Income Inequality Continues To Grow
I consider myself a decent observer of the world because I spend a lot of time looking at it– reading news, traveling, and talking to people about the times we live in today.
And many things strike me — the dysfunction of our government, the enrichment of our politicians, the division of Americans, and the truly bizarre behavior of some politically motivated people. If you don’t know what I mean, go back and watch the first five minutes of the first day of the Kavanaugh Supreme Court hearings.
Nothing is really all that shocking anymore, but occasionally, you get jolted out of your coma by something like Tuesday’s spectacle, with protestors at the hearings screaming and screeching.
But it’s just another day in Washington.
Another thing that strikes me is the rise of the super rich, made possible by the acceleration of globalization across the world, where once inhibited countries are spawning new millionaires by the day, all clamoring to live like the Kardashians.
These folks spend more on their monthly rent than most people make in a year. I read about a party where there was a lion in a cage at the front door and guests were eating sushi off the bodies of models.
That wasabi must have really stung, though.
There are some seriously rich Asians these days; in fact the number of super-rich in the Asia-Pacific has surpassed that of North America and Europe.
In the movie “Crazy Rich Asians,” Singapore’s super-rich drive Ferraris, Lamborghinis, travel on private jets and party on a container ship transformed into a floating nightclub at sea.
Truth be told, I spent the day chasing chipmunks out of my backyard by putting moth balls down the tunnels they’re digging there.
Meanwhile, luxury jet services are flying wealthy high school students and their families around the U.S. on college tours, complete with a college admissions counselor on board to the tune of $60,000.
Other people with nothing else to worry about are having their brains frozen for $100,000 in hopes that they can be reborn again through science in 20 years or more.
It’s not that these folks don’t have any problems. Just a few weeks ago, the new rich and the old money people were sparring in Chicago. You see, traditionally the old rich got to occupy the society box seats at the Metropolitan Opera House. But when a new opera house was being built, the new rich made some hefty donations towards the project and organizers had no choice but to open up those coveted seats to them.
I’m happy to report there was no violence.
Some of what we witness with the super-rich is just beyond ridiculous. In Florida, someone has a gorgeous ranch worth tens of millions of dollars that was built for the private use of his horses.
Other people are buying solid gold straws to drink from and sets of $15,000 toothpicks and $25,000 bathtubs. And hey, this is cool. Instead of a golf cart, just buy a Hummer to cart your clubs around the course.
What will be interesting to study decades from now is whether all this money made anybody happy. I know us regular folks are accused of bringing up the happiness factor out of jealousy, but the truth is I’m old enough now to know what a complicated thing happiness really is.
You can go watch your thoroughbreds perform at a fancy track, fly home in your private jet and soak in your $25,000 bath tub, but the end of the day you’re still the person you’ve always been, albeit with a nicer robe.
But there’s a larger truth to take away from this discussion about the super rich:
This idea that one percent of the population owns way more than half of the world’s wealth is very disturbing.
Thomas Jefferson died penniless. Today, politicians like Maxine Waters have millions of dollars in their bank accounts. She lives outside of her own dirt- poor district in a mansion.
To most observers, there is something very wrong in our world. But until we sit up and take notice, I’m afraid were going to continue to exist in a country where the government has stopped representing the people.
A recent Princeton University study compared what the public wanted in certain issues to what the government actually did. What they found was extremely unsettling: The opinions of the bottom 90 percent of income earners in America has essentially no impact at all.
That in itself should be enough to open our eyes. The very rich-and not the majority-have the loudest megaphones in media and the most assiduous supporters in government.
I think we’re going to have to yell a little louder.