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OpEdNews Op Eds    H1'ed 12/25/19

After Capitalism: The Gift Economy

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Skip this introduction, it's Christmas!

Capitalism has destroyed the quality of life of most people in the Developed World. We have plenty of stuff, but its distribution is so lopsided that the majority worry about having a roof over their heads, and one child in five grows up in poverty. We have lost connection to one another and to our work. We have lost the sense that our security is collective, and substituted a mad race to acquire enough stuff to insulate us from the coming apocalypse.


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The financial crisis has led many to question the legitimacy of capitalism. The verdict, 10 years on, has not been favourable. In an opinion poll by YouGov , three-quarters of German adults, two-thirds of Britons and over half of Americans believe that, "the poor get poorer and the rich get richer in capitalist economies".

They believe it because it is true in their experience. We can argue about whether it is a problem endemic to capitalism. In my view, democratic governance is needed to rein capitalism in and assure that the wealth disparities don't grow out of hand. This continues to work in some places in the world -- Finland, Norway, China -- but in much of the world, the capitalists have seen how easy it is to take over the democratic governance and neuter the regulators.

I used to think that the guiding star of capitalists was to be as rich as possible, and to that end, they are motivated to keep the economy strong and productive. Every parasite eventually learns that by supporting its host to thrive, it can assure that there is more to steal. But capitalists have not been behaving that way in the last 40 years. Inferring their motives from their behavior, I am led to think that keeping us poor is more important to them than making themselves richer. Why? Your guess is as good as mine, but I'll venture a hint: Most of today's jobs are so grueling and unfulfilling that if people had a decent subsistence without work, they would opt out of the job market and do something else with their lives.


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If we manage to avoid all-out war, the apocalypse will come in the form of collapsing global ecosystems.

Replacing capitalism with something more human sounds like pie in the sky, but in fact it's a foregone conclusion. Capitalism has long ago seeded its own demise. The question remains how far we will sink into famine and violence before we turn ourselves around.

Enough! This is a Christmas piece on a visionary future, and how inevitably we will get there. I won't say any more about apocalypse, or the fact that explosive increases in worker productivity over the last hundred years have led to more desperate poverty than we had in the 1920s.

...and start reading at the solution

It might begin with a renewed Occupy movement, or with Parisian Gilets Jaunes going viral. But I don't think so. My guess is that it will start with a Universal Basic Income -- UBI.

Remarkably, Bernie Sanders and Mark Zuckerberg agree on the importance of a UBI. A growing list of American billionaires now support UBI . It's in their self-interest.

Capitalists need customers. Long after people's basic need have been met, their appetites must be goosed so that they keep their shopping carts full at Amazon.com. For thirty years, American consumers have been acquiring more stuff by going deeper into debt, but at any interest rate north of Zero this can't go on forever. Capitalism demands consumers with money in their pockets. But companies are beholden to their stockholders , maximizing short-term profits, and they can't raise wages if they want to. So they want the government to do it!


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A Transformative Time Bomb

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Josh Mitteldorf, a senior editor at OpEdNews, blogs on aging at http://JoshMitteldorf.ScienceBlog.com. Read how to stay young at http://AgingAdvice.org.
Educated to be an astrophysicist, he has branched out from there to mathematical (more...)
 

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12 people are discussing this page, with 31 comments


Mohammad Ala

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We disagree.

There has been attempts to maximize profits and steal from weaker countries.

In the past military were produced to defend. Nowadays wars are created to sell arms. Selling arms has been a lucrative business for western countries. They are not going to give it up.

Military strength has made stealing land and natural resources possible. Rule of force has replaced the rule of law.

Submitted on Wednesday, Dec 25, 2019 at 9:23:38 PM

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David Watts

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I think everything is by design. They know well what they do and have been doing it for a long time.

This document is a blueprint for how they do what they do. The document describes a scheme of mass public mind control that has been in operation since the 1950s. The document came from the very first Bilderberg meeting in 1954.

From the document, Silent Weapons for Quiet Wars:

Descriptive Introduction of the Silent Weapon

Everything that is expected from an ordinary weapon is expected from a silent weapon by its creators, but only in its own manner of functioning.

