Class Warfare Blog

February 7, 2019

Finding Meaning in Life

Many theists argue that without their god(s) life would have no meaning. This, of course, belies the efforts of many to establish their bona fides in their lives for themselves.

The current era of plutocracy in the U.S. shows the wealthy over and over acting upon the belief that they are rich for a reason, that their wealth makes them worthy, worthy of providing guidance (by funding philanthropic endeavors … of their choice, of course), and in funding political movements, e.g. the Koch brothers, because they know what is best for us.

All of these efforts bring to mind a quotation from a giant of social commentary: “The fortunate man is seldom satisfied with the fact of being fortunate. Beyond this, he needs to know that he has a right to his good fortune. He wants to be convinced that he ‘deserves’ it, and above all, that he deserves it in comparison with others … good fortune thus wants to be legitimate fortune.” (Max Weber, 1915)

In this I am reminded that for those “fortunate” enough to make over one billion dollars per year (there have been as many as over a dozen in recent years) that making a billion dollars of income in one year equates to making $532,000 per hour for every working hour of the year. This means one of these “worthies” made more in one afternoon than I did in almost 40 years as a college professor. I do not think of this as compensated labor as no one’s labor is worth that much. The only way one can “make” such an income is by scamming the system. If we need a name, we could call it “legitimized theft.”

So, if the theists are right and the meaning of our lives is granted by their god, why are these plutocrats scurrying around “cementing their legacies” or “managing their brand” or all of the myriad things they are doing to legitimize their wealth? These legitimized businessmen all claim that capitalism is based upon competition, but have acted to reduce the amount of competition in their area of business like beavers (think Bill Gates and all of his European monopoly law suits). I guess saying one thing while doing the opposite comes easy to those “of wealth” which is what they seem to have in common with the theists who support them.

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39 Comments »

  1. Polls say now that over sixty per cent of US public believe that top marginal taxes should be raised on the super rich. We have done that before and it has reduced inequality without slowing growth.
    Our system relies on congress to control excesses in the economy . People have to be informed on who they should vote for.

    Humans have a great capacity to justify things that they do. Other people need to speak up.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by OG — February 7, 2019 @ 11:50 am | Reply

    • Unfortunately we keep changing the rules in favor of the wealthy being able to purchase the votes they desire.

      On Thu, Feb 7, 2019 at 11:50 AM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Steve Ruis — February 7, 2019 @ 12:13 pm | Reply

  2. And the beat goes on … the rich get richer, the poor get poorer.

    Like

    Comment by Nan — February 7, 2019 @ 11:57 am | Reply

  3. Nan, Let me know if this didn’t work. Steve

    On Thu, Feb 7, 2019 at 11:58 AM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Steve Ruis — February 7, 2019 @ 12:15 pm | Reply

  4. Spot on post! Tax the rich! (‘Cept they’ll never allow it).

    Like

    Comment by inspiredbythedivine1 — February 7, 2019 @ 12:18 pm | Reply

  5. “So, if the theists are right and the meaning of our lives is granted by their god, why are these plutocrats scurrying around “cementing their legacies” or “managing their brand” or all of the myriad things they are doing to legitimize their wealth?”

    Life’s meaning is not directly correlated to the amount of wealth we possess. The fact that you made less than $532,000 an hour as a college professor doesn’t make your work less meaningful. Of course, you are the one who ultimately decides what matters. If you believe your life is less meaningful than a billionaire’s – that’s your call.

    Like

    Comment by John Branyan — February 7, 2019 @ 12:29 pm | Reply

  6. Steve, I’ve just started Anand Giridharadas’ newest book “Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World.” You echo some of his exact points. I caught him one evening on PBS’s Amanpour & Company so I got the book; I HAD to get his book:

    http://www.pbs.org/wnet/amanpour-and-company/video/anand-giridharadas/

    This is from Amazon.com’s book description, if I may. I think it very important to furtherr corroborate your post here: 🙂

    An insider’s groundbreaking investigation of how the global elite’s efforts to “change the world” preserve the status quo and obscure their role in causing the problems they later seek to solve.

