Oh no, I’m turning a peculiar shade of Red, it won’t rub off. Uh, feeling faint…
So, a little while ago I wrote about Getting Radicalised, and how my thinking has taken a turn for the Left. I thought I might be a bit more specific, and explain more here.
If the economy doesn’t work for the benefit of all and only for the rich few, there’s something wrong with the economy. Capitalism has in it to be of benefit to everyone,to provide everyone with enough wealth to make life bearable. And I’m not talking about economic equality for all, just that there’s enough wealth to go around to give a bit of basic support to everyone without buying them luxuries.
For example, one rich man has 6 private jets in their garage, and he has the money to maintain them, even when they’re not in use. This is a lot of money. On the other hand, 6 families struggle each day to earn enough money to have a loaf of bread each day. The rich man doesn’t have to get rid of all his planes, and he doesn’t have to buy the families planes to make them “equal”, but the cost of one of those planes and its maintenence could pay a year’s worth of bread for six families, and with the change left over there’d still be enough to buy a small business or two (i.e. to make more money).
It also seems wrong that a lady living off a poor pension can scratch around the bottom of her purse for spare change to put in the charity box whilst some rich folk store their millions in offshore tax-evading schemes. Perhaps she feels embarrassed that she “couldn’t give more,” but she’d feel angry if she knew. The world is upside down. I have a feeling that millionaires have it within their power to make taxes and charities a thing of the past. Possibly even poverty. If only they could gain a bit of generosity. Some governments sell off public services to private owners (i.e. privatisation) in the hopes of ironing out economic irregularities. Wouldn’t it be easier to tax the rich and raise the quality of public services with that money? Crack down on tax-evasion? (well no, because the government is in cahoots with private owners, and they even cut taxes to the rich to “encourage wealth”).
Perhaps what’s even worse is that a lot of people are rich, not because they have worked hard and done something productive for society, but simply because they know how to navigate the economy, knowing how to make more pour in than out, and how to hold onto that money. Other people do the work, and they reap the benefits for merely owning the “means of production”. That’s like getting the cream from the top of the milk bottle, then getting half more of the milk before using the rest to pay for workers and various expenses.
The capitalist idea of “accumulation of wealth” sounds good, and should be applicable to everyone, owners and workers. But something isn’t right because most people live month by month, accumulating very little of what they earn and spending the rest on taxes, bills, debts and other expenses (most dreaded are the unexpected expenses). Perhaps they can put some aside for savings and then what little they have left they spend on luxuries. For those that can accumulate a lot of wealth, they quite rightly have a sense of “ownership” of the money; for everyone else there is a lack of control and a continuous leaking away of money. Even of the money that they rightfully earned, that should by right be theirs but instantly gets swept away in the tide of expenses. I suppose we can count ourselves lucky; we’re having to live month by month, but many more live day to day, hand to mouth, not sure where their next meal will come from. Aren’t we fortunate, eh?
If I put my mind to it, I could make a lot of money. I could take what little money I have, invest it in something, and within a few weeks or months, I’d be bathing in the stuff without having done a bit of work. It would take a bit of knowhow (something I haven’t got, but I suppose I could learn it), but I could do it. But my “problem” is that my values and priorities are elsewhere. If I start concerning myself about money, I’ll get money, but I may miss out on appreciating other things in life. Simplicity for a start, which doesn’t earn much money, but doesn’t cost much either. It also makes me feel more human, and if I put that aside to prioritise making money, I’d feel less human! I have no problem with capitalism in principal – it does indeed create wealth and has brought benefits for many people – but it’s the way it is used that gets my goat. It’s become something essentially unfair and in some cases immoral and destructive.
So, what do we do? Tax the rich? Put all production into public hands? (crack down on tax-evasion, that for a start). I’m not sure that will work either, not without a change in mentality. We can change the government and how it works, but if we don’t change our very thought patterns, we’ll repeat the same mistakes again but in a different form; instead of “privatisation” we’ll call it “nationalisation”. Just because the political form has changed, doesn’t mean the psychological patterns behind it have changed, too. Power adapts itself quite well (ooh, I think I’ve just lost a bit of Red). This is where I turn anarcho-communist, but only in an ideal world where everyone has learnt psychological autonomy combined with a potent spirit of cooperation.
Education is needed. Not “fill head with information”, but “learning how to think for oneself” and self-directed education. If we want “power to the people” then it’ll have to be based on intelligence and reflection, not knee-jerk reactions of the masses (which will be delegated to a “specialised” ruling minority, anyway). If money must be invested in anything, let it be education, so that future generations can learn to think independently and democratically. The rich need to learn that money isn’t worth what they think it is (it’s actually worth more, but not in the way they think it is). Not entirely sure the State can handle this type of education without fudging it up, but just increasing education funding and removing economic barriers to it should be a good start. Education also is an effective way of slowing down or reversing population growth, so millionaires don’t have to worry about creating new generations of “dependents”.
Perhaps I’m not so socialist after all, since it shouldn’t be the government’s responsibility to redistribute the wealth, but the responsibility of the wealthy themselves, of anyone with money to spare, no one should have to force anyone to do anything (fee-fi-fo-fum, I smell the blood of a liberal man). The rich should be decent enough to share their wealth and invest it in things that improve society as a whole – there are decent rich, philanthropists and such, but it seems to me they aren’t always so visible. But until that happens or the role of money is replaced by something else, redistributing the wealth will have to be the government’s job, and I’ll have to continue entertaining socialist thoughts.
Wha… what happened? Where am I? I think I must’ve had some sort of black out. It must have been a red out. 😉