Working in These Times had an interesting fluff piece this week about wealthy “turncoats” demanding increased taxes on themselves. They were covering a protest outside Manhattan’s Waldorf Astoria Hotel in which protesters rallied against Governor Cuomo’s service cuts and demanded that millionaires pay their fair share. Amongst the crowd, they observed two protesters holding a sign saying “Another trust fund baby for taxing the rich! Let’s pay our fair share!”
The two “turncoats” were Elspeth Gilmore and Jessie Spector, Co-Director and National Organizer, respectively, of Resource Generation, a national nonprofit organization that challenges young progressives with wealth to use their privilege and resources for social change. According to Working in These Times, Resource Generation has been working with about 1,500 young affluent adults for the past 13 years, through conferences, workshops and philanthropic projects. They have also teamed up with Wealth for the Common Good, which advocates changing tax policy.
I place the term “turncoats” in quotes because these people are not truly class traitors. They do not ask the wealthy to give up their wealth or their power. They do not advocate for a classless society or an end to capitalism, wage slavery or bosses. They are simply liberals who support the existing system, but want it to be reformed. It is noteworthy that in 13 years of organizing, they could only muster 2 of their members (both officers in the organization) to show up at the Waldorf demonstration and that they have utterly failed to have any effect on tax policy. In fact, over the course of the past 13 years, tax rules have changed to benefit the wealthy to an even greater degree.
The rich do need to pay more in taxes, much more. But it is not going to happen because a handful of wealthy liberals ask them to. It will happen only through mass mobilizations, strikes, occupations and other tactics that cut into their profits. The ruling elite do sometimes consent to policies that benefit working people, but only when necessary to keep capitalism running smoothly.