Life, where have you brought me? -801
To many people, capitalism is an ugly word. To many it symbolizes oppression & greed. While it is true that many self-proclaimed capitalists are greedy, it is their failure to properly implement a sustainable system that is the problem.
A barter system is generally inefficient for a global economy. Having media of exchange for products & services (forms of money) allows commerce to happen more fully the way media of exchange for ideas (internet, television, etc.) allow communication to happen more fully. If new information (“news”) had to go from person-to-person rather than on a mass scale, we’d evolve socially at a much slower rate. Now, it may be that for the health of our society we ought to move more slowly, but I don’t necessarily believe that. I think it is only true if we lose control of whatever it is we’re creating.
Money by itself doesn’t make capitalism any more than food makes itself into a meal. A working system is required to make money useful. The system & its administration are like the processes of cooking & serving the food. Money is the cook that prepares the meal (products/services). The consumer is…well, the consumer. When the system works, it is productive; when it doesn’t work, things fall apart.
The opposite of capitalism is generally accepted to be some form of communism. This assumes that because the means of production & profits are shared, the benefits will more naturally be evenly distributed. This is not true. Just because everyone is sitting at the same table & no one takes explicit ownership of Thanksgiving dinner, there may still be subtle means by which resources are not evenly distributed. Because eating habits differ, not everyone will eat the same amount of food at once. Generally, leftovers are not divided 100% evenly. If I like roast beef but don’t want any ham, there is no system in place that will automatically restrict someone else from eating any roast beef to account for my lack of ham consumption. Free will (choice) is what causes systems to succeed or fail. By this measure, I define capitalism as the economic equivalent to free will, & as such is, in its purest state, communism (where every individual acts in the interest of “the State”) because the state of the State is determined by the mental, emotional, & physical states of the individuals that populate it.
History dictates that people cannot pursue happiness when they have been deprived of free will (self-determination). When an individual’s (private) self-determination gets in the way of the ability of others (the public) to make equal choices, however, things fall apart. In a society where individuals make decisions as a way of life, likewise, room must be left for the emergence of the individual personality of the State (the product of the interaction of all component parts– id est, the People). When the People can’t accept the State that they’re in, things fall apart.
When companies are looking to raise capital & expand, they will often have an initial public offering (IPO <example here>). Without drawing out this analogy with all the benefits & disadvantages of such a decision, suffice it say that if you have something of value to offer over an extended period of time, this can be a very good move.
I have read many articles encouraging people to expand their web presence; my publicist chewed me out last week due to my under-exposure, & rightfully so (hence, this blog, for instance). For the individual, “going public” means presenting as many opportunities as possible for people to invest time in you. There are people on Twitter who could probably raise several thousand dollars at a time by offering a service or product to the people that they are exposed to, namely because of all the free help they provide on a daily basis. There are people in every line of business presenting free information, entertainment, etc. that anyone can have access to, & their public appreciates this; that appreciation can work the same way a dollar can. When your money appreciates, it increases in value; when you are appreciated, you will increase in value.
Twitter, Facebook, & the rest can be fun ways of passing time, but if your accounts are unable to collect enough interest, they will not do you much good. Think about it–do your friends just come to you now & put money in your pocket for being sarcastic, cynical, & ridiculous all day? Do they pay you a dollar every time they read what you had for lunch, where you’re going, or whatever other random thing comes into your mind to tell the world? Probably not. Even if you are one of the more interesting more in your circle, you may be like a savings account that accrues more interest than with other banks, but still a relatively low amount of interest compared to all of your options (as with other more rewarding opportunities, however, the risk normally increases–but that is a topic for another post).
My first business was as a crack salesman. This was after the crack bubble had burst; it wasn’t like the glory days of the 80’s. I guess technically, my very first business was shoveling snow, but that work is obviously seasonal. After a certain age, the competition is thick. There is also something unsettling about competing with younger kids for money; it was tolerable before I left for college, but not when I came back home.
My investment was less than $100. I didn’t buy powder cocaine. I bought a cooked rock of what I assumed to be acceptable quality. I bought some 38×38’s from the corner store (they were very small baggies that would house $5 worth of product). It turns out that I wasn’t ruthless enough for that game, though. I broke 1 of the 10 Crack Commandments–I extended credit. When it came time to play enforcer on behalf of my enterprise, I gave in to the temptation to let the guy walk away on day 1. We’d had him at an unfair advantage due to our numbers, & I had known him since I was a small boy. I used to call the man “Mr. ______” when I was growing up, & it just didn’t feel right to unleash the type of violence on him that we thought was necessary to send the appropriate message. Upon analysis of that situation, I realized that I’d have to be willing to become much more vicious. I did not mind that so much, because I was entering my own stage of rebellion-driven rage & righteous frustration. I didn’t want to do a bid for terrorizing crackheads, however, especially since I was not making much money at it.
