Tag Archives: greed

Yipes! NPR reports on Oxfam finding that the rich/poor divide is growing so fast there could be unrest (deservedly so, I’d say).

From the article:

In the U.S., where the gap between rich and poor has grown at a faster rate than any other developed country, the top 1 percent captured 95 percent of post-recession growth (since 2009), while 90 percent of Americans became poorer.

“Oxfam is concerned that, left unchecked, the effects are potentially immutable, and will lead to ‘opportunity capture’ — in which the lowest tax rates, the best education, and the best healthcare are claimed by the children of the rich,” the relief agency writes. “This creates dynamic and mutually reinforcing cycles of advantage that are transmitted across generations.”

In other words, Oxfam says that if trends continue, the rich will get richer and the poor will get poorer.

“[People] are increasingly separated by economic and political power, inevitably heightening social tensions and increasing the risk of societal breakdown,” the report says.

That’s right, Oxfam is worried about societal breakdown. What the hell is wrong with big money people? Why do they seem to see no need to temper their greed? Or is it that being a non-rich person I just son’t understand what it’s like to have more money than I could possibly spend in my lifetime?

Yeah, I’m sure it would all make sense if I had more money than I could spend in my lifetime. Can someone hook me up so I can better understand this?

Thanks.

Obama Sez: Use Taxes as a Way to Keep Jobs in US; ThePete Sez: Use Guilt!

Obama Sez: Use Taxes as a Way to Keep Jobs in US; ThePete Sez: Use Guilt! by thepetecom

So, according to the above-capped article from Philly.com (source: articles.philly.com/2012-02-16/news/31067580_1_president-… ), Obama’s got this idea that he can give tax incentives to American businesses to stop them from hiring cheaper labor in other countries. This, on the surface makes sense, but don’t we need MORE tax dollars? Aren’t American corporations that pay little or no taxes harming the American economy by keeping funds from the USG?

I remember a time, not long ago, when anyone who was critical at all of America, for any reason, would be called anti-American. Speak out against wars in other countries and you were anti-American. Say something about how torture was bad and some Republican douchebag would label you anti-American. But corporations, which are now legally people, not only dodge taxes, but they also hire foreigners instead of Americans and no Republicans (or anyone else) says anything. Really, anti-American is exactly what these corporations are. By hiring foreign workers in foreign countries, not only do Americans not get paid what they are worth, the American economy, itself, loses money since the foreign worker isn’t going to be spending that money in the US.

Not paying taxes, hiring American, and sending American money to other economies–how much more anti-American can a corporate person get? As American citizens we should be slamming (and boycotting, if possible) companies that use foreign labor. Our politicians should be vocally slamming these corporations, too. After all, by not slamming them, our politicians are contributing to the loss of American jobs and American money and both harm the American economy.

Of course, the ultimate smart bomb would be to ban outsourcing completely. But we’ll never see that happen because that would harm American businesses and we would never want to put the American people above American businesses would we?

Yes, it’s true, We The People have become second class citizens behind corporations. At least we still have our freedom of speech–why not use it to slam these anti-American corporations? If they’re people they must be able to feel guilt, right?

#SnagFilms iOS app featuring only documentaries is “Brought to you by #GoldmanSachs”. App deleted on principle.

I also wrote a negative review in the App Store. Where you get your money from does matter, doesn’t it? (I’m honestly asking.)

How to Liberate America

How to Liberate America

It comes down to values and power. The fate of America turns on the outcome of a contest between forces aligned behind two competing economic systems with dramatically different values, structures, and agendas. One is the greed-driven, money-serving corporate-ruled Wall Street Economy that measures its success exclusively by the financial profits it generates for the already rich. It neither acknowledges nor accepts responsibility for the economic, social, environmental, and political devastation it leaves in its wake.

The other economy is comprised of the democratic, community-rooted, market-based life-serving Main Street economies that ordinary people are rebuilding across the nation and around the world. This emerging New Economy measures success by its contribution to securing adequate and meaningful livelihoods for everyone in a balanced relationship to nature.

Huh. Interesting take, but the first paragraph seems to be an “Incredible Hulk” version of the second paragraph since the second paragraph describes what the Western World was like for quite a while.

