Our Relationship to Greed

Is this politics, or is this work that compassionately seeks to support recovery for people suffering from the grip of addiction? Which is it?


Some see our work as "political".  We see it as taking responsibility for our relationships to those who might use or abuse our power against us, might do so openly, or who are perhaps in denial (as people who suffer from addiction or serve it as enablers often are), and with whom we may have to draw strong boundaries in order to make the healthiest choices.

In this way, its personal, not political, work. Most of us work within a culture at National Intervention in which it is ok to admit that our elections and government are largely privatized now, and that a seemingly insatiable addiction to wealth & power is the reason why.

In short:
We understand our political, economic, and electoral systems to be no different than any other system ruled by an addiction. Likewise, we consider almost all of us to be part of the problem as well, simultaneously feeding the addiction (which we simply call, "Greed") and suffering from the effects of it. We also acknowledge that most of us may be in denial about any or all of this analysis, and that without an intervention that is more well-organized than the addiction system, it will likely kill us, like many addictions do.

We treat wealth and power, particularly the heavily imbalanced and amassed concentrations of corporate wealth and power, as addictive substances.

We recognize the ingredients of wealth and power in our society as:

a) labor and consumption, which produce wealth, and
b) votes, which allocate our political power

When we screen elected officials and candidates with the Official Sobriety Test for addiction to power & money in politics, it serves as a "sobriety checkpoint" for those who may be too "under the influence" of their corporate sponsors while behind the wheel of democracy.

You may review our framework or get a more in-depth analysis of each of our roles in supporting the addiction system, or, alternatively, you could also read this summary:

A Brief Summary of Corporate Greed as Our Addiction System:
Corporations are not people, but the people who run them are real human beings. Too many of them cannot seem to stop themselves from making destructive choices in the blind pursuit of wealth and power. A well-organized intervention becomes necessary when our relationships of any kind are with people who have become a threat to themselves and to others.

Corporations operate as kingpins of the cartels that run our system. Without producing wealth for the cartels, most believe they themselves could not survive. Under this duress, most workers agree to sell the wealth they produce with their labor for a fraction of its real value. The cartels add the muscle of political parties to make sure that the substances of economic power (money and wealth) and political power (votes and legislation) are always distributed and redistributed to them, the cartels, their managers, and the kingpins.

Elected officials, while as vulnerable to intoxicating substances as all people, are often serving in a more co-dependent role as enablers, on which the addiction depends to be fed and to survive. The entire household serves the master addiction; addicts may fear they will lose access to their substance and enablers may fear the wrath of an unsatisfied addiction. Sadly, in this household, run by those struggling with their addiction, we manufacture all of the ingredients of the substance of greed: As workers and consumers we produce all wealth. As voters, we produce all political power. So, it is ultimately up to us to refuse to provide any more of our wealth and power until the addiction is managed and elected officials can safely get behind the wheel of democracy.

Today, most of us are told to give more and more for less and less, or we'll be punished by the consequences, or worse: our children will suffer those consequences. This is the essence of what calls us to intervene with invitations of support for sobriety, draw strong boundaries, build our support groups, and leave our abusive partners if they cannot choose a commitment to recovery. If they can quit anytime they want, we only ask that they prove it while under our roof and in this relationship with us, before the addiction has devoured everything we need to survive and thrive.

When People Know Better, but Cannot Stop Themselves
In the aftermath of the 2008 financial collapse and the ensuing crises, both major parties endorsed a massive bailout of public money to support the financial industry that caused the collapse, before they too fell with it.  CEOs of banks soon lined-up to testify to Congress, making this sobering point:
"We cannot stop ourselves. We need Congress to stop us. Your job is to regulate us." 

In 2010, the Supreme Court (5-4) asserted that, because corporations are considered persons in the eyes of the Law, but have no biological "voices," their money will be considered their protected, unlimited "free speech" in our elections. Exactly four months later, the BP oil catastrophe became the world's worst industrial disaster of its kind at the time, killing 11 workers, decimated the local economy, devastating the ecological systems there and for miles all around, and exposing local cleanup crews and residents to volatile toxins and carcinogens. Nearly four months after that, the oil gushing from the ruptured seafloor well had still not be sealed-off. Yet, in the time between the explosion and when the rupture was finally sealed, it was the President Obama's EPA that quietly permitted nearly 2,000 other off-shore drilling permits, virtually identical to the one that wreaked this unprecedented havoc on workers, residents, the environment, and the industries dependent on its health. 

Again and again, we witness the blind pursuit of wealth and power at all costs, we see the risks manifested in every aspect of our lives, our institutions, and our world.

And it was after the the government's choices in 2010 that we sought to answer the question:

We found this useful answer:
When people know better, but cannot stop themselves, they are mirroring the same traits that mark addiction, enabling, or both.

We do not claim that this is the only circumstance, the only illness, the only cause of all the problems.

We do assert that, whatever other co-morbid conditions may be present and diagnosable --for example, destructive personality disorders, psychopathy, or other unmanaged illnesses-- addiction is not a metaphor for our system, but the model.  As a major force in how our system operates, who protects that system at all costs, why, and why it is so difficult to overcome, addiction certainly appears to be a clear lens through which we can describe our economic and political household, even as that system may be responsible for burning down the whole house while we're all in it. If we are to pass on a planet and society worth inheriting, we cannot get around this one fact: Recovery is essential.

And finally, choosing to work within the framework of proven addiction & recovery theory and practice, allows us to practice a different operating system. (Our national director once referenced our alternative operating system as "Love" in this Martin Luther King, Jr. tribute).

For more ways to communicate the need for sobriety and recovery in this special relationship, share this year's Video Valentine, and support getting it to every candidate, the White House, and your elected officials in Congress!...