Moving farther west to escape problems at home is no longer an option

Probably most Earthlings think of Americans as US citizens, but anyone living on an American continent, North, Central or South, is an American; and there is a major difference between Americans descended from Americans living in America before 1492 and Americans descended from Americans originating in Europe and Africa, or from anywhere else on Earth, America being the melting pot of Earth.

After deciding to major in management science at the doctoral level, I taught a course called American Economic History, Eco 133, for three years at Texas Tech to freshmen to finance my way through the doctoral program, having majored in economics at Tech as an undergraduate. Faculty at Tech who named Eco 133 for the college catalog were also confused about what is an American, or didn’t care, if that was what most economics departments called the course, and if most publishers and textbook writers titled their books for the course American Economic History, to hopefully sell more books. But, truthfully, Eco 133 was only about US economic history.

America was named after the Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci who proved Christopher Columbus did not reach India in 1492 after he sailed west into the Atlantic Ocean from Spain, hoping the Earth was round, according to legend, to reach the East. He landed instead on some islands off the coast of a very large land mass, apparently generally unknown in Europe at the time, except perhaps for a few scholars who might have read or heard about Leifur Eiríksson first landing in this new world about 985 CE, after being blown off course returning to Greenland from Norway, to tell his fellow settlers there to believe in Christianity, as he was told by his Norwegian king.

Leifur and his crew lived in the new world for a year or so, building themselves a few cabins and such, calling it Vinland, or Vineland, because of the profusion of grapevines in the area, calling the natives skrælingjar, a derogatory term proving racial prejudice existed at the first encounter of Europeans with New World natives, a prejudice also existing five centuries later, when Columbus supposedly discovered America as told to US schoolchildren, which was one of many factors causing the conflicts, hostilities, wars and crimes resulting in the near-genocide of Native Americans in the ensuing centuries.

America was populated by one account with about 60 million humans in 1492 (Native America Elder video posted below), who lived in ecological harmony with its flora and fauna on and in the land and waters, Stone-Age hunter-gatherers and farmers incapable of doing serious ecological harm. They were called Indians, by mistake, apparently caused by Columbus thinking he had struck India when he and his crew finally got across the Atlantic Ocean, sailing west to reach the East.

Unfortunate for the American so-called Indians, the serendipitous discovery of America in 1492 unleashed a flood of European invaders in coming centuries. Up to now in 2013, all of North, Central and South America has been populated by Europeans, by Africans, originally brought to America against their will as slaves, and by humans willingly and gratefully migrating to America since 1492 from most of the 200 or so countries now delineated and functioning on Earth; and the original 1492 inhabitants, who migrated to America several millennia earlier, when no humans lived there, have, by one account (the Native American Elder video posted below), been reduced to possibly 800,000, having been almost exterminated in some places. Native Americans didn’t stand a chance competing with the invasive Europeans who brought with them metal knives and axes; guns and gunpowder; economic, religious and legal systems designed to encourage and foster the acquisition and ownership of land, whiskey; and measles, smallpox and other diseases, for which the natives had little resistance or immunity.

European Americans living in what became the United States have probably had the best go of it in America, especially those descended from upper socio-economic classes of Europe, such as the lesser sons of aristocrats who went to America to perpetuate their privileged ways, being relatively educated with a bit of money with which to buy slaves and farming equipment in the South and manufacturing and trading equipment in the North.

I have tracked my ancestors in America to Stephen Stapleton living in Marlboro County, South Carolina, in 1800 in the US, a slave-owner and farmer, who was said to have descended from relatively wealthy Stapletons in Virginia who went there from northern England in the 1600s. Another branch of my family tree was French Huguenots, Fontaines and Maurys, descended from Jean de la Fontaine born in 1375 in France, who wound up in America because of religious hatred. They fled France to Ireland, for some strange reason, after Henry IV signed the Treaty of Nantes in 1598, to escape being burned at the stake by Catholics because of their Calvinist religion, only to be harassed and threatened by Catholics in Ireland, causing them to migrate again to Virginia in America in the 1700s.

Some Europeans went to America to perpetuate their aristocratic ways and some went to escape religious persecution, harassment and threats. Most went because their lives were so impoverished and desperate in Europe because of overpopulation and poverty taking their chances in America seemed their best shot. Whoever first had the entrepreneurial idea to purchase and capture slaves in Africa and take them to America and sell them to farmers to do hard farm work should have been shot on sight; and the slave idea should have been immediately outlawed forever by all governments on Earth. Unfortunately this did not happen, the idea worked, producing a good return on investment, and the slave trade continued for about two centuries. It took a civil war in 1860 to finally get rid of slavery in the US; it was abolished earlier in the 19th Century in Central and South America.

