We watched the movie "2012" last night and I was incensed that the arks held all the billionaires in the world that could buy their way to safety after the pole shift. My husband, on the other hand, thought it was okay because they were the ones that had to come up with the money to build the arks in the first place. I realized we have very different ways of looking at wealth in our home, and in our society. There are those that are happy for anyone that can "make it" and believe they deserve whatever their money can buy - after all they earned it - and there are those that see the world as being a place that should be more equitable, with tax structures set up to make sure that happens. It has divided our nation and other cultures.
So I set off to see just who these nouveau riche were exactly, and what I found out was rather surprising, and not at all what I expected.
I found my information from an article appearing in Atlantic Monthly (in April) regarding a new study from Boston College and from the book "Richistan" by Robert Frank. It would make this post too lengthy to write about all of my findings here, but I couldn't resist a few interesting facts:
The segment of richest Americans is growing and creating an hourglass shape to our society with the richest at the top, the penny-pinching middle class in the middle, and an expanding underclass. There is no doubt that the top 1% of our society now owns a disproportionate amount of the wealth. They are the ones that are buying so many luxury items that they are literally propping up our economy. But they are also giving away more money to charitable organizations than ever before. In fact from 1995 to 2005 it was double the amount given away. They tend to be people who have made their money themselves, it was not inherited. They like to think of themselves as just average people - with money, of course. But they worry about many of the same things we all do - the environment, education, whether or not their children will grow up to be decent human beings. Many are giving large portions of their wealth away, realizing that they cannot spend it while they are alive and not wanting their children to become creeps.
They have also changed the face of politics. They tend to be more liberal, and most are Democrats, having been educated in schools located in Boston, New York, Washington, Austin, Denver, and Seattle. Having grown up in the 1960's they also are more sensitive to the underclass and minorities. They want to swing politics in a direction that does not just add to their own wealth, as most of the rich have done in the past, in fact they have so much money that they are more concerned with future generations. They have spent millions to fight poverty, improve the environment, fix inner cities and cure disease. They see government as a tool for more aggressive social agendas, hoping to protect the advantages they had growing up.
Tomorrow I will talk about the cons with this group of uber-wealthy individuals, and how they are changing the world.