By Richard John Stapleton
Humans are voyaging in the infinitesimally short time of their lives in the infinity of time and space. The human race has been happening around Spaceship Earth probably about a million years. Earth itself has been happening about five billion years; its universe has been happening about ten billion years.
Technical, intellectual, artistic, and organizational skills began to happen in humans about 25,000 years ago. Humans began to develop better tools for killing and cooking animals for food about that time. Some humans painted animals and other figures on cave walls. Humans were caused to invent writing in Mesopotamia about three thousand years ago. Rhesus monkeys can count up to three. Humans separated genetically from chimpanzees about eight million years ago. Since chimpanzees are smarter than rhesus monkeys, humanoids had probably learned to do some elementary counting by six million or so years ago. Humans were caused to develop primitive oral language skills about one hundred thousand years ago, in Africa.
Shamanistic religions probably existed among humans forty thousand years ago. Dominant religions practiced today that entail an anthropomorphic god creating everything in space from scratch and owning and managing everything in it were probably caused to happen in the minds of humans about three thousand years ago, coincident with the happening of writing.
The Old Testament of the Christian Bible tells us an anthropomorphic god created man in his own image in seven days about six thousand years ago, and it tells us, “In the beginning was the word.”
About the time the first words of the Old Testament were uttered, humans thought they heard messages from a god telling them he existed and he loved them but he was jealous and would inflict severe punishments if they did not do what he said. He told them what he wanted from them, what his plans were, and what they should do on Earth to minimize their chances of suffering and maximize their chances of happiness on Earth, and what they should do if they wanted a blissful guaranteed life in heaven throughout eternity after they died. The god also told them he would send them to hell for eternity if they did not do what he told them to do.
Events, dogmas, doctrines and stories, drummed into their heads day after day, began to be recorded in writings that bonded humans in groups and religions that gave them feelings of identity, belonging, love, security, righteousness, and superiority relative to groups being acculturated, day after day, according to different messages drummed into their heads with different dogmas, doctrines, stories and the like in several religions and many cultures around Earth.
Did a “word” happen in a human brain about six thousand years ago that led to more and more words emanating in messages from a God through time?
A sizeable percentage of humans today have been caused to wonder by various messages received from various sources—if a man indeed looks like a god that created the Earth and everything in it in seven days six thousand years ago, man having been created in the god’s image according to the messages, and man therefore is about the same size, shape, etc. as the god—how could such a god create a universe or multiverse and everything in it, including man himself and herself, in seven days six thousand years ago?
About half of humans alive on Earth in 2017—Christians (32.5 percent), Muslims (23.2 percent), and Jews (0.2 percent)—have been caused to believe or say or imply they believe by various messages such a god created the universe and everything in it in seven days six thousand years ago, about 4,000 years before the birth of Jesus Christ, the supposed son of this god, according to some messages, 2017 having been counted from zero to now incrementing by one (1) each year (every time the Earth orbited its sun) after the death of Jesus Christ.
For verification of these percentages click here .
How this Earthian counting system for calendar time came about is an interesting story, starting with the death of Jesus Christ. It’s interesting that most humans around Spaceship Earth accepted this time counting or dating procedure since only about one-third of humans alive on Earth ever worshiped Jesus Christ.
It would seem, based on scientific discoveries and dating technologies—fossils and skeletons buried for eons in Earthian geological strata, and logic, as figured out by Charles Darwin—that humans were caused to evolve over billions of years from simple non-human organisms living aboard Spaceship Earth about four billion years ago.
No one knows for sure how such organisms evolved from gases and inorganic elements on Earth, or on any other planet, for that matter, after a Big Bang created the universe ten billion or so years ago, since no scientist has been able to produce life in a test tube from compounds of inorganic elements.
There are plausible theories about how the first spark of life happened, which I discussed in my book Business Voyages citing scientific facts and evidence, but so far scientists have not been able to replicate the feat in a laboratory.
It’s possible Earthian life did not start on Earth but was transported to Earth on asteroids that collided with Earth carrying life from other solar systems, which if so leaves the question of how life started there.
Our nearest neighboring planet that might have life aboard is about fourteen light years away. One light year, being the distance light travels in a year, the speed of light in a vacuum being 186,282 miles per second, is about six trillion miles, so the distance to our nearest known neighboring planet in our universe possibly having life is some eighty-four trillion miles away.
Humans won’t be taking a trip there anytime soon to see firsthand whether the planet has life aboard, considering it’s unlikely humans will ever be able to travel at the speed of light in spaceships.
However life of any sort first happened aboard Spaceship Earth, it apparently started evolving in Africa billions of years ago from amoebas or other simple-celled organisms.
Spaceship Earth is a globe moving in an elliptical orbit around its sun, traveling in sync with its solar system, galaxy, and universe in infinite time and space, with its own closed system capable of recycling and regenerating the oxygen and life support systems that enables life to exist, generate, and evolve on Earth, dependent on nothing from outside its atmosphere but sunlight and heat from its sun. Earth is, so far as we know, the only planet in our universe or in a multiverse containing numerous universes, if there is a multiverse, which contains organic life.
Common sense would tell you however that we are not alone in the infinity of time and space containing billions and billions or trillions and trillions of solar systems. We can see with our own eyes using modern telescopes that there are numerous planets in distant solar systems, systems of planets orbiting stars, or suns, that might contain life; and there are billions and billions or trillions and trillions of solar systems in a multiverse that we cannot see.
Early humans on Earth—after beginning their evolutionary long voyage four billion or so years ago from non-humanoid creatures in Africa—and soon evolving over one hundred or so thousand years from homo habilis into homo sapiens with big brains—migrated into Asia and Europe and then spread over the land mass of Earth to where they are today, excluding small parcels of uninhabitable territory in deserts and jungles.
Different climatic conditions on various spots around Earth caused humans to evolve different physical features over tens of thousands of years, creating what are called races. This differentiation has been the cause of much human suffering, consternation, and hatred in recent millennia since humans in differentiated groups thought their evolved features were superior and more beautiful than those of others, so superior and beautiful they were justified in looking down on other races, creating enmity.
This ill feeling was exacerbated by an evolution of differentiated cultures involving different languages, technological artifacts and methods, architecture, myths, stories, dogmas, doctrines, songs, sports, economic systems, religions, and political systems, which after being introjected into the ego states of new generations of humans, also led to feelings of superiority and ill feelings toward different groups in many cases.
In transactional analysis terms, an ego state is an observable state of being displayed in a human caused by videotaped or contrived feelings, thoughts, and behaviors for the purpose of stimulating or responding to another human or humans in a communication episode, or “transaction”, to perform one or more personality functions, to parent with rules and limits, to instruct in an adult way how to do something, or to show how or give permission to have fun in a child-like way.
This is a simplification of a complex process, but hopefully it gives you a basic idea of how introjection works. Read my book, Born to Learn: A Transactional Analysis of Human Learning, for a fuller story.
Ego states are introjected from parents, elders, and others and are stored in human memories. The functioning of a differentiated human is caused by the differentiated messages swirling about the internal and external environment of the person to which she or he is accidentally exposed throughout life and to some extent in mothers’ wombs. These messages are the god of the person, the determinant of his or her feeling, thinking, and behaving throughout her or his Earthly life.
Introjection entails a person automatically and psychologically taking in something from the outside that permanently affects his or her feelings and behaviors. Introjected ego states are templates for how to feel, think, look, sound, and behave in certain situations. To a large extent they replicate the ego states used by parent-like people and others in earlier times to which the person was exposed. Since parents developed their personalities and scripts by introjecting the ego states of their parents, some ego states instantiated and displayed in a living person may have existed in great-grandparents many generations earlier.
To instantiate an ego state is to bring an introjected ego state stored in memory into play and apply it in the here and now in a communication episode or transaction. Humans instantiate ego states in current transactions or communication episodes based on algorithms programmed in their memory systems.
Messages created by cultures are transmitted from generation to generation within families from parents and parent-like figures to children in the process of living. This transmission takes place through the use of words and behaviors. Parents tell children what is and what is not permissible with words, the do’s and don’t’s of the culture; but the transmission process also entails children doing what parents do and feel, that is, they “introject”, absorb, and incorporate into their personalities and behaviors what they see, hear, and feel going on around them non-verbally, in many cases by what they see written non-verbally on the faces of their parents—fear, reverence, anger, hatred, joy, sadness, perplexity, superiority, inferiority—when parents are exposed to certain people, messages, and events. In effect they videotape these sightings and hearings and record them permanently in their memories.
And then there are the stories, mainly myths, elders tell the younger ones about how their group came about on Earth and how it relates to the world, however the elder defines and describes the “world”.
In addition to antipathies and enmity caused by racial and cultural differentiation, serious conflict and hatred is often caused by differentiated groups having to compete for scarce economic resources to stay alive; and these conflicts and hatreds have led to wars in which millions have been killed, most recently and dramatically in World War I and World War II, but millions have also been killed in the Vietnam, Iraq, and other wars in the last sixty years.
