A Rant On Financial Obesity and an Ironic Disclosure

This is an email I posted to the Project Virgle email list. Project Virgle was an April Fool's joke by Google and Virgin, which many did not see as that funny. You can see the email in its original context here, from April 2008:
"A rant on financial obesity and Project Virgle & an ironic disclosure :-)"

The first comment by someone (a then high school student) was:

I agree with everything but one point, a minor use of diction, I would replace "rant" in the title with "the most insightful, applicable, and hopefully influential, essay written in history."

I replied that:

One of the most interesting things about over-the-top flattery is that it works best on people who think they are too smart to fall for it. :-)

The ironic disclosure also relates to my comments on slashdot (made a couple years later in August 2010):
"The need for open source sensemaking tools (Score:5, Interesting)"

For busy executives, the summary from the end: :-)

So what am I really saying?

That we as a society are not going to happily get to Mars or the Asteroids or other star systems, or even just fix up Space Ship Earth, until we come to see the love of money as the problem, not the solution.

Or as made clear by Iain M. Banks:
"Money is a sign of poverty, meaning that money only has a function in a scarcity economy, and therefore its existence betrays a pre-abundant (poor) society."

And so financial obesity is part of the problem, not the solution.

Do with that insight what you can, even if only in jest next April 1st. :-)

--Paul Fernhout

A rant on financial obesity and Project Virgle & an ironic disclosure :-)

Now, (April 21st) for those few out there still paying attention, is where IMHO the original April 1st joke really starts to get weird. Or should I say
"Wired"? :-)

First, please make sure you are sitting comfortably and have no beverages in your mouth you could choke on in case of either laughter or outrage. :-)

In the interests of up-front disclosure, sooner or later someone savvy in social networks will figure out an indirect link between my family and, say, a project like this:
    "Son of TIA: Pentagon Surveillance System Is Reborn in Asia"
    "Un-wired" (a defense of that system and rebuttal of the article)
        http://www.cognitive-edge.com/2007/03/unwired.php [now: http://www.cognitive-edge.com/blogs/dave/2007/03/unwired.php ]
    "Welcome to RAHS: Risk Assessment & Horizon Scanning"
    "Video overview"

I know that disclosure may look bad to some. :-(

Or the height of sublime ironic humor to others. :-)

I did warn you to have no beverages in your mouth you could choke on. :-)

BTW, if you hadn't already figured out that link, maybe you need better social network analysis software? :-) And no, don't ask me, I'm too busy on OpenVirgle/OSCOMAK, and I don't write that kind of stuff anyway. :-)

And to think Byte rejected a write up of a simulation of self-replicating robots I wrote in the 1980s on a Symbolics despite saying it was the most interesting and fascinating thing they had seen in a long time but wasn't PC-oriented and business-oriented enough for their new (downward :-) direction. (I think Marshall Brain may have been at a talk I gave on that simulation at NCSU. :-)
And now the irony to see this other image actually in print in a comparable magazine discussed in a highly critical tone :-( That image was done, by the way, using this free and open source unrelated third-party non-infringing OpenGL-compatible Java graphics library:
    "jGL 3D Graphics Library for Java"
Used already in OpenVirgle here: :-)

If it helps restore a little trust, I can say that my wife and I sincerely believe that bureaucrats learning to see things from multiple perspectives will ultimately be a good thing. A system like that might even have helped US intelligence analysts communicate better to the appointed commander-in-chief and so avoid wasting trillions of dollars and tens of thousands of lives for a "preventive" war of choice in Iraq (or soon perhaps Iran :-( ). And the parts we had anything to do with are also now used to do things like help provide better care to cancer patients and to better manage forests. And the larger general ideas there in that video could also be applied to designing aspects of space settlements as well (substitute
"designer" for "analyst" in that video. :-)

One new word I learned at IBM Research: "co-opetition". :-)

But, is that also another word for dirty hands or hard ethical choices? :-(

Also, in partial defense, we did try NASA first a decade ago (like with the original idea for OSCOMAK).
But they were too busy running a shuttle to nowhere. :-( On a tiny budget (relatively speaking). :-( And I'm not a very good salesperson. :-(

Everybody did get fair warning though, see: :-)
"Har Har! I've never been called a "space pirate" before, but Isaac Asimov did once call me a "rotten kid". :-)"

