Maybe I Was Wrong

About the necessity of revolution. Things seem – seem – to be changing. Or more accurately approaching a change. A very long-overdue change. Still a revolution, but one not necessarily violent. I would say I’m impatient, if it wasn’t for the fact that impatience in this particular context is a waste of time.

It will happen suddenly. And I write that having absolutely, or at least very little idea what form the suddenness of change will take. It is necessary. It has long been necessary. There are signs: LGBTQI acceptance, global warming being an accepted fact by all but the most stupid or corrupt, wealth inequality set against gargantuan abundance – to name a few.

Humans have always been predominantly rational, despite superstitions ranging from the obscure (ghosts) to mainstream (monotheistic religion). But, hundreds of years since The Enlightenment, it seems like we are finally seeing the importance of bringing to a close the transition from ignorance to understanding. From injustice to justice. From brutality to compassion. And etcetera.

There are not many particular, concrete reasons why I think we’re near the end of the darkness that has plagued civilised us for more than 10 millenia. One is notable. The absurdity. The batshit craziness of the stubbornly ongoing status quo. I don’t think anyone not willfully ignorant needs examples of said absurdity.

But there it is. Surely absurdity more than anything else not conceptual is the enemy of true civilisation. The wait is nearly over. I can’t wait, so to speak, but I have to. I might be wrong, but if so I’m content to die, childless. If I’m right: I’m looking forward to bearing witness to the human race assuming, achieving its destiny so long delayed by greed, ignorance, selfishness, arrogance – those other enemies of civilisation that have finally produced the clear absurdity that should finally become slavery’s death-knell.

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The Root, Trunk, Branch and Leaf of All Evil

(Reading time: 35 seconds.)

The bitter irony is that when they tell you knowledge is power it’s because they’re lying to you, and it’s not. (Although obviously it should be.) Material wealth is.

Conveniently, objectively, hoarding of finite material wealth is evil. And under the ridiculous socio-political-economic system we (still, bizarrely) inhabit, encouraged.

So, literally, in our current reality, power is evil. And evil is power. Which is why it seems like everyone with any power these days is a cruel psychopath.

Because you’re not crazy. They are. But they have the wealth, so they have the power. Their appetite for both is insatiable, so do yourself a favour and stop them the only way they will be stopped:

yourself.

Seriously. They can’t stop you. They’ve merely convinced you that they can. And besides, if you haven’t noticed that if they aren’t stopped urgently, we’re all fucked, then they’ve done a better job of brainwashing you than I think even they intended.

Two Things I’m Obsessed With

The first is commonly known as the (technological) Singularity. Put simply, it refers to the moment in which a machine emerges that is not just smarter than humans, but smarter than the collective intelligence of all humans. The average prediction of various experts places this occurrence at about 2045. Which means it could happen much sooner, or much later – depending on the rate of technological progression. I won’t bother with references. You can look this up if you choose.

For me, the consequences are simple. And about three-fold. One: humanity will be capable of achieving a type of immortality, through people being able to upload their minds to what we now call the cloud. This will possibly also permit downloading minds into bodies of any imaginable type, not unlike in the Netflix series Altered Carbon. Whether one would actually want to be immortal or not, is worthy of an entire book. Two: machines will replace humanity as the dominant species of Earth, and possibly the universe. This might happen through the direct destruction or dying out of humans, or because humans fuse with technology to the point in which the cease to be explicitly human (cyborgs). Such an occurrence could be seen as evolutionary – as in the next logical step in human evolution is superior beings originally of our creation taking over.

And three (which leads me to the other thing I’m obsessed with): the current ownership class (the bourgeois) of humans (think Elon Musk, Rupert Murdoch et. al.) use their ownership of the increasingly automated means of production to render the vast bulk of working class humans obsolete, perhaps homeless, or even liquidated by the very machines which made them obsolete. Frankly, as things currently stand, I think the third scenario is the most likely. Wealth inequality is at catastrophic levels, and the super-rich are showing no signs of either intending to, or actually balancing things out. While I admit this possible future might solve the problem of overpopulation, I also venture that technology advanced enough would solve the problem of overpopulation (and associated resource shortages and pollution and climate change) itself.

