Pitchfork Economics

pitchfork economics dark days ahead.
Darkness Before the Dawn

A few years ago I watched Nick Hanauer (an unapologetic capitalist), as he presented a TED Talk on the coming pitchforks. He’s a billionaire himself and is spreading the word for why the system that allows billionaire is a flawed economics system. Especially when the system creates poverty. That is a pitch fork economics system. Along with several data points that identify where the issues with capitalism need to be corrected he uses his money today to spread knowledge. The narrative is the issue and he’s making the effort to spread a new narrative. Since 1980, Reagan era dismantling of the best political system in the history of man the USA has steadily lead the world in establishing the most wealth. In every other category and the categories that matter, the USA continues to fall behind every country. Healthcare, education, standard of living, infrastructure, income, human rights, human freedoms, child mortality, life expectancy, and more are all categories the Regan era (Neoliberalism) destroyed and the republicans continue to erode daily. Now and then perhaps it’s time to stop the tug-of-war between republicans and democrats and just settle on where everyone is together. It’s better for everyone to join together in agreement than to separate individually by disagreements.

Here’s where we all agree, even those Fox News watchers and AON advocates all agree with the rest of us on these key issues.

  • The influence from the wealthy on the government needs to end.
  • The income inequality is out of control.
  • Democracy needs to be reestablished and protected.
  • Equal pay, workers rights, and CEO pay are no brainers. Fix this now.
  • Everyone living in the wealthiest country in the world should have a living wage, the best education and an amazing healthcare for all.
  • Politicians should not be allowed to own stocks, businesses, or board of directors.
  • Lobiast should be unconstitutional.
  • Voting should be electronic.

The magic all happens in Seattle Washington and is shared online at https://www.pitchforkeconomics.com Even though the word economics reminds me of school, college courses in micro and macro economics were as exciting as watching a goldfish in a bowl. Fun for a few minutes but 4 semesters of material… really? The content of the website is all in podcast so it’s just stuff to listen to, and it’s pretty cool people to listen to. I would list the names of the speakers but I doubt most people reading this would know them. Governors, politicians, entrepreneurs, sports team owners, billionaires, poor people, etc.

If you call yourself a republican then this website isn’t for you. If you call yourself a democrat this website is not for you either. Actually if you think of politics with the same stubborn enthusiasm most people have for their favorite football or baseball team (politics is like a sport) this site isn’t for you, at all. Here’s an example of why you need to embrace the sunrise now and then. 

Thick Storm Clouds Closing In

Seattle raised the minimum wage to $15 an hour three years ago. OMG! Right? Before the legislation passed Nick and team surveyed several hundred business owners across seattle. In every case the business owners said the $15 an hour would destroy businesses, increase unemployment, ruin the city’s economy. One year after the increase Seattle was the fastest growing city in the USA. More new businesses were opening, employment was higher, crime rates were dropping, and a surprising 75% drop in time lost at work for sick time. When Nick and team researched and interviewed business owners the facts revealed a very different truth. It turns out that when you nearly double the income of waiters, cashiers, factory workers, healthcare workers, and about 25% of the general workforce that those people now become consumers. Those people could now afford to eat in restaurants and so rather than restaurant owners having to layoff staff and close down business, they had to hire more help and open more restaurants to keep up with the increased demand. More new and used cars were getting purchased, more televisions, more cell phones, tablets, and clothes. People could get their own apartments rather than sharing and so the city has faced a boom in new apartment building construction. The narrative from the neoliberals that taxing the rich, increasing wages, helping those less fortunate, providing free medical, free education and increasing funds to the retired is a doomsday recipe  are forced down our throats and spouted as if they were scientific facts and laws of nature but they are not correct nor scientific fact. They are absolutely wrong. And so, trying to develop India, Africa, and still vastly third world China so that the UK/USA businesses can generate more money is the pursuit even while the standard of living, mortality rates, and education of the citizens of her majesty’s kingdom continue to plummet is a crime against humanity. To increase wealth in the UK’s colonies including Canada, is simple. Give money to the people. Establish a strong middle class. Trickle up economics.

One last fun fact from Pitchfork Economics. The neoliberals have used the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as the standard for measuring economic success since the 1950’s. It too is wrong in the same way that taxing the rich is bad for everyone kind of wrong. The wealthiest country in the world should lead the way in establishing a living wage. We should begin by removing GDP and replacing the measure of economic growth with measures that truly reflect the economy. Four such measures are suggested by the economic experts.

  1. How many times a day do you worry about losing your job? When it’s zero we have a living wage stage 1.
  2. How many times a day do you worry about not being able to pay rent/mortgage? When it’s zero we have a living wage stage 2.
  3. How many times a day do you worry about not being able to financially take care of your family? When it’s zero we have a living wage stage 3.
  4. How many times a day do you worry that you won’t be able financially afford to retire? When it’s zero we have a living wage stage 4.

Simple and truly those measures above are the real indicators of economic growth and prosperity. We will always get what we measure.

Nick Hanauer’s newer Ted Talk on income inequality.

“When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of it–always.”

