Posted by: Mike Ferruggia | June 23, 2009

Recognizing the Fraud Being Perpetrated on Humanity

Fraud is perpetrated on people all the time, in every day affairs. Some people feel, in order to be successful, they have to lie to you, they have to manipulate you, they have to pull the wool over your eyes. On a grander scale, there are some aspects of the societal matrix that looks to pull the wool over our eyes too, and for a lot of it, we are complicit in our own being fooled because it’s easier to just take it thean to stand up and risk being water cannoned, batoned, or shot. Images are coming out of Iran of a people rising up, gathering courage, being brave, fighting for the rights of humanity, for freedom of expression, for freedom to be. We saw it in America in the sixties with the Viet Nam War and the Civil Rights Movement. We saw it in iconic images in Tiannamen Square. Today, in America, I guess I would say the fraud has benn perpetrated against the American people through the economy and the way one makes a living. The credit card industry is a fabrication of the last, I suppose, 30 to 40 years that has sucked Americans into living beyond their means, and has become a necessary evil because for most, it doesn’t mean living luxuriously, it means meeting one’s basic needs by having to go into debt, and then hit with a series of sucker punches in unexpected fees and interest rates that are usurous and entrapping. And the amorphous industries need us to take advantage of it so that we’ll buy their products that we really don’t need to keep them in business so they can pay their employees who can then go out and buy things they do or do not need.

People like me can be frugal, can do with out cable and a computer and a cell phone and live a semi monastic life in this world, but it sure is hard for a family to get by. I’m not an economist, I don’t understand it all, but I do know it was different back when, remember when, when only one person had to work to support a family, and now two people need to work and they need to borrow money against things that don’t really exist. Do you remember when a modest home cost 12 or maybe 14 thousand dollars? That same house now went for 3oo to 400 thousand dollars, and now people are holding a mortgage wondering why no one wants to buy their home.

There is the risk of religious and philosophical fraud as well, but I’m not pointing the finger at any one religion or philosophy.

How do we protect against fraud? How do we know we even have all the information necessary to make an informed decision? I don’t know. All I know is silence, the heart, stillness, tai chi, knoeing intuitively from the inside. I believe there is a spring of truth that we can tap into and be informed from. It’s taking the time to learn to listen to it and interpret its language that’s the thing.

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Responses

  1. “I’m not an economist, I don’t understand it all, but I do know it was different back when, remember when, when only one person had to work to support a family, and now two people need to work and they need to borrow money against things that don’t really exist.”

    I’m happy to report that this isn’t really true. I support my wife and daughter, and they don’t work. I suppose if my wife did work, and made a salary similar to mine, then we’d be able to afford all kinds of crazy things. But as you point out, there’s no need for that stuff.

    Keep the dumb junk out of your life, and a family can live on one income very happily and comfortably. We don’t have the expense and distractions of things like cable TV or a fancy home entertainment system, and as a result we don’t have credit card debt, either.

    I do have a pretty kick-ass library, though. Adam Smith, in Wealth of Nations discussed the ways in which people fritter away their disposable income. Some blow it on frivolous amusements, which in his day equated to grand parties and numerous servants. Those were the giant flat-screen TVs of his day. Other people blow their money on jewelry, furniture, art, books, etc. Smith pointed out that this was a much smarter way to go. For one thing, when a person who liked parties fell on hard times, he had to cut back on entertaining and dismiss his servants; all very visible and embarassing signs of hardship. When a collector of stuff fell on hard times, he just had to stop collecting for a while; no embarassment there. Additionally, the value provided by a party or a servant is fleeting, and disappears by the moment, while the value of things like furniture and art and books, while perhaps not equal to what was paid for them, are not worth nothing at all. (Coincidentally, I quoted the relevant passage in my latest blog entry: http://alamanach.com/2009/06/23/read-better-books/ )

    This is basically the same today. Our disposable culture buys things with remarkable short usable lives. Even our furniture today– made of particle board and designed to ship flat– can only last about ten years. A collection of DVD loses its novelty as quickly as it can be watched. Nothing we buy is built to last. Our wealth is frittered away.

    I do have a pretty kick-ass library, though. (It’s worth saying twice.) And I built my bookcases myself out of solid wood, not particleboard. There are home entertainment system being installed right now that will be in a scrap heaps decades before my grandchildren need to think about replacing my bookcases, or my books.

    So, there is plenty of wealth to be had from a single income. But as has always been true, wealth needs to be managed intelligently. Modern marketing seeks to subvert that intelligence by an attack on two of the four cardinal virtues: they attack fortitude, and temperance. They want us weak and greedy. Don’t give’em the satisfaction.


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