Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Too cynical?

What if I was wealthy? Now, what if I wanted to set up a system in which there would be professionals, whose sole job it was, to make rules that would protect my current wealth and encourage favorable conditions for my future wealth? I could call my rule making professionals, politicians. Of course, I would prefer to simply appoint them to office but the masses would not stand for such a blatant move. Alternately, I could institute an appearance of democracy. Luckily for my interests, it wouldn't need to function in a true democratic manner, though it would need a democratic patina. The tricky bit would be to ensure that average folks perceived an opportunity to be fairly represented. This wouldn't present much of a problem. I could use my wealth to limit the choices to those that are either my direct representatives or financially obligated to me. With the basics in place, all I would need is for my politicians to smile amiably, do as little as possible, and make continuous references to high-minded values like liberty, justice, and such. When those ideas fail to produce the desired levels of compliance, I could always resort to the 'nuclear option'. Patriotism. Many, in my working classes, have no idea what it all means but they seem to get all weepy and pliable when they hear it. No surprise, it's my personal favorite crowd mover.

Now all I would need are agents to ensure that my plan stays on track. Obviously these would be wealth protection agents but such a label would be unnecessarily transparent. I would need to find a more palatable label. Now for the tricky bit. I will need to have rather a large number of them in every community. As the costs of such a standing army would seriously cut into my wealth accumulation, I need an alternate funding scheme. Wait. I believe that, with a bit of finesse, I could arrange for average people to pay the bulk of the cost for my army if I refer to them as law enforcement agents. Yes, that will do nicely.

If I were a comic book villain, I would be licking my lips salaciously while twisting the ends of my comically thin mustache. The question is, what would the hero do?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Muy Ocupado

Wall Street is always occupied. One of it's major "occupations" is the transfer of wealth from average people to the wealthiest people. Currently Wall Street is also occupied by protestors who, as far as I can gather, have some problem with the system that encourages this transfer of wealth. What I've also noticed is that they lack a unified strategy to get what they want. Some of the protestors no doubt believe there is a vast shady cabal involving the Federal Reserve Bank, the major banks and credit card companies, the Rothchilds, the Freemasons, and others. I can't prove that such a sinister cabal does not exist. I can illustrate that it is not needed to explain the current woes felt by the protestors and many others.

What if the people occupying Wall Street
went to the right place but said the wrong thing?

What if the heterogeneity of their message (think: lack of uniformity) hinders their message?

What if it matters less whether you personally want to save the whales, stop fracking, or simply have an opportunity for a decent job at a living wage?

What if the core idea is common to all the messages?

What if capitalism, in its current form, has been at the heart of all the problems?

Furthermore, what if there is no shady multinational cabal?

What if the absence of this cabal is based on the principle: the simplest answer is generally the right answer.

Simply stated, What if no sinister organized structure is needed because the people who control everything don't need to have any meetings?

What if their goals are obvious and their methods straightforward and, often, completely legal?

What if the one percent, who own most of everything, simply know what needs to be done to keep the system rolling along to their advantage and they simply go about it in a deliberate and ruthless fashion right in front of our faces?

Now for the disturbing questions.

What if, by sheer numbers, we could put an end to the ruthless concentration of wealth by a few and to the detriment of the majority?

What if we need not raise a hand in anger to do so?

What if we simply say, NO?

This is too easy, right?

What if the protestors are standing in the right place but expending their energies on the wrong group?

What if we assume that the one percent has no interest in changing a system that works in their interest?

What if we assume that the one percent feel no guilt and, in fact, have a set of rationalizations in place to justify their actions?

What would be their motivation to change that system?

What if the protestors realized that the people stopping the progress of their cause are standing among them– in the ninety nine percent?

What if many in the ninety nine percent have been convinced to vote against their own economic best interests?

Sure, they have voted this way largely due to a cynical manipulation that has been heavily funded by the one percent. However such a dastardly plan would not have traction unless many regular folks bought into those lies and half-truths.

I know. I get it. Most folks don't want more questions. People are hurting and they want answers. And rightly so.

The answer is that we are dealing with a simple concept from which simple answers don't easily flow. My guess is that things will need to get really bad before enough of the deluded members of the ninety nine percent join the progressive ranks. From this we will elect politicians who possess the political capital (think: poll numbers for lack of better criteria) to regulate the corporations and stand firm in the face of the one percent.