(Los Angeles) It is Academy Award weekend in the nation's entertainment capital, and the one percenters are out in force. Wealth displays are running riot, robust consumption the philosophical standard.
I am staying at the legendary Bel-Air Hotel, a place where a cheeseburger and fries cost more than $30. Business is good. Money for most guests – no concern. They have it, they spend it. Life for the swells is sweet – at least they want you to think it is.
President Obama has little use for these wealthy people but, strangely, many of them fervently love him for despising their circumstance. Unlike Bill Clinton, who couldn't get enough west coast "hospitality," Mr. Obama takes their political donations but then gets out of town faster than Wile E. Coyote. He knows show business is a shallow pit where almost everyone is disposable.
Above all, the president is a social justice man. And despite all the celebrity liberal blather, social justice is not exactly a top priority in the elegant salons of Beverly Hills, where hair treatments can run a thousand bucks. It must be hard for the president to cozy up to people who spend $20,000 on a weekend vacation after his experience on the south side of Chicago. True compassion for the underprivileged must extend further than celebrity fundraisers at Spago and the president knows it.
It is certainly difficult for good, selfless people to defend the excesses of capitalism, and Barack Obama has capitalized on the resentment. He has seized the greed to fund his level-playing field dream by demanding the wealthy pay "their fair share." The president is going to take as much money from the affluent as he can before he leaves office. He has turned the White House into Sherwood Forest; taxing the rich and redistributing the cash to the less well off.
But the unintended consequences of the money grab have escaped the president. The folks who drive the economy don't trust him. Banks continue to sit on billions in cash that could be lent to expand the economy. Many small business owners are actually cutting back their payrolls because of the massive Obamacare regulations.
So instead of encouraging the private marketplace to create opportunities for Americans, Mr. Obama is actually strangling upward mobility. This defeats his purpose of economic justice and the rising debt that he is championing may, in the end, crush the underclass.
All of this is far too complicated for many show biz types to absorb. It is much easier to feel than to think. And they feel much better about their $100,000 cars when they cheer for the social justice president. But like Hollywood itself, America's current fiscal situation is primarily smoke and mirrors. And believe me, there is no wizard behind the curtain.