Victor Davis Hanson

First lady Michelle Obama the other day railed at "the few at the top," who do all sorts of bad things. A few months ago, we began hearing of the "1 percent" who are responsible for the current economic mess. "They" apparently make all their money at the expense of the other 99 percent. Are they the same as last year's villains, who had not paid "their fair share" in making over $200,000 in annual income?

Do they include the greedy doctors, who, the president once asserted, recklessly lop off limbs and yank tonsils for profits? Is my urologist a dreaded one-percenter? He found out what was causing my kidney stones but probably makes good money. Was a nearby farmer one, too? I bet he makes over $200,000 but, like many other growers in this area, has found a way to produce beef and cotton more cheaply and efficiently than farmers in almost any other part of the world, thereby enriching his county, state and nation.

I am writing this essay on a MacBook Pro laptop. So I wonder, was the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs a suspect billionaire? Should I be mad or grateful that he made billions by permanently replacing my old scissors, paste, and bottle of liquid paper of the 1970s?

Did Johnny Depp really have to earn $50 million last year alone -- or Leonardo DiCaprio $77 million? Couldn't they have settled for $2 million in salary in 2010, and thereby passed on a little bit of the savings to their ticket-buying fans? What kind of system would allow Oprah Winfrey or the late Michael Jackson each to accumulate nearly $1 billion? Is left-wing filmmaker Michael Moore -- reportedly worth $50 million -- a one-percenter? Why does such an enemy of capitalism need so much capitalist largesse?

Do this administration and its supporters really wish to separate millions of diverse Americans by a moral divide of the "few at the top"? Are liberals like Sens. John Kerry or Dianne Feinstein -- among the richest in the U.S. Senate -- in that elite group?

How about Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, together worth over $100 billion? They are certainly philanthropists. But their charities are predicated on two assumptions: They both apparently trust the private sector more than government to administer their vast estates, and neither sees much of a problem in avoiding billions in inheritance taxes that would one day be due to a now-broke federal treasury.


Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a recipient of the 2007 National Humanities Medal.