American Capitalism: A Privileged Review

I am a middle class, white woman. I have privilege. I have the privilege of never having been discriminated against for my skin color, for my socio-economic class, for my politics. Everything I do as a middle-class white member of society is defended and cosigned by my government and my fellow Americans because of the programming put into us all by society. Even as a woman (which if you didn’t know women are still oppressed by societal roles and expectations and those unwilling to address their personal misogyny) I have an advantage over other women because of the race and class of the body and family I was born into (without choice).

Because I am privileged, I have not been made to suffer some of the horrible ills of our country and world. As an American, I do not know what it is to live in third world situations. As a Californian, I have not seen some of the “worst” places in America except through filtered and biased media coverage. I have not seen extreme poverty anywhere except LA–which is not the worst cases of poverty even though some areas are really struggling and others are very poverty stricken. I do make an effort to educate myself on these things, but regardless of my forcing myself to look at the issues, I still don’t have to see them often in my daily life, I don’t have to live them. I am privileged.

That being said, I understand that what I have to say is not the worst thing happening in America. It is, however, destructive and life-threatening.

However, as a privileged person I still see that there is something very wrong with our country, and I am still negatively affected by it. As a privileged person, I am still heavily oppressed by the game of American Politics and Capitalism. As a middle class American, I have a perspective on American Capitalism, even if it is a privileged perspective.

Most of us can recognize that our system is corrupt. It is not a secret, which makes our tolerance of it pretty appalling. However, rather than fix the system that allows our politicians to get away with lies, our corporations to get away with lobbying legislation, and the gap between the super wealthy and the rest of the population to continue growing, we blame individuals and keep electing dishonest leaders. Corruption is not some new idea being sparked by a political revolution. It has always been around, even at the writing of our constitution, and we allow it to grow by sitting idly by and becoming comfortable. How can anyone blame us? It seems like such a big issue?! How do we address it?! How do we fix it?! How do we overcome?!

We open our eyes and wake the hell up.

Here are some thoughts that woke me the hell up.

Capitalism, and all competitive markets, require that for one person to be doing well, another has to be doing less well. I’m not talking about text book definitions, but the actual functioning logic behind our system. Simply think about the transfer of money on a large scale. It’s a flow. You get some money, you spend some money, you get some more, you spend some more. Sometimes you interrupt this flow by saving some to spend at a later time. The problem is that there are some people saving way more than they would ever possibly need, so the flow is being interrupted. Ultimately, money is useless unless it is in use–being circulated. When too much is being saved by someone it means they are denying the ability for that money to flow back into the economy and spark economic growth for others. There is only so much money in the world, so when 1% of Americans hoard it for their own possible future, they are denying others the ability to even get the money they need to live on a daily basis.

Even on a smaller level, when someone is trying to sell something to you, they are trying to make money by taking it from you.  No matter how they put it in their advertising. (You NEED to put chemicals on your face to get it clean otherwise your friends will think you have dull skin and they won’t want to be seen with you, so if you want friends and love you should BUY THIS FACEWASH!) When you are trying to get a job, you’re trying to take money from your employer. Yes, you’ve earned it and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it, but essentially you’re saying, “How can I use my skills to get money from someone else who is getting money from his or her customers who are getting money from their employers who are getting money from their customers…” and so on. It’s a cycle.

Simply to survive, you need a job with a livable wage. When you are working for capitalist corporations, this works our well. When you are working under any non-corporate business that functions within the institution of American Capitalism, you are probably fighting for the wage you have. That fight is a fight between you needing money and the owner of your company needing money–all so they can meet their basic needs (and everyone’s idea of “basic needs” is different). So even to make a livable wage, we have to fight to take it from someone else. Even doing the honest “American” thing means taking something from someone else to use it yourself. This is just how our capitalist market works.

EVERYTHING is a struggle for money. Money means comfort. Money means power. It’s disgusting and it has to stop. Money is not something we should have saved up in mountains at a bank. It’s a system. It leaves our hands almost as quickly as it enters them sometimes, and that’s how it is supposed to be. If we are not putting money back into our own economy constantly, we are halting the ebb and flow that is necessary for a healthy economy.

