Category Archives: Perspectives

History, belief systems and more

Unusual Belief Systems (con’t)

Unusual Belief Systems (con’t)

I have saved Scientology for last, and it deserves an individual posting. The “official”core belief of this alleged religion is the belief that human beings are immortal, that a person’s life experience transcends a single lifetime, and that human beings possess infinite capabilities.                            

According to L. Ron Hubbard, Scientology’s fundamental creation myth goes something like this: Xenu (also referred to as Xemu) was once ruler of the Galactic Confederacy, an ancient organization of 76 planets. Having existed for 20 million years, the planets were struggling from extreme overpopulation.

Fearing he’d be thrown out of power, Xenu gathered billions of his people, froze them to capture their souls (“thetans”), and transported them to Earth (then called Teegeeack) for elimination. He dumped them at the bottom of volcanoes and then destroyed them in a series of nuclear explosions, killing all but a few and sending their souls into the air.

Once in the air, the souls were captured by Xenu, who then implanted into them misleading information, including concepts related to all of the world’s religions.

After all this evil was carried out, Xenu was eventually imprisoned, and Earth was left to be a mere prison planet by the Galactic Confederacy.

The frozen thetans of the Xenu story go on to play a huge role in Scientology beliefs. Each human has their own thetan and Scientologists strive to purify these spirits through “auditing” sessions until they reach a state of “clear.”

Auditing is one of the central practices of Scientology, in which practitioners are cleared of negative influences, called engrams, to heighten spiritual awareness and access untapped potential. The Church of Scientology has stated the procedure is 100% effective as long as it is done properly and the recipient is truly seeking change.

Happily for the Church of Scientology, auditing is also wildly expensive. It is estimated that reaching Clear costs about $128,000.

After becoming Clear and learning how to fully embrace and control the capabilities inherent in all thetans, the practitioner is now known as an Operating Thetan (OT). According to Scientology, OTs are not limited by physical form or the physical universe. According to the church itself:” “OT is a state of spiritual awareness in which an individual is able to control themselves and their environment.”

From there, many OT levels exist, all of which promise increasingly awe-inspiring knowledge and powers, and which, of course, cost more and more money to attain. At OT level three, for example, practitioners are able to hear the Xenu story above.

According to official Scientology doctrine, reading and reacting to other people is key to being successful. While that’s not an outlandish statement, Scientology holds that most people are simply no good at connecting an apparent, outward emotion to its true inner emotion.

Created to “take the mystery out of human behavior,” the tone scale teaches Scientologists how to read people and provide the appropriate emotional response.

The tone scale runs from -40 to 40. The higher on the scale you are, the better. A score of 40 is described as “Serenity of Beingness.” A 1.1 is considered covert hostility (smiling on the outside while plotting inside) and describes someone who can’t be trusted. If you don’t believe in Scientology, you are a 1.1.

And because Scientology — like many other religions supposedly built on love and acceptance — employs homophobic doctrine, the tone scale also aligns with sexual orientation. If someone is gay, they automatically fall into the Covert Hostility category and can only move up into heterosexuality and spiritual elevation through auditing.

In L. Ron Hubbard’s book, Scientology: The History of Man, he goes into deep descriptions of incidents in our past lives. Because thetans are eternal entities, they have past lives that have experienced traumas throughout time. As a result, people today have subconscious memories of past lives as everything including clams, atoms, cells in the process of mitosis, early photosynthetic organisms, and sloths, just to name a few.

The clam, in particular, provides a great example. Hubbard argues that the hinges of the clam eventually became the hinges of the human jaw and that by invoking your clam past, you can have a very real effect on a human today. As Hubbard writes in Scientology: The History of Man.

GMT Worldwide

GMT Worldwide

I recently heard an argument for using GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) as the clock time in all time zones, thus eliminating the zones. At first blush my reaction was: “This guy must be crazy”. However, his view has percolated in my meager brain for a while and I have started to come around to this way of thinking. Once I got past my traditional hang-ups like Lunch has to be at noon, dinner at 6 pm, work starts at 8 am and prime time TV starts at 7pm.

I am in the Central time zone and we are 6 hours behind GMT when both are on Standard time. The new time would mean that Lunch is now at 6 am, dinner at noon, work starts at 2 am and prime time TV now starts at 1 pm. The actual amount of day and night hors would not change. In terms of coordinating schedules in a Global Economy I can see a tremendous advantage to the change. What it would amount to is a temporary emotional discomfort leading to a new paradigm.

