of life that is self aware, we have to supplicate ourselves before a higher power that not only is superior and more aware than us, but whose very definition negates all that makes up our perceptual and experiential world.

These superior entities always have an awareness, ability and intentionality far superior to ours. We ascribe and attribute to these entities oxymorons such as infinite and eternal being. Whether the concept be god, spirit, supreme being, nature or the creator the message is still the same, that something or someone is in charge and ultimately answers the question of ultimate beginnings and authority.

When it comes to our own consciousness and sense of self we similarly have a need to denigrate our own talents and attribute a superiority to an outside entity or source. We even downplay our abilities to perceive, think, and feel by focusing on our limitations and posing purities outside of ourselves. This is evident in the way we talk about the unconscious, ideals and Truth.

Our sense of self, the ego, is so often portrayed in a negative light. We are quick to point out how often our perceptions are inaccurate or incomplete, and how often we are unconscious of something important.

Tough it is certainly true that we are finite and imperfect, it is absurd to think it could be any other way. Life, experience and human consciousness is an endless process. We learn, grow and develop, yet who would want it any other way.

If we knew everything, or had no errors what would be the point and joy of day-to-day life. Experience itself is only possible through our sensorial and mental limitations. An all seeing person would see no thing (nothing). The same could be said of any other sense or thought, feeling, etc. At each moment we are selecting what to pay attention to and to anticipate next from a whole slew of sensorial input. What we see, feel, smell, hear, taste and cogitate is a selection process.

Without the selection process we would be perpetually inundated and overwhelmed. We would have no sense of meaning let alone an experience of present, past and future. Our sense of self, history and personal meaning are all acquired through the wonder of choice and limitation.

Those who focus on human limitations in a negative way are themselves misperceiving the process. Errors in misperception are rectified by another perception. The way we know that the earth isn’t flat, or that the earth isn’t the center of the universe is through an additional observation and perception. Perception, observation and experience are the only means of correcting misperceptions.

Likewise, modern psychology is often fond of talking about the unconscious, as if it were a thing. One speaks of the unconscious speaking to the conscious, as if the unconscious was superior and had an intentionality. Often times it seems as if the unconscious has become some kind of oracle or god trying to speak to us.

Yet, even if you want to believe this to be the case, the simple fact is that any previous unconscious memory that becomes conscious does so through an act of consciousness not an act of unconsciousness.

What we know best is that which we can sense, perceive and experience. Yet, what we perceive, observe and experience often losses out to what we believe. Being finite beings that live and die and that are full of limitations our lives are not capable of certainty. We do not know everything or even anything for certain.

I am fairly certain that the sun will greet me in the morning tomorrow as it has for every day I can remember, but I cannot say with 100% certainty that it has and alway will “rise” forever. I can say with a high sense of confidence that if I were to deprive another human being of oxygen they will die, yet I cannot say that humans always have nor always will need oxygen. In a finite temporal world of human experience there are possibilities and probabilities but few if any certainties.

There are some mysteries of life that have a high probability of finding an answer to, yet there are many mysteries that have a very low probability of being solved. What is fascinating about us humans is how often we forsake the things we have the most certainty of such as experience, observation and perception for that which we have the least certainty for which is what we believe.

We denigrate our feelings and perceptions while exalting those things which are beyond our comprehension or frame of reference such as God and Nature. Often times those who believe in God treat agnosticism or atheism as an act of egotism. They will often ask don’t you believe in a higher power, or something or someone greater than yourself.

My general response is that in such a vast and diverse universe it is hard for me to imagine that we are the only intelligent life or that there is no one or nothing more developed or powerful than humans. Yet, I’m not so egotistical as to think that anything greater or more conscious than myself has to be God or a supreme being.

Yet, any concept of an infinite, absolute being is beyond my comprehension. Everything I can imagine and logically understand is finite. By definition there can be only one infinite. Therefore no creator could be infinite. For a creator would have to create something, therefore, there would have to be both a creator and its creation. This makes two things hence the creator would not be infinite. Secondly, creating is an action, and an action takes place at a specific moment at a specific place which also conflicts with the concept of the infinite.

When I was young I went to a Catholic school and the nuns were fond of telling us of all the wonderful qualities of God. God was all loving, omniscient, omnipotent, all seeing, eternal, omnipresent and all forgiving.

