Facing a life-threatening condition without despair

The problem is never the problem; the problem is your reaction to the problem.

If we had a big party just before we expired, with friends and family, all smiles and laughter to the end, and went out with a song in our hearts, then even death wouldn’t seem particularly tragic. It would just seem like the end of a mundane process.

It IS just the end of a process.

Death is not a problem; the problem is suffering as a result of pain and fear.

It’s not the end of any thing. As far as we’re aware, nothing comes into existence, nothing goes out of existence, things just change form. There is no self; it’s just a purposeful illusion that helps us to maintain biological integrity. When our life’s work is finished, nothing that’s real disappears!

तत् त्वम सि — Thou art that
You are the Kosmos looking back on itself. Not just part of it; you are the whole thing experiencing itself. Your sense of separateness is an illusion caused by thoughts localized around lots of different perspectives that don’t communicate directly.

There is no separate “self”; it’s an illusion. You needn’t fear losing something that doesn’t exist.

We are Awareness experiencing streams of sensory input. Sensory experiences come in and out of Awareness. But our true nature, Awareness, exists outside time and has no moving parts to wear out!

What happens is that we fall in love with individual streams of sensory input, start identifying with them, and develop an “ego”. The ego is a purposeful illusion, that helps us maintain biological boundaries and give us an incentive to fight for survival as long as possible. That part is good.

The only bad part is identifying with something that never did have any tangible existence, and then worrying about something going away, that never actually existed.

Ultimately, it’s all good. Suffering implies enjoyment. Death implies birth. Sickness implies health. We tend to think of all these conditions as “opposites”, but they are necessarily two sides of the same coin; only in your imagination, within conceptual boundaries that exist only in your mind, can you have one without the other. It’s mind-boggling, but if we never experienced suffering, we wouldn’t recognize bliss. As any artist can tell you, there’s no foreground without a background!

Without suffering there is no compassion. There wouldn’t even be love, because love implies feelings like care & loss that wouldn’t exist if there was no need for care and no possibility of loss.

Mindfulness of suffering reminds me to be compassionate to everyone, including even people I don’t like. I remember that they suffer too, and that their behaviors that cause me to suffer are a result of trying to avoid suffering themselves.

Without suffering, there would also be no compassion; we’d all be completely selfish. Some would argue “no loss”. Are they so sure about that? Would our experiences be that much less rich for not ever having experienced compassion?

What about courage? Is that worth experiencing?

If you can experience life from something closer to a God’s-eye point of view, you embrace it all, even the suffering. You kiss the wheel of Samsara, the cycle of birth, suffering and enjoyment, and death. Samsara is nothing more or less than the other side of Nirvana. Their dual nature is an illusion of your mind, which separates things out with conceptual boundaries that exist only in your mind so that it can process reality in workable chunks.

Ask for help handling pain

Pain is our friend; its purpose is to alert us to harm that needs our attention. If it’s chronic and associated with a condition you already know about, then it’s no longer needed. You can ask your doctor for help to at least take the edge off it.

Handle pain by handling suffering

I am myself in chronic pain. I don’t take any pain medications because I don’t feel any need. Maybe someday I will, but not today.

Suffering is not the same thing as pain; suffering is more like mental anguish. If you can reduce suffering, your tolerance of pain increases. This isn’t my opinion; it’s an experimentally-derived empirical fact. If people are in a good mood, their tolerance of pain is much higher than if they’re already miserable. This is how my own pain is quite tolerable to me. I am content, and happy most of the time.

You can reduce suffering by dissociating from the body. Sri Ramana Maharshi maintained peace of mind through the process of cancer. He would look at his aching arm, where the tumor was, and calmly remark “poor arm”. I do the same thing with my chronic pain. “My body is in pain. I’m OK. I enjoy life. I have work yet to accomplish (finishing raising a young daughter!), and I am grateful for the time I have left to work on it”.

  • Happiness solves all problems. Keep your spirits as high as you can.
  • Start noticing blessings. What you are grateful for, contributes to your happiness. What you take for granted, doesn’t.
  • Spend time with family and friends, doing things you enjoy, up to your ability. It doesn’t have to be expensive or extravagant. Just a phone call will raise your spirits. If that isn’t possible, recall warm, happy memories. Think loving thoughts of them, and they will ease your own mind.
  • Mindfulness training can help reduce anxiety caused by over-thinking things you have no control over.
  • Exercise if you’re up to it, and just time outdoors, at least 10 minutes twice a day, can help keep your spirits up.

You are a part of the team that’s fighting for your life. Your immune system is working hard to destroy disease and heal your body. Enjoy the comfort of rest and relaxation when you need them. This fight is part of your divine purpose.

This post is dedicated with love to my wife, who has been living with stage 4 cancer for about 5 years now, and with the warm hand of friendship across the aether that connects us to Justin Raimondo who has been diagnosed with late-stage adeenocaricinoma cancer. Justin is the editor of Antiwar.com. He has dedicated his life to the causes of peace and freedom.

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Make sure it’s good as gold!

Owning precious metals that you have in your own possession is one of the best ways to protect yourself from financial crises involving either or both of default or inflation.

All bets are off if you “own” gold on paper but don’t actually have possession of it. In a crisis, which is precisely when gold is useful, there’s a big risk that whoever owes you the gold won’t be able to give it to you, because at any one time, there is more gold owed than actually exists. It’s a little like a game of musical chairs, except the odds are far worse!

One more hazard is fake gold. The element tungsten is close enough in atomic weight to gold that when cast into coins or bars and plated with gold, it’s hard to distinguish them from gold coins or bars non-destructively.

In a case that happened in Canada recently, a jewelry merchant discovered the gold bar he had just bought from the Royal Bank of Canada wasn’t gold after his goldsmith broke a tool trying to mill it for the jeweler.

The jeweler alerted the news-media when the RBC declined to do anything about the problem. First of all, the jeweler was out the money he spent on the bar. But second, he and his goldsmith realized that most customers don’t attempt to mill their gold into jewelry; they keep it in the original packaging and toss it into a safe for long-term storage. Nobody will realize they’ve been cheated until long after it’s too late to do anything about it.

