I was at a gathering on Saturday in Dallas in the brand new home of a couple that is somewhat close to me. When I describe the home, don’t draw any conclusions about me. Though they are close for reasons I won’t disclose, I am a visitor in their home no more often than two times a year.
The home sits on about an acre in Highland Park, the wealthy enclave just north of Downtown Dallas. I’d estimate the house at approximately 10,000 square feet. The basement features a full, commercial fitness center-style gym, a massage room, two commercial HVAC and mechanical rooms and a fully sound-proofed shooting range.
On the ground floor, the front door opens to a 25-foot gallery hall that leads to a 600 square foot living room. The kitchen is about half as large as the entire ground floor of my house and features a sub-kitchen for staging meals much like the expediting area of a restaurant.
In the back of the house, in a separate building, is a mechanical shop that would be the envy of any automotive repair facility in north or east Texas.
I didn’t go upstairs to the bedrooms but I could have and I could have either used one of the two staircases or I could have taken the elevator that is tastefully hidden behind what looks like a coat closet door.
Suffice to say that this house is something out of a fantasy. It is tasteful and doesn’t overbear. But it would serve nicely as the home of any of the mega-wealthy celebrities whose stories we read in the grocery store magazines.
To be fair, I must tell you that this couple is kind and decent and has stepped up to help members of their family, members of their church and members of their community without fanfare and without recognition. Their charitable foundation has for decades given millions to medicine, education and the arts.
This couple, however, did not make the money. They have been excellent stewards of a fortune that got made in the East Texas oil field when those fortunes were being made.
And that helps explain the Obama sign in the front yard.
I will confess that the Obama yard sign sent me to the moon. How do you live opulently on the fruits of capitalist success and yet favor someone who wants to tax away capital?
But then, of course, I answered my own question. This couple has never had to cover a payroll or face a layoff. They pay what is no doubt a staggering sum each year in taxes but that process is made largely painless by a small army of lawyers and accountants who minimize the impact of taxation on the practicalities of their daily living. Absent a nationalization of all private wealth, their lifestyle lies beyond the reach of bad national policy.
And when they die, no one will have to sell or mortgage a home or a family business in order to raise the cash to pay the estate taxes.
Thus, they cannot understand Joe the Plumber save for the belief that Joe is not competent to manage wealth if he ever comes in to any. Nice as they are, they condescend to Joe the Plumber. They don’t believe that Joe has the capacity to know what is best for him. Joe is not as educated as they nor as sophisticated. They, the liberal wealthy, must promote government that does what is best for Joe, even if Joe doesn’t think so.
They are not unlike the mega-wealthy everywhere who support Obama, in part I believe, because they don’t accept their own wealth as legitimate. When six months of work will net $10 or $20 million for a Hollywood star or when simply getting out of bed is sufficient effort to live like one, it is hard to imagine how Joe the Plumber, whose earned wealth Obama wants to spread around, actually comes at the world.
But here’s a memo to rich liberals. Joe doesn’t need you. Joe the Plumber is perfectly willing to take his chances managing his own legitimately earned wealth. Joe the Plumber and Sally the Beauty Shop Owner and Bill the Printer expect to succeed or fail on their own. And when they do succeed, they won’t feel the least bit guilty about it.
Joe and Sally and Bill are the ones who make the economy work. Tax them too heavily and you have killed the Golden Goose.
And thank God, that buffeted as they are by the winds of the current economic crisis, they’d still rather take their chances creating their own economic security as opposed to relying on confiscated wealth that is distributed through some soulless program of government.
You, my rich liberal friends, support Barack Obama because you can.
Joe the Plumber supports John McCain because he must.