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Oakland, CA

Posted By Bakari

"Turning-Hustlers-into-Entrepreneurs" discusses the possibility of increasing micro-credit in order to support independent "black market" business people.  As someone who has been running a successful off-the-books business for several years, I believe the major obstacle is not a lack of credit, but rather a government which is geared toward big business.

As the examples in the article illustrate, people are already doing what they are doing, without capital.  What they lack is official legitimacy.  Many entrepreneurs, such as myself, would love to "go legit", but it is not a realistic option.
I understand and support the idea that government regulate business to protect consumers.  The problem is that government does not take the size of a business into account in the requirements it imposes on operating legally.

For example, a single guy with a pick-up truck doing local deliveries pays the exact same state license fee as a company with a fleet of semi trucks.  The  least insurance available to him is a million dollars of coverage with a 1-2 thousand dollar annual premium, even if he never comes close to transporting a million dollars worth of goods.   Every city he works in requires its own separate business license.  If he needs to hire a subcontractor on occasion, he needs to buy worker's comp insurance at a minimum, and possibly more.  Being self-employed, he pays an additional tax (which an employer would otherwise cover).  And of course by staying underground, he avoids paying any income tax on his business revenue.

All of this can easily add up to thousands of dollars.  That sum may be inconsequential to a corporation with annual sales in the millions of dollars, but to a small independent, going legit would cost me about 20% of my entire net revenue, more than two months income.

The solution to this is not to finance small business to help them pay for theses fees - these fees are annual, and taking loans only increases risk.  The solution is to have license fees proportional to net revenue, instead of being fixed amounts, requiring insurance companies to offer a full range of coverage options, including (potentially less profitable) low limit policies, and restructuring tax code so there isn't a penalty to being self-employed. Similarly, laws making it difficult or illegal to run certain types of business from home could be relaxed, (for example, allowing small scale retail in otherwise residential districts), eliminating the need for a dedicated store-front, a major on-going expense.

Reducing the government imposed costs of running an independent business legally would , without the additional risk incurred (for both the investor and the entrepreneur) by accepting loans or the costs incurred by providing grants.  It would also increase tax revenue, by encouraging existing underground businesses to come above the radar and join the mainstream economy.

Posted By Bakari

On the popular TV show "The Office", the branch manager is a bit of a doofus.  He's not all that bright, he is totally obsessed with having his employees like him on a personal level, and he has very little knowledge of actual business or management theory.
He makes his superiors wring their hands and shake their heads - but the thing is, his office's sales record is the best in the company, so despite his many, many faux pax, he always keeps his job.

Nobody can quite figure out how he manages to do such a good job in spite of himself.

Even though he tells them quite clearly, time and again.

He considers his employees family.
He wants his customers to feel cared for.
He is more interested in making people happy than in making money.

You can't learn to be community based and to value clients as actual people in business school.  You can't use the idea of caring about people and being friendly to increase the bottom line, because if your interest is in the bottom line, you are genuinely interested in people.  You can't fake authenticity. 

Its either about the love, or its about money. Once you start thinking about rate of return ratios, receivables balance fractions, risk-adjusted profitability, or marginal value-added pricing structures, and all the other things one learns in business school, you are far beyond the point of seeing every person you work for and every person you work with as numbers.

From there it is a very slippery slope to the scenario described by "Jack" in Fight Club: If the cost of the average rate of settlement times the expected rate of failure is less than the cost of a recall for a known deadly manufacturing error, we don't do the recall.
In the end it comes down to morality.  Its either being moral, or maximizing profit.  They are mutually exclusive.

No business is going to have as their slogan "All we care about is your money", and a lot of them try in ads to sound like it isn't true; for any public corporation it is actually illegal for them to consider anything else above the bottom line - if they tried the shareholders could sue. 
For the vast majority of companies jumping on the band wagon, being environmentally responsible is a marketing gimmick as much as a catchy jingle.

Thinking in terms of doing productive work for society while earning fair compensation, as opposed to thinking of how to maximize revenue while minimizing costs will not (always) lead to the highest possible profits.

