Villains Masquerading As Heroes

Warren Buffet. Haim Saban. Carlos Slim. Barry Diller. Jack Welch. Meg Whitman. A thousand other achievers lauded in the pages of Fortune and Barron’s and the Wall Street Journal. These superstars of Money Porn are the grand champions of the cruel game we all play, willingly or not. They won; millions more lost. That’s the way the contest goes and whether or not you like it, thems the rules.

That the game also involves sheltering as much of their spoils from taxes as the law allows (or doesn’t), fueling corruption by endowing lawmakers and persons of influence with cash, foundations, buildings, subtracting billions of dollars from the societal pool and adding billions to the billions they already own — none of this troubles us, and if it does we remind ourselves that their dark deeds are counterbalanced by all these hoarders have created for the rest of us down the food chain. That’s the way it works, right?

We free and democratic Americans don’t have Kings and Queens; we’re allegedly more evolved than old-fashioned societies in thrall to their betters. But until the day we collectively say, “Hold on. Explain to me again why it’s necessary and sensible and just that so few should have so much? Walk me through it one more time. Why is this the best way to organize our species?” we’ll continue to venerate the wrong heroes.

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