The Cost of Defending Wealth

Defending wealth is expensive. Very expensive.

Think about it.

It’s self evident truth.

But remember, self evident truth is not available to the casual observer!

Only those who learn to see past what the conventional wisdom says are able to glean self evident truth. The whole idea of self evident truth is that you see it for yourself. It’s a shock when you see it. Things that don’t shock are not worthy of the category of self-evident truth.

One of the problems of understanding the ideas of self evident truth is that there are many different kinds of truth. To me, the original self evident truth to which I was introduced, that all men are created equal, is really not self-evident when I look at the world. Or if we were created equal, the equality rapidly evaporates.

But back to the original topic. It is currently self evident to me that protection of concentrated wealth is what our tax money goes to. Those who own little property of value to others are not the ones who need the police and courts to keep their property safe. Rich people don’t go to jail very often. Much more money is spent on sending poor people to jail. Poor people are sent to jail to protect the rich from the behaviors of the poor. Specifically, the behaviors of the poor that the rich see as undesirable, or a threat to their wealth.

Even if there is no direct threat to the property of the wealthy, keeping a lot of poor people under threat of incarceration helps to keep them distracted from ideas of working for social justice. I know from personal experience how I felt when I was threatened with jail time for a trumped up charge. I was eventually able to plea bargain down to my actual deed. And I have more resources and property than most.

Even if people of little property tend to be less educated, and may make personal mistakes, their mistakes are unlikely to cause the expensive problems our  society faces, such as war, and the costly need to defend our borders. Rich people don’t go to war very often either. They send those of less means to defend their way of life. The cost of war is such a high number, I can’t fathom it without study. Check out the link.

Those who own lots of property are the ones who need protection from the jealousy of those who have less, whether internal to our national borders, or external.

The concept of personal property, and the desire to pass personal property on, at death, to heirs, has many consequences. Most of us never think about those consequences.

Even though we Americans think of our country as a democracy, we’re a republic. The whole idea of the (wealthy) founding fathers in creating a republic was to protect their wealth and privilege from the royalty.  They gave more rights to the propertied men who had the means to run for office. The idea of the republic was not to give full rights to those the founders considered beneath them in the social hierarchy. Those who had not yet proven themselves worthy of consideration, because they had not amassed adequate wealth to join the powerful.

The results of the intentions of the founding fathers are with us still, even as we have given non-felonious citizens a full vote, regardless of skin color. (Note that it is the individual states that decide whether felons can or can’t vote, not the Constitution!)

What is the cost of the prison system? Our epidemic of incarceration costs us taxpayers $63.4 billion a year. Much of this is keeping drug offenders locked away, because as a society we have decided that is a more acceptable answer than rehabilitating the offenders, who have often had restricted opportunities at making a reasonable life for themselves according to the conventional recipe for the American Dream.

Poor people are also not the ones who wish to keep the minimum wages depressed by forcing the poor to compete against themselves. John Steinbeck’s novel “The Grapes of Wrath” is an eloquent explanation of how property owners work to keep wages down.







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Engineering consultant by day, science fiction writer in off hours.

2 thoughts on “The Cost of Defending Wealth”

  1. I read this ‘cost of defending wealth’ post a few weeks ago and was initially shocked (in agreement) by the simplicity but then later very disturbed about possessing or not-possessing wealth. This concept just seems to sprout other ideas and relationships -most of them disturbing and in some way somehow controlling to all involved.

    A simple example, Why do I lock my house when I leave it? Well to keep what wealth I have, I suppose (an action learned both from my parents and due to minor thefts when I didn’t use locks in the past). But if I had no wealth [specifically something valuable that another wants] then I really don’t have a need for locks and this self-imposed incarceration and inconvenience of locks. My life is very much complicated and restricted by the perception of a ‘wealth’.

  2. As Rod King said, “Can’t we all just get along?”
    Apparently not!
    It seems part of our human nature, perhaps necessary for survival in an earlier time, to band together in tribes. When we are no longer fully occupied finding enough to eat and just surviving, we turn to envying, arguing, and sometimes violently fighting the other tribes.
    Today, poor v. rich is in vogue.
    Much can and has been said.
    I will just point out that Chicago reported 489 homicides in 2015 and is on track to exceed that total in 2016, 245 so far. Some will argue that this too is the fault of the “rich,” but most are poor people killing other poor people.
    Another example is the fighting in the Middle East.

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