Friday, December 7, 2012

Record Profits Are Not a Good Sign

Is the reduction in profit brought about through unionization a bad thing?  Are today's record profits a good thing?

Companies generate revenue and that revenue is divided between the owners and the workers.  The job of the union is to just strengthen the bargaining position of the workers so that they can grab a larger share.  What's left over after this happens is a smaller share goes to the stock holders.  "Profits" are down.  But so what?  Profits are the share that goes to the non-working owners, but this doesn't change the total amount of money that the company made.  Only the way it was distributed.  A more equal distribution of the money earned by a company does a lot of good for the economy overall, and that's what a union helps bring about.  This is why the period in US history that saw the strongest overall economic growth was the period for which unions were strong.  Stock prices didn't go up that much.  Being an owner wasn't quite as lucrative.  Still amazing and better than anybody else, but being a worker was a good life too.  Everyone was getting a piece of the pie.

So when profits are up in a lot of cases (and I think this is largely the case today with the record profits being seen that are going along with wage stagnation/decline) what this is really saying is bad things are happening.  It's not that companies are making more money.  They are just distributing that money in a more unequal way, with more going to the top and less going to the bottom.  Higher profits should be expected to stall economic growth.  The rich spend a smaller share of the money they make and the poor spend more, which does more to spur the economy.

In Michigan they are trying to ram through a right to work provision during this lame duck session.  Profits would probably go up if they succeed.  Not that we'll make more things and provide more innovation.  We'll just let workers keep a smaller share of the pie.  So the profits are telling us that the economy is doing poorly and the future will be worse.

Here's what ML King Jr said about "right to work" laws in 1961.
“In our glorious fight for civil rights, we must guard against being fooled by false slogans, such as ‘right to work.’ It is a law to rob us of our civil rights and job rights.
Its purpose is to destroy labor unions and the freedom of collective bargaining by which unions have improved wages and working conditions of everyone…Wherever these laws have been passed, wages are lower, job opportunities are fewer and there are no civil rights. We do not intend to let them do this to us. We demand this fraud be stopped. Our weapon is our vote.”


Ken said...

Right-To-Work laws violate the rights of both owners and workers by coercively establishing standards for agreements between them. Workers have the right to demand any contract with the owner that the owner will accede to, and vice versa. If the owner declines, the workers may strike and no one may regulate that strike except to prevent violence. The owner may fire any or all the workers who do not have a contract preventing it at that time. In a free society all relationships are contractual and must be voluntary.
Separation of government from economics is as necessary as separation from religion.

Jon said...

You can like separation of government from economics, but that's not what we have. The government is involved and it does things that allow owners to have a really strong position when it comes to bargaining for wages. Limited liability and whatever other privileges that come with being incorporated. This is a state enforced institution and what it does is it creates an extremely strong bargaining position for the one side of the table (ownership) over another (labor).

If you want to dismantle the state, that's fine. But we have to try and cope with the world we live in for now. What we already have is state intervention that strengthens ownership's bargaining position. We can see what these corporations do when they have an extremely strong hand. They pay workers 18 cents an hour in hazardous conditions where the building might catch fire and lots of people die. They can't do that to Americans. Yet. They used to treat us this way prior to the advent of strong unions. When they weaken us to where they can of course they will. That's in their job description.

So the question is do you want to stick to your freedom of association principles and live like a Bangladeshi peasant or do you want to allow state intervention on both sides of the bargaining table, strengthening ownership some and labor some?

It's a similar story for government spending. The right is happy to crow about spending that helps the poor. Welfare, food stamps. When it comes to dismantling the war machine, oil subsidies, etc, they go strangely quiet. It's the same here. Yeah, you get a whimper about corporate power, but where the rubber meets the road and the laws are actually passed they always focus on reducing state intervention that helps the poor, and that's what we are seeing in Michigan. You can't take away the small advantages that go to people without first dismantling the HUGE advantages that the state delivers to owners.

Jon said...

I really would like an answer to this question, Ken. Take it as a hypothetical. Suppose you have two options. You can either live like a Bangladeshi peasant or you can live like an American, but on the down side as an American if the majority of the employees want to bargain as a group you have to join their union. Or you can obviously go work somewhere else. You can't work for that company unless you are part of the union.

In other words, what's more important? Your principle or what works? That's I think where we really differ. Yeah, freedom of association is great. But what if freedom of association means the whole country is shit? What are your core principles really worth?

Jonathan said...


