Tag Archives: greed

Yet Another Injustice

I’ve started a couple of research-based, logical, sensible posts to demonstrate why racism and all the divisiveness it creates are keeping us from ever progressing into a better society, but I know in my heart it won’t do any good. The people who agree with me will read it and tell me how grateful they are that I wrote it, and the people who disagree will attack my character and call me crazy or stupid. All the while, in a few days, we’ll get yet another story of an unarmed American citizen being murdered by the police. The powers that be will lie, falsify evidence, discredit the victim, and tell us to go fuck ourselves for questioning their authority. The sad fact is that we now live in a quasi-police state owned and operated by corporate America, and I have zero faith that the various levels of our government represent my best interests at all.

For decades now, this country has been moving towards criminalizing poverty, and today, we’ve reached the point where just being poor is illegal. Between nitpicking traffic stops for a taillight out (which is really just an excuse to look for bigger and more expensive infractions) to arrests of people for feeding the homeless to choking a man to death for selling cigarettes, this country simultaneously seeks to punish poverty and stifle economic mobility. In my grandparent’s generation, one income from 40 hours a week was more than enough for a home, three cars, regular vacations, and retirement savings. For my parents, it took at least two incomes for the home, a couple of cars, and irregular vacations. For my generation, most of us require two incomes just to survive. For most of us, retirement means work until you drop dead. I can’t even fathom how hard it will be for those younger than I am.

I say this not as someone who shirked the system and tried to skim by but as someone who went to graduate school for an advanced degree and has worked since I was ten, sometimes at two, three, and once even four jobs to make ends meet. I say this as someone who wrote multiple books and maintains over a four star customer review rating on Amazon. I say this as someone who tried with every ounce of energy, spirit, and fight in my body to be successful but ultimately only found dead-ends and blind alleys. I don’t begrudge those who have found economic success in this country, but I do begrudge those who have purposefully shifted the average American’s wages to poverty standards while simultaneously slashing safety net programs. And I know I’m not alone in my anger at that group of people.

As I write this, my body is now a broken shell, probably from so many years of 60-70 hour work weeks with no real vacations. I’m physically not able to protest in the streets for equality and justice and improved wages. My heart is broken at how far this country has regressed in my lifetime (and I still stand by my statement that we are heading for a New Dark Ages ruled by fear and superstition). I like to think that if my body were able, I would step forward front and center and lead the charge, but right now, I’m just sad for this country. Sad at seeing the time and energy and resources wasted on mindless entertainment. Sad at seeing greed and vanity rewarded while virtue and decency are ground to dust. Sad at watching countless injustices unfold while the vast majority pour their righteousness into frivolities like getting college football coaches fired or criticizing others’ clothing choices.

One of my few remaining rays of hope is that history tells us that this is a repeatable cycle. All civilizations go through episodes of greed and corruption that are followed by periods of chaos and then stretches of peace and prosperity. We happen to be in an obtuse period of greed, and hopefully enough people are waking up to this fact that it will change soon. Hopefully, enough people will begin to see that matters of race and gender equality are also matters of economic inequality, and that as long as the system purposefully denies full rights to any taxpaying citizen, no one is really free. Hopefully, the episode of chaos that follows won’t be too terrible for my children’s sake, and hopefully the next era of peace and prosperity will last for quite a while. Right now, however, I’m overwhelmed by all the hate and venom spewing from so many directions

Insert Inflammatory Headline Here

I am the enemy. Obviously. I’m white, straight, and male. Oh, I’m also Southern and a hillbilly. Five strikes against me. I am the touchstone of discrimination, bigotry, misogyny, violence, rape culture, and animal cruelty.  According to those more learned and sophisticated than I, I’m also privileged because of the color of my skin, my sexual orientation, and my gender.

I’m going to avoid the knee-jerk reaction to call hogwash because it’s counter-productive to the point I want to make. I don’t want to get drawn into a refutation of all the nonsense about painting with broad strokes. I will say is that if you lived in a home without running water for more than a year, you can call me privileged without any argument. If you had to attend school in clothes that reeked of something worse than kerosene fumes, you earned the right to call me privileged. Otherwise, please refrain from making assumptions about the obstacles other people have had to overcome.

