If you're looking for some midday feature reading, you can't do much better than Chrystia Freeland's piece on the "new global elite" in The Atlantic. The whole thing is very good, though I have a small quibble with this passage:
What is more relevant to our times, though, is that the rich of today are also different from the rich of yesterday. Our light-speed, globally connected economy has led to the rise of a new super-elite that consists, to a notable degree, of first- and second-generation wealth. Its members are hardworking, highly educated, jet-setting meritocrats who feel they are the deserving winners of a tough, worldwide economic competition -- and many of them, as a result, have an ambivalent attitude toward those of us who didn’t succeed so spectacularly.
If "ambivalent" is code for disdain -- passive or otherwise -- then these nouveau riche aren't so different from their predecessors; with few historical exceptions, the rich have always been ambivalent about the poor and less fortunate. Indeed, I wouldn't be shocked if the presence of "meritocracy" (as if these people have no prior advantages) intensified feelings of disdain. After all, if you can succeed, why can't these people (and as a corollary, "what right do they have to my wealth")?
To be fair, disdain for the less fortunate is completely understandable as a response to visible disparities. On some level, we all know that our position is an accident of birth. For a lot of people, a sense of class superiority is a necessary part of the illusion that they are "deserving" of their good fortune.
-- Jamelle Bouie
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