Greg: Sure. Yeah. So, my name’s Greg, I go by Techstoa on Twitter. I’ve been doing a lot of writing, podcasts, that sort of thing. Spend a lot of my time researching when I’m not at work. But I work in the tech industry. I’ve been there for about 20 years, most of that at a large tech company, but these days I’m working in a much smaller place. My goal is to use some of the technological solutions, like the types of platforms we have available, and to focus them on helping communities instead. I figure if we can fix the underlying economic problems, people will be less likely to be looking for simple answers to complex issues.
FBombs4U: That is very accurate. So, I tried to skim through it a bit. Are you trying to identify the questions that need to be addressed by using technology for analytics?
Greg: I wouldn’t say that. I mean, I’m not against the idea, but that sort of data analytics isn’t really my area of expertise. No, I actually want to repurpose some of the same technologies for communities instead.
A great example of this would be like an alternative to Uber.
Greg: So, right now, you’ve got this global platform that’s owned by a bunch of rich people that they’re attempting to connect drivers in the community with fares. I could see the same type of service operating within the community itself, so run by the community but using open source software. So, you can have every community has their own instance, and they can even interoperate together, but the idea is that all these tech businesses are run within the community for the purpose of helping the community as opposed to the current Wall Street-tied corporate model.
FBombs4U: Okay. So, I think I can better understand. Let me see if I can rephrase this. So, when I was growing up in Pittsburgh, we have a lot of small towns. Pittsburgh is considered a very big small town, and it’s basically broken up into a number of other small towns. They all operate as boroughs and municipalities with their own governments, and their own fire departments, and all that. Now, in each of these towns, there used to be what I would call Mom and Pop retail shops selling clothes and all this.
But then a couple decades ago, a major plaza moves in. It’s got a Target, a Walmart, all of this stuff, and it just puts the entire town of individual business owners out of business. And you’re looking to find ways to take current technology platform and revitalize that neighborhood-type economy that stimulates local economy instead of just providing jobs while taking the money out of the community.
Greg: Yeah, yeah. I think that’s a good way of putting it. The more that our spending goes to someone else in the community, the same dollar can help a lot of people as it moves around. Where if the dollar is immediately going out to Silicon Valley and then to Wall Street or something along those lines, it’s going to be destructive to the communities.
FBombs4U: Okay. So, you actually pointed out a bit of a flaw in my logic. My general logic, an example is the reason the economy did fairly well through COVID is if you give people that need money…
Greg: It didn’t.
FBombs4U: If you give people that need money money, they’re going to spend that money, and when they spend that money it goes to the people that own the businesses and on up. So, if you just give it to the business owners, nobody that needs anything gets anything, it doesn’t stimulate anything. But if you give it to the people that need stuff, then it still goes to the business owners, but everybody gets utility out of that dollar instead of it going out of the economy. Or in what you’re saying, going out of the neighborhood.
Greg: Right. I think that both mindsets are a little bit broken. So, if you give money to the businesses, it stays in the businesses and then goes to their vendors or wherever, and to the employees. If you give it to the people, then they’re going to spend it. And the way that our spending patterns work right now mean that it goes to the same people. Now, if we were doing business differently, it would look very different. But unless we’re doing that part, all we’re doing is just adding an additional step before the inflation of money at the top.
FBombs4U: Okay. So, if you look at the model that I’m talking about, you give people that need money money, while I’m correct, it’s only a one-time utility because it’s leaving the community. If you’re able to accomplish your goal, then that injection into a community recycles, and just based on how money works, the quality of life in that community will begin to rise.
Greg: Yeah, yeah. And my goal is to build these services by hiring people within the community and giving them the opportunity to learn skills on the job.
FBombs4U: Okay. One thing that I’m thinking of as you say this is I can think of an economy that worked this way in a sense, and it was a thing called Green Apple and basically it was a barter system between businesses.
And I owned a sign business, you own your business, and you’re going to do a seminar. Well, you need new trade show banners, you need a new table throw for the sign-in sheet, all that stuff. You come to me and basically you’re going to use Green Apple dollars instead of cash. And that way, you’re using trade, a barter.
So, we have a network of businesses that you can only spend those dollars inside the network, but when you buy signs from me, I can use that to pay my accountant. So, this is just a cycling of barter as opposed to an exchange of currency. So, it’s keeping us doing work and having a way to use our work to pay for something instead of cash.
Greg: Yeah, yeah. That makes sense. The way I would say it is rather than a system of barter, what you’re doing is you’re creating another entity that has the ability to create currency.
FBombs4U: Yeah, yeah.
Greg: It’s not generally accepted currency, but it’s specific instance.
FBombs4U: Yeah, a closed marketplace.
Greg: Right. We have a lot of those these days.
FBombs4U: Okay. So, how can you incentivize somebody? Because in the model that I think that you’re looking at, there is a slight expectation of the customer to either pay slightly more or go through different steps to support the neighborhood. How do you overcome that for people already struggling?
