Thursday, April 28, 2011


I was briefly interested in Ayn Rand. Then sophomore year ended, and I moved on. I was a total dweeb and unathletic, but I never had any delusions that I was secretly superior to others, and I never thought much of the whole notion that smart people or selfish people or rich people were somehow morally superior. This was especially true of wealth. I grew up in an environment where a lot of lowborn folks managed to get rich in the textile business, and it was easy to see that wealth did not do anything to improve any of them. Them as were virtuous when they were poor continued to be so, and them as were not did not appear to acquire any virtue along with their property. On the contrary, they simply became insufferable.

Old money seemed to be another matter. Some of the old wealthy families seemed to have spent their leisure time in acquiring learning and social graces and in developing a sense of obligation to the community. They didn't have the snobbery or arrogance of the newly rich, nor did they engage in ostentatious displays of their wealth. They sponsored art and beautification and educational opportunities. I barely knew their children since they all attended private schools in other towns, but I admired and respected the aristocratic adults with whom I came into contact. They did not have any illusion that they deserved or merited their status. They humbly acknowledged that it was inherited and an accident of birth.

In college, I encountered a lot of children of wealthy merchants, and almost all of them were total douchebags. They had no shame in announcing to all and sundry that they were superior creatures by virtue of their fathers' having bought them fine cars and giving them 4 figure monthly allowances. They seemed to believe that they deserved all this largesse and that those of us who did not have wealthy merchant parents were beneath them no matter how you sliced it. This was probably the natural byproduct of filial love which these merchants expressed mainly by showering their children with property and every indulgence. They did not want their children to experience the shame or deprivation that they had been made to feel before they became wealthy through hard work and good fortune. I did not accept their assessment of my self worth, and I confess that I was often impatient and contemptuous of the princes and princesses whom I encountered in school. I pitied the parents of these ingrates. The parents seemed like such nice people for the most part, but they had turned their children into monsters.

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