Where Does All the Output of Working People Go?

I rather liked the poster below from and thought I should supply some key statistics about the US economy to set it in wider context.

The US economy has a GNP of around $16.7 trillion or 16,700,000,000,000 aka $16.7 million, million. The US workforce that produces all that output of goods and services is around 140 million people in work. So the average output per worker per year is about $119,285 and if you assume a 40 hour week for 50 weeks a year, that’s 2000 hours a year on average at about $60 per hour. Seems like a lot of that output has gone AWOL and doesn’t actually end up with those who produce the wealth? Now why is that? And I am not counting taxes here, just simply output per worker pre-tax.

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Conservative and Republican Presidential Candidate Barry Goldwater Top Ten Conflict Tips

In our series investigating conservative thinkers, I thought conservative Republican Senator and Presidential candidate Barry Goldwater would be another candidate for one of our Top Ten Conflict Tips. This posting is dedicated to my friend Robin who first introduced me to Barry’s thinking in the 1964 election.

  1. Those who seek absolute power, even though they seek it to do what they regard as good, are simply demanding the right to enforce their own version of heaven on earth. And let me remind you, they are the very ones who always create the most hellish tyrannies. Absolute power does corrupt, and those who seek it must be suspect and must be opposed. Their mistaken course stems from false notions of equality, ladies and gentlemen. Equality, rightly understood, as our founding fathers understood it, leads to liberty and to the emancipation of creative differences. Wrongly understood, as it has been so tragically in our time, it leads first to conformity and then to despotism.
  2. On religious issues there can be little or no compromise. There is no position on which people are so immovable as their religious beliefs. There is no more powerful ally one can claim in a debate than Jesus Christ, or God, or Allah, or whatever one calls this supreme being. But like any powerful weapon, the use of God’s name on one’s behalf should be used sparingly.
  3. Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party, and they’re sure trying to do so, it’s going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can’t and won’t compromise. I know, I’ve tried to deal with them.
  4. I told (President) Johnson and old colleagues on Capitol Hill that we had two clear choices. Either win the [Vietnam] war in a relatively short time, say within a year, or pull out all our troops and come home
  5. Most Americans have no real understanding of the operations of the international moneylenders… the accounts of the Federal Reserve have never been audited. It operates outside the control of Congress and… manipulates the credit of the United States
  6. When you say “radical right” today, I think of these moneymaking ventures by fellows like Pat Robertson and others who are trying to take the Republican Party away from the Republican Party, and make a religious organization out of it. If that ever happens, kiss politics goodbye.
  7. The big thing is to make this country, along with every other country in the world with a few exceptions, quit discriminating against people just because they’re gay. You don’t have to agree with it, but they have a constitutional right to be gay. And that’s what brings me into it.
  8. The best thing Clinton could do — I think I wrote him a letter about this, but I’m not sure — is to shut up…. He has no discipline
  9. It’s a great country, where everyone can grow up to be President….except me.
  10. Nixon was the most dishonest individual I have ever met in my life. He lied to his wife, his family, his friends, his colleagues in the Congress, lifelong members of his own party, the American people and the world.
    Equality, rightly understood as our founding fathers understood it, leads to liberty and to the emancipation of creative differences; wrongly understood, as it has been so tragically in our time, it leads first to conformity and then to despotism
Posted in Philosophy of Conflict, Top Ten Conflict Tips from Great Thinkers, US Political Conflict, Ways to handle conflict | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Rape and Conservatives of a Certain Sort

There has been a steady stream of incredibly awful comments from the conservative wing of the Republican Party on the subject of rape in the last 2-3 years. I feel very strongly about this abominable behavior and thought I would re-post here a recent comment I made during an on-line debate on this subject.

I think one aspect of rape, (as in so called stand your ground laws which tell us about white racial fears), is what it tells you about how threatened many of what I call “weak-macho men” feel. They get their sense of identity, not from valuing themselves or life, but demeaning others; whether women, or people of other races, who traditionally have been forced into subordinate roles to them. And they react violently against attempts to level the playing field for said women or minorities, as if someone were threatening their very identity. Which I guess, given their identities are based on dominating others, it is. Rape as many feminists have asserted, is a political act in many cases: a way to terrorize and punish women, who don’t agree to be dominated by the “weak-machos”.

Of course it is other things as well, but in the political context of what I have come to call the Voldemort wing of the Republican Party, the people who seem to revel in saying deeply insensitive things about women. They are a small but vocal minority, but when they speak I think what they say is about domination, and male power as much as sex. And it ties into recent Republican attitudes to birth control, abortion and the War on Women in general. At least this how it looks to me from where I sit….and it looks abominable. And they do the Republican Party immense harm.

