P.O. Box 230351
Encinitas, CA 92023
December 7, 1996
President Bill Clinton
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave,
Washington, DC 20500
Vice President Al Gore
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave,
Washington, DC 20500
Christmas and Chanukah Greetings!
AN ANNUAL EXERCISE IN FREE SPEECH
I voted for Clinton, I figure anyone who has been castigated, calumniated, demeaned, demonized, disparaged, excoriated, execrated, lambasted, vilified, had aspersions cast on his character for four years and who still appears to be relaxed and smiling and caring can't be all bad. No bunker mentality, no furrowed brow, no sweaty upper lip—in short, he's no Nixon. Imagine the Republican frustration when all their stones, barbs, slings and arrows didn't do him in. Like a grizzly he was shot and shot again and still kept on coming. Now that's what I call real character!
Jesus said of the, woman taken in adultery, “Let he who is guiltless cast the first stone,” and yet all the religious Republicans were stoning their hearts out, and Clinton refused to die. The relentless onslaught of Republican attacks was mean-spirited, vituperative and very unChristlike as they tried to nail Clinton to the cross.
Not that Dole or Gingrich are guiltless—the one having cheated on his first wife and the other having served his wife divorce papers in her hospital bed.
Of the three only Clinton is still married to his original wife and only Clinton seemed to care about the travails of ordinary people and the downtrodden. Jesus hung out with publicans and sinners; his ministry was primarily to the poor and dispossessed, and his only act of violence was in overturning the moneychangers’ tables. These Christian values have been totally distorted by most of those claiming to be Christians today. They have married the Christian ethic and the capitalist ethic which are totally and intrinsically incompatible. Jesus said: “Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. ... Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; ... Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?.. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.” This passage is anti-work ethic, anti-materialism and anti-capital accumulation—all of which are fundamental tenets of capitalism.
I don't agree with Clinton on everything. In fact there is a lot I disagree with him about: trade policy, illegal immigration, affirmative action and education to name four. These I will expound on in the following.
LYING WITH STATISTICS
Different organizations are always coming up with surveys that purport to show something or other. In most cases these surveys are conducted by interest groups with an axe to grind. There are many techniques that can be used to get your survey to show the results you want to show regardless of which side of an issue you're on!
For instance on page 17 of the Budget Supplement of the Budget of the United States Government for Fiscal Year 1997, there is a chart from the Bureau of the Census which claims to show “Annual Earnings by Educational Attainment” vs. calendar year from 1980 to 1992 for both males and females. For males the earnings for college graduates hover around $40,000. per year while for high school graduates they decrease over time from about $30,000. to $25,000. This chart is supposed to show that, if you go to college, you will end up earning over the course of a lifetime significantly more than if you do not. In fact the text says: “Education and training are the cornerstone of the new economy.” Nowhere does it say that this chart is based on some sort of statistical average, and nowhere does it give any information on how these statistics were gathered. There it is written in stone: You will earn more if you have a college degree than if you are just a high school graduate.
Did they ever hear of a guy named Bill Gates or Larry Ellison or Ted Kaczynski? Bill Gates is a high school graduate and college drop-out who, starting with nothing, has propelled himself into being the world's richest man in the last 20 years worth today about 20 billion dollars. That's pretty good average annual earnings—over a billion dollars a year. I'm assuming he must have spent something in the last 20 years if he still is in possession of 20 billion of it today. Not bad for a college drop-out, eh? Another college drop-out (in fact he dropped out of two colleges) is Larry Ellison who is today within the top five American billionaires. I don't know exactly what he's worth, but being in the top five billionaires is good enough for me. Now these guys didn't make their fortunes in chicken parts or body piercing parlors or some other low tech baloney, but in the highest of high tech companies. Gates is CEO of Microsoft and Ellison is CEO of Oracle Systems, two of the premier high tech companies in the world. And they don't even have a degree in computer science!
