The Phases of Enlightment

Below are the phases of enlightenment. I shall continue to update this as I pass further along my journey to enlightenment.

PHASE I:  You realize Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy aren't real.

PHASE II: You realize professional wrestling is scripted and not a sport.

PHASE III: You realize that if God exists, every religion on the planet has it WAY wrong.

PHASE IV: You realize that the Republican Party gains it's strength by fooling those who have yet to achieve phase III, and feel good about yourself for being past phase III.

PHASE V: You realize that American politics is more like professional wrestling than you dared to think, and that the Democratic Party is the educated person's favorite wrestler.

PHASE VI: You write off the world as hopeless and look into yourself to find happiness.

PHASE VII:  You realize what you've been doing wrong.

PHASE VIII:  You finally understand the Truth of the Two Dogs.

PHASE IX: You see fear is the root of what you were doing wrong.

PHASE X:  You start to see fear affecting other areas of your life.

PHASE XI:  You stop feeding the black dog.

PHASE XII:  You realize what's been holding you back.

PHASE XIII:  You see the black dog in others.

PHASE XIV:  You sympathize, inform, and your realizations make you an example to follow.

PHASE XV:  You realize the soul is merely a wet dream of the ego and begin to question the benefit of your morality.


An Open Letter to the Occupy Movement

 This is not likely to be short.

First - Thank You & Curse You
Thank you for your courage and strength for standing up for your beliefs - whether they align with mine or not.

For the majority of my life all I have seen of Americans has given me little to be proud of. An America that accepts things as they are most often, and chooses the lesser of two evils when they opt to bother to make a choice.

You, dear occupiers, have had enough and have chosen to make a stand. Any American that does that is a person that makes ME proud to be an American. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Thank you for showing me that the America I learned about in school doesn't have to be a thing of the past. Thank you for showing me that enough people can care enough to come together and be seen. Thank you for waking me up!

Curse you for waking me up! My eyes have been opened to the nation around me - pried from the television and the computer with its cute kitten videos to see what? My friends and loved ones carrying on with eyes closed and heads in the sand. To a world where more people know the names of the Simpsons or American Idol judges than know the names of the people that represent them in Congress.

Second - Please Identify the Villains
Some are easy and relatively obvious - Chase, Wells Fargo, etc. Name them again. Over and over. Don't just say "Big Banks" Be specific. If the message gets out the Big Banks are the villainous - that's good. If the average complacent citizen is reminded over and over again that Chase a villain there is no room for doubt if "my bank" is one of the "bad" ones.

Some are not as obvious - which politicians are bought? The answer may very well be all of them, but when the average citizen sees a ballot, "All O. Them" won't be on there. Make them notorious, so that any person who doesn't pay enough attention will no to check the box next to a name he doesn't recognize.

Which corporations are doing the buying and the lobbying? Tie their brand to their actions. I suspect, but don't have the time to investigate, that McDonald's buys politicians and lobbyists. Bring their names, their logos, and their specific sins into the light of public scrutiny.

Third - Don't Make Demands
Demands are made by kidnappers in hostage situations. This isn't a hostage situation, it's a wake up call. It's a wake up call to the people of America, making them see what happens when they place their trust in politicians and then remain silent. It's a wake up call to the banks, that the people are watching and will hold them accountable. It's a wake up call to the representatives, that they too are being watched and will be held accountable.

Fourth - Stay a Movement
A movement is an idea, and an idea is better than a belief. A movement is all inclusive, a party is not. The powers that be can squash a party. They can smear a party. Your strength comes from your diversity - just as the strength of our country does.

How many votes are lost to concerned citizens over a specific issue - abortion for instance. If you form a party and take a stand you divide those who would otherwise stand with you. The stand the Occupy movement embodies is that as Americans we should take a stand. Whatever it is you believe in, stand for it. Don't accept tax breaks for the rich because the candidate that supports them also supports a couple of issues you feel strongly about.

Let the stance of the Movement be to take stand, use your voice, participate. Turn off the TV and quit placing the future of your children and grandchildren in the hands of whoever gives the best speech.

However, I am by no means suggesting not putting forth candidates. The Occupy Movement is in the unique position of putting forth the ideal candidate: The "None of the Above Candidate"

Find educated, well spoken, and capable individuals willing to serve as the voice of the disenchanted. Individuals with no particular stance other than the good of the people and the good of the country. Let their speeches be merely "If you disagree with or don't trust the other candidates, I will hold the position until a better person steps forward."

Take votes from the left, take votes from the right. Each of those votes will speak to politicians and would be politicians. It will let them know that towing the party line is no longer good enough. That having a (D) or (R) by their name on the ballot is insufficient to lead our country. That votes can go to good men and women who stand up for the citizens they represent - and not those catering to maintaining a division in our country. Rip apart the political parties, and hold each individual representative responsible for every vote he or she casts.

We don't send representatives to our state and national capitals simply to oppose whatever the other side wants to accomplish. Not anymore.

- At least that's the stand I'm taking, because you woke me up.

Visa, Mastercard & X

"Sometimes the seed of an idea forms in my head, and I simply can't sleep until I plant it." - Grizwald Grim

Debit Card Per-Transaction Fees are Eerily Like a Sales Tax
Oregon doesn't have a sales tax, but if I drive across the river into Washington state, a portion of my purchase there goes to the government. If I use my debit card for that transaction, a portion of my purchase also goes to the big banks.

Cash is Inconvenient
If I buy something with cash, I have to deal with change - not so with a debit card
If I get robbed while carrying cash, it's pretty much gone - not so with a debit card, at least so long as they don't beat my pin out of me. Then, my understanding is that I can report it as stolen and it magically won't work anymore
If I don't carry cash, when a homeless person asks me for change I can say "I don't have any" without lying

Debit Cards Require Infrastructure
That's why mine has a MasterCard logo. Credit cards paved the way and built the infrastructure, and then it was convenient for even small banks to (probably rent) use that infrastructure for debit cards.

Infrastructure is one of the many things the government is supposed to deal with
Is the infrastructure used for data to travel from the store to the bank really all that different from the road that my car uses to travel from the store to my home?

If the government can print money, they can surely print plastic cards. If the transaction fees we already pay are pretty much like a tax, the government can certainly call the fees for it's plastic cards a tax. Once the infrastructure is paid for it's the brand new source of income that the politicians are so desperate to find - but the beauty of it is that it won't really hurt. The merchants can just keeping taking the hit as a cost of doing business like they have been for years, and as the government would benefit from money circulating through the economy it would be in its own best interest to either have comparable or lower rates than Visa and MasterCard. 

Of course, there will be ramifications - particularly for Visa and MasterCard and the big banks.. but hey, it's not our fault they didn't save that bailout money for a rainy day..or did they?


To the Citizens of the United States of America, attn: Occupiers

"Eight words the Wiccan Rede fulfill, An it harm none do what ye will." - Doreen Valiente

Dear America:

It seems to me, from my 30+ years of observation, that despite the Christian majority our general populace has been acting under a bastardized version of the Wiccan Rede above, at least when it comes to politics and government. What you have demonstrated to me, my dear America, is:

"And it not harm me, dear politician, do what ye will."

In my view, as a people we have failed each other. Life might not have been great, but it has been tolerable. The tolerability has allowed us to grow lax in our responsibility to ourselves, our nation, our children, and our future. We have not been vigilant in regard to the actions of those who serve as our voice in government.