What is about to transpire can only be described as an experiment in the perils of writing long stretched of words without so much as a break to think. In the words of Charlie Sheen, it can only be described as an experiment.
I was walking past Chase Bank today and I noticed a sign which said that they are now hiring. This is on Lawrence Avenue in Chicago. I was pleased to see the sign, for what it represents about the general state of our economy. A few months ago, this would be in September of 2011, I was assisting my mother in her move to Mississippi, which involved a lengthy drive from Columbus, Ohio. We passed a gas station in the cotton bottom lands of Arkansas, and on that gas station there was a sign. The sign said, “Now Accepting Applications”.
“Well, you don’t wanna promise too much.” I quipped to my mom, though I’m not sure that she picked up entirely on the intonation.
In any case, I’m always glad to see that people are getting hired and that the economy seems to be picking up at least slightly, though in the words of any public figure “more needs to be done.”
I’m not as happy when I think about what having the job will actually entail. A job is the lifeline to mainstream society for most people. Without it they are fucked. There are three levels of economic independence, and I believe this point is widely misunderstood. You see it in personal ads quite frequently, when a woman is the one doing the posting. She will say something like “blah blah blah blah blah blah, financially independent, blah blah blah blah” meaning she is seeking someone of means, presumably. Yet so many women misunderstand this point, because in that same breath they will say that they want to date someone “making 6 figures” or something along that line. Well, that is all well and good, and certainly the average guy does not have that income, but the overall point I am trying to make is that a guy making 6 figures at his job is still only on the second plane of economic independence. What are the three planes, you might ask?
The first plane is being completely economically dependent upon another human being, or upon government welfare. It is the state shared by all children, by the badly disabled, by the lazy and the alcoholics who can’t hold jobs, by the mentally unstable who wander the streets barking at pedestrians, and by others who for whatever reason are not smart enough or motivated enough to hold a job. That is level one.
Level two is slightly different. At this point, you have the great mass of society. Probably eighty percent falls under this category or a little more. That is people who have independence in that they are not directly dependent upon another human being, or the government. But they are dependent upon employment to sustain themselves and possibly their families. I.E., if they were to quit their job tomorrow, with no benefits or whatever coming in, they would not last long before they were destitute. Paycheck to paycheck. One infusion of cash to the next. Many people are in this boat because they don’t make all that much money. They maybe didn’t study un school and did not fully understand the consequences of making such a poor decision. Or they are not intelligent to hold a job that is remunerative. In fact, the latter case is so common that making money at a job and being intelligent are often looked upon interchangeably by certain people. But it is not only those on the margins of society who fit this bill. Many people who make a lot of money on the face of it are just as dependent upon others. Lawyers, doctors, and M.B.A.s graduate from school with a huge amount of debt, and they are actually in something resembling debt bondage for the first ten years or more after school. They can either be employed in their chosen path, or they will soon slip into destitution due to student loan payments.
So yes, this is quite a bit about the second level of economic dependence, or financial independence, whatever the buzzword of the moment is. But my larger point is that many other people make a decent amount of money and live paycheck to paycheck by their own choosing. Or they are diligient about saving money, but they only have enough savings to last maybe one year or a little more if their income stream were to be cut off. I fall into this latter category personally. I am decently well paid at my job. I don’t fall into the 6 figure category. I have paid off all debt, including student loans and what minimal other debt I used to hold. I have saved up about $30,000 in savings, plus another $15,000 in a 401K. I am making investments of a conservative nature which generate $300-$400 in income each month. But my point is, I am not financially independent. I am dependent upon the good graces of my employer, or of another equivalent employer, to sustain the standard of living that I enjoy.
And neither, I might add, are the people making 6 figures, if they are doing so via employment and do not have the option to leave said employment. And this is why women who want someone who is “financially independent” and who makes “6 figures at their job” has their understanding mixed up. They are probably a social striver of the middle or lower classes, because there are a whole series of beliefs implied by these statements that betray a lack of understanding about the true nature of money.
The people who are truly financially independent occupy a third plane of economic reality. Their money works for them. Someone with about $2 million has the option to never work again for a single day the rest of their life, if they live a modest lifestyle. Someone with $10 million can live quite large and never work again as long as they live. Anybody who works and has this much money, does so out of a Protestant sense of obligation, or because they are passionate about contributing something to society, or because they are economically insatiable and still find ways to run through their money.
What I mean is this. Someone with $10 million can invest in whatever dividend stocks and bonds and clear 4.5% a year, at a very conservative estimate. This translates to $450,000/year in income, or about the same as many Vice Presidents and other people with outstanding jobs, who would be considered rightly to be good catches in the evolutionary dating pool. However, the person with $10 million is on the third plane of economic reality because they are beholden to no one.
Let me repeat that statement.
One more time because it is very important.
The person with $10 million occupies the third plane of economic reality because they are beholden to no one.
The person with $10 million occupies the third plane of economic reality because they are beholden to no one.
Ok, you probably get the point.