What I could not wrap my head around is the simple fact that there could be only one infinite. So either God would have only one quality or he would not be infinite. What I did point out to the nuns was that if God existed he could not be infinite for to exist he must have a form and be in space and therefore he would be finite. The nuns responded that this is was just one of the great mysteries.

With that we were in agreement. How, when and why we were created seemed to me to be unanswerable questions. Yes, these were mysteries. So, why not leave them be mysteries rather than claiming with certainty that God exists and he loves, punishes, wants us to believe, etc.

Part of the awe regarding the universe and for our rare and precious self-consciousness is that many parts of it are and will most likely remain mysteries.

Science like religion has been very fond of certainty of finding unchanging laws and Truth. Yet, over the last century a healthy amount of doubt and mystery have been seeping in. In both religion and science everything seemed to be fated. Since God was all knowing nothing could happen that he didn’t already know, therefore, all is predestined. Though we had free choice, God already knew what choices we’d make. Likewise, science said that for every action there was a predictable and predetermined reaction and therefore, everything played out the way it is destined to play out following all the rules of motion.

Yet, when Einstein pointed out that Time is not absolute but is altered by perspective and that each individuals experience of time is different from anyone else’s he opened the door for true individual human experience and choice. Time experienced in a spaceship the speed of light differed from that of one on a plane, walking or sitting still. In addition time for a person changed with the amount of gravity they were experiencing.

A further blow to scientific certainty and its unpleasant counterpart of predestination was delivered by quantum mechanics when it was observed that light could be both a particle or a wave, or later that a particle could be two places at the same time. This branch of science went further went it noted that experiments showed that a given particle had options and choices and the best one could do is predict the probability of its movement.

It will be interesting to see if the scientific community will embrace choice and probability or once again try to make finite existence follow absolute laws, which do not match our internal experience of ourselves or of our environment.

I’d like to offer one more observation of those who claim its arrogance on my part which has me question the existence of god or a higher power. I enjoy being human, of being life becoming conscious of itself. I enjoy the lack of certainty, and relish in the opportunity to learn, grow and develop.

It seems to me that the person who tries to make certain that which is unknowable is more an act of arrogance. The false humility and modesty is no more apparent than in terms such as “the chosen people” or the faithful, who by there very title are given a special status or reward. Isn’t it interesting that to admit ignorance and embrace mystery is a sign of arrogance and egotism while professing that one knows with certainty the existence of the supreme being and what he wants us to do is a sign of humility.

As the poem says,

Is life a gift a miracle?
Perhaps,
yet there is no denying
it is the rarest of opportunities

The opportunity to live,
and be conscious of being alive

Jim Guido

Art and Philosophy and Psychology04 Aug 2010 07:16 pm

Awed

The universe we live in is vast
The universe is amazingly vast
The universe is surprisingly vast
The universe is unimaginably vast

Stars are incredibly hot
Yet they are but small random specs in the vast cold universe
Massive telescopes and space probes
Look through space and time
Radio wave technology
Seeks for evidence of intelligent life
Yet we have yet to find any other life conscious of itself

We are indeed rare us living and conscious beings
Though stars be small specs in vast space
There are far more stars than conscious beings

At the base of our personal universe
We lie in bed in gentle embrace
Silently greeting the day
We are two hearts beating warmth into a cold and lifeless universe
Our lungs are breathing life into a empty and sterile universe
How rare life is in this vast universe

Each day we wake and know we are alive
We accomplish the rarest of feats in the entire universe
We are in deed fortunate to live and breathe
To have experience and personal history

We are surrounded and cradles by life
Our teeming planet
A small oasis in an endless desert of space

We are so rare, so precious
So incalculably fortunate
Is life a gift a miracle?
Perhaps,
yet there is no denying
it is the rarest of opportunities

The opportunity to live
and be conscious of being alive

Jim Guido

Relationships30 Jul 2010 07:17 pm

Tomorrow is Dayna and my 27th anniversary.
I thought this would be good time to print the lyrics of my most recent songs as they do reflect the beauty of the life we have created together.

