It may seem obvious that human conflict throughout history has been caused at least in large part by tensions around resources. For those who cannot see this dynamic, I may have no words, but I feel inclined to lay out some diagnosis and conjecture on the seemingly untouchable topic of a "ceiling of enough," with regard to the seizure and consumption of resources.
I often use an anecdote to describe my realization of the life of the young California 'tech' worker, that is, when I compared my 21-year-old yearly income to that of such a modern worker of 1999 or beyond, my thought exercise therein: To wonder what I could have possibly done with $120K per year at 21. Maybe a success I couldn't find would've been available to me, and if in fact 'You need money to make money,' I could've spent it on technology or further education or consultants or advertising or travel or lawyers that would have facilitated a world that came to know me, thereby lubricating my various endeavors. I have no 2nd chance therein, so I won't know.
In any case, my quest presently is to find (or at least continue to marvel at the lack of) definition and discussion as to what is 'enough.' There is plenty of warm and boiling banters about a growing inequality, so presumably many do think about wealth disparity, and even conspiracies to hold the bulk of the underclasses in sedation with perpetual distraction of many sorts, to suppress real and violent dissent. But I'm not sure I've ever heard anyone, at least with effective megaphone, approach the topic, the topic of 'enough.'
It's clear that "No one will ever vote for a person or stack of legislation that attempts to harness people's worth, with anyone's definition of enough. But, as no stranger to futile endeavor, here I go to mount the task.
I've waxed elsewhere about the dog brain, the gatekeeper on which any higher brain function is attached, and through which all human action is laundered, so I needn't start with describing satisfaction in dogs. Let's begin with Chimps instead.
Take for example a muscular, successful dominant male. After having sex 12 times in a day and eating all the fruits and arms of his enemies he could stomach, he might well lean against a tree trunk. He might then think some time later that he could get up and try to have sex again, to eat another handful of berries or gnaw at yet another femur, but maybe: 'He's good.' for now, he's had enough. Hunh, so we've discovered a definition of enough.
How far the bridge from this relative to our entitled youngster who might buy a Ferrari from Menlo Park Exotic Auto? And do I pick a poor comparison in a 'lucky' dominant chimp, while so many salivating onlookers in the shadows never achieve the satisfaction described? Well, the entitled white men in our midst might be happy to engage in an 'Affirmative Action" should it entail more of their own access to non-transactional sex partners of their choice. In other words, can equilibrium of opportunity be a two-way street? There are more questions also; no wonder no one wants to talk about it, even those who don't say: "What's wrong with making money?"
So there's a steep hill to climb to negotiate two factors at the heart of this: 1) To make modern man realize what is important in life, and what is extraneous excess which does nothing but waste resources that seem to need consumption or risk fortunes unspent and 2) To describe in ledger, the rather longer list of desires that modern man may hold as necessity, the quandary of needs and wants that would bewilder the previous apes; to explain to modern man that everything from leisure time to race cars to multiple vacation homes to philanthropy cocktail parties are purely delusions of grandeur, and a waste.
I'm willing to supply a few concessions. If for no other reason to avoid at least some rebuttal, in which one might easily go on about working hard and deserving something of the good life in return, be it daily ice cream, a vacation home, pick your hobby or vice. And yes, we would apply our theory first to the top, those individuals in a realm above, those who's crop cream blows off in droplets called philanthropy, in a process that the status quo calls a solution. In other words, most in amerika will likely pull a gun on anyone who suggests that an enough of which I speak involves the degradation of their amerikan dream. And it's not for me to say what is a want or a need or an necessity. I confess that I do have an opinion about it.
But it depends what is at stake. The tree hugger among us might suggest modern human consumption is in fact cause for alarm, restrictions, revolutions, and that death come us all in short order. The techno-euphorics may embrace a journey to a distant star on which their DNA might sustain after 50,000 years of stasis or generational turnover aboard the rocket going there. The anarchist might find the tug of war among human dogs, tearing at resources, a perfectly just plan to concentrate and determine the fittest among us worthy of continued life. And the young and durable may have no issue with a humanness digitized, calculated and placed in chips in their own bodies or those of automatons they or Amazon might build, consider this an acceptable way to live on or die.
In any case, there is no nominal amount of resources in these thinkings. What is anywhere at any given moment has a quantity known or unknown and what is consumed is via the given mouths outstretched. There is no important calculation or just figure that should be preserved. If we conserve, are we conservative, conservators, and for what are we conserving? There is talk of preserving things for future generations. But how can this slip from anyone who is not even sub-consciously aware that they themselves are living with enough, lest they really become martyrs. Not so unusual for a parent, who may have varying opinions about what a child deserves by merely being a new branch. And while negotiating in one's own mind as to how much of the good life one firstly feels entitled to, and then secondly what love for one's span translates to, a sufficient head start, adequate capital advanced to the next generation to keep them above water as they learn to swim. Clearly some parents have little requirement that the next leaves grow green on their own accord.
