Let Them Eat Cake

Let Them Eat Cake

Around 1789, Marie-Antoinette, bride of France’s King Louis XVI, is believed to have said “let them eat cake,” when she was told that her French subjects had no bread to eat. Soon after, the French Revolution felled the Monarchy and Marie-Antoinette literally lost her head.

I doubt a revolution is in our future, but our national government today is top heavy with people, mostly men, who are as far from understanding the needs of the vast majority of Americans as the French Monarchy was in 1789.

The Trump Cabinet (not to mention Trump himself) is filled with billionaires and multi-billionaires. A few are lowly multi millionaires. But, as the New York Times has discovered, the vast majority of White House staff are themselves multi-millionaires. In fact, politicians in and out of Congress and on both sides of the aisle, are far more wealthy than most realize. Before Trump, and the emergence of the billionaire class in the executive branch, politicians have found increasing opportunities to fill their pockets, to become millionaires and more, while doing the people’s business.

But 7 in 10 Americans don’t have a $1,000 in savings. One half of one percent of our citizenry have 10 million or more dollars in savings, and many senior members of our government have resources that place them in the tiniest imaginable percentage of citizens.

America is now, more than ever before, in the hands of an extremely wealthy elite. The irony, of course, is that Trump and Republicans came to power because America’s working class rejected Hillary Clinton (and her husband) primarily because they felt she and Bill had hugely enriched themselves as a result of and during their roles in politics.

But, today – irony or not, those in power are furthest away than ever before from understanding the needs of most Americans. The replacement health care bill that went down just a bit ago is a case in point. But, that bill is just the beginning or a period ahead when the most wealthy are going to try to serve the population at large.

Given that history has shown time and time again that it is virtually impossible for most people of enormous wealth to understand and serve those with infinitely less, there is little reason to expect much from the men now in power. In fact, I would not be surprised to hear “let them eat cake” in today’s corridors of power.

Daniel Socolow
Daniel Socolow: President, Socolow Group. Former Director of the MacArthur Fellows Program, President of the American University of Paris, Vice President of Spelman College. BA, MA, Ph.D.

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