[written in one sitting as fast as I could because I got a guest coming. Note, my Xmas was fine. Enjoyed the vintage Americana I indulged in, from listening to classic Xmas tunes, to watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” for the first time, and spending it with my wife, etc. Here, I’m talking about the world stage, and what our new masters are doing to it.]
179 years and the spirit of Ebeneezer reigned over Christmas in his descendant billionaires, from Zuckerberg to Bezos to Musk to Schwab… Charles Dickens wrote “A Christmas Carol” in 1843, and it wasn’t supposed to be an instruction manual for future tycoons. “It’s a Wonderful Life” is a 1946 American movie starring Jimmy Stewart, about another business bastard ruining Christmas for a whole town: this time Henry F. Potter. 76 years later and we all live in Pottersville. We’ve learned precisely nothing, and are still grovelling in greed and stupidity.
Technology has plowed ahead so fast that we can dispense with the old Christmas spirit classics that temporarily thawed the hearts of the working class, but never the moguls running the shit show for their own benefit, and at everyone else’s expense. Today, we can go straight to the dystopian sci-fi movies for our inspiration. And let’s just admit that everyone is a closet Machiavellian, if not dabbling seriously in De Sade.
Hard to believe we are toying with nuclear war again, that’s how utterly moronic we’ve become. If you missed your Xmas present, American citizens, it’s a new bomber, the B21, which was a bargain for taxpayers costing a mere $700 million dollars. We are expected to produce a whole fleet for just over $200 billion. What’s so great about the B21 is it can deliver a payload of nuclear bombs without being detected by enemy radar, and thus deliver a guaranteed first strike. Just what I f_cking wanted! A whole fleet of them is like Xmas every day.
We are developing artificial wombs, which I had recently predicted. Seems like kinda’ simple technology compared to other things we’re doing. And you also get to choose your baby’s hair and eye colors, height, and IQ. The billionaires are heavily invested in immortality drugs and medical procedures. And I can tell you a little something about all of this technology. The perfect specimen of an ideal human, who is immortal and also a cyborg, is no better than Bob Cratchit or George Bailey [the protagonists of “A Christmas Carol” and “It’s a Wonderful Life” respectively]. Do you know why?
I’ll tell you why. Because the real challenge of being a human being is making choices, and acting on them. And no, sonsofbitching billionaires, I’m not taking about the kinds of “choices” that are scheming to make more billions by siphoning up the middle class’s living salaries into the vast seas of your purely disposable incomes. I’m talking about good, decent decisions and actions. Yes, being a good person — not a weak one, but a good one — is the real challenge of being human. A spoiled brat is an immature mind. And a spoiled adult is a chronically immature mind, permanently underdeveloped, and unable to manage it’s own selfish desires.
Morality and ethics are for the underclass. I know this from my job experience. When I worked in warehouses and had to stand up all day, I had to ask permission to use the bathroom. Every goddamned minute had to be accounted for. But when I got promoted to marketing, I could piss whenever I wanted, take long breaks, and otherwise have a much more comfortable work day. I was still under the boot, but not at the bottom rung. And as you move up the ranks, the glory of corruption starts to envelope you.
For the Machiavellian bosses, and the aspiring rich prats among us, cheating isn’t a sin. No, its’ a skill! You pride yourself on your ability to cheat, swindle, bend the rules, and rip everyone else off. And then you present yourself as some moral demigod. A sleazeball like Mark Zuckerberg, tries to present himself as noble and benevolent, does he not? Meanwhile, he’s selling everyone else’s personal information, without compunction, for personal profit. You could clearly see the Zuckerberg effect when he bought out Instragram. The new TOS included that the company now owned any image you shared. Suddenly ads appeared everywhere. And the platform became a tool for harvesting data. Zuckerberg is an Ebeneezer of today. SBF ripped everyone off royally while parading himself around as an “effectual altruist” who was going to donate all his money to charity.
Today, pretending to be moral or decent trumps actually being a good person, and the wolves are always parading around in sheep’s clothing.
The struggle between being good and evil is perpetual, and hundreds and thousands of years from now, if we survive the next century that is, our cyborg descendants will have the same struggle we do now, and which King Lear had, and every single person throughout history.
