Author Topic: Timebanks  (Read 1266 times)

Offline ScottK

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Timebanks
« on: December 03, 2012, 02:17:09 PM »
Did a search on the boards, doesn't look that anybody has ever talked about them before.  Surprising.  Anybody have experiences with these type of organizations?  Any opinions?

Offline archer

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Re: Timebanks
« Reply #1 on: December 03, 2012, 10:19:46 PM »
No idea what it is..


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Offline ScottK

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Re: Timebanks
« Reply #2 on: December 04, 2012, 03:36:50 PM »
Timebanks are the idea that instead of putting value is an object (oil, gold, paper currency, etc) which is completely subjective when it comes down to brass tacs; the value is in people.  What has real value is time, and more specifically human time.  I am probably not best person to explain it because I have my own biases.  But the idea in my opinion is that no one is special, everybody's time and knowledge is worth the same amount.  You can rack up a good bit of human time to do projects that are on your mind if you have the skills others are looking for and you put in your time for others, that is the differentiator.  It isn't altruism IMHO; it is truly realizing the value in people.  Trying to value things thru money or other products decouples and separates the fact that time is the most valuable thing to every person.  Barter and currency makes things too abstract, people lose the starting ethic of why money exists to start with (very much why casinos give you chips instead of having you play with actual bills).

So you are able to trade work needed for your knowledge and skills in time not money.  It is the purest form of barter.  I have read a good deal about it, and it is a concept that I think mainly works in a services type of setting.  If you need to actually manufacture something or a specific product, that would be a trick with Timebanking.  It isn't impossible, but the mechanics of how you get there are fuzzy for me.  Anyway, timebanks are marketed as community building vehicles, I can see that.  From a survival point-of-view, I think this concept is a big winner in building community, and starting to build a network of people that know each others strengths and weaknesses.  I do believe that the lone wolf concept of survival is stupid, the majority of people are not roaming around the woods aimlessly or accidentally; but we do need to figure out how best to work together, and value each other.

General info about timebanks:  http://timebanks.org/

Offline bigbear

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Re: Timebanks
« Reply #3 on: December 05, 2012, 10:58:29 AM »
But the idea in my opinion is that no one is special, everybody's time and knowledge is worth the same amount.  You can rack up a good bit of human time to do projects that are on your mind if you have the skills others are looking for and you put in your time for others, that is the differentiator.  It isn't altruism IMHO; it is truly realizing the value in people. 

The time spent to gain said knowledge or skill means that a one time job would be different.  Like an engineer spends 10,000 hours (just making that up) to know the in-out of weight loads, building codes, or whatever.  An hour of that person's time working on a my blueprint would be need to account for his 10,000 hours spent learning his skill.  And if 1,000 people are requesting help with their blueprints, and he's the only engineer in the bunch, then his time should be worth even more than the 10,000 hours spent learning his skill and the demand is greater than the supply. 

Whereas how long does it take to learn how to walk a dog?  It might take the engineer 7 hours to work up the blueprints, and it would take a dogwalker 7 hours to walk my dog while I'm on vacation.  But their time spent is not the same.

That said, I like the concept.  Time is 'money.'  When the details are accounted for in a dynamic way, then it definitely has potential, especially in a transition economy and in building community as you mentioned.
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Offline rikkrack

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Re: Timebanks
« Reply #4 on: December 05, 2012, 12:11:46 PM »
I like the idea and I barter a lot. Made lots of dumb purchases when I thought stuff is what matters. Now rather than attempt to sell those mistakes I barter for things I do want. What once cost me $3000 i traded for something $300 because I had no use for the $3000 items and can use the $300 item regularly. My value of the original items decreased significantly because I had no use for it anymore.

I think in the example given above that maybe the engineer has the dog. It is very valuable for him to have someone walk the dog, he works at home. Without the walk, the dog distracts him from his engineering work. However, someone else who uses the same dog walker may not have the same value of time i.e. teacher who can do it when they get home but would rather have the dog get walked while at work and then relax with the dog when they get home.

I think the value of the time is up to the individuals just as bartering is. What one person values one thing is not the same as another. flat rates may not be applicable in some situations.

I still like the concept. since you already did a search interesting to see if others my look to timeback through here. Not as easy as when living in close proximity. Web service for...xxx or transcription work for....

