Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Work Is A Sucka Bet

I recently copped a new car.

Some of y'all may remember me talking about my anxiety regarding the purchase and the whole negotiation process. Fortunately, I did my research, sucked things up and played hardball with a few car salesmen. I got a decent deal on a nice vehicle, and when I pay off the balance in a few years I'll probably make some aftermarket modifications to it.

Then, I'll probably buy a gun.

Whoa, a gun, Big Man? I can seem some of y'all taking a step back and wondering where that came from. The thing is, I live in one of the most violent cities in America. The only reason this isn't THE most violent city in America is because Gary, Indiana, has bigger problems than being the birthplace of Michael Jackson. And if I'm going to riding on chrome with candy paint, I'd better be strapped.

I told y'all I would talk about Gandhi's seven social sins and today I want touch on the idea of acquiring wealth without work.

The recent housing meltdown and the implosion of several banks have made all of us painfully aware of the power and danger of greed. If we weren't sure before just how badly capitalism could screw things up, well we know now.

The thing is, in my city, I learned a long time ago just how insidious the lure of wealth could be to those who have no desire to work.

My hometown is the kind of place where carjackings are more common than car pooling. If we have a day without a homicide, well they might throw a parade to rival Zulu. It's so bad down here that a friend and I recently agreed that if we hadn't been born in this city, there is no way in hell we would EVER move here. Ever.

At the root of this city's ubiquitous violence are two things: capitalism and ignorance.

See, it's bad enough to be poor with no viable options to improve that situation. It's quite another thing to be poor with no options and live in a country where your very self-worth is defined by the amount of things you can acquire. Think about it. Our society glorifies the accumulation of wealth, it's like our national religion, and yet for massive segments of the population there are very few legal routes for them to achieve that wealth. For a lot of the cats educated in the New Orleans public school system, they are just as likely to win the lottery as they are to be prepared for college or a well paying job upon graduation.

So, when you want wealth and you don't have the means to acquire it within the system, what do you do? Well, if you're Kenneth Lay, you create a phony energy company, cook the books unmercifully and steal billions.

If you're Ray Ray from Hollygrove, you try to cook up some crack or become the neighborhood stick-up boy. You might clear a couple thousand if you're lucky.

It's not that operating a phony corporation or hugging the block are easy, it's just that they are typically easier than taking the long route to wealth. See, corporate executives and d-boys often share a certain impatience, an unwillingness to sacrifice in the short-term to achieve long-term riches. Both groups are looking for shortcuts, and whenever you seek a shortcut, it's quite easy to get lost in the forest.

Gandhi's first social sin speaks to me because I see its side effects on the neighborhoods I once visited, and the people I used to call "friend." I see how the poor decisions of a mis-spent youth can have unexpected consequences in adulthood. I also see how a willingness to sacrifice and struggle in the short-term can lead to stability and satisfaction in the future.

As long as mankind walks this planet, we will be in the business of acquiring wealth. We will always seek to have more than our neighbors and some of us will even covet the little our neighbors manage to possess. David coveted Uriah's wife, even though he had scores of concubines of his own. Some people will never be satisfied and they will never be willing to do an honest day's work to sate their desires.

It's killing my city one outrageous homicide and armed robbery at a time.



Darth Whitey said...

True 'dat. It sure doesn't help either to have movies like "Wall Street" to encourage these greedy capitalist pricks, and the rap music to encourage the downtrodden.

On the greater question of wealth without work though, to me a prime example of that is playing games of chance, ie gambling. Doesn't matter if it's dice, poker, sports betting, or the stock market. It's all the same. Yes there are ways to increase your odds of winning, ways that take work and skill, but in the end there is a big element of chance. You can play a good poker hand going by the odds and your instinct, but your opponent can get lucky on the last card and bust you in spite of having been reckless. You can come up with all sorts of sophisticated models for your investments, but they can easily just go crazy and make your money disappear.

