VICTIMHOOD

The iconic political image of the post-Reagan era, for my money, is the 2003 Schwarzenegger campaign (in the California gubernatorial recall election) using "We're Not Gonna Take It" by Twisted Sister as its theme song. To see Arnold and his fellow Orange County millionaires on stage stiffly pumping their fists to a dated song about the terrible unfairness of it all was…rich. It requires the kind of total lack of self-awareness usually found only in ancillary characters in slasher movies.

If there's one thing I honestly, legitimately do not understand about politics, it's how so many well-off conservatives have managed to convince themselves that they are the victims of an unfair society. They are the luxuriously oppressed, the forgotten, long-suffering minority that has everything that money can buy. The urge to grab these people, shake them, and scream "WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOUR LIFE? WHAT DO YOU NOT HAVE? HOW ARE YOUR NEEDS GOING UNFULFILLED?" is overwhelming. With right-wingers I know well, I have actually done this on more than one occasion. The amount of delusion necessary to allow someone to sit in front of a 70" TV in a giant house with two luxury cars in the garage and complain about the unfairness of it all is incomprehensible.

Recently I sat in a classroom (observing silently, neither teaching nor participating) while a group of about 20 freshmen in an honors class took turns complaining about the terrible unfairness of the concept of taxing an inheritance (the topic of the day was Edmund Burke). This segued into some broader griping about taxation – the entire concept is "wrong" and immoral because, like, what right does the government have to take MY money? Tropes about punishing success were trodden out for their moment in the sun. And I'm watching this, half terrified and half bemused, thinking: Here is a bunch of kids at a $40,000/year private university on mom and dad's dime, to say nothing of the cars, $2000 Macbooks, "Study" Abroad trips, Greek system dues, and other expensive things with which they have been sent off to college, whining their hearts out about how thoroughly our society screws the rich. I know that college freshmen are not well-known for having a lot of perspective on anything except themselves, but it still surprises me to see such a total lack of self-awareness on display from what are supposed to be the best students in the whole crop. That anyone could have so many advantages that he or she did nothing whatsoever to earn yet still think that the deck is stacked against them is difficult to condone.

I spent the hour channeling Dave Chappelle and thinking, "Should I be choking somebody?" In hindsight, I probably should have. There are some kinds of ignorance that can't be dislodged with words.

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51 Responses to “VICTIMHOOD”

  1. Da Moose Says:

    If people went to college fully aware, then they would truly be wasting their parents money. Educate them. Make them aware.

  2. wetcasements Says:

    Well, college kids are stoopid.

    Lord knows I was.

  3. J. Dryden Says:

    I think for some people it's not the getting, and it's not the having, it's the *keeping*. Privileged conservatives believe that whatever they pay in taxes is stolen money–and they are endlessly fixated that said money is being *given* to other people who don't "work as hard" as they do. They do not care–at all–about taxes that are spent on the military, which, as a percentage, is where most of their money goes. Other people's taxes pay for guns and soldiers. *Their* money is spent only on lazy do-nothing illegal immigrants and drug addicts. Oddly, and against all logic, every single one of them seems to believe that if so much as one dollar is spend to aid, shelter, or comfort the poor, that dollar–that one in *particular*–that one was theirs. That was taken from them. Personally.

    There's no logic here–there's no ignorance here–these people are as inhumanly disconnected from the real state of the nation and its economy as the French aristos just prior to the Revolution–remember how they howled at the notion the poor might receive an extra loaf of bread on their upper-class sou? Why, think of what it would mean if we had to sacrifice an extra percent or two of our income! Never!

    I'm sad to say that I don't think the tumbrels will roll anytime soon, but I have to say, that image you conjure of fist-pumping plutocrats refusing to concede to the demands of the majority does make me think that maybe suffering through the Terror would be worth it in the long run…

  4. argleblargle Says:

    Would it make you feel better to know that most of those students will be graduating with mountains of debt and slim-to-nil job prospects?