Just remember this when I refuse to confirm or deny anything: :-)
        "We go back a long way, Lando and me."
        "Can you trust him?"
        "No. But he has no love for the Empire, I can tell you that."
        -- Han Solo and Leia Organa

Prussian-derived "Empire" starved and gassed relatives to death in Holland, and made my mother as a teenager suffer other horrors that some might feel worse than death, in part from her ancestry. :-( I think *she* perhaps did feel that way about those horrors, and so moved to the USA after WWII to try to escape that horrendous past. But as my well traveled (Merchant Marine) father said, "Wherever you go, you take yourself along." In the abundant USA. my mother spent decades hording food and becoming obese (she had an old relative literally die of starvation in her household, although he was very sick and weak already when he arrived at her home I heard).

The result of living through extreme scarcity is often hording and obesity. I don't want to see that happen again on Mars -- or on Earth. :-(

Why should I love Empire and killing and starving people for a cause whether it is called "Deutschland", "America", "Profit", "Babylon", "Virgle",
"Capitalism", or even "Zion"? :-(
Though I certainly have no love for terrorists either, who are mostly just the flip side of the same coin with "empire" on the other face IMHO. :-( Same with killing and destroying for any "ism":
And as my mother told me, for every German soldier killed in Rotterdam, ten townspeople would be grabbed at random and lined up and shot as collective punishment:
So killing doesn't work anyhow (at least, when you are not Emperor). German culture has progressed far beyond that now, I am glad to see. Maybe the USA could learn something from them now, or from others:
People change and systems change all the time, often with unexpected quickness:
  "The Optimism of Uncertainty"
Still, when all you have is a military, every problem looks like a war:
Alternative (at least as a first step):
So will we soon see the "War on getting to Mars"? :-(

BTW, Singapore is an interesting place to learn about if you think about that city-state as a prototype of the world's first space settlement. :-)
Although one can also imagine many alternative future forms of space settlement governance than "Disneyland with the Death Penalty": :-(

There, now, including my previous posts, I probably have everyone across the political spectrum pissed at me. :-) And a few laughing, I hope, though hopefully not to the point of pissing in their pants over the irony. :-) Who have I not touched on in my monologues? Google-ites. Foundation managers. "Terrorists". The imperial/government/school/military/corporation complex that spawns them all. :-( Both Zionists and Neo-Nazis. Even the
*real* sea pirates in the Straits. :-( As well as likely those other
alienated youth caught in the middle of all that worldwide mess who feel betrayed looking for easy answers or simple characters:

"The reason our [British] children's lives are the worst among economically advanced countries is because we are a poor version of the USA," he said.
"So the USA comes second from bottom and we follow behind. The age of neo-liberalism, even with the human face that New Labour has given it, cannot stem the tide of the social recession capitalism creates."

Rhetorically, I wonder what *they* all have in common? :-)

Hint: Empire (and profit) or its blowback. :-)

And Empire is, IMHO, a big part of the reason we can't seem to find the resources
either for a decent civilian space program or cleaning up Spaceship Earth
which we are all already on board (and then making the world game play out well for all the passengers).

And it seems if you oppose *both* Empire and the terrorists it spawns:
    "Obama Identifies Iraqi 'Blowback'"
that doesn't leave many friendly faces, or does it? :-)
    "Wright's "Blowback""
"It seems the Rev. Wright is being asked to head to the back of some Straight-Talking Express bus. Quiet, boy, only distinguished white professors are permitted, with impunity, to gussy up the patently obvious in books that the great unwashed will never read, nor should they. That might crimp our imperial style."

It would be such a farce if people on all sides weren't dying. :-( Or becoming physical and emotional and genetic casualties:
Or becoming refugees:

Iraqi refugees throughout the region have become increasingly desperate. Despite a decline in violence in the second half of 2007, only a small number have gone home, often because their resources are exhausted. Of those who returned to Iraq, many found their property occupied and suffered secondary displacement. UNHCR estimates more than 4.7 million Iraqis have left their homes, many in dire need of humanitarian care. Of these, more than 2.7 million Iraqis are displaced internally, while more than 2 million have fled to neighbouring states, particularly Syria and Jordan. Many were displaced prior to 2003, but the largest number has fled since. In 2006, Iraqis became the leading nationality seeking asylum in Europe.

