Down With ‘Down With The Rich’

Max Abelson went to an election party full of young Republicans on Tuesday night, and wrote about it for Bloomberg. The party was thrown by “Concord 51, a political-action committee of young professionals” focused on “economy, energy and defense — no social issues at all.” Members work in ”private equity, consulting, law, hedge funds and corporate strategy.”

There’s nothing explicitly mean in the article, and it’s not specifically making fun of anyone, but there are some details that are obviously meant to make us snicker: Guests drank vodka and grapefruit juice; wore “pink-striped Ralph Lauren shirts, Coach bags, Oliver Peoples glasses or black Gucci loafers”; and ate grass-fed burgers. 

And I snickered, yeah. I read each detail and nodded my head—dumb conservative rich people who work in finance, OF COURSE they’re wearing black loafers, of COURSE they have Coach purses. RICH PEOPLE, UGH, TERRIBLE. THE WORST.

But here is a thing that is EASY TO FORGET: The people I know who have money are all good people! Even the bankers! Okay I don’t really know many (any?) bankers, but I do know Matt Levine a little bit. I interviewed him for this site about how does money and found him to be totally approachable, personable, funny, kind—a really great dude. AND HE USED TO WORK FOR GOLDMAN SACHS. So maybe I met the one good dude in all of banking? I don’t think so. I think there is probably more than one. I think there are probably a lot.

Matt explained something to me in our interview that I keep revisiting, and I started thinking about it a lot after I read Abelson’s piece: “When I made $20,000 a year teaching right after college I had no problem talking about money, but now if I were to say what I made as a banker—which was pretty typical for someone in my role and my seniority—it would probably enrage everyone.”

And he’s right, right? I mean, it’s a pretty easy joke—RICH PEOPLE LOL. We do it sometimes on this site! It’s easy! It feels good! And it’s easy to feel antagonistic toward the young people in Abelson’s article—and I would guess that he does, too—because they have money. And okay, yes, they are also Republicans and so on that fact alone I can guess that we fundamentally disagree on a lot of things. But no one says anything heinous about women or gay rights or poor people. No one gives me any reason to dislike them, except that they make more money than I do.

It’s easy to hate people with money. But it’s also really dangerous. I’m going to try to stop.


26 Comments / Post A Comment

Mae (#1,769)

I guess I take issue with the assumption that Republican economic policies are distinct from (and less harmful than) their social policies. Screwing the poor, over and over, is a social issue. Demonizing labor unions is a social issue. Making life easier for rich people at the expense of the poor (who, not coincidentally, are less white and more female than other economic groups) and the working class is morally wrong, and, I think, not that different from opposing gay and women’s rights and hating immigrants.

Obviously, not all rich people support these policies. But these young Republicans? Fuck ‘em.

City_Dater (#565)


Until the GOP stops kowtowing to its (racist, homophobic) far right wing, there is pretty much no way for anyone to vote Republican and not be signing on to take away someone else’s civil liberties somewhere.

@Mae FWIW the US is the only country I’m aware of where “social issues” is a separate thing that means “abortion and gays.” Like, OK, you want to screw over one section of the population (say gay people), that’s regressive and wrong and silly. You want to screw over another section of the population (poor people) that’s a totally legitimate policy position.

Also, gun control is often considered a social issue. Which is insane.

Mae (#1,769)

@stuffisthings Yeah, I honestly don’t understand how so many kind of liberalish people believe that “fiscal conservatism” is benign.

Mike Dang (#2)

For me, I’m not critical of rich people because they are rich. I am critical of the bad things people do to get rich. Planet Money had a great podcast a few months ago about how even upstanding business people can end up doing some really bad things.

wearitcounts (#772)

@Mike Dang or bad things rich people do to stay richer than other people.