American Capitalism was built on slavery and genocide, and even today it still depends on a lower class–someone has to suffer. For the people at the top to be as rich as they are, they have to be taking that money from someone. For someone to have Millions, sometimes Billions, of dollars saved somewhere, not being spent or filtered back into the economy, means that there are people somewhere with nothing–no matter how hard they work.  Sadly, it is the recently graduated and the lowest, poorest, most ethically diverse classes that are suffering on behalf of the Capitalist Billionaires. The Billionaires are getting away with it because they paid the person who wrote the legislation which that made this corruption legal!

For the people, by the people.

Well, let’s take a look at my people–the future of this country.

Millennials!

Our parent’s generation was taught that if they worked hard, they could achieve the American Dream. We were fed the lie that if we went to college we would make a million dollars more in our lifetime. If we worked hard there would be a full time job with benefits waiting for us. If we refine our resumes and make ourselves sound better than the last guy (see, always pushing someone else down to rise up) then we can get the job.

Here’s some fun facts though: the university I attended graduates about 8,000 people each year and about half of them stay within 25 miles of the university. Approximately 4,000 grads every year are entering a 25 mile radius job market full of entry level, low paying, part time jobs. Most people I know that graduated within the last 4 years are working multiple jobs just to survive. Some of them up to 4 different jobs. Those of us who aren’t are quickly realizing that we need to be. 4,000 people from one University, in an area where there are about 6 large universities, all graduating and looking for jobs in one job market. That’s not including all the High School grads in the area we are competing with for service jobs when we can’t find work related to our degrees. That’s not including the middle aged American being laid off from their lifelong careers because the market is too unstable to be sustainable. Yet, the university system (private and government institutions alike) still lies to its prospects and students about how getting an education will get them a successful and stable life. The teachers might not be saying this, but we don’t hear their truth until we’ve committed ourselves to 4+ years and a mountain of student loan debt. We were promised something, too many of us did it, and its overrunning our system–

because our system wasn’t built for this many of us to succeed.

Not to mention, our generation is battling a stereotype that is being used to stifle us. This is no different than the stereotypes used to keep down women, people of color, immigrants, etc. We millennials have been painted as lazy whiners–by Corporate America, by the Republican party, by our own parents, by those who were able to achieve the American Dream by working hard and can’t understand the state of our current economy and the system we function within has made that impossible for us. We have been told for the majority of our lives that we are lazy and entitled. Millennials don’t understand hard work. This is a lie about our generation that is being used to justify paying us lower wages and starting us in part time positions. These stereotypes are being used to defend a system they don’t want to fix.

When I was in college I worked as a recruiter. I interviewed hundreds of people in the few years that I did this. Hundreds of college students–millennials. In almost every group interview, at least one applicant would say something about how they are not like the rest of their generation. They aren’t lazy or entitled. They work hard. For some Millennials to be taken seriously, they feel the need to throw their entire generation under the bus with false accusations. They feed the lie they were fed.

The gap between the upper, middle and lower classes is growing. It is a much bigger gap than the American people know. It is being hidden from us because we are allowing ourselves to be numbed with consumerism.

If there is not a radical reform in the government, the socio-economic divide will continue to grow. Historically, when this gap grows and the lowest classes are forced into uncomfortable, unlivable positions, it doesn’t take long before the system collapses and another must replace it. Look at our own American Revolution, the French Revolution, and so many others before, after, and in between. These are the results of the lowest classes being taken advantage of by the highest classes.  History shows us that when there is too big of a gap between the lower and upper classes, and the lower class heavily outnumber the upper class, there will be a violent uprising and revolution.

The people in charge know this. Why do you think they’re militarizing police in the streets and making rioters look horrible in the news? This is programming, conditioning– fear mongering. They’re keeping us scared and numbing us comfortable with materialism so they can continue to bleed us dry, all while they get richer and richer–numbing themselves comfortable. Not having a political revolution right now means that we are setting ourselves up for a full scale uprising in the long run.

A political revolution, rather than an uprising and violent revolution, not only improves lives, it saves them.

