Next to the Shinola rule, the next most important rule of human life that one can never afford to forget is the banana peel rule. The banana peel is always there, right where you will know it is. That’s right, we know it’s there, in fact, if you don’t already know about the banana peel, then I’m officially informing you of the existence and the location of the banana peel.
So, what the heck is the banana peel? As is the case with most of the rules of human life, it’s a metaphor for something very important. The banana peel is a catastrophic calamity that befalls a person, just before they win. Or hit the home run. Or finish the big project. Or close the big deal. Or finish the formula that will get you the Nobel Prize. Or finally walking up to the girl that you can’t get out of your head and asking her out. Anything at all that is considered to be a human triumph or victory or accomplishment; big or small, has a banana peel.
This is how it goes. Among the plethora of qualities that abound in a human being, one of the most cantankerous is our incessant like of not using the tools that we have and that are wonderfully effective and powerful and useful in the course of living a human life. In particular, I’m referring about what may be the #1 tool we have, and if it’s not #1, it’s definitely top three. I’m referring to our ability to think; I’m not just talking about the human brain, mind you. A human brain is there regardless of what you do with it but it won’t think unless we will it to, and we won’t will it to until we have no other choice or at the very least if he or she is super hot and irresistible. As long as most people can find a shortcut, a cheat sheet, an advantage, a secret passage, an enchanted potion or even a magic pill that will allow for them to not have to think anything through, they will usually take it, regardless of the risk and only seeing the possibilities if they could actually get away with winning something, or solving a problem, or working to finish something without actually having to think or do anything, if possible. Here’s the math:
Imagine yourself running a race. A competitive foot race, let’s say a thousand meter race. The race itself could represent anything; a job, an idea, a challenge, a problem, life. The starter pistol goes off and you fly into the lead, running like no one has ever run. You are a human gazelle and suddenly you have a one, two, three, five and finally a ten-man lead over the rest of the competition. You are so far ahead that the crowd is in frenzy and your head swims with the thought of the adoration, adulation, fame and fortune that will be heaped upon your feet when you are named as the winner. Suddenly, there it is. You can see it; the finish line. The long tape stretched across the track receives only one of the competitors in its warm embrace. It’s so close that you can smell it and you believe you can actually feel its proximity. You risk a quick look back and the guy who will end up in second place is so far behind you that it is ridiculous. You look at the finish line again and you could swear it was just a few inches away and then at that moment, is when we screw the pooch. That emotion, because it is an emotion, that some call sloth, others call laziness, and a few others even call human nature; kicks in and sends a signal to your conscious rational cognitive thinking mechanism and tells you that you already won. That’s it, nobody can catch you now. You are the king, the winner, numero uno, the top man – and immediately after you believe it, a mere two feet from the finish tape, you stop trying. You figure that the inertia alone will carry you across the finish line well before anyone else catches up and you BELIEVE that you are unstoppable and that certain victory is yours. So you stop thinking and stop paying attention and stop running the race and you start to celebrate! Right there, at that moment; 14 inches before hitting the tape and actually winning, that’s when you slip on the banana peel lying on the track – because you weren’t paying attention – and fall down and bust your ass. You fall so hard that you can’t get up. You may even have a fracture of the hip or the coccyx. You agonize in pain but you can’t get up because your busted your ass when you feel. You try to crawl and begin to sob, thinking you can drag your way across the finish line before anyone else gets near, but you are in too much pain. A slip and bust-your-ass fall on a banana peel during a full-on sprint at the end of a 1000 meter race will bust your ass for real. Suddenly, one, then two, then all of the other runners cross the finish line. The guy that you were laughing at only minutes before because he was going to end up in second place (and everyone knows that nobody remembers who came in second at anything) WON, and the adoration, adulation, triumph and celebrity that were supposed to be yours are taken away just like that.
As you are being carried away in a stretcher to an ambulance, never having actually crossed the finish line at all, you scream, in a fit or pure anger at the sky and complain to whoever it is that you pray to. You complain and say “It’s not fair!” Not fair? What is fair? As the saying goes; it’s not over ‘till it’s over or it’s not over ‘till the fat lady sings, the moral is the same. There’s no excuse for taking your eye off the ball while it’s in play or for slacking off because you believe it’s a “sure thing”. The moment that you do, I promise you; that banana peel will be there, waiting for you. What a person starts, they must finish. Mediocrity is not a human genetic trait. So now you know and because you know, you do not have to slip on the banana peel. Life is a 24 hour a day, 7 day per week job. Nobody gets time off from life, nobody gets a break. The interesting thing is that we should never need to feel like we do. None of us should ever forget about the banana peel, one day our very lives may depend on paying attention to what we’re doing, and if you don’t and then you slip and bust your ass; you know what’s next: I told you so!
We can do better and remember; step OVER the banana peel when you see it.
It is about time that we finally face this question, isn’t it? Shit and fan have already collided and the only unknown at this point is whether or not the splatter which covers everything will leave even the tiniest space to squeeze through or to make camp in. The few who try to speak about the issue are exactly that: too few and perhaps they have lost faith in the rest of us to do anything at all, even though they can clearly see what is happening and they are trying to do the right thing by following the natural, human instinct to DO something .