It shoots situations, instead of bullets; propelled by data processing, instead of chemical reaction (explosion); originating from bits of data, instead of grains of gunpowder; from a computer, instead of a gun; operated by a computer programmer, instead of a marksman; under the orders of a banking magnate, instead of a military general.

It makes no obvious explosive noises, causes no obvious physical or mental injuries, and does not obviously interfere with anyone's daily social life.

Yet it makes an unmistakable "noise," causes unmistakable physical and mental damage, and unmistakably interferes with the daily social life, i.e., unmistakable to a trained observer, one who knows what to look for.

The public cannot comprehend this weapon, and therefore cannot believe that they are being attacked and subdued by a weapon.

The public might instinctively feel that something is wrong, but that is because of the technical nature of the silent weapon, they cannot express their feeling in a rational way, or handle the problem with intelligence. Therefore, they do not know how to cry for help, and do not know how to associate with others to defend themselves against it.

When a silent weapon is applied gradually, the public adjusts/adapts to its presence and learns to tolerate its encroachment on their lives until the pressure (psychological via economic) becomes too great and they crack up.

Therefore, the silent weapon is a type of biological warfare. It attacks the vitality, options, and mobility of the individuals of a society by knowing, understanding, manipulating, and attacking their sources of natural and social energy, and their physical, mental, and emotional strengths and weaknesses.

Submitted on Wednesday, Dec 25, 2019 at 10:43:02 PM

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David Watts

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I should have put these two links in my comment. If you want to know more about "Silent Weapons for Quiet Wars," here are the links.

"Connecting the Dots." Introduction to Dot1,"Silent Weapons for Quiet Wars."

Dot1: "Silent Weapons for Quiet Wars." Blueprint for Taking Control of the World. Crucial Inside Information.


Submitted on Friday, Dec 27, 2019 at 2:42:37 AM

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Michael Dewey

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Love the idea of a basic income for all. Am living proof you never know who's life SSDI could save. Removing whole SS cap and taxing all income could do more than just be the only way to get back the $-Trillions stolen from it.


There is always going to be some kind of work or learning or arts to do.


I like how John Perkins speaks of transforming out of the currant mutant viral death form of capitalism towards a green life form.




Submitted on Thursday, Dec 26, 2019 at 1:58:32 AM

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Stephen Fox

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Josh, on this Christmas evening, I am so very glad you brought Bucky into your enlightened and incisive discussion.


For me, he was an indispensable and vital influence on my own political evolution, and especially with that quote you selected lending a fundamental optimism to all of the doom and gloom naysayers and all of the "Mutual Assured Destruction" prophesies of the mid 1970's.


Thank you for the refreshment!


If you as a reader haven't seen it or want to learn more, please take a little over an hour and watch this great film by Bucky's son-in-law, Robert Snyder:


The World of Buckminster Fuller (1974)
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Submitted on Thursday, Dec 26, 2019 at 2:29:57 AM

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David Wieland

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"Most of today's jobs are so grueling and unfulfilling that if people had a decent subsistence without work, they would opt out of the job market and do something else with their lives." This bleak view is at odds with my experience and more objective views. While some jobs may fit this description, most jobs in this (or any) time can offer the satisfaction of contributing to a useful outcome. The bleakest outcome I can imagine is short-term survival until a better opportunity arises. But even menial work provides opportunity for development of basic skills, strength (of both muscles and character), and creative efficiency, for example. We are all limited by innate characteristics and our environment, but the strongest barrier to thriving is a self-limiting attitude. The last Buckminster Fuller quote is an excellent reminder that replacing a bad habit is the only way to overcome it. The principle applies broadly how we live.

I'm shocked that anyone living in a Western country thinks an authoritarian state like China provides a more successful model of a system that benefits its non-elite citizens.

Submitted on Thursday, Dec 26, 2019 at 2:55:00 AM

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Richard Pietrasz

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You apparently were lucky in job experience.


Many jobs have been hard, demeaning, and did not contribute to useful outcome beyond the means for survival.