Greg: Yeah. I mean, that’s certainly difficult. It comes down to the choices that people make. I don’t necessarily think it’s going to be expensive… a lot more expensive. I think in some cases, it will. But at the end of the day, big picture – billionaires are expensive. Okay?
FBombs4U: No shit. People will complain…the same people that will complain if their tax dollars go to school lunches have never complained that Elon gets 15 billion in tax incentives a year. It’s that juxtaposition that needs addressed. And I guess that’s kind of where my head is in what you’re trying to do. I think we’re in a post-fact, post-truth world.
Greg: That’s an interesting topic that we can spend a long time on. I’m not sure anyone really understands what truth is. Most people, they don’t.
FBombs4U: Yeah. And that’s kind of the whole joke of the name of my channel is Facts Based on My Brain. It’s me mocking KellyAnne Conway and all of them for taking the word “fact” to describe the word “opinion.” And that outright assault has ended a fact-based world, which leads to the article you gave showing that there is no truth for a large group of people but however, as much as we know it’s not a truth, they are surrounded at work, at church, social media, regular media, their politicians, their school board. Everybody says the same thing, so how would they believe otherwise?
Greg: So, let’s challenge the assumption that there’s such a thing as truth in the first place. There are certainly facts, but facts always exist within an understanding, like a mental model of how the world works, and that mental model is driven based on experience. You believe the world works in the way that you have experienced it throughout your life.
So, people argue about a given fact but really, in most cases, they have a difference of mental models in terms of how the world works. It’s not necessarily true that either of them are right. It’s all opinion-based. And there’s some people I agree with more than others but as long as an individual thinks that they know truth when in fact, what they know is a given perspective, it’s hard to work past that, and that is not a one-sided problem. It’s very easy to point to what Republicans believe or say that they believe and say that they’ve lost an understanding of truth. But in my experience, most people believe that they understand truth, when really they have a set of facts and a given opinion on them.
FBombs4U: Okay. So, that being said, my philosophy is that we are so busy talking to each other that nobody is communicating with each other.
Greg: Yeah, yeah. People talk at each other. Unless you’re trying to actually understand the framing in the other person’s mind, you’re not really communicating. You’re arguing about definition, and that sort of thing.
FBombs4U: Yes. So, in your mind, what do we do about it? Where are we headed and what do we do about it?
Greg: I think what we need to do about it is to talk more about problems and their solutions. So, I’ve been trying to do that with my podcast, but I don’t have all that much time and I have a lot of different projects I’m working on. I just did a new episode today, and this might end up being a separate one as well.
FBombs4U: Okay, cool.
Greg: Yeah. I mean, it comes down to…
So, you mentioned philosophy. There’s a writer, Epictetus, ancient Greek, he wrote the Enchiridion which is a manual. Chapter 1 of the manual talks about how there are things within your power, and there are things that are not within your power. It talks about what types of things fall under each classification, and most people are focused on things outside of their power.
Most people are focused on getting someone elected, where they are one-three-hundred-millionth of a vote. I mean, the numbers aren’t quite right since not that many people actually vote. But what can you do in your day? What steps can you take in order to change the community around you?
I mean, that was my approach when I came up with my plan. What does a solution look like given my tech experience? I talked a little bit about what that does look like. But what options are available to you with your experience? What options are available to someone else?
I was talking to Steve the Democrat earlier today. Yeah, I mean, he works with helping people with addiction. How can you take your time and spend it helping someone else overcome the problem that they’ve experienced?
FBombs4U: Yeah, yeah. Now, what are you finding with that?
Greg: Most people are very focused on elections.
FBombs4U: While it’s important, it’s probably the least significant way to reach somebody.
Greg: Yeah. I mean, you get someone elected, and it’s not like the opposition is automatically going to accept the election results.
FBombs4U: Well, okay. So, that takes us to an interesting part. The question that spawned all this was at what point should… The people in Nazi Germany, when would have been an appropriate time for them to… I’m trying to think of a way to not make this an activated conversation.
Greg: Why don’t I try to take this?
FBombs4U: Okay, good, yeah, thank you.
Greg: I’m along the lines of Gandhi’s non-violent protest sort of thing.
FBombs4U: Right, right, right.
Greg: What I think we need to do is change how we interoperate together, how we are working together. That’s what’s going to change the economy. That’s what’s going to change politics. Its individuals coming together and solving problems such that it’s harder for narcissists to come along and say, “Only I can provide you the answer,” and then give us organized crime under a new name.
These are complicated problems and Republicans, I think in some cases, they probably believe their bullshit, but they’re telling us who to blame, who the enemies are, and it’s the elites. Depending on who you’re talking to, it could be… They’re focused on communism, which that’s a very fascist thing, and fascism was very anti-communist.
FBombs4U: Yeah, yeah.
Greg: In some cases, they do draw it along racial or religious lines or it’s immigration lines. There’s all sorts of different opinions they have on what the problem is. But at the end of the day, people have needs. You need food, clothing, and shelter. If you can’t get your needs, and you don’t have any of your time for yourself, you’re going to be angry and looking for answers. So, help each other.
