From the great genius cartoonist, Charles Schulz.
Linus (reading from book): “It says here that the world revolves around the sun once a year.
Lucy: “The world revolves around the sun? Are you sure? I thought it revolved around me!”
Self-interest is a given. It’s darn-near impossible for a person to not have concerns about one’s own well-being. Everybody wants to survive with the basic needs of adequate nutrition, shelter, clothing, medical care, etc. For a list of what are considered basic needs, see the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This document was signed in 1948 by 83% of the then-members of the General Assembly with the other 17% abstaining. The United States is a signatory. The document is made up of thirty articles, of which Article 25 includes the following: “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.”
Anything above and beyond these basic needs is gravy. For some, the gravy is a half an inch thick. For some others it’s three feet thick. Most societies have gravy rules. Regulations that redirect some of the gravy for the good of the whole society. They’re called taxes. Monies collected – generally based on the income of the individual or corporation – and rightly applied to structures and programs that benefit the community at large, including caring for those who cannot care for themselves.
It is an observable fact of life that, for the most part, the top-tier gravy-eaters distain limits on their greed. As in the theme of the movie, The Wolf of Wall Street, “more is never enough.” Millionaires and billionaires cannot seem to grasp that their preferred way of organizing life together means depredation and impoverishment for millions of others. Or they simply don’t care.
Lucy’s outlook is that if someone else manages to make it big, good for them. But the primary issue, the meaning of life, the purpose of being is for ME to make it big. And the bigger the better.
In another Peanuts cartoon Sally is writing a school paper with Charlie Brown looking over her shoulder. She writes: “English Theme: The True Meaning of Christmas. To me, Christmas is the joy of getting.” Charlie says, “You mean giving . . . Christmas is the joy of giving.” To which Sally replies, “I don’t have the slightest idea what you’re talking about.”
“I thought the sun revolved around me.” Me, me, me, ME! If the system that supports oligarchs and the politicians that lick their boots is not administered for the good of all, the words of the people, by the people, for the people are devoid of meaning.