In my career as an engineer, my jobs were usually personally rewarding in compensation and technical accomplishment, but I later realized were not a positive contribution to the world, because I designed weapons of war.





Submitted on Thursday, Dec 26, 2019 at 8:09:11 AM

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Michael Dewey

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The war machine and space trips did help develop all this cool tech stuff we got today. We can transits from the war machine to more peaceful fruitful stuff. I dream of farmers in I-iwe-wa (?) growing hemp as a 2rd crop, with worker owned companies coming from the paper, plastic, textiles and bio-fuel jobs in that depressed state, east of Omaha. The $20 billion a year Mondragon Cooperative of the Basque in Spain is working example we could model them jobs after. Mondragon owns it's own bank that reinvest in itself, I see public city banks doing, and it owns its own collage which trains its workers who each have a vote in how company is run.

Submitted on Thursday, Dec 26, 2019 at 3:47:11 PM

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Chuck Nafziger

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I designed better machines for killing fish. At first I rationalized that I was bringing protein to the table. Then I realized I was making the boat owner richer because he could fire a crew member or two while allowing him to vastly over "harvest" an already stressed resource.

War and extraction are huge, damaging to the Earth and the conscience, engineering fields.

Submitted on Thursday, Dec 26, 2019 at 3:55:40 PM

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Chuck Nafziger

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I too am a fan of Mr. Fuller and all the angular objects in his world. The mind shift that is needed to change today's world get a nudge if we could get out of boxes. Houses and offices that are boxes create cubical rats. There are few right angles in nature and the complexity opens the mind where simple boxes close them. What are screens doing to our ability to think?

Submitted on Thursday, Dec 26, 2019 at 4:59:04 AM

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Michael Dewey

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Was just replying someone today who said "I was out there", that am out to break the box that people think in, even my own box.

Submitted on Thursday, Dec 26, 2019 at 5:19:58 AM

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David Wieland

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Fuller was certainly a creative thinker and stimulated the same in others. I haven't read enough of his writing to be sure, but I imagine he recognized the value of plumb, flat walls for some applications. Besides being much simpler to construct, especially without modern machine tools, they work much better than curved and/or sloping walls for displaying paintings ☺.

Submitted on Thursday, Dec 26, 2019 at 4:18:45 PM

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Chuck Nafziger

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I understand your thoughts. I have a small building in the shape of an icosohedron with the pentagonal floor truncating the bottom five triangle point. Every bookcase or counter put in has to be extensively modified to fit in the room properly. The five triangle roof required a tremendous amount of work to replace, especially since the original builder had changed the pitch about ten degrees at the eave line. Every piece of trim around a window has angles that are a challenge to the most skilled craftspeople. Every picture hung is a reward to problem solving. I love the building and what it does to one's frame of mind.

Square and plumb is cheap and cheats our connection to a complex world.

Submitted on Thursday, Dec 26, 2019 at 6:24:16 PM

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David Wieland

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And this speaks to my original comment, which left out an important point. You've described confronting design challenges and the reward of addressing them. I fully understand that, having faced and dealt with such challenges in building and repairing/renovating structures and in more abstract work such as interacting with clients in designing software and databases. Some of that was paid work but much of it was done without monetary compensation. In all cases, even those involving periods of drudgery, there was reward along way and at the end. (Sometimes the end reward was relief.) :-)

It's having such experience myself and seeing and reading about others experience that causes me to reject Mitteldorf's gloomy view of contemporary work. No jobs in Western society occupy all a worker's time not spent in eating or sleeping. We enjoy at least some personal time to pursue our interests. Obviously this varies by life stage and other circumstances, but it takes a gloomy attitude to feel that opting out of the job market in general is the best solution to challenges.

UBI might be helpful, but we should be wary of unintended consequences. I'm skeptical that it can be the panacea that Mitteldorf suggests.

Submitted on Thursday, Dec 26, 2019 at 9:42:40 PM

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911TRUTH

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If a UBI is instituted it should not include the filthy rich, but only for people who will spend it and not just buy more stock.

And it should not be taxed.

