This was a strange incident at a recent convention. There was a debate between Hasan Piker, on the Left, and Charlie Kirk, the Turning Point USA guy on the far, far Right, and at one point Kirk asks Piker what his salary was…which, apparently, Piker answered, although I haven’t seen any video of that exchange. But then someone in the audience (Cenk Uygar) asks Kirk the same question, and he just exploded in a ranting fury. I guess it was a sensitive question for him. That bit has been caught on video.
dare I say, it looks like Charlie Kirk was triggered at Politicon pic.twitter.com/GpduUR8Z1e
— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) October 21, 2018
He tells Piker to
go live like a socialist, and he yells at Uygur,
I live like a capitalist every single day, Cenk. I live as a capitalist, OK. I live what I believe, as he gets up and marches across the stage, pointing and shouting. Aside from the fact that it’s an odd thing to get so upset about, especially after you’ve just asked the same question of someone else, I have to wonder…what does that mean? Kirk uses the words like some people would use “Christian” and “Atheist”, as if there is some deeper moral meaning to living as a capitalist, and he’s a noble, upright figure for following the way of the prophetess Ayn Rand. I don’t get it.
I live as a capitalist, I guess, because I’m imbedded deep in a capitalist society, and the same is true for everyone at that event, including Hasan Piker. Kirk’s rant wasn’t even sensible, because it’s a statement about a system, not an individual.
But let’s play the game. What would it mean to live as a socialist? I think, in my imaginary ideal, it would mean living as part of a larger community where everyone has equal rights and equal shared opportunity. I would have less money — in a perfect socialist society, which doesn’t exist, I’d have no money — but my needs would be met, and I would be freed from a lot of worries. Do I have to panic about what I’m going to live on in retirement? Can I be bankrupted by a medical emergency? Will my neighbors starve if they lose their jobs? All of that worry would be nonexistent. I’d still have to be concerned about maintaining that society and contributing to its survival, but the individual existential fears would be gone.
It’s all a bit murky and idealistic, because I don’t live in a socialist culture, so I have to rely on a rose-colored imagination.
I do know what it’s like to live as a capitalist, because in live in that society. What that means is that some of us — like me — live in a reasonably prosperous and stable state, are an overall beneficiary of inequity. We’re doing mostly OK, but there is that dread that we’re one heartbeat away from total financial ruin (need I mention that a bozo exists who wants to destroy me and my friends with a ridiculous lawsuit? And the system allows that?) At the same time, many people are living in extremes of poverty, and others are living in extremes of undeserved wealth. There is no economic justice in this country.
This is not something to be proud of.
But we could focus a little more narrowly. What does it mean that Charlie Kirk lives as a capitalist? We can just look at him as an exemplar.
As it turns out, Charlie Kirk lives rent-free with his wealthy parents in a million dollar home. He claims his salary comes from grass-roots donations, but that is a lie. The tax forms for his non-profit (wait, how capitalist is that?) organization tell the true story.
As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, TPUSA is not required to disclose its donors. But based on public tax records and some reporting by other outlets, IBT has identified the sources of over $900,000 in funding for TPUSA. Republican mega-donor families, GOP politicians and other wealthy individuals have provided large amounts of money so the organization can spread free-market principles — from which the donors benefit — among young people, the majority of whom, overall, lean liberal.
Working to appeal to millennials, TPUSA is funded by a substantial number of older, wealthy individuals whose economic views the group promotes. IBT identified 17 donors to TPUSA, including nine from publicly available Internal Revenue Service records. The documented donations came mostly in 2014 and 2015, as tax records from many of the foundational donors are not yet available for 2016.
Well, now we know what it means to live as an ideal capitalist. It means living as a parasite and a pawn of plutocrats.
I wouldn’t be bragging about that, Charlie Kirk.