Theodore Dalrymple notes a cultural change in the USA:
. . . Now American society has many faults, no doubt, as all things human do; but the one sin of which it was traditionally freest, by comparison with all other societies, was envy. More people wished good luck to the successful in America than in any other society, though of course not all; fewer people were bitten by envy, and more people impelled by emulation, than anywhere else in the world. Indeed, there was a time, and not so long ago, when to display or appeal to envy would have been regarded as un-American, a virtual repudiation of the American dream. Mr Nixon despised Mr Kennedy as a pseudo-aristocratic spoilt brat, but didn’t dare say so in public in case it sounded envious.
So Mr Obama’s appeal to envy is a symptom, and perhaps a reinforcement, of a cultural change. It goes without saying that his own financial position is one which 99.9 per cent of the enviously-inclined might envy; but an appeal to that envy, to suggest even subliminally that a man with a large fortune is in some way existentially less suited ipso facto to the highest office than a man with less money, is no more traditionally American than would be a sneer at a man’s humble beginnings.
The excitation or exploitation of envy is wrong, even where the fortunate do not deserve their good fortune.
Politics of envy is not unknown here too.
It is part of what drives the left’s obsession with inequality.
The real economic and social problem is not that some people have a lot more than others but that some don’t have enough.
If inequality was the real problem it could be solved by dragging down those with more and making people equally poor.
That would not however, do anything to help those who don’t have enough, whatever enough is.