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article imageOp-Ed: It's True: Rich People Are Different From The Rest Of Us

By Hans Smedbol     Mar 3, 2011 in World
Nelson - Often it is heard that rich people are not like the rest of us, and it appears, that really this is true, especially in their attitudes, as well as their allegiances, which tend rather to be more with each other, than their home countries
There was an interesting, if depressing story in the Atlantic Monthly recently by Chrystia Freeland which discusses the increasing divide between the very Rich and the rest of us. Some of the more telling ideas that I managed to glean from the story were very depressing to me as an ordinary citizen, who has no hopes of ever becoming one of the Uber Rich. The author was saying that many of today's rich folks earned their wealth themselves, and tend to look at life through the lenses of the Meritocracy. This is in contrast to the old idea of inherited wealth giving rise to inflated opinions of one's self worth. These people who were discussed in the article were of the "newly rich" demographic. They had managed to attain their wealth themselves through whatever hard work and tricky manipulations that it took.
They came across as smug, self-satisfied, and dismissive of others who had not attained a similar status in life. And worse, they believe all this because they themselves have had such great success in life, due to contacts, and opportunity combined with hard work and dedication to their goals.
One member of this elite group, as told in the magazine story, was born in Taiwan, and studied in the U.S. but like most of the wealthy, didn't feel any particular bond with any particular country.These people have more in common with each other than the rest of us. They tend to interact socially with others of their rank, and live in secure communities, often gated and surrounded by guards. They tend not to interact socially with the "great unwashed" (the rest of us), and tend to have a rather dismissive attitude towards those who have not managed to become as wealthy as they have. They often tend to blame the rest of us for our poverty, for our lack of success. They say that they did it, so why can't anyone else?
I have personally experienced such people talking in like manner years ago, when visiting a friend's parents home with him. Such derision, such contempt, such a lack of empathy was displayed by these people towards the less fortunate than themselves. On the other hand, again personally, justice appeared to be served somewhat, later, when this arrogant business person lost his wealth through alcoholism and mismanaging his business affairs at a very challenging time, the '80's, when it was hard to dance through that complex web of debts, and obligations, incurred by anyone who wishes to be a land developer.
This is a question that many have asked themselves too, over the years, why "they", and not "I", have managed to acquire weatlh? Many people look on these members of the elite with a longing, and even jealous eye, wondering when they too might get such a break. Sad to say, however, most of us in the "middle classes" do not appear to have what it takes to become a member of the Corporatocracy, neither inherited wealth, nor earned wealth, neither family connections, nor old boy connections, in short, we are excluded from the heights, so longed for by so many.
Another sobering thought brings us to consideration of the issues responsible for the current decline of the American Middle class, the impoverishment of millions in recent years. When asked about this, these uber rich, who believe in the meritocracy, tended to state that American labour is way too expensive for the output, and that they can get cheaper labour elsewhere, like in China or Indonesia (where Nike relocated its factories). Also they tended to believe that if Americans lost a few jobs, at least Asians got some jobs, and if American wages come down then others in Asia will get some of that money. In short these modern day industrialists and bankers and financiers are Globalists, who have little or no allegiance to either the country of their birth, nor to the country where they may reside.
Indeed many of them, once wealthy, will relocate to a country more favourable to their ideas of taxation: low, or nil.
Having thus shrugged off the duties of contributing to the tax burdens in their native countries by moving to others with less taxes, they have managed to skim off billions and trillions of dollars, out of those same countries of origin, and
took all that cash overseas where the banks make more fortunes out of loaning out those deposits. The home country sees no taxes from them, but instead experiences a net draining of cash overseas, or into the coffers of the Uber rich.
The good old "trickle-down" effect so fondly embraced by the rich, in reality works in the opposite direction, and is in actuality the "trickle-UP" effect, where the magnetism of all that cash in the hands of the Corporatocracy attracts even more of it, as Governments collect taxes from the citizens, and pay off their friends in Industry and Finance, through their pet projects.
Governments dismantle public sector enterprises and sell them off cheap to the highest bidder, privatising everything in the belief that profit is the best motive. The end result of all this is that prices rise and rise, while wages remain the same or get reduced, as in the current stories revolving around the various State governments in the U.S. and their attempts to balance budgets by busting unions. Further, they then practise the old doctrine of imperialism: "Divide et Impera", or "Divide and Conquer", by stirring up the non union labour sector, in jealousy and envy, to support their wholesale attack on the wages, benefits, pensions and working conditions of unionised public sector labour, the idea being to "share the pain".
In reality, the aim is to drive the middle class back into the poor working class, and to strip all the workers' rights so painfully acquired over the last century. Not satisfied with their current take home pay, these greedy Corporatocrats want it all, or as much of it as they can manage to grab, at least. They appear to believe that really, we, the rest of the population do not really need the pittance that we are currently granted to live upon, through the fruits of our labour, in the current sweatshops of commerce. Their attitude would have been understood very well by the Victorian style of capitalist, who extracted every penny's worth of work from his impoverished working staff, including young children, while remunerating them with as small a pittance as possible, barely enough to keep body and soul together for a while. This is considered to be "good" capitalistic practice, and is the reason why Unions were devised in the first place: to work for the common good of labour against the oppression by the capitalists.
