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February 28, 2012

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Romney should give me some of his wealth.

Kinda funny since Romney is catching flak right now for mentioning his friends who are NASCAR team owners.

(He's in the 1% you know.)

Perhaps you can find new jobs for those people who earn money by building those "unnecessarily expensive cars," yachts, mansions, jets...

Those who feel "bad about themselves" because they are not as successful as others are just jealous.

Vicariously fantasizing about the fabulous lives of the rich and famous has long been prime time prole entertainment. A reasonable assumption is that they enjoy visually consuming the conspicuous consumption of the rich and would find it cruel if the yachts, private jets, exclusive clubs, trophy wives and sumptuous surroundings were hidden from their salivating gaze. Besides, surveys have repeated shown that poor Americans expect to one day be rich themselves, hence their disinclination to favor tax policies that burden the rich.

It's all a b.s. kabuki status game. Here's an example. Liberal blogger Matt Yglesias has been tweaking Mitt Romney about his so-called gaffes about wealth. He tweeted a couple of days ago something along these lines, "I bet $10k most Americans don't have two Cadillacs" (combining allusions to Romney's famous offer of a $10k bet against Perry and Romney's more recent comment that his wife owns two Cadillacs).

Coincidentally, Matt had his dad, novelist and screenwriter Raphael Yglesias, write a guest post on Matt's Slate blog about how much he was getting for his Knicks season tickets these days, with #Linsanity. That guest post mentioned Matt's dad had 3 season tix with face prices of $230 each, i.e., he's spending about $28k per year on that -- more than enough to lease two Cadillacs, no? So, who is Matt Yglesias to mock Mitt Romney for his wife owning a couple of Caddies? It's all b.s.

Speaking of the importance of modesty: I saw Romney on Fox News Sunday and he really made a gaffe in my eyes when in response to accusations of being out of touch, he replied: "If people think there's something wrong with being successful in America, then they should vote for the other guy" (very smart response since it really highlights a very stubborn strand of mostly left-wing thought that economic success equates with moral debasement).

But he followed with: "Because I've been extraordinarily successful". (no body likes a bragger and despite all the faults of Obama, I don't think he commits clangers like that. He has been able to maintain a fairly humble persona throughout his time in the limelight.)

I'm trying to get behind Romney, but the dude seems to be overly gaffe-prone.

[HS: The only time he makes "gaffes" is when he talks about his personal life and his business success. Topics not relevant to how he would lead the country.]

When I see people like Trump and Romney I recall that old saying: They were born on third base and go through their whole life thinking they hit a triple.

Donald Trump's prole behaviour might get him sneered at in the Upper East Side New York but it's what pays his bills.
A hedge fund guy spending millions on a sailing yacht, tech prizes or a college endowment seems like somebody from another planet to the uneducated, but The Donald goes out splurging money on flashy garbage in a way that's relatable to the poor and nouveau-riche, the main market for his crap- who else is going to pay $60,000 for a series of weekend 'investing' seminars at Trump University?

Romney is perfectly comfortable with his wealth.

He is uncomfortable *explaining* his wealth, which is NOT a redeeming quality in an aspiring politician.

"no body likes a bragger and despite all the faults of Obama, I don't think he commits clangers like that."

Uh, whut? Examples of Obama's grotesque narcissistic boastfulness abound. Also, the guy who is supposed to have a giant brain sure does make a lot of stupid mistakes (see http://newsbusters.org/forum/topic-discussion/handy-reference-guide-obama039s-gaffes-and-goofs).

He just doesn't get called on his clangers.

Frank,

Romney was born on 2nd, but he still made it home.
Yes, he was raised in a home that was wealthy. By a guy who wasn't raised wealthy.
That he has realised his potential is a good thing.

Romney is rich, so what? It doesn't make him a bad person. Not that I'm going to vote for the guy.

Also, rules regarding conspicuous consumption differ by region. In the world's largest suburb ostentatious wealth displays look socially acceptable and encouraged. Then again, I'm not from LA so I'm just on the outside looking in. Here in the Northeast it is frowned upon.

There is a saying, "No taxation without representation". Conversely, we can also add that those with the most representation should receive the most taxation.

Ostentacious wealth is how people not yet in the monied classes or new to them display their new status. Mainly because the less conspicious ways require habits and social circles you learn or acquire simply learn growing up rich.

I agree that Romney is very comfortable being wealthy, too comfortable in fact, to the point where he honestly doesn't seem to understand that other people might be bitter or envious towards him. To Romney his wealth is just natural. Trump on the other hand is a man who is not really comfortable being wealthy, probably because Trump's wealth is mostly fraudulent, i.e. his net worth is far lower than most people assume.

I disagree. Only people full of envy and spite would object to the element of poetry and romance that lavish displays of wealth on the part of the upper classes would introduce into our national life (and no offense, HS, but many of your posts seem motivated by envy and discontent with your economic and social situation, its pretty plain to see)

Much of the dullness and flatness of life in America is because the wealthy refuse to makes displays of glamour and elegance. Nobody dresses well anymore, no one lives in the grand style in the public eye. I feel the wealthy OWE it to the rest of us to provide us with a grand spectacle, like they did in 19th century England. These days, all the beautiful homes are invisible to the ordinary person. No doubt the grand life continues, but it is now behind closed doors and barred gates, to spare the envious the pain, and deprive everyone else of the pleasure.

Truth is, the lower classes LOVE lavish displays of wealth and spectacle on the part of the wealthy - far from feeling envy, they feel it introduces an element of romance and poetry into their live, which it DOES.

Not only that, but if upper classes behaviors become more visible to everyone, it spreads a higher tone over society as a whole, and everyone starts to care about things like dressing well, having good manners, etc.

HS, your suggestion is very jewish or chinese.

"Those who feel "bad about themselves" because they are not as successful as others are just jealous."

What does "successful" mean? Is a scientist who died broke but changed the world less successful than a douchebag who made a fortune in the porn business?

It's interesting to read this after having just read Charles Dickens' disgust at the gaudy dresses he saw ladies wearing in New York City when he visited the United States.

If you believe Paul Fussell's wonderful book CLASS, then Old Money has always known better than to flaunt its wealth in the face of the less wealthy. Old Money looks down on New Money's vulgar ostentation.

I felt like there was a bit of this in the Old-World Dickens experiencing the New World, but he seemed genuinely upset by the tackiness of well-off American women. (I've never seen so many exclamation points in his writing.)

Better yet, whenever Romney is asked about his wealth, he frames the answer as if he worked hard his entire life to get to where he is now, which he probably did.

Referring to George Romney, how exactly does one run for President if one is born in Mexico?

"Romney was born on 2nd, but he still made it home."

In one of Donald Trump's abortive presidential campaigns -- maybe the one in 2000? -- there was an early candidate (maybe Gary Bauer?) who kept repeating how his father was a janitor or something, to highlight his salt-of-the-earth roots. Eventually, Trump got tired of hearing it and said something like, "I don't think I'd feel comfortable voting for someone whose family managed to stay poor for so many generations in this country".

How would the "true upper class" parade their wealth around in any case? Rappers/athletes often wear unnecessary jewelry and drive suped up cars, but other than, there are not many mega-rich activities you can engage in in public view (owning expensive properties, flying private jets, eating at exclusive restaurants, etc).

Furthermore, Romney is a bad example of a typical upperclassmen not wanting to parade his wealth around. As was detailed in a ny times profile, Romney's father put unusual an emphasis on thrift, which was inculcated further by the Mormon church's emphasis on the traditional, but now largely ignored, conception of the 'protestant work ethic', wherein the faithful are expected to work very hard and amass great wealth (great wealth being a direct indication of god of their holiness) but nevertheless maintain a lifestyle as close to aesthetic ideal as possible. In other words, Romney is not merely displaying characteristics typical of his social class; his behavior follows from a far more idiosyncratic prompt.

