The following post was prompted by the “Real Time” segment from HBO and linked through YouTube:
Let me say from the outset here that I have enjoyed Bill Maher's work, both as a stand up comedienne, as well as a social commentator. And what he has done with “Real Time” over the years has always been interesting and thought provoking, even if you don't agree with his personal opinions. Which is, of course, where I segue into another aspect of what he espouses that I must take issue with.
On the March 3, 2105 installment of “Real Time,” in the opening comments of introducing John Ridley he makes a statement on money that is quite hard to take from someone like myself who abhors the system that depends on it. I'm getting ahead of myself, though, so let step back and provide some context.
John Ridley is, as most of you already know, the Oscar winning screen writer of the movie “Twelve Years a Slave,” and who now is screen writing, and directing “American Crime” for ABC; a series that, as Mr. Maher emphasizes, tries to look deeper into, and humanize, the greater complexities of why crime happens in America. In particular, though Mr. Ridley makes a very good reference to how poverty reinforces the self perpetuating cycle of how crime and imprisonment act together to make it very difficult for a person to work their way out of it, the discussion quickly focuses on the town of Ferguson and how a nearly all white police force used petty infraction harassment of blacks as an income generator.
What is interesting to me in these sorts of discussions with well intentioned Liberals (and the one moderate sounding Republican from the Heritage foundation) is how they can claim moral high ground in denouncing these kinds of overt racism without also denouncing the fundamental aspects of the power structure that makes it possible. And here even Mr. Maher intimates at one aspect of what makes that system so contradictory: that nobody wants to pay taxes anymore, even, one would assume, as they all want every benefit government can provide them.
It gets even more interesting when you Google Mr. Maher's view on paying taxes. As this article in “Real Clear Politics” indicated:
“To the list of liberals who vote for higher taxes -- and then proceed to complain about them -- add comedian Bill Maher.
Incredibly, the caustic, left-wing Maher recently warned, "ln California, I just want to say: Liberals -- you could actually lose me." As a resident of California, a state with high income taxes, Maher complained that his taxes are "over 50 percent." What's more, Maher made a point seldom heard except on Fox News or by a rich Parisian. Maher said, "Rich people ... actually do pay the freight in this country ... like 70 percent" of the taxes. (Presumably, Maher meant that the top 10 percent of taxpayers pay about 70.5 percent of the federal income taxes.)...”
This from the guy who said not that long ago:
“...Maher, just two years ago, painted this picture of the filthy, clueless, racist, sexist, homophobic, selfish, greedy rich:
'America's rich aren't giving you money. They are taking your money. Between the years 1980 and 2005, 80 percent of all new income generated in this country went to the richest 1 percent. Let me put that in terms that even you fat-ass tea-baggers, sorry, can understand. Say 100 Americans get together and order a 100-slice pizza. The pizza arrives, they open the box, and the first guy takes 80 slices. And if someone suggests, 'Why don't you just take 79 slices?' -- that's socialism! ...
'We have this fantasy that our interests and the interests of the super-rich are the same, like somehow the rich will eventually get so full that they'll explode, and the candy will rain down on the rest of us, like they're some kind of pinata of benevolence. But here's the thing about a pinata -- it doesn't open on its own; you have to beat it with a stick.' ...”
Yes, beat it open with a stick, assuming you can afford one big enough. Also assuming you haven't become a, even small time, pinata yourself.
I need to circle back now and state the original comment that Mr. Maher made at the beginning of his talk with Mr. Ridley. This statement was made as a (admittedly what might have been a semi attempt of off the cuff humor) response to Mr. Ridley explaining why he had no problem with ABC making money off of his show if it allowed people of color a chance to be portrayed properly in front of the camera, as well as to contribute significantly behind the camera.
In response, at about the 1.41 mark in the YouTube video, Mr. Maher says “We all love money. We're Americans and there is nothing wrong with that. Nothing wrong with loving money...”
And to be clear, Mr Ridley interposes the disclaimer “...Unless it is a police department making money...” To which Mr. Maher replies “..We're going to get to that...”
However off the cuff that remark may have been you still have to wonder about it. Do Americans really love money? One could certainly assume they love to be able to provide for themselves and their children. To be reasonably secure in house and health, while perusing both practical and free time endeavors. Knowing, at least on some level, that real contentment comes from the best balance of getting and having, with the least amount of material things one can manage.
If you think of money as a drug however, which is not so unreasonable, isn't it also reasonable to assume that it is mostly the addicted who come to love it? To crave ever more of it? After all, isn't it only after you have had a chance to main line on its true power that you really get the materialistic monkey on your back?
More importantly, however, is the fact that, for the 0.1 percent of Americans who own virtually everything, and who's power is based almost completely on the leverage that this electrified experience translator provides, get to have things their way; whether that means a generalized continuance with racism (the dispossessed are not only great for war machine cannon fodder, but they make for a lovely scapegoat at home to keep the mainly, to moderately dispossessed, in line), a perpetual war economy, or whatever kind of poisoning for profit you want to shake a fracking stick at, hardly matters. They will buy the government they want, with the laws passed to suit them, and an ever more authoritarian policing apparatus to keep what they value safe.
The only stick that's going to stop money pinatas from forming in the first place is to recognize that the present economic model is no longer valid, and has not been for quite some time. It was never intended, after all, for an electrified environment of skill retrieval, where human skill no longer works very well at all as a commodity.
Capitalism is obsolete. It is time for an alternative and pseudo liberals like Mr Maher ought to be thinking long and hard on addressing the addiction they share with Republicans on that score. It simply cannot be maintained.
This link from Salon would seem to indicate that once you do get a very large sum of money your view of it, and the desire to keep it changes quite significantly. For my part this would also seem to indicate that money is a drug to be avoided.