Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodrigues are one of the many “power couples” who grace our headlines all too often. They are rich and famous and for some reason this means they are followed by photographers more than anyone would care to experience. There are countless other power couples just like them and because there are, and because they are hounded by the press, they end up getting caught doing things others are not allowed and getting away with it.
This time, Lopez and Rodrigues got caught leaving a gym after getting in a workout. Their crime was having enough influence to get the gym’s owner to open up for them when the business has a sign posted it is closed due to COVID-19. At a time when regular men and women are left without access to their gyms and have to scramble to find ways to workout at home, these two are being afforded special treatment. It is this special treatment we hate and not your net worth.
Some buy their way into receiving preferential treatment so their kids get into a college they have no business attending. Others get popped for a DUI and carry on with life like nothing happened because their fame does not result in losing out on a recording contract, film role, or place in high society. You see, they are rich so they pay people to make “problems” go away.
It’s this ability to ignore the laws and expectations of society and being able to pay to make things go away that makes us hate the wealthy. If you can afford to pay to make your problems go away, we figure you can afford to make our problems disappear, especially when our problems are not our doing. We figure you can and should pay more taxes so we can afford decent health care, access to higher education, more social services, and better run public schools before you pay off people to block public access to the beach your house borders.
We understand you do not want to be a part of us and this is why you live in rich enclaves so as not to have to come into contact with the people you convince to attend your movies, concerts, or countless other endeavors. It’s why your homes so often do not burn to the ground because you can pay for your own private fire service while the rest of us watch helplessly as an underfunded and overworked fire service scrambles to save what they can. While you post videos showing you serving a catered meal to show your thanks to the people who saved your home, your state’s leaders are trying to figure out ways to pay their bills without having to hurt the rest of us.
This is where you come in. Because you are rich and because you can afford to pay more than the rest of us who scrape by, we figure you owe us your money as payment for being allowed to live by a different set of rules. If you can pay off someone to not press charges against you when you lose it and punch them, or injure them because you were too drunk to see the light was red, or because your mischievous teenage brat was just being one of the boys, you can afford to pay more in taxes.
For most of us, our actions speak louder than our words. For too many who are wealthy, their money makes their actions disappear. Your carefully crafted image that you go to great lengths to keep is bought and paid for. Perhaps if you were to just be a better person, you could use all that money spent on damage control to help people in real need rather than to bail yourself out of another embarrassing jam.
Bill Gates has more money than God and I do not recall him having to bail himself out of a jam. He lives in a huge house and I am sure he enjoys many comforts most of us cannot afford. He also does more good for those without than perhaps anyone on the planet. Wealth and the influence it has brought him has not changed who he is at the core. Because it hasn’t, when he dies, his legacy will be felt long after he is buried.
He does not go through life like he is a kid left alone in a candy shop only to blame others for him robbing it. Instead, he works to ensure those without an opportunity receive the fair shot that all too often never makes it to people whose only crime is being poor.
You see, Bill Gates, and others who are rich, see themselves as equals who are in a position to help others, something the Jennifer Lopezes, Alex Rodriguez’s, and people with names like Trump, Kushner, or even Kardashian are oblivious to. There is a reason so many wealthy people ignore us except for when it is time to put on an act so we pay them our hard earned money; they have forgotten who we are. They actually believe they outworked us to get to where they are as opposed to feeling fortunate to have been blessed with what they have at a time when others struggle.
The best thing us regulars can do when it comes to the rich and famous is to hold them accountable. They might still buy their way out of problems, but that does not mean we have to buy their well-crafted image. Before deciding to give up your hard earned money so they can have another box office hit or sell you another worthless item, make them pay you. Make them put up or shut up by telling them we expect anyone who is fortunate enough to make it in this world to give back to the society that made them rich and famous. Their wealth and fame is not an entitlement, it is a responsibility just as all of us are expected to be responsible.
The next time someone tells you it is not a crime to be rich and that the wealthy should not be punished just because of their bank account, ask yourself if any of them are stressed about when that stimulus check is going to arrive? Ask yourself how they are going to feel knowing they have to pay a tax on that check that is coming from money already paid by the average tax paying citizen?
Is it fair to tax someone more because they are rich? Let me answer that by reminding you of one of life’s hardest lessons to accept. No one said life is fair. As long as one percent of the nation owns half of all the stocks and wealth in this land, they can pay the price that comes with wealth. Perhaps when we see more wealthy people conducting themselves like Bill and Melinda Gates than we do Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez, we might see an end to this class war. Until then, the rich can expect to see the rest of us coming after them.
Top photo of Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez by Claudia Gestro
Jim is a life long resident of California and retired school teacher with 30 years in public education. Jim earned his BA in History from CSU Chico in 1981 and his MA in Education from Azusa Pacific University in 1994. He is also the author of Teaching The Teacher: Lessons Learned From Teaching. Jim considers himself an equal opportunity pain in the ass to any political party, group, or individual who looks to profit off of hypocrisy. When he is not pointing out the conflicting words and actions of our leaders, the NFL commissioner, or humans in general, he can be found riding his bike for hours on end while pondering his next article. Jim recently moved to Camarillo, CA after being convinced to join the witness protection program.