Thought Sketch #0004 - Resourced Prosperity, The Immorality Of 'Charity', And A Medium Amount Of New Age Bullshit
Thought Sketches are the long-form microblogging notes I would traditionally post to Facebook, Tumblr, etc. These thoughts are documented here as brief snippets of thought and contemplation, a public journal of my observations and insights, as I’m not really one for blogging or writing the way I’m “supposed” to.
NOTE #1 - A Medium Amount Of New Age Bullshit
Very recently, I raised the scale tiers for The Writing Hive from $30/$45/$60 to $30/$75/$90, and I wrote a post in my invite-only magical group about it that I’m going to share with you.
This rate change is a teaching moment of, "When the New Age-y bullshit isn't actually complete bullshit, it's just a medium amount of bullshit."
You see a lot of weird and fucked up statements about pricing and how to price your work in business spaces. Just yesterday I saw a post from somebody who wrote the following (please don't go harass her, kthx, I'll personally kick you):
"Here are the only reasons that you shouldn’t charge high fees for your products or services:
1. You are a con artist
2. You are selling snake oil
3. You are lazy AF and aren’t gonna deliver
4. You are a Trump supporter (see what I did there? Instantly repelling clients who don’t like me or my values BUT would still use me for my expertise and knowledge; also see #1)
5. You just want quick cash and have no real heart or passion for what you do. (You’re gonna crash and burn and it won’t be pretty Ma)
6. You hate people (means you don’t like yourself very much and mindset is crucial to success. Honestly people like this can and DO make money; they just aren’t my peeps 🤷🏾♀️)"
This is, in a word, absurd, and logically not sound.
By this measure, the little taco truck lady who charges $1-1.75 for her product is a fraud, lazy, just wants quick cash, and has no heart or passion for what she does, and she hates people, all because she doesn’t charge top dollar for her product…when direct observation and inquiry could very easily dispel all of these notions. That's a tall amount of definitive statements to prove, first and foremost, but the whole sentiment also fails to operate with sufficient nuance about people’s relationships with money both practically and symbolically. But go awf, I guess. Whatever works for you. I just don’t think the logic holds up to scrutiny or nuance, and it falls into the spectrum of, “Fucked statements about money, business, and capitalism that make no sense and make people feel like trash for not conforming to unrealistic, unsustainable, and unfortunate ideas about how they should live.” It’s great copy, though. Hits all the pain points to drive those sales home, that’s for sure.
There are a lot of people who don't maximize out the amount of money they charge for something - just because they could - for a variety of reasons. Many of them have built fine and even prosperous lives for themselves, and if you asked them to assess if they had enough and were nourished + fulfilled by their lives, they’d say yes. There are also plenty of people who don't prioritise money (which is a constructed compulsion of both hyperconsumption and capitalism, we should take a minute to note) and that's also well and good if it works for them, I know plenty of people who are mostly off-grid and happy.
It's also true that people - primarily people who occupy political and identity margins - often _undersell_ themselves and the fruit of their labor (including in salary negotiation! join a co-operative or unionize, my g! your boss’s boss is stealing your fruit!) because society has conditioned them out of understanding - to put this in fuckery doo occult speak - their True Will around their material needs. Which means all the needs they *actually have* (not the ones capitalism or supremacies tell them they -should- have), and all the wants they *actually have* (not just the ones capitalism or supremacies tell them they -should- want.) Adjusting to the idea that you do not have to play ball with capitalists, marketers, landlords, real estate developers, or anyone else who benefits from your exploitation, fears, and insecurities is a lifelong work (for we’ve all experienced lifelong conditioning) but once it dawns on you, life opens up.
Now, this probably sounds familiar as this “revolutionary” position is where most New Age-y and other folx stop, because despite what they try to sell you, there’s nothing about the above that actually challenges our existing supremacies and systems of power. Not a gahtdamb thing. This notion, in fact, oftentimes then transfers itself onto things like cultivated identity - identity formed by shared consumption, not by ideological or intrinsic material factors, i.e., disability, race, gender, etc. - in order to keep you on the hamster wheel of hell, spinning, spinning, spinning, going nowhere but McMansion Hell and ecological collapse, fast.
There is a part two to this equation that makes it immediately apparent what is and is not for you, and what is and is not - at least by the criteria of my lefty ass lens - ethical. That stage two is: are you willing to take personal responsibility for everything that acquiring and maintaining the object of your desire requires? AND, does you acquiring or maintaining that desire require the exploitation of others or violation of their consent, destruction of the environment in untenable + unsustainable ways, or unduly deprive or burden others from accessing the necessities of a dignified life? This is why critically engaging capitalism and doing the work of interrogating supremacies is vital to you actually cultivating the success, rest, and life YOU want, and are willing to accept personal responsibility for, which is the main differentiator between my position and the heaping pile of shit you hear from these marketing and business folx.
If you’re not willing to accept personal responsibility for the consequences of your desires, you should not pursue those desires. For example: money is power under capitalism, and under this system, becoming a millionaire means you are vested with socio-political power that is significant and should not be vested into a small group of individuals, or individuals period, without some sort of accountability and restraint by the community as a whole. If stewarding the power that comes with that millions of dollars - including paying an equitable amount of taxes, being held to much higher levels of public scrutiny for how you obtained those resources and how you conduct yourself + direct that power, being held to higher ethical standards around how you apply your social capital, being expected to redistribute your excess and unused capital in fair + equitable ways, etc. - guess what, boo boo? You don't want to be a millionaire! And that's ok! Most people don't actually want to be millionaires, they want JUSTICE and LIBERATION FROM CAPITALISM.
