The Giant Leap

Human kind is at a crossroads. There’s a gigantic contradiction in our society that people rarely talk about, if they even admit it exists.

We do unspeakable things to animals for their meat, fur, labor and more. All while freaking out about even the tiniest injustice done to humans, and cats, and dogs.

I am sure that some pet owners would kill to protect their animals (and other material possessions…) and still eat meat. Of course there are vegetarians and vegans, so clearly this contradiction doesn’t apply to everyone globally, but legally and psychologically this attitude gap is fascinating.

Contradiction
Contradiction

It’s not clear if we’ll continue to move towards more human rights, and animal rights, because activists have been decrying the treatment of animals for a long time, and many people will even buy cleaner meat products (humane treatment of live stock, if such a thing is possible), and still not much has changed.

It’s entirely possible that the laws we have protecting humans and organizations are perhaps too strict. We could end up with a middle ground between living beings being consider products to be slaughtered and sold and life being generally respected, if such a thing is possible.

Clearly some of our ideals neglect to take into account the reality of our existence because after all, life must consume to continue.

Eat the rich

evil-moneyTo those who think that poor people are lazy and that they should just get jobs. News flash, technology is largely replacing the need for the kind of jobs the uneducated could get. We are fast moving towards a world where it won’t make any sense at all for everyone to be employed, we just won’t need it. So what, they aren’t useful so they get nothing? They don’t have the right to live (to eat, to drink, to love…)
We need to drop this notion that a “career” is the right path for everyone.
We need to drop this notion that we all need to “earn a living”.

Personally I’d rather live around unemployed but honest and polite people, than brutal back stabbers willing to sell you out for a pay raise. Capitalism had one thing right, inspiring people to create and improve, but the promise of money has turned against us. Money in and of itself is fast becoming the worst possible reward, as it brainwashes people to think that happiness and success are material and not psychological.
Of course, I don’t believe I can convince others of this and I see no point in wasting too much energy trying. Instead I will live it.
Feed the poor, eat the rich.

The pursuit of money

Maybe money really does make you happy, at least in the moment. People are actually very visibly happy when they receive money. The larger the amount the more they exude happiness.

I suppose the truth might be closer to: money doesn’t keep you happy. Like any other material object, we tend to lose our interest once we’ve obtained what we wanted. Then there’s nurture.

Money is everything in society; we define ourselves by our incomes. We flaunt, not our money, but our status, our wealth, and we celebrate how easy it all is for us. We like to show off and money is a big deal.

The problem, in my humble opinion, is that money is so powerful to us now that the great majority of us are willing to ignore ethical considerations when sufficient amounts of money are involved. Money can make you a bad person, and maybe money isn’t brainwashing you so much as it is consuming you, incapacitating your ability to empathize with those who are transferring they money to you. You might not even think of the negative consequences at all, so you don’t feel dirty. You are just ignorant, and that’s okay as long as you are rich.

Kindness

Act of kindness

 

The world is full of beauty and wonder, but it is also a harsh place. Life is a struggle from beginning to end and things get very hard when we forget that we only grow through pain and only learn from challenges.

If something is hard, but you know the outcome will be positive, that is an indication that it is well worth the sweat and blood. Taking the easy road almost always leads to more hardship; we grow weak and tired when we avoid earning our spoils. When things are too good to be true, they generally are.

We live in a world where half the population is more concerned about “Freedom”, a term so often misunderstood and twisted to mean exactly the opposite of what it really means: responsibility, rather than respect and the life giving ecosystems we depend on. Freedom is not doing whatever you want whenever you want, that is anarchy. Freedom is respecting the world around you enough so that everyone has personal freedom to live how they see fit, so long as they do not encroach on the freedom of others of course.

Kindness is easy, it is free and wonderful, but it’s not “cool”. What is “cool” these days is more closely related to “not giving a fuck”, to excess and intolerance of change. To be open to new ideas often comes across as not having a mind of your own, while resistance to the very real and ever changing world only makes things hard, but without the positive outcome.

Then there’s this constant demand from the feeble minded that those around them change to be more like them. Even intelligent people with proper morals and life styles seem to think they can change others and that they have the right to do so in the first place. Fact is rights are an illusion, we are thrust into this unforgiving world and physically anything can happen. The law doesn’t prevent, it only punishes.

The real solution is kindness, respect and tolerance. Too many short sighted individuals escalate situations instead of de-escalating them. You cannot solve a situation by applying more of the same problem to it, and that’s what violence is, a problem. Love is violence’s only enemy, whereas more violence almost always makes the problem worse.

Some people would call me a hippie, and that’s okay, but really I am not all peace and love, I just think ahead; I see the future I want and I act in the present to give myself the opportunity to achieve it. I don’t see a bright future where between now and then is violence, intolerance, hatred and fear. We need to communicate, agree to disagree; we need to let research, history and science guide our paths, not men and their flawed ideals and biases. But I won’t pretend to want to force this on anyone else, all I can do is live it, and be kind.

