Adonis Diaries

Archive for March 17th, 2012

In no US State can a minimum wage worker afford rent at even 60 hours per week.

If you contemplate this map, you’ll realize that in no US State can a minimum wage worker afford rent at even 60 hours per week. States in dark blue require a worker to find at least two full-time jobs, and won’t locate a decent place to sleep in privacy.  Sunny States, all year round are the preferred destination for those knowing full-well that homelessness is their lot…

What is the current minimum wage in your country? Do you think all cities are equally affordable for whatever  minimum wage was promulgated, even with yearly “inflation adjusted expenses”?  Do you think that a Federal  minimum wage law is meant to be fair to all working people, or another clever gimmick to excluding the poorer citizens from flooding targeted cities? Frankly, isn’t the minimum wage meant to exclude “unwarranted” people from overcrowding “VIP cities” without imposing explicit discriminatory laws prohibiting entrance to the “sacred cities”?

What is the minimum survival salary per year in your country? For example, if it is $15,000 a year (you don’t have to pay a dime in taxes at that level) do you think this evaluation was meant to be able to survive in New York City?

It is about time to figure out the meaningful minimum wage by States and cities by considering the reverse process:  What is a sensible maximum yearly revenues for any individual?  What criteria should differ between the rich and the poor for enjoying fair levels of equal rights?

Do you think that the Occupy protests is against liberal capitalism, or because people can no longer afford to rent for the work they are doing?

You will be hearing statements such as this:  “Don’t tax the rich. Tax inequality” or that the max. revenue should be set at 36 times the median income.  (The median revenue is the cut-off line between 50% of population income:  income lower than the median represent 50% of the poorer citizens).

Suppose the median income is $35,000 per year. Can you rent a condo in any major city (since renting is far more economical than purchasing properties…)? Can you own a second-hand quality economical car and maintain it adequately?  Can you buy fresh fruits and vegetables and once a week steak meal?

How many houses, cars, and luxury items can someone generating $15 million a year spend on? That what 36 times median income amount to!  You do the math if you know the current median income.  Suppose the max revenue level is $15 million a year, how many houses, cars, and luxury items can someone spend on with all that money? Do you think “perception of inequality” would vanish if the government set this limit?

Do you know that in 1918, individual revenues surpassing one million were taxed 77%? That in 1944, Congress imposed 94% on incomes above $200,000?  Even during Ronald Reagan the tax break was 50% for the rich classes, before reaching 28% in 1988. What is the tax break now on high income?

It is 35% with a stitch: All profits resulting from transactions in capital gains, shares, obligations… are taxed 15% only.  Basically, the ultra rich are plainly paying 18% tax rate. What is your tax bracket?

Do you know that in 1955 the richest 400 people in the US gained only $13.3 million (after factoring in inflation) and paid 51% in tax rate?  That in 2008, the 400 richest generated $270 million and paid only 18% in tax rate?

Do you know that the same alternative suggested in the New York Times article was proposed a century ago?  Felix Adler, founder of National Child Labor Committee, had launched a vigorous campaign demanding that individual revenue be limited to $100,000 (about $2 million in current dollar)?

Back then, Amos Pinchot, chairman of American Committee on War Finance, declared to Congress:

“Two percent of the richest American capture 65% of the total wealth.  If the State has the right to confiscate the life of a citizen for the general interest (dispatching him to war battle fields), shouldn’t the State enjoy also the right to retain the wealth of the richest class in critical periods?  How can a state go to war and pretend to defend democracy and plutocracy in the same vein?”

Suppose the community or State provides quality public schools for free, cover healthcare expenses, secure jobs, and cover apartment rent…How much an individual should earn maximally in order to reduce the sense of inequality among th citizens?

Note 1: Post on max revenue limit was inspired from an article by Sam Pizzigati in the French monthly “Le Monde Diplomatique” # 695

How many of the over one billion well-connected internet users Branded their “I”?

Peter Diamandis forecasts 3 billion will be well-connected on the Net by 2020, and wondered on the power of that huge interconnection of intelligence pieces, information, knowledge, solutions, perspectives to resolving untenable global problems…And I wonder: “How many will care to brand their “I” in order to be better recognized and reap profits…”

Not only international corporations design their brands, but also any small company, and many individuals who believe in setting themselves apart in their domain…I decided to re-edit a previous post that was missed by readers.