  5. j Says:

    On the topic, there is an ethics talk next week here (too bad I can't make it):
    Paul K. Piff, Dept of Psychology, UC-Berkeley

    "Social class exerts a significant influence on ethical decisions and behavior. Psychological research finds that individuals from higher social class backgrounds are more likely to prioritize themselves—their individual needs and desires—relative to individuals from lower social class backgrounds, who are more likely to be sensitive to others. Guided by this work, I will report studies showing that higher social class is associated with increased unethical behavior, decreased altruism, and increased utilitarian moral reasoning, as well as provide data to shed light on the reasons for these class differences. My talk highlights that social class is a powerful force in the realm of ethics."

  6. sandstonesun Says:

    I think anyone who believes in the "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" ideal should face a 100% estate tax and not unnecessarily burden their children.

  7. Middle Seaman Says:

    Fresh-persons are not more stupid than any age or group. $40,000 is low balling, some schools, e.g. mine, ask for way more.

    Taxation is considered by most of us a punishment. It isn't the cost of infrastructure, the military, education, etc. Equality means, for most, if I pay $1000 to the government (and make a million) everyone should pay $1000 even if they earn minimum wage.

    In many other countries people pay taxes way more than in the US. Most of them recognize that this money makes for great roads, paid maternity leave for a year or more, complete health care and a month vacation every year. We scream "we be robbed."

  8. Halcyon Says:

    God knows I was that stupid in undergrad. I think it's actually especially bad in the "gifted" programs, because we're always told that if we work hard enough we'll get to be the cream of the crop. And, at least up until high school, it's generally true; we worked hard at school work and got to go be the best of the best in our undergrad institutions. The thing is, we've been told it's mostly due to our hard work, and there was very little emphasis given to just how much of that was supplied by other people as well. We're taught to take it for granted.

    Hell, I know part of the reason my own Libertarian tendencies (ahh, regrettable memories) in college came to an end was the sociology classes that really drove it through my thick skull that not everyone had the same opportunities as me. Most of it, I imagine, is that these kids have been told they've been working hard their whole lives with no emphasis at all put on just how much had to come from other people for them to have the opportunities they have. Which isn't surprising at all, given how much we like to pretend all Americans can make it if they just work hard.

  9. localnebula Says:

    @Halcyon

    That's a good point about the "hard work" bullshit the "gifted" kids are fed in school and by their parents. I was one of them. Put absolutely no effort into getting A's and constantly praised for my hard work. Hell, I literally slept through most of my calculus class and got an A (and a 5 on the AP). Fortunately, it made me a little jaded about the notion of success being a product of hard work. Then I had some formative experiences in my late teens / early 20s that completely destroyed the illusion for me. But I could still see where these types were coming from. They're not malicious (well, not necessarily), they're just dumb. And very well-trained not to think about certain things.

  10. c u n d gulag Says:

    Perhaps we need to mandate that each college student spend a semester working with the poor, and senior citizens.

    The impression is that the poor get all of this neat stuff – FREE!!! ESPECIALLY the "blah" and brown poor. As an example of this line of thinking, I offer Craig T. Nelson on Government Aid:
    'Coach' gives us all a lesson in how personal responsibility beats government intervention. "I've been on food stamps and welfare, did anyone help me out? No."
    Uhm?
    Can you say, "Disconnect?"
    D'OH! Yeah – "What a dope! What a MAROON!!!"
    But, I'm sure he suspects that somewhere out there, there are blah and brown people who know "The DaWelfare Code," and get enough money for t-bones, Colt 45 malt liquor, and Caddies, with money left over to spend on drugs.

    And there are State Governors, like Gov. Skelator of FL, who've mandated drug-testing for Welfare and SNAP (Food Stamp) recipients, expecting to save money because, well, it's obvious, most of those 'Takers" and "Moochers" are using the help they get to buy drugs, and will fail, saving the State tons and tons of money!
    "BWA-HA-HA!!!"
    Never mind, Gov, that it's the children of the adults who will really suffer! "Well, then the scum should have thought of that before they started spending their money on drugs! Oh, and make the scum pay for their own drug tests when they apply. And we'll pay them back when, IF, they pass!"

