On June 9, 2021

Popular culture

Dear Editor,

It’s hard for people to understand there is more to life than pop culture, because that is the thing we are engaged in almost every minute of the day. Our particular society, unlike many others, spends an infinite amount of time and resources on two aspects of that culture: glorifying celebrities and evaluating corporate goods and services.

As far as celebrities go, we follow every Twitter post, every video, every politically correct press release, every self-effacing joke, every engineered smile, and every bulging bank account and mansion.

We mentally consume corporate ads like we physically consume meat, pasta, chocolate, soda, and beer. How? By listening to, viewing, or reading their endlessly repeated marketing ads for teeth whiteners, skin moisturizers, leaf gutters, window and bathroom renovations, furniture, cars, electronics, drugs for yuppies, and payday loans (“Need a thousand dollars? How about three thousand?”).

Marketing dulls our senses and either makes us buy, or retreat in horror at what capitalism has become.

There is a hierarchy in nature (sun, planets, moons), and in culture too. Pop culture is propagated on a day-to-day basis by media, friends, workplaces, and, of course, marketing advertisements. It is also formulated by parents, schools, religion and legislation. But these last factors are a heavily receding fraction of the pie.

Pop culture is what we see, feel, touch. It is what we spend our money and time on. It is what Jesus called “Mammon.” He wished people spent a little less time on Mammon and a little more time on other, more constructive things.

When one studies history, one sees that church and state have always been the sources for much of culture. But the ultimate mover of society is money. Money, and how it is earned, accumulated, and distributed, defines what kind of government, law, religion, and science that society promotes.

Historically, other than going to work every day and bringing wages home, money has been accumulated and distributed in two basic ways: inheritance and taxation. These two ways mirror the political systems that are their handmaidens.

The aristocratic/monarchic form of inheritance is by primogeniture, the funneling of inheritance into a select few of the sons of the wealthy. The democratic/republican form of inheritance is by distribution of estates equally, or else on the basis of ability or responsibility.

In America, we have not blatantly gone down the monarchic pathway just yet, but we are slowly moving wealth to the select few by means of taxation. Today, the wealthy do not get taxed very much, while the middle class lose a large chunk of the fruits of their labor to a system of government that doesn’t allow them much input.

CEOs make on average a couple hundred times the average wage of their own workers. Corporations earning billions in profits often escape income taxation altogether, although they pay other kinds of taxes with everyone else.

Consequently, money and thus decisionmaking, is in the power of a very few people in America. And those few choose to continue getting richer, while the rest of us keep getting poorer.

Kimball Shinkoskey

Woods Cross, Utah

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