My ancestors in America on both sides of my family in several generations owned slaves, not something to be proud of, kept secret from me all my life, until I discovered it using US Census data writing my book, Business Voyages, a business bible for people who would like to do the right thing for all Earthlings. Several generations of my family used the same basic economic strategy used by Stephen Stapleton in 1800: Gain ownership control of cheap land, through land grants or other means, plant and grow tobacco, cotton and other crops and cattle on fields and pastures worked by slaves. When the natural fertility of the land played out growing crops, or too many children were bred and raised for their current land holdings to support, my ancestors would move their surplus children as adults farther west to continue the same lifestyle and economic strategy, to places my family members migrated to I located using US Census data, first in Alabama, then a generation or so later in Mississippi, then in Texas, and finally in New Mexico, where my Stapleton grandfather Sidney wound up with a 10,000 acre ranch, before he lost most of what he had in the Great Depression of the 1930s, including his Bear Ranch and his Spear X brand, located near, as bad luck would have it, today’s Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.

He somehow afterwards supported his wife and family of six children during the Dust Bowl days, moving back east into Texas and Oklahoma, working as a carpenter and contractor, using his four sons as helpers and workers, repairing and building houses and barns. My father had to drop out of high school two years in Carnegie, Oklahoma, to help support his family, cutting firewood for sale, finally graduating from high school at age 20. He said he attended eight different schools in eight different towns. My grandfather’s favorite saying was, “A rolling stone gathers no moss.”

My father grew up in “Indian Territory,” and what with his black hair and brown eyes he was sometimes accused of having “Indian blood,” when there is no memory or record of it in our family history, that I have found. I have thick curly/wavy hair, and I have sometimes been accused of “having a nigger in the woodpile,” of which there is also no family memory or record I have found. But that is what happens when you grow up in America, the so-called melting pot, a racist unfair place where only the palest skinned, the blue-eyed and the straight blonde-haired are fully free from threats of racist condemnation, defamation, insults and slurs in the form of innuendoes, looks and comments experienced firsthand or learned about secondhand.

While Native Americans and African Americans have taken the brunt of racist condemnation, defamation, insults, slurs and violence, in the US, many Americans, of any color or shade, have felt their stings at one time or another because of one or another of their racial markers. I asked my grandfather, E. H. Coston, a Methodist minister, what he thought about my hair and whether he knew of any African ancestors in our family. He told me if there were it was “way back,” and if you go back far enough we’re all Africans, since everybody descended from the first humans to evolve on Earth in what is now Africa.

There’s no longer a racist bigot under every rock in the US, but there’s plenty of them still around. Thanks to the freedom marches in the Deep South of the US led by Martin Luther King, John Lewis and others and the US Civil Rights Act in the 1960s most US bigots now keep their racist thoughts, feelings and beliefs to themselves, saying little about them in public, and US citizens should have no fear of being racially insulted or attacked. But the US and Planet Earth have a long way to go before, as Dr. King wished, all Earthlings feel, think and know the relevant consideration is the quality of one’s character, not the color of one’s skin, or, I might add, the straightness of one’s hair.

Racism—grandiose irrational feelings of superiority and inferiority because of inherited physical characteristics—baked and frozen genetically into human skin, faces, eyes, hair and conformation through natural selection and evolutionary forces over eons—has probably caused more human pain and suffering and crippled more lives than most physical diseases, possibly even causing more premature deaths than most physical diseases.

The agricultural migratory process outlined above is now obsolete in the US and everywhere else on Earth. There is no more land farther west to steal, swindle or take from native people and ship surplus children to, and African slavery in America is long gone. It is now no longer feasible for the average Yankee up North in the US to start his own manufacturing business and make a profit using European-American or African-American men, women and children as laborers in his factory. It’s almost infeasible for anyone to start any sort of large-scale factory requiring large numbers of blue collar workers anywhere in the US and make a profit using US labor, with the possible exception of backward Red non-unionized right-to-work-and-suffer states where US factory workers are paid wages approaching those of the third world.

Earth is now so overpopulated there are billions of laborers willing to work in factories in many countries for a pittance compared to what Americans in the US came to expect after 1940, or what is now required to stay alive in the US. Rich Yankees now build their factories in foreign countries, or they simply buy goods made in low wage countries and import them into the US, selling them in big box retail stores, using low wage American employees to dispense the goods, who are probably not as exploited as slaves were in the US before the Civil War, but who are exploited nevertheless, with many being forced to supplement their low wages with food stamps funded by taxes raised, money borrowed and money printed by the US government, to pay for their basic necessities, 40 cents of every dollar now being spent by the US government being either borrowed or printed, largely because of its low effective tax rates for large corporations and the elite rich.

