Not That I’m Prejudiced, But…

I have to admit to one form of prejudice. As hard as I’ve tried to overcome my upbringing, and my life experience, and as hard as I try to remember not to paint everybody of  certain category with the same brush, I have to ‘fess up and admit that I do have a negative image of one particular minority group. I am ashamed by this, but I must, in all honesty, admit it. I am prejudiced against the rich.

There—I know it’s even considered offensive to call them, “The Rich.” I know they prefer “Job Creators” or “Those With Gumption to Make Things Happen” or “The Private Sector” or whatever they want to be called this year—who can keep up? At least I don’t call them “The Man,” “Greedheads,” or “Capitalists” or even sling about the R-word in mixed company like some people I know do. But then, It’s not that I hate them—not really. I do get a little nervous around them, sure. I shouldn’t judge people just because of their socioeconomic status, but…well, you know. One hears stories.

I know, I know. Just because someone is, you know, rich doesn’t necessarily reflect on his character. Well, yes, I said “his,” but it is statistically provable that nearly all Wall Street crime and Imperialist intervention is a function of rich males. Martha Stewart notwithstanding. It’s a fact. Oh, I know it’s supposed to be because of the

Please don’t judge me too harshly. Some of my best friends have been well off. Still, I do have a somewhat biased view of people who—shall we say Have More?—you have to admit you have had these thoughts too.  And yes, just because I see someone climbing into a chauffered town car outside the opera, that doesn’t mean he is going to downsize my place of employment or send my job to the Dominican Republic. Most of them don’t do that sort of thing, though one has to admit that when it comes to that sort of behavior, they are—shall we say Over-Represented?

It’s all over the news media, and one can’t help feeling afraid. One of us would have to be crazy to walk through what we can only call an affluent neighborhood—it is very likely that here will be some kind of confrontation with police or private security, and who needs that? Really, I’d never set foot in Bel-Air or Beverly Hills or Bloomfield Hills or places like that—especially after dark. It’s just not worth it. Anything could happen, and who would take care of my family then?

I have had friends—good friends—who had to move when some private-school types started moving into their neighborhoods. At first my friends tried to be cool about it—hey, why not? Open and accepting, right? But then the signs started appearing. Gates. Fences, Surveillance cameras. Next thing you know, buildings started being remodeled, industrial lofts became “gracious living spaces,” and the property values and rents skyrocketed. Complaints to landlords fell on deaf ears. And the old, working-class neighborhoods started to smell of Benz exhaust and arugula. The streets were lined with places selling two-dollar cupcakes. It was time to leave.

Fortunately, I live in a place where that hasn’t happened—yet. And there are lots of positive role models among the wealthy—like Bill Gates—a wealthy gentleman, and very much a credit to his tax bracket. I know all this, but I can’t help feeling—nervous. It seems like the well-to-do no longer seem to know their place. One is even running for President! My father, who grew up in a less sensitive age, would have called him a “rich bastard.” No doubt if he got in there would be more tax breaks and giveaways for the well-heeled. They always take care of their own. You know how they are.

Worse yet, some of these well-to-do people aren’t even American citizens! They have come here through upper-class immigration loopholes strictly to get on the government gravy train and collect tax exemptions and business incentives. There’s no sense of loyalty to America or to anything else.

These are dark thoughts, I admit. I mean, everyone in America should have the same chance to find meaningful work—but the rich are not interested in labor. They (and yes, I may be overgeneralizing) just want to take that dividend check and plop it right into hedge funds or a Cayman Islands bank. They have no concern about how that affects the larger community.

Like I’ve said, the rich—and I am not afraid to use that word, because that’s what they are—are not universally evil. Some are decent, hard-working individuals.

But still—would you want your daughter to marry one?

Advertisements