Rich And Poor — The New Racism?

This is a tough economy. It’s therefore totally appropriate that discussions of how to make the economy better should be the chief issue in the present election season. But along with legitimate expressions of how this might best be done a nasty undercurrent has crept into the debate. A kind of income and wealth-based neo-racism.

People’s intrinsic, their inherent worth, in this way of thinking, isn’t judged by their color or ethnicity. It’s based on how much they earn and how much they’ve accumulated. There are Alpha People at the top, superior folk. And there are lesser Betas, whose function is to serve or merely to wait for crumbs to be dropped from above.

One sees even more gradations in this way of dividing Americans. Gradations not based on skin tones or ancestry, but gradations akin to bond ratings.

You have Triple-A Alphas, ultra-productive worthies in the billionaire class, Double-A and A-Alphas in the millionaire and CEO grouping, along with various levels of Betas ranging from the tolerable (at least in election years) who work at marginally worthwhile vocations, and the lowest grade Betas fit only to feed on Social Security, veteran benefits, and food stamps.

When I worked as a Bloomberg News senior editor I had occasion to speak with and sometimes meet with multi-millionaires and billionaires. Did I down deep in the very depths of my secret soul ache to be like them, to become one of their number, to live the lives they were living?

No. Why would I feel that way? Why would anyone?

I was making a decent living and had a lot of other things in my life of far greater interest to me than making a huge fortune. Things I even considered more important to the common good (like raising a family and writing entertaining books). Most other Americans have their own set of such personal priorities, always have, always will.

As for the millionaires and billionaires I personally encountered at Bloomberg. Some were exceptional people with admirable qualities. Some were predatory jerks. The same broad range of diversity found in every other group I’ve ever encountered. The only thing that really set these people apart was that they had a lot of money.

Money as the be all, the end all of life? The man who dies richest wins? Stupid, vulgar, ungenerative ideas, even in a purely economic context.

Republicans seem to have fallen into the slough of wealth worship. It’s ugly, unseemly. America deserves better.