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$5,000 For a Pair of Sandals: The Rich Are Different, Right Down to Their Shoes

In a world where kids are starving and ice caps are melting, how can people spend $5K on shoes?

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What else does $5,000 buy?

I can't help but think about how much more good could be done with the $5,000 a handful of rich N-M customers are going to squander on these shoes. Assuming they sell 100 pair -- which is a conservative assumption -- that's a half a million bucks. With that kind of money, you can fix up a school, improve a park, or put a few hundred kids through Head Start. You can put two would-be doctors all the way through medical school. You can staff a full-time seniors' or youth center serving a middling-sized city. You can put half a dozen more nurses into the local hospital, or that same number of teachers into neighborhood classrooms.

Any of these things have far more lasting value than a pair of shoes that will be yesterday's news by Labor Day.

If someone's rich enough to spend five grand on shoes and not even feel it, she's rich enough to pay a lot more than that in taxes. The right wing likes to say that people have a right to keep the money they earn, and spend it however they like. But in a time when money is so tight for 99 percent of us -- and yet those same rich folks are telling us every day that we don't deserve to have decent (or even basic) government services -- it's time to insist that their right to profit comes with a serious responsibility attached to it. They only deserve to make that money as long as they're going to invest it in things that will build enduring value for society.

And that -- emphatically -- does not include shoes that cost one-tenth of what the average American household brings home in a year. Am I instigating class warfare? If so: bring it on. Because as long as there are families out of work, banks that refuse loans to the middle class, and a national debt our financial titans refuse to pay, indulgences like this are the stuff of which revolutions should rightfully be made.

 

Sara Robinson, MS, APF is a social futurist and the editor of AlterNet's Vision page. Follow her on Twitter, or subscribe to AlterNet's Vision newsletter for weekly updates.

 
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