In the news Monday morning, the world learned about the “terrifying brawl” on the face of Mt. Everest over the weekend between a pair of European climbers and their Nepalese guides. Apparently. the guides said that party had to stop and cut a wider path through the ice.
The two climbers decided they didn’t feel like waiting and plowed ahead, causing chunks of ice to rain down on the heads of the sherpas below. A brawl erupted over the course of the afternoon between the Europeans and their handlers and an angry crowd of native guides. Both Europeans ended up being driven off the mountain.
I bring this up really in that it lends credence to my personal theory that Mt. Everest mainly exists to thin the number of entitled assholes on the planet. Case in point, Intrade CEO John Delaney, who decided that since he made a pile of money on other people’s gullibility, it only stands to reason that he’d be an excellent mountain climber.
I mean, obviously, right?
Wrong. Delaney died just 50 yards shy of Everest’s summit, 42 years old and done in entirely by the hand of his own hubris. And within the last month, the late CEO’s firm has come under scrutiny for dipping into investor funds to the tune of more than half a million dollars and is now facing liquidation.
That’s chump change, of course, next to the billions sucked out of the world economy by the coked-up speculators who crashed pretty much every bank on the planet in 2008, but let us not question these ubermenschen, these titans of industry.
It is not for us little people to question the supposition that wealthy men are stronger, smarter, faster and more morally upright than us mere peons. Is this Horatio Alger mentality not the mother’s milk of our nation of temporarily embarrassed millionaires?
Honestly, though, to paraphrase Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), just because you’re a multimillion dollar CEO, you don’t have to be such a dick about it. So you’ve made a giant pile of money, alright, fine. That is a talent that some people have. Some people can take a big ol’ mouthful of milk, flush it up through their sinuses and shoot it out of their tear ducts.
What else can you do? Can you change a tire? Flip an omelet? Teach someone to read? Soothe a fussy baby? Bring down a patient’s fever? Can you do anything that is of direct benefit to anyone who isn’t another person exactly like you? Oh, no, that’s right. Nobody gets rich doing any of those things.
Writer Fran Lebowitz said, “No one earns $100 million. You steal $100 million. People earn $10 an hour. People earn $40,000 a year. ‘Earn’ means work. Okay? It doesn’t mean steal, which with these vast amounts of money, of course you steal them.”
If $100 million lands in your checking account, odds are some of it doesn’t belong to you. Somewhere along the way, you’ve bilked a 72-year-old retired teacher out of her pension or a 19-year-old Bangladeshi garment worker out of a fire exit.
You don’t have to be smart to be rich. You just have have a certain piranha-like knack for separating other people from their money. Or you’re born rich like Donald Trump, a man whose ongoing media presence is an utter bafflement to anyone who cares about anything other than F-list celebrities and ugly-ass Monopoly Man suits.
All one has to do is look at the man and understand the hazards of firing everyone smarter than oneself and surrounding oneself with yes-men and lackeys.
“How does my hair look?”
“Excellent, Mr. Trump.”
See how that works?
This special brand of born-wealthy arrogance had its avatar in the form of erstwhile presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R). Vexed at every turn by his inability to come off as anything other than a stuffed-shirt lord of the manor, Romney rode a rip-tide of racial resentment money just about as far as a person could without ever actually putting forth any real effort or demonstrating anything approaching competence or actual human warmth.
“Corporations are people, my friend,” he told one Iowa voter ahead of that state’s straw poll. They were, after all, his only playmates as a child.
Did anyone notice that despite the record billions spent, the Republican effort to unseat President Barack Obama had a decidedly slipshod feel? From the parade of easily debunked lies and sins of omission from the Romney press shop, to the ear-splitting over-vocalizations of singer Meatloaf, to the sad, sad smart phone apps, and the painfully incompetent surrogates, the Romney campaign was a roiling mess, and over it all floated Romney’s huge, disembodied head, as unconnected to and unaffected by reality as his Swiss bank accounts are by the United States tax system.
Marinading in a jus of hubris, cooked polls and sycophantic advisors, Romney went down just like Carly Fiorina, Ross Perot, Sharron Angle and Ned Lamont before him, the rich dope who just knew that things would break his way because he’s the boss, right?
And although the bobbing, unflushable media turds that clog the toilet that is our cable consciousness like Joe Scarborough and George Will would be loath to admit it, the U.S. is currently dying of the same thing that killed the Soviet Union: Executive rot.
Yes, it turns out that totalitarian communism and wild west capitalism look much the same when played out to their fullest extent, a tiny elite fattening their bank accounts and lavish lifestyles off the misery of the many.
So isn’t it about time we stopped asking GE’s Jack Welch about anything other than how he manages to grift the U.S. government into not taxing billions of dollars of income? Or where to buy an overpriced suit?
Just because you’re rich, Donald Trump, Jack Welch and Rupert Murdoch, it doesn’t make you a great man. It doesn’t make you into a mighty hunter or a race car driver or an astronaut or even a great mountaineer, John Delaney, sorry.
I bet you assholes can’t even shoot milk out of your eyes.
[image via Shutterstock.com]