The second thing I’m obsessed with is called Universal Basic Income. UBI involves giving everyone, from poorest to wealthiest in society enough money to live on. Say four or five or six hundred dollars per week. Without any obligations in return. The idea is that they can then work or create/expand a business for more money. Or they can travel the world eating banana sandwiches. Or they can become the artist they always wanted to be. And etcetera and etcetera. When I mentioned UBI to a narrow-minded but intelligent friend recently, he gave a cliched response, something to do with that it wouldn’t work because people need an incentive to work and excel and achieve. Unfortunately, what he didn’t grasp because he clearly hadn’t read into the issue is that, yes, UBI is not an incentive. It’s a tool. Much of the world is too impoverished to be really of any use to their fellow humans. You have to spend money to make money, as the old adage goes. But if you don’t have any to start with, then you can’t make any from it.

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Current welfare systems across much of the developed world already seek to achieve this purpose. The problem is they provide a subsistence, not dignified, level of income. And they require recipients to look for work – ignoring the absurdity of such a requirement in a rapidly automating labour industry which is increasingly prohibitive of the sort of low skill, low wage people on unemployment benefits. UBI gives people enough financial power to not just survive, but live a comfortable life, and also possibly live an even more comfortable life if they wish to work/innovate/invent for it. UBI gives people choice. Freedom. Freedom they’re otherwise denied, whether they’re working or not. It gives them the ability to achieve their dreams – even if their dreams involve sitting around at home, ordering in pizza and buying products from the internet.

Another criticism of UBI is the cost to taxpayers. Firstly, it’s a “basic” income. They’re not going to be squirreling away much of the money. The vast bulk of it will be returned straight to the economy, and into and through again the hands of taxpayers. Secondly, even if they are saving a lot of the money, eventually they will make a big purchase with it. Maybe use it to create a product beneficial to mankind that wouldn’t otherwise had appeared. Third: the cost of current welfare systems are bogged down in their complexity. Their bureaucracy. The myriad different payments to and requirements from welfare recipients make up a sizable bulk of their cost. The argument goes that UBI would eliminate this complexity by giving everyone a flat basic income. Any losses of employment in the public or associated private sector would be mitigated by the fact that said unemployed would be receiving the UBI, and would now be free to pursue activities or work surely more enjoyable than sitting in an office unnecessarily managing the lives of society’s worst off.

Barring an unforeseen catastrophic event, or perhaps a foreseen one in the event of climate change, technological progress will only continue to accelerate. Humans will become, in a productivity sense, more and more redundant. Artificial immortality is an at the moment science-fictional ethical dilemma for individuals and their families. If humanity is replaced or absorbed by machines, then by then we won’t have much to whine about. But if the vast bulk of humanity is not just enslaved, but made redundant, homeless, starving by a tiny clique of super-wealthy elites who own all of the machines that produce everything, that would be the worst option for me and any children I might have (that currently I don’t want to have because I believe that’s exactly what might happen in their lifetime). Wealth will always be limited, depending on how much of the universe’s resources we eventually have access to, but it has never been more abundant. Why is it not psychotic that this world has several billionaires, while millions starve to death? We need to start asking ourselves, and our elected representatives, one simple question: is it necessary, or even humane, for people to be forced to work for water, food, housing, clothing, and small luxuries such as technology and travel, or otherwise languish in poverty?

I say no. Certainly not. And I hope for ever more agreement.

(Another) Unemployment Reflection

Well, more of an update really. Should say I’m full of shit, considering previously writing so smugly about supposedly figuring out how to gain and keep work. I’ve been let go from one job. And I’ve resigned from three or four. But when the site you’re working all but full-time at doesn’t pay the labour hire company you’re employed by, well, it makes it hard to figure up from down in an employment market sense.

So I’m essentially unemployed, again. I’m vending The Big Issue magazine. TBI is a social enterprise (people are paid, but no profits are given to an owner/shareholders). It’s designed for homeless/marginalised (I’m the latter) people (men) to sell in high foot traffic areas. Women in difficulty work indoors packing and distributing the mags. It’s ok. It keeps me busy.

