Rich Kid Follies

25 Nov

I was in a cranky mode when I wrote this, but I think it’s still true.

When I was a child, it was a simple fact of life that there were kids at my school who came from more affluent families than my own.  These kids – more accurately, their parents – either had more money than mine or were prepared to spend money to give the impression they had money.  The gap between rich and poor at my primary school was not, however, that apparent.  It consisted of little things like who got the most pocket money – there was no concept, back then, of giving a child a credit card – and who had the most advanced video game consoles.  There was no one, as far as I know, whose family was really that rich.

I didn’t meet genuine rich kids until I went to university and, given where I went to university, I didn’t meet many of them.  (In hindsight, I don’t think any of them came from mega-rich families.)  They were different.  It wasn’t just that they had more money, although that was a big part of it.  It was that they had very different social attitudes to kids who had to work to earn money to go to university.  I was painfully aware, at that age, that I could run out of money.  I worked every summer to earn money to keep myself at university (in hindsight, again, I should have just kept the money).  They didn’t have to work.  They had more money, each month, than I had in a year.  There was even a person I knew who boasted that his parents gave him thousands of pounds each money as drinking money.  (Given how much he drank, this might actually have been true.)

The worst part of their attitudes, however, was their belief that money could fix everything – and that they’d never run out of money.  When they had problems, they would call on the Bank of Mum and Dad to fix them.  If they had medical problems, they’d pay for private treatment; if they had legal problems, they’d pay for the finest lawyers in the land.  People would make endless excuses for them, just because they didn’t want to get frozen out of the benefits of having rich friends.

It took something really serious for them to have a brush with reality, at which point all their money couldn’t save them. 

When I first heard of the ‘Affluenza Defence,’ I thought it was a joke.  It was, I should note, in the context of an American teenager,  Ethan Couch, essentially getting away with killing four pedestrians and injuring eleven more (as well as DUI and stealing his father’s car).  Couch’s lawyers argued, apparently successfully, that Couch ‘was unable to understand the consequences of his actions because of his financial privilege.’  Others, people who lived in the real world (instead of whatever world his high-priced lawyers inhabited) insisted that this was nonsense.  Couch was perfectly capable of realising that he was doing wrong.  The sentence was an insult to his victims.

And yet, there might be something to it.  If you grow up in an environment where all your mistakes can be fixed by shovelling cash like snow, why should you learn from your mistakes?  Why should you fear consequences when you’ve never had to face them?  Why should you fear being poor when you have so much money you can spend it like water and never run out?  Why?

The answer, of course, is that sooner or later you will do something that all the money in the world can’t fix.  But why should you believe that when your entire life experience suggests otherwise?

And why, you might ask, am I talking about this now?

I’ve said this before, but it’s worth repeating again.  One of the problems facing us in the West today is that the political class, a subset of people – the political, corporate/financial and media elites – has effectively lost touch with reality.  This is what tends to happen, it should be noted, when there are no serious consequences for mistakes.   Inside the bubble, mistakes can be laughed off or simply ignored; outside the bubble, the rest of the world steadily grows to hate and resent – and hold in contempt – the political class.  They have become, collectively speaking, a drunkard in command of a car.  The results have been, more or less, what you might expect.

In Britain, the political class is caught in a web of its own making.  There is no clear split between ‘Remain’ and ‘Leave’ factions within the Houses of Parliament.  None of the mainstream political parties can be said to be wholly for ‘Remain’ and ‘Leave.’  This creates a tangled political web in which the British people voted for BREXIT, but have been – at least in part – denied their democratic right by ‘Remain’ politicians.  It does not seem to have occurred to the politicians that they are doing vast damage to Britain’s political infrastructure.  They do not seem to have realised that the bills will eventually come due.

In America, the political establishment is caught in a morass it created for itself.  It isn’t clear, from what I’ve seen, that President Trump did anything for which he could reasonably be impeached.  Given the stakes, and the endless string of Trump scandals that turned into nothingburgers, it is obviously vitally important that any impeachment proceedings should be utterly beyond reproach.  And yet, the attempts to build a case for impeachment have not even come close to being beyond reproach.  This ensures that large numbers of American citizens will not accept an impeachment, should it take place.  Why should they?

