Why aiming for a career is terrible advice for life


“Machines have become as much like people as people have become like machines. They pulsate with life while we become robots”.

E.F. Schumacher



Be quiet in class and you will get good grades.

If you get good grades you will get into the right school.

If you get into the right school you will get a good job.

If you get a good job you will have a good career…and if you have a good career your life will be perfect.

The end.

But, I’ll question the value of having a career and I’d challenge the sense in telling our young people to strive for something that makes the majority of the adult population tired, frustrated, indebted and miserable.

Most people with a career aren’t very happy. That is a fact. Careers require us to become highly specialised in some trivial thing. So we are brilliant in one minute range of knowledge or skill but absolutely rubbish at everything else. We can’t fix our own cars. We don’t know how to produce our own music. We rely on others to care for our children or look after our money.

The career is an empty promise. It is striving and suffering for future wealth and happiness. Trouble is people aren’t getting particularly happy or wealthy from their labours.  Years ago a single adult’s earnings supported the entire family. Now two adults working two jobs each can’t pay an average families bills and our jobs are not secure. They can disappear at any instant leaving us in the lurch.

Far from being an outlet for our creativity and intelligence our careers are becoming mechanistic and dull. The machine and digitisation has not been our salvation from drudgerous jobs unfit for men and women. But worst, our careers do little to enhance our wellbeing or bring the riches for a life of leisure and pleasure. Far from freeing us our machines mean that the office follows us everywhere we go.

I reject the notion of a career. I do not believe that we were born to work our lives away as corporate drones in a system designed only to benefit an obscenely wealthy few.

Humanity is rich and brilliant in spite of our careers not because of them. Our greatest achievements are by passionate and poorly paid teachers, scientists, musicians, artists, writers, programmers and philosophers.

Perhaps we need money yes, but there are more spiritually uplifting and satisfying means to generate what we need to live a good life. And this only becomes easier as we become thriftier.

 

 

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The Pestilence of Central Banks

“It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning.”

Henry Ford

 

Our way of life is utterly contrived to ensure that the efforts of our life’s labour is directly transferred to big government and bigger banks. Think about it. You work for 30 years to pay your mortgage.  During this time the lionshare of any salary you earn is redirected straight to the bank to pay off your house, your car and anything else that you bought on credit. At the same time another vast proportion of your career earnings (usually ⅓) is transferred straight to the government coffers.

 

From your 40 or 60 hour, 5 to 6 or 7 day work week you try to generate a meager allowance for energy, food, apparel, shelter and store bought experiences.  Basically its a lot of life and a huge amount of your creative, intellectual and physical labour all for very little in return. The Central Banks greedily haul in your money (and everyone else’s) and then use this capital to fund profitable activities for themselves like wars. All wars are bankers wars. So the question. Why are we labouring, or soldiering, spilling our sweat and our blood to make obscenely rich bankers grossly wealthier. It’s not like they are doing anything positive with all their money and power. While they eat lobster and rape communities around the globe billions starve.

 

I used to think the Government, the right sort at least could make a difference. My logic was that with all those people and the incredible resources that the Government has simple social problems would quickly be identified and fixed. However, during my lifetime all I’ve seen are ineffectual efforts and huge political focus to misdirect people away from the issues that really matter. In time I figured it out. Voting is pointless. It just encourages them. There is no real difference between parties. They are all equally beholden to banking interests. Together they’ve created a set of rules that let a handful of families win big time.

Look at your life. See the rules, the shackles, that the banks put on you at birth. They call the rules economic and monetary policy.They pull the strings of government and the entertainment media to keep us transfixed in a narrow bandwidth of work and fear. These repugnant cankers operate from so far back in the shadows that 95% of people strongly believe that going to work almost all of the time for almost all of their lives, but receiving very little in return, is some kind of great deal for them.

The first step is to see yourself in wage slavery. A rat in the race. Next step in freeing yourself from the matrix is to live simply, avoid debt and keep most of what you earn for yourself. Once you can see the real reason behind the wars on TV and you are able to see the tricks of the banks as plain as the nose on your face your next duty is to tell others. To collaborate with others to take our world beyond the myth of capitalism and neo-classical economics.   Ultimately it would be good to see consumption taxed instead of production or labour as this would rationalise the use of scarce resources as a means to create wealth. We also need to make sure that whatever the system it is better suited to address the needs of the many rather than the extreme greed of the few.

