I edited a story at work this week about a man who turned against the crass, wasteful materialism of American holiday shopping. The revelation came to him on a hiking holiday in Nepal, where he was touched by the simple lives of the Sherpa people, untroubled by jobs with huge American corporations. Or erstwhile jobs. At age 48, the man is a former marketing executive.
Having presumably made his pile, he came back to America so he could tell others how to get rid of theirs. He founded a Web site that encourages people to make charitable donations rather than give gifts. "Your friends don't have to slog through the malls finding you stuff you don't want," he told a reporter at my newspaper. "Your friends get a tax deduction. The environment loves you for not using gas, packaging, and wrapping paper."
What do I think is especially American about this story? That the man started a Web site to link givers and charities, for one thing. Americans proverbially have an entrepreneurial bent that's lacking in other countries. They also, proverbially, worship money but feel guilty about it. So, make enough money to be a former executive while still in your forties, jet off to hike in the Himalayas, then come back and preach simplicity.
|Is this man a wanker?|
"Moral decline and bad behavior is not limited to a few of the poorest parts of our society," he said. "In the highest offices, the plushest boardrooms, the most influential jobs, we need to think about the example we are setting."
Is David Cameron like that all the time? Or does he show his true colors at moments of stress, his apparent belief that the rich exist to set moral examples for the depraved poor? I mean, the man didn't even try to hide the dripping condescension, the suggestion that poor people are like recalcitrant children whose betters must show them the right way.
Is that noblesse oblige talking, or is Cameron just a twit and a wanker?
© Peter Rozovsky 2011