Our generation stands of the brink of the next, the biggest and very possibly the most important change in the human condition, ever. This is the first time in our collective history where all of us know where all of us are and how to communicate with any one of us. In spite of the bitter taste in our mouths which is the by-product of what we have done to ourselves, we are also waking up to something totally new and it is good and sweet. We all carry with us this new sense of us – the real us: all 6.8 billion of us give or take, not the very old and tired version of “us” based on political boundaries. If a sentence, an idea or even thinking includes an “us’ and a “them”, then that isn’t the real “us” because there is no “them”. We are all we have and we have such an incredible opportunity to restructure what we do and what we think we know into something that works, if we really want to. It is incomprehensible to look out upon our world and see almost everyone doing NOTHING about the only thing that really matters; the tiny speck of time that we are here, alive and human. The machinery that runs the day-to-day life of humanity fell apart completely and yet we don’t even ponder the significance of the moment. We simply watch everything that we think we know crumble around us and do what? Wait to see what happens? Hope that someone will figure out a way to fix the world that we created and which shatters our very humanity but which we refuse to let go of? There are enormous pockets of people everywhere who are angry, or terrified, or depressed or just plain lost, and not a one of us can spark a conversation which contemplates something different? Is it because what we are angry about is that “I never got my turn to enjoy money and success?” Is the thought that we might actually become inspired to do something new which would do away with money as we know it what terrifies us? Could it be that what we are depressed about is the harsh reality that nothing we’ve ever come up with to run our world has ever worked and even though we know better we can’t help but to covet money, because it’s all we know? Finally, are we lost because we don’t know how to let go of our addiction to the concept of money and wealth and what it allows for us to do: purchase other people’s envy and impose our will on those around us. Is that it? It this the best we got? Are we going to let everything that we are and have been and might possibly be, simply fade away into nothingness? Have we become that weak and lazy and complacent and full of ourselves and so idiotic? Have we become a world of pussies? If that’s what we want, that’s what we’ll get, unless we choose something different.
I think that we can do better and I REALLY WANT for us to have that chance. That’s a start.
So what do you really want?
This is the way that the story was told to me, it is the way I remember it and the way it made sense, it still does. I don’t know this actually happened or not, but it doesn’t matter, it puts the lesson into perspective. It will tell you the tale in the same exact way; after all it is one of the most important rules of all time.
The stock market crash of 1929 and the great depression that followed was undoubtedly one of the most horrifying and impacting things to happen to a people, ever. By 1933 it had reached its peak. Most of the pictures that we are familiar with from the “Great Depression” were taken during this time; the soup kitchens, the lines of unemployed people seeking a meal, the apple vendors. 1933 was indeed a very bad year for many. Not everyone was affected, however. “Most” of the rich from Wall Street is not the same as “all” of them. There were a few who weathered the catastrophe and they may not have been as wealthy in 1933 as they were in 1928, but they were still “people of means”.
The story takes place during this time. Among the hardest hit were shoe-shine boys. No one thinks about this much, but shoe shine boys were as much a fixture on Wall Street as stockbrokers and bankers, after all, during the 1920’s, walking was still the method of transportation of choice and on Wall Street, this meant looking sharp; a tailored suit and shoes that were shined to a mirror gloss on a daily basis by the army of shoe shine boys lining Wall Street.
In 1929, to be exact, a new product was patented and put to market. It was called Shinola. It was a shoe polish with a wax base that gave birth to the “spit shine”. Within a year of being introduced, even during and after the crash, it became the only shoe polish desired by anyone who could still pay for a shine. By 1933, however, the army of shoe shine boys sat idly, their shine boxes, rags and brushes ready, but not one cent with which to buy Shinola. They simply did not know what to do and so they took to assembling in the mornings near the Northwest end of Wall Street, where it meets Broadway. They assembled quietly and just sat throughout the day; during the time that they would normally be shining shoes. At the end of the business day, they would head back to wherever it was they called home, with nothing more than what they had in the morning.
By the same token, the few wealthy Wall Street gentlemen simply went without their beloved “shines”. One day, during this time, one of the shoe shine boys decided to not walk up the street to where all of the others would be waiting with an ominous silence. On this day, this one particular shoe shine boy decided to walk the other way, and he walked. He walked until he got to the Brooklyn Bridge and kept walking. Back then, there were still cow pastures in Brooklyn, even though it is hard to imagine nowadays. The shoe shine boy walked until his feet hurt and then he sat down. He put his shine box on the ground as sat on it like one would sit on a crate. It was only then that he looked up and realized how far he had walked. He looked in the direction from where he had come and could see the Manhattan Skyline. He turned to look around and realized that he was in a vacant lot with some grass and a few cows. The cows looked at the boy with a bored expression as they chewed. Directly in front of where the boy had put his box on the ground, he saw a fresh, steaming and aromatic “cow patty”. For a moment, he thought that if he had taken two more steps before stopping and sitting down, he would have stepped right into the pile of dung. He sat and stared at the pile of shit; there was nothing better to do anyway and this way he did not have to share his misery with anyone, he could take the full brunt of how bleak life was. So he sat, for an immeasurable and uncounted period of time, just looking at the pile of dung and then suddenly, like a bolt of lightning, he had a strange thought. In some ways, the cow manure reminded him of the one thing he so needed and desired; the instrument with which he practiced his craft; Shinola. He stared at it and stared at it and thought;
-“They’re almost the same color, and from here they could even have the same texture.”
