The United States currently runs and was built on, a diabolical triad of unchecked capitalist fervor, hardline Puritan moral codes and white supremacy. This unholy trinity has both twisted our definitions of happiness and freedom and made even these skewed visions impossible to reach for all but the most morally repugnant members of our society.
The myth that our current socio-poli-economic system runs on is that “hard work leads to success, and success breeds more success”. This is clearly bullshit, as the countless number of hard-working people in the US who never achieved “The American Dream” can attest too. Wealth, i.e., capital, has long been horded at the top of the American economic system. From our plantation-owning Founding Fathers to the robber barons of the Industrial Age, to our current Silicon Valley billionaires, there has always been a thin top layer of wealth in the US that actively works to make sure the people below them don’t rise up to their level while simultaneously telling people that they can be exactly like them if they try hard enough.
The Puritan moral code also plays into this idea of hard work as well. In the US it is not just hard work alone that make success. It is also, until you’re obscenely wealthy, living an austere life and following traditional Christian moral codes. Not rich? It’s probably because you drank three beers last weekend, or smoked pot in college, or are LGBTQ+, or did an acting program. You should have worked for free, for the experience. You ate at a restaurant last week? But you could have eaten plain white rice instead and saved money. These are all remnants from the hard-line Puritans, Calivinists and Protestants who came over from England in the early days of America. People who are wealthy are predestined to be wealthy, because they are wealthy. Poor people are poor, and they deserve it. These are all lines of thought that come from those traditions.
In some weird non-existent abstract, theoretical contextless universe the American system does make sense. Working hard should mean that you get cool stuff. But how it’s actually applied is vastly different. It has turned into a system of “if you look like you’re working hard, and have the right connections, gender, religion, skin tone, rich parents, skill set, etc etc, you get to fuck other people out of getting cool stuff.” This is clearly an unsustainable system. For Every Jeff Bezos there are the thousands of Amazon warehouse workers who are underpaid and treated as children, and/or sent to the hospital due to heat stroke or have to go to the hospital without insurance. The same goes for the Walton family and Wal-Mart employees, “Papa John” and his employees. The list goes on and on. The rich have created their kingdom on the backs of millions of the poor.
But even the fact that it’s millions should not matter. Not one single person should be fucked over as the result of someone else trying to get rich. No socio-poli-economic system should exist that functions by making sure that some people miss out on its benefits so that other people can enjoy them in excess. And this is true, not just for the citizens of the US but for everyone in the world. Even if the entire US population lived in the lap of luxury it would all be for naught if we had to constantly invade foreign countries, sound familiar, to make it possible. There is no justice in a system that deprives some people in favor of others.
As a final note of semi-happiness, just remember, that top layer is thin. We are the many, and we should not and cannot forget that. We all deserve to live our best lives, not at the expense of others, but with others. For the many, not the few.