I listened to a woman on Thom's show today who asked Thom to create an image of the lifestlye of an individual who is in the top 2% income bracket, because she wanted a real visualization, not just a statistic. She's right. What does living like that 2% really mean? So today, I'm writing my first blog to try and describe what the lifestyle of someone in that income bracket would be like. Let's try to imagine the lifestyles of one of todays corporate CEO's for example. I won't name anyone in particular, but I will say that what I print here will be taken from articles using factual information to depict these lifestyles as closely to the truth as possible.
First of all, today's CEO makes more than 400 times the average pay of a production worker. So, if a production worker is making $50,000 a year on an assembly line (if he's lucky to have one of those dwindling jobs) then his CEO is making approximately $20,000,000 a year. And that's not including bonuses, stock options, perks, etc., that he might have finagled into his contract. Anyway, on to his/her lifestyle.
First of all his home would be at least 25,000 square feet, more than 10 times the average middle class person's home. It would have many bedrooms and luxury bathrooms, a great room, a media room, possibly a home theater, a gourmet kitchen and of course, servants quarters. He would have a pool, and a spa or jacuzzi, and most probably an outdoor living space complete with kitchen facilities for entertaining. He would have to employ, most probably at minimum wage, housekeepers, cleaners and gardeners and security guards full time to take care of such a huge residence. A large property like this could easily employ 100 employees full time. The pricetag for maintaining such a large estate would be between $2 million and $3 million dollars a year. He would also employ a full time cook, and if he has small children a full time nanny, or nannies to take care of his children. He would most probably use the services of a concierge for his personal shopping, errands, etc., so he or his wife would not have the need to do such menial tasks themselves. He would own a luxury car, or many cars, but for the most part his transportation needs would be met by having a limosine service at his disposal, and in some cases he may even employ a full time driver, especially if he negotiated it into his CEO contract.
He would travel by charter jet, or he might even own his own jet and of course employ a pilot to fly it. Jets are very popular with the very rich these days, with many of them spending as much as $125 million to have one. This allows them to by-pass all those pesky and annoying and lately downright humilating security screening that all of us regular people are subjected to madatorily. Yachts are quickly becoming the new toy of the ultra-rich, and they are endowing them with many of the amenities that they are installing in their homes; theaters, swimming pools and spas, basketball courts, etc., albeit on a smaller scale, but not by much. A small yacht would cost in the millions to buy, and it would cost in the hundreds of thousands in maintenace and operational costs. The bigger the yacht, the bigger the bragging rights.
With millions and millions to spare, and not enough to spend it on, they give extravagant parties for hundreds of people, with over the top decorations, and themes, such as vodka fountains and replicas of famous sculptures in ice. They go on vacations frequently, to exotic locations, and exclusive resorts catering to the ultra-rich. They belong to private social clubs that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to join, and cost thousands in yearly fees.
To the ultra-rich, conspicuous consumption is treated like a game, or is used as a status symbol. It doesn't matter how ridiculously overpriced an object may be, it will be coveted just for that reason alone. They love to be involved in "charitable" and "philanthropic" events which makes them feel that they are involved in worthy causes, but more than likely allows them to benefit from the tax deductablitly of such charities. These events will usually get their names, status and photos published in social or vanity magazines, or on the society page of the local newspaper. They are frequently on the board of directors of these charities, museums, musical companies, and foundations, because they love seeing their names engraved in stone in perpetuity.
Ack. I think I need to stop now, hopefully you get the point. Needless to say, these people who are in the very small percentage of the ultra-rich, don't have a clue how the rest of us live our daily lives, and probably don't give us a second thought. They don't shop for themselves, or cook for themselves, or raise their own children, or do physical labor, or run a small business, or wait on tables for tips, or live the lives that middle class Americans do every day. WE are the people that make this country the greatest country in the world. So, now tell me, do you have a real visual of that 2%? And also, can you tell me that if that top 2% loses their tax break will they really miss it? I guess they might think that they do, because when you have more, you always want more.
I think Congressman Alan Grayson said it best in congress yesterday. He has always had the courage to tell us the truth. Too bad his constituents didn't believe him, and he'll be sadly missed. He said, and I quote, "They tell us that extending the tax cuts for the rich will somehow create jobs, when we’ve had these tax cuts for the rich for nine years, and I haven’t noticed a whole lot of jobs being created in the last nine years. They tell us it will dramatically boost the economy. Well, I haven’t noticed that happening for the last nine years either. So you really have to wonder why it is they persist in this mania, this obsession of theirs, that we need to have more tax cuts for the rich when the economy is flat on its back, and unemployment is almost 10 percent. I think I have the answer. The answer turns out to be very simple. They want a tax cut for the rich because they want a tax cut for themselves."
Thanks for your time,