Once you look past the patent silliness and First World problems of the almost-rich mentally scapegoating the already-rich, it becomes increasingly clear why income inequality has become the anxiety of choice for the upper-middle-class left. If you’re mad about your neighbor’s private jet, after all, it makes it a heck of a lot easier to ignore the poor kid from the wrong side of the tracks who was just denied access to a quality charter school—thanks, of course, to the charter-blocking policies of the politicians you voted (and perhaps raised funds) for.
It’s a lot more fun to pretend that some archetypal rich guy is the problem than to admit that the problem might actually be you, your friends, and your priorities.
There remains no substantial evidence that taxing rich people, confiscating their wealth, or forcing them into hiding would really do anything other than pass along some extra cash to a somewhat smug cabal of upper-middle-class bureaucrats. Unfortunately, when it comes to Thomas Piketty’s Income Inequality Good-Time Jamboree, helping people is not really the point. Feeling better about yourself—and maybe even mentally positioning yourself as a victim now and then—is.
Somewhere, you see, there might be a rich man kiteboarding right now off the coast of his private island. It is not confirmed, but he may have a supermodel riding on his back. One thing is sure: He does not have to go to the post office. We must stop him. Things like embarrassingly horrible government schools, and the kids trapped in them, can wait.