You can’t be socially progressive and economically conservative

“Told ya so.”
“Told ya so.”
Image: Reuters/Lucas Jackson
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If you want to be socially progressive, you have to support initiatives that foster social progress, like education equality, women’s health resources, criminal justice reform, universal healthcare, workplace equality, and so on. These initiatives either cost taxpayer money, require governmentally enforced regulation, or both. If you believe in smaller government and want to pay less in taxes, how do you propose social progress be made? Because if there’s no social progress funding, there’s no social progress. Passive support is no support at all.

You can be socially conservative and fiscally conservative, but if you’re fiscally conservative, you can only be either socially conservative or a person who doesn’t give a shit. And not giving a shit is not progressive.

Granted, social conservatives seek to actively digress social progress while social progressives, as the label indicates, actively seek to further social progress. But if you’re not actively seeking either, again, you just don’t care.

I don’t understand why people can’t just admit they don’t care. You can just say: “Well, however it works out for them, so be it. I’m staying out of it.” That’s what you’re already saying when you say, “I’m socially progressive and economically conservative.” Just own it.

Will you protest a Planned Parenthood building? No, but are you willing to have your tax money go toward paying for Planned Parenthood? No? So, you’re not progressive. You don’t have to be, but you also can’t truthfully, at any level, say that you are.

You don’t support something if you don’t care whether or not it happens.

In college, I was told that I was economically progressive because I didn’t have any money, and I would bet that most economically progressive people have been told the same thing. But now I’m making a comfortable living, and my opinions have only become more progressive. From reparations to universal basic income to free healthcare and education, the further I advance in my career, the more I want to see others afforded comparable opportunities.

Stop telling people they’re living in a fairytale because they don’t have huge sums of money that afford luxuries no human being needs while others experience hardships. Stop telling people they live in a bubble when their bubble includes all socioeconomic, racial, sexual, gender, and religious identities, while your bubble celebrates exclusivity. Those are not comparable bubbles.

If you need an example of what I’m talking about, here’s a transcribed snippet from episode #922 of The Joe Rogan Experience, where the comedian interviewed YouTube personality Philip DeFranco:

Philip DeFranco: ”Before I came to California, I was an ultra-liberal. I had the most liberal ideas of like, ‘Yeah, if I’m a doctor, and I’m making $3 million a year, I should give 70%.’ Like fucking crazy.”

Joe Rogan: ”Yeah, you were thinking that because you weren’t a doctor and you weren’t making $3 million a year.”

Philip DeFranco: ”Because I had no fucking money! Because I had no fucking money!”

Joe Rogan: ”Poor people always think like that.”

Philip DeFranco: ”You want to slowly come to the center? Fucking start a business.”

Joe Rogan: ”Yeah.”

Yeah—no. You might have thought you were “ultra-liberal,” but what you’ve instead always been is kind of greedy. You wanted them to give you their money when you didn’t have any, and now you don’t want to give away any money now that you have it. And to make matters worse, in that one brief moment, you patronized the shit out of millions of people.

By the way, a 70% tax on that high of an income ($3 million a year) is not a crazy thought if you know your tax money is going toward social progress initiatives. You’re still making $900,000 a year. Is that not enough money?

“I would make $3 million a year, but thanks to making society better for all, I’m scraping by on a mere $900,000 salary. I’m barely keeping my head above water.”

The average salary of a high school teacher is $47,720. You would have to work nearly 19 years tax-free to make as much as the hypothetical doctor made in a year taxed at 70%. The average high school teacher salary is still four times over the federal poverty line of $11,700 a year. It would take someone at the poverty line nearly 77 years to make $900,000 if they weren’t taxed at all. If you weren’t taxed either, it would take them over 256 years to make what you make in one year.

The point is, if you want to be socially progressive, you have to stop looking at what you’re giving up and instead look at what you have and what others need. You can still live comfortably while helping others to live more comfortably and have more opportunity. If that doesn’t sound rewarding to you, that’s fine—you’re just not socially progressive.

To quote Gandhi: “The world has enough for everyone’s need, but not enough for everyone’s greed.”

This post originally appeared at Bullshitist. You can follow the author on Twitter here.