In January 2016, RG Philly created a Political Action working group, to discern our role in and take action on local economic and racial justice campaigns. We went through a process of considering where we could have the most impact, … Continue reading »
by Ben Goldstein
What does it mean to be accountable to a cross-class, cross-generational and multi-racial group raising money for grassroots organizing as a young white man with access to wealth? This is … Continue reading »
Reposted from The Huffington Post
The American middle class is shrinking. The financial divide between the ultra-moneyed and the rest of society is widening. As that gap grows, it becomes harder and harder for people on each side of that divide to break through to connect with people on the other side. It becomes easier to demonize people from “the other side” than to actually connect with them.
I envision a society where everyone has value as a human. A society where the amount of money a person has has no bearing on how much respect they get or don’t get.
To begin creating that society, I start by exploring my own mentality that prevents that society from existing. Let’s call it the “1% mentality.” That name refers to the kind of thinking that allows the financially wealthiest 1% of American society to maintain overwhelming power. But anyone with any amount of money can exhibit this mentality.
When I’m under the influence of the 1% mentality, I find myself believing that the amount of money a person has accurately represents their value as a person. When I pass a banker and a homeless woman on the street, I tend to pay more attention and be more deferential to the banker. And I find that I automatically give more respect to money-earning work than I do to unpaid or barely paid work (such as parenting, community organizing, or volunteering).
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.