THE HUMAN CONDITION
By Richard John Stapleton, Editor & Publisher
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 six billion people aboard Spaceship Earth and probably one 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 one 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 two hundred 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, driving up the prices of 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 twenty-five 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.
This past year for the first time in my teaching career I was labeled a liberal by a colleague who tells his students he is a conservative and proud of it. Although I do not think this colleague meant serious harm, his move was a form of attack in the overall context in which the transaction occurred. While the episode was disconcerting, what is more disturbing is to think that more and more people are being subjected to such moves in the US as a whole. I am no more a liberal than the colleague is a fascist, although it seems to me some so-called conservatives advocate behaviors that are fascist in nature. In addition to conservative vs. liberal, the political language game is also about fascism vs. democracy, rational vs. irrational, knowledgeable vs. dogmatic, fair vs. unfair, freedom vs. repression, smart vs. dumb, hopeful vs. fatalistic, courageous vs. cowardly, weak vs. strong, independent vs. dependent and other linguistic bifurcations. There are all sorts of labels one can put on people to put them down. Given the way our culture in the US has evolved in the last twenty-five years, any citizen can be attacked in a war of words on any day. A young chancellor of the University System of Georgia with a PhD in classical literature upon resigning his post a few years ago said Georgia was experiencing “a rising tide of anti-intellectualism.” Hopefully right, not might, shall win in the long run.
SOURCE: A Passage from Business Voyages, by Richard John Stapleton, written in 2004, first published in 2008, pages 580-583
September 29, 2017
September has not been a good month in my opinion. Bad things are coming to a head. Our clownish seventy-year-old reality show billionaire president who inherited his money who never worked a day in his life at a real job for a real boss has been playing a potentially lethal psychological NIGYSOB Game with an infantilized thirty-three-year-old tryant in North Korea who inherited a whole nation who also never worked at a real job in his life for a boss. The name of the Game, well known in transactional analysis circles, is Now I’ve Got You, You S.O.B. The purpose of the Game is to vent your feelings of anger and frustration. The payoff, if you win, is feeling superior and one-up.
It’s one thing for people to play this Game backed up with the usual means of power and punishment in organizations such as those in which most of us live and survive—verbal insults and threats, paddles, fisticuffs, the power to give or not give someone a pay raise, the power to fire someone, the power to sue someone in court, the power to shoot someone with a gun, the power to put someone in jail.
Unfortunately, Trump and his North Korean dictator Game adversary, whom Trump calls the Rocket Man, who calls Trump the Dotard, are backed up with armies, navies, air forces, and nuclear bombs that could destroy humanity if their Game escalates to its highest degree.
According to President Jimmy Carter quoted in an article in the Intrepid Report, “Trump fails to understand North Korea existential fears,” by Wayne Madsen, this Game with North Korea could be terminated if the US would promise with a new treaty they would not harm North Korea so long as North Korea does not harm any other nation.
Seems to me if this is right the US would have to be insane not to sign such a treaty. But, unfortunately neither Jimmy Carter nor I is now president of the US. Why has this insanity and absurdity with North Korea happened? Has our military-industrial-intelligence-corporate complex agitated for it to justify military spending in the US budget to enrich and empower their vested interests even more? Has Trump done it just to play psychological Games attempting to satisfy his gargantuan and apparently insatiable ego needs? Has he done it to distract attention from problems and concerns such as hurricane relief, football players kneeling when the national anthem is played to protest against racism, his personal problems with his congressional investigation, his lawsuits, the US military involvement in the Middle East, the federal budget deficit, rising income inequality and dissatisfaction, his business dealings, and any of the thousands of details such gestalts entail?
SOURCE: “Trump fails to understand North Korea existential fears,” by Wayne Madsen, published in the Intrepid Report
Here is a brave analysis with sound conclusions, but what is the probability it could ever happen?
SOURCE: “Leftists and rightists agree: abolish the CIA,” by Roger Copple, published in the Intrepid Report.
Here is a video posted on my Facebook page titled “Have You Ever Thought America Has Become One Big Jerry Springer Show,” created by So That’s the Buzz.
