Economists: Hold your breath or wash your mouth out with soap

“If you really think the environment is less important than the economy try holding your breath next time you count your money”

Guy McPherson

 

I think we need to wake up to the economic myth and relegate it back to where it belongs.

The so called leaders in our society trumpet the economy as the paramount thing that needs to be sustained. At the cost of the environment. At the cost of people who are socially and economically excluded. At the cost of any animal population. At the cost of water that is safe to drink or air that is fit to breath.

We are mind controlled into a way of thinking about the economy as if the economy where a living breathing thing, like a starving child, when it is just an abstract concept. Totally abstract. Completely intangible.

To those self important few herding us like cattle, those who say the economy is the most important thing in community life I say:

“Liar, liar pants on fire!!”

An economy is just a structure that provides a means for us to experience leisure, pleasure and sufficience.  Unfortunately greedy men have manipulated this system and manipulated the discussion around it so that the average man, woman and child accepts gross environmental destruction as a necessity to maintain ‘the economy’.

Interestingly in generations gone economy had a totally different meaning. Being economic was associated with being a spendthrift, with reusing or recycling. With making do without market place solutions. Now being economic is associated with excessive consumption and with the production of massive amounts of personal refuse buried and forgotten.

Why did we let these greedy guys take us here? Why don’t we discuss this in public forums? Why aren’t we protesting in the streets to relegate the economy and transform to a system that supports everyone and protects the natural world that permits our life?

I’m sure you know why and it’s a sad sad state of affairs.  Really really sad.

The true reason is a story of fear, distraction and what can be achieved on a global scale through bombardment of state sanctioned bank industry propaganda. Because we are told these lies so regularly every day we cannot see through them to the truth.We become conditioned to think any of the alternatives are extreme, irrational and unrealistic.  But isn’t the course we are on extreme?

 

 

The triggers for transforming your roof into a part-time job

“The use of solar energy has not been opened up because the oil industry does not own the sun”

Ralph Nader



Our house is old. Over a hundred years. We need a new roof. That will cost about $60,000 for labour and materials. Less if we did it ourselves.

I’ve had a holding treatment on our roof. It consists of found roofing iron and car inner tubes. The car tubes will give 3-5 years life before they perish if you paint them and use the right adhesive.

But whatever cheap innovation, or temporary solution we can’t escape that we need a new roof. No doubt about it, but I am not going to buy a roof. I am going to buy a farm that generates an income. See there are new solar panels out now that double as the waterproofing. Before you needed the roof then the panels on top now you can get a product that does both.

We estimate that this will cost us $100,000. We have also estimated that this should generate about $650 per month. Less what we pay on power ($80-150) and that’s over $6000 per year income after paying our energy bill. $160,000 over the life of the roof plus free electricity during this period. The panels have about half the effective life of roofing iron, but they pay themselves back around the mid point in their life. This doesn’t take into account escalation. If the price of power goes up so does our income.

One trigger to consider…

Is this a good use of $100,000?

$6000 per annum on $100,000 is only 6%. We could get a better return than that on a number of alternative investments, but the net return on investment ratio is 1.5/1. Meaning by the time we need the next roof as pensioners we’d have the cost plus a large additional deposit that would have been earning interest for 15 years.

Even if we sold our house the income from farming sun would be a significant factor in the resale price. The only problem….when is the best time to buy technology?

Well it is always next week. Technology will be better and prices will be cheaper…

Still I’d rather have an income producing roof and free time to a traditional roof and enforced economic slavery of another part-time job!

Guard your mind against negative programming

“Oh you hate your job? There’s a support group for for that. It’s called everybody!”

Graffiti on a wall

If you had your life to live again I bet you think it would go differently for you. You’d make better choices. You’d start out ahead of the game. Everything would go right. I like to think this way too, but truth is we’re the result of our consciousness, the choices and decisions we make and our emotional reactions to the situations around us. We’re also deliberately molded and shaped by society at large to be passive little worker bees that only live to shop. So chances are our lives would go exactly the same if we got a second shot at it.

Think about it like this. If you are reading this on a computer or an internet capable device then you probably have at leastt 1/2 of your life left. One third at a minimum. All the sunrises that you’ve seen so far don’t have any bearing on what you could do or what you could achieve in your remaining sunsets, but what are the chances that the second half of your life would deviate from the safe and predictable course you re on?