And a little something about history before I end this rant. Radicalism is the useful idiot of authoritarianism, because it erases history and everything we’ve learned, and that is good that has survived to help us learn the lessons that Ebeneezer Scrooge learned, and which Henry F. Potter did not. Which Zuckerberg, Bezos, Musk, and the rest have not learned. We see our constitution being eroded, and this is in the name of greed. Just think of Pol Pot, and trying to declare the year to be Zero, and his murdering anyone who was educated, or even wore glasses. This was so nobody had recourse to history and all the lessons we learned from the past, in order to resist the lunacy of the new, genocidal authoritarian utopia. Because radicalism wants to eliminate, discredit, demonize, and destroy the past, it works perfectly for the ruling elite who want to take over, which is why they embrace and promote beliefs which would seem contradictory to their own reign. The biggest threat to authoritarianism is an educated, intelligent, independent, healthy population. And it’s in their best interest — if all they want is more power, money, and control — to poison and destroy the well-being of everyone else.
And that’s where we are now. And it’s getting worse. It used to be that reporting the news, and the government, and big business were different things and could even be checks and balances against each other. Now they are all in cahoots.
Heard about the “universal guaranteed income”? That’s what we are supposed to get so we can stay alive after AI and robotics have taken away all our jobs. Yeah, how much are we going to get? And who is going to give it to us? The government? The billionaires? Would that not mean a 2 class system where there is a tiny minority of ultra rich, and everyone else lives at the same level on the edge of poverty, with just enough to survive?
And what fantasy land are we living in where the ruling elite are going to support everyone else out of the goodness of their souls? Why not wipe out the “surplus population”? Once we become redundant and expendable, why the hell would our rulers care about us any more than they do now, which is not at all? When I hear “guaranteed universal income” I hear “annihilation”.
I would say that there will be a day when a robot will first kill a human, except that’s already happened. Drones have mowed down innocent people. The thing “The Terminator” got wrong was that it was not the machines themselves that had waged a war on humanity. The machines are the tools of the elite class of humans. The resistance is just us.
Everything wrong with the world is due to people. It’s not some historical cycle, nature, or just things happening. It’s all due to the machinations of the people running the show, and the reason everything is getting worse for everyone is that it’s getting astronomically better for a few. Of course their selfish acts harm everyone else. Consider the new prices for food. Ostensibly food went up because of covid. Now that covid is no longer the existential threat it once was, did the food prices come down at all? Nope. The price gouging has become permanent.
Evil and stupidity are triumphing around the world. That is why things are getting worse and worse. It’s time to grow the F up, stop being megalomaniacal moguls, and save our species and planet.
Let’s steer away from mutually assured annihilation, making 1984 into reality, and instead make next year a Bob Cratchit or George Bailey Xmas. You can never be rich, beautiful, or immortal enough to escape the human condition, and the billionaires aren’t even merry. If they were, we wouldn’t be in this mess.
Let me leave you with a sort of inspirational idea. A dolphin owns nothing. No, this isn’t endorsing the the new rip-off where you can’t buy programs anymore, but only rent them. Photoshop for a minimum of $10 a month, and then if you miss a payment you have zero access to it. Not that. That is just about the CEOs of those companies, and the board and stockholders owning more and more and fleecing the public. Rather, in a way we are in the same situation as our highly intelligent aquatic friends. We own things in deed, but not actually. Like them, we only really have our bodies and experiences. And we don’t need millions or billions or more billions of dollars. None of that really sticks to us. Dolphins go their whole lives without having a dime. But they have relationships, and even personalities. What truly matters may be what dolphins have, and what we have that we share with them, and not at all what we have that they don’t. I find it uplifting to imagine a dolphin swimming in the sea, completely free of ownership. We need money and possessions, of course, to survive. But not to be free. And those dolphins are always smiling, aren’t they?
13 replies on “Runaway Rant: ‘Twas an Ebeneezer Potter Xmas”
Grow the F up we must… that is if we don’t get annihilated first. And yes, dolphins are always smiling. They only lose their smile because of F us [Faroe… sorry for bringing it up].
Merry Christmas, my friend. Here’s to fighting for the good.
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Thanks for reading my rant and commenting. Yeah, I’m inspired by the dolphin image. Glad you totally got my post-Xmas message. Happy Holidays!
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But the rulers need CUSTOMERS to buy their tangible or intangible products. They won’t wipe us out; they’ll leave lots of customers around, making just enough money to buy, buy, buy.
This is a curious problem that people like Elon Musk seem to not have figured out. He’s working on an army of personal robots that can do virtually any task. How many people are there to buy the robots if their own jobs are replaced by the robots?
The billionaires in general are running into this problem, which relates to why Zuckerberg had to lay off over 10,000 people. Customers are not limitless. Who can afford to buy a car or home right now? There has to be a balance. Henry Ford knew this and made the Model T affordable enough that someone working in the factory to produce it could also buy it, or so the legend goes. Today robots make the cars.