This is why I always take issue with people telling me I’m anti-corporate—I’m not. I just believe in moderation.  I’m 99% sure that if we go back in time with how corporations are run (not just to make as much money as possible, aka, not to the extreme) we’d see a return to the good old days of the American economy.  I think we need to regulate the shit out of corporations, passing laws that prohibit any outsourcing of ANY and ALL jobs, ban tax incentives for businesses completely, make it a jailable offense to hire illegal immigrants, force environmental and worker safety standards, require products be made with materials ONLY found inside the country and put caps on executive salaries.

Will this kill a lot of businesses in the US? Damn right it will. But only the assholes.  Good people who run businesses are already doing this sort of thing.  RIGHT?

Oh, you say you’re a good person who is running a business that would be killed by this draconian, sweeping changes? Well, good riddance then.  Because if you’re not caring about your workers, your customers, the environment, and you’re only in it for the money you can’t call yourself a good person.

We need to grow up and face the music.  Our economy is falling apart around our ears and we’re mostly pretending it isn’t.  Only sweeping changes like this will make a difference.  We need to pull back from the extreme we’ve let the corporations get to. 

Oh and the “emerging new economy” the original post refers to? I have no idea what the fuck they’re talking about.  Nothing “market-based” ever has a “balanced relationship to nature.”  We need to constantly ride the levels of regulation.  Sometimes we need a bit more and sometimes a bit less, but clearly, we need a LOT more right now as corporations are just a bunch of sociopathic Godzillas.

Which Banks are Charging New Fees and Why Banks Shouldn’t Charge at All

I reblogged a post from Newsweek’s Tumblr and added a bunch of commentary over on website666.com earlier today but thought it should be on my main blog, too, since money and banks are something that we all deal with.  The first bunch of text is from the Newsweek post, my commentary follows:

Bank of America: “A new $5 fee to replace debit cards took effect in September; a rush overnight order costs $20. Previously, both services were free.”

Chase: “In February, Chase introduced a new basic checking account with a $12 monthly fee, up from the previous $6. The fee is waived for customers who make direct deposits that total $500 a month or maintain a minimum balance of $1,500.”

Citibank: “Starting in December, Citi said it will raise the fee on its basic checking account to $10 a month, up from $8. Customers will have to maintain a balance of at least $1,500 or sign up for direct deposit and online bill pay to avoid the fee.”

Wells Fargo: “The bank also plans to test a $3 monthly debit card fee starting Oct. 14. The fee will be applied to checking accounts opened in Georgia, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington. The fee would be in addition to the fees ranging from $5 to $30 that Wells Fargo already charges.”

It’s a real shame banks have completely lost sight of what they’re core job is: to take our money and loan it to other people with interest.  That interest is supposed to be how they make money.  They’re not supposed to charge us so they can make money off of our money.  It’s that sense of entitlement that the rich always accuse everyone else of having.  So blatantly hypocritical.

But not all banks are abusive like this.  I switched to an online bank which charges no fees period and, in fact, pays me interest. I’ve made 70¢ since I signed up in April. How much has your checking account made you?

The bank is called Ally.  They used to be GMAC but rebranded at some point.  They’ve been good to me so far.  It’s a huge pain in the ass to deposit money, though.  You have to mail a check in or do a wire transfer.  I have an account with Square and it still takes a week (or so) to see the money, though Square claims a “next-day payout” on their site.  I suppose I could transfer money from my Paypal account, but that would take 3 days still.

One of the nice things about Ally is that they refund all ATM fees.  Since they don’t have any ATMs, you’re going to get charged for using other banks’ ATMs but this bank will refund those fees at the end of the month.  So, there are alternatives to the BABs (Big Asshole Banks).

The sad thing is that I tried to go to a local bank—as in, a bank that only exists in the city I live in.  Sadly, they wouldn’t let me open an account because I didn’t have a state ID at the time.  This is a very odd requirement as Washington Mutual, a bank with ATMs all over the country, didn’t seem to mind my California ID when I opened my checking account with them back in 2008.  Of course, WaMu got swallowed whole by Chase, whom I left earlier this year because they added fees.

We’re facing a world that is less and less favorable for the individual.  But there are choices you can make that can save you money.  You just have to hunt for them.

Once again we see something else that Big Money is doing to harm little individuals.  Why do rich people think they’re entitled to every last dime they can milk out of us?  Why do we not resent them for their greed?  Why isn’t just surviving enough for these people?  For many of us, surviving is all we can do.

