The 10 Commandments of the American Religion

If I stand in the center of Times Square New York City and said something like “Moses didn’t part the Red Sea” or “Jesus never existed” everyone would just keep walking around me, ignoring what I said, etc. Whatever, they would be thinking, I have things to do, very important things that have to get done. And this guy is clearly crazy so not worth my time.

But if I stood there and said, “going to college is the worst sin you can force your kids to commit”, or “you should never vote again” or “World War II was not a holy war” or “never own a home again”, I would probably be lynched on the spot.

The American Religion is a fickle  and false religion. Used to replace the ideologies we (a country of immigrants) escaped from with tenets that don’t withstand the test of time. With random high priests lurking all over the Internet, ready to pounce. Below are some of the tenets of the American Religion. If you think there are more, list them in the comments.

For me: I’m not religious. I want to be happy. Every day I want to do things that increase the odds of my happiness and quality of life. Every day I want to do things that reduce the obstacles to my happiness. That’s it. Nothing more.

The Ten Commandments of the American Religion

-#1          Own a Home. The American Religion wants you to have a home with a white picket fence. Why would the high priests of the American religion want that?

  • So then you owe the banks money for 30 years or more (after second, third, fourth mortgages). The banks need to borrow from your checking account at 0.5% and then lend right back to you at 8%. That’s how they make money and its one of the largest industries in the country.
  • So you are not flexible as to where you can move. The job market is ruled by supply and demand. Supply of jobs in an area is finite. So they want to make sure you can’t move so quickly so that demand only goes up (you can’t move and more and more people hit the age of 18 or higher)
  • Note that many people equate owning a home with “having roots”. Its as if owning a home connects you in some immortal way with the 3 billion year old planet. Your roots are now connected to it. It’s linking “home ownership” with the “fear of death” that every religion attempts to assuage (through “heaven”, “reincarnation”, etc).
  • [See, Why I would Rather Shoot Myself In the head than Ever Own a Home Again.]

– #2         Go to college. There’s the myth that going to college leads to “a better life” or a “promised future”. Almost like how the contract Abraham had with God would lead to Judaism being a group of “chosen people”.  A couple of points:

  • Statistically, there’s no proof that smart, ambitious, aggressive people, won’t benefit enormously from a five year head start against their peers who choose to spend five years doing homework and drinking beer and going to frat parties. (don’t quote me the stat about the differences in salaries between college grads and non-college grads because there’s enormous selection bias in that stat and its like comparing apples and oranges right now).
  • The government needs to pay off $74 trillion in Social Security in the next 50 years. They have to make money somehow so student loan debt is now higher than credit card debt for the first time in 50 years. Imagine that, we send our young, fresh, children off to college and then 5 years later (5 years is average time spent in college by those who GRADUATE) they come out owing the government $100,000+. Thank god the government gets to exploit our kids so they can pay off the promises they made under Lyndon Johnson during the Vietnam War.
  • There are so many exciting alternatives to college. I list some of them here. I’m excited for my children, because I hope they have experiences that will change their lives forever rather than sending them into the rat race so they can end up ignorant, in debt, and working at nonsense jobs so they can pay off the gangsters who have guns pointed right at their heads.
  • One anecdote: the guy who caught Derek Jeter’s 3000th hit. He was a young man in the stadium. He’s a salesclerk at Verizon. I have nothing against that job. Anyone can do what they want. But he also has $150,000 in student loans to pay back. Why couldn’t he get a better job with his college degree? Why did he just give Jeter his ball back. Jeter is going to make $100 million in the next few years. This guy could’ve paid his loans back and been free. Freedom is everything. He wanted to be a “good guy”.
  • The American Religion needs you to be in debt. Needs you to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to read the same Plato you could’ve read in the bathroom at your local library. “You’ll have a better life”. “life is secure now”. Yes, you are fully secured by the shackles they hand you on graduation day.
  • [See, Living Life Is Better than Dying in College]

– #3         Holy Wars. Everyone argued with me in my post about “Name me a war that was worth it”. Apparently some wars are “holy” and can’t be argued against. All I want is to prevent 18 year old kids from dying. That’s the basis of my argument. We can argue all the history we want after that. No matter what the war is, I will never send my 18 year olds off to war. I’d rather go in their place if there was a forced draft.

We can all agree Vietnam was no good. Korea was probably no good. Iraq was no good. But are other wars “holy” and justified. When other countries (UK, for instance) released their slaves in 1833 we had to fight a war to release the slaves. And note that the slaves weren’t released until 1862, when Lincoln, who could care less about them, was afraid we were going to lose the Civil War, a war fought over whether or not the North could still control the tariffs of the Southern cotton when the Southern states seceded (as was their right). And if we had never fought the Revolutionary War (a war fought over Sam Adams’ taxes) Britain would’ve set aside money to buy out all of the US slaves in 1833. Both wars were senseless. And what about WW II? Time had Hitler as “Man of the Year” in 1938. What a bunch of fools we were and still are.

No matter what the argument is: don’t send 18 year old children to their death. If you want to fight a war, go yourself and fight it, or be willing to admit you would fight it at the age of 40.

 

(no good. the actual caption of what happened here is too horrible to think about)

-#4          The US Constitution. There’s no document more sacred (as it should be) in the American Religion. And yet, just like the principles of the Bible are often forgotten by its highest adherents, ditto goes twice over for the US constitution. For instance, who has the power to declare war? The House of Representatives according to the Constitution. The House hasn’t declared war on anyone since 1941. The US Constitution is HOLY HOLY HOLY in the American Religion. Until those moments when we break the rules. Then everyone looks the other way. “We had to do it that way”, is the common refrain. “To protect our way of life.” Someone is always protecting me and my way of life. I’m fine thank you.

[See my post: July 4 is a Scam]

 

#5          Charity. Because the American religion, unlike most religions, doesn’t have a strict code of ethics giving to charity is often considered the sign of a “good person”. A couple of points on that.

  • Giving to charity costs money. So the best people in the American Religion then are the ones who have the most money to give.
  • Volunteering is more and more difficult for people who have to pay back student loans and exorbitant home loans. Good luck volunteering when your children need to be fed or when you are an indentured servant thanks for your advanced learning in the ivory tower.
  • Let’s go over the math of every dollar you spend on charity. When you give $100 to a major charity, most of that goes into the bank. They then invest the money. On the interest they make on their investments, a percentage of that money goes to actual charity, another percentage goes to salaries. So for every dollar you give to charity, about 2 cents a year, give or take, goes to the actual charitable cause you wanted to support. Now lets break that down even further. How many charities have executives making over $500,000 a year. A lot. And lets say it’s a medical charity. Now most of the money is going towards drugs that costs billions of dollars to approve. See the next point.
  • [See my post: A Better Way to Donate to Charity]

–  #6        The Food & Drug Administration. What is this organization? Is it in the constitution? Does it do any good? The FDA requires that drugs go through trials to prove their safety and effectiveness. That sounds good right? Before you give an 80 year old man a drug for cancer lets make sure it doesn’t kill him. Meanwhile lets send 18 year olds off to wars that the Constitution hasn’t approved of since 1941.

It costs billions of dollars to build those trials and the FDA can shut you down at any point. Companies raise those billions from charities and from individual investors, who usually lose all of their money when the FDA shuts down a trial.  But whats the solution?

Well, we have the internet now. We have social media. We have “word of mouth” on steroids. That’s what technology and innovation is for. Lets get the drugs out there. We can all see what scientists worked on them and what their backgrounds are, we can all read the patents, we can read real-life experiences from people using the drug. The Internet will conduct “virtual trials”. Will people die? Yeah, but people die in FDA trials also. Will more lives be saved? Of course! Many drug companies just give up (they can’t raise the money even if their drugs are miracle drugs). Now they can get those drugs out there and we can really see. I want the FDA out of my body and let me ingest whatever I want, particularly if I have a terminal disease.

–  #7        Voting. When I wrote the other day that I don’t vote I got quite a bit of violent email. That I was somehow ruining the country. Really? I live in New York. So I know my vote is meaningless no matter which way I vote. And I’m tired voting for congressmen who supposedly represent my interests but then make deals with lobbyists, other congressmen, for bridges to nowhere, and then gets hired as vice chairman of Goldman Sachs after he “retires” after years of government service. I’m fine representing my own interests and I’d rather vote directly on issues.

Why can’t I just vote on the Internet? I can read all about the issues there. I can vote directly on bills, presidents, wars, drugs, whatever I want. If I can vote directly on issues, instead of sending a “representative” in my place, the costs of lobbying will go from the millions to the billions. Maybe things would actually get done in this country. In the article below I explain why all the initial reasons for the legislative branch of congress (as it stands now) are obsolete. And the beauty of the US Constitution is that it can change.

[See my post, Politics is a Scam – Why I Will Never Vote Again]

–   #8       Political parties. We’ve basically had 2 parties for the past 200 years. With occasional offshoots. I don’t believe in any parties. Even tea parties, libertarians, democrats, republicans, etc. It’s all ways for a select few to push through an agenda that is going to change constantly over the years anyway. This is not a new opinion. Most people hate the two-party system. So let’s change it.

Again, with the Internet, I’d rather be a one-man party and just vote for what I want on every issue. I’m perfectly willing to read about the issues of the day and vote directly. I don’t need to have my congressman represent me. How many ethics scandals are going on in Washington DC right now? And, how many should be going on that we don’t even know about? I’ll tell you how much: A LOT. How do I know? I know.

–   #9      The media is the “Fourth Branch”. There’s this weird idea that’s developed over the past fifty years (enouraged by the success of Robert Redford playing Bob Woodward in “All The President’s Men”) that the media is somehow a “check” on the other three branches of government. This is ridiculous but people still don’t get it.

A few months ago everyone was getting panicked that radiation from Japan was going to get washed up on the shores of San Francisco. Did that happen? Of course not. But the media doesn’t apologize for the thousands of people who got sick taking iodine pills, or who spent weeks away from supposedly radioactive areas.

Then last week was the whole “debt ceiling scare” and will “America default”. Every week there is a new fear. I obviously don’t think the media should be shut down. But there certainly should be a greater sense of responsibility than simply scaring the hell out of people with a new topic every. single. week. I am so bored of the “fear of the week”. I’d rather watch Snooki all day long then another “fear of the week” analysis from the pseudo-experts who are desperate for screen time.

[See, “How Snooki Can Help Stop Violent and Sex-Crazed Children”]

 

–    #10      The Frontier. My kid has to read about “Lewis And Clark” this summer as she prepares to go into the fourth grade. The “frontier” is a very beautiful, almost spiritual concept. The idea that we can always expand, always improve. For the first several hundred years after the Europeans took over the United States we expanded into every unmapped territory.

What Went Wrong  with the frontier?

We’re missing out on the more subtle points of the word “Frontier”. For the past several decades we’ve expanded into the frontier of technology, creating everything from computers, to rockets that go to the moon, to the Internet, and many cures for many diseases (polio, smallpox, etc). But now our innovators, technologists, and creators have to pay down their homeowner debt, their credit card debt, their student loan debt. They have to vote for people who never truly represent them and get us further and further into trouble. The government puts more and more hurdles in front of our creators.

Who knows what further twists and warps the American religion will take to destroy us more than we’ve already been destroyed. At the end of the physical frontier is the ocean and we’re all being pushed into it until American and everyone in it drowns.

I love this country. But I get sad when I see all of the above. When 18 year olds are sent to get killed while 60 year olds can’t get the drugs they need to survive. Where the government and banks and even charities take all my money. Where commercialism in its worst form conspires to take the remaining dollars of my salary.

I’m not political. I’m not in any party nor do I believe in any political philosophy. For me, I believe in the impossible. That change, even at a mass level, only comes from the inside of each individual. That if each person tries to remain physically healthy, emotionally healthy, mentally health, and spiritually healthy, then the country itself will rise to new heights never seen before in the civilization of man.

A height without mythology, without the dream of immortality, without fantasy notions of a “better life” that turn out to be just lies. Without deeper and more complicated mechanisms to control the masses. Where mediocrity is not rewarded with power over the creators. I’m asking for too much.

Today I’m going to do what I always do. And it has nothing to do with anything in this article.

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  • Anonymous

    Regarding the Charity point, your third bullet is an entire fabrication. Where did you come up with those ridiculous figures? (FYI, any person can look up a charity’s spending on programs through a multitude of sources, like GuideStar or Charity Navigator, instead of believing what you manufactured here.)

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      That’s how charities work. they have a pool of assets they generate interest on. Part of that interest goes to charity, part goes to salaries. The rest goes to investments they can keep generating investments on. So every dollar you contribute to charity gets used up by about 2 cents a year. 

      • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

        Not saying charities are “bad” but there are many other ways to be ethical that can have a great effect per dollar spent. 

        • Anonymous

          I believe an earlier blog mentioned of volunteering and donating locally. Maybe a message on due diligence similar to what you gave on Stocks would be good.   

        • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_G7W7BRK25PMITFB4LQFXLFJOWU JohnL

          I say charities are bad;most of the money raised go to the fund raisers.There are many ways to be ethical.Money is not usually the answer.

      • Anonymous

        I don’t have any issue with your larger point about giving directly. I actually agree with it to a large extent. But the stuff about taking donations and socking them away to operate off of interest describes a very small minority of nonprofits. Even when nonprofits direct funds into endowments (a luxury very few of them can afford), they usually tell donors they’re doing it and spend more than a paltry 2%. 

        Like I asked before, where did you get your information? You might want to look into that because it’s wrong enough to be *really* wrong. Pick a local charity, like your nearby Boys and Girls Club, and let’s look up what they actually do with donations.

        PS – Hating on nonprofit salaries also reflects a misconception (but more common and forgivable) about what nonprofit salaries actually accomplish.

        • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

          I’m talking more about the major charities which suck away billions of our dollars. the local boys club might very well be a different story. 

          • Anonymous

            First, that’s not what you said:

            “So for every dollar you give to charity, about 2 cents a year, give or take, goes to the actual charitable cause you wanted to support.”

            But I’ll play along. Name five major ones and we’ll see if you’re right.

          • https://www.coldhardcode.com/ Jay Shirley

            American Red Cross CEO makes $955,712 a year. 

            American Cancer Society CEO makes $685,884 a year. Their deputy CEO makes $1,027,306.

            I think James’ number is a bit low, but he’s correct on other points. It’s hard to quantify “goes to the cause” though.

            I recommend reading through http://www.charitynavigator.org/ some. It’s very good and just collates their tax filings. You won’t see any religious charities (Salvation Army) since they have different tax rules.

            (In my opinion, best charity ever is http://www.childsplaycharity.org — shameless plug)

          • Anonymous

            First, that’s not what you said:

            “So for every dollar you give to charity, about 2 cents a year, give or take, goes to the actual charitable cause you wanted to support.”

            But I’ll play along. Name five major ones and we’ll see if you’re right.

        • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_G7W7BRK25PMITFB4LQFXLFJOWU JohnL

          When I did telemarketing for a charity 25%went to me 25% went to charity and 50%went to company.Give direct if at all.

      • pjc

        The Gates Foundation isn’t planning on operating in perpetuity. All that money will be gone, likely before my children die. 

        I agree though, lots of charities are scams. My brother-in-law started a foundation. The main purpose appears to be to allow him to travel to places he wants to visit and give talks, while paying next to nothing in taxes.

  • http://twitter.com/JustheTip cranky true

    Talking to people about home-ownership really fires them up. They look at me like I’m an idiot when I explain why it can be a bad idea, It’s like I punched their grandmother.

    • http://www.facebook.com/nils.meyer3 Nils Meyer

      Well a lot of people are homeowners, so you get hit by confirmation bias. 

      • dTester

        One is not really a ‘homeowner’ unless the home’s title has no liens. I feel psychologically liberated by knowing I don’t have to make the rent, note, or payment each month on my home.  Those funds can not be put to other uses.

        • dTester

          —  correction — Can ~now~ be put to other uses

          • http://www.736hundred.tumblr.com 736hundred

            Yep, you’ll always have “other uses” like maintenance, repairs, taxes, and insurance.  And if you do any house repairs/maintenance yourself, your time should also be considered spent.

          • DTester

            I didn’t realize renters didn’t have to pay taxes ;-)  or for that other stuff …

          • http://www.736hundred.tumblr.com 736hundred

            ha…. I am not saying you don’t realize this….it’s just an added benefit to owning.

            :)

    • Anonymous

      I bought a house at the bottom of the Oil Spill crisis and I bought it so my mother can move in. Otherwise living in an RV is the way to go. Tried to talk her into matching RVs and spend the time and money collecting experiences but the depression era mentality kicked in.  

    • http://twitter.com/sandman_va Dave Sandrowitz

      Nobody likes to be outed as an idiot who just follows the herd.  People make choices and will ignore most evidence that suggests a contrary path would have been better.

      I am a homeowner, by the way, but have never had a moment of negative equity.  And, my wife and I really like renovating, which is an itch we can’t scratch in a rental unit.

      • Mill25

        Never had a moment of neg. equity?  Have patience.  Also you should consider the opportunity cost of that capital you have tied up in the home.  If you had that capital in silver at $18/oz 12 months ago then you would have a big smile….

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_UTGKOUQMYRSS2LFT2EZHDH5EOI J.

    The vast majority of my money was made owning homes.  Upon moving we would rent the old home out instead of selling it.  Much harder to make money in the stock market – you have to be a lot smarter and more proactive.

    As to WWII, if the Nazis had taken over the world, which was their aim, your parents, James, would have been exterminated and you wouldn’t be here to talk about it..

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      The whole WWII thing is a joke because we could’ve stopped it long before it started. It was really just a sad continuation of WW I, a continuation that the US fanned the flames of. 

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_UTGKOUQMYRSS2LFT2EZHDH5EOI J.

        History is like stock trading – the best move is always obvious in retrospect.  Your answer is beside the point – a non-sequitir, really. One can always find a way to blame someone other than the perpetrators. That war was needed to put a stop to some truly horrendous doings.  

        • Hopsngrain

          That’s the problem. It takes two to tangle, and there’s always more than one perpetrator. Good Germans supported Hitler because they wanted to put a stop to some truly horrendous doings by Churchill, FDR and Stalin. They didn’t see the horrendous doings by Hitler, anymore than good Brits, Americans and Russians saw the horrendous doings by Churchill, FDR and Stalin. And on and on it goes.

          • Gil

            Aw gosh those Nazis and Japanese weren’t  so bad after all!  Those nasty British, Americans and Allies!

          • apivetta

            Again, when you’re a civilian on the receiving end (e..g., Dresden, Hiroshima), the Allies *are* just as bad. My mom lived in German-occupied Northern Italy during WWII, and she tells me the townsfolk hated the British and American strafing and bombing campaigns more than the German occupiers (though the Germans too, of course, committed atrocities). Then again, whom are you going to believe: your court-historian history books or an actual witness’ own eyes?

          • Gil

            Yeah those horribly British and their Allies they should’ve have bomb London out of existence!  Those Poms are all evil!  Poor ol’ Adolf and Eva!

        • Anonymous

          That sounds so good. Pity it’s got little to do with what really transpired.  Would you mind taking at least a look at the timeline of the second world war?

          • apivetta

            No kidding, byrresheim. How many of the court history-indoctrinated sheeple realize Britain bombed German cities, inflicting all manner of civilian casualties, *months* before Hitler responded in kind? Even I just learned that a couple of years ago–I’m no novice to WWII revisionism–after reading Nicholson Baker’s *Human Smoke*.

          • apivetta

            No kidding, byrresheim. How many of the court history-indoctrinated sheeple realize Britain bombed German cities, inflicting all manner of civilian casualties, *months* before Hitler responded in kind? Even I just learned that a couple of years ago–I’m no novice to WWII revisionism–after reading Nicholson Baker’s *Human Smoke*.

        • Dither

          Horrendous things like firebombing cities and incinerating innocent children with nuclear bombs that afflict survivors with radiation sickness and cancer? Stuff like that, you mean?

      • Uncle Joe

        The Versailles Treaty guaranteed WWII.

        We are on the fast track toward global Fascism by the global banker Elite…Lincoln/Mussolini/Hitler did win.

