Stealthy Transition

 

A fascinating phenomenon to watch is the silent shift of culture from one era to another. Why did flappers become flappers in the 1920’s? Where did they go? What effect on people occurred because in 1933 income tax was 94% on the rich and businesses were required to pay a straight profit tax of 52% (35% today with further deductions through loopholes)? As a consequence, our culture changed. The taxes continued to improve for the wealthy (39% today). Meanwhile, since 1940, inflation has increased 2,283%; from 1940 to 2008, salaries show an increase of 455%.

What once was a grand democracy that represented equal opportunity (the American Dream) gradually became an oligarchy but we were not aware that this change in cultural value was happening. Election precinct captains were replaced by billionaires and corporations; voting rights were displaced by increasingly severe gerrymandering. But were we aware? Were we aware of the disappearance of fairness, of equal opportunity, of the slow strangulation caused by worker salaries that haven’t risen with inflation or Gross Domestic Profit for 75 years? Are we aware of the changes in corporate law that slowly drain the existence of freedom? Our culture has changed. Yet, as each day passes, as we live our daily lives, we are aware only of the occasional bellwether – still unaware that our core culture has changed.

We have changed many times in the past 75 years. As a visual analogy, most can measure cultural change with music. Do we remember big bands, swing, the Charleston, J-hop, meringue, jitterbug, and line dancing? Today, dancing has become a herd motion of subtle bouncing and shuffling – often as couples, often not. Music and dancing obviously have changed. Why? There is nothing wrong with change; it is precisely comparable to the growth zones in a plant: If a plant doesn’t produce new leaves and roots, the plant will die. The concern with humanity is that, unlike the plant, there is no control of new growth. Human change is willy-nilly and too often not beneficial to humanity in general.

There is a silent change occurring today. Privacy is disappearing. Personal freedom to choose is disappearing. Even government and corporations change policy based on a presumption of what and who you are without your input.

Blame it on the power of computers and electronic communication combined with high-profit greed. The institutions, whatever kind, want to control the financial aspects of our lives. Your opportunity for simple things like the interest available to you for a loan is predetermined by FICO, income, and asset value. This model may make sense to an accountant but it lacks in human spirit, ingenuity, and human purpose. The financial institutions don’t take into account your personal existence.

If one applies for a job, one is given a human-to-human interview only after a series of searches into your income, deportment, credit, neighborhood, and places one has lived, marital status, criminal activity – including traffic violations – education grades and sometimes even one’s immediate family. Again, there seems to be an interest in one’s deviation from a predetermined profile – not the substance of the applicant and the wellbeing of the human spirit.

Do you sneak a peek at pornography once in a while? Do you use email? Especially, do you use social media? Do you gamble online? Do you buy clothes, hardware, books, groceries, chocolate, or look for an automobile? Google knows. Even if you use Bing or Yahoo, Google knows. Google will sell your personal information for profit. Google knows who your friends are. Google can sense changes in your personal life. The end result is, in a very subtle way, that you will be given access only to information that fits your profile. If you want to buy a Cadillac but your profile says you should own a Chevrolet, you’ll have to dig up Cadillac data on your own and the loan officer will add a point or two to your loan interest because your deviation from your profile suggests risk.

Just for the experience, the mariner suggests the reader pay a few dollars to have an online detective service search your background. Using nothing more than public records, your entire life will be laid out in front of you. And Google knows, too.

An entertaining article about privacy is in the current Atlantic magazine for November 2015 titled “If you’re not Paranoid, You’re Crazy” by Walter Kern. Read it online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/11/if-youre-not-paranoid-youre-crazy/407833/

REFERENCE SECTION

An interesting study that shows the black plague has been around since 2900 BC. Modern history is familiar with the bubonic plague in Europe that eliminated as many as 200 million people between 1346 and 1353 AD. The plague has occurred often enough to suggest it is the reason for massive migrations in Eastern Europe and Russia. See:

http://www.nature.com/news/bronze-age-skeletons-were-earliest-plague-victims-1.18633

Snow leopards face imminent extinction as global warming changes environment farther up mountain slopes. Many mountain villages depending on snow melt face water shortage. See:

http://phys.org/news/2015-10-climate-leopards-edge.html

For improvement in liberal arts awareness through biographies:

Forty Ways to Look at Winston Churchill: A Brief Account of a Long Life by Gretchen Ruben. Publisher: Ballantine Books, 2003.

One of the best biographies of Churchill. Only a few dollars from several book sites online; mostly used. Barnes and Noble has a few copies in stock.

Churchill was one of the leaders in modern history that truly was multidimensional in life, politics and in personal conflict. This biography delves into the time of Churchill and his evolving impact on British history.

Exercise your mind:

A different form of poetry is Haiku, a Japanese poem of seventeen syllables in three lines of five, seven, and five, traditionally evoking images of the natural world. Some think writing Haiku is similar to solving a three-dimensional crossword puzzle but with nuance. Try writing your own. Sample:

New moon on the lake.

Your voice and the nightingale

serenade springtime.

 

Full moon on the lake.

Your voice and the waterbirds

celebrate summer.

Ancient Mariner

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