I took a class in college in African American Literature. An interesting “chicken or the egg” issue came up early on: America didn’t participate in slavery because it was a fundamentally racist society, America developed racism because it embraced slavery. It was in the 18th century, for example, that American seminaries started teaching future ministers that black people didn’t have souls.
Why did such odious ideas arise? Because of cognitive dissonance–people couldn’t stand enslaving others if they were equally human, so they had to start thinking of them as something less than normal to assuage their consciences.
Most of the things I’ve seen about the rich paying “their fair share” are so heavily loaded with harsh language against the rich, like the irrational racial prejudices of the past, that it can only be that we’ve decided to stigmatize their wealth the way we used to stigmatize skin color: so we can assuage our consciences about this virtual slavery.
Just yesterday alone, I read a few columns and political cartoons about the budget that were all soaked in tones of violent anger towards the rich. This isn’t about helping the poor, it’s about hating the rich.
Remember those Washington Mutual ads a few years ago which mockingly showed a couple of dozen older white men in suits acting spoiled, superior, and out of touch? Imagine an ad campaign that made fun of a negative stereotype about anybody other than rich white men. Outrageous.