Throughout the 2020 lockdowns I worked at home, isolated from most of the world. I had been working a TxCEE, then got laid off (due to Covid) and ended up spending most of my days working on my project, R2 Society. This project has been something I had in mind for a long time (posted about it already here) and in the creation process, also went through my own personal growth (a forever thing!). Then I realized that I needed to breathe air of a different sort; air from a wide open desert. So the idea to go visit my sister in Albuquerque, as had been discussed several times, came up as the smart thing to do. Then a good friend of the family offered for me to stay in his guest bedroom for as long as I want. Hmmmm…this could be just the right thing for me. In this time, my 19-year-old niece suddenly needed a new place to stay and I needed someone to look after my cat while I was away. Now going to Albuquerque began to be an unavoidable event.
In my final week in Austin, I packed and ran all my errands and did some last-minute editing of R2 Society content and videos. Then it was time to head off! I stopped in Dallas first to see my nephew (who I used to take care of when he was a tiny kid and I was a teenager), then my sister, Anna, who I was re-united with when I was 25. While I Dallas I developed a sore throat, then a cough. This always happens to me when I’m not taking my mega doses of Vitamin C. I had ran out and kept forgetting to get more in all the hustle of preparing to leave Austin for an extended period of time, so when I developed the same old throat issues, it did not come to me as a surprise. I also did not concern myself with Covid because I believe I already got it back in March. Then when Anna woke up with a fever, the story changed. I had to rethink my plans to head to Albuquerque because both my sister there and our good friend are high-risk individuals.
My brother and sister-in-law’s house in Colorado now became the place to go because they both felt they had coronavirus already. Both were experiencing the symptoms and and my brother worked closely with someone who tested positive. This is how my Colorado detour came about. In two days I will have completed my two-week quarantine here and will be ready to head to Albuquerque to finally settle down and get back into my rhythm, something I am already starting to miss. It’s been almost three weeks since I’ve left Austin!
I believe there is always a spiritual reason why things happen, and since I allow myself to be spiritually guided, I let this detour be something that teaches me what I need to know. I put my R2 Society project completely on hold to let myself listen to the quiet. This is normal for me because I like to “go dark” in terms of all things online and spend my time in a soul-silence where I can hear new truths that I otherwise would not be able to grasp. I also re-calibrate myself to my real self in areas where I have been off or in places that I forget to be true to myself. I am a natural monk of sorts, yet I work in the world among muggles and it often happens that the world logic gets a foothold in my reality and I began to forget about all the magic I experience on a regular basis. Going dark brings me back to wonderland.
So when the Colorado detour came up as the only option for me at the time, I knew it was because I needed to disconnect from the world and reconnect with myself. Let go of all things and all people. Let it all be as it is. Do not rescue, do not save. Do not fight, do not defend. Do not struggle. Do not worry. Do not even think about what might happen. Let it all go and do what is in front of you to do. What was in front of me to do was spend time with family and go to see the mountains, the canyons and some very cute towns tucked away from the world. Oh yes, I also spent a whole day binge-watching Star Wars with my brother. I also played a lot with my adorable four-year-old nephew who is the cutest thing you will ever see ♥.
To make America great again, take away choice. (Bear with me.) First, define “Great Again”. I’m going to shoot back to the postwar era where the US was exporting far, far more than it was importing. The US $Dollar was also recently baptized as the world currency, which means that it is what everyone uses to buy & sell their goods to each other and to the US. This gave the dollar superpower strength. The US was also the great hero of the world, having saved everyone from Hitler and Americans got to walk around as if they were the world’s royalty.
Now imagine how all of this fits into the general psyche of the American population. Wait, let me be a bit more specific: imagine how this fits into the psyche of the dominant culture (i.e., white males) of the time. (We must remember that in the postwar era, women still did not have their basic rights and the Civil Rights movement was in full swing. Try not to think about what happened in the Dixie states in that time. Don’t bring to mind the people that were beaten, hung, murdered, accused to stupid shit just so they can be imprisoned and their lands taken. The Great Again era was, indeed, a golden era for the US, except for those minor, meaningless details, so don’t think about them.)
