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THE CASE OF THE EXCLUDED ALTERNATIVE PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jim Jordal   
Thursday, 05 September 2013

HOW TO LOSE BY WINNING

By Jim Jordal

"Winning is the name of the game," at least according to many top financiers, corporate CEOs, sports figures, and politicos. It certainly was the operative principle of the financiers who bragged about selling their toxic mortgage packages to elderly widows and others not knowledgeable enough to resist their embellishments. It certainly was the ethic of sports figures that took performance-enhancing drugs for years while all the time proclaiming their virginal purity. It certainly motivates CEOs who lay off millions of workers while lining their own pockets with hundreds of millions in bonuses and "golden parachute" retirement packages. And it also drives politicians who sell out to special interest groups in order to retain their seats in Congress.

But are we really "winning" when we win in these ways? What is the price of winning at all costs to public integrity and institutional honesty? Congress, which supposedly reflects the will of the people balanced against the desires of the titans of power, now has a public trust rating of around 10 percent. The gun lobby claims they must arm themselves against others who have long ago lost the public decency that was supposed to hold our people together. And government must use massive surveillance programs and drones to protect us against terrorists, when the very efforts we use for protection often result in the recruitment of more terrorists. Corporations must lie to the public about the environmental effects of their activities and about the safety of their products. And sports teams have been known to employ illegal plays to deliberately cripple stellar performers on opposing teams. All this in the name of winning!

If this is necessary to win, then perhaps we need to redefine the game before the very act of winning destroys us. First of all, we need to see it for what it is. It’s not a game, but a very serious perversion of the values we claim to hold dear---loyalty, honesty, compassion, and love. Real winners accept truth and modify their behavior accordingly. The other "winners" cheat, lie, manipulate, complain, and use every tactic available to them to excuse and even justify their behavior. Think Wall Street and you’ll see what I mean.

It’s human nature to want to succeed; to gain some of the pleasures of life and even to save enough to have something to pass on to posterity. It’s a heady feeling to get ahead of others and to assume a position of respect among them. But some of the winners we’re talking about here carry these relatively normal behaviors far beyond what most of us can even imagine. Most Americans don’t begrudge the millions or even billion earned by people who create something valuable to society, or innovate new ways of making more with less, and even get rich by simple luck. What causes the angst now is that many of the top tiers of wealth produce nothing, are not notably innovative or productive, and resist strenuously any attempt to rein in their money-grabbing activities. They are the manipulators of money who profit from complex transactions few people can understand, jealously hoard their ill-gotten gains, and buy-off any public efforts to change the system that’s making them rich.

This unfortunate situation didn’t just happen; it resulted from government selling out its regulatory function to big money. When possessing great fortunes becomes the yardstick for measuring the success of any person or family the balances then become skewed in favor of trickery, lies, and manipulation. Public interest becomes secondary to personal wealth building with society becoming the loser. Government assumes the position—not of arbiter or mediator of justice—but of skewing the economic playing field in favor of big business and great wealth.

And we all lose. The "social contract" coined by French political philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau in 1762, under which sovereign people surrendered certain powers to government in return for protection and the administration of justice now lies in tatters as government increasingly becomes the servant of the rich against the common people.

It’s time to wake up and pray!