Every Non-Billionaire American Is A Better Person Than All These Sobbing Billionaires
For the last several weeks, we have been hearing a lot from billionaires. Billionaires who are very, very sad and disappointed that Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are going around suggesting that maybe they should give back more so that the rest of America can be a little less miserable. So we can all have things like health care and child care and education, all of which will help to create a society in which the distribution of wealth is slightly less ridiculous.
Absurdly rich human beings like hedge fund manager Leon Cooperman and JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon are going on TV wailing about these proposed taxes and the way in which they feel they are being vilified. They're out there begging their fellow billionaire Michael Bloomberg to run for president so they at least have some representation in government. You know, other than the kind they buy.
I mean, seriously. This motherfucker is openly weeping.
Elizabeth Warren is very nice about all of this. She says she's not vilifying anyone and that she just wants them to pay their fair share so that other people can live their dreams, too. She is much nicer than I am. I am more than happy to vilify them. I will vilify them all day! Because at some point, it becomes an act of deliberate cruelty to have more money than you could ever spend while kids don't have school lunches and diabetics are hustling for insulin on GoFundMe sites.
I am with Bernie on this one. Billionaires should not exist. I see no reason to sugarcoat it. I'm not saying "off with their heads," I am not trying to kill them, but also I don't think there is anything anyone can possibly do in one lifetime that could conceivably be worth a billion dollars. I do believe that people having billions of dollars is a sign that the system is bad.
And the more I hear these ingrates sobbing, the further I get pushed to the Left. You know, like how Republicans get pushed to the Right every time someone tells them they've just insulted someone? I get "pushed left" every time a Bill Gates wants me to be sad at the prospect of him having to live off of just seven billion dollars, while I'm out here trying to figure out the optimum timing for my big toaster oven purchase. Another week of this and I will be Emma Goldman.
If you can look around this country and see all the shit everyone else has to deal with and expect all of those people to cry for you because the idea of of having to pay six percent of your absurd wealth so that people don't have to spend 30 percent of theirs to cover childcare makes you feel like you are being "punished for your success," then you are a bad person and probably a sociopath. In fact, I would say that this would make you a worse person than 99 percent of the rest of the country.
If you have more money than could be conceivably spent in your lifetime, your children's lifetime, and your children's children's lifetime, there comes a point at which that money is purely decorative.
According to Elizabeth Warren's wealth tax calculator, Walmart heir Jim Walton -- who currently has 53 billion American dollars -- would pay $3 billion. What, experientially, is the difference between $53 billion and $50 billion? Is there anything he'd have to cut down on? Probably not. Jim Walton could accidentally leave $3 billion in his winter coat pocket over the summer, not even notice it was gone, and then simply be pleasantly surprised when he unpacked it in late fall.
Jamie Dimon would pay significantly less, as he's only got $1.6 billion in the bank. He'd pay $55 million under Warren's tax. This is a tiny fraction of the $12 billion that we, the taxpayers, gave to JPMorgan when they needed to be bailed out under whom? Oh, it was Jamie Dimon!
This is one of the ways in which billionaires do have a lot in common with us regular folks. Lots of us have things we own but know we are never going to use. Gimmicky kitchen appliances that looked like a great idea when we were at Bed, Bath & Beyond, clothes that don't fit us anymore that will surely fit as soon as we go to the gym as often as we've been planning to, shit we bought at Michael's that weekend we decided we were going to be crafty, heels we can no longer walk in, etc.
Where we differ is that if someone were to say, "Hey Robyn, if you give us that Fry Daddy you bought because you had too much to drink and decided that 2016 was gonna be the year you were going to try to make clam cakes at home (and then never actually opened), then millions of people could have health care," I would hand it right over. I would not think twice about it.
That's not just me being an especially good or decent person. I actually think that if almost any non-billionaire in this country —Republicans included — were told that if they gave up one thing that they weren't using anyway, that people could have health care, child care, education, etc., that they would not think twice about it.
This is not my version of Joe Biden's "Oh boy, when Trump isn't president anymore, all the Republicans will have epiphanies and suddenly become good people who want to compromise and stuff!" schtick. I don't believe that at all. I do believe, however, that when most people are told about something they can do directly, as a person, that will not significantly inconvenience them but will really help someone else out, that they will do that thing. Especially if the ask occurs in front of other people. That's why those "Hey, do you want to add a dollar to your grocery order to help starving children?" campaigns work so well.
Each year, non-billionaire Americans contribute $650 million to GoFundMes for medical expenses. And, unlike the money billionaires give to their bullshit foundations, that money isn't even tax-deductible. That $650 million is just a gift from Americans, purely out of the goodness of their collective hearts, because they see a sick or injured person in a bad financial situation and they want to help out.
Billionaires are being told that there is a direct way that they can impact the lives of literally every person in this country, that a sacrifice that would not even make a dent in their vast fortunes or require them to change their lifestyle in any way whatsoever could actually provide the rest of the entire country with healthcare, childcare, education, and they have the gall to be frightened? To cry on national television? To be horrified at the prospect of living on $7 billion a year, like a peasant?
Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are not the ones vilifying these billionaires. They're doing a perfectly good job of it themselves.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse