‘Being rich used to be cool in this country,” says Adam Carolla. The 47-year-old comedian remembers the good ol’ days, when “even if you couldn’t afford a BMW, you would buy one” to impress women. Now, “the guys who are getting laid the most are the ones with the skinny arms who are driving the Priuses.”
It’s a strange world.
But Carolla sees the humor in it; he exploits it, really, in his daily podcast, The Adam Carolla Show, which, with 60 million downloads, is the most-downloaded podcast in the world, according to Guinness World Records. And he points out the similarities between the rich and the poor in his new e-book, Rich Man, Poor Man, which debuted at number two on iTunes.
The rich and the poor live a lot alike, Carolla contends: They wear their pajamas all day; they take outdoor showers; they keep their dogs with them at all times. “If you row,” for instance, “you’re either a poor, old fisherman [living in a] little village, or you’re on the Harvard crew team,” he says. “Middle-class people don’t really row anything.” Not using a wallet is also a shared trait: “Either you have a money clip with your initials on it, or you have a wad of singles in your pocket.”
Carolla warns his fans not to read any deeper social commentary into his jokes. He makes them because they’re funny. Listing the similarities between the rich and the poor is “really just a way to amuse yourself,” he says. “It just kind of turned out to be timely in terms of what we’re going through.”
Not that he’s agnostic on the issue. He hates the fact that the rich have to pretend they’re not wealthy. “We’ve turned our world into some kind of prison yard, and if somebody finds out you’ve got a couple of cartons of cigarettes stuffed down your pants, you’re going to get torn apart [on] the handball courts.”
Given the contributions rich families such as the Carnegies and the Rockefellers have made to the arts, Carolla finds it “weird” to equate rich with evil. If the rich are evil, “why are you sitting in their library? Why are you sitting in their hall? Why did I just listen to a whole show on orangutans with no commercials that they paid for?”
When asked about the hullaballoo over Mitt Romney’s tax returns, Carolla adds, “I don’t know who is sending mosquito nets over trying to cure malaria in Africa, but last time I checked it was Bill Gates. Is Bill Gates evil? Are all rich guys evil or just guys with nice hair?”
Despite the fact that he bears no political label, Carolla became a darling of the Right in December when he called Occupy Wall Street protesters “a bunch of f***ing self-entitled monsters.” On reflection, Carolla is more forgiving. He sums up: “Their heart’s in the right place, but their a** is blocking traffic.”
He actually agrees with them on one thing: “I don’t like lobbyists and generous campaign contributions affecting policy. I think that should be illegal.” He knows congressmen engage in insider trading, but “I really do think nine out of ten of us would probably do that and not think that much about it. We’re asking these people to be better than that; we’re not making them.”
Despite the flaws in our system, “it’s about the best the world has to offer, which is, come here, work hard, and you can succeed.”
Carolla chafes at the idea that the rich got their money from their mommies and daddies. “With every person I know who is considered rich — who makes more than $200,000 — it has nothing to do with their parents, other than maybe their parents fed them, raised them, and possibly helped them with college.” Rather, “every guy I know who makes over $250,000 has two or three jobs, and their parents are in a completely different field: They’re schoolteachers, bus drivers, or they work for the post office.”
And don’t even suggest they aren’t paying their “fair share” — “a ridiculous assertion that Maxine Waters and company are making” in Carolla’s view. Consider a group of ten strangers who share a meal at a restaurant, he offers. If the bill is $500, then each person should contribute $50. Unfortunately, in our tax system, Carolla argues, it’s like one guy ends up paying $425. “Who gives a s*** about the percentage?” he asks. “I take up the same space, my kids go to the same schools, and I use the same roads. Let’s focus on the amount. I just paid $400, and Nancy Pelosi is pointing at me saying, ‘When’s he going to pay his fair share?’”
Carolla’s ideal tax system would function like a casino, “the ultimate level playing field,” he argues, because “they will treat you exactly as you deserve to be treated.”
“You wanna drink [complimentary] drinks? You’re not getting a suite,” Carolla explains. “You wanna come in and spend some money? You get to see Wayne Newton for free.”
“It’s high time,” Carolla concludes for “people making over $250,000 to say: First off, I’m not rich. Second, shut up. And third, why don’t you burn half the calories you are by pointing your finger at me by figuring out how I got rich in the first place?”
Were Carolla to design the tax system, “you should get one vote for every $10,000 you pay in taxes,” he says. “That would make it interesting.” Currently, President Obama “doesn’t give a rat’s a** about who’s rich or who’s poor,” he says. “Somebody just told him: ‘It’s pretty easy: What percentage of people voting make over $250,000 and what percentage of them make less than that?’ Well, 95 percent make under that, so guess what the theme of this speech is going to be? Not how lazy the other 95 percent are.”
“Bill Gates gets one vote, and so does my mom,” Carolla says. “It doesn’t matter how much you put in or how hard you work, you get one vote.” And your neighbor, if he makes less than you, is likely to vote someone into office who promises him your money.
“That’s a wonderful democracy, isn’t it?”
— Brian Bolduc is an editorial associate for National Review.