I was reading an article about how the “upper crust” lives, recently. The report concerned a training school for domestic staff who were destined to serve the super rich. (“You Rang?” by John P. Davidson, Harper’s, Jan. 2014 pgs. 41-56) What caught my eye was the reason behind the pressing need for trained employees.
On average, a meal for a family of four takes two hours of preparation and cleanup. To run one load of laundry and then dry, fold and put away the clothes takes one and three-quarter hours. Ironing a man’s shirt is fifteen minutes. Car transportation for a family of four equals sixty hours per week. Each formal dinner equals twelve hours. Every acre of landscaped gardens equals six and three-quarters hours. (Ibid pg. 49)
No one with a family would quarrel with these figures but multiply them 4 or 5 times for the average number of homes owned by the super rich, and you get a sense of what drives the job market.
The school’s founder, Mrs. Starsky, presented her students early on with a motto she hoped would guide them: “You don’t get rich by being nice.” (Ibid, pg. 55) The sentiment seemed to rankle one student. He asked why the rich should feel entitled to bad manners and numerous homes. His teacher replied, “If you thought you were changing the world, you’d be the same.” (Ibid pg. 49)
Of course, a person might ask whether the change affected was for better or worse. Concentrating wealth in the hands of a few widens the economic gap between the super rich and the rest of the population, for example. Today, the “top 1 percent of families in the U.S. have a net worth 288 times that of the average family.” (“Economic Inequality,” The Week, Dec. 20, 2013, pg. 4) That means these 5% control 72% of the nation’s wealth. (Ibid, pg. 4) A surfeit of money gives the super rich a good deal of influence not only in our daily lives but in our politics where money seeks to control the message.
When the nation’s assets reside in the hands of a few, the American Dream of equal opportunity dies and instability takes it place. People who feel entitled to several households while folks working full time are reduced to food stamps should review history. There they will see where prolonged imbalance leads. No one is “entitled.” And those who think they are will not prosper.
(Courtesy of thecomingdepression.blogspot.com)