FBombs4U: You and are on exactly the same page so far. The part I struggle with is with the benefit of hindsight, knowing what happened – I’m a utiliarianist, utilitarian, whatever, whatever. For me, there has to be a tipping point in certain events in the past where the utility of the situation would be better addressed with different actions.
Greg: We should have done a lot of things differently, yes.
FBombs4U: And I guess I’m trying to avoid the violent side because I don’t think that’s the answer I’m trying to talk about.
Greg: I don’t think it is an answer. It just creates more violence.
Greg: Then you have people wanting revenge.
FBombs4U: I came out with a video yesterday, last night, that tried to highlight where we are currently as far as what we’ve been willing to let go recently without an uproar, like the mass COVID deaths and the mass deaths of children in schools.
That we as a country think that there is going to be some event in the future that will be so atrocious that we’ll wake up. I challenge to say we’ve already had them, and you’ve slept through them, therefore you’re more likely to let the next one happen than not let it happen.
And I’m trying to get good people like the fiscal conservative that is a tax voter to realize that their tax vote is a support for something extremely similar to the Nazi party.
Greg: Yeah, it’s really hard to convince a libertarian that their anti-government views enable fascism because it’s counterintuitive. You have to dig into the details as to what is going on before it makes sense.
FBombs4U: Yes. And I tried something slightly different, and I’ve done this in a couple videos, which is when you go to church – and I use church because there’s a war inside of Christianity I’ve been talking about for about a year now – that because of the power Paula White had inside of both the White House and the evangelical church, they actually have an organization where they seek out failing churches and try to convert them from the traditional model of the prophet being outside of the church to the preacher being the prophet. That way they can direct the message to each of the churches, and the churches can radicalize without needing outside people.
I know the parishioners aren’t realizing this because it’s just their church, and they just believe in them. So, what I’m trying to point out is when you go to church, and you look around and you see white nationalists in your pew, it doesn’t bother you the way it used to, you don’t recoil. That’s what you need to realize, that you don’t have to believe the views of the left or anybody left of you but what you have to do is look at who you’re agreeing with and who your bedfellows are. And when you’re sitting next to white nationalists, you have to ask yourself why. And that’s the only thing I can think that’s going to get them activated to question themselves.
Greg: Yeah, it could be. I spent years trying to convince a Trump supporter that Trump was not a good person worth following. I learned a lot through the experience, but I’m not sure I changed any minds. I’m not sure that changing minds in this way is feasible.
Everyone’s going to have their tipping point. So, you mention a tipping point, but it’s a very individual thing, and I think that the better question to ask people is how bad do things need to get before you feel the need to take action personally.
FBombs4U: Not only what you just said but the way you did it. My approach, I spent 20-some years teaching consultative sales, and one of the most important parts I train is the order of activity. See, if you’re going to persuade somebody, there’s a process to it, and every sales meeting I do goes almost identical no matter what the product is.
You start the process of greeting, some sort of rapport-building in the beginning, then I want to give them the overview of what we’re going to accomplish because it starts to put people at ease. And that general overview is me explaining to them how I’m about to persuade them.
So, first thing I want to do is ask you a series of questions. This way I can better identify what you’re trying to accomplish, what your goals are, and better understand if it’s something I’m able to accomplish and how. After I’ve asked you a series of questions, I’m going to go through and kind of show you what it is that we do that’s going to accomplish those goals and kind of why we as a company do it better and what I do specifically that separates what I do from everybody else. Then once we go through that, you’ll be able to ask any questions that you have about that process.
Once I’ve answered those, I think we’ll be in a position for you to either be able to make a decision if I’m the right person for you, and I think I’ll be able to decide if I can accomplish your goals, does all that seem fair.
So, I’ve set the ground rules for what we’re about to do, but the first part of that is the series of questions to identify what your goals are. That is how everything has to happen in my mind to make any change. Because there’s no information I can give somebody that they’re going to listen to because if I say it, it’s a lie. If they say it, it’s probably true. So, if I can get them to say it, then I don’t have to do the work.
Greg: Yeah. So, it comes back to what I was saying earlier about there’s facts and then there’s the larger framework that the fact fits into. If you say something that does not fit into their framework, they’re not going to question their framework, they’re going to question the fact. Now, they can come up with an alternate explanation for it, and in some cases they might actually be right. I mean, we’re flawed too, so there’s a give and take there. But it comes down getting someone to question that internal narrative.
Greg: That understanding how the world works. And that induces anger. That triggers people in very meaningful ways.
FBombs4U: Yeah, yeah.
Greg: So, there’s ways you can do it. Like, if you’re interested in changing yourself, there’s things that you can do in order to help. So, there’s a book by Michael Pollan, How to Change Your Mind. He talks about basically how the mind works biologically in order to take these sort of narratives and internalize them, and he talks about ways that you can overcome that through the use of hallucinogens.
