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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