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August 17, 2006




I happen to know e.a. IS Castro. &nbspCan't you hear him wheeze?


To all the suits and pantsuits:  Peace.  Get ready for perpetual war.

You despise me and I'll despise you.  Let's help keep each other alive.


The lower and middle classes are always being blamed for class warfare, but the truth is that the rich are the ones creating and maintaining the boundaries and divisions that make it possible.

We know that it is true that we can all live in abundance, but that dream can never be realized if a few continue to hold out for purely personal gain.


Let us be peacemakers. You too can be rich. America is the land of opportunity. Peter started as a pedler. So what is holding you back? Rather than complaining, get rich quick.


That's just it, I don't want to be rich, I want to have economic security, but I think that this is better based in community and relationships than in capital development.

I want to make communities rich. Not just the ones I'm included in, but all of them. The issue is not class distinctions, but framing things so that the distinctions aren't so important.

I read someplace recently, maybe et alia's blog, that capital is a social good. The frame capitalists use is that if they can't own and control vast pools of wealth, then the government is going to eliminate private property right down to your home and your shoes. It's just another distorted marketing initiative.

When you flip this paradigm and nobody has a heriditary claim on big chunks of capital, then capital becomes a public resource to be allocated to those who demonstrate their fitness to lead organizations and manage capital.

When you frame the issue in terms of keeping the rif-raf out of the room, the question of who is in vs. out is in play. If the qualification is holding wealth, then we don't have a level playing field. If the wealth holders get to decide who is and is not qualified we still have a problem. The questions about the legitimacy of our current property/monetary systems needs to be asked. If they are ruled out from the start ...


If they are ruled out from the start, we have a safe place. Any more questions?


Oh, I thought the requirement was to have good manners and still have free debate. And here I thought liberal minds were open to all ideas, at least for consideration. Imagine no possesions. I wonder if you can

Oh well, I'd be out on manner anyway. Ce la vi.


As a host you have to ask, "If I invite B will A leave?" Certain topics, styles or personalities will not mix well, in a given context. This is a sociological "datum," right? I am making all this as visible as posssible not to be divisive, but in the hopes of spanning the boundaries, mixing genres, and mixing groups. The effort is not going too well right now, I would say. A lot of people seem pretty cranky in their comments. Probably my fault as moderator, but the goal is a more open and inclusive cross class conversation, either within a site, face to face, or among a network of sites. Getting the "successful people" online is hard. Peter 's book has interviews with many, but the words on the page will always lack the risk and energy of live give and take.

Et's video is about as disturbing as it gets. Imagine screening it with Et in the audience with a cross section of funders. Would the funders come back to another session? Ask that in reality. "Helplessly bound" is et's analysis. I don't disagree. As a semi-insider, I am making the "set-up" as visible as I can from the inside and from the outside. Persona non grata is what that may make me to the insiders and it does not endear me to the outsiders. Still, that is how I am wired and whether the scenes are well populated or nearly vacant, the effort of understanding the folkways of philanthropy in an increasly fragmented and mean spirited society are of interest to me, if only because I am helplessly bound here and there, inside and outside.

AA Commonplace

Maybe you should have just kept on philanthropizing all this while, and just not gotten in to all the questions ?


Maybe,but then I would give up all claim to being Morals Tutor to The World's Wealthiest Families. Aggravating people into thought is how I "get things done with words." Let's say we are pioneering The Higher Duplicity.


Two things. There's a scene in the film Casino where the casino skimming mob boss says to his high-level factotum "I don't like to gamble, I like to win." Who would *that* be in this scenario?

Another. When I was a little boy I visited my mother's family farm a few times. One of my uncles, who was a little impish, but SOOOOOO not manic, just a solid silo of corn, slow, he took us out into the cow pasture I think, walking the fence line. At one point he said I want to show you something, let's hold hands, girls first, then me, then jimmy. Now you, first girl, grab the fence. Jimmy got shocked and we all had a laugh, first them, at me, and then us, all together.

