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Tue Dec 18, 2012, 09:59 PM

 

I wrote Reality Check, an opus to undo the status quo

At the risk of being spammy...

My book Reality Check is about galvanizing the left so we can undo the status quo. Half of it is quotes from the likes of Chomsky, Carlin, Orwell, Goodall, Sagan, Soros, Asimov, Paine, William James, Sting and The Beatles.

It's available at sbpra.com/pivot but feel free to access the Word files from my aol account realitycheckread; PW: Milton1211
Only 2 emails in inbox.

Here's a review:

“Reality Check" is a thought-provoking, unconventional work…examining how we’ve taken Mother Earth to the breaking point. This sometimes-dark work, is also at the same time enlightening… filled with important insights into society’s imperfections. The author, going by the pen name of “Pivot”, examine’s
America’s shortcomings in a disturbing account of corporate greed and human selfishness. Pivot contends that America has a penchant for a “long and violent abuse of power....The cause of America, in great measure, is the cause of all mankind." (Paine)

Offering a dismal portrait of American society, “Reality Check” has been penned as a “wake-up” call for all thoughtful inhabitants of planet Earth. Indeed, a gut-check for all those willing to think hard, the book speaks to the frailty of the human condition. Pivot contends society is spinning out of control…. assails bad parenting…how we are failing the children. How, as trusted stewards of the planet, we have been negligent. How we allow the “prosperous few" to dominate and take advantage of the "restless many” (Chomsky). Filled with interesting quotes from A to Z…this book is different and unforgettable.

If you're looking for a light-hearted, quick read, then don’t buy "Reality Check." On the other hand, if you can stomach a sometimes-bitter pill, "Reality Check" can be food for the soul. This eye-opening account exposes injustices rife in America today…contending we must come to grips with our problems, in order to find solutions!

Here are some excerpts:

“Mr. Pivot,” said young Johnny Appleseed, “I think I understand what you’re saying. When people are ignorant and confused they make themselves scared; and vice versa; and so on. So now, us kids have to pay for all your fucked up shit. But there’s one thing that I still don’t get. I have an uncle who has a boyfriend instead of a girlfriend; the government says that they can’t get married and have the same rights as a couple of the opposite sex; plus, sometimes they get beat up because they can’t make babies. So, then, shouldn’t we be beating up old heterosexual couples, too?"
“Well, Johnny, everyone gets scared when they see someone living a different lifestyle because it could mean that their own way isn’t as good, or could even possibly be wrong. But their fear would vanish if they understood that a different way of living isn’t necessarily better or worse, but just weird, uhm, I mean, different.”
“But, Mr. Pivot,” queried some kid on the right side of the room, “why do you say that they should be allowed to get married and thus be entitled to all of the legal benefits that go along with that?"
“I should ask you why you say that they should be denied that, especially in light of the fourteenth amendment which says that ‘No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the law.’ What is it exactly that you hope to accomplish or avoid with that denial, anyway? Perhaps if you could provide some rationale for that, then we could come to a meeting of the minds on this.”
“Because it says in the Bible—”
“According to the first amendment it is unconstitutional to base legislation on the Bible. The government can only maintain laws pertaining to citizens between each other, not between citizens and God.”
“But, still, Mr. Pivot, you have to admit, it’s kind of disgusting behavior, ya know? Do you really think that society should formally condone such onerous behavior?”
“Just because the government doesn’t prohibit something, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it is condoning it. Besides, who are you or I to call it disgusting? ‘Disgusting’ is in the eye of the beholder. You may find some people’s styles of expressing love repulsive, or certain forms of entertainment infantile, crude, shocking and offensive, such as that Howard Stern fella, but, right or wrong, obnoxious or enlightening, people have a right to live according to their heart and conscience as long as they don’t undermine the happiness and long-term survival of others. Moreover, people have to make a living; and you can’t very well expect folks to voluntarily curtail less than noble standards as long as we’re living under the auspices of to-the-victor-goes-the-spoils/to-the-loser-goes-the-shaft capitalism.

