Poor Rich People

Hawkgrrl returns to grace us with her words.

This has been a crappy few years to be rich.  There have been a few jerks who’ve really given wealth a bad name:   Wall Streeters who traded in junk bonds, pyramid schemer Bernie Madoff, and “hot rabbit” and accused maid molester DSK.  Many rich people are under water on their mortgage(s).  Add to that a Democrat government that is unapologetically tone-deag to rich people and their needs.  As Jesus said, “The poor ye have always with you.” Meaning, it’s always going to suck to be poor, but being rich is supposed to be awesome, right?  Yet, thanks to a few bad apples and a little global economic peril, rich people are vilified and reviled, mocked openly for their very riches.  There’s something wrong when 99% of people can threaten the well-being of the overwhelming minority, the 1%.  It’s a good thing the rich can afford personal security and to serve in government.

And the hits keep coming.  A recent study shows that (I am not making this up) rich people are more likely to take candy from babies.

First of all, depending on how old the babies are and the type of candy, babies should not be eating candy.  It’s unsafe.  Babies’ teeth may not be well developed enough for a nougat or a crunchy Heath bar.  Another problem with babies eating candy is that they are often very messy with it.  I have known a baby to take a caramel out of his drooling mouth multiple times before ultimately leaving it in the carpet, resulting in property damage.  Should we really reward that kind of behavior?  Also, with the childhood obesity problem in the US, the rich people may be providing a valuable service in preventing babies from becoming addicted to low-nutrition foods.  Of course, the article did not make any of these valid points, instead implying that rich people are selfish bastards.

This study reminded me of another one I read years ago in which bagels and muffins were provided to office workers on an honor system (take one, leave a dollar).  Once again, the study was biased against rich people who had a lower rate of paying for their pastries.  The conclusion was that people who made less money were more virtuous and rich people were “cheaper.”  However, the study didn’t stop to consider whether the rich people were neglecting to leave a dollar because they don’t carry small bills; when viewed in that light, the muffin basket can be seen as a primitive form of sugary entrapment.  Another possible conclusion is that they felt a dollar was too low a sum to be concerned about.  This just illustrates one issue in a free market economy; when you undervalue your goods, they are taken for granted by customers and your products are quickly commoditized.  And lastly, it’s also possible that their assistants were the ones who fetched their bagels for them, so it was just guilt by association.

Even in the wealth-friendly GOP, we are hearing a lot of anti-wealth sentiment, especially from the so-called Walmart Republicans.  Voters want a candidate they could drink a beer with, not sip a fine chablis with (either way, Romney loses out on that one!).  Romney in particular is an easy target for class warfare.

  • Romney says “Corporations are people,” which I hear to mean “Corporations represent millions of jobs done by ordinary Americans like me” (IOW, we hurt corporations at peril of hurting the people who work for them), but the media blows into “Corporations deserve special rights that hurt individuals.”  Which one did Romney really mean?  The question is moot!  Sound bites trump all.
  • He tells Michiganders that his wife and he support American automakers because Ann drives a couple of Cadillacs (presumably not simultaneously which would Really be newsworthy).  He could have followed this up with, “You’re welcome” because who else is so scrupulous about buying American cars?  This one is just silly anyway.  Everyone knows that Cadillacs are not rich people cars, just old people cars.
  • He quips to voters that he’s also unemployed, a joke about the stress of running for office.  I watched Last Comic Standing, and that show is basically identical to the GOP primary process only less hilarious:  unemployed men & women who have left everything to be on a reality show contest until there is only one left standing.  Poor people are allowed to make all the jokes about unemployment they want.  We call that comedy.  When rich people do it, we call it being “out of touch.”
  •  He says he has friends who own NASCAR teams.  I’m honestly not even sure what that means.  But I don’t think I want to live in a country where NASCAR represents the middle class.  Oh wait, I don’t.

There’s also reason to believe that Romney is not really the way he’s being portrayed in the media, even the way his own gaffes make him sound.

Romney is apparently unable to afford styling gel on vacation.

Romney is too cheap to buy the Ensign, instead printing out his home teaching lesson from lds.org.

Romney drives with his grandkids not buckled in.  That’s as red state as a diaper bag hanging from a gun rack.

