Just when we were settling down to the notion of not being terribly guilt-wracked about being rich — or wanting to be rich — we get news from America that being wealthy is not only impolite but downright ugly.
For the past week or so, the Occupy Wall Street movement has been picking up momentum in New York. Essentially, it is a protest against Wall Street, the symbolic heart of America’s capitalist system (which, on good days, goes by the name ‘The American Dream’), and the fat cats responsible for the economic crisis raging across the US. Unlike, say, the protests against corruption in our backyard, this ‘movement’ is going for the source of all things evil: money. Well, not money, but money clumping to some individuals (there are about 10 million millionaires in America) while staying clear of most others.
The percentage of Americans demanding an overhaul of the economic system in the land of milk, $2.20 (Rs 107) Starbucks small cappuccino and honey is still small. After all, according to a September AP-CNBC poll, one out of five Americans still believe they will become millionaires in the next decade — with 62% believing it to be “very unlikely” that they’ll make a million by 2020. No one really minds rich people when the going is good. But when it’s not, every rich man suddenly becomes a cigar buddy of one of the Lehman brothers.
We don’t want to grade victimhood, but those now planning a ‘Manhattan Millionaires March’ to picket outside the homes of New York’s wealthiest may be less badly off than many others who would sell their right kidney to be in their shoes.
The prospect of Batman being called in to deliver the billionaire Bruce Wayne to justice could throw any socio-economic model into a tailspin. Perhaps we could export Montek ‘Why so theoretical?’ Ahluwalia to protect the well-heeled against the ‘above poverty’ mob gathered in Central Park.