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Turn Off, Tune Out, Drop Out

Turn Off, Tune Out, Drop Out

An unknown but likely staggeringly large percentage of small business owners in the U.S. are an inch away from calling it quits and closing shop.

Timothy Leary famously coined the definitive 60s counterculture phrase, “Turn on, tune in, drop out” in 1966. (According to Wikipedia, In a 1988 interview with Neil Strauss, Leary said the slogan was “given to him” by Marshall McLuhan during a lunch in New York City.)

An updated version of the slogan might be: Turn Off, Tune Out, Drop Out: turn off mobile phones, screens, etc.; tune out Corporate Media, social media, propaganda, official and unofficial, and drop out of the status quo economy and society.

Dropping out of a broken, dysfunctional status quo in terminal decline has a long history. The chapter titles of Michael Grant’s excellent account of The Fall of the Roman Empire identify the core dynamics of decline:

The Gulfs Between the Classes

The Credibility Gap

The Partnerships That Failed

The Groups That Opted Out

The Undermining of Effort

Our focus today is on The Groups That Opted Out. In the decline phase of the Western Roman Empire, people dropped out by abandoning tax-serfdom for life in a Christian monastery (or as a worker on monastery lands) or by removing themselves to the countryside.

Today, people drop out in various ways: early retirement, disability or other social welfare, homesteading or making and saving enough money in the phantom-wealth economy that they can quit official work in middle age.

We can see this in the labor participation rates for the populace at large, women and men. The labor participation rate reflects the percentage of the population that’s in the workforce, either working or actively looking for work.

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