The less fortunate

We live in a new kind of society, where kids leave the house at 18 and never come back. We don’t take care of our parents anymore and some us don’t have even kids that could take care of us anyway.
We’ve replaced familial obligations with freedom and individuality. That is all fine and good, so long as we replace the help our elderly used to receive with something else. Hardships used to be everyone’s problem; you couldn’t neglect the poor and the weak because they lived on your doorstep, in smaller villages. They had a name and a face and their problems weren’t brushed off as laziness or entitlements or some other bullshit excuse some people give.
Moreover, some people are not as luck as we are, they don’t have the smarts, the looks or the contacts that we have. Things that simple and common sense to us are hard and confusing to them. The less fortunate need the help of the fortunate, it has always been that way and it will always be that way.

We can keep denying reality, and watch the lives or people around us crumble, or we can stop complaining and start helping.India_poor

Why the rich must pay more Part Deux

Last time on JustProphet.com:

Something about bread as money, metaphorically…

Clearly if anyone gets the jump on the local economy, they are quickly put in a position where retaining their wealth, and often increasing it, is easier and easier. With more wealth comes more power and with more power it is trivial to gain yet more wealth.

Taxes inhibit that trend a little bit, but that is not exactly what they are designed for. Taxation can be defined as follows:

“The purpose of taxation is to raise revenues for the functioning and running of the government machineries. Taxation also improves the services the government offers to its people and also increases the quantum of revenue collection.” -Ask.com

Government machineries come in a great many forms and are arguably absolutely necessary for a “society” to even function. Clearly roads, bridges, sewage systems, water filtration plants, electrical grids and other infrastructure don’t build themselves. Without government, these things would only exist if an individual were to pay for it themselves and clearly it would be silly to expect anyone to pay for this infrastructure for everyone. So the government collects taxes and puts that money directly back into society in the form of infrastructure and of course government job salaries.

It is important to understand that governments don’t hoard money, any income is eventually spent, putting that money back into circulation, and the more money flows, the better the economy functions. In a recession a combination of high prices and lower wages result in less cash flow in general; further compounding the effect is the tendency to start saving one’s money. When times are tough, we don’t go out and spend frivolously, but this restraint locks up funds, revenues shrink and then so do wages and this downward spiral continues, bringing the economy with it.

Although many people complain about the inefficiencies of government spending, it seems like they forget that all of that money, every cent of it, gets put back into the economy. This is in contrast to corporate profits which often get siphoned into tax shelters, bank accounts or more recently just get sent directly to China.

You have corporations like Walmart, who undercut local shops by buying from slave labor countries, who pay their workers just enough to only be able to afford to shop at Walmart. This destroys local economies, this destroys the countries financial situation in general as Americans aren’t paid enough to live well and all the profits leave the country, never to return. But I digress…

So taxes don’t just redistribute wealth, they pay for the very underpinnings of society. They pay for police, firemen, schools and teachers, judges and prisons, parks and infrastructure. Almost everything you associate with modern society is paid for through tax revenue.

Now let’s look at tax rates. First there are progressive tax rates, which means that the less you make, the less you pay in proportion. This makes sense because if you earn very little money, clearly you don’t have a lot of excess revenue… you might not spend your money very wisely, but it’s not like you have a lot to be irresponsible with in the first place.

Then there’s the middle class which earns more and pays a higher percentage of their revenue. This trend is logical, as these people will in fact make more net revenue then their lower earning counterparts. They pay more but they also tend to have benefited more from previous government spending. These people probably have bigger houses, more cars and in general probably consume more. This puts a bigger burden on infrastructure so paying more in taxes is only fair.

Then you have the rich and ultra rich. As it stands now these people do pay a slightly large share of their revenue, as much like the middle class they tend to consume a lot more, often indirectly, but more nonetheless. If you’ve struck oil, government built and paid for infrastructure is 100% necessary for you to carry out your daily activities. Everything you make is made possible by tax revenue and the more you use these government services, the more you should be responsible for helping to support it.

People often look at this the wrong way. They look at a millionaire’s tax burden in terms of fixed dollars, and say “hey, that guy pays more in taxes than I make in a year!” This simplistic view is often more representative of the ignorance of the individual claiming it then it is of reality. Consider the following:

You own a business and employ hundreds of people. You rely on roads, electricity, water, bridges, tunnels and many other government built infrastructure to be able to do anything. Your profits, although you should be proud of helping to create them, are in no way shape or form all because of you. In fact it is rare for the rich to actually be the ones who “make” their money, their employees do. Their employees also use roads, bridges, electricity, etc… All of these activities that put pressure on the system are caused by you, and although you are a job creator, you are also using a great deal more government services than anyone else. You should then be responsible for putting a proportionate amount back into the system. Any other view is that of greed.

So what should we be looking at if the dollars paid in taxes is not representative/meaningful? What should these often highly intelligent entrepreneurs get as a reward? Clearly a lot of money is a good start… Maybe it makes the most sense then to look at their net income compared to the average, or more appropriately compared to their company’s average. That would be fair wouldn’t it?

