There’s a lot of people in this country with tough jobs. There’s the dog groomer, risking rabies every time he picks up his scissors. There’s the chimney sweep, covered in soot and singing some nonsensical ditty in a Cockney accent. There’s the chicken-sexer, constantly being propositioned by chickens. But I think the worst job of all, the job that there’s no way you could pay me enough to do, is being a millionaire.
The millionaire truly has a heavy cross to bear, just like noted millionaire Jesus Christ. He is forever sacrificing his very being for the good of all, yet what thanks does he receive? Aside from a high standard of living, excellent medical care, the fawning deference of his employees, and the knowledge that no sudden emergency threatens his lifestyle, nothing! And if all this were not enough, today the persecution of the millionaire has intensified to an almost unbearable pitch. In a piece of effrontery not seen since the Nazis murdered millions of innocent human beings for no good reason, some people today are suggesting millionaires should pay slightly higher taxes. An anti-millionaire mania has infected this country, manifesting in the most vile form of all: verbal criticism in some media outlets. Just as we no longer recognize the right of the Ku Klux Klan to lynch black people, so too should we forbid these radicals from lynching (i.e., criticizing) defenseless millionaires, because the two actions are literally and morally equivalent.
Culturally disadvantaged by his immense self-made wealth, the millionaire is ill-at-ease in society. He finds it difficult to cope with the exigencies of life, such as the slowness with which a chauffeur drives a limousine through the narrow, twisting drive-thru lane of a McDonald’s that he just bought and is conducting clandestine tests of its customer service on.
The cost of living is very high for millionaires. I don’t think most people can imagine the pain involved in paying so much money and winding up with nothing but a great house in a nice neighborhood, a couple of Cadillacs, private schools for one’s children, a nanny and a house-keeper, a stylish wardrobe, a plethora of entertainment options, skiing vacations in Aspen, winters in St. Barts, Aprils in Paris, and an extensive stock portfolio and maxed-out 401(k).
It’s even worse for people with more money. If a lonely multi-billionaire wants some simple dinner companionship, he is often reduced to auctioning off a seat at his table, because so few people are willing to be seen in their company. Recently, some deranged Maoist paid $2.63 million to gain a lunchtime audience with Warren Buffett, just so he could heap abuse upon the frail old man*.
The worst part is, they have no one to speak for them. They have no access to the media corporations that might spread their message. Political parties scorn them (since money has no effect on voting behavior, politicians care nothing for the favor of millionaires). They are barred from the corridors of power. In the best universities and country clubs, once you let it be known you’re a millionaire or the child of a millionaire, it’s game over. Sure, they’ll be polite to your face, but once you’re out of the room, the whispers begin: “I mean, I have nothing against millionaires personally, but they should stick to their own kind.” Another terrible prejudice rears its ugly head whenever a millionaire attempts to romance a young lady. Imagine the awkward moment when the parents meet him and learn he’s a millionaire. Later, the mother takes her daughter aside and says, “He seems like a nice young man, but mixed couples have such a hard time, dear. And think of the children.”
No one is willing to raise his voice in defense of the millionaire. When will some John Brown or Oscar Schindler come forward to say that the oppression piled upon the millionaire today has gone too far? If you prick a millionaire, does he not bleed? Is not a millionaire subject to the same diseases as a Christian is, albeit heal’d by much more expensive means?
And then, after a lifetime of these travails, the poor souls have only a well-funded retirement of travel, community theater, and meals in restaurants with cloth napkins to look forward to. If it were me, I don’t know how I could go on living.
Given all these horrible things that millionaires must endure, why do they do it? Why not resign from their millionaire-jobs and take up more rewarding work such as being a teacher or clerk at the DMV, jobs where, far from being censured as millionaires are, they will be praised and the financial troubles of governments will never ever be blamed on them? The answer is two-fold. First, they are literally incapable of stopping being millionaires. The current population of millionaires comprise a caste of true genetic supermen. Billions of years of evolution and/or the actions of a beneficent God and/or the choices of their autonomous will have endowed them with the ability to prosper under all conditions. It is definitely not the case that their success is contingent on luck or a particular set of circumstances prevailing in a small part of the world.
Even if you took away all their money, they would just build new fortunes before you and Zombie Lenin could slap high five. (In fact, that’s the best argument against increasing the top marginal income tax rate I’ve heard today: there’s no point raising millionaires’ taxes, because they’d just earn more money, and, as our goal is not to reduce the deficit or pay for programs but to punish success, we would be stymied.) Millionaires have truly marvelous powers of recuperation against any misfortune that might befall them (except for being criticized in print or on television). If you stripped Jamie Dimon naked and pushed him out the door of a airplane at 35,000 feet over the highlands of New Guinea, not only would he survive the landing sans parachute, not only would he make himself chieftain of a tribe of hallucinogen-snorting head-hunters inside of two weeks, not only would he lead an army of said head-hunters, bedecked in lizard skins and feathered ruffs, whose magic amulets render their skin impervious to the white man’s bullets and whose pounding drums induce madness in even the most hardened SEC regulator, against the redistributionist government in Port Moresby, but, having mastered that country, he would soon conquer the United States itself. That’s just how good he is. He’s Batman, if Batman was more self-sufficient.
Second, their nobility of spirit inclines them to remain millionaires. Since millionaires are the font from which all good things flow, if they were to shirk their duty, we would have nothing. Look at every great man who expanded the boundaries of knowledge or produced great works of art or inventions that improved our lives: millionaires all. Look at Kenya or Bangladesh or most any country where they wear sheets or pajamas in public: the reason they’re poor is too few millionaires. Pace Jared Diamond, but the reason civilizations have developed differently on different continents has nothing to do with biogeography or the physical environment, but because Europe had many more geniuses than Africa or pre-Columbian America or Aboriginal Australia (and genius is always synonymous with millionaire). This is a fully satisfying explanation which definitely isn’t a tautology.
Are these two reasons contradictory? If they really have no choice but to be millionaires, there’s no cause to praise their nobility of spirit. No, it’s still both at once. They simply resolve the contradiction, because they’re so great.
* Speculation, but what other purpose could the anonymous bidder have had?