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People don't envy the rich, they hate them

It's become increasingly obvious that the rich in America have earned their wealth not though hard work but rather by cheating, exploiting, and abusing the social compact.

Envy Versus Anger - NYTimes.com


And how does he see this sea-change in attitudes? Why, it must be about growing envy of the rich, which is a terrible thing.

But the polling data don’t say anything about envy: when people say that they have lost their belief that hard work will be rewarded, they aren’t saying that they are envious of the rich; they’re saying that they have lost their belief that hard work will be rewarded. To the extent that people have negative feelings about the one percent, the emotion involved isn’t envy — it’s anger, which isn’t at all the same thing. Envy is when you have negative feelings about rich because of what they have; anger is when you have negative feelings about the rich because of what they do.

Think about it: Did the Occupy protests focus on how the one percent lives? Does muckraking journalism obsess over lifestyles?Yes, everyone knows about Mitt Romney’s car elevator, but it was the dorkiness rather than the luxury that made it a story. Actually, considering just how much the lives of the superelite have diverged from those of ordinary Americans, it’s kind of amazing how few articles there have been salaciously describing parties in the Hamptons and all that.

No, what’s really driving most of the ire is the sense that many of the rich didn’t actually earn that position, that they grew rich at the rest of America’s expense.

And what has happened since 2007 that might justify such a belief? Um, how about all those .01 percenters who were boasting about what a great job they were doing, but turned out to be leading us into a catastrophic financial crisis? What about the much-admired leaders who assured us that Wall Street was doing great stuff, and turned out to be totally clueless?

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