The 2003 Documentary “Festival Express” follows the Grateful Dead on a 1970 train tour of Canada. Along the way we meet fans and witness the sparking point where untested hippie idealism meets show biz reality.

Specifically, fans express dismay that the concerts they love cost anything at all. Shouldn’t music be free? Don’t beautiful things belong to the people? Aren’t rock stars already rich? Etc.

The basic response is that touring costs money, dumbass. It’s a law of nature, a benevolent food chain. Peace and love are the goals, but they will never be the means.

The real explanation is more complicated.

Money becomes toxic when we make decisions based on nothing else, ignoring love & compassion. But love & compassion become detached and irrelevant when we make decisions without considering practical resources, i.e. money. Love must decide what we do, but money will affect how we do it.

When these two sides are driven apart, when money and political power are divorced from compassion and common sense, nothing good can happen. By definition, what’s good can’t get done, and what gets done can’t be good.

Money is blood. When it spills, or clots, or collects, or shows through the skin, or fails to reach the extremities – we must investigate thoroughly and immediately.

We must be suspicious of money. We must regulate it, control it, understand its corrupting influence. We must trace its movements to learn where the influence comes from, and where the profit is going.

But money isn’t the problem, any more than blood is the problem. When it stops circulating, the life-sustaining system is threatened.

Many people have complained that Barack Obama accepts money for giving speeches. Such complaints reach toward a legitimate suspicion, but miss the rung – and only help to separate the goal of progress from the means of progress. The guiding principle of such complaints is “Money must act without compassion, and compassion must act without money.”

Donald Trump ‘won’ the Presidency for many reasons, mostly centered around his cynical campaign of manipulative disinformation.

With narrow margins, however, misguided idealism on the left was a crucial factor in his victory.

It’s a law of nature, a corrosive food chain. Resentment of the system will always work against those who would improve the system, and in favor of those who will make it worse.

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