Raghuram Rajan frames the unsaid agreement between the rich and non-rich perfectly:
What prevents the median voter in a democracy from voting to dispossess the rich and successful? And why do the latter not erode the political power of the former? Echoes of such a tension are playing out as President Barack Obama tries to tap into middle-class anger, while former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney appeals to disgruntled businesspeople.
CommentsOne reason that the median voter rationally agrees to protect the property of the rich may be that she sees the rich as more efficient managers of that property. So, to the extent that the rich are self-made, and have come out winners in a fair, competitive, and transparent market, society may be better off allowing them to own and manage their wealth, while getting a reasonable share as taxes. The more, however, that the rich are seen as idle or crooked – as having simply inherited or, worse, gained their wealth nefariously – the more the median voter should be willing to vote for tough regulations and punitive taxes on them.
“Idle” being the key word here, and a word I would’ve pegged to the elite long ago. Idle wealth is what produced Paris Hilton .. and other such freakish anomalies. That’s not good for society, and that’s why you have estates taxes, etc., so that money goes to work, and doesn’t end up on reality TV.