Many people suffer during the holidays. It is an exceedingly busy time of the year and many of our years are filled in preparation. We measure our goals annually. We compare this year with the last and see what hope we have for what remains. We reflect on our lives. No wonder Halloween seems to kick it all off. It can be a nightmare. Maybe that’s why my whole body broke down last week and today on Thanksgiving I’m still recovering. The stress of it all can be overwhelming. But I’m thankful for that sickness. While it spelled out complete failure in achieving my goals, since I was laid up in bed, it also gave me time to reflect and find a quiet place in the midst of the struggle. I needed to adjust the timing of my vision.
Timing is seldom as we would have it. I have learned that the hard way many times. Then when the age of sixty five approached, it pushed itself onto my vision again, only to humble me, once more. So as if to ad to my nausium (sic), as the holidays approach, rather than being the Santa Claus that can help everyone I would like to help this year, I find myself fortunate to have a roof over my head, and food for my growing family, just barely making it. Here on Thanksgiving Day, with fifteen minutes I’ve set aside to express my thoughts – stretched by typos and editing much longer, I’m reminded by the occasion that I am indeed grateful for the Living God, who speaks to me despite my poor listening ability, even if it requires removing my health for the sake of slowing me down and finding that quiet place.
For many of us, myself included, the happy memory of youthful Thanksgivings gathered around large families, breaking out the leaves on the dinner table, enjoying parlor games, and if like me being able to swim and go to the beach without being cold because we’re from Florida’s paradise, and as children, having few cares in the world, we think to ourselves, “how can any Thanksgiving ever be like that again?” Most of the people we loved are gone, and certainly that carefree life is gone. We are the providers now, and we are not doing the best job of it. Family fortunes are lost. It’s up to us now to bring about good endings to our lives. Entering the senior years we consider what we can do with our remaining days to make the best of them. Some of us have more work to do than others. Some have achieved their dreams and have provided their children with the great experiences we had when we were young. If that’s you, I’m super glad for you. It’s exactly what I would hope for myself and for anyone.
Others grew up under-privileged. For these, I have a dream they will know one day what Thanksgivings like that can be like. Some have. Not enough. Never enough. I wish we all had that. Don’t you? We all have that opium of the people called religion to offer what the world fails to. That’s what I’d think if I’d lost my faith anyway. I’m among that 1% of philosphy post-graduates who is still a theist. Academia is misguided. I am here to show them their error – the details of which belong in some other blog. Today, I share my Thanksgiving Day thoughts. I am at a particular place in a particular way. I caught a very bad flu bug a few weeks ago that I still haven’t shaken. My head still sounds stuffy. I’m still in bed quarantining myself as best as I can from my wife and children.
This couldn’t have happened at a worse time. I was supposed to be on the phones. I was supposed to be in pharmacies helping people during the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period. A person with an active virus and a conscience doesn’t do that. Change of plan.
So, this is what I heard from God in my quiet time about it all. Next year is another year. You can do what you can. If I had been designed to be a natural born salesman, I would be wealthy right now. I am not a salesman. I am an educator. I am a visionary. I design things. I see what the future could be like. I try to spell it out for others to work together to achieve. We each have our gifts and our role and our calling. Should I be insulted by the successful salesmen in my life, or the otherwise well-to-do who think I lack what it takes to succeed? Should I feel looked down upon? Should they feel superior to me? Should I feel inferior to them?
No, not at all. If they want to look down on me, that’s their life. I won’t judge it. But in my quiet time, I came to terms with what matters to me at the core of who I am and affirmed the sense of purpose I’ve had growing inside myself from my youth. I know now more certainly than I ever have that I’d rather be poor than sacrifice my convictions. I may make a living by commissions, but I am not and will not become a salesperson. I will be a visionary and an educator. I will be a consultant.
Salespeople annoy me. They tell me what I want to hear so they can keep my attention until I give them what they want – my money. They annoy me endlessly with phone calls and advertisements that clog up my time, my voicemail, my inboxes. They disrupt coversations and the work I’m doing. They hire telemarketers who ruin peoples’ lives and take their money. I have to pay money to remove the interruption of their ads. I’m on a budget. But they won’t leave me alone. They think they’re better than me because they make money doing that while I resist selling things to people I woudn’t sell to myself if I were them. They justify it in their minds as what needs to be done to succeed in this world because it’s the only thing that works.
Sadly they are right. Still, they dismiss the fact that I have a conscience and won’t hurt anyone else to earn my money. I just can’t. Even if they want me to call, most don’t want me to call. If they really want what I’ve got, they’ll get on the phone and get it taken care of. They’ve probably already taken care of it or they would have called me back, typically within a day, if they haven’t come across something that gave them second thoughts already and changed their mind. I know this because they tell me. So I’ve learned that the odds are I’m disturbing someone even if I’m just following up on business they initiated. To a successful saleman, this is a form of weakness on my part – maybe some rationalization or excuse to avoid rejection. I can squeeze a lot more out of my leads if I’ll just imitate what they do. Others may suggest I’ve self sabotaged my success by resisting their sound advice. But that’s not true. I do press back and override that fear and I definitely do my follow up where a professional standard ought to be set. It’s courteous. It’s expected. It’s right -both to them and to myself. But there is a gray area. And in that area the phone gets harder to pick up, or easier if its on my side of the gray. But I don’t like their level of use of the phone.
They want me to call twice in a row, or three times. That way the prospect senses urgency. They want me to do this three times daily for each lead – morning afternoon and evening. Can’t miss that way. They want me to keep calling for months. They want me to use an autodialer, plus texts. Its all a numbers game. They’ve even suggested I buy years old fifty cent leads and bragged about how that’s how they got their start.
Hell to the no. I hated the phone long before this. I hated the phone for the simple reason that it isn’t asynchronous. I personally hate getting calls at the wrong moment and hate playing phone tag. Emails and texts are read at the receivers’ convenience. They don’t even have to think of how to politely hang up if they’re not interested. And they can unsubscribe, which reduces my costs and their future hassles. But with phones, the National Do Not Call Registry is almost useless. Robo programs to detect and deal with spam and scam calls are yet another waste of money. They don’t work.
But it’s not just the phones. It’s personality types. Learn them. Build your corporate culture around them. What do you want your company to be? What does your conscience tell you?
I should be clear about this. Empathy is not absent but different for a salesman than it is for an actual empathic consultant. A salesman will pick up on others’ feelings only to use them for their own ends. I pick up on how people feel because out of natural instinct I ask, “what if that was me?” We both have feelings. Salemen have feelings. The difference is the way our conscience works. Consultants don’t like using people.
Some people also think that successful salesmen all have alpha personalities. They will win at all costs. This is an unfair characterization. I actually respect most alpha types. They have an energy and a charisma that keeps on going like the Energizer Bunny. Not all successful salespeople are alphas. Many are. In truth, to be a successful salesperson, all you have to do is follow the rules and the scripts. It’s a numbers game. A good script and a good system can make success inevitable and for an alpha. Any path to success is a winning path, so many successful salespeople are alphas. Simple. A consultant at heart, by contrast, may take moral issue with the system itself and avoid or alter it. That probably won’t stop an alpha. Recruiters, just choose the corporate culture you want. Hire at least a few genuine empaths if you’re interested in building a better system.
So to be clear, its not alphas but pushy salespeople that are the problem. For me, I would rather fix problems than be a part of them. Yet, I’m forced into the irony that it takes money to make money. And that is yet one more problem in this world I would seek a solution for if I could. I do have a knack for designing systems. Don’t misunderstand. I don’t reinvent wheels. Wheels work. I only reinvent wheels claiming to be wheels when they don’t work. I fix flats. And I value the sprocket of innovation. I sew them to my top hats because I get passionate about creating high impact change – seeking to fix only things I believe are broken, things that nag me by their pain for attention. It’s a heck of a thing to think about when you are in your bed high on Nyquil for weeks at a time. Does it really have to be true that it must take money to make money?
Oh, I wish you knew how I’ve thought about that problem.
All of this is to say, don’t be surprised if you find messages from me in your email. This is known as drip marketing. It’s nothing personal. It’s just that I can balance my principles. You may find me dressing up my ads with entertainment. You may find me exceptionally courteous. You may get some thoughtful but obviously mass emailed holiday notes and reminders in the least pushy ways, that you must excuse because such niceties have become expected business courtesy among the highly capitalized, with whom I’m expected to compete. And in the years to come, you may see the JamesCarvin.com web site morph into an insurance educator’s paradise. That’s my goal. If you want to know anything about insurance, JamesCarvin.com will be the place to find out about it, whether you are a sales professional, or a prospective client.
That’s all fair game. I may even call. This is the line between push and pull marketing. I prefer to be contacted because you got engaged in a subject I was writing about. You asked me questions. That is pull. That is the world I would want to live in. And I won’t fail to call you when I myself would want to be called in the same situation it sounds like you’re in. Allow me to live the future I want if I can. So, I dream of ways. I clear my sinuses. I dream some more. I pray more.
I’ve been very general about the difference between salespeople and genuine consultants. If you’ve kept up with me, you know that I recently got another college degree and that I have now started an insurance business. Since then I have sold quite a bit of insurance to people, thinking about what I would personally want and need. I consider this all a continuing education. Unfortunately, I’ve come to tangibly realize through actual contact with the public that the people who need insurance the most are the people who can least afford it. There is a learning curve involved in continuing education like this and no one gets credit for it. But being wired as I am, when encountering snags and SNAFUs, I continue going to great lengths to find solutions to hard problems I’m personally running into. This tendency has proven to be the downfall of many an entrepreneur. I realize I’ll have to choose my battles wisely.
Still, I get frustrated when I can’t help people who ask me for help. Your problem is always my problem. That’s not how a salesman thinks. A salesman doesn’t have time for problems. They are in this for themselves. The only problem you have they care about is the one that profits them. You won’t hear a downside too often, if there is one. Maybe you’re lazy or just lack time. What you want is a recommendation and to get it done. Or, you’ve already made up your mind. You’re not asking for information. You just want to get your contracts set up so you can get to your next chore. Your lack of time to invest in solving this problem is understandable. A consultant and an educator doesn’t want to waste your time or theirs either. A medical doctor has his or her next appointments, as well. You don’t have to listen to their advice but you can bet they wish you would. If you don’t trust them, then change doctors if you can. Let me check your insurance and youre network. A true consultant just want to make sure they’ve really solved your problem. And in fact, if what you want isn’t in your best interest, then it’s in our best interest to slow you down and ask if you’ve got a moment to rethink it. Maybe we should even step in and sell you what you need rather than what you want. We ideally have a good diagnosis, prognosis and treatment plan. Let us earn your trust. And at times, let us be pushy.
As I roll around in my bed in the middle of the night, high on Nyquil, my thoughts are on pushy salesmen. That’s funny. Who’d a thunk it?
But it’s relevant. I may be predisposed to hate pushiness, but that doesn’t mean I won’t push you into a decision when I know it’s in your interest to make one, if you’ll allow me. I may even seem forceful. One too many times I’ve lost a sale, only to find out someone chose a product that was to their detriment. It compares to knowing your child is about to step out into traffic. There is a time you must take command. Force a sale. Sternly warn and admonish. There is a time to say to someone, “don’t think about this.” Sign up now. Adjust later. We lose prospects way too often who say, “I’ll think about it.” What are you thinking about? My consulting gave you your best answers because I cared about you. I know my competitors. I could have contracted with them if I had wanted to. Did you hear me when I told you this?
One too many times I’ve made the mistake of setting up another appointment only to hear my client chose another company with another product. Even when my appointment was in home, face to face, they’ve done this. They respond to the first ad they see as soon as I leave, having given them something to think about. That’s a rookie mistake. Not only have I walked away from money but people hurt themselves and make bad choices just because I let them. It’s irresponsible of me to be so polite. Within 24 hours of my stepping out the door without a contract, they’ll call a salesperson instead of a consultant.
They won’t know this though. Salespeople are trained to sound like consultants when they aren’t wired by God to be consultants. They are slick. They withhold information they know could be a deal breaker. And they sometimes lie. Learn to discern. Calling a trusted name makes no difference. Think about it. Long standing brands hire salespeople. They teach consulting to their salespeople but they don’t hire empaths because true empaths won’t work for them unless they have the right products. They work for their shareholders. Their volume isn’t built on better products. It is built on a thirstier sales force. I won’t say trusted brands can never be trusted. I have contracts with many of them. But I wouldn’t recommend you go to them directly. They can only sell you their own products. And they are very good at doing that.
For a true consultant, this matters. They will be independent and build their business much more slowly than average in order to contract with all the right suppliers. They will rarely be held captive as an employee of one company because that will not likely be in the best interest of the majority of the people they would like to help. People don’t just lose money and benefits when they make inferior buying decisions. They don’t just pay too much for policies that way; they hurt their families. If I care about that, I need to be pushier sometimes. I also need to take more time and emphasize the importance of doing what I’m asking. It may be in a client’s best interest to let me save our time by directing a conversation. I might even run the risk of being a sheep in wolves clothing, but I’ll be honest and direct with you about it. Still, I don’t want to deprive you of the quality time you really do need.
The family that gave me a raw lesson on taking more time, was a life policy. The woman used her thirty day think about it period to shop other companies. I educated her before and after the sale, but didn’t think to warn her not to continue shopping around since I had already checked and knew she had the best policy she could qualify for. I’d spent more than the average amount of time the field marketing organization I was working with recommended but I should have ignored them. She went and got a cheaper quote over the phone as soon as I left – and it was even a company I represent, probably my favorite insurance carrier, in fact.
Tragically, the only way she could get contracted was by lying on her application over the phone, avoiding the disclosure of the specific info I had just asked her and she had disclosed to me. She was declined on that policy but not before canceling the good policy that I had just written for her, thinking she had cleverly scammed the system. She hadn’t paid attention to the fact that I had just told her that the underwriters were going to look at those meds and decline her app using a background check, so being honest was essential. She failed to trust me. I should have repeated myself. This is no made up story. She died from a fall in her home just two days after she cancelled the lower face value policy I produced for her. She listened to her friends, who said she could buy more for less because they could instead of me. I should have taken extra time to warn her and explain why she should trust my word over her friends, why should think of me like a doctor. My license came with much study and my experience has value too. I should have repeated myself. I should have gone out of my comfort zone and warned her not to be dishonest. I could have found a delicate way to say it. This was a poor woman. It cost her children their entire would-have-been-tax-free inheritance. I felt that family’s loss very deeply.
It’s tempting to give more examples of why being pushier can make sense. This is what experience teaches. But I’m still not a salesman. This is consulting. Consulting can seem like pushy sales. Pushy sales can seem like consulting. When you are with me, you are consulting someone who really doesn’t want you to suffer, really treats you the way they would want to be treated, and sometimes isn’t pushy enough. My approach earns me a living more slowly. But I have to live by my principles. Bear with me while I am still learning but let me earn your trust.
Integrity comes at a price. I have been living through what it is like to be hardly able to make ends meet. And I have learned about what “the system” offers. Still I trust in the value of waiting, in doing things right. In the end, I believe people will come to me. I will be recommended. I should be recommended. I will have to earn that. But that’s the right path. It is a path I’m dedicated to and grateful for, in fact, as I reflect on it this Thanksgiving Day, hoping for one last decent week in the Annual Enrollment Period as I finish my Z-pack. I say this not as a platitude but knowing with reborn clarity what drives me. You see …
When we moved to Tallahassee it was because my sister was in a nursing home on Medicaid here and she needed someone to check on her care. Spending every day visiting gave me a good dose of what life in nursing homes is like. Many were never visited by their families. Some didn’t have any. Many groaned in agony not to be tended to for a very long time. And we had moved my sister to Tallahassee because of the possibility she had been abused in her previous nursing home. In 2017, my brother also suffered a very humiliating death one year after my sister. Everything in me called for changing the way things were in that system. It wasn’t just about me and my realization that in the coming days I too would have to deal with stretching out a retirement income so that I wouldn’t have to suffer the death of the poor, or use up any savings paying for health costs, depriving my children of the privilege I had when I was young.
It all started to pain me when my son suffered with kidney stones at an even greater rate than I did. I regularly give birth to a stone at least once every seven years. I’m currently overdue for one. Maybe returning to the vegeterianism of my youth has helped. But as for the system, it lacked a sufficient health plan by the time my son suffered from his first one. And when I couldn’t afford the ritalin my other son needed to get through school, health plans were on my mind yet again – but by then I didn’t have a good group health plan from an employer, I was on my own and Obamacare hadn’t been invented yet. My wife had her stroke at thirty eight in 2003. She’s been paralyzed in one side ever since. This avalanche of health problems in my family happened shortly after this photo was taken, when I still had a good government job. Never mind the health expense; the loss of two incomes in the family, both hers and mine, resulted in bankruptcy and has made life difficult ever since.
This photo symbolizes a turning point for me. It represents the time before this endless struggle, crystalized by that bankruptcy, so hard to recover from as a sole bread winner and sole caregiver in a family with special needs. I’m grateful for this beautiful family and I’m grateful for me. I was a family man. What drove me was love. I’m grateful for that love. But I must admit that this was not a natural gift. My sister was abandoned by her husband when she had her stroke. I often thought of what life could have been like if I’d simply run from my difficulties, but such thoughts were always fleeting. I didn’t let them fester long enough to frustrate me and make me feel resentful. Never let temptation fester. It is inevitable. But its end is unthinkable.
I want to be honest with you. I’m not trying to paint myself as a saint. These are just my thoughts this Thanksgiving Day. Sure I put my best foot forward. That’s just professionalism. But honesty matters. I won’t go so far as to say I was grateful for my predicament or any of my hardships. I won’t even say that on Thanksgiving Day. Truthfully, sometimes I was grateful for my suffering but generally that wasn’t how my feelings would be characterized. But this isn’t about some display of humility. It’s actually something much better than that. In truth, any gratitude there occasionally was for all my hardships was as part of a larger package of love. Empathy is a love that doesn’t necessarily come from natural instinct so much as the pain of loss with its healing wounds and scars. Empathy was granted to me by my helpless sister. And to be even more accurate, it was first instilled in me by my mother, who saw me and saved and protected me often when I was beat up by my own older brother at a very young age. My sister’s room was also a place of refuge for me in those days. And my mother loved us all unconditionally. I learned forgiveness and unconditional love through her. My brother may have been rough, but we knew unconditional love. And for that, how could I be anything but grateful?
Perhaps my mother’s protection set a foundation. My mother was strong and good. That in itself was an exceptional blessing. But it is said that in our weakness God’s strength is perfected. God spoke to me through my helpless sister, reminding me of the helplessness I once felt as a toddler seeking my mother’s protection. You see, any grace I have in having acquired exceptional love, comes from a divine purpose, where all such things came together for good in me. Only through my sister’s suffering could I have fully felt this. I simply couldn’t imagine a world where my wife was abandoned the way my sister had been. I don’t attribute my compassion for others to any natural gift of mine. I absorbed it the hard way. I felt my sister’s pain. And it seems, after all is said and done, that these health issues have to some extent shaped and defined my calling. That’s something I’m grateful for in this moment. There is purpose underneath this hardship. I wish I always had an attitude of gratitude. I do at times. But most importantly, I have love. Not necessarily being loved by others, but being inclined to love others, even those who hurt me.
Salesmen are succinct. I blog. Alpha males never show vulnerability. They just win. That’s how people are designed. And most aren’t alphas. I’m not one. I’m not a beta either. I’m confident in who I am. I’m happy to hold a meaningful conversation. And few would fail to describe me as a leader. Look up sigma males and that’s where I think you’re likely to find me. Vulnerability may turn women off, but I’m not on a woman hunt and as vain as I sometimes can be, I’m becoming too old to care. Commanding conversations may be useful for phone skills in sales, and I may not be as good at curt persuasion as I wish I was. But like the sign on my sister’s wall said, “God doesn’t make no junk.” She lived by that and so can I.
So as I’ve reflected on my life in this recent quiet time, what I’ve sensed God saying is that I’ll be okay just the way I am. I just need to slow down and not beat myself up for failing to meet my own unreasonable hopes and expectations. I’ll be able to provide for my family, and perhaps, as a bonus, He will in the years to come, still speak through me not just through the wider vision I’ve shared through through the years as I’ve set the foundation for The Pamalogy Society and all it might potentially entail, but at least, and perhaps foremost, by utilizing these life lessons to build my legacy one step at a time, even with a modest if lengthier than hoped daily struggle paying monthly bills at the present time as I build my insurance business. Whatever is being molded and shaped in me, that is what I’m grateful for. I release my own vision and invite whatever is most pleasing to the Lord by His greater strength, knowledge and wisdom, and offer my utmost gratitude to God’s grand design, rather than my own, as wonderful as what I already see may seem. My own best masterpiece will be the path of least resistance to that of my Designer. In this work, not just in my own life, but in the fullness of that Realm, I not only bring my utmost gratitude, but rejoicing and awe. And my best advice to you on that is … Be there!
I’ve been working on my branding problem in my spare time. It’s been a daunting project. What’s on your front page? If you were to tell your story, where would you begin? Would you start at the end, the beginning or somewhere in the middle? What theme would you highlight? What would you want the world to know?
It’s easier for some than others. My latest card involved a simple change of phone number from the previous one. I’ve also changed my email address. But those aren’t branding issues. It’s the images and logos. There is a story behind each one of them. Most people would opt for simplicity. Why did I put a hat on that dolphin? Why two that aren’t the same? What are these other symbols?
The cardinal rule in marketing and advertising is “less is more.” I’m going to advertiser hell for this business card. I know it. But it gets worse. Here’s the back…
Yeah, that’s right. So unprofessional. Why?
Marketing Organizations vs Products
As an independent insurance broker, I can contract and produce insurance products for all sorts of companies. I’m in charge of choosing what I can recommend and I really like that. I contract with more than most independent brokers because I’m about people more than I’m about commissions. People have a variety of needs and qualifications. But I have a problem. I do want to bring attention to the companies I work with and to the insurance products I offer, but I need a single message – a simple idea. So what single message do I want to bring recognition to? Here’s my challenge …
I’ll start with marketing organizations. A field insurance marketing organization provides a nice plug and play system. The hard work of contracting is made easy.
I started my insurance career with one of the largest life insurance marketing organizations in the country – Family First Life.
FFL works with dozens of life insurance carriers, offering hundreds of life insurance products. Some of the names are already well recognized – names like Mutual of Omaha, Gerber, John Hancock, Aflac and Corebridge. Others are lesser known but quite good.
Then came Benzy. I had wanted to offer health insurance from the start. As an Independent Marketing Organization, Benzy offers two types of products – (1)Health Matching Accounts (HMAs) and (2)private health insurance plans. The insurance plans are with Allstate and Manhattan Life.
Let me offer a quick overview of the types of health insurance products this world has and where Benzy fits in. Health insurance products fall into a number of buckets. There are those that focus on the senior citizens and the Medicare/Medicaid market. And there are those who don’t. With the exception of the HMA, Benzy is for those who don’t. This latter bucket is then itself divided into two general categories – those who need comprehensive insurance to cover preconditions, and those who don’t. Again, with the exception fo the HMA, Benzy’s current line up of products through Allstate and Manhattan Life is for those who don’t. Then finally, there are those who can afford ACA plans (Obamacare) and those who can’t or are unwilling. Benzy products are for those who’d like to pay less money than they would with the Federally Facilitated Marketplace (FFM), which is how the Affordable Care Act (ACA – AKA Obamacare), attempts to make health insurance affordable for everyone. Benzy products don’t offer Obamacare. They offer more affordable alternatives. If government cost sharing and tax credits are needed, I provide that through Kellogg.
My goal was to offer every bucket. What Benzy didn’t do as a marketing organization, Kellog did do. If someone needs Obamacare, I can offer a variety of ACA Federally Facilitated Marketplace products. And if a person has, or needs to get onto Medicare, I have numerous carriers and products for that thanks to Kellogg. There are all sorts of things these organizations do for me in terms of back office support, lead generation, training and marketing so I don’t have to reinvent the wheel.
All that said, I can contract directly with carriers, as well. Tallahassee is one example. It’s my goal to represent all the best plans here in my local market. It’s a changing target that required a lot of training and certification so it’s no easy task, but to provide solutions no matter what the needs of my client are, it’s all part of what I do. I don’t want to be a salesman. I want to be a consultant. My job, is to simplify the complex by knowing how to explore options quickly and distill information into what matters most to my clients.
On this current iteration of my business card, I’ve chosen to add the logos of these three major marketing organizations. Without them, I would never have been able to start my business. Later, I’d like to train and organize an agency of my own. If you are interested in the insurance business, or know someone looking for a great career, I’m happy to mentor new agents. In a later, more simplified version, I’ll remove the IMO logos from my front page and business card. You only want one image. Right? Well … that leaves me with my dolphins. Ultimately, what I’m marketing is James Carvin Insurance. I want you to see my brand, not theirs. But to know my brand is to know my story. Would you like to know about me?
I’ve got a lot of content on the web. I started telling stories about my family after my father passed in 1995. I was working on my Masters degree and serving as an adjunct professor at a seminary at that time. There were group chats and forums avaialable on Compuserve back then. I was heavily engaged. Then later, I put up a lot of theological content on a group called CARM, as well. I also had a MySpace page and about a dozen others, all before Facebook existed. I owned and put up content on about forty domains to theme out my various interests. On Facebook, I manage dozens of groups and pages.
Despite all that, I never made the connections I wanted. One web site I built had over a hundred million page views in a three-month span but, as with several other businesses I hoped to get up and running, I was never able to raise funds. Ultimately, I had to set the whole enterprise to the side for another day and reinvent myself.
I got another degree. This one was in Interdisciplinary Studies at ASU. I busted through it easily in my part time with a 4.0 while I drove for Uber and Lyft. Uber paid for my degree. I thought better credentials might be useful and it only took a few years, so why not? IDS degrees are for those who want double majors. My concentrations were in philosophy and organizational leadership. My goal was to start a philosophical society. I call it the Pamalogy Society. Pamalogy is the philosophy of awesomeness – Awesomeology. It was a great idea, but back to the same old problem – I’m not a fund raiser at heart. I’m an inventor. So I haven’t yet gotten my philosophical society off the ground.
Meantime, I have bills to pay. What I needed was a business I didn’t invent from scratch. The insurance business solved that problem for me. Multi-billion dollar insurance companies needed knowledgeable people to offer their knowledge and expertise. I could do that. Why not just be an awesome insurance consultant? I can make a difference in people’s lives. That matters. And there were very few start up costs. But about that branding …
Can Dolphins Wear Top Hats?
I got baptized with my top hat on.
The top hat with sprocket is the Pamalogy Society logo. Top hats symbolize excellence. Sprockets symbolize innovation. Surely we are endowed with great imaginations and can invent new forms of excellence. Isn’t that what awesomeness is? When I put on my top hat, I recognize my call to excellence and innovation. Don’t think in problems. Think in solutions. Let me find you your solution! Are you paying too much for health care? Have you built a financial and digital legacy for your family? Did you fall in love with a charity you wanted to help?
I should be clear about this top hat deal. What’s the top hat about? Innovation? Excellence? Baptism?
Top hats tend to be symbols of success. But a Pamalogy Society top hat is not a declaration of success. It is a declaration of calling. It is a challenge. It is a reminder.
That’s why I got baptized wearing my top hat. Baptism is not a declaration of success. It is a declaration of a new identity. Baptism goes beyond reinvention and human creativity. It applies hope and faith to something that it envisions and calls upon. Baptism knows what it sees in part but it doesn’t pretend to grasp it entirely just yet. Its calling may be unknowable, in fact, yet faith and hope may be part of a baptism sufficiently to know and trust that whatever is to come is good and that we are entering into it.
That’s how baptism works. Its power and declaration are incomprehensible in this world. Eye has not seen nor has ear heard it.
Did that sound deep? As a philosopher, I ask big questions. One of them is what maximized awesomeness is. A theist will say God is maximized awesomeness. I agree. Maximized Awesomeness is exactly what God is. Perfection. You can’t get any better than that.
But when discussing philosophy, I aim for precision. I can’t be precise if the term “God” doesn’t mean the same thing for every person. It doesn’t.
Neither does the phrase, “maximized awesomeness” mean the same thing to everyone. Thank God for that. Now if I talk about mazimized awesomeness, for the sake of precision, I can consider each possible domain. How I can mazimize my awsomeness is one thing. How the world could maximize its awesomeness is another. Then there is what the best truth conceivable is – that is yet another thing. When we think about God, many of us think of that thing.
Maximized Awesomeness in that sense is that than which there could be nothing greater – a very specific description of God. That would be Perfection. But not everyone sees God as perfect. I wind up in discussions about why there is evil in creation. But that’s not what I’m going to talk about here. Here, I’m going to talk about dolphins.
Dolphins fall into the “this world” category of awesomeness.
Why do I like dolphins so much? Well … they are usually very friendly with us. They aren’t always friendly though. Some of them injure other animals. In fact, all of them do because they eat fish. Fish are animals. Manatees are much nicer.
Some people say animals don’t go to heaven. I don’t think that is true. I think the fundamental difference between humans and other animals is that we are more capable of intentionally knowing good from evil and seeking to change our behavior in order to seek the good and repent. We reject our own habits deliberately, purely for the sake of good.
I wouldn’t say animals can’t or never do consciously change their moral behavior. I’ve seen animals mourn. I’ve seen them groan with compassion. I’ve heard stories about them rescuing people. I’ve seen shame on dog’s faces. Who trained them to do that? Animals of many species often surprise us with kind and selfless acts. So why dolphins? It’s not their built in smile. That’s delightful but my dog gives me unconditional love too. Even my hamsters and guinea pigs loved me.
You know what it is? It’s their blow hole. Like a person being baptized, they go under the water and come back up so they can keep on living. Whales and other sea mammals do the same, I know, but dolphins, being roughly the same size as humans, and having a brain size to body mass ratio that is even bigger than humans, symbolize baptism for me. We definitely have to wash that intelligent brain free of stinking thinking and dolphin brains are bigger than human brains. Seals are sea dogs – so cute and pretty smart too. But they don’t have special blow holes declaring to the world their need to breathe and be born again. Seals, otters and penguins, manatees – I know. They’re all cute. They’re all amazing. But dolphins …
Dolphins are my personal brand. I won’t ramble. Do you want to know about the seven stars? Maybe another time. Suffice it to say there is a reason the dolphin with seven stars is the brand I chose. Putting a top hat on it was a very personal thing for me. The seven stars may stay but the hat is not going to be part of my long term insurance company brand. It belongs to my philosophical society brand. If you are interested in my philosophical concepts, let’s talk about them. As for my insurance brand – I will simplify. Give it some time.
I’ve become an insurance agent. If I had my way, things would be very different. There would be no need for insurance – neither health insurance, nor life insurance. There would be some forms of property insurance, but that wouldn’t involve money. It would involve privilege and rights. It’s a long story. But I don’t mind sharing it. Do you have a moment?
Well, if you are interested in insurance as privilege, click here. That’ll take care of that. But to get to what drives me, I’ve got to start at the beginning. The drift of it all begins with the question of what is wrong with everything.
I’m serious. What is wrong with everything?
You might think I’m asking a rhetorical question, but I am serious. And on a metaphysical level, I’m being literal – what is wrong with everything? And …
… what is everything to begin with? The particle physicists can’t even tell you what quarks are made of. The cosmologists don’t know how big or old the Universe is. How can we delve into what is wrong with everything if we don’t know what everything is?
We might also ask why everything is. Why?
As a philosopher, I think the answer to this second question provides the key to the first. The purpose of everything is the maximization of awesomeness. This is not just a catchy phrase. It is the actual reason. If you want to follow my reasoning and see how I came up with this answer, subscribe to Season One of my Podcast. I’m 100% serious.
So that takes care of that.
If you follow those links, you’ll see that I’ve covered a lot of ground I won’t have to repeat here. Let’s start with that context. Assume for a minute I’m right. If so, then the why question leads us to other big questions. Is what concerns us on a daily basis fufilling our purpose? If we are here to maximize awesomeness, then how? If your life is just, “blah” and “getting by” then does it concern you at all that you may have been missing out on something wonderful? Why is your answer not the maximization of your awesomeness?!
What if everything was very different? Imagine, for instance, if we had always lived in an incentivized asynalogonomy, rather than in the constant tension between capitalist and socialist dystopias. (Click here if you don’t know what that means).
If only more people knew about the HAND System. (Refer to the above link if you don’t know what the HAND System is). I believe that in the Multiverse, there are many Universes that incorporate the HAND System. I believe there are a vast number of worlds that aren’t nearly this dysfuntional. I’m presently in the insurance business because this world doesn’t know anything about the HAND System. They don’t know that it would fix this world much better than insurance ever could. People don’t know. So I have to settle for the insurance business.
I know that all sounds strange. I’m a little geeky, I know, but I’m not so other-worldly. In fact, I’m perfectly normal and safe to be around – just a little different than what you’re used to. And I can be practical. I may not be of this world, but I live as though I’m really in it. My philosophy holds that this world is at least partially real, even if it seems to be falling apart. Belief in the Multiverse as a product of Maximized Awesomeness does not make a person so other-worldly that they can be no earthly good. I see it as my mission to make this world a little less bad for people, if I can.
The Ghost Machine was another example of an attempt I made to maximize the good, as I knew how, given what I knew and thought I might be able. As with all of my business ventures, I started with the belief that it wouldn’t necessarily take money to make money. I still haven’t given up on that thought but I’m reminded daily of how pollyannic the concept is. I so much wanted that to be true. I had very little money. If I wanted to be in business for myslef, it would have to be true.
My father hadn’t wanted me to go into business for myself. He knew I wanted to have a positive impact in this world, one that required some entrepreneurial courage, but he wanted me to keep the good government job I had. He said that all the people he knew who’d gone into business for themselves had sacrificed a life without worry. Taking risks could rob a person of their time and of their health. He tried to spare me. He meant well. And I know he was right.
Dad spoke from his personal pain. He had lived in a very different world. It started well enough. He had inherited a fortune from his own father. He started out with a great career in textiles his Dad, my Pop Pop, Charles Carvin, Sr. had taught him. Dad became a marketing man in the textile industry. Even before his Allied Chemical days, he was doing commercials for Chemstrand. If you followed the Netflix series Madmen, you may have caught some of the flavor of my father. He had a trophy wife in Rye. He took the same train from Mamaroneck to Grand Central Station and back every day. “Draper” was even the name of one of his peer VPs at Allied.
I hope you enjoyed that video. Please watch it. See what I mean by “flavor”? And if you are really astute, you may have found the word, “Cumuloft” familiar too. Well, I should tell you that I was no more than one or two years old when the above commercial was made. Dad’s move to Allied’s Caprolan from Chemstrand was in 1962 and there was no more talk of any Cumuloft after that, if there ever was any in my presence. Assuming it wasn’t just a coincidence, somehow the term “Cumuloft” appears to have managed to stick in my young brain for forty years or so before I incorporated it into the Ghost Machine. The Cumuloft was the Ghost Machine’s “cloud” security storage system. Then one day, I decided to check to see if “Cumuloft” was a word I could trademark. The Internet didn’t show me anything at the turn of the Millennium, as I was developing the Ghost Machine’s blue prints. I only encountered my own father’s commercial, well after that search. I wonder what else is stored in my head without my knowledge. I don’t think we found this video until about 2016. Development of the mobile app started in 2011.
But I digress. Thinking about Dad can make my mind wander. I was talking to you about the insurance business. Specifically, I was thinking about how a person like me, who’s head is happier in the clouds, could possibly take interest in solving the problems inherant in dystopian economic systems. Insurance is a help. I was telling you it was the best I could do. At least it helps some people in this world. I’m sure there are many Universes much like this one where it comes in handy.
And I was telling you about the Ghost Machine. Like the insurance business, it would have put a bandaid on socio-capitalism. The idea was to create a fun way for people to make money. This world can be a very dull and even cruel place. Why isn’t earning a living easy and fun? It’s such a shame I was unable to raise the cash needed to build the Ghost Machine. The world would be a very different place right now if I had succeeded.
At least in the insurance business I don’t have to start from scratch. There’s already billions and even trillions of dollars in this business. Getting my personal brokerage started has taken time, more than money. I was able to survive on rideshare earnings while getting my first few sales. It didn’t take hundreds of thousands of dollars.
But you deserve a little more back story.
Dad lost his fortune. My mom, who outlived him by decades, lived a miserly life after he passed. And she was spared the difficult ending to her life that my sister and brother had. She was in great health clear up to the age of ninety. Then she had a heart attack. She never had to pay for assisted living, much less a nursing facility.
