Ted Yarbrough is studying law, and blogs as Texan Tory. He has written a thesis on Thatcherism’s effect on British culture.
I recently found myself writing a legal brief for a class in a Starbucks in a very posh part of Dallas. And by very posh, I mean Kenneth Starr, the famous lead independent investigator of President Bill Clinton in the 90s, was sitting across from me enjoying a coffee. Now I wasn’t there because I am a person of great wealth, far from it. Rather, I was there because it was too noisy to study at the library at the close by university (Southern Methodist University) due to a football pep rally on campus. However, while I was at Starbucks, suffering from bouts of writer’s block due to the overall mundane aspects of legal writing (or so I justify my actions to myself), I eavesdropped on an interview for a university scholarship taking place at the table over from me. Lucky for me, my eavesdropping turned out to be a nice little glimpse into a “slice of life” of what my all time favourite Dallas sports radio personality Randy Galloway so affectionately called “the North Dallas beautiful people”.
The young woman being interviewed was, (barring the possibility she is a very talented and convincing pathological liar), a truly impressive person. This teenager founded a charity to serve mentally disabled people, works weekly at a hospital (not only out of charity, but to analyze the affects of the new, currently in fiasco healthcare law), has perfect grades, goes on mission trips once a year with her father to help the poorest people in Costa Rica, spent much of the previous summer in Turkey observing the political unrest there and, additionally, is a lifelong gymnast and a member of the local secondary school’s cheerleading squad. She spoke articulately and without flaws to her interviewer and she knew exactly that she wanted to attend her “dream” school of Vanderbilt University. She had career plans to be involved in the healthcare industry and then enter politics. She may be a future President of the United States.
Besides being super woman, however, this woman was also super posh. The area she lives in is among the nation’s wealthiest and, besides that, she remarked that her father is a politician and her grandfather is a prominent Yale university alumnus. She is 100 times the 18 year old I or the vast majority of 18 year olds the country ever were. But according to the prevalent political mood at the moment, should not we hate this rich, privileged, little “overachiever”?
The current political mood, of resenting success and the wealthy, is absolutely ridiculous, dangerous and wrong. Every day we hear about how awful the wealthy are. David Cameron and George Osborne are vilified, and vilified because they went to Oxford and came from posh upbringings. From the falsified “plebgate” row, to the one per cent talk, to Barrack Obama’s “rich should pay their fair share” campaign, to Labour’s populist-socialist cost of living campaign, and to John Major’s rude and unwelcome swipe against the current Tory frontbench, the “rich” are everybody’s current favourite punching bag. But, through punching, what exactly are the haters of success trying to achieve?
The truth is, the Left blames the wealthy, just as a failed merchant blames his competitor, as a way to cover for its failings and ineptitude. It is truly amazing how the issue of inequality or lack of social mobility is only a prevalent topic for the American media, or the BBC and British left-wing outlets, when the economy is doing well or improving under conservative rule, or the economy is doing poorly and the country is ruled by the left. The issue of inequality and cost of living were not a big topic when Tony Blair was in Number 10, despite much of the cost of living skyrocketing, especially energy prices. Yet, when the Conservatives are in power, and the country is growing the fastest out of all the G7 countries, the issue becomes how rotten the wealthy are. In the 1980s, when Reagan and Thatcher presided over resilient and booming economies, the issue for the Left was “who was being left behind.” Amazingly, when the economy was strong under Clinton or Blair, that wasn’t an issue for some reason.
Under Obama, who has ruled for five years, the US economy is still in a rut, with worklessness at a high not seen since women entered the workplace in large numbers. The blame however, is laid at the feet of Republicans, the rich and the banks, even though of course, it was government bureaucratic mandates on banks that crashed our mortgage and financial system. Cameron and Osborne, in contrast, those rich, uncaring, unfeeling, out of touch, posh, scums of the earth, have produced an economic programme that has resulted in record high employment, low inflation and strong growth, and they have done all this while cutting the deficit. Barak Obama three years in, raises taxes on the bogeymen rich, not resulting in any noticeable economic improvement. These facts get in the way of the socialist narrative.
Our two countries need to learn how to celebrate success and hold up successful people to be celebrated. The Tories should not cower under the words of a failed Prime Minister but should stand up, confront Labour’s opportunistic rhetoric, and celebrate those successful in bringing jobs to communities, funding charities and worthy causes, and paying the lion’s share of taxes. In the UK for instance, the top one per cent of earners pay 29.8 per cent of income tax, in the US that number is even higher at 37.4 per cent. The Conservatives are the party of opportunity, the party that encourages people to own their own home, that charges them fewer taxes, and wants less of the state involved in their lives. It is Conservatives who are compassionate. A cold bureaucratic, bloated state does nothing to improve the lot of the poor besides increasing dependence on the state.
Yes, Cameron and Osborne are from affluent backgrounds. But so what? They work hard and take on enormous responsibility to help fix their country. And Cameron is the first Conservative Prime Minister since Douglas-Home to be from an affluent background; Major, Thatcher and Heath were all from modest upbringings. Both Cameron and Osborne could have taken the road of many affluent children of the 1980s and got addicted to cocaine and lived off their family estate the rest of their lives. But they did not, and the country is better for it. Luckily, there is one Tory who is not afraid to speak up, and his name is Boris Johnson, the popular two-term Conservative mayor of traditionally left-leaning London.
So good for you, young student in Starbucks, I hope you achieve the success you dream of. I too hope to be able to be successful with my fiancé in our future family together. Emulate the successful and don’t listen to the visceral of hate Britain and America, we have succeeded in the past by being nations of ambition, we will succeed in the future following that same formula.