Ja Rule's Fyre Festival ended up conning wealthy elites for $12,000 a head. (Photo by Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images for City Harvest)

Let’s Harness Fyre Festival Schadenfreude To Kick the 1 Percent Out of Power

The Left can channel collective joy at screw-ups by the wealthy into a bigger movement for wealth redistribution.

BY Kate Aronoff

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Politics can be a fun way to hate on the ultra-rich too, including those who make up the vast majority of Republican lawmakers.

If you like to laugh at rich people doing stupid things, this has been a satisfying past couple of weeks.

First came the news last week that venture capitalists had pumped millions of dollars into Juicero, the wifi and QR-code utilizing juicing start-up (costing $400 a pop) that—as it turns out—does little more than press a bag of fruit into a glass. And today, reports came out that the Fyre Festival, a $12,000-a-head, Blink 182-headlined island music festival, is devolving into a chaotic, Lord of the Flies-type scenario for its uber-wealthy attendees, complete with food and water shortages. It has since been postponed indefinitely, with guests fleeing the island in the Bahamas.

But we shouldn’t have to get all of our schadenfreude from incidents like this where capital is hilariously misallocated—though these moments should be savored. Politics can be a fun way to hate on the ultra-rich too, including those who make up the vast majority of Republican lawmakers.

And why not? As news of the Fyre Festival debacle was starting to trickle out over Twitter and Instagram, the Wall Street Journal published an editorial proposing that—in order to pay for corporate tax cuts—Congress should raise the age at which Americans are eligible to collect social security payments. The healthcare proposal pushed by Trump and GOP leaders would kick 24 million people off their insurance, i.e. leave them more likely to die, by 2026.

With Trump’s executive orders aimed at expanding offshore drilling and eliminating Obama’s Clean Power Plan, Republicans are careening us toward a future of rising tides and hellish draughts. The upshot here is clear: If you don’t happen to make at least six figures, chances are that this country’s wealthiest and most powerful are actively trying to kill you.

So while the rubes buying Juiceros and Fyre Festival tickets are getting collectively shamed—and rightfully so—their families are by and large still running the show. If they’re left in charge, we are likely to face a future of climate catastrophe, preceded by a still-harsher criminalization of black and brown bodies and even more painful levels of wealth and income inequality.

A politics aimed at staving off such a dystopia should tap into the joy felt scrolling through the desperate tweets and Instagram updates from the wealthy elites who got conned into spending over ten grand on a music festival being hosted by Ja Rule in 2017. Instead, establishment politics have sought to woo over the parents who bankrolled these fools’ trips.  

Every time millionaires and billionaires screw up like this is a recruitment opportunity for the Left, including groups like the Democratic Socialists of America. The 1 percent are screwing all of us over. Sure, let’s laugh at them when they do stupid shit, but then let’s kick them out of power.

Kate Aronoff is a writing fellow at In These Times covering the politics of climate change, the White House transition and the resistance to Trump’s agenda. Follow her on Twitter @katearonoff

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