Aspiring elitist alert: forget about the one percent. If you think you qualify, or hope someday to qualify, or think that membership in this crowd certifies you as part of the elect, you are wrong.
Now it’s the 0.5%.
Tom Steyer, a billionaire hedge fund manager, is concerned with spreading awareness here in the homeland about critical issues like climate change. Freed from penury and the mundane obligations that enchamper most of humanity, Mr. Steyer broods on the weightiest matters, and spends much of time now funding political candidates who embrace his vision. And he is mightily chuffed by the level of enlightenment amongst the Olympians he encounters:
“I think if you were to go around to most of the — what I would think of as super-sophisticated people who think about politics and policy more than five minutes a month — we are doing really well.”
But he worries about the rest of us — people who just don’t have the time, vision or brainpower to embrace the big picture. He seeks to engage the common folk — or, as he puts it:
“the 99.5 percent of the people whose lives are very busy and complicated and pressing and they don’t have a lot of time to think about the things that don’t immediately impact themselves and their family.”
Mr. Steyer, take heart. As bizarre this notion may seem, even among the 99.5% of the sub-super-sophisticated, there are many who can still steal a moment or two from their daily drudgery and self-centered musings to contemplate what Wordsworth called “elevated thought.” Yes, we may fret about college tuitions and vehicle maintenance, but these concerns do not distract us to the extent you seem to fear.
And it may amuse some of these folks more than you would care to know how you define “super-sophisticated,” as your concept would seem to embrace contributors to Gawker, talk radio addicts and a very large number of college sophomores.
Many years ago, Henry Ford threw a lavish banquet, to which he had invited those he considered the titans of the current day: bankers, industrialists, Edison, and so on. He presented each of these worthies with a laurel wreath (!), which he insisted they don as they feasted, and advised them that they were the pinnacle of intellectual achievement in the land. But the guests felt foolish, and the event was not a success.
Mr. Steyer, your wreath is ready.