Preparing for what’s next…

In 1997, I established the ResourcesForLife.com website as an online venue for engaging in public interest work and supporting others who work to make the world a better place. 

To fund those efforts, rather than asking for donations, I planned to start businesses that would generate surplus revenue to cover the cost of my outreach efforts. That model worked well for 24 years.

Since there were no big-money donors or advertisers, I was unrestrained in the challenges I could undertake and the commentary I would write.

Through writings, videos, public speaking, and direct outreach, I hoped to positively impact education, the environment, healthcare, consumer rights, worker rights, housing, civic engagement, and other areas. 

One of my favorites areas of public interest work has been consumer advocacy. An example would be a negotiation I had with Apple that reduced the cost of a product by 90%. In 2003, the song American Pie was selling for $9.99 on iTunes (purchase of the entire album was required). I negotiated with Apple’s legal counsel at the time, arguing that their advertising promised songs for 99-cents. After an extended dialog over many days, I won that negotiation. My time was volunteered. I received nothing personally of monetary value, and there was no news coverage of the victory. But the satisfaction of having won against Apple still inspires me to this day. There were similar successes over the years and also some bewildering instances where companies would not back down from engaging in short-sighted, self-destructive practices.

In 2012, I launched the Threat News Radar project with the goal of tracking news of global issues that threatened the environment, human rights, government stability, and the world in general. By 2018, there were so many of these threats in the news that it was no longer possible to write individual articles about them. So, I would share the dozens of weekly stories through social media. It required less time to write a short summary and provide a link. Now, in 2021, there are so many of these reports daily that it’s not possible to keep up. 

In recent days, there have been reports of 1,200-year droughts as well as numerous 1,200-year floods around the world. Now there are websites dedicated to reporting on the massive floods we are witnessing globally. Fires in the west are creating thick haze and air quality issues impacting Chicago and even New York. Southwestern states are running out of water. A lack of interest in curtailing viral threats is resulting in cycles of more contagious variants of greater lethality. The seriousness and frequency of all these threats continue to increase. Last year in Iowa, we had a storm that left 300,000 people without power. 

Four days ago, more than 32,000 websites and apps went down, including those from Amazon, American Express, AT&T, Costco, FedEx, GoDaddy, LastPass, McDonald’s, UPS, US Bank, Vanguard, and about 32,000 others. It’s not yet known if this was the result of human error or malicious hacker activity. But does it really matter what the cause was? These incidents of massive outages and security breaches are increasing in frequency and impact.

The U.S. national debt continues to increase every second, with seemingly no concern that it be paid down. Regional population growth exceeds the availability of water and other resources required to support life. Indeed, the world population continues to grow at a rapid rate, resulting in regional scarcities that produce strife, war, and suffering.

Given the above facts, it’s even more important than ever that we not dwell on what’s wrong in the world. It’s also equally important that we not ignore global threats. Those of us who care should focus on solutions. We should do what we can to raise awareness and take positive action in our own lives.

For these reasons, in preparing for what’s next, I’m focused on pursuing minimalism and simplifying my life. I am getting rid of possessions I’m not using. I also am looking for ways to simplify my digital life. Over the past few days, I’ve reduced the ResourcesForLife.com website to a single simple webpage. It had grown to be too much for one person to manage, and much of the content was outdated. The cost in time and money to maintain the site was excessive, and the website in itself produced no revenue.

The global priorities and urgency have dramatically shifted, and we all need to adjust accordingly. I’m currently evaluating where my time and resources can be better invested to have the greatest positive impact in the world.

I’ll report more in the days to come about my plans for what’s ahead. I’ll continue to provide tech services since that is my personal area of expertise and the best way to help those who depend on me.

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  • This article is part 3 in a series on the need for minimalism. Parts 1 and 2 are in my most recent monthly updates. [Part 1 | Part 2]
  • The photo above is from a visit to the Hoover Dam on 23 Dec 2019.
  • To signup for my short monthly email for news about what’s going on in my life, please click here.

There’s no coupon code for freedom.

Freedom is somewhat of an abstract word. Politicians often use it to stir patriotic sentiments and for virtue signaling. Yet, most people would be hard-pressed to describe what freedom actually is.

There’s certainly potential for freedom in America: the freedom to choose a career path, start a business, travel, live where you want, start a family, practice religion (or not), enjoy parks, and pursue numerous diversions.

But the potential for freedom isn’t the same as ensuring that everyone has unobstructed opportunities for their own experience of freedom.

A strong military provides a defense against an armed invasion. Cyber-defense specialists protect against online threats.

However, there are many other obstacles to freedom.

If people don’t have access to quality education and vocational training, how will they grow in a career that can provide them some financial freedom? Without a relatively good-paying job, many people work two or more jobs living paycheck to paycheck. In Tennessee, college education, internships, mentoring, and vocational training are guaranteed to all residents. It’s an initiative that aims at promoting individual freedom. That program is working.

Healthy people are well enough to work, and that employment provides access to quality healthcare. Those who are sick, can’t work, and without a job typically don’t have access to affordable healthcare. So, the people in greatest need of healthcare can’t get it, and those who are healthy enough to have access to it mostly don’t need it. Some states have established programs to make healthcare more accessible to all.

We have the strongest military in the world, but to someone without a job, without a home, and without good health, the sacrifice of our soldiers doesn’t get fully manifested. We can build high walls to keep others out, but if we don’t have a high quality of life guaranteed for all citizens, what are the walls accomplishing?

In addition to the personal building blocks of freedom for an individual’s life, there are social institutions that help keep our nation free.

The freedom we collectively experience requires ongoing maintenance and upkeep. Institutions of education, libraries, a free and independent press, the courts, and people fulfilling their civic duties are all part of what keeps democracy working. According to Nicholas Johnson, these are the Columns of Democracy.

Try running a car without oil. You won’t get far. Democracy without all of its supportive pillars won’t go far either.

It’s all about freedom—that simple word with so much meaning for so many people.

This July 4, when you think about independence and freedom, consider all that is required to promote and defend freedom for individuals and our country. Let’s appreciate all of those who help support the entire ecosystem that freedom and democracy rely on.

Freedom isn’t free. There’s no discount coupon or special offer code. It’s a lot of work for the individual and for a country.

Happy Independence Day.

The fireworks photo at the top of this page is from a trip to Lake Tahoe during the July 4 celebrations in 2018.

Jobs That Promote Freedom

Here’s a PBS NewsHour video from 1 Jul 2021 on the topic of providing education, experience, vocational training, and apprenticeship programs that will give them a career boost and greater financial independence.

Traditional Patriotism

Lee Greenwood is known for his song “God Bless the USA” in which it is proclaimed “The flag still stands for freedom, and they can’t take that away.” Last year, Greenwood, collaborated with The United States Air Force Band, Singing Sergeants, and the music group Home Free, to produce a new version of that song. A video of their recording is below. This is an example of traditional patriotism which is still popular today.