By Robert D. Putnam
And the 5.7% explains itself.
Call them the people who moved to Greenwich. Call them the Midwestern moderates. Call them the micro-owning technocrat-consumers. Call them even the super-rich urbane Marxists. Their younger minds are clearly made for simple one-word titles. If it’s funny, and if they don’t mind putting their names on it, call them the “errands of the affluent.”
But now let’s dig down a little bit. Let’s focus on how these people — and the majority of Americans like them — think, a soul’s work, a country’s soul. Let’s understand that the folks who call themselves NARAL, the NRA, and Occupy Wall Street have nothing in common with most people at all, except the frustrations they feel. The ants of lower Manhattan make up only 5.7 percent of Americans, yet their deep sense of entitlement permeates politics and the arts. The root of the problem, perhaps, is a belief in a property rights narrative, in the idea that we’re all somehow entitled to prosperity, which we’re lucky to have.
Fifty years ago, this was a staple of right-wing rhetoric. We need self-governance, market forces, local control, and the people who were born into society’s ladder of success. Leftists have nothing to offer: their wealth, their privilege, their sense of entitlement, and their persistence in the struggle of oppression.
In fact, the presidential hopefuls of today have the cheek of suggesting that rich people are bearing too much of the burdens of the economy. In fact, if there was something the affluent of America believed, I would say, it was that plenty — not enough, just a lot — of us were ignored, that more of us could do more to create prosperity, and our neighborhoods would be better places, just not an American kind of neighborhood, but still a neighborhood.
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