I’ve been thinking about money lately. Well, that’s not quite right. Said more accurately, about the wealthy. There’s been a a lot of talk of course about the 1% versus the 99% and the growing income gulf between the haves and the have-nots. The Erstwhile Conservative had a good chart on that in his post, “Why C.S. Lewis Was Right About Government”. Thanks to the Bush tax cuts the gulf between the rich and the rest of us is now wider than it’s been since the Great Depression.
And then there’s GOP candidate Mitt Romney who is “unapologetic” that he’s “made a lot of money”. Now I doubt that any American, or at least any middle-class American, begrudges Mr. Romney his wealth – after all he seems to have made it legally. The problem is that he seems disconnected from ordinary society in a strangely wooden way. Maybe it’s because he didn’t have what most people consider a “normal” childhood, growing up in a wealthy and strict Mormon family, his father successful in Michigan and national politics. To his credit he did serve as a Mormon Missionary for a couple of years in France as a young man. That must have been an eye-opener for him. But one must note that the cushion of wealth has always been there for him. Always. It’s not that he didn’t need to compete in college and business for his success but rather that he has never faced knowing in the recesses of his subconscious what most people know, that failure could be life-changing. F. Scott Fitzgerald, in his short story, The Rich Boy, seemed to think this way too when he said:
“Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me. They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them, makes them soft, where we are hard, cynical where we are trustful, in a way that, unless you were born rich, it is very difficult to understand.”
I was reminded of this issue when an expensive clothing catalog arrived in today’s mail. I know how they got my name: Mollie got carried away one year and ordered something crazy expensive for me one Christmas. Now my name and address live indelibly in cyberspace, captioned no doubt “one of them”. It was from a company I had never heard of before, but I found the prices astoundingly high. Who would pay such amounts? The clothes look nice, albeit a little odd to me, with a lot of the men’s stuff being pastel and such, but then maybe that’s part of the rich man’s uniform. I wouldn’t know. I took a picture of one of the pages to show you a sample. These sport coats, 55% silk/ 45% wool, are $705 each. The shirts (gingham? really?) are $195. Each. This is typical of the rest of the catalog. The shipping fee of $28 for orders over $600 seems positively teensy by comparison.
Yes, it does appear that we are entering a new era, one similar to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s when the rich were soaring and the chasm between giddy high society and the working stiffs was vast. But, thanks to social media and gadgetry maybe this time more of us will get to watch how the other 10%, lives.
Hmm. I wonder if Mitt Romney trades his jeans for pastels when he’s not on the hustings?
- Mitt Romney: Talk about income inequality only in “quiet rooms” (skydancingblog.com)