Pernicious Envy

“The world is not driven by greed. It is driven by envy”.

Charlie Munger, Feb 2022, aged 98, Vice Chairman Berkshire Hathaway, Chairman Daily Journal Company, Billionaire, Genius.

The pandemic-time reflecting that I first foresaw in February and March 2020 and discussed here at MacroEdgo revolves a great deal around envy.

Envy has become integral to our modern identity – how we see ourselves, and especially whether we are ‘worthy’ of envy by others, and how we identify others, or how we perceive our relative ‘envy-worthiness’ in comparison to others.

Pandemic reflecting was always going to revolve around two things – first, what sacrifices have we been making to be more envy-worthy, and then are these sacrifices really worth it and ultimately are they making ‘me’ content in my life and proud of who I am.

I believed that the answer to that final question for very many would be ‘No’, and that is why I predicted a ‘Great Reset’ in attitude and behaviours.

Since much of this reflection revolved around envy, which obviously is intimately involved with income and employment, this Reset has involved a progression of observed worker behaviours from the Great Resignation, then Great Reshuffle, then Quiet Quitting, and now the Great Breakup.

This is where greed intersects with envy, and especially how the greed of the Global Elite 1% intersects with and encourages the envy of many of the remaining 99% of us or 7.92 Billion people (note that the global population right now is surpassing 8 Billion!)

I expressed this view in my brief essay “What Really Scares The Global Elite“, as humanity was beginning to struggle with the consequences of the first truly global pandemic in over a century, on 14 April 2020:

What the Global Elite really fear is you developing insufficient ASPIRATION to acquire all of those things [defined earlier as impressive life experiences and things that may create envy in others]!

That in this time of solitude, with painful loss experienced by so many families, when the Jones’s who must be kept up with are less visible to us, societies of people might reflect on what it is that nourishes souls and gives meaning, and that we collectively might decide that is not continual wasteful mindless consumerism hand in hand with higher consumer debt.

The Global Elite fear what I have termed “The Great Reset” because they know that major global events often are accompanied by this psychological reset.

That is why the Global Elite are so concerned to end the lockdowns as soon as possible. They want to get everyone back on their hamster wheels – of working more and more to earn more and more to buy more and more things with the aim of impressing others – before those habits are lost for a generation.

I concluded that piece by imploring people to continue their honest reflections and not be manipulated back into that downward spiraling envy cycle.

Still two and a half years later we are doing just that en masse as the Global Elites – exclusive of Charlie Munger and his partner Warren Buffett – try all of the tricks at their disposal to get us back on our hamster wheels, imbalanced, discontent, many angry others hurting for reasons they do not understand…


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© Copyright Brett Edgerton 2022

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