AYN RAND

 

Ayn Rand was born in Russia and educated at the Russian universities while Bolshevism was flourishing. She witnessed her entire family being murdered by the Bolsheviks when she was age thirteen. She managed to flee Stalin’s reign of terror and defect to the United States through some family connections here. She fell in love with America and began writing literary pieces and plays. Her most famous book was “Atlas Shrugged,” a fictional work about a world where altruism was the prime mover of the government, and the heads of states disallowed any form of personal profit or financial gain by the individual.

She was a rabid opponent of any form of self-sacrifice. Under her model, the individual was supreme and everyone should kneel at the altar of the self. During the 1950s the American universities considered her ideas and writings buffoonery. She was a joke that no one took very seriously. However, at the exchange of the decade and into the 1960s she began to gain traction, then faded, and became a little known shadowy figure in the 1970s. The 1980s ushered in a new era and Ayn Rand began to swell in politics. Some of her chief admirers were Ronald Reagan (Rand may have influenced Reaganomics?), Paul Ryan, Glen Beck, and a number of other prominent political figures.

I find it interesting that her disciples keep hidden a number of well documented facts about her. One of her biggest fans is Anton Leve’, head of the church of Satan in America. I don’t consider this much of a recommendation when one of your biggest admirers is the devil himself. Never the less, her followers are loyal. Apparently they don’t care about the devil and his beliefs. They also do not tell anyone that she is the Goddess they turn to when political decisions have to be made. Scholars and I mean the real ones, not the ones who appear of FOX news, NBC, MSNBC, CBS or any of the other networks, consider her political system to be Totalitarian Anarchism .At her funeral, Allan Greenspan laid a reef in the form of a dollar bill on her casket. Probably her most famous supporters that surged on a reactionary front, was The Tea Party movement.

I believe we are in a cross fire between a Randian political system and a Bolshevik revolution. It is my sincere hope that Donald Trump can generate a cessation of the political hemorrhaging. On the one side, there are those, who like the devil, have no compassion for their fellow human beings, and on the other, there are those who take pity and make it a passion, very much the bulwark of communism. C.S. Lewis once wrote that if we take pity and isolate it from the other virtues like justice, love, ect., that virtue is transformed into a vice and we become a cruel and treacherous people. If one looks closely he/she sees her hand of influence in post modern America. There are a number of states that have laws against giving a hungry person something to eat and fines associated with feeding homeless people. Rand would cheer at such a law.

Rand believed that the individual didn’t need anyone but himself. In other words, all failures are the fault of the individual and there are no other controls that can preclude success. I suppose the Good Samaritan should have told the injured person he found on the side of the road to pull himself up by his boot straps, and then walk away. This Samaritan not only helped the man to a place of care, but paid his emergency room visit as well. Solomon didn’t seem to think that individualism was a panacea, “men are trapped by evil times, and the race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong nor does wealth  come to the brilliant or food to the wise, but timing and chance happens to them all” (NASV). Rand’s selfish manifesto will lead us into absolute chaos and deride our constitution. I admonish the reader to look a little closer at her writings. I was once trapped by her allure. Even if Rand’s twisted world view were true, what kind of world would it be without compassion or connection to our fellow human beings? C. S. Lewis puts it into perspective, “Your neighbor, next to Christ, is the holiest object that will ever be presented before your eyes.”

Her influence on Religion is subtle, but ever present. Today’s churches will throw a loaf of bread at you, something that Rand would greatly disapprove; however, they no longer visit people and develop strong bonds with each other. This would come into Rand’s radar of rigorous individualism. John Dewey, the most prolific American philosopher, once differentiated between “doing for, and doing with.” There is plenty of “doing for” but low on the measurement scale is “doing with.” I don’t know what it will take to change the minds of Americans, but I do know it will require a collective effort. The hyper individualism will not replenish the bonding, social capital so desperately needed in America.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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LABOR RELATIONS IN AMERICA

                     A TRIBUTE TO FRANLIN DELANOR ROOSEVELT

I am hesitant to write about labor relations in America for fear of being branded a “liberal” which nothing could be further from the truth. Because I don’t belong to any orthodox system of politics, people find me a difficult person to read. What I am interested in, is not so much orthodox politics, as I am in truth. I think the faulty premise that often your average person, or third semester philosophy student, falls into, is, because X is false therefore Y must be true. In other words, if X is false then everything Y says has to be the absolute truth. Never is this more present than in presidential elections. Regardless of what party I am a member of, I vote for the person, and not the party that represents that person. In this age of American nastiness and mean spirited people it is easy to allow intimidation to rule over you.