    Only to find – D'OH!!! – that less than 2% of the people tested, tested positive – and, instead of saving money on not having to provide benefits for them and their families, it's costing the State money to reimburse the people the money that the State forced the people to spend to take their mandated tests in the first place.

    We once had a part of "The War on Poverty" that was at least mildy successful – and that was in feeding poor people. After a disturbing documentary on CBS in 1968, there really was a fairly decent story to tell iin the next 15 years, about ending the hunger problem in many parts of this nation. For more info:
    http://niemanwatchdog.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=Showcase.view&showcaseid=98

    And then along came St. Ronnie of Alzheimers, with his BS about Welfare Queens driving Caddies, and young "bucks" buying T-bones and Colt 45, and shifted the nation's thinking about poverty from where it was in the late 60's through the 70's, to where it is today – "The takers and moochers need to pull themselves up by their own damn boot-straps!" – say the people whose Butlers and Maids help them put on their designer shoes.

    You know how to make the sociopaths scream?
    Tax the living sh*t out of them, to help the victims of their greed.

    Have the kids who are lucky enough to go to college, especially at the wealthier schools, spend a semester helping people, and maybe we'll have less sociopaths, and more people who understand that life is many things – fair and equal ain't part of life for too many people.
    Maybe they'll appreciate what they have more, and realize that the supply of luck they and their families enjoy, ain't eternal.

  11. AL Says:

    Let me guess, they called the estate tax a "death tax".

  12. Tim H. Says:

    I think the privileged don't get the food chain aspect of the economy, middle class business folk with a working class clientele, in turn supporting the local bank, eventually feeding the vampire squids of Wall $treet. Impoverish a working class and everyone uphill suffers, in the long run. Although I feel a fear of inflation is in there somewhere.

  13. Major Kong Says:

    As J. Dryden said earlier:

    Most conservatives I know seem to think that every one of their tax dollars goes directly into the pocket of some inner-city "welfare queen".

    They also seem to think that welfare and foreign aid (except to Israel of course) constitute 95% of the federal budget.

  14. John Says:

    It is my personal belief that everyone that stands to receive an inheritance of $100,000 or more should not just be subject to the Estate Tax, but also the Reality Check.

    At the age of 18 they should be stripped of all monies and possessions — to be put into secure storage so that it can be retrieved complete and intact later — put on a bus with a single set of clothes and a small backpack, driven into a dilapidated neighborhood at least 1,000 miles from their home, then kicked off the bus and given a telecommunications device that can only contact their assigned social worker, and a pre-fabricated temporary identity with absolutely no connections to their previous life. There they are to live for a period not less than two years before they are allowed to go back to their lifestyle of wealth privilege.

    Break up the dynasties, force the next generation of aristocrats to live down in the mud they've set up for everyone else, and see if their attitudes adjust at all.

  15. Shane Says:

    Watched this documentary not long ago that relates: http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/park-avenue/

    My two favorite parts:
    1. They interview a doorman at the most expensive apartment building in NY and he explains how when the kids are little he is their friend, they tell him all about soccer practice and give him high fives, but that at some point, around 11 or 12, they start to figure out that they are different from him, that they are better than him, and they start refusing to acknowledge his existence. It's interesting.

    2. They show a series of social experiments in which students are asked to play Monopoly together. One student is given way more advantages in how they play the game (they get twice the money when the pass go, they can use two dice instead of one, they start out with a lot more money, etc.) Despite both players knowing that the game has been completely rigged from the get go, the advantaged player still starts to feel entitled and credits his winning of the game to his superior performance. They even start to eat more of the snacks, it's quite fascinating.

  16. sluggo Says:

    I took about 30 seconds to look this up, so somebody please correct my figures.

    The first 5 million of an estate is not taxed, and the balance is taxed at 35%. Probably with deductions and loopholes to some degree.

    5 million dollars will buy some awfully nice bootstraps.

  17. Andy Brown Says:

    Maybe it's only a psycho-babble replacement for our abandonment of Hell as a cultural consolation, but I think that privilege and oppression take their toll on the oppressors. I think it puts a kind of cap on how self-actualized you can be. Self-delusion definitely works for many people and I can't claim their happiness and self-satisfaction is anything but genuine. But those are people of limited souls. To be a full human being you have to actually see the world around you with less delusion — and that's not compatible with much of the conservative boilerplate described here.

