To The Daily Sun,
Materialism is an old American theme that has expanded into gross acquisition, a more recent term that attempts to explain and define the huge wealth split in America (i.e., the 1 percent and the 99 percent). Traditional moral and ethical beliefs have given way to a wide-ranging belief in "realism."
Current day realists are not unlike their historic Western American brethren. They are the self-appointed tough individuals who have been trimmed, honed and hardened by life and who know a thing or two about making it (usually money, literally). Among these folks, religion is still an important tonic for the Beta humans, because it is used to keep the electorate in check. I can't help but cite all the born-again Elmer Gantrys that litter government. Just the other day, I read an opinion piece promoting the idea that Mr. Trump was a "gift from God" — and it was meant literally.
There's an old notion that making money was all about passion for an enterprise. With desire and high principles intact, the money follows. These ideas are typically American. Hard work and high ideals equals success. It has been historically held that those who sought merely to acquire financial success would fall on their faces if acquisition was their only guiding light.
Regarding the practice of high principles, pragmatic Americans have always accepted that one can reach for but never actually reach "The Bar." Given inherent human flaws and desires, you would be lucky to touch the bar momentarily. But the American application of this idea is to take the average between two norms.
Consider "human states," governed by what humans want and what they actually do. Secondly, consider "ideal states," governed by high ethical or moral tenets. These two states of the human condition are averaged and tempered to raise society's quality of life – by promoting the idea that citizens must make constant, though many failed, attempts at a higher calling.
The West has matured into a cash-rich enterprise that still runs the rest of the world. It has evolved from a simple garage enterprise through our Colonial phase to our present accounting-centric, supply-sidish enterprise. Make or import stuff and consumers will buy it with adequate marketing effort.
Many of our institutions seem to underscore this belief. Perhaps the best measure of this is our financial institutions. Constant market turmoil is a direct result of instant-gratification style investing. Capital investments are not considered from decades-long planning windows that attempt to match real business and economic developments. Now, these institutional investments are casino-style gambles from the nano-second trading strategies (for those who can afford the technology) to the globally brokered sale of junk mortgages and other dubious securities.
Let's face it. These strategies are not based on anything approaching conservative business principles. They are approached as money for monies' sake. The wedding between capital and the real wealth it represents (i.e., the stability and health of business enterprises and the economies they define) has suffered a horrible divorce.
Ubiquitous research and development divisions have become a lot rarer. Do you see the fossil fuel industries bragging about their developments of new 21st century energy sources? Do you see any interest anywhere for rebuilding the infrastructure needed to support 21st century commerce? Do you see record profits everywhere when the nation scrapes for a living? There's more capital now than there ever has been in the history of mankind.
So what's going on?
Here's what I believe is getting under America's skin. I'll argue that the perception of "The Bar" no longer exists, or, more accurately, the new bar is the object of the Alpha American's new god: acquisition. The Beta humans (the 99 percent) are disgusted with the Alpha's reign over their institutions. And there's the current modern dilemma. Ordinary Americans have always placed implicit trust in their institutions.
Today's headlines underscore a vast disconnect with institutions. We have priests run amok, government that runs on its own internal agendas, a nagging continuation of supply-side attitudes in virtually all major market players, and, financial institutions that have literally turned into "can't lose" casinos.
So, if today's major problems can be boiled down to the loss of simple human ethics — as exemplified and magnified by the existence of the Alpha humans (the 1 percenters) — who or what group among us will resurrect the cornerstone of public institution stability and integrity?
As a starting point, I would simply say look to the current crop of candidates. One of them, though blemished with the pimples, warts and boils of modern politicians, at least has a record of normal temperament and successful legislation efforts. Personally, I'll give those disappearing qualities a lot of weight in this election. The other one has publicly stated he will not concede unless he wins, and, has hinted at violence in the event of his loss.
Yes, he actually said those things out loud.
In my world, poison is far, far worse than business as usual. And the infancy of third-party choices will help resurrect that situation by placing huge pressure on the establishment as we have already seen.
- Category: Letters
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