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Everything posted by mweiss

  1. There's one more problem: rising property taxes. I have had no mortgage since 1966, but my taxes have gone from being one weekly paycheck to almost my entire annual income, even though I own the home free and clear (or thought I did, anyway). Aside from mortgaged folks, a lot of senior citizens will be seeing revaluations of 300% this year, despite the collapsed housing bubble, a paradoxical situation that seems almost like a mass land grab by municipalities, since few are in a position to pay triple the property taxes over last year. My taxes exceed the sum total of ALL other expenses, including food, heating oil, electric and telephone services. Property taxes are the hidden 'bomb' in the economy, set to go off next year, after this year's revaluations affect next year's tax bills. -
  2. There are times when the extremes that some Liberal left-wing individuals will resort to is just amazing. Case in point: 3 years ago, I partook in a forum thread about unruly children in restaurants. I merely commented that I too had had a feeding situation with my child that resulted in some mild, and appropriate for her age, corporal punishment. Well that didn't go over with one of the members in the thread, who proceeded to judge me as some maniac who goes around beating children to death. Literally. To read the guy's abusive writings about me is just shocking to people of Objectivist point of view, or even any Christian who follows their Bible as a child-rearing guide. I was eventually banned from that forum a few months later, and the thread was locked by a moderator, seeing the guy was totally out of control and off the cliff, to use the mod's own words. Fast forward to 2009, this week. I get an e-mailed invitation from the moderator of a new forum, intended for ex-members of the other forum. I lurked around for a couple of days and determined that it might be a good place to discuss politics, so I signed up and wrote an intro message. Two messages later, the crazy fellow that made inflammatory and direct assaults on my character for my parental point of view, posted that I am that "anti-tax nut and child abuser." I responded to correct the accusation, and the thread "went nuclear" from there. By the the 6th hour, the thread had grown to six pages, two individuals were making physical threats and the original instigator mentioned that he was a fetal medicine specialist (he's from Atlanta, GA). In that thread, he admitted to calling Child Protective Services in my home state in 2006, who did nothing, because I'd didn't do anything wrong or against the law. The other fellow that started chiming in with the physical threats was a person who admitted that his own dad tried to beat him to death with an iron and that he went into the US Marines with the intent to learn to kill, so he could serve justice on his drunken father when he got out. As any rational person can ascertain, both these individuals have psychological issues that are clouding their judgement. Things got so bad that the site owner deleted the thread, sensing that a defamation or worse type of lawsuit could be in the works. But the good doctor from Atlanta didn't stop there. The next day, I receive e-mail from the moderator of the new forum that I had been invited to, informing me of a 'wiki' type web site that now contained a page defaming my character and using abusive terms, without citing references or proof of any kind. Now whether I hit my child is beside the point. No question was raised about how hard or lightly the hit was, whether it left a mark or not, or what the exact circumstances were at the time. The instigator, whose identity I have positively identified through a series of hints he had dropped, and a 'wiki' entry on him, citing his real name, which lined up with a database of fetal medicine specialists in Atlanta, chose to assume that I was like all the low-life fathers down south whose abused children he saw daily in his practice. He'd written some of his experience which convinced me that after thirty years of seeing this stuff, it affected him emotionally to the extent where ALL dads who have ever slapped a child are monsters who will later kill their child and should be put away in prison and the key thrown away. He's got blinders on, he's declared war on me, and now he's stepped over the line of reason and now, the law, as it seems that internet stalking and harassment is either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the specific circumstances of the incident. I have brought the matter to the attention of an Atlanta-based legal firm and the Atlanta Police. It should be interesting to see what happens. At the very least, I hope the police can talk some sense into this crazed doctor. Note to self: Never discuss your child in a public forum--there might be a psychotic doctor reading your comments.
  3. Just wanted to get the word out about that 'other' forum... For those of you who wonder why my presense on OOL is so rare in the past year, it’s because I’ve been put on Moderator Watch, which was sometime about a year ago. The individuals who initiated this action, David Veksler and David Odden, aledge that it is because I fail to use Reason in my posts. I don’t know about you, but I have noticed a lot of whacky posts on OOL and they aren’t put on mod watch. So I sense something going on where I am selectively singled out. Now before you write me off as a looney, hear me out… A few years back, OOL was infected with some sort of computer virus. I found that my PC was infected after accessing the forums on OOL. I quickly alerted David Veksler as to the problem. To my surprise, he responded in an arrogant manner, asserting that I don’t know how to use a PC. I was quite taken aback that this sort of behavior would come from someone claiming to be an Objectivist. It wasn’t until months later, that I learned through other sources at OOL that one of the “skins” on OOL’s forum was indeed infected with some sort of adware virus. I was correct and David was a victim of his own hubris. I never got an apology from him for that attitude and false accusation. However, I never held it against him. Then sometime last year, there was some contraversial issue I was posting about, ‘could have been property taxes, but they put me on mod watch after that post and I never was reinstated since. That’s why you haven’t seen my posts in the past year. The truth is, about 70% of everything I posted was never allowed onto the forums. What I sense is an overall arrogance here among these young mods—heck, they’re just kids in college, or just graduated, still ‘wet behind the ears’ and very strongly idealistic. Perhaps they take Objectivism a little to evangelically. I can remember back a half century ago when I was like that, having freshly discovered O’ism after studying Christian Science under Mary Baker Eddy for many years. I can tell you that religion was on its last leg for me and Objectivism came along at an opportune time for me. It had “all the answers” or so I thought at the time. Ethically, I think it still does. Politically, it may be a little too simple a model of reality to fit the world as it is today. But I think we can still use the underlying principles of individual rights to improve the predicament of mankind today. Greenspan’s admission that his model for the economy may have been flawed may not be as much of a damnation of the former Fed Chairman as it is a simple fact of reality. Perhaps there are many nuances involved that the relatively monochromistic Objectivism does not address. Let me get back on track with my original point: I posted two more messages this week, and both went to the trash forum without ever being posted. One later became the topic of my last blog entry. The other was a question to the forum, asking if we really have solid, verifiable evidence to back up all of the indictments against presidential candidate Barack Obama. When I wrote the moderators to address my disappointment with their censorship of my posts, they banned me from posting. David Veksler wrote a snide, satirical reply that I found both arrogant and insulting. It was like he was writing to a dog—or something lower than a dog. That was the last straw. I have always supported the ARI view on Objectivism. That is why I refrained from getting too invested in other Objectivist forums that cater to Branden’s and David Kelly’s views. This incident changes things. I will move to those ‘other’ forums and perhaps find more of a level playing field. A few of the moderators here have such an elitist attitude that it’s beginning to become abrasive to me. The sneering, condescending attitudes that Mr. Veksler in particular have displayed are not what one would expect from Objectivists or students of Objectivism. What happened to the open discourse and discussion atmosphere that Objectivist groups I attended in the 1960s had? Has the internet changed people into the hostile attitudes they now possess? Has the moderator/poster hierarchy given some people power over others that they perhaps do not deserve? Gone is free and open discussion. On OOL, if they don’t like you for any reason, they can sit back and laugh as you write volumes of posts and they send most of those down the bit bucket. I tried hard to give them the benefit of the doubt and keep quiet about this internal matter, but now I am quite angry with my fellow “Objectivist” moderators. They’re acting like children with swords. This blog will probably be erased by the time they discover it, which is why I am backing it up and plan to post it on other Objectivist forums, but it should stand as a wake up call, that not all people purporting to be Objectivists are perfect and that moderators of such groups are not to be assumed as models of Objectivism. To their credit, David and David are fairly sharp in their Epistomology of Objectivism, but the way they practice Objectivism as a whole in the day to day operations of OOL leaves something to be desired. I told them that Objectivism cannot afford to be tossing out its constituents in the petty manner that they have done with me. I cited the ‘pedantic’ (there, David, did I spell it right this time?) tone of Yaron Brook’s rhetoric of late and how that shrill tone is not going to gain support of the masses who vote—it will only further alienate them. Objectivism needs a cool head and needs to couch their rhetoric in less offensive terms. I find this in my own efforts to argue Objectivist principles in economics and politics—the moment you’re perceived as shrill, pedantic and unable to listen to the other point of view—is the moment when the other side stops listening to you and writes you off as a looney. Objectivists would be shocked if they realized how many people consider us to be on the fringe end of looney. Our individualist thinking, say them, is akin to the Timothy McVeigh type of anti-social mindset. Strong accusation, but there it is—that is what some people think of us Objectivists. And therein lies part of the problem why we are but a few thousand across the nation, instead of a few tens of millions in our numbers and influence. This board just lost an ally, and it was totally with thanks to your top two moderators. Their action has caused me to rethink my views on Objectivism. If they are the product of it, then perhaps I’ve been overlooking some flaws. I don’t think Miss Rand would have acted that way, however. I think this is a matter of youth and the smugness that comes with youth and their new-found philosophy. When these boys grow up, give ‘em fifty years, then they’ll probably have a more well-rounded view of the world and perhaps they will see what I’m talking about. In the meantime, I am truly concerned for the rest of Objectivists and for the world, in the face of this menace called Statism. Objectivists need to band together in agreement, not waste resources on cutting off their legs. I am deeply disappointed in these two individuals. But I will find a better group—perhaps one with a more reasonable balance of ideas and less hubris.
  4. Worthless Individual, Round 4 Laure: Where did you get your information? Most of the online sites have wildly erroneous and out of date information. I stated, on one of these forums, I don’t recall if it was here or OOL, that the average annual property tax in this town is $15K, a figure which came from Mine are not quite that high, but still 8X higher than all of my other expenses COMBINED. All of my neighbors earn over $100K/year. In fact, citing the same source, the median income here is $130K. My neighbor to the east of me is ultra-wealthy—he owns the largest marina in the northeast, and he owns a manufacturing company and is a land developer. He is also a state assemblyman. Across from him is a day trader who works on Wall St and earns in excess of a million a year. Down the hill from me is the president of CBS Records, and a few hundred yards south of him is the home of Robin Leach, host of that “Rich & Famous” TV show in the ‘80s. Also on this edge of the lake is the CEO of a major toy manufacturer. This area wasn’t like this when we moved here 42 years ago—to escape rising property taxes and a sewer assessment in another town. I don’t qualify for the discount/relief until my back taxes are paid off. That’s one of the things built into our system that ensures that seniors can’t get the benefits and that the property ends up going to younger, wealthier people. But for a 77 year old woman who got bodily removed from her home when the town started getting serious about collecting ‘delinquent’ taxes, she ended up on the street—literally. There was a brief public outcry about that, but it was soon forgotten. The repair work is an enormous undertaking. I didn’t take enough pictures to really convey the various stages of transition. The photos can’t, at internet resolution, convey the nastiness—the filth and dirt, the dead squirrel carcasses, the animal feces and the partially-digested insulation and leaves and mulch that I found in place of studs in my east walls. I have a seemingly insurmountable amount more to do. I move slowly, and I have to think each step through, before I move the first piece of timber. Looking ahead is this spectre of removing a ‘penthouse’ that a deranged man built on top of the main roof. It has a roofline that is 17’ above the main roof surface. Taking that down by myself seems an insurmountable obstacle. But I think I have had a brainstorm this week, involving a 4-ton hydraulic jack and some iron pipe and capitalizing on the fact that much of that shack is starting to rot because it’s roof has been leaking for a number of years. So much to do, and so much uncertainty. Dodger: On some level, to find an answer that REACHES me on a level of consciousness that I’ve yet to achieve. Judith: Although I have mixed feelings about Branden now, knowing what I have read in recent years, your suggestion of those two book titles sounds like it could provide valuable insight into reframing my self-image. The one area where I am not in strong agreement with you is in regard to the Locke book. I think it’s an excellent book—he delivers on his intent, which is to categorize the traits of the successful business person. His book at least lets me understand where I stand and why I am a failure at everything I do. No ‘feel good’ book has done anything but waste words on plattitudes and vague concepts based on primacy of consciousness. I’m not using it to beat myself over the head—I want to find out how to become a successful business person, so I can finally get these taxes off my back and leave my wife and daughter with some money, instead of several years’ salary worth of tax debts. Yup, like the horses, I seem to be low on the pecking order. I felt that all through elementary school years. In fact, by age 7-8, I developed the concept that I was a “test model” of the human species, that was being tested for pain endurance. Even in the face of the threat of violent spankings from “Hitler” (that’s how I and my mother used to refer to my father, because he was German and outspoken against Jews) I could not control my behavior. It was like I was possessed of a demon that took control of my body and made me do things I knew to be those which would get me punished severely. I felt helpless, like a marionette forced to dance in the flames. The question is whether I WANT to change, or whether I fear change, or that to do such change, means jumping an “abyss”, and not knowing whether I’ll reach the other side (have enough intelligence to win it all back legitimately). Faced with a high percentage of uncertainty, I consider such change too risky a gamble, so I thrash around in the mode I’m in. At least that is the most honest appraisal of why I make the choices I make that I can come up with. This lack of energy has made me come up with a theory: that there is no such thing as “laziness”, but only people with particular physical energy limits that give them overwhelming urges to sit down and be sedentary. When I was attending Primerica training meetings, the RVP who ran the training is a skinny guy who moves like a jitterbug. He’s blooming with energy, and even though I had a sense that he was a bit of a shyster, I also realized he had so much energy and ambition, that he really WAS attaining the goals he discussed. The guy earns about $68K/month in sales, residuals, commissions and overrides. He doesn’t waste more than a minute with people in his downline who do not produce. He’s very focused. I took tons of notes at those sessions, and there was quite a bit of practical good advice. I learned a lot, but I still have not been able to apply it. For me, knowledge is strangely divorced from action. I cannot grasp specifically why, but it’s a muddled confusion of xenophobia, lack of faith in jumping the ‘abyss’ and a sluggish mind. And maybe other factors I cannot comprehend or detect. I have little faith in pharma. My mother spent the last years of her life on psychotropic drugs, prescribed by a hospital. They turned her into a zombie. Ever see a person on Thorazine? Scientists, no matter how brilliant, have only been experimenting with drugs for a few decades. Little is known about the longterm effects of these unnatural substances. I rely on my vitamin E to keep my arteries from hardening up, and C to keep me from aging. I take megadoses of vitamins. They’ve kept me alive longer than any of my now-deceased relatives. I realize there are quacks in naturopathic medicine as well as allopathic medicine. But I have a healthy fear of most commercial drugs. These mega conglomerates make billions on these drugs and they have salesmen that pressure doctors to use their drugs. Many times, patients get prescribed drugs that are the result of a salesman convincing a doctor, over lunch, that his company’s product will cure the patient, or alleviate some issue. I believe that illness is a distortion of the body’s normal function, brought about by toxins—toxic processed foods, air pollution, even stress. Often the cure is to stop assaulting the body with toxic garbage, like fast foods, processed foods, etc. I am frustrated that healthy food costs so much more than junk food. A $4 bag of carrots, vs. a 10-cent package of Ramen noodles. During my lean years, I lived on those noodles, 69-cent cans of Chef-Boy-R-Dee spaghetti & meatballs, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Now I look at steaks in Costco… $47 for a piece of meat! (in a Brooklyn accent) Gimme f---in’ break! It’s cheaper to eat poorly, but then you end up needing the medical community to treat your ailments. And I do not want to live in a hospital room. Granted, doctors are good at putting you back together after a car crash, but I have less faith in their ability to fix heart disease by pumping you full of chemicals. I guess the home repair is my ‘magnum opus’. Thanks for the accolades. Young people have no concept of perspective, so they tend to be flippant about these matters. When you get old, you wake up each morning with the thought, “wow. I’m still here!” I still don’t know what death will bring. Objectivism has taught me that it’s just nothingness. But as I get older, I think it’s a tragedy for all the knowledge one gains to just… vanish. I guess that’s one reason why so many people believe in diety and afterlife. It gives purpose and hope that life is not futile. 90 years of hell and then, zero. Michael: To a degree, one may feel better about one’s situation through comparison with others. But I don’t like to compare with others. I like to compare with what level of comfort and freedom I expect from life. In my case, to be left alone by the government. Just let me be. Just let me live out my life of MY land. Leave me alone. My standard for happiness is internal, and will not be any different because I look at a few unfortunate souls. IOW, their circumstances don’t physically change my circumstances. Kori: Thank you for your admonishments. Youth is wasted on the young, and the young have a lot to learn before they can emphathize with the old. Ashleyparkerangel: I saw that video last year when someone linked to it in another forum. As unfortunate as it may seem, it doesn’t change my own reality one iota. Facing a SWAT team at your door is just as bad, whether you’ve seen a two-headed girl or not.