Let’s get back to real business. The US was hailed as the liberator of the world, its inhabitants (those that mattered) were raking in cash and they primarily purchased goods made on US soil. Why did they purchase US goods? Because they were patriotic? Or was there another reason? Maybe it was because they had no other choice. There was no car to buy but a Ford, a Buick or a Chrysler, basically. All clothing was made domestically as well as all forms of housewares, appliances and electronics. This kept money circulating strongly at home. Meanwhile, people were paid a lot because unions were extremely strong; they could take down any company–and they were everywhere.
Let’s add the Cold War drama in this mix. The mad rush to beat Russia at everything was in the air and it dominated the thinking space of almost everyone (except for a few socialist defectors who were punished severely by the public for their views). Because the competition with the Soviets was the number one priority of the US at the time, they poured all kinds of money into scientific research. Basically, anyone who wanted to participate got a job that paid them well and they got to work. Oh, and women were now working, so their efforts also added to the intensely circulating money pot.
Remember, that all this money going around was being poured back into the US because the options to buy less expensive products was still not available. Now how did all of this turn around to get us to the upside down point where we are at now? It was a progression of things.
It all started at one main point. We were sending barges of weapons and materials to Japan. (Remember that Japan was not allowed to have their own army so the US set up shop there following WWII.) These barges were coming back home empty. That was when someone got the brilliant idea to stock them up with goods that could be sold to the American public at a much cheaper price. Business as usual. As this behavior began to pick up steam, more goods were being purchased from places across the globe, and this put US companies in a bad position. They had to fight to stay alive, so one of the first things the began doing was breaking up their unions and cutting wages – their #1 expense. Many of them, possibly a majority, simply went bankrupt. Their workers now had to take jobs at a major pay cut in similar companies who were not governed by unions.
You can see how this progresses, right? It just gets more intense. Eventually the balance of US exports and imports is flipped and now Americans are purchasing almost all their goods from abroad.
This is just one strand of the foreign trade entanglement. To take another strand into consideration, we have to look at the options to invest in the stock market. Back in the day when America was great, the only people who invested were the wealthy. The Average person did not have the option because of the way the system was set up. Enter the era of deregulation of banks, which began in the mid-70s and was in full swing during the Reagan era. Smart bankers thought of slick ways to sell company stocks to the masses. Now that the general public was on board, what did they want to do with their money? Put it where it can make the most in return, right? Like any investor, they wanted to make sure that they had the best deal.
This was a new blow to the major companies in the US. Now they had to focus on their bottom line in a more ruthless way than they had ever before. So those who survived the shock of new imports were now facing the shock of the masses pulling their money out if their competitor’s stock was a better deal. By the way, this is what directly led to the Superhero CEO and their oversized pay checks: if they could navigate their company to the top, they could set their price. The individuals who were gifted were in hot demand and the major companies were willing to outbid their competition in order to retain this talent.
Because of this situation, most US companies had to cut wages as much as possible just to keep their share price in the arena. Now to cut wages, they had to build their factories overseas where they could pay a person a few pennies as opposed tho the wages demanded by hard-working Americans. Because global trade was now in full swing, it was the natural next step to work out a deal where shops could be built in the most convenient locations. Following this, many of the biggest companies even chose to headquarter in a country where the tax laws were favorable.
Now we have three main arteries that are draining money out of the US economy. Luckily, the $USD is still the world currency, which keeps it in demand. But, this is not good for its import/export balance. Poorer countries with weaker currencies cannot afford to buy US goods because they are sold at US prices. Americans, on the other hand, like to see how far their dollar can go when spending in these countries. It’s like buying everything on discount.
Now all of this has the US in a trade and economy gridlock. And the way to get out of this gridlock is what has everyone up in arms. Our only real options are bad, very bad and outright horrible choices. Everything about it sucks. Now how on earth are we going to get ourselves out of the situation that got us here?