That’s when it occurred to him. He looked left and right so as to make sure no one was watching and reached out. He grabbed a handful of the cow shit and swished it around in his hand, thinking. He wasn’t sure exactly what he was thinking just yet, but he was thinking. After a while, he just couldn’t take it anymore, he had to try and see what would happen so he scooped up some of shit in his Shinola tin, took his rag, dabbed it in the brownish goop and shined up the tip of left shoe (it was all that was left that could be shined). He used his best moves and lo and behold, the poop gave a great shine, in fact it was so good that for just a moment, he could swear it was the shine that only Shinola could muster and for just a moment, he believed it. That was all it took. He filled up his tin and two empty cans he found in some trash and whatever else he could fill with cow dung. Once he had all he could carry, he made his best effort to cover up the smell and ran back towards Manhattan, as fast as his feet could carry him.
The next day, the boy’s cries of
-“SHINE! GET YER SHOE-SHINE RIGHT HERE! ONLY FIVE CENTS!” greeted the rising sun, to the great surprise, and joy, of many. Within seconds, the first man to get a shoe shine on Wall Street in almost 3 years, stepped up to the boy and said:
-“Well! Just in time, too! Looks like I’m first!” The man boasted as he hoisted himself up onto one of the high stool-benches that were placed by the very patrons of the shoe shine boys, so that everyone walking by could see them and know that it was they whose shoes were being shined.
-“Coming right up, sir!” The boy smiled back. He took out his rag and his Shinola tin and got to work as if ne’er a day had passed since he last shined a pair of leather uppers. The boy had let the cow dung dry out a bit during the night, and covered the tin quickly after dipping his rag so the smell wouldn’t give him away. Once it was on the shoes, no one could tell the difference. The boy was good; hunger is an excellent teacher. In no time at all, the gentleman’s shoes where like two mirrors, gleaming in the morning sun.
-“There you go, sir.” the boy said, shyly and just for a moment, he almost hesitated, but he didn’t; he reached his hand right out, palm up where a shiny dime landed firmly, almost as if choreographed. A dime! A dime for a five cent shines! None of the boys had EVER been given an entire nickel as a tip before! The boy’s entire face lit up almost as much as his benefactor’s, who slowly got up from his perch, ruffled the boy’s hair and said: -“See you tomorrow, kid.” before continuing his walk; much slower now and making sure to greet everyone he passed. Word spread quickly and by noon, the boy’s hands hurt. He huddled backwards into a niche between buildings, and emptied out his pockets. He had nearly three dollars! THREE DOLLARS! That would feed him, his parents and his two brothers for a week, and it wasn’t even high noon! By the end of the day the boy added another two dollars to his daily total and it was only then that he realized that he has shined one hundred pairs of shoes and could expect the same every day! He loved that cow manure!
One by one, the other boys approached him, simultaneously in awe and shock. The boy looked at his friends coming towards him and reacted; covering up his tin and protecting it, like a prized treasure. One boy asked: “Where’d you get the Shinola?” The boy hugged his box tighter and said “Leave me alone, all of you! You’re not going to take it from me!” He ran off like a bolt, straight home and fell right to sleep, exhausted.
The next morning, he gave his mother $4.50 of the $5.00 he had made. People say that she cried tears of joy for a solid month. He kept fifty cents, thinking to buy a supply of Shinola and continue his journey towards his good fortune. On the way to the general store, he thought; “Wait a minute! Nobody knew the difference! Why should I spend this money on real Shinola when the cow shit is free, after all, they do the same thing!” He turned the other way and went to the Candy Store and had himself a Malted Milk with two scoops of ice cream for breakfast! He had actually believed his own lie.
The boy shined another 100 pair of shoes that next day, and 100 more for each day after that for 5 days. His grin was so wide it challenged the great breadth of Broadway itself. Everyone was HIS regular customer and he was only shoe shine boy on Wall Street, all thanks to cow’s four stomachs and what they left behind. He would run to the field in the late afternoons, filling up his tin with more of the precious brown goo that had made him so happy. Yeah, it wasn’t really Shinola, it was better than Shinola! He laughed to himself all the way back across the Brooklyn Bridge.
