“I think it was around 2009 when an entire new vocabulary entered the American popular lexicon. Where did the 1% versus the 99% come from? From where did the new financial Mason-Dixon line arise — good below $250,000 in annual family income, very bad above it? When did the 47% — or is it the 50%? — pay no federal income taxes?
At some magical point, the rich became not the successful, the skilled, the well-inherited, the lucky, or the hardworking, but “them”: the suspect, the damned even, even as the lifestyles of the rich and famous became ever more sought after.
There are not just the rich and poor any more, but now the “good rich” (e.g., athletes, rappers, Hollywood stars, Silicon Valley grandees, Democratic senators, liberal philanthropists, etc.) and the “bad rich” (e.g., oil companies, CEOs, doctors, the Koch brothers, etc.). The correct-thinking nomenklatura and the dutiful apparat versus the kulaks and enemies of the people.
The president in his State of the Union damns the “billionaires with high-powered accountants,” as a friendly Facebook pays no state or federal taxes, as a George Soros walks away with $1.2 billion in speculation profits (in three months, no less!) by betting against the Japanese yen, and as a Jesse Jackson, Jr. gets caught stealing from a campaign fund to buy a $43,000 Rolex (was not a $1,000 one enough?). I thought Soros at his age knew when he had made enough money?
We shrug at all this. A president who thunders to the nation that we must be on guard against the “well-off and well-connected” heads south to Palm Beach to meet his $1,000-an-hour golf pro, while Michelle and the family go west to hit the slopes at “downright mean” Aspen, where no one accepts that they’ve reached a point where they’ve made enough money, or that there was any time when it was not good to profit.”