VALUES EQUAL PROFITS

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values equal profits

VALUES EQUAL PROFITS

Soon, we will get anything from anyone, from anywhere at anytime. Prices will plummet, profits will evaporate, businesses will respond to this by differentiating themselves with the only thing they possess which sets them apart from the entirety of always-on global competition — their values. Their opposition to gay marriage, their embrace of sustainable food practices, their refusal to outsource to anti-democratic nations, their intolerance of robot labor, their deep, abiding faith in Jesus Christ. Values will determine their customer base, their margins, their market, their future. The purely profit-based corporation will soon become a relic of the past. In the next stage of commerce, values will always be on display and used for exchange.

I seek to foster, guide, and document this future of commerce.

But understand, this is not a commerce-led revolution but a personal, collective and technological one.

Global commerce is no longer about competing (or cooperating) nations but individuals, groups, and the new tools which are enabling anyone to make, distribute, sell, collect, and connect with everyone instantly, literally. And when everyone is engaged in commerce — capitalism, bartering and exchange — values will drive what they make, where they sell, to who, and why.

When convenience is omnipresent, and margins are ground to zero, values will drive the market.

You can’t hide.

From your tweets, your Facebook, from your supply chain, from the statements of your owner, where you sell, where you build, how much you pay, what political issues you embrace and which you ignore, that information will be instantly available with the swipe of our finger. Next, the AI will be set to inform us exactly who aligns with our own values, who does not, and we will purchase accordingly.

This is liberation, yes. This is also opportunity.

The very tools which are eradicating all barriers to entry, allowing anyone to make or have made, to sell anywhere, collect instantly, distribute globally, ensure you can operate your business in a manner entirely aligned with your values.

When everyone is engaged in commerce, capitalism, bartering, crowdsourcing, exchange, when all data is known — about people and products, place and politics — values will drive what they make, where they sell, and why. And when convenience is omnipresent and margins ground to zero, values will drive profits.

Our technologies are not merely enabling values-led commerce, but demanding it.

GOOD GOD I DON’T NEED A REASON

“I never thought too hard on dying before.
I never sucked on the dying.
I never licked the side of dying before.
And now I’m feeling the dying.”

They pointed the way but nobody heard.

They uncovered truths and nobody cared.

They followed their own path. The end.

Future no longer remembers Gen X. Preceded by Boomers, proceeded by Millennials, runt of the demographic litter, which is fine, really.

What if they could be more?

I think of alternate realities.

Not those steampunk novels.

Steampunk is boring.

A novel I would read, though, would explore how Earth could be today had us Earthlings back in the late 1980s embraced and sustained grunge-punk, not rap.

But that’s just too hard to believe. More believable, an alt-history where Earth embraced and sustained techno, not rap.

Think of it.

Back when he mattered, Eminem wrote:

“And Moby? You can get stomped by Obie
you 36-year-old baldheaded fag, blow me!
You don’t know me, you’re too old, let go.
It’s over, nobody listens to techno.”

Strong.

But what if he was wrong? What if there never was an Eminem because rap fizzled out and techno spread around the world, becoming the dominant form of popular music?

I think the world would be a nicer place, honestly.

It strikes me as odd that the number of births and the wrong choices of a group born around the same time would have such a long-lasting ripple effect on the next culture and the next.

Is there a better way?

Numbers?

Because, if numbers, that can be coded and computers can assess trillions of numbers every second.

Which are probably far more than necessary.

Think of how easy it is to judge someone based on only a single number.

What’s your GPA? What’s your ACT score?

High school football players eager to play for the top college football teams are assigned a number, typically between 2 and 5. Recruit X is a 4 ‘star’ and Recruit Y is a 5 ‘star’ but Recruit Z is only a ‘3’ star.

What is your hs-CRP score? It helps determine the amount of inflammation in your body and is a good predictor of your likelihood of stroke or heart attack. You want a hs-CRP score of less than 1 and certainly no more than 3.

What is your HDL? Your LDL?

What are the number of hours per day you sit? That offers a clue into your lifespan.

China, which made your iPhone, has not stopped at simply illegalizing the open, anonymous web. They have begun rolling out a numbers system which helps them determine how great a threat you are to their existing power structure. Points are assigned based on a range of personal variables.

In the US, algorithms are used to take money from us, make money off us, loan us money or, possibly, land us in jail. Numbers that feed these algorithms are based on race, gender, marital status, credit score, income, age.

Tell me your age.

Tell me your income.

What is the cost of your debt?

We dislike it but numbers are used to represent us and they typically do a very good job.

The President sleeps very little, a curiosity among many. While most of America slept last night, the President went on Twitter, which served him various tweets, links and videos, all based on an algorithm, not chronological order. One such tweet struck his fancy, which he then retweeted.

This act brought swift and protracted gnattering from the heretofore established media.

Algorithms impact our economy and productivity, our creativity, our mental health, our knowledge and our awareness, even our nation’s security. Algorithms are everywhere. Stock funds are using algorithms with the hopes of generating outsized returns. The algorithm can assess and intuit more and probably better financial trends, government filings, visual patterns, social changes, purchase data, customer tweets and the like. Facebook’s algorithms may know — before anyone else, before even friends and family — if someone is nearing suicide:

Algorithms are also helping with dying, telling healthcare professionals who most (and most soon) requires palliative care.

Algorithms are also used — which means they are also gamed — to determine what your child sees next on YouTube, far too much of which punctures their senses and pollutes their spirit.

New rule: We must not ever allow algorithms to be unleashed if they harm children and/or diminish life and living — ever.

If our algorithm non-use limits our economy, if shutting off algorithms borks our entertainment, that is small sacrifice. The spread of algorithms into every device and across every human interaction changes everything and everyone forever. They must do no harm.

This is particularly true with respect to children.

Deuteronomy, 12:31: “You shall not worship the Lord your God in that way, for every abominable thing that the Lord hates they have done for their gods, for they even burn their sons and their daughters in the fire to their gods.”

We have always known that sacrificing children is an abomination.

“You’ve got your hands over your ears.
You’ve got your mouth running on.
You’ve got your eyes looking for something
that can never be found.
Like a reason.
Good god, I don’t need a reason.”

Fugazi was once a thing. They were fun to see. Trust me.

BITCOIN BLUDGEON

The price of one Bitcoin snuck past $15,000 today.

Had you bought (many) Bitcoin (3-5) years ago, you would now be (theoretically) rich.

Assuming, of course, in addition to going back in time, you could divine some means of actually turning that $1 million or $150 million in Bitcoin (value) to cash, or land, or stocks. But, sure, tell yourself you could have been a (multi-) millionaire. Tell yourself you can simply open up that digital wallet and ask one of the many Bitcoin exchanges to deposit the millions in cash into your bank account. Go on, try.

Everyone wants to be rich.

Never before have there been as many theoretical paths to riches.

So why is just about everyone struggling?

And why are those in the richest rich club doing all they can to lock everyone else out?

Americans — most Americans — still — still — want to work hard, make a good deal of money and then exchange that money for the freedom and security and products and services and experiences and niceties it affords.

This is why so many — which is inexplicable to the media, which is inexplicable to me — admire President Donald Trump. He has worked hard, damn hard, and very obviously enjoys all that his money affords him, including boasting about all that his money affords him.

Yes, he was born into money, unlike most, but he then — unlike most born into money — worked all day, all night, every day, every night, to be far more rich than when he started.

Is he gauche?

When you have like-Trump money, you get the choice to be discreet with it.

Americans want money.

Americans want to earn their money.

This is why so many react so bitterly to government healthcare, though they know how vital it is, because it negates their own power, their own freedom, the likelihood of them ever getting a great job with great earned pay and benefits, including healthcare. Earn your wealth, that wealth can be used in part to ensure your good health. Similarly, there’s a reason the only people who are promoting a “universal basic income” — a monthly check sent to everyone, forever — are either already rich or those who hate to get their hands dirty.

Money is power.

Work, build, make, create, extend, increase — and you earn money.

Which earns you power.

Earned power is the wisest of all the powers.

Someone sends you a check, not only did you not earn it, and this informs you you are lesser than they, but you are now dependent upon people you don’t know and who don’t know you and may not understand you and probably couldn’t care less and so could stop your monthly check or make you bark for it.

That’s no way to live.

