An acquaintance of mine recently brought up the issue of “choices” again & basically said that I am in the situation I’m in because of the “choices” I’ve made in my life. This is my rebuttal, and instead of going into the centuries-old debate of “free will” vs. “determinism” and nature vs. nurture, I’m going to respond in my own, straight-forward manner.
I was going to title this essay, “Free Will and the Free Market,” but decided that would be perhaps too pedantic & too complex a topic to explore. Besides, those who claim to believe in the “free market,” have obviously already drunk the Kool-Aid of crony capitalism & its house of cards.
Let me start by acknowledging that I don’t delude myself & think that I’m going to persuade any readers of this essay to reject the edifice upon which they’ve built their lives. No, this is merely the voice of a lone wolf howling in the wilderness of this shallow society.
You may think it extremely arrogant or audacious of me but I claim to speak for the downtrodden like myself, who’ve been screwed by this rigged-system their whole lives. Yet the 1% have succeeded to an astounding degree in convincing us that we are “losers” (one of Trump’s favorite slurs) because of our own “shortcomings.”
Yep! We are supposed to accept full responsibility for everything from losing a perhaps once, decent paying job & the health insurance we once had, our homes because we fell for those predatory lenders’ scams, our life savings because again, we weren’t smart enough to not trust our financial advisers who assured us that our investments were secure & guaranteed, etc.
Just poor choices on our parts. Too bad, too sad! But somehow, the rich always seem to come out on top? Yeah, miraculously the 1% seem to usually have the insider knowledge that not only protects their fortunes but even enables them to profit when the rest of us fail? It couldn’t be perhaps that because they have the wealth & power to influence & control the legislators who write the laws, is why they rarely pay for poor “choices,” could it?
Of course not! This is a meritocracy, right? Haven’t we been told all the way through our public education that if we work hard, follow the rules, & don’t rock the boat, we too can become rich & successful? Gee? I wonder where such “wisdom” originated? Well, that’s for another essay.
Remember! We’re a class-less society i.e. we don’t recognize or rather, we don’t acknowledge that there are different “classes” in America & we’re all equal. But don’t try driving in Beverly Hills, especially if you happen to be Black. Of course, Trump has shown the world what a truly classless person he is & represents the real America behind the veil like in the Wizard of Oz.
Yeah, as spiritually sick as Trump makes me, I’m actually glad that he’s up there on the world’s stage because there’s no hiding or denying just how rotten to the core this neo-liberal assault has been with Trump behind the desk in the oval office. And what has been the 1%’s response to this greedy, self-aggrandizing moron’s words & actions? Mostly mute because the Duck Dynasty’s Klansman has been a godsend to their continued looting of the federal treasury.
I may be veering a bit off topic here and could go into the “choices” that brought us this most vile, despicable, & craven mercenary but that too, is another topic for future exploration. You see, my imaginary reader, the concept of “choice” is thrown out by the rich whenever any of us, the peasants, dare to complain about “our lot in life.” This is their armor, their shield when attacked for their greed, selfishness, & the destruction they have wreaked in their blind pursuit of profit i.e. if we are unhappy with our life situations, we only have ourselves to blame for the poor choices we have made along the way.
Yep! If we accept this rationale of “choices,” then Trump has clearly made all the right choices in his career i.e. never admit guilt or wrongdoing, cheat/defraud thousands if not tens of thousands of employees, contractors, etc. always attack & never apologize, borrow & not repay banks, bribe city officials for permits for buildings & casinos and not honor the contracts, launder money for mafia figures, beg for loans from Russian mafia i.e. Russian government officials, and build his political career with a vicious fear & hate campaign that he never stops using to manipulate the gullible & willingly ignorant who believe in him.
But if you happen to be a simple person who believes in doing unto others as you’d have them do unto you, you are a sitting duck for the 1% who have no such moral qualms. Yes, they too made their choices & we see the consequences of their choices in the tabloids yet we continue to ignore these glaring lessons of what befalls the greedy & the heartless?
Let me ask you this my friends; Did we who were raised by a single parent, usually our mothers, “choose” this? Or did we who were abused by cruel stepfathers from birth to adolescence have a say? Did we who were forced to attend whatever public school which happened to be nearby, have a choice in the academic curriculum or quality of said curriculum?
Did we, who went hungry at times in our childhoods, have a choice regarding whether we wanted to eat or not? Did we have a choice when it came to being brought up in a drunken & violent home? Or whether we had a decent roof over our heads, two loving parents, encouragement, cultural exposure, etc.?
Were we free from the psychological as well as the physical harm inflicted upon us by cruel, unloving step-dads & live-in boyfriends of our mothers? Did we have a choice when it came to the fact that we never even met our biological fathers?
Did we have a choice when it came to being mocked, ridiculed, & humiliated every time we played sports as we grew up & our eyes crossed and our fellow students were so merciless & cruel?
Did we have a choice in being not only the eldest in our families but also amongst all our cousins & being forced to protect them but had no one to protect or defend us? Did we have a choice when it came to enjoying a “normal” childhood or adolescence?