The Great Soul

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

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Survey The World Twice Each Day

Moonrise over Salobrena
Moonrise over Salobrena

While Sakyamuni Buddha was alive he would meditate on the world every morning and again each evening. Using supernatural powers only available to the arhats, he would survey for where effort was needed. The Dhammapada is filled with dozens of short stories about the adventures of the munks, elders, and lay people as observed by the Tathagata. I’m reminded of those teachings everyday as I check the daily statistics for the war on the Chinese Plague. One of my favorite sites for surveying data shows the daily counts for the number of people infected; how many recovered, how many are severe, how many are dead. The data is updated twice each day and by each country. Like the Buddha surveying the world twice each day I check the data for Spain, India, Canada, Sweden, China, and United States. I have family and friends in all these places and I visit each of them twice each day. Anxiously I wait for the day, as I’m certain each of them does too,  when I can walk out of my apartment and begin to enjoy living in Spain once again. Selfishly, I wonder why the WHO got this so wrong, and how easily destroyed what little peace we peasants had left. We have enjoyed a system of consumerism and with the exceptions of the United Kingdom and it’s Pseudo autonomous country, the United States, we had a strong middle class system of life. The Chinese have destroyed so much. They have killed hundreds of thousands of people across the entire world without firing a single shot, not dropping a single bomb. They’ve stopped the world from turning without destroying any infrastructure. Their much beloved general from the 5th century wrote China’s war strategies in the treaties known as “The Art of War”, by Sun Tzu. Among the instructions for methods to destroy the enemy is a strategy to win their country without destroying the infrastructure. Sun explains it is best for the empire to take the enemies with their factories, roads, farmland, etc. intact so the proceeds and products from the production can immediately provide benefit to the empire. 

Survey the world twice each day.
Darkest night in Spain

Most of the world’s inhabitants are feeling the strain of the disruption to their life and trying to stay positive expecting one day soon for life to be back to normal. I fear it won’t return and that we are coming closer to a point of regime change. The UK’s branch of government managed by Trump has gone a step too far in poking the bear with the tariff stick. While you won’t find a lot of mainstream media accusing the British Empire of interfering in US elections, you may understand how ironic the UK sudden move to become nationalistic coincides with US sudden drive to become nationalistic. Nationalists policies cannot win. Despite this seemingly overwhelming stress of cold war tactics, if you can consider germ warfare a cold war tactic the power of a unified consciousness has always prevailed and will in this case prevail again. Not the same as we had from 1934 to 2019, but tyrants and the wealthy will fail as they always have.

Have you ever played the game of Monopoly? Most everyone around the world has some knowledge of the game. Though not everyone has the patience to have played to the end of the game, there are lessons to learn for us all. There are several research experiments that have studied people’s performance using games such as Monopoly. The results will vary from experiment to experiment but the bottom line from each is the same. The basis of the results is that people perform better and with greater success when they work together than when they work as individuals. Not only do each of us play monopoly differently as an individual than we do when we play as part of a team, but when we are part of a team competing with other teams the games often become a balance of power and a unified whole rather than producing a single victor. Think bye bye nazi, bye bye women power, white power, black power, china power, and hello humanity first for All.

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Now and Then

Standing on the balcony of our highrise apartment looking out across the Mediterranean Sea, as I often do these days, struggling with thoughts for now and then. Words are powerful and can convey so much but only when the words are grouped in perfect sequence. I always have a lot that I would like to share, but I seldom have the confidence that I know that perfect sequence. It helps  that I’m inspired by this view, by this country I now call home, and always by the idea of ideas. The high bar for me is that when I write I truly desire to share thoughts that are as beautiful as the sunrise. Often however, my thoughts are more like war torn battle fields illuminated in the sunrise. There is a tangible inspiration from these illuminated awakenings that sometimes spur me on despite my lack of confidence. A sunrise metaphor is my goto for a starting point and philosophically speaking, it is my preference. The dawning of a new day and the hope it represents is that today will be better than the day or days that came before it. The sunset, by contrast, represents the termination, the end of all that once was. The sunsets on everything that is now and forever gone. Though I’m certain all the conservatives will agree nothing good comes from the future. Conservative mids know all the best days are long gone, there’s, they will tell you, was the best generation. The world is going to hell in a handbasket, they often say. The best of days have all been sunset. While the future in the eyes of the conservative holds nothing but the doom and end of life, certain death. I’m going to disagree with all of those conservatives and present the dawning of the day. The hope each morning brings about a better day. The past — which has proven to be ugly, full of hate, violence war, separation, bigotry, religiosity, and which is filled with death, war, murder, killing — is gone. This new day comes with the possibility of a future better than the icky old days and those nasty old ways. A collective phewy on tradition. 

Sunrise December 19, 2019 Now and Then
Winter Solstice Sunrise Over The Sea. December 2019

Can you see that battle ground now? The war torn fields fully illuminated by the beautiful sunrise? If you can please accept my humble bows and read on. 