Just a couple of thoughts. Bzzzzzzzzt.


btw, some new, relevant, comments, down under, here.


Et's video is pirate art, as raw as anything I have ever seen on the topic of philanthropy. I went to bed sick at heart about for several nights running and can't get it out of my head. Yet there are other complementary truths. Money given from very wealthy, sometimes quite complex people does do good (and thereby ennobles or provides an alibi for existing social structures). Many who have a lot give nothing. The givers are not the ones we should most criticize, but those who fail to give. To express extreme animus even true hatred of a group of people taken as a class strikes me as dangerous. Get to know each person and his or her circumstances, history, and motives before judging them.

What I think we have here is a pre-emptive strike. When we anticipate being rejected we can be belligerant as a way of saying, "Well screw you too." But what I think can and will happen if we work at it is friendship and working alliances among people who have something important to give but cannot fully realize their gift if they are disconnected. Et's video is a gift; it reeks of forbidden truth. We have to include and transform these energies, not cast them out. We need desperately a better and more open conversation about money and class and power and the direction of our country. The violence, the extreme, barely contained violence of Et's video is one of many examples of how close we are in this country to real ugliness. Satiric art is not war or torture; satiric art is how we turn violent energies into something we can assimilate, learn from, adapt. Et had the guts to get it said, and I honor him for it. But to move forward we cannot end with images of torture and violence, nor yet the reality of it. Giving is the offset, along with art, reason, and public conversation. I think Et probably agrees subject to whatever caveats and rephrasings. He just does not want the harsher truths left out in the effort to achieve harmony. Nor do I.


Here's one for ya.

Cattle ranchers and environmentalists joining together in Rocky Mountain range lands to foil housing developers designs for subdividing enormous chunks of land. Very rich people step up to purchase enormous chunks of land, appointing a steward to keep it wild and intact.



That kind of stuff can happen. We need to see that good things can be done and are being done by good people who happen to have money. Money is in some ways adventitious - like physical strength or looks. You can't judge a person by their biceps or their bankroll.


But there's a lot of morons focused on their buff biceps, and plenty on their gold cojones as well. I think you HAVE to judge them rather quickly on short evidence, no? Not JUST their preoccupation with... stuff ...but it certainly puts them 30 points down on my scale (100 being completely useful and wonderful; I'm about a 60, never topped 80 in my life.) An HOUR would tell you A LOT.

Now how many of the wealthy would give me a leisurely, undivided hour? I don't know. Me guess is, very few.

It's the difference between the quantitative / qualitative scales, I think. Qualitative takes time. Quantitative is quick.

My possible misconception is that the VAST MAJORITY of the ultrarich are by nature, or have become, bent toward the quantitative. You're a major dude. What say you?


Oh here's a quick test. In that hour, how much do they look OUTSIDE themselves, do they CONVERSE, are they preoccupied with TIME, ie, is their attention DIVIDED. I've seen a very few professionals assess, communicate and connect magnificently in 5-10 minutes, so I know it can be done. I personally would like no less than 30 minutes, an hour and I'm home.


Go to the nearest sporting event, like a baseball game. The guy sitting next to you may own a Midas Muffler shop and a McDonalds and a 7/11. How rich is rich? He could well be worth $10 million.


Chris Rock, the comedian, said something like this (Anyone, please jump in and correct me if I''m wrong):

Shaquille O'Neill is rich.
Bill Cosby is rich.
Oprah is rich.

Bill Gates?  He is *wealthy*.

It was a lot funnier when he said it.




Fixation on net worth makes sense in financial services in seeking clients. I am not so sure it is the right focus in creating the world we want. "Get over it," you might say. What can we do on a specific project together and with others?

AA Commonplace

you've said, many times here, that satire is the way to break open the vision, then the awareness and then the action to make real change.

et's video shows how much it can change things when put to serious purpose. Becoming exclusionary immediately renders almost anything involving people and society almost completely banal and enabling of that which would draw the boundaries.

