Brett Rants

Pyramid Scheme

On the Nature of Wealth

it is a black and white, greyscale image of six jet fighters, so the Blue Angels, Devils, or whatever they are calling themselves, most likely, only being grey, maybe they should be the Grey Angels, Devils, or whatever

Our Good Friend the Pharaoh used as an Example

Do you believe the Pharaoh (we are talking about the ruler of Ancient Egypt, here) hung the moon? Do you believe he was a God? Do you believe he caused the sun to shine, the rain to fall, the Nile to flood, and the crops to grow?

I don't.

But if you do, then it might make sense to give the Pharaoh (and quite willingly, at that) half of your crops... maybe even more. After all, it is pretty hard to grow a darn thing without sunshine and water.

So, what is the fair price for all that? Sunshine? Water? And Life Itself?

Personally, what I believe the Pharaoh did was keep the peace. As in, 'My troops won't kill you if you do what I say. But, oh. As a sort of consolation prize, they will, also, kill anyone else who does not do what I say. So, you can count on my Will as Law and Peace throughout the Land.'

I'll let you work out the details... and/or what's a fair price for not being killed where you stand right this very moment.

Some people believe (I think it was Hobbes, who started all this, nope, sorry, it was Locke) in a Social Contract. But let me ask you, have you ever sat down and negotiated your Social Contract? Well, if you had, there would have been a whole bunch of lawyers involved, which means courts and judges, which means the Police Force, you know, the Men (and Women) in Blue who enforce the Will of the Court (or if you have Drunk the Kool Aid), call it the Will of the People.

Sorry, if it seems like I got carried away a little bit, there.

Suffice to say, if one believes in the Social Contract, which I do not, one believes the government provides a service... at fair terms. That last is important, as I do believe the government provides a service, I just don't know if (nor do I believe that) the terms are fair.

So, back to our Good Friend (in whose presence all must bow low and prostrate themselves, so friend might be a bit of a misnomer) The Pharaoh. He (and/or his representatives) provided administrative services. As in, 'This oblong shaped piece of land is all yours. Do with it as you will. But your @ss is Grass if I don't get fifteen bushels from you come The Harvest.'

Clearly, such an arrangement can become a bit abusive, as just how many bushels of wheat a peasant farmer (please, call them serfs or slaves, as it is so much more accurate) can expect to grow on any parcel of land is highly variable and based upon such things as the quality of the land (determined in ancient times by the annual flooding of the Nile), sunshine (courtesy of Ra, the Sun God), and all the rest (seed germination, the fact there's seed in the first place, pest control, and so on and so forth). Oddly (or by Intelligent Design, call it Providence), since the Pharaoh controlled all those things (and all things, really), he was in the rarefied position of knowing exactly how many bushels of tribute (call it taxation) was fair (you ungrateful cur, you) and if one did not like it, they could always wander off into the desert, far from the Pharaoh's Benevolent Rule, which (conveniently enough... or as a natural consequence of everything I've just said) was a pretty sucky place to grow crops: namely, because the Pharaoh wasn't doing his thing... and although there was plenty of sunshine, things like water were in short supply.

To Merit or Not Demerit

Let us review.

If the Pharaoh controlled The Stars, The Wind, The Rain (blah, blah, blah, please excuse me for not having the patience to compile a Pyramid Filling Wall of Text, in Ancient Hieroglyphics, no less, singing The Mighty Pharaoh's Praises), and all the rest, then he's entitled to all the wheat he wants, because All Crops Flow From HIS MIGHTY BENEVOLENCE.

And if the Great Men (and women, but isn't it odd how many more Great Men there are than Great Women) of Today are as great and powerful as the Pharaoh (and able to work wonders as he did, don't you know), then they are worth every penny they make. But if not, if they are just taking credit for The Stars, The Moon, and all the rest, which would pretty much exist without them, then they are probably overestimating their contribution by quite a bit (hey, now; that might be why there are more Great Men than Great Women, men might just be naturally more arrogant); and as such, are being over-paid.

For the most, folks either believe this line of reasoning or they do not.

Personally, when I hear a phrase like (as I am hardly going to look up the wording, so like might be the appropriate wording: like in this context being synonymous with similar to) All Men Are Created Equal, I just sort of assume this means that (All Men... but not women, as women should either be married or living in their father's house; and as such, counting them once would be like counting them twice, an unfair proposition if we are to assume that):
All of Humanity has an Equal Claim on Nature.
Nobody controls The Wind, The Stars, and The Rain... and nobody makes Land (as in, creates new Real Estate, I mean, they may make the buildings, but the location was always there; and as we know, in the world of Real Estate, Location is Everything). And as such, Land should be a collective asset.

