Based out of Cambridge, MA, Abe Lateiner is an class-activist focused on transformational philanthropy. Through choosing his parents wisely, Abe was born into a life of privilege and opportunity. Now, he fights for a society in which people with and without money are valued equally as change agents. Through his blog, “Risk Something,” Abe seeks to inspire other financially-wealthy people to open themselves to internal change at the same scale as the change they wish to see in the outside world. This article was also reposted on Huffington Post.
In her talk with Thomas Piketty, Senator Elizabeth Warren offered a forceful argument for a progressive American tax system as a way to reduce inequality. As a young person with inherited financial wealth myself, I agree with Senator Warren’s proposal.
But the quest for greater economic equality in America must be two-pronged. Politicians and policy-makers must lead the legal charge to make our rules fairer. Meanwhile, the rest of us are charged with changing hearts and minds–our own and those around us.
If our legislature could somehow succeed in installing a progressive tax system (that’s quite an if!), would this be a short- or long-term victory? If we soak the “1%” but do nothing to win them over to the cause of making our country more equitable, can that victory really last? I don’t think so…and I wonder what a further-alienated 1% would do with the massive power they would still wield in an America with progressive taxes.
Yes, Senator Warren…keep fighting to make our tax laws equitable. We will certainly need that in order to level the playing field. But we’ll also need to consider leaving behind the popular “99% vs. 1%” dynamic that gives wealthy people an easy way out of feeling responsible: “Fine…you want to paint me as a greedy scumbag because of my money? Then that’s how I’ll act. You don’t want me anyway!” Labeling someone a monster is the best way to get them to act like a monster.