OhMarie (#299)

@Mike Dang I also feel like there’s a lot of this bagging on rich people thing when they are specifically arguing that they are not rich. Like, my husband and I together make about half of the $250k that’s bandied around a lot, and we live in a pretty expensive part of the country, and I feel pretty rich. But I see a lot of “whatever $250k is basically middle class” type of argument when it gets brought up.

@Mike Dang Yeah my dad is a Republican, pro-business, former businessman, and he talks all the time about how truly awful and immoral business people are. Like if you’re not screwing everyone over in every way possible, you are going to fail (often because someone has screwed you over).

For example: many firms will just straight up not pay invoices if they think they can get away with it. Stuff like that.

deepomega (#22)

Yeah it’s weird! Because I definitely know super selfish NOT rich people, too. Like, I got into a multi-comment Facebook argument with an ex-coworker about whether or not people on welfare are “welfare bums” taking her money, and I’m p sure she’s working close to minimum wage. Like there’s a good chance her tax burden is entirely FICA withholdings. And yet! Acting like a cartoon of a banker!

(And as has come up before I super empathize with being :( about the social pressures of talking about money. I think everyone, ever, should always talk about it, because it’s important, but I also feel like if I talk about what I make people are gonna get kind of mad at me? I would in their shoes! It’s complicated!)

@deepomega I don’t think someone’s salary is the ultimate issue — maybe if you or Matt revealed yours you would get nasty comments, but those people would be dickheads.

However, making a lot of money means that your economic interests are fundamentally different from those of everyone else in the country, and how you deal with that fact is what can make you a rich asshole versus just a rich person. I have a good friend who makes a lot more money than me (not plutocrat money, but enough that as a single guy he doesn’t really ever face financial pressure) and we joke about it a little, but generally it’s not an issue because he is a good person who understands his position of advantage and supports policies that will allow other people to get where he is, and take care of those who, for whatever reason, can’t.

probs (#296)

True, but even if economic policy somehow wasn’t itself social policy (which it is, as @Mae points out), it’s not like it exists in a vacuum from more explicitly social issues. They wanted to elect people who would do everything they could to keep same sex couples from marrying and women from getting abortions. The organization and its members aren’t washed clean of that just by saying “that’s none of our concern.”

peutetre (#2,641)

Matt’s statement resonated with me a lot. I think this was a really nicely-worded post, and I appreciate that Logan addressed this point. It would be interesting to see an article or two on the site about young people who make a substantial amount of money, and what types of budgeting concerns that brings up.

@peutetre I’d love to read that, too, but shit, if I were that person, I would NOT volunteer to write for The Billfold. Whenever people share their experiences with money in detail, they seem to always get slammed by commenters. Unless they’re living ascetic lifestyles with no debt and were raised poor.

I wish commenters would ease up, generally. How can we expect people to keep providing interesting content if we keep being dicks about how they choose to live their lives?

I don’t understand the bit about grapefruit juice? Shouldn’t this be like Veuve Clicquot? CAN THE PROLETARIAT NOT ENJOY JUICE BASED COCKTAILS NOW?

Also, I dunno, isn’t “defense” kind of a social issue frequently?

@Michelle LeBlanc@twitter Now if it was a vodka [insert vaguely-pretentious-but-brand-cocktail-snobs-scoff-at-here] and soda, I could see that. I joke. I joke.

Also, what’s wrong with Oliver Peoples glasses? Oh fuck. AM I REALLY A REPUBLICAN?

@Michelle LeBlanc@twitter Now that I think about it, most of the people I know who habitually drink vodka and grapefruit juice ARE Republicans. Weird!

Thanks Logan! But actually I’m kind of a jerk.

Titania (#489)

Max grew up in Westchester and went to Yale. I have no doubt that he knows plenty of rich people, and understands that they’re individuals and plenty of them are likable. This isn’t so much “down with the rich” as “Young Republicans are douchebags” which, I mean, they are.

I don’t know about hate on a personal level but the best possible thing for this country would be for everyone to realize that the interests of the rich are different from, and often opposed to, their own interests.