I think you've pointed out an important distinction between you and others such as myself. You evaluate the merit of a situation based on outcomes and "data" in a seemingly completely pragmatic way, and then relegate the notion of core principles to just another factor to throw into the mix.

Folks such as myself have real problems with violating core values, and are not as flippant in disgarding them if for no other reason that quite simply, if I violate my core principles, I have violated myself as a person.

I will grant that translating this into action and consequences is not always the easiest thing to do, and indeed to do bring up valid critiques of inconsistencies in thinking vs consequences, but you sometimes seem to struggle with this differing worldview.

For instance, when you were debating with Bob Dutko recently and offering your evidence for your side, when Bob switched gears and said, "philosophically I am opposed to this" you perceived this as a weak fallback position because he didn't have any real data, when in fact this was (in my estimation) reflective of expressing one of his core values.

Let me throw a rather ridiculous scenario back at you for comment. What if the choice was as you just described, a Bangladesh type existence for yourself as far as quality of life, but the US based scenario, only in some bizarre and twisted economic scenario, the mechanism that was keeping the US economy afloat required the murder of 100,000 Bangladeshis each year, and you would be indirectly be supporting their death.

The economists make the argument that their death really is a net gain for society because what's 100k murdered each year compared to the well being of 350 Million US citizens. Do we really want to go back to a Banglideshi quality of life, they ask.

So in this scenario, yeah, killing innocent folks kinda sucks, but what are our core principles worth? Which place would you chose to live?

If someone (perhaps yourself) chose to live in Bangladesh because they couldn't stomach the thought of contributing to the dark side of the US economy must the provide data and empirical evidence to support why they have chosen this position for you to accept their view as valid?

Jon said...

Jonathan the way you were going I was thinking you would answer my question, but you never did.

As far as your hypothetical, I actually don't get your question. Are you saying the choice is between 1-Bangladeshi type poverty for you and me or 2-US style prosperity for you and me but at the cost of the murder of 100K people in Bangladesh. Is this the choice?

Anyway I hope I would take choice 1, but if someone chose choice 2 I would understand. That's a pretty tough choice and I'm sure we can come up with other scenarios that are even more difficult.

But I don't think your question is anything like mine. What I'm offering is a contrast that in terms of outcome it's very easy to see which is better. What I'm suggesting is that we can either have the kind of life everyone in Michigan has had for the last 50 years. I mean, it's not that bad really, is it? We've lacked the kind of freedom of association Ken prefers for 50 years. If you want to work for a company and that company has a union you have to join. OK, if you don't like it, that's fine, but you can go work somewhere else. That's one choice. The alternative is a Bangladeshi type life. Half the life expectancy, grinding poverty. In terms of outcomes the answer to me seems easy. In this way we can evaluate exactly how much your principles are worth. Your question is not like mine because in terms of outcomes it's not easy to decide which is better.

Yeah, go to Bob Dutko. Higher taxes are just plain wrong. Lower taxes are better, even if that turns us into Haiti. 50% unemployment, starvation, natural disasters kill hundreds of thousands of people. All those dead and starving children are worth it because we didn't sully our principles on taxation. To face that mother holding the starving kid and say "But we are principled and we didn't raise taxes." To me that's asinine.

Jon said...

Or here's another one, Jonathan. You stick to your free market capitalist ideal and global warming leads to species extinction. Was being principled the right choice?

Jonathan said...


You did get my question correctly - sorry it was not as clear as I thought it was.

I was responding to your comment about core values vs country well being, and didn’t realize you were talking about suffering as well as financially wellbeing.

Regarding taxes vs. Haiti, come on, no one’s going to chose Haiti vs. higher taxes if that choice was in front of them. Do you really think that Bob Dutko thinks he’s making a choice between taxing the rich and Haiti? Do you not think he’d change his tune if the choice really was higher taxes vs Haiti existence? What would you have done as a right winger? Sure, fault him for not drawing the same conclusions you would as far as the impact of your choices, but I think you and he both have a lot more in common when it comes to concern with minimizing human suffering. You’ve got that whole not killing unborn babies bond after all. Maybe you guys just need to hug it out.

Anyway, so do you really think Michigan (outside of Detroit proper) is on it’s way to a Bangladeshi type of existence? I haven’t quite caught the logic behind why right to work causes such disintegration. Is it because employees can’t have such a strong unified front against business and so work from a weaker position? I’m just asking. Also, are there any studies on inefficiencies and downsides caused by the union that you’ve read? Do you know what impact or drag these have on the economy?

Examinator said...