We the people hold the power because this system is valid only until we don’t believe in it anymore.

 

Sat beside the pool…a hard day not at the office.

“In France one must adapt oneself to the fragrance of a urinal”

Gertrude Stein

As I write this I am sitting beside a pool at a house on a hill that overlooks a small country settlement. It’s really quiet. The town I am in is around 400 kilometres from home. The morning is crisp and clear. I can see for miles in every direction. It’s also a work day. I’m outside with my laptop writing this note while on the company dime. 🙂

I’m thinking about a lot of things. It’s one of those beautiful and inspiring places that facilitates clearheaded reflection. One of the things in my head is an appreciation that I’ve probably got the most idle-compatible job in the world. Best I don’t name the company though. They might not agree. But, they pay me a pretty decent wage to solve a few problems and by all accounts I do it fairly well. I’m obviously a lot more efficient than they expect because I have a lot of time and space during the work day.

In some ways my job is a bit like being in the Army. Long stretches of tedium where you try to productively fill your time. Then the dead spots are shattered by moments of panic. At those times I work hard to scoop up the guts of the bubble that popped and stop the shit spreading from here to Timbuctoo. I contain I mitigate and I spin. Things generally work out.

I often wonder how I got into this line of work. Perhaps it chose me. My predilection for idleness and my lack of motivation for work make it hard for a guy like me to stick in an occupation (or to bother turning up on time or dressed properly or at all). With this job I get to travel to other cities. Usually only for day trips. I get to read or sleep on the plane. I have a couple of ‘what happened’ or ‘why did you do that’ or ‘you know you really aren’t allowed to do that’ type meetings. Then I go look at things and write up a report using a fairly time tested format and approach that I have devised to cut out the corners and cross the goal with a minimum of critical thought or real effort.

So my 8 hour paid work day is two hours travel with maybe 2 1/2 hours of meetings and report writing. The rest of the day is really up to me. I don’t check emails while waiting for my flight. I don’t read company memos or business documents. I might write a blog or an article or I could go shopping or go to a movie. I catch up with old friends. I sit in parks and watch the world go by. I chat to strangers or I have long lunches in nice restaurants (paid by the company). One thing I don’t do anymore is sleep. I’ve missed a couple of flights that way. It’s hard to explain to management so I don’t sleep now even when I really want to.

For a long time I’ve been thinking I wasn’t really in the right job. More frequently since they called me back to work full-time (after being part-time for ages), but his morning I’m sitting here thinking I might have the best job in the world. No not the best job. What I have done is to achieve a decent wage collector with a minimum of personal inconvenience. I’m also not afraid of being found out by management.

And that is the real lesson. Figuring out how to fit yourself to your circumstances to make them work rather than trying to change the circumstances to fit in with your own preconceived ideas of how things should be.

Catching up on your reading: the workplace edition

“Today a reader, tomorrow a leader”
Margaret Fuller 

I love to read. When I didn’t work so much I read a lot. Recently I’ve been pulled back into working full-time and like most working drones I’m too tired to read at night plus there are so many chores and tasks that it is hard to find the time.

The solution is to become a professional reader. Now I’m not talking about reading as a profession – like a proof reader or something like that. I’m talking about reading books while being paid to be work. Reading while working is like a stolen kiss. All the sweeter.

Here are 6 thought starters…ways to steal a few pages or chapters while you are on the company clock:

1. Pickup pocket sized books and read them in the loo.

2. Print out a few pages of an ebook and just read it at your desk. I find it helps if you stop occasionally, look thoughtful or do a few calculations on a calculator every so often. It all helps to create the illusion that you are engrossed in a serious business text.

3. Take lunch at 11 am and read for your break. The office canteen will be empty. So will local cafes if you feel like luxury coffee. I find this works really well for office productivity too. The quietest time at the office is between 12-2 pm when everyone takes lunch. If you have a break at 11 am you will have good quiet time to get massive amounts of work done. This leaves the rest of the afternoon free for reading 🙂 .