Well, it is the expansion of choice that got us in this mess. Better, cheaper deals. Maybe removing the choice can help? Quit importing goods, don’t let people choose the stocks that give them the best ROI, make them buy everything Made In The USA, don’t hire immigrants, definitely do not give anyone visas to come and take American jobs!, force Americans to do all the farm work and the hard labor in every restaurant kitchen, and definitely, most definitely break apart Amazon. All in all, make them put their money back in the circulation of the US golden pot. Oh, we might want to bring back unions and start the mad Cold War again.
If this does not sound palatable, the other option would be for all sides of the Great-Again war to come to the table and start talking like adults. Maybe we could put our heads together to think of something entirely new. Maybe we could build a beautiful and humane world.
Every time I hear a conservative vs. liberal argument, the word handout is used. What does that word even mean? I suppose it means all forms of government aid, but it does not mean it in a literal sense. It is, in fact, a supercharged word that embodies a story about that the person who receives this aid. I have wanted to respond for many years and only recently am finding the words.
I am not arguing one side or another in the political fight, for neither side is the truth. I have found that all arguments grossly simplify the position of the other side. It’s like they both gaslight each other nonstop. For example, let’s continue with the argument of handouts. The conservative side holds the oversimplified view that people who receive help are lazy, do not want to fight to change their lives, and giving them any kind of aid is to support that laziness by giving them a free ride. Personally, I have had many discussions with poor and disadvantaged people and have yet to meet one that this argument can apply to. Because the word handout is so charged, it is used ad nauseam as a talking point in conservative campaigns, riling people up and getting them to detest the other, “free-rider” side.
But what really is a handout? In fact, it doesn’t exist. What does exist is the the issue of redistribution of wealth. Now there’s another thing people fight about. They call it “taking from the rich to give to the poor”, or handouts. Ok, let’s get to the point. Redistribution is required because the US economy cannot raise wages. In fact, wages are consistently suppressed vis a vis the cost of living, and in order for the most poor to survive, they must receive government aid. It is a whole set up based on complex macroeconomics. Why can’t wages be raised? Well, because no one can force a company to build its factories and headquarter in the United States; these companies will always go where they can cut the cost of labor, which is one of their biggest costs of staying in business. If another country offers them a better deal, of course, they will take it. This is why there are sweatshops all across the world. The major companies also go where the environmental rules are lax, because the politicians of that country can be bought or coerced to make laws that are in the “interest of the United States”. It boils down to the fact that setting up shop in other countries saves big companies a lot of money. It’s really just about the bottom line, not that they don’t care about their country and its people.
So now, the United States needs to find creative ways to get these companies to come back home. To do this, they need to give them tax breaks and keep wages low, very low. They also need to look the other way when the companies dump their toxic waste in the water and land where the poor live. And, since the poor can’t defend themselves, they just have to live with it. Why can’t they defend themselves? Well, do you know how much money a major lawsuit takes? We regress…
The point is, we are in a massive dilemma. Jobs need to be created and we don’t want to give handouts. The liberal position understands the dilemma and is bent on redistributing wealth because it is the only way to help people get out of the poverty trap. Redistribution does not mean more food stamps; it means better schools and changing the way they are funded. It means investing in college education and helping people access healthcare if they cannot afford it. Who should pay for this? Those people who got the massive breaks. But wait! Doesn’t that take away the break they get? Ok, you see the dilemma. Since the government and all its politicians cannot figure this one out, what they end up doing is passing the buck to the middle class. So now it’s the hard working people who are fighting to stay alive and who live just a few rungs above the threshold to get any kind of aid, and who, because of their gross income, must pay the most in taxes. These people are then told that they are in this position because the liberals want to give handouts to the poor. And the poor, who still cannot defend themselves, are furious because of the trap they are in and for being scapegoated by the ones in power. Because marketing is so powerful, the brilliant idea to brainwash the masses on how the poor are the issue has worked for about 50% of the population.
