How does the AMEX Black Card relate to your happiness?
In the classic series of “The Lord of the Rings”, J.R.R. Tolkein had created a masterpiece of literature and allegory. I remember reading a bit from an interview with him once and was interested in his description of Frodo’s Ring of Power. For those of you who have not become familiar with this work yet, drop everything and go read those books!
In the interview, Tolkein kept referring to the ring as “The Machine”.This One Ring of Power which was forged by the evil lord Sauron was created to exploit the greed and power lust of man and to leverage the kings of men into become servants of the Dark Lord. His reference to “The Machine” has stood out because he was adamant in relating this evil with the trance of humanity and the onward “progression” of industry and commerce. The Machine has taken on a life of its own. It has driven mankind to value things that are arbitrary and to position themselves in a caste system of sorts. The elites have more of it- they are the Stewarts of the Machine. Tolkein saw this as the disease and the demise of mankind and his story contains much treasure on the subject.
This story has been on my mind as I have been watching friends of mine boast over the new Titanium AMEX “Black Cards” they have “earned” through American Express. I have watched friends lose themselves. The ploy is genius and sinister all at once. Spend a whole bunch of money every month and you can “earn the right to have our card”. There are privileges and powers that come with “membership” and you can be a cut above the rest. You get to cut in front of lines at airports or sit in fancy lounges. You can get extra first class tickets once you buy one from them (at 6-10x the cost of coach). You can flash it at a bar and get “chicks”. You have to have this thing or you’re nobody in this world. The ploy goes on and on. I see people change when they get them. They fall hook, line, and sinker, into the trap of materialism and this card is the perfect example of where humanity has fallen to in the Kali Yuga (Dark Age of our time). People establish their value on what kind of card a stupid bank has graced them with and society plays along. The Machine has gotten them- forgetting all that is important, they spend their hard-earned money on fancy dinners and over-priced hotel rooms- needing to spend enough to stay in the club.
Where do all of these “benefits” of AMEX come from? They come from US. Any merchant can tell you that AMEX charges the most out of all credit cards – about 3%. What does that mean? Well, every time you buy something at a store with their card, 3% of that money goes to AMEX. Merchants hate it. It’s a total mob shakedown. The customer doesn’t care but they don’t really see the whole process. The merchant is in business to make money so they factor this 3% into their cost of doing business. Guess what? They usually raise their prices to absorb that cost- that’s business. So guess who is paying AMEX all of that money? You are.
That’s right. We are spending MORE money by electing to use AMEX because we are feeding the beast- we are part of the machine. And the people with the beloved Black Cards? Well, they are the poster children for it. They get all the flashy cool benefits that we’ve been duped into wanting and we envy them- we want what they have. Have you ever tried to cash in their miles for anything? See what you get.
It is all a ploy- a ponzi scheme with a hypnotic trance running the show. I’d like to keep my 3% and spend it where I want, thank you very much. Our 3%, minus their cost of business (and huge profits) is then somehow coming back to me in the form of benefits that I “earned”? This is how the machine works. We’ve fallen asleep and have fallen for the shiny garbage that we have been told is desirable. Tolkein saw this in his day and we can see it now. The Ring of Power is designed to destroy the hearts of men and drive them away from all the is natural and good in this world. Temptation is its ally. The Ring leverages our insecurities and our ego’s weaknesses to leverage us, saying that we need to be better and of higher class than others. We need to separate ourselves from our fellow man and be “kingly”. Sadly, in Tolkein’s story, the Kings of Men all fall to the influence of the Dark Lord. They lose their souls and become part of the machine. Sauron bound them all- delusion and pride was his tool. Plenty of smart people fell for it. Don’t fall for it.