Contrast that with my sister, Corinne. She had a stroke ten years before she died. The majority of her remaining years were spent on a feeding tube in a nursing home. Her husband abandoned her. Her four remaining brothers deliberated over her care. One wanted to put her on palitative care and another thought she wouldn’t want that and the right thing to do was to bring her to a new nursing home in Tallahassee. He prevailed. And that is why we moved here – to watch over her before she died.
My wife, six years my younger, also had had a stroke the year before my sister, six years my elder. She was only thirty eight. She’d been in perfect health until it happened in 2004 but she’s been paralyzed in her left side ever since. It shows me that bad things can happen to anyone at any time. Jeanne Calment, who according to the Guiness Book of World Records is the oldest documented woman to ever live, was a smoker. Lisa never smoked, drank or took drugs and she worked out regularly. Bad things happen to good people. It doesn’t matter how rare it is. It happens. And that is why we have insurance.
With that picture, it may make better sense why an inventive philosopher would wind up in the insurance business. It positions me to help people deal with the hard realities that exist when bad health, or death, comes at an unexpected time. We can deal with problems before they happen. I can’t prevent an occult arterio-veinous malformation, like Lisa’s, from bursting. But I can make it easier for families to deal with the financial issues that ensue if and when such a thing happens.
And it wasn’t just Lisa, or my sister Corinne. Do you know what was really eye-opening to me? It was visiting Corinne in that nursing home. Nursing homes are places filled with people suffering. I wish more people knew. Maybe they would visit them. There is so much loneliness there.
And they need care. They shouldn’t go without much needed care. Caregiving takes money.
I don’t mean family caregivers. Lord knows I’ve never been paid for family caregiving and few have. Maybe we all should have been and maybe there are even some insurance plans, ones that I can even write for, that actually cover that to some extent. If anyone would know about those plans, I would. But what I mainly mean is professional nurses, doctors, medications and treatments. It all has to be paid for.
So, I’ve decided that the best way for me to maximize my personal awesomeness, is to learn all I can about health insurance for young and old. And life insurance too. When I was young, I had my days of fun and adventure. I have no shortage of stories to tell. But I continue to ask how I can do the most good for the most people – not just myself – before I die. I continue to focus the answer on the areas I would be most capable of. I still have a few brain cells left. Let me see what I can dig up for you. You have not because you ask not.
Now that I’ve started from the middle and worked backwards and brought things to the present in multiples of seven, I’m all finished telling the story of my life. It remains that I should explain a dream that I had last night.
In the dream, I was the entire Universe and I was reflecting on myself through cosmic rubbernecking. Rubbernecking is the tendency we have to slow down so we can see things better. This happens on highways whenever anything unusual has happened. It sometimes brings traffic to a complete stop. This is the kind of dream a driver who thinks a lot will have.
Before telling you my dream, let me pause a moment to mention that I included SUPER CHRIS in the My Story section of this blog for a reason. When you have a moment, whether before or after you read this, get out your headphones and grab a cup of coffee. Really focus on SUPER CHRIS. St. Christopher, as the patron saint of travelers, knows all about rubber necking. And this dream, just like that video, is a metaphor. Think poetry. So take another sip of that coffee. I have some thoughts to share on the meaning of life.
In this dream, I was the Universe, as I was saying. And what happened in this dream, is that I kept seeing myself in various places along the strands of timelines that I had, which were neurally connected to myself as the Universe, each telling a story, all connected to the whole. I discovered in this dream that examining any one part of any story of my life, always involved rubbernecking from the whole, which operates at quantum speed.
One analogy is the body. Just as focusing on any one sensation in the body, requires concentration, as the brain directs its attention to what it considers important among its many signals always coming in, and involves multiple neural cells in the process, so does the whole Universe rubberneck a bit, in order to stop and hear the story of its individual parts.
It isn’t just the fantasy of a dream. There is a scientific side to this. Quantum speed is omnipresent for the whole. And since time and space are in a continuum, quantum speed accesses any and all points of time for every strand of truth-story simultaneously, but in order for any parts of this story to be appreciated for all that they are, cosmic rubbernecking takes place.
Rubbernecking involves multiple vehicles on the road just as consciousness involves multiple cells in the body. Or is it the other way around? It doesn’t matter. This is a metaphor. Is as does. Does as is.
Quantum speed is the one thing that is greater than the speed of light, including the speed of light squared. It doesn’t actually travel. It unifies the whole through the fields that pertain to the whole. The interconnectedness of its entangled particles is the glue that unites the entire Universe despite the fact that it is accelerating its expansion well beyond the point that we can’t see the majority of its light and have no molecular ability to see the majority of our own Universe.
The Bible says that the heavens are declaring the glory of God. Here you have it. God’s light is beyond the ability to see in our visible horizon as molecular beings ground by gravity to a small quarter of the endless whole. The ancients depict God as the Son standing in a doorway of darkness because He is the “Uncreated Light.” They were describing the Quantum Jesus of the heavens’ declaration but just didn’t know about quantum theory yet. But I’ll stop and observe the parallel. Can you do this with me?
It’s not that Jesus is the entanglement. Goodness knows. Entangled particles and quantum fields are the least of the omniscient imagination of the totality of abstract truth. As amazing as they may seem to us as new things a few particle physicists have come to appreciate, an innumerable number of other unifying fields could be made to occur from absolute nothingness, as well.
Having considered all possibilities, what quantum formulas would the totality of truth, independent of any creation, understand and utilize in order to maximize awesomeness? I explained this in SUPER CHRIS. It’s the core principal of foundational cosmostrophy. And it solves the unification problem for all things as first axiom while scientists hope in vain to discover its formula and can’t even get past the fact that observation obscures the results.
Clearly an exponentially expanding Universe is a part of that. It’s what cosmologists are observing. One thing after another that they find continues to affirm the first cosmostrophic axiom. The purpose of life is the maximization of awesomeness. And the cosmologists have noticed cosmic rubbernecking too. For some reason, there is a connection between observing experiments and the results. Look it up. Why does the double slot experiment produce the results that it does? Why is consciousness connected to particle physics? Because two mysteries are better than one? No. Because the double slot experiment is showing them that observation is affecting results.
The observation about observation is perhaps “telling.” To appreciate any one moment of beauty maximized awesomeness has, cosmic rubbernecking is involved. On many levels it may not be required but in this dream it was the way of things and one way or another, there is definitely a difference in speed, a quantum difference. But the Universe as a whole doesn’t necessarily see itself in motion. The motion is just a dimension or aspect of what it is. In order to examine its own magnificence, it transcends time.
And so that’s what happened in my dream. First I would be with the whole Universe, outside of any moment. And then the Universe would slow me down and bring me to one moment or other in my life. It did so because those moments were beautiful and worth enjoying in the midst of its own total glory.
This it did for me, as me. But as itself, it is a total doing as total being, so I would project that it involves every you too. It may well be that individual parts can’t comprehend the whole but that doesn’t mean that the whole can’t comprehend the individual parts. And I was involved in that comprehension. You are too, in the paths you observe. And if I can see your beauty, I don’t know whether it will be through my own eyes or those of the whole. Does it matter? I simply ask the whole to show me.
Because you matter. And it would be awesome if I could know the beautiful parts of you. Wouldn’t it be? Yes, it would.
So then I woke up. Having slowed down. Having backed up. Having advanced forward. Having returned. Having revisited. I was awake. And I thought of you.
Axiom number one: If it is awesome, it will be.
Therefore, I will be with you and know you in all of your glory.
I didn’t set out in life to be a driver but I’ll admit I enjoy it. I remember the day I learned to ride a bike. Suddenly my world multiplied. I was seven. I rode that bike all the way past two friends’ houses and back. What liberation! And I had a meaning of life moment. I theorized at that young age that every seven years there would be a total break through. That bike was a symbol of breaking on through to the other side. I don’t know why my mind thinks on profound things when my body is in motion. It just does. From the age of seven this has held true. Somewhere in the wings there may have been someone who gave me the idea that every seven years a human person will experience some major mind and life shift that elevates them to a new plateau. But I don’t remember them saying it. This thought may have been entirely my own.
Driving cars didn’t happen until I was fifteen, so the seven year theory had to be stretched, unless we include non-driving type changes like … puberty. Yes, discovering sexuality. That can change a life view. Who would question it? Mom’s Cougar was the first car I drove. It turned out to be a miracle car. She survived a horrible accident in it and that ended my days with the Cougar. My search for ladies would have to start in my Dad’s Cadillac, before I wrecked it, that is. Sorry Dad. My mind was on women. It’s a good thing nobody was killed. But no. That was just a driving lesson in the School of Hard Knocks. Puberty began a journey of imagination that couldn’t help but disappoint. Dad’s ever visible magazine rack of Playboy and Hustler made that a certainty for me. It also left me clueless as to what the female gender actually was. My sister wasn’t telling me. She had her own problems. My mother waited way too long to talk about it and her only words of advice were issued at a moment I wasn’t concentrating much, with her head popping in the door during an episode of Gilligan’s Island. Wait until I’m married to have sex? Sure, mom. Can I please watch the show? MaryAnn’s about to come on!
7×3 Every seven years … let me think back. At twenty one I graduated from college. I often think back on that day as the day my song started. I had been a music composition major. Yes, me. “I.” I was the song. My “song” was my life and it was being composed by God. It was fitting somehow, that my parents had come up to South Carolina to hear my greatest accomplishment – a trombone sonata -only to have two major mishaps happen simultaneously. Mishap number one: in the business of packing, I had somehow lost my music portfolio. Not only did this contain all the music I had written while at college; it also contained the conductor part for the trio that needed to be performed that day. Mishap number two: none of the other musicians showed up for the performance, which then had to be canceled.
College kids these days. Imagine them skipping out on something they’d get no credit for during exam week while everyone was packing up and going home. My parents, who maintained the belief that I had never practiced with these musicians in the first place and that I was a liar, had to hear a far different tune than I had anticipated. And thus my song began. It was me. What was the song about? Well, it hasn’t ended. It seems to havestarted out as some tune about a career search, but I can’t tell you for sure at this point what the whole thing is. I’ll play it for you later.
That year a career search began and it was a humbling one. I parked cars, and delivered news papers but my first real job was at a bank. If it weren’t for the women there, I would have hated that job. You wouldn’t know it now. I’ve become a successful business man. But at that time, I was hating it. At the bank I was reflecting on the fact that the entire industry was producing no real goods and services. As I saw it, forty hours out of every week, plus an hour to and from work daily, were being completely wasted, just so I could earn $5/hour. Eventually I would create something called “the ghost bank” and design the app. But back then I was thinking there was no way I was going to stay in such an industry.
It was a philosophical reflection. I thought about what an incredible waste of human effort the entire banking industry was – all the saving of money: its little deposits and withdrawals and switching accounts. Not one good or service was made by them. I considered the number of buildings in the world that were dedicated to doing nothing more than exchanging values – the stock market, the insurance business, the entire financial sector – all a waste of human effort. Yes, even the insurance business. And what do I do for a living now? Insurance. But this was then.
Back then I saw it all as wasted time. It was the unnecessary stuff associated with our financial system that made life very annoying for everyone, not just me – sales, advertising, commercials.
As I saw it, every human effort dedicated to all this nonsense could be re-purposed into something that directly created some widget or food item or service, or clothing that actually made life nicer for people. It was the stuff money buys and is used for. As it turns out, this was all part of Marx’s theory but at the time, I knew nothing of it. I’d never read the Communist Manifesto.
Of course, my thoughts were quite different than Karl Marx’s in most ways. I wasn’t feeling like an exploited worker, for one thing. That wasn’t it. And I didn’t think God didn’t exist or offer humanity anything worth holding onto. When I gradually learned about about Marxism in the ensuing years, there were good reasons I found not to embrace Communism and I never did. There were two main qualms I had – (1)the impossible inefficiency of centralized management, and (2)revolution. The second one bothered me the most.
At the time, we were in the middle of a cold war. Reagan was on the rise. Communism only meant one thing to me – war. So no. Communism wasn’t just unattractive to me. I was frightened by it.
I invented the HAND System instead. No labor tension or revolution was required. Still, concerned about the inefficiency of centralized management, I had no inclination to start it at that time. We lacked the necessary technology.
Back in those days, I was just figuring out who I was and what I believed in and I didn’t have a computer science degree. I believed in God and just years after that I became a Christian, allowing that Jesus could have been God incarnate. I still have doubts about Jesus being the Messiah or God incarnate. I don’t have doubts about God. I never did. But I did notice that the first church actually used something like the HAND System.
In those days I started to learn who I was but it was a long road. What’s more, my conversion from monotheism to Jesus follower didn’t occur at one of those pivotal 7 year marks. Jesus drifted in gradually, interweaving himself in the world of a doubting mind that separated things I could be certain about from things I was merely open to. I had a quite open mind really. And what actually landed on my 7×3 year was just this new song, the beginning of a story – a song that led to the revelation of a new economic paradigm – maybe something we’ll see after Jesus returns. And a song that I’m still listening to myself, so I can’t really describe it all to you. I sense its all written somewhere else – a place I call home, not as you see me now, but in what I’m made to be.
At twenty eight, I had been kicked out of the Catholic seminary I’d been attending at night while working as a letter carrier by day. Yeah, I said letter carrier. It didn’t take me long to quit the bank I hated working for. Besides, there was a hefty pay raise. And then … did I say “kicked out”? Did I get kicked out of the seminary? And wait. Wasn’t I struggling with this Jesus thing?
A lot can happen in seven years. And no, I wasn’t exactly kicked out. Basically, I had an A average but had no intention of becoming a priest and had enrolled in their lay program. I’m sure the fact that I wasn’t jumping onto anyone’s invitation to become a priest was a factor, but I also suspect the problem may have had something to do with the fact that I had become privy to some corruption of a political nature behind the scenes. Political? Really? At a seminary? Yes, I really think so. I disapproved of the support I was finding for liberation theology there. Do you know what liberation theology is? It is Communism. Or, it certainly was in Latin America at the time. I was seriously afraid of and concerned about Communism. I let my Social Justice teacher know about it. Really any sort of centralized authority freightened me. I was critical of the bishops’ statement on the economy too – and for some of the same reasons. Except for abortion, the Catholic Church was starting to seem like a wing of the Democratic Party. I like the Democrats. They seemed more compassionate, at least on the surface. They cared for the poor, it seemed. But I didn’t think the church should be taking sides with political groups.
I did have my conservative influences. There is another side of this story – my dad. Dad was what they call a “country club Republican.” I actually couldn’t stand that about him. He was a very worldly man. In some ways he had a heart of gold, but in others, he was just a greedy, materialistic, capitalist. I was a politically moderate man who was in some ways influenced by a conservative father who had supported Ronald Reagan before it was popular to do so. That much is true. Dad’s opinions were to be considered. And he was a smart man and I respected him. But he didn’t dictate what I thought. Mom was a Presbyterian. He was a Catholic. In matters of religion, I had to decide for myself what the truth was. Politics was no different. I had learned to listen to people from a young age. I could hear passion. I could consider reasonable arguments. And I knew that they both could be wrong. Things that were uncertain to me, I left alone. I pondered.
The problem at the seminary was that I assumed it was okay to express my opinion. After all, that’s how I’d been raised. And in fact, I was received with open arms when I first entered the seminary and spoke idealistically of asynalagonomy, a thing Dad strongly opposed, but here’s the crux: are you ready? When I exposed the Mary Knoll nuns for shipping guns to the Sandinistas out loud in class one day, it became clear I could be trouble.
Uh huh. Suddenly, after that day, no courses were available to fill in the last few hours I needed to complete my post graduate degree. A course in Marriage and Sexuality did become available a year later but my final exam was lost by the teacher after I placed it on his desk with his other papers. Strange. When I noticed the incomplete after getting my report card in the mail, my guidance counselor told me I had taken too long to complete my matriculation and no longer qualified as a student. That is to say, I was forced out.
That was a hard year. It was the year I broke up with my second fiancé. The content of the course as I lost my place at the seminary, and lost my fiancé at the same time, was painful, but it started a new chapter in my life. And in my heart, I had hoped the next major breakthrough was going to be matrimony. But marriage was eluding me. It had been taken away from me the same way my test in Marriage and Sexuality had. I consoled myself through service in ministry as I went through a waiting period. I acquired more equipment for my music studio and for my library of theology with the money I saved by not getting married. In my enthusiasm, I took on a bit of credit card debt – not smart. Shopping therapy comes with a cost.
A waiting period did ensue as I healed. And then finally, despite some financial handicaps, by the age of thirty five I did find the wife I had been looking for and was on my way to having my first child. Now she had an interesting influence on me. She had rejected the Catholicism of her parents and become a born again Christian who worshiped in the Assemblies of God Church. I figured if my parents had survived a mixed marriage and I turned out okay, that shouldn’t be a deal breaker for me. And in fact, we decided to turn the wedding into a proclamation of the very fact – where two become united as one. All of them do this, really, but for us, we wanted to see a divided body of Christ come together in unity. We made a theological statement through the way we executed the sacrament. A Catholic priest came, thanks to a dispensation from the bishop, to a wedding held at Maranatha Church of God. A charismatic Southern Baptist pastor who’d lived with me for a time also co-ministereed and led the ceremony with the other two pastors. Because it was ecumenical, we didn’t have mass – just the wedding. Catholic Canon Law wouldn’t allow that. And as an aside, none of that was on the seven year mark anyway. I’m not sure that matters. You probably figured I was just giving you an outline of my life anyway. But on that subject, what did land on my year thirty five was the birth of my son, Jonathan. And Jonathan, we baptized in an Orthodox Christian Church.
Orthodox Christian? How did we get there? Well, first there is a little church history I’d been studying. Second, there was the fact that I really was open to becoming a priest and the Orthodox allow married priests. And third, it was a sort of good compromise between Catholicism and the Assemblies of God, if you think about it long enough and not too critically. So, to come up with a solution between Catholicism and Pentecostal Protestantism, we’d found Orthodoxy and indeed, when we married yet again in the Eastern Orthodox Church, I was thirty five years of age – right about the time Jonathan was born. And that’s why I used to sing a little ditty to my wife about the temple being anointed a second time. We expected Jonathan to be born around the time of Chanukah. I had hoped our decision to become Orthodox would parallel the rededication of the temple in Jerusalem. Don’t put too much into that though. It was a sort of man-generated idea of mine. There is nothing about our mixed marriage that turned into the restoration of all things. I was more like Peter running around thinking about how to build little booths at the Transfiguration. What mattered was the power of God. And that is a power that is beyond my comprehension, as well as beyond my own very inventive mind. Still, I do think that the marriage has a sacramental power that is divine, that comes from a place of authorship that is well beyond me. In fact, she is with me as one in this song of my life, being part of the writing of by divine hand, instead of by my own. It is infinitely better that way.
