Contrary to George Mankiw's opinions, the super wealthy, like Donald Trump, are more likely to be super-villains

super rich, mitt romney

According to conservatives, the super rich are here to help all Americans. That’s why the failed “trickle-down” economic policies came about, even though it’s painfully obvious now that those policies do not work at all. Examples? Sure! Citizen’s United. Tax cuts for the super rich. SuperPACS.

Meanwhile, who are the perfect examples of a super rich conservative? Donald Trump. Mitt Romney. Dick Cheney. Not so much on the heroic end, these guys.

And so, careers are available to those spin doctors who are willing to forward such failed ideas. One needs folks to help spread one’s agenda, especially when one’s agenda has been proven ludicrous so regularly.

There are spin-doctors and then there are those who make ludicrous claims. Some political pundits adhere to the principle of “the bigger the lie, the more people will believe it.” 

George Mankiw, former Mitt Romney adviser and Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under George W. Bush, makes these ridiculous assertions. Mankiw has long defended the super rich and he gets regularly challenged for his nonsense.

His usual routine suggests that it’s totally cool to be obscenely wealthy because it helps everyone else. He’s even argued that if you doubt his words, well, Robert Downey Jr. is rich, and nobody is angry with him about that, because he is Iron Man!

Mankiw goes on to talk about all the good that super rich people do, and how much they pay in taxes, clearly implying that the super rich are superheroes.

Mankiw conveniently forgets to mention how much wealth inequality harms this nation and all the myriad ways the rich can hide their money in off-shore accounts to avoid those taxes. But the crux of his point is to further allude that the super rich are superheroes. Let’s say that again, the ultra-rich are superheroes.

Finished laughing?

Putting aside the fact that Mankiw says nobody should be mad at rich people because actors are rich, a fundamentally flawed argument in itself, his superhero comparison fails on a number of levels.

Look at Robert Downey Jr.’s superhero role, Tony Stark, aka Iron Man. Clearly, Stark is an insanely rich character. But similarities between him and, say, the Koch brothers ends there.

The story arc of the first Iron Man movie follows the awakening of Stark’s social consciousness. Tony begins as a self-indulgent military industrialist who changes his ways after suffering severe injuries from weapons he has produced. At the same time, he gets a first hand look at how much suffering and pain his company has caused.

So he halts production of all weaponry and instead focuses on producing alternative energy sources and advancing the entire world through science and technology. Not to mention the fact that Stark spends his spare time fighting super-villains, terrorists, and alien invasions, saving the planet more than once. All for free, at that.

Who opposes Iron Man? In the first movie, it was the CEO of his own company, who wants to continue making money for himself and his investors no matter who gets hurt. Indeed, Obadiah Stane has people killed, even threatening the lives of his girlfriend and Stark himself.

The formula of a tycoon super-villain was so successful in the first Iron Man that it was used in both sequels. Each time Iron Man faces off against someone in one of his movies, it’s a corrupt rich guy, using his corporation to harm the world in some way. Nothing new there. Iron Man has been fighting these types of villains in the comics for generations now.

super rich
Lex Luthor is Donald Trump with better hair.

And tycoon super-villains are hardly specific to Iron Man. They populate comics and pop culture heavily. Lex Luthor is the most infamous of all of them. He opposes the pinnacle of heroics, Superman. All comic book companies have super rich bad guys. Dr. Doom. Dr. Sivana. Blight. Justin Hammer.

Not to mention how many evil rich people appear in The Bible, if you want to go that far back.

Yes, there are super-rich heroes as well. Everyone knows Batman’s story. But Bruce Wayne could hardly be compared to venture capitalist Tom Perkins, who believes that rich people deserve more votes than the poor. That is as opposite to the motivation of Batman as one can possibly be. Perkins is no superhero.

The essence of a superhero is not how rich they are. Villains are more commonly rich than heroes because power needs money. Money is the root of all evil [Timothy 6:10] and what does absolute power do? It corrupts, absolutely.

Instead, superheroes look out for those who cannot look out for themselves. They use their powers and abilities to forward virtues of peace and justice. To help their fellow man. To save the planet. Cetainly not to sway elctions in their favor.

None of these good qualities apply to very many of the obscenely wealthy. There are a chosen few of course, but they are exceptional because they are so rare compared with their peers. George Mankiw is making a ludicrous statement in a blatant attempt to polish the image of a cadre of bad guys. It’s beyond a stretch for him to imply the Koch Brothers are superheroes.

The ultra-rich are more likely to convince you that elections should go their way, like Tom Perkins. They are likely to poison your water. They will destroy your environment and whatever lives are in the way, as long as there is money to be made. Beneficial to society? Ridiculous.

The Koch Brothers do nice things for the Arts and Sciences. But the price is all of our subservience. Kinda villainous, huh?

