To The Biden Haters

When your house is on fire, you put out the fire. Then you work on Plan B.

It’s done. Nearly every avenue where Trump might have prevailed is done. The courts are tossing his cases. The states are certifying their results. They are pressing forward. More and more people at the side of Trump who had any hope that he might win are abandoning the fight that Trump insists on continuing. Some of them are urging Trump to concede. He has refused to concede, and there are already murmurs of another run in 2024. Good, let him continue to gore the GOP to their untimely demise.

Trump has in my mind, has proven to be the worst president I have ever seen. Tempestuous, arrogant, bombastic, and antagonistic. While Trump claims the world acknowledges his unrecorded victory, the world has actually moved on to warm up ties with Joe Biden. The consensus is that Joe Biden won in a walk. I’m not happy with the transition, but I’m relieved because of it.

I have been getting some feedback about the last few of my more political articles, in which I have been expressing some relief and some hope with the election results. Yes, I admit that Biden has real deficits, for I really wanted Bernie Sanders. I’m not terribly pleased to see a former prosecutor as the Vice President, either. To my critics on the left, you can trust that I’m “woke”. To my critics on my right, hear me out. I want you to know that I play a long game and I’m really taking in the big picture.

With Trump in the White House, my house is on fire. With Biden, I get relief from Trump. This seems to be the point of Trump as president. Some very powerful people must have said, “Let’s install someone so odious, that he makes Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden look good.”

I see two competing cultural attitudes at work here. One that says that behavior modification and Skinner Boxes are cool. The other says that loaning gifts from God, you know, everything we can grow and mine on Earth, to others at interest in the MLM we call, “capitalism”. These two attitudes are not sustainable, and they complement each other.

The division and developmental delays we see in the people in this country are a direct result of those two attitudes. I’m writing articles like this to address them. Joe Biden and Donald Trump are products of behavior modification and the ancient practice of usury. 99% of us have been raised on that stuff. I believe that we must make it our goal is to see our way out of it.

Most of us can’t see that the system we live in is almost pure bullshit. We have been led to believe that if we dangle some rewards here, and brandish some threats of poverty and jail over there, we can keep funneling people to the money farm where they can hope that one day, they’ll be rich and famous. That thing doesn’t work out for anyone. That thing is what some might call, “The Matrix”, and suggests that Karl Marx might have been right about a few of his observations of capitalism. Our country is so mired in behavior modification that we made a movie about it called, “The Social Dilemma”. In The Matrix, we are raised to believe it is normal for our expenses are paid back with interest.

There is not a doubt in my mind that all of us want this country to be a better place to live. What makes the country a better place to live is subjective, it is relative to the observer and subject to interpretation. The present debate in our political discourse is about how to make the country a better place to live. The problem with our discourse is that it is arbitrarily limited to a few trivial matters that dare not touch upon the true nature of the problem: behavior modification and debts.

In past articles, I have discussed the concepts of punishment and reward. I have found that those concepts don’t get much traction because they seem unfamiliar to a culture that has been swimming in them like water. That is what behavior modification looks like to me. I have spent the last year or so, reframing every TV drama, every political melee, every discussion about public policy in the light of behavior modification. What is behavior modification?

Behavior modification refers to behavior-change procedures that were employed during the 1970s and early 1980s. Based on methodological behaviorism, overt behavior was modified with presumed consequences, including artificial positive and negative reinforcement contingencies to increase desirable behavior, or administering positive and negative punishment and/or extinction to reduce problematic behavior. For the treatment of phobias, habituation and punishment were the basic principles used in flooding, a subcategory of desensitization.

Our entire society is built upon this idea that we can modify the behavior of others with the proper administration of pain and pleasure, or punishment and reward. But there is something missing from that philosophy: the skills to meet the code of behavior.

I’ve seen painful and vitriolic debates with one side insisting that if we would just inflict enough pain on the poor people, that they will mend their ways and their lives will get better. The other side says we should give the poor more money because the economy is rigged. It’s rigged. Neither side seems to be aware that at the bottom of all of this, is an unconscious desire to implement as public policy, the behavior modification regime they suffered at the hands of their parents as kids, now upon adults.

