Why Populist Outrage Fails to Accept the Hard Work of the Rich


America is seemingly becoming a vindictive society overwhelmed by class warfare. The have-nots in the country are exasperated that a small percentage of the population is enjoying life while so many in America are struggling. Populist frustration manifests itself in speeches by the president, who, not so subtly, has been stoking the flames of discontent. Members of Congress and the media enthusiastically support the leader’s efforts to reconfigure the economic landscape of America.

Since the birth of this nation, capitalism has played a critical role in our country’s staggeringly successful economic accomplishments. The Protestant Ethic of hard work and innovation has enabled even the most modest among us to prosper greatly. For over 200 years, immigrants have come to America to start a new life resulting in the evolution of a huge middle class that impacts our society in so many positive ways.

The drive to get ahead, earn more money and improve one’s social status is a beautiful concept that is shared by most Americans. Moving up the ladder of success in our meritocracy is what motivates the vast majority of us. Receiving promotions and higher compensation in competition with one’s peers is not a bad thing; it is capitalism.

But today, our top elected officials and radical media pundits want to stifle our national work ethic. They want the rich to have less and the poor to have more and are trying to legislate and regulate their ideologies, which will morph our society into a socialistic state. In no uncertain terms, the massive redistribution of wealth in the country espoused by the left is the precursor to a state in which our careers all move in lock step, where we all live in the same homes and our lives are indistinguishable from our neighbor’s lives.

President Barack Obama is emblematic of a very dangerous sentiment that has overcome certain Americans. He wants health care for everyone even though our country cannot afford it. He wants to cap wages. He wants to increase taxes on the wealthiest 2% of Americans in lieu of decreasing waste that could be eliminated in every entitlement program. He wants to take down the banks by banning legitimate forms of profitable risk-taking activities. He wants to disembowel oil companies because their profits are "too high." He wants to make it more costly to pass on our wealth to our children. And so on. All these initiatives lean toward socialism and will make our country less competitive in the years ahead.

There is a warped perspective among the have-nots that those who earn high salaries do not deserve them or that “nobody should earn ‘that’ much money." Does any one believe that an individual can earn a high wage without providing a high level service to his or her employer? Do people really believe a bank, an oil company or a health care organization would pay a person a lot of money if they were not making value added contributions to the company equal to a multiple of their compensation?

Fortunately, the last election seated enough new Republicans in the House of Representatives to stymie the populist movement. Demagoguery of our most successful business people is unfair and unproductive.

Photo Credit: Nick Nishizaka Photography