Lessons On Sharing
My parents did a pretty good job of showing me the importance of sharing. With my brothers and sisters, or whenever I had friends, cousins, or other family members come to our house and I didn’t share my toys or anything else with them I learned that there were heavy consequences for not having a generous spirit. If I didn’t share I could have whatever I thought I owned and controlled free and clear taken away from me. I could actually have my things taken away from me and temporarily given to somebody else for them to play with. And if I continued to not cooperate, what may have been temporary could quickly flip and be made permanent. I learned, sometimes the hard way, that sharing is an important concept to teach to every member of any community.
Unfortunately, not too many people seem to have learned these lessons or may have taken these lessons to heart. The whole Joe the plumber saga made famous by the political race to the White House exposed some really twisted, anti sharing thinking by a lot of people. I saw the video of Samuel “Joe” Wurzelbacher trying to raise an issue with then Senator Barack Obama about his tax policy. Mr. Wurzelbacher gave a sad story about wanting to buy a plumbing business but didn’t want to do it under Mr. Obama’s plan for taxes. Mr. Obama’s plan for taxes is that those who are more capable, people who have an income of more than a quarter million dollars, should pay a higher tax rate. Why? The thinking is that those who can need to help make up for those who are less fortunate. Mr. Obama tried to explain to Mr. Wurzelbacher that when we spread the wealth, more people will be able to help support Mr. Wurzelbacher planned business and we all benefit from it.
Mr. Wurzelbacher, and a lot of people who think just like him, responded that Mr. Obama’s plan sounds like socialism. Forcing people to pay a higher tax rate simply because they are more fortunate and may have more disposable income sounds like Marxism. These are communistic principles and Mr. Obama is trying to change the tenets of capitalism!
Actually, America has a history of multi-tiered tax rates. As people go up the income ladder, people pay a higher tax rate. Take someone who makes say thirty thousand dollars a year. For the sake of simple argument let us say that this person has a take home income of two thousand dollars a month. Paying for a place to stay, transportation, food, and other necessities, there isn’t much left for anything else at the end of the month. Compare this to the person who makes three hundred thousand dollars a year. Their monthly take home income is about twenty thousand a month. After they pay for their transportation, food, and other necessities, logic says that this person should have a lot more money at the end of the month. Logic says that this person can afford to share with people who don’t have as much.
But the idea of sharing this extra wealth through a tax policy is simply too much to bear for a lot of people. People want to control what they give or who they help. People should be free to say no to the though of helping our less fortunate neighbors or free to pick and choose who they want to help and when. It is this type of thinking that has led to the awesome chasm of disparity between the people who have a great deal and the people who don’t have much here in America. And instead of people having a sense of compassion for the people who need help, we have been manipulated into having more compassion for people who already sit on top of mountains of treasure.
Under the guise of staying true to the concept of capitalism we are becoming a country of people less likely to put the good of the many ahead of the good of the few or the one. Many of us don’t event want to entertain the idea of living as a community of people that spreads a minimum livable amount of wealth to everyone. We prefer to keep our poor people poor and to have a greater portion of wealth concentrated in a smaller pool of people. Some of our political leaders will say that we don’t need to spread the wealth, we simply need to create more wealth. But regardless, the more wealth the country creates, the more that wealth is likely to go to the people already wealthy and the less likely that wealth will be distributed to the mass of people who need it.
There’s a reason why we hear statistics like the upper one percent of wealthy Americans control two hundred percent of the wealth in this country or that the average American corporate executives make five hundred times the salary of the average worker. There’s a reason that we hear stories of schools in one district are allowed to crumble and to fall into disrepair while others thrive with limousines for school buses and state of the art liquid crystal personal display devices being used for books. We are less and less likely to share our good fortune with our neighbors. It is more important to a lot of people that a billionaire makes another billion dollars than to have a tax system that provides for better public infrastructure. But providing for public infrastructure is too socially responsible for a country obsessed with run amok capitalism.
I learned a long time ago that if I don’t share what I have with people who might not be as fortunate I run the risk of having what I have taken away. It is a basic tenet of being in a community. If I found myself in the middle of the ocean sharing a rubber raft with a person with a plenty of water and food rations I would hope that he or she would share their food and water with me. If not, I would do my damnedest to share my parent’s lesson on what happens when people don’t share with my rubber raft associate.
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