11 02 2009

Recently I was talking to a friend who was lambasting General Motors workers for getting such high salaries. Once again, I felt that old, familiar amazement that someone in the working class could be furious at someone ELSE in the working class for managing to be slightly better off than they.

“Hey!” I always feel like saying when this happens, “You’re furious at people who earn maybe 4-5 times what you do, and for doing boring, dirty jobs at that. How come you’re not mad at those in our country who earn actually, MILLIONS of times more than you do?”

I asked, and she couldn’t explain. I cogitated on this phenomenon for a while and realized that, the influence of belief in “the American Dream” myth” aside, working people in the USA simply don’t get to see how the other 1/10 of 1 % live.

I remember reading many years ago that after the stock market crash of 1929 the society pages of major papers changed. Before that they had delighted in showing the lifestyles of the True Rich among us — Duponts, Vanderbilts, etc. — and the True Rich had in turn delighted in being shown.

Then the T. R. realized their way of life might incite envy, even proto-revolutionary envy, among the standers in bread lines, so they arranged not to be seen. Today what we are shown by way of wealthy life is the life of Hollywood celebrities, who are not the True Rich by any stretch of the imagination.

So, just to give my friend and maybe others a view of how the modern T. R.s are doing these days, here’s an informative site. Look at the “houses” part.

And here’s a YouTube video that focuses on the estates of the classic True Rich:

(Ignore the junk about the “Illuminati”)

And here, by contrast, is someone at the other end of the scale, in her spacious home:

I can hear you saying now, “You unAmerican socialist, those rich people EARNED their wealth!”

Did they all do that, ya think? What percentage of them merely inherited it? What percentage of them got it through luck — i.e., their land turned out to be sitting on top of a fortune in oil, etc.? How many of them got it through inheritance plus bullshit financial machinations such as have gotten the whole country in such trouble recently?

My only point is this: When it comes to really understanding the vast disparities of wealth that the American economy produces and allows, there are none so blind as those who will look at the evidence, but will not see.




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