Yes, Richard, I Have Too Much Money

US Politics
on 12 Comments

Richard Witty has challenged me, re my belief that Jews make too much money: "Do you have too much money? Do you think I do?"

I don’t know about you Richard, but I think I do. And no, I don’t have the strength of character to give any back, I am competitive as the next jerk. But I do think there’s something terribly wrong with a society that has created such a gulf between the rich and the poor, in part through the work of the tax code and the hedge funds and the elitist meritocracy. I would like to see a much fairer society, and would vote against my economic self-interest on that score. (As Jews often do). As I have said before, the chattering classes are utterly separated from the battering ones. Iraq was enabled by that separation.

The reason I single out my people, Jews, is that I believe our unprecedented wealth (unprecedented in our history) has created 1, a political imbalance in the life of this democracy, in which presidential candidates kowtow to American Jewry, trying to be further and further right on horrifying injustices in the Middle East, which they conspire in blinding the American people to and 2, a real if unacknowledged crisis in Jewish values. I believe 1, is a subject for journalism and political speechifying and even legislation. I think 2 is just a subject for journalism and inquiry and soul-searching.

I am routinely shocked by extravagant behavior in the next Jewish generation that would have been unheardof in mine or my parents. I find it shallow, materialistic, thoughtless. It seems to me to be corrupting a great tradition and damaging Jewish values of learning. I know that another commenter said this is true of many rich people today. I agree. But I am talking about my spiritual tradition. And my tone, "Oy, My People Are Too Rich" was meant to convey that this is a lament…

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Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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12 Responses

  1. Barack
    March 12, 2008, 11:49 am

    Release your tax filings Phil!

    Seriously – how much money do you have and where did you get it from?

  2. jonathan ekman
    March 12, 2008, 11:50 am

    How many Americans are willing to discuss in
    rational terms the issue of Jews and money,
    aside from a few courageous souls like Mr.
    Weiss? From the influence of Jewish campaign
    donations in the American electoral process
    to the vulgar and conspicuous consumption of
    so many bar mitzvahs to the egregiously ego-
    tistical philanthropy of so many rich Jews,
    this is a subject of tremendous importance
    yet shrouded by taboo. I strongly suspect,
    pace Marx, that the increasing materialism
    of our society and the increasingly rapacious
    nature of our capitalist system reflect a
    general Judaization of our culture.

  3. Lone Jew
    March 12, 2008, 12:33 pm

    Jonathon Ekman,

    Please let me know where I can be further judafied. I'm a middle class jew who is barely making my mortgage payments each month and wondering how I'm going to pay for my girls to go to college. The folks in my neck of the woods have names that don't end in vowels, -steins, -witz, or -bergs, and while they don't have extravagant bar mitzvas, they do spend more than I make in a 2 years to join exclusionary country clubs that keep out people like me. I have no doubt that the jewish equivalents are much the same, but why do you claim this to be a jewish thing?

  4. Jim Haygood
    March 12, 2008, 12:50 pm

    .

    "I am routinely shocked by extravagant behavior in the next Jewish generation that would have been unheard of in mine or my parents."

    Nothing can compare with the extravagance of pissing away $12 billion a month in Iraq — money that could have had an immense impact domestically on education, health care, energy efficiency, you name it.

    Jewish groups insist that they didn't engineer the attack on Iraq. But they are doing it again in regard to Iran — Ahmadinejad [the new Saddam] is Hitler; Iran's missiles will threaten Tel Aviv, then New York; etc.

    The Financial Report of the United States Government shows that including Social Security and Medicare (which are not statutory obligations, but merely politicians' promises), the U.S. has a negative net worth of more than $50 trillion. That's about four years worth of Gross Domestic Product — more than could possibly be paid down in our lifetimes, or even in a century.

    Running an interventionist foreign policy in the mideast on behalf of Israel is not merely extravagant. It amounts to milking a cash cow, with an inevitable end game of walking away from the looted shell. Is that why Israel's Law of Return is so vitally important? Christ, I hope not.

  5. Charles Keating
    March 12, 2008, 1:53 pm

    Nothing has changed. Phil is merely pointing out that the historical role of wealthy jews re the host establishment gentiles has not changed; he is worried there will eventually be kharma.
    He's smart. He doesn't buy that anti-semitism springs full blown from the mind of the mindless.

    Neither average gentiles nor average jews will benefit from the usual cycle, this time around taking place in a hi-tek world with only one superpower (already bankrupt).

  6. Crimson Ghost
    March 12, 2008, 3:32 pm

    Phil

    The problem is not so much that Jews have too much money but how much of that money was acquired.

