Lucille, a character from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, The Great Gatsby, that classic exploration of power and money, shrugs when her expensive dress is torn at a party. “I never care what I do, so I always have a good time.” (3.23-25).
Not caring seems to be the hallmark of some of the very rich these days. Money provides a license to behave with a lawless indifference to the wellbeing of others and of society. “The wealthy are not like us,” Fitzgerald wrote in his book and he was right.
The rich don’t worry about violence in the streets. They live in gated communities and hire security guards. Health care is of no concern. They have personal doctors. If they don’t like the rain, their yachts or private jets transport them to sunnier climes. And if taxes become too high in one country, they emigrate to another. Too many of them view themselves as a breed apart whose primary loyalty is to profit.
Bernard Arnault, considered to be the richest man in Europe, is a prime example. Arnault is the CEO of the fashion house of Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior, the flag ships of France’s fashion industry. Recently, he applied to Belgium for duo citizenship. Many suspect his request is motivated by the French government’s proposal to raise taxes on the wealthy. He’s immigrated for that purpose in the past, coming to the United States in 1981 to escape the tax policies of French president Francois Mitterrand. He returned to his native land only when the tax climate became favorable again. (Yahoo news, 9/10/12)
How do we teach the rich to be more like the rest of us? How do we help them understand words like ”community,” “the common good,” or “human decency”? I don’t know. Maybe the first word we should teach them is “shame.”
(Courtesy of cafeinatedthoughts.com)