Entitlements for the Rich, “Post-Capitalism”, “Persecuted Millionaires” and Adam Carolla

Welp, back to work.

Back to punching a clock and slinging boxes.

I’m not bitching. Work’s work. But it’s hard. It’s thankless. And I work with a lot of people that struggle with money issues.

I used to listen to Adam Carolla’s podcast. Thinking back on it now, the man lives in a different universe which is why I quit listening to him. He’s part of that “persecuted millionaire” mindset….constantly whining that he gets taxed too much. Mind you, he’s the king of gripe and seems to embody this “first-world problems” image. That’s what he made his name on.

But the man is 6’2. White. Lives (and was born and raised) in LA. And genuinely seems to hate poor people.

He claims that he was born poor. Which I don’t doubt, but both his parents were (are) college educated. They just seemed to have neglected him growing up. Nevertheless, this seems to be the source of his disdain for anyone that makes less money than him.

Millionaires and billionaires share this common gripe…they get taxed too much. And then you see their 20,000 square feet mansions, their Aston Martins, private jets, private education for their children, and Tom Ford suits and wonder “what am I missing?”. Meanwhile, there are those that work 60 hours a week and can’t pay the rent. The rich bitch about those people, saying “If only they spent their money on other things”. Then the poor sees the rich spending their money of frivolous shit, and wonder why they can’t pay their employees (who actually make the money that goes into the pockets of the rich).

I won’t say that capitalism is a religion…but it certainly mimics it. The “Invisible Hand” as this spirit that makes all things possible. The worship of money that blessed the ruling class over the workers.

The American Doctrine states that everyone SHOULD pursue wealth. Anyone can be made rich, given enough “hard work” and “dedication”…the two pious virtues on which this country was built. In fact, it’s every American’s civic duty to pursue this end. To pursue that yacht, to pursue that private jet. That’s why this world turns.

We don’t need “for the betterment of all”, that’s for the idealists. Progress is only initiated through self-interest. Under this Doctrine, everyone can win.

But someone has to lose.

We can justify these losers in several ways….through an in-house system of economic theory (“there has to be some degree of inequality for economies to flourish”), they weren’t pious enough in their hard work and dedication, or they just weren’t innovative enough.

This doctrine is hard-wired into our Western mentality. Seeing a world that isn’t driven by this capitalist ethic is nearly impossible. John Lennon was right, “I wonder if you can”.

I wonder if I can.

But I think we might be turning a corner. In our post-Cold War world, the stank of Marxism in both communist and socialist forms have lifted a great deal. Especially here in America. It’s hard to believe that Bernie Sanders ran a strong campaign while touting Democratic Socialism.

But these are just more “isms” to grapple with. Or another reason to turn theory into religion. We don’t need a theory to not be assholes to one another.

But back to Adam Carolla.

I appreciate his disdain for things in general. It matched my own crankiness. But I had to quit listening to him when Donald Trump’s campaign picked up. For whatever reasons, it seemed to have made his gripes about taxation much more potent and delusional.

He believed himself more important than everybody in LA because he paid more in taxes.

It’s acceptable to hear rich people get pissed about “entitlements” to the poor. But entitlement to the rich gets glossed over. Adam Carolla, at that time at least, seemed to have embodied this form of entitlement, even though he often bragged about his vintage cars and other frivolous objects.

But what bothered me the most about Carolla was his feelings of self-importance. Like he was providing a valuable service to the community. The man told fart jokes and griped for a living. Not that there’s anything wrong with those things in themselves, mind you, but it’s not like he’s a doctor, engineer, or a producer of any goods or services that benefit his community as a whole.

Jason Stapleton is another example of this. He has a company that teaches people how to use the stock market. Plus he spews nonsense on a podcast.

Again, there’s nothing wrong with these things in general. And I don’t dispute that they work hard to achieve their wealth. But when you work 40,60,80 hours a week doing something you love (yet serves a frivolous purpose) and get to go home in a Lexus to a 40,000 square foot mansion…and then think of a nurse, factory worker, truck driver, etc who work similar hours minus similar benefits…then it makes the gripe about taxation much less sympathetic.

But these are the myths we tell ourselves in this country. The rich are rich because of their own genius. They’re the true movers and shakers of the world. This is why Ayn Rand and other similar libertarian ethics are so popular among the wealthy….because it validates their own selfish pursuits. It tells them that the rich deserve to be rich and the poor deserve to be poor.

