Primates and people – they’re smarter than us

Our latest column from William Thomas

There’s a brief but very telling video on the internet that explains a great deal of the chaos into which this world has descended. ‘Equal Pay For Monkeys – YouTube’ is a simple experiment conducted by primate expert Frans de Waal. Two Capuchin monkeys, placed in separate glass cages, side by side are given the same task for the same reward.

Through a hole in the glass wall of their cages, each monkey was required to hand a rock to the lab technician who then rewarded each of them for their effort with a piece of cucumber. Acceptable payment for a task done well. This worked without a hitch with both monkeys 25 times in a row. Give rock, receive piece of cucumber, eat cucumber, repeat, repeat, repeat which is exactly the same effect cucumbers have on me.

But then, without warning, one monkey received a grape as payment for completing his task. The other monkey saw this, passed his rock through the hole and waited for his grape, a much more delicious reward than a hunk of white, watery gunk. However the technician hands him the usual piece of cucumber and the monkey goes ballistic. Knowing he’s been screwed, he reaches through the hole and throws the cucumber at the handler. He shakes the glass wall of his cage and then beats his fists on the floor. He reacts exactly the way Lindsay Lohan did when the judge took her car keys away to avoid another hit and run accident. For doing the exact same work and getting lousy pay for it, the Capuchin blew up the lab. You gotta’ see this primate protest. Screamin’ and yellin’, he looks like Donald Trump after they took away the needles to his Obama voodoo doll.

It’s funny to watch but you can’t help but feel the poor bugger’s pain. “No, no, not fair, not fair.” Mad as hell and not going to take it anymore! The end result of this two-monkey study in inequity was one very pissed off Capuchin. But wait, it gets better. Sorry, worse.

The second time the same monkey did not get a grape for completing the task, he actually hit the technician with the chunk of cucumber. The third time the monkey did not get the grape but his buddy did, he busted out of the cage and beat the technician to death with a rock. Sorry, I made that one up. No, that could not happen because after all, he’s a primate not a person! Monkeys do not seek revenge with guns or suicide vests, but the implication is there – the ‘have nots’ do not play nice with the ‘haves’!

Allow that sort of discrimination to fester for a long time among people, say uneducated, whites from the rust belt of America who’ve been promised great things for decades but given the shaft and the disastrous result is the election of Donald Trump to the presidency of the United States. Silicon Valley gets grapes, rural America gets cucumber – anger and revenge rise up like acute indigestion. (I tell ya, I really hate cucumbers!)

The commentator of the Capuchin video, Frans de Waal summed up the explosive ending to the experiment by saying: “So this is basically the Wall Street protest you see here.” This got a big laugh from Waal’s audience … but not from me.

When I had nearly half my life savings wiped out in the 2007/2008 economic meltdown by a skulk of greedy thieves boldly operating a highly profitable real estate sting operation, I became an ardent fan of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Normally a law abiding citizen, I found myself rooting for the kids with masks who were smashing Wall Street windows. The only way this could have been better, I thought, was if the executives from Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch and Fannie Mae were standing behind those windows when the rocks came crashing through.

And that’s what the world is coming down to – a war between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots.’ The poor and shrinking middle class against the ridiculously rich. The indignant cucumber spitters versus the oh-so-happy grape eaters. And yes, the very rich pay people (not very well mind you) to peel those grapes for them.

When recently the statistic emerged that the extremely 1% rich of this world have accumulated the same amount of wealth as the other 99% … I wanted to rattle my cage and slam down my fists and spit out cucumber because in fairness, as previously mentioned, I hate that damn vegetable anyway.

I thought all this diabolic inequality needs is to have the richest of the rich say “let them eat cake” and it’s storm the Bastille time. Game on for the global revolution. But no, apparently as long as we have the bare necessities of life plus a daily pint and the occasional vacation, we’re content just to bitch and whine about our predicament, but not take any action to change it.

There’s no doubt in my mind that humans have evolved from the species of monkeys, but apparently that injustice gene, the one that turns a Capuchin into a screaming meme, that has not kicked in yet. Please have a look at the video at “Equal Pay For Monkeys – YouTube.”

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