Monthly Archives: December 2012

A Fiscal Cliff Fable — Or Maybe a Solution?

Volume 2, Issue 37

They called him the SAP. The kid looked about 12 years old. He was Special Assistant to POTUS — the President of the United States. The President gave him the mission of cutting through the impasse and getting both parties to come up with a plan to get the USA off of the “Over-Leveraged Nation Goes Broke” scenario that most agree is inevitable in time given the present course.

The SAP set forth on his mission and held short meetings with practically every legislator in Washington. He invited a very small number of them to work with him on the solution. Virtually every invitee agreed. They all regretted it because the kid almost never slept.

In the first couple of days they went over the numbers and beat on them to make sure they were right. Some hoped this would reveal that everything was going to be OK. It did not turn out that way. Twenty years or so out, pick any model you want, the US could not keep up paying its obligations to Social Security, China, et al. Someone was going to have to take a haircut, maybe everybody on the planet.

And old habits that were hard to break were going to have to be broken. Wars were too expensive. We were going to have to learn to be better at preventing war and winding it down fast. Paramilitary budgets would probably go up. We would need to link up with all of the nations of the world — excepting the irresponsible ones — to share intelligence information on a scale unprecedented even by the world wars.*

Borrowing would be another bad habit to break, except when growth forecasts became stable again, enough to justify leveraging money cautiously and with set limits.

By Day 3 there was grudging agreement that people who had put money into Social Security had to at least get their money back out again, and if the numbers could be made to work, indexed for inflation and possible including a modest rate of return of say 2% (on the theory that 4% could be maintained going forward and half the gains would go to the government to pay for the administration of the program and as an additional revenue stream to ensure the country would never get into a fiscal corner again). That was the first decision that got locked into the model. Social Security would not be shut down but the government had to find better ways to grow the monies than it had in the past. This planted the seed for a subsequent idea a month later.

On Day 4 there was general agreement to actually invest more money in free retraining for people of working age (and any seniors who wanted it) to be able to support themselves. People capable of giving such trainings would be asked to tithe 10% of their time to conduct such training without compensation. The others looked on in amazement as the SAP dispatched a small army of staff to go work out the details of that program according to the principle the small group had agreed upon — with as much as possible of the retraining to be done by or in partnership with the private sector.

This idea triggered another one that day, to run a government-partnered-with-personnel-agencies master job and candidate database, into which all people out of work would be listed along with their talents and objectives, to be matched with the jobs available that employers would be sure to post on this master database system. The companies with great matching/search algorithms would be asked to donate their time to create together the best matching optimizer on the planet. The challenge itself would attract top technology talent even without money as a factor, the SAP’s team reasoned, pointing to the phenomenon of the quality of the best open-source software.

Late that same day, as energies were perhaps flagging,  the SAP came up with his own  idea of creating the opportunity for people too old or infirm to work outside the home to make money by honestly endorsing the brands they really do like, and giving their reasons. He made a call to a techie entrepreneur friend to get that plan underway as a venture company. Later in the day he laughed at himself for even having the idea. First take away their money, then their dignity, wow there’s a great solution. (Later the friend refused to give up on the idea, which became the next Google. But that’s getting ahead of the story.)

On Day 5 they ran the numbers and calculated how much more tax money would have to come from the ruling class. Half the room assumed a fighting stance. The SAP got up and acted out a role-playing game in which he pretended to have the power to negotiate with the ruling class directly over the conflict. “What do you want?” he asked the legislators of the Right. They didn’t know what to say. Finally one person said “Let our votes count double because we stepped in to save the country.” “After you got us into this mess,” said a legislator of the Left. The room devolved into temporary chaos at a high decibel level.

By Day 6 the horse-trading had reached close to the reality horizon. But it was really on Day 7 that the ideas began to sound practical. By day 30 the ideas were actually ingenious and showed what Americans are made of. The government would partner with the rich to co-invest in America and around the world in companies doing basic scientific research and/or innovating new technologies with great upside and not just economic. In addition to a tax shift to be fairer to everyone, resulting in additional support from the wealthy, this co-investment idea would turn out to yield profit shares to the government far exceeding tax revenues.

By Day 60 the deal was struck and by Day 120 it was written into Law. Other countries took the clues and adapted the ideas to their own cultures and situations.

A fable? Or what we must do, when we stop fooling around?

Happy New Era!


*I recommended this in a speech to the Commandant and Corps of Cadets at West Point in 1982, who invited me because they liked my book Mind Magic. The paper, which emphasized the need for “strategic micro-action”, is available on request. Strategic micro-action would have meant getting out of Afghanistan after Osama Bin Laden was eliminated, winding down troops strengths faster in both Iraq and Afghanistan after punitive demonstrations in both countries sapping the strengths of terrorist organizations, and after removal of Saddam Hussein, without sticking around to try to help with ethnic civil wars or police actions, however maintaining training forces and paramilitary. It would also have meant years of preparation in paramilitary coordination in every region with greater use of the media overtly or covertly (e.g. smuggled smartphones) to tell our side of the story and recruitment of more locals everywhere. Our story is the truth about freedom and democracy and so should find some adherents in even the most brainwashed countries. These are just a few of the implications of a shift in policy away from wars and to far greater use of strategic micro-action. Serious students of military history might want to look up the guerilla techniques George Washington learned from the Native Americans, and the effectiveness of the German maestro of strategic micro-action Otto Skorzeny during WWII.

PS — The first release of this post contained the idea of an optimized surgical multilateral global cancellation of some debt. My lifelong friend since I was 21 Norman Hecht, one of my favorite geniuses, convinced me that this idea is too risky and under-researched to broach it without a ton more research, and that paragraph has been stricken from the article above. Now my curiosity to investigate the option has increased and I will be studying the input-output tables that exist to understand the ripple effects of any such drastic measures before bringing up the subject again.

