Today I want to touch on why I don't believe the 'pull yourself up by your boot straps' narrative is actually supportive of creating the world we all want to live in.
I would like to create a case for humans supporting humans, because I feel that the idea that we can all just 'create' abundance or security for ourselves if we work hard enough, is a misunderstanding of true human nature. I feel like it's not an ideal that is working for anyone - even the people who are supposedly 'succeeding' in this system we have.
Let's dive into why a society built on support rather than the 'free market' may be better for ALL of us - how it will still inspire innovation, how it will still support change and expansion and why feeling so alone and threatened isn't actually the motivator we think it is.
The 'Personal Wealth Creation' Narrative Doesn't Hold Up In Reality:
The ‘Abundance’ or personal wealth creation narrative doesn’t actually make real sense in terms of actual reality.
There is a common theme in the ‘abundance’ community that in order to generate more wealth for yourself, all you need to do is ‘increase your market value.’ That the answer to lack of wealth or not having enough to support yourself is to take responsibility for what you’re PRODUCING, what you ‘offer society’ and then figure out how to INCREASE that offering/output so that you will be ‘more valuable’ and thus DESERVING of earning enough money to live, or worthy of earning abundance.
Sometimes this is shared from the standpoint that people who are struggling to make ends meet/aren’t making ends meet are in that position purely because they don’t work hard enough. They aren’t offering enough to the system. They have low market value. Essentially it is, in some way, their own fault that they aren’t making enough to survive or thrive, and if they took responsibility for that, they could and will find that wealth is possible. Usually this is a message shared by someone who is incredibly financially stable. Just work harder. Work your way up. Go into massive debt so you can go to school or start a business - it will pay off! Everyone can do it. If you’re not, you’re just not trying hard enough.
Sometimes this is shared in the direction of people who ARE making enough to live a totally reasonable and fulfilling life, but are being told that that isn’t enough. That they should always be looking to increase their output, increase their income, increase their ‘service’ and along with that ‘level up’ their pricing. There is a constant push to be ‘owning your value’ in terms of charging over the top prices for goods and services because you are charging based on what you think YOU are worth as a human being.
Either way, this argument is silly.
Because our monetary systems aren’t based on actual value.
What we are currently funneling the bulk of our wealth into aren’t things that actually IMPROVE the lives of the general population, aren’t things that actually work to create a better world or make life easier for the masses.
Rather, our top earners in the free market as it stands are C.E.O’s. Other ‘groups’ of people who tend to be doing really well? Entertainers. Athletes. SOME of these people did innovate something at some point that did improve society, but they are earning what they earn NOW because they are the C.E.O. There is a narrative that innovators/entrepreneurs are the pinnacle of society, that everyone should be striving to be one, and that anything less than this is deserving of a low payout.
Now, on the flip side of the coin, we have people who work minimum or lower than minimum wage positions. Janitors. Cashiers. Bus drivers. We have people who work in a profession like teachers who have to have second jobs in order to cover expenses. We have construction workers, people who maintain streets, public parks and other public areas. We have taxi drivers and auto mechanics. People who are in the ‘service’ industry.
Below this we have people who work in sweatshops, who were born into situations where they didn’t have the privilege of getting to go to school, speaking english, being in a country where wealth is even remotely accessible. We have people born into neighborhoods where poverty is so debilitating it creates a cycle that people genuinely can’t escape.
Markets Value What Isn't Valuable For SOCIETY:
Now, if we take a step back and had our billionaires stop working, if ALL the C.E.O’s decided one day they weren’t going to C.E.O anymore, they weren’t going to make any more movies or T.V shows. They weren’t going to play sports. No more concerts. Would we be bored? Yes. Would it be sad to have no more entertainment? Yes. But could companies continue to run? Yup. Would the world continue to function? Absolutely.
By contrast, say all the janitors, teachers, city property maintenance people, bus drivers, sweatshop workers and other ‘low value’ earners stopped doing THEIR jobs. No more cashiers. No more taxies. Can’t go get your car fixed. No one to make the countless ‘things’ we buy buy buy because culture tells us we need more THINGS. How would society be affected? Dramatically.
Our current market is NOT based on value.
Sure, there is *some* merit to working to be of best use to your community through your output as possible.
Yes, if you have a big vision and goal of something you want to do or be or create in the world - go for it.
But the idea that people who are working low wage jobs DESERVE not to have an income that keeps them above the poverty line because they aren’t ‘valuable’ to the ‘market’ is complete delusion.
The reality is, PEOPLE don’t have values that are aligned with reality.
C.E.O’s make money for their shareholders. That’s what they do. Entertainers keep us distracted most of the time (yes there is art and I’m not saying we should get rid of entertainment, but I think we may want to question how much we VALUE said entertainment). Athletes same thing.
Teachers, janitors, cashiers, bus drivers - these people RUN our society. Without them, we don’t have civilization.
So maybe we have our priorities messed up.
Maybe it shouldn’t be about continually figuring out how to ‘increase your market value’ because does the world really NEED more C.E.O’s?
More entrepreneurs and abundance coaches?
Because essentially THAT’S what we are saying here, since these are the people the 'market' values right now.
There again may be some waxing poetic about ‘innovators’ and that our market values people who create things that improve society - and thus the market based economy rewards those who do things that improve our lives, and the incentive that you could make lots of money doing it is the only thing MAKING those innovators innovate - but again this is a weak argument.
