Society

Dragons Ate The Middle Class. Time to Fight Back.

A world where billionaires exist next to starving children is the grotesque consequence of a society gone wrong, a society that promotes greed over compassion, and wealth over humanity.

Long ago, we were told that the middle class is what made the West so great. I’ve got some bad news: The middle class is dead. And nobody was kind enough to write the obituary. Here’s my attempt.


A Tale of Three Class Rooms

Mystery Suitcase / Historical Association

Follow me on a short thought experiment, into a land with three rooms.

Room #1 is massive; 1,000,000 people live here.

Room #2 is slightly smaller than the first. Only 1,000 people live here, so each person has much more room.

Lastly, there’s Room #3, which only has one inhabitant. The man who lives there (let’s call him Bill) has the most amount of room of all.

One day, a briefcase lands in each room and determines the wealth of the inhabitants. Each briefcase contains $1,000,000,0000 (one billions dollars) worth of wealth.

Overnight, Bill becomes a BILLIONAIRE. (Like most people who call themselves billionaires, Bill didn’t earn it as he had the luck of being born in Room #3.)

Next, we have Room #2. Each person now has $1,000,000 (one million dollars) and become MILLIONAIRES.

Lastly, we have the people who make everything in society–the WORKERS. They each get $1,000 (one thousand dollars) of wealth.


This unfortunate tale, sadly, is the world we currently live in. There is no more Upper / Middle / Lower classes. There is only the Billionaire / Millionaire / Worker classes.

WORKERS create all of the wealth is this system but only enjoy the bare minimum, the crumbs. The are our plumbers, teachers, assembly line workers, farmers, taxi drivers, and anyone else that makes products and provides services.

The exploitation they experience – the wealth that is taken from them and not shared – is due to the class of ENABLERS who live in between them and the richest people on top. The Millionaire class has become the ENABLERS of this system. They’re politicians, lobbyists, celebrities, landlords, and everyone else who either makes the system, profits from the system, or distracts workers from the reality of the system.

This is our current reality:

  • THE BILLIONAIRES, who sit on top of their wealth like dragons.
  • THE ENABLERS, who control a system that creates billionaires and rewards them with millions.
  • THE WORKERS, who live their lives in debt and work paycheck to paycheck to create wealth for those above.

This is the land called CAPITALISM.

But this land used to have another name. Before, it was a land called FUEDALISM.

Not so long ago, right before the Industrial Revolution, when most people were farmers, we had a similar grouping of people. There was a KING, who hoarded the wealth of his land; ARISTOCRATS, who protected the king and subjugated the people; and PEASANTS, who worked the land.

(1789) This picture shows a peasant carrying a clergy man and a noble. They each respectively represent the Third, First, and Second estates. The First Estate was comprised of clergy men like priests, bishops, cardinals, etc. They are represented by...
It’s time for the rich to get off our backs.

After much work, many lands (not all) were able to replace their kings with democratic systems where rule of law was made equal to all. Unfortunately, wealth has remained in the hands of the powerful. But hopefully not for long.


Reality is Worse Than Fiction

This thought experiment–with silly briefcases and impossible rooms–while not prefect is a pretty fair representative of the reality of the so-called “developed” Western world.

Take, for example, the G7. Seven highly industrialized, democratic nations that rebuilt their societies over the past 75 years, following World War II. Together they have a population just over 750 million. These seven countries have over 900 billionaires, according to Forbes, or about one billionaires per 825,000 people.

The greed leaderboard, or greed-erboard.

Unlike my thought experiment, the world’s billionaires average over $4,000,000,000 in wealth.

On the other hand, the average American worker has to balance $40,000 in savings with $51,900 in debt.

In between these two groups are the enablers who run government, business and the media, and tell us that they system is working great. “Have you seen that the stock market is up today!?!”

What can we (the workers of the world) do about it?

The first thing we must realise is that the REALITY of WEALTH INEQUALITY is much worse than what we think it is, as this video below illustrates. And what we THINK it is, is still not close to what the vast majority of people WANT.


Two Futures

We can either do nothing. Or we can do something.

We can act to make a better future. Often on TV, an enabler of the current system will say that the Left wants to go out and steal your money (through taxes). That socialists want to steal every dollar from those hard working billionaires. But that’s not true.

What I’m advocating is for a new system. We forget about the past, and all those briefcases of cash that wrongly when to the people at the top.

Imagine tomorrow, three new briefcases arrive. Should the wealth be split the same way as the past: creating one or two billionaires, an thousand millionaires, and millions of people with almost nothing? Or should we tear down the walls that divide these rooms, and split the wealth more equally and, more importantly, more democratically?

What if everyone got $3,000?

Every worker would have three times as much wealth, overnight.

