Jealousy and Guilt Are a Dangerous Combination

 

I have long thought that jealousy was the most dangerous emotion. For many reasons, not the least of which is that those who are jealous are prone to just taking things they want from those who have them. The “Occupy Wall Street” movement was based on little more than simple jealousy. Its organizers framed it as the struggle of the bottom 99% against the top 1%. Which sounds great if you’re in the bottom 99%, which most of us are. And it’s tempting for the top 1% to support such nonsense as well, just to show what nice people they are, despite their wealth. “Please don’t hurt me – I’m nice!” So it’s easy to get something close to unanimous support for such populist movements. Who can argue against it? Nobody, really.

The problem, of course, is that if such jealousies and resentments are allowed to fester (or even, as in this case, are encouraged), they can tear a society apart. It gives me the right to take my neighbor’s money simply because he worked harder than I did. That leads nowhere good. Wars have been fought over this. That’s the point of the 10th Commandment. After “Thou shalt not murder” and “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” God throws in, “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s donkey.” Why did He think that was so important? Because He knew where that type of thinking leads. So for various reasons, I think jealousy is the most dangerous emotion.

Thomas Sowell has said that white guilt has enormous destructive power. Several of his books discuss the tendency of guilt to lead to all sorts of foolish and unhelpful behaviors. There are many reasons that guilt is so dangerous. But let’s just think about one: Suppose the bottom 99% decides that the top 1% really don’t deserve all the wealth that they have earned. They didn’t build that. They only ended up rich because of their privilege, social advantages, exploiting others, and so on. It wasn’t talent and hard work. No, it was just luck. They really don’t deserve what they have. That is a dangerous thought.

But it becomes more dangerous when the top 1% can be convinced that it is actually true. Their guilt will lead them to do destructive things. Like what, you wonder?

Like support Democrats and other totalitarians who seek absolute control over society. If the bottom 99% and the top 1% agree that the only fair way to distribute resources is not meritocracy but rather centralized control, then that can only lead to one place: Venezuela.

Now, suppose we are moving along that road to Venezuela, and halfway there, something happens. Like gas lines, inflation, foreign wars, unemployment, and social malaise. I mean, hypothetically, of course.

But suppose we catch a glimpse of what’s coming, and we attempt to back away from the precipice. It can be done. Scandinavian countries and England did. So perhaps we could too, right? Right.

Unless the totalitarians have gained sufficient control that they cannot be removed from power. What if we’re so far down this road, and so close to the precipice, that we can’t go back?

This is an important time, right now. It will be interesting to see how all this turns out.

Unless the 99% and the 1% can recognize that we’re all on the same team, our society is likely to continue to deteriorate. And our schools, media, corporations, and government are doing their best to encourage the jealousies and guilt that have lifted our current leaders to power. Of course. Why would they not? It’s working for them so far, right?

Jealousy is dangerous. The combination of jealousy and guilt is extremely dangerous. Because in combination, they deny opportunities to the right people, and they present opportunities to the wrong people.

The wrong people have gained enormous power in American society. If we want to remain free, we need to reverse course. Quickly.

I hope that we can still do so.

If we can’t, the blame will be shared by those who wallow in jealousy, and those who wallow in guilt.

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  1. DonG (2+2=5. Say it!) Coolidge
    DonG (2+2=5. Say it!)
    @DonG

    Dr. Bastiat: The “Occupy Wall Street” movement was based on little more than simple jealousy.  Its organizers framed it as the struggle of the bottom 99% against the top 1%.

    Actually, the Occupy Wall Street and the TEA Party movements started when Congress bailed out the financial gambling 1% using tax money from the 99%.   OWS was quickly taken over by commies, that attempt to subvert all movements. 

    • #1
  2. DonG (2+2=5. Say it!) Coolidge
    DonG (2+2=5. Say it!)
    @DonG

    Dr. Bastiat: Like support Democrats and other totalitarians who seek absolute control over society.  If the bottom 99% and the top 1% agree that the only fair way to distribute resources is not meritocracy but rather centralized control, then that can only lead to one place.  Venezuela. 

