June 24 (Saturday)

What are you?
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Introduction

The fourth article in this series introduced us to people. Of course, the most special person in the world is you, but what are you?

Lifetags Word Cloud

Biologists classify humans as primates, most closely related to apes and distantly related to birds, reptiles and even extinct trilobites. While many species are subdivided into subspecies, humans are typically grouped into various races.

Actually, I’m not sure what the scientific consensus on human subdivisions are. Designating an isolated group of humans a subspecies would be a political disaster. Most people simply don’t understand biology and the word subspecies unfortunately has a negative connotation.

However, social scientists have brainstormed many strategies for classifying people, some of which are controversial (notably race). Nevertheless, your classification is hardly trivial; it will shape your life from cradle to grave. While some people are born with a proverbial silver spoon in their mouth, others are condemned to lives of misery, all because they were born into a certain category.

However, that doesn’t mean you have no control over your destiny. Simply understanding the categories into which you’ve been pigeonholed can help empower you to improve your life.

LifeTags

Before we continue, let’s find a better term for these categories than “categories,” which sounds a little lame. In fact, I’m not aware of a single really good term that works.

So let’s coin a new word, lifetag. A lifetag is one of several prominent traits, either inherited or acquired, that have an enormous influence on your quality of life, often for your entire life. Once you’ve been “tagged” with one of these traits, it will either lift you up or drag you down, depending largely on where you live and on your PQ — another new term we’ll learn about shortly.

So let’s take a quick look at ten of the most important sociopolitical categories...er, lifetags...which we can organize into three categories as follows:

1. Biological (race, gender and age) — You have very little control over these lifetags because they’re determined by your genes.
2. Inherited (ethnic group, nationality and income class) — You have some control over these lifetags, but changing them is generally very difficult.
3. Acquired (religion, education, political orientation and PQ) — Religion and political orientations are often learned at an early age, but they’re sometimes relatively easy to change.

Biological LifeTags

For all practical purposes, you can’t change your race, gender or age because they’re hard-wired in your genes.

Of course, some people do undergo surgery to change their appearance, making them look whiter or younger, for example. A very few even go through sex-change operations. But most people couldn’t afford such medical procedures even if they wanted to alter their appearance. And age eventually catches up with all of us.

These first three lifetags can be easily remembered with the acronym RAG. If you fall into the wrong lifetag categories — that is, the categories that are exploited by the ruling class — you can expect to be dressed in rags, very likely for your entire life. On the other hand, you may have a very easy life if your father is a white Congressman or a Jewish banker.

1. Race

Race

In many countries, light-skinned people tend to be treated better than dark-skinned people. This is likely a legacy of the colonial era, when white Europeans ruled much of the world. Some question whether the colonial era has really ended.

One’s ethnic group or linguistic group can also be very important. Even light-skinned Hispanics have long been discriminated against in the United states.

In the United States, the white majority have long discriminated against Native Americans, blacks (primarily African Americans), Hispanics or Latinos and Asian Americans. In fact, whites still hold most of the power, even as minorities become more numerous. Obama was the first black (or half black) U.S. president, though he’s widely recognized as an “Uncle Tom” — a member of a minority who sells out his own people for favors received from the ruling class.

2. Gender

Gender

Though every society is different, women generally face far more obstacles in the work place and the political arena than men to. Women are typically paid less and are less likely to be given promotions. They are often sexually harassed. In some societies, women aren’t even allowed to attend school. On the other hand, women don’t have to serve in the military in many countries.

Almost every member of the U.S. Congress and Supreme Court is a male. Come to think of it, it’s hard to think of many prominent female political activists.

3. Age

Age

Though women are often described as the weaker sex, children are weaker still. It’s shocking to learn about the extent to which children have been cruelly exploited through the ages. Even today, children are afflicted by gentrification (a polite word for ethnic cleansing), poverty and corporatized education even in Seattle, which promotes itself as a progressive city.

Older people are also discriminated against for a number of reasons. Older people generally command higher salaries as their annual pay raises accrue. They are also more likely to experience health problems. Thus, many employers value younger employees simply because they don’t cost as much.

Employers may also be leery of older people because they are often more politically savvy. Less experienced employees are less likely to question corruption or incompetence.