EXCERPT BREAK

A current example of contention revolves around a Supreme Court ruling made in 1976 (Buckley vs. Valeo) in which the court struck down the limits on citizens’ expenditures towards politicians. They ruled that it would be an infringement on the first amendment to set such limits. But, by the very nature of what it means to achieve balance, it should be clear that a ruling that allows for unrestricted…expression must inherently be lopsided, and, therefore, not balanced, nor just. Because, again, by definition, balance requires restriction, or limitation. Yet Sean Parnell of the Center for Competitive Politics would have us believe that “Money enables free speech; and if you’re going to limit the ability of money to be spent to promote political speech, then you are necessarily limiting political speech.”
Actually, Sean, since it is called FREE speech one doesn’t need any money for one’s speech to be enabled. Hence, if we are going to limit the amount of money that can be spent on political speech, it does not necessarily limit political speech. It merely limits the medium by which (every)one can express it. Because if you really think about it, the right to not have our speech abridged refers to the content of our speech, not the medium by which we express it. And, if you think about it a little more, since Bill Gates et al. have no political spending limits on their speech the amount of speech that I have IS necessarily limited, by comparison. Moreover, thanks to highly duplicitous Supreme Court rulings, the right of so-called corporate personhoods to invoke Constitutional protections has lead to corporations overriding the protections that individuals are supposed to have. For example, although pleading guilty to causing deaths due to fraudulent marketing, Pfizer pharmaceuticals merely had to pay a steep fine—but nobody in the decision-making process actually had to go to jail the way normal citizens do when held accountable for murder, ironically.

EXCERPT BREAK

I also pointed out that we need to examine where the line should be drawn between cost/profit and discretionary income; which you do by categorizing professions/salaries in a hierarchy of the most productive at the top, and the least productive at the bottom; a.k.a. prioritizing. For example, presently, C.E.O.s of major banks and insurance companies, and folks such as Wolf Blitzer and Matt Laur and Brian Williams and Drew Carey and Al Roker and Piers Morgan and Ryan Seacrest and Anderson Cooper and Glenn Fucking Beck and John Paulson and the Koch brothers are paid obscenely exorbitant salaries, yet their occupations add no actual value to the universe. Teachers, however, are obscenely underpaid, yet they’re the most valuable resource that a society has.
To wit: “In 2009, the worst economic year for working people since the Great Depression, the top 25 hedge fund managers walked off with an average of $1 billion each. With the money those 25 people ‘earned,’ we could have hired 658,000 entry-level teachers. Those educators could have brought along over 13 million young people, assuming a class size of 20. That's some value. …The wealthy will have placed an estimated $2 trillion into hedge funds by the end of this year.” Not to mention that in 2010 Goldman Sachs bankers received $15.3 billion in bonuses alone.

“waste”: any human activity which absorbs resources, but creates no value ~Taiichi Ohno

“What we want and what we need has been confused.” ~Michael Stipe

“We can have a democratic society or we can have a great concentrated wealth in the hands of a few. We cannot have both.”
~Justice Louis Brandeis

“Every empirical study of both historic and contemporary cultures finds that the ‘leisure time’ state of ‘freedom’ is enjoyed by only a very small class of people within the city/state: its economic and political rulers.
~from Thom Hartmann’s The Last Days of Ancient Sunlight

“Free enterprise and the market economy mean war; socialism and planned economy mean peace. We must plan our civilization or we must perish.” ~Harold Laski

“Capitalism….is not intelligent, it is not beautiful, it is not just, it is not virtuous—and it doesn’t deliver the goods.”
~John Maynard Keynes


