Everything costs as much as possible. When you see a sign in a store that says, “50% off,” what it really means is “Fuck you 50% less than normal.” Extortion is the norm. It’s half the reason the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poor. It maximizes profits for the rich and minimizes what the poor can afford. High prices are cruel. High prices kill people. High prices create misery. Yet, most of the world’s business owners have decided independently to set prices as high as possible so they can live opulently. Business owners wouldn’t do that if people were more important to them than paper.
2: Low wages
Business owners know how big their paycheck is, and they know how small their workers’ paychecks are. Business owners know they couldn’t get their big paycheck without all their employees working their asses off day in and day out for barely enough money to survive. That’s cruel, but it’s the norm.
Businesses spend a lot of time and money trying to manipulate customers into buying things they don’t need with money they don’t have for reasons that aren’t important. Advertisements warp people’s perception of reality and make them act in their own disinterest. That’s cruel, but that’s the norm.
4: Subjugation of customer service workers
When an advertisement convinces you to go to a business and spend money on a product or service, you’re going to be greeted by a customer service representative who will be wearing a monkey uniform. You can yell at that person. You can treat that person like shit, and they’ll have to stand there and take it and smile and act like this is the best day of their life and you’re the best person in the world. Their boss will fire them if they stand up for themselves, and they have to take abuse from their boss too. And their boss will yell at them if they don’t work as hard as possible for longer than is healthy. So their lives just suck on every level every day they go to work. That’s the norm. That’s insane. Our society really doesn’t value people.
5: Acceptance of sweatshop workers
Most of the stuff you own was made by slaves in sweatshops. Most of the food you eat passed through a slave’s hands at some point between the fields and your kitchen. We know this. We know our iPods were made by people who live in dormitories with suicide nets outside the windows. If you knew that one of our family members had been kidnapped and was being forced to live in those conditions you’d make it your life’s mission to free them, but we don’t feel more than a slight twinge of guilt over it happening to the people it’s actually happening to. If all people are equal then we should be equally concerned for everyone.
6: Unequal rights
We take it for granted that women don’t have the right to take their shirts off where men can. We accept that gays can’t get married where straights can. We get offended at the idea of people from another part of the world moving to the part of the world we live in because we take it for granted that they don’t have the right to move. We accept that soldiers and prisoners have had almost all of their rights stripped away. We make excuses to justify these lapses of equality.
War is hell on earth. It’s the worst thing that can happen, and it’s never necessary, but there are lots of wars going on right now, and they’re going to keep going on, and after they end new wars will take their place. Hell is here to stay, and we don’t care. We don’t even care enough to pay attention to which wars are going on or why. We go further out of our way to find out about the latest blockbuster movie coming out, and we’re more emotionally involved in Hollywood stories than stories of people living in war zones. Where do we draw the line?
How bad of an atrocity has to happen before the world puts its foot down if we won’t draw the line at unjust wars? Based on the precedents we’ve set, we clearly don’t value our fellow-man enough to ever draw the line. If we don’t value our fellow-man then we must not understand why our fellow-man is important.
People are important. Every one of us is an animate, sentient, autonomous cosmic supercomputer. We’re the rarest, valuable and most powerful thing in the universe. Any one of us is worth all the money in the universe.
Being the rarest thing in the universe, we have the rarest opportunity to explore and experience the majesty of the inanimate, unconscious and yet uncannily elegant universe we’ve found ourselves in. There are wonders to behold, and we could have them all. We’ve got about seven billion animate, sentient, autonomous cosmic supercomputers we could use to design and create an interstellar chain of utopian planets. But we’re not doing that. We’re forcing them to assemble cheap junk in sweatshops that customers are going to be manipulated into paying too much for.
Not only are we throwing away the future’s potential but we’re throwing away the present as well. When you’re on your death bed the thing you’re going to remember fondest in life is your friends. Everyone you meet is a potential friend whose wonder you can bask in right now. Everyone is has a beautiful universe in their mind, and even if you don’t like someone, there’s someone who loves them because beneath their faults they’re worth loving. Everyone brings beauty into this world, but that beauty is minimized when you’re worked to death at a job that treats you like crap. That takes a diamond and turns it into coal.
It might seem like a lot to ask everyone to value everyone regardless of how different we are, but you shouldn’t have to be guilt-tripped into doing it, because we’re all family, and you don’t have to be guilt tripped into helping your family. No matter how different we are, we’re still human; we’re not just on the same team, we’re on the only team. We’re all we’ve got.
Every one of us count. We should value each other and treat each other accordingly. When we treat people badly we should be reminded how important we are so we don’t waste the opportunity to live, grow and experience the majesty of existence to the fullest extent possible, together.
One way high wage earners justify their pay is by saying that not everybody could do their job. So since their skill is so rare then they deserve to be paid more. This point of view overlooks the fact that not everybody can do hard labor If you took the CEO of a big restaurant chain and made them work in one of their restaurants’ kitchens for three months they’d all fail. Even out of the general public, there’s a significant percentage of people who don’t have the strength or patience to do the jobs minimum wage earners do.
Go ask any kitchen staff, road crew, farm crew, or retail worker about people they’ve seen work at their job for a week and then burn out from exhaustion or didn’t have the mental fortitude to do their jobs. Those who pass the test will always be able to look each other in the eye and know they had the metal to make it while so many others didn’t. But even though minimum wage earners have attributes and skills just as rare any upper-middle-class job. Their paychecks don’t reflect this.
2. Compensation for pace
Think of an office romance drama series like Mad Men, Suits or The Office. Imagine if the characters ran as fast as they could everywhere they went, and where ever they went they were always very busy with their hands, and they were always racing the clock while pacing themselves so they could last the day. And somebody was always yelling at them and threatening them. It would be funny if it wasn’t true.
The longer and faster you have to work the more you have to commit your total life’s attention on what you’re doing. Some people have slow-paced jobs where they can daydream all day, call their friends and family and take long lunches while getting paid very, very well. A lawyer would charge you more for his services if he had to devote his total attention to your case and work as hard as he could none stop for three months straight. But field hands, cooks at chain restaurants, and warehouse staff don’t get paid any extra for how totally they have to devote themselves to their jobs.
3. Compensation for inevitable injuries
If you do anything as fast as you can for nine hours a day for a lifetime you’re going to hurt yourself. Just lifting files or typing will give you crippling hand aches in old age. Lifting heavy bags and boxes will take its toll immediately. When you do minimum wage it’s not a matter of if you’ll develop some kind of health problem, it’s a matter of which one you’ll get. And since millions of minimum wage jobs involve handling poisonous material, a lot of people are guaranteed to die from work-related illnesses.
It’s bad enough that people are dying from work-related injuries, but they’re suffering here and now in very real, very graphic ways. Any fry cook can tell you a few stories about burns and cuts they’ve seen kitchen staff get. There are millions of people in the world who have stitch marks on their bodies from on the job injuries they got while working for minimum wage, but they don’t get any compensation. Their employers don’t even offer them health care. If you asked the employer why, they would probably tell you that the accident was the employee’s fault. Even if that were true, these injuries are statistical inevitabilities. If you put 90 million human beings in kitchens around the world working as fast as they can all day for three months cooking over hot stoves, slinging boiling liquids and chopping things with sharp knives, you’re going to end up with millions of injuries. You can repeat the experiment as many times as you want, there will always be injuries. So going to work is like playing the lottery. You might be one of the unlucky ones who fate has doomed. And when that inevitable day comes for some man, woman or child, their employer will probably find some valid excuse for why they don’t have help the person who won the doom lottery inherent in minimum wage work.