As on other issues where the extremists have taken over some of the debate, once again I think moderate Republicans need to take their party back from the culture who make the most noise on this subject. There is a reasonable summary of the historical issue on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rape_and_pregnancy_controversies_in_United_States_elections,_2012

But let me make absolutely clear: I am not saying rapists are disproportionately Republican. Clearly they cover the political spectrum. I am taking to task some of the GOP who take a deeply insensitive view of the subject of rape, not seeing it from the viewpoint of the victim. In this group that I hope the GOP continues to confront.

And for the record, studies suggest that between 15 and 20% of women in the US have been raped. 90,000 rapes are reported each year in the US and 250,000 world wide. Estimates of non reporting world wide vary from 75% to 95% which would suggest that world wide there may be up to 5 million rapes in reality.

In this context, I appreciate President Jimmy Carter’s recent statement:

Tough Angels</p><br />
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What to Do About Personal Verbal Attacks?

I am often asked by people how they should handle personal attacks by those they are forced to interact with? Those who they can’t simply walk away from and never see again, which is sometimes my preferred option. These people can be friends, family, work colleagues, bosses and even people in business for whom you are a customer or customers you need to tolerate.

Now to be fair, I must exude some slight sense of don’t mess with me menace, as I don’t get this myself much these days. But back in the day, I had plenty of experience…. So what to do?

My most common recommendation, is to always respond to an attack, not with a counter attack, like saying: “you are another”…But to respond with a question. This is disconcerting to someone expecting a lob back from you and an attack to which they can attack back like a tennis match. So ask an appropriate question. Some of my favorites are:

  • Was that a put down and why would you want to put me down?
  • What evidence do you have for that statement about me?
  • Why would you say that about me in that way?
  • In what way is doing what you suggest in my interests?
  • What would you do if you were in my situation of being attacked by you?
  • How would you feel if I said that to you?
  • Is your comment fair? Is it reasonable?
  • Why are you so unhappy?
  • What else have you considered?
  • Can you re-phrase that so I can better understand your point
  • Can we have an adjournment as this seems to be going off the rails (this is not the same as walking out) and get back together in half an hour, tomorrow, next week whatever
  • What would your comment look like to an outsider?

There are some other approaches that may also that are not questions as such:

  • Silence; not hostile, but simply open silence, as if you are expecting further explanation of the reason for the attack. Maybe even nod encouragingly…this can be deeply irritating to the attacker.
  • If you are sitting down and have pen and paper, write notes on what the person is saying to attack you, as if you want to capture every nuance of the attack. This is pretty disconcerting for most people…
  • And for really advanced work, I always found eye-balling is helpful: looking deep into the attackers soul via their eyes with a slight closing of your left eye to show focus. But this requires a lot of experience and is not recommended for beginners.

In the meantime, remember also humor can help and yes some of the above questions can be asked in an ironic way, but are best played straight. And this is probably why I don’t get this problem. :)

Footnote: this posting is dedicated to my friend Z in the hope it helps. :)


Job Interview: Human Resources Manager: “What is your greatest weakness?” Old Man : “Honesty.” Human Resources Manager: “I don’t think honesty is a weakness.” Old Man : “I don’t really give a shit what you think.”

Posted in Conflict Humor, Conflict Processes, PERSONAL CONFLICT RESOLUTION: CREATIVE STRATEGIES, Ways to handle conflict | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Why Study Philosophy? Clancy Martin and Rebecca Newberger Goldstein’s Answer

I loved this review by Clancy Martin of the book by Rebecca Newberger Goldstein “Plato at the Googleplex: Why Philosophy Won’t Go Away” at:


It contains two really good quotes that I would focus on, though reading the whole article would be good too

Søren Kierkegaard observed:

Whatever the one generation may learn from the other, that which is genuinely human no generation learns from the foregoing … Thus, no generation has learned from another to love, no generation begins at any other point than at the beginning, no generation has a shorter task assigned to it than had the previous generation.

And Clancy Martin concludes the article:

Another way to put it might be that every generation, the grand forward push of human knowledge requires each of us to begin by trying to think independently, to recognize that knowledge is more than information, to see that we are moral beings who must closely interrogate both ourselves and the world we inhabit—to live, as Socrates recommended, an examined life.

