Today, Bernie Sanders posted the following on Twitter:
It’s a true enough statement, and I entirely agree with Sanders that we need to tax billionaires out of existence. There are numerous progressives who post similar statements day after day. And none of them — none of them — ever refer to the fact that most billionaires are billionaires because we make them so.
It is a fact that some of their billions come from their ability to manipulate the tax system and workers’ rights to their advantage. But the vast majority of their wealth comes from us buying stuff we don’t really need from Amazon, giving eyeballs to advertizers on Facebook, and selling our privacy to cell phone makers and data cloud managers in return for so-called convenience.
If we stopped doing those things, billionaires would disappear like fog in the sunshine. But we are too damned lazy. We somehow expect the billionaire-sponsored politicians to create a tax system that will mildly ameliorate — not even solve — the problem for us. Are we really that stupid?
I’m no saint when it come to this stuff: I do occasionally buy from Amazon because I am too lazy to do otherwise. But I live a fairly productive and I hope useful life without a cell phone, without a Facebook account, without a Tesla (or, indeed, any car), and roughly 95% of all my monthly purchases are made on Commercial Drive where I live. I rarely even shop in Cedar Cottage or Hastings Sunrise because I believe so strongly in buying local and supporting local businesses.
We can blame the billionaires for being billionaires, we can blame politicians for the failures of capitalist inequality, but we damned well better blame ourselves most of all.