  5. Worthless Individual, Round 3 Starting with Judith: It is near-impossible to assess the extent of the psychological damage that the childhood abuse has had. Once self esteem (which I had little of to begin with) is damaged, it is nearly impossible to repair. As a note, when I was 7 years old, I looked in the mirror and didn’t like what I saw. I was conscious of my ugliness at an early age. A smart fellow would have found a way to capitalize on that ugliness (circus freak show, actor playing the devil, etc.) While I intellectually understand that what happened in the past is the past, emotionally, and with every fiber of my being, for lack of a better term, I am still xenophobic in a bad way. I’ve tried to work on that for forty some odd years, but my efforts have yielded little results. I still feel uncomfortable talking to strangers if there is not what I consider a ‘good reason’ to interrupt them. That’s what makes me so bad at walking up to people and recruiting them into Primerica. The problem with age is that when you finally know certain things you would do differently if you were young, it’s already too late. The body just doesn’t respond anymore. And the brain is starting to go now, and losing one’s mind is one of the scariest things one can experience. My grandmother suffered dimentia and my mother suffered from terrible anxiety attacks, which would eventually land her in a state mental facility, where she died, choking on her own vomit. Father was diagnosed psychotic. My aunt suffered a deformity that runs in the family, known as Treacher Collins Syndrome. I inherited a mixture of all these wonderful genetic endowments. I continue to fight for my life, and the right to live it, even though over half of what I take in goes straight to paying the tax burden on our domicile. And even so, it’s not enough for the town. We’ve only been paying the interest on the debt for the past 3 years. That’s right. I can’t think of a time, early in my life, when anyone believed in me, enough to give me a chance at something. As a child, I really didn’t have any dreams, except fuzzy ones like “I want a big house some day” or “I want to be president of my own company”. But I had no goals, no direction. Reading Edwin Locke’s “The Prime Movers” really put things in perspective for me. I had some implicit idea of why I failed, but he lays things out explicitly. In a table on page 58, I fit completely into the right column, under Passive, as opposed to the left column, Active. Particularly applicable to me are the following attributes: Remains concrete-bound, Acts emotionally (is wish focused), Focuses on the past & present, Sees parts only, Coasts on past learning, Accepts status quo (with regard to deciding that something I did is “good enough” and never asking “how can I do even better?” On page 65, Locke talks about “generalized efficacy”. He notes that some children have a penchant for achieving goals, attain values and seek independence. Others cling to their mother’s skirts. I was in the latter category. “Some children, when confronted by early adversity, decide they cannot handle it, become frightened, and self-pitying, and withdraw into themselves.” This was me to a tee. I still don’t know why I didn’t take the other tact, which was “Others, faced with the same threats, view them as a challenge to overcome and proceed to take action.” A possible contributing factor might be that my parents seemed to consider themselves as victims of circumstances (mom had Hepititis, Thalesemia Hetero Beta Minor, and in old age, severe hormonal imbalances leading to anxiety attacks; dad had ulcers, leading to pancreatic tumors, leading to acute lymphoblastic leukemia). They lost their first home in a potentially violent eviction confrontation with law enforcement, due to an unpaid sewer tax (sometimes being a registered gun owner has disadvantages because the police use inordinate force to carry out routine process serving). Circumstances always prevented them from achieving goals. Either it was poor health or a lack of money. They always had an excuse. Page 92 of Locke’s book addresses stamina, something I had very little of for my entire life. Even at age 15-19, my best years, I still found it quite uncomfortable to do any physical activity. I did a lot of manual labor, but it was always extremely painful because my body wanted to go sit down and relax, not dig a trench or hammer nails all day long. I remember when the family collectively inherited $1850 from my grandfather in the early 1960s, we used it to buy this land and we bought old barn lumber and stacked it in the yard and I spent a year pulling all the nails out of that lumber, getting it ready to use, while we excavated trenches for footings for a foundation and built forms and mixed cement and, using old Clorox bottles with the bottoms cut out as scoops, filled up the forms, with many thousands of scoops and many hundreds of cement mixer loads over the following year and into winter. The thing is, I grew up knowing the value of money, because we had so little of it, and I got a valuable skill of building, plumbing, electrical, masonry, etc., but these were torturous activities, and the only reason I bear through them is like the reason why one swims to shore after a shipwreck—to escape drowning. That does not mean I would take a job as a swimmer—or a carpenter. I do not work fast enough for professional employment. In fact, that was a number one complaint of most of my bosses. One revue that I still recall to this day, where I was a wireman in a factory, the boss wrote, “makes good first impression, but doesn’t wear well.” The reason is, I can only feign interest in a boring job for so long, before every cell in my body turns to revolting disgust and I can no longer motivate myself to bear that mental torture any longer. With all these experiences, you would think I would have found a way to put them all to good use, but I think, contrary to what my parents used to tell me, that I lack a certain kind of intelligence—the ability to identify reality in a way that enables me to see opportunities to capitalize on situations. I just see the problems, not creative solutions or opportunities. When left to think of a way around the problem, I just draw a blank and tune out. I’ve been like that since I can recall. Which is probably why I never moved past menial task jobs. I know things are possible—for someone. It just hasn’t quite happened for me. No one wants to hire an elderly man with the face of defeat. Some people, you can just look at their faces, and the lines and wrinkles of character—you can tell if they are downtrodden, sad, remorseful, or have had a productive and happy life, or if they have been preditors and ruthless carnivores of business. It’s all written in the lines and contours of the face. Brant: I haven’t been to a doctor in fifty years. I’ll admit that since both my parents died at the hands of doctors, I’m not very anxious to go see one. I may have cancer, diabetes, thyroid issues and god-knows-what in addition to the problems I can feel, such as the pain in my joints and the lumps all over my body. My wife keeps asking me to see one, so it’s a matter of finding a doctor that I trust. I already found a good dentist through a mutual friend 20 years ago. Perhaps I can find a doctor who isn’t pharma-happy. Matus 1976: I’m afraid you’re right about my highest priority. I’m a materialistic person—high tech gadgets are my subsitute for the sex I never enjoyed all my life. Now I’m too old to have any libido left. But I still enjoy the gadgets. I’ll explain the two types of happiness/unhappiness I experienced in my life: when I was living through my employment years, I was miserable. The term “desparately unhappy” fits my past job experience well. I had almost enough money to pay basic bills, a rented room in a boarding house and food. But I was miserable, and bored with my existence. My dreams and goals were unattainable. I knew I would never afford a house at that rate. I did work on a few inventions during these years. I was still a bit slow. I knew vacuum tubes well. That was my strong area, but the transistor was the big, new technology and I was slow to grasp, or even have curiousity about this new phase of electronics. I was more comfortable with the status quo—vacuum tubes, and I could build almost anything with tube circuits. But I was soon to be stymied by an even more critical failure: my inability to sell my ideas, to present a convincing business plan, to gain support from people who were in a position to help inventors. I struggled with several inventions throughout and in addition to my regular employment. On one hand, I suffered doing menial tasks for wages, and on the other, in the evenings, I worked on my electronic inventions. But my stamina just couldn’t handle both activities, and I overslept often and that cost me some of my jobs. How dare I try to rise above the status of my co-workers, right? Since my retirement and going freelance, I have enjoyed a sense of freedom and in that respect, I have found a level of happiness that I never experienced when I was in these prison-like employment situations. I am more relaxed, less tense, I drive the speed limit now (I used to be a very aggressive driver and often would speed to 120mph daily on my highway commute to work), my ulcers have stopped bothering me, the diarhrea has stopped and I don’t feel like I’m trapped in a cage, forced to endure uncomfortable environmental conditions, people I can’t stand (I got into a number of fights on the job, and I had a terrible temper) and work that was so boring that my mind was on the verge of going insane. That is all behind me. My ONLY problem is that I don’t take in enough to meet the demands of the tax man. If the government went away tomorrow, I’d be happy as a clam with that burden lifted from mey shoulders. I agree, there is nothing positive about setbacks. This house has been a collection of them. From the plumbing leaks that would spring up at the most inconvenient times, to the roof leaking when it rains, to having to deal with a backed up septic, to well pump problems and having to pull 220’ of pipe, and a submersible pump out of the casing and repair/replace parts, then put the whole thing back down the well, to dealing with this dreadful renovation project. I’ve put together a very inadequate photo portfolio of the house renovation that I started in 2003, here: But I must warn that it’s not pretty (except maybe the “after” photos) and there is just unbelieveable circumstances that photos can’t convey adequately. All I can say is there is nothing like dealing with the result of 40 years of termites, carpenter ants, squirrels, mice and water damage, over an entire roof, walls and into the floors in many instances. I can deal with the physical objects. Slowly, I am winning the battle against rot on this house. In four years, I expect, assuming my health holds up, to have completed the repairs to the roof and major walls. And maybe even to knock down a makeshift third floor (that we’re being taxed for as an extra 970 sq ft space!) I can deal with the physical. What I can’t deal with is the wholesale theft of 80% of my income by beaurocrats with guns. It’s gotten to a point where I don’t know what “working rationally” is anymore. Working for minimum wage in a retail store, and barely being able to pay my transportation costs to/from work, or spending my time working at something I enjoy, and not driving every day. Working on the house has had some benefits. But the first few weeks of the season are hellish. The nausea and vomiting that I go through when I first start doing any lifting in the heat, and the burning pain in my arms as I try to work over head, make for a very memorable discomfort that I carry with me into the next season. It’s been very difficult to get started this year, with the cold weather lasting into April and snow one day, rain the next and so on. Now that we finally have decent weather, I’m doing a little each day, to get started on the next leg of an incomprehensibly large task that has to be done. Raising a little girl and being a husband now cuts further into the time I can invest in the repairs, but the repairs cannot wait and the urgency to complete them before remaining leaks destroy the work I’ve already completed is a matter of protecting my vested interest. Although I symphathize with your own home repair issues, I have to qualify it with the fact that your problems are miniscule compared to mine. You’re repairs are only a day or two out of your life. Mine involve a decade of 12 hour days, working in dangerous conditions, breathing in mold, dust, animal feces, rotten wood that’s turned to dust, etc, all the while trying to be careful not to lose my balance and fall off the roof. I’ve had to gut this place and figure out how to keep the rain out of the house with no roof for several months out of the last four summers. If you don’t believe me, see the photos I linked to earlier. Yes, my wife calls me worthless, because not only can’t I bring in the money, but a lack of libido completes the picture. She’s right. And she’s about the best thing that’s happened to me all my life. I consider myself fortunate that she has stuck behind me for these past few years. Perhaps her taunting is not all such condemnation as just taunting as her way of trying to motivate me. As for filmography, I have no ideas. If someone tells me what they want me to shoot, I can do that, but when it comes to creating an idea from scratch, well, I never had that ability, going back to childhood. I drew a lot as a kid, but the neighbor’s kid could REALLY draw, like a professional cartoonist. He just could do it. No matter how hard I tried, I could not. I was like the example on page 64 of Locke’s “Prime Movers”—I studied algebra for years and failed consistently—I just could never grasp it, or most other mathematics beyond adding and multiplying numbers. It seems that when there are more than a certain number of elements to keep in my mind simultaneously, that I can no longer focus on the problem and I reach a limit to the complexity that I can deal with and master in algebra. I spend quite a bit of time in Maya, trying to make the animation of a vision that I first saw when I heard Marcel Dupré’s “Carillon” played on the organ. In 1982, I tried to film it with 8mm and by building clay models, but the infinite horizon effect of traveling over a vast planet was impossible to achieve with this method. In the late 80s, I had my first video camera and tried again, building larger sets on the studio floor, but that sense of distance wasn’t working. Then in 1995 I tried it with Caligari trueSpace, but the computer was much too slow, and trueSpace has a clunky UI that worked against me. The by 2004, I started working on it in Maya, but now I am stuck again, animating the oil rigs (there are 11 scenes in my ‘dream’ that I demarcated by different movements in the music and one scene has a one beat per measure back and forth rhythm that, to me, depicted visions of hundreds of oil wells pumping. So I worked on the oil well scene, building models of these rigs and trying to animate them using physics. But I ran into “interpenetration” errors and realized that I was way over my head and that modeling required much more knowledge on how to correctly construct a body so that it will interact with another object for reactive animation. I’ve been hacking away at this project for 25 years, only generating a few seconds of footage so far. Obviously, I’ve reached beyond my faculty here, but I’m a stubborn old fart, and enjoy these challenges—it’s what keeps the brain young. While I’m slowly getting rid of the things I haven’t used in five or more years, I’m turning that into cash that I can convert to things that I can use today. But if you’re asking me to consider giving up my passion for the things that have kept me from completely going off the deep end, it’s not going to happen, as long as I am breathing. It means too much to me, and it took me nearly forty years to achieve it, and I don’t have another forty years to try and rebuild it all over again. I don’t know if there is a solution for my dilemma. I’d be really fine if it weren’t for the robbers at my door (the taxes), because I can live on about $2000/year for my basic living expenses, including heat. Well, electricity has gone up so much that it’s become second only to taxes—I spent $4200 on electricity last year. I can always find ways to pay the bills, as I am basically debt-free (no credit, loans or mortgages). There is only this tax bill every year, and it’s getting bigger and bigger at a rate far greater than any increase in income. I’ve tried raising my engineering rates, but I lost my clients as people didn’t want to pay $50-60/hr to keep a multi million dollar operation on the air. Taxes rose, but I could not raise my rates enough to compensate and stay busy. As a good friend of mine, who makes his living doing consulting in Windows Presentation Foundation and .Net application development once observed about me, I make a terrible employee. I’m the type that can only flourish as an independent entrpreneur. He’s right. I don’t work well for others, in capacities that are not in my area of interest. It’s a curse. Many people can work these boring dead end jobs and be content for decades. I lack that ability. I suffer. And yes, I am proud that I didn’t contribute to Bush’s Oil War. Laure: Intellectually, I know this is right, but when it comes to practical steps, I’m concrete-bound and can’t fathom the first step. Bob Mac: Yes, that’s free enterprise. But being an employee is being low on the food chain, and that means you struggle and suffer a lot. I had enough suffering as a kid. But I was too stupid to find a way to endure the employment years. I trudged through half a century of employment suffering until my third suicide attempt landed me hospitalized and out of the loop for several years. Now I’m trying to do things MY way, because I worked all those years and didn’t have much to show for it. I didn’t advance because I wasn’t interested in the available work/jobs and I had to work in order to eat, but most of the jobs had little opportunity for growth anyway. There’s only so much a ditch digger can aspire to, if you know what I mean. Employers see a big guy whom they figure they can exploit as a bullyock. Too bad for them that my lack of energy prevented me from achieving the potential that they expected based on my size. As for income versus expenses, how can you drop $2000/year for food, heating, phones, electric (in 1999) any further? And how do you deal with the fact that you still had to pay a five figure tax bill the following year? When taxes are five times all my other expenses combined, that really burns me. It makes my blood boil. Now if I made a hundred grand a year, maybe it wouldn’t hurt so much to write that $15K check every year. But for me, it represents several times my own personal expenses. More income would certainly help, but my traditional minimum wage-earning past has kept me in this cycle of poverty. Regarding the home repairs, as I mentioned earlier, I’m doing these repairs because of an emergency and a lack of help. It’s like swimming to shore after a shipwreck—it doesn’t mean I want to become a professional swimmer. Yes, I can do carpentry, but it takes me 2 weeks to do what a professional can do in a day. I’m simply not fast enough, nor can I work on ladders with my dizziness and tendency to black out from time to time. I’m really risking my life repairing this roof, as I’m not physically up to the task—but it’s either “do, or die” and do I “do”. Yes, I have been told I write well. Paradoxical for a person who could not read at all in the fourth grade, until my parents got me a phonics course (which would, years later, be outlawed in progressive education). I have three unfinished novels sitting on my hard drive. I’ve been working on them on and off since 1985. But I reached a point where I lost interest in what I was writing, and other pressing matters took the focus away. Journalist? With my personality? You’ve got to be kidding, right? I don’t know the first thing about it. I do know that reporters are pushy sons of B’s and that’s opposite my personality type. Reporters are “people persons” I am a reclusive xenophobe. Peter: The Danse Macabre took me three weeks of intensive effort to record. Someone with real talent could play it in 7:49 without making a single mistake. I did it for recreation and no other reason. It just turned out better than my other attempts and music. I have not heard of the piece you mentioned for organ. The title, yes, but not as an organ piece.
  6. I have to applaud your stance on self defense as well as your weapons savvy. Good argument on why shouldn't the public have the same weapons as the military! If the 2nd Amendment's purpose included the prevention of tyranny, then we are indeed under-weaponized today as a public. The military has tools and weapons that are not even made public. We have the potential of a really bad dictatorship gradually taking over, and once the public is riled up enough to revolt, the tremedous force of our military would be brought to bear, to utterly squash any rebellion. We have no more control over government, not without each citizen having a WMD of some sort that becomes the wildcard that the fed must reckon with. Great post, Judith!
