HIGHTOWER: It's Hell Being Rich

Time for another peek into the Lifestyles of the Rich -- and Cranky.

Today's feature is about a matter you probably haven't spent much time worrying about: The food difficulties of the wealthy. Yeah, yeah, we know all about poor people suffering from hunger, and we've heard the sob stories about old folks having to skip meals in order to pay for their medicines, but, hey, buster, going out to eat at swank restaurants night after night is no picnic either.

For example, are you aware of the disturbing trend toward dim lighting in four-star restaurants? The New York Times reports that it's darned near dark in some of the city's most elite dining establishments! There you are dressed in your designer duds and no one can see you. Worse, it's so dark you can't even read the menu. One diner complained that she and her companions were "hunched over our menus like horses at a trough," squinting through the dimness to read the bill of fare. Then the food came and, while her duck cakes were delicious, she says that in the weak light, "they looked like beat-up hockey pucks."

If the hardship of eating in darkness doesn't make you feel terrible about the dining plight of the wealthy, wait 'til you hear about the water crisis they face. It's not a shortage of water, but a plethora of water choices that's upsetting some of your fine diners: Bottled or tap? Fizzy or still? French or Italian?

Also, according to the New York Times, there's a slightly threatening tone that some waiters are bringing to the water question, as though you'd better spring for that $12 bottle of Evian instead free tap water, or you'll be branded as cheapo riff-raff. "Everyone is afraid to say no," wails one who's experienced this water torture first hand. "It's like heroin the way they push bottled water, " whispered another," telling the Times that "I started adding up what I spent on it at the end of a week, and it was like a salary."

This is Jim Hightower saying -- and you thought you had it tough in today's economy. See, it's hell being rich.

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