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10 Most Obscene Lifestyles Choices of America's 1% Elite

Complaining about having to do their own dishes, or bragging about $800,000 car garages, the 1 percenters are all but screaming “let them eat cake” from the ramparts.

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Between Blankfein and Dimon, the twisted picture is now complete: Wall Streeters aren’t villains – on the contrary, they would have us believe they embody the new civil rights movement and that their critics are the evil Bull Connors.

8. The Sears CEO's New Versailles

Any news story that references Versailles in a non-ironic way must be included in Salon’s regular “let them eat cake” feature. As the  Huffington Post reports (emphasis added):

While Sears downsizes and lays off employees, company chairman Edward Lampert is buying a sprawling estate on a semi-private island.

The billionaire hedge fund manager and chairman of Sears Holdings Corp. is reportedly set to close on a $40 million estate with seven bedrooms and Versailles-style reflection pools on Indian Creek Island, north of Miami. Meanwhile Sears is selling off 1,200 stores and closing 100 to 120 for good, with Florida seeing the most closings of any state.

In case you were wondering, the  Wall Street Journal reports that the $40 million price tag will “set a record for a single-family home in the (Miami-Dade) county.”

9. Recoup at the Ritz

Hospital bills ruin the financial fortunes of many middle-class Americans, but for the rich a trip to the emergency room can practically be a vacation. As the  New York Times reports under the non-ironic headline “Chefs, Butlers, Marble Baths: Hospitals Vie for the Affluent”:

The bed linens were by Frette, Italian purveyors of high-thread-count sheets to popes and princes. The bathroom gleamed with polished marble. Huge windows displayed panoramic East River views. And in the hush of her $2,400 suite, a man in a black vest and tie proffered an elaborate menu and told her, “I’ll be your butler.”

It was Greenberg 14 South, the elite wing on the new penthouse floor of NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell hospital. Pampering and décor to rival a grand hotel, if not a Downton Abbey, have long been the hallmark of such “amenities units,” often hidden behind closed doors at New York’s premier hospitals. But the phenomenon is escalating here and around the country…”

In other words, as the healthcare crisis gets worse for most people, America’s healthcare system is focusing on a race to Ritz-Carlton-ize hospitals for the richest among us.

10. 1-Percent Glossy

With poverty and economic inequality on the rise, you might think that more journalism resources would be devoted to covering those seminal issues. But, of course, you would be wrong. Newspapers, the traditional bastion of journalism focused on the 99 percent, are sadly  planning with his new magazine called Bloomberg Pursuits.

Its first edition features a man with not one but two Ferraris and will be “sent to an audience with an average annual household income of more than $450,000,” according to the Times. That demographic represents the “tiny pocket of the print publishing world that is thriving, even as its mass-market counterparts face a slump in newsstand sales.”

For us 99 percenters, the only good news in the announcement of the magazine is that it won’t be shoved directly in our faces. The publication’s officials told the Times “[the magazine] wasn’t worried that the conspicuous consumption celebrated in the magazine might seem tone-deaf” because “It’s a very closed audience” and won’t be on newsstands.


David Sirota is the author of the best-selling books Hostile Takeover and The Uprising . He hosts the morning show on AM760 in Colorado and blogs at E-mail him at or follow him on Twitter @davidsirota.