Because of this risk, it’s up to the mints and the dealers to maintain high standards of quality control to keep fake gold out of their business transactions. Somewhere in the process one or two high-profile gold dealers that were assumed to be trustworthy failed to keep fake gold out of their system. Caveat emptor.


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Our global central planners say these are the skills you need to thrive.

The World Economic Forum works for the globalists to squeeze more flesh and blood out of the human livestock. They organize and communicate ideas for increasing economic output, and find ways of reducing the cost impact of social and demographic changes mandated by their bosses. I’ve discovered that it’s a good idea to listen to what they have to say, because they have the deep pockets and work with the right people to make things happen.

Some of their advice is good, and some of it horrible. My guess is that the better advice is the result of their brainstorming ways to run economies more efficiently, and the bad advice the result of trying to make their boss’es bad ideas work.

Here’s some of the better advice, along with my commentary:

These are the skills you should learn that will pay off forever

Here’s the short list:

Emotional intelligence (EQ): This is a bad name for a combination of good emotional self-management and empathy. Basically, if you manage your own emotions well, so that you have emotions that motivate you instead of causing trouble, that’s good, and if you can help people you work with (especially your boss!) manage their emotions, that’s even better. It’s called “EQ” in comparison to “IQ”, but for anyone of at least average intelligence, it contributes more to career success than IQ. Basically, if you’re smart enough to be competent, this is where the next biggest payoff will be.
Time management: Another misnomer. You can’t really “manage time” aside from allocating it, or wasting it. This is really about scheduling important tasks first, and making sure that your definition of “importance” covers future payoffs. What tends to happen instead is that people fall into habits (eg checking email too often), and work on routine matters instead of what’s really important. Another problem is when people find reasons to work on something other than that unpleasant, but important task.
Listening: The author already brought up the important part: keeping your attention focused on the other person, instead of what you’re going to say next.
Saying No: Oddly enough, sometimes you have to say “no” to avoid disappointing other people! Sometimes this one is hard for men, because saying “no” could be interpreted to mean that you’re lacking power or competence to do the task. Worse, that might even be true! But keeping the commitments you make is a much bigger payoff, and that means that sometimes you have to say “no” to commitments you can’t keep.
Asking for help: This is another hard one for men, because it violates the taboo on male vulnerability. You’re not supposed to let out anything that might be construed as a weakness, like, say, not knowing how to do something, or not being able to manage something alone. Women not only have no trouble with this, they often use it to their advantage (cue woman asking big, strong man to help her open jar as she bats her eyes at him). However, just like saying “no”, it’s a bigger win to keep your commitments, than to not ask for help, and then end up FAILING.
Getting high-quality sleep: This is mostly a matter of knowing when to call it quits for the day, and being able to wind down and clear your mind for the evening. Sounds simple but what most people do is they over-stimulate their brains with television, internet use, or texting late in the evening.
Knowing when to shut up: Judging from the author’s comments, this is about not needing other people to validate you. You can be right, and know you’re right, and not need for anyone else to admit being wrong. Sometimes its a matter of doing the right thing BUT letting other people who are wrong save face.
Taking initiative: This can be tricky on two counts. One is overcoming fear of taking initiative–or in some cases a habit of not taking initiative–if your childhood was over-controlled. Another problem can be when you’re in an over-controlled, bureaucratic work environment (in that case, you might consider finding a different job). One thing that helps is when you take initiative that makes your BOSS look good. Then (s)he’s more likely to back you up.
Staying positive: This can be a tricky one. It doesn’t mean only telling people what they want to hear. It also doesn’t mean being Mr. Optimist and then irritating and frustrating other people when they KNOW that things are going wrong. It means that when things do go wrong, you admit it but don’t catastrophize, don’t complain about it, and don’t blame other people over it. It’s more like “I see there’s a big problem here. I want to help solve it. Let’s figure out what went wrong, and cut our losses.” It’s also staying in a good mood so as to encourage other people who are already feeling under stress. To do this, you need to manage your own reactions to problems.

These are not skills you can learn in college, but you can learn them here. Subscribe!

Public schools: broken, or world-class?

I feel for this man:

“The System Is Broken”: Angry Baltimore Dad Lashes Out As 12th Grader Tests At 4th Grade Math Level

He says:

“They failed my son,” said Able. “Not just my son, a whole lot of kids. The system is broken. They need to stop and fix it.”

The school district says:

“We provide a unique environment that is designed to empower students, nurture a sense of belonging and gives teachers autonomy to establish a strong culture of learning. Our faculty and staff are dedicated professionals who work diligently to ensure that all students receive the best education and our best efforts.”

Which is it? Broken, or “the best education”? Well, first ask yourself what the standard is for  “the best education”. You’ll find that there isn’t one, and therefor the claim is meaningless.

The schools local to where I live use a lot of flattering superlatives to describe themselves. It wasn’t my idea, but my wife succumbed to social pressure to send one of our kids to a local public school for a few years. It was a catastrophe, and probably psychologically scarred him for life. I’m still working on undoing the damage.

Aside from the bullying and other horrors, I encountered:

  • Notes home from the teachers using “invented” (non-standard) spellings.
  • teachers who have no idea how to teach kids to read. They were doing bizarre practices like weekly word lists, where the whole class would go over a list of words every day for a week, hoping that they would learn to associate the written word with the spoken word. There were absolutely no decoding strategies, like “sound it out” taught. By mid 2nd-grade, most of the students were still profoundly illiterate. The minority of readers, like our son, were mostly the ones who learned to read from activities at home.
  • teachers who are profoundly innumerate. They can’t do arithmetic accurately or efficiently, and therefor they can’t teach it either.
  • teachers who are political and social radicals. The discovery that numerous Antifa members who were arrested for rioting turned out to be public school teachers should not have been a surprise to anyone who pays any attention to what’s been going on in the public school system for a long time now. We saw evidence of radical political activism decades ago. Even back then, the principal sent home notes reminding us not to refer to “my son” or “our daughter”; you were supposed to say “I am the caregiver of Suzy”. Xie was offended by references to biological relationships or gender. One of the teachers was a 300+ lb genderqueer who constantly wore a surgical mask and claimed to be allergic to men. I remember one poster on the wall had depictions of fatherless, “feminist” living arrangements (single mother, daughter-mother-grandmother, lesbian couple and children, multiple women and children in a “feminist” commune situation, etc), and a caption that said “Families come in all shapes and sizes”.
  • a principal who claimed that basing grades on test scores and homework completion was “racist” (sic) and “illegal” (sic). She claimed that grades were based on “ability versus effort”, which in effect meant grading students prejudicially judged to be smarter more harshly than students prejudicially judged to be less able. In other words, grades had nothing to do with actual performance.
  • a school superintendent who was profoundly incompetent and borderline illiterate. She was eventually fired not for incompetence, but because one of her cronies was caught defrauding the school system. The system is in fact plagued with chronic embezzlement.

