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The left's fear of money

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I've noticed over the years a decided fear of money, hatred of money, or at least discomfort of money by some people on the left.

Whether it's concern over the heads of liberal non-profits or big corporations making too much money, or snarky comments I get whenever I try to raise money off the site or, God forbid, actually take a vacation, there's a certain disdain amongst a certain segment of the left for having or spending money in any way beyond bare subsistence, and I'm trying to figure out why.

The issue came up for me, again, last night when I posted a simple photo of the beautiful sunset over Northern Virginia. The photo was taken from the sedan that CNN graciously paid for to drive me home from the airport after attending their conference. Someone made a nasty comment on the blog about how I must be doing well from all those donations to be taking sedans home from the airport. And when I explained that CNN paid for it, and that actually I didn't even get a speaker's fee for appearing at their conference (a fee that is quite common, mind you), I got even snarkier comments about how dare I expect a fee (I didn't "expect" a fee, but simply noted this wasn't a money-making trip for me).

Now, I'm happy to attribute those comments to trolls. And I'm not writing this specifically about THOSE comments. But rather, this is part of a larger trend, a larger feeling, I've noted for years amongst some segments of the left. The concept of doing well by doing good, of making a good living by being an advocate for good, is somehow anathema to large swaths of the left. And I think that's troubling.

Heck, I've even gotten nasty comments just for asking for donations - things like "all you do is write, why should we pay for that?"

Now, I'm not asking for tons of comments reassuring me that I do provide a valuable service. Rather, I'm curious what this vein of thought is amongst some on the left, how strong it is, why it exists at all, and what people think of it. I, for one, worry that it's something that holds us back. A fear of success, a fear of money, a fear of living well, a fear of becoming too much like the people we're fighting (those evil Republicans and evil corporations WITH MONEY - almost in the way that some people hate ALL religion because SOME religious people hate us). That somehow by wanting to make money ourselves, we've debased ourselves and our cause and become "like them."

And the thing is, I like money.

I was raised a good capitalist boy in a good immigrant home in Chicago, my family worked hard to put us in a nice suburban home with nice suburban schools, and the occasional family vacation out east or out west, and you know, I liked it. I liked it when I got to do my junior year abroad. I liked it when I saved up enough money to visit Europe on my own. And when I did well enough in school to get summer jobs in Paris and Buenos Aires, both in the same summer, I liked that too. This isn't stuff I'm ashamed of, it's stuff I've earned and I'm proud of accomplishing. And it's all stuff that money helped me do. But I can imagine some people on the left thinking that if you don't live like Ralph Nader, on a cot in your dingy old office, but instead enjoy the occasional trip to Paris, you're not a REAL lefty and you've somehow sold out the cause.

So, I ask your thoughts. Am I right about this? Does this current of thought exist? Why does it exist? And what are the ramifications of it? Is it a good thing? Or is it, as I fear, something that holds us back? Something that, in fact, may even be a knee-jerk reaction against our own success - the old Groucho Marx (I believe) "I'd never join a club that would have me as a member." I.e., do we have such a poor self-image that we simply expect ourselves to never be compensated for our work because, per se, our work is without value? Or do we simply think wealth - any wealth - corrupts absolutely? Or is this simply a minority view amongst the left that is, well, just a minority?


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