    Former New York Times columnist Anand Giridharadas takes us into the inner sanctums of a new gilded age, where the rich and powerful fight for equality and justice any way they can–except ways that threaten the social order and their position atop it. We see how they rebrand themselves as saviors of the poor; how they lavishly reward “thought leaders” who redefine “change” in winner-friendly ways; and how they constantly seek to do more good, but never less harm. We hear the limousine confessions of a celebrated foundation boss; witness an American president hem and haw about his plutocratic benefactors; and attend a cruise-ship conference where entrepreneurs celebrate their own self-interested magnanimity.

    Giridharadas asks hard questions: Why, for example, should our gravest problems be solved by the unelected upper crust instead of the public institutions it erodes by lobbying and dodging taxes? He also points toward an answer: Rather than rely on scraps from the winners, we must take on the grueling democratic work of building more robust, egalitarian institutions and truly changing the world. A call to action for elites and everyday citizens alike.

    Like

    Comment by Professor Taboo — February 7, 2019 @ 12:46 pm | Reply

    • Then also it’s worth noting too WHO and where the world’s wealth really exists, and hence where the torch must be lit (in the U.S.) and shared (by the rest of other billionaires) for the greater good beyond family and one’s descendants.

      And yet, notice where most of the planet’s resources are consumed:

      In a nation that only makes up what(?)… 6% – 9% of the world population!? Is that not WAY OUTTA WHACK or what?

      Like

      Comment by Professor Taboo — February 7, 2019 @ 12:53 pm | Reply

      • I am reminded of the Body Mass Index standards. They are set at a value of BMI>25 being Overweight and BMI>30 being Obese. The data, however, show that there are no significant health consequences until you get to BMI>40. So, why the low standards? The US wanted to be aligned with the international standards and the international standards were set in a process funded by … wait for it … a pharmaceutical company that had drugs in the field. Greed is shaping how we are expected to feel about ourselves.

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by Steve Ruis — February 7, 2019 @ 1:42 pm | Reply

        • Wow. Just how acutely poignant is that? (shakes head in disgust & disappointment… again)

          Like

          Comment by Professor Taboo — February 7, 2019 @ 1:45 pm | Reply

          • My level of disgust at the greed involved (and lack of honesty and integrity) seems like it can go no higher … and then it does.

            Liked by 1 person

            Comment by Steve Ruis — February 8, 2019 @ 9:03 am | Reply

    • Just ordered a sample of the book from Kindle. Have as the next book up read.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by OG — February 7, 2019 @ 1:14 pm | Reply

  7. Fyi Steve, I have another of my comments in your Spam/Moderation folder due to it having 2 hyperlinks embedded. If you wouldn’t mind releasing it Sir, I would appreciate it. 🙂

    Like

    Comment by Professor Taboo — February 7, 2019 @ 12:55 pm | Reply

  8. I bought this book but haven’t started it yet.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Steve Ruis — February 7, 2019 @ 1:23 pm | Reply

  9. I’ve said it before: Opulence is theft. Every dollar hoarded by a wealthy baron is a dollar not in circulation, not repairing infrastructure, not paying for healthcare, not lifting the poor out of poverty, not combating climate change. Once you have enough to live comfortably, there should be a limit, a hard limit on further accumulation of wealth.

    As for meaning in life: as a lifelong atheist, I’m reasonably certain there’s no inherent meaning to my life. But I’d rather find things to do that are meaningful to *me* and meaningful to others, than simply end it all and return to oblivion.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Anderson Connors — February 10, 2019 @ 11:09 am | Reply

    • Couldn’t agree more.

      On Sun, Feb 10, 2019 at 11:09 AM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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      Comment by Steve Ruis — February 10, 2019 @ 11:54 am | Reply

    • Who decides how much you should have to “live comfortably”? How do we prevent further accumulation of wealth beyond that comfort level existence?

      And if there’s no inherent meaning in life, why should I spend a moment thinking about wealthy baron’s and their money?

      Like

      Comment by John Branyan — February 16, 2019 @ 2:53 pm | Reply

      • Well, if those wealthy barons are using their wealth to buy favors from politicians so they can poison the air, land, and water in your neighborhood, I think there is sufficient reason to pay attention.

