Working Minds Philosophy of Empowerment homepage

The WMail Newsletter
Volume II   [Year 2001]   Part 4

Special Issue #15 (15 September 2001)
Issue #16 October: "The Priests of Commerce"
Issue #17 November: "Game Theory In A Nutshell"
Issue #18 December: "The Stock Market Casino"

Issues #6-8 • Issues #9-11 • Issues #12-14

Volume I   [Year 2000]
Issues #1-5

Volume III   [Year 2002]
Issues #19-21 • Issues #22-24 • Issues #25-27 • Issues #28-30

Volume IV   [Year 2003]
Issues #31-33 • Issues #34-35 • Issues #36-38

Volume V   [Year 2004]
Issues #39-41 • Issues #42-44 • Issues #45-47 • Issues #48-49

Volume VI   [Year 2005]
Issues #50 & beyond

Issue #15: Special Issue
[15 September 2001]

>+<    G.E. Nordell, editor    >+<

What follows is an email that I received today,
via the Ayn Rand Discussion egroup on
I believe that the contents are important
for everyone reeling from the Terrorist Attack of Tuesday.

The "Working Minds" philosophy is at base about Empowerment,
and with that as my intention, I pass it on to you.
I request that you pass it along to anyone and everyone.

"Reason is the only frontier left."
G.E. Nordell
Culver City, California USA

BULLETIN: Late Sunday 16 September, a reader informed me that this is a copy of an article
on, posted sometime 14 September. Tamim Ansary did indeed write it, and apparently sent it out all over the internet; Salon says that they are one of many who
e-published the article, so the following is effectively in the public domain.

INTERVIEW: An interview with Tamim Ansary about his email was published in
the Sept. 21-27 issue of the "L.A. Weekly" newspaper; the link is

[above material copyright 2001 by Gary Edward Nordell, all rights reserved]

-----Original Message-----
From: Benny D. Helms
Sent: Friday, September 14, 2001 2:27 PM
To: Privacy
Subject: For your consideration... A View From Afghanistan

        Tamim is an Afghani-American writer. He is also one of the most brilliant people I know in this life. When he writes, I read. When he talks, I listen. Here is his take on Afghanistan and the whole mess we are in.
        — Gary T.

Dear Gary and whoever else is on this email thread:

        I've been hearing a lot of talk about "bombing Afghanistan back to the Stone Age." Ronn Owens, on KGO Talk Radio today, allowed that this would mean killing innocent people, people who had nothing to do with this atrocity, but "we're at war, we have to accept collateral damage. What else can we do?" Minutes later I heard some TV pundit discussing whether we "have the belly to do what must be done."

        And I thought about the issues being raised especially hard because I am from Afghanistan, and even though I've lived here for 35 years I've never lost track of what's going on there. So I want to tell anyone who will listen how it all looks from where I'm standing.

        I speak as one who hates the Taliban and Osama Bin Laden. There is no doubt in my mind that these people were responsible for the atrocity in New York. I agree that something must be done about those monsters.

        But the Taliban and Ben Laden are not Afghanistan. They're not even the government of Afghanistan. The Taliban are a cult of ignorant psychotics who took over Afghanistan in 1997. Bin Laden is a political criminal with a plan. When you think Taliban, think Nazis. When you think Bin Laden, think Hitler. And when you think "the people of Afghanistan" think "the Jews in the concentration camps". It's not only that the Afghan people had nothing to do with this atrocity. They were the first victims of the perpetrators. They would exult if someone would come in there, take out the Taliban and clear out the rats nest of international thugs holed up in their country.

        Some say, why don't the Afghans rise up and overthrow the Taliban?
        The answer is, they're starved, exhausted, hurt, incapacitated, suffering.

        A few years ago, the United Nations estimated that there are 500,000 disabled orphans in Afghanistan – a country with no economy, no food. There are millions of widows. And the Taliban has been burying these widows alive in mass graves. The soil is littered with land mines, the farms were all destroyed by the Soviets. These are a few of the reasons why the Afghan people have not overthrown the Taliban.

        We come now to the question of bombing Afghanistan back to the Stone Age. Trouble is, that's been done. The Soviets took care of it already. Make the Afghans suffer? They're already suffering. Level their houses? Done. Turn their schools into piles of rubble? Done. Eradicate their hospitals? Done. Destroy their infrastructure? Cut them off from medicine and health care? Too late. Someone already did all that.

        New bombs would only stir the rubble of earlier bombs. Would they at least get the Taliban? Not likely. In today's Afghanistan, only the Taliban eat, only they have the means to move around. They'd slip away and hide. Maybe the bombs would get some of those disabled orphans, they don't move too fast, they don't even have wheelchairs. But flying over Kabul and dropping bombs wouldn't really be a strike against the criminals who did this horrific thing. Actually it would only be making common cause with the Taliban – by raping once again the people they've been raping all this time.

