Lifestyles of the Rich and Privileged Political Class | Opinion

Government debt in the United States—municipal, county, state and federal combined—has swelled to a whopping $30 trillion. If you're reading this on a smartphone, you might need to turn your device sideways so you can see what that looks like written out:


Clearly, members of the political class are eager to keep spending us into more and more debt. The question is, what do they have to show for all the spending? What have we to show for it?

For us, the political class has purchased moral rot.

After decades of social programs that incentivize idleness and irresponsibility, we now have a progressive culture that features historic high rates of social pathologies, including personal and substance abuse, neglect, depression, suicide, fatherlessness and random murders.

The political class has also purchased, with our money, an ever more pernicious education system.

Public schools preach ad nauseam the virtues of being "yourself," while saying little about being virtuous. They teach young Americans to loathe their country and loathe themselves—except for those belonging to the currently preferred identity groups.

Students graduating from today's government-managed schools may not have been taught how to build anything or do anything, but they have been trained to feel envious, angry and scared, and to view those in the political class as their saviors.

Finally, the political class has purchased for us a sprawling regulatory state that makes everything we buy more expensive and adds unnecessary complications to everything we do. Regulations weigh heavily on those who start or run businesses, dissuading many from even trying. In places like California and New York, regulations have driven housing costs so high that the chasm separating renters from homeowners is unbridgeable for many people.

The poor, the disadvantaged and the most vulnerable—those the political class purports to help—are the people hurt most by the political class. What are the proposed solutions? More social programs, more subsidies, more regulations, more spending, more debt. Of course.

debt clock
A sign showing the national debt and each Americans share is displayed on November 6, 2019 in Washington, DC. Tasos Katopodis/Getty

What have members of the political class purchased for themselves with our money and our debt? Personal job security and privileged lifestyles.

The political class has created the myriad unconstitutional agencies, offices and bureaus that form the largest money laundering operation in human history. Money taken from taxpayers like you is channeled to millions of government employees, some of which goes to government employee unions, and then to political campaigns.

Ever wonder why incumbency rates for Congress hover around 90 percent or higher? It's not because of their magnetic personalities, good looks or towering genius. It's because you are paying for their reelection campaigns, whether you know it or not, whether you want to or not.

The political class uses your money to expand its own power by rewarding the politically connected with subsidies, grants, contracts, waivers, exemptions and other perks, while punishing political opponents and business competitors.

In an age of unprecedented government spending and debt—and unconstitutional government power and control—more members of Congress become millionaires while in office than ever before. Is there any doubt as to why?

Greater Washington D.C. is now the wealthiest metropolitan area in the United States. Want to find the highest concentrations of exotic car dealerships, imported fine wines, and custom tailors? Go to the centers of government power. Go to the haute neighborhoods where members of the political class live.

To borrow a distinction popularized by economic historian Burton Folsom, members of the political class are far more likely to be political entrepreneurs—getting rich by trading government favors—than competitive market entrepreneurs.

To be a political entrepreneur is to be like the privileged Pelosi family. Buy more than half a million dollars of Tesla stock days before President Biden announces he will replace the entire federal fleet of vehicles with electric cars. And call it luck.

To be in the privileged political class today is to travel freely, dine in the best restaurants and go to the best hair salons while commanding the hoi polloi to lock down, shut down and stay home. It means being protected 24 hours a day by heavily armed men while asking why ordinary citizens need guns. It's never missing a taxpayer-funded paycheck, while shutting down taxpayer-owned businesses and leaving people to beg for little stimulus checks.

"Do as I say, not as I do" is the motto of the modern privileged political leaders and operators whose lifestyles depend on our money, our productivity and debt our kids and grandkids will have to pay. How does that make you feel?

Thomas Krannawitter is Cofounder and Chief Content Officer at The Vino & Veritas Society. He was formerly Vice President at the Claremont Institute, he's taught at Claremont McKenna College, Hillsdale College, and George Mason University, and he's the author of numerous books.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.