And in any case I disagree that Romney's "uncomfortableness" about his wealth should be a point of admiration. Romney lived the life that modern republican party uphold as the ideal for americans to work toward and for the government to rigorously defend--that of a prodigious capitalist and faithful family man. He really ought to be making more of a show of this fact.

There's also a huge hierarchy in luxury vehicles, I would concur that using a 1.4 million dollar Bugatti Supersport for commuting is extremely nouveau-riche, as well as owning more than 3 super cars for personal use or for heaven's sake having SPEED BOAT docked in Miami.. yuck.

However, luxury vehicles does have its value for the price... heated seats, steering, auto parking, carbon breaks and multiple safety features > ordinary junk aka. Ford, Chevy, Dodge, Toyota, Nissan. Also there's studies showing that certain luxury cars are less likely to arouse suspicion from police.


Old money conspicuous consumption is more in the form of owning and operating multiple houses, taking secluded vacations, collecting rare artifacts, cultivating refined taste and funding campaigns.

@Jeanne

Romney is the top 0.001 percent. His wife is also well-off, I estimate that she is worth 2-3 million which equals the total household net worth of Ron Paul.

"I don't think I'd feel comfortable voting for someone whose family managed to stay poor for so many generations in this country".

What a guy! With that attitude why have a democracy at all? Why not have a eugenics based monarchy so that people such as John F. Kennedy stay locked out of positions of power? Donald Trump is a joke, a rich joke, but a joke nonetheless. He may be a parody of himself, but I do respect how he doesn't try downplaying his wealth like most rich people do.

Anyway, what do you think of Yelp going public Half Sigma?

http://www.webpronews.com/yelp-could-reach-value-of-840-million-with-ipo-2012-02


"Mormon church's emphasis on the traditional, but now largely ignored, conception of the 'protestant work ethic', wherein the faithful are expected to work very hard and amass great wealth (great wealth being a direct indication of god of their holiness) but nevertheless maintain a lifestyle as close to aesthetic ideal as possible."

John Calvin was a prophet of Mormonism! Forget Congregationalist and Presbyterian churches, his true raison d'etre was to influence Joseph Smith and Mormonism!

Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, George Soros, and Stephen Girard are (or were in Girard's case) holy men! While attacking the 1% is currently en vogue there are exceptions to this rule, and we cannot help but feel indebted to Gates for revolutionizing the way we live and conduct business.

[HS: The only time he makes "gaffes" is when he talks about his personal life and his business success. Topics not relevant to how he would lead the country.]

Agreed. But do you think the tens of millions of average voters with no real political ideology vote by weighing the pros and cons of some abstruse policy item or on how much they like a guy?

Yes, but the ostentatious displays of wealth make the post-revolutionary show trials and public executions all the more satisfying, comrade!

"The only time he makes 'gaffes' is when he talks about his personal life and his business success."

His business success may at first glance appear as though he would know how to run a country, but the private sector and public sector are two different worlds entirely.

"Agreed. But do you think the tens of millions of average voters with no real political ideology vote by weighing the pros and cons of some abstruse policy item or on how much they like a guy?"

George W. Bush had a friendly and endearing personality, but I voted against him. A likable personality should not be a major criterion for public office. I wonder when our next St.Paul's Bonesman vs. Andover Bonesman election will be?

I think more Americans weight the pros and cons of various policies than you think, but are generally right (unfortunately) regarding people voting based off "likability".

I am looking for a candidate who will maintain a sensible freedom to security ratio, too much "security" and it impedes upon liberty and the pursuit of happiness while too much freedom undermines law and order. Imagine a world where it's legal for a father to buy his six year old son a gun and his son uses it, or legal for corporations to put arsenic in our food. That last example is a ludicrous extreme, but nevertheless illustrates the point. Also keep in mind that a president isn't a dictator who will magically do everything you want him to do, and has restrictions of his own.

"The only time he makes "gaffes" is when he talks about his personal life and his business success. Topics not relevant to how he would lead the country."