Then consider the case of Ted Kaczynski, the alleged Unabomber, who has a PhD in mathematics and for the last 20 years or so has earned absolutely nada—a big goose egg. Were these guys included in the statistical survey? You better believe that they weren't. First of all these surveys are almost always telephone surveys based on a sample size of about 1000. So they call a thousand people up and ask them the survey questions. The problem is that they are not getting a purely random sample (which is needed for their projections to be accurate). Ted Kaczynski didn't have a phone. What are the chances that he was included in the survey? On the other end rich, high profile types like Gates and Ellison have layers of phone security around them. What are the chances that a phone surveyor could even get through to them to waste their time asking a bunch of silly questions? Nichts, zip. So these gentlemen were probably not even included in the Census Bureau's survey as well as a lot of homeless PhDs and non-college educated millionaires and billionaires. And this invalidates the results of the survey. As Ross Perot says, it's as simple as that.
For instance let us consider a survey in which Bill Gates was included. Say the survey included 999 high school graduates who earned $30,000. a year and Gates who has earned $1,000,000,000. a year for the last 20 years. If you multiply 30,000 by 999 add a billion and divide by 1000, you get an average income for high school graduates of $1,029,700. or over a million dollars a year! You can see why the government wouldn't want Bill Gates included in their survey. It's a nasty little fact which contradicts the myth that a college education results in greater earning power. In fact one could state categorically that most of the money that has been earned in high tech industries to date has been earned by people without a college degree!
Education has become part of the American myth like God, motherhood and apple pie. It has become one of those things that no one can question and still be politically correct. Clinton understood this very well and it helped win him the election while the Republicans appeared to be trampling on the American Dream. However, I would argue that it is a myth—just that. Many of the fortunes that have been made—past and present—and many of the great intellectual and artistic contributions to the human race have been made by non-college graduates, dilettantes and outsiders.
Thomas Edison, the most prolific of American inventors with over 1100 patents to his name, had a fourth grade education. John Chancellor, an icon of American broadcasting, was just a high school graduate. Most of the great entertainers and athletes, the highest paid Americans—even higher than CEOs, are not college educated. Did Sammy Davis Jr. or Dean Martin or Mickey Mantle or Joe DiMaggio or George Burns or Jerry Lewis have college degrees? Does Michael Jackson have a college degree? Michael Jordan? Tiger Woods? The reality and the fact is that very talented people don't need to be certified and credentialed by society and this is what a college degree represents. In fact most of the greatest entrepreneurs, the greatest athletes, the greatest intellectuals, the greatest artists don't have college degrees contrary to American mythology. The greatest American jazz artist, Charlie Parker, didn't have a college degree. In fact aspiring jazz artists who attend the Berklee School of Music and aren't called out on the road before graduation are considered second rate. To have attended college, but not to have graduated, is considered more prestigious and an indicator of greater talent than to have graduated!
My favorite example of a non-college degreed person who made an immense contribution to human knowledge is the French mathematician, Evariste Galois. A young man in his early twenties, Galois could not even gain admittance to the French Academy. He gave his writings on mathematics to the preeminent mathematicians of the day: Fourier, Laplace, Poisson. They either refused to read his work or lost it. Who was this kid that they should waste their precious time reading his work? Galois was killed in a duel without having gained either a college degree or any fame or money or recognition, but, in a letter to a friend the night before he was to die, he wrote down all his mathematics and by some historical fluke it did eventually get published with the result that today Galois Theory is a major branch of mathematics.
The French mathematician, Fermat, was a lawyer by profession who dabbled in mathematics—hence, a dilettante. His famous last theorem was just proved recently by Andrew Wiles, a Princeton mathematician, many mathematicians having spent their whole lives, unsuccessfully, trying to prove it. Fermat is known to history as a mathematician, however, and not a lawyer. The philosopher, Spinoza, was a lens-grinder by trade and van Gogh was a failed preacher. He couldn't stand the church bureaucracy.
Well, if college isn't for everyone, who is it for then? It is designed to produce middle of the road, conventional corporate employees—people who are tractable, docile, compliant, malleable and well socialized, in Einstein’s words “philistines “—just the opposite of the qualities needed to be a great entrepreneur, intellectual or artist. The American educational system isn't designed to produce the great individualists that Americans pride themselves on being, but rather, conformists—grist for the corporate mill.