Along those same lines, in my own inventive mindset, I was hoping Orthodox Christianity would pan out differently for us than it did. Our encounter with Orthodox Christianity was, in fact, unusual from the outset. We connected with a Ukrainian group, under a bishop that thought he had the spirit of Elijah, of all things. I said what? Yes, the spirit of Elijah. He thought he was one of the two end time witnesses. This wasn’t exactly your standard fare Eastern Orthodox Christianity. But it was charming in some ways, and sort of stimulating. Reports of miracles were continuous there. In fact, if I were to describe my thirty fifth year in just one word, it wouldn’t just be “matrimony.” It would be “Elijah.” I had a pretty worn out Bible by then in my life. I was even pretty good at hard subjects, like the book of Revelation. So with someone thinking he was one of the two end time witnesses, the very fulfillment of prophecy, I took an even more intense interest in eschatology at that time. In fact, I completed my degree and taught at this self-proclaimed Elijah’s College of Eschatology, St. Michael Academy. That’s where I got my Masters Degree in Theology. I was one of the few people on the planet with a literal degree in eschatology. Most people didn’t even know what that was.
Let me bring this back to my childhood theory of sevens. It was at the age of thirty five, that I left the college with a degree and a mission, which I could only ponder the meaning of, because that bishop anointed me – on my tongue even. Have you ever tasted oil? Well, I did. I had never heard of that ritual before, of course, probably because it isn’t in any of the prayer books or their rubrics. It did seem pretty sensible though – fitting. But neither were we entirely naive. We weren’t unaware that there were more “normal” jurisdictions within the Orthodox Church, or that paradoxically, this sort of thing was “unorthodox” in the Orthodoxy. But to bring this back to the number seven, just about the time I was married yet again in the Orthodox Church through a less controversial jurisdiction of it, (the Antiochian), this Ukranian autocephalous bishop (don’t ask me what that means; it’s complicated) sent me out, granting me my Masters Degree in Eschatology, saying it would be my mission to preach in the spirit of Elijah – not to the Orthodox but to the Protestants.
That made me sort of credentialed as a missionary, but in a very odd way. But lest you think too much of it, I should be entirely upfront about it and I’ll be frank. His seminary had been perceived by many as a diploma mill. Its accreditation was with the Kentucky School of Accreditation, or something like that.
That didn’t matter. The bishop didn’t think highly of academia. As for me, he thought I was a smart person. I was a thinker. That I’ll admit. I am a thinker. Some might consider me a philosopher. I fall onto the high end of the autism spectrum. Is it okay if I admit that? And I think too much. It goes along with it. It’s ironic that he had hoped I would be more normal, when he himself was anything but ordinary. He also didn’t like that I had opinions. He just wanted to raise up priests, like the Catholics did, and prophets. He wanted to bring them in and send them out quickly. He was hoping he could raise up an army of people who would carry with them what the Lord had shared with him.
As I saw it, this was all a very tragic irony. The sectarianism of the Orthodox generally, which I oppose, was epitomized in this Elijah bishop who broke all the rules. But it wasn’t the same sectarianism as the “legitimate” Orthodox. Instead of saying anyone who wasn’t Eastern Orthodox was outside of the body of Christ as the more traditional would often say, he had been “playing nice” with the popes and the Anglicans. His sectarianism was spelled out in coming against any Protestants who didn’t recognize the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist and who in his words, “hated Mary.” Such a strange man, he was. He had all sorts of medals and knighthoods and letters from popes. But it seemed like he was just as hateful as anyone who hated Mary.
Ultimately, I was commissioned to broadcast his message but I wasn’t buying it. The only part I was sold on was Elijah. Not that he was Elijah, but that he wasn’t Elijah. But Elijah himself, the true Elijah, actually fascinated me. I wanted to know what the real Elijah would actually be like. And more broadly, I really wanted to know what was going to take place before the Lord returns. That is what the subject of eschatology is. And what I did know in all this, is that the role of Elijah, as described in the Bible, was that of restoring the church in preparation for the Lord’s return.
Even with all of my open mindedness and doubting, in the part of my mind that pondered these things, anyone who was not a part of that ministry, the ministry of Elijah, or an Elijah movement, was not listening to God. This made sense to me because if they weren’t engaging in the ministry of Elijah, then they weren’t working for the restoration of the church to the true vision, mind and heart of Jesus. Now, of course, restoration is not a concept that works well with the Orthodox any more than it does with the Roman Catholics. They’re convinced in their own minds that the gates of hell can’t prevail against the church. So in their opinion, the church can never stand in need of restoration.
It’s fascinating to me and I think it’s a matter that we should all consider very carefully if we care to be prepared when the Lord returns, if such a thing is not a myth. And the real message of Elijah, whatever that actually ultimately would be – this was something I would gladly take to the Protestants, or anywhere else such a message might be received – if only I could fully grasp what it was myself. So I prayed on it. Make sense? And I have never stopped asking to receive it. So should we all. No?So that’s what came down at the age of thirty five.
At forty two I became an Internet superstar but it was short lived. Of course, that’s a leap from where I was a paragraph ago. My readers deserve a seven year back story. So listen to what happened: my father and my oldest brother, Chickie, had died shortly after I was sent away by the bishop. After his death, I heard in a vivid dream, or perhaps it was a vision, my father saying, “total marketing.” This is an odd comment that I’ll have to explain. Dad had been the author of the “total marketing concept” (TMC), at the Allied Chemical Corporation, where he was a VP of Sales for their Chemstrand division. In this very vivid vision that I had while standing in prayer he was telling me to market totally. I pondered the meaning. And I once again confused my own thoughts with God’s. I knew my father would have wanted me to preach the Gospel on the Internet if he had lived long enough to know what the Internet was. Dad and I were very close. I knew him well. And my father’s command to market totally fit in with the bishop’s command to broadcast the message of Elijah. I may have been confused about what that all may have meant, but I was definitely hearing from multiple sources. I still wasn’t sure what that message was and then to add fuel to my confusion about how God might have been speaking through it all, the vision that day of my father was accompanied by certain unusual events at the same music studio-library I was in when I dreamt it, or saw it, as the case may have been.
Yes, by then I had a formidable music recording studio. I had built up a pretty good library there too. It was a very private place for me where I could get a lot of work done. And after my father and brother had died, that is where I kept their ashes. I kept them on a filing cabinet. I decorated the top of the filing cabinet in a nice way – to honor my father and pay respect to my brother I loved so much and missed very dearly. That place was a very sacred place of prayer for me. And it was also the same place the vision of my father occurred. And there were also many other unusual events that took place there, just as there had been at the bishop’s seminary – things people might call miracles if they were inclined to believe in them. I won’t go into what the unusual events were here. It deserves a whole chapter all by itself. But as an example, one day there was a mysterious fire that emblazoned what appeared to be an image of the Virgin Mary into my wall.
I was listening carefully to what the Lord might be saying at that time. I may have many doubts, but I’m also an open minded man and these did not seem like normal events. In fact, they were extremely improbable and I wanted to understand. And I want you, my reader, to understand something about how a certain invention of mine came about, because that invention was born at that time, in that place, in this context. And as with many plans I made in my life in response to what I thought God might be saying, I took it upon myself to enthusiastically march forward in some manner of obedience to what I was hearing – if I could only hear more clearly. But I didn’t have the full picture. I still don’t. I’m not the writer. I’m just the instrument.
Be that all as it may, it is a fact one way or the other that it was in the midst of much intensive prayer for wisdom and discernment at that time, that the Ghost Machine concept was born. It was conceived as a web site that would become a better search engine and morph one day, when mobile technology became available, for playing a game that would reward users with Ghost Bucks if they “found ghosts.” It would be set up in a way where the “ghosts” would be real historical people – icons. We’d call them “ghosticons.” It would be educational and entertaining – “edutainment.”
You see, I have to also offer that when my father and brother died, my mother was comforted by her surviving children through the Internet. We set my elderly mom up with a computer and sent emails to one another. She told us stories of my father and it did much to heal her. She outlived him by eighteen years. Mom was an incredible woman. But what I saw in this was the power of the Internet to heal. I saw the power it had to bring a family that had never had the energy to send letters to Mom, to regularly send email. We sent jokes. We told stories. We were miles apart but we were never so close. And I saw that our good memories were worth preserving. In fact, I believed they worth remembering forever. Now in Orthodoxy, we have something called icons. We remember Christian saints. But I wanted to remember all that had loved. I thought we could do more. The technology was on the verge of realization. I felt like maybe the reason I had seen the miracles I had, heard the commands that I had, received the commissioning that I had, might be about riding this wave of communication in a total marketing concept for the ministry of Elijah.
So, I came up with this idea that people could learn about history and remember loved ones as they hunted for ghosts. And to make it work, I came up with a way they could get paid for doing it. It was a very elaborate plan and the more I thought about it the better the idea kept getting. For one thing, I also figured out a way to raise money for charities – a way that would be super fun. In fact, the more the users of this app gave to charity, the more Ghost Bucks they could earn. Ghost Bucks, as I called them, were the currency of the underground economy. As the users found ghosts planted in places of business, they would receive credits – not exactly the same way as with Bitcoin, but definitely creating a crypto-currency of a sort. In fact, I’d say that the idea was qualitatively far better than any crypto-currency on the market to this day. And ironically, even though ghosts were the central theme, I rejected the term “crypto-currency.” Our ghosts had halos. I wanted to highlight the good and the holy – not the dead and the nasty. Who wants to remember that? I was about heavenly things. The world needed to be about heavenly things too. What else could the restoration of all things be?
Think about it.
Maybe you want more details. You could get them at Ghostsurfers.com, where this story is told and I’ve left the screen shots. Here, I’ll simply explain that the businesses would pay for extra customers at specified, usually slow hours, which were to be called “ghost hours.” I would hyperlink from the ghosts to the each user’s browser on their ghost positioning system (GPS) to a world of information that was entertaining. The Ghost Bucks would be redeemable for US dollars for anyone who wanted to cash them out at any time.
I was too far ahead of my time with this vision, once again running around excited like Peter wanting to build three booths. Mobile technology was a long way off. The search engine was enough of a hurdle to get over for a man without a budget or career experience or a team of helpers. I thought to myself I could teach myself how to code. I could talk some people into helping. I could save up some money working at the Post Office. But unfortunately, something strange happened at the Post Office where I was working at that time. I won’t go into that here. It’s a fascinating story in and of itself, but the upshot of it was that I had to quit my career there in 1998, much earlier than I had first planned to. And with the loss of my job came the loss of my ability to proceed with this invention successfully.
The miracles though … the fire … the dreams … the prayer. These were enough to push me to take a leap of faith. It was premature leap, but it started an important chapter of my life. It made me know loss. We started with a promising success. Web Trends reported in July 2000 that we had a 5% reach of all Internet users. This was encouraging, but without money, there was no way to buy equipment to keep it going. We were getting more than four hits per second but couldn’t sustain it. So the ghosts departed almost as quickly as they arose.
And that, my friends, was forty two. I was working from home in my pajamas. If only I had money. If only I had a team. I didn’t just learn loss that year. I learned what entrepreneurs need to turn visions into reality. It was a very expensive education. I lost everything I had. I don’t regret it though – not in hindsight. To this day, I just want to make that same vision a reality, only with an added dose of wisdom. So I’m still looking for help. And as fate would have it, as the years passed, mobile technology become an increasing reality. Even flattened by my losses and taking odd jobs like driving a taxi cab for a living, I started to design the what I called the “Ghost Machine.” I continued to build up the Ghostidex full of potential Ghosticons. And in my search for help, I revealed as much as I could without spoiling the surprises I still hold in my heart and head. As it stands, we started by focusing on celebrities that had recently passed away. This was the way we hoped to introduce the concept of icons.
And I continued in vane to seek funding. I even wrote letters to Rome and to Constantinople – both – hoping I could get the church’s support to popularize the saints through the Ghostidex. I still haven’t given up but I do understand that churches tend to be set in their ways.
It was in those days that I learned to write and revise a business plan daily. Unfortunately, however, a plan is nothing without a team. And without a team angels take no interest. An angel investor, I mean. In an angel’s view, the value of a startup is in the execution of an idea. It’s not in the concept. Who is on your team? But I was in a dilemma. After all, who will be on your team if you have no angel dollars to attract them with and your only asset is your high end autism gift? I was frustrated at the absence of a certain miracle that has to happen that brings everyone to the table at the same time that occasionally happened for others, but not for me. I was especially concerned that such a miracle wouldn’t cut out the founder. Remember me? In general, investors want to invest to make a profit. Would they do it because of my personal vision? Or would they do it for their own? I think we know the answer to that question. That is why I had another vision, but that was one that didn’t take form as a concept until 7×8, and one that I only hope to see executed just about at the 7×9 point. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
At the age of forty two, 5% of of all Internet users had visited the ghostsurfers.com web site. At the age of forty nine, I was still trying to figure out how to attract both a team and angel dollars to a polished concept. It was horribly disappointing but I knew that it wasn’t failing because it was the wrong idea. What I had seen with so much clarity in the ghost machine was something that was just too far ahead of its time. God was using that time to prepare me for leadership. He was using my pain.
This isn’t hard to understand. Think of what year I’m talking about. I was forty nine in 2007. Pokemon Go and Bitcoin were words people had still never heard of. Imagine trying to explain these things before they existed. Giving an elevator pitch was no easy task. Facebook was just starting to take the place of MySpace. Google had just put the final nails on the coffin of Yahoo and AOL. Me, I was driving for Yellow Cab to make ends meet and then one day I ran into a guy who saw the entrepreneurial spirit in me. He promised he would invest in the Ghost Machine if I would help him with his own invention – a shopping cart washing machine.
In those days, I had come to realize that if I served others with their dreams, maybe my own dreams would find a way. I started the South Florida Crowd Funding organization and wrote business plans for entrepreneurs. I was active in a startup guild. I learned all I could about how to start a successful business. Yet for all of my giving to the community, no one except this one odd man offered to help me. He was not a good man. He was worldly. And he was mean. Life had taught him to be that way, I think. But he was more generous when he had money. I got to know him as a full time driver when he was doing well with his own company. He invested $5,000 into my project up front. And he paid me generously at first. But he had problems. Firstly, he had legal problems. He had lost his license due to drunk driving. That’s why he needed a driver. And then not long after, he got caught driving with a suspended license. I think he was telling me the truth when he said that one of his business associates had set him up as he was merely moving his ferrari in the parking lot so it wouldn’t get towed. He used to own a very successful car dealership in Canada. He was continually trying to teach me that the art of sales was to tell the truth, but to let people assume what they want. He tried to get me to stop warning people about the weaknesses and flaws in products and services. He surrounded himself with people who had that same worldly good sense and found himself tricked in the process, I think. His own business partners wanted to steal his technology, which he himself had probably craftily acquired from someone else. He never seemed smart enough to have invented what he claimed to have intellectual rights over. And then he lost control of it. After postponing his hearing about driving with a suspended license as long as he could, he served some time in jail and in the three month period he was away from his company, he lost control of it.
But I was still working his office at that time, not just driving for for him while he wasn’t in jail. I was helping him build traffic to his web site through a news magazine for the supermarket industry I had created called Supermarket Green News. You see, back in those days, web sites were easier to get attention for without much investment. The market wasn’t dominated by social media companies. I was helping him attract industry executives using my inventive web strategies. He had agreed to keep paying me for this even after he was in jail. But like I said, he surrounded himself with worldly people. Unfortunately, the money ran out when his business partners embezzeled it all. His BOD had a coup d’ etat, which I was well aware of. So as a witness, when he returned from jail after three months to find his company was no longer his, stolen by henchmen of the famous ponzi schemer, Scott Rothstein, in fact, he was left standing in a long line of people that Rothstein, (now in protective custody), was being sued by. Now being too heavenly minded to be any earthly good, as my father used to say, I knew my cart washer friend would never get justice but I couldn’t just abandon him, knowing he had been robbed. Even though I didn’t like him at all, that would have been wrong of me. Certainly in this case, if not in the others I was less privy to, he was still in the right. And he surrounded himself daily with people who promised to invest in his company. There was always a glimmer of hope, but they led him around. “If they will, I will too,” we would commonly hear. Nobody wanted to jump in first to actually invest.
They used him. This is something not many understand. CEOs for start ups get treated like the tires on the cars he used to sell. They get kicked by speculators who are only humoring the salesmen as they price hunt. They keep saying they need just one more thing. And then when that thing is supplied, then it’s another. Who really cuts a check for a start up? So at my 7×7 year, the new threshold was … the big kick. You can’t really start anything new. It was like satan himself was sticking his tongue out at me – kicking me while I was down. And it wasn’t even about me. He was kicking down this other guy I was trying to help – someone I didn’t even really respect. But that guy, the guy with what I considered bad character, was the only person who’d ever offered to help me, and even really done so. I was perplexed as to why there wasn’t anyone else. I was utterly humbled.
I was humiliated, not just humbled really. With satan, when one thing goes wrong, everything must go wrong. Not getting paid left me hunting for other revenue. The Elijah bishop had come back into the picture as one of the many people my washing machine technology friend had asked for investment help from. The bishop wanted me to put his college’s web courses online. Back on the road again for Yellow Cab as well, my usual taxi clients – addicts, strippers, prostitutes – were carrying on at that time. Lisa was not happy as I confessed some of what happened in the night. She was worried I might be unfaithful. It was a mistake to be so open but I didn’t like secrets. I’d overcome porn addiction in my twenties. I wanted accountability. If somebody took their clothes off in the back seat of the cab and then climbed to the front offering themselves for money, thanks to my commitment to honesty, I was able to act professionally. But then one night I called her to come pick me up on Blue Heron Blvd because my Yellow Cab van had been completely shot up by bullets in a drug deal gone badly. The van was thoroughly destroyed. It looked like a scene from Bonny and Clyde. She was frightened by the sight and was fed up. And then there was her own struggle.It turns out she had been having an affair that year. She had also turned to heavy drinking. Any little thing I did turned into an excuse for her to drink what little money we had away. It was a hard time. It wasn’t just any guy she was fooling around with. It was the guy she dated before she met me. It was a guy who tried to talk her into moving to the other side of the state with her. It was the guy who tried to coach her on how to get money in a nasty divorce. Yeah, that was forty nine. That was the 2007’s. It wasn’t enough to lose a fortune. I had to lose everything, even her.