So the reader can understand I do not use social media as my source of information. I don’t care for Journalists who believe they are scholars in an area they have not studied or spent years surveying social trends, and then turn around, and write a book on a subject they have put very little effort into. I agree with Donald Trump, “They are TV scholars.” I am a reader of books. Whatever value the reader may find in my writing, if any, just know that I am not sourcing from the TV. And if I do source from the internet, it is an area that I have been formally trained, and/or I have read books about the subject beforehand. I am not a fan of American pop culture, pop psychology or pop theology. If I was forced to brand myself, I would have to write that I am closer to an old FDR social democrat or paleo democrat. My friends tell me I am someone who has stepped out of the Eisenhower era. Such were the views of my grandfather.

This introduces the subject of labor relations in America. President Roosevelt signed off on the “Wagner Act” which was a part of his new deal. He was attempting to stabilize labor relations, which, at the time, were a tumult in America. The “Wagner Act” gave people the right to unionize and access to collective bargaining. As a result, the middle class was born in America. Prior to this, much the way it is today, there were only two classes, the very poor, and the very rich. The “Wagner Act” created an atmosphere of competition between the private sector and the unions, causing private industry to raise their wages equal to that of the unions in order to compete for workers. This created a robust economy and a gregarious middle class. The corporations, unlike today, became friendly with the Unions and were able to work with each other. The corporations and the people amalgamated to protect both of their interests. This is a wonderful example of true democracy.

I find it interesting that Republican Party members are always hawking about the value of competition, and yet somehow, are offended at people “Competing” for a livable wage? Unions are a part of American tradition and have been in our country for over a hundred years. They too, like their democrat counterparts, want to abolish American traditions. It seems that we, as Americans, are moving towards a third world country where the citizens live an impoverished life and have a shorter life span. Given the fact that most people can not afford the high deductibles, due not to wage stagnation, but wage deflation, makes  a cleaver pathway for a country to euthanize its citizens through the faulty healthcare system.

This is not a utopian theology, communism or class warfare I am advocating. The bible says, “The Lord delights in the balancing of the scales.” (Apparently Mr. Roosevelt knew his bible) There is such a concept as fairness that is not communism. In the book of Acts there was the sharing of the goods. The people who had material goods shared with the people who did not have. God clearly approved of these kind acts. Although this was a onetime event, it served as an example for people to help when they can. When Christ fed the multitudes, he was aware of the parasites that were only following him for a free meal, and had no interest in his message. Creating a fair labor system where everyone benefits is not enabling dependency or parasitism. Under such a system, EVERYONE IS WORKING, just so my republican friends can understand the logic.

To be sure, there are corporations who pay a fair and livable wage, two of which I have previously been employed, Peavey Electronics, and Wilson World Corporation. Such corporations are where unions are not needed. Mr. Wilson I have already mentioned elsewhere. Hartley Peavey was the founder of Peavey electronics. He made a variety of musical amplifiers, vocal projectors, and guitars. When I was 21 I worked in his speaker plant. Hartley perhaps paid the highest wage in Mississippi. The work environment he created, unlike today, was non hostile, and very pleasant. One could bid on jobs across the spectrum of his massive company, and achieve higher pay while making a lateral move into an area where there was greater work satisfaction. I like to think Hartley created a company that had something to offer for everyone. He was keenly aware that higher pay, good working conditions equaled greater productivity. The proof of his formula was in the numbers.

At that time, there was no available science to back up Hartley’s economic theory. Today, there is overwhelming scientific evidence to support Hartley’s, and Kemmons Wilson’s social/pay structure. Both of these men made enormous profits, and at the same time, took care of the people who helped build their empires. Tolstoy seemed to support such a paradigm, “For every palace, there are a thousand people who built that palace by the sweat of their brow. The same chance that made you Solomon today can also make you Solomon’s slave tomorrow.”

What is interesting about today’s corporations and government entities is all the science has emerged that supports the economic philosophies of Hartley and Mr. Wilson, yet such are vilified by both the democratic and republican parties.

That year the union representatives came through and secretly distributed cards to all of us. Hartley got wind of this and set up a companywide meeting to address the issue. In his address to all 6,000 employees that day, Hartley warned us that if we organized any union, he would shut down his operation and there would be no jobs. What he was not aware of, we had already thrown all of our union cards in the trash. There was no point in organizing a union in a company that treated us with such high value.