It will, I think, mean that business actually increases while the rest of the country is in an economic downturn.  It means getting so many referrals its necessary to turn jobs down after going a year and a half without any form of advertising.  It means when, inevitably, mistakes are made, no customer ever makes a claim, because they realize they are not just numbers, that every attempt to be careful was made, all actions in good faith. 
It means that quite a few of my customers make me meals while I'm working.

If a job is a paycheck, it will show through to the customer, no matter how you try to hide it.
If I am ever in a position to hire anyone, my first question will not be about education or experience or abilities or references.  My first and most important question is just this: Why do you want the job?  If its about pay and benefits, no matter how qualified, its "next please".

It has to be about the love.

Posted By Bakari

Sometimes when I'm working at the bikestation I go up to the Walgreens just outside the BART for an orange juice.

One day I went up and the line was just ridiculous.  They brought in a 2nd checker, but the line still kept growing faster...

And then this guy comes back from helping a customer, back to his checkstands.

Not a typo.  Checkstands.
He unlocks two registers.

He calls someone up, scans the purchases and gives them the total.  And then as that customer goes through their wallet for change or waits for the credit machine to process, he calls someone else up to his other register.
This guy is a joy and a wonder to watch.  He makes it look smooth, almost effortless.
His co-workers were stressed, not smiling, barely speaking or looking at their customers, but he was right in his element, all smiles and politeness and eye contact.  He could talk to the person at one register while processing the items on the other, with no signs of confusion or hesitation.
He did the work of two people, and made it look easier than it takes most people to do the work of one.

I worked as a cashier part-time when I went back to college, just before I started BioDiesel Hauling.
It wasn't the worst thing I've ever done, and I was decently good at it, to the point where if a manager wasn't handy I was the person my co-worker came to with questions.  But it certainly wasn't much of a challenge. It never occurred to me that being a checker was something it was even possible to excel at.  I have been shown otherwise.

You know, in general I am not particularly in favor of maximizing potential, or doing one's best, I think the whole concept stems from a manipulative puritan work ethic imposed on the populace.  But given that one has to be at work some set hours anyway, you may as well do a good job of it while you're there.  So often I have seen just the opposite - people putting in as many hours as possible, but working slow and slacking off, as if they are somehow getting over on someone.  I never thought much about cashiers one way or another, but here is one I admire.
This checker doesn't get paid twice as much, but he does his job beyond expectation, and seems to enjoy it a hell of a lot more than anyone else working there.  The line disappeared.  And if that weren't enough, now all the people who reads this blog (all 6 of them) will know that there is one very amazing checker at one particular Walgreens in downtown Berkeley.

Posted By Bakari


I just received the 3rd notice in 2 years of a class action lawsuit against a former employer.


Was I for some reason bouncing from one dishonest company to another?

I realize I have had a lot, and so statistically that ups the chances a little, and also that this is a very litigation happy place (owing to our severe lack of meaningful regulations and enforcement).


And it shouldn't be all that surprising, given that the ultimate goal of any corporation is, by law, maximization of profit, which means that even following the law becomes a matter of calculating potential loss vs. potential gain: 10 years of unpaid overtime may be worth a 4 or 5 million dollar lawsuit.


I'm just hope I never receive one of those notices for my most recent job.  If all the employees of BioDiesel Hauling file suit against the owner, I have some serious problems, and not just the financial ones.

Posted By Bakari

My plan had been to become a park ranger ever since high school.

I always knew I wanted to do a lot of different jobs, but once I had some varied experience, I was going to settle in the long term with park ranger.
I had dozens of different jobs, and then when I got bored of it, I went back to school and focused on stuff that would improve my chances of getting a ranger job: degrees in biology and earth science, an emergency medical technician certificate, and the pre-police academy course.

By this time I was in a long-term relationship with someone with a career in an urban area, and I didn't want to move out to a remote area as, since that would mean either forcing her to move or leaving her behind.

Oakland has around 1200 acres in 91 parks, including 500 acre Joaquin Miller, and has its own park rangers.
And just as I was beginning my job search after graduation, they were hiring. How convenient.

