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November 2011

The Designated Difficult One

John A. Warnick:

There is nothing sadder than a parent or grandparent who has given up on their child or grandchild. 

Some years ago a lawyer from San Francisco, James Stillman, introduced me to a term and concept that radically changed the way I look at children or grandchildren who have been branded wayward, difficult or hostile. The term was “Designed Difficult One” of DDO for short.....When I shared the DDO concept with a cultural anthropologist recently she told me that in her experience the DDO is the “voice of the family system” and families benefit greatly from paying attention to their DDOs. 

DDOs from wealthy families can be found at large in pup tents Occupying venues otherwise dedicated to bidness as usual. Among the DDOs are tricksters, martyrs, pariahs, artists, the half crazy, those who bear witness. Family systems are what John is talking about. But family verges on the polis as well. And when the families are Dynastic (which is what John is talking about), the black sheep may be trying to save something more than themselves, their family, the family system, the family dynasty, the family spiderwebs of influence and control. More than their own face or their own ass, or money, what they may be trying to save is an artistic, moral, or political tradition in which "we" means all of us as a tribe, nation, or planet.

So many of these family moral physicians who would cure the sick Dynastic family are themselves wounded healers, blind leading the blind. They call sentimentality wisdom. They present sanctimony as discernment. Followers and lackies, they teach leadership. Fawning, they teach moral courage. They would patronize and recover the outcast young, and call the reintegration of the kid to the suffocating family system, mentoring. Their smarminess is contagious and infects an entire class of established and rising hegmons. The healthiest thing about many a thriving family is the sickest and most recalcitrant kid. To reform the sick kid produces and reproduces nothing but the horrowshow of the new normal. What mentor turned G.W. around and made him so normal, moral, vapid, vacuous, lethal, and good, as well as servicable to his class? Normal is disease we fools seek to cure.

Ms. Gary, would you agree? If Ms. Gary is not available, since she is probably making trouble somewhere even as we speak, I will cite Jesus (or maybe Judas) instead, from the Gospel of Judas, the Twin of Jesus"Bring me the stone the builders rejected, that is the cornerstone." 

A Morals Tutorial on Occupy Wall Street

From Yes Magazine, Ten Ways The Occupy Wall Street Movement Changes Everything. In particular it changes the villain in the piece from big government to Wall Street which has corrupted our government. The media, too, are a creature of bidnis. When the media find OWS incomprehensible it is no wonder. They see themselves as objective narrators, above the fray. OWS sees them, rightly, as mystified hirelings. As my mentor in prostitution, The Happy Tutor, once said, Outside the television station the mob waits to skin the moderator alive.  Of course the moderators say, "But wait, what are you demands? I don't understand?" Suffering is going to exponentially increase. Who decides who suffers how much? That equation may not be entirely in the hands of our corporations, the police, the CIA, the NSA, Supreme Court, black ops professionals, and the blissfully uncomprehending casters of news. When we sink into dysfunctional austerity for some, and untold riches for others, the pain will be felt by all, so I am told by Tutor, a sadist, turned teacher. Satire, he says, the Roman way, is still the best cure for the abuse of power: laceration, flaying, and brine to pickle the skinless flesh of the revamped, morally regenerate victim, or, pardon me, student Hard times call for a pariah, for scapegoats, for burning in effigy, and for the chorus of gleeful chants as the body burns crackling at the crossroads in expiation. Tutor is highly educated, if only from books tossed in his Dumpster by high school students on their way to the Mall of America. He tells me this is all Classical Learning. I am not sure of that, but he would know better than I. Bloodyminded, if you ask me, even if there are classical antecedents.

Abuse of power for abuse of power, as the good book (Martial) says, I can hear him now in the next room flaying a kidnapped moderator alive. To call this moral instruction is, in my opinion, an outrage. Special renditions, Tutor is yelling, Special renditions? I will render unto you...." Is this a bordello? A madhouse called Wealth Bondage? Or America the Beautiful? As for me, I await further instructions from my boss, the booted one, she who rules us all. Everything happens for a reason. She will tell me what it is, in her interview on the Nightly News.

The High Beta Rich are a Glamorous Menace

The High-Beta Rich: How the Manic Wealthy Will Take Us to the Next Boom, Bubble, and Bust, by Robert Frank

The rich are not only getting richer, they are becoming more dangerous. Starting in the early 1980s the top one percent (1%) broke away from the rest of us to become the most unstable force in the economy. An elite that had once been the flat line on the American income charts - models of financial propriety - suddenly set off on a wild ride of economic binges.   

The target market for the work I do training financial advisors and gift planners is the low beta rich:  Self  made people with closely held firms embedded in shops, farms, ranches, light fabrication companies, construction trades. They get almost no attention for their philanthropy and few can wrap their tongue around so many latinate syllables, but they are givers all the same. When the oil shock comes, and the lights flicker and go out, I want a friend who owns a generator and can fix a bicycle.   


Data on Social Justice Philanthropy at Commmunity Foundations

Albert Ruesaga and Barry Knight did a survey of community foundations re: and social justice funding. Albert's conclusions are mild, but I suspect his frustration is high. How hard is it for a community foundation to endorse fairness? Apparently, as with Occupy Wall Street, the message of every moral tradition, or any, save Ayn Rand, is having a hard time getting through. What means "social justice"? Such a puzzle! Close the blinds, Jeeves. Those riffraff in the streets beating tom toms. How can a funder think?