Since the president and his allies have taken to blasting “fat cats at the top” while the occupiers rail against the “1 percent,” Victor Davis Hanson devotes his latest National Review Online column to exploring the lives of those who “occupy” that dreaded class.
[D]o we really want to go down this them-vs.-us road? Using a new financial red line to crudely divide us is a tricky business. Those most likely to fly in corporate jets are precisely the elite who show up at the president’s mega-fundraisers and play golf with him on the world’s most exclusive courses — or visit Martha’s Vineyard and Vail, where the first family sometimes vacations. They don’t all wear pinstripes and Gucci, but may hang out at Occupy Wall Street rallies as actors, rappers, and filmmakers in jeans and baseball caps.
In a larger sense, we should remember a few things about the new orchestrated envy of, and animosity toward, the better-off. Most Americans each day depend on our medical care, our retirement packages, our food, our gas, and our computers from exactly these “few at the top” who seem to enrich rather than prey on society.
The BMWs or Porsches of the one-percenters aren’t that much faster, quieter, or safer than our Chevys and Hondas. Damning the wealthy nonstop is often an embarrassing symptom of one’s own longing for, even obsession with, the perks and attention that wealth brings. And if we really want more tax revenue, there is far more to be had from the nearly 50 percent of American households that pay no federal income tax than from the 1 percent that now pays 37 percent of all the collected revenue.
In short, a confident, successful society neither idolizes nor demonizes its rich, but instead believes that wealth can be created rather than taken from others.