How to be a Bad Leftist Progressive

And how conservatives are doing more to help than you think

Yesterday was pretty exciting because since being laid off from my job, I had my first freelance piece published. Working with the wonderful Newsweek editor Batya Ungar-Sargon, I published a piece titled “Why Are America’s Socialists So Rich?”. This was in response to the uproar from the Twitch leak about how much money Hasan Piker makes and how he spends his money. According to his Wikipedia page, Hasan Piker identifies as progressive, leftist, and socialist.

As many people know, I’m a huge fan of conversation, and I’ve found it extremely interesting how many people on the left are defending Hasan. Since having these conversations, I’ve been thinking a lot and trying to understand where this defense is coming from. And the more I think about it, the more I start wondering if we’ve reached a point where we’re more concerned with labels than the underlying values.

One common rebuttal I had when speaking with people was this whole, “Well actually, socialism is…” Whenever I hear this, my eyes begin to roll to the back of my skull like one of the alien-possessed people from American Horror Story: Double Feature.

I roll my eyes because if the only part of socialism you’re interested in is how the government should be structured, your bar is extremely low. Do you know why conservatives hate the idea of Medicare for all and other aspects of a social safety net? Because they do more to help others.

Yes. I know. That sounds completely insane if you’re on the Left. When we think of conservatives, we think of selfish people who don’t want to help anyone else, but that’s actually not true. And when I learned about the data, I was as shocked as you might be right now.

The above graphic is from a recent publication from PhilantropyRoundTable.org that has some more interesting data, and you should definitely check it out. Time and time again, conservatives are doing more than the left. In fact, the top 15 states who give the most are all conservative.

The argument you’ll hear from conservatives is that they don’t want to be forced to give, they just believe that we should give as we please. That’s exactly what they’re doing, and they’re making those of us on the Left look really dumb.

So, you can sit and defend wealthy leftists like Hasan and everyone in the richest cities in the country and simply say, “Well actually, this is what socialism means.” But if you want to uphold the values that we’re fighting for, you’ll raise the bar a little bit.

Seeing how many people on “my side” defend the rich while so many are suffering makes me feel more politically homeless than the culture wars.

At the same time, people don’t know what they don’t know. Not to sound like a pretentious, book-reading asshole, but for the last 24 hours, I’ve been ruminating on the idea that people need to educate themselves more on the philosophy of effective altruism. Effective altruism is a philosophy started by Peter Singer, which was popularized with his books like The Life You Can Save and The Most Good You Can Do.

The philosophy is based around sitting back and asking ourselves what that second book title is all about, “What’s the most good we can do?” Reading his work completely changed my life, and I could write about effective altruism all day long and how important it is. There are a lot of important questions brought up, but each day, I focus on the personal aspect. I’m always wondering if I’m doing as much good as I can, and for me, that’s what being on the Left is about.

How can I sit back and think I’m doing the most good I can while buying expensive TVs, furniture, and cars? If I have extra money after my basic needs are met, how can I be alright with people suffering? When I see people defending the rich, I see people justifying all of these things. It’s especially heartbreaking when the wealthy have gained their position due to a series of luck such as being born into the right family.

If you’re waiting around for our country to turn into Denmark or Finland, it really just seems like an excuse to not do the most good that we can do for one another.

Now, I can imagine a good portion of you are sitting there screaming at me in your mind, “What?! So, I’m just supposed to give away all of my money?” The simple answer is “no”, but you should definitely read these books on effective altruism. Another one to add to your list is Doing Good Better by William MacAskill, and it’ll give you a better idea of what this really means. The entire philosophy is about being rational, and these philosophers have thought more deeply about this stuff than I ever could. They draw some pretty clear lines about how much is “enough”, and that’s specific to each individual person.

And don’t get me wrong, some of their standards seem a bit high, but I come from the 12-step world where we say, “Progress not perfection”. It’s a standard to aspire to, and it’s a good North Star to follow. One aspect of the philosophy that I’m not 100% on board with is that it seems to have more of a global focus than I agree with. Once I realized how cheap it is to save a life in another country or improve their quality of life, I personally chose to allocate most of my donations to those causes, but I do take a decent portion to focus on my community as well.

Now that I’m unemployed, that’s changed. But now, with my son, we’re looking for volunteer opportunities to help where we can.

This piece isn’t meant to make anyone feel bad, but it’s to point out what I think is far more important than just going out and voting. As it is right now, even with Democrats having the House and the Senate, nothing is getting done. So, it’s not helping anyone to just talk about how awful the right is and how we need to change these systems. This is especially true based on the stats for how much conservatives give compared to the left.

We need to stop focusing on labels and identities and focus more on our values and what they mean to us. I thought the Left was about helping as much as we can, and if that’s true, it takes more than streaming on Twitch all day while living in West Hollywood. It takes more than screaming at people on social media who disagree with you. And unfortunately, it takes more than simply casting your vote. We all have the ability to do more, but we’re too busy finding excuses to watch people profit off of the same systems they’re criticizing while people are suffering.

If something in this piece clicked for you, I highly recommend you read the suggested books from Singer and MacAskill. If you’re looking for a place to donate, check out GiveWell.org, which uses research to find the best organizations to give to. And please don’t forget that we’re the richest nation in the world, so if we start helping people locally, we’ll have more people who can start helping globally as well. With a quick Google search, it’s easy to find local organizations to get involved with.


I’ve been working on organizing all the books I’ve read, and I have multiple lists of books on becoming a better thinker. There are lists for educationsocial issuescritical thinkingself-deception, and biases. For the rest of the categories, click here.

I’m always open for a conversation and to be shown what I might be missing or where I may be wrong, so feel free to email me at TheRewiredSoul@gmail.com

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