The Left's Scrooge McDuck Mythology of the Wealthy
On a sidewalk in Monterrey, Mexico -- a rich (by Mexican standards) industrial city in the northern state of Nuevo Leon -- a kid, reasonably well-dressed with clean clothes and flip-flops, approaches an American and asks, "Por favor, usted me da dinero para la escuela?" (Will you please give me money for school?)
In southern Mexico, a 6 year old -- without any clothes -- approaches an American, "Usted puede darme dinero para comer?" (Can you give me money to eat?)
In the Kabul Green Zone, a clean-cut boy in a new school uniform -- dark blue slacks with a light blue polo shirt -- catches up to some Americans walking between bases. With some shock, one American realizes this is the same boy who, just yesterday, was caked in dirt and wearing tattered clothes while begging for a dollar.
In Manila, kids offer to serve as guides, sell flowers, flag down a taxi for pesos, or just beg. Their poverty runs the gamut from well-dressed, well fed, and clean; to fed and relatively clean-cut kids wearing torn hand-me downs in the squatter areas; to filthy, near feral looking pre-teens without any clothes whatsoever.
One consistency is their view of foreigners -- Americans, Europeans, Japanese, and Koreans -- as wealthy beyond imagination. Foreigners are so wealthy, many are offended -- or even angry -- if the foreigners fail to leave a trail of money.
Why do these children feel foreigners owe them money?
Scrooge McDuck is wealthy. Thanks to Disney's distribution, Donald's rich uncle is known the world over. Everybody knows about McDuck's multi-story vault with a diving board, and how he literally "dives in," swimming through his fortune of gold bars, silver coins, and hundred dollar bills.
The money is just sitting there. Never mind Scrooge McDuck earned the money; he isn't using it, so McDuck doesn't need it. In fact, McDuck would still be rich if he gave over half of it away to those who really need it -- like kids in Mexico, the Philippines, and Afghanistan. Obviously, the rich foreigners, like McDuck, are selfish jerks for not sharing their 'luck.'
Reasonable adults can forgive the naiveté of poorly educated kids who don't understand finance. Educated people know Bill Gates, Steven Spielberg, Warren Buffett, George Soros, and Mike Bloomberg don't go swimming through their wealth in a high-rise vault like McDuck. Their money is invested; their wealth is primarily on paper. If the celebrity super-rich ever tried to liquidate their assets, much of the value would evaporate before they could click "sell". Even selling a small percentage of their holdings could cause key stocks to collapse, impact the wider market, and result in real -- not paper -- layoffs.
The challenge is the McDuck view of wealth is not restricted to poor kids in the third world. Aggressive panhandlers in San Francisco have been demonstrating an entitlement mentality for decades. These beggars target anybody who looks like they have a steady job, regardless of whether they are independently wealthy or working poor. The aggressive begging is a soft terrorism -- "give me money and I won't act crazy threatening you" -- justified by the beggar's belief they are owed something by anybody with a job. After all, in the mind of the beggar, the only difference between themselves, the working stiff, and the rich kid sporting a silver spoon is 'luck.'
Far worse, the "rich are McDuck" worldview infected middle class America. A systems engineer earning $100,000/year near Dallas remarked in late November 2008, "...it's time the rich start paying their fair share; poor people need help." For this Dallas engineer, anyone making over $250,000 a year is Scrooge McDuck, swimming through a fortune of hoarded loot. The fact productive Americans transferred over $15 trillion in wealth to the poor since 1964 is irrelevant. He is totally ignorant of real poverty where kids lack basic clothing and can't bathe. The "poor" of Dallas -- like most American poor -- have cars, cable TV, computers, smart phones, and are, more likely than not, overweight.
This engineer doesn't see himself as wealthy. He doesn't realize, an office manager making only $50,000 a year sees the engineer as McDuck. In turn, a person living in public housing likely sees anybody above their station as Scrooge McDuck, sitting on more money than they know what to do with, selfish to the core, winners in life's lottery.
The McDuck view of wealth is static and only sees money as physical. These poorly educated people don't understand money stuffed in a mattress loses value through inflation. They don't understand invested money increases in value, grows jobs, and creates more opportunity for everybody.
For people who believe wealth and opportunity are simply the results of a birth lottery, what is the incentive to work harder? They are zombies, feasting off the productive. For the zombies, people who earn more are not paying their fair share. In the McDuck worldview, to advance, others must be pulled down. This mindset explains why "taxing the rich" is a non-negotiable demand of their leaders, even when history shows increasing tax rates lowers tax revenue, while lowering tax rates historically increases tax revenue.
As Mark Levin says, they are drones.
Listen to Ronald Reagan's 1981 inaugural address where he explains the injustice of the tax system, "Those who do work are denied a fair return for their labor by a tax system which penalizes successful achievement and keeps us from maintaining full productivity." Reagan understood how wealth was created. Instead of dividing citizens along class lines, stoking anger and fomenting envy with talk of "fair shares," Reagan -- throughout the speech -- appealed to all Americans with a vision of increasing prosperity shared by all.
In his farewell address, George Washington spoke at length about the importance of uniting America. Washington also counseled Americans "it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened," and the "general diffusion of knowledge" is "an object of primary importance" because of public opinion's influence on government. When the citizenry learns all they know about finance from Disney cartoons, the Republic is threatened.
Breaking up the class divisions requires debunking the McDuck mythology and educating Americans about wealth, wealth creation, and how wealth creates jobs. Like Reagan, any future leader who hopes to reunite the country, must offer a vision of shared prosperity, instead of shared misery and revenge.