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Tangentially Speaking

447 – ROMA 40 (How to Live in the Absence of the Sacred)

By November 5, 20206 Comments


  • “Nobody is bringing back coal jobs”

    Tell that to our genius president, Andres Manuel López Obrador, who is canceling private investment in clean energies and ordering the public electric company to use more coal and oil. Like Donnie, he has some sort of phobia for electric windmills.

    I agree with most of what you said, except for the idea that we live in an era where there’s an absence of the sacred.

    As a student of encounters with what seems to be non-human intelligences, I think there are more people who have a direct contact with the sacred than we realize –they just choose not to share those private experiences openly. A friend of mine, Mike Clelland, think that since our culture has no direct way to create shamans, the Universe itself finds a way to create those shamans for us. And these shamans live quiet, ordinary lives for the most part; maybe a few of them engage in healing practices for their friends and community, or perform other sorts of rituals and spells.

    A great deal of them feel a sense of a ‘sense of a mission’ and that sooner or later they will be called to perform a task for which they have prepared all of their lives –like one of Mike’s friends, who goes by the pen name of Lucretia Heart, who once had one of their many alleged encounters which what he describes as a ‘Nordic-type’ alien he calls Ethan, and Ethan asked her with a friendly voice and a big, broad smile, “Are you ready for Armageddon?”

  • Omar says:

    I think your analysis is pretty accurate, as always (suppose most of us wouldn’t be listening if we disagreed on a fundamental level). BUT, I’d just like to add to the discussion on the Trump phenomena, just from my own insight with many Trump-voting family members residing in the Midwest — Wisconsin, more specifically.

    When Trump first took the world by storm in 2016 by defeating Hillary, a lot of pundits and socio-political analysts were shocked and left scratching their heads. A lot of books were written on the underclasses — i.e. rednecks and hillbillies — trying to explain this phenomena of them voting against their fundamental interests. I think this analysis of his lower class misses the mark, as there are a ton of upper-middle class folks voting for him based solely on their tax burden, or lack thereof. Think of all those folks driving lifted pickups with Trump flags. Those trucks cost like 60 to 80K!!! No one can afford those brand-new Ford Raptors and souped-up Dodge Rams, unless they’re making really, really good money.

    These are the petty bourgeois, some have called them “small business tyrants,” folks who make a really good upper-middle class income with contractor companies, electrician services, soulless lawyers, conservative doctors, etc.

    I have numerous family member in this class who dislike Trump and what he stands for, but still vote straight Republican down the ticket — all out of fear that the Democrats actually consolidate power and raise taxes on households making like 400k+! It’s absolute insanity. They’d rather watch the world burn to the ground and stack thousands of dead bodies deep (due to Covid), than actually contribute back to the very society that’s given them so much. You could probably trace this trend of inherent selfishness back to the Reagan administration and the Ayn Rand-influenced philosophy that took hold in the late ’80s, but it’s fucking astounding to say the least. Just my two cents.

  • Aaron says:

    I agree with your assessment that a lot of what we are seeing is blow-back from a betrayal of the average American. Most working class people realize the jig is up and they have been screwed over. When you realize you’ve been betrayed, well then what do you do with that feeling? Ideally, you think about your own knowledge, engage in some serious reflection, and figure out where to go from there. The issue is, so many Americans live in a fantasy world, with little knowledge of science, history, geography ,or even basic civics. If this sounds elitist, just take a look at almost anything done by pew research in the last 20 years.

    So a guy like Trump comes along, and hey, he says things that you agree with. Doesn’t matter that he lies constantly, or doesn’t seem to know anything about anything. He hates the people you hate, and he makes you feel like you’re part of some important movement, makes you feel like your anger and resentment are valid and understood.

    As you also discuss, so much of what we consider American greatness was just lucked into. In the aftermath of WWII, the United States was the only industrial nation left standing and without enormous debt loads. We also were the world’s largest oil producer at the time. So these perfect conditions were all in place for us to just take over for a while, and we did. Its amazing how few people seem to understand this. The cracks started to show in the late 60’s and early 70s, but it didn’t matter because our Empire of Inertia was moving so quickly and powerfully that nothing could stop it.

