Category Archives: Ruin Your Lifestyle

Book Review: The Moneyless Man: A Year of Freeconomic Living By Mark Boyle

What would you do if you had no money? The obvious answer is ‘get money’. But what if you couldn’t get money or more specifically didn’t want to get money. Welcome to the world of Mark Boyle. In The Moneyless Man: A Year of Freeconomic Living, Mark Boyle puts his mouth where his money used to be.

It’s easy to think of life without enough money. For most of us, that life IS our life. But trying to think of life without money at all is actually somewhat difficult. If you need food, you can go to the store or you can go to McDonalds. If you need food but you have no money and refuse to take charity in the form of money or friends giving you stuff, this simple need becomes a bit of an adventure. What do you do? You can grow some of your own food if there is a community garden they’ll let you use. You can go dumpster diving or ask local businesses if they’re throwing anything out. You can forage in the forest. The thing that this book illustrates time and again is that there are options without money.

It begins with a fantastic and simple description of finances, banking and debt. He explains clearly how he’s not against the concept of money exactly. He’s against debt. He’s against what world currencies have created. He’s against financial institutions that only exist to make rich people richer. Some protest these people who seem to have rigged the system. Mark Boyle makes an interesting choice by walking away from the game entirely.

It would be easy to pick this book apart if I wanted to. I could point out how much stuff he got simply because he was lucky. (Not everyone who reads the book is going to be able to put a donated trailer on a community garden and live rent free.) Or I could say that he violates his own rules again and again. I mean he goes on about how he doesn’t like to eat animals and doesn’t want to use cars because of big oil companies and whatnot, but he still has a cell phone and a laptop. However, none of that really matters. This isn’t a book about living like a monk. It’s about what’s possible even without money.

This isn’t new thinking. In fact it’s very old thinking. The idea of trading and bartering for goods and services is as old as humanity. I think that’s why it’s so appealing.

For me, the problem is that I am really nothing like Mark Boyle. Towards the end he says, “We cannot have fast cars, computers the size of credit cards, and modern conveniences, while simultaneously having clean air, abundant rainforests, fresh drinking water, and a stable climate.” I disagree with this. I think that science and technology are the problem and the solution. I think that technology can make things easier and better. The problem isn’t so much the technology and science as it is the profit.

There was an interview with a record executive that I can’t find now. In it, the executive talked about how it used to be that you’d find a band. You’d help them create a voice. You’d help them create an album and a sound. You’d help them tour. And you’d help them work on their next album. You’d let their career be your career. Now though, most record executives don’t care. They find someone they can make one number one hit with, they push that as hard as they can and make a million damn dollars and they’re done. It’s fine for business to be about money. It should be. But it should be about more than just money. It’s the WalMart-ization of the world. Price and profit over quality and innovation. This is where our real problem lies.

– Jack Cameron

On The Comeback

Gillette Fusion Razor“They ain’t curing AIDS. Shit, they ain’t
never curing AIDS. Don’t even think about
that shit. They ain’t curing it, ’cause
there ain’t no money in the cure. The money’s
in the medicine. That’s how you get paid, on
the comeback. That’s how a drug dealer makes
his money, on the comeback.”
– Chris Rock, Bigger & Blacker

One of the things I want to point out in this series of articles is how companies manage to give you less for more. The funny part about this is that they will usually do this in the name of advancement or convenience. And sometimes this is true. However, most of the time, it’s an excuse to make you buy something more expensive that is less permanent. Making money ‘on the come back’ isn’t just a game the pharmaceutical companies play, it’s played everywhere.

Razors are a perfect example of this. My grandfather and yours too probably shaved with a shaving kit. It consisted of shaving cream, a small bowl with which to mix the cream, a  brush with which to exfoliate the skin and apply the cream and a safety razor with refillable blades that only cost pennies.

Now you’re expected to buy something like the Gillette Fusion Proglide. You can buy this for eight bucks, which doesn’t seem too bad. But then you have to buy the refillable cartridges. Over at Amazon you can buy an 8-pack for just under thirty bucks, which works out to about $3.75 a razor. So let’s say you shave every three days and that each razor can be used three times. So that works out to $3.75 every nine days. That’s about 40 razors or $150 a year. And that’s not including shaving cream.

So what’s the alternative? Over at ClassicShaving.com you can purchase the Complete Celtic Shaving Kit for $99.99. It includes a stylish shaving mug, a high quality badger brush, a double edged, closed comb safety razor and ten blades. And you can buy thirty more for $18. (Three packs of six.)  Even with purchasing new equipment, you’re still over thirty bucks ahead. Safety razors last for years. So in year two, Gillette guy is still spending $150 a year. Whereas the Classic Shaving guy is spending $24 a year or $6 per ten-pack. The bottom line is, even in today’s world, your grandfather had the right idea.

