Archive for Life

Railroad barons, Robber barons, and the Mafia…

Posted in Economics, Economy, Politics, Work, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 6, 2016 by urbannight

This started out as a Facebook comment that turned intoOld Monopoly a much longer post.  It is something I’ve kept meaning to write more about but for which I never get around to doing the in depth research.  Partly because I am not an economist or interested in economy.  I am interested in history and this is something I’ve been putting together in my head based on viewing of a number of documentaries and articles and books that were not specifically about the economy.  But the past decade or so has had me pulling these threads together into this concept that I think has a valid point.

In the fight to change minimum wage into people being able to earn a living wage if they work full time may be easier to understand if one understands that our modern economic system was developed by the same people who create the ‘trunk’ system of work compensation. Once upon a time, these people were called ‘Railroad Barons’. Not because their work on the railroads made them rich but because they way they made money made people think of the old ‘robber baron’s’ back in the Old Country. These were people with titles who took to robbing travelers and merchants crossing their lands in order to have an income.

Railroad Barons as a term came about because most of these people were in the business of building railroads.  But it included others that were not but practiced business in the same manner.  These were the people who came up with the idea of creating towns at their factories or operations and paying people in company script that had no value outside the company town. Then getting the families in debt to the company so they would never be able to leave their jobs and move away.

The government determined this was simply a way to try to legally enslave people and made company script illegal. Wages must be paid in legal tender.  The government seemed to be less concerned with the payment itself and more concerned with the fact that it limited mobility, trapping people.  They probably could have paid the employees anything so long as it would have been considered to have an equal, legal value, anywhere they wanted to take it so it could be used and spent in other places.  They could have been paid in pocket watches because they could be sold and traded for a relatively constant value.  Well, at least until the market got flooded with pocket watches.  But it gets the idea across.  These company scrip were bit of paper that held NO value once outside of the company town.

But in response to the Great Depression, these people changed the perception of their characters. They became known as captains of industry. They were praised for attempting to put some kind of organization and structure onto the economy. We called it capitalism and made a board game praising the concepts of making as much money possible off of others while trying to compensate them with the least amount possible without getting in trouble with the law.

Another reason that people don’t really realize that the Mafia came really close to taking control of the government back in the day is the reason that so many people were willing to work for the Mafia and to protect them. It wasn’t because they were family members. It wasn’t because these were people with natural criminal inclination. It was because, back at this time period, the Mafia in the U.S. took better care of its workers and their families than any other employer did. Older kids and young men took jobs doing stuff for the mob because the work was more likely to be steady, reliable, and better compensated and their families were looked after better than any other job in the cities they could have found, for the most part. Which may be a really sad thing to say.

Our entire economy was solidified and fine tuned by people so questionable that they made the Mafia look good. Think about it. This is the Free Trade Capitalism that so many people say is the best method of Economy.  It is a method that says anyone can get rich if they work hard enough.  This ignores the fact that unless there is an unlimited source of money, it is blatantly not true.  Given a finite source of wealth in the world, that means only so many people can get rich while most people never will, no matter how hard they work.  Free Trade Capitalism is best for funneling the most money into the fewest pockets.

I’m not saying that people should run out and become the exact opposite.  That isn’t any better.  What I’m saying is that our system isn’t all that and a bag of chips and the very roots of that system is why a living wage is anathema to what most people have been taught.

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What is going on….

Posted in Apartments, Entertainment, Gaming, Hobby, Movies and Theatre, Reviews, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 15, 2013 by urbannight

I have not been coming up with as many good ideas as last year.  Or, I do have a few, but when I have time to jot them down, I can’t remember them.

So I’ve posted less.

And it looks like I’m in for another move again.  Fairly soon too.  So I may end up having a moving process to talk about. 

Tonight is my gaming night, but tomorrow I’m going to start the ambitious task of whittling my stuff down my 25%.  It may be painful.  But I need to have less stuff.  I really do.

So, it will be slice of stuff for a bit. 

I do need to write about a rather bad movie I saw last week.  I was watching 1980’s comedies.  One movie with an all star cast was not funny at all.  It was sad.  Just sad. But more about that later.

100 or less: Making Calls

Posted in Apartments, Health, Life, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 26, 2013 by urbannight

TelephoneThe phone sits in mute accusation.  Staring at me, chiding me for calls unmade.  There are so many things to do.  It is still too early yet there is not enough time. 

I have to talk to the office about one bedroom units and low credit ratings.  Its too early.  How will they know for certain a unit will open up?  I have to save up anyway.

There is the doctor’s office as well.  When is the appointment with the specialist?  April something.  We have to plan a special diet for diabetes.  It took so long.  She was booked.

Shut up, phone.

Stringing Random Quotes into One Chain of Thought.

Posted in Entertainment, Life, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 13, 2013 by urbannight

sad-world-we-live-in My random thoughts and quotes are not completely random. They are random but taken from the quotes included on my tear-away calendar. I tossed them in a stack and when I started to flip through them, I saw a pattern or a story.