        So what else is there? What can be done, then? Let me now speak with true fear and trembling. The only way to get Bin Laden is to go in there with ground troops. When people speak of "having the belly to do what needs to be done" they're thinking in terms of having the belly to kill as many as needed. Having the belly to overcome any moral qualms about killing innocent people. Let's pull our heads out of the sand.

        What's actually on the table is Americans dying. And not just because some Americans would die fighting their way through Afghanistan to Bin Laden's hideout. It's much bigger than that folks. Because to get any troops to Afghanistan, we'd have to go through Pakistan. Would they let us? Not likely. The conquest of Pakistan would have to be first.

        Will other Muslim nations just stand by? You see where I'm going. We're flirting with a world war between Islam and the West.

        And guess what: that's Bin Laden's program. That's exactly what he wants. That's why he did this. Read his speeches and statements.

        It's all right there. He really believes Islam would beat the west. It might seem ridiculous, but he figures if he can polarize the world into Islam and the West, he's got a billion soldiers. If the west wreaks a holocaust in those lands, that's a billion people with nothing left to lose, that's even better from Bin Laden's point of view. He's probably wrong, in the end the west would win, whatever that would mean, but the war would last for years and millions would die, not just theirs but ours. Who has the belly for that? Bin Laden does. Anyone else?

        — Tamim Ansary

ADDED May 2002: Tamim's new book is now published:

Kabul NY    "West of Kabul, East of New York: An Afghan
American Reflects on Islam & the West" [2002]

Picador 8¼x5½ pb [3/2003] for $10.40
Farrar Straus & Giroux 7¾x5¼ hardcover [4/2002] for $15.40
FS&G Adobe Reader ebook [5/2002] for $9.00
FS&G M/S Reader ebook [5/2002] for $9.00

Issue #16: "The Priests of Commerce"
[October 2001]

>+<    G.E. Nordell, editor    >+<

"Some things are still, at this late hour, not for sale and never will be."
— Tom Piazza (in Oxford American Nov-Dec 2000)

"The primary benefit of practicing any art, whether well or badly,
is that it enables one's soul to grow."
— Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. [1922-2007] (in Writers' Digest Sept 2001)

"Experience declares that man is the only animal which devours his own kind,
for I can think of no milder term to apply to ... the general prey of the rich on the poor."
— Thomas Jefferson [1743-1826]

NOTE: A reader informed me that the essay/article sent out as Special Issue #15 was posted
on; I asked Salon about that and they said that Tamim Ansary had sent his essay
to many sites on the internet. So in effect, the article is in the public domain.
Thanks to the many WMail readers who forwarded copies to others.

" T h e    P R I E S T S    &    P R O P H E T S    o f    C O M M E R C E "

        The basic Working Minds philosophy is post-objectivist and post-existential, taking concepts from both areas, as well as from many other disciplines, building upon each of them, combining here and there, and extending matters further in each case.
        Randian, Objectivist-leaning readers will especially like this month's essay.

        Ayn Rand's opposition to the 'Priests of Religion' and to the 'Priests of War' is covered in many essays; she also used the terms 'witch doctors' and 'the Atillas of history' in the essay "For The New Intellectual", and the terms 'the mystic' and 'the dictator' in John Galt's speech in "Atlas Shrugged".
        Both these systems are derived from fear, primarily a fear that others have been accorded Some Quality, some natural Value, that the Priests & Prophets of Religion and the Priests & Prophets of War have not – that the only access to such an absent, mysterious Quality is by seeking command over others who do seem to have such an inherent Quality (or Value): the only way to obtain the Power of such a Quality or Value is second-hand.

        Their belief is that others have Something which can only be obtained thru control of those others: control either by mysticism or by military force.

*          *          *          *

        Religion offers fear of eternal death and-or damnation (or fear of bad karma or fear of reincarnation as someone of a lower caste), for which Religion also presents a false antidote: obey the Religion and the non-existent bogeyman will not get you.
        Eisenhower's "military-industrial complex" offers fear of subjugation by foreign hordes, for which the Priests of War also present an identical false antidote: preparation against armed destruction by the non-existent menace, under either outright dictatorship or subtler means of control – better subjugation by local masters than by outsiders.
        Neither premise, however, is valid in light of Reason: Remove systems of Religion, and you have only existential reality; remove the machinery of War, and you are left with six-billion-plus people as passengers on Spaceship Earth.
        We are all in this together, all equal Citizens of a water-covered planet we call Earth, or Terra.

