The Superiority of the Rich

People who are conservatives presumably want to conserve things. Most liberals agree that things should not be lost merely for the sake of change. We all believe that we have deeply important things that should be conserved. But what are those things?

Conservatives mostly want to conserve their wealth and privilege. Why? Because they believe wealth reflects the natural order of the world, that wealth indicates superiority, a superior class of people. This has been the conservative belief for at least four centuries.

That wealth indicates superiority
has been a conservative belief
for at least four centuries.

The corollary of this argument is that poverty indicates inferiority. All wealthy people are superior; all poor people are inferior. The conceit doesn’t explain how loss of wealth through misfortune affects natural superiority, or whether gain of wealth merely by being in the right place at the right time actually means superiority. It doesn’t say whether a wealthy crook is superior.

But it does explain why conservative Republicans have opposed virtually every proposal to make the lives of the working poor better, and supported every proposal to give money to the people who have absolutely no need of it.

Ironically, a large percentage of the world’s greatest artists were poor all their lives. According to conservative beliefs, they were therefore inferior people. Only after they are long gone are they recognized for what they achieved. Only then do the rich buy their creations for millions of dollars. So what were these artists? Inferior because they were poor, or superior because they made great works?

A significant number
of the world’s greatest artists
were poor all their lives.

How about the people who hit upon some lucky formula—say, a car alarm that sells like hotcakes, even though it is obnoxious and does nothing to prevent theft? Have they become superior with wealth, after an unpromising youth on the other side of the law, or do they only become superior in hindsight, when their privileged children are able to maintain their status by hiring financial experts to manage their unearned wealth?

Personally, I find the purported superiority of the rich to be a rather contemptuous concept. Any of us can name an obnoxious billionaire or two, or a disgusting millionaire who is unclear on the concepts of ethics, morality, and common decency. And any of us can name someone of modest means whom we could trust with our life. No, money isn’t what counts above all.

One of the results of this belief in conservation of wealth is that most conservatives defend wealth and its production in the face of any and all evidence that their actions lead to profoundly negative results for everyone else. The prime examples today are exacerbation of poverty and inequality as wealth is increasingly shifted to the rich by Congress, themselves millionaires, and denial of the reality of global climate change, because denial allows capitalists to continue profiteering at the expense of the world. They simply cannot appreciate that purposely playing dumb is leading us rapidly into a nightmare world we will all have no option but to address as best we can, simply because they want to increase their wealth infinitely. They are blind and deaf to anything but this conserved wealth.

People don’t become lazy
whenever there’s a market downturn.

The plain fact that inequality has worsened over the past four decades at the same time that the rich were given gift after gift is a fact sufficiently obvious to destroy their argument that poverty is the result of natural inferiority and laziness. People don’t become lazy whenever there’s a market downturn. Nobody likes being out of work and having to depend on emergency funds, compromising their own future. Many people looking for work after a market crash cannot logically be a sign of natural laziness. Yet that is precisely what conservatives were saying after the 2008 crash, just as they did in the 1930s. But in spite of the undeniable truth of this logic, they are undeterred, and continue to believe in their own unquestionable superior leadership.

The conservative religion is no more subject to reason than other religions.


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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Reblogged this on Citizens, not serfs.


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