Here's a recent quote from Romney:

"You know, it's very easy to excite the base with incendiary comments."

In other words, he sees conservative Republicans as silly fools who he just needs to put up with until he gets elected. They say a gaffe is when a politician actually says what he believes. This gaffe says a lot about Romney.

There is a difference between being tacky and nouvaeu-riche and being stylish and elegant in true aristocratic style - the English knew quite well the difference in the 19th century, and there is still some lingering trace of that still.

I saw the President of GM or one of the US car companies interviewed and he said if he could buy any car it would be a Toyota Camry. That's really all you need if you don't have 7 kids.

If you have a Bentley, shouldn't have a driver? I have seen people driving themselves around in one of these cars, unless the guy was the driver, but I doubt it.

"How would the "true upper class" parade their wealth around in any case?"

Today? T-shirt and jeans. If they're from working class roots, maybe the same brand of jeans you wear; if they're from upper class roots, maybe an expensive brand of jeans you haven't heard of. 7 figure earners who sell to the truly wealthy wear the fancy suits.

Rolls Royces require a driver. Bentleys you drive yourself.

@Jay M

You do realize that the Kennedy estate had an estimated worth of 1 billion dollars and JFK donated/bribed his way into Harvard right?

Politics run on money.

Jeanne, interest in NASCAR is a good prole credential. But I don't think owning a team counts.
H-S is just showing his manhattan aesthetics here. Not everyone can have subtle status symbols like a teenage kid with a 1900 chess rating, some average Joes work all their lives to be able to climb behind the wheel of a kickass Beemer.

One of the nice things about some of the dodgier parts of Latin America is that ostentatious displays of wealth tend to be self-limiting.

"His business success may at first glance appear as though he would know how to run a country,"

Not even at first glance. He didn't run a corporation that made anything. He was a management consultant. They specialize in telling clients what they want to hear, glibly suggesting quick fixes, and not hanging around to see how well the fixes worked or to take responsibility for them.

"heated seats, steering, auto parking, carbon breaks and multiple safety features > ordinary junk"

Sort of OT, but all of those items except auto parking (which is still rare, and offered on cars that definitely aren't in the luxury category) are available on, to take just one example, a Ford Focus. The value in expensive cars is they're an easy way to display one's "success", and they have value in some areas. One of my friends who sells mortgages noted that his referrals increased dramatically when he got rid of his civic and bought an Infinity. The same is largely true in real estate where I live. Luxury cars (within reason) do have value in some businesses.

Caplan:
"Vicariously fantasizing about the fabulous lives of the rich and famous has long been prime time prole entertainment. A reasonable assumption is that they enjoy visually consuming the conspicuous consumption of the rich and would find it cruel if the yachts, private jets, exclusive clubs, trophy wives and sumptuous surroundings were hidden from their salivating gaze. Besides, surveys have repeated shown that poor Americans expect to one day be rich themselves, hence their disinclination to favor tax policies that burden the rich."


And this is the problem. It's also what motivates the ridiculous spending habits of wealthy proles like Trump or lottery winners- they can't bear wealth with grace.

And because every American is indelibly convinced he will one day be rich, he is unwilling to take the steps which would lead to financial security. Getting rich is a matter of hard work and intelligence, but it's mostly related to connections and luck. The average American who fantasizes about wealth is an unlucky guy of mediocre intelligence who wouldn't know where to look for the right social connections.

a progressive consumption tax would be a great solution.

@J1

I was merely illustrating that luxury vehicles does provide additional utility for the price, even though the most benefit one gets from owning a luxury vehicle is the status symbol and people's stereotypes that stems from prejudice, which is especially helpful in again business and not getting pulled over by police.

Auto parking was started by Lexus, BMW, Audi, Jag, Range and Mercedes... since when were those brands not considered luxury? Also when I meant auto parking, I meant auto parallel parking.

