Love Me, I'm A Liberal
Folksinger Phil Ochs delighted in skewering liberals in songs like, "Love Me I'm A Liberal," for gratuitously assuming moral positions that would not impinge on their own suburban lives. Favoring integration but not in their neighborhoods; opposing the VietNam War but not endangering their own lives; loving non-violent M.L.King, Jr. but despising Malcolm X.
So often we view contemptuously those who deny healthcare to the poor, food to the hungry and housing to the homeless. But other than expressing opinions, what do most of us do to discomfort ourselves to change the status quo? (I do know medical professionals who provide free health care and go out of their way to help. I also know a man who has provided housing to the poor, and help to hurricane victims. We are not devoid of heroes.)
But I have been confronting myself with an uncomfortable question. I, yes, I admit it, and many of my friends I believe, have financially benefitted considerably from the stock market since Trump's election. I have comforted myself with the notion that it's the usufruct (look it up) of the Obama years' policies. But now I think it's something more: it's the expectation of greater corporate profits under Trump. But these profits, IMHO -- and I invite opposing thoughts -- come in part from denying universal health care, paying unconscionably low wages to a broad swath of American workers, and the new tax law which promises huge corporate gains to investors in the market without the promised benefits of higher wages and lower taxes in the long run.
Here's my question: if this is theft of the money that rightfully belongs to others according to Liberals, what portion of my growth in net worth must I give away to help those who will be deprived in this economy?
Let me be clear: I give tzedakah, and always have. But it's been based on my income from working, regardless of my net worth. I was saving for retirement, and figured my savings were earmarked for my later years, and I'd give tzedakah from them when I benefit from them as income. (Which I do.)
But now I, and I am assuming most of my friends whom I know also have stock market investments, have benefitted from the growth in the market and therefore our net worth has grown. But our incomes haven't increased, only our net worth.
However, it seems to me that we have decried our economic system as stealing from the common workers through paying low wages, denying benefits including not only medical benefits but retirement benefits as well, and not giving them a share in the profits their work produces. Those profits go to the stockholders very often.
Are those who are benefitting through investments actually stealing from the poor? And if not, aren't we benefitting financially by denying universal healthcare to our neighbors, and therefore have an obligation to increase our charitable giving for the benefit of those who are being denied?
It seems to me that this is a problem liberals must face. I know the answer from Libertarians: everyone is responsible for him/herself.
The Conservative answer is likely more complex. Conservatives may object to government redistribution of income, but not to providing for the poor. Indeed, many think that the alliance between the Republican Party and Evangelical Christianity has caused them to lose their souls on this point. Jesus did, afterall, care for the poor and downtrodden himself. Shouldn't true Christians do likewise, without government insistence through taxation? Low taxes should specifically encourage Conservatives to increase their giving.
So, you liberals, what do you think? Does the rise in the stock market and the cut in social benefits demand larger giving to social causes for the benefit of those whom Liberals claim the government should help?