4. Compensation for degradation of off-duty time
A lawyer would charge you a premium if he had to work all day every day as fast as he can for three months. A lawyer would probably raise that fee after a week after he realizes that working that hard and that long doesn’t leave you any energy to enjoy your free time after work, and in fact, he was probably spending all his evenings just trying to recuperate from the day’s work while prepping himself for another day of marathon work tomorrow. I’m sure a lawyer could write a fantastic explanation of why they should be compensated extra if their professional work degrades the quality of their personal time. So far no lawyer has done minimum wage workers the favor of writing an explanation of why they deserve extra compensation for not being able to fully enjoy their free time.
If a lawyer worked as fast as possible for three months he could pamper himself all along the way with good meals, healthy snacks, massages and a big vacation at the end. Minimum wage earners can’t afford any of that. They don’t get to stop at cafes on the way to work. They have a hard time getting sick days, let alone vacation days. And for them, it’s not just three months. It’s their fate in life. That’s why poor people drink and smoke so much. Their life is fucked. There’s no hope for them. In hopeless times humans tend to turn to religion or hedonism for relief. If minimum wage earners got paid more I predict you would see a decrease in religion and hedonism. Think about that. Minimum wage jobs are so miserable they force people to turn to God or slow, euphoric suicide to cope. That’s morally fucked up. That’s an atrocity. That’s the kind of thing that generations from now, our descendants will look back on us and say, “Damn, that generation was stupid and backward. I’m sure glad we’re not that shamefully stupid and cruel now.” So how about we not be that stupid and cruel now? How about we compensate minimum wage earners for losing their personal lives. Better yet, let’s not take away their personal lives to begin with.
5. Compensation for humiliation
Some lawyers get to pick and choose their clients and their price. If a prospective client insults the lawyer or is obviously going to be a pain in the ass to deal with, the lawyer could charge the client extra to make it worth his time. Minimum wage earners get yelled at constantly by bosses and customers. Everyone is allowed to tear them down and use them as punching bags, and the minimum wage earner has to just stand there, wearing a demeaning company uniform and endure emotional and sometimes physical abuse from the people they have to spend almost every day of their life with.
There’s been a lot of research done on the topic of classical conditioning and bullying. If you insult someone and humiliate them every day, they’re going suffer. It’s immoral to do that to somebody. It’s downright sadistic to do that to somebody and then tell them that they have to come back every day for the foreseeable future and endure the same emotional abuse while smiling and pretending like it’s the happiest day of their life, and if they can’t maintain constant perfect bearing they’ll be thrown out into the streets to starve and die in the rain. That’s as messed up as the plot to The Human Centipede 2. If you’re going to have to spend your life eating other people’s shit you should get some kind of compensation for that. Better yet, maybe we should stop sewing retail employee’s mouths to the customer’s asses or giving bosses god-like authority to bully employees.
6. Compensation for investment of labor
You can’t build a company with capital. Investors who provide employers with start-up capital expect a return on their investment, and everyone agrees that this is entirely reasonable. However, you can’t build a company without labor either, and the workers who invest the irreplaceable seconds of their lives at work don’t get dividends. They just get the lowest paycheck legally allowable and a kick in the ass the day they quit, get fired, their contract ends, the company goes bankrupt or gets bought out.
If you invest a few thousand dollars in a company at the right time you can get millions of dollars in return. You can invest a few thousand hours of your life in a company, and you won’t even get a thank you card. You have to be a complete sociopath to think that’s okay.
7. It’s the decent thing to do
Why should we pay minimum wage workers more? Because it’s the decent thing to do. That’s why. That’s all that should have to be said. Everybody knows it would make minimum wage workers’ lives better if they worked shorter hours and were paid a higher percentage of company profits. It would make people happier, and we would live in a happier society. That’s what the world is supposed to be like. Are we not good people? At least, don’t we want to be good people? Well… let’s be good to the people holding up the pillars of our economy.
Even if you’re a complete sociopath who doesn’t care about anybody else but yourself and you look at the world through a cold, calculating perspective, you should still want to raise the minimum wage, because the empirical cost/benefit analysis of economic oppression didn’t add up.
1: Americans can’t vote directly on what their taxes are spent on.
Few, if any, of the problems listed below would exist if Americans were able to vote directly on what they want their taxes spent on, but there are only a few minor times and places where Americans are allowed to do that. Despite the fact that Americans have no say in how their taxes are spent, they’ll be sent to jail at gunpoint if they don’t pay whatever amount the government demands of them. This is the definition of extortion, and it’s the opposite of freedom. If your political representatives don’t spend your taxes on what you want them to, then that constitutes taxation without representation.
2: Americans aren’t allowed to know what a lot of their taxes are spent on.
The White House, Pentagon, CIA, NSA, FBI, each branch of the military operate top secret facilities the average American isn’t allowed to know anything about. There are other agencies taxpayers don’t know exist. Taxpayers aren’t even allowed to know how much they’re spending on these programs, but if you don’t pay for them, you’ll go to jail.
3: Billions are spent spying on Americans, controlling them, and destroying their lives.
In 2013 Edward Snowden leaked information detailing how the U.S. government is using the NSA, in cooperation with the military, to spy on American citizens. The government responded to this by labeling him an enemy of the state and reminding the rest of America that whistle-blowing is punishable by death or life in prison.
Since September 11, 2001, the average police department is militarizing, but they’re not using their expensive resources to protect the people who pay them. They’re using their power to hunt civilians and dole out enough fines to fill their quotas to pay for more militarized gear. At the same time, the police are filling private, for-profit prisons with non-violent offenders.
The entire world knows America’s “War on Drugs” is a failure that creates more problems than it solves. Every expert and most laymen agree on this, but America won’t change its laws because there are too many industries with lobbyists that are making too much money off of it.
Americans not only have to put up with this constant intrusion into their lives, but they have to pay for it all, and they have no way to opt out.
4: Billions are spent funding industries that rely on selling their product to the government and are allowed to lobby the government for more funding.
Industries like the prison system, standardized testing companies, weapons manufacturers, military contract staffing agencies and mercenary groups are funded almost completely by taxpayer money. Those industries then take that money and use it to lobby politicians to buy more of their products and services. The healthcare industry’s lobbyists were able to go as far as to strong-arm the government into forcing every taxpayer to buy nearly-useless health insurance and be fined if they don’t, and law enforcement is complicit in fining and jailing anyone who doesn’t obey the insurance companies’ demands. The cost/benefit analysis of funding these industries doesn’t add up to the taxpayer. They’re not getting a positive return on their investment.
5: Billions are lost on subsidies for the rich.
Private businesses that sell their products and services directly to the public can also lobby politicians to give them taxpayer money. When the government gives away subsidies to big businesses, the taxpayer doesn’t get anything in return. In theory, they should get cheaper products, but the rich don’t get rich charging as little as possible. They get rich by selling the cheapest product for the highest price they can get away with.
When a government-funded industry becomes big enough to lobby politicians, they’re almost guaranteed to be able to fleece taxpayers indefinitely. For every business that relies solely on the government, there are hundreds more that will successfully lobby politicians to give them one-off payouts that benefit the business owners more than they benefit taxpayers.
8: Other countries can lobby the government to give them taxpayer money and representation in government.
America gives away at least $70 billion to foreign interests annually. Foreign governments and businesses can use this money to lobby American politicians to give them more money or vote on policies that benefit them regardless of whether or not it’s in the best interest of the American public.
9: The tax code is literally impossible to understand.
The federal tax code is so big, the IRS doesn’t even know how big it is, but it estimates it to be about 7,400 pages long. This doesn’t include state and county taxes. It’s so difficult to calculate how much you owe in taxes, people spend $7 billion annually to hire tax experts to calculate how much they owe. Even those experts are only trained in niche sectors of the tax code. Nobody understands it completely.
10: Small businesses are choked by convoluted taxes.
Working class citizens are frustrated by the fact that they don’t know how much taxes they have to pay or why, but as long as they cough up enough money to stay out of jail, their lives can go on as normal. Small business owners’ livelihood depends on their ability to navigate the labyrinth of tax codes that apply to them. If your business is small enough, it’s possible to file your taxes yourself, but if you’re not good at math, you won’t be able to open a lemonade stand. This is a huge part of why half of all small businesses fail. However, if you were born rich, you can pay someone to manage all of that for you.
11: Regressive taxes oppress the poor.
Some people would say America has a progressive tax system, because the more money you make, the more you have to pay in taxes. But consider that if you make $1,000 per month, the government will take a little over $100 out of each paycheck. If you only make $1,000 per month, you almost certainly don’t have any savings. So you’re paying 10% of your total net worth in taxes every month.
Millionaires who pay 40% of their income to taxes annually will complain that they’re taxed too high, but they can still afford to eat steak and lobster dinners, buy their own home and pay for their kids to go to college. The consequence of poor people paying 10% of their net worth to taxes every month is the difference between eating fresh food or boxed food, fixing your car or walking, seeing a dentist or buying Ibuprofen.
The 10% the poor pay in federal taxes don’t include sales taxes, property taxes, auto taxes, county taxes and state taxes. When you add it all up, taxes cripple the poor more than they help them. Once they run out of money, they may be able to qualify for some kind of welfare, but it’s not enough for them to have a decent quality of life. With or without government assistance, the poor still live in constant fear of starvation and homelessness. This regressive tax code amounts to institutionalized economic oppression.
12: Billions are wasted on corrupt, ineffective social programs that treat the symptoms of poverty, not the causes.
America spends over $1,066 billion on Medicare, welfare, and other social services each year, but poverty, fear, and misery still exist. Doubling the money spent on these programs wouldn’t solve the problem because this money is spent addressing the symptoms of poverty, not the cause.
No matter what you do, you’ll still have to pay for taxes, food, clothing, utilities, and housing. There is no finish line in the rat race. There’s no point where you can stop working and live your life free from the bill collector. You’ll always be forced to pay landlords, banks, grocers, utility companies and the IRS, and everyone is charging their customers as much as possible. Giving the poor handouts to pay banks and big businesses ultimately amounts to redistributing the nation’s wealth to the rich.
Taxes keep citizens mildly safe from criminals and terrorists. Taxes also build roads, schools and other services that help people fulfill their potential, but we all live in a predatory economy that is designed to bankrupt the poor, and there’s no safety net. Once the rich succeed at taking all your money, you have to sleep on the streets, which is illegal in many cities. Until you reach rock bottom, you have to live in fear of running out of money. That fear drives the poor to work as much as possible without complaining, and they’ll never be free to stop working long enough to join a successful protest. Even if they could, the police will beat them and send them to jail.
Given the choice, no rational person would agree to this social contract. This raises the question, what’s the alternative? The answer to that question is deceptively simple. In order for a person to be secure, free and happy, they need the basic necessities of life: food, water, shelter, and education.
If it costs $86,100 to build an apartment unit, the government could build an apartment for all 318 million taxpayers for $274 billion, which is well within America’s budget. This would eliminate homelessness and the gut-wrenching fear that comes from barely being able to afford rent.
It would only cost $30 billion to feed the entire world. If the American military spent 5.4% of its $664 billion budget, it could feed everyone on the planet. At the very least, it could feed every American very well. Then no American would ever have to live in fear of starvation again.
For another $100-$200 billion, every American could have free utilities and education, especially if the government isn’t paying inflated prices to private utility companies and schools.
For about $500 billion per year, every American could be housed, fed and cared for. This would eliminate the need for social security and welfare, which Americans currently pay more than twice that amount for. It would also eliminate the desperation that drives so many people to use drugs and commit violent crimes.
You don’t need to raise taxes to accomplish this, you just need to stop spending taxes on things that don’t benefit taxpayers. Instead, use the money people already pay to help them directly. If that sounds radical, then that just proves how dystopian America’s tax system has become. We’ve strayed so far from reality that sanity looks crazy.
A friend sent me a Youtube video and asked for my opinion on it. I had so much to say about it that I wrote a blog about it. The video argues that America’s progressive tax system rewards the lazy and punishes the rich. If you don’t want to watch the five-minute video, I’ve summarized it in a one-page comic below.
In case the message in the video isn’t clear, the producers at PragerU.com made at least two more, Do The Rich Pay Their Fair Share? and The War on Work, reiterating the point: Poor people just aren’t trying hard enough, and rich people are hard workers who have to feed the leeches. PragerU probably isn’t run by capitalist conspirators who are knowingly creating misleading propaganda to placate the masses into accepting a life of indignity, fear, and toil. There are millions of other Americans who have the same perception of reality and want to spread the truth as they see it.
Recently a story went viral after a twenty-six-year-old woman lost her job for writing a blog called, “An Open Letter To My CEO” about how little money she made and how hard it was/is to survive. Then a twenty-nine-year-old wrote a response that went viral. She basically told the first girl to suck it up, work harder and stop expecting handouts. She’d probably tell me the same thing if she read the open letter to my CEO I wrote five years ago.
Nobody wants to give handouts to lazy people who don’t want to work. Saying that poor people are just poor because they’re not working hard enough is a warped perception of reality at best and a straw man argument at worst. Below is a comic that more accurately reflects America’s class and tax system:
The poor are not America’s enemy, they’re its victims. The ultra-rich aren’t heroes. They’re the creators and sustainers of economic oppression. They’re going to continue to make economic inequality worse as long as they have all the money and thus all the power, and they’re going to hold onto their money and power as long as Americans justify and glorify their own slavery.
The economic revolution America needs has to happen in the minds of Americans. They need to understand how the economy is stacked against them and start pointing fingers at the real source of the problem.
In 2010 I wrote an essay titled, “The fundamental problem with the economy,” in which I argue poverty exists because most business owners pay their employees the lowest wages possible while charging their customers the highest prices for the cheapest-made products, and I suggest that business owners could eradicate poverty by paying equitable wages and fair prices. A few days ago, one of my readers left the following comment and video in response to that blog:
“We can start by having the biggest US companies follow your example; like Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon, Walmart, Microsoft, Exxon-Mobile, Chase, Wells-Fargo and Berkshire Hathaway. You think they would do it? Most of the giant corporations are run by liberal-leaning CEOs.
Look at Venezuela, they have Socialism and the governments seized too many companies and they’re not producing enough food to feed people. People are going hungry and babies are not getting their milk. What is your analysis on the Venezuelan condition? You should do a blog on it.”
CEOs could end poverty tomorrow if they all collectively agreed to pay their workers a fair share of profits and charge customers fair prices, but small-to-medium-sized business owners can’t do that. As long as most businesses charge extortion prices, they force each other to pass on their operating costs to their workers and customers to keep up with the price of doing business in a cut-throat economy.
Every Fortune 500 company could afford to lower their profit margins, but they don’t, not because it would hurt their business’s chance of survival, but because the owners and investors wouldn’t be able to horde as much money for themselves.