Peace, Love and Dignity 5/3/2010

I want to feel your smile
I want to breathe in your joy
I want to touch your dreams
I want to listen to your feet

For time moves with or without heat
And I live within each heartbeat

I want to taste your words
Till I can no longer eat
I want to sip on your emotions
The bitter and the sweet

Our tongues feel more than we can speak
Our minds hold more than we can seek

I sang this song before I had a notion
I was a man before I knew me
Such is the beauty of living without knowing
Such is the wonder of human beings

Falling into the stream
Loving our history

I sang this song before I had a notion
I was a man before I knew me
Such is the beauty of living without knowing
Such is the wonder of you and me

Winters come and summers go
Each time has its beauty
Some things change and others grow
Whether liquid or sturdy
I want to share my life
Of that I am certain
I want to learn from life
I am its student


All of you fashion me
thru words and reactions
I hope my words unfold you
Validate, spawn satisfaction
Through you all I know me
I am your project
What is now and what will be
Gives life its passion

John Lennon and Yoko
Had a lovely message
Peace, love and dignity
for every person
Peace love and dignity
What a lovely message
Peace love and dignity
for every person

Life Fills My Days 6/15/10

We are all masters of illusion
Forging certainty from a handful of clues
Whether it be science or religion
We forsake what is
for eternal Truth
it’s what we do

Never satisfied with what is real
With our hands, eyes nor ears
Even the desire to be in the moment
We get beyond oneself
to cosmic union
into the blue

I’ve always lingered in fascination
Simple pleasures are my fuel
I never tire of the landscape
Every sensation draws me to you

Each and every day that passes
Ripens some low hanging fruit
Drinking in all of their juices
Breathing in the aroma
of morning dew
is my form of truth

I’ll swim awhile in your ocean
I’ll lie and rest on your soggy shores
Feel wet sand cool my backside
As evening rays warm my core

Life fills my days
In sweet subtle ways
Life fills my days

——————————————————

Well I guess I am learning how to purr after all.

As always you are invited to listen to my songs and read my lyrics by clicking on to the music tab above.

Jim Guido

PS I should have a topical blog up some time this weekend. Enjoy!

Stock Market22 Jul 2010 08:10 pm

It is Thursday evening July the 22nd.

Those of you who regularly visit this site know that on a handful of occasions I’ve commented on the stock market. I enjoy numbers, patterns and sociological observation and, therefore the stock market is appealing. Also due to my love of numbers and patterns I’ve become a little of an amateur technical analyst.

According to a lot of technical indicators and longer term historical patterns I’ve been anticipating the market beginning a significant decline beginning by mid August and lasting at least through the middle of October. I see a lot of parallels between now and the same time frame in 2008 when I successfully called a similar decline.

Yet, due to the activity of the last month and the last two weeks in particular I feel that the decline may start earlier than I had been anticipating.

In fact, if the market starts up strong tomorrow the high may be reached during the day and the market may begin its fall before the close. If the market starts down and closes at its high or has a relatively steady climb up it may end the day at an important high.

My indicators point to a possibility of a steep fall either on Monday or towards the end of next week. I could very well be wrong, but the possibilities seem dire enough to warrant a warning and for anyone in the stock market to exit for the short term.

I strongly urge caution right now.

The wide swings in market action of the last month are often an early indicator of a change in trend or a big quick move. Now, the move could be up, but the risks appear too great for most people to take that gamble. Even if there is an initial strong up move I still am fairly confident that the averages will be lower in the fall.

This is more of a warning than a prediction. I’m only writing this because so many people I know got hammered two years ago when I saw the same thing occurring in the charts. Well, as they always say on Wall Street maybe “this time it’s different”.

Again I want to emphasize that I am an amateur and I’m not recommending any specific action. I’m only suggesting to those in the market to be vigilant right now and only wager what you’re willing to lose.

If anything happens to change my viewpoint I will write a market update. Otherwise I have a couple of other posts in the process of being written that are more in the general tenor of this site.

Jim Guido

Economics and Social Issues13 Jul 2010 02:00 pm

It is natural for people to want to be able to make their own choices and to some degree be in control of their own time. It is hard to imagine anyone wanting to be oppressed or live as a slave to another individual.

Yet, while we want to be able to live our own lives and be a unique and free individual we also want to belong and be appreciated by others. It would be rare to find a person who does not enjoy being recognized for their unique gifts and talents. Most people want their lives to stick out a little. A life without individuality is for the most part a life bereft of meaning.

