Category Archives: work

“Back to the Land” Mythbusting Pt. 2

mythbuster method

Last week’s post inspired more comments than usual, both here and on facebook. Since my audience gave me so much to think about, I thought I might double-dip on the subject of the mythology of the “back to the landers” I realize that my perspective seems blasphemous, and many of you have never heard such heresy before. No surprise there.

no-surprise abuse of power

Boomers, no matter what they do, have always been infatuated with themselves, The local merchants, who overcharge them for everything, just tell them what they want to hear. The non-profits around here are loath to criticize them, dependent as they are on dope yuppies’ donations, likewise with the sharecroppers, trimmers, and working stiffs. These people are so polite that they won’t even ask anyone around here what they do for a living.


Even the homeless people around here kiss dope yuppie ass. I can’t believe how many homeless or marginally housed people volunteer lots of hours and devote a tremendous amount of energy to help local organizations that mostly serve dope yuppies. That just seems ass backwards to me. Call me old-fashioned, but I think that the well-to-do should volunteer to help the less fortunate, rather than vice versa.

ViceVersa-Lick-It featuring problem

So, we’ve got dope yuppies, who celebrate themselves shamelessly and relentlessly. Around them, a small army of sycophantic merchants, politicians, administrators, working people and hangers-on compete with each other for the crumbs that fall from the dope yuppies’ table.


Which leaves, basically, me, to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about the so-called “back to the landers”


One reader of last week’s post lamented that I hadn’t actually met any “real” back to the landers. I’ve discovered that every dope yuppie in SoHum believes themselves to be a “real” back to the lander, and that they all think of their neighbors as greed-heads, fucked-up drug addicts or both.

greed heads

Even the best of the back to the landers I know, the ones without the crazy collections of vehicles decaying in the yard, and piles of ridiculous useless stuff everywhere. The ones who have a little bit of imagination, build their own home, and do the whole harmonious, permaculture, native plant landscaping, composting toilet, solar electric, blah blah blah, even those people, don’t know when to stop.

know your parasites

As they get better at carpentry, their funky little cabins become elegant chalets, surrounded by effusive gardens. Peacocks roam the grounds, …along with servants. Sure, it’s lovely, but the scale is all wrong. Boomers do everything, too big.


They grew up driving big-block V8 muscle cars. They gave us gigantic concerts, like Woodstock and Altamont, where the musicians look like ants, and sound like shit, and the audience amuse themselves with nudity and drug abuse. They couldn’t just drink a “cup ‘o Joe” like their parents, they have to have a double-shot, decaf, low-fat, triple-foam machiato with squirt of hazelnut syrup, and, of course, they don’t make that themselves. Hell no! It’s enough trouble just to order it. They expect us to make it for them, so they can consume our lives, as well as our future. Even cheap Mexican marijuana wasn’t good enough for them. They had to turn it into an expensive luxury product, so that poor kids would turn to cocaine and meth for a high they could afford.

crack cat

A reader suggested that the reason Boomers are so materialistic is that they were raised by depression-era parents, who never let them throw anything away. To make up for it, they gave us a world where everything is disposable, eating utensils, pens, lighters, flashlights, clothes, cameras, phones, furniture, stereos, TVs, computers. Nothing lasts, and nobody knows how to fix anything anymore. Kids today all know that the latest gadget won’t last half as long as a can of Spam, and that nothing in this world matters, except money. That’s the lesson the Boomers teach. It shouldn’t surprise them if the younger generation takes that lesson to heart.


One reader commented, “I don’t recall taking a vow of poverty”. Far from it! Boomers spend like there’s no tomorrow, and thanks to them, there isn’t. Now nobody has to take a vow of poverty. We have poverty thrust upon us. The oceans have been fished-out and thoroughly polluted. The oil’s gone. There’s still plenty of natural gas, but they’re fracking the fuck out of our freshwater aquifers to get it. The only resource left to exploit is the lives of the descendants of the Baby Boomers, and the suck is on!

suck job

We look forward to lives of wage slavery lived for the benefit of bloodsucking landlords, and anyone who refuses to to participate in their own oppression can expect to be punished. They can expect to be kicked in the ribs by cops whenever they try to get some sleep, moved along by merchants whenever they sit down, denied access to bathrooms, water, food or shelter, and then made into scapegoats to be reviled and punished further for their poverty, punished until they die in the streets. I hear entirely too many dope yuppies and their suck-ups complaining about “the transient problem”. I see it differently. I think we have a “greedy boomer” problem.

boomers Jake Dimare quote

Another reader told of some back to the landers who were so poor that they could only afford the cheapest piece of land, but they managed to make it work for decades while keeping their “ethics intact”. Sure, …but they didn’t mind breaking a silly little law. They didn’t mind profiting from a really ugly policy. They didn’t mind converting forest to farmland. They didn’t mind moving on to land stolen through violence and genocide, and paying off the violent thugs who run this whole “private property” racket, namely, the county government. In the same sense, I could say that I survived the economic downturn with my investment portfolio “intact”.

ethics no

I’m not saying that the back to the landers are bad people. People do the best that they can for themselves. I’m saying that poor people don’t have the option of buying any land any more.

boomers rise

Things are not the same.

not the same the world

When you leave the world, worse off than you found it, you can’t call yourself a “success”. Yes, things were already going downhill when the Boomers took over, but they didn’t have to press the accelerator so hard, and now that they’ve wrecked the car, no one wants to hear about how well they think they handled that next-to-last turn.

wreck the car

We all inherited a diabolical economic system, a looming environmental crisis, and a culture in collapse. The Baby Boomers were the first generation to realize that, and to know that it was true. They knew the truth about Viet Nam. They read Silent Spring. They saw the Earth from space. They knew. …and collectively, they said, “Let’s do it up!”

Boomers go for bust

The Giving Season

The Giving Season

giving season

As 2013 winds to a close, once again we find ourselves in “The Giving Season”. The time of year when we take a moment to show our appreciation for the people who matter to us, and to the folks who serve us faithfully all year long.