If Microsoft and Berkshire and Hathaway needed every penny of their profits to operate, then Bill Gates and Warren Buffet wouldn’t have been able to pocket billions of dollars in profit. So the price of Microsoft and Berkshire Hathaway’s products and services aren’t based on necessity. They’re based on two factors:
1: How badly Gates and Buffet want to stockpile money they’ll never spend
2: How little Gates and Buffet care about their workers and customers’ quality of life
This makes them either the most evil or delusional people in the world. They may talk progressive and give fractions of their fortunes back to the poor through charities, but they’re still driving the train of economic inequality full speed ahead. Even billionaire, George Soros, who American conservatives hate for sponsoring Democratic politicians, is still raping the lower classes to feed his insatiable bank account. Today’s billionaires are the modern-day version of feudal lords or colonial slave plantation owners. No matter how neat their ideas are, or how many pet charities they support, they’re still the reason poor people’s lives are a living hell.
Take a minute and let the gravity of this sink in. Generations of our ancestors wasted their lives, working themselves to death at jobs that treated and paid them like they’re less than human. They spent their lives working against their will, doing things that had no personal meaning to them and only kept going to work out of fear. Fulfilling their boss’s contrived responsibility robbed them of the time they had to fulfill their potential and give their lives meaning.
This is why economic theories like Socialism and Communism were invented, because business owners have been literally and existentially killing their workers and customers for all of human history, and they still are.
The poor need a new economic system more than the rich need more expensive luxuries, but America is the world’s dominating superpower, and the majority of America’s population identifies as pro-Christian, conservative and Capitalist. Most Americans couldn’t tell you what Communism or Socialism are, but they know they’re evil and, every country that has tried them has failed, which proves (to them) Capitalism is the best economic system.
America can’t change until it can have a sane national dialogue about economics. It can’t do that as long as the majority of Americans believe anything divergent from Capitalism is evil. To that end, they need to learn it doesn’t make any sense to demonize Communism and Socialism for at least four reasons:
1: None of the countries that called themselves Communist or Socialist were what they claimed to be.
Immediately after Lenin seized power in the Soviet Union, his countrymen raised an army and went to civil war with him because he didn’t implement Communism. He implemented a fascist dictatorship with some poorly implemented aspects of Communism. When his followers pointed this out, he justified this by basically saying, “Yeah, I know it’s not really Communism, but that’s a goal we have to work towards, and these are desperate times. So what we’re doing right now is ‘War Communism,” which will be replaced by real Communism when things settle down a bit.” But instead, he reinstated a limited amount of Capitalism and turned a blind eye to black market Capitalism.
After Lenin died, Stalin took Lenin’s fascist leadership style to the next level, and in less than one hundred years, corruption and greed imploded the U.S.S.R. before anything resembling Marx’s Communism could be implemented.
China’s ruling party calls itself Communist, but the country is run by billionaires and is full of sweatshops. The definition of “Communism” is, “a political theory advocating class war and leading to a society in which all property is publicly owned and each person works and is paid according to their abilities and needs.”
The definition of “sweatshop” is, “a factory or workshop, especially in the clothing industry, where manual workers are employed at very low wages for long hours and under poor conditions.” Billionaires, sweatshops and iron-fisted authority are all antithetical to Communism.
If you were to study any Communist country without knowing it was Communist, and then tried to identify what kind of government it has, you’d probably guess fascism every time. That doesn’t mean Communism is fascist. It means fascist leaders use doublespeak.
I’m not saying Communism is better than Capitalism or that it should be tried again. I’m just pointing out that claiming Capitalism is the best system in the world because Communism failed, is like saying Coke is better than Pepsi because Faygo is disgusting, and Juggalos are crazy.
2: America has made efforts to destabilize every country that has ever called itself Communist or Socialist.
The Vietnam War, the Cold War, and the Cuban Missile Crisis were campaigns in the war between Capitalism and Communism. America orchestrated dozens of coups and bloody revolutions in its war against alternative economic models. So the argument that Capitalism is the best economic model because every Communist and Socialist experiment has failed, is like saying your Nike shoes are better than someone else’s Adidas shoes because you won a race against them after shooting them in the face.
3: Socialism is a blanket term for a wide range of nuanced economic models.
Socialism is defined, “a range of economic and social systems characterized by social ownership and democratic control of the means of production, as well as the political theories, and movements associated with them. Social ownership may refer to forms of public, collective, or cooperative ownership, or to citizen ownership of equity. There are many varieties of socialism and there is no single definition encapsulating all of them. Social ownership is the common element shared by its various forms.”
Ultimately, Socialism means employees share ownership and profits of the company they work for. This means co-op grocery stores are the smallest example of Socialism, but you can scale the concept up and mix and match it with different government styles. Just look at Wikipedia’s list of different flavors of Socialism.
Saying Socialism doesn’t work because Venezuelans are hungry is like saying it’s impossible to raise dogs as pets because you know somebody who tried to raise a wolf and it ate their children. Even if Chavezism is a legitimate example of one type of Socialism, the argument that Socialism doesn’t work because Venezuela is collapsing, would still be tantamount to saying fishing is a failed method to get food because people have been injured fishing with dynamite. Just because dynamite fishing is crazy, that doesn’t prove hunting is the only way to get food.
Technically, those metaphors don’t apply to Venezuela anyway, because Venezuela is arguably no more Socialist than China is Communist. Hugo Chavez nationalized a few industries in Venezuela, but he didn’t nationalize every business. So the economy was still predominantly Capitalist.
In theory, the companies he nationalized became the property of the state, and since the state belongs to the people, therefore those companies belong to the people. However, the people didn’t get an equitable share of the profits. A lot of it was stolen by corrupt politicians, and the rest went to subsidizing prices and giving away free stuff.
Plus, the workers didn’t have any control over the companies, and even though Chavez was democratically elected, the policies he implemented and enforced, were his own creation, not the will of the people. When civilians protested him, he ordered police to shoot them in the streets.
If Socialism equals social ownership of businesses, then what happened in Venezuela wasn’t Socialism. It was just fascism, corruption and inefficient bureaucracy failing to fix the problems of a predominantly Capitalist economy.
4: Communism, Socialism, and Capitalism aren’t the only possible economic models.
Communism is one man’s theory on how to fix a country that doesn’t exist anymore. Socialism and Capitalism are both spectrums of ideas. The flavor of Capitalism used in America can be more accurately described as “Predatory Capitalism” than “Free Market Capitalism.”
Capitalism is defined, “an economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state.”
Ask anyone who works for a co-op, they’ll attest private ownership of business isn’t inherently evil. Capitalism only becomes predatory when business owners squeeze the life out of the people they’re meant to serve. So claiming Capitalism is evil because America has apocalyptic levels of economic inequality, is like saying nobody should eat cake because your dad owns a poison cake business.
The easiest solution to economic inequality is for business owners to treat their workers and customers as they would want to be treated. Barring that, there are a million other economic models we could design using concepts taken from Communism, Socialism, Capitalism and new ideas we haven’t thought of yet.
I keep seeing politicians come on the television and say they’re going to fix the economy, create jobs and raise wages. I’ve been listening to the same promises my entire adulthood while simultaneously staring at a fundamental flaw in the economy that no politician is talking about. If they do talk about it, it’s just long enough to acknowledge a problem exists before changing the conversation back to meaningless talking points.
The problem is that it’s really, really, really, really hard to start a small business. Over half of all small businesses fail within their first year. Politicians have said that much, but they never sink their teeth into why. People don’t fail at businesses because it’s so hard to provide someone else a product or service and then take their money from them. The hardest part about running a small business, the part that trips so many people up, is that the government will send you to jail and fine you into poverty if you can’t flawlessly navigate 10,000 miles of legal bureaucracy.