Submitted on Thursday, Dec 26, 2019 at 4:36:37 PM

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UBI isn't a bad idea in itself, but it will be used as a trojan horse right out of the gate managed by the surveillance state and ushering in a social credit system. THIS IS FAIR WARNING - since when has anything done by the establishment been in your favor?

China is the template of cradle to grave techno-tyranny.and the MSM is doing their best to spin this so Westerners consider it an advancement in cyber living, etc. This is why so many shrill articles are currently published on how we're losing the race for 5G.

Many are aware that 'smart' is becoming a euphemism for having a jackboot on you. Activist Post was running a VICE report on China's surveillance system, and YouTube has already taken it down - perhaps too many negative comments.

It's about control - add it up: Real ID, mandatory vaccines, cashless socity. INDIA is going cashless - who would have dreamt up that one?

Recently two of the worst pieces of freedom destroying legislation were up for renewal. Of the Dem candidates in congress, only Amy Klobuchar voted NAY for the Patriot Act renewal. Sanders, Gabbard, Warren were MIA - not voting. NDAA 2019 - Klobuchar, Sanders, Gabbard, Warren all didn't vote.

Wondering about Warren? She's all in for medical tyranny:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=79UlXgoQwGk&t=56s

Warren's staff should do a better job researching - unpardonable 'oversight'"

https://www.facebook.com/groups/VaccineInjuryStories/

Submitted on Thursday, Dec 26, 2019 at 7:25:51 PM

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Jim Glover

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UBI sounds great. But is congress going to pass it and a president sign it after the incredible debate as to how is the government going to pay for it? Think about how hard it is to pass equal pay for women and how the government keeps going more into debt and gets nothing useful for a better life now.

So tell me those who back UBI what are the taxes like in the countries that have it? Are you going to outlaw Coal, Gasoline and all carbon to go with it? Why do you assume it is pie in the sky when you consider the divided government we have compared to the extremely high tax and or limited Freedoms like in China?

Can anyone here explain how to get there based on the reality of divisive politics in the USA?

Submitted on Friday, Dec 27, 2019 at 9:55:25 PM

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David Watts

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Jim, my quick answer to your questions, I don't know. Hope that helps. :)

Submitted on Saturday, Dec 28, 2019 at 8:50:01 PM

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Michael Dewey

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Lets get the churches to stfup with legalistic dogma, cleaning much trash out, and making sure everyone around town is fed for a start. Love Arlo's bring your own god church he cleaned trash out of before celebrating thanks giving dinners that couldn't be beat. But prefer my freemales around pool tables racking.

Submitted on Saturday, Dec 28, 2019 at 9:57:33 PM

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David Watts

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Michael, do you play pool? You are either playing with me or this is just a funny coincidence. This is half of a comment I left on Martha Rosenberg's article about hippies today:

As to hippies carrying a pool cue, I doubt they were custom made. Custom pool cues can be quite pricey and hippies weren't known to have much money. I play a lot of pool and do carry my status-symbol-pool-cue case in and out of the bars I play in. And just like my epaulets, carrying a pool cue case into a bar doesn't seem to impress anybody. My cue is pretty good, but it is not custom made. :)

Humor: Remembering "Businessmen" and Hippies

By the way, I have not a clue what this means, "But prefer my freemales around pool tables racking." :)

Submitted on Sunday, Dec 29, 2019 at 6:20:24 AM

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Michael Dewey

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There's a good pool league crowd around here in Fitchburg. Been back 2 years from playing 3-cushion in Cafe's around Antwerpen 2011-17, when Marie was still here. Doesn't get better for an American pool player to be able to say that. Took it as a compliment to be put in as a 550 in the fargo rating system. Got a few friends over 600 and pro's start around 700.

I was playing with a 50 euro carom cue, I know break with, but girl friend worked out a deal for me to get a 300 buck predator cue, designed for low deflection. I put carry them both in this 10 buck soft camouflage case. Players around the city have these 30 pound cases with multiple cues and shafts. My 2cue set up weighs no more than 2.5 pounds.

But I need this lady to rack for me to play and win at 600+ that players want to play at.


