Most of us act out of emotion most of the time; emotions are instinctive and often overwhelm logic and reason. Almost everything that is important to us--love, family, self-esteem, fears and dreams--is heavily guided by emotion. But we insist that we make decisions based on facts and logic when we usually look to facts and logic to support our emotion-based decisions. We make choices and decisions that make us feel good and avoid painful emotions.
A lot of people derive a great deal of pleasure from gaining superiority over others, it feeds their ego and eases fears and insecurities; power both alleviates and creates great fears. The "winners" in our society will never have enough money or power because the pleasure does not come from being rich, it comes from feeling superior to another individual or group. Once you gain a little power you must continually press for more, to fill an unfillable need for the ego-stroking that power provides.
Power is a verb. Power is not a thing to be won or lost. It is a relationship and it only exists when it is wielded. People do not hold power over us, they demand the power and we give it. When we start exerting power, the relationship changes.
Power is also an incredible high but it only stimulates the pleasure centers when it is demonstrated. It was utterly illogical for the Wall Street elite to go out on their skyscraper balcony to drink champagne before the Occupy Wall Street Protesters. They did it anyway, laughing, because it felt great to know that they are far more powerful than the rabble below them, the little mice scurrying about the cobblestones and squeaking about their short, unimportant little lives. The Enron boys laughed about screwing Granny. Our presidents laugh as they send drones and soldiers off to die. The problem with being one of the 99% percent is that there are so many of them and everyone knows value is based on scarcity.
Coming up next: Megan McArdle whips out her magnifying glass and examines the unfortunate phenomenon of disgruntled youth taking to the streets.
(edited after posting)