Getting It

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Editorial and Opinion  |  House: Booksie Classic
I am just a working man. Yet when I was faced with the fallout of rebuilding our lives [our business had a fire], I was motivated to unravel... at least for my own sanity, how what happened through this process was motivated by and quite connected to the current economic woes of the world.

Like so many of us that just want to live upon the earth, I Get IT... unfortunately, those who have decided upon and continue to determine the fate of our planet DON'T.

Perhaps some of these words 'ring true' for you.

Submitted: July 03, 2009

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Submitted: July 03, 2009

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If I could have a grandest wish I’d sit with one who waits with baited breath to hear my every word. [Hey, it’s my wish]  And I would tell them of a grand tale, of how I and I alone understood the mystery behind the worlds’ economic woes.

When seemingly in an instant heaven and earth aligned and came upon the United States of America, as no other disaster so devastated nations; leaving it on the precipice of financial ruin. In a way, deep down, and maybe wantonly, everyone knew they were due; except them of course.

Even now, in the midst of IT, they don’t get IT.

Rocky roads and a few too many times face down in the [financial] ditch and you’ll get IT. That’s how millions of us live; every goddamn day. And that’s the tale of these discoverings of which you may choose to read.

But I’d wish to be able to set it down as brilliantly and swiftly as it imagines itself in my mind. Oh, it would be like one big burst of thunder, and with the very essence of everything I am, I’d tell this tale… of getting IT.

You see, my wife and I own a small motel… and it had a fire.The irony is, about this fire, nothing actually burned… excessive smoke from a malfunctioning furnace penetrated most of the main building; it had to be gutted.

But because of and as of that fire, our earning potential fluctuated so we could never get ahead or keep ahead of our monthly obligations. Everyday we’ve worried where our income would come from and WHO would be calling to extort the little we had… or simply take it without asking.

We had a fire…” was usually my first line of defense. They’d march right through that and proceed under such and such a law to say [paraphrase] “According to policy under section, this is the ONLY admissible procedure… sorry I can do nothing…

“We had a fire” [sigh].

Living like this, month after month, being financially incapable of doing what they demanded made our life a living hell. Did I mention month after month? The stress of their insistent insanity, for not being able to pay our bills, created several health related issues.

On one of the occasions I was laid up and pondering things, it occurred to me I was as good a Canadian as any and that I shouldn’t have to be treated like this because my income no longer afforded me ‘good citizen/ good customer’ status.

It started to eat and eat and eat AND EAT at me. Yeah, I’ll tell yeah a story about getting IT. 

A story told to me by my father of his father. At 16 years of age, he, and two of the other six brothers awoke one day to be led down to the draft office. His father gruffly remarked, “Here you can have these three”. My Grampy, we called him Grumpy, was infantry, long distance sniper; had “hands of steal” my father said. He survived the duration of WWI. He was 21 when he returned; he and two others were the only survivors from his unit.

That’s how it was delivered to me… bathed in a basket of tears as my father told the story. The ‘brothers’ and the old man were out for “a couple of beer”; it was late, and he was full. But LOVE full. Because as it happens about three months prior to this, amidst yet another alcohol induced discussion, this one about alcohol, I begged rather insistently for him to tell me, “who got to you?” I knew he got to me, but I was old enough to understand someone got to him first. I needed to know.

I suppose this story about his father was his way of answering my question. The bluntness of my grandfathers’ reality not only told me who got to him, but how and when the demon [alcohol] came to town.

He continued to [cry] tell me how, “They brought those boys home to ticker tape parades and all they were, was a walking bunch of corpses.” I rather quickly surmised if a long distanced sniper was at war for 5 years, and if he just killed once a day… he had to have killed at least [and my jaw was amazed and shocked]… nearly 2000 times. Like an unknown reflex I asked my father, “Was he good?” He replied, “All he ever told me, was he got whatever he aimed at.”

That was the only war in which he fought; except maybe for the one that raged in his head and heart most of his life. I’m sure it was an immense consolation to him, at least when he first returned, knowing the only other survivors were his two brothers.

Do not think for a moment I will not weave and bob through this prose without painting and ever gaining on the reason of this rant! We are off… through this tale of mine, to discover, or perhaps I should say uncover, the mystery of our economic woes. Uh, remember?

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This tale I’m telling is real. Do not forget that. It was during the events of this past year that I began to ponder how the life I was being forced to live was part of the crisis the world over.

To understand what we are dealing with, this so-called economic crisis, one must be prepared to examine outcomes in light of cause and effect grinded thickly through the filter of time and reality. Which by the way, we’ve had way too much of one and not enough of the other.

