LET THEM EAT CAKE

When I started writing blogs I was determined to avoid politics and religion. Belief systems in these areas are so deeply rooted that debate is not possible. Besides, I have only my personal opinions in these areas and little expertise. However, I would like to share some thoughts regarding recent political events. Elders have the luxury of having observed the past and are able to make comparisons between past events with those occurring in the present. Nowadays the world is experiencing a outpouring of discontent, mostly by the youth who seem prone to live in the moment. Because they are immortal, time and consequence have less relevance to them. As existentialists they demand extensive societal changes and demand those changes right now.

Social demonstrations and uprisings are able to bring change. Many times the change is not in the greater good of the populace. The overthrow of the Tsar brought communism to Russia. The ruling commissars instituted a totalitarian police state as cruel or even more cruel as that of the ruling Romanoffs. Riding a wave of discontent and poverty, Hitler brought great change to Germany. We are well aware how that turned out. I recall how many Americans celebrated the Fall of the Shah of Iran. We were led to believe that he was a bad man. However, the mullahs who seized the throne appear to be far more cruel and dictatorial than the Shah ever was. Have the changes instituted by the Castro revolution advanced the long term welfare of the Cuban people? Are the Zimbabwean people better off under Mugabe? I am only posing these questions to suggest that political upheavals often do not bode well for the populace. Strong men or strong belief systems move in to fill the void left by previous rulers. New leaders promise utopias. When they are unable to carry out their promises, they are forced to resort to harsh repression.

Now we are witnessing the Arab Spring and the Occupy Wall Street movements. Overthrow of the existing governments in the near East fail to address the basic problems confronting those nations. For example, Egypt is overpopulated with a majority of young, functionally illiterate and unemployed youth. Jobs are not available. The country has limited natural resources, limited food production and limited manufacturing capacity. This is true of many of the countries in the Arabic world where popular uprisings are taking place. Historically this has been a recipe for the emergence of new dictatorships promising to do the impossible.

I am more puzzled by the Occupy Wall Street movement. Certainly the goals are noble. Who is not for justice and equality? To oppose such goals is almost like being against Mom and apple pie. Thus far there has been a notorious lack of specificity as how these noble goals should be accomplished. As a psychiatrist I have often told patients that without a plan to actuate their goals their goals were not worth a bucket of warm spit.

I am fully aware of the tremendous disparity in the distribution of wealth. Some executive salaries and bonuses appear to be obscene to the average person. Also, I am also in agreement that this is an important issue that shoul be addressed. However, I also also must confess that blaming one percent of the population (the rich) for the ills of the remainder of society seems illogical. Our social structure seems too complex to be explained away by a single factor. Where do the roles of globalization, mechanization of labor, over population, governmental fiscal irresponsibility, excesses of world manufacturing capacity and the effects of climate change figure in?

Many Americans are accustomed to living beyond their means. When they have to pay the Piper they seek out someone to blame. The rich seem to be a logical choice. Envy rears its ugly head. Psychologically envy is accompanied by a wish to destroy the object of the envy. Is that what the demonstrators want? Would destroying the rich truly be in the best interest of the poor? These are rhetorical questions that each reader must decide for himself.

As a disclaimer, I must note that I am just an aging pensioner and definitely not rich.

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5 Responses to LET THEM EAT CAKE

  1. ron grant says:

    Regarding occupy wall street. It seems as if regulations and laws have skewed the playing field in favor of people who just move money to make money. OWS is symptomatic of frustration. Living in Mexico where the playing field is owned and refereed by the families, I think the narco cartel gangs are able to recruit so easily because of the inequality of wealth. The American dream of any little guy being able to make it to the top is gone. Wealth means your kids get into Harvard and the wealthy perpetuate their power. Something has to be done or all hell will break loose.

    • progeny says:

      Clearly OWS is a symptom of frustration. This being said, it’s a frustration of victimhood in my humble opinion.

      I just read that Warren Buffet said he could resolve the budget deficit problems we have in 5 minutes (something like that). Quite simply put, whenever budget deficits were greater than 3% nobody in the current congress would be allowed to run again.

      I believe that the wealth inequality in Mexico is very different from the wealth inequality of the United States. In Mexico, the comparable 99% live in absolute poverty ( I know this description is incomplete and lacking for our current unemployment rate has driven up the poverty numbers here) whereas in the USA, I don’t believe that to be so. I don’t believe that the average Mexican citizen could take a month plus off of work to go protest the ills of their country. This is a luxury only afforded to those that have their basic needs met. It’s funny, I live in an area with a large population of Mexican workers, many illegal, and they see this country as the land of milk and honey, a land of opportunity.

      I totally reject the assertion “The American dream of any little guy being able to make it to the top is gone,” if what you mean by the top is the top 1% that the OWS group is protesting. I will grant you, making into the top 0.1% might be a different story.

      I doubt that most of the demonstrators have the foggiest regarding the series of events that brought us to where we currently are and I also suspect, if unemployment was at 2%, we wouldn’t be hearing boo regarding wealth inequality.

      By the way, it’s so bad here that the American Idol tour this year was close to sold out and the entertainment entertainment continues to do a booming business.

  2. mark strayer says:

    I was a patient of Dr. Bohr when I was 15 years old. I am now 59. I was diagnosed as being a “typical teenager, trying to be impressionable” to my dear parents. And as i look back, I was. Yet the liar in me still prevails, as i continue to embellish the real truth…Life is hard, often harder than death itself, when we are faced with the reality of our past. All in all, I was asked by Dr. Bohr if i had a problem with growing up. I remember i said No, I can’t wait…so here I am…older and wiser, grasping the truth as it comes, and having no real regrets…except the fish I caught…”…and it was 4 feet long, weighed about 150 lbs., and it was not edible…” Thanks,Vernon, you helped me in my ways of the world’s thinking…we are vulnerable, yet able to communicate to others our shortcomings and hopes, faith and prayers…
    Mark

  3. billy sunshine says:

    if corporations can’t buy congress{money is not speech and corps. r not people no matter what the supremes or romney say} and lobbyists can talk to but have no money to give to congressmen …..then democracy returns and kleptocracy and plutocracy become eventually just a memory…..take care Vcubed

    • progeny says:

      I appreciate the comment, however, though a lie told often enough becomes the truth in the minds of the lied to, it doesn’t itself become the truth. Another way of saying this is, just labeling something for the convenience of calling it the thing you’ve labeled it, doesn’t make it that thing. The Citizens versus United case decision did not proclaim corporations people, I don’t care how many times you say so.

      I know you’ve heard it many, many times before but here it is again. We’re a representative republic (supposed to be anyway) not a democracy to protect the minority from the tyranny of the majority.

      I guess what’s really at the heart of your comment is, it’s just impossible to get people to run for office that are honest and, if you want to know the biggest lobby group in the United States, it’s the seniors and the poor, or as Tocqueville said:

      “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations has been 200 years.”
      ― Alexis de Tocqueville

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