Are there rich folks who are nice people? Absolutely. Bill Gates has certainly been a philanthropist. But billionaires like Gates are the exception to the rule. Once you reach the top of the mountain, you have to be assured of your permanent position there before you start helping out the little people.

When you get right down to it, the incredibly rich person who gives their all to better society, who uses all of their wealth to combat inequality and forward justice, does have one thing in common with a superhero:

Neither of them really exist.

An appropriately heroic economic policy would be “a rising tide lifts all boats.” But these days, according to Republicans, that policy has become, “Be really nice to the guy in the yacht, and maybe he’ll let you come aboard.”

And there’s absolutely nothing heroic about that.

Chad R. MacDonald has a degree in English literature from Cape Breton University and subsequently received a full scholarship to AMDA in New York City. He is a former security professional, veteran of the hospitality industry, and experienced in both the arts as well as administration.He has been writing all his life, likes baseball, hockey, literature, science, the arts, and marine photography.Chad lives in Brooklyn with his wife and son and their gigantic cat.


  1. robert downey jr. earned his money providing a service in a market that highly demands that service. compared to the net revenues he produced for the movie’s producers he gets small change. if you inherit a multibillion dollar corporation and competently manage it then it’s almost inevitable to become even richer. RDJ is rich while the koch brothers inherited massive productive wealth so that in a sense they own the movie and RDJ was a well paid temporary employee.

  2. Duke Energy, the current rat in NC sludge mess, being investigated by, Feds along with NC Gov McCory a 28 yr Duke employee, Duke also ALEC member although tried to hide it..and guess who is funding it all..Koch Bros, because of course they are listed in the top 10 polluters.. Of course there are many many examples of wealthy people who do excellent work with their money..Bill Gates come to mind quickly, as does Warren Buffet…Koch Bros, learned at Daddy’s of the founding fathers of the John Birch Society…against minimum wage increases, against unions, against healthcare, against public education etc..their motto appears to be use people up and throw them away..

    • You can check easily.. took me 5 sec. to Google this link.
      I won’t copy the whoile post here… it is From 2010 so the numbers are lower then they would be today… But Even you should get the idea.

      “For starters, both Soros and the brothers Koch (pronounced “coke”) are incredibly rich. And their political endeavors are numerous.

      Koch Industries, an oil refiner, is the nation’s second largest private company with about $100 billion in annual revenue. Soros is chairman of Soros Fund Management, a highly successful hedge fund that has provided financial and investment strategies to a variety of funds. As of June 30, 2009, the hedge fund had holdings valued at $4.2 billion.

      David and Charles Koch are tied at No. 24 on Forbes top billionaires list with a personal fortunes of $17.5 billion each. Soros is No. 35 on the list with a net worth of $14 billion.”

      SO… Soros had $14+ Billion… the Kochs COMBINED were at $36++ Billion (in 2010) …. a lot more NOW!!

      Soros funds a few Left-leaning organizations… the Kochs fund the Tea party, the Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute! Etc… etc… Etc…—koch-brothers.html

      NONE of the others you mentioned have anywhere near that kind of money… There are Many Millionaires… the Richest of the TOP 1% is made up of 400 people, and control 50% of the USA Wealth! The Walton Family alone could Buy George Soros many times (10x) over!

      “… the Waltons’ wealth in 2010 was valued at $89.5 billion — equal to the entire bottom 41.5 percent of American families.”

      “…using the Forbes 400 list for 2013, that the wealth of six of Sam Walton’s descendants has continued to grow. Here are their rankings and their wealth:

      No. 6 Christy Walton (daughter-in-law), $35.4 billion

      No. 7: Jim Walton (son), $33.8 billion

      No. 8: Alice Walton (daughter), $33.5 billion

      No. 9: S. Robson Walton (son), $33.3 billion

      No. 95: Ann Walton Kroenke (niece), $4.7 billion

      No. 110: Nancy Walton Laurie (niece), $4 billion

      Total Walton family wealth: $144.7 billion.”

      Those others you mention belong in the Top 10%, not the Top 1% !!!

      What’s your point???

  3. Sorry… I have to dispute your generalized conclusion that “the incredibly rich person who gives their all to better society, who uses all of their wealth to combat inequality and forward justice, does have one thing in common with a superhero. Neither of them really exist.”

    I think that I can name 3 Super-Rich People that have show that Not ALL of them are greedy Super Villains >>>>
    Nick Hanauer
    Bill Gates
    Warren Buffet

    All have made an exemplary effort to Help people and not strictly for profit! They have used their riches for the Betterment of mankind and been attacked by others in the 1% for their efforts!

    It would help if more people acknowledged their efforts… maybe Super Heroes would step forward then!

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