There are three things that bring me immense personal pleasure to ponder… nature and her ways, people and their ways, and analyzing how things work – and why they don’t. I mean really; every situation I become passionate about I categorically weigh all elements of the issue then sift them through to their smallest detail. Along the way, if I’m paying attention, I get a pretty good handle on what’s going on. It’s a childhood issue playing out in an adult way. That I know for sure.

I make no apologies because it’s just the way I’m programmed. Besides, as I said earlier, cause and effect must be filtered through reality. Obviously that includes my reality. That is, if yeah really want to get IT.

And to be fair to George W Bush, he didn’t cause this crisis. He was just doing what America always wanted to do… stand around with a hard-on for everyone to see. Problem is, too much blood went to their head. Their crisis; well let’s just say, not all Americans are patriotic to America.

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Those ‘boys’ of war became men that were haunted by demons, murderous thunderous demons. But in the Western World, and especially in the US, when they set their mind to wit and their wit to work they built the rawest, roughest, proudest nation the world had ever seen… in ‘modern’ times. All shiny and new in about a quarter the time most others took to stand as proud. I’ll tell you this [my impression], by the time WWII ended, when the USA shoved ‘er in bull-low you could feel the earth lurch on its axes. They knew it; so did most.

These men build nations; nations of power wealth and might.  

But to truly understand what is going on now, today, we must explore the premise and motivation from whence IT came.

The premise? Take a couple of World Wars and shove a Great depression in between and what you have is generations living with volumes of pent up emotion. And let’s face it, when people want to blow off steam they like to, how shall I say, do the wild-thang. And they did. And women got pregnant and had babies… lots and lots of babies. And when one baby needed a stroller, 100,000,000 needed a stroller [or whatever the number was]. And so was born the Baby Boom phenomenon. Well it wasn’t a phenomenon then, just a rather large spike in the global population growth rate.

Think of the infrastructure requirements. Think of the public service requirements. Think of all that unprecedented demand wrapped in a hunger for the good life – the American Dream. Think of the coming of age of the United States of America and the economic explosion of the ‘Western World’.

Think of the commerce.

The baby boomers were their own market and demand was booming. In those days economic charts showed rapid and continuous growth as far as the eye could see. Supply had only to rise to the occasion. The people were there and the people were waiting. This was a financiers’ dream and a marketers’ vacation. Imagine “build it and they will come” was the order of the day. It was all of an evening to sit around the supper table and plan a 35 year-gold watch career. Lots and lots did. Unfortunately for the rest of us, and thanks to Capitalism, most of what was to be gained ended up with too few. Quite legally I might add.

But knowing the premise for unprecedented demand without understanding its motivation leaves a lot of head scratching when things go wrong. Especially if the demand is the size, scope, magnitude and reality of the Boomers. That’s a different matter.

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By the time babies were ready to boom living generations of people had been to war, twice. War leaves great big holes in your soul.The ones passed on from generation to generation. Who got to my father and his before him… to me; and so on. You can’t see what they saw, do what they did and not be left with a tremendous hunger for something better. Or a least embrace one serious motivation to distance and hide oneself from these past realities. Anyone remember the 60’s… love peace and all that rot?

So intense was the Boomers’ demand they were labeled consumers. And they fed and they fed until they could feed no more. And when that wasn’t enough, they fed until the little they had left… will it be taken away?

But this intensity formed only part of their motivation. In between those wars many had suffered through THE great depression. From this perspective we can apply a simple law of physics; for every action there is always opposed an equal reaction?  So as Scarlett O’Hara boldly proclaimed, “As God is my witness I will never go hungry again!”

Their fear of losing everything and having nothing drove Boomers to amass unparallel wealth; both in cash and possessions. Can anyone possibly fathom how much money was put away for a rainy day, for safekeeping, for a nest-egg?

I believe these events and the way it impacted human nature pre-destined the market psyche we know as consumerism… all its wonders, all its trappings.

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So here’s a quick recap.

Two world wars and the Great Depression = immense appetite/ big holes. These fueled the population boom, created consumerism and the Boomers’ need to put away [and away and away and away] for a rainy day.

Are you with me so far? Good.

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Before I start blatting about what’s going on today, the so-called financial crisis, I need you to realize my observations [and beliefs] emerged into Big Picture thinking. Not generalizations as one might think, but specifically in terms of ‘mob-mentality’. Although it’s obvious each and every Boomer is indeed as individual as the snowflakes that fall, one must recognize ‘together’, their collective demand fuelled a ‘psyche’ far greater than their individuality.