Then there are the people who think that loaning money at interest is a great business model. One of the biggest underlying reasons for the extreme polarization in the country is debt. 64% of all bankruptcies are medical bankruptcies. Student debt is $1.4 trillion and presently collected by wolves set upon the former students by the Champion of God’s MLM, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. The irony of her actions cannot be understated once you read the next few paragraphs.

I have just finished reading a book called, “…and Forgive Them Their Debts” by Michael Hudson. Hudson is a recurring favorite at Naked Capitalism and the Unz Review. He worked on Wall Street for a few decades and noticed that there seemed to be a correspondence to the history of debt and the stories in the Bible. The basic story he says is that the bible is about debt. He also says that Jesus was talking about debts when he was talking about sin.

Hudson’s book is about the first 3,000 years of the history of debt with humans. The theme is simple and recurring. Loan a commodity and staple food to someone else at 30% or 50% annual interest, watch the debtor fall into arrears and claim the debtor’s labor, wife, kids, or land as payment when the debt cannot be repaid. Nowadays, we call that, “foreclosure”. The ancient rulers saw this pattern of behavior and declared all personal debts annulled on a frequent basis in order to restore peace and to keep the people from fleeing their debts. Ancient rulers also saw that those primitive bankers were trying to compete with the rulers for the labor required to dig irrigation ditches, build walls, and fight in the army to defend the settlement. We are living an experience similar to that now, except without the debt amnesties.

29% interest is common for credit cards. A sizable chunk of the American population is up to their eyeballs in debts. They have to pay a significant chunk of their income to bankers in order to stay afloat. The typical mortgage costs 150–200% of the original loan or more over 30 years and could take up to 50% of net income each month. Wage stagnation has encouraged people to use credit cards as their own money to pay the bills, especially during this year of the pandemic.

So what changed? No debt jubilees in the modern age. Contracts are sacred and forever. Who cares if kids starve, people go bankrupt over health care or families sink into debt for the rest of their lives, just make sure the banker is paid back the money he created out of a journal entry in his database? And Betsy DeVos? “We’re good Christians except for that part about debt amenities and jubilees. Wherever did you get that idea?”

Um, nature? The life cycle of the planet includes a process of renewal to restore balance. Debt amnesties were used to renew the economy and restore order. But in Betsy’s (and Trump’s) world, God doesn’t do that because contracts are more sacred than life.

Both major parties profit from the system as it is. Both parties are silent on these issues. Both parties will point to an endless parade of distractions before they will ever talk about the real issues we must face if want to survive as a nation, and as a species.

So yeah, I’m not terribly pleased that Biden won the primary or the general election, but he’s better than Trump by a mile and a half. I’m not saying that I want a return to normal because that would give us another Trump, but the house has been on fire since at least March of this year. We need to douse the fire with water and make a detour.

I’m feeling a heck of a lot better knowing that Trump can no longer use the government as his personal protection racket. Trump will be subject to all kinds of litigation once he leaves office, including criminal prosecution. No longer will he have Bill Barr and Mitch McConnell running interference for him, and that to me was the most disappointing thing about Trump. I really think Trump ran for president to run out the statute of limitations on his most recent errors with respect to the law.

Maybe we won’t get to the most pressing issues we as a culture face in my lifetime, but I’m planting the seeds for my kids here and now. I truly believe that we must ditch behavior modification as a culture and really focus on teaching the skills we need to be good citizens of our nation and of the earth. I truly believe that we must make an honest review of our debts and learn how to write them off without worry about “them getting away with it”. The money will come back. It always does when the economy works for all of us. That’s how virtuous circles work.

So let’s put the fire out in January. Let’s remove the single greatest source of consternation and division from the White House and get on with the business of The People. If Biden says he will unite the country, let’s hold him to his word. Let’s stop adding fuel to the fire and find out what caused the fire in the first place and deal with that first. Then we can have a conversation about what to do next.

Write on.

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