Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The predatory rich

Class warfare is an ugly term and an uglier idea. It generally is thrown around by those who fear that the many non-rich will storm the barricades and guillotine the rich, as they did during the French Revolution.

Mike Lofgren in The American Conservative last August posited a different scenario:

The objective of the predatory super-rich and their political handmaidens is to discredit and destroy the traditional nation state and auction its resources to themselves. Those super-rich, in turn, aim to create a “tollbooth” economy, whereby more and more of our highways, bridges, libraries, parks, and beaches are possessed by private oligarchs who will extract a toll from the rest of us. Was this the vision of the Founders? Was this why they believed governments were instituted among men—that the very sinews of the state should be possessed by the wealthy in the same manner that kingdoms of the Old World were the personal property of the monarch?
It's hard to argue with the premise that the super-rich, with some honorable exceptions like Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, have lost any sense of civic responsibility they might once have had. Lofgren's piece tried to sound the alarm that the self-exile the super-rich sought (and still seek) was fundamentally not in keeping with true conservatism. As he put it: "Conservatives need to think about the world they want: do they really desire a social Darwinist dystopia?"

Unfortunately, the Republican Party, speaking on behalf of conservatives, seems to have answered "yes".

(Thanks to LongReads for the link.)

[UPDATE, 17 Apr 2013: Fixed typo: "Unforunately" --> "Unfortunately"]

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