We all know that our economy is a mess and that the money-royalty, whom I like to call our robber billionaires, has bought our politicians and thereby our government which therefore colludes with them to squeeze the rest of us further and further out of a livable life so the rich can become richer and richer at the expense of us becoming poorer and poorer.
It’s nothing new. If it was new to you, watching and reading this week’s series on this topic should have brought you up to speed. I recommend you share the posts from the week that is now ending with everybody you know who is still unclear.
But what good is all that muck-raking unless we dig down to the root of the problem? Well, you may be surprised. After a week of sharing the work of more or less well-known personalities with you, today – in order to take you to the root of the problem – I will share with you an article and video from someone much less known, plus another video which might seem to come out of left field because it isn’t about humans but nevertheless shows us a way out of our man-made set of problems.
I hope you’re exited, because this is gonna be good.
In my research, this week, I somehow came across an article by someone who has been digging as deeply as I, and he wrote it so well, that I will recommend you read his great (and yet succinct!) article yourself, rather than me rewording it. I will merely outline it a little here and fill in a little gap with commentary. I will also share the two videos which this article showcases here, as well, just in case you can’t make the time to read his article. I warmly recommend you read it, though.
Let’s get going.
The root of our troubles: In short, our set of problems looks like a tree. Our immediate problems (unemployment, low wages, healthcare denial, housing crisis, etc.) are like the leaves. They sit on twigs and branches which reflect the widespread corruption in the sectors of our economy and government. The branches all spring from the trunk that is our economic setup: an injustice machine designed to create rich and poor, a.k.a. lords and serfs, masters and slaves, thugs and victims. That trunk doesn’t float in thin air, however. It arises from a tangle of roots which represents our acceptance, as a people, of this rigged setup which places privileged people above us and condemns us to toil for them (I wrote about this on prior occasions, including Thursday and Friday this week). And when we dig deep to the tips of the roots, what we find are the concepts which underly our acceptance of this injustice machine: hierarchy and property.
I’ll quote Eric Schechter on hierarchy:
“Hierarchy concentrates power, and power corrupts. We see that all around us: Authoritarians beat their wives and children, bosses bully workers, guards torture inmates, police shoot the poor, tyrants hang their opponents, and the rich start wars to make themselves richer. Our politicians are liars, thieves, and mass murderers, yet we treat them with honor; we are caught up in a global version of Stockholm Syndrome (a psychological bond between hostages and captor).
The Stanford Prison Experiment proved that power corrupts: Student volunteers were tested for normalcy, then divided randomly into guards and inmates for a two week mock prison. The experiment was halted after six days because the guards began abusing the inmates. ”
As you can see, we humans suffer from a deeply buried authoritarian instinct which results in cruelty and accepting injustice. We can overcome this, like all instincts, with higher brain functions, especially when we turn higher ideals into an integral part of our culture that we teach to our children. We have neglected to do so, and doing so will give us one leg to stand on when we stand up against our rigged system and create a new one with a built-in protection against corruption. Let me think how we might word this…: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness…
Boy are we late!
When property has no limits, it becomes concentrated in the hands of a few who then leverage it to concentrate even more wealth into their hands. Eric Schechter: “Thus inequality increases and wealth is concentrated into fewer hands. And wealth is power and influence, so the market creates plutocracy, which means rule by the rich. And power corrupts, as discussed earlier.”
I am sure you have been around infants who go through that phase where EVERYTHING is THEIRS, or at least they want it to be. We tend to teach them that it’s not OK that one of them has ALL the toys in the kindergarten. So we work to overcome this instinct of greed somewhat. Sadly, in the adult world, we have failed to place such limits.
To be sure, the instinct of ownership is very strongly connected to our feelings of security and happiness. We wouldn’t be happy if we didn’t have exclusive usage rights (ownership) to the clothes we are wearing, personal affects, and… well… quite frankly, owning one’s home makes one feel a lot more safe and established than having to pay rent to a landlord and living under the constant threat of being evicted the moment one can’t pay. So, I think personal property is important and should extend to one’s home.
In a good world, such as I don’t consider beyond our ability to realize, everybody would own their own house and the lot it stands on with a lawn or garden, unless they chose to live in an inner city of high-rises, of course. However, we should – as a culture – do some hard thinking on drawing limits. Everybody owning their own home is great. A handful of money lords owning the houses others live in is not! It’s an invasion of the territory and property that should rightly be the inhabitants’.
The tenants in such a system have been disowned of their fair share of the world into which we were all born empty-handed, but in which our inequality machine claims that some were born into exalted inheritance that includes the homes of other people. The same goes for all other shares of our nation, such as our places of work. No single person should own a hotel chain or large corporation. The ownership should be shared by all the folks who work there, just like our ancestors regarded all the planes and forest as something beyond individual ownership. So far, we still don’t regard the air as something owned by one of our billionaires to whom we must pay rent to breathe. At least we have drawn that line. But that line is drawn way to far from where it should be to prevent our injustice machine of an economy. (and, by the way, we do currently grant billionaires the “right” to pollute our air, killing 200,000 Americans each year… ouch!)
The problem is that there are no natural prices on any kind of property, whether it be tangibles or the living time we sell as labor. Therefore, those who have more can always make lopsided deals that benefit them more than those who have less. This, then, accumulates even more wealth in their hands, so that the few gain ever more while the many lose ever more. Over time, the many become disowned of their rightful property (their fair share of the world) for the benefit of the robbing few who form billionaire dynasties when inheritance isn’t curbed either. All this happens when our economy has too few checks and balances. However, to establish the necessary checks and balances, we must change our mindset, and realize that personal property must have limits to protect the rightful property of other individuals and our communities. An unlimited property concept is a recipe for doom.
In conclusion: As long as we, as a people, accept systemic meanness, it will always reassert itself. That is a lesson our forebears somehow missed, one we cannot afford to miss again.
But now, let me give you the link to Eric Schechter’s brilliant article: A Different Vision
And here are the two videos. The first shows that our worst instincts can be overcome even by our cousins in the wild who have far less developed cerebrums. Baboons can show us that we can overcome our cruel hierarchic instinct:
(Note: if the video linked above gets deleted, you may search the Internet for the title: “Why hierarchy creates a destructive force within the human psyche (by dr. Robert Sapolsky)”)
Man, if baboons can do this. Shame of us if we don’t!
The second video is essentially the article told by voice and supported with visual aids:
(Note: if the video linked above gets deleted, you may search the Internet for the title: “Hierarchy & Property (A Different Vision)”)
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