Throwback Thursday (The New “Middle Class”)

I questioned who was benefiting from this shallow society we now live in. Pondered what the cushion between the haves and have-nots was, now that the middle class has all but disappeared. As I was debating this topic with another person the answer suddenly presented itself.

The new cushion between the rich and rest of us is the entourage and handlers who make their living suckling at the teat of wealthy individuals. Take for example one of the major players, Jonathan, of Village Green Properties. He is a millionaire (he has an F150 Ferrari hanging from his ceiling…just because) who continually makes poor design decisions and wastes money on ill-advised projects. He has an entire executive staff who will stomp down upon one another to get in his favor or impress him so they can climb ever closer to him on his corporate ladder. They refuse to say no to him out of fear he will cast them aside. They do not share the valid concerns of lower employees about issues that arise at his properties. They will ignore cost-effective/ethical solutions brought to their attention by anyone lower on the totem pole than they are. They would rather chew people up and spit them out in a pattern of failure than address the idea that the process Jonathan has put in place, or their own terrible ideas aren’t successful. Anyone who appears to be willing to offer Jonathan a different opinion/option is seen as a threat and kept at bay or let go. The hard workers who would ensure continued revenue at rental properties are continually sacrificed to balance mismanaged budgets and take the fall for mistakes of the entourage.  I have seen it happen at several companies I work for as well.

This isn’t only applicable in the business world. Society in general treats wealthy people as if they deserve more respect and less accountability than non-wealthy people. It usually has nothing to do with a winning personality either. It is the hope that by being nice to, and doing favors for, rich people, they will bestow some of their wealth and protection to the people surrounding them. It is the collection of people hoping to get close enough to the money tree to break themselves off a branch or two that form a protective bubble of delusion around those rooted in prosperity. They are the ones who keep the rich safe from the outrage of the poor.

As the pool of super wealthy consolidates to a smaller and smaller number, will the entourages of each rich person left also dwindle? At what point will people stop chasing the almighty dollar and open their eyes to the dysfunction of planetary management. Money has an arbitrary value which means we ultimately control what it is worth. The fact that so many people sacrifice ethics, integrity, time and even lives for a made-up commodity is pretty ridiculous if you stop and think about it. Greed has already been the downfall of many people and civilizations, yet it appears that too many people have not learned the lessons of our past. If we don’t stand up to greed and put an end to its reign it will also be the downfall of our entire population.

Throwback Thursday (Manifesto of Sanity)

In a society that is increasingly parting ways with integrity, honor, ethics, standards and logic, the opportunity arises for chaos which will tear apart the fabric holding our population together. As a member of this global society you should view it as your duty to help ensure the continuation of the freedoms so many others have fought and died to provide you. Turning a blind eye only gives consent for the behavior that is destroying our collective intelligence and engaging in the destructive behavior should never even be considered an acceptable option. Although the majority of the masses may already have fallen prey to this addiction to drama, the rest of us must stand strong and ever fight to restore the values that are necessary to survive in a world where you do not have to be afraid that every other person around you will either frustrate the hell out of you or screw you over for their own selfish purposes. We must help the contaminated population remember the benefits of living in a world where you could count on your neighbors to have your back, where you actually wanted to spend time with your family, when you were proud of your friends, your house and your job. We need to take back the times where a person’s word meant something and you could trust strangers. A world that is tolerant of other people’s creativity, sexual orientation and religious/political views does not have to be a world that also allows pandering to the lowest common denominator, a denominator that continues to plummet each day to new and more disturbing lows. Regardless of your personal preferences, laziness and wickedness are not justified by any logical argument. Each person is responsible for being responsible for themselves, if you are an able bodied person of reasonable age you should contribute in a positive manner to the society in which you reside. Be kind to others, offer assistance to those who are no longer able bodied, uphold standards, develop a work ethic and a desire to continue growing intellectually. Take pride in your actions and honor your commitments. Accept any limitations you may have and instead of denying or crying in indignation, work to overcome them. Think about the long term effects of your decisions before you act on them, choose healthy options and encourage the same of those around you. Lead by example and always strive to live a life that inspires others. If we make the effort to hold on to honor, integrity, ethics, standards and logic we can have the best this world has to offer. We will have the freedom to go out and enjoy ourselves with the added benefit of knowing we can safely walk down the street. We can go to work and know our tax dollars will be going to maintain the infrastructure of our country and not to corruption. The entertainment industry will once again provide actual story lines in movies and television and not just slap some reality star up there to act like an asshole over and over again. Technology will advance at an increasingly rapid rate because large corporations will no longer supress new inventions just because they may take away from their finite and outdated goods and services. Right now we are circling the drain and if we continue to allow this crazy chaos to thrive our society will crumble past the point of repair. Do not take the quickly declining population of responsible people for granted, if they are not replenished and maintaned then we are doomed. Help restore sanity to the mass actions of this world, believe that you can make a difference and never stop fighting for a planet worth living on.

