To those who fear that they may lose their jobs or miss a car payment or be homeless, the woes of the wealthy such as Dave Siegel of Westgate Resorts — who recently e-mailed his employees to threaten them with job losses if President Obama wins a second term — must seem the height of arrogance and petulance.
Mr. Siegel, who clearly views his employees not as associates in his enterprise but with the same disdain that French aristocrats once viewed their tenant farmers, is a perfect case in point.
Such people, skilled in the art of self-justification, seem to assume that living in a social structure equals socialism. That a certain basic infrastructure of government is actually the best possible guarantee of democracy, and that government and the infrastructures of civility that the government maintains is essential to modern life, is a notion that these current proponents of the 18th century seem unable to grasp.
When they pay taxes not out of the very substance of their lives but out of their superfluities, they believe that they are hard-pressed and victimized. To dismiss 47 percent of Americans as people looking for a handout, or to impose Greece-style austerity on America is hardly the way out of our current malaise. But such is the current Republican mantra for change and recovery.
Is it any wonder that Dave Siegel, the man who once built the most expensive private home in America — named after King Louis XIV’s palace of Versailles — thinks that taxes are a personal affront? The present fear among the wealthy of talk of class war in America is not rooted in defense but stems from awareness that the middle classes are finally waking up. Men like Dave Siegel have been waging class war for years on the rest of America and are finally being called on it.
Whether Americans prefer a general prosperity, or the illusion that they too can join the aristocrats and have their own peasant class to whom to write threatening e-mails, will be decided in November.