Has anyone had any experiences with the sites or groups that use this now?
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Offline ScottK

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Re: Timebanks
« Reply #5 on: December 06, 2012, 05:32:01 AM »
I think you give people that spend time learning too much credit; when their actual 'value' might be quite marginal.  As a working engineer, I am that person you talk about, spending lots of time gaining knowledge and understanding how things works, and making products for customers.  However, I am not so high strung to see my knowledge as some type of entitlement. or my abilities as more valuable than next person's.  I am only as good as my last project.  I have had to knock a few other engineers and scientists dicks in the dirt because they walk around thinking they are some type of savior to the world.  I think this comes from society's lust to worship at the religion of science.

I read an interview with Mike Rowe, and he said something to the effect of he has met more millionaires covered in crap than he could have ever imagined.  I think people like this are going to be highly valuable as we move into the future because everybody wants some type of while-collar job, and people that get their hands dirty or have real skills making stuff with be in low supply.  People in the sciences will always be in high demand, because it requires hard math and more perseverance than most people care to conjure up.  It is the people in the middle, the ones with soft degrees (business, psychology, law, etc.), that should probably be shaking in their boots.  Those people, unfortunately I would argue, are over rewarded for pushing paper rather than actually getting something accomplished at the end of the day.  Not to say they are any less valuable, but over rewarded for what makes 'all boats rise' in society.

The best piece of knowledge I ever got out of school was from my material professor.  On a night when we were in the shop learning how to mill things, he turned around, and told us pointblank:  When a machinist tells you 'that can't be made' you need to shut-up and listen.  Because you can draw whatever you want in a CAD program, but these guys are actually making things out of real materials, and you need to understand what they are telling you.

That has stuck with me since that class in '95, and I have had to tell that story to so many engineers because they just don't get it.  We still get Solidworks models that have issues once it hits the floor of the fab even with all the CNC and laser cutting equipment, and for all the optical path modeling software, reality of laser power coming out the other end and spot size is such a gross error, I do question the need for the modeling step.  This is a can of worms, I will just let it rest for now; just don't go there.

I think the part you missed is this.  Sure someone doesn't have to be super skilled to be a dog walker.  But if you a hundred people posting that they will walk dogs, and only one person with blueprint making skills, how many hours do you think each person would have in their timebank buckets at the end of the day?  I would guess, the engineer would have 7 hours available to get other work done that he needs; while one person would have an hour for walking the engineer's dog, and 99 others would still have zero.  Those 99 people would start to expand their skill set.

If life was purely cerebral, then the engineer would win hands-down; but it isn't, and I can see a lot of value in people doing what others might consider mundane, brain-dead work.


Offline flippydidit

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Re: Timebanks
« Reply #6 on: December 06, 2012, 09:45:13 AM »
<--------Machinist.

ScottK, you explained what I've gone through for many years now.  Explaining to a design engineer what reality does to their pretty model.  If it can't be made, they don't want to accept it.  So we junk some metal, put wear on the machines, and blow manhours building him a prototype of a non-functioning model that does not meet his tolerances to SHOW him what his pretty model is in reality.

Sorry that I didn't have anything to add to the timebank discussion, but you touched a nerve and wanted to get that off my chest.  Please continue!

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Offline bigbear

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Re: Timebanks
« Reply #7 on: December 06, 2012, 01:17:20 PM »
Perhaps I overvalue the time spent learning and developing a skill or trade.  And I'm definitely 'tainted' by the natural 'laws' of a free market. 

But you've essentially summed up my main point (being the value of time is not equal) here:
I have had to knock a few other engineers and scientists dicks in the dirt because they walk around thinking they are some type of savior to the world. 

One expert's gained knowledge (education, wisdom, experience, understanding, humility, passion, insert the 'it' factor needed) can be more valuable to a consumer than another expert's.  And much of that expertise requires time (and to some extent ability, but that needs time to be harnessed and sharpened). 

For something that could/would take me (or any other Joe) years to develop (and has already taken you years to develop), I value that development in another person if there is a need that I can't fill myself whether the limitation is time, ability, experience...  And I would pay more for a guy like you (who understands his limits and appreciates the expertise of others) than for some brash know-it-all who has no concept of materials. 

