Saturday, July 30, 2016

The Secret of (Occasional) Happiness

"Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life." This quote is often attributed to Confucius but a minimum of googling will reveal that it's impossible to accurately credit anyone for it. However, I would argue that the truth of this particular adage is obvious. 

Unfortunately, reality is often a poor substitute for what should be. Life is indeed what happens to us while we make other plans. Rather than choosing a job we love, most of us are destined to choose the best job we can get. 

Then, once we have it, we have to decide if we're going to hang around or try and find a different one, a better one. And then, that the bright and shiny new job we get may ultimately turn out to suck sweaty socks. Oh well, at least it (hopefully) pays better. Hmmm, now what should I do, make the best of it or should I start looking for another job? If I...

[For the love of my higher power! exclaims Dana (I'm beginning to think it's not political correctness after all, that some organizations 12 step program is at work, but of course, it's none of my business), would it be asking too much to ask if this is going somewhere?]

Point taken. OK, let me put it this way. Getting paid to do a job we love is the ideal job. At this level you're actually getting paid to do your work, not a job. Your work is those one or two things that you would keep getting out of bed for if was revealed to you that (without a doubt) you only had a relatively limited amount of time left and that once you died, that was it, there was nothing coming next. I'm not claiming it's possible to be certain of either of the two preceding statements. Hey, it's just a thought experiment. 

You're work, as I define it anyway, could be anything from what you're doing in that secret laboratory hidden under the garage that not even your snifficant other knows about --  trying to create the new millennial Frankensteen -- to an obsession with collecting football cards.

Much research has been done to determine what makes us happy and the official answer is, well, one of 'em anyway, earned success (there's even a TED Talk). While I agree that earned success does make people happy, as well as the well-researched reasons as to why it does, what about all the folks that in spite of their best efforts have had to settle for limited success (at best)?

Worse yet, what about the individuals that led exemplary lives, always gave more than they got, and died, often badly, still worrying about how they were going to get the car repaired?

Someone to love that loves you back (a dog will do) and interesting work is the secret of (occasional) happiness. 

Oh, and before I forget, the word occasional is very important in that the nature of reality, on the planet Earth at least, is that everything contains its opposite and that opposites are two sides of the same coin. That statement requires its own column but it must be mentioned because you have to always keep in mind that while being happy all the time is impossible, so is being unhappy all the time. Just wait it out and try and consider not making any important decisions or doing anything dumb until the dark clouds pass. Trust me on this...  

[Caveat: Freely acknowledging that I'm not a mental/emotional health professional and that some would argue that even the world amateur overstates my qualifications, if you're happy, or miserable, all the time, there may be something wrong. Please consider contacting a professional.]

Someone to love that loves you back (a dog will do) and interesting work is the secret of (occasional) happiness.

I'm writing a column, not a book, so please forgive me for jumping to a worse case scenario and ignoring the gray shades. The answer for living with an extreme case of discontent, or just bad luck, contains the answers needed for dealing with less extreme cases. 

"But I don't love anyone and no one loves me, not even a dog." Bonkercockie. The minute you give up on the notion that love will fill you will light, solve all your problems, and make you, Happy (the Hollywood version of love), the sooner the smoke will clear. You like at least one someone, probably more than one. There's at least one someone, probably more than one, that likes you. When you stop pursuing/waiting for the Hollywood version you'll dramatically increase the chances love will find you. While you're waiting -- like, be kind, and be likable.

"Interesting work? I'm just not that into anything, never have been." Bonkercockie. The  minute you give up the notion that you'll find, and/or follow, your bliss and then you will be filled with light, all of your problems will be solved, and you will be, Happy (Hollywood again...), the sooner the smoke will clear. The owner of a successful vacuum cleaner repair shop (who's not deeply in debt and has no trouble paying his/her bills) who is indifferent to vacuum cleaners, but never tires of making the perfect pint of ice cream in the back room, has interesting work.

Good dog! Where's that goofy cat...  