Of course, a lot of the people who serve you faithfully all year long, like your postman, barista or auto-mechanic, your kids school teacher and bus driver, your hooker, drug dealer and bartender, or if you live around here, your crew of trimmers, those people all get paid for their work. Believe me, those people wouldn’t lift a finger for you, if it weren’t for the fat paychecks they take home week after week. So, fuck them! Don’t waste your generosity on those douche nozzles.

douche nozzle

Instead, this year, give generously to the people who really deserve it. Give to the people who work hard for you all year, every week, rain or shine, and ask for nothing in return for their tireless efforts and diligence. People who make it their priority to provide you with interesting, amusing, and mildly arousing entertainment every week, free of charge, and without compensation, acting purely from the goodness of their hearts, for the benefit of all of humanity. In other words, people like me, your humble blogger at Like You’ve Got Something Better To Do.

lygsbtd frace t-shirt

I honestly cannot think of anyone who deserves your generous financial gift more than I do, and if you take the time to think about it carefully, I think you’ll agree. Don’t make the stupid mistakes that trap so many gullible saps into supporting greedy, undeserving scam artists, while good, hard-working people like me persevere through the cold, dark winter months without so much as a “thank-you” from the faceless masses who show up here to consume my work anonymously, leaving nothing of themselves but the statistics that record their activity.


Lots of people give money to help the poor around the holidays, and I can hardly think of a dumber waste of money. Look, I don’t have any money. I’m poor, but you don’t see me standing on the side of the road looking pathetic, flying a cardboard sign, and playing on your sympathies. I don’t do that because I don’t play people for saps.


The poor are just a bottomless pit. That’s why they call it “pity”. Don’t throw your money into it. The poor aren’t poor because they don’t have enough money; the poor are poor because the rich have no use for them, and the middle-class would rather kiss rich ass than stand shoulder to shoulder with the poor against the 1%. I spit in the eye of the rich and the middle-class, and call them on their bullshit, while the poor who stand around begging, just play the rich and middle-class for suckers, and exploit them for their pity without challenging the status quo.


Some people prefer to give money to organizations that help the poor, rather than giving to poor people individually, but these organizations play you for rubes too. The Salvation Army hires thousands of “bell-ringers” every holiday season just to suck up all of the money that would otherwise go directly into the pockets of poor people. That is, if business owners didn’t harass, kick and call the cops on every legitimately poor person who comes within 30 ft of their business. Merchants love these “bell-ringers” almost as much as they despise and detest real poor people.


The money that you drop into the Salvation Army kettle goes to pay a literal army of salaried administrators, who enjoy comfy heated offices, medical benefits, and paid vacation time. They spend their days deciding which projects to fund that will make them look good in the public’s eye, while they dream up new ways to capitalize on the pity of the stupid. What is more obnoxious, a paid asshole who never stops ringing that goddamned bell, or a homeless beggar with a nice quiet sign? Take my advice, ignore them both, and give to me, the one you neither see nor hear.


Some people like to give money to environmental organizations. These groups suck worse than organizations that help the poor. I don’t care whether it’s Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, World Wildlife Federation, Natural Resources Defense Council, PETA, or any of the fucking PIRGs, they’re all full of the same bullshit. They’re all just a bunch of spoiled brat white kids who would rather take pictures of dead whales, tortured lab animals, or disgusting landfills full of toxic waste than get a job killing whales, torturing lab animals or making massive amounts of pointless consumer garbage.


Every year we have more environmental organizations, and every year the environmental crisis grows more dire. Stop throwing good money after bad, and cut those suckers off.

cutoff 5

The same goes for social justice organizations like the ACLU, Doctors Without Borders, or the Southern Poverty Law Center.  Doctors and lawyers are the blood-sucking scum floating at the top of the cesspool we call modern society. If doctors and lawyers think they can do something about the injustice and inequality in the world, they should do it with the vast sums of money we already overpay them for creating that injustice and inequality in the first place. Don’t give those greedy bastards one more dime than you absolutely have to.


Finally, too many people donate money every year to support public media like PBS, NPR and Community Radio. For God’s sake don’t get fleeced by these shysters. So what if you let Big Bird babysit your kids or like to watch taxpayer funded programming from some socialist country that forces people to pay for it. That’s no reason to open your wallet for them.

big bird begging

Whenever a publicly funded media outlet asks for money, they always like to remind us how much better they are than Fox News. So what! That’s like gonorrhea asking for money because it’s better than AIDS. Look, we’re all media here. Media ain’t gonna save the fucking world folks. I’m not saying that public media is as bad as a case of “the clap”, but there’s a good argument to be made that we’d all be better off without any of it. There’s some news you’ll never here on public media. Here’s some more: Public media is one of the most overfed pigs at the public trough.


They all tell you that it’s non-commercial programming, but that doesn’t stop them from interrupting every fifteen minutes to tell you that the show was paid for by “Saps like you, and generous contributions from Archer Daniels Midland, Cramming Our Food Down Your Throat 247365, Warehouser, Clear-cutting Old-Growth Forests So We Can Plant More Trees, or Massey Energy, We Mine Coal… Fuck You.


Yes, all of those public media outlets enjoy taxpayer subsidies, and suck-up to every evil corporation on the planet for the billions of dollars they give, just for the phony respectability that public media gives them. That’s why you never hear anything like the biting social criticism you read here at lygsbtd, on public media. Like You’ve Got Something Better To Do challenges the right, the left, and everyone in the middle. You won’t get that on PBS, NPR, or even community radio.


All of those public media outlets know where their money comes from, and they’re not about to rock the boat. I don’t know where my money comes from, because I don’t have any. and I’m all about rocking the boat, because the boat is sinking! Public media still wants you to believe in the system, because they are part of the system. They don’t care what the system does to you or your kids future, you’re already shark bait to them, and they’re the shark.

shark bait 1

For them, it’s a feeding frenzy, and they’re never satisfied. They always want more. It’s time to cut them off, and put your money behind the real independent voice of Southern Humboldt County, me, and this blog Like You’ve Got Something Better To Do. Your kids will never forgive you if you don’t.

never forgive

I don’t take money from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, because I can’t deal with the paperwork involved. I don’t take money from corporations. I mean, I would, if any of them offered me any, but so far they haven’t. Any corporations looking for favorable coverage from a hot, edgy new-media outlet, I’m listening, but until we make a deal, you are fair game.


