Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Who hates "the 1%"? The 98th percentile.

Last night when Obama made his snippy little comment that he didn't look at his pension because it wasn't as big as Romneys. It reminded of all the envious, grasping, wanna-be's who are so consumed with the wealth of others but deny that they are. I wrote on Facebook, about Obama, "what a small man."

James Taranto hits the same point:

The Washington Times reports on a telling scene from just outside last night's debate:

[Mitt] Romney was trying to make the point that both his and [Barack] Obama's investment funds probably include investments in China--something the president has attacked Mr. Romney for.

"Mr. President, have you looked at your pension?" Mr. Romney said.
"You know, I don't look at my pension. It's not as big as yours, so it--it doesn't take as long," Mr. Obama retorted. His reply prompted laughter in the debate hall where the two men were squaring off--but across the way in the separate room where the press was stationed, a brief round of applause broke out.

It's a good idea for journalists to avoid applauding politicians, for we are supposed to be independent and, in the case of straight-news reporters, impartial. But what was it about this particular Obama rejoinder (in what was a rather entertaining exchange) that inspired such enthusiasm among the presumably left-leaning scribes?

The answer, it seems to us, says a lot about the politics of "class" in America. You hear a lot about "income inequality," but most people don't particularly care. Last year's effort to begin a mass movement around the question was a whimpering failure, yet it got hyped to the sky at first because it played into powerful class resentments--on the part not of poor or low-income working people but of academics and journalists, which is to say intellectuals.

Now, academics and journalists are not exactly downtrodden. Although life as an adjunct or a freelancer can be a challenge, a professor with tenure or a journalist at a major media outlet makes a good enough living to make him affluent. Affluent people with elitist pretensions often have a strong distaste for the wealthy, especially those, like Romney, who earned their riches by being successful in business. If you want to find bitterness against "the 1%," don't look at "the 99%." Instead, focus in on the 98th percentile.

`"It's common for eggheads to nurture ressentiment against fat cats," as we observed in July. "Intellectuals are apt to hold a self-serving belief in cognitive meritocracy, in the idea that the brightest are also the best. They envy the rich because wealth is a concrete measure of status that is out of proportion to what the intellectual believes to be true merit. If they're so rich, how come they're not smart?"

(Some academics will feel we are disrespecting their status by lumping them in with journalists. They are invited to write a letter to the editor.)

Barack Obama is no scholar, but he has the quintessential egghead's arrogance. That came across most clearly in this passage from the infamous "You didn't build that" speech:

Look, if you've been successful, you didn't get there on your own. You didn't get there on your own. I'm always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there.

Some of those smart people are right there in the press room. Where's their fair share of Mitt Romney's millions?

2 comments:

Craig Bernthal said...

Envy is the quintessential academic / intellectual sin. I've been swimming in that sea for 30 years and at times have probably drunk some of the water. Taranto is right.

Craig Bernthal said...

Envy is the quintessential academic / intellectual sin. I've been swimming in that sea for 30 years and at times have probably drunk some of the water. Taranto is right.

 
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