The “Not Petty” Filter

Volume 2, Issue 35

Letting Stuff Go By

In the barrage of incoming stimuli you have a choice which pieces to respond to in some way and which pieces to let fly by. This is an opportunity to practice Observer state.

In Observer state, attention is deployed both internally and externally at the same time, the whole of it treated as a single perceptual field. The inner world is so different from the outer world that few of us naturally take to treating all of it as a single field.

Yet in my theory of Holosentience I posit that feelings are really inner perceptions, so of course the entire panorama of experience funneling into the self is one stream, the eponymous stream of consciousness.

In earlier posts I’ve mentioned noticing your own negative reactions to incoming stimuli and regarding those reactions with the same interest you’d give to a bug specimen.

These are not in fact all coming from the real you. The preponderance of what you have probably always thought of as your own reactions are coming from a mechanism inside you that did not exist at your birth. The mechanism is made out of protein and takes the form of neurons built since birth in your brain and interconnected in very specific ways. This firmware in your head is not the real you, it is a part of the real you.

The real you is the experiencer that existed at your birth. This is the place you are centered in when you are in the Observer state, and also when you are in the Flow state (the Zone).

At other times you are in Emergency Oversimplification Procedure or “EOP” for short, a pandemic mental disease caused (in my theory) by the accelerating inventiveness of the culture since the dawn of visible language about 6000 years ago. “Information Overload” is the Devil that humanity has always defaulted to when they could not account for how things ever got so messed up.

Holding off from identifying with your inner reactions is one filter that helps keep us above EOP.

Another one is letting stuff go by — like water off a duck’s back — when the alternative is to become petty yourself.

The next time you are with someone and are about to join that person at a petty level, stay focused on What Is the Big Idea, The Big Learning, The Highest Strategic Purpose That Could Be Served by steering away from the negative directionality of the moment. Let the other stuff go by. Don’t let your own negative feelings assume they have been validated by your central consciousness. Let that garbage float downstream behind you (“Get Thee behind Me Satan!”). What can you tell the other person that affords true solution potential rather than continuing down a yenta (gossip level) path?

Maintain compassion rather than judging the other person who got caught wasting the time of the Great Computers Upstairs in Your Heads with idle slop. Picture that your friend was wounded in a battle long ago and now cannot speak without spitting a little. The pettiness is the spittle from what was truly an old unresolved battle, still being fought in your friend’s brain to this day.

Big Ideas are largely a matter of focus above the petty levels.

Wishing you all a beautiful holiday season,


How to Tune the Mind

Volume 2, Issue 34

In my theory of Holosentience, neuron clusters are formed by experiences both assimilated and non-assimilated. The non-assimilated experiences generate cascades of ego-protective distortions in the perceptual/feeling lens of consciousness. The energy in this endless waterfall of Emergency Oversimplification Procedure (where reality distortion becomes the feedback control loop to maintain self-comfort) draws so much attention to this locus that it is able to masquerade as the self and take over completely.

In that mode the true observer self is ignored and ignores itself, because it is swept into identification with the robotic self as a result of the process described above.

When the observer wakes up we call it Observer state.

The power of self-deception is so strong for two main reasons:

  1. The perceptual aspect of consciousness, which includes the inner perceptions we call feelings (sometimes conflated with emotions, the actual physical correlates of feelings that exist in the phenomenological or experiential realm of consciousness). Feelings are very strong because of their physical correlates; in effect, the machine injects itself with powerful serums not unlike sodium pentathol in their hypnotic effects.
  1. The neuron clusters are living tissue in the physical brain so they have a self-protective urge of their own at the cellular programming level i.e. the operating system of the cell. They act so as to self-sustain. When they speak in the senate of the mind, each cluster grabs the mike and says something while the observer is being further hypnotized by a jack-up needle directly into the bloodstream that hits the brain quickly, so the observer tends to assume “I am the one speaking to myself”. In fact the observer is being offered different viewpoints by different clusters and the observer is in the least biased position to synthesize wisdom from the many viewpoints.

The other night I was sitting on a plane coming back from San Francisco. Window not aisle seat so not my favorite position. Laptop battery spent, no interest in TV or in the two books or notes in my backpack. Not sleepy. Not disposed to strike up conversation. Having just written something before shutting down, I was in Observer state and noted the different selves that were being offered to me to be at that time. There was the grumbly bored character who wanted me to put him on and wear him like a heavy mantle, and there was another one who was pleased with everything. I tuned to the pleased character.

The bored persona would sneak in from time to time and each time it would take active remembering of the whole process to reset back into the pleased persona. After a few iterations of this, the pleased persona settled in and did not need any further work to maintain its turf.

The older couple next to me were now reading The New York Times and having an intelligent conversation. Right in front of me a very small boy peeked through the seats at me and smiled. There was something mildly interesting happening on each of the three TV screens in front of us, and on the other TV screens I could see between the seats in near forward rows there was mildly interesting material there too. There was nothing wrong with sitting here and taking it all in. I remained in that state simply observing for a few hours and was not bored nor feeling guilty about not working. Not working being unusual, except when I am with my lovely Lalita.

Remembering the observer self and tuning among the debating voices in the senate of your mind without instantly caving to the drugs they are giving you — therein is the path of the hero and heroine. The size of the prize is Flow state when the observer is optimizing.

Through this pebble-tossing mechanism called our blog, we seek to share techniques and ideas that have worked for us. Simply, when more of the population is acting from the Observer state, the human world will fix itself. We are on the rising curve, let’s enjoy every second of the playing out of this movie.

Best to all,