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Body Hacking – While Being a Road Warrior

Body Hacking – While Being a Road Warrior

I recently read Road Warriors – Healthy Tips for Staying ‘On Plan’ by Steve Katasi and thought it was really good. We have developed a lot of the same strategies. I wanted to point people towards it and add a few additions:

  • 1.1: Snacks: there are a TON of good options for protein bars, and powders. Also, many gas stations have Muscle Milk or other protein drinks. Just pay attention to nutrition labels. A lot of them are more junk than food. Remember macros, macros, macros.
  • 2.2: Make Hotel Gym a Must Have Criteria: Calisthenics can be done at any gym. There are progressive overload techniques for calisthenics, so for a day or two trip, this can work.
  • 2.3: Better Still – Access to Commercial Gym: I would go a step further than Steve does. Not only are external gyms better equipped, they can be destinations in and of themselves. I love working out in other countries. Japan, Belgium, and Czech Republic have all been extremely interesting – each country has it’s own gym culture. Also, many major cities have amazing old school gyms. In Dallas once, I went to Doug’s Gym (see picture) – it was an old gym opened in the 70s after the owner won the lottery. It reminded me of Rocky I. Find an awesome gym, it’s totally motivational.
  • 2.4: Lower Workout Expectations: I don’t completely agree on this one. Generally, I find having a keel to your workout programming helps keep you on track. For me, that is Wendler 5/3/1. I also have days for conditioning, Yoga, running, and other accessory work. I prefer to program the flexibility into my routine. Then, when traveling it makes it easier to stay on the program. Even a 20-30 minute run mixed in can help, bu that’s part of my program. I don’t recommend lowering your expectation, I recommend having harder and lighter days. Count the travel days as lighter days in the program.
  • 5.4 Avoid Crappy Sandwiches: I COMPLETELY disagree with this point. Food is Protein, Carbohydrates, and Fat. While, I can absolutely feel it when I eat high glycemic index foods (I can feel the hunger strike harder), this is nothing more than an optimization. Also, when you eat a sandwich, just drink a protein shake, and maybe a high fiber bar (there are plenty). As long as you mix a high protein source and some fiber (which is a carb), you will feel fine and be totally fine. Also, there is NO evidence that Gluten is universally inflammatory. In fact, it’s recommended that you should eat gluten, unless you are sensitive to it. Read more here and here.
  • 5.4: Good Protein – Rich Breakfast: Again, a mix of science and fact. I absolutely agree that breakfast is the meal to get things going in the right direction and in fact, it’s the best one to start with a strong protein macro count. That said, there is NO factual evidence that skipping it matters for calorie control. That is a myth. In fact, the latest science basically says that meal timing is irrelevant. Three medium sized meals, five, small meals, 47 tiny snacks. It all works. See more here and here.

My few disagreements aside, I think his article has some really great tips and tricks…. Good luck, and keep hacking…

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Netflix – Technology Wizards or Good Content?

I love the content they produce like Orange is the New Black, Narcos, Stranger Things, and House of Cards. But, remember back to before Netflix produced this content? They were struggling with subscribers, under attack from cable companies, and their future looked very, very uncertain. So, how did they turn the ship around?

They started producing their own content. And, let’s be clear – software engineering at Netflix did not make that decision. This is a quintessential “business decision.” This was a decision to create value for their market – people who watch content through the Internet. They were a content distributor and they decided to enter an adjacent market – content creation.

Yet, time and time again Netflix is referenced as some kind of technology wizards, contributing the OSS Stack, moving to the cloud for almost everything, hiring only the best and the brightest.

They are held in high regard for “disrupting” the cable industry – but, for the wrong reasons. It’s not their technology that is their differentiated value proposition to the market. It is their cunning move to create content akin to HBO. At the same time, this places them in a stronger position to negotiate better contracts for their distribution business.

I would argue that they have succeeded, not because of their technology, but despite it. Their end user experience is rather lacking, yet they keep attracting and retaining subscribers. Here’s a few examples.