To be clear I’m not claiming all teachers have these problems. In fact, some teachers are themselves victimized by their schools. Some common problems I have heard about:

  • Workplace bullying
  • Getting blamed for problems and performance gaps they didn’t create and have no control over
  • Being forced to comply with inane and cruel regulations, like limiting bathroom breaks for special-needs students whom it is unreasonable to expect to plan their potty breaks.
  • Rewards doled out for reasons other than actual merit. This is one way schools end up with incompetent teachers; the competent ones look for employers who will treat them better.

In some regards, even the administrators were bullied and harassed by bad policies, like holding them responsible for the performance of their students, but giving them no control over which ones they got. Another problem was that the administrators would be punished if certain protected classes of students were punished more often than other classes, without regard to actual commission of offenses. As a result, the whole schools end up plagued with violent incidents that administrators don’t know how to control without the possibility of getting into trouble themselves.

I don’t have a solution, because I don’t control the system. If I did, it wouldn’t be broken. If you happen to live in the USA or a few other countries, you have the option of opting out to either private school, or in some cases homeschooling. In some US states and most countries, homeschooling is not an option. In many districts, private schools are little better than public because the same government sets the standards for both and dominates the process for designing textbooks.

We opted out after the situation turned into constant harassment of our son. I have a lot of posts about homeschooling to share.

Millenial men, buck this trend…

Millennials Are Delaying Marriage Because Men Aren’t Earning Enough

Economists and social scientists have gathered multitudes of data about Millennials’ tendency to delay the traditional milestones of maturity (starting a career, getting married, buying a home, having kids) in favor of a prolonged adolescence.

But in a new study examining household formation patterns in the US, Pew Research Center has isolated the biggest factor behind the rise in those households without a partner or spouse: “The declining ability of men to earn a salary large enough to sustain a family.”

No surprise to me; “good jobs” are getting sparse, and the lack of enough to go around is probably impacting men more than women.

…men are more reluctant to marry and start families unless they’re earning above a threshold, which Pew identified as $40,000, the Hill reported.

I would bet a cookie that it’s more likely that women are more reluctant to marry them if it doesn’t look like they can support a family. In fact, I would bet it’s hard even to just get dates!

I don’t have a quick tip to pass along. My advice for the moment would simply be to make a plan to earn a “livable” income, and make it a high priority.

No good jobs, no good help

Most of you are younger than I am, so you might not have as much personal experience watching job opportunities dry up over time. I think most people are vaguely aware of the trend though, because I’ve seen internet “memes” like “Old Economy Steve/Steven”, which typically claim that the late baby boomers had an easy…

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Recollections of the future, part 1

Sally knew this was a bad idea before she even started out. Despite her misgivings, nothing was going wrong at the moment. She had just gotten off the bus downtown. It was a busy street, and business was good. On street level there was still shopping for items that were commonly-enough used to keep in…

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Student loan delinquency rate headed back up

Is The Bubble About To Burst? Student-Loan Delinquency Rates Rise For First Time In Years

Since the financial crisis, most market observers and economists have cheerfully ignored the aggregate student-debt load in the US, which recently swelled to an economy-threatening $1.4 trillion. Even as student-debt, which can’t be discharged in bankruptcy [emphasis added], grew to represent 10% of the total US debt burden, defenders of the status quo pointed to declining default rates as evidence that the government-backed student loan industry wasn’t in danger of imploding.

But that may soon change.

the student-loan default rate in the US ticked higher during the second quarter for the first time since 2013. …the share of Americans at least 31 days late on loans from the U.S. Department of Education ticked up to 18.8% as of June 30, up from 18.6% during the same period a year ago, according to new federal data. Meanwhile, about 3.3 million Americans have gone more than a month without making a required payment on their Education Department loans—up about 320,000 borrowers.

Actually, I’m surprised that the delinquencies ever went into decline for so long. The long-term trend is undoubtedly up, at least, until someone pulls the plug on the loan programs.

The problem with subsidizing loans, regardless of the intent, is that it results in the borrowers BIDDING UP the price of whatever the loan is being used to buy. In the case of student loans, there’s nothing tangible on the student’s side of the deal: all (s)he has is a credential that MIGHT make it possible to get a job, but then (s)he STILL has to work off the debt.

And then there’s the risk that (s)he WON’T find any job at all after graduation, or only one that doesn’t pay very well. That’s probably what’s happening, and why student loan delinquencies are turning into a major fiasco.

Young adults are pressured into getting the loans so that they can go to college, primarily to “prove” to themselves that they’re smart. It’s not really much of a ticket to financial success or a middle-class lifestyle. More likely, nowadays, they end up accumulating debt that will set them back for the rest of their lives.

That’s why it’s important to focus on exactly one thing: training for marketable skills for a price that “pencils out”.

Carve out the job you deserve!

Deep-pocketed corporate employment, the kind that used to be called “a good job”, as depicted in the Monster.com ad, will be increasingly out of your reach as the years go by. But don’t fret; there are other options, and you’d do well to aggressively pursue them.

That said, what if you could…

  • Not act like a wimp?
  • Compellingly negotiate with your boss so that he doesn’t want to waste your time and attention?
  • Not depend on how other people treat you to maintain a good mood and high energy level?
  • Go home in a great mood, even if the boss snapped his fingers at you?
  • Build rapport with the old boy?
  • Initiate change instead of just react to your experiences?

