Why the politics of envy are keenest among the very rich?
'Essential public services are cut in order that the wealthy may pay less tax.
But even their baubles don't make them happy.'
The Politics of Envy (YouTube)
How Much Is Enough? What is money and wealth for? Why do we as individuals and societies go on wanting more? What is economic growth for? Can we/ should we carry on just growing, creating, producing, consuming,…,more and more, for ever more? Do we need to satisfy our wants or look after our needs? Should we be a “maximiser” or “satisfier” and choose the path of “enoughness”? Then, what is a good life? What are the main ingredients of a good, happy and peaceful life? Should we move away from Gross National Product (GDP) to Gross National Happiness?
In short, is the incessant quest for higher incomes and faster growth robbing us of the good life rather than helping us to attain it? And, in the end, what adjustments in our moral and economic system would be needed to realize change?
"Capitalism rests precisely on this endless expansion of wants. That is why, for all its success, it remains so unloved. It has given us wealth beyond measure, but has taken away the chief benefit of wealth: the consciousness of having enough ... The vanishing of all intrinsic ends leaves us with only two options: to be ahead or to be behind. Positional struggle is our fate."- Robert and Edward Skidelsky
'Saudi Prince Alwaleed is said to have been near tears when Forbes reported his wealth at £7bn less than he calculated it.'
Photo: Ahmed Jadallah/Reuters/The Guardian
“Never mind that he has his own 747, in which he sits on a throne during flights. Never mind that his "main palace" has 420 rooms. Never mind that he possesses his own private amusement park and zoo – and, he claims, $700m worth of jewels. Never mind that he's the richest man in the Arab world, valued by Forbes at $20bn, and has watched his wealth increase by $2bn in the past year. None of this is enough. There is no place of arrival, no happy landing, even in a private jumbo jet. The politics of envy are never keener than among the very rich.”
Whilst, David Siegel – "America's timeshare king" – appears to abandon all interest in life as he faces the loss of his crown. He is still worth hundreds of millions. He still has an adoring wife and children. He is still building the biggest private home in America.
But as the sale of the skyscraper that bears his name and symbolises his pre-eminence begins to look inevitable, he sinks into an impenetrable depression. Dead-eyed, he sits alone in his private cinema, obsessively rummaging through the same pieces of paper, as if somewhere among them he can find the key to his restoration, refusing to engage with his family, apparently prepared to ruin himself rather than lose the stupid tower.”
And in order to maintain this bankrupt, immoral, and unhealthy philosophy, whilst continuing “to grant the rich these pleasures, the social contract is reconfigured. The welfare state is dismantled. Essential public services are cut so that the rich may pay less tax. The public realm is privatised, the regulations restraining the ultra-wealthy and the companies they control are abandoned, and Edwardian levels of inequality are almost fetishised.
Politicians justify these changes, when not reciting bogus arguments about the deficit, with the incentives for enterprise that they create. Behind that lies the promise or the hint that we will all be happier and more satisfied as a result. But this mindless, meaningless accumulation cannot satisfy even its beneficiaries, except perhaps – and temporarily – the man wobbling on the very top of the pile.”
Can we not rise above all these lies and naked exploitation? We, the masses, must rise: enough is enough. Let me be happy. Let me be content. I have enough. Thank you.