1. They finally, just recently added the ability to download movies and watch them offline. Even now, not all content can be downloaded, even some they produced, which makes no sense to me. Google Play and Amazon Prime have had this since almost the beginning of their service, yet nobody hails them as some great innovators.

2. It takes forever when you rewind or fast-forward. Again, Google Play and Amazon Prime both have smoother, better experiences.

3. Subtitles get blocked when the video is paused. Something thst is just really annoying when the reason that you paused it is so that you can read it slower.

So, the next time you hear somebody call Netflix a technology company, just quote their own CEO:

We spend money more like a media company than a tech company

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Wisdom in Primates – The Four Branches

Wisdom in Primates – The Four Branches

Have you ever looked over at someone and seen them doing some fairly impressive physical or mental feat? You might day to yourself, wow, I don’t know if I can do that?

The other day, I was taking a yoga class, and I noticed a new student next to me bending all the way down until her elbows were touching the ground. I thought to myself, she doesn’t seem to have a lot of experience doing yoga. In fact, she seemed somewhat uncoordinated. I was kind of impressed. I thought to myself, ahh to be young again.

When you’re young, you just “do” stuff. You are either able to do it or you’re not, but you have the urge to try it. Let’s do backflips off the 20ft bridge into the water below. Let’s ride 50 miles. Let’s hike 20 miles. No problem, when you’re young, life just kinda happens.

As you age, you might become more sophisticated in your analysis. When you see something cool that you want to try, you might come to any of the following conclusions:

  1. I have never been able to do that and will most likely never be able to do it in the future either.
  2. I used to be able to that when I was younger, but I can’t do that anymore. I will probably never be able to do it that again.
  3. I used to be able to do that when I was younger, but I can’t do that anymore. I might be able to do that again, if I focus, and move like a plant.
  4. I can do that now and execute it like a tiger.

So, the next time you see somebody doing something cool and you kinda want to try it, put it in one of the four branches. Move like a plant, or move like a tiger, but may you never confuse the two. Bring clarity to your mind and consciously choose the path of the plant or the tiger. Pluck the strawberry and eat it…

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A Reflection on Travel and Learning in 2016

A Reflection on Travel and Learning in 2016

From a travel and learning perspective, this was one of the best years of my life. I did a ton of travel which I never dreamed would have been possible.  I have always loved cities and I continue to love exploring them, but this year, I started to get out into nature more. I hiked a ton and snowboarded in Japan, Quebec City, and Colorado. I tried to study the flags and currency for every country I visited. I tried to study the people that are on their currency because it represents a country’s collective identity.

I went to Asia three times, Europe three times, and Canada twice, as well as San Francisco, New Orleans, Boston, New York, and a smattering of other trips. Adding up everything I flew about 90,000 real miles, though United says I flew 109,000 because of bonuses which made me Platinum for 2017 – I think it’s fun to have made that level once. I added seven new countries to my list and seven more flag stickers to my bag.

I have been tremendously lucky and I am very thankful for everything I was able to do, but from the picture of my bag, you can see how banged up it’s gotten – I am also a little banged up and I look forward to spending a little more time at home in 2017. I never thought I would understand why my friend James Labocki once said he didn’t really want to make Platinum again, but now I think I do. I am aiming for about 50,000 miles in 2017, I think that would be perfect 😉

I met a lot of people this year and I want to let every one of you know, that I really appreciated the time we spent together. I look forward to spending time together again and again. Next year the travel starts in Brussels and Brno in late January and early February. Here’s to another good year and I wish everybody safe travels!

The first major trip of the year took Lisa and I to Japan. We spent time in the following cities:

  1. Tokyo: We started and ended the trip here and the hotel was literally just like the movie Lost in Translation with Bill Murray. It was hilarious because I had just watched the movie on the plane ride. I burned a TON of miles and we stayed at the Ritz Carleton in Roppongi. It was simply amazing, we could see Mt. Fuji from our window. I had a Scotch in the bar and listened to a live Jazz band (like Lost in Translation). The days after New Years were amazing. Everybody was dressed in traditional garb and it was very tranquil and quiet. We saw so many parts of the city and really loved it. This was both of our first time to Asia, and I think starting with Japan was perfect. Also, a special thanks to Akira who very generously showed us around in Yokohama and found us vegetarian Ramen!!!
  2. Nagano: We took the train here, and the area is like from the movie Heaven and Earth. We got to see the Snow Monkeys and this was probably one of the coolest things I have ever done in my entire life. Here in Nagano, I learned how it felt to be a minority and definitely treated with some bigotry. Most of the hotels in the little town where we stayed wouldn’t even give foreigners reservations. We had to wear Yukatas and Geta the whole time and were scolded whenever we did anything wrong. It doesn’t matter, it was amazing because we got to experience so many hot springs called Onsen.
  3. Kyoto/Nara: This area is so tranquil and so old. Only after I visited did I learn that the United States was actually going to drop the first nuclear bomb here to kill as many intellectuals as they could and destroy as much heritage as they could. Many of the generals felt this was the surest way to stop the Japanese. The only reason that Kyota/Nara didn’t get destroyed is because the Secretary of War, Henry Stimson. Many say he did it because he visited here on his honeymoon and just couldn’t stand to see it destroyed.
  4. Osaka: This was a very business oriented area. It was hilarious because everybody wore blue, grey and black suits (even the women). I remember one day thousands of people in drab suits were all walking the same direction – it was pretty grey out and kind of depressing – then bopping along comes this 50 or 60 year old Japanese dude in a bright green shirt with dread locks walking the opposite direction cutting through everyone. It was amazing and so Japanese.
  5. Hiroshima: This was one of the heaviest things I have ever done. Visiting Hiroshima made me realize why we never, ever want to use a nuclear weapon again. I read so, so many tragic stories at the museum, but the saddest was outside the museum at one of the monuments. It was about the 20,000 Korean slaves that were killed by The Bomb. These people had been mostly farmers, many of their families were killed, and they were taken as slaves. They were brought across to Japan in boats and forced to work in the factories in Hiroshima. On that day, they were killed just like everyone else. What a horrible, horrible tragedy.

The second major trip of the year took me on the following string of cities:

  1. Cleveland to Boston to meet up with some of our specialist solutions architects and field product managers about the direction of containers at Red Hat.
  2. Boston to New York for a Red Hat event with the Financial Services. The event went great and I got to spend some time with some really good customers and colleagues.
  3. New York to Toronto to do a Red Hat Enterprise User Group with my good friend Michael Lessard
  4. Toronto to Montreal to do another Red Hat Enterprise User Group. I love Montreal, but it was a whirlwind of only hours, but I did get to take the train which I had never done before.
  5. Montreal to Quebec City to do ANOTHER Red Hat Enterprise User Group, then some well needed snowboarding at Mount Saint-Anne and Le Massif. I had never been to Quebec City and I really found it to be one of my favorite cities in North America. It reminds me of home with the same types of trees, stone and weather, but it’s like bizarro world with this French feel. Also, one night when I was walking on the boardwalk (called the Terrasse Dufferin) by the Chateau Frontnac, I heard this crazy loud noise that sounded like a cannon. I got so scared, I just started sprinting for cover. I never did find out what that sound was, but I ran like crazy. With all of the strange terrorism stuff in recent years, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
  6. Quebec City to Cleveland to come home for some rest 🙂

In early March I was able to arrange a quick little trip through three countries. Coincidentally my friend Sasha was going to be moving from Thailand to Vietnam the exact dates I needed to be in Singapore for our APAC Sales Kickoff. This meant I could easily meet him in Thailand before my work event and in Vietnam afterwards. Here’s how it went:

  1. Thailand: I started in Bangkok and took a cab down to Pattaya the night I arrived. I had never been to Thailand and I admit I was a little scared. My cab driver pulled over in the middle of the highway and peed on the side of the rode. This is when I knew Asia was punk rock. I made it to Pattaya without any problems and had a great time with Sasha. We even got to see an Israeli and a Muslim get almost get into a fight at a McDonald’s. Sasha talked them out of it by highlighting that this would probably led to Thai prison which is not renowned for their luxury. Good times. I hiked up to the Big Budah and met a crazy Russian couple – after taking some pictures for them, the guy who was in his mid 50s asked where I was from. I responded, the USA. He responded with a grunt of enlightenment, “uuhhhhhhhh, Obmana bad….Putin good…” then gave me a thumbs up. I laughed, what else can you do. The next day, I rented a scooter from one of the guys at the hotel. I had never ridden a motorized two wheel vehicle ever in my life, and did not have a license, but figured, why not? After almost killing myself a few times, I figured it out and rode all over the place. I felt like I was 16 again and had my first set of wheels. It was awesome and that summer I ended up buying a motorcycle and taking a class on how to ride 🙂
  2. Singapore: After a couple of days, I flew to Singapore for the Red Hat Asia Pacific (APAC) Sales Kick off.  It was held at the Marina Bay Sands which is a hotel that I had only ever thought I would see on TV. It is an amazing structure with three buildings connected together. The event was awesome and it was a like some kind of United Nations conference and there was a bunch of lit up boxes stage right with translators speaking into microphones keyed into people’s ear pieces. In the break out sessions where I spoke, I learned made the typical newbe mistake and spoke way too quickly. You live and you learn but the experience was really cool.
  3. Vietnam: After I was finished with the conference, I headed to Vietnam. It was interesting entering the country. This is the first time I had had to apply for a Visa ahead of time. It was super simple, I showed them my paper and I was on my way. Had some good times. Went up the river on a boat, explored the Chu Chi Tunnels, fired a machine gun, and drank Ba Ba Ba beer (333). I saw a Communist Museum directly across the street from a Maserati dealership. Really makes you wonder what the point of the war was. Crazy trip considering my dad and uncle were there for a war. I really felt like I learned something very deep and peaceful by visiting there.


In August, I left for a major trip which took me around the world for the first time in my life. I went East because of the way events lined up, and I discovered this is more expensive and difficult than going West. This trip was really, really cool and took me through a lot of countries. I think I have to say, New Zealand holds a special place in the rank, but here are the highlights:

  1. Brussels: I arrived at BRU at like 7:30 in the morning and the sales manager, Stef Schampaert picked me up and little did I know, he had back to back meetings planned for me all day (that crazy, crazy man, lol). I barely had enough time to get a 2 minute shower, throw some dress clothes on and we were off. I remember the last meeting because there were like 45 customers in a room. I was blown away that they got this many people together for essentially what we would call a Red Hat User Group in the US. Also, had one of the best meals of the year. Thank you Stef & Bob and hope to see both of you again in 2017!!!
  2. Amsterdam: Now this was a cool trip. I met with a bunch of customers, had some time to hang out with my friend and colleague Eric Schabell, and had the privilege of speaking at the an event called Software Circus. The Software Circus people put on an amazing speakers event where we had a scavenger hunt that included finding a guitar player, and artist, and a man who restores old sailing ships. I learned that Henry Hudson was killed by his own crew in Hudson bay. The night concluded with rigging up a replica of Henry Hudson’s ship the Discovery and sailing it off the coast of Hoorn. Little did I know at the time that I would actually fly over Hudson Bay in a Helicopter later in the year. It…was…amazing.
  3. Ho Chi Minh City aka Saigon: This was my second tour in Vietnam and I was glad to be back. I met Andrew Hatfield, who I have stayed friends with (crazy guy). I had a great time presenting six talks at the APAC Tech Exchange and really enjoyed exploring some live music and dancing afterwards. Great time.
  4. Hanoi: On this visit to Vietnam, I had the pleasure of meeting a man named Alan from Vietnam Motorbike Tours and arranging a two day thrashing in the jungle. He assigned me to an awesome guide named Tom and we rode like crazy. Up, down, through mud, across bamboo bridges, through rain, through small towns. It was as close to perfect as you can ask for. I hope to some day go back and if you are thinking about some motorbike trips, go talk to Alan, he is awesome!
  5. Sydney: I had never been to Australia, and I was lucky enough to rent a GS800 motorcycle to get around. First, I rode down to the Maritime museum and explored the HMB Endeavor which successfully noted the Transit of Venus from Tahiti in 1769 and discovered Australia. Coincidentally, they also successfully noted the Transit of Venus up in Churchill, but I wouldn’t know or understand that until later in the year. I was lucky enough to get out into the Blue Mountains – I did a little bit of hiking and got to see Kangaroos, Koalas, and some really cool small towns. I learned what a Ute was and I also learned that Australia is the most Murica place other than Murica!!!
  6. New Zealand: Ahh, the best for last. This place was amazing. I have never seen a place that is so scenic. It’s like a mix between Colorado and Switzerland, but on an island with 20M rabbits, and crazy glaciers and green lakes. The people, the land, the food, the seclusion. I will definitely go back to NZ. Too mickey bro.

