Danny Mendlow's Blog

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Are you left wing or right wing?

What wing are you on? Are you a Democrat or Republican? A Liberal or a Conservative?

Here’s a wild concept. You are neither! Imagine that. There’s more to you than two narrowly defined ideologies. You are not an independent either. You’re just a person. Same as me, same as everyone else. And even if you are one of those people who rigidly defines yourself by being left or right. Even if you do envelope yourself with strictly right or left wing blogs, news sources, punditry, philosophy and perspective. Even if you are completely incapable of believing anything or saying anything you haven’t been told to by your respective left or right wing sources.  Even if you have absolutely no ability to form your own opinions, ideals and morality…

Here’s something to consider:

It doesn’t matter if you’re left or right wing when the plane is on fire and spiraling uncontrollably into an active volcano.

And make no mistake people of earth. The plane! The plane! The plane is on fire!

To this, most people and ‘leaders’ on earth reply:  “We don’t need no water, let the mother fucker burn!”

But no, I’m afraid we really do need water, and unfortunately it appears as if the only way we’ll get it is if the plane veers right of the volcano and crashes into the ocean. Then we can swim around for a bit, squabble over the chunks of floating wreckage and wait for the sharks, starvation and thirst to take us down. Maybe we can throw in some cannibalism too, just for good measure!

Please make no mistake, this is not something I am trying to prevent, or hope to curb with this blog… I’m an observationalist (I don’t care if that’s not a real word, it should be.) I try to observe the world objectively and in this case I am making a prediction, if anything. Honestly, if you are looking for comprehensive answers and solutions to the problems of mankind in a single blog entry from a 24 year old, then you are many times more hopeless than even my most misanthropic view of human beings. Which I will discuss in much more detail in upcoming posts.  So if you’re here to scream and shout in the comments “Well what the fuck is your solution then asshole?”  Please, by all means, go away and never return.

Back to point.  What is supposed to be a system of governance is now a game. Those that are supposed to be acting as representatives of our beliefs, our needs and our desires, are now telling us what we believe, need and desire. Or, more accurately, convincing us through massive amounts of advertising, blatantly puppeteered punditry and media.  Driving the wedge further between us, painting the canvass with only black and white… draining the color from our lives and our self.  There is no longer what we say, there is only what we’re told.  Just to be clear, I’m with George Carlin on many things, but this especially… let’s not pretend that the answer lies in the past.  That there was some mystical time years, decades, generations ago when things were so much better that we need to get back to.

There was no such time.

In many respects, they sucked even more.  The past and the present are important, but they far too often overshadow what should be tantamount: setting achievable and rational objectives, and taking concrete progressive steps towards them.

How many of these big problems that persist day in and day out, that we are all aware of, that get debated year in and year out, that are in every newspaper, on every newscast, on every panel and every platform… could so easily and swiftly be dealt with, by just stripping away the nonsense.  By a frank discussion of what is actually going on.  By a severe and brutal assessment of the facts, the problems and the required steps towards solutions.

Your vote doesn’t count.  Because you have no say in what you are voting for.  You are told that you believe one thing, or you believe the opposite.  You take one side, or you take the other.  If you don’t, you are dismissed and marginalized with terminology like:

fringe, independent, third party, unpopular opinion, conspiracy, wacko, loser, deadbeat, non-contributor

“If you don’t vote then you have no right to complain”  is a mindless cliche I hear thrown around all the time.  This handy bit of regurgitated nonsense is usually first heard from the lips of parents or other authority figures and embedded in a young, impressionable human brain.  It is not a useful or intelligent thought.  It is, like all cliches, a nugget that people spit out in conversations because they know others will inevitably nod in agreement as if something has been said.  “Yep, aint that the truth.”

No.

It’s not even close to the truth.  It’s an empty slogan.  It’s a new age ad campaign.  Words with no meaning.  It’s a way to feel like you belong.  There is nothing more powerful in the human species than the need to feel accepted.  The need to belong to a group.  This is exactly how and why we can be played so easily against ourselves, dividing ourselves into these two camps.  There is no ‘they’ consciously and intentionally doing this.  That kind of thinking helps no one, addresses nothing and solves nothing.  People give far too much credit to ‘them’.  They don’t exist.  You do.  I do.  They don’t.  They don’t need to, because we do this to ourselves.  We allow ourselves to buy into this left/right nonsense.  The product is bullshit, and we’re the consumers.

