Saturday, October 22, 2011

The 1%'s Argument: People are Poor Because They Don't Work Hard Enough

The 1% will argue that the wealth they have attained (and that they'll use to manipulate politicians to allow them to hang onto) has nothing to do with the opportunities their parents, or the society they grew up in, offered them versus their less fortunate neighbours.  The hard-working poor, however, will prove to you by their circumstances that no amount of hard work, smarts, dreaming, or even scheming, can overcome lack of opportunity...
Given the IQ bell curve, there are several people on this truck with GENIUS brainpower.
So when you hear the argument that harder work and smarts are the reasons that the wealthy 1% should be entitled to keep MORE of their money than the 99% (i.e. pay the same % in taxes -- or an even smaller % through manipulation of loopholes that politicians have engineered) because they've worked so hard for it and are so darned smart, go have a chat with that great mechanic you use, or the meticulous grass-cutter you like so much, or that 'switched-on' guy working for his family's carpet shop, and look for evidence that they really are lazy and stupid. 

The 'story' the 1% will feed you, that they are just naturally smarter and constitutionally harder-working, has to be totally and utterly dispelled upfront to understand the injustice that the "Occupy Movement" of the 99% is fighting against.  Genetics have very little to do with high IQ or hyperactivity -- there are equally smart, workaholic-type individuals throughout the population of the middle-class and poor.  What you'll find if you look for the examples is that the families of these super-smart, hyperactive individuals couldn't afford to push them in the right direction, or simply never even considered it because it was such a vast distance from the lives they lead on a daily basis.

Members of the 99% who are incredibly smart and extremely hard working are all around you, but before you go thinking that you don't even have daily encounters with anyone in the 1% because they're all millionaires, think about this...
At an 'entry level' of $350k, you interact with business owners (contractors, owners of small business chains, landlords, etc.) and professionals (doctors, accountants, managers, etc.) everyday who are in the 1%.  The crux of the matter is not at what level of earnings the wealthy should be taxed more heavily, but rather why they have a pressing need to NOT be taxed more fairly -- why do they need to keep that percentage of their 'hard-earned' cash?

Many experienced doctors work fewer hours as they approach retirement than equally experienced nurses or janitorial staff.  Why?  The reason they can afford to is principally because they spent more years in school.  The same is true for lawyers versus their clerks.  These professionals not only made up for the non-working years they went through in university, they have to work less as they age.  It's a great deal if you have the chance to get into it, yet most of these people came from privileged backgrounds that allowed them the opportunity.  Genetics do not improve IQ, years in school improve IQ.  If you grow up in a family that does not believe in and encourage the goal of higher education (for whatever reason -- maybe dad's got mental problems and mom cannot get off the booze), no matter how smart and hard working you are, you will not be steered towards professional school.

Yet once any household had a couple of professionals in it or a business owner or two, regardless of their family history, and when that household passes the $350k income level, what is it, exactly, that they have to pay for that they need to hold onto to the higher percentage of their cash that would go to tax rate increases versus their less educated, less wealthy co-workers?  Once anyone is making that amount of money, how would they, the 1%, suffer if their income was reduced by 10%, or 20%?  They would make some reductions in payments on their properties and other luxuries, that's all.

Here's what, virtually universally, even the 'least wealthy' of the 1% have:
  1. A large, well-appointed home.
  2. Two fairly new top of the line cars.
  3. Kids in private schools.
  4. A nice vacation home.
  5. Full medical insurance.
  6. Lots of 'toys' like boats and sports equipment.
  7. Yearly vacations to exotic destinations.
  8. Very comfortable retirement investments to ensure they live equally well until they die.
Many, even if they pay the maximum US income tax percentage of 27%, plus state sales and municipal property taxes, do not give a substantial percentage of their wealth to charity causes every year.  I'm struggling to understand why they cannot afford to pay double, or triple, the taxes they currently pay?  Over the long run, what would that tax burden reduce in terms of their lifestyles?  A slightly smaller house?  Cheaper cars?  Fewer toys?

I've enjoyed an income of close to the 1% for a few years in the past.  Since my divorce and the recession of 2008 I've made just enough to keep up payments on my car and home.  I certainly liked making a lot more money, but though I'm currently less able to afford medical insurance or retirement savings, I'm not exactly suffering like those people in Sudan on that truck above.

I find it tough to explain to the people with equal or higher IQ's, who are just as willing to put in a lot of hard work to get ahead, but never had the opportunity, why they can't have universal, tax-supported health care anywhere on the planet because their more entitled fellow human beings would really prefer to keep most of their wealth they've been lucky enough to accumulate to themselves.  Or why their kids can't have equal opportunities to become wealthy through the support of their more entitled human beings everywhere on the planet.

Oh, you can sputter and curse me for even suggesting this heresy (the tendency to see 'others' as not as worthy as our own 'tribe' and family is integral to human consciousness), but the question remains on the proverbial table:   
Who died and made the 1% kings?  
In innumerable fundamental ways, the planet's 99% provide the funding/wealth for the 1%.  There is a set amount of land and resources on the planet and we all have to share it, yet it is the fact that ALL of us have to pay to use a myriad of products (resources) during our lifetime that the 1% enjoy their vast gap between how much they have versus the 99%.   They've figured out ways to scoop cash out of the pockets of the rest of us and they WILL NOT share any of it unless government forces them to do so. 

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