The website Politico is a mixture of news and gossip based on anonymous sources that seems to have access to well-connected members of the oligarchy and to the government-media establishment, so its most useful function is to serve as a window into the thinking of that group of people. Hence it was with some interest that I read the piece titled Why the rich are freaking out that says that some of the very rich see writing on the wall that disturbs them.
Economists, advisers to the wealthy and the wealthy themselves describe a deep-seated anxiety that the national — and even global — mood is turning against the super-rich in ways that ultimately could prove dangerous and hard to control.
President Barack Obama and the Democrats have pivoted to income inequality ahead of the midterm elections. Pope Francis has strongly warned against the dangers of wealth concentration. And all of this follows the rise of the Occupy movement in 2011 and a bout of bank-bashing populism in the tea party.
The collective result, according to one member of the 1 percent, is a fear that the rich are in deep, deep trouble. Maybe not today but soon.
“You have a bunch of people who see conspiracies everywhere and believe that this inequality issue will quickly turn into serious class warfare,” said this person, who asked not to be identified by name so as not to anger any wealthy friends. “They don’t believe inequality is bad and believe the only way to deal with it is to allow entrepreneurs to have even fewer shackles.”
And so the rich are lashing out.
In the latest example, Thomas Perkins, co-founder of legendary Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins, wrote a letter to The Wall Street Journal over the weekend comparing Nazi Germany’s persecution and mass murder of Jews to “the progressive war on the American one percent, namely the ‘rich.'”
As commenters in the previous posts have pointed out, in reality the poor, the working class, and the middle classes that have been brutally treated in the quest for greater riches for the super-wealthy have as yet nowhere near the numbers of activists and cohesion of action that would be necessary to overcome the massive power of the state that would be unleashed on them in the event of any serious uprising.
But I think the rich are right to be worried and a large amount of the credit has to go to the Occupy Wall Street movement. It may have been disorganized, even chaotic, but it its major achievement was to give the villains a name (the One-Percent) and a specific target (Wall Street and the financial sector) that were easily remembered and recognizable. That the Occupy movement was seen as a serious threat to the oligarchy can be seen by the way they set in motion a concerted effort across the nation to break it up.
But it has not gone away.
The phrases ‘one-percenters’, ‘income inequality’, and ‘living wages’ are everywhere. Even the phrase ‘class warfare’, which used to be seen as a pejorative, is no longer taboo.
So the rich are right to be freaking out. And I am glad that people like Tom Perkins are angrily lashing out. The more they do so, the more their true face is revealed. So I hope the Wall street Journal editorial pages and Fox News give plenty of space for such people to vent.