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The Rich Are Different
By Sherry Pasquarello,CJE – I’ve been fighting an uphill battle with some of my right wing republican conservative friends over my belief that the very rich exist in an entirely different realm than most of our country. From cradle to grave the reality is so strikingly opposite of the majority to be almost a country unto itself. They say I’m just jealous or over the top in my opinions or that I’m bigoted towards the ulta-wealthy.
Check out WEALTH T.V. on your cable if not check via a computer. Here’s one day’s programming,http://www.wealthtv.com/listingstodayp2.php . This is the lifestyle. Now, I do NOT begrudge anyone their wealth (unless they acquired it in an unethical manner). I do want the rest of us to get a firm grasp on what it means to be truly wealthy. Until and unless we can see things through the eyes of those in that 1 or 2 percent we will continue to let them divide, use and abuse us.
I want each of you to watch this channel, on and off for 1 week. I need you to read the entire “seen” page in your local newspaper. It usually runs once a week. Look at the photos, read about the events and balls and yes, the charity functions. Look at the photos and the clothing, the venues these events are always held at. Keep in mind that there are gowns to be purchased and accessories for every different event. Think of the scheduling. Social scheduling for most V.I.P.S is an actual full time job filled by an employee, not written down on a kitchen calendar or even on in the notes of a smartphone.
Do you know anyone that owns a boat? Ask them how much it costs for fuel or docking fees for even a small boat. Own a car? Check out the insurance on a high end vehicle. Better yet, check out the cost of a replacement part for, say, a BMW or a Lexus. After you choose a part look up or ask a garage what they charge to replace it. They’ll know the “book time” and then what they charge onto that. You will be amazed at the cost for the upkeep. The real estate section of the Sunday papers are another little bit of info on the wealthy. Check the prices. Go on line and look at the photos of the estates up for sale in the million and up range. Now, imagine yourself moving into one of them with the same attitude as you would for an apartment going for about 400.00 a month. There are a lot of old time mansions around Pittsburgh that the ultra- wealthy built. There are a lot of huge new mansions here that were built with “new” money as well. Sometimes I try to imagine what it would be like to be so used to living on an estate that I would come in the front door, throw my keys on a table and plop myself down on a chair while I’m reaching for the remote. I can’t quite picture having an attitude of familiarity or comfort of the routine in those surroundings but to those who a sofa costing 8 or 9 grand is as normal as one costing 3 or 4 hundred would be to a lot of us, well… Me? our first sofa when I got married in 1972 was one of those old, stiff things with fringe around the bottom and a sort of diagonal pattern carved into the nap of the faded red fabric. It was a salvage from a friend of my mothers and it was about 40 years old when we dragged it to our place.
My point is this. We can’t expect many of the extremely rich to have any clue as to how the vast majority of us live any more than we can know what it must be like to walk in their Gucci loafers. So it’s no wonder that they do not think we deserve to ask or expect more. No matter how hard we may work or how many jobs, we are to their way of thinking, “not in their class” their way of life would be wasted on the likes of us. They were bred for finer things.
The thing of it is, we don’t want their things. We do want a level playing field. We want opportunities. We want a fair wage. We want decent health care. We want the same BASIC needs met that any human being wants and deserves.
What makes the rich (most of them) different is that they don’t see us as deserving of those things. We aren’t that far removed from the caste system of India. We are definitely on the way to the robber barons of old. We have to get it through our heads that the upper class may piss and moan and deny class warfare all day long but they damn well know the truth of it. They started it. They’ve been looking for a way to chip away at our American way of life since FDR. They’ve done a damn fine job of it since President Reagan.
Stop trying to make excuses for their systematic robbery of the middle class and the demonizing of the poor. Face it . They don’t care about us as individuals, as Americans or as human beings. To them, we don’t deserve any better. That’s it. That’s all it’s ever been. That is all it ever will be so we better get ourselves together and end the old divisions between us. Stop trying to give them the benefit of the doubt and while you are at it, think about the fact that the prejudices we still cling to, attitudes we grew up with makes us no better than the wealthy that believe us to be less than they are. We can’t do much to change the beliefs of the rich. They don’t socialize with or deal in any way with us that might let them grow in understanding. We, well we do have more opportunities to get to know others and to see that our similarities far outweigh any cultural or economic issues. We need to learn. We need to change. We must and we should come together. Just as there is power in a union, there is power in a union of human beings, united in a just cause. We can’t wait for some sort of epiphany to open the minds and hearts of that upper 2 percent. We need to start with ourselves. I’m learning every day. I know if I can, you can. The future of our way of life for our kids and grandkids depend on our facing reality and learning the truth.