Addiction cost everyone. Addicts lie, mislead, manipulate, shift the blame, are self-centered, selfish and lack empathy, and can become abusive and engage in criminal activities to feed their addictions. In my opinion, the most dangerous and costly addiction in America today is the addiction to wealth. Those who are addicted to wealth steal from all Americans.
In the New York Times (1/18/14) op-ed article titled ‘For The Love of Money,’ Sam Polk writes that “Wealth addicts are, more than anybody, specifically responsible for the ever-widening rift that is tearing apart our once great country. Wealth addicts are responsible for the vast and toxic disparity between the rich and the poor and the annihilation of the middle class.”
In Psychology Today (2/8/14) in an article titled ‘Addicted to Wealth – A National Trait?’, Stanton Peele, Ph.D. suggests that we have become a society that sacrifices values, community and a meaningful life for money, wealth and possessions. He writes that “…wealth addiction describes a society where all meaning and social status are derived from the accumulation of wealth.”
In Wealth Addiction by Philip Slator (1980), the author believes that not only are the rich addicted to wealth but that “closet addicts” secretly desire “…to have all the money, possessions, and perks of the wealthy.” He continues that “…the Republican Party constantly harkens back…” to the “…hope all Americans harbour that they can strike it rich.” As these not-quite rich individuals strive for wealth, they also become single-focused addicts who lack concern for others joining their wealthy wealth addicts.
Wealth addicts see the needy only as an obstacle to their pursuit of unlimited wealth and the working and middle class as a source of wealth by cutting wages and benefits, raiding pension funds and eliminating collective bargaining. Their single focus is the accumulation of wealth just as the drug addict is focused on their next fix with no concern for the common good.
Both drug and wealth addicts give up their self-respect, integrity and human compassion to feed their addictions. They are so focused on grasping that they forget to live. They lay waste to the working and middle class communities to increase their personal treasury.
People are accumulating wealth they do not even need at the expense of others by stealing their opportunity. Then when these “others” struggle to make ends meet or fail to make ends meet, the wealthy or the wealthy want-to-be’s blame the victims of their heartless greed.
Sadly, we admire the super rich and denigrate the drug addict even though both may engage in illegal behavior to achieve their goals and the former is doing far more damage to our democracy than the latter. What is the difference between being addicted to opioids or to wealth? When you’ll do anything to feed your addiction, you’ll manipulate or skirt the law, engage in illegal behavior and hoard your drug whether its opioids or money.
Currently and sadly, our country is being led by a shameless wealth addict who hires other shameless wealth addicts like Scott Pruitt and Paul Manafort. This is despicable and very dangerous for all. Ordinary, American people only want opportunity for success through hard work.
Wealth addiction has been with our country for a long time. Even in the 1800s, Gustave de Beaumont wrote that Americans are “…devoured by hunger for wealth that brings many far from honorable passions along with it, such as greed, fraud and bad faith.” Even though it has been with us for a long time, we live in a democracy in which ordinary people have a say in how we live. Support legislation and regulation that stops greed. Our country cannot survive a system where only a few control the wealth of the nation.