But here is the thing no one talks about: It is not in human nature to live in apathy. Our nature is to want improvement. It is progress that makes us happy, not the lack of physical exertion. People only become apathetic when they fight nonstop and to no avail. They keep bumping up against the injustice of life. They keep hitting the walls of the intricacies of the economic system, which are set up in a way that keeps them struggling for survival in perpetuity.
But, you may say, I know of a lot of people who just won’t put in the fight when I can clearly see that they have what it takes. Let me assure you that these people are mostly those who cannot bear any more pain. I’m aware of the fact that to you, a passerby in their life, it appears that they just don’t want to fight for themselves. For those who really do not want to lift a finger, how many of them suffer from a variation of PTSD or another form of mental illness? And how many of them just cannot stand to be rejected anymore? They cannot stand to be seen as a worthless human by everyone else around them as they fight to better themselves. This, in fact, is a major issue in the lowest paying jobs. I know because I was there. I felt the mud splashed on my face, the insults that were hurled at me, the constant judgment and the fact that no one sees you as an equally intelligent person.
All I am trying to say, is that if there are a level of poor who want help, it is because they pain that they live in is so great. It does not mean that the pain you or I experience is less. Actually, in my own experience, I would not have survived if it were not for the help of many wonderful people who gave me hard cash just so I can keep afloat. I lived most of my life without insurance and suffered deep pain from PTSD and the grief of all that I have lost in my early years. I could have moved into a position of health much sooner had I had the proper treatment. But I could never get this treatment because I never had the money and I didn’t have insurance. The few nonprofits and community centers that did offer help to the broke and almost-homeless did not offer the specific help I needed–EMDR. What they did offer was the opportunity to talk to someone who would never understand my experience because they had never met someone who grew up in a cult and lost as much as I had lost. They also could not understand the fact that I was still living under a deep mental conditioning that told me that I could never say the truth to an ‘outsider’, which in this experience, was the counselor. They couldn’t wrap their heads around the fact that most my loved ones were killed and I knew, from my earliest memories, that doing things, like talking to authorities, could get a person killed. My survival mechanisms were so deeply ingrained to NEVER SAY THE TRUTH, that even when I knew I needed to, I could not.
So, basically, help did not exist for me. Although my situation is an extreme example, it is by far not an isolated one. People have to understand that it is not in human nature to live a degraded, no-dignity life where your value as a human is like that of useless trash. Everyone wants to fight for a better life because being seen this way is one of the worst hells that can exist.
In the end, the idea and story that goes with the word handout is a made up illusion that politicians use to sway the masses. Thus, when people start to argue the point, they are arguing against smoke. Now the liberals turn and say that the conservatives do not care at all about the world or humanity, that they would be happy to soak up all the money and go live on an island separate from the hoi palloi, to hell with nature, ocean life and all that makes this planet beautiful. In fact, the rich really would love to live is an oil-dirtied world with nothing but dead fish as long as they have their mountain of money. Of course, this is not true. It, like the other argument, is a painted reality that is used to get the liberal side of the population to stampede in the opposite direction. In truth, most of the rich want to make the world a better place and put a lot of money towards that end. They just don’t want the corruption-ridden government and its hypocritical politicians to decide where that money goes. They want to help lift people up, but not in a way that keeps the person forever dependent, like on a drug. The want the helped person to eventually walk on their own strong legs, then turn around to help the others. Now of course, there are a lot of superrich who do not feel any qualms about hording all their money on offshore accounts. These, again, are the minority. The vast majority of rich and middle class, do in fact, want to make everything better. An no, no one wants to carry a bunch of lazzies. But thank goodness, there aren’t a bunch of lazzies who want to be carried. So why are we fighting? We are fighting because we don’t know better.
We don’t know that the monster we actually face is far, far greater than how wealth is redistributed, and it will eat us all if we keep fighting each other on stupid, brainwashed arguments.