    • Bjax4evr

      And if the Allies didn’t starve the Germans 4 months after World War 1 and punished the people for their State’s war destruction by demanding their gold as retribution, Weimar hyperinflation may have never happened, and the economic conditions in Germany wouldn’t have been dire enough to give Hitler’s extremism any credibility.

      No this isn’t hindsight.  It’s the unintended consequences of small groups of people imposing their will on others through force.  It is what happens when others don’t respect the rights of others, and is demonstrable everywhere and anywhere throughout history.

      BTW James, in your Neiderhoffer article you said you didn’t agree with Objectivism.  I’m not trying to pigeon-hole you philosophically, but you sure sound supportive of the ideas here.  Probably because your ideas are incredibly rational and forward looking in terms of progress.

      Great article.

      • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

        I just don’t like the “ism” that revolved around Rand. I prefer to think of “the fountainhead” or “atlas shrugged” as odes to competence rather than a macro political philosophy. 

      • IM Pericles

        If government and religion never existed, Jesus could have been an Astronaut.

        The mass-murder by psychotic clergymen and politicians is rooted in the fact that humans are too stupid to be free and seek “external authorities” to help them live better. There is no difference between a political terrorist gang (aka, The State) supporter today and a stupid peasant of 3000 years ago.

        • Gil

          “. . . Jesus could have been an Astronaut.”

          Best comment ever!

        • Misesfan

          You have no clue of historical facts. A study was done on wars and their causes .  Less than 5% of all recorded were caused by religion. Please use remember this fact when you start equating religious leaders and homicidal leaders of the state.

          • IM Pericles

            You might want to “clue” yourself in by studying Constantine and Muhammad…..For starters.

        • Misesfan

          You have no clue of historical facts. A study was done on wars and their causes .  Less than 5% of all recorded were caused by religion. Please use remember this fact when you start equating religious leaders and homicidal leaders of the state.

      • Gil

        That’s remiinds of Martin Prince in “The Simpsons” who justified himself getting beat up because he looked the bullies in the eyes when them his lunch money.

    • Anonymous

      Sorry, have to disagree. As said above, the first aim was to correct what was seen by everybody (Lord Keynes e.g.) as an injustice. St. Winston preferred the whole of Poland under Stalin’s boot to some German provinces returning home – that is well documented.
      That the Nazi war aims went a lot further than this first aim is true, but it is certain that the Nazis would not have attacked France without that declaration of war by Britain and France against _one_ of the aggressors against Poland, but not the other. So these aims might have remained the daydreams of a cocaine addict, had not St. Winston opened the gates of hell.
      Germany was losing the arms race in ’39, the Blitzkrieg successes would have been unthinkable 3 years later – but by then, Europe was in the middle of a horrible war. Just look at how the war went after D-Day: the technological advantage of one side over the other was striking.  Or take the “Bismarck” – one glorious victory against a ship that was in reality not combatworthy even at the time of its construction in 1919 and sunk a few days later when confronted by late 1930ies technology as opposed to an error from the early 1900s.The Nazis knew what was coming and tried to get as far as they could in the little time they had left. Had the war not broken out, they would not have dared start it two or three years later.
      As far as extermination is concerned: the one and only saving grace of your argument is that the subject is taboo, so no discussion is possible. That only supports Mr. Altuchers hypothesis: we are dealing with a psuedoreligion that protects its tenets with taboos where factual analysis might harm them.

      • apivetta

        Questioning any aspect of the Official Extermination Account is totally taboo. Don’t touch that one! The Good War Myth, the sanitization of Allied atrocities, and the U.S.’ expensive, one-sided alliance with that shitty little country halfway around the world depend on it.

      • Cosimoriro

        For a powerful dose of factual reality on “St. Winstan” and the “Holy War” (World War II), may I recommend listening to this video of David Irving giving a talk in a book store, on one of his book tours.

        http://www.veteranstoday.com/2010/11/02/gordon-duff-history-never-happened-who-is-david-irving/

        (At that link — as you will see — the whole talk is divided into 11 short video segments.)

        The sound quality is imperfect.  That, and Mr. Irving’s accent, had me turning the sound UP, and paying close attention.  IT WAS 2 HOURS VERY WELL SPENT.

        • Anonymous

          David Irving? Now there’s a reliable ‘historian’.

    • Dither

      You’ve watched too many science fiction movies. How were the Nazis going to take over the world? “Oh no! The Nazis are invading Kansas!”

      Every empire collapses by stretching itself too thin. Central economic planning doesn’t work, and militarism is too expensive and meets too much resistance. Even the US can’t take over the world. It’s been trying for decades, and now it’s going bankrupt.

  • C. Martin

    I think everything on CNBC is a scam and almost all people on it are frauds (except you, of course). I work in a related field and we always have it on, it’s a religion for some companies. I dislike it but the chicks on it are pretty hot heh.

    • IM Pericles

      Hot Chicks is the only way they can get the Feebs to watch…Just like in the movie “Idiocracy”.

  • EdM325

    I’d like to add investing in 401k’s to that list. Enticing the population at large to dump money willy nilly into 401k plans strikes me as nothing more than a scheme to inflate the stock market.

  • EdM325

    I’d like to add investing in 401k’s to that list. Enticing the population at large to dump money willy nilly into 401k plans strikes me as nothing more than a scheme to inflate the stock market.

  • http://twitter.com/fzeng96 Feng Z

    nice work again, i am sure you won’t be running for president or the mayor of new york anytime soon.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      I think it would be fun to run for Vice-President. Then you don’t have to do anything.

  • http://twitter.com/DanTreasure Dan Treasure

    @ #9 . Michael Crichton’s “State of Fear” highlighted the use of the media in order to scare the sh** out of people to keep them docile and to keep them voting for the “right” people. 

  • http://twitter.com/ClaudiaYoga Claudia Azula

    I agree with the 401 comment above… huge scam, i used to attend meetings of presenters that came from a variety of banks over the years, they all had charts that showed me the millions I would have when I retired… it was all fantasy, none of them told me that 10 years down the line I could also just be fired one day in the worst job market.  Not complaining, just recognizing the “religion” component on it… many people like me believed the thing like it was the holy grail.

  • http://twitter.com/aarongoldfarb Aaron Goldfarb

    A masterpiece of a column.

  • Titus

    “That if each person tries to remain physically healthy, emotionally healthy, mentally health, and spiritually healthy, then the country itself will rise to new heights never seen before in the civilization of man.”

    This point is great and as old as Plato and Aristotle.  If people in your body politic are just, prudent and temperate (and have close trusting friends that are the same) they will be closer to happy, the polity is man writ large. 

    • http://www.736hundred.tumblr.com 736hundred

      Healthy people don’t raise profits for corporations. Look at how much is being made in the “obesity” market. Everything from drugs to caskets. I can’t think of one consumer product that hasn’t expanded to sell to the fat.

      However, it is a great point.

      • Anonymous

        I’ve always argued that one large group of American corporations is making people unhealthy, while another large group profits by treating their ailments. So basically America’s corporations are feeding off the population, very Matrix.

        • http://www.736hundred.tumblr.com 736hundred

          agreed….makes me think of everything “biggie sized.” 

          What a successful marketing campaign. Who would have ever thought that people would willingly become biggie sized? 

          $ $ $ $ $ $ $ So much money involved.

          • IM Pericles

            “That if each person tries to remain physically healthy, emotionally healthy, mentally health, and spiritually healthy, then the country itself will rise to new heights never seen before in the civilization of man.”
            The average person does not have the mental ability to even begin to know how to do these things. This is why political terrorist organizations are so powerful.

  • Kevin M

    Isn’t the FDA the Food & Drug Administration?

    I worry because instead of going out and exploring, trying things and maybe failing, kids go straight to college and lock themselves into a 25 year sentence with debt. Thank God for my parents and scholarships I didn’t have to do that. My one regret is not taking off a year or so and traveling, starting a business or something before settling down.  I still got sucked in to #1 but at least I know it and will pay off the debt early.

  • http://twitter.com/sandman_va Dave Sandrowitz

    I think the fundamental rule you are missing here is that there is always an ulterior motive…maybe that is the universal law of the United States.  Investing for retirement is good…but invest in my 401K plan because I have large mgmt fees and can make a bunch of money off the sucker financial neophytes.  Building stable communities and supporting property rights is good…but getting people to lock up all their assets in a house for the next 30 years by convincing them they need to put down roots is really just a way for the banks to convert the illiquid into a constant stream of funds.  And on and on.

    There is always another angle and if you don’t see it, then you are the one getting played.  I read an essay recently that suggested the entire way of life in the US is really just a massive, multigenerational ponzi scheme.  We seem to be largely a nation of fools who are consistently being parted from our monies (not to mention our liberties).

    • Fubar

      you are correct. democracy was an unstable experiment. the norm of “civilized” human history for 8,000+ years is that most people are serfs/slaves, exploited by the overlord classes.

      the philosophical premise of Voltaire and other Enlightenment philosophers was that democracy would be government by Reasoned (educated) public participation.

      however, Reason became corrupted.

      some counterculture (new age) social theorists are proposing that Spirit must be reintegrated into culture to counteract the erosive forces of money and power on “lifeworld” and culture (Habermas).

      the other likely outcome is some kind of disintegrating american system that becomes at least partly totalitarian, probably fascist.

      I predict that america will be a Fascist society (or well on its way) within 5 years if the economy continues to disintegrate.

    • Fubar

      you are correct. democracy was an unstable experiment. the norm of “civilized” human history for 8,000+ years is that most people are serfs/slaves, exploited by the overlord classes.

      the philosophical premise of Voltaire and other Enlightenment philosophers was that democracy would be government by Reasoned (educated) public participation.

      however, Reason became corrupted.

      some counterculture (new age) social theorists are proposing that Spirit must be reintegrated into culture to counteract the erosive forces of money and power on “lifeworld” and culture (Habermas).

      the other likely outcome is some kind of disintegrating american system that becomes at least partly totalitarian, probably fascist.

      I predict that america will be a Fascist society (or well on its way) within 5 years if the economy continues to disintegrate.

    • Fubar

      you are correct. democracy was an unstable experiment. the norm of “civilized” human history for 8,000+ years is that most people are serfs/slaves, exploited by the overlord classes.

      the philosophical premise of Voltaire and other Enlightenment philosophers was that democracy would be government by Reasoned (educated) public participation.

      however, Reason became corrupted.

      some counterculture (new age) social theorists are proposing that Spirit must be reintegrated into culture to counteract the erosive forces of money and power on “lifeworld” and culture (Habermas).

      the other likely outcome is some kind of disintegrating american system that becomes at least partly totalitarian, probably fascist.

      I predict that america will be a Fascist society (or well on its way) within 5 years if the economy continues to disintegrate.

    • Fubar

      you are correct. democracy was an unstable experiment. the norm of “civilized” human history for 8,000+ years is that most people are serfs/slaves, exploited by the overlord classes.

      the philosophical premise of Voltaire and other Enlightenment philosophers was that democracy would be government by Reasoned (educated) public participation.

      however, Reason became corrupted.

      some counterculture (new age) social theorists are proposing that Spirit must be reintegrated into culture to counteract the erosive forces of money and power on “lifeworld” and culture (Habermas).

      the other likely outcome is some kind of disintegrating american system that becomes at least partly totalitarian, probably fascist.

      I predict that america will be a Fascist society (or well on its way) within 5 years if the economy continues to disintegrate.

    • Fubar

      you are correct. democracy was an unstable experiment. the norm of “civilized” human history for 8,000+ years is that most people are serfs/slaves, exploited by the overlord classes.

      the philosophical premise of Voltaire and other Enlightenment philosophers was that democracy would be government by Reasoned (educated) public participation.

      however, Reason became corrupted.

      some counterculture (new age) social theorists are proposing that Spirit must be reintegrated into culture to counteract the erosive forces of money and power on “lifeworld” and culture (Habermas).

      the other likely outcome is some kind of disintegrating american system that becomes at least partly totalitarian, probably fascist.

      I predict that america will be a Fascist society (or well on its way) within 5 years if the economy continues to disintegrate.

    • Fubar

      you are correct. democracy was an unstable experiment. the norm of “civilized” human history for 8,000+ years is that most people are serfs/slaves, exploited by the overlord classes.

      the philosophical premise of Voltaire and other Enlightenment philosophers was that democracy would be government by Reasoned (educated) public participation.

      however, Reason became corrupted.

      some counterculture (new age) social theorists are proposing that Spirit must be reintegrated into culture to counteract the erosive forces of money and power on “lifeworld” and culture (Habermas).

      the other likely outcome is some kind of disintegrating american system that becomes at least partly totalitarian, probably fascist.

      I predict that america will be a Fascist society (or well on its way) within 5 years if the economy continues to disintegrate.

  • http://www.736hundred.tumblr.com 736hundred

    I think you should publish this content in a childrens book. Figure out the ideal age – and run with it. It might even get banned.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      That is hilarious. I’m going to actually consider it. 

      • Alexis

        Fabulous!!! I would buy a copy for each of my children!

      • http://www.brookefarmer.com Brooke Farmer

        It’s actually a great idea. When I was home schooling my son I bought him comic book representations of history books. We also has Shakespeare For Kids books. He loved it. You can make anything relatable to children if you’re creative. 

        And more and more political pundits are selling children’s books now. You could be the anti political pundit children’s book writer. Go for it. 

      • meow

        I trust that if you write and publish that children’s book, you’d find a way to get it past the censors.    This IS the age of the Internet.

      • Sangamo

        Yea, you’re so edgy, destroying illusions, like reverence for the Constitution… I’m sure all the powers that be will come together to silence you.

    • Jeanne

      I just saw “Go the F*ck to Sleep” on the shelf and Barnes and Noble.  I didn’t realize that it was an actual book.  I thought it was just an internet thing.  You just need a catchy title.  Let’s see….”Because James F*cking Said So! That’s Why”. Any other ideas for a title?

      • http://www.736hundred.tumblr.com 736hundred

        ah….how about….. “Wake the F*ck Up!”

        • Jeanne

          or, since we’re talking about kids here “DON’T Go the F*ck to Sleep Like Your Parents!”

          • IM Pericles

            Your parents used Valium…FDA Approved.

            You all should have a look at Stefan Molyneux on YouTube to understand the fundamentals of your enslavement.

        • Deuce

          LOVE IT!

    • http://www.facebook.com/darren.fast Darren Fast

      Nothing gets more attention than something that’s banned!  What a great idea!!

  • Stanvaughan

    Great Post and you still owe us a response http://www.wcfchess.com As someone after our own views we would like you on Board  especially due your Carnegie Mellon degree in Computer Science where Hans Berliner my mentor was.Time to take on FIDE!

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Probably not for me, Stan. but thanks. Looks like fun. 

  • http://savasanaaddict.wordpress.com/ D

    Amen. Totally agree with every single point you made here, although as a foreigner (or, more correctly, a Resident Alien) I sometimes wonder if I’m just overly cynical of what I see around me. Thank you for showing that I’m not alone.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/333GEUN575Y7ISZROHLYLVUWOI Michael

    I think I understand (some of) the the arguments against home ownership and I generally agree with the avoidance of massive, life-sucking debt for nothing more than a roof over the head.

    That said, I’m one of those people who likes to make my home *my own*. I like to change it: tear down walls, add rooms, remodel kitchens. I’m an engineer – I can’t help it. What alternative does that give me but to own my own place? Most landlords don’t take kindly to their properties being hacked-up. Perhaps the answer for me is to live as cheaply as possible – that is, pick a location with very low land costs so that my total debt is relatively low. I agree that the cost of property in any of the major metro areas is ridiculously high and far more people should probably be renting in those areas.

    • http://www.facebook.com/nils.meyer3 Nils Meyer

      The thing is the cheap areas are usually cheap for a reason: Nobody wants to live there. And then you are really locked in. 

    • Anonymous

      It is perfectly legitimate to say that you like to make your home how you want it.  It is important to realize the significant premium you are paying for that luxury. 

      Inflexibility:  Change is happening faster than ever.  Those who succeed in rapidly changing environments are those with the most flexibility.  Home ownership or mortgage-holdership is inflexibility. 

      Taxation:  If I have $100,000 invested I pay taxes only on the taxable capital gains I make on it.  If I use that $100,000 as a down payment on a home I pay taxes on the full amount – plus taxes on the amount I borrowed – every single year, forever. 

      Amortization:  Look at how an amortization table works.  Since the average homeowner moves every 5-7 years it is ludicrous for them to buy a home with a mortgage because they will never make a dent in the principal. 

      Perfect Size/Place For Now:  There are significant cost advantages to living in an apartment or home that is the perfect size you need today in the perfect place you need today.  My wife and I can triangulate our commutes and retriangulate then easily when we get a new job.  We can have a one bedroom apartment until the exact moment we need a second room.  We can live in the area with the best middle school then move to the zone with the best high school.  There are significant barriers to this approach with ownership. 

      Neighbors:  If our neighbors are loud or rude we can talk to the manager.  If that fails, we move.  One of the worst parts of owning a home is dealing with bad neighbors. 

      Most importantly, my home is not a reflection of me.  It is a tool for me to use.  I am able to spend my time and energy doing things that bring me joy and personal satisfaction while my landlord pays others to do the things that are the obligations of an owner. 

       

    • Miguels Helpmeet

      only one problem with that… zoning. its *not* really yours to do with it what you will. :-)

    • John Barton

      Instead of locking yourself into a mortgage simply treat the home you want to own as a hobby.  Work your ass off for a couple years and make enough money to buy a home for cash.  Then do what ever you want to it and get out for what you can get if you need to.  Then you aren’t stuck in the cycle and trapped.  If you absolutely had to you could simply walk away from the property and let it atrophy (well except that in some communities if you do this the LAW will fine you and then take your property in lieu of the unpaid fines.)  Georgie said it best, they aren’t rights if someone can take them away from you.  And your property is not yours if someone can take it from you.  So if you are prepared to foot the bill for all the taxes imposed on property owners and building owners, because you know the two are separate taxable things, then put your self in a position to buy the house you want at well below “market value” for cash and then improve it as you like.  That approach could be a solid investment.  Furthermore if you like rent some of your property or otherwise use it to run a business and then you have an income producing asset.

      • Anonymous

        Even after you’ve paid off your home you still don’t really own it. To see why, just stop paying property taxes and soon the municipality or state will take back the land and home that you merely were renting, as it turns out. 

  • http://twitter.com/Kevin_Velasco Kevin Velasco

    1. When I was 20 I financed a $195,000 condo with poker winnings. The HOA fees were killer and honestly, by financing the house I forced myself to unnecessarily enter a rat race to come up with money to “make ends meet.”  I ended up selling 2 years later at $232,000. The main reason why I got a condo in the first place is because, well, I got caught up in the beliefs of the American religion.

    2. I have close to $30,000 in student loans after going to UT Austin. Even though I majored in Economics and minored in Business, I have no interest in using my degree (I actually have one class left). The reason? I know how to develop skill sets in things I am passionate about. I was a pro poker player for 6.5 years and now I’m getting ready to launch a photography booth to sell photo prints. I am in the process of generating multiple streams of income. All thanks to the internet. I too am excited about the options for my future children. College is obsolete and is a scam these days.

    3 – 10. I’m too lazy to continue writing.

  • Syren

    Brilliance.

  • Dennisjr42

    I agree to your point about reading about issues and voting yourself instead of a representative.  I agree in your case only because you have proven yourself as someone who will actually read about the issue and can think clearly enough to vote on something that might serve as a solution.  But in case you haven’t looked around lately, there are way too many idiots in this country right now for that to be a workable option.  As Socrates pointed out long ago, we need the smart people to lead the country to avoid knee-jerk reactions to the problem du jour.

    For example, most people right now would vote for massive federal budget cuts because we are living beyond our means.  I would argue that the smart people wouldn’t do this.  We have already seen what happens when you make massive cuts in the name of budget balance during a period of economic slowdown (see Hoover, Herbert, and Depression, Great).

  • http://gordonwhite.co.uk gordonwhite

    You radicalize me in the awesomest sense of the word. (The word ‘radicalize’, not ‘awesomest’… which isn’t strictly a word.)

    At least seven of these can be universalised to other developed economies. I, for one, recognise seven of them as applicable to the UK.

