What if the rich and powerful want the best for humanity? Not outside the realm of possibility, but this seems incredibly unlikely. Of course, I cannot prove it objectively. What is certain is that the words ‘rich’ and ‘wealthy’ confuse too many us. To clarify, when mentioning the ‘rich’ and ‘powerful,’ I’m referring to the network of family dynasties. Any name such as Morgan, Carnegie, Harriman, or reaching further back in history, Habsburg and the Medici make any physicians, lawyers, and stock traders look like penniless vagabonds. Real wealth is owned by the people who don’t have the slightest concern over money. If they wanted more, they’d create it out of nothing with literally zero effort on their behalf. I can’t imagine, with this all-encompassing power, knowing the consequences of my decisions span the entire globe, what I would do. I can’t imagine what kind of secretive information this position would expose me to.
The poor and middle class need opportunity, not a patronizing crutch to rely on. They don’t need an overprotective nanny, and definitely not a societal shunning. Yet this is what both sides of the political spectrum give. As usual, partisan politics exacerbates the problem. The left appears to treat the symptoms of what ails the poor and middle class—underemployment and unemployment. The left wants to give these downtrodden individuals something that’s been depreciating in value since the removal of the gold standard—money. Unsurprisingly, the right’s motives are equally dubious. The right wants to abandon their fellow downtrodden citizens as if they’re coyotes left to fend for themselves in cities and towns that cannot provide honest work for everyone. If the downtrodden people were an infected limb, the left would dispense pain medication, and the right would indiscriminately snip chunks of flesh. Taking the analogy further, the right may even want to completely sever the infected limb. Even if the right were to commit such an atrocious act as to murder the poor and middle class, the infection will remain. A new poor and middle class will emerge after the harrowing elimination. This new vulnerable subset of society will fulfill the role of the old exploited classes, the proletariat. The vulnerable classes have little control. The poor and middle class did not set the economic systems in place. The poor and middle class have no authority over the guided or misguided fluctuations that constitute the global economy. In other words, the lower classes are not the source of the economic infection.
Those of us who advocate for a less invasive, less authoritarian government presumably want to preserve democracy. If that’s the case, their reasoning is sound. They laudably want to resist a government that slips into an explosive tyranny. However, I believe they overestimate the power of government as it appears to lay prostrate to the whims of big business. In case we haven’t deprogrammed ourselves from our hypernationalism, it’s fair to say that we’re subjected to an inverted totalitarian government. This means our tyranny has no face, no creed, no color, not even a pulse. The only images representing our despot are the logos branded onto our clothes, cars, food packaging, gas stations, and credit cards. Corporations rule. Do we really believe that we hold equal political sway as a banking firm that submits bills to Congress? Is our participation in the democratic process illusory when monied interests capture the attention of legislators, and are we duped by the occasional display of decency as corporations and their associates, government officials, say they respect our rights, rights which we hold self-evident? Government and big business act as though they seek all pervasive and indefinite control. Expanding power and influence for the wealthy, not protecting the welfare of the people, too often guides policy making.
The Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need but not for every man’s greed.
Before a tornado cuts through the wood and brick of a neighborhood, it sounds like a train with swirling debris as missiles. Many of us in the United States hear this faint hum growing louder. We wonder what’s left of our lives that isn’t under corporate capitalist control. We wonder which politicians haven’t been paid off by their corporate masters and if the corporate hegemony plans to confine us, mind, body, and spirit. Are we only chickens, cattle, or whales under their totalitarian regime? Although corporate capitalists deny this dehumanizing force, hailing privatization of every resource as a human progress, we see what truly motivates them – insatiable and all encompassing greed. The “bottom line” destroys lives. Corrosive beliefs, like degrading water as a commodity and not a right, kills all sense of cooperation, brotherhood, sisterhood, empathy – qualities that make us human. Corporate capitalists are integral in alienating us from our hearts and souls, dehumanizing us, and turning us into plastic, into a poisonous commodity.
Like anything in life, our possessions are finite. They slowly erode, maybe even instantly disappear. We can take every precaution to thwart loss, but trying to prevent it is futile. We can lose our jobs this very day. Our small business can slide into bankruptcy in few months. Our savings can dwindle until there’s nothing left, nothing, not even a shred of our dignity. Anything can happen to us. We can just as easily become homeless, hungry, and belittled as the ones now fighting for their survival on the streets. If we believe that we are immune to financial mayhem and would never end up scavenging for food, then we’re deluded. It could be us waiting in line for food, wondering if there were people who didn’t assume we were lazy parasites or drug addicts. It could be us sleeping inside of a makeshift shelter under a bridge not knowing when the next meal would be. The self-righteous will blame us if we’re struggling to make rent or feed and clothe the ones we love, but no one has the right to treat us as subhuman.
Are you familiar with that brainwashed citizen who blindly follows one particular political party? I think each of us knows that kind of voter; they know nothing about the issues, our nation’s history, or how the world really works. Those people are so tragically funny. They could also be you or me. Many of us simply don’t accept this idea. When our self-esteem is at stake, we neurotically guard our egos, and the truth has little chance in reaching us. It could destroy us to admit to ourselves that we are fools and rather than admitting to our foolishness, we lie to ourselves, tell ourselves that we are bright, enlightened, and blessed with the ability to be right even when logic and evidence proves otherwise. Sometimes we just aren’t prepared for what horror we might see if we entertain the thought that we might be the puppet, a puppet duped into buying this, into voting for him or her, and into being quiet and not disturbing the status quo. Our own beliefs can go unquestioned, and our own delusions can go unnoticed since we can become hyper-focused on the ‘others’ as pawns in a political agenda. Sometimes we don’t even seem to meditate on our beliefs for a few moments as they appear to be accepted blindly. Those beliefs coincide with a delusional self-portrait of ourselves in our minds. Painting a pretty picture over who we have become reinforces an irrational mind, a mind that’s heavy with contempt for the ‘others’ and with such inflexibility, fault is thoughtlessly placed on the other party, the other country, the other class. If we want the truth, it’s time to focus on the fairy tales we use to describe us.
Imagine if Wall Street and multinational corporations valued empathy for a change. Families wouldn’t have to suffer through no fault of their own, and good people wouldn’t have to lose their homes, their savings, and their jobs. We would have access to adequate health care. We would have hope for a prosperous future as big business would not be booming at our expense. Unfortunately, it became clear to the people that profit is more important than their well-being. This soaring profit angered me and propelled me to the voting booth for the 2012 Presidential Election. My voice was heard, but I didn’t feel special. I didn’t even expect my vote to remedy these desperate times. I just knew that these two warring political factions, the Democrats and the Republicans, seemed indifferent to the plight of the people.