Now, all of this took place in late July, did I mention that? Oh, yes, it was the dead of summer – and a hot one. Manhattan was hotter than anyone wanted to even guess at, and then some. The few rich men who had been getting their daily shines from the boy paraded themselves back and forth on Wall Street; to their meetings, their lunches and dinners, their offices and their homes. None of them were the wiser; no harm, no foul thought the boy. The summer sun thought otherwise however, and after five days and five layers of cow shit on all of those shoes it began, to cook – actually to bake. Baked cow shit on leather; I don’t know if I can even imagine what that would smell like.
On the fifth day after shining his first pair of shoes with the manure, the benefactor of that shine was having a luncheon meeting with another businessman together with their respective wives. They were in the fanciest restaurant around, high noon on a Wednesday. The place was packed with the few businessmen left in a country gone bankrupt. At exactly 12:07 pm. The caked on dung on that first man’s left shoe, where the first dab of cow shit was so carefully applied five days before, finished baking and cracked, a slim plume of heat escaped from the crack, rising higher from the ground. In seconds the other shoe also cracked and a plume of shit-steam began to rise from it as well – and then another, and another! In ten minutes, the restaurant smelled like an outhouse. When it no longer became possible to ignore, it was that first man to have his shoes shined who spoke first. He threw his napkin on the table in a fit of rage and gave his lunch companion the foulest stare he could muster and blurted: ”Well, Sir! I never…” The sheer insolence of the accusation brought the other man to his feet immediately and he retorted “What say you, man? Me? Look to your own loins for the source of the stench, non to mine!” Almost immediately, the same scene played out at virtually every table, and the few rich men left in America, found themselves having a knock-down, dragged-out bar-type brawl in the fanciest eatery on the Lower East Side.
Back to the first man, the one who got the first shine and who started this brawl, he received a jarring left hook that floored him. The man landed with a THUD, right at his opponent’s feet. After recovering his wits, he realized he was no more than two inches from the man’s shoes and saw the cracks that had formed where earlier there was the shimmering mirror-like shine. The man took in two enormous breaths of the stench before recognizing it and screamed; “Bull Shit! This man shined his shoes with bull shit!” and laughter roared from his belly. It spread quickly too, calming heated tempers with the thought of a man resorting to bull shit to shine his own shoes! That lasted for about thirty seconds before every other man realized they were in the same predicament. The laughter suddenly came to a screeching halt and a dumbfounded silence hung in the air – no one knew what to say, they had all played the fool that day. Once again, it was the first man who spoke: “The shoe shine boy! We all got our shoes shined from him; he’s the only one out there! He’s made fools of all of us.” The men stormed out of the restaurant and straight towards the boy’s spot on the side of the road. When the boy saw the literal stampede of men coming at him, he didn’t have time to even react. They were upon him at once and literally kicked the boy’s ass all the way to the Brooklyn Bridge where they warned him to never show his face on Wall Street again or they might just forget he was a boy. He was never heard from again. His first customer was ridiculed by all of his peers for being the first sucker to buy the cow shit shine and the ensuing lambasting ruined him and few others as well. These were tender times, after all, there was a Great Depression going on – but not so great that an entire city couldn’t stop to laugh at one man who could not tell the difference between the cow shit that was used to shine his shoes and the Shinola that he thought adorned them. Sure, you could hardly tell the difference in the shine. In the end, they both shined your shoes, but one of them is SHIT. No one is allowed to make that mistake, ever. And so it was that it came to be that to know the difference between shit and Shinola is one of the more important things, literally or metaphorically, that we must all never forget.
That is how I head the tale, one warm day in December in 1973; I now give it to all of you. Share it if you like, remember it or forget the story, but never forget the lesson. Shit can imitate many things, but in the end, its shit and we know this from the onset. Remembering this will save your life; more than once, without fail.
I always say that we can do better. Maybe this is a start. I love you all; all 7 billion of you.
I’m not supposed to write while I’m writing, but this was irresistible. Today, my five-year old daughter asked me a very interesting question after her daily communication session with me. Most people would probably laugh if they were to actually observe any one of these sessions and attempt to correct my perceived misspeak by saying; “Communication what? You’re just teaching her English!” English? Now that’s funny! What’s English? I’m not sure that I would recognize actual English if I heard it, in fact it’s hard to pinpoint exactly when we warped and twisted what used to be referred to as ”The King’s English” into the absurd jargon that we call English today. I most definitely am not teaching my daughter English, to me that would be like teaching one’s own child where to stab a person so that it kills or where it only causes trauma: it would be perverse. I’m teaching my daughter how to communicate with other people; one certainly can’t communicate with another person by using English! Everyone knows that you only use English to confuse or antagonize others but never to communicate; that’s what money is for. Do you see? You’re already paying more attention at its mere mention.
Apologies, I digress; back to the point, namely my daughter’s question, which was: “Dad; if the prefix in- means “not”, then why does the dictionary say that the word “indifference” means to not care or to consider something unimportant? That’s not what “not-difference, or not-different” means. According to the rules, indifference should mean that there is no difference in something – like when making a comparison, even though it’s easier to just say that one thing is the same as another instead of saying that it’s indifferent from another –that sounds like too much work! So what’s the word that should be used to mean that someone doesn’t care? There’s got to be a word, Dad! This doesn’t make any sense!”
