Wednesday, September 28, 2011

We’re In This Together

At a Silicon Valley town hall meeting earlier this week, a Google employee named Doug Edwards told President Obama to please raise his taxes. The Orcosphere went off on him, calling him a plant and getting all snarky about how he is free to donate his extra cash to the government all on his own. Greg Sargent notes:

Conservatives have offered a number of responses to this argument. Some have insisted that if wealthy people like Buffett and the former Google exec want to pay higher taxes, by God, they should go ahead and pay higher taxes. But this badly misses the point: These men are making an argument about the imperative that their whole income group do more to help solve our fiscal mess, not just about their own desire to chip in more themselves.

This situation also points out a basic difference between the two groups. The conservatives have become the party of “I’ve Got Mine, Screw You,” while the progressives still believe in the idea of the social contract: those with a lot have a duty to do more for others who don’t.

It wasn’t always this way. The history of this country has many examples of the rich spreading their wealth around for the public good; one of the best examples was Andrew Carnegie and his effort to build libraries throughout the country. Cities large and small are dotted with museums, concert halls, schools, and public parks, all thanks to very rich and — in the old meaning of the word — conservative men and women who felt more than just a duty to give back to the nation; they did it out of pleasure to help their fellow citizens. Sure, they got their name on a cornerstone, but it was the building and the spirit that mattered.

At one time, a wealthy person who wanted to give back was treated as a patriot and a hero. Now he’s held up to mockery by the right wingers. But that’s what we’ve come to expect from these folks who don’t have the maturity or the class to see beyond the end of their grabby, greedy little fists.