The headline is a quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald, that famous author of the classic American tale of debauchery and excess, The Great Gatsby. In light of the recent comments made by wealthy individuals like Thomas Perkins, lamenting the “soak the rich” sentiment being peppered into the daily discussion of the zeitgeist; I felt like showing how different these people really are to you and me.
Here is what Gar Alpervotiz writing in his 2005 book, America beyond Capitalism had to say about our friends in the 1 percent.
The super-elite-the people Krugman, Kevin Phillips and others have termed the new “plutocracy”-increasingly live in a very, very different world from most Americans and in a radically different culture. It is a world where homes cost $5 to $10 million and where $5,000 grills, $14,000 Hermes Kelly handbags, $17,500 Patek Philippe wristwatches, and $100,000 luxury automobiles are commonplace.
Now despite what people may think, not all of this wealth was attained by self-made people. But even for those who lived the Horatio Alger story, the fact still remains that when you are at the level of the 1 percent you see things differently than rest of us. They use their power to better their class, or at the least protect it, at the expense of other classes. Furthermore, for some to argue that they should be celebrated is disingenuous especially when economic mobility has collapsed like the pocket around Peyton Manning in Superbowl 48. There are many of us who will never be that wealthy. What we want is to simply live and that is getting harder everyday because those that are rich have become greedy.
There is also something else that we should realize about our elite and that is that they are still human. The rich are not gods to be worshiped. They are no better than you or I.
Gar Alperovitz writing in his book again says:
The world of the new plutocracy is also a world of routine white-collar corruption. The former Enron CFO Andrew Fastow as of this writing faces a 109-count indictment for alleged manipulation that prosecutors believe garnered Fastow $30 million and an additional $12 million for his associate Michael Klopper (who pleaded guilty to federal charges). Global Crossing‘s chairman, Gary Winnick, it appears, may have made off with more than half a billion dollars as his company was moving toward bankruptcy and its own federal investigation. WorldCom, another telecommunications giant facing bankruptcy and criminal investigations, paid out hundreds of millions in bonuses and loans to those at the top during its last years.
This was before the financial collapse of 2008 happened. This was was also during a time when the likes of Goldman Sachs was also paying out tons of money in bonuses too. And even after all of this has happened over the last decade, we’re supposed treat these people nicely? We’re supposed to look at them as job creators and not job destroyers? When I was a bank teller back in 2001, I remember an employee from WorldCom came into my branch devastated. She was depositing what was probably her final paycheck. She’d been with the company for a long time and now felt despondent. I don’t know if she was ever able to rebuild her career afterwards. Decisions made at the stratified top have consequences to real people. Thanks 1 percent.