Sunday, June 14, 2015

Three stray reflections on money and justice

  1. My wife and I were recently reminded of a family member who used to spend all his time at a posh country club in a major Colombian city, despite not having much money himself.  I assume that he felt he was entitled to feel special, to live among luxury, despite his humble pedigree.  The problem is that his entire family had to live as slaves to his pretensions, working hard to support his expensive habits while he refused to work.  I feel that sometimes in the US, struggles for justice for an individual or an entire community devolve a bit into thinking similar to this family member's.  "My oppression has consisted in keeping me away from luxury, so overcoming this oppression would mean bringing me into the exclusive folds of luxury."  The problem is that this is not justice; it's just changing or broadening the group of those who exclude others.  True justice consists not in my accessing an elite circle I was heretofore excluded from, but rather in tearing down inherently exlusionary institutions.  Not just scholarships to the country club, but rather universal access to it.  Which of course would convert it from a posh country club into just a nicely-manicured public park.
  2. A friend of my daughter's recently declared that his main interest is in making money.  I can understand this; I want and need money to live relatively comfortably, and I do what I can to get money.  But despite having a pretty nice job, a few sage investments, and even inheritances from my family, I would not consider myself very prosperous economically.  We often struggle just to pay for the basics like housing, food, and medical care.  If I only desired and defined myself by the money I make, I'd be pretty miserable, because I'd have to consider myself mediocre in that respect.  Luckily, I find my joy in my family, my work, my beliefs, the books and music and sights I experience.  I hope that the young man who says he only is interested in money broadens his horizons, because otherwise he is bound for failure and disappointment, especially as US society becomes every-more unjust and feudal.
  3. A few months ago I visited El Salvador, as I detailed in a long blog.  One thing I forgot to mention in that blog was that, while visiting the San Salvador zoo, I came across a group of young children that were visiting the zoo as part of a Young Pioneer day camp, run by the Communist Youth of El Salvador or something.  It was funny to see a bunch of young kids with their matching daycamp T shirts, and with young camp counselors keeping order, but they all had a red star and sickle on the front of the T shirt, and a quote from Lenin on the back!

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