Differences

RulingClassby James Ray Deaton    1/12/15
Novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald said that the very rich are different from you and me, but today its clear that the elite political class is different from us as well. Sometimes in the news stories of the day, little tidbits of information leak out between the lines to reveal special perks and lifestyle benefits available to the very rich and very political.

Recently while exercising in his Henderson, Nev., home, former Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, broke several ribs and facial bones after a resistance band broke and caused him to fall. Several news reports state Reid’s security detail took him to St. Rose Dominican Hospital in Henderson for treatment after the accident.

Now I want our U.S. senators to be as safe and secure as much as the next guy, but does the average tax payer know their senators have security details on duty at their in-state homes? Security at the capital and during official duties is one thing, but “security details” at home while exercising seems a bit much.

Are such details one tough-looking guy with dark glasses and a microphone in his ear? Two guys? Six? When Reid goes to the grocery store back home in Henderson, is there a convoy of black SUV’s wending their way to the supermarket? It may seem a bit picayune, but there is likely some mission-creep going on when senators have security details on hand when exercising at home.

And remember early last year when former First Lady, Senator and Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, told the National Automobile Dealers Association that she has not driven a car for nearly two decades? “The last time I actually drove a car myself was 1996,” Clinton told the group last January.

I guess giving up driving is understandable when you’re a “former this and that” political bigwig always surrounded by Secret Service agents, but still it’s a little disconcerting. It must be nice to be whisked hither and yon, but can someone who doesn’t do the mundane tasks required for everyday living really understand the people? We’re not talking changing your own oil or even pumping your own gas, but just driving yourself here and there to complete the tasks of your day.

The grandaddy example of the pampered politician is probably former President George H. W. Bush in his 1992 town hall debate with Bill Clinton. A questioner flummoxed Bush when he was asked how much a gallon of milk cost. Bush didn’t know and was characterized as out of touch with the concerns and problems of average Americans.

That same year H. W. also famously expressed surprise at a grocery price scanner, already quite common in 1992. While visiting an exhibition of the National Grocers Association in Washington D. C., the New York Times reported Bush was “amazed by some of the technology” at the exhibit. “This is for checking out?” he asked after seeing a price scanner at work. It was seen as another example of an out of touch , pampered politician.

And then there’s former President Bill Clinton and his score of phone numbers. In the just breaking sex scandal civil suit story involving England’s Prince Andrew and billionaire convicted sex offender, Jeffrey Epstein, Clinton apparently has a peripheral connection. News reports state that in past years, 2002 to 2005, prior to the police investigation of Epstein, Clinton “frequently flew” on the billionaire’s private jet.

During the investigation, it is reported lawyers obtained Epstein’s computerized telephone directory that included 21 phone numbers for Clinton.

Really? Who knew? Bill Clinton has 21 different phone numbers? I know we are in this new “connected” age, but I doubt that the average person can relate to having 21 telephone numbers. 21! How many assistants does Clinton have to keep track of all these different numbers? What is the most number of calls he has taken at one time? Do they all have different ring tones?

My parents got along with one telephone number for over 30 years. Between work and home, I have four different telephone numbers and that’s really more than I want or need.

It’s sad but true — the very rich and the very political really are different from you and me. • (967 views)

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7 Responses to Differences

  1. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    James, thanks for the terrific article. It’s nice to receive something like this out of the blue. It sort of ratifies the purpose of this place, that “average” Americans (at least those without their noses stuck in their phones) have more wisdom in their little fingers than the ruling class does in their entire keisters.

    Just for the record, conservatives have nothing against wealth and privilege (within reason) if such things are earned. But a conservative, at least ideally, will always remember that he or she puts his pants on one leg at a time, that the sun doesn’t shine out of his or her bum.

    To be a conservative, one must have to some degree a personal sense of humility, the recognition of “There but for the grace of God go I.” He may dress himself up in finery – for conservatives do not make the mistake of glorifying the poor just because they are poor — but he understands it is just a veneer, that we are all human underneath.

    What we see happening in America is a loss of this common touch. We see instead everyone (including much of the conservative media) jostling for positions in the ruling class. We must reject this puffery, even while (as good conservatives) aiming for refinement, wisdom, and the overall bettering of ourselves. Again, there is no inherent virtue in the slobocracy of just being a schlub.

