The complaints sound like this:
They get paid more than me! That’s not fair!
They get better benefits than me! That’s not fair!
They get better hours than me! That’s not fair!
We should cut their pay to make it fair!
We should cut their benefits so they have the same crappy benefits I have. That will make it fair!
We should make them work the same crappy hours I work! That will make it fair!
I have to drive far to work, so should they! That would make it fair!
I have to scrounge to find child care! They should too! They should quit complaining about how good they have it and suck it up like the rest of us!
They should stop whining! They don’t know what it’s like being a real American having to work for crappy pay, in crappy hours, with a crappy commute! I want them to suffer just like me!
The cause seems to be with these many feelings of unfairness, that the only way to level the playing field is to, quite simply, vote against ones own interests. Or, rather, just enough people believe that the playing field needs to be leveled in this way that the whole votes against their own interests.
What do I mean, you ask?
It is not in everyone’s best interest to live below a livable housing wage ($18.25 per hour).
It is not in everyone’s best interest to have families working 2.5 jobs or 101 hours per week to maintain stable housing. That type of work week, in itself, is not stable.
It is as if we’ve forgotten that one part of the American Dream is to allow everyone to achieve their own dreams, however they may conceive them to be. Jack’s dream might be to be a hair stylist, Judy’s dream a truck driver, Joe’s dream a school teacher, and Jane’s dream might be to become the 10th Female President of the United States (I’m hoping for a more Progressive U S of A in the coming years).
But, collectively, we think that smokestacking the good social programs away is the path to fairness. We misconstrue the “pick yourself up by your bootstraps” idiom for a deluded version of equity. We opt to choose “equity of outcome” and not “equity in opportunity.” And, instead of choosing an outcome that puts everyone in a state where food, shelter, clothing, education, and health are taken care of – we are choosing an outcome where no one is taken care of.
Except the 1%.
All for the hope that one day, we too will figure out investment banking and other quick rich schemes to have golden parachutes and swan sculptures for birthday parties. For that faint hope, we vote against our own interests.
By voting against our own interests, we vote against our grandparents. We vote against our parents. We vote against our aunts, our uncles, our cousins. We vote against our sisters. We vote against our brothers. We vote against our children.
For the vain hope that we can be the next Mitt Romney, we sacrifice our children’s future. We sacrifice our kids’ health. We sacrifice our kids’ education. We sacrifice our kids’ housing.
When we sacrifice our basic needs for a whim, we sacrifice our lives.