When I hear the term “branding”, the first image comes to mind is in movies where slaves and cows are branded with hot iron with a symbol, logo, or initials to be visually recognized as belonging to a particular proprietor.

If a corporation imposes on its employees to exclusively patronize and purchase its “brand” products or services, wouldn’t that constitute a form of “branding slaves”?  For example, when Microsoft implicitly discourage its employees to search Google as its preferred engine, do you think the company is exercising “slave branding” until the salaried person is fired or going to retirement?

I figured that a good method to defining an explaining “brand” is by developing on a few categories of “brands”, which are not necessarily exclusive.

Categories of brands:

1. “Belonging brand”: We do belong to a tribe, a religious sect, a restricted community, a gang group…We want the members of our group and those outside the community to discriminate us with our slang, language, customs, dances, ceremonies…through symbols, which are the tribal markings, visual and verbal signs of differentiation. The more global the “economy”, the more pronounced the local markings… This idea is put forth by Wally Olins.

2. “Professional brand”: You wear the white coat and the stethoscope and you are readily accepted to be a physician, regardless of youth, genders, or race…All professional syndicates and professional disciplines tend to “brand their members”.  Have you ever asked a physician or a judge, or an engineer to fetch his diploma, certificate, or university grades…in order to prove his professionalism?

The Red Cross logo project a symbol of vulnerability and thus, it is safe to approaching the vehicle and let it move freely in battle fields…

3. “Addiction brands”: You are in Africa or any remote area and you don’t find a bottle of water or sugar in shops, but invariably, you can buy a soda can or bottle.  The soda liquids are heavily sugary and loaded with addictive additives. You find Coca Cola, Pepsi, orange flavored soda bottles, locally made soda loaded with sugar. The gas in the soda gets you the feeling of emerging from a heavy meal and the sugar is needed for the brain…, but it is not the same as drinking water or eating sugar.  The same goes to all the other addictive products.

The story goes that Pepsi discovered that a person is ready to drink unlimited quantity of soda if available, and Pepsi offered the 2 liters bottles in order to compete with Coca Cola…

4. “Fear and peer-pressure brands”: If you don’t buy this product people will make fun of you, and you will not be considered a normal person. Cosmetics ads use this sense of being an “outlier” in a community to encourage the usage of particular products. For example, fear is associated with workaholic individuals because they feel disconnected with the safety of the community outside the corporation.  Workaholic people are defensively constantly checking the “pleasant mood level” of the boss.

5. “Herd brands”:  “Are you an American? You must own your own home as every successful family…”  All research studies are demonstrated that renting is much cheaper than purchasing a property, but the citizens were pressured to buy homes, even though they knew they could not afford it.  As long as easy credits were extended, people were willing to go with the flow of normalcy…

6. “Story brands”:  Tom Peters said: “A brand is a good story. Period. People are suckers for stories. Dump the word “brand” and use “story” instead.  When I become a story, I am viewed as more human, more real…” For example, oats was grown as cattle and sheep feed, and then Quaker Oats box package made a sensation. Why? If Quakers are offering oats as food for mankind, it means oats is good for you: Quakers are not in the culture of lying to you…  Best if the story project a mythic archetypical story like Adam and Eve, with the Apple nibbled at…

7. “Cultural brands”: The differences in wine quality, price, and varieties are shrinking. The wine brand is: “From which country or region is the source of the wine products?” The future brands will be cultural because the western civilization failed to take seriously the cultures of the emerging cultures in China, India, Brazil, Latin America…As Grant McGraken stated: “The first condition to crafting a “provocation” in design is to have a thorough knowledge of the culture and the social world in which you mean for your design to effect any structural change…”

The identification phase in any design is fundamentally to respond to this simple question: “What are specifically the cultural meanings you intend to design?”  For example, the word “Africa” is used as a brand name to mean an intricately complex area made up of people, countries, cultures that have no more in common than we do with Uzbekistan…” (Malcolm Gladwell)

8. “Daring You brand”: This is my own definition for successful brands.  My position is that a success brand is wittily sending a daring message: “I challenge you to try this product…” People respond to daring challenges like the bitten Apple, the archetype mythical story of Adam accepting Eve challenge to try a state of consciousness…of the invitation of Nike to try sport… The story is the witty means to conveying the daring proposition.  After the first experience with the product, it is no longer the brand responsibility, but the company sustainable promise to deliver good on the experience…

9. “Seductive brands”:  Be as beautiful, as healthy, as seductive as “I am brand”.  Corporations want to attrct customers, “to be loved” as individuals behave to attract others.