To make a shift you’d need to guard your mind against negative influences. You’d need to get around people that have already achieved the success that you are seeking. You’d need to learn to react differently to situations. You’d need to grow resistant to failure. You’d need to stop wasting your life on the internet, movies, TV, mobile phones or video games. You might need to get over your mental baggage. You may even need to restructure or terminate some of your closest personal relationships

Sure things could go completely differently for you, but you’ll need to kick the ride out of autopilot and take conscious control of your situation. Where this roller-coaster called life takes you in the next decade of your journey is completely up to you.

Smile laugh and keep on trucking

“For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness” 
Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

Sometimes you get treated like shit at work. There doesn’t seem to be any relationship between how much you are paid and how many shit sandwiches your employer serves you. The natural reaction is to become annoyed or angry. Most people have to swallow their pride, calm down and quietly get right back to work. Its hard to find another job and its always better not to do anything rash.

About now you’re probably expecting a story about me telling a former employer to stick it. Sure I’ve done that, but that’s not the message. I try hard to avoid negativity. Negativity is inevitable and without experiencing fear, anger or sadness we could never really know joy, bliss or happiness. That said their is no point courting negativity. The environment we live in will programme our minds unless we consciously do it ourselves.

So when something riles me (usually work politics) instead of flying off the handle I find some distance. I examine my rage from a dispassionate 3rd party perspective. Almost like the anger is happening to someone else. Rage is a blinding emotion so this takes practice and maybe some help to trigger yourself into another reaction to anger.

In my experience I usually laugh. Most situations that enrage me are totally trivial. I don’t really care about the situation. I’m not really personally invested in it say in the same way that I might be if I owned the cafe rather than work in it. Getting some space between yourself and the anger lets you see how silly it all is. You also get the choice of moving on and forgetting it. Living with the moment instead of having your day ruined and then taking it home with you to infect your family that night.

Emotions are like a virus in that they like to leap from person to person and feed off them. I choose to infect people around me with happiness. I’m attracted to joyous people and happy environments. If I find myself in negative spaces I take it as my personal mission to cultivate enthusiasm, lightness and fun. I want to have a positive experience on people around me and I can’t do that if I allow myself to be captivated by purposeless emotional responses like anger.

Anger is our response to either frustration or a personal threat. There is no need to be frustrated. There are infinite means to achieve an objective. Likewise their is no actual danger. No real personal threat. Most workplace threats are benign. The personal threat is mind created and carries no element of physical danger.

So smile, laugh and keep on trucking my friend!

Illusions within the dream of life

“How strange when an illusion dies. It’s as though you’ve lost a child” 
Judy Garland

 

1. The Illusion Of Free Will

We all imagine ourselves living freely, yet most of the stuff that we do we do not choose it. We do it to avoid consequences rather than doing things purely for joy.

Solution: Do what you love.

2. The Illusion Of Time

We are the only animal to invent time and as a result we suffer the fear of running out of time for our entire adult life.

Solution: Cast off your watch.

3. The Illusion Of Identity

We feel that we have a clear cut identity based on specifically selected and carefully reconstructed memories and experiences. Our identity is just a mind phenomenon. It can’t be located within us. It is just a series of ideas.

Solution: Shed your self-limiting preconception of who you are and what you are capable of achieving.

4. The Illusion Of Separateness

Because we are not rooted like a tree we think we are separate from other people. Really we are like the apples on the tree. We are related to all the other apples through our shared relationship to the tree. And like the apple I guess we die when we are finally picked. The illusion of individuation is so pervasive that we think we can live separated from the natural environment or from each other.

Solution: Act from a perspective of unity.

 

Specious media chicanery: Living beyond mass media metaphors

“If people in the media cannot decide whether they are in the business of reporting news or manufacturing propaganda, it is all the more important that the public understand that difference, and choose their news sources accordingly”

Thomas Sowell

 

If there was one fascination I wish we could collectively get over it would be the news media It’s not that there aren’t important issues and events in the world. Unfortunately the news is delivered to us as a highly contrived, narrowly focused and highly stylised form way that keeps us isolated, closed off and afraid. If you’d prefer to be connected, open and joyful then a positive step would be to ignore news media entirely.

