Friday, December 13, 2013

What we deserve

Jennifer makes a point about not everyone getting the same symbols of wealth and luxury, Income Inequality is Not Evil

One commenter offers, Deserve has nothing to do with it. How about "Some people have the skills to make more money than other people. Some people have earned nicer houses and nicer cars. And this is the way it should be."

I think this still overlooks some of the important aspects of things.

"Have", I think, is an incomplete replacement for "deserve".

What we are talking about is getting more -- whatever the mechanism, the intent is not what we have today, but what we will have, or what is (or should!) be available in the future. Often, we mean "very soon" in the future.

In Dicken's time, this was called "prospects". Or, as one novel put it, Great Expectations.

We live in a monetary economy. Civilization has ever concentrated wealth. When the economy is based in money, that means concentrating wealth is measured in dollars, and the luxuries money buys. We all should know that love grows in small walls, that joy and family are more abundant when living outside of the money/wealth cycle -- those with the luxuries live for the wealth or power or keeping same, and cannot be diverted to the wealths of family and personal joys.

And yet we are driven by the concentrators of wealth that need the lower classes to work the factories, to flip the burgers, to milk the government entitlement programs to continue the wealth generation that keeps the rich wealthy, and the money economy moving wealth their way.

Back in the '60s the phrase was "drop out" of the "rat race". Since then their have been many individuals and families that have dropped out, or gone back to the land. Have taken up gardening for a significant part of their food, have taken to very lightly mechanized and small farming, gone to crafts like blacksmithing and horse shoeing and growing heritage crops that don't rely on industrial fertilizers and industrial practices to control weeds and other pests.

So, one choice an individual or family can make is how to invest in the "generate more wealth" monetary economy. Another is to choose a middle way, to live on the fringes and let the wealth generation pass them by. Pulling off a Jeremiah Johnson and just wandering off into the mountains takes generational wisdom, and is not to be lightly chosen.

Another issue is limits. Not all of us are as capable as someone able to choose between software engineering and Walmart associate -- allowing for economic circumstance that might prevent following a job that ends, that might eliminate the resources to move to a new job. That might allow age, or a college degree, to limit ability to apply for work. There are physical handicaps that limit what one may contribute to the community, the family, or the wealth generation economy.

In a very real sense, most of us, whether living in the wealth-generation economy, including farming the industrial-style way of most of America's farms and ranches, or being cared for by family, community institution, or government handout, are living a dependent way of life. Our "standard" of living is determined by commercial interests, and political expediency, We "better" our circumstances by pleasing our benefactors (not to say, masters).

In some ways, a benevolent feudal system would make better use of resources, and care better for those needing the most care. As today, just choose (your master) wisely.