Not Quite Running On Empty
The other day a friend of mine of Facebook posted a link to Jackson Browne singing this iconic song from the early days of his career.
Jackson Browne was one of the pioneers of the musical genre known as Country Rock. Some of his songs were also covered by the Eagles who really defined the genre indelibly.
And I liked the Eagles, but in that genre, Jackson Browne was my hero. He was a Southern California guy and wrote, not so much about the lifestyle, as the culture, including the rich Hispanic culture.
I remember being extremely moved by a song called Lawless Avenues, which talked about the Latino gangs of LA and the challenges that good people faced there trying to keep their kids from falling into that lifestyle.
There was also a sense of urgency about Jackson Browne’s music, When you heard it you really felt like you were feeling the pulse of a country.
I guess that growing up with influences like Jackson Browne and Bob Dylan helped me develop an awareness about just how much the forces of power work on us every day, trying to beat us down for no other reason than greed.
I have always maintained that greed was really prosperity run amok. It really is the result of having too much and always wanting more. And it’s been that way for pretty much all of my life.
North America was built by people with vision. But in a lot of cases this vision was powered by a compulsive need for power and control. And while there were certainly exceptions to that rule, those exceptions were in the minority.
For every Richard Branson, who built his business by understanding that it was his people and his customers that were the key to making him successful, you have 10 Koch brothers who have basically built their wealth and power on the backs of working people and through buying influence from corrupt politicians.
However, what the powerful very much seem to be shortsighted about is the simple fact that paying working people as little as they can reduces their overall buying power, which will, over time, come right back around and bite the business owners in the ass.
The trouble is that this logic plays very poorly with people who are obsessed with wealth and power.
They are only interested in the more. The accumulation of wealth. The avoidance of paying their fair share of taxes and keeping wages and other aspects in their business as cheap as possible.
This situation is allowed to carry on unabated because a number of these rich, greedy people own media outlets and cleverly shape the information that gets out to most people in society.
It’s become a very well known fact that a great many people will believe almost anything you tell them if you say it loud enough and often enough. So the ability to control the media is the ability to control the message.
Bottom line is that most people have no idea how badly they are being screwed over, because the media defines their value system for them.
Countless millions of people think they are doing OK, not because they really are, because in America today the vast majority of working people are living paycheck to paycheck and carrying huge personal debt, but because they are being told over and over again that everything is just fine.
They are told that the economy is booming. That there are jobs everywhere. That international trade is strong. And that the future looks so bright they have to wear shades.
All of this may be true for the some, but for the many, it’s a delusion they have been talked into believing.
The same holds true in Canada, but not to the same extent.
But one thing above all else has become painfully obvious to anyone who has managed to slip off their blinders, and that is that the world as we used to know it really no longer exists.
Robots have replaced people in 70% of North American manufacturing businesses. So manufacturing is no longer a viable career path. Retail, pretty much right across the board, has and will continue to be adversely affected by online sales, and everybody knows the kind of coolie wages places like Amazon pay their people.
The millions who have been and will continue to be displaced by this brave new world really need to start thinking along totally new lines if they are going to survive.
And there are, undoubtedly, many people who wish they had listened more closely to the prophets went they were shouting out their warnings back in the days before that shouting was drowned out by the greedy and their lies.
But it is what it is. And these days, it always seems to be circling the drain, so the rich and powerful can keep on keeping on.
All we can do is keep pounding a message of hope, and see how many people we can wake up. Because it's going to take all of us working together to clean up the mess that greed has made.
But I believe it can be done. I see bits and pieces of hope everywhere with new technologies and new mindsets.
And for my part, I’ve still got some charge in my batteries, and I’m prepared to use it all up to do what I can.
Jim Murray is an experienced advertising and marketing professional and former professional photographer. He has run his own business (Onwords & Upwords), since 1989 after a 20 year career in Toronto as a senior creative person in major Canadian & international advertising agencies. He is specialized in creating communications for businesses working to make a positive difference in the world.
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