There are some really good posts here. For now I'd like to address two specific points:
Originally posted by SassyCat
Even feudalism can work if people are not corrupt from inside. If they are, no system will ever help them. People make mistake when they think that
such broad thing as poverty can be pin pointed to one single ideology....
I basically agree with the thrust of this, but I will add one caviat: I think people are always going to be in some form of competition, and simply
are not all equally skilled. In different systems, different skills will be valued, so there will always be inequality of some sort.
I believe the instinct for status/pecking order/hierarchy is deeply hardwired into our species. You can see it in monkies, dogs, wolfs, hens, even
insects. Heck, even at the bacteriological level. This is pretty ancient, primordial stuff we are talking about here, so no system is going to remove
In our current system, status is associated very closely with money, but it was not always so. In feudal times, wealthy mearchants were considered of
much lower status than relatively poor knights, for example, and few nobles would have chosen to swap positions with a rich merchant. So even if money
were to be eliminated, some other "status marker" would take its place as a little nugget for human competition to crystalize around.
Originally posted by CosmicEgg
Makes you wonder why the rich hold onto all that material wealth if it makes them so bleeding unhappy, doesn't it?
The way the current system is construed, the very rich cannot "stand still." First of all, when you really drill down, "money" is hard to define.
Is it only cash? Net worth, such as including property and investments? Do credit lines count? The "richer" you are the more complex it gets.
Take Donald Trump as an example. He swings between being utterly broke and being a billionare, because his "money" is in the form of real-estate
values, investments, credit lines, etc. There are points in time when his literal net worth has been deeply negative, but because of his name,
influence, connection, etc. he has been able to turn around numerous times and become a billionare on paper again. At one point in the early 90s I
think he was in debt to the tune of hundreds of millions. Technically he was much "poorer" than the poorest homless man under a bridge, yet his
lifestyle wasn't much impacted and a decade later he was a billionare again. The homeless man, meanwhile, is still homeless (if he is still alive
When you have that much wealth, you cannot "stand still." You have to constantly be protecting it, poking at it, prodding it, coddling it, wheeling,
dealing, etc...or you will become broke or deeply in debt. To be rich is never, ever a stable condition. You cannot stand still -- you either advance
or decline, and the more money you have in play, the more drastic the stakes and swings can be. This is one of several inner, deeper meanings behind
the saying "money can't buy you happiness."