Tag Archives: money

Blog 1 – Income Inequality

After watching “Land of the Free, Home of the Poor”.  It was shocking to see the reality of our income inequality.  I would of liked to have seen more people realize the issue than a bunch of seemingly oblivious drones.  Being that I work in the Financial industry it’s easy to see how the rich seem to get richer and those not at the level are stuck struggling just to scrape by.

I especially enjoyed watching “Wealth Inequality in America” since it broke it down in several graphs and images which make it simple to see how skewed income inequality actually is in the U.S. The chart of the U.S. income breakdown is a clear example of Marx’s idea that capitalism causes inequality.  Also, since Sweden’s “chart” was among the favorite as an ideal breakdown of income, maybe we should be taking notes as to how they run their society.  All in all, it is clear that the U.S. has a major income inequality problem that seems to only be worsening.  Hopefully some change is able to occur to relieve the issue.


Blog #3- “Commodities Fetishism” drives today’s society

Karl Marx wanted to reunite theory and practice.  His theories are shaped by the world around him. Marx would also refer capitalism as a mode of production which involves commodities for the means of exchange in the market place.   Marx used a “materialist” approach in formulating his theory on commodity. He defined commodities as “an object outside of us, a thing by its properties satisfies human wants of some sort or another” (P. 69). He would describe this phenomenal as companies producing goods and pressured to stay competitive in the business world.  All commodities are characterized as having a use-value and an exchange-value.  Marx would say use-value is reflective on the workers’ labor, whereas, goods that are exchanged for profit becomes an exchange-value.

Modern day Marx would say that the company, Michael Kors, is not producing appealing handbags to its consumers but driven by intentions to make profits.  Marx would argue that capitalists turned commodities into ‘Fetishism’ because he said they believe that value can be inherent to a commodity.  Fetishism is defined as ‘the belief that natural objects have supernatural powers, or that something created by people has power over people’.

The term ‘Fetishism’ can be applied to material goods such as Michael Kors.  One way to convey if commodity fetishism applies to this company or any other materialistic object is if the product affects the normal routine of society.  Mostly women are driven to have the latest Michael Kors bag or watch.  These two items have become fashionable in today’s society.  Modern day Marx would say that people are consumed by materialistic things.  Such fetishism may not be healthy to individuals and they continue down this path with the intentions to make themselves look and feel better.  However, individual who may not afford such luxury of being fashionable or following the latest trend in society.  Such individuals may be looked down upon or not accepted.  Marx would say that conflicts may arise resulting in a division in society.

I still question why most people are so bewitched into fetishism in today’s society.  If only such strong beliefs can be transferred to important matters in society such poverty or abuse.

Blog Post #1: The Power of Money in Bourgeois Society

Karl Marx writes that money, in essence, defies the natural limits of human capabilities. One’s power is indefinite based on the amount of money they possess. There is nothing that, if offered the right price, one cannot attain. In today’s society, we see this played out in several different ways, large and small. One can achieve their constructed idea of beauty through paying for plastic surgery, implants, lifts, hair removal, etc.  If someone wants talent, they can pay for the best couches. If someone wants love, they can buy that too. Marx writes that, “what I am and am capable of is by no means determined by my individuality…I am bad, dishonest, unscrupulous, stupid; but money is honored, and therefore so is its possessor.” (p. 49, col. 2) I think this is why so many people equate money to happiness. Through money, people can become what they are innately not. Or at least that is the illusion that many people “buy” into. Living in a consumer society, it is hard to resist believing the lie myself. We are constantly bombarded with things that will supposedly make us happier, whether it is owning the latest technology or stylish clothing. Money is the most powerful object one can have and that binds society together, encompassing all relationships.

Wealth inequality – blog #1

I was surprised by the findings in both videos. I always knew that the distribution of wealth was unequal but not to that extreme. I feel that these findings somewhat prove Marx’s theory that capitalism is an engine of inequality. The working class works extremely hard, six to seven days a week and barely makes enough money to afford rent or money for their bills. According to the videos, the reality is that the working classes are considered poor. I was surprised by how some people in the video did believe that the way money is actually distributed in this country is the right way. That is because many people believe in that American way that you need to work hard to achieve the American dream. To me, these videos show me that the government and CEOs offer incentives to be working robots in this country. Marx theory explains that capitalists pay their workers as little pay as possible and workers agree to this pay because there are too many people from the working class begging for jobs, desperately trying to make money for this “American dream”. Just like the video title says, this country is the land of the free and home of the poor.

Perception Versus Reality- 2/9/14 assignment, Blog #2

Sometimes our perception of something may influence our ability to understand the reality of a situation. I think most Americans have been purposely blinded to the cruel reality of our economic system and inequality of wealth among the country.  I have always understood that there was sever inequality when it came to money, but I never seen or actually understood the statistics. Additionally, I don’t really know how I feel about the inequality. Is it fair to penalize those who have worked for years for all they have? But, is it fair to those who struggle living paycheck to paycheck that never get a chance to financially prosper? I don’t know that I or anyone else can really answer these questions. 

To me, capitalism represents the rich being rich, the poor being poor and everyone else just working or existing to support the two extremes. Socialism is the opposite in that all people have an equal amount of money. I was surprised when I watched the videos and really thought about the inequality, in fact it made rather upset. Firstly, to think of all those who are living at or below the poverty level compared to the 1% is something I cannot wrap my head around. We all live in the same nation, with the same presidents and the same opportunities; America, the land of opportunity. A place that I’m sure so many people would drop everything and leave their country if they were given the chance. Moreover, I was completely shocked to see that there was not a drastic difference between those considered low and middle class in terms of the percentages. I consider the middle class the hardest working of all the classes.