As for me, one of the lucky ones, I finished my doctoral degree in 1969 at Texas Tech in the Texas Panhandle, ten miles from where my parents reared me, and I left town, with three degrees and no student loan debt. Tired of sandstorms and flat hot arid land with no trees or flowing creeks and rivers, and the mean-spirited repressive religious culture, I headed back east to teach, first to South Louisiana for a year, where I knew the fishing was good in the Atchafalaya Swamp, and then to Southeast Georgia, where they also had good fishing in the Ogeechee River, where I retired in 2005 after 35 years teaching at Georgia Southern, not far from where my ancestor Stephen Stapleton farmed in South Carolina in 1800.

Shall computer programmers and computers save us?

One can build the case most historical economic strategies are now obsolete, including capitalism itself. As precarious as things are now in Western Europe and America, conditions are far worse in North Africa and the Middle East. Countries there are having civil wars right now, caused not only by economic and social injustice but by religious hatred, with causes and conflicts much more insidious than those causing the US civil war. It was almost a no-brainer proving slavery was immoral and unethical in America; but proving any of the causes of the civil wars now tearing up countries in North Africa and the Middle East are immoral and unethical is probably impossible, and there is no end or amelioration in sight for them.

Here’s an idea I developed using a management science technique to eventually solve the Earthling inequality problem, an issue in today’s North African and Middle Eastern troubles. To my knowledge I am the first Earthling to dream of this, first published in 2008 in my book Business Voyages, in a passage starting on page 645 of the last edition:

“It seems to me a mathematical formulation exists that one day may develop for Earthlings’ power in economics loosely analogous to the power of E=mc2 in physics. This formulation is Max or Min CjXj, subject to, AijXj ≤, =, or ≥ Bi, which is a general form of the linear programming model, which has been around for many years in management science, operations research, and linear algebra courses. It seems to me Max CjXj, s.t. AijXj ≤, =, or ≥ Bi symbolizes knowledge that gives the human species about as much potential power to perpetuate itself as E=mc2 symbolizes knowledge that gives the human species the power to exterminate itself.”

Here is another passage from page 635 of Business Voyages:

“The upshot of this linear programming discussion is that if computers and computer programs become powerful enough, they might eventually store data in matrices for food, clothing, shelter, energy, transportation, and medicine requirements for every single human living on Planet Earth. These requirements could be summed to develop the total requirement for food, clothing, shelter, energy, etc. for Earth as a whole, per week, month, year, or whatever. An Xj matrix stored in a magnum computer system might contain all the various products required by humans, a Bi matrix in the linear programming formulation might contain all the types of resources available to produce the required goods, which will constrain production below some limit, an Aij matrix in the LP model might contain the amount of various resources required to produce one unit of each necessity of life, or Xj, and a Cj matrix in the linear programming formulation might contain the relative utility of each alternative good, or Xj.

“The magnum computer system could then scientifically compute the optimum number of units of all the alternative products to produce for all humans then living on Earth. Once the goods are produced the magnum computer system could then scientifically distribute them among all humans living on Earth using another quantitative management science technique known as the transportation model to minimize transportation costs. Such a process would insure that all the world’s resources necessary to sustain human life were used in an optimum manner and were consumed fairly.

“Computers can not only store and manipulate data in two dimensional matrices in rows and columns on one plane; they can store and manipulate data in three dimensional matrices that not only go east-west in rows and north-south in columns on one plane, but up and down on different planes. Instead of only having an M x N matrix, you can have an M x N x O matrix, and tell a computer to store data in the cell located at the intersection of the Mth row, the Nth column, and the Oth plane, much like you would park an automobile in a particular space of a multi-story garage. And you can have many more dimensions if you like. You can put M x N x O matrices in larger labeled matrices, and put those labeled matrices in even larger matrices, and so on. Xt,k,c,q,n,p,g, stored in a computer, could be a variable representing the gth good required by the pth person, in the nth city, of the qth state, of the cth country, of the kth continent, in the tth year, entailing accessing data in 7 interrelated matrices, or dimensions. Subscripts attached to variables such as X in this example tell the computer how to track down specific values through the maze of interrelated matrices. Numbers for the subscripts can theoretically increment from 1 to any finite number (the number of cells in the matrix) and entail that many passes through nested do-loops (7 in this example) in the overall computer algorithm (sequence of iterative mathematical steps) to develop aggregate totals. The process is similar to storing data in labeled files on your personal computer, putting those labeled files in labeled folders, and then putting those labeled folders into other labeled folders, etc., and using subscripts to keep track of what value you put in what variable in what file of what folder.