Steve Carell said it best at the end of The Big Short. We just look for reasons to blame “immigrants and poor people” (paraphrasing) when we have an economic crises. Although I believe the tide is turning, we have rarely in the past pointed fingers at those have the REAL power…the wealthy.

This might just be a rare occurrence of optimism for me, but I believe that the capitalist ethic has seen its best days. Thanks in part to the information age, the internet, the proliferation of higher education (although I see higher education as a holdover from a bye-gone era, that’s a story for another day), and a host of other factors…we have become more aware of “otherness”, for a lack of a better description. The internet itself has contributed both positively and negatively to this “post-capitalistic” wave. The bombardment of technology has not only made us more knowledgeable, but it has also disconnected us from ourselves and each other.

The pendulum might be swinging towards a more “minimalist” movement, which greatly works against the extravagance and excessiveness that capitalism fosters. I guess the whole “tiny house” fad is an example of this. But when the appeal of consumerism and material gain is taken away, the capitalist ethic ceases to be convincing.

But if capitalism is anything, it’s crafty because it appeals to our worst instincts. It’s probably only a matter of time before it “capitalizes” on this “post-capitalist” movement.

What Did the Poor Ever Do to You?

I had a cushy seat job. Then I got laid off.

Now I’m back to doing what I was meant to do: warehouse labor.

I’ve held managerial positions. And one thing you learn quickly about the job is that it’s all bullshit. You only do things to make the company look good. It doesn’t actually contribute to any sort of “material bottom-line” if you will.

In fact, the higher up the ladder you climb…the more useless you become. Hell, I’d venture to say that the most useless person in the company is the CEO. Yet that person is probably the most expensive item in the ENTIRE COMPANY.

The far more important people are at the bottom. But don’t tell anyone in America that because that sounds WAY too much like “socialism”.

Sure, developers, engineers, planners, etc. all design a “product”. But it’s really just an idea. Technically, you can “own” an idea, but who actually has to execute the plan? Usually, it’s the mechanics and hard laborers that have to execute YOUR idea. And for some strange reason (because America hates poor people), the laborers who actually physically execute the purpose of the company are the low men (and women) on the totem pole.

And it’s because they aren’t “skilled”, even though that’s an idea that doesn’t mean shit. That’s a term that people use to help themselves sleep at night because they’re essentially ripping off poor people.

“So you want to pay people $15 an hour to flip burgers?” Some asshole is asking me.

Yes.

What purpose does McDonald’s serve? Come on, we all know why they exist. It’s to fucking serve burgers to their customers who demand their product! And who is serving those burgers? Is it the CEO? Is it the accountants and legal staff? Is it the developers?

No. It’s the mother fucking laborer that’s flipping the burger and serving the customer. That person IS McDonald’s.

And as a side note, every time I go into a McDonald’s…it doesn’t matter where….yes, there are usually fuck-ups, but guess what? Those assholes are actually WORKING their asses off to deliver YOU a product that you can shove into your fat fucking pie hole. And for some reason, people like to give these employees shit for fucking up an order that will probably only end up killing you later.

But think it through!

What if you were getting paid $7.25 an hour to serve the VERY REASON THE COMPANY EXISTS?

Honestly, I’m surprised people aren’t absolutely PISSED about this. Well, to be fair, there are people who are pissed. But how is this not an international outrage? The people who actually execute the purpose of the company, or the “unskilled” labor force…are the most expendable people in the entire organization.

That’s insane. But when you grow up under insanity, then insanity appears SANE. Which is why minimum wage has failed to keep up with the times and labor unions have dwindled. Because we’ve convinced ourselves that the strongman at the top is the true genius…the REAL shaker and mover of the universe.

And we’ve taken the power out of our own hands.

The CEO might conceive an idea. But does he execute it?

No.

It’s you and me that have to do his bidding. And we accept whatever compensation that he offers.

So again, we’ve convinced ourselves that we aren’t in control…even though an “unskilled” labor force greatly exceeds any “skilled” one. We’ve allowed those at the top of the ladder to peddle their fairy tales of “genius” and “hard work”….that they are the true saviors of modern society because they “sacrifice” capital to employ the labor force that is the majority population.

Capitalism is a religion. And we are being duped.

ANYWAYS….

Even though my cushy desk job was nice, it felt like I “sold out”. It was devastating when I got laid off, of course, but what was that job leading towards anyway? A career?!