There is, in fact, a further problem.  The United States is in trouble, for all sorts of reasons.  Trump was elected, at least in part, because his supporters realised that the US was in trouble and needed strong medicine.  (Victor Davis Hanson compared Trump to chemotherapy, which I can testify from personal experience is thoroughly unpleasant.)  However, the constant political attacks on Trump – and endless media pressure – makes it obvious to the fair-minded voter that Trump is being treated unfairly.  The impeachment, from this point of view, is yet another dubious attack on Trump – and, through him, the American system itself.  On one hand, this gives Trump a ready-made excuse for not fulfilling his campaign promises – and there will be plenty of truth in it – and, on the other, it suggests Trump’s enemies have lost sight of reality themselves.  Instead of trying to find a reasonable candidate to face Trump in 2020, they’ve set their sights on tearing down the rules in order to take down Trump.

This is classic rich kid behaviour.  Nothing has ever gone wrong, they reason, so nothing can go wrong.  There are no consequences, no matter how badly we behave, so there never will be consequences.  We’ve never been punished, so why should we fear punishment?  Really … punishment?  What’s punishment

The problem in both Britain and America is that both political classes are engaged in rich kid behaviour.  Poorer kids, kids who are aware there are limits on what they can spend and, in some ways, on what they can get away with tend to be more reasonable.  The average citizen, on a budget, understands that there are limits, that you cannot buy the ‘nice to have’ items ahead of the ‘must-have’ items unless you want to starve.  Sensible people understand that you cannot change the rules of the game, even if you’re losing, because it will ruin the game beyond repair.  If you don’t honour the rules, why should anyone else?  But rich kidsbrats, more like – are quite happy to smash the gameboard if they don’t come out ahead.  It never seems to cross their mind that they’re building up a store of resentment and contempt that will one day overwhelm them. 

The problem is not that there are bad apples in the political bunch.  That’s true of just about everywhere.  The problem is that the political elites have reached a position of supremacy, assumed that they will remain supreme and started – deliberately or not – tearing down the structure that sustains them.  Legitimacy requires a degree of respect for the rules, even if it’s just lip-service.  Once you lose popular respect, and the popular belief that you won fairly even if vast numbers of people hate you, you’re on the way to disaster.  On one hand, that is why so many talking heads chatter endlessly about Trump losing the political vote (and why his supporters insist that Trump would have won that too were it not for voter fraud); on the other, the ‘rich kid’ behaviour of politicians who do not appear to have anything at risk is destroying their legitimacy.

This is a crisis.  And one I don’t know how to solve.

34 Responses to “Rich Kid Follies”

  1. H86 November 25, 2019 at 6:23 pm #

    An interesting read, but I must note this just because someone is born into privilege, does not automatically render them a brat. After all, a good moral compass can end up in anyone. Indeed, being in a bubble can cause tunnel vision and ignorance (see the Westminster one) but it can also act as a catalyst to inspire those within it to see how others outside their silver prison live, and if they can, to benefit society. It is such a shame that those in power are in it for themselves, and that Brexit might just be a way for city slickers to escape EU financial transparency laws so they can keep their dodgy money.

    Just food for thought, please don’t get upset, I mean no offence

    • Bill November 26, 2019 at 12:53 am #

      Yes, each and every person is an individual and has their own set of morals, but the point is that there is a problem with the “political elite” in both the UK and the US.

      Good point.

  2. Billy C McCorkle November 25, 2019 at 6:24 pm #

    Nicely stated. You might read the April series from Mackey Chandler c.2068. One point, Brexit is an economic mistake for Britain. It is though the best method voters had to fight the political system. Yes, If I were a Brit, I would have voted for it simply to thumb my nose at the politicians.

  3. AshleyRPollard November 25, 2019 at 7:55 pm #

    I’m not sure anybody knows how to solve the current problems. Caveat, anybody that does know how is probably not being listened too, because that would require both side of the political divide to talk to each other and find common ground, where the current narrative condemns those that try.

    • Bill November 26, 2019 at 1:00 am #

      Seems to me that the problem started in the 2006 US House of Representatives Election which the Democrats picked up 31 seats. Seems they would not compromise on anything at all. There way or the highway as some say. The Speaker of the House had no incentives to compromise with the Republicans. We are still in that situation today since that Speaker is once again in charge. Maybe we in the US will get wise and change things in 2020, we will have to see.

  4. ragna November 25, 2019 at 8:40 pm #

    Did you try to ban party’s and a 2 term limit as well as a 4 years on tier 1(boss is a elected offical) and 2 bureaucrat

  5. Les Barrie November 25, 2019 at 9:04 pm #

    Common sense and compromise have disappeared from political life and with them decency and the desire to serve except to line ones own pockets.You may be right about Trump and impeachment but any person who used their own charity as a slush fund,has lied about their income to avoid tax and has milked their office financially,not to mention the hundreds of small business men he has simply refused to pay for their work and the environmental and social consequences of utter stupidity is not a person I want to breath air with.

