I was reading Robert Reich’s book Reason and I stumbled upon a question that is rarely asked in public. The question is one that should come up, but it just seems that no one knows to ask it. Or, maybe it’s that people assume they know the answer and don’t want to seem prejudiced by asking it. That question is: Are rich people naturally morally superior to poor people?
This question should be asked because the way Republicans wage debate you’d think the answer was pretty clear cut: poor people are conniving, devious individuals who cannot be trusted. They are lazy and will do anything to get something for nothing. This is why we must make them pay more in taxes, make it harder (if not impossible) to get governmental assistance, and impose stiff regulations on how they go about their (personal) business. Rich people, on the other hand, should not be burdened with any regulations, should be taxed less, and any criticism about their moral character is “CLASS WARFARE”.
The next time someone says big business shouldn’t be regulated, but poor people should piss in a cup for food stamps, this question should be asked, “Do you think Rich people are just naturally righteous?” That can be the only explanation. “Do you think that Rich people are genetically different from poor (or even middle class) people?”
The evidence cited for not trusting the poor are welfare queens and people using food stamps but driving a BMW and owning a flat screen television. But the same behavior is exhibited by the rich. Donald Trump has declared bankruptcy 4 times and he still keeps starting new businesses. If an African-American declares bankruptcy he’d be considered a dead-beat (it’s why they changed the bankruptcy laws). If some random Mexican declared bankruptcy he couldn’t get a car loan, but Donald get’s a TV show about RUNNING BUSINESSES! When a poor person abuses the system he maybe siphons a few thousand tax dollars away. The banking industry ALMOST COLLAPSED THE GLOBAL ECONOMY! Don’t see the similarities. A poor person cheating welfare puts a car under another person’s name or gets a roommate to share expenses without telling the government. The Banks packaged subprime mortgages with Triple A mortgages to hide the Toxic Assets. Rating agencies lied about the toxicity of derivatives. As Dr. House would say, “Everybody Lies.” Rich people are just poor people with more money, lots more money. Any study of human nature reveals that the human drama is the same for both, just on different scales. One lies to get free food or cheaper housing, the other lies to sell stocks at inflated values. Both do it to get more for less.
So why are we supposed to regulate the Heck out of poor people but not rich people?
A simple probabilistic risk assessment would probably lead you to the same conclusion, the rich need more regulations than the poor. Rich people (not all, but some) cheat the system and when they do so it causes more damage than when poor people (not all, but some) cheat the system. If you think it’s more morally reprehensible to own a flat screen while on food stamps than to crash the global economy, then your moral compass is needs adjusting.