*          *          *          *

        In recent times, a NEW false priesthood has arisen, for whom I use the term 'Priests & Prophets of Commerce'.
        Ayn Rand hinged her base philosophy on the Value 'Reason', that Reason is Mankind's only tool for survival. She also promoted Capitalism as the only economic system based in Reason: that productivity of the Individual is the source of wealth, and that the Individual has the Natural Right to negotiate a contract for his/her services without coercion; the Individual has the right to accept or to decline any contract – the slave does not.
        Rand's book "Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal" covers her views, and also – surprising to most – how it is that Capitalism has never actually been put into practice. She writes often that the enemy of the Priests of Religion and of the Priests of War are the Thinkers of the world: business people, industrialists, inventors, and scientists.

        But much has changed since 1961 when "For The New Intellectual" was written and published. Computers and satellites and cable channels galore have radically altered the ways that Individuals operate, in even the poorest countries.
        The means of communication have expanded. But the content is still attuned to the policies of the Culture Structure, which chooses virtually all of what the Citizenry see and hear – and yes indeed, even what you do or do not think.
        (You think that you Think, but you do not: If what you are doing is Thinking, then how come you cannot halt the automaticity of the Little Voice In Your Head, your personal version of the Culture Structure-induced False Mind? How come new ideas are always outside the Main Stream, never inside, and always presented as the Radical Fringe? – unless and until the Culture Structure co-opts the concept for commercial consumption, of course.)

        So a new set of fears has been established – it's the economy, stupid! – and the newly-anointed Priests and Prophets of Commerce will solve the problem for you. All that you have to do is give them obedience – sound familiar? – and all will be well, into Eternity. Pay extortion to the Oligarchy, give fealty to the Culture Structure, and they will grant you the right of servitude.

        Sacrifice your inherent and natural Value as an Individual, adhere to the reactionary rules of Political Correctness, hype any crap that the Oligarchy-owned corporations produce in Third World sweatshops, speak not a murmur of curiosity about why nothing ever changes for the better – in short, do not question their authority – and the Priests and Prophets of Commerce will, out of the kindness of their shriveled hearts – ta-da! – prevent economic collapse.

*          *          *          *

        But again, Objective Reason cannot tolerate this premise. The prophesied economic collapse, when it does indeed occur, will be caused by the Priests of Commerce, acting for the Oligarchy, from their co-extortion of great portions of the actual Economic Value derived (only!) from the labor of Individuals, and because that money-value was diverted to the pockets of the Oligarchy.
        (For newly-arrived readers: the Oligarchy is defined as 'rule by the few', while the in-practice meaning is 'rule by the owners'. To wit: the Oligarchy is the 1% of the population in America and elsewhere around this planet that own 50% of everything.)

        The Oligarchy has increased their possessions by forty percent in the fifteen years since Dr. Ravi Batra defined the problem. Such money-value diversion can only occur by reducing the possessions of the remaining 99% of the population, which includes every single reader of this essay.
        Fifteen percent of all assets in America changed hands during this time, ownership moving from the 99% to the Oligarchy: They have a bigger piece of the pie, and you, oblivious reader, have that much less.

*          *          *          *

        The Oligarchy and its system of obedience – which I term the Culture Structure – has done this...
         • by clear-cutting America's forests and leveling mountaintops, filling our streams and rivers with run-off dirt;
         • by polluting the aquifers with arsenic and PCBs and selenium and a whole pharmacopoeia of poisons;
         • by sending jobs overseas;
         • by paying outright for political officials – from George Dubya down to your local utility boards and school boards;
         • by downsizing, which is the practice of dumping productive workers into the street while rewarding bloated and incompetent management teams;
         • by careful and blatant manipulation of corporate structures: taking over a company and-or declaring bankruptcy, liquidation of assets, and then starting over with line employees paid at half the prior rate

        ...all for the purpose of protecting the Holy Bottom Line.

        The Oligarchy orchestrates policy in corporate boardrooms, the Culture Structure supports the Oligarchy by declaring, "What's the problem – you have a job, don't you?", meanwhile diverting attention to the latest Washington sex scandal or foreign guerrilla war.
        The result? Once-trusting employees suffer shell shock and scramble to get back into the good graces of the Culture Structure, back into the evil Economic Game of the Oligarchy: "Please, please, let me back on the team!"

        Where the Culture Structure has the Citizenry by the proverbial 'short hairs' is that until masses of Individuals stand outside of this lethal Economic Game, the fear-ridden slaves of the Culture Structure perpetuate the problem by their obedience.

        Every time that you purchase some product whose purpose is 'Conspicuous Consumption' [see Thorstein Veblen link below], then the Oligarchy and the Culture Structure benefit. Not you, cuz you don't even own that product: you bought it on credit!
        Meanwhile there remains a vast backlog of work in merely attempting the survival of Mankind, of the species Homo sapiens. Such work would create direct Value, both physically and economically (as opposed to paying extortion to the Oligarchy): replacing the deteriorating infrastructure creates jobs; education creates jobs and produces a population of Individuals, ready to live productive lives; healthcare creates jobs and provides Value.

