Monday, April 06, 2009

The American Right to Be Rich

I don’t know who first started the phrase ‘there’s two kinds of people …’, but it really gets on my nerves. It’s oversimplifying things, and what’s worse, it encourages people to generalize and broadbrush. And then these people are surprised when groups take such behavior further and begin acting like mobs, often racist and xenophobic in their mood.

Imagine that.

I start with that obnoxious twaddle, because it reflects a rather nasty sort of groupthink. And as happens all too often, that kind of mob mentality plays out in politics. It is the bane of democracy, when an emotional swell carries the people to a mad decision. And in the current climate, it’s that recurring poison of class warfare and hatred of success in others. In recent weeks we have seen public attacks of a most unreasonable vituperance against executives of public corporations, banks, and a wide range of successful individuals. While the targeting has been selective – no one seems to ask why it is reasonable to challenge AIG executives for receiving bonuses that they can prove they earned, while ignoring, say, the millions of dollars paid to Freddie Mac and Fannie executives. No one seems to consider it just a tad hypocritical for wealthy politicians like Ted Kennedy and Harry Reid to complain about the wealth of people who actually worked for their money.

And then there is our President, Barack Obama. Obama made $22 million dollars writing books, and somehow believes that qualifies him to tell the rest of us that we’re greedy. Madness is when people start telling us that this is an appropriate moral position, especially when the man telling us how bad it is to be rich, takes such pains to protect his own wealth and make sure his own comforts are provided. I wonder if he’s tweaked the thermometer at the White House down to the levels he told the rest of us to set, yet? Not likely.

Let’s be clear – the problem is not that Obama is rich, it’s that the President of the United States thinks its only OK for some people to be rich, and on that point he is not only wrong, but walking down a morally corrupt path. And he leads a mob of self-righteous morons, who neither comprehend nor care about the moral iniquity of their hatred.

I have a right to be rich. I am not rich, so far as money is concerned, but if I ever become rich, no one has the right to deny me my wealth. You have that same right, to have and hold what is your own, the same as every man. It has been played down as a mean source of motivation to say so, but the American Revolution was fought, in part, to protect wealth from being stolen by men who did nothing to earn it. ’No taxation without representation’, at its heart, is defense of individual wealth. To pretend that our nation’s forefathers fought and died for the right to create progressive tax rates, set a maximum wage, or for politicians to harass honest individuals simply for personal success is to lie, and there’s no denying it.

That is not to say that I should be miserly, or count it a virtue if I am cold to the needs of others. But virtue comes from choice, just as does evil. What you choose to do defines you, and your worth comes from your deliberate effort. Someone who claims another person should pay his debt is of no account, and so too a man who pays for his dreams with the work and wealth of other people compelled to pay against their will is a thief. It is necessary for government to levy taxes to pay for those needs to which the public has agreed, and to meet those responsibilities specified in the Constitution, but it is theft to take money for advancing a personal agenda and the special interests of one party. If it was even marginally valid to argue morally against the cost of the war in Iraq, then it is many times more imperative to stand against crippling our children’s future in order to give ACORN and the AFL-CIO a stranglehold on industry and the election system. And for government to even hint that someone is morally wrong for financial success is so foul in spirit that it beggars the imagination to come up with strong enough condemnation.

I started by condemning the stratification of whole demographics, and now I return to it. While there are legitimate means of studying group dynamics and cultural mores at work influencing behavior and social interactions, it must be understood that every person is an individual, and their personal condition is the result of both environment and choice; to deny one force is to invalidate the conclusion of your analysis before it starts. Polarization of wealth-hate is in like fashion an exercise of fascism, because the government is commonly brought to bear on a targeted class through no offense of their character. In practice such actions are no different from racially-based or religious persecution, and history offers an appalling record on how deep and vicious such pogroms can become.


Sterling A Minor said...

You sound pretty hopeless to me, but I will give it a try:
1. What do you think leads to people having wealth? Is it smarts? Is it street smarts? Is it luck? Is it hard work? Is it cheating others? Of course, it is each of these for different people and many of these together for some people. Financial success and morality bear no correlation at all.
2. Yes, the mob reaction is not a good one. But, the present mob reaction follows upon the heels of a similar mob reaction that lasted for about 30 years - worship at the alter of unregulated capitalism with its extremes of financial winners and losers.
3. If you become rich, of course many people have the right to deny you of it - the people you injured in amassing it if that occurred, the district attorney (or US Attorney) if you got rich criminally, the tax system of the place where you got rich, God himself, etc.
4. Rich = deserve does not compute every time, only some of the time.

DJ Drummond said...

Starting with insults is not good form, S.A.M, but I will answer your comment anyway.

Your first point misses what I was saying. Yes, wealth of itself has no moral weight, which is why it is morally wrong to attack someone simply because they are rich. Your point also misses the point that wealth is desirable, and that every American has the right to build wealth legitimately through work and ingenuity.

Your second point is simply a lie. Regulation never went away, not even to the degree that existed in the 1860-1880 period, when speculation was truly a threat to nation. It is amazing that any educated person, aware of the federal government's deep involvement in finance, commerce, and trade restrictions, could still believe that socialist fantasy.

Your third point is also plainly false. You assume that a rich person must have injured someone in making their wealth, you bring up criminal conduct when maybe - MAYBE - 2 or 3 percent of wealthy people committed fraud or some crime in making their money. I know that many people make themselves feel better by saying such bilge about those who are successful, but the fact is that such class envy is useless and morally wrong.

As to your final point, you only prove that you did not bother to consider what I wrote. Thanks for reading, but you would grow in understanding if you did not look for excuses to tear down, but instead considered the work in light of its context and logic.

Marci said...

Thank you for your comments.

Anonymous said...

DJ completely missed Sterling's 3rd point. DJ's assumption that Sterling inherently implies misdoings by the rich is obviously false. Sterling meerly points out that a society has methods of denying a person of some/all of their wealth. Whether or not these methods are ethical or just is moot. Our society happens to have various protections to prevent the unlawful acquisition of someone's wealth. Contrast our laws with the communist revolution in China where wealthy landlords and business owners were executed (as a result China experienced a huge brain drain). Let that be an example of what a mob mentality can accomplish.

On the other hand, it is apparent that it is useless even attempting to engage someone who portraits those who disagree with him as "socialist." On that note, I shall call you a fascist and ride off into the sunset.

DJ Drummond said...

** sigh **

OK, definition time, from

so-cial-ism   /Show Spelled Pronunciation [soh-shuh-liz-uhm] Show IPA
–noun 1. a theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole.
2. procedure or practice in accordance with this theory.
3. (in Marxist theory) the stage following capitalism in the transition of a society to communism, characterized by the imperfect implementation of collectivist principles.

fas·cism (fāsh'ĭz'əm) Pronunciation Key
often Fascism
A system of government marked by centralization of authority under a dictator, stringent socioeconomic controls, suppression of the opposition through terror and censorship, and typically a policy of belligerent nationalism and racism.
A political philosophy or movement based on or advocating such a system of government.
Oppressive, dictatorial control.

I understood these definitions, it is apparent that 'anonymous' does not and is just hoping to fling some rhetorical feces.