Or what about the life or death choice of being in the military during the Vietnam war? Did we have a choice when it came to the lottery & the fact that our birth date set our fate? Did we have a choice of a college deferment when we didn’t even know of such an option? Moreover, was this an option if you didn’t have a rich daddy like the 1% who guaranteed your college tuition?
Remember, Donny the Duck’s daddy bribed a doctor to save Donny by claiming he had bone-spurs & now he struts the world-stage like he’s the most patriotic American there ever was. Guess he wasn’t forced into making that choice of serving? Guess the fact that a professor of mine suggested that I should be attending college at Stanford University but the fact that I was having trouble just paying for tuition at California State University at Long Beach, was just another poor choice on my part?
Furthermore, the 1% don’t have to worry about making poor choices or dumb mistakes when they work for daddy because they’re not going to be fired. How often are the children of the elite fired from any position they’ve ever held, no matter how briefly? Yeah, so much for meritocracy, equality, level playing field and all the other bullshit propaganda we’ve been spoon-fed our entire lives!
Do the children of the elite ever have to suffer the insults, degradation, & daily humiliation inflicted upon them by “superiors” who are clearly inferior in every way? Do they have to make a “choice” between eating or quitting and maintaining some semblance of self-respect? Do the elite have to refrain from the overwhelming desire to smash their supervisors’ faces to a pulp?
Has this so-called “power elite” ever been forced to work at jobs they knew were very dangerous i.e. handling toxic chemicals, driving trucks with faulty brakes, etc. yet when they quit, they were labeled “losers,” unable to hold down a job. Have they ever known what it feels like to have all these pejorative terms applied to them like that crimson A sewn onto Hester Prim’s blouse for life?
And more insulting & unbearable than all these personal insults is the fact that I have spent my life in the continual pursuit of knowledge, truth, & wisdom yet am often forced to almost beg for some minimum wage “job.” Does this all stem from a series of poor “choices?” If you still believe that it does, it reveals you for who you are i.e. a member of the corporate cockroach class who should be stamped-out for humanity’s sake as well as for Mother Earth’s well-being.
Isn’t it curious that when questioned about the legitimacy of their wealth, the overwhelming majority of the elite believe they rightfully deserve it because of the family they were born into or that they have “worked” so hard for it? And those of us who “begrudge” them their wealth are just jealous, lazy, not qualified, or have made “poor choices” in life.
Yeah, “poor choices” that the rich can relate to like choosing between going hungry & stealing; like quitting a dangerous job where you know you’re risking your life for minimum wage & becoming just another sad statistic or being broke again.
Bottom-line, you who have been fucked-over by life, often as the result of the elite’s policies & practices had & have about as much “choice” in terms of what course your lives follow as those sheltered “elite” bastards had in being born with the proverbial silver spoons in their mouths. So, don’t you buy their bullshit argument that it’s your “deficiencies” that are the cause, because if you do, you are only playing into their hands & blaming yourselves (and no, this isn’t to say that some of us aren’t guilty of laziness, etc.) rather than them, the want to be Masters of the Universe.
There is one historical fact that gives me hope & some sense of consolation, the French Revolution. Naturally, the powers that be will dismiss my arguments as being that of just another “loser.” Yeah, those of us who dare to stand up on our hind-legs & howl against the horrific injustices of this world are dismissed as “whiners,” apologists, losers, etc. etc. etc. because it requires honest & serious mental effort to refute my accusations.
This is clearly such an easy cop-out that it is disingenuous at best & reflects a mind that is incapable of fair & logical argument.
The sad & cruel irony in today’s America is that Trump has succeeded to such an extent in duping his cult of the Walking Dead into believing the true enemy of the state are his fellow elite, who profit from the government subsidies/protections just as he has but that he is magically separate from it. Yep! Donald the Dick-head, the pussy-grabber, the fraudulent billionaire, the clearly senile & vile creature from the Black Lagoon ruling over the swamp lizards of Congress, has muddied the waters to such an extent that nobody knows what the future holds for America.
And like a cheap magician, Trump distracts us by waving his tiny hands, one hand pointed at the “enemy of the state” i.e. the press (because they do their job of informing us to some extent) while his other hand, wreaks havoc on our Constitution and our semblance of a democracy.
Here’s a different perspective on the big picture if you care to expand your understanding? I dissected this book years ago & it gave me great comfort in its reassurance that I wasn’t crazy. https://thesunmagazine.org/issues/487/em-from-em-br-we-ve-had-a-hundred-years-of-psychotherapy-an
—Rob DeLoss, Trinidad, CA (a couple of weeks before escape from this phony paradise of wanna-be hippies) April 16, 2019
Yeah, you can dismiss me & my worries with trite comments like; We haven’t blown ourselves up yet but, the simple reality that we have come within seconds of nuclear exchange many times over the course of my life (1952 to the present) shouldn’t give any rational human being any comfort i.e. it’s mostly been due to sheer dumb luck.