Monday, February 1, 2010

Wen Tzu - Verse 144

from Verse One Hundred Forty-Four
Arbitrary rulers are not like developed people. When they come to possess the wealth of a land and occupy the position of rulership, they exhaust the energy of the common people to pander to their own sensual desires. Their minds are preoccupied with palaces, chambers, terraces, ponds, gardens, beasts, rarities, and curios. The poor people starve, while tigers and wolves have their fill of fine food. The farmers freeze in the cold, while the inhabitants of the palaces wear decorated silks.
~ Wen-tzu: Understanding the Mysteries ~
In America, our elected officials in Congress are supposed to be representative of the public. Unfortunately, as reported in Politico in November 2009, 44% are millionaires, while only 1% of the public realizes that much net worth! Even many of the "poor" officials still have a net worth of $500,000 or more.

Consequently, I think it's easy to see why many Americans don't trust them. These officials simply don't understand the struggles of average folks. Their frame of reference is altogether different.

This, in part, explains a lot of the anger and resentment felt by Americans of various political stripes and from all walks of life. They see Congress handing over billions and billions of taxpayer dollars to Wall Street, while unemployment continues to rise and scads more people are losing their homes.

It's as if the tigers and wolves get all the perks, while the masses are left out in the cold to fend for themselves.

This post is part of a series. For an introduction, go here.


  1. This reminds me of something I learned in college. My first two years I was an economics major, and unfortunately my recall is a little fuzzy. XD I had to look it up, but the idea came from a guy called Vilfredo Pareto. It's about two types of leaders, lions and foxes.

    Lions follow ethical principles and try to be fair, but they also preserve the status quo and lack the drive to innovate. Foxes are very innovative and shake a lot of things up, but lack the self-discipline and moral fiber to do so in a way that is meant to help others in the long term.

    Pareto felt that history moved in cycles. Lions would arise in difficult times to pull societies, and economies, together and build up working social systems. These systems, with lions leading them, would build up reserves of capital both economic and intellectual. Foxes would then creep in and take over, improving and changing the existing systems. However both the society's reserves of capital and its overall stability would be destroyed in the process, ultimately precipitating another crisis.

    The best time to be alive as an individual is right at the end of a time of lions, when one's society is at the peak of its resources and the foxes have just begun to take advantage of said resources in new and interesting ways. The worst time to be alive is at the end of a time of foxes, when one's society's resources have been exhausted, its equilibrium shattered, and no new lions have yet arisen to establish a new system.

    If we apply Pareto's ideas to the present, America does seem to be at the abovementioned worst time. XD Yay.

  2. Interesting comment, might also apply to China's dynastic history.

  3. Oh my gosh, TRT, are you OK? You haven't posted since Monday. Now I am worried!

    On other issues, my Windows XP computer is no longer letting me comment with my Wordpress open ID, so I can only comment on your blog when I'm upstairs, on my husband's Mac.

    Yes, the richest are the politicians in the US, and the evangelical Christians are the ones who believe all the BS, unfortunately.

    ** Lorena **


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