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Thomas Couture: The Supper after the Masked Ball (1855)

" … the only option for avoiding the addictions …"

In this culture, my culture, anyone can get addicted to absolutely anything. What was once revered as "the land of the free and the home of the brave" today seems to have increasingly become the land of the spree and the home of the enslaved. Those suffering from Success Addition Disorders (SAD) seem to be among the most troubled class, for they turn their colossal successes into abject failures. We see evidence of their influence in the tatters of the present Republican Party, a party once dedicated to promoting equality and now obsessed with just avoiding taxes. As with any negative target, and doubly true with any obsession, focusing upon avoiding anything tends to attract precisely what one seeks to avoid, that, or a deeply ingrained paranoia. Today's Success addicted, those suffering from Sexcess, exhibit all the usual symptoms of any full-blown addiction, with the added affliction that they're the most conspicuous consumers, almost as if they're proud of themselves. Don't let their gyrations confuse you. They're ill and suffering, stinking rich!

Dissatisfied with simply spending their fortunes, they employ themselves in the more dubious professions, focusing upon wealth defenses, primarily through concocting fresh schemes to avoid taxes but also extending into funding hyper-conservative pseudo-political movements.
A few of them combining resources could probably eliminate a few of the greatest remaining evils. Still, they tend, instead, to adopt philosophies that reject the gospel of kindness and generosity to embrace ones of extreme self-reliance, prescribing that everyone merely pull up their own drawbridges and refuse to assist anyone else, lest they encourage socialism or dependence. Dependent themselves upon the largess of a public purse that manages to maintain an order of sorts, creating infrastructure and enforcing laws that provide certain advantages in deliberately unequal portions, they stand vigilant to protect their inheritance from all comers, both foreign and domestic. They're even patriotic to the extent that they expect to enjoy certain rights and privileges not usually afforded to the more common among us.

Special privilege accrues to those who can easily afford to hire the white shoe lawyers and accountants who can file endless motions, not to mention the less scrupulous representatives, senators, and judges who practice their trades on the absolute margins of civil society. They live just south of the most generous interpretation of the law, constantly expanding borders by simply squatting without permission, for they firmly believe that possession might just as well represent 110% of the law, their half. They're often able to make these intrusions stick. They wage unending war against their very own government, which, for the purposes of their ego defense, they believe conspires against their own best interests. Imagine an organization dedicated to common security and collecting progressive taxes! A state that, by practice, seems like an enemy unto its most valuable citizens. Outrageous how they dedicate themselves to eroding traditional privileges!

I doubt there's a cure for most who suffer from Success Addiction Disorders, not one they'd willingly swallow. They will continue to mainline the most biased news sources and reject even the most benevolent invitations to join the human race from which their Sexcesses sadly separated them. They will insist upon isolation and steadfastly refuse to join the general population in simply enjoying Success, however modest, for it seems as though too much Uppercase Success might just produce much more damage than does too little lowercase success, the kind the rest of us seem to enjoy. A humbling failure or two might well render anyone more generous, more understanding, and more accepting of fellow citizens' foibles, while Sexcess seems to harden heart and soul into Scrooge-like forms and render super yachts and private jets into perfectly reasonable purchases. A few of the terribly successful (I intended that entendré) dedicate themselves to sharing their obvious excess rather than living to avoid paying taxes. Sharing, a positive objective, might be the only option for avoiding the addictions accompanying altogether too much succeeding, not that I'm in any danger of requiring that cure, nor are you, I'm sure.

©2023 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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