Monday, January 02, 2012

Eye of the needle and all that shit

Boyfriend and I keep having bits of this discussion but never quite get around to hashing it out because a)neither of us really enjoys disagree or debating with each other (or at least I don't- I don't think he does either, but I don't speak for him) and b)dude is just too dead fucking sexy and I find myself all unable to form coherent sentences on the regular around him.

So what is this discussion that we keep not having about? Does being rich automatically make you a bad person. I say yes (EAT THE RICH!!!!!!!!!!!) and he says no.

Now, the act of having money doesn't necessarily make someone bad. Instead it is the actions required to get, keep and increase one's wealth that make someone bad, or more properly, amoral.

For example, if you were the CEO of a company and you needed to increase your company's profit margin then you would need a certain lack of empathy to rationalize laying off a large number of employees. You would have to either not have, or be able to ignore any pangs of conscience over the welfare of your soon to be ex employees and their families.

And what do you know, science actually backs up the idea that wealthy people are less empathetic than poor people.

It also turns out that the rich aren't quite as charitable as they are made out to be. Turns out the bottom 20% gives away one and a half times more than those in the top 20% do.

That all goes to the getting, keeping, and increasing of their income that I mentioned before.

Of course there are companies that start out with the idea that they can be the ethical exception to the rule. But again when greater profit margins are in competition with those ethics, the profit margin will win. See Google's Don't Be Evil mission statement versus China's censorship laws or even Google's own giant clusterfuck of privacy issues regarding Buzz. See Amazon fuck every one over again and again. and again

Hell, even the do-gooder Gates Foundation has issues because it is funded with monies made by creating the problems that the foundation is trying to ameliorate.

Now we could go around all night with the chicken/egg question of does capitalism make people amoral or did amoral people make capitalism, but I think that's a red herring. Because I am a structuralist (yes how out-dated and 70's of me, and yes like Foucault I am veering more and more post-modern by the day. Problem for another day folks) I don't really give a flying fuck about that and prefer to look at how the system reinforces and encourages the behavior that perpetuate the status quot of the system. Capitalism is an amoral system that ALWAYS breaks down to profits over people. It is amoral. It has no ethics. Ethics of any sort would interfere wit the one mail goal of the system - profit.

But capitalism isn't a mechanical system. There are no gears or levers or belts or buttons. There is no invisible hand. It is a system comprised entirely of the actions of the people involved in it. But we obscure that with passive voice and theoretical discussion instead of looking at the people who control the system and benefit most from it. We are committing the cardinal sin of removing agency from those lofty individuals. The system is amoral because its operators are amoral. Just read what they have to say about current grievances from the bottom 99. The rich are very, very different from us. And they really don't give a flying fuck. They don't have to.

Re: The title of this post is part of an oft quoted bit of Jesus speak. It is no coincidence that most religions have strongly worded bits about kindness and generosity towards the poor. If you were trying to get a whole bunch of people to follow you, you aim your message at the masses. It's much easier to convert people who are suffering than it is to convert the comfortable. Not that there is anything wrong with those messages. I just don't need a sky fairy telling me I'll be rewarded when I'm dead so what injustices that happen to me now don't need to be rectified.