Blind Injustice, and the separate mindsets of the rich and poor
Some people today are questioning the morals of Republicans, who appear to be more concerned with their own pocketbooks than they are with the welfare of the nation as a whole.
OOPS! I used that terrible word, welfare, didn't I? Guess I should have used 'prosperity,' or maybe 'well-being.' I apologize. I'll try to do better.
Recently, I saw a question posted on an Internet forum, asking if any of the rich actually care about the poor or middle class. The question went on to ask what kind of person it is, who has more money than they can spend, and yet fails to give that surplus away to those who could, by virtue of that money, have a better life.
This posted question crystallized for me, the difference in mindset between the rich and poor. We won't concern ourselves with the middle class for the moment. There are certainly a lot fewer of them around these days to concern ourselves with, anyway.
As it happens, I have alternatively experienced being rich and poor at different junctures in life. And I can tell you from my own experience that there is quite a difference between the two. There is also quite a difference between the mindsets held by people in the two separate categories. And this question I recently saw refreshed my memory about the difference.
The question, quite obviously, was not posed from the mindset of someone with a great deal of wealth. Not that there are no wealthy people who question the activities of other wealthy people, or of wealthy people in general. But the mindset of the moneyed is not usually compatible with giving away every available surplus of the stuff.
There are a few basic truths to examine here. It may be true that some of the rich got that way through unexpected (and unearned) windfall. Others got rich through crime and underhanded dealings. Still others accumulated wealth by inheritance. But probably the majority have gotten that way by virtue of being smart enough, and/or working hard enough, to earn it. I really don't want to speculate about how large that majority is, but for the sake of argument, let's just assume it is a majority.
The rich have a mindset that is congratulatory and proud of achievement. It is a warming confirmation of the American Dream. It stands as proof that work pays off. Wealth is an earned reward.
From this mindset, the notion exists that the rich worked for their wealth and therefore deserve it. The poor, by contrast, have no wealth and perhaps therefore do not deserve it. "If they had done what I did they, too, would be rich. Why should I reward their failure by sharing my hard-earned success?"
The person posing the question that I saw, may not have been truly poverty stricken, but clearly speaks from the mindset of the poor. The theory, from that point of view, is that an excess is an excess, and should be shared. That is perhaps a noble thought, in and of itself, but not one that is going to be very popular with the wealthy. And probably for a fairly good reason. They did, after all, perform the necessary sacrifices to earn at least some of that wealth.
Mindset is a peculiar thing. You would think that experience would be an adequate teacher with regard to the separateness and the uniqueness of these two extremely divergent mindsets. You might think that living in a world containing both rich and poor, anyone should gain sufficient knowledge of both conditions to form fair, valid, and comprehensively knowledgeable conceptions of both conditions. But it doesn't work that way.
The rich have no more comprehensive awareness of what it means to be poor, than do the poor understand what it means to be rich. You have to be there to understand these conditions. And having been in both camps, you might expect me to have a thorough handle on what each one means, and how they relate to one another. But I am afraid it doesn't work that way, either. I may have pitched my tent in each of these camps, but I can tell you that opinions are far more based on current circumstances than what you may have learned about anything else in the past. Our opinions are based on where we are, not where we have been. This is more true than most of us are willing to admit. Which brings us to a conclusion.
The disparity between the mindsets of the rich and the poor can be clearly seen as different, but logical extensions of circumstance. For whatever reasons, the rich are rich, and the poor are poor. And that is one of the more important reasons for government.
The limitations that surround the mindset of the rich, leave some of them frothing at the mouth when someone suggests the unthinkable notion of redistribution of wealth. But that is, in fact, what government does, and has done, since the inception of the concept of just governance. The tax structure is a means for the redistribution of wealth. Those frothing at the pie hole may not understand that, but it is a major function, if not one of the primary functions, of government.
So, we find some highly troubled wealthy individuals complaining that, "A lot of people don't pay ANY tax. What is so fair about THAT?" What their mindset has blinded them to, is the fact that many do not pay tax because they are relatively poor enough to RECEIVE money in the redistribution. It is a classic case of what I call Blind Injustice. The fact that justice is supposed to be blind, does not transfer all that well into the concept of injustice being equally blind. Blind Injustice is perhaps even worse than that which is fully sighted.
Like it or not, one of the roles of government is the redistribution of wealth, in an attempt to overcome the Blind Injustice perpetrated by the wealthy, who would have us believe they deserve to pay little or no tax. They think that since the poor pay no tax, they shouldn't have to either. Why should they have to pay more? That's prejudicial against the rich, isn't it?
Well, it is, sort of. But actually, there is a good reason for that. They are the only ones who can afford it.
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