Greg: My understanding is that pot does it as well…
Greg: …but it’s to a lesser degree. It allows you to question… Evaluate these sort of internal decisions.
However, so if you’re trying to do these methods in order to change someone else’s mind as opposed to your own, you’ve basically just reinvented MKUltra. So, it seems like it is a useful tool for changing yourself, but in terms of changing someone else that doesn’t work so well.
So, my thought is the thing that has changed the behaviors of people… So, I mean, at the end of the day, everyone has their internal dialogue, but it’s the sum of our choices, our behaviors, that actually create the world. And the thing that has changed people’s behaviors most of anything else in the past couple decades from my perspective isn’t politics, it’s technology.
Greg: Like you talked about the big shops coming in and putting all the little…
FBombs4U: Wait. First of all, hold on one second.
FBombs4U: Magnus said that book you mentioned has been on his reading list for a long time, and Magnus reads books. One of the things Magnus does is read books on his stream.
Greg: Which book?
FBombs4U: The one about the brain.
Greg: Oh, yeah. How to Change Your Mind.
FBombs4U: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Greg: Yeah, it’s worth it.
FBombs4U: Yeah, nice, Michael Pollan. Okay. Okay, sorry. I didn’t mean to interrupt you.
Greg: No worries. Yeah. I read that a couple of years ago on the beginning of my journey. That and Sapiens by Noah Yuval Harari, I might have his name slightly wrong there, but that was a great book as well. It got me thinking about humanity in a very different way. So, this whole narrative-driven thing.
At the end of the day, what we’re really dealing with is 300 apes (note: should have been 300 million apes) in an enclosed space, and a whole bunch of narratives. It’s like businesses, they’re legal fictions. Borders, countries, it’s all legal fiction. It’s all narrative and opinion other than the reality of humans with needs and resource allocation, and our resource allocation strategies are insane.
FBombs4U: I like how you have a talent of taking complex ideas and simplifying it down to a couple sentences. That was fantastic what you just did. Here’s one thing I think. I come from a persuasion to solution because of what you were just saying, that everybody lives their narrative. So, before they’ll accept a solution, they have to mentally begin to accept it. So, I look at how have they gone from where they were to where they are, what tools have been used, and how can we reverse engineer that to at a bare minimum interrupt the pattern.
One example I’ve found that I know would work, I just don’t know how to make it happen, I’m slowly building it, but if we can get influential people on the right to have to answer for the shit-takes of other influential people that they like, then we can at least put them on the spot to have to juxtapose each other and begin to interrupt the pattern. I kind of do it every now and again on Twitter where it’s like “Tim Pool just said this piece of shit stuff, Joe Rogan, are you really going to accept that as an answer?”
And obviously, I’m not going to make any headway, but I’m just trying to create a process that maybe could catch on. And if you can get Hannity and Tucker arguing with each other, then they spend the hour arguing and not the hour propagandizing.
Greg: I think it would be more useful to get people to challenge them more directly in the moment, but that’s not easy to do. I think having these sort of conversations is really useful, if we can get people to actually listen and pay attention. Get more people really talking and engaging rather than listening to talking points.
FBombs4U: Yeah, okay. So, this is something I guess I’m realizing is I have to better communicate about what I’m personally trying to do. I’m not saying there was any interpretation there. There are so many strategies that have to work at one time to begin to move more than one person at a time.
Like I had a conversation last night about the video I put out where I’m explaining where we are in a way that isn’t necessarily going to move people but maybe get somebody to listen or maybe have a conversation.
But at the same time, I’m hoping that I can share that with people, and then I can have conversations with them, or it’s a tool that somebody could use when talking to a friend in a small version conversation. So, trying to create tools…
Whereas you’re creating tools and systems for the economics, I’m trying to create duplicatable tools and systems for what I always refer to as the starfish method. I don’t know if you’ve heard the story.
There was a storm, and all these starfish wash up on the beach, and there’s thousands and thousands of starfish, and the sun’s coming up. This old man’s walking the beach searching for meaning, and he comes up and sees this little boy picking up and throwing individual starfish into the ocean. The old guy says, “Boy, do you mind if I ask you what it is you’re doing?” and he says, “The sun’s coming up, and if the starfish aren’t back in the water, they’ll die.” The old man looks around, and he says, “But there’s tens of thousands of starfish. You could never make any real difference.” The little kid smiles, looks down, picks up another starfish, throws it into the water and says, “To that one, I made a difference.”
The idea is that is the only way to change. Whether it’s me helping individuals to not be radicalized, or me reaching one more person, that reaches one more person, that reaches one more person, so that you get that steamroll of Greta Thunberg-type change. Where it was a girl sitting on a bench which became a global movement. There’s no 10-goal goal, but if everybody starts to do a little bit, in a number of different ways, change can eventually happen on a big scale.
Greg: Yeah, I agree. The more time you spend at trying to make small change, the better insights you get into how you would make a large-scale change, because you get a better understanding of what works and what doesn’t.