When resources for a country begin to run short and its population grows beyond the capacity of its territory to comfortably sustain itself its natural impulse is to invade the territory of a differentiated country, kill its inhabitants, and steal their resources. Countries such as England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Spain, France, Germany, Holland, Denmark, and Russia, who at one time owned Alaska, are not exceptions to this rule. What the surplus populations and marginalized and persecuted religious adherents of these countries migrating to the so-called “New World” did to the native inhabitants of what is now called North, Central, and South America is a good case in point.
These invasive humans not only took over the land mass of the New World, enslaving and exterminating the native populations, they used humans captured and purchased in Africa who were bought, sold, and used as slaves in the New World, primarily on agricultural plantations, primarily growing crops such as sugar cane, tobacco, and cotton, which were exported to satisfy the cravings and needs of native inhabitants remaining in the “Old” World.
I published in 2012 the third edition of Business Voyages: Mental Maps, Scripts, Schemata, and Tools for Discovering and Co-Constructing Your Own Business Worlds, Effective Learning Publications, 765 pages, first edition published in 2008, in which I recorded some of the experiences of my ancestors aboard Spaceship Earth in the Southern part of what became the United States in the New World, and some of my thoughts about it. You can find more information on the Internet about Business Voyages and various sources cited in this article by clicking on anything in this article highlighted in red.
The passage below quoted from Business Voyages sums up how some of this Spaceship Earth history happened as perceived and articulated by me in 2004:
The world has always been a screwed-up place. And there has never been enough food, furs, spears, game, land, water, fish, timber, shoes, shotguns, rifles, fishing tackle, plows, cotton, houses, horses, cattle, clothes, cars, tractors, oil, gasoline, electricity, video games, computers, cell phones, helicopters, Humvees, SUVs, pickups, nuclear weapons, medicine and other goods to go around.
There are now some 6 billion people aboard Spaceship Earth and probably 1 billion people go to bed hungry every night. Millions of people exist on the brink of starvation every year. The starvation hellhole in 2004 is the Darfur region of Sudan, as usual in Africa, where one million people may die of genocidal ethnic cleansing, starvation, and disease. Only about 1 billion of us aboard Spaceship Earth are in generally good shape, in the United States, Western Europe, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Iceland, Australia and in a few other places. Among the 200 or so countries on Earth one finds various levels of affluence and poverty, happiness and misery, freedom and slavery—the poorer the country in general the greater the gap between a rich elite few and masses of poor. In general the poorer the country the more corrupt the government.
As bad as things are now, they are probably better than they ever were. Average incomes in recent years have increased worldwide. Although a few countries have become worse off, many of the poorest countries are now less poor than they were. Even so, it is not easy to live on $500 per year, a common income for people in some countries of Africa, South America, and Asia. Compare that with a $30,000 or so median yearly income for employed people in rich countries.
It’s no wonder that have-nots are continuing their struggle against the haves worldwide. Numerous rebel groups, communist and otherwise, led by warlords and leaders by various names now roam about in South America, Africa, and Asia raping, pillaging, and skirmishing with right-wing paramilitary groups and other military coalitions. Intellectually and morally bankrupt dirt-poor communist North Korea playing with nuclear fire may be the biggest threat at present to humanity; and rapidly-developing communist China with its new variety of capitalism is significantly increasing its production, creating more competition for raw materials worldwide. Educated information technology workers in poor countries are now able to do computer and information services work, thanks to the Internet, sitting at their computer screens in their poor countries, out-competing similar workers in rich countries without ever leaving home, all part of a new phenomenon known as “outsourcing”.
As bad as environmental pollution and global warming are now, caused by burning crude oil and coal, imagine what would happen if all poor countries were to develop the production, transportation, and consumption systems now used by rich countries and were to produce the same output per capita.
Politicians have increasingly polarized voters in the US in the last 25 years in their quest for personal political power. In general Republicans want to lower taxes for the rich, increase military might, and promote their religious beliefs; in general Democrats want to restore the taxes of the rich and insure Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other social programs. The last two US presidential elections, in which voters were almost exactly divided between Republicans and Democrats, serve as evidence for this assertion.
There are now ominous signs in the US that atavistic forces lurking apparently in all humanity such as religious fanaticism and intolerance, military fatalism, ideological magical thinking, racism, sexism, ageism, and disrespect for facts and reason are spreading. Almost every day one can read in newspapers about politicians attempting to enact laws promoting religious belief that will enable religious groups to secure tax money to further their religious agendas. Articles appear almost daily in newspapers about the loss of individual freedom in America and the imposing of increasingly authoritarian measures such as denying due legal process to suspected terrorists and prisoners. Although terrorism is a threat to some people in developed nations, and strong police and military measures are required to deal with terrorists, in the face of such threats we must not allow the darker power-hungry, irrational and fatalistic side of human nature to destroy the blessings of freedom that millions of Americans have worked and fought so hard to achieve in the last 250 years.
In the past few years I have had more and more students in my classes with political agendas who seem to think facts are irrelevant and that political propaganda is truth. Apparently they have been taught by authority figures in their lives that they have a right to disseminate their personal dogma and propaganda as truth and others have no right to contest them or point out the deleterious consequences of such thinking and behavior. I am sure Hitler’s empowered brown-shirted youths felt much the same. Just today a page-one story in our local newspaper is about an attempt by a legislator in a Midwestern state to pass legislation to force professors to allow students to promote “conservative” dogma in college classrooms without being challenged by the teacher even, apparently, if the dogma is completely out of context. I think this sort of thing is worse than absurd; it is abhorrent.
What this move amounts to in transactional analysis terms is an attempt to legitimize by law a Parent ego state contamination of the Adult ego state functioning of the educational process. The move entails an attempt to legally enfranchise an I’m OK—You’re Not OK life position based on political propaganda, dogma, and doctrine in classrooms. Good teaching entails teachers establishing an I’m OK—You’re OK life position among themselves and all students in the classroom, based on an honest attempt using the Adult ego state to discover and teach the truth of the matter based on a rigorous study of facts and evidence.
It seems obvious to me the purpose of teaching in classrooms is to teach truth—verifiable truth supported by facts, observation, and reason. Labeling professors as liberal or conservative is an insult to real professors. This assumes professors teach dogma and propaganda and ignore truth based on fact and reason. As far as I am concerned any professor who tells his or her students she or he is liberal or conservative and teaches propaganda, dogma, or doctrine conforming to a political party line in a classroom as actual truth is not qualified to be a professor.
Although I abhor labeling people as liberal or conservative, it seems to me “conservatives” are winning the political language game in the United States because the word conservative resonates better than liberal with people en masse. Liberal makes a good smear word whereas conservative does not. The word conservative connotes morality, virtue, hard work, persistence, generally virtuous things; whereas the word liberal connotes immorality, laziness, loose morals, loose standards, generally weak sentiments and behaviors.
Business Voyages, pp. 581-583
Some Current Thoughts
Having written the above passage in 2004, it seems to me most of it remains true, now in 2017, thirteen years later. One statement in the passage however is no longer true: the Earthian human population is not six billion people. It’s now 7.5 billion, according to the World Population Clock. The Earthian human population may have been more than six billion when I wrote the above passage. I can’t believe it’s gone up 1.5 billion people since 2004. Regardless, Spaceship Earth has too many humans aboard for all passengers to enjoy decent lives—lives free from hunger, disease, economic insecurity, gang and military violence, premature deaths, and other torturing and harrowing experiences. Figuring out how to reduce the human population peacefully through attrition, not wars, over time by breeding fewer humans than naturally die each year should be a major goal for all humans to reduce human suffering and insure the long-term survival of the human race.
Some say Earth has enough resources to provide decent standards of living indefinitely for only about 500,000 humans. This notion is literally carved in stone on The Georgia Guidestones, near Elberton, Georgia, in the United States, the so-called granite capital of the world, about 150 miles from where I live. Surely this estimate is too low, but most likely the human population needs to be reduced by half or more to insure sustainable natural lifetimes for all passengers aboard Spaceship Earth devoid of misery and unfairness. On the other hand, some say Earth can produce enough food to keep ten billion people alive. What sort of quality of life most humans would have if Earth’s human population rose to ten billion people is another matter.
I have given some thought to these issues since retiring from university teaching and a regular teaching schedule in 2005, one year after I wrote the above passage in Business Voyages.
It’s been nice not putting on a coat and tie and showing up in class five days a week. I can sleep as long as I want most days and I can stay up as long as I want most nights, thinking, reading, and writing. I go to bed anywhere from about nine p.m. to three a.m. I get up in the morning anywhere from five o’clock to twelve noon. I sleep about six hours a night and take a two or three-hour nap most days.
