During the last prez. campaign Obama had a great speech addressing racial issues. A member of the 1% has asked perhaps Obama could give "a similarly healing speech about class and inequality? What if he [Obama] urged an end to attacks on the rich?" More clueless beliefs by the rich are catalogued here. The rich are not more virtuous, hardworking, or smarter.
But appeals to logic, history and common sense will not get you far with a roomful of very rich guys who feel paranoid and victimized. The Wall Street types asked to become Obama donors wanted assurances that the president would not criticize his opponent’s finance industry record. It’s not enough that they’re ridiculously wealthy: They wish to be utterly above criticism. That’s the most important thing to remember: These people, the .01 percent, are mostly childish idiots. Idiot children have now accumulated all of the nation’s wealth and they are terrified that someone might try to take some of it away.
A big article in Newsweek this past week is about the inability (unwillingness?) of Obama to prosecute the shenanigans on Wall Street that crashed the economy a few years back. In the 1980s the Savings and Loan scandal resulted in a thousand prosecutions with a 90% conviction rate. This scandal? Zip. Not even teeny cases of investor fraud. I'll let you read the whole thing.
Alexis Goldstein wrote Confessions of a Wall Street Insider to explain why he got out of Wall Street and joined the Occupy movement. He talked about how the culture of the form where he worked stressed money over everything else and screwing over the other guy (colleague, client, boss). Unethical actions not caught were highly admired.
I wrote recently about Powers versus the oppressed. This quote describes the difference very well.
It is hard to contrast the joy of community I feel at Occupy Wall Street with the isolation I felt on Wall Street. It's hard because I cannot think of two more disparate cultures. Wall Street believes in, and practices, a culture of scarcity. This breeds hoarding, distrust and competition. As near as I can tell, Occupy Wall Street believes in plenty. This breeds sharing, trust and cooperation. On Wall Street, everyone was my competitor. They'd help me only if it helped them. At Occupy Wall Street, I am offered food, warmth and support because it's the right thing to do, and because joy breeds joy.
Romney appears to be quite tone-deaf when discussing money with voters: Nope, Romney's son Tagg wasn't trading on the family name when he raised $244 million to start a hedge fund. Want to start a business? Just borrow $20,000 from your parents. Uh-huh.
That got essayist Terrence Heath discussing privilege.
Gary Younge of The Guardian starts it off:
Class privilege, and the power it confers, is often conveniently misunderstood by its beneficiaries as the product of their own genius rather than generations of advantage, stoutly defended and faithfully bequeathed.There is a lot of rationalization of their wealth. This web of privilege is treated as something due, but that same rationalization bites into the safety-net that the working poor depend on.
Privilege frequently comes with the myth of the self-made man. We did it all ourselves, not like those welfare cheats. So, did you attend a public school? Use Pell Grants? Claim a mortgage deduction? Pave all the streets you drove on? Did your business get government contracts? Does that business depend on sound currency? Enforceable laws?
Many times privilege is because of laws -- gov't made rules to allow it. Some are born rich and their privilege is unearned. Romney has a rousing defense of his father's rise from humble beginnings, implying that since his father became wealthy the son deserves every penny.
The biggest problem with privilege is the length those that have it go about denying it. And there is a reason. If you admit it has helped you then you have some responsibility. You are responsible for the daily decisions that perpetuate privilege at the expense of those without. It is so much easier to take it for granted to the point of not seeing it.
The 1% are fond of saying there is equal opportunity. A poor kid of a working single mom can indeed get into Harvard. But entrance to Harvard is so much easier if your dad has the bucks and is a Harvard alum. No, opportunity is not equal.
Warren Buffet has made a big deal about paying less taxes (in terms of percent) than his secretary. Obama is now pushing the idea that the rich pay at least 30% and calling it the Buffet Rule.
Chris Christie, GOP governor of New Jersey, responded saying, "He should just write a check and shut up."
That raised the ire of novelist Stephen King. His novels are popular enough that he is now considered rich. Donating to a charity or buying a new building for a library just doesn't cut it. Charity doesn't reduce global warming. The rich are refusing to assume America's national responsibilities, the care of the poor, the education of its young, the repair of infrastructure, repayment of national debt.