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A lot of the problem really is about rich guys, but not those 90 miles north of Richmond. DC only does what it is paid to do, and only a few get very rich at it. None get super-rich. They don’t drive the culture or the values that shape policy. People who write the big campaign checks, fund the influential non-profits, and offer lucrative post-government service careers do.
Perhaps we just need to be more sensitive to the search for meaning and belonging by the super-rich. As silly as that sounds, give me a moment to explain.
Across the street from my old office in DC is a sizeable office building with a large, high-ceilinged lobby. The lobby used to be filled with utterly ridiculous sculptures whose only apparent common feature was that each had to be large and garish. The display changed every few weeks but the level of quality remained the same. I found it baffling.
An acquaintance who knows something of local commerce and the commercial real estate biz explained that it was a common phenomenon that capable businessmen from working-class or small business family backgrounds could achieve great wealth but feel they were not really accepted in high society (or perhaps more likely, their wives would crave such acceptance). And the most direct entre is to buy one’s way into the world of art. Like sharks on an injured whale, purveyors of alleged objects d’art, decorators, stylists, and foundation fundraisers circle and feed on that craving.
Rich guys buying really bad art is not a major social problem. Rich guys buying really bad policy and funding ideological grifters is perhaps the biggest current threat to the American economic, cultural, and social order. Rich people are made to think they are joining a moral and social elite by funding bad people and grossly distorted policies. The major problem threatening the well-being of people everywhere on earth is the rapid emergence of a large, successful grifter class that has concocted a monopoly on psychic rewards for very rich donors and for fellow travelers in media, entertainment, and academia.
Donors are told they are Creating the Future, Ending Racism. Saving Our Democracy, or Saving the Planet, or at a minimum, separating themselves from the unenlightened troglodyte lower orders. The super-rich now fund the biggest grifters in the world in exchange for attendance at exclusive events with their fellow marks and the delusive satisfaction of being praised by con men and the political class they empower.
It is beyond ironic that people who got rich by being innovative, bold, creative, and competent lavishly fund people who are expressly none of those things. At every Davos gathering, a collection of successful people whose innovative actions, skills, and productivity helped to shape a modern world in which standards of living are rising as never before are actually paying visionless hacks to talk about taking away cars, cows and children precisely because those hacks cannot imagine a world in which people innovate, adapt, create, or adjust rather than just passively endure (largely imaginary) future catastrophes.
When an “expert” tells you that the future is eating bugs and a permanent global shortage of reliable energy, isn’t it time to find an expert who knows how to chart a better path?
You would think that solving tangible problems in new ways would appeal to the most successful people on the planet. The grifter class does not go after those kinds of issues:
- Why not a project of placing small-form nuclear reactors in remote places in developing nations? That would be a vastly better option than acres of windmills and solar panels.
- Why can’t big money and the best minds devise an aggressive program to rescue the 5,000 kids per year who “graduate” high school in Baltimore without being able to read or do very basic math?
- Where is the model public-private program to literally round up and triage the homeless and properly treat specific pathologies?
- How do we make our entire workforce more productive and flexibly employable in a rapidly changing economy?
- How should we encourage rather than castigate growth?
- Instead of telling young people that they will soon die on a burning planet (and deserve it if white and/or male) why not tell them that technology and the removal of cognitive and ideological barriers could make them 50 times more wealthy than their great-grandparents if they embrace opportunity and deploy that technology in a free society and make a better, cleaner, safer world for all?
- How do we end the pernicious campaign to make African Americans surrender academic excellence and actual ownership of skills and knowledge in exchange for an artificial victimhood and perpetual dependence on the goodwill (and political dominance) of white liberals?
- [Add about a thousand other constructive items here.]
In short, there are so many ways to better spend money than to give it to über-grifters like Klaus Schwab, BLM, 350.org, or John Kerry. Why isn’t that happening?
Perhaps the mission for normals is not to try to convert the super-rich to conservativism or libertarian values but instead just make them realize how foolish they look funding the pernicious garbage and loser politicians they do. Excellence, optimism, public service, and innovation are very American values. Why aren’t the rich promoting the values, conditions, and habits that made it possible for them to become successful instead of paying losers to try to shut it all down? How do we provide the necessary psychological reinforcement for sane, productive leadership? How do we give hugs, praise, and reassurance to those who clearly need it and in so doing save our country and the planet?Published in