What I am saying here is that this person could tell everyone else in the world to go fuck themselves, eat a ham sandwich, shove it up their ass, eat their uncle’s pussy, or anything else. They could tell the Chamber of Commerce and the boss and the maid and the waitress to bend over. They could smoke a cigar and blow it in the face of the lunatic homeless man in front of three cops and laugh about it. They can play drums in an Occupy Wall Street protest meeting for half the day, then sit on a park bench and do nothing the other half. They can do this all because THEY DON’T HAVE TO WORK FOR ANYONE!!!!
That is the third plane of economic reality.
There are the people who own shit. Who run society. Who reap the true rewards. And anybody chasing their illusory notions of freedom should want to be with them or want to be like them, depending upon their own innate talents.
And that’s what NBA players fail to understand, and actors and musicians, and anybody else who manages to blow through $30 million and go bankrupt. They have won a fucking lottery of life and don’t ever have to do a single thing that they don’t want to do the rest of their entire life, and they blow through it without a moment’s appreciation for the power of that gift. And then, when they’re fifty years old, they’re bankrupt and they have to get a real job. That is how good of a situation can be squandered by a failure to understand the true power of money.
I was once sitting with a man on a bench, in Columbus, Ohio. It was outside of the Columbus Public Library. Now this was a place I used to go to when I was younger (when I still lived in Columbus that is). Usually I had to go to school or do other things with my time, but I loved the feeling of going in through the library doors as they opened at 9AM, buying a can of Mountain Dew, and wandering through the shelves picking up whatever books I might find, and sitting at a table to enjoy them. I was exploring ideas, I was building my own mind. One day it might be a biography of Bill Cosby or Martin Luther King. The next day it might be a trip to the biography section. And the whole time I was learning things, building a world view. And the world view I built at that age was a very pacifist, left-wing quasi-Socialist outlook. I understand that outlook very well, and if I’ve switched to a different point of view as life has taken me places, it is not for lack of trying.
In any case, I was sitting next to this man, a homeless man, but a white man (unlike most), and after he talked me out of sixty cents or some trivial sum like that, we got to talking about his life story. He said, “I’m not like most of the guys out here”, gesturing around because there were usually seven or eight homeless men who would congregate outside the library in the minutes before it opened. “I went to college. I was going places. And then I did drugs. Real drugs. The kind that ruin your life. It’s nobody’s fault. I did it to myself. And now I’m here living the consequences.” he said, nodding as if he too was learning something.
A small digression, I guess I might say, but the point is that this man was not so dissimilar from Antoine Walker or Allen Iverson, or eighteen other people who I can’t even think of, who had everything and blew it through their failure to understand the financial realities of this world.
So I guess, moving back to the Hiring Sign outside of the Chase Bank on LAwrence Avenue in Chicago, that there is something almost a little saddening. IT is the great lot of most men and women to work, work, work, work, work, work, work. It is no accident that this is so, and to be sure, there is much work that needs to be done. But the payment for such work, and most people’s failure to understand how the failure to understand money will enslave them, is never going to free the people from their bondage. Is it really so different to make $20,000, $30,000, $40,000, $80,000 a year from one’s employment if they never get ahead of their income. If they spend every penny and need the next paycheck to survive. Sure, the surrounding accoutrements improve substantially. The apartment gets bigger, and then it turns into a house. The car gets nicer. The looks of respect from passerby increase. The look of disdain is rarely seem. The girls flock to the boys more. The kids go to nicer schools (though this I believe is an overrated part of development, as long as the school doesn’t have gang violence within its walls). But on a fundamental level, it is all a difference in degree. The difference in kind never materializes. Everyone is working for the next paycheck at their own plane of existence, and the people who get those new jobs at Chase bank will be just the same. No doubt happy for a few weeks at the change to their life circumstances, and then slowly they’ll be like everybody else, disliking Sunday nights and Monday mornings, and feeling the brief surge of excitement on a Friday night.
Now every few years I play chess. By this I mean that I go through a phase where I play chess quite frequently. My good, late friend Josh Williams and I went through a phase in the summer of 2006 where we would play a game or two in the evening — both of us often stoned out of our minds. But marijuana does not inhibit from the enjoyment of chess but rather increases it substantially. Naturally this fell by the wayside after a few weeks, and then in the winter of 2008 I took the game up again. I played regularly for about two months, studying tactics and openings and learning some in the process. But eventually I grew bored or frustrated with it all again, and didn’t even play a single game for probably a year and a half.
I say this all because I have recently taken the game up again, and it first it was a very refreshing, new thing to me. Old tactics which are repeated to infinity were new to me again. Openings which I hadn’t studied in awhile revealed themselves again. Stupid little tactical tidbits, like always making sure you have a piece to cover the vulnerable e4 square when you are white and play the Queen’s Gambit to open up the match. I fell in love with Alekhine’s Defense, defeating better players than myself on chess.com by confounding them with it. I had never understood the power of moving the knight to f6 to start the game, until I saw opponent after opponent get drawn too far forward chasing the crafty little fucker. I played a lot of games on chess.com in February. My record was something like 44-32-1. I do not draw too often. I am always looking to push the envelope and make forcing moves, though I am not a genius at the game of chess and this tendency sometimes comes to haunt me. but in any case, I climbed 100 points in their rating system over the course of the month and ripped off a couple of long winning streaks that made me feel like a God.