 

There is a wonderful satirical web series at the moment that pokes fun at the ludicrous information that news media outlets pedal at us. By focusing on the story behind the story it highlights just how gullible we have become and how passively we accept this rot as the truth. I personally think the main news reader is called an anchor because it is their job to puppet carefully designed bunk that sink as all into a depressing fear filled paralysis. Each episode in this drama builds on the last to instill a grossly negative world view within us. The priests of high media preach a cynical mistrust of the wrongdoings of other nations and create fear that everyone from a different religious background is fanatical. It’s all so completely ridiculous!

The thing I fail to understand is why such serious and sensible people give the news stories any attention or the media businesses any credibility whatsoever?

If you are still wasting your time on the spell cast over you by the news media ask yourself the following questions the next time you consume a story:

  1. How does this story make me feel?
  2. Does it evoke positive or negative emotions within me?
  3. Do I want more or less of these types of feelings, experiences or emotions in my life?
  4. What is the underlying narrative? What are they really telling me?
    • For example – the world is unsafe, unstable, war is imminent, etc (fear based), or stereotypes of race, gender, class, etc. Usually something like all black people are criminals, the objectification of women or the world is a perilous place that is unsafe for children – rife with war and flesh eating disease. [Just really stupid shit].
  5. Is the underlying narrative worthy of my attention
  6. How was this story retold to me?
    • Biased? Alarmist? Urgent? Fast moving cameras, quick cuts, lots of graphics, hyped up reporter or a carefully chosen shocking photo?
  7. Why was it told in this way?
  8. Who benefits from me knowing this information retold in this way?
  9. How do they benefit?

 

Most important of all…why did I waste an hour watching this trash? 🙂

The Idlers Guide to Unjobbing

“Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups”

George Carlin

  People are either fascinated by my attitude to work or they find it abhorrent. I prefer to spend my time with the first group :). My personal experience has led me to conclude that paid work for big corporations or big government is unfulfilling and pointless. We only do it because we are paid and if we weren’t nobody would volunteer. But, what are the alternatives to the career salary – really? We all must suffer work my lovely Mother tells me. It is just how the world is. Most interesting to me is the observation that almost all of my colleagues, my friends, my family and pretty much every casual acquaintance that I meet moans about how much they hate their boss, their job or their company. The interesting bit is that very few people question the basic assumption that they are trapped in some form of salaried work. Too many people I fear unquestioningly accept that their job = their life. What if they just stopped turning up at their job? Could they find a way to feed their families? Ye Gods how to pay the bills! What might happen in the future without the security of the salary? So generally we don’t question our lot in life. We trudge on in our unhappy morning march to the office. We don’t seek alternatives. We completely ignore more exciting possibilities. I am here to tell you that there are ways to restructure our life and the only way to live contentedly is to align ourselves with  labours of love. Now I am not about to give you an exact guide specifically describing how you will unjob yourself, but I believe that I can share with you a few keys to the locks that bind you in subservience to the petty demands of your corporate overlords. We matriculate to safe, steady jobs because we are afraid and it is the fear created by the company that keeps us there and working hard without much supervision or the need for physical coercion. It is principally our fear of being fired that leads us to meekly suffer the indignities of the career. Our fear of the future is also an unnecessary anchor that ties us down in boring work. Because we are afraid (taught and constantly reminded) it will be better to dip our toes into unjobbing before going cold turkey. Far less of a shock than leaping off the cliff. By that I mean keep your job, but while you are still employed try your hand at every cottage industry that excites you. Make your Grandma’s secret recipe jam and sell it at the craft market on Saturday. If demand exceeds supply quit one day of salaried work to pick, boil and jar. Teach night school to adult learners on topics you are passionate about (playing the guitar, photography for beginners, vegan cookery). Forget whether or not you are qualified to teach. If you love it and spend lots of time doing it you will be an engaging teacher that delivers value to your students.

So Key One: Build up to a river by monetising your passions. Get out of the habit of thinking large single income. Instead think about creating small streams of income that combine to form the river you require. Use your money to create money and turn your mind to finding fun ways to get paid to play. I have found that I don’t care that I get paid below minimum wage teaching children how to surf in summer. I would do it for free. The fact I am paid is all the merrier. For me the test on unjobbing yourself is that you find it hard to decide where your life stops and your work starts. In growing surplus vegetables and seedlings I gain food for my family, a small income from my neighbours and all while enjoying the outdoors, pottering about, and caring for my children. Children love dirty hands!