THE PSYCHOLOGY OF THE UNABOMBER
It is very instructive to read the Unabomber's Manifesto to gain an insight into why someone who had reached the pinnacle of the American educational establishment—a PhD in mathematics—would throw it all away to live in an isolated cabin in Montana, without plumbing, heating or electrical, and send packages to people that would blow up in their faces. A passage from the Manifesto is revealing:
“Oversocialization can lead to low self-esteem, a sense of powerlessness, defeatism, guilt, etc. One of the most important means by which our society socializes children is by making them feel ashamed of behavior or speech that is contrary to society's expectations. If this is overdone, or if a particular child is especially susceptible to such feelings, he ends by feeling ashamed of HIMSELF. Moreover the thought and the behavior of the oversocialized person are more restricted by society's expectations than are those of the lightly socialized person.”
He writes again and again of feelings of powerlessness, of people not having control over their own lives, of being victims of the system. What I have surmised about his psychological make-up is strictly my own conjecture. I don't claim to have any extraordinary ability as a seer or any other expertise. That said it seems obvious that here was a person who was manipulated by his parents and teachers to believe, that, if he focused like a laser beam on doing well within the educational system, when he attained the pinnacle—the PhD in mathematics—he would have attained Nirvana. The PhD in math was the si qua non for the attainment of every happiness, every goal in life. When he actually got to the supposed pinnacle, he found that he had been ripped off by his parents and the educational system. He was not happy, and, furthermore, instead of having a sense of control and mastery, he had no control over his life. He had found nothing but a revolving door. By focusing single-mindedly on success within the educational system, by going along with society's attempt to force him into a mold, he had ended up with zero social skills and a ticket of admission to more of the same: publish or perish within a high power university system. Now as a professor, formerly as a student, nothing had really changed. He still didn't have the power over his own life that he thought he would achieve by reaching the pinnacle of that system.
“But for most people it is through the power process—having a goal, making an AUTONOMOUS effort and attaining the goal—that self-esteem, self-confidence and a sense of power are acquired. ...
“The difference, we argue, is that modern man has the sense (largely justified) that change is IMPOSED on him, whereas the 19th century frontiersman had the sense (also largely justified) that he created change himself, by his own choice.”
The difference between Kaczynski and someone who actually does succeed either within or outside of the system is the difference between someone who was forced into a mold and went along with it and someone who was intrinsically motivated toward the substance of his life's goals. Stage mothers are mothers who manage their children's careers. There are stage mothers, or managerial mothers let us call them, in other fields as well. Kaczynski's mother, Wanda, was probably the managerial type who manipulated and pressured her son to do well in a field he had no intrinsic interest in at the expense of every other form of normal emotional and psychological development. Abandoning that field and with no other internal resources to fall back on, Kaczynski was indeed powerless. For the first 25 years or so, Kaczynski lived his life according to his parents’ agenda while repressing every impulse to develop according to his own.
In an article about Tiger Woods, the young golfing phenomenon, 2 we find a quote from his sports psychologist: “‘Tiger was pursuing something from an intrinsic passion for the game, and wasn't forced to live out somebody else's expectations.’” The same, I think, could not be said for Ted Kaczynski. But Ted could have gone a different route. The system is not as all-encompassing as he believed. He dropped out: first step. But he never reconnected with anything else constructive. He was a one and a half dimensional man. He had nothing else to fall back on except a love of the wilderness that was encouraged by his father. One could conclude that he had no intrinsic love for mathematics or else he would have pursued it in his voluminous free time. He had the perfect set-up—the ultimate in leisure time surrounded by nature's beauty in the Montana mountains. It could have been him instead of Andrew Wiles that came up with the proof to Fermat's Last Theorem. He could have submitted a paper to a journal from time to time. Or if not mathematics, he could have been a self-employed entrepreneur and had complete control over his economic life outside any of society's various systems. I understand he was pretty good at woodworking.
