Questions of security being closely linked to questions of money and questions of power, let’s take a minute to consider something extremely practical: how do you get rich?
A recent Oxford study made an interesting observation on the subject, claiming that people at the top of hierarchical societies — the overprivileged capitalist exploiting Machiavellian narcissistic 1%-ers — serve a valid social purpose, making a larger effort in the interests of the group than do those at the bottom.
In essence, the higher-ups take on more responsibility, whereas the lower-downs get a “free ride” in exchange for not bucking the status quo.
This dovetails closely with the classic free-market argument against the “social state.” You don’t need a handout, Mr. Hobo, the argument goes, you need to buckle down and pull yourself out of your cardboard box with good-ole-fashioned hard work!
By this line of thinking, the fault for Joe Hobo’s situation may not necessarily lie on his shoulders (shit happens) but the responsibility for getting himself out of it certainly does.
On the other hand, the socialist perspective says, hey, no. It’s SOCIETY’s responsiblity to help Mr. Hobo… particularly those nasty 1%ers who smoke fat cigars and drive fat cars and prance around with skinny women.
How is he supposed to get out of that box? He can’t get a job, he can’t clean himself up, he can’t do anything but string together some remarkably cogent philosophy on the nature of humanity’s place in the universe.
In the interest in avoiding a VERY long discussion, I would put forth the argument that both sides are kind of right and kind of wrong. What do I mean? Think about it this way:
a) Mr. Hobo may want dearly to improve his situation, but unless he happens to have had a successful career as an entrepreneur before life kicked him onto the street… he probably hasn’t the foggiest idea where to start.
He may have dozens of options — options which to the free-market set are plain-as-day obvious ways of getting himself on the gravy train —
but to him, the only paths he sees are the soup kitchen and the social worker. Which brings me to the second point…
b) As outlets of the status quo, said social services are generally run by nice and caring people who are completely integrated into The Machine, and therefore on a subconscious level looking to play Katamari Damacy with anyone that rolls across their desks.
In other words, not really capable of teaching Mr. Hobo how to take responsibility for his life (after they get him cleaned up)… after all, they’re in the taking-responsibility-for-others business and they like the benefits! No sense in producing a free agent when you can have him producing for your system.
Which leads me to an interesting observation on the Oxford study. If we turn it upside down and jiggle a little bit, it seems we get an interesting correlation… the level of responsibility someone takes correlates to, and could very well cause, wealth.
Now, that’s all fine and interesting but… what’s Mr. Hobo supposed to do?
I did a little research, and though I can’t say these are any more than guesstimate-approximate-preliminary results, the problems of just about anyone stuck in a station in life which doesn’t make them as much moolah as they’d like… seem again to boil down into two parts:
i) Internal psychological issues.
These range from the simple but incredibly deadly comfort zone effect —
“I’m comfortable in my cardboard box, I don’t want to change”. Don’t laugh, this is probably the single most powerful driver of human psychology on the planet, and I suspect for many people it’s more powerful than the instinct to self-preservation. (There’s a forest fire coming! RUN! …oh, lemme finish checking Reddit first.)
…and go all the way up to more serious internal demons, for which modern medicine offers you the choice of an ass-expensive psychologist or make-it-worse-while-telling-you-it’s-getting-better psychiatrist, neither of which are particularly interesting or even available unless you’re already raking in the dough.
ii) Lack of knowledge and, for lack of a better word, the “capitalist instinct.”
These things are here are ostensibly the stuff which rich scions pass down to their offspring (or Oxford dons to their pupils — as Crowley once put it, “pederasty is the sole redeeming feature of the British school system”).
Thought this knowledge is supposedly available to the masses courtesy Kiyosaki, I’ve read “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” and while it’s good I don’t quite think it’s enough.
Now I’m a firm believer in individual freedom and all that, so I think it’s only fair to give everyone a fair shot at overcoming these hurdles. For some places, like Ukraine, it’s probably more than a matter of fairness but one of survival…
(that chocolate oligarch they’re about to elect is a good start since the country DOES need to ramp up in the business department. Unfortunately, oligarch-like people in power is exactly what led to the revolution in the first place. What the Ukrainians need to do in my opinion is start self-educating themselves on how to make their own dough instead of transferring responsibility up the chain like they were taught to do in the Soviet days.)
Unfortunately this is something of a difficult problem, and my research is so far quite preliminary. But, I can suggest two resources which begin (but most certainly do not finish) tackling the above two problems:
i) Joe Karbo’s “The Lazy Man’s Way To Riches,” original 1973 edition, not the newer one. Don’t laugh at the title or marketer-hype style —
this thing is a remarkably practical guide to autosuggestion and self-hypnosis. Quite powerful stuff! Just like it promises, it ought to knock even the laziest man out of the “comfort zone.”
But, while it does a good job of laying down the tracks, it utterly fails at clearing away pre-existing debris that are blocking the route.
ii) Lewis Schiff, “Business Brilliant.” The first business book I’ve EVER seen that uses actual scientific methodology to lay bare what it takes to get rich… and is perfectly frank about the role of Machiavellian-ism in the process.
Most authors prefer to imply the wealthy are as warm-and-fuzzy in their business dealings as you, dear reader… this one does not bother with such sugar-coated illusions. At the same time it’s not a bleeding-heart “expose” of how capitalists are all evil; it simply explains where the rich are ruthless and where they’re not and why.
Sadly, as much as I like the “Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, teach a man to fish and he will eat for the rest of his life” school of social assistance, I don’t quite think the above two resources are enough for most people.
Got any suggestions? Let me know.