The elites are different
AMERICAN author F. Scott Fitzgerald of The Great Gatsby fame is said to have had a conversation with the equally famous American author ernest Hemingway.
Fitzgerald is reputed to have said: “The rich are different from you and me. They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them, makes them soft where we are hard, and cynical where we are trustful. They think, deep in their hearts, that they are better than we. Even when they enter deep into our world or sink below us, they still think that they are better than we are. They are different.”
In reply, Ernest Hemingway is quoted as saying: “Yes, they have more money.” The two are best friends briefly and later acrimonious rivals.
That story is not factual, although the quote from Fitzgerald is in his short story The Rich Boy. In Hemingway’s original version of The Snows of Kilimanjaro printed in 1936, he writes the following: “The rich were dull and they drank too much. He remembered poor Scott Fitzgerald and his romantic awe of them and how he had started a story once that began, ‘The very rich are different from you and me.’ And how someone had said to Scott, Yes, they have more money. But that was not humorous to Scott. He thought they were a special glamorous race.”
In a real sense we are all like Tiny Tim in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, looking through the window of the rich man’s house at the servants with the family gathered around the dinner table, and then going home to more humble “middle class” surroundings. We admire—with a strong hint of jealousy—the wealthy. But that jealousy turns to real or imitation anger when we read about the richest man in the world—or his customers—buying a trip to space.
But then again, wouldn’t most of us like to have that or a similar ridiculously expensive experience? There is outrageous indignation at a rich guy spending $20 million to send his son to space but not a whisper about the $30 billion Japan is spending on the Olympics instead of “feeding the poor.”
But look at the millions cheering for their home team. Roman poet Juvenal wrote about that 2,300 years ago. “From long ago, from when we sold our vote to no one, the People have abdicated duties; and now anxiously hopes for just two things: bread and circuses.” Or free Wi-fi and the Olympics?
The 3 percent are convinced that the 97 percent are deplorable and “bobotante” and can be sold on any idea. Paraphrasing Voltaire in Questions sur les Miracles (1765), “Those who can make you think what they want you to think, can make you want what they want you to want.”
However, collectively we may be much wiser than the elite give us credit for. And note, the “elite” are not necessarily rich; but like the rich, they think they are better than the rest of us.
The United Nations surveyed 9,728,919 people across the world on “What matters most to you?” Sixty-five percent said, “A Good Education,” followed by 55 percent for “Better Healthcare.” Twenty percent answered, “Taking Action On Climate Change.” Would the elite have answered the same? Yet, whose taxes pay for everything?
But the rich truly are different. Fifty-three percent of the “upperclass” are college graduates versus 31 and 15 percent, respectively, of the “middle” and “lower” class. Forty-four percent of the “uppers” have “excellent” health. Only 32 percent of Middles and 15 percent of Lowers say the same.
“It doesn’t matter about money; having it, not having it”: Musician Billy Idol—net Worth: $60 million. Some of us disagree.