HIGHTOWER: The Cost of Living Extremely Well

Time for another chapter of [Rich theme] Lifestyles of the Rich ... and Cranky.Sure, downsizings continue to hit the working class, yes the price of a six pack and a can of Spam is up, yes you're being squeezed -- but, hey pal, those at the top suffer, too. Just check the CLEWI -- the Cost-of-Living-Extremely-Well Index.Published annually by Forbes magazine, the CLEWI rose more than 3 percent last year, led by increases in transportation and personal services. For example, the Roll Royce Silver Spur is now $186,000 -- a five percent uptick over last year. Also up five percent is the 10-passenger, Learjet 31A with standard options, now topping $5.7 million each. And don't think flying commercial will save you much -- round-trip New York to London on the Concorde is now $8,400 -- a six percent hike. And you thought you had it rough!The good news for the Hoity Toity is that the catered lobster dinner for 40 -- including linens, china, crystal and, of course, service -- has held even in price, still $4,000, just like last year. But, good gracious, look at the price of champagne! A case of Dom Perignon is now nearly $1,200 -- up 5.6 percent in a single year.And here's an absolute travesty: A box of Aniversario Numero Uno Dominican cigars, now $633! That's a 10 percent hike, and you know why? Because all kinds of your lower-class people are smoking cigars this year, so it's trendy. What next, caviar for the lunch-bucket crowd?This is Jim Hightower saying ... I don't see how rich people can cope with such price pressure -- especially now that psychiatrists' fees are up 14 percent, too. Do you feel as sorry for them as I do?Source:"Cigars up, yachts down" by Elizabeth A. Amery. Forbes 400: October 13,1997.

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