Sticking it to the Man

I have been complaining about how independent-minded people cannot get along in the big bureaucratic organizations as long as I have been working in big-bureaucratic organizations. It is getting to thirty years now and I have been getting along reasonable well in big-bureaucratic organizations. For an even longer time, I have been reading books about independent-minded reformers bucking the system to change the paradigms and make meaningful changes.

I always identified with the plucky outsiders. Most of us do. It is the American way. You can easily see it in the plots of so many movies and books. A group of misfits is picked on and oppressed by the powerful and/or popular people. They continue to do things their way and by the end of the movie are vindicated. As I said, most of us identify with the underdogs and misfits.

It can't be right. There are more than 300 million Americans and ALL of us are rebels? If all of us are a little different and a little rebellious, who are we rebelling against? And if the group of misfits comes out on top, don't they become the in-group. Maybe it is the nerds and the theater kids oppressing the jocks.

I have been reading another of those business-management-behavior books that gives another set of examples about the rebels working on their own turning the tables on the established and powerful. But, as I wrote, I have been reading these sorts of books for a long time. The names are changed and the exact circumstances are different, but the stories are the same. My study of old books tells me that this story has been going on for as long as people could write. Each of the new renditions makes it seem like it is a new discovery, but maybe this is just the way it is, has been and ever will be.

In my own lifetime, I have seen many of the "rebels" turn into the sclerotic establishment that needs to be overturned by new rebels. These erstwhile rebels in general did not "sell out." They simply solved the problems presented them. Yesterday's solutions are often today's problem, which implies that today's solutions will be tomorrow's problems. This seems depressing at first glance and it could be, but I don't think it is. It is simply a matter of growth and change.

Many of the problems of my youth have indeed been solved and the world is generally a much better place than it was back in 1973. Our generation actually did pretty well. I have reasonable confidence that it will be a much better place in 2053 than it is today, i.e. the kids will be all right too. But people will still be complaining, because people complain. They can always imagine better.

I have been complaining about how hard it is for independent-minded folks like me to make it in the organization. People like me like to "stick it to the man." But in the course of all my complaining, suffering and strife, I realize now that I have become the man. People see me like I saw my bosses of the past. I now realize that my old bosses too were surprised by their own apotheosis or demonization, depending on who was doing the taking and when. These successful folks were - in their own minds - the plucky outsiders who had to push open doors and make the system change. Some were right.

It is a little deflating but nevertheless comforting to realize that we - we plucky outsiders - we are the system, maybe too much to say bricks in the wall but not too much to say links in a chain. It is a great strength of our American system that we can easily absorb good people and ideas from outside the current establishment. We actually live in a state of constant revolution, but w/o the nasty bits associated with those things that happened in France or Russia.

It doesn't work in spite of us but because of us. We "rebels" sometimes don't admit it or even see it. The system works with us and we work with it. We never get all we think possible because we can envision better than anyone can achieve and it is a moving target. As soon as we get to a place we thought impossible, we start thinking it is normal, deserved and maybe not enough.

Well, looking around on this first day of 2014, I see that things are pretty good. Can I envision better? Of course I can. Is it better than I envisioned by in 1974? Hell yeah. We solved the energy crisis, brought down world communism, reduced absolute poverty by 80%, cut cancer deaths, greatly improved water and air quality, brought back species such as wolves & eagles; the population bomb fizzled; Lake Erie turned out not to be dead and we even got rid of disco & leisure suits. Those were things I worried about back then, I thought there were no good solutions; fortunately, I was wrong.

And still can stick it to the man. Take a look at this clip.

Posted by Christine & John at January 1, 2014 8:06 PM
Comment #375408

Sometimes the plucky outsider is a sniper too so watch out.

Posted by: simpleheaded at January 2, 2014 11:55 AM
Comment #375410

C&J, the human experience is one of constantly working to perserve and improve our state of existence. We, the human species, are unique in our ability to overcome the natural state of our physical surroundings, but, nature, even our own, is constantly attempting to revert back to its original state of flux in search of balance. The human experience has so dramatically changed in the last few centuries, that our institutions erected to facilitate those changes cannot always keep pace with the changes, and therefore, cannot always maintain us in the process. All change in the human experience inexorably requires a reeducation of the new generations in the wise oversight and management of those beneficial changes. Where we fail in our institutions to manage our pace of change is in educating each new generation in the wise oversight and maintenance of those changes. When we fail to do so, we give nature the advantage over us to motivate us to revert back to a time and state when we were able to manage and maintain. All of the animal and plant kingdoms are born with all they need to know to survive and reproduce. Humans are not. Humans must be educated, each and every one, if they are to work in concert with noble human objectives, or become a liability to those efforts.

Education is how we have advanced so far. Failures in education are how we will fail to maintain the advances made so far. And we are failing in some very real and fundamental ways, but, not in all ways. Not yet.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 2, 2014 3:16 PM
Comment #375411


Change is inevitable. Mistakes are as inevitable as change.

A man I consider wise once told me that “if you aren’t making mistakes, you aren’t doing anything”.


Posted by: Rocky Marks at January 2, 2014 3:47 PM
Comment #375412

Such optimism understandable for the top 20% or so, C&J. A few counterbalancing factoids.

