Now that I have your attention, I think it is fair to state up front that there really are few disadvantages to growing up wealthy. You never have to worry about finding a job or joining the military to pay for college. Your dad’s friend helps you get your first cushy summer internship at his law firm. Your dad’s other friend helps you secure a prestigious position at a major technology company after college where every employee but you has a 3.9 GPA in engineering from MIT or Stanford. You never get laid off because the firm at which you work could lose your father’s business. You get to take cool vacations like hobnobbing with your daddy’s economist friends in Davos, and then taking a detour to ski the Alps.
Despite these advantages, there is one disadvantage that will always follow those who have had wealthy childhoods, no matter where they go:
They never had to worry about money.
Many of them started life on third base, but are convinced they hit a triple. They rarely had to worry about paying their bills or a mortgage, because daddy always stood in the wings ready to bail them out. Because of the reality distortion field they have always inhabited, many of those with wealthy childhoods have had few interactions as equals with the poor, or even the middle class. Sure, they did their obligatory community service project at some $50,000-dollar a year boarding school to fatten their applications to the Ivy League. Some may even have spent a year abroad doing community service. For instance, Mitt Romney spent a full two years completing a mission as part of his Mormon faith. However, even that experience was likely less arduous than the average Mormon mission. After all, Romney served his time in France.
It seems that this lack of any real financial struggle has made Romney tone-deaf in what he says about people and money. This fault is Romney’s veritable Achilles heel. He just cannot help himself. At a time when the country has suffered through multiple years of severe unemployment and economic malaise, he “challenged Texas Gov. Rick Perry to a $10,000 bet” on live television. Yesterday, he told CNN: “I’m not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there.” Now, while it is true there are plenty of programs that help keep the poor afloat, to declare that he’s not very concerned about the poor reveals a layer of obliviousness that only Don Quixote could admire.
The real shame is that Mitt Romney’s experience turning around companies and the Salt Lake City Olympics, and running Massachusetts, is exactly what the country needs to rise out of its economic doldrums. I am willing to look past his glaring tone-deafness to the plight of the average American, because I know he will focus on growing the entire economic pie rather than redistributing a shrinking pie like the current community organizer-in-chief.
Come on, Mitt, you should know better by now. You may never be able to empathize with “regular” folks, but at least hire a better public relations professional who does.
Where’s Karen Hughes when you need her?