  • cindyluwho

    Brilliant…you are spot on with all of those. However, I think 11 should be Shopping. Perhaps it is worse for women, but from the time we are little girls we are bombarded with the idea that we need “things'” and going shopping and running up credit card debt to accquire said “things” is going to make you feel better about your life. The more “things” you have the better person you are….and if those “things” have the right labels on them then you are really superior. We are constantly preached to about all the “things” we must have because everyone else has them. It is sad how many women I know that say shopping is their #1 hobby. Personally, I too would rather watch Snooki than spend my day in a mall. The mall…the real American Church.

  • http://www.dinosaurtrader.com dinosaurtrader

    Watch out dude. With the market collapsing and people getting angry at the government you could end up some cult hero surrounded by scruffy dudes with guns asking you to lead.

    Would really put a dent in the daily practice.

    -DT

    • Anonymous

      Actually that is not at all a bad idea for a black comedy! ‘Altucher’, coming soon to a cinema near you….

      • http://www.dinosaurtrader.com dinosaurtrader

        Let’s do it. The dude from Harry Potter is the clear frontrunner for the role.

        -DT

    • SA

      The Central Bankers won’t allow a market collapse.
      Who do you think was buying equities today?

  • apivetta

    It’s almost August 6: the Hiroshima anniversary. Talk about holy war. The nuking of Hiroshima and Nagasaki approaches the Pearl Harbor “sneak [not!] attack” in touchiness. You want to ruin a dinner party? Start drawing analogies between the atomic bombings and the 9/11 attacks.
     
    Sure, Truman had reasons. Everybody has reasons. The 9/11 terrorists had reasons. They wanted to save lives! They thought Americans would stop and ask themselves: why would anybody wage a suicide attack like this? Maybe it has something to do with American foreign policy in the Middle East.

    No, that’s not it. Muslim extremists–erstwhile allies of Ronald Reagan (in Afghanistan circa 1980-1989) and Bill Clinton (in Kosovo circa 1999 and ongoing)–hate us for our freedom. One-sided support for armed Israeli colonists and incessant bombing and blockading of fellow Muslims in their backyard had nothing to do with it.
     
    It always come down to the Greater Good. Killing men, women and children to advance a political goal–whether in Hiroshima, Dresden or New York–is raw, unadulterated evil. If Osama bin Laden was a terrorist, Truman was a terrorist. 

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      The dropping of bombs on Hiroshma and Nagasaki was totally unjustified (I don’t believe the media message of the time that “one million lives would’ve been lost otherwise”) and a horror show that the world still has a hard time recovering from. Just look at the auto-panic reaction to the nuclear reactor “leakage” in Japan. China stopped all nuclear power development (the cleanest, most powerful energy) so as not to piss anyone else further and even Europe slowed down reactor building. 

      So because of the horrors generated by Hiroshima, the world gets deprived of clean, sustainable energy that is much more powerful than anything solar, ethanol-based, wind, etc can hope to produce. All because we have this nuclear fear now encoded in our DNA

      • Dennisjr42

        never mind that uranium demand for those reactors has been well above supply for years now… thats completely unimportant

        • Bjax4evr

          Hopefully we have thorium reactors soon.

      • Gil

        Why was the atomic bombing “unjustified”?  Why is one weapon more wrong than every other?  I sure as hell wouldn’t want to be caught in a napalm bombing.  Then again, I don’t be caught where marauders are hacking people to death with machetes.  The U.S. had a trump card that maximised the enemy’s losses while minimising their own.

        • apivetta

          Why were the 9/11 attacks “unjustified”? Why is one weapon more wrong than every other? I sure as hell wouldn’t want to be caught in a starvation blockade. Then again, I don’t want to be caught where Islamists are beheading infidels with swords. The 9/11 terrorists had a trump card that maximized the enemy’s losses while minimizing their own. 

          • Gil

            Your point?  I’m certainly not going down the “America is wrong for everything” path.

          • apivetta

            My point is obvious, and it has nothing to do with “America is wrong for everything.” It’s wrong to target civilians, period. At the very least, if you think it’s OK for America to target civilians to advance its vision of the Greater Good, then it’s OK for others to do the same. Universality is the hallmark of morality.

          • https://www.coldhardcode.com/ Jay Shirley

            It’s worth noting that Japanese civilians were being militarized, though. Were they still true citizens?

          • apivetta

            It’s worth noting Japan was trying to negotiate a surrender, while Truman (and FDR before him) insisted on unconditional surrender. Why was the only civilized option off the table? Because neither FDR nor Truman was civilized. The whole premise that the Atomic Bombing was justified vis-a-vis full scale invasion is based on lie. Negotiated surrender was an option.

          • https://www.coldhardcode.com/ Jay Shirley

            That wasn’t what I was responding to. I was responding to your assertion that “It’s wrong to target civilians, period.”

            I was just asking you clarify what constitutes a civilian.

          • apivetta

            What does this mean, “the Japanese were being militarized”? Widespread private ownership of firearms? Something akin to the American militia? To protect themselves from an invasion by a belligerent foreign military power? Well, that certainly puts the whole thing in a different light.

          • apivetta

            What does this mean, “the Japanese were being militarized”? Widespread private ownership of firearms? Something akin to the American militia? To protect themselves from an invasion by a belligerent foreign military power? Well, that certainly puts the whole thing in a different light.

          • https://www.coldhardcode.com/ Jay Shirley

            You seem far more intent on arguing a point than answering a question. I’m not arguing, I’m asking a question is all.

            Militarizing means government-supplied weapons and training. Not militias, those are different. A portion of Japanese citizens were militarized, including children.

            Your statements above were ambiguous, because the line between citizens and soldiers is often times blurred.

            I’m just seeking clarification, not making an argument or even stating my own opinions.

            (And this will likely be my last post, as Disqus has squished the text box to ridiculously narrow levels)

          • apivetta

            I thought I was answering your question. I’m not arguing. Even if women and children were armed by the Japanese government, they couldn’t have been all armed. There were 95 year-olds and 2 year-olds and invalids. Nuclear bombing kills indiscriminately. It can’t help but kill civilians en masse no matter how you defind them.

          • https://www.coldhardcode.com/ Jay Shirley

            You seem far more intent on arguing a point than answering a question. I’m not arguing, I’m asking a question is all.

            Militarizing means government-supplied weapons and training. Not militias, those are different. A portion of Japanese citizens were militarized, including children.

            Your statements above were ambiguous, because the line between citizens and soldiers is often times blurred.

            I’m just seeking clarification, not making an argument or even stating my own opinions.

            (And this will likely be my last post, as Disqus has squished the text box to ridiculously narrow levels)

          • Gil

             If all Japanese “civilians” were inded going to pick up a weapon and fight Allied soldiers then there could zero “civilian” losses whatsoever rather the Allies faced a whole nation of soldiers making carpet bombing totally justified.

          • Gil

            If you’re talking historical conspiracies I heard the military commanders were going to oust the Emperor because he’s cracking and about to surrender.  Then again many Japanese soldiers were told to keep fighting even if Japan surrenders hence some were still fighting in the 1970’s.

          • Gil

            Gee, last time I looked  “unconditional” surrender is just that – you give up, drop your weapons and wave the white flag.  Then again so what if the U.S. had the atomic bomb?  If they couldn’t perfect it they would have kept firebombing Japan until they were ready to invade the mainland.  However a lot of Libertarians seems to think the U.S. and Allied soldiers should have invaded the mainland untaking extreme heavy losses to “play fair” and make sure “no civilians were hurt”.

          • Gil

            Uh oh going to down the Libertarian kool-aid path.  It’s very tricky to tell what constitutes a truly innocent “civilian”.  How many men, women and children are working in war factories supplying the soldiers on the battlefields?   Such people aren’t civilians – they’re part of the military effort and thus are valid military.  Similarly anyone who gives aid and comfort to a criminal is “aided and abetting” and become a criminals thus by extension people who help out enemy soldiers.  Finally, if a there’s an escaped criminal so dangerous that the police have been given the right to blow up a house with innocent people he’s hiding because it’ll save more lives in the long run then people would make sure they wouldn’t let that criminal in.  If that criminal did enter their house the occupants should immediately get out of that house.  Hence supposed innocent civilians should get as far as possible from any towns and cities that are part of the war effort.

        • apivetta

          Why were the 9/11 attacks “unjustified”? Why is one weapon more wrong than every other? I sure as hell wouldn’t want to be caught in a starvation blockade. Then again, I don’t want to be caught where Islamists are beheading infidels with swords. The 9/11 terrorists had a trump card that maximized the enemy’s losses while minimizing their own. 

      • apivetta

        The auto-panic” to the nuclear reactor leakage in Japan? Well, there’s that, I suppose. Since the Bomb was dropped from airplanes we may have also lost a generation of qualified commercial aircraft pilots. I was thinking more along the lines of horror at the incineration, and lingering death from burns and radiation poisoning, inflicted on tens of thousands of innocent men, women and children by this act of naked nuclear terrorism. But that’s me.

        • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

          Of course that is horrible. I’m not disagreeing with you. I’m also thinking that a scientific project that could’ve been put to good use has instead instilled a century of fear in the entire world that has held many people and countries back. 

          • apivetta

            OK, sorry. For a minute there, I thought you were straining at gnats and allowing camels free passage.

      • Anonymous

        “totally unjustified” — maybe, but there’s no way to tell for sure what would have happened.

        We do know that Japan surrendered just days after the bombs were dropped, not months or years, but days.  That’s a pretty powerful suggestion that the bombs did cause their surrender early, and thus prevent some further conflict.  But alas, we cannot know for sure…

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_G7W7BRK25PMITFB4LQFXLFJOWU JohnL

        Atomic energy is clean?Three Mile Island is clean?Chernobyl is clean?I don’t think so.Spent fuel rods are easily disposed of.Please educate me.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_G7W7BRK25PMITFB4LQFXLFJOWU JohnL

    I have never voted and will never vote.I agree with Thoreau that a majority is not any more likely to be right as opposed to a minority.I have a declaration that gets many people pissed at me;people should not be allowed to own their own cars to drive when they want.I believe transportation should be the governments job.All drivers should be professional and could only drive on the clock.No amateur hour on the road;no one person to a car.There would be less death,less traffic,and more efficiency.Of course this will never happen.Oh,it would save billions of gallons of fuel.

    • http://simonsouth.ca/ Simon South

      John, what you’ve described sounds remarkably like public transit. Which, despite what many people claim, actually does exist today.

      James, I was going to post to say you ought to add “own a car” to this list. I’m a little surprised you still haven’t written a full blog post about this because after home ownership and college, car ownership is probably the next most important thing for a person to free him or herself from. And my God, I have never seen bright, well-educated people turn into spitting, foaming, raging animals so quickly as the time I said I believed a person could live without a car if they made up their mind to do it, just as I had done.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_G7W7BRK25PMITFB4LQFXLFJOWU JohnL

        I ride bicycle,walk,and take the bus.Public transit is very good in Buffalo and Ann Arbor;not so good in Phoenix or here on Long Island.

      • https://www.coldhardcode.com/ Jay Shirley

        I’ll preface my comment with saying I’m an absolute petrol-head. I love cars. I love driving. It’s my most delightful hobby. I would rather buy myself a Lotus Evora than send my kids to college. If anybody took my car away I would mount a ferocious challenge… but I only drive for fun, really. I don’t commute.

        People should not be so reliant on cars. It seems people today think walking a mile is impossible and that’s sad. I can understand not biking (or similar) where you’ll get sweaty. If you can’t walk a mile without breaking into a sweat it’s best to start at a quarter mile and work up. Hell, maybe start on a Segway just to get used to the unconditioned air.

        We walk (outside of the mid-summer months, the desert is not so forgiving) to the local grocery stores frequently. The kids enjoy it more and get to ride in the wagon. It’s a good experience and honestly makes shopping (a tedious chore) much more fun. We moved to a place where this was possible, though.

        I moved from the Pacific Northwest. An area that prides itself on its hippiness. It was completely unwalkable. To get to the closest shopping center there were no sidewalks going in. You had to walk on the street. That was far more common than it should be. It was really frustrating.

        It’s just as important for city planners to ensure a city is walkable as it is for people to just try giving up their cars when time isn’t a factor. If a city isn’t easily walkable, people won’t walk. If it is, more people walk. I see more people walking here than any other area I’ve lived at.

    • http://simonsouth.ca/ Simon South

      John, what you’ve described sounds remarkably like public transit. Which, despite what many people claim, actually does exist today.

      James, I was going to post to say you ought to add “own a car” to this list. I’m a little surprised you still haven’t written a full blog post about this because after home ownership and college, car ownership is probably the next most important thing for a person to free him or herself from. And my God, I have never seen bright, well-educated people turn into spitting, foaming, raging animals so quickly as the time I said I believed a person could live without a car if they made up their mind to do it, just as I had done.

    • http://simonsouth.ca/ Simon South

      John, what you’ve described sounds remarkably like public transit. Which, despite what many people claim, actually does exist today.

      James, I was going to post to say you ought to add “own a car” to this list. I’m a little surprised you still haven’t written a full blog post about this because after home ownership and college, car ownership is probably the next most important thing for a person to free him or herself from. And my God, I have never seen bright, well-educated people turn into spitting, foaming, raging animals so quickly as the time I said I believed a person could live without a car if they made up their mind to do it, just as I had done.

    • eu

      seriously?? you want to force everyone to conform to your position on car ownership. people should get pissed at you. very pissed. when has the government run something efficiently anyways? but the ultimate truth is nobody should be forced to do something against their will. how about we let people live their lives with out interference. i do not care if you do not vote i find it wise considering those who are up for election, so wouldn’t you be mad if someone said you had to vote? government should only be about defending individuals rights. rights to drive or not. to vote or not. to smoke weed or not. so long as i dont infringe upon anothers liberty i should be allowed to drive and consume as much gas as i want to.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_G7W7BRK25PMITFB4LQFXLFJOWU JohnL

        Let people live without interference?So you can drive as fast or slow as you want,on whatever side of the road?Stop signs and lights are optional?Consume as much gas as you want leaving none for industry or for the next generation?Paul Simon’s One Man Ceiling is Another Man’s Floor points to how rights conflict all the time.Lenny Bruce talked about how rules were created regulating eating,sleeping and crapping,then when someone ended up with a face full of crap the need for enforcement was recognized.Do you have the right to drive if you are blind?Maybe if you are the character Al Pacino played in Scent of a Woman.I am all for personal liberty especially when it comes to smoking weed but smoking weed effects just me,driving effects everyone that shares the roads.I don’t want to force anybody to do anything but if there are going to be rules they should be for the benefit of all.As it is people drive drunk while texting;is this fine by you?BTW Paul Simon,Lenny Bruce and I were born on October13 different years;I was born on a Friday.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_G7W7BRK25PMITFB4LQFXLFJOWU JohnL

        Let people live without interference?So you can drive as fast or slow as you want,on whatever side of the road?Stop signs and lights are optional?Consume as much gas as you want leaving none for industry or for the next generation?Paul Simon’s One Man Ceiling is Another Man’s Floor points to how rights conflict all the time.Lenny Bruce talked about how rules were created regulating eating,sleeping and crapping,then when someone ended up with a face full of crap the need for enforcement was recognized.Do you have the right to drive if you are blind?Maybe if you are the character Al Pacino played in Scent of a Woman.I am all for personal liberty especially when it comes to smoking weed but smoking weed effects just me,driving effects everyone that shares the roads.I don’t want to force anybody to do anything but if there are going to be rules they should be for the benefit of all.As it is people drive drunk while texting;is this fine by you?BTW Paul Simon,Lenny Bruce and I were born on October13 different years;I was born on a Friday.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_W6V5KHHPS4IUUIOEKGTDS57P44 Jack

    James,

    One of the consequences of religion is that it helps millions of folks accept the inevitability of  death, with the promise of an afterlife.
    Do you believe that is nothing after this life?.

    PS.  Thanks for the pic of Snooki

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      I believe that we simply don’t know. but there are ways to be spiritual without having that experential knowledge. Ways we can surrender to a higher force, without knowing whether or not there are the comforts of an afterlife. Ways to be a better person now without doing things out of fear of what happens in an unknown future. 

      • http://www.736hundred.tumblr.com 736hundred

        I would like to compliment you on your description of your “religious/ spiritual/ life” beliefs.  I have struggled for years to explain myself in this area when asked and never quite found the right words.  I will use yours, thank you.

        _____

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RR4GTQOUTL6MJIRF6HGPPWVJVE Robert

        James, you should read “the denial of death” by Ernest Becker

    • HolyCow

      “Today,
      a young man on acid realized that all matter is merely energy condensed to a
      slow vibration — that we are all one consciousness experiencing itself
      subjectively. There is no such thing as death; life
      is only a dream, and we are the imagination of ourselves”

       

      Bill
      Hicks

  • David M.

    James, I don’t get your point on Hitler.  I believe you’ve thought it through more than it appears.

    The obvious counterargument is we went to fight Hitler and anyone supporting him in our best interest, an truly the world’s best interest.  Which ultimately has created the fine world we live in today that allows you to live purely for your selfish interests- doing only what increases the odds you and your family will be happy.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Mark.L.Carson Mark Carson

    Draft – There is no draft at this time. So stop moaning about sending your girls off to war. Our military is staffed by people who voluntarily chose to serve. When I was 18 (back in 1971) I would have agreed with you but the draft is long gone (selective service is not, but that is not particularly relevant right now). I enjoy reading you blog for entertainment value but the draft is one of your continuing pain points that is not founded in reality.

    Home ownership – you’ve decided not to own. That’s fine for you. To each own. I own a home, err, make that, I have a mortgage. I consider it an appreciating asses that has the “dividend” that it provides for my housing needs. If it was never going to appreciate in value I might agree with you. However, rental housing still has to be financed in most all cases 9and the interest costs are passed on the renter), so what is really different?

    College – I only have a 2 year college degree and I only got that when I was 32, so I understand your general concept regarding college, I also know that my peers (similar intelligence, work ethic, etc.) with college degrees were much further ahead in the income game for quite a while (I now make a good living and Obama wants my money if you know what I mean). So I agree that applying yourself and initiative are key. But college generally helps most people and not everyone is saddled with 6 figure debt for the next 20 years. Your mileage may vary…

    Voting – totally agree with Internet voting. We finally have the technology to have a true democracy instead of a less desirable republic. And the Electoral College – what a scam that is.

    Political Parties – see voting above (no need for these self-serving clowns with direct voting).

    Charity – You don’t have to give to the major organizations of you don’t trust them. But that does not mean that the notion of charity is all wrong. I just sent crayons, ball points, coloring books, etc. to an Internet friend who is serving (voluntarily for 28 year now) in Afghanistan so he can pass out these requested items to Afghan kids (who through no fault of their own are less fortunate than my kids). Charity comes from the heart. Give where you think you can do the most good.

    The Constitution – the problem (as you even mention) is not with the document, but rather letting our government side step it.

    Wars – your ability to write you blog is paid for with a lot of American blood in a lot of wars (I agree not all of them). So to put forth the notion all wars have been in vain is a foolish assertion.

    Looking forward to more of your blog in the future. Cheers

    • pjc

      Stop-loss is basically the same thing as a draft. 

      No private contract could ever enforce anything remotely like stop-loss. In the private sector, people walk away from their obligations before their completed and avoid jail time. Stop-loss says the military can keep you on duty until your retirement date.

      At least in the draft you could leave after a few years.

      • http://www.marketmentat.com GT

        Even more to the point, a genuine ‘volunteer’ would be free to quit at any time, without penalty. If you refuse to confront a hostile crowd of customers at Burger King, you can walk out the door and your supervisor doesn’t have the right to shoot you in the back.

        The whole ‘volunteer military’ schtick is specifically designed to gull people who don’t think past the slogan – the same hollow-headed jelly-brained dullards who think that the paid killers who blow up bits of the planet are the source of our freedom to write crap on the internet (that trope is so stupid that it doesn’t pass muster for anyone who doesn’t have a brain injury). Yes, Mark Carson, I’m looking at you.

