Clicking on banner ads enables JWR to constantly improve
Jewish World Review Sept. 9, 2000/ 8 Elul, 5760

Marianne M. Jennings

Marianne M. Jennings
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
James Glassman
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Jackie Mason
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Debbie Schlussel
Sam Schulman
Roger Simon
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

Why rich folk don't
bother me none -- THIS YEAR'S presidential election, in addition to its focus on wet kiss records, appears to be taking on a class warfare theme. If media folklore is correct, nasty rich people are getting away with murder under the tax code and Al Gore will rescue the poor from capital gains oppression once he unloads his $500,000 of Occidental Petroleum stock. George W. , urban legend has it, labors mightily to protect the beluga caviar crowd from taxes upon demise and demise by increased marginal rates.

I have never quite worked up a good passionate disdain for rich folks. My lack of fervor for bad-mouthing the titans of industry and finance and fine diners everywhere stems from studies of non-capitalist systems. Check out Miguel Gonzalez's hovel. Rest areas on our interstates are nicer than the home of one of Cuba's high earners. The per capita income in China won't buy you Saturday night at the movies if you spring for popcorn. The Soviets trained some of the world's finest scientists and raced for space but haven't brought one scientific invention to world markets. There's not even a fruit-flavored cereal out of Minsk.

Russians are bright, capable folks with no incentives. Imagine an economy without stock options. Imagine an economy without white bread. Investment and its returns lose their charms when the government takes it all anyway. Small wonder Vodka remains Russia's one great product.

Rich folks are the risk takers who put themselves, their money and their lives on the line in investments and new businesses. They keep plowing the system for more. I love rich people for that. I love that they have the guts to make a payroll. I love that they seize the next great opportunity. I love that they turn around and give money to charity. Capitalism gives them the incentive and tax codes motivate to do more, more, more.

That more, more, more tempts and irritates liberal ideologues who want to tax, tax, tax to remedy economic injustice. The root of all evil is not money, but envy. Politicians tap into it to whip folks into a class warfare frenzy. Self-interest is not a sin if you understand Adam Smith outcomes. Ronald Reagan's supply side economics and unwavering tax cuts produced this hummer of an economy that has broken down class lines so dramatically that they are as passé as the mood ring and other bourgeoisie junk.

Economic justice is right before our eyes. There has not been a trickle down effect; there has been a redistribution of wealth like no socialist nation has ever seen. The economic quintiles are blending. In 1998, those in the bottom fifth for absolute income (does not include food stamps, government subsidies and is before taxes) dropped to 3.6%. Those whose income grew most: blacks, women and married households. Those in the lowest quintile now enjoy the highest level of income (adjusted for inflation) since the U.S. Census Bureau began keeping the data in 1967. Nearly 100% have a color TV and ¾ own a VCR. Some have nots.

The lines between corporate America, the wealthy and the proletarian masses have never been so blurred. There is a Millionaire Next Door who got there riding on the coat tails of Wall Street giants. In 1983, there were 2.4 million households worth $1 million or more. In 1998, there were 4.8 million such households. Sixty percent of Americans own stock. We have met corporate America and it is us.

Anecdotally, the blurring looks even better. The Hamptons, sporting New York's richest and official cash depository for Clinton campaigns, has a construction boom, driven by the wealthy looking for second homes, with contractors backed up, prices on homes doubled, and construction workers earning $15 - $25 per hour. Miguel Velasquez, a Salvadoran immigrant, sums it all up, "There is just too much work." Mr. Velasquez, who works 12 hours per day, seven days per week, earns $23 per hour. For those of you keeping score, Mr. Velasquez's gross income will approach six figures this year and he continued to turn down work until his sons joined him in business. A generation of immigrants and their children are thriving among the Hamptons' rich.

The Democrats' class warfare theme, complete with the Bill Bradley hunger sob story at their convention, seems contrived. It is. The former senator relayed, courtesy of Senator Paul Wellstone, the story of a Wisconsin child who told a teacher that she had not had breakfast that morning because, "It was not my turn to eat." Contact with Senator Wellstone's office for confirmation brought an acknowledgment that he did not witness the hunger nor could he name said school or teacher.

