Worrying and Elitism 2

Our elites don't suffer the consequences of their failures.

The first article in this series explained the fundamental reason why the rich and our elites are different from you and me - it's not just that they have more money.  It's that they simply don't share the worries of normal people - loss of job, loss of income, loss of home.  Even those elites who are not actually rich are sufficiently well-connected to be able to slide into a cushy consulting or bureaucracy job without delay and keep a comfortable middle-class-style way of life, often at public expense.

America is the richest society the world has ever known.  "Poor" Americans live better material lives than many of history's rich.  At the time, though, the rich didn't know what they were missing; they only knew that they had it better than the serfs and enjoyed their wealth and power to the max.

Aristocrats in Every Age

What's more, much like our modern-day elites and rulers, historical bigshots did not have to worry about sudden poverty striking.  The lord of the manor would be the last one starving in case of famine.

What could knock the lord out of the castle?  Not an economic failure of the sort that ruins ordinary middle-class or working folks.  Only a political hazard could destroy a nobleman - being conquered by an enemy, say, or royally pissing off the king and getting whacked.

It's natural for wealthy elites, who don't have to worry about their next paycheck, to concern themselves with politics - that's where their only risk or threat lies!

Is that not exactly what we see today?  The children of the wealthy often don't go into the business that created the wealth; instead, they concentrate on politics or the law in some form so that they can protect what they have or extract more from the public treasury.

There are other elite pursuits to worry about than politics: some people are inclined towards the increase of knowledge.  In centuries past, the only people able to be scholars were the children of wealthy families who could fund the long years of education.

More recently, the halls of academe have been open to anyone with an adequate brain, but the philosophy of wanting scholars not to have normal life worries remains.  Consider the concept of tenure: in major research universities, once a professor has been awarded tenure for whatever reason, he cannot be fired short of committing a major crime.  Full professors are usually pretty well paid too.

A professor at Harvard, or even at the University of Mississippi, does not worry about the day-to-day cares of life.  His salary is adequate and won't stop short of a bolt from the blue.  His retirement, too, is amply provided for.  He can concentrate wholeheartedly on his scholarly pursuits - or, these days, on petty bureaucratic infighting - because he has nothing else to worry about.

A New American Order?

The government of the British Empire that our Founders knew worked on the same model.  In the days of King George, cabinet ministers were primarily rich noblemen who not only didn't worry about providing for their families, they would barely understand the concept.  After all, they were of blue blood, aristocrats by right of birth!  They would never sully themselves with something so pedestrian as money worries; their proper concerns were the highest affairs of state.

Members of the House of Commons in Parliament were, by definition, not aristocrats, but in the main they too were financially secure - of merchant families or landed gentry.  The rabble wasn't represented; they didn't even have a vote.

Our Founders didn't intend penniless bums to have the vote either, but they opposed the idea that only the independently wealthy could serve in politics.  There's a reason that the Constitution explicitly calls for salaries for Congressmen, judges, and so on - lack of wealth should not be a bar to public service by anyone whom the people choose.

America's Congress has always had wealthy members, but it once had a pretty decent cross-section of American society.  Congressman Davy Crockett, for example, was an excellent exemplar of his state of Tennessee, but he would have had a hard time without his congressional salary.

Are there any congressmen today for whom their salary really matters?  A handful, yes; but 57 members of today's Congress are numbered among the wealthiest 1%, with the median net worth being around $1 million.

We might feel bad for the poorest one, Congressman Alcee Hastings (D, FL) with a net worth of almost a negative $5 million, if we didn't know his history of bribery and impeachment.  Not only is he corrupt, he's so incompetent that he lost money being corrupt.

Outliers aside, on average our modern Congress does not share the common money and security worries of normal Americans.  Mostly, government employees don't either.  Although we're finally seeing layoffs, pay freezes, and benefit cutbacks, the average Federal employee still makes twice the average private-sector worker, and also is more likely to die at work than to get pink-slipped.

Caring vs. Knowing

No wonder our government seems not terribly concerned about the awful job situation!  Sure, our rulers care, in the same way that we all feel bad when we see starving Somalis on our TV screen.  Maybe we send up a prayer, or the more sensitive among us mail in $10.  Then we go about our lives, because what's going on there doesn't actually affect us or anyone we personally care about in the slightest.