        As to “who decides” it is always the same who decide. In our system there are supposed to be elected representatives but they seem to be willing to betray the people who voted for them at the drop of a hat, so our system is flawed and needs some fixing.

        On Sat, Feb 16, 2019 at 2:53 PM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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        Comment by Steve Ruis — February 16, 2019 @ 3:32 pm | Reply

        • You comfortable letting elected officials set limits on how much money you can make?

          Like

          Comment by John Branyan — February 16, 2019 @ 3:43 pm | Reply

          • That is not what is being done. The officials now set a marginal tax rate for federal taxes, for example. When the highest marginal tax rate was between 70& and 96% it discouraged excessive wealth creation but did not limit how much money could be made. Those are *income *tax and not all wealth creation involves income.

            On Sat, Feb 16, 2019 at 3:43 PM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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            Comment by Steve Ruis — February 17, 2019 @ 11:12 am | Reply

            • Do you have more than you need to be comfortable?

              Like

              Comment by John Branyan — February 17, 2019 @ 5:11 pm | Reply

              • Ah, good question. All I would need to be physically comfortable would be a hammock and a place to hang it. But then, I need food and … and … so I assume you are referring to “comfortable” across all of the categories we might state.

                I have enough to be comfortable, I “make” a bit more than the national average income due to my pension from being a teacher for almost 40 years. It suffices, although if I had more money, I would do more things. I do not need to do those things, they are more of a want. I do wonder about people who want more money than they are capable of spending to support themselves and their kin. Piling up billions has no virtue associated with it. The fact that these people then end up “giving away” much of what they earned, with strings attached, says more about their egos than their generosity.

                On Sun, Feb 17, 2019 at 5:11 PM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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                Comment by Steve Ruis — February 18, 2019 @ 8:56 am | Reply

                • If you’re comfortable, why are you fixated on how much money other people possess? Jealousy and envy will rob you of contentment. It’s impossible to enjoy your hammock when your consumed by a smoldering resentment for the guy who owns an island.

                  Like

                  Comment by John Branyan — February 18, 2019 @ 9:03 am | Reply

                  • Jealousy? WTF? I see my fellow citizens being turned into serfs by the plutocrats, denied basic services other countries provide as a matter of course, and I am supposed to kick back and say “I’ve got it made?”

                    I am not at all jealous of the plutocrats, I just want them to stop per se.

                    On Mon, Feb 18, 2019 at 9:03 AM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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                    Liked by 1 person

                    Comment by Steve Ruis — February 18, 2019 @ 11:32 am | Reply

                    • Serfs? WTF? I’ve not seen any of my fellow citizens wallowing destitution. You should tell the peasants you know to move to my town. Everyone has it made here! We have restaurants, grocery stores, gas stations and movie theaters despite the fact that billionaires walk among us.

                      Like

                      Comment by John Branyan — February 18, 2019 @ 12:02 pm

                    • You haven’t noticed that middle class wages and incomes have been static for the last 40 years? You haven’t noticed the cascade of people falling out of the middle class? What kind of private enclosure do you live in?

                      On Mon, Feb 18, 2019 at 12:03 PM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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                      Comment by Steve Ruis — February 18, 2019 @ 1:16 pm

                    • You haven’t noticed that the cascade of people falling from the middle class is offset by the number of people rising from poverty? You haven’t noticed that the accumulation of wealth is not a zero sum equation?

                      You’re the one who is seeing your fellow citizens becoming serfs. If you have any compassion at all, you’ll encourage them to move away from your private enclosure to literally anyplace else in the country. There are no serfs where I live.

                      Like

                      Comment by John Branyan — February 18, 2019 @ 2:01 pm

                    • The accumulation of wealth doesn’t have to be a zero-sum game, but there are a lot of plutocrats acting as if it were. By avoiding taxes, they are pushing taxation more and more onto other people. The earned interest tax category is one of those. By changing the laws to favor themselves, they distort the system a great deal. Look up the oil depletion allowance for instance. It made some sense in 1919, but no sense whatsoever in 2019. Every attempt to abolish this giveaway to the wealthy has been met by a flurry of lobbyists and has failed. By suppressing wages people are more and more dependent upon their employers. because of employer provided health care, rather than universal health care, people do not have much freedom to change jobs. This list is very, very long.