I take some red wine with lunch most days about noon, do some thinking and reading, and start a nap about three in the afternoon. I get back to work about eight o’clock, sometimes watching the six o’clock news on TV, if Debbye and I do not go out to eat with friends or watch Georgia Southern football and basketball games that day, or attend the Georgia Southern Performing Arts Center or the Statesboro Emma Kelly Theater. We have a log cabin in the Western North Carolina Mountains near Franklin, NC and we spend time there, which also detracts me from my abnormal regimen.
As one of a diminishing number of lucky humans seventy-six years old with a defined benefit retirement plan, Social Security, and Medicare, thanks to teaching forty years most of the time as a full professor with tenure at a state university, since age 64 I have had plenty of time to think, read, and write. I have read books and articles in print and on the Internet. Many of the Internet articles have been brave, cogent, and comprehensive, some posted and published in long expositions in Internet journals such as the Intrepid Report, Truthout, Counterpunch, and MWC News (Media with Conscience).
See some of my thinking, reading, and writing since retiring from university teaching at Business Voyages Archives , Effective Learning Publications , RJS Academic Vita, and Games Educators Play.
Given my economic history and business policy teaching, my management consulting, and considering my degree in economics, it stands to reason I should know more about economic history and economic functioning than most people, however little I know about it absolutely.
You don’t have to be abnormally smart or dumb to read and write as I do. Albert Einstein said even he was not necessarily smarter than most people. He said he discovered what he did because he thought about it all the time. He said not many people want to think about time and space all the time, so he had few competitors in his field. I am somewhat the same way regarding what I think about. For some reason I have always had more psychological permission to think about policy issues than most people. I have been told at various times throughout my life in various messages that I think too much. On the other hand, some people do not have psychological permission to think enough, or think period. Most people do not spend much time thinking. In most cultures people are looked down on for thinking instead of doing things, such as working at a paying job, marching and saluting in the military, growing crops and raising livestock, cooking, washing clothes, cleaning the house, telling jokes, or talking about sports, shopping, and the weather, or watching television, or flirting or having sex, taking care of children or grandchildren, going to school or church, or hunting, fishing, or playing golf, or playing bridge, or chess.
I was merely a good economics student in undergraduate school, with a 3.0 grade point average. I made an A in a course focusing on the history of economic thought, and another A in a course focusing on economic development, taught by two of the best teachers I ever had, Harry Walker in economic thought and H. A. Anderson in economic development, at Texas Tech University in the 1960s. These were A’s made back in the days before grade inflation when not many students made A’s in college courses. Only two students in a class of thirty in the history of economic thought course made A’s, me and one other guy. Without doubt this was the most memorable A I ever made.
I had a problem in most courses because of thinking instead of paying attention to the teacher and the textbook.
I also have graduate degrees in organizational behavior and management science, and training in transactional analysis, a new psychiatric discipline started in the 1960s. The TA training entailed reading professional TA literature, participating in didactic and experiential learning experiences conducted by experts in the field, and passing comprehensive oral and written exams, to earn a certification in TA provided by the International Transactional Analysis Association, a CTA (Certified Transactional Analyst). For more on how this happened read my book Born to Learn: A Transactional Analysis of Human Learning.
I did better at the doctoral level where I had a 3.67 grade point average. I learned how to be a better student the longer I stayed in school.
I used to tell my students, “It looks like I’m going to be a college professor when I grow up.” I switched from economics at the undergraduate level to organizational behavior at the master’s level because I had begun to think economics was irrelevant for making a living, and I might be able to function and succeed as a personnel manager with a large corporation. I switched from organizational behavior at the master’s level to management science at the doctoral level because I wanted to learn something about computers and computer-based management information systems, having decided by then that I wanted nothing to do with large corporations as an employee, and I could be more satisfied and successful as a professor than I could as a manager or business owner, since I had a problem of thinking too much.
I wound up using some of the content and techniques of all three disciplines as a professor teaching integrative case method courses dealing with problems in entrepreneurship, small business, organizational behavior, management information systems, operations management, business ethics, and business policy and strategy.
As the only case method teacher in our business school I had the equivalent of my own mini Harvard Business School at the undergraduate level using nothing but the case method, the only teaching method that teaches students how to think about business as a whole using the Adult ego state.
While I taught about 200 students per year in various courses, about twenty or so students graduated every year who had essentially majored in me by taking three or more of my case method courses over their last two years in college, an especially satisfying process since I got to see these students learn, grow, and improve from course to course.
I have longitudinal survey data published in Business Voyages , Effective Learning Publications , and professional journals showing my case method students, after having worked in the so-called real world at least five years, some as long as fifteen years, were more successful financially than students taking non-case method courses in the same subjects when they were in college. See “Evidence the Case Method Works,” published in Business Voyages: Mental Maps, Scripts, Schemata, and Tools for Discovering and Co-Constructing Your Own Business Worlds for the data backing this assertion.
Since retiring from university teaching I have used economics and business policy in my own life more than the other disciplines I majored in when I was in college, primarily because of having to manage some of my retirement money.
Everything worked fine until 2016 when it became obvious the stock market was in another bubble and the Federal Reserve System’s bailouts and low interest rate policies were not working for anyone but the elite rich; so I got out of the stock market, leaving me with the problem of figuring out what to do with the money I took out of the market. I preserved my capital, but I suffered an opportunity loss. The stock market did not crash in 2016, as I thought it would, as I was standing aside. It may crash in 2017, but who knows?
Savings accounts in banks now pay about one-half of one percent per year as a return. Two-year US Treasury bills now yield about 1.2 percent per year. Ten-year Treasuries now yield about 2.4 percent per year. Utility stocks now return about four percent per year, about the highest yielding safe dividend stocks you can find, but you could lose half your capital invested in them if the market crashes again as it did in 2008. The bottom line is it’s difficult to fund any kind of retirement plan in today’s world with safe investments. With markets and returns like these, state and municipal governments will soon have difficulty funding and maintaining their retirement plans and obligations for millions of retirees.
Middle and working class incomes have been stagnant or declining for years for most people, and it’s likely most people, working and retired alike, are going to have to learn how to get by with less disposable income in future years, especially in what were once considered retirement years.
Medical expenses and pharmaceutical drug costs continue to inflate at ominous rates. The University System of Georgia, while it has a relatively well-funded retirement plan for retired teachers, administrators, and employees, compared with other states, has recently cut its contributions to medical and drug plans for retirees, cutting state expenses by cutting the disposable income some retirees have to spend beyond medical and pharmaceutical bills by thousands of dollars per year.
While academic economics does not have canned off-the-shelf right answers for all economic problems, it provides more insight and understanding about current economic matters than most academic disciplines.
Stock and commodity markets are about as real as a real world gets, assuming a real world could exist that is the same for all people. Stock and commodity markets produce consensus-based democratic prices based on the financial decisions of millions of humans in all countries around Spaceship Earth. It makes not a whit’s worth of difference what anyone thinks, feels, or believes; market prices for good or ill are what they are when they happen. About all most people know for sure about the stock market is that prices go up and they go down, and sometimes they stay about the same, for a while.
The stock market is a game wherein the monetary gains of winners are offset by the losses of losers. The same is true in any kind of financial market. Money in the pot can go up because of corporations issuing more stock or gold miners digging more gold out of the ground, or farmers growing more crops, or central banks of countries around Spaceship Earth creating more digital money out of thin air; but financial markets do not go up in nominal value when individual traders buy or sell one share of anything, stock or whatever, in a computerized trading system. On the other hand, if enough traders win by selling, somebody loses about that much some way or another, either a real loss or an opportunity loss. And sometimes rich investors and traders can buy or sell enough shares of a stock to make its price go up or down, especially thinly-traded stocks, sometimes part of illegal market manipulations to fleece other investors. A real loss is selling something for less than you paid for it. An opportunity loss is what you lost by simply buying too high or selling too low. The total value of the stock market or a stock goes up because sufficient outsiders perceive it to be worth more than the current price, so they buy into the game causing prices to go up. The total value of the market goes down if large numbers of insiders owning stock perceive the stock is worth less than the current price causing them to sell their holdings. When this happens the reduction in nominal market value does not entail the loss of real wealth: the so-called money reduction of the market is simply a reduction of digits representing money that simply vanishes.
Money in the stock market is not really money until you take it out and buy something real with it. If you sit there and watch the value of your holdings go down in value you lose whatever real goods and services you could have bought with however much your stock value went down had you cashed in your stock at the higher price. But once it goes down, however much it went down, it is gone, vaporized into thin air, if you sell at the lower price. After it goes down if you do not sell your stock it may go back up to where it was, or even higher; but if you do not sell after it goes down it can keep on going lower. Sometimes investors watch their stock values go to zero without selling, thinking they will go back up again, a punishing experience indeed.
And financial markets also win or lose as different markets change. If investors and traders take money out of one market that changes chances are they will put the money in another market, causing that market to increase in nominal value. Sometimes, however, investors and traders take money out of all markets, in which case money stored in bank deposits increases, and most likely you find yourself in another recession, or worse.