If you want to succeed in business, you basically need an associate’s degree in economics. If you don’t believe me, go get a tax number, file your small business name, write a business plan, and pick a piece of accounting software to help you organize your taxes. Most people won’t make it that far.
You may be shouting, ” But that’s how business works! If you can’t do that much, then you’re too stupid to be in business!” The thing about that is, it doesn’t have to be so hard to start a business. Our predecessors just went out of their way to make it that hard. I’m sure they had good intentions and reasons that sounded reasonable on paper, but the end result is they’ve created a very narrow bottleneck to owning/operating a small, private business that excludes the poor and uneducated.
I don’t know or care if there’s a conspiracy theory behind this or if it’s just the cumulative effect of millions of stupid decisions. I just care that the deck has been stacked against the poor and uneducated. If all humans are equal then all humans should have an equal chance at an education and owning their own business. Even if a human is stupid…why would we punish them for that? And if all they’re trying to do is sell oranges on the side of the road, why do we need to bring mind-bending bureaucracy into their life at all?
The reason why is because the American tax code assumes every transaction that can possibly be taxed must be tracked and taxed. I believe the I.R.S.’s philosophy does more harm than good, and I base that opinion on the fact that every night the news says the economy is terrible. The reason it’s terrible is because we’re doing something terribly wrong. Obviously, the economy has more problems than just this, but I suspect that as long as we keep assuming that every transaction which could possibly be taxed must be tracked and taxed then the economy will continue to be terrible, especially for the poorest, most uneducated human beings living on earth.
Other than “Tiger Mom,” I’ve never heard of a book on success or leadership that advocates micromanaging. In fact, everything I’ve ever read said it’s the most stifling, soul-destroying approach you can take to accomplish anything. So… if we apply that same principle to the tax code, it points to the conclusion that maybe we should lighten up there.
If people can make money, they’re going to spend it. It’s going to get caught in the tax net somewhere. If people just didn’t have to file anything or pay any taxes for small businesses that make less than $10,000 per year, then people will have the breathing room to establish their small businesses before leaping into the realm of completely retarded bureaucracy. That wouldn’t threaten big businesses’ effective monopolies. It would just give human beings some breathing room.
If the I.R.S. ever wanted to help the nation out a little more they could automatically assign everyone with a business tax id number and generic business license so nobody has to apply for anything when they start operating their small business. They just operate under the codes they were born with.
If the I.R.S. ever wanted to help the nation out a little more they could automate their personal income tax system a little better. Maybe the smart folks at N.A.S.A. can help them. If N.A.S.A. can figure out how to land a cyborg on Mars remotely they can probably figure out a way to automate everyone’s yearly income taxes so we don’t all get sent calculus riddles by snail mail that we have to pay a seasonal accountant $300 to solve just so they can tell us a random amount we have to pay on top of that.
You must be very proud of your company. You started it on your own and took it from a garage-sized operation to an award-winning and internationally known brand. Few people in the world ever achieve that much success. Equally impressive is the fact that success doesn’t seem to have gone to your head. The few times anyone has asked me what you’re like I told them you’re a down-to-earth kind of guy, a little shy even. I told them you’re always smiling and friendly and that I can’t even imagine what you’d be like when you’re angry because that would just be so out of character for you. It’s unusual for someone as gentle as you to make it so far in the dog-eat-dog, cut-throat world of business. You should be proud.
I sometimes wonder if you ever imagined your company would grow this large when you first started out. If so, I wonder how you envisioned your company would look. I wonder if you imagined it being a progressive, Utopian(ish) workplace like Google where your employees would almost rather be at work than at home. You certainly seem to be trying to take it in that direction, what with the idealistic company values printed on the giant poster in the front office, the lack of dress code, the free milk and coffee and fruit and the occasional company-sponsored fun-night. Some workers even get a dollar an hour bonus for meeting their “key performance indicators.” I know some of the executives get bonuses for reaching their targets, and their bonuses are so big that nobody ever talks about them. You’ve also set a sales goal, that if we meet, the company will divide up one million dollars between all the employees. We both know you’ve been far more generous with perks than most companies.
I wonder if this is how you envisioned the future of your company when you first started out. I also wonder if sometimes you look down from your corner office and think, “You guys are all suckers. I can’t believe you’re doing this. Thank God I’m not as naive as you.” Let’s be honest for a minute and spell out the math, so to speak. I know this must have crossed your mind before.
You pay your workers as little as possible within the context of the law and supply and demand. Some of us get fifty cents or a dollar fifty over minimum wage, but let’s be honest. If the minimum wage were six dollars you’d be bragging about how you pay some of your workers seven dollars an hour. If the minimum wage were four dollars you’d be bragging about how you pay some of your workers five dollars.
In addition to paying your workers as little as possible to maximize the profits you get to take home you work us as long as the law will allow. You also exploit the loophole that as long as overtime isn’t mandatory you don’t have to pay over time, and despite the fact that we do intense mental and physical work for you, we’re expected to keep up the highest pace humanly possible the entire time, every day. And you guarantee that we’ll exhaust ourselves to that limit by designing the computers we use to monitor, record and report everything we do. So even if our boss doesn’t see us resting the system will show it. If there’s any doubt that we’re pushing ourselves to the limit (which there’s not) you can always play back the video footage from the dozen cameras that keep a constant watchful eye on us.
Even though nobody counts the way you spend every minute of your day and you can take as long of a lunch break as you want and take time off whenever you want I know you’re a busy man. So I’ll get straight to the point. I wonder how fully conscious you are of the fact that your business model is based on exploiting wage slaves, which is just a fancy way of saying, “slavery.” I wonder how fully conscious you are of the fact that every dollar you put in your pocket was earned by us, and every dollar you spend on luxury is a dollar we can’t spend on necessity. I wonder how fully conscious you are of the fact that every day we come to work we’re fighting against your “key performance indicators” for survival. I wonder how fully conscious you are of the fact that the key performance indicators are based on the best worker working at their best speed and doesn’t take into consideration all the little tasks we have to do every day like tidying up, looking for a pen, changing stations, finding a computer that works, waiting for the constant little lags in the system caused by the tragically designed infrastructure, restocking supplies, tying our shoes, going to the bathroom and so on. So in order to reach the ninety-five percent productivity rate that’s expected of us we actually have to work all day at a one hundred to one hundred and ten percent productivity rate.
Granted, all the stress would be worth it to us if we meet that sales target and get that one million dollars… except everyone in the company knows it would take fifty miracles to make that happen. That bar was set low enough to (theoretically) motivate us but high enough that there was never any risk of you having to pay up. So all that “incentive” has accomplished is sending a clear message to everyone who works for you that we’ve made you enough money that you can afford to give away a million dollars but you’re not willing to share that wealth with us. In fact, you’re willing to insult our intelligence and lie to us to try to squeeze as much sweat and irreplaceable time out of our fleeting lives as you can so you can convert it into cash in your pocket to squander on more luxuries for you and your family.
This is why your best workers leave. This is why you have so many immigrants and potheads working for you, because they’re the only ones desperate enough to endure the working conditions you’ve created.
I often wonder if this is how you imagined you’d build your fortune when you started your company. I wonder if you dreamed of wasting the best years of people’s lives slaving away for you for barely enough money to survive. I wonder if you even realize you’re doing it and if you’ve excused it all away by telling yourself things like, “That’s business.” or “If you don’t like it you can get another job.” or “I have to do this to stay competitive.”