Some scholars believe America has transitioned into an oligarchy, from the Greek word, ὀλίγος or oligos, meaning “few.”The post modern term, plutocracy, is often used in its place. Under this system all wealth and power is concentrated in the hands of a few. I don’t need to explain how far away an oligarchy is from what our founding fathers had in mind. Had they have been resurrected in today’s America, I suspect they would be abhorred, and horrified, wondering what happen to their constitution they had drafted.

If one listens to the cultural overtones, he/she will notice the oligarch language on various, social media outlets. For Example the term, Job Creators, (We’re the ones who create the jobs. We’re the ones you owe your puny, paltry, little existence to) has a messianic, elitist tone to it, a title my former employers from the 70s decade would have never used. American Exceptionalism is another self- aggrandizing descriptive. Exceptional people don’t go around telling everyone about their exceptionalism. Truly exceptional people do not know they are exceptional. Someone else should use this term if he/she believes the other person has admirable qualities.

Working in the modern workforce of America is emotional slavery. Upper level management may not take a whip to you, however, I can attest they will threaten to do this and they will surely meter out the psychological torture through emotional manipulation. I suppose if your employer sees himself as a God like figurehead, you may expect to be treated accordingly. Fallen man does not make a very good God. He doesn’t know everything, albeit, in this age of big self-esteems, he believes he is omnipotent.

So, here is the denouement, either pay Americans a livable wage while offering a non-hostile work place, and thus, bring back the middle class (I think this is Donald Trump’s vision), or the unions will once again flourish in America, and the oppressors will be forced to raise a middle class where all Americans have a chance at the American dream.

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A TRAUMATIZED NATION

Trauma on an individual level will manifest signs of severe anxiety, depression and isolation. When one thinks about trauma on a national level the symptoms are not very far apart from the individual. This is because a nation is actually composed of individuals. It is difficult for one to inoculate himself from events that swirl in his social space.

One of the chief characteristics of the traumatized individual is his/her emotional numbness. A kind of psychological immunization is deposited into the human psyche once a traumatic experience has been inculcated. When danger is approaching this person is so desensitized he/she may not hear the warning sirens sounding off inside her head. This is the reason victims often continue to remain victims. In a very real sense, his/her intuition is damaged.

In his book, The Gift of Fear, Gavin De beck goes into detail explaining this phenomenon and sites many examples that differentiate between a faulty intuition and a fully functional one. De Beck makes it clear that real intuition has a scientific basis and isn’t just based on feelings. If one’s logic has been wounded through trauma he/she will have difficulty recognizing danger when it approaches.

The bulk of the damage stems from emotional frailty, and excessive self doubt. One must be confident in his own logic and thinking to effectively utilize his God given intuition. This does require faith, but it is rational faith.

The Gift of Fear is a brilliant piece of work and excellently written. One example I will site from the book to illustrate the difference between faulty and healthy judgment. De Beck tells the story of a women who  entered her apartment complex late one afternoon. Little known to her, she was being stalked. After getting inside the door with her groceries, a man emerged from out of no where right on her heels. She was startled and dropped one of her bags.

When she bent over to pick up her items that had spilled, he immediately inserted himself into her space and offered to  help pick up the groceries. When she refused, he told her she shouldn’t be so prideful, and allow herself to take his help. The more she tried to refuse, the more he insisted.

She felt so guilty about not taking this kind man’s offer, she let him assist, and even went so far as to allow him into her apartment. He was very clever in his manipulation and effectively used guilt as his vehicle for entry into her private world. What happens next is a very frightening scenario.

No sooner than he put the bag down on the table, he grabbed her and dragged her back to the bedroom, and raped her. At this point, her intuition became fully functional. When he was finished, he got up and shut the window near her bed and said he needed a drink of water from the kitchen and would return in a minute.

The intruder closing the window sent the intuitive message that he was about to murder her and did not want anyone to hear the noise. She tells the story of being right on his heels while he walked into the kitchen without him even knowing she was there. When he turned to enter the kitchen, that was when she exited the apartment door on the opposite side. She called the police and when they arrived, of course, he was gone.

I believe we are witnessing emotional carnage that has never been seen in the generations of yester year, very similar to what this women experienced on an individual level. Due to the all out assault on our American values, I fear that many Americans are traumatized, and have become emotionally numb to the drum beat of danger. The difference is, unlike the woman I just described,  I don’t think many Americans’ intuition has yet awakened.