Essentially, by focusing on "profit" (and so Empire to defend that profit and related "ownership" and "equity") this is the kind of deadly farce of the bubble of Empire that Google and Virgin are (in jest) proposing bringing to Mars. It's just the "unsaid" part of the prayer/joke:
    "The War Prayer" by Mark Twain

... You heard the words 'Grant us the [profits on Mars], O Lord our God!' That is sufficient. The whole of the uttered prayer is compact into those pregnant words. Elaborations were not necessary. When you have prayed for [profits on Mars] you have prayed for many unmentioned results which follow [profits on Mars] -- must follow it, cannot help but follow it. Upon the listening spirit of God fell also the unspoken part of the prayer. He commandeth me to put it into words. Listen! ... [Help] us to turn [those who cannot pay their air fees or water fees or patent fees or copyright fees] out roofless with their little children to wander unfriended in the wastes of [Mars] in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames in summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it -- For our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimmage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white [CO2] snow with the blood of their wounded feet [so that others will see that suffering and so work harder for profits on Mars to avoid the same for their families]! We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen. ...

But Google-ites apparently can't see beyond profit even in jest. Or can they? I can hope this jest was just a nervous laugh by Google at itself. But with the Virgin involvement, somehow I doubt that. :-( I'll be glad to be proven wrong. And I also thought that way myself years ago:
So people can change. Even me. :-)


There is nothing more difficult to carry out, nor more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to handle, than to initiate a new order of things. For the reformer has enemies in all who profit by the old order. This luke-warmness arises partly from fear of their adversaries, who have the law in their favor; and partly from the incredulity of mankind, who do not truly believe in anything new until they have had actual experience of it." -- Machiavelli "The Prince"

Caught in the middle of all this mess, you can hopefully see why I keep requoting Manuel De Landa as my conceptual shield. :-( Or perhaps security blanket? :-)

To make things worse, the solution to this is not simply to begin adding meshwork components to the mix. Indeed, one must resist the temptation to make hierarchies into villains and meshworks into heroes, not only because, as I said, they are constantly turning into one another, but because in real life we find only mixtures and hybrids, and the properties of these cannot be established through theory alone but demand concrete experimentation. Certain standardizations, say, of electric outlet designs or of data-structures traveling through the Internet, may actually turn out to promote heterogenization at another level, in terms of the appliances that may be designed around the standard outlet, or of the services that a common data-structure may make possible. On the other hand, the mere presence of increased heterogeneity is no guarantee that a better state for society has been achieved. After all, the territory occupied by former Yugoslavia is more heterogeneous now than it was ten years ago, but the lack of uniformity at one level simply hides an increase of homogeneity at the level of the warring ethnic communities. But even if we managed to promote not only heterogeneity, but diversity articulated into a meshwork, that still would not be a perfect solution. After all, meshworks grow by drift and they may drift to places where we do not want to go. The goal-directedness of hierarchies is the kind of property that we may desire to keep at least for certain institutions. Hence, demonizing centralization and glorifying decentralization as the solution to all our problems would be wrong. An open and experimental attitude towards the question of different hybrids and mixtures is what the complexity of reality itself seems to call for. To paraphrase Deleuze and Guattari, never believe that a meshwork will suffice to save us.

Although DMCA is also a bit of a safe harbor for service providers, like for OSCOMAK-like systems: :-)

Or as I wrote elsewhere in my own words:

... I agree with the sentiment of the Einstein quote [That we should approach the universe with compassion], but that sentiment itself is only part of a larger difficult-to-easily-resolve situation. It become more the Yin/Yang or Meshwork/Hierarchy situation I see when I look out my home office window into a forest. On the surface it is a lovely scene of trees as part of a forest. Still, I try to see *both* the peaceful majesty of the trees and how these large trees are brutally shading out of existence saplings which are would-be competitors (even shading out their own children). Yet, even as big trees shade out some of their own children, they also put massive resources into creating a next generation, one of which will indeed likely someday replace them when they fall. I try to remember there is both an unseen silent chemical war going on out there where plants produce defense compounds they secrete in the soil to inhibit the growth of other plant species (or insects or fungi) as a vile act of territoriality and often expansionism, and yet also the result is a good spacing of biomass to near optimally convert sunlight to living matter and resist and recover from wind and ice damage. I try to recall that there is the most brutal of competition between species of plants and animals and fungi and so on over water, nutrients (including from eating other creatures), sunlight, and space, while at the same time each bacterial colony or multicellular organism (like a large Pine tree) is a marvel of cooperation towards some implicitly shared purpose. I see the awesome result of both simplicity and complexity in the organizational structure of all these organisms and their DNA, RNA, and so on, adapted so well in most cases to the current state of such a complex web of being. Yet I can only guess the tiniest fraction of what suffering that selective shaping through variation and selection must have entailed for untold numbers of creatures over billions of years. To be truthful, I can actually *really* see none of that right now as it is dark outside this early near Winter Solstice time (and an icy rain is falling) beyond perhaps a silhouette outline, so I must remember and imagine it, perhaps as Einstein suggests as an "optical delusion of [my] consciousness". :-)

So much for "world peace" when even the tranquil seeming forests have so much Yin-Yang complexity going on within and around the trees. :-) The best I feel we can hope for is balance (like Ursula K. Le Guin's writings):
or maybe, transcendence to some form of universe certainly way beyond our present understanding; example, with its own flaws:
But still, no matter what examples the universes sets before us, or in what proportion, as *ethical* and *spiritual* beings, we humans can choose a different way, and at least approximate world peace among ourselves as best we can. Something I learned from an old and wise biologist (Larry Slobodkin) who studied both philosophy and nature.

What a dangerous game life is, especially living in "interesting times". :-(
The good news is, no one will get out of this infinite game alive anyway, so we might as well have some fun with it 'till then. :-)

See why the USA has to spend about $600 billion a year on K-12 and college education (instead of, say, the space program):
to keep the US American people "disciplined" and not playful:
and then "busy" afterwards (including with a military budget 50X NASA's):

Let's pretend for a moment that work doesn't turn people into stultified submissives. Let's pretend, in defiance of any plausible psychology and the ideology of its boosters, that it has no effect on the formation of character. And let's pretend that work isn't as boring and tiring and humiliating as we all know it really is. Even then, work would still make a mockery of all humanistic and democratic aspirations, just because it usurps so much of our time. Socrates said that manual [or intellectual :-)] laborers make bad friends and bad citizens because they have no time to fulfill the responsibilities of friendship and citizenship. He was right. Because of work, no matter what we do, we keep looking at our watches.

That $600 billion a year is spent essentially from fear of the human potential. From fear of "OpenVirgle". From *fear* the kids might actually figure out how to go to Mars instead of being profligate consumers and obedient cannon fodder soldiers. :-( That fear is still the fundamental basis of the two biggest institutions almost all of us spend almost all of our time (school and work). And so *fear* is what keeps more people from doing space settlement given how interesting it is and how much prosperity our mostly automated productive systems can pump out -- whether those free people work on OpenVirgle or choose another approach or another related good cause (Earthly sustainability).
And it is likely fear that holds Google back from becoming a post-scarcity organization despite the continuing rush of exponential growth in technological capacity its planners surely must be predicting:

Now some fears are good to have. But some are not.

And one of the few antidotes to fear is ... humor. :-)
And I'm glad to see Google-ites still have some, even given the insanely long hours at Google (which frankly are illegal in other parts of the world. :-)

But is humor enough? From:

Ordinary people send their children to school to get smart, but what modern schooling teaches is dumbness. It's a religious idea gone out of control. You don't have to accept that, though, to realize this kind of economy would be jeopardized by too many smart people who understand too much. I won't ask you to take that on faith. Be patient. I'll let a famous American publisher explain to you the secret of our global financial success in just a little while. ...

But maybe things are different for middle- and upper-middle-class kids? Or in private schools?

