Two months ago, I argued that the existence of billionaires is just one of the many parts of our society that leads to suffering and frustration, and that we really shouldn’t allow one person to have a thousand million dollars while others are dying in the streets. One month ago, I backed up the idea that people with ridiculous amounts of money are a bad idea for the rest of us by citing the Bible itself, who again let me remind you says, “Hoarding riches harms the saver.” And yet still some folks are upset that I say these things, or at least I think they are, the angry, middle-of-the-night comments I get are kinda hard to make sense of.
But still, the question remains: why is there this knee-jerk reaction to defend Jeff Bezos even if it means ignoring the words of the Christ himself? As I mentioned last month, it’s like a new religion is taking hold, a religion that worships money and power instead of kindness and compassion. It’s no longer talk of giving up all your possessions or giving folks free healthcare when they come down with, in the case of Lazarus, a nasty case of death. It’s about being the biggest and baddest dog on the block, and there’s no way to get that status by being a nice. As the reality show contestants always say “I didn’t come here to make friends,” and we’re living more and more in a world that looks more like Survivor… but why?
Well, who would stand to benefit from the folks making $100,000 punching down at the people who make $20,000? Probably not the person making $15,000, or even the person making $250,000. Think about the small towns you live in, and think your local big players. Are they talking to the city council about raising taxes on their six or seven rental properties, taking away 30%, 40% or more of their income because they want to help fix schools, roads, bridges or water mains? If your town has one of those, let me know, because I want to shake their hand. More often than not, the folks with a lot of stuff want to keep that stuff, and the best way to do that is to make sure no one knows how much stuff you actually have.
It is better for the people who are really in charge to tell us in the middle that we can be in charge if we just stomp a little harder on those beneath us, raising your nose an inch above water while they zip by in a Sea-Doo. Things won’t get better as long as single people has as much personal wealth as entire countries of millions of people. Things don’t get better when billion-dollar companies pay no taxes and then fund media outlets that tell us folks getting $4 per person per day in food stamps are the real issue.
You will probably never be a billionaire, and neither will I, but the chances of either of us falling on hard times and becoming one of “those people” gets higher with every red cent that goes into a rich person’s pocket. Chances are, you have more in common with the poorest guy in your town than you do with the richest one. Long story short, your neighbor with those darn wild kids isn’t your enemy; it’s the system we live in that makes your neighbor work three jobs and never see their kids, that’s the problem. For 40 years now the rich have paid less and the poor have paid more, and things haven’t gotten better, and no billionaire will float down from their golden tower to bless you if you kick a poor person in the gutter. But maybe, just maybe, helping that person out of the gutter can build a relationship with another human being that will give a much better return on investment than worshipping the rich man on the hill.