Have an OK day.


[P.S. Gentlereaders, for 25¢ a week, no, seriously, for 25¢ a week you can become a Patron of this weekly column and help to prevent an old crank from running the streets at night in search of cheap thrills and ill-gotten gains.

If there are some readers out there that think my shtuff is worth a buck or three a month, color me honored, and grateful. Regardless, if you like it, could you please share it? There are buttons at the end of every column.]


©2016 Mark Mehlmauer   (The Flyoverland Crank)

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Saturday, July 23, 2016

The (Electronic) Fourth Estate and Cop Killers

I use the term The Fourth Estate, a term variously defined in the course of history, in the modern sense: a highfalutin term for the press, or the news media, as a whole. Wikipedia has a concise and interesting entry (well, interesting to me at least, your dilettante about town) concerning the meaning and history of the phrase. It even includes a quote by Oscar Wilde, no fan of the press... Sorry, it's not you, it's me.

Moving on. It was late last Sunday afternoon, 7.17.16. Three more cops had been murdered in Baton Rouge for the crime of being cops. One "suspect" was dead and two others were (or were not) in the wind. At that point in time, besides the fact that three other cops were wounded, that's all we knew.

It was pretty much the same thing we were constantly being reinformed of by the 24x7 cable/satellite news channels since the story broke shortly after it happened, early that morning. They were still repeating the same (provisional) facts. Different words, different angles, different people (well, some of them anyway) -- same tentative facts.

Which is fine I guess.

After all, perhaps you had stayed up all night doing things that you'd rather not tell your mom about and having recently regained consciousness had decided to check in with your favorite news channel because you're sorta/kinda into politics. You wanted to see if an aggrieved member of the Multiculti Militia that had congregated in Cleveland, hoping for a chance to club a re-pub, had engaged in any pointless rioting yet. Perhaps a dude/dudette with excessive Islamitude had blown themselves up and was already enjoying the company of their allotted slate of 72 virgins.

[Aside: I know you're asking yourself, do dudettes get 72 male virgins? A quick check revealed that Muslim scholars and clerics don't have much to say about that (what a surprise). It gets better. Some scholars believe that something got lost in translation and that the promised reward is 72 raisins. Seriously. Look it up. Raisins.]

I'm not a regular viewer of any of the cable/sat news channels in that I don't (often can't, yuck) watch them for more than a few minutes at a time. I do check in regularly to see what's going on -- it's part of my job. Or rather, I wish it was. Actually, it's my work. Your work and your job are, more often than not, not the same thing for most people.

"Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life." -Probably not Confucius. The secret of happiness is someone(s) to love that loves you back and interesting work. This column is my interesting work. It would be my job if I could make a comfortable living from it, which I don't, at least not yet. However, I have a vague plan and big dreams, which also are a component of a happy life, but the secret of happiness is the subject of next week's column. Stay tuned. 

Therefore let us carefully back out of this dead end street (damn Google Maps...). As a token of my appreciation for your patience please accept a free gift: The secret of life is that life is just high school with money. More on that the week after next.   

What I find fascinating/appalling about cable/sat news channels is that right after something happens that's important enough to guarantee a large audience, they begin speculating their bums off. But they justify it by constantly reminding us -- that they are speculating their bums off. Broadcast news operations do this as well, but less egregiously.

"I must remind our viewers that while _______ hasn't confirmed the appalling/disgusting/titillating fact I just threw out there, it might be true, but then again it may not be. After all, as I'm sure you know, once we do get the story straight it's often different than what we've been going on and on and on and on about. That said, instead of returning to the real news stories we think might be accurate, and of course no shortage of celebrity news and stories about (often reprehensible) people that are famous for being famous, we'll carry on with our endless speculating, right after we run yet another bunch of profitable commercials.

