Saint Bezos' act of penance

Dear M,

Once you become one of the richest men in the world, the chief question on every liberal's mind is how will you atone for your richness?  The answer is you'll have to become less rich.

How one goes about this act of penance is the next important question.  Sackcloth and ashes, the traditional method of cleansing, doesn't quite work here since the bank account is still full and growing; so what you have to do then is to let yourself bleed.  Release some kind of a pressure valve.  You let out too much and you blow it, of course, so you have to do it in such a way that everyone thinks the expenditure personally hurts you, and second, it has to be in such a way that you're brought down below the other guys too rich to be righteous.  As such the goal isn't to let the arrow find its mark, but to sidestep loudly and deftly, allowing some other jackass to get hit in the chest*.

Jeff Bezos attempted this moral game of Hot Potato when he, the richest man in the whole world, announced he'd give two billion to "fight homelessness."  What he found almost immediately thereafter was that he'd failed to take the above rules too seriously.  His expenditure was immediately calculated in reference to his net worth, this net worth was found to dwarf said enormous expenditure, and the Glorious Outlay, when put in this light, was said to be like only a couple thousand out of the pocket of a working man -- not painful enough, apparently, whether or not it does more than anyone else has either been willing to do, or is capable of doing.

For me the matter was different.  I love and consider it one of the finest things ever delivered from a God-man to peasants. It's responsible for my library, and thus I require no Hail Marys from Bezos.  But as a working man I placed myself in an Amazon employee's shoes, and considered the long and arduous hours I'd have worked, the lack of good benefits and pay, the unhealthy working conditions likely to get you a heart attack or some other injury, the lack of vacation hours and inadequate sick leave, the "Christmas is over, good luck feeding your family through winter," -- I thought of all this and then imagined my boss, after years of this alliance of avarice and indigence, becoming the richest man in the world and then handing two billion to professional panhandlers, street junkies, hippies, the incurably ghetto, and the mentally deranged, and all I can wonder is how none of these employees have made a serious attempt to lynch him.

Your father,

*My editor (God bless him) rejected this essay on the grounds that Jeff Bezos can pay both the bums and his minions.  But I think this is missing the point.

What I'm trying to highlight here is that the hallmark of democracy isn't brilliant leadership, or consistent goal-setting and planning, or good taste.  The hallmark of democracy, pure and simple, is the lynch mob.  They get worked into a frenzy for some trend of the day, maybe ridding us of the word "thug," or not patting coworkers on the backside, or putting ugly women into magazines, and have to get catharsis out of trouncing some collective victim -- someone who usually wasn't a pariah yesterday, and will probably not be offensive tomorrow.  It makes them feel like they have control over things, and furthermore that they lie on the cutting-edge of morality.  You may only get one vote in a hundred million, but when your cause-du-jour comes up you feel like a saint and a king.

But unlike with the other fads richness is always a target.  You can always count on a crusade against fat shaming to die down, because eventually people realize they want to lay fit people.  But if there's one thing democracy can't handle it's someone who's doing too much better than everyone else; and since it's impossible to bring everyone else up to the level of our winners, the chief object of democracy is to bring our winners down to the level of our losers.  Democracy as such isn't a positive movement, but a negative one.  We say we're all equal on paper so we try to make people more equal in reality -- and if we can't; if we wake up one morning and realize that the average aspiring rapper isn't as good as Alexander Hamilton or even Jimmy Stewart, the whole gig is up**.  Given too much free rein, the people will turn our geniuses and heroes into traitors and exiles, like in Athens, or France, or Russia.  But the question in the end is who was betrayed first?

**It all begins with the idea of equality.  People, of course, are so different that the idea of equality is bogus.  But once we said people were equal we had to wonder why so many of them turned out so different.  What made Francis of Assisi poor and Ben Franklin rich?  A difference in constitution no less wide than the chasm between Lena Dunham's looks and Lena Headey's.  You can call them both Lena, but only one of them found their way onto teenage boys' posters.

This equality-on-paper led us right into cultural Marxism.  The Marxist saw something he could actually grab and he went for it.  That thing was our stuff.  The cultural Marxist saw all the things you can't steal and he tries to steal them anyway.  Thus every day we wake up to a new crusade against beauty, or eloquence, or culture, or mental fitness, or gender roles, or measures of intelligence, or personal connections, or likeability in general.  Thus we have a new list of taboos every morning, and a thousand-plus ways to signal our virtue -- by attacking the virtues and successes of others.

The old communist hit a brick wall because he was stuck, on some level, in the reality of finance.  He tried to make an equal society and Lenin ended up with all the best whores and caviar.  But what do you do with a man who thinks, not even in terms of whores and caviar, but in equality of opportunity?  You either call him a liar or you throw him in the looney bin.  Once he sets his sights on opportunity there's no limit to the ways that he'll upend your life.  He lives entirely in the realm of imagination.  He takes that passage of Paul's, the whatever things are good, whatever things are noble, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are admirable or praiseworthy, think on these things -- he thinks about them, and realizing not everyone has them, decides to take down everyone who does.  Social Justice is the philosophy of a sore loser and a good-for-nothing.  The Social Justice Warrior is fit only for one place, and it's the place his grandpa Marxist made -- the gulag with the mass grave.

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  1. This was a terrific read. I especially loved "social justice is the philosophy of a sore loser...." I have posted several of your blogs to my facebook and have encouraged folks to. check out your site. Clarity of thought, rapier wit...yep, I like your style.

    1. I love my fan club! Thanks especially for sharing -- with Facebook's algorithm, it's one of the only ways these messages get out.


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