I look forward to the rest of the posts in this series!

Clifton said...

It's killing the city and its hard to talk to the brothers about it. They find it hard to listen to if your alternative to what they are doing now doesn't end up in the same few thousand dollars they are risking their life for.

Big Man said...


You ain't lying. The fact is, considering all the obstacles in their path, you have to be a hell of a salesman to convince these young cats to take the honest route. Dirty money may be dangerous, but at least they have a lot of examples of cats who had some moderate, short-term success. And, considering their present circumstances, moderate, short-term success probably sounds like heaven.

Thordaddy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Thordaddy said...

lil' man says,

If we weren't sure before just how badly capitalism could screw things up, well we know now.This is silly and nonsensical. How does "capitalism" screw things up?

Don't you mean that those who take liberty in gaining credibility, i.e., capital, by nefarious and illegitimate means are screwing up capitalism?

Don't you mean that those who apply liberal ideology to capitalism (diversify your portfolio, make unpredecented and risking loans, print and print more paper money) are screwing everything up?

If lil' man thinks that capitalism is so bad then why is he up on this blog seeking to gain credibility, i.e., CAPITAL?

Clifton said...

They don't really want moderate short term success even though that's the path to a long life. These cats want big money success without the hard work. I try to tell them how good things are going at 34 years old but when they hear about everything I had to do the last 15 years to get to this point they laugh at me.

Imhotep said...

Big Man, If your city is as bad as you say, seems to me you would have purchased that gun BEFORE you got the car. Would not want to get jacked with a pocket full of money on the way to the dealership.

I agree with you about capitalism, it has some major shortcomings. Remember back in the 80's when the soviet union dismantled and everyone said that communism was a failed policy. Well, now that that we have a worldwide recession, and our domestic economy is f**ked, and our financial institutions needs government intervention, it's clear that capitalism has been exposed.

Deacon Blue said...

Capitalism, much like socialism, isn't evil in itself, of course. The problem is when governments, business or others with the power lose sight of societal obligations and the needs of people overall.

I'd say capitalism has been twisted too much into "greed-ism" in recent years. Much like communism got turned on its head and mutated into "we love bureaucracies and bribery and making people stand in line for bread while denying them basic freedoms."

As for your home town, Big Man...well, my opinion of the place is that it's very nice to visit but yeah, as a person not born there, I could NEVER see living there.

Thordaddy said...

Deacon Blue,

Don't conflate a voluntary system like capitalism with an involuntary system like socialism.

No one need participate in gaining credibility, i.e. intangible capital. On the other hand, socialism FAILS unless it is all-inclusive and hence, ultimately involuntary.

Deacon Blue said...

Getting some use out of your "Word of the Day" calendar from mom, Thordaddy?

I didn't conflate them. Conflate is to "fuse" or "merge" into one. I juxtaposed them so that I could make a single point of comparison between them.

Don't worry, I'm sure you'll do OK on your SATs all the same.

Big Man said...


I like the change to calling me Lil' Man.

It's cute.

Glad you're thinking of me.

Josh said...

Deacon Blue said,

Capitalism, much like (my emphasis) socialism, isn't evil in itself...Conflate... to bring together... to combine...

I think conflate was the right word.

Deacon Blue said...

Not to nit-pick, but making a single point of comparison between things (in this case, evil or not) hardly qualifies as merging something into a single thing.

Josh said...

Deacon Blue,

You attempted to gloss over the evilness of an involuntary system, i.e., socialism, by conflating it with a voluntary "system," i.e., capitalism.

There is no side by side comparison between an involuntary system and a voluntary "system."

PS When are you going to be ready for an argument against homosexual "marriage" that doesn't invoke the Bible, my little charlatan friend?

lil' man,

When a dude tells falsehoods like BO is a Christian or capitalism caused this financial mess then he is little until he retracts these falsehoods. Fair enough?

Deacon Blue said...


