Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Envy, Disgust, Outrage, Hatred

Envy, one of the seven deadly sins, I guess Willard Mitt believes we are all sinners because we envy him his wealth. Somehow I think I can hear echoes of his parents telling him as a child, “If the other kids don’t like you it’s because they are just envious,” a belief that he seems to have internalized and carried forward into adulthood. I wonder if Mr. One Percent has any idea of the lives that most people live. Looking back on my own life, and the hundreds, probably thousands of other people I have known, I cannot think of a single example of anyone who aspired to be wealthy at the level Romney is wealthy. Most ordinary people aspire to become engineers, physicists, chemists, doctors, lawyers, nurses, teachers, firemen, policemen, historians, geologists, botanists, psychologists, sociologists, and whatever. Others, not fortunate enough to attend a University settle for becoming plumbers, electricians, clerks, and so on. Virtually no one I have ever known aspired to become multimillionaires or billionaires. It is possible this is because they knew that would never happen to them so they did not think about it in the first place, but in any case they tried to make the best of their lives doing something they thought possible for them and managed to live reasonably happy and productive lives. In my own case I can assure you I did not wish to become an anthropologist because I believed I would ever become wealthy. I don’t believe Romney has any appreciation of these facts of life. I also believe his candidacy for President is now dead. I do not see how the Republicans could possibly run a candidate labeled Mr. One Percent, who has now proven to be even more wealthy than that, at a moment in history when inequality has become the leading issue in the race.

I think his insistence that anyone who dares to bring up the subject of his wealth or inequality is merely envious is simply disgusting and betrays an enormous ignorance of life in the world of ordinary people. He, and the others in his tax bracket, unless perhaps they have actually personally earned their wealth through invention and hard work, simply live in another world entirely from ordinary people. They live in different neighborhoods, eat in different restaurants, live in more elegant housing, drive better automobiles, go to better schools, and for the most part do not fraternize with lesser souls or peasants. This is precisely why Romney comes across as totally inauthentic when he pretends to be someone he is not.

Having now been informed of the true size of his fortune and the fact that he apparently makes $57,000 a day, more than most people earn in a year, and does nothing to earn it other than possess a fortune, I am outraged. And if he believes he is entitled to accumulate so much money so easily I am even more outraged. The fact that he also is allowed to pay less in taxes than ordinary working people outrages me even more than that. Quite frankly, I believe that anyone who makes more than, say, a million or two a year should be taxed 100 per cent. And no one, under any circumstances, should be allowed to have a billion or more in personal wealth. I don’t know exactly what the limit should be, but once that generous limit is met they should be taxed at 100 per cent. If the limit is established high enough this would not hurt anyone and would greatly benefit everyone. I do not believe anyone should be allowed to make millions year after year simply because they inherited or otherwise accumulated large fortunes which then have no further purpose other than allowing them to make even more money by doing nothing. Let them have plenty to live the high life up to a reasonable extent but no more.

I am not personally much of a hater. I have trouble staying mad at anyone for more than five minutes no matter how they might have offended me. But I can easily understand how envy (if it exists as Romney thinks it does), disgust, and outrage can lead eventually into outright hatred. When a few have so much, and so many have so little, and there is such an enormous disparity, it is not difficult to see potential trouble ahead. This situation can be made much worse when those who have so much resist even giving up a little. Some of them, like Warren Buffet seem to understand this and are willing to at least consider parity in their percentage of taxes. But even here we are talking about a mere five to ten percent increase in the taxes of the absolutely incredibly wealthy. I find this absurd, outrageous, and hateful. A person with billions of dollars could easily pay hundreds of millions in taxes and still not even notice the difference, a five or ten percent increase is little more than a tip for the shoeshine boy. I find it incredible that the American public accepts what is happening with our tax code, and now that it is becoming more public I doubt they will for much longer. In the case of people like Romney this is not a case of rewarding the successful, it is simply rewarding the accident of birth. If for some reason you have money you can easily make more money. If you are poor you are doomed to stay that way. The situation is getting worse. It is not as things should be.

Nothing is more admirable than the fortitude with which millionaires tolerate the disadvantages of their wealth.

Rex Stout

4 comments:

dan said...

re Thursday, August 26, 2004
Humanicide

dan said...

Professor can you reblog on this new idea, and reference your good 2004 blog post too? find me in Taiwan at danbloom@gmail.com, Tufts 1971

HUMANICIDE COULD HAPPEN

by Biko Lang
bikolang@gmail.com

Michael Adzema is a writer, a primal therapist, an independent scholar
and a breathwork facilitator, among things, he been a longtime social
activist as well. Now in his early 60s, and living in the Eugene,
Oregon area in the Pacific Northwest, Adzema recently coined a new
word that
is going viral as you read -- ''humanticide''. Yes, you read that
correctly, and read it one more time: humanticide.