Food for thought?

Labor Unions

Labor Unions

In the early days of my business career, I despised labor unions. One of my first management positions was heading up the first personal department (AKA Human Resources) for a small company. I was hired as a one-man effort to thwart an organizing attempt by the local Teamsters. Fortunately for my career prospects, we were able to stave off the union effort and the vote failed. I understood the original need for unions and agreed that companies had not treated their employees fairly. However, this was the 70’s and we were much more enlightened managers and were perfectly capable of taking care of our workers without the assistance of a third party.

That was my view early on and I believe it was valid given the very narrow focus of my responsibilities. Today I hope that my view has broadened. I still feel that it is management’s responsibility to provide for workers, but over time I am convinced that we have let the working man down. The earlier post on income distribution illustrates my view. The benefits of our country’s increased per capita GDP over the last 40 years have almost entirely accrued to the country’s wealthiest families. At the same time union participation has declined.  In 1945, union membership reached a peak of 33.4 percent of the U.S. workforce but steadily declined to a low of 10.7 percent in 2017, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The membership numbers for the top 10 labor unions are self-reported, and unless specifically noted, the unions are headquartered in Washington, D.C.

A list of the current functioning unions follows:                                                                           

National Education Association:                                                                                                               With more than 3 million members, the NEA represents classroom teachers, education support professionals, higher education staff and faculty, retired teachers and students training to become education professionals. Founded in 1857, the NEA merged with the American Teachers Association in 1966.

Service Employees International Union:                                                                                                  The SEIU has nearly 1.9 million members in more than 100 occupations in the U.S., including janitors, security workers, superintendents, maintenance workers, local and state government employees, bus drivers and child-care providers. Founded by janitorial workers in 1921, the SEIU is now the largest-membership union in the U.S. that represents the property services, public services and health-care industries.

American Federation of Teachers:                                                                          The AFT was founded in Chicago in 1916, and now has more than 1.5 million members, including pre-K through grade 12 teachers, early childhood educators, paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel, higher education faculty and staff, government employees and other education professionals.                                                                              International Brotherhood of Teamsters:                                                       In 1903, two unions merged to form the Teamsters, one of the most recognized unions in the U.S. It has 1.4 million members in 21 industrial divisions, including airlines, bakery and laundry, brewery and soft drinks, building material and construction, entertainment and passenger transportation.                                                                                                                        American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees:                                            With an estimated 1.3 million members, the AFSCME is the biggest public services employee union in the U.S., representing corrections officers, childcare providers, sanitation workers, EMTs and nurses. The union was founded in 1932 by a group of state employees in Madison, Wisconsin.                                                                                                                                  United Food and Commercial Workers International Union:           The UFCW was founded in 1979 and has grown to 1.3 million members in occupations such as food-processing workers, drugstore workers, poultry processing plant workers, packinghouse employees and grocery store workers.                                                                                     United Steelworkers:                                                                                                  The USW was founded in 1942 and is headquartered in Pittsburgh. It has more than 1.2 million members in the steel, aluminum and metalworking industry, and also represents chemical plant workers, pharmacy workers, rubber workers and construction workers.                     The International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America:  This union is more commonly referred to as the United Auto Workers and has more than 400,000 active members, and more than 580,000 retired members in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico. The UAW, which was founded in 1935 and is headquartered in Detroit, represents autoworkers, health-care workers, academic student employees, postdoctoral scholars and workers in the casino gambling industry.   International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers:  Founded in 1888 by a group of Atlanta-based machinists, the IAM is headquartered in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, and has 720,000 members. The union represents automotive repair workers, city employees, truck assemblers, fabrication workers and aerospace workers.      

 

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers:                                                                   
With 675,000 members in the utilities, construction, telecommunications, broadcasting, manufacturing and railroad industries, the IBEW has been active since it was founded in St. Louis in 1891.
Most of these unions also belong to the AFL/CIO consortium of unions which numbers over 12 million.
The above does not include the 2nd largest and arguably the most powerful union in our country. Federal Civil Servants number in excess of 2.8 million and are by far the best-compensated workers. Their total compensation exceeds their private sector counterparts by over 70%. I would concede that private-sector wages are too low by as much as 30 – 40%. I would also argue that civil service compensation exceeded market value by about the same amount. Details on the comparison of civil service compensation are contained in a prior post for several years ago and are still available at this site.

My view on unions is still that they should not be necessary. However, without enlightened management practices or stricter federal labor rules they have the potential to add social value.