Swonk [chief economist of Mesirow Financial] called it the “biggest inequality since the Great Depression.”
“Not only are the rich getting richer, there are more of them, and those who are rich are getting incredibly rich, sort of a winner-takes-all,” she said.
This can only be a good thing for the likes of mega-elites. When the world’s population boils down like tree sap (with enough people remaining to carry the titans on their backs) there will be more development opportunities than ever, I expect.
The part that I like best about the lives of these robber-barons, I guess, is their low accountability. When you’re worth three billion dollars, like John Paulson is, fifteen million dollars is just a drop in the bucket. It’s really nothing, and beyond obscene that it’s considered an acceptable level of donation back to those you, most likely, made your money off of (not from). It’s just considered a high number because the vast majority of people couldn’t make that much money in one hundred lifetimes, let alone make enough of it so that they could consider giving it away. You’re basically given (especially with tax-breaks and grey-area money managing you can afford to take advantage of) a free pass out of society.
The funny part about it is, of course, that the regular person (in the West, at least, right now, I mean) isn’t that poorly off. Right now, it’s a much different situation than in the depression. The most exploited peoples are in distant factories, cordoned off. We can afford the basic necessities, and most people can “afford” a lot more. The interesting part about this is that not many people seem content with what they have. And I know, I know, you’ve heard this before, but it’s true. The idea of something more is all-consuming.
Maybe that’s a basic facet of humanity. But the people on the ground floor have forgotten how to control it, and those at the top have become better at exploiting it than ever before.
Not just in terms of– it’s not just because there is always a shiny new iPhone on the horizon, or a faster game console system, or whatever. It’s because, for the most part, we let ourselves be taken advantage of, we give ourselves wholly to support our mode of living, and then, in our free time, we’re so beat that we give our mind and our breathing space up as well. We don’t want to work just for more stuff, but for the breathing space, the mind-place we never have to enjoy what we’ve already got.
It’s interesting because the people who have the least grip on reality, who perpetuate the very system they try to escape, are probably the biggest slaves. The only difference between the Paulsons of the world and the Paul Smiths is the fact that one group has the illusion of control. A free ticket “out” of the rat race, while remaining the most invested in it.
I had a history teacher once who told me that the year he worked in a factory was the worst of his entire life. He worked long shifts, hard (to get the work done, because a factory never stops or slows down) only to make enough money to come home and fall asleep in his bed. There was no room for anything but passive activity because he’d given away his entire self. But the job, he explained, paid well.
You can’t get more passive than watching television. You can’t get more brain-dead than eating, watching, and self-medicated spending.
The point is that we’ve lost our priorities. To the point where even for an extremely low-paying job, filling up the coffers of someone else, who doesn’t do the work, who is already rich, you are expected to give one hundred and ten percent. Your requests for off-schedule time are denied, your concessions for school, family life, or religion ignored. But harsh treatment because it’s even worse for those above. Show me a salaried retail-store-manager, who comes in on his weekends, who works late at night, who is there when his very young employees (by instinct, as expected, knowing priorities better than most) flake out, and I’ll show you somebody who is already (inside) halfway-dead.
To afford what you think you need, to keep you in a mind where you look at shiny things and think you can afford, you are worked hard and dragged behind, tied to the cart. Your self gets sold down. You are as unthinking as they expect you to be. You are a serf, and you can’t think because of what you do, and you do your work, but you don’t understand, and the upper-tiers look down because what are you, besides an animal? What are you besides a revenue-building, field-plowing machine?
It’s funny as much as things change, the more they stay the same. I can only think that the impending food crisis, the mounting debts, the inflation, the speculating, will have some kind of ill-effect. But when you’re brain-dead and poor, you might, at least, try to change how you live.