        In fact, the benefit of jobs that create Value, of productive work for a legitimate portion of the economic pie, is two-fold: actual money-value is created by employment (all Value is created only by the Individual), and the Culture Structure cannot extort a piece of any Value created at the level of productive work. The extortion by the Oligarchy occurs after the Individual has produced such money-value.
        Yet jobs are being eliminated in every industry, while profits paid to the Oligarchy are increased. The Oligarchy runs the show, the 'ticket in' is giving fealty to the Culture Structure, the Individual produces wealth, but does not get to keep any.

*          *          *          *

        The Sacramento Bee newspaper (of California) used to have a reader-written column called "If I Were King", wherein ideas were presented for the solution of various local and humanity-wide problems, no matter how politically impossible.
        One such idea would be to eliminate the industries of hype: eliminate advertising from every corporate budget, for example, or at the very least, remove its tax deductibility. Spend all those billions of dollars instead on replanting America's forests. Or on fixing neglected roads and bridges that are increasingly on the brink of collapse.

        Or on Education [see WMail Issue #6].
        Folks outside academia may not think of Education as an industry – the Culture Structure does not want you to entertain such a concept – but such is indeed the case. The same Oligarchy policies and Culture Structure strategies apply: takeover and-or bankruptcy, liquidation of assets, setting up operations elsewhere (the purpose of school voucher proposals).

        The policies of management in use by the Priests and Prophets of Commerce produce shoddier goods at greater cost by ever-larger corporations obliterating free enterprise. In academia, the product is so worthless that 25% of students drop out before completing high school, since school is a waste of time. And as in other industries, union agitation for responsible management results in lockouts, so you dare not rock the boat one little bit.
        Forget notions of disobedience. Even non-obedience in academia is dealt with harshly: teachers transferred to the ghetto, denial of tenure, negative performance reviews. The vicious circle of Fear leads to worsening results, but if you sign up for slavery, the Oligarchy will provide you certainty of survival – as a slave!
        Pick your industry, it is the same.

        Across the Culture Structure, from country to country, from nation to city to village to farm, the benumbed masses are willing to abrogate all Responsibility to the Priests and Prophets of Commerce, in the blind hope of attaining crumbs of profit or security. The marginally productive are kept to perform any actual value-producing labor, while the most-capable – any self-actuated Individuals who live inside of an empowering Objectivity-based Personal Purpose in Life – are treated as heretics, eventually removed as a threat to the Culture Structure. Open your mouth to question authority and your chances of feeding yourself become limited.

*          *          *          *

        Do you know anyone who is out of debt (residential mortgage excepted)? Do you know anyone who is at peace with their present circumstances, who are certain that they and their loved ones will never have to sell out their self-generated Individuality (sourced by empowering values) in order to participate in the Economic Game?
        Do you know anyone who is free to speak candidly to superiors – note that term – in the workplace? Do you know any organization eager for correction by worker bees of internal unworkability? Do you know any organization not rooted in deception, complacency, shoddy work, exploitation of the weak and ignorant, and the wishful pretense that all is well?

        Do you know any business or organization or governmental body today that does NOT use fear and intimidation as the primary relationship with its employees and vendors and customers?

        Where there is a steady state of Fear, the Priests & Prophets of Commerce – and the Priests & Prophets of Religion and the Priests & Prophets of War – rule a complicit mob.

[copyright 2001 by Gary Edward Nordell, all rights reserved]

The preceding is an excerpt from my forthcoming book,
"Working Minds: A Philosophy of Empowerment".

==>  For Euro-fans of Ayn Rand, visit the German-language site at (which also has English-language pages)

==>  For any executive or employee of large organizations, check out
        the new Landmark Education Business Development website:
        which later became The Vanto Group

==>  For info on economist Thorstein B. Veblen, who defined the
        term 'Conspicuous Consumption' a hundred years ago, visit

N E X T   M O N T H: "Game Theory In A Nutshell"

I N   D E C E M B E R: "The Stock Market Casino"

Issue #17: "Game Theory In A Nutshell"
[November 2001]

>+<    G.E. Nordell, editor    >+<

"Capitalism demands the best of every man – his rationality – and rewards him
accordingly. It leaves every man free to choose the work he likes, to
specialize in it, to trade his product for the products of others, and to
go as far on the road of achievement as his ability and ambition will carry him."
— Ayn Rand [1905-82] (in "For the New Intellectual", 1961)

"Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay
any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose
any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of Liberty."
— John F. Kennedy [1917-63] (Inaugural Address, 1961)

"Truth be told, druthers are hard to come by."
— G.E. Nordell

"It is better to die on your feet, than to live on your knees."
— Emiliano Zapata [1879-1919]

"The Government of the United States is not, in any sense,
founded on the Christian religion."
— George Washington [1732-99], in 1796

"Make no little plans, they have no magic to stir men’s blood; think big.”
— Chicago architect Daniel H. Burnham [1846-1912] {quote & citation corrected 10/2007}

" G A M E    T H E O R Y    IN    A    NUTSHELL "

        The ideas of Sigmund Freud are now obsolete. Journalist Michael Ventura and psychologist James Hillman said it all succinctly in the title of their 1993 book "We've Had a Hundred Years of Psychotherapy and the World's Getting Worse". The pervasive Culture Structure – that big machine that is designed so that nothing works – continues to advocate psychiatry because the availability of such a soporific diverts us all from any effective solution.