Then YOU could have that lady’s job after she miraculously finds one that revolves around HER needs! And you could find it a lot more satisfying than she ever did! Win⸺win! Subscribe today and I’ll tell you how!

Don’t think in terms of “getting” (sic) “the job you deserve”; if it was handed to you, YOU DON’T DESERVE IT. The message of passivity is reinforced by the monster having to rescue the damsel in distress.

Think more like an entrepreneur, EVEN IF YOU’RE WORKING FOR SOMEONE ELSE. What do I have to do to make a compelling offer to my boss, so that he thinks of me as a strategic partner, not as an organic and highly interchangeable (that is, replaceable) cog in his machine? How do I take initiative? Add value? Leave my boss and colleagues delighted customers? Keep coming up with new benefits that keep them coming back for more?

 

Harpy attack! Here’s what to do…

NB, foul language in the video! (there’s also one naughty word in my commentary below)

This video isn’t new but it’s recently been circulating among some of the people I follow on Twitter. The young woman in the video is apparently triggered by white males. “White” has become the trendy whipping boy but male is probably the key factor.

I ran into that kind of behavior in college even though that was a while ago. It wasn’t as common then as it is now, was tolerated more than condoned, and like most people I foolishly assumed that it would burn itself out, rather than turn into the conflagration it is now.

Actually, it goes back long before then. Misandric fixation has apparently always existed.

Contrary to what we might nowadays suppose to be the case, misandric fixation is not necessarily the result of subjection to ideological indoctrination. Historical cases reveal that the condition can take hold without the subject having been influenced by either Marxist or eugenics ideologies. Indoctrination can, obviously, exacerbate certain vulnerabilities in the subject – weaknesses of character which were pre-existent; yet indoctrination is not a necessary prerequisite to the misandric fixation condition.

Some things that changed over the years is that I grew up in the tail end of expectations of public behavior that no longer exist, and there were also taboos against talking about fringe elements, so these kinds of incidents got scrubbed from public awareness. There were no guerrilla youtube videos then either. You only knew about these incidents if one of them happened to you. As a result they came as nasty surprises.

A typical incident when I went to college was when I was working in the university cafeteria, and a woman dressed like a stereotypical terrorist came to order an espresso. As I was making it, she launched into a monolog about all the things she thought was wrong with me.

Her comments were extremely personal; she was talking about me as if she had know me for years, but we’d never met before. She was ripping into me with completely made-up accusations and insults right off the top of her head, one after another, on and on. She was calm but “creepy”.

Without knowing her life story, I could take a guess: it’s a mental illness such as “malignant paranoia”. Those are the ones who accuse other people of their own dark and hostile thoughts.

There were a few similar incidents, often involving minor contentions. One of them walked up to me out of the blue while I was using a public phone, and demanded that I end my call and turn the phone over to her. I had just started using it, and she hadn’t been waiting. I finished my call, and she launched into a barrage of insults. Another guess: narcissistic personality disorder, or something similar. Those are the ones who are self-obsessed to the point of not caring about anyone else’s rights or feelings.

In both of these incidents, what seemed to trigger the confrontation was running into a man and not wanting him to exist.

There were a lot of other incidents that were briefer and less dramatic. Middle fingers and a few foul words in passing, that sort of thing. Typically there was no warning and no provocation on my part that I could discern, or it didn’t make sense, like getting angry after I just did her a favor (that she interpreted in some twisted way to imagine malicious motives), just a sudden hostile confrontation, leaving me upset and wondering what I’d done wrong.

If I had to guess, there are some commonalities:

  1. failure to ever come to terms with their sexual orientation and, by extension, their feelings about men as sexual rivals.
  2. subclinical mental illnesses such as personality disorders. These are rarely professionally-diagnosed or treated, hence the expression “sub-clinical”.
  3. the politicization of their thought processes and feelings. In the old days, these women would have been isolated by high cost of travel and communication, but nowadays, they can easily find each other, convince themselves that they’re “normal” by way of “social proof”, and synergistically feed off each other.

The young man whose voice we can hear in the video is trying to reason with her. There’s no point; anything he says will actually make her dig in her heels all the deeper just because he’s saying it. Here are some tips for when you run into one of these:

  • Don’t take it personally. It’s not you, it’s something going on in her own head.
  • Don’t feel bad for not being approved of, and don’t grovel for approval. She has no incentive to give you any; on the contrary, the more you react, the more she’ll zoom in on whatever she figures out gets your goat. Remember, she wants you to feel bad (notice how the young woman in the video is grinning with delight as she hurls insults), so don’t give her any feedback that will tip her off.
  • No point getting angry either.
  • Disengage as soon as the behavior starts. There’s no point; you can’t help her, and you have better things to do with your life.
  • Say as little as possible to end the conversation. Be aware that this type often craves a good fight, might start following you to taunt you more, & might even try to stage an incident. Disengage and get out of the situation.
  • If you run into one of these at a business, take your business elsewhere, and write the management a polite letter regarding what happened. Keep calm, don’t exaggerate, and keep it objective. Don’t sound like you’re complaining, sound like you’re trying to alert a responsible person that there’s a problem he or she needs to know about.
  • Colleges are full of these, and often they get themselves into “gate-keeping” roles; beware! These are a good reason why it’s a bad idea for young men and especially white males to go to college anymore.
  • If you run into one of these in a workplace situation, document every incident, tell trusted 3rd parties who might later be witnesses if you need them, and get ready for the possibility of legal action. Bear in mind that she is likely to bring it against you, despite being the guilty party. And, using “pussy power”, she might very well get away with it! You might need to look for another job, but jobs are scarce, and these creatures are ubiquitous, so you might have to stand and fight a battle of law and persuasion. Be prepared to do so.

Someone else’s take on the post-employment economy

I’m not the only one who thinks you and your kids need to be prepared for a future that will be harsh and brutally-competitive. Here’s a documentary worth watching: Obsolete, on Amazon Video http://amzn.to/2kFn0qL If you have Amazon Prime, which is how I stumbled onto it, you can probably watch it for free. As of…

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Ready or not, here comes Sociofascism

Michael Snyder states the obvious for the benefit of people still in denial:

40 Percent Of Americans Now “Prefer Socialism To Capitalism”

This was inevitable for many reasons. For one thing, the United States already has its productive infrastructure built-up. The powers-that-shouldn’t-be set their livestock loose on the continent and left them relatively alone (except when drafted for seizing land or resources in wars) to build up the infrastructure. Now that it’s built, they want to switch to a combination of Socialism and Fascism (also known as “corporate Socialism”) because that gives them more direct control over people and other resources.