Maybe that was the thread that ties all this together – matrimony, or the struggle thereof. It would be a very sad and pointless story if that was all there was to it, I think, but then another miracle happened. She came back. She came back and I forgave her. She was repentant. I’ve put some thought into it and do you want to know what I think? I think that matrimony and the message of Elijah are one and the same. Preparing the way of the Lord … what is that? It’s preparation of the bride of Christ in repentance. Matrimony is a shadow of that union. It strips both the husband and wife of all pretension. And when the two witnesses preach in the last days, aren’t they dressed in sackcloth and ashes? Aren’t they repentant as they measure the temple? Look it up and see. It’s in the eleventh chapter of Revelation. Sometimes I wondered whether the two witnesses were a man and a wife.
So let’s wrap 7×7 up. I’ll admit that I can be naive enough to kick around but I believed her. and I was right. I may have been too heavenly minded to be any earhtly good, but I knew repentance when I saw it. I could sense the miracle happening and I wasn’t going to stifle it by ending the marriage even if there was valid reason. My only doubts were about me. Could I be strong enough to forgive? Theory is one thing. I knew the ideal thing to do in a world where I was a better man. Practice is another. And try as we did, reconciliation didn’t make life wonderful again. The hurt needed healing and we were just as broke as ever – even more so. We had to start life over from scratch, from a very deep hole we’d fallen into. And I haven’t even mentioned the stroke. Have I?
Oh yes. The stroke. Life’s stresses continued. It rained and it poured. Lisa had been paralyzed from a major hemmhoragic stroke in 2003 actually. I skipped over that part. The doctors were surprised she survived. She’d been in a coma for a week and it took her three months to take her first steps. 2003 hadn’t been any special seven year time. It was a year after losing her job at the Palm Beach County Convention and Visitors Bureau. That’s when her drinking got out of hand. She was spending money we didn’t have and then the cheating. She just wasn’t in her right mind. And then to add to my woes, a year after her stroke, my sister was also paralyzed from a stroke, still in that same difficult stretch of time, and her husband abandoned her. But Lisa and I reconciled. And that was that. It was a rough patch, alright, and there was nothing easy about it – just that long hard part there in the middle of yet another seven year stretch.
So what about my seven year theory? Forty nine passed. What about fifty six? Did anything new happen? Or did it just keep raining?
Maybe there’s nothing to it. What happened at fifty six is I moved to Tallahassee because my sister’s husband abandoned her because he couldn’t take the celibacy that came with having a wife who was paralyzed from a stroke even worse than Lisa’s. At least my sister, Corinne, hadn’t cheated on my brother-in-law. But she was in a nursing home, alone, abandoned, on a feeding tube, delerious from a psychotic depression that had been getting worse year by year. Imagine ten years on a feeding tube. At fifty six I became a caregiver. I knew I had to move to Tallahassee and focus on my family. I put all my entrepreneurial ideas on a low burner and closed the distance between us all – my wife, my sister and my older brother too. He’d become a recovering crack addict. I knew I wouldn’t have many more years to see him. It wasn’t easy. And Tallahassee had a way of keeping me unemployed and unable to pay bills. I juggled three part time minimum wage jobs. I was dying financially until Uber became a reality in Florida.
Note to the world: if you are going to be an entrepreneur, you’ve got to have some form of income while you work your concept. For me, Uber was perfect for that. And it didn’t involve friending people of the night just to get regular clientele, or relying on people with low moral standards. The passenger prospects were out at night, alright. But the system’s dispatch actually provided a fair volume of trips and I didn’t have to pay rent for a cab every week. I could drive my personal car. I could make my own hours.
I should qualify that. It’s better than what I’d been doing, but still not enough. Tallahassee is seasonal. It’s a college town. So in the summer time, I was left scurrying for income. That’s why I took a lending job I hated so much. I told you about that in another blog. Uber made it possible for me to quit that lending job in the fall. But summer of 2016 was still really hard and summer of 2017 was even harder. I looked for jobs I could do and still take care of my family but wasn’t finding anything that made sense except driving jobs and the ones that paid most were those that required a CDL. 7×9 anyone? Hold on. We’re almost there.
Corinne died in 2016 and Chris died in 2017, right after I finished CDL school and before I actually started driving an eighteen wheeler – something I couldn’t do while my brother and my sister were still alive – and something that doesn’t work very well nevertheless because Lisa needs me to stay nearby at all times. I was on the road for two years, trying to get home on weekends, before she started insisting she couldn’t take it any more. The trucking companies would keep me out for months at a time, far from home. A category five hurricane came close to the apartment while I was on the road over a thousand miles away. I will say that I needed the time alone. I needed to regroup. I needed the simplicity of thinking while I drove. It was that freedom I felt on that bike at 7×1 that set my mind thinking. Maybe it wasn’t the age, or the number seven. Maybe it was the motion. Maybe it me being in the place where I’m my best – a place far away from the bother of other people.
Still, I know my obligations. I came home to my wife and children when they needed me. I came home quite full of thought actually. I came back with an entire philosophical system, in fact.
The Pamalogy Society opened its doors when I was 63, when I started Season One of the podcast. Pamalogy stands for Poly Astronomically Maximized Awesomeology. It’s a mouthful. Start on the last word and work your way back to the first. It’s awesomeology – the philosophy of awesomeness. What is awesomeness.
I assume if you’ve read all this that you are interested in who I am and what I think. So, it shouldn’t be too strange if I mention that “maximized awesomeness” has been my life’s motto for many many years. To bring this story full swing, I should tie it all together with this theme. I told you I believed in God but had my doubts about the incarnation. I’m a horrible Orthodox Christian, really. Some might suppose I’m a heretic. I don’t let that bother me. I’m not trying to please anyone else by pretending I agree with them. How genuine and tranparent would I be if I did that? I don’t need anyone’s acceptance. I’m getting to close to my final years to be anything but true to myself. My belief in God is based on what I am certain of. Let’s start there. Why am I so certain?
Well, I think it is worth it to consider some things that may not seem to fit very well with your personal religious tradition. For one thing, it has never escaped my attention that the odds of my very own consciousness existing at any point in time, including the point in time we call now, that we suppose moves along, are next to infinity to one. What I mean is, if time were to extend infinitely into the future, as a majority of us probably suppose, and also into the past some very great length of time, if not into eternity past, then the relation between the length of our assumed lifespan, assuming we think it to be seventy to eighty years before we die if we live an average length of time for humans, is infinity to some relatively very small number of years. That means that if our consciousness is to exist only for the length of time we suppose, that odds are we should have either a very great amount of time before we will be born, or a very great amount of time since we’ve been dead. The one thing we shouldn’t be, if we are to have a life of just seventy to eighty years, is living that life at any given point of time, except for a few very short ones. Nevertheless, this is the common assumption, certainly in the West and among most materialist physicists and cosmologists and such.
But why should we assume that? The evidence we have for it is that we experience being alive. Therefore, we assume that being alive is what we are. But odds seem to beg for a better explanation. Odds would say it would be more likely to be alive at any given time, such as now, if life lasted forever. That way it might be infinity to infinity, rather than seventy five to infinity. Or perhaps, the odds would also be in our favor under a different supposition. Suppose there was no such thing as time. But rather time and space were subject to some power other than time and space that brings consciousness to the points of time and space appropriate to it. Now if that is the case, then there is nothing to stop us from living in an eternal state that includes all of our conscious states throughout a lifetime but only perceived according to the constructs of assumed space-time. Either of these two paradigms would explain why we are conscious at a particular moment and not not yet born and not long dead.
When considering this and considering the Christian and Muslim paradigm that supposes one life is lived for 75 years or so and this is followed by eternal life, then we are left with the problem of the passage of an eternal past. Paradoxically, if an infinite amount of time has passed, then we should never have arrived at this moment in time. This thought alone has brought many philosophers and cosmologists to agree that the past cannot have been eternal. Of course, they seem to love atheism and dismissing religious myths as fiction. So rejecting the notion of an eternal past is just one more point of tradition they can mock. But let me return to my certainty about theism and what is significant about the notion of the maximization of awesomeness.
Simply put, God is Maximized Awesomeness. Here me out.
We should start with a certain set of ideas we can agree on about what God is if God exists. If God exists, we expect God to be perfect. By perfect we mean that than which there can be nothing better. There can be no greater good.
Now while the concept of a greatest possible good may be inconceivable in its detail, it is not inconceivable in terms of its own self entailment. To be that than which there could be nothing greater, means to have more goodness than anythning else, and we might also suppose that if two things had every possible goodness but one had more badness than the other, that between the two the one that contained no badness would be better than the one that did have some badness. Therefore, to be that than which there could be nothing greater would be to possess all possible good things and to possess no bad things.
This is, of course, a very tall order. Nevertheless there is one place where we can trust the fullness of such a thing exists, and that is in the realm of pure possibility. Moreover, it is in consideration of just some of the various things that we could agree on that would be good, that we can ultimately conclude that Maximized Awesomeness is real, and not merely a concept. To begin with, however, we also need to clarify what is meant by being real. By being real, I would include two sets of things, one that exists as abstract possibility and another that exists beyond abstract possibility in any other reality. And we can say that abstract possibility itself is not real, unless that abstract possibility includes in itself something that creates somethingness out of nothingness – in other words – produces realities of itself out of nothing but the pure information abstract possibility is.
The question involves phenomena that quantum physicists haven’t come to understand. They theorize about sub-atomic particles and do tests that prove their formulas accurate. However, they do not understand, or even have a theory for how or why these sub-atomic particles, these quarks, leptons and so on, exist or act the way they do beyond theorizing that they exist on account of “fields.” So far I have heard no explanation for the existence or operation of these fields. But I have heard many admit that the fabric of reality appears to be information. By “information” is meant the particular motion and relationship of these fields and smallest particles, despite their lack of mass. Perhaps they exist as pure energy and serve like a computer, as data that forms the matrix of reality.
That information is capable of giving rise to material worlds seems to indicate that pure information would also give rise to the smallest particles that are in turn serving as that information which comprises the algorithms of reality. We can keep drilling down to theorize about information causing material or energy, that is subsequently itself causes by information. I don’t need to know the formula for it all. Instead, I think about infinite divisibility to zero. What is the limit to zero? And what is the limit to the limit to zero? Does that require something to exist? Or does it require nothing to exist? Would not all matter be made of something that small? It would seem then, that the first something, a limit to zero, at one angle, would be capable of setting all the momentum necessary for the rest. So, it is not inconcievable that pure possibility, as the totatlity of all possible information, having zero weight, would be the weightiest thing up to the presence of something, which if a limit to zero, is essentially zero.
I say all this to offer the possibility nothingness might indeed possess what the creation of somethingness requires. But now let’s turn to what is contained as pure information within the realm of pure possibility. Among the inconcievably great number of things all possibility includes, is that than which there could be nothing greater – God, or to put it another way – the possibility of Maximized Awesomeness.
What are the things that are included in this particular possibility? Everything that would be good. Nothing that would be bad. An exhaustive inventory of what would constitute good or evil. The possibility of self-awareness of itself and all that would or could be good in that very holiness. The formula for its own self-realization.
I would ask then if there is anything in reality that could add to its goodness and the answer is no. Those things must also be included because the inclusion of those things is possibility, as well. Therefore, all of the information we call reality is contained by Maximized Awesomeness within pure possibility, and in Maximized Awesomeness is contained all sorts of good things – like the ability to make all good things real, the formula to do so from nothingness so that nothingness never is, and the restraining of all possible evil.
I speak of formulas. I mean algorithms comprised of the information which pure possibility contains. I am not referring to some chemical formula that requires material things and energy to come to be. I am talking about computational algorithms. I am talking about the inherent quantum software in pure possibility since pure possibility contains all possible information, including those algorithms that create all possible realities from nothing.
The more difficult thought is not how something exists instead of nothing, if there was ever nothingness in every Universe, but how how good restrains evil. If Maximized Awesomeness is realized through pure possibility, then why is not Maximized Awfulness also realized by it? The answer is the restraining power of Maximized Awesomess over Maximized Awfulness that stems from its character. Maximized Awesomeness is harmoniuous in all that is good. Maximized Awefulness is chaotic in all that is evil. Chaos must destroy other chaotic things to maximize its chaos, not just the good – whereas, for the good to restrain all evil, it only needs to defeat evil, not itself. It renders evil non-existent.
This is the point of resistance I find in people contemplating the possibility of God. They see evil and conclude very quickly that God cannot exist because if they were God, they would not have created a world that would allow chaotic things to happen. Everything would be good.
Many have supposed that God allows chaotic things for the sake of free will and this is met with many arguments opposing free will. Mainly, the argument about free will seems insufficient because God seems to be skirting responsibility by blaming others for evil that He would have foreseen but permitted anyway. That sort of argument seems to me to be won by the opponents of the God theory. Instead, I propose that evil is never realized.
It may seem preposterous to say that evil is never realized, but I think it must be so if Maximized Awesomeness is true. I did not yet prove why I think Maximized Awesomeness is true above. I needed to also mention three other things – first, the moral imperatives that exists in the concept of goodness, which also has the formula for performing the good from nothingness, which is part of the possibility entailed by Maximized Awesomeness.
second, I need to mention the self-awareness, which similarly, must also be part of the possbility entailed by Maximized Awesomeness. I mean not just awareness of itself as being a being, but of all things it entails, including its own moral obligation, and its awareness of its power, and the knowledge of how to manfiest all of reality as itself. And indeed, to add that which is less than itself to reality to the extent that all lesser but holy and wholly good things also exist.
Third, I need to mention will, which similarly, must also be part of the possibilty entailed by Maximized Awesomeness. Intention and will are subparts, I suppose, of Self-Awareness in Maximized Awesomeness. I add this third part to show that pure possibility can have a will.
Such are the inner qualities of the possibility of God, and in them, as I’ve pointed out, are the knowledge of, the moral imperative to, and the power of making happen the realization of God by God as both purely immaterial spirit, and simultaneously, the totality of reality. And the reason is that it would be good if this were true and this truth is contained in the pure information which constitutes all possibility. But, as I said, we have the problem of evil, which we believe we see.
Quite simply, evil must be a convincing illusion. That is why believe it exists.
Now I can think of many ways in which convincing illusions of evil might serve good purposes. In fact, I have never heard a description of any evil that if it were nothing more than a convincing illusion, would have at least some good thing that by its supposed existence would prompt some good. And together with the fact that time and space seem to serve consciousness, when observing probability, as I first mentioned, I find in the paradigm that all things happen (where and when is not necessary), something consistent with a higher mind over matter, producing by the help and power of realized Maximized Awesomeness, time itself and all realized experience. I won’t add “never ending” to this description because if time is merely part of that grace produced consciousness tied in to an evil negated illusion, then the word “time and even the word “always” belong to a different sort of paradigm. Only the good exists. Time skips from good to good, but also repeats in a sustaining chorus, understood in the all knowing knowing, that also knows unknowing.
This is why I have always believed Maximized Awesomeness was true. In other words, this is why I have always believed in God. Thus we have the final two words in Pamalogy. Now let’s take a quicker look at the first to words – “Poly Astronomical.” These refer to the Multiverse. They mean “many universes.” If Maximized Awesomeness is true, then there are as many universes as it takes to exhaust every good possibility – all while using the convincing illusion of evil as a stepping stone to types of good that couldn’t exist otherwise. For instance, It is not possible to be healed without injury, but one can experience the knowledge of being healed via the convincing illusion of an injury. Similarly, one can forgive sin they believe to be real, but which is actually just something they were convinced had been a sin, but may not have been. This makes the forgiveness itself no less real. And again, if a tsunami seems to wipe out a village and prompts all sorts of service and compassion and prayer, then the service, compassion and prayer are real, whether the tsunami or the suffering people were real or not.
This, I think, is a much better reconciliation between what seems like evil and the God theory. Once we realize that time doesn’t exist, nor space, the existence of nothing but goodness is easier to see. It may not be of this world, but it is in this illusion as a point of grace, experiencing a moment of it being itself and doing what it does. In 7×9, I came back from a long journey, ready to explain this. I came back home, and created Season One of the Pamalogy Society podcast. At this time, I remain a humbled man by my circumstances. I took Uber up on a scholarship offer and completed anotheer degree. This one was in interdisciplinary studies with concentrations in organizational leadership and philosophy. I felt the need to articulate my philosophical system in a way that would be understood by other philosophers. When I founded the Pamalogy Society, that was the year that I realized who I was. I was a philosopher.
What is the meaning of life? SUPER CHRIS! A study of St. Christopher and Christopher Columbus leads us to a whole nuther Chris! This is the story you haven’t heard yet. And it’s the third in my SUPER SERIES. Get out yer pop corn and enjoy the show!
I’ve provided enough background in this MyStory series for now. Today, page 8, we jump ahead to the present. I used the word “asynalagonomy” on page 7 without explaining what it means. I told you about my Dad and I learned some things from him but incentivized asynalagonomy was not one of those things. What on earth was I thinking in 1982? My agreement with Dad was only partial and the valid points he made all resided dialectically within an anteasynalagonomic reality my father had no awareness of.
BUT WE NEED DEFINITIONS
I’m glad that there are only a handful of people who can pronounce “asynalagonomy” correctly. It takes a little practice. An even harder word is “anteasynalagonomy.” The fact that these words are hard to pronounce means they won’t be shared much and that gives me the opportunity to control what people think of them. This is strategic for me. I recognize that we live in a day when the meaning of many words shifts from month to month because of the tools of mass communication. Look up the word on Google and it turns the reader to this web site. That took some doing. Let it be.
I’ve defined it elsewhere here and I’m happy to help out on the meaning and pronunciation any time. “Ante” means “before.” “Synalagonomy” means a trade-based economy. The prefix “a” means “not.” So the word asynalagonomy means “an economy that is not based on trade” and anteasynalagonomy all put together means “the time before a tradeless economy,” or more specifically, “the economy of the time before a tradeless economy.” It means now.
So that’s the meaning. Now let’s practice the pronunciation.
“Ante” sounds like what you do before you play a hand of poker. You ante up.
“a” as in “asynalagonomy” uses the hard “a” sound as in “grape” or “ate.” The hard “a” sound is practical. Soft “a” as in apple is technically acceptable but much harder to garble out, so not recommended.
