It is no secret that around the world we are seeing an increasing imbalance in the distribution of wealth. The very rich minority are getting richer and the majority are getting poorer. The middle class is gradually shifting (being shifted) to the “poorer” side of things. There are many contributing factors. There are two I would like to bring forward in this post.
The first is the choke hold on politics, in the U.S. and elsewhere, that has been achieved by the very wealthy. This really shouldn’t be too surprising to anyone who has been paying even a little attention. Political campaigns have become exorbitantly expensive. The only way to run for office is to either be exorbitantly wealthy and/or to have the backing of people who are. The ultimate result of this reality is that the democracy which was founded here and became the United States is being turned into an oligarchy of the wealthy. Meanwhile, even socialist countries seem to be increasingly caught in the web of the allure of exorbitant personal wealth.
The governmental systems of the world are gradually being taken over, unduly influenced if not controlled, by those whose primary, if not sole, motivation is accruing personal wealth. From a big-picture perspective “government” as a worldwide concept seems to be developing into a collection of interconnected, self-serving, oligarchies. True, the “interconnected” aspect of it all is still a work in progress, however, it is progressing.
The second contributing factor is the role that the stock market plays in these developments. I am referring to an economic practice and not to a physical building or location. Although sometimes the two are synonymous. The stock market is one of the most significant mechanisms contributing to the worldwide economic shift. The practices inherent within the stock market allow a minority of people to control many industries. Apparently too often their overriding agenda is limited, again, to increasing their personal fortunes. Furthering their goal may include producing as much return on their investment as possible in as short an amount of time as possible. This narrow focus can and often does carry forward regardless of what may be the effect upon the interests of the industry involved, the workers within that industry, or the consumers of that industry’s products.
A couple other practices that negatively impact the communities of the world, feeding the upward flow of the world’s financial resources are; inordinate/extortionate pricing of products and usurious lending practices. This brings us back to the stock market. The stock market is the embodiment of usury. I’ve heard it argued that the gains are justified by the risks involved in possibly investing in a company that might not make it. However, isn’t that the same risk any investor/backer or anyone loaning start-up costs to a new enterprise is subject to? Usury by any other name is still usury. And that is what was accomplished with the creation of the stock market; usury in it’s most predatory form was given a paint job and a new name.
This reality of the creation of worldwide mechanisms to maintain an upward flow of the world’s financial and material resources is well entrenched. The power and influence of those benefiting from these practices reach well into every country and economy. What can we, the increasingly economically disenfranchised, do about this situation? In general we can begin to discontinue our support in any way we can of the industries whose practices are detrimental to our well-being. We can boycott products, change our buying habits. Support those industries whose products, production methods and financial practices support healthy individuals and communities. We can speak out for campaign finance reform and monitor the incestuous relationship that currently exists between big industry and government. Then we can identify and vote for political candidates who are not beholden to big money and who genuinely want to serve the best interests of their overall constituency.
We need to recognize the shortsightedness of media and advertisements that glamorize inordinate wealth and make it seem attractive. We can cease participation in the stock markets. Most importantly, we can communicate, we can educate. We can keep positive change in process.
The first step is to free our minds from the influence of those whose practices serve to economically enslave us.