"The unedited musings of a recovering madman"

The New Poverty: Middle Class Consumtariat

I take the term Consumtariat from NETOCRACY, 2002 by Bard and Söderqvist.  As we transition through the information age into networks (digital tribes/teams)—transcending nation-state, tectonic plate and ethnicity, we are pressed with serious opportunities and challenges to those opportunities.

My concern at this time is my own—collectively.

My thoughts lie-in my own transitional states that require me to consider the future, while admitting the future has no place in the now, I reserve the opportunity to consider mine and the future of others mindfully.

With that disclaimer, here’s what I feel.

Because of information becoming an entity in and of itself, without any tangible form or inherent value, we face times of complexity that are infinite in their ability to confuse, befuddle and leverage those who get it.

What is there to get?

An understanding of how the “engine” of life runs…us. 

As far back as William James and Abraham Maslow in recent history, man’s hierarchy of existence has perplexed enough people that tail-chasing has become the norm.  The incessant climbing of ladders to reach yet another plateau of being, having, doing and becoming, not always in that order.

Only philosophers have enjoyed the luxury of “watching” the game, while often refusing to participate in it.  I’m always reminded of this analogy from the movie WAR GAMES, starring Mathew Broderick, where he hacks into WOPR (War Operations Planning Resources Computer) and attempts to play global thermonuclear war.  The computer takes him seriously and begin simulation of the integrated operations necessary to run the simulation in real life.  The metaphor of this story is so profound that it basically sits on video store shelves…as the greatest leadership training tool in existence for only a few dollars.  The moral of the story, learned by the computer amidst all the human gamesmanship is that the only way to win…as the philosophers often realize…is not to play.

What does this have to do with poverty of the middle class?

Essentially, everything.

Because the middle class, reasonably devoid of practical philosophy and guided by the blind merchant society, who are at higher levels in the game, fail to see that playing this game only buys them a ticket to become a member of the consumtariat, the world turns—the engine of life runs…us.

It is predictable, just like clockwork, all the while the players dream up fantasy games and reasons why they play, each gear turns the engine of life and it runs…us.

Now, quite frankly, I’m not just being cute here.

We have serious opportunities ahead as the engine takes over hill and over dale.  The challenges are so incredible enormous, that some players have devised such intricate methods of play that we actually fall victim to the fact that the simple rule: Don’t play, is forgotten.

The nature of things is a fantastic voyage.  Yet, all games have winners and losers, WOPR discovered that and finally gave up the game.  However, it won’t be that easy for the billions taking their first breath of consumption.  Desire is unlimited.  Consumption will follow and this will be that.

The game has become so sophisticated at certain levels that it requires the attention of every man, woman and child to play.  The analysts have discovered ways to categorize the attention in a myriad of fashions adding even more reason to “be in the game.”  The illusion produced by people failing to notice that they’re in a game is all the more interesting and attracting to some.

Even as the Achievement Champion Warren Buffet begins to trot around the world in search of even more billions, the stakes become higher.  While understanding the rules at an uncommon level, he refuses to stop playing…what could possibly be driving this ambition, this Cyclops of a money-creating machine….  Does he want to own the world or change it in some unknown way?

There’s a quote from Bard (Co-Author of Netocracy) in a speech:

“Money is not important for the upper class anymore. You need money as you need food, but it is not the most wanted resource anymore.”

And to my point:

Because the middle class requires money to play the game, they will become the new poor in the new normal.  The new normal being the way things are, versus the way they were in the old economy.

In considering my own fortunes in the game…I have a strong sense of individual and collective preservation for those who “volunteer” to come along.  I believe this is a shift for me because earlier in my life I found my power needs met through controlling others and attempting to persuade them to my way of thinking.  However the shift in my own gamesmanship is to realize that persuasion is an old economy technique and that attraction through a quantum mechanical energy is far easier.  Becoming a strange attractor is far more simple than trying to predict where the next strong attractor resides.  Giving up prediction may be my next step, however my own self-preservation kicks me back into the game.

I have no real interest in suffering the fallout of the destruction of the middle class as we know it.  While most will wither like yellow leaves on a plant with too much sun and water…others scare me.  Remembering that much of the world has not forgotten how to fight is a concern.  When things get tough the tough get going, so I do have some concerns that I might find myself on the outside looking in without appropriate resources to buy my ticket to the game.