“Show me somebody who is always smiling, always cheerful, always optimistic, and I will show you somebody who hasn’t the faintest idea what the heck is really going on.” – Mike Royko

sad-world-we-live-in

I don’t know who Mike Royko is, but I think he has it right. If on is facing the world with open eyes, then one would have trouble being that happy when faced with the crappy place the world happens to be. Or maybe they just aren’t smart enough to see what is before them. Ernest Hemingway seems to think so… “Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know.”

There is an odd truth in this. The more I know the more disillusioned I am. The more I know the more I tend to hate humanity as a whole. The more I know the less hope I have for this planet. The more I know the less hope I have for my own future.

The more I know the more I think the planet needs to start over. People are inherently selfish, which is the true root of all evil.

Dostoevsky must have felt a certain amount of this because he said, “Pain and suffering are always inevitable for a large intelligence and a deep heart. The really great men must, I think, have great sadness on Earth.”

There is a reason I don’t read the Russians. Too depressing.

The Russians seem to really relate to depressing things. A Russian Proverb is “If you wake up and you’re not in pain, you know you’re dead.” You can say the same thing in three words. Life is Pain.

This concept seems to fly right over the head of Paris Hilton who seems to think that “Everything bad that can happen to a person has happened to me.” I don’t think she truly understands the depth of bad things that can happen to people.

ARGGGGG!

Posted in Life with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 2, 2012 by urbannight


Anyone out there feeling the need to just scream?

Something driving you nuts?

I know the feeling.

So I’m offering up a place to let loose and scream.

Go ahead.  You know you want to.

Once again, Life Happens

Posted in Entertainment, Life, Movies and Theatre, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 6, 2012 by urbannight

I have three half-started blogs in my notebook and on my computer.  But life happened.  We are training a new person.  One person is having to do a huge project due by Friday and is therefore of f normal duties.  This effectively puts us down two people.  So I jot down thoughts and notes as I can.

I tried getting up early to create more time to finish those but my Plantar Faciitis has been acting up very badly and I really lost any extra time I had.  I’m coming down with or already came down with a head cold.  The result is that I’m more muddle-headed in the evenings due to tiredness.  I zoned out on the couch with SeaQuest last night.

I haven’t even been working on stitching projects.  About the most I’ve been doing is breeding sims and trying to get more alien sims.  Sims 2 rather than Sims 3.  Sims 3 you can make green, red, or blue sims.  You don’t have to get them abducted by aliens to make alien babies.  Less of a challenge. 

I rather miss the supply officer from season one of SeaQuest.  He was funny.  I also think the original doctor was better.  The LT added the second season annoys me.  If you ever watched Red Dwarf, he is who Rimmer thought he should be rather that who Rimmer actually was.  And I’m not talking about Ace, who was pretty cool.  No, this is who Rimmer kept trying to be and thought he was, if only ‘they’ weren’t holding him back.

The Deluise brothers were good but never really filled the void the other actors left.  I think the show jumped the shark at the start of the second season with the addition of the new doctor and her ESP abilities.  I’m leery of season 3 because I think I remember not liking it.  What do you call jumping the shark a second time around in the same show?

Maybe one day I’ll finish the blogs of this week.  Maybe I never will.  I guess that is just life.

When did it get so close to election day?

Posted in Life, Politics with tags , , , , , , , , on August 13, 2012 by urbannight

I don’t have regular T.V. anymore. The cable bill was too much so I decided I was fine with Netflix and Hulu. As a result, all my election information is accessed over the internet. Newspapers, News Sites, Feeds, Blogs, Social Media. The result is, on one hand, a far more civilized race. Only in the sense that I don’t see the candidates attacking each other. I see people attacking one or the other, but not the candidates, for the most part. But it never felt like we were getting down to the nitty-gritty. Which means I really need to go change my address on my DL so I can reregister to vote. I had moved.

I rather dread this election. I don’t have a strong feeling for it. A year ago, I would have said it was the Republican’s election to lose. They couldn’t seem to field a single choice that was worth a vote. I’m not happy with some of the things Obama did. But I am starting to feel a terrible dread that Romney has a chance. Sometimes I feel like we are at the beginning of the end. That the extreme partisan politics is getting farther apart with each passing year and the rhetoric of the average person is getting more vitriolic.

I feel that, as a nation, we are on the verge of a violent precipice. The violence has already started, isolated but highly visible events, that will only start to increase. We have an economic model that is no longer sustainable and an environmental situation that may or may not already be at the point of no return. I feel like was are on the stop of a very slippery slope and about to slide down the other side and there is an essence of inevitability about it.

I wonder if it is better to let it all implode, explode, I’m not sure which is the correct term in this case. Part of me wishes it could have waited until I was gone. Or happened earlier when I was young enough to feel like I could be a vibrant part of it. As it is, I feel that the results of this election may be irrelevant. That the fallout, either way, will be dramatic. And the best anyone can do is batten down the hatches and try to survive it.