Friday, January 3, 2020

"An Unjust (Yet Powerful) Resentment"


I will say this straight out.

I hate wealthier people.

Adding immediately, “Although I have met numerous nice ones in my time.”

The thing is, I don’t actually hate them as people.

I just hate how much more money they have than I do.

Galling Example (and inciting incident for this post):

Watching the Major League Baseball Channel, I hear learned discussions of what it would take for teams to procure premium, available “free agents.”

A hundred and twelve million.   

Three hundred and eight million.

Superstar Mike Trout signed a long-term contract for four hundred and
thirty million. 

My brain is starting to explode.  They are talking like it’s Monopoly money.

“Two hundred million, plus Ventor Avenue and Reading Railroad.”

Don’t get me wrong.  I am not saying these top players don’t deserve those astronomical contracts.  It’s the “free market” – that’s how things work.  Besides, whatever they make, I know the team owners make more.  Many of whom are in real estate, where the question of “deserving’s” a more salient concern.

“I bought the building for eight, I sold it for nine, re-bought it for ten, re-sold it for twelve, re-bought it for fourteen, re-sold it for sixteen, re-bought it for eighteen, re-sold it for twenty.”

Add the word “billion” to those figures and the guy made seven billion dollars selling the same building four times.  

This is not entirely made up.  I heard a guy named Kerkorian bought and sold the MGM Studios multiple times.  Does anyone care?  No.  We have been schooled to ignore such shenanigans because it’s “Business.”  I guess I was sick the day they taught that.   

(That sounds a bit smug.  I make no claim to “moral superiority.”  It’s just, there are “cultural nutrients” my body seems unable to assimilate.)
   
So yes, some lines of work, you wonder, “How do get to buy sports teams, doing that?”  This, however, is not what I am talking about.

For me, it’s not about what money can buy.  

It’s about the money itself.

Not the disparity, per se.

More the “They have it, and I don’t.”

Let me put this in context so I sound loftier, not just unfathomably petty.

Historically, the envy of those with more is comparatively new.

When the word “class” actually had meaning, traditional “Blue Bloods” had “Blue Bloods” status, including, among other “perks”, mountainous “Blue Bloods”-type money. 

Regular people had pennies.    

In that age-old arrangement, there is nothing to be envious about.  You were what you were, and you weren’t what you weren’t.  A “low born” could marry into “Blue Bloods”, I suppose, but nothing was passed you anything at dinner, and they ignored you at parties.

Bound by immutable distinction, there is nobody to hate.  Unless they squeezed the peasants for taxes to refurbish the moat.  Then you take to the forest and practiced your archery.

Otherwise, it’s “They’re them and we’re us.  Move on.”

(Remember the Holy Grail line, “He must be a nobleman.  He doesn’t have shit on him”?  It was delineations like that.)

Flash Forward to Capitalism.

When all the “Blue Bloods” designations are erased and it becomes simply about money – acknowledging racial and cultural impediments I am speaking generically, leaving gaping exceptions in my argument – still, theoretically at least, when it is exclusively about money, there is no acceptingly “Knowing your place” because, in this alternate setup, there is no “place.”

In our culture, where the barring barriers of class having been removed, money – theoretically, again – is available to anyone.

Raising the question,

“Why don’t I have more?”

Or, turning it around so I don’t feel so terrible,

“Why don’t they have less?”

I mean, if there are no barriers,

What’s the problem?

It gets worse.

In “The Protestant Ethic”, I once learned, worldly prosperity affirms a “Select Status” by the Almighty.  Seeing others with more, I hear the Lord proclaiming,

“Not you.”

And there it is. 

The super-rich reflect not just “My pile is bigger than your pile”, which is annoying enough.  Their thriving existence denotes a Divine apathy towards me.

No wonder I hate them.

2 comments:

Wendy M. Grossman said...

There are still class distinctions within the wealthier class (bearing in mind that there are unquestionably people in the world who class you among them). "It's new money" is as disparaging today as it ever was.

wg

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