Ad-Express and Daily Iowegian, Centerville, IA

February 6, 2014

Is it guillotine time for the rich?

Raging Moderate
by Will Durst

---- — F. Scott Fitzgerald famously wrote that the rich are different from us. To which Hemingway indirectly snorted, “Yes, they have more money.”

And now seems like a good time to offer up a few words of sympathy for the rich. Because our wealthy brothers and sisters are going through some tough times. Not financially. No, no, no. They’re doing pretty good on that end. Last year the stock market shot higher than the 4:20 break at a Denver pot dispensary on Jerry Garcia’s birthday.

The fortunate among us are comfortable alright, but becoming increasingly uncomfortable, if you catch my drift. It’s us nasty poor people. Again. It appears that we’re picking on them. You know. Whining. Complaining. Jealous. Hungry. Rather than pulling ourselves up by the bootstraps like they did when their daddies left them all that money.

Cries of financial inequity have been so alarming lately that venture capitalist Thomas Perkins felt compelled to compare America’s poor to the Nazis. He wrote that while Germany’s 1 percent were the Jews, America’s 1 percent are the well-heeled. And did it in a letter to The Wall Street Journal. No surprise there. Where did you think he’d get it published? The San Francisco Chronicle? The Progressive magazine? Rachel Maddow’s blog?

Sporting a Richard Mille watch, which lists for $330,000, Perkins later apologized for using the term “Nazi,” but doubled down on his assertion that the rich are being demonized. The bellyaching billionaire: a uniquely American phenomenon. Pretty sure the Romanovs expressed similar sentiments. The Marie Antoinette Bakery has reopened and is proud to be serving day-old cake.

Apparently, acute affluence causes the outer epidermis to shrink profoundly. Causing the prosperous to exhibit super-sensitivity to the slings and arrows tossed at their outrageous fortune. To say that reaction was loud and swift is akin to implying that Mt. Everest slopes. Many malcontents called for the Perkins to have his analogy completed by tattooing a serial number onto his arm.

But in America, that anti-rich stuff doesn’t fly because folks worry that any restrictions on the loaded and bloated will come back to haunt them when their ship comes in and they themselves start rolling in it. Wealth projection. Another American exclusive.

A recent study revealed that 85 people in the world now control the same amount of wealth as half the population of the planet. Eighty-five people have as much money as 3.5 billion. Admittedly, some of those 3.5 billion people have taken a vow of poverty. But not all.

Four of America’s nine richest are members of the family that owns Wal-Mart. Really? Couldn’t they pay their workers a tad more and still be four of the top 30 richest Americans? Top 100? They have 2,200,000 employees and the last year’s profit was $17 billion. That’s almost $8K profit off every employee. Imagine how much more stuff Wal-Mart could sell if each employee made $2,000 extra?

They call sharks “eating machines.” And corporations are sharks that eat money. But even stockholders are starting to question the $100 million CEO salary. Although, it’s nice to know that when there’s a run on guillotines, Wal-Mart will stock a nice selection of attractively priced models. But if you want something extra sharp with a built in timer, might want to check out Richard Mille.

Will Durst is a political comedian who has performed around the world.