This is why those working so hard — for just $15 an hour — are driving up the price of a Bitcoin, or throwing their money away on obviously doomed Initial Coin Offerings. They don’t need to be taught the foolishness of investing what they don’t have on a ICO con, they already know this, just as they already know they probably aren’t going to win the Lotto, but when all the other ways are shut off to them, the almost certainly impossible odds are still better than not at all.

We hear tales of a handful of fortunates who were early investors in Silicon Valley Big Next and who are now worth many millions, even billions.

Yet, late into the second decade of the 21st century, with everyone on the Internet, with crowdsourcing a provable business model, with instant access to information everywhere, it remains nearly impossible for any actual hardworking American to become an early stage investor — in anything.

Go on, try it.

Note all the legal barriers and financial regulations placed before you.

Okay, fine, but you are smart, insightful, resourceful, and so you know to be first in line to buy shares of Silicon Valley Big Next the very moment it goes public.

Nope.

Insiders have now created a “secondary market” that essentially allows the fortunate few to buy and sell their shares only to other insiders, shutting off outside access and preventing you from ever taking part in the financial bounty.

You are being systematically denied the opportunity to participate in the future’s bounty. It’s a rigged economy, despite all the apotheosized potential.

Bitcoin is a gamble. It’s also a sledgehammer. Both of these are needed right now.

“Now, when I talked to God, I knew He’d understand.
He said, ‘Stick by my side and I’ll be your guiding hand.
But don’t ask me what I think of you,
I might not give the answer that you want me to’.”

No one could have imagined Fleetwood Mac would become what it became.

BABY YOU’RE A RICH MAN

The rich young man informed Jesus that he faithfully obeyed each of the commandments. The rich young man was certain Jesus would smile, nod, bless him, then send him on.

Jesus did not.

Instead, Jesus told the man to sell his possessions, give all his wealth to the poor.

We are led to believe the man did not.

We spend too much time admiring the rich, discussing the rich, attempting to copy the rich, I think, rather than seeking to understand the poor, and poverty, and living without.

Chamath Palihapitiya is a very rich man.

Facebook money.

Mr. Palihapitiya, who also owns the Golden State Warriors and interests in various tech companies, is, I doubt you are surprised to learn, quick to tell others what they are doing wrong.

Recently, however, he told us what he did wrong: help build Facebook.

“The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops that we have created are destroying how society works. No civil discourse. No cooperation. Misinformation. Mistruth. And it’s not an American problem. This is not about Russian ads. This is a global problem. So we are in a really bad state of affairs right now, in my opinion.”

Do not expect Mr. Palihapitiya to give any of his Facebook money back.

Do not expect him to live like the poor, nor the middle, nor even the well-to-do professional class. He belongs to that tiny thriving cabal of aggressively globalist, virulently tech-centric, fabulously wealthy men and women who have prospered these past 30 years, even as millions of Others lose their work, their livelihood, witness the destruction of their community.

One of the apex beneficiaries of a political + financial + educational + economic structure which we can only question now because of the very clear and present backlash to it. It’s sort of like how those winning the culture wars never say culture wars, just culture. Only the losers say culture war. For the winners, it’s the culture.

For the economic winners, globalization is The Economy.

Until it’s not, of course.

To deride the men and women who find hope in electing men and women who just might represent their needs, their wants, their communities, at long last, is to deny the very real suffering your preferred economic system has created for millions.

Don’t do that.

Maybe the poor will always be with us, but the poor have a vote, and they also deserve a listen.

Tupac wondered if there is a ghetto in heaven.

“I’d rather be dead than a po’ nigga
Let the Lord judge the criminals
If I die, I wonder if Heaven got a ghetto”

I suspect not.

I Wonder If Heaven Got a Ghetto is a lyrical call to worship and a brutal call to arms. A five-minute homily that drops more wisdom, more real, than a college student might learn in a year — or a journalist in a lifetime.

Sadly, the music is wretched. Strip away the words and I Wonder If Heaven Got a Ghetto is almost painful to listen to, a throwaway 1990s drum kit vomit of a song, saccharine R&B blended with “urban adult contemporary” preening.

I think our current economic and cultural and political structures, particularly those being built up, less so those crumbling, those fading into the past, and the ones being set fire to, are like this Tupac song. There is brilliance inside, and goodness, and truth, and a reaching out, and a looking toward, but there’s also so much crap and hate and anger and violence overlaid, and we need to come to terms with this, if we are to right it.