  7. There is no ephinany here; there is only a slow series of realizations of how immoral, contradictory and self-serving, my life’s path has been. As usual, responding in order of posting: Laure: Yes, part venting, part hoping that some answer will resonate with my inner pshyche, causing me to have that ephinany that has so far eluded me. I don’t think of myself as a tax cheat. A conviction in a court of law does not pronounce moral reality. Not if the laws are made by evil men who steal from producers and give to non producers. I think that people who pay their taxes are tax fools. I hold all taxpayers responsible for the destruction of America; for empowering this monstrous government, for bringing about this uncontrolled spiraling of ever-expanding and ever more invasive despotic rule. I hold taxpayers responsible because they didn’t have the courage to say “enough is enough” and employ that which the Filipino people refer to in their country as “People’s Power.” This sad state of affairs is all the fault of people who sheepishly obey the orders of the government that should instead be the servant of the people—not the dictator and terrorist that our government has become. It is too late for America, and for the world. Do you not think that I have been to the assessor’s office to try and get my taxes reduced? I have. They knocked $200 off the valuation. And then a year later they tripled the valuation when a mass revaluation was done at the millenium. I got so angry that the police were sent to question me; they were concerned that I was going to shoot the assessor, as another elderly gent in NJ had done three weeks before. There is a fine line between trying to reduce an assessement, and bringing on an investigation by the building inspector, the EPA and the health department. I have to walk that line carefully. The assessor is only concerned with two things: square footage and prevailing property values in the area. Granted, it’s a nice area, not too far from shopping, and free from flooding, earthquakes, hurricanes, chemical plants and major pollution. I have had several real estate agents look at the place since 1998. None of them would list it. After I could not find a contractor who was willing to do the repairs, I embarked on an eight-year project of rebuilding the house myself. A truckload of migrant workers could have fixed this place up in a summer, but I’m working alone, living 160’lb pressure treated 2x12s on my shoulder, hauling them up a makeshift staircase, and then bringing each into position in a new framework for the roof. I replaced one joist every day and a half. Just loading and unloading these things and transporting them from Home Depot to the rooftop took most of a day and knocked me completely out. I took a drive to Florida in 2005, stopping in the Carolinas along the way. I didn’t care for any of the places down there. I was glad to return home. I consider myself fortunate to live in this particular area. The only issue is the leaking roof and the remainder of the repairs to be done, which requires me to knock down a third story structure that has 17’ high ceilings, making it a real challenge to demolish while keeping the rain out of the roof below. Like my father before me, I’m always alone against the elements. Only back then he had me to help him. I have no one to help me. Do you really think that if I can’t afford to pay property taxes with no mortgage payment, that I could somehow magically afford to pay rent? You don’t have a clear picture of the situation. Even to rent a halfway decent house, my wife would have to double her salary and I would have to earn as much as she does. But then we’d be minus daycare expenses for Amanda, and short on the rent. And when I did pay rent, I couldn’t keep a job. How do you think I ended up sleeping in my car? There was a period after I had my nervous breakdown where I was driving around looking for temp work in an unregistered, uninsured old clunker. I couldn’t afford insurance. I couldn’t even afford to put gas in the car one particular week. I had taken a temp job at Union Carbide, filing dockets for $4.50/hour. I was barely taking home more money than I spent on gas to commute to that job. One day, about 2/3 of the way to work, my car ran out of gas on the highway and the company canceled my contract because I didn’t show up that day. They hired a replacement immediately and by the time I was able to explain what happened, it was too late. I can’t explain to you what it means to be too tired to sleep normal hours. I sleep 12-14 hours a night. Any less than that and I feel tired when I’m up, I feel groggy, not alert, wanting to lie down. All the way back through childhood, I always had low energy. I was always too tired to participate in sports (also too slow mentally to pick up on what was happening in the game), and later, I was always tired on the job, wanting to sit and rest often, when I was supposed to be digging that ditch or assembling a product. The problem is that I am cursed with a desire for more than my meager abilities will afford me. I refused to accept my “lot in life” and resorted to shortcuts to get the things I wanted. You have no idea how devastating it is to be passed on by the opposite sex as you watch, 30, 40, 50 pass by and realize that you’re just a potbellied, bald, old man who may never find romance. So what do you do? You engage in materialism, because objects don’t reject you and they respond to your wishes and desire. Realizing that those things were pretty much out of reach, you live a bare subsistance lifestyle, forgoing outings, expensive TV dinners, and instead buying a loaf of bread and a jar of peanut butter, and living on that all week. That’s how I made my meager wages add up, a little at a time. If it wasn’t for material objects to lift my spirit and provide affirmation that life on earth wasn’t total hell, I think I would not be here at all today. What else could a person with no looks, who pulled Ds and Fs in school, do later in life? I’m sorry if I’m not honest enough to be a good citizen and fund your corrupt government so it can grow even bigger, more corrupt and more invasive, until one day you’re either all forced to have a bloody revolution, or suffer in a dictatorship that controls every aspect of your children’s lives. I am who I am. I am not that strong that I can work fifty years in a dead end job without losing my mind. I guess I have too much belief in “a better lifestyle” than that, and sqeaking by in a rented slum apartment all my life until I die just was a scenario that was too sickening to bear. If I knew how to implement changing my psychology, I would have done it a long time ago. I think I’m just a dunce—I am very ignorant or unable to grasp certain concepts. Reading Ayn Rand has probably increased my IQ from that of a near-retarded person to almost average, but it hasn’t helped in every area. My communication skills are about my only asset. But that only gives people the impression that I’m smart. My experience has taught me that nothing could be farther from the truth. Brant: Very funny. Victor: Yes, Life IS too short. I need another 20-30 years to start over and achieve success. Life is too short to spend it fighting the government that is supposed to serve us, not to be our slave driver. Life is too short to spend it in economic slavery. You work, and the government takes most of it away in taxes. What a waste. The more you earn, the more they tax. Yes, I’ve had those moments of despair, where I think about the ultimate “big picture”—that one day the sun will turn supernova and burn the earth to a cinder and all human life will end long before that. I often wonder why bother living, if I’m going to die? But I also realize that thinking about such things is depressing, so I try to put that aside and enjoy the moment. Several years ago, I had a small ephiphany about happiness and the measure thereof: it’s a ratio of expectations to reality. The person with low expectations, who achieves more than he thought he would in life, is happy. The flip side of the coin is the person who has high hope, grand expectations, but is stymied at every turn and step of the way, and who fails to attain even the first small steps toward his goal, again and again. That is misery. I would very much like to overcome the obstacles that are stopping me from achieving wealth and the lifestyle I desire. But there’s only so many times I can get my hopes up. Reality is hitting me with strong signs every day, telling me that my days are numbered. The arthritis that makes it very painful for me to get out of bed, the cataracts that cloud my sight, the diminished mental capacity of my mental faculties, the pains in my chest whenever I exert myself—not to complain about my decrepit body, but to point out that my body is telling me to rest, but my desires are telling me that I have not yet achieved the things in life that I want. Since Objectivism has pretty much cleared my mind of any belief in an afterlife, I am all the more angry that I am being robbed of THIS life. My quest for happiness and its direction? Well, I did solve one problem, but going outside the country to find a dame that didn’t care what I looked like, or that I didn’t have much money. Even my meager existence looks good to a dame from a third world country. And we have a relationship based on love, not lust for the other person’s money or possessions. She is very patient with me and I sometimes think she is a gardian angel, but I know that’s silly from an O’ist viewpoint. But while I was busy repairing my home and trying to finally get my life on track in the 11th hour, the town was busy becoming greedy and devising ways to rape the homeowners of their life’s savings. Miss Rand’s quote is very nice, but it underscores the unpleasant reality of my own childhood. Mine was one of lack. Of being picked on and ganged up on by hoards of bullies. Of having no toys for Christmas. Of having little or no toys, period. Of parents that were ill and always fighting over money problems. They loved me, but I didn’t have ideal conditions either. In a way, it gave me appreciation for money, but as my friend tells me, it also made me covet money and fail to believe that I could achieve large amounts of money. It puts a cap on my belief in wealth-creating ability. That’s a nice quote by Mary Wollstonecraft. Purpose DOES quiet the mind. I have noted that when I have been working on my roof repairs for several weeks, and progress is being made, I do feel better than during the winter when I can’t work on it. My best piece of mind would be me, making a steady income from videography and sound recording. And I will doggedly try to gain that status, until I draw my last breath.
  8. A good business owner treats everyone as a "win-win" prospect. Traditional employment however, exists to pocket as much money as possible, while paying the employees as little as possible. I enjoyed not a single advancement or promotion throughout my employed years. I felt used, abused and taken advantage of.
  9. Once again, I’m responding individually in one post. Victor: I feel lots of guilt for taking shortcuts when I was younger. Looking back, I realize that I made a lot of evasive choices. I made those choices because, at the time, the one thing that I wanted, a certain type of romantic fulfillment, was beyond my reach. Forty years of constant rejection by the opposite sex does strange things to a man. I developed odd ways of coping with that. I became deeply materialistic. I’m afraid that’s not going away any time soon. This IS the Rants subforum, and, I guess you could say I’m venting my frustration. Maybe it’s a safety valve that prevents me from doing other less healthy actions in an irrational moment. It’s not intended to be a pity party. I’m not looking for your symphathy. I may be writing this tome to myself, as a way of crystalizing the problem. I’ve worked hard all my life—for others, making others rich, while I got used up like a dirty rag and tossed away. The problem is that I worked hard and not smart. I didn’t figure out how to leverage my position to a better position. I just languished and moved from one job to another. I think the reason why is because I have no natural talent that fits with any commercially-viable area. They say that a lot of success is luck—being in the right place, knowing the right people. I just never knew many people, much less people that could connect me to the right people. Co-workers hated me, as I was labeled the complainer. It was too hot, or someone was smoking and the smoke was bothering me, or someone was playing a radio and it was distracting me so I couldn’t get my work done. I had numerous problems getting along with people, and these people were mostly just the dregs of society, and in no position to connect me to any lucrative opportunities. Since I lacked the genius to make my own path out of that mess, that’s where I languished for half a century. I don’t even know how to formulate a question about any specific problem because I am overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of problems. It ranges from how do I knock down a third floor structure, when my legs aren’t steady enough to climb a ladder, to how to get good paying clients and find projects to do in videography, which is the one thing I am actually pretty good at. And hundreds of problems in between. So I just do a brain dump like this when I’m feeling particularly low. It got me practically banned from OOL last month. Sorry to burden you all with this. Yes, and you’re a good artist as you have real, tangible TALENT. I couldn’t draw my way out of a paper bag. I have no imagination. My mind is about as dead as a vegetable. All those years working in manual labor jobs, bored so severely that my mind went into a vegetative state. That’s how I got through long 12 hour shifts, packing tampons in boxes, sweating and choking on paper dust. I became a zombie, mentally, just to keep up the job every day. I don’t know if talent is in-born, natural, or if someone or the environment you grew up in tought it to you, or made conditions favorable to developing that talent, but you have a gift and you’re fortunate. My gifts seem to be in areas that are either highly illegal, or just have no commercial value. I don’t see you as the enemy. I appreciate your frank, honest response. I would rather hear the truth, than the feel good cooings of a Liberal philanthropist. Brant: To live, one must want to live. To want to live, one must have a dream and a reasonable chance of achieving it. I stuck it out for many decades, working “shit” jobs. I saved what I could, but the wage was small, and the car broke down often, and most of my income went to transportation costs and paying off credit cards used to pay for emergency breakdown repairs. I was stuck in a cycle of struggling between trying to afford a working car and getting to work on time. When I did manage to get on top of the transportation problems, I focused on small, tangible dreams. Without the girlfriends, I spent my limited money instead on stereo equipment. But now, I want to do the impossible, which is to be successful in my own business. If I believed in the afterlife, I wouldn’t care how bad my life on earth was, since I’d have my sites set on serving God and going to Heaven. But we all know that what’s here now is IT. So I know my time is about up, I’m living on borrowed time, and I’m intending to enjoy what little I have left. I feel no guilt in that. Michael: I’ll check out the Ringer site. I read his books in the 80s, and recall “Looking Out for #1”. I still have that and one other book he wrote after that, in my library. Laure: The reality is, no ephiphany (financially) is happening, and although I keep hoping that I’ll find the work I love someday, I don’t believe there is any real financial relief coming. The fact is, working at Radio Shack or Wal-Mart isn’t bringing in enough to pay the bills. I need more income. And I tire easily now and need to rest frequently. I’m afraid I’m too set in my ways, and too selfish to let go of the “toys” as you call them (I consider them the objects that have kept my sanity all these years)—I’m just too set in my ways. I don’t want anything to do with social workers. They are child kidnappers and family destroyers, at the behest of the state. I would appreciate it if you don’t ever bring that up again. The problem with my little parcel of swampland is quite unique. They way the town valuates property is by square footage, and prevailing property values in the area. Since my neighbor built a mansion to the east of me, and to the west of me is a lake, with a 19-hole golf course and country club, and most of the houses going up around this immediate area are largely valued in the $600,000-$1M range, this “rush” has inflated my property value on paper, as far as the assessor is concerned. We bought this property for $1850, 42 years ago. I still think of it as being worth only a few thousand. The land is unimproved. The house, well, I’ve been told it’s the land value, minus demolition costs. Another person familiar with environmental laws, who’s aware of the situation that dad left behind as his legacy, stated that if I ever do manage to sell this hunk of land, that it would be in my best interest to move to a foreign country that doesn’t have an extradition treaty with the US. And another reason why I won’t give up this place, is because I have so much blood, sweat and tears, so much raw physical effort into rebuilding the infrastructure, and I’ve ruined my health doing this, that I’m not going to throw away my investment. I’m not going to throw that away to go live in some section 8 housing with drug gangs roaming the neighborhood and shootings going on all night. The town is stubborn. And last December, they sold the tax liens to a corporation. I’ve refused their agent entry to the property, stating that I granted them no sale of this land and that they had bought into a government-backed fraud. That was followed by more visits from the police and quite a few reasoned, calm discussions with an investigator. I think they’re playing it very cool. Maybe they’re waiting for me to die, before they swoop in. Maybe they’ll storm the place some early morning and kill us all. But I’m too old to give in. And something tells me that they’re just not sure what to do about me. They’ve never encountered an “embattled farmer” before. Maybe my talks with them have enlightened them to some degree about morality of property ownership. But I no longer care about dying. This is America, damnit. The land of the free. And this is a war between Communists and free poeople. I’m not a tax cheat. I’m a revolutionary, fighting for American ideals, which we all have mostly forgotten. If it looks like there’s going to be a war, I’ll send the loved ones to live in California with their relatives and face my lion alone. Judith: Right you are. I may be waiting for the right combination of words to reach me, past my mental blockade. Or I may simply have no mental faculty left that’s efficacious enough to deal rationally with life. I’ve been told I belong in a rest home. Numerous times, I’ve been told to let go. But this house is who I am. It’s my identity, or rather, it protects all that is my identity. I don’t believe that integrity is at odds with social skills here. I still retain much of the “gunshy” behavior left behind from a childhood of trauma and abuse from peers. As I grew up, I became xenophobic. I’ve not been able to correct that probably incorrect core premise that “people are bad, people will hurt me if I look at them or talk to them”. What I have is a phobia of strangers. I know that in business, this can’t work this way. You’re right though. I used to say that as long as there’s life, there’s hope. If, by some unexpected miracle, I should be alive 10 years from now, I could be further ahead if I take certain steps now. It is a matter of faith. I have to believe that I’m going to buck statistics and live longer than my relatives did. My wife told me recently that I’m going to live to 120. I wish I could believe her, because I would suddenly feel that I have a second chance to have enough time to start over and build a new career. But in reality, people to want to pay the elderly a lot of money. We’re seen as passé, over the hill, useless people, who should be warehoused until we die. I have found that two interesting things happen as you age: you become wiser in a broad sense of knowledge, but you become stupider in practical areas. Kids are really smart today. They’re quick thinkers, quick to see relationships and identify problems and their solutions. I have difficulty with these practical situations and my mind is in a fog. I have frustrating problems with inability to remember things. That’s been going on for several years. I had a stroke in 1984 and another one in 1992. I lost some of my vision after that, but also my ability to remember short-term things. I spend 50 minutes out of each hour, trying to remember what it was I was planning to do. Then when I finally figure it out, I spend 8 minutes trying to implement a means of accomplishing that task and finally two minutes actually doing the task. It’s maddeningly frustrating. Thirty years ago, I had a pretty sharp mind, in terms of arguing philosphical matters. I was always arguing with people, because they were Socialists and I was always angered to hear them spout and spread their evil ideas. I spoke up, often in the workplace, and great arguments ensued. But I was dealing with closed-minded people. But I could recall enough of what I’d read to remember the arguments and responses to their arguments. Today, I read a chapter from a book, and an hour later I can’t remember what I read. All I know is that on the way out of this world, I’ll be singing Sinatra’s “I Did It My Way”.
  10. Since so many of you have replied, I’ll try to respond in one concise reply. First, Brant: Yes, I agree, and gainful employment is what I have been seeking ever since retirement. But also emotionally-fulfilling employment, which has eluded me thus far. I admit, I’m not a good menial tasks person. I tire easily of such activity. And I don’t last long at most of these jobs, when younger, more energetic people are clamoring for the same job. These jobs are for kids in high school, not persons who have worked a whole lifetime and nothing to show for it. Yes, the house is weighing me down, but at least it’s MY house (at least I can believe that morally, even if not true under statute law). It sure beats paying a mortgage or rent, neither of which I could afford. Negative thinking arose out of a string of steady failures. Believe it or not, I once believed success and wealth were possible. But it’s been so many decades now, and since my parents lost their modest lifestyle in the Great Depression, I have no history of what it feels like not to be in poverty. Yes, I need to get on top of the taxes. I need hundreds of thousands of dollars to get rolling. But I can’t even get a home repair loan. I am out of ideas (probably because I have almost no mental faculty working in this area) on how to rise above what seems insurmountable. Laure: It is obvious that I need to stop racking up taxes. A big income would solve that problem. No matter where I go, there is always the income problem. I could not afford rent for an apartment. The only reason I’m still living here is because there’s no mortgage. Since the town is slower to act on tax-delinquent property, I have been able to keep a roof over my head. And the police have visited me several times and I’ve made it clear that if they move on me, they’re going to have another Waco. I told them that if they want to steal my worthless little piece of property (worthless to any middle class buyer, that is), then they’re going to have to commit murder to steal it from me. We’re in a sort of unofficial standoff. I am happier than I would be in an apartment. I get very depressed and angry when I don’t have my outlet. It has been a substitute for love and romance for over 30 years, since I was chronically single and unable to find a date within US borders. I’ve grown so dependant on that crutch that even now, I can’t give it up. I would end my life if it were suddenly gone. What you’re suggesting involves the ‘chicken and egg syndrom’, because you have to have money and good credit to get an apartment and you have to have a LOT of money to get one in a city where there is quality work (assuming I wanted to throw away all that I am hanging onto now). And then I would be stressed out trying to come up with rent payments every month, and worried about finding/keeping a job. My past employment history is very checkered. I had problems with tardiness, low productivity, lack of interest in the work. And I won’t live in a city where I can’t carry a sidearm for personal protection. My closest friend keeps telling me to walk away from it, but I can’t. I’d be sleeping in my car if it weren’t for this house. I’m not a spring chicken anymore. I can’t start from scratch again and live long enough to make it to a level of self-sufficiency and comfort. Lately, I’m having difficulty remembering things. I fear I may have the dreaded “A” disease. I could drop dead tomorrow. I could surprise everyone and live another 10-15 years or more. But for me, I’m done struggling. This is it. This is MY home and I’m staying put. Money buys safety from evil men (tax men), money buys food that lets you live healthy, money buys tangible goods that affirm that life is good and worth living. Without it, life is hell. No wonder poor people use drugs to escape reality. If it weren’t for the little utopia I’ve struggled 30 long years to create for myself in the basement, I too would be using drugs, or worse. David: Let me be clear about this: I consider myself a “student of Objectivism” not an Objectivist. I reserve the latter title for Miss Rand, Dr. Branden, Dr. Peikoff, and perhaps a few others who are the “godheads” of this philosophy. I’m not perfect. I only have an understanding of Objectivist politics, which made me see the gross injustices of taxation, the draft, eminent domain, etc. It’s partly because of Objectivism that I stopped filing income taxes in the 1970s. That was a big mistake, because they ruined me financially, and I’ve never quite recovered from it, but have developed an even deeper hatred of the federal government to the point where I wish them all to be put to death by boiling in oil. Yes, I made a lot of excuses in life. I lacked the patience of most people. I was taught that it was possible to attain wealth and riches. But when my meager employment failed to advance me and when I realized that my dream was impossibly far, I began to take shortcuts. I also spent my earlier years in great heartache. To lust after one woman after another, and be rejected by all, decade after decade, well, it also contributed to killing my zest for living. All I wanted back then was to be loved, to get married and have a normal life like everyone else. But then when too much time had passed, I became materialistic, both to make up for the lack of romance, and to make up for not having things when I was a kid growing up in the shadow of the Depression. I was always envious of the other kids, whose parent gave them allowances and enough money on field trips to buy things. Me, I had nothing as a kid. I played with rocks in the quarry pit next to my parents’ first home. I built model houses out of cardboard. I had no toys to play with as a kid. I had to make them myself. I guess over the years, I had a tendency to overcompensate. I never had friends. I wasn’t “hip” or popular. I was considered the homely ugly kid that no one wanted to play with. Later on, I found some social acceptance after building my first sound system. Then I met an audiophile years later who would blow me away (literally) with his sound system. And I was ‘poisoned’ by that experience. Like a drug addiction, I kepted building and adding more. I kept wanting more, and kept working and saving my pennies with the sole goal of getting more sound. It became my fixation—my psychosomatic obsession in life. Despite that, I have always lived very modestly. While the other kids bought Corvettes and wasted hundreds a week at bars and nightclubs, I lived on boiled noodles and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I wouldn’t buy clothes but once every 8-10 years. Often shopping in thrift stores for essential items. In fact, before I got married, my living expenses, not including taxes and auto insurance, were under $1850 a year. I never ate out at restaurants. I saved my money, all of it, toward the more tangible goals I had of building that sound system. I’ve lived well within modest means. The problem was that my income was so small that even modest living was unaffordable. Since the 1960s, I had wanted to be a typesetter—I dreamed of laying out newpaper pages and so on. I also dreamed of shooting movies on super 8 film. But I could never afford the equipment back then. But I found it easy to acquire people’s unwanted old radios from their cellars, and I collected a lot of electronic parts, and found I had a knack for electronics. I got some entry level jobs assembling electronics, but soon realized it wasn’t going to get me to my goal, and soon lost interest in that kind of work. In the 1970s, I realized I could build a radio transmitter. Then I launched an unlicensed radio station and enjoyed that activity because it was a multimedia-related presentation activity. I enjoyed presenting news and music to an unknown audience. But my audiophile interests caused me to see deficiencies in the equipment, so I refined and improved the designs, until one day in 1979, I realized they were comparable to commercial broadcast equipment in terms of quality. I was still working in a modem factory, having never advanced past a bench technician in all these decades, and I saw potential money in a possible product I might have in my radio gear designs. So I approached many people, and they referred me to other people, some of which were inventors. One gentlemen told me a cautionary story about an associate who had invented a type of propeller for aircraft, and how he’d went to one of the major airframe manufacturers with it, and how they stole it from him, boldly, right in front of him as he watched them talk about modifying the design. I finally contacted some patent attornies in 1982. I had, what I felt, was the beginnings of a really good invention for broadcasting. One that would bring back the dynamics and reduce the noise, by using control subcarriers to drive an expander amplifier in the receiver. I built a working prototype and wrote up fairly extensive technical documentation. I took that to a group of attornies who specialized in patent law and bringing products to market. They notarized and put on file copies of my paperwork, so there would be a record of it. But they said they could not help me, because of the extent of federal regulation. Although they felt my invention had some merit, they stated that by the time any federal agency would approve the concept for commercial use, they would not be around to receive their cut of the profits. So they would not assist me further. I next went to a slew of investors, writing everyone I could think of, or had read about in the paper—the wealthiest men in the world. Not even Rupert Murdoch saw any value in my invention. So no capital was obtained. The mid 1980s brought about the personal computer revolution. At first, I saw the word processing potential and the old 1960s bug hit me again about typesetting, this time on a PC. By the late 1980s, I had finally scraped together enough money to buy a closeout on a 8088-based PC and amber screen monitor. And I saved my money and eventually bought a copy of WordPerfect 4.2. And I enjoyed typing letters and printing them out on a daisy wheel printer. But things didn’t really get exciting until the first affordable laser printer became a part of my set of tools. Yes, now they were tools. With the laser printer, I could layout brochures and newsletters. So after mastering the software, I set out to get work. I went door to door to every business downtown in the two closest towns. I did land some work. Business cards and billheads for one furniture store owned by a woman, and some subcontracting work from another direct mail processing business in town, laying out newspaper circulars for a supermarket. The problem was that my costs of paying the printer pretty much equaled what I could charge for the typesetting. I worked for pennies an hour. The marketing firm eventually tried to stiff me when their own client didn’t pay them. I instituted my guerilla collections tactics, calling her boss, then the owner of the business, then her clients, and finally sueing her in small claims court, but then having to go so far as to call the Sheriff’s office and inquire as to what the remedies were once a judgement is defaulted on, and I relayed those to the firm in a FAX. The next day they paid off their debt with me, about $67. They had no integrity anyway. Oddly, they are still in business today, 20 years later. I’d had many ups and downs. The 1990s came, and with it, pressure to move into color prepress, as laser printers were becoming ubiquitous, and color was where the real graphic designers were making money. Through a mutual connection in the local computer club, I found a brochure catalog job for a small sports merchandising company out of Boca Raton, Florida. I pulled it off, miraculously, in CorelDraw 3, under Windows 3.0 and got the film separations right the first time. That was to be a lucky exception. The following year, a mutual friend of mine, and Japanese translator, got me in touch with a “leading” importer of anime in New York. On ‘spec’, I did up a sell sheet design for a new title they were going to release, a film about WWII Japan and two children who struggled and died in the aftermath. I saw the film, and had lots of inspiration to write the ad copy and design a different and unconvetional sell sheet. Up to now, all sell sheets were portrait orientation. Mine was laid out like a widescreen movie scene, with a scene from the movie full bleed across the page in a phantom halftone and the text laid on top of the image. Their production coordinator said it wouldn’t fly, but when we sat down in a meeting in their NYC office, the CEO liked it. And the production coordinator flipfloped and reversed his former opinion and went along with the CEO (brown-noser). I got that gig, and I worked myself hard and long to get it right. It was torturous, as I had just moved to Ventura Publisher for Windows, the first Windows version of this venerable DOS publishing software, and it had major problems handling graphics. Screen redraws literally took minutes. One can imagine how torturously slow the layout process went. But the problems carried into the film. I had many fights with the prepress service bureaus, because I’d output a file and the film would come out with missing elements, or the entire image rotated 90º, or some other unexpected errata. And it was a few hundred dollars and another day every time the film had to be redone. Eventually, QuarkXpress came to Windows and things got better. But at the same time, a new production coordinator took over, a Jewish woman who clearly did not want to get along with me. All she could do was find fault with my obviously superior work. While the other designers turned in work that contained images that were muddy and not color-corrected, and out of focus, I turned in layouts that had vivid images that were as sharp as possible for the source material they gave me to scan. But the new coordinator nit picked on really bizarre things that she should have known were the attributes of photo lithography. Eventually, she stopped sending me work, and ultimately, the CEO figured out that, instead of paying outside designers $1350 per sheet plus VHS sleeve design, he could hire $5/hr college students to work on Mac computers in-house. That was another strike against me: John hated PCs and only considered Macs to be real graphics computers. By the mid 1990s, that opportunity was dead. But a friend found a company looking for a PhotoShop designer to design faceplates for coupon dispensing kiosks. I interviewed and got the job. I thought I had finally come upon my lucky “big break”. The paychecks started rolling in and I was earning more in a single day, than I did at my old job in a full week. The job involved laying out color ads in PhotoShop, based on sketches on tissue paper that one of their staff designers made from interviews with clients. This worked well. Each morning, I’d drive the hour to Westport and pick up 8 or 10 jobs, drive back to the studio and crank out the work on my souped up 486-50 with a beta test graphics accelerator card, which gave me an almost unfair production advantage. Their staff of 3-4 designers cranked out about 12-15 faceplates a day. I, working alone, cranked out 10 a day and my quality was almost flawless. The assignments kept flowing and I began to believe that it would be possible for me to one day buy my own home. But then the paychecks started being late. Then not at all. Repeated requests to find out what the delays were were met by stonewalling. The typical excuses. “The Comptroller is in Rhode Island and can’t be reached,” and other excuses. One day, while waiting in their lobby to see the person that hired me about the day’s assignments, I noticed that a sheriff walked in and went to see the CEO. I had learned that he was getting divorced, so I shrugged it off as having no bearing on the company’s ability to pay. I had racked up $6400 in unpaid invoices by now, and was becoming concerned as 3 weeks had now passed without a check. Then they dropped the bombshell. I got a notice from some court, that they were filing for bankruptcy. This was the one time my guerilla tactics failed me. I knew that it was a Delaware corporation, so I called up the State of Delaware and told them I was calling from the state of Connecticut—apparently they thought I was literally calling from a state government, and they gave me the CEO’s home address and contact info without any further questions. Serendipity, I suppose, due to confusion in communication. So I wrote a demand letter to the CEO. He eventually called me. We had a 45 minute discussion. He told me he had $800 left to his name, as the divorce took everything. He explained that he tried to get a $500,000 bridge loan to keep the company afloat, but when K-mart pulled out, the whole house of cards toppled. Their clients? Mainly Bradlee’s and K-Mart. We all know what happened to them. My anger turned to compassion, and I wished him the best and ended my collection attempt. See? I’m not a monster after all. By the later half of the 1990s, I started up my unlicensed radio station again, which had been dormant for about 20 years. It started to become somewhat popular. Using AOL chat, people would IM me asking if this was a radio station, to which I’d reply affirmatively and tell them where on the dial to tune in. I had about a dozen known listeners who would e-mail the station. It was an all Japanese anime format. But I knew that exercising my 1st amendment rights and using Ayn Rand’s principle of taking a portion of unused, valueless spectrum and generating a useful RF signal gave me the moral right to use that spectrum. Broadcasting went on for several years. Eventually, a met another broadcaster who worked for the local radio station on AOL. We struck up a fast friendship (we both had clandestined radio interests in our spare time) and he introduced me to a radio station broker, who owns several stations in New England. He had been impressed with the quality of my audio, as heard on his FM receiver, 30 miles away, and one day a field trip was arranged for them to come to my place and see the operation. That led to my first engineering job in broadcasting. A legendary AM station in Mount Kisco was in need of an engineer, and this broker, using his reputation, recommended me. No one asked if I had even had a license. They just hired me as a contract engineer. This radio engineering business was the closest thing to lucrative, since the last graphic design client went bankrupt. I managed about $20/hr and commuted all over the place. A few more stations were added to my client list, thanks to this Liberal philanthropic gentleman, who also became a good friend to me. For a few years, I had fairly steady work. At least 1-2 days a week, and sometimes a studio construction project would happen and I’d be involved, in which case I’d work for 5 days a week. I was always glad when those projects finished, because the daily commute was wearing me down and I was so fatigued that getting up in the morning and staying awake on the long commutes was a difficult challenge. I can only thank the genius who invented the buzz lanes along the shoulders of our highways—I have dozed and drifted into the shoulder, only to have the loud BUZZ wake me up in time to avoid hitting the gardrail. But after 2002, radio work declined. The use of PCs and minidisc players replaced cart machines and turntables and with it, the regular maintenance. I was also growing tired of this kind of work. But it was a good 8 years, about the longest I have stuck with any job. Today, I realize that I need to be in a business where I’m in control, where I don’t have a daily commute, and where I’m doing activities that are refreshing, multimedia-related and utilize my full skillset in that field. For too long, I have worked in limited, narrow capacities, and boredom was the result. When I shot that orchestral concert, I was reminded in spades that I was alive and actually enjoying my work. I had not experienced that, ever, except maybe a little bit with the PhotoShop faceplate project, but it was probably the big income that caused me to think that I liked the grueling work and rush-rush schedule demands. Shooting the orchestra was, for me, almost relaxing and very therapeutic. I have been trying to break into video in stages, since 1987, because in parallel with my DTP activities, I had invested in, with money from a relative, a graphics workstation, based on a the first truecolor 24-bit graphics card from AT&T Labs. I had also purchased one, and then a year later, another used color video camera. Then a VTR, and a live effects switcher. I was into linear editing, and it was tedious, but I saw the potential, and knew that somehow, I had to get into this business. But the quality of the equipment wasn’t good enough then. Today is a different story. My finished work on DVD looks better than what comes in over digital TV broadcasts. It rivals many DVDs mastered from film. And it’s easy to compare things on a four foot screen, because every flaw sticks out with embarassing clarity. What’s crazy is that I now have the HDTV bug. I see the potential in HDV, and I have a silly ambition to somehow raise $60,000 so I can buy three HDV cameras, a new editing PC, and professional DVD authoring software for Blu-ray and HD DVD disc production. Yup, it’s that insatiable drive to own and control impressive new technology. I keep having this crazy belief that if I can produce the best looking and sounding product out there, that I should be able to get the work. But getting a job in a company that does this.. well the problem is that I don’t live in Los Angeles or Seattle. There is very little corporate anything around here. In fact, corporations have been fleeing Connecticut since 1989, due to bad government regulatory and tax policies. The only industry that is currently booming is the home construction industry. New houses are going up in alarming numbers. And yet, Connecticut bled 13,000 residents last year. Makes me wonder how long before housing construction goes bust, with no one moving into Connecticut… Phil: What can I say? I’ve no shame, and it would do me no good to be dishonest, so why not tell the whole story as it is, and risk the possibility that someone will come forth with a thought that resonates with me so strongly that it changes my psychology? I didn’t really work out of anything. After I lost my job and was forced into early retirement, due to a nervous breakdown/suicide attempt, I spent some time hospitalized and under therapy, which was ineffective. I was out of work so long that I became ineligable for SS benefits. And when my father passed on, I inherited the house, a real mess. He hadn’t been able to do much with it after mom died ten years earlier. I never would have been able to afford this place on my own. Ironically, I helped him to build it. And now I am completely rebuilding it, from the foundation up, as the foundation is the only thing that doesn’t need demolishing. But I moved from sleeping in my car to inhabiting this house again (yes, I was one of those losers who lived at home on and off ‘til I was 50) and finally having some creature comforts. And now I am effectively earning the right to this house, by virtue of having torn sections of it down, and completely rebuilding it, room by room. Too bad I’m not earning $$$. But the place is built on a wetland and there are things he buried in the back yard that I won’t discuss publicly, but which would come to light in any transfer of ownership with ensueing inspections and testing. I’ve looked into selling, a few years back when the taxes quadrupled, but was told that only a builder might consider it, but then some builders told me they would not gamble on this lot because Wetlands could deny them a building permit due to the fact that a pond and stream runs within 150’ of the farthest corner of this property, thus making 100% of the land unusable for building homes. So I gave up on any hope of selling and coming out with enough money to buy somewhere else. So I’m still here. There is SOME market for wedding videographers, but it is very competitive. The two wedding gigs I got were because of friends of my wife, and the first gig came after four years of me volunteering to tape Filipino cultural dances that my wife often participated in. We’d put the result on DVD-R media and do up a professional looking package and sell them for $12 each at the next meeting of the association. We’d sell 10-20 copies of Spring Dance every year, and when it came time for one of the families to wed their daughter, my wife knew them well enough to get an interview with them. I was able to sell them on my services, amazingly, and I had never shot a wedding before. They had seen my professional looking dance videos for four years though. When I got the gig, I scoured the internet, and studied sample videos by all the best wedding videographers—the guys that charged $10,000 per wedding shoot, and I distilled the basic ideas and implemented them into my own shooting and production. The end result turned out wonderful. The client was happy, I got paid, and then two years later, another friend of my wife’s is getting married and we used the first wedding DVD as an example of our work and they liked it and hired us for an upcoming July wedding. But we only know so many people. Weddings are a grueling business. It’s nerve-wracking because you have one chance to get it right, and you can’t be late, delayed, in a traffic accident or sick on the day of the wedding or you could be sued by the client. But I have been able to handle the first wedding, and I am confident I’ll do even better on the next one. But I’d love to shoot TV commercials. I think it would be fun to shoot a movie as well. I’ve been trying to do that for four years, but none of my friends want to be involved. So I have no actors or volunteers. I have some half-finished fiction novels that I’ve been working on since 1985, and one story that could potentially be a good film, but with no one showing interest in doing an indie film, and too many domestic urgencies to take care of, I have had to focus on videography that generates income. That’s why I applied at Crews-Control, because I saw a system in place whereby someone else lines up the gigs and I would be a subcontractor. But their requirements are steep and really only practical for people who have been able to study this in college and apprentice in a corporate environment and eventually get a job doing that. That would take a minimum of 15 years, assuming I had the fifty grand for tuition to get into school. I’d probably spend ten years saving up the money, then, 25 years later, I’d be most like long dead and forgotten. This is a career path for young people who are going to be alive and healthy for at least 20 more years. My personality has been a problem ever since childhood. Being a social outcast only made things worse as I got older. I’m frankly surprised I didn’t turn into an axe murderer, given the way things have gone over the years. My social interaction problem is one of awkwardness with meeting people in-person. They’re probably thinking “who’s this psycho, anyway?” I only do okay when a mutual friend introduces me. On my own, I have no credibility. I may not have several years to start at the bottom of this ladder. I should have started forty years ago, but I was too focused on my romantic failures back then. Now that my libido has all but vanished (the other reason my wife calls me “useless”), I really don’t care about that aspect of life today, but do have a fetish for high tech gear. And OWNING high tech gear. It’s never fun when the gear belongs to someone else. But here I stand today, realizing that I fucked up, absolutely and totally and, like playing a real lousy chess game, I stand, in check, with the enemy queen about to deal the final checkmate to me. I’m just a feeble old man now, and, despite my doggedness toward my impossible dream, reality tells me I’m so far past my prime that I really have no right to expect to do much more with my life. I’ve had my chance, and I blew it. My curse, in my younger years, was having the libido of a playboy, but not the social skills of one. Thanks for the good wishes. James: Lots of people hit a ‘rough patch’ in life. That’s normal. My whole life has been a ‘rough patch’ though. That’s where things depart from normal. I came from a poor family. We were forced out of one house by a sewer assessment my father could not afford. It was almost a year’s pay, and it was mandatory. We were escorted out of that house by a sheriff and some police, a whole bunch of them. That started me off early in life, with a healthy dislike for government. As I was starting to say, I was born in a poor family. We had no money for college. I had so many problems in school that I was expelled. I had learning difficulties, and extreme social problems. And I had to get a job when I turned 18 and from that day forward, I worked whatever job I could find. I’d worked many jobs, few of which I could stand for more than five years at one duty. I stagnated everywhere I worked. No promotions, no raises. I was desparately unhappy, physically uncomfortable (it was always too hot in these places) and the work was unfulfilling as it was completely unrelated to my interests. Like the song goes, “a rich man goes to college, and a poor man goes to work,” indeed. So no opportunity for me. With my basket case social skills, I was barely able to get a regular job, much less run a business. But that didn’t stop me from trying. Yes, like you, I had a lot of periods where I felt sick. I developed ulcers and a nervous condition that caused chronic diarhrea that went on for more than 20 years. It didn’t stop until I left the corporate rat race. My health immediately improved after I resigned from my last employment situation. The nervous condition abated and I was able to eat normally for the first time I can remember since childhood. I don’t want to ever give up that freedom; that stress was a living hell. If I didn’t have the property tax issue hanging over my head, I’d say I was doing pretty well. I don’t want a job. I want a fulfilling business venture. I’ve had my fill of working for others at starvation wages and no appreciation for my efforts. This whole ‘rant’ was triggered by a sinking feeling that I get whenever a prospect rejects me because I am not in their league. I guess it’s a culmination of many things all pressing me at once. My situation seems to recall a poem by Robert Frost: “The woods are lovely dark and deep, but I have promises to keep. And miles to go before I sleep.”