Cuts in taxes across the board bring the most return from the rich because they put money to work, whether on homes in the Hamptons or in www. coms. In Germany, to jump-start a too-regulated economy, left-leaning chancellor, Gerard Schroeder, cut corporate and the top marginal tax rates. The German stock market is cooking.

I love the rich and all they do. Many of my students surpass my annual income just in stock option bonuses for signing with a company. I love them for that. I love them for taking the plunge into the wondrous world of business. I love that they will grow companies, build houses, hire the Velasquezes, and, at some point, return with generous donations for the alma mater that taught them how to negotiate options and the importance of noblesse oblige. I wish them wealth untold.

Long live the rich.

JWR contributor Marianne M. Jennings is a professor of legal and ethical studies at Arizona State University. Send your comments by clicking here.


08/28/00: Survival of the not-so-fit but conniving
08/25/00: Conventions: A study in contrasts
08/18/00: Resenting the accusations of racial prejudice
08/04/00: Women: Their own worst enemy
07/21/00: Hillary: Our longshoreman First Lady
07/21/00: SUVs: The root of all evil
07/14/00: The basketball gene and white men not jumping so well
07/07/00: I wanna be around
06/23/00: The liberal conversion
06/14/00: Sex and the City: The shallow but vulgar female
06/08/00: No excuses schools
06/02/00: Oh, Canada: Our Nutty Neighbors to the North
05/23/00: The new mollycoddling coach
05/16/00: On adultery and leadership
05/12/00: Taking your lumps
05/02/00: Elian: There's never a liberal around when you need one
04/25/00: Life's circle and tenderness
04/18/00: Womyn who want it both ways
04/11/00: The monsters we're raising with the ergo proposition
04/05/00: Endowing the Hooters Chair for Literature Appreciation
03/28/00: Dr. Laura: The passive/aggressive kid's mom
03/21/00: Dough and campaigns
03/14/00: The volunteerism of conscription and pomp
03/07/00: Hope and pray that religion remains a force in politics
02/29/00: Ditzes in TV Land
02/22/00: Cranky nitpickers make writing a [sic] experience
02/15/00: Those chameleon 60s activists
02/08/00: McCandidate McCain: Flirting with principles
02/01/00: The demise of marriage
01/25/00: Stroke of the pen, law of the land: Clinton's Camelot
01/18/00: Off the Rocker Rorschach Test
01/11/00: Oprah's lemmings
01/04/00: Struggling mightily amidst the comfort
12/23/99: Confused fathers
12/14/99: Drop-kicking the homeless
12/07/99: Turtles and teamsters, side-by-side in Seattle
11/29/99: When conservatives behave badly
11/22/99: Compassionate conservative: Timing and targets
11/18/99: The elusive human spirit and accountability
11/11/99: Succumbing to the intellectual child within with the help of crackpots and screwballs
10/28/99: Live by litigation, die by litigation
10/22/99: Jesse, Warren, Cybill, Donald and Oprah
10/14/99: Inequality and injustice: It's the big one
10/05/99: Dan Quayle, morals and schoolyard bullies
09/30/99: The monsters of epidermal parenting
09/21/99: The Diversity Hoax
09/15/99: Waco Wackos
09/09/99: Selective censorship
09/01/99: The village, the children, judicial imperialism and abortion
08/24/99: Naughty Newt?
08/17/99: In defense of Boy Scouts and judgment
08/10/99: Ruining the finest health care system in the world
08/03/99: Nihilism and politics: ethics on the lam
07/26/99: Of women, soccer and removed jerseys
07/23/99: Not in despair, a mere mortal doing just fine
07/20/99: "Why me?" How about "Why us?"
07/13/99: Bunk, junk & juries
07/06/99: An Amish woman in a Victoria's Secret store
06/30/99: That intellectually embarrassing Second Amendment
06/24/99: Patricia Ireland eat your heart out --- but check out the recipe in 'women's mags' first
06/22/99: Dems and the Creator coup
06/17/99: True courage is more than just admitting troubles

© 2000, Marianne M. Jennings