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I’m sure that you, like me, pity the poor rich these days. Not the merely rich, but the mega-ones, those precious few who’re among the richest one-tenth of one percent of Americans.
Yes, they have it all. But they also have something they don’t want: widespread public disapproval. Oh, they’re plenty pleased to live on the penthouse floor of the one-percent class, but they’re also aghast, annoyed, angered – and afraid – because the Occupy Wall Street movement has turned a spotlight on their elite lives in a time of mass joblessness, middle-class decline, and swelling poverty.
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According to finance advisors who work with them, many multimillionaires are puzzled: “Why target me?” they ask. Poor babies, like their patron political saint, Mitt Romney, they’re pained that the rich are disdained for their extravagance: “We worked hard, we went to college, we tried to better our lives,” they wail. “Isn’t that what I’m supposed to do?”
Gosh, it makes me want to rush out and buy them a clue.
However, instead of getting a clue about America’s spreading inequality and downward mobility that they have either caused or passively accepted, many are comforting themselves with other purchases. Some are making lifestyle gestures, such as buying a hybrid Lexus rather than that souped up Mercedes. They’re choosing not to flaunt their wealth “because of what’s going on.”
Others though, want to flaunt. So, they’re simply spending more on protecting themselves. A risk advisory consultant in New York City, whose clients are Wall Street executives with net worths averaging $100 million each, says that spending on bodyguards, security-trained chauffeurs, guard dogs, video surveillance cameras, security systems, protective devices, and other personal security personnel, quadrupled last year.
See, the one-percenters also suffer – in ways that we 99-percenters can’t even imagine.
“Color the 1 Percent 99 Percent Conflicted,” www.nytimes.com, February 8, 2012.