About 6 years ago they had 25 rangers.
Due to budget cuts this number went from 12, to 8, to 5.
At the time 2 of those 5 were not on active duty for one reason or another, leaving all of 3 people to cover the entire city's network of parks. They were trying to get back to 8.

I turned in the initial application. I passed the oral interview. I did excellent on the general intelligence test. I passed the physical test with lots of time to spare (timed obstacle course and strength test) and passed the psychological profile. Turned in the extensive background information. There are no hidden things in my past which should disqualify me. I got a letter saying I had been placed on the eligibility list.
And then...
I got another letter saying I wasn't. I wrote to inquire what had happened, and never heard back.

By this time BioDiesel Hauling had taken off, I was enjoying it, making good money, in the process of getting the green certification, and had just started the bike job, so I let it go.

About year later, I am well established in both jobs, and very happy with what I am doing. I am up in the park, and I happen to notice a brochure about the volunteer bike patrol. Looks like it could be fun. But I don't own a mountain bike.

Another 6 months go by, I get a mountain bike.
I take it to the closest park to my house, and lo and behold - Oakland allows cyclists to ride single track!! (See "we have some seriously f*cking gnarly...", August 6, 2008)
I applied for the program.

Yesterday was my interview.
As it happens the sergeant interviewing me was one of the ones who did last time.
The interview was more like a friendly chat. Most relaxed interview I have ever been in (last time there were 3 interviewers. I had to wear a suit. "Relaxed" would certainly not be a word I would have used to describe it)

I learned, among other things, that the budget for additional rangers was cut before the hiring process was completed. They ended up hiring 2 people, but also let 2 go, leaving the city with... 3 rangers. Only now instead of having a goal of 5-8, 3 is the number officially budgeted for.

Which means it wasn't (necessarily) anything to do with me when I didn't get hired. I wouldn't have gotten it no matter what, because the position I was applying for ceased to exist. Kind of would have been nice had they mentioned that at the time, but its nice to know now.

Looks like I will get to patrol the parks after all.
I just won't get paid anything for it.

On the plus side, I only go as often as I feel like it, and won't be required to make any arrests.
I have a motivator to actually get me off this damn computer and go outside and get some exercise and be in the outdoors.
And an excuse to buy some cool new bike equipment.

Here's to (probably) not having terrible things on my permanent record that I don't know about afterall!

Posted By Bakari

MyFarm is one of my clients, and I potentially benefit from them signing up new customers


You have no doubt heard of the increasingly common services where a company regularly delivers a box full of fresh, usually organic, produce from CA farms, right to your doorstep.

MyFarm takes this concept a step further.
They don't buy from farmers, nor do they have land of their own.

When they say "local", they really mean it!

The space they use to grow organic vegetables in is literally right in your own back yard.

(And not the way people have been using the word "literally" to imply exclamation; I mean "literally" literally.)

They come in, assess the soil, assess the site (shade/sun, etc), discuss with you what you like to eat, and figure out what can be grown in your yard.
They build a garden, from scratch if need be (including bringing in organic soil if the existing soil is contaminated), install drip irrigation (the lowest water use type), and come back regularly to maintain it.

The customer can help with this process as much or as little as they like.

Essentially you are hiring landscapers - plus you end up with fresh, delicious, organic fruits and vegetables, from the most local source possible.

If you have a big enough yard, they may harvest more than you can eat, in which case some gets distributed to other clients in the neighborhood, and you get charged less.
You also may get some things from elsewhere in your neighborhood to allow for greater variety.

This is one of the most brilliant ideas I have heard in a long time (since NetFlix - oh if only I had had investment money back when I first heard about that idea - back when their advertising consisted solely of spam emails)

They contacted me about moving soil.
By sheer coincidence, the very next day I saw a segment on them on the show "Your Green Life".
I am looking forward to working with them.

I am making business contacts!
Every day this thing which I originally intended to be a way to make a little cash in between real jobs almost 2 years ago, becomes more and more like an actual business.
Its going to take a long time to get used to this.

Posted By Bakari

I finally got the person who had reserved "" to release it from it's parked status.


It should be a few hours to process, but soon will redirect to my website,

Most people assume all websites to be .com, so this means a lot of confused customers will be able to find me a lot easier.


