In reading an article in Wired Magazine about a man named Nathan Wolfe who has been predicting a pandemic like our current Covid situation for years, and his and other people’s efforts to bring that kind of thinking to the insurance/reinsurance business, I was struck by the realization that all of the thinking appeared to be about how to insure companies against these events, and no effort was being put into more life-affirming proactive efforts. Massive effort is being put into research about all kinds of negative fallout to companies in the event of natural catastrophes and how to protect them financially from those events, and NO effort is being put into changing the business models to insulate them from those events by changing the nature of their business and/or how they conduct those businesses.
Then I realized that this kind of thinking runs throughout our Western culture, seeing life in terms of financial repercussions, and how to protect against those damages, but very little relative effort being put into mitigating our “on the ground” exposure to them, and stopping them before they start. No changing practices at companies, no building publicly funded programs to insulate the public from consequences, no investment in technologies that would mitigate or eliminate the actual threats themselves, (think Global Warming as a primary example, something that we actually could literally prevent before it happens – more), literally almost all of our thinking is of the negative and reactive type, not the positive proactive type.
And of course thinking along these lines led me to the “why” of our societal non-response to this problem, which is rooted in the very simple dollar cost, which is itself rooted in our current culture’s conviction that the only measurement of value that society shall use is money, and that no other measure has any merit.
And of course now we see the fallout from that type of thinking, particularly and spectacularly in the case of the USA, where our level of commitment to money and profit and the rights associated with being able to continue to exercise our business and lives in pursuit OF money and profit, has led to the USA being the global leader in the Covid pandemic and deaths from it. And the reasons for those results can be traced directly to our culture’s obsession with money and the pursuit of it, while placing it equal to or above even HUMAN LIVES in terms of how we value it as a society.
I find this remarkable, that we have elevated a fictional made up tool to become equal to or more valuable than human lives and the experiences that make up those lives. But it appears to be true, at least in the USA, certainly our “leaders” and the “Shareholder Class” believe it to be true, and are willing to sacrifice sizable numbers of human lives and cause untold amounts of great suffering amongst those whom they feel are less deserving than they in order to continue the pursuit of money/profit.
Even more astonishing, those leaders and business owners/investors have managed to convince a very large segment of the American public to join them in this viewpoint, even while that stance puts them and their friends and families at risk of disease and even death as a result of that economic choice.
I often wonder if the obsession with money is why all businesses are fascinated only by financial responses to natural calamities, and how to lower risk by offloading it into insurance and C.Y.A.-style reactions, and NO effort is put into proactive efforts to stop or mitigate catastrophe before it happens. Well, in truth I don’t wonder, I’m fairly certain this is the basic truth of it.
I often wonder about the quality of human life we could have if we added human lives and our personal experiences of those lives to our system of measuring the “success” of those lives.
For example, how much better would the human experience be if the entire world decided that we were going to prioritize switching to free sustainable energy within say a decade, and we would leave fossil fuel/coal/gas/etc forever and energy would be generated by solar/thermal/wind/etc, and would be free to all who needed it. That kind of thing could actually be done, we’d just all have to agree to put aside “profit” for a moment and decide to save our planet/ourselves as a reasonable priority.
But we’re under the spell of the False Religion of Profit Above All Else, including our future, and the lives of our children and their’s and so on…and so nothing is done. And that spell is a created thing, a desired thing, a need created by the Very Rich to allow them to create and then control a system that allows them to order society along lines that benefit only them, and create a modern feudal society in which they are the Lords, and we the Vassals.
We live in Fear so much of the time, fear of losing our livelihood, our freedoms, our health, our lives, but because of our allegiance to the false Gawd Of Profit we are ensuring that we will indeed lose all of those things.
We are investing in our own Doom, the very thing we Fear.
I had a conversation with a younger person the other day, we were talking about the concept of Wage Slavery, and how most people don’t really conceptualize their lives in that context, but that it does apply to many, (and in recent years more and more) of us.
