Sometimes I read a blog post that makes me so mad, I need to write a blog post.
Such was my reaction to Steve Pavlina’s post “Data Has No Power Over You” re: the youtube video about income inequality (above).
You’ve probably already seen the video. If not, it’s worth watching. The main point, that most of us aren’t aware of just how extreme income inequality is in the United States, is an important one.
So why did Steve’s post piss me off? I’ve linked to many of Steve Pavlina’s posts, and I enjoy his writing. He is both practical and spiritual. His writing tends to emphasize changes in attitude and framing; he uses phrases like “aligning yourself with abundance.” Phrases like this make my B.S. meter go off, but I tolerate them from Pavlina because he doesn’t discount the need for action, hard work, and changing habits.
What irritates me about Steve’s post (which includes phrases like “Don’t fuss over what strangers are doing or not doing with their assets.”) is that it ignores the fact that extreme income inequality hurts all of us. We don’t need to be passive and accept income inequality. We can vote for more progressive taxation, and government spending that preserves wealth (a real national health care system, for example, would prevent millions of bankruptcies among middle-class and poor families).
I completely believe in personal responsibility, but I also believe that we should strive for a more equal, more fair, more compassionate society. So many people seem to think that these views are opposed, but they’re not.
To be clear, I’m not swallowing the message of the video whole; there are some inaccuracies worth pointing out:
- Perfect wealth equality doesn’t happen under socialism, or communism, or any other system. Wealth equality has never happened in any nation, ever.
- The video refers only to wealth distribution and ignores wealth creation. The size of the pie is just as important, or more so. Equal wealth distribution, where everyone is poor, is not a desirable condition.
- The video is presented as if by an individual citizen. To my eye, the video looks professionally produced (high-end motion graphics, narration, sound quality, and music), and is posted with a throwaway account on youtube (user “politizane”, with only one video). This post on Mother Jones claims that “politizane” is a freelance filmmaker, proficient in After Effects, staying anonymous in order to “avoid losing clients.” Could be true … but I remain skeptical regarding the source and agenda behind all anonymously posted content.