David Stockman, a former US treasury secretary under Ronald Reagan and a Wall Street investment banker after that, and currently a prolific writer, asserts the US Federal Reserve System’s bail-outs and low interest rate policies have deformed market prices, making them too high in nominal value, more or less fake news; but as Stockman asserts, the Fed is only one influence among millions, however much more powerful it is than institutional and individual investors and traders determining market prices, and it won’t be able to deform markets to the upside forever.
Oligopolistic markets with only a few sellers dominated by large corporations are definitely not fully free. Corporations by their very nature are dictatorships, not democracies. Nobody votes in corporations, except yes-men cronies at the top and a few stockholders at stockholder’s meetings rubber-stamping whatever the CEO wants. Employees from the CEO down are little better off than serfs with respect to voting and democracy. Oligopolies can be manipulated by oligarchs. Oligarchs in the US elite rich billionaire class can now manipulate the US political system by bribing politicians who manipulate the economy creating new laws for monetary and fiscal policies benefiting oligarch patrons, such as lower taxes, lower interest rates, less spending on social programs, more defense spending, and by repealing legislation such as the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933.
There is almost no freedom or competition in monopolistic markets with only one seller. Sometimes however monopolies are better than oligopolies because they can be regulated by ethical governments that can keep prices lower than oligarchs would by price-fixing. We are better off having only one electric power company in our neighborhoods to buy electricity from and we would be better off having an analogous monopoly in the health care industry, rather than the oligopoly medical market chaos we have now dominated by oligarchs who bribe politicians to rig the system in their favor. The US is probably the worst off rich nation around Earth in terms of health care costs.
Free markets existing primarily in commodity and financial markets have so many sellers and buyers that no one buyer or seller can buy or sell enough of what is being sold to affect the market price, and there is immediate liquidity, meaning there is enough money floating around that you can get your money in short order when you sell something.
The Federal Reserve System, owned by private banks, does not make money. It creates money out of thin air by adding digits to computerized banking accounts and buys bonds and other securities with the so-called money from banks and the government so banks can loan the “money” out at interest and the government can use it to pay its bills. This has contributed to causing the stock market to become inflated again because corporations have borrowed newly created Fed money at low interest rates to buy back their own stock, causing their stock prices to go up, so their top executives can cash in their stock options at good prices, while enabling some traders to also win money in the financial casino as stock prices rose during the run-up of the last eight years.
Stock market traders are like flocks of blackbirds or wild geese resting or feeding in trees, fields, and lakes. When one of them sees or feels something it thinks is a threat and other birds around it take notice pretty soon the whole flock is flitting around and flying off in search of a safer resting or feeding place. When enough traders see something threatening stocks in general or a particular stock they get out of the market or sell the stock, and pretty soon others follow, and if the threat is real and serious enough most traders get out and the stock market or a particular stock crashes. Those who get out first in this scenario win the most money, or lose less.
In some cases, traders getting out of the stock market or a stock are like Henny Penny, Chicken Little, and Ducky Lucky telling everyone the sky is falling in. Traders get scared and fly off when there really is no threat, in which case the market or stock will drop some but will soon regain what has been lost. On the other hand, if the threat is truly serious large numbers of traders will fly off causing serious losses for investors left holding the bag.
The stock market is a merciless game indeed, based on knowing when to hold em and when to fold em, assuming you could really know when that is. Even the best traders do not really know when to sell or buy stock. They are simply better guessers than others. The best you can hope for is to win more times than you lose, or as Kenny Rogers sang in his song, “The Gambler,” die in your sleep.
According to the Reverend Thomas Bayes, the founder of Bayesian Statistics, and Bayes Theorem, if you flip an unbiased coin an infinite number of times in a vacuum it will come up heads fifty percent of the time and tails fifty percent. Assuming betting in the stock market is somewhat analogous, if you make small bets on particular stocks you can stay in the game longer than you would betting your farm, so to speak on one or a few bets.
Some say you can bias the game in your favor by balancing the amounts of money you have placed in various stocks. If some of your stocks go up, sell enough of the shares you have in them to balance out your portfolio using the proceeds buying more shares of stocks in your portfolio that have not gone up, having already sold the stocks in your portfolio that declined down to your stop losses, prices at which you will lose what you are willing to lose on a stock trade, say five percent of the original purchase price.
This way, you will tend to sell high and buy low over time, the most common strategy in business of any sort if you want to win in a capitalistic economic system, in which you don’t get rich by working hard, but by being a little smarter than others, and lucky, trading in freely competitive financial and commodity markets.
This is basically the outlook of James Simons, a co-founder of Renaissance Technologies in 1982. Simons is a former world-class prize-winning mathematician and former mathematics professor, with degrees in mathematics from MIT and Berkeley, who is now a multi-billionaire after mastering financial markets with mathematical models. Simons is considered by some to be the best money manager around Earth, and Renaissance Technologies is considered by some to be the best hedge fund around Earth.
The other co-founder of Renaissance Technologies is Robert Mercer, the notorious backer of Donald Trump, who apparently gave some ten million dollars to his campaign. For more about this story click here and here.
James Simons apparently gave about ten million dollars to Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Simons’s political contributions did not cause problems among Renaissance Technology’s employee/owners. Mercer’s contributions to Trump however created considerable controversy. One RT employee/owner was fired for publicly criticizing Mercer’s support of Trump. Mercer accused the employee/owner of calling him a white supremacist. As the two sources cited above show, Mercer and his daughter have extremely strong views about how the US should be managed. Among other things Mercer accused the Clintons of being murderers. Mercer was probably a major cause of Trump’s election. Mercer reportedly wins about $135 million per year at Renaissance Technologies.
As the term hedge fund implies, hedge funds hedge their bets, or trades, meaning they sometimes bet against themselves, taking both sides of trades, playing the odds one side will win more than the other loses on a trade, requiring knowledge of how different markets are statistically correlated with each other. In order to win a lot of money doing this you have to make a lot of bets using large sums of money per bet, winning more times than you lose, which is not something most humans could ever dream of doing. Computerized algorithmic robots however can do it in the flick of an eye, while keeping records of the trades for tax purposes.
Renaissance Technologies has about three thousand open trading positions at any time, trades on their computerized books, for three thousand individual specific ideas and deals involving purchases or sales of investment vehicles of all sorts—stocks, bonds, currencies, commodities, options, futures contracts, shorts, longs, swaps, and what have you—in financial markets of all sorts around Spaceship Earth.
Over a period of years Simons attracted some 300 mathematicians and physicists to his company as employees and co-owners. Using mathematical ideas such as Bayesian Statistics and lord knows what else they programmed algorithms into computers to make financial trades in all markets automatically that required using little or no human feeling, thinking, judgment, work, or stress to execute a trade, and they have won a lot of money in the global financial casino letting those algorithmic robots do their jobs. According to Wikipedia, the company now has about sixty-five billion dollars under management, mostly owned by employee-owners of the company. RT is the most amazing and successful so-called business I ever heard of, scary yet exciting for what it might portend. According to Wikipedia, it earned a thirty-five percent compound return on invested capital over many years, an almost unheard of rate of return. Their worst year was apparently a twenty-one percent rate of return, over twice as high as most investors and traders ever get.
Simons euphemistically said in a video I saw that he and his colleagues got rich at RenTec by being a little smarter and luckier than most people. Not only is Simons a good mathematician he apparently is a good organizational leader and communicator. He apparently set up an efficient and effective organizational culture at RenTech that motivated three hundred mathematicians and scientists to communicate and work collaboratively in an egalitarian atmosphere with almost no hierarchy or chain of command, where all or most employees were also owners of the company. Lone wolf investors and traders like me do not stand a chance competing against the collaborative efforts of the mathematical and scientific employee/owners of a company like this.
Renaissance Technologies is not a publicly traded corporation so no one except insiders know what its financial statements look like. It no longer accepts money from outside investors.
Did Renaissance Technologies get filthy rich playing fair and square? They did so far as I know given the way the laws of capitalism are rigged.
On the other hand, is it fair to win money in financial markets simply because you were caused to be smarter and luckier than most people? Messages encoded in the genes of people cause some of them to be smarter mathematically than others, as do messages encoded in family scripts; and messages swirling about in an environment can randomly cause some people to be smarter than others in certain cases.
Nobody is responsible for being smarter than others by virtue of working harder than others, or living more morally, ethically, etc. A propensity to work hard is also caused by messages a person is accidentally or inevitably exposed to in her or his womb and throughout life.
Ludwig Wittgenstein, considered by many to be the greatest philosopher of all time, in his book Prototractatus, said everything that happens happens by accident. Wittgenstein was born rich but gave his inheritance away because he said it contaminated his friendships. For more about Ludwig Wittgenstein, read Business Voyages.
