“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.'”
Dr. King was a great soul in a meager body. The latter of these quotes is one of my favorites. I usually have to repeat it to myself when working to remind me that job (or salary) does not equate character or wisdom. I am one who usually chooses to take the self-effacing pie and return to the corner, but sometimes things just build up inside of me too great to keep under wraps.
The 13th Amendment outlawed slavery and involuntary servitude in the United States. Which not only meant that the barons of production (birthers of the corporate world and its bureaucracy) could no longer go to other countries and buy or trick people into working for them for their passage to a free new world, and they could also no longer own the progeny those servants produced. People forget about all the other slaves that were freed from this amendment. There were many Irish and Chinese slaves as well as other Europeans who were indentured servants and debtors many more than Africans. I’m not really sure why the prevailing mindset is towards only one race and all the others forgotten. Maybe it has something to do with the adage “Divide and Conquer,” but that can be taken up here.
The 13th Amendment was a good thing in theory, but what makes me sad is that we had to make up rules for people to care about others instead of them inherently knowing that treating another person like that is just not right. This has nothing to do with morality or religion. Treating someone as beneath you is just not right. The 13th Amendment is an instance of bureaucracy allowing mediocrity. The passing of the 13 Amendment didn’t fix the problem of slavery it just changed the way that it was utilized. Basically it was medicine for the symptoms. Those that were okay with enslaving another human being for their pleasure and gain were only forced to find new ways to do it. It is not surprising that not long after slaves were freed that Bernays and his manipulation of the public mind-set began to set the course for a new generation of Robber Barons.
If you think about it those who owned slaves then, now just own the big corporations and they no longer have to feed and shelter their slaves. They are no longer responsible for them. Those slaves are now voluntary servants who go to work every day to make sure they can pay the debt that comes with living a menial life in our free country.
Many just work where they can for what they can and get by. If one chooses to keep up with the Jones (those who are deemed superior because they own new stuff, go to cool parties, and vacation a lot) then they must take out student loans for education and then voluntarily take out a mortgage to buy a presentable home for someone of their status and then must voluntarily finance a car as well. All of this to continue to pay all the bills that come with maintaining this lifestyle or otherwise live a low income life like the majority of the population which is shunned upon.
And people can argue all they want that they don’t look down on people for their status, but they are lying. I’m not going to get into statistic and who does and who doesn’t. People do look down upon someone when they assume you don’t have money or brains because of their attire or the car they drive. This is the very reason most people struggle to maintain the proper lifestyle.
My daughter asked me one day, “Why do old people like to go to the casinos and spend all their money.” Apparently she has overheard me speaking about [people who have issues with gambling and asked a pertinent question, so I thought about it and then said, “Well once they get that old and have worked all of their life hoping to achieve the American dream they realize that their entire life was a lie. Their retirement funds have disappeared and they believe their only hope is to take a chance and try for something better, but instead they are only still losing.” I think I sometimes explain things well above my children’s head, but I want them to understand the ruthlessness of the economic system in our country. People have become zombies of materialism dragging about in the economic system on autopilot; I must work, I must shop, I must compete.
I had a correlating thought the other day about us living in a casino-like economy. We go to work every day to either make ends meet or choose to morally degrade other people and work our way to the top echelon of the economic world, but for those already at the top (the casino execs aka the C-Suite) they just sit back and collect. (I’m sorry there is no amount of work one can do to be worth one million dollars in a year and this is low in the salary and benefit range for the C-suite. For those who haven’t thought about this before I will break it down. That calculates to $83,333 a month, $19,230 a week, or $480 an hour. I’m sorry but what constitutes a person taking that much stake out of the well-being of the human populace? I really don’t have much room to talk, because I have a house with heat and water at my beckoning call, when there are people who make less than a dollar a week and must travel over a mile for water.
For someone like these executives to expect this kind of money to me is sickening. Especially when corporations push on their employees, “Do you pay for yourself?” Most of those on the top turn to their executive staff and say “Make this happen,” so the staff turns to the regional managers and says, “Try harder, make this happen,” then those mangers turn to their district managers and say, “Push harder we need sales, make this happen,” so those managers turn to their sales managers and say, “Get moving, cut hours, push sales, make this happen,” then those sales managers turn to their staff who only make minimum wage and has to tell them to push for more sales and then cuts their hours to improve the payroll because with less work across the board people can’t buy as much and sales inevitably drop. Then back at the top those executives that make 50% more than the minimum wage employees turnaround and blame those very people for wanting too much; for being stingy, for being lazy.
Anyone can try to argue that they worked for their position and status, but who in their right mind could truly do the things to the world that corporations do and say they worked hard and deserve to make those paychecks?