When we reach the point where the only way a customer can afford to buy a product is that the person selling the product awards the customer an allowance to do so, then the customer becomes redundant. I don’t see anything in history or human nature to suggest that rich and powerful individuals will support the masses out of the goodness of their hearts. Rather, they will let natural disasters, viruses, war, and whatever else take care of the problem. Even more likely, they won’t be able to do anything to protect the 99% of people who are no longer needed to work. What are we going to do if they just say, “Sorry, we don’t have the resources”.
Hopefully we can steer away from such dystopian scenarios, but everything seems to be going in the other direction. Everyone seems to be trying to get their slice of the pie quickly to protect themselves against the future shortages, meanwhile the reason there will be future shortages is everyone only thinking of themselves and getting their stack of pies. Artists have now caught up to where I was a half year ago and realize AI is being use to replace us, and for the profit of a small number of people. Those people could also be easily replaced by AI in short order.
We need to be thinking about balance and evolve to be stewards of the Earth. If not, we will go the way of every other civilization that flourished and then perished in the past.
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Entirely possible, Eric.
I changed from being economically relatively conservative–and anti-union–to being pro-union when I saw that my union construction wages gave me a good living. Then when I decided to go to university, those wages (and the relatively low cost of a state university in those days!) made that possible.
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Yup, and now Jeff Bezos’s Amazon is smashing unionization, while at the same time replacing workers with robots as much as possible. Keep in mind that Bezos-the-union-smasher now owns the Washington Post. This is the issue now where big business, the news, the government, and the war machine are working together, er, not entirely unlike China.
I’ve always been pro-union and pro-worker. I was also able to get an education because I went to UC schools, got Pell grants, and a Fellowship. Had I not lived in CA, I wouldn’t have had access to such affordable schools.
I was thinking yesterday that we can classify any policy in one of 2 categories: does it empower or dis-empower the people and the individual? By “empower” here I mean to have more meaningful, pleasant, and fulfilling lives. If it doesn’t empower us, it’s a disservice to us and probably bankrupt. And if we look carefully now, it’s all about dis-empowering us, and that’s when it’s not so secretive — like the CIA censoring Twitter — that we don’t even know about it.
The issue today is that the consolidation of power is so great, and the wealth so concentrated, that democracy is a mere fantasy used to give the illusion of significant choice about relatively small matters, hence the emphasis on things like “identity politics”, which from a bigger perspective is just social stuff for the plebs to care about on the periphery of history. Nobody really cares what the masses do to each other, or how they feel about each other, as long as they are paying their taxes, working their jobs, and consuming products. Our leaders have wisely figured out that for the average person, that’s ALL we care about, when it amounts to nothing for the elite. When it comes to things like war, we learned back in the days of GW that we don’t have a say in the matter.
Noam Chomsky pointed out decades ago that nobody ever votes for any policy that increases pollution or despoiling the environment where they live. Nevertheless, those policies get tucked into other bills, and one way or another end up passing. He also pointed out more than a half century ago that the divide between the elite and the middle class in America is greater than that of the lords and peasants of the past. And that divide has radically increased since then, with CEO salaries skyrocketing relative to worker’s wages (remember workers, if we raise you wages we will have to take the jobs overseas in order to remain competitive!).
Today the greatest tool of maintaining power over the people is the algorithm. All that needs to be done is to dial down someone’s reach/popularity, secretly and unaccountably, to mechanically intervene to limit their exposure. It’s the equivalent of shrinking your enemies into Lilliputians where they no longer pose any threat. And this is being practiced massively, and including on yours truly. Note on a related front that even here this blog has been “blacklisted” and I can’t receive ad revenue. No reasons were given or required, but I was notified that I was blacklisted. Algorithms tend to limit my reach to a very small arena. Whoever controls the algorithms, including Google search results, controls reality.
Technology, and especially AI, have made authoritarianism more possible than ever before. We must trust that the unaccountable, unelected, super rich and powerful will not use their astronomical and unimaginable advantages for selfish ends while trying to compete to have the most billions. And that brings up full circle to the topi of this post. Our new leaders who control the press and the algorithms are taking their cues from Ebeneezer Scrooge and Henry F. Potter to crush the lowly worker class of inferior people/cattle, at least until it is time for the slaughter.
Sad but true, Eric. Oh, are you still living in Thailand?
Hi, Alan. Yup. Still in SE Asia. Mixed blessing. At least it’s interesting. Happy New Year!
Thanks. Sme to you!
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Totally get where you are coming from Eric! I agree the power rests in the hands of too few and they don’t give shit about the rest of us. But we (the rest of us) have to stop playing into their hands and be accountable for our actions. Now if dolphins ruled the world.
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Right. We have to find ways to stay relevant and contributing something of value.
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I don’t know if I’m good or evil. I just am. One thing for sure I am not…a billionaire.
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