(This is an editorial and somewhat of a rant. Be forewarned)
People seem to wonder why I am as passionate about this direction as I am. They ask me why I have lost my faith in the monetary system.
I live in Michigan as many of you know. Technological unemployment is up close and personal. As the auto industry and other manufacturing that was done here is drying up due to automation or outsourcing the service sector exactly as Peter suggested it would is drying up as it is being overwhelmed, and slowly also being automated. I was at a department store just the other day and saw as now the self-scan lines take up half of the check-out lanes in the store. These used to be manned by actual people who were depending on those jobs.
Not long ago, there was a video store in the area. It closed down a few months ago. I had a roommate who used to work there and lost their job because of it. A lot of people blame Netflix for this, and services like it. (Not to mention illegal downloading). But I saw at that same department store, another reason. Technology has allowed them to automate an entire video store! You slide your credit or debit card and choose from a long list of new releases which is what most people rent anyway and it spits out your DVD. If your late it just charges your card. If you don't pay it after $20 of late fees the DVD is yours to keep.
But remember. According to Austrian Economists technological unemployment is a fallacy! After all their books from the 40's or older say so!
Because clearly, the author of "Economics in one lesson" had some level of comprehension of the notion that they might automate an entire video store in a device no larger then a soda pop vending machine. (Actually he would not of even considered the existence of plastic discs that contain entire films in the first place.)
Or that people were going to go on a computer and order a video online, (wait.. no computers, no internet either when he was writing that book) or that they could steal entire films in a few minutes without even ever physically taking anything.
They always claim that somehow more jobs are being created by any technological innovation but I don't see the jobs lost by video stores closing down all over the country and all of the jobs associated with them being replaced by building some vending machines.
And there are obviously no new jobs created by the making of these automated kiosks that are replacing cashiers in stores.
Where are the jobs that are supposedly created by fully automating the auto manufacturing plants? Maybe a couple more technicians needed. But that is nothing compared to all of the people put out of work.
I remember going to the "Work First" program here in Michigan. It's a program for the unemployed who are seeking assistance from the government. I was not surrounded by welfare moms. I was surrounded by people from all walks of life. Defeated and ashamed blue collar workers. White collar workers who were in a total state of shock. The guy sitting next to me told me his story. They always tell you to get educated. He had a degree in business and engineering. His company told him that they were expanding to other countries and they needed him to help people in other countries learn his job. Well, expanding actually turned into downsizing and outsourcing. They fired him and closed down his local plant. And now he was at the welfare office too.
He was educated. Hard working. Why did he lose his job? Was it because of regulations? Was it because of taxes? Or was it because as a paid professional here in the United States he would make ten times or more what the people he trained to do his job in Mexico would be paid? And actually expect to maybe have a vacation? Health care? Retirement?
Politicians make me laugh when they say they are going to create jobs. The Republicans/Conservatives say that if they cut taxes and de-regulate that the jobs will come back here. What happens instead almost without fail is that businesses use the new money they suddenly have to help them build their infrastructure in countries with little to nothing in the way of minimum wage and no unions.
I have told the story many times of how my friend Raphael from Mexico explained that what these companies really want is a work force that is willing to accept what desperate people will accept. They don't want a worker who holds his head high, and might actually have the gull to request that he or she works in an environment that is safe. They don't want workers who ask for the day off to see their son's baseball game or their daughter's dance recital. They don't want workers who would like to have a decent lifestyle when they could have workers who are so desperate from their circumstances that even a below poverty lifestyle is slightly better then the starving to death lifestyle they used to have before the big companies came to "do them a favor".
I just got done talking to Alberto, a Zeitgeist Movement member from Mexico. He is actually going to be on an upcoming radio show and we are going to talk about outsourcing and the real situation in Mexico. And what he told me is SURPRISE! Now that the capitalists have found labor markets where people are even worse off then the people of Mexico now they are moving there! Imagine that! Does this mean the people of Mexico need to be "more competitive"?
Telling us we need to be more competitive translates into we need to be willing to live in even closer to slave like conditions then the other guy. We are now to the point that competition in the labor market has nothing to do with being the better worker, but being the more desperate worker. They don't care about work ethic. They will MAKE you have a work ethic by threatening your family with poverty.
How long do people really think this can go on? Do they really think these companies won't replace the slave workers they have now with machines the moment it is cheaper?
Today on Facebook I talked to one of my one time listeners who made the statement to me "Have you considered getting a job???" with three ? at the end of it for the sake of being dramatic.
I was talking to him in Skype about it, and he apologized, but like most people who hear about my situation everyone is always full of advice that I have already followed, and suggestions I have already acted on. We are so conditioned that "Anyone can get a job..." that we really believe it. And when someone says they can't get one it must mean they are lazy or picky, or have not thought of something yet. During the course of the argument he asked me for my city and state, fully intent on proving me wrong. I gave him the information and about a half hour later he messages me back saying "Man...your right...it is really bleak out there..."
Yes, I have thought about moving. One cannot do this when they have no money.
Yes, I have thought about getting a car to expand my work area. One cannot do this when they have no money.
Yes, I have thought about child care. IF I am lucky enough to get a job at a fast food place and yes, I mean lucky I will first have to hope they can give me hours. Then afterward still not have enough money to pay the bills as half of my paycheck would go to a daycare center.
Yes, I have thought about going to school. See previous statements about this being impossible when one has no money, no car, and no child care.
I answer and re-answer the same questions about "Well did you do this? Did you do that?" and endure the same "Well you gotta do something man! You have to MAKE it happen!" as if I can snap my fingers and produce child care or a job. It's like they don't understand that people actually do become homeless because they have tried everything. And there is nothing left to try.
My back is against the wall. And I laugh as people say that Jacque's theories on behavior are bullshit. Because I am watching it in my own home. Before my divorce things were fairly well balanced financially. We had enough of a surplus to cover things if a roommate fell on hard times and could not pay. Everyone got along reasonably well. If you bought food you were confident that nobody would eat something they did not buy. We would help each other when needed, and the roommates who had cars would do their best to be sure the ones who didn't have cars got where they needed to go.
Then the divorce happened. And everything got scrambled. The surplus went away. And it happened right around the same time as an economic downturn. And I watched as everyone's attitude in the house changed. Theft of food that belonged to other roommates became common place. People started writing their names on things. That worked for a while, then stopped working. So we started putting food in our bedrooms. That stopped working. Someone actually came into my room and took food off of my nightstand!
These are all people I could trust implicitly with twenty dollar bills laying around the house just six months earlier. And now they were breaking into my bedroom! These are not bad people. They came from decent neighborhoods. Not the ghetto. But it doesn't take long for money and the lack of it to ruin anyone.
My roommates started asking me to lower their rent. I had to pull out the bills and physically show them that they were already only giving me enough to break even. And had only ever been giving me enough to break even. They started to resent me as if it was my fault they needed to pay rent. They numbed themselves to the reality of the situation which was that if they wanted to continue to have electricity, gas, and a roof over their heads that I needed the exact amount they were giving me and no less. This then strained our friendships. Everyone retreated into their rooms and rarely talked to one another.
So then as I stated in my previous blog about this, a roommate got an offer she couldn't refuse to move back in with her father and live rent free, with her own car and a job provided for her. So she took the bus and left. Her boyfriend was kind enough to offer to stay long enough for me to find someone else. Then lost his Wal-Mart job the very next day. Because they didn't want to pay him disability when he was injured on the job. He is still here and trying to get something else, but in the meantime he is basically just using my utilities and eating my food. I still very much appreciate what he is trying to do but it is not making the situation any better.
So, then we come to my next roommate. I have known him for about eight years. He has a sort of obnoxious personality. So even his twin brother who is also obnoxious in a completely different way will not help him whenever he finds himself homeless. We sometimes played video games together and he was literally light headed. We asked him why on voice chat and he revealed that he had not eaten in a day or so as the place he was staying at with his drunk mother rarely had food.
