Wealth and Survival

General Systems Theory: Whether you are a person, a corporation, or a bacteria, what matters most is not how efficient you are every day but whether you can survive a crisis.

We all make mistakes, and likely most of us make an equivalent number of mistakes. That doesn’t matter. What matters is whether we have enough of a cushion to survive the mistakes we are certain to make. Why are so many humans today so fat? Because for most of human history the inconveniences and long-term health issue of overweight were less important than the ability to withstand a prolonged famine.

Wealth is a cushion that allows us to withstand any number of bad mistakes, which is why rich people never feel they have enough, and always want more, even if it means taking it from those with little.

A thought experiment, a game… Two people ante up a penny and flip a coin. The winner of the toss gets both pennies. When one person runs out of pennies, they die and the winner lives.

Now a slight variation…one person starts with ten pennies and the other starts with ten thousand. What happens? Right. The person with much more wealth lives while the person with little dies, no matter if the poor person makes better decisions or makes fewer mistakes or is “more responsible”. Wealth can overcome enormous differences in skill or talent.

In the real world, a rich person can literally get away with murder, while the poor might not be able to survive a few days of cold weather.

That same difference in wealth that can mean life or death, can more easily lead to the rich getting richer by using their wealth advantage to make the poor poorer. If a poor person misses a mortage or car payment because they have no cushion to protect them against adversity caused by their own mistakes or just random events, a rich person can use their cushion of wealth to get the assets of the poor for ten cents on the dollar. Over and over. Consistently. Being poor means being unable to protect yourself from those who want to take even what little you have.

Them what has, gets.

4 Responses to Wealth and Survival

  1. whitishrabbit says:

    What scares me is the disdain, the lack of empathy, the utter callousness I see being displayed in this country for the economically disadvantaged. Democrats may have won the house and the senate, but there is a rampant movement (even among young people!) that I would call ‘cold conservatism’. Cold because it discounts the young, the weak, the sick and the unlucky, and insists on the rightness and order of the wealthy elite turning their back on the poor. There seems to be a pervasive attitude in the U.S.A that the disadvantaged deserve what they get.

  2. I was waiting for your proposed solution to this problem that has always been with us. I say problem because I’ve been on both sides of the fence.

    I’m not sure what rabbit means by ” turning their back on the poor” because we have a long,deep and thick safety net for the “disadvantaged”. Americans give far more than any nation on earth and opportunity abounds.

    Maybe I’m part of the problem, having earned and lost a sizable chunk of dough and have regained footing and bank balance after a couple of years and feel less and less sympathetic for those who give up.

    Mentally infirm, physically challenged, poor skill levels, poor character, drugs and alcohol…you name it, all great reasons or excuses why rich wins over poor every time.

    Not surprisingly, since November, the local news outlets have found a large number of ” homeless” here in my city. I’m not certain where they were until lately.

    I suppose handing out boxes of $20’s would be a nice thing to do, but the lasting effect of doing for other’s what they could and should do for themselves is never good.

    Thanks for providing me with food for thought.

  3. Kita Kazoo says:

    Our safety net for the disadvantaged, including the handicapped, children and elderly is extremely punitive and stingy. The programs do not provide enough to sustain life.

    If you are on AFDC, SSI Disability or Welfare you have to cheat it to get by, which in my opinion just encourages poor character and creates more low self esteem. In my opinion our whole approach to “helping” (only part way) doesn’t promote bettering one’s own circumstances. A hand up has to have a firm grip.

    I too have made and lost fortunes. I feel grateful that I have what ever it is that makes a person keep trying. Some people don’t have it. Why is we fault those with emotional, mental, spiritual handicaps? We do not do this to the physically disadvantaged without feeling shame.

    I would have felt really horrible if I had thought people considered me as less worthy of a human being, just for being poor. If I had know that people think that way, who knows if I had had the courage to push on through and restore myself.

    I think the answer is to promote, through our media system, compassion for others. To show that unfortunate circumstances can come to anyone, at anytime and that we need to be empathetic instead of judgemental. That having charity for others is a part of having high moral values and strong healthy character.

  4. numen says:

    Disdain: The traditional phraase is “Fuck you, Jack, I got mine” and it is not new. The wealthy have always tried to come up with explanations why they are and why they deserve to be rich, and nearly all these explanations claim the poor deserve to be raped and looted.

    The “safety net” was instituted by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, a patrician, too keep the poor from armed revolution. It succeeded. But Reagan and those following (including supposed Democrats like Clinton) have been steadily dismantling the safety net and there is now little left of it.

    The rich love to claim that “drugs and alcohol” and such are reasons why some are rich and others poor, but then why are the rich all in rehab? As I said in my thought game, wealth gives leverage unrelated to merit that allows the rich to take more and forces the poor into deeper poverty. Sure, if we redistributed wealth equally, some would end up on the bottom again. But not all. And where would the Paris and Nicoles of the world end up?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: