Steve McEllistrem

The Devereaux Dilemma

Happily Ever After

Happily Ever After – This is how most children’s books end – and they lived happily ever after. What a cruel punishment!

To live happily ever after is to live in ignorance of the state of the world, to be unaware of the problems people have created for each other since the dawn of our existence. Yes, one should strive for happiness. I don’t dispute that. Happiness is a fine goal, but it ought to be tempered with knowledge.

To see species approaching extinction, to see wars fought over trivialities, to see drugs and gangs destroy lives, to see wealthy politicians work to increase the rewards given to their rich contributors at the expense of the bottom 90 percent: this is to see the inequities inherent in our society.

How would you feel if you lived in a castle while all around you peasants toiled and starved? Well, if you were ignorant, you’d be perfectly happy. But if you walked around and talked to the people who kept you in your finery, I suspect you’d be pretty darn upset.

Why should some who toil benefit while others don’t?

One common answer is that the rich earned their money through hard work, or at least through the hard work of their parents. Another is that they took the risks no one else was willing to take. Fair enough. For those people, good on them. But some of those folks had special opportunities few others received.

Donald Trump, for example, was given millions of dollars by his father – much more than the $1 million loan he claimed he received. But even if he wasn’t lying and it was just $1 million, that’s still a lot of money.

Beyond that, if we assume a great many people worked hard or took risks to become rich, what we find when we dig a little deeper is that as they accumulated wealth, they began to seek out special favors that were granted by politicians in exchange for favorable treatment down the road.

One hand washing the other.

So even if the wealth was accumulated legitimately at the beginning, what happens over time is that the system becomes corrupted. Money begets money.

Even Warren Buffett is not blameless. He asks his managers to make certain profit numbers with respect to Return On Investment. He doesn’t need or want details – he just wants his people to make their numbers.

And if someone outside (or even inside) the company has to suffer, well – so be it. It’s not his fault. Like Sergeant Schultz, he knows nothing.

The point is, happily ever after means stupid ever after. Would you wish that on anyone? I certainly wouldn’t.

book 1 in the Susquehanna Virus series

book 1 in the Susquehanna Virus series

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