Saturday, February 26, 2011

Rich Boy Syndrome

Our Holy Ambassador to the Mainstream Media, Peggy Noonan, penned a great column today. Here's a tidbit.
Another reason for budget denialism is that everyone now in Congress lived through the greatest expansion of wealth in the history of man on earth. It happened here, in America, in the past 30 years. And we were rich even before that. But when you grow up in a time of constant expansion, when you grow up immersed in the assumption that we are rich and will always be rich, that we're powerful and will always be powerful, you start to think that America can take any amount of damage and still continue. This is called optimism, but it is not optimism, it is Rich Boy Syndrome. A boy is lucky enough to be born to rich parents who are themselves the product of generations of wealth going back as far as the eye can see. But he never got into the habit of making money, never learned to respect it, and never felt protective of the system that allowed it to exist. So the money went away. Rich Boy Syndrome is thinking wealth will just continue no matter what you do. A lot of members of Congress have Rich Boy Syndrome. They think they can do anything and America will always be rich.
It's worth reading the whole thing as this was not her main point, just one of many things in the column that struck me as particularly good.


Jeff Burton said...

Excellent insight, thanks for posting. I don't have a WSJ subscription, so I'll take your word for the rest.

This makes me more pessimistic, because I always figured that the pols were just incented all wrong to address the crisis. I still think that, but now I can see that it's actually worse - deep down many of them probably don't think we are even in a crisis, for the reasons Noonan gives.

Here is an analogy I just came up with. As the years go by, your growing age-related limitations are theoretical - you give a kind of mental asset to them. But you still act like they don't exist. Until you attempt that four thousand foot elevation change with a full pack and a bad knee. Speaking from experience here.

K T Cat said...

Jeff, that's a great analogy and it echoes some of the rest of the themes in Peggy's article. We've had crisis warning after crisis warning and no crisis ever really developed. The politicians are all inured to "crises".