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Plutocracy Ignores Purpose

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Nobility means dignity.   Because of the possible beneficial effects, any work done well can lead to dignity.   In our time, every citizen can feel a sense of mission, purpose and importance.   Every task can be considered an act of service to our nation when that task is done well.   In this way every act can be an act of public service.   And in this way every kind of work can be noble.   This is the message if you believe individuals have an inherent purpose.   But this is not the message of Plutocracy. Plutocracy ignores purpose.

The Important Wealthy

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As Merriam-Webster defines it, Plutocracy, is "government by the wealthy."   But mere government by the wealthy is not really the problem.   The following quote defines the issue:

"There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what".who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it".These are the people who pay no income tax".And so my job is not to worry about those people.   I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."

The issue, simply stated, is essentially this:   today in America, Plutocracy means government by the wealthy, for the wealthy.

The above quote reveals this because the speaker states that his "job is not to worry" about the 47%.   As he sees the task of president, his job is to worry about the ones who carry the burden of paying for those "dependent" on the federal government.   

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Those dependents he does not have to worry about.   Why? He does not have to worry about them because they are not important.   From the standpoint of the speaker and those who were listening with approval, the dependents are not important because they are not makers of wealth.     For the speaker and his listeners only the makers of wealth are significant.   Those who do not make wealth are insignificant: only the wealthy have value, those without wealth are worthless.   And that is the issue.  

   An Ethic of Love

Every action properly done is an act of public service no matter how high or how lowly the actor.   Every action is significant and every single person is critically important.   For even the vagrant on the street has the power to ruin your day or end your life.

In practical terms, this means that any task can be done in one-way or the other. Any job, any work, can be done by using the power of that effort solely for one's own benefit or by looking out for the benefit that job's real purpose has for others: whether it is President of the United States or garbage collector.     True service is achieved when any job unites power and purpose in benefit to the public.

A foster parent, who raises a child who has lost his or her parents to drugs, or mental illness, does our whole society a service when this work is done well.   The garbage man, who searches through filth to find a lost and cherished wedding ring, performs a service to our whole society, not merely the recipient of the ring.    The fireman who runs into a burning building to rescue injured occupants or even to save property does our whole society a service.    

These listed tasks are only a few of the many that could be pointed out.   This is so because there are teachers, nurses, daycare providers, laborers, policeman, janitors, librarians, and more whose tasks are essential to the quality of our lives.   None of these tasks will generate immense wealth.   But the lack of wealth-generation does not and should not make these individuals insignificant.     

People who do their work for the benefit of others do so out of an ethic of love.   It is love, not from an emotional outburst, but love because they measure the excellence of the work done in terms of its benefit to others, instead of the benefit to themselves.   The simple refrain is:   "I'm glad I could help."  

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President Franklin Delano Roosevelt said "".our true destiny is not to be ministered unto but to minister to ourselves and to our fellow men."

Making wealth is only one type of work among many others.   It does not constitute a basis for rule.   It is not even more essential than any other type of work.   That wealth is power goes almost without saying.   But power without purpose is merely misguided power.   And there is no purpose in action that only benefits the few.   If an action does not benefit all, it is not motivated by purpose. Every single person has a purpose. No one is insignificant.


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Eric Z. Lucas is an alumnus of Stanford University (Creative Writing Major: 1972-1975), the University of Washington (1981: BA English Literature and Elementary Education) and Harvard Law School, J.D. 1986. Since law school he has been a public (more...)

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