“Writing a computer program to manage a global economy would require thousands of man-hours of flowcharting and programming time and a magnum computer system. Such requirements for such a project might approximate the man-hour and technical knowledge and skill requirements of the Manhattan project that produced the first atom bomb, or the US space program that put the first man on the moon. Writing such a program would require flowcharting and programming skill many orders of magnitude greater than mine. I have not written a line of computer code since earning my doctorate in 1969, and I learned only one computer language, Fortran IV.

“Today in reality the market system, composed of billions of isolated customers voting for the producing of various goods by buying things, is used to decide what to produce and how to distribute the produced items. The market system works pretty well for billions of people on Earth, but poorly for a billion or so, those who go to bed hungry at night. Politicians and bureaucrats spasmodically intervene at various times and places based on impulses, fears, power needs, sympathy, and other motivations to provide charitable aid for fellow humans clearly in need of help, regardless of where the people needing help might have been unlucky enough to have been born on Earth, and regardless of global market determinations, in a loose system of governments and charitable organizations including the United Nations that has enabled the human species as a whole to muddle through.”

Here’s another passage from Business Voyages, starting on page 663:

“Using linear programming to schedule world production and distribution of the necessities of life is at present little more than business science fiction, however mathematically feasible this may become as computers and computer software become more powerful and sophisticated. On the other hand, such a system may evolve through time through synergistic learning as more and more humans comprehend what is going on. For more on synergistic learning and comprehension refer back to Buckminster Fuller’s definitions of synergy and comprehension in Chapter 1 of Business Voyages, “Where to Go.”

“It’s possible a computerized global economic system shall evolve for the production and distribution of the necessities of life—food, clothing, shelter, and medicine—with the national identities, cultures, political systems, economic systems, religions, and so forth of the some 200 nations now on Earth remaining intact. Free enterprise could exist for everything but the production and distribution of the necessities of life. I have no idea what are the probabilities of any of these things happening, but it seems to me they are possible, which, it seems to me, is hopeful for all mankind.

“Management scientists using something like linear programming to schedule, produce, and distribute the necessities of life for all humanity as outlined above would prove those in control of the magnum computer system truly cared about every single human living on Earth, creating a World 1 in which every man, woman, and child alive on Earth would know for a fact she or he was truly appreciated and protected by a rational and fair global system during her or his infinitesimally short existence on Earth. The implementation of such a system might finally untie the Gordian knot that has kept much of mankind threatened and terrorized by fear, ignorance, poverty, hunger, disease, misery and violence since time immemorial.”

Here’s another idea concerned about technology and the religious problem, a short story I first published on my Facebook page August 13, 2013:

The new technological God

The new God is swifter to act than the old one. This new one is not yet fully omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent, but it is getting there. This one keeps track of your activities and sins via your electronic communications, through your cell phone and your Internet hookup, and by watching you from above.

No one ever knew for sure the old God really existed, except presumably a few of his trusted agents here on Earth such as Moses, Jesus and Mohammed, and no hard evidence ever existed to prove such a God personally ever did anything to harm any human alive on Earth. This God merely threatened, according to rabbis, priests, imams, preachers, and the like, to torture humans in an eternal hellfire after they died, if they did not feel, think and do as they were commanded on Earth.

But there is hard evidence this new technological god has inflicted severe punishments on humans alive on Earth, for not doing as they were commanded.

There is irrefutable evidence this new god using quasi-omnipresent omniscient electronic surveillance equipment to detect sinners, after presumably applying ethical and legal criteria, can, has, and will cause humans alive on Earth to be thrown in prison, tortured, and, in worst cases, killed—using drones—unmanned, unseen, unheard aircraft—that shoot sinners on the ground with missiles, aimed and directed with precision using satellites, fired remotely by loyal obedient servants who place an X on a target on a computer screen and click a computer mouse, as if playing a computer game.

Much like sinners sometimes feared the old God might do using lightning bolts.

Ramifications of the Problem

It seems Earthlings must make major changes or live with the probabilities of an environmental catastrophe. Better birth control measures are needed to reduce overpopulation, a major cause of the environmental problem; and changes must be made in economic strategies and belief systems that inevitably cause Earth’s resources to wind up in the hands of fewer and fewer people while most of Earth’s population becomes poorer and poorer, while the environment is polluted more and more, having possibly already passed a tipping point. Here’s a an idea for dealing with the over-population problem, which would peacefully shrink Earth’s human population from generation to generation until a sustainable population level is reached, by Earthling women deciding to have no more than one child each, of either sex.

Back to Basics

A solution for the Earthling plight, if there is one, probably entails humans inventing a bottom-up religion and a spiritual god, similar to the god and religion advocated by Michael Adzema and Native American Elders. Adzema defines a spiritual god as the highest moral, ethical and spiritual state individual humans are capable of achieving, becoming an Atman, using pure subjectivity. Native American elders conceive of god as the Great Spirit that exists in all nature, spiritually present in Earth itself, in its waters, mountains, and animals. These gods are not commanding gods ruling from above, but rather exist in the minds of humans who feel their presence here on Earth. Native Americans worshipped their ancestors, sensing, feeling and reliving the ego states, beliefs and behaviors that had been introjected into their neuronal networks from earliest childhood from first-hand exposure to their parents and grandparents who showed and used them, which were passed like a baton between runners in a track race every generation since time immemorial, causing the last generation produced to feel, think and do in the here and now much as their ancestors had, which like all human processes on Earth produced both good and bad effects from one perspective or another depending on circumstances.

Both the old God of the Book and the new US surveillance and drone technological god of computers and the Internet rely on threats, fear and intimidation to cause humans to do the right thing in the opinion of the gods, using top-down quasi-legal systems with built-in punishments for wrongdoers. The old God also promised a fantastical reward in a heaven throughout eternity as his major incentive for sinners who signed up for his program and who met his expectations and requirements when alive on Earth.

One can build the case what humans need now is a non-commanding bottom-up belief system that supports the decisions of all Earthlings capable of producing learning that will cause them to do the right thing for themselves and others, causing them to do what is necessary for all to survive and experience a modicum of satisfaction during their infinitesimally short lives, simply because the right thing is the right thing for all species on Earth, with no thought of earning a fantastical eternal reward in heaven.

The old God fostered economic and legal systems that encouraged the selfish acquisition of land and goods; the new bottom-up god would peacefully encourage the sharing of resources so as to enhance the welfare and survival of all Earthlings, not merely the richest, most powerful, most manipulative, most callous, most hypocritical and most obedient.

Who knows, the old God might actually approve of his children being brave and smart enough to do this, even though it might undermine his original program.

The new reality

Progressive and conservative Earthlings are in a position today analogous to the opponents and advocates of slavery in the US, serfdom in Russia, and the peasant/aristocrat class systems in France, Spain, England and elsewhere from about 1776 to about 1936. Progressive people knew in George Washington’s day and in Leo Tolstoy’s day that in the US and in most countries of Europe their unequal unfair economic and political systems, slave and otherwise, were doomed to extinction; but it took decades or a century or more of arguing about them before something was finally done, which was far from optimum, far from the best or smartest thing to do. Unable to develop workable consensual peaceful resolutions based on facts, data and evidence through dialogue using reason and common sense, polarized progressive and conservative true believers fought it out in bloody civil wars, and millions of Earthlings were killed.

Progressives now argue something must be done about poorly regulated quasi-obsolete economic systems, religious systems, legal systems, and production and distribution systems that have resulted in the richest 20 percent of Earthlings consuming about 76 percent of all goods and services produced on Earth every year, with the bottom 20 percent consuming about 1.5 percent of all goods and services, while a small free Earthling elite, about 26 million humans own and control about 40 percent of Earth’s wealth, living in luxury with almost unlimited options for travel and entertainment, living cheek by jowl among billions of humans mired in poverty, owning almost nothing, doing almost the equivalent of slave labor day in and day out all their lives, yet living in constant fear of being fired from their jobs for disloyalty or slackness, who are condemned to poverty by their wages, in most cases within miles of where they were accidentally born, where they grew up with little or no opportunity to learn relevant knowledge about how the world works, in many cases not even having an opportunity to learn how to read.

The monster of inequality was repressed but not killed in the Earthling civil wars of the 19th and 20th centuries. What would it take to finally drive a wooden stake through the monster’s cold hard heart once and for all?

This time around there probably won’t be another half century or more for Earthlings to dilly-dally around arguing about the advantages and disadvantages of their various alternatives for dealing with their obsolete, unfair, dysfunctional, unsustainable systems; and more is at stake this time around than mere human rights and fairness and justice. There is that 800-pound gorilla over there in the corner of the room: Global Warming.

Richard John Stapleton is an emeritus professor of business policy, ethics and entrepreneurship who writes on business and politics at www.effectivelearning.net and on Facebook.

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