Maybe, and I can’t promise this will be validated, but maybe if we listen to all those who the current cultural winners are brandishing as angry or racist or on the wrong side of history, maybe we can make the system they so admire actually work for all.

And without anybody having to give up everything they got.

“Now the tables have turned around
You didn’t listen, until the niggas burned it down
And now Bush can’t stop the hit
I predicted the shit, in 2Pacalypse
And for once I was down with niggas, felt good
In the hood bein’ around the niggas, yeah
And for the first time everybody let go
And the streets was death row
I wonder if Heaven got a ghetto”

BUS RIDE

Truth be told, it wasn’t my idea, not the revival part, that just happened, I just wanted to go, just go and keep going, maybe bring joy into people’s lives, starting with mine, see what’s out there, learn, change, help, like disciples, only we had no leader, no Jesus, least not one we could all point to, that kind of magic had long since been taught out of us, though we still were allowed to create our own magic, if we could, most couldn’t, but that’s not my issue, or maybe it is, maybe that’s why I did this, because I just one day decided to use what little money we had, never told the wives, though they needed to go also, that much was clear, and so I refashioned a late model driverless truck and made it into a traveling mobile home, not home, exactly, more a collection of people, me, the wives, our children, a couple neighbors, others who joined us, took a lot of time, wasn’t hard, just time-consuming, of course time I have plenty of, what with our monthly stipend only requiring us to pledge to work 4 hours a day, but it took me a year, all told, to turn that truck into a mobile village, two bathrooms, makeshift kitchen, bunks for 15, plus our tools, out belongings, we’d travel the roads, laugh at the folks staring at us, stop wherever it seemed interesting, or when we had grown too restless to keep moving, bit of petty crime, some sex trade, off-list drugs, that sort of stuff, only it slowly turned into something else, a sort of revival in motion, others tracking our every mile, we’d all get out, the curious townfolk would gather, like we were from some distant star, at first a few, then crowds of fifty, then a hundred, then a thousand, a mini-economy built up, we’d offer music and dance, do baptisms for money, trade artwork for protein drinks and anti-aging pills, offer prayers for the people who joined in, and sometimes for those that didn’t, maybe stay in other’s homes, learn from each other, steal a small object or two, tack it onto the bus, a testament to who we met, where we’d been, their lives, though that wasn’t always easy, the motors in my legs had long since run down and not many were willing to help a 600-pound-man into their home, then on to the next town, then the next, hoping that the bridge from Alaska to Russia, which they promised to have completed five years ago, ever got finished, yes it was fine for everyone watching us, we’re now one of the most popular shows on the screen, people tracking us eat, sleep, stop, build, tear down, but I’d also like to see those folks across the oceans in real, not just in screen, that also makes for much better music, I think, since it’s quicker to feel what the others feel, of course that’s for another day, right now I’m just happy to be moving, staring up out the window overhead, laying here in my bunk, wondering what it will be like where we stop next, how the people will treat us, how the local security will treat us, what the children will discover, who will join us, who will depart us, what we’ll trade, that’s always the most fun, the thinking about it before.

CHEAPER THAN A DOG

Your name is Prosody.

My name is Prosody, she replied.

No!

The man struck her. You sound much too timid!

She tried again.

My name is —

Smack!

You sound like you’re unsure!

There were tears. She was only 7, barely two feet tall. She smiled, but you could sense she was deeply hurt.

I don’t like you.

Why don’t you like me, she replied — then was punched this time, eliciting another howl, then pleading. Please, stop! Get off. Please!

A voice from behind the glass spoke. Sounds fake.

If you play with me then I will like you.

She rushed to the small table, eager. I like to play!

That’s not where you’re supposed to sit!

There was an audible whimper. She slowly got off the chair. She stood, trying hard not to cry, failing.

You know where you’re supposed to sit!

The tears began streaming down her pudgy cheeks. She did not know where she was supposed to sit.

Can I sit here?

Another voice from behind another glass. Now she sounds too human.

You’re too fat to sit there.

I wish I wasn’t fat.

You are fat! Fat and stupid! We are not friends!

Please be my friend! She rushed in close for a hug.

The man looked toward the glass. I think she’s ready.

The perfect companion. Even for the problem children.

For $50 you can’t expect perfection.

Still, cheaper than a dog.

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