Via Newsbusters, I wonder if this is a simple case of him lying or if class demagoguery has now reached the point where the “heroes” honestly don’t know who the “villains” are. My sense is that the OWS crowd thinks the top one percent consists of the Forbes 400 plus anyone who works in finance in any capacity above the secretarial level. That is to say, “one percent” isn’t to be taken literally as a metric; it’s just a catch-all term for “rich people we don’t like.” By that standard, of course Moore’s not one of them. He’s the guy who goes around describing the Forbes 400 as “400 little Mubaraks,” remember?
But maybe I’m wrong and they really are using “one percent” as a metric. In that case, as of 2009, the top one percent included everyone with an adjusted gross income of $343,947 (and relatively few of them are bankers). In fact, a few weeks ago, none other than Chuck Schumer insisted that “many” households that make $250-300,000 a year can’t really be considered rich because of the cost of living in their city. If that’s the standard, then — well, let’s let Moore tell it himself. Here he is in an interview alllll the way back in early 2002:
“I’m a millionaire, I’m a multi-millionaire. I’m filthy rich. You know why I’m a multi-millionaire? ‘Cause multi-millions like what I do. That’s pretty good, isn’t it? There’s millions that believe in what I do. Pretty cool, huh?”
That was the same year as “Bowling for Columbine” and two years before his big success with “Fahrenheit 9/11,” so however many multi-millions he had banked at the time, he’s got more now — and that’s not counting the millions he claims he’s owed but hasn’t received. Unless, of course, he’s since divested himself of his fortune by donating it to the Treasury Department. They make a few million each year with their gift program. Maybe it’s all him.
Seriously, though: Which criteria, precisely, does a rich person have to meet to be exempt from the dreaded “one percent” label for class-warfare purposes? Moore has a get-out-of-revolutionary-jail-free card because he’s been a left-wing demagogue par excellence for years. He’s spent his whole career fighting the system. (And the system’s made a nice profit from promoting him, which tells you how much corporate powerbrokers fear agitprop.) Oprah would be excluded because, well, she’s too darned nice. Steve Jobs would be exempt, I suspect, on sheer merit. Granted, he was an Obama-friendly liberal, but that’s not what gets him off the list. The thrust of the anti-one-percent rhetoric is that bankers are bloodsuckers, siphoning off the people’s wealth and contributing nothing of value in return. No one seriously believes that about the guy who came up with the iPod and the iPhone, no matter how many billions he had in the bank. A trickier case would be Warren Buffett, who votes the right way and says all the right things about the rich paying more but who’s so famously, fantastically wealthy that by any definition he simply has to qualify. That’d be a question worth posing to the stalwarts at Zuccotti Park. Are Buffett and, say, George Soros part of “the problem”? If not, why not? They can afford to pay a lot, lot, lot more than the rates they’ll be subject to if the Bush tax cuts lapse. Why don’t they?