    Conservatives must keep these two things in creative tension (which is surely why we have more than two brain cells and should use them): our inherent poverty (ashes to ashes, dust to dust), and our need and requirement to climb out of the gutter and make something better of ourselves. While making something better of ourselves, we must never forget that the most humble soul is the same human being that we are.

    I reject the ruling class. And that ruling class mentality reaches down far past the confines of Harry Reid and his ilk.

  2. Timothy Lane says:

    To be fair, there are probably many people who couldn’t answer the price of a gallon of milk (which often turns up in such pop quizzes on radio or TV) or a loaf of bread. In the first place, there are many variables. Elizabeth and I used to buy our bread at a local Rainbow store which had much lower prices. Even there, the price varied greatly depending on the brand. Some stores use commodities such as milk and bread as loss leaders, to get people to the store for essentials and then persuade them to buy other goods. Then, too, what if you don’t buy bread (e.g., those going gluten-free) or milk (e.g., those who are lactose-intolerant, like one of my friends)? Or what if someone else in the household does most of the grocery shopping?

    That said, there are obviously major differences between the Ruling Class and those they consider their subjects. Such concerns as never having to drive yourself and being able to rely on professional bodyguards obviously can have a major effect on one’s understanding of issues such as gasoline prices or gun control. But even worse is the general stance of privilege, as well as the increasing concentration of the nation’s wealthy (and wealth) in the vicinity of Versailles-on-the-Potomac.

  3. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    One of the reasons I am for term limits is that I am convinced that after about 5 years of being treated like royalty, politicians begin to mistake themselves for such.
    One doesn’t even have to be elected president to be treated like one is a member of the “ancien regime.”

    It is not the salaries of our representatives which are the problem. It is the millions they are allowed to spend on staff, travel, office, entertainment, etc, plus how those soliciting their favor lavish them with all sorts of perks. Therefore, while I am concerned about them being out of touch with the rest of society, I am more concerned with the built-in corruption in our system which grows as the government grows.

    As regards the presidency, we Americans are lucky that the maximum one person can theoretically serve in that office is 10 years. Other countries allow people to sit in office as long as they can hold on to it.

    The above being said, I believe your examples with Bush the Elder are weak. I could not be considered wealthy or a politician, by any stretch of the imagination, but I do not know what a gallon of milk costs. My wife, who does the shopping, will be more familiar with that. And as to the bar code incident, I recall that was debunked sometime later as being a pure setup. And even if it weren’t, would my being flummoxed by twitter and facebook define me as “out of touch”? If so, I can live with that.

    I am happy for a politician to have an idea of how the rest of us live, but one can go overboard on this common touch thing.

    Your point about body guards for politicians brings up a larger question. How long have these politicians like Reid has security details. I can imagine this is something which is fairly recent, like since 9/11. If so, are they warranted? If so, for how long? And are they simply another sign of the expansion of government which distances our representatives from us, just that much more?

    • Rosalys says:

      I am for term limits also. Another thing I would do away with is pensions for elected officials. It may encourage them to leave office and get a real job.

  4. NAHALKIDES NAHALKIDES says:

    A nice if abbreviated portrait of the ruling class, James. I will only add that the rise of such a class is a logical and expected consequence of growing government power.

  5. GHG says:

    Asking the GOP candidate “gotcha” questions, way back in ’92, who knew? 🙂

    I appreciate the gist of the article and agree the the ruling class lives in a different world and is out of touch with the rest of us. But I couldn’t tell you the price of a gallon of milk because I don’t grocery shop that often and on the odd occasion my wife asks me to pick some things up at the store I really don’t pay attention to the price – if milk is on the list I grab the one off the shelf that looks familiar and get it. I don’t look at the price. If my wife told me to get it – I get it. Sheesh! Maybe Barbara Bush would have known, but I can’t blame George for not knowing and anyone watching that debate should have understood that. I have to wonder how the Left’s tactics to attack the Right are so effective when they’re so transparently stupid. Gruber may not have been totally wrong.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      It’s also well to realize that staple goods like milk and bread are cheap enough that no one much cares about price, even in terms of which brand is cheaper if you actually prefer a more expensive one.

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