StateBicycleCompany.com wants to bring bikes to market “at the lowest price possible” Sounds great? It’s not…

On their “about us” page, they say: Our goal is to bring the most attractive, high quality, and smooth riding fixed gear/single speed bicycles to the market at the lowest price possible.  Now take a look at those prices above. $400+ a POP. Now look at how “attractive” they are. They kinda look like those bikes that were chained to a bike rack or a tree years ago but got stripped for their best parts.  AKA, these guys are full of shit.  I’d love a nice minimalistic bike, with one gear and not a lot of moving parts–but to spend four times what I’d spend for a 15-speed at Target? That makes no sense.

Corporations are people, my friend.

Corporations are people, my friend.

GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney, on why the U.S. shouldn’t raise taxes on corporations to shield Social Security and Medicare from cuts. “Everything corporations earn goes to people,” he told the audience.  (via officialssay)

Bahhahahahahahahahah!  I laugh to keep from crying. Right, Mitt. Right.

(via baxterp2)

#Indeed.

Now, if only corporations ACTED like people, instead of mindless greed-machines. >_<

Check out what the guy who used to play Kryten on Red Dwarf had to say about the London riots and what one feminist had to say about who is to blame for them and then be sure to read the comments.

The only way out of the vicious economic cycle is for government to adopt an expansionary fiscal policy — spending more in the short term in order to make up for the shortfall in consumer demand. This would create jobs, which will put money in peoples’ pockets, which they’d then spend, thereby persuading employers to do more hiring. The consequential job growth will also help reduce the long-term ratio of debt to GDP. It’s a win-win. This is not rocket science.

The only way out of the vicious economic cycle is for government to adopt an expansionary fiscal policy — spending more in the short term in order to make up for the shortfall in consumer demand. This would create jobs, which will put money in peoples’ pockets, which they’d then spend, thereby persuading employers to do more hiring. The consequential job growth will also help reduce the long-term ratio of debt to GDP. It’s a win-win.

This is not rocket science.

Robert Reich, Vicious Cycles: Why Washington is About to Make the Jobs Crisis Worse (via underpaidgenius)

Actually, I disagree.  There’s a disconnect between what the government does and the actual job creation (notice how you almost never hear anyone talk about literally how a government encourages job creation?*).  The “job” cellphone call is dropped by corporations—the so-called “job creators.”  They seem to be in a fetal position, refusing to spend any of their profits on actually hiring people.  They’ve already got a shitload of money, so what can the government do to persuade them at this point? Nothing.

In short, we’re screwed until big business can start to understand their place in the American eco(nomic)system.

*The always interesting Planet Money podcast once talked about what governments can do to actually encourage job creation—which is not much. All they can do is “create an environment in which companies would want to invest” (I’m paraphrasing).  In other words, government has already done all it can do at this point.  It’s up to SOMEbody to make the first sacrifice and us workers have nothing left to sacrifice—big business, however…

How Ma Bell Shelved the Future for 60 Years

How Ma Bell Shelved the Future for 60 Years

Gizmodo’s Tim Wu blogs about how innovation was stopped in its tracks, effectively, due to capitalist interests.  Funny how we’re all told capitalism is great for innovation. Too bad that’s only true until innovation might damage the current business model.  Take the example of the answering machine that existed in the office of a Bell Labs engineer… in 1934.

If you haven’t heard, a family’s home burned to the ground while fire fighters stood by but did nothing.It’s not like the guy wasn’t willing to pay, either.  It’s so fucked that we can’t just be nice to one another when it comes to stuff like this.  Health care, fire fighting, police services, these are all things that fall under the umbrella of “protecting citizens” and are therefore a government’s job.  Yet, for some of these categories and in some areas of the country, we have this obviously illogical view that these services should be paid for a la carte, by each person who needs them.People say America is a generous country?My ass.We’re not generous to ourselves, that’s for sure.  We’re a bunch of selfish assholes.  The rich are more selfish than most of us. Special thanks to underpaidgenius.com for posting a link to the video.  Check out his commentary.

