Hating the rich is not love for the poor

Loving “the poor” does not mean hating “the rich.” That is the problem with communism. It is founded on hatred of the other, rather than on love.

Someone once told me when you go crawdad fishing (they look like tiny lobsters), you can thrown them live in a bucket. You don’t have to worry about them climbing out, because they will claw at eachother, and whenever one crawdad starts to climb out, the others knock him back down with the rest of them.

It is all bound up in the rhetoric of “inequality.” That implies that there is something wrong with other people, merely for being/having more than others. Regardless if they have taken advantage of anyone else or treated others well, regardless if they have hurt anyone else in their climb higher, regardless of how well off the less-successful-than-them are — all that matters is that they have a bit more. Even if I make $80,000/year and am far more wealthy than 99% of the world, I can hate on “the rich” person who makes $300,000/year because there is a huge “inequality” of $220,000. “Inequality” isn’t about absolute values–it is all about the difference.

Look — I don’t have a problem with inequality, in and of itself. Yay inequality, good for them. If I & my family can happily live on $30,000/year — I will not hate the person who is living on $300,000/year. That is their life, they made different choices than me, and I do not hate them for it. So what that they are richer than me? So what? Look — if I was starving to death, and they, as a fellow human being, saw me and didn’t help me out — then I would have a reason to be angry at them–then you can hate them for “callously-letting-people-starve-that-they-could-help”. But I will not hate them, merely, for “inequality”.

As long as everyone is above the poverty line, as long as everyone has food and shelter and freedom and life — I don’t care if you have 100x more money than the little guy, as long as the little guy has enough to live and care for his own.

OK? Let’s retire the rhetoric of “inequality” and “the gap between rich and poor”. Instead, let’s talk about “living wage” and “the poverty line”–because THAT is an objective good, not just hating on others for what they are.

Also–there is something very wrong about inherently hating and loving based on one’s class in “the rich” or “the poor”. First and foremost, we are all human.

The communists shot folks in a Korean village based on the amount of callous on their hands (e.g. if your hands were calloused, you were a ‘working man’ and deserved to live. Otherwise, you were shot). A love based on hatred is no love.

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4 thoughts on “Hating the rich is not love for the poor

  1. This really resounds with me. I know many people who decide when someone is in a better position then them, that justifies their own hate and dislike for that person. It can get depressing to hear after a while. I really wish people could focus more on what they are blessed with and not what others have that they don’t. It is understandable to be upset when you have difficult life, but I still don’t think that justifies hatred and anger towards people who may not have a very difficult life. If anything, we should all strive to help people in need and love people we don’t normally feel like loving.

  2. Hey Bekah! Thank you for writing this, it made me think. I agree with you that hating someone personally from a higher income bracket is unproductive and unfair. I do think that inequality is a really important term though, representing a genuinely terrible thing. And I don’t know if it’s economically possible to discuss a living wage without also discussing a wealth disparity.

    I think where I’d diverge from your point of view is that inequality, for me, is structural rather than personal. I don’t see it as an inherent problem that one family makes $40,000 a year and one makes $400,000 a year. I do see it as an inherent problem that those who have a lot of money continue to make an proportionally increasing amount of money, while the proportion of jobs that cannot support a family are also increasing. And also that those two things are very often related to each other.

    I don’t think many people who complain about inequality are upset that upper middle class people make more than lower middle class people (there are those who do, of course, but it’s not the crux of the issue). It’s that the current economic trajectory is placing more and more people on a track that makes it nearly impossible to support a family while also maintaining a happy and healthy lifestyle.

    Does that make sense? I’m really bad at talking about economics.

  3. Thanks for your comment Katie, it’s making me think too. I didn’t know about the proportional stuff increasing. It is a big problem that it is becoming increasingly harder to support a family nowadays, something is broken/breaking. But I’m pretty ignorant of economics — it is something I need to read up on, hopefully this summer I’ll spend some time on it. I’ll get back to you about that then. 🙂

    I didn’t mean to imply it was just an upper middle class vs. lower middle class thing, though I guess I did make it sound that way with my numerical examples. I guess I was thinking about some people I knew when I was younger who were from the upper upper middle class talking lividly about “the rich” which apparently didn’t include themselves (one gentleman in particular, I suspet it was his way of side-stepping the issue of his own uncompassionate use of his personal funds). But one-and-a-half data points is not a general trend, so I shouldn’t have presented it that way.

