A $6,000 toaster is the most absurdly perfect metaphor for income inequality.

When tax cuts came up during a televised community meeting in Australia, let's just say that things got a little ... toasty.

The controversy started during the May 9 taping of "Q&A," a popular panel discussion show on the country's public broadcasting network, when audience member Duncan Storrar asked an impassioned question about the country's latest tax cuts:


GIFs via AussieNews1/YouTube.

It's a valid concern. And Australian Assistant Treasurer Kelly O'Dwyer, who was one of the panelists, offered a, erm, less-than-valid rebuttal.

O'Dwyer launched into a tried-and-true refrain about trickle-down economics — a theory that's been repeatedly debunked regardless of how much people really really want it to work. But it was the example she used to prove her point that really raised some eyebrows. Referring to a(n imaginary?) small-business owner with a $2 million budget, she said:

GIF via AussieNews1/YouTube.

Yup: SIX. THOUSAND. DOLLAR. TOASTER.

GIF from "The Brave Little Toaster."

Upon hearing this, most Australians thought, "Who the &$%# spends $6,000 on a bloody toaster?!"

All across the country, people were moved by Storrar's speech — and dumbfounded by O'Dwyer's blatant disconnect from the struggling poor and working-class citizens, who the government should actually be listening to.

GIF via Denny's/YouTube.

Our cousins Down Under rallied together and launched a tongue-in-cheek GoFundMe campaign to buy a $6,000 toaster for Duncan Storrar. Within two days, they raised more than 10 times that amount.

That's even more remarkable than the guy who raised $55,000 to make a potato salad. But while the impetus behind this campaign was similarly silly, it was also coming from a place of desperation and discontent with the ever-increasing rate of income inequality that's been spreading across the entire global economy.

Taxes are basically just a mandatory government-run crowdfunding campaign. And while you can argue about that supposed tyranny all you want, the fact that thousands of people willingly gave up their own hard-earned cash to help a man in need speaks volumes about the power of empathy and the far-reaching effects of community support.

GIF from Nicolette Groome/Tumblr.

The fact that governments across the world continue to eviscerate social benefit programs to give tax cuts to the wealthy is a disheartening affront to that same goodwill.

Governments should work for the people — which means all the people, not just the biggest breadwinners. So how come nearly 1 million Americans are losing food benefits while House Republicans are proposing an additional $98 billion in social program cuts? Why are 500,000 people in the U.K. losing their disability benefits, which many of them rely on to survive? Why are people like Australia's own prime minister hiding billions of dollars in potential taxable income in places like Panama and still getting tax cuts when the time comes around?

And how come when thousands of people opened their wallets and said, "This guy deserves a piece of toast! (Or, more accurately, to take his daughter to a movie once a year!)" the Australian government still ignored them?

Put mildly: That's not cool.

Guess which side of this toaster represents the working class? GIF via Photonic Induction/YouTube.

These phenomena obviously aren't limited to Australia. But a $6,000 toaster making front-page headlines is a pretty good indicator of just how absurd the problem really is.

Granted, there are some smaller businesses who would benefit from a six-foot-wide, double-racked toast-making behemoth like this. But what good is a $6,000 industrial toaster if the majority of your potential customers are too poor to afford a sandwich?

Maybe instead of concerning ourselves with fancy electronics, we should make sure everybody has their bread first. After all, you can't make toast without it. And if a couple thousand people were willing to chip in $60K in just two days to make one guy's life a little easier, imagine the difference it would make in the entire community if everyone did their part.

True

If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.