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Adam Smith (1723-1790) Top Ten Conflict Tips

As part of our continued exploration of conservative thinkers, I thought it would be good to produce one of our Top Ten Conflict Tips on the founder of modern conservative economics Adam Smith, though one should always note that conservatives tend to focus on his more famous book ‘The Wealth of Nations’ without having read much of it, and ignore his other equally important book ‘The Theory of Moral Sentiments’, which was intended to balance the ‘Wealth of Nations’; and indeed Smith is thought to have considered the Theory of Moral Sentiments his more important book. All his contemporaries said he was a very kind man….

  1. Civil government, so far as it is instituted for the security of property, is in reality instituted for the defense of the rich against the poor, or of those who have some property against those who have none at all.”  
  2. No society can surely be flourishing and happy of which by far the greater part of the numbers are poor and miserable.
  3. It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion
  4. Our merchants and masters complain much of the bad effects of high wages in raising the price and lessening the sale of goods. They say nothing concerning the bad effects of high profits. They are silent with regard to the pernicious effects of their own gains. They complain only of those of other people.
  5. People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices
  6. Wherever there is great property there is great inequality. For one very rich man there must be at least five hundred poor, and the affluence of the few supposes the indigence of the many. The affluence of the rich excites the indignation of the poor, who are often both driven by want, and prompted by envy, to invade his possessions.
  7. The learned ignore the evidence of their senses to preserve the coherence of the ideas of their imagination
  8. How selfish soever man may be supposed, there are evidently some principles in his nature, which interest him in the fortune of others, and render their happiness necessary to him, though he derives nothing from it, except the pleasure of seeing it
  9. Though our brother is upon the rack, as long as we ourselves are at ease, our senses will never inform us of what he suffers. They never did and never can carry us beyond our own persons, and it is by the imagination only that we form any conception of what are his sensations…His agonies, when they are thus brought home to ourselves, when we have this adopted and made them our own, begin at last to affect us, and we then tremble and shudder at the thought of what he feels
  10. It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest
  11. The subjects of every state ought to contribute towards the support of the government, as nearly as possible, in proportion to their respective abilities
  12. In a nation distracted by faction, there are, no doubt, always a few, though commonly but a very few, who preserve their judgment untainted by the general contagion. They seldom amount to more than, here and there, a solitary individual, without any influence, excluded, by his own candour, from the confidence of either party, and who, though he may be one of the wisest, is necessarily, upon that very account, one of the most insignificant men in the society.
  13. The annual labour of every nation is the fund which originally supplies it with all the necessaries and conveniencies of life which it annually consumes, and which consist always either in the immediate produce of that labour, or in what is purchased with that produce from other nations
  14. Though those different plans were, perhaps, first introduced by the private interests and prejudices of particular orders of men, without any regard to, or foresight of, their consequences upon the general welfare of the society…
  15. The first duty of the sovereign [is] that of protecting the society from the violence and invasion of other independent societies, [which] can be performed only by means of a military force

See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adam_Smith


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Lucius Annaeus Seneca (4BCE-65) Top Ten Conflict Tips

Nassim Taleb in his book Anti-Fragile that I will soon post on, is very keen on the Roman Philosopher and Stoic Seneca, and so I thought it time we did a one of our Top Ten Conflict Tips on Seneca

  1. True happiness is to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future, not to amuse ourselves with either hopes or fears, but to rest satisfied with what we have, which is sufficient, for he that is so wants nothing. The greatest blessings of mankind are within us and within our reach. A wise man is content with his lot, whatever it may be, without wishing for what he has not. 
  2. Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by rulers as useful.
  3. No man was ever wise by chance
  4. If a man knows not to which port he sails, no wind is favorable.
  5. Most powerful is he who has himself in his own power.
  6. Wealth is the slave of a wise man. The master of a fool.
  7. They lose the day in expectation of the night, and the night in fear of the dawn.
  8. Leisure without books is death, and burial of a man alive.
  9. Associate with people who are likely to improve you.
  10. We are mad, not only individually but nationally. We check manslaughter and isolated murders, but what of war and the much-vaunted crime of slaughtering whole peoples?

See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seneca_the_Younger

File:Duble herma of Socrates and Seneca Antikensammlung Berlin 07.jpg

True happiness is… to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/l/luciusanna121552.html#hPLFR03buWBoWFIB.99
True happiness is… to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/l/luciusanna121552.html#hPLFR03buWBoWFIB.99
Posted in Conflict History, Philosophy of Conflict, Religious Conflict, Top Ten Conflict Tips from Great Thinkers, Ways to handle conflict | Tagged , | Leave a comment