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Further Meditations on Worship of Wealth
Great wealth leverages "rights" arising from prehistory: that treasure accrues when possessed as "private property," thus granting "owners" godlike control (to sell, gift or trade, to dominate, to lay waste). Though "private" means independent of the state or church, our Founders implicitly sanctified material goods when dedicating the republic to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." And individualism, as in personal liberty, personal happiness.
One wonders why Founding men of means, enraged against "outside" violations of past commercial rights, didn't add private property (separate from state dominion) to this triad of noble goals. What is liberty or happiness without decent living conditions and the wherewithal "to make a good living"? Does America's legendary singularity -- a frenzied work ethic for "making money"-- correlate with happiness and life --or anxiety when haves, gaining their perch, forever dread bankruptcy, even poverty? For the record, "private" spans both personal possessions (homes, cars, guns) plus corporate/organizational property (for profit, not-for-profit, whatever).
Though inequality surfaced before cities, religion, or political dynasties, it's still going strong, the modern Divine Right of Property. Did not wealth begin when some beefy cave dweller growled, "Mine, by right. Beware: do not touch"? That innovator fused previously "outside" stuff with his "inside" personhood -- and every monarch since anchored status, muscle and fealty with superior holdings. The word "treasure" peaks volumes: the noun means fabulous wealth, the verb, that which we highly cherish, even venerate.
Though ownership dominates every era and place, massive wealth concentrations since the 1870's, the offspring of industrialism, altered the entire dynamic as ordinary citizens now matched kings and czars. So much so this new "divine right of private property" allows a gang of unelected billionaires today to bomb democratic rule, let alone mass prosperity for generations. Until progressives (again) disrupt the sanctity of "private" property, what halts the multiple trespasses against the middle class, majority rule, and the rights of the public?
No reform means abandoning what above all made America exceptional: socioeconomic mobility for immigrants dreaming of freedom, especially freedom FROM want and poverty. No reform means the great lever of crony capitalism endures, wherein high risks are socialized by the many while profits are privatized and, worse still, under-taxed.
New Deal, Reincarnated
What else drives the Bernie Sanders movement -- lurching beyond a campaign -- to restore our best, system-saving revolution, the New Deal, the pinnacle of the Progressive Era? What else drives groups like Revolt Against Plutocracy? To educate, then force redistribution of all earned income that recognizes the right to enjoy collective national productivity. Is this a hard concept, even to fans of Trumpery: let all who contribute to the economic complex, without which there'd be no great wealth, get a fair share.