GAME OF FAUX COMPASSION
You see them here, you see them there. They pop up in the damnedest places. At work. On television. In your friendship group. They are, of course, the latest life form to have invaded this nation. They are the compassion posturers, sometimes known as the compost people, for short.
Compost people are simple creatures. They so want to be loved and just a little bit admired. Their philosophy is simple. Pick a topic and declare your support for a form of self-imposed hardship you know will never be applied.
For example. “I feel so sorry for young people today trying to buy into the housing market. We bought our house a few years ago and it’s increased in value so much that even we couldn’t afford to buy it now.”
Nicely played. Gives the impression you are concerned about the welfare of others when what you are really doing is letting everyone know how well you have done in the property market. That is a classic compost play; it delivers a win-win that means you get the kudos of making the statement without the responsibility of having to do anything.
Next topic, taxation. This is a little more complicated but you’ve already got a sense of how the faux compassion game is played. The scene is a trendy television chat show where the guests take turns to pontificate about the parlous state of the nation’s finances. Guest No 1 goes straight for the jugular.
“Well of course I wouldn’t mind paying a bit more tax … I see it as the cost of maintaining a civil society.” Again, perfectly played. You get to posture your compassion for others on national television by professing your desire to pay extra tax without having to do anything. How good is that!
Now you know and I know that deep down the compost people are feeling mightily unsettled by their privileged position, so I have decided to help by finding ways to assuage their racked consciences. Indeed, I came up with ideas as to how the compost people might be able to achieve their stated aims.
Come close, compost people, for I have found a way to register your disapproval of the wicked real estate market. Here’s how you do it. Deliberately and with compassion sell your house to a young couple at a price that is — how good is this? — below the current market value.
That cunning plan, my dear compost people, will surely set in place a downward spiral in local property values that will allow others to more easily get into the housing market. Pretty damned clever. You sell first. No, I insist.
Next issue is the vexed matter of tax. Unfortunately, my dear compassion posturers, those woefully inadequate marginal tax rates are pretty much set for the rest of this year. But if you feel you would like to pay extra tax then I am sure we could set up a voluntary system where you can pay extra.
We could call this the voluntary tax fund and the entire nation could sit back and watch the fund’s value rise as compost people scrambled to make good on their stated willingness to pay not what is required but more than what is required.
No? Not interested? But compassion posturers, you were so adamant about your intentions. Oh, I see. Life isn’t fair for the compost people. They would love to do all of this but apparently there are technical reasons as to why they can’t ever deliver on their public compassion posturing.
BERNARD SALT email@example.com I @bernardsalt