Monday, January 2, 2012

Degrees of Freedom = Money

Well,  here it is, 2012, the year where everything ends on 12/21. Well we better get ready, because anything that ends postulates something beginning, and I think it's beginning now. I know I was born in what I thought was America, but lately I  have begun to think that I live in Amerika,  with a spiraling down of personal freedoms as the famous saying goes, “the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.”

The only problem with that scenario is the ratio between the rich and the poor, and how you define each of those terms. Personally, I don't enter thoughts of UFOs or Mayan calendars, except in the sense that the Mayans get to celebrate New Year's early.

I suggest that the term rich and poor have to do with degrees of freedom. America is said to be the land of the free and the home of the brave, but by percentage, less and less of us have less and less freedom. Most of us are counting our pennies while the rich count their millions. I don't care much for things, because anything I own also owns me–otherwise why would I go searching for it when I can't find it? I am then it's servant, it's slave–for as long as it takes for me to either find it were to declare it lost.

The term “degrees of freedom” is a term from physics having to do with symmetry, with the symmetry of the sphere being greatest, because no matter how you roll it, it looks the same. Not so with a rectangle, in a square you would have 90° of symmetry or 6 different positions which would look the same. With a rectangle if you have a strange grouping where one group of symmetry are the 4 ways you could turn it, and 2 additional but completely different degrees of freedom when you stand it on its end.

What has that got to do with me, you will probably ask? Well, although money has no intrinsic value of its own (it used to be tied to the gold standard and the silver standard but now it is tied to nothing), still has as much value as you pretend it does (or society at large). We will be talking about the Federal Reserve later, but right now we just want to associate money with degrees of freedom. If you are homeless and are begging for change you have almost no degrees of freedom–you must do the same thing day after day with no respite. With more money you may rent an apartment–with more you can buy a house etc.

The rich can go skiing and live their lives on vacation. If they have enough money they can play at it–the money game. When I used to tour through Europe it drove me crazy because every time we crossed a border we had to change our money into a different currency, and the money changers always charged you to exchange currencies. This of course, depletes in a small amount your degrees of freedom and establishes borders. If I can use the Euro in quite a few countries I save money because the money changers have been put out of business, but if I go to a country such as Great Britain, who do not use the Euro, where am I? At one of the thousands of money changing establishments, with them scraping off a little off the top every time I change my money.

This, by the way, is the only act of violence that Jesus ever performed during his ministry–on Wednesday, he overturned the money changers at the Temple, because you had to buy sanctified animals from the priests, and they used Shekels, whereas the common people used Roman coins, because they were under the yoke of Roman Rule. Let's run a little timeline, Jesus knocked over the money tables (and you can just imagine the scramble of people to grab the Shekels),  on Thursday evening he was arrested in on Friday morning he was crucified. Wednesday Thursday Friday. No slow-motion justice there. He acted on Wednesday and was dead and thought of as out of the way by Friday afternoon.

Many people when they get rich buy summer homes, boats, yachts, 4 or 5 cars and every other luxury you can imagine. What do I do?  I hope that my next royalty check has a good number on it. That's right, I get royalty checks, which means that I am Royal. That doesn't mean shit.  I have played and performed with my heart and soul and I have given it everything I've got every time, but I have less degrees of freedom than the man who owns the building I live in. What do you think of that?


rlnyc said...

Please click on the ads, even as a joke. They make me a penny here; a penny there. Look at that, I am begging.

40 Years of R&R History and I am begging. Pretty funny.

Anonymous said...

I don't know about all that. I do know that mp3 killed off the music business, good for consumers bad for the artists. I hope that you can find a worthy vehicle for your musical gifts. You are a great player and there's many people out here that would love to hear what your guitar has to say.

Deb said...

Excellent post, Richard. You are absolutely right that money gives one degrees of freedom. I've had no money for years now and I have definitely felt my freedom shrinking. If you're interested in freedom (for yourself and others), you have to be interested in economic fairness, because you can't have one without the other. And someone like you certainly should NOT have less freedom than your landlord. It ain't right.

Anonymous said...

Mister Lloyd,
Thank you for your analysis but moreover, thank you for what you gave to Art History. I am conscious that the recognition doesn't pay your rent but if it brings a smile to your face, it may help a little. Tougher to live in nyc now it seems, well, can you move to the european countryside ?
I can't imagine how many small concert places you could fill up and life is much easier over there.
Cheers from sunny east-southern France !