Government legalizes financial cage-fighting in a free market pit where anything goes; the winners prefer no rules in a knife fight, & pay off refs to that end.
By Robert Simmons
(Followed by six steps to help correct the problem)
You stand looking down at a trail of ants. From your point of view, the ants all look the same. They are all equally vulnerable and powerless compared to you. You are, from their perspective, a God compared to them. What kind of God would you be? If you believe life to be a gift, and precious, you would most certainly step around the ants, wishing no harm to any of them. In this way, you would have treated each of them as equally important, simply because you value life.
If you were one of those angry Gods, however, who believe that the purpose of giving life is merely to take it away, meanwhile inflicting as much conscious suffering as possible prior to doing so, you would probably begin stomping away, proving, at least in your mind, that some are inherently superior, namely you, and some are born inferior, clearly them.
No matter how fast your feet may be, some ants are bound to veer correctly, avoid the carnage, and escape. To your mind, would you see these surviving ants as superior to the others, or would you simply see them as being “lucky”? If you believed them to be lucky, would you at least concede that you, too, were lucky, not to be them?
The least thinking among us would likely give no thought to the ants at all, perhaps accidentally crushing them on the way to our cars, perhaps intentionally crushing them if they made the mistake of getting in our way somehow, like when they break and enter into our kitchens. To those of us in this category, perhaps a few moments of reflection would be prudent, so when the fighting starts, and the lines are drawn, you would at least know which side you were on.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…National Archives
It is disheartening that, 250 years later, we still have not adequately defined equality, or in what way people are equal to each other. Declaring that all of us were “created equal” simply implied that we were all equal in God’s eyes, but pragmatically speaking, government cannot afford not to see people as equal, otherwise it would at some point surely fail in its job to secure every citizen’s rights, and as Thomas Jefferson clearly noted,
…whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government…as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness…National Archives
It is also disappointing that, 250 years later, we still have not clearly defined our Right to Life, either.
Rights are fundamental rules about what is allowed of people or owed to people, according to legal principle, social convention, or ethical theory. Because rules set a standard of behavior, it is implied that this level of behavior is by no means guaranteed (or why would we need to impose a “rule”?). Thus, governments must also be in charge of enforcing these standards of behavior.
As Thomas Hobbes bluntly pointed out, if we didn’t have any rules,
the life of man [would be] solitary, poor, easy, brutish and short.Wikipedia
This is why, upon this “brutish” foundation of human existence, We the People finally constructed a ceiling, which represented the highest level of our thinking at that time. Understand, while the ceiling was made higher, the floor was still quite low; in reality, only rich white property-owning males were actually entitled to these newly proposed “unalienable rights”. They enjoyed a certain standard of living, while the rest of us received a Right to Life, whatever that means. Even today, our lives can be taken from us at any moment, in all manner of ways, sometimes by government itself, in the form of War, police shootings, or capital punishment, and sometimes by other American institutions, like healthcare, with whom we have entrusted our lives.
This original floor has slowly been raised throughout the centuries, and now we find that our heads occasionally bump against the 250-year ceiling; We the People are not free to stand as tall as we would like; the space around our liberty and happiness feels somewhat cramped. Ceilings, as we know, can also make excellent floors, with the proper support. It may be time to move upstairs, where ours views are no longer obscured, and where a new ceiling can be raised. But first, we need to support this new floor, so that it never collapses from underneath us.
Because our current profit-based economic arrangement is designed to separate us into varying levels of financial superiority or inferiority, government has its hands full trying to maintain the illusion of fairness, in order to keep the peace. Fairness, if one thinks about it, is actually what people would prefer. Equality is, in truth, only something we think about once we have been treated unfairly, and even then, only as an argument we might make to whoever is in charge of enforcing fairness. This is where government, in its role as referee, would need to implement “equality” when deciding how to rule in the matter.
Now (finally) we can begin to suss out the meaning of our original question, which was whether the few should be able to own the rights to every one else’s rights. What we discover is this: economics ultimately infringes on our rights because we have not properly defined our rights, otherwise we would realize that Life refers to our Quality of Life, which is maintained through very specific Essential Needs that have been ignorantly given over to the free market, and thus not secured for all people. People need food and shelter, and unless they are “born” into privileged circumstances, they can only secure these items through employment, which requires an education. “Public” education only appears capable of securing minimum wage employment (or unemployment with welfare benefits attached).
Admittedly, people do have an awful time controlling their consuming impulses (which the free market greatly appreciates), and this without a doubt lowers health outcomes. Still, it is clear that the free market, through seeking maximum profits, raises many of its healthcare prices, not because there is a shortage of these items, but simply because they are “in demand”. Limited supply is often merely an excuse to raise everything from the price of housing and education, to communication and even transportation. Even things like energy or food bills, which seem reasonably priced, only appear this way because they are propped up by government subsidies.
In this way, our economics not only infringes on our rights to life, liberty and happiness, it actually owns them, and will only hand them over on their (financial) terms. This unfairness creates inequality, from a government’s point of view, and the strain is made manifest in the higher and higher cost of government, which cannot support this floor of existence at an acceptable level without an impossible amount of funding, so much so that we must go into personal, state and national debt in order to maintain the illusionwe have any actual rights.
It is ironic that people blame government for all the unfairness that economics creates, but government is the referee in this game, and once we put a referee in charge of maintaining fairness, invariably we will point our anger toward him, boo him, say awful things about his mother, etc. This is the life of a referee, once they choose to wear that striped shirt.
We should note, however, that while we cannot really affect the outcome of a sports contest (thus we blame the ref), we do have recourse when it comes to government.
…it is the Right of the People to alter…Government…as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness…National Archives
Complaining about government confirms our feelings of powerlessness over it when trying to affect any significant change in our outcomes. This should be a warning to us that our Democracy is not working properly.
Perhaps what is lacking is the proper leadership. Here are six steps “proper leadership” would want to take in order to help us move forward:
- Silence all other arguments by deciding first: do we wish to go forward, as a species, toward a better standard of living / quality of life, or continue to engender a more brutish existence. Because of the human desire for fairness, it is not a wise option for the few to leave the many behind. If we decide to push forward, we will need to create the means for every one to do so together.
- Redefine Equality to mean Fairness, which helps us then define our Right to Life as a standard of living, or Quality of Life, that assures a floor of existence acceptable to secure liberty and happiness in this more technically (if not emotionally) advanced society.
- Define this standard of living in terms of the components essential to existence in our current economic arrangement: Education, to guarantee employment, to afford food, water, shelter, electricity, communication, transportation, healthcare, retirement benefits, et al.
- Continue to make clear that “with rights come responsibilities”, meaning, in essence, that nothing is given for free. The above essential needs represent goods and services that we must, in the end, provide to ourselves, through regular employment.
- Let Government manage the ability for the mass of people to procure these essential needs through work in their communities, and leave the rest of the economy alone. In this way, ambitious people may rise financially higher, but never at the expense of denying the rest of us our right to housing and healthcare and all other essential needs.
- Finally, in our new age of technology, let’s make voting on things easier to do, within our communities, our states, and even our nation; let’s make it both accessible and mandatory. An engaged citizenry would be more responsible, accountable, and informed; all important ingredients that are necessary in a healthy Democracy.
For the best way to procure all our essential needs while creating a large retirement dividend in the process, check out the proposal being offered by The Third Option, and help bring about this change by signing their petition.