IMO, time as currency has some hurdles.  Your time drafting means more to me (and hopefully to many other people) than your time walking my dog.  It would be charitable of you to draft something for me at the same time rate as it would cost me to walk my dog.  Conversely, I'd feel ripped off if you charge me the same rate to walk my dog as it would to draft an addition to my house.  Would you trade one hour of drafting time for one hour of dog walking time?  If so, I believe you're undervaluing your abilities (or overvaluing your dog walking abilities  :o). 
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Offline ScottK

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Re: Timebanks
« Reply #8 on: December 06, 2012, 05:24:55 PM »
I assume you haven't had to board a dog lately?!?  Granted, boarding is different than merely walking, but it will definitely give you some sticker shock.  Those guys have a good little racket going on.  The most basic service (just barely more than walking) would make some people consider taking the gamble of taking the pet to the pound, and maybe being able to find it when they get back.

Look, there is nothing wrong in valuing people's knowledge, but their is a good section of the population that has over inflated their abilities, and what it might be worth in funny money.  I am not talking about people that pad their resumes with false info.  I mainly focus on those that are very book smart, but don't have a lick of common sense.  These people couldn't determine their way out of a paper bag.  Lots of knowledge hanging on the wall; but when the rubber meets the road, they cause more problems than they are worth.  Be careful evaluating what you think you are buying.

That is one reason why I say 'You are only as good as your last project.'  It matters somewhat if it succeed or failed, but can you explain the lessons learned from it, and move quickly on the information moving forward?  I tell my kids all the time, fail, and fail quickly.  Because failure is the only way you really learn; if you get the answer the first time, you think it is instinctual (and we all know that is BS).  But failure provides enlightenment worth its weight a million times over.

Too many people try to live in the present based on their past accomplishments.  Most of that past is more nostalgia for them than value to the next person.

But time is eternal, constant, a nasty taskmaster, and is outside of human manipulation.  That is what makes it the perfect currency.  The question becomes, do you truly stratify the layers of humanity and subjugate it for mere knowledge?  I say 'No.'

To answer your question, I have to value them the same, because I do believe the purpose of timebanks is to build community.  When most people don't have the foggiest idea what it means to neighbor anymore.  The payoff, much like failure, is more than you can imagine.
« Last Edit: December 06, 2012, 05:31:55 PM by ScottK »

Offline blademan

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Re: Timebanks
« Reply #9 on: December 06, 2012, 08:22:54 PM »
Scott,
   I like where you are going. I have a lot of ideas and opinions on this and I don't want to type out a thesis here. However, just like any unitary economic system, it has problems and short falls. It is an excelent way to diversify an economy. Think of tri metalic, direct barter, and time in one system. One could agree which one wanted to use in a transaction. It gives excelent hedges against inflation and shortages. Its a tought issue. Not as tough as some would say and not for the same reasons, but it is tough. I'm kinda off the cuffing this so if it seems to have holes in it, that because it probably does. Hmmm, I'm interested I hearing what others have to say about this.
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Offline TexDaddy

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Re: Timebanks
« Reply #10 on: December 06, 2012, 08:38:24 PM »
Supply and demand has to be accounted for.

For example:

A 1000 people want x, but there is only one x avaiable.

There are 1000 y's available, but only one person wants one.

Therefore x is NOT equal to y.
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Offline ScottK

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Re: Timebanks
« Reply #11 on: December 07, 2012, 09:04:28 AM »
OK...I thought I coverd that in my little example of 99 dogwalkers with zero hours ???

Sorry I am going to have to get into some engineering lingo, but it best describes what I feel is unneeded fear on people's part:

The problem with statements such as "Supply and Demand must be met" is they are looking for some type of instantaneous response and equalization (a transient response) versus a steady-state response and stabilization of the system.  It is as if people can't trust that long term, for all the undulations that can be seen at any moment of time, you will have an ordered system.  Your feedback control loop in this situation is a PID, the PID is people overcoming fear that is in their head and putting faith and trust in people, and always applying grace because none of us are living a perfect life.  Everybody is expecting a resonate frequency to be hit, and everything go bonkers and fall apart, so 'get yours' while you can.  That means that we have advanced mere microns from when we were being chased by dinosaurs.  You are dividing by zero, that is undefined, and is very sad.

For all those Ys you mentioned.  I said, they will need to go expand their skill set.  That will begin the equalization process.  For that moment though, they are still eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches they made; while the engineer has time to hire a chef for an hour or two to make a nice meal.

I am not saying timebanking is perfect, nothing is, but the currency gets out of a subjective state and outside of human control, and becomes neutral to all the misgivings and shortsightedness that people value in money.  I am still a bit hazy on if the mechanics could work to get me tickets to the latest philharmonic show, but the simple answer is, square peg, round hole, it requires something different.  Everybody wants a universal adaptor, but the real answer probably is, a universal solution does nothing well and only meets the needs of the lowest common denominator.  Multiple methods of currency are needed so that they truly represent the value in what commerce is happening at the moment.