This is just one example of how companies have encouraged our disposable society. Other examples are things like mops. It used to be that you owned a mop. You had a bucket. You put soapy water in the bucket, you soaked the mop and you mopped your floor. All you had to buy was soap. Mops lasted for years. You can buy a good mop over at Amazon for twelve bucks. Now, they want you to buy a Swiffer WetJet for twenty bucks and refills for six bucks per twelve-pack.

This reverting back to the old way of doing things isn’t always best. You won’t see me telling you to turn in your iPod for a record player. However, the idea that you need to shave in five minutes with four blades or that your floor has to be clean to CDC standards is absurd. For starters, shaving can actually be enjoyable if you don’t rush it and take your time. And exposure to a reasonable amount of germs is what keeps your immune system working. A freshly mopped floor never killed anyone..unless they slipped on it.

My point is that there are hundreds of examples like this. The thing to remember is that unless your money is disposable, you shouldn’t be buying disposable items. There are often cost effective alternatives that last longer and are of better quality.

I’m not interested in showing you how to live like you’re poor. That’s not what this is about. It’s about living well with what you have, even if you don’t have much. This is important because the big companies are actually more afraid than you are. They’ve kicked their profit lusting into high gear and they don’t care who they hurt along the way. Netflix just lost 800,000 customers, but it doesn’t matter to them because they also just increased their profits 65%.  McDonald’s just announced they’re increasing their prices. Of course they made sure that announcement was drowned out by the return of the McRib.

If we’re going to get through this without falling into poverty, we’re going to need to help each other. The one thing we can still share is information. That’s what this is about. That’s why I’m putting this online and not in a book. My hope is that these posts will become a conversation. Share it with your friends. Comment below if you’ve got other ideas that relate to this.

Thanks for reading.

-Jack Cameron

There Is No Conspiracy

In Las Vegas they thought that maybe having drunk people near naked women was a bad idea. So they made a law that strip clubs could not serve alcohol if the strippers were going to get totally naked. Then someone pointed out that it wasn’t right that women under the age of 21, who could not legally drink, should work in strip clubs where alcohol is served. The result is that if you’re in a strip club in Vegas and the girl gets totally naked, odds are she’s under 21.

A conspiracy nut might say that this was some lawmaker’s elaborate way to get 18 year olds to take it all off, rather than working in a topless club. Of course this isn’t true. This is just a combination of events resulting in a certain consequence. Before I go too far into what I see happening with this country or the world, I want to be clear that as much as I love conspiracies, I don’t believe in a gigantic conspiracy to destroy the Middle Class. I believe there are groups and individuals who see profit in activities that may result in the Middle Class having difficulty maintaining their lifestyle.

The purpose of these posts is to point out things I believe are part of the problem. These are both overt and coincidental things that cause people to spend more money for less. I’m also going to try to provide alternatives and solutions to these things. Unlike a lot of my projects, I haven’t planned this one out, so I can’t tell you what’s all going to show up here or where we’re going from here.

I am currently making more money than I’ve ever made before and yet I’m still struggling to make my bills every month. I don’t think I’m alone in this. And I don’t think I’m alone in thinking this isn’t how it should be. I only have so much control over how much money I make, but I have complete control on how to make my life and standard of living better than it is.  And while I’m doing it, I think it makes sense to show you as well. Because I’ll tell you the first way that a country without the Middle Class works: we share. We stop worrying about if I believe in the same political party or same God as you. Instead, let’s recognize that odds are, regardless of who you are or what life you’ve made for yourself, you’d like to know how to survive with less. Just in case.

The truth is that they are not out to get us. There is no big conspiracy. The Powers That Be do not care about you. Ask the people of New Orleans about Katrina if you don’t believe that to be true. Hopefully we’ll both learn a thing or two. And hopefully, we’ll have fun while we’re doing it.

I’m always interested in your input. Comment below or write me at jackcameronis@gmail.com

One last thing, if you like what you read here, please share it. I’m not spending any time marketing this site. So people who find it are likely friends or friends of friends.

–          Jack Cameron

Middle Class Warfare or Ruin Your Lifestyle

I’m always running scenarios in my head. I’ll take the information I have and try to figure out where it’s going or at least of where it could go. It’s how I write fiction. I just take one or two blocks of information and then figure out what the most interesting third block might be. What if? I’m always looking at Step 3.
 