But we would lose our one billionaires. (How sad?) Bill could still work and enjoy society but he won’t have a room (i.e. tax haven) filled with gold, sports cars, and yachts, unfortunately.

And what of the Enablers? We would lose them too. For everyone one thousand people, we would lose one enabler. Like the ex-billionaire, each ex-enabler can still work (except lobbyists and propagandists, who would need to find new jobs) and enjoy the society they supposedly love. They should welcome the peace and (shared) prosperity that this new world provides.

Or, we could do nothing.

Tomorrow, more briefcases arrive. And the enablers decide where they go, replicating the Inequality of the past.

We need to decide if we want the ENABLERS to keep hoarding OUR wealth, or if we’ll continue to let them sit on it while we suffer.


Final Thoughts

Inequality was made worse in 2020, thanks to COVID-19. During this year of pandemic, the Billionaire class has seen their wealth rise by more than $10,000,000,000,000 (ten trillion dollars), while tens of millions of workers are now unemployed and we’ll soon record more than 2,000,000 deaths worldwide from COVID-19.

Post image

However, even before COVID, the Enabler class was making things worse. Rather than creating societies where health systems are funded adequately, political enablers have passed tax cuts for the rich. These Enablers and their Billionaire donors have created a system where corporate profits are up, but taxes are down. Tax cuts for the rich don’t help workers. And underfunding health care doesn’t allow pandemics to be overcome.

Additionally, I think this thought experiment for wealth inequality holds try for the Global South as well as for wealthy nations. Low-income countries might not have many billionaires, but they definitely have many multi-millionaires, who live lives of luxury. And those multi-millionaires are enabled by the same people in government, business and media, who live next to people in extreme poverty. Millions of people around the world live in extreme poverty, with barely enough to feed themselves.

The scale might be different between high- and low-income countries, but the inequality is just as bad. Enablers living lives a thousand times better than people at the bottom, and enabling people at the top to have lives a thousand time better then themselves.

We need to end this system. Today.

No more billionaires. No more enablers of poverty.

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Society

The Pitiful

I feel pity for the hateful. How sad must your life be to derive satisfaction from hating other people.

UX design and empathy: are we doing it right? | by Elizabeth Alli | UX  Collective

How pathetic must your god be to hide behind him when you hate homosexuals?

How little self-worth must you have to not be able to agree that black lives matter, unconditionally?

How heart-breaking must it be to be in a relationship with someone who see your gender as less than theirs? And then agree with their evaluation of your worthlessness!

As someone who tries to empathise with (or at least understand) the plight of others, I am starting to feel sad for those tortured souls who hate everything that they are not:

  • The whites who hate people of colour.
  • The straights (and closeted gays) who are homophobic.
  • The misogynistic men and women who are afraid to see women’s equality.
  • And new to 2020, the anti-maskers who won’t listen to public health concerns.

In recent years, videos abound of conservatives filled with rage spewing hateful words (and sometimes premeditated violence) on people who aren’t straight white men and overt Christians.

Spitting-mad Trump supporters are not going away - Macleans.ca
What 2020 looked like.

I truly believe the first emotion we need to feel for these people is PITY. We should pity their inability to feel compassion to their neighbours and become most Christlike. We should pity their inability to love their own children who come out of the closet; they will ultimately regret their homophobia but internalize it. We should pity their fear of a woman or person of colour rising to any position of power.

How do we solve this problem? How do we make our fellow humans whole?

First, and foremost, by showing love to our fellow (broken) humans. We can’t solve hate through our own hate. We must show compassion.

We then need to listen to one another. I believe that all the hate felt by poor whites has more to do with their ‘poor-ness’ than their ‘white-ness’. The ruling class does not want the majority–white and black, men and women, straight and gay–to solve poverty in all it’s forms: economic poverty, housing poverty, healthcare poverty, educational poverty, etc. The ruling class want to divide and conquer; they have been doing an amazing job so far.

This isn’t about ‘identity politics’. It’s about power, especially economic and political power. Elites–politicians, capitalists–distract people by making issues about identity, so that we don’t see when they have their hands in our pockets. They want us to fight each other, so that we don’t fight together against THEM. Together, we are the most powerful thing there is and we can do anything. Apart, we will never reach our potential.

We must fight together, all people, towards liberty and justice for all.

LOCASH - “DARKNESS cannot drive out DARKNESS; only LIGHT... | Facebook

Solidarity forever.

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Podcasts, Society

Podcast Picks 2018

Another year of great podcasts!

Below are a dozen new podcasts I’ve enjoyed in 2018, split equally into three common themes. Some podcasts have an open-ended structure, while others take on a single issue. I found that each podcast helped me to understand our complex world a bit better.

For more suggestions, check out my podcasts lists for 2016 and 2017.