My argument would be, any commerce between people that is merely performing services for another, or a product of relative easy production (ebooks, knowledge transfer, printed analysis of piping system, etc.), could be accomplished in a timebanking environment.  How I get gas in my car, airline tickets to Kenya, or prototyping a new product in a rapid prototyper requires something else.

Offline TexDaddy

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Re: Timebanks
« Reply #12 on: December 07, 2012, 09:53:28 AM »
Without even getting into whether or not a babysitter's one hour is or is not worth the same as a neurosurgeon's one hour, I can state that even an hour of Mechanic A's time is not automatically worth the same amount as Mechanic B's time. Training, experience, diligence, productivity, work ethic, etc. are all very individual. Humans are not interchangeable cogs.

« Last Edit: December 07, 2012, 10:28:07 AM by TexDaddy »
"I went down Virginia, seekin' shelter from the storm.
Caught up in the fable, I watched the tower grow.
Five year plans and new deals, wrapped in golden chains.
And I wonder, still I wonder who'll stop the rain."

...A quote from the book 'Mataroda' comes to mind:
'To do more than your best is impossible, to do less is unthinkable'
WWCD = What would Cedar do?

Offline chrisdfw

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Re: Timebanks
« Reply #13 on: December 07, 2012, 10:11:26 AM »
Without even getting into whether or not a babysitter's one hour is or is not worth the same as a neurosurgen's one hour, I can state that even an hour of Mechanic A's time is not automatically worth the same amount as Mechanic B's time. Training, experience, diligence, productivity, work ethic, etc. are all very individual. Humans are not interchangeable cogs.

Yes, my entire lifestyle is pretty much built on my time being worth more than the people I hire to do things for me.

If my time was not more valuable than other people's then there is no way I could hire them. And in turn they would spend less. In the end, the economy just wouldn't really work. There are some things that people can't do for 80 hours a week, or shouldn't, like perform neurosurgery, so its best if we allow people's time to be exchanged at different rate.

Offline Shaunypoo

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Re: Timebanks
« Reply #14 on: December 07, 2012, 10:38:00 AM »
Too many variables.  Some value book learning, some value common sense.  Some value order and reason, some value ingenuity.  Money (with all it's shortcomings) has a certain predetermined value.  While this value can change, it changes for everyone.  And I think most people need something concrete to barter with, whether it is money or objects.  Barter with services is so variable that I don't know that it can be standardized.  It is great for interaction, but doesn't go much beyond a basic level.

If you are one of the y that need to diversify their skills, where do they get the currency needed if there is no demand for what they currently can do?  How many times do you have to walk the neurosurgeons' dog before he will teach you neurosurgery?
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Offline blademan

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Re: Timebanks
« Reply #15 on: December 07, 2012, 03:42:52 PM »
The worth of someone skill multiplied by their time is only part of the equation. If all you have to offer is neurosurgery, you have to find people who need that. That's why you need to more or less equalize what hours are worth. The rate can be variable. I mean if the neursurgeon need babysitting or dog walking, then he needs something to trade with the service provider and neurosurgery way not be it. If all he has is neurosurgery hours to trade with, the he only has value in a specific situation. How can he trade services with someone who needs neurosurgery? They are about to have their head cut open. So you have to have a system in which he can earn a reserve of hours to trade for anything. Similar to what we have with money. But arrogance or ego if you want to call it that, kicks in and a neurosurgeon decides he doesn't want to exchange his services at the same rate as a babysitter or dog walker. Instead of being happy doing what he likes to do he compares his value to someone else's.
  Maybe I'm not doing a good job of explaining this. But what I'm saying is that you should determine what value who you are and what you do in life in the context of how you feel about it and what good you do in your community instead of in the context of how you measure up to everyone else. Maybe I'm naïve, but I would rather derive enjoyment directly from what I choose to do rather than how much better I think it makes me than an arbitrary value I assign to the importance of someone else. Sorry if this doesn't make sense.
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Offline osubuckeye4

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Re: Timebanks
« Reply #16 on: December 07, 2012, 04:48:15 PM »
Before I do anything I always run a very quick check in my head where I ask myself two questions:

1) Is this going to make me happy?

2) Is this going to net me a gain? (financially, emotionally, spiritually?)


