It’s ok to hate them for who they are. It’s ok to vandalize their property, taunt them, seize their assets, deny them government benefits, make them register and buy a license to practice their alternative lifestyle.
You can hound them at their workplace, you can bully them in schools, you can picket their homes, you can send them death threats with impunity, and you can occupy public buildings for months on end chanting bad things about them.
Rich is the new gay.
It is no longer permissible in our civil society to hate based on skin color, gender, ethnicity, religion, disability, or sexual preference. But wealth – that’s a free-fire zone. Wealth is evil. Capitalism is sodomy. Free enterprise is lewd and lascivious conduct. Wall Street is the new Castro Street, only it’s ok to light it on fire. Even Tiffany Newt feels free to tee off on Mitt Romney for being (gasp) too rich – think Ellen reefing on Elton John to win George Michael’s vote.
You can say the most hateful things imaginable about rich people - even the President does it, cheered on by a wealth-o-phobic media. Imagine how the fur would fly if a President blamed all his failures on homosexuals, or if he expressed support for violent mobs rioting in the streets if it were the 3.6% instead of the 1% whose heads are demanded on a pole.
The left/right paradigms for wealth and sexual preference are pretty much the same: liberals insist that material preference is assigned at birth; conservatives believe it is a choice. Closet richos like Michael Moore or the Obamas possess the same self-loathing false piety as Ted Haggert or Larry Craig. Their response to being outed is loud, angry denial; wide stance or baseball cap, the disguise doesn’t fool anyone.
The rich even have their transgendered equivalents – trans-wealthered, I suppose - who have crossed over from the poor side to the rich side. I don’t think the abuse hurled against Herman Cain was because he was black; it was because he is black and refused to stay poor. To the haters, that is one sick puppy. Tim Tebow is even worse – openly rich, openly humble, and openly Christian. Unforgivable.
I can’t explain the liberals’ reflexive hatred of wealthy people. Perhaps they are guilty about the way their own leaders have enriched themselves – Obama, Corzine, Soros, Pelosi, Kennedy, Gore, Trumka, Jackson, Hillary the pork belly whisperer. If all you know is swindling and influence peddling, then maybe that’s all you can imagine.
Whenever I say something nice about rich people in a column, I can count on a deluge of angry comments and personal attacks. The number of things haters guess wrong about me reveals a prejudice so deep-seated that it can’t be tempered by reason. The last acceptable negative stereotype is the rich white guy – presumptively unethical, presumptively privileged, presumptively unaccomplished and undeserving.
People who hate rich people don’t like it when I credit rich businesspeople for improving our living standards. They say that the only reason that rich people ever improve products, workplace rules, and the environment is because unions or government force them. Rich people are inherently evil and greedy and left to their own devices would poison us and starve us to death – they can’t help themselves.
But let’s think about that. The government only forces them to pay their workers a wage of $7.25 per hour, and yet private employers pay a median wage of $21.10 per hour. Why? Who makes them do that? Not unions - only 7% of private sector employees choose to be represented by unions. How is it possible that rich people would voluntarily pay poorer people triple what the law requires? Hmmm.
And government does not force any employer to provide benefits, either; yet the average private sector employee receives $17,000 worth from his evil rich employer. Health insurance, holidays, and how about vacation days - nobody forces rich people to pay you to take time off with your family, but they do. How un-greedy is that?
Want more? Tuition reimbursement, retirement savings matches, private loans, contributions to charities, service on community boards, partnering with schools and government agencies, funding recreation, the arts, museums – show me the law that was passed by the progressives that makes rich people do any of that.
Or tell me what union went out on strike until the employer agreed to build a soccer field for inner city kids or fund scholarships for girls in non-traditional careers? Which one traded a wage increase for increased funding of Boys and Girls clubs or Junior Achievement? That’s what owners do all the time, into the billions.
Some employers’ subsidized cafeterias are the only decent meals their employees will eat during the week. Nobody made them do that; and they want to starve the poor, remember? Poison their water, take away their health care, shut down schools for their kids, hate women – stuff like that. Not offer free mammograms.
Do you think that executives must sit on civic boards under some court-ordered community service sentence? Is it like the Huber law – we get a pass to get out of work to do it? Why would rich people give so much of their time and money to the poor, the sick, and the disadvantaged if they really hated them as much as liberals say we do?
Most of the rich people I know used to be a lot poorer than most of the people I know calling them names. Now that I think about it, most people I know calling them names have never been poor a day in their life – not really poor, not like the poverty I have seen.
The average American worker earns 29 times as much as the average worker in the world’s bottom quintile – that is a lot bigger guilt-gap than between our worker and his CEO. What does that prove – that the American workers are even more greedy and selfish than the dreaded CEO? No, it proves we are very productive top to bottom in the working class, and yes, business owners work their tails off.
Rich is the new gay, so go ahead and hate if you must. But remember this: gay people can’t make you gay, but rich people can make you rich. That is, if you quit screaming at them long enough to ask them how they did it. That is how most of us trans-wealthered people started our rise on the updraft.; we shut up and listened.
I bet you Romney’s $10,000 that any one of them would be glad to tell you if you asked nicely. Try it.
“Moment Of Clarity” is a weekly commentary by Libertarian writer and speaker Tim Nerenz, Ph.D. Visit Tim’s website www.timnerenz.com
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