Kids

The Morning Call just shakes its head -- at everyone involved

Last week, on the day after Thanksgiving, the New York Times ran a long piece on the least thankful people on the planet, a group of idiot children who have been so coddled their entire lives that they have no idea what it means not to be coddled but are bound and determined to find out.  These “one-percenters” have been schooled in the nuances of “anti-capitalism” and are, therefore, extremely keen to end the capitalist system, ironically enough, using the beneficence of that system.  In a piece titled “The Rich Kids Who Want to Tear Down Capitalism,” the paper’s Zoe Berry notes the following:

Lately, Sam Jacobs has been having a lot of conversations with his family’s lawyers. He’s trying to gain access to more of his $30 million trust fund. At 25, he’s hit the age when many heirs can blow their money on harebrained businesses or a stable of sports cars. He doesn’t want to do that, but by wealth management standards, his plan is just as bad. He wants to give it all away.

“I want to build a world where someone like me, a young person who controls tens of millions of dollars, is impossible,” he said.

A socialist since college, Mr. Jacobs sees his family’s “extreme, plutocratic wealth” as both a moral and economic failure. He wants to put his inheritance toward ending capitalism, and by that he means using his money to undo systems that accumulate money for those at the top, and that have played a large role in widening economic and racial inequality.

Millennials will be the recipients of the largest generational shift of assets in American history — the Great Wealth Transfer, as finance types call it. Tens of trillions of dollars are expected to pass between generations in just the next decade.

And that money, like all wealth in the United States, is extremely concentrated in the upper brackets. Mr. Jacobs, whose grandfather was a founder of Qualcomm, expects to receive up to $100 million over the course of his lifetime.

Let’s break this down just a bit.  First, the paper says that Sam Jacobs “wants to give it all away.”  That’s not exactly true.  If he wanted to give it away, he could do so and no one would bat an eyelash.  He could fund a charitable foundation.  He could donate to worthy causes like food banks or jobs programs and heaven knows what else.  But he doesn’t want to “give it away.”  He wants to USE it.  And he wants to use it to assuage the guilt he feels about his grandfather’s success and to pursue his own political agenda.  That’s NOT giving the money away.  That’s spitting on his grandfather’s legacy to play politics.

And speaking of Jacobs’ grandfather, this is a guy who created a company that delivered – and still delivers – significant value to its clients, its customers, and its shareholders.  He didn’t steal anything from anybody.  He created value for society and was rewarded accordingly.  He advanced economic growth.  He provided thousands of jobs and the economic and tax windfalls that accompany them.  And he made people’s lives better and easier.  Yet his dimwitted grandson thinks all of that was evil.

The Times’ story continues in this same vein for some time, profiling other self-loathing spoiled children and the organizations that seek to separate them from their ancestors’ wealth.  The theme running throughout the story is that all of this somehow unique in world history, that these left-wing trust-fund-babies are somehow the result of a particularly pernicious moment in capitalism’s history.  For example:

“The wealth millennials are inheriting came from a mammoth redistribution away from the working masses, creating a super-rich tiny minority at the expense of a fleeting American dream that is now out of reach to most people,” said Richard D. Wolff, a Marxist and an emeritus economics professor at University of Massachusetts Amherst who has published 12 books about class and inequality.

We have made little effort to hide the fact that we dislike and resent the financialization of the capital markets and believe that a wealth transfer is, indeed, underway.  But this wealth transfer is not at all what the Marxists claim to have identified.  More to the point, we understand that the solutions to the present problems necessitate a return to rather than a further retreat from the spirit of capitalism.  As they are wont to do, the Marxists have everything backward.

The biggest problem here is that the poor little rich kids, their Marxist educators, and their media hagiographers are as bad at understanding and interpreting history as Marx himself was.

The presumption – in the Times article, in Dr. Wolff’s analysis, and on the Left in general – is that those who oppose and attack capitalism are almost always and almost by definition the great unwashed masses, the workers of the world, the oppressed and downtrodden proletariat.  But this is flatly untrue.  It’s a myth created and embedded in the civilizational consciousness by Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, and their fellow Young Hegelians.  Their historical and dialectical materialism presupposed that the proletariat would be the next revolutionary class.

The catch, of course, is that the proletariat refused to play along.  And the Left has, since at least World War I, been trying to explain away and justify this refusal.  The Gramsci-Lukacs school of Leftist thought explains it as a byproduct of cultural alienation, while the G.E. Moore-Hal Draper school explains it as the failure of and thus a need for much greater “socialism-from-above.”  The latter, Draper noted, is characterized by “the conception that socialism (or a reasonable facsimile thereof) must be handed down to the grateful masses in one form or another, by a ruling elite which is not subject to their control in fact.”

What makes all of this so important is that In BOTH cases, the upper classes – the students, the educators, the intellectuals, the elites – must constitute part of the revolutionary class.  Or, to put it more bluntly, after World War I, nearly all of the Leftists conceded that the workers of the world would never unite unless and until the bourgeoisie of the world explained to them how and enabled them to do so.  Therefore, in turn, from the Bloomsburies to the American New Left and now to the Millennial radicals, the educated and monied elites have led the revolution for a long, long time.

Additionally, as our friends over the Capital Research Center have pointed out time and time again since 1994, the problems associated with the scions of capitalism’s bounty using that bounty to undermine capitalism is anything but new.  As CRC’s Martin Morse Wooster put it in a 2002 update to his classic book The Great Philanthropists and The Problem of Donor Intent:

The gravest problem facing foundations today is the problem of donor intent. Why set up a foundation if, after you die and your friends and associates are gone, the foundation then supports causes that you oppose?

In my book, The Great Philanthropists and The Problem of Donor Intent, published in 1994 and revised in 1998, I looked at how such heroic entrepreneurs as Andrew Carnegie, Henry Ford, and J. Howard Pew, men who championed individual liberty and free market capitalism, created foundations that support expansion of the welfare state. Four years later, the evidence suggests that the Carnegie Corporation, the Ford Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, and the Pew Charitable Trusts continue to fund causes their donors would have opposed.

The goofy kids who want to save the world from people like their parents, the retrograde hippie-wannabe educators who teach those kids, and the media who gush over them all want to believe that what they’re doing is a unique and powerful phenomenon in human history.  And they want to believe that because it would confirm their preconceived notion that this time, it’s different; that this time, it’s worse than ever before and thus the system must be overthrown more urgently than ever before.

But they’re wrong.

Problems exist in the system, to be sure.  But those problems are NOT going to be solved by spoiled upper-class kids trying to destroy the system any more than they were solved by previous generations of spoiled upper-class kids trying to do the same.

In typical fashion, the denizens of the ruling class are unable to solve the problems of the world, in large part because they can’t see past the end of their noses.  They think it’s all about them.  They think everything is about them.  And they always have.

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