Rich Jerks Better For American Than Good Samaritans

Lets deal with it. Most of the movers-and-shakers in our history have been rich jerks. Rarely the good Samaritans. Evidence? Let me count the ways, including such well-heeled jerks as John Adams and Alexander Hamilton, on through such inelegant robber barons as J. P. Morgan and Cornelius Vanderbilt, down to our own Donald Trump, Marc Zuckerberg, Michael Eisner and Martha Stewart. In the Darwinian dynamics of capitalism, the fit not only survive, they end up sucking the blood out of the losers.

If you ever have to attend a national sales meeting [or as I did, write for them], the motivational speakers are almost always hired-guns slinging slogans like “More Is Never Enough” and “Go For The Gold.” NFL quarterbacks and General Patton impersonators are big on these circuits.

The goal-line or battle-line images being pitched have only one payoff: Making money! Then when the 1% become super-rich, they pretty much secede from America. They live in the splendid isolation of gated estates, private jets, and personal medical care. Our concerns about taxes, crumbling infrastructure, and Medicare have little meaning for them. A century ago we at least got some libraries out of Dale Carnegie. Today our super-rich give us lectures about being too entitled.

Einstein liked to say: “If you can’t explain it to a 6-year-old, you don’t understand it yourself.” Who am I to argue with Einstein! Trouble is, finding such crisp cogent explanations that can connect with a wildly uninformed electorate is no easy mission. Not even for the jerkiest of our super-rich candidates. And so their advisers in the backroom continue to work furiously to find the catch-phrase that will catch.

We’ve had a few in our political history. Recently: The New Deal…The New Frontier…Sunrise in America. Here in 2012? So far the high-paid campaign advisers have come up with squat. On the other hand, the high-paid comedians are nailing the issues for us in devastatingly accurate punchlines. Should Jon Stewart or Bill Maher be running instead…? OK, not for president; but at least vice-president…?

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