Let us continue.

Some 25 years ago, as you may recall, consumers started being charged for services once considered free or part of a package. Banks initiated fees for everything little action they performed. Insurance companies started ‘inventing’ plans and coverage’s. Government collection practices became criminal and commonplace. And basic service providers found different ways to slice dice, Julian and fry the services they provided – of course with additional charges and combo pricing.

Why, because the reality was [and is] these organizations recognized in ye ole pocket book the cash volume attributable to the Boomers was not going to be sustainable. If you recognize anything, recognize that! Hey, if the business got no cash [in] flow the business got no business being in business!

As years passed Capitalists found more ingenious ways to gather the cash they needed to sustain profitability… and keep shareholders happy. For example take the advent of lobbying. Generally speaking lobbyists are hired [by other people] to influence the laws of the land so as to benefit the organizations they represent and their shareholders. If the organizations are big enough… you get the picture.

…but now the sea of Boomers and their long cresting wave of demand is crashing and will soon sift through the sands of time.

The crisis we are under is the result of everything that was the Boomers’ coming to an end. Or to put it another way, the cash flow they represented as a collective market is dying a certain and painful death.

Come on, you knew that; we knew that… didn’t we? They weren’t going to live forever, right?

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But That crisis is not The crisis. The real crisis is there is no collective market demand to replace the cash flow realized from sixty some years of Boomer consumerism.

You have to remember, everything that IS – from the bureaucratic systems to the storing and lending of immense financial wealth … was build by and for the consumer. And I mean everything. Everything is the result of the baby boom population. EVERYTHING!!!

We’re so wrapped in the economic crisis we can’t ever find time to look at the logic of the situation.

I once heard a story about a manufacturer that produced ice for the ice-box [refrigerator]. He was so certain ice would always be used to cool refrigerators that his Will stated all profits were to be reinvested in the technology for this purpose. We know how that story ends. No economic blah blah blah package is going to do anything further than feed a black hole. And worse still, only serve to maintain the status quo! 

These times, our crisis? It’s obvious, simple and real… or as Elmer Fudd use to say; “Dede dede dede daaaathat’s all folks!”

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A little recap, a little Business 101

The Baby Boom demographic created a demand driven economy. Predictable demand created growth which in turn produced employment, income, profit and wealth.

Over the years the wealth was accumulated and disbursed in three very distinct ways. First, the population had demands ‘for today’ and the market provided goods and services to meet these demands. Second, an employed population had demands ‘for the future’ in the form of security and retirement. Again, the market provided goods and services that ‘secured’ these [future] demands. And third, wealth was disbursed and accumulated through ownership, ie shareholders.

OK so far?

Understand Capitalism and the free market system are sustained by cash flow. Cash flow is obtained through profits and shareholder investment. Shareholder investment is attracted by profitability. Therefore, by its very nature, free market Capitalism exists through profit.

As the population growth rate could no longer grow or sustain demand for good and services, markets shifted from demand driven to supply driven. Supply driven markets are very competitive markets. Companies must create demand. Competitive markets can dramatically affect profitability; perhaps survivability.

So, an initial sign of the shift was consumers being charged for services they had previously received ‘free’. A major sign was the ‘downsizing’ of middle management. The most pathetic sign was the creation of products and services where there was no demand, or worse, affordability. I suppose from the governments’ perspective an obvious sign was when lobbying became a bona fide profession.

Now remember, Capitalism, by its very nature, needs profit to exist.  

As time and the making of history march on, humans [of the future] will see just how unproductive the 20th Century had been. Oh I don’t mean in economic terms, but of ‘the powers that be’ allowing economics to place so little productive value on humankind… even to this very day.

I am not speaking of child labor laws and the like. I am speaking of those rank and file employees who were ‘expended’ to maintain profits. Humans have been reduced to mere numbers; expenses on a page. Over what is now decades, millions of humans have been aborted from Income Statements in the pursuit of one value – PROFIT. Sadly, no one ever wanted to quantify, “How much [profit]  is enough?” Seemingly, enough was/ is never enough!

But the point is, therefore, and it stands to reason, people, through commerce, law, or governance, in little more than 150 years, have brought the world to its current state and those of us who live upon it.

They had to! The overpowering output of their collective decision making for the last 150 years gives us what we got! We have been running wide open consuming for so long our collective behavior is actually threatening Mother Nature’s ability to preserve us. Categorically, human existence threatens human existence; right to this very day.