One of the largest motivators for this political revolution is the fact that it is impossible for certain people to succeed under the current paradigm. The opportunities presented to them are limited based on their demographics–race, gender, religious affiliation, class, location, family, status, even choosing to express themselves through use of clothing and hair color can cost them a livable wage. What’s worse is that the definition of success is no longer exceeding expectations or working for more–its merely surviving. Its having food to put on your table and a roof over your head. That has become the extent of success for some of us–nothing more–and it is still not being achieved by many.

It would be one thing if we were allowed to provide for ourselves without money. However, that is not possible either. Living off the land isn’t possible–because the land is no longer ours–and as a white woman with very little Native American blood, this land wasn’t “mine” to begin with. But even now, it’s not ours. It belongs to our government. Either you must pay for, own, and be taxed for the land you live on or you must trespass on someone else’s land–including National Forests and Parks. You cannot hunt for your own food without paying for a hunting license. You cannot start fires to provide yourself with warmth without pissing off the local authorities.

It is illegal for us to live free of the government, and yet they are not making it possible for us to live within their domain.

They are denying humans the right to live. Our Freedoms are a facade.

I was raised Republican, and I understand the value of small government. Really, when you get all religious agenda out of the party, that is their goal. They believe in small government. I want to believe in this. My most idealized Utopia would be no government, just communities working together. However, I think for small, community organizations to work on a large scale, there must be a social contract between the people. They must agree to disagree and still respect each other. They must embrace their diversity and differences rather than fear them. They must overcome their fears rather than live in them and act out from them.

This is currently not possible for the American People. Too many people are interested in converting all of us to sameness. This is the goal of corporate America too–whitewashing everyone into the same cookie cutter mold by telling them its the only way to succeed within their business model. Then making that true, so everyone who does not fit the mold does not succeed.

We need to pull the personal out of politics and allow people to be truly free. The aim of our government should be to protect people’s rights, not tell them what is “right”.

Diversity is the foundation of a healthy America. I believe it is the basis for a healthy everything! However, people do not understand that to respect diversity calls for acceptance of differences–not just tolerance, acceptance.

I know who you are, I know what you believe, I accept these things and I love you as my fellow human. Essentially–Namaste.

This is not the message being promoted by our system. Like the parent who tells their kids electronics are bad for them and then sits down to watch TV while playing on their tablet 4 hours each night, our government would like us to do as they say, not as they do. This model has trickled down into every institution in America–including the most fundamental, the family and the self.

Small government is not possible yet. For communal governments to be possible in the long run we must first establish a basis of equal opportunity–which we current DO NOT have.

Those things which are basic to our human survival are not found in the wild anymore, and we cannot get them ourselves. Food and water are not free and yet we need them to live. We are essentially caged birds being told to go get our own food. We are pets of the government, but they are expecting us to fend for ourselves.

This paradigm doesn’t make sense! It contradicts itself!

If you do not want to provide for my basic needs for survival, then set me free. If you would not set me free, and you do not provide for my basic needs, then you condemn me to die.

The purpose of large government should be to set the most basic ground rules for small government to function efficiently. The purpose of large government should be to provide us with our basic needs for survival, and ensure true equality, so that communities can come together and work for each other–not individuals working for themselves.

We cannot ignore the fact that all of humanity must share this planet. There must be some scale of larger government, something to maintain equality and freedoms for all to function beneath. Something to keep some people from hoarding unnecessary amounts of money “just in case” while others literally starve while working 40+ hours each week.

Democratic Socialism is not a scary idea. It is the next step in our political, and therefore global and human evolution. We must ensure equality.

Democratic Socialism is progress. It is a step in a longer process. It is the next step, it is the necessary step, and we are one of the only First World countries denying ourselves that step.

If we continue to deny ourselves the next vital step of our evolution, we will fall into third world status. It’s already happening. Have you seen Detroit?

To quote my brilliant Mother;

“America is a Democratic Socialist Country and always has been;

  • military
  • police
  • firefighters
  • voting
  • Medicare
  • Medicaid
  • Social Security
  • healthcare (via emergency rooms, for people who can’t pay)
  • public libraries
  • public schools
  • government college grants, scholarships, and loans
  • roads
  • the FDA
  • the EPA
  • Sewage treatment,
  • the FCC,
  • Fema,
  • Parks and Recreation,
  • EBT/ Foodstamps,
  • Zoning Laws (so your house isn’t next to a giant building or in an area where it is unsafe for a house)
  • Airport Security, Our Justice System, The tax system, Tax Refunds that the capitalists love and so much more!”