It’s cute how they think because they work in finance they know about the economy, though.

ValueEnriched (#2,646)

It’s still okay to hate Trump though, right?

Man, that guy is a douche!

Duuuude. What happened? I mean he was always a skeezeball, but does he really think currying favor with the hard far-right is the way to go? I can only assume that he’s being blatantly self-serving (has he ever been any other way?) but still it seems a little against-brand to me.

I guess he figured it would be the road to power, so he went for it cravenly, whole-hog. Really tried to glitter the turd, Then again, I guess that really is his style, so maybe… consistent with his brand? Still tho.

ValueEnriched (#2,646)

But as to your point Logan…

I totally encourage/support the fundamentals of what you’re saying. Dickishness should not be tolerated and community and fellowship should be fostered not frayed.

The basic question is not what resources you have per se, but how you are utilizing them. People WITH more resources have the potential for a greater impact. We’re struggling with darwinian forces… having to do with how adaptable and intelligent we are.

Some people are planning for how to get beyond the velvet rope/a ticket on the spaceship/into the biodome once it’s all fubar’d while others are planning for how to prevent things from getting to that point.

Enlightened self-interest is a thing, one that takes into account that it’s more enjoyable not to be surrounded by misery.

The aristocracy has traditionally been kind of socially cutthroat… and fun the way coke can be fun: it’s superfucking awesome until you scratch the surface and realize you’re a cokehead. Then you can either do more coke or…………

You can cut that shit out.

As for the middle class, well we all know that story. Comfortably lulled into somnolence, a problem that’s become less and less of an issue of late.

As for the poor… well, mostly they’re just lacking in resources. Primarily education. Somewhat by design… but that’s where the enlightened self-interest comes in. Because the poor ARE a resource. Or, conversely…. the poor can ALSO be a drain on resources. Depends to some extent which end of the looking glass you’re looking thru.

But yeah, the rich. Don’t hate. Any more than any other jerkface (including one’s own damn self at times). Maybe um, don’t hate, educate? Or liberate? Or at least, somewhat, try and tolerate… within reason. Which does NOT extend to institutional class warfare.

Something generally not perpetuated by the poor.

Just, if, you know what I’m sayin’. Mmmmm…. these caviar rolled lobster cakes are yuuuummmy.

(I kid, I kid. Enjoy the lobstercakes, kids. I’ve got nothing against haute cuisine).

frenz.lo (#455)

I guess I would feel more sensitive towards the rich if I felt like they devoted an iota of their own mental outlook to being more sensitive to me. I’m not so bad off or anything, and when you look at it globally,I’m rich as shit (and so are you, my lambs!), but part of my job is to not flinch when much wealthier people than me complain about how bad they have it. The sheer meanness of it is shocking to me. Someone whom I know to live in a multi-million dollar home will complain about how they simply can’t put any money aside in savings. People will say things like, “I tell you what, I’d be better off not working,” and launch (with extreme sincerity) into these tired old welfare queen tropes. Even wealthy people whom I know to be kind and compassionate will say things that reveal that they are on another planet when it comes to assessing wants vs needs, and extravagances vs necessities. Sometimes, I get through my day by pretending that being wealthy is a mental disorder, and that they can’t help the things they say.

revlovejoy (#2,650)

as the other commenters have pointed out, it has more to do with how these rich people deal with public policy issues rather than how they have money. these people sometimes complain about poor people “not working hard enough” and blah blah “tax money paying for welfare i hate it” so it’s hard for me to sympathize with them.

I never read so many stupid ill defined notions about money, rich and damn few references to wealth. The rich are at risk, the wealthy are not. Unpaid debt sinks the rich; the wealthy prepare for disaster. I will add that the rich seem to use scatological adjectives to enhance their points of view. But of course I am hopelessly 20th Century. The real measure of wealth is net worth, not the amount of debt you can carry.

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