Rather than punching people, tax billionaires
Bruce Wayne’s net worth has been estimated at $11.6 billion dollars. As Batman, he uses that money to dress up and get in fist-fights with individual criminals. This does not, however, address the social and infrastructure problems of Gotham City. Gotham does not need Batman. It needs to tax Bruce Wayne.
Batman has risen to popularity with his mano-a-mano defeats of such colorful characters as Bane and the Joker, but he has done nothing to address the root causes of these problems.
Batman’s physical conquest of Bane does nothing to address the social problems which led to a child growing up in prison on the Caribbean island of Santa Prisca. Admittedly, much of this issue is international, but Gotham could at least offer support Santa Priscian refugees that do escape, and support our Santa Priscian community in their calls for justice and reform on the island. While Batman has successfully punched one villain, the root causes remain.
In the same way, Batman defeated the Joker, but to what end? As the recent Todd Phillips dramatization has highlighted, based on extensive analysis of Arkham and other records, the emergence of the Joker can be largely attributed to a collapse in Gotham’s civil services. Mental health, welfare and even basic garbage collection were severely underfunded at the time of the Joker’s rise, and remain so to this day.
The Joker is no answer to these problems, but neither is Batman beating him to a pulp. The Joker’s murder and mayhem has morphed into a diffuse white-male supremacist movement that Batman cannot simply punch into submission. Today poor and marginalized suffer from both a failing city and vigilante violence on the streets. Batman physically subdues the most colorful examples, but the problem remains. The problem is the collapse in governance, and the hoarding of wealth people like Bruce Wayne.
Gotham’s police, prisons and mental health institutions like Arkham are chronically underfunded — leading to corruption, abuse and even more social issues. This is a breeding ground for violence, vigilantes and human suffering, and the answer is not assault and kidnappings by a billionaire in his underwear. The answer is taxing these billionaires to fund and reform all of these institutions.
Today, after countless villains and supervillains we must look at our hero. Why does this cycle continue, through endless sequels and reboots? Why does the problem remain, repeat, and get even worse?
The fact is that Batman has lived long enough to be a villain. He and his ilk were, in fact, villains all along. If we peel back his mask there lies Bruce Wayne, a billionaire of inherited wealth, who today pays a lower tax rate than his secretary. Wayne continues to shield most of his wealth in offshore accounts and through accounting tricks, even while the city of Gotham crumbles around him.
Batman’s money and violence will not save Gotham from our problems of money and violence. He has not saved us for decades, and he will not save us now. Now that we know who is behind the mask, the answer is to tax Bruce Wayne and his ilk, improve Gotham City, and never again let inequality rise to a point of such madness.