A cost/benefit analysis of economic oppression

The benefits of economic oppression are obvious, and they can be summed up in three words: comfort, freedom and legacy.

The wealthiest people in the world can enjoy whatever comforts they can imagine. At the snap of a finger they can have things poorer people would have to work their entire lives for.

The rich are the only people who are truly free. Nobody has the leverage to tell them what to do for nine hours per day. So they’re free to work however, whenever and wherever they want. They’re free to travel wherever, whenever and however they want. Barring going on a shooting spree in a shopping mall, they’re free to break most laws. Even if they get arrested, they can hire a team of attorneys to bend the law so they’ll either be found innocent or charged a fee that represents such a miniscule percentage of their wealth the legal consequences are inconsequential to them.

The 1% have more money than they could spend in their lives, and most of that money is sitting in investment vehicles that will continue to make money after they’re dead. So as long as their descendants aren’t completely irresponsible, they can live comfortable, free lives indefinitely.

If all you have to do to have that kind of life and legacy is sign a piece of paper approving the exploitation of workers you’ll never meet, I doubt many people would pass up the opportunity. Getting rich through extortion looks temptingly consequence-free, but it has hidden costs.

Consider the kings and serfs from the Middle Ages. Royalty squandered their wealth and lived more comfortably than their serfs could ever imagine, and yet the serfs of today live more comfortably than the kings of antiquity could have imagined. The reason we live so much more comfortably is because of technological progress, which is the result of billions of people all over the world applying their time and education to scientific study. The more people who collaborate on research, the faster it generates results.

If, instead of forcing everyone to devote the bulk of their lives to menial work for just enough money to survive, we devoted our resources to giving as many people as much education and free time as possible, we could speed up humanity’s technological development exponentially. If we didn’t have our priorities so backwards, we could easily be living on the moon before Generation X dies of old age. If we had never oppressed anyone in the history of mankind, we would have been building android factories on Mars a hundred years ago.

Even though the rich may be freer than their employees and customers, their freedom comes at an unnecessary cost. A wealthy person can walk through an inner city ghetto safely, but they’d need to hire paramilitary escorts. Their family is free to sleep soundly without fear of burglars, but that’s only because they have million dollar security systems and security guards. The rich can bypass all the cumbersome and demeaning security measures at airports by flying in their own planes, but they never stop to really ask themselves, “Why do we need security measures in airports at all? Why do we need locks on our doors? Why do we need bodyguards?”

We need security because there are billions of stupid and/or desperate people in the world. The reason the world isn’t filled with billions of intelligent, content, philosophers is because the leaders of the world have designed the system to exploit the majority of the world’s population. If we dedicated our resources to helping people instead of oppressing them, we wouldn’t need to lock our doors or carry guns or have metal detectors at airports and schools. We probably wouldn’t even need armies because everybody would have enough resources to survive and thus wouldn’t need to fight each other.

Until that day comes, freedom will always be so expensive that only the wealthy will be able to afford it, and it will always be an unnecessary expense for the rich, because they created it by exploiting those with less financial leverage than them.

It would be so easy for rich people to leave their children a Utopian world. All they need to do is treat everyone as equal human beings. The only cost to them would be not being able to horde more money than they could ever possibly spend.

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2 responses to “A cost/benefit analysis of economic oppression

  • Linda Gerstmann

    One day, I was listening to a progressive talk-show broadcast from Toronto, Ontario Canada. The host had on his show a man who had attended a butler school somewhere in England(it’s apparently fashionable now for the rich to have butlers with English accents). Anyway, he wound up working at a handful of very wealthy households. He said that the one thing above all else he noticed about the family members was that for the most part they were extremely unhappy. Sometimes the atmosphere was so toxic that he wound up quitting. He said he didn’t admire or envy them at all. Mostly he felt sorry for them. The rich may be able to get their way with just about everything, but what is that worth if happiness is always elusive? Why even bother living if you can’t be happy just enjoying a sunset or hugging a puppy or making love to a good-looking man and having a fantastical multiple-orgasm that almost takes the top of your head off? I get to enjoy all three of those things, and I can attest to you that I’m tremendously happy. Not rich, just happy. Sincerely, L.G.

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  • Ron B

    Hey, me again… oh, what a dilemna! And to think the obscenely wealthy and those who side with them are so enraged by the losers on public assistance!! Oops, I’m including ponzie-scheme entitlements, too. (Those people actually spend that monthy pittance at the store… but I digress.) Anyway, why be mad at people who won’t lift an ass off the couch? Self-hate? Ass in Bentley, ass on couch pretending to drive a Porche… what’s the difference? Sloth is sloth. Corporate Raider killing off a company to own it, King Pin knocking off the rival leader in a drive-by… what’s the difference?

    Seriously, though… I don’t hate people and I make fun of everything. I realize this is a crazy world. Best to mind your family and loved ones, keep an eye out for predators of all kinds (industry PR as well as who your friends are), and try to have an open mind (but err on the side of caution). Unfortunately, it’s difficult to get rid of the predators in life… and that’s why we have soooo many “activists” and “causes” too. (And locks on doors.)

    You’re correct about education and how significant that is over-and-beyond warring, both financially (for us peons) and well, yeah, in actually establishing some peace. The information age is moving fast because of technology (and making money), but it still needs time to sink in that the internet is not just for entertainment, advertising and data-mining (though you’d think we’ll never get passed that the way it looks now). We won’t be rid of these, but it should get better eventually.

    Geeks like you will (hopefully) teach grade-school kids how to block bullshit from their puters. (OMG, that could start a war. Can you imagine teaching kids how to filter propaganda?? And why haven’t we already done that?) Then those kids will go to college to get an MBA so they can hustle the “word-of-mouth” and “viral” marketing lie that tries to disguise Madison Avenue, Wall Street or some huge humanitarian or political concern as the next local “grass-roots” movement. (How funny is that?)

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