Guest Post: Hating The Rich
Submitted by James E. Miller of the Ludwig von Mises Institute of Canada,
In the midst of the extramarital affair scandal involving former CIA director David Petraeus, the mansion which mistress-turned-media target Paula Broadwell is hiding out in was revealed by the Daily Mail. This $2.3 mansion contains seven bedrooms and five bathrooms and is owned by Broadwell’s brother. Some are pointing to the mammoth home as yet another symbol of the vast inequality that pervades the West. It is said that to see the house is to have a glimpse at how the “other side” lives- the other side being subtly hinted to as that of the undeserving bourgeoisie.
In many respects, much of this loathing is well deserved for Ms. Broadwell and her brother Stephen Kranz. A former trial lawyer for the U.S. Department of Justice, Tax Division and Chief Counsel for the District of Columbia’s Office of Tax and Revenue, Kranz is currently a partner at the D.C. law firm Sutherland. Much of his career has focused on the tax code. It appears that he once used the code as a weapon to shakedown other Americans in the service of Uncle Sam. Today, he advocates for taxpayers but the fact remains that he owes his standard of living to the formalized thieving racket the state labels taxation.
So to some degree, a bit of detestation is warranted at Kranz. But consider former presidential candidate Mitt Romney. During the beauty pageant (otherwise called campaign) to become president, the former Governor’s immense wealth was used a basis for attack. He was regularly mocked for the various homes he owned and his net worth of around $250 million. He was criticized for being out of touch with how the majority of the country lived and felt. In other words, he wasn’t a real man of the people.
To that, this writer can only say good riddance. The so-called “people” have been indoctrinated to see wealth as something to take by government force. Romney is by no means a good man- good men rarely make a run for public office. He fell into a great deal of income through second-hand government contracts and political connections. But his intimacy with the state is not why he faced an onslaught of censure. It was simply because he had something few else do - riches.
And because his house was bigger than most, his car collection larger than others, and his tastes more refined, he was hated by the media establishment. Even Romney’s de facto supporters who constituted the “conservative press” were careful to not draw attention to Romney’s wealth. Such would not inspire the hard laborer to rush to the polls in a fevered passion. President Obama ran a campaign based on handing out tickets for an auction of stolen goods. The incumbent’s success on Election Day came as no surprise to anyone familiar with mankind’s universal mannerism of desiring something in the now rather than later.
Western culture is presently defined by many things; one of which being an instilled sense of extreme jaundice toward wealth. No doubt Karl Marx would beam with pleasure in seeing how the contemporary bourgeoisie is regarded with hateful suspicion. His plan of crippling class warfare is slowly taking hold. This isn’t for the reasons Marx envisioned however. In his incredibly flawed understanding, the bourgeoisie would suck the very living out of the proletariat by keeping their hands clenched around society’s capital.
Instead, the accumulation of capital has financed the advent of modern technology. Man now lives longer, consumes more calories, is more mobile, and has ready access to a centuries worth of information. But rather than aid in the masses’ search for truth, the rise in convenience has made the species soft. The ignorant now cling to juvenile appeals of nationalism and the prospect of having government officials redistribute wealth in the name of justice.
Before the twentieth century and the ascendance of the all-intrusive state, sumptuous living was typically seen as something to aspire to. It aroused jealously which fueled a lust for reaching such heights of luxury; not to pick away at success. With its various schemes of theft, the state has institutionalized that which would be considered a crime if done by private hands. It has attracted those who not only relish in stealing by legal decree but also the voters who have a fetish for knocking those more successful down a peg. In short, it has turned envy into a laudable trait which can in turn be used to mask some political scheme.
A great deal of this can be attributed to the government granting of privilege to the well-connected. As long as the state exists, there will be a class of people who use political means to acquire vast swaths of riches. Their opulence feeds the feelings of animus the average man has towards the moneyed. It is through democracy that this hate is put into concrete action. As Albert Jay Nock writes,
Above all things the mass-mind is most bitterly resentful of superiority. It will not tolerate the thoughts of an elite; and under a political system of universal suffrage, the mass-mind is enabled to make it antipathies prevail by the sheer force of numbers.
Democracy isn’t just mob rule; it is a social system which the most craven tendencies of man are appealed to for political success. Instead of standing true for a justice that is based on a set of moral principles, the elected official will sink to whatever cesspool of indecency is necessary to garner just a few more votes. Democracy may start off as a means for self-determination but it quickly devolves into a race to the bottom fueled by endless promises to fill the public trough for the swine to feed at.
The bourgeoisie values of prudence and temperance are no longer respected in the Western world. They are seen as anachronistic and not in tune with the needs of society. This is a self-defeating attitude that will only lead to further impoverishment. For as long as success is punished and high time preferences are rewarded, the capacity for productive efforts deteriorates.
Coercive egalitarianism based on ill feelings of Schadenfreud is a cancer. There is no conceivable benefit in everyone being equal. There is only one moral social system and that is free, unadulterated capitalism which gives everyone the chance to improve their own standing. Anything less represents the triumph of the idiotic masses over good sense.