August 24, 2007
Until 9-11, and its ensuing epiphany, I wasn't much interested in economics. Then I quickly grasped that studying the arcane art of money and power was much more entertaining than watching the best Hollywood thriller ever produced. Before stating anything else further, my belief is that economics and philosophy complete one another. Although some might argue otherwise, a diatribe as to whether 'Envy' belongs to the realm of philosophy or economics doesn't serve any real purpose at this stage. The bottom line is that 'envy' is detrimental to wallets and portfolios. As a matter of fact, in the Western culture, the world 'Envy' doesn't sound as bad as 'Jealousy'. In many instances 'envy' is even perceived as flattering. It has little to do with its initial meaning, which you will see can be highly threatening.
One of the most striking examples of blatant 'envy' is the made-in China buying frenzy, especially the counterfeit market that may reach up to 1.3 trillion dollars in the world economy by 2010. As most of the glamorous brands selling 'envy' relocated in China in order to satisfy their 'envious' stockholders, their products also became a lot more affordable for the masses. Dynamics of the market being what are, the democratization of 'envy' played out as expected. Indeed it didn't take long at all to see the invasion of fake goods increasing exponentially.
The madness of the 'envious' crowds will end in tears once again. The 'live richly' mindset has much to do with the craze that pumped up the average Chinese stocks by more than 400% since late 2005 - and which shows no sign of slowing. The Chinese government cannot do a thing to rein in the so-called red-hot economy.
But let's go back to our knockoff issue. Considering that this underground market is deeply rooted and has allowed rampant corruption, it is now entirely futile to seek the protection of law enforcement. Furthermore, what will the situation be like within the 5 to 10 years ahead? It can only go from bad to worse: the quality also being determined by the laws of demand and supply has gotten so much better that the difference between the real and the faux is fading gradually. We can effectively see the 'envy' at work from the top down. While is it difficult to say when exactly, one doesn't need a PhD in economics to foresee the next scenario: those who can really afford the real brand names will look for new symbols of wealth, leaving the current ones at the mercy of the mass market.
Although little is said about that, the consumer ought to know: beside electronics, there now also are knockoff drugs, auto and airplane pieces finding their way to the market. The message is clear; Nature has worked in a way to make us understand that a big gap between the rich and the poor cannot exist. That 'financial envy' translates into a suicide economy. The 'sky is the limit theory' is a first-class delusion… along with power. Central bankers, which helped those famous brand names to take over the world using mega-jumbo-loans, do not and cannot create wealth. They are highly skilled illusionists implementing the best democracy and economy money can buy at the expense of the gullible.
Instead of paraphrasing boring theories, here is another resonating example: just imagine that you've got enough money to buy yourself a home and are given the choice between two quite different neighborhoods. The choice between a smaller and a bigger house: the smaller one costing more because it is located in a better neighborhood. Considering that the majority tends to live beyond its means, the data suggest that the nicer part of the town would be chosen. It is the 'envy' that foments the dream of having as much as (or more than) our neighbors after all - doesn't it?
By its very nature, 'envy' is generally associated with materialistic possessions - consciously or not. People find nothing amiss with labeling neighborhoods according to their financial states. They do not realize that it is their 'envy', which makes speculation more acute in certain boroughs than others.
So in the case of the housing industry, the fact that 'envy' might favor self-segregation is not far fetched. And as we all know there is a link between cultures and economics. But is it ethical? That 1 million of individuals believe in the same lies doesn't make them true. 'Self-segregated envy' is like banding together to party, but has consequences such as fueling discrimination ghettoization and by extension, racism. Over the time there surfaces an agenda to evict people from poorer neighborhoods when the nicest 'envied zones' start becoming overcrowded. People do not understand the boomerang dynamics of a so-called red-hot market, which they have themselves created; that a skyrocketing market ends up pricing out potential buyers; forcing those earning less to resort to credit cards use for doing simple daily errands. While (these days) it is hip to express amazement at the living standards of anyone who can afford a hefty mortgage, credit expansion inflates the value about just nearly everything on a national scale. And since salaries are never adjusted to inflation, a loss of purchasing is generally felt as a fatality.
So the need for affordable housing remains high on our politicians'agenda. The government comes to the rescue at the expenses of the taxpayers. Enforcing charity is a concept that lacks logic. Intuitively people endorsing this ideology know that they are being taken for a ride by 'envy' but as do not know how to fight it, they end up imitating the opponents called 'the evil right'. This said, generosity is not a liberal trait, there are genuine charitable people everywhere, but Leftists are the most vocal when it comes to social programs to counter "envious corporations and their henchmen". It is a near certainty that after the world crash, that the victims of 'envy' will call for more solutions in favor of 'wealth redistribution', across all political spectrums.
Ironically the fight against inequality depends on our own willingness to analyze the consequences of 'Envy'. The liberal fight against poverty was doomed from the start. Inequality will be dramatically reduced the day we stop fighting for it. It is the motivation of 'Envy' versus 'Envy'. 'Vengeance' goes along with 'envy'. As described at the very end of my earlier editorial, group fighting has been throughout history a massive failure. This has happened despite the so-called lobbies and their so-called safety nets in place to protect the consumers' from envy. Because the objectives are never attained, the victims of 'power and speculation envy' demand more and more. But let's not shy away from the harsh reality. What motivates such behaviors is called 'wealth redistribution envy'. Fueling each others' envy, as we can now see, has framed us into a fatal dead end.
It is also worth to noting that all currencies have a long history of envy. Just like fiat money commonly named IOUs, the 'gold envy' , too, has provoked countless wars when trade agreements were making rackets look cheaper. This formula is still a framework today. It would be wrong to perceive this editorial as written for Christians. Other religions and cultures refer to 'envy' as the 'evil eye'. The Bible regards 'envy' as a capital sin. People aware of the 'threat envy' will tend to live more simply and hide many signs of their successful enterprises. Developing a good sense of humility is the message here. Obviously religious leaders, in the broadest sense, have failed to teach the basic appropriate insights. To change the course of destiny, an individual realization must come first.
Let's dig deeper if you do not mind.
The Founding Fathers knew a great deal about 'power envy', and this is precisely why they advocated 'self-government'. An ideal that has not gone very far and now resembles a mere utopia. Though I wish all the best to Ron Paul, the only true constitutionalist and who was last month interviewed by Google executive Elliot Schrage. Remember that hope doesn't exist unless it is followed by actions!
Envious people are obsessed with the greedy. Greed, which basically a double-edged sword, is not fundamentally dangerous since it is about protecting ones own assets more or less compulsively. It is not our business if our neighbors save every dime they can after all. Saving is good. But when greed is supported by envy, then we have a lethal cocktail. 'Power envy' and 'greed envy' are the perfect bedfellows that also go along with 'demise'.