Tuesday, March 31, 2020 6:05 AM
Things They Oughtn’t (2020Mar31)
The sad truth is that the educated, rational folks who produce modern technology are not always anticipating, say, the Internet’s potential, in the hands of a misanthropic, irrational troublemaker. America’s vaunted freedoms are based partly on the lag time, between something starting to happen—and the eventual legislative remedy for abuse of the new technology.
Capitalism, too, subsists in no small part on that gray area between unthoughtful and illegal. Very few people would actually be comfortable with wealth, knowing that its source was a criminal rip-off, or the cause of climate change, or caused cancer, or was manufactured by under-aged slave-labor.
But there are arms-manufacturers, pharmaceutical price-hikers, oil industry execs, bankers, investors, PR folks, etc. who are all willing to live by the maxim: ‘If I don’t do it, someone else will. And where does that leave me?’’ And I must admit, as heuristics go, it’s difficult to find fault with that reasoning.
However, I find that a good, solid argument can often be the worst kind of roadblock to an open mind. Perhaps I should state, rather than leave implicit, that an open mind is the most important part of personal liberty. Oddly, no one can give you an open mind—and no one can take an open mind away from you (just FYI and bye-the-bye).
Thus I have ever linked (since childhood) freedom of thought and open-minded-ness as core to being a solid American citizen. Perhaps this is what Conservatives don’t understand about Liberal values? I dunno. To resume:
Capitalism’s emphasis on ownership is reasonable within the bounds of business. But what Marx so inconveniently pointed out was, that the bounds of business often ignored the bounds of decency or humanity. We see the ultimate metastasis of Civilization’s “Big C” in the morphing of the USA from a land of overall wealth, to a land of poverty, with a handful of billionaires.
Bad people will do a lot of things they oughtn’t do—that doesn’t force us to do likewise, nor should we mistake their behavior for ’leadership’. Wealth has, for too long, accorded unearned dignity and false brilliance to its random lottery-of-inheritance winners.
And let’s not forget those savage enough to claw their way up, from nothing. They made themselves rich—shouldn’t a role-model show people how to rise up as a group?
I get it—it’s a great accomplishment—no denying. But at my age, I’ve come to suspect that I have more fun, imagining wealth, without knowing about all the pain-in-the-ass details, than an actual Richie Rich enjoys his actual dollars. I could be wrong. But I’m not.
Ask anyone—they’ll assure you: Money is everything. Yeah, you buy food and pay rent with it—but not always. Some people grow their own food. Some people live in their cars. Money is big—real big. But stop brain-washing yourself—money is NOT everything. It is an invention—when it stops working, people will stop using it.
That’s probably going to be a lot messier. I mean, than if we don’t make a conscious choice to shift towards increased social-service and social-support programs while the dregs of the outdated C system are still chugging away.
Science Fiction always predicts a future without want or payment—a post-need society. Ask HR what they think of that idea—ask the SCOTUS, while you’re at it. Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek made it all seem so simple. But can we get there from here?