Posts Tagged ‘Income Inequality’

Lessons From Game Of Thrones – Living in the shadow of oligarchy…

May 26, 2015

Oligarchy - Lessons from Game of ThronesLike many fans of Game Of Thrones, I am often surprised at how the show forces us to look at ourselves in the mirror and contemplate our own relentless march towards oligarchy.  For those who don’t watch the show, the “Game Of Thrones”  is literally a game played by a few great families at the expense of all below them.  They don’t govern, they rule and to the victor belongs the spoils of both power and wealth.

Our constitution is not a shield against tyranny…

There was a time, not long ago, when most Americans would have arrogantly assumed that we had risen beyond such  stark differences between the haves and have nots.  Cloaked in the protections of our constitution middle and working class Americans felt safe from the exploitation that dominates feudal societies like the ones seen  in GOT.   Trade unions supported the middle and working classes and the “one man, one vote” concept of our republic would  ensured that the very structure of our government would prevent any backsliding  towards oligarchic rule.

What we forgot was the lessons of history.  That power and money has a relentless propensity for concentrating itself in the hands of a very few.   We forgot that  if left to its own devices, without checks, balances and constant vigilance,  any capitalistic economy would always push relentlessly toward plutocracy.  Unfortunately, with our eyes off the ball, we took a 30-year political nap and woke up to a nightmare.

The Powerful Prey on the Powerless…

In the first episode of season 5 Tyrion and Varys have a conversation about power and justice.

Tyrion: What is it that you want exactly?
Varys:  Peace. Prosperity. A land where the powerful do not prey on the powerless.
Tyrion: Where the castles are made of gingerbread an the moats are filled with blackberry wine.  The powerful have always preyed on the powerless.  That’s how they became powerful in the first place.
Varys:  Perhaps.  And perhaps we’ve grown so used to the horror we assume there’s no other way.


Our dance with the devil and our race to the bottom…

March 11, 2015

BODY POLITIC LOGO THUMB - SmallWant to help save our nation?  Perhaps its time to just say “NO” to the rampant worker exploitation that is going on in our society.   Sorry to say that this is something that is going to be easier said than done.  Its something that snuck up on us by stealth of night.  Then one day we woke up in a new world where a “sharing economy” was creating a giant race to the bottom.  The vast majority of us found ourselves  struggling to survive on less and less while fixed costs like health care and housing rose exponentially.   

Killing our own futures – one bargain at a time….


The employment game – the discrimination against unemployed STEM professionals…

September 15, 2014

Naked Capitalism   is always a good source of information about the “real economy”.  You know, the one where all is not so rosy and hopeful.  Its a place where reality sets in and shines a light on  why the economy remains so crappy for so many five years into a so-called “recovery”.


Lessons from Game Of Thrones – Geeks don’t get no respect

September 2, 2014

In the world of Game of Thrones where the sword is mightier than the pen, it comes as no surprise that geeks, dweebs, intellectuals of any stripe, get almost no respect.

Tales of the two biggest (and smallest) GOT geeks….

Samwell Tarly,  though high-born and bookish was neither brave nor athletic so his farther abandoned him to the Night’s Watch which was generally a dumping ground for bastards, rapists and murderers.  Actually  Samwell  was given a (cough…) choice, he could die in an “accident” in a hunt or he could take a life oath to serve in the night’s watch.  Ok that’s not a choice, but you get the picture.


Bill Gross and Defining “Normalcy”….

July 27, 2014

In my previous blog on income inequality   I quoted  Bill Gross, the founder and chief investment officer of PIMCO who in a USA Today article   eschewed present-day excesses in the market place and called for a return to “normalcy”.  Not surprisingly, conservatives who dominated the comment thread implied that Gross presumed a great deal  when he attempted to define “normalcy”.

Just because slavery or indentured servitude are historically “normal” – doesn’t make it right…

Few would probably disagree with the heading above.  However, many commenters questioned Gross’s  definition of normalcy.  “Who’s to say what is normal anyway?”  asked one commenter.  To his credit, Gross defined what was NOT “normal” with our current system and his criteria seemed spot-on to me:


Of Pitchforks, Revolutions, Capitalism and our Better Angels…

July 20, 2014

Its a rare thing when within one week I run across two articles written by two very different members of the  financial elite (the  0.1-0.015%) ringing alarm bells about  the rising tide of income inequality. But it happened this week.  Both addressed their fellow plutocrats directly and had the audacity to speak out strongly against the rising tide income inequality.

Nick Hanauer and the Tedtalk that wasn’t…

NIck Hanauer, a very successful entrepreneur, CEO and philanthropist is decidedly a part of the  exclusive financial elite. He is also no stranger to controversy.  In 2012 Mr Hanauer gave a TEDtalk that TED declined to post.   Why?  Well as it turns out that instead of invoking his own personal success story, Mr. Hanauer had the chutzpah to focus his talk on the emerging oligarchy , income inequality and its impact on business, society and the economy. OOPSIE!   TEDtalks are all about rugged individualism and empowerment – that’s a no-no!


Lessons From Game of Thrones: Invention & Innovation Requires Public Commitment

July 16, 2014

In the very first episode of a Game of Thrones,  10-year-old  Branden Stark had an unfortunate “accident”. He was pushed from a high window and nearly died. Although he survived, he was paralyzed from the waist down.  A few episodes later,  the decidedly book-smart and wealthy  Lord Tyrion Lannister offered Bran a gift.  He designed  a special saddle so Bran could ride horseback once again.

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Invention often happens that way.  Someone with the technological know-how and the money, sees a need and acts to fill that need.  This is but one of the more minor routes to discovery and invention.  It is simple, direct, but far from the most likely.  For the most part, big gains and earth changing discoveries are generally not sprints; they are marathons.


Lessons From Game of Thrones – Players & Pawns – which are you?

June 14, 2014

This is part 1 of 2 parts…

I was going to move off my Game of Thrones metaphor for a couple of posts, but my last blog on “Players, Pawns and Little Finger” brought something interesting to my attention.  I have to admit that it was something I found deeply disturbing…In that post I embedded a YouTube clip on Little Finger’s monologue “The Climb”.  In the monologue he describes chaos as a ladder that he intends to climb in order to achieve ultimate power.

Apparently, many people have found this monologue “inspiring”.  A few indicated that they listen to it every day as it gets them going in the morning, implying that it helps them realize that they are in charge of their own destiny. 


Lessons from Game of Thrones – Players, Pawns & Littlefinger…

June 9, 2014

There was a time in America when the political powers that be actually feared the wrath of the people. Our elected officials were regarded as public servants and woe be to them if they did not enact policies that served the interests of their constituents.


Lessons from Game Of Thrones -The Sansa Stark Syndrome…

May 23, 2014

OK, I confess, I’m a big fan of GOT. GRR Martin’s cast of characters presents us with many life lessons  and analogies that can be applied to this world as well as the fantasy world of Westeros.

Is Sansa Stark passive and shallow? 

While watching some clips on YouTube I found myself glancing at the comment thread and noted that people tended to be particularly annoyed by the Sansa Stark character.  Apparently she is too “passive” and was being unfavorably compared to her badass sister Arya.