Stephen King: The Politics of Economic Inequality

I rarely like to venture into the world of politics on this blog.

After all, this is a literary site.

But I read something yesterday from the words of iconic writer Stephen King on the subject of taxing the wealthy and economic inequality, and since I have some strong personal opinions about taxing the rich, and since Mr. King is a writer, I thought it would be entirely appropriate to blog about what he wrote in the Daily Beast.

Now…while I could have certainly done without some of Mr. King’s expletive tirade, I nonetheless appreciated much of the heart of his argument…

In the post, Mr. King, scolded the super rich (including himself—and Mitt Romney) for not giving back.

Tax us, please....

Granted, Mr. King isn’t the first wealthy American who has observed that the wealthy should be taxed more. After all, Warren Buffet has spoken out about our unfair tax system in which his secretary pays (proportionately) lower taxes than he does. But if you’ll recall, NJ governor Chris Christie quipped to that observation, “Warren Buffet should just write a check and shut up. I’m tired of hearing about it. If he wants to give the government more money, he’s got the ability to write a check—go ahead and write it.”

But Stephen King isn’t buying the idea that folks like him should just write a check and shut up about it, especially since the rich-guy’s philosophy in a nutshell is this: “don’t tell us how to use our money; we’ll tell you,” King wrote.

He also didn’t buy the idea that the wealthy should be given a pass on taxes just because they contribute their money to charities.

“I’ve known rich people, and why not,” Mr. King said, “since I’m one of them? It’s true that some rich folks put at least some of their tax savings into charitable contributions. My wife and I give away roughly $4 million a year to libraries, local fire departments that need updated lifesaving equipment (Jaws of Life tools are always a popular request), schools, and a scattering of organizations that underwrite the arts. Warren Buffett does the same; so does Bill Gates; so does Steven Spielberg; so do the Koch brothers; so did the late Steve Jobs. All fine as far as it goes, but it doesn’t go far enough.”

Why doesn’t it go far enough, in Stephen King’s opinion? Because he points out that what charitable 1 percenters can’t do with their charitable giving is assume America’s national responsibilities: the care of its sick and its poor, the education of its young, the repair of its failing infrastructure, the repayment of its staggering war debts.

“Charity from the rich can’t fix global warming or lower the price of gasoline by one single red penny,” he wrote. “That kind of salvation comes from United American citizenry.”

Er, that would be us.

As a concrete example, he cited how the uber rich Koch brothers, though very giving with their 68 million donation to Deerfield Academy (“which is great for Deerfield Academy”), but such a donation ultimately fails to do squat for cleaning up the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, or repairing the levees surrounding New Orleans or improving education in Mississippi or Alabama.

Stephen warned that there will be a “Kingsian apocalyptic scenario if inequality is not addressed in America.”

Glad to hear at least one writer addressing this timely topic.


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Jess says: May 06, 2012 at 6:15 pm

Hi Yamina, great article. Fascinating to hear what Stephen King has to say, and I completely agree with his statement. Always glad I stopped by. ~ Jess

    yammsy says: May 07, 2012 at 12:37 am

    I was glad to hear Mr. King speak out about it. Even if it might not be popular among some of his peers.

    Thanks for always stopping by, Jess.