The issue about which I am most passionate is the institutional class dynamic in the United States. The wealthy and well connected continue to see gains in wealth, influence, and standard of living as they milk poor Americans for all that they are worth: their labor, their soul, their mind. They use their clout to divide and conquer the vast majority of the United States’ inhabitants so they can continue to self-enhance. This structure is not just about power – it influences every other issue we can dream up. The CEOs of Monsanto, Dow, Bayer, and Tyson hold monopolies on various sectors of the agriculture industry and pit their farmers against each other, effectively making them serfs instead of competitive producers. Pharmaceutical companies bribe doctors to prescribe opioids to their patients so they can build an army of addicted consumers. Predatory banks mislead needy customers about loans that they don’t want, don’t need, and are unable to afford. The bottom line is that a shrinking number of privileged individuals in this country continue to suck money and power away from a growing pool of the underprivileged. And, as someone who could be considered wealthy and well-connected that recognizes the growing inequalities due to structural inadequacies, I see it as my duty to fight against it relentlessly.
My Ethical Philosophy Selector told me that the philosopher who I am most connected to is Immanuel Kant, who believes that we must act with a sense of duty in order to be moral, and that we must treat people as ends instead of means. Both of these ideals connect to my issue because I feel a personal duty to help effect the big, structural changes needed to revert the inequities present in the current American socioeconomic climate. I also believe, along with other Kantian philosophers, that people should be treated as eggs, with society incubating them and allowing them to reach their fullest, greatest potential, instead of being treated as cogs in a capitalist system. My TalentThemes show up all over this issue. My contextuality helps me to recognize that this system of structural inequality has existed before, and that smart reformers like Franklin and Theodore Roosevelt, Frances Perkins, and more have been able to end the systematic corruption. My connectedness gives me motivation to fight hard for my fellow human beings, because I realize that we are all part of something larger and that what’s best for them is also best for me. My restorativeness helps me to seek out problems with the machine and my intellectuality helps me ponder on solutions. Connected, these Themes provide me with a mindfulness that help me realize the web of problems that allow the wealthy and well-connected to become even better established in society.
All of this informs my Service Action Proposal because I recognize that solving the big, existential problems in our country today requires working from both within institutions, using the law to help give every possible foothold to the underprivileged, but also taking a grassroots approach to bringing change to our government and to American corporations. Public defenders aren’t enough to help the poorly-connected reap the benefits of all parts of American law; they’re only allowed to help with problems relating to their namesake, legal defense. Organizations like Legal Aid NC can help clients obtain tax benefits, expunge criminal records, expand their rights as employees, and fight back against greedy landlords. But, as members of a hierarchical society, we must recognize that it is our responsibility to speak truth to power. At this moment of maximum peril and maximum potential, we have to take community organizing to a whole new level to make sure that our attorneys general enforce antitrust law, to persuade our government to pass sweeping anti-corruption legislation, and to make sure that multinational corporations end their predatory practices and start working toward the greatest good for the most people.