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Do Progressives Hate Rich People?

Roger Simon looks at the Congressional Democrats trying to block the Obama-McConnell tax-cut-extensions-for-everybody-whether-they-need-them-or-not bill, and draws the only possible conclusion: Democrats hate rich people, and want everyone else to hate them too.

Yes, of course, that must be it: All those self-hating rich Democrats in Congress just want to punish themselves to assuage their terrible rich-person guilt – who could possibly think otherwise?

I don’t really want to speak for the Democrats whom I feel increasingly estranged from, but I can’t let this foolishness pass unchallenged.  So I will address it from my own non-rich progressive perspective, which I think is at least somewhat representative.

Simon is really employing two fallacies for the price of one.  The first is that the desire to return the well-to-do’s tax brackets to their Clinton-era levels is somehow the same as implacable hatred.  We are living in a time of extreme deficit hysteria, with the President and both parties buying into the right-wing fallacy that if we don’t balance the budget America will be destroyed.  Set against that backdrop, the addition of another $800 billion to the debt boogeyman means even more pressure to cut social programs and Social Security, and to never spend anything on stimulus or unemployment insurance ever again.

It is simply cruel and unfair to funnel money away from the people who need it most and towards the people who need it least – especially in the middle of a prolonged recession with almost 10% unemployment – and that’s what we want to prevent.

The second fallacy is that we hate rich people simply for being rich, because we’re envious or communists or whatever.  Not so, at least not for me.  I have absolutely nothing against rich people in general, and I like and admire many of them.  But I do hate rich people who believe that they are so valuable and important that they deserve to be rewarded with even more money just for being rich, even if it’s at the expense of someone who needs it far more than they do.  Or those who complain that they’re some kind of persecuted minority because they might lose a tax cut that’s more than most Americans earn in an entire year.  Maybe a million dollars doesn’t go as far as it used to, but it still goes a hell of a lot farther than an unemployment check… or no check at all.

And this kind of narcissistic greed is even harder to stomach when it emanates from someone who didn’t accumulate their wealth by building or creating something of value, but rather by inheriting it, or by gaming the financial system, or through outright fraud and predation.  Or from those who make their living by injecting lies and poison, or lazy Beltway hackery, into the American bloodstream.  They contribute nothing yet feel entitled to everything, resentful of the thought that some unemployed, impoverished or elderly deadbeat might take a few crumbs from the gilded table they did so little to earn.

So no, I don’t hate rich people – I hate selfish coldhearted assholes.  Hey, here’s an idea: Instead of babbling about why Democrats shouldn’t hate the rich, maybe Roger Simon should be asking why Republicans hate everyone else.

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