Greg: I’ve been doing this 2018, and I can look back and say if people had listened to me then, we’d be in a much different position. But this is the thingr, is that you can only make small change when you’re dealing with this type of top-down power and essentially, a society of people who feel powerless.
Greg: If you think that the solution to our problems is to get someone into the highest office in the land, you don’t feel personally empowered in any meaningful way.
FBombs4U: Yes, yes.
Greg: If that’s the best you can do is occasionally vote, you are not personally empowered. And what do they want from you? They want you to give money.
FBombs4U: Yes. Yes. The irony that we have for at a bare minimum the last six years lived through the Nigerian prince scam. Where I’ve got a million dollars, but it’s all tied up, and if you just send me 10 grand, I’ll split the million with you. It’s the exact same as, “I’m a rich billionaire. I alone can fix it, but they’re holding me down. So, if you give me 50 bucks a month, I can fight the globalists for you.” It’s the same scam.
Greg: Yeah. That’s essentially what we’re getting out of both parties. I mean, I don’t think they view it as a scam, so there is the intent aspect of it. Maybe Trump’s trying to scam people, but I think in some cases, he’s just trying to keep his movement going because he thinks he is the answer.
Like the Democrats are also telling us that they need our money in order to get their people elected. But we see the results when they’re in office because they’re focused on the things they can’t solve instead of the things they are.
Thomas Paine in Common Sense wrote about the differences between government and society. The positives of society come from the people in society, not the government. Now, the government, what it is is it should be the punisher. Like when people overstep the bounds, violate the rules, it should be holding them accountable.
We don’t get that from government. I mean, we’ll get plenty of violence for addressing poverty. You can’t get mental health support, but you can get shot if you call the police to help when someone’s in crisis.
Greg: But people in power? There’s no accountability there. There is no focus on accountability there.
FBombs4U: Well, in my mind, we’ve become a corporate oligarchy.
Greg: I agree.
FBombs4U: Hold on. I call it a representative oligarchy. They get to choose who we get to pick from. And then they convince us that we’re actually making a choice; however, that’s why Democrats will always give up what the Progressives want to negotiate with the Republicans because that’s what their overlords want.
Greg: I don’t necessarily think that’s true. I mean, in some cases, it probably is. But in some cases, it’s just they are voting for the people who are in alignment with their views. They think that what we need to do is make sure that everyone has good jobs, and then we’ll use the tax revenue of all these successful businesses to pay for the social program. But they don’t pay the taxes, so it’s not actually helping us in that regard.
Greg: Maybe we shouldn’t be working for them. Maybe we should be organizing ourself in a different way rather than working for businesses that outright tell us that they need to put profitability in the short term over survival of the species.
FBombs4U: If I can get my dad, luckily he’s not a voter, but he’s a very socially and fiscally conservative person. He isn’t the ultra-wealthy, but he’s probably the step below the ultra-wealthy, and for the majority of his life, literally believed we all had an equal chance, and he just did that much better.
Ignoring the fact that he was third generation in the car business and had the cushion that if he fucked up with borrowing, he wouldn’t be in the streets. So, if I can get him to understand we aren’t all equal and the only real difference between him and everybody else wasn’t the merit, it was the access to capital, and that his wealth came off of exploitation, and when he can finally realize that, people are reachable.
Greg: Well, you got to watch out though because in some cases, they did work hard as well. Like I started poor, and I worked my way up, and hard work got me where I was. It was also a lot of privilege and luck.
FBombs4U: Yeah, yeah. I’ve really simplified about a two-month conversation. There’s a huge nuance to this that I did as an actual stream on once. You mentioned earlier people get defensive, and it pretty much takes over the conversation. Because of the way I operate, which is always trying to get whoever I’m talking to to identify their own belief so that I can talk to them because I don’t want to waste my time solving a problem that doesn’t exist, I want to address their actual issue.
But by asking people questions, they conflate being asked a question with being accused of something. And so I’m almost always the one that they’re going to start to focus their anger on, and that’s fine, it’s almost a tool because they can use me instead of something else, and I’m good enough at just like… I’m being the observer of the conversation and participating in it also, so instead of me reacting to them being accusatory, I’m watching how their behavior’s being affected by what’s happening, and relaying that to me so that I can help move the conversation forward. So, I’m participating but observing at the same time. And no matter whether I’m talking to somebody on the left, center, or to the right, it’s always exactly the same. They always go through that feeling questioned, getting defensive, then me addressing, “Hey, I’m trying to do this,” and explaining. It’s the same process no matter who I’m talking to, and so it’s becoming a bit duplicatable.
And in talking to somebody like my father, I start with taking it away from him. So, to make sure I don’t activate him, I talk about a salesperson and a mechanic. And the salesperson has more opportunity to write their own ticket than the mechanic. The mechanic has to have a job. Unless they start their own company, they have to have a job. It’s going to be based on the work that somebody brings in. A commissioned salesperson writes their ticket. If you sell enough cars, they’ll let you take days off. If you sell enough houses, they don’t care if you come in. And you’re the one that then has the leverage to go elsewhere.
