Saturday, December 28, 2013

Mean and Entitled

Paul Piff's TED talk - Does Money Make You Mean?

It's interesting at the beginning that Piff talks about that "combination of skill, talent, and luck" "that helped you win other games"... very similar to Nassim Taleb and his works Fooled By Randomness and Black Swans, where he talks about  in interviews the rich and successful most often attributed their success to - hard work, the fact they were a risk taker, or their intelligence.

As Piff illustrates in his talk, when playing a rigged game, the winners who started out with sizable, insurmountable advantages got cocky, mean, and attributed their winning to skill. 

One of my favorite examples of this is the demagogue Rush Limbaugh, who preaches hard work and "picking yourself up by your bootstraps" to the masses everyday, when he's not calling our President a Communist or women Nazi's.  Limbaugh likes to point out that he was fired 7 times from radio stations, but thanks be to god and his grit he stuck to it and made it rich... only in America we are to suppose.  But, Limbaugh fails to mention that his family had one of the first privately owned jets in the United States, and there's a courthouse named after his grandfather in Missouri - the "grit" to keep failing was considerably easier when you grew up an entitled, spoiled, self-righteous child and obviously, the result was, as Piff suggests, he got richer and meaner as the years have gone by.

We can see that these are the same cocky, entitled, mean assholes running the world today.  Convinced that by cutting subsidies to the poor they'll work harder, but taxing the rich more would make them work less... they've pulled the strings of the common folk and have pulled it off.  It's not a matter of IF social programs will be cut, it's a matter of how much they'll be cut.  The debate isn't about cutting taxes, it's about how much to cut taxes.  And folks out in the real world are busting their asses, struggling to put food on the table and all the while playing in a rigged game of monopoly.  A wonderful piece in the Guardian by George Monbiot illustrates this well - It's business that really rules us now
The last remaining refuge for most of the world is to sit in front of the telly and veg out... and as a just reward for doing so we get to watch the rich bastards on TV pick new exotic locales to live in on HGTV, and sit on the 50 yard-line at bowl games most people can't afford to attend.  It may not be in the years the current Oligarch's have left, but someday folks are going to get off those couches and recognize their is a whole lot more of us than them... I hope.

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