I recently watched the documentary, I Am, by director Tom Shadyac. Lots of thought provoking ideas. One in particular caught my attention: In nature, with the exception of a cancer cell, only a human takes more than it needs. And this is a recent development that came with capitalism. Aboriginal peoples lived in balance with their environment and some still do where they haven't been touched by modernity: Meaning they take what they need to live and nothing more.
Not us! Especially those who already have enormous wealth. And the then I read Paul Buchheit's article, 6 Filthy Facts About the Rich on Alternet.org.
This excerpt suggests the result of a system run amuck: "As evidence of the extremes between the very rich and the rest of us, the average household net worth for the top 1% in 2009 was almost $14 million, while the average household net worth for the bottom 47% was almost ZERO. For nearly half of America, average debt is about the same as average asset ownership.
The extremes are just as filthy at the global level. The richest 300 persons on earth (about a third of them in the U.S.) have more money than the poorest 3 billion people. Out of all developed and undeveloped countries with at least a quarter-million adults, the U.S. has the 4th-highest degree of wealth inequality in the world, trailing only Russia, Ukraine, and Lebanon."
What system is running amuck you ask? Mr. Buchheit goes on to write, "It's not the obligation of any one of these individuals to feed the world. The disgrace is in the fact that our unregulated capitalist system allows such outrageous extremes to exist.
Here's more to provoke outrage. The 400 richest Americans made $200 billion in just one year. That's equivalent to the combined total of the federal food stamp, education, and housing budgets."
This system of unfettered capitalism is devouring our souls, including the souls of those who benefit most. It justifies our quest for our own security by creating the illusion of separation and scarcity. It teaches that the natural order is competition and cooperation is for the weak and unable. It allows us to blame the victims for their plight.
The wealthy are the very people who own, operate and direct congress to further reduce funding to social programs to keep taxes low, loopholes in place, subsidies coming and the money flowing into their own coffers.
So the question occurred to me, how can any moral person believe a system that allows 300 people to own more wealth than 3 billion is anything but dysfunctional?
I think I found a hint here: From therawstory.com, "Climbing the economic ladder can influence basic psychological processes within an individual. According to a new study published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin this month, wealth tends to increase a person's sense of entitlement, which in turn can lead to narcissistic behaviors.
Paul Piff of the University of California at Berkeley told PsyPost "there is something about wealth that gives rise to a sense of entitlement, a sense that one deserves more good things in life than others, which in turn gives rise to an increased or inflated sense of self-importance, vanity, grandiosity, and omnipotence (narcissism)."
So what we have is system in stasis. It not only impoverishes the many for the few, but convinces the beneficiaries they deserve their extreme wealth and the poor deserve their poverty.
And just to be sure that the redistribution of wealth continues upward: From a piece by Barbara Garson on alternet.org, "Watch closely: I'm about to demystify the sleight-of-hand by which good jobs were transformed into bad jobs, full-time workers with benefits into freelancers with nothing, during the dark days of the Great Recession.
First, be aware of what a weird economic downturn and recovery this has been. From the end of an "average" American recession, it ordinarily takes slightly less than a year to reach or surpass the previous employment peak. But in June 2013 -- four full years after the official end of the Great Recession -- we had recovered only 6.6 million jobs, or just three-quarters of the 8.7 million jobs we lost.
Here's the truly mysterious aspect of this "recovery": 21% of the jobs lost during the Great Recession were low wage, meaning they paid $13.83 an hour or less. But 58% of the jobs regained fall into that category"