“synalagwn” is the root of this word. It comes from the Greek word for trade. Greek is an inflective language, so it is normal to change out the end of root words with all sorts of variables. That being the case, we don’t need to retain the hard “o” sound (as in “own”) just because the root is from the hard Greek omega rather than the soft Greek omicron. We can pronounce it like “on” as in “economy.”
“gonomy” rhymes with “economy.” I won’t go into the Greek here. You can ask an etymologist about the word economy. “Nomy” means laws or rules.
Now repeat this a few times until you’re comfortable with it …
ante a synalagonomy.
ante a synalagonomy.
ante a synalagonomy.
So prior to the total collapse of the sociocapitalist world, which I see as forthcoming if no one heeds my warnings and the Restoration Party is not supported, we have anteasynalagonomy. And after the total collapse of the sociocapitalist world, either we will have asynalagonomy, (hopefully an incentivized form of it), or we will have total anarchy. This last statement comprises the essence of my book, The Restoration Party Manifesto: Pre and Post Apocalyptic Solutions for the Future.
Having some limited control over how these words are used, thanks to my extreme lack of present popularity, allows me all the time I need to build an entire vision around them with all sorts of necessary distinctions. This I find essential in preparing for the collapse of modern civilization lest bad versions of the same solution pop up, as they so often do, and destroy the benefit of the thirty six years I’ve spent contemplating that future time. Most crucial, it is essential that an effective asynalagonomy be incentivized.
But that is a future world and a significant portion of those few who have been told about it, doubt it will ever happen. Even if they can envision such a collapse, they see different types of reboots – very dark ones, where the rich continue to live off the sweat of an even less empowered poor and where a US military steps in to assist them. So fine. That’s why we need Solution B Units as described in the book. As I see it, we are living in an anteasynalagonomic world, and anyone else is free to ignore the fact or disbelieve it. Well that sucks. As for me, I believe in putting life jackets and lifeboats on economies that look like they’re on the same course as the Titanic.
I have to have double vision. One is what I see. Another is what others see. One is our future reality. Another is our present reality. People are taught to see as they do from a very young age. I can’t just give them my vision. I’ve climbed a mountain and what I’ve seen from there is very different than what people who’ve always stayed in the valley imagine. I have to lead them through some very hard places to get them to see what I’ve seen. It’s a step by step process.
When we were children we played board games. Each game had its own rules. There was Monopoly, Life, Risk, Stratego, BattleShip, Chess and Checkers. They were all based on things we can readily understand – war, competition and capitalism. Other games, Trivial Pursuit, Detective and Operation introduced other facets of our world while card games taught us how to calculate. We are wired from childhood for a world that is competitive, that has sad realities. Some people lose. I can’t keep up with the modern gaming world. I imagine its the same. There are roll playing games and there are action games. I’m probably a fool for letting my son play Grand Theft Auto but there have been plenty of opportunities for me to point out that killing people and stealing their cars is wrong. Organized crime is bad. I’d rather he learn that in the cyber world. He also loves his Batman games. He obviously gets the point.
The content and basis of all those games is entirely the stuff of an anteasynalagonomy, where health care costs are rising out of control, where our enemies are increasing, where our annual budget deficits are impossible to balance, where a majority of the population has a negative net worth, where crime is a constant, where I find myself sorting out the best tax and health care policies for a new political party, seeing that the five dominant parties all fail.
I carry two separate visions. One for the future. One for now. It’s not too late to avert an economic apocalypse. But we need to mobilize the Restoration Party very quickly if we are to do so. So for the future vision, read all about incentivized asynalagonomy. It’s where things go if the world keeps ignoring my warnings, treating me like a ghost. To heed the warnings, consider moving your membership over to a new political party, the Restoration Party. Today we talk about tax reform and in my next blog we’ll cover health care reform. I find it far less promising given the difficulty of getting the Restoration Party revved up before it is too late but for now we are in full anteasynalagonomy mode. And here I will remind my readers once again that Restoration Party membership absolutely does not require any knowledge of or belief in incentivized asynalagonomy. In every situation, the Restoration Party is all about the here and now because the people the government is being restored to know and dwell in the here and now. Generally, their minds do not dwell in the future, like mine does, but they do have a profound sense of what is right. So on with the here and now.
FUNDING GOVERNMENT SOCIOCAPITALISTICALLY
Now we get to talk about the tax policy the Restoration Party will fight for over the next few years. It doesn’t make for the most interesting blog unless you are an economist but I’ll give it a summary whirl in layman’s terms. This will require some background. There are several popular proposals out there for tax reform. All of them have simplicity in mind. Everyone agrees the tax code is too complicated. Everyone also agrees that tax loopholes are unfair.
Let’s look at the reasons the tax code is complicated and unfair. First, it is historical. Changing it requires taking what you already have and making additions, by writing new code, or deleting them, by repealing law. It’s not so hard. In theory, it could be done with one comprehensive bill, but the tax code is so long that it is impractical to have one bill that simplifies everything. Congress won’t have time to review it in any given session.
Second, there is a long standing habit of using taxation to incentivize behavior. We incentivize home ownership by allowing tax deductions on interest expense. We incentive charitable giving by allowing deductions for giving to charity. We incentivize farming by offering credits for purchasing farm equipment. The list goes on endlessly. I’d be the last person to complain about providing incentive. But the result is that there is a very long list of such incentives – so long, in fact, that there are many incentives that are more than incentives. They are loopholes. Loopholes provide ways for people and companies to avoid paying tax at all even though they are earning plenty of profit.
Third, there is systemic corruption. Lawmakers, knowing that tax code is complex and nobody with a loud voice is watching, have the liberty to squeeze both pork and gristle into bills that pass because its better to have a little smudge in a bill that gets passed and has lots of otherwise good stuff, than to have no good stuff at all. That shit needs to be removed but few people have the patience or interest. They love complaining about Wall Street getting wealthy while the working class are exploited but they don’t have the energy to do what is required to change anything. Tax code is boring. They’d rather party in the streets.
Fourth, there are pay offs. The reason pork goes into bills is political favor. Political favor doesn’t just come from constituents. It comes from lobbyists and corporations who fund political campaigns through Super PACs. This is really all the same as point three but it deserves a mention because systemic corruption is the way evil politics works and that is something the Restoration Party will confront head on continually. It is not a matter of representatives actually helping out their voter bases. Their focus is on the jobs they can get personally after their term is up, on the deals they can make under the table, and on raising funds and political support for their next campaign. It’s all about them.
Failure to actually do anything about this has resulted in a very long tax code full of loopholes that ignores the cries of voters. It will keep getting more and more complicated and increasingly unfair, and even longer despite constant complaints about these very facts. The result is the clear need for a restoration of our government back to the American people, so that it represents the voters, and not just the few who know how to manipulate the system. Specifically, those few are the very wealthy, who can afford to pay smart tax accountants and attorneys. The result is we need some force to come and correct the problem that has thus far not existed. That force is the Restoration Party.
But what about the Libertarian Party? What about the flat tax? What about the fair tax? What about the neutral tax?
Don’t be confused by ploys. The neutral tax is … neutral … and reduces or eliminates the IRS while putting the burden of collection on the states. I have no ought about that. I rather like the idea but the flat tax and fair tax, while they may propose simplicity, both fail miserably. They are creations of libertarians. Libertarians are not knights in shining armor. They are just another set of bad guys. Heed my warning on this. Restorationists agree with them on smaller government but not on free market economics and morality.
The Restoration Party demands fiscal responsibility and won’t ignore the burden of the national debt but its objective is not to bolster the wealthy, as it secretly is for Libertarians. Our goal in seeking smaller government is to protect the American people from the oppression of taxation and the impotency of government when government lacks proper funding. A flat tax doesn’t generate enough revenue at 10% or at 20% to eliminate any debt. It doesn’t even balance a budget. Gary Johnson is popular right now and he wants to employ the Fair Tax. It amazes me that the American people are falling for this just because they are so unhappy with their current choice of the lesser of two evils.
WHY THE FAIR TAX IS UNFAIR
The “fair” tax starts with a national sales tax of about 30% that sells itself as 23% using some inclusive pricing trickery that I won’t get into but the number doesn’t matter, as I will explain below. The larger problem is something that it recognizes and readily admits. It has a problem of taxing the poor unfairly and it knows this. Quite simply, the poor spend all their money and the wealthy don’t. Since the “fair tax” is a sales tax, they are taxed on all their income. The wealthy don’t. The wealthy save most of their money so they wind up not only not paying the up to 70% Bernie Sanders would have pushed for, but something close to 0%, depending on how wealthy they are. The wealthier they are, the lower the proportion of their spending is to their net worth. That means they pay a lower percentage of their income than the poor do.
Fair Tax supporters understand that this is unfair to the poor so they made a concession with something called, “prebates.” Prebates are an odd thing coming from Libertarians, as they would amount to the most massive welfare dole out in American history. The reason I call the whole thing a “ploy” is that the dole out not only applies to the poor, but everybody gets a prebate, including your neighborhood billionaire. Pretty much, the prebate is a government hand out that amounts to the amount of money a person needs to spend in a year in order to survive. Or that’s the theory anyway.
Great. We can all survive. Except that the disaster that follows is that the fair tax disincentivizes spending. The more you spend, the greater your tax. The only way for the Middle Class to save any money is by resisting spending. The only way the poor can survive is by resisting spending. Spending is sort of vital for the survival of businesses. Supposedly, this is made up for by not “double” taxing businesses on the wholesale level. Supposedly, prices go down because raw materials and the cost of labor become cheaper. After all, businesses no longer pay out social security or payroll tax. Their only job in the tax collection process is collecting sales tax from customers.
The big losers with the fair tax are the middle class. Anyone who lives pay check to pay check has to spend all their money, not just those under the poverty line. The middle class gets to watch the rich get richer since they don’t spend all their money, while they can’t escape their middle class status no matter how hard they try. If there was ever a tax proposal that represented capitalist exploitation it is the so called “fair” tax. It is a ruse for the poor with its prebate. In actuality, it profits the uber wealthy, removing almost all taxation from them entirely.
Well, if you are a believer in the power of trickle down economics, then great. That’s how to turn on the spigot. As a matter of fact, I have no complaint about that theory myself. I have long advocated that any money saved by capitalist pigs goes into investments because that’s how they grow their money. I have never wavered from pointing out that ultimately all investments fall back to producing goods and services that require labor or equipment and that means jobs. I see that as inescapable. My opinion and support of trickle down economics has never changed.
However, capitalist exploitation is not about trickle down. It works in other ways. I see big box companies capitalizing on and encouraging shitty job markets so they can pay minimum wage. I see them quickly turn to part-time-only hiring in order to avoid paying health benefits. I see Wall Street recognizing that and doing something even more dastardly than quantitative easing to suck the blood out of workers. They literally want to make sure that there is always a certain volume of unemployed so they can pay less in labor. They will pay off politicians to make sure there are always at least 7% unemployed.
The old 7%, I mean. They were happy to shift the calculation of the unemployment rate so that what used to be called 17% is now called 5%. When I say 7%, I’m referring to the old 7%. Bring the unemployment rate down below the old 7% and it creates a job seeker’s market. A job seeker’s market is when there are many jobs available and not enough potential employees available seeking them to fill the positions. It becomes too expensive to do business when that happens. Service suffers. In a job seekers’ market, some companies can’t even do business because they can’t find the right employees to stay competitive. They may even have to go out of business.
Forget trickle down economics. Unemployment manipulation is where the real capitalist exploitation is. But that’s another subject. For now let’s examine the fair tax.
There are other perks. The fair tax helps employees by eliminating social security and medicare deductions. It doesn’t matter how many exemptions they have. The only withholding will be for voluntary medical plans, retirement plans and other voluntary employee benefits. I’ve got to be fair about saying this. That’s a major plus for the fair tax. The poor working stiff may pay far more than the uber wealthy proportionately, but dang, they do get a boost in the form of what feels like an initial raise, and they won’t be complaining when they receive those prebates either.
How slick. How insidious. This plan will fail if ever implemented for lack of adequate revenue in an era of prebate fueled hyper-inflation. The problem is not actually on the economy side. It is on the government spending side. Allow me to explain. Let’s start by highlighting some of the other positives in this plan.
First, inflation is not something you complain about when you hold all the comodities and real estate, which is what companies and wealthy people do. Make no mistake, the uber wealthy get uber wealthier with this “fair tax.” They enjoy a free ride on inflation and free themselves of the burden of being taxed all at the same time. Now I have no complaint about people becoming trillionaires. My only concern with that is the way trillionaires push their political weight around and turn countries into plutocracies. But that is a discussion for another day. For now, I should at least point out that knowing this, you can be sure of who it is who is pushing for this type of tax plan.
Second, there is the rest of us. The way the fair tax is designed, everybody expects inflation, because the prices are supposed to increase. That’s exactly what the tax is. It’s worked into the price of everything you buy. You’ve got your prebate subsidizing it. So just don’t buy so much.
Well there’s an interesting conundrum. Buying slows down, and that forces prices down. Money supply increases and that pushes prices up. Which is it? It’s a balance. So I’m going to list here on the positive side that the fair tax is not so inflationary as one might first think. However, saying so requires I temper that by noting that neither does it speed up the economy up. If there is a “balance,” then there is also sluggish growth. So on to the negatives.
The problem with the rich getting richer is not that the rich get richer, it is with the poor getting poorer and the middle class becoming poor with them. With rare exception, neither the poor nor the working class will be able to jump over the canyon to become wealthy. The middle class will become poverty class a heck of a lot more easily. Unless the basic problem of too much unemployment is solved, they will remain one misstep away from the even more inescapable poor house, one job loss, one auto accident, one illness – even just a short term illness.
The fair tax enhances this problem with even more incentive for corruption. Once you boost the existing plutocracy with even more cash, you guarantee the continued corruption of the government. This will ensure that the unemployment rate remains above the old 7% so that there is never a job seekers’ market. In short, the companies fair well, but the poor and the middle class are screwed. This may be something the Libertarians in our midst support, but it is nothing the average American should buy into.
But you may not appreciate or believe in that so let me assure you it gets much worse. As I mentioned, this is a revenue problem. The reality is that the rich presently pay the majority of America’s taxes. That money suddenly doesn’t appear in our tax coffers. The fair tax suddenly shuts off the spigot to the vast majority of its current revenue source – taxes paid by the wealthy. And if that isn’t enough, it also stops taxing corporations. There is no way to make up for this sudden loss and yet maintain a flat tax rate other than to tax the poor and middle class still more. How? By increasing the national sales tax rate. After all, the national sales tax is its only source of revenue – unless … it doesn’t repeal the 16th amendment within the required seven years.
I forgot to mention that. The Fair Tax proposes to eliminate the IRS by repealing the 16th amendment. Repealing amendments isn’t so easy in a partisan world. Let’s be realistic about this. Fair Tax majority support is already fluky. Assuming that after seven years, the IRS comes back and starts recomplicating this, we’ll have both a rapidly escalating national sales tax and the existing mess we’re already complaining about at the same time. Isn’t that wonderful?
THE ESCALATING PREBATE
Did I say “escalating”? Yes, I did … because of the cost of the prebates. These start out at say, $25,000 for a family of four, and the cost of living in a state is not a consideration, (which is certainly unfair). Then, since more money needs to be raised and taxes will increase, the cost of living goes up. The prebate is based on the cost of living. Therefore, the prebate also must increase. The price of products on the shelves that the poor and middle class have to spend all their money on keeps increasing along with the prebate amounts. The prebate amount keeps increasing with higher and higher tax rates. In each case, it is never the wealthy who pay for it. It is always the poor and middle class. And these are made happy by the morphine shots they get that we call prebates. The trick is to keep everybody comfortably numb.
The pot then begins to boil with the poor and middle class unaware that they can jump out of it. At a certain point, the national sales tax rate reaches 100%. This is inclusively calculated, so a product that costs $1.00 on the shelf, gets a 100% or $2 price. No problem. The prebate pays for it. This still doesn’t produce enough income for the government, so the rate then becomes 200%, or 300% and so on. The price of the product on the shelf doubles or triples accordingly every few months or years. Unfortunately, it is not the business that is controlling the price at that point. It is the government. If people can’t afford it and buying slows down, the price can only be reduced with the loss of government revenue. That means the national sales tax rate must increase still more and with it the prebate amount. The circle never ends.
The result is an inflation that does not benefit the wealthy. It merely slows down the economy. So what are we doing with responsible fiscal budgeting here? We are creating a crisis. We begin by paying out the prebate in advance. This is where it gets its name. It’s paid out so that the people can afford the extra cost of stuff. Paying it out in advance is fine for the public, but not for the government, which needs to live within its means. The government doesn’t have the cash to do that unless it goes farther into debt. Yes, the government too can have cash flow problems.
The prebate amount keeps increasing so this problem doesn’t go away. It only escalates. The result is that the government eventually shuts down. Good grief. We were losing money with the current tax system because of loopholes for the wealthy. The fair tax takes the current pin hole sized loop holes and turns them into one big rip in the balloon. Just say “no” to the fair tax. It’s not just unfair. It is suicidal.
THE RESTORATION PARTY TAX POLICY
So enough about the Fair Tax. The Flat Tax is no better. It just doesn’t offer prebates or try to mess with the 16th amendment. Let’s move on to the tax policy of the Restoration Party. What do I actually recommmend?
I said that I liked the neutral tax. Like other tax programs, the neutral tax seeks to abolish the IRS. There is nothing simple about the neutral tax though. It sells itself as simplistic but in fact, I should state up front that it is likely to be far more complex. Its complexity comes from allowing each state to determine its own tax methods. What that does is it creates fifty separate tax codes – one for each state.
It is up to each state how simple or complicated they want to make their revenue generation. The neutral tax says nothing about how to scale revenue between the rich and the poor or what deductions and credits to allow or for what purposes. It allows states the flexibility to build tax revenue code that is in their own best interest, which is something their own voters can determine.
It will be the general policy of the Restoration Party that it is the Federal government’s role to serve the states, just as it is the role of each state to serve its residents. Government is for and by the people. The guiding principle of the Restoration Party is restoring public service to the people, by the people, for the people. That means on every level. The role of the Federal government is no different and its tax policy fits in with that consistent view.
