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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 2/14/14

Wealth, Power, and Happiness

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The Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh 1888
The Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh 1888
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From the Beginning

Mark Sashine made the following comment about Rob Kall's 23 January 2014 article "Treating Extreme Wealth as a Disease." [Author's Note--Words in brackets are corrections of spelling errors, or amplifications for the sake of clarity. These errors are much too common when you are in a hurry and type your comment on an OEN article too fast.]

"What you see are figureheads. I hope you don't really believe that one person can really OWN a billion dollars? First, there is no such thing as a billion dollars -- I hope you are not expecting a a pot of gold. Second, there is no such thing as OWNERSHIP -- when it [comes] to billions you can maybe talk management and monitoring but the collateral property has a life of its own. Thirdly, those people who play those [roles] belong to the powerful groups: they themselves without those groups are dead meat. No, groups also do not OWN property -- they [OWN] people, connections, networks, means of communications, tendencies, DECISIONS. That's a real power. Thus[,] what you see is bogus. Stop please trying to see [some normal] sense in it. There is no sense where a plot is evident. If you reject the [idea of] group/class warfare you might as well have fun masturbating... sorry. BTW, I teach engineering economics. Money does not grow on its own -- it does not grow at all. Money is in the eyes of the beholder."

Rob attached the following note to his article: This comment has been flagged. Reason: (Great Comment: Promote to Article) flesh this out into an article, please. rob kall

There was a similar note attached to my comment:

Rob--I don't think you are far wrong. The one symptom that stands out in every mental disorder is selfishness. I suffer from one of the lesser bipolar disorders, probably Type III, although I have had some symptoms of Type II when I was younger. When my illness acts up, one of the first signs is that I start feeling very selfish and unwilling to compromise or show any hint of generosity. Medical professionals I have asked about this agree that selfishness is a symptom of all mental disorders, including catatonia, because who's more into themselves than a catatonic.

This comment has been flagged

Reason: (Great Comment: Promote to Article) an article or essay on selfishness, with your comment as the starting point -- or not -- would be great. rob kall

Rob is absolutely right. Both comments need to be fleshed out into an article. And I am going to do my very best to do both Mark and myself justice.

  The Basis of Power and Wealth

  As I have stated in several previous articles (beginning with "The Tao of Government" (28 February 2009), despite Leon Trotsky's statement that all power comes out of the barrel of a gun (a sentiment later echoed by Chairman Mao), all power in reality is a phantasm, even if its manifestations are at times all too real. Power exists because we believe that it exists. As I have stated before: if tomorrow, all of the people of the United States of America believed I was this nation's rightful king, then I would be King; all of the rest of it would be paperwork.

Ever since the nineteenth century, when we began to do away with land ownership being both the basis and the measure of wealth in the western democracies (finally dying forever as the last of the medieval empires fell at the end of World War One), wealth has been based on what the equivalent cash value of all of your assets, real and paper, was perceived to be. Increasingly, from the middle of the twentieth century on, those assets were the value that was agreed to by society explicitly (real estate, capital, fiat currency), and implicitly (stocks and bonds), which the majority of first Western, then world society, believed that they had. And as computers, credit and debit cards, and other electronic resources have become more and more prevalent in our society, possession of physical assets that honestly mirror our wealth has become rarer and rarer.

Let us consider what one billion dollars ($1,000,000,000.00) equals in terms of pure physical dimensions.

If gold is valued at $1000.00 per ounce, one billion dollars of gold would weigh thirty-one and one-quarter tonnes (a tonne, or metric ton, is roughly 32,200 troy ounces), or roughly 1,375 50-lb. ingots. One billion dollars in one-hundred dollar bills would be one hundred thousand bundled stacks of $10,000.00 each.

To transport that much gold would require at least one and more probably two semi-tractor-trailer combinations. To haul that much currency would require at least that many, if not more, semi-tractor-trailers to safely move.

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Richard Girard is a polymath and autodidact whose greatest desire in life is to be his generations' Thomas Paine. He is an FDR Democrat, which probably puts him with U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders in the current political spectrum. His answer to (more...)
 

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