And to this end, the human order is so challenged men fly airplanes into towers to make a point, while the ‘chosen’ few still decide upon the fate of large geographic areas and the destiny of the earths’ population.

These truths represent the dark side of human nature. What lawyer dare argue or jury dare weigh. We know [at least] this much about ourselves as a race. And the proof is obvious, Mother Nature herself. If we continue to govern ourselves according to our nature, we will cease to exist.

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Unquestionably, this next section of my fancy casts an even darker veil upon this tale.

In my most basic understanding of human nature there are 3 kinds of people – good, bad and ugly. And point of fact, I have found most are a combination of the first and second variety… trying their best, not always doing the right thing.

The third, well, theirs is a premeditated nature. They are from the ‘dark side’. They will do-to-get-away-with-anythingto benefit self. Even in knowing their decisions and actions are going to cause bad things to happen.

We cannot say humankind is threatening its own existence without realizing there must be, in our day to day happenings, people causing this effect. And further, that this ‘threat’ continues to advance because of our blind acceptance of the rawest form of our Darwinian nature - survival of the fittest. Conrad Black, our not-so knight in shining armor, was once quoted as saying, “I am a Darwinian Capitalist”. Please; just stop and think of what he meant.

And in actuality, on the scale required to harm both planet and population, there are only a few places we need look. To the planet, we must consider geographic ownership and the expanse of resources and enterprise there upon; be it owned by country, county, company or culprit. In scale of [harming] people, we must consider those responsible for law, governance and commerce. 

Essentially, we will find who we are looking for in those geographic and global entities that control and decide upon the fate of large populations and collectives of public wealth and public property.

These are the entities that run our world… and run our lives.

In truth, all three types exist among all walks of life; because they are all walks of life. Therefore, we find cast within this logic, argumentative truth as it were, confirmed reason and reality:

A If the planet and its people are in peril.

B And, if the entities that decide for large publics, public wealth and public property are makers of peril; then,

C Ugly people are found within those entities.

From this viewpoint, the state of human kind and our planet, two key truths about human nature come into focus. Not to be perceived as judgment or persecution – they merely is what they is.

  • People don’t always do the right thing.
  • People will do the wrong thing for personal gain.

We must begin to understand these truths of human nature, especially of the past 150 years. We must acknowledge, the collective decision making from those entities that run the world has driven it and us to our present state. Because, to have the outcomes we have, more choices for personal gain would have to have prevailed.

In the end all that need be determined is this; far too few have far too much. This is not to be thought a jealousy to be ‘reeled’ in or necessarily in monetary terms. But under governance, under commerce, under law… too few people have had too much control over the things that impact the planet and our ability to live upon it.

It is true, there was a time when ‘we’, those of us considered to be the rank and file, believed the few with the much would do the right thing… to keep the planet and our best interests in mind. Sadly, the jury is not out and the verdict is in… there WAS a time. This is not that time.

Governments must recognize free markets are no longer driven by consumer demand but by wealth; and the organizations and people who control it. These continue to manipulate citizen activity through self-interest and fear based motivators. They continue to control large populations and/ or segments of public property through lobbyists, by influencing policy, procedure and law.

Any sort bent on such theatrics could write a thesis on countless profit-motivated organizations and the non-human deeds they have preformed. If interviews were conducted on those living this reality, I suspect it would take yet another century to document their truths.

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But like I said, I’ve spend months discerning and tracing the logic of this rant. It certainly would be of little value to me, and certainly you the reader, to leave well enough alone.

Within Mother Nature are held the resources we all need to exist… and live. We know there is a movement within all levels of government to ‘privatize’ the delivery of these resources. As such, Capitalists, according to their nature [profit], acquire and supply these as the market demands. 

But how possibly, in statement of fact, can Capitalism through economic activity be assigned as the caregiver of Mother Nature and people? The nature of Capitalism is to seek profit. There is no ethic or moral fiber woven into its nature to behold first the ‘cost’ to humankind and the planet on which we live… then to make profit.

And that’s what they are all about. It drives Wall Street… into the ground the last time I checked.

It is and will be nothing short of criminal, to allow the free market system to act according to its nature in areas that directly impact Mother Nature and a citizens’ ability to live!

Logic dictates, for its own protection, humankind must find ways to control the Controllers for preservation of planet and longevity of lives. It is true, the fire our motel had quenched our income to the point we could not and can not continuously make ends meet. This fact makes us neither special nor unique. For within whatever that income was/ is millions more are also trying to live – without ever having had a fire!

