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Rural Impoverishment, Urbanisation, Available Energy Decline

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Rural Impoverishment, Urbanisation, Available Energy Decline

Unread postby sjn » Sun 18 Dec 2016, 12:40:01

I've been reading a few papers and on-line information on International Development and absolute poverty reduction, it's got me thinking about how this fits in with what we've been discussing in the ETP threads, and how it might provide a clue as to what's actually happening and why absolute poverty is in long-term absolute decline while the rapid rate of urbanisation continues unabated.

Given absolute poverty is defined by the World Bank as "people living below the poverty line of $1.9 per day", there's an implicit requirement that people be in the International System to be not in poverty. Personally, I see a disconnect between the given definition and my preconception of what poverty actually is. To my mind, impoverishment has more to do with loss a connection with the natural world and traditional culture than it does with an arbitrary monetary remuneration.

Wikipedia gives these definitions of general poverty

United Nations: Fundamentally, poverty is the inability of having choices and opportunities, a violation of human dignity. It means lack of basic capacity to participate effectively in society. It means not having enough to feed and clothe a family, not having a school or clinic to go to, not having the land on which to grow one’s food or a job to earn one’s living, not having access to credit. It means insecurity, powerlessness and exclusion of individuals, households and communities. It means susceptibility to violence, and it often implies living in marginal or fragile environments, without access to clean water or sanitation.

World Bank: Poverty is pronounced deprivation in well-being, and comprises many dimensions. It includes low incomes and the inability to acquire the basic goods and services necessary for survival with dignity. Poverty also encompasses low levels of health and education, poor access to clean water and sanitation, inadequate physical security, lack of voice, and insufficient capacity and opportunity to better one’s life.

In many ways these definitions have more to do with integrating people into the International System than with the quality and value of their lives.

There are considered to be two major independent demographic trends in the developing world, specifically Rural Impoverishment and Urbanisation. International Development programs set poorly defined goals towards alleviating poverty with programmes aimed at pulling poor traditional communities out of "poverty". This is a self-fulfilling programme, the demographic change from rural poor to urban life gives aid organisations the opportunity to pat themselves on their collective backs for a job well done, while helping re-enforce the belief and the reality that rural communities need saving from their lives.

The move from relatively sustainable subsistence lifestyles to city life is a process of increasing complexity and as such both requires and allows greater flows of energy and resources as economic development occurs. This is only possible due to the ability of the system as a whole to provide sufficient exergy to allow this "growth" to occur and be sustained. As we move post-peak available energy declines (as is quantified by the somewhat controversial ETP model), there will likely be more absolute poverty in developing nations as a result, but this will only illicit more aid, and a greater impetuous towards accelerating the processes making rural life unsustainable just when we really need the diversity of skills and cultural knowledge to squeeze through the bottleneck.

Am I alone seeing things this way?
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Re: Rural Impoverishment, Urbanisation, Available Energy Dec

Unread postby Outcast_Searcher » Sun 18 Dec 2016, 13:22:48

sjn wrote:Am I alone seeing things this way?

Overall, very good statement of the issue, and good thoughts.

One thing I'll point out. The definitions given, when talking about things like access to credit and opportunity (and other places) are implying a RELATIVE definition of poverty, instead of an absolute definition of poverty. (Many other places talked about absolute issues, like sanitation, etc).

Once relative poverty is used as a measure, it becomes a political issue (about redistribution of wealth, "fairness", etc) instead of about sustainability. At that point, an objective discussion about the resources, science, etc. needed to make a sustainable life possible for humanity, basically impossible, IMO.

Last time I checked, I found a separate discussion of relative and absolute poverty in Wiki, which implicitly acknowledge that these are two very different things, and that definitions matter. (IMO, they matter a lot).

By almost any sane definition, absolute poverty has decreased in the first world over the past 50 years. Relative poverty is highly dynamic, and is all over the place.

If this conversation is going to be at all focused, then with respect, I would suggest that you clearly define what we are talking about (relative or absolute poverty). The key issue, IMO, should be absolute poverty, if you want the thread to actually be productive.