We have been heading there forever. The problem is that even these things are set up and based on inequality. Our entire system is based on inequality. Until we are able to provide equal opportunities, healthcare, food and shelter to every citizen we are not a free country, and therefore not a free people. If we wish to be world leaders, we need to lead by a better example. As I said before, if I am not completely free to provide for myself in any way I like (including with strictly hard work rather than money), so long as I do no harm to others, then I am being forced to gain money to survive, which cuts down on the value of my life.

This is the definition of slavery.

We may not be whipped into submission by an overseer, but we are certainly starved in conformity by our government.

We haven’t ended slavery, we’ve just expanded it to include everyone. We haven’t stopped prejudice, we’ve just institutionalized it. We’ve made it legal.

The 2016 Presidential Race is perhaps one of the most important races of our lives so far. We have candidates with such extreme views. We are witnessing the diversity of America. We are witnessing the thing that needs preserving (diversity, equality and freedom), but we need to move away from the things we claim preserve it (prejudice, hatred, and greed).

If you haven’t caught on by now, I am feeling the Bern. Bernie Sanders is an incredible candidate with an honest and genuine vision which benefits every member of society–including the millionaires. After all, as hard as it is for me to say goodbye to $20 for food, I can only imagine the devastation of losing millions when the stock market has a bad day. They’ve enslaved themselves to this system as much as they’ve enslaved us to it. They’re no more comfortable than the rest of us, just more numb.

Whichever candidate you vote for, I encourage you to vote for change. I am voting for progress. I am voting for Bernie. However, I also see that even his purpose in this race has already been served. He doesn’t need to win to change the world. He’s caught fire in the hearts of millions of enslaved Americans. He’s already won. He’s already served. He’s already impacted us. So just imagine the impact he could have as President– the progress that could be made.

His vision is mirrored in the Millennials. It is mirrored in the youth of this country–even those who do not follow him. It is mirrored in our struggles, it is mirrored in our minor triumphs, it is mirrored in our minds. He is a visionary person leading a group of equally visionary people.

We, the Millennials, are visionary. We will change the world. But only if we take action.

Rock the Vote, express your opinions, talk about them openly, and be willing to listen to others. Exemplify the qualities of a free America by preserving diversity, equality and freedom in your everyday life.

This can be hard. So here are some mantras to help you;

Diversity– “I understand your perspective, I accept it as yours, I respect it even though it is different from mine.”

Equality– “I understand that although we are different, we are also the same. We are all humans. We are all equal. We all deserve equal opportunities for living our own lives and being well.  We all deserve life and wellness.”

Freedom– “I understand that you are an individual who must live in your own life every second of every day. I release expectations for you to conform and I respect your freedom to be diverse.”

I hope you noticed how all those things connected with each other. We really can’t have one without the other.

Your perspective is important. So is everyone else’s. We’re all on this soapbox. We’re all on the same pedestal. We’re all rulers of the world–

–as long as We, The People, take action.

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The InterVoid

The internet is a most interesting place. It is populated with endless space for cats and politics and cool grandmas. No question, it has brought the world closer together. It has connected people who are physically separated by thousands of miles. Internet has allowed us to communicate with loved ones across the world with only a few seconds delay.

However, as we know, not everything on the web is sunshine and double rainbows. Possibly it is what another generation has called a distraction from reality. We’ve certainly all seen one or many of the multitude of articles against the internet, use of social media, being glued to your phone, the need to document every moment on instagram. We’ve certainly been told by some archive of online articles that the internet was bad for us.

I can see this as accurate. I think that, like all things, too much internet and technological dependence can be a bad thing. It can certainly be one of my biggest addictions. I often misuse the internet as fuel for my avoidance. It’s a helpful tool for procrastinating.

I have begun to see the internet a little differently. I see everything as a metaphor, so I’ve begun to compare the internet to our world. I imagine that the internet is this other dimension that we tapped into. It existed, but we found it through use of technology, and it was nothing. When we found (or created, depending on your outlook) the internet, it was empty. We have tapped into a void dimension. The InterVoid! This is Tron, in real life. Just because we can’t physically visit there doesn’t mean it isn’t an entire world of its own!

