I was thinking about the Affordable Care Act – popularly known as Obamacare, because… err… because – and how it’s been marketed almost explicitly as wealth redistribution, as opposed to universal care.
It’s funny, because while the idea of universal care is attractive, wealth redistribution is … scary.
Why is “wealth redistribution” scary?
To me, it’s because the definition of “the wealthy” is so unclear.
To my son, for example, I am wealthy beyond imagining. I can buy smartwatches, phones, new computers, new cars at the drop of a hat – and he has this idea that I’m built of wisdom and restraint because I don’t do any of that, whether I want to or not.
Meanwhile, to me, my father (z”l) was wealthy beyond imagining. He had land upon which he grew tobacco and beef, built neighborhoods and golf courses, and should he have wanted a Rolex, he’d have had one. (To my knowledge, he never wanted a Rolex – I have the watch he wore when he died, and it’s a $10 Wal-Mart special, of which I could not be more proud.)
So when I think of wealth redistribution, I think I’m all for it, because it would mean taking money from people like my father, who had something like millions of dollars lying around (which explains why he died with less material means than I have, although surrounded by the love of his family) and giving it to people like me.
Until I remember my son, which would mean that wealth redistribution would take from me and give to people like him. I don’t mind him getting money from me – I’m glad to help him whenever I can… but the redistribution is hardly fair when it takes out of my pocket.
That’s really what it comes down to, I think. When I worry that I might not have enough – because I don’t, or else I’d be a lot less worried about investing money in things like Macs – taking from me is scary. And since your perspective on what you need changes based on where you are, you’ll never generally think you have enough.
Sure, I have two computers on my desk – three if you count the non-functioning Mac that someone gave me out of the true generosity of his heart – and I have a server as well as a family workstation, not counting the portable devices that others in my family have. But I need more RAM, and network-attached storage, surely – and a smart TV as well, for some reason.
So I’m “destitute,” especially compared to my friends who have numerous Macs and fully-networked homes. When I have enough money that I can have what they have, I’ll have enough.
And they’re probably (at least) slightly envious of those who have more than they have, too.
The truth is, I do have enough – I’d love to have a decked-out Mac Pro, but do I need it? Of course not.
I need to make sure that I always know that I have what is important – the love of my family, shelter, food, the health I have. The rest is gravy. Given that, while it hurts to lose money to things like the ACA… I can survive and be okay with it.
I just really, really, really wish that the politicians would stop trying to lie to me about what it really is, and why, and how.