Tenn. Fire Department Allows Home to Burn Down over Unpaid $75 Fee

Tenn. Fire Department Allows Home to Burn Down over Unpaid $75 Fee

From today’s Democracy Now:

In Tennessee, a local fire department refused to put out a house fire last week because the homeowner had forgotten to pay $75 for fire protection from a nearby town. The firefighters showed up to the scene of the fire and then watched as the home of Gene Cranick burned to the ground. Cranick’s neighbors had paid the $75 fee, so when the fire spread across the property line firefighters took action, but only to save the neighbor’s property. The local mayor defended the actions of the firefighters. South Fulton Mayor David Crocker said, “Anybody that’s not in the city of South Fulton, it’s a service we offer. Either they accept it or they don’t.”

Congratulations, Capitalism! You’ve cost a family their home and even their pets. YAY!!

The Free Market really IS awesome!

Why do our governments hate us?

I don’t have AIDS/HIV, but I am puzzled as to why governments on both state and federal levels seem so disinterested in resisting greed and passing laws that benefit the rich or vetoing them if they don’t.

From NYC’s housingworksbookstore:

This week Gov. Paterson vetoed a bill that would have addressed an outrageous injustice.

Thousands of poor New Yorkers with HIV/AIDS in government-subsidized housing pay up to 75 percent of their income toward rent. In some cases, this leaves New Yorkers to live on just $12 a day.

The vast majority of people in government-subsidized housing pay no more than 30 percent of their income toward rent. It’s no wonder, then, that the State Senate and Assembly voted overwhelmingly to pass a bill that would offer the same benefit to poor HIV-positive people in subsidized housing—and no wonder Paterson promised to sign it.

If passed, the bill could have helped stabilize housing for at least 10,000 struggling New Yorkers.

But the governor broke his promise. He vetoed the bill.

Join our Fight the Veto! Twitter and Facebook campaign asking state representatives to override that decision. (via Housing Works: Join Our Facebook and Twitter Campaign to Fight Paterson’s Rent Cap Veto!)

I feel like it’s useless to fight this trend. Money talks and corporate money talks LOUDLY—the Supreme Court made sure of this and there are very few individuals who can compete with the finances of mega-corporations.  Also, there seem to be no ways to become that powerful/rich without compromising your morals on some level or another (or several).

We can protest as much as we want, retweet and “Like” on Facebook as much as we want, and the powers that be can simply ignore us.  Largely like they’ve been doing for the last ten years.

Good to know: Major Corporations Are Downloading Those 100 Million Facebook Profiles off BitTorrent

thedaytheytriedtokillme:

Major Corporations Are Downloading Those 100 Million Facebook Profiles off BitTorrent

Who’s surprised? HANDS UP!

Read one reason this is bad. Another reason is this: why must corporations work so hard to make EVERY THIN DIME THEY CAN??

Yes, yes, I know “because they’re greedy” but that’s not a reason. That’s an excuse to be shitty.

Target (the French Store) boycott being called for–but where will I get my cheap-ass socks?

stephanieleroy:

Target Donates $150,000 To Fund Anti-Gay Politics.

jlamere:

feralnostalgia:

ifighttheonesthatfightme:

mohandasgandhi:

sweetupndown9:

Welp. Looks like I’m boycotting Target. 

A friend of mine posted this on Erika’s facebook. I’m really glad I saw this before I moved, so I can avoid there store when I shop for my new house stuff. 

From the article. 

Follow the money. At least, that’s the message delivered by an article at sfist.com by Matt Baume, who tracks $150,000 from Target’s coffers, through a political action committee (PAC) known as Minnesota Forward, all the way to Tom Emmer, who himself supports a Christian rock band in Minnesota that travels around the state saying that it’s moral and righteous for religious people to kill gays and lesbians.

For those into algebra, it looks a little like this: Target + Minnesota Forward + Tom Emmer = Support for a rather dangerous and radical political philosophy that diminishes LGBT people to pests that should be murdered. And Target is cool with this?

Sign the Petition demand answers for this.

Oh, HELL NO.  What the FUCK, Target?  You’re done.

seriously?  the religious right was boycotting them a few years back because they were “pro-gay” – they’ve donated to gay rights causes and AIDS charities and such in the past too…now I’m just confused.

maybe instead of trying to be picky about which amoral-by-design corporations we consume from, we ought to switch to production instead.  Swadeshi Movement style…

 I think this might have more to do with bashing the founding family of Target and Emmers competition for governor, Mark Dayton. Either way, it’s pretty ridiculous.