[At this point a lengthy block of advertising commences. It consists mainly of the current ads for the same products that turn up (between brief amounts of actual content) almost everywhere you go in the cable/sat universe because lengthy blocks of advertising that consist mainly of the current ads for the same products must be run -- repeatedly, and everywhere -- if they are to have any effect in a cable/sat universe saturated by lengthy blocks of advertising that consist mainly of the current ads for the same products.]

Welcome back. This is _______, recently named as the interim director of _______. While acknowledging that what I said just prior to the commercial break may not be true, that is, blahblahblah, if it does turn out to be true, Mr./Ms. _______, what would be some of the possible ramifications?"

[Gentlereaders -- while the quoted material above is obviously a product of my imagination, it nevertheless accurately depicts the coverage I watched that morning.]

Ishkabibble.

[Why isn't there a punctuation mark that indicates shrugged shoulders? In case you're not one of my gazillions of regular readers, and since I can't remember where I used and defined this word recently, permit me to explain. It's not one that I created nor is it one that someone else recently created but is ill-defined enough for me to um, appropriate. It's a word from the early 20th century that means, according to the Urban Dictionary, no worries _, or, who cares?. Now do you see why we need a punctuation mark that indicates a shrug? Fear not, gentlereaders, I'm on it! See, I told you it's not you.]

Ishkabibble_ (Insert yet to be created punctuation mark here.) Since this was the second recent cold-blooded assassination of cops for being cops, since there was a bit less carnage than in Dallas, since one of the slain officers was black, since the Electronic Fourth Estate must reflect a culture with an ever-declining attention span to keep profits up -- Ishkabibble_

After all, the newest episode of the Donald's reality show was about to start.

Have an OK Day.

©Mark Mehlmauer 2016

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Saturday, July 16, 2016

Islamitude

Walter Williams on multiculturalism: "Leftist diversity advocates and multiculturalists are right to argue that people of all races, religions and cultures should be equal in the eyes of the law.

But their argument borders on idiocy when they argue that one set of cultural values cannot be judged superior to another and that to do so is Eurocentrism." The italicization (say that word six times fast) is mine.

Traveling East to West...

[Wait just a minute, Sparky, sez Dana, my imaginary gentlereader, islamitude? What the hell is islamitude? Marie-Louise is having her nails done, at my expense, as I'm a fool for a good back scratch, particularly if administered by a woman of the female persuasion.]

Well, to be honest, I'm still trying to nail down my official definition as it's a word that never occurred to me until I wrote this column, and Marie-Louise (my muse) never offers up explanation, only (if I'm lucky) inspiration. Googling revealed that I'm not the first to use the word but a specific definition proved to be elusive.

All that I can tell you at this point is that to me it's a word that captures not just a certain attitude but a way of doing things and the reactions of some non-Muslims to same. Vague, I know, but I'm trying to walk a fine line as I don't wish to promote Islamophobia but I also don't want to hide my head underneath my My Pillow and hope it all goes away.

I can point at the meaning with the following example. My late wife once went into a neighborhood convenience store where we were well known regular customers on good terms with the people that ran it. I waited in the car, which was parked near the store entrance, window rolled down. The door to the store was propped open. I was fiddling with the radio and looked up when I heard two people arguing, my late wife had a certain look on her face that indicated she might be about to go over the counter and murder the clerk, a gentleman of Middle Eastern origin. I admit I've no idea if he was a Muslim.

Knowing the significance of the look on her face, I darted into the store and all but dragged her out to our car. I asked what happened. It seems that upon noticing that a particular beverage, some sort of soda pop, had been mistakenly labeled at a price that was obviously less than wholesale, she thought the civilized thing to do was point this out as they were losing money on every bottle they sold (we had reason to be familiar with wholesale soda pop prices at the time).

He reacted by turning purple and asking how dare she, a mere woman, think she had the right to address him about such things and starting ranting at her in his native language.

[Sheesh, sorry I asked.]

And now, back to our show.

Syrian refugees are understandably fleeing a country that seems to be literally disintegrating. I know I would. With the exception of the United Arab Emirates, they ain't going to the rich Persian Gulf states. Their fellow, Arabic-speaking Muslims, would rather throw money at the refugee camps in other countries because of "security concerns." Yeah, no kidding.

