In case you are among those who think the rich are smarter than the rest of us, I would like to refer you to one of the richest and wisest guys in the ancient world, Solomon. This is what he had to say in the book of Proverbs, chapter 28 verse 11 — here are two modern translations of it:
The rich are wise in their own eyes; one who is poor and discerning sees how deluded they are. — New International Version
The rich man is wise in his own eyes, But the poor who has understanding sees through him. — New American Standard Version
It doesn’t take much in the way of discernment to understand that most of the American public rarely hears how conservatives would govern if they were in charge. What does filter down is a cartoonish portrayal of what Republicans and conservatives stand for. In the past couple of years I have had conversations with low information voters that were startling. It is truly amazing what a lot of people don’t know — and what they think they know is worse.
It is going to take money to fix the information flow problem in our country. A lot of money. It’s a credit to many conservative and libertarian rich people that they have been stepping up in greater numbers in recent years to support good sounding causes. Those who have always been in the game — and many readers of this column know some of them by name — deserve praise for their generosity.
The problem is, however, millions are being wasted and many deserving projects aren’t being funded. Meanwhile, liberal rich people — especially radically liberal rich people — are in the political game in the right way. I’ve cited the Obama campaign in ’08 and ’12. That campaign didn’t end last November — it morphed into Organizing for America the day after election day. It’s a well-funded effort that’s going to continue to insure that many of our fellow citizens remain misinformed or uninformed.
As frustrating as this reality is, we have no choice but to address it head on. Conservative and libertarian rich people need to wise up and stop funding think tanks that don’t adequately disseminate the wonderful materials they produce. They need to stop funding candidates who disappear into office and don’t become public opinion leaders. They need to stop writing checks to Karl Rove-type individuals who’ve proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that they don’t know everything.
One of the best things to come out of the 2012 election was that guys like Rove are beginning to lose credibility. Some of us were pointing out his failings a decade ago. Things like this should not take so long to learn. The government-created mess is getting bigger and it is past time for the wealthy people on our side to begin a high protein diet and consider taking nutrients that help improve brain function.
If today’s big donors on the political right want their efforts to be recorded for posterity in a positive light they had better change course. Their lack of knowledge has contributed to the mess we’re in as much as anything, and their waking up to that fact and changing their behavior can be the key ingredient in turning the tide towards a better informed public. They should stop measuring the value of their contributions by their feelings and start asking, “How many of the uninformed will be reached (words to eyes, sound to ears) and how many minds will be changed if I write this check?”
Rich guys have been critical to the success of this country since the Revolutionary War itself. Up next, let’s look at Haym Solomon and Robert Morris. It’s worth knowing why, when George Washington needed funding for what was to be the last battle of the war, he said, “Send for Haym Solomon.”
(Updated version. First published October 2013)