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June 08, 2012

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I could see the top-out-of-sighters engaging in hobbies and activities that would allow them to not engage with almost anyone. For example, having a 5,000+ acre ranch. Or being collectors of paintings, coins, stamps, vases, etc.

I can't ever see them using a cab!

A counter to your "no dentist" rule:

Leslie Hill is a member of the Bancroft family. In fact, Ms. Hill was one of the family's principal negotiators during the Bancrofts' sale of the Wall Street Journal to News Corp.

Ms. Hill worked as an airline pilot.

"This is all speculation, I could be wrong about anything or everything I wrote above."

My favorite kind of HS post.

Invisible Elites are the investor class. They sit on an ocean of money and use it for venture capitalism, but NOT in America, which is why you see our business stagnate.

ANY profitable area is where they are NOW and that shifts weekly.

They live in modern, guarded, Feudal castles far above the peasants.

Read C. Wright Mills' "The Power Elite."

Some things to add:

I've socialized with people who probably fit into your category. Not sure if you've covered this:

Essentially all of them are college educated,with real, academically difficult degrees, including the stay at home moms.

In a similar vein, some of them may work in areas like arts and philanthropy, but they don't have useless SWPL liberal arts degrees and on average are considerably more intelligent than SWPLs (again, including the stay at home moms).

They're big on high-end gated communities where that sort of thing is possible. As a side note, I include buildings with a doorman or otherwise restricted access in the gated community category.

They regularly attend "high-church" protestant churches. I think you covered that one, but left out the high church aspect - these people don't attend a Presbyterian church with a praise band.

I have to disagree on the political point; I think that's your NYC experience talking. Most people in this group are Republicans (but may not be registered as such) and vote accordingly, but will donate to, associate with, and even claim to be Democrats if it serves their interests.

Like you I could be wrong about some or all of this.

I bet that "top-out-of-sight" class is primarily a phenomenon of the major cities. Once you get outside the really big cities (and the places where people retire and vacation), there doesn't seem to be a class of people (in any significant numbers) that separate themselves from everybody else as much. I grew up upper class, so I had at least some visibility of the upper classes growing up.

My girlfriend had an encounter with someone who you'd probably consider to be top out-of-sight. On her way home from a conference, waiting in the airport, she overhead a phone conservation a rather unassuming-looking gentleman was having where he mentioned how he's donated a million dollars so far this year. Turns out this dude is a wealthy alumnus from her alma mater. Don't know if the fact that he was talking about this in public disqualifies him.

On another, unrelated note, you've gotten your wish (this one: http://www.halfsigma.com/2011/12/we-need-a-black-hbd-blogger.html ). See here: http://jayman.blog.com/2012/06/08/dysgenic-fertility-among-blacks-apparently-yes/

I got a glimpse of a TOOS lifestyle about 10 yrs. ago when I delivered a package to a mansion on Nob Hill in S.F. The guy who answered the door was wearing a silk smoking jacket and holding a leatherbound book. I asked him what he was reading and it turned out to be something by Suetonius.

HS, do you read Jamie Johnson's articles in Vanity Fair? (it's been a while since he published a new one)

I met a member of this class in NYC recently. He takes subways and rides a Vespa. One thing I've noticed about some members of this class: they fly commercial even though they could easily afford to fly private.

The top out of site are very real. I went to school with quite a few of them.

Usually, they're very polite and quite charming. Hence, no one notices them.