OK, let’s boycott Target—but then where will we shop?  Wal-Mart? K-Mart? Actually, there’s really no source for anything we buy that doesn’t eventually connect back to some sort of horrible thing.  Whether it’s hating gays or paying pennies for hours of labor or buying conflict minerals or oil from terrorist regimes, there isn’t a dollar in our bank accounts that hasn’t paid for someone’s misery somewhere in the world. 

If there was a source for every day items that sold products that are made entirely within the US with materials originated inside the US, I’d agree with a boycott.  But boycotting Target just means you’re going to add support to some other company that is just as bad in the same or different ways. 

We’re living in an era of extremist capitalism, where the shortest route to profits is the highway (or low-way) nearly every damn company takes.  

In the end, which is worse? Hating gays or not caring about human dignity at all? 

More evidence capitalism/the free market is not the way to run the world

The Friday Podcast: Death Saves You Money : NPR from July 16, 2010.  I listened to this the other day and my heart sank to hear it. Yes, humans were willing to point out that “If people die, it costs the government less.”

And some people think corporations aren’t immoral psychopaths. 

Here are more details from NPR.org:

The Friday Podcast: Death Saves You Money

06:24 pm

July 16, 2010

cigarette
Mel Evans/AP

A decade ago, Philip Morris commissioned a study that found smokers in the Czech Republic were actually saving society money.

A big part of the savings: Smoking tends to kill people while they’re still young, saving society the long-term costs of caring for them as they get older.

via npr.org

Hit up that npr.org link to listen to the entire Planet Money podcast (which sometimes comes across a bit on the amoral side, in my mind, but is still worth listening to) and learn about how the study bit Philip Morris on the ass.

Good News! We’re Polluting the Atmosphere with Plane Exhaust at Increasing Levels!

underpaidgenius:

GOOD NEWS: Global Air Traffic Surges Above Pre-Recession Levels And Is Accelerating

This idiot thinks it’s good news that air travel is increasing.

A plane flying from Australia to London, for example, will use more than 200 tonnes of jet fuel and pump out more than 500 tonnes of carbon dioxide. On a flight from London to Miami, one person will be responsible for climate change emissions equivalent to one car doing 12,000 miles. Multiply that by 350,” reports Melanie Reid, Down Under. [Sydney Herald. Sept 13/05]

(via stoweboyd)

This reminds me of one time, back in the late ’90s, when I was listening to the KNX Business Hour in Los Angeles and the host reported “Good news for Phillip Morris investors, the stock jumped today…” 

I was so caught off guard by the dichotomy of that statement, so much so that I based a screenplay around a person who’s “Batman” moment I had just experienced.  Think about the moral dissonance there: the company is doing well, which means more people are becoming addicted to cigarettes, which means more people will eventually die of lung cancer AND THAT’S GOOD NEWS!!

The reporter might as well have said:

“Good news if you’ve invested in murder, more people died thanks to your money and that means you’ve just made more!”

Amazing what capitalism can do.

Religion only wishes it could be this subtle and efficient.

Were AT&T’s overtures to current iPhone users a precursor to a Verizon iPhone?

newsweek:

“The truth is, Apple needs to get on Verizon, and fast, or it risks losing customers to Android. If Verizon gets the iPhone, I’d expect a huge exodus from AT&T. Which probably explains some of AT&T’s recent behavior. With the release of iPhone 4, AT&T made an unusual offer to current owners of iPhones, telling them that even if their contracts weren’t close to being over, they could still push up their expiration date and upgrade to the iPhone 4—as long as they signed a new two-year contract. Many people jumped on that offer, and some even viewed it as a case of AT&T being generous. Um, not likely. More likely it’s that AT&T knows its exclusive lock on iPhone is coming to an end, and so it sought to lock in as many iPhone users before the deal with Verizon happens. To those folks who waited in line for hours and hours to take advantage of AT&T’s “generous” offer, I can only offer my condolences and point out that, given AT&T’s past behavior, you should have known better.”

Lyons, on the latest Verizon iPhone rumors

Oooor they might just want to stay with a carrier (and a phone) that they can use on other SIM-based networks.  When I heard the Verizon rumor, I thought: “Do I want to switch to Verizon? And get stuck with Verizon forever? Not really…”

Just my ¥2, of course.

via life.thepete.com

Meant to post this here first, but Tumblr was tweaking on the bookmarklet. Ah well.