  18. sluggo Says:

    For what it is worth Warren Buffet and the family of Bill Gates have been pretty public about the need for an estate tax:

    http://www.cnbc.com/id/100301732/Buffett_Joins_Call_for_039Strong039_Estate_Tax

  19. Well, mostly Says:

    My ex-father-in-law had it right. A very wealthy investor, he said folks who complain about paying taxes are bragging about their success. And we know how wonderful a great complaint makes us feel. Mark Twain said he could go for a couple of months on a compliment. Maybe nobody gets compliments these days so we have to resort to complaints, the existential gift that keeps on giving. Look at the run the baggers have had on their yapping at Obamacare. Does the one with the best complaint win? I was too stoned to take those earnest freshman year discussions seriously. I was the only one of my 16 high school buddies to go to college. I guess the job I went to every afternoon, delivering cheap mattresses, kept me from feeling too entitled. But that job kept me in school, out of Nam. Others weren't so lucky. Don't worry Ed, those kids are just a few years away from a chance to see things clearly. All this greatest country in the world crap seems to breed hostility rather than gratitude: another reason so many people hate us.

  20. tveb Says:

    Well, if we were really serious about the whole "bootstraps" and "individual" gumption thing, we would prohibit all inheritance. It would be a nice experiment (though the rich and privileged, and others, would still have their social networks).

  21. acer Says:

    The wages of narcissism.

    Every single thing you do is focused squarely on self-gratification. And yet, somehow, it's never enough.

  22. JohnR Says:

    acer, you're absolutely correct. No matter how much self-gratification I indulge in, it's never enough. I can see the problem.

  23. acer Says:

    @JohnR:

    Same here.

  24. pmayo Says:

    That's the shitty thing about privilege: the ones who can recognize it often enjoy none of it.

  25. Anonymouse Says:

    Re: Schwarzenegger: does anyone else remember how the right were positioning the Austrian former-steroid user to become president of the USA? The arguments at the time ran along the lines of, "He's an American and it's not FAAAAAIIIIRRRR that he can't be president just because he wasn't born here!"

  26. acer Says:

    The victim card worked well for liberals when they were trying to correct for large-scale persecution of women and minorities.

    Conservatives saw what they were doing and assumed the injustices didn't exist and liberals were just being selfish assholes. Like the creatively bankrupt jackasses they are, they appropriated the victim shtick wholesale without knowing anything of its original purpose.

    Meanwhile, liberals (at least the center-left Democrat boomers who influence policy and discourse) slid into a moral relativist funk, and won't call them out on it.

    Victimhood is a bad look. The only reason to complain about it is to change it. Conservatives know that they can't do much to stop, you know, progress. That's why stuff like the Tea Party reads as a bad parody of '60s activism. They're just being cynical and buying a few more years to whine.

  27. punkdavid Says:

    The only thing MORE incomprehensible is people who do NOT have said giant tv or said luxury cars complaining about how unfair our society is to those who DO. "Conservatives are scabs for the oligarchy." Indeed.

  28. Carolyn L Says:

    I used to teach freshmen in the City University of NY system in the 1990s. These kids were not privileged, and many of them had not had great opportunities in their K-12 years in NYC public schools. But they were just as adamant as any rich kid about not "punishing" rich people by taxing them at a higher rate.

    It was astounding to me that almost every one of them believed that s/he would be rich someday, and they thought of taxation as taking away the money they were all certain their hard work was going to bring them. Many of them were smart and well-intentioned and hardworking. I hope the real world hasn't hit them too hard.

  29. Major Kong Says:

    There was a Tom Tomorrow cartoon where a guy wins a contest and they give his prize to a rich person.

    "Great!" he says "Someday I'll be rich, and then I'll get prizes!"

  30. doug Says:

    Uh, Warren Buffet and Bill Gates have so many trusts set up, that their 'estates' will pay very little. Uncle Warren talks about it for everybody else, basically. The 0.01 percent pass through every fucking penny, except what they paid lawyers and CPA's to prevent it from going to the nation.