I’ll also say I’m tired of our culture of divisiveness and dehumanization. I’m tired of the endless cycles of liberal vs. conservative; men vs. women; gay vs. straight; jocks vs. nerds; horsecrap vs. horsecrap. I’m extremely tired of intolerance in all its forms. Yes, Mr. Enlightened Liberal Panderer, you are just as guilty of intolerance as any racist or bigot you hate. You are the problem. Yes, Ms. Compassionate Conservative, you are an intolerant jerk. You are the problem, too.

See, every time some tragedy occurs, we get the same nonsense debates about guns or gender roles or religion or whatever, but we never have the real conversation, the one that truly matters. Our culture, this corporate, bureaucratic, bottom-line, profit-driven Huxlean nightmare, has stripped us of our humanity. We don’t look at our fellow human beings as just that. Instead, we immediately jump to what it is we should despise about someone for being part of the “other.” And even if someone isn’t really part of the other, we will find some way to twist reality until they are. And once they are part of that “other,” their rights become less important than our own. We are all guilty of this.  Yes, you are, too.

Here’s one example of this insanity. A couple of weeks ago, the science fiction convention Archon rescinded its invitation to Tim Bolgeo to attend as a special guest of honor. For those who don’t know, Uncle Timmy is a long-time veteran of fandom in the Southeast. However, someone created a social media frenzy concerning a newsletter Uncle Timmy publishes, alleging that the newsletter promotes racism, homophobia, and anti-science propaganda. A mob quickly bombarded Archon with diatribes, and the convention caved to the pressure. In return, people who know Uncle Timmy personally took to social media to defend his reputation and scold the Archon committee members for hastily bowing to the vocal minority.

Though far from the truth, let’s assume for one minute that this  highly educated, well read person is filled with hate and bigotry. However farfetched it may be, let’s assume that this person is using the medium of science fiction fandom conventions to spread hateful propaganda. How does creating an angry mob on social media and threatening the convention committee do anything to improve humanity as a whole? All that has been said publicly is that one group’s rights are more important than another’s, so let’s ban the one group so the other can feel “safe” in their insulated environment. Does any of that sound vaguely familiar to anyone? To me, it would be much more productive, much more beneficial, to sit down and have a face to face dialogue, to discuss openly the perceptions and misconceptions one group has against the other. But we don’t do that in our society. We jump straight to labels like Libtards and Repugs, and bash each other’s intelligence and character without a second thought.

In no way am I trying to diminish the importance of subjects like rape culture, homophobia, misogyny, or racial discrimination. These are all topics that need serious discussion and open communication. However, we do need to stop trying to rank which group is most oppressed and which group is least. Those kinds of artificial stratifications keep us from seeing every member of every subset as a fully rendered human being, and they cause us to dismiss the perceptions, experiences, and sufferings of an individual as insignificant. They also cause us to jump to the “I’m enlightened; you’re ignorant” paradigm that prevents real dialogue. As long as we continue to segregate ourselves into these subsets and bicker about who has it worst, we will always be divided and unable to work together for the betterment of all.

See, here’s the thing: those who are really in charge, the ones really abusing human rights and keeping us from advancing civilization, want us dividing ourselves up and bickering like we do. As long as we’re fighting over some hot button issue that we can never, ever hope to eradicate fully from the human experience, we aren’t working together to expel them from power. See, that’s the real conversation that will never appear on a corporate-owned media outlet, and as long as we keep playing their game on their terms, we’ll never unite as humanity and see real change.

Those who know me hopefully know that as a human being, I’m not the enemy as described above. Despite my five strikes (and I’ll add a sixth: poverty), I strive to treat every person with respect and compassion. Even though I often fall short because of my limitations as a human being, I try to view every person I encounter as a human being worthy of love, respect, and dignity, whether they agree with my viewpoint or not. That’s the real challenge — respecting and loving someone who opposes your personal beliefs, but in the end, either our similarities will bind us together and move us forward or our incessant bickering will tear us apart. Right now, in our current environment of hate, my hope for the former is waning.

Let’s Build Our Community

From the outset, I intended for The Brotherhood of Dwarves to bind together a community of like-minded people.  I know I’m not alone in my weariness of the fear-mongering media, corporate fascism, varying degrees of religious intolerance, and divisive  politics that have ripped apart our society.  I would like to see this site become a place where we can discuss the real issues we need to address and not be bombarded by the pseudo-debates of Chik-Fil-A or Duck Dynasty that are little more than overblown publicity stunts.  I would like a community where we can disagree about our religious preferences without attacking each other’s intelligence levels. Let’s grow this community into a forum for discussing, with open minds and critical analysis, the issues we face.

