These are some thoughts on a topic I have been learning the past couple of years. We have developed a political class in this country that has acted to give away wealth and in the process made themselves wealthy. The current administration has adopted policies to reverse this long-standing trend. If successful, we should see no global tariffs, foreign countries should pay us for the military protections we provide, our medical innovation costs should be equally shared vs. US citizens paying the highest price, we should see term limits for politicians instead of lifetime political operators and our taxes and government costs should be lower. In other words, government should be rationalized as a lower cost on society and society regain its decision making for self-governance.
There is a global culture of wealth shaming. Don’t feel guilty because you have more than others. There will always be people who have more or less than you. People who shame others only want your money. The Socialist/Communist mantra is identical to those claiming wealth inequality is ‘evil’ and needs to be eradicated. Humans are born with different talents and energy levels. Those who work the hardest, tend to make their own ‘luck’ and come out ahead. They become wealthier through their efforts. No two individuals are equal and we should not shame those who have worked hard and created wealth to give it to those who did not succeed as well for various reasons. The fairest approach is to provide equal opportunity, but not force equal outcomes.
The current administration with its tariff leveling approach is working towards reversing the political give away which has been built on ‘wealth guilt’. The argument by Obama reflected the part of society that stressed the attitude ‘you did not build that’, that businesses were shamefully built on the backs of others with the implication that businesses have somehow stolen from consumers through various forms of deceit. This has long been an argument of unions and Socialist leaning politicians. The US which has become wealthier because it is the only Free Market and wealth-guilt has resulted in giving this away to societies that do not support Democracy as we do. The truth is that companies can only be successful if they produce goods consumers need to improve their lives. ‘Faster, Better, Cheaper’ relates to the process of displacing older products and services with those which enhance consumer standard of living. It is consumers who make that choice in a Free Market and it is how society advances. If a company does this well and at low cost to itself, then the company makes a profit. Apple’s iPhone is such a product that has now spawned an entirely new category of consumer product called the Smartphone. No one can navigate daily activity without these devices as they enhance our access to mobile information to such a degree that we make far better individual choices. The information lets us understand our world, travel efficiently, winnow through the vast number of products of everyday life without having to travel to stores and get them delivered at our doorsteps for far less cost than before. Apple’s profit comes from producing a value at lower cost to them than what we see as value to us.
Businesses must offer value and produce a profit to succeed. The consumer makes the choices as to which products work. Businesses are not built on the ‘backs of employees’ or the ‘backs of consumers’. It is this lack of perception that in a Free Market it is ‘consumer choice’, not only how to spend one’s earnings but what job to take, what skills to develop and so on down the line. It is a very shallow view that sees only the cash-side of transactions and not the benefit-delivered side. This has been a societal issue at least for the past 100yrs that wealthier members of society are somehow evil and should be shamed for success.
If you have more than someone else, you will be shamed for it. There will always be that element in society who feel it should be theirs. Understand this element in society. It comprises a decent portion of our thinking. Your success and even the success of family members who have passed assets to you in the form of a lifestyle, education and etc worked hard for it and should not feel guilty because of it. Your responsibility is to be fair to others, work hard, practice ‘The Golden Rule’ and do what is right for you. Guilt should not be part of this mix. You have nothing to feel guilty for if you treat everyone you meet fairly and in the process do well for yourselves. Wealth-shaming has been part of the political/societal control process to keep themselves in political power.
Most middle-and-upper-income people work hard to keep what they earn.
Middle-class people (and especially the wealthy) are subject to much invoking of guiltand shaming. For example, “You’re PRIVILEGED!” The implication is that making a good living doesn’t come mainly from ability and hard work but from race, class, and gender.
Indeed, most novels, plays, movies, and the mainstream media, portray the poor as innocent victims of middle-class and especially rich people’s ill-treatment. Well-off people are disproportionately portrayed as having acquired their money unfairly, typically a sleazy businessman—yes, it’s usually a man. In children’s movies, screenwriters have the luxury of drawing on monarchies, so, many of the bad guys are wealthy royalty (for example, in Shrek, Frozen, The Little Mermaid, and Beauty and the Beast) who didn’t earn their money; they inherited it via primogeniture.
Of course, some people had money because they inherited it or derived benefit from their race, class, or gender. But most middle-and upper-income people (of all races and genders) did work harder and smarter for longer, delaying gratification, for example, forgoing income and taking on debt to get more education so that an employer would pay them well. Or, if the person runs a business, s/he risked being one of the half of businesses that fail, and instead, worked hard enough and wisely enough that lots of customers—rich and poor—were willing to part with their hard-earned dollars to buy the product or service that s/he made available to them.
Middle and upper earners are also guilt-tripped into not voting in their or their family’s self-interest but rather to vote for candidates who will raise their taxes, for example, to give more of their money to the poor:
- More education resources redistributed from schools serving their children to schools serving the poor. These aren’t just cash resources but, for example, eliminating classes grouped by student achievement.
- “Free college for all,” which would reduce their children’s chance of admission to selective colleges. And if admitted, at most colleges, the middle-class qualifies for little cash aid. Mainly, they must take out loans, often endangering the family’s financial security. And student loans must not only be paid back with interest, it’s virtually the only loan you cannot discharge in bankruptcy—you must continue to pay, no matter what.
- The focus-group-tested phrase “Medicare for All.” That means health care for everyone, whether they’ve paid into the system or not, legal or not. That means that taxpayers will get worse access to the already overburdened, error-ridden health care system. That, in turn, increases the middle-income person’s risk of poor treatment and excess morbidity and mortality; that is, prolonged recoveries and unnecessarily dying.
Meanwhile, the guilt-and-shame mongers don’t mention that the top 1% of earners already pay 39% of the federal income tax, the top 10% pay 71% of the tax, and the bottom 50% less than 3%.
Atop all that, middle- and upper earners are frequently bombarded with solicitations to donate yet more of their money and time to nonprofits, which mainly focus on the poor. And the pitches work. Those maligned one-percenters gave more than a third of the over $400 billion that Americans gave to charity last year.
Again, of course, some middle- and upper-income people, like some of the poor, acquire their money through subterfuge or inheritance. But most middle- and upper-income earners, though imperfect as we all are, have earned the right to walk this earth and to put their head on the pillow each night without guilt or shame—even if they don’t vote to have yet more money, education, or healthcare wrested from themselves and their children.