As I was emptying the dishwasher the other night, I marveled at all of the wondrous things in our kitchen. I have knives that actually cut. I have different mixing bowls for different purposes (don’t ask me what all of the purposes are). I have glasses for wine. Heck, I have a dishwasher. I am so lucky.
I remember buying a set of knives at a yard sale for a dollar. It was a wood block with four big cutting knives (that’s the technical term) and five or six personal steak knives. We used these knives for years. We should have bought new ones, but these worked…kinda. And new/better knives cost money. I remember cooking frozen pizza on a small square cookie sheet. You know pizzas are round, right? So then you can imagine the pizza flopping down around the edges of the cookie sheet, and the cheese sliding down into the danger zone at the bottom of the oven.
Why do I bring these things up? Conservatives like to defend the rich. They promote laws that raise taxes for the poor and lower taxes for the rich (flat tax). I think they don’t understand what it’s like to actually be rich. They don’t understand how easy it is to be rich and have things like a nice kitchen. I’m not even “rich”, I’m middle class – but life for me is pretty darn easy compared to a lot of people.
Sure, the kitchen example is a somewhat silly example. So, let’s talk about some bigger things. Most low paying jobs don’t offer sick or vacation time. If someone in a low paying job gets sick, they have to take time off work (smaller paycheck), and go to the doctor or a clinic (which costs money). And don’t even think about a vacation. For many low paying jobs, taking multiple days off work (much smaller paycheck) to go on vacation (which costs money!) isn’t an option.
Or, let’s talk about voting. If I want to vote, which happens mostly during the workday, I can come into work late. (Now that I live in WA, voting is by mail, but most states have in-person voting). Hourly people don’t always have the option to come in late. Or, they might be able to, but would then miss out on the money for that time they weren’t at work. They could go after work, but then they stand in line for hours, instead of taking care of their kids or going grocery shopping.
So all of this worry on the part of conservatives about the rich just dumbfounds me. There are so many people with actual problems. They can’t take off work when they’re sick. They can’t easily vote in elections! And yet, conservatives worry about the rich. People, the rich can take care of themselves. This isn’t Atlas Shrugged, this is Les Miserables. Can you hear the people sing?
So, as far as I can tell, conservatives don’t know what it’s like to be rich. Cuz if they did, they would know that the rich can and do take care of themselves. The rich can take off work to vote. The rich can pour money into elections to tip them in their favor (see: Koch brothers). The rich can do whatever the hell they want. I can do almost whatever I want. The poor can’t. So why help the rich? Why focus on the rich?
The only other explanation is that a majority of conservatives do know what it’s like to be rich, and all of their “it’s better for America” talk really is “it’s better for me” talk. That’s an even scarier thought.