    5 million seems like enough of a exemption. The rate after that seems reasonable to me, but surely not to everyone thinks that way.

    It is a Death tax. You sure as hell don't pay it when you are alive. Semantics…..You call it what you want. Same thing. All the money in the estate is there after taxes have been paid. Then it gets taxed some more.

  31. punkdavid Says:

    It is NOT A DEATH TAX. It is a transfer tax, just like practically every other transfer of money is taxed. It is INCOME to the receiver, and the tax is paid by the heir, not the decedent. By the DEATH TAX logic, every dollar has been taxed multiple times as it passes through the economy. They just don't think transfers within a family should be taxed, but they are, because we do not have a hereditary aristocracy in America. It's in the Conifkingtution.

  32. mothra Says:

    Break up the dynasties, force the next generation of aristocrats to live down in the mud they've set up for everyone else, and see if their attitudes adjust at all.

    I like the cut of your jib, sailor.

    And, I just want to pick a nit: Ed, you constantly assume ALL of the students you encounter are privileged brats who have everything handed to them. Is that really true? Pretty sure that, even if it is an expensive school, some of those students might just be there on a scholarship–and wouldn't have been able to go to that school without the scholarship.

  33. Rosalux Says:

    Why should these students be able to transcend their class consciousness? To quote the great political philosopher, the band Pulp:

    "You'll never live like common people
    You'll never do what common people do
    You'll never fail like common people
    You'll never watch your life slide out of view, and dance and drink and screw
    Because there's nothing else to do."

  34. DB Says:

    'In many other countries people pay taxes way more than in the US. Most of them recognize that this money makes for great roads, paid maternity leave for a year or more, complete health care and a month vacation every year. We scream "we be robbed."' – Middle Seaman

    Maybe they understand and appreciate the role of taxation more than we do because they get a lot more conspicuously good things in return for their tax money. Even for a hardcore lefty like me, it's hard to do so (at least on a more psychological/intuitive, non-intellectual level) when what we have to show for our tax dollars is so mediocre.

    It's kind of evilly brilliant, if you think about it: tax less than a normal modern society would, which will lead to a crappy system, which, will lead people to view taxes as just being an imposition (since the benefit isn't very visible), which will will lead them to oppose taxes, which will lead the government to tax less than a normal society would, which etc., in a vicious circle of mediocrity called America.

  35. purpleplatypus Says:

    "With right-wingers I know well, I have actually done this on more than one occasion."

    With what result?

  36. MS Says:

    I can count on the thumbs of one foot the number of times I've heard a defense of government from a U.S. media outlet of any sort. Just a very basic one:

    "Taxes are the price we pay for civilization. It takes money to build roads, money to provide fire trucks and firefighters, money to provide court systems, and so on. Without taxes, you get places like Somalia, where there is no government at all – if your house catches fire, there's no one to call to put it out. If you come home and someone is living in your house, there's no one to call to get them out."

    That argument – that whole idea – is utterly banned on U.S. television. It's banned from newspapers. It's essentially the same as communism – literally unspeakable in the mass media.

    On the other hand, the opposite argument – taxes are theft! – is aired a thousand times per day on every channel. You can't watch half an hour of Fox without hearing that argument.

    People reflect what their media is telling them.

  37. Neal Deesit Says:

    "It is NOT A DEATH TAX. It is a transfer tax, just like practically every other transfer of money is taxed. It is INCOME to the receiver, and the tax is paid by the heir, not the decedent. By the DEATH TAX logic, every dollar has been taxed multiple times as it passes through the economy. They just don't think transfers within a family should be taxed, but they are, because we do not have a hereditary aristocracy in America. It's in the Conifkingtution."

    The federal gift and estate tax is a tax on the transfer of wealth, both inter vivos and post mortem. Gifts and bequests are NOT income to the recipient. The taxes on them, if any, are paid by, respectively, the donor and the decedent's estate. There is an estate planning industry devoted to minimizing such taxes for very wealthy people through the use of wills, trusts, life insurance, etc. Google "Jonathan Blattmachr".

