There are widely accepted norms and values that have worked for society at large, regardless of class, race, religion, or country, for millennia. Some of those norms and values have been chipped away over the past several decades. How did that come to pass?
Social commentator Rob Henderson attributed the erosion of these norms and values to what he calls, “Luxury Beliefs.” Henderson defines luxury beliefs as, “ideas and opinions that confer status on the rich at very little cost, while taking a toll on the lower class.” The reason the rich adopt these beliefs is because general prosperity has made luxury goods less effective in conveying social status, so these malformed beliefs have replaced them as an indicator of social status.
A prime example of a luxury belief is that traditional marriage and monogamy are outdated. Henderson, who himself had a tough childhood, notes a conversation he had with a former Yale classmate:
A former classmate from Yale recently told me “monogamy is kind of outdated” and not good for society. So I asked her what her background is and if she planned to marry.
She said she comes from an affluent family and works at a well-known technology company. Yes, she personally intends to have a monogamous marriage — but quickly added that marriage shouldn’t have to be for everyone.
She was raised by a traditional family. She planned on having a traditional family. But she maintained that traditional families are old-fashioned and society should “evolve” beyond them.
What could explain this?
In the past, upper-class Americans used to display their social status with luxury goods. Today, they do it with luxury beliefs.
This belief may work for the wealthy and the hoity-toity, but it has wreaked havoc on American society. As Henderson noted above, the people espousing luxury beliefs often don’t practice those beliefs themselves. As evidence, he points to the difference in marriage rates between upper-class and lower-class Americans. The rates were nearly identical in the 1960’s when the affluent class weakened social norms. The destruction of the American family that followed can be seen in the working class, while the marriage rate among the wealthy has changed little. Likewise, out-of-wedlock birth rates shot up among the working class, but the wealthy seldom have kids out of wedlock.
Other examples of luxury beliefs include legalizing drugs, sending one’s children to (failing) public schools, white privilege, belief in luck instead of hard work, open border policies, the endless hypocrisy of environmentalism, and defunding the police.
The last luxury belief listed above – defunding the police – and its corollaries, “bail reform” and the kid glove treatment of violent offenders and recidivist criminals, have caused a spike in crime since the pandemic. The numbers don’t lie. It’s there for everyone to see. The rich love these meaningless platitudes and performative social media hashtags; after all, they aren’t affected by the ensuing violence and bloodshed that happen in the poorer areas of their towns.
The ultimate “Luxury Belief,” in my opinion, is gun control. The right of self-defense is the first law of nature. This right is fundamental to every human being regardless of class, race, religion, or any other tangential attribute. The wealthy live in good neighborhoods that are often behind walls and gates. Sometimes, they live in remote areas with massive amounts of land and terrain serving as a security buffer. They don’t ride public transit. They fly in private jets, while the poorest among us have never even been on an airplane. They don’t need to shop at ordinary grocery stores or convenience stores in rough neighborhoods because they have housemaids and butlers taking care of that.
Most importantly, the rich are often protected by armed security. That’s something that the poor will never have. They have to rely on the police, who the luxury belief holders would happily defund. The police may or may not show up to help and may even end up hurting instead of helping them. To add insult to injury, as multiple courts across the country have confirmed, the police have no general duty to protect the vulnerable.
Billionaires like Michael Bloomberg, Steve Ballmer, Oprah Winfrey, George Soros, Pierre Omidyar, and John and Laura Arnold are some of the funders of the modern gun control movement. Those executing the gun control agenda like Shannon Watts and Po Murray are comfortably in the upper middle class or wealthier than that. These people don’t have to worry about the rest of us when they set fire to our constitutionally protected rights. They get to entrench their social status and clout. But as is always the case with luxury beliefs, there’s a price to pay and they won’t be the ones paying it.