The person who owned it until today, a college student in Oregon,  he had a similar business idea to mine, and a few months before I first set up my website he reserved the name. 

I contacted him and offered to buy it almost two years ago, but he said he intended to use it in the next few weeks.

However, he never ended up using the site.  I checked in recently, and found it was still idle.

I contacted him again, and offered to buy it and let him pick a price.  He refused payment, and transferred the domain to me the next day.  I wrote again, explaining that I am using the site for commercial reasons, and offered to pay, at the very least, whatever he paid for the domain in the first place.  Again, he declined.  

Without a Paypal address or mailing address (the DNS had the school's address), there isn't much I can do.


He said he agrees with what I'm doing, and to re-invest what ever I would have paid him.


The GoDaddy website (who the domain is registered with) specifically encourages people to register domains for the sole reason of reselling them at a profit to someone who will actually use them. Plenty of people do just that, essentially web domain speculating - and making money while providing literally nothing of value to society.

This person did just the opposite - paid for a site, and then gave it away.


Take that capitalism!!


I am not the only anti-capitalist still out there.

There is morality, generosity, left in this country.

To the guy in question (perhaps he doesn't want his name public, but he knows who he is) you have all of my respect and gratitude.


Posted By Bakari

I realized relatively recently that I have finally achieved my lifelong dream.

Back in high school I had the common dilemma of trying to decide what to do next.
I had been thinking engineer, cause of interest in how mechanical stuff works, but then I hated calculus.
Everyone assumed it would be something science related, because I was supposedly "smart" or something (I was actually a fairly average student, yet even my teachers assumed otherwise - which helped become a self fulfilling prophesy in some classes)
Since everyone assumed it, I assumed it.

But nothing specific seemed appealing.

Then there was the bike trip to Mexico.
I rolled through the day, listening to many musics, pedaling and pedaling, lots of food, not too much English.
There were Mexican truck drivers, through the desert, turning down their headlights at dawn and dusk, some of them perhaps pre-power steering, at stops, they seemed like happy people.
I came back, with all those miles behind me, I got a job as a bike messenger, at the first place I applied.

I don't know when the realization hit me.
Quite likely back in high school, probably.  Or maybe during the trip, maybe just after.
I can't remember.

Everyone tells you, told me, "reach for the stars" "fulfill your potential" "do your best" "if you work hard you can succeed" "dream big" "set goals" "be all you can be".
I always felt like, if I was intelligent, it wasn't so that the world could benefit.  It was just something to make my life a little easier, maybe a little more enjoyable.  To me, doing something complex and technical and prestigious, something that might require "intelligence", doing something like that, if it doesn't actually make you happy, it isn't really that intelligent, is it?  I mean, doing something which isn't whatever makes you happiest, for a lifetime, just because you can, that seems pretty stupid to me.


What I realized one day is: I don't need to ever be famous.  I don't need to climb the social ladder.  I don't ever want to be upper class.  I don't want to be remembered in the history books for something.  I have no need, no reason, no desire to excel.  In anything.  Not even in my own narrow field.  Everyone can't be on top.  Obviously.  Why waste so much effort playing king of the hill with all the other jerks who want to be on top?

My goal, my desire, was to be a perfectly ordinary, average kind of guy, who went to work, made enough to get by, did enjoyable stuff on his time off.
I wanted maybe a wife, and probably kids someday - eventually.  Of course there are some hiccups on that part right now, but I'm still working on it.  I can't say I am optimistic about it right now, but I'm not pessimistic either.
Anyway... I didn't want to change the world. 

I wanted to be able to tell my grandchildren stories someday, and not bore them with the same ones over and over, not have to make stuff up.


<entire blog at MySpace>

Posted By Bakari

Whether history teaches us to be optimistic or pessimistic is only a matter of when and where you choose to look.

There have been wars at least as long as there has been civilization - which of course continues to today.
Empires have risen, Persian, Chinese, Mongolian, Ottoman, Aztec, Inca, British, USSR.
Some lasted for centuries, some covered the majority of the world (that the culture knew of).
Every one of them fell, for one reason or another, eventually.