Capablanca said once that he would win so many games in a row that he started to think it was impossible for him to lose. That there was no one on the planet earth who was as good as he at chess. That he had solved the game and anyone who may so try as to convince him otherwise. Then the Cuban legend would lose. This would always have a humbling effect on him until such time as he won another two hundred games in a row. For the uninitiated, this was in the 1920s when the game was considerably less explored than it is now, and when tactical ability of Capablanca’s power really could assure a near invincibility.
Bobby Fischer scoffed at the notion when he was giving an interview, late in his own turbulent life. He said something, “They said that Capablanca could look at any situation and he always knew the right move, which was absurd because they wouldn’t even know the right move if they saw it. So there is absolutely no way to prove the assertion that Capablanca was the best player or that he played perfect chess.” and so on, except that when they run computer analysis, subtle holes in his game that would be invisible to the human eye begin to emerge.
And I wonder if that’s not where all of society might be heading. A computer or more accurately, a supercomputer made from the combination of thousands of normal computers, surveys all available data about the economy and the world, and just fucking solves it. It solves the world, communicates to other machines what they need to do, and for the mass of society, a steadily increasing check is deposited into their accounts every month. They are put on exercise and healthy eating regimens to ward off disease, and atomic sized nanobots are inserted into their bloodstreams which eat cancer and destroy viruses. Death at the age of a hundred or a hundred and ten becomes a painless, unsentimental affair. In the meantime, people are free to whatever the hell they fucking feel like. A true freedom. Nanobots analyze people’s brain waves and chemical compositions, and automatically match them perfectly with other human beings whose personal compatibility is at the highest possible level. Anything could be possible. If a relatively simple thing like the game of chess can be solved to the point where the optimal move in every situation is known — where a computer can solve a position to Mate in 213 in a fucking nanosecond, then why could computers not fix the rest of our problems?
People talk about the need for human agency, but really that is the species flattering itself. I am one of the smartest people that I know. I am not one of the thousand or two thousand smartest people in the world, as I honestly once hoped I might be when I was fourteen or fifteen. But I definitely do not hesitate to call myself intelligent, and I feel like this has been validated by the things that I have achieved in my life. Where there have been failures, it hasn’t been due to a lack of intelligence. It has been due to psychological programming errors, a chemically based lack of initiative, and ignorance about the options available to someone of my caliber that were based in the social class in which I was raised in — middle class at best by the end of my time in high school, but usually lower-middle class. When my mom was working temp jobs for $11/hour as a single mother while I was in elementary school, I don’t think it’s fair to say that I grew up with “all the advantages”, even if I’m fucking white. There, I said it.
In any case, being one of the more intelligent human beings, I think that there are drastic shortcomings and that computers will be better suited to run things when they reach the capability of doing so, almost certainly at some point within the next fifty years. I only hope that I am still alive when they do so.
People say shit like, “Yeah, but what if the computers decide to kill everyone.”
I have two responses.
A) That’s ridiculous
B) Even if they did, it’s probably for the best.
I mean, who really gives a shit, right?
I would say so far that this experiment is going fairly well. I think there are too many mental blocks in my brain, that I hold myself back in too many situations our of reticence and fear of revealing myself. Dock Ellis talked about fear in a poignant way while he discussed his own no-hitter.
“Fear of success, fear of failure. I had to mange the fear and I took drugs to do so”
Which is a paraphrase but if you really want to see the video then click on this link — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_vUhSYLRw14
In any case, I doubted if I could get to three thousand words. People often struggle to churn out 600, and I have been in that position. Scowling at every sentence, wondering what the correct adjective is to line up with a certain noun, and the whole time crawling forward at a snail’s pace when we are quickly approaching our eternal demise (I am not religious as you might imagine). I am doing this as an experiment because I am also trying to start a real website and link to it from this, my personal site.
It is American History USA. That is my “serious” project and I hope to keep this active as a tentacle of that project’s success. This actually got some fucking hits, I don’t know how, and I want to continue upon that success.
So here, it has been an hour and I’ve never stopped typing for more than 15 seconds, except for a brief interval at the 30 minute mark when I stood up to get a drink. I was hoping to reach 2,000 words, but I imagine it has been much more. If I can make this a daily routine for a hundred days, I can generate about 300,000 words of content, which is nearly the output of fucking Tolstoy, though this will be much less organized no doubt.
But yes, 300,000 words of content which is hopefully interesting in the slightest to certain people who love to witness someone ramble, should be more than enough to draw traffic here, and from here I can flip it to my real website where the money will roll in.
You see, I hope to join the third plane of economic reality.
Until later, good night and happy March. May God be with you always!!