Ken and Jonathan,
I think both of you are inserting a value judgement *after* the fact. Which fact? The one that underpins the purpose of a nation/society.
In the case of the USA it is embodied on the Great seal and was the nation's motto until 1953
i.e. 'E Pluribus Unum' Roughly 'from many to one'.

In other words for *MUTUAL benefit of the people (citizens)*.Not some of them but ALL.
I'd submit that *mutual * benefit is the whole point of our evolutionary 'social (nature) development.

Certainly that is the way it's described in context in text books and dictionaries etc. From that it makes sense to infer that it is one of the 'basic' (values?) natural to humans generally.
I and smarter people than me (see “Voltaire's Bastards”by John Ralston Saul is one of the more accessible treaties on the topic) certainly argue this.

Common sense,logic history, philosophy all show two things
1. that there is a natural conflict with this at the individual level (survival/prospering of the individual's seed , so to speak.
2. *The important relevant bit * in a civilisation there needs to be an impartial/ moderating element to maintain a * whole of SOCIETY * balance .
Logic dictates that this is the *whole of society elected Government *.

The Republican/right/ US conservatives and organizations (yes unions) et al in effect are more interested on advantaging the individual (themselves) over others.
Ergo it is appropriate if not mandatory for the government (arms thereof) to be independent/impartial of the the above
to be able to make ultimate rulings in the interests of everyone (all citizens and those the MAJORITY deem appropriate)

The US is the only western nation that doesn't accept this arbitration role for the government in “industrial relations” (a term used in most countries). The US has the spin cycle pejorative 'labor disputes'. In fact many others have the function in their constitutions and even have specialist courts. In the Australian example the government is merely a party in the court. And guess what It hasn't destroyed the country... and more telling those countries that accept this industrial arbitration role for governmental instruments historically have a far, far less acrimonious and deadly violent disputes as those in the USA. Nor is there a significant history of organised crime involvement in the Unions.

You may note that I did not start from a latter day arguably flawed philosophy or opinion merely based my argument (?) on known and accepted facts. i.e. it is neither left(sic) or right(sic) it is in context objective.

Examinator said...

The latest on AGW

Ken said...

I'm confused. I was defending the rights of workers to bargain collectively. Just to be clear once again, I condemn Right-To-Work laws as a violation of the rights of owners and workers to contract freely. In a free society the terms of any exchange of values shall be established by the parties to the exchange and no one else, especially not the government.

You brought up government spending. I think I have made myself clear that I oppose Corporate welfare in as much as I oppose Entiltements. I have also denounced the US " War Machine". The military budget of the United States, conservatively measured at around $700 billion (but probably closer to $1 trillion once all security measures and veteran benefits are considered), is approximately equal to all of the military budgets of all other countries combined. If the US military budget were cut in half, it would still be the largest in the world. Then, if it were cut in half again, it would STILL be the largest in the world. Then, if it were cut in half a third time, reduced to only one-eighth its current size, it would STILL be the largest in the world.

I'm not following your hypothetical question. You give two options but then then you give three different examples. Please elaborate.

Examinator said...

It occurs to me that my last response went into the WTF pile.
For that I apologise let me explain it a little more clearly .

The validity of any law or proposition in principal must firstly be consistent with the objectives of the purpose of the society in which it's proposed.

I went on to objectively run through the purpose of any society which is widely accepted as being for survival/ mutual benefit.

Both your views seek to advantage a minority over the majority by the insertion of a undefined/ unsubstantiated set of “values” (presumably base on emotions, expressions of the secondary human instincts).
When we get down to it your arguments are counter to that primary purpose not only from a human biological position but also in the fundamental logic of Democracy etc.

Ken, your argument about the “right to work” unjustly disadvantages the employer only works when the two side are equal in power. In context this is in the small business area. But before you get on a too high a white horse I suggest you check the actual figures
Setting aside the difficulty with the definition of what constitutes a small business i.e. is a small business one with more than 100 employees? The facts remain of 27,757,676,000 small businesses 21,708,021,000 don't have payroll. Also note that if we use my 100 employee as the cut off point then you find their contribution to the national GDP isn't that much by comparison.

My point there is that you are talking about a minority and as such your argument is in fact “special pleading”.
It is fictional that a singular employee has the same bargaining power of an employer particularly the one(s) that have the lobbing power to skew legislation in their favor. Be it as individuals or peak industry groups.
Hence the need for Industrial legislation that levels the field.