And no, the answer isn’t a third or fourth or fifth hastily thrown together wave of new parties either.  It’s not to weld on five or six more clumsy wing designs onto the same plane.

The plane is crashing.  That is happening.

This mechanism is obsolete.

Time to go back to the design room.

Time to build a new kind of plane.

Or maybe a new mode of transportation altogether… a new destination and a new route.

January 30, 2010 Posted by | General Society Ramblings, The Great Collapse | Leave a comment

Things I am Not… and Neither are You

I am not a consumer

I am not a client

I am not a vote

I am not a liberal

I am not a democrat

I am not a republican

I am not a libertarian

I am not a conservative

I am not a socialist

I am not a communist

I am not a marxist

I am not right wing

I am not left wing

I am not a student

I am not an employee

I am not an employer

I am not a loan recipient

I am not a credit card holder

I am not a stockholder

I am not a potential buyer

I am not a home-owner

I am not a taxpayer

I am not a resident

I am not an advocate

I am not a member of this community

I am not defined by the places the past few generations of my family were born on this planet

I am not a pawn or a key word to drop in your speech.  I am not a useless, soulless number whose only purpose of existing is to have currency extracted.  I have more to offer this world then you and your narrow definitions could ever realize.  Imagine if you spent only a fraction of the money you do on advertising and branding, trying so hard to convince me you see me as more than a number… imagine if you spent that working on getting your people to treat me like a human being. Imagine if they didn’t need training, and they could figure that out on their own.  That’s all we can do is imagine it, because it will never happen.

What right, exactly, do your robot minions have to call me and harass me and talk down to me and tell me I am worthless?  Ask me why I don’t make more money, why I can’t make my interest payment?  Demand I set up appointments and meetings  during the middle of the day on the work week, the only time you are open.  Well, you know what, I’m kind of busy working.  Working very hard, every day, and it’s still not enough for you people.  There is no difference between this life I lead and slavery.  What freedom do I really have?  I am forced to work a job I hate, made to feel inadequate and useless there, just a bag of flesh on the end of a shovel.  I come home caked in mud from head to toe.   In exchange, every two weeks I get a pay cheque.  Not only do I not get to keep a dime of it, I actually don’t even make enough to just exist.

After rent, loan payment, food (real food, not restaurants) and maybe enough for public transit to and from work every day (often not even enough for that) that is the extent of my income.  But wait, there’s still bills to pay!  Things that were once luxuries are now necessities.  I have to have a cell phone for work, I have to have internet access to submit my pay sheet and the latest software for the occasional contract writing or editing gig I might be able to get. You know, what I actually went to school for.  A laundry card that gobbles up $20 bills like the cookie monster. Hydro, heat, phone, you can’t exist without these things and the price on all of them keeps going up and up and up.

But there is no understanding, or compassion, or humanity on the end of that phone.  I’m a deadbeat right?  Get a better job, you tell me. I sure do love getting career advice and condescending life lessons from someone whose job consists of phoning people and following a step by step sheet telling them what to say.  I also love that the people responsible for ruining the economy and there being no good jobs left… are the ones telling me I’m the problem.

Don’t worry, you’ll soon be replaced by an automated voice system, then you can be on the wrong end of the phone call. Or, more than likely, you already are.  I can’t imagine you’re getting paid all that well to sit at that desk and make those calls.  I don’t think that was your dream in life, or what you are truly capable of.  You do it for the same reason I do… to exist.

You probably hang up the phone and receive a call from the person two cubicles down, telling you to get a better job and make more money so you can pay your bills.  Then you make that same call to client #14832.

But hey, I deserve it.  It’s my fault that you put through a $10 service charge one day before the payment went through, when I had exactly the amount of money for the payment in the account.  I couldn’t afford it, had to borrow it, and you know I have trouble making the payments every month.  You don’t care though.

I mean who the fuck do I think I am?  Going to school?!  Trying to actually do what I love!??!? Trying to pursue something meaningful and fulfilling with my life.  What an asshole I am!  My parents aren’t wealthy, so I shouldn’t have borrowed the money.  I shouldn’t have tried to make something of myself.  I should have accepted that I am lower class and stayed in my fucking place.  Don’t worry, I hear you readers.  I know what that voice in your head is telling you, what you’re on your way to post in the comment section. You’re absolutely 100% right!  I deserve this life I lead.  I am a worthless, non-contributing piece of garbage.  I should feel this way, every day.

“Get off your ass and get a better job you fucking loser!”

Go ahead and say it, I know that’s what you’re thinking.  Trust me, I think it every day.  And believe it or not, I try and change it every day too.

So does my girlfriend.  So do all of our friends.  So do our parents and their friends.  As we all become more and more marginalized.  As scores of highly intelligent, useful individuals with life experience, qualifications, degrees, careers and mortgages fill the ranks at Wal Mart, Starbucks, Home Depot and McDonalds.  As we scrabble and claw and beg and plead for even the sniff of a chance to get a part-time position at minimum wage.  As the mills close, the unions die, the pay-cheques shrink, the industries crumble, the tuition increases, the degrees and diplomas become obsolete.  It’s all we’re good for right?  It’s all that’s available, so it must mean that we’re all just that useless.  We deserve to feel this way, and to live this way.

And when we’re accepted for this lofty position, they hand us our schedule and their offer for what our life is worth:

Five days a week.  20 hours a week.  Minimum Wage.  Take it or leave it.  You’ll get a ten cent raise in two years!

That’s enough to survive on, right?  Sure it is!  Don’t you dare get another job either, we have to be your number one priority.  After all, we’ve given you a job.  In this economy, that’s better than most people can hope for.  Be happy you have one.  Sure it’s not even remotely enough to feed yourself, or god forbid if you have children or a sick and injured family member to take care of. Good luck with that!

But that’s okay, I heard on the news that consumer confidence is on the rebound!

Did you hear that taxpayers?  The stock market is starting to stabilize!  Woo hoo!  Thank god almighty, I thought the CEO was going to have to sell his second Jumbo Jet.  Oh how amazing, what terrific news.  I can do my part to keep that stock price stable.   I can look at that consumer confidence index with pride, knowing I did my part.  What a glorious contribution.  What a life to lead.

After all, I have no hopes and dreams and aspirations.  I have no desire or decent qualities.  I have no ideas, no intellect, nothing to offer this world.

I’m just a liberal, socialist, democrat, marxist, republican, conservative, libertarian voter!  Who should I vote for, please tell me!?  The guy who wants to go to war, or the guy who wants to go to war?  I’ll vote for that guy, thanks for the choice! Oh boy, what freedom!  I totally see why we want other countries to live like this.  Bombs away, let’s bring freedom and democracy to those poor fools!

Sure, I’m just a student, consumer, client, loan recipient, credit card holder, employee right now, but maybe one day I can climb the ladder and into management!  I can be an employer!  Heck, that’s far better than anything I would have done with my life.  Thank you!  Thank you so much!  I’ll shut up now and get back to work.  I see the wisdom now.  I see how wrong I’ve been.  I see how fantastic this all is.  I see why people so violently defend this beautiful, perfect system we have going here.

I’m gonna work hard so those taxpaying, stockholders can one day go from potential buyers into homeowners!

I am a resident of this community, and an advocate for this way of life!

Merry Christmas to All and to All a Good Night!

December 24, 2009 Posted by | General Society Ramblings | , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

The Reality of the Economic Crisis

Here’s where we’re at folks.  The end of the line.

“The end of free-market capitalism”

I’ve heard it called.

“The sub-prime mortgage crisis”

Some blame it on.

“A global economic meltdown”

Time for some major change.

So, our entire way of life is exposed as a rickety, weak, hollow, card house that collapses in a heartbeat, so what do we do?  We throw money at it!  We actually try and prop this mangled, pathetic card house back up with the exact cause of the collapse!

Kind of like tossing a bucket of water on a tsunami.

Kind of like throwing a candle at a forest fire.

Sort of the equivalent of hurling a snow ball at an avalanche.

Bail outs?  Our solution is bail-outs?!?!  And regulation?  But please, don’t get me wrong, the other side of the coin is just as, if not more retarded. Tax breaks and the same freewheeling market that got us here?  Those are the only two “solutions” on the table? Really?

Let me give you a hint.  They are both wrong.

It’s time for a new political ideology.  It’s time for a complete and total re-assessment of the problems we’re facing, and a whole truck load of new ideas on how to solve them.  It’s time for all those really smart people who are currently calculating derivatives, investments and algorithms dedicated to stripping you of your money, to start working on how to get us out of this mess.  To start working on new, relevant, current philosophies and systems of governance.  It’s time to re-think where we’re at and where we need to be going and what we need to do to get there.  It’s time to realize that money got us to where we are, and it was helpful in doing so.  The market, and current currency based political ideologies pushed us to produce and to innovate, and it kept us waking up on time in the morning. It replaced an outdated and oppressive feudalist society and that was a good thing.  It served a purpose at a time, but that time has long passed.  And no government or bank or wall street finance expert or CEO will ever realize that.  They will fight with every fiber in their being to defend the only thing they know.  They will scratch and claw to keep themselves important.

