In his most recent book, Revolution, Russell Brand (actor, comedian, political activist, author) wrote on a number of issues, one of them being how an economy should function and why the current way is incredibly divisive and promoting the kind inequality the world hasn’t seen before. In an interview with Dave DeGraw he gathered these three points for a more equal economic system.
In Switzerland, anyone can get a bill voted on if they get 50,000 signatories. Because of this these referenda have been held:
- Basic income: Give everyone a basic income of twenty grand a year and get rid of all forms of welfare. Welfare carries stigmatization — this policy could address that. They voted against it.
- Maximum wage: CEOs of companies, head honchos, and big cheeses are earning too much money. In America your average CEO (if you can conceive such a being) earns 350 times the average worker’s salary. There should be a cap for top earners, either a ratio, like ten times the lowest-paid member of the workforce, or a figure, say 500,000. The Swiss held a referendum. They voted against it.
- Restrictions on the construction of new places of worship, like mosques. A lot of folk, as you know from the media, are worried about they type of vocal and visual symbols people use when envisaging supreme energy fields from which all other energy fields are derived. The Swiss held a referendum on whether to ban the building of more mosques. They voted against it.
Later on Dave Degraw touched on the problem of consciousness. He says that: “The first step toward evolution and freedom is to get a conscious understanding of the mental prison that we are all bred into. Our consciousness is conditioned from cradle to grave. As the ghost of Goethe whispers in the wind . . . ‘None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free’ ” (137).
In other words, we need to understand that the individual is an illusion. There is the collective and then there is the person that conceives of himself as the ‘self’. But in reality we are all just one huge cell that has evolved into these various different sub-cells. We contemplate and therefore think that we are individual, free, and enlightened.
More recent research has indicated otherwise. The concept of the ‘self’ is easily dismantled and does not hold up against scrutiny. I would like to touch on this more in later blogs, for now I will just mention writers that specialize in these fields and do a magnificient job in defending this position: Sam Harris, Daniel C. Dennett, and Robert Lanza. I especially recommend Robert Lanza’s book Beyond Biocentrism and Sam Harris’ book, Waking Up.
To come back to our topic, Brand illustrates why we need similar referenda: “In the United States, 95 percent of income gains since the recession began have gone to the top .01 percent” (140).
It is not a matter of not having the resources. It is a matter of to whom the resources are going to.
To make matters more disturbing, he brings out this incredibly perplexing statistic: the 400 richest people in the U.S. have as much as 185 million people, over 60 percent of the population. However, the richest 85 people, on a global scale, have as much as 3.5 billion people, half of humanity (140).
76 percent of the U.S. population is living paycheck-to-paycheck. “While U.S. millionaires have $50 trillion in wealth, an all-time record number of people are toiling in poverty, hunger, prison, and severe debt. When you fully grasp the situation, you realize that this is the greatest crime against humanity in the history of civilization” (142).
These are statistics that we have heard about before. The question is what to do with it? I believe first and foremost the problem is in the philosophy of the self. The self does not deserve anything, since happiness is in the collective.
I hope that this introduction to this issue serves as a kind of tip to the contemplative lifestyle that we should embark on as a people. To discuss, dissect, and reflect on these things is my primary goal. Ultimately I’d love for things to change. What a hopeless plea, it seems.
All taken from Revolution, by Russell Brand.