2016 – The Year of Having More

“Money’s a bitch that never sleeps”

Remember Michael Douglas’ famous line in the movie “Wall Street?”

His character Gordon Gekko speaks – “Greed, for lack of a better word, is good.  Greed is right.  Greed works.  Greed clarifies, cuts through and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit.”

Gordon Gekko was a prophet.   Greed has not only resulted in the concentration of wealth in the hands of the very few and the dramatic decline of the “middle class,” it has changed our culture.

While CEOs walk off with millions or billions in their pockets the workers in their companies struggle to pay the rent or keep the car running while the company stashes billions overseas in tax havens utilizing loopholes passed by a bought and paid for Congress.

These are not only causes of our present predicament.  They are symptoms of a culture of greed and consumption which permeates American life.

“We live in a society that constantly celebrates having more, but rarely celebrates having enough. Americans want more money, more food, more clothing — bigger servings at restaurants (think buffet), bigger boxes, bigger cups of coffee. Imagine an advertising campaign in the U.S. that encouraged Americans to be satisfied with enough, rather than to want more — right, it’s very hard to imagine that. ”

We are more interested in having more than being satisfied with enough.  We are more interested in having more than finding sustainability.  We are more interested in having more than in a reasonable distribution of income so that all, or mostly all can have enough.

“Symptoms of that culture are evident not only in ridiculous compensation packages of corporate CEOs or college football coaches, but also in the closets of regular people with 50 pairs of shoes or the wallets of those maintaining high amounts of credit card debt as a result of buying too many, and too expensive, Christmas presents. They can be found in things like car leases that reduce the price of driving a luxury vehicle around so that one can look rich in a car they cannot actually afford to buy. And they also lurk in the desire to purchase expensive jewelry for loved ones, because somehow the monetary value ascribed to a rock is evidence of the value of love. More cost means more love.”

The most serious problem is not the CEOs themselves, but what they represent: A culture that sanctifies beliefs that more is better, acquisition is the goal of life, and having a lot makes one happy. The heads of corporate America can sell their own staggering ideology of greed to the public because a large part of the American public already buys into the belief that greed is good and having a lot of things makes one happy.

Now do you expect those on the Forbes List of Wealthiest Individuals to lead the way toward changing this culture?   Doubtful that they will do so–there is little motivation to truly work to improve society when you have control over so much of its wealth.

Our billionaires on the Forbes list have more money than they can ever spend and more than enough for their families for generations to come. Many of them (not all) are totally preoccupied with making more at the expense of virtually everything else.

When does such avarice and ambition become obscene?

Tens of millions are driving their broken down cars and can’t replace their worn out couch or see a doctor. Yet they constantly vote against their own interests, supporting candidates who seek to lower taxes, slash Medicare and Social Security, “make America great again” – what ever the hell that means.

Look at Trump supporters -solid working class people supporting a multi-billionaire born with a golden spoon in his mouth – like he gives a rat’s ass about the lives of the people supporting him.

When will the grasping materialism of the billionaire class become the very definition of obscenity and carry the stigma of shame?

Don’t hold your breath.

Donald Trump would think you stupid for holding such a view.

Yet take comfort ye ordinary folk.  Emperor Marcus Aurelius once wrote “Remember this – it takes very little to make a happy life.”

On the other hand, Steinbeck wrote “When the majority of people are hungry they will take by force what they need; when property accumulates in the hands of too few it is taken away. How can you frighten a man whose hunger is in the wretched bellies of his children? You can’t, because he knows a fear beyond any other.”

Happy New Year.

.

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http://fortune.com/2010/09/08/gordon-gekko-revisited/ear.

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About toritto

I was born during year four of the reign of Emperor Tiberius Claudius on the outskirts of the empire in Brooklyn. I married my high school sweetheart, the girl I took to the prom and we were together for forty years until her passing in 2004. We had four kids together and buried two together. I had a successful career in Corporate America (never got rich but made a living) and traveled the world. I am currently retired in the Tampa Bay metro area and live alone. One of my daughters is close by and one within a morning’s drive. They call their pops everyday. I try to write poetry (not very well), and about family. Occasionally I will try a historical piece relating to politics. :-)
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11 Responses to 2016 – The Year of Having More

  1. beetleypete says:

    This is now a world-wide story, Frank. Sadly, America is no longer the only place where such avarice exists. The future is looking bleak. Makes me pleased to be old.
    Best wishes, and fingers crossed for us all in 2016. Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. jfwknifton says:

    And a Happy New Year to you and yours, Frank.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. … what ever the hell that means. …

    great words altogether.

    A really happy New Year to you and all your readers !

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Nandini says:

    Happy New Years to you!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It strikes me that working people have no choice but to vote against their own interests – they get screwed over voting for either major party. The Obama presidency has been totally disastrous for the poor and has virtually destroyed the middle class.

    Liked by 1 person

    • toritto says:

      Hi Doc – I agree we have little choice unless Bernie wins the nomination which is doubtful. It is certainly time for the left to follow the Tea Party and capture the Dems as the T.P did the GOP. That means mounting primary challenges in heavily progressive districts. Otherwise, short of revolution I see little hope, certainly in my lifetime Things will have to get a lot worse before there is any hope of getting better. Happy New Year.

      Like

  6. This morning, I found myself wishing I had the skills of a hacker. Wouldn’t it be an exciting wake-up call to simply drain the accounts of the wealthy, the pharmaceutical industry, Monsanto, etc., and use their ill-gotten gains to help those in need? But alas, it’s not a skill I’m likely to develop any time soon…

    Liked by 1 person

  7. dougstuber says:

    The problem when old rockers die, and the last two that hit me the hardest were Bowie and Lou Reed is that it brings up a ton of feelings in someone, say 57 years old. Here’s the thing: there are hundreds, nay thousands of bar acts that count as quality even rebellious rock and roll out there right now, but NONE will have the impact of Bowie or Reed, and NONE who question authority or promulgate an alternative lifestyle hit with the IMPACT on our culture the music once had.

    This has occurred, as all glorious creative times (1950 to 1980, give or take) as the new dark age has come upon us. Since 1980, or just before, the squelching of truly alarming and monumental creativity has slowly but surely gotten worse. As electronics, propaganda via ALL MEDIA, and :conservative values” whitewash all fields of a cultural realm (maybe not classical music…) we are left living in the past (Jedthro Tull) and yearn for more Michael Moores or at least more Ernest Hemingways, and if their contemporary equivalents are out there (where, or who is the NEXT Kurt Vonnegut even?) there’s a good chance they’ve been left unpublished, unheard, unseen due to things like Sony buying Columbia records. Conservative Japanese guys took the label that brought us Dylan, Springsteen, Simon and Garfunkel and a LOT of other acts that questioned authority and BAM squelched any new ones from hitting it being (by not being signed).

    Throw in a pinch of MTV and a heavy dose of an ass-lick or two (see American Idol or even the Voice) and again,music no longer has the influence to help end a war(Vietnam ended due to an entire generation being inspired by countless anti-war protest songs).

    Now that Billy Bragg has slowed his US touring schedule and band like Rage Against the Machine are bundled and tied, name me who is going to replace the cultural icons known as the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Neil Young or a long string of others.

    Here I can go to Cat’s Cradle and 25 other venues to catch a huge sampling of the up and coming bands. Probably 20% have the chops and even the philosophy to challenge my theory that the days of a culture influenced by creative people has died. But can you name me one of these bands? Have you seen them live? Did you download their stuff?

    Worse yet, other than Kathy Acker and few others, which writers are busting full blast against the wars? OK Chris Hedges (the Pulitzer Prize winner fired from the New York Times) has it going on at http://www.truthout.com). Journalists who persist in investigative reporting are often fired.

    Hell, the movies and tv are a lost cause, and basically (look at all the cop shows on CBS alone!) feed such malicious propaganda (lies) that it makes me want to puke. TV? Who has time for that shit. And I say that in the face of a TON of new great shows…still it doesn’t outweigh the pro war, pro “tough on crime” poop. We’re being transferred into a country where the police are militarized, meaning someone somewhere believes more direct attacks (um police killing unarmed people is a problem that equals the racism behind it) on suspects is A-OK.

    Sprinkle in the icing: The Patriot Act ended Habeas Corpus, the legal belief that people MUST be told WHY they are being arrested, at the time of arrest. This has been in western law since 1215. Yes 1215, when King John was forced to sign the Magna Carta. Before I go off hard on how impossible it is to defend yourself if the cops or anyone else doesn’t tell you why you’re being arrested. Wow King George the Bush got this crap passe,d and the Supreme Court didn’t bat an eyelash (though it’s extremely unconstitutional) and the Constitutional expert,Barack Obama,also never once brought up overturning this foul law and Patriot Act 2, another insult. Had their been an effective watchdog ANYWHERE, this stuff might not have happened. Rise up young voices; or be squelched forever.

    Liked by 1 person

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