Again from Gatto:

Jacques Ellul, whose book Propaganda is a reflection on the phenomenon, warned us that prosperous children are more susceptible than others to the effects of schooling because they are promised more lifelong comfort and security for yielding wholly: "Critical judgment disappears altogether, for in no way can there ever be collective critical judgment....The individual can no longer judge for himself because he inescapably relates his thoughts to the entire complex of values and prejudices established by propaganda. With regard to political situations, he is given ready-made value judgments invested with the power of the truth by...the word of experts." The new dumbness is particularly deadly to middle- and upper-middle-class kids already made shallow by multiple pressures to conform imposed by the outside world on their usually lightly rooted parents. When they come of age, they are certain they must know something because their degrees and licenses say they do. They remain so convinced until an unexpectedly brutal divorce, a corporate downsizing in midlife, or panic attacks of meaninglessness upset the precarious balance of their incomplete humanity, their stillborn adult lives. Alan Bullock, the English historian, said Evil was a state of incompetence. If true, our school adventure has filled the twentieth century with evil. Ellul puts it this way: "The individual has no chance to exercise his judgment either on principal questions or on their implication; this leads to the atrophy of a faculty not comfortably exercised under [the best of] conditions...Once personal judgment and critical faculties have disappeared or have atrophied, they will not simply reappear when propaganda is suppressed...years of intellectual and spiritual education would be needed to restore such faculties. The propagandee, if deprived of one propaganda, will immediately adopt another, this will spare him the agony of finding himself vis a vis some event without a ready-made opinion."

So, the few in the world with money generally are so *seriously* :-) caught up in keeping it all or becoming even *more* pathologically financially obese, that they can't help the world transition to a post-scarcity (and humorous :-) economy either.

Look at Project Virgle and "An Open Source Planet":
Even just in jest some of the most financially obese people on the planet (who have built their company with thousands of servers all running GNU/Linux free software) apparently could not see any other possibility but seriously becoming even more financially obese off the free work of others on another planet (as well as saddling others with financial obesity too :-). And that jest came almost half a *century* after the "Triple Revolution" letter of 1964 about the growing disconnect between effort and productivity (or work and financial fitness):
Even not having completed their PhDs, the top Google-ites may well take many more *decades* to shake off that ideological discipline. I know it took me decades (and I am still only part way there. :-) As with my mother, no doubt Googlers have lived through periods of scarcity of money relative to their needs to survive or be independent scholars or effective agents of change. Is it any wonder they probably think being financially obese is a *good* thing, not an indication of either personal or societal pathology? :-(

Think of what even just a million independent minds could do for the world
if, like Rachel Corrie, they all had her courage and if they were also not too worried about future employment (my advantage as a stay-at-home Dad. :-)

And, yes, like Rachel, sadly, some of them will die for their beliefs.
"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants." -- Thomas Jefferson

But again, like Rachel, even if sadly some might *die* for their beliefs, hopefully none would ever *kill* for their beliefs. There is a huge difference. Imagine, if. say, a million unarmed average US Americans had walked into Afghanistan or Iraq or Saudi Arabia (where most of the hijackers were from) after 9/11 bearing gifts and helpful skills for the average people of those places *instead* of a million armed soldiers bringing shock and awe. And kept giving even if 10% of them were brutally killed. What that would have *proved* about the wrongness of terrorism and 9/11 and the deepness of the generous US American character which helped end the "hunger winter" and earned the Dutch people's gratitude. So maybe this sounds impossible. But at least it is the kind of thing we can think about -- what if it was possible? Say, for North Korea? What if?

The fact is, there are far more than six *million* millionaire families in the USA who would never have to "work" another day in their lives if they were frugal (and so could work full time on space settlement or other worthwhile charitable free ends).
There must just be a failure of imagination that keeps them from it. Or an excess of a certain capitalist religion shown on a libertarian-leaning college mailing list I am on (and usually disagreeing :-). Or a failure to be able to define "enough" and move beyond a fear of becoming poor. And the millionaires I've known or heard of who became suddenly wealthy generally are suddenly adrift in a life that has not prepared them for thinking about deep questions like what their values and priorities really are and why -- and working through that takes time which they often don't have as money runs away from them spent on trivialities of "their stillborn adult lives". And the stable millionaires who have slowly earned their wealth are often so enmeshed in the current order of things to make it hard to see beyond it (a current order which they may well have genuinely and sincerely tried to make better, like at Google, and even succeeded at doing so to an extent, within the bounds of Empire.)