At its heart, my series is about the triumph of personal relationships over materialism.  It’s a message I believe our culture, especially the current generation, needs to hear now more than ever.  I know this message is important.  I know it needs to reach a broader audience.  I also know that because that message contradicts the corporate narrative, it will never be accepted by the mainstream.  As has been the case from day one, I will have to grow my audience one reader at a time, but if we can turn this community into one that is more interactive and supportive, with open discussions, I believe we can create a beacon of light for those seeking answers as to why materialism is so unfulfilling.

That will be my focus moving forward, to create a community for people who need to find their place in a world that is overrun by greed, fascism, and commercialism.  I hope you will help out by commenting on more posts and engaging in open discussions.  That’s all for now.

Rush Limbaugh Ramblings

Warning: potentially offensive material ahead.

BREAKING NEWS:  In a press conference from his corporate headquarters in Toledo, Ohio this morning, Satan announced that he has completed construction on his “special place” in hell for the king of shock-jocks, Rush Limbaugh.  Though vague on all the details, the devil did describe that Limbaugh will be required to wait tables for an exclusive clientele of well-educated, African-American women, will be denied access to all forms of pain medication, and will have to listen to a non-stop loop of Yanni’s Greatest Hits.  Satan assured the liberal media in attendance that Limbaugh’s hearing will be restored to full health upon his arrival in the underworld.

“We all know there have been worse people in the history of humanity,” the Prince of Darkness stated.  “Hitler comes to mind, as does Pol Pot, but from his overt racism, misogyny, homophobia, and megalomania, Limbaugh has earned this little corner of hell.”

After the press conference, the devil fielded questions from the biased journalists on hand, most of whom pleaded for more details about Limbaugh’s pending punishments.

“Look, I can’t give away too many of the family secrets,” Satan responded.  “We’ve been in the business of torturing twisted souls for thousands of years, but recently, there’s been an upswing in competition from international conglomerates.  I have to protect my proprietary property or risk falling behind in this increasingly crowded field.  But I can assure you, Rush will spend all of eternity with smoldering cigars wedged between the fatty folds of his ass cheeks.  That’s as much detail as I’m going to give, so don’t ask again.”

After the press conference, I scurried to South Carolina to get the reaction of Joseph Cartwright III, himself a long-time conservative talk radio host and blogger.

“Well, you know, when the advertising dollars start to dry up, you’re done in this business,” Cartwright said.  “I guess Rush will have to pay for no longer making lots of people lots of money.”

Confused and bewildered, I stared blankly.

“It’s simple, really,” he continued, noticing my expression.  “As long as hate speech is profitable, the powers that be turn a blind eye, but as soon as the money stops rolling in, everyone turns on you.  It’s a tough business, spreading hate and backwards thinking, but there is a lot of money to be made in stirring up the worst of people’s emotions.  Now that Rush is declining, I’m hoping for national syndication.”

Uncertain if Cartwright was onto something or completely insane, I headed to Mississippi to speak with Konrad K. Kristian, business leader and Tea Party activist.  If anyone understood Rush Limbaugh, it would be him.

“I just don’t know what to make of this here world,” Kristian said, tears in his eyes.  “Jesus was quite clear that we need to hate fags and coloreds, but now Rush is gonna be punished for following the Scriptures.  I just don’t understand.”

Touched by his display of compassion for a man doomed to an eternity of Yanni, I asked if he needed a moment.

“No, I’ll pray about this tonight, and I’m certain tomorrow we’ll find out this was all just a hoax by them liberal media bastards.  They’re out to get all us who follow the Word of hating them that ain’t right, and I know the good Lord will clear this right up.”

Editor’s Note:  Any reference to Satan, the devil, the Prince of Darkness, and hell was approved by Eternal Damnation, Inc. of Toledo, Ohio.  No part of this article may be reprinted or reproduced whatsoever without a blood-signed, notarized release from EDI and an official sacrifice of a virgin goat under a waning crescent moon.

