In Defense of Rich People
We need to cut rich people some slack. It seems like lately they have been demonized for things that are realistically not their fault. I get that many Americans are frustrated, especially now, but taking it out on rich people seems petty, bitter and jealous, and that’s just not the American way.
Personally, I know some super uber duper rich people. Several of them are jerks, but most are some of the greatest people I have ever known.
Two jerks in particular come to mind — one is now a millionaire several times over whom I went to college with, and the other is now a billionaire I worked with at the very beginning of my career. I knew them both when they were eating beanie weenies out of a can and guess what!?! They were total jerks back then too (although, to be fair, slimy, cold beanie weenies don’t bring out the best in people).
I also know a lot of people who are not super uber duper rich and guess what!?! Several of them are jerks, but most are some of the greatest people I have ever known.
It’s not difficult to see why super uber duper rich people are sometimes villainized in today’s America. For one thing — although it’s an entirely unfair thought — it’s easy to believe it impossible to make that much money without some sort of moral deficiency or shady behavior.
Plus, it’s not easy to reconcile social justice and capitalism. On one hand, you have the promise of the American Dream, where every American has the opportunity to achieve success and prosperity, regardless of their originating circumstances. On the other hand, you have statistics that reveal a shocking level of income inequality in the United States.
It can also be maddening when money seems to make life so much easier, at least in the short-term, for people who do bad things (à la Jeffrey Epstein) or super entitled things (college admissions bribery scandal).
I have seen people born in the most devastating conditions imaginable work four jobs just to pay the bare minimum of their bills. I have also seen plenty of people raised with a ton of money and opportunity who have crashed and burned.
However — from my experience and with minor exceptions — this last group seems to miraculously rebound virtually unscathed from their mistakes and bad decisions. Redemption seems to come much easier when you can afford rehab and qualified attorneys. It’s funny how prosperity can hide a multitude of sins.
But these are separate issues that seem to get unfairly wound up in one another. The truth is that most rich Americans not only greatly enhance our society and democracy, but they are also incredible public relations ambassadors for the United States on a global scale. As a nation, they make us all look really, really good.