I learned key lessons from the beginning of that venture. Since I couldn’t cook it up myself because I didn’t have my own spot to do it in, I was being supplied with cooked product from my friend. We were both making attempts to get into the character of what we thought a successful drug dealer was, so I was not surprised when a small dispute resulted in him revealing a gun in his waistband. I was not afraid–mainly because I thought it wasn’t real. I figured that even if it was, he wouldn’t shoot me, & I was fairly confident that I’d whoop his ass if it went there. I told him from the upstairs window that I was coming down. He headed across the street & towards the breezeway to the alley. At the time I thought he was running away; it dawned on me as I reached the breezeway that there were less witnesses back here.
“So what’s up?” I asked him casually, like he’d called to tell me that he had to tell me something. I figured that since he was the one with the gun, I’d let him set the tone (I didn’t have one to take with me, & I’m not sure that I would have if I did; I considered him my friend, though we’d found plenty occasions to bicker).
“So what’s up?” He was in control; he did not feel obligated to do anything except react.
“So, what, you gon’ shoot me?” He didn’t respond. Sensing that he didn’t fully intend to shoot me, I took the liberty to spout off at the mouth some more. At some point in my tirade, I expressed that I didn’t believe the gun was real because I didn’t believe he had the balls to pull a real gun on me. I took the gun & put it to my head; I was going to pull the trigger to make my point.
I stood there with the gun to my head, & he waited to see what I’d do. I don’t think he really wanted to see me do it, but I could sense a morbid type of curiosity in his stare. There was also nonchalance, though, which caused me to further believe that the revolver, heavy as it was, was just a toy. If it was fake & I didn’t pull the trigger out of fear, I’d lose; if it was real & I pulled the trigger, I’d lose; if it wasn’t real, I’d win little more than my own satisfaction, which would probably evaporate before I reached my front door. Upon weighing those options & seeing that there wasn’t much for me to gain no matter which road I went down, I just chalked it & walked away.
It turns out the gun was real.
1. People wearing their shoes in the same room they shower in.
That is all for now.
That’s me putting my money where my mouth is.
I don’t know why I still get into these conversations. I like the spread of information, & I do not like the spread of misinformation. So, I guess that’s why I still get into these conversations.
I don’t recall when I stopped just ignoring Jehovah’s Witnesses when they rang my bell. I think it may have been out of personal guilt, at first, with the idea that I’d want someone to open the door for me; but I’ve since come to believe that it’s an occupational hazard. The mailman shouldn’t care whether you actually collect your mail or not; it’s just his job to bring it to your door. If you go no further, it’s no skin off his back.
A few weeks ago, I responded to 2 female Witnesses. We discussed the nature of “God’s Word” & logic. I argued that the creation story in Genesis says that Earth produced vegetation before our sun was created (on “the 4th day”), & that such a statement was a “flat-earth” belief, attempting to make the point that we have verified our trajectory around our sun, & that the sun & stars do not revolve around this planet. I did not argue about the ages of our planet, sun, & moon because I could think of no way to prove it at the time. I was encouraged to “look past that for now” so that I would not stop myself from getting whatever benefits were to be had from reading God’s Word. That would be like finding an insect in my appetizer & being willing to stay for dinner. If I can’t get past page 1 without a fatal contradiction, how could I possibly generate enough “faith” to proceed on this path?
After they left, 2 more came to my door shortly after; I engaged them with this argument, also. Although I was convinced that there was no argument for my logic (either it does or does not describe a plausible scenario, irrelevant of its truth; if it does not, however, it cannot be true). I was presented by several “apparent” scenarios that would explain away this problem, but since none of them made any logical sense to me, I am unable to repeat the arguments with any confidence that I’m doing so correctly.
On a couple subsequent visits, I continued to open the door. I did not mind the dialogue, & I was willing to move onto a new subject in an effort to ensure my objectivity. They have since stopped coming. I am wondering how long I wanted it to go on, or if I was wasting my time. I don’t feel sad about it or anything, but assuming that a waste of time is a bad thing, I am wondering how long I should keep opening my door.