Until now, I have not received even one-cent, from anyone, for producing this blog. Yet, every week, I give you more. I give you more humor, more pictures, more social commentary, more science, more economics, more big words, more of myself than I give to my beloved partner Amy, who’s feeling a little unappreciated right now. So how about it folks? I could sure use some help right about now. My truck broke down last week and it’s going to cost more than a grand to fix it.

truck broke down

If you enjoy reading this blog, and if you’ve gotten this far, you must, click that donate now button. Give a hundred bucks to keep me, lygsbtd, my truck, and my mechanic, going strong in 2014.


Can’t afford a whole Benjamin? I understand that times are tough. How about a dollar week? $52, that’s just one dollar per post for all of 2014. It would really mean a lot to me.

In fact, as a thank-you gift, for any contribution of $25 or more, I will send you this lovely Like You’ve Got Something Better To Do coffee mug.

lygsbtd mug

This is a really nice mug. It holds 16oz of your favorite beverage. It has the Like You’ve Got Something Better To Do logo on the side. It’s a good quality ceramic mug, and I’m happy to send it to you for $25. Of course, the real prize is this blog: Like You’ve Got Something Better To Do, and your donation will keep it coming to you all year in 2014.  thanks for your generous support!

Unfamiliar Faces, Familiar Theme


Unfamiliar Faces, Familiar Theme

The following letter appears in our local papers this week.  The more I hear other people voice their frustration with the abundance of poor, young people in our area, the more I feel compelled to vent my hatred for the dope yuppies, moochie merchants and real-estate goons who make up the middle-class around here.

yuppie irradication project

Dear Editor,

Before we give voice to any more unkind thoughts we may have about the influx of new faces in our little town, we should remember that these are the faces of marijuana smokers, and that they are the source of our community’s prosperity. The next time you see a cluster of unfamiliar faces cluttering a stretch of sidewalk, ask yourself, “How much money did they spend on marijuana last year?” and “How much will they spend on marijuana next year?” The answer to both questions is “More than they can afford.”

too damn high

They will do without decent clothing, a car, or even a place to live, but they will not go without marijuana. This whole community was built with their money. Not only that, they pay prohibition prices for what would otherwise be a common weed. In order to make big money from marijuana, you need cops, and you need to arrest a lot of people. A million people, more or less, every year, for the last thirty years or so, have worn handcuffs, been strip searched, and made prisoners, in order to support marijuana prices, and profits for local growers.


Ask yourself, “How many of them have been arrested for marijuana?, How many of them spent time in jail for it? How many of them have been on probation? How much did they spend on lawyers and fines? How many of them have lost, or been denied jobs because they failed a drug test? How much has their enthusiasm for marijuana cost them?”


Yes, the unfamiliar faces we see around town pay for the prosperity that this community enjoys in money, time, agony and humiliation. They have, and will, continue to suffer needlessly, just so that this community can continue to demand a princely sum for a common fast growing weed.

pot prisoners

Every merchant and grower in SoHum owes them a huge debt of gratitude, and should celebrate their enthusiasm for marijuana. The least we could do is provide them with a restroom and clean up after them, just like we do at Reggae on the River.


If you really don’t want to see lots of raggedy looking strangers around town, don’t harass them or vandalize their meager possessions. Instead, donate money to NORML and other organizations working to legalize marijuana, sign the petition to get the Jack Herer initiative on the ballot, and find another way to earn a living that isn’t so dependent on them.




Rob Arkley’s War Against the Poor in Humboldt County


Rob Arkley’s War Against the Poor in Humboldt County

war against the poor

Humboldt County’s monied elite has had enough of poor people. The people who profited the most from the flood of narco-dollars into the county have decided that poor people are unsightly, and must be punished. Currently leading the assault against the poor is Eureka businessman, landlord, and banker, Rob Arkley.

Eureka, CA Businessman Rob Arkley

Eureka, CA Businessman Rob Arkley

They don’t mind that the whole county has been transformed into a giant drug ghetto thanks to two generations of drug-dealers who have driven up rent and housing costs by turning every square foot of residential space into a grow scene. No, our county’s landlords don’t mind collecting money from people who don’t have a job and aren’t looking for work, but when it comes to people who don’t have jobs, aren’t looking for work, and don’t pay rent, that’s another story.

where am I supposed to live

Thanks to these drug-war profiteers, we now basically have three kinds of people here in Humboldt County. We have landlords. We have drug dealers, and we have poor people, some working, some not, some with housing, some without. They’re all wretched. They’re all disgusting in their own way, and they all cause way more problems than they are worth.

more trouble than they're worth 1

We may produce some of the world’s best marijuana, but when it comes to people, Humboldt County produces, and attracts, the human equivalent of ditch-weed. Rich or poor, you’ll find an abundance of sketchy, dishonest, and generally undesirable people at every income level in Humboldt County. With such an abundance of small-minded opportunists, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that Humboldt County has become a cesspool of greed, exploitation and ugliness, and as tends to happen in cesspools, the scum rises to the top, and the sludge sinks to the bottom, trapping a layer of stagnant swill between them, all contaminated with the same toxic culture, and all slowly choking to death on their own filth.


It’s not a pretty picture, but it’s the truth. From the genocide of the Native Americans to the environmental destruction wrought by the gold rush and the wholesale liquidation of the old-growth forests, right up to our modern marijuana based economy, the entire history of Humboldt County has been a story of bad people doing awful things for the very worst of reasons. It’s a bottom-feeders paradise, and it produces some of the grossest scum, the rankest swill, and the most pathetic sludge you’ll ever have the displeasure of meeting.

humboldt loggers

Now that the marijuana money has started to dry up, Rob Arkley, one of the scummiest of our local scum, wants to see if we can drive poor people out of Humboldt County by closing down the last of Humboldt County’s soup kitchens, shelters and public rest-rooms. So, this is how we begin the grisly business of cannibalizing each other. The scum devour the sludge. The sludge leeches off the swill, and the swill sucks up to the scum. There are no “good guys” here. It’s the bad vs the ugly, the ugly vs the sick, and the sick infecting everyone.

