Forbes 400 List Reveals Why the Greedy Rich Fully Deserve Your Contempt -- And Jesus’s
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Most of the folks on the list got great breaks in life. And yet in a recent survey conducted by Salon, only 2 percent of people in this Happy Billionaires Club said they would be willing to pay more in taxes (Warren Buffet, Todd Wagner, James Simons, Leon Cooperman, Mark Cuban, John Arnold, Herbert Simon, and George Soros). Which is proof that not all of the rich are unpatriotic and rapacious. But they are lonely voices in a storm of greed.
Charles Koch, CEO of Koch Industries and funder of conservative causes, summed up his opposition to the idea of forgoing special tax breaks: “I believe my business and non-profit investments are much more beneficial to societal well-being than sending more money to Washington.”
Ordinary Americans are plainly getting screwed, and the vision of America as a land of opportunity is increasingly becoming dimmed. And yet a recent article in Fortune magazine, “ Stop Beating Up the Rich,” shamelessly calls for an end to what author Nina Easton describes as “diatribes against the 1%.”
“America stands out among Western nations for its grudging, and often fawning, admiration for the wealthy classes it produces,” explains Easton. (It’s hard to argue with that. Score one point for Easton). She continues: “With the road to riches seemingly wide open, Americans favor aspiration over resentment, envy over animus.”
The key word here is “seemingly.” It seems like anybody can make it, because the press makes much of those Horatio Alger rags-to-riches stories. Unfortunately, as economist Joseph Stiglitz frequently points out, those stories make the news for a simple reason: they are rare. And becoming rarer all the time. By Easton’s own admission, “today American upward mobility (especially for men) lags behind Canada's and some European nations.”
Easton goes on to complain that the Occupy movement, the most recent incarnation in America’s traditional disdain for cheating, hording fatcats, is wrong in its 99% v. 1% frame. ”Sadly, it is a confusing and flawed prism,” sniffs Easton, “marred by hyperbole, half-truths, and unnecessary pessimism about what it means to succeed in America.” She goes on to whine that “if Americans really understood who the 1% are, they would be more likely to stop the name-calling and shift the debate to the dire task at hand -- getting millions back to work.”
All righty then. While we’re trying to get back to work, we’ll try to forget that Wall Street’s reckless casino games crashed the economy in 2008, destroying millions of jobs. And we’ll see if we can ignore the fact that corporate-friendly policies pushed by the greedy rich have made decent wages and job security a thing of the past for many. And we’ll pretend that all the people at the top of the pyramid are ordinary folks who had the same chances as everybody else and made it through hard work and grit. And we’ll make an effort to discount the fact that it is the super-rich who should be thanking us, for our job creation, and our tax dollars that build their roads, educate their workforce, provide the research needed to make their products – and, oh wait! -- lots of them don’t make or do anything, they just bleed money out of the real economy and deplete the government of revenue with their special tax breaks!
While we’re at it, we’ll see if we can forget the famous teaching of Jesus, uttered after a rich young man came to ask how he could be saved. Very simple, said Jesus. You just sell your worldly possessions and become a follower of my teachings. But the young man was overly fond of his worldly possessions, and turned away. To which Jesus said: