It’s been a bad year in public relations for Champagne socialists—or if you prefer, Neiman Marxists. A socialist Twitch streamer Young Turks host Hasan Piker bought a $2.7 million house in Beverly Hills, complete with a swimming pool and an outdoor widescreen perfect for entertaining. Millionaire Aurora James created Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, Democratic New York Rep.’s “Tax the Rich”, show-stealing dress that she wore at the $35,000 per-ticket Met Gala.
This phenomenon is not new. Egalitarians live in luxury and denounce the negative effects of inequality. While Bernie Sanders, a socialist from Vermont, paid a 26 percent effective tax rate in 2018, despite running on a platform which would have required him to pay over 40 percent. Sanders is still among the 1 percent highest-earning Americans and in the top 0.02 percent globally after taxes and donations. Some may be curious about why Sanders (a relentless critic of the 1%) doesn’t decide to sell his $575,000 vacation house and donate the proceeds to charity, or to offer the funds as general donations to the U.S. Government via pay.gov. Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren is another example. A long-time progressive, Elizabeth Warren has a net worth exceeding $10 million, but donated just $50,128 to charity in 2018.
It’s obvious that rich egalitarians living in a privileged lifestyle with immoralities seem hypocritical. Because they believe it is unfair for people to have more than others, they call for higher taxes for those like them. They should not spend the extra money they have on themselves, but instead donate it to the needy. According to egalitarians’ own standards, the poor are entitled to more money than the rich.
In other words, wealthy egalitarians consider their surplus income unjustly owned property. However, it is strange for the state to make you give unjustly held property back to their owners rather than just giving it away to you. It is your responsibility to take back the wallet of your neighbour, and not to wait for police to arrive. Force you to return it. If the poor have a stronger claim to your excess income than you do, donate it to them—don’t wait for the IRS to take it (especially if you know they don’t plan to).
Perhaps champagne socialists have a way to defend their position. Of course, egalitarians will often claim that inequality is good. Structural problem about patterns of the distributions of wealth, income, and status. Unjust institutions are the root cause of inequality. Therefore, removing inequalities requires that institutions be changed rather than individual behaviors. Piker tweeted that “the necessity for charity is an indicator of systemic failure.” While it’s useful to assist mutual aid organizations in the short-term, that is not the way you address structural problems. He says, “Listen! If you are mad at me, tax the fuckout of people like myself.” He believes that economic equality requires significant changes to the tax code, rather than individual giving behaviors. Fixing injUse this sitetice requires usPiker should not be allowed to open his wallet.
However, G.A. Cohen points out this in his book. What’s the secret to your wealth if you’re an egalitarian?The simple fact you cannot fix an inequitable institution does not mean you should ignore the damage it has done. Imagine that police officers are deliberately framing innocent victims by placing their fingerprints on crime scene scenes. If a jury and district attorney knew that this was happening, it would not be reasonable to refuse to release one innocent person because saving just one victim does nothing to fix the system. Similarly, suppose the gap between rich and poor is unjust—the rich have too much and the poor have too little. If a wealthy person refuses to share some of their excess with the poor, it would be wrong morally.
Another defense of Champagne socialism claims that individual donations are only a drop in the ocean, to use Cohen’s expression. A million dollars won’t be enough to make an impact on the distribution of income and wealth. These arguments can sometimes make sense. Imagine a person saying that climate change is a major problem, but he doesn’t own an electric vehicle or bike. He could justify his position by explaining that the decision to switch to electric cars or bike would literally have negligible effects on climate change. This would not help anyone. The classic case of climate change, which is an issue that requires collective action is climate change. We do, not what any one of us does.
The truth is that the wealthy egalitarian can’t eliminate all inequality in her own country by giving away excess income. She can make a significant difference in the distribution of wealth and income, but it is true she will not be able to eliminate all inequality. But—unlike the climate case—she can in fact make a significant positive difference about something she cares about: the well-being of the poor. Although an individual can’t eliminate inequality, she can help save lives or alleviate poverty. A rich, egalitarian donor to the poor transfers money she doesn’t believe should be to someone she thinks should. While a donation of one may not seem like much, sometimes, drops in an ocean can be morally imperative. Although the amount of prisoners wrongfully convicted may not change, you have the moral obligation to free them.
What’s more, taking the “drop in the ocean” argument seriously would mean that people are under no obligation to do many of the things that egalitarians think they should—such as voting for Bernie Sanders. While your vote will not determine the outcome of an election, Sanders encourages people to vote for him anyway. Sanders’s encouragement of others to vote for him helps him. However, donating money would be detrimental to him. Sanders may claim that Sanders can reduce inequality if enough people vote in the right direction. If enough people donate to the cause, poverty can be reduced across the nation.
One egalitarian could respond that it is not to benefit the poor but end capitalism’s exploitation. Donating to charity is not enough. That. Corey Robin, a Brooklyn College political scholar asserts that capitalism forces us to obey our bosses. Terrified of getting on his bad side, we bow and scrape, flatter and flirt, or worse—just to get that raise or make sure we don’t get fired. Capitalism isn’t bad for us because it makes our lives difficult. “It makes us free.” Mathew Snow wrote the same in August 2015. Jacobin Article “Against Charity”. Ironically, by focusing our moral attention upon effective individual giving, we are asking individuals to spend their money on necessities to help those in greatest need. But this does nothing to address the system that produces and distributes these necessities. Piker could give his spare income to help the poor but he wouldn’t be able to free his beneficiaries of capitalist domination. They might be able to fix the air conditioner in their Chevy, but that doesn’t mean they won’t drive it to work under the boss.