two thumbs down

I mean, what is a merchant or a landlord but another scumbag who wants your money. They don’t want to work for a living. They want to use their money to extract money from you. They obviously have enough money for their own needs, plus they have a bunch of merchandise they don’t need, or an extra building or property that they hope to make even more money from. When they see desperately poor people all around them, all they can think about is how that poverty interferes with their greed. It’s disgusting, and when you see what they offer as wages to their employees and what they charge their tenants for rent, you’ll want to slit their greedy little throats. At least I do.

slit their throats

The fact that Rob Arkley is alive today testifies to the extremely tolerant nature of Humboldt County’s poor. I wouldn’t blame the poor and homeless one bit if they burned Old Town Eureka to the ground, or Downtown Garberville for that matter. The county’s poor and homeless have shown remarkable restraint, under the circumstances.  If you ask me, perhaps more than is warranted. It seems to me that the poor spend too much energy fighting among themselves and ripping each other off, when they could be vandalizing private property and murdering landlords who deserve it. Really, if the business community has declared war on the poor, the least the poor can do is return the favor.

death promise

We have about 2,000 homeless people in Humboldt County in the dead of winter, and we have about one-hundred beds available in shelters, a couple of public rest-rooms in Eureka, and a couple of places where people can get a free meal, and those kitchens only operate a few days a week. The vast majority of the county’s poor, get no help from any of those services.


The “social safety net” has been a joke in this country for decades. We don’t have a social safety net. We have poverty. We have poor people with nowhere to go and no prospects for the future. The handful of people who take pity on them are overwhelmed. Donations of food and clothing only go so far, and since most of that comes from private donors, the best that the scum at the top can do is vilify the last decent and compassionate people in Humboldt County in an attempt to stop them from helping the county’s most needy.


It’s a scummy scheme, schemed up by the scum at the top of the cesspool. The ones who got there by sucking up narco-dollars through overpriced rentals, sleazy land contracts and bogus business deals. Now that there are fewer narco-dollars to suck up, they blame the poor, but they are too cheap to hire enough cops to arrest them all, or build enough prisons to house them all.

protect and serve

In fact, the only reason the rich scumbags in Humboldt County got rich on the first place, was because there just aren’t enough cops to catch them in their crimes either. Humboldt county is a big place with lots of places to hide criminal activity. That has been the key to our economic growth for at least the last 40 years. That’s what allowed the marijuana industry to grow and flourish here despite a nationwide crackdown that landed millions of people in prison with stiff mandatory minimum sentences.

kids in prison

Now, we witness a nationwide effort to criminalize poverty, led by scumbags like Rob Arkley in every city in America. Unfortunately, the more we criminalize poverty, the more we will find poverty hiding out in Humboldt County.   Maybe we should think twice before we piss it off.homeless-

The Power of the Press


The Power of the Press

power of the press 1

Today, I am especially grateful to all of the writers and editors of our local newspapers here in Humboldt County who helped save my most recent gig. First, I want to thank Jennifer Savage who has been covering the music beat for the North Coast Journal while Bob Doran recovers. Not only did Jennifer do a nice write up about my show, she reminded me to send a photograph, which would not have occurred to me if I hadn’t read her column. The Hum, the NCJ’s weekly music feature is the best single source for upcoming music events in our area, and it was great to see my picture prominently displayed there.


Kevin Hoover gave me a nice bit of ink in his colorful, and colorfully written paper, The Arcata Eye. Humboldt County’s only daily newspaper, the conservative Times Standard printed my entire 800 odd word press release almost verbatim in their Sunday edition, as did their SoHum sister paper, The (weekly) Redwood Times.


Not to be outdone, my favorite SoHum newspaper, the family owned, left-leaning, free, weekly paper The Independent printed two great stories about my little gig way up there in Eureka, in the weeks preceding the show, and listed it in the calendar section as well. Special thanks to Managing Editor Joe Kirby for going the extra mile.


Even the Tri-City Weekly, an oft ignored, but ever present collection of classified ads fluffed out with entertainment and human interest features, gave me a mention on their Calendar page. Counting the listing in the Arts Alive section of the North Coast Journal, that was a total of six newspapers, six stories, one picture, and nine listings in our local print media, for one little performance at a record store. The show had also been mentioned on one of KHSU’s most popular music shows, Fogou with Vinny Devaney, as well as on KMUD’s Community Callendar.

vinny devaney

The biggest surprise in media coverage was a great piece by John Olson that appeared on the RadioHum Yahoo Group web site. John not only plugged my didgeridoo gig, but also mentioned the radio show that I host on KMUD on behalf of the Southern Humboldt Amateur Radio Club called The SHARC Report. Judging by the number of Hams that turned out for my gig, John’s piece clearly made an impact, and all of that coverage really saved the day for me. Besides putting my name and picture in front of thousands of people and luring some of them to come out to hear me play, that press actually saved the gig itself.

saved the gig

To me, as a musician, this little gig at the record store was a pretty big deal. It’s the only gig I have scheduled this month, and Arts Alive actually draws a pretty big crowd in Eureka. I knew that a lot of people would hear me play over the course of the evening. To most downtown business owners, however, Arts Alive is a pretty small part of running their business. Most business owners want to support local artists, and hate to say “no” to anyone who asks to show their work, or play in their establishment.

hate to say no

Bandon, owner of The Works Records in Eureka is especially supportive of local musicians, so when a personal friend of his asked him, just a few days before the Arts Alive event, if his band could also play at his record store on the same night, Bandon said “yes”, thinking that the two of us could split the three hours of Arts Alive.


Now you might think that an hour and a half of unaccompanied didgeridoo solos might be more than anyone should have to endure, but I very much wanted to play for the whole evening, knowing that there would be a completely different audience at 8:30 than at 6:30. I have two new CDs, and I wanted to make this event my CD release party for both of them. I intended to play two sets and demonstrate some of my circuit-bent instruments between sets. Like I said, this performance was a pretty big deal for me, and that’s why I pulled out all the stops on the press coverage.


