30 minute read.
I was 6 years old and in the first grade. My teacher left the room for a few minutes to get something. I can’t remember why or what she was getting. It was 1974. We were a bunch of 6 year old kids in a classroom. You just don’t leave a classroom full of 6 year old kids by themselves for any length of time. I don’t care what the reason is.
I’m not sure how this happened but all of sudden, some kids started coming up behind me and kicking me in the butt. They weren’t hard kicks, but still, I couldn’t understand why they were doing it. I got really mad. I started crying and yelled at them to stop it.
Apparently, someone thought it would be a funny idea to tape a sign to my back that said “Kick Me!” Obviously I had no idea it was there. I was so upset that I peed my pants. Then the teacher came back in the room. She was mortified at the behavior of the kids that instigated the prank, and ordered them to apologize to me at once.
This was probably my first taste of being scammed and not realizing it until someone took the sign off my back. I felt horrible. Wouldn’t you feel horrible?
How many scams do you think are going on in the world right now that are similar to a “Kick Me” sign or worse? Sometimes they make you feel horrible, because nobody wants to be taken for a fool.
Scams are sometimes completely obvious, right in front of our eyes, in plain sight for the whole world to see, but we don’t know why they exist, and or how to do anything about them.
The government, media, marketing, advertising, banks, businesses, institutions, organizations, they either instigate or contribute to scams, and they are large scale.
Here is my list of top 10 scams that we see everyday and don’t notice or care about, according to many sources that I’ve read in books and online articles, as well as my own experiences.
All you have to do is look at Enron, Worldcom, or Bernie Madoff to know that the stock market is a rigged system. What do you expect when investors are supposed to play by the rules, but there is so much temptation to steal, cheat, and lie? You are supposed to be “fiscally responsible” and not engage in insider trading. That’s like dangling a chocolate bar in front of a 4 year old, and telling him he can’t have it because his daddy is a candy maker.
The stock market is largely a source of entertainment for most Americans instead of being a true source of wealth. In the United States, roughly 42 percent of all financial wealth is aggregated with one percent of the population. And one third of Americans have no savings at all. So the stock market does not even enter into the equation for them.
Good luck believing that the American economy is doing fantastic. That’s what every politician will tell you when they are in office. But when they are running for office, they will tell you how much it sucks, and then tell you how they can fix it if you vote for them.
In reality, millions of people are struggling (and will continue to struggle) through no fault of their own because corporations cut jobs and slash costs while cashing in at your expense.
9) Marketing and Advertising
Did you know you can buy “Likes” on Facebook? Oh ya. Take a look at this:
That’s just one example of advertising that is insanely stupid and does nothing to make us better.
Have you noticed that you can’t watch a television commercial these days without seeing a company use some dumb lame ass attempt at being clever or funny just so their brand will stick in your brain? Corporations spend billions of dollars in mass advertising. For those of us that can see right through the charade, it is quite pathetic and useless.
But for young gullible people, it’s a fucking minefield. Advertising agencies clearly don’t understand the value of creating honest real content. They just want to hook you with comedy, repetition, big boobs, a promise of youthful beauty, and a catchy jingle.
In order to see the truth, try this experiment. For 5-10 minutes, step outside of your head while you watch commercials, and just observe what is going on. Don’t think, just observe from the outside. Then think about the psychology behind it, and analyze your findings. You might be amazed at the process of what is actually going on, and why you see things in this current state.
While watching commercials, ask yourself one question “Is this product or service helpful, useful, or practical for me in my life?” I never have to ask myself this question because I stopped watching commercial television a long time ago. But in the rare event that I happen to be watching again for some reason, my response is usually at least 95% a big fat “No”.
Brand A vs. competitor brand B is what marketing and advertising is all about. If they can convince you that Brand A is better than competitor brand B, and end up making a sale, bonus for them. As for you, it’s sale number 1,582,261. Yay for product sale measurement.
8) The Housing Market
Is buying a house the smartest thing to do? Maybe it was at one time in history. Back in the early 1900s, it was probably a good idea if you had the money to spend. The terms were quite different back then, and it was not without problems.
Then Roosevelt’s New Deal made America more consumer friendly in the housing market, which gave way to more affordable 30 year mortgages. It was designed to stimulate consumer spending and promote economic growth, while banking and financial institutions faced more scrutiny and regulation.
But as banking corruption and fraud seeped into the fabric of society, what seemed like a good idea starting out eventually turned into a nightmare later on.
