by Jack Bragen
[dropcap]I[/dropcap]t is astoundingly unfortunate that the more “down and out” someone appears, the more abuse gets shoveled at them from people more fortunate. Homeless people, who have fallen upon bad luck or hard times, are looked upon with disdain by most people.
It was encouraging to me when I saw a homeless person on crutches having difficulty crossing the street at a busy intersection, when a woman got out of her older model Toyota and helped that person get across the street. Those who help homeless people are often the same ones who are to some extent struggling economically themselves.
It seems that nature has given us the ability to cut off compassion and empathy, as a matter of survival. However, this same instinct of cutting people off is now jeopardizing the human species.
When on the receiving end of cruelty, it can be horrifying to see that one’s perpetrator doesn’t care that they are hurting you — or they are even happy about it.
In order to wreak violence on others, whether the violence is economic, social, psychological or physical, it is first necessary to perceive the intended victim as less than a person. To acknowledge our common humanity makes it far more difficult for this evil to be performed.
Thus, anyone who opposes government policies becomes a traitor. Innocent people in other countries and now here in the United States are suddenly “enemy combatants.” People of lower socioeconomic status have become “white trash,” “trailer trash,” or worse. Anyone who is not in the corporate world or country-club set doesn’t count as a “real” person.
Homeless people are perceived by mainstream society as being something less than a person, to be avoided, or to be rounded up and driven out of sight.
Ruthless people have taken control of society. Describing them as callous would be an understatement. Their philosophy is, “I’ve got mine, and if you want any, good luck getting it yourself.”
Their greed and lust for the feeling of power are unchecked by any consideration for others, and they are having a grand old time wrecking everything. It’s “everybody out for themselves” and they are having a “free for all” of grabbing all of the wealth and resources.
The gross inequality of our society, the way human rights are trampled underfoot, and the hoarding of vast amounts of wealth, all demonstrate the short-sighted, small-minded heartlessness of the economic elites. And this growing disparity and economic inequality in our society is unsustainable in the long run.
Reasoning with perpetrators like these people is about as useless as reasoning with a broken microwave oven. The poor and the middle class all have to get angry, organize, and come up with some kind of massive boycott of the rich. We can’t expect those in power to voluntarily become nice guys.
It can be humiliating to beg for help. This is especially so if you are trying to get assistance from a mean and ungenerous person. If you ask for help, you risk discovering whether someone is willing to treat others well, when they believe they could get away with stomping on you.
I can’t believe that there are people who will toy with someone for amusement rather than assisting someone in need or in trouble. The business world seems to encourage the attitude that help will never be given unless there is an incentive. This attitude is contagious and is one of the main reasons why the United States has so many self-induced problems.
People in big business are taught that you are some type of a sissy if you have the motive of helping people who are less fortunate. An idealistic person in politics is often subject to ostracism by peers. Human nature is such that if you show weakness, it encourages random abuse.
People often go into politics in the quest for status, power, and prestige for themselves — and without being motivated by a regard for human life. People should go into politics because they would like to help others, but this seems a rare motive among politicians.
People may believe I have been stating the obvious and may ask the question, “Where have you been?” However, at the age of nearly fifty, I am finally acknowledging that people are ruthless.
A lot of homeless people these days have resorted to begging by the side of the road. I have a problem with helping them because I am trying to stay out of car accidents and out of trouble with patrolling police. When they have asked while I am “on foot,” I usually just give them some coins from my pocket and maybe a word of encouragement.
I get offended when a wealthy person accuses someone else of having “a sense of entitlement.” Certainly, that person’s fortune came about because they weren’t afraid to take money from people.
When human beings are hiding behind a corporate shield, their legal liabilities in cases of improper conduct are less, and it is as if they are wearing some kind of warrior mask behind which they are anonymous. When they do something that hurts people, the corporation is in trouble. As individuals, they may escape unscathed, possibly with a generous severance package. We saw that happen when the government bailed out the banking system, and when President Obama gave massive amounts of public funds to giant automakers to prevent their demise. As individuals struggling to survive, if we are not a multibillion-dollar business we are out of luck.