However, all is not lost, like the woman whose intuition was awakened through a life experience, so America’s logic can be recovered through  traumatic life experiences. I had a friend of mine who always took the moral high ground with divorce and re-marriage. He was dead set against it until his wife divorced him, then, all of a sudden, divorce and re-marriage met with his moral approval.

Still, another example unfolds when a friend of mine who was happily married, used to frequently remind me that all I needed was God, and did not need anyone else, until he went through a nasty divorce, then suddenly, God was not all sufficient for his needs either. He became deeply lonely, and depressed. His intuition became keenly sharp after that experience, and he was able to sense other people’s suffering. As I have written before, you never know what it is like until you walk a mile in a man’s shoes.

The disarmed intuitive process is most likely due to the slow rise in traumatic events occurring in the country over a long span of time . I don’t need to site the evidence of our socially depleted country. The examples are readily available for the reader to find. There is a concept called critical point phenomenon, and when applied to drug addiction, it shows a slow sneaky rise over a long span of time followed by a disasterous high rise over a short span of time, with a sudden plummet to the bottom.

America has not yet plummeted to the bottom, but we may be caught in a vortex of the slow sneaky high rise to the top without knowing it.

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MIRACLES

There has been a drastic high rise of theological empiricism in recent decades across the religious land scape of America. The axiom of empiricism (science), sensation, needs only the five senses to extrapolate knowledge. When you hear someone accuse another of being sensational, it just means there is a heightened  appeal to the senses.

Highly evolved scientific societies like ancient Greece, Rome, the former USSR, revered a political view that made science the center of their world. In such a world where experience (sensation) casts is primal influence, all knowledge is filtered through the senses and there can be no other knowledge that exists beyond this realm. As a result, those countries became pluralistic. It is the only logical conclusion that can be deduced from a sense based consciousness.

This paradigm then creates an inertia that will ultimately impregnate the religion of that country. My theory is, this is what we are witnessing in the post modern church of America. There has been a decisive shift from Luther’s sola scriptura to sola experientia. The hermeneutic is sweltered inside our sense data base and our perception craves sensation and experience for validation.

Therefore, it is no wonder that the main line denominations in America have all but collapsed. A 500 year reformation has closed its doors because it can not tolerate a world of sensationalism. An intellectual feat such as The Institutes by Calvin could never be re-created in the religious culture of today. The power of the intellect would be greatly diminished if overshadowed by a strict, reductionist’s, empirical belief.

The over developed emphasis on sensation subdivides the intellect and reduces the deductive powers of the mind. Thinking does not feel (at least it doesn’t to most people) as well as sensing and experiencing. Inside the mind, independent of experience, levies all of one’s concentration on using his intellectual prowess.

If one traverses the theaters and dares to view some of the modern Christian movies, or attend the local churches, he will witness bizarre scenes; non-fictional stories of people coming back from the dead and publishing a book about it, healing events, chairs being thrown around, in short, sensational events. One also finds, the pastor’s sermons are irrational and have no logical train of thought.

Because experiences are personal, no one can prove or disprove an experience. There would have to be some objective standard of judgment. An experience stands on its own merit with nothing more than an anecdote to support it. It is no wonder that people crave them, because real life has a tendency to be boring and un-eventful. Sensationalism creates excitement and raises one’s emotional thermometer.

Who wouldn’t want to attend a healing meeting and be relieved of the sickness?  Unfortunately, much of the healing that occurs at            these healing revivals are those illnesses that are not organic. Heightened levels of excitement can alleviate ones pain that is not pathological.

Emotions that grow out of a one time experience have no roots and the excitement that one receives will last only as long as the memory of that experience.

One interesting development is the revival of speaking in tongues with in the church. This phenomenon does not even follow the example that is often quoted from the bible in Acts 2:2. When context is applied, there is logic to the passage. The people at that time were from various nations and were hearing the message spoken in their own language.

The Greek words for “unknown tongues” is heteros glossa. Heteros is the derivative of our word, hetero, for example, hetero sexual, or “other” sex. Glossa is the word for language. heteros glossa should be translated as “other languages.” The Pentecost phenomena has far more to do with understanding the message and content than what it does with experiencing something. Jesus said, “a wicked and adulterous generation seeks a sign.”

The controversial passage in 1st Corinthians 13:8, New American Standard Bible: “ Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away.” is often misunderstood in today’s church, however,  the meaning of the passage is clear in the Greek language. The word for “cease,” or “fail,” is katargeo which is in the perfect verb tense/continuous action, and means “to be done away with, or discontinue.” 

