Ozzie Guillen may not fit any psychological profile. His outrageous comments coupled with his lofty status in the sports world seem to place him in his own standard deviation. But he's bowing down now, in a moment of adversity, to the impassioned opponents of socialism and the freedom to say something positive about it. He's acting like millions of other Americans conditioned to equate criticism of free market capitalism with a lack of patriotism.
"Benign envy," according to Princeton researcher Susan T. Fiske, is the act of longing for the status of another without wishing ill on that person. It is a feeling nurtured in the public by the 1%, through their self-promotion as American success stories, and by constant reminders of the superiority of individual initiative over government involvement. Much of America buys into it. Including Ozzie, who except for his position and salary would seem like a member of the 99%.
As a lifelong Chicagoan and White Sox fan, I love Ozzie Guillen. But it's disappointing to see him kneel like a penitent sinner at the capitalist altar. Understandably, it's getting scary for the people at the top. They need a submissive America. They need the masses to believe that anyone can make it with a little hard work, even though the facts and public sentiment are going against them. The U.S. now has one of the lowest levels of income mobility in the developed world. And a recent Pew Survey revealed that "conflicts between rich and poor now rank ahead of three other potential sources of group tension - between immigrants and the native born; between blacks and whites; and between young and old." As a result, Mitt Romney has to spin the debate to "the bitter politics of envy" to shame us all for questioning the job creators.
So if you're benignly envious of America's top "achievers," don't provoke the spirit of Milton Friedman with the suggestion that nationalized and social-oriented countries, like Venezuela and Cuba, might teach the unregulated capitalists a thing or two. Try to forget about the economic embargo imposed for 50 years against a destitute nation. Disregard a leader who, as Ozzie first noted, has survived a half-century of attempts to overthrow or sabotage or starve his country. And never mind that everyone from the European Union to the Organization of American States to the Pope has condemned the inhumane continuation of the economic sanctions.
It's a credit to the salesmanship of the 1% that to this day a majority of U.S. citizens support the Cuban embargo. Millions of Americans still buy into the blind allegiance of "freedom" embellished with an Ozzieish "everyone hates Castro." They reject political systems that support the needs of the 99%. They worship a system that gives almost all the money to the 1%.
A Texas academic study found that people "whose memories were triggered by the high-envy targets" suffered diminished cognitive abilities. That, assuredly, is the way our political and business leaders want to keep it.