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11,799 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Joe Dominguez wrote a book called Your Money or Your Life. This is one of the more influential books I have read. Later in life, he wrote an essay that summarized much of that book.


"We have met the enemy and he [or she] is us."

by Joe Dominguez

While no one was paying much attention, economics replaced religion as
the touchstone of human life. Like religion, economics has priests and rituals.
The purpose of these priests and rituals is to interpret the meaning of
events while keeping the people in confusion. Any effort on the part of
the masses to connect directly with the realities behind the rituals is
considered a sacrilege.

There is supply-side economics, Keynesian economics, invisible-hand market
economics - but none of these deal with the real driving force behind
economics. The following simple explanations will put you in direct
contact with this essential driving force.


ECOLOGY: The mutual relations between organisms and their environment.

ECONOMICS: The mutual relations between human organisms and their
The Dismal Science that investigates the conditions and laws affecting the
production, distribution and consumption of resources. The
material means of satisfying human desires. Since humans appear to be insatiable,
that last definition is obviously an oxymoron; therefore, antonym:

EARTH: Our home planet, mother, source of all sustenance, resource
base, host, life support system, teat.

RESOURCE: Everything in, on, or above Earth that we can consume,
use up, destroy, annihilate, violate or deprive others of. We accomplish
all this with the use of money (see below).

CONSUME: Use up, devour, destroy, waste, squander.

CONSUMER: One who uses up, devours, destroys, wastes, squanders.

DEMAND: To claim as just or due. In economics, the desire to consume,
combined with the ability to ignore one's conscience.

ENVIRONMENT: That which results from the consumption of

EMPLOYMENT: Activity by which one exchanges one's human resource
(life-energy) for money. A vital step in the conversion of a resource
into environment. Also, contemporary man's (and increasingly,
woman's) primary purpose for existence and primary means of identification
- e.g., "I am a _____" (lawyer, plumber... etc.).

MONEY: That which we spend one-third of our adult lifetimes acquiring,
one-third disposing of, one-third recovering from the acquisition and disposal
of, and the rest of the time bemoaning the lack of. Money is a lien
on Earth's resources.

DEBT: In ancient theology, a sin or trespass. In modern sociology, a
euphemism for incarceration, as in "He paid his debt to society."
In the social practices resulting from the contemporary theology of
a highly respected way to repay your children for the suffering they have
caused you. A device for keeping people trapped in employment, thus
creating more environment.

SAVINGS: The result of a practice, now obsolete, whereby money
(or resources) was set aside to provide for when employment was
not available or advisable, due to its deleterious effect on the consumer
or on the Earth. Antonym: debt.

ENOUGH: A condition apparently experienced only by lower animals, plants,
galaxies and primitive hominids of the Pre-Industrial Revolution era (the
latter were said to have enough after spending only a few hours per
day acquiring resources).

VALUE: (n) Monetary or material worth; cost, expense; (v)
to prize, esteem.

VALUES: What we profess to be truly important guiding principles in our

INTEGRITY: The state of being complete, undivided; unity, concord, harmony;
congruity; wholeness, completeness; alignment between values and

POGONOMICS: "We have met the enemy and he is us."

ECO-ECONOMICS: The interactions of all of the above.


Our employment greatly depends upon converting some aspect of
Earth into resources. This is obvious in farming, logging,
mining, cocaine- and cigarette-making, and tract house and shopping center
developments. Since most of those resources are not really needed,
many other forms of employment exist whose sole purpose is to convince
people that consuming resources is a way toward greater happiness:
e.g., employment in advertising, sales, higher education, television.
Then there are the employments that deal with the results of the
previous two forms, among them being psychiatrists, hernia specialists,
divorce lawyers, day-care operators, police officers and morticians. Another
interesting observation: The term of conscription for killing each other
with permission is generally two to four years; for killing each other without
permission it is generally 20 years; for employment it is generally
45 years.

All these employments are for the purpose of acquiring money.
A common cultural taboo insists on using circumspect language to obscure
this simple fact. One does not say "I'm acquiring money"
but instead says, "I'm Making a Living" - though it is obvious
that the individual speaking returns home from employment much less
alive than when he or she left! Also, one would never ask "How much
money do you acquire?", but rather, "What do you do?"
(In certain sub-cultural groupings one might, however, ask "Are you
Following Your Bliss?" or, "Have you found your Right

The purpose of money is to consume resources. Any time
that you spend money, you are consuming resources. Since you
have traded a piece of your life to get that money (through your
employment), you are also consuming your own resource (your
life-energy) when you spend money. The new resource you bought
with the money now belongs to you - it is not available to others.
It is now your right to use it up, to prevent others from getting it, to
hide it from other people in your closet, to make other people feel bad
because they don't have it.