Today, if you are not renting, America is generally made up of either extremely discouraged or overly cautious borrowers. CoreLogic estimates that 6.2 million families have lost their homes to foreclosure since September 2008. Practically everyone in the middle class of this country have either experienced the horrors of mortgage defaults, loan modification attempts, and eviction notices or knows somebody who did.
Photo Credit: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/02/business/02view.html
If you are not aware of this yet, banks do not want to own properties, they want mortgage payments coming in regularly so they can collect interest on those payments and make profit from a piece of dirt and wood that doesn’t even belong to them. And if you can’t foot the bill, they will toss you out on your ears and find the next warm body who can.
Fannie Mae is the nickname for the Federal National Mortgage Association (FNMA). The FNMA was created in 1938 in order to increase the amount of money available to borrowers using mortgage securitization. To do that, Fannie Mae purchased FHA-insured loans and then sold those loans as securities on financial markets.
Where did they get the power to do that? You tell me. Your guess is as good as mine. It is probably the same authority that is given to “federal” banks to lend out money, which are no more federal than FedEx or the Federal Equipment Company. It is the same power given to central banks to create money out of thin air with something known as the fractional reserve system. And it’s not backed by gold, or paper, or anything real anymore. It’s backed only by a collective trust that people will honor it.
The multi-trillion dollar (yes that’s right, trillion with a T) banking industry lends out purchasing power to people with digital numbers. That’s what it amounts to. But they only give you enough purchasing power to pay the amount back in monthly installments with interest, preferably for about 30 years. They will do everything in their power to convince you that you should “own” that piece of dirt and wood that you live on. So, keep showing up at those jobs, because the next payment is due!
7) Standardized Education
I wrote an article called Why We Need To Completely Redesign Education And Learning. In this article, I go into detail about how standardized education is destroying the spirit and creativity of our young people, and putting a whole lot of unnecessary stress on everyone to “perform” at a certain level. This is measured through letter grades and test scores.
It seems to me that we as a population are obsessed with measuring the educational standards of our kids, and then competing with educational standards of students from other countries. And at the bottom of it all, the whole system is based on money and debt. What a load of f’in crap!
Would it surprise you to know that businesses and corporations need parents to fill jobs? So what are we supposed to do with kids? Create a pressure cooker system that runs them through the mill with questionable information, and then spit them back out into the job market, just like their parents? It seems that way, doesn’t it?
Wouldn’t it be much easier and more effective to create a system where parents and kids learned and worked on advancement in technology and then have all the benefits funnel directly back into the system? The education system could be a subsystem of the larger workforce system where learning is a continuous process. Then you wouldn’t have to separate kids from their parents and families everyday throughout their whole childhood.
James Phillips shares a clear vision and concrete plan. Sounds pretty interesting.
Children could be mentored by their parents to learn the basics as well as advanced technology concepts as they grow. Families could work together in awesome learning environments and learn new things together at the same time. This creates a strong bond within the family unit.
When families learn to work together well and focus on continuous progress, they would have much less stress. They wouldn’t have time to fight, argue, and be stressed out all the time with unfair expectations and artificial obligations from a broken society.
This business of filling our kids’ heads with rote information in boring classrooms, and then testing them over and over again is beyond ridiculous and outrageous, and doesn’t measure any true sense of intelligence.
Self help gurus have made a fortune selling ideas that positive energy can make you “happy”. Is there really such a thing as “happiness”? Some researchers and scientists say it does not exist, at least not in the sense that we are familiar with.
There is a great book out there by a psychologist and author named Russ Harris called The Happiness Trap. The book focuses heavily on a premise called Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. The books says that most of us go about trying to find happiness, which actually ends up making us miserable, and drives the epidemics of stress, anxiety, and depression.
Russ offers insights and techniques of ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy), a revolutionary new psychotherapy based on cutting-edge research in behavioral psychology. By clarifying your values and developing mindfulness (a technique for living fully in the present moment), ACT helps you escape the happiness trap and find true satisfaction in life.
Notice how it doesn’t say anything about trying to be positive or happy to get through life. You don’t have to block out or get rid of negative thoughts either. You just have to truly experience life with all it’s ups and downs in order to live a fulfilling and rich life.
In fact, 80% of our thoughts are naturally negative anyway. You only experience about 20% of positive or happy thoughts as a direct result of your human brain evolution. There is no sense in fighting that. Embrace it.