And no, I am not a millionaire. I'm just a somewhat frugal guy
with a little imagination and a hard working spouse (who is probably much smarter and more imaginative than me in many ways. :-)
That's one reason we are stuck with so many hard choices day-to-day, like whether to purchase health insurance or not, or develop intelligence systems or not. :-(

Fortunately we don't have the worse choices of many US Americans these days of whether to starve or freeze. :-(
    "Feeds more than 25 million hungry Americans each year"

It is tragic and alarming that more and more people are relying on emergency food assistance in the United States, where we produce enough food to feed every hungry person in the world," said Robert Forney, President and CEO of the America's Second Harvest Network.

And the final solution for that still seems a ways off, giving us a short time still to act and play with better scenarios than this:

Ultimately, you would expect that there would be riots across America. But the people could not riot. The terrorist scares at the beginning of the century had caused a number of important changes. By 2030, there were video security cameras and microphones covering and recording nearly every square inch of public space in America. There were taps on all phone conversations and Internet messages sniffing for terrorist clues. If anyone thought about starting a protest rally or a riot, or discussed any form of civil disobedience with anyone else, he was branded a terrorist and preemptively put in jail. Combine that with robotic security forces, and riots are impossible. ... Because no one had a window, they could really pack people into these buildings. Each terrafoam dorm building had a four-acre foot print. It was a perfect 417 foot by 417 foot by 417 foot solid brown cube. Each cube originally held exactly 76,800 people. Doubling this to 153,600 people in each building was unthinkable, but they were doing it anyway. On the other hand, you had to marvel at the efficiency. At that density, they could house every welfare recipient in the entire country in less than 1,500 of these buildings. By spacing the buildings 100 feet apart, they could house 200,000,000 people in a space of less than 20 square miles if they had wanted to. At that density, they could put everyone in the country without a job into a space less than five miles square in size, put a fence around it and forget about us. If they accidentally dropped a nuclear bomb or two on us, we would all be gone and they wouldn't have to worry about us anymore.

Also, more important than implementations I or others may do (or fail to do from lack of focus or time) are the *ideas* behind them. And the *ethics* behind them. And the April 1st Project Virgle announcement has made it possible for me to get these ideas out there as one more voice in the chorus, by giving me a drop more of creative energy. :-) Even if, as with Lando Calrissian, the ethical decisions of living in the middle of Empire-enforced scarcity (25 million hungry Americans?) can often be quite complex. :-( Like we just sent a check to the US Empire for enough money to have paid someone to work on Project Virgle full time for a year (well, maybe in India :-), when I know much of it will instead pay for the US Military (and bullets and cluster bombs and land mines) instead.
To be clear, I'd happily pay more in taxes if like in much of Europe everyone else did and the money was well spent.

See also: :-)
"Spock gets an idea and decides to dump and ignite all the remaining fuel from the [shuttlecraft's] engines [rather than maintain orbit as long as possible which would result in sure doom to follow for everyone in his care in an hour]. This produces a giant flare that is easily spotted by the Enterprise sensors. Once again, Kirk turns the ship around and transports the survivors out just moments before the shuttle is destroyed on re-entry."

Maybe the millionaires and billionaires and trillionaires (governments) out there should think on Spock's choice as capitalistic and militaristic irrational exuberance starts reentering the stratosphere (wars over food, water, arms, climate, and oil profits, and yes, blowback from terrorism).
And actually do something besides compete and make jokes:
"No Contest, which has been stirring up controversy since its publication in 1986, stands as the definitive critique of competition. Drawing from hundreds of studies, Alfie Kohn eloquently argues that our struggle to defeat each other -- at work, at school, at play, and at home -- turns all of us into losers."

But given what Gatto and Ellul say, that action may be a long time coming because the wealthy get so much emotional reward out of believing the propaganda of elites deserving abundance amidst scarcity for the many and spreading that propaganda further (even via Virgle).
    "The Mythology of Wealth"

The cheap-labor conservative "minimalist government" social Darwinian world view is just plain bullshit. It builds a new class structure, which just like the ancient class structures, is based on a set of mythological concepts. In fact, those mythological concepts like "property rights",
"contract rights", "corporations", "stocks", "bonds", and even "money"
itself are socially created to regulate distribution and access to resources. The "market place" is a human creation. The details of how it operates are determined by the particulars of the institutions on which it is built. It is "instituted among men", and if its workings become destructive of the lives, liberty and pursuit of happiness of people subject to it, it may be "altered or abolished".