On the other hand, it's widely reported that many refugees don't particularly want to go to these particular countries anyway. It seems that even many Muslims don't care for authoritarian monarchies that subscribe to Sharia law. I know I don't.

Case in point, Saudi Arabia. Not a whole lot of there, there unless visiting Mecca is  on your bucket list, except for oil, which is why they're rich. Well, the native born Saudis are doing well anyway. For nearly a third of the population, most imported to do the drudge work that's considered beneath the dignity of the locals, and who can't go home without the permission of their masters, life ain't quite so grand.

[But, the Saudis are not as rich as they used to be. Fracking has undermined the power of the members of OPEC to ignore the free market and set prices at what its members think they should charge just because they can (i.e. to enthusiastically practice extortion).]

According to Wikipedia: "In addition to the regular police force, Saudi Arabia has a secret police, the Mabahith, and 'religious police', the Muttawa. The latter enforces Islamic social and moral norms."

"Criminal law punishments in Saudi Arabia include public beheading, hanging, stoning, amputation, and lashing. Serious criminal offenses include...apostasy, adultery, witchcraft and sorcery."

Recent headline in the Wall Street Journal: "Saudi Arabian Women Love Bumper Cars (But Not For Bumping)."

From the article: "At the weekly ladies-only night at the Al Shallal Theme Park in the coastal city of Jeddah, women discard head scarves and head-to -toe black gowns to reveal the latest trends -- ripped jeans, tank tops, and tossed-to-the-side '80s-style hair. For many of them, the biggest draw of the amusement park isn't the few hours of fashion freedom. Instead, they go there to get behind the wheel -- even a bumper-car wheel -- in a country that bans female drivers."

The article goes on to describe long lines of women waiting for a chance to "drive." There's very little bumping involved, except accidentally, they just want to drive. The article includes a picture of a woman covered from head to toe in black, left arm outstretched, dutifully signaling her intention to make a left turn.

Meanwhile, the world is confronted with the horror of the bodies of refugees who tried to make it to Europe floating in the Mediterranean. Europe's response to the crisis has varied widely from country to country.

Germany's response was a booming, Rod Roddy like Come on Down! But then a wave of sexual assaults by roving bands of refugees last New Year's eve across the country highlighted the fact there are more than a few Germans opposed to their countries policy, including immigrants that arrived before the current crisis.

At the other end of the scale are countries like Norway and Denmark who have placed ads in Middle-Eastern media telling refugees they're not welcome, even if they call first.

France and Belgium have become infamous for no-go ghettos where Sharia law is practiced to one degree or another. They're populated by people who have fled myriad traditionally Muslim countries.

You may have heard about some of the recent negative consequences.

President Obama has pledged that the US will admit 10,000 Syrian refugees during the course of The Gubmint's current fiscal year, which ends in October. Not long ago I was delighted/conflicted when I read someplace that only a couple of thousand had been vetted and approved via a very slow process.

Delighted because regardless of whether the process was moving along slowly because we were erring on the side of caution, or more likely because The Gubmint is not renowned for nimbleness and efficiency, the result was the same. Potential terrorists, hiding among the innocent victims of what passes for normal in the Middle East, would have a tougher time getting into America and potentially killing my grandchildren in Allah's name.

Conflicted because someone else's grandchildren might be killed trying to escape being murdered in Allah's name.

But then, the other day, several different media sources reported that the effort was back on track and that the goal of 10,000 will be reached, and on schedule. Swell.

Perhaps The Gubmint will now step up efforts to aid some proven friends that placed their lives on the line for us in Iraq. Remember Iraq? We won a war there. Personally, I wouldn't have gone there in the first place. But we did, and we won, and we wound up with a highly fortified, relatively secure outpost -- smack dab in the middle of the bad guys neighborhood.