They are all irrelevant.

Just as has been the case countless times in history it is up to regular people to figure that out and to do something about it.  Don’t hold your breath for your senator and your congressman and your boss and your bank to get it.  They won’t. Get it yourself, and then, here’s the tough part… do something about it.  This will not likely happen until the situation is beyond bearable.  Or, as has also happened countless times in history, we can sit back and do nothing.  We can, if we chose, sit back and say nothing as we are cast backwards into complete and total oppression and subservience.  If the current general attitude, apathy, complacency and inertia continues, that’s where we’re headed folks, real soon… buckle up.

I can hear you shouting already in your trained, knee jerk reaction ” He’s denouncing capitalism. He’s a Communist!  A Socialist!”  No dumbass, those are all outdated and irrelevant ideologies.  We need to start looking at ideas and solutions for this world, for now, for our current state of affairs… not for/from the 1800’s.

“It’s time to evolve ideas, you know evolution didn’t end with us growing thumbs, right? It didn’t end there. We’re at the point now that we’re going to have to evolve ideas. The reason the world’s so fucked up is we’re undergoing evolution, and the reason our institutions, our traditional religions are all crumbling is because… they’re no longer relevant. So it’s time for us to create a new philosophy.” – The Late Great Bill Hicks

The reality is this.  The housing market crashed because a house is built so that people can live in it.  Not so that real estate tycoons can buy and sell them like stocks and bonds pushing their ‘value’ into the stratosphere.  A home is a tangible structure which at one time was priced according to what working people could afford.  It was.  Until, like everything else in our society, they became merely another pawn in the profit game, and all the humanity was squeezed mercilessly out of the house.

They stopped being homes, and started being ‘the housing market.’

I work full-time and couldn’t dream of ever owning a home.  It cost me more to attend one year of school than my parents paid for a 5 acre property with a house on it merely one generation ago.  That’s not inflation, that’s sucking the right to live in a real house out of an entire generation.  My boss, a professional of ten years, can’t dream of ever owning a home.  He lives with room-mates.  Your boss shouldn’t live with room-mates.  I don’t know a single person within ten years of me who can aspire to do anything other than inherit their parents or grandparents property.  It’s like we’re all just sitting around waiting for them to die and hoping we were the good child.  The beneficiary lottery.  It’s a sad, demoralizing and completely ridiculous way to live. Why?  Because houses aren’t built for people to live in any more.  There is no correlation between real, human wages, and the price of a home.  And you’ll never see a piece of legislation introduced that keeps those two interdependent things in line with each other.  Ever.

Every year my rent increases, no questions asked.  That’s just what happens.  Well that’s just what’s been happening for too long.  Now I’m paying $1000 a month for a one bedroom apartment.  And not a very nice one either.  I know people paying close to $2000.  Two people working full-time jobs in a one bedroom apartment should not be living in poverty and barely making rent every month.  How is a single mother supposed to survive in this world?  We are all systematically being driven mercilessly into poverty where our only choice is to sign up for the credit being dangled at us.  This is not frivolous spending.  This is survival spending.  This is rent and food and getting to work every day. That’s all I do.  I don’t drink, I don’t party, I rarely leave my house.  I don’t do anything.  Not because I don’t want to.  Because I can’t.  Every single action costs money, and lots of it.  Every year the price goes up.  On everything.  And every pay-cheque we’re going backwards.  The credit card interest piles up, adding on to the already extortionist cost of simply having a place to sleep.  This is the life that almost everyone I know in all walks of life is living right now.  Engineers, doctors, barely scraping by. People who have done what they’re ‘supposed to do’ – gone to good schools, gotten good jobs.  These aren’t deadbeats, so why are they forced to live like one and feel like one?  You cannot sustain a society where every single person in it is perpetually plummeting further and further into debt.  You cannot fix that issue by propping up those same credit companies with taxes on those same people who are already drowning in debt.

We cannot tax, subsidize, credit and bail-out our way out of this. We also can’t cut taxes, wage wars and let the free market run free to get out of this.  BOTH ARE EQUALLY STUPID AND OUTDATED SOLUTIONS.  They are not solutions, they are the cause of the problems.

