In their ever misguided attempt to make the world ‘fair’, the progressive movement has determined that wealth accumulation is the great evil on society. Wealth, as if it is not an inanimate object, must be delicately handled by government fiat in order to prevent its possible corrupting effects from harming the people. The government, capable of determining good from evil, will disperse the wealth as best needed. This redistribution will then create a society where wealth is equally shared by the entire citizenry.
It is assumed that wealth’s corrupting effects are materialism. Once a person attains an arbitrary level of income, the possessions accumulated actually become oppressive to those with lower incomes. The position held by an individual on the income scale of our country has become directly related to the amount of oppression that individual has exerted on those below him. Regardless of both how the wealth was generated and its use; it is a form a materialism corrupting the society.
The problem with this assumption is that materialism is not simply the accumulation of items. It is specifically the emphasis on material objects and comforts with a rejection of spiritual, intellectual or cultural values. Therefore, the progressive assertion that wealth and materialism go hand-in-hand makes great leaps in attempting to understand the motive of the person who has gained wealth. Placing the blanket identity of materialistic over an entire group by simply creating a set income level that we are to believe is the starting point for materialism is a very pretentious policy.
I understand that most liberal won’t flatly out claim that those over a given income threshold are materialistic; rather, they attempt to make the argument that there is a level of fairness to be considered within the income scale. This insistence that our income structure should be built around what is fair is not attainable without labeling something as unfair. In turn, the solution has become to characterize those with wealth as being materialistic in order to assign them the title of unfair. If wealth generation/accumulation is suddenly materialistic it is easier to accuse that group of individuals as being unfair or harmful because they are rejecting spiritual, intellectual or cultural values that make a healthy society.
Yet, in this attempt to bring fairness to the income structure of the US; the progressive movement has created materialism with their own policy. The concept of wealth distribution among citizens has given birth to the belief that one is entitled to an income level. This idea has come from different policy initiatives designed to foster this artificial level fairness within other areas of life. We now live in a society where people deem certain items as deserved regardless of personal effort to attain those items on their own. For example, the housing bubble was created as a policy driven by the assumption home ownership was deserved; we have a looming student loan bubble because higher education is determined as a right; our country spent billions of dollars on cell phones for people who felt they were deserved; public sector employees rioted under the assumption that pay and benefits were deserved; we are steps closer to nationalized healthcare because it is assumed to be deserved and this doesn’t include the countless other government programs handing out money to people who feel they deserve it simply by being alive. As a result of income and a standard of living becoming entitled; it is these people that have embraced materialism. For they have rejected the cultural value of one’s effort determining your standard of living. It is the liberal that has rejected spirituality in favor of owning all material via governmental growth.
I will not deny that some wealthy individuals have become materialistic. However, their materialism has not created oppression as it is done as a reward for their effort and not an emphasis purely based on material gain. In fact, it is the progressive policies of wealth redistribution that are a greater agent for oppression. As it uses the weight of the government and the selfish desires of the entitlement class to restrict those they deem as wealth accumulators. It is they who are preoccupied with attaining possession without effort. It is they who are materialistic.