    I can grasp the idea of richness causing poorness in the example of CEOs taking huge salaries and underpaying their employees as a direct inequality because they are both drawing from the same pool of money (i.e. the funds from their company’s profit), but I don’t get it on a larger scale–wealth is not a static thing (e.g. if some moviestar blows $900 on a silly dress, the $900 isn’t destroyed, but transferred—because now some seamstress just made $100, and maybe three people working at a clothmaking factory just made $50 each, an advertiser got $150, then maybe the designer who just made $500 just bought $200 of groceries which pay part of the grocery cashier’s salaries—and the truckers who brought in the food, and the farmers….etc.. I don’t understand how getting people out of the poverty-line is connected to making rich people less rich (since spent money trickles to many other people).

    But there is so much about economic cycles/systems I need to learn about.

    But I guess what I was trying to say in the blog, is the emotion & rhetoric that can often surround economic argument that attack the rich do more harm (and not to the rich!). The rhetoric of socio-economic antagonism, and the emotion it inspires (for both sides–with an emotional war of escalation as people get defensive and angry for feeling shamed), drives people apart and can cause more harm to everyone (especially the poor). It is very well-meaning, but can backfire.

    Also historically I think it might be something at least as dangerous as racism, and I suspect a big chunk of racism is really more of socio-economic-classism. It is like a fire that has the potentional to combine with other things (religion, ideology, various pseudo-scientific theories) and in the “perfect storm” together it turns into a fiery whirlwind of othering scorn against entire categories of people that then takes on a life of its own, which both sides of the constructed category then adopt, and ultimately hurts the poor more than the rich (e.g. the collapse of farming in Zimbabwe). I suspect the rhetoric of economic difference is often a trigger or catalyst for other things–often quite unintentional on the part of the original leaders–e.g. medieval anti-Semitism sprung from medieval priests’ rhetoric of class antagonism (+ the antagonism of religious difference), Nazism (rhetoric of class antagonism + racial theory), Communism (rhetoric of class antagonism + materialist marxist historical theory), tribal massacres (rhetoric of economic antagonism + tribal difference). It seems to be a common ingredient in so many things.

    Gosh, I’m not sure if that made sense. It is more of an emotion inside me than a thought process, and I hope I didn’t say something awful. :-/

  4. Haha, yes, I totally know what you mean! I think it’s very common in high school and college to rail against inequality in a rather uninformed way. It’s well-intentioned, because it’s aiming to give people better lives, but I think you’re right that it often results in just getting mad a rich people, since they’re the most apparent thing to get mad at.

    I don’t know a lot about economics either (I just bought a book & am hoping to get more soon, so many we can have economics book club [or not, haha]). But I get the impression that when most people speak of inequality they’re not talking about inequality of possessions or money, but inequalities of opportunity. The fact that (in the US at least) it’s absurdly easy to make tons of money if you already have money, but if you’re born without much money it’s super difficult to change your economic status. What you discussed with the dress is definitely a plausible way of looking at the economy (trickle-down), but I’m not convinced that it actually works that way in theory, especially in a modern economy. So much modern wealth is generated through weird, abstract investments in capital and derivatives that don’t involve the vast majority of people participating in the economy. Because of this, the free market can really polarize where assets end up. As an examples, let’s say a company that pulls in $1 million annually in profits it could in theory pay its workers a living wage. If it did this, though, the company & its profits will probably stay where they are. Another option would be to invest that $1 million, so that annual profits grow to $5 million. The same thing then happens again and again each year, which is why you have companies pulling in tens of billions of dollars in profits, while their employees are not paid enough to save any money and enter onto the same playing field (or even just buy healthy food). Again though, I’m not an expert on this, so I’m probably missing big parts of the picture.

    I see what you’re saying in the last part, and I would agree that there’s often a big overlap between classicism and racism (ie, the stereotype that black people are lazy rather than the more common situation of people of color in a city having to work under-paying jobs and thus being unable save money). I think a key difference, though, is that rhetoric against the rich is directed at people in power. Money buys you an immense amount of power in the United States, particularly political power. So I think there’s a fundamental difference between people without much power criticizing the rich vs. people who already possess power criticizing a less-powerful minority on economic grounds. You’re right that it could in theory be radicalized into something violent or dangerous, but I think that’s true of any important position that anyone can take. And I think you could also make the argument that the current economic system is causing mass suffering as well, it just happens over the course of time rather than in one big conflagration.

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