        One such very effective solution is Transactional Analysis, created in 1957 by Dr. Eric Berne (see T/A Page link below). The attributes of T/A produce extraordinary results for anyone who chooses to employ its distinctions:

• • 1) The activity is democratic, as opposed to the paternal nature of the classic doctoral figure listening to the ramblings of the recumbent patient. In T/A, the patient is at least an equal participant with the therapist, and indeed, in the group therapy setting, the therapist participates (to varying degrees) as a patient.

• • 2) T/A is an active set of clearly defined theories. While psychiatry hopes to uncover dark secrets of the patient's past, T/A is used to discover present methodologies – chosen in the past, yet practiced in day-to-day interaction – as well as providing skills to use in present and future dealings with everyone that might pass thru one's circumstances.

• • 3) The basics of T/A can be taught to six-year-olds, which is a mission that I am committed to seeing fulfilled. As enlarged upon in my essay "Lost In Bombay" ("Working Minds" Chapter 12), human beings are tossed into the schoolyard and other environments with next to no effective knowledge of the rules, forcing each child to learn such matters under fire, as it were. (If you think not, then take a closer look at how well people work together: Even in the best of environments, there are dangerous undercurrents of intrigue, manipulations over turf, and rampant 'one-upmanship', ranging from the petty to life-threatening.)

        Armed with the concepts of T/A, the Individual of any age is better able to deal with the onslaught of others' actions, the same as anyone having read the users manual for a computer or for a software package can operate with much more ease and facility and speed than the (typical) user who refuses to read any such manual, barging ahead as if the rules are irrelevant.

        The rules of any game are important, and Transactional Analysis supplies a powerful set of conceptual tools for direct use in the Game of Life.

*          *          *          *

        Dr. Berne discovered the Game Theory area of T/A during close study of alcoholics. He defined only three roles or moves in Game-playing: Victim, Rescuer, and Persecutor. You all make these moves in virtually all transactions, automatically, by default, because these three moves were given to you by example, since the day that you first drew breath, since every one of you grew up inside the Culture-Structure.
        The advantage of learning and consciously, intentionally operating inside of an awareness of Games operated by others is the same as with any skill: You can learn to drive from a parent, or you can learn to drive at racing school; you can learn English in school or on the street or from our brain-deadening media – or you can study an encyclopedia and a dictionary and a thesaurus. One is haphazard, the other produces a skill.

        How you know that there is a Game is that there is a switch. Someone bangs their car into yours, you become a Victim – or they do. If there is a policeman nearby, you might prevail upon them to Rescue you. Both sides in such a case will usually attempt the role of Persecutor, either immediately – loud accusations, even fisticuffs – or wait to ask the insurance company to Rescue by acting as Persecutor.
        The Dating Game is fraught with soap opera-style drama: girl flirts with boy (Rescue me from being single); boy takes girl out and is over-aggressive (she is Victim); she tells all her friends (Rescue by sympathy). Meanwhile, he tells all his friends how she conned him for dinner and entertainment (he is also Victim, from the same evening), and likewise receives 'Rescue by sympathy'. If things go just a little wrong, she warns her friends of his boorish or ill-mannered behavior (Persecutor), and-or he lies to his friends that she led him on and did not acquiesce (same evening: he is also Persecutor). If things go really bad, she calls the cops on him for touching her (serious Persecutor), or he does more than touch her (same: serious Persecutor). Switch, switch, switch.
        On and on, for the last several millennia, with no solution expected for the never-ending Battle of the Sexes/Genders – or for the Irish or the Israelis or the native population of whatever country you want to name.

        But the use of T/A skills can intervene in this automatic stimulus-response, which occurs at the level of Individual, at the levels of Group and Community, and indeed, between nations and races. In fact, should an expedition of Martians ever land on the White House lawn, Mankind will perpetuate this same Game behavior on them, which the Martians will not comprehend. I expect any such party of Visitors From Space will either take us under their wing, classifying us as intergalactic savages, or take immediate offense and wipe us out without a qualm.

*          *          *          *

        Creative writers should especially absorb Game Theory, for writerly reasons as well as for personal use. Great dramatists, from Shakespeare to O'Neill to Mamet, have instinctive knowledge of the moves made in human interaction, while the new student of T/A can quickly utilize the moves – a switch from Victim to Rescuer to Persecutor, and back again – to orchestrate dramatic events on the stage or screen or page.

