The End Of Trump, Martin Westerman 10/28/20
2020: The End Of Trump & The Administration Full Of People Who Just Don’t Get It
By Martin Westerman / Oct 2020
America’s wealthy class today feel not just entitled but anointed. The Wilbur Rosses and Betsy DeVos’s and Eric Princes and Louis DeJoys and Donald Trumps and Jeff Bezos’s and Larry Ellisons and Billy Grahams and megachurch pastors, and so many more multi-millionaires and billionaires think it’s God’s will that they’ve arrived at wealth. They take literally the Protestant interpretation of the Torah’s (aka The Old Testament) Deuteronomy 8:18: “…remember the Lord thy God who gives you power to get wealth.” They believe that God has not only favored them above all other creatures on Earth; He has given them license to do as they please. At the top of the white racial heap, they embody George Herbert’s 1640 “Outlandish Proverb” – “Living well is the best revenge” – on everyone not like them. And by a sort of Divine Right, they work to bend others and the environment to their wills.
The U.S. Administration’s current crop of annointeds ignores Herbert’s dictum: “Every one is a master and servant.” And they ignore the second half of 8:18: God gives us power for wealth “to establish the covenant He swore unto your fathers…” In other words, says Josie Silver of Kehila News, those who attain wealth must be both masters and servants, and become examples of valor and virtue beyond their economic might. As Victory Life Ministries International says (Oct 7, 2019); “You need to know the purpose for wealth, so that when God takes you to that level .. you will be able to appropriate it well.”
All those named above (except Hebert) are staunch Republicans. In Impostors, Steve Bannon describes how contemporary Republicans have quit governing and become a “post-policy party.” At war with expertise, evidence and data, they only focus on pursuing and maintaining power. They’ve basically embraced nihilism, gaslighting, and bait-and-switch scams to fool people into voting for them. In office, they work to benefit their wealthy supporters, transfer public money into private pockets, pack federal courts with creationist-theocratic, anti-woman, pro-corporate judges, and inject Christian theocracy into military and civilian affairs.
Acting only as masters, never as (public) servants, DeVos bends the Dept. of Education toward eliminating public schools and privatizing what’s left; Ross bends the Dept. of Commerce toward opening the world for plunder; DeJoy bends the USPS to shrink public postal delivery and expand private delivery by firms he’s invested in. The Grahams (& many U.S. Senators, Representatives, and some Supreme Court Justices) work to convert America into a Christian nation, under Puritan (aka sharia) law, as Prince supplies private armies for billionaires and despots to create a modern version of Middle Ages monarchies. And Trump wants to be king of one, if not all of them.
The wealthy struggle with empathy. Higher social class and higher income are associated with higher mental performance, but these people struggle to understand emotional cues and empathize with others. It may be because they operate more independently than “lower-class individuals,” who have greater levels of cultural inter-dependence, and unlike higher-class individuals, appraise others as more relevant to their goals and well-being. Study authors Dietze and Knowles note that their conclusion runs against the conventional wisdom that “lower class” people show neurocognitive deficits. As George Packer observed in The Atlantic (June 2020), “The only way for a poor person to find out whether he-she has Corona is to sneeze in a rich person’s face.”
Another study, in the July 2019 Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, shows how being wealthy can lead to harmful psychological behaviors and personal habits. Its authors found that individuals from affluent backgrounds would often deny their class privilege by “increasing their claims of personal hardships and hard work, to cover [their] privilege in a veneer of meritocracy.” Evidence of privilege “threatens recipients’ self-regard by calling into question whether they deserve their successes,” the authors wrote. “Evidence of class privilege demonstrates that many life outcomes are determined by factors not attributable to individuals’ efforts alone, but are caused in part by systemic inequities that privilege some over others.” As Herbert says: “The Rich knows not who is his friend.”
In the June 2019 Nature Communications, another study argued that consumption patterns of the affluent are so egregiously unsustainable that only a concerted effort by the wealthy to consume less can prevent catastrophes like global warming, pollution and biodiversity loss. The world’s top 10% of income earners cause between 25% and 43% of environmental impact, while the world’s bottom 10% of income earners exert around 3% to 5%. By inciting “consumption expansion and the structural imperative for growth in competitive markets,” wealthy societies, economies and cultures “inhibit necessary societal change.” The authors advocate “a global and rapid decoupling of detrimental impacts from economic activity.”
Human brains seem to be full of iron filings that get magnetized by powerful and rich people. The masses follow, pay obeisance, even heap adulation on the wealthy and powerful – until they become disgusted, demagnetize, and go in search of new attractors. While they are magnetized, humans allow the wealthy and powerful to think their money and its power can perpetually protect them from accountability. When demagnetized, however, humans can explode into revolutions and civil wars – the worst ways to hold leaders accountable. So we’re begging two questions here: how to manage money, and how to manage change without revolution.