It’s nice that successful people endowed with unimaginable amounts of wealth are having a good time in their mutual admiration. An example of this can be seen if you keep up with the Kardashians. This is a family which is famous for its fame, and which hasn’t apparently done anything of particular merit.
I was just at a convenience store buying soda and a burrito, and the gentleman before me was delusional and believed his one “power ball” pick would make him a fortune. This is how desperate people become more desperate.
From where I stand, the people on television with billions of dollars may as well be from another universe. I can’t relate.
No One Should Be Allowed to Hoard a Billion Dollars
by Jack Bragen
Prominent multibillionaires — those at the top of the economic heap —and multimillionaires — those who are “merely” comfortable — often need to invest in public relations so that the public doesn’t despise them for hogging up all the money. Publicists are eager to point out all of the “good” activities and the generosity of these moguls. In fact, no individual should be allowed to hoard a billion dollars. It just isn’t right.
In a society that had any sort of fairness, we might have a cap of maybe twenty million dollars as a maximum amount that one individual is allowed to have. This might sound like a communist ideal, but, in fact, it is only fair.
When someone is able to accumulate a personal fortune into the billions, it is ridiculous not to acknowledge they are capitalizing upon the work of thousands of subordinates, workers and supporters. You do not get that kind of money merely through your own work — it is not plausible.
Thus, for every multimillionaire or billionaire, there are hundreds of thousands who barely get by on low wages, all of whom are contributing to the increasing wealth of one person at the top of this pyramid.
It is easy for the wealthy to scoff and say, “Go out and make your own fortune. I did it, why can’t you?” And this is yet another example of the sense of entitlement and the arrogance of those blessed with enormous levels of success.
But let me play devil’s advocate for a few paragraphs.
Contrary to what one might believe, people with money have their own sets of hardships that they have exchanged for the ones that exist for the poor. People with money often need to defend it against lawsuits. If someone is injured on their property or in a car accident, it can entail millions in damages. Or, a lawsuit could be fabricated from insubstantial supposed wrongs.
They must deal with the IRS, which is apt to put them in prison if they slip up too much on their taxes. People with money must deal with relatives or acquaintances begging for some of it, and such a loan only creates resentment on both sides.
People with money must deal with neighbors with whom relations aren’t always good. If they don’t want neighbors, they might get a house in the middle of nowhere. In this case, they are ripe for a home invasion robbery. People with money must constantly deal with turning on and off their burglar alarms and with not creating a false alarm.
People with money must be educated in how to handle their money. If they leave the handling of it to a specialist, their money managers and accountants could rip them off.
Money entails a tremendous amount of responsibility at a level which many poor people could not handle. Nicholas Cage, a famous movie star, spent approximately a hundred million dollars in a short period of time and became poor. At the time of his death, Michael Jackson owed more money than he was worth.
Big money entails a lot of temptation.
One very famous rap celebrity had diamonds implanted on his front teeth. Shoe collections of the rich and famous could take up a whole room, with each pair being worth tens of thousands. Extreme wealth leads to extreme waste.
The prestige and power of wealth lead to arrogance. People with money believe they are superior. They believe that they have succeeded in life merely by hard work, by superior ability, and by being an intrinsically better person than those less fortunate. While it is true that many people have become rich and famous mainly through their own efforts, it doesn’t mean that they are somehow better people than those who haven’t done as well.
The only thing worse than hoarding money while depriving others of basic needs is the disdain that many affluent people have toward people not as high on the socioeconomic totem pole.
Rich people perceive the poor and the homeless as being human garbage. This sort of condemnation only adds insult to injury and creates a society in which success is god, and in which hard circumstances supposedly indicate turpitude. In fact, those who hoard billions to themselves while depriving others are largely the true immoral ones.