    • Brian November 25, 2019 at 11:24 pm #

      Of course you are right. That is why I didn’t vote for Hillary. Do you really think the Clinton Foundation was anything but a slush fund?
      If it was not, then why are the funds not continuing to roll in?
      Now that Bill and Hillary are both free of government service they could be raising funds full time for the charities. But the income has severally decreased every year since she was not elected.
      I agree, Trump is not Prince Charming, but he was not of the global cabal.

      And to Chris point, the millionaires running against him are trying socialism. They believe that they will not be affected. Warren just said if the drug companies did do what she said she would sieze their patents. Who would ever invest in a new drug in the future?

      Again, Trump isn’t Prince Charming, but he may be the prettiest pig in the pen.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard November 26, 2019 at 12:10 am #

        Again, Trump isn’t Prince Charming, but he may be the prettiest pig in the pen.

        And Low Information Voters believe the News Media when it tells them that Trump is The Dirtiest Pig while it ignores the Dirt on the Pigs who hate Trump. 😦

    • Bill November 26, 2019 at 1:04 am #

      Oh, for a minute there I though you were talking about Hillery Clinton when talking about a charity as a slush fund, who also lied about her income to avoid taxes, sold US stockpiles of uranium to the Russians, deleted emails (10’s of thousands), called off the support to the ambassador of Libya, blaming it on a video. I could go on and on……

      • Joe November 27, 2019 at 12:07 am #

        You Bill are try to spread things you know nothing about show me your PROOF.

  6. Stephen Baker November 25, 2019 at 11:06 pm #

    Unfortunately the problems will only get worse as the politicians themselves increasingly ignore (or think they can ignore) the democratic process that put them in power. Brexit is an example of this, whether you like it or not the vote was to leave. Unfortunately the losers decided that the vote was wrong so they have spent the last few years defying democracy. This has led to an increasing amount of people actively beginning to regard most politicians with disgust. This leads to a further decline in democracy, because if the losers can safely ignore a wining vote why then should anybody bother to vote in the first place. Chris says he does not know how to solve this problem – history though shows that what happens in the end tends to be violent.
    Nothing that is happening now is new – it has happened time and time again throughout history. It is just that those in power who are called by different names now. What most people in power, if they have any inkling of history, should realise is that you cannot keep ignoring the rules to suit yourself – if you do, eventually you have to face the consequences and those often tend to be violent and fatal to the country as the ignored turn to extremes to satisfy their grievances.

    • Billy November 26, 2019 at 12:42 am #

      Quote: Nothing that is happening now is new – it has happened time and time again throughout history. It is just that those in power who are called by different names now. What most people in power, if they have any inkling of history, should realise is that you cannot keep ignoring the rules to suit yourself – if you do, eventually you have to face the consequences and those often tend to be violent and fatal to the country as the ignored turn to extremes to satisfy their grievances. : End Quote

      I remember in school we learned about what happened in France when that lady said * Let them eat cake !

  7. Joseph P Costa November 26, 2019 at 12:38 am #

    You are wrong. I have personally met several of the Congress Women that ran for and we’re elected. One of those women I actually voted for. These are not spoiled rich kids.
    Christopher you write wonderful books like SIM, Kat, Ark Royal are some I have enjoyed.
    However you have absolutely no idea what you are talking about regarding Trump and you are totally wrong regarding most of the Congress who are investigating for impeachment. They are not rich and are regular people. By the way, I spent about 100 hours watching the public hearings for impeachment. Unlike you, I KNOW what I am talking about. You need to STOP believing the lies told about democrats by Republicans. Enough said.
    Joseph Costa, Democrat!!!

    • Bill November 26, 2019 at 1:07 am #

      I think he hit the “nail on the head” with his blog!

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard November 26, 2019 at 1:16 am #

        I remember a gentleman posting here who claimed that “Nobody Supported Trump”.

        Obviously that was before Trump won. 😈

  8. Bill November 26, 2019 at 1:15 am #

    Don’t think he is wrong. He has every right to voice his observations and his opinions. He just seems to be different from yours. Again, which is okay. I don’t agree with your assessment, but I am not going to call you wrong. Some call them the gang of four. One is a complete idiot, one used her campaign funds to pay her bills, and one married her brother. Are those the ones your are in which you are referring? Know that you would consider my assessment as wrong, but is it? Time will tell……

    • chrishanger November 30, 2019 at 10:53 am #

      I don’t mind disagreement

      Chris

  9. Guy Marc GAGNÉ November 26, 2019 at 2:19 am #

    I have been keenly aware of financial disparity from my early-teens (boarding school) onwards. I was also quite active politically from about this period (at all levels: municipal, provincial and federally) for the better part of forty years. I have known a few folks, mainly the ”nouveaux riches” types who indeed exhibited the kind of absurd disconnect from reality and responsibility. Most of my well off (old money) friends were not permitted to take much for granted, not that they were not entitled to every advantage and privilege but, they were inculked with a grounded sense of worth/value/obligation. I remember the children of a very large grocery chain founder, who insisted that his kids spend time at some of the farmers homes and help work the fields, the lesson: respect for those who worked the land. As an aside, it helped them acquire colloquial French, the language of the majority here and of their suppliers in particular.

