On my area's craiglist rants and rave section has been an on-going heated discussion regarding two very important and controversial measures on our ballot - Measures 66 and 67 which, in a nutshell, raise the corporate minimum tax from $10 to $150 as well as raising the personal income tax of individuals making over $125k ($250k for households) by approximately $180.
I'm going to intentionally avoid getting into the politics of these measures. I wanted to address two common social themes in our western culture that I see coming through loud and clear in these arguments: Rugged Individualism and Blame The Victim.
Rugged Individualism (RI) is this sense that ones success is defined solely by the individual. It is this attitude of "pull yourself up by your bootstraps alone" when dealing with difficulties. It is this sort of thinking whereby one assumes his/her success is self-created only.
Along these lines, Blame The Victim (BTV) is a common theme shouted by those who cling to the concept of rugged individualism who seek to blame others solely for problems they may be experiencing. Such BTV attitudes arise when the RI way of life proves itself to be false. Such people blame those who are most struggling without even knowing the individual's story. It is, afterall, much easier to blame someone (which is no different than passing judgment). That way the RI doesn't have to dig deeper to see the many dysfunctions of the economic models and social/political policies and ieals that create many, if not most, of our societal ills.
Not to bypass the idea of personal responsibility, for when it comes down to it, that old saying applies: You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make her drink it.
The RI, however, will tell the horse to go find his/her own damn water and if the horses are not successful, they get blamed by the RI for their own misfortune.
Some days as I think about such themes, I shake my head in an appalling manner that such ridiculous viewpoints are still a part of our society. They are utterly contrary to peace, justice, kindness, fairness and equality. Plus, they are false ideals based on short-sighted thinking and illusion.
Those who are against these measures seem to fall into the RI and BTV categories. They offer up the simpleton logic of "work harder" to those who aren't rich. They toss out very short-sighted comments like "you're just jealous" to those who aren't rich and who are (rightfully and justifiably) pissed as hell about the ongoing hoarding of the wealth on this planet. (Kip Schoning, local slumlord extradoinnaire, has been quoted as telling those who have sued him that they are "just jealous" of his wealth. Talk about avoiding the issue!) The RI and BTV folks completely ignore the stats, which clearly show wealth has been funneled to the top, ever-so-slowly for decades, where today the rich have much more wealth and the middle and the bottom, much less. One individual made the comment that "Wealth is capital" yes failed to go into detail beyond that. Yes, wealth IS capital--capital manipulated, controlled and in truth, stolen.
More than anything, I am disgusted with these RI/BTV folks who hold this sense of entitlement, who are blind to the fact that NO ONE makes it on his/her own, who are equally blind to the fact that MANY WORK THEIR ASSES OFF only to find themselves in dire financial situations through no fault of their own. And more than anything, such folks have forgotten what we teach our children about sharing, generosity, helping out our friends and neighbors. Their mentality is a sickness that has plagued this planet along enough. If I had the power, I would give them the opportunity to change, to expand their minds and open up their hearts. If not, I'd ship 'em off this planet in a heartbeat for their limited, judgmental, rigid and blind mentality has ruled this beautiful earth long enough. It is long past time for something new.