Personally, I’m getting sick of this contract shit. It’s just a con-game. I’m sick of letting myself become a slave to a wireless plan. Just let me pay as I go—some months I don’t need wireless, some months I do. We’re all being taken advantage of by a bunch of white guys in suits.

Why do we put up with this crap? It’s like we’re only worthy of experiencing innovation if we’re rich enough.  I’m fine with paying for things, but it seems to me that the profit margin is so crazy high. I get that they should make money, don’t get me wrong.  The thing is, the whole system could be a lot more fair than it is.  The big communication companies could be making a less money per person from way more people if they’d give people more the freedom to choose who they want to be with.  I want to ask each big telecom one question: Do you want the industry to be healthy? Or just YOU?

And they can’t answer “just me” since that is anti-American, anti-competition and flies in the face of basic concepts that we built our economy on (that competition fuels innovation).  If anything tells us that innovation isn’t being fueled, it’s Apple’s mobile industry business plan.

Let’s release a phone with 10x the design of most other phones, but with 1/5th the features.  The phone is capable of doing the same things [as hackers have proven] but we’ll make sure the software won’t allow it.  This way, we can offer a better phone a year later that will cost us next to nothing to develop but we’ll get rich giving people what pure innovation would have allowed us to give them in the first place.

Aka: release a hobbled phone, then partially unhobble it and pretend it’s a whole new product, then repeat!

It took four iterations of the iPhone for Apple to actually give us something we can’t get anywhere else—their new retina display thingy.  Of course, the iPhone 4 is NOT a 4G phone.  So, it’s still a hobbled phone. Where can you get a 4G phone? Sprint—or any number of countries that aren’t in America.

OK, I could keep this rant going for a while, so I’ll just stop it there on the assumption you get my point.

How many ways are there to spend money? Milton Friedman said 4. I say he’s wronging over with wrongability!

rainbowhill:

“There are four ways in which you can spend money. You can spend your own money on yourself. When you do that, why then you really watch out what you’re doing, and you try to get the most for your money. Then you can spend your own money on somebody else. For example, I buy a birthday present for someone. Well, then I’m not so careful about the content of the present, but I’m very careful about the cost. Then, I can spend somebody else’s money on myself. And if I spend somebody else’s money on myself, then I’m sure going to have a good lunch! Finally, I can spend somebody else’s money on somebody else. And if I spend somebody else’s money on somebody else, I’m not concerned about how much it is, and I’m not concerned about what I get.”

Milton Friedman (Free to choose) (via efficiency) (via thusspokezarathustra) (via ilgobbomalefico) (via rispostesenzadomanda)

Wrong, wrong and wrong (and wrong and wrong) Anyone who trusts anyone with some sort of universal rules for or of money is asking for trouble.

1) There are plenty of ways to spend money.  What about spending money donated to you? What about spending money given to you?  What about spending money inherited by you?  All of these aspects can have very significant social ramifications and can effect how you (or at least I) decide to spend said money.

2) When I spend money on myself I don’t think in terms of “really watching out what I’m doing” nor do I think in terms of “getting the most for my money.” I weigh what I need against what I want against what I need to spend my money on. Sometimes I waste money for fun, sometimes I buy only useful things.  Deciding how everyone uses their own money is a mistake because I’ll prove you wrong, because I don’t think about money like that.

3) When I spend my money on friends or family, say, for a birthday present, I usually make something for them, buy something I *know* they’ll like or want, or I just give them a gift card—in short, I give them something I’ve thought about. I do care about the content and depending on how much money I have to spend, I generally don’t care for the cost.

4) When I spend someone else’s money on myself I am more responsible than I am with my own money. Someone else shows trust in my decision making ability—I’m going to earn that trust by choosing how I spend that money well.

5) When I spend someone else’s money on someone else, then I treat it the same way as if I’m spending on myself.  With respect and I try to make the best purchase, weighing value, against usefulness, against need.

Milton Friedman is widely regarded as a master of economy.  Have a look around at the economies of the developed world—still think he’s someone to trust?

Of course, that’s just my ¥2—I’m no economist and that means I might be wrong, too.

The important thing is that you think for yourself—challenge everything.  Don’t believe anyone wholesale.