In what?! Pretending to work?!

And I got paid WELL above minimum wage to do it. So because I was a college graduate, with a certain “skill set”, I looked the part. And on that criteria, the company felt justified to pay me what they did. Because there is no way they would pay a non-college graduate without a “skill set” to do that job. Even though a perfectly unskilled laborer could have EASILY done that job.

Why?

Because  that job existed only to make the company look good. It served no vital function whatsoever. (Which would likely explain why I was laid off)

And I had co-workers…that did the EXACT same job: nothing. Not only did I have co-workers, I had MANAGERS! What did they manage? I suppose all of our collective productivity of nothing. But someone had to do it. And they got paid A LOT of money to do it. So we had a lot of people getting paid A LOT of money to basically make the company look good which is pretty much a non-essential function of the organization.

Meanwhile, the entry-level employees that carry out the purpose of the company are getting shafted.

Look, maybe the company realized that they were basically flushing money down the toilet and laid us all off. But this just goes to show that just because someone has a fancy title and a fat paycheck…that doesn’t mean that they actually serve a purpose. And in all likelihood they probably don’t.

When I lost that job, I thought that my career was over. But those ambitions were only a mirage. Best case scenario, I would have continued being promoted….higher and higher to the point farthest away from any purpose.

The labor I do now is demanding. It isn’t “skilled”, and some dickhead would probably think that this work is beneath me. And if you think that, then go fuck yourself. But this is REAL work. I’m contributing to the “material bottom line” or to the purpose of the company’s existence.

We may be the “low men on the totem pole”, but without us….there wouldn’t be a company.

Debating Capitalism

 

Frank McCloud: He knows what he wants. Don’t you, Rocco?

Johnny Rocco: Sure.

James Temple: What’s that?

Johnny Rocco: Well, I want uh …

Frank McCloud: He wants more, don’t you, Rocco?

Johnny Rocco: Yeah. That’s it. More. That’s right! I want more!

James Temple: Will you ever get enough?

Frank McCloud: Will you, Rocco?

Johnny Rocco: Well, I never have. No, I guess I won’t. You, do you know what you want?

Frank McCloud: Yes, I had hopes once, but I gave them up.

Johnny Rocco: Hopes for what?

Frank McCloud: A world in which there’s no place for Johnny Rocco.

-From the film Key Largo (1948)

We’ve debated health care.

We’ve debated same sex marriage.

We’ve debated education.

Americans have a knack for debating anything and everything under the sun. That’s what we’re good at. And that’s what we should continue to do. And that’s why this is a great country.

Yet, there is one taboo. Neither left, and definitely not the right, will ever question it. It  dominated our lives. And it dominates our politics.

That is the religion of capitalism.

When it fails, we don’t blame the rich who are actually in control of the capital. We don’t blame the politicians, who have the power to hold the rich responsible.

We blame the poor.

We blame them for not having the right education…for not living in the right parts of the country….for not paying the bills because they’re wasting their money on nonessential things.

THEY are to blame for why capitalism failed.

But what about those who have the capital? The millionaires and billionaires that actually CONTROL the money? They’re not to blame because they’re acting in “rational self-interest.” They’re doing as the “invisible hand” dictates.

The rich MADE their money.

The wealthy made, with their own bare hands, EVERY SINGLE LAST PRODUCT THAT THEIR COMPANY EVER PRODUCED. It was them that HIRED the workforce. A workforce that had the GALL to ask for a livable wage. It’s the rich that are the true heroes of the story. Not the workforce that built their company.

We can’t blame the billionaires

They’re the innocent. The ones that were only supplying the demand. Just doing as the “invisible hand” dictates.

Workers don’t matter, but they hold all the blame.

The poor had a choice. If they want to be rich, all they have to do is choose. And they’re right. We can choose.

We can choose the endless and empty quest for MORE. Or we can choose to stop hating each other. Band together. And rise against those that DO control the capital.

If you want America to be GREAT, then MAKE IT GREAT. Come together to make this a better country. Where we don’t NEED MORE. We just need to hold the right people RESPONSIBLE.

Happy 4th of July!

Middle Management and Aggressive Mediocrity

First off, I need to apologize for talking too much about my overly dead professional career. But it is dead. I’m not expecting a resurrection anytime soon, unless there’s some talent agent that just so happens to read philosophy blogs.

