Alex Blaze

Rich people are just plain better than you

Filed By Alex Blaze | March 10, 2009 11:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Ayn Rand, Christian beliefs, free market, fundamentalism, john galt, karl marx, LGBT, religious right, Republicans

This is why I can't go on vacation: after taking the latter half of last week off of Bilerico, the right decided to go Galt and deprive the world of their incredible talents.

top_rates.jpgIt's simply too much. I often wonder about the coalition between the Religious Right and the free-market fundamentalists and how exactly that works, what with one group focusing on harsh and clear moral dictates and the other being based on the idea that no value exists other than money.

Then I remember that the latter group thinks that money actually signifies morality. That is, people who have more money are better human beings - physically, intellectually, and morally - than us peasants. And the world would suffer if they didn't exist.

While this doesn't sound all that Christian to me (considering how Jesus had a few choice words about rich people not getting into heaven), there is something about pretending to be better than other people that sounds pretty Religious Right-style Christian to me. Here's how the National Review, one of the most-widely read conservative publications in the US, articulated Randian pseudo-philosophy in response to Obama's call to raise the highest marginal tax rate to what it was in the 90's (the graph above puts his proposal into historical perspective):

The doctors, lawyers, engineers, executives, serious small-business owners, top salespeople, and other professionals and entrepreneurs who make this country run work considerably harder than pretty much anyone else (including most of the chattering class, and all politicians). They are not robber barons, or trust-fund babies, or plutocrats, or even celebrities. They are mostly the meritocrats who worked hard in high school and got into the better colleges and grad schools, where they studied while others partied. They pushed through grueling hours and unpleasant "up or out" policies in their twenties and thirties at top law firms, banks, hospitals, and businesses to earn salaries in the solid six figures (or low seven) today -- in their peak earning years. Their work ethic is prodigious, and, as Tigerhawk points out, in their spare time they sit on the boards of most of the complex charities and arts institutions that provide aid and pay for culture in America. No group of people contribute more to their community. And now the president, who followed a path sort of like that, and who claims that his wife's former six-figure income was a result of precisely such qualifications and efforts, is demonizing them. More problematically, he is penalizing their success and giving them very clear incentives to ratchet back on productivity.

So, what happens when the heart surgeons, dentists, litigators, and people who employ 10 or 20 other people in their mid-size businesses decide that they don't want to pay for the excessive, pointless spending that the president finds so compelling? Instapundit speculates on people "going John Galt." I think golf -- a time-intensive sport that the hard-working have eschewed for the past decade or two because it took too long -- will make a comeback. But while we're watching, "working affluent" is a far more useful and less loaded moniker than "the rich," which has overtones of dilettantes, poodles, and yachts.

Yes, because one thing that rich, oh, excuse me, working affluent people haven't been doing enough is taking time off. Obviously, what with all their in-depth investigations into folks like Bernie Madoff, they need a vacation.

Tristero explains the "John Galt" reference, for those Marxists among you who don't know the glory that is Ayn Rand:

John Galt is the copper-haired, white-boy protagonist in Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. Galt leads a revolutionary movement in which all the top leaders of the banks and corporations forsake their corporate jets and perks to work in diners or as subway repair guys. No they weren't fired by Galt. Rather, Galt urged them to go on strike and withdraw their expertise from an increasingly socialist world. Deprived of the genius of their genius, the world economy collapses

Of course, Rand wasn't referring to dentists and lawyers when she wrote about the most important people in the world going on strike. She was talking about the owners of the country - folks who own large businesses or buy and sell the means of production for a living. In other words, the people who brought on this depression through their own irresponsibility.

What does this have to do with LGBTQ issues? While not every post on this site has to be directly and specifically about L, G, B, or T people, there's something eerily similar between people who think that being rich makes them more moral, even if they inherited that wealth, and people who think that being heterosexual or cis makes them just plain better.

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DanaRSullivan | March 10, 2009 12:25 PM

Got to love a statement that the U.S. is a meritocracy, considering our rates of upward social mobility are by far the lowest in the developed world.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | March 11, 2009 1:56 AM

Please source and graph the top fifteen economies by GDP in the world and the relative rates of upward mobility in each. :)

I agree with Freud that man is self destructive to himself and the world. It's about greed and dominating others. Religion doesn't seem to help but makes the problem worse. Everyone thinks money is the way to achieve their goal. Especially non profits. It's isn't.

Wait. Rich people aren't better than me? Damn. I gotta rethink all my strategies of being subservient now! *grins*

I think that you should define rich. I really don't feel rich but have been told I was in a different class by people who's parents make way more than me. Religion and how you live your life are two different subjects. You can live life in what society calls poor and still be a religious right and cause a lot of problems. You can have a yearly salary of 7+ digits and be very supportive of groups like the GLBT. This whole article just hit me wrong as I was accused of being against the GLBT as I was in a different class than some of the college students whos family make way more than I.

Paige Listerud | March 11, 2009 2:00 PM

How does that mix of fundies and freemarketeers work?

You get a weird evangelical theology that says God wants you to be wealthy. Frankly, I think that is the reason for the big draw at mega (megalomaniac) churches.

Talk about something Jesus never said in the gospels!