Like all laws they are designed to cover the lowest common denominator under the greatest range of possibilities.
e.g. you presumably don't drive your vehicle at 100 mph in suburban streets nor do you do it under the influence. Perhaps your reflexes/ skill eyesight is able to respond quickly enough for you personally to drive at say 40 in suburban streets. But reality is most people can't. While this inconveniences you the underlying point is in the interests and consistent with the fundamental principles of the purpose of the society in which you live. If you want to experience the opposite take a driving holiday in Bangladesh and look at their accident stats. The same goes for their industrial system (?) [ chaos for both].I would therefore argue that their laws/government are failing in the basic principles of their society. That is fact not opinion

Jon I think this makes your point.

Chad said...

Whenever Jon and Ex are pissed - whatever law/situation pit them there makes it great!

Loving the RTW laws in Michigan - maybe they'll keep some work there now.

Chad said...

It's funny how giving workers a choice is such a horrible thing to some. But then again we all know that the only way for any Progressive ideas to work in theory it requires mandatory participation by all. It also requires the stealing from one group of people to give to another through the threat of force or imprisonment.

If an idea is good it should be able to stand on its own without mandatory participation. This same choice should be offered for social security and healthcare as well.

Jon said...

Ken, I understand your point and I understand the desire for free negotiation of wages, but what I'm saying is thanks to government we have corporations. That's a government created entity. That creates a bargaining situation that strongly favors owners. If you want to dismantle government involvement that's fine, but you can't dismantle it on one side of the table without dismantling it on the other.

That would be as if two people are in a fight, one has a knife and the other has a gun, so an anti-weapon person comes up and says "Knives are bad and hurt people, let's take away knives." If you have a problem with weapons then fine, but you can't take away the weapon from one side and leave the other side defenseless. You don't implement right to work without first dismantling state interventions that help owners too.

As far as my hypothetical I'm trying to find out at what point you would abandon your principles and consider implementing what works.

So let me just use a different hypothetical that occurred to me later. You obviously like capitalism. What if it could be shown (hypothetically) that capitalism must destroy the environment and lead to species extinction. Do you stick to your principles in that case?

I assume no, but I'm just trying to emphasize this point. To me adhering to some principle is kind of irrelevant. What works? What reduces human suffering and misery? Do that.

Jon said...

Chad, you do understand the point of a union, right? Companies generate revenue and that revenue is divided between owners and workers. A union simply gives workers a stronger bargaining position. They keep a greater share. Less goes in the form of profits to owners.

Right to work laws undermine unions. Weaker unions mean owners have a stronger bargaining position. So more of the money generated by workers will be sent to stock holders in New York. More will go to the Walton family in Arkansas. There isn't now more money being made. It's just that a larger share is going to the owners, many of whom are out of state. How does sending more of the money we create out of state supposed to improve Michigan's economy? Giving the owners a larger share (they spend a lower proportion of the money they get, which means less economic activity will occur) is supposed to help an economy? How so? It seems it wouldn't. And in fact history shows that it doesn't. 8 of the 10 states with the highest poverty rates are right to work.

And by the way, it's not a mandatory thing. If you want are looking to work for a company that has a union nobody mandates that you must work for the company and pay union dues. You don't have to take the job. I think Ken's description is better. It is a government intervention that limits freedom of association. But it's not right to call it a mandate. You don't have to take a particular job.

And I'm not a fan of government intervention. It's just that we already have that in the form of corporations (corporations can't exist without state enforcement). To allow for government intervention when it helps owners, but decry government intervention when it helps workers, is a double standard. You have to oppose all, not just the one. You can't dismantle that which helps workers and still leave that which helps owners. If you want to oppose it all I can respect that, but you can't take away the worker's only weapon and leave the owners with their weapons.

BTW, any comments on the actual content of my blog post are welcome. Profits aren't always a good thing. What we're seeing today is exactly that. Greater profits reflect a worse economic situation. Greater profit doesn't mean more money is being made. It means it's being divided in a more unequal way. That's not good for an economy overall.

Chad said...

8 of the 11 States enjoying the lowest unemployment levels are Right to Work. Generally those States enjoy a lower cost of living and obviously will low unemployment more opportunities.

I think Unions should exist, but not as they are organized and ran today. The only organization more corrupt than Unions is Government. This should be (but it won't) it should be a wake up call for Unions. Start doing it right or die. I grew up watching how Unions work - deal with them today and they are toxic.

