Have you heard the latest buzzword? It’s more akin to an allegation. As
we bear witness to the Republicans vying for the opportunity
to face incumbent Barack Obama for the presidency, “The
Politics of Envy” has become the allegation placed against
anyone who might call a fact a fact or a truth a truth.
The fact is that there is a grand inequality of wealth in this country. It is
also fact that many with great wealth have executed great
measures to prohibit others from the opportunity to gain
a part of this nation’s wealth. Another fact is that there
have been concerted efforts to deceive non-wealthy Americans
to think that ultra wealthy people have worked - just
like anyone else - to achieve that wealth; if anyone questions
that premise, they are accused of playing “the politics
It is disingenuous of any rich person who would categorically posit that anyone
that questions wealth gain is envious. Most Americans
admire people who have amassed great wealth (why, I’ll
never know!). The fact is that one generally questions
wealth after the wealthy person states that he/she has
“earned it.” People want to see what that looks like.
Most working class people want to emulate the formula that worked. Did they
save their dimes and skip meals to amass that kind of
wealth? Did they put half of their paycheck in money market
accounts and move in with their mother? What exactly did
rich people do to get rich?
When Republican primary candidate, Mitt Romney, gave his acceptance speech after
presumably winning the New Hampshire primary, Romney called President Barack
Obama, “a leader who divides us with the bitter politics
of envy.” Romney was referring to the president’s comments
about fairness and income inequality, the 1% versus 99%
argument. Rather than show any compassion on the subject,
the next day, Romney defended his “politics of envy” comment
on The Today Show.
“I think it’s fine to talk about those things in quiet rooms,” the former governor
said, “But the president has made it part of his campaign
rally. Everywhere he goes we hear him talking about millionaires
and billionaires and executives and Wall Street. It’s
a very envy-oriented, attack-oriented approach and I think
it will fail.” By “quiet rooms” does Romney mean boardrooms
and country clubs? Romney must understand that people
talk about greed of Wall Street and insane profits of
corporations in the face of ridiculously high unemployment
and record home foreclosures; and they’re talking about
it loud and in public - say, the Occupy Wall Street movement?
I find it virtually absurd to even consider registering my vote for someone
who cannot begin to see that a healthy economy is based
on consumer spending. When people within a society don’t
possess money to spend on goods and services, then an
economy becomes crippled. When one person makes $42.6
million in the span of two years, I immediately think
to myself the number of working class salaries that could
be! I think, “how many $30,000/year salaries could that
be?” Actually, that’s 1,420 people that could be employed
at a living wage! That could help heal the American economy.
Because I see the inequality of that picture, doesn’t make me envious; it may
make me mad. Envy doesn’t even paint an accurate picture.
why the phrase? It’s because the person in the superior
role must attack the victim to excuse his/her greed. Anger
at the fact that Romney pays a lesser tax rate than most
rich people, is reasonable if nothing else. Over two years, Romney’s effective tax rate - the percentage of his
income that he owed in federal income taxes - was just
Nevertheless, and contrary to popular perception, Romney’s effective federal
income tax rate is still above that of many Americans
- 80% of whom have an effective rate below 15%. That tax
rate is higher when other federal taxes - such as the
payroll tax - are included.
The reason Romney’s rate is so low - despite having one of the highest incomes
in the country - is because his income is derived almost
entirely from capital gains and dividends from his extensive
portfolio of investments. And that form of investment
income is typically taxed at just 15%, well below the
35% top tax rate for high earners. It’s not envy that
questions this inequality, it’s anger. Or at least, it
The main people that will vote for Romney will be low to middle income earners,
people who are unsure of their employment or mortgage.
People who are paying a higher percentage of their incomes
on gas, utilities and other necessities. These people
will choose to elect a person who cannot even begin to
identify with struggling to make a monthly budget or sacrificing
to send a child to college. Why would someone vote for
that? Because, racist loyalty will cause one to vote against
his/her own interest.
I beg you not to be that person. Don’t vote against your interests. A candidate
might look attractive, but realize that money has no friends.
From his years as a venture capitalist, Romney has shown
that money is more important than people. I bet you he
has more money than friends…to believe anything otherwise
is all but an illusion.
Redd, is the former Executive Director of
the workers rights advocacy, Sincere Seven, and author
of the on-line commentary, “The
Other Side of the Tracks.” He is the host of the internet-based
talk radio show, Socially Speaking in
here to contact Mr.