Some noisy people and lots of groups are babbling incessantly about income inequality and the rotten hand that everyone in America has been treated to by the wealthy capitalists.
Big cats are the One Percenters, corporate pigs who snatch windfall profits, stuff suitcases full of cash into offshore accounts or bunkers buried in the Rocky Mountains. The rest of us, cold and hungry, have never even been to an offshore island, and we’re so poor we can’t afford a shovel to dig up the loot buried in the Rockies.
Is that how it seems to you?
Perhaps this is why socialism is having one of its three turns per century in the limelight, the result of children filled with rage after a few semesters of academic propaganda. Those who say income disparity threatens you, me and the future of planet Earth are mostly politicians, professors, and columnists for the New York Times.
Kids love the idea of socialism because A) it’s easy to understand (taking money from people who earn it, giving money to those who don’t) and B) it annoys their parents . It’s mostly the envy and resentment that someone else has more, which, deep down, is who we humans are. Moldy old gadgets like socialism won’t cure economic imbalances or envy among neighbors.
THE REALITY: Even if you are poor, you wallow in luxury compared to all of your ancestors and everyone else on the planet. Money aside for now, your world is always full of cool bonus stuff like electricity, planes, cheap food, the internet, dental care, indoor plumbing, high heels, surgery. cataracts, cigarettes, year round fresh food, cell phones, microwave ovens, free testing, deodorant, mini skirts and cardiac specialists.
And even in dollars, the daily gap between you and a rich man is small to the point of being irrelevant.
Bill Gates wears a $ 3.2 million Patek Phillipe wristwatch. You’re wearing a $ 39 Timex. Therefore? You and Bill both watch Netflix and Hulu, read Shakespeare and Twain, visit the same libraries and theme parks.
Bob Dylan’s kids drank Coca Cola and ate peanut butter sandwiches. Yours too. Your two homes stay at 70 degrees all year round. You and Bob each have dogs who admire you and women who don’t.
Jeff Bezos is transported to Ukiah in a Bentley which will go at 190 mph; you’re driving a Yugo that can’t do 85. The speed limit on 101 is 65, so you and Jeff need the same time (2.5 hours) to get to the Oakland Coliseum. No advantage for the fat cat.
En route, Jeff talks to advisers in Los Angeles and Tokyo; it is plagued by supply chain issues, tungsten shortages and economic uncertainty in France. You drive while chatting with your nephew Ollie while listening to Hank Williams on tape.
Bezos has a luxury box above the marble; your seats are near the foul post. Mike Trout hits a long foul and Ollie catches it on the fly. Fake balls keep bouncing off the windows of the Bezos suite, disrupting calls to Europe, so he starts in the third inning.
George Clooney has a stunning wardrobe, but you wouldn’t wear Armani silk suits and Italian moccasins unless someone pointed a gun at you. You would take a $ 500 Hermes tie and use it to check the oil.
The Obamas take the girls to Martha’s Vineyard on vacation, but ask your kids if they’d rather go to a cabin on a Michigan lake or camp in Montana.
At Disneyland, you spot Paris Hilton surrounded by bodyguards in dark costumes and sunglasses. You are surrounded by grandchildren and an old friend from high school.
In America, the poor are obese, a big improvement over starvation, and have widescreen color TVs, iPhones, and $ 600 sneakers. The rich worry about the economy, their businesses and their money.
Your brother-in-law: Corner office, stock options, expense account, a Tesla, second home in Hawaii, laid off yesterday. You: None of the above.
You and Elon Musk are on the same flight to Cleveland. He flies first class, drinks champagne, and Martha Stewart prepares her lunch. You’re saving money by eating crackers, but you get to Cleveland at exactly the same time.
He spends three days in boardrooms with lawyers, shareholders and consultants as you stroll the beaches of Lake Erie with old friends, build a small campfire, drink cheap beer and eat hot dogs. Someone is playing the banjo.
Elon Musk, in the fanciest joint in town, dines on a popped baby penguin and has a martini. Who is the happiest?
Quentin Tarantino suffers from insomnia, Tiger Woods suffers all over but his earlobes, Jennifer Aniston feels lonely, Joe Biden is scared and confused, and yesterday Oprah Winfrey gained 50 pounds.
The only guy you know with a better life than yours lives in HUD housing, has EBT food stamps, 75 plants in his backyard, receives state unemployment checks for three jobs, two of which he doesn’t never heard of it. He could look for work next April.
Dear Reader: Why wish for what others have? The envy does not go to anyone. Think honestly and you will find that what you lack in your life cannot be bought with a dollar. Or a million.
NOTE: Any group or individual mentioned above, whether rich, poor or middle-of-the-road, can vote. Tom Hine lives, writes, and sweats in Ukiah like the rich do, and TWK doesn’t because he’s just pretending.