Opinion: Defending the rich

Seemingly everyone, from television pundits to the average “Joe the plumber” on the streets, is foaming from the mouth over the supposed outrages committed by AIG and other recipients of the government’s bailout of financial institutions yet, one must take pause to wonder why these people are so-maligned.Buried within the text of one of America’s most religious documents is the often-forgotten phrase, “[all people] are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights … life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”Are the executives of these towering institutions not pursuing the dream enshrined in this most sacred document?Can they really be blamed for pursuing their happiness?Often we forget that many aspects of human life are relative.We cannot expect that the same television shows should be enjoyed equally by all and, similarly, cannot expect that ordinary wealth or poverty will do the same.The fact of the matter is that the people who sit at the top of these institutions are used to a certain lifestyle that, if taken from them, would certainly be tantamount to the pain and suffering of traditional poverty for most folks.Can we not have any sympathy for this pain?I will grant that many people don’t know the taste of caviar, and may even be unable to distinguish a fine blended scotch whiskey from a single malt, but when accustomed to these things, can the simple pleasures of life be anything but ash and refuse in comparison?These are brave men and women who, as an unfortunate consequence of birth and upbringing, have become addicted to a certain lifestyle.But there are many who cry foul over bonuses and what they claim are inappropriate use of tax-payer dollars, while simultaneously calling for health care — including treatment for other, dirtier addictions like heroin or crack cocaine — for those who have not dedicated their lives to maintaining America’s position at the top of the globe as the world’s premier shelter for the super-rich.Yes, in this one small way, America is still “No. 1.”I call these nay-sayers hypocrites, freeloaders and bums.How can they be blind to the addictions of America’s premier society, while maintaining so-empathetic a position toward those who dwell in her seedy underbelly?It’s time we took a long, hard look at ourselves before flinging mud at America’s executives — those tailored-coats weren’t free, you know.