A friend’s Facebook status:
This is what inequality looks like: Yesterday I’m accosted in the Whole Foods parking lot by a woman asking me for a dollar to buy a sandwich. I grumpily refused. A poignant moment for me, another rejection out of too many to count for her. What a world [frowny emoticon] [link to Atlantic article on rich bastards worldwide]
This guy is a software engineer married to a Harvard professor. His household income is approximately $300,000 per year. He tirelessly advocates on Facebook for higher taxes on the “wealthy” and for the election of Bernie Sanders. Yet he apparently refused to redistribute 1/300,000th of his household’s income to the beggar. In other words, he rejected a 0.00033… percent increase in his personal tax rate.
[You might reasonably ask why there are beggars in Cambridge, Massachusetts given that a non-working adult can get a free apartment, free food, free health care, etc. Certainly there are poor families receiving packages of assistance that work out to more than $100,000 per year after tax, e.g., starting with free occupancy of an apartment with a market value of $5,000 per month. However, a person who has not been favored by the various government poverty ministries and/or is bad at paperwork might find himself or herself with only free health care.]
I asked about the apparent logical contradiction between his political advocacy and his personal actions. He responded with “A $1.00 donation to a random bum in a parking lot is not equivalent to a tax increase.” His friend who is also a passionate Bernie Sanders supporter added “I have been trained to wonder if panhandlers use monetary donations to prolong unhealthy dependence of substances” to explain why he won’t give money voluntarily.
I then asked “Why couldn’t a welfare recipient just as easily use the taxpayer cash to ‘prolong unhealthy dependence of substances’? If you give me a free apartment, free food, and free health care, what stops me from spending the day doing whatever I want, e.g., smoking crack?” Neither he nor his fellow Bernie Sanders supporter had an answer for that. Instead they talked about wanting to “give people a guaranteed minimum income.” I responded with “Why not start with the woman at Whole Foods then? Her current guaranteed minimum income is $0 (though she may be able to receive an array of goods and services, such as food, housing, and medical care). If you gave her $1 then her guaranteed minimum income would be $1.”