As it is, he will probably be sentenced to free plumbing, heating and electrical for life (things he didn't have in his cabin) at taxpayer expense without the possibility of ever having to pay for them again. Throw in free room and board, medical and dental care, legal services, free health club facilities, gourmet coffee, HBO, aged cheddar and pricier cuts of chicken than those sold to the Defense Department for consumption by US troops! 3 No need to pay for cable. No need to worry about retirement. Retirement is bought and paid for by the taxpayers. Beats living on a dollar a day!
In contrast consider the life of the great Indian mathematician, Ramanujan. 4 Ramanujan was so much in love with mathematics that he flunked out of school because he would not take himself away from math to study anything else. He had a passion for math. Nobody had to pay him. He did it to the exclusion of every other human concern. He made his great contributions to mathematics while a clerk in a Madras shipping office. The System didn't have a place for Ramanujan any more than it did for a late-selfawakening Ted Kaczynski, but Ramanujan could have cared less. He lived, breathed, ate and drank mathematics. “Ramanujan's only designations were unemployed and flunk-out. Without his B.A., one prominent mathematics professor told him straight out, he would simply never amount to anything.” 5 He was another example of a person who made a great contribution to the intellectual knowledge of the human race without being a college graduate and while being employed in some other field.
One could make an argument—maybe it is a stretch—that clerks have made more contributions to human knowledge than college professors just as I made the argument earlier that college drop-outs Bill Gates and Larry Ellison have made more money in the high tech world than all the degreed computer scientists put together. The other great clerk, of course, was Albert Einstein, a clerk in the Swiss patent office in Berne when he wrote and had published his paper on Special Relativity. Einstein was degreed, but could not find a job in academia. It was partly because of his attitude in college and partly, perhaps, because he was a Jew. He was unvershämt, impertinent, and had the audacity to address his professor, Herr Weber, with the familiar d u instead of the formal Sie. A case could be made that Einstein, an outsider, would never have gotten his radical paper on Special Relativity published if he had not submitted at the same time two other brilliant papers along more conventional lines on Brownian Motion and the Photoelectric Effect which were all published in 1905. It was actually his paper on the Photoelectric Effect (his paper on Special Relativity still considered too radical many years later) for which he won the Nobel Prize. I made a recent pilgrimage to Ulm, Germany, Einstein's birthplace, only to find two pathetic monuments, one covered with graffiti, in honor of him. That's all! In contrast Trier honors its native son, Karl Marx, by making the house in which he was born a historic site, with a Karl Marx Strasse, Karl Mark Haus bus stop, a Karl Marx Kebap Haus, a Modehaus Marx with fashions for the big and tall, and a full size poster of Marx available at the tourist office. But Goethe and Schiller are still the preeminent cultural heroes to the Germans.
TRADE AND ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION: TWO SIDES OF THE SAME COIN
The Left and the Right, with two different motives, are really in resonance as far as cheap foreign labor is concerned. Whether the jobs are shipped out of the country or cheap foreign labor is brought here in the form of illegal and legal immigration, the phenomenon is the same. The Right wants cheap labor to maximize its profit margins. The Left is willing to sacrifice American jobs in an altruistic attempt to bring the Third World up to our living standard. Both sides are in agreement! After all free trade is a fundamental building block of capitalism as espoused by our father, Adam Smith, in The Wealth of Nations published not coincidentally in 1776, the year of our nation's founding. If we ever give up on free trade it would be tantamount to giving up on capitalism. Other nations know this and can, therefore, yank our chain by getting us to practice free trade while they dither and build up large trade surpluses vi a vis good old Uncle Sucker!
It's simple. Jobs that can be exported to foreign countries where cheap labor abounds, jobs that are involved with manufacturing something that can be conveniently shipped, will be. For jobs that can't be exported such as agriculture, domestic service and hotel and restaurant work, we will bring cheap foreign labor here in the form of illegal and legal immigration. Now we hear the tomato growers moan and groan that no Americans want to do this kind of work and only foreign immigrants are willing to do it. The truth is that no American workers want to do it at the price that American growers want to pay. But see, they want to subvert the Law of Supply and Demand. In other words let capitalism work when it's in O u r interests. When it's not, we'll do something else. By the Law of Supply and Demand, when there is no labor available at a certain price, then it is necessary to raise the price which is offered for that labor or other resource and, even in a full employment economy, labor will be drawn away from other labor markets. Let the tomato growers offer $10.00 an hour, $15.00, $20.00. Eventually, they will have all kinds of applicants to pick tomatoes. That's the way a free market is supposed to work. But they want to subvert the free market by bringing in cheap foreign labor under the pretext that “no Americans are willing to do this kind of work.” Let the interplay of market forces, the Law of Supply and Demand, solve the problem, not cheap foreign labor. There's no excuse, not even the necessity of competing with foreign products, not to let the Law of Supply and Demand work in labor markets for products and services produced and consumed locally.
THE CORPORATIZATION OF DOCTORS
By corporatization I mean the phenomenon in which a previously independent group of self-employed, self-sufficient yeomen end up becoming employees of a corporation which then proceeds to reduce salaries and siphon off this reduction into corporate profits. Case in point —what is happening to the former Cadillac of Yeomen —medical doctors. HMOs are corporatizing these previously self-employed entrepreneurs at a rapid rate. One way of doing this is bringing foreign students here for medical school who then stay on after graduation working for less. One in 6 American doctors is now foreign born. These foreign born doctors are willing, at least initially, to work 80 hour weeks for $30,000 a year.6 This is necessary in order for HMOs to make large profits. The same thing is happening to nurses. A friend of mine, who is a PhD in psychology, had a part time corporate job working for $20.00 an hour while her self-employed rate was $70.00 an hour. The difference of $50.00 an hour was siphoned off for corporate profits. As corporations monopolize more and more of the work through more effective use of advertising and utilization of other corporate assets, there is less and less work available for the self-employed practitioner with the result that they then have to go to work for the corporations thus losing their independent, self-employed status.
This is the same reason Microsoft wants to bring in foreign computer programmers. They're willing to work for cheap. In an article in the LA Times, 7 we find the following passage: “Perhaps one-third of engineers, programmers and other professionals in the Silicon Valley are foreign-born, many of them Asians sponsored for visas and green cards by area employers and US universities.” Let's subvert the Law of Supply and Demand by flooding the market with more workers. As the number of workers competing for the same jobs goes up, the market price for their labor goes down even if all are “willing” to work for the same wages.
“The American Mathematics Society says unemployment among first-year math PhD graduates hit 10.7 percent last year, shooting up from 2.2 percent as recently as 1990. That's the highest jobless rate since the organization began tracking unemployment in the early 1970s.’
“Eric Weinstein, a postdoctoral fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, lobbied Congress recently, arguing that universities have been using immigration since 1976 to import a labor force that has taken jobs at low wages and cut the employment chances of American mathematicians.” 8 So it's not just the agricultural and hotel and restaurant workers that are being imported but high blown professionals like medical doctors, computer programmers and mathematicians.
Other countries handle this situation differently. Our neighbor to the north, Canada, has a law that no job can be given to any foreigner as long as there is one unemployed Canadian who is qualified to do that job. Having had personal experience, I know how strict they are about this. A few years ago, I visited a friend in Canada and drove my work van so I would have a place to sleep along the way. It so happened that I kept my ladders on top simply because the ladder racks “sing” when there are no ladders on them, and I wanted to avoid the aggravation. I was detained at the border a good hour because, when he saw the ladders, the border guard thought I was going to Canada to do a job that would take work away from some Canadian. I had to swear on a stack of Bibles that I wasn't going there to work, and they called up my friend and she had to swear too, or otherwise they were not going to let me across. As it was they only let me in the country for a week or so and said I would be detained if I wasn’t out of the country by the date they set. I wonder how far I would have gotten if I would have said, “But officer, I'm willing to work cheaper than any other Canadian.”
Valerie Salerno, the woman who shot Andy Warhol, started an organization called S.C.U.M. —the Society for Cutting Up Men, and distributed the S.C.U.M. Manifesto on the streets of New York. So far as is known, she was the only member. Now I am not a sexist or a racist, just a masculinist, and I just believe in standing up for the rights of my sex which happens to be male. I guess that's not very politically correct if you happen to be a white male. Maybe I should call my group S.O.W. —the Society for Ousting Women. No, that doesn't have quite the right ring to it.