        So too can the Individual orchestrate moves in the Game of Daily Life. However, the danger in that is the eternal perpetuation and escalation of more Games. Whether either of the two sides in a hostage situation comes out ahead by knowing and using Game Theory is no help: the purpose of the Working Mind in learning T/A is a radical one – to Stop The Game.

        The Working Minds philosophy adds a fourth move in Game behavior: that of Empowerment. By refusing – by Act of Will – to react in a Game as expected, by consciously choosing to stand outside such Game moves, one is able to invoke some Empowering Act, by choosing Objective Reason as one's guide.
        In the brief example above of the fender-bender, the Working Mind can act very business-like, neither Rescuer, Victim nor Persecutor. In the example of the 'heavy date', either party can prevent escalation, keep the moves at a non-dramatic level, fall back on millennium-old traditions, and if disappointed, simply remove the other person's name from his/her address list. No switch, no Game.

        This is not easy, since all of the Culture Structure's might is addressed to perpetuating Game behavior: simple 'divide and conquer'. Are you not the Victim of 'Big Government'? Or do you believe that the role of Government is to Rescue you? And then there is all the wasted effort of attempts to Persecute – thru sabotage or resistance or mealy-mouthed complaint – the very terrible Government that you yourself elected (by vote or by default) into office at all levels.
        Game behavior is standard and omnipresent; the antidote is Empowerment.

*          *          *          *

        The best overview of the principles of T/A that I have found is in the book "Scripts People Live" by Claude M. Steiner (see link below). He was a fellow of Dr. Berne and the book clearly explores and explains all facets of T/A, which besides Game Theory includes Script Analysis, Structural Analysis, Time Theory, Okay/Not Okay, and Stroke Economy/Trading Stamps. (Game Theory and Time Theory are such rich concepts that my summarization in the book "Working Minds" runs to over 40 pages.)

        The more that you as an Individual learn of T/A, the more that you increase its conscious application in your Daily Life – along with the concepts of the Working Minds philosophy – the better off you will fare in your ongoing struggle to move beyond mere survival, toward Making A Difference With Your Life.
        "In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king." Likewise, the Individual who wills his/her actions to take into account the principles and practices of T/A and of the Working Minds philosophy has a major advantage over those who do not have a clue.

        In educating one's loved ones in these distinctions, you empower them by giving them similar advantage. Once you are surrounded by fellows empowered to the same level, that of on-going non-Game behavior, what will open up is the possibility of Mankind's Potential, the fulfillment of which requires the fulfillment of your own freely chosen Personal Purpose In Life.

        If you are doing your best, inside Objective Reason, if you Empower more and more as time continues, then the rest will follow.

[copyright 2001 by Gary Edward Nordell, all rights reserved]

See also WMail Issue #38 on the 'Time Structure' elements of Transactional Analysis.

==>  The book mentioned above by Michael Ventura & James Hillman is
        "We've Had a Hundred Years of Psychotherapy & the World's Getting Worse"

==>  I highly recommend Claude M. Steiner's "Scripts People Live"

==>  Jeffrey Barak has posted Issue #1's essay "Urgently Objectivist"
        (from Chapter 1 of "Working Minds: A Philosophy of Empowerment")
        at his 'The-Vu' ezine:

==>  The Transactional Analysis link per above is

==>  FOR VETERANS: Sign up with, maybe there is a reunion in the works...

==>  INTERVIEW: An interview with Tamim Ansary about his email [see WMail Issue #15
        at] was published in the Sept. 21-27
        issue of the "L.A. Weekly" newspaper; the link is

N E X T   M O N T H: "The Stock Market Casino"

I N   J A N U A R Y: "Virtual Tea Party"

Issue #18: "The Stock Market Casino"
[December 2001]

>+<    G.E. Nordell, editor    >+<

"You can't blame the president for the state of the country. It's
always the poets' fault."
— Ken Kesey [1935-2001]

"Discovery consists in seeing what everyone else has seen and thinking
what no one else has thought."
— Albert Szent-Gyorgi [1893-1986]

"An intellectual is someone whose mind watches itself."
— Albert Camus [1913-60]

"There are no vital and significant forms of art; there is only art, and
precious little of that."
— Raymond Chandler [1888-1959]

"Freedom lies in the recognition of necessity."
— Spinoza [1632-77]

" T h e    S T O C K    M A R K E T    C A S I N O "

        The original design of the Stock Market was purely Capitalist in intention: to provide a means for business people – entrepreneurs, inventors, developers – to obtain needed investment capital, to start or to expand their business enterprises. Stock offerings were set up, bankers and other investors bought the stock, the businesses made use of the invested monies, and once an enterprise was flourishing and producing a profit, the borrowing entity bought back the outstanding stock, so that the capital could be utilized by other enterprises.
        This last part of the design has largely been forgotten, since brokers quickly realized that they could make lots of easy money in trading shares back and forth. They became middlemen, in charge of the pipeline of Capital, exacting their levy on each and every transaction. Any repayment of the investment would eliminate the possibility of a levy by the brokers. The game was soon no longer about Capital, and every concern of the Stock Market became centered on traffic-flow.