4. Travel reading. If your job involves travel you can read in airports, hotels and between meetings. Don’t feel the need to do any prep reading before meetings. Instead enjoy your recreational reading and then just turn up mentally refreshed and wing it at the meeting like everyone else.

5. Meeting reading. Find a despicable colleague (mine is code-sign ‘exciting new product’) and invite them to reading meetings. We already have 4 in our frat club. My dream is that one day my whole team (11) will become involved. My fantasy is that one day even the team leader, who is also just a job slob like us, might join in. God knows he needs some perspective.

6. Get a screen guard (under the guise of avoiding eyestrain).  Screen guards block people’s ability to see your monitor unless they are directly behind you. Once you have the screen guard fitted just bring in a bunch of ebooks on a usb drive and read until you strain your eyes for real. Best not read directly off the internet. Most companies employ spy monkeys who watch your internet usage.

Got any other tips? Click the comment bubble underneath the title and share!

Welcoming the sharing economy into your home

“A smile is the light in your window that tells others that there is a caring, sharing person inside”
Denis Waitley

In one sense our global economic environment is like dinner time in a large family.

Mom brings out pumpkin pie and sets it down. The pie is cut up with a huge piece for her and for dad and smaller pieces for all the kids. The children who have been around for a while, and who have some skill, can feed themselves. They quickly fill their plates with much more than they can eat, but the smaller children, the ones who need the most help, who don’t have the skills to feed themselves, or who are last in line for the pie, end up with too little to eat. There is nothing left for the baby.

Mom says the secret is for everyone to work as long and as hard as they are able. To go out and fight and compete and in doing so steal food from the table of another family.  The lesson is that If we are to have more to eat then someone else must go hungry. Over time Mom says this will mean she can bake a bigger pie for the family…and this is our economy. The pie is never, ever big enough. As the pie gets bigger there should be some crust left over for the youngest kids, but there isn’t. Mom and Dad and the eldest child each take even bigger slices. At some point their slice is essentially big enough to feed the whole family. They eat their fill then horde the rest.

The principles of the economy are pure fiction when it comes to how a single family behaves. In times of need we share and we help each other. In reality some of the older children would decide that instead of stuffing themselves silly they will share their portion with their less fortunate brothers and sisters. Dad or Mum may give up their food entirely so that his baby and toddlers are kept well. Ultimately parents would die so their children may live.

Our neighbours and friends will hear of our plight and will bring gifts of food to help us through the tough times. There will be love, sharing and care within the family and from others. Sharing, mutual aid and mutual support is very natural. It is the secret that allowed small bands of humans to tame the wilderness and build a life.

Unfortunately, what is natural is distorted by what is the economy. The real is destroyed by the idea…the monetary myth that we have all ascribed to. Our economy has been deliberately set up to actively discourage sharing, help, care, or love. Isolated, helpless fearful individuals are model consumers. The things that come naturally to every living human being have been redefined and marginalised by economic policy.

The cynical me says it is economists and their policies that foil our sharing instinct. Sharing is such a powerful force that it could distort the power base of our world. The very rich feel entitled to horde all of the pumpkin pie that there ever was, is, or will ever be. To satisfy such greed all sharing must be discouraged. Things must be bought, owned, burnt up, thrown away, but not shared. Never shared.

Through accepting simple living we can step outside the economic framework. We see the inequity. The environmental destruction. The starvation and the poverty. The endangerment of species and the global waste of resources.

We appreciated that all of these problems are somehow interconnected.

We must embrace our natural inclination to share our pumpkin pie, to help others, to create, to produce, to live lightly on this earth and to leave something behind for our family that are still waiting in the wings (the unborn).

Sharing and helping is an enormous part of the solution. Sharing has been such a positive experience in my life. It has enriched me in ways that owning all of the world never could. It fills me with hope with possibility.

Sharing, caring and helping is very pleasurable, yet the economists, marketers and business tycoons do all they can to prohibit, discourage and restrict our ability to experience the pleasure from sharing. Sharing and mutual aid are then two of the most potent ideas for social reform on this planet.