I’m sorry, but it pains me that people blame wrongs on those who are deemed lesser and the ones really doing the dirty deeds are touted as gods. The people at the top in the business world got to the top by giving up a part of their humanity. They act as though they are elders who believe that they are the driving force of our country and they must make hard decisions for the greater good. Truly these people are in a class of their own. Anyone who can make 50% more in one paycheck than those at the bottom and say that they deserve it are lying to themselves and everyone else.
Now with the new Healthcare program coming around, those making these unfathomable paychecks want to blame everything on the legislature and the ‘bottom feeders’ and not on them being greedy.
Those at the top want to say that those on the bottom, who work their butts of every day (aka the voluntarily enslaved or indentured) are to blame. Those on the bottom are the greedy. So, now most large corporations are going to start only hiring part-time employees and then they don’t have to provide healthcare. This has happened after these corporations cut costs, by already altering the benefits of employees and laying-off others while putting more work load on the people who are in the future going to get less hours because someone wants to maintain their level of lifestyle. Not to improve the economy or help others out.
These corporations are going to take everything from you as a person, your lively hood, your money and they are going to amass fortunes and you will be left in the dust; that is unless you join their game and start sucking the life out of other people and taking their money too. Then you are no better than the rest of them.
I could go on forever….these people say, “I give back to the economy by purchasing stuff.” Really? You only purchase high dollar goods where your money only stays in the hands of those who also have huge fortunes. You go to restaurants and pay thousands (yes, thousands) of dollars for one meal. Then you only purchase high dollar clothing and make sure your kids go to private schools where only other high dollar kids attend so that your children don’t have to mingle with the ‘bottom feeders.’
Do these people also teach their kids that people who drive a 15 year old vehicle and live in a small 3 bedroom house and only make $20,000 a year are lowly people who only want to steal their hard earned money? I am not lowly; I just don’t understand how one could take money like that and feel any kind of indignation toward me. I don’t ask for much and I am not going stop caring about others needs.
I do not want to make that much money. What could one person do to really need that much money? If corporations started paying their C-suite employees compensatory wages then we would live in a much more free country, but also people have got to stop thinking that buying a bunch of crap all the time is what makes them happy. I know I just want to be treated better than an indentured servant toiling away in the field while someone lives decadently off the labors of my back and my struggles as a human just to gain acceptance among my peers.
New shit is overrated. Now, the top execs want to stay on the top so we have product obsolescence where you can’t even get a decent product that is actually meant to last longer than a few years. Obsolescence should not be a marketing strategy, and all the people who work jobs where they are making a meager salary in hopes to one day become CEOs need to stop dreaming. There is no way that everyone could be the top execs because then who would sell the stuff on the bottom? If you are trading your humanity for this dream, it’s like making a deal with the devil; selling your integrity for profits, or numbers that reflect profits to prove your worth and gain that same acceptance among your peers.
This mindset, ‘salary equates character’, should be a bad thing but instead for some reason the prevailing belief is that one’s job and financial status is proportional to their integrity and strength of character. I do believe some of the most influential people in the world were those from the lower classes. Einstein was an office clerk, which equates to an assistant today.
Do people not realize that we are being tricked to believe that material gain is actually making you a better person or do people just really not care anymore? Marketing and Public Relations is just a way to redefine trickery and sleight of hand.
Do people not realize that although they got a new phone or a new car or whatever else has been mass produced so that someone else can make mega profit that not only are they competing in the rat race but they may have just taken the future life of someone who really needed that petroleum for the plastic tubing that would give them a blood transfusion? Because when we run out of that stuff what are we going to mass produce all that stuff from? I’d like to know, because I may not be alive, but my children will be and my grandchildren too.
Mass production has given us too much of a good thing. I think Aldous Huxley summed it up well when he wrote, “Familiarity breeds indifference.”
Last year the majority of companies showed growth and profits, not from selling more stuff, but from acquiring smaller businesses that they could add to their last year’s sales and by cutting costs which raised their profits artificially. We are not coming out of a recession and now major CEO’s are selling stocks left and right getting out of the American market. Thankfully some are thinking a bit rationally, but is it enough?
Stop sugar coating it. Stop pretending. We need to change some stuff. We need to rethink who we are as a nation. We need to stop playing on our phones and talking about television shows and we need to pay attention to the system that is slowly burning from the inside out.
Either, those in the C-suite take all your money and you must go home empty handed and say…”Well, I played a good hand,’ or we tell them to screw those salaries and balance things across the board so that our economy can adjust. Profits will have to go down; shareholders will have to suck it up, because we are never guaranteed the future anyway. It can’t be done in a day and it will probably take years to change the way that the majority of us were raised to think, but it will be more sustainable for our society, and people we be happier in the long run.
I will leave you with another great quote from Dr. King and a video that I like.
“Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.”