This was a pretty serious adventure. I went through Germany, Czech Republic, Austria, and back to Germany in about 10 days. I hiked at two parks during the weekend and drove all the way across Austria from Vienna to Salzburg. I covered a ton of ground, but I really got to know the countryside which was awesome.

  1. Berlin: I started here for ContainerCon Europe 2016 and it was really fun. I gave three talks and had a great time with a bunch of Red Hat peeps. We visited the Brandenburg Gate, the Berlin Wall and walked a ton. Eerily, because my hotel was pretty far from the event, every day I walked through where the attacker killed people during the Christmas market. Seeing pictures of the clock tower really messes with me. I feel bad for all of the victims and their families.
  2. Dresden: When I was in New Zealand, I picked up my first hitchhiker, who coincidentally happened to be from…you guessed it, Dresden. We decided to try and meet up when I was driving through after the ContainerCon. I really wanted to visit Dresden after visiting Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima. Dresden was also bombed very, very badly killing more people than Hiroshima. I visited the war museum and it was surprising because there really wasn’t more about the bombing. Mostly it talked about how Nazi Germany bombed other places. I never met up with my hitchhiker friend, but I am glad I visited Dresden because it provided the opportunity for me to get a cooler SuperDry Jacket than Dirk Herrmann 😉
  3. Saxon Switzerland National Park: This is an awesome park system that is south of Dresden on the border between Germany and the Czech Republic. The German side is called Saxon Switzerland, while the Czech side is called Bohemian Switzerland. The area where I went was called Bastei and it reminded me of a lot of The Gorge Metropark. It was on the Elba River and the views were simply amazing.
  4. Bohemian Switzerland National Park:  The Czech people really know how to build a park. At the top of a ten mile hike up a quasi mountain, they built an inn by the Pravčická brána. Cable cars take food and drink up to the Inn. The upstairs is now an art gallery and they serve wonderful fried cheese and french fries (Czech delicacy) along with beer. As I was hiking up this fairly remote trail, I kept thinking, there is NO WAY there is a restaurant up here. When I got to the top, I was starving, so I am so glad there was. The views were amazing, and this is something that you could only find by mistake. It is awesome!
  5. Prague: I stayed the night in Prague and walked around a ton at night. I got to see the Astronomical Clock ring on the hour. I stayed at the beautiful Boscolo Hotel. In the morning, I drove down to the Charles Bridge (1357) and hiked across before leaving for a meeting in Brno. The view was amazing.
  6. Brno: Red Hat has an office here, but I had never visited before. It turned out to be awesome.I had a meeting with like 20 or 30 engineers to explain to them what was going on with containers and what my team does.  I got to hang out with Radek, Adam, Josef, and Vaclav. Adam and I joked about stealing a cop car the entire night and there was much merriment. Looking forward to seeing all of you again in 2017.
  7. Vienna: After driving across the border into Austria, I arrived in Vienna. This was a special place for me because my mom was born here. I only spent a couple of hours here, but it was gorgeous. I called my mom while I was in the square and took a ton of pictures for her. I definitely plan on going back with her soon.
  8. Salzburg: I only spent a couple hours here because it was dark. I drank a beer, had some McDonald’s (because that was all that was open) and took some pictures. I definitely need to come back during business hours.
  9. Munich: At the end of the trip, I got to spend some time at the Red Hat European headquarters and meet with some customers. It was really cool to be able to hang out with Dirk Herrmann in the office and show off my new SuperDry Japan jacket which is a slightly better color than his 😛 Also, had a great dinner and lived mostly on Bavarian Pretzels.