Yet, it takes others to recognize and appreciate us. No matter how small our community of friends or kindred spirits are, it still is a community. The only way we know our uniqueness is through our comparing and contrasting ourselves to others. While we yearn to be unique and free we also need to be noticed, validated and belong. Thus the statement that “no man is an island”.

No man is cut off and totally separated from the community of man, yet in other ways we are always islands. No matter how well somebody knows and empathizes with us they still cannot truly feel and live our experiences. No matter how close people come to us they will always be out there.

Our separateness and individuality is both a source of joy and a source of anxiety and fear. The human condition is such that we long both for individuality and community. A fulfilled life is one where someone finds their personal balance between community and individuality.

Our society touts itself as a free one. In fact it is self entitled the land of freedom. Now one could make a case that we aren’t and never have been a truly free society. Yet, the bigger question would be do we really want a free society? What is gained through freedom and what is lost?

If it is human nature to want to be a free individual yet also to belong to a community then wouldn’t a society based solely on freedom be blind to the fact that it is a society and therefore a community which people belong to? Is the designation “free society” a conflict in terms in which the idea of society gets overwhelmed in the ideal of personal freedom.

Is a society based on personal freedom in denial of its role as validator, and cate taker of each other? Is a free society one in which the bulk of its members lack a sense of belonging to and being an essential part of the body politic? The high incidence of depression might seen to indicate that this is the case, so might be the fact that free societies often foster the largest and most drastic disparities between the have and have nots.

I personally am grateful to live in a society that is not overtly oppressive and allows me to largely become the person I want to be. Yet, I am embarrassed to be a part of a society that does not provide the basic needs of life to its citizens.

I do not feel that my level of intelligence, energy and drive makes me a better person than others and entitles me to a quality of life superior to those who have a so called lower level of intelligence and energy.

I would gladly sacrifice a little of my so called freedom to insure that others have a good life. It appears obvious to me that any good society should provide a basic level of food, shelter, clothing, medical care and information for all its citizens. One in which suffering would be minimized and quality of life is maximized.

Our system of free market capitalism almost dictates the fact that a good portion of foods and goods are left to spoil, be thrown away, discarded or destroyed. As I’ve pointed out in a number of previous posts, waste and profit are inextricably linked.

In a profit based economy disparity is a necessary and logical outcome. At any given moment in time wealth is determined by the portion of the total pie a person has, any increase in proportion of one person causes a decrease in relative wealth of at least one other person. Stored wealth (capital) decreases the functional wealth of many other individuals.

An empire can disguise this reality while it is in its expansion phase of using and pirating the wealth and resources of other nations. In this expansion phase the quality of life of even the lowest people in a society get a relatively smaller lift, giving the false impression that the economic system benefits all and is the cause of the improvements in quality of life. In reality the economic system is the beneficiary of empire not the cause of wealth expansion.

We currently have enough food to feed the planet, but we do not have enough jobs for everyone on the planet. More specifically we do not have the type of jobs which a profit based economy is able to produce which protects the profit margins of the employer class.

In a profit based economy expansion almost requires an escalating disparity for how else is the necessary capital for expansion acquired. Likewise why would a wealthy businessman expand his business if his relative wealth were not expanding and if his relative wealth were expanding then the wealth of the general populace must be decreasing.
Yet, if we wanted to play this game of earning and competing for financial gain we could still do so in a caring and free society. If all people were provided with a basic standard of living including medical care, housing and a healthy diet, any increase above this base could be acquired through a profit based system of competitive free enterprise.

In such a dual layer system we could honor our moral ideals of providing all with a basic quality of life while minimizing suffering and providing an opportunity for all to engage in the “pursuit of happiness”. While at the same time encouraging and rewarding those who yearn to outperform their contemporaries, or want to amass wealth and possessions the means to do so without contributing to the suffering of others or indirectly reducing the possibility for others to acquire their basic needs.

A free society should honor both words (freedom and society). Individuals should be free from oppression and should be given an opportunity to create rewarding and healthy lives. Yet, if at all possible their freedom should not hinder or reduce the ability of others in the community from having their basic needs provided for them. A lack of abilities or ambition should not preclude someone, or their children, from basics such as food, shelter and medical care.

Jim Guido

« Previous PageNext Page »