Here is a great article in The Washington Post that solidifies that idea:
All you have to do is look at Trump’s hair. Need I say more?
If you are not seeing Hillary or Trump-a-dump on the news, or in ad campaigns spouting off about how they are going to fix all the problems in the world, then it’s all about mud-slinging and slam ads (“I am not a politician, and I approve this message”).
This isn’t too far from the real thing:
The job of the political system is to get you all worked up about social issues. They pull all these scary statistics and disturbing headlines right out of their butt holes, and expect us to just line up at the voting booths and check a box. Sorry folks. It’s a little more complicated than that.
You can’t solve technical problems with politics. How do you solve a problem with a failed or outdated sewer system? Do you call a politician? And if they tried to solve it, what would they do? Throw a bunch of money at it and hope it goes away?
So again, do you call a politician? No. You get an engineer to design a system that accounts for a certain population and physical area, then build it according to specific guidelines and requirements so that it works properly and doesn’t break down over time.
Obama is fine. He’s a nice guy and sounds smart. He has a bunch of speech writers to help him sound smart in front of the American public. His hair is pretty gray now, which suspiciously happens to all presidents after a few years in office. I wonder why. But Obama can’t fix or design a sewer system.
To give you an idea how much time these guys have on their hands to piss around and do nothing of value, here is a hilarious video I found a while back about Newt Gingrich explaining to us all what a “smartphone” is in 2013, even though the term “smartphone” was coined several years before this (around 2007).
And if you are interested in hearing David Pakman do a commentary on the video, here ya go: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M6qKGHtDk5g
But aside from that, politics is really about lobbying, political advertising, and slam tactics on the competition. It pretty much all stinks to high heaven. How can we be proud of a system with so much raw sewage flowing around?
4) Corporate News
This one goes hand in hand with marketing and advertising.
Did you know that 6 corporations control 90% all of media in America? Do you think these corporations care about reporting what is true or what is popular and provocative?
To give you an idea what media giants are like, here is a video where David Cross describes a typical meeting at FOX with Rupert Murdoch. This about sums up what corporate media is all about.
News producers have one job, and that is to sell advertising to commercial corporations… oh and also to slide in a few “news stories” to make it look like there is something on the stations that remotely resemble a shred of reality.
Try this experiment. Listen to or watch CNN or FOX, or some other corporate news station for 10-15 minutes, and then tell me one thing that was either not an obvious lie or was in some way relevant to your life. Then tell me how many things were opinions, commentaries, outright lies, or irrelevant to your life (in other words, complete and utter bullshit). I welcome and appreciate your comments below.
3) The Salesman
People who try to sell you houses, cars, pharmaceuticals, a college education, medical services, advertising, food, clothes, etc. etc. etc.
Salesman stand in the way of you getting what you need directly from a manufacturer. They set the prices and rig the game.
For example, lawyers sell their services to you because they learn how to get around an extremely convoluted, overly complicated, and grossly unfair legal system, when you should just be able to print off a legal document in a few seconds if you need it.
Cars continue to be manufactured at an incredible rate, even though they contribute to much of the world’s casualties, pollution, waste, and noise. How many cars are produced in the world every year? In 2012 over 60 million cars passenger cars were produced in a single year (or 165,000 new cars produced every day).
Yet, you have guys like these still around:
In the case of pharmaceutical companies charging exorbitant prices, I found these articles to be particularly enlightening:
The food service and restaurant industry has their own issues. Check out this article:
They all want their piece of the pie, and if they can get away with overcharging, they will do it.
2) Art and Fashion
Fashion is a very broad term. It refers to trends among different cultures of people, which may include clothing, accessories, and adornments worn by people to project a particular image, or to make a nonverbal statement.
Fashion trends can last for a long time, or they can become a fleeting fad only to be forgotten tomorrow. But is fashion really a scam, or is it just people reacting to a set of sensational behaviors. Whether you subscribe to the concept of fashion or not, it can reveal much about our how we think and behave as a human society.
Personally, I like the rainbow colors of the 70’s with a large fro and orange bell bottom pants. Peace my brother. Far out man.
To understand the corruption of fashion, these articles might be of interest:
People use art as way to brand themselves. Like any freelance business, you are basically your own boss with your own prices and your own ideas on how to sell your work. If you think your painting of a goat in a field with candy corn falling from the sky is a masterpiece and worth $50,000, by all means, knock yourself out. But most of us can’t afford the time it takes to paint, or even the cost of high end art supplies.
