ask not what he meant when he wrote it, but what you felt when you read it
I would say, for the most part my life has been low key, but I do have some experiences not everybody has. I graduated from the University of Washington with a Business degree majoring in accounting. I have worked for two of the components of the Dow Industrial Average index. I was briefly a member of the 1% club and misplaced my membership card. I have ridden motorcycles, wrecked a 40’ boat, had a 36’ boat destroyed in a marina fire and spent two weeks in court being sued for $500k (I won). As a self-employed builder, I built over 300 homes and had 20 people working for me. I still have a couple of dragons to slay, this blog being one of them.
When I decided to start writing again, the immediate question is what to write about. When the random topic pops into my head, I will feel free to write about it. The thing left hanging from some of my previous writing is my solution to all the World’s problems. This has been racing around in my brain for some time. One of the things I found with my previous writing is getting something down in writing allows the brain some peace. The ideas are preserved. Its time for another brain cleanse.
One of the things I see lacking is most of the cries I read for this reform or that reform or improvement is a sense of how it all fits together. I believe the world is one big living organism. Everything effects everything else. Take for example the $15 minimum wage. The moral philosopher Harry Frankfurt has the concept of sufficiency. Is this sufficient? What must be paid out of this? Does it include health care. What about the escalation of the cost of living? What about the variation in the cost of living in different areas of the country? What about special needs? What about families, multiple wage-earning families, childcare, etc.? Surely increasing the minimum wage will benefit a lot of people, but what is the intent? What are we trying to achieve? Will this accomplish our goals? Everyone has different actual needs. If it is indeed inflationary, will it be adequate after its effects are rolled into the economy?
Borrowing again from Frankfurt, what is sufficient? The immorality of the huge income disparity existent now is not that the rich are so rich, but the poor aren’t elevated to a level of sufficiency. Then there is the problem of Climate Change and planet resource cannibalization. What about the goal of global political stability, human rights, global economic disparity. All this in a context of a future in which computers and robots will be performing an increasing percentage of the world’s output of goods and services. Our task in thinking about this, let alone integrating it all is almost overwhelming. Is mankind up to the Task?
One of the biggest problems we face is no governmental body is anxious to implement any policy that might inconvenience or irritate the electorate. The other problem is the world is primarily controlled by the money interests that are the poster definition of selfish.
I am not looking for the world to accept my concepts. I want the world to be aware of them, let a little of it sink into their thinking and get their brain up off the sofa and start working on the solution. We are working on the problems with a delicate surgical scalpel when we should be using a meat axe.
I do, what to some is, a lot of reading. I have an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. Due to my space and budget limitations, I purchase very few books. My main source is the library. I like to do a lot of things they way it is recommended not to, therefore I select many of my books by the cover. I usually check out more than I can read before they are due. If I start reading and the writing is poor or the subject is presented in an uninteresting manner, I just close the book and move on to the next. I have started keeping a list of the books that I have finished. I didn’t keep track of when I started the list, but I will guess it was around September of 2022. I can see that most of the books on the list have impacted the way I think. The last week or so, the reading has been a little heavy, so I cleansed by binge watching the first season of “The Good Place” on DVD, also checked out of the library. I am providing the list here, not as recommendations, but as background to my writing.
how truth can be selectively manipulated to create competing truths
his argument is we don’t have it
CLEARY, SKYE C
HOW TO BE AUTHENTIC
The Big thing
how to tackle a big project of your own making
Useful Delusions: the Power & paradox of the Self-deceiving brain
The Life-changing Science of Detecting Bullshit
STUMBLING ON HAPPINESS
HOW THE IMAGINATION WORKS
BENNETT, MICHAEL AND BENNETT, SARAH
pragmatic approach to feelings, and life problems
The Sunny Nihilist
a different take on philosophy
Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart
This was a saying my grandfather used to say. The book contains 31 short pieces of wisdom
How nature effects our physical and mental wellbeing.
A Brief History of Equality
a good primer on equality and the reasons for growth and some needs for the future. Told from the French perspective.
The Solitude of self
biographical essay on Elizabeth Cady Stanton
The Trouble with Reality
short but very informative on the current political scene
LOVE AFTER 50
BENNETT, MICHAEL AND BENNETT, SARAH
pragmatic approach to relationships
BISHOP, GARY JOHN
good advice in general
Thaler, Richard H
Misbehaving: The making of behavioral economics
A Little History of Economics
REICH, ROBERT B.
The problems with capitalism and some possible solutions
How to Avoid a Climate Disaster
COLE, JONI B
Good Naked: Reflections on How to Write More, Write Better & Be Happier
Numbers Don’t Lie: 71 Stories to Help Us Understand the Modern World
Teaching Black History to White People
good read, good campanion to “A Brief History of Equality” by Piketty
In a recent post, I mentioned the 50-75 year cycle of our relative humanity to our fellow man. Months ago, I saw a Tweet with an image of the 1956 Republican platform (66 years ago). I have written the items from that Tweet here:
Provide federal assistance to low-income communities
Protect Social Security
Provide asylum for refugees
Extend minimum wage
Improve unemployment benefit system so it covers more people
Strengthen labor laws so workers can easily join a union
There are many other points in the text including strong voting rights, belief in science, need for better education, better health care, stronger NATO and the list goes on. The text is long, and it took me an hour to assimilate. Today’s Republican party would agree with less than 10% of it’s contents. What has happened? They wrote this. This is what they stood for.