My experience tells me that August is a good time to send out press releases because the news gets a little thin this time of year, but newspapers still have the same amount of space to fill, so items that might get ignored during busier times of the year, have a better shot at getting ink in August. Sure enough, every single paper I sent a release to, covered the story, and every single paper told its readers that I would be playing from 6:30 to 9:00pm.

clyde watches cubs game

So, when I checked in with Bandon on the day of the gig, I pressed my case. In a calculated assault, I began with a Savage blow, and dropped a copy of The Hum from the NCJ, that included that great picture taken by Traci Bear Thiele, in front of him, and let it sink in for a moment. Then I dropped the clipping from the Arcata Eye on top of it, followed by the piece in the Times Standard, The Independent, The Redwood Times, the second story from The Independent, and the Tri-City Weekly. Finally, I dropped a printout of John Olsen’s story from the HumRadio Yahoo Group, which was quite well written and flattering, Boom!


Bandon was overwhelmed. All of the clippings said that I would be playing from 6:30-9:00pm, none of them mentioned any other band playing at his venue that night. Bandon apologized for the mixup, called his friend and told them they could play at his store for Arts Alive next month, but their gig for that night was canceled. Success!


I got to play two sets, show off my circuit-bent creations and sell my CDs all night, as I had hoped. I had a great time, Bandon seemed happy about it, and the audience dug it too. It just goes to show you that despite the explosion of “new media”, newspapers still have clout, and Ham radio can still save your ass in times of emergency. Let that be a lesson to all of you seeking attention in the modern media landscape. Do not underestimate the power of newspapers to to change the course of history.


On The Money; What is Money, and Where Did It Come From?


On The Money;

Economics for the 99%

What is Money, and Where Did It Come From?

where and what is money

Money is a pretty weird thing if you think about it. Money can level forests and move mountains. Money can drill for oil on the bottom of the ocean, land a nuclear powered car on Mars or hunt people down and kill them with remote controlled aircraft. Money can turn your life upside down, make your tap-water catch fire and drive you out of your home. When people talk about their problems, money, or lack thereof, is usually at the top of the list. So, what is money, and where did it come from?

what smart people do with money

For most of human history, people had no money. People still had to work to get the things they needed, but the work was much more direct. If you wanted meat, you had to hunt and kill an animal. If you wanted a home, you had to build it from whatever you could find around you. All of this stuff was just hard enough to do that you wouldn’t want to do any more of it than you needed to, but easy enough that most of us could accomplish what we needed to do to survive.


Before money, trade was a much smaller part of people’s lives. If you wanted to trade, you had to find someone who had what you wanted, and you had to have something that they wanted. This might happen once or twice a year. The rest of the time, you made do with what you could find around you, all of which was free for the taking.

Indigenous People Amazon

Before money, nature was “the bank”. People made withdrawals, in the form of the plants and animals they ate and made their clothing from, the trees they made their homes from and the stones from which they crafted tools and weapons, and they made deposits in the form of shit, piss, food waste and eventually, their own bodies, which nature would rapidly recycle into more plants animals and minerals. The system was so well balanced that no one needed accountants, tax preparers or lawyers, and so stable that it lasted for hundreds of millions of years, including over a million years of human habitation, without outside intervention or regulation.

Portrait Of Hivshu RE Peary

If the natural system worked so well, why was money invented in the first place? The answer is beer. Sure, you can find plenty of food, water and stuff to build a house from in nature, but beer is pretty hard to come by. Occasionally, people could collect enough grass seeds, soak them in water for long enough to produce prehistoric beer, but not nearly often enough to satisfy the thirsts of the ancient Sumerians, who lived in the Middle-East, where it gets mighty hot in the summertime.

sumerian beer

The ancient Sumerians were the first people in the world to domesticate wild grasses, and begin farming. They burned huge tracts of forest land that had sustained them for eons, in order to grow wheat and barley. This took an enormous amount of work, and led to major headaches, like plagues of frogs, locusts, and flies, as well as turning a lot of habitable forest land into barren desert, but it did give them beer, and beer was very precious to them. It must have been, or why else would they have worked so hard and sacrificed so much in order to make it?

babylonian beer

So it should not surprise you that the first unit of money was the price of a beer, the Shekel. A shekel is equal to 180 grains of barley, roughly the amount needed to produce one beer. While everything else in the natural world was free, beer was expensive. So people counted their shekels, traded shekels and bought things with shekels of barley. Making shekels was no fun at all, but everyone liked beer, so shekels became the currency of the Sumerians, and that is how money was born.

1 shekel sumer

In economics classes they will tell you that money is a medium of exchange that facilitates trade. They’ll tell you that money is a technological advance that made trade more efficient, but nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, money was invented to facilitate alcoholism.


Many people, economists especially, overlook the central role of alcoholism in civilization. Archeologists have discovered ancient Mesopotamian recipes for beer, and friezes depicting beer drinking on Egyptian pyramids. It was only after beer-making had evolved to a high art, that people began eating the yeast-risen loaves of grain, what we now call “bread”, that were originally used to make to make individual batches of beer.


People eat cereal grains, sure, but compared to a fat steak from a wild antelope, a bowl of cream of wheat is nothing to get excited about. On the other hand, you can’t make beer out of a deer. The psychoactive effects of alcohol, no doubt, made cereal grains especially prized, and as people became habituated to alcohol intoxication, their craving for it grew.


As is the case with alcoholism, the more you drink, the less you care about anything else, until the quest for alcohol becomes the central focus of the alcoholic’s life. The more focused you become on alcohol, the more the rest of your life tends to fall apart. In order to feed their craving for alcohol, people worked long hours to cultivate grains. As grain farming expanded, farmed fields replaced natural habitat, and wild game became more scarce. With less wild game available, grain farmers increasingly traded with traditional hunter-gatherers, who themselves fell under the spell of alcoholism, making them dependent on the grain farmers for their beer. Thus, grain became a precious commodity. People who had a lot of grain, grew more powerful, and those with the most shekels, ruled.

ancient mesopotamian plow

So we see that money is, quite literally, a drug, and addiction to it has shaped, and continues to shape, the course of civilization. money is a drug

On The Money; The Economics of Addiction

On The Money;

Economics for the 99%

The Economics of Addiction

economics of addiction

Intro:  Since Joe brought up the subject of addiction in his comment to last weeks post, I thought I’d share my economic perspective on the subject.  I’ve been very busy finishing up the book, On the Money; Economics for the99% which I hope to complete very soon.  this is an excerpt.