Then along came Mr. Obama and his Secretary of State, the Hilliam. It fell to them to negotiate a status of forces agreement to leave enough American troops in place to bolster the effort to turn Iraq into a reasonably modern, reasonably stable democracy -- smack dab in the middle of the bad guys neighborhood.

They cut and ran...

...And left behind a bunch of Iraqis that worked for us as translators in the course of our "overseas contingency operation" -- that are on the Kill ASAP list of more than one zany group of grumpy Muslims -- that can't get visas from Uncle Sam to (literally) save their lives.

Sheesh.

Have an OK day.

©Mark Mehlmauer 2016

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Saturday, July 9, 2016

How I Blew My Mind

I have an acquaintance, a very nice woman with a decent job in a field that requires a certain minimum of documented education, as well as the accumulation of continuing education credits in order to keep her occupational license. Her job is very stressful/very important and she firmly believes the Earth is flat.

She believes that this information is withheld from us by the same folks that stand behind the curtain manipulating us all for their own nefarious purposes. I tend to disagree. However, I think no less of her for what she believes.

There's no religion, that I'm aware of, organized or otherwise, that has a lock on the truth. Then again, I question the certitude of my atheist acquaintances, but I don't peer down my nose at either group. I do confess to a certain ironic satisfaction in noting how dogmatic atheists can be as well as the willingness of my religious friends to ignore or rationalize a given tenet of their particular creed.

Me? I'm agnostic because I firmly believe an open mind is the only way to roll. If God, or more likely, one of its messengers (I've got to assume I'm not on its to-do list) should suddenly appear to me as I sit here cranking out my feeble scribbles, I'd want to make the most of such an honor. Rather than freak out and assume I'd lost my mind, I would hope to remain clearheaded enough to start asking questions. I'd try to evaluate the answers with an open mind, even if they contradicted my basic beliefs. I mean, what if the Earth is flat wouldn't you want to know?

"Wow, she's right? It is flat? Listen, if you can spare a few minutes, could I trouble you for the who/what/when/where/why of that fascinating bit of news?  Also, I've always wondered..."

[It? You refer to God as it ?!? asks Dana. Marie-Louise is making the sign of the cross over and over again and praying softly in French.]

I'm just trying to make a point, because God, by definition, is undefinable. To call whomever/whatever it is he, she, or even for that matter, it, serves to prove that words are only convenient symbols for reality, not reality itself. Pick your pronoun, it ain't God, it's a language convention. It's like saying, it's raining. Just who or what is it that's raining?

When I look up on a clear night I'm often reminded of lying on my back in my yard as a child and trying to wrap my brain around the concept of infinity. I don't remember which of my grade school teachers first presented the concept, or even in what context, but it "blew my mind" and it remains blown to this day.

[Which explains a lot! exclaims Dana, unsympathetically. Marie-Louise is giggling but scratching my back, sympathetically.]

Blushing slightly, I continue.

Unless you reject the current (more or less consistent) scientific consensus, the one that has helped to give us the modern world (including the computer I'm composing this on) as does the friend of mine mentioned above (which is fine, as long as she doesn't form a cult and declare jihad on me) -- consider the following.

For all intents and purposes, from our perspective, the universe goes on forever. Even if we could somehow travel at the speed of light we could never reach the end of it because it's unimaginably large, expanding, and picking up speed as it does so. Also, bleeding edge science suggests there may be an infinity of universes. And in case you missed the news, the known universe consists mostly of dark matter and dark energy, and we don't know what they are.

Let's reverse perspectives and contemplate the fact that if we could perceive reality at the atomic and subatomic level, all we would find are infinitesimally small bits of matter with vast amounts of space between them.

If there's an unimaginable being of some sort that created all this out of nothing, pronouns such as he, she, or it seem not only inadequate but almost offensive, even disrespectful. But if your belief system provides a way for you to deal with this, good on ya. If you promise not to declare jihad on me, I'll return the favor.

