the greatest addiction

Lorraine Luntsford

 

Many people believe that capitalism is the way to go. It is the end-all of economic systems. It is ideally designed to give everyone a chance to live happily and successfully… the sky’s the limit!

Our forefathers outlined our “inalienable rights” to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” in the Declaration of Independence, and had our rights and freedoms laid-out as best they could in our Constitution, including the Bill of Rights. The Declaration of Independence also states that “All men are created equal.”

Well, the D. of I. and Constitution dictate our laws of government – not our economy. Capitalism is the system that governs our economy. And at first glance, these two systems seem to coincide perfectly. After all, Communism and Socialism (and all hybrids thereof–some using money, and some not) as they have implemented, don’t work and are in opposition to what our government stands for. All those economic/political systems end up taking away the very rights we in the U.S. take almost completely for granted (and even our rights here have been whittled away over the years, despite the Constitution). Theoretically, Communism sounds kinda good: Everyone has a job, a place to live, access to food … but no freedom. No freedom to progress, to move around. In some cases people subjected to this system couldn’t even choose what job or career they wanted to pursue. They were told what to do and where to do it. People in these societies had/have no opportunity to grow individually. No chance of bettering themselves or their lives.

But these countries don’t have our Constitution that is supposed to be stronger than any branch of the government. It’s what they all have to adhere to. It is what protects us, with checks and balances, and outlines our concrete rights and says we should be able to choose our leaders. In light of all this, capitalism as an economic system coupled with our governmental system is ideal. But it’s not our economic system that protects us and our rights, it’s our Constitution, which could be made to work with any economic system – much like the principles of Buddhism can be incorporated into any religious system.

But if our way of life is so great, then why are there so many people here so very discontent?

Because in truth, we are not all born equal. We aren’t all born with the same opportunities; we don’t all start out with the same amount of money like players in a game of Monopoly. We’re not even the same when it comes to desires, drives or ambition. Some want the sky’s limit, while others would be content with a small home or apartment, a few creature comforts and the ability to stay healthy and pay one’s bills. But even for those who are happy with less, many find they can’t make it at all – can’t get adequate health care coverage or retirement income after spending most of their lives contributing to the economy and serving their communities.

The fact of the matter, is any monetary system is going to cause the polar conditions of wealth and poverty by allowing for a small percentage of the population (those with the most drive and ambition) to eventually hold and control the largest percentage of the money. So long as there is money, there will always be poverty and homelessness on one end and an over-abundance of wealth on the other. It doesn’t matter what governmental/economic system is in place. It’s a fact of nature – a rule of opposites – where one thing exists, so too must its opposite exist. It’s the opposing sides of the same coin.

Money in various forms has been used since the dawn of civilization. It’s been so long now; most people cannot conceive of a world without money – cannot wrap their minds around it and are even afraid of the idea. It’s that ingrained into our psyches. They think having a form of currency is the way we’re supposed to live and that no other way is possible. Most never even question it. I can vaguely remember being a child and wondering why we needed money for everything and being told “that’s just the way it is,” and left it at that.

We’ve been using this system for so long it’s become like a drug. Now drug abuse is a symptom of the sickness of our societies. The drug is a temporary relief from the machine we call our reality, providing a synthetic (or empty) sense of happiness. Take the drug long enough though, and the addict becomes physically dependent on it to the point of it causing sickness and even death. Regardless of this, the addict refuses to give it up. They’re afraid to. They no longer know how, or are able to function without their drug. Money is to society, as drugs are to the individual body that takes the drug. And the empty ‘happiness’ that the drug called ‘money’ causes, fuels the addiction to materialism, greed and power, and a very false sense of security.

And since monetary systems directly cause the symptoms of poverty/want and overabundance/greed, in the striving for fairness (or power) the government passes bills, re-arranges taxes, cuts programs here, creates programs there, and passes laws to enforce the programs. But all this does is create more problems. It’s like a sick person being given a medication that causes a side effect, so the person has to take another pill for the side effect, which in turn causes another side effect, necessitating yet another pill. And on and on it goes. If not watched carefully, some of those medications could clash and cause even worse problems and perhaps eventual death – not from the initial disease, but from all the remedies for the side effects!

In essence, all those monetary programs and shifts will not cure the initial disease and eradicate the symptoms of poverty, want, hunger, greed, etc. They will just cause other problems. When you have a sickness – and an addiction is a sickness- you need to cure it, not merely treat its symptoms.

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