                      On Mon, Feb 18, 2019 at 2:01 PM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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                      Comment by Steve Ruis — February 18, 2019 @ 3:36 pm

                    • And you believe elected officials should legislate the accumulation of wealth so that nobody has more than anyone else? Do I understand you correctly?

                      Like

                      Comment by John Branyan — February 18, 2019 @ 3:42 pm

                    • No, you do not. You seem to be willfully misunderstanding. No one is saying that everyone should have the same wealth or the same income. It is just when a small minority game the system to collect a share of the countries wealth well beyond what they can spend, we all suffer. The rich should be rich, but should not change the rules so that they can be richer than all reason.

                      On Mon, Feb 18, 2019 at 3:42 PM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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                      Comment by Steve Ruis — February 18, 2019 @ 5:19 pm

                    • “No, you do not. You seem to be willfully misunderstanding.”
                      I assure you my misunderstanding is not a matter of will. You advocated for elected officials controlling the amount of wealth we’re able to amass.

                      “It is just when a small minority game the system to collect a share of the countries wealth well beyond what they can spend, we all suffer.”

                      No we all don’t suffer. You already admitted that you’re comfortable. The existence of billionaires isn’t causing you any harm. It’s not a zero sum equation. There are still trillions of dollars available to you. You’re allowed to make more money than you can spend. The government will be more than happy to take the excess from you.

                      If it isn’t jealousy and envy, what’s causing your obsession with other people “having more than they can spend”?

                      Like

                      Comment by John Branyan — February 18, 2019 @ 5:36 pm

  10. An operative phrase that applies to the wealthy, and to the rest of us as well, is the line that Kansas guitarist Kerry Livgren found in a book of Native American poetry: “For all we are is dust in the wind; another phrase that’s applicable to the delusions of the wealthy (yes, and the rest of us as well) was penned by Gracie Slick and Paul Kantner in “Eskimo Blue Day”…”the human dream don’t mean shit to a tree. Egad, I do love the Sixties!

    Like

    Comment by Jeff Lee Byrem — February 10, 2019 @ 11:09 am | Reply

    • Me, too! Loved them when I lived through them (HS and college years) and still do.

      Like

      Comment by Steve Ruis — February 26, 2019 @ 7:31 am | Reply

  11. From an economic standpoint, the wealthy provide more value than others, thus they get paid more. Bill Gates provided software (Windows) that enabled millions to easily use personal computers.

    I do believe the rich “game” the system because they can afford to pay lawyers and accountants to help them pay less taxes, but that’s just human nature. If someone who made $30,000 was told of a way to structure their income so they paid no taxes, I am sure they would listen.

    Like

    Comment by desmondd808 — March 3, 2019 @ 5:22 pm | Reply

    • Bill Gates also used bully tactics to make sure that superior software didn’t replace his. And he overcharged for decades because he was the only game in town. I also don’t think hedge fund managers supply more value than brain surgeons, do you?

      Like

      Comment by Steve Ruis — March 4, 2019 @ 10:41 am | Reply

  12. The market thinks hedge fund managers supply more value. It’s as simple as that.

    Like

    Comment by desmondd808 — March 24, 2019 @ 4:05 pm | Reply

    • First of all “the market” doesn’t think and there are plenty of people making money off of the hedgies–those are the people saying nice things about them. But they basically are glorified insurance salesmen and the skills needed for the job are not as rare as say brain surgeon, or heart transplant surgeon, yet they are paid thousands of times more. They have props on Wall Street because, like others of their ilk they have figured out how to squeeze exorbitant fees out of their niche, yet they contribute very little to the overall economy.

      On Sun, Mar 24, 2019 at 4:05 PM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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      Like

      Comment by Steve Ruis — March 25, 2019 @ 1:47 pm | Reply


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