It can be spelled two ways, both as ''humanticide'' or more simply as
''humanicide''. Think suicide of the human species. Think specicide
and ecocide and factor in the human factor in terms of global warming
and climate change and what we humans are doing to the planet without
letup, 24/7, 365 days a year, decade by decade. If we don't get the
carbon dioxide emissions under control soon, and wean ourselves off
our addiction to coal and oil, the future might indeed be bleak.

So Adzema thought it might be a good idea to have a powerful word as a
social media and rallying cry weapon in our arsenal against apathy and
denial, and he came up with the term "humanticide" as a new coinage.

"I think the reason we don’t have a word for this concept, of
humankind killing off humankind in a kind of mass suicide due to
environmental and
climate impasses is because most people don;t want to acknowledge all
this," he said in a recent email. "So coining a term for it is a step
towards shining a light into this darkness -- and a darkness we don't
even want to see, for the most part"

"Humanticide is like the term ''infanticide'', but gives us a new
connotation -- the extinction of the species of humans," he said,
adding: "I think
it raises awareness exactly in a way we need -- by giving people a
point of focus -- so that we can better 'age against the machine'."

Yes, language matters. With this new word, we can better see where we
are and where we might be headed.
It's not a pretty picture, for sure, but language isn't always meant
to be pretty or decorative. In this case, Adzema's mew coinage
is downright ugly! But that's what we are up against if we don't take
action to scale back our addiction to coal and oil -- a very ugly and
ungainly future scenario.

Let's not go there, Instead, let's use Adzema's new term to better
focus on what needs to be done in order to prevent, yes, humanticide
of the human species.

A new word is born. Let's hope it pays off.

dan said...

danny bloom, 1949-2032, Tufts 1971 grad, says: and hopes the good professor will email me at danbloom At gmail DOT com

I recently discovered an Idaho blogger, an 83-year old -- was born the day of the Great Crash) retired UCLA Anthropology professor who blogs under the name Morialekafa. He posts one long essay a day. They are always worth reading, but this one from 2009 was and is particularly relevant. Just a sample:


''Goebbels, it turns out, might have been a pioneer when it came to lying, but he is now passé. It was Herr Goebbels, I believe, who said something to the effect that “if you tell a big lie often enough people will come to believe it.” Rove, Bush and Cheney refined that technique by discovering that if you tell constant lies about everything, all the time, truth simply becomes completely irrelevant. That is what I think is going on now. We have reached the point where the lies have become so commonplace and ubiquitous that no one has any idea of truth anymore. This is why Republicans can now say anything they wish, no matter how unbelievably ridiculous, and there will be at least some who will believe them. And it is also why whatever Democrats say cannot be believed because no one believes there is any truth anymore. Thus when Republicans say the Obama health care proposals mean that old people will be put to death, no Democratic denial matters, because we have all been conditioned to understand that no one tells the truth. If Bachmann claims there were 50,000 or 500,000 supporters at her rally in D.C., and someone else claims there were a million, the police claim of 4,000 is no more acceptable than the larger numbers, because who knows anymore who is lying? If Republicans claim a huge victory in the election last Tuesday, and Democrats think otherwise, who is to know? Everything nowadays is just considered “spin” because that is what we have been fed for the past eight or more years. I have to concede, however grudgingly, that this was a brilliant strategy on the part of Bush/Cheney. The result of it is that nothing can be taken seriously as there is no truth.''

A good meta-comment on the whole situation we're in.

dan said...

The writer is an 83 year old retired professor of Anthropology from UCLA who lives in that reddest of states, Idaho who blogs as "Morialekafa" at a blog of the same name. He posts one long, careful essay a night, and they are all opinionated and delightful. I have to give one more quote, after his family convinced him to read a biography of Jim Morrison:
"After I read the first two chapters, the first thing that popped into my head was a great line from one of Dorothy Parker’s book reviews, “This book should not be tossed aside lightly, it should be thrown with great force.” I was prepared to do this, but my son insisted I should read on as it would tell me a lot about the 60’s. I was not certain I wanted to know more about the 60’s than I already knew, but I soldiered on. Soon I was again ready to give up, but my wife (who is much younger than I am) insisted that some of the music and lyrics were not so bad. So I continued on, but not for long. I have failed to read this book. My mother taught me, “If you can’t say something nice about someone or something, don’t say anything.” So I am not saying anything."

But it on your bloglist, it is a delightful day-ender.

Which reminds me...

Good night.