But I did start a new job. And it really sucks….but not in the way you might think.

Have you ever had a dream where you woke up laughing? Am I the only one that happens to? Perhaps that’s a bad example. We’ve all seen Apocalypse Now, right? About the journey into madness?

That’s what my job is like, minus the Vietnam War and Robert Duvall. But the farther down river you journey, meaning and logic cease to be. What’s left is pure madness. And that is what this company is. They don’t produce anything. They probably don’t even make any money. But the company exists only to drive you insane, much like the nature of war itself.

Only my job is hilarious! I mean, I don’t even know what the hell I do! What kind of company operates like that?

Anyways, the basic organizational structure of this operation brings forth many sociological issues. We’ve all seen that video where that teacher segregates her students by eye color. We all know about the Stanford Experiment. Well imagine a company that does the same thing. Not for any productivity purposes. Just for the hell of it. In fact, the more I think about this, the more I become convinced that this company isn’t real. It’s just a covert study by the government.

Members are segregated by jersey color. Yes, I said jerseys. What function these jerseys serve…I do not know….other than the blue jerseys are the “managers”. I put “managers” in quotations because I never really see these people manage. They just loom in the background and look at Facebook on their phones. One would think that managers would be, you know, older. I’m probably older than all of them. 18 year old kids running around claiming to be a “manager”. But they appear to have been randomly handed a jersey and told to just “act like a boss”. They’re not the ones to fear.

The real pain-in-the-assess are the ones in the dark green jerseys. You are to fear them. I suppose we could call them the “supervisors” or “middle managers”. Again, randomly selected. Their one and only purpose: to hand you papers and be a complete and utter bastard. Don’t look them in the eye or else you’ll get a mean and sarcastic comment. These are the whip-crackers (is that how you say it?). You fuck with them, you are as good as dead (probably literally).

Then there are those in the orange and lime green jerseys: the pee-ons. I wear a lime green one. And once again, everyone is randomly selected. There are at least five within this group that are college educated. One even played D1 college football. But they all do the shit work. But there’s a reason why there are two colors at the lower echelon: to divide us.

The dark green jerseys prey on our weaknesses. They want us to turn on each other. As a lime green, I am told to hate the orange. THEY are the reason why WE can’t get anything accomplished. I imagine that the orange are told the same about us. Occasionally a dark green will whisper into the ear of a tenured lime green-orange: you could have this power! Thus forcing the individual into moral crossroads…tearing apart their soul.

This organizational structure is a representation of our own society: The ruling class ominously watching over us, with their attack dogs keeping the lower class in line. So the evidence is clear. I am working for a poorly constructed and asinine governmental experiment.

But really, fuck those dark green jerseys!

It’s proof that when you give people a little bit of power, they go fucking ape shit. But the real important lesson here is what I like to call aggressive mediocrity. Or aggressively reaching for middle management, or some safe profession, and bemoaning those that don’t strive for the same goals.

It breeds contempt and a false sense of superiority.

We all know someone that’s ‘aggressively mediocre. Perhaps you yourself are suffering from this. I’m not gonna lie: I was aggressively mediocre. As I stated before, I went to college to find safety. I wanted to find the soft middle ground of life, where I would neither be poor or possess any ground shattering responsibilities. And I falsely believed that those that didn’t strive for this were idiotic. This is the great and well-traversed path of aggressive mediocrity.

And the truth is, some people will find success. Perhaps great success. But in our capitalist society (as I’m sure Zizek would tell you), not everyone can be a winner. Some of us HAVE to be losers. And in order to find solace in our doomed fate, this capital machine offers a solution to keep the pain and anger at bay: the middle-management profession.

The ruling class and company executives want YOU to feel like you are making a contribution, that you are a valued member of the team. YOU are making decisions that change people’s lives. They give you the title of manager, but that’s only to disguise the real purpose of your job. You are nothing but a sheep dog, there to nip at the heels of the sheeple, to keep the machine running. But you’ll never be one of THEM. Because to them, you are nothing but a dog.

Look, what do you want out of me?

This job kicks my ass, so it’s extraordinarily difficult for me to write philosophy that will kick your dick off. So my apologies for straying away from philosophy in the last couple of posts. But my ultimate point is this: If you’re going to be a manager (or supervisor), and you work in a high-turnover warehouse, it’s probably not the best strategy to be a dick to your workforce on day 1. Just sayin’.

But more importantly: Don’t be a dick!