December 31, 2010



The rich versus the rest of us
by Jim Hightower

Apparently, you and I owe an apology to the extravagantly rich in our society. They're reported to be in a deep pout and a political funk because We the People have hurt their feelings.

This stems from the public's simmering anger over the fact that the Wall Street barons who crashed our economy are back to paying themselves multimillion-dollar bonuses, while the corporate CEOs who keep downsizing and offshoring our middle class opportunities are grabbing bigger paychecks than ever for themselves. The wealthy swells are upset by our anger and feel picked on by us riff-raff — they don't like being blamed for our economic distress even though they are to blame, and they certainly don't like the rising populist fervor for more economic fairness in our country. So they're mad at us for being mad at them, claiming that they are victims of our "wealth envy."

I'm sure you feel as badly as I do about this, so you'll be glad to know that those living in luxury seem to have found a way to soothe their bad mood: They've gone shopping! Yes, while workaday Americans are scrambling just to cover the rent and buy groceries, the well heeled are reported to be splurging again, indulging their consumer whims with such pricey pretties as exotic automobiles.

One analyst of trends in the luxury car market concedes that sales of Bentleys, Lamborghinis, Maseratis and other ultra-priced autos had been down the past couple of years. He explained that, "It didn't feel right buying a $300,000 Rolls-Royce when people were being foreclosed out of their homes." But this year, the elites are saying, "To hell with what the public thinks, I'm gonna get me a new Ferrari 458 Italia, the people be damned!"

How nice for them. But I don't think their conspicuous consumption is going to make anyone feel better about their greed — nor will it quell the public's rising populist fervor.

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