That could give hope that the US, which is extending influence both culturally, politically, and militarily throughout the world, will inevitably follow - but its seems obvious that it will be replaced by another - no matter the ideals in begins in, it will inevitably grow corrupt. They all do.

In the 3rd century BC the Egyptian library/museum at Alexandria contained the collected knowledge of the Egyptian and Greek civilizations, the largest in the world. While the circumstances of its destruction are debated, it was apparently due to some combination of war and religious fundamentalism.

The civilizations of the Mediterranean created, among other things, plumbing, calculus, and democracy (but only for white male property owners) - and at the hight of the Roman Empire, a popular spectator sport involved watching humans fight to the death, and eventually flooding the coliseum to create mock sea battles - but with real weapons - for the entertainment of government and the wealthy.
In the Dark Ages, as Rome fell, much of the infrastructure was allowed to fall to ruins, and everything from libraries to aqueducts was lost - along with the education and intellectual development that had accompanied it, and much already acquired knowledge and technology was lost.
Then came about the forced conversion of people in Europe, Asia, and Africa to Christianity and Islam, as well as wars between the two (the Crusades) - ultimately spreading throughout the world, and, of-course, lasting to the present.
Europe's renaissance consisted largely of no more than the re-discovery of things which had been previously known, but lost.

For every Ghandi there has been a Hitler and a Mussolini. For every Roosevelt and Carter we've had a Regan, A Bush, and a Bush Jr. Lenin's "people's revolution" turned quickly into Stalin's purges.
Che failed to start a revolution, and after all of Chavez's work, today immigrants still work in pesticide laden fields for far less than minimum wage while middle class Americans with far more comfortable lives advocate criminalizing them for it.

For all the noise the anti-war movement made, American troops pulled out because the North Vietnamese won.
In fact, the non-violent success Ghandi seemingly had happened to be at a time when the British Empire was already in decline with Canada, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Egypt, and Iraq becoming officially fully independent in (or around) 1931, and their military over extended worldwide - a guerrilla war with Ireland, the aftermath of WWII, and calls (and actions) for independence throughout the British Empire in Asia, Africa, and the Americas. For 40 years India had sought independence, but it was not until these - often violent - worldwide events came along that it was finally granted.
Then, almost immediately, (as British representatives had predicted) the country split, and the potentially violent stand-off between newly formed Pakistan and India (both of which have nukes) has lasted to this day. So much for non-violence.

<entire blog at MySpace>

Posted By Bakari

Wait, what did that title say?
"My company"?

That still sounds so weird.

Yes, my company has been in business for just over one year.

As of 2 days ago, Bio-Diesel Hauling has been certified green by the Bay Area Green Business Program.

As of last night I have a website!

Within the next few days I will have registered my fictitious business name. (Form and check are filled out, its up to the USPS now).

I have a newly designed card.

I have had enough work from repeats, referrals, and through the BikeStation that I have not had to post an ad (on Craigslist) for almost 2 months.

In recognition of these successes, I have decided (as CEO) to give myself (as driver and laborer) a 50% raise.

Don't worry, my friends, family, referrals, and loyal repeat customers will all continue to receive my old rate (20/hr & 1/mile) for at least the next half a year.

What I'm wondering now is if anything will ever happen to me in life that I actually did plan in advance.

Posted By Bakari

It says something about our society.

On the BART in the morning, just over 50% of the passengers on any given car are asleep, or trying to sleep, or trying not to sleep, or at least resting with their eyes closed and their heads leaned over.

Sacrificing sleep in order to start the business day an hour earlier - every single day.
Why is this required, and why do we allow it? Is that much money really made between 7am and 8am?

Of course I am on that train too, in order to see it; but then that's because my job is a service specifically to commuters. So I have to be there before the commute. All those people on the train at 6am can't all have jobs specific to commuters.
And, well, in my case, something about skating 2.5 miles to BART while listening to Shock G and the DU as the sun comes up, it just makes it feel different. I actually enjoy my commute, even when I'm tired.

Look at these faces: they are not happy faces. Even without the loss of sleep, they are not happy faces.