Basically these Corporatocrats currently blame the workforce for their own unemployment. They are the CEO's and owners of companies, who have moved their factories away from North America to other, cheaper venues, like China and Indonesia. Nike, for example closed most of its plants in America and moved overseas to Indonesia, and were cited by Michael Moore for exploiting child labour in that country. In his film "The Big One" he confronted the CEO of the company, Phil Knight, in the Seattle area, with this outsourcing scandal. When asked, Knight insisted that Americans do not want to make shoes, and that's why he moved the factories. Moore then went back to Flint Michigan where there were large numbers of unemployed folks, and asked them if they wanted to work in a Nike plant making shoes. He filmed a largish group of these unemployed folks, with banners and such chanting that they did indeed want to work for Nike making shoes.
Mr. Moore then took this film to the Seattle area and showed it to the Nike CEO, who laughed at it, and dismissively said that it was meaningless, and that still Americans do not want to make shoes, and that they were only saying they wanted to, because they were unemployed.
Mr. Moore also presented the Nike CEO with two airline tickets, and offered to travel with him to Indonesia to clear up the dispute over whether he employed children and teenagers in Indonesia or not, making American shoes. Knight declined the offer, but continued to insist that he did not employ children.
On the other hand, although the Nike CEO didn't want to employ any Americans, he most certainly did and does want to sell his Indonesian made shoes to the rest of us in North America. He won't give us any work, but he expects us to be loyal to his brand anyways, and buy his products. This represents a net loss of money from North America, into the pockets of Nike's owners and executives, as well as into the pockets of Indonesian partners, and the firms who constructed the factories, as well as those who provide the raw materials to the plants. And then there's the shipping costs. We won't worry about the labour, though, because it's so cheap; after all that's why they moved.
The exact same deal works with China as well. North American companies close their North American factories, claiming that North American Labour costs are too high, and ship their factories overseas to such countries as Indonesia, Malaysia, China, Taiwan and so on, where labour costs are considerably lower, and government oversight considerably less. Again this represents a net loss of money from North America, who lose all the jobs and factories, as well as supply contracts, but whose populations are expected to buy all these products, to countries like China, where labour and building costs are much cheaper, as well as to the industrialists who managed to get away with this major rip off of North America's wealth.
North America is looked upon mainly as a supplier of raw materials for these guys, and they try to buy up all our resources at the lowest, rock bottom prices they can manage to swindle out of us. Most often, in these cases Government acts as a rubber stamper, and the Corporatocrats manage to obtain natural resources at bargain basement prices, and then resell them overseas to great profit, or use them themselves to make goods, overseas, cheaply, intending to sell them at a good price in places like North America. Only rarely does the Government step up to the plate and deny them their rip off contracts.
These are the same kinds of people whose personal information, the Swiss banker , as told in the Digital Journal, was revealing to Wikileaks, a few weeks ago. They care so little for the people in their own countries, that not only do they move their factories overseas to cheaper countries, but that they even take all their money earned in their home countries out, for the most part untaxed, and put it in numbered Swiss bank accounts. When all the treasure of most of the nations is concentrated in the hands of a very few, then we might well expect a vast decline in general prosperity, and in the economy for the rest of us. Only in its movement between people, does money have any meaning really, or any value. If it all sits in greedy people's bank accounts, then there is nothing for ordinary fiscal transactions. The whole system falls apart if there is no cash flow through peoples' hands. Money is energy, and it's meant to be used, not stored up in vast treasure troves, such that a very few have it all, and the rest of us have to live on pennies.
The old saying, that " if they have no bread, then let them eat cake", when directed at the impoverished former middle classes of North America, will only give rise to the same kinds of labour and civil unrest in our countries as has been seen all over the world in the last year or so. We see such events taking place in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and even in many American state Capitals, such as Madison, Wisconsin, where the Governor is attempting to strip all collective bargaining rights (save minor restricted ones around wages) from the public sector unions, with the aim of crushing all public sector unions for the convenience of the governments involved.
All of this manipulating, and law passing, and outsourcing, is having the result of the middle class disappearing, sucked down into their former squalor in the lowest, so-called "working classes", where the wages are cheap, the benefits do not exist, nor pensions, the work place may be dangerous, the hours long, and underpaid, and when worn out at an early age, these folks are cast aside like garbage: no medical insurance, no pension. Just let them eat cake I guess. Not having the right education, the right family, and the right "old boy" connections, they are doomed to the underclasses, slaving away for their daily bread, squeezed between the employer, the rent payments, and the food bill, wherein many have to take two or three low paying jobs just to pay the rent. And then there's a debate as to whether they can pay the ever inflating electrical bills, or should they go shopping for food. Unfortunately there's often not enough for both.
