Vilifying the Rich Doesn't Sit Right In My Liberal Heart

I'm a dyed in the wool liberal. I am a textbook bleeding-heart-feed-the-hungry-cloth- the-naked kind of liberal. I give to charity even though my income is small. I do it because it makes me feel good and because it is important to me.

But lately, some of the rhetoric of my party isn't sitting right.  It started with the "We are the 99%" movement, and it continues with the constant memes I see extorting the idea that wealth is incompatible with a caring society.

I may be liberal, but I am still an American, and I bought into the dream that anyone can rise to whatever level of success they want; if they have brains, tenacity, and luck on their side.  The idea that wealth is obtainable by everyone, not just people who have inherited titles, land, or money is a big part of my American dream. 

Heck, I'll say it:  I want to be affluent.  Pretty much everyone I know wants to be affluent, or even down right rich.  Filthy rich.  And I think a lot of the attacks of the rich are based purely in envy. The notion of Sour Grapes didn't go out of style after Aesop died.

I'll come out and say that I have never made 6 figures. At my highest wage rate, I would not be considered middle class on my own.  And, damn it, I want to be.  I want to write a book and be the next JK Rawlings. I want to land a job making enough money to support myself in the style I long to become accustomed to. I am not, nor have I ever been rich.

I also don't look to my parents to leave me money when they die.  I hope that they have enough money to pay all their debts and live out their own dreams. They earned it - all of my parents have advanced degrees and worked long hours to have the ability to retire.  They shouldn't have to worry about leaving something to their 40 year old daughter. 

I think what the issue is, perhaps, is that we need more visible nice rich people. Noblesse oblige.  In my hometown, philanthropy was a value encouraged by the top levels of society. That is what we need to encourage, not a lynch mob for people who were lucky enough to have made it to a level we aspire to. 

I would also like to see people valuing tangible things that have value, like art and quality instead of valuing tangible items for their perceived prestige. When I sell that book or make that movie I want to drive a solid car, not a fancy one, and carry an awesome one-of-a-kind handmade purse, not one with a gourmet label.

I am not saying that I have the answers to taxes and minimum wage and all the disparity of the world. I am just saying that we need to stop looking at the perceived upper class to solve everything with their wallets. Success is not a crime.  People who can pay their bills and live a cushy life are not inherently deserving of respect or scorn.  They are just people and should be judged on their own merits.  

In a way, it is the other side of the coin that says someone has merit just because they have money, but it is still the same coin. We need a radically different view, where people are valued for who they are, not what they have.  People have merit whether they are piss poor or if they have money.  We are all smarter than a simplistic view of money as the root of all evil or good. 


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