Posted by Prodigeek
(This post sprang out of comment posted on the blog of a lovely couple I know, which you should read for context)
I myself came to the same epiphany a few months back. I was thinking about technology and how we’ve had so much advancement in technologies that are designed to simplify and speed up many of our tasks.. and yet we’re busy as ever. Then it occurred to me how markets always re-balance (if you can call it balance) by means of competition.
So for example, if everyone suddenly has a new dishwasher giving them more time and energy in the evening, these can become more resources which some will put towards competing in the job market. If not with hours of work, it will go toward more education. Sounds fine, even natural doesn’t it?
Except that the more educated people there are for a particular job, the more it gives employers the advantage to be selective and choose those who are most willing to put themselves out and further degrade their quality of life. We convert this concept and couple it to a righteous emotion, summed up with the descriptor “hard working”. This can be in terms of working more hours, taking on more stress and even taking less pay. It’s not only a theory that for some people. For some, life has become a death march.
Some people are working so many hours, or with so much pressure/health issues/etc that they are losing their faculties, their health, and especially their children in the process.
It becomes exceedingly difficult to nurture your children in such circumstance, and we can see all too readily the social breakdown around us or in our own lives. We can scoff at the “bad parents” who neglect their children, and while there is such a thing as personal responsibility, everything has a cause and in this case it’s a systemic one. People don’t just randomly “go bad”.
Regardless or conscious design or not, this is where religion has the effect of glossing over these systemic flaws and turning our thoughts to moral conjecture in place of investigation and understanding. People are behaving immorally, so they must either convert to the very dogma that serves to undermine them, or be judged and written off. It also helps to keep us unaware. It gives us a sense that if we’re doing well, we’ve earned it, and that if we’re not it’s purely our own responsibility. It blinds us to the myriad of factors that may have benefited us; from our birth into our parents’ socio-economic status to the invisible benefits of our racial identity, religious identity, gender identity, mental health, physical health and everything that those things have afforded us.
Just to be clear, I’m not suggesting that there’s a one to one relation where religion tells us that poor people are bad. In fact it may tell us that they are blessed. It also tells them not to complain or get too angry. More importantly though, it turns our social and ideological lenses into a binary scope of good or bad where everything is framed in terms of the relative morality of individuals. Even those who have divorced themselves of religion tend to retain this framework. I could go on and on with other intersecting issues and ideas, but I digress.
So in this way what really happens is not “trickle down” of wealth, but instead it’s people’s lifeblood and effort (which is essentially what money represents) trickling up to those with the means to create demand through their actions in the pursuit of wealth (greed). This is the true nature of the “magic hand” of capitalism. All of us, even those in the 1%, seem driven blindly along with dogmatic ideas that don’t lead us into happiness or fulfillment , or even match reality.
Again, it’s so nice to know people who understand! 😀
I applaud you!