No, I had not thought that exactly but I have thought similar things. Come to think of it though, calling America a Jerry Springer Show is a pretty good analogy. Facebook itself is somewhat of a Jerry Springer Show in which all sorts of people from any walk of life can speak their minds, however deranged and disordered they might be. Is it educational to expose your mind to this diversity of nonsense?
Who would have ever thought the US would ever have a president like Donald Trump—a spoiled rich kid, with at least six bankruptcies and thirteen or more business failures to his credit, five children by three different wives, a supporter of neo-Nazis, a racist, a misogynist, a bully, a tweeter who may never have read a whole book who probably never wrote and published anything by himself requiring more than a few paragraphs, a high-functioning narcissistic who requires constant approval, voted into office primarily by white Christians, who still approve of his lifestyle and behavior, which is contrary to what their bible says is right? While there were rumors on Facebook he snorted some cocaine during his campaign, according to Facebook posts, he does not smoke tobacco or drink alcohol, two good things some people might say about him. And so far on Facebook I have seen only one rumor about his having had some sort of sexual fling with one of his employees in the White House.
Regardless, it does seem Trump has turned the White House into a Jerry Springer Show of sorts with on-stage characters expressing mundane off-the-wall ideas. His family members, cronies, and appointees sometimes look like characters in a TV soap opera.
SOURCE: “Have You Ever Thought America Has Become One Big Jerry Springer Show,” a video created by So That’s the Buzz, posted on Facebook.
Violence is a waste of time and energy
Rather than rationally deal with the root causes of their problems, fears, and frustrations, many humans vilify, demonize, scapegoat, and tear the tissue of enemies.
What Earth needs now is unlearning and new learning. Humans need to learn how to get their needs met without playing Games and resorting to violence, as in wars and acts of terrorism such as occurred last week on the campus at the University of Virginia.
Violence rarely solves anything. It just kicks the can further down the road, where the problem rears its ugly head again.
As Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King demonstrated, non-violent action can produce real change.
Born to Learn: A Transactional Analysis of Human Learning is full of ideas for producing peaceable change.
September 27, 2017
Here’s how our CEO in Chief Trump deals with money. Spend it like there is no tomorrow, and cut taxes. “Business” might boom a bit in the short run because of this stimulus if he can make it happen, but the US financial house of cards will become more and more flimsy, as corporations and the elite rich plunder anything they can get their hands on. Instead of a $19 trillion federal debt, we will soon have a $38 trillion federal debt, if the Trumpster gets what he says he wants for a US budget.
SOURCE: “Trump and the Great Debt Betrayal,” by Bill Bonner, published in the Daily Reckoning blog.
It’s worse than I ever thought it would be. I wonder how many of his voters have any conception of what Trump is really doing in the White House? Most of them probably think all he does is threaten leaders in foreign countries and bluster about football players not standing up for the national anthem, or saying white supremacists and neo-Nazis are good people, or crowing about how many people show up when he deigns to observe hurricane disaster results.
This article would open their eyes if they were to read it.
SOURCE: “The White House as Donald Trump’s New Casino,” by Nomi Prins, published in The Daily Reckoning.
As the rich continue to get richer….
SOURCE: “The growing danger of dynastic wealth,” by Robert Reich, published in the Intrepid Report
September 27, 2017
Say it aint so Joe….
SOURCE: “I Just Know I’ll be Rich Someday,” John Giarratana, published in CounterPunch
Many sorries for these people. At least Trump finally waived the Jones Act and real help can be provided by the US.
SOURCE: “’This Bankrupt Island’: Debt and Disaster in Puerto Rico,” by Maria Del Pilar Blanco, published in CounterPunch
Say it aint so Joe.
SOURCE: “The Preacher and Vietnam: When Billy Graham Urged Nixon to Kill One Million People,” by Jeffrey St. Clair and Alexander Cockburn, published in CounterPunch.
Here’s another great article by John Whitehead, a constitutional lawyer. In a free society patriotism is not mandatory. Going down on one knee when the national anthem is being played is legal under the constitution of the US. This is a form of non-verbal speech guaranteed by the constitution. People arguing football players do not have a right to do this are wrong. The real problem here is that most people have been brainwashed into believing all people have to be obedient to all symbols of national authority, believing they are deprived of their constitutional rights when they are paid to do a job by someone else, becoming de facto slaves, especially when working for the military, or, apparently, when they are paid to play football. This whole hullabaloo is a symptom of the increasing militarization of the US, implying more and more people have been brainwashed into believing they have to obey all authoritarian commands and messages, regardless of their guaranteed constitutional rights.
