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Friday 9/14/07 (2505 days ago)

What Color Mercedes Would Jesus Choose?

Posted by tdave365 under Philosophy at 5:14:28 AM
Score: 0 | Comments (0) | Make Comment | Demote (0) | Promote (0) | Focused: 2876 | Permalink | Digg It

I'm taking a little flack in my last post for dissing the wealthy but I'm not sure it's justified. I mean hey, at least I took a moment to frame my blog comment as a wayward claim of unmeritorious cynicism. The anonymous retort, on the other hand, sounds half serious.

The commentator makes this point:
There is nothing wrong about making money. It is really easy to do. Work hard, and don't use drugs.
Forgetting for the moment that by humorous self-penalization I more than acknowledge all rich people are not actually evil, it does not mean that I don't have a valid satire regarding Capitalism run a muck. Like it or not some wealthy people do not work hard to get or stay that way. At least where work is defined as something miserable we all do to establish a bit of security for ourselves and our families. You have to consider what work is in terms of state, not simply as a verb. Work is a potted stew filled with labor, insecurity, lack of control, and resourceful if not reluctant compromise. Some wealthy people do not "work" for their money because their potted stew is in fact filled with something else: income on earned interest, socially established "deals", effective maintenance of the status quo, and of course, skillful organization of and management over others at their advantage. Work where you have complete control over your time and resources is nothing like work in the way the average person experiences it.

In many pockets of upward mobility the bad examples do exist. Depending on your ideology perhaps, this can be more or less of the total population. It all boils down to how far back you want to trace the money. Heck, investing in any number of innocuous stocks can mean, in actuality, banking off the sweat of Vietnamese child factory workers. Put enough processes between the 11 year old child being whipped to work faster in some 110 degree sweat shop, and that stock ding on the computer that reports a quarter more earned than yesterday; we find many good people have absolutely no problem in psychologically coping with that. In this way our so-called hard work is but a good cover story to tell at parties or to our kids.

Now let's not get crazy here. That's an example of a low squelch level that would morally bankrupt most of us in considering our day to day affairs. When you get right down to it we're just as guilty as mere consumers in Western civilization let alone wealthy ones. We were born into a world with limited resources for all and in some way at some point we have to parse out who gets what materially and through what opportunities. But the middle ground is rife with example anyway. There are plenty of industries and, within them, individual political enclaves, where you can get rich by doing nothing more than performing a regular function while simply looking the other way. Cigarettes anyone?

My commentator's point about the drugs really throws me for a loop. By the commentator's logic, at some point, people who work hard for their wealth like Paris Hilton or Brittany Spears will eventually die poor because of all the drugs they do. And rich people, of course, never touch alcohol. My sense from the more refined image of the drug dealer is that, in reality, it is rich people keeping them in business, not poor people. Poor druggee customers are always in the hokey for smashing and grabbing their next payload from the neighborhood Radio Shack. Rich people, by contrast, wheel and deal theirs out of thin air by fixing the books or collating against taxes that pay for social development programs. In fact, not only can you do drugs and be rich, chances are you're doing them quite easily since wealth perpetually spares you the rock bottom that might otherwise destroy you into shape.

Wealth is not strictly about good choices versus poor choices. It's frequently about circumstance and moral principle, and all sorts of little things outside our control. That, really, is the dirty little secret that few of us ever acknowledge.

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