Are you old enough to vote? In some countries, young men (and sometimes women) may be called on to serve in the military even before they’re old enough to vote. Of course, children usually don’t serve in the military, though they may be required to go to school. In many countries, old people receive special assistance from the government or other institutions.

Inherited LifeTags

You have no control over the ethnic group, nation and income class you’re born into. However, it is possible to change all three, though it can be very difficult.

4. Ethnic Group

Ethnic Group

An ethnic group is a category of people who identify with each other based on common ancestral, social, cultural or national experience. Members of an ethnic group tend to share a common ancestry, cultural heritage, origin myth, history, homeland, language and often belief system or ideology. They advertise their cultural identify through symbolic systems as physical appearance, dressing style, cuisine, religion, mythology and ritual.

Switzerland is divided into four primary ethnic groups based on language (ethnolinguistic groups) — Germanic, French, Italian, and Rhaeto-Romansh. The United States is far more diverse, but there is also enormous pressure to conform. Thus, English is the primary language, though Spanish is popular in some areas. Canada is officially bilingual, embracing English and French.

Some ethnic groups face a bigger problem — survival. The most publicized genocide by far is the Holocaust, a name popularly applied to the persecution of Jews by Adolf Hitler and his followers during World War II. However, some believe the Holocaust was payback for Jewish exploitation of Germany.

Ironically, Jews have been blamed by some for the Armenian holocaust, which occurred during and after World War I. (Turkey and Israel both refuse to recognize the Armenian holocaust.) Some also believe there was Jewish influence behind the Kurdish genocide conducted by Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein, beginning in the 1960s. Hussein killed many Kurds with chemical agents obtained from the U.S., Israel’s strongest ally.

In the meantime, the biggest holocaust in world history may be the Native American Holocaust, which began after the Americas were discovered by Christopher Columbus (who many scholars believe was a Jew) in 1492 and continues even today. Entire Native American tribes have been exterminated, and many unique cultures have been largely wiped out.

5. Nationality

Nationality

Would you rather live in communist Cuba or capitalist Haiti or Honduras?

Long exploited by France and the U.S., Haiti is one of the poorest and most oppressed countries in the world. In 2015, Honduras had the world’s highest murder rate, the legacy of a military coup supported by the U.S. Though poor (largely because of a U.S. embargo), Cuba boasts an amazingly high literacy rate, and its health care is world renowned. There are more homeless people sleeping on sidewalks in Seattle than in all of Cuba.

Liberated Libya

Under Muammar Gaddafi, Libya boasted perhaps the highest standard of living in Africa. People from other countries flocked to Libya in search of work and a better life. But you were smart if you didn’t move there, because NATO, led by Obama, destroyed Libya. Today, the country’s main export is refugees.

Fortunately, the U.S. never succeeded in liberating Cuba.

Still, most people would probably prefer to live in the United States, warts and all. Then again, some of the millions of U.S. citizens living in poverty might prefer life in Cuba.

Nationality obviously plays a major role in determining one’s quality of life. Fortunately, it’s possible to change one’s nationality.

However, it’s usually a difficult process involving lots of legal paper work. Some countries may not accept immigrants, and most screen out certain types of people; they may not accept you unless you meet certain financial or educational guidelines, for example.

Conversely, some countries don’t allow their citizens to leave. The only way to change one’s nationality in such cases is to sneak out of the country, often at great risk.

6. Income Class

Social scientists commonly classify people into one of three broad classes based primarily on how much money they have. Rich people belong to the upper class, poor to the lower class. Everyone else belongs to the middle class.

Income classes In the U.S., the middle class is rapidly shrinking even as Bill Gates’ fortune skyrockets.

In most Western nations (e.g. the U.S., Canada, Europe, Australia, etc.), most rich people are white and well educated, while minorities tend to be better represented among the poor. The goal of socialism (which we’ll learn about shortly) is to level the playing field by helping the people who are typically exploited by the rich. In fact, the goal of some socialist states is a classless society where no one is extremely rich or poor.

Countries with capitalist economic systems are commonly judged healthy if they have three distinct classes, with the lower class preferably small. As corporate corruption increases, the gulf between the upper and lower classes typically increases, with the middle class sometimes disappearing.

Where is the success of capitalism in Africa, Asia and Latin America?
Fidel Castro

Under presidents George W. Bush and Obama, the middle class in the U.S. has been in sharp decline as the rich get richer and the poor get both poorer and more numerous. Many observers have noted that almost every member of Congress is a wealthy white male, many of them millionaires.

In fact, most capitalist countries around the world have long been mired in poverty. Ironically, the U.S. is becoming increasingly similar to the third world countries it has long exploited.

Global Elitists

The gulf between the rich and poor in the U.S. and the world in general is now so enormous, the traditional three-class system sometimes seems absurd. How can you compare Bill Gates — worth $80 billion or more in 2015 — to the homeless people who sleep on sidewalks not far from the headquarters of the Gates Foundation in Seattle? It’s said that the 100 richest people in the world now (2016) have as much money as half the global population.

Since money is a source of power, the richest people generally have the most power. In fact, it’s widely believed that the world is run by a cabal of obscenely rich people, sometimes referred to as global elitists.

It’s important to remember that being rich is not a crime. It is possible to make a lot of money fair and square — in some countries, at least.

But we must also remember that money has a powerful tendency to corrupt people. In that spirit, we might ask if there’s a single billionaire who is not corrupt. Acquiring one billion dollars is an amazing feat for any individual, and multi-billionaires like Microsoft founders Bill Gates and Paul Allen almost invariably have closets full of skeletons.

Acquired LifeTags

Many, if not most, people identify with whatever religion and political orientation they were born into. Thus, residents of Alabama and other Southern states tend to be Christian Republicans, while Californians are more likely to be Christian, agnostic or atheist Democrats. If you were born in Iran or Bhutan, you’re probably a Muslim or Buddhist, respectively. Nevertheless, many people do modify their religious and political views as they grow older. It isn’t unusual for people to completely change their views based on their life experiences.

You can’t really inherit education, though your success in school will probably depend largely on your income class and other lifetags. You probably won’t have a clue about politix until after you’ve graduated from college.

These are the least obvious lifetags. The government and corporate interests have access to your test scores, and you may have filled out suveys or online forms that asked about your religious preference. But no one can know about your acquired lifetags by simply looking at you, unless you give them some obvious clues.

7. Education

Education

A positive attitude and physical fitness are very important attributes. But when it comes to finding a good job or career, nothing beats a good education in the long run.

Some would argue that connections are even more important. In other words, it’s important to know the right people. But if you weren’t born into a rich, powerful and well-connected family and you aren’t willing to lie, cheat and break people’s legs, then you need a good education.

If you live in a country that has a good education system, consider yourself lucky. But what about college? Is it free in your country? If not, can you afford it?

Some countries actually work to corrupt education, apparently because uneducated people are easier to control. That’s one reason the U.S. — where schools are widely believed to deliberately “dumb down” students — has a lower literacy rate than Cuba.

Most U.S. citizens are poorly educated, heavily brainwashed and subjected to a lot of stress to boot. Mental orders are a far bigger problem in the U.S. than most people realize.

8. Religion

Nationality

The importance of religion to your quality of life depends largely on where you live. If you’re a Muslim living in Palestine, a country increasingly taken over by Israeli Jews, you may live in constant fear for your life. In fact, the U.S., Israel and their allies are murdering Muslims in a number of countries. Ironically, it’s much safer for Muslims in the U.S., though they also face persecution there.

In fact, the U.S. is relatively tolerant regarding religion, with many people openly declaring themselves agnostics (or “spiritual”) or atheists. Yet religion is an extremely powerful force in U.S. politics.

Religion has been an extremely potent political force around the world and through the ages. Just think of the Crusades, which saw European Christians invade the Middle East over and over, or the Spanish Inquisition. Think about the countless Native Americans who were forced to convert to Christianity.

U.S. President George W. Bush exploited religion with a vengeance. And who can figure out Obama, who declared himself a Muslim (even as he tortured and murders Muslims by the thousands), but later said he’s a Jew at heart?

9. Political Leaning

Political Orientation

The political scene in the U.S. has become increasingly vicious. If you’re a liberal, a Muslim or an ethnic minority, prepare to be verbally assaulted by right-wingers. If you’re politically outspoken, you may even receive threats.

