If the accumulation of power and money is an addiction, causing the wealthiest among us to never stop accumulating treasure, what is the treatment for this addiction? Sure, almost all of us could use a little more green, but when you become a multi-billionaire, what’s the cutoff point?
Perhaps the elite living among us (aka the “one percent”) could benefit from a little power-hoarding rehab. Of course, when I say “living among us,” I mean above us, in their mansions on the hill or their private jets soaring through the skies. Well, that’s really the elite among the elite, but you get the basic idea.
You might be thinking right about now that rehab for the one percent is a fool’s errand. Why would anyone in a position of influence and power give up one iota of his or her financial-wielding advantages?
History, as it turns out, is chock-full of warnings for the power elite. In China, when the emperors or the ruling class became too detached from the needs of the nation, or too corrupt, the sovereigns lost the “Mandate of Heaven.” In essence, God no longer backed them, which meant it was all right to overthrow and murder them. In revolutionary France, when the people became fed up with the selfish and arrogant ways of the monarchy, the monarchy was torn apart. Plenty of wealthy and up-to-that-point untouchable royal heads literally rolled — or dropped from the guillotine with an unsettling thud.
While we don’t have an official monarchy in America, we do have an incredibly affluent upper class laying claim to a disproportional chunk of our national wealth (about 40 percent). And as history warns, when the elites get out of touch with the needs of ordinary citizens, the common folk can revolt and rain bloody mayhem down upon their “one percent parade.”
A little money-grubbing rehab just might be the thing to get the privileged to pull back a tad. I’m not asking for anything too radical here. Capitalism is all fine and dandy, yet by taking a little less (outrageous bonuses, for example), which admittedly is hard to do, the one percent could actually be saving their own skins down the road. (Don’t starve and alienate the people working for you who also buy the products and services you sell.)
Don’t get me wrong here. The rich will still continue to operate as the most powerful people in the world, no matter what political system is in place. Yet by drawing a salary that will only let you purchase one super yacht per year instead of two, a little something could be left over in the collective kitty for the rest of us.
The results would be that the rich could still enjoy their money, but would have to worry less about the disenfranchised masses storming down their well-guarded gates. And speaking of gates, if you do happen to number among the one percent, you might want to give your gate guards a generous raise. Many a castle has fallen over the centuries simply because the people guarding it had no good reason not to open the doors.
Carl Pettit is a contributing journalist for TheBlot Magazine.