Goodfellas

It is also worth noting that the Stoics saw wealth, power, and fame as incidental or secondary to the core elements of happiness, with happiness being the aim and purpose of human existence. At the heart of happiness is asceticism, contentment, and simplicity. If wealth, power, and fame are attained, they are merely tangential to the core elements of happiness which I have just mentioned. Thus, at the heart of today’s social dilemmas and problems is the lack of differentiation between what is essential for happiness, and what is secondary to happiness. In turn, what is at the heart of the disorder and instability in the international system today is social in nature. Therefore, it is perhaps imperative to know why anger and frustration have taken root on such a massive scale.

            Anger and frustration on a massive scale are essentially the results of losing sight of the most basic truths that were previously mentioned on a collective scale. I had an interesting conversation with the owner of an Indian restaurant I go to occasionally during dinner last night. What made the conversation interesting and memorable was the key suggestion he made. He suggested that because of the way things were going during the years that led up to the coronavirus outbreak in early 2020, the world inevitably had to choose between either a massive war of global proportions or the current pandemic. If the coronavirus outbreak did not occur, he was almost certain that a global war would have erupted, and the consequences of such a war would have been worse than the consequences of the pandemic we are enduring at the moment.

            Upon reflection, one realizes that the gentleman makes a credible and legitimate argument. Perhaps the coronavirus put a halt to the warmongering that had been relentlessly pursued by the “Iron Triangle” in Washington, which consists of bureaucrats, Congress, and the mainstream media. When I was an undergraduate student at George Mason University, I took an introductory economics course with Thomas Rustici, who is quite a colorful figure and personality. It is worth noting that George Mason University has been host to a number of Nobel laureates in the field of economics, and some of the lessons I picked up from the economists at George Mason when I was a student have stuck with me to this day.

            Rustici argued in one of his lectures that government is just like a mafia group, in the sense that both government and the mafia force money out of people through the monopoly of force. No one willingly gives money to the government or to a mafia group. People are forced to give money to the IRS or to a mafia group, otherwise people end up dead or in jail. But the main difference between a government and a mafia group is that government is self-serving when it forces money out of people, whereas a mafia group provides protection to people in exchange for money in most instances. Because of the abusive, exploitative, and extractive nature of state-society relations as it stood leading up to the coronavirus pandemic, it is not a matter of if bad karma will strike. It is simply a matter of when and how.

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