James Simons said he started Renaissance Technologies in the first place in 1982 because he got tired of working math problems for himself and teaching students how to work them as a professor. He said he always liked business to some extent so he wanted to see if he could succeed applying math in business. His father owned a shoe factory.
Simons’s share of winnings at RenTec in a recent year was about $1.5 billion, adding to his net worth of over $7 billion, so for sure he was successful applying math in business. Having apparently gotten tired of merely winning money in the global capitalistic casino, Simons, now more or less retired from RT, entertains himself giving his money away on projects such as finding a cure for autism.
It’s possible for many humans to get rich to some extent in a capitalist economic casino without being smarter or luckier than others making trades in competitive markets. How do you do this? You do it by being a crook, by illegally and unethically making trades in markets using insider information not available to others.
As Harry Truman said about politicians—“There is no way you can get rich in politics if you are not a crook,”—there is no way for investors and traders who are not smarter or luckier than others to get rich in free markets if they are not crooks. Unfortunately there are probably hundreds of thousands of people in various positions in business and financial organizations of various sorts around Earth that from time to time are able to get their hands on insider information in free markets—local, regional, national, or international in scope—that they can use to get relatively rich without necessarily being smart or lucky, unless you call conniving your way into the confidence of fellow crooks being smart.
Should you tell people how much money you have? In general no. Why not? Because if people think you have too little they will look down on you for being a loser; if they think you have too much they will look down on you for being a crook.
Maybe humans en masse should do the same thing Renaissance Technologies did—use mathematicians and physicists to create and program computer algorithms to dictate rational instructions to computer robots that would produce in the most efficient manner and distribute fairly the necessities of life to all races of humans around Earth, and all animals, including especially human household pets such as cats and dogs, for a company called Spaceship Earth Incorporated, which would not declare financial dividends, but which would deliver real goods necessary for life in lieu of dividends to the doorsteps of stockholders of the company. Each stockholder would have been issued one share of stock at birth, by virtue of having been born, according to the Spaceship Earth corporate by-laws, entitling him or her to the necessities of life so long as they live aboard Spaceship Earth, the stock share being non-transferable before or after death.
The process would be analogous to what happens now for children of the elite rich around Earth —each child inheriting stock shares guaranteeing real goods necessary for a good life—except the process in this case would include and protect all children, not merely the children of the elite rich.
I learned something about programming computers using the Fortran IV computer language working on my doctorate, and in the process I invented a system I published in the appendix of my doctoral dissertation using linear algebra and linear programming concepts and techniques that would enable humans to schedule the production and distribution of the necessities of life for all humans in an optimal manner.
For more detail about this idea see my article “Toward the Creation of Spaceship Earth Incorporated,” first published in MWC News (Media with Conscience)
For more detail regarding the original system, see my doctoral dissertation, An Analysis of Rural Manpower Migration Patterns in the South Plains Region of Texas, which was supported by a grant from the Office of Manpower Evaluation and Research, US Department of Labor, published in 1970 in the National Technical Information Service (PB188048). This system was also described and used in Business Voyages.
Creating and programming Spaceship Earth Incorporated would entail changing capitalism from a financial gambling casino fraught with risk and uncertainty creating some big winners but mostly losers and non-winners, in which only smarter, luckier, and crooked humans can get rich, into a system that is fair and equitable for everyone—regardless of accidental or inevitable messages determining their feeling, thinking, abilities, and doing—with little or no risk or uncertainty.
How many humans would vote for that? Probably not many. Many would think it too boring if it could be done and others would not believe it could be done.
One can build the case the real winners are humans aboard Spaceship Earth who are exposed to messages throughout their lives that cause them to experience satisfaction and success day in and day out, which is independent of how much money they have. And, yes, if you look around you can see this is true.
Back to problems in the stock market, if you lose half your savings in the stock market as an investor it will probably take you about six years or so to get back to even with normal yearly rates of return when the market starts going back up again. Stock markets fall fast and rise slowly. Whether it’s better to be a trader or an investor bedevils all people who have anything to do with the stock market, which is not a good game to play for fun. The complexity and chaos of the game, in which seemingly random events can pop up at any time sending markets into tailspins, can drive most people almost insane, especially if they lose a big chunk of their retirement money.
Eric Berne, MD, the founder of transactional analysis, who liked to play poker, considering poker an existential non-psychological game, with no rescuers, persecutors, or victims, requiring exercising and using the Adult ego state to win, who became wealthy selling millions of copies of books, such as his best selling book Games People Play: The Psychology of Human Relationships, asserted there are three types of human scripts in any culture, passed down to humans from their parents and ancestors: winner scripts, loser scripts, and banal scripts. Those exposed to certain types of script messages become winners, others exposed to other script messages become losers, and others exposed to certain other types of script messages are caused to live humdrum banal lives neither winning nor losing. Berne was a master at creating what seemed to be general all-inclusive lists for human possibilities. Is the above seemingly all-inclusive list for types of human script messages all-inclusive?
Assuming Berne’s description of the effects of human scripts is true, this is universal uncaringness and unfairness of an almost unimaginable degree, since no one is responsible for or causes the script messages s/he is exposed to in his or her environments from the get-go, and neither winners nor losers nor non-winners are to blame or praise for their outcomes. If an anthropomorphic god programmed this he or she would have to be seriously unfair, neglectful, and unempathetic.
Regardless, given the capitalistic economic system, you can’t win decent sums of money if you’re not at the gambling table, or a computerized trading screen. While gambling in the stock market and other financial markets is risky, it is far less risky than buying lottery tickets at convenience stores in a gambling process wherein you cannot reduce your odds of losing or increase your odds of winning by increasing your knowledge of causative environmental facts and evidence.
For more on life script messages read my book, Born to Learn: A Transactional Analysis of Human Learning.
Some of my business school colleagues believed in using the computer game method to teach business students about business policy and train them to make strategic decisions. After a semester or two astute students learned in their computer game courses what the game algorithms did, over and over again, being closed systems, and they told their friends and fraternity and sorority members the insider secrets to winning the game, and soon about all most students in the loop did in the courses was play a psychological game of pretending they used their own research and thinking to luckily make decisions to win the game.
The algorithms programmed in these business policy and strategy games were trivial compared to what Renaissance Technologies programmed to win the real world global financial casino game, which was not programmed by anyone, just accidentally happening because of the rational and irrational stock sales and purchases of millions of stock market players around Spaceship Earth. For more data and information on the computer game method of teaching business policy and strategy in business schools, see my article “Evidence the Case Method Works,” in Business Voyages.
I made an A in a doctoral computer simulation course in which we had to program our own simulation model using the Fortran IV computer language, using historical frequencies observed for a real system, and a computerized random number generator to simulate the vicissitudes of the real world, so I know something about computer simulation models.
Employing mathematicians and physicists, or “quants”, running a hedge fund will increase your chances of winning, but it is no guarantee of success in real world financial markets. Take a look at what happened in 1998 to such a company ironically named Long-Term Management Capital to substantiate this assertion. LTMC got wiped out financially letting their computer robots make high-frequency algorithmic trades, almost causing the collapse of the entire US financial system before Wall Street bailed them out.
It seems to me, not being an insider of anything, there are no fully safe places to put money these days, no way to avoid risks and possible regrets. Some places are safer than others of course, but unfortunately the safer they are and the less risk they entail the lower the possible return on investment.
A major reason the rich get richer is that they can afford to place larger bets on risky trades since their billions of wealth enables them to withstand large losses without their lifestyles being affected. Just a few large bets on risky investments that hit paydirt can cause a billionaire to win millions or billions of additional dollars.
Skittish traders getting out of markets not knowing what is going on can cause market ups and downs, causing small gains and losses, but not causing disasters for most traders and investors; but a fifty percent capital loss in a portfolio that takes six years to recover is a serious thing for a middle or lower income trader or investor. So the elite rich gamble more in business and they win more…because they can afford to lose more, and….
No amount of money won is enough for many traders and investors. They are addicted to the excitement risk produces. They have to keep on making bigger and bigger trades taking risks as an antidote for depression. See “Martin Groder’s People Map,” in Business Voyages, formulated by Martin Groder, MD, a psychiatrist, a transactional analysis mentor of mine, for more detail about the process. Groder said the root cause of depression among pathological entrepreneurs was abandoning their parents in childhood after deciding they could not get anything good from parents.
The capitalistic financial gambling system around Spaceship Earth is merciless and pernicious. I have been reading and hearing lately that about eight human beings around Earth now own as much wealth as about three billion humans, the poorest humans aboard Spaceship Earth. If so, this is pathetic and obscene, the outcome of an economic system gone mad, facilitated and exacerbated by the construction in the last sixty or so years of increasingly faster and more powerful computers, more and more large linked computerized data bases, and increasingly sophisticated and effective computer programs.
Not only are the rich getting richer; it appears they are getting richer at an exponential rate, meaning before long they will own about everything.
If you are a Warren Buffet-type investor, buying and holding no matter what, being willing to lose half your capital at times, if you own dividend stocks I suppose you do make some dividends in a relatively safe fashion. Hopefully your dividends over time will exceed your capital losses due to market crashes, which have happened about every seven years in recent decades. Whether computer technology can stop these historical frequencies remains to be seen.
Almost nobody “makes” money at anything, for that matter, except the Federal Reserve and other central banks around Earth creating money out of thin air by adding digits to bank accounts, or commercial banks loaning money to customers by adding digits to customers’ bank accounts, or possibly computer programmers programming bitcoins, the recently invented money made from encrypted digits not requiring bank deposits, money being kept in electronic “wallets” owned by people and stored on the Internet, a possible way sooner or later to get rid of crooked too-big-to-fail banks.
You can win money and make wages, salaries, and profits, but you cannot make money.
On the other hand, the NIRP, or negative interest rate, policies of some central banks in some countries now enable you to receive a dividend by borrowing money. Yes, in some rare cases, in Germany and Japan, banks will pay you to borrow money from them. Why? Because their countries are in such sorry shape making and selling real goods that central bankers will do anything trying to increase economic growth by causing you to spend money. Negative interest rate policies, however, can also cause you to lose money, since instead of paying you interest on your savings account they charge you for the privilege of putting your money in their bank, which means they take a little bit out of your account from time to time, which would also theoretically motivate people not to keep their money in a bank but spend it to foster economic growth by causing people to buy things so producers can sell the real goods they make.
Some people believe the Fed is powerful enough to prevent another stock market crash by keeping interest rates low and creating digital money, now eight years after the last crash. We shall see about that.
The New Capitalistic Economic System
According to Paul Craig Roberts, PhD in economics, a US Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy under Ronald Reagan, a former editor of the Wall Street Journal, and now a prolific author and activist at click here and here, the Federal Reserve System is not only buying US treasury securities; it is buying financial securities of all sorts, stocks, bonds, futures contracts for commodities, and other derivatives. Roberts says the Fed has created a “trading desk” to buy and sell in various markets; and, since the Fed can create all the money it wants, it can buy and sell enough shares to affect market prices. If so there are almost no free markets anymore in which individual buyers and sellers cannot affect the market price, especially considering central banks in other countries do pretty much the same things the US Federal Reserve system does.
Market manipulation has historically been considered unethical and illegal for individual investors, traders, and speculators. Unfortunately, it’s now okay if central bankers do it.
This corroborates David Stockman’s great deformation idea that central banks have created so much digital money and interfered in global markets to such a degree that market prices are basically rigged and free uncontrolled price discovery for shares, contracts, etc. no longer exists. If so, free enterprise capitalism has been destroyed not by socialists and Marxists but by central bankers manipulating markets in such a way as to enrich bankers, corporations, and the hereditary rich, at the expense of the people doing the work necessary to produce goods and services.
The US Federal Reserve System intervention in the free enterprise capitalistic system began in earnest after the Crash of 2008-09. By no means do I pretend to understand this process in full, considering the total amount of new digital money doled out to large and small banks and others, including GM and AIG, and how much of it has been paid back. According to this source at Daily Kos at click here by 2013 the total doled out was about twenty-nine trillion dollars, about seventy percent doled out by the Federal Reserve System, the rest doled out by the US Treasury. How much is still owed and how much of that will be paid back probably nobody knows. I have read and heard recently that the Federal Reserve now has about 2.7 trillion dollars worth of securities on its “balance sheet”, US treasury securities, mortgages, and other securities, including, assuming Roberts is correct, common stock bought in the stock market.
I keep hearing and reading people referring to the Fed’s balance sheet, as if it really has such a thing as a balance sheet, at least as most people think of a balance sheet, assets minus liabilities equals net worth. I also keep hearing and reading the Fed should be audited. Apparently the Fed does not have to be audited since private banks own it. Regardless, most likely the Fed now owns, as assets I suppose, about 2.7 trillion dollars worth of securities, some of which is probably not worth the paper it’s printed on.
I also keep hearing people saying the Fed prints money. Wrong. All the Fed has to do to create money out of thin air is punch digits into computer screens and call the resulting numbers recorded in accounts money. When the Fed needs paper money to be dispensed by banks they tell the US Treasury to print it. Printed paper money is a minuscule fraction of the digital money created out of thin air by the Fed and by commercial banks when they make loans.
Middle and working class US taxpayers were given a $152 billion pittance in tax rebates under the Economic Stimulus Act of 2008 to help them with their mortgage payments after the last crash hit.
The US Congress and Bill Clinton passing and signing into law the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999 that got rid of regulations provided by Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 increased the financial risks of we the people. The Gramm-Leach-Bliley act was a time bomb that crippled the US economic system when it exploded in 2008, causing grievous losses for millions of people. This abominable act gave large Wall Street banks permission to gamble in the global financial casino using leveraged bets like hedge funds, except, unlike real hedge funds, the US government would have to bail them out if they lost the money they were gambling with, or at least bail out most of them, since if they failed they would cause the collapse of the entire money and banking system of the US—which is what happened in 2008 when their leveraged bets on derivatives and other risky investment vehicles such as sub-prime mortgages blew up. Unlike real hedge funds, institutional investors, and individual traders and investors, these too-big-to-fail banks run by crooks had to be indemnified by we the people of the US, since we are ultimately responsible for funding our government, a government supposedly created by and for us, the people of the US, because of what is called moral hazard, which in this case also included moral turpitude and illegality.
Moral hazard in this case means the consequences of not rescuing crooks, incompetents, and derelicts in too-big-too-fail banks are so much more devastating than rescuing them that you have to hold your nose and rescue them anyway, however much it stinks. Instead of sending the crooks to jail you have to give them money so they can stay in business to keep the economy from collapsing, a disgusting fate indeed.
And nothing has changed to this day, despite the Dodd-Frank financial law enacted under Obama. We the people still have the same moral hazard caused by miscreant banks, and the whole thing could blow up again at any time.
Bill and Hillary Clinton and no doubt many of the US congress people who adopted and signed the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act have been handsomely rewarded with campaign contributions and speaking fees by too-big-to-fail banks for their complicity in the Glass-Steagall/Gramm-Leach-Bliley coup, conspiracy, scheme, or plot of 1999.
It has become fashionable lately for people to label coups, conspiracies, schemes, or plots in Washington, DC as fake news concocted and fed on by crackpots. Nothing could be further from the truth. About everything that happens in the legislative or executive branches of the US government in Washington, DC is a coup, conspiracy, scheme, or plot of one group against another group to enhance the vested interests of the plotters and schemers. It’s not exactly a zero-sum game, wherein the gains of gainers are exactly offset by the losses of losers, but the game is almost never win-win, and most of what goes on is behind-the-scenes beggar-thy-neighbor conspiring, scheming, and plotting by some group, often led by lobbyists paid by the elite rich, to make a group better off by making another group worse off. Unfortunately, in some cases, as in the Glass-Steagall/Gramm-Leach-Bliley coup, conspiracy, scheme, and plot of 1999, the losing group is we the people of the US.
Doing a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis for a corporate stock or an investment vehicle of any sort in which you might invest money is psychologically different from doing a SWOT analysis for a grade in a business policy and strategy course. Most people are now responsible for making stressful decisions about retirement money beyond Social Security, and most cannot escape the problems, uncertainties, and risks of the capitalistic financial casino. More and more retirees now have 401k retirement plans they have to manage rather than defined benefit plans managed by professionals.
I recently posted and published an article in the Effective Learning Report titled “The Smartest Guy in the Room,” about the ascendancy of Donald Trump, our cartoon character-like president, who wants to eviscerate the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Education, in which I pointed out he was not considered the smartest guy in the room when he was in college; but if he is smart enough to get elected president of the US he aint stupid.
Hillary spent one billion dollars of establishment money trying to buy enough votes to get elected president of the US in November 2016; Trump only had to spend forty-five million dollars of his own money to buy the presidency of the US for himself.
I read a book once, the title or author of which I cannot remember, in which the writer said the smartest undergraduate students on most college campuses at the time were economics and physics majors. That was over fifty years ago. Whether anyone would say the same thing now is debatable, and whether it was true then is debatable, but please believe I am not making up fake news about reading this statement in this book.
Our Donald Duck-like president, who impulsively squawks simplistic hysterical pejorative tweets to his followers at any time in lieu of policy statements based on facts and reason released in sensible press conferences, who was voted into office in 2016 by one of the least intellectual cohorts of the US population, less than twenty-five percent of eligible US voters, thanks to the insane provisions of the US Electoral College, was an economics major in undergraduate school at the University of Pennsylvania.