So, the public and private school systems (including college and university) have been set up to indoctrinate for socialism for decades now. Propaganda disguised as commercial entertainment helps too.

Instead of the government directly managing the means of production itself, the government sets up partnerships with cronies in private corporations, which is Fascism, except that unlike classic Fascism, Sociofascism is hostile to small business and private property for the serfs, and it openly embraces big government. The cronies in private corporations affect a superficial “progressive identity”.

Oddly, the powers-that-shouldn’t-be regularly knock over socialist regimes overseas, like in Venezuela. I don’t have any insider insights, but my guess is that there is a rule that Socialism is for developed economies only; in countries with less infrastructure, they want more productivity first. Another issue might simply be that socialist economies are more vulnerable to trade embargoes; Iran, Syria, and Russia have withstood trade sanctions but Venezuela was an easy target. One factor is undoubtedly fear of seizure and nationalization of assets owned by US government cronies. If and when countries like Venezuela are absorbed into a super-state comparable to the EU, things might change, and if they do, the Venezuelans won’t have any choice!

I have no idea how to stop the tide; at this point my options appear to be to swim or drown. I don’t like the idea of throwing in the towel and joining the forces of evil, though the very wealthy, and in particular a lot of software company executives, have done exactly that. Aside from being the path of least resistance, which is how ruthless people end up on top, socialism helps to protect them from up-and-coming competitors.

Even if I were tempted, I don’t profile correctly to get past the gatekeepers. And the parasites have reached the point of saturation anyway.

In the mean time, you and I have a living to make. That will get harder and harder as the economy contracts, and more and more of the remaining jobs are with companies and government agencies that have hiring preferences for someone else.

Here’s what my plan is counting on: Socialism is Socialism, even when it comes packaged as progressive Fascism. It’s inefficient, and fails to adapt to change. Even to the extent that Socialism is imposed on the rest of us in the form of higher taxes and more regulation, the socialists have to tolerate at least a small sector of private businesses to take care of details they can’t. Even the Soviet Union winked at some black market activities. I don’t think it will be necessary to go black market except for a few services like medical—imagine going to see some guy who isn’t a doctor but knows how to set a broken arm, because you don’t rank high enough in the socialized medicine system to get to see a doctor within any kind of reasonable time-frame. Mostly it will be grey-market and tolerated as long as you don’t give someone in the system reason to come after you. Watch your back! Tolerances will be low and gatekeepers on the internet are already watching your every move.

Watch for my mailing list subscription, which is about ready for roll-out, then sign up for my newsletter so you can follow the discussion.

A conversation with Naval Ravikant and Ryan Shea

Ryan Shea and Naval Ravikant talk about how blockchain and related algorithms and data structures can take human transactions to the next level by removing the involvement of coercive or dishonest 3rd parties. Naval keeps referring to it as “democratization”, but this is actually better than that.

An analogy would be to language: most of the time, nobody dictates to anyone else what words to use, or what words should mean what, or how they should be pronounced (a dictionary might give a guideline, but it can’t enforce them; variants break out all the time). The language evolves by usage, and everybody uses the language however they see fit. You don’t vote on it, so there is no rule of mob.

Similarly, when your transactions are disintermediated, you allocate the resources you have earned where you think they should go, and everyone else does too. The enforcement of transactions is automated, distributed, irrevocable, and low-cost. You don’t need a man with a gun involved in order to organize groups of people.

Fired for being a man

Late in 2016, I heard about a lawsuit against Marissa Mayer and two other executives of Yahoo Corp. over policies that lead to a purge of male employees.

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer led illegal purge of male employees, lawsuit charges

Recently I looked to see if I could find a resolution, but I couldn’t.

What happened was that Mayer hired two executives with stated objectives of employing more women, and an apparent willingness to fire male employees to make room for them.

She also instituted a performance-review process that forced managers to allocate specific percentages of their staff to various performance grades, without regard to their actual performance. In other words, if a highly-competent manager assembled a team of 5 high-performing staff, she would still be forced to rate some of them as under-performers in order to fill her quota of staff to get rid of.

This is a trick some major corporations use to evade labor laws requiring major employers to publicly announce layoffs. This improves their image to the investment community; instead of framing it as “company in financial trouble has to lay off staff”, it turns into just a low-key matter of getting rid of dead weight.

Planning layoffs as a cost-cutting measure, and covering it up by staging an elaborate deception about firing employees for underperformance, is quite a nasty trick: it makes it hard for the fired employees to ever find another job, because it’s impossible to hide lack of good references.

The way these types of performance-review systems are set up, managers have an incentive to spare or sacrifice staff according to the strategic value of their role, instead of on their actual performance. For example, if an employee serves as a shared resource among several different work-groups in different departments, his supervisor has an incentive to give him a low mark on his review, because some of her budget is being spent on service to other departments. She would rather lose staff she’s forced to share with other departments, than staff who work 100% for her.

One of the plaintiffs in this lawsuit unwittingly made himself expendable by taking an approved sabbatical. He was working on a story for the company while on sabbatical, but since he wasn’t working for the company full-time, there was an incentive to get rid of him.

That said, it wasn’t his supervisor who got rid of him. His supervisor’s rating of him was over-ridden by an executive named Megan Liberman. That was another way that the system was designed for abuse: higher-ranking managers could over-ride the ratings assigned by direct supervisors, even if they had no direct awareness of the staff’s actual performance. The point was to allow executives to prune staff according to their own objectives. Liberman and another executive named Savitt had an objective of replacing men with women.

The reason I’m writing about this scenario is because it might happen to you. Your employer doesn’t love you. In all fairness, some employers are conscientious about treating their employees fairly, but competitive pressure, and pressure from investment banks, favor the ones that are ruthless. Your employer pays you money only to the extent that they need your services; if they can, they will get rid of you for any reason that’s compelling to them, often for reasons that aren’t even strictly business-related.

