Thursday, July 30, 2009

No wonder life sucks--it's run by sociopaths

Most of us want a world in which we have some control. At least that's my working theory as to why so many are eager to blame the ills of the economy on people who borrowed and lived beyond their pay scale.

They want to blame individual choice when in fact, entire industries are mobilized to influence regular people to make unwise choices. It plays right into the very American belief that the sun will come out tomorrow. If you think you can't be manipulated, you are lying to yourself. Some of the best minds in creation work on it 60 hours a week--middle management and everyone who's below them on the corporate tree. They're good at their jobs, and in the interest of disclosure, I used to be one.

Capitalism got a few out of serfdom and into the merchant class, but let's remember that there never was a stable, large middle class until the balance of power was shifted. That meant bloody and sacrificial battles that brought us unions, civil rights, safety nets and all those things that have systematically dismantled by the Republican Second Coming, Ronald Reagan.

I'm not saying he set out to make life so damn hard for so many, I don't think he really was smart enough to think that far ahead. I'm just saying there wasn't a widespread homeless population until he closed mental health institutions. Everything that gave the little guy something became low hanging fruit, ripe for picking and turning into dessert for them that already had as much fruit as they could eaten in a lifetime. Remember the trickle down theory? It was a brilliant and superficial notion that never really goes away. The rich know how to spend money. The poor don't. The rich do the hiring. So let's give them more money. This notion sounded just plausible enough that it justified the largest transfer of wealth from the many to the few. The little guy bought it. Never mind he did it against his own welfare, not to mention Reagan borrowed most of the money to do it.

In today's edition of AlterNet, this caught my attention:

It's Not Hard to Be a Job-Slashing, Pension-Grabbing CEO -- If You're a Sociopath

By Thom Hartmann, Smirking Chimp. Posted July 28, 2009.

CEOs in America pull in the big bucks because there's a shortage of people willing to destroy the lives of many other human beings.

The Wall Street Journal reported last week that "Executives and other highly compensated employees now receive more than one-third of all pay in the US... Highly paid employees received nearly $2.1 trillion of the $6.4 trillion in total US pay in 2007, the latest figures available."

One of the questions often asked when the subject of CEO pay comes up is, "What could a person such as William McGuire or Lee Raymond (the former CEOs of UnitedHealth and ExxonMobil, respectively) possibly do to justify a $1.7 billion paycheck or a $400 million retirement bonus?"

Those who won't make an arguments on its merits might accuse me of envy, but really kids, there's nothing to envy beyond a given amount of worldly goods. In a world where babies die of hunger and diarrhea and mosquito bites, who can honestly justify the top guns bringing in a third of a nation's salary?

These are the very same people Obama is trying to appease with concessions that protect their status quo, one that feeds an undeniable urge to have as much as possible and to hell with the greater good. Look at the smiles in Big Pharma. They're funding Harry and Louis commercials in favor of health reform because they'll have it better than ever. At least now, my dad can send off to Canada to fill the hole in donut. Not after reform. No negotiations for lower prices either, and the patent period is extended to 12 years.

The sociopaths yield so much power and influence, they even have middle class folks who won't be able to afford college for their kids that the blame lays with people whose eyes are bigger than their income. Their eyes devour the world.

They hide under the impenetrable fog we call capitalism and damn all else by calling it socialism. There's a place in between. Where no one goes without the necessities and yet personal effort is rewarded. Who in the world is worth more than a million while hunger is widespread, largely due greed and sociopathic inhumanity?

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