Does art really have value? Maybe. It’s an expression of creativity, and one might say that the creator deems it priceless. But if you choose to sell it commercially, who says it’s art? Who says it’s worth $100 or $10,000, or even 10,000,000? Well, it helps if you have celebrity status for sure.
I’m sure Jim Carrey, James Franco, Lucy Liu, Johnny Depp, David Bowie, Steven Tyler, Sylvester Stallone, and Stevie Nicks all do pretty well selling their paintings for a hefty fee.
Here are a few articles that might mar the aesthetics of contemporary art and expose it for what it really is:
And before I get to the number 1 scam of all time, I just have to say one thing about how pissed off I am about the scam of popular music. Have you noticed lyrics popping up in current hip hop and rap that are stolen from old 70’s and 80s songs by Lionel Ritchie, Micheal Jackson, and Madonna? Where the fuck do they get off doing that? I recognize those melodies and lyrics in the songs, and I want to scream out “That is not original! You stole it, you fucking thief!” Now THAT is a scam!
I could write volumes about this one.
In it’s simplest form, money is the means of carrying out transactions involving a medium of exchange. It is any clearly identifiable object of value that is generally accepted as payment for goods and services and repayment of debts within a market or which is legal tender within a country.
For us today, it is paper bills, coins, paper checks, or plastic cards which affect digital numbers on a virtual account that we see on a computer screen.
The capitalist consumer cycle goes like this:
1) You go to school for 12 years, then spend tons of money to go to college and learn a profession, or go to tech school to learn a trade.
2) You enter the job market at the bottom to earn a wage or salary decided by someone else, and you either stay in that spot or work your way up. You do that for roughly 40 years, and then you can retire, and consider yourself lucky to get any social security money.
3) All the while, you shop, eat, and consume, shop, eat, and consume, shop, eat, and consume, which helps to keep the “economy” (which is not really an economy) churning away.
The true meaning of the word economy is: “Careful management of available resources. Offering the best value for the money.” Synonyms are: thrift, thriftiness, providence, prudence, careful budgeting, economizing, saving, scrimping, restraint, frugality, and abstemiousness.
Does that sound like the U.S. economy to you?
With things like gambling, the lottery, insanely expensive education to “make a better life”, low-paying jobs; and savings accounts, money markets, bonds, and mutual funds that don’t pay off, the U.S. is a consumption-based economy, and a consumption-driven society. Waste, fraud, and scams are all around us. People sometimes take high risks to do shady or illegal things because the reward is high if they get away with it. Otherwise, it’s too slow and painful to get anywhere.
This is the way America has operated for the last century. If you play by the rules, the issues at hand are whether 1) America can sustain high rates of consumption in an ever-changing geo-political/economic environment, and 2) what are the consequences of a reduced consumption-based economy? (which will eventually happen when we run out of resources)
It seems like everything is a scam.
So what’s not a scam?
You. You are not a scam.
But saying something like that just seems like such a corny piece of horse shit, right? “That’s what every bullshit windbag motivational speaker spouts out as they parade around onstage” you say.
Nobody wants to go back to their corporate dead end jobs or minimum wage slave houses, and have their bosses order them around every day.
But we get complacent.
And then after all those years of filling a cubicle seat, or operating a machine, or wiping the tables and chairs, you discover that your diet sucks, and you don’t get any exercise. You’re 50 pounds overweight with a pot belly, soft bones, and bad skin. Your marriage sucks, you don’t talk much anymore about anything of value, and your kids mouth off to you unless they want money.
Anger and resentment builds up and you just can’t take it anymore.
And you think to yourself “Life is a fucking scam! What a bunch of bullshit. I can’t trust anyone.”
Yes, scams are everywhere.
But YOU don’t have to be a scam.
You can remove the “Kick Me!” sign from your back and not be the target of a scam, or participate in a scam.
You don’t have to be a scam.
You don’t have to kiss ass to get ahead or climb the corporate ladder.
But it all goes back to focusing on your inner truth.
And from that core of inner truth comes integrity and realness.
You have the unique human ability to generate ideas, plans, and projects that can make yourself and those around you so incredibly enriched and fulfilled.
You are a wonderful human being with so much potential and purpose.
So I ask you again.
What’s not a scam?
You are not a scam.
Cover Photo Credit: Clearpoint Credit Counseling
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