Wealth, Guilt and Leftist Sympathies

In my previous article I drew attention to the seemingly incongruous link between ‘the Rich’ and the Left in modern politics.   There is no doubt that the Democrat Party, at least since the 1970’s, has become a comfortable home for the very wealthy.

The Party is funded largely by the rich and in many cases the ‘rich and famous’ and the gap between the Democrat Party and the Republican Party in terms of funding is growing at a fast pace. I am not dismissing the significant financial contributions of the Public Service Unions, but they have always funded Leftist Parties and their financial contributions have only increased because the unionized public services have increased and employ more people. The fact remains that the extremely wealthy are very publicly withdrawing support from Conservative causes and Conservative politicians. In my previous article I mentioned billionaire Penny Pritzker and her billionaire brother (heirs to the Hyatt Hotel fortune). She is funding Obama and he is funding the Clintons. Eliot Spitzer, the disgraced former New York State Governor (and since the Media omits to ever mention that he is a long-time Democrat, I must draw attention to the fact) and his wife are also very rich. Other well-known fabulously rich Leftists include George Soros (Founder of the misleadingly named Open Society Institute), John Sperling, (Founder of University of Phoenix), Peter Lewis (Chairman of Progressive Insurance Inc.), Eric Greenberg (made a fortune founding Internet companies), Rob McKay (heir to the Taco Bell fortune), Susan Tompkins Buell (founder of Esprit Clothing), Omar Amanat (founder of Tradescape), Stephen Bing (Hollywood), Caroline Getty, Warren Buffett, Steve Jobs, Klor de Alva, William Lerach and Melvyn Weiss (Lawyers) and of course the huge gang of Hollywood multi-millionaires and Trial Lawyers like John Edwards. Lest we forget, the US Senate is filled with rich Leftists including John Kerry, Ted Kennedy, Jay Rockefeller, and Diane Feinstein. Former Senator Lincoln Chafee was the richest Republican but he has now defected to the Left. I could endlessly add to this list with names like Jon Corzine, but the point has been made.

As I wrote in the last article, the Democrat Party is presented by the Media as the Party of the underdog and it is so perceived by many poor and middle class voters. This is a great deception, but a useful one for a ruling Class that is numerically small but needs its chosen Party to win elections. Why has the Democrat Party become the Party of the rich? (The same question could be asked about the UK’s Labour Party).

The great writer, Joseph Conrad was of the opinion that we never really understand anyone but ourselves. “….how incomprehensible, wavering and misty are the beings that share with us the sight of the stars” he wrote in ‘Lord Jim’ and so in explaining why the wealthy are turning Left, we can only generalize.

My experience of life in the UK and US has taught me this. You cannot get rich simply by hard work and frugal living. Let us say that a man sets himself up as a landscaper. He can work 18 hour days, seven days a week. If he has a family to support, he will have to live very frugally indeed to build up some capital, but he might eventually have better equipment, a house that is his own and some employed workers. All along the way he will be taxed and will have expenses like insurance to protect what little he has accumulated from predators and their lawyers. If he saves for retirement he will be taxed on his investments and at every turn he will find the government waiting to pounce on him in order to redistribute his profits to the feckless and to fund its pet schemes. In short, he may have enough to live frugally through old age. The wealthy do not become wealthy just through their own hard work, though many do work hard and I am not advocating socialism here. Many who become wealthy do incidentally benefit society by accumulating wealth and good luck to them. But the Bill Gates and the rags-to-riches individuals must surely feel a little uneasy about the huge amounts they acquire. Then there are the Hollywood types and Show-Biz successes who become rich overnight, sometimes from a state of penury and with little talent. I am sure many feel a kind of guilt at the ease with which they have moved from one poor place in society to another rich one. I have often dreamed of winning the lottery and becoming rich. I am sure I am not alone in thinking that I would not want people to know that my new status was acquired by luck. Better to have people think that I had made my pile by effort and brains. This is human nature. Those who inherit great wealth, like me and my lottery fortune, must surely wrestle with the issue of other’s perceptions of their good luck.

In the past, the self-made wealthy and many inheritors of wealth, built libraries, monuments, gave to the Church and set up charities for the deserving poor in order to assuage guilt and acquire public esteem. Now, with a new ruling Class that began to make its presence felt in the 1970’s, the newly rich and the inheritors of wealth, can assuage their guilt and gain acceptance into the ruling elite by donating to the Media Class agenda. And so we see Bill Gates donating to AIDS and Africa, and in the process becoming chums with Media celebrities and the other Bill. They all scramble to become associated with ‘progressive’ causes and in this way can rub shoulders with the Stars, be featured approvingly in glossy magazines, sponsor Leftist politicians and feel good, as though they were helping the poor. Giving to the Church, unless it is an ‘inclusive’ Church that has rejected traditional theology, is a big No-No! So is giving to conservative causes like pro-life organizations or the Boy Scouts of America. The new ruling Class casts its shadow over all things and through a thousand different pressures.

Mr. Radical has a novel contribution to this topic and I think he is on to something. He maintains that by giving to Leftist causes and thereby expanding Big Government and taxation, the rich are effectively preventing the aspiring lower classes from joining them. If it is true that the wealthy have become wealthy by skillfully avoiding the taxation that keeps the rest of us poor, then promoting policies that increase taxation and redistribute rewards from the hard-working to the feckless, is a sure means of keeping the wealthy club exclusive.

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