    But, you have the 1% and the DNC (the revolving door has merged them) work to concentrate power and wealth.  It is the road to serfdom.  Sure Google will play the Woke game, but the DNC will wink and regulate their competition out of business.  Corporations play the Woke game to distract from their financial Malarkey.    It is not a Venezuela model, but a China model.  The CCP is very profitable for the party members.

    • #2
  3. RushBabe49 Thatcher
    RushBabe49
    @RushBabe49

    It is not a Venezuela model, but a China model.  The CCP is very profitable for the party members.

    Until it’s not.  Every Party member needs to watch his back, since his situation could reverse in a heartbeat.  Xi regularly purges the party of those whom he deems “corrupt”.  That is typical of tyrant behavior.  No one trusts any other one, and tyrants are normally taken out by their close associates, not the oppressed people.

    • #3
  4. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio…
    @ArizonaPatriot

    DonG (2+2=5. Say it!) (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat: The “Occupy Wall Street” movement was based on little more than simple jealousy. Its organizers framed it as the struggle of the bottom 99% against the top 1%.

    Actually, the Occupy Wall Street and the TEA Party movements started when Congress bailed out the financial gambling 1% using tax money from the 99%. OWS was quickly taken over by commies, that attempt to subvert all movements.

    This is an inaccurate and oversimplified description of a complex economic stabilization program. 

    • #4
  5. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    Dr. Bastiat: God throws in, “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s donkey.”

    I believe the original translation was, “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s ass.” Well, if you have ever met my neighbor you would realize that that is not a problem.

    • #5
  6. Django Member
    Django
    @Django

    The post reminded me of this bit by Bill Whittle: 

    • #6
  7. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    DonG (2+2=5. Say it!) (View Comment):
    OWS was quickly taken over by commies, that attempt to subvert all movements. 

    Better than what happened to the Tea Party, which was stabbed in the back by those ostensibly on its side.

    • #7
  8. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    DonG (2+2=5. Say it!) (View Comment):
    OWS was quickly taken over by commies, that attempt to subvert all movements.

    Better than what happened to the Tea Party, which was stabbed in the back by those ostensibly on its side.

    You knew there was something wrong with the Republican party when many of its elected politicians and leaders didn’t embrace the Tea Party.  The election of Trump exposed the problem – some Republicans are more interested in their careers and their perks than Making America Great Again.

    Term limits . . .

    • #8
  9. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Firstly, I’ve come to think that the most dangerous emotion is Pride. And it’s hardest to see because all we know is life and its prerogatives, which are granted to us but we think are intrinsic to ourselves, to our own being. And jealousy is a second or third generation to this grand pride in our own existence: I exist, therefore I am all that is important, therefore I should have the desires of my heart, no matter how great or humble. In the end, even our own destinies are provided to us, and not strictly, or even mostly, of our own making.

    But to your comment, ‘The “Occupy Wall Street” movement was based on little more than simple jealousy.  Its organizers framed it as the struggle of the bottom 99% against the top 1%.  Which sounds great if you’re in the bottom 99%, which most of us are,’ I think the emotional content and absurdity of the OWS are only the top 1% of those who unthinkingly (as a fish doesn’t usually think of water) intuitively believe, and are led to believe, that the things of others are legitimately within their purview to desire.

    I know a woman, whom I have probably written about before, who is a smart, capable, intelligent, hard-working (and underpaid) divorced woman who receives (I believe) a small to moderate government stipend for food. And one day she mildly said (as far as I can figure out of the blue, but who knows what I may have just said), “You know, Flicker, if it weren’t for the government a lot of people wouldn’t have as much as they do.” I don’t think that she was talking about herself, at least not exclusively. And I’ve always tried to figure out the underlying thinking processes, the normal day-to-day presumptions, that allowed to bubble up to conscious speech such a banal yet fundamentally selfish statement.

    I’ll never tell her that taxation is theft; in fact I don’t fully believe it. But the expectation that government has the right to tax, and to redistribute the earnings of another to herself, and to others presumably like her in her mind, and that she has the privilege (or the right) to vote exclusively for people who advance this system of personal acquisition, shows an underlying predisposition toward gaining the personal property for herself from others while at the same time showing an indisposition toward others’ rights to personal property.