The Donald did a decent job delivering his speech last night to Congress, February 28, 2017, no doubt written by others, a fantasy telling his audience how great America will soon be under his direction. It looked like he had the speech memorized, names and all, and used no notes. Most likely he was reading from a teleprompter. How do they do that? He came across like what he is, a reality show hack actor, playing a reincarnated Teddy Roosevelt, talking softly but carrying a big stick. He said we are a big powerful aggressive nation and from now on we are not going to take any shit off anybody in any nation. If you were born here legally life is going to be beautiful for you. If not you’re on your own.
The man may have a small vocabulary but he sure knows how to hit emotional buttons, telling millions of people what they want to hear. He has superb con artist skills.
He said he is going to give the US military the biggest spending increase in history and he is going to upgrade the infrastructure of the US as he gives large corporations and the elite rich a “big” tax cut, and he will also cut taxes for the middle and working classes, as he makes other countries lower their tariffs against US goods; and, yes, he is gonna build that wall between the US and Mexico, and it will all be just beautiful.
Doing what he said he will do will cause a horrific increase in the US budget deficit. It will increase the total US debt at horrific Reagan and Bush II rates. It very likely will destroy any remaining sanity in the US budgetary process, possibly driving the US government into bankruptcy with debt defaults and repudiations.
The Donald uttered not a word about global warming and what the US should do to prevent a looming environmental disaster. He said the US will become an aggressive hyper-militarized nation concerned about its own interests globally, and other nations had better take notice; but he said the US as usual wants peace in the world, being the good guy it has always been.
The speech was unrealistic and hypocritical, a fatuous fairy tale told to adults. Repub congress people sat there in their seats in that cavernous chamber with smirks on their faces like obedient reality show robots. They loudly clapped no matter what their leader the Donald said, right on cue. Demos rarely clapped. The clapping was lighter when the Donald said he would get rid of Obamacare.
Sad to say, the speech was probably effective, for Repubs, furthering their fascist agenda in today’s disingenuous infantalized zombie culture.
Another US president who was an economics major in college was John F. Kennedy, who had an undergraduate degree in economics from Harvard. As I recall, Kennedy’s father only had to chip in about two million dollars of family money to buy the election for him near the end of the US presidential campaign in 1958, when I was studying economics as an undergraduate. Kennedy was the youngest president up to his time and one of the most articulate and eloquent, in contrast to Trump, who is one of the oldest and possibly the least articulate and eloquent of all US presidents.
Kennedy was voted into the US presidency by one of the most intellectual cohorts of the US population. He sincerely wanted peace around Spaceship Earth, even setting up a Peace Corps to help real people in other countries construct better lives for themselves. He refused to invade Cuba to get rid of communism at the US’s doorstep. He wanted to get out of Vietnam as soon as possible. He wanted to increase the taxes of the elite rich. He got assassinated, in an assassination somehow executed by people in the US deep state because he would have harmed their vested interests.
There are some smart and concerned people, graduates of various alma maters who majored in various academic disciplines with many years of practical real world experience, on Wall Street and elsewhere, writing and talking today in book, article, and video form on the Internet on contemporary economics, political economy, economic history, international economics, international politics, money and banking, global monetary policy, global economic development, global fairness and justice, global warming, global peace, and the like.
Here is a list of such writers. Punch their names one by one into Google and read some of their results: Michael Hudson, Richard Wolff, Max Keiser, Robert Reich, Thomas Piketty, Bill Moyers, David Stockman, Noam Chomsky, Henry Giroux, Chris Hedges, Paul Craig Roberts, Paul Krugman, Jim Rogers, William John Cox, Mike Whitney, Ellen Brown, Bev Conover, Nomi Prins, Harry Dent, Jim Rickards, Bill Bonner, Doug Casey, Joseph Stiglitz, John Whitehead, Naomi Klein, Mark Tabor, James Dale Robertson, John Chuckman, James Howard Kunstler, and Luciana Bohne.
Economics as an academic discipline and profession has fallen into disrepute in recent decades, having been accused of being too mathematical, theoretical, and abstract, divorced from the real world, among other things. It has been criticized because academically trained economists in corporations were hired to rationalize stories and create fake news supporting the vested interests of their corporate bosses, rather than paint true pictures of states of affairs around Earth.
And all too often professor economists in universities are evaluated for promotions, tenure, and salary raises on how many articles they can get published in esoteric Type I professional journals controlled by senior academics who generally require them to learn, conform to, and write about standard doctrines, dogmas, and models using research and statistical procedures designed to enhance the reputations of the senior academics who got to be senior academics by publishing in the first place what they now require in Type I journals.
Not so for these writers. Not all of them are economists per se, however much they write about economic issues using original and critical ideas and research methods. Their common denominator is that they are looking at the real world as clearly as they can to see what is really going on so as to paint accurate pictures of states of affairs so as to recommend policies and actions that might result in improvements for people in general, however low that probability is. Most of them are not professors and those that are probably already have tenure.
Don’t get me wrong: I am not insinuating tenure in colleges and universities should be abolished. To the contrary, I an convinced if it weren’t for tenure original, critical, and creative thinking, teaching, writing, and publishing in colleges and universities might become extinct. Not much of it happens now, but more of it happens after professors get tenure, since they don’t have to worry after getting tenure about getting fired for not conforming to the petty wishes of colleagues, senior academics on journal editorial boards, and their departmental administrators, most of whom are clerks and gophers for their bosses up the university chain of command.
Contrary to what a lot of people think, getting to be a full professor with tenure is not easy for most people. When I started working on my doctorate, which was absolutely required if you wanted to be a real professor, they told us in the program that nationwide only about fifty percent of people who started doctorates ever got one. Some could not pass the coursework, others could not pass the comprehensive exams, others could not finish their dissertations. Of those who got doctorates, probably fifty percent never got to be full professors. Many did not make it because they could not do research, write, and publish; but many did not make it simply because they could not adapt and flex to political wishes and fantasies among humans in their departments, schools, and universities.
The general rule in organizations is “It’s my way or the highway” from the perspective of the parent, boss, department chairperson, or superior—whatever the person in charge of you and your peers in the organization is called. Not only do you have to obey your superior and do what he or she says doing his or her bidding regarding daily tasks and chores but you have to believe or say or imply you believe and accept the dogmas, doctrines, rituals, pastimes, ego states, scripts, and the like your superior wants you to believe and accept.
Nobody is really free in an organization. Some organizations allow members more freedom than others, but almost all members have to obey using their Adapted Child ego states the Critical Parent rules and script messages of superiors in organizations. Otherwise, they will be fired, sluiced out, punished, or marginalized in the organization.
You can escape this fate to some extent when you grow up by owning your own business or getting tenure in a college or university. You can still get fired after getting tenure in a college or university “for cause”, for being incompetent as a teacher or researcher, or for engaging in moral turpitude, but you cannot get fired after getting tenure for merely not conforming to the ego states, scripts, transactional patterns, prejudices, and cultural beliefs of superiors and others, however much you might get marginalized.
According to transactional analysis doctrine there are about fourteen script messages called “injunctions” that are often passed down psychologically and non-verbally in family and organizational scripts from the Adapted Child ego states of parents and other superiors to the Adapted Child ego states of children, students, members, and subordinates. They include Don’t Feel; Don’t Feel What You Feel, Feel what I want you to feel; Don’t Think; Don’t think about x, y, or z, forbidden subjects; Don’t Belong; Don’t Be Close; Don’t Be Sexual; Don’t Be The Sex You Are; Don’t Be Powerful; Don’t Succeed; Don’t Grow Up; Don’t Make It.
It’s not easy to figure out what your script injunctions are. Probably no human introjected all fourteen of them; probably all humans introject at least one or two of them. Since script injunctions were automatically introjected and stored psychologically most people have no idea they have them or how they are sabotaging them or getting in their way in their lives.
According to Eric Berne, only trivial decisions are made by humans using facts, data, and logic in the here and now; most human decisions are made sub-consciously using script-based psychological processes. Rather than reason to the best alternative in the here and now using facts, data, and logic, humans reason to the first alternative that will enable them to act out a sub-conscious script-based desire or fantasy.
Which in why computerized AI robots can beat the socks off humans making major economic decisions around Spaceship Earth.
As a transactional analyst certified in education and organizations, I had formal training and study in script analysis, with others and with myself, but I do not have a clinical certification legalizing me to professionally do psychotherapy with individuals. I think I have by now about figured myself out using TA. Since I am not a licensed psychotherapist I have not professionally attempted to help others figure out what their personal script injunctions are. I taught my students what script injunctions in general are and what they can cause, in my classes and in my books, but I did not work with them personally to figure out what their script injunctions were specifically. If they wanted to do this they would have to hire their own shrinks.
It seems to me all humans have a right to grow up “naturally”, that is gradually become what they are like everybody else exposed to the same possibilities, probabilities and processes in their environments, however weird the end result might turn out to be. There are very few if any ethical educational processes outside professional psychotherapy services that teach or purport to help people learn about their specific family script messages, especially their script injunctions. Ethical psychotherapists maintain strict confidentiality about what they learn about the secrets or script injunctions of their clients, and most people who know what their script injunctions are keep them secret, which is their right.
