Anyone with a voice on the internet these days claims to have read Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century*. It’s the 6-week running NY Times Bestseller on the rise of wealth inequality.
The truth is, we love inequality. The more inequal the better. As a capitalist nation, we reward the winners, which means that as a side effect there must be losers. We celebrate the successes of Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg despite the fact that they are in the upper echelons of the 0.1%, because it is wholly American to believe that we, too, might someday attain that status.
We don’t really hate the 1%. We worship the winners, we study their every move. We love the scrappy Airbnb kids and that Snapchat CEO who pees on girls. We even love the ones who create no value to society. We love Derek Jeter and LeBron James even though I couldn’t pick them out of a lineup.
What we don’t like are the winners who then deflate the ball and make it so no one else can play. We hate Monsanto and BP and Rio Tinto. We love Warren Buffett but hate Lloyd Blankfein and Jamie Dimon and the big stupid banks. We love Google and Apple but think Microsoft is evil (well, these days it’s just irrelevant).
No, we don’t hate the wealth gap or the fact that it’s so difficult to cross. We wouldn’t want it if it were easy. We don’t hate the game or the system or the fact that there are so few winners. We just hate the kids who ruin the game for everyone else.