The Three Rules of the One Percent

by Victor Davis Hanson


I never quite understood the fury of certain 1 Percenters against their brethren 1 Percent. Is it that being in an elite income group is bad if you got there through commerce or inheritance, but okay if you were a Stanford Law professor or a Harvard dean?

One of the weirdest things about Cornell West’s recent rant on Fox News was that he is one of the highest-paid professors in the humanities in the United States (he politely excused himself from further Fox appearances because he was too busy traveling during the term), yet he damned those who, like himself, are rich (a socialist would argue in share-the-weath fashion that a teaching load and compensation like West’s can only result in tuition creep and must come at the expense of staff). 

With recent news that Harvard, Stanford, and Berkeley professors, like the 1 Percenters at J.P. Morgan and Goldman-Sachs, were among Obama’s most generous campaign contributors, I think we can discern the new three rules of fat-cattery: 1) Protestations of being liberal exempt you from the crime of being a 1 Percenter; 2) The less risk to your affluent status (e.g., professors and hedge-fund investors weather higher income taxes better than tire-store owners), the more willing you are to put up with income-tax hikes, which renders you one of the good, blue 1 Percenters; 3) Damning Wall Street on Monday while shaking down Wall Street on Tuesday is just the way things are, whether for Barack Obama or for an Ivy League development dean.

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