But, all of that aside, that does not mean you gotta roll yourself into a ditch and die a martyr's death financially. It means that you have to find your enough, and hold fast to that enough even when credit cards, corporations, and consumerism all come knocking, and fulfill that enough in ways that you can accept personal responsibility for + are congruent with your values and that don’t require the undermining of the planet or collective well-being to fulfill.
This is important when it comes to doing financial sorcery and money work, because not only will your Selves intervene if you haven't taken the time to align yourself with these True Will needs + wants, so will: 1) Your Others, and 2) Your Ancestors. They will block a bitch's blessing RIGHT quick. And they will do that because whatever sales you could've made, or job you might have taken, might not actually be a blessing at all, because you're bleeding yourself *or* you're not congruent with your professed values. This can also be true if you're trying to charge $6,000 for something that is just as lucrative and easy at $2,000, but somebody got in your ear and told you some bullshit about how you're a fraud if you didn't charge the $6,000, *OR* you were working that non-profit job that treated you like trash because you didn't want to take the $300k/year salaried position because you thought that made you a greedy bastard, even though you'd donate a lot of that money, you'd be well-rested, at peace with yourself, and able to use the time when you're not having a mental breakdown due to horrible labor conditions to do all the high-level volunteering that's often critically needed by organizations doing grassroots work. It's all a puzzle, my beautiful friend. You just gotta figure out what your picture looks like! And when the picture feels skewed to you, you might be able to sell it to others if you’re charismatic and/or politically privileged enough to receive the benefit of the doubt, but odds are it’s going to feel Sisyphean in the end.
I underpriced myself here accidentally: I got the $30 figure right for the slide scale end, but not the rest of the scale. It happens. I felt a tingling in the force. My Others tapped me on the shoulder, metaphorically, and said, "Child, no." So I divined on it, and I ran through the copy again, and I realised: yehp, they're right, this is off. And because it was off and my body is a precious, sensitive ass vessel, hustling my tuchus off (my job) to get it filled at the original rate would've ended in disaster, and any money magic may have worked but it would probably blow up in my face *or* not be -as- effective as it could be with everything lined up.
So the New Age-y bullshit about trusting your intuition and vibes, blah blah nonsense, is smidge valid here. But it misses the whole bigger lens, which is why I'm here 🤷🏾♀️
tl;dr - This shit is hard, capitalism is a dick, charge what you need to live your best life - not anyone else's.
NOTE #2 - ‘Charity’, ‘Philanthropy’, ‘Giving’, And The Liberation of ‘Redistribution’
Words have power, and some words I want you to stop giving power to are ‘charity’, ‘philanthropy’, and ‘giving.’
The majority of situations that our society argues requires the intercession of ‘charity’, ‘philanthropy’, and ‘giving’ are a direct result of inequitable distribution of resources and the deliberate engineering of political and social suffering. When we - those of us who recognize the necessity of interdependence and intercommunal right relationships - use this language to speak of our virtue out of fear of turning away the moderate or making people comfortable, we are feeding into illusions that are unsustainable and untenable. If you acquire resourced prosperity (cash, land, commodities, socio-political influence) that exceeds your actual material needs (which, by virtue of the consideration of personal responsibility, includes your sustainable wants), you are not acting morally benefic when you share of that bounty with others. You are performing a logically sound, strategic act of survival. You are preventing waste, stagnancy, and engaging in efficient use of resources to ensure that what you have does not rot away or eat away at the community around it, both literally and figuratively. You are redistributing (which does not necessitate equality but equity when talking about the how of allocation; i.e., reparations for Black people who were enslaved in the United States) the weight and the opportunities, with no harm or infringement on your quality of life or health, your individual dignity as a human being, nor your autonomy.
While I’m not the biggest fan of Jacobin Magazine, Mathew Snow’s piece on why the concept of charity is an unethical idea articulates an important point: cultivating and affirming the ideology of Individualism (which is not the same as something being individual or about our unique constellation of identity within an autonomous body) is anathema to a just society. We require interdependence with the Earth and intercommunal relating in order to survive and sustain as individuals and as a species, and denial of these facts for the purpose of greed and out of fear is what is compelling us ever-faster towards the complete collapse of our ecology and thus all our futures. This includes the inevitable destruction (that they are desperately trying to avoid through the mechanisms of capitalism) of the billionaires who think living in a bunker and being the last humans on Earth is preferable to no longer being able to be a hoarder on a Earth-destroying scale.
By deliberately reframing sharing and gifting as redistribution, we begin to see it as an act of utility and survival - unapologetic in the face of right-wing talking points that malign usefulness, empathy, and resisting fear-driven behavior - to share what we have in abundance with others. It’s a gift of life to us and them.
Redistribution is not the enemy.
Charity and greed are.
Note #3 - Resourced Prosperity
Resourced prosperity: the acquisition or availability of land for interdependent cultivation, the development of specialised labor skills, liquid cash/chits of exchange, and socio-political capital that makes it easier to move within the machinations of oppression and the state.
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