A video caught my eye last night on YouTube, and this morning I visited the filmmakers’ site to see what else they had to say. If you go to the “War on Greed: Henry Kravis’ Homes” page, you can see the film, comment on it, and read the 12 pages (so far) of other people’s comments.
It’s interesting, because the subject of one man’s tremendous wealth and how he earns it is going to provoke a pretty strong, knee-jerk reaction in most of us. The film takes it to the next step, which is, naturally, to point out how little he pays in taxes, and then interview people who earn less in a year than this man does in an hour. The film does a pretty good job at evoking an emotional reaction towards the Unfairness Of It All.
Now, this is not to say that I don’t think it’s wrong that there’s such a disparity in this country, or that the economic and legal systems are set up in such a way that the wealthy have extra advantages, but this kind of situation requires thought, not emotion. Once you start thinking about it, you realize that there is so much else going on that all this kind of public exposure does is provoke anger, not solutions. The viewers are prompted to “fight greed” and protest, say what they would do if they lived in one of Kravis’ homes for the holidays, but judging from the comments, it’s pointless effort.
I don’t have time today to go through all 12 pages, but even on the first, I could see that there wouldn’t be a lot of problem-solving going on. Someone who knew Kravis personally told about his generosity – of course people can be generous to the people they see every day while laying off thousands of people in the name of corporate profit. It’s a matter of who is an actual face you see, vs. who is just a name or number. How many of us work in our communities as volunteers, but spend money on a vacation instead of donating it to a charity that helps people far away? How selfish of us! It’s a matter of scale. Another commenter suggested that anyone who was jealous should stop complaining and get a better job. I’m sure nobody ever thought of that before. *sigh* Many folks answered the question of what they would do if they had one of the houses for the holidays, and it was clear that they had no concept – they’d throw parties, they’d sell everything and give the money away, they’d trash the place – not for one moment realizing that they’d then be doing exactly what they abhor in Mr. Kravis, i.e., closing up a corporation, firing all its workers, and taking the cash. The one that gave me a chuckle, though, was the one who’d sell one house and burn the other 7 to the ground, then give the money to the Sierra Club!
When I have a little more time (gotta shower and hit the road in less than an hour. . .) I want to get into this a little more deeply, but I’d love to hear what people think here. If you find a comment at the film’s page particularly interesting, let me know that, too, so I can check it out.