But, as much as I appreciate the opportunity, the area (my “pitch”) I vend at just isn’t busy enough. (It’s between two others that are much more lucrative.) I buy them for $3.50 and sell them for $7. Some people will give me ten and say to keep the change. Even then, if I make any more than $40 in six hours most days then that’s better than average.

I’m trying to get off Newstart (the dole, $250 per week). But so far I haven’t made more than that in a week so I’m essentially wasting my time mostly staring off into space while people ignore me, on top of my obligations to Centrelink. I’m grateful for the support of the businesses and locals at my pitch, and again to TBI, but it feels like bad luck within good luck (great opportunity/terrible location).

Otherwise, I’m still registered with a labour hire company but they don’t offer anything below south Brisbane (apparently Centrelink requires job seekers to travel a three hour round trip to work, which is ridiculous bureaucratic bullshit). They did get me two weeks’ work before a trip I took recently that I’d never have booked last year if I’d known what dire straits I’d be in currently. Sure enough, I was offered more work at that site that conflicted with the trip so I doubt I’ll hear from them again.

For a few months I volunteered with a wonderful group named Orange Sky, that washes clothes for the homeless. My team leader gave my details to a bloke he knew who runs a rim (car wheel) repair business. Again, sure enough this guy got in touch with me just before the trip. I mentioned the conflict with him and got in touch with him after I got back, but, haven’t heard back. I’ve since stopped volunteering to focus on my mental health and search for employment. And I’m going to just vend TBI Sat/Sun, instead of also Wed/Thurs/Fri, now. Because it really is a waste of time during the week, in my location.

I visited another, busier pitch during the week just yesterday (Wednesday) and it was busy! Sometimes I think I’m cursed. Or I would if I was superstitious. So yeah, I’m full of shit. I have no idea what I’m doing. I apply for jobs, and hear mostly nothing back, or rejections. My application to McDonald’s failed. The local casino’s warehouse rejected me. I did a certificate 3 in security. But the license, I since discovered, costs about $500. And my “job service provider”, to her credit, said security probably wouldn’t be great for my mental health – when I mentioned my recent increasing struggles with it.

I have no idea what’s on the horizon. Or if there even is one. Hopefully I’ll have some good news to report, soon. But optimism is lacking, and hardly growing.

UNEMPLOYED AGAIN

Why?

Get this: because the business I was working at didn’t pay the “labour hire” (what am I, a stand up paddle board?) company I still technically work for.

My brother put it best, that I was the only one who lost out in that situation. True. The business can just hire other staff directly or through another labour hire company. And the LHC surely has other clients whose payments can cover its bottom line, and/or it could sue the above mentioned business for the unpaid bill.

Which leaves me, poor little worker, forced to go on the ever more futile job hunt when an interview, much less a secure, full-time job, isn’t guaranteed no matter how many applications I make.

I’m sick of this bullshit. I’m going to start volunteering with Orange Sky again (mainly because I know it looks good to potential employers and Centrelink (but also because it’s a productive, positive use of my time)).

Apart from that, the only things I can remember actually enjoying are drinking and smoking, and spending time with my ex. She would apparently prefer to pretend I never existed, and I’m not smoking because my ironically control-addicted mother will only allow me a $50 per week reduction in rent if I stop, and I’m not drinking because I don’t enjoy it much without cigarettes.

So effectively, I have nothing. Nothing that gives me pleasure, that is.

I just lie awake late into the night, missing pretty reasonable, conservative, limited things I’d like to do that are denied me simply because I don’t have a job.

And I think to myself: “I really am sick of it. I really am sick of being, to rich people and big corporations, nothing but something to make them and their beneficiaries more wealthy.”

Isn’t it time for a better system? I’m going to die one day. Why do I have to spend most of my adult life in the meantime wishing the day would come sooner rather than later?

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This is a largely unrelated photo of me after I head-butted a sand-bank while surfing. More relevantly, it’s somewhat symbolic of how I feel every day under the capitalist system – whether I’m working or not.