So I’ve been gathering various pieces of information and I’m beginning to build a picture of a possible future. I’m not the first to do this and I’m not sure that anything I’m saying is going to be all the revealing. But I do find it interesting.
 
Let’s put together information and see where it leads us.
– Post 9/11 paranoia has resulted in invasive and previously illegal   intrusions into our lives.
– Social networking has essentially made everyone online into their own personal brand.

– Between GPS enabled smart phones, RFID tagged passports and driver’s licenses, ‘Hot Lane’  passes and other devices, finding individual people and their current location has become easier than ever before.

Unmanned weaponized aircraft (UAVs) have become both inexpensive and easy to use and have been used recent weeks to kill alleged terrorists who also happened to be American citizens.

Facial recognition software literally getting better every day.

– CCS International, a security company, estimated that the average person in Manhattan was photographed 73 to 75 times a day and that number is going up.

–  Cash is quickly becoming the least used form of currency. Debit and Credit cards are becoming more and more popular and are instantaneously tracked online.

– Media outlets are doing less true investigative journalism than ever before.

– The authorities are regularly arresting people for ‘terror plots’ that had little to no chance of ever actually getting off the ground except that undercover agents provided the means in order to arrest them.

–  The national and global economy is quickly becoming the Rich and the Poor. The Middle Class American is disappearing and it’s happening fast.

Healthcare in America is getting more and more expensive. At a recent Republican debate when it was suggested an uninsured person be left to die, the crowd CHEERED.

–  Laws are being passed to make DNA sampling part of being arrested.
– People at protests are being arrested, often on no real charges.

– There is a push to make voting paperless, making fraud easier than ever.
 
Okay, I think that’s enough stuff to work with for now. And I think it paints a fairly clear picture. What it says to me is a handful of things.
1.       If the Powers That Be really wanted to, they could probably find you and kill you fairly easily and chalk it up to a victory for the War On Terror. Or at the very least, they can throw you in prison and once you’re part of that system, any ex-con will tell you it’s difficult to get out. On top of that, no one outside of your social circle would know or care.

2.       If you are the sort who wants to fight against the system, the first things you’re going to want to do is get rid of your cell phone, your credit cards, your bank accounts, your social networking profiles, your email accounts and anything else that can be used to identify and track you because, well, see point number one.

3.       If you don’t have at least a few hundred thousand dollars a year coming in, then you shouldn’t expect your life to be very comfortable for the foreseeable future unless you get very creative.

4.       The time to fight what’s happening is at least 10 years ago. Probably 20 or 30. Fighting the power at this time is potentially dangerous and you’re going to want more than a slogan and a sign to do so.

5.        As things get worse, people will get more and more desperate. This applies both to the rich and the poor. Prices for common items will continue to rise, making the middle class standard of living less and less, but not really causing any problems for the rich as the increased prices give them more money in the end.

6.       It would be easier to become one of the rich than it would be to actually change things because the money involved and the resources that money provides makes thwarting any attempt to change things comparatively easy.

7.       If you don’t have a legitimate job with a company, you’re likely to go to prison for whatever you’re doing which will make companies that own the prisons more money. One way or another you’re going to feed the corporate machine.

8.       Unless you’re one of the rich, you’re going to want to figure out what you can live with and what you can’t and minimize your spending as much as you possibly can because it’s only going to get tougher until the Middle Class no longer exists.
 
 
So there are a few of the thoughts I have on what’s going on in our world today. There are more pieces of relevant information and more possibilities with that information. I’d love to start talking about a solution, but I’m still working on that part. I’m still thinking.
 
What now? There are those like the Occupy Wall Street people who have quite literally taken to the streets. This is understandable. But I don’t know that it’s going to help. I’m not sure there’s help to be had.
 
I’m not saying we should give up on changing things. America has a long history of fighting the odds and making good things happen. And maybe the Occupy Wall Street protestors will be the beginning of a revolution, but even in a best case scenario, that’s going to take many years.
 
There are plenty of sites on how best to mount your protest or any other sort of activism you might want to do or be into. But if you’re going to be one of the people who creates true change, you’re going to have to make it your full time life and most of us have jobs and lives. So instead, I think I’d like to write about how to live in America if you don’t have a million dollars and you find yourself with less and less every year.
 
I’ll be posting more about this later. (Along with other unrelated stuff because we still have to keep this site a little fun.)  I’m interested in your thoughts on all of this. Feel free to comment below or email me at jackcameronis@gmail.com