I wonder how much thought you’ve put into the value of human life, and by that, I don’t just mean how much one person’s life is worth but how much each minute in a person’s life is worth. Is a minute in one person’s life worth more or less than a minute in another person’s life? If you had to spend five years working in the conditions you’ve created for the pay you allow, would you consider those five years fully lived? If your children had to work in the conditions you’ve created for the pay you allow would you feel like they fully lived their lives? If the answer to either of those questions is “no” then why would you demean and rob other people’s lives that way? Is there really any excuse big enough to justify wasting an equal human being’s potential for money?
Why is it that if you cut a person’s life short it’s called murder but when you cut the best years of their life out in the middle it’s a justified business expense? You might think these questions are overdramatic, but if you play back the video of your workers and you see the dead-eyed, stressed out expressions they wear on their faces all day when your back is turned you’ll realize I’m not exaggerating when I say that the reality is, you’re killing us little by little every day.
I’m positive this isn’t what you envisioned when you started your business, and I’m positive that you’re either completely ignorant of what you’ve become or you’ve made enough short-sighted excuses to justify your actions to yourself, and I’m positive you’ll never realize the true cost your success has come at to the people who run your company. I regret that I’ll never be able to send this letter to you because you’ll fire me, and I need this job because slavery is better than starvation. So I’ll work for you as long as I have to until I’ve saved enough of the crumbs you’ve let fall from your plate and I can start my own business that treats the people I work with as equal human beings fully deserving of equal respect and profits. I, and everyone who has ever worked for you, will always remember you with sadness and regret.
Steve Jobs, founder and CEO of Apple, died recently, and the internet has been flooded with eulogies and praises about him. If he had been a member of the Catholic Church, I swear they would have awarded him posthumous sainthood, and I’m not surprised by this at all. When Bill Gates, Richard Branson and Warren Buffet die they’ll get the same treatment. Even Rupert Murdoch and the Koch brothers will get some kind of glowing recommendation letter to Heaven from someone.
I’m not saying all this praise is completely undeserved. Every billionaire puts a lot of mental and physical effort into building companies that provide useful products to humanity. I respect that, but I also recognize it’s only half the truth. It’s misleading and unethical to only acknowledge the high points of any billionaire’s career, and the fact that we praise billionaires so eagerly and consistently, is a sign of a deeper flaw in society which desperately needs to be addressed and rectified.
You can become a millionaire by working hard, but there isn’t enough time, energy or opportunity in one person’s life to become a billionaire through hard work. The only way you become a billionaire is by underpaying your workers and over-charging your customers… or by owning stock in companies that underpay their workers and overcharge their customers.
So the only way to become a billionaire is to steal. The way you do that may be legal, but it’s still stealing. Steve Jobs may have been a technological visionary, but the cold, hard fact of the matter is he was a thief. I can respect the work he did, but I can’t respect him for the unreasonable, unnecessary mountains of cash he skimmed off the sweatshop slaves who built and sold Apple products.
Nobody ever talks about how much money Steve Jobs deserved for each iPod sold. He wouldn’t have died with eight billion dollars if the cost of an iPod reflected its production value. I’m not saying Steve Jobs should have sold his products at-cost. I’m raising the question, how high you can mark up the cost of goods and services before it becomes unethical? If you mark it up high enough to accumulate eight billion dollars without being guilty of price gouging, then how much money do you have to horde before your ethics become questionable? How about sixty-eight billion dollars?
As it stands, the generally accepted answer to this question is that there is no limit; the more money you horde, the bigger of a hero you are. Furthermore, the blame doesn’t lay on the CEO for overcharging for products. The blame lies with the customer for agreeing to pay the advertised price. There is some truth to that, but again, it’s only half the truth.
Steve Jobs knew there was no logical reason for his customers to pay the price he wanted to charge for iPods. So he created one of the most successful advertising campaigns in history to frame the iPod as a status symbol first, and an electronic gadget second. In other words, Steve Jobs went down in history as a visionary business leader for orchestrating a propaganda campaign that exploited his customers’ mental weakness to swindle them out of more money. That’s not admirable. That’s dishonest and cruel, but he gets praise for it from so many people because the entire economy operates under the assumption that if you can be swindled, then you should be.
This isn’t how a utopia operates. This philosophy creates poverty, which in turn creates misery and crime. This is part of Steve Job’s legacy, and whatever good things he did, don’t change the fact.
It’s worth noting that Steve Jobs did give some money to charity, but every old granny in the world who puts a dollar in a collection plate at church gives a higher percentage of their income to charity than he did. I don’t want to sound ungrateful or discourage billionaires from giving to charity, but at the same time, I can’t give them too much street credit when they’re giving away money they were never going to spend anyway. They didn’t lose anything by giving to charity, but they got a lot out of it in the form of lucrative tax breaks and a reputation for being generous. At any rate, if you have billions of dollars to give away, why not just cut out the middle man and leave that money with either your workers, customers or both? Does it justify burning your workers and customers if you’re nice to other people?
I haven’t heard any news about Steve Jobs leaving all of his money to charity after his death, but other billionaires have contrived a reputation as saints for making that claim. I don’t believe billionaires deserve praise for this either, because it’s tantamount to cruising down the street in a stretch Hummer limousine drinking a glass of $10,000 wine and shouting at homeless people through the sunroof, “You’ll get my money when you pry it from my cold, dead hands!” I fail to see the honor in that sacrifice, not that Steve Jobs was even that generous.
It’s not uncommon in any country to hear people blame the miserable state of their economy on welfare recipients freeloading off the hard work of the middle and upper classes. While it’s true that welfare queens do exist, they’re not the fundamental problem with the economy. The fundamental problem with the economy is that business owners underpay their workers and overcharge their customers.
That one-two punch is enough to force middle-class workers to have to count their pennies to survive, and it bleeds blue-collar workers straight into nearly inescapable poverty. Surviving, much less saving, is made even more difficult by the fact that landlords have to overcharge for rent because banks (and government taxes) extort everyone who takes out a 30-year mortgage. The only way to get a job that pays enough to afford all the meaningless fees you have to pay to buy a house is to buy a degree from a university, but the cost of a degree is inflated so high that poor people can’t afford it. So they’re stuck working degrading, underpaying jobs for the rest of their lives. Those who can afford a degree are crippled with debt for half a lifetime.
These two factors are enough to force middle-class workers have to count their pennies to survive, and it bleeds the lowest class into nearly inescapable poverty. Surviving, much less saving, is made even more difficult by the fact that landlords have to overcharge for rent because banks and government taxes extort everyone who takes out a 30-year mortgage. The only way to get a job that pays enough to afford all the meaningless fees you have to pay to buy a house, is to buy a degree from a university, but the cost of a degree is inflated so high that poor people can’t afford it. So they’re stuck working degrading, underpaying jobs for the rest of their lives. Those who can afford a degree are crippled with debt for half a lifetime.
The only reason wages are so low and the cost of goods, loans, and education are so high is because the rich get rich by taking as much of everyone else’s money as they can while giving as little back as possible. This hurts everyone, but it hurts the poor the worst. The reason poverty exists in the first place isn’t because poor people are lazy. They’re poor because business owners took all their money.
It is true that a small minority of poor people scam the taxpayers and don’t want to work, but look at the alternative. Their only option in life is to work themselves to death in degrading jobs that don’t pay a living wage to begin with. Why wouldn’t they scam the system? Because it’s irresponsible? They can’t get ahead in life because the rich are scamming them out of all their money. They’re just doing to the system what the system did to them. I’m not saying that’s right, just that it’s inevitable.
