As nations around the world brutally slash their budgets, taking painstaking care to strip social services in particular, this phrase is going around a lot. The idea that we all need to make sacrifices to help out right now because everyone is experiencing hardship and the economy isn’t improving and we have a social obligation to do our part. We are all part of this great society, after all, so surely we should want to play a role in helping it recover from the mess a bunch of rich people made with speculative investments and other dubious financial activities. Surely, we should want to give things up to help out, right?
This is something I actually agree with. I think that it is absolutely appropriate to ask people to make sacrifices, and I’d like to start with the people who can most easily accommodate them: Rich people. Let’s start by taxing them through the nose. Because I think that if we can afford to force people on food stamps to accept even less money than they are getting now, which is already not enough to survive on, that rich people should absolutely sacrifice too. Let’s say…80% on people making over $200,000/year. I’ll be generous and leave that at a flat tax, which means that if you’re making a million, you still get $200,000 all to yourself, which is really more than you could ever possibly need, and certainly enough to be able to keep feeding your children.
Unlike people on welfare and disability benefits all over the United States, who are struggling to survive right now. They certainly cannot afford to ‘sacrifice’ and it’s a bit galling to be told that ‘everyone is experiencing hardship’ when in fact only a specific sector of the society is experiencing hardship. It’s the same sector that was experiencing hardship before, except that now it’s getting bigger. Poor people are experiencing hardship. Poor people are the ones who are being asked to give up more of their income to help out the economy, while rich people continue benefiting from ludicrously low tax rates and absurd numbers of loopholes allowing them to evade responsibility for most of their tax liability. Rich people continue profiting from the poor, from union busting laws, from government agencies that continue to look the other way in the face of illegal and sometimes dangerous activities.
People talk about ‘making sacrifices’? Then why are they asking members of society to suffer disproportionately? It’s completely appalling to see politicians telling us we need to give things up when, of course, we all know who is being asked to give up what. Rich people can keep their toys, but poor folks should pool their marbles so we don’t go broke. Poor folks should cut their peanut butter sandwiches in half to share with a neighbor, while rich folks can continue eating their catered lunches. Melons and prosciutto.
The budget cuts are getting extreme, and they are getting deadly. People talk about to the bone, and it is not an exaggeration here. Many of the hardest-hit programmes are those people need most, especially right now. Tell me, please, why it is that only poor people need to sacrifice for the good of society, because I would really love to know why this is, why it is that demands to help out centre around taking away independence and the last shreds of a chance at class mobility away from poor people. How is this social and economic justice.
Oh, right, it’s ‘justice’ because the people making these proposals, the people lobbying the government, the people in the position to make decisions, are wealthy, and they are looking after their own interests, which definitely do not include those of the lower classes. They want to focus on how to make the situation benefit them and most certainly have no plans to join the ‘sacrifice.’ Unless, of course, by ‘sacrifice’ you mean offering other people up and hiding yourself behind the curtains.
There seems to be a prevailing attitude in this country that people who are wealthy deserve that wealth, that they got it fairly and through their own hard work. And I’m sorry, that’s not true. People are wealthy because they know how to exploit people and get away with it. And that’s really what it boils down to. Wealth is not something you deserve, it is not something society owes you. Not when it is so concentrated in the hands of only a handful of individuals, not when it is so inaccessible to most of the population, not when most people have no realistic chance of upward mobility, not in a meaningful way.
Wealthy people have been taking from society for a long time. I hear calls for sacrifice and I agree, it’s time for people to start sacrificing. It’s time for people to start giving back. It’s time for everyone to start taking some cuts to help society, time for everyone to do their share to fix the budget deficit, to stabilise the economy. And when I say that it is time for everyone to do their share, I mean it is time to do so proportionally, from the top down, starting with the people who can most afford to give things up and working our way through the ranks. There is no reason why an unemployed person should have to sacrifice more, not just proportionally but in terms of sheer monetary value, than a rich person.
Time to sacrifice, they say? Start with the rich, please.