Alcoholism has touched everyone’s life in one way or another. If it hasn’t happened to you, someone you love, or at least someone you know, has suffered tremendously, or perhaps even died from their inability to control their alcohol addiction, so I don’t need to tell you how awful it is.


Narcotics, like heroin, morphine, and other opiates, as well as most prescription pain medications quickly become habit forming, and produce strong physical addictions.


Nicotine, the active ingredient in tobacco products produces an even stronger physical addiction that alcohol or narcotics.


Cocaine, methamphetamine and other stimulants, through a completely different mechanism, have strong addictive potential because of how they alter brain chemistry.

meth changes your brain

Even caffeine, the active ingredient in coffee and soft-drinks, produces physical withdrawal symptoms, including headache, nausea and irritability, but not as severely as the previously mentioned drugs.

 coffee addict

Taken together, business in these addictive drugs forms a central pillar, if not the central pillar, of our modern economy, with the alcohol and tobacco industries forming the fattest slices of the addiction pie. Marketing addictive drugs makes excellent business sense because of the repeat business they generate. Few businesses enjoy the kind of reliable customer loyalty as do the purveyors of addictive drugs, and although highly profitable, these drugs produce almost unimaginable suffering for their users, their loved ones, and society as a whole.

 drug money

The powerful physical addictions these drugs produce, can easily enslave users to the degree that they will often sacrifice everything, including their health, dignity, family relationships, home, and environment to feed the physical cravings these drugs create in the people who use them habitually. Most drug addicts however, function very effectively within society and the economy, and suffer no such indignity Everyone knows a few cigarette smokers, habitual heavy drinkers, and people who do both. While these behaviors are quite common, and socially acceptable, many more imbibe secretly, or at least with some degree of discretion, so their addictions remain mostly unnoticed by the people around them.


Most addicts treat their addictions as part of their basic living expenses, like food or housing. They simply budget for the additional expense associated with their addiction, by working more than they would otherwise need to. Few earn so much that they don’t notice the cost of their addiction. Most, on the other hand, require significant extra resources to satisfy their craving. Contrary to the popular myth that drugs make people lazy, drug addiction is, in fact, the true source of our modern “work ethic”, and all of this extra work, does take its toll.


People living in tribal hunter/gatherer cultures generally work very little, by modern civilized standards, to meet their physical needs. At times, however, hardship may demand considerably more from them, and evolution has provided for that. Humans have evolved considerable reserve capacity to cope with these occasional hardships, and in good times hunter/gatherer tribes expend considerable energy socializing, dancing and in other activities that they enjoy, and that promote group cohesion.


Drug addiction adds significantly to a human being’s perceived daily physical needs, so addicted people use more of this reserve capacity, usually considerably more, just to cope with the added cost of the drug. As a result, addicted people work harder, feel more tired, and have less energy for the kind of social activities that build group and family cohesion. On the environmental side of this equation, trees, plants, and animals don’t grow any faster, or reproduce any more prolifically, just because humans have adopted a drug addicted lifestyle, so this additional human neediness leads to additional stress on the natural environment.

 Nike Stand Up Speak UP Imagery

So, addicted people put in more hours at work. At first, this meant clearing land for drug crops, as the ancient Sumerians did in Mesopotamia, to grow barley and wheat for their beer. This gave rise to farm life, a lifestyle defined by endless toil. As tribal people fall under the influence of addictive drugs, they hunt more than they need, and trade the surplus for drugs.

ur arial shot

Ancient City of Ur. Used to be a cedar forest, cleared to grow barley and wheat for beer

As game becomes more scarce, addicted people make more clothes, baskets, drums, arrows, or any other craft items they previously made only for themselves, in order to trade them for drugs. All of this extra work further depletes the natural environment, so addicted people then go further afield to find the resources they need to feed themselves, and their addictions, which brings them into conflict with tribes who inhabit those areas.

 tribal conflict

In this way, drug addiction produces physical, social and environmental stress, that eventually leads to physical, social and environmental collapse. There in a nutshell, you have the economic history of civilization. It’s not pretty, (or funny I’m afraid) but its On The Money.


On The Money; A New Game Piece in Monopoly

On The Money;

Economics for the 99%

A New Game Piece in Monopoly


I heard recently that Milton-Bradley Corporation, makers of the ubiquitous board game Monopoly, has retired the iron. If you haven’t played Monopoly for a while, I’ll remind you that to start the game, each player chooses, from among a handful of miniature metal objects, one of them to represent them on the game-board.

monopoly game pieces

The iron, never popular as a game piece, has finally retired. My mother retired her iron in the ’70s. I’ve certainly never owned one, and I’d have no idea how to use it if I did.. I’ll bet a lot of young people today wouldn’t even recognize an iron, or have any idea what it was used for.


In its place, M-B has introduced a new game piece, the cat, a brilliant move if you ask me. I love cats. I would much rather be a cat, than an iron, any day of the week. The cat might get chased around a bit by the Scotty dog, or get run over by the race car, but I think the cat will do well in the game of Monopoly, maybe a little too well.


The cat just might undermine the the entire premise of the game of Monopoly, and none too soon, frankly. Think about it. Can you imagine a cat ever paying rent? I can’t. If you’ve ever been to the real Atlantic City, you can’t help but notice that the closer you get to the Boardwalk, the more cats you see. I’ll bet not one of them pays rent.

boardwalk cats

Even though you’ll find hotels galore on the real Boardwalk, you’ll also notice dozens of cats, strutting up and down and under the Boardwalk, like they own the place, without a care in the world. I think they have the right attitude, and as newcomers to the game of Monopoly, that attitude just might save the cat, and us.

boardwalk cats support

The game of Monopoly is an exercise in what economists call, “rent-seeking behavior”. In the game, you “buy” a “property”, say “Baltic Ave.” for instance. Then, when other players land on a “property” you “own”, they pay you “rent”. When you “own” all of the “properties” in a particular area, you can charge the unfortunate players that land there, higher “rent”. If you spend some more money on those “properties”, buying “houses” and “hotels” you raise the “rent” still further. You win the game, when other players no longer have enough “money” to pay the “rent” they owe.

monopoly money

In real life, rent-seeking behavior has become epidemic, and it represents a major shift in our economy. You can expect to see more rent-seeking-behavior as the economy shifts away from manufacturing and resource extraction, towards this more coercive and direct form of blood-sucking.


