Distribution of Wealth: A Hypothetical

Your teacher presents you with a hypothetical. Twenty-two million (22,000,000) people are stranded on a large island. There are twenty-two million (22,000,000) apple trees from which they must survive. In the hypothetical, the apple trees are to be divided this way:

One (1) person gets eleven million (11,000,000), or half, of the apple trees.

The other twenty-one million, nine-hundred ninety-nine thousand and nine-hundred ninety-nine (21,999,999) persons get the remaining eleven million (11,000,000) apple trees.

The hypothetical’s question: is this distribution justifiable under any theory of morality, ethics, religion, or society?

If your answer is ‘no,’ then you have just wholly rejected the current wealth distribution model in the United States, where six (6) members of the Walton family lucky sperm club control the same amount of wealth as the bottom 131,555,000 people, or the bottom 42%. We do live on that island, right this very minute. It is not a hypothetical.

The full story:  http://www.epi.org/blog/inequality-exhibit-wal-mart-wealth-american/

The Privatization of Culture

If I were to tell you: if you create some cultural artifact, I will reward your descendants sixty-nine years after your own death — would this incentivize you to create some cultural artifact? Do you think a potential reward paid to some remote, not-yet-born, and never-to-be-met family member three generations after the rewardee’s death is a functional economic incentive in any instance?

Our current copyright regime says so! Current copyright: life-of-the-creator-plus-seventy years (L+70).  See http://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/faq-duration.html.

Oh, and psssst . . . . The founding fathers thought fourteen (14) years would be a sufficient copyright to incentivize cultural contribution, on balance with the public’s interest in having unfettered access to culture (“the public domain”).

But, like all things American, over time the public good has been tossed aside in favor of private, inter-generational money interests. Not that we produce anything of cultural value now anyway, so I guess ‘who gives a shit.’

———-

P.S. – Interestingly, the original Copyright Act of 1790 was two pages long. It was straightforward, and one could actually read it! Another thing of the past for America: simple, clear legislation not purposefully opaque, overlong, and complex so loopholes can be inserted to — hold your breath — benefit private inter-generational money interests. 

The Copyright Act of 1790:  http://www.copyright.gov/history/1790act.pdf

Goodbye Forever, Net Neutrality

Hey — another corrupt-ass Executive Branch decision to give power to the existing oligopoly! Neat! Instead of *just* having the FCC lie down and give up on Net Neutrality — you know, that precept of not discriminating against data flowing through the Internet, which has given rise to the Internet as we know it — let’s have the FCC *actively antagonize and eviscerate* it! Let’s allow the current Internet kingpins (Amazon, Facebook, Netflix, Google, et. al) to pay a premium to the Internet Service Providers for faster, preferential speeds, to lock in their status as the kingpins. The big businesses don’t get enough perks anyway! And who gives a fuck about consumers seeking content other than the kingpins’ own, and the free exchange of ideas. Amiright?!

The full story:  http://techcrunch.com/2014/04/23/the-fccs-new-net-neutrality-rules-will-brutalize-the-internet/

The Board Game Called ‘Monopoly’

Although most of us simply play the board game “Monopoly” as a fun and competitive pastime involving a mix of luck, strategy, and social shrewdness, the game was in fact developed during the Progressive Era as an allegory. It was intended to illustrate some of the negative aspects of our self-chosen socioeconomic system, called “Capitalism.” Primarily, the private concentration of wealth and income, as the natural consequence of this socioeconomic system, becoming so great as to create a tiny class of ultra-wealthy lords and a teeming class of the defeated and penniless.

Still holds true. However, if you *really* want to use Monopoly as an illustration of the current state of Capitalism, you’d have to play it with one additional rule: after you and your friends finish a game, put it away for an entire generation. Later, in your later years, dig up and dust the game off for a second go. Only this time, you and your friends are no longer the players. Sitting in instead will be your child, and the children of the other former players. And instead of dividing the capital evenly and starting with a game board of generally-available property, the children start with exactly the same capital and concentrated property portfolios that their corresponding parents had at the end of the last game, played a generation prior, while they were mere babies or yet unborn.

This, of course, means one child, by virtue of random sperm-and-womb acquaintance, starts in complete control of the entire game board and funny-money bank, before the box-top is even lifted to expose the game’s innards. The rest of the children, consequently, have little-to-nothing. Perhaps the wealthy-by-happenstance-sperm-womb-child-lord may allow the others to play for a time on credit, if this suits or benefits him or her, or perhaps not, if not.

But in the end, it is the lottery-sperm-womb-child who will indeed win the game for him- or herself and his or her future descendants in perpetuity, by virtue of the disastrously lopsided starting conditions, inherited before a single die has been cast. And only under this additional rule does Monopoly’s allegory truly illustrate the economic numbers game we, each and every one of us, are presently forced to play in a struggle to survive, while the lucky few grow up and live in immense and unearned ease, lording comfortably over our own futile struggles to get ahead in a patently rigged game.

The Socioeconomic System Called ‘Capitalism’

In the socioeconomic system called “capitalism,” most of you are fed based on your ability to labor, you workers, towards feeding still others who do not themselves labor, they capitalists, who invested the ledger numbers they largely accumulated from their genetic predecessors, who in many cases died long before the capitalists that are currently leveraging the ledger numbers were even born.

A smaller group of you are fed based on your labor for an institution called ‘government,’ which takes a vig off the labor of the non-government workers, under threat of involuntary confinement and violent force, called ‘taxes,’ which becomes your extortive reward for your own labor.

