I have struggled with blogging up to this point, as people might notice from the infrequent posting. The problem, I think, is with a self-imposed focus on covering the issues I’ve already addressed through my book, How You Got Screwed – trying to point out example after example of the ways in which the system is corrupt, and how the odds are stacked against the little guy.
First, there are people already doing it, and doing it far better. ZeroHedge, for example, has full-time writers putting up 20-30 posts a day, and offering a level of commentary I can’t match due to their deep knowledge of financial matters. Same with sites like The Burning Platform, which has multiple contributors and a broad focus on a lot of important topics (plus some excellent periodic analysis by the site owner).
The second problem is that it’s dull. Once you’ve written about 100 examples of government corruption, can you really muster outrage over example 101 or 102? If you’ve proven the point already, can you really get inspired to catalog example after example after example? Some can; I can’t.
So I think what I’ll do instead is explore new areas, trying to puzzle through new lines of thought and look for answers that we don’t have yet. Some big topics I’m exploring now:
History tells a very common story of a small group of the rich and powerful controlling the masses of the poor, through fear, force, or belief. The idea of liberty – of the inalienable rights of sovereign man – was supposed to break from this. Yet one could argue that we have once again moved into serfdom, with self-imposed chains of debt and consumerism. Why is this?
From Citizen to Consumer
Related to the first topic, I’m very interested in the gradual change from seeing ourselves as citizens to our more recent orientation as consumers. The effect is obvious: As citizens we have rights, but as consumers we only have as much power as we have discretionary income (and for most, that means no power at all). For example, after the 9/11 attacks, we weren’t appealed to as citizens told to exercise our rights; we were told to defy the terrorists by shopping.
My day job is a bullshit job – it pays well yet offers no value to anyone. But I wasn’t able to put it into words until I found David Graeber’s new book, Bullshit Jobs. Graeber does a very good job identifying and cataloging the phenomenon, and raises lots of questions (ex: Why do bullshit jobs proliferate in a capitalist economy, which is supposed to cut fat in pursuit of profit?). But he admittedly doesn’t offer many answers or solutions.
I believe people are hard-wired to want “more” – to gather resources – which makes sense since historically we survived in resource-starved environments. But this urge to keep getting more and bigger puts us into debt, and chains us to our jobs, reducing or eliminating our freedom. Can we consciously focus on having less, and gaining our freedom in the process?
There’s a common theme here, but I need to dive in to be able to really connect the dots into a master narrative. I’m not going to try to pretend to be an authority, because I’m trying to figure all of this out. I’ll share thoughts and discoveries, and hopefully get somewhere with all of this. Because I think this is not only important, but fundamental – that answers to these kinds of questions can help people (especially me) figure out who we want to be and how we want to live our lives.
More soon –