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October 28, 2010

Economic Tachyons and the Wealth Imperative

There is a reason why I was completely driven to become rich, and it had nothing to do with vacationing in luxury villas in the Caribbean, or having a butler or living in a million dollar+ house of my wife’s dreams

Sure, those things are nice, but they’re all just fringe benefits to being rich. The real reason to become wealthy is to be free. Basically money equals options, and in this world, the person with the most options comes out ahead.

So one day, nearly 20 years ago, when I was living a pretty bohemian lifestyle, I just sat bolt upright in bed one morning (actually it wasn’t really a bed, it was a mattress on a couple of wooden freight skids on a basement floor. I needed the skids because the basement flooded every time it rained). Out of nowhere the thought hit me:

In about 20 years
there will be no such thing as a middle class…..

I caught a glimpse of a future dystopia where there were two kinds of people: the wealthy and everybody else. And the everybody else were basically eating out of garbage cans and living in dumpsters. It was a completely “haves” vs “have-nots” society and it scared the living hell out of me. Because what I realized at the time was that the path I was on was going to land me squarely on the side of the have nots.

Further, I sensed that a fundamental shift will have occurred by then, one where the mobility between social classes, especially upward mobility that we take for granted today, would be a thing of the past.

I think about that alot now, especially as our society seemingly drifts more toward this bleak state of affairs. Make no mistake, it’s not like I endorse this type of social stratification as a “good thing”. In fact the good thing to do, the right thing to do would to try to prevent a future like from occurring, trying to help maintain socio-economic egalitarianism for all. But it’s a lot easier to do that from a position of financial independence and total personal freedom than it is from a near-animal subsistence living. The further one ascends up Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the more social justice one can lever into the world. It can’t be done as effectively from the trenches of poverty.

Let’s digress briefly:

One of the more common misunderstandings about the Einstein’s theories is that faster-than-light travel is impossible. This is not entirely accurate. What Einstein’s theories actually posit is that it is impossible to accelerate through the speed of light. Meaning: if you are traveling slower than the speed of light (as most of us are), it is impossible to accelerate beyond the speed of light.

What Einstein’s theories do allow, it’s been called a type of theoretical “loophole”, are for particles that are already moving faster than the speed of light. These particles are dubbed “tachyons”, and you hear them referenced alot in sci-fi, Star Trek, etc. Most often in some sort of “time travel” theme. “Tachyon pulses”, “Tachyon Overdrives”, “Tachyon Can-Openers”, etc.

In the bleak future I envisioned, socio-economic status would be the impenetrable barrier through which the poor would never be able to accelerate into the haven of financial independence and wealth, while the wealthy enjoyed a self-perpetuating income via their investments.

In my minds eye I saw a rapidly narrowing window of opportunity to migrate from the underclass to the uberclass, and I did not want that window to close while I was still on the underclass side of it.

So I got off to a slow start. I was still playing in a band, partying, taking drugs and an drinking alcoholically. Over time I ended up getting clean and sober and starting a business. That was the price of admission for me: I had to leave my beloved and most crippling vices behind me. There was no way to get from where I was, to where I needed to be while I was still living that kind of a life.

Last night I had another thought about this at around 3am in the morning: the entire “tachyon meme” for this post was intended as an allegory (because they operate in the sphere of “faster-than-light” travel, tachyons are frequently associated with the concept of time travel). So then it struck me, perhaps more as a thought experiment than anything else:

What if the source of that epiphany all those years ago, was actually my future self? Somehow sending a message to the past in an effort to avoid a bleak fate?

Lately I have begun to meditate a lot, and ponder the nature of the mind, the structure or reality and my basic understanding of the cosmology I find myself existing in. Perhaps it’s possible that as my future self developed it’s own mental abilities to do so (perhaps while I was living under a bridge and eating out of dumpsters), I somehow imputed a message back to my own past, in order to head off a meager future devoid of abundance?

Well it certainly made me think. I remember that epiphany like it was yesterday, and to this day I have absolutely no idea where it came from. It certainly wasn’t the type of thing I was giving a lot of thought to back in the day.

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