Thoughts on Peter Stringfellow’s “Aspiration” comments – letter


Hi Brian,

Firstly, much kudos to you for all your efforts politically and for animal welfare – and of course for all the music the last 40 years I’ve been listening!

I watched the Big ideas spot you took part in on the BBC recently and some of Peter Stringfellow’s comments got me thinking; the word ‘aspirational’ is used so often these days to justify what is basically greed. If you believe that those who can afford it should contribute accordingly, you’re accused of being ‘anti-aspirational’. We’re all supposed to be a part of the ‘aspiration society’.

I think this attitude is very pernicious. It assumes that the only outcome of aspiration is financial gain. People who aspire to help others, to invent things, to heal the sick, to teach, to grow things, to inspire – are never assumed to belong to the ‘aspirational class’; this class is reserved solely for those who strive at all costs to have more money than everybody else.

Indeed, the word ‘aspirational’ is used as a stick to beat down those who would promote values other than wealth.

Of course we should be promoting ‘aspirational’ people – we should laud anyone who aspires to achieve great things – to do good, to change the world, to help. But why is it that financial gain is ranked so high among those aspirations?

I’m all for Peter Stringfellow being able to enjoy his wealth. But if his chosen aspiration is simply accumulating money, he should realize that his contribution back to the society that allows him those opportunities is financial – and he should be taxed accordingly.

For those whose aspiration is to heal, to do social work, to teach kids, to paint, to mentor, to farm, to invent and on and on; they may never make as much money, but they should be praised and championed as the truly aspirational – and rewarded with our respect and thanks – and the added benefit of not paying so much tax.

Again thanks for all you’re doing – especially getting people talking and thinking,

Matt Hackett
San Francisco

Brian replied: SEE SOAPBOX