UPDATE: Nevermind. It’s been added at In Mala Fide.
I submitted the following piece to another website which will for now go unnamed, but it hasn’t been posted thus far. I’ve been posted at the site before, and quickly, so I don’t think it’s the technical quality of the writing that is holding the piece back, but perhaps the content. It may be too libertarian in orientation, though you wouldn’t suspect that from the title. But hey, maybe it really does just suck.
So I’ll put it up here, which would make it the first post original to my actual blog in some time. The piece is/was jam packed with hyperlinks, but the .doc didn’t import them:
“FREE MARKETS AND LUCKY ASSHOLES GO HAND IN HAND, AND THEY’RE GIVING YOU THE FINGER”
The fabled Tortoise and Hare is a quaint if not archaic pair. This long played out anthropomorphic duo was often invoked to teach youngsters the virtues of slow, steady and humble productivity in the taunting face of a cocksure narcissist. The Tortoise, lacking the foolhardy (and womanizing) talent of the Hare, ultimately wins the day with his bourgeois habits of restraint and patience.
Too bad that little parable has shit all to do with success in the rat – er, rabbit – race of life.
Ok, not completely. Avoiding the temptations of junkie-hood, not suffering from severe mental illness, not screwing with the lid off (if your “partner” is a Maury Povich type), and keeping a job while living within your means is a fairly reliable way of avoiding poverty. But the idea that with enough elbow grease, thrift, talent, and an optimistic disposition you too can find yourself rubbing that aforementioned grease with the best of them is so just so much bright-eyed American nonsense. The evidence is mounting that the rich are lucky, selfish, reckless bastards with no trace of compassion.
Relatively speaking, of course.
Virginia Postrel, expositor and proud defender of capitalism’s hard-on for “irrational exuberance,” breaks it down like this:
Entrepreneurship is not…a rational risk calculation. It is, as critics of capitalism sometimes charge, a bit like gambling. The few big winners are usually people who shouldn’t have bet their time, money, and ideas. They overestimated their chances of striking it rich. But they beat the odds — to everyone’s benefit.
Yep, they got lucky (and given their newfound wealth, likely in more ways than one). Who says black kids shouldn’t dream of becoming the next Kanye West or Dennis Rodman? (Ok, perhaps Rodman is a piss poor example.) Hey, if only a trifling pittance of these kids succeed, we all benefit. You don’t see white and Asian kids being told their wet dreams of starting the next Groupon or eBay is just so much faith based magic, so why shoot down the pie in the sky cravings of the midnight basketball crowd? What kind of heartless jerk would do such a thing?
A rich one, it would seem.
Even libertarians will confess to something like an X factor in favor of greediness for the successful in our ranks. The mental image of the suave, power suit wearing American Psycho guy may be off the mark, but that drive to possess is very much on target.
The rich are assholes too. Compared to their down in the dump counterparts, they show less empathy and compassion. They’re so caught up in their hands-free cell phone conversations they fail to notice the destitute pauper inches away, stitching his pants back together with a second hand sewing kit rescued from a trash bin. In the rain.
Even more perverse, we may even like it this way. A bunch of eggheads running an experiment on leadership found that people chose leaders not for their smarts and resourcefulness, but for their ability to marshal the inner asshole that pretends to, in the words of working class slob Larry the Cable Guy, “Git R Done.”
One can take mental refuge in the likelihood that the rich, at the very least, have good taste, neglecting to make the abysmal Atlas Shrugged movie their mascot via bribes to professional taste makers, and more or less consigning it to an Orwellian memory hole.
So, does all of this mean that the Progressives’ progressively annoying calls for taxing the rich and moving power away from them and to the state have merit? As one catchy aphorism (and website) would have it: Hell to the Nah. First, there just aren’t enough rich folks to put a plug in the butt of the big assed US deficit. Sure, you could confiscate at rates of 90%, but at that level even critics of the tax policy favored by Ferris Bueller’s droll teacher would have to concede its predictive power. Second, and in the opinion of this low-ranking college graduate, more importantly, the domain over which the rich preside is plain easier to escape from. Their private fiefdoms don’t have the power to compel patronage – i.e. buying their shit – in the way governments do. And that, as even a dullard can tell you, can have a sobering effect on giving people what they, you know, actually want.
The money bag (and maybe even colostomy bag) sporting elder statesmen at Wal-Mart allow for benign neglect in a way governments don’t. Now of course if they had their druthers, I’d eek out an existence ala the Truman Show in the confines of their megastores. I’d eat from one of those built-in McDonalds every day, and my reading material would be restricted to Sarah Palin’s Going Rogue, Chelsea Handler’s My Horizontal Life (a revealing title, come to think of it), or any of the other brain teasers you’ll find in the bargain bin. Alas, that’s not the case. Government, in contrast, recalls the title of Jean Paul Sartre’s No Exit.
The rich want to screw me, but fortunately my relationship with them involves a chastity belt that can only be unlocked with the swipe of my Visa card.