        As for those who think that nasty old Adolf wanted to ‘rule the world’ – absolute hogwash that is prima facie evidence that you’ve never read anything apart from set texts in a government school. Hitler wanted the Sudetenland and the Danzig Corridor (both historically Germanophone territory), and nothing else. That the second world war degenerated into carnage and depravity is the fault of the English and French (same as WWI) – they should simply have permitted Germany to annex (as it is, the French/English/US alliance handed the bulk of Eastern Europe to the Soviets to be crushed under Stalin’s heel for a generation… even with the Holodomor as a known backdrop to their agreement with ‘Uncle Joe’, they handed 100 million people to his regime).

        Hitler was a bad guy – as is anybody who seeks political power. But had war not broken out, there is a very high likelihood that all of the depravity (internment camps and mass death) would not have occurred.

        • Cosimoriro

          Excellent comment.  Are you aware that what you’re calling “the Holodomor” is yet another one of those false concepts that make up our “public religion”?  The almost-universally accepted idea that there was a so-called Holocaust (6,000,000 Jews killed) in World War II is an idea that was and is being perpetuated in the public mind by deliberately false PR.  In factual reality, there was no extermination program, nor any death camps, nor cyanide showers, nor six million (or any number of millions) of Jews cremated and mass-buried.  Check out the collection of short videos called “One Third of the Holocaust.”  You will quickly find that ALL known physical evidence directly contradicts the false story that Jews were singled out and exterminated.  Ernst Zuendel and the other so-called “Holocaust deniers” are not evil deluded psychos.  They are telling the truth — even though some of them are doing prison time for it.

          • JD

            My father was there.  He walked into one of those camps.  Try telling him it was all a fake.

        • Anonymous

          One can only laugh. At you.

          • http://www.marketmentat.com GT

            That’s all you’ve got to say? Almost typically American: no content, no engagement on the issues… just some feeble attempt at ‘snark’ at a level that a second-rate TV scriptwriter might give to a third-rate character. I am surprised you didn’t write in allcaps.

            Trying to reduce the world to sub-sophomoric half-smart ‘zingers’ is part of the problem – thankfully the world is not an episode of [insert hackneyed laugh-tracked American dreck], and equally-thankfully the cultural structures that favour such dreck are on the wane, since US Empire is so totally screwed (thanks to non-engagement by its proles – folks like you) that the rest of the world will get to line up to cock-punch it for the next two centuries.

            Also – not for nothin’ – ask Gawker what happens when some fucktard tries to masturbate their ego by trying to ‘score’ off a decent hacker phyle.

          • Anonymous

            Non-engagement? What, exactly have you done to ‘engage’?

            I lived in Germany and spoke to people who were there. I fought for my country. I have volunteered and not only for military service.

          • http://www.marketmentat.com GT

            Seriously – big deal. I ‘served’ too – when I was young and stupid. I was a stupid mindless hunk of meat, doing the bidding of people who held me in utter contempt.

            Here’s a news-flash about how much your rulers value your ‘service': no member of the political class would piss on you if you were on fire unless there was a camera there and the autocue told them to. If one of their daughters brought home an enlisted man (say, a rifleman), they would be fucking HORRIFIED.

            Are you seriously so deluded by your childhood indoctrination that you think it’s “your” country? Do you honestly think you have a say in how things are run, who gets what, and when and at whom the military is unleashed to wreak havoc and slaughter thousands?

            Jesus wept – I would have thought that watching trillions of dollars being transferred to Blankfein and his cronies (who then paid it out to themselves in bonuses) would have sobered you up and helped slough off any residual “Hoo-ah!” idiocy. And let’s just say that if you had been a lifer who relied on his pension, the COLA adjustments are designed to have you eating dog food in retirement; a CPI mechanism that includes hedonics plus substitution effect plus chain-linking, mean that COLA makes you go backwards in real terms.

            If you haven’t already, there are two things I urge you to read: one is
            “War is a Racket”. which was written by USMC Maj-Gen Smedley Butler in
            1933. If you haven’t heard of him, Butler won the Medal of Honor TWICE.

            The other is a simple quote of something Kissinger once said: “*Military
            men are just dumb stupid animals to be used as pawns in foreign policy*.”

            That echoes what Thoreau wrote in /*Civil Disobedience*/ – “/The mass of
            men serve the state thus, not as men mainly, but as machines, with their
            bodies. They are the standing army, and the militia, jailers,
            constables, posse comitatus, etc. In most cases there is no free
            exercise whatever of the judgment or of the moral sense; but they put
            themselves on a level with wood and earth and stones; and wooden men can
            perhaps be manufactured that will serve the purpose as well. Such
            command no more respect than men of straw or a lump of dirt/.”

          • mamma

            Well said. 

        • Anonymous

          Old Adolf had designs on much more than the Sudetenland and Danzig Corridor. He envisioned a German eastern empire that would encompass all the Slavic lands, including Russia, and give the German people their ‘liebensraum’ (a side benefit being the destruction of Soviet communism, which he loathed). But he did not originally plan to invade west, until the French and British came to the defense of Poland, and forced him to secure his rear, so to speak.

    • Gil

      Your modified points are better than the author’s.  :)

    • Trevor

      “Wars – your ability to write you blog is paid for with a lot of American blood in a lot of wars ..”

      The idea inherent to this quote is the biggest canard in American history. Our soldiers don’t even fight for their own freedom, much less ours.

    • http://www.buttonsf.wordpress.com Buttons

      Two points I’d like to respond to are Draft and Charity.On charity, you actually enforced the author’s point rather than dispelled it. You sent ‘directly’ to the people rather than go through a major charity who wold take their ‘cut’, which IS usually more than 90% of what is taken in, for “administrative” costs – such SH!T but I too am against people making mony off the backs of those in need. I give my time to .orgs that deal directly with the people.

      On the draft, yes, there is none, these people volunteer… but when their time is up, if they are needed they don’t go home, they do another tour in Iraq. Another “SUCH SH!T” outrage for me. They sign a 4yr contract and are there for 7yr.
      It also peeves me off that the people who risk their lives (military, police) and the people who care for our nation’s children and elderly (childcare and aid workers) are some of the lowest paid. My little twist to “government” would be making it mandatory for every president, congressman, senator to serve at least a 4yr stint in the military.

      /rant OFF  :-) thanks for the read, carry on 

  • Busterzdad

    Hey bozo: The Gov’t doesn’t MAKE student loans, it guarantees them. It’s left holding the bag when someone bails. They don’t make money from them. check your facts.

  • http://twitter.com/TheVelvetRocket Justin Ames

    Epic post, James.  Just brilliant…

  • http://twitter.com/TheVelvetRocket Justin Ames

    Epic post, James.  Just brilliant…

  • http://twitter.com/TheVelvetRocket Justin Ames

    Epic post, James.  Just brilliant…

  • Yash V.

    Great article James. If only more people would recognize the lies that they are being told every day, their lives would be much better.

  • Yash V.

    Great article James. If only more people would recognize the lies that they are being told every day, their lives would be much better.

  • http://www.bradentalbot.com Braden Talbot

    Being religious is okay as long as it doesn’t become a religion.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1272980067 Priscilla Benfield

    BRAVO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Loved this post. I agree that you should publish this as a children’s book…I would buy several.

  • Steven L. Goff

    Religeon is a crutch for people who dont want to feel alone in this world!

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RR4GTQOUTL6MJIRF6HGPPWVJVE Robert

      That statement is a religious one. You are in fact religious.

  • http://www.facebook.com/scottrendall1 Scott F Rendall

    James – now more than ever the “American Religion” (aka “American Dream”) is a falacy. It’s steeped in myths and jingoism and good stories, but it’s a pipe dream. Absolute power has indeed corrupted – long ago. We were never really “free” – it’s just a myth, and the myth crumbles a little more each year.Unfortunately for those of us who wish to be truly free, there really is no such place on earth. And, unfortunately for we Americans who have not bought into the American Religion, there are no choices better than the US.

    As for me – the best I can practice and advise is “free agency” – the ability to move around as one pleases. The freedom to travel between “free” nations and absorb the world’s beauty and mystery while we can. Forget the tethers required of the “American religion” as James so appropriately called it, and experience the world’s treasures and pleasures.

    I do indeed love my country, but I 110% distrust and fear my government.

    Scott

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Agreed

    • meow

      I have the perfect advertising tag line:   America:  Live the Lie.

      I am pushing 60 with some vigor.  America was always a lie.   I confirmed this beyond any reasonable doubt within 2 months of living in Europe.

      Try to live in the USA with yourself.   Try to live free of delusion, seeing things for what they are.   Why do you think that Americans deride intellectual types, especially scientist and engineers or those really interested in them, giving them such labels as “geek” or “nerd”?   Why do you think that Americans bully such people from nursery school on…and wonder why Asians are in the universities and in the forefront of technology taking the jobs that the vast majority of these wretches could never be bothered to do or qualified to understand?

      The American government reflects the nation.   There is nothing whatsoever to love about any of it.

      • Concrete Dovetail

        I’ve lived in various parts of the US and Europe.  There are problems everywhere you go.  Lies are not uniquely American.  Try living in Italy!  For traveling and friendship, Europe is better.  For making money and trying to rise to the top of your profession (at least if you are  a scientist), America is better.     

    • Fubar

      Hey Scott,

      If you want a toilet that shoots water up your rear-end (and bad roads and parking, and very inconvenient shopping and far too little air conditioning), europe is great. lol

      Those are things that are sacrificed in cultures that still value having vibrant “life” in the public spaces.

      The problem is that american politics has produced a people that are increasingly disillusioned and cynical, weak and servile to central government that they are dependent upon, lazy and apathetic about the work needed to maintain a healthy democracy.

      This problem started at least 150 years ago.

      The forces of evil and imperialism finally triumphed. it is just a question of how long it will take for the collapse t set in.

      Ronald Reagan fooled people into thinking that exploitation and short term gain were “patriotic” 25+ years ago.

      This was possible because the Left’s opposition to right wing imperialism became discredited in the wake of the 60s/70s cultural changes.

      Everyone is to blame. Everyone has participated in the system with far too little protest for far too long.

      populist outrage is pointless if the tea parties phenomena is an accurate model of how the establishment will corrupt politics to maintain the status quo.

    • Fubar

      Hey Scott,

      If you want a toilet that shoots water up your rear-end (and bad roads and parking, and very inconvenient shopping and far too little air conditioning), europe is great. lol

      Those are things that are sacrificed in cultures that still value having vibrant “life” in the public spaces.

      The problem is that american politics has produced a people that are increasingly disillusioned and cynical, weak and servile to central government that they are dependent upon, lazy and apathetic about the work needed to maintain a healthy democracy.

      This problem started at least 150 years ago.

      The forces of evil and imperialism finally triumphed. it is just a question of how long it will take for the collapse t set in.

      Ronald Reagan fooled people into thinking that exploitation and short term gain were “patriotic” 25+ years ago.

      This was possible because the Left’s opposition to right wing imperialism became discredited in the wake of the 60s/70s cultural changes.

      Everyone is to blame. Everyone has participated in the system with far too little protest for far too long.

      populist outrage is pointless if the tea parties phenomena is an accurate model of how the establishment will corrupt politics to maintain the status quo.

    • Fubar

      Hey Scott,

      If you want a toilet that shoots water up your rear-end (and bad roads and parking, and very inconvenient shopping and far too little air conditioning), europe is great. lol

      Those are things that are sacrificed in cultures that still value having vibrant “life” in the public spaces.

      The problem is that american politics has produced a people that are increasingly disillusioned and cynical, weak and servile to central government that they are dependent upon, lazy and apathetic about the work needed to maintain a healthy democracy.

      This problem started at least 150 years ago.

      The forces of evil and imperialism finally triumphed. it is just a question of how long it will take for the collapse t set in.

      Ronald Reagan fooled people into thinking that exploitation and short term gain were “patriotic” 25+ years ago.

      This was possible because the Left’s opposition to right wing imperialism became discredited in the wake of the 60s/70s cultural changes.

      Everyone is to blame. Everyone has participated in the system with far too little protest for far too long.

      populist outrage is pointless if the tea parties phenomena is an accurate model of how the establishment will corrupt politics to maintain the status quo.

    • Fubar

      Hey Scott,

      If you want a toilet that shoots water up your rear-end (and bad roads and parking, and very inconvenient shopping and far too little air conditioning), europe is great. lol

      Those are things that are sacrificed in cultures that still value having vibrant “life” in the public spaces.

      The problem is that american politics has produced a people that are increasingly disillusioned and cynical, weak and servile to central government that they are dependent upon, lazy and apathetic about the work needed to maintain a healthy democracy.

      This problem started at least 150 years ago.

      The forces of evil and imperialism finally triumphed. it is just a question of how long it will take for the collapse t set in.

      Ronald Reagan fooled people into thinking that exploitation and short term gain were “patriotic” 25+ years ago.

      This was possible because the Left’s opposition to right wing imperialism became discredited in the wake of the 60s/70s cultural changes.

      Everyone is to blame. Everyone has participated in the system with far too little protest for far too long.

      populist outrage is pointless if the tea parties phenomena is an accurate model of how the establishment will corrupt politics to maintain the status quo.

    • Fubar

      Hey Scott,

      If you want a toilet that shoots water up your rear-end (and bad roads and parking, and very inconvenient shopping and far too little air conditioning), europe is great. lol

      Those are things that are sacrificed in cultures that still value having vibrant “life” in the public spaces.

      The problem is that american politics has produced a people that are increasingly disillusioned and cynical, weak and servile to central government that they are dependent upon, lazy and apathetic about the work needed to maintain a healthy democracy.

      This problem started at least 150 years ago.

      The forces of evil and imperialism finally triumphed. it is just a question of how long it will take for the collapse t set in.

      Ronald Reagan fooled people into thinking that exploitation and short term gain were “patriotic” 25+ years ago.

      This was possible because the Left’s opposition to right wing imperialism became discredited in the wake of the 60s/70s cultural changes.

      Everyone is to blame. Everyone has participated in the system with far too little protest for far too long.

      populist outrage is pointless if the tea parties phenomena is an accurate model of how the establishment will corrupt politics to maintain the status quo.

    • Fubar

      Hey Scott,

      If you want a toilet that shoots water up your rear-end (and bad roads and parking, and very inconvenient shopping and far too little air conditioning), europe is great. lol

      Those are things that are sacrificed in cultures that still value having vibrant “life” in the public spaces.

      The problem is that american politics has produced a people that are increasingly disillusioned and cynical, weak and servile to central government that they are dependent upon, lazy and apathetic about the work needed to maintain a healthy democracy.

      This problem started at least 150 years ago.

      The forces of evil and imperialism finally triumphed. it is just a question of how long it will take for the collapse t set in.

      Ronald Reagan fooled people into thinking that exploitation and short term gain were “patriotic” 25+ years ago.

      This was possible because the Left’s opposition to right wing imperialism became discredited in the wake of the 60s/70s cultural changes.

      Everyone is to blame. Everyone has participated in the system with far too little protest for far too long.

      populist outrage is pointless if the tea parties phenomena is an accurate model of how the establishment will corrupt politics to maintain the status quo.

    • Fubar

      Hey Scott,

      If you want a toilet that shoots water up your rear-end (and bad roads and parking, and very inconvenient shopping and far too little air conditioning), europe is great. lol

      Those are things that are sacrificed in cultures that still value having vibrant “life” in the public spaces.

      The problem is that american politics has produced a people that are increasingly disillusioned and cynical, weak and servile to central government that they are dependent upon, lazy and apathetic about the work needed to maintain a healthy democracy.

      This problem started at least 150 years ago.

      The forces of evil and imperialism finally triumphed. it is just a question of how long it will take for the collapse t set in.

      Ronald Reagan fooled people into thinking that exploitation and short term gain were “patriotic” 25+ years ago.

      This was possible because the Left’s opposition to right wing imperialism became discredited in the wake of the 60s/70s cultural changes.

      Everyone is to blame. Everyone has participated in the system with far too little protest for far too long.

      populist outrage is pointless if the tea parties phenomena is an accurate model of how the establishment will corrupt politics to maintain the status quo.

  • pjc

    It’s been a while since I commented here.

    Here is my review of this post.

    1. Yes
    2. Yes
    3. Yes
    4. Yes
    5  Yes
    6  Yes
    7  Maaaybe
    8  Yes
    9  Oh HELL YES!!!
    10 Yes

    This is vintage Altucher. There is no funnier American iconclast working today.

    In fact, I’m starting to think this blog isn’t even written by James Altucher anymore. I think George Carlin has been reincarnarted as a technophilliac financial wizard.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      PJC! Where’ve you been!?

  • PaulTD

    I’ve always wondered why our soldiers have to travel half way around the world to fight for “our way of life”?  Do they bring it back in jars?  Oh, Barrels, of course!  Support the Moops!

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      If they did bring it back in jars, I want one. I can put it on my kitchen table. 

  • Linda

    You forgot the quasi religious overtones of “the founding fathers” – they’ve become saints who knew all. Almost like Moses. 

    • Anonymous

      The Founding Fah-thers, yes, one must always employ hushed tones when speaking of THEM, Praise Our Ford.

      • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

        I agree. People forget the one obvious thing: Thomas Jefferson raped slaves. Who knows what else happened back then but DNA proves that one statement. 

        • Dither

          And Washington is said to have had his slaves’ teeth pulled out so they could be used to fashion his dentures.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1676832039 -Richard Simpson-

          DNA evidence may prove sexual intercourse, but not rape.  For that you’ll have to prove that he used his position to deny her a choice in the matter, I think.  While slavery is wrong, it is also wrong to assume that every slave owner mistreated his slaves.

          Would you say that Schwarzenegger ‘raped’ his maid?  In this case, like Jefferson’s, the only demonstrated moral transgression seems to be against the marital vow, not the individuals’ right to choose.

          • Dither

            Uh, Richard, is enslavement not mistreatment? What planet are you living on?

          • D2

            You need context of the time period here…Black people were not considered human in TJ’s time and therefore it would be considered more like beastiality…Not rape…If the slaves resisted. I do like Lysander Spooner’s No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1676832039 -Richard Simpson-

          DNA evidence may prove sexual intercourse, but not rape.  For that you’ll have to prove that he used his position to deny her a choice in the matter, I think.  While slavery is wrong, it is also wrong to assume that every slave owner mistreated his slaves.

          Would you say that Schwarzenegger ‘raped’ his maid?  In this case, like Jefferson’s, the only demonstrated moral transgression seems to be against the marital vow, not the individuals’ right to choose.

        • BJNugent

          DNA proves no such thing.  It proves only that some of Sally’s children
          were of the same male line as Jefferson.  The people who were there at the time thought the father was Jefferson’s brother’s son.  Also, Jefferson was in Europe when some of the children were conceived.

  • Anonymous

    The 11th Commandment:  The Action Myth and Metaphor:

    It is no coincidence that we call our mythical super-powered champions Action Heroes.

    Americans worship action and those who take action. We scorn those who fail act. Action, as Mark Twain famously said, speaks louder than words. Either you are part of the
    solution or you are part of the problem. No middle ground exists.

    Why is this metaphor faulty? How does this myth do us harm? Pioneering CBS journalist Eric Sevareid had a quote that I love, “The chief cause of problems is solutions.” While taking action toward solutions can be good, it is not always good. There are situations where doing nothing is better than doing anything. Some situations call for REFRAINING from taking action.

    Look at the biggest failures of the average American:

    Obesity.
    Indebtedness.
    Addiction.
    Violence.
    Uncontrolled greed.
    Impulsivity.

    They all lie in our inability to refrain from taking action.

    Why do we fail at refraining from destructive action? Partly, I believe, because we irrationally
    believe that problems always require action to bring about a solution.

    We believe the action myth and metaphor applies to everything.

  • superhl

    James,
    You are so correct on the FDA! How can it be shutdown? It is very powerful not only here in America but other countries.

  • eric obrien

    …that the military fights for our freedoms.  Just another unquestioned “truth”

  • eric obrien

    …that the military fights for our freedoms.  Just another unquestioned “truth”

  • josh

    What about marriage? What we sell versus the realities,etc. Happiness and marriage can feel mutually exclusive. 

    • Anonymous

      The words you used are interesting.  You said happiness and marriage can FEEL mutually exclusive.

      Is it possible that your personal experiences have conditioned you, like Pavlov’s dogs, to believe it to be true?  In the same way that the ringing bell caused those dogs to drool, perhaps the mental images of marriage make you FEEL less happy.  Did some past experiences cause you to link marriage with sadness?