    With respect to Pres. Trump, perhaps one of the best cases of a poster child for entitled brats, having been extricated time and again by daddy (6 bankruptcies, I am still trying to figure out you can flop a casino!?) from all manner of confuddles. He has most definitely put himself at odds with tenets of his oath of office. In several instances, he clearly has obstructed justice and has been less than transparent and forthright in a great many of his actions, the number of his close associates found guilty of numerous crimes does speak volumes as to his character. Id est: there is no smoke without fire! I have been observing the situation South of the border from the get go, it will follow its course and, will undoubtedly be shot down by the Senate, with their Republican majority!

  10. PhilippeO November 26, 2019 at 2:30 am #

    These is weird reading, since I agree with everything, and totally disagree with its assessment.

    as Liberal / Leftist , my reading of situation of Brexit and American situation is group of rich kids (Johnson / Trump ) acted irresponsibly while gain support from entitled white middle class (Brexiiters / Republicans).

    Wonders how people worldview could be so different ?

    Could it be just view on inheritance and education ? To me (and my guess other liberal / left) Obama and Hillary middle class parents is prove of they are non-elite while Johnson and Trump father show they are elites. To me the college class is hardly elites, since most of them non-elite pre-college, while obviously Brexiter and Republicans view them as big city elites and resent them.

    • Mark November 26, 2019 at 6:24 am #

      In the UK the poor tended to support Brexit. Recent reports suggest that poor traditional left areas are like to support Boris because of Brexit. It is the urban elite who favour remain and the left. Champaign socialists.

      • PhilippeO November 29, 2019 at 8:07 pm #

        White Rural Poor

        Cities had lot of poor people too.

  11. Ben Sevier November 26, 2019 at 5:38 am #

    When you have a President of the United States interfering in the Military directly, pardoning war criminals convicted in a court of Military Justice, directly ordering actions that overturn decades of work to protect Western Democracy against those seeking it’s downfall, you set into motion events that can cause the Military to take action against civilian rule. Trump is actively seeking to destroy the US Military establishment – that way lies tyranny, or military activism. Wether he is just too dumb to know what he’s doing, acting as an agent (witting or unwitting) of another power, or to another agenda remains to be seen.

    • Mark November 26, 2019 at 6:27 am #

      When you say the military you mean the officers. The rank and file may well not agree. Remember not all military putchs come from the officer core.

      • Ken November 29, 2019 at 9:44 am #

        Most of the military (including officers) support Pres Trump pardoning those falsely accused or doing things the previous administration and the Politically Correct Generals and Admirals did not like. Look what happened to Billie Mitchell. He was right but got reduced in rank and later marshaled. Having the REMFs ruin soldier’s and sailor’s careers and lives does not promote a military with Esprit de Corps. When Truman fired MacArthur he was correct even if I kinda agreed MacArthur had a point. MacArthur went against the commander in chief.

    • Scott Osmond November 29, 2019 at 5:28 am #

      Ben, the president of the united states is commander in chief of the military. Means he says what the military does. Officers have 3 choices.
      1 salute and say yes sir
      2 tender a resignation and speak out or stand for office themselves
      3 get a court marshal
      The military is subservient to civil authority. Any officer who thinks different needs a bullet or a hanging.

  12. G November 26, 2019 at 3:25 pm #

    Trump is being accused of using his elected public office (where he’s supposed to act only on behalf of the American people) to press for prosecution of his political or personal enemies…something you usually see in third world dictatorships. This is usually considered abuse of power in a democracy as otherwise elected officials could jail their political opponents. Whether you believe he should be impeached depends on how serious you believe this to be…

    • Charles R Harris November 26, 2019 at 6:23 pm #

      Trump is accused of many things. It’s politics. What surprises me is how few accusations pan out, that is truly unusual.

  13. Hanno Frerichs November 26, 2019 at 10:50 pm #

    An interesting read, while I partly agree and partly disagree with some of your options,

    Also the Political class isn’t really a thing or it is only in the broadest sense.And more so in the UK then the US.. from my outside point of view.

