Some extremely wealthy Americans, a small proportion of the total we can hope, are obviously feeling threatened by the increasing public awareness that the government and business establishment is stacked against the average human being pursuing the American Dream. Sheldon Adelson, for all I know, is an honorable and decent hard-working entrepreneur who loves his family and is generous to his employees. But there is something discomforting and, dare I say it, UnAmerican, about one rich man being in a position to possibly buy the presidency by being the sole funder of Newt Gingrich's campaign Super Pac--the man who had more than Newt to do with his big South Carolina victory.
Even Republicans are decrying the Citizens United decision that allowed for the Super Pacs of today, perhaps the ultimate bombardment in whatever class warfare is happening. Not only are billionaires under fire, but the growing wealth disparity in the U.S. has led to their having a much larger and visible say in our affairs. Even the normally unassuming Warren Buffet is now the main poster boy for a fairer tax policy--at least the Democratic version. Did we really need to wait for Buffet to point out to us how unfair the system is?
There is nothing more essential to the American spirit than its entrepreneurial "can do" nature. The main theme of my Moneylove philosophy over the past thirty years has been that every one of us can be a lot richer than we think, that this is a land of unlimited possibility and unfettered human endeavor. But limits and fetters have increased. The definition of "fetter" is a chain or shackle for the feet, and our economy is sort of stumbling along as if its feet were chained and cuffed. Some politicians and business leaders claim we are being fettered by oppressive regulations, like the ones designed to protect the environment. "Let us loose of these chains," they proclaim, "and we will create more jobs and be more responsible citizens without government intervention for the first time in our long history." The problem is, most of us don't trust them to keep their word, as we likewise don't trust government.
Mitt Romney, who could become the next president, though I'd be willing to bet against him, says it's all about envy. The Americans audacious enough to want to tax the rich at a slightly higher rate, still way below the level under Ronald Reagan, begrudge Romney his 250 million dollars, multiple mansions, private jets, and opulent lifestyle, according to his view of things. I don't believe that's true. I think most of us still admire innovators and dreamers who become very rich as aspirational role models. This is certainly true of the late Steve Jobs. But the difference between Jobs and Romney is that Jobs was driven by his passion to change the world by giving us devices that would change our lives. The money was really insignificant for him, and so it came as a surprise to most of us that he was indeed a billionaire. For Romney, however, that's his whole point, his business and financial success. He moved lots of money around at Bain and made many pretty rich people very much richer, including himself. We would be hard-pressed to name one thing he did to improve the human experience, except perhaps Romneycare in Massachusetts, which is he hiding from.
You're probably familiar with the term "empty suit" to describe someone inflated with self importance but who really hasn't had much impact on the world or affected other people in any vital or profound way. This describes most of the very rich who are shouting "Class Warfare!" They are very expensive empty suits. Romney is trying to become an occupied suit by winning the highest office in the world. And he somehow thinks his path will be made easier by accusing everyone else of envying him his wealth. I actually think he is a more worthwhile human being than his campaign slogans and appearances and debates would have us believe--but we also have to judge people by what they tell us is most important to them.
I pick on Romney because he is as good a representative as any of what is wrong with our capitalistic society in this still new 21st Century. The Robber Barons are back, but this time they are not even creating the steel mills and railroads and telegraph systems and ships and automobiles that made America stronger and better for everyone. The legacy of too many of today's billionaires will be failed political candidacies they supported, rather than the lasting impact of those who really made a difference in the past, who left noble thumbprints on the world. Andrew Carnegie with his gifts of hundreds of libraries that changed millions of lives, John D. Rockefeller and Henry Ford, who despite some despicable early behavior, redeemed themselves with their foundations, and have a lasting impact. The hit TV show, 30 Rock, wouldn't be possible without the iconic 30 Rockefeller Plaza in Rockefeller Center, home of NBC. I worked there for a year and remember how nice it felt to be going to work every day at NBC Radio in the imposing 1930s Art Deco building.
When teachers pay a higher tax rate than billionaires, something is wrong. When the voices of the lower economic classes are being heard, something is right. I don't envy Donald Trump, Sheldon Adelson, and Mitt Romney their almost unlimited millions. There is nothing I want to model from their roles in society, there is nothing positive I have gotten from any of them, and there is nothing I think will change for the better in voting for them or the candidates they endorse. Now, if Steve Jobs were alive and running.....
I also have another blog, focused on prosperity consciousness, but certainly not only about the money. Check it out at: http://MoneyloveBlog.com, and also check out the information about The Moneylove Club by clicking on the link at the top of that home page.