My personal view on this matter is not entirely important. What matters is the opinions of the people in each state. A state that wants to attract the presence of the uber wealthy, may want a Fair Tax code. Then again, its residents may strongly object. One thing the neutral tax does by bringing power back to the states is it takes it out of the hands of the plutocrats in Washington. That does not, however, take it out of the hands of the plutocrats in their state. A much closer attention to local politics can be expected and it won’t be dictated by a news feed controlled by national TV. That could get interesting.
My own state of Florida has no state income tax. Our government gets its revenue primarily from travel and hospitality. Our state sales tax is comparatively low. It was 5% when I grew up and has now crept up to 7%. Property taxes are quite low also and there is a homestead exemption here to encourage people to move here. That raises property values, which raises property tax revenue but no where near as much as a simple increase in property tax rates would.
I personally am a believer in real estate property tax and another type of property tax, a stock and bond property tax. I’m all for the elimination of income tax. But it is property tax I would personally advocate. But that’s just me. Other Restoration Party members might vehemently disagree. The rich may not buy much stuff but they do purchase assets. If you want to tax them, then forget their income. That disincentivizes business growth. Tax their assets instead, starting with their real estate. Sure they’ll squeal and complain, but that’s where the money is. It’s not in the pockets of the poor and the working class who live from paycheck to paycheck.
That’s my opinion and I’m sticking to it. But neither is that the policy of the Restoration Party. I always separate the two. The Party itself let’s each state decide. As such, it makes sense for each state Restoration Party to support the neutral tax. Beyond this, it cries out for a restoration of public service to the people. That means breaking up monopolies and divorcing government from the wealthy few. As such, it is likely that measures separating the wealthy from governmennt influence would be taken. Raising property taxes, and especially stock and bond taxes, would not be inconsistent with that aim.
Simplicity can also be served. I don’t want to undersell this. An asset tax is better, in my opinion, than a capital gains tax. Eliminate a capital gains tax and replace it with an asset tax. I recognize this requires repealing a clause in an amendment. Parties are better suited for making such changes than Acts and bills are in themselves. Excellent change takes time.
Simplicity is also served in a practical way. States have smaller bureaucracies. They tend to live within their means better than the Federal Government does. They know better than to make their tax laws hopelessly complex. The harder that is, the more tax collectors they will need. They can’t afford more tax collectors and auditors. Elimination of tax loopholes is in their best interest. Simplicity follows and each state handles it, all while maintaining incentives that make sense for each state.
Now that is policy that I think belongs on the Restoration Party platform. It’s two visions. One for me and one for the party. This one is for the here and now. And there you have it.
It was nice moving back home living with my parents after I finished my bachelor’s degree. My friendship with my father had always been about my accomplishments prior to that – qualifying for the Olympics, hitting it big with a jazz combo. But I wasn’t good enough at either one of those things. I won’t fault him for his enthusiasm or encouragement but there shouldn’t have been any talk about any Olympics and given my personal limits it was somewhat misguided. I had a four year scholarship in diving and it’s helpful to set goals. I dove against Greg Louganis and all the best but I wasn’t nearly talented enough to be an Olympian and the big dream continually put in front of me by his words ultimately left me feeling I had disappointed him. Coming home and living in the house a few years helped build our relationship on more solid ground.
That home was a place called Eden Road, in Palm Beach. Charley Carvin achieved a measure of success in life. Many would say I grew up in a privileged family but such advantage has its limits and it isn’t what many people think it is. In 1966 we moved just three or four houses away from the Kennedy family on the shore of Palm Beach. Dad’s father, Charley Carvin Sr., had taught him the textile business and been quite a personality in New York. Dad rode on his success but he took risks. He was a salesman and a marketing man, who smoked cigarettes and enjoyed two martini lunches, and had a trophy wife, in the style of the fictional Mad Man, Don Draper, living in a mansion in Rye.
Dad always had stories to tell and they were always larger than life. We always had to check with Aunt Barbara to see which parts were true and where the exaggeration fit in. I’d have loved to have known what actually caused him to resign as VP of Allied Chemical’s Chemstran division. Aunt Barbara affirmed he was Jonathan Winters’ AA partner. The great comedian lived across the pond from us. Alcohol was likely part of it. But did he get fired because of his drinking? It’s nothing he ever hinted at with me. He liked me thinking of him as a superhero. People ask what class is – it’s a mother who throughout a lifetime has nothing but positive things to say about your father, yet never once lied. She was better looking than Betty Draper and she had more class too.
When I got home from college, Dad and I would talk about business and politics every night as we watched the MacNeil-Lehrer Report. The concept of “Country Club Republican” was something that hit home. Dad had been a member of sixty different golf clubs – one of the perks of his old job. Richard Nixon stayed at the house next door to ours when he campaigned in Florida and Dad was a big donor who leveraged his relationships on the island. Ronald Reagan was like the Messiah’s messenger for Dad, and then later Rush Limbaugh. But Limbaugh and Trump became Palm Beach powers after Dad lost his prominence. He had this in common with Trump – they had both received flack from the Town of Palm Beach for starting clubs that were ethnically inclusive. Dad had bought the Palm Beach Pier, which had been condemned for disrepair. He was trying to build an underwater restaurant there. But Palm Beach didn’t want black people walking across the bridge to fish over the ocean.
West Palm Beach is known for its racial divide. The disparity between rich and poor there, the workers and the wealthy, forced the distinction between class and classiness. Perceptions of snootiness, noses high in the air, seemed imaginary to me growing up. None of my friends ever did that, so far as I can remember, but obviously there was ethnic separation being imposed by the decision makers. The Jews had their club and the gentiles had theirs. The two did not mix. Blacks were not allowed on the island without permission at all. I can’t imagine what it must have been like for my friends, Kyle Boynton, or Beau and Kim Darden. To me their blackness was a cool thing.
They were just friends, the token black kids at Palm Beach Public School. Nobody had taught me to hate anybody. Their parents must have been wealthy to get there though. I know Boon Darden Sr. was Chief of the Riviera Beach Police. I never gave any thought to how out of place they may have felt. Girls were all I could think about at the time. Then desegregation brought busloads of black children to the island. Some of these kids were unfriendly. My brother got mugged. The days of Christmas parties at the Darden’s house were over. The new black kids clicked up and stayed separate. It was their comfort zone. I don’t blame them. But now I look back and think about what they probably thought about us. We were no longer people. We were the rich. And they didn’t want us in their neighborhoods. Racial division went two ways.
Privilege may mean naivety but it doesn’t mean hate. We weren’t just privileged. We were fortunate. Dad’s Dad, Pop Pop, was no wealthy kid. He was just a hard worker. Naturally, I have to sort out the exaggeration here, but as I understand it, his father, a bartender, had sent him packing out to San Francisco to live with his Uncle Joe because he was the son of a former wife. It is speculated he may not have been legitimate. His Uncle Joe was a cab driver who was later shot in the back of the head. None of that stopped Charley Sr. from moving up in the world. He moved back to Philadelphia and started at the bottom at Murphy textiles and ultimately won the affection of both father and daughter. When you marry into it you’re not earning all your money so I won’t make the claim he achieved the American dream through savings and hard work alone.
No. I’ll be the first to acknowledge that savings and hard work are elusive as hell when it comes to achieving the American dream. Anything going wrong with your health along the way can destroy the entire effort. One accident can lead to a downward spiral. We’re all just one fatal misstep away from failure. And if we manage not to screw everything up while remaining free of misfortune, there’s a certain tipping point for wealth that creates security. At that point you can let your portfolio managers limit your risk. Your interest and dividends will be enough to live on. If enough generations pass while your savings keep working for you and your children, you become a “blue blood.”
It’s like royalty. You don’t have to be an entrepreneur. But that’s what Dad was. He was a gambler. He was desperate to make it to the top so he could maintain and improve on the lifestyle of his father. Pop Pop was an adventurous and talented guy, but not a gambler. Dad was there, so close to that financial safety zone – but not quite all the way to blue blood freedom. In getting to know Dad, I hadn’t yet learned these distinctions. His great business acumen had been presented to me as a matter of experience and certainty – not foolish risk. But the ugly truth was this. After he resigned from Allied he was free to make his own fortune. He bought a seat belt manufacturing plant. He gambled on what to him looked like a sure thing. And he lost.
My father’s loss was my gain. I could easily have been handed a kingdom. I know that’s what he wanted. Instead, I saw and came to know and understand the life of an entrepreneur. And that is something more valuable than an MBA. I also came to realize there are two very different types of people living in Palm Beach. There are those who will never know the type of struggle and lack of security Dad knew. And then there are people like Dad. There are many on the island who don’t ask questions about money. They are simple people who make friends and enjoy living there while it lasts. And then there are the people who know you’re looking for a loan. You become a pariah when your cash runs short. You have to hide that fact for as long as you can when it happens.
I no longer serve as a loan representative. It’s an unethical business that was eating away at my soul but I’ll never forget the hardship cases I heard every day. Everybody had a story leading up to why they were desperate enough to borrow money from me at rates above 30%. It was mostly car repairs, health problems, lost jobs, evictions. Occasionally it was family members borrowing their own money to care for their loved ones. I respect sacrificial giving. But there is nothing I understand better than the struggle of the entrepreneur. Some would call me still wet behind the ears looking for $20-40,000 to start a business. Then they would tell me about their current debt and income. I knew they weren’t getting any loan. What they needed was an investor.
And then there was the woman who had gotten herself into business but failed. People have no sympathy for failing entrepreneurs. They are angry at them for spending their money foolishly. Banks can’t loan them money – too much risk. I may have been one of the only people on this planet qualified to offer comfort to a woman like that. Entrepreneurs have to borrow money from friends and family to get a start. Friends and family may loan you money for a business once, but seldom twice. You’ve got to show them a return on their investment the first time around. You can’t have a better idea down the road. It doesn’t work. If you fail, you don’t just lose your savings. You lose your family and friends.
The serial entrepreneur knows nothing in this world other than how to have a dream and make it happen. The risk they take when they attempt to live out their dream involves the loss of everything that matters most. It’s not just the money. It’s the relationships. It can take a lifetime to gain back forgiveness and respect – most never offer it. Those who suffer from substance abuse addictions enjoy far more understanding than failed entrepreneurs. And yet if you look at the memes on the Internet – one after the other encourages entrepreneurs to never give up. Never giving up is the core mantra. Imagine a world where addicts are encouraged to never give up on their drug induced euphoria. That’s what it’s like for entrepreneurs. They can’t escape how they are wired. They are told to get real jobs by those who think real jobs are what normal people do – people who save their money, pay their insurance, and live within their means. Such talk comes from the same people who reject the term “living wage.” On principle, you should be able to earn $2 dollars a day and your family should be just fine. It doesn’t matter that living within your means means being homeless.
What a very different world the entrepreneur lives in compared to the corporate mogul, who calls himself an entrepreneur. The mogul is really just a portfolio manager. Even the venture capitalist is all about valuating businesses and mitigating risks. Passion for a dream is a distraction. The angel investor comes to save the entrepreneur’s day but is otherwise known as a shark. If you want cash to run a business – go to your family and friends. If you run out of family and friends to borrow from because you’ve failed once, produce a miracle. Produce a miracle because that is what is expected of the superheros we call entrepreneurs. The moguls take the name. The sharks live on the blood of real entrepreneurs.
Who is the true “serial entrepreneur”? Is it the person who has dreams they can’t give up on even if they fail? Is it the person who reinvents it and keeps coming back? Or is it the one who is lucky enough to pick more than one good start up to risk some of his spare money on? I mean no disrespect to the investor but the true serial entrepreneur is the one with the passion so great that he puts everything he has into it. Anyone worthy of the name “entrepreneur” will come back to life after everybody thought they were dead. There was a brief time when Dad had enough money to be the portfolio manager type but he threw everything he had into his big bets. The company owner takes on the risk. That’s why they reap the rewards if they succeed.
It was good to learn this from Dad as we watched the news every night. Crossfire came on next. And it’s an irony. He knew the stress his business put him through and saw that I wanted to own my own business too. He’d encouraged me to get into music and to dive against impossible odds. And then he did what he could to discourage me from going into business. He wanted to spare me the heart ache. I was a savings counselor at a Savings and Loan. You could get a T30 Certificate of Deposit and earn 18%. Before his bankruptcy, Dad was paying out over 30% on the money he was borrowing to keep his business afloat. I saw it ripping him apart. Somehow several years later he managed to pay off the IRS and sell the house on Eden Road. Working at a bank was about as interesting to me as watching grass grow.
Donald Trump and Rush Limbaugh moved onto the island right around when we moved off. Now that was exciting. Trump turned Meriwether Post’s house into a country club. Corinne used to babysit for Timmy Griffin there and I had had a few peeks. As Dad’s health kept heading south, his stories kept coming in. He was jealous of Trump’s bankruptcies, him and Jud Kasuba. “If you’re going to have a bankruptcy,” he would say to me, “fail so big the banks have to bail you out.”
As he embraced his failure, Dad’s stories grew more spiritual. He was Catholic and he wanted me to be a priest. He couldn’t tell me this, lest I lose respect for him, but to his mind it was essential in business to “sell the customer what they need, not what they want.” It was one of the eight slogans in his Total Marketing Concept. The customer may not really need it. But you have to believe they do if you’re going to market your product. Enthusiasm and excitement. That’s what really matters. He knew my sense of ethics would never swallow that. I was all about delivering what you promise. He was right.
That was Dad’s dirty little secret. He preached Republican libertarianism and introduced me to Walter Williams. But he knew the ways of this world and there was a disconnect between the supposed positive morality of free market capitalism and the world he knew as a marketing man. Sales wasn’t about selling people what they want. It was about showing them they need what you want them to want. If that meant dealing in excitement to sell an illusion, so be it. When a person buys an illusion it isn’t a fair exchange of values. It is one person robbing another. Dad saw I had my mom’s innocence in a world full of guile. He wanted to keep it that way.
But Dad was not going to be able to stop me. He set me in motion to think globally when he taught me to think like an Olympic champion. And when he talked about my future in music, it wasn’t just so I could play to my children. Success was defined by the names of well known musicians. It didn’t matter if I lacked sufficient talent, or not. There was no such thing as half-way in the world Dad showed me. Nightly political discussions magnified this because together what we talked about was how to fix the world. Dad was very animated in his opinion. He sold what the world needs to his believing son. If you hate Ronald Reagan for whatever reason, just pretend he was a Democrat. It makes no difference. Dad built up in me a fire for changing things. We had a vision for a better world. And when he did that, it wasn’t something he could put out.
Then came 1982. I didn’t go to the Catholic Seminary to be a parish priest. I went as a layman wanting to lead laymen. I had been working at the Savings and Loan for two years at that point and had just taken a job with the US Postal Service. I moved into a town home and it’s probably a good thing I moved out of Dad’s house because it was while working at the S&L that it suddenly dawned on me that capitalism was the problem rather than the solution. I had a job that involved nothing but shifting people’s money around. I wasn’t producing any real goods or services that tangibly improved anyone’s quality of life. It occurred to me that the vast majority of jobs were actually like that, including Dad’s marketing job at Allied. It was a horrible waste of human effort. I could be making widgets with my hands or serving tables or fixing toilets and accomplishing more with my time. Delivering mail was liberating. Part of it was bills but another part was nice letters and packages.
People used to write letters.
That was when the concept of an incentivized asynalagonomy came to me. I entered that seminary with this on my mind, and surprisingly, my idea for a money-less economy was very well received and I quickly found myself being introduced to a cadre of Marxists at the Catholic Regional Seminary.
But my favor with them was very short-lived thanks to the influence of my Dad. Coming home with a report of them met with all the reasons Ronald Reagan was needed so badly. My mom, a Presbyterian, was relieved to hear of the Catholic Communists. Perhaps it would dissolve some of my Dad’s criticism of her pastor for preaching unilateral disarmament at a time when what was needed more than ever was a total commitment to the policy of Mutually Assured Destruction. But Dad’s Catholic faith had blinders to such fair criticism. God’s special providence was on the Catholic Church. He would stand on the idea that the gates of hell couldn’t prevail against it. The problem of Communism at the Seminary was going to go away just like all heresies do over time.
Maybe the Communists would but not the Democrats. They were at the Seminary to stay. And by 1986, the Boland Amendment was preventing funding of anti-Communist efforts in Latin America. Ollie North was raising funds in ways that got Reagan in trouble and a not so well remembered guy, Sam Hall, an Olympic diver turned counter-terrorist became my new role model. Dad brought me back around full swing cleaning the seminary of its heretical liberation theology. I even found evidence that the MaryKnoll sisters were shipping guns to the Sandinistas. Well, that certainly wasn’t very peaceful. And it wasn’t something I should have shown my Social Justice teacher, a Trotskyite. The Seminary no longer offered the classes necessary for me to complete my Masters in Theology degree after that. Well at least they wouldn’t ship me off to some parish assignment in the middle of nowhere as they were known to do with their controversial priests. I’d accept the incompleted degree as the price for my freedom to actually change the world. Youth is such a beautiful thing. You can do anything.
So here are just a few closing thoughts for this page in my story. First, I am not my father. I listed to my father. I considered the Republican Party and became familiar with Libertarian ideology. I accepted the trickle down theory as axiomatic for capitalist paradigms and could see how government had done nothing but destroy my father’s hopes and dreams. I was never a Communist. Those people believe in revolution. Violence is inefficient. Communism is even more inefficient than incentivized tradeless economies are efficient.
And the whole capitalist thing? My dad’s example was proof positive that it takes money to make money. A key trick to capitalism is capital. The large corporation has distinct advantages over the individual. Being a shareholder is not being an entrepreneur. It is taking a free ride on a system the way a surfer takes a free ride on a wave if they are lucky to be positioned for doing it at the right time. It’s not like a corporate board doesn’t have some input. A surfer has to have some instinct and experience and has to paddle and have balance. Even a portfolio holder needs that much skill. But entrepreneurship is dead in America if that’s all it is anymore. Is entrepreneurship dead? My family hates my Dad’s failure. They hate my failure.
And what about the Communist thing? Incentivized asynalagonomy understands that Communism fails because the people have no incentive to work. They can’t even call anything their own. Socialism and Communism have never achieved more than state Capitalism. They’ve never been asynalagonomies, much less incentivized ones. There is nothing in common between them. Communism is an illusion. And the idiots of this world are trying to force it on us through violent revolution. Or they were. Even the MaryKnoll nuns have helped them. It’s just one more raw marketing deal in this world.
