Editorial: Better ‘new rich’ definition

Dec. 10, 2013 @ 11:35 PM

Analysis is in and there is a new definition.

Not only does America have the wealthiest 1 percent, those who are in poverty and everything in between, we now have the “new rich.” That is the latest from survey data defining those who might have made the top 1 percent only to fall back, have household income of $250,000 or more at some point in their lives, or who hover at $100,000-plus for the better part of their working lives.

The group makes up the top 20 percent of earners.

New rich.

For our dollar, which we still believe is best in our hand and not that of the government, the term is just fine for surveys but doesn’t really offer the definition to which we would ascribe.

Make no mistake, this group will influence spending, our nation’s economic recovery and future elections. They have been conservative with money, prefer gated communities and high-end stores. They’re not callus to the less fortunate, they just prefer a hand up rather than a hand out. And yet, their views are increasingly liberal.

But new rich? We see nothing new about the group, just another evolution of our society in America.

The group didn’t sprout up as a result of the 2007-2009 recession, deaths and subsequent inheritances from the Greatest Generation or the record-setting numbers of the stock market against the backdrop of a bursting housing bubble.

Calling this a newly defined group would be more reasonable.

But we would welcome a “new rich.”

Counting our families and friends as our largest assets, and seeing them and speaking to them rather than using a social media website as a verb to communicate to them — now that would be a new kind of rich.

Seeing people use government help as assistance, rather than mainline financial means — now that would be a new kind of rich.

Finding people interested in what they could do for their community with hands, heart and actions, as opposed to what the community should do for them — that, too, would be a new kind of rich.

Defining our society is justifiable knowledge. The survey has value.

But there’s a better new rich. It is one that dollars doesn’t define.