Like most folks, I am not wealthy.
Hemingway and F. Scot Fitzgerald always had a dispute over whether rich people are different from the rest of us. Fitzgerald believed they are and Hemingway believed they just had more money. It turns out they were both right: The rich are different from us because they have more money, which makes them into rich, entitled jerks. At least, that is what an article in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 014617213501699 reported in The Teamster Nation Blog of September 9, 2013. I can’t afford to subscribe to The Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, but I’ll take the Teamster’s word for it.
And if you toss celebrity into the Rich Entitled Jerkdom, they become bigger jerks. I am certain of this for two reasons. One, when I was a member of the Forth Estate and worked for a glossy magazine, I met many celebrities who were also rich, and with a few exceptions they were jerks. My very practical wife says they suffer from what she calls Acquired Celebrity Personality Disorder (ACPD).
If you don’t believe me, watch The Celebrity Apprentice where rich, entitled, Donald Trump takes glee in firing lesser rich, entitled, but just as jerky celebrities. Trump, who has declared business bankruptcy several times (he always seems to go broke when he is getting divorced) and claims to be worth billions, claims much of his money is in his “brand”. It turns out many of the buildings with the name TRUMP tacked onto them aren’t owned by him. He licenses his name to the real building owners. He convinces other rich people he is rich — worth billions including his “Brand”— and he will allow them to put his name on the building for a price. Now that is ACPD.
It sounds like a great racket.
Occasionally, Trump hints he might run for President. He will trot out a lot of tired right wing tropes and claim all the money he made entitles him to the Presidency. He never seems to tell people the most important thing he did to get money was have rich parents. And if you listen to him carefully, you’ll get the feeling he believes most criminals are Hispanic or African American, which sounds pretty racist to me. According to Trump, President Obama was born in Kenya and does not meet the Constitutional requirement of being a natural born American Citizen. Trump has not made the same complaint against Senator Ted Cruz who was born in Canada.
Hearing and watching him, one gets the feeling Trump is a three year-old who will do or say anything to get attention. With yellow hair, orange skin, and his lower lip curved outward, he is becoming a Saturday Night Live-type parody of himself. Of course, he is a great target for parody and he seems to enjoy the attention. He became embroiled in a spat with actress/comic Rosie O’Donnel for reasons I don’t understand other than it had something to do with the Miss USA Pageant. Since I don’t watch beauty contests — finding them on the smarmy side — and don’t think O’Donnel is all that funny, I had little interest in their spat. Trump loved the publicity.
He has an incredible ability to get his name mentioned on television, in newspapers, and in other media. He doesn’t seem to care for what and will say anything to achieve that goal.
He even has licensed his name for clothing, and sometime ago I was given one of his ties as present. Although I haven’t worn a tie for some time, it is a handsome one. Before I retired, I did wear it to court and received many compliments. Since I have never been known for sartorial excellence, I enjoyed the compliments.
A research team at the University of California has found that even when a game is rigged and all the players know the game is rigged, the winners still become entitled jerks. The investigators had subjects play Monopoly®, where one player received obvious advantages: The winners initially received more money to start with, more money when they passed “Go”, they were given two dice to toss instead of one, and they were allowed to charge more rent for their properties. Even though all the players knew the game was rigged, the winner still slowly became a bigger and bigger jerk, as though he or she deserved the advantages because of some universal moral secret.
What I find curious, however, is the losers didn’t complain of the game’s obvious unfairness. Nobody demanded the rules be restructured or the winner be ostracized for cheating, or simply refused to play. No, they just kept on losing and being bullied by a jerk. In fact, they seemed to admire the winner because if he did win there must be some moral or religious reason. God must love the rich more.
The economic system Donald Trump exploits also has a tinge of religion to it: Surveys show many Americans believe God is in control via the “invisible hand of the marketplace”. That this hand is invisible, yet moves in a predetermined way, implies it is omniscient, omnipotent, and distributes wealth in a just way. The rich are rewarded and the poor punished.
People like Donald Trump depend on the rest of us swallowing this drivel. What other reason can he have to act like such an entitled jerk?