Yesterday, in the name of balance, I read an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal. Its thesis was its headline and subheading: “Wealthy Americans Already Pay Their Fair Share: Arguments to the contrary spurn or wildly distort statistics and cherry-pick anecdotal examples.”
When I finished reading the article (along with the comments, which were crazy-making), I thought two things. First, I don’t know enough about how the economy works to evaluate the technical soundness of the claims made. Second, it doesn’t feel like we’re having this argument in good faith. Call me naive but I still find it insane that we can all live in the same reality, arrive at such wildly different conclusions about it, and then pretend that our own logic is infallible and that it’s always the other side being delusional and that we’re not all just basing our opinions off of our feelings and values.
Like, some things are objectively true or not, and some things are questions of morality and worldview. Like, why do we pretend that we’re arguing about facts when we’re arguing about beliefs?
Like, at some point, you just have to say whether or not you think it’s ok for a very few people in society to amass billions of dollars while other people starve. I’m not saying that’s the only question worth asking, or even that it’s an easy question to answer. But you still have to answer it. And when you do, you will ultimately do so based on what you feel—based on your underlying worldview, which you acquire not by analyzing data but by being constantly at the center of your own life.
The paper sent me to cover a building dedication ceremony at SVSU’s business school the other day. There were a lot of important, powerful, and rich people there. I’m guessing some of them read the Wall Street Journal and that some of them read the same op-ed I did. I could also guess how some of them might answer the above question, though I’d only be guessing (and stereotyping).
I kind of enjoy photographing stuffy panels and business functions for that reason though. It’s kind of fun to see polite society weirdly—to cut off businessmen at the collar. For a few, silly moments I feel like I’m sticking it to the man.