Friday Afternoon Ramblings

I don’t expect most people to understand this, but Christmas just isn’t the same for me anymore.  In part, that’s because of what my ex-wife did to me on Christmas morning, but there’s more to it than that.  Of course, I miss my children more this time of year than any other, and maybe if they were with me, I’d feel differently, but I just feel like the spirit of the season has become distorted and perverted into something profane.  While I don’t consider myself a Christian, I always loved the idea of peace on earth and goodwill to all.

But that’s not the reality of Christmas in this country today.  Now, it’s about celebrating how much money you can spend and how many good deals you can find.  Peace on earth has been replaced by competitive shopping, and goodwill has been replaced by tension over long lines and parking spaces.  The whole charade played out in the name of holiness sickens me.  The yearly garbage from Fox News about the war on Christmas would be laughable if it weren’t so misplaced.

The real war on Christmas is waged when families compete over how much lighting they can install, which by the way is a holdover of a pagan tradition to ward away evil spirits during the winter solstice.  The real war on Christmas is waged when TV commercials mock Santa Claus to demonstrate how good their deals are.  Those are the things that undermine the spirit of giving and distort it into a materialistic competition that has no connection to the story of Christ, whose message was to give to the needy, shepherd the lost, heal the sick, and turn the other cheek.  The real war on Christmas is waged every time someone values the material object over the spirit of charity.

If you want to know where we’ve lost our way in this nation, look no further than that.  The message of Christ, one of love and compassion, has been distorted into hate and competition for political and economic advantage.  I know I’m not the first to point out this perversion, and I know I won’t be the last, but if I can send one message to my country this Christmas it would be to look closely at the teachings of Jesus Christ, not as told by the modern church, but as told by His disciples.  The road to happiness is through love and charity, not through 50% sales, cascade lighting, and an empty ceremonial exchanging of nonessential gifts.  Peace will come with tranquility and splendor.

Thursday Morning Ramblings

There are so many things I want to write about, but at this point of the semester, I simply don’t have the time.  Instead, I’m going to post a few links to articles I’ve found interesting recently.  Many thanks to Philip Hopkins, who originally pointed me in the direction of many of these.  Hope you enjoy:

GOP Presidential Candidate Defends Constitution:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/11/15/gop-presidential-candidate-buddy-roemer-bloomberg-on-the-wrong-side-of-history/

How 300 “got it wrong” and reflects a disdain for citizenship:  http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2011/11/move-over-frank-miller-or-why-occupy.html

Which tier are you in:  http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/45319319/ns/us_news-the_new_york_times/#.TsUotT2VrlY

Why the USPS is being run into ground:  http://redtape.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/10/07/8191425-twisted-government-accounting-behind-postal-service-woes

A tragic example of the failures of our current healthcare system:  http://www.lifehealthpro.com/2011/11/07/tragic-tale

Tuesday Afternoon Ramblings

It’s curious to me how when the wealthy and well-to-do grab for more, that’s just capitalism.  Greed is good, they espouse.  But when we peasants ask for anything, it’s class warfare.  Get a better job, they grouse, while simultaneously making decisions that create jobs overseas.  They’ve manipulated every law, every regulation, every facet of government to benefit their best interests, and then seem offended when we simple folk complain about the absurd pressures being placed on us today.  They hide wealth in offshore accounts to avoid taxes, and then blame cops, firefighters, and teachers for the deficit.  They sit on their balconies, sipping champagne and mocking the protesters crowding the street below.

Their pomposity, so smug in self-righteousness, angers me.  They have crippled the wealthiest nation in the history of mankind, depleting nearly every advantage we once held, yet act as if because they themselves prosper, all is well in the mighty empire.  Well, all is not well.  We are fed up with the Big Lie.  We are fed up with rising prices and falling wages.  We are fed up with the blame being placed on those of us who go to work every day yet can’t afford basic healthcare.  We are fed up with crumbling infrastructure and pathetic excuses for leadership.

I’m for civil disobedience, for peaceful demonstration.  In a democratic republic such as ours, we should be able to enact change without bloodshed.  We should be able to reclaim our government with our voices and votes.  But the feeling I get is that the wealthy and well-to-do are so convinced of their own turgidity that they will not listen to reason and rational discourse.  I’m afraid that the peaceful protesters will soon be supplanted by the angry mob, and once that happens, things will get uncivilized and messy in a hurry.  Anger and frustration are dangerous fuels and can ignite rapidly.