    And yet, I’m fairly sure that she does not question her covetousness, but relies on the bedrock foundation of a childish id-saturated but-it’s-not-fair thinking.

    And recently I heard that her daughter who is about to graduate from high school, and who apparently is smart enough to become fluent in Latin, has asked her mother, Why can’t I just go on welfare?

    The world view of this thinking is natural, but also it is inculcated and encouraged. It is also the fruit of an affluent society and the permissive words Because I Can.

    • #9
  10. Gazpacho Grande' Coolidge
    Gazpacho Grande'
    @ChrisCampion

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Firstly, I’ve come to think that the most dangerous emotion is Pride. And it’s hardest to see because all we know is life and its prerogatives, which are granted to us but we think are intrinsic to ourselves, to our own being. And jealousy is a second or third generation to this grand pride in our own existence: I exist, therefore I am all that is important, therefore I should have the desires of my heart, no matter how great or humble. In the end, even our own destinies are provided to us, and not strictly, or even mostly, of our own making.

    But to your comment, ‘The “Occupy Wall Street” movement was based on little more than simple jealousy. Its organizers framed it as the struggle of the bottom 99% against the top 1%. Which sounds great if you’re in the bottom 99%, which most of us are,’ I think the emotional content and absurdity of the OWS are only the top 1% of those who unthinkingly (as a fish doesn’t usually think of water) intuitively believe, and are led to believe, that the things of others are legitimately within their purview to desire.

    I know a woman, whom I have probably written about before, who is a smart, capable, intelligent, hard-working (and underpaid) divorced woman who receives (I believe) a small to moderate government stipend for food. And one day she mildly said (as far as I can figure out of the blue, but who knows what I may have just said), “You know, Flicker, if it weren’t for the government a lot of people wouldn’t have as much as they do.” I don’t think that she was talking about herself, at least not exclusively. And I’ve always tried to figure out the underlying thinking processes, the normal day-to-day presumptions, that allowed to bubble up to conscious speech such a banal yet fundamentally selfish statement.

    I’ll never tell her that taxation is theft; in fact I don’t fully believe it. But the expectation that government has the right to tax, and to redistribute the earnings of another to herself, and to others presumably like her in her mind, and that she has the privilege (or the right) to vote exclusively for people who advance this system of personal acquisition, shows an underlying predisposition toward gaining the personal property for herself from others while at the same time showing an indisposition toward others’ rights to personal property.

    And recently I heard that her daughter who is about to graduate from high school, and who apparently is smart enough to become fluent in Latin, has asked her mother, Why can’t I just go on welfare?

    The world view of this thinking is natural, but also it is inculcated and encouraged. It is also the fruit of an affluent society and the permissive words Because I Can.

    Poison.

    • #10
  11. Django Member
    Django
    @Django

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Firstly, I’ve come to think that the most dangerous emotion is Pride. And it’s hardest to see because all we know is life and its prerogatives, which are granted to us but we think are intrinsic to ourselves, to our own being. And jealousy is a second or third generation to this grand pride in our own existence: I exist, therefore I am all that is important, therefore I should have the desires of my heart, no matter how great or humble. In the end, even our own destinies are provided to us, and not strictly, or even mostly, of our own making.

    But to your comment, ‘The “Occupy Wall Street” movement was based on little more than simple jealousy. Its organizers framed it as the struggle of the bottom 99% against the top 1%. Which sounds great if you’re in the bottom 99%, which most of us are,’ I think the emotional content and absurdity of the OWS are only the top 1% of those who unthinkingly (as a fish doesn’t usually think of water) intuitively believe, and are led to believe, that the things of others are legitimately within their purview to desire.

    .

    I’ll never tell her that taxation is theft; in fact I don’t fully believe it. But the expectation that government has the right to tax, and to redistribute the earnings of another to herself, and to others presumably like her in her mind, and that she has the privilege (or the right) to vote exclusively for people who advance this system of personal acquisition, shows an underlying predisposition toward gaining the personal property for herself from others while at the same time showing an indisposition toward others’ rights to personal property.