The Romneys use paper plates and cups that even I would turn my nose up at.  The plastic Solo cups and plates are much more sturdy, and really they don’t cost that much more.  I only ever see these cheap ones in the ward Relief Society closet.  Hey, wait a minute . . . !

The Romney clan exceeding capacity in a hot tub.  This is practically like the Clampetts enjoying their “cement pond” on the Beverly Hillbillies.

Using a dining room chair in your home office?  Even their actual office chair is pretty ghetto.  Also, that dining room chair looks like it hasn’t been reupholstered since Working Girl was in theatres.

  • Given that Obama is the president who said small town America was “bitter,” this election could be the battle of two “out of touch” elites.  The article about taking candy from babies concludes with:  “Are rich people more likely to be jerks, or are jerks more likely to get rich?”  Perhaps Obama would ask:  “Are poor people more likely to be bitter and envious, or are bitter, envious people more likely to get poor?”
  • Do rich people get a bum rap in this country due to problems a handful of bad apples caused?
  • Are rich politicians (and don’t kid yourself, most of them are rich) being hypocrites when they purport to relate to the common man?
  • Is the class war just two self-serving groups of people who won’t listen to each other?  Is one class better or worse than the other?
  • Is the American dream of rags to riches no longer valid?
  • Is poverty virtuous?  Can poverty be out of touch?

Discuss.

Comments

  1. Hawkgrrl is out of touch because she can afford to write things on the internet.

  2. Oh, boy.

  3. I for one enjoy the fact that he uses cheap paper plates.

  4. It’s tongue-in-cheek but these pictures do seriously say something about the Romney’s. It’s not all caviar and yachts, like the Gingrich/Santorum/Obama camp wants people to believe. Which is remarkable because it could be for them. But they are actually down-to-earth people.

    Very fun post though. Thanks!

  5. This has been a crappy few years to be rich.

    No it hasn’t been. The rich are doing fantastic; in fact, they are continuing to be richer than everyone else.

    Given that Obama is the president who said small town America was “bitter,” this election could be the battle of two “out of touch” elites.

    Except that the substance of Obama’s comment was accurate, however crude it’s expression; the documentation of the popular frustration felt in poor and rural communities over the concentration of wealth and the disappearance of local tax bases is quite thorough.

    Do rich people get a bum rap in this country due to problems a handful of bad apples caused?

    No, the concentration of wealth is a systematic flaw within capitalism that generates innumerable negatives effects, whether or not there are particular individuals engaged in gross corruption.

    Are rich politicians (and don’t kid yourself, most of them are rich) being hypocrites when they purport to relate to the common man?

    Yes.

    Is the class war just two self-serving groups of people who won’t listen to each other?

    No.

    Is one class better or worse than the other?

    According to scripture, the answer is “often, yes.”

    Is the American dream of rags to riches no longer valid?

    Less so than it used to be, that’s for certain.

    Is poverty virtuous?

    No, it’s terrible.

    Can poverty be out of touch?

    With what?

  6. @ #3 Those are actually the finest bone china, hand-painted to resemble cheap paper plates so the kids can “connect” with poor people without having to eat off anything undignified.

  7. The only substantive issue I feel compelled to point out is that it is not the “cement pond”, but “cee-ment pond”.

  8. #5!

  9. They furnished their office from Ikea. We have that same office chair and desk. It is a horribly uncomfortable chair but for $15 what can you expect.

  10. Those studies make perfect sense. The affluent instinctively game the system to accumulate more, and also tend to be cheap. Heck, that’s how people become rich in most cases! Wish I had understood that earlier in my life. Mitt Romney exemplifies both qualities. The office chair and shelving in the bottom pic came from Ikea and are very inexpensive. Wonder if he assembled it all himself??

  11. Ikea furniture!

  12. I think that Ikea “office” is the kids’ computer room.

  13. That looks to be the case. The kids do get a super-cool iMac it seems.

  14. He gets credit in my book for the super cool convertible and — believe it or not — back when the picture was taken there weren’t a lot of kid seats for cars. Because the car isn’t moving, he isn’t putting anyone at risk. But anyone who can fit that many kids in a convertible gets my vote.