Lies Are Easy, Truth Is Hard

As I drove home listening to the news I heard about snapchat being valued at 25 billion. Why, I wondered, would it be worth that much? Granted I haven’t used it in years but a friend told me about the new features and how people liked to subscribe to celebrities because presumably they can feel like they know famous people better. It got me thinking again.

Why do many people spend more time cultivating relationships with people over social media or the Internet and less time investing in real life interactions and relationships? Why limit yourself to acquaintance networks that never really scratch the surface of the people in them? Sure social media and acquaintance networks are easy because they require minimal effort to establish and maintain,  but they also offer little back in return and are the equivalent of fast food friendships. Where’s the substance? They aren’t built on a strong foundation and can fall apart much easier because there is such a paltry investment required of them. In relation to the people who follow or subscribe to celebrities,  the entire concept that you have any connection with them at all is basically an illusion. Of course fiction is much easier to create and maintain than real life.

I wonder if it’s this very proclivity towards illusionary,  low-effort relationships that contributed to an environment where someone like Donald Trump could become president. Sometimes I feel like we live in a world where it’s easier to believe the lies than it is to believe the truth. I’m not ok with that. I must belong to that camp of people that value quality over quantity. I value truth over lies even if the truth hurts. I want genuine relationships with the people in my life, I want to experience events for myself and make memories that mean something to me.

How did humanity get to this point? Alternative facts shouldn’t be a thing. Having to be highly skeptical of every single accusation that comes along because there were people willing to lie about events just to create more chaos in the world makes me want to cry and rage, which might have been the point. What message are we sending to the world,  to younger generations? Some things need to matter and effort must be exerted. Yes lies are easy and truth is hard but a world without substance isn’t sustainable.

 

Priorities

I used to focus on money…a lot. I’d save as much as I could, my “nest egg” was never big enough and I would work longer hours and burn myself out so I could make more and feel more secure. I would chose work over play, and limit myself on food, clothes and fun just so I could keep more of what I earned. I thought if I reached a set amount of money that I could finally relax and start living my life the way I wanted to. Money would buy me freedom.

This is what I thought until I hit a major bump in my life. I was working for a company that, unbeknownst to me, was in the process of going bankrupt. I ended up being demoted (along with many others) as they started to close down stores and saw my pay cut in half. Around the same time I learned that a previous roommate had forged my name onto his student loans years back and my credit score was now taking hits as his loans went into collections since he wasn’t paying on them. The apartment I was living in was full of mold in the carpets and vents and I couldn’t live there but the rental company wouldn’t let me out of my lease even with solid proof of my claims. It wasn’t money that came and saved me. Money didn’t solve any of my problems. It was the people around me that were willing to be there and help me, support me, love me…that is how I managed to hit that bump and keep going.

I moved out of the moldy apartment and stayed with a friend (rent-free) till my lease was up. I found a new job with the help of another friend who referred me and was happy to get out of the retail/service industry. My cousin helped me find the right contacts to prove to SallieMae that I had never agreed to be a co-signer and my name was forged by previous roommate and I got my information removed from the loans. I still thought money was important and I would still get stressed out feeling like I didn’t have enough, but I was starting to see that there was far more value in my relationships with others.

Getting married was a huge challenge on the money front. It was a major source of stress and fighting between us because we had different views on it. He assumed we’d figure it out no matter what and I wanted to know that I had a cushion to fall back on. I started to focus on the money again…instead of on the people.

Then came the husband injury and the unemployment and then the fire…which resulted in getting a bunch of money to replace things and having that large chunk of money in the bank didn’t change my stress level. I didn’t feel any different, no safer, no more fulfilled. I told myself then it was because husband was spending the money as fast as we were getting it. Eventually I got sick and tired of fighting with husband about his excessive spending and gave up stressing about money. I made sure I made enough to cover all the bills and stopped expecting anything from him. I decided my relationships needed to be more important than money.

If you think about it…money is an arbitrary concept and holds only the value we agree upon. US currency isn’t really backed by anything other than faith in the government. Most money is virtual now as well…numbers in an account that could be wiped out with the push of a button. Your assets could be seized by the government or skilled hackers and what would you do? Where would you go? Who would you turn to? Instead of focusing on making as much money as possible I have started focusing on building my skillset. Learning how to utilize what I already have and what is around me to accomplish tasks instead of just buying something new or hiring someone to do it for me. I focus on building stronger relationships with people. I no longer tally up a mental account balance in my head over what they’ve spent on me vs. what I have spent on them. I value time and events over making additional income. If I had to take on additional work to make money to cover my bills I would, but if I don’t have to I would rather spend my time making memories I can look back on fondly. Money is useful, but if I had to make a choice today I would choose the people I care about over money every time.