We have long since passed the age when we manufactured goods to meet our desires. We are now in a world hell bent on manufacturing desires to sustain the production of unnecessary goods. Ownership is a myth. We own nothing. What we do have is the right of storage, use and disposal. Nothing more. By cultivating an ownership illusion we support violence (or the threat of violence) for if someone were to use our supposed possession we can call in men and women with guns to get it back for us. Without this threat of violence, real or implied, ownership would not be possible. But why deluding ourselves. Let’s recognise the illusion and begin to appreciate the reality. We are all interconnected. Sharing is good. At a personal, societal and global level sharing is very, very good.

We are deceived to believe that it is right to buy, but wrong to borrow. Looking wisely we you should have a level of discomfort with buying and a feeling of comfort with sharing. The exact inverse of how the world is…

Our family has welcomed the sharing economy into our lives. It strengthens our links with our friends and the community. There is a very warm feeling when we lend to a good friend. Increasingly I feel the same vibe when I borrow.

Lend, borrow, share, love.

Make Mom proud. Share your toys!

An economy of our own

“Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm”

Winston Churchill

In the New Year we will embark on another journey. It is time that we created our very own economy.

Our partial dependence on corporate economy now comes with too many strings. We opt into the system when it works for us and look to opt out, or work around the system, when it doesn’t work for us. You can take from this that it no longer working for us.

We feel that by creating our own economy, through entrepreneurial endevour, we can regain more freedom than we have at the moment.

By decoupling, or rewiring our relationship to money we hope to graduate from those who earn (that is trade their time for money) to those who generating value for others.

We expect this to be wildly successful. There is no point focusing on what will go wrong (see point 10).

Our business goals are highly philanthropic.

We will measure profit and success in terms of the spillover social good (charitable contributions) that we generate beyond that which we require to sustain our simple existence.

It will be an exciting and challenging year and we are both looking forward to it.

Happy holidays.

A clever form of slavery

“The distinguishing sign of slavery is to have a price, and to be bought for it”

John Ruskin

In ancient times conquered people became the slaves of the ruling class. They provided the labour that ran nations. The slaves had little freedom and failing to follow orders would likely result in death.

Ultimately this system became unsustainable. As slave numbers grew slaves began to rise up and demand a better deal.

The next version of slavery provided slaves with more freedoms. They were paid small sums for their efforts. They could have separate dwellings from their masters, they could raise families, learn trades and they could eventually buy their citizenship and free themselves from slavery.

Again this system was not sustainable. Once slaves tasted a little freedom they wanted more.

Next bourgeoisie allowed the proletariat the right to farm their lands. In return for working the land and making it productive for the landowner the serfs were allowed to retain a small proportion of the profits to raise their family on.  Again this system was unsustainable. Hard working plebs rose up and disposed of the ruling class. In this model the people eventually realised that they were little more than slaves to their lords. The unfairness of the structure inspired mass action.

We now have a much cleverer system. It is so clever in fact that if you describe our current system of slavery to your pleb friends they are likely to become quite angry with you for pointing out the obvious truth that we are all slaves.  The current system has enough real and perceived freedom and enough distraction that people never contemplate the parallels between their life circumstances and experience to that of slaves from olden times.

The cleverest part of this deception is the invisibility of the ruling class. The slave owners, the people farmers or the modern bourgeoisie. They are of course the hideously wealthy central banking families who have things set up so that they own the world as if it were a giant casino. No matter what happens they always win.

If we were to awaken throw off our manacles and rise up, we might overthrow a government (or two). A new government would quickly be reinstated and those politicians would quickly become beholden to the families who ensure that there was no real systematic structural change. George Carlin jokes that the bankers take new presidents into a dark room and show them a never before seen angle of the JFK assassination. They they ask the president – “Any questions?’ to which he or she replies “Only 1. What is my agenda folks…?”.

While superficial things appear different when politicians change we would are still be required to labor from dawn to dusk. Our wages do not improve. Our freetime does not increase. Our quality of life gets no better. Fairness and equity between the haves and the have nots does not increase. Needless war for profit does not cease. Our earth does not become any cleaner or better protected.

The system and the owners of the system continue to thrive irrespective of the revolving door of politics.

Our masters most important outcome – the slavery of our children is eternally ensured.