And once defined that way, someone will need to keep people on point. (Just one man's opinion).
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Re: Rural Impoverishment, Urbanisation, Available Energy Dec

Unread postby sjn » Sun 18 Dec 2016, 17:54:23

As I see it, Absolute Poverty is a technical definition, that is, as I defined it in the second paragraph: "people living below the poverty line of $1.9 per day". Part of my argument is that is it a completely artificial and misleading statistic which is dependent on an arbitrary unit of currency which is subject to a long term structural shift though both urbanisation and commodification, and which only makes sense in a context which implicitly excludes self-sufficient agrarian or hunter-gather type communities*. It provides a narrative allowing vested interests to move into new markets on the pretext of alleviating poverty. This has been ongoing for many years and is supported by many well meaning individuals and organisations, but it is the true purpose of the "Progressive" International Developmental Aid programme.

I think the reason there's much disagreement and "politics" surrounding Relative Poverty and a need for the term, is because $1.9 per day is simply not sufficient to survive in the developed world, of course most "wealthy" countries do have a social safety net that provides some welfare to prevent large segments of their societies from actually living in destitution. That ends up being very political. The term poverty itself, apart from the Absolute/Relative designations, is generally defined as I quoted from wikipedia. My opinion is they are entirely unhelpful and even dangerous definitions which largely stem from our colonial history. The least impoverished are those that live within ecosystems which provide all their needs, such as the environment in which we evolved. We need to be connected with the natural world or we will all die in poverty.

The role of ecological theory and practice in
poverty alleviation and environmental
conservation


* I fully recognise very few now remain, but I think "the system" really wants to keep things that way...
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Re: Rural Impoverishment, Urbanisation, Available Energy Dec

Unread postby Revi » Tue 20 Dec 2016, 08:36:50

Rural places produce things. Here in Maine we produce wood and make it into things like paper, pellets for heating and building materials. Right now there is no market for any of it. People aren't using as much paper, there's a glut of energy right now so pellets are not as popular and there's not much building going on. We are in trouble around here.

A friend who works in the wood industry says he has never seen it so bad.
Another guy who used to run 3 wood trucks has only one one the road right now. And they say it will get worse!

It seems like the best thing to do is just cut firewood. People still need that.
We make maple syrup, and it seems to sell. I think us little guys will just have to hunker down and eat some of our product. Cut our own firewood, eat pancakes with maple syrup and use less and less fossil fuel.
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Re: Rural Impoverishment, Urbanisation, Available Energy Dec

Unread postby sjn » Tue 20 Dec 2016, 09:29:34

Thanks Revi. I think it's vital rural communities are viable, once the tide turns urban environments are going to be fully exposed. Allowing, or having policies in place undermining rural and traditional lifestyles remove resiliency.

I've always felt it was an issue of ethics that trade has to be something that's built on top of local, or at least regional sustainable self-sufficiency, otherwise there is an implicit subjugation and loss of volition.
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Re: Rural Impoverishment, Urbanisation, Available Energy Dec

Unread postby Ibon » Tue 20 Dec 2016, 10:16:28

Agrarian knowledge has receded to just a few pockets where folks are still active in small scale agriculture. This knowledge is the "seed bank" for a future when agrarian life will experience a renaissance. This will happen so much more quickly than folks predict. It is generational and will be driven by the economics of decline. The pioneer work that folks do today will bear fruit.

My father who has an amish background reminded me of something with one of his favorite sayings..... "plant patience in the garden of thy soul, the roots are bitter but the fruits are sweet".

This saying resonates with where we are now. The roots are bitter at the moment with an economic system that has sucked the marrow out of agrarian life but we are not far from the turning point when a renaissance will bear sweet fruit.