I don’t think it is objective to look at the money paid in taxes and claim that those amounts are significant when the cost to society are extremely difficult to add up, especially if you factor in environmental damages that are then passed on as health care costs. Surely businesses that hurt the environment should pay a rather large proportion to keeping society clean and healthy.

The world is a lot smaller than it used to be. People are getting sick and tired of abuse, or inequality, of injustice and of unethical behaviour in general. When you hear people say that the rich don’t currently pay their fair share, they are not saying that they don’t pay more taxes than you, because that is relatively meaningless. What they mean is that the benefits they reap from the system are not being paid forward. There is way too much taking and not nearly enough giving, and many of these issues are not measurable in terms of dollars, or at least you’d have to be a finance/economic expert to fully appreciate them.

The problem is that in our world, these experts are the rich ones, and there are few stronger desires in this world then to become wealthy, regardless of the human cost. Experts make the money and set the policies, there is no bias more blatant than that.

If the rich were taxed their fair share, it would be 70-80% of their income and that would be fair, because if you do the math, anything less leads to environmental, societal and economic degredation.

We live in a world where the rich are more wealthy and powerful than any king, dictator or emperor has ever been in the history of man kind. It goes against all notions of equality and morality, and the only thing fighting back against this realization is greed and the idea: “If I become rich someday, I won’t want to pay it forward or share any either.”

greed1024x768

Greed is our generation’s war, and we are losing.

Why the rich must pay more

Higher taxes on the rich is a very lively debate that seems to be equally split at 50% for and 50% against. Wouldn’t the opinion of professional economists weigh in and explain to everyone how society has to treat this question? You think it would, be consider this…

Who do we really listen to in society to solve our dilemnas? Turns out most often we turn to the news media, politicians, family and friends. When was the last time you got your advice from a real professional, other than perhaps your medical advice. Shouldn’t economists tell us how much to tax who? Well they do all the time, but their voices are drowning under wave after wave of propaganda designed and paid for by… you guessed it, the rich!

After all, without the poor, you can’t have the rich. Our english words are defined by statistics, by comparisons and by anecdotes, some real and some made up. You’ll always have the rich and the poor, even if there a lot more equality. That’s just how statistics work: the population is 100% and you have the top 50% of earners and the bottom 50% of earners, and this will always be true regarding of income equality. That alone doesn’t really say anything about the situation, but a lot of people don’t even grasp that very simple concept, they think that the bottom 50% are lazy and just don’t work hard enough.

The truth is that you can work really really hard at a really really low paying job and you’ll be really really poor. On the flip side you can slack off and do almost nothing at a really high paying job, and… need I say more?

Work ethic has little to do with the global situation. Yes there are lazy poor people and I am sure you could find the poster child for every extreme case of incompetence, entitlement abuse, lazyness, etc… Just like you could find perfect examples to vilify the rich, but rarely if ever are these people representative, and seeing it any other way is  generalization, which is essentially prejudice.

There are rich men who are doing good than ever before, and there are poor people who do feel like the world owes them something. Neither of these cases makes a single difference in this discussion though, because when we talk about the rich and the poor and tax rates and money, we’re talking about society and the system that rules it. We are talking about the law, economics and how these affect social mobility and the financial status of the average human being.

First, understand that money is a limited resource, at any given time there is a fixed amount in circulation. Therefore, if any one person has a whole lot of it, and isn’t putting it back into circulation in short order, then this creates an imbalance, it creates hardship and poverty.

First, realize that money only exists to facilitate trade, so let’s switch it out for something more tangible, like bread. Bread has value in that you can eat it, and if bread were the currency, you could also trade for it. Now clearly bread doesn’t last forever, in fact almost nothing does. The fact that money doesn’t expire is actually a  problem on its own, but we’ll get to that some other time.

So assume there’s a village with 100 people living in it. Every day the bread maker makes 100 loaves, enough to feed everybody. Now these loaves won’t always be distributed equally because in society we’ve all agreed that some jobs are more important than others, whether or not that is true is something we’ll get to some other time.

Now let’s say the mayor is the local “rich guy”, he takes up 35 loaves of bread each day, because his work is deemed more important. The rest of the village get the rest of the bread and clearly some of them are going to be hungry. Now there’s enough bread for everyone, but the economy doesn’t work that way.

The mayor realizes his affluence, and of course knows he does not need 35 loaves of bread per day so he decides to redistribute his share by selling his loaves, at a profit of course, otherwise he’s not really making more than others now is he?

Now the mayor has this incredible advantage, because not only does he already earn way more than he needs, but he can also use his wealth to enrich himself even more, and as his earns more and more, the balance is tipped further and further in his favor. His holdings in fact decreases the supply of wealth and thus the price rises, benefiting only the mayor, who holds the gross majority and thus can set the price at whatever he wants.

Meanwhile the rest of the village grows skinny and much less their own hard work, can’t compete with the man who owns everything  already. The divide deepens forever, because there’s no system in place to prevent this from happening.

Next time, we’ll talk about taxes, and how they can help fight the natural imbalances that occur in a capitalist system like the one described above.

animated picutre of Scrooge McDuck diving into money
Scrooge McDuck dives into money