Power Corrupts

These four podcasts show how corruption across political, economic and cultural spheres of society and, mostly, in the hands of powerful men can have tremendously bad outcomes for the rest of us.

  • Swindled from “A Concerned Citizen”
    • A true-crime podcast (and my favourite of the year) about white-collar criminals, con artists, and corporate evil. Dow Chemical, McDonald’s and Nestlé each have their part to play. From costly to deadly, Swindled puts these culprits on notice.
  • Bikram from Julia Lowrie Henderson of ESPN’s 30 for 30 Podcasts
    • This five-part series explores Bikram Choudhury’s fitness revolution, how it brought a yoga boom to America and how his guru status enabled increasingly dark behavior. No one should have all that power!
  • Slow Burn from Leon Neyfakh of Slate
    • A historic podcast that focuses on the neglected aspects of well known events. Nobody knew how Watergate was going to end. The first season of Slow Burn tells the story of what it felt like to watch a president fall.
  • Trump, Inc. from WNYC and ProPublica
    • Who’s profiting from the Trump administration and at what cost? This is the question at the heart of this ongoing investigative series, which looks at Trump’s business connections and the grey areas that his family deals in.

 

(Y)our Fanatics

These four podcasts—each a single series—look at two aspects of religious extremists: Middle Eastern and American. Together, they make us question the propaganda receive and the framing of Us vs Them.

  • Caliphate from Rukmini Callimachi of The New York Times
    • From recruiting fighters to paying the bills to when the fighting stops, each of the ten episodes helps explain the rise of the Islamic State and the challenges that lay ahead for the fighters coming from around the globe. Stunning investigative journalism!
  • The Assassination from Owen Bennett Jones of the BBC
    • A ten-part investigation into the death of Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. This series asks: what role did Pakistan’s government and intelligence service have in Bhutto’s death at the hand of a suicide bomber?
  • Bundyville from Leah Sottile of Oregon Public Broadcasting
    • A seven-part series chronicling the rise, fall and resurgence of the Bundy family, who took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon in 2016 to assert their belief that the federal government shouldn’t control any land, undergirded by radical Mormon mythology.
  • Standoff from Ruth Graham of Slate
    • Graham explores the tragedy of Ruby Ridge—when hundreds of armed federal agents surrounded a family of white separatists in 1992, leaving three people dead—that’s become a foundational myth for the modern right, and finds some frightening lessons about power and paranoia.

 

Regular Reflections

These final four podcasts try to understand modern society and current events by examining how we got us to this point.

  • Deconstructed with Mehdi Hasan of The Intercept
    • Hasan unpacks the most consequential news event of the week, while challenging the mainstream media’s tired takes. Focusing largely on American and global politics, Hasan challenges narratives from both the Left and the Right.
  • Anthropocene Reviewed with Josh Green from WNYC Studios
    • Eleven episodes and counting! Each month, Green rates two facets of the human-centered planet on a five-star scale. Cholera rates low (★) while Halley’s Comet rates high (★★★★★). Canada Geese are a bit more complicated and rate somewhere in between.
  • The Foreign Desk with ​Andrew Mueller of Monocle 24
    • The Foreign Desk is a global-affairs show, featuring​ guests ​and in-depth analysis of the big issues of the week, such as the ongoing war in Yemen and the recent election in Brazil. Their 5-minute Explainers are also a great way to get caught up on global news.
  • Alberta Advantage
    • Finally, something closer to home—a podcast about the past and present situation in Alberta, Canada. From Alberta’s farms to its big cities, Alberta Advantage provides commentary and analysis on local and provincial politics from a left perspective.
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Self, Society

My Political, Economic and Religious Self-Education

“The general population doesn’t know what’s happening. And it doesn’t even know that it doesn’t know.” -Noam Chomsky


Unknown Unknowns

My politicization began roughly a decade ago and has steadily developed since then. When I moved from rural Alberta to Edmonton, I knew little to nothing about the world and how it operated. I didn’t have a political affiliation and was clueless about the fundamental differences between the Conservative and Liberal parties, whether federal or provincial. To complicate the matter, Canadian politics consists of three levels of jurisdiction: Continue reading

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Documentaries, Self, Society

Who’s Infringing Upon Men’s Rights?

My target audience for this blog post is men. I share my thoughts and questions so that other men can question their role in society and how to create a better world. For far too long, women have spoken out. It’s time for men to listen and act.

As a white man, I live a privileged life. I grew up without the fear of being persecuted for my gender or race. Society in Western counties (such as Canada, where I’m from) is shaped around white supremacy and male supremacy.

If you look at the people in power–politicians, judges, religious leaders, CEOs–you find that they are almost exclusively white and male. They look like me more than they look like you (if you’re a gender other than male and/or a person of color). Why is this? Continue reading

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