Slashing welfare isn’t going to make the middle class richer or help the economy. It’s just going to create more misery and poverty. Increasing welfare isn’t going to help anyone either because business owners are just going to take the poor’s money anyway, and the poor still won’t be able to afford an education. Business owners and investors are going to continue getting richer, and everyone else is going to continue getting poorer (or at least working themselves to death treading water) as long as business owners and investors refuse to share their profits with their employees or charge reasonable prices for their goods and services. Raging against poor people for being lazy, greedy scum bags adds insult their injury and makes undeserving scapegoats out of them while the real robbers continue business as usual.
The world’s problems are your problems. Even if you live in a safe, middle-class suburb, there are still forces creeping into your house that are slowly killing you and threatening the survival of your descendants. If you’re not teaching yourself about the world’s problems and trying to figure out your own solutions, then you’re just waiting to die.
This is serious. There’s a herd of metaphorical bears running straight towards you and your village. Making excuses for why it’s not your responsibility to give your impending demise your full attention is justifying suicide. If you’re not qualified to deal with bears, you need to become qualified, network with someone who is or find a workaround within your abilities.
The world’s problems are so big and complex, it’s dizzying to figure out where to even begin listing them. So I’ll give you some advice that will get you started and save some steps putting everything in perspective. The world’s problems have many seeds, but most of them wouldn’t have grown into towering banyan trees without being thoroughly watered with poverty. If you can fix poverty, then the other evils it creates and exacerbates will wither away.
The root cause of poverty is predatory capitalism. I say “predatory capitalism,” because “capitalism” is just private ownership of a business, which isn’t the issue. The problem is that America’s standard business model takes this concept to its most ruthless extreme. The economy is based on the premise that the purpose of businesses is to make as much profit as possible for the owner/s, which is accomplished primarily by paying workers as little, and charging customers as much, as supply and demand will allow.
This isn’t just a formula for poverty. It’s the formula for poverty. On paper, it looks deceptively innocuous, but it’s tearing the world apart. Below is a list of 14 apocalyptic problems that can be reduced from mountains to molehills by using an economic system that isn’t based on creating, sustaining and increasing economic inequality.
In a predatory economy, farms can’t give food away for free because they’d go bankrupt. Most farmers can’t even afford to sell their products at reasonable prices, because everything they have to buy to run their company and take care of their family, costs as much as possible. The largest corporations could lower their prices, but they beat their competition and established themselves as market leaders by caring more about profit than human life or happiness to begin with. If they ever stopped exploiting their customers and workers, they’d lose their market share to a competitor who will.
Corporations improve their competitiveness by growing food in third world countries using slave labor and then shipping their harvests back to first world markets where they can charge the highest price. This causes a false food shortage in third world countries, which raises the price higher than the local slaves can afford.
However, obesity isn’t an epidemic in first world countries like America because their citizens are living as extravagantly as French aristocracy, but because food companies further lower their operating costs and maximize profits by mixing their products with preservatives, flavoring, coloring, and filler. So instead of first world consumers getting the best nutrition from around the world at the cheapest price, they get the most unhealthy, processed junk food at the highest price.
Americans who make minimum wage can’t afford healthy, unmolested food. So they grow up eating boxes, bags, and cans of chemical mulch saturated in sugar, growth hormones and carcinogens, which sets them up for health problems later in life. There’s no conspiracy to commit chemical warfare on the civilian population. Businesses are just designed to make the most profit, and you make the most profit by selling the cheapest product at the highest price, regardless of the cost to human life.
2: High health care costs
The law of supply and demand says the more people need something, the more they’re willing to pay for it, and predatory capitalism says to match your prices to your customer’s desperation level. So going to the hospital to fix the inevitable health problems caused by stress and poison is as expensive as possible because medical schools and medical supply companies charge doctors and hospitals extortionate prices. Doctors then pass the exploitative costs onto their customers while also increasing the final price even higher to further take advantage of their customers’ vulnerability.
At the same time, the rich are buying up more land than they need, creating false scarcity that further drives up prices and fuels a never-ending cycle of housing bubbles/bursts that teeter back and forth between excluding the poor from being able to afford homes and then decimating the equity of those who could.
Since landlords and businesses have to pay the same extortionate mortgages, they pass on the cost of extortion to their renters and customers. That’s why rent is so damn high. This isn’t just “how life is.” This is a predatory business model invented to take money from the poor and give it to the rich in exchange for nothing.
4: Lack of basic utilities
If everyone who works was guaranteed food, water, shelter, electricity, telecommunications, and transportation, then most of the fear and pain in the world would be eliminated. Then everyone could get on with their lives and only have to worry about the most important issues.
The reason utilities are scarce isn’t that we lack the resources. It’s because the people who own the world’s resources make them as prohibitively expensive as possible. Even when governments build and operate their own utilities, they have to buy the materials at inflated prices, limiting the services they can provide.
Public utilities are becoming a thing of the past anyway since private (and often foreign) companies have been bribing politicians into privatizing those services for decades. The companies taking over utilities claim they can provide a better product at a cheaper price, but the ultimate goal of business is to make profits, which is why you can always expect the cost of utilities to go up, and you’ll keep finding more meaningless fees on your bills.
The definition of stress is, “a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.”
Nothing is more stressful than fearing for your life, and everything you need to survive costs money. So your safety is directly dependent on how much money you have, but almost every business overcharges as much as possible. You’ll even be charged for things you didn’t ask for, don’t want and disagree with. Your entire life will be spent fighting for survival against everyone you have to pay. This is a formula for perpetual stress. The solution isn’t to read more motivational books. Life isn’t stressful because you’re weak. It’s because the economy is designed to keep you trapped in perpetual danger.
6: Mental health issues
The human brain can only take so much stress before it cracks. Anyone living in permanent anxiety will experience mental health issues eventually. The more traumatic your childhood is, the quicker you’ll succumb to all the internal and external consequences of poverty, and the poorer you are, the more damaging your childhood will be.
Seeing a cheap mental health expert for one hour costs more than a minimum wage employee makes in an entire day, and that money is already earmarked for food, rent, utilities, transportation, repairs and government fees. So the people most at risk for mental health problems are least able to afford it.
If you become too mentally broken to work, then you’ll have to live on the streets and beg for food. The size of America’s mentally ill homeless population isn’t a regrettable byproduct of an otherwise great system. The system is designed to create that problem by keeping help as far out of reach as possible and then funneling anyone who can’t function without it onto the streets to beg, steal and die.
7: Drug abuse
It’s also not an accidental byproduct of an otherwise great system, that at least 87% of Americans have drunk alcohol, 10% have smoked marijuana, 16% have smoked cigarettes, and 13% are on antidepressants. The system is designed to make earning more money, and being able to afford a better life, as hard as possible. For the least academically inclined, it’s virtually impossible.
Paying high prices to consume poison so you can feel better in the moment is irresponsible because it limits your immediate potential and kills you prematurely. But if you know you’re going to earn slave wages for the rest of your life, and you’ll never be able to afford your dreams anyway, the cost/benefit analysis of ending your miserable existence in a blaze of euphoria starts to add up. America doesn’t have a drug abuse epidemic because so many people are weak. It’s a proportional response to how stressful and hopeless life is in a predatory capitalist economy.
8: Domestic violence
Financial problems are one of the most common causes of divorce, but worrying and fighting about money is a long, painful process. Normal people are anxious and angry because the economy turns life into a grueling, unrewarding rat race. It’s only a matter of time before that frustration comes out somewhere, and the people you’re most likely to take it out on are the ones you see most, which are the people you live with.