Be ahead of the curve if you can. You have to salute folks like Careinke and anyone who is trying to be those pioneers of a vanguard which has a bright future.
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Re: Rural Impoverishment, Urbanisation, Available Energy Dec

Unread postby Ibon » Tue 20 Dec 2016, 10:52:21

I have recently shared a few posts about how the mainstream media and politics is so corrupt that by engaging in it you corrupt yourself. A positive example of living a viable alternative life is to shut off the stream of shit coming out of our politics and media and align yourself with folks whose culture is local and more agrarian and self sufficient. ..... It is possible for anyone to do that right now in the midst of all the mediocrity and filth that represents our current political and economic system. The stronger your local alliances the more this immunizes you from the shit coming through media sources. When you live an isolated life with little culture and you dont know your neighbors and you are not integrated in any local communty then this allows the corrupt media to define more your culture. You do not have to let it be this way.

One of the aspects of this renaissance is actually a deeper form of rejection of the status quo. My father was Amish. The Anabaptists (Menonites, Amish, Church of the Brethern) all have their roots in the European founders of this agrarian based religion who left Europe for the New World because they rejected the status quo of what they perceived as a European society corrupted by economic movements toward modernization and industrialization. Sound familiar?

There is a really valid comparison for something similar to occur today. It does not have to have a rigid religious agrarian orthodoxy as a tribal foundation to bind people together as was the case with the Amish. But being united against a society perceived as corrupt is a powerful force that binds a tribe.

There is enough dysfunction in the world today, enough corruption in our politics and economics, enough destruction of our natural world, to give rise to an alternative agrarian culture that worships and revers our natural world.

So why don't we see that happening more quickly? The main reason is that most people at most only play lip service to what it would mean to live by the work ethics that are entailed in a more agrarian based lifestyle. We are still happy in the mediocrity of consumption culture. Let's be honest.

The catalyst missing is a further decline in our global economic system, a further decline in the economics and culture of consumption.

The narrative of this new renaissance has all the ingredients. There are emerging generations increasingly disenfranchised. It just needs a spark.
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Re: Rural Impoverishment, Urbanisation, Available Energy Dec

Unread postby pstarr » Tue 20 Dec 2016, 12:09:50

Poke around in the woods anywhere between Oregon and the Mexican border. If you are within 10 miles of the coast in the in Coastal Mountain range, you will ultimately come across one of these.
Image
They are everywhere. On my two-acre lot (used as pasture until I built a home) there are 5 of them. (most don't have families living inside :lol: ). There were 5 mature trees before the white man came. (by the way . . . I am pretty sure that's a recent clearcut behind the stump, I can tell from the shape of the tree tops, baby redwoods )

Unlike the giant white pines, cypress, oaks, chestnuts, elms, ash, etc. etc. that flourished across North America . . . redwood don't rot. Not even the stumps. That fun stump is a tale told about rural America and everywhere on the planet earth. We cut the giants, strip-mined the forest for wealth, sent it to the cities, and turned it into shit :cry:
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Re: Rural Impoverishment, Urbanisation, Available Energy Dec

Unread postby Revi » Tue 20 Dec 2016, 14:31:53

There must be a way to live in the new impoverished rural places. Perhaps some kind of a community can do it. The Amish are moving into Maine in about 5 places and are doing well. They pay cash, sell their commodities mostly retail and are able to make it because they don't have any payments for fuel and vehicles. Why can't we learn something from people like that?
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Re: Rural Impoverishment, Urbanisation, Available Energy Dec

Unread postby Ibon » Tue 20 Dec 2016, 15:23:26

Revi wrote:There must be a way to live in the new impoverished rural places. Perhaps some kind of a community can do it. The Amish are moving into Maine in about 5 places and are doing well. They pay cash, sell their commodities mostly retail and are able to make it because they don't have any payments for fuel and vehicles. Why can't we learn something from people like that?


The Amish have a disciplined work ethic and restrictions on the use of technology in their homes. It is planned and disciplined. It is also an orthodox christian agrarian religious belief system.

Our current culture lacks discipline and the hard physical work ethic. Our current culture also has no foundation in the religious faith that binds. So what we have to learn from them are:

1) Strong physical work ethic
2) Discipline and rules on the use of technology
3) A spiritual framework that this can be built on.

It does not have to be christian and orthodox but it does need these three ingredients.