    Unfortunately a lot of it was made via morally and sometimes legally corrupt activities in the financial markets — at the expense of "dumb goys". Jewish influence in the financial industry is as great as it is in Hollywood and the chairmanship of the Federal Reserve Board seems to have become still another Jewish "entitlement".

  7. Anonymous
    March 12, 2008, 3:43 pm

    "He's smart. He doesn't buy that anti-semitism springs full blown from the mind of the mindless."

    I'm not sure of that. Phil is only nominally assimilated. He believes so fervently in the inner qualities of the jewish people that he is throwing aside the ancient safeguards, trusting the new jewish elite will be spared of the host's resentment because (in his biased oppinion) it has arised through sheer merit. Phil's message is quite radical: jews must be able to overcome the self-corrupting process of becoming the new american elite and fulfill the sacred ideal of merit coupled with moral strength.

    Come on, Charles, our Phil is another jewish prophet, immersed in fantasies of possibility, trying to quell the fire of anxiety from the expectating mind of the new elite-jew. Richard Witty is his ever-doubting disciple, affraid of the path proposed by the prophet, but waiting daily for his next ispiration. Ridiculous, is it not? Then again, if jews are able to "turn the other cheek" while sitting in the throne of the sole superpower, then it's (festive) game over for christianity.

    Honestly I do not believe it, but history doesn't seems to care about what I believe or not. So, brace yourself for a possible future where John Mearsheimer the Baptist and Saint Charles Keating the Check Refuser are discussed in dominical school all over the great benevolent Holy Mondoweissian Empire.

    The first step is having Pearlman be struck by lightning, call himself Saul of Gideon and finally convert to a Paul, I mean Ron, supporter… Ok, just struck by lightning is fine to me…

  8. Richard Witty
    March 12, 2008, 3:54 pm

    Phil,
    There are all kinds among us Jews.

    I thought you had told me that you were experiencing some financial difficulties and I felt a rapport with that.

    I don't feel guilty about the amount of money that I or my family make. Its definitely enough, but its very moderate and it all results from work.

    Among the Jews in my home town, there are all kinds. There are a few lawyers, doctors, property owners, investors. Most are working people, nurses, teachers, bookkeepers, etc.

    There really is noone that I know in my shul and community that fits the "dominant Jewish political distorting money" description. I mean that. NOONE.

    But, I don't live in suburban New York. I live in a small town in the boonies.

    In the past, I have worked for large Jewish accounting firms, and even the grumpy and very Zionist partners were not ostentatious. With their millions, they drove buicks, lived in moderate houses in middle class neighborhoods. They invested some in stocks, loaned money to their family's businesses and projects, donated to Jewish and general charities.

    They might even have given money to assertively Zionist causes. Most likely they did.

    I don't bear contempt for them for that.

    I would encourage them to act from what moves them positively.

    I've also worked for more affluent national and regional accounting firms dominated by other ethnic groups. In those, I was pressured to contribute to political campaigns, to dress and drive to keep up with the Jones's, to forego my own views, even if I had carved out a market niche and brought in prominent liberal clients.

    I don't have as much contact with the elite as you seem to.

    You do have the liberty here to donate funds to worthy causes and projects if you feel that you have extra, or even to invest in community transforming businesses.

    I have some recommendations if you are interested.

  9. Richard Witty
    March 12, 2008, 4:04 pm

    "I am routinely shocked by extravagant behavior in the next Jewish generation that would have been unheard of in mine or my parents."

    What spefically are you speaking of?

    My parents were pretty shocked by my behavior growing up, and I think yours were as well.

    Are you close with your nieces and nephews, enough to see them growing up? Do you feel that they are misguided?

  10. samuel burke
    March 12, 2008, 6:59 pm

    strong as hell phil.

    "But I do think there's something terribly wrong with a society that has created such a gulf between the rich and the poor, in part through the work of the tax code and the hedge funds and the elitist meritocracy. I would like to see a much fairer society, and would vote against my economic self-interest on that score. (As Jews often do). As I have said before, the chattering classes are utterly separated from the battering ones. Iraq was enabled by that separation."

    whether the jews are successful in the united states of america is not at issue, they pursue professions which come along via education and they ought to be proud to have contributed greatly to this nation. enjoy the fruit of your labor and give back when you can.

  11. Richard Witty
    March 13, 2008, 8:16 am

    "I am talking about my spiritual tradition".

    What of it do you find valuable?

    Are its roots solely Jewish, or are there other influences as well?

  12. oldtimer verzekering
    March 8, 2009, 12:30 am

    I think it is a controversial report with more subjective observations. However I think the comment posted by samuel burke appears to be interesting.

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