What Is It Good For? (2016Dec28)


Wednesday, December 28, 2016                                               5:04 PM

There are levels of civilization—there are communities that are more comfortable with brutality than others—and brutality can take many forms. When we look backwards in time, to an age when women were denied their full personhood under the law, we can appreciate the brutality of what was, to the people of that time (including the women), normal daily life. If we look at history we see civilizations that were comfortable with slavery, with debtors’ prisons, with stoning, with so-called honor-killing—and even war.

In many cases, we do not need to research the dim past to find these behaviors—they live among us still. Their very intransigence is often used as a rationalization by those who would suggest that society rules don’t apply uniformly—and may thus be ignored when inconvenient. However, here in the soft underbelly of 21st century, middle-income, suburban New York, we have reached a level of awareness that makes it possible to look at something as old and accepted as war—and say to ourselves that humanity is just a bunch of assholes fighting over thrones while the rest of us endure whatever madness and waste that leads to.

But lest you think I’m all het-up about the stupidity of war, settle back, bub. War is just the stupidest example. In every case of conflict or injustice, we can always see an easy solution—being generous. But this path is unfailingly left idle, while we wear grooves in all the very stupidest alternatives. Why? Well, because you can’t go feeding stray kittens—that’s why. If we’re too generous, we may end up with nothing left for ourselves!

And that is certainly a risk faced by overly-generous individuals. However, the global community could easily provide a comfortable life for every single soul on the planet—if it weren’t for one small detail: Modern civilization, as full of potential as it may be, is also predicated on greed and competition.

We search in vain for ways to make a competitive system a humanitarian system as well—we even run into bloated fat-cats who think universal healthcare is overly generous. Point one—if it weren’t for the selfless humanitarian pioneers in the field of medicine, there wouldn’t be these bloodless Big-Pharma and Insurancing entities, sucking their profits out of the veins of the sick and infirm. Point two—it is more efficient to provide universal public healthcare than it is to squeeze maximum profits from the solvent and let the poor slip between the cracks. While individual profit-centers may suffer, the overall public expense is less when using the charitable option.

And let’s face it—most people don’t want programs giving away free stuff to poor people, because they hate their damn jobs and they resent anyone who gets something out of it, besides themselves. They don’t stop to think that their stingy boss is getting most of the profit from their work—and the boss, besides getting out of working hard, even gets to boss them around. But sure, go ahead and resent poor people, if you think that’s your enemy. And don’t forget to kiss ass at work.

The truth is right in front of us—being generous is the best way to lower violence and suffering—and it is far more effective than coercion or scare-tactics, because once you have a community that feels secure and comfortable, you couldn’t break them out of their living rooms with dynamite. Jobs that pay a lot of money create people who spend a lot of money. Paying big bonuses to hot-shots in upper management doesn’t create any commerce—it depresses it by creating a huge group of non-consumers.

The concentration of wealth among 1% of the population creates the same kind of stagnation that keeping all your money in a safe creates—those bloated, confused billionaires don’t have the slightest fraction of the energy for commerce, for buying and selling, for growing and making, that the same money would find in the hands of large numbers of the working classes. Those billions of dollars might just as well not exist to begin with. And that is all beside the point of the unacceptable injustice of Post-Capitalism—where everyone works harder and harder, getting poorer and poorer—except for the greedy pigs and the corrupt legislators.

And that is my point today—we spend a great deal of time bewailing the horrendous injustices of our Capitalist paradigm (as well we should) but we should spare equal time for considering that this unfairness is not merely wrong and cruel—it is also stupid. It is idiotic to base our lives solely on competing for money—but if you ask any Trump voter, they will assure you that that’s the American way. And by Trump voter, I mean to suggest a stupid person.

We are about to get quite a show from the crowd of leeches that constitute the incoming administration—they’re going to slash and burn every vestige of liberalism they can find. The sad thing about these money-grubbing turds is that they will not be replacing anything they tear down—they will not add one note of grace or gleam of bounty to our lives—they may even destroy themselves as they tear at the delicate fabric of so many reasonable men’s and women’s efforts to form a better union. They offer nothing but spite and bile—and it is a great shame that we did not see them coming, before we were stuck with them.

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