  15. Also, guessing the age of the convertible (mid 60s), back seat belts were an extra, not yet required for all cars.

  16. It’s been said before, but… #5! Thank you.

  17. “The plastic Solo cups and plates are much more sturdy…”

    Now I have that damned “Red Solo Cup” song stuck in my head. And, if you click through the link to the full set of family photos, you will see them around a breakfast table with Yellow Solo Cups.

    Yellow Solo Cups… The Mormon Solo Cup.

  18. Who pockets $10,000,000 a year (after tithing and taxes) and looks himself in the mirror and says, “I am just”?

  19. Thanks for this post, I loved the laugh and the pics and the questions. The pics remind me of my favorite from the HW Bush era– of George Sr and Barbara in their bed with a gaggle of grand kids scattered all over them, I think newspaper everywhere, probably breakfast dishes on the bedside table. It just screamed “Saturday morning lie-in”.

    But WTH is that DESK in the home office? An ironing board? A piece of wood on a couple of sawhorses??? Wonder if there are also cinderblock and particleboard shelves to complete the ensemble? Reminds me of countless college apartments…

  20. I’m not 100% sure, but that convertible looks like a 1963 Rambler American convertible. Highly likely, given that his dad ran American Motors at that time. In that kind of shape, I suspect it’s worth near as much as a new Escalade. That seems like a good match for the bone china painted to look like paper plates. It’s hard, you know, to keep up appearances.

  21. it's a series of tubes says:

    Who pockets $10,000,000 a year (after tithing and taxes) and looks himself in the mirror and says, “I am just”?

    Jealous much?

  22. Mommie Dearest says:

    How much is rich? 100k/year? 200k/year? What if you have 7 kids? With 2 in college and 1 on mission?

    Sorry for the threadjack – if this is only about super rich politicians and not ordinary “rich,” like half the folks in my stake.

  23. #5

  24. I have always felt the definition of “rich” is anyone who makes more than I do. I think that’s a pretty consistent definition.

  25. I’m not going to reveal last year’s income, but let me state for the record that people that make twice that are not rich. People live in three times the space and drive cars worth four times more than mine–and still aren’t rich. I think most people in my economic position would agree–although we all wish our kids had more room to run around, and we all wish our cars wouldn’t break down every two or three months, those with modest homes and decent cars aren’t rich. “Anyone who makes more than me is rich” seems to only apply when one is already living a comfortable (if not extravagant) lifestyle.

    Part of the problem is we’re separated into rich communities and poor communities, and, all too commonly, rich wards and poor wards. We too often don’t see how the other part really lives, and how they struggle.

  26. If you make $1,000,000, but you owe $1,000,001, you’re still broke.

  27. MikeInWeHo says:

    You can figure out how rich you are here:

    http://www.givingwhatwecan.org/resources/how-rich-you-are.php

  28. Mike, THANK YOU! That’s awesome.

  29. Tim, your point about the socio-economic isolation within the church due to geographic boundaries is valid. It’s certainly more of an issue in some areas than in others. Growing up in PA, our ward had a lot of economic diversity (church was about a 45 minute drive for us). Living in Scottsdale, AZ, we had very little economic diversity, and even less in Taylorsville, UT. Yet, even in a fairly wealthy ward like Scottsdale, there were people who were hit hard by the recession and were on church welfare. Without being privy to that information, it is very hard to know who is struggling.

  30. Awesome link, Mike! I’ve seen similar, but without the connection to giving. That is fantastic.

    Hawkgrrrl, you. are. awesome.

  31. MikeInWeHo says:

    Yeah, I agree Cynthia. It’s better than some of the other ones around. Seems to top out at “< 0.1" though. I'd love to see one that compares wealth distribution within the U.S. as well. American affluence is interesting because many of the wealthiest people think of themselves as middle-class. It's a fascinating perception bias that I've seen a lot. Why is it most of the time we only compare ourselves to people who have more than we do?

    http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/04/19/rich-people-still-dont-realize-theyre-rich/

  32. “Poverty is an anomaly to the rich. They cannot understand why the poor when hungry do not simply ring the bell”
    Walter Bagehot.
    Wealth changes you until you give it away. It is not about little trivial indicia like paper plates, etc. that one can point to but rather how you see others and yourself. The “others” need to work harder (Romney says he worked hard–but as someone said if “work” is the formula then every African mother should be billionaires). You begin to speak of “self reliance” as if it were founded in the gospel or the words of Jesus. It inevitably leads to pride and condescension no matter how much you try to mask it. It just leaks out–as Romney and those of his privilege demonstrate.