Opting out of the game is no longer possible as the world has become too small, too complex, too technical, too connected…people will find you, unless you live where no one wants to live…the reason our ancestors traversed the globe and possible in the future, a reason to go into space—to escape the new normal, when it’s not, who knows.

In pondering the philosophical and “projected reality” of my own self-importance, there are actions that I feel I can take regardless of whether my pontifications become real or not to more than myself.

I think to myself,

What would I need to survive the calamity of the destruction of the middle class consumtariat?  Then again, if people are smart, they’ll not allow this to occur, so I already have a lot on my side.  It is silly to kill the goose who lays golden eggs, therefore the impetus may be to create more geese.  In this case, the game would become interesting to be sure, as the finite resources known at this time, would surely be used up as the goose’s nest became full of…well, let’s just say it wouldn’t be pretty.


What good is it to be prepared to live in a dirty nest?

These are existential problems that refuse to allow us into being states collectively.  There are those who escape the din of the game and vibrate into nothingness, I’m sure.  Yet, we no longer have the luxury of avoiding the game because at some point, it reminds us of its proximity.

I guess I haven’t made much progress, however I have chosen to consider some existential issues that may help me get a better seat.  There is a of course a caveat, I could opt out and leave the nest to my children, or theirs?  What a wonderful gift from grandpa!

Nope, I need a strategy for the children as well…this is going to be complex, or is it the simplicity that Oliver Wendell Holmes searched for on the other side of complexity?

At this point, one might consider absolving himself of it all and washing one’s hands of what one can’t control…nothing.  Yet, the human experience is the opportunity to view the game, play it if you must or mess with the rules, your choice and mine.

I chose to mess and play and view, all of the above. 

Therefore, I have no become part of the problem.  Hmmm.  You know, there is just no escaping this once you’re through the turnstile.

Off we go, into the wild blue yonder…

At this time in 2003, I’m fascinated with a multi-disciplinary approach.  The fascination of it keeps me in the game and so to move the gamepiece, here’s what I think/feel.

[Developmental] I wish to grow my awareness, however couching that growth in simple joys of being human.  Paying attention to my children, my whims if I must and considering those actions in the collective view of it all.  Much of the action we take is destined to create serious challenges, however not-acting is almost as challenging, therefore the issue lies somewhere between action and non-action.  Perhaps the choices made in the awareness of that space…?

[Internal] I want to release myself from the wanting, but prefer the transition to be gradual rather than abrupt for those unprepared for what the mistakes of playing the game will create over time. 

[External] I’ll have to choose a place to live that reduces my dependence on natural resources and allow my bodies adaptive ability to provide the energy for living.  I’ll have to have sufficient capital in multiple forms to isolate myself from the gyrations of the game and I prefer to not have to persuade, but to pursue my own selfish journey of truth—my strength and my weakness.

[Financial]  I’ll have to learn to play the game better, while at the same time, extracting myself from active participation in it, yet not avoiding my responsibility for it.  Ugh, this could be difficult!


ü      I have to evolve my understanding of the engine that makes us…run. Wellth MasterMind

ü      I’ll have to follow my 7 rules of engagement:


One: The Power of Networks.  The world is no longer anything but a network of relationships.  In order to move forward to protect your standard of living in the new economy, YOU MUST UNDERSTAND NETWORKS...how they work, how they're built and what you have to do to maintain them.

Two: Affiliates. This term has been around for ages, yet few people realize the power of having an independent sales force that earns money for you without having the fixed overhead of regular sales personnel.  Affiliates are paid ONLY when they generate sales for you.

Three: Asynchronous Systems.  While this might seem like a new term to most, it is incredibly important in the new economy.  The power of technology and information to serve us when we are asleep MUST BE HARNESSED for every person who intends to thrive in the next society.

Four: Execution.  No, I'm not referring to death here, but in some ways, people and business that fail to execute will be replaced by those who can, or suffer the consequences of lower standards of living and obsolescence in a very short period of time.  Execution is reported by many to be the one factor missing in modern day business.

