Friday, August 19, 2011

The "Evil Rich"

I was skimming over one of Neal Boortz's recent diatribes on the subject of class warfare—skimming, not reading, because I've seen it all before, but he said something a few paragraphs in that caught my attention (emphasis added):
Let’s take a moment to look at these selfish, cold-hearted rich people, shall we? In November of 2010, Bank of America and Merrill Lynch released a study on philanthropy among high net worth households .. or as the progs like to call them, the evil rich.
My immediate impulse wasn't to wonder if he's wrong, but to wonder just how wrong he is. I did a Google search for "evil rich" (in quotation marks),[1] and I scanned through page after page of results until finally, at hit #68, I found the first non-facetious use of the term. It's a post on a forum called Surfing the Apocalypse, arguing (sincerely, as far as I can tell) for some sort of class action suit "against the evil rich people to stop them from doing the evil deeds they do to everyone else."

Pressing on, I found one more at #90: A post on a gaming forum that refers to Rupert Murdock as a "Super evil rich guy".

And…that's it for the top 100.[2] Two. Neither of which come from sites overflowing with influence and credibility, to put it politely. In the remaining 98 results—excepting a four-year-old New York Post article about the arrest of an "evil rich" Syrian arms dealer (who, by all accounts, is in fact both evil and rich), a handful of cases where "evil" ends a sentence and "rich" begins the next, and one baffling LinkedIn profile—the term is used exactly as Boortz used it. Not to denounce the wealthy for perceived immorality, but to mock and criticize those who support progressive policies.

Moving on to a more inherently political setting, I found four cases of the term being used on the House or Senate floor in the last 20 years. One is off-topic for the same reason as that Post article.[3] Here are the other three:
Representative Jack Kingston (R-GA), Dec. 20, 1995
Here are 89 percent of the people in America who will benefit from the $500 per child tax credit, and almost 90 percent have a family income of $75,000 or less. These are the rich people. So I guess what the extreme left is telling us is that if you make $75,000 or less, as the gentleman from California said, if you got a job, they do not like you. You are one of those big, bad, evil rich.
Representative Cliff Stearns (R-FL), July 22, 1997
Madam Speaker, the Republican Congress has passed real tax relief for all middle-class taxpayers at every stage of their lives, from child tax credits to estate tax reform. We are doing the right thing. Meanwhile, the President is trying to change the debate with this new `imputed rental income formula.' But the truth is in the numbers; and no amount of imagined, imputed income will turn hard-working middle-class Americans into what the President calls the evil rich.
Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), July 29, 2011
To suggest that a debt crisis triggered by $14.3 trillion in debt can be fixed by taxing the luxuries of evil rich people is so childish and lacking in seriousness that the President should have been called out on it immediately. But he wasn't. He was allowed to get away with it.
All Republicans, all conservative, all mocking their ideological opponents—none of whom, as far as I can tell, actually called rich people evil. So yeah, I think Boortz is wrong. It's a little overwhelming, really, how flagrantly wrong he is. And I haven't even brought up all the times the phrase has been used by Boortz himself on his own site.

Not to get all this-seemingly-minor-thing-is-a-microcosm-of-a-much-more-serious-problem here, but this seemingly minor thing is a microcosm of a much more serious problem. And it's not the shameless strawmanning—that's just a regular-size problem. The bigger problem is that I'm not sure conservatives even realize they're doing it anymore. It's like they've forgotten that these strawmen aren't real.

Liberals, for their part, portray conservatives as inhabitants of a fantasy world where the free market always works and the rich are always job creators, and that's not entirely fair either, but it shouldn't be overlooked that the demons conservatives do battle with are often imaginary. Nor should it be overlooked that they created these demons in order to condemn the politics of class warfare—that is, the politics of fostering divisiveness by demonizing those who are different.

1. Could I have reached more meaningful conclusions by opening up the searches to slight variations in the phrasing? Probably, but I have neither the time nor the inclination to go down that rabbit hole, and I doubt the results would have been substantially different.
2. I thought I had another one with hit #70, a post on a Minneapolis-St. Paul forum:
This evil rich man has a mansion and his kids are long grown and out. He has an indoor pool that doesn't get used. So this past weekend my sister's kids wanted to go swimming so I drove all the way to Orono to use this man's pool. We get to the door and he sees us with our floats and says "what the F#ck?" right in front of the kids. I demanded since he is so rich that he needs to let us in to use his pool. We get into an argument and now the kids are crying. His wife called the police and they showed up like I was a bank robber.
That's just part of an outlandish, implausible story that reeks not of progressivism, but of a narrow-minded conservative attempting to channel a progressive's thought process. Sure enough, later in the thread:
Thank you to all that replied!

This post was created as part of a study for my class. We were told to put up similar posts on random forums - in key business markets around the country to get reactions from the masses.

When this was posted in business friendly areas (low taxes, right to work, etc) like major metro areas in AZ, FL, TX, TN, SC, etc, there was a far better rate of reply. More importantly those replies would immediately condemn the liberal entitlement mindset. . . . In areas like Minneapolis people are either to afraid to speak out against this persons illegal actions and entitled mindset, or sadly support it.
3. According to Rep. Rob Andrews (D-NJ), the people who hunted down and killed bin Laden "sent a powerful message to any other evil rich person that wants to target the United States of America that such targeting is an act of suicide." Like I said, not really what we're talking about here, though the reference to bin Laden's wealth does seem a bit superfluous. Would he have been treated differently if he had been poor?


  1. Great article. I was googling "evil rich" as my Conservative FB friends keep using that sarcastically. And I wanted to find out if any liberal actually ever called rich people evil as I've never heard one do so. Glad I stumbled onto this because it fits my sentiments exactly.

  2. I'm more liberal than conservative to be sure. However I do side MORE with the conservatives with regard to 'smaller government' (though they seem to be only doing 'lip service' to that of late than actually shrinking government... unless to do so would make a liberal look bad - Bush grew the government, didn't he?) And fiscal responsibility and 2nd Amendment. Otherwise... pretty sure I'm going to agree more w/ the liberals. And I don't think rich necessarily = evil. Far more likely to = intelligent, savvy, greedy and/or amoral. You've all read that most CEOs/successful people (like filthy rich successful) are likely psychopaths or at least test out that way, right?

    I am by NO MEANS saying rich = psychopath... but would certainly make that easier. And I'm not saying either that Mitt Romney is a psychopath... but some of the things they appear to have done at Bain make that argument carry more weight. I mean if they made 100 million from closing a business couldn't they spare a COUPLE million to help train the displaced employees or a nice severance or something? Just build a stage so we can tell you to get the hell out you're fired? Seems rather psychopathic to me.