Our Mysterious Reverence for the Rich

It’s amazing to me how solicitous we are for the tender feelings of the immensely wealthy and powerful, and how ready we are to lade all of our fear and contempt on the weakest and most desperate.

  • http://dukuhead69.blogspot.com/ pierre

    it’s easier to nail the poor and the weak than to face-off against the rich and powerful. Most people take the path of least resistance, so if you’re in the headlights and you’re not able, it’s just too bad.

  • Elaine S.

    Illegal aliens don’t take “all the good American jobs,” they take all the crappy, backbreaking American jobs American’s don’t want, like picking vegetables in the hot sun for hours every day or gutting cows and chickens at meat processing plants. Probably the “best” jobs that illegals tend to take are construction jobs and jobs in restaurants, but even those involve lots of hard physical labor with high risks of injury.

    • Sal

      Elaine, I know this is the received wisdom, but it’s simply not true. Who do you think did those jobs before the illegal aliens took them? Americans, that’s who. When La Migra raids the Pilgrim Pride plant, who shows up to take the now available jobs? Local people, who are not illegal aliens.

      I’m not sure what this poster is all about. What action, specifically, is it calling for? Confront the rich, how exactly? I already don’t buy G.E., and other than Wal-Mart and Chevron, the others are at a far enough remove that I usually don’t know if I’m using them. Given the businesses that I already boycott, thanks to Planned Parenthood and support for SSM, I will soon be subsisting on Mystic Monk coffee and produce from the back yard.

      Seriously, if you’re going to point out these problems, come up with some solution we can put into action.

      • ivan_the_mad

        Eh, you’re both right to some degree. Part of the problem is the distribution of the population of low-skilled workers. There is a large concentration of unemployed and under-employed citizens in urban areas. A lot of the jobs that illegal immigrants take in agriculture (picking fields) are in very rural areas (look into the seasonal/migrant workers who travel large areas of the country for work).

        • Ted Seeber

          Not quite it- most rural counties in the United States have unemployment rates exceeding 25%.

      • Ted Seeber

        I thought subsisting on Mystic Monk Coffee and produce from the back yard (and other people’s back yards thanks to the Farmer’s Market) WAS the solution.

    • Ted Seeber

      Americans once did all of those crappy, back breaking jobs. When and where illegal immigrants aren’t available, Americans still do. The difference is that they demand a wage equivalent to the stress endured.

      For instance the most dangerous job in the entire United States is working crab boats in the Pacific (used to be King Crab, but new Coast Guard legislation came in after Discovery started their “Deadliest Catch” show and now it’s the Dungeness Crab Catch in Oregon and Washington that is the most deadly). NONE of those men are illegal immigrants; crab is an expensive food (upwards of $25/lb) and the reward is large in proportion to the risk.

      If all work paid such a just wage, there’d be no jobs for illegal immigrants at all.

  • Andy

    It has to do with fear of two types. The first is if we ” attack” the rich we will be seen as traitors to
    Our country. Second is the prosperity gospel that is rampant in the US. This leafs to the worship of mammon and who wants to offend their god?

  • The Deuce

    I don’t revere the rich, nor do I hate illegal aliens, but I don’t think the laws regarding immigration and foreign hiring are a matter of loving one and hating the other. Every nation, in order to even exist as a nation, needs to have a citizenry, and thus some means of defining who is a citizen and who isn’t, and with that some means of limiting how many non-citizens it allows inside its borders, and how many it allows to become citizens. A nation that doesn’t do that is failing in its basic duty to its citizens, and that government will dissolve and balkanize in short order, resulting in social chaos and new nations that will enforce their citizenship.

    On the other hand, a nation that tries to trap its citizens within its borders by force (which is what it would take to prevent businesses from hiring in other countries) is a totalitarian dictatorship, and the fact that it would even feel the need to do so is a pretty good indication that it has been failing, or even attacking, its citizens so badly that they want to leave en masse.

    • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00805469860229478026 Irksome1

      Access to the Anerican market is a privilege, not a right, of business. A nation that allows powerful businesses to soak its population of wealth without providing employment is also a nation that is failing in a basic duty to its citizens. There is nothing fascist about applying embargoes and punitive taxes to businesses that do naught but rape the population of their wealth and do not provide sufficient return.

      • DTMcCameron

        Soak — Rape them of wealth? Aren’t people getting what they pay for, that is, isn’t a thing worth whatever its buyer determines it to be? Isn’t a market a place of give and take where both parties get what they want and say, “Thank you,” after conducting their civil exchange?

        There’s something to be said of “raping” the environment, or stripping a region of natural resources. There’s even something to be said against the fellow on the edge of the desert selling glasses of water at exorbitant prices because he can. But neither of these are the case, as I understand it. (This is the Facebook thing, right? Maybe a rape of the psyche, or work-ethic…)

        Now that Caesar has free reign to execute the Romans as he pleases, I frankly don’t see the need for any notion of citizenship, and whatever forgotten protections the institution might have once provided.

        • Ted Seeber

          “Aren’t people getting what they pay for, that is, isn’t a thing worth whatever its buyer determines it to be?”

          For the most part, no. Except in a very few markets like real estate, supply is carefully manipulated through huge oligarchies so that the seller has a monopoly on setting price.

          ” Isn’t a market a place of give and take where both parties get what they want and say, “Thank you,” after conducting their civil exchange?”

          Not in the last 40 years, no.

          “Now that Caesar has free reign to execute the Romans as he pleases, I frankly don’t see the need for any notion of citizenship, and whatever forgotten protections the institution might have once provided.”

          I will grant you that.

      • The Deuce

        Yes, the national government has the right to set tariffs and embargoes (I don’t it’s lawful for it to target people for harsh “taxation” based on political preference though). But that doesn’t necessarily mean it should. I don’t think it does citizens in this country any good for the government to drive businesses with foreign operations out of the country altogether. The only way such embargoes can work to keep a business in this country is if the business is able to make so much profit selling here, despite the costs of also manufacturing here, that it’s more profitable for them to shut down all their overseas operations and stay here than for them to simply shut down their US operations. Otherwise, they’ll simply leave or close up shop. In cases where manufacturing an item in the US would kill the profit margin altogether, obviously it wouldn’t work.

        I take exception to all the “soak” and “rape” talk too. In reality, you’re talking about citizens in this country choosing to buy things from companies that have workers in other countries. It’s not a good long-term situation to have, but that doesn’t mean that businesses are “raping” customers when they sell them an imported good.

  • http://confederatepapist.blogspot.com/ Confederate Papist

    I blame the government on both counts…I know…big surprise, right?

    They (the fed) look the other way in regards to illegals and fight the states that are trying to protect themselves from the revenue draining of resources that are supposed to be available to its’ citizens, and the crime that’s associated with it, then they sue the states for enforcing federal law that they’re refusing to enforce themselves. Brilliant, no?

    Then, they tax the hell out of businesses…all businesses. The big ones say, “okay, we’ll go to a tax friendlier country” whilst the small business suffers and gets strangled by regulation and taxation because they can’t afford to look for the same loopholes the big corps do.

    Enforce the immigration law. If you don’t like it, change it.
    Lower (or eliminate) the corporate tax and watch the over $3 trillion come back to this country…plus imagine all of the foreign companies that would like to set up shop here. Too simple, I know.

    • MarylandBill

      Lets keep in mind that where a company incorporates for tax purposes is not necessarily the same as where the company hires workers. Simply eliminating corporate taxes will not do much to improve employment in this country (since the $3 trillion you mention ultimately belongs to the bond and share holders of a company its kind of irrelevant). As long as we don’t have a level playing field economically (i.e., areas of the world where workers get ten dollars a day for factory labor as opposed to $18-$30 an hour plus benefits in the USA) companies have to ship jobs over seas to compete. Yes it is part greed, but it is also part survival.

      • http://chicagoboyz.net TMLutas

        You’re correct on your basic impulse that jobs move out when americans cost more than elsewhere but you don’t have the calculation correct which is leading you to be much more pessimistic than you should be. First of all, American workers tend to be a lot more productive than cheaper workers. The numbers are out there. Second of all, if you’re selling into the US, transport savings allow you to build locally here, pay more money in salaries, and still make it cheaper, per unit product cost to produce in the USA.

        The Boston Consulting Group took a look at all the factors relevant to whether a factory should be in the US or it should be in China and came to the conclusion that due to rising wages in China and more flexible rules and stagnant dropping wages in the US, on a per unit cost, China and the US will equalize in 2015. In fact, for certain types of work, we’re already equalized and jobs are coming back to the US. They are, however, not tending to come back to the rust belt states but rather to the sun belt with its more hospitable business climate.

    • ivan_the_mad

      “Lower (or eliminate) the corporate tax and watch the over $3 trillion come back to this country…plus imagine all of the foreign companies that would like to set up shop here.”

      Time to rethink the VAT, no?

      • http://confederatepapist.blogspot.com/ Confederate Papist

        No. Fair Tax….YES!

        • ivan_the_mad

          The Fair Tax, like a flat tax, falls more heavily on the poor than on the rich.

          • http://confederatepapist.blogspot.com/ Confederate Papist

            Incorrect. Read.the.bill.

            • http://confederatepapist.blogspot.com/ Confederate Papist

              And look for the word “prebate” in the bill…..

    • Ted Seeber

      And that’s because human beings, being second class citizens and unable to relocate to a foreign country, deserve to give all their money to Wall Street and reserve NONE of it for legitimate government, right?

      • http://natewinchester.wordpress.com/ Nate Winchester

        If human beings are second class citizens, who’s getting the money?

        Oh noes, did I miss the computer uprising? Or have the aliens finally showed up?

    • Spastic Hedgehog

      And invest (or re-invest) in infastructure. Our state has neglected things like railroads which gives manufacturers one more reason not to set up shop here.

  • http://natewinchester.wordpress.com/ Nate Winchester

    Uh….. source for any of this? Maybe it’s where I live or the sites I visit, but I’ve yet to see anyone solicit for the tender feelings of the powerful (and lading fear & contempt on the weak) on even the most libertarian site.

    Let’s go back to an earlier post I found in the archives:

    Our economic masters, once they are done looting the economy and lecturing us from the collected works of Ayn Rand

    Who has lectured from Ayn Rand? Heck, as Jonah Goldberg has pointed out (well I was going to link there but now NRO is on the fritz, here’s some other articles along the lines: and here and here), some of the most opposed to anything from Rand & capitalism are big corporations. Heck, most of the time the capitalists are merely pointing out the cost (i.e. if you’re going to treat someone badly, why be surprised when they leave your house/stop being your friend)

    Just all comes off as a bunch of strawmen.

    • Ted Seeber

      “Uh….. source for any of this? Maybe it’s where I live or the sites I visit, but I’ve yet to see anyone solicit for the tender feelings of the powerful (and lading fear & contempt on the weak) on even the most libertarian site.”

      Apparently you haven’t read the Acton Institute Blog or Mises.org.

      “Who has lectured from Ayn Rand?”

      Paul Ryan, Ron Paul, and of course, Rand Paul recently. Tom E. Woods even goes so far as to say that the Pope has no right to inject morality into the economic discussion.

      “, some of the most opposed to anything from Rand & capitalism are big corporations. Heck, most of the time the capitalists are merely pointing out the cost (i.e. if you’re going to treat someone badly, why be surprised when they leave your house/stop being your friend)”

      The interesting thing is they never blame the rich and powerful for treating people badly- ALWAYS it is the fault of the individual for not being perfect enough. The same is true of the abortionists as well.

      • http://natewinchester.wordpress.com/ Nate Winchester

        Actually I don’t read Mises very much.

        As for the Pauls… well what was Ron’s place in the presidential primary? The principle spokesman for this movement places 3rd/4th in the contest and that’s enough to say it’s mainstream? WTH?

        As for your last statement, I note with some interest that you imply the rich and powerful are not individuals. Seems the biggest problem we have here is a dehumanizing across the board.

      • http://natewinchester.wordpress.com/ Nate Winchester

        Ok, now I have time to check your sources and…….. am not finding anything.

        Nothing even remotely backing up these claims on the front page. A quick search pulled up:
        http://mises.org/daily/2397
        Which contains things like:

        Every honest citizen of a free state owes it to himself, to the community, and especially to those who are at once weak and wronged, to go to their assistance and to help redress their wrongs. Whenever a law or social arrangement acts so as to injure anyone, and that one the humblest, then there is a duty on those who are stronger, or who know better, to demand and fight for redress and correction. When generalized this means that it is the duty of All-of-us (that is, the state) to establish justice for all, from the least to the greatest, and in all matters. This, however, is no new doctrine. It is only the old, true, and indisputable function of the state; and in working for a redress of wrongs and a correction of legislative abuses, we are only struggling to a fuller realization of it — that is, working to improve civil government.

        Which would seem to prove the exact opposite of both you & mark’s point.

        And I’ve found even less indication at Acton. Perhaps you can link to some examples?

      • http://chicagoboyz.net TMLutas

        Ted Seeber – The Pope has every right to inject morality into economic discussions. In fact, the theology of stewardship has a great deal to say about economics. I’m just not particularly clear on how a proper understanding of this theology is in any way incompatible with capitalism. It seems a contrived conflict to me.

        For the capitalist, if he wishes to purchase sack cloth or fine silk to clothe himself, what right does anybody have to chide him for his choices in any sort of misean or or randian philosophy? The individual choice to save, invest, or to consume at the pleasure of the individual shields the Catholic as well as the libertine and any complaints that are flying under the flag of liberty really are flying a false flag in my opinion.