A few minutes later; after the pride, amazement and wonder subsided a bit, I contemplated the question and replied;
“You’re right, honey; it doesn’t make any sense. That’s because it is the wrong word, just as you figured. The word that should appear in the dictionary in the same place where you now see “indifference” is “indeference”. The problem is that if you try to look up the word “indeference”, you won’t find it because it is a ‘forgotten word’; we simply forgot, for some reason, and replaced it with “indifference”, maybe because they sound sort of the same, who knows? In this case the formative prefix in- is added to a noun to form another noun representing the effect of a negative force on the original word. The word “deference” means ‘to show respectful courtesy” as to character or to be ‘respectfully submissive” as to a point of conversation or debate. When the prefix in- is added, the result should be “indeference”, but that word doesn’t exist in the dictionary; instead the definition of “indeference” is what appears as the definition of “indifference”; which means some else entirely. Do you understand now, sweetie?”
She looked at me with eyes that would make Puss-n-Boots envious and then she asked me:
“Buy why, Dad? Why would we do something like that?”
I sighed, and with compassion and clarity, I answered my daughter’s question:
“Because in the end, sweetie, we are nothing more than a bunch of punk-assed sissy bitches and straight-out pussies who would gladly admit that shit and shinola are the same, as long as they didn’t have to get up or do any thinking. The human race has become but a sad whimper when compared to our potential and we forget words just like we forget to care or to participate. It’s possible that humanity has forgotten so many things that no one believes that they can make a difference anymore.”
My daughter looked me straight in the eyes and lit up with awe and understanding. She jumped up and down and with jubilation and excitement shouted:
“Of course! That’s it, Dad! Now I understand! We just got the words mixed up! “Indifference” should mean ‘to not be able to make a difference’ and perhaps everyone feels that way because they forgot that feeling that way IS indifference and what they thought was indifference is actually indeference! Right, Dad?”
It was my turn to be awe-struck. I couldn’t decide if it was just the innocence of a child or flawless logic that inspired my little girl and it really didn’t matter, she blew me away. All I could do was to look at her and say: “Maybe, sweetie; it just might be exactly that.”
She served up that look again; its power is irresistible and with every ounce of strength she could muster, she made the “please” gesture with her hands and said:
“So why don’t’ you just explain that to everyone, Dad? You’re the best explainer in the whole world! Every time you explain something to me, I understand it right away! Please, Daddy, everything will be okay if you just explain this to everyone!”
So I am.
Thank you, honey, for helping me to remember what it means to be human. I love you.
Source: Dictionary.com Unabridged
verb (used with object)
1175–1225; (v.) Middle English cha ( u ) ngen < Anglo-French, Old French changer < Late Latin cambiāre, Latin cambīre to exchange; (noun) Middle English cha ( u ) nge < Anglo-French, Old French, noun derivative of the v.
1. transmute, transform; vary, mutate; amend, modify. Change, alter both mean to make a difference in the state or condition of a thing or to substitute another state or condition. To change is to make a material difference so that the thing is distinctly different from what it was: to change one’s opinion. To alter is to make some partial change, as in appearance, but usually to preserve the identity: to alter a dress ( to change a dress would mean to put on a different one).
3. replace, trade.
10. vary, mutate, amend.
18. transmutation, mutation, conversion, vicissitude.
25, 26. replacement.
10. remain. 18. permanence.
Source: Collins World English Dictionary
— vb (sometimes foll by to or into ) (when intr, may be foll by into or out of )
[C13: from Old French changier, from Latin cambīre to exchange, barter]
Word Origin & History
early 13c., from O.Fr. changier, from L.L. cambiare, from L. cambire “to exchange, barter,” of Celtic origin, from PIE base *kamb- “to bend, crook.” The financial sense of “balance returned when something is paid for” is first recorded 1620s. Phrase change of heart is from 1828.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
money. (See also and change.) : It takes a lot of change to buy a car like that.
Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions by Richard A. Spears.Fourth Edition.
Copyright 2007. Published by McGraw Hill.
Dictionaries are so cool; they’re keepers. Look at the slang definition!
Now, you know what it is, there’s no need to be afraid of it.
Several times a day, sometimes more, I’ll read somewhere or hear from someone that “the real estate market is bouncing back” or that “home prices are stabilizing” or some other similarly sounding statement. Interestingly, it’s always accompanied by a burst of emotion that I can only compare to lust. This is, as I understand, what many of us want, I guess it’s supposed to make us feel safe in the face of the change we are experiencing – something that can only be called “self-genocide” (sic) and that “things will return to normal”, where “normal” is that little tiny corner of a closet somewhere in this world where most of us allow ourselves to be kept against our will, fed a diet of bullshit and sugar and given 20 lashes whenever any one of us generates an original thought.
I wonder if any of the people who make statements like this have any idea of what they are actually saying. It’s no different than having someone – anyone – walk up to you and proclaim with excitement and glee: “Hey! Did you hear? Slavery is becoming popular again, it just might make a comeback!” Yes, slavery is what I compared this to.
