So I had the thought that I’d put something totally awesome on here for April Fool’s Day, like some really exciting announcement about the end of global poverty or something…and then I realized that it would just be depressing, really, to read something that jazzed you up that much, and then be told, “just kidding!” I mean, we’re activists for social justice. We’ve had enough disappointment already, right?
So my next idea was to write something totally horrible, like the criminalization of hunger, or something, and then I realized that, as bad as things are today, probably no one would be that surprised by anything I could think up, and so the “just kidding” would be only mildly relieving, and yet still depressing, because it would serve as a reminder of just how hard we are to shock these days.
And, THEN, I heard this!
It’s from all the way back last November, but it was stuck on my iPod somehow, and I was listening to old podcasts the other day while doing one of my marathon cooking sessions for the kids. And I hit “play” again just to hear it again. It’s totally brilliant stuff.
Basically, if you don’t want to listen, the deal is that there is a group of wealthy Germans who are agitating to get the German government to increase taxes for rich people, voluntarily, with the only caveat that (drumroll, please) the money raised by the tax increase go to social services and ‘human infrastructure’. Seriously. Contrast this to my reflections last winter on pathological wealth.
And, in what has to be my new favorite thing, the podcast also led me to Responsible Wealth, an organization of rich people dedicated to working for fair (read: progressive) taxation in the U.S. They count among their biggest public policy victories the efforts to sustain the inheritance tax, and their major agenda for the next congressional session is the repeal of the Bush-era tax cuts.
Now, truth be told, we need an economic structure (tax policy included) such that no one accummulates an excessive amount of wealth (and wealth-related power) in the first place, but, in all fairness, a lot of these folks articulate that vision, too. Imagine what our world would look like if we all espoused the “I have enough. I don’t need more than enough. And we have real social needs,” mantra that I heard from one of the leaders of the German group exhort.
April Fool’s Day. Not really. Let today’s message be, instead, that we’re all “fools,” so to speak, if we limit ourselves to thinking within the current constraints instead of envisioning how we could totally reshape our society if we played by different rules, engaged with totally new partners, and imagined totally different limits.