*          *          *          *

        Now, when I was in the Air Force, my home station was Nellis AFB outside Las Vegas, Nevada (plus a few other assignments, such as Southeast Asia). After I was discharged I found a job as the systems programmer for Howard Hughes, which included responsibility to design the Gaming Reporting System for the seven hotel-casinos and such that were part of Hughes Nevada Operations.
        So I learned all about 'handle' and 'drops', and random number generator programs, and designed and built a system that summarized everything, the result being a daily report that Howard read thoroughly every night. So I watched it closely, myself, to prevent problems as quickly as they might arise. (One such problem was when the dollar figures went from seven digits to eight: there was little room on the printer line, so I carefully removed a few commas.)
        I already knew that The Odds Are With The House, and soon learned that the slot machines around town were designed to pay The House an average 14% [back then], with certain areas of each casino paying a higher rate, such as near the main entrances – the clamor of the jackpot alarms are intended to draw pedestrians inside – and the hotels downtown paying a higher rate than hotels along The Strip.

        Being the ever-observant fellow, even then, I soon noticed in daily perusal of the Gaming Report that the Keno games were quite volatile. [The game of Keno presents 80 numbers, from which the bettor chooses combinations of up to ten or even more numbers, with precise payouts for matches to the numbers drawn each game: 3 of 5, or 6 of 10, etc. Keno has no pari-mutuel payout like today's Lotto-type games.] The natural odds for a Keno ticket were something like 100,000-to-one, while the maximum payout for any one game was then $25,000 (since raised to $50,000 or more).
        The progress of the Month-To-Date net on the Keno games was intriguing: if several tickets hit all their numbers one weekend, the results of the Keno game could go negative for the month, and would stay negative for some time. But I noticed, as the casino bosses already knew, that the dollars figure invariably showed positive net numbers by the end of the month. ALWAYS.

        The casinos in Nevada are as legitimate as a human institution can be. They police themselves stringently – basically out of fear of Federal intervention, but the result is the same as if their motives were pure in heart. The casinos don't need to cheat, it is completely unnecessary, because all that they have to do is attract warm bodies with cash in their pockets to their desert oasis, and those visitors will leave 10 or 15 percent of the casino-table traffic [the 'handle'] in the coffers of the owners of each hotel-casino or 'slot den'. (This is why rooms and food are relatively cheap. The House could make that percentage if they gave away the rooms and food and drinks, which does indeed happen from time to time: high-rollers and conventioneers and others with deep pockets are 'comped' all the time.)

*          *          *          *

        So what exactly is different in the Stock Market Casino? Not much.
        The showroom entertainment – Robert Goulet and magic acts and 'tits-and-feathers' shows – is replaced by colored graphs and pie-charts on CNN/money and in USA Today, and the clamor of the slot jackpot alarm bells is replaced by scary headlines in the Wall Street Journal and in your local newspaper's Financial Section. And everybody recognizes Alan Greenspan's ugly mug, from incessant exposure on the nightly TV news.

        Brokerage houses make their percentage from the traffic, just as in Las Vegas and Atlantic City and on Mississippi riverboats. Though the internet has had its effect with lower brokerage fees, the Big Boys still charge $50 or more per trade. Notice that this daily levy is never reported in summary, just the Dow-Jones average 'on volume of x billion shares'. You will never see a report of the daily brokerage levy, that Goldman Sachs or Charles Schwab made millions of dollars yesterday (net their cost of doing business) because all those shares merely traded ownership.

        The Stock Market Casino, precisely like the legal gambling dens of America, is a very simple machine. Customers bring in a ton of money and they leave a portion of it behind, thinking that they had a really good time.
        Money goes into the Stock Market Casino, but one question never seems to get asked or answered: Where does all that money go? Every time that somebody wins, somebody else loses; every time somebody loses, somebody else wins their money. Money-value does not appear or disappear based on some fancy chart. The money goes in, and the money goes out. You either win or you lose – or you hold, and then you win or you lose.

        The Stock Market Casino produces nothing, no actual money-value. Money moves back and forth, salary-men make a living, executives purchase bigger and bigger homes, the economy seems to move nicely – but the big money is siphoned off to the Oligarchy.
        The Oligarchy makes oodles of money from the Stock Market Casino, just as they do from their holdings in legal gaming casinos. But the Oligarchy is NOT gambling. The Odds Are With The House – always and forever. You put money in the machine – whether a dollar slot or a mutual fund – and some percentage is removed, and the final destination of that levy is the fur-lined pockets of the Oligarchy.