#latecapitalism ups the ante

Just answered my landline phone. I know, I shouldn’t. But I was curious. Straight away it’s weird. I say hello, and there’s background scrambling as if his phone was lying on his desk because he didn’t actually believe anyone was going to be stupid enough to answer.

So anyway, I say hello, and then there was a delay, so I followed up with “how are you?” And then I get a response: “Hello sir how are you?” Good, I reply then again ask him how he is because he didn’t answer me the first time. He says good and thanks for your concern.

I’ll sum up the rest of the conversation. He says someone’s trying to take over my Internet connection. I say that’s not good and is there anything I can do about it. He says go to your router and tell me is there a light flashing or not. I look at it, groan a little at the slight exertion of bending down to get close to see the router. Then I hang up.

It sounds absurd. And I might be wrong. But I’m pretty sure this guy was calling me to tell me someone was trying to gain control of my Internet connection literally so he (or whomever he represents) could try to gain control over it. Why, I’m not really interested in. Where to from here is the question uppermost on my mind, in the wake of the conversation.

If the sharp edge of capitalism has gotten to the point in which it almost blatantly has to be a problem in order to solve the exact problem it is, where else is there to go?

I don’t know. But I suspect it will be very interesting.

An Unsolicited Response to Christian Porter’s National Press Club Address

On his Facebook page, which was swiftly deleted, and from which I was blocked – predictably:

First time I’ve ever seen a man fellate himself, his colleagues and his (socio-) economically fascist obsession for an hour.

But I will grudgingly take you seriously with the following retorts (reality checks):

It’s not taxation without representation for a future generation to foot any or all of the tax bill that a previous generation may have been at all responsible for accruing. You’re an elected representative now, and you represent the people who voted you in or not, now. By your logic we could argue that your esteemed colleague Matt Canavan’s obsession with fossil fuels, and particularly those proposed to be mined by a certain foreign company he’s alarmingly cosy with, is also taxation without representation of future generations who are going to have to try and live in the environment he did his best to destroy. Which is of course absurd.

The reason we work and always have since civilisation started about 10 millenia ago is to provide those in arbitrary, inherited positions above us with wealth that puts them ever further above us – whom they despise. You know this. Theoretically, it’s your job to help close the gaps effectively created by this persistent yet doomed system. But no, because you insist and persist in peddling the lie that work is, in the grand scheme of things, about anything other than the reason I’ve listed above.

Imagine my horror but not surprise at hearing the supposed social services minister spruiking corporate tax cuts as a solution to welfare dependency, as if said corporations wouldn’t just sink exactly the sum of said cuts into existing tax loopholes, upper management salaries, shareholder dividends, bribery of politicians, and maybe, grudgingly, probably not, actual tax contributions. But hey, I’m numb (to) if not incognisant of such Orwellianism these days, so moving on. . . .

Your constant indulgences in criticism of your opposition on a platform in which they have no right of reply is as tiresome to me as it is cowardly on your part.

Response to first question: “So perhaps if I answer that this way.”  Is the truth not good enough for you – in response to a question which wondered at which point in reducing the welfare budget you start “hacking at bone” and would you consider raising Newstart and other payments?  No, course not.  Must glaze eyes over for a few seconds and come up with something more palatable, albeit false and misleading.

Again, you’re not the minister for big biz.  You’re the minister for social services.  If you’re going to talk about tax cuts, which really is not your responsibility at all, you should be talking about tax cuts for working single mothers, families, students and even, barely, small business owners.

“Labor voted against it,” he says with orgasmic relish.  See, this feeds into my view that what we don’t actually have is a two, much less multi-party system in this country.  We have one party – the Coalition-Labor Party – that swaps power every few years.

Trust you to refer to the NDIS as a market – in other words a vehicle with which already rich people can invest in stuff that gains them more riches.  Unless I wasn’t paying attention, not one mention of the supposed point of the scheme: to care for and provide opportunity for the disabled.

I’ve heard enough.  I’ve had enough.  You’re a psychopath.  I wish you every possible version of bad luck in your endeavour to destroy the middle class and create nothing but a small group of insanely rich people you serve like Mr Smithers from The Simpsons, and a teeming horde of successfully subjugated dirt poor billions.