by: Brian Carrier
The article I have chosen is about wealth inequality and the arrogance attributed to the "top 1%" of wealthy people.
Steve Benen (the author) creates an environment where it's easy to agree that both Tom Perkins (who accused liberals of using Nazi tactics) and Sam Zell (who defends the Perkins assertion and adds to it) are out of touch rich guys. This article had the potential to be a scathing and insightful piece that would bring "non-believers" to their senses. What we get instead is a tired dialogue and no evidence to support any of his opinions.
The fact that 1% of people own the vast majority of world wealth leaves a large group of potential allies- why not take the time to support a hugely supportable topic? Commenting "oh dear" after a list of ridiculous statements doesn't give justice to the issue. How do we, the comparatively miserably poor, work harder than these incredibly rich people?
I know plenty of poor people that are too lazy to do anything for themselves. I know rich people that have dedicated their lives to their work. Some of the most wealthy Americans have made huge personal sacrifices and have risked loosing more money in a single day than millions of people make in ten years of working. Is cleaning bathrooms at a fast food joint harder work than managing millions of dollars you've already made? Is ordering office supplies as valuable as orchestrating the logistics for a multi-million dollar project?
Steven seems to capitalizing on the fact that people dream of a day when they "strike it rich" and never work another day in their lives. He's banking on the idea that the person reading his article despises the wealthy while feeling an entitlement to a fraction of that wealth based on the work they have already done. How does this debate make any sense?
The fact that the ultra-rich are becoming stratospherically rich shouldn't be the issue. Personally attacking the rich and the culture that they have created doesn't solve the real problem that the obscenely wealthy present to the poor and huddled masses. The issue is how ethically they have acquired that money, and to what degree the American taxpayer has played in securing those funds.
The problem with the wealthy in America is not that they are mind numbingly wealthy, it isn't that they have zero comprehension of physical labour and it isn't that they may be arrogant and entitled assholes- the problem lies in the plethora of government handouts they depend on to proliferate their wealth. These are handouts that people like you and me work our entire lives to acquire.
These government "give aways" are funded by money that we've made by scrubbing toilets, washing dishes, answering phones, nursing the sick, counseling the addicted. This is money that has been made by us; in soul sucking cubicles, and in thankless 9 to 5 jobs. This is money we have made by missing our children's first steps, birthdays, and our families Christmas. This is money that we have given to our government, a government that gives it away- all the while demanding more.
There is little wonder why the "wealthy elite" are so readily despised. We see them jetting around the world to exotic places. We watch their shallow "housewives" on T.V and wonder how such self centered, shameless people have achieved such abundance. We question wether or not they deserve it, but our government doesn't wonder.
When I hear a politician talking about raising taxes on the rich, implying that the rich should "pay their share," I wonder- why play games with the American people? When I hear a politician demanding that government subsidized profits and guaranteed buying of surplus at twice the market price is ending effective immediately- I know that the war on the criminally wealthy has begun in earnest- anything less is a cheap way to get even more capital from hard working people- this time in the form of a vote.
Congress creates laws that protect the rivers of wealth flowing into massive bank accounts. Our government insures the wealthy stay that way and in return the wealthy fund the campaigns of their biggest supporters. It is an unwritten policy of EVERY politician to accept and solicit money from rich supporters. It is a shameful legacy that should infuriate every American.
The Rachel Maddow Show / The MaddowBlog
'The 1 percent work harder'
02/06/14 04:25 PM
By Steve Benen
Venture capitalist Tom Perkins recently caused a stir when he wrote an item comparing contemporary liberals to Nazis, insisting liberal criticism of the wealthiest 1% has "parallels" to Nazi genocide. He later apologized for having used the word "Kristallnacht," but defended his message.
The story ran its course and faded away, right up until yesterday, when billionaire Sam Zell, chairman of Equity Group Investments, decided to defend Perkins in a Bloomberg TV interview.
"I guess my feeling is that he's right," Zell said when asked by Bloomberg's Betty Liu how he felt about Perkins' stance. "The 1 percent are being pummeled because it's politically convenient to do so."
Zell then said the problem is that all non-rich are just jealous that they don't have the same work ethic that the country's wealthiest do.
"The problem is that the world and this country should not talk about envy of the 1 percent. It should talk about emulating the 1 percent," he said. "The 1 percent work harder. The 1 percent are much bigger factors in all forms of our society."
First, the notion that the top 1% of Americans are being "pummeled" is only true if you define "pummel" as "making out like bandits in a new Gilded Age while middle-class wages get stuck for a generation."
Second, to say, out loud, on purpose, that the wealthy "work harder" than everyone else is about the most elitist sentiment possible. It gives Romney's "47 percent" video a run for its money in the Obnoxious Snobbery Hall of Fame.
And finally, as Dan Primack noticed, let's not forget that Zell didn't even bother making "a perfunctory disavowal of the Nazi comparison."