      While I am no marriage evangelist I believe there is plenty of good scientific evidence to show that people in committed relationships are happier than those who are not. 

      • josh

        You summed it up pretty well at the end: people in committed relationships are happier than those who are not. 

        Not necessarily marriage. 

        My 12-year marriage is probably above average in terms of happiness, despite the fact that we’ve always had different dreams and goals for the future. It’s just that we both make a concerted effort to make this invisible thing called ‘us’, work. 

        At this point in our lives, our lack respect for the institution of marriage is countered by deeply valuing our commitment to each other. Ironically, when you both realize there’s no magic in the certificate, and it’s just two people hashing it out, that’s when it can become special.  

        My point was that we pass along these culture-things to the next generation as if they’re paved road but sometimes they’re potholes. 

  • josh

    What about marriage? What we sell versus the realities,etc. Happiness and marriage can feel mutually exclusive. 

  • Polishcarl

    I love you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Dennis-Spain/675272687 Dennis Spain

    Glad to have discovered your writing. I agree with everything you write in this essay. Now I don’t feel so strange around my fellow Americans. Thanks.

  • Anonymous

    Sound like The Xenophobe’s Guide to the Americans
     http://www.ovalbooks.com/xeno/Americans.html

  • http://www.zacharyburt.com/ Zachary Burt

    11.  Start a blog

  • Huffkat

    You, Sir, are a damned sceptical cynic.

    I like that …

  • Bparrish2

    James, this post is golden.  How is it that the masses don’t see it?  I’m thinking it’s like the mind control thing that Hitler/Nazi’s used to confuse the peoples’ moral compass.

    • Trevor

      Individually people are smart, but collectively people are ignorant, gullible idiots incapable of thinking rationally, thereby consenting to some of the most evil and ridiculous policies and practices their cult can invent.

      • Trevor

        Oh, and where people even realize they’re wrong, the vast majority of those would rather continue to be wrong than admit they were wrong.

      • Anonymous

        Nice quote taken from Men In Black

  • Jack

    I hate to be a wet blanket here and I’m not a grammar nazi but I do find it difficult to take advice from someone who is “college educated” yet doesn’t proof read his own articles.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Don’t then.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Don’t then.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Don’t then.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Don’t then.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Don’t then.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Don’t then.

    • apivetta

      I find it difficult to take advice from somebody who spells “proofread” as two words.

      • Trevor

        I was just gonna say that!

    • http://fontwords.com Mitchell Powell

      You need to capitalize “Nazi,” and probably need to put a comma after it as well. You also need a comma after “college educated” but before the final quotes.

    • http://fontwords.com Mitchell Powell

      You need to capitalize “Nazi,” and probably need to put a comma after it as well. You also need a comma after “college educated” but before the final quotes.

  • http://www.facebook.com/davejoeranallo Dave Ranallo

    Let’s add to ur list – schools, ag subsidies, healthcare’s fee for service payment model,marriage and borders (suburbs, cities, counties, states, etc). All of these need massive reform or completely eliminated.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      I agree on all of those. I, for myself, like being married. But I don’t like all the laws surrounding it. As for ag subsidies, etc I agree that these are laws that should be reformed but not necessarily are “commandments” (unless you live in Idaho). 

      Schools is an entire other topic. From kindergarten on our kids are totally ruined. I wish I had the wherewithal to insist I homeschool my kids rather than see them continuously destroyed.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      I agree on all of those. I, for myself, like being married. But I don’t like all the laws surrounding it. As for ag subsidies, etc I agree that these are laws that should be reformed but not necessarily are “commandments” (unless you live in Idaho). 

      Schools is an entire other topic. From kindergarten on our kids are totally ruined. I wish I had the wherewithal to insist I homeschool my kids rather than see them continuously destroyed.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      I agree on all of those. I, for myself, like being married. But I don’t like all the laws surrounding it. As for ag subsidies, etc I agree that these are laws that should be reformed but not necessarily are “commandments” (unless you live in Idaho). 

      Schools is an entire other topic. From kindergarten on our kids are totally ruined. I wish I had the wherewithal to insist I homeschool my kids rather than see them continuously destroyed.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      I agree on all of those. I, for myself, like being married. But I don’t like all the laws surrounding it. As for ag subsidies, etc I agree that these are laws that should be reformed but not necessarily are “commandments” (unless you live in Idaho). 

      Schools is an entire other topic. From kindergarten on our kids are totally ruined. I wish I had the wherewithal to insist I homeschool my kids rather than see them continuously destroyed.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_KDC4JCJ7X4ZKA7MTDNGX3XBYSU Jason

        We home school our two daughters 3 days a week and send them to a Montessori school 2 days a week. Between the rise of the internet and fall of public education – a more a-la-carte version of learning is just stating to take hold.

        One example – almost every mesums, libiray, zoo, art center, etc. is now offering classes during the day M-F (basically home school classes). These classes are cheap, excellent quality, and your main requirement is transportation.

        • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

          I 100% agree with this. I wish I could do this with my kids. 

          • Anonymous

            I think taking kids out of school and NOT homeschooling them is a better option than leaving them in school. Just let them play all day. They’ll be brilliant and everyone will tell you, “Well, that worked for you because your kids are gifted.” (I’m speaking from experience here.)

          • Peter_john_arnold

            Absolutely, took the kids (2 boys) out of school for 6 months and traveled overseas, came back and they went back into their classes. 6 weeks later they did the end of year exams, came top of their classes.
            I wish I could have done it every year.
            My whole school curriculum could have been completed in one year at age 13/14. total waste of 11 years.
            teach them to read and count, and let them loose in a library once a week.

          • shenandoah

            Katherine, PeterJArnold, James, My kid is currently working in Silicon Valley at age 17, where she has been offered positions at biotech startups incl stock options etc. We kept her out of school until age 14 when she sent to MIT. She left after 2 years with top grades to pursue real achievement… in the marketplace. We did not homeschool her. Just let her pursue whatever she wanted. Turned out to be math, science and reading big Russian and French novels.

            You are right, James. A college degree just puts you 5 years behind your peers.

          • Peter_john_arnold

            Absolutely, took the kids (2 boys) out of school for 6 months and traveled overseas, came back and they went back into their classes. 6 weeks later they did the end of year exams, came top of their classes.
            I wish I could have done it every year.
            My whole school curriculum could have been completed in one year at age 13/14. total waste of 11 years.
            teach them to read and count, and let them loose in a library once a week.

      • Fubar

        James, agriculture was the first thing corrupted, and it has to be the first thing reformed. Read Wendell Berry and Wallace Stegner. Examine John Wesley Powell’s life and your will understand the geopolitics and history:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Wesley_Powell

        Ag. subsidies have a very large role in american politics, which is weird because they only affect 1% of the population.

        Underpopulated states hold overpopulated states hostage in Congress because the Senate has two Senators from each state. Ag. states hold non-ag states hostage all the time in the Senate in completely disgusting ways (usually right wing stupidity).

        http://exiledonline.com/tea-bagger-closet-cases-then-now-jfk-faced-exact-same-accusations-as-obama/

        (archival URL
         http://
          exiledonline.com/
           tea-bagger-closet-cases-then-now-jfk-faced-exact-same-accusations-as-obama/
        )

        Please get out of NYC every once in a while and go west, young man.

        I support sustainable family farms (to the extent possible), not corporate agribusiness.

        Big Oil and Big Ag have poisoned the american people with Cheap Carbs (sugar and starch are far worse than fatty meats – read Dr. Andew Weil).

        Now, the health care system is irrational, and in crisis.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_V35XRQGHZ5GXGU4RLTJL6B2XLI Kevin

    A few other ideas.

    1. The government is here to take care of us.
    2. When things get close to SHTF stage, let’s get the government to issue more regulations.
    3. Government knows best. That’s why William Buckley said he would be more satisfied being governed by the first 50 names of the Manhattan phone directory than Congress
    4. FDA should be renamed Foolish Drug Addicts.

  • whoisasking

    There is another religion….”the US soldier can do no wrong” cult.   Point out the clear fact that all US soldiers involved in foreign wars are braking the law ergo are traitors.  Guarantees to bring life to the party.  Just wait till the American GI’s get ordered to “subdue” civil discord stateside and kill a few hundred Americans like they do to brown folks around the world.

    • Anonymous

      As a former ‘traitor,’ I salute your warped world view. If we extend that view then, because we are a representative democracy, you are a traitor and a criminal because they are out there because your representatives sent them there.

      The average soldier has no choice in the matter. If we are to blame anyone for the supposed subjugation of other people, then it is the electorate that is to blame.

      The armed forces are just like the rest of society because they are formed from it. -Some good, some bad, mostly just average Americans in sometimes extraordinary circumstances. To paint them as mindless, vicious, ruthless killers is to expose a lack of understanding of monumental proportions.

      I understand that you are unlikely to change your mind and I respect your right to have your opinion, but I have heard all too much of this sort of talk from people and I will refute it any chance that I get. I don’t idolize our service members because I was one, but I also won’t stand by and let them be slandered either.

      Shame on you and the people who ‘like’ your spew.

      • mamma

        “The average soldier has no choice in the matter. If we are to blame anyone for the supposed subjugation of other people, then it is the electorate that is to blame.”   Oh so much BS.  Translation:  The average soldier(a complete conformist dick 75IQ) can not be held accountable for state sponsored murder because some government bureaucrat told him to take this gun and kill brown people.

        Did not your mother ever tell you,  “If Johnny tells you to jump off a bridge…don’t do it.”

        US soldiers are f’in mass murderers or support mass murder.  Cause they get away with makes it no less wrong.

      • Fubar

        Dgarber,

        Great to see your comments again.

        There has always been two versions of american patriotism. the true patriotism is based on liberty.

        the second is confused for the first. it is imperialistic.

        All imperial societies eventually fail because they overextend their military presence and then their economies collapse when they can no longer exploit the resources of the conquered lands/people.

        america is a declining imperialistic power that can no longer afford to militarily dominate the world.

        the military industrial complex played its role in the destruction of true democracy.

        thus, the defense of that military industrial complex (and the associated, privacy violating national security apparatus) is equivalent to Treason.

        Everything said here is being monitored by the State Military Security Apparatus.

        What else needs to be known?

  • http://taylorondrey.wordpress.com Taylor Ondrey

    I think you could add the concept of “settling down” or “steady income” to this list.  

    About a month ago my wife and I quit well paying steady jobs to move overseas to simply experience living outside the US.  People who know us well thought it was a great move for us, but when explaining our decision to others, we got some looks of disgust.  The idea of leaving this American dream of a steady income seemed to violate their beliefs.After explaining we don’t own a home and have no debt so we actually can do this, their demeanor changed.  I think a lot of people want to break free from these commandments of the American religion, but they need to see real examples of how it can be done and permission to do so.

    Thanks for the post James

    • http://www.brookefarmer.com Brooke Farmer

      I got those same looks of disgust when telling people I was quitting a good paying job that was making me miserable to pursue my dreams. Especially from people who were unemployed. But, despite the stresses I have encountered and the moments that have made me wonder if I’d made a mistake, I am still happy with my decision nearly a year of barely scraping by later. 

      Good luck to you! Enjoy your adventure. 

    • Rezdoc

      do us all a favor…don’t move back.

      • Fubar

        obviously it would be “stupid” to try to learn something from them when they return.

      • Fubar

        obviously it would be “stupid” to try to learn something from them when they return.

      • Fubar

        obviously it would be “stupid” to try to learn something from them when they return.

      • Fubar

        obviously it would be “stupid” to try to learn something from them when they return.

      • Fubar

        obviously it would be “stupid” to try to learn something from them when they return.

  • hp

    #2, along with the opening sentence comes closest to  what should be #1 and is undeniably the biggest no-no of all time. In a class of its own. (we’ve only just begun)
    The Holocaustianity religion.
    Not only is any denial of this carved in stone event unacceptable, to deny this event is actually, as we all know, illegal in many nations of Europe and soon to be in Canada and the USA.

    Can you imagine if you stood in Times Square and said “no Jews were ever gassed at any camp in Germany? (even though this is the honest truth as spoken by Wiesenthal himself) You would have people perpetrating felonies upon your person which would be dismissed, explained off as though they were justifiable passion.

    Case closed.   

  • hp

    One other thing.
    I read somewhere once that American soldiers fought for freedom in only two wars.

    One was the Revolutionary war and the other was the South during the Civil War.
    I agree.

    • Roger

      Actually, the last war the US fought for freedom, was the war of 1812.  The Civil War was a war of imperial aggression by one part of the nation against the other.  The Civil War was not a war fought for freedom unless you were fighting for the Confederate States. 

      • Thomas Rippel

        You misread hp’s comment. He was saying that the Civil War was fought for freedom by the South (i.e. Confederate States)

        • Fubar

          yes. so that the “free” south could continue as a medieval (conformist) slave society. lol.

        • Fubar

          yes. so that the “free” south could continue as a medieval (conformist) slave society. lol.

        • Fubar

          yes. so that the “free” south could continue as a medieval (conformist) slave society. lol.

        • Fubar

          yes. so that the “free” south could continue as a medieval (conformist) slave society. lol.

        • Fubar

          yes. so that the “free” south could continue as a medieval (conformist) slave society. lol.

  • Bill Walker

    Damn good post James! I’d suggest adding “the belief that letting government print money and give it to their friends somehow helps the economy”, and “the belief that there is a Social Security “trust fund”.

    Especially good point about the FDA… I worked in medical research for seven years, and this is what I think of the FDA:
    http://www.lewrockwell.com/walker/walker29.html

  • Decomposed

    11. Human Life is Sacred. 12. Diversity is Good. 13. Political Incorrectness Should be Punished. 14. All men are equal. 15. Lincoln was a great president. 16. The government is our friend. 17. Nothing Really Bad Can Ever Happen in America.

  • Decomposed

    11. Human Life is Sacred. 12. Diversity is Good. 13. Political Incorrectness Should be Punished. 14. All men are equal. 15. Lincoln was a great president. 16. The government is our friend. 17. Nothing Really Bad Can Ever Happen in America.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Ha, those could be in the “amendments” to the commandments. But I agree that all of those are clearly myths in our society that you can be killed if you suggest out loud. 

      • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

        Although I do believe that “diversity”, depending on how you define it (i define it as fair immigration policies that allow people to come to our country) are good and allowed us to succeed over the centuries. 

    • Anonymous

      Harvard Professor Robert Putnam’s study showed that the more racially diverse a society is, the lower the levels of trust.
      http://goo.gl/YWJv2

  • Wolfanotaku

    You’re missing the “saints” of the American religion. Our soldiers. I know a few and even they get sick of the hero worship. They are treated sort of akin to Hercules or Orion, perfect beings who should be honored and worshiped whenever there’s a chance and if you even suggest for a moment that you don’t adore them it’s off to the stocks with you.

  • Wolfanotaku

    You’re missing the “saints” of the American religion. Our soldiers. I know a few and even they get sick of the hero worship. They are treated sort of akin to Hercules or Orion, perfect beings who should be honored and worshiped whenever there’s a chance and if you even suggest for a moment that you don’t adore them it’s off to the stocks with you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/khamburger Keith Hamburger

    Well, I do have a political philosophy and have specific requirements for such.  A political philosophy must be congruent with an objective reality, it must be internally consistent and it must be universally applicable. The only political/social philosophy I’ve found that meets those criteria is individualist, propertarian anarchy.

    http://peacefreedomprosperity.com/4352/this-i-believe/

  • http://www.facebook.com/khamburger Keith Hamburger

    Well, I do have a political philosophy and have specific requirements for such.  A political philosophy must be congruent with an objective reality, it must be internally consistent and it must be universally applicable. The only political/social philosophy I’ve found that meets those criteria is individualist, propertarian anarchy.

    http://peacefreedomprosperity.com/4352/this-i-believe/

  • Androidqueen2011

    What about the religion of the nuclear family? A wife, husband, 2.5 children, and a dog (or cat)? First, “Leave it to Beaver” never represented my family. I came from a single-parent, middle class home where my grandmother raised me. I choose not to marry and thus I am not entitled to so many institutional benefits that couples are. Never mind the disturbing disparity between the same-sex couples and heterosexuals. And don’t even get me started on the puritanical culture that seems to frown at sex while steeped deep into its most disturbing, perverse side. I guess what I am saying is that HYPOCRISY is an American religion!!

    • Anonymous

      Ever heard of statistics?  Try running some on single-parent families vs. traditional…

      • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

        Obviously many of those statistics have enormous selection bias in them and its hard to really get reliable stats on income, education levels, etc. 

  • Thomas Rippel

    James, I very much agree with you on the point that college is the wrong path for most people. And countries like England setting national goals such that 50% of all kids should go to college (up form some 40% now) is the worst kind statistical mania. Some of these people should take statistics 101 and try to grasp the difference between correlation and causality. 
    The Swiss have actually understood this. Only 12% of kids go to University. There was an upwards trend in the late 90s, but they realized that it would have negative long term consequences and heavily steered int eh opposite direction. What do all the other kids do? More than 50% of them go to trade schools. They learn to be a a well trained and professional worker in whatever field they enter For example woodworkers, carpenters, hairdressers, baker, metallworksmen (not sure what that is in english), draftsmen, gardeners, IT person, sales person, IT personell, insurance expert, plumber, painter and so on. They go to these schools at the age of 16 and usually get trained for 3 or 4 years. But here is the big difference: they go to school 2 days a week and work 3 days a week the first year and from 2nd year they go to school only one day a week (thou they have a lot of homework) and work 4 days a week. That way they learn the theory, but more importantly learn the practice of their trade and become specialists. AND they earn a living wage while they do it. Once they are done, at the age of 20, an average skilled person earns about 5000 Franks ($6000) a month. 
    They realized that a society as a whole can not work if everyone wants to be a manager, ‘international business person’, or study literature. Most of those degrees are garbage. No practical skills. It leaves you with NOTHING!!! F***ing nothing. you end up being less useful at 21 when you graduate from one of those F***ing useless degrees than you were at 18 when you were still filled with passion and energy. College sucks people dry and spits them out on the street just to become slaves to the system. 
    Another point you should have included is the religion of cheap! Go on the street and tell people they should be paying $15 for their hamburgers and people will shove you right into traffic to be run over by some fatass riding an SUV licking the mayonaise of his sloppy mouth. 
    We are simply not paying the true price of food! And the government gives billions of dollars of subsidies to corn producers every year to keep this unsustainable system going. The soils that we plant crops on has become so degraded over the past 50 years that it is absolutely dead. It has turned into a wasteland that can ONLY let anything grow on it because we trow millions of tons of petrochemical fertilizer on them. Well good luck when the oil runs out. We got 30 years left. But wait another 10 and you will see $500 a barrel. Soil needs to be health. Drive to one of those cornfields and put your hand in the soil and SMELL it. It smells like death. When there is no fertilizer that soil will not even be able to grow hay on it any more. There are no worms, no insects, no microbes, and really no plants left except the genetically modified terminator crops we plant on them. 
    And all because we want out food CHEAP!! And we want it NOW! And we dont give a shit about seasonality any more. Lets eat the same food all year long. Who cares we have to get the tomatos from Brazil. And who cares that they taste like water and have no nutrients, vitamins or minerals in them. They LOOK red. Who cares our chickens are so fucking sick they cant even walk on their deformed legs any more by the time they are fully grown. Who cares eggs taste like plastic. Most people dont even know what a real egg tastes like. They have never tried on in their life. They certainly wouldnt find one in the supermarket. http://www.whitehouseblackshutters.com/2010/04/farm-eggs-vs-store-eggs-and-aussie.html

    So how about we start paying the real price of food. And respect the people who dedicate their life to growing it! 

  • Joe Fondren

    No slaves in America were freed by Lincoln in 1862, or by way of the  infamous “Emancipation Proclamation”.  That  document purported to only free the slaves in the Confederate States of America where “Honest Abe” had no more jurisdiction than British King George III had in these United States of America after our Unanimous Declaration in 1776.  Lincoln’s document even exempted the freeing of slaves in Confederate territory that was presently held by the Yankee invader and was intended to bring about a slave revolt which ( much to the credit of black Southrons of the time) did not happen, the intent being to cause Southern men to abandon the battlefields and return home to protect their homes and families.  Slavery ended in America with the enactment of the Thirteenth Amendment after the War for Southern Independence.  

