The Wealthy Really Don’t Get It

One of the things I’ve been noticing over the past few years is the “entitlement mentality” among the people who constitute “the 1%” or even more, the top 20% of all wage earners.  It’s a sense of privilege, an attitude that they deserve what they have, and with it, a massive perceptual blind spot.  There is a great article over on Cracked about the 6 things that rich people need to stop saying.  Even though it’s a humor site, this particular article is not humorous, and strikes to exactly why the people in “the 1%” or even the top 20% of income earners are surprised that many people get seriously irritated with them.  It’s excellent reading, and it lists a number of the “justifications” we’ve heard from them about why they’re rich – and deserve to be – and why they think “we shouldn’t be attacking them for that. ”  Then it takes those justifications apart.  But those are not the only things that tend to be clueless.

Recently, Mitt Romney waded in to the battles over college education and funding, and has been trying to persuade college students to support a Republican agenda.  He’s trying to “relate” to the problems, and offer them advice based on what he thinks they should do.  The problem?  The sense of entitlement, the perceptual blind spot that he has, that comes from his experience and his social circle  stands out:

At a “lecture” for students at Otterbein University in Ohio today, Mitt Romney told students that, his friend, Jimmy John, started a business by borrowing $20,000 from his parents at a low interest rate. Romney suggested anyone in the audience could do the same:

This kind of devisiveness, this attack of success, is very different than what we’ve seen in our country’s history. We’ve always encouraged young people: Take a shot, go for it, take a risk, get the education, borrow money if you have to from your parents, start a business.

Um.. what?  Yes, sure, all you need to do is borrow money from your parents to start a business, or to get your education.  Only if you absolutely have to, obviously.  Which is breathtakingly clueless.  In Mitt’s circle, of course parent’s have 5 or 6 digit sums available to loan their offspring.  That’s what he knows, because all his friends have told him that.  Heck, he had to struggle along by selling the stock his father gave him.

Which is not what most parents can do.  It’s not they wouldn’t be willing, it’s just that they don’t have thousands of dollars available to loan their offspring.  They’re doing well if they have enough to live on, and some set aside.   But in Mitt’s circle, a few grand given (or loaned) to your children is “no big deal.”  They had parents who were well-off and could provide them with connections and a starting point ahead of others.  In effect, many of them started off on the third or fourth leg of a relay race, and are wondering why the guy back at the starting line isn’t able to get to the finish line like they did.  Even “failure” isn’t as harsh for them as it is for those who don’t have their advantage.

The problem for them is not that people are “jealous” of their good fortune, it’s the fact that they never feel an urge to step outside of their circle, and learn to understand how fortunate (and often lucky) they are.  When they do try to “connect” their own experience to what everyone else experiences, they just demonstrate that they really don’t get it.   Because if they did, they’d also realize just how insulting they are.

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20 responses to “The Wealthy Really Don’t Get It

  1. I think the distance Romney has shown between himself and most of the country is something that should be taken as a very important indicator of his potential policy for the country in the future. It’s no secret he has made some huge gaffes on this but the amazing thing is he continues to make them. That makes me very nervous about not only him but the people he is putting around him during his campaign to advise him. Is there really no one giving him advice and saying “hey, you might want to play down the rich stuff a little more and at least attempt to look a little more like a normal person”? I just wonder, if he has no one smart enough around him to do that now, what will his cabinet and other political appointments look like? Really can’t be good for most of us going forward.

    • I think he has those people, the problem is that when he tries to act like a normal person, he only demonstrates that he’s not. One of the best examples was when he was trying to connect to NASCAR fans, and the only way he could think of to do that was to talk about his friends who own NASCAR teams. 🙄

    • aquagranny911

      I’ve said this before but will share again. I really think that Mitt has a form of Asperger’s Syndrome on the autism scale. His behavior can’t only be due to his rich & privileged Mormon upbringing. In unstructured situations, he is oblivious to social cues, can’t relate to people in appropriate ways & doesn’t even seem to care. It reminds me so much of those I have worked with diagnosed with Aspergers.

      Yes, he is frightening but he won’t be elected no matter how much money Kochs, Norquist & Rove throw on their sad little “muppet” so he can “just sign his name to laws” they make.

      All I can say is if you are scared, you should be but the best way to deal with fear is to work hard for President Obama & Dems. That’s what I will be doing.

  2. aquagranny911

    Excellent diary, thank you! Romney’s recent comments made me so angry & they just served to underscore how clueless he is about the lives of even average Americans, much less those who struggle with poverty or systemic racism.

    It reminded me of a time when I told one of my daughters that I didn’t have the money for something & her response was: “Well just write a check” She can be forgiven for that comment since she was only five years old then. Romney doesn’t have that excuse.

    I do have to say that not all of the rich people are like this. I’ve known a few who were very mindful of the advantages they had been given that others had not.

    OT: Good to have you back even for a brief while. I was off to Cinco De Mayo celebrations yesterday so I’m catching up today. I got a laugh from yesterday’s diary because Hubby took over a lab from someone like your “Horder” & was pulling his hair for weeks trying to clean it up.