EXCERPT BREAK

I’ll spare you any details from David C. Korten’s “devastating” book, When Corporations Rule the World. Suffice it to say, such a book exists. However, I can’t afford to leave out a portion of John Ralston Saul’s international bestseller The Unconscious Civilization, copyright 1995: “The acceptance of corporatism causes us to deny and undermine the legitimacy of the individual as citizen in a democracy. The result of such a denial is a growing imbalance which leads to our adoration of self-interest and our denial of the public good. Corporatism is an ideology which claims rationality as its central quality. The overall effects on the individual are passivity and conformity in those areas which matter and non-conformism in those which don’t.
“Economics as a prescriptive science is actually a minor area of speculative investigation. Econometrics, the statistical, narrow, unthinking, lower form of economics, is passive tinkering, less reliable and less useful than car mechanics. The only part of this domain which has some reliable utility is economic history, and it is being downgraded in most universities, even eliminated because, tied as it is to events, it is an unfortunate reminder of reality.
“Over the last quarter-century economics has raised itself to the level of a scientific profession and more or less foisted a Nobel Prize in its own honor onto the Nobel committee thanks to annual financing from a bank. Yet, over the same 25 years, economics has been spectacularly unsuccessful in its attempt to apply its models and theories to the reality of our civilization. It’s not that the economists’ advice hasn’t been taken. It has, in great detail, with great reverence. And, in general, it has failed.
“A ‘profession’ implies both real parameters and professionals who bear some responsibility for the effects of their advice. If economists were doctors, they would, today, be mired in malpractice suits.
“Many are surprised that this management elite continues to expand and prosper at a time when society as a whole is clearly blocked by a long-term economic crisis. There is no reason to be surprised. The reaction of sophisticated elites, when confronted by their own failure to lead society, is almost invariably the same.
“To be precise: we live in a corporatist society with soft pretensions to democracy.
“A simple test of our situation would involve examining the health of the public good. For example, there has never been so much money—actual money—disposable cash—in circulation as there is today. I am measuring this quantity both in absolute terms and on a per capita basis. Look at the growth of the banking industry and the even more explosive growth of the money markets.
“There has never been so much disposable money, yet there is no money for the public good. In a democracy this would not be the case, because the society would be centered, by general agreement, on disinterest. In a corporatist system there is never any money for the public good because the society is reduced to the sum of the interests. It is therefore limited to measurable self-interest.
“I would argue that confronting reality—no matter how negative and depressing the process—is the first step towards coming to terms with it.
“ my right as a citizen—my Socratic right—to criticize, to reject conformity, passivity and inevitability.
“It is worth trying to do better.”

To simplify: we’ve designed a system which allows inordinate amounts of wealth to be held in the private sector while the government is left with its hands tied to actually effect noticeable change because they’ve got hardly any money to pay for anything.
The point: THE HOARDING OF WEALTH DIRECTLY CONTRIBUTES TO THE DECAY OF SOCIETY. Anyone with the slightest understanding of economics knows that the foremost rule to a healthy economy, society, is CIRCULATION. We all “know” this, yet those of you at the top 2 percent with all of the money and control seem to think that the rules of cause and effect don’t apply to you.
But instant karma IS going to get you, eventually.

“Property is theft. Nobody owns anything. When you die, it stays here. I read about these billionaires: Sam Walton, 20 billion; Daniel Ludwig, 15 billion. They’re both dead. They’re gone, and the money is still here. It wasn’t their money to begin with. Property is theft.”
~George Carlin

“He who dies with the most toys still dies.”

“During the fifty years preceding 1914 a host of brilliant, eloquent, and desperate artists sought to wake the ruling European bourgeoisie out of its deadly lethargy. The bourgeoisie did not at first believe it was lethargic, because it was so busy making money. ‘Making money is not heroic action!’ cried the artists. ‘Making money is boring you to death!’”
~Charles Van Doren

“It was the end of the fifties, and most young people were disillusioned with what was called the Establishment. There seemed nothing to look forward to but affluence and more affluence. The Conservatives had just won their third election victory with the slogan, ‘You’ve never had it so good.’ I and most of my contemporaries were bored with life.”
~Stephen Hawking

“They debated the NAFTA trade bill for a long time; should we sign it or not? Either way, the people get fucked. Trade always exists for the traders. Anytime you hear businessmen debating ‘which policy is better for America,’ don’t bend over.”
~George Carlin

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