Five: MasterMIND. This principle has existed since the days of steel magnate Andrew Carnegie, who credits his uncommon success to those people around him who continuously provided him with good ideas and the critical thinking that allowed him to gain great wealth.  Now, even more than before the MasterMIND principle is critical to your success in global business.

Six: Resilience. While we list "developmentalism" as the habit or rule of engagement, we have since realized that what we are after is in fact resilience.  Resilience is the ability to transcend failure, navigate uncertainty, persist through barriers and anticipate the future.

Seven: RightACTION™. The right people doing or being the right things in the right way at the right time for the right reasons.  Quite simply, can you make the "right things happen" to achieve the RightResults.


Whew, and all of that from a thought about not being willing to play on a loosing team.  Go figure.


Mike R. Jay, June 2003

PS: I can't help but be inspired by the following quote from Buckminster Fuller

What I Am Trying To Do

Acutely aware of our beings’ limitations and acknowledging the infinite mystery of the a priori universe into which we are born, but nevertheless searching for a conscious means of hopefully competent participation by humanity in its own evolutionary trending while employing only the unique advantages inhering exclusively to the individual who takes and maintains the economic initiative in the face of the formidable physical capital and credit advantages of the massive corporations and political states and deliberately avoiding political ties and tactics while endeavoring by experiments and explorations to excite individuals’ awareness and realization of humanity’s higher potentials I seek through Comprehensive Anticipatory Design Science and its reductions to physical practices to reform the environment instead of trying to reform men being intent thereby to accomplish prototyped capabilities of doing more with less whereby in turn the wealth augmenting prospects of such design science regenerations will induce their spontaneous and economically successful industrial proliferation by world around services’ managements all of which chain reaction provoking events will both permit and induce all humanity to realize full lasting economic and physical success plus enjoyment of all the Earth without one individual interfering with or being advantaged at the expense of another.

R. Buckmninster Fuller

Aboard our l, 000-miles-per-minute speeding Spaceship Earth within the outer reaches of the cosmically spiraling and expanding Milky Way, the Galactic Nebula.

Modified from 152 to 200 words at the location on Spaceship Earth where the first man-made atomic explosion occurred: Alamogordo. RBF


Update on Aug 1, 2003

Source for quote

DC- Do you have some closing advice for HR people?

EL- For individual HR people, my advice is to look at your skill set and map it against the future of HR. We think the career opportunities for HR people are going to change dramatically over the next decade. HR people are much more likely to understand the business and be involved, but they will more likely work for an outsourcing firm or consulting firm than inside a large corporation. Credentials and knowledge of the business are going to become much more important.

what we see here is a structural shift in business and while it is tucked away in the interview...this is monumental in scope and the effect it will have...IF HR is not working for corporations, then where are the people going to be...?

this corresponds to the absolutely tectonic shift in employment as CORPORATE AMERICA changes its contract with employees as I've suggested.

what does this mean for coaching, professional white collar work?

staggering implications

I believe Peters is right, 90% of all white collar jobs by 2010 will be gone in America..."where do you want to go today?"

If you can understand the earth-shattering implications of this structural shift, you'll see why we've created the wellthmastermind and why it's critical to fully embrace the world as it is, and not how you would like it to be

Business doesn't care about you and the reason is, "YOU" DON'T CARE ABOUT BUSINESS!

Here are some of the messages you send to business:

  • Make your stock returns high or I don't invest in you
  • Pay me more or I'll go to work for someone who does
  • Lower your prices, increase your value or I won't buy your products and services
  • Take care of me or I'll leave
People wonder why business does what it does:
Business is an emergent properties of these and other simple rules.
Want to change business, change your rules!
Consequently, it ain't going to happen and if I might say, the new poverty will fall on the middle class, a down-shift so prolific in nature, it will take most of what we know as America with it.
I hope it doesn't happen, but unless the simple rules change, business will outsource everything and when you outsource, it's a commodity business for the most part--all the perquisites, benifits and "stability" of fixed cost unemployment evaporate.  The economy as I've said for years is moving to a variable cost economy and if you don't perform, you're out.  The corporate contract with America has been nullified.
Bye-Bye Standard of Living,
I hope I'm wrong!


© On The Professional Edge