If the answer to both of those questions is no, I don't do it.


Time is extremely valuable and SOOO many people undervalue their time.


A good phrase that someone told me was as follows, "Don't get so distracted trying to save .10 cents that you end up costing yourself a chuck of time in which you could have gone out and earned a dollar"

It applies to both monetary and non-monetary endeavors.
« Last Edit: December 07, 2012, 05:10:16 PM by osubuckeye4 »

Offline chrisdfw

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Re: Timebanks
« Reply #17 on: December 07, 2012, 05:29:28 PM »
  Maybe I'm not doing a good job of explaining this. But what I'm saying is that you should determine what value who you are and what you do in life in the context of how you feel about it and what good you do in your community instead of in the context of how you measure up to everyone else. Maybe I'm naïve, but I would rather derive enjoyment directly from what I choose to do rather than how much better I think it makes me than an arbitrary value I assign to the importance of someone else. Sorry if this doesn't make sense.

I don't assign any arbitrary value to anything, I get what I can in the market for the expertise I can deliver. I have a good life because one hour of my labor, buys me many hours of other people's labor. I enjoy leisure time because I have worked to develop my skills, reputation and knowledge. To trade that for someone else's hour mowing my grass is arbitrary, so no, I won't trade an hour of my labor for an hour of most people's labor, but I am sometimes willing to trade an hour of my labor (in dollar terms) for 15 minutes of someone else's time if that person can write prescriptions and diagnose illnesses.

The fact is that we have long ago left a world where everyone's labor is worth the same, whether you measure it in time, dollars, gold, silver, etc. Its not arrogance that says a neurosurgeon should get more (time/dollars/gold/value) out of their time than a (babysitter/lawn mower/fast food worker), its supply and demand. Like gravity it is foolish to ignore economics.

Offline blademan

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Re: Timebanks
« Reply #18 on: December 07, 2012, 06:20:31 PM »
A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”  Robert Heinlein
 
Thanks Shauny, I needed those words! Heinlein's words not withstanding, there are things that absolutely need specialization. Its not supply and demand alone that governs a market. That is true but not in the simplistic sense that "the law of supply and demand" is oft quoted.
      There is more than numbers that decide the value of something. Yes those things can be quantified, but its is arbitrary and academic.
     I really don't have all the expertise I need to express this in a conscise fashion so I won't try at the moment. I may come back to this thread if I figure out what it is I'm trying to say in fewer words than a few pages.
    Chris, and this is out of curiosity, what part of history were you refering to when everone's time and labor was valued the same? I don't remember that happening on a large scale or for very long.
   My point is that timebanks (in my opinion) as a unitary system of economics for the very reasons that have been mentioned here.  They are a very good component of an economy. They aren't efficient for many types of transactions.
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Offline Shaunypoo

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Re: Timebanks
« Reply #19 on: December 07, 2012, 07:52:05 PM »
I do love me some Heinlein.  See, if I can do all those things that Heinlein mentioned then I would be a busy boy.  And while I may be passable in most and proficient in some, I will be great at none.  Some things call for a Jack of all trades, some things need some serious expertise.  Maybe I can butcher a hog, but it will not be nearly the speed, precision, and efficiency of someone who does it daily for years.  They do essentially the same things, but one is worth more than the other.
“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”  Robert Heinlein

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Offline blademan

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Re: Timebanks
« Reply #20 on: December 07, 2012, 08:34:29 PM »
My point is that timebanks (in my opinion) as a unitary system of economics for the very reasons that have been mentioned here.  They are a very good component of an economy. They aren't efficient for many types of transactions.
 
  What I meant to type was: "as a untiary economic system won't work for the very reasons mentiond here."



 Shauny. I too love heinlein. Starship troopers is a fun movie to watch but has almost nothing to do with the book. To the point of it would have been a better movie if they had called it something else. And why didn't they just drop a big fogger on the bug worlds? I mean really, hand to hand with giant arthopods? Someone planned poorly.
     
     Like I said I have a lot of thoughts on this kind of topic, but I usually enjoy having an actual conversation better because I tend to go off on tangents and divergent subjects when I write. Simply said, tokenized time and labor simply cannot be the sole currency of an economy. Its not dynamic enough.
Man's mind is his basic tool of survival.
Fear is the mind killer.

Two rules for a happy life:
1. Never sling shit at an armed man.
2. Never stand next to someone who is slinging shit at an armed man.