Barack Obama is known for his tolerance and his embrace of almost every aspect of human diversity. But he and his Vice President, Mr. Biden, have recently found themselves in the awkward and regrettable position of openly espousing at least two blatant prejudices. They do not like those who make too much money and they do not appear to tolerate anyone who disagrees with them on this point.
Who are these culpable rich? We have known for some time about the rapacity of Wall Street, big oil companies, speculators, and the big banks; and recently we have heard from Mr. Biden about 120,000 families making more than eight million a year. A broader test is to look at gross income. You may be surprised to know that in some circumstances you're rich if you make more than $250,000 a year; other times you need a million. But, while there has admittedly been some minor confusion over who is rich, the administration has been crystal clear on one point: the rich need to give some of their wealth back.
Why? Because it's the right thing to do. Mr. Obama remembers being poor. He didn't like it. Besides, for too long the rich have been playing by a different set of rules than the rest of us. Cheating, in other words. While the President himself does not say it directly, we are fully justified in reaching this conclusion. Because if the rules that the rich used were legitimate, then everyone would switch to that set of rules and become rich too. This illegitimacy of the path to becoming rich is why the President was forced to chastise them for attributing their wealth and success to intelligence and hard work. There are a lot of smart, hard-working poor people too. His logic is unassailable: if everyone is equally capable, inequality must arise from a lack of fairness. You didn't build that; someone else did that, he further explained for those who still didn't understand.
What to do? When the children don't play fair, an adult must step in and ensure the correct outcome. Thank God there is an adult with a plan. Unlike the foolish Republicans who say they want to make everyone rich, the President's solution is to level the playing field, a more practical approach and one that has been used elsewhere. Think of it this way. The economy is like a game of Giant Steps. If you forget to say "May I" before you get rich, you have to take two steps back. That allows those who actually follow the rules to catch up. It makes perfect sense. If we can't make everyone rich, let's make the rich a little less so. Spread the wealth around.
Admittedly, this isn't a foolproof economic plan, and some fools on the right continue to throw facts and numbers at the President, forcing him to defend himself with his own opposite facts and numbers. The truth is that the President himself knows that if we reduce all those rich families to naked paupers and close the banks, it won't do much to lower the deficit. But this isn't the point, after all. The point is that the President's philosophy will make the majority of people feel really good for a while, knowing that their suffering is the fault of greedy, cheating millionaires who don't pay their fair share. And they can take further comfort in the President's promise, that, if elected, he will have the IRS pay them all a little visit.