And what people need, not what they want, is incentivized asynalagonomy. “The duller the product the greater the prospects for success,” my Dad used to say. That’s well and good, Dad. But you’ve got to have a marketing organization if you want total marketing. I haven’t given up on the idea this can’t be done without cash. Just show me how to find my partners.
Stepping back and forward one more day in the life of, I bring you to my educational pursuits. I am a constant student.
I also cry at movies when they have a very high impact. A close friend of mine recently passed away. He founded the Brotherhood of St. Symeon the New Theologian. I had been a supporter of his for years and for a time was on the Board of Directors. The ministry was controversial within the Orthodox Church and in some ways I was critical but the late Archimandrite Eusebius Stephanou occasionally published some of my writing, wondered at my insight, and whenever I saw him he would always lament that there weren’t enough wealthy patrons to support me in a ministry of writing, though I was a layman.
The brothers would read from the writings of St. Symeon the New Theologian and discuss them regularly. St. Symeon was all about tears. The type of tears St. Symeon described are those that happen when there is close engagement in a profound theological love relationship. They are not just tears of joy. They embrace every Christian mystery.
People cry at movies because of a close engagement in a drama. I’m convinced that it is a gift of imagination they have that causes them to emote this way. It is a form of empathy. The healthy body is designed to relate to others, to experience with others, through active engagement of the mind and heart, in a participation between their knowledge of their own experience and what they understand and can relate to in the experience of another.
Not everyone has the gift of tears. Not everyone is an empath but those who are are often thought a little strange by those who are not. For Symeon, continual tears were the appropriate result of a healthy relationship with and in Christ. He did not talk just of agape love, a higher cerebral love divorced from the body. He spoke of divine eros, a love relationship with God that produced a continuous flow of tears. These were not just tears of joy for Symeon. They were tears of profound communion. I’ll spare you the special theological terms behind it, reserving those for my Cosmostrophy page, where I feel more at liberty to discuss my religion.
The reason I am blogging here in My Story is so you can know who the founder of the Restoration Party is and better understand the values I would like it to embrace. It is an elaborate way to share where I am coming from. It will provide some context for the proposals, viewpoints and mission reflected in the Restoration Party Manifesto that I am in the midst of writing as I continue to blog.
I do realize that political enemies will come along and take the things I say out of context so that I may be misrepresented. It’s the way of the world. Blogging here provides a simple way to access the whole picture and acquire my personal understanding of the truth. I am a Christian but I am not on the Christian right. I am Orthodox but I am a critic of Orthodoxy and of Christianity as a whole. I am associated with the Brotherhood of St. Symeon the New Theologian but have complex views when it comes to charismatic movements.
And the truth is that, like St. Symeon, I am a man of many tears. When other people hurt, I hurt with them. When they rejoice, I rejoice with them. This week, I had approximately 300 loan requests. Of those, approximately 90 cars had broken down, 80 jobs had been lost, 5 husbands had died, 2 wives, 3 sons, 4 had cancer, 11 had spouses with cancer, 7 fatal accidents, some lost all they had through law suits, others gave all that they had caring for their elderly parents, 20 cars in tow, 14 on the verge of repossession, 120 had moving expenses, about 40 moves were simultaneous with cars breaking down. It was like I was reliving my own life again through them, and all like me, were broke enough to have no credit or savings sufficient to handle the impact. They were all desperate enough to call me, knowing they would pay sky high interest rates. There were also 4 weddings and about 20 vacations. It’s not all bad until you see they can’t actually afford these things.
One of my last calls was a girl living in a group home. My brother had lived in a group home like that. She had Down Syndrome like him. It hadn’t occurred to me that the Internet would ever become accessible to Down Syndrome people living in group homes but here she was trying to get a loan to pay for her $330 medical bill. Her medical bill was all of $1.33 greater than her social security check. I get paid commission and it was my job to upsell her while I issued her the $500 loan she needed for the $1.33 expense. A better loan rep than myself would have sold her a credit monitoring service for $39/month and credit repair for $99/month, both of which she qualified for, as she neither knew her credit scores nor had good credit. Had I been a fiction writer, I would never have thought of such a scene. The reality is something I will never be able to remove from my mind.
What this situation does to an empath with a conscience is it prompts passion. It makes me want to fix a seriously screwed up system before it dries up my tears, numbing me with the repetitious sales pitch that drags my soul to hell. When I previously mentioned my work made me cry, some of my friends contacted me because they were concerned about me. They needn’t worry. I’m not suffering from depression and I’ve never had a suicidal thought in my life. It’s when the tears stop that I start wondering what is wrong with me. It’s when a person doesn’t care that the disease becomes evident. As we consider reality, there shouldn’t be a dry eye in the house. But we are sick.
The Orthodox like to distance St. Symeon from the charismatic movement. They think Pentecostalism is demonic and believe he can only be understood in a monastic context. After all, he was an abbot and there is little evidence he spoke in tongues or conducted healing services as he promised material blessings in exchange for faith gifts.
And speaking of demons, the Orthodox view spiritual warfare very differently. The devil is spoken of and his demons but defeating them is largely a matter of overcoming passion. It’s passion that is the enemy. Orthodox exorcism is all about overcoming fleshly passion, which is one reason the tears of St. Symeon are anything but Pentecostal. They view Pentecostalism as a carnal replacement for genuine spirituality. Their fasts are not viewed as entreaties to God so much as exercises in overcoming desire. It is all about discipline. The mind removed from the things of this world is freed up to contemplate the things of the next.
The role of the demon in the life of a Christian is that of an annoyance. They are sent by a master of folly to distract and drag down a spiritual aspirant who for lack of discipline willfully engages in their temptations. Whereas the Pentecostal will offer verbal incantations against the demons and suppose these have rendered spiritual victory, the Orthodox finds victory only at the end of life’s journey in a soul that has climbed to spiritual heights in his own liberation from passion. It is not as though there is no passion. It is a passionate dispassion that evolves as he comes to grow in his love for Christ and by that is the devil defeated.
In the meantime, all that happens in life happens in the permissive will of God, who permits the demons to tempt man in various ways. Destruction and loss are like that. We get too attached to things. We need to realize who we really are. And with that in mind, I will proceed with my story.
I was a music composition major when I was in college. I chose it because I had a strong sense of calling to be a writer. Actually, what I wanted was to be a movie producer – an interactive movie producer -but I had to take things one step at a time and wait for the technology to evolve. It was the music that reached the soul so I thought I would start there. I had a sense that I should write something that would change the world for the better – that media was capable of affecting people in positive ways. I wanted that to happen. It was a realization I had my junior year and it wasn’t a bad one. Prior to that I’d been in it for the wrong reasons. I was seeking admiration.
In the 1970’s the University of South Carolina music department placed much emphasis on the avant-garde. It was futuristic. Every music course pointed forward through history and asked what would come next. I wrote a paper at that time on a forthcoming digital age and purchased my first synthesizer in the hope of developing it. I was no prolific writer back then. I was new at the craft but I managed to work up a portfolio at that time, which included some symphonic works, string quartets, jazz combo pieces, madrigals, canons, some counterpoint for piano, background music for poetry readings, some polytonal polyrythmic stuff in honor of Charles Ives and a trombone trio sonata in the quartal style of Hindemith.
Some of these works, including the first movement of the last, were performed at Seminar and received quite nicely there and then on my final day of school, the final performance of my trio sonata was scheduled so that my parents, who were driving up from South Florida to take me home, could hear it.
I was excited about the future and the lessons I had learned. I had learned about John Cage – a man who used elements of chance in music, and Charles Ives, who saw music three dimensionally, and sought to portray reality by music as he walked through a park on the Fourth of July. They had taught me to look at the interaction of the world itself as part of the music. I had also studied Indian music and learned to see music as a message from God. I had learned to look around me and find music in everything and even to see everything as music. I had learned to appreciate and came to believe in God as a master orchestrator of all, making music out of chance, simplifying the complex in ways that united in a single epic story.
The night before the trio sonata I was on the verge of telling my parents about all of these things. I wanted them to be excited with me and feel my time at USC had been well spent.
But that wasn’t meant to be. In the juggle of packing my things, I had somehow lost my entire music portfolio. I frantically searched my apartment, doubling back through my suit cases and opening up trash bags. I darted over to my locker at the music building and even went to the stadium, where the jazz band rehearsed. Nothing. I then showed up to the performance and the other two players failed to come. There sat waiting my parents and my music teacher.
College students. Finals week. Who would have expected them to show up to something they got no credit for? I should have known better – and they had their parts with them. They had taken them with them to practice. My parents were convinced that no trio sonata had ever been written and that I was lying to them. Fortunately, my composition teacher came and assured them he had seen it with his own eyes. He passed me, knowing I had done the work, but the thirteen hour drive back home was an uncomfortable one and I had no portfolio to build on. Suddenly my future looked very bleak. I took a job at a Savings and Loan.
I have no regrets about my lost portfolio. There was one thing I understood. That event was merely the opening movement of a larger orchestration piece. I stopped to hear the sound of it. I was enjoying how the story, told polysymphonically in the form of all events, was unfolding. I respected the writer. I was drawn to a masterpiece in the making. It was as if the music, as if a song, was just starting with my journey back to South Florida with my father and mom.
My academic career didn’t end there but I will point out here that each new chapter of my life has begun with a sort of tragic ending involving loss. In the music business we are taught to observe and analyze form. We know that the ending of a piece by Beethoven is going to have a significant build up. The end is not really the end just yet. It gets better and when it is complete it leaves the listener fully satisfied. It’s like great sex that way, with climax upon climax in one final long and wonderful climax.
That’s how I’d like my life to be. I’d like it to end with perfect satisfaction. I believe the orchestrator of all things has that planned. I’ve seen the patterns the way I see the themes and motifs of Beethoven finales long before their recapitulation. A good ending is set up from the beginning. Destruction and loss are little more than doorways to new chapters in the book of life.
I’ll tell you about the pursuit of my Master’s Degree on another page. That also involved gainful loss and that will be a theme here. I told you about the salmon and the ant on page five. It is a story of loss and rebuilding. All of this will lead up to Chapter Eight of the Restoration Party Manifesto. Our country is about to suffer very great loss.
That is sad but I am not a sad man nor do I glory in anyone’s loss. Never in my life have I ever desired loss and I do not desire it for this country. That is why I have been doing everything I know how to persuade others to implement Solution A, as outlined in Chapter Two of the Manifesto, as also the subsequent chapters I am presently working on. I am not a passive aggressive type who would sabotage himself just to live out some sense of unworthiness and neither do I want that for America.
No, I believe my losses have been a part of the orchestrator’s curriculum. They are there to teach me to teach others that we can rebuild and that when we do rebuild we can build even better than we were first building. There is a storm coming and we are about to experience very great loss. I have referred to it as an apocalypse. It is that bad. I am going to write some songs and in them I will spell out the path to reconstruction. We will be without electricity and government, but maybe enough of us will remember the songs, that these little curricular interests of mine will be shared. We will rebuild. We will get through this. God willing, I will provide a road map to restoration and we will follow it.
My Internet library burned down two weeks ago and I didn’t even know it until this morning. I’ve been compiling it since Google Chrome was invented. I didn’t realize until this morning that I deleted all the bookmarks I’ve ever been compiling on Chrome.
That means basically, all my research references are gone for any endeavor I’ve had since about 2006. A search to retrieve Chrome bookmarks shows me the best there is is an undo workaround for a single browser session … http://www.howtogeek.com/111784/how-to-recover-accidentally-deleted-bookmarks-in-chrome-firefox/ .
As as heads up, the way this occurred is that I was logged in as my wife (I thought) when trying to set up her computer. She complained that she didn’t need all those bookmarks. Thinking that since I was logged in as her and that Google had just duplicated my bookmarks when it created her account, I started deleting all the stuff that was mine that she wouldn’t care about. Basically, I had it all in one folder that was hierarchical and there were a few other top priority bookmarks. Deleting these made room on her book marks bar. It also erased about 5000 hours of my work. I have discovered this morning that it is not retrievable.
That was today. So now let me bring you a few days backwards in my life. And while I’m at it, I’ll cover a few decades. My patience is tested more than others with problems like these, as if I was an ant constantly rebuilding while some cruel and curious giant onlooker thwarted my every effort. I could get bitter but what use is that?
Currently, I have a car that has been in the shop for two weeks because of an air conditioner problem. Actually two shops. I brought it into the first shop, they vacuumed and charged it with freon and gave it back for free. That was nice. Then I started using it over the weekend and the a/c went out again after the car heated after about eight rides despite the fresh charge.
So I brought it back to the shop and they tested it and it turned out to be a leak in the compressor. Kia compressors cost more than $1000, so the warranty company had to send out an inspector to verify the leak. The inspector was a jerk and started cussing loudly in front of the children in the shop. The warranty company had already delayed everything by not returning phone calls so the a/c company told me they refused to work with the warranty company ever again. He said this was the first time that had ever happened in his business in forty years.
So after five days testing until the problem duplicated so that the first shop could locate the leak and then another five days waiting for the appointment with the inspector that the warranty company required, the problem was still not fixed.
I then took it to the Kia dealer, explained the history of the problem, and they have up until now still not been able to duplicate the problem. Fifteen days without my car have now passed and they are charging me extra for diagnostic fees. I have no idea whether they will get the problem to duplicate in front of an inspector. Odds are low since it takes them many trials just to get it to duplicate for themselves.
This is, of course, the third major problem I’ve had with this used Kia since I bought it April 30th. I had to replace the shocks six days after I bought it and I had to replace the fuel pump assembly a month later because of a fuel reserve leak that required me to replace the fuel pump and all of its related parts. The warranty covered the fuel pump as it is listed but the warranty company refused to honor the warranty because it was not the pump itself that was damaged.
The correspondence and dispute with the warranty company caused the car to be in the shop a week at that time. The total had already come to nine days shop time between that and the shocks incident. Adding this current two weeks, my car has been in the shop almost a month since I bought it a little over two months ago. I have no idea how long it will be to resolve the current situation with the a/c or how expensive this will be.
But that’s just the car. There’s also the people. Many of my friends know that my wife, who never smoked or drank and stayed physically fit, had a stroke when she was 38, leaving her partially paralyzed for life and chronically unemployed. Others know about my sister and her stroke and that she is the reason we moved to Tallahassee as her husband abandoned her in a nursing home. Not so many people know about my sons. Not every story gets told. I’ll simply summarize by saying something every parent knows – much patience is required, much time, much expense.
The lost bookmarks are not the only data I’ve lost. I’m used to this kind of very great loss and this is far from the first time I’ve had to rebuild. This is not something most people can relate to since most people don’t work during all of their “spare time.” It is not a hobby for me. It is a recognition of my career. Hence the analogy of the ant.
Then there are lost friends. Three of my wife’s four bridesmaids no longer talk to her. The reason is that they don’t like me. They don’t like me because I refuse to quit. They believe I should have a normal job and be like a normal person and think more like they do. They won’t talk to her because they want her to leave me or me to change or something like that, as if I could. Her half sister did the same. It is very lonely being the wife of a relentless entrepreneur. People are controlling that way but for her it is a very great loss. And for me it is a very great source of sadness thinking that my wife has lost so many of her very best friends on account of me. I have to comfort her when she cries.
In my life, I’ve had computers break down on me at times when I could not afford back ups and back ups I’ve paid for that failed when I attempted to restore them. The bottom line is the loss of the majority of the work I’ve done in my life. I toted around jazz drives, Syquest drives, floppy sequential back ups, and five large computers for years, carrying them to at least seven places we moved to in the hope of restoring the data. I took it all to a computer repair shop about ten months ago to see what I could retrieve. I had managed to save some of that data onto an external Seagate drive that I had collected back ups to. At last I had the hope of having all my remaining data on one drive. I asked to have the retrieved data be added to the other data I had already saved, but they made a mistake and wrote over the other data. This made me lose all my recent data. And the previous data was too corrupt they said to copy. It left me with very little.
Other data losses were due to deliberate sabotage. It’s easy to sabotage people when they are low on cash and can’t afford proper redundancy. At the turn of the Millennium I had started a business from my home. I invented something that was in high enough demand to launch itself to the 105th most visited web site in the world at that time without having to pay for advertising. Lisa and I watched the WebTrends Analystics with amazement together. My service provider informed me I would need to pay for a server farm to handle the accelerating capacity. I lacked the cash for that for the rapid site development I needed and, as if to kick me down a little further, it was at that same time that my developers accepted a contract from Jeb Bush for MyFlorida.com and ceased all private sector work.
I had to hire new developers very quickly at the same time that I needed the new servers but on a shoe-string budget. First I accepted a bid from a group from India. They were nice but they were incapable. Time was ticking. A month later I accepted a bid from a group from New York that was also doing the work for SesameStreet.com. They agreed to work for $10,000 and 5% equity. I gave them access to the site. What they didn’t tell me was Sesame Street had backed out on them. When that happened, they became cash short like me, so before they went bankrupt they started outsourcing their work.
They hired some developers from Russia and as their company continued to fail, they wound up not paying their Russian developers. They gave access to the Russians to my server through a piece of code called a “back door.” When the Russians didn’t get paid, they got angry and systematically imploded all eight of the cartridge back ups and destroyed my entire business from within and left me a calling card, “Russian Hacker”, among the files in the data that remained. The 30,000 members in my database were then held up as hostage, as they proceeded to send an email saying they could restore my data if I paid them. The business had already been destroyed by then. I had already sold my car to pay the developers. It was all I had.
The loss of my data now makes all of this impossible for me to prove. Only my wife remains as a witness to what has happened in my life. Only my own soul survives as I look to rebuild.
There are also some print outs of the books I wrote. I still have those. I hate print. I believe in going green. Ink is ridiculously expensive and hard contracts take up space in my office. Lisa can’t file with one hand but she tries anyway. The drawers fall to the floor. At least fifteen printers have broken through the years. The books that are printed aren’t the ones I was trying to retrieve.
Somehow these great losses are symbolic of how my brain works. When I talk with people, I don’t use my memory. I use my soul. It is my soul that remembers. This is why I rarely express the same thing the same way twice. It’s why I don’t memorize speeches. I have to recompose everything that I say and think on a continual basis. My data centers work differently than those of other people.
It’s okay that the data is gone. It’s okay that I’ve lost my bookmarks. Life is short and we get sick and we die. There is nothing we can take with us. But our souls. These are very rich. Salmon don’t need maps. They are drawn by something deeper than memories. They are like ants that way. They just move upstream undaunted until a job written deep within them is done. It’s all they are wired to do.