I'm not going to waste my time debating anyone whose defintions are so simplistic as to say socialism = evil (and, I presume, capitalism = good). Your views are so black and white, so lacking in any understanding of the subtleties and variations in both systems, that it would be running my head into a brick wall. You have ironclad opinions, no ability to respect other points of view, and will bend both definitions and reality to suit your arguments. You've already twisted my words to suggest that I've glossed over the evils of socialism when I never even really got into the topic of socialism except to point out that ANY system is evil when the government doesn't take the needs and interests of its people to heart.

Ditto on the gay marriage argument. You're not welcome at my blog anymore and I won't clutter Big Man's space with an O/T discussion. And, again, I'm sure you will ignore nuances and reality and try to convince me that gay marriage always equals evil and straight marriage always equals good.

Josh said...

Deacon Blue,

You know how silly it is for a professed "deacon" to imply that sometimes life ISN'T "black and white?" Some people reference the "black and white" phenomenon as the simple embrace of truth.What is it with the liberal "Christian" that thinks a life of gray is superior to a life of truth? Your world is unknowable except for the fact that you know your god and he makes you a gray and rather unknowable world.

Socialism is a construct that says a few will work hard for the many. Of course, such a premise necessitates a "fewer" to command it all. The first understanding in this socialist endeavor is that "socialism" must be ALL-INCLUSIVE. Meaning, "socialism," to truly work, must have full compliance. The driving mechanism for full-compliance is the first principle of nondiscrimination. This principle in turn leads to a mass public that sees nothing but gray life just as you. As can be predicted, YOU go to work for the masses at the direction of the very few. And make no mistake, your burden and responsibility is only growing in the liberal paradigm.

Now, capitalism is an entirely different animal and actually requires nothing from society and lets the individual decide to what degree he participates. Capitalism, fundamentally, is the pursuit and attainment of credibility, i.e., intangible capital. Such an organic outgrowth of human interaction is in no way in the same realm as a socially constructed scheme arrogantly in pursuit of full-compliance.

Perhaps with this new and illiberal understanding, you will see the world less gray and more truthfully?

P.S. You specifically asked for a non-Biblical based argument against same-sex marriage. You even went on the say that the "traditionalism argument is quite weak."

And now, after writing one of the patently false and irrational defenses of homosexual "marriage," you back down like the phony "Christian" you are.

If what we know isn't a good argument for keeping "things" the way we've always known them, then how does what we've never known suddenly become right and truthful?

Meaning, if we've never known or understood that homosexuals got "married," then how can YOU claim homosexual "marriage" to be right and true?

You're not going to like your only answer...?

Big Man said...

The point of the post was about "wealth without work."

If you do not understand my reference to capitalism and how it relates to that topic, that's unfortunate.

I have never said capitalism is all good, or all bad. Nor did I say it was solely responsible for the financial meltdown. But, the capitalist system was partially to blame. I pretend that it wasn't is to ignore reality.

But, you're quite good at that.

You never did get back to me to justify that ranking system you had for sin. I mean, I gave you a rebuttal on the ten commandments crap you spewed, but I never heard back from you.

Ah well.

Thordaddy said...

lil' man said,

If we weren't sure before just how badly capitalism could screw things up, well we know now.This statement means you're either extremely ignorant of "capitalism" or you're a wilfull sychophant for the socialists that seek to undermine the "credibility" inherent in capitalism.

In reality, the current financial crisis has all the markings of rabid liberalism running rampant throughout the entire economy especially the financial sector.

So if you want to talk about wealth without work then you are actually speaking about liberal socialism.

Thordaddy said...

lil' man,

Pride is one of the seven deadly sins...

If you aren't going to retract your stated falsehoods, is it only because you don't think a white man can tell YOU the truth?

Can a Christian profess the "fundamental right" to kill one's child in utero as the president does?

Did "capitalism," i.e., the fundamental pursuit of credibility, cause the financial mess?

Come on lil' man...

Raving Black Lunatic