Capitalism

This is a hard entry to write simply because I am far from an economic theorist. I find economics very challenging and can’t even balance my own check book, much less truly understand huge economic paradigms. What I can say, without any trepidation, is that I hate capitalism.

I have long believed capitalism to be a wicked, nefarious, rotten system. I have long seen it as a system based upon brutality. I have long seen it as a system based on greed and callousness.

Capitalism is defined as “an economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state.” “Private owners for profit” is the key phrase there. And it could not be more obvious that this profit is not equally shared by the masses. It is owned by the 1% and other economic elites.

Like so many others I come from a working-class/lower-class family. My parents have struggled their whole lives economically. I give them all the credit in the world for raising three kids on such a small amount of money and holding on to jobs for decades in order to keep the family going. Despite gaining four degrees, I have not been able to surpass my parents in terms of economics. In fact, I am in worse shape because at least they were able to own their own home. My brother and sister also struggle economically and have not surpassed our parents in terms of income.

This is not a rarity. This is the norm. People, with few exceptions, do not surpass the economic class of their parents. Part of the American mythos is the rags to riches lie, that you can start off with nothing and earn your way into the 1%. This does not happen. Period. This ties in with the other lie called “the American dream.” This states that if you work hard enough you can rise up the economic ladder. The “myth of meritocracy” is a good phrase for describing the reality here. It is a myth that merit will carry you up the economic ladder. As we know, we live in a racist, sexist, heterosexist country [among many others isms]. So being a white, cis, straight male is in itself a kind of currency. Fairness or hard work is not the way it works in the USA. Capitalism is at the base of virtually all forms of oppression. That is not to say it is more important, but that cash play into racism, sexism, etc. in vitally important ways.

Meanwhile, socialism is defined as “a political and economic theory of social organization that advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.” As it stands right now, the community has no power under capitalism. The rich, powerful and elite, including government officials, have all the power. We would have to overthrow capitalism to move into a system of socialism. I wish it could happen tomorrow. But it is going to take a very long time to do so. I do see the beginnings of revolutionary thought through some of the movements that have come forth in the past several years since the beginning of the Occupy movement. I am a socialist and I believe that the means of production should be regulated by the community as a whole. In the personal realm, I know for sure that I am never going to get ahead given the ratio of my debt and my income. Capitalism is a wicked system and it needs to be dismantled so that people can experience true security and true freedom.

 

 

 

Money

I hate money. There in three short words are my feelings about money.

We live in a materialistic society. We are constantly taught from the time we are a baby that money buys happiness. That the more things we have the better. That it is things which satisfy us. That we need to keep up with the Joneses.

I have internalized these messages. But money has mostly been a disaster in my life. This is due to credit cards, student loans and medical debts. The ratio of the amount that I owe to what I make is way, way out of balance. The amount of debt I owe, around 200,000, has been a tremendous cause of stress and anxiety. I believe it has been one of the things that has directly contributed to my strong sense of depression.

Living from paycheck to paycheck is no fun at all. It causes a lot of stress and anxiety when you don’t know whether you are going to even be able to pay your bills or be able to buy enough food.

If you have a “middle-class” profession, you are not supposed to be in such dire straits. But the reality is that I have never been middle-class. I come from a working-class family. I come from a rural environment. I am a first-generation college student. My family has always worked incredibly hard but always struggled with money and finances. I am angry that they have worked so hard but still not been able to move ahead. I am mad that I have gotten so much education and worked so hard and not been able to move ahead.

But this is not some strange exception. We are not supposed to move beyond the class of our origin. It is the norm. Because capitalism does not serve the interests of the masses. It serves the interests of the elite. Capitalism is a system whose very core is complete and total brutality. There is no hope for capitalism. There is no promise of a kinder and gentler capitalism, just as there was no hope for a kinder and gentler conservatism. Capitalism and conservatism are about the theft of money, real estate and resources from the poor and working classes and its flow into the hands of the upper middle classes and the wealthy. I have no hope for capitalism except cosmetic changes like universal health care or better availability of hosing for the poor and working classes. But really we need to get rid of it and replace it with democratic socialism, at the very least.