“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”  – Albert Einstein

I see this quote thrown around a lot.  But I don’t see it applied very often.

The economy collapsed because the same lack of forward thinking swallowed up our jobs too.  A job is not just something you do every day to keep the stock afloat so that a handful of gamblers can buy and trade shares in your company.  A job is a contribution to your society in which you are given a fair compensation, so that you can live in a home, eat food and purchase the goods produced by others in your society.  At least it was.  The extreme of this we are now witnessing. We have highly trained, well-educated, useful people being forced to work menial, pointless positions at the fifteen mega chain stores that dominate every town and every city to pay off their ridiculously expensive education.  For what?  For who?  For Wall Street?  For a couple of CEO’s?

Humanity has become a machine.  There is no humanity left.  And there won’t be until human beings realize it, and demand more of themselves, for themselves and by themselves.

Stop defending a system that ritualistically fucks you in the ass on a daily basis, suppresses your potential and denies your ability to live a respectable and decent life.

Stop pretending all is well and all will be made well through legislation and banking.

Start taking some pride in your existence and your self worth.  Start caring.  Stop shrugging your shoulder and saying “That’s just the way it is.”

It doesn’t have to be.  And the only reason it is that way, is because you and me let it get that way, and continue to let it get worse.

Every day.

or you can leave it up to this guy to fix.

Because that’s working so well for us isn’t it?

December 22, 2009 Posted by | The Great Collapse | 67 Comments

It’s time to stick our fingers under our armpits.

The other day I was at work and it was cold. Really fucking cold. My fingers were wet from the rain and the hail and the wind was blowing colder than I can remember it ever blowing on the west coast. I tried rubbing my hands together, blowing on them, but these were just short term fixes. The cold came back quickly and I couldn’t feel my icy digits any more. Then I remembered a trick my mother had taught me as a child. I stuck my numb, frozen fingers in my armpits. Believe it or not, this simple action led to an epiphany.

An analogy leapt into my odd little head. It seemed to me, the perfect metaphor for our species and our society. Hear me out! You see, the fingers and toes are out on the edge of the body, we even call them our ‘extremities.’ When you think about it, they do most of the work. The really important stuff is almost all done by the fingers. But they are also the most vulnerable. The least protected. Do they get a nice, cushy envelope of protective fat, skin and hard bones like the vital organs? No! They’re out there every single day doing all of the hard work, while the brain sits up top organizing the body. The brain you see, is the government of our body. And when the fingers get cold to the point where they just can’t do anything anymore… the brain tries to help them out. It decides it will bail out the fingers, by pumping out bucket loads of excess body heat. But like a bail-out, none of the money, I mean heat, ever reaches the fingers… the ones who need it most.

Imagine that, the fingers, without who the rest of the body cannot be useful and fruitful. The fingers, who do all that important work that the rest of the body benefits from. The mouth would never get to eat without the fingers. The muscles wouldn’t get strong, the words wouldn’t get written, the shoes wouldn’t get tied… indeed, the fingers are vital. But they get no heat. They are left out in the cold to fend for themselves.

“I’m doing what I can,” says the useless brain, and yet the fingers remain cold.  The brain pumps out even more heat, until it can’t even function any more.  It has given itself a fever.

But, you know, with all that excess heat being pumped out of the brain into the upper body… the ruling class. There’s a lot of heat going to waste. You just have to know where to look. Maybe change how you look at things. Maybe don’t be so embarrassed about some stupid social conventions and just stick your fucking fingers in your fucking armpits!

You’ll be amazed what happens. It’s a shock to the system at first for sure. So unexpected, the overheated and the frozen meeting in this dark, sweaty underbelly of the body. But that doesn’t last long. Real quick they both realize the enormous benefit to the whole body. The armpits are cooled down to a reasonable temperature. The brain calms down and goes back to doing whatever the fuck it does all day. The fingers are given a chance to warm up and get out of the cold. Hey, it’s the least we can do after all the hard work they’ve done for the rest of us. Think of all the great things fingers do! They’re awesome!

So let’s stop treating fingers with disdain when they need it most. Let’s not push them so hard for so little and then when they come to us in a time of despair leave them all wet and cold with no real solutions. We can’t just expect them to work so hard and not share in any of the benefits of being part of the body. Let’s not drive them to the brink of insanity, let’s not push them until they ache and freeze and are forced to beg for assistance or revolt.

Come on society, let’s stick our fingers in our armpits!

December 22, 2009 Posted by | General Society Ramblings | Leave a comment