Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Capitalism Refugee

A friend of mine used the term "Capitalism Refugee" yesterday. I love it! What a brilliant term! It kind of describes me at the moment. Where do we go when we stop believing in the big lies?

The big lies you ask? Remember the Debate on the Prime Ministers Statement 2013? ACT got up and pretty much equated being hard working with being rich. Obviously if you're not well off, you're just not working hard enough. So me being poor means that I just haven't worked hard enough... Given that I had to dial it all back because it was having an inverse effect on my health because days, nights and weekends was just way too much...

I've decided that mass gambling is one of those great lies. Mass gambling? National Lotteries... In New Zealand's case, it's Lotto. Just about everyone's retirement plan is to win Lotto. They wouldn't need to if they worked a little harder... Sorry.... I probably shouldn't try to be sarcastic while writing. But imagine it. If people didn't have that hope of getting lucky and living out the rest of their lives in relative luxury, would they so willingly participate in capitalism?

Money is not important. Think about it. Money gets you things or services... You get stuff. That stuff is what's important. Money is little more than an abstraction. For whatever reason we seem to stop thinking about the stuff and obsess over how much wealth we've accumulated. At some point, those getting up in the world would say to themselves "actually.... I'm good. I've got the life I want. I can stop accumulating wealth now". That doesn't happen.

Charity is one of those really interesting things. I'm not saying that it's necessarily bad, but it does feel like a band aid. Those with wealth who are able to donate a lot of money are celebrated as philanthropists. To me it feels like a great big giant lie. We're giving with one hand, but taking with the other. In order to have accumulated that wealth, we've had to step on people. Those at the bottom of the stack who are quite probably living hand to mouth for example aren't sharing in that wealth. They've been stepped on but... well... at least they have a job. Are the guys in the factory working less hard than those guys in the office?

They have a job.... that they probably hate but have to have the job in order to have money... so that they can live. Because obviously, you can't live without money... That's the capitalist way! And it's immoral not to make those jobs right? Except that... well... are the jobs that are around really necessary? Do they not kind of feel like jobs created for the sake of having jobs?

In an ideal economy, we would be working far fewer hours and maintaining brilliant lifestyles. Instead, the cost of everything around us goes up under the terrible guise of inflation (which doesn't take into account living costs - the rise of oil prices for example has had a profound effect on the pricing of just about everything). So prices go up - look at the New Zealand housing market for example. While a house used to cost around twice the average yearly income, it's now around five times the average yearly income.

The status quo simply isn't working. It's a wonder people aren't demanding to be granted capitalism asylum... or, is this a good description of what the occupy movement was all about? People lost their jobs and houses etc. due to what those at the top did. The people, the 99%, didn't suddenly one day decide to stop working quite so hard. A whole bunch of people found themselves in trouble for something they hadn't done. The lies were proven to be lies and they protested... Essentially something has to be done. The leftist elite approach to it probably wasn't the best way to approach it but there was a message there and one which I think was dismissed to a large part.

Essentially we could think of each of those participating in the occupy movement and millions of others as capitalism refugees. People seeking out capitalism asylum. If we stopped being dismissive of these people, perhaps we could start to work on a more.. humane and fair system.

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