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While We Still Have Time

In spite of the grimness of the times in which we live, there is still hope. If you feel, like I do, that the usual discourse about matters of critical concern tends to be superficial, misguided, and false, then you might find some solace and inspiration here. I will try to offer insight and a holistic perspective on events and issues, and hopefully serve as a catalyst for raising the level of dialogue on this planet.

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Location: Madison, Wisconsin, United States

I was born in 1945, shortly before atom bombs were dropped on Japan. I served in the U.S. Army from 1968 to 1971. I earned master's degrees in Economics and Educational Psychology, and certificates in Web Page Design and as a Teacher of English as a Second Language. I followed an Indian guru for eight years, which immersed me in meditative practices and an attitude of reaching a higher level of being. A blog post listing the meditative practices I have pursued can be seen here.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

A part that reveals the whole

Free garage door opener certificateEvery once in a while I venture into some surreal realm, and the journey provides good information, and inspires new intuition about the state of the world. My job slowed down, and I found myself in a common predicament: the need to find something else to supplement my income. It's a little tiresome at this stage of my life to go out on the job market and start over, but millions in this country are in the same predicament.

I answered an ad for a "Lead Customer Relations Representative" for a local real estate-home builder-mortgage brokering operation named Veridian Homes. I applied for the job and went to a home buyer's seminar to get a feel for what the company was about. One of the first people I ran into was this guy. I knew right away I wasn't going to work for Veridian Homes.

I stuck around for the snacks, and then the presentation, which was an entry into an alternate reality. The false smiles and forced upbeatness about the business put me on guard, but I sensed something else. There was an uneasiness, a hint of fear in the fake cheerfulness. The strange atmosphere wasn't enough to keep me awake, though, and I dozed off several times during the series of sales pitches.

I got an email the next day telling me I was no longer under consideration for the position, much to my relief. I would rather be rejected than do the rejecting - just a matter of politeness. I also didn't want to go any farther in the interviewing process, which would be a waste of time. The job would have entailed "up to 55 hours a week" as a salaried employee. I could just see myself traipsing around town showing people houses and doing all the other "customer care" tasks the job entailed.

Free garage door opener letterA few days later I got a packet in the mail, including a certificate, no less, for a garage door opener if I would only buy a house before April 30. This seemed too bizarre to be true, but true it is. I can just picture the hordes of doubtful home buyers, wary about whether to buy a Veridian home, but a free garage door opener! Where do I sign?

Then the other night on News Hour I watched a segment that made the Gestalt complete. The subject of the segment was how high-risk mortgage foreclosures are likely to rise. The types of high-risk loans described sounded curiously similar to the Veridian 2/1 Buydown Program - a low interest rate the first year, a higher one the second year, and a higher fixed rate for the rest of the loan period.

All of this in a collapsing real estate market. No wonder there was such an air of uneasiness. A vertically integrated real estate business like Veridian would seem to make the home buying process easier, more seamless, and less expensive, but in an unhealthy market, it bears all the risk. As builder, real estate agency, and mortgage broker (they have a "cooperating" broker), three businesses in one lose in a tight market.

Which could be a long way of saying that I'm glad I don't meet Veridian's qualifications. More pertinent for society in general is that this is the nature of the business world in which we live. It's more fakery than anything else - businesses either producing shoddy, environmentally damaging products that are dangerous to health, providing jobs that are exploitative and oppressive, or depend on phony enticements and manipulation in order to sell their products. With a nation of people internalizing such occupations, it should be no surprise that we end up with a criminal gang occupying the White House.

After this descent into darkness, a little fun is called for. Click here. Then click here for another great song.

To read a little more about Veridian, click here.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Jonathan,

I just came across your blog and wanted to let you know that Veridian Homes values feedback, both positive and negative. We also wish you the best on your future endeavors.

Veridian Homes

3/20/2007 8:43 AM  
Blogger John Hamilton said...

Why, thanks there, Anonymous. My name isn't Jonathan. Maybe Anonymous is an alias for this guy.

If my feedback is so valuable, does that mean I get a free garage door opener?

3/20/2007 9:57 AM  

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