    • No, not all wealthy people are like this, but it seems to be a lot more common than in the past. One of the old lines used to be kept in mind was “there, but for the grace of God, go I.” The entitlement (or entitled) mentality they have really comes down to “I deserve this, because I’m smarter, work harder, and took risks, while poor people didn’t.” 🙄

      • aquagranny911

        True but I do try to be fair. This attitude bothers me a lot too & you are right that it is getting worse. Why do you think this is? I’ve asked myself this & can’t come up with clear answers. I’m sure a lot of it is because of the freebooting the rich have been allowed to engage in over almost 40 years. But that sense of entitlement has just gotten so blatant. Ann Romney’s: Mitty deserves to be Prez because “It’s our turn” is a prime example.

        The Romneys are like poster children for all that ugly of rich guy entitlement & disregard for the struggles of others.

        • In some ways, I think it’s an outcome of the entire “enhance their self-esteem” bit that was popular in parenting magazines. If you’ve been told all your life you’re “special” – that is, “better” than everyone else, then you act like that. Add in the lack of experiences that used to be a leavening – things like the draft, or “start in the mailroom” – along with only socializing with those who have the same background/experience, and you’re not as able to understand that you “lucked out.”

          • aquagranny911

            The problem with the “draft” is that often rich kiddos were able to dodge that, especially during Vietnam war. Examples being Romney & the baby Bush. Even McCain got special treatment because of his father & grandfather.

            I know that my brothers & Hubby who were all subject to the draft considered their military experience an important part of their lives whether that just served a short time or went career.

            Just as a side note, I told all my children that they were very special to me & that I loved each of them “best” but this meant they would have to work hard to keep “their special place” I had high standards & they knew it. Good self esteem is one thing. Creating little princelings and princesses is something else.

            I’m grateful that we moved a lot & that my kiddos had contact with a lot of different cultures & people. This was good for all of them & they make me proud every day.

            Thank you for your thoughts on this.

          • There’s a difference between that, and what I’ve seen on several occasions. One of the few times I’ve had to fire someone was a person who had a very high opinion of their capabilities. I happen to know (I met them) that his parents had given him that impression that his opinion of himself was correct. No one else shared that opinion, and it’s the only time I’ve ever been happy to fire someone.

    • OT: My “hoarding” is things we actually use regularly. It’s a habit I picked up in the military, where budgets could be hot or cold, so you always tried to have a “buffer” to get you through the “cold” times. In my previous assignment, I had a stock of lumber (new), a selection of valve replacement parts for the valves that kept needing them, and other non-perishable supplies that were in daily or weekly use. That way, if we (as often happens) were told “there’s no money for that now,” we weren’t out of luck. Otherwise, if I don’t know what it’s for, if I can’t think of a use right away, and it’s been sitting there for a while, it’s in the trash.

      • aquagranny911

        Lol, there is hoarding and then there is just being prudent. Each person figures out where that line is for him or her.

        • One of the things that made them tell stories about me around here was when I walked in with a request for lumber so we could finish building some footbridges. The supply clerk was really busy, and she said “we have it out back, just go get it.” Which I did. A week later, a truck pulled up with a load of lumber, and the driver said “This is the lumber you ordered.” I simply said “Oh, good! Put it down there in the shed!” 👿

  3. I see the ‘entitled’ attitude in my second grade class. Students and parents who are completely happy with whatever the child is doing. IF a rule is broken there must be some good reason why it is not their child’s fault. This is more common than it used to be.

    • aquagranny911

      Mary, I have been hearing this a lot from teachers & others. I really don’t understand how parents can do this. They are failing in their job as parents. A child, even when very young, must be held accountable & have consequences for his or her own actions. This is how children learn to have self discipline, moral principles & courage to stand with true self esteem to be the best that they can be.

      • aquagranny911

        I have to add that those consequences need to be appropriate to the age of the child not punitive & reactionary as some ridiculous things I have seen recently.

  4. Vic78

    I remember when Trump was going off on that birther nonsense last year. He said something that was telling. He said something about a lot of his friends’ children were smart but couldn’t get into Harvard. How could “that one” get into Harvard while they couldn’t? Maybe his friends couldn’t hack it.

    I do see a weakness if you have to compete against them. They aren’t used to the possibility of disappointment. So they’re takien by surprise when things don’t go their way. These pricks think that giving money to Rove and Romney Superpacs will help them this year. It’s like a bully messing with the little guy that’s a world class martial artist. They are set up for a shock.

    • That’s why I said “failure” isn’t as harsh for them. They’ve always had parents (and equally wealthy friends) who are willing to helicopter in and take care of things for them. Mitt’s friend who started a business with money borrowed from his parents? Well, it’s a pretty safe bet that if the business had failed, he’d now be a highly-paid executive at some firm, instead of penniless and out on the streets.

  5. On the entitlement mentality: our tea party Governor here in Maine is pushing through pension reforms that cut what state workers, teachers, etc. can get. He made his own pension plan immune from the changes. He’s complained that salaries to head state bureaucracies are so low that he can’t get quality people to fill them.

    • :::speechless:::
      But of course the teachers, et al, will be happy to work for slave wages and pathetic benefits.

    • Exactly. It’s the mentality of “They are worth it!” while “other people” aren’t. One of the other aspects they managed to overlook is that frequently they “vest” in the pension plan immediately, while others have to work a defined period (usually several years) to do so.