On Wealth and Assholery
I was listening to NPR a few days ago when the following article came on: Does Money Make You Mean? Listen to it all the way through. Done? Okay.
The kicker for me was that even though the 'rich' player in the Monopoly game saw all the evidence that the game was rigged in their favor--only because they were lucky enough to win the coin toss, they still accredited their victory to their game-playing skills. Even Forbes grudgingly agrees to the study's conclusions that being wealthy makes people mean. And that just about says everything about Prosperity Doctrine that you ever needed to know. Those articles also gut the myth of Trickle Down Economics. But does the 'coin toss' really have that much of an effect long term? I mean, isn't the possibility of upward mobility the whole point of the American Dream? Read this: Rich Kid, Poor Kid: For 30 Years, Baltimore Study Tracked Who Gets Ahead. (The funny thing about that article is, even when Americans admit that reality indicates the American Dream is a fucking myth we still can't stop ourselves from coming up with that one in a million example. Nor can we seeming stop saying that "Hard work and traditional family" is a recipe for winning the American Dream lotto.) Guess what? Now that the income gap has widened to ever more drastic proportions in this country--that means upward mobility has been decreased with it. It's even harder for that one in a million ring-toss win.
It's time to abandon the bullshit Victorian idea that the rich are just better people and deserving of massive wealth as the expense of the poor. We need to ditch the concept that punishing the poor is a good thing. Negative reinforcement doesn't work. There are years and years of psychological studies that prove it. It's time to tax the rich. It's time to force corporations to pay their taxes. These two groups are the reason we don't have enough government funding for social programs.
The thing that made me feel a little better about all this is the knowledge that the rich can develop empathy. It's just difficult. And we really need to stop telling ourselves the myth that if we work hard, be good, follow the rules the beneficent Capitalism Fairy™ will reward us. Capitalism sucks. It's a vile system that requires oppression in much the same way Feudalism does. It's time to try something different. What that will look like, I don't know at the moment. But I think it's time for the SFF community to start punting ideas out there. That is a way we can make change. Hell, if Star Trek can cause the invention of a flip phone, why not? Governmental systems are far more important.
 For the record, the idea that God rewards the just with wealth isn't a new one. There is evidence (recorded in the Bible, even) that this nonsense existed from the start of Christianity. And before other groups get all righteous, I'd be willing to bet that attitude has existed since the first day someone decided there was a big shiny entity somewhere that could change the fate of the common person and explain why rich people were rich.
 Frankly, I don't understand why we're still having conversations about whether that's a thing. Particularly after the state of Kansas crashed and burned.
 It's been a long time since I was a Christian, but I seem to recall a Bible passage about how getting into the Kingdom of Heaven was more difficult for rich people.
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is a Science Fiction and Fantasy author living in Texas.