Dagblog: RIP Mr. Smith
PeraclesPlease: Let's Talk about Sex, Baby
PeraclesPlease: Remainders (If 6 turned out to be 9)
The Economist's September 24 print edition has a cover story called "Hunting the Rich": http://www.economist.com/node/21530104
Awhile back I made a cultural comment about victim envy--how everyone, no matter how relatively well off, seems in our day to want to portray themselves as a victim for political advocacy purposes.
I was reminded of that comment on seeing that Economist cover page this morning on the newsstand.
The rich in this view--their view--are the hunted. (for purposes of this piece I'll arbitrarily define "rich" as bringing in more than, say, $10 million a year. There are any number of ways of defining "rich", all arbitrary, which put to bed the convenient charge by people who truly are rich that those making $250,000 or $350,000, say, are not rich. And, as I've written, in high cost of living parts of the country, that is not a ridiculous claim.) Not the predator. Or the sociopath. The hunted. They victims of misplaced resentment among the ungrateful masses.
They are the hunted on this view because others are trying to force them to share more of what is rightfully theirs. The audacity of those masses. Who do they think are? What is theirs is owing to their talent and merit and obvious superiority. They don't owe anything--or at least nothing more than they're paying now--to anyone else. Anyone who thinks otherwise is nothing more than a thinly disguised would-be thief. Tax and regulatory avoidance is their mantra. They know better how to spend their own money than any lame government.
The truth that is difficult for the rich to swallow is that they bring such sentiments upon themselves. They do this through their refusal to share money or power, and by their abject callousness towards the vast majority of those who, nominally at least, live in the same societies as they do. All made possible by their extraordinary insularity. They live in their own world in which they are society's last true heroes, who must defend themselves from becoming victims of the immoral leveling tendencies lesser humans are susceptible to.
There is the occasional Warren Buffett. And any individual wealthy person could decline to play the tax avoidance game on their own, as some surely do. Rich people differ in as many ways as any large group of individual humans. But in their impact on economic policies they behave as a class and have in the past few decades in the U.S. been engaged in vicious class warfare to--very successfully--shift not only taxation but risk burdens away from themselves and onto others.
I'll be among those declining to send notes of sympathy in response to their pity party. They can change the situation in a heartbeat, in responsible and socially beneficial ways, if they choose to. Or--eventually--in ways much less to their liking, it will be changed over their objections, as it were. The other thing about them is that most of them don't seem to know much history.