Heed them.

August 17, 2011

Peanut Butter & Jealousy

 There are plenty of great reasons to tax the hell out of the super-rich; their riches have never been as super, they're not doing anything with their riches except multiplying them, and they pay a lower tax-percentage than the working and non-working classes do. But the greatest reason to tax the super-rich is jealousy.

I suspect that either jealously is an under-appreciated motivator, I'm a particularly petty and angry person, or both. Every passionate pursuit in my life exists because I believe there's somebody who's worse at it than me. I never(ever) watch sports, and think 'I could've done better!,' which is also why I don't understand their appeal. But writing, rap music, news and commentary? I figured I could do a better job than the people I see who were successful at those things, and so, be at least as successful as they are.

I was wrong, but it doesn't matter anyway, because doing a good job doesn't make any difference. The United States has the greatest level of inequality compared to any other developed country and part of the reason it continues unfettered is simple mythology. It's mythology that I used to believe. And that is- trying really hard and doing your best will make you successful. Not even make you rich- just sustain your existence.

It's easy to loathe oneself when trying really hard and doing your best only leaves you struggling- but it's not why you're struggling- you're struggling because our current system is written that way. Competence, persistence, and inventiveness don't siphon wealth in the least. 

Which means, it won't surprise you to know, that The American Dream Is Nothing. I've believed in other things like Marxism and Anarchism before, just to explain that failure, or to fill the void. Yet they're all mythologies, which are used by desperate people to justify their own stagnant social and economic standing; as I've tried to do. The truth is simpler and sadder.

The rich happen to benefit from current economic policies. The super-rich make money from simply having money, and our system rewards that, allowing them to keep more of their money. This circumstance, the existence of inequality, and the possibility of upward mobility could be changed with the simple flick of a few wrists- as history has been changed before.

Or, this circumstance and the distribution of wealth could be changed by the swinging of a lot of arms or the firing of a lot of bullets or the civil disobedience of a lot of debt-serfs. It's going to change one way, or any of those others, and one thing is for certain; it doesn't need any justification or philosophy to back it up- just jealousy.

And there has never been a more just jealousy.


  1. Have I mentioned the Matthew effect/accumulated advantage to you yet?

    The wealthy will naturally accumulate wealth; I think that progressive taxation and redistribution, to some extent, is necessary to prevent a return to serfdom.

    Also, utility (enjoyment and wellbeing coming from owning stuff/having money) is apparently logarithmic with wealth. That is, if you have three people, A has $1,000, B has $10,000, and C has $100,000, it's not like C is 100 times happier than B who is 100 times happier than A. Instead, B's happiness is A's plus a unit, and C's happiness is B's plus a unit. If utility were linear with wealth, redistributing wealth would not increase net utility. However, since utility is logarithmic with wealth, utility is maximized if everyone has equal wealth.

  2. This post must have been dragged out of my mind while I slept, because it sums up my attitude exactly. You, King Cobe, are a thought vampire!