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One thing you can always do, starting right now...

Every so often, we get the "But what can we do?" comment. In terms of electoral politics, that's just not clear, at least to me*, though I'd argue there's tremendous ferment that's not part of the official narrative (why I liked this post so much). So and but I picked up a Scientific American at the mini-mall (where I picked up some flour and yeast, along with window insulating kits) so as to have something to read coming home on the bus, and read this from Jane Goodall:

Young people everywhere need to realize that what we do individually every day does make a difference. If everybody begins thinking of the consequences of the little choices they make -- what they eat, what they wear, what they buy, how they get from A to B -- and acting accordingly, these millions of small changes will create the kinds of larger changes we must have if we care at all for our children.

Many small drops make a tide. So there is something you can do -- and, more importantly, tell your friends and neighbors that you are doing. Deny the rent-seekers their rent.

Our country is run by a rent-seeking financial class. They're parasites, they don't actually produce anything, but they do know, very well, how to manipulate the political system to get between you and what you need, and how to take a cut from the transaction you need to make to get what you need.** Rather like parasites who change the behavior of their hosts:

Rats walking into a cat's jaws. Land-loving crickets taking deadly dives into ponds. Ants hanging on blades of grass to be eaten by cows. What's gotten into these animals? Their brains are under the influence of deadly parasites.

Parasites make their home in or on other animals and feed off them. But some of these invaders have another power: they take control of their host's brain. Then their victim may become helpless to resist their commands.

How do these masters of mind control reprogram their hosts? Scientists are still investigating--and marveling at--some parasites' power to brainwash. "Some parasites probably know more about the brain than all of us neuroscientists combined," says Robert Sapolsky, a neuroscientist ... at Stanford University in California.

Sniff! A rat smells a cat. Then it skitters off to find it! This suicidal behavior occurs because the rat has been infected by a mind-controlling parasite. It's called Toxoplasma gondii ...

Rodents pick up this parasite when they nibble on soil containing the parasite's cysts. The cysts develop in the rat. Then, to continue its life cycle, T. gondii must enter a cat's gut to mate.

To do this, T. gondii tinkers with its host's brain. It erases rats' in-born fear of cats. It even changes fear to attraction. The rewired rats serve themselves up for supper. Then the next generation of T. gondii exits in the cat's droppings.

Well, although the rent-seekers are parasites, on the moral and intellectual level of T. gondii, we don't have to be like rats and the cats. We can deny the rent-seekers their sustenance -- the rents [#56; #75***]:

1. Don't give the Big Money your rent [#86]. That's what Move Your Money is all about -- or should be. Move your money to a local credit union. Net positive to you: You might also be safer in the event of crash, and safer from accounting control fraud.

2. Don't give Big Food your rent [#90]. Every time you eat a "food-like substance," instead of food that's good, clean, and fair, you're paying rent. Rent to the intellectual property owners of the weird chemicals on the label, rent to the food chain, rent to the marketers. Stop it! Net positive to you: Better food makes you happier, cleans your body, and clears your mind.

3. Don't give Big Media your rent [#90]. Big Media wants to destroy the Internet so they can sell porn -- Oh, I'm sorry, "interactive video." So why support them in that endeavor by giving them one thin dime? If you can, cut off your cable. Turn off the teebee -- it's toxic in every aspect anyhow. If you need a fix, at least wait 'til whatever goes to video, and then go to the library and get it. "But what about Dexter?" Fuck Dexter. Net benefit to you: You get to create your own media, or exercise your imagination through reading or, better, through writing.

4. Don't give Big Oil your rent [#90]. Of course, that's hard to do -- especially for people in a state where 90% of home heating is done with oil! But you can minimize your exposure today, and when the price spikes, as it will, whether through market manipulation, or as the runup to our next bout of military Keynsianism, you'll be sitting pretty. If you must drive, consider Ride Sharing, or work out a pooling solution. Who said every household had to have one car? Net benefit to you: You save money.

And much else.**** These are all small actions you can take today. They are not collective actions. But they are cumulative. There will be no stories about them in our famously free press -- or if there are, they will show up in the "life style" section. But your life will be better, and you will be happier. Who can be happy when their body, mind, heart, and soul are all infested by rent-seeking parasites? [#73]

Oh, and from a policy perspective, it occurs to me that, in the same way that we have "energy audits," we need rent audits.

NOTE * It's clear to the Greens, I grant. Where do I find out "the", or "a" Green position on the events of the day? What site? What feed? What blogger?

NOTE ** Ian Welsh gives a fine example of rent-seeking from the 19th Century, so much like our own:

The railroads were the only way to get your products to market if you weren’t on the coast, a major river or canal. They were hated, loathed with a passion, by farmers. Why? Because they took all the surplus value, all the profit. If you weren’t willing to pay, you went out of business. Even if you were willing to pay, you wound up in hock to them. You worked for the railroad, period. All or virtually all of what would have been profit went to them.

When the only way to get your product to market is an unregulated monopoly or oligopoly they will take it all. The result isn’t just unprofitable businesses, it’s failed businesses and businesses that never get off the ground, because they can’t afford to pay the freight, or more accurately, the vig. Oligopolies in between producers and consumers always strangle the economy. Always.

"The vig" is an economic rent.

NOTE *** I know this is not what Sharp means by rent, but I am generalizing.

NOTE **** Above all, or under it all, learn to grow your own food, or develop skills to share with those who can. That's a baseline for survival through collapse and the coming chokepoint.

UPDATE If you're poor and/or unemployed, you're probably doing all this. "Carry this message to others in all our affairs."

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JLA's picture
Submitted by JLA on

for all of this, but in particular, for including that last "Update," regarding "If you're poor and/or unemployed." Certainly there are better options than others, but the kind of options one has when without an income, a small income, an inconsistent income ... those are very different options.

Submitted by lambert on

... but I'm a good deal happier now, when I'm poor, then when I was in the corporate cube. Now, it's all marginal, and if I get sick, I'm going to be really, really unhappy, but for now... Much better. Our consumer culture, and the rents we pay for the things we consume -- especially information, like the teebee -- is not designed to make us happy. It is designed to do what it does: Make us keep paying the rentiers rent.

This is all Maslow's hierarchy stuff. It's like the rent seekers have infested the base of the pyramid -- food, shelter -- and our higher, self-actualizing functions have been eaten and turned against us. Repair the base, get your self-hood back. (Of course, that's not necessarily a happy thing, but at least there's the possibility -- Freud's goal for psychoanalysis of being unhappy in the ordinary way, as opposed to being hysterically miserable.)

I'm not for a minute suggesting that justice is being done for the DISemployed, or doing a "Who moved my cheese?" type thing... I guess I'm saying this is the way to get strong!

Submitted by Aaron Em on

...try not to think about how, not only are humans susceptible to infection by T. gondii (also known as toxoplasmosis), but there's some evidence suggesting the possibility that T. gondii infection may actually influence the brain function of infected humans, in much the same way it does in infected rats.

Calling it "mind control" is of course sensationalistic nonsense in either case, not least because I doubt very much that rats possess anything which could remotely be called a 'mind'; that said, there's no reason in theory why T. gondii shouldn't be able to mess with our brain chemistry the same way it does in rats, and at least a few studies which suggest that, once the parasite has infected a human host, that's precisely what it does.

Sleep tight!

gizzardboy's picture
Submitted by gizzardboy on

" there's some evidence suggesting the possibility that T. gondii infection may actually influence the brain function of infected humans, in much the same way it does in infected rats."

I always wondered why some people liked cats so much.