The rich really are not so different
~ But by the grace of God it would too be me.
I’ve written a lot, and lately, about the “good guys” and the “bad guys” and those of different genders perhaps (too) stuck in between. My theory has been that there are those that, to coin a phrase, might as well be cold-blooded, cold-hearted reptilians living not unlike the lizard of Geico with a smile on the face, but just the wind-up of corporate money (or worse) to keep him (or her) going. These lizards smile so sweetly, you just, “gotta love um”.
The question on the plate today is, “do you?” My son disagrees with me. He says that maybe there really just are no “bad guys”, or if there are there really aren’t that many, in fact there are remarkably few. He believes that every person “has a story” and that every person is the “hero” of the story that they tell; or of the story that they tell to themselves, to oneself, to the one that listens when nobody else in their right mind will.
Every person (he declaims) thinks that they (he, she or it) is the “good guy”, or is at least a good guy, a person that goes about “doing the right thing”, “doing no harm”, or at least doing no real harm to all the “others” (meaning people like me and you) and that if they do harm (like killing people in the military) they are just the good guys, killing the “bad guys” so that they can see themselves as the heroes in the on-going play that involves the meme of “making (or moving toward) a better world”.
I have a good friend that works high up for a billionaire, or near billionaire, not Warren Buffet, but you would probably recognize the name if I wrote it down right here. This friendship (and the job) results in a lot of stories. Most of the stories are about how really different the very rich are; they often ride in private jets, drink the blood of fresh killed snakes in China, stay in five star hotels and complain when the hotel does not have six.
A recent story involved this “billionaire”, who makes perhaps $10,000 (or much more) per day, and his meeting with an employee in one of his factories in China who makes about $8 per day by working lots of overtime on top of his 10 hour per day (28 days per month) regular shift. The “take home” line is that things are getting better; the worker made only $3 per day not that long ago at this same factory. The “billionaire” is the hero of this story, for paying wages so low that $8 per day seems like he’s making someone rich.
In a capitalist’s eyes every person fired is really a person just sent into the future on a better way. Every person will get a better job, move up, or go out and borrow the money to get a “better” education. Even the workers wife and hungry kids will thank the factory owner some day, “thank you for firing my dad, making me starve, causing us to lose the house and all – it made me a better person – it killed my Dad, made my mother a widow, made me an orphan, but made me a better person learning in real time how corporate America really works – put my mother on welfare, just so you could call her a ‘cheat’.”
The very rich tell themselves a lot of little lies each day. They believe that laws interfere with their making of more money, and that they are just like all the others, “everybody cheats”. They believe that taxes are the curse that stands between wisdom and prosperity, thinking they alone (and a few friends) are alone in being wise, by making so much money, and that if all taxes disappeared they could make more money and a few more $8 per day jobs and the whole planet would be getting better.
Recently, my billionaire friend (once removed) was dabbling in philosophy, “the rich are such nice people”, is what he said. I think he really believes it. Like Mitt Romney, he has never known “poor”. He has never known a really poor person in his entire life, unless it was some poor worker who would smile and say anything just to get or keep a job.
So what about all the people in between? Every person who admires the rich, wants to be rich, wants to be “different” like the rich knows how to act and think like the rich, too. The rich are not so different because they have so many imitators. Almost everyone now robs and cheats and steals, cheats on taxes, cheats their customers and the consumers, cheats on their husband or their lover or their wife.
Everyone cheats on their diet, cheats on what they report and pay, cheats when it comes to truth-telling, cheats on the hours that they are supposed to (or say) they work. It is that “good rich taste”. It is the taste of corruption, when seemingly every product and service has gone bad.
So, if all this lying and cheating and behaving like the rich has gotten the planet so far in such a hurry why are things as messed up as they are now? The rich tell themselves that because of what they did (in life) the world got a little better, even the poor got a little richer, even the worst off got a few more trinkets to play with that amused them. They say that the American dream and the world dream is alive and well; they hope and pray that nobody ever really wakes up.
Think of the world and your life as a Cinderella story. Cinderella was grateful for a few crusts of food and a warm fire gone cold. Shoes and a new dress were out, but she knew that only the very rich deserved such things, so she was happy. The rich and their fans and followers say it doesn’t matter what could be; it doesn’t matter what could happen if the real wise men and women of the world arose. They say that things are “good enough”, they say look at Cinderella, they say, “she has no right to go to any ball”.
Mice and pumpkins are the fantasy. Like the American dream it is just a fairy tale that will never come true. Cinderella is still out there working. And on a million backs of people just like her the rich, the very rich and the wanna-be rich are turning America and the planet to a hell on earth fit only for cold-blooded lizards, of which there are (probably) more than just a few.
2012.06.30 – 22:14.