In What Ways Are Billionaires Dependent on the Kindness of Others (a.k.a. Entitlements)?
Okay, so here’s an explication of who are the moochers out there (though the point has now been made again and again). Poor people, older people, people down on their luck, people working hard but not being compensated with a living wage…all people who are only too happy to take, take, take.
The counter-argument being, of course, that the very wealthy and successful are the makers, and we must be taking from someone, somewhere – and it’s from them, naturally – to give to the rest of us who are so awesome at taking.
Except…aren’t really wealthy, successful, powerful people, like, the absolute greatest in the world at taking free things? Isn’t the bromide, “The rich get richer,” a commentary on how it’s easy to do well if you already do well? I’m reminded of the old Steve Martin joke about a guaranteed recipe for becoming insanely rich: “Okay, first, get a million dollars…” And Dire Straits wrote about how, as rock musicians, the little people envied how they got “money for nothing and chicks for free,” and that the “work” they did “ain’t workin’”…
Let’s list the things that rich people take that poor people rarely do, because they rarely, if ever, have the opportunity to:
– The swag that celebrities get at film festivals, and non-film festivals, too.
– The sex athletes and actors and people of great wealth often get, without working for it.
– The favors that are granted to the wealthy and powerful – best seats in the house, work done on the beachhouse, gratis, etc. – because of the quid pro quo they supposedly enable.
– The insider investment information they give to each other.
– The over-cocktails free (and great) legal advice they get.
– The ability to get in, amazingly soon, to see the absolute best doctor in the city, ahead of others who’ve been waiting for months.
– The go-to-the-head-of-the-class preferential treatment their kids (or connections) get when being considered for elite colleges, or hot job openings.
– The sycophantic behavior they “enjoy” (not that anyone enjoys genuinely sycophantic behavior but, hey) because of their status.
– The shared GulfStream rides and invitations to dine and vacation and general in-the-inside-looking-out…
Don’t want to call these “entitlements”? Fine. Want to argue that these are the perks one “earns” when one does something of great value, thereby put one in this position? Personally, I’d say “bullshit” to these arguments (fine, so I came up with the arguments myself, and they’re not even well-developed enough to be called arguments). Fact is, there are so many variables, so much randomness, so much good and bad luck that goes with getting to positions of wealth and power and success vs. finding oneself in poverty and neediness and desperation, that to posit that one is a group of “makers” and the other a group of “takers” is taking simplemindedness to a new level.
Unless Romney (or anyone who defends the position his words suggest) has never slipped past the velvet rope, never been given a better seat, never been handed a freebie and acknowledged it with merely a smile and a thank you and a charming wink, never enjoyed an advantage over Joe Shmo investor that Joe Shmo investor never even realized was there to have, etc…well, we’re all takers. Some may take more than others. But we’re all takers.