Not only that, but the uber rich are so greedy and dismissive of the rest of us, that they fight tooth and nail (through their proxies, the Conservatives of various parties in various countries) to safeguard their tax cuts, such that they pay next to no taxes, shielded by various loopholes in the tax laws, and with the help of their pet CGA's. On top of this, and since this leaves the government budgets in serious deficit, when the rich do not pay their fair share, they agitate at the same time for service cuts through governments, from the local on up to the federal, cuts mostly to such irritating services as Medicaid, or Welfare, or even more treasonous (in this writer's opinion) in education. At the same time they are advocating for much greater spending by governments on their favourite companies, through Defense contracts and such, while outsourcing as much of the labour and construction costs as possible, again proving a net drain on the economy of their supposed "home" country.
All in all there is a class warfare currently going on, under the covers, which even the great Warren Buffet has admitted to in an interview in 2005 with CNN's Lou Dobbs, wherein they said:
"DOBBS: ... In 1983, Alan Greenspan, the Fed chairman, he had a very simple idea: raise taxes. That's what you're saying here.
BUFFETT: Sure. But I wouldn't raise the 12-point and a fraction payroll tax, I would raise the taxable base to above $90,000.
DOBBS: That's a progressive idea. In other words, the rich people would pay more?
BUFFETT: Yeah. The rich people are doing so well in this country. I mean, we never had it so good.
DOBBS: What a radical idea.
BUFFETT: It's class warfare, my class is winning, but they shouldn't be..."
That about sums it up, only it's even worse now, since the financial crash of 2008 into 2009, wherein the upper echelon of wealth gained some 50% in the value of their wealth, as recounted by Andre Damon in an article at Global Research, while the rest of us made do with much less, as we saw our pension funds eaten up, our investments losing up to 30%, and our longed for retirements receding into the unforseeable future. But then, that is exactly what was engineered by those same rip-off financiers and capitalists, the uber rich members of the Corporatocracy, whose bidding, governments everywhere, carry out surreptitiously, pretending to be working for the good of the country, but in reality, working for the Corporatocrats, the Oligarchy of Plutarchs, who really run the world's affairs..
Even the press, the famous "Fourth Estate", according to Salon's Glenn Greenwald, in several articles, who traditionally were the supposed foe of anti democratic movements by Government and industry, have shaken hands with the devil in most cases, and merely report what their masters in the Corporatocracy want them to say. Truth is just another word for these hyenas, disguised as "impartial" journalists, while openly peddling Government line, and getting routinely patted on the back for their great propaganda efforts. Instead of working for the people of the U.S and Canada, they work for the Plutarchs. They "embed" themselves into the National Security State, and happily peddle the propaganda given to them by their corporatocratic masters, with little or no examination as to whether what is being peddled is going to help the people they are supposedly serving or to do them serious damage through the lies and half-truths. Such lies and half-truths so enthusiastically peddled by the mainstream media and given them by "anonymous" government sources, propagandised the people into believing that the 9/11 attacks were carried out at the behest of the Al Qaeda forces, based out of Afghanistan, and later, said to be associated with the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, who was painted in the colours of an international terrorist leader, of threatening power and weapons of mass destruction, a man so dangerous to the security of the west that he simply "must" be taken down. Of course we know now that this was all spun out of false information and lying government sources. But have the media seen the error of their ways, or do they continue to peddle the official govenrment lines? Greenwald suggests that to this day they are lying in the service of authority, in the service of power, in the service of the billionaires who actually run the affairs of the country.
The worst part of all this is that most people do not seem to be aware that they have been enslaved by this monstrous system of "Free market" Capitalist, loansharking Mafioso thuggery, Fascist Police State, National Security State, listen to your phone messages, and read your email state, lock you up without charges under horrific conditions, incommunicado, and in solitary state, just the kind of place where we all most certainly do not really want to live, since it benefits only our masters to have such a state.
He who is willing to give up a little of his freedom for some extra security, will soon have neither, and will soon be joining the other voiceless paupers on the streets, homeless, jobless, and without a hope. Is this a vision that we want to embody?
It's all about money and power, and for some reason the wealthy classes appear to have recently gotten even more greedy than they were before, when we were at least allowed a thriving middle class, as a buffer between the super rich, and the lowest of the low, working class folks. Now as Warren Buffet says above, it is a class war, and the rich are winning it, and taking all the money with them, to sit on it, rather than spend it, rather like Smaug the Dragon, in J.R.R.Tolkien's "The Hobbit". Such wealth is useless to anybody, when it is entirely locked up in some billionaire's bank accounts. As I have said earlier, the only value to wealth, to money, is in the passing of it from hand to hand over time, each passing, enriching the lives of all through whose hands this energy of wealth passes. To hoard it all in a few large bundles, safe in the keeping of a few uber rich folks is defeating the pupose of money, and today, we, the ordinary folks living in North America are suffering the results of such a greedy consolidation of the continent's wealth in such a few hands. While a few lavish great wealth on themselves, the rest of us struggle each day to manage to get another scrap of bread for our families.
It doesn't have to stay this way. And as we can see all over the world, the ordinary people are getting more and more impatient with the current state of affairs, with a few uber rich folks ruling over the rest of us, with no input from us. They are massing on the streets, in the squares, around the world, and they are demanding their rightful due from the powerful crooks who are running everything. Where it will all end remains unknown.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about increasing divide between rich and poor, Global financial crisis, Warren buffett, saloncom, Glenn greenwald
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