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Sunday, June 23, 2024

It's Not "Woke" We Need to Worry About

“The Woke Mind Virus Is Either Defeated Or Nothing Else Matters” (Elon Musk)

Like many in the rarified air of insane wealth and matching egos, Mr. Musk has railed against what he refers to as "woke", for all intensive purposes describing it as the thing we should be most worried about these days.  That's laughable.  Read on.

(Not So) Shockingly, I strongly disagree.  In fact, I think talk about "woke" really serves as a kind of air-cover for folks like the Emerald Mine Man-child.  A kind of "Don't look there...look over can't even call someone with a cognitive disability a r****d anymore!  Those bastards!".  Politicians of some ilk love talking about it as well, as it's easier to rail against "woke" than it is to explain why every other developed nation on Earth doesn't have personal bankruptcy due to medical bills.  "Woke" is a simple word, conveniently spoken, inspiring of anger and benefiting from not really having to be explained.  Politicians do love a good slogan.

Side Note:  It may surprise some to learn that I do think that sometimes we are a bit too sensitive in this country when it comes to language and certain topics.  An example occurred when, once, I was trying to make a point about racism in a threaded discussion and I referred to the antiquated term "negros" (specifically used in quotes) as something racists would say.  Someone in that discussion literally had a fit over it, as even by using the mere word in the context of providing an example of racism somehow made me a racist by proxy.  Forget the fact that this person didn't know me (and how/where I grew up) and was literally missing the forest from the trees.   Anyway, my personal line in the sand is that my/your/our convenience of language doesn't overrule someone else's right to be treated in a respectful manner.  This is a lesson I try very hard to live by myself and worked to teach it to my daughters as well.

So, if it's not "Woke" that we need to worry about then what's left?  I propose the following:  Greed.  As in the love of, and constant desire to accumulate wealth.

Taking a step back for a moment, what kind of society believes that it's perfectly okay for some to have so much money that they can have an elevator for their cars while others literally have to worry about having enough to eat?  Ours.  Granted that it's not all of us, and I will note right off the bat...'s not greed to be successful at what you do's not greed to want to live in a nice house's not greed to live in a safe neighborhood's not greed to drive a vehicle that is reliable's not greed to have enough money to have well-made clothes's not greed to have more than enough to eat

...what I am talking about, and what I am convinced is what ails our society is the mentality of "greed is good".  In fact, I'll say this:  Accumulating wealth over and above a certain level is a sign of societal decay, where that "certain" level is the point where you have more than anyone could ever possibly and actually need.  Sadly enough, it's some of the religious among us that are the worst offenders.  For example, for a few years, I would listen to a very conservative Catholic radio station (affiliated with EWTN, via FM and satellite radio), and one of their favorite retorts about the glorification and justification for greed...spoken in reference to the defense of "God-given Capitalism" (their reference, not mine)...was the Gospel of Mark*, Chapter 14, verse 7:  "The poor you will always have with you".  This is, in effect, basically another example of providing air-cover for unbridled wealth, as in "Hey there will always be poor people, so the whole billionaire thing is cool." signed God.

And let's not forget the televangelists, who set the gold-standard for hypocrisy about wealth:

(This is the "home" of the Rev. Kenneth Copeland; citation HERE)

By hypocrisy, if someone is a Christian, it's pretty clear that greed and God don't go together all that well.  From the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 6, verse 24:
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money."

I will note that I am not an overly religious person, but if someone is, well, the writing is on the wall.

People will do terrible things in service of their desire to continue to accumulate wealth.  Wars have literally been fought over it, including the American Civil War (where greed was an underlying driver behind slavery).  It's the acknowledgement of a limited amount of resources that forces the greedy and powerful to engineer things like the tax code to favor them over, say, someone who is a welder for a living.  How so?  Well that 22% tax rate that the welder pays takes a hell of a lot more out of their lifestyle than say the 37% that a billionaire in theory may pay.  The "in theory" part here is important because, since the wealthy effectively control the legislative process in this country, they have helped engineer a tax system that insures that they don't end up paying what should be their tax rate.  In fact, according to the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, the average billionaire in the United States pays an effective tax rate of 8.2%.  Citation HERE.

Perpetuating the ultra-wealthy in the United States is effectively what this country is all about.  Dangling the promise of "if you behave, this could be you one day" is the fraud that many perpetuate. "Woke" is just another dodge, another distraction.

What should be done about this?  That's easier said than done, but I will note this:  Billionaires should not exist.  Ever.  If someone reaches the point where they can afford that elevator for their cars, well, maybe they need to be kicking in more to help the least in our society.

Oh, and Elon Musk really does want to talk about woke, as it's a heck of a lot easier than trying to morally justify this...


(*) A note about biblical verses:  I'm not picky when it comes to translations, so if you are a scholar of such things, forgive me in advance if I jump from the Good News Bible to some other one.  I just pick the language that I think reads best for the point I'm trying to make.

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