    And now here we are, on the downswing of Empire, at arms against the world, deep in debt, and with a populace that knows little of history, and sees into the future only dimly. We have created a culture of corporate fueled stupidity, so why should we be surprised when this is the result? To reference your last roma, I’m not saying all Americans are stupid, but a lot of us sure are ignorant, and the “culture” we have created, of TV commercials, reality shows, celebrity worship and gadget obsession, is probably the outright dumbest the world has ever seen. What then is Trump, but the penultimate American? He is America’s shadow – all the qualities we try to avoid seeing in our culture at large. He’s greedy, vain, obsessed with power, ignorant and cruel.

    Never thought I’d say this but I think we are headed to eventual despotism. I think a lot these days about the founders, flawed as they were I know. But they knew history and had incredible wisdom compared to the “leaders” we have today. At one of the meetings taking place during the constitutional convention, Ben Franklin made some closing remarks in support of the constitution. “…I believe farther that this [the constitutional government] is likely to be well administered for a course of years and can only end in despotism as other forms have done before it, when the People shall become so corrupted as to need Despotic Government, being incapable of any other.” The other founders saw him as pretty sour, and worried about him talking too much, and he privately expressed doubt about how long the country would last. The story goes that he spoke after the convention with an acquaintance of his, a Ms Powell. “Well Doctor, what have got? A republic or a monarchy?”, she asked. “A republic” he replied, “If you can keep it”.

    I think he’d be surprised we’ve lasted this long.

  • Truls says:

    Chris, your podcast is good for the soul.

    Thank you, and godspeed.

  • Joe B says:

    Hmmm. Valley in Colorado(?) where there is a good aquifer and potato farms?
    Sounds like the San Luis valley.
    The town, Is it Saguache?
    I love that place.

  • Will says:

    Chris, another great rant.

    A heads-up, however, to your U.S. listeners on acquiring another citizenship and leaving the country. I speak from personal experience on this.

    Other than Eritrea, the U.S. is the only country in the world that requires its citizens—NO MATTER WHERE IN THE WORLD THEY LIVE—to file, and in many cases pay, U.S. taxes. This is on top of the tax obligations in their foreign country of residence. Unless you’re gifted at tax law, this is expensive and greatly complicates personal and professional financial planning. In the past, this little-known requirement was difficult to enforce and rarely burdened the average expat. But in 2010, legislation passed under the Obama administration (FATCA) compelled foreign financial institutions around the world—at their own expense—to ferret out their American clientele and report their financial details to the IRS. From the IRS website:

    “The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), which was passed as part of the HIRE Act, generally requires that foreign financial Institutions and certain other non-financial foreign entities report on the foreign assets held by their U.S. account holders or be subject to withholding on withholdable payments.”

    Basically the U.S. said to the financial world: If you want continued free access to our markets, you will give us the financial details of your American clients or we’ll slap a 30% tax on any profit you make in our country. Predictably, almost every financial institution complied. Some, to avoid the expense and hassle, just stopped serving Americans.

    I came into the world a dual Canadian-U.S. citizen. I was born in Canada and have never lived, worked, or owned assets anywhere else. I automatically and involuntarily acquired U.S. citizenship at birth through my American mother. I wasn’t even aware of this until adulthood. Until FATCA hit the news, I had no idea I was obliged to file taxes in a country I’d never lived in. As the effects of FATCA started to roll out across the financial world, my Canadian bank started asking new questions. At yearly portfolio reviews or whenever I applied for a new account, a new box appeared on the paperwork: “Are you a U.S. citizen?” Think about that. Imagine your bank asking if you are Israeli or Russian or Korean on behalf of those governments because you might be in violation of laws you didn’t know existed. If you’re an American and tell your bank the truth, they start sending your financial details to the IRS. This clear breach of privacy was fought in the highest courts here in Canada, to no avail. This massive transfer of personal information is happening now, to Americans all over the world. If you’re an expat who hasn’t been filing your taxes and the IRS “dinosaur” turns its attention on you, the penalties they could attempt to levy would cripple most people. Lying to your bank in this information sharing age would probably elicit a worse fate down the road. The only way out is tax compliance and renunciation, which is stressful and expensive. I took that path a few years ago. It cost me thousands of dollars, and I got off easy, escaping the substantial exit tax that is imposed on people with more money than me, and average middle class dude. The final insult: some U.S. politicians, led by Rhode Island senator Jack Reed, have been pushing for legislation that would ban some renunciates from ever entering the U.S. again. Charming.

    So if you’re an American who wants to leave the loving embrace of the motherland, be prepared to pay or be hunted. And possibly banned for life.

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