…What was that?
…Am I a communist?
LOL. Of course I’m not a communist, silly; there’s no such thing, besides, none of the “isms” work, remember?
…Why do I write this, you ask?
I write this because it’s simply the truth. Of all of shit that we’ve done to ourselves in the last 12,000 years of “civilization”, the only thing shittier than giving someone a “mortgage” would be to sell them as a slave. Nothing else that we’ve done comes even close to being as unacceptably fucked up than to sell people, against their will, as property. The mortgage, however, is a real contender for the title; it forces someone who may want a home of their own to buy the money required to pay for it at $10.00-$20.00 for every $1.00, (i.e.: Hi! I’ll sell you a dollar for ten dollars) over the average 30 year term. This, of course, is crowned with the “cherry” of letting mortgage-holders speed up time and sell a mortgage, at maturity value, within 24 hours of issuing it. This is one of the things that got us here.
Imaginary omnipotence is incredible, isn’t it?
Think about it, it’s about time we did, wouldn’t you say?
We can do better.
These are all things that definitely will not work to provide a solution to our global crisis; so what will work? We simply haven’t come up with that yet, but we CAN. We can do better.
Okay, let’s continue being serious for a moment about GOLD. The gold phenomenon, as I like to call it, is very closely tied to the events that led to where we are today, which can accurately be described as a cluster fuck, but on a planetary scale. If we take this disease that is killing the human race (because our idiocy has become a disease) and boil it down to the simplest possible explanation, it would be this: When we developed trade and commerce and an economy, it was good – very good; we shouldn’t forget that the human race went from being little more than a handful of half-starved nomads always moving and looking for food to having excesses, luxuries, slaves, titles, position and properties in the span of a couple of thousand years. After 250,000 years of looking for food and water all the time, this was the blink of an eye. Civilization, as it were, was gourmet fare for the human ego, which ate it up with gusto; the way only we can: by gorging on what felt good now without giving a second thought as to…well, as to anything. We just kept heading in the direction of MORE! Why should anyone think that we could run out of anything – the first 3,000-4,000 years after the Neolithic revolution was phat! There was plenty for everyone, in fact we wouldn’t come up with the concept of poverty for some time; remember, you have to be free to be poor and you would be surprised at the percentage of the human race that were slaves and for how long. We acted without thinking, planning or considering the consequences. Doesn’t that sound familiar? It was the same 12,000 years ago. We may have airplanes and computers but we have not curtailed our insatiable appetite for irresponsibility by even a little. You can count on a human being to fuck something up, and that we did, especially when we picked a metal: gold, to be the raw material for this new thing we called MONEY. Money was such an incredibly addictive and irresistible goodie that it simply froze our minds. No one and I mean no one thought about or worried about what we would do when we ran out of gold. Maybe there was some ignorance involved, but anyone who has ever been in charge of anything since we’ve had money had to have known that people multiplied, quickly, but not gold, in fact every year, it became just a tiny bit more difficult to find new gold. We didn’t need to pinpoint a specific year, but just knowing that at some point in the future it just wouldn’t work anymore because there would be more people needing to use money than there was gold to be money was enough to act on. It’s typical of us. Right now, even at this stage of our descent into who-knows-what, if by some chance a huge asteroid made of pure gold were to pass within range of our rockets and we lassoed that planet-sized nugget of the stuff that dreams are made of, anchored it to the moon, took its measurements, and started to figure out exactly how much hold was on the asteroid, we would get to “more than what we need right now” and just stop counting. Why bother? We hit our nut! We filled up the hole that we made! We would, and we all know it. We would have gold orgies and the filthy rich would become indescribably rich and be happy, and the poor and downtrodden would still be poor and downtrodden but happy because they would still have that shitty job that barely paid them enough to live on – the one that they lost at some point between 3 years ago and today. We would continue to ignore half of all of us – the ones that there was never enough for in the first place and they would continue to starve to death because even though our own stupidity is killing us, we don’t want to change because change requires thinking and actual work and those things make our brains hurt – unless there’s money involved.