I am not sure all businesses are experiencing record profits, but on topic as you say right? Well if businesses are enjoying record profits as you say yet unemployment is up, earnings down and opportunities bleak doesn't that tell you just how confused and concerned the business world is?? Take our company we NEED to hire a minimum of 3 people now, but our company accountant is warning about the taxes we will owe, new regulations on the horizon that may affect us, new regulations that already affects us, new taxe proposals, the 'fiscal cliff' talks and a market standing around waiting for a guy who never ever ran a business and most likely never ever will run a business stand in front of a microphone with his smug/a-hole look and tell the businesses of this country I know more than you. In addition if I don't like what it is you do I will tax or regulate your company to death. For the rest of you out there that are successful I am going to take more from you because I need more money to spend on my ideas that will not work and will help nothing - nothing at all.

So the better question Jon, the question all the so called Big Brain Lefties out there should be saying is what have you done to cause businesses to shrink, become more lean, mean and in the end profitable without expanding growing or hiring? There is no confidence by business owners that they'll be in business in 10 years so why in the hell should they hire anyone? It seems that your asking the wrong questions and are on the wrong side of the fence again. If there are record profits then that means there is a market for more businesses to open in that market - so why aren't there? Ask yourself that. it is because of Taxes, regulations, Obama Care, Progressives want to tax everything in site and to penalize anyone who enjoys succeas and our asking why this is happening? Natural instincts to protect themselves first, but the company second - why risk anything with this guy in office?

Examinator said...

Chad, Yet again(sigh)you indicate your LACK of your ability to see anything that isn't in your limited perspective.
I AM NOT this moment I'm embarrassed by my above lack of wariness to the right wing spin-cycle's misappropriation of language(real intention) I should have checked. Silly me. They are in fact the antithesis of the point of Government in society, democracy and the case I was arguing


Jon said...

In 2011 profits were at record levels.  I suppose we'll have to wait until taxes are compiled to find out about 2012.  Contrast that with wages.  There's an obvious link there as I explained in this blog post.  Profits go up when you can weaken worker's bargaining position, particularly through union busting.  It would be interesting to get some conservative thoughts on this point, which is the main point of this blog post, and yet nobody has said anything.

I'm curious to understand why we should expect the overall Michigan economy to do better now that owners will be able to ship more of the earnings out of state to richer people and less to workers thanks to the further weakening of worker's bargaining position.  Another point that you don't seem interested in discussing.  Again we don't necessarily have a situation where more money is made.  It's just that the money goes now more to the non-working sector of our society.  Stock holders.  If you respond and say "Hooray" and "unions suck" that has nothing to do with my point.

And by the way let me echo what Ex said.  I'm not really "pissed" here.  Sometimes I get the sense that you think I'm jealous or need more.  I think I've mentioned before that I do live well within my means.  Not saying I'm rich, just that because I live modestly I don't have the kind of financial strain that so many others have.  When I talk about this stuff it's not that I'm worried about my own financial condition.  I'm a white guy that went to decent (white) public schools, got a good degree from a public school (and got some financial assistance to get it done), I've always been employed.  It's a different world for women and minorities.  These are the people that really take it on the chin with these policies that send more to the owners and less to the workers.

Examinator said...

Amen Jon,
The article I posted on Mr Burns clearly show exactly what you're saying.
That the tax levels or the record profit levels have no real linkage with job creation on the lager perspective, much less in Michigan or any where else.
Chad is simply being Chad; simplistic (inadequate)tunnel vision understanding of issues and with an equally described solution.
As I described before I'm having an eclectic life. And yes I live within my means and I guess by Chad's standards I border on minimalistic today.
That said I've been where He aspires to go and in MHO it was an interesting ride but no where what it's cracked up to be.
In the final analysis like every thing it comes down to the individual's perspective. Sadly in one way Chad has never experienced any of the real alternatives to where by he'd understand that live isn't black or White nor is it totally Malthusian (survival of the alpha and life HAS to be a dog fight).

To me excitement of life and everything is in the nuances/variations on a theme,
and beauty/peace is in its subtle connectivity. What it isn't is a perpetual search for the next 'thing', sensational experience.

Jon said...

Ex, I would like to become more of a minimalist. It sounds like you are living the kind of life I want to live. I'll get there, but being married and with two young kids it's not easy to impose a totally different lifestyle on others. If it were up to me we'd sell our house and move into something much smaller, probably within walking distance of work so we need only 1 car, get rid of cell phones, etc. Living in that way would mean I'd save so much money that it would only be a couple of years before I could stop working altogether and only do work that I want to do.

