Friday, January 03, 2014

Rich Vs. Poor

Keep the poor busy trying to stay alive and they don’t have time to keep you from robbing them.

Here's an interesting NPR story about this syndrome. It's real and has become the dominant living model in the U.S. Poverty makes us easier to impoverish.

This is why people who need help to stay alive are asked to jump through hoops and pee into cups. Workers who see the many who are worse off are far too busy keeping their bosses happy to consider asking for more. It’s too risky and who has the time?

And what do the rich get out of it? Unhappiness they can’t buy a cure for. Scientists have been studying this. All these unhappy rich folks have is the satisfaction of knowing they’ve made thousands or millions of others more miserable than they are.

Silly, isn’t it? It’s worrisome that the most powerful individuals in our society are irrational. Perhaps insane. Maybe even dangerous.

There is a rhetorical device called reductio ad absurdum. Taking the idea to its absurd limits. Just for the sake of argument. Or for shutting argument off.

One person making more in five minutes than his average worker makes in a year? That is absurd, but it’s become commonplace. And it isn’t enough for the person who’s making more in a day than his secretary will earn in a lifetime. He wants more. He earns a decent annual income on one visit to the bathroom. His workers have to punch out to use the bathroom. His retirement package will probably include free dry cleaning for life and lifetime use of an office boy for whatever he likes office boys to be used for. Firewood perhaps.

When money or power or validity is reduced to absurd levels in the large masses of people and increased to absurd levels in a handful of lucky ones at the top, absurd things happen. Things are bad now, but they could get worse. Most of us are worthless, in the current valuation, and a few people who own sweatshop factories and are able to get the taxpayer to feed their workers for them are gods. Absurd.

Then anything becomes possible. When your lords and masters can do what they wish with you, you need to worry about what they are wishing for. Especially because power and wealth makes people insane. Consider what people tell us about the supreme ruler of North Korea. This story may not be true, but, as the Daily Telegraph says, impossible things are happening all the time.

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