Some things to consider/add based on my impressions-
- Not just a nanny. Not unusual to have 1-2 au pairs (French, high education-level on contracts, think Segolene Royal was an au pair), FT household staff (butler/maids), personal assistants, bookkeeper/accountant and investment manager to manage the "outside" investment managers
- Some men might "work" as hedge fund managers or venture capitalists, but this is not work for a paycheck, this is a hobby thing. They don't have outside investors that can pull the money out during a bad streak like what happens with a "regular" hedge fund
- Very high levels of privacy: staff has non-disclosure contracts, social network usage a lot less common (they'll never need to point a recruiter to their linkedin profile), lots of assets are held under LLC for tax and other reasons, the personal names are not unusual
- Think Fishers Island, not the Hamptons
- Smart, polished, polite, fit/trim, well-educated from top brand name schools but you have to realize that going to school for them is simply a means of socialization vs. what the masses do or think they are doing (increase value in the marketplace by acquiring knowledge, skills and some signaling)

"Invisible Elites are the investor class. They sit on an ocean of money and use it for venture capitalism, but NOT in America, which is why you see our business stagnate."

Nonsense. Venture capital investment in the US dwarfs that of other countries. The problem, from the perspective of the US economy, is that most of the VC investment has been going into dot-com 2.0 companies that create relatively few jobs.

If they're only relatively wealthy -- not up to the standards of Bill Gates, or Carlos Slim, or Mark Zuckerberg; and they don't have any special political power, and they're too reticent to have the influence of (say) Rick Warren, then they're just a subculture within the upper classes. They have their own self-defined hierarchy, and they snub a lot of wanna-bes desperate for inclusion, but so does every high school clique, even those cliques made of those who have already been excluded, like the goths and the chess club.
Being "out-of-sight" to the mainstream is not equivalent to "top."

Who, now, is the rightful heir to the throne of France, or Russia, or Germany? The answer is: who cares? Similarly, who is the most eligible bachelor or most desired debutante among the tiny minority of people descended from families that were once important in the America of decades ago, but are no longer? What the hell could any of them possibly do to or for you or me, one way or the other?

"Ms. Hill worked as an airline pilot"

Half would probably put that in a category similar to dentist, but the truth is being an airline pilot requires decision making skills most people lack, though ideally you'd hope there were few if any situations where they were utilized. Also, it's pretty common (at least at the major airlines that hire primarily ex-military pilots) for airline pilots to have graduate degrees that, in many cases, would make them well suited for the type of negotiation you mention.

Half Sigma needs to convince a few of the top-out-of-sight class to comment on this blog. I am not a member of that class, but I will fake it:

Hello all,
I am a member of the top-out-of-sight class. You will not see me, and I prefer not to see you. I have no interest in proles and commoners. I enjoy throwing scraps to the peasants, in the same way that commoners toss bread to ducks in the park.

Politics? We don't do politics based on party or philosophy. The debates and campaigns are for the commoners. We support those in our personal network regardless of party affiliation. We want access to private banquets. We want discreet favors. Why should I care if the favors are granted by a Democrat or a Republican? You commoners are so cute - the way you read, talk, and blog about politics.

Our culture is very PC. I can't explain this to those who read HBD blogs.

********

Half,

on other HBD blogs you hear from young men who say
"I can't believe Zuck is married to that plain looking female ... if i had billions I would be with 10s"

Only someone with maturity can understand Zuck's decision.

Similarly, when people on most HBD blogs discuss the top class of wealthy people, you read things like "I can't believe Warren B still lives in the same middle class house in Omaha that he has always lived in ... if i was a billionaire i'd buy yachts and planes and a huge mansion"

Half, it takes a certain kind of maturity that few people have to understand that most people in America with massive money just don't want to spend it on bling. They want to transmit the right values to their kids.

In today's wall st journal there is a great article about Charlie Ergen. Charlie has 8 billion dollars and yet he taught all his kids to be super frugal. In fact he says in the article that just about all of his kids have cancelled pay tv in order to save money and presumably watch netflix streaming ($8 a month) and youtube (free) and hulu (free) This is a guy who spent the time needed to raise his kids right.

Most members of the top out of sight class have the same attitude

I see a lot of wild speculation about this class. I think the name "Top Out of Sight" is probably throwing us off. I feel like we are talking about a class that could be better named along the lines of "Old Money" or "Old Established Families".