Ford Focus is still junk... hows the handling btw? Does it have sport mode or even launch control? Does it have a double clutch suspension? 0-60 in 7 seconds... not bad, however what's the point when it is constantly breaking down and in the shop? I'm so glad ignoramuses will continue to buy these brands and automatically label themselves as morons.

" Does it have sport mode or even launch control? Does it have a double clutch suspension? 0-60 in 7 seconds... not bad, however what's the point when it is constantly breaking down and in the shop? "

Why do you need all that if you just drive 20 miles round trip to work and run errands on the weekends?

I don't think the Focus, Civic or Camry break down a lot. If you spend 17,000 on a Civic instead of 35 or 40 grand on a Bmw, you won't come close to spending 18 to 23 grand on repairs. You'll still save money with a Focus or a Civic.

A Lexus or BMW never goes into the shop?


Even if you want to spend 40 g's on a more expensive car that will break down less, you have to be able to make the payments and many people can't make the pmts on a 40 grand car.

If I had 5 to 10 million dollars, I would consider spending 40,000 on a car that will be more comfortable and have better performance, but it's not worth it for the average person.

@Twain

Because heated electronic seats are comfortable in East coat winters. Additionally ABS, limited differential slipping, heated windows, Xenon headlights and AWD are all useful in New England weather.

Did I mention better breaks, handling and acceleration, even auto breaking to avoid accidents with inept drivers?

Saving money isn't a concern for the rich. Why do you think Upper-middle families buy SUVs for their daughters? It's so that they survive car crashes.

Luxury vehicles also last a lot longer 200+ miles than shitty American crap. But than again the truly rich will usually lease the cars for a few years then upgrade to newer models.

Poor people actually spend much more on status posturing than the rich, especially black people.

quote:
"Research indicates that African Americans constitute 13 percent of the total U.S. population and are responsible for the following consumption patterns: Fifty percent of movie theater tickets; 36 percent of hair conditioners; 32 percent of malt liquors; 26 percent of Cadillac automobiles;"

Contrary to what mainstream media would like to portray, the rich are actually very frugal when it comes to status posturing. The rich spend their money much more responsibly. All of the "toys" of the rich account for only a small proportion of their net worth while for poor people their "bling-bling" literally makes up their entire net worth.

"what's the point when it is constantly breaking down and in the shop?"

It's pretty clear you've never owned a Range Rover. Or a Jaguar. And definitely don't include Range Rover if you're going to compare handling; a full size RV would give it a run for it's money.

"But than again the truly rich will usually lease the cars"

Huh? And what the hell is a double clutch supension?

"Poor people actually spend much more on status posturing than the rich, especially black people."

Also keep in mind that "expensive" should be adjusted relative to one's socioeconomic status. For Warren Buffet an Hermes closet wouldn't be expensive (although he almost certainly doesn't have one due to his infamous frugality) whereas Lacoste and Marc Jacobs are prohibitively expensive for the typical working class person. "Expensive" should also be adjusted for quality. A $100,000 car that is very comfortable, secure, and well built that is worth the money isn't expensive whereas a $50,000 car that frequently breaks down would be.

@J1

Yes, I haven't because I actually have some taste in cars. Everyone knows that Aston Martin or a Bentley is much better British car than a Jaguar. A classic Jaguar is an aesthetic thing and expensive to maintain like a quality mistress or horse. If I'm misbegotten enough to purchase a SUV, I would rather settle for a BMW X5 than a overpriced and over hyped Indian car. I intended to separate dual clutch and sports suspension.. however it was implied, so why don't you go read about it on the BMW or Porsche website?

The fact of the matter is the better part of luxury cars do have their utility and worth every Euro.

@ Dr. Anonymous

I am thinking about buying a car. Is there a good Sedan in the 30-35 grand range or less, if possible, for the kind of car you think is quality? Or do you have to spend over 40,000?

I would like you to recommend a few Sedans that you think are good.

Will this car you recommend last 15-20 years if I drive 50,000 miles in 10 years?

The problem is people have to buy cheaper cars because they can't afford the better ones.

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