Which is worse, 1) being rich, 2) pretending to be rich, 3) being poor, or 4) pretending to be poor?
My thoughts ?
Well, long as the wealth is acquired legally, I can't find anything wrong with number one. As for number two, I guess it could get an individual into trouble if left unchecked, but hey, whatever floats your boat. Number three just flat out sucks. And number four is just flat out wrong.
So does anybody remember when Hilary Clinton did a number four? It was during an interview about a year ago with ABC's Diane Sawyer. In case you're in need, here's a refresher on what the former First Lady and current presidential hopeful said:
"You have no reason to remember, but we came out of the White House not only dead broke, but in debt. We had no money when we got there, and we struggled to piece together the resources for mortgages for houses, for Chelsea's education. It was not easy. Bill has worked really hard. And it's been amazing to me. He's worked very hard."
What poor person do you know who is looking to acquire mortgage(s)?
Anyway, Politifact.com, which exists to fact check questionable utterances from politicians, wondered the same thing. They discovered that in the months before the Clintons left the White House, supposedly impoverished, they made a cash down payment of eight hundred fifty-five thousand dollars on a $2.8 million house in the DC area.
Today, they are filthy rich and it is to be expected according to Ohio State Professor, Jeffrey Hoopes who said,
"Almost any president leaving office can expect tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars of future earnings as a result of their having been president. Speaking, consulting, board positions, and so on, are all very lucrative"
For the sake of clarity, in the case of the Clintons, it is indeed hundreds of millions of dollars of future earnings. Depending on where you check, their net worth is currently somewhere between $55 and $80 million and counting. They've come a long way baby!
Now how about Elizabeth Warren? She hasn't done a number four, but she's built her political brand by vilifying the rich, both individuals and corporations - which to me is as bad as doing a number four. Take a look at what she said in an op-ed on CNN.com last spring,
"Big banks, powerful corporations and billionaires -- people who can afford to hire armies of lobbyists and lawyers -- have amassed more and more wealth. Meanwhile, the foundations of our once strong middle class have begun to crumble, and families have been caught in a terrible squeeze."
As it turns out, Harvard Law Professors seem to be amassing more and more wealth as well. She and her husband earned almost a million dollars in both 2009 and 2010 and have an estimated net worth of somewhere around $7 million. By that measure, Mrs. Warren is actually one of the richest senators in office according to opensecrets.org and she is among the "one percent" that she has constantly railed against in her rise to political prominence.
Take a look at how her wealth compares to that of her colleagues:
How do she and Mrs. Clinton square their own financial situations with their rhetoric as saviors of the poor? And how and why do poor people square it?
I propose the Ice Cube theory to answer from the Clinton/Warren perspective. Ice Cube was a rap singer who I listened to in my sometimes misspent youth. In one of my (then) favorite verses, he says:
"I'm not like Robin Hood because I want more.
I steal from the rich and hang with the poor."
The analogy doesn't quite hold because Clinton and Warren aren't stealing, but you get the gist.
Now, as for how poor people square it, I'm at a loss.
Oh, and just as a point of reference, take a look at Bernie Sanders chart below.
His net worth is only around three hundred and thirty thousand dollars. As politicians go, he is a pauper. That makes him either blind, dumb, or sincere.
I actually think it's sincere. Good for him.