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Thanks for the elaboration. 

  • CT

    I love it when you take several of your past posts and then combine them into a new post.  I’m currious, politacally speaking, where would be a better place to live, raise kids, etc. this day and age?  Where could one move where they will not have the politcal issues and restraints as we do here in America?  BTW, I agree with all your points above with the exception of wars.  I’ll write you more on that in the future.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      I live about 70 mil north of NYC and love it. I can get into the city when i want but I’m outside of the commuter gravitational pull that’s filled with the bankers in Westchester. Much of my town is artists, writers, antique collectors, musicians, etc. 

      However, if I didn’t have to be near NYC and family I’m starting to like the idea of being dead center in the middle of the geographic 50 states: Kansas. 

      • rabbit

        Can I ask how diverse your town is?  Is it liberal?

  • Coyote Jackson

    The FDA opinion is off the mark.  If every drug was to treat someone who was terminally ill, it might be ok to be unregulated (The FDA already loosens regs for those circumstances by the way).  However, the vast vast majority of drugs are therapy for controllable disease.  So if I have diabetes, I get access to 100 drugs that promise to cure me or prevent chronic side effects but might actually kill me and I have no way of knowing what’s safe and what isn’t?

    Ever hear of Thalidomide?  How about metyl phenyl tetrahydropyridine?  There are millions of pharmalogically active chemicals that will ruin your day.  Drug regulation may not be perfect, but it’s necessary.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      You say “you have no way of knowing”. A) the FDA doesn’t guaranteee these drugs are safe. Many “safe” drugs are later recalled after killing many people. 
      B) if you have diabetes an entire cottage industry of websites will sprout up to help you figure out which are safe and which aren’t. Through a very quick process of trial and error you will know which “Virtual FDA” are safe and which arent’. Plus many of these drugs are well-tested in academia and by corporations before hitting the FDA trail. 

      Also, the FDA doesn’t allow any nutraceuticals to make health claims when in fact many would be much better for various diseases than the drugs that claim to cure those diseases. Net-net lives are lost. 

      • Coyote Jackson

        So you want to take an imperfect situation (FDA doesn’t guarantee…) and make it worse by letting anybody create an LLC make a claim and sell some snake oil?

        The cottage industry would be rife with conflicts of interest and people who don’t know what they are talking about.  The vast majority of people would not be able to discern good science from marketing fluff.  I speak from personal experience as my parents were duped into buying expensive dietary supplements that were supposed to cure all their ills.  After flushing a few thousand dollars down the toilet, they realized it was a scam.  Thankfully, it was a harmless supplement, not something loaded with heavy metals from China.

        I would rather trust the FDA process and a bunch of MDs and Ph.D.s than some doctor of naturopathy who has a great idea and a pail full of powder he purchased on the internet.  True, those MDs and Ph.Ds wasted all that time going to college instead of learning to play a trumpet while traveling the world, but I’d rather they be making the decisions about what is safe and what works.  

        Further, the ‘quick process of trial and error’ is something you can employ if starting tech companies.  It’s not a great strategy for selling medicine.  The errors are a lot more serious.  

        Net-net, lives are saved by the FDA, not lost.  It’s not even close.  And the system, while far from perfect, provides a lot more safety and sanity than free market drug peddling.  If you want to treat yourself with drugs not approved by the FDA, it’s not that hard to do, just pack your trumpet and hop a flight. I wish you luck, you’ll need it.

        • Mhc60em2

          “Net-net, lives are saved by the FDA, not lost. It’s not even close.”

          That statement is total bullshit as you have no way of knowing what would arise in place of the FDA. This answer is typical of people with a statist mindset. They think that certain things would never happen unless the government ie FDA were involved.

          • Coyote Jackson

            Ok, so your assertion is that the existence of the FDA costs lives.  It’s either one or the other.  I’ve outlined my rationale for how the FDA saves lives, where’s your logical rebuttal?

          • Dither

            Absolutely, the FDA costs lives. It keeps life-saving drugs, some of which are available overseas, out of U.S. markets. It raises the costs to bring drugs to market, thus raising prices for consumers. It also fosters a false sense of security regarding the safety of the products it approves. As a result, consumers don’t do their own research and make poor choices.

            The FDA once banned the sale of stevia, a natural, plant-based, non-caloric sweetener that had been used safely for centuries in Latin America and decades in Japan. It did so at the behest of the makers of artificial sweeteners, which are dangerous and cause cancer in laboratory animals, yet remain FDA-approved.

            You know that dairy cows are given hormones to increase milk production? This causes infections in their udders, so they are also shot up with antibiotics. The FDA, which bans raw milk, says this is fine. The free market response was to give us non-hormonal, non-antibiotic milk. So the FDA prohibited the non-hormonal, non-antibiotic milk from being labelled as such. Eventually, they allowed for labeling, but still required a disclaimer saying that milk from cows not injected with hormones and antibiotics was no different from the hormonal, antibiotic variety.

            The FDA should be understood as an agency of big medicine and big agriculture. It exists to shut down competition that might threaten the big players and their monopoly privileges. Like most of the regulatory apparatus, and the government itself, it is a tool of power, not a benevolent protector.

        • http://www.brookefarmer.com Brooke Farmer

          I hate to break it to you, but the FDA is “rife with conflict of interests.” 

          I am not saying what James has proposed is the right solution, but find me ONE person who is part of the FDA and not also receiving funds from drug companies directly. Just one. They don’t even have to hide it. They are allowed to accept funds under various pretenses to accept funds from the drug companies that they are supposed to be objectively evaluating. There is no objectivity in the FDA right now. There is as much conflict of interest and corruption, if not more, than we would see in these cottage industries. 

        • rev

          Well said. FDA is often forced to make tough calls to approve a drug. And FDA Approval does not mean a product is safe or that it even works. FDA Approval is nuanced.

          Ever read a label for an FDA approved drug? Numerous safety concerns and claims of effectiveness are listed there. Its up to doctors and patients to then make a call about whether to use a drug with such and such safety risks and such and such potential to cure. And this data is based off of scientific research.

          And for the person below who says FDA is rife with conflict of interests… Really? Not that I have seen lately.

          • http://www.brookefarmer.com Brooke Farmer

            Forbes discussing conflict of interest in the FDA: http://www.forbes.com/2005/02/24/cx_mh_0224fda.html

            MSNBC discussing conflict of interest in the FDA: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12483353/ns/health-health_care/t/fda-drug-panels-rife-conflicts-interest/

            Journal of American Medical Association discussing conflict of interest in the FDA: http://jama.ama-assn.org/content/301/7/709.short

            AND…
            The FDA discussing conflict of interest in the FDA: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2009/10/13/FDA-Admits-to-Massive-Conflict-of-Interest.aspxEducate yourself. 

          • rev

            Thanks for those links.

            You do understand that those articles are discussing the conflicts of interest of the Doctors that FDA sometimes asks advice from? These are not about FDA internal reviewers or doctors.

            And of course these experts sometimes have conflicts. FDA usually only asks advice from these panels for serious diseases/drugs or complicated and specialized cases. In these instances there might only be a few experts in the country who can chime in. Unfortunately those few experts have often gained their expertise by researching the disease and drugs through studies in some way funded by Drug companies.

            To be a devil’s advocate, here’s an article that swings the other way:
            http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/08/01/us-fda-bias-idUSTRE7703R320110801

      • GHC

        check out www.firstliferesearch.com. This is a venture that can help enhance the guidance of the regulators which is (while not perfect) the best available protection for consumers of medication. Many thanks,

  • whoisasking

    “It also peeves me off that the people who risk their lives (military, police) are some of the llowest paid.” How does serving the banking cartel and breaking one’s enlistment oath by serving in unlawful wars deserve any pay at all? Farmers feed us at great risk of personal injury.Where is the farmer’s love?
     

  • Anonymous

    Maybe the “charities” in NYC run things like that, but I’d say that there are quite a few that give a good portion of their funds directly to people who need it…

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      I really don’t think thats true. Substantial charities are created to exist for the long-term, meaning they invest their money and try to live each year within the income they generate (like most financial entitites including our households). 

  • http://www.brookefarmer.com Brooke Farmer

    #5- Imagine if all giving were tax deductible. If you didn’t have to go through an approved organization but could give directly to the person in need. Every Christmas that I have been able to do so I have bought Christmas for a family who couldn’t afford to give to their kids. Because I remember a Christmas I had no money to buy my son gifts. It has always been a family I knew or that was a friend of a friend. I try to bring a hot meal to at least one person who wasn’t going to eat that day once a month. I wish I could do it more, but I don’t have a job myself right now and that is what I can give. I bet there would be more giving and less need if we could write off those charitable contributions that don’t go to pay executives. 

    #6- I was just sitting in my car listening to talk radio and hearing that the FDA is trying to force a nut manufacturer to register their product as a “drug” because they made (truthful) claims about the health benefits of their product. The FDA is out of control. And also corrupt. Deaths that occur during trials are often covered up and all of the members of the FDA are also making money directly from drug companies. 

    #7- I’ve said it before, but I disagree with you here. Without a representative republic (instead of direct democracy) our nation would never have over come the civil rights struggles. Women would never have earned the vote to right. There would always be an oppressive majority exploiting the minority. 

    #8- I would love to see the two party system go. It will never happen. The deck is stacked. On the occasion that a third party candidate gets into congress they cannot get any power there because the minority and majority leaders make sure they don’t get placed on the committees that would most help their constituents. How do we change it? I don’t know. But it will never change from the inside out. 

    #9- My father works for a news outlet. He has said a thousand times, “My job is to scare the shit out of everyone so they tune in next week.” It’s true. The internet may be the antidote. Time will tell. 

    #10- One more way we are restricting the people who are most likely to bring us to the next frontier? Look to our children. Thomas Edison was kicked out of school. The teacher in that one room schoolhouse told his mother the boy was “unteachable.” His mother home schooled him and he became one of the greatest inventors of all time. Today he would have been given high doses of Ritalin and made to sit down, shut up, and memorize the information the teacher wrote on the chalkboard. We would never have had the light bulb or any of the other hundreds of inventions he brought to us. We can largely thank the FDA for our lack of innovation. 

    • Anonymous

      You are a good soul.

  • Anonymous

    Nice ant-establishment piece James, you make some good points.

    I especially agree with your views on eliminating our representative government and switching to a complete (or weighted) democracy.  Our current technology now allows us to get rid of “the middle man” i.e. the representative who makes a living for himself siphoning money.  No more traveling to Washington on horseback.  We can and should be able to vote ourselves directly on the issues.

  • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

    Answering all questions I get on twitter from 1 – 1:30 EST today. Ask from 12:30 – 1pm. 

  • Anonymous

    Also, fight in and support endless Wars for Israel, it all started nearly a decade ago under a false flag attack.9/11 and Israel, here:
    http://www.iuniverse.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-000190526

  • Anonymous

    Also, fight in and support endless Wars for Israel, it all started nearly a decade ago under a false flag attack.9/11 and Israel, here:
    http://www.iuniverse.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-000190526

  • Tom

    So would you oppose the US entering WWII after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and the Nazis declared war on us?  If we hadn’t, all of Europe would’ve come under Soviet control instead of just Eastern Europe, and Hitler would’ve murdered a few million more Jews before being defeated by the numerically superior Soviet Red Army.  And all of Asia would be slaves under the control of a Japanese military dictatorship.

  • Tom

    So would you oppose the US entering WWII after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and the Nazis declared war on us?  If we hadn’t, all of Europe would’ve come under Soviet control instead of just Eastern Europe, and Hitler would’ve murdered a few million more Jews before being defeated by the numerically superior Soviet Red Army.  And all of Asia would be slaves under the control of a Japanese military dictatorship.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Yeah, I doubt that. But what I really would’ve done was restructured reparations before fascists took over in Germany in 1933. And i would not have made Hitler Time magazine’s “man of the year” in 1938. 6mm jews died by the time we even got over there. And we even turneed away the jews that were trying to get over here. 

  • Tom

    So would you oppose the US entering WWII after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and the Nazis declared war on us?  If we hadn’t, all of Europe would’ve come under Soviet control instead of just Eastern Europe, and Hitler would’ve murdered a few million more Jews before being defeated by the numerically superior Soviet Red Army.  And all of Asia would be slaves under the control of a Japanese military dictatorship.

  • http://twitter.com/KevVigil KVigil

    I share the exact same feeling about going to college. But since I am an immigrant, my parents heavily embedded the whole concept of having to go to college in order to be someone.

    I now have to pay back $40,000 in loans. I strongly feel that the education I received is not valued in this dollar amount. And being that I have an entrepreneur spirit, it’s going to be a long time before I even begin paying them back. But, here’s the thing. I don’t want pay them back and quite honestly I feel like I don’t have to because I was taken advantaged of.

    I was seventeen when I signed all the necessary paperwork to take out a loan. I had no idea what I was doing and neither did my parents. They weren’t even present. What the heck! At that age, you can’t possibly understand what it means to pay back an amount and all the interest being accrued.

    I would like to change the process of taking out loans if your under 21. Maybe it would even be helpful if you were in some type of program before signing your life away. 

    Am I wrong?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_3MWBKXQNGDRUXVA6ZO7D6JBMPM Engineer Zero

    Please, can the South Was Right brigade please go back to the nineteenth century where you belong?  Sure, Lincoln did it only for the tariffs, but the Confederacy was just as illegitimate as the federal government.  It never held an election, shut down opposition editors, drafted its soldiers, sold out to British central banking interests, inflated a fiat currency, went to war against states which seceded from it, and, oh, by the way, had one third of its population in chattel slavery.

    The Civil War should never have been fought and Lincoln was quite arguably a scoundrel, but let’s acknowledge that the Confederacy was driven by the interests of its own financial elite and no holy cause to preserve ‘Southern Culture.’  By the way, contrary to propaganda, Lee owned twenty-seven slaves so don’t go telling me what a ‘fine christian’ he was.  

    All wars are wrong and all governments are wrong, get over it.  And just because you’re fighting a war against their government doesn’t make the war or your government in the right.  Because once you set foot on that slippery slope, it’s right off the edge of the cliff into unalloyed neoconservatism.    
     

     

  • Chumchingee

     I think you are right. If you mean by religion things that are taken on faith rather than on facts.
    The great problem is the devaluation of the currency. Everything we bought in the 50s, you can almost add a zero to what it costs today. This is because we are printing money with nothing to back it up.
    College. Well, I served an apprenticeship in the Composing Room of a daily Newspaper. I started out at 55% of scale and progressed to Journeyman status in the composing room. I came out of it with no college debts. It took 6 years. I came out making more than most college grads. My trade died in the computer revolution of the 80s and 90s. It is now called graphic artists. The trade is mostly in cheap printing programs available to anyone for 350-600 dollars. Adobe stole the trade, and rightfully so. They are making half of what I made as a printer given the currency devaluation in what it buys.
    Today, I would recommend Plumbing, heating and air conditioning, electricians, nursing, pharmacy techs, or if you are really intelligent, go for the lawyer, doctor, or other specialties. Go for an apprenticeship if it is available.
    The reason I made out was my craft union was able to negotiate lifetime jobs in return for all our jurisdiction over work in the composing room. We had it in a trust agreement. Even that was not fool proof against good lawyers. In the end we lost money but for a good 20 years we had our incomes secure. Anyone that thinks they can negotiate for themselves against these companies has a fool for a client. Even the Unions could not do this against the Republican cheats stacked in the labor department in the 80s. I say cheats because they ruled blindly against actual labor law. Look it up if you do not believe me. Look at the rulings they made in the 80s.
    I recommend valid trades as an alternative to college because it works. You go out of high school with all the qualifications to work in a hamburger place. You have to have something to sell to the world. The only exception is military. They blindly accept people to become military officers if they have a college education. It does not matter what the degree is in. One man after world war II, in order to keep his commission got a degree in pottery making. He ended up as an Army general before he retired. The joke is you never know what is valuable. His pottery experience made him a natural to take over the defense department research into ceramics better known as transistors.
    In the 70s, Unions saved the day. They kept raises current with inflation. Negotiations kept the profit ratio down so the common people shared in the wealth. Today that is not happening.
    The companies reap the rewards.
    The truth is in the next couple of years there is going to be a bankruptcy rate unheard of in history. The key is usable income for things over living expenses. Right now the class of people spending money is the middle class. If living expenses dramatically increase, usable income decreases. People have to determine what they want. Pay the doctor, no way! Cable, no way! Any luxury item defined as not Food, Clothing, Shelter, and transportation is going down.
    Funny exception in the last great depression. Restaurants actually thrived. It will probably happen that way again.
    When this predicted event happens, everything will fail. New cars will be a thing of the past. Housing will be older cheap homes and rentals. Even a telephone is a luxury if you do not have the extra money to spend on one. The retailers like Walmart, Meijers, Home Depot, Lowes, Macys, Target, Sears, Kmart, and even Harbor Freight are all dependent on imports. If the currency devalues internationally, they are all out of business overnight. Discretionary income disappears then they are all out of business as they double the price of goods. We all require food to live. That will go up.
    You can still stick an antenna in your back yard or on a roof. That might be the cable during these difficult times for a lot of people.
    SO the very companies causing the problem will go down the tubes. By eliminating the middle class, all of them will kill the hand that feeds them. And that is what is happening right now. I recommend to all you young people get a trade that will see you through the hard times ahead. Get something you can sell to the world in return for making a living anywhere in the world. You may find yourself living in a foreign land just to survive but you will survive better than someone with a degree with no skill level attached to it.
    The reason we had tariffs on imports to begin with was to keep this from happening.
    The reason we had bank regulation was to keep what happened in 2008 from happening.
    The reason we had unions was to regulate fairness in the work place and guarantee a middle class capable of buying retail goods. Unions are a small percentage of the economy now.
    Well all of these things in the wisdom of our lawyer congress(99% lawyers) have gone by the wayside. Maybe it is time to replace them with people that understand why we have laws to protect the middle class of this country from ruin.
    Right now these same jokers are wanting to direct deposit everyone’s social security in the bank of your choice. Only problem is which bank will be solvent? How do you change it without money lost to a bankrupt bank? I think if Hueston in the 80s is any indication, we won’t. Thousands lost their homes as bank regulators took months(6 in some cases) to return people’s moneys. These people had their mortgages in the same bankrupt banks. They were foreclosed on. . .

  • The Money Master

    James, I like your post and agree with the vast majority of what you say.  Your post also gets people thinking which is always a good thing.  I would like to clear up one misperception that you and a lot of people have about banks and money.  Under Number 1, in the first bullet point you state “The banks need to borrow from your checking account at 0.5% and then lend right back to you at 8%. That’s how they make money and its one of the largest industries in the country.”  Banks do not lend out other peoples money.  If they did there would be no way to increase the money supply.  People have to get their money somewhere and they get it through the fractional reserve loaning process.  When banks lend money they do not lend depositors money but actually create new money that did not exist before based on a person’s collatoral, they monetize a persons collateral.  When the money is paid back it is extinguished and no longer exists.  The main problem with this system is that the money to pay the interest is never created so we have to keep borrowing more and more to pay back the compound interest by scratching and clawing with each other to capture other peoples borrowed money to pay our own loans and the interest which is never created.  We have an unsound money system based on a mathematical impossibility.  For a solution to this problem go to http://www.wealthmoney.org/

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/David-Leeman/1412704167 David Leeman

    Missed your column about the wars, but you are right.  All were unnecessary.  None, other than the Revolution, were defending our freedoms.  No power in history has had the wherewithal to bring armed forces to this country and conquer us.

  • MarkNiwot

    Very good – but you left out a few of the MOST Sacred Cows…

      — Like the Almighty Dollar   (those who have read the Bible will know that the “God” in which it trusts could NOT be the one who Wrote Scripture…because He said such dishonest “weights and measures” were an “abomination”.)  

    — the “Separation of church and state”.   Never mind that we have had an OFFICIAL State Religion for years now (call it “Big Brother Worship”, EnviroHumanismStateSalvation-ism, or fill-in-your-own favorite 501c(3) State-licensed “faith-based organization” here)…so long as it is Blessed by the IRS, of course, and can receive your Tax-Preferred Donations!