For example, Google contractors get no Segways and massages?
Or second class badges?

I used to work at Google as a Contractor. Let me tell you, it wasn't the greatest place for a contractor. First, you have red badges, so anyone with a Google badge looks down on you. Already you feel left out, and you don't feel like enjoying all the benefits Googler's have. ... I don't miss working there. The people arn't really all that friendly, people have arrogance and MBA, PHD attitudes.

And ultimately, aren't even the people in sweatshops in, say, China who build component used in Google servers in some sense Google contractors? Definitely no Segways or massages for them. :-(

Well over 150 million migrant workers from rural areas have crowded into the cities over the past decade in search of economic survival. They may regularly not get paid for months at a time. Public healthcare across the economy is declining to the point where many millions of working families cannot afford to seek medical care or risk huge debt if they do. Migrant workers are at especial risk. Large numbers of workers in the toy industry have now lost their jobs directly as a result of the Mattel recall, and its fallout continues. They are the direct victims of their local bosses' abuses and the lack of safety control. But of course they and their stories and suffering, literally inscribed in the toys they make, remain invisible.

So what is Google Headquarters in Mountain View, California but a little temporary space habitat bubble of happiness for regular employees, but floating on a sea of relative misery for everyone else planetwide who supports it? Can't we as a society or Google/Virgle as an aspiration do better that that? And even within that bubble are emerging issues. How long can a company expect to run on twenty-somethings without kids?

Google-ites and other financially obese people IMHO need to take a good look at the junk food capitalist propaganda they are eating and serving up to others, as in saying (even in jest):
"we should profit from others' use of our innovations, and we should buy or lease others' intellectual property whenever it advances our own goals"
-- even while running one of the biggest post-scarcity enterprises on Earth based on free-as-in-freedom software. :-(

Until then, it is up to us other
"semi-evil ... quasi-evil ... not evil enough" hobbyists with smaller budgets to save the Asteroids and the Planets (including Earth)
from financially obese people and their unexamined evil plans to spread profit-driven scarcity-creating Empire throughout every nook-and-cranny of the universe. :-(

The Emperor: Young fool... Only now, at the end, do you understand... [the power of love of money :-(]

Actually, in Google's defense, as far as most newly wealthy, key Google people have done far, far better than most by tithing 10% of the Google IPO to charitable causes:
But they remain financially obese. Michael Phillips in _The Seven Laws of Money_ suggests
that from his experience on the board of the Point Foundation that it was almost impossible to give money away effectively. And I'd certainly agree the world may well be better served with the current leadership at Google (who are at least trying not to be "evil", even if that is impossible 100% in our society or in life in general) instead of if they sold out to another new Google leadership that might be 100% evil, especially given Google is rapidly becoming a de-facto world government in some ways.
    "Cory Doctorow's Fiction About An Evil Google"
So, their situation is not an easy one. And I may poke fun at them (as they poked fun at all of us on April 1st), but I would not bother if I did not in some sense also respect their accomplishments and their potential.

So what am I really saying?

That we as a society are not going to happily get to Mars or the Asteroids or other star systems, or even just fix up Space Ship Earth, until we come to see the love of money as the problem, not the solution.

Or as made clear by Iain M. Banks:
"Money is a sign of poverty, meaning that money only has a function in a scarcity economy, and therefore its existence betrays a pre-abundant (poor) society."

And so financial obesity is part of the problem, not the solution.

Do with that insight what you can, even if only in jest next April 1st. :-)

I'll say this about my mom: obese and chainsmoker that she was later in life, she was a real trooper to the end. I can respect her for that. And she had to live with far worse than three rich guys making fun at her dreams. Anyway, I'm getting bored and talked out with making political and social comments here (I can hear the cheers and applause :-), so on to more programming etc. on OpenVirgle and OSCOMAK.

--Paul Fernhout

Putting Ki-Aikido into practice throughout the Universe? :-)

[Note: on physical obesity: I'm overweight and working on it. :-)

[2010 update: I've lost about 40 lbs, which I credit mostly to a combination of treating vitamin D deficiency and following Dr. Fuhrman's Nutritarian eating (and fasting) advice.

Copyright (c) 2008, 2010 Paul D. Fernhout

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