SOURCE: “Patriots and Protesters Should Take a Knee for the Constitution,” by John W. Whitehead, published in CounterPunch.
This is about a fellow named Roger Goodale, who, according to a Facebook post, is the commissioner of the National Football League, a so-called non-profit organization, who was paid a salary of $44.2 million dollars in 2012. This does seem to be a bit much for a salary for a non-profit organization. Think there might be just a little something wrong here?
SOURCE: Facebook post by Edward Devine, September 7, 2016.
Why did Hatch and McConnell get so much more than the others?
Remember the 13 alt-right senators who tried to take away America’s healthcare behind closed doors? This is how much money they accepted from insurance companies and Big Pharma.
SOURCE: Facebook post by Milan Pokorny, September 22.
There are Large Parts of America Being Left Behind…including us. “It is fair to wonder whether a recovery that excludes tens of millions of Americans and thousands of communities deserves to be called a recovery at all…”
SOURCE: “There are Large Parts of America Being Left Behind”, by Tyler Durden, published in ZeroHedge
Here’s to Bernie Sanders. Hope it somehow works in our moribund society.
SOURCE: “Why healthcare should be managed as a natural monopoly,” by Richard John Stapleton, Effective Learning Report
Say it aint so Joe.
“A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. For the traitor appears not a traitor—He speaks in the accents familiar to his victims, and he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation—he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of a city—he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murderer is less to be feared.”
Cicero, Roman Statesman, 42 BC, speaking from his grave.
SOURCE: Facebook post by Detong Choyin, September 23
How to get that 46.9 percent voting for a truly progressive candidate is the problem.
And this is why we can’t have nice things.
2016 presidential election turnout rate: 46.9 percent didn’t vote, 25.6 percent voted for Clinton, 25.5 percent voted for Trump, and 1.7 percent voted for Johnson.
Here’s a particularly cogent economic update by Richard Wolff.
SOURCE: Audio podcast, “Economic Update: Capitalism, Revolution and Socialism,” published in Truth-Out.
Last night, the Senate overwhelmingly approved an $80 billion annual increase in military spending. Trump had asked for just $48 billion…
As shown here, the US makes thirty-six percent of all military expenditures around Earth, including some two hundred countries, more than the next eight largest nations spend combined.
Why is this?
Capitalism won’t be killed by communism. Capitalism will be killed by low-wage workers who can’t buy products, aka lack of aggregate demand.
More corruption in our government. This should not be happening.
Insurance industry contributions to Democratic Senators. Of thirty-five listed, Bernie Sanders was the only one not receiving anything.
It was way worse than I thought it was then when I saw it on TV in the waiting room of the Volvo dealership in Savannah, Ga. I thought it strange at the time that a young woman would walk in the room and tell us with certainty, “Osama Bin Laden!” I had never heard of him at the time.
Hunter S. Thompson’s 9/11 Essay is Still Chillingly Accurate 16 Years Later.
When terrorists attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001 no one knew exactly what the future would hold.
SOURCE: “Hunter S. Thompson’s 9/11 Essay is Still Chillingly Accurate 16 Years Later,” by David Moye, published in HuffPost, Sept. 11, 2017
McDonald’s prices go up regardless of wages.
Big Mac cost in 2009, $3.57; Federal Minimum Wage, $7.25
Big Mac cost in 2017, $5.30; Federal Minimum Wage, $7.25
Wages don’t matter.
Fight for $15 per hour.
SOURCE: Meme posted by Fight for $15
Why We Need Medicare for All
Well said by Bernie Sanders.
This is a pivotal moment in American history. Do we, as a nation, join the rest of the industrialized world and guarantee comprehensive health care for all?
SOURCE: “Why We Need Medicare for All,” by Sen. Bernard Sanders, published in CounterPunch
Look closely at this chart of federal spending. Somewhere within the tiny orange sliver at the bottom is the food stamp program that Republicans blame for our budget deficit.
