Where Your Entitlement Stops

We’re on the road in a min-RV during the winter of 2013,  as I write this essay. Just yesterday, our eight-year-old cat ran off and we’re sorting out our feelings and rearranging our mobile life to go on without him. He was a real member of our now-two-species family and this is as much of a loss as when an old friend who I hadn’t seen in several years died.

Our cat, Spike, was as full of personality and as loving as 90% of the human population and overwhelmingly more so than any Republican I’ve ever met. When my wife or I were sick, Spike would sit as close to us as possible and try be a comfort. When I was working in the basement shop or the attic studio, Spike would pick a chair and just hang out for as long as I worked. When Robbye was in her art studio, Spike had a favorite chair that was reserved for him. He was dependable, quiet, friendly company, always. When we were trapped in the house during winter storms, he would strike up a running battle with the dog and the two would play for hours. It was impossible not to think he was playing for our laughter. And we laughed at the two animals for hours over the seven years Spike lived with us. When we realized he had gone so far from the RV that he wouldn’t be able to find his way back, all of us (dog included) spent a somber day searching for him and hoping, pointlessly, that he might return. He didn’t and we had to move on.

Every loss should bring change, more than just the loss. After losing Spike, I decided to change my own tolerance of poor manners. Having pets means that the lowest class of people all seem to believe you should give a shit about their phobias or allergies or general hypochondria. Entering someone’s house is a privilege, not a right. Decent manners would require one to shut the fuck up about your piddly problems with their home and enjoy the privilege. Or leave. Your choice. I could care less which option you pick as long as I don’t have to hear about it.

When someone comes into our home and immediately feels the need to tell us about their cat allergy or how much they dislike cats/dogs/kids/white paint, I’m done with them from here out. Since they were clearly raised by undisciplined, arrogant, entitled morons who taught their little retards that the whole world should be interested in their sub-human problems, I don’t need to know more about them. Seriously. I’m not interested. Keep it to yourself.

As a degenerating society, we have moved beyond the point where it was once socially unacceptable to talk about “religion and politics” to the disgusting point where strangers think all of the rest of the world should give a shit about their personal problems. I don’t. If you have food allergies, bring your own food. Don’t waste my time jabbering about your piddly genetic defects. As far as I’m concerned, the world is over-stuffed with human beings and anything that reduces human population is a good thing, so don’t expect me to pick through your salad to make it safe. In fact, you might double-check your food to be sure I don’t intentionally slip some peanuts or whatever under a leaf.

Letting a host know that their home isn’t properly outfitted for you is clearly impolite and arrogant. So, don’t bother. I don’t care and I’m going to let you know, in Spike’s memory, how little I care about your genetic or personality defects. In fact, I’m perfectly happy to watch you vanish from the planet if you are so genetically defective that you can’t survive on a world full of animals other than yourself.


What is Charisma?

I have worked for at least five companies which were started by ordinary men, with ordinary-or-less skill, who had no more vision or foresight than your average truck driver or waitress, and whose lucky business experiments turned into enterprises that even their worst characteristics were unable to destroy in their working lifetime. When I hear the wingnut talking heads jabber about “the entrepreneur spirit” or “business charisma” or read a Forbes article about some ‘genius” business exec who appears to be about as bright as a barfly, I admit to total confusion. I’ve known the little guys and the big guys (CEOs, COOs, CFOs, and miscellaneous VPs and directors of Misfortune 100 and 500 corporations) and I have seen nothing brilliant, creative, or inspirational in their behavior or talents. I’m not saying that all of those guys, those “leaders,” were idiots or incompetents, but I am saying that they were not anything special in any identifiable way. At least, in any way I could identify.

However, enough exposure to this stuff will teach even the dumbest guy something. This past week, I spent two long, dreary, dull, monotonous, painful days with my wealthy and “successful” brother. Thirty years ago, he started a business with some non-participating “partners” (aka investors) that tuned into something overwhelmingly successful. His son has taken on the business while my brother has turned what he believes is his “business skill” toward a collection of real estate and development investments that are most likely going to undo 30 years of good fortune, big money, and gaudy luxury. Neither of them appear to be bound for a happy ending. The son has decided that “being too nice” to his employees (the ones who built the business) was his father’s great fault and the father has bought into the idea that he is a business genius and can turn shit to gold just with a wave of his hand.

As an adult who has had competent people working for him for 30 years--doing the technical and skilled tasks—my rich-but-disabled brother become unable to pay his own personal bills, venture competently into the world outside of his 1%’er compound (Guantanamo for rich people?), deal with people who don’t see him as a source of unearned income (everyone not asking for tips and handouts or running a con), manage his personal habits (drinking, anger, healthcare, money, and his family and friends), or feed himself outside of ordering a meal at a neighborhood restaurant. “I’ve got people” is the plaintive cry of the characters who are supposed to be so inspirational, according to the business press. Obviously, competence , intelligence, or foresight are not key characteristics of a corporate leader. So, what is at the heart of what makes someone likely to turn a fairly common idea into a fortune?

You could call it “charisma” or you could call it “entrepreneurial spirit” or you can call it “luck,” but what it isn’t is genius. What I have seen, consistently, is a quality that I’ve read is at the heart of the Harvard Business School training; a willingness to pull credit up and push blame down. That’s it. That is the whole story when it comes to who makes the big bucks and creates the biggest successes in business.

