Ask A Genius 547 – Addendum to “Wealth, Good or Bad?…: In Other News, a Book!”
May 7, 2020
[Beginning of recorded material]
Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Here, so, two points.
Rick Rosner: Let me say one point, then you say two points. My one point is the future is inherently sinister. Because we are, the project of the future is to dismantle and analyze and reconstitute humanity. Now, you go.
Jacobsen: Apart from those concerns focusing on ethics and wealth from the time-based perspective, in two ways. One, Individuals who were poor and made it rich by luck or work or talent or something else.
Two, those who were born into wealth without work ethic, talent, intelligence or anything else. It was simply luck and nepotism. What are the ethics that are behind those? What does it do to someone psychologically? Probably, it is pretty clear.
Rosner: We’ve seen this with famous people and with powerful people. It is really like the 60s, which I lived through, were a time of celebrity downfall to drugs, usually. There are a lot of people who died from drugs in the 60s. People have continued to do so.
But that was really kind of a trademark celebrity death of the 60s. Choke on your own vomit, just whatever. I’d say more recently, celebrity downfalls are really putting yourself in such a position that you’re impervious, you’re completely resistant to input, to reasonable, sensible input from other people.
But nobody can tell you “no.” You surround yourself with “yes” people. You are in a kingdom of your own. Michael Jackson, Trump, to some extent, Prince, Elvis, although he died in ’75. But the inability to take good counsel is maybe the major deficit of the untalented, rich and powerful.
Because I do not know somebody who’s untalented and rich and powerful, but not so full of hubris that they listen to competent people, that person can do OK and that person can do good. I do not know, Reagan. As a liberal, I do not think he was a good president.
But he was a pretty effective president and he surrounded himself while not being that dumb, but he was not a genius. In the last few years of his presidency, he was probably becoming less smart. But he surrounded himself with somewhat competent or somewhat effective conservatives.
And he got stuff done. He had what conservatives consider a successful presidency. Even though, his major skills were a folksiness and a handsomeness and a distrust of government. Bush, good guy on a personal level, not a genius, overly subject to manipulation, surrounded himself with some rotten guys.
Some of them left over from Reagan. They dragged him into the worst trouble that US has gotten into until now. Then Trump, not a smart guy, surrounds himself with pure shit. The competent people who accidentally end up around him. He doesn’t listen to him and they leave.
And now he is a shithead surrounded by other shitheads. Yes, and so on. So he is the downfall of untalented wealth and power. He is about the purest example and most tragic example, not just for himself, but for the country in the world that you could possibly think of.
Jacobsen: Did Errol Morris do a clip of various celebrities telling their favorite movies years and years ago?
Rosner: And it ran before the Oscars? Yes, I think.
Jacobsen: Do you remember the one Trump stated as the favorite movie for him, the iconic one?
Rosner: I didn’t know he was part of that reel.
Jacobsen: It was in ‘a stately dome decree.’
Rosner: Oh, it is fucking Citizen Kane.
Jacobsen: And so that summarizes everything because that represents him.
Rosner: Yes, that makes sense. I’ve argued that the Trump of 30 years ago would be somewhat appalled at the asshole he has become. He wasn’t always as terrible as he is now. He is a monster now. 30 years ago, he was an affable blowhard who liked to have sex with pretty women.
And brag about his accomplishments. He was – unless you were a creditor of his trying to get paid or an investor in one of his businesses – fairly harmless. But now, of course, his bullshit is killing thousands of Americans every day. But that he likes Citizen Kane.
Jacobsen: It is his favorite movie.
Rosner: It shows some near insight. Because, it is not a happy movie, it is about a rich asshole, a rich, unhappy asshole.
Jacobsen: He becomes completely isolated in the end.
Rosner: Yes, and maybe he was enough of an asshole back then to misunderstand the movie. He only saw the trappings of wealth and power. He was like, “Yes, that’s me.” Who fucking knows? That’s interesting, though.
Jacobsen: The end.
Rosner: The end.
[End of recorded material]
American Television Writer
Scott Douglas Jacobsen
Founder, In-Sight Publishing
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