A Sufficiency

I went to see the movie Elysium Friday. It’s set in the future on an earth devastated by poverty, overcrowding, and environmental degradation. The wealthy have moved off-earth, to a lavish colony called Elysium.

Elysium

Mick LaSalle, the San Francisco Chronicle’s movie reviewer says if people in the future want to see what we worried about in 2013, watch this movie.

It’s not about other people blowing us up—It’s inequality—a world where the one percent is so wealthy and isolated, they never have to see a poor person. A world very much like our own, except our rich isolate themselves in gated communities, on private islands and private jets.

Robert Reich, in his weekly column in the Chronicle, says corporations want high unemployment. It keeps us scared, makes us glad for whatever work we can get for whatever wage. The median wage is 4% lower than at the start of the recovery. Corporate profits boom because costs are down.

Back in the 70s, we studied Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which looked like this:

Maslows-Hierarchy-of-Needs

If the majority of people are kept at the bottom, scrabbling for a living, they (and their children) won’t have the energy or the vision to climb.

There is abundance, scarcity and sufficiency. Sufficiency defined as enough plus a little bit more.

That’s what we should work toward: a country (and a planet) where everyone has enough and no one hogs it all.

9 responses »

  1. I’ve been thinking about this ever since the Oprah story broke. The press is all over ‘racism in Switzerland’ and that may well be what happened. It’s appalling on any level, anywhere, but that’s not what got my attention. The purse she wanted to buy for Tina Turner cost $36,000. Does that bother anyone else? I don’t watch day-time TV, but I think of Oprah as a person kind of in touch with the ‘common man.’ Able to bring herself and her audience to tears over the injustices the world deals out. Who might, if she wanted to buy a nice gift for a friend with everything, still would not consider spending $36,000 for a freaking purse. Racism is appalling, so is that kind of wealth.

    Reply
    • I agree. I was horrified. They say power (and I presume–wealth) lessens empathy. Oprah evidently didn’t even consider how the price of that purse would sound. N.

      Reply
      • unconscionable – in a word, describes the rich and their skewed view of value. How many children could she have fed with the money instead?

  2. Good post Norma. And good comment Ginny.

    Reply
  3. Generally society and popular culture idolizes and worships the accumulation of wealth and material possessions, and it is the driving force behind the accepted mindset that defines the collective perception of “success” that is shared across the entire socio-economic spectrum. All the rewards are there for those who strive toward a goal of overindulgence in their own self-interest.

    A greater sense of purpose would be required to change the value of our achievements where we globally redefine attitudes such that the measure of reward to any person is quantified, not just qualified, by their service to others. In my humble opinion, besides the ever present resistance to change, I see nothing resembling this sort of vision within any contemporary institution, leadership, or culture.

    Reply
  4. I was in San Francisco over the weekend and wandered into the America’s Cup events. Moored at one section of a pier were about a dozen huge sailboats, each one larger than my house. The biggest one was at least 10,000 square feet and absolutely pristine. My shock at this display of wealth was intensified by the thought that people who can afford these types of yachts probably have more than one massive house.
    A few blocks away, and scattered throughout San Francisco, scores of homeless people roam the street begging for spare change.

    Reply
  5. There’s a hard rain that’s gonna fall.

    Reply
  6. I fear that it’s our human nature to be greedy and to oppress our fellow man. Look at the animal kingdom; they have their prey and predators. Despite Shakespeare and Jesus Christ etc. we are still animals. During my 75 years on this planet I have witnessed only a few glimmers of hope. I wish change comes peacefully, but I doubt it.

    Reply
  7. Rachel in California

    I completely agree with the conclusion–“There is abundance, scarcity and sufficiency. Sufficiency defined as enough plus a little bit more. That’s what we should work toward: a country (and a planet) where everyone has enough and no one hogs it all.”

    Yet I find the Maslow theory inaccurate as well as disempowering. It is simply not the case that “If the majority of people are kept at the bottom, scrabbling for a living, they (and their children) won’t have the energy or the vision to climb.” Among us scrabblers I have seen so much creativity, morality, courage, acceptance of what is right along with purpose and determination to make a difference–so much bigger and more meaningful than the vapid “creativity” of the wealthy and their hangers-on. Actualization, making it real, is for everyone, whether they have abundance, sufficiency or scarcity.

    Reply

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