We do not see any current crop of consumption culture citizens in the US anywhere near having developed any of these three attributes. So the question is what are the external events that will hone and nourish and develop these attributes?

It isn't going to come from the political left who are indulgent and entitled and spoiled rotten
It isn't going to come from the political right who see free market and individual libertarian personal enrichment first and foremost over any kind of agrarian religious tradition.

I don't see the current culture morphing into these requirements. I see this emerging from a not yet present generation having no alternatives.

Except for the founders, the pioneers, present right here and now who are willing to nourish this.

Are you able to do this? I mean anyone reading this? If a group started today to emerge these values would they have the center of gravity required to allow you to leave the orbit of consumption culture and join them?

How serious are you about really being the change?

Or is sitting on your fat ass in front of a computer on a social media site as far as you are willing to go in paying homage to this?
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Re: Rural Impoverishment, Urbanisation, Available Energy Dec

Unread postby sjn » Tue 20 Dec 2016, 15:36:44

I'm doing the latter, Ibon. My health has been poor most my life, I'd be (pleasantly) surprised to make it through the bottleneck. I'm not expecting to, not that it prevents me from trying to encourage others.

As for where it's going to come from, I suspect if it's anywhere at all here in Europe it will be from the "Neo"-Paganism/Heathenry communities.
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Re: Rural Impoverishment, Urbanisation, Available Energy Dec

Unread postby pstarr » Tue 20 Dec 2016, 16:44:24

sjn wrote:I'm doing the latter, Ibon. My health has been poor most my life, I'd be (pleasantly) surprised to make it through the bottleneck. I'm not expecting to, not that it prevents me from trying to encourage others.

As for where it's going to come from, I suspect if it's anywhere at all here in Europe it will be from the "Neo"-Paganism/Heathenry communities.

Aren't those folks just kind of silly pot heads? That Pagan thing is kind of old school. I'm thinking it will be a blend, from the native warrior cultures, folks in touch with the ecology and the earth . . . and good with discipline and ass kicking.

It's got to be a balance, like the football team the Wolverines (from 'Red Dawn') and those shape-shifting werewolves (Quileute tribe native Americans in ('Twilight'). Just a touch of Euro-Vampires. (though a little less twitty lol)
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Re: Rural Impoverishment, Urbanisation, Available Energy Dec

Unread postby Ibon » Tue 20 Dec 2016, 17:47:20

sjn wrote:I'm doing the latter, Ibon. My health has been poor most my life, I'd be (pleasantly) surprised to make it through the bottleneck. I'm not expecting to, not that it prevents me from trying to encourage others.

As for where it's going to come from, I suspect if it's anywhere at all here in Europe it will be from the "Neo"-Paganism/Heathenry communities.


Hey. I'm 60 and depend on tourism. I am not there either but I do still have good health and my day starts at 5:30 am and goes non stop until I drop dead tired in bed at around 9pm. Since I started this project I no longer have idle time as there are always more projects and things to fix then time to do it. I think this is actually one of the solutions to good mental health. Not much time to squeeze in much angst and neurosis....:)
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Re: Rural Impoverishment, Urbanisation, Available Energy Dec

Unread postby sjn » Wed 21 Dec 2016, 16:20:19

Ibon wrote:
sjn wrote:I'm doing the latter, Ibon. My health has been poor most my life, I'd be (pleasantly) surprised to make it through the bottleneck. I'm not expecting to, not that it prevents me from trying to encourage others.

As for where it's going to come from, I suspect if it's anywhere at all here in Europe it will be from the "Neo"-Paganism/Heathenry communities.


Hey. I'm 60 and depend on tourism. I am not there either but I do still have good health and my day starts at 5:30 am and goes non stop until I drop dead tired in bed at around 9pm. Since I started this project I no longer have idle time as there are always more projects and things to fix then time to do it. I think this is actually one of the solutions to good mental health. Not much time to squeeze in much angst and neurosis....:)

I never have nothing to do either. Admittedly, though, sitting in front of a computer producing code for free software projects isn't quite as unambiguously beneficial as your project! I should get to the temple more! :wink:
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Re: Rural Impoverishment, Urbanisation, Available Energy Dec

Unread postby sjn » Wed 21 Dec 2016, 16:26:12

pstarr wrote:
sjn wrote:I'm doing the latter, Ibon. My health has been poor most my life, I'd be (pleasantly) surprised to make it through the bottleneck. I'm not expecting to, not that it prevents me from trying to encourage others.