In my life there was a strong pull towards doing things in the standard way. Big house, nice cars, nice things, all that crap. I always felt some resistance to that lifestyle but couldn't really articulate what it was that bothered me about it. So I pulled back to some degree. I remember a friend showing off his new truck to me. I had a similar mindset to him at the time. New cars are great and it's normal to go buy stuff like this. I sat in the car and realized that I just didn't care about how nice it was. I lied and told him I thought it was awesome, but inside I was telling myself it was totally stupid and not worth the payment. I wouldn't feel differently commuting in this than I would in my old beater. So that was one thing I did right. Forget about nice cars. They do nothing for me.

But I wasn't able to resist as much as I now wish I would have. So you go down in my basement and you got the nice TV, surround sound system, etc. I realized recently that not only do I not care about this expensive stuff, I actually would prefer to not own it. It was fun for a while watching movies with that booming sound. It's cool to watch sporting events and you feel like you are in the crowd with the sound all around you. But then what good does spending 3 hours on a Saturday watching sports do for you? It seems meaningless. I'm not knocking the watching of an occasional movie or sporting event. I'll watch the Super Bowl. These guys are impressive. But I have a large portion of my house sectioned off and devoted to what really is kind of a time wasting activity. This requires a larger house (costly) and expensive equipment, all of which must be paid for and which delays the day in which I can stop working and start doing whatever I want to do. Is it worth it?

My family is great though. Yeah, they don't want to go live in a van down by the river, but they accommodate me a lot. My kids are getting rid of things and barely want anything for Christmas. My wife has always been really good about accumulation of things. She's never been materialistic. So it's not as if she goes shopping to pass the time. She has always been better than normal, but now she's also cleaning out our house, getting rid of things, and generally is resistive to acquiring more. We're progressing.

Jonathan said...


Best of luck with your minimalist endeavors. I wouldn’t consider myself a minimalist per se, but I would say I’m big into being location and time independent, and to the extent that means not going into debt and being shackled with stuff that restricts our movement, we tend to resist trying to accumulate general crap. That being said, I still dream of buying a pair of Revel Salon speakers like they have at Harman when I have a spare $20,000. Hmm… I’m right there with you trying to teach my kids that getting a bunch of stuff doesn’t lead to any sense of real satisfaction.

We presently owner occupy a triplex and have resisted buying a house since that would be a big time suck, and would add to my commute an extra 20 to 30 minutes each way which would make it that much harder to reach my goals of achieving my own location independent business. I look forward to the day when at the drop of a hat my family and I can go to SE Asia for a few months and do some mission work by day, while I run my business at night.

So if tomorrow you were suddenly financially independent, what things would you do different in your life?

Jon said...

I'm not sure I know. I have different things that have gone through my head. Live in a foreign country and either do charitable work or teach English. I do enjoy experiencing other cultures. I've talked about riding a bicycle across the country. Hiking the Appalachian Trail.

Part of me thinks I would be happiest right where I am. Just with the kind of free time you need to pursue self study of whatever subject I choose. I have fantasies of living in a very cheap way that would allow me to retire very soon. Like just a very simple residence with room for a garden that I cultivate, maybe a chicken coup. Now expenses are very low and I can just live where I am with my own free time. Now I can cultivate relationships with those around me.

I probably couldn't tell you what I would do because I don't know. I think I need to try different things and see what I enjoy. The grind though keeps you from having the kind of time you need to figure that stuff out.

Jonathan said...

It took me a few years to really figure out what I would really want to do, and this stems back to what my passions are and what I'm good at. The two tend to overlap more than you think. I’m guessing you might poo poo books like purpose driven life and 48 days to the work you love for their Christian framework, but for me they were very instrumental in understanding what skills I have that could hopefully contribute to society in the future.

We try and notch out time when we can despite still doing the 9-5. For instance, we took a quick mini vacation out to Arizona for 4 days a few weeks back.

We got the whole family there for $400 round trip, but at the cost of taking red eye flights both there and back with a 1.5 and 3 year old, having my 1.5 year old son sit on my lap 4 hours each way, and trying to lug 2 car seats, luggage, and a double stroller. Trying to entertain a 1.5 year old at 3 in the morning can be rather challenging. However, that strangely was part of the allure. Debbie’s siblings who have kids thought it was a crazy plan, and expected the trip to be a disaster, but it ended up being a really great time. We want to be able to learn how to travel half way around the world with young kids, and this part just part of the learning process.

If my son was a bit older, we would have considered one of those $50 - $70/night condos you can stay at where you’re actually staying at someone’s home (thanks to the Phoenix housing collapse), but we went the more traditional route.

One night while the kids were swimming I conducted a VA bootcamp class via gotomeeting from the hotel room for a class I plan on charging $250/person next year. It was a great dry run trying to balance family and work. After I was done, I got to spend the rest of the night swimming with the kids. Running in the mountains near Phoenix in the morning was also really awesome too.