Getting rid of the shit almost comp[letely voided WB of any value almost immediately. Walling all the shit off can only make an artificial world, and a too-serious-by-half artificial world at that.


Fair enough. Here's one.


I want to create an alternative letters to the editor section to be included as an inserted flyer in local newspapers all over the country -- and later, the universe.

My local paper currently encourages people to use email to send their letters in. The suggestion is that they CC the alternative letters to the editor DEVICE and ALL that is received go up on a website. Users of the site vote which letter(s) will be promoted to the insert/flyer. It could even be self-sustaining with one of those DONATE widgets that keeps a running total of contributions. In my town, the flyer costs (publisher charges) between $300-$350, with a fairly large distribution.

Secondarily, would be physically soliciting the "underheard" to contribute, like having a card table and a laptop set up in unlikely high-traffic areas, with the person sitting at the card table (do NOT call him/her a facilitator or attendant) transcribing the citizens' expressions for them if needed. Or they can write in on a piece of paper with a pencil, legibly, for later conversion.

Cost: Whatever I said up there and everybody else has to work for free. Oh, and Gerry (maybe?) can tell you how much it would cost to host the sites and spread them throughout the known universes. Somebody else can tell you about advertising and promotion or whatever. Lawyers can tell you about that. *I* just want to do it in *my* hometown.


*PT are the initials of my local paper. NOT is a negation, but in this case, it implies OTHER.


Article Two

I figure voting 'citizen-users' must meet physically with a 'person-who-is-not-an-attendant-nor-a-facilitator', like at the card table sites, before they can vote. They must pledge by raising their right hand and having their left hand on their groin that they will NOT astro-turf and agree that astro-turf will just be ash-canned by Gerry who will be screening every letter received from the known universes...

And if you don't want to do it, I'll find some who does, or do it myself. Nyaaah.


The letter to the editor voting thing sounds like an interesting innovation.


Mr. Commonplace, I do hear you. Go back to Swift, though. He wrote both sermons and satires. In fact the sermons always had a little satire and the satires often had a sermonette printed in bold letters to the reader could not miss the moral point.

The thing you have to ask yourself is whether you are getting your voice heard in conversation with those who have the capacity to catalyze change. That is a cross-class conversation. Getting it to happen means the highly connected folks at the top have to show up and stay. Likewise Et and his video have a place. But satire alone, without the sermon, becomes ashes and bitterness.

Sermons were what MLK wrote and what pulled us together, white, black and brown, rich and poor.

So, I am experimenting, seeking genres and mixtures that produce these cross class conversations and that might lead to action.

You have a huge amount of emotion about this, as do Et, Scruggs, and others. You yourself have lived it in your various roles over time. I agree with your point - obviously - about the role of excrement in the Satires of Swfit - but how do we go beyond satire to sermons or other genres that will inspire social change?

That is what I am thinking about these days, and experimenting with, not always successfully. Given your understanding of "the back story," I am interested in your sense of onward direction.


re: NOT-PT

I would LOVE to see what they turn DOWN. And DON'T. Too.

Might keep them a might more... honest?

I understand that the Letters to the Editor section is the second most read part of the paper (What's the first? Sports or Comics? I'll bet newspaper guy knows.) And that it is actively monitored by politicians' staffs, business mojos, persons of extraordinary influence, etc, to get a sampling of public opinion. Of course that opinion is being manufactured by... bidness, and filtered by... bidness, but it's still a GREAT sampling, ain't it...)

Somewhere Else

I would LOVE to see what they turn DOWN. And DON'T. Too.

Might keep them a might more... honest?

exactly the point, the flow of attention and emotion in online spaces is meant to be sensed vicariously but at the same time "in it".

How what comes up is received and attended to, and how it is woven into or not the stories that emerge, is what makes our future.


Between cause and effect stands the think tank and the media spinning and editing mightily.

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