  33. Hawk, the captions really gave me a chuckle!

  34. I really have a hard time seeing how being poor is any more or less virtuous than being rich.

    Envy is just as much a deadly sin as greed. And frankly I find my own sins to be of greater concern than others, hence, I shall focus on envy, and hope to work on greed one of these days.

  35. “I really have a hard time seeing how being poor is any more or less virtuous than being rich.

    Envy is just as much a deadly sin as greed.”

    Baaaaaaarf.

    Hawkgrrrl, I read this as very tongue-in-cheek, and enjoyed it immensely in that light. Others seem to have taken it more literally. A literal reading quite depresses me, so I’m going to go ahead and continue to take it as satire. :)

  36. Definitely satire. ;)

  37. Funny. Thank you MikeinWeHo for that cool link. Very enlightening. According to the calculator, I’m very blessed. But I still can’t afford to buy a house in my home town or retire! Ever!

  38. We too often don’t see how the other part really lives, and how they struggle.

    True. This regrettable situation also leads us to say things like “I think most people in my economic position would agree–[...]those with modest homes and decent cars aren’t rich.”

  39. hawkgrrrl, that was just awesome. Not only did it make me chuckle, but I love how it brought out the knee-jerks. Rebecca J. did that to me in fine form once, and I’m still laughing at myself.

  40. Hilarious :) And Romney should definitely let his hair down (literally) – he looks better that way, and the Ken Doll look isn’t helping with the whole robot thing.

  41. Rigel Hawthorne says:

    It would be even more telling if it was revealed that they all crashed the hot tub at a resort where they were not guests. Just parked, walked in, put their stuff on the lounge chairs and hopped in.

  42. Most excellent satire. It made me laugh and it made me think. And then it made me laugh some more.

    I have a wealthy uncle in a family that came from poverty, so i guess I’m lucky to know how to see both sides having been in the middle of it. Wealth changed their family, but from what I saw it wasn’t all a bad change. However, I did also see what happens when envy is allowed to take residence and thrive in a person.

    Thanks for that link, MikeInWeHo. It helps to put my lower-middle-class self into a perspective that God would like me to focus on. :)

  43. MikeInWeHo says:

    “I really have a hard time seeing how being poor is any more or less virtuous than being rich.”

    If only Jesus would have given us some guidance in this area.

  44. Very nice juxtaposition of some of the issues surrounding the election; e.g. a political elite vs. a business elite.

    Where’s the common man between the two?

  45. From these pictures you would think that Mitt makes about 100 times less money than he actually does. Change a few of the comments and HG could have a good pr link here. They look like a lot of middle to upper middle class families.
    My fairly high income puts me way up on the personnel income list, but on the MikeInWeHo link my family size brings me back down to only the top 10% globally. Of course, a single person who is getting unemployment will be at that same level for 2 years courtesy of the top 50% of Americans (by income). The real tragedy is that there are millions of Americans who think they need that 2 years of assistance before really starting to work again. Tell that to a Namibian.

  46. Aside from implying the Romneys filched paper plates from the ward supply closet, I think this stuff is pretty much PR ready!

    MikeInWeHo – I love the global perspective and agree we could all give more (the point of the link), but I question it for one reason: someone making $5000 per annum is in the top 20% globally. I recognize the amount of poverty there is in the world, but I’m not quite ready to call everyone not living in a mud hut or discarded refrigerator box extravagant.

  47. Thanks for the satire Hawk.

  48. Poor rich people.

    Warren Buffett promises to pay triple to Mitch McConnell’s voluntary contributions. Guess how much Buffett owes so far? Zilch, bupkis, nada.

    The rich only started with those voluntary contributions around late 18th to early 19th century. Before that the line was that they had earned every last penny they had, and it would have been fighting God’s will to give money or food to the poor.

    Never mind that Jesus exhorts his disciples to look after the poor. What about stuff that everybody needs, like security? No, taxes can never be raised!

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