    — Modern Medicine!  (don’t EVEN THINK about not getting ‘your’ children vaccinated, for example, and don’t you DARE refuse the State’s Benevolent Insurance and Care.  You’ll NEVER get a appointment if you do, but you might rot in jail instead.)

    — and the Corollaries:

    Like “Big Pharma”  (arguably a subsidiary of the FDA, or vice-versa). 

    And NASA  (properly pronounced, as engineer and space entrepreneur Burt Rutan notes, “NAY-SAY”).  After all, if Big Brother doesn’t send you into space, no one else could POSSIBLY aspire to!  And the BATF, who protects you from having an Evil Gun — unless you’re an FBI-funded informant, or Certified Drug Lord and Big Crime Boss who can promise to promptly move the Forbidden Firearms across the southern border.  And the IRS, DEA, and …well, just pick three letters; it’s probably an Executive Branch Entity with power that no mere mortal who DOESN’T have a federal title can ever be allowed, Constitution notwithstanding…
    …but perhaps the “FDA” commandment really already covers that.

    And did I mention The License?  You “can’t be Married Without One” — regardless of what your non-state-approved (and thus, by definition, a cult) Sacred Texts may say.

  • Dspidero

    You asked us to propose others:  Here is another:  Clean your plate.  

    Man you are right though.  I haven’t read through the comments b/c there are so many.  People do get hot about this stuff.

  • theSL

    Not sure how the FDA got on this list?  How about “bigger is better”?  There is no appreciation for content or quality, we just want more of whatever we have.  Food?  Doesn’t matter if there is no nutritional content, we just want more of it.  There isn’t any thing “super” or “hungry” about super size or hungry size; they should just call it fat fuck size.  Or diabetes size.  Cars?  Who cares about efficiency or the environment, we just want to be able to crush the other guy’s car when we crash into him while talking on our cell phones.  Bodies? No one wants to be “healthy”, we want big muscles, big boobs, big dicks–we strive to be a charactature of ourselves.

  • Spen Larsen

    Business is the religion of America.

  • Bill Walker

    James is 100% right about the FDA. The FDA doesn’t create any more information or give doctors any more options, it only takes away options. The truth is that most drugs aren’t “safe”, they’re just safe for people with certain genomes and conditions. Even thalidomide is good for some things, as is botulin toxin. Even the FDA itself claims it does more harm than good… according to their own figures, the delay in the approval of beta blockers alone killed tens of thousands of people.

    Here’s a thought experiment. What if we ran the computer industry like we run the drug industry? I wrote this up in an essay:
    http://www.lewrockwell.com/walker/walker29.html

  • Lori

    you’re awesome, james. normally i wouldn’t leave such a lame comment, but i know that you like to be liked, so just know that one more person out here thinks you’re awesome! actually, my 14yo son is a fan, too, so there are two of us!

  • http://twitter.com/arianna Arianna O’Dell

    I completely agree with everything you’ve written about college. I came to the University of Washington to learn new skills that would help me as an entrepreneur and as a person. After spending the past three years here, I have been greatly disappointed. While I have learned many things from the extracurricular activities I have enrolled in, the actual classes are a joke. Memorizing irrelevant information, busy work assignments, and little offered feedback summarize my experiences in brief. In retrospect, if I were to have invested my funds in a business instead of a college education I know I would have had the opportunity to learn invaluable skills that can not be taught in a classroom environment. Sure I may have failed, but there is no better teaching mechanism than that.

  • Guest

    Hat’s off to the author, but as someone who is not an American, I can only make comments from the viewpoint of someone looking from the sidelines.   This is not meant to be an insult, but from my standpoint, the true religion of the US in the 10 points above would boil down to the Religion of Mammon.

    For a long time, I couldn’t quite pin down what it was that made Americans tick until I saw the late night infomercials of Amway or similar people spouting some get rich quick scheme.   Then there was the 60 minutes episode where everyone went to a convention to buy books and cassettes/CDs about such sales schemes (similar to Amway).   They then went into an aditorium where motivational speakers would come up on stage and talk about how they earned millions; and as a finale, the lights were dimmed and everybody pulled out lighters.   All I could think of was that it looked like Easter Mass with thousands of candles in the darkness.   Even though it was a sales meeting – the people left with tears in their eyes from the religious experience of it all.

    Again, I’m not posting this to denigrate the US or anyone else.   I still admire the founding fathers and their ideas of building a country where all people could be free.   Unfortunately, many today have changed it to a quest for goods.   The endless forays into consumerism is your best example.   Even if you could volunteer your time – no one wants it.   All they want is your money.   By the same token, anything which is not material has no value; so your time is valuless, but your money or goods isn’t.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RR4GTQOUTL6MJIRF6HGPPWVJVE Robert

    here are progressions in which the last step is sui generis — incommensurable with the others — and in which to go the whole way is to undo all the labour of your previous journey. … Up to that point, the kind of explanation which explains things away may give us something, though at a heavy cost. But you cannot go on ‘explaining away’ for ever: you will find that you have explained explanation itself away. You cannot go on ‘seeing through’ things for ever. The whole point of seeing through something is to see something through it. It is good that the window should be transparent, because the street or garden beyond it is opaque. How if you saw through the garden too? It is no use trying to ‘see through’ first principles. If you see through everything, then everything is transparent. But a wholly transparent world is an invisible world. To ‘see through’ all things is the same as not to see.

    C.S. Lewis

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RR4GTQOUTL6MJIRF6HGPPWVJVE Robert

    here are progressions in which the last step is sui generis — incommensurable with the others — and in which to go the whole way is to undo all the labour of your previous journey. … Up to that point, the kind of explanation which explains things away may give us something, though at a heavy cost. But you cannot go on ‘explaining away’ for ever: you will find that you have explained explanation itself away. You cannot go on ‘seeing through’ things for ever. The whole point of seeing through something is to see something through it. It is good that the window should be transparent, because the street or garden beyond it is opaque. How if you saw through the garden too? It is no use trying to ‘see through’ first principles. If you see through everything, then everything is transparent. But a wholly transparent world is an invisible world. To ‘see through’ all things is the same as not to see.

    C.S. Lewis

    • Anonymous

      Thank you for pointing me to that C S Lewis quote, it’s quite the thing.    I’m not sure that means we aren’t entitled to explode a few shibboleths now and again, even if it’s only to make new ones.

  • clark

    Some People,… psft…

    It’s as If a private firm providing the recommendations the FDA does currently couldn’t do a better job and People couldn’t self-teach themselves to do the job of MD’s and PhD’s to provide a better service and let the Free Market rate how well they do.

    It’s as If no one in the Bible (or the books of other religions) considered to be of high esteem had slaves, and as if every slave Hated their condition and All wanted to flee the plantation,… as If many slaves didn’t prefer to stay on at the plantation after being “freed”

    It’s as if no one understood Pearl Harbor was a setup.

    The ignorance is astounding, I don’t know How you keep yourself from arguing with them, you have been an inspiration for resisting the urge.
    Your article against doing so has helped me cut back by at least by 50%,… that and a cartoon illustration I saw once which shows a wife calling down to her husband to come to bed and he replies, “I can’t! Someone is wrong on the Internet!”

    Also, commandments of the American religion, number 12: you Must have cable or satellite TV, to do otherwise is pure blasphemy,… or means you are crazy – Even If – you still have a TV and a DVD and/or a VCR! All good Americans have cable or satellite,… unless they are backwards know-nothing hillbillies who support slavery,… or so I’ve been given, “that look” and told close to such.

    Sigh.

    Lastly, as a Panarchist, I have no problem with your direct democracy idea so long as I get to opt out.

    I could go on, but then I’d be arguing with the People who can’t see why I wouldn’t want to walk instead of drive when it’s 110 degrees outside or -80 degrees and how old People or People without enough sleep are just as likely to be dangerous as those on drugs or alcohol Yet all of that could be solved if People were allowed to do so and drive 5 m.p.h. on the side of the road instead of being arrested,… I won’t go there. 50%.

    It’s Not, “America is wrong for everything.” rather it’s, the People are foolish for thinking they aren’t being manipulated for the good of the Power Elite at their own expense.

    One other thing, when the comment responses get numerous to one particular comment, in Firefox, they become smaller and smaller until they are only one word or letter per line and become unreadable. A problem with my browser and your blog program I suppose, just F.Y.I. in case you didn’t know.

    I should also add, I’ve Never voted in 25 years, I’ve learned much from Ron Paul and I registered to vote this year just to give him my vote in the straw poll and if needed later, other than that I don’t vote and probably never will again. I felt I owed him that much, and because he asked, plus it helps to increase awareness to his and others ideals of freedom and liberty.

    Sorry for going long and the bad grammar.
     
    I just thought of rule number 13, you Must wear your seat-belt at All times, even while driving 25 m.p.h. and Never question the rational for this.

  • Anonymous

    In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed
    of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of.
    Confucius
    They wishing a tranquil and happy kingdom, first ordered well their own States.
    Wishing to order well then their States, they first regulated their families.
    Wishing to regulate their families, they first cultivated their persons.
    Confucius
    Funny how ancient wisdom seems so applicable. We’ve got a very strange socio/political/cultural landscape here in America. Dunno how to describe it. There’s a Jefferson quote about slavery. Something to the effect that in embracing slavery we had essentially “taken a wolf by the ears” and how, as frightful as it is to do that, it is absolutely essential that you don’t let go.  It seems we’ve got any number of wolves by the ears today. Social Security, deficit spending, abortion, etc.  Dunno where its headed but it could be a real bumpy ride.

    BTW James, you still bullish on stocks? 

  • http://twitter.com/MarketTechLab Market Tech Lab

    Hi James, what do you think of my blog? Last post: “Is Coke Sexy?” http://bit.ly/omcMxk

  • http://www.bclund.com bclund

    Number nine is my favorite.  I remember the moment I checked out totally on the media.  It was when those 12 or 13 miners were trapped in West Virginia.  Anderson Cooper was reporting live how they had all been pulled to safety and were getting ready to reunite with their families.  Just then a family member walked by and said “they are all gone”.  On camera he found out that in fact all but one had died, and he was just reporting (as fact) what the press pool had been incestously reporting among themselves. 

  • Individualist

    James:  I would suggest that #4, #7, & #8 are incidental to a much larger Global Religious Tenent, that being: “Democracy is Desireable and Righteous”.  It’s so ingrained you didn’t even recognize it in yourself.  I respect your desire to devolve power and control from the political class and government in general, but unless we change course from an intrusive, all-encompassing Statist society, to a more minimalist-government Voluntaryist society, ‘democracy’ is a completely incoherent way to run things.  The premise is that people holding entirely contradictory ideologies should, via the almighty ‘compromise’, amagamate their views into some new composit view that miraculously forms a coherent, efficient, effective, non-contradictory whole, that should be imposed upon everyone.  It’s a fundamentally flawed premise.  Democracy does not equal freedom or happiness.  You want to get beat up in Times Square,… try yelling “Democracy is ideotic”.  Cheers. 

  • Kbb2662

    Brilliant article – great concept and execution and I love all your points!

    However, you left out the biggest scam of all time – namely, banking and the inhuman and devastating practice of loaning of money at interest!  Credit in a society is a utility, an essential of life.  Since our CONgress voted in the Federal Reserve, owned by private banks – the nation has to pay these bankers interest to borrow money (really debt) it already had the power to create, backed by the full faith and credit of the country.  Talk about a scam!  Private Banking is nothing more than debt slavery for the mass of us.  The USG could issue new greenbacks and buy out the debt of the US tomorrow!!  But we know who our leaders are bought and owned by!

    And the second one you forgot was…”you must never mention the Class War” – or the war by the Richest against everyone else – or that there are classes in American society.  This is more mind control by those that have it all to keep those who aren’t out of it – and demanding sensible public ownership of utilities, banking, etc. where it makes sense for all and doesn’t just enrich a few.

    As George Carlin said, “It’s a big club – and you aint in it!”  

    You could call your “children’s book” something like  “Ten Things Every American Child Should Know”…

  • John Barton

    I think that a lot of the commentators would benefit from reading Walden by Henry David Thoreau.  That book echoes a lot of what James Altucher has to say and it was written more than 150 years ago.  Higher order thinking on the level of don’t be a slave to the “man” has been around for centuries.  Only we are mostly made of sheeple who delight in keeping up with the Jones and showing off how much we “know” by displaying how much we have. 

    The cold reality is that you don’t have shit.  Everything you “have” can be wiped out by malicious humans who are determined to destroy you or a hiccuping planet that doesn’t care what insects on the surface are destroyed whenever it decides to burp.

    Doing thing EVERY DAY that make someone’s life a little better and having that done back to you is the wealthiest you can be.  If you are a billionaire trapped in the desert with no shoes and no money then you’d be damn grateful for a kind goatherder who gave you some milk and a pair of goatskin sandals.  Staying alive isn’t the goal.  Life could end suddenly and brutally in an instant, life could change in a matter of weeks should you be bitten by the wrong bug.  Being alive while you are conscious enough to enjoy it is the goal.  

    Thanks for waking me the FUCK up James Altucher.  I have been depressed and unhappy despite finally getting what I thought I wanted in life.  The reason I have been depressed and unhappy is because I thought I needed to change my outlook on life to peacefully coexist.  I don’t.  I realize that I can and should be ME and if people have a problem with it then that’s their problem.  Fuck them, they aren’t changing to suit me and I don’t want them too.  Sycophants are worse than adversaries.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_G7W7BRK25PMITFB4LQFXLFJOWU JohnL

      Civil Disobedience by Thoreau helped form my beliefs that led to my refusing induction into the army during Viet Nam conflict.Shooting an Elephant by George Orwell is another great essay that influenced me.Majority opinions are not more likely to be correct than minority opinions.As individuals we need to choose which paths we follow.As Ricky Nelson said”you can’t please everyone so you got to please yourself.”

  • mousekateer

    It’s all a scam and I am the one amongst my friends who is “weird”.  I abhor conventional wisdom and the status quo.  The hell with all that BS.  I am so weird I quit college, started a “business” when I was 20, a limo business at that.  Yes, it failed.  We all used it more to go to the bars than I did making revenue from it, but it was hella fun and big learning experience.

    I am so weird, I have never written a resume.
    I am so weird I have never been an employee.
    I am so weird I have no debt.
    I am so weird I don’t use credit cards.
    I am so weird I have no “debt” score.
    I am so weird I now employ 250 people.
    I am so weird I have never been married.
    I am so weird I have no children.
    I am so weird I don’t go to church.
    I am so weird I don’t vote.
    I am so weird I grow my own garden.
    I am so weird I do my own mechanic work.
    I am so weird………………  I think I will play golf tomorrow.

    While all the “normal” people battle traffic, pay for parking, fight over a parking spot, sit beside people they hate all day, eat fast food and crawl back to their desk inside the germ factory for another few hours in the salt mine.

    FORE!!!

  • http://www.736hundred.tumblr.com 736hundred

    Here’s one I would add – Santa Claus

  • Etersa

    this is cool

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RJCFZJAJQCVJDJU5ESU6BSILYE Eric Brohman

    FYI…the earth isn’t 3 billion years old.  Our best estimate is closer to 4.54 byo

  • MikeB

    Great article, James.  I especially liked #9.

  • Rezdoc

    Sad to read all of this skepticism disguised as clever writing.

  • Markdj93

    If a college education was provided for by the govt, as it is in European socialist nations, would you still be against it?  Maybe it’s just the American model for higher education that you have an issue with?  Isnt knowlege for knowledge sake a good thing, if there was no financial burden associated with it?  Also, I’ll grant you that a liberal arts degree does not get you a great job in most cases, but what are the alternatives to a college degree if you want to be a doctor, engineer, physicist, etc. ?

    • Guest

      depends on you definition of a “great job”

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Look at the European nations. Someone pays for those “free” educations. Now those countries are bankrupt. 

      • Markdj93

        Hmmm….are all of those countries bankrupt?  I don’t think Germany is.  And for the ones who are bankrupt, how much does it have to do with college being provided by the govt (taxes)?  Do they spend any more per capita on health care and education than we do on our national defense?  Maybe it has more to do with over-regulation in the business sector that makes their companies non-competitive. 

  • Kyle

    James: In response to #5: 

    I’ve been trying to contact you regarding my request for your assistance to our nonprofit, the DMDfund.org. Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) is the #1 fatal genetic disease of children. It’s 100% fatal, there’s no cure nor treatment. It affects only boys, yet, in the US, it annually kills about the same number of boys as the number of boys and girls that die from the most common pediatric cancer, leukemia.Since I cover all of the expenses, 100% of all donations go to research. We are also trying to raise $5 million to establish a DMD clinic at the UCLA Medical Center. I’ve emailed you twice, and called once. Could you please respond?Thanks!Kyle

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Not sure I can help, though, Kyle. Sounds like something where scientists and the FDA can open up the kimono more. 

  • André

    I think this can be generalized. Pick a random place on earth (possibly inhabited), stand in the middle of a public square – and start saying that you hate a series of things. As soon as you realize what pisses people off – you will have an idea of their religion. Insult loudly Jesus in New York – nothing happens. Do it in Sicily – you are going to be half dead in minutes.

    Some individual might be ready to laugh about anything. These are the lonely godless types – and curiously enough, those with the most melancholic heart. They secretly laugh at everyone’s religion, because they do not feel like they belong to any community. It’s not good or bad – it’s just how they are, it’s just a different life-form.

    Religion and social life cannot be separated in the end. I am pretty sure ants, termites are extremely religious. Wolves a bit less, probably. I will try to piss some animal off in the next days – maybe I can get some insight on invertebrate religion too.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      I guess what you are saying is that “religions” are different in different places. Not arguing with you. 

      • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

        But just because we hold something to be true doesn’t mean its belief might be anything other than detrimental to the growth of our society. 

        • André

          Honestly I think that ANY traditional belief is, by definition, detrimental for the GROWTH of a given society. Traditional beliefs exist to conserve a social structure, with its net of privileges – in other words, they act as a complex system of ideal stabilizers. If you want a society to grow (in well-being, size, happiness, or whatever), first you should help its members to question some of their most sacred beliefs. And you are doing a fairly good job in this blog. So, keep up the good work, James!

          The only set of beliefs that should be conserved – is the one that exist in the place where everybody is consistently happy for enough generations. Maybe this place exist for real, I don’t know. For me its nowhere in sight. Pity nobody knows what inhabitants of heaven believe. Possibly, they are all a bounce of hedonistic atheists. They must be hedonistic – they cannot have kids. They must also be atheists, I think. Who needs God in heaven? 

          My jokes about insects were in fact only a clumsy attempt to ridicule human nature. I guess  I am still in the larval stage – as a comedian. Overall, I agree with you worryingly often. I think I should review my own ten commandments. Especially the third. 

    • Concrete Dovetail

      You would not be dead if you said such things in Sicily.  My wife is Sicilian (not American-Sicilian).  I know the island well.  There are many anarchists and communists in Sicily who hate religion and are quite vocal about it.  No one is killing them.   

      • aner_alex_andros@hotmail.com

        Yeah, but they don’t state their views loudly, from on a chair in the middle of a crowded public place. Just try it, if you don’t believe me. Rember to subscribe a decent insurance first – you know, for your future widow. 

        Sicilian commies are simply subscribing another popular religion in italy – a religion with its own sins, rituals and prescriptions for salvation. 

        By the way, I am Italian. 

  • Bill Walker

    >Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) is the #1 fatal genetic disease of children. It’s 100% fatal, there’s no cure nor treatment. 

    Actually there are lentiviral vectors that will put a good copy of dystrophin into the patient’s muscle stem cells (called “satellite” cells for historical reasons) and cure DMD. There are variant treatments that take the satellite cells out, pu tin the dystrophin gene, telomerize them, grow them up under low O2, de-telomerize them with cre-lox, and re-inject them.

    Now of course the FDA won’t let any DMD sufferer get any of these treatments. (Good luck getting an $800 million approval on any lenti vector treatment). Is UCLA going to send the patients to Shanghai to get out of the FDA’s reach? Because if not I don’t see what the $5 million is going to do… an old study said the average cost of an FDA approval was $800 million. You’re a few orders of magnitude off ;)

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Yes, this is horrible and exactly what I’m talking about. People think the FDA saves lives but there are children who NEED these experimental drugs. On a personal level,I’m trying to get an experimental drug for something. I know the CEO of the company and I figured I could maybe finagle it. but I can’t. The drug is already sucked into the system and even the CEO can’t get it. The FDA is a nightmare. 