My “credit rating” is appalling but I am now trying to take it as a badge of honor. Capitalism failed me, and it is unlikely for that to change. This, despite the American Dream, the notion of Meritocracy and the Rags-to-Riches narrative that are all blatant lies except for a choice few. Capitalism is no doubt going to take down the world. There is only so much greed and theft that the world can withstand before there is global catastrophe. I hope for this economic revolution in my lifetime, but I am not so sure how far we will get in the next 50 years given the death grip that the ruling class has over the entire wicked class system.

I feel about capitalism like I feel about gender: it needs to be abolished. If we are ever to have a society based on kindness, equality and opportunity for all, then capitalism needs to go. In the meantime, I have to deal with awful stress that will probably drive me to an early grave due to the constant stress from my medical, student loan and credit card debt.

 

Fantasy

When I made my list of keywords in mid-December 2017, I swiftly forgot the vast bulk of them. “Fantasy” is one of the words I forgot. Now I am going: what was I thinking? What do I have to say about “fantasy”, even if it is only a mere 500 words? The first thing that came to mind for me when I think of “fantasy” is the lottery.

How many people have thought about winning the lottery and precisely how they would spend the money? I have thought about it many times. I told my therapist once about my fantasizing about winning the lottery. She asked me a simple question: “do you play the lottery?” My meek reply: “Well, no…” So my fantasizing about the lottery is fantasy in the truest sense of the word because there is literally zero point zero [0.0] chance of me winning. Be that as it may, lottery-winning is my favorite fantasy.

If I won mega-millions, I would immediately quit my job and I would buy up multiple properties on both costs and in vacation spots in the Caribbean and Europe. I would travel for 1-2 years straight, first-class all the way, eating in the best restaurants and shopping in the most exclusive stores. When I was good and ready, I would start my own foundation to fund the issues that I care about and give myself a job with a dedicated staff. I would switch from the self-involved to the altruistic to use the money to do the most good that I possibly could while staying true to my own values.

In some ways, I am embarrassed to admit that my ultimate fantasy is to win the lottery. Because here’s the thing: I absolutely despise capitalism. I am a socialist and I believe that the very core of capitalism is based in brutality. But I still would not mind winning a huge windfall of CA$H. The reality is that being rich is easier. I hate it when people say that money doesn’t buy happiness. My response: I’d like to find out if that is true for myself, thank you very much! Being working-class and economically challenged, as I am, is stressful, exhausting and depleting. If I didn’t have this constant money anxiety, I could probably accomplish a lot more AND be more content. It seems to me that we can hate the current system while also acknowledging that if we occupy the dominant class position that life is a lot easier.

Fantasy is the act of imagining things, especially things that are impossible or improbable. We all engage in it. It seems to be a basic human activity. Perhaps if we lived in a utopia where everything was perfect we would have no need to fantasize. But we don’t live in such a world, not by a long shot. And so we fantasize to step out of our status quo reality. It makes us feel better. It also makes us imagine what has not been in our lives. I will almost certainly not attain my lottery-winning fantasy and all that goes with it, but I can see some of the things that I want more clearly and see if I can attain even a fraction of them through other means.

On the downside, fantasy can be one of the “opiates of the masses.” Working-class people spend huge amounts of money on the lottery and often invest lots of time in the rags-to-riches fantasy. The reality is that only a small minority of people raise substantially up the economic ladder. The lottery can deter people from becoming woke, from sharpening their working-class consciousness and from participating in social movements. It can function as an opiate by numbing people to the reality of their oppression, by anesthetizing them to the brutal class conditions of vulture capitalism and all the misery that goes with it.

The problem I have with this analysis is that often comes off as victim blaming and inhumane. Before the dawn of the great revolution, people need to do little things to feel better. If buying a lottery ticket does that, or fantasizing about how they would live if they won, I don’t see the harm. In the final tally, fantasizing is neither inherently positive or negative. It is simply a very human activity that we all engage in for fun, for diversion, and for dreaming of possibilities.