This was my last European trip of the year and I was really only home from Munich a week before I left for this trip. I would have stayed in Europe the whole Month of October, but I really needed to recharge.

  1. Marseille: This was my second time visiting Marseille, and I walked a ton this time. I walked 10 miles the first night I was there. I found the hotel where Zig and I stayed in 2015 and took a ride on the giant ferris wheel that was set up downtown. I was a little sick, so I slept a decent amount. The work commute” to meet with the customers was awesome and took me on the Route des Cretes.
  2. Cassis: I stopped in Cassis because my sister said her neighbors love it. The view of Cassis after coming through the Route des Crete is breath taking. There is this huge cliff and the sea right in front. I really would consider retiring there. It’s like something from a movie.
  3. La Ciotat: This town is past Cassis, but was also really cool. The Red Hat customer I visited was here and I had a chance to walk around the downtown a bit. It’s sort of an industrial town with a lot of fishing and recreational boats docked in the port, but the view is amazing. To work and live in La Ciotat would be amazing.
  4. Barcelona:  After the customer meetings in La Ciotat, I decided to drive along the Mediterranean to Barcelona. A couple memorable things were, they sold olive oil at the rest stop as you arrived in Spain. I laughed and thought about Mike Panetta. Once in Barcelona we had a great time at OpenStack Summit. I gave a couple of talks, manned the booth and met with a couple of customers. I had a weekly one on one through a video conference while I sat at the beach and had some Cava at the end of the day. At night we ate, and even went dancing one night. At the end of the trip, I went with Brian Riordan, Ian Pilcher, and Tushar to see Montserrat. The weather was amazing that day and we got some really good shots. I remember spending a lot of time with Brian and Tushar that week and thinking to myself, we did not bicker even one time. For those that travel and spend days with people, you will know that it’s awesome when you meet people like that. Good times!

The final major trip of the year was not arranged by me, but by Mel Vye who is basically me in 30 more years. I traveled with Mel Vye, Thom Price, and Bruce Taylor. We were a four man crew, and even though I snored a lot, we were tight! Here are the highlights

  1. Winnipeg: This town reminded me of Grand Rapids, MI or Columbus, OH. It’s about a 700,000 people, but it’s in the middle of nowhere so it has to be the banking, cultural, sports, etc center for thousands of square miles around it. This city had a really cool vibe and the region was originally called, The Forks. I found out that it was a mix of French settlers, Metis which are a mix of French and Cree tribal people, and finally British. The French and British each built several forts and the city still has a French Quarter and French Schools, but everybody speaks English.
  2. Churchill: This town of less than 1000 people is literally in the middle of nowhere. At the time we visited, there was not a single road that led to Churchill. The closest town is 300 miles away through forest and swamps (mostly frozen in the winter). Churchill was originally  military base used by the United States and Canada, but is now a tourist destination for Polar Bears and Beluga Whales. I got a book on the history of the human/wildlife relationship in Churchill and found out that in 1958, the British almost tested 12 nuclear bombs in Churchill, which would have killed the polar bears. Instead, they did it in Maralinga (Australia) and probably killed Aboriginal people. Coincidentally, I had heard an article about this while I was in Australia – what a small world.
  3. The highlights of the trip were pretty amazing. During my first flight in a helicopter (fell in love with rotary winged flight) we saw a male polar bear eating a cub, I saw a white guy get a beer bottle busted over his head by an Inuit dude during a bar fight at the Tundra Pub, and on the way back a girl almost got kicked off the train for being naked in coach car. We took a ride on the Tundra Buggy, saw the crashed plane called the Miss Piggy and the grounded ship, the SS Ithaka. This trip was super legit, everyone we met on the train was really cool and almost all the people we met were experienced travelers.
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Are the Rich Really Getting Richer while the Poor Get Poorer?

Are the Rich Really Getting Richer while the Poor Get Poorer?

Dr. Steve Horowitz says “No. This is just a myth.” Here’s his explanation.

It grates me when one behaves as if he or she is clearing something up but he or she doesn’t make the distinctions required to indicate just what it is that needs to be cleared up in the first place. Statements like “the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer” are ambiguous, but not necessarily myths. In the context of argumentation, a myth is a statement that is a generalization that is untrue or lacks a sufficient basis to be treated as true, but is treated as true nonetheless. An ambiguous statement, on the other hand, could mean a number of possible things. For instance, “the rich are getting richer…” can mean:

A) The rich make more money now than they did in the past, while the poor make less.

B) Real income of the rich has risen over time while real income of the poor has dropped over time.

C) The purchasing power of the rich has grown over time while the purchasing power of the poor has declined over time.

D) The real income ratio between top earners and bottom earners has grown larger over time.

It’s not necessary that all of these are claimed when one says “the rich are getting richer…,” and not all of these are myths. Indeed, right at the beginning Dr. Horwitz noted that (D) is true. If all one means by “the rich are getting richer…” is (D), then it’s not a myth, pure and simple.

But what about (A-C)? Let’s reflect on these claims a bit (we don’t need hard data for this, per se, but we can discuss those in the comments, if necessary).

The point of Dr. Horwitz’s argument was to show that these are untrue. It’s obvious that (A) is untrue. The poor have a larger dollar amount listed on their paychecks now than they did in the distant past; but this is largely uninteresting, since what’s important is not merely how much money one has (i.e. it’s largely worthless by itself), but its value as a means of exchange for goods and services. That is, what’s most important is the purchasing power that money provides. With greater purchasing power comes greater ability to relieve oneself from dire conditions. (C) is the interesting claim, but unfortunately, Horwitz focused only on (B).

Is (B) untrue? Well it depends on whether we’re talking about households or individuals. Horwitz’s argument essentially boils down to this: 1) real income has risen for everyone over time and 2) most of those who start off poor end up rich, therefore 3) the the poor are getting richer. If we’re talking about real household income, the argument is unproblematic. But the number of single income households has declined drastically since the 70’s. Adding another income stream to a household (which also happens when people get married) will increase real income for that household, even if real individual income remain stagnant, which is precisely what has happened over the last forty years. In other words, households have a higher real income, but it has also required more hours worked per household.

But what is omitted from the presentation is the most telling. Purchasing power is dependent not only on how much one earns, but also on the cost of goods and services. While some goods have come down in real price over the past forty years (e.g. computers, and certain foods), others have risen quite rapidly (e.g. housing, education, gas & electricity), leading to an overall higher real cost of living. On top of that, credit was introduced as a means of enabling those whose wages plateaued to have at least the sense that their purchasing power was growing. We all know how that turned out, though. The real cost of goods & services purchased with credit went through the roof after compounding interest paid on those goods & services. What’s the result? At best, the working class has endured purchasing power stagnancy; at worst, they’ve suffered a decline. On the other hand, rich households (i.e. households who own large shares of a company or companies) made far more money as a result of stagnant working class real wages (less or stagnant wages = less overhead = greater profit) and investment in the booming credit/financial industry. (C) is pretty much true.

So if one means (A) or (B unqualified) when one says “the rich are getting richer…,” then, yes, it’s a myth. But if one means to claim something like (D), (C) or (B – with the proper qualifications), it’s not nearly as easily dismiss-able .

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