But then, some folks have pointy sticks (recently transformed into Attack Helicopters) and it matters not whether you think the Pharaoh (or any so called Great Man with a Napoleon Complex) has earned it, because Rock beats Scissors... and Police with Truncheons will beat the snot out of you if you get too uppity, you snot nosed little cretin. Oh, and we know what websites you've been visiting, so don't even try to claim that you aren't some Communist Revolutionary... even if the author of said website would, probably, be far more likely to describe himself as some sort of Theoretical Zen Anarchist Writer Type (whatever in blazes that is supposed to mean), which is hardly a thing to be feared unless your Ideological House of Cards is so fragile it is in danger of being knocked over by a quiet Whisper of a Wind, emanating from The Lunatic Fringe.

Um, wow!

Just, wow!

I seem to have gotten carried away.

So, let me restate (what I have restated countless times before, if in other rants and not here).

All Rents (from real estate, patents, copyrights, and so on and so forth up to and including dividends and interest, the latter two being rents on corporate ownership and cash money respectively) are Artificial Legal Constructs. They do not exist in the wild, as a Natural Law, or anything like that. They are simply how Modern American Society works. They are what is. I doubt they are what should be. But then, I question whether I actually care about that last point, anymore. I mean, in some way I do. It is what powers this rant. But then, life is pretty good. And if you feel the need to Change the World, maybe you should Change Yourself, First!
{Actually, what really powers this rant is Misguided Attribution of Merit, which is a fancy way of saying I saw an advertisement in which some Super Rich Person was Advocating Action. And when you get right down to it, I'd be just as happy to never hear about (or from) said Super Rich Person ever again... much less take action in a (purely futile) effort to mimic their actions or follow their advice. In fact, it's to the point, I will grant that a Super Rich Person has personal insight into being Super Rich... but on every other aspect of reality, they would have to prove their merit, anew.

I mean, seriously, this rant is either enjoyable and informative or it is not. Do you care whether Rant #44 was particularly good? Or are you far more interested in the quality of Rant #193, the one you are presently reading?

After all, the only thing being Super Rich means is that a person has gobs and gobs of money. It doesn't mean that they know Sh!t F-K about Sh!t F-K!

On the other hand, if I win the lottery (or sell a book and make money that way), I am very likely going to want to play the PR Game, myself... buying ever more popularity.

So, what are you going to do?

Hate the Player not the Game, baby!

Yeah, no.

I said that right.}

a reverse negative grey-scale image of a transport helicopter, as owned by the Army National Guard, I believe, start talking smack, and they will kick your arse

The Art & Science of Pyramid Building
On the Nature of Building Castles in the Sand

If you grant that the Pharaoh is all that (The Sun, The Moon, The Wind, The Rain, The Master of the North, The Ruler of the South, and so on and so forth, until your eyes bleed), then it probably makes sense for you to build a Pyramid (or two, or three) in His (or Her, after all, I hear Cleopatra was quite the babe and quite worthy of) Honour.

On the other hand, if one believes the Pharaoh is just a man (like any other) who happens to find himself on the right side of a pointy stick, one might be less enthusiastic about spending their life, toiling under the hot desert sun, stacking rocks in his honour. In fact (perhaps, just perhaps), the only reason a person might spend their life performing such drudgery day in and day out (in that case) is because they find themselves on the wrong end of a pointy stick.

I mean, the Pharaoh might perform some much needed administrative function. But at some point (I'll let you decide exactly where that is), the Pharaoh is being over-paid and all those slaves are being under-paid.

The Nature of the Beast

It is the nature of men (and women) with pointy sticks to take as much as they can... and/or that their concious will allow.

I believe that we (presently, so I am talking of Modern Man, here) live in such a situation.

It is not surprising that those holding the pointy sticks think that they perform a public service and earn their keep. After all, holding the pointy stick does require a fair bit of effort. But that's mainly because holding the pointy stick is an enviable position to be in, coming as it does with certain perks: Fame, Fortune, and (sometimes) Fem-Bots (Yowza!), along with a few other things (like the Goodwill of the People and being considered a Friend of the Nation). And as such, there are (always) countless others who would be happy to take the place of those holding the Pointy Stick of Power (a rare Sixth Level Magic Item, don't you know) and rule in their stead. We can (and invariably do) call these others The Bad Guys, while the fellas in power are The Good Guys, and the State Regulated Media of the Day does what it can to make clear who is who... and after the war is over (and History is Written), those with the pointier sticks (for some reason) always seem to be regarded as The Good Guys.

And conversely, it is not surprising that those who have pointy sticks pointed at them are (very often) less than thrilled about the situation and think that those with the pointy sticks take more than their fair share.

This is all quite straightforward to me. But there are two confounding variables. First, some people are 'cooler' than others. And it behoves one to root for the kindlier Master. Secondly, the First Rule of Law is to remain The Law. I mean, I could go on for a long time complaining about how far we are from some Communist Utopian Ideal. But pretty much Every Communist (Non-Communist, Fascist, Socialist, Religious, Nut Case, Whack Job, or Whatever) Utopian Ideal always makes the mistake of assuming we can end War, Crime, Vice, and the Hate of One's Fellow Man.
So, you see. I'm not really a revolutionary. There will always be guys (and it will be mostly guys, because there are fundamental differences between the sexes and one of them is that guys are more psychopathic; and therefore, more willing to use) pointy sticks.

