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30 August 2008

Choices

Everyday we make choices. Sometimes Choices are made for us. But we have no way of knowing how those choices will play out in the long run - we can only guess. We try to make the best choices we can or to deal with things in the best way possible, but we can only hope that what we think is going to happen actually happens.
In reality, there's nothing we can do. We make our choices and we deal with the consequences - good or bad. For the most part, life goes up and down - there are good times and bad times no matter what choices we make. Really, our choices only determine the particular character of the good and bad times, not the actual quality of the times. We can't really choose the good over the bad because we can't know for sure how things will play out.
So we go through life. That's all we can do. We make our choices, based mostly on what we want right here and now or on some vague sense of what we'll want for the future. We deal with the consequences. That's all there is to it. It's not beautiful. It's not deep. It's not philosophical. It is what it is and nothing more. The End. Happy Friday!

24 August 2008

Economics

I'm going to make a bold statement here. It's something that has seemed obvious to me for a long time, but looking at the currents of economic theory and the dominant economic model in the world today (i.e. neolibealism) it seems to be far less obvious than I had thought. I'm going to call it Jeremy Trombley's Economic Principle No. 1. It's likely the only economic principle I'll ever declare, but it's so fundamental, in my opinion, that it's the only economic principle anyone ever needs to understand in order to create a balanced economic system.
So, without further ado, here it is...get your pens and pencils ready because this is it!

Jeremy Trombley's Economic Principle No. 1

Wealth may "trickle down", but it fucking FLOWS upward!

I can't wait to write my textbook! :)
Doesn't that seem obvious to you? I mean, how much simpler can it get? If you give $1000 to the wealthiest person in the U.S., what's going to happen to that money? It's going to go into a bank account or an investment portfolio and merely add to the monetary value of that individual's assets. On the other hand, if you give that same $1000 to the poorest person in the U.S. and allow them to spend it on anything they want to - whether it's a car, rent, bills, drugs, alcohol, or whatever - what happens then? That $1000 is going to pass through hundreds, even thousands, of different hands as it makes its way toward the top of the wealth ladder - as the people above are always trying (and succeeding) to grab money from those below them. What's more, on its way up that $1000 is enriching every person that it comes in contact with. Every person who touches one of those dollars is a little better off than they were before. So, in effect, that $1000 becomes tens, hundreds, or thousands of thousands of dollars! Not only that, but every transaction that that money goes through is going to generate tax revenue for the city, state and the country which can be used to further enrich the nation as a whole if used properly.
Unfortunately, I don't have concrete data to back up these claims - it would be interesting to get, though. It would be a fairly simple study of the flow of money, but as far as I know, no-one has conducted such a study yet. However, despite this lack of data, I feel quite confident in espounding my principle and the resulting economic theory.
The central idea is that there has to be some redistributive structure built into any economic system. Without such a structure, wealth becomes concentrated and concentrations of wealth create an unhealthy and unstable economy. In tribal groups, redistribution occurs through the economy of gift giving and through prestige granted through generosity. More complex societies, such as cheifdoms and proto-states funnel wealth through a centralized redistributive structure - namely the chief or the emperor.
Laissez-Faire
Capitalism lacks any such redistributive structure - theoretically relying on the "invisible hand" of the market to distribute wealth efficiently. Realistically (because true Laissez-Faire Capitalism has never and can never exist), in a modern nation state it is the responsibility of the government to provide for the redistribution of wealth through taxation and the funding of public projects that benefit everyone. What's happened recently, as a result of the dominance of neoliberal economic theory (which is essentially a revival of the concept of Laissez-Faire Capitalism), is the creation of a corporate welfare economy. Instead of using tax revenue to provide for the public good, the government has directed that money toward enriching corporate entities in the skewed notion that this will in turn benefit everyone. However, knowing Jeremy Trombley's Economic Principle No. 1 we can see that this is not the case - it may benefit some people, mostly those at the very top of the economic ladder, but certainly not everyone.
In my opinion, since we live in a nation state and taxes are our primary form of wealth redistribution, all tax money should go to benefit First and Foremost those at the very bottom of our economic system. This will, in turn, benefit everyone above as the money makes its way up the ladder.

03 August 2008

Eva


It was almost exactly two years ago. Man, it seems like so much longer than that. That was when I met my Goddess, my dream girl, the one I'll always want, but can never have - Eva. But, wait, some background first.
I was about four months out of a really tough relationship. Don't get me wrong, I loved Jill, passionately. Loved her more than anyone before and probably since. Loved her so much that I lost all sense of myself. It was a disaster from the start.
I had been planning a trip abroad, my first ever, for a little while. First it was to be Belize, but when that fell through I set my sights on Peru. I pulled together the money, with a little help from my family, and in the middle of August I was off.
The plane flew all night and into the morning. I don't remember whether or not I slept - probably a little bit - but in any case I was tired when I arrived. When I got to the hostel in Lima where I would spend the first night it was only about 10 AM - I breakfasted on a hamburger bought at a small stand on the way and then went upstairs to my room and passed out.
I can't remember how long I was actually asleep, but it couldn't have been too much time because I still had the whole day ahead of me. I grabbed a book, and rather than sitting alone in my room, I went down to the living room and read on the couch.
That was the first time I saw her. I looked up from my book over to the computer. She turned and looked at me and I was caught by the two bright sapphires the glowed beneath her ebony hair. I tried to go back to reading my book, but could not resist looking back up at her only to see her looking back at me. She actually noticed me, saw me, and seemed to want me to come to her. However, being too shy, I let her go. Eventually, she drifted back up the stairs and disappeared into one of the rooms.
Shortly after she came back down with a friend of hers. I was on my way up, but she stopped me. SHE approached ME! She said they were going to go to the beach, would I like to come along? Sure, I said. I ran upstairs, put my book away and went back down to her, shocked that she would even recognize my existence.
On the walk to the beach we all talked, the three of us. There was a bit of a language barrier. I learned that Eva was a French Basque - she spoke French, of course and fluent Spanish, but was embarrassed by the little English she knew. I spoke only a very small amount of Spanish, and so we spent most of the time talking to and through the other girl who spoke fluent English, Spanish, French and German. I didn't care, though. When we got to the beach Eva shared her towel with me. She read for a little while and then we talked. I told her that I was studying anthropology and she told me about her fascination with ancient relics, and museums. The more we talked the more I felt her come down to my level - she was just a woman, a beautiful woman, but someone I could talk to, someone I could see myself spending time with, someone who would care about me. The three of us spent the rest of the evening walking around Lima and then returned to the hostel and watched Harry Potter in French with English subtitles.
The next day I had to leave, to go to Huancayo where I would spend the next month teaching young children and living with a Peruvian family. I saw her one last time before I left. I was on the computer checking my email, she was leaving to go to the museum in Lima. She said goodbye, wished me well on my trip and kissed my cheek. I kissed her cheek, a standard salutation in Latin America and Europe, but in that moment it was ecstasy for me - to feel her soft skin on my lips.
I never saw her again. I have no way of contacting her, no way of knowing what ever happened to her. She was in my life for an instant - washed all trace of Jill from my mind, like one of those magical cleaners you see on TV that get out any stain - and then she was gone. But I'll always remember her, for her beauty, for her humanness, and for showing me that life does go on. I can never have her, but she will always be mine.
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