  38. Anonymouse Says:

    @MS: "Taxes are the price we pay for civilization. It takes money to build roads, money to provide fire trucks and firefighters, money to provide court systems, and so on. Without taxes, you get places like Somalia, where there is no government at all – if your house catches fire, there's no one to call to put it out. If you come home and someone is living in your house, there's no one to call to get them out."

    There's an upswelling by the homeschool movement–they can't have their pweshus snowflakes exposed to EVIL-USHUN in the public schools, but they're demanding their sons get the right to play on high school sports teams so they'll be eligible for college and professional recruiters, with a side of they think public school sports are "free", and they'd have to pay for a YMCA or rec league team. Their justification is because *they pay taxes*. So do the parents of the public school kids. However, their taxes aren't a one-on-one subsidy of public school sports–as MS notes, taxes go to pay for a lot of things.

  39. Jak the Yak Says:

    Here is what I think, in addition to the "I'm a clueless freshman/young person", is going on:

    I can't find a handy link to it at the moment, but hasn't it been established that humans tend to think that whatever they have, right now, is not quite enough, and if they just had a little bit more they'd feel secure? I'm certain it has, I just can't find a handy link at the moment.

    My parents grew up with very little, the son and daughter of immigrants from Italy and Ireland (respectively). Being an Italian immigrant during World War 2 was not a free-pass to success and riches, to say the least. My family was not the least fortunate bunch though, and my dad was able to work his way through college and law school, and now he's a tax attorney, one of the last remnants of that "upper-middle class" we used to hear so much about. They have far more wealth than their parents ever did, but to hear them talk they can never retire, and might be just one bad month away from total financial ruin. This is in no way true.

    Thankfully they don't extend this to "therefore we should never be taxed". They are solidly Dem, so I can go home for the holidays, but still the underlying pattern is there: even though I grew up with so much less, what I have now is barely enough and I don't feel secure.

    The theory is that this is inherent to people as a kind of inherited survival mechanism. Those who always feel that way are more successful (in evolutionary terms) because they won't slack off even when they have enough, so that when lean times hit they have enough to get by. Evolution apparently does not care if you are perpetually dissatisfied and insecure, not to mention a giant prick (in the case of people who are also financially as well as evolutionary successful).

    Add to that the fact that these kids have never known anything different, and have never been told anything different (because for generations their family members have all had the same innately human feeling of insecurity despite vast wealth) and it's not hard to see how they can come to earnestly make statements like "taxation is merely punishment for success."

    One can see this in action if one tries to converse with such creatures. I have a Republican "friend" with whom I have given up ever having a vaguely political or economic discussion, because any time I point out how crazy it is that he's more worried about the fairness of the system towards those who have far more than they need, as opposed to the fairness of the system towards those whom are starving to death in a country that overproduces food. Always the response is the same: "It's not THOSE guys, those SUPER RICH guys, like WARREN BUFFET that I'm worried about. Go ahead and tax THEM! But not MEEEEEE! My 100,000 square foot house in Grosse Point, my 70" flatscreen TV upstairs and even bigger HD projector in my man-cave, fully finished and furnished including a full bar, of a basement, my no-car-older-than-2 years policy filling my 3 car garage with huge fuel inefficient machines…I can't POSSIBLY be expected to give up a dime when I have SO LITTLE!" Fucking prick. But also, apparently, just doing what evolution is telling him to. Not to say he should not be slapped, and prevented from having his way, but there is more going on than malice or ignorance is all.

  40. Jak the Yak Says:

    PS: my response to rich people whining about taxes not being "fair" is to remind them how many times they've used "life isn't fair" as an excuse or explanation. Life ISN'T fair. We're taking your money and using it for shit. I don't care how that makes you feel. Get over it. Or don't. Just stop using that as some kind of argument.

  41. Daniel Says:

    Hack comedian Adam Carolla always talks about how he is being punished for his success. He's paid his fair share in taxes in his eyes. Well pay some more you stupid dipshit, you're still rich.