Are we really just discussing the inherent dynamic in a growing standard of living and something of a tipping point - a provocation of avalanche brought to reality by the success (or pending doom depending on one's perspective) of the species? In other words, we have out grown the satisfactions of the ape, and we have more complex interests. Do we really? We may like the idea, but it thin border between obsessive tweaking and great achievement born of intense effort, concentration and ambition. No, no, no, such great things man has born, such immense intellect, from flight to symphony to heart surgery to Hiroshima.
I suppose I must suggest that this has little to do with spiritual vacancy. But not in the trite way that the great man with his success, his grandeur that he dreams will be recorded in a sustained history; and in reality he wishes for just some redeeming ray of pure love in which to bask, like a cat in the morning sun. No, I mean that when the reporter asked Mick Jagger if he was indeed 'satisfied' (upon the dramatic sales of his record involving "I can't get no…") though he replied in the affirmative, he wasn't thinking that he had either saved mankind with his accomplishments or hadn't received in return enough compensation. The reporter, seemingly envious of the young women like gnats, had a limited scope in his question. And Mr. Jagger did indeed now have access, after record company profits and expenses, to resources at which most of us would marvel. So henceforth he would have all he could ever want, certainly ever need, he is become ape alpha. I guess the question is: Did his airplanes and his real estate, his assistants and his pet projects (I confess I know nothing of how the man distributed his wealth) - did his success bring him better orgasm, better gastronomic experiences, give him more time or inspiration or focus, to construct his cultural contributions?
A friend of mine years ago, while exploring the possibilities of her world in an expensive art school, made some very simple stickers she distributed which read: "Consider what you need." I remember looking at the one she gave me that I placed on the back of a motorcycle helmet and thinking it so simple and perfect, such that I thought I might be missing her point. But I came to find myself disobeying its command even though I thought it vastly important. And further what marketing would be required to get the whole of humankind to obey the quip?
But there's nothing new about people pursuing things without categorizing needs, simply because things are there or even maybe there, finding something that somehow sparkles magically, even when we only know these objects of desire in lore. Look at how the child falls so easily into want of object, and conversely drops a toy so completely in an instant, on to other perceived gems. And what of the potency of peer influence? Was it De Leon wandering in search of the Fountain of Youth, which as health be the apex of importance this obsession be mildly understandable compared to Coronado wandering in sunburn, looking for golden streets. Are we not talking about addiction?
Whether you think addiction disease or weakness, nonetheless it is no doubt dysfunction. So I drink a little, ok, I drink some, yes daily, but I could stop. It isn't really a problem to be addressed by intervention. I don't know it clear that I have a problem or that I partake in a small indulgence that is actually beneficial, that drink is a poison or a blessing, an addiction or a simple pleasure. I mean, you gotta die of something, and drink helps me with so much, or mostly helps with my anxiety.
Can I support a theory that consumption, or something of a 'destructive' consumption (if that isn't redundant), to reframe the excess after 'enough' has been corralled, a theory in which transcending need to want is merely an addiction born of boredom?
I suppose it's lofty to think people capable of daily or hourly thought exercises to distinguish the need from the want. And it seems likely that most might respond with shrug, unwilling to concede that such discipline is required in life; why be so stiff, lighten up, live a little, don't be such a bummer. You're all too rigid. Most people don't really consume that much, and even if a reasonable quantity be defined, you expect them to deny themselves and their children the pleasures within their reach? And to long and check the lengths of their arms to dream, and calculate things that are just out of reach and beyond is all too tempting. They will reach like baby for the keys or the dog for the cooling counter cake. Does the alcoholic climb on the wagon when the doctor tells him death be in the next whiskey bar? Maybe, on occasion.
Is this about the climate alarmist or his ilk, charged with generating the right sort of alarm, to get a majority to care about the width of their footprints? But the potential catastrophes come in various colors of territorial wrestling, be them called race wars, who's fairy tales are true, or what have you.
The tension between government 'meddling' and a potential regulation of wealth does seem insurmountable. The climate for regulation, at least in amerika is indeed stark. Even if someone knew privately that they would be perfectly satiated with a ceiling, say $250,000 per year, it will sound just too risky to agree to such a cap. What of their children and grandchildren and beyond, we might want to squirrel away more, you know, just in case; never mind the contradiction between the self-made man and inheritance.
A case need be made, not unlike the case made that corporations owe society (for without society they would have no customers, no workers, no roadways and so on), a compelling case describing fairly distributed resources as a means to curb the become death at the hand of hopelessness. Or can this not be seen? Corporate board tables and oval offices alike know very well that complacency in the population is the key to product sales and suppressing dissent. So if it is clear that sedatives and distractions are mandatory components to peace in the streets, to keep the population from thinking about inequality, historical injustice and the ill-gotten gain and vise clutch on resources held by the dominant, with their Golem's foot on the scale… …well, can't we make a fuss that can be heard? Do we have in our theory an Achilles heal or many of them? Where? Can these holes in our argument be plugged?
I do hope that before the last 8 people posture around the last pie, that we can discuss the matter, the matter of 'enough.' Perhaps it's a matter of scale, for though a party of eight can probably be comfortable dividing a pie evenly into 8 slices, on the last day of Armageddon, it may not seem necessary to fight for a larger piece when all is seen to be lost. The question is can the ample gentlemen wake up before it's too late.