My husband asked me this morning why people don’t get more of a break in their lives. I had incidentally Tweeted this morning, “Why isn’t society built around waking up at whatever time feels natural?”
And of course I know why. To those with the money and power, anyone of a lower class is simply a work-horse for them. We are given money to buy comforts and drown ourselves in entertainment for escapism, but we’re only given enough so that we don’t rebel. Otherwise, our dreams and our desires don’t matter.
We work and work and work, whenever those in power want us to, for however long they want us to, at the locations they want us to, in industries they want us to, and that’s why they keep us around. They need laborers, they need a mass of us, because they’re certainly not going to do it themselves. And if we don’t work, well, we get to be homeless and starve. We don’t have the option to just not work.
We’re only kept around so that we can labor (to make money for those in power), and so that we can consume (to make money for those in power.)
Our school system in America is broken, but so many of our systems are. The system isn’t built around educating children in the most effective or engaging way, it isn’t about inspiring or empowering the kids. It’s about training them from a young age to give up their days to a monotonous and torturous routine so that they’re prepared to do the same throughout their adulthood.
And even then, those in power want to suck all the value out of any public service we have. Even then, they’ll sabotage our schools so that private schools are the only option – if you have money. They’ll profit off of education, creating new tech and software and licensing it to schools, creating proprietary content where you rent digital textbooks for the same price as buying an old physical copy that you can use forever. So much good could be done with educational technology, but it’s becoming more and more closed up, built for making a profit by making promises that can’t really be tested because it’s proprietary. Even if it works to some extent, it’s not going to be as effective as anything Public; anything Free or Open Source.
Our justice system in America is broken. It’s not about rehabilitating people who need help. It’s about making money by building a cheap labor workforce, and making money by charging the government to house criminals in private institutions. It’s about cutting corners in every way because “they’re criminals, they don’t deserve things”. It’s about dehumanizing others so that society as a whole is OK with this defacto slave labor.
And when a person gets out of prison, they’re still screwed. And our society acts like it’s okay for someone to lose all rights and opportunities for the rest of their lives for any kind of mistake made previously.
Our housing system in America is broken. We require large sums of money to prove to banks that we can make regular payments on property, in order to get to pay for (usually) a lower monthly amount than what rent would be. Even if you could prove that you can pay the basic bills, the banks can still deny you, and have historically discriminated against Black people, preventing them from building the same wealth over generations as white people.
Even if a bank will give you a loan it knows you can’t afford, it will make money off you like they did, causing the situation leading up to the 2008 recession.
And when we are losing jobs and have to leave our homes, companies swoop in and buy up the cheap properties, don’t care for the properties, and rent it out. They find excuses to keep deposits, or to evict people when it means more money for them. Tenant complaining about bugs? Easier to evict them than to treat the property.
Our insurance system in America is broken. We all pay into these companies monthly, on the off chance that we may eventually need that money back – for car wrecks, for medical bills, for our lives, etc. And they’re going to keep hold of that money as tightly as possible, and it is completely fine for them to deny procedures and services. They get to make the rules of how our money is used. (So do banks. Why do they need to charge me a fee for not having enough money in my account?)
Everything is built around making money off of you. They want you to be a consumer, and they give you money only so that you can buy small luxuries in exchange for your life. Maybe you’ll get to retire – maybe you won’t – because everything of value that we have they want to suck dry. Bits and pieces, they keep chipping off any support system we have. And by doing so, they also indirectly make money by making us too desperate to pursue other options.
We don’t have the option to just go live in a rudimentary structure somewhere and try to be self-sufficient — all of the land is owned, we cannot exist anywhere without paying money for the privilege. You sleep by a building for shelter from the weather? It’s easier for them to put metal spikes along the perimeter than to actually help you.
“But if everybody got to live for free, why would anyone work?”
We would continue working, but we would truly get the option of choosing our work. Whenever there’s a need for something, somebody is bound to gravitate towards that. And, not everything we have in our society is needed.
How many jobs are truly useless? What’s the point of multiple companies creating competing software if there weren’t that incentive to profit off the software? (What if we all built up a good system together, so we wouldn’t have to always be reinventing the wheel?)
We would still work, but we would no longer be work-horses for those in power. If we chose how we would help each other and our society, we would build support systems that would make us even more independent.
Society isn’t built around our happiness because we’re not the important ones; society is built around the happiness of those in power, and we are all just the worker ants that they exploit. We don’t truly matter to them, and we’re only given what we have to keep us barely happy enough – barely hopeful enough for a better future – to keep us from overthrowing the system.