Ask James: Society, the Presidency, Eckhart Tolle, Love, Bubbles and More

Recently by James Altucher: 6 Things I Learned From CharlesBukowski

They say that comets crashed into the Earth a billion years ago and tiny microbacteria came from the comet and impregnated this Earth with water and life. From that combination, eventually, we humans rose out of it.

Sometimes I want to go home. Back to the comet and continue on its journey to the center of the Universe. Where, presumably, all of the answers can be found, where the prism for all life pulsates in the middle. It’s hard world to live in. We’re all suffering post-traumatic syndrome. Over what? Loss of Jobs. Loss of jobs. 2008. 9/11, the loss of the hope in the 90s.Sometimes having someone to talk to, even on Twitter, is a small way to heal from this post-traumatic stress. For me most of all!

Every Thursday, from 3:30–4:30 I have a Twitter Q&A where anyone can ask me about anything. From marriage, to money, to ancient cosmology. While this all stems from my goal (ever since I was seven years old) to be a “Dear Abby” I also have a lot of fun and I like tweeting with people. Then the next day, I’ll post a summary like this. Please join in next week.


@alyosha19 asks: What do you think is the best way to “give back” to society as an individual? If at all…

ANSWER: Everything comes from you. If you work at a charity but beat your kids at night then you have failed to give back to society. The best way to give back to society is to make sure you are healthy:

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Physically: you can’t be sick and give back. You need to eat well, sleep well, exercise well. You can be your own superhero.

Emotionally: you can’t give back if you are always arguing with wife, parents, etc. You need to eliminate the people from your life who bring you down and surround yourself with uplifting people who inspire you

Mentally: your idea muscle needs to be in superhuman shape if you want to give back to society. This means coming up with creative ideas every single day, good or bad.

Spiritually: this doesn’t mean praying to an old man with a beard but it does mean having a sense of surrender and gratitude. These are two different things. Surrender is when you say, “That’s it, I’ve done all I can. I need help now.” Where does the help come from? Is there a god? Who knows. Maybe it just comes from a creative force locked inside of you that is dying to come out and take over the world if you let it. But it does come from somewhere. And gratitude: as soon as you wake up, list the 10 things you are most grateful for.

Then, being fully in shape, you are able to walk through life and be a beacon to others. People will be attracted to you and they won’t know why. Opportunities will throw themselves at your feet. And, by being a force of nature unto yourself, you will give back to society without even directly knowing how you are doing it.


@bgn2end asks: Are you running for President? If so, when you are elected, would you abolish congress and eventually the presidency?

ANSWER: Ha, the problem with the Presidency is that at some point you have to decide that a little child is going to die at your hands (through war, military action, etc). But here’s what I would do if elected and had the power to do these things

A) Abolish Congress and replace it with an internet voting system. The only reason Congress exists is because there was no means to communicate important issues around the country when the Founding Fathers existed. [See, July 4 is a Scam]

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B) Abolish the FDA. They make lethal substances legal: most chemicals are unregulated, alchohol and nicotine are lethal, and they keep drugs that cure people out of the hands of old people who need that one last chance to survive. [See, Eliminate the FDA]

C) I’d abolish every cabinet position. What do we need a Department of Education for? Education in the US has only gone down since that Department was created. What do we need a Housing Department for. We had a housing crisis and nobody helped. What do we need a State Department for? Rarely or treaties negotiated and we should stop giving all of our money to foreign countries anyway. What do we need a Department of Defense for? We haven’t legally declared war since 1941. If you go to Washington DC you see these long enormous buildings down every street that do nothing but bureaucracy.

D) I’d appoint myself Vice-President. Someone has to go to funerals of kings.

E) I’d sell off every federal asset: highways, the IRS, federal lands, trains, etc to raise money to pay down debt so that taxes can also be reduced.

F) I’d abolish the Presidency [See, “Abolish the Presidency”]

A lot of people who are politically minded disagree with me on some of these things. But the reality is. If we had the bravery to do all of the above then life would be better. People still would obey Stop signs (there are local governments to handle this) and they still wouldn’t kill people and “our way of life” would stll be defended since our greatest offense is now global capitalism and innovation.


@EricRomer asks: Any thoughts on Eckhart Tolle?

ANSWER: Eckhart Tolle wrote the best seller The Power of Now and was fortunate to spend some couch time with Oprah Winfrey to really propel his message to the masses. When he first wrote the book, he printed up 3000 copies and basically went door to door at all the bookstores and handed them out. It took him years to find success, which I truly appreciate. I also think much of the advice in “The Power of Now” is interesting to read. It’s a watered down version (he does not admit this) of the Hindu philosophy Advaita Venta (best exemplified by a teacher from 100 years ago, Ramana Maharshi) but Tolle does a good job translating that into every day language and I agree with his approach of not mentioning the roots of his philosophy.

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The one thing I think limits Tolle is that he hasn’t raised a family, or failed at a business or a career, or has shared his own stories of sadness, depression, and pain. I think that ultimately limits his message. Many of have real careers that we are stressed about, family that drives us crazy, businesses that we fail at.

Many of us need to get off the floor after those failures and know that the hand that’s reaching out to us comes from someone who has been there before.


@goldfo100: if you had a very intelligent child entering college today, what major and language skills would your recommend?

ANSWER: Here’s the problem with college, in a nutshell – you are going to be with the same people you spent the past 12 years with (demographically) and doing the same thing (spending most of the day reading books that have nothing to do with anything, and then fooling around with your friends without any supervision for the first time) and doing it on your parents (or the bank’s) dime.

So if you are fortunate to have that dime, how about do something that would be much more beneficial: don’t go to college. Spend a year learning to paint, or taking singing lessons, or learning yoga in India (getting in shape, meeting people from all over the world, learning Eastern philosophy) or any of 100 other things that will actually better your life, force you to meet new demographics, and do it for much cheaper than the cost of college.

Then, after a year or two of that, why not go to college then – if you still even want to?


@rballe33 asks: What would J Altucher do if he were 25 yrs old right now?

ANSWER: Not everyone could be a Mark Zuckerberg and start a new business from scratch and watch it grow into billions. So the obvious answer, “start a business” doesn’t really apply. It’s hard, requires money, and requires you to know what people are missing in their lives. Also, a consumer-oriented business is the hardest sort of business to start but if you have no enterprise experience, then its also hard to start a business selling to the enterprise.