What is money? It’s not the root of all evil. It isn’t moral or immoral. It’s amoral. And we know that the more that money gets spread around, the less evil gets done.
Money is a medium of exchange. It flows through our dynamic society as we exchange it for goods and services, pay bills and save for “rainy days” and retirement. It provides the power to get food, clothing and shelter; to buy land for hunting and growing food; the power to isolate and hire private security to protect yourself and those you favor from those you don’t. It’s bestows power to protect from environmental, legal and political harm; to buy materiel and invest in enterprises; and to pay or force people to do your bidding.
We know money has no intrinsic value. It can’t be eaten, drunk or planted, fashioned into clothing or shelter, or used to make babies. It can’t express non-monetary values, such as health, family, community, education, leisure or faith. And its buying power changes with supply and demand, and levels of enterprise.
But where we spend money tells us what’s important to us. The world’s economic systems have helped smooth out the distribution of world resources and opportunities, so food, water, shelter, health care and mobility have never been more widely accessible. But we funnel too much to the top of the wealth and power heaps, too much to the military, and waste too much. The distribution of resources and money is still inequitable. The power elite controlling those systems are mostly unaccountable. And it has ever been this way, though we thought America and Western democracies would be exceptions. We’ve let them suck the money out of America, so our infrastructure and institutions are crumbling. Throughout history, unaccountable and ruthless leaders have brought empires down – from Persia and Rome to Spain, the Ottomans and maybe now, the USA.
How would the world look without money? It could be made up of hunter-gatherer societies. They’re self-sufficient, independent, and environmentally sound. But that only works for small bands of humans on a wide-open planet. And it requires huge amounts of time and labor to secure food, make clothing and shelter, raise young, tend domestic animals and migrate. And humanity today has leapt far away from there:
(1) Trading has evolved beyond the local tribe, into regional and transcontinental commerce – between kingdoms, city states and empires. We had to create new means of pricing and trading, where a product or service couldn’t be offered for barter. So we invented “money” to represent the values of all the quantities of items we trade — from livestock and artifacts, to precious stones and metals.
(2) We’re perennially unwilling to part with money, even as all our religions and charities ask us to give it away for the common good. But we’re driven by fears of scarcity.
(3) We’ve made it possible to make money on money, through “debt instruments” (e.g., mortgages, stocks, bonds), creating new mediums of exchange (e.g., platinum, taxes, carbon credits), and serving as transfer agents for money, goods and services. This ability has enabled money manipulators to repeatedly torpedo world economies,
(4) Amassing exchange mediums can make us comfortable and even powerful. It has spawned monumental deceits and mayhem, and prodigious catastrophes for societies and ecosystems. It has also spawned endless legal and taxation efforts to reign in hoarders and manipulators, and re-distribute their wealth.
So, how can we manage change without civil war or revolution?
If today’s “golden rule” is, “Those with the gold make the rules,” we must install as our leaders those with gold, or those immune to its attraction, who live by the master & servant mentality. Then urge or force them to create smarter structures for holding leaders accountable, and managing the flow of money. We got ourselves into this mess, we can get ourselves out of it.
There are basics:
• Enforce and create structures to hold the wealthy and powerful accountable
• Redistribute wealth, so infrastructure and basic services can be funded, and opportunities created for all Americans
• Stop calling money “speech.” It’s an exchange medium. In politics, its flow must be equitably managed
• Stop calling corporations “people.” They’re business entities. If they don’t live up to the principles in their charters, chartering authorities must dissolve them
• Amend laws governing lending, education and living spaces so they apply equitably to all Americans
• Account for the value of our environment on our economies’ books. Nature produces more than $55 trillion in benefits and savings for us every year. Take note.
COVID-19 has helped speed our society toward running cashless. Can we go money-less? Can we create a national barter and exchange system, rather like carbon credit trading, using current financial and accounting frameworks? Could we manage it through national syndicates or utilities, so resources, goods and services would be consumed, offered and traded first locally, then regionally, nationally, and internationally? The system would boost local self-reliance, and free us to innovate and create opportunities, without agonizing over what we could afford. It would change the natures of “fortunes”, “wealth” and “riches,” but we’d all stay well-fed and healthy. And we’d judge each based on our contributions, not our money.
Naw, that wouldn’t work. Accomplishing the basics list above will be enough of a shock to our systems. Maybe once things settle out from that, we can re-imagine ways to structure money and commercial exchange.
So keep the faith. The rich and powerful, and those less so can ascribe their successes to a Deity or any other factors. It’s important to know there’s something bigger than us in the world. But the Constitution’s First Amendment says no matter how rich or powerful you are, you can’t impose your faith on or through the U.S. government. “Church” and state must stay separate.
And as the 2020 sun appears to set on partisan and disastrous local, state and national Republican administrations, we can take heart from the prescient George Herbert: “He that trusts in a lie, shall perish in truth.” Let’s get ready to live in reality, as the new era dawns.