Off the top of my head, I’m aware of four other cases where men were fired for being men; two of them were large-scale systemic purges. I’m also aware that there were organized groups of women at Microsoft lobbying to replace male programmers with women; I would guess that it’s a popular cause in many big corporations.

To understand the risk, it might help to think about why companies would fire men to make room for more women:

  • PR points if they can frame it as “empowering women”. Since women make something like 80% of all consumer purchases, companies selling consumer products have an incentive to frame themselves as “pro-woman”.
  • Avoiding trouble from the equal opportunity commission, which tends to over-look favoritism for “protected” groups. Basically, if the feds want you to employ more X, then you can avoid trouble by employing nothing but X.
  • The recent phenomenon of putting ideology ahead of business profits. We now have activist corporate executives.
  • Misandric executives acting on their personal impulses. Political pressure to hire “feminists” into executive ranks has seeded corporate systems with literal man-haters.
  • Wishful thinking about “pay gaps”: some corporate decision-makers hope that women really are willing to work harder than a man for less pay. Aside from not being true, because as any Libertarian will tell you, everybody gets what they are worth, these strategies backfire spectacularly when women sue their employers for thinking this way.
  • The assumption that women are less ambitious than men and therefor less of a threat as rivals. I’m not so sure about this one. You can find mousy women, but there are plenty of women with fangs and claws, and for that matter, you can find mousy men too. The real problem is that performance is usually tied to aggression: you don’t usually find super-performers willing to meekly submit. More likely, someone needs to tame his or her own ego so (s)he can work with high-performers.
  • Sweetheart deals that are nothing more than legal prostitution. Aside from being the most expensive way ever conceived to get sex, these schemes create liability when the prostitute decides its time for the lawsuit windfall.

All of these motives to replace men with women have costs to the bottom line, but because the cost is transferred from the decision-maker to the stock-holder, there’s an incentive to do it anyway. Corporations tend to have a lot of problems like this one because of the way that decision-makers don’t bear the costs of their decisions.

By the way, I see no reason that companies wouldn’t also start firing employees for other personal attributes. I would guess race is next, if your race does not constitute a protected class.

One way to avoid the problem is to have a preference for working for smaller companies, which can’t afford not to make decisions for reasons that are at odds with profits, and for privately-held companies, which tend to be much more profit-oriented than publicly-held companies. Better yet, be self-employed.

For that matter, it’s a good idea to bail out from any company that starts putting social politics ahead of profits; like Yahoo!, they always end up in financial trouble.

You can also reduce your risk of getting fired by being indispensable. The mistake one of the men made who was fired from Yahoo was taking the sabbatical. Even though he had permission to do so, and was working on a report for the company, that still meant that he wasn’t contributing as much as someone else who was actively working at the company when the company decided to do a round of layoffs.

He probably didn’t realize that layoffs had been planned; the company presumably kept it a secret from employees just like they did from the state. If he would have had a little more sophistication about life, and broader horizons than just his own plans, he would have anticipated it anyway.

Another way to reduce the risk of getting fired is to be popular. First of all, bosses, like most people, tend to make decisions for emotional rather than practical reasons. You’re less likely to get fired iif your boss likes you more than another option for firing. Second, in corporate executions like the ones at Yahoo!, a typical strategy for preparing to fire someone is to socially-isolate him. It’s classic bullying. That’s easier to do if you’re the type who just does his job and keeps to himself aside from some drinks after work on rare occasion, which is true of probably most men. That’s not the way you build working relationships. What matters is the way you relate to others while you are actively working with them.

What about lawsuits? That’s not something I can advise you about, because I’m not a lawyer. It’s also not a matter in which you personally have any control: it’s up to a judge. In this particular case, I haven’t seen any news of a resolution. That means the plaintiffs are still in a bad situation. Part of the problem is that men are not generally sympathy figures; at the moment we’re more likely to be targets of hostility. I wouldn’t count on the courts to protect men from being fired for being men. Lawsuits are at best an act of desperation. It’s better to avoid the situations that lead up to one.

One thing that might help is having counsels to go to when you need advice about a work situation. That’s why I set up a forum to talk about that very topic.

No jobs? Low pay? Here is one reason why…

May 2nd, 2017
Sierra Vista woman finds note from ‘Chinese prisoner’ in Walmart purse

For various reasons including their own well-being, prisoners probably should be kept busy, but only under the conditions that they are guilty of a real crime, and that there is no punishment if they don’t work. According to the note, the prisoners get beatings. All transactions have to be by mutual consent, otherwise, there is a perverse incentive to abuse the captive party, potentially to the point of using entrapment or even bogus charges to round up more slaves, as the Soviet Union was doing, and has actually happened in my US state.

The most common form of slavery is where offers of employment come with a requirement for the prospective slave to repay transportation, housing, and food costs, then trapping them in a situation where they can’t possibly “repay” because their nominal “wages” are too low compared to the costs unilaterally imposed on them. But even older forms exist, without bothering with any pretext of fair exchange, where someone is a slave because their parents were slaves, or because a third-party sold them.

In a globalized economy, everybody in the world competes with everybody else in the world. Specifically, that means that if slavery exists anywhere in the world, then everyone else doing or willing to do the same jobs is competing with slave labor.

Slavery is fairly common worldwide. It is so common that it might be easier to document where it doesn’t occur than where it does. It even occurs in most of the “western” countries as the result of immigrants bringing their chattel with them!

Price competition effectively means that if one major market participant is selling slave-produced goods, then every market participant is faced with the prospect of either selling slave-produced goods, or going out of business. There is also the problem that with complex international supply chains, it would be hard to know if upstream goods were slave produced, assuming the merchant even wanted to know, which more likely than not, they don’t.

The globalists have done nothing to resolve the problem that they exacerbated when they offshored production, which is hardly surprising given that many if not most of them have ancestors who were human traffickers, merchants in slave-produced goods, or investors in slave plantations. These are the same people who harass other people about their “white privilege” over the descendants of their ancestors’ slaves, and who also stir up resentment against rivals who made their money fair-and-square, as “greedy capitalists”.