So, if I start to compare two different types of people and the opportunities they have, and the opportunities towards education that they had and where those differences are, now that person who believes in a meritocracy alone can begin to separate opportunity and merit. And once that has begun, you can begin to introduce them into the equation.
So, I did three steps to get to my father to explain the difference between him and his general manager. Yeah, did you go to six stores twice a week every week and work six days a week? Yes. Did some of your managers work six days a week just like you? Yeah. How much different in effort would you say you guys put in? Would you say it was an entire comma worth of effort? Because at the end, you left with eight figures, and they left with nothing. Did you think the merit and everything was that different? Or do you think the real difference was your access to capital and willing to risk that capital? And when he sees the difference isn’t the work effort, it was the capital, then he wants to believe merit and capital are the same, and that’s an easy conversation to have.
Greg: Yeah. In some cases, they can be. In a lot of cases, they aren’t.
FBombs4U: He said all the malarkey – I’m so sorry, I just saw it – I said “oligarchy,” he said “all the malarkey.” Sorry, sorry. That’s funny. Okay, I’m sorry, you were saying?
Greg: Just that in some cases, there is merit. In some cases, you know.
FBombs4U: Well, it’s both.
FBombs4U: And that’s the hard thing is we live in a black-and-white world, and when you start to argue against merit, you have to make sure you’re filling in the gap, that they don’t think you’re saying, “No merit.” And that’s kind of what even came across to you because your instinct was to say, “I did work really hard,” and X, Y, and Z.
So, I never gave you my backstory. So, I grew up fourth generation in the car business, that’s what I thought I was going to do my whole life. So, after getting a four-year degree in five-and-a-half years, I went into the car business and was in a school, an NADA school in McLean, Viriginia, to learn how to take over and run dealerships when my fiancée got pregnant. And I refused to work six days a week for the rest of my life, so I left and spent the next 25 years in the insurance industry, mortgage industry, real estate, training, all of that.
And then finally in 2010, I bought a sign business. It was a failing sign business, they were about to go out of business. I got it. The loan I took out’s less than you should need to start a real business. But in seven years, we took it from under a hundred grand a year to over seven hundred a year, and I sold it about four years ago, I’ve been retired since. And what I’ve come to kind of get to this point is I worked my ass off, like I’ve done 72-hour shifts to complete impossible jobs. But without the opportunity, that effort would be somewhere else. Without the safety net of knowing even if I blow the loan, and I’m on the hook, I won’t be on the street.
FBombs4U: That people don’t have that ability to take risks. Now, if you do stuff like decouple healthcare and give everybody healthcare, that begins to solve those problems. But at the same time, I fully tried to get people to understand I’m not in the position I’m in without merit, but merit alone means like there’s… The likelihood of me being where I am without the advantages is so small that it’s easy for me to talk to people that have worked hard and help them understand. But I see it’s also easy to send the message that I’m discounting merit at the same time.
Greg: Yes. In my case, it’s been an interesting mix of merit and not merit. So, I spent 20 years in the industry. I started off doing phone help desk support and worked my way up to managing an engineering team. And a lot of that was in the same company. I spent a lot of time moving from team to team, like learning different aspects of the business.
But the other side of the coin is that I joined a startup in ‘99, at the beginning…well, high in the peak of the dot-com bubble. No degree, I just was in the right place at the right time when they were hiring warm bodies. I did well once I got there, but six months after I was hired, the company IPOed and now was worth two million dollars.
FBombs4U: Geez. Nice.
Greg: Yeah. From the perspective of a 20-year-old, like, yay, amazing. And then there was the dot-com crash, so I didn’t actually get to see most of that money.
FBombs4U: [Laughter] Oh. The beauty of an unrealized gain.
Greg: Yeah. But when you look at it, is that a healthy economy? When a 20-year-old kid works a job for six months and almost has two million dollars. There’s a problem there. It is a Wall Street problem; it is a big tech problem. We, as a society, don’t need to participate that way. That we’re building tools for people who have that type of money to throw away because they know the type of power that it gets them.
FBombs4U: Okay. So, that actually brings us to a good place where we can start to wrap up. Because my question becomes if between what you’re talking about and what I’m talking about… Because it takes all of them. You look at the ’60s and you see it took, and I’m not advocating for it, but it took a mix of pressure on politicians, peaceful protests and speech, legit outreach by organizations to change material conditions, and violence and threat of violence to actually bring enough people around that it was advantageous for them to make change.
And if we look at what we’ve talked about in this conversation, we’re in a space where the material conditions are shit for most people, it’s powerful corporations that are dictating that through politicians, that without the right type of pressure on both the politicians and the corporations have no reason to change.
And that’s leading us towards a scary potential of fascism between what you’re… How do we combine messaging and actual outreach to create provable, duplicatable outcomes on a small scale that jump off to a bigger scale? Like, what’s something we can begin to do now, today, together to show as a test, “Over the last 30 days, we were able to accomplish X, Y, and Z”?