A different verb (encapsulates a similar meaning as katargeo) is used for “have sinned” in the passage “For all have sinned and fall short…” All “have sinned” (Aorist tense, past time point action) and “fall short” (present tense and continued action).

Since katargeo is continuous action, the question becomes, when will tongues be done away with? The answer lies in the legitimacy of what is in practice today compared to the passages recorded during 1st century Palestine. The same could be said of miracles. The Corinthian passage where Paul wrote that he spoke in tongues privately still uses the Greek word glossa, which I have already written, means language. He spoke in a language that he most likely understood. There is no empirical evidence that the tongues in today’s church are congruent with what is recorded in the Corinthian passages, or Acts.

 Certain gifts are no longer needed. They serve their purpose and outlive their usefulness. While God does not change his methods do. If one reads the new testament, in the earlier letters, the apostles are able to heal, but in the later letters, they are not even able to heal their own sicknesses.

If it is true that people of today have the gift of healing, then why don’t they go into hospitals and heal people. What would we need the practice of medicine for if faith was the only barrier standing in the way between humans and cancer? Why are the so called “tongues” babbling that neither the person speaking them nor the hearers know what is being said? What purpose does it serve? Does it make people feel good? So do many other things that are not “tongues.”

The reason they are called miracles is because they do not happen very often. Any “miracle” that was an every day occurrence would not be classified as a miracle. The proposed argument is a reductio ad absurdum  Be careful about what you are asked to believe. If it does not make sense, then you should always question.

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THE RUTHLESS AMERICAN WORKFORCE

Among the many atrocities that plague our nation, one stands out, that much is written about, but rarely spoken of, in or outside the work place. A number of states are considering anti bullying laws. It has become such a phenomenon, that work place abuse has now caught the attention of law makers.

I remember an experience I had with an agency I worked at over a decade ago. That year the swine flew had emerged and was feared by everyone. As fate would have it, I was the first case in my state. I ran a 106 fever and it was the most sick I can remember.

I called my boss that Monday morning to let him know I had caught the swine flew over the weekend and would not be able to work. He immediately began to accuse me of lying and playing hooky, even after explaining to him my temperature, and the seriousness of this illness. He quizzed me for about 10 minutes trying to catch me in a contradiction. With no progress in convincing me that I only had a cold, he finally ordered me to come to work, or else.

I dragged myself out of bed, burning up with fever, got dressed, staggered out the door, and went in to work. I felt like my head was going to explode with heat. It was the toughest work day of my life, but I managed to finish the day, came home, and crashed. I told him that I would be out the rest of the week. I think when he saw me in person, he knew I was not lying.

In one of the gospels, there is a story told of the Roman Centurion who came to Jesus to heal his slave of a fever. Jesus  immediately granted the centurion’s request.

Roman Centurions had a reputation for being the most ruthless men in the roman army. They achieved their position and power by moving up through the ranks. There was one present at the crucifixion of Christ. It is a curious thing that this centurion was much less ruthless than my own boss, living in a, so called,”democratic” country, and yet demanded that I come to work with a fever, possibly, higher than  that of the centurion’s slave, and having perhaps a sickness, from one of the worst flu epidemics in our country.  It was believed to be so contagious, that the doctor told me to wear a mask that covered my mouth when I was out in public. I guess there is more compassion found under Roman Fascism than in post modern America?

Even more astonishing were my co-workers who acted like I was nothing more than a gnat flying around the room. One might think they would have been afraid of catching the swine flu?

Many have heard the archaic illustration about the frog in boiling water. As it is told, the frog is put in water and the heat gradually increased that  he doesn’t feel a sudden change in temperature and jump out of the pot to prevent boiling to death.

I use this example because much of human behavior mimics the frog’s reaction. This may be a clue as to why one set of behaviors would have been met with a vehement reaction in a different time period, and yet seems quite normal today. However, not everyone stays in a pot of water and boils to death. There are those who will jump out when they feel the temperature increase. The former are much more adjusted to the culture than the later.

Totalitarian societies do not appear over night. They evolve over decades and sometimes even centuries. The sudden appearance of a such a society would generate mass revolt. People have to be systematically sensitized for political systems like Fascism and Communism to succeed.