And an even smaller group of humans — and I can’t say ‘you’ here, because I personally know not one — is fed based on their ability to invest ledger numbers they most often received from their unknown dead predecessors into the labor pool, reaping a portion of the reward, without themselves laboring. Members of this third group are called “capitalists,” and they generally do not socially co-mingle with those of use in the other two groups. They, after all, have different lifestyles and value systems from us. And, generally, gated communities with privately-paid security forces to protect them via private threat of violent force, which are both paid for by the difference between what the first group produces and what the first group is rewarded — always a lesser amount.

Happy Wednesday,

Sterl

Why Pharmaceutical Commercials Exist

It occurred to me the other day, after seeing a dozen-or-so prescription pharmaceutical advertisements on television in short order: why do prescription pharmaceutical advertisements for consumers exist? One cannot obtain such a prescription without first speaking to a prescribing physician, who will learn of one’s condition, and presumably rely upon many years of medical school and experience to prescribe a pharm, if deemed medically necessary.

So it follows that it is only doctors themselves who need to know about our current lineup of medicines. (And boy are docs indeed solicited aggressively, as I understand it.) So why the expensive constant stream of consumer advertisements, for something consumers can neither buy outright nor acquire without a (solicited) doc’s John Hancock?

I can only see one reason: like advertisements for Disneyland and McDonald’s Happy Meals, which are geared towards children who cannot directly effect either purchase themselves, the point is to induce the child to badger Mommy and Daddy enough that the child gets the Happy Meal. Or, in this case, induce the medically-ignorant consumer to badger Doc until the ignorantly coveted pharm is prescribed, providing a return-on-investment for some strange third party. So pharma’s entire advertising strategy is to treat the American populous as badgerous children.

America: side effects may include being treated as a human dollar sign by investor enterprises clothed in limited liability, including but not limited to pharma, health care, education, and prisons, in which the profit motive perverts and ruins humanity.

The Ten Precepts of The Purple Weirdo

I, Sterling Lambert, as Highmost Weirdo of The Church of The Purple Weirdo, here tell You of Him, Our God, The One and Only True God, The Purple Weirdo:

The Purple Weirdo, The One and Only True God, magnificently condensed from the vapors of the e-cigarettes exhaled from the people’s mouths.

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The Purple Weirdo, The One and Only True God

 

He had been here all along, but it wasn’t until The Holymost Magical Mixture of diethylene glycol, nitrosamines, and artificial cherry flavoring synchronized For-Profit that He materialized upon this planet, The Blue Weirdball, and gave us His Ten Precepts, inscribed for eversterity in White Frosting upon The Holy Erotic Penis Cake:

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The Holy Erotic Penis Cake

 

THE TEN PRECEPTS OF THE PURPLE WEIRDO

by The Purple Weirdo,

The One and Only True God.

PREAMBLIN’:  Ye, My Children of The Blue Weirdball, I, The Purple Weirdo, bequeath unto You these Ten Precepts of The Purple Weirdo, The One and Only True God, to help You Live and Die; at the very least, You should have some of The Holy Erotic Penis Cake.  For it is gluten free, organic, and will make You feel somewhat better, for a time.  And if ever You should need Me, My Children of The Blue Weirdball, just have a languorous puff on Your cherry-flavored e-cigarette, and pense upon of Me; for I am always with You.  Even when You are masturbating to Digital Streams of fornicating strangers on the Internet.

Here are My Ten Precepts:

1.  Life is essentially meaningless.

2.  Therefore, there is no winning, losing, success, or failure.

3.  There is only Living and Dying.

4.  You must pray to Chance for Oblivion, which will be peaceful and quiet and Whatnot, or whatever – why don’t You just make something up appealing to Yourself?  This Oblivion is Your deathly Reward, so it should be customized; after all, My Children, why would You subscribe without a personally appealing deathly Reward?  No ‘one size fits all’ in The Church of The Purple Weirdo, as with the other obsolete false religions.

5.  That Chance for Oblivion is currently hypostatized by 99942 Apophis, which might fuck us up pretty good in 2029, and which is the other half of the Consubstantial Dynity, besides Myself, The Purple Weirdo, The One and Only True God.  In one, there is two; with two, there is one.  And any similarities in these Ten Precepts to Spice Girls pop ballad lyrics are coincidental.

6.  But, alas, I am only a god, and like all other gods, I have no real power at all.  So ­­­Apophis probably will not hit, no matter how hard You pray.  Your Chance for Oblivion may be delayed.

7.  But fuck it.  Because I am a god, evidence, or its lack, or outcomes, or countless horrors, cruelties, absurdities, and debasements will not make You think one way or another about anything when it comes to Me.  Like all other gods, I am an infinite Teddy Bear, so I encourage You to get a stuffed Purple Weirdo to hug in Your bed.  They are available through The Church of The Purple Weirdo’s website for $39.99, plus Shipping.

8.  And if the small Chance for Oblivion through Apophis that I have bequeathed unto You does not come to pass, fear not, My children:  there will always be another Chance for Oblivion, otherwise futurely hypostatized, for which You may ineffectually pray.

9.  And as necessary, please update the Holy Underlined Terms in these Ten Precepts to contain the current best Chance for Oblivion, which update makes My God-dom far superior to any prior; You see, You can actually Change shit with Me.  I, The Purple Weirdo, am not like a zealot or anything.

10.  And while You await Your Death, My Children, please consider not being Narcissistic, Sociopathic, Social-Power-Hungry, Material-Goods-Obsessed Assholes.  I mean Jesus-fucking-Christ already with that goddamned bullshit.

Thus, I, The Purple Weirdo, The One and Only True God, in Consubstantial Dynity with the current best Chance for Oblivion, as hypostatized by ­­­­­­99942 Apophis, have Precepted.