Normal, non-psychopathic people, are smart enough to realize that things happen in business because of more than just one person. Normal, productive people naturally share credit and blame to get the job done. Normal people do not put themselves ahead of everyone else in a project. People with “charisma” are not normal.

Media children who have never had a real job, performed a useful task, or accomplished a measureable thing in their lives, assume their unenlightened myopic vision of how a business works has some connection to reality and pump that into the idiotic biographies they publish or broadcast in business journals or television programs and try to sell the rest of us on buying into magic instead of what lies in plain sight. “Are you gonna believe us or your lyin’ eyes?”

I vote for my eyes. Thanks for asking.

Charisma appears to be nothing more than they psychopathic ability to convince smarter, more-talented people that there is a shared mission: a mission that, in reality, is nothing more than a ploy to get talent to buy into making one person or a very few people rich and/or powerful while wasting the time and energy of the people with real talent. This is not unlike the qualities of a historic military leader who can convince young men to throw away their lives for “honor” or some other irrational fantasy, while burning up the resources and future of nations for fun and profit. This kind of “leadership” ought to be something intelligent people run from as if it were attached to a plague carrier. Characters like Henry Ford, Jack Welch, Steve Jobs, Lee Iacocca, and the usual charismatic suspects business promotes as examples of “leadership” are all of the same semi-psychopathic character.

From a different perspective, the Harvard Business Review raved about Jobs’ ability to con employees into making him rich, “In this new organization, employees were supposed to work ceaselessly, uncomplainingly, and even for relatively low pay not just to produce and sell a product but to realize the vision of the messianic leader.” I’m pretty that is exactly what I said, except I called the business plan “a ploy to get talent to buy into making one person or a very few people rich ” and the HBR called it “the vision of the messianic leader.” In my opinion, the difference between their description and mine is that mine provides detail about the “vision.” None of these assholes is trying to create something lasting, other than their personal fortune and power. The only noticeable societal change any of these characters produced was to their family inheritance.

A few years ago, one of the founders of Intel, Andy Grove, cautioned employees of all sorts to consider their employer as just a customer, rather than a partner. When you see someone with charisma offering employment, I recommend running as fast as possible in any direction that puts as much distance between this “leader” as possible. Nothing good will come, to you, from exposure to a psychopath. This is the kind of customer real businesses avoid.


A Slave Nation, A Slave World?

When human beings come together with a mission, we can be an inspiring, uplifting, force for good in the world. That happens about 1 out of 10,000,000 times in human activity. Maybe not that often. Most often, we “come together” because we are forced to through coercion, superstition/religion, fear, greed, or stupidity.

Slavery is one of the ways humans are coerced into “togetherness.” In early human history, and you can read all about it in the Bible/Koran/Torah/Book of Mormon/Dianetics or whatever crazy list of human silliness to which you subscribe. Slavery is the handiest way for the most psychopathic humans to control the dumbest humans. The majority of our species is too stupid to live outdoors, so most of us appear to be designed for slavery. It’s as old as civilization, assuming you’re willing to accept a very loose definition of “civilization,” and the #1 reason humans are destined to be a mistake in evolution that will set the earth’s attempt to colonize the galaxy back at least 50 million years. (I put that sentence in for my wife, who is a neo-pagan and believes we’re supposed to be the earth’s “seed” species. I, on the other hand, have seen no evidence of intelligence in the universe and suffer no such delusions.) The fact that we tolerate overlords so willingly is beyond sad. Our ability to practically worship our never-ending supply of 1%’ers depresses me to no end.

In his detailed history of the pre-Civil War slavery years, A Disease in the Public Mind, Thomas Fleming writes, “If we study the income of those men who owned twenty slaves or more and qualified as ‘planters’ –some 46,274 individuals—the pictures is even more astonishing. These men owned half of all of the slaves, which means their net worth was at least $1.5 billion. Put another way, a mere 0.58 [%]of the South’s total population [9,101,090 per the 1860 census, so the actual percentage was 0.51%] composed 70 percent of the richest people in the United States in 1860.”In 150 years, nothing useful has changed. Obviously, that was just a continuation of the trend carried over to the New World from the old world and, as I mentioned at the beginning of this essay, this has been going on for as long as humans have banded together into gangs/communities.

Likewise, in Fleming’s book he writes of the slaves/soldiers’ common bond with each other. “Only their sense of honor as soldiers kept them in uniform. Above all else, they detested the abolitionists, who had gotten them into this murderous nightmare.” While we can’t seem to live without the 1%’ers driving us from one catastrophe to the next, it’s easy for all of us to bond together to hate the people who try to break us free from our slave owners. And as usual, we fight each other for the fun and profit of the few. Nothing new there either, as one of the Civil War veterans said, "this is a rich man’s war and a poor man’s fight.”

And you wonder why I am so disgusted with the human race?


Vanishing Point

Three years ago, last month, I left home
After a dozen years standing in one place
I moved on
At the time, it felt like dying
It felt like being liberated from cement shoes
It felt like losing my family
It felt like winning the lottery
Who knew it would be like vanishing?
No one said, “Don’t go”
Or “We need you”
They all said, “We’ll keep in touch”
I threw my own going-away party
Otherwise, I would have disappeared unnoticed