Of all the places to cut into President Obama's remarks today, I'd like to start here. As everyone now knows, there is a super-rich elite class of Americans -- and not just Americans -- that stands clearly apart from what we now are going to have to call the 'merely wealthy'.
The distinction here is quantitative, of course, but not simply in the way we have been trained to expect. Yes, the superrich have vastly higher incomes than the merely rich. But they also have vastly, vastly higher net worths. Income, lest we forget, is actually an unreliable and illegitimate proxy for true wealth. But -- and this is crucial -- the distinction is also qualitative: the superrich elite, as a group and as a rule, are culturally different from the merely wealthy. Anyone wanting a prefatory glance at the details should go read Chrystia Freeland.
It is essential we all notice that Obama's remarks laid bare a worldview dedicated to obscuring the fundamental and revealing differences between the merely wealthy and the superrich elite. According to this worldview, a family of five with a net worth of $100,000 and two breadwinners grossing $250,000 a year is, for purposes of taxation and the social compact, just like Warren Buffett...and just like Barack Obama.
It beggars belief that Warren Buffett, Barack Obama, or anyone else can really believe that these two groups of people are really so similar that we are entitled -- obliged! -- to refer to them all as 'the richest Americans'. Yet this Obama does, time and again. It is the habit, and now almost the premise, of his party. And it is a conceptual monstrosity -- a lie of such sweep and power that it can destroy far more than the fortunes of America's merely wealthy, or even those Americans willing to take on risk and toil for a chance to rise to their ranks.