And thus, when I harp about Honour, what I am really saying is that I think Society (and not necessarily you or I individually) would be best served by Cultivating a Class of Individuals who learned to use pointy sticks for The Moral Good rather than personal gain. You can almost judge the quality of a Society (and its long-term staying power) by how much this statement is true.

Alas, I have gone (just ever so slightly) astray.

a posterized green tone close up of a paratrooper, some PR stunt for the Military, I forget which branch, I would guess the Army, I turned the sky green, and the blotches make a nice camouflage pattern

Shoot for the Moon

The Pharaoh wanted a tall stack of rocks. God knows why. Oh, sorry. I said that wrong. Clearly, the Pharaoh knew why. While today, Rich Folks (whoever they might be) want different things. Some want yachts. And I tell you what. I've seen a $350,000,000 yacht up close and in person (from behind a chain-link fence, this is true, so not as up close and in person as I would have liked). And it looked cool. A person could dream (I know, because I have) about travelling around the world in such luxury. Others want mansions... or ski holidays... or, I don't know, they want to Put a Man on the Moon, like, again!

On some level, more power to them.

On another, I have no great desire to be a slave and spend my life building some other man's Pyramid.

$ $ $ MONEY $ $ $

Money is a means and method of trading human effort.

Believe it or not, I am OK with trading my effort for your effort. And if push came to shove, I might give you terms:
I mean, it's easy to figure things out when you're sledging rocks up the side of a Pyramid. After all, a rock is a rock.

Only, that's never the case.
A rock is an infill rock.
A rock is a corner rock.
A rock is a capstone rock.
A rock is a decorated rock.
A rock is a rough rock.
A rock is a heavy rock.
A rock is a light rock.
And so on and so forth through the infinite variations.
I mean, I (or Mr Pharaoh) could say, let's pay everyone the same rate for every rock they haul up the side of The Pyramid. But it's pretty darn clear that every rock is not the same.

On the other hand, one thing is clear (to me, at least), I am simply not willing to pay a Billion to One Odds for that Capstone Rock. Hey, maybe you are. More power to you. But I am not.

It's a Wonderful Life

Do you remember the movie It's a Wonderful Life? Our hero (yours, mine, everybody's) died (or committed suicide, the coward, by throwing himself off of some bridge into the icy waters below) and he got to see what the world would look like without him. And it was not good. He had made a fantastically large (and beneficial) contribution to his World.

I don't think I've made a contribution to this world. Seriously, I think the best things that I have ever done are included (one way or another) within this website. And I can assure you, most folks would not be effected (one way or another) if I never wrote another word... and/or if they never had the opportunity to read it... you know, before I die and the site goes dark... or something like that.

In many ways (maybe in every way), it does not matter if I ever lived.

And yet, I've got $20 in my pocket (free and clear) that I'm more than happy to spend on lunch.

Did I earn that money?

More fundamentally, can money be earned?

Is that sort of question silly?

Does any of this (sort of) philosophizing really matter?

I don't know.

I do know, tomorrow I will have another $20 in my pocket, free and clear, with nothing better to spend it on than lunch. I've got no plans to work between now and then (unless one wants to call this website work, which sometimes I do, as it flows right into a Prosperity Gospel of sorts, but that's a subject for another rant).

The point is that I don't earn money (not anymore, if in point of fact, I ever did). But I have money.

And I doubt most Rich Folks earn their money (not anymore, if in point of fact, they ever did). But they have money.
Is Society Best Served by Honouring that Money?
But that's not the real question.

That's a Hot Potato Question... in that, at some point, the answer will be no... but today, the answer is yes.

It's an answer in Temporal Flux.

It's a maybe.

It's complicated.

It depends.

The answer will change.

Trust me, someday the answer will change.

So, let me ask a simpler question. Well, it's not a simpler question, but I believe the answer is simpler... even if I am not going to give you the answer. For, this is something one must decide for themselves (if they haven't already).
Given that all labour is compensated fairly (i.e. a person is either rich or poor or somewhere in-between based upon their individual merit), then does it make a difference if anyone existed or not?

Would anyone pass the It's A Wonderful Life Test?
Or if that is not clear:
    Merit = Reward:

    Impact = Merit - Reward

    Impact = ∅
Since Impact = ∅, we are all Building Castles in the Sand. And if that's the case, I'll spend my own life building my own castles (thank you very much) for as long as I am able.

And please excuse me if building that Pyramid of yours just doesn't seem all that terribly important to me.

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There can be no Honour in Money, as Money is the Forceful Imposition of One's Will on Another.

Unfortunately, I find it much easier to discern where Honour Is Not than where Honour Resides.

The more I look, the more I wonder if Honour can be found anywhere.

But then, that does not preclude one from Playing at Honour, you know, just for the fun of it, which might just be the game for me.

© copyright 2019 Brett Paufler