Anyway, if you decide to get serious about figuring out what to do what you love and breaking out of the urban bubble, as Gary Vaynerchuk says, 7 o'clock at night, to 2 in the morning is plenty of time to do damage in your quest for the better life…

Jon said...

I feel like I was never super hostile to Christianity even when I had just come out of it, but I think I'm becoming even more positive about it as time goes on. So I won't dismiss your Christian sources out of hand. I actually wish Republicans would pay attention to Jesus.

But yeah, you're lucky to have a good sense of where you want to go. I know you've done some charity work that has been important for you. And yes, that is quite a deal on the flight. How about the kids though, eh? That does put some limitations on you. Well worth it though because the relationship you develop with them is key. That's what this is all about, right? The big house, the vacations, the cars. All that is nothing compared to the relationship I have with my wife and kids.

Examinator said...

To be fair I had a head start. I was partially raised in the jungles of PNG where my playmates outside of school some 15 miles away (35 minute trip, rugged road because of the torrential rain)were the indigenous children. The parents viewed me as simply another child who was occasionally fed, told off etc.
Where we were we had limited electric power (6hrs a day) no TV. So we children made do usually 'going bush' or reading widely(by a pressure lamp at night ) a trait I do voraciously even today
I learned some powerful lessons from those days despite (my parents prejudices).

First and fore mostly I learned to see people as they are in total context, not through a pre determined cultural/racial or religious one.

I witnessed first hand how the underpinning arrogance of missionaries create more problems often deadly, than they solve. In many ways they are more THE problem than the solution in that they invariably don't understand the context of the situation a bit like Tea Partiers ( their wisdom is conditional to THEM/ their conditions/circumstances etc) . What is blindingly clear in both cases there are many factors that they don't understand/ know that make imposing either conditions on the other is a recipe for disaster.
I remember being caught in two tribal wars over the consequences of well meaning (?) missionaries.
Most telling was that in the clan memory, the two tribes involved had never gone to war against each other. .
The circumstances were two different denominations in competition for souls set up in different clan territories. One worshipped on Sunday the other Saturday. Eventually two tribes succumbed to the 'cargo goods and the the respective interpretations dogmas Bible. It was this that led to a war with several deaths. All over which was the true God the Saturday one or the Sunday one. Most disturbing was that women and children were killed. In their culture Both especially Children were sacrosanct kill them and the Duk duk (medicine man) danced and the culprit was cursed and would dutifully die (willing themselves to death).
NB prior to the 'Christian way' there was
no street crime,
precious little spouse abuse
child abuse just didn't happen
unemployment (?) was unknown
the environment was healthy
and there was communal authority that made sense... i.e. issues that involved the tribe were decided by the tribe , taking into account the advice of the elders the 'big man' would either put it into action or call the Duk duk to dispense the justice. Private issues went to the chief and if warranted the Duk duk was then involved
every one in the tribe had their say and had a place in their universe.
Now a days in cities
-white expats need to live in razor wire compounds in cities.
any one with wealth 'cargo goods' needs protection
'rascols' (gangsters) car jackings murder robberies are epidemic proportions
crime is up
drug taking/ booze is out of control
spousal abuse and child abuse is rife
tribal killing (payback) is wild fire
authority is tenuous
official corruption is out of control
unemployment is 25+%
and the environment is a mess.... my jungle home is now a moonscape no trees washaways and sterile earth.....etc.
end part 1

Examinator said...

Part 2
My advice to any one thinking of going to any of the major cities (a bit like less organised gang Mexico)...don't. Off in the remote coastal places it's still a great place.
Well done arrogant whitey . Why arrogant? If they didn't *believe * that their ways are best the impetus to convert (read destroy working balanced cultures) wouldn't exist. Capitalism as we know it is a Whitey creation.
*An important note * : Definition of a culture... the adopted codified response of a group of people to their unique circumstances and conditions over time longer than living memory.
I note with bemusement that the Bible gives several fundamental directives that modern Christians simply ignore.
“Do unto other as you would have them do unto you” Turn up in your land, street and rip your culture religion to bits destroying you own system of authority and meaning of and for life? And if pigs could fly the price op bacon would go up.

“Don't covert thy neighbor's property” (ass wife etc) .
“Thou shall not steal/ kill “.

Christian whities( including Americans) are doing all of the above in Irian Jaya (West Papua and PNG, Africa, Asia you name it).
What they're not doing is “letting these people come to God through free will” even in their own lands!