  • Mark S (not for Shea)

    Most illegal immigrants are poor people with dark skin. Most corporate CEOs are rich white guys who wear suits and have good haircuts. All too many people see what they fear and loathe in the former and what they want to be in the latter, which explains the will ful blindness.

    The Law and the Prophets have a whole lot to say about this. It’s hard to find a page in the Old Testament that doesn’t command us to care for the poor and the alien.

    But both of these issues Mr. Shea raises tend to share a common source: The rich oppressing the poor. Again, see the Law and the Prophets.

    • http://chicagoboyz.net TMLutas

      The rich sometimes do oppress the poor. But it is neither capitalism when they do so, nor is the cure government intervention. A man hires 2 poor americans for $10 per hour each. This arrangement works out for some time until he finds out that China is open for business, desperately poor, and in need of work. He then moves the jobs to china where he hires 6 poor chinese for $3 per hour each. He saves $2 per hour and 6 poor have their incomes increased and two poor have their incomes decreased. He donates $0.20 per hour to the Church. Where, specifically, is the rich man’s oppression?

      Now a rich man who maneuvers the land registry so that the poor cannot easily register their land in Latin America? That rich man is an oppressor. But it’s not capitalism he’s practicing but a crude sort of feudalism. This isn’t a black/brown thing nor is it colonialism. Greece has no land registry and the people are suffering tremendously for its lack.

      There are plenty of other ways that the rich legitimately oppress the poor. Moving jobs around is just not one of them.

  • Arnold

    Hundreds of thousands of Americans work for foreign owned companies, most notably the Japanese and European auto companies. Should their foreign confreres demand that those jobs be returned to their home countries like some Americans seem to be demanding from U.S. corporations employing overseas? Folks, this is a global economy we live in and jobs cross borders everywhere. It is economically naive to damn U.S. companies for placing some of their jobs overseas and yet, welcoming all that foreign investment in this country.

    • Ted Seeber

      Given the fact that Toyota pays less than half what Ford does, YES.

      • http://chicagoboyz.net TMLutas

        Mr. Seeber, that was a cruel sentiment and unchristian on several levels. Your wish to reduce the wages of those who now work at Toyota and to increase the inefficiency of the global automotive industry is contrary to the ordinary principles of stewardship as practiced by Catholics the world over.

  • Michelle

    I think John Steinbeck got it right when he said, “Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.” One reason Americans have such an otherwise inexplicable reverence for the rich is because we identify with them. They is us. There’s a positive aspect to that observation, in that it demonstrates Americans’ innate optimism and can-do spirit; but I thinkl the negative aspects are beginning to overshadow the positive.

    • Insane Sanity

      This. Most Americans want to live the “American Dream”, part of which is to obtain wealth. Why criticize those who we want to hopefully emulate?

      Also, keep in mind that the US Gov keeps many American citizens from working those “crap” jobs by consistenly providing welfare, food stamps, Section 8 housing, etc. Why work a crappy job when you can live for free?

  • http://peterseanesq.blogspot.com/ Peter Sean Bradley

    As a plaintiff’s employment lawyer, this is a reality I have to deal with in jury trials. In conservative jurisdictions, it is a very real phenomenon.

    As a “cradle conservative,” it is something I have had to train myself out of. There are times when my knee-jerk reaction is pro-authority and pro-large institutions just as a matter of course.

    • http://chicagoboyz.net TMLutas

      There is nothing conservative about being pro-large institutions. Conservatives, at least in the US are conserving a liberal revolution circa 1775-1789. The rich, when they are prevented from buying themselves out of trouble by buying the law, tend to come and go in the space of a generation or two. It is our willingness to permit the corruption of the law to favor the rich that is the problem whether it is crony capitalism or it is political or judicial corruption. None of that is conservative.

  • Sam Schmitt

    So . . . American companies are supposed to keep jobs in America at all costs, only to be run out of business by rivals who don’t?

  • ChrisB

    It’s amazing to me how solicitous we are for the tender feelings of the immensely wealthy and powerful, and how ready we are to lade all of our fear and contempt on the weakest and most desperate.

    Let’s start by not making simplified, sentimental cartoons out of things (no offence intended, Mark, not specifically directed at your comments).

    Sending jobs overseas is a benefit to the people who get those jobs, just as much as giving a job to an immigrant (legal or illegal) benefits the immigrant. Hiring an immigrant (legal, but especially illegal) benefits the employer, who in some cases may be wealthy, even immensely wealthy and powerful.

    Working out the rights and wrongs of different policies is a difficult task. People who are informed by rich religious traditions are well placed to contribute to the debate. Sloganistic thinking doesn’t help.


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