  42. Jane Says:

    Paul Piff set up monopoly games, where the randomly chosen participants flipped a coinand one got to play by much better rules ( roll with two dice, collect 200 when passing GO against roll with one dice and collect 100 dollars when passing GO) and it turns out that the people with the advantages come to believe that they DESERVE to win and start to eat more than their share of snacks, etc.

    funny if it weren't so depressing.

    "Higher Social Class Predicts Unethical Behavior" real research by an academic…

    https://docs.google.com/a/walerud.com/viewer?a=v&pid=sites&srcid=ZGVmYXVsdGRvbWFpbnxwYXVscGlmZnxneDoxNzNmMTIwNDk5MTJiMzlj

  43. Shane Says:

    Arnold Schwartznegger was actually selling "vote for me if you want to live" tshirts. I might kind of regret not buying one…

  44. Diana Says:

    OK, you write: "Here is a bunch of kids at a $40,000/year private university on mom and dad's dime, to say nothing of the cars, $2000 Macbooks, "Study" Abroad trips, Greek system dues, and other expensive things with which they have been sent off to college, whining their hearts out about how thoroughly our society screws the rich."

    Now, I went to college in the 80's, before all this, and I hope if I were there now I wouldn't be whining about how society screws the rich. I just want to point out that when I went to college, I managed to get my ass into a very expensive private school from a background that had no money, and, more importantly, no sympathy toward my own ambition of a college education. I needed a lot of expensive things — tuition, books, clothes, etc. — that I had no money to pay for. It didn't feel like consumption, however, it was pure investment, i.e. moneys I had to pay to get the degree and not because I was enjoying myself, so if it had been taxed like consumption I would have rebelled.

    I managed to get through a very expensive college and grad school, and I made the professional salary I wanted, paid back my loans, and bought myself a NYC apartment, but I just want to suggest that college doesn't feel like an experience of privilege for someone from a poor background … and if the only payoff you can ever expect to see is a higher income, then taxation of pure income does feel like theft.

    Tax wealth. Wealth is inherited. Tax capital gains, dividends, investment income … those are inherited. But college is investment. Some of us were making that investment from families that told us, loud and clear, that college wasn't worth it and we weren't worth it.

    If you think college is just for the spoiled rich, maybe you shouldn't be teaching?

  45. KMTBerry Says:

    Most of them recognize that this money makes for great roads, paid maternity leave for a year or more, complete health care and a month vacation every year.

    I reiterate what was said above: I wouldn't mind taxed ONE BIT if I got Benefits like that! Jesus Christ what most of us wouldn't do for access to healthcare! I would have reproduced-probably more than once!- if the US had policies like europe where parenthood is MADE POSSIBLE for the underclass.

  46. Kaleberg Says:

    I think credit cards are part of the problem. Someone should take these kids and make them look at a dollar bill. It's got "Government of the United States" written all over it. It's signed by some government functionary. It has a big picture of a government employee on it and often a picture of a government building as well. In other words, it isn't your money. It's the goddam government's money. You just get to use it. Money is a government service. You don't have to use it, but like a lot of government services, it can make your life easier.

    Private property is another government service. Try walking out with one of those kid's laptops and see if they go squealing for some government flunky to make you give it back.

  47. Art Says:

    Entirely natural for people to assume that they are the the norm, and clearly deserve all they have. They double-down on the error by assuming that anyone who hasn't done as well, seeing as they haven't really struggled a whole lot, haven't tried very hard. Clearly the less well off are defective in some way.

    Another analysis.
    http://www.alternet.org/5-signs-extreme-wealth-deadens-empathy-and-honesty-parts-brain

  48. Drew Jameson Says:

    What I find out infinitely more baffling is how often I hear the counter argument from working class conservatives (self-proclaimed "independents"). "They deserve to keep their (father's) money; it's better than some Elitist Rich Liberal ™ taking my money and giving it to Those People. So many have so bought into the neoconservative media narrative of Elite Liberals robbing your union wages to pay for welfare for anchorbabygangbangers that they defend people they would have hated (country-club Republican trustfundies–the former antithesis of blue-collar workers) over the largely-imagined enemy.

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