He had an interesting take on it, a difference in how he saw it that I hadn’t ever really seen, and that was that we are SELLING our lives to someone when we go to work for them. He saw that more in the case where someone joins a long term type of job, like a corporation or a law firm, any kind of job that is a long term, possibly even life long commitment.
The point for him was that if most people saw the work that they do to earn money in this light, they would immediately begin to question whether or not they were getting fair value for essentially selling your life to someone else, and whether that is a good use of your life.
Now obviously most people aren’t thinking of it in those terms, and as obviously there’s a clear need to have money in our society in order to function within it, as without money you’re going to have a pretty rough time eating and keeping a roof over your head, tho alternatively you could go live in the woods somewhere scrounging for food like Davy Crockett and wrestling bears if you’d rather.
So thinking about your career in THOSE terms, that you’re selling your life, essentially so that someone else can become even richer, that’s a really clear way to look at the value you derive from working in that way, and I think it’s pretty good discussion to have with yourself.
Money, being the man-made fiction that it is, has no ACTUAL value, only the percieved value society has assigned to it, and we all sort of “agree” to assign it that value and operate under that agreement.
But what happens to the other values that make up the experience of being human? Like, what’s the money value of watching your child being born, or the “value” in dollars of a sunset, or hearing your child’s honest clear laughter, or any number of feelings and experiences that are the essence of being a human? While society has a tendency to rate ALL of our lives in terms of dollars, I don’t think any of us would say that there’s a money number that makes sense in those contexts.
So why are we only valuing what we do as work in that way? Are we only experiencing our lives in one way by using that metric as the main way to measure our lives? What about all the things that we can’t attach a dollar figure to?
I think it’s a good point to consider when we go to work for someone else and sell them our lives…
Either it’s just Trump self-aggrandizing, or it’s the #TyrantClass giving us a choice between who they want (Hillary), and someone who *appears* to be a populist, but whose presentation is basically insupportable in any factual way, it just articulates a right-wing under-informed rage at the *actual* inequities that we ALL face, but in a totally self-destructive and emotion based way.
In either case, Trump is a farce. A distracting and VERY DIVISIVE farce, but a farce nonetheless.
The problem is that in his articulation of that rage, he very adroitly focuses that rage on completely inappropriate and ultimately guiltless parts of our society, by using preexisting prejudices and fears and tying them in with childish delusional 14 y/o answers that could never work in the real world, but have GREAT appeal to the lower instincts of racism and prejudice and fear in some segments of our society.
And the problem with that is simple….by unleashing this tsunami of Ignorant/Stupid/Angry into the ballot box, we could actually get a result that no one credits right now, and that is to elect another Hitleresque leader onto history who is empowered to behave exactly as he said he would, and he begins to repeat a particular part of human history, taking us ALL down a dark tunnel into another time that is a sewer of the worst parts of ourselves.
By putting these horrific consequences out of their minds, and only focusing on the parts of his messages that resonate for them (the Fed, Central Banks, Mexicans taking our jobs, terrorists, vague and otherwise conspiracies of varying magnitude, etc etc…), those who vote for him based on these single issues disregard the other very powerful and also popular views that he holds; the undeniable racism, the ridiculous “solutions” to alleged “problems” that things like a Giant Wall would “solve”, bombing places in the world until they basically stop “bothering” us, and a whole host of ludicrous solutions that appeal to a part of humanity best left in the caves of our not very ancient human past….which is where they belong.
This Willfull Ignorance, this choice to only focus on the little flake of Fool’s Gold in this giant pile of excrement, THAT is childish and foolish. But that is EXACTLY what this farce plays to, that 14 y/o need to fix the “One Big Thing” in some simple bar-parking-lot-fight kind of way, whatever the cost is attached to it.
These folks who succumb to this better hope they don’t get what they ask for. For those of us who understand what is happening here, you people terrify us, because we can see that you BELIEVE in it, and that is truly frightening, because we have learned from history that this kind of thing can become real and profound, very quickly.
When I see otherwise fairly rational friends of mine, whom I know to be decent people, falling prey to this, I know it’s real, and it’s profoundly shocking and scary to me.