*          *          *          *

        The original intent of the Stock Market, as stated above, is that eventually each business would make sufficient profit to buy back the shares of its investors, allowing the investors to capitalize other businesses.
        But the Stock Market Casino is a 'Ponzi scheme'. (Named after Charles Ponzi, who perfected the scam of paying money out to early investors at a high rate, bringing in more and more new suckers, until the pile gets big enough, and the scammer disappears with the pile.)
        The stock market machinery itself cannot encourage such a practice as repayment, because there is not enough actual value. Companies like and America Online have negative revenue or net actual value, and yet they find enough backers to buy other conglomerates outright. Such deals are leveraged on debt, not on value.
        The silliness of the stock market has AOL/TimeWarner trading at 12 times equity value, which is considered proper. But this is going to be a problem if the investors attempt to get their invested capital back. The guys in the front of the line will make a profit, and the guys toward the middle and the back of the line are going to lose big time. Millions of people will just lose their life savings, too bad.

        I say that the U.S. economy is a Ponzi scheme because: a) America actually produces hardly anything, shown by our negative ratio of exports to imports, the Trade Balance; and b) if all of the outstanding corporate debt was called for payment, there would be nothing left – the Oligarchy already has possession.
        Simple Ponzi scheme. The worldwide Great Depression of the early 1930's had the same cause, and the next worldwide Great Depression will similarly blindside the citizenry.
        The first debt to be called will be consumer debt; inability to pay off those household debts will cause local institutions to collapse; local problems will tumble larger money-lenders in a 'domino effect', moving from industry to industry and from country to country, eventually bankrupting the Federal Reserve and the whole shebang.

        The money goes in the front door of the casino – and of the stock market – and the customers return home with less than when they started. Every day, every year. From Nevada to Wall Street to Hong Kong to London. The Ponzi scheme will fall apart, the only question is when. And how much of your money disappears into the coffers and counting houses of the Oligarchy.

*          *          *          *

        Though I expect to have little effect on world economic events, there are several possible solutions, at least at the local level: Pay off ALL your personal debts while you get out of the stock market, mutual funds, all such 'virtual money' schemes. I make no recommendations for what is safe (maybe later). If you manage a company, do exactly the same: pay off debt.
        Politically, the answer to lessen the coming economic crisis is to legislate corporate tax credits for purchase of 'treasury shares'. Treasury shares are outstanding shares in a corporation that are purchased by the corporation, effectively taking them out of the market. The new law could also allow some incentive for purchase of blocks of shares by directors. The plan is to remove the capital from the market and leave the corporate entities in the hands of the Oligarchy – the various boards of directors run the show anyway, under the watchful eye of the Oligarchy, of course.

        This plan would return the stock market to its original design: eventual repayment of the invested capital, leaving an autonomous business entity with no outside shareholders to report to. There is no need for outside shareholders, since the Oligarchy owns 50% of everything in America. Make the fat cats of the Oligarchy work to make a buck, no more Stock Market Casino with your hard-earned money. By removing yourself from the Stock Market Casino, you eliminate the chance of the Oligarchy taking their percentage, whether thru brokerage fees or gaming resorts or stock dividends or consumer credit interest. If you do gain possession of your equity – a house or land or a small business – by eliminating personal and business debt, the Oligarchy cannot get their hands in the till.
        Can they?

        Or perhaps it is still exactly like the surprise Tennessee Ernie Ford song hit of October 1955: "You load sixteen tons, and what do you get? / Another day older and deeper in debt / St. Peter, don't you call me, 'cause I can't go / I owe my soul to the company store".

[copyright 2001 by Gary Edward Nordell, all rights reserved]

The above essay was reprinted in April 2002 in the following local Mensa newsletters:
"Capital M" of Washington DC Mensa
"FORVM" of Central NJ Mensa
"Sally Hemings Memorial Newsletter" of Central VA Mensa
"Spectrum" [ezine version] of East TX Mensa

==>  Early Russian-language booklets by Ayn Rand: "Pola Negri" [1925]
        and "Hollywood: The American City of Movies" [1926] available used
        via ANNI Books in Moscow [Nov 2001]: anni [at]

==>  A page of Yogi Berra quotations at

==>  Ayn Rand biographer Tibor R. Machan has a new ebook version out, of his 1990 book
        "Capitalism and Individualism: Reframing the Argument for the Free Society"
        ebook [no longer available 8/2003]
        hardcover = out of print/ available used at Amazon

==>  Interesting post-Sept 11 Attack response from Dr. Nagendra Rentala

N E X T   M O N T H: "Virtual Tea Party"

I N   F E B R U A R Y: "Electro-Magnetic Radiation"

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