My favorite thing to do is determine why complex things happen. Some examples include why over half of American’s deny evolution, why women prefer men that act a certain way, or why Scandinavian countries have such low crime rates and such high suicide rates.
One thing I think about a lot is why America is falling. Specifically, I am curious how it is that it’s so difficult to make a living and retire in this country. And I think I have an answer.
I think most problems in America can be narrowed down to two human characteristics: greed and ignorance. They are insidious by themselves, but together they create a perpetually accelerating vehicle of destruction. They feed off of each other–with stupid people being easily led to help fulfill the greed of those who are smarter than them.
As I said before, I’m trying to figure out why someone can’t just work a solid 40 years and then retire with a pension from his company. Why do regular people not have any stability? How is it that so many can be nearing retirement age and not have anything solid for income? How did this happen?
The answer is that freedom begets inequality. Freedom leads to a natural world, and those who promote it in the purest form are doing so for one of two reasons: greed or ignorance. Nature is evil. Nature means domination. Nature means a large underclass struggles while a tiny superclass experiences complete luxury. That’s the natural order of things. The strong dominate the weak.
So, in the 50’s, when you went to work for 40 years and retired from a company and were set for the rest of your life…that was unsustainable because it meant that the super-rich were losing too much money. There was a trade-off: All employees were taken care of, but the company made far less money.
So, the natural decision is to screw over employees. Outsource to the sickliest child overseas that can pretend to do the job well, and watch as the board grants you bonus after bonus. So, the executive team (20 people) is given millions, while thousands below them suffer.
Again, this is freedom. This is natural. It’s not even really evil. It feels like evil, and the results are evil, but never forget that it’s natural. Never forget that this is the tendency within us.
And that’s the point here–that greed is natural, and that the America we see today is the result of unchecked nature–not a result of evil rich people. Rich people aren’t evil. Not even the super-rich. They are alphas in a world of betas. They were given advantages and they have done precisely what we would expect anyone to do in their position.
We know the saying, “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Well, what is this really saying? I’ll tell you what it’s saying. It’s explaining why the rich don’t want to be taxed. Being on top changes how you see the world. It forces you into an isolationist world view. It puts “me” and “my” at the top of the mind.
Even the super-liberals with money live in “nice” (see segregated) neighborhoods. It’s a down-the-line lesson in cognitive dissonance. And again, it’s natural.
Where the ignorance comes in is how the rich and powerful wield the masses for their own purposes. It is trivially easy to make stupid people do things. Show them emotional commercials. Talk to them about a shared enemy that hates Jesus. Put on a T.V. show about celebrities dancing. Pretty much anything will take their minds off of the gross crimes you are committing.
And thus we fall. We are soon to be a banana republic, with a few smart, ambitious people competing with rivals using emotion-based narratives designed to froth-up the idiocracy. It’s fucking sad.
That’s how we got here.
That’s how it takes two people working in a household to make enough money to survive. That’s how people are basically on their own, forced to trust the greedy super-rich on Wall Street with their life savings. If they save for 30 years and have their money dissapear overnight, they can be appeased with a simple explanation: “Al Quaeda did it because they hate your freedom, and the liberals helped them by taxing too much.”
Well, there you go. Damn liberals helping those A-rabs.
The basic idea here is that freedom is a worthy ideal, and the United States was right for adopting it as the official mantra. And this worked for quite some time. But at some point the concept of ambition became mixed with that of greed. Or perhaps they always were the same.
Either way, powerful people who have the ability to influence the rules will find ways to do so that will benefit them and their friends. That’s going to happen. And it did happen.
Nobody is thinking about America in the long term, because anyone with the ability to do anything at that level is in the crosshairs of the lobbyists. And when people throw money at you, you tend to contort yourself, and your morality, in ways unimaginable.
I don’t have a solution, but at least I can name the beast. The name is greed, and his sidekick is ignorance. As we become more and more distracted by shiny things, and as our education continues to decline into nothingness, we will become a nation of proles swishing backward and forward on the whims of a super-class.
There will be nice areas of town, and the rest of the town. Green zones and red zones. Constant terror attacks (many of which will be condoned, if not organized, by those in power) will keep everyone afraid and angry at the common (mostly fictional) enemy.
This is not a potential path. It is the path we’re on today.
Freedom and greed are inexorably tied, and I don’t know how to temper that greed without limiting freedom. Corporations as individuals? Corporations contributing to political campaigns? Running political ads? Are you kidding me?
It’s a race to the bottom, and we’re winning.
[ Oct 11, 2010 ]