    And yet, I’m fairly sure that she does not question her covetousness, but relies on the bedrock foundation of a childish id-saturated but-it’s-not-fair thinking.

    And recently I heard that her daughter who is about to graduate from high school, and who apparently is smart enough to become fluent in Latin, has asked her mother, Why can’t I just go on welfare?

    The world view of this thinking is natural, but also it is inculcated and encouraged. It is also the fruit of an affluent society and the permissive words Because I Can.

    Why do the Michelle Obamas of the world always pronounce that word as “shtruggle”? 

    But aside from that, taxes support shared services. Taxation for the purpose of “income redistribution” is stealing. As the saying goes, the government steals from Peter to pay Paul can always count on the support of Paul. 

    • #11
  12. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Django (View Comment):

    Why do the Michelle Obamas of the world always pronounce that word as “shtruggle”?

    Dentures.

    But aside from that, taxes support shared services. Taxation for the purpose of “income redistribution” is stealing. As the saying goes, the government steals from Peter to pay Paul can always count on the support of Paul.

    Yes.  Not all taxation is theft.  But I think that a lot of it is.

    • #12
  13. DonG (2+2=5. Say it!) Coolidge
    DonG (2+2=5. Say it!)
    @DonG

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    DonG (2+2=5. Say it!) (View Comment):
    OWS was quickly taken over by commies, that attempt to subvert all movements.

    Better than what happened to the Tea Party, which was stabbed in the back by those ostensibly on its side.

    On the right, movements are corrupted by grifters–Judas goats that jump in and lead the frustrated people astray.

    • #13
  14. DonG (2+2=5. Say it!) Coolidge
    DonG (2+2=5. Say it!)
    @DonG

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    DonG (2+2=5. Say it!) (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat: The “Occupy Wall Street” movement was based on little more than simple jealousy. Its organizers framed it as the struggle of the bottom 99% against the top 1%.

    Actually, the Occupy Wall Street and the TEA Party movements started when Congress bailed out the financial gambling 1% using tax money from the 99%. OWS was quickly taken over by commies, that attempt to subvert all movements.

    This is an inaccurate and oversimplified description of a complex economic stabilization program.

    I was referring to TARP.  You are thinking of that Solendra boondoggle.   TARP was and is unpopular. 

    • #14
  15. navyjag Lincoln
    navyjag
    @navyjag

    When you are ready to retire from saving lives you need to run for office. Will move from California to vote for you.

    • #15
  16. Richard O'Shea Coolidge
    Richard O'Shea
    @RichardOShea

    The tenth commandment = the most difficult commandment for most of us.

    • #16
  17. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Django (View Comment):

    Why do the Michelle Obamas of the world always pronounce that word as “shtruggle”?

    Dentures.

    But aside from that, taxes support shared services. Taxation for the purpose of “income redistribution” is stealing. As the saying goes, the government steals from Peter to pay Paul can always count on the support of Paul.

    Yes. Not all taxation is theft. But I think that a lot of it is.

    Technically, taxation is not theft.  However, the mishandling and use of taxpayer funds by the government pretty much makes it as bad as theft . . .

    • #17
  18. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat
    @drbastiat

    navyjag (View Comment):

    When you are ready to retire from saving lives you need to run for office. Will move from California to vote for you.

    No need to move.  The beauty of mail-in balloting!  Just pick an address in my zip code…

    • #18
  19. Gazpacho Grande' Coolidge
    Gazpacho Grande'
    @ChrisCampion

    Richard O'Shea (View Comment):

    The tenth commandment = the most difficult commandment for most of us.

    Along with the government’s struggle (shtruggle) with the 10th amendment.

    • #19
  20. Old Bathos Moderator
    Old Bathos
    @OldBathos

    The old aristocratic order that America left behind balanced the entitlement mentality of high social standing with a code of obligations: Standards of behavior, and government service, noblesse oblige. 

    Our aristocracy has no coherent class social behavior standards to uphold. They are more more likely to sneer at military and government service than they are to accept the call so the cultural/psychological need to appear to go all in on noblesse oblige may be much greater.

