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5 Signs America’s Super-Rich Are Going Off the Deep End

Inequality seems to have made the wealthy very upset...for themselves.

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Is it us, or have America’s ultrawealthy been sounding increasingly unhinged lately? Despite the fact that the wealth of the 1 percent jumped 31 percent from 2009 to 2012 while the other 99 percent of America saw a gain of only 0.4 percent, the rich are very upset, and they need to tell us about it. Maybe it’s all the talk about income inequality that’s gotten them so stirred up. Whatever it is, here are five signs that the zillionaires seem to be losing it.

1. The rich are mouthing off in epic rants.

They’re going on talk shows, writing editorials, bitching and moaning, and taking every opportunity to tell us just how fed up they are.

Wealthy Upper East Siders in New York are screaming that progressive Mayor de Blasio is punishing them by not plowing their streets of snow. Billionaire Home Depot founder Ken Langone warned Pope Francis that if he doesn’t shut it about income inequality, the charitable contribution spigot will be turned off. Nutcase venture capitalist Thomas Perkins just claimed that there is a war on the rich comparable to the Holocaust and that the wealthy deserve more votes. Bill O’Reilly warned, "Every affluent person in America is in danger. Every one." He asks you to pray for them.

During the Occupy protests, there was a surge of wailing from the 1 percent about perceived demonization and vilification, and it seems to have risen once again. It’s gotten so bad that Jason Furman, head of the President's Council of Economic Advisers (and quite rich himself) has told his fellow 1 percenters to knock off the “hyperventilating.”

2. The Ivy League apologists are out ‘splainin’ in full force.

Harvard’s Greg Mankiw is America’s most shameless defender of the 1 percent (just in case you didn’t know that about him, he wrote a paper titled, “ Defending the One Percent”). You can rely upon the chairman and professor of economics at Harvard and former Mitt Romney advisor to pontificate about why the megarich are smarter and more creative than you and not deserving of your ire. Mankiw just published an op-ed in the New York Times describing the risks our brave gazillionaire “superheroes” take to promote the public good.

Noting that actor Robert Downey Jr. recently got a movie paycheck of $50 million, Mankiw enjoys a little taunting: “Does that fact make you mad?...Does it make you want to take to the streets in protest?” He then condescends to observe that of course we don’t get mad at Robert Downey Jr. because our pea brains can comprehend how he made his money. It’s when our limited mental faculties can’t digest the wondrous activities of CEOs and financiers that we become sour.  

Largely oblivious to the fact that a significant portion of America’s wealthy have arranged things so they can get away with cheating, bullying and creating nasty financial products that drain the pockets of their fellow citizens, Mankiw assures us that CEOs deserve their sky-high paychecks because the “value of making the right decisions is tremendous” (like Jamie Dimon overseeing a bank that has enjoyed an historic "crime spree?”) and because of all the taxes they pay (like Apple’s famous “ Double Irish with a Dutch sandwich” tax evasion scheme?).

He goes on to ‘splain that financiers are among America’s “most talented and thus highly compensated individuals.” (Talented, perhaps, at redistributing money upward?)

3. A new field of psychology is emerging to treat the uberwealthy.

Being loaded is a load to bear, evidently. A recent article in Mother Jones outlines new trends in psychotherapy emerging to deal with this overwhelming burden.