It would be comical if it weren't so tragic: Donald Trump, brought to power by the votes of white men casting their ballots out of economic insecurity, is poised to sign a tax bill that takes from the poor and middle class to give to the richest of the rich.
The few who stand to gain handsomely from this bill are mostly staying quiet, but a vocal handful of America's super-wealthy are speaking out, including Abigail Disney in a viral Facebook video. She points out that she did nothing to earn her money other than have the good luck to be born into a wealthy family. And her grandfather and great uncle, who cofounded the Walt Disney Company, couldn't have done so without the distinctly American promise of social mobility -- a promise that seems to slip away day by day as the social safety net is ripped apart and a small few hoard their increasing resources.
More of the nation's rich should be following Abigail Disney's example and speaking up about how this tax plan may help them financially but hurts our country overall. It's not about feeling guilt or shame about having money, but about recognizing that wealth is a privilege that increasingly offers one an oversized megaphone and outsized influence.
Many Americans of means, including our President and Paul Ryan, inherited or married into significant wealth; some were able to build more wealth on top of that, but they had a massive head start. Others benefited from less obvious privileges like being born white, which often carries an ability to secure safer housing and a better education that are not on offer for African-American families facing exclusionary housing practices and segregated schools.
One other thing the American rich have: A government that is on their side, and that enables them to accrue vastly more wealth than they would in economically comparable nations
Many of us like to think of the rich as special (or perhaps they like to think of themselves that way), but the reality is that there is no direct correlation between wealth and worthiness, or between the numbers in one's bank account and how hard one works. Of course, many rich people work hard and have earned what they have. Many poor and middle-class people work just as hard, but lack the opportunities, legs up, family support, and just plain strokes of luck that allow a few to make it big.
As Disney says in her video, if we want to live in a functional democracy, we must accept that the greater good is more important than personal gain. More of America's wealthiest should be raising their voices against this tax coup for people like them.
They should also do more than just talk. With a Democrat in the White House, or a Democratic majority in Congress, this bill would never become law.
Those who recognize their obligation to use their vast sums to help others should do just that by supporting liberals in races across the United States, and help to ensure that 2018 brings with it a string of Democratic victories. And they should look at who is hurt by this bill -- the people facing an unstable market and higher premiums thanks to the end of the penalty tied to Obamacare's individual mandate -- and funnel some of their money to organizations that will help fill the gaps our government is about to create.
It's not a perfect solution. But if you have a few extra million to throw around thanks to the GOP's Christmas gift to the one percent, it seems like the least you could do.
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