Declaring peace would be a dangerous thing. Some thoughts and facts on war in this article by David Swanson. Well worth a read.
SOURCE: “How Outlawing War Changed the World in 1928,” by David Swanson, published in CounterPunch
Do we really know what we’re doing?
One of the major differences between working and middle to upper-class parents, when it comes to their children’s education, and specifically how to best maximize…
SOURCE: “Beyond the Class Ceiling: Education and Upward Social Mobility,” by Pascal Blackfoot, published in CounterPunch
Premature disappearance is a terrible thing.
Remembering the disappeared. Of the 2,753 victims of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, no physical trace has been found for 1,112 of them. Thus for 40…
SOURCE: “Remembering the Disappeared,” by Ariel Dorfman, published in CounterPunch
Say it aint so Joe.
The US War on Terror has resulted in over 1 million deaths.
SOURCE: “9/11: The Beginning of the End of the US Empire Project,” by Dahr Jamail, published in Truthout
Is North Korea and the US now analogous to Cuba and the US then and is Kim and Trump analogous to Khrushchev and Kennedy? Here is an excellent article pointing out gruesome realities of the relationship with North Korea. We know Trump is not analogous to Kennedy, and we know Kim is not analogous to Khrushchev. Nuclear bombs did not fall from the sky on the US then; will they fall from the sky on the US now?
Cold War strategists led by such men as Henry Kissinger, Thomas Schelling and Bernard Brodie believed that ultimately relationships among nations were…
SOURCE: “America on the Brink of Nuclear War: What Should We Do?”, by William R. Polk, published in CounterPunch
All this is doing is turning machines into what humans used to be. Humans cannot compete with these digitized machines. The only hope is to turn these machines into the equivalent of human machines and promote former human machines into the elite stockholder manager class of corporations, to live off the work of the robot machines like the elite live off the work of human machines now.
A computer scientist at Rice University says that accountants, lawyers and even construction are about to find their work changing substantially, if not entirely taken…
SOURCE: “The rise of robots taking human jobs will be ‘painful and enduring’,” by Moshe Y. Vardi, published in the Daily Mail,
David Stockman in my opinion does an admirable job explaining the Federal tax situation. On the other hand, he is being disingenuous regarding what he calls a payroll tax, calling it the major problem for middle and lower income citizens. What he calls a payroll tax of fifteen percent is really FICA deductions for Social Security, absolutely necessary to prevent the destruction of the Social Security system, an investment, not a tax. Pundits, especially good ones like Stockton, calling FICA deductions payroll taxes is a dangerous thing. The day when Social Security goes down the tube is the day the US becomes a Third World country.
Former Reagan White House cabinet official, David Stockman levels that Donald Trump’s tax plan is destined for complete failure…
SOURCE: “The Donald’s Seinfeld Tax Plan—A Big Show About Nothing,” by David Stockman, published in the Daily Reckoning
Here is a good general overview of climate change around Earth. The author asserts human activity caused it. I say it makes little difference who or what caused it. The relevant point is that climate change is creating hell around Earth, and we better hope we humans did cause it, because if we did then we can theoretically make changes to uncause it; otherwise, if nature caused it, and the trend continues for several decades, humans are toast, since there is nothing we can do about it.
We are in the age of climate-caused humanitarian crises.
SOURCE: “Greenland is Burning: Wildfires and Floods Surge Worldwide,” by Dahr Jamail, published in Truth-Out.
September 5, 2017
Here’s something to think about.
Countries ranked by prosperity: Norway, Socialist; Switzerland, Socialist; New Zealand, Socialist; Denmark, Socialist; Canada, Socialist; Sweden, Socialist; Australia, Socialist Welfare; Finland, Socialist; Netherlands, Socialist; United States, number ten
A sad Labor Day indeed.
SOURCE: “Trump’s Labor Day,” by Robert Reich, posted in the Intrepid Report
Let’s hope not.
SOURCE: “The American military empire: Is Trump its would-be emperor?, “ by Dr. Rodrique Tremblay, posted in the Intrepid Report
Here’s another great audio discourse by Richard Wolff, discussing the financial crises in 1929 and 2008.
SOURCE: “Economic Update: A Tale of Two Crises,” by Richard Wolff, posted in Truth-Out