So we ignored the math and based our wealth on gold. Fine, so how did the whole wealth thing work? How was new money made? Up until possibly the 1960’s (that’s a guess, but I think a good one) for there to be new money, there had to be new wealth. This requires a quick recap of the history of human wealth. If you recall, the wealth of the world and of nations had always been food, which may very well remain as the only real thing of value in human history, and then we came up with the concept of money to use as a medium of exchange because it was simply too cumbersome and tedious to trade in food directly. We chose gold as the material from which we would make the money that would represent the wealth (food) and be much easier to carry and transact since it is a soft metal and easily formed into coins. Then we got so used to dealing and transacting gold, that we forgot it only represented wealth and, just as Aristotle warned, we confused it with wealth – but no one said anything, we just took it as a given that gold was the wealth of the world and when food came up in conversation, it would quickly be referred to as a commodity, usually in the futures market – yes, futures, as in; not yesterday or today, but the future, you know that thing that we can not predict but for some strange reason can buy and sell. This continued and evolved until trade and commerce became so widespread (because we love to fuck and reproduce like rabbits) that a sub-category of money had to be created: currency (including paper money). The first bank notes appeared sometime in the 16th century of thereabouts, in Scandinavia (That’s an interesting story, remind me to write about it sometime.) and it caught on quickly. By the 19th century, paper money was in common used and was valued at par with gold because they were redeemable for gold at just about any bank. During all this time, gold was wealth. Paper notes were portable representations of gold and therefore notes were only printed based on how much gold there was. At some point we realized that the amount of gold was finite; that’s when wealth became a privilege and we began to acquire it by using war or theft or fraud, you know good old fashioned proven techniques. Then, all of a sudden, just like that: there was no more new gold. That was it. All the money there was, was all the money there was, but the human progress train didn’t notice, it kept right on going. Oh Shit! What do we do now! There’s no more gold to make more money! If people find out, it will be a freaking disaster! What to do? What to do? It didn’t take us very long, we figured: what the heck, if we’ve screwed the pooch, then let’s screw it properly! Nobody said anything, not a word, then, suddenly (and I mean suddenly) in August of 1972, the President of the United States of America went on the air (TV and radio) early in the morning, before the markets opened and rattled off a list of “executive decisions” which included: “a 90 day freeze on prices and wages, an immediate 10% import surtax and the severing of the link between the dollar and gold (meaning that one could no longer want into a Federal Reserve bank with a $20 and walk out with however much gold that got them). It got a little attention at the time, it’s getting A LOT of attention now. That single act literally killed the concept that we know as money. The price of gold was fixed in dollars and the US dollar is the reserve currency of the world (gold being the official currency). Here’s the part that we MUST understand if we are to survive this. The link between the dollar and gold was cut, not because of any of the reasons given (which don’t matter); it was cut because WE RAN OUT OF GOLD and someone at some point realized that there were more bank notes floating around that there was gold, not much, but just enough to blow the whole thing to kingdom come if anyone found out. They didn’t have to do it, they chose to do it because the alternative was to do what we’re going to have to do shortly: build a new economic infrastructure. They figures, what the heck? Nobody knew what was going on, it would take YEARS before the decision would begin to stink as it does today, so they cut the link between gold and the dollar and the wealth that was gold stopped at however much there still is. That did not stop us from propagating our species however and developing technology and adding more people every year to that exclusive club made up of people addicted to excess and other people’s envy. We continued forward and our economy GREW. (Screeching record sound) Wait a minute; didn’t I just say that we had run out of gold? How could our economy grow if there was no new gold? No new gold, no new money, remember? But there was new money. Crisp and freshly printed dollars were pouring out of the US mint and currencies all over the world continued to be incrementally printed and introduced into circulation. But how could anyone get away with this? It was easy, we printed money based on new gold that was BORROWED (it also didn’t exist, because there was no actual gold to borrow, that was just how they did the math). This fictitious quantity of borrowed gold didn’t exist; therefore the convertibility of paper currency to gold HAD to be cut – because there wasn’t enough gold, get it? This new “way” of printing money based on the assumption that if there were gold that could be borrowed, we would, but there isn’t, but we would if there were, so we’ll act as if we did and print money based on the value of this new DEBT. And there is was, that’s how the DEBT was born. We owe nobody approximately 52 trillion dollars worth of “borrowed” gold, which never existed but was used to print currency that was spent as legal tender. It was made possible because our banks created this money by issuing, buying and selling LOANS. In some part of our non-functioning brains, it could be said that these loans were what created the “borrowed gold”. At first, loans were made by banks with our deposits; yes, the loan that you had for your car or for anything, 25 to 30 years ago was actually other people’s money, deposited at the bank that gave us the loan. They had permission to do this and, after all, we weren’t using the money, we deposited it, remember? Very quickly however, the banks didn’t need our money, the money that they created by lending out our money and charging interest on it was re-deposited by the banks, and by the 1980’s, they didn’t need our deposits. They were making new money left and right, lending out larger and larger portions of this gold that doesn’t exist to themselves and then transacting money on that DEBT. Our governments told us, “don’t worry about it, we’re good for it, trust us.” Maybe this is why it’s called fiat currency, because fiat means “authority” in the dictionary (sic), but authority is the basis for credibility and credibility is the foundation of trust. You see, the root morpheme fiat also forms part of two words that came from Latin and are used by romance languages: confiar; which is Spanish for TRUST and fiar: which is also Spanish for TO EXTEND CREDIT TO, TO LEND. Wow, is all of this a coincidence? I don’t think so. Am I a conspiracy theorist?; hardly. This is simply what we did. When we ran out of gold and we borrowed the gold that we would need if the gold actually existed, but it didn’t, so the only way to get away with it was to treat the DEBT as real. This would make the “borrowed gold” real, as it were. And they did, and we bought it and theydid it more and we bent over and took it all.
