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Author Topic:   Ah yes! The American Dream
Black belt
posted 04-11-1999 06:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Timlynn   Click Here to Email Timlynn     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Not long ago as Mom and I lingered over coffee, she was reading aloud from the March-April issue of Modern Maturity, the AARP pub that members get bi-monthly for their annual $8.00 membership fee.

Take a credit card out of your wallet . . . study it. Feel your name imprinted across it. That piece of plastic represents a significant amount of change. . . yet it wouldn't revolt you to chop it up with scissors. . . Now take a crisp, new dollar bill and tear it in half. Whoa. That's somehow different, isn't it?

"Whoa," is right! I nearly spilled my coffee over the newspaper. The point of the piece by John Wood was to introduce the reader to Suze Orman, the "hottest personal-finance pitchwoman in America."

Whether or not you agree with Ms. Orman or favor the critics who say she is more New Age Charlatan than Finance Guru, that "feel your credit card, now cut up your money exercise" riveted my intention to start this discussion on the basic juice of what drives the nanocorp --- Money -- the paper and metal that pose as lifeblood for today's way of being in our world.

Don't Buy the Big Bogey!

If I jump, like Oprah, on the Suze Orman bandwagon I'd have to buy the idea that if only I had the courage to be rich, I could create a life of "material and spiritual abundance."

I'd have to look at my financial picture and believe that any difficulties I have -- be it working too long and enjoying it less to spending half my monthly income to make token payments on mounting credit card interest -- have all come about for only two reasons:
1) I have a sweat and shiver, jiggle at the knees, get right down to it fear of money and
2) money -- not any thing else at all but -- Money controls my life!.

I absolutely disagree!

Don't get me wrong! I believe along with the experts that the whole success of the Industrial Revolution depended on developing rampant consumerism and having us all buy into it. That the real stroke of Henry Ford's genius was raising his worker's daily wage to $5.00 -- an in-your-face challenge to the going daily rate of $2.34.

Ford had discovered how to ensure there'd be a pool of eager purchasers lining up quickly to buy his early assembly line autos. This vicious cycle of pay-em-just-enough so they can buy more stuff has kept the American economy rolling ever since.

I agree that the shock of The Great Depression and the New Deal recovery afterwards made consumerism "good"-- and downright patriotic. Advertising became an industry. And we eagerly fell into endless cycles of borrowing, buying, and borrowing. None of that has changed.

By 1990, the average North American was working 20% more with 32% less free time per week than he/she had in 1973. Looking around at the folks in my neighborhood, I easily see that the work:leisure ratio has only gotten worse in the nine years since that data appeared in the Wall Street Journal.("Are We All Working Too Hard?" 1/4/1990)

But afraid of money? My life controlled by money?

I just don't think so!

We ARE sacrificing our lives, not so much for MONEY, but rather for the "stuff" that we can accumulate. Get more, have more, bigger, better -- stuff, stuff, stuff -- it's happening so pervasively, we hardly even notice. And, when you can chalk all this up on your newest "low interest" credit card, who even thinks of purchases in terms of money?

A recent sport shoe TV ad smartly insinuated the current economic message into our collective, overworked psyche, "Take what you want!" (Never mind the responsibility of having to earn it.)

And even Suze Orman, the New Age "goddess" for creating material abundance encourages our consumeristic field of dreams by telling us "money is attracted to people who are strong and powerful, respectful of it, and open to receiving it."

Holy Hallelujah Batman! Let's gussy up and go stand in the bank lobby!

[This message has been edited by Timlynn (edited 04 June 1999).]

Black belt
posted 06-04-1999 01:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Timlynn   Click Here to Email Timlynn     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

There is something contradictory about selling a contol your relationship to money program via credit card transactions when what you promote is a don't use credit cards philosophy. Do we REALLY need to shell out even more big bucks on yet one more credit card to have someone tell us what we no doubt already know?

We spend more than we make. Our eyes are bigger than the space we have to put our stuff in. We buy things on impulse that we'll toss in a couple of months unworn, unread, unopened (when we need more room for even more stuff). And at least once a week we have hopes of winning the lottery.

Like gerbils on a habitat wheel, we just keep running and running and running.

Afraid of Money? Controlled by money? No! I believe we just don't even think about it.

Black belt
posted 06-04-1999 01:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Timlynn   Click Here to Email Timlynn     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

The American Dream is based on the premise that no matter where you "start" you should aim to get MORE.

No matter what you have today if only you had a little MORE, you'd be happy. No matter what your status if you only had a little MORE prestige or power, you'd be happy. No matter what clothes are in your closet, car in your garage, school your kids attend, etc., etc., etc., ---- if ONLY you had a little MORE (better, bigger, nicer, etc.) you'd be REALLY happy. HA!

When you constantly look to the horizon for happiness, no matter how fast you run it will always be out of reach.

If you unquestionably adopt the Myth of More, you lose the ability to know when what you have is actually ENOUGH.

Black belt
posted 06-04-1999 02:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Timlynn   Click Here to Email Timlynn     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote


For the past five years, I've been absorbing bits and pieces of Your Money or Your Life.

