Friday, March 25, 2016

Cognitive Dissonance

Many Americans drive around and see prosperity. Nice shops, nice houses, nice communities. It’s a pleasant sight––but it’s not their life. If you are prosperous and feel your prosperity is secure this is nice and reassuring. Life is good! If you are financially insecure or you have friends or family who are struggling it isn’t reassuring at all. How many of those you see walking and driving amid all the visible prosperity see it as an insult or a threat: “These people are fine and I am not.” Narrow prosperity is all show, and the system––the economy, the justice system, money-based politics, even the larger churches––only serves and protects the few. The economy is increasingly excluding working people from prosperity; for them these visible riches are an insult. We watch the affluent on TV and read about them in glossy magazines. Is this entertainment? They are not us and we will never be invited to their party. We have become the pathetic figures in old movies, the ones pressing their noses hungrily to the window of the restaurant watching others eat. This set piece from old movies is the one that comes just before the hungry individual throws a brick, or a bomb. Vast inequalities are a recipe for violence. But before the violence erupts where we live we spend years ignoring how dysfunctional and impractical and inefficient these disparities are.

After a few decades of Kiss Up, Kick Down economics, the kicked may begin to hit back. Here are some relevant stories from the NC News Observer, The Guardian, The Washington Post and Salon.

In NC black voters are required to take a spelling test to vote; whites aren’t.

In FL the anti birth control crowd think that elementary schools and dentists and podiatrists can fill the gap created by their shutting down reproductive health centers.

The burden of taxes removed from the lucky people who own for a living is shifted onto the people who work for a living in the shape of penalties and fees, which are compounded if they haven’t got the ability to pay.

Want to start a new business? Better be rich.

Before you eat that shrimp cocktail realize that it’s probably the product of slave laborers.

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