In the late 1980’s I had just ended a six year contract with the United States Navy and I was busy rediscovering civilian life. I’m reminded of those days, especially the last six months of service in the Navy, today as we are now day 17 of the chinese pandemic lockdown. It’s the mental difficulty for being confined for long periods of time in a small area and a lot of unusal stress just as it was when onboard Navy ships. One morning on the ship, I had just finished reading Alan Watts book, The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are, the night before. In this book, Watts works with the following Hindu concepts: that all is ultimately Brahman or God; that our lack of understanding this is because of the magic of maya (Mara in Buddhism); and that figuring it out is lila, a playful game. He likens the game to Hide and Seek in which God, who is all, hides by pretending to be all the various things in the world including each one of us. However, Watts says, “when the game has gone on long enough, all of us will wake up, stop pretending, and remember that we are all one single Self, the God who is all that there is and who lives for ever and ever.” Anyway, I was standing on the 4th deck balcony of the tower looking out at the Indian Ocean. I recall the beauty of the water, the sky, and the clouds. I had just stepped out of the final preflight briefing that had been very intense. Today the strategy and the flight missions were especially more dangerous: aircraft fully armed, and we were going into day 9 of the war with Libya. The view made me stop and recall the game, “lila.” For a moment as I stood there I thought, “wake up. Game over.” I love this concept of the future being so much better and a lot more fun. It makes each and everyday into a notable, perfect and obvious illusion.

Sunrise February 2020. Now and Then.
Sunrise Almost Over Land in Early February 2020

Most of the USA baby-boomer generation embraced a lot of those far-east cultures such as Hindu religions, Buddhism and Taoism. Too many wars, and a history of too many egomaniacal, narcissistic men turning country after country into populations where men are used as war-tools for killing and as objects to be slaughtered, tortured, and forgotten on the battlefields. Even though those eastern cultures had treated life and men just the same as the modern day Saudi Muslims and Italian Christian religions, we sort of loved the Hindu and Buddhist messages better. A Buddhist sunrise came for me one morning while I was taking out the garbage. Standing at the trash bin, I was looking at the city of Dallas in the distance. I could clearly see the skyscraper high rise office buildings as if they had majestically sprouted up out of the ground into the glorious blue sky. It was two years later from that morning when I was standing on the ship’s tower balcony. I could still recall the sensation of fear for being killed and the dread for the lives I would be destroying that day. As I stood there looking at the city so far away, with a memory that still seemed so close by, In my hand I held a framed picture intended for the garbage. It was actually a framed letter. I had the letter matted and framed and had kept it hanging above my rack on the ship, and in my living room when I wasn’t on ship. This morning it was time to embrace the future and let go of that past. The letter was from my mother’s minister. The minister of a christian church had written to me because he wanted to let me know that he and my mother had decided to kick me out of their church. Apparently I was no longer worthy of their love, nor of their Jesus’. As I tossed the framed letter into the bin, that mental battlefield was vivid in the sunrise. It was ugly and disturbing. And as I write this today I can tell you this was the third time since the day I physically tossed it into the garbage that  I’ve thrown that letter away, and hope this will be the last time.

Sunrise 2 months after winter solstice. Now and Then
Late February 2020 Sunrise Moves Inland.

Now is a difficult concept in some ways. The aggregate adds to the difficulty for the majority of us. Aggregates are one of the tools Mara uses to keep us blind to reality. When I think of aggregate as a bad thing I use the word car as a tool. When we think about a car we imagine the thing we use to go places. That’s the aggregate concept of — car. The reality of — car is it is metal mined from the ground but hundreds of people, rubber from trees cultivated by hundreds of people, plastics processed from oil pumped from the ground by hundreds more people, copper, aluminum, sand, cotton, etc. We seldom imagine how everything we use in our every day from the food we eat, house we live in, clothes we wear, car we drive, etc. are the result of everyone and everything on this planet. When we think of — now many times we aggregate the awareness of the current political scenes, the global economy, the various wars, day of the week, time of the day, etc. This isn’t what now is. Now is not an aggregate like –car. It’s much more than that. Now isn’t a bunch of stuff all at once combined as an aggregate. What now is? You cannot define it. As soon as you apply a word or a thought to define or describe it, you’re already wrong. Maybe this will place your mind on the correct path; It’s the sound of one hand clapping. 

Now and Then
April 5 2020. Two weeks after Spring Solstice. Sunrise reaching second mountain range.

Then, is also an interesting aggregate. We can often use — then to refer to what has already happened. And we can often use — then to refer to what is yet to happen in the future. Whichever way it [then] gets used, the narrative of the future and the past is where it is critical for understanding now. If there’s a means to nudge a person onto the path of discovering the illusion of — now and — then it’s eastern philosophy which has often discovered the way. The idea for guiding each person to discover the illusion and awaken to the understanding of reality is wholesome and sound. When someone tells us the answer to a complex question we will often reject the answer and question it. But, when you discover an answer on your own the awakening is an epiphany and will change you forever. One path that I find amazing is the concept of — then when referring to the past. The past isn’t something that doesn’t exist anymore. It cannot not exist anymore. It’s impossible to be both present and nonexistent. So we cannot think or say there was a past but instead we have to realize there is a past. The same must be understood with the future. We cannot think or say there will be a future or that the future is not yet. Clearly and quite obviously there is a future. The correct narrative, or the reality if you please, is that — everything is now. Enjoy this journey.

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