Clearly there is a rank above Upper Middle Class (high end professionals/managers, the "SWPL" class) and merely Upper Class (first generation successful business owners, Big Law/iBanking/consultancy partners, successful entertainers). You say that a tell-tale sign of the "Top Out of Sight" is second generation elite private schooling. I think that is one indicator of Old Money. Having no interest in mixing with regular upper class citizens to me implies old established New England families. The sheer wealth, as you say, may be actually below some of the merely upper class. But, the other indicators of class will be far above. Summers in Dark Harbor, not in the Hamptons, that sort of thing.

The TOoS people network on asmallworld not facebook.

@Gerard:

Who is the rightful heir to the thrones of France, Russia, etc., is very important in Europe.

The son of the last Hapsburg Crown Prince had married the daughter of Thyssen-Bornemisza, who did come from Prole background but was one of Europe's wealthiest person and definitely TOOS, a true bon vivant.

The heir to the Prussian throne (hence German Empire) had his wedding (to a princessling) televised all over in Germany last year.

The heir to the Russian throne is a regular guest of Putin.

Inside the circle of people who do matter, such kind of stuff is very important.

At my NYC tier 2 law school, there were a few people who I believe were upper class. Private schools, lavish overnight camps or summers in the hamptons, lots of connections etc. But I don't think they were TOOS.

@Paul Kwon

Good points. It looks like the royalty of continental Europe are more top than I thought, although much, much, less out-of-sight. They sound a lot like B-list celebrities. They don't seem very much like this supposed hidden American aristocracy that Half Sigma is theorizing about.

In the UK, of course, the pinnacle of the traditional class system is the Queen and the royals. They aren't out of sight at all. Having your face on stamps and coins would preclude that, even if the tabloids would leave them alone for five minutes.

FWIW, Charlie Munger's daughter Molly Munger is a lawyer and civil rights "activist" who has a ballot measure before Californians to TAX TAX TAX income over ... $7,000!

Yes. Seven THOUSAND.

Most of these people inherited their money. They are uber-liberal. They HATE HATE HATE ordinary (White) people. Their primary desire is social climbing.

"Some of the men will seek out real money-making jobs in hedge funds or venture capital. You will never see a top out-of-sight person working as a dentist."


You mean they don't want to personally render services that meet the needs of another human being?

I am shocked. Shocked!

There are two branches to the heir of the French throne, one is a Spanish Bourbon, the other the Compte de Paris. It does matter a lot for the French royalists, prominant among the old aristocracy,top bourgoisie and/or traditionalist Catholics.

@Flico

There's the suggestion that the heir to the Bourbon throne is an Indian lawyer:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2007/mar/03/india.france

And there are Bonapartists, of course.

Friends of my parents might belong to this class. They recently retired, selling a $70 million shopping center. (This is possibly one reason they don't quite belong - they started with much less money than that, and spent their lives building it up.) They would fly scheduled flights, but fly first-class. They lived in a fashionable co-op in New York, then a penthouse condo in the Bay Area. They never had kids, though I don't know if that was by choice, or a biological problem. Later in their career when they owned apartment buildings, they paid managers better than run-of-the-mill Chinese landlords would.

I don't remember their literary tastes, but they were both interested in fine art and other aspects of high culture - they would regularly go to the symphony and opera, and were members of the prestige museum in town. She is from a shabby-genteel (and not *that* shabby) English background, he is from a merchant-minority background (not Jewish or Chinese), and speaks with a slightly posher English accent than she does, probably from having gone to a posher school than she did.

I don't know much about their politics, but they did move from California to Nevada when they decided to retire - Uncle Sam was going to get his 30%, but they saw no reason to part with another 10% to give to California.

They would socialize with my parents, and a couple of other co-ethnic friends, who were very much not TOOS (somewhere between Fussell's High Prole and UMC), and while it was a warm friendship, they would see each other only a few times a year.

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