I recall one mental health agency where I worked, I was required to meet weekly billing standards. The supervisor and her brood of vipers tried to arm twist me to back date charts, a clear violation of ethics. When I refused to cheat the tax payers out of their money, I was branded the self righteous rebel who just didn’t understand the company’s spread sheet. The pressure was enormous because I needed my job to survive, and to my knowledge, I was the only one in the center refusing this directive. Though it claimed to be a non profit organization, the company proliferated the myth that it could not survive with out the billing requirements. It reminds me of what George Karlin once said, “If you throw honesty into the American economy, the whole thing will collapse.”

This created a divided conscious within myself generating strong emotions that made me feel I was the one who was in the wrong, and yet, simultaneously knowing that it was the fault of the  company for its fraudulent activities.

Never the less, I continued to refuse in the face of immense coercion. The polarized subconscious conflict finally resulted in a physiological reaction creating a conversion disorder with me. I ended up in the hospital emergency room. My supervisor called to check on me and made an implication indicating she hoped that I would die. I guess I was in the way of her bonus by not meeting the billing demands?

My supervisor’s behavior was deemed perfectly normal in the minds of the staff. Though I am no fan of Ayn Rand, whom I will write about in another essay, one quote from her book, “Philosophy, who needs it?” comes to mind: “Your subconscious is like a computer; who programs it? your conscious mind. If you do not reach firm convictions, it gets programmed by chance, and you deliver yourself into the power of ideas you do not know you have accepted.” Surely this describes the collective conscious of the agency where I was employed?

Employers must not be aware of the scientific data. Bullying and workplace harassment cost companies nationwide some 200 billion dollars annually in sick time and absenteeism, not to mention the loss of tax revenue through disability claims.  Historically, bullying has been deemed a male problem, however, in an article posted by Psychology Today (July 10th, 2013), it is more often female supervisors who rain down a torrent of abuse: “One recent study, however anecdotal, suggests that female supervisors make some of the worst office bullies, mistaking assertivness for aggression as they make outrageous demands or mistreat their staff.”

That same issue reports a deep state of denial of how severe the problem really is among employers: “There is a fair amount of denial, rationalization, and even tacit acceptance of this issue, which is troubling, as in, “Yeah, Dave’s the office bully, but he sure can sell our products and the customers love him” or “She’s a bully for sure, but we need her project management skills when it’s crunch time.” The American employers flatter themselves with rationalizations by blaming the victim:“Some of our employees are just too sensitive,” they say, or, “We don’t need a ‘champion employee’ around here, seeing injustice and mistreatment everywhere he or she looks” (Psychology Today, July 10,2013).  I suppose employers would say that a woman who has been raped  is being overly sensitive by reporting the incident?

To make matters worse, the people who commit such uncivil acts fancy themselves as being “goody two shoes,” even in the face of the overwhelming evidence that indicates otherwise. The problem with the narcissist, is her impenetrable psychological wall that can not be breached. The key players in the toxic system are, conspirators, coconspirators, enablers, and lastly, victims, of whom which, suffer the most. Everyone else is allowed peace, tranquility, and the pleasure of enjoying their job.  It is going to be difficult to legislate our way out of this problem without a change in the American Psyche.

After having been in the mental health professional for 20 years, I have yet to find an agency that operates with scruples. The experience might be similar to watching birds fly backwards. I surmise that this system of employment is not only known to mental health, but is vast and expansive in the American work force. I could site many examples such as the ones above from my work experience. There are too many for the purpose of this essay and they would require a book to contain them all. The heart of the matter is captured in the old Russian proverb, “the fish rots from the head down.”

 

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WHOSE FAULT IS IT ANYWAY?

In social psychology, the fundamental attribution error, also known as the correspondence bias or attribution effect, is the tendency for people to place an undue emphasis on internal characteristics of the agent (character or intention), rather than external factors, in explaining another person’s behavior.”

The chief sin of Ayn Rand was fundamental attribution error. In a passage from her book, Anthem, she wrote, “I am sovereign! I am sovereign! I am sovereign!” While the rigorous individualism is noble, it negates any compassion one might have for his fellow human beings. After all, what is the point of empathy for someone who has control of absolute reality over his life? No matter the odds, everyone can hurdle the obstacles, and if you can’t, then it is your own fault. Jesus said, “there are many stumbling blocks in this world, but woe to the one through whom the stumbling comes.” Apparently, he thought someone could make you fall, regardless of how much individual efforts you might muster up. A crude example might be, “you can breathe air in outer space with out a space helmet, you just have to figure out how.” If two people sprinting across the top of the empire state building leap into the air, and ones says “fly! fly! fly!” while the other says “fall! fall! fall!” Regardless of what they both say, a certain destiny awaits them at the bottom.