As for where it's going to come from, I suspect if it's anywhere at all here in Europe it will be from the "Neo"-Paganism/Heathenry communities.

Aren't those folks just kind of silly pot heads? That Pagan thing is kind of old school.
I'm sure many (most?) of them are "silly pot heads", but they do value connecting with the natural world and various traditional archetypes representing ideas much more in tune with nature.
I'm thinking it will be a blend, from the native warrior cultures, folks in touch with the ecology and the earth . . . and good with discipline and ass kicking.
That makes sense where you are, and places like New Zealand and Polynesia/Indonesia.
It's got to be a balance, like the football team the Wolverines (from 'Red Dawn') and those shape-shifting werewolves (Quileute tribe native Americans in ('Twilight'). Just a touch of Euro-Vampires. (though a little less twitty lol)

Sounds cool! 8)
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Re: Rural Impoverishment, Urbanisation, Available Energy Dec

Unread postby Revi » Fri 06 Oct 2017, 12:27:58

I think we'll see these little projects we are working on like gardens will become more and more like sustenance and less and less like hobbies. I do a number of agricultural pursuits every year. Right now I'm going to pack up our garden on the island, and start to get ready for the maple syrup season here. I've dug potatoes and will plant some "green manure" on the garden. It's not a big money maker, but it keeps us in potatoes. This year I planted some sweet potatoes as well, and they are tasty! They have a long growing season for here, but we got some! We should have enough wood for the winter now, so that's an activity that helps out the household budget as well. Cutting and splitting takes time, but it's exercise and every stick of wood is equivalent to almost a half a gallon of heating oil, so it's a buck or so!
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Re: Rural Impoverishment, Urbanisation, Available Energy Dec

Unread postby Tanada » Sun 08 Oct 2017, 04:50:49

I find it sad and almost amusing that the idea people in rural areas live closer to a natural low consumerism lifestyle is the same thing as being impoverished.

I grew up working the small farm and hiking around the woods when I wasn't doing chores. I wouldn't trade those memories for all the smart phone games you could have given 8 year old me, though at the time I was jealous of the 'video games' some of my contemporaries were provided by their parents when I was a teen. I think every teen only sees what their contemporaries receive and ignore what they themselves receive instead, it is simple human nature.

The problem urbanites have is with their limited access to nature they need distractions like electronic games to occupy their brains or they would go even crazier than they already are. They then look at people living closer to nature and see them as 'deprived' because those people don't need the electronics to fill their mental space, nature takes care of that for them.
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Re: Rural Impoverishment, Urbanisation, Available Energy Dec

Unread postby baha » Sun 08 Oct 2017, 05:38:36

pstarr wrote:Aren't those folks just kind of silly pot heads? That Pagan thing is kind of old school. I'm thinking it will be a blend, from the native warrior cultures, folks in touch with the ecology and the earth . . . and good with discipline and ass kicking.


Where do I join? If people press me to define my religion in terms they can understand I tell them I am Pagan. Mother Earth is my keeper and Father Sun is my provider. All the trees, plants, and animals have spirits that need attention and caring. To think we are special in some way is arrogant and wrong. Both my dog and my plants smile at me and respond to my love and care.

If I am confronted by a Vegan who wants to protect the meat around them, I just tell them "plants have feelings too". Eat and be eaten...

The problem with giving someone in the US a good ass-kicking is he will probably come back with a gun 8O
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Re: Rural Impoverishment, Urbanisation, Available Energy Dec

Unread postby Outcast_Searcher » Sun 08 Oct 2017, 11:59:16

Tanada wrote:The problem urbanites have is with their limited access to nature they need distractions like electronic games to occupy their brains or they would go even crazier than they already are. They then look at people living closer to nature and see them as 'deprived' because those people don't need the electronics to fill their mental space, nature takes care of that for them.