Dimensions of brands:

1. Stable reputation like college or hospital ranking, done by peer evaluation and having nothing to do with objective measure of performance.  What’s left, after reputation is taken out, is a small residual…

2. Reliability for using a product or a service:  You have definit expectation when you patronize a brand name and you want this expectation fulfilled.

The dimension of durability is no longer a serious factor since everyone knows that corporations are explicitly engineering products to fail after a certain periods:  Corporations wants heavy turnover of products to encourage “consumerism”…

Our personality is a function of the collection of objects, ideas…we surround ourself with. For example, psychologist Samuel Goslig rates a person from how the room looks like:  You are judged according to what you display. Another example is (Svpply site, v and not u) that is another facebook-type, where you associate with people who like and purchase particular objects, whic are common to your perception of a life-style…

Note 1:  This post was inspired by Debbie Millman ”Brand thinking and other Noble Pursuits”. This book is a collection of 22 interviews with known brand designers and entrepreneurs such as: Wally Olins, Grant McCraken, Phil Duncan, Dori Tunstall, Brian Collins, Virginia Postrel, Bruce Duckworth, David Butler, Stanley Hainsworth, Cheryl Swanson, Joe Duggy, Margaret Youngblood, Seth Godin, Dan Formosa, Bill Moggridge, Sean Adams, Daniel Pink, DeeDee Gordon, Karim Rashid, Alex Bogusky, Tom Peters, Malcolm Gladwell

Note 2: Debbie is president of design division at Sterling Brands and president of the AIGA design association

Religious stories: Nutcases in awe of jokers’ fiction storytellers…

Even the most confirmed nutcase among clerics would never claim that stories in religious books were generated from eye-witness people…So why all clerics refuse to admit that all these stories are fiction?

What’s wrong with fiction stories? Fiction stories are the norm and the most appreciated form for readers and writers… Why clerics of religions and sects insist that these horror stories were inspired by a God? Stories of sacrificial ceremonies of virgins, kids, animals…sprinkling blood and semen around tents of potential enemies…And killers nutcase emulating the stories by the letters, through the ages?

Religious stories were fiction stories based on common daily customs and traditions among tribes, clans and communities. They were believable because they were describing life-styles, common to the period. They were told from generations to generations by appointed storytellers, in “broken-telephone” fashion, edited and transformed to match the customs and tradition of a newer period…

It was the custom of appointing a higher-power as the cause or genesis of whatever happens in life and to community events…

This higher-power was tailor-made by each tribe and community to represent its interests and securing its continuity and survival…

Many civilizations transformed the verbal transmission of the myths into writing, and these civilizations were considered to have acceded to truth and the light…Why? Very few people could read, much less  write, and the clerics had the monopoly of this magical power.  Even today, the written material conserves a magical power of high credibility: You hear people say “It is written in black on white…Here, you read for yourself…” Any book relegating pages of reference “source materials”, even if never read by the author, extends the illusion of credibility to any manuscript.

For example, Prophet Muhammad labelled the tribes in the Arabic Peninsula who didn’t yet read from a written Book, such as Christian or Jewish sects, as having not reached the truth and the light, and thus were called ignorant “Jahel”.

The Babylonian, Egyptian, and Phoenician civilizations did that, though what is found is in stone tablets and not many of them remain. It happened that a group of Jews who settled Alexandria (Egypt) in 200 BC decided to gather, codify, and re-arrange the Hebrew fiction stories into easier to handle written materials.  Mind you that all these fiction stories and myths were common to the civilization in the Near-East region, and not much editing was required for the content sources.

The higher power was selected to be called Jehovah (the warrior God idol of the Jews in the City of Jerusalem during the Canaanite civilization), and many prophets were added to the string of the biographical history.

Since then, hundred of sects split, sorting out and re-editing the fiction stories they preferred, as representative of their culture, the accredited stories, the apocryphal (hidden truth), the heretic, the devilish…burning the books that do not suit the sect…

Why governments have to keep subsidizing clerics and their institutions? Are current fiction stories not good enough or versatile enough?

Why Presidential contenders have to use religious beliefs as the main dividing line in the campaign?

Why children in schools have to memorize these fiction stories and be graded accordingly? Are fiction stories for kids not good enough?

Can we stop these charades?

Can we live in peace?




March 2012

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