The power of cool: Why Obama and Zuckerberg are exempt from the rules

No one has suggested that Hollywood lower movie-ticket prices by asking Johnny Depp or Jennifer Lopez to walk away with $10 or $20 million less a year. Steve Jobs found ways to dodge taxes comparable to those deployed by any Wall Street fatcat, but he was iPad cool, and so his iPhone billions were exempt from the Occupy nonsense. Cool capitalists are immune from the neo-Marxist critique of capitalism — a racket that $40 billion–rich Warren Buffett learned late in life, but well enough, with the “Buffett Rule.”

We simply don’t mind that Google and Amazon rake in billions, but we despise Exxon and Archer Daniels Midland for doing the same. It is not that we need social networking and Internet searches more than food and fuel, but rather that we have the impression that cool zillionaires in flipflops are good while uncool ones in wingtips are quite bad…

Identity is key here. In general, to win exemption from the left-wing critique of America, the affluent must construct cool identities as far distant as possible from the white Christian heterosexual male, who is most culpable for creating our present affluence from ill-gotten gains. The multimillionaire Elizabeth Warren and her husband make nearly $1 million a year. They live in a home beyond the reach of 99 percent of America. And she may well have plagiarized and been dishonest about her own heritage. No matter — Warren washed away both her privilege and her sins by reinventing herself as a “Cherokee” who fights Wall Street oppressors.