Or how about just simple tolerance for people who choose to live differently?

You won't catch me at things like rock concerts, fancy shows in Vegas or NYC, or even the happenin' clubs locally (full of very loud music and people trying to impress each other).

Why? Because I don't like crowds, lots of noise, or hassle. I'm far more likely to enjoy a game of chess, or watching the various wildlife interact in my back yard, or a nice drive in the country enjoying the rural scenes Tanada speaks of. (Which is one reason I'm rooting for the efforts of Tesla).

So I choose to live moderately, and comfortably in a small city, alone, with a lifestyle I choose. So people can say, and claim via statistics that they make up, etc. that I'm "deprived" all they want. It's meaningless.

The only people potentially deprived are the ones lacking CHOICE. If liberals spent more effort and words advocating more for true choice and less for mindlessly, endlessly redistributing wealth toward their causes -- I'd find their general case far more compelling.
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Re: Rural Impoverishment, Urbanisation, Available Energy Dec

Unread postby Tanada » Mon 09 Oct 2017, 11:07:47

Outcast_Searcher wrote:
Tanada wrote:The problem urbanites have is with their limited access to nature they need distractions like electronic games to occupy their brains or they would go even crazier than they already are. They then look at people living closer to nature and see them as 'deprived' because those people don't need the electronics to fill their mental space, nature takes care of that for them.

Or how about just simple tolerance for people who choose to live differently?

You won't catch me at things like rock concerts, fancy shows in Vegas or NYC, or even the happenin' clubs locally (full of very loud music and people trying to impress each other).

Why? Because I don't like crowds, lots of noise, or hassle. I'm far more likely to enjoy a game of chess, or watching the various wildlife interact in my back yard, or a nice drive in the country enjoying the rural scenes Tanada speaks of. (Which is one reason I'm rooting for the efforts of Tesla).

So I choose to live moderately, and comfortably in a small city, alone, with a lifestyle I choose. So people can say, and claim via statistics that they make up, etc. that I'm "deprived" all they want. It's meaningless.

The only people potentially deprived are the ones lacking CHOICE. If liberals spent more effort and words advocating more for true choice and less for mindlessly, endlessly redistributing wealth toward their causes -- I'd find their general case far more compelling.


Personally I think it goes even deeper than the matter of choice. In the current consumer driven culture created in the 1960's and dominating today we train people from birth to be dissatisfied if "The Jones's" have one iota more 'stuff' than they do. It doesn't matter what the 'stuff' is in any real sense other than its monetary value.

Vacation to Greece? How unfair we only got to go to the amusement park 100 miles away!

This completely ignores the experiential emotional value of the vacation. A vacation is about getting out of your everyday routine and relaxing with family or friends to unwind. If going to the amusement park let you have fun and make memories with your friends it was a valuable emotional experience and if your vacation to Greece made you feel isolated because you did not communicate well with anyone other than the proprietors of whatever tourist trap you were in and the fellow travelers who spoke your language then the Greek vacation was not a success no matter how much you invested in it financially.

Accountants are running our modern society and in the process they are a large part of the problem. Running a business you can make money and still be a decent human being in how you treat your employees including the pay and benefits you offer. But if you follow accounting principles all that matters is squeezing the employees and suppliers as hard as you can to maximize your profit margin. Simply letting up on that pressure a relatively minor amount would greatly improve your employee relations and your outlook on the world. Scrooge was not an 'evil' man, he was simply focused strictly on the bottom line and maximizing profit to the point of limiting his own comforts. His redemption came from understanding that no matter how hard he squeezed to get that last extra penny of profit it would never be enough to make him happy. The pursuit of profit beyond all else is no less a mental issue than opioid addiction, alcoholism, sexual promiscuity or gambling addiction. It is a way of trying to fill the emptiness in the mental space with something, anything that either numbs the feeling for a brief while or distracts away from it. We have turned our entire culture into a mental unballancing system and most do not even recognize that there is a problem.
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