As I sit here, in my new writing chair, in the last week of 2022, I am struck by the thought of what a mess the world is in. That’s not to say everything is bad. We have made some genuine progress in 2022. The travesty is the progress came from such a low base. I read a lot. Someplace in my reading I saw we (the world, the US, you pick) go through cycles of our levels of humanity. They usually last about 50-75 years. We are at the bottom now. The bottom seems to be coated with some sticky shit that is making it difficult to get out. I really hope it doesn’t take 75 years to dig our way out, because I don’t think we have 75 years left if we don’t make some huge strides very soon. Things like climate change, income inequality and social justice are hurtling to the point of no return. I have also read about some cause for optimism. I only hope the crossover point is before we are looking up from the abyss and can’t reach the top.
I have many ideas running around in my head on how I would address the problems of the world. I don’t know if all of them are workable and I’m certain we don’t have the fortitude to implement them in a timely manner. I don’t know if I will be able to stay at the task long enough to get them all published
It’s too easy to find reasons not to write. Depending on the situation and subject, writing can be difficult and motivation scarce. About 9 months ago, I moved into an RV. I’ve written a little about this and will write more. The reason I mention this is I’ve used the logistics of writing in an RV to stall my writing. The space just wasn’t convenient enough. I finally came to a solution. I built a desk that fit the space available and functioned the way my peculiar tastes wanted. Then I found an excellent sitting solution (some might call this a chair) on evil Amazon (more about Amazon’s “evils” later). It was more than I wanted to pay but I “bit the bullet” and ordered it. It works perfectly for my situation, and I am sitting on it now as I write this. I have exhausted all my excuses for not writing. Now I am only left with that well known NIKE advertising slogan “Just Do It.” I have ideas swirling around in the noggin.
I just finished reading a book on writing motivation and how to have fun writing. One of the pointers was to just start writing. Its not necessary to start at the beginning. Just put something down and keep typing and life will fill in around it. This little ditty is an example of that in practice. It does feel good to get something down on paper, even if it is of little social import.
I’ve been reading a lot in the interim on many different subjects. My views on many things have been colored by this reading. These authors will be heard in the background as part of the chorus that hopefully gives depth to my writing.
Usually, when I post poetry, it is light or inspirational. I have read the human brain has fifty thousand random thoughts a day and a certain percentage of them can be a little dark. I am posting two poems today that might not be considered “light”. You be the judge, as you always should be.
Pain is the universal teacher It can guide us into a different place It shows us the light It shows us the dark Sometimes it’s just a spark Its contrast helps us life to embrace It revels in its might It caresses us with its deception Sometimes we miss the inception It travels like the wind Its consistency can be like a friend It can be an evil addiction We must fight to make the transition It blocks the road to our wonder land It troubles the human race All who are familiar are not our friend
The subconscious has an agenda It consistently travels towards the goal We can’t guide it Where would we send it? Experience is a callous teacher We are learning the direction of the flow Examine your perceived goals Are they sending you down a rabbit hole? Manage your life, it’s your soul
I sometimes have a tendency to make things more complicated than necessary. I will try to resist that here because Income Tax is already as complicated as it needs to be. My purpose in this post is to show the history of income tax rates to have a basis for future discussions. To do this, I made some arbitrary assumptions to have a thread to follow. All the data in this post is based on that fabled family of four. As the baseline income, I used the poverty level as defined by the US Census Bureau. They first reported this number in 1959 and the latest data readily available is 2020. The values correlate .9968 with the June through June change in the Consumer Price Index, so I used these values to fill in 1952-1958 and 2021 on my chart. I plotted six different levels of income to show the relative effect of the rate structure on their tax liability. The case I call INDV1 is the poverty level as defined and reported by the US Census Bureau. INDV2 is twice that level, INDV5 is five times the poverty rate, etc., INDV25, INDV50, INDV100. Their 2021 gross income before exemptions and standard deduction is shown below:
I also publish some poetry on Quora.com. According to them, I have 35 posts. Most of them have less than 100 views. One of them has 1800 views. I have previously published it here, but I am going to publish it again. It’s something we need more of in these trying times.
Man looks up with a vacant stare He knows there’s hope, just not where It came to him one night In a blinding flash of light A smile came across his face There is hope for the human race Knowledge is the path to what is right It scrapes away the simmering blight Leaving the raw beauty without a trace
Poetry doesn’t have to make sense. That’s part of the beauty. The books I’ve read on how to write poetry recommend reading a lot of poetry to become better at writing it. That advice makes logical sense which is why it doesn’t seem to work for me. I have been able to find so little poetry I enjoy reading. They say one should spend a lot of time editing. I generally don’t. What is the point? They talk about writing for the reader. I believe a writer should write for their own reasons and if someone else finds it worth reading, that would be great. I write to explore what is in my brain. When the words appear on the screen, then I know. When I start writing, especially with poetry, I’m not always sure where it’s going. We can discover together. Some people do crossword puzzles. Some people do Sudoku. I write. I leave you today with a couple of those explorative poems:
Death of innocence The end of childhood Becoming an adult Who said, “it’s a good thing”? To escape from it all Some go to the mall We can try, but can’t have it all Cleanse your mind Banish the mundane The alternative is to be insane
The sweetness of a mountain meadow Life is more than looking out the window The music of a mountain stream The song of the forgotten A patchwork of emotions The life of the unexpected Not a life of making plans The allure of the unknown The seduction of the soul The ecstasy of the new The anguish of the forgotten The stream as cold as an ogre’s heart The window becomes the mirror of life We all have a song Sing it so all can hear With it, life becomes clear