The Very Rich Are Different

Published April 16, 2019

Wealthy parents buying admission for their children to elite universities.  A prominent actor excused from trial in spite of damning police and grand jury  evidence.  Perceived preferential or deferential  treatment by our judicial system.  Politicians basking in the fruits of capitalism while publicly condemning it in favor of socialism.  What do they all have in common?  A passage from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 short story “Rich Boy” provides insight.

Let me tell you about the very rich.  They are different from you and me.  They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them, makes them soft where we are hard, and cynical where we are trustful, in a way that, unless you were born rich, it is very difficult to understand.  They think, deep in their hearts, that they are better than we are because we had to discover the compensations and refuges of life for ourselves. Even when they enter deep into our world or sink below us, they still think that they are better than we are. They are different.

A century later, those observations still ring true.  The rich think they are better than the rest of us poor folks, because they perceive themselves to be different and therefore superior.  They feel entitled.  Bribing to get the kids into college is no more than their pragmatic take on affirmative action.  Do something; do anything money can buy…money talks; lots of it just talks louder.  Angelo Codevilla’s 2010 The Ruling Class provides a considered insight into the heavy hand of money and claimed superior wisdom of those running our political system.

Another observation by Fitzgerald in that short story quote is that being rich not only makes them different, but also “makes them soft where we are hard.”  Does that not bring to mind the current demand for safe spaces, cringing snowflake students, and trigger alerts, lest a word provoke a mental breakdown?  Lyle Rossiter’s 2006 book The Liberal Mind: The Psychological Causes of Political Madness is a compilation of this psychiatrist’s interviews with hundreds of patients.  His conclusion is that modern progressives are suffering from their own form of mental illness.  The softness of which Fitzgerald spoke is Rossiter’s: “Like spoiled, angry children, they rebel against the normal responsibilities of adulthood and demand that a parental government meet their needs from cradle to grave.”

In the vernacular, they are a bunch of rich, spoiled brats who have aged chronologically but not matured mentally.  They march for saving the climate and the world with the same childish enthusiasm as kids chanting, “I scream for ice cream.”

Fitzgerald nails the blatant hypocrisy of the rich noting that when they fail or are proved wrong, “they still think that they are better than we are.”

Let us not judge them too harshly, for they are rich and they are different.

[Originally Published at American Thinker]