Monday, August 07, 2006

Discombobulating The Entropy Engine

That article by Eugene McCarraher is fascinating. Thank you Jim far the ling at Words Matter

I'm a bit burned out by religion, but my fascination with morals and ethics continues to grow.

I believe there is a relationship between burning out in work, and burning out in life. When life becomes nothing but work, how can you feel that you are living? You aren't any longer, you are only working.

Living isn't about working and vacationing. Living is about making it day to day. And in the end, the string of days that have fallen behind us comprises our lives.

I forget who said the quote that goes something like, "No one goes to their death wishing they'd spent one more day at the office." I imagine there are exceptions to the rule, but for the most part i believe that is true.

Our grandparents dreamed that they were working hard to give us a better life. Instead, we inherited a life in which living is almost impossible and work is mandatory.

But it's not their fault. We do it to ourselves. We teach each other to be consumers. We put great emphasis on learning to be consumers. We have built as our greatest achievement, a social engine for extracting exhaustible resources at the greatest possible rate, for the purpose of turning it into garbage. And while we do it, we tell ourselves that we are fulfilling a higher purpose. We are fulfilling a 'Work Ethic'.

But what is a 'Work Ethic'? A 'Work Ethic' can probably be best defined as, a goal in which a person puts in enough effort to pull his own weight and give something back to society.

In the practical modern implementation, our 'Work Ethic' can be defined as, working harder than we need to, to ease the lifestyle of the leisure class.

And our society, as an entropy engine works very hard to keep us indebted and working. Even a homesteader must be a capitalist in order to pay taxes. The system we have created will not allow us to opt out.

But we can come close. To do so, we have to shed the consumer mentality and become something else.

Thanks to Peak Energy, we'll do it whether we want to or not.

To do this, we first need to understand what props the system up, and makes its vampiric systems function. Essentially the system feeds on any activity that doesn't go directly into life support. Those activities involve debt based finance, marketing, sales, fashion, following the trends and keeping up with the Joneses.

From a boiled down perspective, it's our desire to have things and to go into debt to get them. This debt based way of living, drives up purely financially based profits, drives up prices and makes everything in life more expensive. Essentially, were trained to live on the financial edge, living paycheck to paycheck, pushing the system at it's maximum rate. This maximizes the quantity of money that powers finance at the expense of jobs and industry. It makes the rich richer, and the poor poorer. This is essentially what is turning the middle class into wage slaves and destroying the lives of the poor. The logical conclusion to this is that almost everyone becomes a peasant, while a few wealthy families own us completely.

The only way out, is to scale back the speed at which we spend. The first step is to quit spending money we don't have and then to stop spending money at the rate that we accumulate it. Going as debt free as possible takes money out of high finance and undermines the financial industries’ political power. Power that it yields to push legislation designed to strip us, of the fruits of our labor at ever increasing rates.

The benefit of paying off debts and avoiding debts immediately manifests at the personal level as extra money in our pockets. When emergencies occur, we have the means to cover them. When we want to promote an activity or a product, we can use our recreational money to vote for it.

Taking high finance out of the game, will force investment into real industries, and will force financial industries to invest in people and jobs. Skills will become more valuable than ownership. Labor will rise in value. What money we have will better cover the things that we actually need. Life will get easier for everyone.

If those of us in middle class that can best afford to do this, can find the discipline to do so, it will force a restructuring of power in finance and politics that will enrich all of our lives. It is truly the tide that will lift all boats. By increasing the value of labor, and forcing prices down by minimizing the impact of debt based financing, those that are sinking in our current system will find themselves better able to flourish and live in our economy.

It seems counter intuitive, but over-consumption is destructive to economies. It moves power from the people to corporations. It gives them ownership over us and our politics.

To make this happen we need to...

1. Eliminate credit card debt.
2. Pay off mortgages.

Not everyone can do this at once. Many people are just trapped. But with every one that can do this and does, the net that is keeping us entrapped will be weakened one thread at a time.

Peak Energy will do this for us, but if it does, it will do so destructively. The people will suffer most. If we can do this voluntarily as individuals, families and communities, then it's the corporate non-persons that take the hit. Actual human beings will be empowered by the process.

Our current path is one of worship and enslavement to Mammon. It is destroying our spirit, our hope, our lives and the future of our children and grandchildren. We don't need to blame anyone, we don't need to fight anyone, we don't need wars, we just need to change ourselves.


At 2:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are the proverbial voice crying in the wilderness on this one Wease. The media machine has brainwashed your compatriots. If you pay off your mortgage you should buy a bigger house. If you aren't shopping 'til you drop you are unpatriotic and don't love the troops. I share your philosophy but whenever I talk to the sheeple about it they look at me like I have three heads. There is satisfaction in watching them struggle doing it the hard way though. Oh well, gotta have that new truck & boat combo to impress the neighbors with. Toodles, off to work my 65 hrs a week the boss says I haven't been producing enough low quality goods lately.

At 5:29 PM, Blogger Jim said...

Thanks for such a thoughtful response to my link to McCarrher's article in Xianity Today.

Not only is it obvious that you've given it some thought, it is an honor that you took time to add some additional material that is worthwhile.

I've made my share of bad decisions, getting caught up in more consuming than was beneficial, particularly when I was younger.

Most of us, even those with money, are more than anything else, time poor. Much of that time shortage derives from having to work to pay for the stuff that adds little to our quality of life.

I'm only happy to have discovered the joys of a simpler life, while I still have some years to enjoy it, peak oil, or not.


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