Spiteful Wishful Thinking and Poisoning of the Soul

Posted on October 10, 2011

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As the “Occupy Wall Street” movement continues and spreads across the nation, so are the vile remarks that have been made by certain high-profile members of our political echelons. Take Herman Cain for instance.

According to him, if you are not rich or if you don’t have a job, it’s your fault. So when people that have been working hard and dutifully for decades in manufacturing jobs get all of the sudden the pink slip because their jobs went to China, is it their fault? You could argue that they should have diversified their skills, but in a nation where formal, federal/state/local vocational training is non-existing, this is a stupid demand. Mr. Cain, are the 14 million+ unemployed unemployed because of their fault? What about the 18-year-old  out of HS with no education, or the 22-year old fresh out of college with several thousands of dollars in student loans debt, that cannot find a job because there aren’t any? Is is his fault? You might as well blame them from being born Mr. Cain.

Or how about New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who recently derided the protesters for trying to destroy the jobs of working people. A certain number of very powerful companies that employ those working people engaged in accounting creativity with consequences for millions. As I mentioned previously, attacking the malignancy of these practices in WS is not mutually exclusive of recognizing the value of WS’s legitimate practices. But Mr. Bloomberg and his ilk (and just about the entirety of the political establishment) have deep, self-jerking monetary dependencies with those under attack now. As a result, it should not be surprising to seeing him painting the situation as a zero-sum game devoid of moral implications.

A Sad Indictment

It is a sad indictment of society when the poor get systematically scorned as personal failures of the worst kind when they push forward against being ignored. This bellies an assumption that the only path to success in capitalism is that of entrepreneurship.

And yet this is unsubstantiated and unsupported by capitalism itself, since neither it, nor any other economic model or ideology, can operate with (or produce and absorb) an entire population made of nothing but entrepreneurs.

In other words, this is nothing more than disdainful wishful thinking with no practical basis… at best. As worst, it is premeditated, self-serving, arrogant sadism and narcissism.

We ain’t Here by Our Own Wits Alone

I consider myself – no, I know I am – an upper middle class individual. I’m well-off, and I have skills, hard-earned ones, that allow me to command excellent salaries not only in the US but almost anywhere else in the world should I had a penchant for traveling…

… or maybe not, but I’m certainly far better off that a lot of people. I got where I am by busting my ass off.

But even I in my condition of moderate affluence, the results of a lifetime of hard work and sacrifice, I know – because I’m neither that arrogant nor that fucking stupid – to pretend I got where I am all by myself.

There was an entire social and civil context around an economic model that allowed me, and the likes like me, to get, more or less, to where we have desired. There was a social ladder that allowed me to walk over it. Those ladders are numbering less and less by the minute.

To pretend that this is not the case, that our wits alone are not just necessary but sufficient,  and that the same opportunities for betterment still exist in proportional numbers, that is rubbish of the most vile, arrogant kind. Unfortunately, this poison seems widespread in our society.

Capitalism and Social Contracts

There are such thing as social contracts, humanism and the betterment of the working classes. Capitalism is not mutually exclusive of it. In fact, the former rules the later. The former gives the later a context in which society can better itself.

The concept of social justice is an ancient ones. Empires and state of old, morally shackled by the usage of slavery and other displays of cruelty as seen by our modern eyes, still were capable of formulating systems of social justice and social protection. Since the time of Hammurabi, down and through the Roman and Greek states, the Song Dynasty and the like, protection for the poor, however imperfect it might be, that was part of a government’s duty.

It is not something concocted by socialist hippies and commies. It is something with ancient precedents. It is part of human society. Why is it then that we delude ourselves into thinking that to implement a Capitalist system we must abandon such ideals? Capitalists like Henry Ford and Warren Buffett have demonstrated that this does not need to be the case, even if in the case of Ford, one could argue that his motives weren’t necessarily altruistic. There is benefit in providing facilities with which to improve the lives of the working classes.

Capitalism, like Socialism, Feudalism and Slavery are economic models. Morals, ethics and human rights are not part of economic models. They are part of social contracts, civic institutions and legal systems. The later regulate the former. Not the other way around.

To believe otherwise is also spiteful wishful thinking. Or worse, a self-serving immoral dagger with which to carve a bigger slice of the cake one is entitled to.

Are We a Developed Country Or Not?

The fact of the matter is that all countries aim to improve the lives of their citizens. And here in the US, where we pride ourselves of being numero uno, it would stand to reason that we aim to improve the lives of people in general. And yet, medical and dental care is beyond the reach of millions and social mobility is coming to a screeching halt.

One would expect that in a third world country. And it is equally a sad indictment that it is cheaper for me to travel to my country of origin, the 2nd poorest in the hemisphere, and get better medical and dental treatment than it is to do it here. Sadder still, if you are a poor person in such a country, the main limitation you might encounter in getting affordable health care is with transportation. As long as you live within walking or driving distance to a doctor, you will most likely have access to more affordable health care and social benefits than a poor person in this country.

This is the saddest indictment of all. And are we surprised that people rally behind the “Occupy Wall Street” movement? Is it appropriate to malign them and ridicule them when their grievances are not just real, and are not just theirs, but ours as well?

There is a difference between difficult times and an inexorable walk down the drain. Looking at the continuous betterment of humankind throughout the ages, one would imagine that things would be better in this country over time.  So one has to wonder, what the fuck happened?

And that’s the saddest indictment of all, on us, for it was us who, collectively, have allowed it to happen.

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