Hating the rich is nothing new, says former “Dirty Jobs” host Mike Rowe. In fact, he says, “it’s as old as hate” itself.
Rowe was appearing on Fox Nation when the topic of anti-rich sentiment came up. While the sentiment itself isn’t particularly new, the fervidity of it seems to have been cranked up this election cycle.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent, says that “billionaires should not exist.” Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren seems to want to make sure that happens in the form of a vampiric wealth tax that would drain the resources of wealthy Americans — those who choose to stay in the country, anyhow.
Billionaires should not exist. https://t.co/hgR6CeFvLa
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) September 24, 2019
Appearing on “Reality Check with David Webb” this week, Rowe said resentment of the rich ignores the kind of improvements capitalistic innovation has brought us.
“It’s not a new thing. It’s as old as hate. You know, the trick is we just got to figure out who we hate this week,” he said.
“Who can we blame? That’s the game.”
Webb suggested it was the media creating “envy” of those who took risks (and thus reaped the rewards).
“For me, you know, it’s even more human,” Rowe said.
“I think, on some level, we wind up resenting everything we rely on. It’s only a matter of time. But if you walk resentment back, it almost always comes from some kind of dependency.”
He compared the phenomenon to what’s happened with the California wildfires.
“Last week, I was without power for four days and a lot of my neighbors realized all of a sudden, ‘Wait a second, nothing works.'” he said.
”That makes people very angry. And they don’t know who to blame. So they flip off the linemen. You know, they blame PG&E. They blame the politicians. They blame everything.
“But deep down, what’s really going on is they just got a reminder that they utterly rely on a little plastic switch and the miracle that happens when they flip it and they’re not in control of any of that. They don’t have a generator. They don’t have the means to fix the problem.”
And, as for politicians, Rowe noted that Franklin Delano Roosevelt was quite wealthy and did pretty well by the liberals. (Warren and Sanders, if either is elected, would fit into that category as well.)
Rowe isn’t exactly a political scientist or economist — although, given the fact that these are the people who have brought us “Medicare for All” and modern monetary theory, that’s probably just as well.
What he seems to have down is the fact that resentment sells — and big-time resentment sells big.
We used to think that the Democratic Party under President Barack Obama was stoking class warfare. In truth, we never had it so good. Both Sanders and Warren were in the Senate back then, but neither was as prominent or intransigent as they are now. And the Scylla and Charybdis of hard-left inequality envy look almost like holdovers from the Gilded Age when compared to new entrants like Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the rest of “the squad.”
Rowe taps into something worthwhile here, as well: The near-Orwellian nature of the invective directed at millionaires and billionaires. We hate them not just because they have the money and we don’t.
Instead, we invariably turn on those who create the very things that make our lives what they are.
And who directs this? The state, of course, or those who are representatives of it. When Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez almost single-handedly chased Amazon’s second headquarters out of New York, the sociopolitical issues seemed almost secondary. Jeff Bezos’ face was on the telescreen, and it was time for his two-minutes hate.
If Rowe’s analysis is correct, we can take some consolation in the fact that this is how things have always been. We’ve somehow managed to work around this glitch in our human nature.
The problem is that it feels, more so than any time in my life, like the glitch is on the verge of crashing the system.
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