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May have been implying to pull out the church seats and put in pool and 3-cushion tables they could cover up for daily Thanks Giving meals that couldn't be beat.

Marty Stuart sings lyrics in his "Badlands" song, "And there's a church without a steeple but in the heart of it's people good will come again to these badlands." Marty's idea of "religion" works for me. As does Arlo's bring your own god church. Somebody has got to save the church, it has the foundation of doing so much good if it could just stfu and feed people.

Submitted on Sunday, Dec 29, 2019 at 12:32:30 PM

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David Watts

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Same here in South Denver; pretty good pool league crowd. I never played three cushion billiards but I remember the scene from the movie The Hustler. Paul Newman (Fast Eddie) ran into really good pool player and went to his house. His 9-foot table had a cover over it. They decided to bet a lot of money. Then, when the cover came off, it was a billiards table. Fast Eddie had never played billiards and maybe had never seen a billiards table. So, Eddie was getting beat for a while and was down a lot of money. But as they kept playing Eddie was getting the hang of it and ended up winning a lot of money.

I play with a maybe six year old Schön cue. I also have another Schön cue that was one of the originals that was custom made in 1984. I never take it out anymore to play pool, pool cues get stolen and I would hate to lose it.

I was not familiar with the Fargo rating system but just checked. 550 means you are a really good player. I am a SL6 in APA which as you would know stands for any pocket assh*le because slop counts. I also play in a TAPS league.

Get this. APA has 270,000 players in the US, Canada, and Japan. There is a really top notch player around here. He won an APA Vegas tournament. Afterwards when he was being introduced they said that out of 270,00 APA players, he was ranked at #3. When it was his turn to say something, he said, I guess the two players above me must be pretty good. :)

Submitted on Monday, Dec 30, 2019 at 9:19:33 PM

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Michael Dewey

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City has some left overs from 14.1 round robin tournaments back in the day. I got in at end of this stuff in 80s, back in my 20's. There are a few+ very good players who could beat anyone in a set. (Maybe I still could too.)

Promoter (Rich Lawyer & teacher.) is getting Efrin Reyes here next month.

Here is Roger, class act 170 ball 14.1 and trick (Not stoke!) shot great guy to still bang balls around with.

Still a great private club can call home.


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Submitted on Tuesday, Dec 31, 2019 at 8:32:37 AM

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David Watts

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Reply to Michael Dewey:   New Content

I have played very few games of 14.1. And I have played just a few games of one pocket. That's neat, Efrin Reyes coming to town.

A while back I came across video of an Efrin Reyes, Earl Stickland match in Hong Kong in 1996. Actually it was a set of videos. It was a three day 9-ball match in a race to 120. I only watched some of the video from early in the match and some about in the middle of the match. Strickland had built up a big lead. I watched the last video and Reyes came back to win by three games, 120 - 117. I just checked and I guess they called the match, "The Color of Money." They had a girl like the one in your picture above racking the balls. She did not have red hair. She was Chinese.

I realized I can beat the best players in the world in one game. All I have to do, is break and run. (Does not happen often for me.)

Submitted on Thursday, Jan 2, 2020 at 5:04:26 AM

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Michael Dewey

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Reply to David Watts:   New Content

Never a great player but have beating some known Pros in Tournaments around New England. But that was back in another life, when they let me drive sober. High run of 56 in practice is cool, as 2 50's and outs too. A man who qualified for a National 14:1 a could years ago said this after a 4th place finish, "We confidence anyone can beat anyone." I just play now be out an about with the far younger league crowds, so they know am for real, with paper News Letters pass out along the way, in spirit of Woody and John Appleseed, a local hero, who was born around here. I still can make some damn great shots and get out a fair amount of time. (I'll read you article another time. Looks like we going to another war.)

