In Every World, The Haves And Have Nots

Haves And Have Nots

So no matter the time nor the society and their particular philosophical, economical, and social creed, there are ALWAYS the haves and the have nots. 


You have your upper caste and lower caste, your rich and poor, your religious elites and laypersons, your Harvard-educated and community college grads, your executive suite and your day laborers, you masters and your slaves, your ruling elite and your plebeians, your hunter and hunted, your VIPs and your Joe Shmoes.


In India, you still have an extensive caste system even today.  In Russia, you have the KGB, the Politburo, and the Oligarchs. In China, you have the Communist Party, the Military elite, and the venture capitalists/billionaires. In Europe, you still have The Queen and vestiges of the old guard monarchies, although gone are the Feudal lords and serfs, instead replaced by the Church and successful business and political elite. In America, ah…money and political power make the country go round. 


Last evening, I watched the movie, Elysium, taking place in a dsytopian future where the Earth has become overpopulated, polluted, and sick, but the elite are riding high on a large circling space habitat called Elysium, where everyone lives in a mansion with pool and lush grounds, eats exquisitely, and has the finest healthcare in machines that can cure everything from lymphoma to do full facial reconstruction in a matter of seconds. 


Whether in the future or the past, the only difference between the haves and have nots is how much the haves have, and how little have nots have not.


Is this societal makeup preordained or is their a way that we can raise the standard of living for everyone AND make it more equitable (unless you consider it necessary for Bill Gates to have $80,000,0000,000 and the homeless person on the street not a dime in his pocket)?


Over and over again, I read how the disparity between rich and poor, powerful and powerless, becomes ever more pronounced:  

– Now for example, CEOs generally earn 331 times (yeah last year it was 354) the amount average workers do and 774 times as much as minimum wage earners!

– Studies that show that Presidential and executive powers continue to expand with eleven reasons why.

– And the richest 1% will soon own more than the rest of the world.


In Elysium, after a lot of sci-fi thriller action and fighting, the protagonist manages to make EVERYONE a citizen of Elysium, so they can all partake of the largess, and at the end the med ships arrive to cure all the sick. 


That’s the movies, but in real life, maybe we will see this only when the Messiah comes or there is a complete shift in the way we think and treat each other. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

What Are People Hungry For?

Katniss_salute_to_the_people

In the Hunger Games, the storyline is of the common people being punished for rebelling against “The Capital” generations ago, by having to put up male and female “Tributes” (kids age 12-18) from each of 12 districts to fight it out to the death, while the rich and powerful in The Capital watch, laugh, and enjoy the equivalent of the gladiators in the Coliseum.

The Games offer a restricted hope to the people–as hope is seen as “the only thing stronger than fear.” In this movie, the hope for winning the games is supposed to displace the fear of the central authorities over their subjects as well as any real hope of change, equality, and justice for the masses.

What the kids and adult fans of this movie seem to be lining up and cheering wildly for with this box-office smash hit is the main character Katniss Everdeen who defies the corrupt politicians and affluent capitalists by fighting not for her life in The Hunger Games as much as for the dignity of the common people in the districts.

From the beginning, Katniss become the first ever to volunteer for the games to take the place of her less adept, younger sister, Primrose, who is selected from District 12; Katniss put her life on the line to save her sister’s life.

And all along during the movie, Katniss refuses to be a pawn in the game and simply kill or be killed, but she rises above the fight and acts all the time with humanity, caring for other tributes and generally refusing to hurt others, unless her life is threatened and she literally has no choice.

For example, she cares for a younger girl from District 11 who eventually is speared to death by another tribute hunting them. Also, she cares for her companion from District 12, Peeta, who is injured, and she risks her life to get medicine to save his.

At climax, Katniss is ready to commit suicide, rather than continue playing to the evil dictates of the authorities.

Katniss comes from the poverty and ordinariness of the district people. However, her fighting spirit, humanity, and ability to outwit not only the other tributes, but the evil leaders–who play the tributes (and districts) off each other for their own power, permanence, and punishment of the lower class–makes her a hero among the masses who are at the ready to revolt at her simple salute to the people.

What I thought was going to be a kids movie that would put me to sleep, turned out to be an uplifting experience watching an old, familiar theme of Rocky the fighter win against all the odds, but in this case with the added twist of defying a corrupt government and elitist culture.

I think this movie is appealing to people at exactly a time now where the 99% are simmering and fed up with the shenanigans of the 1% and elements of both the Occupy movement and Tea Party are looking for principles of freedom, justice, and dignity to be restored.

The Hunger Games is not just about the dystopian future society that doesn’t exist today, but rather about a historical perspective of people who are craving for the proverbial “dirty politicians” and “greedy capitalists” to put aside their games, agendas, excuses, and pots of power and gold for a more utopian society where all people are created equal and treated fairly with hope anchored in reality.

(Source Photo: Adapted from here)

When a Phone is Not Just a Phone

Vertu = luxury phones, at least on the outside, for now. 
The phones are handmade, one at a time, by master craftsmen in England for the luxury division of Finnish phone maker, Nokia.  
Made from stainless steel with a sapphire crystal screen making them virtually unscratchable (except by diamonds) and keys that pivot on ruby bearings, the Vertu watches are undeniably eloquent and unique.
Bloomberg BusinessWeek (3-9 October 2011) pegs the average cost at for a Vertu at $6,800 with their Signature line costing more than twice than amount!
Started in 1998, they have sold more than 300,000 phones in the last decade, and have seen “high double-digit sales growth.”
The main problem with the phones according to IDC researcher is that they are “remaining decidedly low-tech”–running on “Symbian, the old Nokia smartphone operating system being phased out in favor of Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7″–another market non-starter!
Currently, they are seen as more jewelry than smartphone, and so “a lot of Vertu owners have another device for everyday use.”
However, another area where the Vertu phone has the special something is in terms of service–concierge service that is.  Free for the first year and then costing about $3,0000 a year thereafter, you get a 24-hour hotline in nine languages for handling everything from restaurant reservations to travel planning and sending exotic gifts, such as “a box of live butterflies”–well not something I would do everyday, but I may just not be such a great gift giver 🙂
Also, many models come with dual-SIM cards so you can have one phone for example for both business and private use with different phone numbers, networks, billing plans, etc.
Certainly this phone makes a big statement in terms of handsome looks and a very special service offering, but to really be luxury inside and out in the mobile computing marketplace, it’s got to do a deal with Apple and/or Android, period.
Vertu customers paying big bucks for a great phone, deserve not only the best looks, but the best smartphone technology.
Another big challenge is that with people upgrading their smartphones every 18-24 months, how do you maintain the Vertu’s value over time or is this a luxury purchase to be made on the order of Moore’s Law?
Oh baby, that’s a lot of Vertu!