For generations in the past, capitalism must have seemed rather magical. Markets brimmed with consumer goods that seemed to appear out of nowhere. Fish from distant ocean fisheries, cheap redwood patio furniture, harvested from remote forest habitat, radios, toys, clothes and other products manufactured in distant lands, from materials mined in far-flung corners of the Earth, surely amazed the American consumer, eager to have them all. Most consumers didn’t see the devastation that capitalism left in it’s wake. They just saw a seemingly endless supply of shiny new things to buy.


In the future, our economy will look very different. Instead of a magical place where shiny new things appear out of nowhere, the economy will look like your landlord, and the sheriff’s deputy who comes to evict you. The economy will be breathing down your neck constantly, not letting you get too comfortable anywhere. Instead of extracting resources from distant lands, the economy will extract them from you. Even now, the economy looks, and feels more like the game of Monopoly, than it did to your parents generation, but the Baby Boomers really enjoy playing Monopoly, especially since they got a head start.


Because of their large numbers, the Baby Boomers already occupy a large portion of the available housing. Because they grew up at the very pinnacle of American consumerism, they have wildly unrealistic expectations for their lifestyle, and because they got into the housing market well before the housing bubble, they were well positioned to acquire “investment properties”, and hold on to them even as younger families lost their overpriced homes in the foreclosure crisis.


Since the Federal Government taxes the money they make from renting those investment properties, at the low “capital gains” rate, rather than as “earned income”, tax policy strongly encourages this kind of “rent-seeking behavior”. Think about this when you hear politicians talk about the “capital gains tax”. They’ll say that keeping the “capital gains tax” low, creates jobs. In reality, the low capital gains tax rate screws young working people out of their chance to own a home and drives rent prices up.


Isn’t it ironic that the Baby Boomers, who introduced terms like “crash-pad”, “hippie commune”, and “intentional community” into the general lexicon, have turned into some of the greediest landlords in the history of humanity. The Boomers like playing “Monopoly” with these “investment properties”, and they’ve read dozens of books about how to “win” at it. Even as wages stagnated through most of their working careers, many of them have done quite well for themselves by engaging in this kind of “rent seeking behavior”.


While they never stop congratulating themselves for the Civil-Rights Movement, the Boomers now harbor as much prejudice and hostility, based on income, as their bigoted, racist parents did, based on skin color. The Boomers especially despise the homeless, who conspicuously avoid paying rent. I’ve heard the same kind of derogatory slurs, and vile comments hurled at the poor and homeless from former hippies, as I heard from the bigoted, racist drunks my Grandparents hung with, about Blacks and Hispanics, 40 years ago.


Today’s large poor and homeless population remind them of just how badly they’ve failed as a generation, something they remain in deep denial about. They don’t want to face the fact that the problems in our society run far deeper than the superficial changes they’ve made to the status quo, and that many of those changes only exacerbated the real problems we face as a culture.

satus quo

The Boomers also expect to finish their lives, enjoying the same kind of excessive consumption that characterized their youth and middle age, but having lived at the very pinnacle of American consumerism, they long ago outstripped the carrying capacity of the planet, and have been consuming your future ever since.

Boomers go for bust

They really don’t want to face this fact. They can’t face this fact, and they can’t face life without their lattes, luxury cars and lots and lots of things to buy. So, they blame the poor and the young, victimizing them with their hostility, defensiveness and denial, as well as their excess.

boomer 2

The Boomers don’t understand, or care, why you don’t have the money, or why you don’t want to pay it to them. They know that the law, and market forces are on their side, and they intend to press their advantage. They won’t face the reality of their unsustainable lifestyle, so long as they can extract more from you. They intend to win this game of Monopoly, and they don’t care what’s left for you when they’re done.


In the future, rental properties will fall increasingly into the hands of the 1%, who will form large faceless property management companies to run them. They will hire thugs and creeps to manage these properties who will bully tenants, steal their belongings and skimp on needed repairs even more than the Boomers who own them now.


While the constitution guarantees privacy rights to home owners, tenants increasingly sign these rights away when they sign a rental agreement. As home ownership becomes less affordable, the terms of rental agreements will favor landlords even more. Rentals will become less secure, less private, and more expensive, as the 1% uses them to squeeze even more blood out of their tenants.


Enter, the cat. Cats play by their own rules. Cats hunt ferociously. Cats scavenge effectively. Cats beg endearingly. Cats hide invisibly and cats howl incessantly. Cats are inscrutable. Cats are unpredictable, and cats are the most effective killing machines nature ever unleashed on planet Earth.

ferocious cat

Cats know how to get their way, but cats never pay rent. As a newcomer to this game, you don’t stand a chance if you play by their rules, but as a cat, you can strut up and down boardwalk like you own the place without a care in the world. Take what you need and stay out from under foot. There’s some Monopoly advice that’s On the Money.

boardwalk cats under

On The Money; “Quantitative Easing”

On The Money

Economics for the 99%

How “Quantitative Easing” Makes Life More Difficult

porky and bust

Over the last few years, the Federal Reserve has pumped trillions of dollars into the economy in an effort to spur growth, through a program they call “Quantitative Easing”. Many feared that this would lead to spiraling inflation, but outside of food and energy, prices have not risen much in the last few years. How was the Fed able to pump so much liquidity into the economy without triggering Zimbabwe-like hyper-inflation, or even Carter era-like double-digit inflation?


Usually, when a country pumps a lot of liquidity into the economy, they put that money into the hands of the people, through government jobs programs, relief aid, etc. Poor and working people spend that money almost immediately. When you suddenly have more money trying to buy the same amount of available stuff, prices rise, fueling inflation, but that’s not what happened here.


