Friday, October 21, 2011

Knackered...but Hopeful

It's one of my favorite true English words (by which I mean it's used in England, but not so much in the States). It comes from the noun "knacker," meaning "a buyer of worn-out domestic animals or their carcasses for use especially as animal food or fertilizer." In its adjective form it popularly suggests being uncharacteristically tired to the point of being next to useless (like an animal carcass). A typical sentence using it might be, "I'm too knackered to even go to the pub."

The two weeks of 18 hour days in London have finally caught up with me (despite precautionary flu shots and vitamins), but it was bound to happen. I could only run on fumes for so long. Today I realized I am officially knackered.

Still, I was buoyed a bit to read an article on MSNBC that points to something I have been longing to see: a sense that there is still a spirit of
E pluribus unum that defines America. We are all in this together, and while there is no doubt that a few placards are not going to solve all our problems, I find this the single most encouraging development to come out of the Occupy Wall Street protest thus far:

The “Occupy Wall Street” protesters — also known as the “99 percent” — have struck a chord with at least a few members of an unexpected audience: America’s rich and privileged.

United under the banner “We are the 1 percent: We stand with the 99 percent,” a band of entrepreneurs, trust fund babies, professionals and inheritors has taken to the web to share their abhorrence of corporate greed and support for tax code changes that would see them pay a higher share of their considerable wealth.

Among other things, they’re posting their stories on a Tumblr page created by Wealth for the Common Good and Resource Generation, two groups dedicated to working for "fair taxation and just wealth distribution."

Some are probably not actually in the top 1 percent wealthwise — calculated at earning a yearly salary of more than $506,000, according to The Wall Street Journal— but all are certainly well off and supportive of reforms that would narrow the widening gap between America's elite and poorest citizens.

Some of the comments on that article reveal what I've always found unreasonable about certain opinions in the US...the insistence that any wealthy person who wants to can give their money away, but that there's no reason that should implicate other wealthy people. This comment is a good example of that:

WELL THEN, JUST GIVE THE MONEY AWAY and end this nonsense.

If the "rich" protestors want to "solve the problem" then just set up a trust fund or charity, toss their unwanted dollars into it, and dole it out.

I'm not sure what these people are waiting for.

Why there is this obsessive need to have the US Government do what these people can simply do for themselves RIGHT NOW, I just don't understand.

The reason this is unreasonable is noted in the following comment by a reader from Sweden:
Enough with the "they can just give money away" nonsense argument. That would be charity done only by some and would change nothing.
Indeed, it is the selfishness the original comment reveals that I hope we can have a national conversation about. "You can give YOUR money away to help salvage the economy...but I want to keep all of mine!"

Don't get me wrong. I'm in no rush to pay more taxes, but I would happily do so if it could help stabilize things. As I'm sure it does many Americans, all this uncertainty keeps me up at nights, running our finances through my head, wondering how we can accomplish this or that goal on less, worrying how events in Greece or Spain will affect a collector considering purchasing a piece, etc. etc. etc. It's exhausting.

And so when I read comments from people saying "You can give YOUR money away to help salvage the economy...but I want to keep all of mine!" I have to wonder what they think the world is going to look like when they have what they need but everyone around them has become desperate. Will they retreat to their country estates and fund their own private armies to protect them from the hungry mobs? How long will that be attractive? It's worse than selfish, it's bad money management. Why waste your own money on private armies, when a shared sacrifice (costing much less in the long run) can more quickly help return balance and more certainty?

E pluribus unum...it's sound fiscal policy as well as social policy.

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3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's no sense in the middle class paying more taxes if the wealthy are paying a less percentage and many billion dollar corporations paying literally nothing.

--- ondine nyc

10/21/2011 09:59:00 AM  
Anonymous Kurt said...

So the solution is to just keep tossing piles and more piles of money into the furnace? Has there not been continuous forms of tax increases to offset the debt for 100 years? Yet the debt and deficit spending by the federal government still outpaces tax revenues. I say let the 1 percent keep their blood money. Ending the mechanics that keep the money funneled up to the top is a better way to solve the problem for good. Priority should be given to ending the federal reserve system, aka End the Fed, and getting back to a gold-backed monetary system. In doing this, many of our other problems would go away. And yep, you got it Ed, the best way to get this going is to elect Ron Paul. This has been his consistent message for 30 years. Read, The Creature From Jekyll Island, Edward G. Griffin.

10/22/2011 09:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Elizabeth said...

Taxation varisz widely around the world.

Hong Kong is a good example of rampant capitalism. Its population is among the best-educated in the world, and life expectancy is high (these are also a result of cultural/dietary factors). In HK I was never taxed, as my art teaching salary was among the 97% of residents whose salaries are tax-free. Healthcare, from basic to high quality, is very affordable. No need for insurance. Where does the gov't get its money from? By destroying its old (British) buildings to build skyscrapers, and creating new land in high-demand areas. There are other downsides, too. The pollution from factories over the border has become a toxic soup that gives many people respiratory problems.

When I read The Geography of Bliss http://www.ericweinerbooks.com/content/book.asp?id=desc it put into words what I'd sensed while traveling through Europe.

Two of his conclusions: envy (of others) is an impediment to happiness, and trust (of others) facilitates it.

When societies have egalitarian foundations where people agree that basic safety nets - like barebones healthcare - are available to everyone, from the homeless to CEOs, this encourages trust in fellow citizens

10/29/2011 12:36:00 PM  

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