President John F. Kennedy, his brother Robert F. “Bobby” Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and singer/songwriter John Lennon were all assassinated, and they were all likely politically motivated.

But few ordinary U.S. citizens are murdered simply because they’re liberal, Democrat or Republican — unless these murders are simply covered up.

Nevertheless, political persecution in the U.S. is surprisingly common. It’s no secret that the government spies on us, monitoring phone calls and e-mail. There are people who can keep track of the websites you visit and the books you purchase or check out from a local library. In the future, you may even be monitored by the drones that are being adopted by law enforcement agencies across the country. Of course, surveillance cameras have been around for years.

The people who are most likely to be spied on are those who are perceived as a threat to the ruling class. Thus, an outspoken activist or a member of a group like the Black Panthers or American Indian Movement (AIM) is more likely to be spied on than someone who steals money from taxpayers or contributes money to the Republican Party.

But what does the government do besides spy on people? The U.S. currently has more citizens in prison than any other country. Many of them are political dissidents, and many of them are tortured, largely through solitary confinement. One of the most prominent examples is Leonard Peltier, an AIM member who was convicted of murdering an FBI agent during a very questionable trial.

How many people are fired because of their political orientation but told they’re being fired for another reason? How many people don’t get certain jobs because of their political beliefs? How many actors don’t get juicy roles in movies because of politics?

Conversely, how many people are hired or promoted because of their political beliefs? Does the success of actors like Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie and Sean Penn have anything to do with the fact that they support Israel? (Hollywood has long been controlled by Jews.)

Sadly, such questions can’t be answered with any accuracy for one simple reason: nobody knows, except the people who do the hiring and promoting.

Other Countries

The situation is even worse in some other countries, incuding countries controlled by the U.S. In some countries, people are commonly murdered for their political beliefs. Activists and journalists who merely blow the whistle on corrupt corporations and labor unions have been assassinated in a number of Latin American countries, for example.

The U.S. government itself has tried to assassinate Fidel Castro on many occasions. It succeeded in assassinating Muammar Gaddafi, who was perhaps Africa’s best hope. Many people believe Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was assassinated by the U.S. or Israel, whose capacity for biochemical warfare is growing rapidly.

The U.S. has destabilized many countries around the world, from Argentina to the Ukraine. But the countries that fare the worst are those that are invaded by the U.S. military, which probably killed over a million people during the Cold War and has killed over a million more in Iraq alone.

On the other hand, there are some countries that are relatively safe to live in. Cuba has some relatively strict rules, but it has far fewer people per capita in prison than the U.S. You don’t hear about Cuban police callously murdering innocent people as they routinely do in the U.S. And the worst torture in Cuba is conducted by the U.S. military at the infamous Guantanamo naval base.

10. PQ

PQ

You probably known what the abbreviation IQ means. It stands for “intelligence quotient,” which is a measurement of a person’s intelligence. It inspired the term EQ (“emotional quotient”), a reference to one’s emotional maturity.

The problem with IQ is that it’s rather rigid. It may measure your problem solving skills, but it focuses largely on math problems and perhaps some simple logic problems. But what about independent thinking skills?

Bill Gates reportedly has a high IQ, and he certainly knows a lot about computer science and software design. But Gates demonstrates an amazing ignorance of the many sociopolitical issues he claims to care about. From education to health care to the environment, Bill Gates is a dummy, as proved by his track record; he has actually helped ruin some of the finest schools in his home town, Seattle, for example. Even more astonishing, Gates has virtually nothing to say about war or corporate-political corruption, two of the biggest sociopolitical issues swirling all around us.

To put it in perspective, a high IQ can help you get good grades, which will help you get a good job, hopefully one that earns you a lot of money. But a high PQ can help you make choices that will help you save money and get the most out of your money. It can help protect you from corrupt politicians, corporate criminals, fascist police and pollution.

Of the ten lifetags listed above, PQ is the most independent. No one is born with a PQ, and very few people develop even a rudimentary PQ until after they graduate from high school. Probably less than 1% of U.S. citizens have a high PQ.

Congratulations!