Most people do not get psychotherapeutic treatment if they are reasonably successful living their “natural” lives. But unfortunately many humans are exposed to so many negative script and cultural messages, and economic, sexual, and social problems, that they have no rational choice but to seek psychotherapeutic treatment, if they can afford it, and if it is available.
On the other hand, a small percentage of humans who are reasonably successful purchase psychotherapeutic treatment simply to feel better or to increase their success. Sigmund Freud, the grandaddy of all shrinks, said normal people experience anxiety most of the time. How could any human not experience anxiety some of the time considering the nature of economic, environmental, political, military, and social life aboard Spaceship Earth today? Buying some psychotherapy is probably a better bet than buying pain pills, alcohol, and other drugs to alleviate anxiety, as well as boredom and frustration.
Assuming you are a “normal” human being, being what Martin Groder identified as a normal person on his people map in Business Voyages, you would grow up adopting the scripts of your parents and the culture of your origin. You would stay in your culture of origin living in your hometown doing for a living when you grew up pretty much what your parents did for a living. You would marry a spouse of the opposite sex from the same culture. You would produce about the same number of children as your parents, and you would belong to the same church, clubs, and so forth.
Groder said it takes less energy to be a normal person than it does to be anything else. He said energy levels in people are genetic and are the hardest features to change about people, so he tried to help his clients change their positions on his people map to match their energy levels.
There aren’t that many normal people left. Times have changed. Most likely you won’t be able to find the same type job or vocation as your parents in your home town because those jobs and vocations no longer exist in your home town. Finding suitable spouses, jobs, lifestyles and so forth in recent decades has become harder leading to more divorces and more job and career changes. Many people cannot afford to get married anymore. So they just “live together.” Finding a suitable lifestyle given your sexual orientation has become easier in some ways but more difficult in others. Some cisgenders get seriously bent out of shape these days about transgenders, who are caused to be what they are just like cisgenders are, using their public restrooms. Finding good jobs and solving economic, social, and sexual problems caused by income and gender inequality are probably more severe for young people starting out now than they were forty years ago. Many of them in effect cannot grow up regardless of their script injunctions. They live with their parents into their thirties or longer because they cannot find jobs paying livable wages and salaries.
This state of affairs in the US was largely caused by the machinations of the capitalistic economic system in the last sixty or so years, such as the outsourcing of blue collar manufacturing jobs to low-wage countries causing wage competition exposing workers in rich countries to the competition of poor workers in poor countries, driving wages and salaries in rich countries down toward the level of poor countries—and the elite rich of rich countries rigging the economies of rich countries in their favor by turning the global economy into a financial gambling casino—and by bribing politicians to change the tax, economic, and environmental laws in their favor.
The probability of becoming a top winner aboard Spaceship Earth today is infinitesimally small, considering what causes such winners—accidents of birth determining where, when, and to whom one is born, with a given energy level, and considering accidental or inevitable exposure to family script messages, cultural messages, religious messages, formal educational experiences, and random life experiences—in myriad combinations. A top winner’s step-by-step business voyage traversing through the possibilities and probabilities determining winning throughout life is merely one unique cause-effect chain among billions of unique cause-effect chains determining the business voyage of every human aboard Spaceship Earth. And all cause-effect chains accidentally or inevitably happen, since most likely free will does not exist. Humans do what they have to do given the scripts and decision processes embedded in their brains and the external influences and circumstances they are exposed to at every step along the way.
Read Business Voyages: Mental Maps, Scripts, Schemata, and Tools for Discovering and Co-Constructing Your Own Business Worlds and Born to Learn: A Transactional Analysis of Human Learning for more detail about this process.
Should you read Business Voyages because I accidentally or inevitably told you to do it in the immediately above paragraph, I will have accidentally or inevitably caused your business voyage to be somewhat different from what it otherwise would have been, since you were accidentally or inevitably caused to read this far down in this article.
In Defense of the Elite Rich
In the interests of full disclosure, honesty, and fairness, the machinations of greedy capitalists are not the sole cause of the miseries of the poor and the middle class of all countries around Spaceship Earth. One of the precepts of this story is that all causes have causes in an infinite regressive cause-effect chain. Greedy capitalists sending the jobs of working and middle class people to low wage countries, selling them out, sending them down the river, so to speak, and bribing greedy politicians to lower their taxes and change the laws to make it easier for them to get even richer, are basically just examples of what all humans do—doing what they have to do given their script messages, religious beliefs, cultural beliefs, and random life experiences. The universal cop-out—”You would have done the same thing”—is just as valid in the case of the elite rich as it is in the case of anyone.
What caused the elite rich to do what they did?
The primary cause, of course, is human history aboard Spaceship Earth. Humans have always had to do nasty things to survive, such as sometimes kill their competitors in wars to get food supplies and other resources, kill animals to eat, conquer and control terrain to get vegetation to eat, and so on. The “New World” invasion, migration, and voyage I started out with in this story is an example of this dog-eat-dog process.
Most of the Old Worlders migrating to the New World, and their descendants, starting in the 1700s, got better off economically up until about 1970, especially in the US, at which time economic windfalls and advantages caused by the taking of a large pristine territory from stone age natives, and winning World War II in the 1940s, began to play out. This territory in 1492 when it was accidentally or inevitably discovered was ripe for development, having a good climate and laden with resources of all sorts, lush forests, fertile land, iron ore, coal, oil, and what have you, easy to steal from natives who had lived off the land in ecological harmony for many hundreds of years; but by 1970, after wave after wave of Old World immigrants had landed in the New World, opportunities for economic advancement in North, Central, and South America were not necessarily better than they were in other rich countries around Spaceship Earth.
Since most industrialized nations other than the US got their manufacturing facilities almost destroyed by bombs in World War II, US manufacturing corporations could make goods, sell them, and export them with windfall profits after WWII stopped—after paying their workers wages high enough to enable US blue collar workers to live middle class lifestyles, with two cars in the garage, with money to send their kids to college, with good defined benefits retirement plans, and so forth.
But not so after 1970 or so, since by then bombed-out industrialized countries had risen from their ashes, and lesser-developed nations industrialized, building new modern manufacturing facilities better than the US had that were not bombed out in WWII; and workers in those countries were just as smart or smarter than those in the US. Therefore, the US was now at a competitive disadvantage selling steel, tractors, automobiles, and other types of manufactured goods in global markets, largely because wage costs in those industries were much higher than wage costs in countries with surplus populations that had never had good wages.
It slowly dawned on CEOs and their cronies running large US manufacturing corporations in the US after 1970 or so that they could increase their profits by moving their manufacturing facilities to other countries to exploit their cheap labor, caused by their surplus populations, so they did it.
Why not? After all, aren’t you supposed to maximize profit? Outsourcing, dammit, would do that. To hell with the workers. They can take care of themselves like Americans always have.
Corporate CEOs and the elite rich of the US in this case were nothing but Americans, doing what Americans had always done, take care of themselves, doing what they had been taught, not only in business schools, but in their Old World cultures, and in their religions, for centuries.
And that’s the problem today. Curing economic problems is not merely a problem of changing the capitalistic economic system; it’s a problem of changing the whole group imago of large populations, changing their religious and cultural beliefs as well as economic and political beliefs, and, most difficult of all, reducing their populations, through attrition, not wars, famines, plagues, and the like.
A group imago is a general view and conception about how to manage something, in this case Spaceship Earth itself.
Can it be done in time? Who knows?
There is, by the way, an academic discipline, known as biological or structural determinism, backed by scientific facts and reasoning, which I cited references for and discussed in Business Voyages, that adheres to a basic dogma that humans are internally structured closed systems and will not change their fundamental behaviors in the absence of serious perturbations in their environments forcing them to change.
Hopefully the structural determinists are wrong. Hopefully humans will synergistically learn to change in such a way as to stave off eventual extinction caused by wars, famines, plagues, or environmental destruction caused by global warming.
Synergistic learning, which hopefully is going on now around Spaceship Earth, causes anti-entropic changes in whole systems not predictable by observing the behavior of sub-systems.
If half the gruesome stories one can read and hear about global warming and its consequences are true, humans aboard Spaceship Earth had better get busy inventing and programming a better story that will do something about global warming. According to some sources and stories, humans only have about nine years to go before the Doomsday Clock strikes midnight.
This story is already too long. Thank you for sticking with it this far. I shall have more to say about these issues in future Stories about Fact, Fiction, Good, and Evil in the Effective Learning Report.
Feel free to forward, share, email, print, publish, or otherwise disseminate this article, in whole or in part, any way you see fit.
Richard John Stapleton is an emeritus professor of entrepreneurship, organizational behavior, ethics, and business policy at Georgia Southern University, who writes on business and politics at Effective Learning Company.