I remember my bike trip through Mexico almost a decade ago now. It wasn't like this.
I would come across a store or a restaurant. The sign, if there was one, might say they opened at 9. But whether or not it was actually open at 9, that seemed to depend more on whether or not the owner felt like opening by then or not than what the sign said.
Which could be a little annoying when I had just ridden 15 miles and was looking forward to breakfast, but even then, I understood, I still liked that system better.

Money is to support living, instead of life being a means to make money.

Posted By Bakari

Here is a short sample of the transcription accuracy when the person leaving the message is not deliberatly saying lots of wierd and random things just to test the system.
I just got this email from SpinVox:

You received a new voicemail from +1510[*******]:

Bakari. Hey, Dave calling about the workday around noon. Hey, thanks for offering to work today, but we're all set. I've got the shifts covered, so you're next on for Fri afternoon 2 to 9. I will see you then around 2:00. Thanks again. Have a great back-to-work day. Talk to you later.
- Powered by SpinVox.

Message received at May 17, 2007 7:14:21 PM

If you wish to listen to this message, call your voicemail on +925[*******] and press *03

For assistance, see or email

Thank you,

Posted By Bakari

Looking back on my calender

Over the last 25 days, one day off.

That is misleading, because often it is just one short moving job, no more than 2 or 3 hours.
All in all, 28 individual jobs in that time.

I was really looking forward to a 2nd day off today.
Call last night from Dave (the president of the Berkeley Bicycle Friendly Coalition, as well as the manager of the Bike Station)
He has not got confirmation from our new hire - could I go in, just in case he doesn't show up, and also to train him some more if he does?

Normally I'd say no without a second thought, and that would be the end of it.

Only thing is, if I don't do it, Dave himself has to.  We are short people (that's why we have new hires).
And Dave works just as much as I do, except I think a lot of what he does is volunteer.  The Bicycle Friendly Coalition is not-profit, and membership based.  They rely on volunteers for everything.
May being Bike month, he has been putting in crazy hours, (and forgetting to submit payroll! that's ok, as long as I get my check before bills are due)
*edit: check has gone through already.  only took 1 day from when I sent him everyone's hours from work, only 3 days later than normal*
, and now he is sick.

I may be tired, but I'm not sick.

The least I can do is put in a few more - paid - hours.  I don't volunteer anywhere; and I have no intention of starting. 
I was going to spend today posting stuff in the driveway to Craigslist, writing some, having 3 or 4 actual meals, and possible inviting a friend to go hiking.  I think instead I may spend it lifting bicycles into racks, and occasionally repairing them.

Oh, by the way, this is Bike-To-Work day, today.
By now, you probably have missed the chance to bike to work, but when you get home, go ride a bike anyway.  Somewhere.  Anywhere.  Even just for a little bit.  Its fun.  And its good for you.  And its better for living things than driving is.  And besides, everyone else is doing it!

Posted By Bakari

The article in my last entry was written in 1932

74 years ago, and as accurate a portrayal of modern life today as it was then. 
Only the USSR he speaks of has fallen, adopting our system of "free market"
In the US production increases every year - an increase in per capita GDP of over 7 times, or almost 10% per year; yet work hours have been constant ever since - slightly increasing for most, decreasing for some, balancing out to an average of... exactly the same: slightly more than the 40 hour week which was made standard not long before the essay was written.
Since productivity has increased 7 fold, while hours have remained constant, presumably median real income (after accounting for inflation) would have also increased 7 fold.
In actuality, median pay has increased around 2.1 times from 1948 to 2004 (earliest data I can find).