Fundamental attribution error is probably the most common social offence in today’s America. One never hears, as my father once told me, “you never know what it is like until you have walked a mile in a man’s shoes.” This brings us back to Aristotle’s blank tablet theory. If man is born a blank tablet then all of his knowledge is absorbed through the culture around him. The logic proceeds to demonstrate that if this were true, then man’s individualistic efforts would always create success, and there would be no possibility of failure if he applies himself in the right way. Ultimately, man would be at the center of his universe, and in control of every aspect of his life, leaving nothing to chance. Who could possibly have any empathy for someone such as this?

Empathy wouldn’t be necessary. It would have to be eradicated from the human psyche. Perhaps Americans have become a hoard of callous, narcissistic brand of people?

One example of the attribution error is a man out of work who has been genuinely trying to find gainful employment. From a observer’s point of view, he may think the man is lazy. However, what if the economy, and particularly his trade, is not in demand any more. The observer commits fundamental attribution error. It is like trying to tell the coal miners to get their lazy selves up and go to work. There is no coal industry. How can they?

If it were you who was out of work and knew that you were putting forth your best effort, you might empathize with the man who  couldn’t find work? In Rand’s later years, she developed cancer and was forced to take Medicare insurance to pay the medical bills, a program that she despised. Her books were not selling well enough to support her medical problems. When she didn’t need Medicare, then the program was a great evil because, in her mind, it robbed people of their independence, and did not allow them to pull themselves up by their boot straps. Yet, it was ok for her to take Medicare when she needed it, just not anybody else when they needed it.

The most quoted verse in the bible by Americans is, “judge not lest ye be judged,” yet someone how we have become the most judgmental people on the planet earth. Another example comes from the bible where a man begged the King to forgive his debt. When it was granted, that same man, after accumulating money, loaned some to a friend, and when the friend could not repay the debt, he had no mercy to forgive, and yet, summoned the officials to throw his friend into debtor’s prison.

This American mentality leaves much to be desired. The King, when he found out what that man did, became so enraged, that  he threw him into prison, and not to be released until every cent of the debt had been paid. Even today, there are a number of states that now have a law against giving a homeless person food. There may come a day when the people who support that law are hungry. As long as “whatever happens to you, doesn’t happen to me,” prevails, people will always be blind.  A system that worships individualism precludes how that system collectively forges individual choices. Again, Solomon explains: “The race is not to the swift, or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise, or wealth to the brilliant, but timing and chance happens to the all. Like fish caught in a cruel net, so men are trapped by evil times that suddenly come upon them.”

“The actor-observer bias is a term in social psychology that refers to a tendency to attribute one’s own actions to external causes, while attributing other people’s behaviors to internal causes. Essentially, people tend to make different attributions depending upon whether they are the actor or the observer in a situation. The actor-observer bias tends to be more pronounced in situations where the outcomes are negative.”

I have written about the over emphasis placed on the individual. There is the other extreme whereby an over emphasis is placed on the social conditions that surround the individual. However, on that same note, depending one which end of the spectrum controls the operating system, a totalitarian society will either squash the individual and leave him powerless, or raise the individual to such heights, whereby a social Darwinist society will emerge that concentrates all the power in the hands of a few.

Solomon explains: “I looked out upon the land and saw the tears of the oppressed, but there was nothing they could do, because power was on the side of the oppressor.”

In psychology there is a term called “learned helplessness.” This is a concept that describes someone who is able, and the opportunity is available, but will not make the effort and allow others to carry his own weight. Actor-observer bias places too much responsibility on the collective and not enough on the individual. Keep in mind, that these concepts, I am writing about are only valid in a truly free society. Under a society of despotism, all of this goes out the window and does not apply.

Real freedom requires a system of checks and balances; the bulwark or work horse of our constitution. Unfortunately, we see both ends of the continuum, actor observer bias, and fundamental attribution error, in our post modern world. There does not seem to be a ballast that assists in creating a sense of homeostasis.

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SOCIAL CAPITAL (the changing tides in America)

When I was growing up in the 60s my father was the General Manager of a 5 and 10 store in downtown Cleveland, Ohio. I remember one night when he came home and told us the story of a young Lebanese man who came into to see him and asked if he could open up a record shop inside his store. My father roped off a section at the front of the store and made Dennis a place where he sold his records. Dennis did so well that after 6 months he was able to move out of my father’s store and rent his own building to continue the record business. With in a few short years he opened up record stores and dispersed them all over Cleveland. He became a millionaire. I do not remember my father ever charging Dennis a single dime for the space inside his store.

