Years ago, one of my professors told me about a “Gilligan’s Island test” that helps discern if actions are moral or immoral. Legend had it, he explained, that the long-running sitcom’s creator, Sherwood Schwartz, had actually created the seven characters marooned on a desert island to represent the seven “deadly” sins, or sins so serious they carried the potential of destroying one’s soul.
The sensational movie star Ginger, full of glamour and attraction, represents lust; Mary Ann, never as beautiful or successful as Ginger, represents envy; the Skipper, the ship’s captain who was often led by his appetite and his angst against Gilligan, represents both gluttony and anger; The Professor, convinced of his intellectual and scientific superiority over others, represents pride; Mr. Howell, the millionaire concerned only with his wealth, represents greed; Mrs. Howell, the millionaire’s wife who rarely lifted a finger, represents sloth; and of course, Gilligan, the seemingly likable character whose foibles always obstructed the castaways escape to freedom, represents the devil himself.
According to my professor, using the “Gilligan’s Island test” means evaluating actions through the lens of these castaways to determine whether or not actions succumb to one of their deadly sins.
While it is admittedly a beginner’s test that has proven useful (and somewhat entertaining) over the years, it is also a test that can shed light on the morality of some progressive political behavior.
Take Senator Elizabeth Warren and Representative Pramila Jayapal’s recent attack on Billionaire and Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, for example.
Understand, I’m no Musk “fan” and am not about to argue his moral superiority to anyone. As an average mom who spends zero time thinking about expensive electric cars or going to Mars, I am not sure Musk and I even share the same universe. To me, he’s a bit of an oddity, and I suspect his claims of selling his physical possessions or renting a $50,000 home are little more than financial maneuvering and publicity stunts.
Musk is beside the point, however. As American citizens, we should be more concerned when political leaders threaten the soul of our nation by disguising targeted (and sinful) political behavior as righteousness.
So casting Musk’s quirky personality aside, one might at least think his ability to use out-of-the-box ideas to become the wealthiest man in the world might be something even progressive politicians could respect. His success could even be deemed inspiring, considering he and his family at least claim to come from modest beginnings. They moved from South Africa to Canada and then to the United States, where he says he worked his way through college and accumulated $100,000 in student debt before finally beginning his financial ascent to his current net worth of over $260 billion.
Doesn’t this success capture the so-called American Dream, and wouldn’t those who aspire to use wealth to serve the needs of others at least want to know how he did it?
But apparently, that’s not how these progressives think.
In fact, as supporters of a highly debated wealth tax, Warren and Jayapal have engaged in some recent sparring with Musk that, quite honestly, doesn’t pass the Gilligan’s Island test.
In mid-December, when Time magazine named Musk as Person of the Year, Warren immediately ridiculed the decision on social media, tweeting, “Let’s change the rigged tax code so The Person of the Year will actually pay taxes and stop freeloading off everyone else.”
As one might expect, the “freeloading” accusation didn’t sit well with Musk, who has not only created innumerable jobs but also revealed he would pay an-anything-but-free $11 billion in taxes this year, supposedly more than any person in history.
That might have ended the conversation had these politicians actually been concerned about fairness or freeloading. But it was never really about that.
Representative Jayapal showed as much when she also took to social media, making clear their angst was with wealth itself — and the fact they didn’t have access to enough of it. She stated, “Elon Musk made $36 Billion in one day, but wants to brag about paying $11 billion tax bill. Oh yeah, he also added more than $270 BILLION in wealth just since the pandemic started. Time for the rich to pay their fair share.”
So in other words, these politicians aren’t accusing Musk of engaging in illegal activities like tax evasion or fraud. They aren’t admonishing him for failing to be a good steward with his money or failing to participate in private philanthropy. They aren’t even offering serious or civilized arguments over the pros and cons of a wealth tax. If these were their tactics or motivations, I might be more sympathetic.
Instead, their behavior has shown them simply hostile to the very existence of independent moneymakers like Musk who possess (and have typically created) unimaginable wealth beyond the government’s reach.
And I’m afraid that in doing so, their politics embraces the sins of nearly all of our seven castaways.
Krissie Allen is a former attorney and English teacher who writes about issues impacting faith, society, and good sense. Her
column appears every Tuesday. The views and opinions expressed here are those
of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819
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