Communists and Rich Guys

My father was a fiercely independent individual who believed firmly in his opinions and lived by them, even if compromising a bit was easier.  The best example of that was his dislike for unions, which he objected to because, he said, They insist on paying everyone the same, regardless of the quality of their work.  As one of the best tool and die makers in the area, he was always in demand but he could have made more money if he was willing to work for a union shop.  This week, I received a political flyer on California’s Proposition 32 which would prohibit, among other things, automatic deduction of union dues from paychecks.  It is widely viewed as an effort to reduce the influence of unions, especially government worker and teacher unions, in California government.  I know exactly where my Dad would have stood on that.

When I was in junior high, our class was having our own version of a presidential debate.  The candidates were Dwight Eisenhower (R) and Adlai Stevenson (D).   I was assigned to the Republican side so I asked my father … a staunch Republican … for help in coming up with arguments in Eisenhower’s favor. He gave me what he thought was a silver bullet: Social Security, he told me, is socialism.  And socialism is just Communism.  His silver bullet went over like a lead balloon in our debate and I am very glad that by the time he was eighty, he’d eased his position enough to let his Social Security check enhance his lifestyle.  But my point is that there was a time that in political circles the worst name you could call someone was Communist.

The slug line on the Prop 32 flyer I received in the mail is VOTE NO ON 32:  Don’t Give Billionaires More Power To Write Their Own Rules.  We’ve spent over a year hearing about the Occupy Movement, which says We are the 99% … the 1% being Rich Guys.  To at least half of our citizens, Tax the Rich Guys is the solution to our nation’s economic ills and Mitt Romney has had to overcome the notion that because he’s a (very) Rich Guy, he doesn’t care about ordinary people.  There seems to be a perception that some people are middle class or poor because others are Rich Guys. We seem to have moved to a place where calling someone a Rich Guy is worse than calling them a Communist.

My father worked sixty hours a week to give us our own little house in the suburbs and a comfortable if basic lifestyle. Even in a middle class town like East Haven, Connecticut, we were probably on the lower half of the economic ladder, yet I don’t remember my father being jealous of wealth.  Oh, yeah, if someone cut him off in a Cadillac, he’d probably say, Look at the rich SOB, but if the guy was old, he’s have called him Gramps.  He had a name for everyone in situations like that.  But we also took rides along Ridge Road in Hamden because that’s where the rich people lived.  My Mom liked to look at the houses.  My Dad would say, What do these people do for a living? and Mom would say, I’d make a really good rich person, meaning she’d do a lot of good with her money.  Dad knew: financial success is a worthwhile goal, one that drove our economy.  Mom knew that it was possible to do great good if you were rich.  I know that, too.  Being a Rich Guy isn’t a bad thing.  It’s what you do as a Rich Guy that determines your moral character.  Jealousy is, however, a bad thing.  And, yes, so is being a Communist.

That’s what I think.  How about you?

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2 Comments on “Communists and Rich Guys”

  1. I am so not jealous of rich people – and quite frankly, I would like to be one of them.

    My mom has a joke that goes something like this, “Whoever says money can’t buy happiness, doesn’t know where to shop!”

  2. Derek Zenith Says:

    It’s absolutely shameful. Politicians prey on people with little knowledge of the economic process, turn them on those who used to be called successful but now seem to be only fortunate, and promise to make the rich pay for the poor. In most cases, the poor need wisdom and discernment, not more money.

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