There’s been a video of Abigail Disney (granddaughter of Walt Disney) on Facebook complaining about how unfair the recently passed GOP tax plan is, not to her, but to other people. You can watch it here. She’s not the only one either – here’s another one.
We can boil both videos down into a simple template:
- I have a lot of money for which I didn’t work very hard (or at all).
- Previous tax laws took more of my money than the new tax laws will.
- That money was being used to fund “the greater good” (Medicare, infrastructure, etc. I’m not qualified to argue how worthwhile those investments are. It’s the sentiment that counts for the moment.).
- Therefore, rich people like me gain unfairly from this tax plan.
If you agree with that summary, read on. If not, stop now and tell me why.
So you agree? Great. Let’s continue.
We can reduce that template down to a single sentence: the government is spending too little of my money to improve society. Which is just a more specific version of too little of my money is being spent to improve society.
I’d like to think that reasonable, well-meaning people find the latter idea far more important. Having written it out explicity now, I’d also like to think the problem with the “sympathetic millionaire” view is obvious. But I’ll continue anyway.
Too little of my money is being spent to improve society.
Well, there are two solutions to this. You could vote for people to hopefully vote for convoluted legislation (which may or may not have loopholes in it that you’ll complain about later) to force you to give more money to the government for that purpose. Lots of which will be spent on administrative overhead.
Or, since you’ve already pointed out that that isn’t working, you could take your new financial freedom and put it to good use yourself. Please, tell me what’s stopping you from making generous donations or volunteering most of your time or starting a non-profit or… the list goes on.
Given that the government doesn’t care about most of the population (at least in your view), do you really think producing a Facebook video complaining about it was the best use of your resources?
Granted, I don’t know you very well. Maybe you are doing those things. Maybe you actually are putting a lot of your time and money to good use, and you’re just complaining that the government isn’t making your stingier friends do the same.
In that case… why aren’t you encouraging other wealthy people to be more generous? Create a culture of generosity yourself instead of expecting the government to do it for you. Please realize that culture is more powerful than laws will ever be. One changes the other, and it’s a one-way arrow.
Not sure how to wrap this up, so I’ll leave it at that. Take from it what you will. Level-headed intellectual criticism is welcome and appreciated.