Thursday, October 27, 2005

Money Talks

Recently I have been thinking about the fact that we Americans are raised with the axiomatic belief that money buys privilege. The two obvious advantages of being rich are not having to work a regular 9 to 5 job and the power to buy lots of things. Beyond that, though, is this idea that the rich are exempt. They can show up at a popular restaurant on Saturday night at 7:00 PM without a reservation and be seated immediately. They can buy a fast car and speed with impunity, because they can well afford a speeding fine and the best legal representation. Their children can go to the finest schools even if they don’t have the grades. We are raised with the belief that this is how it should be, and many of us dream of such a life. In America, we think everything is for sale.

What started me down this path is this: Gasoline is now averaging close to $3 per gallon. This forces the average person to make some choices. Do less driving? Carpool? Take mass transportation? Find a vehicle that gets good gas mileage? For the rich person, though, what is the expectation? I think the prevailing attitude of most people is, “Let them get 10 miles per gallon in their gas-guzzlers. They can afford it.” They are exempt, because we tend to look at the dollar cost, not the cost to the society. They do not feel like they should have to conserve if they can afford not to, and lots of people of average means tend to agree.

What happens when it is food or water? What if the availability of safe food and water becomes limited? Would it be acceptable for rich people to buy more than their share, reducing the available supply for the rest of us, hoarding it for a rainy day or reselling it at inflated prices? Do we also believe that this is how it should be?

I think that all of us would be well to consider that we do not have much of a sense of community in this country. Instead of trying to achieve the common good, we are bred to aspire to wealth so we can be exempt from the responsibilities and obligations of the community, and personally, I think that sucks.

5 Comments:

Blogger Bobby Lightfoot said...

Yeah, it does. It sucks huge. The answer?

Ridicule a rich person today. A ring-punch to the back of the head is often an effective wakeup call.

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11:56 AM  
Blogger Kevin Wolf said...

Bobby's on the right track. That feeling of being special, "the rich are different," is all over the place. It's time to stop worshipping these puds.

For instance: I could just about give a shit about that asshhole George W Bush - and he's the President (sorta). Still, I have no respect for him, what he's done to his office and this country, nor for his family's money. And I know I'm right to feel that way.

Bill Murray in Groundhog Day: I'm not playing by their rules anymore!

1:44 PM  
Blogger jemison said...

Garrett Hardin's "Tragedy of the Commons."

I think this phenomenon has always been around--I wonder whether the effect is stronger now with the celebrity worship brought on by exposure through TV...

However, the rich depend upon the middle and lower class to do things (clean their rooms, do their laundry, etc.) and once these classes are untenable, the structure breaks down for everyone...Henry Ford recognized that and built pill boxes around his mansion. Let's hope we don't ever get there.

4:41 PM  
Blogger Neil Shakespeare said...

"Pillboxes Around the Mansion" indeed. Of course the rich don't give a shit. The rich lived VERY well during the depression. They are inflation-proof, recession-proof, even - as Bush is a prime example - war-proof. Gated communities are becoming the norm. In effect they are feudal city states with golf courses. That's why the rich always want more cops to keep the rabble away. And more prisons, of course. They live constantly under the pall of a siege mentality, however, and this comforts me. And if it gets bad enough no amount of moats, fences, pillboxes or security cameras can protect them. Still, they'll stretch that envelope to squeeze out every penny, just like they're doing now. They'll push it to the bursting point. Your servant is your enemy.

8:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Money is not the real issue it's power. We are all rich by the simple fact we have a computer account If you don’t think this is a sigh of wealth ask some on in a third world country. I use to think wealth leads to power but it has been made clear to me that it is in fact it is Power that leads to wealth and more wealth. The class of people we are born into the people we know the vote we have by owning 52% stock in a company. The Person A may have more wealth in owning 40% of a bigger company but the guy with 52% of a slightly cheaper company is truly the more powerful and can use that power for favors or cash. Please be a little careful with the “you don’t need that” line it may be used by others like the developing world group of people that might tell you that you don’t need that house or that BASS guitar you should look at the impact to society for not giving it to charity my sister is needs it for food medicine shoes fill in the blank. We all feel and hate the power that corporations and the powerful minority in the west have over our lives and our democratic governments, this is the real issue. It is the main issue if the developing world. If they only hated our wealth they would be happy selling us stuff it solves there problem, you have cash I sell you stuff now I have cash. Power is different you have power over me I do as you wish so I don’t get abused and in the end I still don’t have power and you do rinse repeat. It is an issue that the powerful even though they are a minority and run things in ways that we in much larger numbers a democracy feel should not be. Money helps give you some power so maybe defend your self in a lawsuit or to be able to move out of the way of a huge storm it takes a lot of it and it runs out. Power is different. It gives you the ability to make huge money at almost demand hay I voted my self CEO and then I gave may self a big dividend on my 52% stock the company could not afford and Hay I am giving my self big raise to boot and next I am going to run this company in to the ground so I can declare chapter 11 and dump the pension and union contracts so I can pocket the difference when I get out f of chap 11. I hope you see where I coming from here. Wanting money is the dream of not being abused as much but give me power and I can defend my self completely, pill boxes and all. Henry ford was never killed by a disgruntled worker. Even though many of his disgruntled workers wished they had the power to do so.

10:42 PM  

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