Let me clear the left(what ever that is) isn't trying to make same sex marriage, abortions etc MANDATORY if they did I'd be out there with the biggest placard etc. The free choice and religious right are trying all manner of subterfuge and devious methods to MANDATE their minority views.

NB I have absolutely no problem with other's religions, (neither did the tribes did previously) even dispensing health education etc BUT ON THE RECIPIENT'S TERMS.
Again I make my self crystal clear I don't look down on anyone's right to believe what ever floats their boat BUT I reject the notion that this gives the theists the right to impose their views on's called mutual respect. You don't respect another's beliefs if you want to change it.

This all ties into my understanding of considered minimalist living drawing on what is important.

One additional note … it consistency with the above, the rules that apply to me about minimalist living don't necessarily apply, at least to the same level to others in the family. Although I have some influence.
i.e. we lived in semi rural environment when the children were young to encourage similar self reliance in play etc and reading/knowledge research based indoor activities as opposed to excessive electronic diversions.

We/I took the children to various churches, synagogues, temples, Shrines several time each so they understood the basis of each religion we encountered. They claim today they have benefited greatly from those encounters. All have travelled widely and are able to fit into many cultures and all distrust the arrogance I spoke of earlier.
The point there is be careful of trying to impose your perspectives on them... the more imprinting you try to do the more they'll probably reject it later on. They are individuals and they will if you do your job not appallingly find their OWN way. This isn't intended as a lecture merely observations and a lot of thought.

Examinator said...

I forgot to add the harder/more you try to imprint your children the more you're likely to be disappointed and the greater the gap between you and them is likely to be
later. Year on counselling service dealing with family tensions taught me that one.

Jon said...

What you describe sounds almost unbelievable. I have an acquantance that did go as a missionary to PNG, later to Belize. Interesting to hear your description of the missionary work. Not sure it applies in her case, but generally I understand that your description is quite good. Chomsky covers some of this in "The Washington Connection and Third World Fascism." Missionary work in Latin America.

I'm with you on child rearing. My son wanted to go to church this last Sunday. There's a girl apparently. I took him (my wife couldn't go). He went to church and I sat somewhere else. Not that I mind sitting through a church service, but I had some other things I wanted to do. He knows my views but he's going to think whatever he wants and there's not much I'm going to do to prevent it, as my own father has learned. And if he's a flaming evangelical he knows he'll have my love and support always.

Examinator said...

Lets be perfectly clear there are good individual and well .....The same goes for missionaries .
While the horror story was absolutely true albeit some years back and there's many more I could relate. The awful conditions in PNG are true today.

By the time your friend was in PNG I'd suggest that the damage had already been done and I'm sure now they were more constructive. I have no problems with 'missionaries building or helping the natives even teaching them English or skills or medicine . I just shudder at those coming to win souls for God knowing what damage they are going to cause.

Keep in mind that up until the 1960's White Australians missionaries were still taking Aboriginal/white children from their black mothers and raising them in some cases as servants. It's a big stink here called the 'stolen generation'.

Oh yes the other scandal here are the poor white English children sent out here during or just after WW2 for 'a better life'. in reality it was farm slave labor and yes heaps of child sexual abuse boys and girls.
Many were told their parents didn't want them or had died....the church run farms made good profits ya profits.
Many of these children have gone to find their families Mums, siblings. Often the Dad were killed in the war.
Even up to the 1970's Aussie pregnant girls were forced, drugged bullied to give up their babies in Queensland by a patriarchal religious conservative state government. But the consequences of these policies are now all too clear.

Even my own background is similar (Latvian refugee mum) She was raped and died after a toxic abortion.
I recently found had both a half sister and brother ...she died of breast cancer before I tracked her down. He was separated from his sister because they were Lutheran and no Lutheran Latvian couples want to adopt both ...he went into an orphanage was badly treated left at 16 became an itinerant laborer and eventually drank himself to death 5 years before I went to find him..

Other than the child sexual abuse none of the above is against many of the US conservative religious mind set, the Tea party my step dad would have fitted in well .
So having seen the consequences of their myopic reasoning I have to baulk ...they've been tried before and simply don't work .

Those who down cry single mothers should really have to face these mums and now grown up children and see how far they get ... Advice like "RUN" comes to mind.

Australia has many short comings but at least it's learning on these fronts ...pity about the USA.
It's now engaging in tactics that I suspect will ultimately cause its internal undoing.

hows this one for record profits= criminal activity ...just imagine how many innocent victim this represents
100000's is my guess