  11. What does it mean to be truly talentless? What does it mean to be so socially inept, that nearly every encounter with another human being results in the making of a new enemy, instead of a friend? What does it mean to be so uncreative as to not see any opportunity in failure? What does it mean when you read many books, but your fundamental approach to living remains unchanged? What does it mean to be a slow learner, to be always the last one to “get the joke”, to be unable to grasp mathematics, or how to diagram a sentence—despite years of receiving tutoring as an adult? What does it mean to be desparately unhappy with your “lot in life” as a manual laborer, or unskilled worker, since that is the only job you ever held because of your inability to get good grades in school? What does it mean to be born a “Vincent” but always try to cheat life and pretend to be a “Jerome” (referring to the movie Gattaca, in which successful positions in society depend on your genetics)? What does it mean to be a second-hander, because you’ve never had an original thought in your entire life, and always react to situations, rather than control them? What does it mean to read self-help books and realize that you are the person being described in those books as the person who cannot be successful? What does it mean when a person, so unsuccessful at anything of importance in modern society, is driven to cheat, steal and use deception to get a little of what he cannot get otherwise? To become a con artist, but a rather poor one? What does it mean to be such a failure, that even your past attempts at suicide were all failures? What does it mean to sink into deep depression when one’s best attempts to get honest work are rejected for not being “good enough” or not having enough experience in the realm of interest that the prospective hiring agency, or not having expensive enough equipment to meet some arbitrary standards of the hiring agency? What does it mean when one can’t earn enough money to pay the property taxes one’s own home? What does it mean to become homeless because no one would give you that first chance, or that opportunity to gain the experience decades ago that would give you the resume you needed today to get the gig you really wanted? What does it mean to be an old, slow learner, a dinosaur, cast aside by society, left to the Home of the Old and the Useless? What does it mean to wrest Heaven by force, to marry a foreign girl much younger than yourself, when no domestic girl would even date you for the past sixty years, but further, to bring a child into the world because you are so afraid of being the last link in your family lineage? What of that need to feel some vicarious sense of immortality through birthing a child, to carry on your bloodline? What does it mean when you can’t think your way out of a paper bag, much less the current mess you find yourself in now? When no cognitive activity has ever taken place in your brain for your entire lifetime? When you have not had an innovative or problem-solving idea in all your professional career, if you could call it that? What if your life is one, big, huge contradiction? You must earn money because you are being taxed. You need to eat. Your child needs to eat, needs toys, entertainment, social life, etc. But you, too, need tangible things that affirm that life is worth living, not a drudgery of economic slavery on multiple low-wage jobs just to keep the tax man from slaughtering you wholesale. You need to GAIN, to make PROGRESS, to ADVANCE. But what if all you can do is barely hang on? And all the while, you see the trend, that you will drown soon, because the debt tide is rising and your strength –your will to accomplish --is waning, due to a lifelong reinforcement of failure after failure. This is the blunt, frank and honest situation that I live with daily. It seems no matter how many books I read (currently reading “The Prime Movers” by Edwin Locke), I’m too set in my ways to grasp a way of changing in the concrete sense. I’m so concrete bound in fact that I think I’m as dumb as a brick. I can’t spot a trend, nor have a clue as to what to do about finding a market niche. I’m not happy bagging groceries at the local supermarket. I want and have always dreamed of a better life. A life of owning a big house, most any electronic gadget I can imagine, and being free to travel, pursue hobbies, write stories, play with high tech gadgets, etc. The reality is that in the 22 years since my retirement from the direct employment world, every attempt at a business venture has failed. In Locke’s book, he has a table of attributes, comparing the successful visionary to the concrete bound slug. As I read that table, I realized that I fit into every attribute on the right-hand column—the attributes of a slug, a non-producer. One who can’t see ahead and make rational predictions, who can’t see an opportunity in a setback, who can’t plan effectively or identify business reality accurately. I think that I may be so far from identifying reality that I am functionally and clinically insane. I live by my own rules. Unfortunately, doing so has had the side effect that I haven’t earned positive business gross income for the past three years. I suppose a rational person would happily stick it out at Wal-Mart every day, earning his minimum wage and paying his tax bill. But me, I want to enjoy the good life in my “golden years”, not face the reality that most seniors deal with by taking on jobs and shoving their pride and their dreams down some bottomless pit. I want to live the dream that I could never afford to live while I was still young and viable as a human being. When I do think about reality, I see the very real possibility that I will have a fatal heart attack while rebuilding this house, a project which has been going on for four years, and which I am about halfway through. Why in heck would I do the work myself anyway? I have no choice. Had I done nothing, the entire roof would have collapsed and we would have been forced to sleep in our car. Why not hire a contractor? Because of the few that even bothered to visit the site and estimate the job, I was told absurd figures of $170,000. So I do the work myself. But it doesn’t put money in my pocket, so it means that every day spent in this rebuilding emergency is a day I cannot earn money that can go toward the taxes. And it adds up really quick. In three years’ time, I’ve managed to rack up more in back taxes and interest and lien fees than I’ve earned in my entire lifetime. I remember when electricity cost a dollar or two a month, and gasolene was ten cents a gallon. Now I’m accumulating electric bills at a rate of $416/month and gasolene is $3.23 for regular now. But my income has only gone down. My last client relationship ended with a refusal to pay a contractual fee. I have since used my guerilla collection tactics on them and forced their owner, by blackmail, to pay off the contract, but that relationship is permanently destroyed. It was already destroyed when they chose to ignore me rather than honor their contract with me, so it’s no further loss anyway. But the ugliness of how it went, the methods I had to resort to in order to collect. I’m good at intimidating non-paying clients, but my methods are unfortunately, illegal, hence there is no practical business opportunity for me to make an honest living at collections either (not that I’d want to even start a business collecting for others). So what brought on this sour tirade? A culmination of things. The realization that I’m “worthless”. My wife even calls me that, verbatim. “Worthless.” Why? Because others in a position to hire me see no value in what I have to offer. People see no credibility in me, so my ability to sell them on anything is nil. That’s why I failed so utterly and completely at Primerica. And other businesses don’t trust a stranger. I’m trying to push really hard to break into the videography business. I’ve been trying to get into that business since 1987. So far, no corporation has given me a chance to prove my abilities, so I am still stuck with no portfolio and no resume. The “chicken and egg” syndrome. I learned recently that the only way to break into a field, such as movies, is to go to college. If you want to be a camera operator and work for a movie director, you need to go to film school and make friends with someone who is majoring in directing. Then, when you both graduate, if you played your cards well, you may have a good rapport with this director-major when he or she becomes a real movie director, and then you have a job. But that’s a very long path. In the 1980s, I was struggling to build a color prepress graphic design business. I wrote to every ad agency in the US, offering my services to design and layout advertizing. Every agency that responded (only 2% response rate) turned down my offer to work for them, stating that they have a full in-house art staff. Later, I approached ad agencies about producing TV commercials. Pretty much the same response—they don’t outsource because they have their own TV studios and produce everything themselves. Lately, several experiences I had have made it clear to me that my one area where I DO have some practical ability is in shooting, editing video, and authoring DVDs. At least in situations where I have full creative control. The problem was I’m the best-kept secret in my part of the world. No one knows I exist. Because I have no talent for winning friends and influencing people. My personality is, admittedly, that of a grouchy old man. I’m critical of people, thanks to Objectivism, and speak my mind without a soft elocution, or an ability to couch my words in cotton. So I wanted to push harder in the direction of video and sound, based on my ephiphany. Back in January, I read an article in Costco’s magazine that members get, and it featured an article on a small firm that hires contract videographers. “BINGO!” I thought. My problems with partnering up are solved by going to work for this firm. I wrote them in January, but they ignored my e-mail. My electronic receipt indicated that my mail had been deleted without being read. In reviewing my marketing efforts, I came across that e-mail again and so I resent it, with a foreword stating that I had sent this in January. I got a reply this time, but attached was a document of their requirements. It was impossible for all but the most well-established corporations to comply. They wanted 10 years of corporate experience, certain models of cameras that each cost more than a new BMW, solid references, and a demo reel of corporate shoots that won awards. None of which I have been able to manage in the preceding 20 years. Because no one would give me a foot in the door. How the heck are you supposed to acquire experience if no one will give you a contract? Forty years ago, people just said, “Be patient” and “do what you love and the money will come”. Today I sit here realizing that my hourglass is down to the last few grains of sand, and I still have no retirement fund, my wife literaly supports us, barely, on her meager subsistence wages, as I struggle to repair the house so it won’t fall down on top of us, and struggle with ways to make a living. I don’t want to die, leaving my wife and daughter with an astronomical tax debt. I don’t want to end up like Ed Brown, who is currently having a standoff, militia style, with the IRS and law enforcement. I think I want to be wealthy enough to have the things I want, and to be able to leave a comfortable lifestyle to my wife and daughter when I am gone. I don’t want to die like my father before me, with a debt larger than the sum total of all his lifetime earnings. I foolishly keep trying to find the right “gig”, so I can achieve psychological fulfillment as an entrepreneur, control over my own life, and efficacy from self-achievement. Decade after decade passes, and I look back and realize that I have not advanced by even one small increment. I must be mentally-retarded in order to be this inept at everything I do in the business world. In that sense it makes me a winner in terms of being the lowest of the losers… I am minisculy proud of one small achievement however: unlike my parents, I have not collected welfare.
  12. Frankly, this "global warming" is great. The warmer it is in winter, the less I depend on oil, which is rapidly becoming out of financial reach. So bring on the global warming. I want 70 degrees F in January. And February. And March...
  13. Thank you. It was inspired by a Spanish performance I saw on YouTube last year. I spent a whole week of evenings on it, tweaking the registrations, adding layers of MIDI controllers and patch changes to provide the wide range of tonal colors you hear in the finished production. Initially, I was trying to duplicate the Spanish performance, but about halfway through, I said to heck with that--I'm going to arrange it the way my mind's ear wanted to hear it--my vision of how it should sound. By the time I was done with it, I found myself actually ENJOYING the finished result. 'Glad you enjoyed it too.
  14. Having produced the organ soundtrack last week, loosely-based on the Lemare Transcription, I decided to put it on some of the video sites. I needed some visuals, so what better than to use images of the organ these samples were collected from. The sample set is sold as Post Organ Toolkit. I have tweaked and adjusted several of the samples for even more realistic performance. Played on the Kurzweil K2600RS, these sounds are incredible. Listen to the recording on a very high end set of loudspeakers, or a high end set of headphones and the experience is rich, sonorous and detailed. As so, we have this compilation of visuals, set to the music as I arranged and performed it: Camille Saint-saëns’ “Danse Macabre”: Enjoy!
  15. I fear for future generations of rational people, for the irrational populations are the ones multiplying at the fastest rate, and, yes, soon rational culture will be obliterated by sheer numbers. It was said on the radio last week, that the new Islamic goal is not the violent overthrow of America by terrorism, but the infiltration of its government by Islamic people, through the influx of large numbers of Islamic people. This is a war that will be won by attrition; American rationalists will be overtaken by Islamic fundamentalists. We see the trial balloons already, with inroads into our political system. Objectivists, more than any other group, need to multiply their numbers as fast as possible. While every one has a right to their own selfish interest, I see no harm in taking steps to ensure a ration world exists for our children.
  16. Jan 7 2007, 03:01 AM Very recently, I put my name in the hat, so to speak, to have a chance to bid on a video shoot and production job, working for the bicentennial committee of a nearby town. The project was to be an historical video about the town and would be broadcast on PBS and possibly some local television stations. This would involve interviewing some of the oldest residents of the town, who could recall things, historically, that were not contemporary knowledge, in addition to shooting footage of landmarks. A large percentage would simply be interviews and people describing the history, what their ancestors who settled the town, did, in a sort of anecdotal format. The budget for this video was $40,000. Being as I was both camera operator, lighting technical specialist and video editor, I stood to take home a substantial portion of that budget. We only needed a friendly “people person” to conduct the interviews and perhaps a director who could choreograph the overall timing and pace of the program. Things were looking pretty good for a while. The potential client, a woman who had formed the bicentennial commission, stated that she felt my qualifications were super-adequate for this project and was impressed with my demo reel (mostly footage of a symphony orchestra and possibly some footage from some other small projects I had worked on). For a couple of months, she said that they were in the process of putting together the funding and scheduling interviews and gaining permissions to shoot in various locations. They had secured $40,000 from a sponsoring bank and things looked very good. Then very recently, I got my demo DVD back in the mail along with a letter, which basically stated that it was a hard choice to make, but choosing to reject a candidate (me) was what they had chosen to do, in favor of hiring a videographer from California, because their panel had liked what he had done with a video production he created on teen smoking. Needless to say, with an increasing financial crisis on my hands, and realizing that a few tens of thousands of dollars would provide needed relief from the ‘wolves at my door’, I was rather disappointed. But I began to wonder… what if my friend were correct—what if I were just a good “technician” but not a creative individual with vision and the ability to tell emotionally-moving stories with video? Perhaps the technically wonderful rendering of the Danbury Symphony Orchestra was fine, but didn’t provide the kind of whiz-bang emotional punch that potential clients want to see before they become clients. But this has been a “chicken or the egg” problem for nearly 20 years. Since 1987, I have been trying to get video production work. When I first started the first video business I ventured into, that year, I called up many small businesses. Twenty years later, the only video I’ve shot was a bunch of volunteer shoot events, mostly cultural dance, an international fashion show at Foxwood’s Resort and Casino, and a paid shoot of a wedding. I shot the New York International Auto Show in 2002 and thought I could make money selling the DVDs on eBay. I sold exactly two. For $1.99 each. And to get those two sales, I had to do a lot of relisting. That came at a price of about $25 in eBay listing fees over several months. What I’d really like to do is record symphony orchestras. I serve as webmaster for one such orchestra and a couple years ago, I made an earnest attempt to interest them in doing a video shoot. They were open to the idea, seeing as their 60th anniversary was coming up the following year. But there was a union involved, and all these copyright laws and that’s where things fell apart. We might be able to shoot certain parts, but perhaps not the soloists, as they had recording contracts in other parts of the world. The orchestra would have to vote on it, and then they would want a piece of the action, etc. I countered with “why don’t we just make a historical library video, not something for sale?” It met with opposition from everyone ranging from the stage manager to the orchestra chair. The following year, I got the bright idea to record a large church organ, so I called up the largest cathedral in Connecticut—the one that the great Berj Zamkochian had played several times in the early 1960s. Initially, this endeavor was looking promising. The then-assistant music director they had was enthusiastic about the idea and even invited me to the cathedral where he gave me a very close and personal demonstration of the Austin organ. It was a fascinating experience for me. Throughout the summer of that year, I was slowly trying to work out the details of some sort of recording session. What type of pieces would we include in the recital that would both compliment the instrument itself and be musically significant to record and release as a commercial CD? I spoke briefly with the music director, a rather cold-mannered gentleman from Argentina, who had spent a lot of time in Eastern Europe during his musical career. He had that cold indifference of someone from Romania or Russia. When the assistant music director resigned, I’d lost my one ally in this deal-making process, and it seems all interest was lost in doing the recording. I still want to do this, but perhaps I will have to find another church with comparable instrument and acoustics. I have been pursuing my dream career for decades now, but it seems that my stubborn stick-to-itiveness has only managed to run me into the poorhouse. To think, I could have been making a steady minimum-wage income at Wal-Mart or McDonald’s, instead of doggedly pursuing my goals and dreams. It irks me so that it seems that for the bulk of people, the miserable work-a-day grind, under the constant looming threat of layoffs, is the only viable option for generating income. My wife wanted me to try SMC, an online marketing system where we’d put up a web site selling goods imported from China. But then, wouldn’t we be in competition with thousands of other people who bought into the same program? I didn’t see the point in throwing $350 at a startup with that company, and much more to get the merchant account/web site up and running and hiring a programmer to build the back end server stuff for us. After digging around Google, I found some people that were doing similar types of business, importing worthless trinkets from China and selling them online. One person said he made about $45/week in sales. No, not $4,500. Just $45. Not to mention the fact that I have no interest whatsoever in running an import sales business. So I’m left with the riddle to solve: I love building custom sound systems, recording acoustic music performances, shooting and editing video and creating 3D models and animating them. But so do 10,000 other people fifty years younger than me and with a lot more energy and ambition. What to do? It’s tough being a dinosaur in a modern age. But increasingly, I am beginning to realize that this is exactly the way things are. By the time I learn a new skill and acquire the money to obtain the tools to do the job well, ten years have passed and the entire market for the service I am just then ready to deliver with competence—is gone. Too little, too late. Not to self: Remember to put that on my tombstone.
  17. Dec 30 2006, 08:49 PM Being out in the field, in shopping malls, supermarkets and warehouse stores, I am frequently prospecting for people to join in the financial services business that I am in. People make business move, and so there is a strong emphasis on recruiting new people with a passion to break out of the dead-end job they’re in, but who are also motivated to achieve for themselves and their families. This past week has been increasingly frustrating though, as nearly every person that I have spoken to has handed me back my business card and said “no thanks”. It’s alarming, the number of near-minimum wage workers who are so indoctrinated in the school of thought that “this is it for me—this is all I can expect to do with my life” and who aren’t even of the mindset to consider stepping out of the mold and persuing their future financial goals in a big way. When I get my card handed back to me, I think, “this person is really stuck—they don’t get it and it’s sad that when they’re 65, they’ll probably still be working at a similar job”. Maybe one of those people will recall the day I handed them my business card and offered them an opportunity to change their life forever, and maybe they might be wondering if they had not been so stubborn and closed-minded, would they be relaxing on their own yacht now, instead of working a cash register and realizing that they will be doing so until they drop dead. It’s a challenge to break though such mindsets, when you have at best, maybe 15 seconds to make your pitch in a busy environment like a retail store. I’ve been with Primerica now for 8-1/2 months, and have been actively recruiting since July. That involved speaking with my friends, and talking to anyone that I come in contact with in business and at social events. We have solutions that many folks can use to their advantage, yet I have difficulty understanding why these folks are so unwilling to take a step that can put them on a path to being debt-free. One cashier lady I spoke with this evening said she was too poor for financial services. So I mentioned the business opportunity side of it and her response was that she works all the time at this checkout stand and has no time to do anything else. It becomes clear to me that such people are stuck in their familiar “comfort zone” and fear the unexpected, or the falsely-expected as part of changing the path they’re on. The pain of living in that rattrap aparment just isn’t quite bad enough to make a change and they don’t quite hate their job enough to summon the resolve to do something about it. This is the complacency trap that middle America is entrenched in. It’s tragic for two reasons: it makes my job of finding motivated people who believe that they can have a better life outside of a dead-end job much more difficult, and it has the obvious result that the majority of Americans are going to be trapped in the circle of poverty, as taxes, energy costs and inflation far outstrip their 2% annual wage increases. What do do about these people? Only a Dale Carnegie may know the answer…
  18. Dec 11 2006, 09:11 PM I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately, in the process of trying to solve my income problems. I’ve run across a number of fascinating articles. Some of which are rather disheartening, others, conventional wisdom. I’ll discuss a bit about what I learned. Also, I have some theories about poverty, crime and drug abuse, and how people get that way. First, the statistics that are eye-openers: 69% of wealth is inherited. 4% of wealth is acquired through marriage. the remaining 27% is obtained through criminal activity. Less than 0.0000047% is attributed to real innovation or talent. Only about 380 people in America have obtained wealth through their own unborrowed vision. Most people with good ideas end up losing their idea to some huge company that steals it and doesn’t compensate them fairly, or at all. Since it costs about $1,500,000 to litigate a patent infringment suit, the small time inventor is left unable to protect his ideas. Often times, once the inventor does manage a suit, the company that has stolen the idea will make dozens or hundreds of times in profit, what the court will award the inventor in compensation. Another surpising statistic: 89% of the wealth obtained through crime was by government and corporate bigwigs. Senators and congressmen, CEOs, CFOs, etc. Only about 10.9% of wealth obtained through crime was by the “poster boys” of crime, the organized criminals, drug gangs, etc. Getting independantly wealthy is defined by having investment income that meets or exceeds your expenses. To have a modest investment income, you need to have a couple million dollars in income-producing investments. The barrier is to achieve enough income to produce that wealth. Most of the means to get rich are a matter of luck and as such, the odds very slim to none. The lottery, slot machines, even the stock market, or having a hit single on the top 40 charts. Or writing a best selling novel. But there are thousands of unpublished novelists for ever novelist who is published. And about one in five hundred novelists ever achieve wealth through writing. The practical approach to wealth has barriers too. That approach is to get a job paying over $100,000/year, and investing 20% of the earnings in high-yield investments for ten years. One article I read says that you will achieve $1,000,000 in value by doing that. The problem is that $100,000 jobs are hard to get. Especially if you cannot afford to pay for the education that many of them require. Doctor, lawyer, architect, etc. Not to mention that it helps if your talents and natural interests lie in a field where there is money to be made. Many people are trapped in poverty because that’s the way things shake out, statistically. Society makes life harder for the poor by design. The IRS in fact audits the working poor far more stringently than the wealthy. Some wealthy can get away with “tax cheating” and the IRS looks the other way—the richer the tax evader, the more the IRS leaves them alone. This is what I read. Take it with a grain of salt. But in many areas of life, the law seems to present problems for the poor. In New Jersey, for instance, many poor cannot afford auto insurance, so they take their chances and drive to work without it, until they get caught and their license is suspended. Then things snowball into a downward spiral and they either become homeless, or resort to criminal activity to put bread on the table. America is one of the hardest-working nations in the world. We work more hours, have less vacation time and have less job security that most of the European nations, according to another study I read across several money-specific magazines. We also carry close to 7 trillion dollars in credit card debt. An alarming number of families are buying groceries on credit these days because they lack the cash to feed their families. Still more people are working and collecting welfare because they remain below the poverty level. Many people cannot afford the things that make life worth living. Their existence becomes a drudge, working 2-3 jobs, commuting, fighting traffic, road rage, late for work because of accident delays, bad work environment, demanding bosses, ever more demands placed on a decreasing number of employees, demanding more productivity, while incomes decrease, spending power decreases and standard of living falls to levels far below where America was in the 1950s. People can only take so much of that existence. Children see their parents rarely, and when they do, they’re always exhausted, angry or worried about finances. The rest of the time, they’re pressured to study hard so they can have the lifestyle their parents have. What lifestyle? It hardly surprises me that in this world, where the government has us all tied up as economic slaves, when we’re too poor to afford a decent place to live, and the things that affirm that life is worth living, that when base existence is a living hell, those kids resort to escapes from this hell through narcotics. If life were worth living, there would be no need for escape in the form of altered consciousness through artificial means. Poor kids huff pain fumes, glue, etc. The kids with connections get the pot, heroin and cocaine. The more ambitious ones become career criminals, stealing and defrauding to obtain the cash to support their habits. Much of this is tragic, because a better growing up environment would alleviate the need to use drugs to achieve relief from the hellish existence of poverty. Many of us already believe that government is largely to blame for a lot of the problems that poverty is a part of. But free enterprise is no guarantee that the less gifted will succeed well enough to live comfortably. However, if the government’s burden on people were not so great as it is today, I think even the less gifted will be able to live comfortably on what they are capable of earning. I knew a Romanian businessman who did a spreadsheet in 1987, which was a very deep analysis of the cost of taxation and inflation as taxation, on the average American at that time. His calculations included not only the obvious overt taxes, but also the taxes passed to consumers by business, the hidden taxes that show up in the form of government fees and mandatory auto insurance, inflation as a tax, taxes on utilities, etc., and his spreadsheet concluded that the total tax rate on all Americans is about 92%. No wonder people earning $100,000 annual salaries are racking up debt just to buy basic necessities, such as a home. They have only about $8000 of discretionary income! I got to thinking that if there were no taxes at all, millions of Americans would be able to live a prosperous lifestyle. Even on $17,000 a year of wages, one could afford to buy a basic home for cash in ten years, if one saved aggressively and lived an austere lifestyle during that savings period. Live on $2000-3000 and bank the other $14,000 in high yield investments. If there were no taxes to pay. However, the reality of it is that one may be paying $15,000/year in property taxes to their town government, plus about 40% of their salary income in federal, state and local taxes, and social insecurity and unemployment taxes. Then the taxes on everything we buy and use add up substantially. Finally, inflation robs us of our buying power, so that by the time we save any money, it’s value is less than it was when saving began. That $170,000 home is now $495,000. Kinda’ puts the carrot on the stick just a little too far away now, doesn’t it? An interesting anecdote was related to me the other day at a Primerica training session. We had a rep from MetLife give a talk on a certain kind of annuity that our companies teamed up to create, and he was talking about the influence of inflation on retirement funds. He related this story and I’ll paraphrase it as follows: Thirty years ago, his parents bought a home for $38,000. Last year, he bought a new pickup truck for $42,000. Today, a starter home like his parents’ now goes for $250,000 at the least. Projecting this trend thirty years into the future, he predicted that a Honda Civic, if they’re making such a car by then, will cost $250,000 and a new starter home? He didn’t say, but if I do the quick math… $4,500,000? So if you’re retiring in thirty years, having a couple million saved up by then is pocket change. Enough to buy a car, but not much else. Better to have ten or fifteen million dollars by age 65, because you’re all going to need that much in the economy of that decade. As for me, my personal financial needs assessement says I have to put aside $5500/month for my retirement, if I bump my retirement off another 20 years past when I actually retired, and pretend I’ve stepped back into a time machine. One thing I have been gaining awareness of is the power of compounded interest. Primerica’s training has taught me a lot about how fast money grows in various investments, and from what I can see, if you have a normal income of say, $60,000 annual, you should be able to invest 20% of that and accumulate a small fortune in 20-30 years. Part of the trick is to manage taxes carefully, and there are numerous strategies for this. Not everyone is fortunate enough to have a good paying job. Some of us work in factories, or the local Wal-Mart, of at gas stations working the cash register. Some of us shovel pig dung on a farm for minimum wage. Even if the home has no mortgage, just trying to keep up with the taxes on such wages is a losing battle. And these scenarios are best-case—barring any accidents, illness or other unforseen tragedies that could bankrupt one. Most American middle class families, according to one of the major news organizations, are one paycheck away from foreclosure or eviction. There is a rising tide of middle class families who are spending their first night in a homeless shelter because the breadwinner was laid off from his job. It’s not just bums, emotionally ill and drug addicts anymore. Our whole society is so hooked on credit, with the average family carrying $8500 in credit card debt, $160,000 in mortgage debt, and some really unfortunate souls who got suckered into A.R.M.s which are now resetting this year to, often double the minimum payments. Lots of folks were sold a bill of goods when these first appeared and it looked like the holy grail for middle class folks wanting that dream home. “Wow, you mean I can borrow $500,000 for just $480/month? Sign me up!” Fools. Anyone with basic math skills could have figured out there was a big, dead, stinking rat in this loan concept. Interestingly, the resetting ARMs coincide nicely with the new, stricter bankruptcy laws. The lenders sure knew what they were doing, this time. So there are these get rich schemes all over the Internet. Anything that looks good is a scam. There are even “front” web sites that act like independent review sites, reviewing “get rich quick” schemes. There is this one I discovered that claims to have tried 37 different scams and found two of them to be legit. So I checked out the two that the writer claimed worked for him. Checked the BBB. Found multiple complaints about lack of response, no refunds, etc., when the product didn’t generate any results. Then I checked the domain registration info for both the referrer site and the site being referred to. Both the same registrar. Probably setup as a clever new scheme. After all, you would trust a guy who’s tried 37 different work-at-home programs and found only two that worked for him, right? I smelled this rat from a block away though, and my findings about the domain owners bore out my hunch. A clever new ploy. Watch out for these referral sites when you see them. So where am I going with all of this? My research indicates that there is no easy way to get rich. But if you have a very good job and live an austere life for 10-20 years, you can set aside enough money that you can eventually live off the investment income. The trick is to find that good job. In a world of $12-15K/year jobs, for many without the fancy credentials, those $100K jobs are the stuff of legends and fantasies—they just don’t happen. It boils down pretty much to this: if you were born to a rich family and your parents put you through college, then give them a big kiss. Your Phd., BS., or other degree is your ticket to the good income, income that is sufficient to allow you to pay your basic expenses while saving for retirement at the same time. If you were born into a poor family, you’d better have good stamina, the ability to work two or three jobs and go to night school with just 3-4 hours a night of sleep, and do it without suffering a breakdown that could land you in the hospital or worse, in a fatal car crash because you dozed at the wrong time. If you can’t manage that kind of lifestyle for 6-10 years in a row, then your best bet is to hope you get lucky, and get a job better than your education deserves, or start your own business and hope you have a marketable skill or idea. Because you aren’t going to get past the room in a boarding house full of Hispanics on your lowly technician job or working at the 7-Eleven. I actually had a longtime friend who was stuck in this very situation and let me tell you, it is very frustrating. When layoffs started happening, once he hit 50+ years of age, he could not find a job anymore. So he took one with a brother-in-law who was in the mob. They were running some shady operation and he was hired as their IT guy, in charge of the network of trading/investment computers. He knew something wasn’t quite right with the organization, but he was desparate for any work he could find and took it. For a year, he made a bare living, but then one day the feds showed up. Busted. Big trucks, computers, desks, books and records, all hauled off. Even the telephones. I felt badly for him. But he just didn’t have a good set of circumstances to work with. As for me, I’ve always tried to avoid organized crime as a source of income. It just doesn’t pay in the long run. I’ve had offers to drive a truck to North Carolina for $10,000 cash. There have been times when I was tempted to take the offer, but the possibility of a long prison sentence and a felony record was a worse outcome than having to live with no electricity and telephones for a year, so I chose to bear the latter and consider myself fortunate to still have my freedom. It’s tough to remain moral in this world, where the government, by the design of its justice system, almost encourages criminal activity as a means of getting ahead. But for some reason, I never felt comfortable with setting up a fraudulent internet scam, becoming a spammer, or committing other nefarious acts with financial gain as the motive. Perhaps I’ve been too moral all these years, but at least I can enter the homeless shelter with a clear conscience.