You’d think the divorce rate would be higher when everyone is constantly worrying about bankruptcy, compromising on spending, working beyond their physical and mental endurance, suffering from suburban sensory deprivation, and wrestling with the constant source of unfulfillment that comes from not being able to afford your dreams. Actually, the divorce rate would be higher, but poverty often traps dysfunctional couples together because they can’t afford to live on their own.
9: Violent crime
America’s violent crime stats are directly proportional to the stress and desperation created by the false scarcity of food, housing, and wages. African-American ghettos don’t have third-world-level violent crime rates and are prone to riots because African-Americans are genetically predisposed to act like wild, desperate animals. Their problem is they live in a third world economy surrounded by first world neighborhoods they can’t afford to escape to.
Predatory capitalism traps them in an environment in which there are more people competing for resources than there are to go around. When everyone has to fight to survive, it becomes responsible to learn how to fight, and your best chance of succeeding is to join a group of fighters. That’s life for anyone who lives in a ghetto, regardless of their skin color.
No matter what country you live in, you’re surrounded by idiots. You know this. They stress you out every day at work, and at night you see them on the news fighting tooth and nail to destroy everything good in your country. If you’re not grabbing your head and screaming, “Why is everyone so stupid!?” then you’re not paying attention.
Why do you have to be surrounded by idiots? Poverty. That’s why. We could have already built the ultimate, free, global online school that could provide unrestricted access to all the world’s knowledge and skills. The internet is slowly providing free online education, but since everything is as expensive as possible, and there’s no profit in charity, humanity can’t afford to create the ultimate educational tool.
Even in affluent America, students can’t afford to attend universities because predatory capitalism dictates the more your customer needs your product, the more you should charge. Universities are copying the housing and healthcare industries and taking this philosophy farther than the market can bear. They’re charging students beyond their means, which is creating an education bubble, which is making college so expensive the cost/benefit analysis of enrolling doesn’t necessarily add up anymore. Predatory capitalism has created a system where it doesn’t pay to get a college education. This is putting a glass ceiling on the intelligence level of the entire world.
Going to school isn’t the only way to learn about the world though. There are media companies in every city producing information for mass consumption, but they can’t give content away for free without selling advertisements, which is a form of misinformation.
The price media outlets can charge advertisers is directly proportional to the size of their audience. In order to attract the widest audience possible, businesses have to deliver the most popular content. Thanks to the oppressive nature of the economy, most people are uneducated, scared, stressed-out slaves with cabin fever, who are longing for escape. This sets them up to want to consume media that satisfies their base instinctual desires for excitement, hope, love, popularity, wealth, and power.
Even news agencies, which supposedly follow a code of integrity, drown out useful information with content that’s more entertaining than educational. The six most successful media companies have bought out most of the world’s independent news agencies and syndicated the same distracting brain candy to every city.
The reason you’re surrounded by idiots is because 90% of the world population are victims of economic oppression. I doubt there’s secret conspiracy to dumb down the population to make them easier to control. It was just a convenient and inevitable byproduct of every business’s single-minded pursuit of money.
11: Religious extremism
There’s a well-established correlation between poverty and religious belief. The poorer you are, the more likely you are to be uneducated and feel stressed, hopeless, alone, unfulfilled and meaningless. Religion offers a solution to all the problems created by poverty. It promises if you believe a story and follow some rules, you’ll be rewarded after death.
Religion is the perfect consumer product. It costs nothing to produce, and your customers will pay you for years without getting anything in return. They’ll do your advertising for you and defend your brand to the death even in the face of overwhelming proof your product is a sham. If your religion teaches hard work and sacrifice are virtuous, and idleness and self-interest are evil, then your followers will make the perfect employees for you or any business lucky enough to hire them.
Not everyone who believes in religion becomes a terrorist, but there’s a well-documented correlation between poverty and religious extremism. If you want to start a death cult that will kill people and steal their resources for you, believing they’re serving the greater good, then all you need to do is promise them that joining your organization will solve all the problems in their lives created by predatory capitalism. Then, indoctrinate them with time-tested brainwashing techniques to base their identity and self-worth on their status in your pyramid-shaped organization. Finally, criminalize dissent and make it as hard as possible to leave. This is what ISIS and the U.S. military do, and if you copy their model, you can achieve the same success.
12: Corruption and systemic political failure
Corruption was inevitable the moment money was created. Since money is power, those with the most money have the most power regardless of who sits on the throne of government. Business owners don’t need to sit on the throne themselves or rely on the judgment of others to pass laws that allow them to exploit their workers and customers to death. Modern democracy has created a streamlined path to corruption. Since politicians have to accept donations to fund their election campaigns, they’re beholden to their investors. When the majority of politician’s careers are funded by the same businesses, lone-wolf politicians can’t stand up to all the corporate representatives. That’s why you can’t expect to see hope and change from young, charismatic politicians: because the investors they represent value profits more than human life.
13: Perpetual war
Once you have enough representatives to control how a nation’s wealth is used, you can use its tax revenue to bribe foreign politicians into letting you pillage their resources. If they won’t play ball, you can depose them with military force, guaranteeing you won’t have to compete for global market share with worker-friendly politicians or foreign businesses.
Predatory capitalism also guarantees perpetual war simply because war is profitable. The military-industrial complex needs taxpayers to buy its weapons in order to remain profitable. So it behooves them to invest in campaign financing so they can lobby politicians to stay in perpetual war.
Even without a secret conspiracy by corporations to manipulate militaries into fighting for them, our economic system is still a recipe for conflict. As a general truth, survival requires resources, and when resources are scarce in a local community, they become as valuable as life itself, and people will kill their neighbors to keep what they’ve got and take from the weak. When a country’s resources become scarce, it will act the same way, and the goal of predatory capitalism is to consume resources as fast as possible.
Since the world’s wealth is being funneled to a few families instead of being distributed to everyone, the nations with the least infrastructure are left in abject poverty and thus chaos, which creates a power vacuum to be filled by the strongest local warlord, which is convenient for big corporations, because warlords prevent small businesses from growing into global competitors, and warlords are happy to sell their nation’s resources to foreign companies for pennies on the dollar.
14: Environmental apocalypse
As apocalyptic as all these problems are, the worst consequence of predatory capitalism is the destruction of the very eco-system keeping the entire human species alive. In order for companies to make profits, they need to make as many products as quickly as possible, which means they need to consume raw resources as quickly, and spend as little money on health and safety, as possible. It would be an understatement to call this a recipe for environmental destruction. Predatory capitalism makes pollution a moral imperative, which is why big businesses are so desperate to convince the population global warming is a hoax. Saving the planet would negatively affect their profit margin.
The solution to this problem isn’t to guilt-trip consumers into buying eco-friendly products. That’s like forcing people to become cannibals and then convincing them to fight cannibalism by only eating each other’s legs. The problem isn’t the victim. The problem is predatory capitalism’s addiction to economic growth. That’s the herd of bears coming to eat you and your tribe. Solve that problem or you’re effectively committing suicide while being complicit in genocide.
I’m less interested in convincing you to accept my theories than I am in inspiring you to do your own research and come up with your own. If you want to know my theory, the simplest solution is to require governments to spend tax revenue on feeding and sheltering all of its citizens before they’re allowed to spend taxes on anything else. This will solve people’s immediate problems, give them the freedom not to have to work/consume, and eliminate the leverage businesses use to exploit everyone at every corner. If governments won’t do that, citizens need to organize to create private sustainable communities to shelter themselves from poverty.