When you want to consume more resources than you can get
with the money you got by selling your own resource (your
life energy) through your employment, you can sell your future and
your children's future. This is called "trading futures," or debt.
You have to use up even more resources when you are consuming
via debt - the extra amount being called, interestingly enough,
"interest on consumer debt." This is a very efficient way
to "use up, devour, destroy, waste and squander."

While you are in employment, acquiring money and debt,
and consuming, you are creating the environment. All along
the way, from when that resource was taken from the Earth to
the time you have consumed as much of it as you want and then thrown
it "away," it has been creating environment. The mining
equipment that got to the resource had to create environment by
removing trees and topsoil that were in the way, had to burn (consume)
fuels that created a different recipe for the air environment, had
to run a lot of water to take the used-up chemicals into the river
Then the resource had to be transported to the refiner, creating
a lot of environment along the way, and the refiner created more
environment, and then the manufacturer created still more environment,
and then the shipper had to create lots more environment to package
the resource so that it would appeal to the consumer, who
would pay the money that it cost for all that environment (and
employment and resource). The consumer often uses the
new resource to create more environment as well, and then
throws it "away" - creating even more environment.


"We have met the enemy and he is us."

- Pogo

If the environment is not to our liking, it is because of our
employment, our consumption, our debt, our focus on
money. It is us - as individuals - who are the enemy.

It is not due to the "Military-Industrial Complex."

Or "The Federal Budget."

Or "Defense Spending."


Or the Logging Industry.

It is not even due to McDonald's!

It is due only to our individual consumption.


Prostitution would be the world's loneliest profession without demand.

The Medellin Cartel would be a 4-H club without demand.

Loggers would be owlophiles without demand.

OPEC would be a Solar Energy and Desalinization Consortium without our

Japan would be a leader in Third World sustainable development if not
for our demand ... for sushi, Toshibas, Suzooks, CDs, VCRs, TVs,
HDs, RAM, CVCCs...

What sort of demand?

Bigger house. Remodelled kitchen. Full employment. Boat. Mountain Bike.
Second car. Vacation cabin. Job security. Motor home. Four wheeler. Satellite
dish. Microwave. Laptop. Riding mower. Silk blouse. Bigger paycheck. Second

Why this demand?

Because we have come to believe, or act as if we believe, that:

More Is Better
We Must Raise Our Standard of Living
Quality of Life Is Measured by Income
Abundance and Prosperity Are Material Birthrights
Whoever Dies with The Most Toys Wins
We Should Shop Till We Drop
We Deserve It
It's The American Way
We Are Our Jobs
Success Is a Many-Spended Thing
We Can Serve Two Masters - God and Mammon

The Ecology of Values and Value

What do we value? Do we value our lives? What value
do we put on our lives? Do we value life? Do we value the
host of life - Earth? (Organisms that survive "know" that
the health of their host eco-system is vital to their survival; apparently
this "knowledge" has escaped cancer cells, humans, and other parasites.)
Do we value breathable air? Drinkable water? Fertile topsoil? Healthy
children? Functioning families? Time to love?

What are your personal values?

When our actions are in alignment with our values, we experience
wholeness - integrity.

Money is not only a lien on a physical resource, it is
also a lien on our personal resource: we sold X number of hours of
our life to acquire Y dollars. Since money is unique to the human
species, we can even say that money = human life- energy!

How we spend our life-energy and how we spend money are direct
measurements of the degree of alignment between our actions and our

When we spend money for a resource we must ask: "Is
this money spent in alignment with my values?"

Fulfillment, by its very definition, is a function of knowing when you
have enough.

The questions to ask: "Am I likely to get fulfillment from this
money spent in proportion to the resources that it represents?

"Am I likely to get fulfillment from this money spent in
proportion to my expenditure of my resource (my life-energy)?"

"Am I likely to get fulfillment from this money spent in
proportion to the environment that it has created and will create
after I am finished consuming it?

What if asking those questions results in spending much less money,
and yet feeling much more fulfilled and whole?

Savings is money not spent, resources not consumed
and environment not created. It can instead be used to consume
and reduce dependence on employment.

By saving money, you maintain the integrity of the Earth.
You do not maintain the integrity of the Earth by spending
money, no matter how "green" the product. All consumers
are "green" consumers simply because the color of their
money is green.

But what will we do if we do not consume? Who are we, if not

Answering that question is life's greatest adventure. When we're not
consuming, we are creating, caring, communicating, communing, conserving,
cooperating, being concerned, being conscious. What we have, when we let
go of consuming, is integrity - wholeness.