Submitted on Friday, Jan 3, 2020 at 4:30:33 AM

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David Watts

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Reply to Michael Dewey:   New Content

Well, its easy to see you are a better player than I am. The way I play, I can make some great shots too. Its just that I don't put many together very often. Don't know if I said this but, for coming up on nearly a year, most of the time I don't put my bridge hand on the table. By accident one time when just knocking balls around, for some reason I just laid the cue in my fingers on my 'cupped' left hand above the table for a shot and thought, this feels pretty good. It is like carrying a light weight pail with relaxed fingers; instead of the handle laying across the fingers, it is the cue. It is very steady and the cue slides back and forth easily. After trying it a few times, I do like it; that is the way I bridge for most shots. Plus, it seems to get into other player's heads. I used to fairly frequently hold my normal bridge above the table and have seen others do it once in a while just to be able to hit over another ball. But doing it with a cupped hand is something I have never seen before and would guess that maybe, nobody ever has ever done it before; at least not to the point of doing it all the time. It is kind of fun.

Submitted on Tuesday, Jan 7, 2020 at 3:22:21 AM

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David Watts

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Reply to Michael Dewey:   New Content

Michael, just thought of this. You might be interested in this article I wrote:

Take a break from all the stuff going on. Grateful Dead, Cairo Egypt, 1978

.

Submitted on Monday, Dec 30, 2019 at 9:50:52 PM

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Jerry Lobdill

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I have been studying our monetary system, who it serves, who it victimizes, why, what reinforces the predatory nature of it, etc., for many years.I am writing a book about the system and the prospects for transforming it into a system where no one is impoverished and production and consumption are balanced to prevent economic predation by the 1%.

The key feature of such a system is Modern Monetary Theory with guaranteed employment for the unemployed in a government-financed program for maintenance and improvement of the commons.

This idea is not original with me, nor is it pie in the sky. It is proposed by distinguished economists such as Stephanie Kelton, L. Randall Wray, Michael Hudson, and a growing number of others of equal eminence.

My book will serve as a first handbook for the 99% for learning why the present system works as it does and what must be changed. It will also propose a plan to build public support for the coming economic crisis that will serve to make the transformation possible. My book will not use complex terms that only professionals understand but will be written for Main Street citizens.

If you have interest in this idea and want to learn more about it, I am planning to start a blog soon. Please send me your email address if you would like to be notified when the blog is available. My email address is lobdillj@att.net.

Submitted on Thursday, Jan 2, 2020 at 2:15:41 PM

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nelswight

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Reply to Jerry Lobdill:   New Content

Jerry, I follow you, regularly. I like your stance economic-wise with Randall & Mike at UMOKC. You're still thinking well after New Years Eve. Wish you the best in this coming year. I agree with Dave on the greeting 'Happy New Year'; it may not offer the opportunity even with good weather in Texas. Cheers!

Submitted on Thursday, Jan 2, 2020 at 6:01:03 PM

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Jerry Lobdill

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Reply to nelswight:   New Content

Thanks, Nels! Ha, ha! (re New Years Eve) I well know what you're referring to. I've been a teetotaller for about 30 years. Before that I used to be a pretty fuzzy thinker on New Years day (and many others, too)

I hope your new year is a happy one as well. (God help us if it's not better than 2019!)


Onward!

Submitted on Friday, Jan 3, 2020 at 7:51:10 PM

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Jerry Lobdill

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I have been studying our monetary system, who it serves, who it victimizes, why, what reinforces the predatory nature of it, etc., for many years.I am writing a book about the system and the prospects for transforming it into a system where no one is impoverished and production and consumption are balanced to prevent economic predation by the 1%.

The key feature of such a system is Modern Monetary Theory with guaranteed employment for the unemployed in a government-financed program for maintenance and improvement of the commons.

This idea is not original with me, nor is it pie in the sky. It is proposed by distinguished economists such as Stephanie Kelton, L. Randall Wray, Michael Hudson, and a growing number of others of equal eminence.

My book will serve as a first handbook for the 99% for learning why the present system works as it does and what must be changed. It will also propose a plan to build public support for the coming economic crisis that will serve to make the transformation possible. My book will not use complex terms that only professionals understand but will be written for Main Street citizens.

If you have interest in this idea and want to learn more about it, I am planning to start a blog soon. Please send me your email address if you would like to be notified when the blog is available. My email address is lobdillj@att.net.

Submitted on Friday, Jan 3, 2020 at 8:47:42 PM

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