One snowy night Dennis came driving up to our house in a brand new 1952 Cadillac collector’s addition. It was a two tone with baby blue on the bottom and navy blue on the top. It had hydraulic windows and the tail light opened up with the press of a button on the bottom part of the light where the gas cap was located.

I still remember that night to this day. I was only 9 years old. The snow was falling steadily and had blanketed Cleveland with a florescent glow that lit up the night. Dennis asked my father if he wanted to go for  drive in his new Cadillac. He needed his opinion on how the car drove. My brothers and I begged father for a ride with them. We sat in the back seat while my father drove and Dennis sat on the passenger’s side in the front seat.

The car had a new smell to it and when the Cadillac rode across rail road tracks, it felt as if we were floating on air. We must have drove all around down town Cleveland that night. When we pulled up in our drive way, my father put the car in park and stared down at the steering wheel gloating with desire. Dennis asked my father, “well what do you think John?” Father sat motionless with his head still down, silent for a moment, and then raised his head to face Dennis, “Man! I have wanted one of these my whole life!” Dennis answered, “Well, it is yours, keep the keys. I just need a ride back into Cleveland to pick up my car.”

My father even tried to give the keys back to him. Dennis was not having it. He put up both of his hands insisting that father take the car. My father was finally able to retire his junk 1952 Rambler for the car of his dreams.

Next Christmas, Dennis sent us a Styrofoam Christmas tree full of one hundred dollar bills rolled up and stuck inside the tree. He continued to do this every year.

The movie “Walking Tall” about the Tennessee sheriff who cleaned up McNairy County had made a box office hit in the early 70s. At the time, we were living in Corinth, MS. in the County next to McNairy. The main Character in the movie, Buford Pusser came walking into the store my father was managing. He had a truck full of the carved sticks that he used in the movie to restore order. He ask my father if he could sell them at his store. My father let Mr. Pusser place the sticks in front of the store and did not charge him a single dime.

I write this to show the diminished social capital in America. The above stories are just two of many. One would be hard pressed to find a business person today who would let him even place a product in his business, let alone, make a personal profit. I am in the vending route business and I have to hire a company to place the vending machines. I received a quick education when I tried to do this myself. The business owners either had no interest, or demanded an unreasonable percentage of my small profit, part of which, goes to fight children’s cancer. Even knowing this up front, few of them are willing to help. The locating company are professionals and they tell me it takes 30 calls just to find a business that is interested in placement of the machines.

Two of the social capitals are “bridging capital” and “bonding capital.” Bridging capital links groups together with a common denominator, like careers, or interests, ect. Bonding capital links people together based upon a deeper connection that is sometimes called the super glue of relationships. America seems to have available large quantities of bridging capital, however, people are no longer bonding in these groups which may be a clue to why attendance is often diminished over time. When ever the availability presents itself, the group lacks the cohesiveness to sustain its life, and often, rapidly disintegrates.

Putman’s book, “Bowling Alone” illustrates this: It was, however, neither a novelist nor an economist, but Yogi Berra who offered the most succinct definition of reciprocity: “if you don’t go to somebody’s funeral, the wont come to yours.” He goes on to explain: Even more valuable, however, is a norm of generalized reciprocity: “I’ll do this for you without expecting anything specific back from you.” Such was the case of my father who expected nothing in return.

I remember when I went to work for my father’s company at another store. The manager of the store, at the meetings, always asked us, “What’s the best way to get up the ladder?” and answered, “pull someone else up the ladder with you!” This attitude was common in American life decades ago, not just in the world of business, but especially in the world of relationships.

Today’s society the norm is not “pull someone up the ladder,” but “kick someone off the ladder and enjoy watching them hit the ground.”  I was a beverage manager for one of Kemmons Wilson’s hotels. He was the founder of Holliday Inn, and invented  popcorn in the movie theaters. He was also the wealthiest man in America at one time. He let all 500 employees eat from his buffet’ for free during the week, and this included crab legs, home made banana pudding, ect. It was a first rate meal that Mr. Wilson thought nothing of giving his employees.

Be warned, the greed heads are alive and well in America. They have a bottom line that will be met even at the expense of your life. There is no appreciation for your hard work. They will take all they can from you with very little in return and then tell you, “just be glad you have a job!”

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