So, for the second time in my life of knowing him I brought him into my home and gave him his own room. He tried for six whole months to get a job. He really was trying. It just honestly takes that long around here. And he even has a car. Though he did give himself certain "standards" like he wouldn't work fast food. Apparently the embarrassment of him mooching off of me for six months was not a dishonor to him but to work at McDonalds or another fast food place would of been. In any case he did get a job and was a good roommate for a while. But he also became the biggest culprit of food theft when things got tough.
I had talked to him about the financial situation and he made it very clear to me he had no plans to move out anytime soon. He was shooting for maybe next year. The various times the topic came up he always told me he had no where to go and was very concerned that I might at some point kick him out.
So then sometime last month I get a phone call from an apartment complex, they contacted me as his current landlord to see what kind of tenant he would be.
This is how I find out he is considering moving out much sooner. Though when I talk to him about it he lies and says that he was just looking into it and did not intend to move out. Again... this is someone who was so appreciative of the help I was giving him just a few months earlier. He tries to assure me that it is likely he won't get accepted for the apartment anyway. And that he of course will give me at least two months notice before ever moving out.
I would also take a moment to point out that this man goes to church regularly. And is very offended if anyone ever badmouths Christianity. He preaches to anyone will listen about Christ and how you should your life honestly and all that.
So... today he comes to my room and with a very excited tone tells me he has great news. The great news is that his approval for his apartment went through and that he will be leaving in ten days...
I ask him how this is "great news" and he acts confused as if I am supposed to think it is really great that someone who was contributing about 40% of the household income has just informed me that I have 10 days to find a way to replace that income or lose my home. This young man read the book "How to make friends and influence people" by Dale Carnegie. It is basically a book about how to brainwash and manipulate the people around you to think you are great. What is not good for him is that upon his insistence I also read a good portion of the book. The more I read the more I was disgusted. But I decided to study it so I would also know when someone was trying to use it's tactics on me.
This "christian" and "honest" man tried to give me news that he knows full well puts my family in a great deal of danger of losing our home and my children to the state in a positive tone of voice so as to prevent me from realizing he was actually knowingly and willfully fucking me over.
I, the Agnostic leaning Atheist who thinks it silly that Christians need a "God" to give them an excuse to be a decent person took him in when nobody else including his own family would not. These same Christians who insist you need god in order to have a moral center. He himself would rant endlessly about atheists. I started to argue with him just a bit but did not want my children to hear what I was going to say to him. He told me he was trying to be more courteous to me then some of my previous roommates had been. (He was then trying to deflect the blame onto the couple who moved out, one of which was still living there hoping to find a job so I didn't lose my house.)
So I let him escape to his room where I imagine he was doing a great job of lying to himself that he had done the right thing by giving me 10 days notice that he was not going to be paying rent I was going to need at the end of the month. Then I put my kids to bed and went to the room and let him have it. I brought him back to reality by pointing out that 10 days notice is not a courtesy at all. And that after I had helped him out when nobody else would he was going to abandon us without any chance to replace him. I called him out for the way he had conducted himself trying to act like he was doing me a favor by moving out. And like I should be happy about the great news he was giving me that he was going to leave us on the very edge of homelessness. He stood there looking at me blankly and did not say a word. This was probably better as I think I would of smacked him. Then I slammed the door and went back to my own room.
Over the course of the day I had felt the money having it's effects on me as well. I had to stop myself from being short with my children and everyone else. One of my friends wanted to tell me about the exciting new innovations in a video game we both played and it literally went in one ear and out the other. Nothing that gave me joy was interesting at all anymore. I had a bunch of links open about various things going on in the world that I wanted to read about for possible future radio shows. I found myself deleting some of them out of some sort of feeling that I just didn't care about what was going on anywhere else. My appetite completely failed. And now I am numb. I should of been in bed hours ago.
This is the monetary system. Supposedly it is just a means of trade so that we can all trade our various objects for other objects to survive.
To me it just seems evil.