  19. Nov 11 2006, 09:32 PM Today, I was having an e-mail conversation with a lady who works at one of the radio stations where I occasionally do some work. She was encouraging me to stick it out and be persistent with regard to my Primerica endeavours. The events of today were another disappointment. When I returned home, I wrote the following reply: The challenge is getting an audience with that first family. So far, in cold calling, I get a few lukewarm responses, but they don’t show up at the career overviews when scheduled. I had three prospects that were supposed to come to our CO this morning and not one showed up, even though I did reminder calls the night before. I’m the only one in the entire office that is having this problem. Everyone else knows people, and got right down to business. My wife’s friend, met this other Filipino lady at a dance and she got talking about marriage and husbands and the other lady mentioned that she married a doctor, so Helen, my wife’s friend said, “oh, you must be set for life” and the woman said their finances were a disaster. They earn $150K year, but their life insurance policy was costing them over $4000/year for $1.5M coverage on her husband and $500K on her and they had massive credit card debt at 36% interest because they were late 3 times. So Helen talked to them, and as it turned out her husband was undergoing medical treatment and would not qualify for a new policy at this time, but the wife wanted $1.5 million on herself, once Helen showed them that Primerica could give them three times the coverage for a little less. Those people had annual renewable term insurance and the premiums were going up. Over a 20 year period, Helen calculated that they would pay $888,060 in premiums. We got that down to $134,000 by replacing it with our level term policy, which is the best in the industry. But you see, the thing is that people like Helen are able to get in front of people because she knows people and has a very friendly, approachable way. Filipinos in general have many friends and relatives. The other ethnic group that is exploding with business activity are the Hispanics. I have gained a new-found respect for those people, because I see their progress report every week and they are out there consolidating debts, saving people hundreds of dollars a month, saving them from retirement disaster by making their clients aware of the danger of not having a retirement plan, and helping them to put college funds together for their children. Our portfolios average better than 12% gains over 10 year averages, and people have done quite well with our securities products. But for me, it’s like the proverbial carrot dangling just out of reach. I see people getting checks with four figures handed to them every week at the conclusion of training meetings, and I know they’ve got a large contingent of people that they have been doing business with, starting with family and friends. Some have recruited people into the business, which usually happens when our Financial Needs Analysis reveals a shortcoming in a family’s income, when compared with their financial goals. (We encourage people to set goals, then we look at their debts, life insurance (if any), savings, retirement funds and if they have kids, whether they are saving anything for them. Once we return on a second visit with the plan worked out (it’s like a prescription for healing their financial ailment), we encourage them to implement and stick to it. Typically, we’ll replace overpriced, undercoverage Whole Life with our Term product with about 10X the coverage at ¾ the premium and advise them to invest the difference in one of our investment plans, usually Mutual Funds that are divided over 130 top performing companies. These typically return 12% or better on a 10 year average. We also encourage them to start a college fund for the kids and we calculate, based on their goals, with inflation accounted for, how much they need to start saving. If they earn too little money to reach those goals, we offer them an opportunity to come into the business and earn an extra income in their spare time, doing what we’re doing. It’s a grass roots, referrals only system. We don’t advertise. In fact, an independent survey found that the average Primerica policy cost has only $0.62 in advertising in it, whereas the average policy from competing insurance companies has $388 in advertising costs built into the premiums. No wonder we come in at lower cost and offer a better product. And I learned today in class that there is no “war clause” –many insurance companies, when 9/11 happened, and Bush declared it an act of war, chose not to pay out the death benefits on those people killed in the WTC disaster. Primerica was one of the few companies that paid out the death benefits to the surviving spouses. That’s what kind of company it is, and why I chose to work with them. My only problem is a personal problem with not having developed the circle of friends and not having living relatives left to network with. I’m literally out in the cold. I called over 90 people in the last two weeks, mostly small businesses. Had three who didn’t blow me off and sounded interested, even if mildly, one sounded quite interested and even wanted to know if he could move his union-funded annuity to a private retirement account. I told him about the 1035 Exchange and that we could do it for him. However, come today, not one person showed up for the set appointment. This happened last week with another batch of people. It’s really frustrating and I am having a difficult time maintaining a positive mental attitude. I know that I must do so, because of the “Law of Attraction” which states that you can have what you want, you just have to visualize it as reality and ask for it. Ie., belief that one’s goals are attainable. Well, I’m giving this three years, or until the town sends the sheriff with the notice to vacate our tax-delinquent property. Anyway, I’ve written far more than I intended.
  20. Nov 5 2006, 11:57 PM About twenty years ago, there was a movie by the title Winter of Our Discontent, starring Donald Sutherland, among others. It’s title always stuck in my head, as did the grey, dreary winter images of the film’s cinematography, and whenever I have a series of economic or life downturns in November, that title comes to my mind. This November seems to be shaping up along these lines, despite my concerted efforts at positive thinking. My wife calls it “trials”; that I am being tested. November is a month where physically and emotionally, I am in a natural state of decline, probably due to the shorter daylight hours, the cold temperatures, the reduction in outdoor exercise, as well as the leaving behind of summer and its wonderful comfort and warmth. In addition to the seasonal aspects leading to more challenges in keeping a positive mental outlook, there are a number of “bombshells” that were dropped on me this month. Two of my main radio clients have terminated their contracts with me, one by simply refusing to pay invoices since July and another by having their accounts payable person inform me that they were cancelling our contract relationship, effective a month ago. Hello? What kind of business etiquette is that? There are proper ways to break a contract and there are, well, not so proper ways. At any rate now, I have to find a way to deal with the sudden financial mess this has caused, as it effectively means I’m out of the radio business now. Unemployed. Between assignments. Whatever you want to call it. Meanwhile, my Primerica business has yet to earn me an income. I have not been able to generate any successful leads through cold-calling so far. But now with the loss of income from my prior career, I won’t have the funds to allocate for advertizing. I was planning to run some newspaper and radio ads, both offering services as well as to announce that our office is hiring and to join our team. Commission-only sales is hard. Coach Williams may have been correct about the motivational power of such a commission structure, but he sure didn’t build the system to work for people who find themselves out in the cold market. Meanwhile, I’ve paid some licensing fees, and am currently paying to maintain a toll-free phone number for the new business. Oh well, I guess I’ll have some more tax writeoffs. Art Williams extoles the virtues of “warm market” networking, citing that Primerica attracts a better quality breed of representatives because no strangers get hired—all new reps have been recruited from family relationships, close friends, friends and family of clients who give us these referrals upon successful completion of service to them, etc. I can see how that works out nicely—if you have family—or friends. But what about the 0.02% of the population who are misanthropic xenophobes, who live a reclusive life? Not so great. We have real challenges. At the moment, from where I’m standing, I feel somewhat like the mountain climber who, standing at the base of Mount Everest, watches as the fog slowly clears, to reveal the full height of the obstacle before me. I have many thousands of cold calls to make, probably, before I find that one recruit who will make things happen in my business. It may be hundreds more calls before I find a family that will listen long enough for me to raise their awareness of how insecure their financial future might be, and how I can fix that. It is a task that develops mental toughness. I’m being reduced to a mere telemarketer, as the old saying goes “if it quacks like a duck…” and so I am now in the most disrespected profession known to man. But I will steel myself for the onslaught of abuse, hangups, disinterested recipients and answering machines, as I intend to give this three years to succeed, just as that couple from Ecuador did. (By the way, they made $108,000 last month.) If he could start off from a homeless immigrant and achieve that income, then I should be able to, right? Being on the cusp of this event, I’m getting a glimpse of a boundary between the successful and the dropouts. That boundary is buried deep into difficult mental territory. One has to go through a lot of suffering, yet never waiver in commitment to succeed, if one is to cross that demarcation line over to the side of success. I see it everyday: people succeeding in the business. Today, we had an annual mandatory compliance meeting. About 180 people packed the office. I knew things were out of the ordinary when I could not find a parking space in any of the lots surrounding the complex. I had to park in an adjacent lot behind another business and walk ¼ mile to the office this morning. But I realized how large an organization my Regional Vice President built. Eleven years ago, he was a part timer, just testing the waters in Primerica. Everyone came to this meeting, because it’s the one time of the year when a rep can be let go, ousted from the company if one misses this mandatory compliance session. It consisted of 3-1/2 hours of training on the latest federal laws regarding several aspects of doing business with the public. Normally, we get about 1/3 as many serious devotees attending regular training meetings each week. But the numbers are growing. It would be a very elaborate scam, if it were such. But on a scale this big, such a scam could not escape the law—at least I don’t believe so. There is a whole lot of success going on here, it can’t be proven otherwise. I just need to get my share of it. But I am also reminded that most of these people have big families, lots of friends and in general are very sociable and open. Which brings me back to telemarketing: the punishment I receive for not being a “nice guy” when I was younger—for not making a lot of friends. And the other part of it is timing: Had I gotten into the organization when I was younger, the business relationship would have been a lot more effective. The reality is: I am who I am. I have to work with that fact. It’s going to take a lot more effort than first thought. I will experience some lean times. I may even lose my home and end up prospecting while homeless. I hope that my situation doesn’t become that dire, but I have to be honest and realize that the situation is quite serious now. It’s time to get going.
  21. Nov 2 2006, 08:07 PM Some of the readers of this blog know that I’m at the “end of life” in my radio engineering career, which largely replaced my graphic design career, which I started after retiring from the corporate 9-5 world in the 1980s. With property tax debts piling up and an income that was more business expenses than income, the time was right for a change. Last spring, I was in the middle of a huge emergency with renovating the worst part of the roof of our home. Water damage, carpenter ants and maybe termites had been busy for at least the last 20 years (after the Chlordane treatment probably wore off) and the water was coming in everywhere, in a new place every time it rained. Something had to be done and this was the year to embark on it. While I was in the midst of the worst of this renovation, racing against time, because I knew I’d taken on a 365-day project and had only about four to five months of suitable season to do it and as such, in a big hurry, a former co-worker called me about an opportunity in Primerica. It couldn’t have come at a more inconvenient time in my life, given the tremendous scope of the burden I had taken on. To take on such a project alone, I had to psych myself up by planning, making drawings, determining if it was even feasible for me to do the work by myself. I had to overcome a lot of mental obstacles to get to the point where I had little doubt that I could renovate the superstructure of the house and protect the inside from the weather, without a roof for up to two months. So the wife and I decided to attend the nearby “Career Overview” that my former co-worker invited us to. My first reaction was “MLM, it’s another MLM… let’s get out of here now!” But as I sat and listened to a presentation that provided real meat in the form of factual information, I decided not to get up and leave. This company looked different. Instead of another health drink, or another soap product, they were helping a lot of families steer clear of future financial disaster, though intelligent financial planning, debt consolidation, investments and income protection. I began to like what I was seeing and hearing about. I also learned some useful information, which was something I never got out of an AmWay or a Shacklee presentation. So, despite my dire emergency, I signed on and began my training as a rep with Primerica. I wasn’t able to really participate in the business right away, due to the massive demands of my renovation and repair project, but I attended the meetings regularly and went to school to earn my life insurance producer’s license in the meantime, so that I’d be ready to hit the pavement running, just as soon as the house was secured for winter. Last month was pretty much the last of the weather in which I could do any roof work. Asphalt roof coatings just turn to solid muck when the temperature goes below 55ºF. The best days to do the roofing turned out to be those 105º days in August. So I got things closed up as best as possible and started focusing on Primerica and building my business. Due to the fact that I have been a misanthropic xenophobe for the majority of my life (being Objectivist put me at odds with so many people that I had few friends who could tolerate my philosophical thinking) I had few friends to contact as my “warm market”. Since Primerica’s concept of not using high-dollar salesmen and expensive offices to keep costs down so that they could offer their insurance products at very low costs to the consumer meant that using a “grass roots” system of getting the word out about the products and services was proven to be effective—given normal people’s social relationships. Normal people have at least ten friends that they have a good relationship and credibility with. I have two or three good friends, but even with them, my sense of credibility is not all that stellar. Maybe it was my history of getting involved in MLMs in the past. Or maybe it was my continous and ever-worsening state of poverty that caused them to think that any new endeavor that I would undertake would be simply more of the same. Whatever the reason, I knew from the start that this was going to be very hard for me. Even reading Art William’s book, “COACH”, on page 65 he mentions that if a person doesn’t have at least ten friends, then he’s probably not going to make a good representative in the business. Oh boy, I’m in trouble now. But there’s also the other side of the situation: all my friends think this is a scam. The people on another forum that I frequent a lot think it’s a scam (enough to censor the name of the company from every post) and my ego wants to prove them all wrong. I did call the few friends that I had, and set up “15-minute interviews” in which my trainer would accompany me and we’d go over the company and interview the prospect, all in the name of “practice” for me. Well, my few friends are like this: one of them is already wealthy beyond crazy—he owns a large number of FM radio stations throughout New England, another is a successful self-employed software engineer who works for big money on a contract basis, and the last one is a gentleman who’s about to retire and very much steeped in the “work til 65 and then you die” attitude of many worker-slaves. After I exhausted all my friends, I went on to neighbors. Well, the one’s that aren’t explicitly trying to get our home condemned and bulldozed, that is. Which left one, good, neighbor whom I trust. As it turns out, he was quietly a financial genius, having financed the purchase of an inn and restaurant on Lake Ontario last year and will plan to have it paid off in seven years. I talked to him about several aspects of our company and he has all the bases covered. He needed nothing and he had no time to pursue the business opportunity, between his own job and running back and forth to Canada to operate the inn. And my other two neighbors? One earns about a million a year as a day trader on Wall Street. The other is a big land developer, owns the biggest marina in the region and is a politician on top of that. No opportunity there. Given that due to my age, I have no living relatives, and my younger cousin just passed away last February, so that puts me right in the cold market. In the beginning of October, my trainer and I spent an afternoon at a busy gas station in New York, “surveying” as many customers as possible about four economic questions: 1. Do you feel that people aren’t being adequately paid for their jobs/work? 2. How long have you been with your current employer? 3. Do you feel that you pay too much in taxes? 4. If I could show you a way to earn an extra $1000-2000 per month, would you be interested in more info? We were out there for hours. Many people did not want to do the survey while they pumped their gas at all. A few did, but weren't interested in the opportunity. A surprising number of people answered yes to #1 and no to #3—that’s right—quite a few New Yorkers did not feel that they paid too much tax! (That was a real eye-opener for me.) Out of an entire afternoon, we had four people who said they were “interested” and gave us contact phone numbers. Upon following up on those in the next three days, only one phone number was correct (the others were wrong numbers) and that person, when invited to the career overview, never showed up and never called to say that she couldn’t make it. Then on October 21st, working from the back page of the local newspaper classifieds, I called 30 small business owners and did my best to interest them in a part-time opportunity where they could earn some extra money. Toward the end of the month, I was picking up business cards off public bulletin boards posted in stores and other public locations. I made more phonecalls. Initially, I had maybe three that expressed some interest, but wanted me to call them back at another time. I’ve returned those calls and left messages to answering machines. I’ve had a few that were downright not interested and annoyed that I had even called them. I had one that had already been served by a Primerica rep from the same office that I work out of (they were very pleased with the company and what was being done for them). There were a couple that said to send them a business card in the mail and gave me a street or PO box address. And there were several answering machines. My policy is if I get the answering machine three times, I leave a short, direct message on the third try. I figure that if they have any interest at all, they’d call me back. After another afternoon of calling, I have the possibility of perhaps one person showing up at our November 4th career overview. I can’t tally the score for this month until then, but I can say that I have been working against some very difficult odds. As scary as it seems, the next step is to take out the local telephone book and start calling people at random, until I find someone who’s motivated, has the right frame of mind, and believes he/she has a moral right to want to make more money than the poor slob who goes to a dead end job all of his life for annual 2% capped raises that don’t even keep up with the cost of living, while living with increasing abuse from bosses who know they have them by the balls, and the ever-present threat of layoffs and outsourcing. It won’t be easy, but I’m not giving up. There is a couple who came here from Ecuador who, in the first three years in Primerica, didn’t get much results. They made maybe $30,000 in their third year. Not terribly exciting. That was eleven years ago. They made the top income earner’s list in July, having earned a personal income of $115,000 for the month of June. Whenever I have trouble with the slowness to success, I just remind myself of that couple, who, had they given up because the money was not really coming in during the first year, would not be enjoying over $100K/month of regular income today. The way I look at it, I have to reinvent myself. I have to forget about the abuse and the taunting I received when I was a boy, the psychological problems that such a rough childhood carried with me into adulthood, putting a choker on any potential I had for being as success. Now that I’m married and we, after waiting years and years and years to have enough money to have a child, decided to have one anyway because the biological clock was about to run out, I have to build up real wealth so my wife and daughter can have a good life after I’m gone. Therefore, I have to become the person who will attract ten friends, stop making enemies and learn to care about people, even if they are religious or have Socialist ideas. That means I have to stop arguing with people and telling them that their premises are totally wrong, instead, ignoring that aspect of relationships with people and focusing on family matters and financial security for those people. Since I can’t find another country where we can all be free of taxation on people with no ability to pay taxes, I have to deal with improving the supply side of the equation, so that it won’t hurt me to write out a check for $26,000 to the town every year, and more.
