From a TED Conversation
Question: Should we view wealth hoarding as dysfunctional as any other form of hoarding?
Wealth hoarding may be a “dysfunction” but it frequently is also a crime and America could be better served by severely punishing the “white collar crimes” and “legal” manipulations of law and court that make it possible.
Ask Bernie Madoff’s many victims, some wealth hoarders themselves, who patted themselves on the back for finding a great way to profit without earning anything. You’ll find they are far less pitiable and worthy of having our justice system fight for the return of their lost money than the many thousands of employees whose earned pensions have been “legally” ripped away from them in leveraged buyouts, used to enrich by stripping away other people’s money.
Ask the thousands whose health insurance has been abruptly canceled so that corporate raiders could throw million dollar parties with money that should have paid their insurance premiums.
Our current bankruptcy system so favors business over people that nojobs, pensions or other earned benefits are safe. We have a time-honored diagnosis for self-aggrandizing personalities: Narcissism. Let’s not give any further excuse to money hoarders than that.
The Student Loan Debacle
We’re messed up, but we’re on a financial pendulum shifting back and forth between the good of people and unearned profits for business. Right now it’s cranked all the way over to give banks and schools every benefit versus students. A brief history of the student loan debacle:
1) Banks got the Fed to insure all student loans.
2) Banks got deregulated so they could loan more to lousy schools and students who might never finish or repay loans. (And home buyers who were never able to repay mortgages). Schools that were flooded with loaned up students raised tuitions. (Home prices skyrocketed)
3) Bush got the bankruptcy law changed so student loans could never be voided. This should have taken a constitutional amendment, but no one’s challenged it that I know of.
(Bankruptcy is a constitutional right and also in the Bible, but most people don’t know the student loan restrictions are anti-biblical and anti-constitutional. And pro-business = anti-person here.)
4) Great and lousy schools pushed more students into higher debt, driving tuition ever higher.
5) Students became poverty-stricken forever.
This piecemeal revamp of the student loan programs didn’t raise any pirate flags that would surely have flown high if all these changes took place at once.
Student loans should again be voidable in bankruptcy, and students whose educations were substandard should be able to sue shareholders, officers and directors of their schools, which shouldn’t be able to declare bankruptcy to avoid liability. That’s a pendulum swing I’d like to see.
How Self-Interest Harms Society
Don’t you think our society still supports the interest of the group? We do still have schools, rules of the road, free emergency care for the poor — although Tea Partiers want a new order that seems only to value self-interest and competition in certain areas. They do not want to compete for votes.
Even Gerrymandering is a group and not a self-interest, but the group is using it to manipulate other citizens for the benefit of that limited group.
People are fighting for societal benefits, such as Obamacare and Social Security, which we all agreed to pay for so we could later benefit from them, but since that’s where the easy money is for raiders, they’re being targeted. Like leveraged buy-outs being legally permitted to steal people’s earned pensions and worked and contracted for health insurance.
Unfortunately the self-interested are very loud and stupid right now, and cannot see that gutting the social contracts we have fought for for generations would impoverish American business and destroy our safety nets, thereby destroying our real safety.
Creating a whole generation of desperate poor is a very dangerous thing, but there are a lot of childish and ill-educated Congressional boobs who have been allowed to control things they don’t understand.
Anyway, people in general know that self-interest quickly destroys social cohesion and then everything heads towards chaos.
We have systematically allowed competition to dry up in business. There are only two real operating systems for computers, for example. And only a few airlines, a few oil companies, a few huge pharmaceutical giants, and the rules limiting media ownership have been trashed.
What are we going to do about it?
Women Cultural Leaders
Women, especially mothers, lead most cultures in myriad ways.
Many cultures have very different systems of self-government than despotism or rule by one “man,” such as Native American tribes, where there are leaders in different areas and counsels of elders.
Women control the camps, including deciding when and where camps will be moved or placed. They also eject males who are disruptive or dangerous to children or abusive to others and provide medical care, among other things.
One man or more might be followed as chief for war or raiding, another for inter- tribal relations. There are usually tribal elders, men and women who are old enough to have the wisdom and experience to make tribal rules and decisions. This extremely simplified bit of info on tribal governance includes many cultures on the two American continents and worked well for thousands of years.
Both men and women may be spiritual leaders and teachers. Someone who is good at making weapons or baskets will be the leader with regard to those activities if people want to follow them. Counsels of elders are extremely common.
I wonder if there are subtle genetic differences between geographic regions that are reflected in governance. Like the difference between bonobos and chimpanzees.
Photo credits: from paintings by Spring Bright