Key Two: Pick the appropriate financial scale for your ventures Wh atever endeavour you engage in look to thoroughly test it. Test, test, test. Never stop testing it for free (or at very low input cost) before sinking your life savings. In fact I strongly support notable economist E.F Schumacher’s contention that individuals should have the means to create sustainable income on the equivalent of a year’s salary. What that means is that you should only start up your own business (a café, a digital photo printing booth, or a mountain bike guiding company) by spending no more than the take home earnings that you would receive in a single year from your current salary. Any venture bigger than that is beyond your current means and is not worth the risk.

Key Three: Start small and prove to yourself that unjobbing is viable Next point. You don’t need to completely forgo your career. I have enjoyed being part-time while unjobbing. I get a nice salary. I don’t get pulled into most of the corporate bullshit and because I am not a full-timer I seem to have escaped extra duties as I have shown no interest in the dangling carrot (promotion) and the empty promises therein.

Key Four: It is very hard until you right size your desire Be thrifty and minimalistic. Forfeit your material desires. At the core of simple living you must learning to be a peace with yourself. Happiness comes inside out not outside in and that nothing out in the world will compensate. If you really adopt this view then your cost of living and hence the money that you need to find each week is quite manageable.

Key Five: You will work longer and harder for way less money, but trust me it is worth it! No doubt it sounds like I recommend giving up an easy and secure salary to work 12 hours in menial low paid work. Well this is true, but for much of my day my work is my play and my play is my work. For example: Would I get on my mountain bike and drop off some rock for free? Absolutely! The fact that it was captured by a photographer taking shots for a magazine (riding technique article) is just good life management in my opinion. If his images ever sell I will receive a royalty. The other 99% of the riders in the park, many far better looking and more skilled than I, go unpaid for their fun. The difference is that I am inquisitive and I made a few phone calls to mates of mates. Do I make money from this regularly? Well no, but my availability is a big draw card for this cameraman and I guess that my rates are far lower than other non-celebrity professional bike models (if such people exist). I garden and make money. I don’t garden for money. Same thing with my bike. So my advice – start small, ease in gently. Keep your job as you unjob. Look at the things that you love to do and see if you could find a way to be paid for them. Explore your social networks.

Key Six: Agree to offers. Figure out how to do it later. Most of all agree to do things that there is no reasonable basis for you to take on and then learn how to do them later. I meet many people that I am certain are capable of doing any number of things better than me. The difference is that I am out there doing them while they are worried about what people might think of them if they fail.  I fail plenty, but I wake the next morning to new possibilities and a clear conscience. Failure is just learning in drag. As I said your path to unjobbing will be unique. To help in that process of discovery here are some of the things I’ve made money from in the couple of years. Please don’t ask about paying tax! Yet more robbers at our door!

Teaching: Woodwork, Office Suite, Surfing, Basic Bike Mechanics and Skills, Public Health (part of practicum at a med school)

Nature: Vegetables, Fruits, Native bushes, Trees, Plants, Chutney, Jam, Seeds  

Hobby Jobs (employed and self employed): Civil Engineering office based, Cafe Hand, Labourer (carpet laying and electrical work), Handyman (embarrassingly poor one indeed), Child Minder (since I do it for free anyways), Bike Mechanic/Shop Assistant, Graphic Designer, Technical Writer, Bike Courier, Model (of sorts!), Fruit Picker, Holiday Home Cleaner (free long weekend accommodation at holiday destinations – yippee), Landscaping, Planner (Transport), Painter, Gibstoppers assistant, Personal Trainer (run morning boot camps, teach running biomechanics etc).

Investment: Rental Income, Dividends from stock, EFTs, Interest on cash and term deposits. Prior to this small business holdings.

Other stuff: Event Management, Marshaling, Shoe maker (very unprofitable!!), Delivery Driver, Library Labourer/Shelver, Artist (sell at markets), Online Merchant (specialty food items, and unsuccessfully trying to sell upcycled furniture) …quite a bit of other stuff but you get the idea.

Supplementary questions – Aren’t you worried about your retirement years? No I hope to be able to do many of these things well into my golden age and I actually think the risk of losing all income from a salary job source at age 50 (well before planned) is scarier and more likely that not being able to earn like I do. If you can do many things you can always find something. Not true of the micospecialised professional. How do you find the time? Only sleep six hours and sell your television.