The 1% are comprised of a disproportionate share of sociopaths who will only relent their current pursuit of total profit, privilege and power if (1) they perceive it to be in their self-interest, or (2) they are introduced to Monsieur Guillotine. Justice favors for the latter.
In pursuit of this discussion, allow me to introduce Joseph E. Stiglitz and Dr. Martha Stout.
Stiglitz is the former Chief Economist of the World Bank, recipient of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, and a professor at Columbia University.
My own talents lie in the area of political activism and commentary. I’ve been an international journalist, a criminal defense and civil plaintiff investigator (17 years), a prisoner (25+ years), and hold a doctorate in psychology (PsyD).
Stiglitz argues that even from the system’s own logic today’s 1% v. 99% disparity is not sustainable. The population of the US is currently 312 million. The six heirs of the Walton family, for instance, possess some $90 billion, which is more than the combined wealth of the bottom 100 million Americans, 30% of the US population…and growing worse.
Stiglitz notes that as they increase and horde their wealth, they’re undermining the very engine that drives growth and prosperity. Their nest might be quite luxurious for the moment, but they’re destroying the tree beneath them, not to speak of the fertile ground it grows upon.
One of the central economic engines is consumption; without average household spending (which is what the rest of us do with our incomes) the American economy would soon collapse.
Less spending equals less employment and the cycle grows. The more the nation is impoverished by the deliberate designs of the mad-hatter conservative ideologues, the less likely is the public treasury able to sustain the growing Ponzi schemes of the rich.
Rent-seeking, another engine of the economy that Stiglitz points out, is defined in capital society under a vast variety of incomes by virtue of ownership and speculation.
“The financial sector has accounted for some 40% of all corporate profits,” Stiglitz writes, but “the financial industry…functions as a market in speculation,” which grows and produces nothing. They’re schemes for the redistribution of wealth…upwards, of course.
Stiglitz counsels the parasites of profit, like Henry Ford who innovated $5-workdays thus allowing workers to afford his product, and FDR (“a purebred patrician”) who saved capitalism from itself thru taxation, regulation and social programs, that “there would be no top of the pyramid if there wasn’t a solid base.”
Even Richard Nixon, an icon of conservatism, had enough sense to invest in Medicare, Head Start, Social Security and regulations for clean air and water.
Stiglitz advises the 1% to “be selfish”: Indeed, support raising their own taxes thus “investing in education, public works, health care, and science”…in fact, their own wealth and survival. Fat chance they’ll listen.
Dr. Martha Stout is from a different discipline. She notes that 1 in 25 Americans are sociopaths. That’s 4% of the population.
In my experience in more than a dozen US prisons over 20+ years I would estimate the same percentage. One might logically think that the incarcerated percentage would be higher. It’s not.
In fact, the higher one goes in the authoritative professions, including “criminal justice” and conservative politics, the higher the percentage of sociopaths attracted to the position. Much as predatory criminals who survive getting a felony record are attracted to police work.
Most standard criminal psychopaths actually avoid prison—or at least lengthy sentences—by “cooperating” with their non-felon, sociopathic state partners. Some 97% of prisoners did not go to trial; the sharks gave up the remora, so to speak.
The vast majority of prisoners in the American gulag are not predatory criminals. They’ve been convicted by one means or another of public offenses mostly coming under the rubric of consensual “crimes.”
Modern psychology prefers the term psychopath. I use the term sociopath, as does Dr. Stout, when I denote a psychopath who is specifically operating in a social capacity.
In her book noted above, Dr. Stout defines a sociopath as one having no conscience, no ability to feel shame, empathy, guilt or remorse.
Their social emotions are a sham. They crave personal stimulation and excitement, usually at the expense of others. They show short-lived intense enthusiasms and encourage others to take risks. In fact, they live to dominate others and win at all costs.
Six-out-of-10 people tend to blindly obey any authority figure. This was first noted in Dr. Stanley Milgram’s obedience experiments at Yale University (1965+).
Dr. Stout offers a concise interview at BookBrowse.com on how to spot sociopaths and how to avoid them. Certainly one of her central suggestions is to always question authority.
Since it’s my humble opinion that some cosmic storm somewhere destroyed the habitat where many of these predators usually reside, they’ve been cut loose on the rest of us.
I suppose it will literally take a revolution to lock their asses back up…