Money For Innovation Isn't Reality Either:
First, innovators are going to innovate. People with great ideas are going to produce those great ideas - that’s human nature. We are naturally always looking to improve our way of life - and generally when we genuinely do that for OURSELVES we do it for EVERYONE. When we invent something that actually supports HUMANITY - we all prosper from that. It’s human nature to want things to be more pleasant, comfortable and useful. Innovation is a natural byproduct of human nature.
Second, if MORE people were actually SUPPORTED - as in if more people were NOT living in poverty or struggling to make ends meet, if we had some structures in place that allowed for everyone to have a basic quality of life no matter their current ‘position’ in society, I think we would see MORE innovation, not less.
When people are safe, cared for and know that there is a safety net if they fail - they are MORE willing to take risks.
Again look at our top ‘innovator’ people - they weren’t poor, putting their last pennies into their creations and then not eating for a month. They were all middle to upper class people who had LOTS of safety net to fall back on if their innovations failed. And their innovations failed A LOT before they succeeded.
The REASON we have innovation is because these people WEREN’T desperate.
They had support so they could fail and spend money and make mistakes.
If more people had a sturdy base, we would have MORE innovation, not less.
The idea that scarcity CREATES innovation is the exact opposite of the truth.
The more people are supported the more they innovate for society. The less they are focused on just their own basic needs, and thus the less selfish they will be. People being supported ONLY benefits the WHOLE.
Third, again this is a totally out of sync with reality argument. People who are in fear don’t innovate, generally speaking. They hunker down and just put one foot in front of the other. They are out for themselves and are more likely to manipulate, exploit or harm others vs. genuinely looking to improve society for all of us. That’s what our biology primes us to do. When we don’t know that we have enough, we are focused just on that. When we DO know we will be ok, THAT’S when we are inspired to create. Generally speaking. We would have far less corruption in high ranking places if we had a society where people felt safe.
I really want to offer here, that again SO many of the people who are at the 'top' of this monetary system we have, aren't happy. Aren't fulfilled. Generally don't even feel like they ARE or HAVE enough.
When we get a glimpse into the lives of those who are making millions of dollars in our current system, more often than not we see people who have had to sacrifice their personal lives for their work. Who have exploited others. Who have done a lot of things that caused a lot of harm to themselves and others.
This shows us that 'success' in our current system isn't REALLY success. It's not true abundance. It isn't true wealth.
People at the top have material riches and have had to forsake their humanity for it.
People at the bottom, generally, no matter how hard they try, can't dig themselves out because in order for the people at the top to stay there, they NEED there to be people at the bottom. People who don't have enough.
The not enough narrative that keeps the top people hoarding more and more for themselves creates the illusion that they NEED more. And this then CREATES the poverty that they then FEAR. It creates the cycles of crime, addiction and mental illness that leads people to do desperate things - that the 'rich' then think they need to 'protect' themselves from.
It's a vicious cycle. No one feels like they have enough. People are sacrificing humanity for MORE than is required, causing ripples of pain and exploitation.
It's not a system that works for HUMAN life. Not for people at the top or the bottom.
And the people in the middle are kept there too - through constantly feeling like THEY don't have enough - that they need to be doing and earning more.
The constant stress of not knowing if we will have enough because there are no social safety-nets in a society that values THINGS over people is creating a mess.
Fear and chaos.
To The Boss Babes/Bro's:
Finally, to the boss babe/bro culture - again so much of this is based in smoke and mirrors.
People ‘charging what they are worth’ for ‘abundance coaching’ is just playing on people’s desire to get out of a system that sucks.
So many of our wellness/spirituality/personal growth influencers are profiting off of the idea that ‘everyone can manifest abundance by finding their purpose and charging a lot for it.’
This ISN’T reality and never will be.
We will ALWAYS need janitors. Bus drivers. Maintenance people. There will always be people who have skills that simply AREN'T valued in the system. There will always be people who aren't capable of working full time or even part time jobs that could sustain their lives for whatever reason. We will NEVER have a system where ALL people can 'manifest abundance' within a 'free market.' Ever.
There should be NO REASON that in wealthy nations these people DON’T earn a living wage.
We will always need teachers and mechanics and nurses - people who are trained in a profession that currently has a wage ceiling that is way too low. We will always need maintenance people. Cashiers. We will always have those who can't support themselves.
This is never going to change.
We can’t all be entrepreneurs who are coaching and making online programs. Inventing things. Telling people what they want to hear...
For SOME of us sure, but most of us? No.
Society will never run that way.
So if this is the ONLY way to ‘make it’ - be a C.E.O or an entrepreneur who mostly gets paid to tell people they can solve their health issues with unregulated supplements or make them rich through their MLM/abundance coaching program - what would become of society if we all tried to do that?
It wouldn’t work.
Again, this isn’t to say that there should be NO abundance coaches. No wellness advocates. No entrepreneurs - but they can’t be the ONLY people we value. Just like we don’t want to get rid of artists and athletes - we just need to re-prioritize how much we pay them.
We need to be more pragmatic.
We need to reevaluate what is actually of value.
Why we value what we value.
Why we pay for what we pay for, and why we pay what we pay for it.
The ‘pull yourself up by your bootstraps, we can all be abundant, own your value stuff’?
It’s not based in reality.
The system is imbalanced - THIS is what needs to shift.
Do we value WEALTH or do we value LIFE - THAT is our question.