Pride, Envy, and Hatred of the Rich

The left's politics in many ways can be characterized by the hatred of the rich.  Instead of celebrating the people that have successfully solved the problems of the world and gotten rich from that, they seek to vilify them, take their riches from them, and prevent others from ever following in their footsteps.

This is one of the sad side effects of envy. Both envy and pride are listed among the 7 deadly sins and both result from an unhealthy comparison of the self to others. Pride looks at others and says, "I'm better than they are." Envy builds on the work of pride, by looking at the success of others and says, "Given that I'm better than they are, they must be doing something wrong, or there is some fundamental problem in the world, if they can have so much while I have so little."

These two sins serve to distract an individual from a focus on his own bad choices, negative patterns of thought, and laziness, and results in the condemnation of the successful as evil, greedy, and exploitative of the poor.  Hatred then, is the natural consequence of regularly seeing those who you deem as lower than you rise above you in wealth, status, and success.

Again, hatred is the spiritual consequence of the sins of pride and envy - and the left is consumed by it. And hatred, sadly, destroys all that it comes in contact with - including the individual who does the hating. It causes its possessors to take actions that destroy not only the lives of the people they hate, but the political systems and institutions that provided for the success of those they hate, even when those institutions are the very ones saving their own lives.

The left's pride, envy, and resulting hatred drive them to hate America, see its institutions as fundementally unfair and corrupt, and causes them to take action to destroy its foundations and replace them with systems that redistribute wealth and shackle those who seek to earn it. The person who hates cannot allow for the freedom of those they hate. That is why populism derived from anger towards the wealthy also drives a nation toward despotism and socialism. The populace hands power to the individuals or groups that promise to destroy the freedom of others to succeed. Hence, statism and socialism. Marxism is based on advancing the cause of the proletariat against the bourgeois, whom they hate for their success.

Hatred is at the root of liberalism - at the root of all human conflict. Love values freedom, both for the self, and for others. It declares a trust in God, in freedom, and in others - that as others pursue their own good, we will be okay - moreover, we'll be better off.  Hatred says, "I can't trust God, I can't trust freedom, I can't trust others." It motivates an individual to take from others their freedom in a self-destructive attempt to protect one's interests.

It is the ultimate lie propagated from the devil himself declared first in the Garden of Eden. Cast out of heaven for his own pride, envy and hatred of God, he deceived the first humans by convincing them that God could not be trusted. It was a lie then, it is a lie now. We can trust God, we can trust freedom, we can trust others.

Just in case you have been tempted into agreeing with the hatred of the successful, I want to shine some truth on the subject of the rich so that you can break agreement with such thoughts and have the freedom that comes with it.

1) When the rich succeed, they do so by solving the problems of those who buy from them. The customer is better off than prior to the transaction. Both the rich man and his customer walk away better off than they would have been without the transaction. A poor man may be resentful of the fact that he must pay a rich man for, lets say, ten gallons of gas, but that ten gallons of gas will permit the poor man to get to work, to the grocery store, home, etc. The poor man would have been much worse off if a government official had prevented his "exploitation." The same is true for all free market transactions. My life is made immeasurably better by the options I have to buy a computer, a phone, fuel for my car, a home, entertainment, clothing, energy for heat and cooling, and food. Each of these is provided by "the rich." If you prevent others from getting rich by solving these problems then you prevent them from solving these problems. 

2) When the rich build their companies, they put the rest of us to work. One person can do very little on their own. Real success comes from working with others. The rich have learned how to surround themselves with teams of people who are succeeding in their own right by virtue of their relationship with the rich. Not everyone has the vision to start a company or the temperament to manage its many facets - but their skills and strengths can be put to work by others - and both prosper as a result. The rich may have an idea for how to solve a human problem, and generate profits through that effort - but it takes the ingenuity, the labor, and the time of the people that work with him to bring that solution to the market. Both the employer and the employee are benefited by the arrangement.

3) When the rich consume, other businesses prosper. When the rich spend the money they've made, they provide income to the companies from which they buy. Rich people might buy cars, houses, airplanes, yachts, etc - but doing so employs the millions of people who serve in those industries. Vilifying the spending of the rich only hurts the people who make the products that they buy. The rich weren't hurt that much when the government put a luxury tax on yachts, the people who make them were. The rich aren't hurt that much when government tells them not to fly on private jets, but the people who fly them, who build them, who maintain them, who service them are hurt badly. The rich aren't hurt that much when everyone else complains about their visits to luxury hotels and resorts - but the people who work in those locations sure are when the rich decide to stay home instead.

3) When the rich save their money, they do so by placing it into investments that provide the capital other people need to bring their ideas to the market. The wealth accumulated by the rich does productive work in almost every capacity in which the rich choose to employ it. His incentive to save his money in some vehicle that produces returns is proof that others are benefited by that investment. A return is the evidence of value as measured by someone else. Those who pay a return on that investment are using that accumulated wealth to pursue other efforts that they believe will satisfy a market and produce profit. 

4) When the rich give away their money, the charities that receive those funds and the communities they serve benefit. While this is probably characterized by most people as the highest good that the rich can do with their money, I believe it probably brings the least good to society as a whole. It is in this arena that much good can be done, but the most harm can be caused as well. Markets reveal true human need - both in the willingness of those with the need to spend money to solve their problems and in the solutions to those problems generated by that money. Charities ideally seek to meet the needs of those who by misfortune in some form do not have the money to meet those needs on their own. I contend that in most cases, these misfortunes would be greatly minimized in a political system that defended freedom and liberty.

In sum:
When the rich succeed, the rest of us benefit.
When the rich build their companies, the rest of us benefit.
When the rich spend their money, the rest of us benefit.
When the rich save their money, the rest of us benefit.
When the rich give away their money, the rest of us benefit.
The truth is - we should be celebrating the rich and the political and economic freedoms that allowed for them. If they succeeded, we can too; moreover, their success is a testimony to how much good they have done for the rest of us. The attempt to limit their success only limits their ability to bring good to others. Normal economic cycles are the free market's response to error and the correction of those errors. Larger economic downturns are the consequence of larger errors. I believe that the severe economic downturns we've seen several times in this century are the consequence of the freedom limiting policies advanced by those filled with pride, envy, and hatred. The real solution to the world's economic problems is freedom - and freedom advances when a nation's people trust. It retreats when they are filled with pride, envy and hatred.