I voted for Proposition 209—to end affirmative action. Affirmative action says that you can't discriminate against minorities or women. Or in other words you can't discriminate against any group except white males. With white males you can discriminate all you want. We've had it so good for so long for so long—go ahead wap us one. We don't mind. Yeah sure.
I've noticed that one is not supposed to use any kind of gender specific language or anything that could in the least way be considered pejorative to women. But nobody says boo if pejorative language is used against men. A pet peeve of mine is the word “womanizer.” Don't tell me that there aren't a lot of “manizers” out there. Oh, but let's be politically correct here. I've heard a woman say that she “prefers variety in her sex life.” What about the woman who wrote “Open Marriage?” Was she a manizer or only someone who prefers variety in her sex life—a mere lifestyle alternative? I guess it depends on who's spinning what. Let us have gender non-specific language here. Let us call a person who prefers variety in their sex life, who chooses that “lifestyle alternative,” a “personizer.” I don't want to hear about any womanizers again.
And then there's the deadbeat Dads. What about deadbeat Moms? I've known a few personally—too personally. How about “deadbeat parents?” Let's be politically correct. The trouble is men have abdicated to women the vocation of writing etiquette books. So we have had Emily Post and Amy Vanderbilt concocting all this nonsense about what men are supposed to do for women—like opening car doors, standing when a woman enters a room etc. etc. —various ways about how men are supposed to kowtow to women. I think men should write etiquette books with an emphasis on how women are supposed to show respect to men. Like Emile Poste's Le Complet Guide de Savoir-Vivre pour la Femme. I think a lot of curtsying would be in order—like when a man enters a room etc.
And those ridiculous studies that NOW is always funding that show that “less than 50% of the current CEOs are women.” Glass ceiling! Glass ceiling! I never heard women complaining about access to the workplace when most of the jobs were in farming. Mrs. Farmer seemed to be quite content making jellies and jams, raising the children and doing the shopping while Mr. Farmer was schlepping the milk cans, shoveling manure and getting up at 4 AM to milk cows. I never heard my Grandmother complain that she wanted to trade places with my Grandfather. Women used to appreciate what men did—the physically demanding, the dirty, the dangerous— in order to make a living for them.
But then you'll never see NOW running a study complaining that “less than 10% of American hod carriers are women. This PROVES that this is a sexist society. Men have all the power and all the control.” I think that, since there's an obvious need here, a vacuum that should be filled, someone should start a union: “The Amalgamated Female Hod Carriers, Manure Spreaders, Ditch Diggers and Hog Sloppers Union,” dedicated to making sure that at least 50% of these positions are filled by females! The point is that women want all the good jobs that they perceive that men now have. They aren't interested in an across the board, full spectrum integration of the workplace. Feminists are just an interest group like any other fighting for what's good for their group not for what's fair. Women would still like men to do all the physically demanding, dirty and dangerous jobs while they fill the corporate boardrooms, thank you.
BUT ENOUGH RANTING AND RAVING
by William Wordsworth
The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not. —Great God! I'd rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sights of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.
1. “How to Lie with Statistics,” by Darrell Huff, W.W. Norton & Co., 1954.
2. “How to Raise a Tiger,” by John McCormick and Sharon Begley, Newsweek, December 9, 1996, pp. 52-59
3. “Sheriff’s Budget Is Not as Lean as Billed,” by Eric Lichtblau and Josh Meyer, LA Times, November 3, 1996
4. Kanigel, Robert, “The Man Who Knew Infinity,” Washington Square Press, 1991.
5. ibid. pp.75-76.
6. From a report on KPBS radio, 1996.
7. “‘Brain Gain’ or Threat to US Jobs,” by Patrick J. McDonnell and Julie Pitta, LA Times, July 15, 1996.
8. “Math grads wrong to seek curb on foreign profs,” by Michael Kinsman, San Diego Union, September 20, 1996.