    We have produced a weird generation that believes (a) that they are entitled to a high standard of living for having done as they were told in school to get slots in prestige college but (b) they must feel guilty for having that which they think are entitled. It’s nuts.

    • #20
  21. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    navyjag (View Comment):

    When you are ready to retire from saving lives you need to run for office. Will move from California to vote for you.

    No need to move. The beauty of mail-in balloting! Just pick an address in my zip code…

    If you’re going to run for office, you need to move back to Elizabethton.

    • #21
  22. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Stad (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Django (View Comment):

    Why do the Michelle Obamas of the world always pronounce that word as “shtruggle”?

    Dentures.

    But aside from that, taxes support shared services. Taxation for the purpose of “income redistribution” is stealing. As the saying goes, the government steals from Peter to pay Paul can always count on the support of Paul.

    Yes. Not all taxation is theft. But I think that a lot of it is.

    Technically, taxation is not theft. However, the mishandling and use of taxpayer funds by the government pretty much makes it as bad as theft . . .

    Well, this gets to the definition of theft — and of what rightly could be called government.  And come to think of of it, there seems to be a new definition for tax as well.  (Under 0bamacare a “penalty” — which is indistinguishable from a “fine” — is truly a tax.  How is any taking now not a “tax”?)

    My initial response would be that taking what is not yours is the essence of thievery.  There are many ways to disguise and to justify all kinds of taking, but it seems to me that you have to prove prior ownership for taking not to be theft.

    For examples, how is taking cash from a traveller simply because he doesn’t look like he should have so much, and placing it in public coffers to pay for policemen and equipment, not a tax (as with civil asset forfeiture)?  Or how is taking valuable land and giving it to others to increase the tax base, not a tax (as with Kelo takings)?

    • #22
  23. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    @RobtGilsdorf

    Old Bathos (View Comment):

    The old aristocratic order that America left behind balanced the entitlement mentality of high social standing with a code of obligations: Standards of behavior, and government service, noblesse oblige.

    Our aristocracy has no coherent class social behavior standards to uphold. They are more more likely to sneer at military and government service than they are to accept the call so the cultural/psychological need to appear to go all in on noblesse oblige may be much greater.

    We have produced a weird generation that believes (a) that they are entitled to a high standard of living for having done as they were told in school to get slots in prestige college but (b) they must feel guilty for having that which they think are entitled. It’s nuts.

    It’s nearly religious. 

    • #23
  24. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio…
    @ArizonaPatriot

    DonG (2+2=5. Say it!) (View Comment):

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    DonG (2+2=5. Say it!) (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat: The “Occupy Wall Street” movement was based on little more than simple jealousy. Its organizers framed it as the struggle of the bottom 99% against the top 1%.

    Actually, the Occupy Wall Street and the TEA Party movements started when Congress bailed out the financial gambling 1% using tax money from the 99%. OWS was quickly taken over by commies, that attempt to subvert all movements.

    This is an inaccurate and oversimplified description of a complex economic stabilization program.

    I was referring to TARP. You are thinking of that Solendra boondoggle. TARP was and is unpopular.

    I was referring to TARP. It is not popular because of the sort of oversimplification and mischaracterization expresses in your comment, in my view.

    There were legitimate concerns about the wisdom of TARP and the precedent that it set. The blame for the financial crisis was also complex, and not well-characterized by the Occupy Wall Street slogan that you proffered.

    • #24
  25. EHerring Coolidge
    EHerring
    @EHerring

    They are called the ”seven deadly sins” for a reason. Greed,  envy, wrath, lust, gluttony, pride, and sloth. They are human weaknesses and the left knows it and uses them for its advantage to gain power. We need to add a few more to cover self-anointed elitists, since pride is too mild and not the right fit, and those who seek power.

    • #25
  26. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    @RobtGilsdorf

    EHerring (View Comment):

    They are called they are called the ”seven deadly sins” for a reason. Greed, envy, wrath, lust, gluttony, pride, and sloth. They are human weaknesses and the left knows it and uses them for its advantage to gain power. We need to add a few more to cover self-anointed elitists, since pride is too mild and not the right fit, and those who seek power.

    Emotions and virtues can each make alloys, so why not sins? 

    • #26