Recently as a dojo discipline I've been working through this book from cover to cover including all the do-at-home exercises.

Your Money or Your Life grabs you by the toe hairs, shakes you out like a dog toy, and without making any apologies, forces you to take a REAL hard look at the relationship of money to your life.

There are 'scary assignments' like "estimate how much money you've made in your life so far then figure out where you've spent it," and drop-your-stomach tasks like "check your age in the table below and note how many hours you likely have left if you die from natural causes."

The idea is to help you become totally conscious that in our economy, money equals life energy. Every dollar you shell out for yet one more thing you really don't need, represents so many hours of time left in your life energy savings account.

When you STOP and THINK that the newest, latest, greatest, biggest, gotta-have-it-gizmo you are lusting to buy will cost over 200 hours of TIME from your personal life bank to pay for it -- you put that plastic back in your wallet and take another look at what you already have in your closet, basement or tool shed.

[This message has been edited by Timlynn_Babitsky (edited 10-05-2000).]

Black belt
posted 06-04-1999 02:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Timlynn   Click Here to Email Timlynn     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
(Here's an exercise I came up with last week after a little consciousness raising. Are you with me?)


1) Take a pen and paper to ANY room in your residence.

2) Open the closets, cabinets, etc., slide out the drawers a little, scoop things out from under the bed or chair.

3) Stand in the middle of this room and very slowly turn around completely, looking at -- everything laid out there before you.

4) Make a list of any items you bought in the last month that you have not yet used.

5) List any items you bought MORE than a month ago that you have not yet used (worn, read, eaten, etc.).

Just for the heck of it, how many hours of YOUR Life Bank did you spend on the stuff you just listed -- just in this ONE room?

Black belt
posted 08-04-1999 05:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Timlynn_Babitsky   Click Here to Email Timlynn_Babitsky     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

In the current issue (#16) of Strategy and Business David Berreby investigates the anthropology of today's 'cyberforagers' in an interesting piece called "The Hunter-Gatherers of the Knowledge Economy."

His profile of "the new generation of American professionals" reads like a page from the sohodojo website.

They want to come and go as they please, wear what they like, work the hours that suit them -- and not too many, thank you -- because they value a balanced life more than piling up possessions. They want to work in small groups and be part of every decision. . .

Yes! Sure! That's just about right, I thought. But what? Hold on!

The description above is a portrait of a typical band of foragers, like the !Kung San, The Ache, the Inuit -- people alive today who live by hunting and gathering, much in the same way the human race lived for two million years before the time-line blips -- farming and industrial production -- redefined the human " way to be."

Far from being a "new" way of relating to the world, the new generation of professional values appear to be the oldest human values held on earth.

  • Work only as much as you need, to thrive and to survive.

  • Relationships are more important than who owns how much.

  • Group together to accomplish complex tasks; share information to advance the whole community.

  • Beware of accumulating so much 'stuff' that you lose your power to move quickly and respond to new opportunity.

For all our "progress" as a human species, we hunter-gatherers of information cyberspace may have merely come back to our deepest ancestral roots.

[This message has been edited by Timlynn_Babitsky (edited 10-04-2000).]

White belt
posted 08-10-1999 11:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for farmhaus   Click Here to Email farmhaus     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This is a true story. This, to me anyway, is a sad story. I work for a man, a wealthy man, who back in the early part of this decade was just starting his business. He had two stores and worked at both of them and did his books at night. I helped him and he often just dropped by my office and always had a great smile on his face happy about some small improvement he had made in his business or a customer he had pleased.
Now he has forty stores. He comes into the office as seldom as possible and doesn't smile much. He rarely visits his stores and really only cares about how much money he can make. He loses his temper when confronted with the smallest problem. The joy is gone. Only the money is left.

Black belt
posted 10-14-1999 01:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Timlynn_Babitsky   Click Here to Email Timlynn_Babitsky     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A friend of mine sent me a URL for site this morning. The site motto reads something like this: For the Person Who Has Everything, But Still Isn't Very Happy About it (TM).

The site is called It's supposed to be tongue-in-cheek -- I think. But what a commentary for our life and times!

Black belt
posted 09-30-2000 07:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Timlynn_Babitsky   Click Here to Email Timlynn_Babitsky     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here's the story of two distinct and different groups...

Group One is nimble, flexible. They travel often into unknown trerritory, gathering new knowledge, seeking new experience. They study nature. They share tasks. They visualize outcomes. They welcome outside contact and they embrace change.

Group Two is static, stationary.They travel, but stay within sight of familiar territory. They avoid contact. They know their territory, they stay in small groups. They have a central base and a permanent location. They preserve existing knowledge, make little change.

Group One thrives while Group Two dies. Group One is Homo Sapiens; Group Two Neanderthal Man. Two species; one survived.

If you have a chance, see "The Human Journey" next time it is shown on The Learning Channel. We human beings have not changed a whole lot in what it takes for us to survive.

[This message has been edited by Timlynn_Babitsky (edited 09-30-2000).]

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