Take for instance a report I recently heard on the radio. Nearly 1 in 4 Canadian children live in poverty. But poverty can no longer be interpreted in the context of ‘welfare’. My logic concedes; large numbers of Canadians are working impoverished. These, by choice or fate, exist paycheck to paycheck relying on cash flow to exist. They live with the fear and stress of not being able to earn enough to make ends meet.

This economic crisis is not the crashing of markets. The crisis is the ever increasing numbers of citizens, in developed countries, who can no longer afford to just live. Where categorically they have reached the limitations of their earning potential and IT is never enough to continuously afford the basic needs of life and living.

I mentioned long ago I was telling this tale of wish from the essence of my own experience. And so it is true. But what will happen when it becomes unprofitable, say, to provide electricity to these citizens? Or more importantly, at what point does their electricity become unaffordable? What happens when the basic cost of living exceeds the earning capacity of millions of working people?

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As I lay ‘bed ridden’, in every sense of the word, I asked myself, “How did this happen?”

It occurred to me it was because of the insane pace I had been working to build a deck that would provide access to the cook house we were opening… for a company that was staying at the motel. My wife and I were under so much stress to generate income, because we could not handle one more month of conversations about our continuing inability to generate enough income to pay our basic living needs… and our basic service needs… and our taxes.

And the added twist is this. It was obvious to me, I was lying in bed because of the stress I had known from past experience. That since the fire, every single month, varying levels of governmental collectors and all service providers, would systematically claw at our outright take from our income. All accompanied by the customary salutes to Majors’ interest and penalty and Sergeants’ threats, fines and fees.

And then it came like a flash of light, I always wanted to say that… a flash of light. Actually it was after months of empty wonderings. None-the-less, it occurred to me, the government that exists to serve my needs and keep me from harm, had contributed so greatly to my stress, they had exponentially placed cost and burden on the very Heath Care System they were trying to fix!

And further, I surmise, at least 35% of the population, the working class, was living this lifestyle.

One unforeseen expense in any given month, any given time… you wait for it; the stress of knowing someone and something is going to take the one thing you need to hold onto more than anything else, more than anyone else – your money.

Why then is this my story? Cause I’m the one who is living on the edge of affording to live – every single day. It’s the money I use to try and feed my family and survive. It’s mine, my money, and no one should decide its fate without consulting me. But to consult me, is to consult my life’s situation. 

Think of it, 35% of the people you see everyday are working poor. And ADD to that, the insanity of a government who causes so much stress on its citizens that some 35% of us are sitting and waiting for medical attention!

We can not leave policies and procedures in place that systematically collect our hard earned money; when the little we have cannot even provide for a civil living.

We can not allow these entities to carry on as such, supported and motivated by the laws of the land. We must make obvious adjustments for known human behaviors. Especially where minimal accountability exists for those people who have authority and control over decision making, which impacts the preservation of basic human and civic dignities.

Who would support and write laws that allow companies to dangle, every single month, ones access to basic living necessities? Who would support and write policies that allow governments to indiscriminately extract our money without first discussing this matter with us… at the very least to learn of our current state in life?

We as a people, the collective human race, must first and foremost… and finally, absorb the reality of our times. Not as in understanding “why it is we do what we do”, but as in, “now that we know”. We know the way we are governed and allow commerce to operate produces unkindly acts to the planet and its people. Not just Joe-Blow who had a fire, but the millions and millions trying to live within their established earning potential.

I know one thing for sure; if the end of our existence came upon all of us at once, for all to see, they’d soon pull their heads out of our asses and deal with these realities. And if we did that, we’d stop trying to figure out what is happening to the economy. Or what and why the Earth is doing what it’s doing. There is no 100,000,000 whatever number boom – that is and was. There is just us… and now, THIS, the earth’s state and that of the people upon it.

The demand we must create is preservation of the planet and longevity for all those who live daily upon it. Regardless of their chosen or fate based reality. We need to point our noses into the wind and make this demand.

I told you it was a story about GETTING IT!

IT needed to be continuously fed; but IT cared only for and was driven by profit. And when depletion and contamination resulted outside the measurement of ITS own business model, all manner of trickery was applied and allowed to forfeit the cost to planet and people. And IT’S still running, or should I say, trying. But all the variables on which it was based and built have changed. 

And I know this because I just spent the past year being clawed, lanced and eaten by the enormity of ITS coverage, reach and presence. We need no court, no case to prove these judgments, for look upon the state of our planet and its people. We know too much.

And we are a stupid race if we choose to see and ignore.

… I have a plan, but that is for another day.


© Copyright 2019 Frank Lee. All rights reserved.

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