Federal debt near $15T.
7-8% fewer heading to college
7% employment rate, still high
Lowest median income since 2000
Meanwhile, inflation has been easily running 7-8%
Stockton, Detroit, other cities in dire straits
Globalism continues, Fiat buys Crysler, China buys Smithfield Foods and so on = =
Even after the top 10% picked up a lot of cheap(er) realestate there is still a glut
Income inequality widening exponentially. 1% own 40% of everything.

Otherwise, far more problems than cheaper gas will solve, IMO.

Good point, David. As I noted, education down 7-8%. Degreed young people taking on ‘menial’ jobs or unable to find jobs. Returning vets, same. I can’t build optimism for 2014 on such. Even as the Corpocracy wants to amnestize millions of migrant workers.

I’m all for helping people out of poverty but, wouldn’t it make more sense to help Mexico develop using their own people resources. Seems a dichotomy in propaganda; we must have immigrant workers in order to survive as a nation and, thusly, relieve the pressure on Mexico to develop without an overburdening population, etc. Is there some Corpocracy in there somewhere?

Otherwise, let’s get on with it and see where we end up next year - - -

Posted by: Roy Ellis at January 2, 2014 3:53 PM
Comment #375413

I generally do not “Hate” anything. But I hate the use of the non-word Corpocracy.”

It’s a colloquial term that borders on being a pejorative term.

Why not simply say or write Power Elite? Yes, I know its inherent meaning; however, to me it’s a ‘code’ word used by many liberals who despise our capitalistic society or the free market.

Enough already. The same with the horrific, any widely abused term, “at the end of the day.” Just say “Ultimately” instead.

Yeah, I know. I sound like some word Nazi, but it’s the editor in me…I swear…;)

Roy, David R, et al., please abstain. Use another synonym instead.

Posted by: Kevin L. Lagola at January 2, 2014 4:34 PM
Comment #375414

Kevin, where did I use the word corpocracy in my comment above?

Corpocracy implies governance by the corporations, since its definition for society is one of being controlled or strongly influenced by corporate interests, without regard for the will of the people in aggregate. An entirely different concept from ‘power elite’, with a much more narrow definition and contextual to boot depending on whether one is talking about the little league or the U.S. House and Senate.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 2, 2014 6:24 PM
Comment #375415


Please - top 5% and working towards the top 1%.

Re Mexico - I don’t know very much about Mexico, but I know a lot about the other big south or the border place - Brazil. There are lots of development problems, but in the last quarter century the place has been transformed.

Let me give an example. I recently visited a place called Paragominas. A few years ago, it was on lists of the most ecologically denuded places on earth. Today, people come from around to world to see a model of sustainability. I met an old guy who told me his story. He walked for days to get there into the wilderness. He was a poor farmer and still worked the land, but he had managed to send his three kids to college. In fact, the biggest challenge of the small farmers today is that their kids have such good opportunities they are doing other jobs. I talked to a guy who had moved to the Amazon to exploit the forests for fiber. Around 1990, he saw that it would be better to plant trees than just to cut him. Now he has thousands of acres of well managed forest that supply all his plants with fiber. He is experimenting with native Amazon species and has set up wildlife corridors. He is working with small landholders to help them diversify their income stream to include small forestry.

They have opened technical schools and a rural university is developing techniques in sustainable tropical agriculture and forestry. Degraded lands are being restored.

This is an amazing story of a place that used to be dependent and troublesome becoming a leader. It is the transformation I am talking about above and another reason for my optimism.

Posted by: CJ at January 2, 2014 6:44 PM
Comment #375423

David, thank you for that very apt definition of ‘Corpocracy’. I could not have said it so well.

Kevin, IMO, corpocracy goes to the very root of so many of our problems. I can’t give it up. I can only continue the drum beat until corpocracy is defeated or, at least badly wounded.

Corpocracy was cemented in place in 1860 when the railroad barons managed to get corporate personhood put on the lawbooks, without there ever being a court hearing on ‘CP’. Can you imagine an issue making its way into the constitution today w/o a hearing by the S/C? People would scream and holler, get all bitchy and so on - - -

Utilizing their ‘stare decis’ manner of lawyering the Corpocracy fights the right of the people to Article Five Convention, spelled out real clear in the Constitution.

Also, gets them extra points with the likes of ‘citizens united’, money is free speech and so on - - -

Corpocracy is rampant. Today’s WaPo relates that multinational corporations receive a $9B tax break under “Active Financing Exception to Subpart E” of the tax code. Created in 97, lets mfctrs and banks defer taxes on overseas income when they engage in ‘special type of financial transactions’ known as ‘active financing’. Critics claim it encourages companies to create jobs overseas. It’s a top lobbying priority for the likes of GE and JP Morgan, who say it helps them compete abroad.

One of thousands of tax laws for the corpocracy. The taxpayers paid to send the corps overseas and now we get to continue paying to keep them there.

C&J, agree Brazil has made rapid and significant progress over the last couple of decades. And, wonder of wonders, they did it w/o sending their people resources to foreign lands. Down the road, sorry Kevin, we may need to send workers to China so that we can reinvent ourselves what with the coming NWO, etc.

Otherwise, - - 3rd party and all that - -

Posted by: Roy Ellis at January 3, 2014 6:13 PM
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