Prayerful people bargaining with God over lottery numbers no doubt imagine that they would do some worthy things with that money, on top of buying a Ferrari. Progressives imagine all the wonderful things they could do with other peopleâ€™s money, and no doubt some of them are well-intentioned. But envy poisons whatever good intentions they have, which is how men such as Professor Reich come to write resentful indictments of people who are, remember, giving away billions of dollars of their own money. Heâ€™d prefer their money be given away by him, or by bureaucracies under the tutelage of men such as himself. As the moral philosopher Hannibal Lecter put it: â€œHe covets. That is his nature. And how do we begin to covet? Do we seek out things to covet? No. We begin by coveting what we see every day.â€
Megan McArdle once observed that in our public discourse, â€œvery richâ€ is defined as â€œjust above the level a top-notch journalist in a two-earner couple could be expected to pull down.â€ There is no envy like the envy of a $250,000 man in a world of $250 million men, as Robert Duvallâ€™s crusty newspaper editor explains to a financially frustrated employee in The Paper: â€œThe people we cover â€” we move in their world, but it is their world. We donâ€™t get the money â€” never have, never will.â€ But being in that world, they learn to covet, which helps explain why Professor Reichâ€™s old boss, Bill Clinton, ended up with $50-odd million in the bank after a lifetime of public service.
Americans gave away $316 billion in 2012, and will give away as much or more this year, and Professor Reich composed 731 words to explain the problems related to that. He should have composed two words, especially relevant to this season:
17 Dec 2013