Belenen (belenen) wrote,

no, it's not in another castle: my attitude about money

So many people sitting in what is a CASTLE of wealth ignore their privilege and point in another direction -- "oh but that person has a castle twice as large as mine! I'm not wealthy!" No. Other castles are irrelevant. Pay attention and notice that for every castle there are TONS of ramshackle shelters. The fact that yours has a drawbridge with a hole in it and hasn't had a new moat dug in 20 years doesn't make it any less a castle. The fact that you've had to eat food you didn't like or skip eating out doesn't make your safe supply of food any less a gigantic privilege in light of the vast numbers of people that live with food insecurity or flat-out starve (one in EIGHT humans are suffering from chronic undernourishment). I've had many arguments with people about money because I stoutly believe that money is to be used for the best of all, and it is wrong to hoard it.

Sitting on a pile of money so you feel secure (when you're a non-disabled white person) is NOT using it for the best of all. I am incensed by people who could easily support the life of someone they claim to love (who is contributing to the world through art or action), but they choose to keep their money in an account or 'invest it' or spend it on a new house, new car, expensive vacation, or other luxury. I've known several people with wealthy parents who think it is some kind of virtue to refrain from helping their offspring achieve some goal because the offspring 'should' do it the hard way. NO. That is fucking GROSS: exploitative work (which is the majority of jobs which might be available immediately) is NOT something everyone should experience! If it would be no effort to you to give someone the chance to escape (some level of) exploitation, how could you choose not to do it?

I think buying expensive things when a cheap one would do is gross because it is a waste. That extra money could have gone to feed someone, or get someone medication, etc. I am not saying all luxury is bad; some amount of luxury is self-kindness. However, I don't think there is ANY* excuse** for buying a piece of clothing that costs more than a minimum wage worker makes in a month, or half a month for that matter. That's some elitist classist revolting BULLSHIT. (*well, actually, I do think there are some instances where that is okay; if it is a sacred object to the person buying it, there is no price that I could say is too much. But in the vast majority of cases, FUCK THAT. **also sometimes it is necessary to use expensive objects to combat racism or other prejudice. I don't judge people who consciously use status symbols to level the playing field. If you're a white cisgender non-disabled neurotypical person, that ain't you.)

If I was wealthy enough (which I define as making 150% of what I need to survive, while living frugally) I would give the majority of my excess to everyone I knew who spent their time giving, or who needed healing time at home, etc (and if I was still more wealthy I would make it so that their necessities were all covered, and include people I didn't know). I would not be alive today if someone hadn't paid my necessities for the two years that I was agoraphobic while working through childhood sexual abuse. It is not okay that people have to labor for the basic necessities of life; food, shelter, water, health care, education, and internet should be available to everyone. (no, the internet one is not a joke: it is extremely important for access to so many resources) In my ideal world, everyone would get these things and then give to the community in whatever way they could. This is not likely to happen on a grand scale, but if I had the power to make it happen for some people I would, and I'd prioritize the least privileged.

I've recently realized (after expecting to be poor my whole life) that I may have a lucrative skill. I consider it my responsibility as a relatively privileged person to attempt to make money in this way so that I can support others. This may seem counterintuitive, but frankly I feel certain that taking action to help people who are being mangled by the system is better than opting out (which is something that only privileged people can do).

In the meantime, while not yet making 100% of what I need to survive, I give away 11% of everything I earn (not counting things borrowed or gifted) to social/ecological justice organizations and/or friends in need. This is vital to me, because there are so many people working for good, and I am not the best person to do direct action for a number of reasons (I will do it when I can but I can't be counted on). In many cases, me trying to 'help' directly would be a terrible idea: best to give to people who know what their community needs and let them handle it. I can afford this right now because if I were to run out of money and need help, I could count on people to give me food, shelter, etc. In this way I am incredibly privileged. Also, it is essential to me to remember that money is not mine and I cannot truly own anything but my own body and self: giving away from what I earn reminds me that 'earning' is an illusion because owning is an illusion.

In practical immediate terms, this translates to me being careful to communicate clearly and act with financial consideration in my relationships. If I want to go to some event with cost, I want my poorer friend to come, and I can afford to pay for both of us, I would consider it unethical to not sincerely offer to pay their way. Since I usually can't afford to do that, I just ask with up-front info about the cost and am careful to not push. I do not expect anyone to pay for me, but I do expect them to let me know the cost ahead of time and not try (at ALL, EVER) to push me to spend money. If I forget to tell someone about a cost for something and they get stuck in a situation where they feel pressured to pay, I consider it my responsibility to cover that or otherwise help them out of that situation (changing the plan, for instance).

inspired by kmiotutsie's prompt and lj idol's topic.
Tags: money, rants, social justice / feminism, the essential belenen collection, writing prompts

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