  22. Oct 28 2006, 11:43 AM This is an incredulous story that I’m about to relate. I’ll get to the background and then the shocking part: I’ve been a member of a mostly techie web site called, also known as for about five years now. I’ve been a member in good standing, never spammed the discussion forums and, while often held a contrary view on property taxes and was somewhat notorious for that, never got into a clash with the board’s management because of my views on taxation. Same goes for religion. I was able to express some pretty “radical” views without censorship. Then one day, I responded to a thread about some Wal-Mart employees who walked off the job because they didn’t like some new policy that the management had implemented. One person lamented that Wal-Mart was the only job in town and that those people had nowhere else to find a job. I chimed in that perhaps those displaced employees would be better off if they all went to work for Primerica, a business opportunity where one works in business for themselves. Well, to my surprise, the software that runs the forum has “Primerica” in its list of keywords to censor the entire post, delay it and mark it for moderation. I was rather angry about that and wrote the moderators to tell them how I felt, as a longtime BBR member in good standing, suddenly being treated as if they had discovered me to be a Nazi party member. Furthermore, the replies given were full of patently false accusations, stating that Primerica was a scam, that I was just a loser and a low man on the totem pole, etc. All my attempts to respond publicly in that thread with facts from the government regulatory agencies that refute these lies, were censored and blocked/deleted. My response included the statement that if they wanted to know the truth about Primerica, they should visit the NASD and Better Business Bureau sites, as well as A.M. Best, Standard & Poors, Moody, etc., for the accurate facts. Primerica has a lot of enemies in the traditional Whole/Universal Life insurance industry. There are several web sites that are produced by a man from the competing insurance industry, and he makes a bunch of half-true statements, and provides no facts to substantiate the claims made. The other ‘enemies’ are the many people who dipped their toes in the Primerica waters, didn’t have the discipline or the initiative to do what it takes (statistic: only 19% of people who join Primerica ever get their life insurance license) to be successful in the business who go on public forums and whine about how it’s “a pyramid scheme,” “a ripoff,” “taking advantage of poor people,” etc., ad nauseum. The whole matter is, any idiot can put up a web site. The information can be totally false, and since the web is largely unregulated, there’s very little that can be done about it. Getting back to the site putting me on watch (they hate spammers with a passion and I don’t blame them) as a regular contributor to their forums who has never spammed their forums, I found the action to be knee-jerk and extremely unfair. But then, it’s their site. For now. I’ve resolved that one of the things I will do when I start to make the really big money is that I will buy or takeover the stocks, if the site’s management company is publicly-traded by then, or the web site, and put up the truth about Primerica in prominent places all over the site. It will remain as it was, but I will take that former liar of a site whose bias and lack of integrity suggests ulterior motives and alignments with unfavorable parties and sweep out the lies, disinformation and innuendos and place the truth prominently on the front page. Before I got involved with this company, I investigated it to a deeper level than most people do. I was a person who had been burned by MLMs before. I’d been in Amway, and later, some 3D camera outfit. Talk about pyramid schemes! When I found Primerica, I learned that it’s a blue-chip company, part of the CitiGroup Financial companies, which include a lot of prestigious firms, such as Smith-Barney. The company has over a trillion dollars in assets. Somehow that doesn’t come across as a scam company. They’re highly rated with numerous independent financial institution ratings firms, and I verified that by doing my own research. The compensation structure is really clever. It motivates representatives to build the business, and rewards them handsomely for doing so. The structure is similar to real estate and even the competing insurance industry. We get paid by the companies we place business with. Not from the people we hire. Every check comes from the corporation. We do get overrides from the business that people we hire do, but that’s our payment for training those people and bringing them on board. It’s perfectly legitimate and honest. And it’s a great income once you’ve built up your team. There is direct income plus residual income from the business your team does. So the larger the team, the more leverage you have for earning money. The thing that really brought me on board was the education I received on life insurance. The more I learned about how the various policies work, and seeing how Primerica only offers Term insurance, the more I understood how the Whole Life/Universal Life policies were such a huge ripoff. Conventional insurance policies like Whole Life have a savings vehicle built into the policy. The insurance companies make a lot of commission money off these policies because although the company gets a 12% return on the investments, they keep about three-quarters of that money and pay the client about 2-3% on the interest. Another thing is that no interest is earned for the first two years. And when the client borrows his own money, he has to pay interest to the insurance company! But the thing that made me want to throw a book at the wall was this: when the insured person dies, the cash value saved up in that policy goes back to the insurance company! Only the death benefit is paid. And as an adjunct, if some of the cash value is out on “loan”, the beneficiary receives the death benefit minus the loan amount and interest due! What a ripoff! There are so many things wrong with the traditional insurance industry that it could fill a book or two. I was reading an article on one of my radio journals about Nikola Tesla versus Thomas Edison. Their rivalry was fierce—when Tesla demonstrated his superior AC power generating system, Edision staged electrocution of live animals in front of the public, in an attempt to discredit Tesla’s AC theory. Clearly, Tesla’s work was superior, and eventually became the standard for power distribution around the world. But Edison even stole credit for that! Now I liken Primerica to the rest of the industry in the same manner. The industry is like Edison—established, had the whole racket to themselves and were making excessive profits by nefarious sales practices and hidden disclosures, while ripping the clients off. When A.L. Williams founded Primerica in 1977, he started a new revolution of “Buy term and invest the difference”. It took off, and took a lot of business away from the fatcat insurance industry. And that’s where the smear campaign began. The insurance industry is guilty of Ayn Rand’s “biggest sin”:: hating the good for being the good. Hating the efficatious for their achievement. I feel pretty good about this business. For me, it’s not easy. I have many personal obstacles to overcome, but the reality I see around me is that people are getting big checks every day. I was at a Filipino market last night and bumped into a young lady from my office and she told me that she had just sold a $1,000,000 life insurance policy to a doctor, saved him a lot of money over his old Universal Life policy and earned a $13,000 commission. Not bad for an hour’s work! I’m drooling over the smorgasbord of profit centers in Primerica. The more licenses I acquire, the more types of business I can transact. Securities is a big income earner. The biggest commissions are there. Right now, I can write mortgages and loans and produce life insurance policies. I have yet to study for and take the test for the securities licenses. But that is my intent. For now, I am learning the business and to improve myself, because to make it in this business, you can’ t be a misanthropic xenophobe, like I was for so many years. I’m learning to change myself, so that I can open new opportunities for myself. Primerica has been a learning experience and a self-improvement program with a real incentive to succeed. And now that there are so many people who call me a fool for joining that company, I am angry and motivated to succeed, so my ego-driven desire to show them by example is one of my strongest motivators now. I can’t wait until the day when I buy their web site and reverse all the lies and remove the Primerica censorship. That will be a sweet day.
  23. Oct 27 2006, 03:52 PM I just finished watching a DVD video called "The Secret". It is a documentary about a secret, known by all the great, successful men throughout history, a secret because the average wage slave doesn't know about it. The topic I am about to discuss is metaphysical and has some grounding in quantum physics. I am writing about the Law of Attraction. It is the primary secret of success. It embodies visualizing what you want, and aligning yourself in harmony with the universe to cause events to occur which lead to the attainment of that goal. The process of visualization is essential to the attainment of a goal. If you don’t have a dream and a clear vision of what you want to achieve or gain, you won’t get there. Visualizing where you want to be in a certain amount of time is the first step. Dating all the way back to the when I saw and wanted the very first component which went into the current day sound system, a Spectro Acoustics 210 Equalizer, I took home the sales brochure from the music store and pinned it to my wall. Every day, I looked at that picture and visualized it as being mine in the near future. It was a lot of money for me at the time and I had to work hard to afford it, but eventually, that vision lead to the manifestation of concrete reality. Thoughts are things. Our thoughts lead to very tangible things. Our thinking attracts whole chains of events. Visualization is the beginning of that thought process. My vision for Bass Pig (back then, just a real cool stereo system) was evolving over time. I remember way back when, a time when I thought it would be grand to have a couple of top of the line Heathkit speaker systems and a Heathkit AA-1640 power amplifier. My rig at the time was a pair of home-brew tube amps with push pull 6L6’s, driven by a Fisher TX200 amplifier with the preamp circuit tapped to drive the separate tube units. Hey, my friends thought it was pretty cool, but I wanted more. I began to look at industrial professional speakers in a music store that sold a lot of PA equipment. Electro-Voice had just introduced the 15L, 15B, and 18B series woofers. They were pretty “killer” stuff back in those days. So I saved my pennies and visualized them as mine. I ate, drank, and slept with my mind focused on having a pair of those bad boys in my livingroom. And in time, with enough overtime work, I was able to afford them. It was almost an obsession. You have to want something badly enough to attract them to you. Throw out all negative thoughts. Each negative thought attracts bad things. You have to believe that the goal is attainable, but to the Law of Attraction, like Yoda in the original Star Wars movie, “size matters not.” The size of your dreams and goals does not matter. If you truly want to attain whatever that goal may be, and you are totally committed to making it happen, it is attainable. The universe will accommodate you. All you have to do is ask. There will be good and not so good days. Everyone has their off days. Those days you work, but on the good days, you work with passion, toward your goal. This is the essential key to wealth and the achievement of any goal you might imagine. So why does this work? Quantum physics explains that our thoughts affect particles. The observer observing an experiment, affects the experiment based on his thoughts. If an experiment involves determining whether light is a stream of particles, or a waves of energy, the observer’s beliefs and thoughts about which theory is correct will determine whether the experiment yields one theory or the other. What this means is that we are all connected to one big energy field in the universe. Our thoughts are far more important, and influential, than we are normally taught to understand. Conventional thinking says that it’s impossible for one’s mind to have an external effect on events. But a couple of examples come to mind which seem to back up the the external influence theory: you’re riding your bike when all of a sudden you get a preminition that that kid down the block is going to ride his Big Wheel into your path, causing you to have to brake abruptly. The next thing you know, the kid cuts you off, you apply the brakes and go end over end, landing on your back with the bike on top of you (this actually happened to me). Or you’re driving down a deserted country road and you see a few deer around, and you think one of them might run out in front of you, and almost before you’ve finished the thought, a deer darts out right in front of the car, with no room to stop and you hit that deer. These are examples of negative thought processess attracting negative results. Now the process works for positive results too, although man tends to like to dwell on negative things for some strange reason, so more often than not in life, negative events dominate a lot of people’s lives. People who talk and think about illness a lot tend to be ill themselves. People who are obsessed with how devastating their debts and financial woes are, tend to attract even more debts and loss of income. It is too easy to dwell in the negative stuff. The key to success is to consciously reject every negative thought that comes to mind, and focus on the positive, stay focused on your goals and think about them –visualize them constantly. Put up a “vision board” –a bulleting board where you pin up photos of the things you want to achieve –whether it be a new home, a nice car, or.. a better subwoofer. Whatever it is, learn to become obsessed with your positive goals and dreams. This stuff works. I’ve felt it happen in my own life and I’ve had some amazing things happen, which, the odds of which happening were, now that I look back on them, very slim. And if I had been thinking negative about them, I would not have achieved them, because I would have been asking the universe to give me failure instead of success. At an earlier time in my life, when my parents were both alive, there was a lot of negativity in the air. They were both "students of Objectivism" and as such, very much grounded in conventional reality. They had illnesses and struggled to live with this condition upon their lives, but were unable to visualize themselves well and fulfilled. Instead, they were so grounded in the reality and relied on doctors for help with their physical problems, that they got worse and worse. Mother became profoundly depressed. In fact, when Ayn Rand passed away on March 6, 1982, she lost all hope for the world and her personal condition took a nosedive. She spent the next few years in and out of hospitals and died a few years later. Father was devastated by this, and never regained his former enthusiasm for life. Instead, he dwelled on the lack of money, the bills and the property taxes. All that negativity eventually gave him cancer, in the form of acute lymphoblastic leukemia. He died in the hospital, three days after the diagnosis was told to him. Once, wrote in the forums here that I had wondered if Objectivism had poisoned me. I have come to suspect that there are aspects of metaphysical reality that go beyond the sharply-defined scope of Objectivism. The philosophy is a good guide for dealing with everyday living situations, but I am starting to suspect that our minds play a more significant role in reality than we first thought. My mother was so strictly Objectivist that Dad could not enjoy having friends over to the house for dinner. She would give everyone the third degree and practically grill them, figuratively, about their premises, and if they were religious--watch out--sparks were going to fly! I remember one of my dad's invited guests was so upset by her attacks that he got up and fled the house! Mom's adherense to strict rules of Objective thinking made her unable to consider that her mind was a part of the universe and that quantum physics were involved in her thought processes influencing her health. I do believe that her grounding in Objectivism made her so unhappy with the realization that the world would never be that Utopia that she desired, that it drove her to insanity. It took me decades to consider anything beyond Objectivism's basic principles, which are based on the premise that existence is all that our senses perceive and nothing more, to consider some of the ideas of quantum physics and the role of the observer as part of the experiment. Another example is Schrödinger's cat, a thought experiment conducted by the German scientist of that name, in which the observer somehow influences the results of the experiment on a subatomic level. My life didn't really start to take off in terms of achievements, until both my parents were gone. As horrible as that sounds, the removal of their negative thinking from my life enabled me to plan my own life that much more deliberately and with much greater success. I remember when I went to go visit my future wife in the Philippines many years ago, we had been writing and were pen pals and I never imagined prior to that time that a lovely lady like that would be writing to me. And when she asked me to visit her, despite my circumstances, I broke down a whole lot of mental barriers and chose to have faith and get on that plane. I could have given myself a hundred reasons not to go, but something was telling me that I must go. And when those fears and negative feelings crept up, I reminded myself of the good feelings of communicating with this lovely lady and I pulled myself through and kept the visions positive. Some of my friends quietly thought I was crazy, going to a foreign country in the Third World, to go and meet God-knows whom or what. I never let those thoughts of what might happen bad enter my head for more than a nanosecond. I instead focused on the belief and faith that my future fiancee and later wife was true to her word and that she would be there at the airport to greet me. And, well, the rest is history. We’ve been happily married for quite some time and have a lovely daughter who is the apply of my eye. There is a limit to what I can write in this short space, but I wanted to get these thoughts down here now, in the event that they might resonate with someone who happens to come across this page one day. Thoughts are things. Think about that. The mind is powerful and dangerous if used improperly –or it has the capacity to make your dreams and goals happen. It’s up to you.
  24. Oct 22 2006, 09:11 PM (Cross-posted from my Blog at A close friend of mine celebrated his 60th birthday yesterday; his wife had invited myself and a number of other close friends to a surprise party. The requirement was to bring a "homemade" card. Knowing that most of my cards were cheesy, I had to think long and hard about it. And then I realized that a cartoon theme might just have the right flavor for my friend's sense of humor. I'm not a big comic strip fan, but there was one that ran in the 1980s that frequently tickled my funny bone: Gary Larson's "The Far Side". His ideas were off-beat, original and very bizarre, and often required some thought to "get it." Some of them were downright hilarious. So I settled on doing a cartoon in the style of Gary Larson. I had to spend a few evenings at the kitchen table, sketching caricatures while having my dinner or my late coffee break, and I found that for me, it was not all that difficult to capture the "essence" of a Larson-style character. So realizing this after a few sketches, I had to come up with a theme. My friend owns many of the FM stations in New England, so the card would be a radio theme of some sort. But what, exactly? I mulled over a few ideas and the first ones were weak. But then I started to think like Gary Larson, and go into Way Out Land. That's when it hit me: What if radio stations existed 65 million years ago? For the answer to that question, have a look at the cartoon: Comments welcome.
  25. Oct 3 2006, 10:48 PM Friday, September 29th marked the first real step toward my launching my new business as a representative of Primerica Financial Services. I passed my Life Insurance Producer pre-licensing test. I took the test in Wallingford, CT. It was a strictly-controlled computer-based test (they even make you remove all personal items from your pockets and put them in lockers before you enter the testing room). There is no score given, only pass or fail. I passed! I did 5 hours of review the night before, just to make sure I’d get a good score. I knew most of the questions, although there were some worded in unusual ways that I had not seen on the practice exam or in class and home study materials, but they were few in number. There were 60 general questions and 40 state law questions on this test. The next thing I did was to forward the results to my parent company. I still need to fill out the license application and mail the $75 fee to the CT Treasurer. Only something like 19% of people who join Primerica pass their Life exam. So that puts me in the minority now. I’ll also have my mortgage license in a few weeks, so I’ll be ready to do real, commission-earning business in October! Yeah!!! Had I had my license last month, I could have split a $2800 commission with an out of state agent seeking to write a mortgage in CT, even though I did no work to sell that client. There is nothing like the satisfaction of earning thousands of dollars in commissions on just an hour’s worth of paperwork filing a mortgage application. And that is but one small part of the business that I am entering. I’ll be selling life insurance, mortgages and, later on with additional licensing, securities. I am anxious to get on board this money train and run hard with it!