10 Most Obscene Lifestyles Choices of America's 1% Elite
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As the unemployment rate still sits above 8 percent, and one in three Americans struggles to afford medical bills, even the filthiest of filthy rich presidential candidates is at least pretending to empathize with the average American. Granted, they sometimes slip up and expose just how wealthy they are — but at least they are trying.
The same cannot be said of some of these candidates’ cronies in the 1 percent. Whether complaining about having to do their own dishes, or bragging about their car garages costing more than the average American makes in a lifetime, the 1 percenters are all but screaming “let them eat cake” from the ramparts. Here are 10 particularly egregious examples from the last few months.
1. Bankers Struggle at Washing Dishes
Most of us probably think a $75,000 annual salary is a pretty good deal in a nation where the average household income is far below that. Most of us also probably think that doing one’s own dishes is not a form of economic persecution. But, then, most of us don’t work on Wall Street.
In a pair of must-reads, New York magazine and Bloomberg News sympathetically quoted financial industry workers complaining about the crushing pain of life on Wall Street in the era of the slightly smaller bonuses.
The former article quotes an investment banker lamenting that the average $125,000 bonus – which comes on top of an annual salary – is ”only,” after taxes, about “what, $75,000?”
“My girlfriend likes to eat good food,” he complained. “It all adds up really quick. A taxi here, another taxi there. I just bought an apartment, so now I have a big old mortgage bill.”
In the Bloomberg piece, Andrew Schiff, who makes $350,000 a year, complains that after renting a second Connecticut vacation house for a full month every year and shelling out $32,000 a year on his child’s elite private school, he now “only” gets to “bring home less than $200,000 after taxes, health-insurance and 401(k) contributions.”
“I can’t imagine what I’m going to do,” he says. “I’m crammed into 1,200 square feet. I don’t have a dishwasher. We do all our dishes by hand.”
2. Penthouse Parking
The price of a regular, nondescript parking spot in New York City can be more than a monthly mortgage payment in many parts of America. But simply having a car in a subway-connected city is apparently not enough for some of the super-rich. As the New York Times reports, some of them need to have their car parked on the same floor as their lavish penthouse apartments.
In the apartment building the Times profiles, domiciles go for $7 million a year, including a 300-square-foot “en suite sky garage” that “would be valued at more than $800,000 if priced at the same rate per square foot as the rest of the apartment.” No doubt, the view from the garage is so good, the car’s owner can see the vast swaths of the city’s outer boroughs — the places where people are lucky to make $800,000 in their entire lifetimes.
3. Wanted: More Influence in Washington
By any honest measure — size of taxpayer bailouts, amount of campaign contributions, number of lobbyists, record of policymaking successes — the financial industry is all-powerful in American politics. When the Street says jump, politicians in both parties ask “how high,” and then typically send a river of taxpayer dollars toward lower Manhattan.
Somehow, though, this isn’t enough.
In January, Bloomberg/Businessweek breathlessly touted Wall Street analyst Brad Hintz who insisted that Wall Street isn’t “very powerful at all” in Washington. That was followed up in March, when billionaire hedge fund manager Ken Griffin told the Chicago Tribune that the super-wealthy “have an insufficient influence” over politics, and that his fellow 1 percenters “have a duty now to step up and protect” their power “not for themselves, but for their kids and for their grandchildren and for the person down the street that they don’t even know.” (Note: Griffin almost certainly wasn’t referring to regular middle-class folks. Thanks to gated communities and economically segregated housing patterns, the people “down the street” whom 1 percenters like him “don’t even know” are all but guaranteed to be fellow 1 percenters.)