VOICES: Money = decision-making = power for the few

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?”).

Advertising 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 slowing moving wealth to the select few by means of taxation. Today, the wealthy do not get taxed very much, while the middle class loses a large chunk of the fruits of their labors 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 decision-making, 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.

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Kimball Shinkoskey is retired from state government employment and writes about American history, politics and current affairs.

8 Comments
  1. RGLadder37 June 14, 2021 12:17 am Reply

    Perhaps the media think these celebrities are giving it back to the community. Like an advertising on someone. They are now making decisions for the few. Mayor. That is usually the case in politics. Religion. This goes back a long time. Just how any one can mistake that run for intellectuals is something else. Just the physical and not add mental aspect. Pop culture glorifies the poor and makes them look rich. TV shows are filled with them. 1981 they had a show The Fall Guy. This was pop culture. Do you remember it?


  2. peter June 14, 2021 6:24 am Reply

    Wow, what a revelation. I had no idea. In America the wealthy control the decision makers with their money and therefore pay little taxes which helps keeps them wealthy. This is fascinating news. I am so glad TGI is the first newspaper to publish an article about this topic.


  3. YuCalJoe June 14, 2021 6:48 am Reply

    It appears that you hate America, God, and freedom. But you love socialism. Please tell me I’m wrong on all accounts.


    1. james June 15, 2021 6:49 am Reply

      Which God are you referring to? There are so many I lose count.


  4. RGLadder37 June 14, 2021 7:35 am Reply

    Excellent writing Kimball Shinkoskey. I have read many articles on this topic. The most popular was by Doc Rivers of the La Clippers NBA coach. He moved back to the east coast. He lived in Santa Monica hills. I think he sold his home for $5 million dollars and that is only one of them. This is pop culture. You are a good writer. Keep up the good work.


  5. dollarsintosense... June 14, 2021 8:16 am Reply

    Money is a from of currency, nothing more and nothing less. It is what we choose to do with it that defines its value. And it is our ethics, morals and values that determines the avenues it goes down. What do you value, really value, do you know or care?!?! Are your values based on materialistic impulses or something higher? The eternal virtues of truth, beauty and goodness are a good measuring survey. Use currency based on those 3 and your life and those around you will change… for the better.


  6. Talk about zuckerburger June 14, 2021 1:47 pm Reply

    It’s insane the amount of influence he has in the world and especially on kauai.


  7. RevW June 14, 2021 6:20 pm Reply

    Kimball – Your perspective is a product of the same forces & sources you are railing against. Your conclusion-

    “Consequently, money, and thus decision-making, 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.” –

    – is from limited, highly selective information you’ve collected to support your perspective. You’ve ignored or left out a lot, so your conclusion is simply propaganda,

    You’d be astonished at how much wealth is not the ‘property’ of a select few who, BTW, do not make all those decisions you’re referring to. You know only about the ones showcased by media and corporate America. “Everyone” except the top 10%, is NOT getting poorer. Those realities are not presented by the sources you’re leaning on. There are millions of people in the USA who aren’t being manipulated by ‘pop’ culture. They don’t pay a significant amount of attention to it because they’re busy **doing** things instead. Their sources for the guidelines of living in society are not via pop culture, they are the same ones they always have been, with pop culture as an ‘add on’ that they are aware of but don’t rely on or ‘need’.
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