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Works and Days

The Confessions of a Confused Misfit

December 4th, 2012 - 12:01 am

The Rich

I confess I never admired John Edwards — and used to argue with the late Christopher Hitchens about the blow-dried lawyer’s suitability for president. I didn’t think much of Al Gore or John Kerry, well before the “he lied!” vein-bulging fits and the wind-surfing spoofs. I was not surprised when Susan Rice just disclosed that she is worth considerably over $30 million — and has money in Keystone no less. Are they all part of the “one percent”? Did they pay “their fair share”? Do they “spread the wealth”? At what point in his life did Al Gore know that he had made enough money (before barreling ahead and making more)?

Why do a Timmy Geithner and John Kerry preach about raising taxes while trying their best to break the law to avoid them? I remember the Clintons seeking write-offs for the donation of their underwear, Tom Daschle not counting limo service as income, and Hilda Solis with a lien on her husband’s property. Why wouldn’t the above pay too much rather than too little? If Barack Obama did not get free government everything, and made several millions on his serial memoirs, with his mansion, prep schools, and Martha’s Vineyard vacations to pay for, would he still preach that guys like him need their taxes raised?

Of course, I accept without much worry that government service can lead to the contacts that lead to big money. Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld made millions in the private sector in between D.C. jobs. I grant too that old-boy networking is lucrative. George W. Bush’s Texas Rangers small fortune came from having powerful friends in the right places. No doubt Colin Powell and Bill Clinton are multimillionaires. Bravo to them both.

But what we cannot stomach is all the sermonizing about “fair share” and “play by the rules” and “the one percent” from those who seek to be exempt from their own rhetoric. Can’t Warren Buffett keep quiet and just leave his $50 billion to his heirs — and let the wonderful federal government do what it must with a $30 billion estate tax on his earnings? Can Bill Gates’ people really manage the Buffett $50 billion better than HUD or HHS? And if so, why a HUD or HHS? His estate will dodge more tax liabilities than what millions of his proverbial overtaxed secretaries pay. Why isn’t George Soros one of the despised money speculators of the sort that Occupy Wall Street was enraged about? Isn’t trying to break the Bank of England a bit too much money-grubbing? So weird what constitutes good and bad riches!

I guess the rub is not big or small money, or what you must do to get it and keep it. No, the lesson instead is what you say when you get it. If I were to advise a young rich man, I would promote entering politics or the media and talking up the liberal redistributionist state, the model being a sort of Chris Matthews, Katie Couric, Nancy Pelosi, Jon Corzine, or Jay Rockefeller. You may meet and marry a rich person, while all sorts of doors will open that allow you to keep and compound what you garner — and you will feel wonderful in the bargain.

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