    It’s also not so much rich kid behavior but a behavior meant to keep ones current position, more of a don’t rock the boat behavior when the boat is quietly sinking.

    Also while of course never absolutely sure, the current accusation for the impeachment seem kinda compromising from my viewpoint.

    Anyway I will readily agree that the political system isn’t really fitting the countries very well anymore, but they are hard to reform from within, and harder to break and rebuild without having an extraordinary troublesome time.

    Trump Johnson and also some other politicians on the same wavelength as them, are still not a solution to te problems the west is facing. They are a regression! Maybe an instinctual right choice in times likes these but they will get nothing fixed.

  14. G November 27, 2019 at 6:05 am #

    When you return to writing SIM, you should bring some of this ruthless politics into the series as at some point she needs to begin actively participating in the White Council…also, she needs to lose some of her “niceness” and become more focused and ruthless in amassing power for herself…she’s far too innocent after 7 years in the Allied Lands and after dealing with Gordian, Fulvia, and Randor she should be more cynical and focused on building up her own power base if she’s going to be able to defend her friends, Zangaria, Heartseye, fight off her enemies, and defeat the necromancers…

  15. Joe November 28, 2019 at 12:48 am #

    Well put “G”. This says what the problem with Trump is. The laws of the USA say he sHould be serving tho he people not himself. Thank you!

  16. Tedria December 10, 2019 at 8:31 pm #

    Intresting thoughts.
    But I see it a little differently/would voice it different:
    I agree there are many similarities between “rich kids” talks and political talks and not only because no politician has to worry about their daily income.

    It is making little things or things everyone already agreed apon to the most important problems and discussing endlessly about it without ever making a decision.
    Things were with an yes or no you wouldn’t make real enemies since you say again and again how difficult the choice is and how well you can understand if somebody makes the opposit decision. You talk things down.

    But while I see this as an stategy for politician to stay on everyones good side by avoiding important decision making (because by every political action you have consequences. Some you can’t even guess but everyone expects you to know them all. By every action somebody lose. Most often it is a decision between the wellfare of a group of people or to benefit a group – like futur people, old people, single mums, children, soldiers, workers… – and money from all the other taxpayers or to the lose of big powerful enterprises. A win-lose-situation. At least for the short time of your career. Most often all the bad things take place first untill the good of your decision has time to prosper and your decision is undone. Or the bad is more loudly discussed which leads to the same end result. No progress…)

    Okay, sorry, I came very of topic. Lets switch to the so called “rich kids”.

    First of I never really talked to people were money never ever matters. But I am sorrounded by people who only look at their account by big investment from a knew computer, vacations abroad to a knew car.
    So people without real financial problems.
    And most students who work do it because they like their jobs, want a little more money to travel… and a few to fund their parents or futur dreams. (I’m from germany were university students have hardly any tuition fee to pay and get some money for livelihood.)

    So like I said people without live-threatening problems.

    But if there isn’t something to complain about then we human search for something to bemoan because we want to have a reason for why we don’t feel happy all the time. And what better than a seemingly difficult decision. And since it is convenietly not time pressingly we can bitch about it for weeks. Just like politician.

    We don’t want to admit to ourself that money from a certian wealth upwards doesn’t make us any happier and even with our every problems solved our brain/hormonal balance does not allow us to be always happy. So we think up reason for our bad mood. And give little things big proportions.

    At least in my opinion that is the main reason why “rich kids” talks and political talks seem sometimes so kindergarden like and thus similar.

    But I also think in some cases you are absolutly in the right.
    And like I said I don’t know any rich kids so I can’t tell and shouldn’t judge.

    Btw love SiM and that your writing always brings me to think. Your blog and books.

    • Tedria December 10, 2019 at 9:03 pm #

      Btw I am tend to left.
      So against Trump and Brexit.

      Brexit by now I dont really car anymore. I just want a decision.

      Trump I think of at the least as a racist, self-serving elitist. Who threatens democracy.

      When I imagine a spoilt rich brat who thinks he can do whatever he wants because of his money it is him.
      That is why I agree partly with you about rich kids dont know about consequence. Because of Trump.

  17. johnblackf December 11, 2019 at 5:29 pm #

    The main problem with your analysis is that key facts you cite are not facts. Ironically, this is because many conservatives have adopted a policy of flat-out lying to support their cause–something you noted regarding the Soviet Union in your analysis of Chernoble.
    This is not only sad, it represents ignorance–as in ignor-acne (ignoring fact).
    All I can tell you is I’m an American who followed Watergate closely (saved all the clippings, etc.) I’ve done the same for Trump’s career. I’ve seen this before.
    By weighing in on a false narrative, you help enable it.

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