Romney’s 47% and Why The Rich Are Meant To Be Rich
Entitlement Cuts Both Ways
I’ve been puzzling over Romney’s comment that 47% of the country is not paying taxes, dependent on the government and freeloading (my paraphrase). Everybody from Jon Stewart to local pundits have been breaking it down and taking due umbrage. Everybody except Fox News, of course.
A thoughtful New Yorker piece (“Why Do America’s Super-Rich Feel Victimized by Obama?”) gives more background on Romney’s comment. It turns out the super-rich, like Leon Cooperman (billionaire founder of the Omega Advisor hedge fund), are feeling unappreciated if not vilified by Obama. They feel they are the targets of increasing class warfare and they are not going to take it anymore. But the piece by Chrystia Freeland also argues the paradox that the super-rich have done well under Obama’s administration, for example, with “ninety three percent of the gains during the 2009-2010 recovery went to the top one percent of earners.”
So—tell me again—how are Romney and his rich friends victims?
It turns out the supposed sense of entitlement works both ways. The super-rich accuse the 47% of freeloading and expecting the system to supply all their wants. But the super-rich themselves have learned to take advantage of the system to live extraordinarily well—something perhaps they also feel entitled to.
Romney’s comment shows me again why no one candidate or party fits fully within the rubric of “Christian.” We’ve painted compassion for the poor with the broad brush of entitlement and freeloading while failing to examine why and how the system rewards those who have assembled it. And then we douse the whole subject with an indignant tone.
We need a new way of talking.