The one thing this otherwise excellent essay misses is that, while the land holding privileged class of royalty has been eliminated, they have been replaced indirectly by the societal acceptance of virtually unrestricted investment returns and inheritance.
Through them the primary owners and controllers of major corporations have taken the place of a class which does not have to do any real work but can instead charge ordinary people for the privilege of living and working on their land or in their companies.
It is much more their choice than the workers themselves that, for example, when the pin making machine is invented and production per person doubles, the work force is halved instead of individual hours.
It is to the advantage of the company - or, more specifically the owners and investors, who do no actual work but keep a percentage of the earnings, to have fewer people with more hours, as there is always a per person cost in taxes and benefits above the cost of wages.
With the introduction of the labor saving device, the employing company could choose to have all employees work half as often with the same total pay.  The employees are only given the choice of cut hours at reduced pay or 50% lay offs.  Given that, they prefer to retain the 8 hour day.  Were the company to continue to pay the same weekly rate for less hours (or double the hourly rate and halve the hours) it would not lose any money.  It would be exactly where it had been all along.  If it had been sustainably profitable before, i t would continue to be.
However, the assumption in our society is that the company gets to reap the full benefit of the new invention.
Thus the increase in GDP over the years is primarily concentrated in the hands of those who need it least.
It is not actually true in most years that "the poor get poorer while the rich get richer"
A more accurate statement would be "the poor get slightly richer while the rich get much much richer", which is really just as bad.

There are over 400 Americans with more than 1 billion dollars.
Few enough to fit in a large banquet hall or conference room.
Between the 400 richest individuals is personal ownership of 1.25 trillion dollars.
(worldwide there are 793 billionaires, with a total of 2.6 trillion - more than half are Americans)
The total GDP for the US is around 12.5 Trillion.

In other words, 400 people control 10% of all the wealth in the country.

Divided equally among the population, 12.5 trillion would mean $41,600 per person (including children and other non-workers)


<entire blog at MySpace>

Posted By Bakari

 By Bertrand Russell

"Like most of my generation, I was brought up on the saying: 'Satan finds some mischief for idle hands to do.' Being a highly virtuous child, I believed all that I was told, and acquired a conscience which has kept me working hard down to the present moment. But although my conscience has controlled my actions, my opinions have undergone a revolution. I think that there is far too much work done in the world, that immense harm is caused by the belief that work is virtuous, and that what needs to be preached in modern industrial countries is quite different from what always has been preached. Everyone knows the story of the traveler in Naples who saw twelve beggars lying in the sun (it was before the days of Mussolini), and offered a lira to the laziest of them. Eleven of them jumped up to claim it, so he gave it to the twelfth. this traveler was on the right lines. But in countries which do not enjoy Mediterranean sunshine idleness is more difficult, and a great public propaganda will be required to inaugurate it. I hope that, after reading the following pages, the leaders of the YMCA will start a campaign to induce good young men to do nothing. If so, I shall not have lived in vain...."

"First of all: what is work? Work is of two kinds: first, altering the position of matter at or near the earth's surface relatively to other such matter; second, telling other people to do so. The first kind is unpleasant and ill paid; the second is pleasant and highly paid. The second kind is capable of indefinite extension: there are not only those who give orders, but those who give advice as to what orders should be given. Usually two opposite kinds of advice are given simultaneously by two organized bodies of men; this is called politics. The skill required for this kind of work is not knowledge of the subjects as to which advice is given, but knowledge of the art of persuasive speaking and writing, i.e. of advertising..."

"From the beginning of civilization until the Industrial Revolution, a man could, as a rule, produce by hard work little more than was required for the subsistence of himself and his family, although his wife worked at least as hard as he did, and his children added their labor as soon as they were old enough to do so. The small surplus above bare necessaries was not left to those who produced it, but was appropriated by warriors and priests. In times of famine there was no surplus; the warriors and priests, however, still secured as much as at other times, with the result that many of the workers died of hunger. This system persisted in Russia until 1917 [1], and still persists in the East; in England, in spite of the Industrial Revolution, it remained in full force throughout the Napoleonic wars, and until a hundred years ago, when the new class of manufacturers acquired power. In America, the system came to an end with the Revolution, except in the South, where it persisted until the Civil War. A system which lasted so long and ended so recently has naturally left a profound impress upon men's thoughts and opinions. Much that we take for granted about the desirability of work is derived from this system, and, being pre-industrial, is not adapted to the modern world. Modern technique has made it possible for leisure, within limits, to be not the prerogative of small privileged classes, but a right evenly distributed throughout the community. The morality of work is the morality of slaves, and the modern world has no need of slavery."


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