May you live in interesting times.
These are, indeed, interesting times for people of wealth, but perhaps not in the way you would like to think. I had always thought this ancient proverb to be a blessing that wishes the gift of wisdom for someone. However, it was recently explained to me that it is actually a curse—a less-noble wish for an experience of upheaval and anxiety. While I wouldn’t necessarily wish that upon anybody, the adage turns out to be appropriately prophetic for what has transpired over the last several years in the lives of people who have attained higher levels of wealth.
As anyone would have expected, the extraordinary convergence of a housing and stock market crash, a credit crisis, a recession, and years of irresponsible fiscal management of our government has taken a severe toll on the American psyche. As if suffering significant losses of net worth during the extended crisis wasn’t enough, the wealthy have become ground-zero in the politically inspired tumult that spawned the “Occupy Wall Street” movement and ignited a heated election-year debate over their “fair share.”
In this new theater of class war, people who would otherwise desire to live quiet, productive, and often charitable lives now find themselves targeted by government redistributionists and resented by the “99 Percent.” But, if recent trends are any indication, the wealthy may have bigger worries than mere taxes and scorn. As the growing income disparity continues ...