Stop Celebrating the Wealthy

“My hatred of authority, along with my loathing for the pretensions, heartlessness and sense of entitlement of the rich, comes from living among the privileged.” – Chris Hedges

Society’s abhorrent obsession with the rich and famous is daunting. It’s insulting to the rest of us who struggle along day-to-day trying to forge a life for ourselves amongst this brain-dead corporate wasteland. Those who wield influence, who control the levers of power, are looked up to as role models. They attempt to brainwash us into wanting to be just like them and to celebrate their ostentatious accomplishments.

Their culture of self-obsession dominates mainstream media. Both in the news and on entertainment television we are told that success is defined by the price of your suit and the number of houses you own. Many of us shake off these norms as absurd hyperboles that exaggerate sensationalism to improve our perception of them. Yet, many of us also embrace these norms believing them to be the sole dominant truth. Thus, society worships those who ruthlessly clamber to the top of the social ladder. We reward those who allocate authority effectively. We give money to those who control and oppress to rejoice in our submissiveness. They’re rich. They control things in your life you have absolutely no say in. They affect you negatively. Therefore, those at the top are inherently oppressive. The problem isn’t how one gets there. It’s about getting there at all. One should never have that much power.

However, in doing this we simultaneously send the message that those at the bottom are worthless. The underclass is considered to constituent losers and those who failed. Activities commonly associated with this class are also suspect which is why our society has such poor services in the realms of drug addiction and mental illness. The media’s love of the rich also alienates the significance of other role models. For me, people such as Joe Hill, Lucy Parsons, Kurt Cobain, and Assatta Shakur are good role models. These people had convictions worth fighting for many of them losing their lives for their cause. Through challenging authority these people helped empower the voiceless and make society more democratic. Dickinson’s culture is no stranger to this wealthy cult of personality.

Last week Dickinson President Nancy Roseman revealed her true colors at the Senior Club event, Pints with Presidents. When asked what Dickinson could do to improve its mediocre drug policy, she responded saying Dickinson strictly follows all State and Federal drug laws. Roseman failed to realize that the laws are the problem. By making this statement, she is telling all students who recreationally use drugs that she does not have a problem discriminating against students for their lifestyle and medical choices. Blame shall not go toward Roseman personally rather than toward the establishment as a whole. Yet, having a salary that is $300,000 more than the United States President’s clearly makes her a part of that culture.

Her answers at this event were indifferent and fake. Only in terms of obvious issues such as Greek Life and Dining Services was she able to give entire answers. Another student asked what the school was doing to ensure that schools services accurately reflect the $60,000 price tag. Student Senate President William Nelligan made the mistake of saying the school should actually be charging more if it were to balance the costs it maintained to sustain campus activities. This elitist attitude creates the cultural riff between students and their representatives in the administration.

Most elite liberal arts schools are run by the same authoritarian culture that demands some type of social hierarchy to maintain dominance and complacency amongst the student body. This culture is maintained by bureaucracy, a compartmentalized system of organization that alienates people from their labor. Overtime, the bureaucrat becomes their job representing only a shell of their former humanity. The school terms this phenomenon professionalism. Professionalism denies the bureaucrat the ability to use their own opinions in making decisions. Instead, all of the procedures, regulations, and laws that govern the school become their personality.

“I tend to fall on the moderate side of most issues on the political spectrum,” Dean Elizabeth Farner once told me. Her statement shows how maintenance of the status quo seems to be the only opinion administrators are comfortable sharing. It also made me realize how defeated these bureaucrats must feel. By constantly maintaining a professionalist persona, they lose their ability to act in their own personal interest.