What does it mean to be free?
Buy, buy, buy. Spend, spend, spend. Market, market, market. Buy, buy, buy. Spend, spend, spend. It is never ending and creates stress, stress, and more stress. And debt, debt, debt, and more debt. And more stress, stress, stress, and more stress. Because we humans can become addicted and enticed to buy stuff, the economic system and uber-capitalism continue to exist, and will continue to exist unless one can build the mindfulness, awareness, and self-restraint to control spending. As Bernie Sanders eloquently offers,
The very existence of a rapidly expanding billionaire class in the United States is a manifestation of an unjust system that promotes massive income and wealth inequality. In this system, the people on top enjoy lives of extraordinary privilege. They possess more of the planet’s largesse than they could burn through in a thousand lifetimes. No luxury is beyond their reach. They are so phenomenally rich that they can spend their fortunes buying “experiences”— like a rocket trip beyond Earth’s atmosphere. While an exceptionally wealthy few wallow in affluence and become exponentially richer with each passing day, the majority of Americans live lives of quiet desperation. They’re not scheming to pay for trips to outer space. They’re struggling to pay for the necessities of life here on earth…The very existence of billionaires is not just about who has the money and who doesn’t. It is also a manifestation of a corrupt political system, in which immense power over the lives of a great mass of Americans is concentrated in the hands of a small number of people who—through campaign finance arrangements that only be described as bribery—buy control of our elections and the policies that extend from them…There are the Wall Street investors and corporate CEOs who determine whether jobs will stay in this country or go abroad, what kind of incomes working people will earn, and what the price of gas, prescription drugs, and food will be. And while these oligarchs exert enormous influence over our lives, ordinary people have virtually no power, or even the concept of power, in shaping the future of the country. They lack the institutions to exert influence, and they’re too busy just trying to survive…There is something profoundly wrong…when massive corporations, controlled by the wealthiest people on earth, lie, cheat, bribe, and steal in order to make profits that are funded by the destruction of lives, our environment, and our democracy…This country has reached a point in its history where it must determine whether we truly embrace the inspiring words in our Declaration of Independence, “that all men are created equal” and “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.” Or do we simply accept that we will continue to be ruled by a small number of extremely wealthy and powerful people who are motivated by greed and could care less for the general welfare?…Under uber-capitalism, where the rich and the powerful make the laws and shape the culture, their behavior is rarely if ever considered to be illegal—let alone punishable. (It’s OK to be Angry about Capitalism, 97-100, 108)
And these rich folks pay politicians for policies that facilitate economic systems that maintain their “the gold is mine rule,” and lying, cheating, and stealing are OK if you can get away with it. As 2024 campaigns are rolled out, we have a great deal to get done. Whether you are Democrat, Republican, Independent, Red Stater or Blue Stater, or do not care, let’s select folks who have clear programs for change and evolution for generations to come: get money out of politics; guarantee voting rights; make the Constitution relevant to the twenty-first century; abolish the electoral college; rethink the United States Senate—states with more folks = more Senators; re-think the United States Supreme Court—unacceptable and anti-democratic that a handful of unelected lifetime appointees exert the kind of political power they do; revitalize American media—increase funding for public, non-partisan, non-profit media at the national, state, and local levels; end all forms of bigotry—racism, anti-immigrant xenophobia, sexism, homophobia, and other forms of bigotry; treat workers’ rights as human rights; democratize the future of work—Technology can have positive and negative impacts…ensure that workers-not just tech-company CEOs-enjoy the benefits of progress; healthcare is a human right… Medicare for All; a new business model for the pharmaceutical industry—industry that is 100 percent engaged in research and development to discover…cures, not one that spends billions on lobbying, campaign contributions, and advertising in order to maintain huge profits and CEO compensation packages; protect our children—paid family and medical leave…classrooms are not crowded and teachers are properly paid; protect the elderly and disabled; increase Social Security benefits; provide affordable housing for all; break up monopolies; make billionaires pay their taxes; save the planet; and change the Democratic Party from being a corporately dominated party to a working-class party fighting for change—attract young people and regain support of the working-class. (Bernie Sanders, 2023, It’s OK to be Angry about Capitalism, 267-278)
Again, whether Democrat, Republican, Independent, Red State or Blue State, or do not care, this is America. Let freedom ring loud and clear!! Lots of work to do!