  • Rob

    #11 Social Acceptance – Only certain viewpoints and opinions are considered socially acceptable. The more important and emotional the subject, the more narrow the definition of what viewpoints and opinions are acceptable.

    If you hold a viewpoint or opinion on a subject that is different than the majority, then you will be considered to be an outsider, a conspiracy theorist with too much time on your hands, a weirdo, unpatriotic, or even dangerous. The best thing you can do short of repenting of your unacceptable thoughts is to keep them to yourself.

    If you insist on sharing your unacceptable opinions with others, you will be mocked, ridiculed, marginalized and generally thought less of.

  • Anonymous

    What about the dogmatic belief that bigger is better?

  • Anonymous

    What about the dogmatic belief that bigger is better?

  • Anonymous

    What about the dogmatic belief that bigger is better?

  • Darren Fast

    I think another tenet that builds on #10, the Frontier, is the assumption that growth can continue indefinitely without consequences.  The parallels to ancient Rome are striking.  Needing to look farther and farther afield after consuming all the local resources.  At some point the system can’t sustain itself and collapses.  In biology, no organism can grow unchecked forever.  There are always several very predictable phases in a life cycle.  There is slow start, followed by rapid growth/multiplication, followed by a stasis, followed by a decline.  We’ve somehow moved from about a billion people on the planet in 1800 to 2 billion sometime around 1927 to about 7 billion in 2011.  The US economy (and all western economies) are built on the premise that there will be continued growth. But the reality is that there will likely be stasis as the natural resources required for continued growth are more difficult and therefore expensive to obtain.

  • Inky Dinky

    #11
    The Family Farm.

  • http://twitter.com/kamalravikant Kamal Ravikant

    Lots of truths here, James.  Love the ending.

  • Jberg

    James,

    Love the blog.  I really identified with your point about not voting.  I almost never vote and not because I’m apathetic or uninformed.  I really don’t think any of the politicians deserve my vote.  I am not represented by my congressman, or the governor, or the President.  I did try to vote down an $85 million bond in my county to pay for a park, but it passed anyway.  Oh goody, my property taxes just went up so I could pay for some park that I will never go to.

    I like the idea of voting on the Internet.  But let’s go a step further.  How about we make election season about 2 months.  Ready set go.  No fundraising, no hundreds of millions of dollars changing hands, just a bunch of people at the starting line and let the Internet sort it out.  We could have 50 candidates for President.  Heck, you could run and I’d vote for you.  As long as you would pull the charter of the IRS and the FDA.  Let’s go to a simple tax system and put a million tax “professionals” out of work.  They don’t actually produce anything, other than hours to help us pay the government.  Let’s cut about half of the government agencies out there and get out of peoples way.

    Anyway, thanks again.

  • Ftydtyd

    Hi James.
    Are you still bullish on the US economy now? With the debt ceiling fudge, and the downgrade, won’t stocks just crumble? Thanks.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Why? Is Apple going to stop selling ipads? Will GM stop selling cars? Exxon stop selling gas?

  • Ftydtyd

    Hyperinflation folks, get some gold while you can!

  • Jake

    After reading the comments, all I can say is….hmmmm….I don’t know. I think many (maybe most) of the people reading and commenting on this blog are highly intelligent and capable people who probably have highly intelligent and capable children. I would readily agree that such people can do without, and probably do better without, the “commandments” getting in the way – and these people have the freedom to not participate. However, having grown up with and around “average” citizens of our great country, I just don’t think we as a country can do without these types of guiding principles to lead the masses. I believe that without our institutionalized education system (as bad as it might be), most of our citizenry will be thrown back a 100 years. And something similar can be said for each of the other “commandments”. The capabilities of our good fellow Americans should not be overestimated. I don’t mean this as an insult. Some people just aren’t good at math, so they might use cheat sheet of formulas to get by. Nothing wrong with that, but you can’t expect them to learn calculus.

  • don pratt

    How about SPORTS, many types including women’s, with Americans believing participants, including coaches, are GODS and should be models for American children.

  • Anonymous

    I wasn’t going to comment because I don’t think I really fit the demographic of most of your readers, but I get offended when people make absurd claims about our servicemen and -women. All too often, people blame the military for doing what they are sworn and paid to do. It just chaps my backside at the patent absurdity that a country would decide to send their young people off to do a job and then spit upon them when they do it.

    I know that you are not in this group, James, but some of the comments below are really vile and the posters should be ashamed of themselves.

    For the record, the average service member has few rights and no choice in where they will serve. Many suffer in conditions we would rule as inhumane for the treatment of the incarcerated. And despite the lip service of many who sneer at them as ignorant and the next thing to being welfare recipients, they continue to serve with honor for a country that largely forgets them and pays them next to nothing. (Most enlisted persons with families qualify for some form of aid and are actively encouraged not to take it.)

    The hope that I feel for our future largely lies in the fact that there are still young citizens who choose to serve, rather than the insolent cowards who would denigrate them.

    As for the ‘American dream’, each generation renews it and changes it. Home ownership may well be lost in this current morass. If so, then something that will replace it. I think debt-free would be a good replacement, because debt is an albatross to everyone. As for myself, I am living my form of the dream and choose not to care what everyone else thinks they ‘have to have.’

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Very much agreed. Will reply more later.

    • mamma

      “It just chaps my backside at the patent absurdity that a country would decide to send their young people off to do a job and then spit upon them when they do it.”

      As an American I am greatly offended that you would imply that I sent a young person off to war.  Absurd are the number of fallacies in your statement.  The feds made the decision to engage in unlawful wars.  The US soldier at 18 is old enough to take an oath and to either obey his oath or not.  Obeying the enlistment oath absolutely requires the US soldier to not participate in unlawful wars such as Iraq et al.  Us soldiers make the personal decision to break the law by participate in undeclared wars.  If they get hurt or killed then not my problem.

      “For the record, the average service member has few rights and no choice
      in where they will serve. ”  So why join the military in the first place?  There are simply no surprises as to what military life is all about.

      “Many suffer in conditions we would rule as
      inhumane for the treatment of the incarcerated.”  Millions of brown people killed by US soldiers and you cite the suffering of a US soldier?

  • Barneybarn

    I love you!  You just freed me from so much bullshit.  I’m serious!  I mean I loved Freakanomics when it came out, but you guys got so big I thought, “well, maybe they’re kinda’ full of it, like Malcolm Gladwell.”  But this post proves you’re the real deal.  I never went to college and I built a million dollar business by myself, (before my wicked business partner took it away, but I digress), the point is I did it withOUT college.  I’m having a tougher time financially these past two years, like lots of folk, and I keep wondering how I’m gonna’ pay for my kids college.  You’re telling me I don’t have too, and I really like that idea.  Hmmmm.  Also, I rent in NY but my wife and I also own upstate.  We’ve talked about moving to LA or Chicago.  But we can’t.  Cause we own a house, that’s not under water but it lost a lot of value in ’08, like everywhere.  If you calculate what we put into it over 10 years, we lose money even if we get the price we want for it.  (Should we sell it anyway?  It’s SUCH a bother.  Just had to fix the roof.  Storm damage.  $15 grand it cost me.  Insurance paid about 6 of it.)  

    So more two quick questions for you that will make my life perfect if I can figure out the answers:1. I owned a company and got burned by a bad partner. I’m now at a new company with people that I’ve known for years who I trust and who currently want to make me a partner.  Partly cause’ I asked for it and partly cause they want ME to sign the equipment and space leases and take on the risk that they took all themselves. (Plus they don’t want me to leave and take my business elsewhere, right?)  Do I do it?  Or do I stay an employee, with commissions, (with clients who follow me where ever I go.2. My wife insists on sending our kids to private school.  In NYC.  We’re doing okay but we’re not, doctors or hedge fund managers. (We’re in the production side of advertising.  Lucrative on occasion but so competitive these days with budgets shrinking.)  So it’s a struggle every time the bill comes for BOTH kids at 30+ grand each.  The PC left wing thing is to send the kids to public school.  I went to BOTH public AND private in NY as a kid, granted it was the 70’s and 80’s.  There were bullies and bullshit in both, but I got a MUCH better education in private school.  I know how you feel about college, but what about this issue?Dang, if you can help me convince my wife that we should sell the house, tell my boss to go screw ’cause I’ll make as much money without being partner AND take our kids out of private school, I’ll kiss you on the mouth.  (If you want me to.  Otherwise I’m cool with just a handshake.)- Economically Confused in Manhattan and Upstate NY

  • http://www.jimrehs.net Jim Schmidt

    I understand your issue(s) with the FDA, I have many myself. However throwing a red herring in (it isn’t in the constitution) is silly. You know what else isn’t in the constitution, Safe, clean, drinking water. Safe food. Breathable Air. So how about we just get rid of all regulations and have good ole corporations have at it? They are soo good at doing it by themselves and cleaning up afterwords. Come on, look at your history as to why the FDA was made in the first place before you make some absurd, snide comment. Perhaps fixing the organization would be a better solution along with getting politicians out of making scientific decisions and how about stopping the concept of pure money making the decisions, you know unless you just want to do the old saying, throw the baby out with the bathwater. 

  • Jerry

    What you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I’ve ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this discussion board is now dumber for having read it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

  • Dave Dean

    There is a bit of pernicious nonsense that infiltrates our language and impedes rational discussion, and I’m afraid it has made its way into this otherwise fine essay. There is no such thing as a ‘supply of jobs’. There is a supply of labor and demand for that labor. There is more work to be done than all of us will ever accomplish, working non-stop, from now to forever. Our desires are boundless. Our resources, including labor, is limited. The best we can do is direct that labor to our most urgent desires, with our available means (complimentary factors of production).

    There is a supply of capital, that raises the productivity of labor, and thus tends to raise wage rates. A dearth of capital means that the compensation for employing that labor is meager, but no lack of back breaking manual labor to produce what we can. Ask why the supply of capital is insufficient, not the ‘supply of jobs’.

    We do not ‘pack up our jobs and send them overseas’. What happens is that the total costs of our labor (wage rates and regulations) is greater than the labor overseas and the consumers of that labor (employers) prefer the lower costs. We can still do the work, but no one is willing to pay us what we ask.

    Thanks for the article. This is meant to be constructive criticism for a pet peeve of mine (collectivist New Speak infiltrates the language of even the ‘Good Guys’.)

  • http://twitter.com/thebrandbuilder Olivier Blanchard

    Next time, don’t hold back. :D

  • Bandcgram

    So here we are, Mr. Altucher, in the second decade of the 21st century, all of us U.S. citizens living under the dominance of Rigged-Market Capitalism; where 7 out of 8 Americans spend an inordinate amount of time, money, and effort honoring and worshipping non-existent gods of made up religions.
    Along with phoney, non-existent religion, we also have a phoney, non-existent energy crisis(the world’s drowning in natural gas;it can easily be liquefied. Every business day the energy companies keep 1.5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas off the market, otherwise, the price would collapse and people would say,”What energy crisis?”).
    And finally, we have a U.S. healthcare system that can’t provide quality, affordable access to 50 million of its own citizens, but is able to waste over $160 billion a year through mismangement and fraud.
    If your message to your readers is that you would like to move this nation away from a fraud-based society and towards a more sound, reality-and-reason-based society, I applaud your iniative. However, it has been my long experience that this nation is only interested in the speech and beliefs of the rich and well-connected. This country has no interest, and has never had an interest, in the speech and understandings of the non-rich.
    That’s where you come in, Mr. Altucher. You’ve got money; some market sway. People might listen to you rather than the penniless rabble like myself— I recently lost my position as a drifter-trainee.
    Sincerely,
    Barry Gram,    Carol Stream, Illinois

  • Anonymous

    There is nothing much President/Congress/Fed can do.
    Americans should mold USA into a low cost, high quality, exported oriented nation and amend the Constitution accordingly.

  • Mike Periboob

    James’ ideas about a college edication is spreading.
    http://content.comicskingdom.net/Shoe/Shoe.20110807_large.gif

  • Fubar

    As I’ve said many times, Alexis de Toqueville predicted all the crappiness that James Altucher describes here in the 1830s/40s. de Toqueville predicted that american democracy would decline and result  in a “weak and servile” people who are dependent upon, but hate, a central government. This comes from being a multicultural society that lacks a strongly conformist belief system. The only institution left is central government, which was exactly what the Founders of the Republic wanted to get away from !

    I would argue that many of the “paradigm shifts” that James Altucher discusses are the result of structural/collectivist changes and related paradigm shifts. As such, his viewpoint contains truth, but only partial (incomplete) truth.

    At a more basic level, this blog is collectivist, not individual.

    As I have probably posted several times before, anyone that believes that change only comes from individuals should really really really read James Hillman. Scott London’s web site has a good interview and maybe a book review of Hillman’s work.

    One of the things wrong with the professionalized “therapeutic” version of american culture is that all blame is placed on the individual. This is a product of europe’s “missionary” past. Thin of it it as internal imperialism. The last frontier of exploitation in an declining empire is one’s own culture.

    So, those that seek deep structural (social) change tend to be maligned.

    There needs to be a balance of individual change and social/structural change.

    Social structures have a enormous influence on individuals.

    In evolutionary terms, collective life is far, far, far older than individual life. (Bernie Neville, Latrobe U.)

    Most of our cellular intelligence is collective. Most of our primitive brain components are collective. Many of our cognitively “modern” brain parts evolved in the context of tribal society.

    We construct spiritual meaning almost exclusively in social terms. (Which is what a blog is.)

    The advantages of a focus on individual change are:

    1) personal responsibility is the foundation of all ethical systems
    2) is is relatively simple

    The disadvantages of social/collective/structural changes are:

    Social/structural changes involve analysis of structures that are more complex that at any time in history.

    Those the do most of the analysis (academic researchers, etc.) are part of the establishment.

    Here is a classic guide to structural change and paradigm shifts, from a “systems” perspective:

    http://www.sustainer.org/pubs/Leverage_Points.pdf

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twelve_leverage_points

    excerpt:

    Contents
    [hide]

    1 Leverage points to intervene in a system
    1.1 12. Constants, parameters, numbers (such as subsidies, taxes, standards)
    1.2 11. The size of buffers and other stabilizing stocks, relative to their flows
    1.3 10. Structure of material stocks and flows (such as transport network, population age structures)
    1.4 9. Length of delays, relative to the rate of system changes
    1.5 8. Strength of negative feedback loops, relative to the effect they are trying to correct against
    1.6 7. Gain around driving positive feedback loops
    1.7 6. Structure of information flow (who does and does not have access to what kinds of information)
    1.8 5. Rules of the system (such as incentives, punishment, constraints)
    1.9 4. Power to add, change, evolve, or self-organize system structure
    1.10 3. Goal of the system
    1.11 2. Mindset or paradigm that the system — its goals, structure, rules, delays, parameters — arises out of
    1.12 1. Power to transcend paradigms

  • Anonymous

    People fail to follow their dreams for millions of reasons.  But there is one excuse that trumps all others in modern day America.  It is the one thing that everyone must have.  They cannot fathom life without it.  Ask virtually anyone and they will tell you that you cannot do without it. It is the reason most people refuse to quit a soul-killing job.  Consequently, everyone accepts the justification without question. 

    In short, it is the perfect excuse for not making a change. 

    Amazingly, it is something that did not exist for most Americans a hundred years ago.  Even today most of the world’s population live perfectly happy lives without it, yet in the United States it is unthinkable. 

    What is it?  Health Insurance.  And the false sense of protection provided by the little plastic card in the pocket. 

    Health Insurance is a nocebo, a perverse anti-placebo (yes nocebos exist – google the word) that give people permission to get ill.  The placebo-effect is powerful.  So much so that drug companies must prove that their drugs work better than placebo.  Well, health insurance is an anti-placebo.  It give people permission to lead unhealthy lives.  Their doctor will fix their clogged arteries so they eat another bucket of fried chicken. 

    More importantly, it give them permission to fail. 

    • Fubar

       The reality is far more dismal. It starts with Big Oil. It then moves to AgriBusiness, which “needs” chemicals from oil companies. AgriBusiness produces bad processed food, which makes people sick. Med/PharmaBusiness then makes money from the sick people.

      Please note that at every step, people justify supporting exploitation for various reasons.

      Ultimately, we all support a system that is bad because we are dependent on it, and do not see how it can be changed.

      Here is an alternative:

      http://www.natureoforder.com/library/commentary-for-readers-of-book2.htm

  • magesha

    Again a great post, James! Your last point about change starts within each person, reminded me of a story.

    One day, a father came home really tired from work, and his son started bugging him asking him to play with him. Exasperated, the dad found a newspaper clipping with the world map on it. He tore it up into many pieces and gave it to his son, saying “Here, put all these pieces together so the map is normal again”. He was expecting he will get hours of respite. However, within 15 minutes, the kid came up to him saying “Here dad! All done”. Surprised, he asked, “How did you manage that?” The kid replied, “Well, one the other side was a picture of a person standing. Once I set the person straight, the world was alright!”

  • Trevor

    I really like all your articles about anarchism/voluntarism.  To unfamiliar readers of comments, Anarchism/voluntarism is not chaos, it’s simply no government.  Have you ever considered participating in Agorism? This is defined as conducting economic transactions on the grey market, which is selling or purchasing legal items without paying taxes.  Making $20/hour on the grey market is like making $25-30/hour on the white market (legal goods + taxes).

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000485390446 Jessica Mastropasqua

    The sad thing here, is that I agree with you on every point. Your reasoning (and that of some of your commentators) is sound and justified. But even if I print it and hang these commandments on my fridge and look at them every day, I know that I still want a house. I know all the reasons to get one and not to get one, and agree that not getting a mortgage is smarter, but I still want one.

    I’m 50K in debt and not even finished with college… I drop out every other year and then go back again later. Problem is that I love school, I love classrooms, I love books, I love teachers, I love the feeling of accomplishment when I get my A’s.

    But I like spending money, and when you are in school, you don’t tend to make any. Yes, I know a 60 inch TV is useless and wasteful and ridiculous. But I want one. In 2-3 different rooms. Each with surround sound. Wireless Speakers. 6 feet high. And every channel ever made and DVR capabilities. And shoes. I love shoes. And purses.

    As far as all the other stuff, politics and wars and such. I agree with you but I don’t have the faintest idea what to do about it. In civics/social studies classes in middle and high school I was conditioned to believe that voting could fix ANY and EVERY problem I saw with our government and way of life. The last 7 years as an adult, living on my own, have given me the experience to know that’s bullshit. So what do I do?

    You say that the change has to happen within. Okay, I can try really hard and spurn my desires for a home, ridiculously large televisions and voting for change. But I’m still conditioned to feel like they are right and what’s good and what I need to be happy. I know all that. I see it and hate it. It doesn’t stop me from salivating at the bell, though.

    So, now I’ve either got to fight my conditioned nature and never feel truly satisfied OR give in and be another sheep.

    Yeah…. pass the Xanax, please. Better yet, I could really use some Lithium. (Baaa.)

    • Fubar

      Does Xanax/Lithium actually stop craving? If so, do you know the side effects?

      Your suffering arises from clinging. If you can’t learn detachment, then karma will most likely deposit a cat turd on the pillow of your life at some point (reference to R. Crumb’s “Fat Freddy’s Cat”).

      If you think you are suffering now, just realize that it will be far worse if you run up more debt. The system exists to exploit people.

      If you feel a need to “own” the external trappings of Achievement, get creative about actually achieving more in your life. Or hope that someone will want to give you stuff (and also hope that their bad karma won’t come along with the “gift”).

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_3KPFINHLTQZP3425BTE3242WDM Andreas Moser

    And let’s not forget the “Thou shalt marry and have plenty of offspring”, something which is far too important to many people, especially women, and ends up ruining their lives:http://andreasmoser.wordpress.com/2011/09/29/the-most-beautiful-day-of-your-life/

  • Badhand

    So you admit that representatives’ votes can be bought by lobbyists, but you don’t think the average internet user could be paid off to vote a certain way?

  • engine22

    What an awesome piece!

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