Unfortunately, and contrary to the vision of our Founders, we've created a situation where the elites that control our lives live totally different lives, with totally different cares and concerns, under totally different influences, from the rest of America.  Sarah Palin used to talk about the "real America" that Washington beltway types want no part of.

Well, would you?  If you could get a well-paying job where you'd never be fired, or where your connections were so good you could always just move chairs to another cushy spot no matter what happens, wouldn't you do it?  Sure you would, and so would I, or most anyone else.

What price do we pay for being ruled by people who don't share in the suffering down on the ground?  The England of our Founders' day cared little for the ordinary Englishman, and even less for the ordinary Scot or Irishman; our elites care about us to the same extent.

Oh, our elites have their worries; some of them are even valid.  There are honorable trust-fund kids who concern themselves with maintaining American power and prestige, as once was the WASP tradition in the Department of State.

In the main, though, our elites worry about how to keep control of the rest of us.  They yearn to make us do the Right Thing that they, in their all-encompassing wisdom, know is best for us.  We're just too stupid to shut up and take our medicine.

Carving vs. Competence

Our elites not only show no signs of care, they show no competence either.  As the last few years have proved, our uncaring elites are also fundamentally and totally wrong.

Wrong in thinking that government spending can boost the economy.

Wrong in supposing that government can pick winners and losers.

Wrong in believing that making nice to our enemies will make them like us.

Wrong in believing that poverty causes crime, and that government spending can fix them both.

They keep on enforcing their wrong beliefs, destroying our society, culture, economy, and country - secure in the knowledge that they're insulated from the awful results of their goofball ideas.

Being a liberal means never having to say you're sorry.  Being an elite means never having to suffer the consequences for your mistakes.  You never even think of saying you're sorry, because you're not - you're right by definition, and if things don't work out, well, it's just because of those stupid peasants not doing as they were told.

Being American, in utter and complete contrast, means holding people responsible for what they've done and making sure there's a price for failure.  Which view will win out?

Our elites have been worrying about the wrong things, and clearly, not worrying about us at all.  It's time to focus their minds and give them something real to worry about: the loss of their comfy taxpayer-funded posts, the destruction of the revolving door between crony capitalism and political office, and most of all, the respect and deference that they feel is their natural right but which they so manifestly don't deserve.  Throw the rascals out!

Petrarch is a contributing editor for Scragged.  Read other Scragged.com articles by Petrarch or other articles on Society.
Reader Comments

Petrarch's article on the elite is well taken. The problem is not identifying the problem but having a solution to rectify it. The elite's power comes from their ability to pass laws and tax the peasants into oblivion either through tax brackets or inflation or both. The things that they have done are too numerous to list so let's just get to the solutions. There are two, one reasonable and the other off the wall but extremely effective. Voting the bums out is the reasonable solution but so far Americans think that their rock star is ok but the rest are the problem. Since I hold little hope for that happening, throwing them out, then I have to move to door number two, the Off The Wall solution. The OTW simply has the producers of America stay home. That's right, go on strike. It would not be hard to come up with an OTW Contract with America. Since the producers are the ones paying the taxes congress would have to listen. There would be no negotiations where the rock stars could dilute the bill, it would be all or none. Some will say that this is anarchy but I say better the anarchists be us than them. Radical? Yes. Practical? Yes. Common sense? Yes.

November 21, 2011 3:40 PM

Hmm, I seem to recall a novel written about just this idea a few decades back...

November 22, 2011 12:12 PM

The problem that the "Elites" are no longer Entrepreneurs but the product of several generations of wealth. They grow up cosseted in luxury and surrounded by opportunity that only they have access to and yet they don't acknowledge that and as a result they develop a mentality of entitlement.

They have never had to build from the ground up yet they feel entitled to be protected from the downside and so they manipulate the law to ensure that the upside for there risk taking are maximized (through deregulation) and when the bubble bursts that someone is there to bail them out. The end result over generations is a dumbing down and a dilution of the leadership gene pool replaced with groups committed to self interest preserving the status quo at the expense of the bulk of society.

A message to the Elite is "Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country your privileged existence is reliant on the toil of the masses you are pushing too them far it's time you stopped taking them for granted"

December 2, 2011 1:29 PM
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