Contrary to popular opinion, Socialism is part of the problem, not the solution. You can’t simply legislate that a supposedly benevolent government is going to take care of everybody; that has never happened and never will. Instead, structural inefficiencies in the Socialist western countries result in ever more imported slave-produced goods, and ever more temptation to pretend not to notice.

“Better not be using slaves to make these cheap goods we’re buying from you.”
“Oh, no, we’d never do that.”
“OK, then, we’re good!”

The problem seems to be getting worse, not better.

I don’t have a solution. Just don’t contribute to the problem. Live simply. Avoid buying goods from merchants known to buy from slavers, or items that are commonly made by slaves, like hand-woven “oriental rugs”. The counter-argument that someone who has no qualms at all about buying slave-produced merchandise once told me is that if you don’t buy slave-produced goods, the slaves get no food and shelter at all. There’s probably a sliver of truth to that, although I would guess that in the balance, feeding the monster is worse than starving it. The person who gave me that excuse is a shady and rather mercenary character.

I also suggest aggressively defending your own freedom before you lose it. The world is full of people motivated to take it away from you. And contrary to American political propaganda, you don’t “fight” for freedom (war slavery), you avoid getting trapped in it through poverty and cancerous government.

Lobbying to destroy jobs

Prices are related to supply and demand. When supplies are low relative to demand, prices go up. When supplies are high relative to demand, prices go down. When demand goes down relative to supplies, prices go up. When demand goes up relative to supplies, prices go down. When prices are set, then supply or demand will change to reach a new equilibrium.

I’m not aware of any valid evidence of exceptions. The relationship applies even in centrally-planned Communist countries, where  supply and demand are impacted by central planning bureaus set both price levels and production goals. If the price is set lower than the price that would be negotiated between buyers and sellers, then shortages occur. If the price is set higher than the price that would be negotiated between buyers and sellers, then products sit unsold in warehouses, or more likely, get stolen and sold on the black market.

The same relationship exists in the market for hourly labor. If the price of labor is set higher than the price that would be negotiated between employer and employee, then a shortage of jobs occurs.

In Seattle, the city council unanimously passed a law phasing in $15/hr minimum wage, which at the time was the highest in the country. Proponents of the law immediately deemed it a success, without waiting for much less looking for any evidence of higher unemployment.

If you claim that “all swans are white”, you can’t prove that statement by showing me a white swan. You can’t prove it at all; you can only show me that your good-faith effort to find a non-white swan hasn’t produced anyyet. Your claim is good until and unless you go to someplace like Australia, where black swans occur. Absence of evidence does not constitute evidence of absence.

Similarly, if you claim that raising minimum wage doesn’t increase unemployment, then to support that claim, you need to make a good-faith effort to look for people who lost their jobs after the wage increase.

The first restaurant to announce layoffs was zPizza on Capitol Hill near Seattle Central Community College. The owner didn’t just lay off all her staff—she had to shut down. She said she didn’t want to lay off her staff, but she didn’t know how to make payroll.

Instead of looking for evidence of job losses themselves, proponents of the minimum wage increase were quick to discount the evidence found by others:

You might remember that a few months ago, the Seattle zPizza location announced its looming closure and said the city’s $15 minimum wage law was to blame.

The story became national news, offered as a cautionary tale about the impact of higher wages. Never mind local unemployment is below 4%. Never mind that more than a dozen pizza joints were hiring that very week. Never mind that there are more restaurants licensed for business in Seattle than before the $15 law passed.

Now a new pizza place is set to move into the very same location that zPizza is leaving.

Remember that pizza place that said it was closing because of $15? Everything they said was wrong.

Remember that pizza place that said it was closing When did pizza places ever say anything? It was the owner who said it was closing. This misattribution is part of a pattern of inaccuracies, generalities, and distortions in the author’s thought processes.

Everything they said was wrong. Assuming “they” is the owner, the article doesn’t provide a single specific example of anything she said that is wrong. It doesn’t provide a single example of anything that anyone else said that is wrong. The whole editorial is full of non-sequiturs—that is, reasons that don’t logically justify their claims.

Never mind that more than a dozen pizza joints were hiring that very week.” How is that relevant? Assuming that the claim is true, what matters is whether the trend is rising above its moving average, or falling.

Now a new pizza place is set to move into the very same location that zPizza is leaving. How is it that the new management is able to make positive cash flow when the previous management couldn’t? Oh, here’s how:

The space of more than 1,700 square feet cost her more than $7,000 in rent each month. Shah-Burnham said 33 percent of her budget went toward labor costs, and raising the wages that fast would have been unsustainable.

She closed the shop after July 4.

Now the space will become Ian’s Pizza, which currently has four stores in Wisconsin and one in Colorado.

Because they have fewer than 500 employees at these stores, Ian’s Pizza will be on a different schedule.

For small employers, they must pay $15 an hour by 2021. For small employers who pay health benefits, they must pay $15 an hour by 2019, which includes a minimum of $12 in cash and a minimum of $3 in benefits.

A tale of two pizza joints: Seattle’s minimum wage for franchise owners

The new pizza operator isn’t required to pay the higher minimum wage yet! The previous one was on a different schedule because of the size of her parent company—which in no way changed her costs or profit margins. In other words, the new pizza restaurant Working Washington offers as “proof” that the higher minimum wage rate wouldn’t result in higher unemployment isn’t actually paying the higher rates!

The lobbyists for the minimum wage increase didn’t disclose this information. They’re only looking for evidence to support their bias, not evidence that contradicts their bias. They’re trying to prove that all swans  are white by looking for white swans, not black swans.

It’s worth addressing another argument for higher minimum wages: that wages in general are not keeping up with the cost of living.

That’s true, but irrelevant. The assumption is that corporate profits are keeping up with, or maybe even surpassing, the cost of living, and that workers aren’t getting their fair share.

Which corporations are we talking about? Halliburton? Apple Computer, with its offshore sweatshops? How about all the companies that have hiring preferences for holders of H1B visas? These are not major sources of employment within the USA. At least in the USA, most wage-earners work for a small business, the ones with thin profit margins.

Stagnating wages are a symptom of “peak economy”; nobody can simply regulate them higher, without triggering higher prices elsewhere. It’s a game of trying to minimize your own losses.

There are a number of possible ways that employers can respond to rising minimum wages. They might have to shut down their business completely, especially if they were never particularly well-capitalized in the first place, which is generally true of small businesses. That’s what happened to zPizza. They can automate more of their operations, which is what bigger and better-capitalized businesses tend to do. That’s what several fast-food restaurant chains are planning to do, replacing cashiers and order-takers with automated kiosks. Some can use subsidized labor, and a few can get away with using black-market labor. The overall trend will be net loss of job.

  • Plan to enter the workforce as something comfortably above “entry level” labor. Being able to do so requires job-ready skills and experience.
  • Don’t start a business that is dependent on entry-level labor; it will be expensive relative to its productivity.
  • Beware of starting a business that is vulnerable to the job losses of low wage earners. An example would be low-income housing; your tenants would stop paying the rent after losing their jobs.

No mystery why men missing from workplace

Here’s an article about male unemployment I read a few days ago.

Thousands of Maine men are missing from the workforce, and no one really knows why

I don’t find the article very informative, but it’s worth a few comments of my own.

…at 26, Twitch has never held an official job. He’s worked as a roofer, a blueberry raker and a construction worker — “backbreaking shit,” he said — but always under the table.

In other words, Twitch DOES work, contrary to the hypothesis of the newspaper article. One of the questions the author should have been asking is why it’s easier to get a job on the black market than elsewhere. The answer would probably have to do with excessive government regulation, including excessively high minimum wages and the burden of mandate Obamacare. But she never goes there.

Male labor participation rates (the inverse of unemployment) have been in long-term decline in the USA, since about 1950. That was shortly after World War II, when most of Europe’s industries were in ruins while those of the USA were still intact. That left the USA as the world’s premier industrial powerhouse of the era.

Since then, the globalized economy effectively means that every worker on the planet competes with every other worker. Germany quickly rebuilt its Ruhr industrial center after the war, and Japan became a major industrial power-house, followed by South Korea and China. The locus of production shifts a bit from time to time, but the overall, long-term trend has been to shift away from the USA and western Europe.

From the 1970s on, women started competing with men for jobs on a large scale. That created more competition for jobs for men domestically.

Pressure to keep labor costs down spawned a meme (that is, a “mind virus”) popular among the ruling class that women are willing to do the same job for less money than men. Actually, they’re not, which has spawned huge numbers of discrimination lawsuits, but the meme persists. I have heard employers explicitly state a hiring preference for women.

I’ve also heard another meme that sales and service staff should always be women and people of color on the theory that “sales staff should look like the customer” and that they are “less intimidating than white males”.

Hiring preferences for other-than-white-males reduces the number of jobs available for men and especially white men. The author of the article doesn’t bring up this fact.

I would guess there is another cause of rising American unemployment that is becoming an ever-increasing factor in the situation: the infrastructure is already built. In fact, with the switch to a post-industrial economy, much of our infrastructure was abandoned. But the point is you don’t need big shipyards once the ports are already full of ships that will last a while longer yet. Foundries don’t need to make more steel rails for trains when the amount of railroad track is declining, not growing. We already have more airports and freeways than we need.

The total size of the economy has probably peaked. Infrastructure accumulates, but resources to feed into the industrial infrastructure do not. This is a big problem.

Standards of living are falling, and eventually our population will fall as well. We won’t need as much inventory of single-family housing as we have now. Probably pretty soon, most people won’t be able to afford cars, so we’ll need fewer of those. The long-term economic decline will keep feeding on itself.

Women are impacted less than men because they are favored for service occupations, which are not related to manufacturing anything. But recently even women’s employment has peaked and is starting to fall.

Wages for less educated men have been falling steadily in recent decades.

Irrelevant. Wages for highly-educated men are also falling! I strongly suggest ignoring the author’s insinuation that going to college will get you a job: unemployment rates for new graduates are high, and most of the jobs they are finding require no college degree!

What’s lacking is not college; what’s lacking is skills. A degree in Liberal Arts will not get you a job any better than Twitch’s black-market itinerant labor, but it will get you into debt. At least Twitch probably doesn’t have any student debt—he’s ahead of the game!

A surge in incarceration rates has also made it harder for men to find work, since the vast majority of prison inmates are men, a 2016 report by former President Barack Obama’s Council of Economic Advisors theorized.

The vast majority of men are not criminals. This is not a real reason for rising male unemployment. Presumably the only reasons for claiming otherwise has to do with kiss-off attitudes towards men, and caring more about jailbirds than the rest of us.

The last of the big theories about why men are leaving the labor force comes mainly from conservative scholars who say the broadening of eligibility criteria for social welfare benefits — in particular, disability — have lured men away from the labor force.

More likely, the eligibility criteria were broadened because of rising thresholds for employability, in other words, confusing cause and effect.

Men are LESS likely to receive so-called “entitlements” as women.

Minority women in particular are far more likely than their male counterparts to have used food stamps. About four-in-ten black women (39%) have gotten help compared with 21% of black men. The gender-race participation gap is also wide among Hispanics: 31% of Hispanic women but 14% of Hispanic men received assistance.

Among whites, the gender-race gap is smaller. Still, white women are about twice as likely as white men to receive food stamp assistance (19% vs. 11%).

Pew Research, The Politics and Demographics of Food Stamp Recipients

They are also less likely to receive, and receive a smaller share of, other entitlements than women do. This makes men LESS desirable for low-wage employment, because they are not being subsidized. Employers assume that employees will want more money if they’re not getting welfare benefits, so some of them won’t even consider hiring anyone who is not in the system. Some jobs placements are arranged directly through the social welfare agencies; companies like Wal*Mart and Marriot Corp send their openings directly to welfare agencies for placement. You can’t get those jobs if you’re not collecting welfare benefits.

There’s no real mystery regarding why so many American men are unemployed or under-employed. The real question is what to do about it. The president’s council of economic advisors is not going to help you, you probably won’t qualify for a subsidy from the government, and the media is misleading you.

Keep reading my blog for better ideas.