This objection is not valid even if it were to be accepted as a questionable criticism of capitalism. It’s clear that rich socialists can’t eliminate capitalist exploitation by themselves. However, they could help reduce the marginal capitalist exploitation. Maybe she will take a cue from Robert Nozick the Harvard philosopher, and use her million to help fund worker-controlled firms that follow democratic socialist principles. Nozick said that labor unions seeking to remove employers from their workers would be well advised to get involved in the financing of worker-controlled firms. They could use their savings to create companies that give workers control over their work. The collective decision-making process about whom and how to pay workers could take place with everyone having equal input. This DIY approach is surely more effective than lobbying capitalists for more money.
Although Nozick’s focus was on labor unions and not the generalization, his argument is that rich egalitarians could fund worker co-ops with their millions. This was exactly the arrangement Nathan Robinson (author of 2019’s) used. Why you Should be a Socialist (All Points Books) and vocal advocate of unionization, allegedly attempted to shut down at his magazine. (Robinson eventually apologized for the plans to reorganize his magazine, but denied that he tried to prevent it. [Current Affairs]From becoming a cooperative. It is true that democratizing just one workplace could lead to capitalist economic structures being preserved elsewhere. You cannot eradicate this. All There is no excuse for oppression or exploitation. Some Exploitation and oppression are not acceptable.
Thomas Nagel from New York University offers another reason for his money. It is absurd for him to take on the burden of contributing his extra income, when other people do. If we’re talking competitions, such an argument might be plausible. Sanders supports the public financing of elections, but accepts donations from individuals. This apparent contradiction can be justified: It is possible to call for changes in the existing rules, but not have to make yourself disadvantageous by following your ideal rules. Get it nowThis is especially true if it reduces the chances that you will reform the rules. The same applies to elections and football.
However, distributive justice doesn’t involve a race like an electoral election. Being an egalitarian doesn’t mean you have to defeat other people, but it does help to provide assistance to those who are in greatest need. You should help people who are in danger of drowning because they lack life-saving equipment.
It is amazing how strange the argument for fairness sounds when used to almost any other issue of justice. Think of yourself as a parent begging a kidnapper for the return of his children. But this would be unfair!” “I won’t give these kids back and stop kidnapping until all the others do.” It is absurd. Two wrongs do not make a right, as the old saying goes. This is important. Other egalitarians aren’t giving away their wealth is neither a justification nor an excuse, as our youngest children can tell you (and trust us, they are hardly moral savants).
Nagel asserts that it’s more frustrating than filing your taxes to choose where or when your money should be donated. But is it really? To make it easier for us to donate monthly, we can simply store our credit cards. It’s not difficult to find charities that help the poor, as charity evaluators already do this for you. Givewell.org’s Maximum Impact Fund allocates funds to the charities it deems most effective in helping people with low incomes.
We are not implying that individuals may work in institutions or structures they don’t like. An anarchist is forced to use public roads. Libertarians might opt to send their children to schools funded by taxes. While a Marxist may hate private production, he might still be employed by a for profit firm. It is unrealistic to expect people to sacrifice themselves to their beliefs. They are allowed to lead decent lives given what they can control.
Neiman Marxists, however, who give away their surplus income, will still lead decent lives. We don’t think they should be made martyrs to advance their cause. Only that they ought to Send away the amount that they themselves regard as appropriate to Steuer away—money which, by their own standards, they shouldn’t have in the first place. (In 2018, Sanders deducted $18,950 in charitable donations—just 3.3 percent of his total income.)
Finally, using marijuana is a particularly bad idea. To become famous and wealthy, moral posturing allows them to indulge in the wrong behaviors or revel in them more than other people. It is absurd and disgusting to see a fundamentalist Christian pastor become famous for condemning extramarital sexual sex, but also uses a harem full of prostitutes. Consider government officials who insist on social distancing for the masses, but are able to host large parties without masking their state. Another example is the public intellectual, who decries the commodification but asks for $30,000 and first-class airfare to speak on the topic. This is when there’s a disconnect between the personal and expressed ideologies. When the individual becomes wealthy and popular for sharing that ideology, one has to question whether the individual was truly sincere, or just trying to make a name for himself.
Publicly expressing ideologies isn’t about saying what is right or wrong. It’s more about looking good to other people. It is not moral doctrine, but moral masturbation. Instead of Assistance others—which might cost them something!—they Advocate helping others. Rather than ameliorating some of the bad effects of injustice—which might cost them something!—they Advocate for justice. These people then enjoy the cheap altruism that they receive and gain the respect of their peers while still enjoying an extravagant lifestyle.
Tyler Cowen, a George Mason University economist once observed that cities’ behavior and politics are often at odds in America. Egalitarian cities with fairly equal distributions of income tend to have a conservative ethos, while cities that have massive disparities in wealth and that shower rewards upon high-status people—such as Los Angeles and New York—tend to have left-wing and egalitarian ideologies. It is possible that wearing a leftist ideology can be used as a cover to live a right-wing lifestyle. This may explain why some elite universities tend to be left-leaning. While they sell their elite status, they also praise social justice incessantly. Harvard could be a right-wing university that undermining social justice. But if Harvard never stops talking equality about it, you might not notice.
It is an American custom to give an expensive engagement band when proposing. The ring also serves an important signaling function: It is a strong indicator that the proposee is honest and determined. In general, people are more likely to say what they believe when it comes at a cost. For example, religious people don’t eat delicious foods if they have to.
Piker could do the same thing and sell his Beverly Hills property to give the majority of his proceeds to charity. This would be in keeping with his dedication to equality. Socialism can seem cheap. ProfitableA $2 million donation to the poor is not enough. Piker, along with other notable egalitarians, choose to avoid paying the real costs of helping the poor. They believe that their generosity demonstrates their goodness and allows them to live well while others die.