Chapter Thirteen

SCREW THE RULES


The fastest way to succeed is to look as if you're playing by other people's rules, while quietly playing by your own. - Michael Korda


Rules always favor their authors. It necessarily follows that if you are playing by rules not authored by you, you are playing by rules designed for the benefit of someone else.

I am not suggesting that you blatantly disregard all rules, run red lights, park in front of fire hydrants, and instigate needless confrontation. On the contrary, it is to your benefit to abide by common sense rules the majority of the time, and to at least create the outward appearance of being a rule-abiding citizen when it serves your interests. The guerrilla may not fight while he is locked down for avoidable offenses.

What I am suggesting is that you do not let other peoples' rules govern your mind and your life. Instead of being a slave to the rule book, judge each rule on its own merit, and decide whether or not abiding by it (or at least creating the appearance you are abiding by it) is in your best interests.

Let's face it - the world is not fair, and the playing field is not level. There is no equal distribution of resources, and the rewards are not handed out based upon merit. Paris Hilton, Teresa Heinz, George W. Bush, “Princess” Di, et al., did nothing to deserve their wealth and titles, other than be born into, and/or marry into, powerful and wealthy families.

It is possible in some countries to jump classes and change your station in life, but the fact remains that where you finish largely depends upon where you start. “Those who have the gold, make the rules” is the true Golden Rule, and the rules they make are always designed to ensure perpetuation of the status quo.

A 1999 Business Week survey revealed that the average CEO of a major US company was compensated 475 times more than the average blue collar worker. Does the average CEO really need or deserve, in one year, the equivalent of what one worker makes over the course of fifteen lifetimes? In a study conducted by NYU economist Edward Wolff, the richest five percent of American households in 2001 controlled over 59 percent of the country’s wealth, and the richest 20 percent held 83 percent of the nation’s wealth. In contrast, the bottom 80 percent had 17 percent, and the bottom 40 percent just 0.3 percent. Nearly 31 percent of black households and more than 13 percent of white households had zero or negative net worth. In The Ecology of Commerce, Paul Hawken reported that the top one percent of the U.S. population owns a stunning 40 percent of the nation's total wealth.

Is there anyone who truly believes that the top five percent of the US population does 59 percent of the country’s productive work, or that the top one percent deserve to control more wealth than double the net financial worth of the bottom 80 percent?

Even in cases where people rise to fortune on their own merits, their compensation is often absurd, when compared to the miserable lives of the people doing the back-breaking work that make their riches possible.

For example, the NBA's 2003 No. 1 NBA draft pick, LeBron James, signed a $90 million endorsement contract with Nike while still in high school. The year before this stunning endorsement contract was made, Tim Connor of Oxfam Community Aid Abroad released a report regarding conditions in third world sweatshops titled “We Are Not Machines.” This report revealed that workers for Nike and Adidas in Indonesia were paid full-time wages as low as US $2 a day, and were often forced to send their children to live with relatives in distant villages, or sink into debt to meet their basic needs.

Put into perspective, the sum that Nike paid LeBron James for an endorsement contract could have paid the wages of TEN THOUSAND sweatshop workers for over twelve years. How many years of your salary would $90 million cover? Our current system (indeed, all systems the power elite of any nation ever devised) are designed to benefit the few over the many, and are especially designed to exploit those with no options, so that those holding the cards may be further enriched. Even in cases extreme as the one cited above, the rules of the game have not been violated.

Yet the rich and powerful will never rest when it comes to closing any loopholes which favor the masses. In 2005, the credit card lobby in the United States finally succeeded in forcing major “reforms” to the bankruptcy system, to ensure that wage earners who find themselves mired in consumer debt no longer have an easy out.

Still, it is not uncommon to hear deluded members of the working class arguing that it is the obligation of every citizen to work hard and play by the rules, to obey the laws of the land, and to voice his grievance at the polls.

This is precisely the type of thinking the deceiver class has worked so hard to instill in the middle and lower classes. The political system itself is a tool of the elite. As Tom Morello has eloquently pointed out, “American democracy is inverted when what passes for democracy is an electoral choice between two representatives of the privileged class.”

Our current political system is simple: the two competing wings of the ruling oligarchy conduct surveys to determine public sentiment, prepare slick ad campaigns and hire professional speech writers to sway voters to their side, and then pay off their benefactors when elected to office. Although they feign opposition, the two “competing” parties will fight like hell to keep any outsiders from entering the competition. Anyone not content with the system who believes she will, or even can, effect meaningful change at the voting booth is seriously deluded.

There is a bright side to these grim realities. Once you understand the game, you have the ability to play it, without submitting to it. You may use civilization to the extent it benefits you, and even pretend to be a compliant citizen when convenient, without allowing the deceivers to control your mind.

Perhaps someday, humanity will have evolved to the point where the masses collectively throw off their chains and kill their masters. But regardless of whether or not that day ever arrives, you as an individual are still free to think and act in your own best interests, without guilt, shame, or regret, rather than submissively bowing to the will of the elite. There is no need to make your own happiness and mental freedom contingent upon the actions of others. The ignorant may prefer domination to anarchy, but neither the ignorant nor the deceivers can control your thoughts - unless you let them.


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