Today’s articles in the NY Times class series are the best written so far. Previously I’ve expressed only disdain for the series, but today is different.
The theme is the “hyper-rich.” The well researched article by David Cay Johnston uses statistics to shine light on the top 0.1 percent, a group seldom talked about. Kerry talked about the top one percent in his campaign, but never said anything about the top 0.1 percent.
The share of the nation's income earned by those in this uppermost category has more than doubled since 1980, to 7.4 percent in 2002.
That a pretty uneven distribution of income. People will criticize the article and say it reads more like an editorial, and it does. It also uses some deceptive statistics that are designed bolster the point of the writer rather than shed any light. I give a big thumbs down to deceptive statistics. They are especially uncalled for considering that the non-deceptive statistics, like the one quoted above, are so illuminating.
With great wealth comes great power. The power to bend supposedly democratic government to one’s will. The interest of the new aristocracy is to hang onto the power they’ve obtained. Their interests are not the interests of regular Americans.
I know some libertarians will say “but they deserve their wealth.” I don’t buy into that argument for reasons that are too long to explain here. Even libertarians have to agree that their children certainly don’t deserve anything based on any accomplishments besides being born. Yet their children inherit a role in the aristocracy and wield great power.
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The article about Nantuckett by Geraldine Fabrikant is also worth reading.
They [the new rich moving to Nantuckett] feel they have earned their money, and they are not shy about spending it. They construct huge mansions, outdo one another in buying high-end status symbols like mega-yachts (100 years ago it was private railroad cars) and not infrequently turn to philanthropy. Their wealth is washing over the upper reaches of society as it did a century ago, bringing cultural and political clout as they take up positions on museum boards and organize presidential campaign fund-raising dinners.
One thing that’s silly about the Nantuckett article is that the writer wants us to feel sorry for the middle-class being forced off the island. These people are making million dollar profits on their houses when they sell them and leave. I don’t feel sorry for them, I feel envious of them. If only I could be so unlucky.