This “debt” that took Greece and Italy from our world (because they are no more) is not real, but it is killing us and it might just succeed. Now if you’re thinking, if it’s not real, then it can’t kill us, then you get detention and here’s why. It’s like WATER.
WATER? Yes, water. We need water in order to survive. Without water, we die, quickly, of dehydration, this is a commonly known fact and the visual image that comes to mind is of a person in a hot and arid place like a desert, dropping dead from the thirst. Scratch that image for a moment and replace it with this one: You are in a life raft, floating in the ocean, lost and adrift. You are the sole survivor of a shipwreck and you’ve been out at sea for two days now, in the raft, in the sun with no provisions left. You start to get thirsty, very thirsty. You become delirious and suddenly you realize Wait a minute! I’m floating in an ocean of WATER! You laugh and you drink and drink and drink and 8 to 10 hours later, your kidneys shut down and you die, of what is essentially DEHYDRATION, because it’s not really WATER, it’s SALT WATER. Oh, they’re both wet, but the salt water is poison and will kill you. The DEBT is our salt water. We ran out of fresh water and just began drinking that salty debt water up in our delirium for more. If you can imagine some math to convert salt water to debt and establish a parallel between the time it takes salt water to kill a person and the time it will take the debt to kill what’s left of the human race, you could say that we’re in the 6th hour of the last 8 hours of our life as we know it. If we keep drinking the salt water for 2 more hours, we DIE, but if we stop drinking the fucking salt water we will have landed on a sandy beach with a beautiful fresh water spring nearby and we will LIVE.
I want to LIVE and I think that you do too. Please, stop drinking the salt water, it’s NOT REAL WATER. If we stop feeding this nightmare called the debt and stop believing that it’s real, then we can just throw away the civilization that we broke and BUILD ANOTHER ONE. After all, whose planet is this, ours or the debts?
We can do better.
Seriously now, it’s already hard enough having to sit and watch us bullshit ourselves to the point of idiocy, but I just finished a tag surfing session and in addition to the usual endless droning about GOLD this and GOLD that, I just saw (for the first time) an article regarding a country that was “repatriating” its gold from the vaults in London and New York where the countries of the world have kept their gold since WWII. The article stated that the decision to repatriate the gold had been made by the leader of the country “in view of the volatile nature of the world’s economy’. That was just a bit much. Up until now, the math more or less indicated that everyone knows that the whole GOLD thing is bullshit, but all of a sudden I’m not sure if I should doubt that math. Is it possible that people actually BELIEVE this shit and are not just playing along because that’s what we think we must do? I don’t know, but it’s scary. Scary enough to motivate me to post this message:
Just in case anyone actually believes that GOLD has any actual value that makes it immune to anything that might happen to the economy or to human civilization, it should be noted that GOLD is actually worthless. It is a fairly unremarkable metal that we selected to use as the stuff that we would manufacture MONEY from back when we decided that WEALTH (which has always been FOOD) should have a standardized measure of exchange to facilitate commerce. We picked GOLD to be the “material” used to manufacture money because it was PLIABLE and we could shape it into coins more easily than other metals. In other words, GOLD became the manufacturing material for money because it was SOFT, period. That’s about all there is to GOLD, the rest we made up and believed. In summary; if the U.S., European or global economy should collapse (they actually already have, but I won’t go against the “grain”, I’ll play like it hasn’t happened yet) then what in the world is that country I mentioned earlier going to do with all of their repatriated GOLD? It’s time for everyone to begin to digest the truth because it is the truth, regardless of how we feel or what we believe and the truth is that there IS no more money. We spent all the money that there was, that there is and that there will be in the next 500 years and there is nothing left to substantiate any math that supports the concept of money. The machinery that moves civilization is running today (albeit poorly) only because we BELIEVE that those little pieces of paper and GOLD are actually worth something, but this hallucination is quickly fading and sooner than we can imagine, MOST of us will have no choice but to face this truth and deal with it. So I ask you: when the MACHINERY that runs the “world”; the one that runs on “money” finally peters out and shuts down, ending commerce and production globally, what can anyone do with GOLD? With no infrastructure in place, there will be no system in place to grow and distribute FOOD OR WATER and in 3 months there will be mayhem. What good will 10 or 11 billion dollars worth of GOLD do when everyone is STARVING? Who in their right mind would trade a can of beans that they found in the back of some forgotten cabinet somewhere for a mountain of GOLD at that point? You can’t EAT the stuff! It’s a freaking METAL, no different than tin, bronze or iron and no more or less valuable than whatever WE decide. It was hard for me to digest, but I did. This means that you can too, because we’re all the same. I know that it’s hard to let go of the world as we know it, but WE BROKE IT and we need to build a new one, so we need to grow up, quickly, or in the simplest of terms, we’re fucked. YOU know this, I know this and we ALL know this. I refuse to believe that we are all idiots, but we are dangerously close to proving that to be true – and that applies to me as well, if we end up screwing ourselves because of idiocy, then that makes me an idiot too. I don’t want to be an idiot.
We CAN do better.