While the Federal government did spend some tax dollars on stimulus projects, while extending unemployment benefits and expanding Food Stamps, that only amounted to a drop in the bucket compared to the liquidity the Fed has injected through quantitative easing. Instead of hiring tens of thousands of people for public works projects, tens of thousands of State and Federal workers lost their good paying government jobs in this recession. Benefits for the elderly and disabled shrank rather than grew, and schools felt the pinch as well.

 death of social safety net

Money earmarked for the housing crisis mostly went to the banks who made the bad loans, not the poor people who lost their homes. While the Fed continued to print money like Safeway circulars, the vast majority of us haven’t seen any of it. Since we still don’t have any money, we can’t go out and buy stuff. Since we can’t buy stuff, stuff sits on shelves. When stuff sits on shelves, retailers can’t raise prices, and inflation remains low, but where did all the money go?


According to Harper’s Index, about 90% of all new income generated since the recession started, went to the wealthiest 10% of the population. Among them, the top one-tenth of 1% took the lion’s share. The Fed carefully funneled all of this new liquidity into the pockets of the super-rich. That money went to bank reserves, bank executives, bank shareholders, financial executives and the like. Those people already have lots of money and extravagant lifestyles, so the rest of the economy hardly noticed the trillions of dollars the Fed handed them, because mostly, it got squirreled away in oversea tax havens.


Now, however, we begin to see that money coming back into the market, to buy up foreclosed and distressed homes. Home prices, you’ll doubtless recall, surged to astronomical heights riding a nationwide housing bubble, fueled by lender’s eagerness to loan extraordinary amounts of money against extremely ordinary homes. Somehow, this hyper-inflation in the housing market seemed like a good thing at the time.


Eventually, however, ordinary people failed to earn the extraordinary amounts of income that the lenders assured them they would, leading to the complete collapse of the housing market, bank failures, and a massive taxpayer bailout…of the banks, while millions of families lost their homes through foreclosure.

 perfect storm

For the last few years, a huge glut of overpriced homes, that rich people wouldn’t be caught dead in, but working people cannot afford, has depressed the real-estate market. The invisible hand of the free market should cause the hyper-inflated prices of these ugly suburban homes to drop until ugly suburban families can afford to buy them, but thanks to the Fed, and their “quantitative easing”, the rich now have enough money to buy all of these homes, even though they still sell for twice their pre-bubble price. The rich can then rent these ugly suburban homes to ugly suburban families by the month or year, making them a sound investment once again


Do you see how that worked? First the banks created hyper-inflation in the housing market. When that went bust, the banks held a gun to the government’s head and demanded a taxpayer bailout, and we all lost our homes and our jobs, which sent the economy into a tailspin. Then the Fed printed a lot of cash and gave it to the rich, so that they could afford to buy up all of our homes and rent them back to us. That way, instead of creating new hyper-inflation with all of that new liquidity, the Fed just preserved the leftover hyper-inflation from the housing bubble, thus relieving us, as working people, from the burden of home ownership, and the accumulation of all of that pesky equity. Wasn’t that clever?

 Being evil-500x500

Lo and behold, now it looks like the economy is recovering. Isn’t that great? Most of us are still worse off than we were 10 years ago, but for the 1%, The Great Recession represents a major victory in their efforts to enslave the American people. Why do you think they call it “The Great Recession”, while the rest of us call it “The New Normal”? You can bet that as soon as you get used to “The New Normal”, the economy will tank again, and they’ll expect you to make even more sacrifices to prop it up. There’s a look at “Quantitative Easing” that’s On The Money.

bernanke explains qe

On The Money; A Suit, a Cell Phone and a TV

On The Money;

Economics for the 99%

A Suit, A Cell Phone and a TV

suit cell and tv

According to the UN, in order to participate fully in American society, you need to have three things:


1, a suit, 2, a cell phone and 3, a TV set, which begs the question: Why would anyone in their right mind want to participate fully in American society? I own none of these things. I don’t miss them one bit, and I pity the poor people who have them. Think about it.


If you need a TV, I presume that you are expected to watch it too. That can’t be good for you. Don’t you have something better to do with your time in American society?


Then again, what can you do while wearing a suit?

dorcus sweat

You can pose for pictures. You can work at a desk. You can chat with other people wearing suits. You can walk a short distance, a couple of blocks or so, if it is paved, mowed, tiled or carpeted the whole way. You can watch TV, I suppose, and you can drink. If someone serves you, and you are very careful, you can eat, but that’s about it.


What can’t you do in a suit? Fix a car, build a house, paint, weld, cook, fish, hunt, climb a tree, hike the Appalachian Trail, have sex, mow the lawn, clean the bathroom, or pretty much anything else that you really need to do to survive, or would actually enjoy doing, you probably don’t want to do it in a suit.

Man in Suit Hiking

You cannot launder a suit. You must have it dry-cleaned. This costs money, and has the bonus of impregnating your clothes with toxic chemical residue, which you then breathe in, and absorb through your skin. Perchlorethylene, or “Perc” a ubiquitously used dry-cleaning solvent, causes cancer and acts as a powerful neurotoxin, so it makes you dumber before it kills you.

dry cleaning toxic

I imagine someone participating fully in American society, sitting there in front of the TV in their suit, poisoning body and mind, and then they pick up their cell phone.


I guess they use it to order food and have it delivered, or call their mechanic, or any of the other contractors who actually live their lives for them. Funny that the UN did not list “money” as one of the things that you needed to participate fully in American society.


Really, if you have money, you don’t need a suit, you don’t need a TV and you don’t even need a cell phone. If you have enough money, you can afford to pay people to wear suits for you, make your phone calls for you and you can pay attractive and interesting people to sit on your own sofa and make idle chit-chat, so I really think the UN missed the boat on this one.


This is like saying that to participate fully in heroin addiction, you need a syringe, a spoon and a candle. No, if you are a heroin addict, you have a syringe, a spoon and a candle, but you need heroin. The syringe, spoon and candle are not going to help you get heroin. It’s only your sheer desperation and willingness to do anything for your fix, that gets you the heroin. That’s how you participate fully in heroin addiction.


So it goes with American society. It’s only your willingness to do anything for money that makes you put on that toxic suit, and answer that blasted cell phone. The hypnotic glow of television is always there to absorb what little attention you have left at the end of the day, and insure that you never even imagine any other way to live. That’s what I’d call full participation in American society, and I pity anyone who does it.



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