So a rich guy and a homeless guy walk into a bar . . .
Sorry, let me start over.
So a rich guy and a homeless guy walk into a dumpster . . .
One more time. A rich guy and a homeless guy walk into The Washington Post . . .
America is officially a “Tale of Two Cities,” as New York Mayor Bill de Blasio says.
The grand canyon between extreme wealth and abject poverty has grown so wide and deep that we have lost all perspective. We have become indifferent and uncaring.
It’s common for the rich, especially, to believe that poor people choose to be poor. The rich imagine the poor are HAPPY.
The uncomprehending attitude toward poverty is on display in the Business section of Sunday’s Washington Post.
Scott Adams was striking a learned tone when he callowly compared rich and poor. His essay started on the front of the Sunday Business section, beneath a huge, unbusinesslike cartoon of Dilbert with a dog holding a plate of French fries. The billionaire and homeless guy are on page G5. Here is the offending paragraph:
“Keep in mind that happiness is a directional phenomenon. We feel happy when things are moving in the right direction no matter where we are at the moment. The homeless guy who finds a promising dumpster is happier in the moment than the billionaire who just lost $100 million on a bad investment.”
Some people call this sort of brainless gaffe a “howler.” It should have been caught by copy editors.
A howler looks plausible at a glance, but upon careful reading, it’s revealed to be an ignorant blunder, obviously illogical. Some people will read it over and over and still not get it.
So let me get this straight. A billionaire loses $100 million. A homeless guy finds a dumpster. Is he supposed to eat out of the dumpster or sleep in it? Whatever.
Are we supposed to believe that the billionaire, who still has at least $900 million left and is drinking French wine at his country estate, is SAD? And the homeless guy with the dumpster, is HAPPY?
The hapless writer, Scott Adams, is the creator of the “Dilbert” cartoon, seen in 2,000 newspapers around the world. He’s a superstar among celebrities. Is that why his learned essay about happiness was the most prominent part of The Post’s Sunday Business section?
What were the business editors thinking? Why did they devote the main Business page to a cartoon that had absolutely nothing at all to do with business? There is no logical explanation for Scott Adams and his windy essay and overblown cartoon in the Business section. The only possible reason is celebrity.
For a look at the Business page in question, and the previous post on this witless essay, click right here.
It’s a good example of the “winner take all” economy. Hundreds of reporters, including business writers, are out of work, and a cartoonist gets paid to write about happiness in the Business section.
To put this blunder in sharper perspective, consider: Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, a certified billionaire, paid $280 million to buy The Washington Post newspaper.
The paper, by its own report, is a money-losing operation that’s suffered declining readership and advertising for years. Does this sound like a good investment? Jeff Bezos stands to lose $280 million if his investment turns bad. Do you think Jeff Bezos is happier than the homeless guy, or sadder?
Someone should tell Scott Adams that billionaires make $100 million gambles in the stock market and in losing newspapers for fun. When they lose, they take it off their income taxes.
So this is how wide and incomprehensible the gap has become, between wealth and poverty, in America. Many middle-class people who are neither rich nor poor actually believe that a homeless guy is happy and a billionaire is sad.
The only explanation is mass hallucination. People believe that the poor cannot feel suffering and hunger. And billionaires cannot feel happiness.
— John Hayden
What do you think? Simply click on the tiny line below that says “Comment.” Your thoughts, pro or con, are appreciated.