If you're a hard-nosed atheist that believes believers are bonkers and agnostics are psychotics, I sorta/kinda envy your certitude. I'll refrain from pointing out that the believers that you mock are often as certain as you are, which would seem to indicate you have a lot in common, because that would be rude.

If you're a hard-nosed _______ that tends to peer down your nose at any and all notions offered up by any of the other kids on the playground that aren't or can't be proven by the application of the scientific method (with the possible exception of the unscientific ones that I have no doubt you embrace), be careful.

Everyone knows that something can't be in two places at once, except that it can. Quantum mechanics (the branch of science that makes your cell phone possible) has posited this for decades. In 2012 the Nobel prize for physics was awarded to Serge Haroche and David J. Winland for finding a way to prove that atoms and electrons can indeed be in two places at once.

Personally, I know for a fact that Beethoven and Duke Ellington, neither a saint, found a way to reproduce the voice of God in a dumb-downed way, so that even we mere humans could hear it.

"I think it's much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers which might be wrong. I have approximate answers and possible beliefs and different degrees of uncertainty about different things, but I am not absolutely sure of anything and there are many things I don't know anything about, such as whether it means anything to ask why we're here. I don't have to know an answer. I don't feel frightened not knowing things, by being lost in a mysterious universe without any purpose, which is the way it really is a far as I can tell." -Richard Feynman (Nobel prize in Physics, 1965)

"Look up from your life!" -James Taylor

Have an OK day

.©Mark Mehlmauer 2016

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Saturday, July 2, 2016

The Great Enrichment

Last week, the subject of my column was the book, "The Righteous Mind" by Jonathan Haidt. Actually, I guess that Bill Moyer's interview of Jonathan Haidt was my primary focus, but let us not quibble gentlereaders.

I also named and defined a modern malady I call Dizzinformation Anxiety Syndrome. This is the fear that you might miss/have missed/are missing important information. The fact that The Righteous Mind, and the interview, have been loose in the world for a few years without me knowing about them triggered an episode of DAS in yours truly due to the fact the subject of the book is one of my obsessions. That is, the devolution of many of the people who have to share this country, into hardened, uncompromising, semi-religious factions that demonize each other's viewpoints and lifestyles. I wonder if this phenomenon reminds anyone besides me of Sunni v. Shia Muslims?

It occurs to me that I'm aware of some information that doesn't seem to be getting the attention it deserves, in my semi-humble opinion. As a public service, I've decided to dedicate a column to it for I think that it should be getting much more attention that it is  -- you're welcome.

First, a caveat. I may be wrong, about this or anything really, a phenomenon that occurs with disturbing regularity. I mention this not because of modesty, false or otherwise; I'm semi-humble, not humble. But I believe that an attitude of healthy skepticism is more important than ever since we must be ever vigilant if we wish to avoid being dizzinformationated by the daily deluge of data delivered during this, the Dizzinformation age.

See Twain, Mark: "Lies, damn lies, and statistics."

[Were I truly humble I'd be a Zen monk and keep my thoughts/opinions/observations and the like to myself instead of putting them out there in front of a potential audience of some 7,404,976,783 people. Though my current readership is slightly smaller than that, I'm cautiously optimistic.]

So, there's this woman, her name is Deirdre McCloskey, who describes herself on her website as, "...a literary, quantitative, postmodern, free-market, progressive Episcopalian, Midwestern woman from Boston who was once a man. Not 'conservative'! I'm a Christian libertarian. "

[For the record, I'm a semi-literary, quantitative, postmodern, free-market, agnostic, Midwestern man from Pittsburgh who remains a man. Not conservative! I'm a bleeding heart libertarian. As you see, there's some overlap. Unfortunately (for me), I'm a dilettante, she's a genius.] 

As far as academia is concerned she's Dr. Deirdre McCloskey, the Distinguished Professor of Economics, History, English and Communications at the University of Illinois at Chicago. None of the words in the preceding sentence are adjectives, they are bestowed upon her by her university. That's her official title, and it also serves as an accurate job description.

Incidentally, Deirdre used to be Daniel. She made the trans-formation back in 1995. Daniel/Diedre was a transexual long before being transexual was cool and/or politically correct. If the details are of interest to you, she wrote a book about it called, "Crossing, a Memoir."

Ms. McCloskey has spent the last ten years of her life writing a series of three books, her masterwork, the culmination of a lifetime of study that will make her (if there's any justice in the world) immortal in her field. She has a lot of fields (see above), but calls herself an economic historian.

There's unlikely to be a movie based on any of the three books in question. And in fact, I don't recommend them for the average Joe or Joan Bagadonuts. They are semi-scholarly tomes, written primarily for other scholars and nerdsihly inclined dilettantes (not unlike myself) that posit/explain/defend her take on economic history. I'm definitely not a scholar. However, there's much here for a dilettante (like myself) with an interest in not only economic history but history in general. She has a depth of knowledge that enables her to effortlessly synthesize economic history and myriad other subjects and construct a big picture view of how the real world actually works. She's a dilettante's delight, and has a great sense of humor. The books are:

The Bourgeois Virtues, Bourgeois Dignity and Bourgeois Equality.

She began her academic career studying economics because she wanted to know what economic/political system was the best for poor people. She became a Marxist but gradually morphed into a wild-eyed free marketeer, just like me! Other than the fact that I've never actually identified myself as a Marxist, haven't had a distinguished career, haven't published numerous books and articles and traveled all over the world teaching/speechifying/attending conferences with other brainiacs -- we have a lot in common.

Now, while accurately distilling the essence of three fat volumes into one column is a disservice to the author, the message is so important I'm going to attempt it anyway. If you wish to find out if I know what I'm talking about you can read the books, or, surf the plethora of articles and video content available on the web.

The Great Enrichment began around 1800. Suddenly, after thousands of  years of 99.9% of the world subsisting on the modern equivalent of about three bucks a day, the global economy went nuts. From 1800 till now the real income of the citizens of the planet Earth increased by anywhere from 2,500 to 5,000%. In the US, for example, we've gone from $3/day to $135/day.

Professor McCloskey's three books explain the who/what/when/where/why of this phenomenon. Continuing my vast over-simplification: It happened because beginning in Holland, around 1600, the values of a liberated bourgeoisie (the middle class, but thanks to Marx and company a word that's now often as not used with contempt) were applied to markets.

In the words of the professor, "The answer, in a word, is 'liberty.' Liberated people, it turns out, are ingenious. Slaves, serfs, subordinated women, people frozen in a hierarchy of lords or bureaucrats are not. By certain accidents of European politics, having nothing to do with deep European virtue, more and more Europeans [and eventually Americans] were liberated. You might call it life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

"To use another big concept, what came -- slowly, imperfectly -- was equality. It was not an equality of outcome..." it was "...equality before the law and equality of social dignity."

"And that is the other surprising notion explaining our riches: 'liberalism,' in its original meaning of, 'worthy of a free person.' Liberalism was a new idea."

For the record: slavery, imperialism, and/or the exploitation of any group by any other group didn't make us rich. Ms. McCloskey systematically and empirically destroys such arguments. DAT that I am, permit me to persist in oversimplification and ask -- as does Dr. McCloskey does, if the infidelic behavior mentioned above made a given culture rich, why, since that was the way of the world for millennia, why was our take home pay stagnant for several thousand years and then jump by 5,000% over the last two hundred?

I must stop now since I've exceeded my word budget. So, I'm going to violate company policy again this week and leave you with two links and let the co-founder of humanomics speak for herself. The first is a 10 minute, well-done quickie that covers all the basics.

The essentials

The second is a lecture given in India. It goes into more detail but is entertaining, easy to understand, and is about 40 minutes long.

A little more detail

Have an OK day.

©Mark Mehlmauer 2016

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Mobile gentlereaders, if I've pleased you, there's additional content to be found via laptop and desktop.