These videos and statistics have made me realize that we are not all equal and although we like to think equality exists among us, it does not. I do not think that the inequality is or can be controlled by anyone. However, I do think that there should be something done to decrease the wealth inequality gap in the United States. We must create a happy medium between capitalism and socialism to bring us a better change of economic equality among Americans.

Karl Marx and The German Ideology- Blog #1

Firstly, I would like to start by saying I have never thought of Karl Marx as a theorist. I have always thought of him as some socialist or communist from decades ago. After reading the German Ideology and researching Karl Marx, I have come to really enjoy his work and his ideologies.

Karl Marx was the first theorist to develop a social theory of a capitalist society. Marx’s ideas went against that of Hegel and Hegelian philosophers. Hegelian philosophers were interested in consciousness and abstract ideas. They were considered idealist philosophers because they also believed the ones independent existence shaped their social reality. This idea argued that a change in social reality can come about through a change in the manner reality is perceived. Hegel’s ideology focused on social change.

Marx had an materialist approach to the change in society. The German Ideology focuses on the perception that material existence influences social change. I tried to conceptualize this theory and apply it to modern time. I think that we are greatly influenced by our material existence today. Society is driven by money and the need to have it all. I agree with Marx’s theory. Our realities are shaped by the material items that we have or strive for. We work hard to have nice homes, cars and clothes. Additionally, we work hard to provide ourselves with a meaningful education in order to get a better paying job, to eventually provide ourselves with all we want.

Thinking in terms of capitalism, our nation has been deemed a consumer nation. We are almost bread to consume (literally and figuratively) and buy. At the top of our consumer nation is the “haves” and at the bottom the “have nots”. It is the goal of those on the top of the corporate pyramids to work their employees for the least amount of money while expecting them to make daily and monthly sales goals for their stores. Failures in making numbers could result in job termination for managers, cut hours for employees and lost wages. I worked as a manager in retail for a few years only to decide that it was not for me. Shortly after beginning working at a new store in Queens, I came to realize the corporate team was not interested in my success and growth in the company. They were concerned about me and my team making their numbers in a timely fashion. Corporations do not care about the consumer, they care about their sales and the money generated from their sales. This type of neglect from corporate offices, I’m sure has played a role in the heightening debts that Americans now experience. I do not like the idea of capitalism, but I agree with Marx in that our realities are shaped by what we have or what we strive to have.

Blog 1: Marx-B.I.G Mashup

The concept of money is crucial to much of Marx’s work, which comes as no surprise given money’s importance within our society. It is as Marx describes it in the Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1884, the ”bond binding me to human life, binding society to me…is not money the bond of all bonds?” In addition to uniting us, money is the great equalizer, and is the “visible divinity” that can mitigate any flaws that we may have. This capability of change is alluring, even more so in today’s image driven culture, but money also has dangerous potential within it. Money and its power, is a social phenomenon; but its centrality to our lives at this point is so entrenched in society that the power that we have bestowed upon it in our attempts to ease commerce, is now the power that it possesses over us. While Marx is undoubtedly aware of the detrimental aspects of money, his language in the “Manuscripts” seems to be a far cry from the biblical “money is the root of all evil,” a sentiment that is prominent in the chorus of N.A.S.A’s song “Money.” While listening to this song, I was reminded of the famous song “Mo’ Money Mo’ Problems” by the late Notorious B.I.G. The choruses of these songs seem to be in agreement about the negative side of money, but while N.A.S.A hits on ideas of the greed and violence that result from the rat race of life, “Mo’ Money Mo’ Problems” discusses the difficulties that can even arise for the person in possession of large sums of money.

In looking at the lyrics to Biggy’s song as a comparison to Marx’s theories, the first two verses from Mase and Diddy seem more in line with notions of money as “the great equalizer.” These verses don’t relate to the title’s theme, and mainly serve to flaunt the rappers’ affluence, and their resulting successes in both the rap game and with ladies. Biggy’s verse echoes these ideas, but also talks about how despite his current wealth, he must be ready to fight those who are now breathing down his neck. He’s got “gats in holsters, girls on shoulders,” which interestingly puts his vigilance for a potential battle ahead of his partying antics. He may have money, but he’s far from stress free. Most salient to this point, the chorus states, “I don’t know what they want from me, it’s like the more money we come across, the more problems we see.” Having money paints a target on a person’s back, and this fact, coupled with the actions usually taken in order to amass immense wealth, can lead to a host of predicaments and the creation of many enemies.

This idea is made abundantly clear in the imminently ending, and critically acclaimed drama, “Breaking Bad” (apologies for any spoiler alerts, I’ll keep it as vague as possible). After finding out that he has cancer, high school chemistry teacher Walter White begins to cook meth to amass enough money for his family to get by in his absence (this problem is not of the “Mo’ Money Mo’ Problems” variety, but stems from the serious amount of funds needed to keep a family afloat). While Walter is able to make larger sums of money than he ever could have imagined, his problems increase exponentially, and the constant threats of arrest and murder plague him. In dealing with these problems his actions not only toe the lines of legality and ethics, but often cross them. A similar dilemma is presented in the now no longer airing program “Weeds,” which some would argue is a watered down version of “Breaking Bad,” despite airing before it. These shows highlight the tremendously complicated nature of money’s power.

I embedded a video with the lyrics of “Mo’ Money Mo’ Problems,” and included a graph that humorously depicts this relationship on a graph (disclaimer: money as the independent variable should be on the X-axis, and problems should be on the Y-axis).