Greg: Yeah. I mean, I don’t have an easy answer, but I think that is the key question, and I think that’s a question that individuals need to answer for themselves because each of us is unique with our own special skillsets and opportunities.
What I can do is very different than what you can do. But the more that we can put effort into trying to focus our time into solving problems and finding people to collaborate with, the better we can create distributed solutions to our problems and to be less dependent on top-down power, either through the corporations or through government.
FBombs4U: While I agree with you, I think a through-line problem I’m hearing is people on the right have no problem assuming themselves the leader and telling people, “This is what we should do.” People on the left, I think we have a tendency of saying a little less than that. That we say people can find their way, these are things they can do. But I think they need to be led at this point for now. Where I think if you give people the choice of, “Find what’s important to you,” verse all the narratives being thrown at them, it’s easier for them to work their job, deal with their family, and just follow the narratives than do more effort that in their mind, they’re just told is evil and bad.
FBombs4U: I said it. The Amazing Atheist does this too. He says he wants to be king. And normally what I like to do when I explain propaganda to people, in the way that Trump is all-powerful, Elon’s all-powerful but also the victim, and you just need to support them, that’s real propaganda.
But in reality, I’m the one with all the answers. And I am retired and I’m working, but I can’t do this alone, so I really need your help. Even though I have all the answers, I need you to support and follow. I’m just re-propagandizing the exact same message while showing propaganda. I’m playing the all-powerful and victim while explaining that’s what propaganda is. But I think it’s real though.
Greg: This is what I hear from most people. Everyone comes forward, and they’re like, “This has got to stop. I need to do something.” And very quickly they determine that they know what’s right, they know why everyone else is wrong, and all that needs to happen is for everyone to start listening to me instead.
FBombs4U: Yeah, yeah. [Laughter]
Greg: I’ve been there myself. And the more that I put work into it, the more that I’m confident in my own opinion, but I’m still just…
Greg: As long as it’s a whole bunch of us with the only answer trying to be heard, nobody is going to be heard.
FBombs4U: And I think what we need to be able to do is as a community, start to come together and unify message so that it isn’t like… There’s been a steady discourse about people that platform alt-right people.
FBombs4U: I tend to take a different take on it because people are saying, “Don’t do this,” but there’s no quantifiable answer for what they’re saying, and so it’s hard for me to emotionally say, “Don’t do this,” when doing…
Greg: To do what?
FBombs4U: The argument is should you allow alt-right people on a debate panel… because you’re bringing basically a Nazi into the conversation. Some people say you’re legitimizing it, and you’re allowing them to spread. I say that that’s how I feel, but I also think there is something to be said for humanizing a person of color and letting conservatives and right people who aren’t exposed to that be more exposed to it and then start to jump ship onto different content, from the alt-right pipeline to just something centrist. Which to me, if you leave them alone, they’re going to be radicalized.
Greg: I’m not sure that centrist really means much of anything.
FBombs4U: No, I just mean neutral.
Greg: Neutral to what though?
FBombs4U: They’re not supporting progressive, and they’re not supporting suppression of speech and abortion and these things.
Greg: Someone supporting the old status quo.
FBombs4U: Yeah. Like a Lib. I mean, basically.
Greg: Yeah, okay.
FBombs4U: A NIMBY.
Greg: Yeah, yeah. That makes sense. But in that framing, I don’t see centrist as being a positive thing. There’s ideas of centrism that I can get behind, but that is one that I would not support.
FBombs4U: It’s a positive compared to radicalization to fascism. I’m trying to keep fasciticus potentialis from becoming fasciticus actualalis.
Greg: Yeah. I think the answer there is to address the underlying problems. Focus on the underlying issues.
FBombs4U: Do we have time before fascism takes over America?
Greg: Well, we only ever have now.
FBombs4U: Yeah. Yes, okay.
Greg: Is it too soon?
FBombs4U: That’s why it’s all hands on deck.
Greg: Too late? Yeah.
FBombs4U: It’s all hands on deck.
Greg: I mean, I’ve been saying these are the types of issues we need to address for years now. You always start from where you are, and you need to figure out a path forward, and the longer we hold off on addressing the underlying issues, the harder it becomes to address them.
I mean, it would be great if Trump had been held accountable before January 6th. Because then, maybe we wouldn’t have had the violent attack on our capital, and half of our government trying to decertify an election.
Greg: It was clear to me that this was going to happen.
FBombs4U: Yeah, yes.
Greg: Because they were saying it.
Greg: [Laughter] Like their words. They were saying it, and then they did it, and then everyone was surprised. Like, I was on the phone with a friend of mine at the time, and I was trying to tell him that either on the 6th or the 20th, something was going to happen.
Greg: And then I was like, “They’ve entered the Capitol building,” and his answer was, “No, they didn’t,” and I’m like, “Okay… So, apparently, I’m listening to earlier news sources than you are.”
FBombs4U: I mean, just think about the idea that as a nation, we were tuned in to that event.
FBombs4U: That event happens every four years, I didn’t even know it happened. And this year, we were watching it like we were waiting for a soccer brawl.
Greg: Yeah. So, there was the Mueller report, right? And there was no impeachment after it. Why not?
FBombs4U: Because they were chickenshit. It was political.
Greg: Yeah. So, they thought it would be politically disadvantageous to attempt it. That’s the impression that I got. Because the concern was that the GOP would just say that impeachments are purely political, and they would not honor their oaths, and they would tell us he was innocent even though he was guilty…
Greg: …because that’s what they’re allowed to do.
Greg: And eventually, they did impeach, and they allowed the GOP to block subpoena requests, they allowed them to not be able to collect enough information, and then they went forward with an impeachment that did not have details.
Greg: And the Republicans basically said, “You haven’t proved anything. I’m not an impartial juror. I expect this to fall along political lines,” and then they voted not to convict. Well, now what I would argue is a criminal behavior, I have to imagine that the point of oaths is that…
FBombs4U: It’s the biggest crime of my life.
Greg: Right. This should have been the fight the whole time.
Greg: But instead, they were waiting for an election, an election that the opposition was not going to accept the results of. It went not as badly as it could have, but I mean, there was literally a militia with heavy weaponry across the river waiting for the call from Trump to say to activate. That’s not a position we want to be in.
FBombs4U: No, or that we’ve even addressed.
FBombs4U: I guess that’s why, to me, I battle daily between I want to run down the street with pots and pans trying to get somebody to listen to me like I’m a brickyard preacher…
Greg: I bought a bullhorn. [Laughter]
FBombs4U: …verse I have a plan; I can only continue to work on that plan and do it the best I can. I can’t control the outcome; I can only control the inputs. I can focus on improving those inputs constantly, but I’m at a point where I kind of already know where in Montevideo, Uruguay, I would go.
Because I knew in 2016 that that might have been our last real election, and we were literally Pence in a garage away from it. And I know there’s only so much I can do, and so in a realistic expectation way, I’m not approaching this with panic, but with… What’s… Other than [Foreign Language 01:00:12], which is a Hebrew word, I’m trying to think of what.
There’s an intensity without it trying to be like fervor. Urgency, yeah. Urgency without it feeling like a panic. And I just focus every day on that starfish and if between the things I’m doing to grow visibility outside of message and the message itself, that’s all I can do.
Hey, I just want to say I really appreciate this call. If this is something you’d like to do regularly, I think we could have good conversations and actually come up with some reasonable ideas.
Greg: Sure. Yeah. That sounds good to me. I’m always looking for people to work with.
FBombs4U: Nice. Fantastic. Well, can you do me a favor and plug wherever people can find you, and Auntie, if you’re able, can you throw whatever links? Your pronouns, I assume, are he, him?
FBombs4U: Yeah, you.
FBombs4U: Okay. Auntie, if you’ll throw his whatever links he mentions, but yeah, if you’ll let us know where we can find you so everybody can start to follow.
Greg: Yeah. So, I just launched a new website, techstoa.com
FBombs4U: Actually, I have that one.
Greg: So, I write there. I’ve got some high-level ideas around the projects that I want to be working on. Most of that stuff’s on hold at the moment, I’ve just got a day job. But then otherwise, I’m heavily active on Twitter engaging with people, having conversations. Yeah, so I write there and…
FBombs4U: Okay. So, hold on. Let me do this with the Twitter. How do I copy links? So, everybody go follow. You go by Greg, Gregory?
Greg: Usually Greg.
FBombs4U: Okay. Oh, my gosh. I’m hitting all the wrong buttons, it’s so funny. Okay, perfect. I will reach out. I try to do something on regular so people can expect it, and seeing as you’re working, Saturdays would probably be a good [Laughter] time for you.
Greg: So, I’m divorced, so every other Saturday I’m with my kids. But on the Saturdays when I’m free, it works well.
FBombs4U: Okay, yeah. Most of the things I like to do don’t have to be every week. I actually just started a new show called A Weed Get-Together that the next one’ll be next Thursday. And it’s just a few of us streamers getting together just talking some bullshit and some stoner stuff, trying to like… So, I grew up a late ’80s, early ’90s rap kid, and they always had to put radio stuff on every CD or every tape because that was the only way anybody would play them on the radio because they wouldn’t play rap until the late ’90s on the radio. So, that’s kind of what I look at, and I like to create some nonpolitical content to at least get some attention to places where they can get political content.
Greg: It makes sense. One of the other things I have on the website is a link to some playlists. I’ve been collecting relevant music as well.
FBombs4U: Is that the music one?
FBombs4U: Okay, dope. Awesome.
Greg: Yeah, there’s some rap in there, but there’s all sorts of different types of music.
FBombs4U: Awesome. And then I’m going to re-post this one, this was the article you gave us, because this fit perfect for what we’ve been talking about lately. And yeah, thank you so much. I really appreciate getting to do this. Thank you.
Greg: Yeah. No problem.
FBombs4U: All right. Have a good one.