Internet dimension is infinite, like our physical universe, but it was empty when we found it. It was just a void before we started filling it with ideas. Then suddenly, we started shouting our personal ideas into the void and the void became something. It became everything we were shouting into it. The void became the Intervoid, which then became the Internet.

It is as diverse of a world as our own. Every person who posts content on the web is shaping the dimension that is the Intervoid. It’s a world that exists within our world, is entirely of itself, and yet we are its creator, because we filled it with content.

When I imagine the internet in this way, I can see how everything on the web is placed there, but also has its own persona, sparks its own conversation, is its own consciousness! We created it, but it has become its own world. As long as you have the technology to access it, you could still watch Olan Rogers talk about ghosts in the Target bathroom as if he is sitting in your living room, even though it has been years since he actually sat in his own home and recorded the video.

This Intervoid theory is an interesting idea when compared against our own physical dimension. I don’t know that the comparison stands, but it certainly is interesting. Our world was void, then suddenly, a Big Bang! Now, as we continue to populate our physical world with ideas, we grow, and so does the world with us. As we add content to our own dimension, in the form of our thoughts, words, actions, and intentions, the world we live in becomes those things– both for our shared world reality and our individual perceptions of it. The world around us is so heavily affected by us. Who’s to say we didn’t make it this way. Who’s to say we didn’t make everything?

As I mentioned earlier, the internet, and its users, have received some grief for their use. Unfortunately, the Internet fear mongering is targeted primarily toward young people’s use of the internet. When our parents’ generation uses the internet, they are considered educated. When our grandparents’ generation uses the internet they are praised for having mastered a technology that is so new and out of their time. Millennials who use the internet are condemned. None of these are fair generalizations.

But isn’t this criticism, toward any age group, defeating the whole point? Isn’t the point of the internet connection? Bridging gaps? Bringing people closer together? Accessibility to knowledge? Yet, even this tool we use to distance ourselves from each other.

I see the internet as a tool for a us to express ourselves and connect with others.

To be happy in my everyday life, I need to do two things; create and express. Luckily, I find creation in everything. In addition to the singing, writing, jewelry making, photographing and painting I do on a regular basis, I think of life as my greatest work of art. This life is my canvas. I can paint anything, I can use all the colors, I can use all my imagination to create myself and my life. Creation is not hard. Where I always struggled was finding productive ways to express myself!

I never had a hard time articulating myself. That part of expression was fine. What didn’t work was having someone listen to all my problems and crazy thoughts! I’ll admit, some of what I need to express is seemingly outlandish, over-imaginative, or unrealistic! Just read these blog posts and you’ll have that confirmed. I can be a bit off the wall. It can drive my friends and family mad. Some people will indulge me and others will fight every word I say without any possibility of knowing how to talk about the impossible.

This is all true for the internet too, but only if people can find your posts. Otherwise, all of us bloggers, video makers, graphic artists, and witty tweeters are just shouting into the void! Think about how many of us use the internet to communicate feelings we might not otherwise share in the physical world. We are all screaming at nothingness! We are expressing ideas to a blank and empty dimension! We’re basically pouring our souls out into dark matter!

SHOUTING INTO THE INTERVOID!

But there’s another side to it. As we shout into the void, others reach out to listen. Others who have similar or fiercely differing opinions on that same thing will look it up, find your shouting, and be able to interact with it. We do this is our everyday lives too, but the audience we can collect on the internet provides us with more opportunity for diversity to blossom. The internet provides for opportunity to connect with a huge audience who thinks like you!

For this reason, I love the intervoid. I think it is exactly what I needed. I needed a place to express my crazy thoughts and explore my crazy theories! I needed someone to be able to listen to what I had to say, but I didn’t want to force it on them! I wanted to find people, other than those in my everyday life, who thought like me. I found them on the internet. The internet is great for that! Your expressions don’t have to be seen by everyone, but someone who is really looking for it will find it.

It is not void anymore. It has actually become its own place. It has become an almost tangible dimension. We can hang out there, we can learn, we can connect with others in intimate ways. But it is still infinite, and it is still being molded and shaped. Keep shouting into the intervoid! It’s changing all the time!