· Registered
1,894 Posts

I have a great deal of respect for you and your posts. However, I cannot contain myself here when I say that this guy is an Idiot. What he sounds like is some shmo who picked up a couple of economic terms during a pleasant little drug trip, and wrote his own idea of what the words mean. He offends me. Period. His premise is beyond misinformed, it's an outright lie. I've known people like him: jealous of the rich but too lazy to make an honest living. It's easy to bash successful people. He won't be happy until everybody becomes a hippie and a vegan, and if that means losing your personal freedoms, then so be it.

Economics is not evil incarnate as he suggests. It is a framework that is mathematically built to encapsulate or portray the behaviour and interrerelations of humans with respect to their survival and personal fulfillement, under the premise of a free society. How people behave within that framework is based on a number of factors including morals, religion etc, but that's another discipline altogether. Definitely NOT economics, nor has the discipline ever claimed to have any dominion over this or over people's moral choices. If anything, economic models are more and more accomodating to them. For example, some economists are working towards viable models for the preservation of natural resources, based on the assumption that these resources have - an albeit difficult to quantify - value to society. Instead of bashing people over the head ill-concieved morality as Mr. Dominguez is doing, these models help in a more concrete way to find solutions that will not oppose humans' freedom and social behaviours.

I take offense for example, at anyone who would write something as preposterous as this:

CONSUMER: One who uses up, devours, destroys, wastes, squanders.

Right; this guy wasn't "consuming" when he went to the store to buy his pound of tofu.

So with all due respect, I have to say that a little education goes a long way, and one who chooses to publish his views should get his facts straight before doing so.

PS: Phatch, do you have a link for this editorial? ....Just so as to not violate our guidlines re copyright requirements. Thanks.

· Premium Member
11,799 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I'll see if I can find a link.

I agree, his discussion is not correct from an economist point of view. Joe Dominguez was a successful stock broker. He retired in the late sixties at age 30 on a small and fixed income because he wanted to. He had enough to live simply for as long as he wished and could do things he found more meaningful to him. Basically he was a successful hippie.

He is often viewed as one of the founders of the "Voluntary Simplicty" movement. Basically people who want to step back from the rat race that has consumed them and live what to them would be a more meaningful life. This is not every one's position in life. I would hazard that most professional food chefs already get much of what they love of life. I come from the rat race technology background and it spoke strongly to me.

He was part of and wrote to the Me Generation and the Yuppies. That's what he didn't get sucked up in and wrote about.

Having read his books, he's not jealous of the rich, if they are living according to their values. The main point of his books was to help people invest in reliable ways so they could retire on known and "safe" incomes early if they wished to. By reliable, he means bonds so you know exactly their rate of growth and pay out and can reliably predict your money's growth and income. That's not my investment phiilosophy, but his other monetary discussion did help me realize a lot about my spending and working that wasn't really making me happy.

His budget lessons are strict but they help people choose investment goals that mean something to them more than retirement so they are motivated to save on strict budgets.

That's the point of this essay.

It's been published a number of places. A search turns up over 100 hits, here's the first one:

Thanks for your critiques.


· Registered
31 Posts
It seams like he is not retired but a writer which is or was his way of trading his life energy for your money. If he truly believed what he said he would never been heard of at all because there would not be a reason for him to work at all. And in turn he is doing nothing but helping the consumption cycle, his books were written on paper right, and this is on the web so if it wasn't for the consumption of silicon, metal, and oil there would be no forum for his opinions to be shared.

He doesn't seem to know much about history, in the pre-industrialized world people lived for much shorter lives and were required to work until they died or for a few were taken care of by others until the did. Since there lives were shorter they had to trade more of their life energy just to survive so the exchange rate for there trade was much lower than people of today. His use of the term "having enough" seems funny most of the people in the per-industrialized world were only trying to survive which required them to get their children involved in the cycle at a much earlier age. There was much less time to actually spend with family and the ones that you love. There was also very little time for education which made the cycle even worse because there was almost no way out of it.

It sounds to me like he was able to trade his life energy at a high exchange rate as a stock broker, taking full advantage of "the consumption cycle" and later felt guilty for it but instead of actually doing something to help others acheve sucess (wear the real value in life lies) he tried to make others feel his own guilt by bashing the system he took full advantage of.

I could spend hours of my life energy on this subject but I have to take my kids to the park. :D

· Registered
163 Posts
I read this link, and it was... okay. It didn't really get me either way. Made me think, as a lot of things do, that people could use some more common sense. It seemed like common sense to me. If you want your life to be a certain way, you plan, prepare, make it that way. Good, old fashioned "personal responsibility" comes to mind.

But I have to wonder at the same time, if all those economists were really doing their jobs effectively, would stuff like this even be marketable?

Catch 22 for that guy, I guess. That is, if he really wants to help people, which I have no reason to assume that he doesn't.

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