I know, I know, it’s supposed to be a bit of Halloween humor, and I’m not supposed to take it so seriously. But ever since John McCain seized on Barack Obama’s comment about spreading the wealth around, there has been a barrage of such sentiments that I find ugly.
Implicit in this “joke” is the assumption that any income redistribution through progressive taxation gives undeserved benefits to people who don’t work hard or make a contribution to society. The flip side to this pretentious smugness is a suggestion that rich people got that way through greater effort or superior character. Frankly, I find that offensive. And usually inaccurate.
If the cartoon is correct, I guess that means that my kids’ teachers, or my local cops, or the hospital nurse on a 12-hour shift who changed my father’s bedpan while he was dying of cancer, just didn’t do enough to earn their own candy. If they only have a roll of Smarties while the rich folk are gorging on whole bags of Snickers, then it’s their own damn fault. It’s not about community, it’s about getting — and keeping — mine. How dare they think more should be asked of those to whom more is given, when it comes to funding the public’s highways, schools, libraries, national parks, and dare I say wars?
I live in Boulder, Colorado, so I know a lot of wealthy people. And I know some of them didn’t get there solely through their own sweat equity and tenaciousness. Some are TFBs (that’s my realtor’s shorthand for trust fund babies, all those 40-year-olds who can afford $2 million houses). Some had a leg up in a family business. Others went to Stanford or Dartmouth because their parents helped get them there, whether through connections or just via membership in a socioeconomic class that values good grades, SAT prep, and the ‘right’ colleges.
What about kids who grow up in communities that don’t offer such privileges? It’s a tougher road to wealth, that’s for sure. God forbid they reap any advantages from redistribution. And what about kids who don’t want to be orthopedic surgeons or corporate attorneys, but want to teach school in inner-city New Orleans, like my friend Ryan? Or the repairman who fixed my dishwasher, or the guy who changes the oil in my car? Lazy. Plumb lazy, lacking in ambition. No Snickers for them, by golly.
Happy Halloween, selfish Republicans. I hope you get lots of cavities.
Categories: scholars and rogues