Well it is 2018 and life goes on. Presumably it will be another year of wanting “more.” Seems no longer are the “people” satisfied with “enough.”
“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. Such folk don’t give a rat’s ass about the general welfare of the “people.”
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. Like it’s a game.
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 for billionaires and corportions, 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 up his ass – like he gives two shits 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 a stupid “loser” for holding such a view.
Now in my 75th year I know my time has passed. I am a child of the second half of the 20th century, those years now receding into the distance. This is the time of my children and the future will be my grandson’s time. He is going where I cannot.
What will life and the world be like in 500 or a thousand years?
A future with aliens? Technology we cannot even imagine? Great progress of humankind? The virtual halting of the aging process? Total control of population growth with sex only as recreation. Designer babies grown in labs? A common world language and world government with a great deal of local control? The disappearance of “race” through centuries of inter-marriage? The disappearance of religion as myth?
Who knows. Maybe not. Maybe nuclear holocaust and 11th century villages. Maybe destruction via technology. Maybe we are all gone through our own most grievous fault or asteroid collision. Maybe there are billions fewer of us due to a culling of our specie through war or a exhaustion of resources. Maybe the billionaires have moved on to a terra-formed Mars leaving this desolate planet for the rest of us.
If you had asked a brilliant man in 1017 what the world would be like in 2017 I think he would be as unlikely to come up with an answer that bore any resemblance to the modern world. In those days having a sword made of steel was considered the be-all, end-all of technology; being able to light a fire was a good skill.
A thousand years ago the Holy Roman Empire had established itself as Europe’s most powerful kingdom while in England a unified Kingdom of England was establishing itself from the small and numerous Anglo-Saxon principalities. Byzantium was in a protracted war to bring modern day Bulgaria to heel while the Papacy was in a protracted period of decline (“The Rule of Harlots”) which would result in the Great Schism with Orthodoxy in the 11th century. On Christmas Day in 1000 Stephen I was crowned the first King of Hungary which eventually became the pre-eminent cultural power in Central Europe. The Islamic city of Cordoba was the largest city in the world with 450,000 inhabitants. Islam would dominate southern Spain for centuries to come..
Who living then could have imagined space travel and the cell phone? A thousand years from now? Who knows even though “futurists” try to imagine.
We are the people of our time. Few of us will be remembered. Each of us dies twice. First when we die – and second when our name is spoken for the last time.
So live and love for today!
Happy New Year!