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 tiny 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 give 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 backward, 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 hoard more money than they could ever possibly spend.
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