I’ve Been Rich….

You know the two Jewish maxims. “I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor…rich is better” and “You can never be too rich or too skinny”. I think I agree with both. Now the question becomes rich in what?

Lately the rich are under attack. Big time. People even accuse me of being against the rich. Au contraire, mon ami. I love rich people and just hope they keep inviting me and Kathy places. I am not talking about pseudos. I want the crème de la crème. Actually the diatribes are somewhat absurd. I know some very nice well heeled people.

The Sunday NY Times had a fascinating article as to what it takes to be in the top 1%. I guess it really depends on where you are living. Stamford is a lot different than Abilene. Let’s just say there are a boatload of people that make a lot of money and let’s get over it. And let’s just say we would all love to be there. Why else would we buy LOTTO tickets?

Growing up, I guess we were well to do but I never felt particularly wealthy. On the North Shore of Long Island there were some seriously rich people. The Whitneys, Huttons, Phipps et al were quietly interspersed in Manhasset, Brookville Sands Point, and Lloyds Harbor.

I actually used to take tennis lessons at Alistair Martin’s (of Martin Marietta fame) estate. My teacher had a deal with him to use the indoor court that looked like mansion in its own right. I played one Sunday at Sherman Fairchild’s (of Fairchild Electronics) estate. On weekends, Shermy had a jazz combo playing in the living room for no other reason than he liked to listen to music. No big deal.

I think where this thing goes awry is how the elite handle it. Do you flaunt it or take it in stride. My dad and mom used to have the heads of the bond departments of Citibank, JP Morgan and Marine Midland over on a Saturday night. All brought their wives and my mother cooked. No it wasn’t fancy restaurants or high priced bottles of wine or limos. It’s just the way it was. Times have changed.

I think the internet and 24 hour news has a lot to do with it. That and I guess  the ones I will call the nouveaus. In today’s world people love to tell you how much this or that cost. How big their house is and how many they have. Forbes 100 Wealthiest. Old line rich wore their Izod shirts forever and faded. They had long driveways for the most part to shun publicity not to have people ooh and aah.

Beyonce just had a baby at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York. They had bullet proof glass installed in the maternity ward. No one could go out of their room while she was out of her’s. Are you friggin’ kidding me? Ellen Nordgren is tearing down a $17 million house in Jupiter because of termites. And will build an even bigger one will replace it. Maybe with a high wall to keep Tigers out.

Larry Ellison of Oracle has a 474 foot yacht which is only the second largest in the world. The Rising Sun has one distinction and an important one. It is larger than Microsoft Paul Allen’s. He is actually building a new one. And you thought size didn’t matter.

Now look, if you have tons of money I could care less. You earned it somehow and how you spend it is none of my business. But do you really get how this looks to the rest of the world? You say mind your own business. But I am here to tell you that unfortunately it’s in everyone’s craw today.

Years ago before the media and the incorporating of wealth, no one knew how wealthy people were. They just guessed. Now Wall Street is publicly held. Entertainment, the Internet, and biotech have created wunderkinds in both mind and salary. Subtlety and understated are not part of the vernacular today.

To the ultra rich I say, just get a little class. Understand that the world is not an easy place. It’s not so much empathy as it is brains. Or as I say, “Neat but not gaudy”. Enjoy it but don’t shove it down people’s throats. Larry Ellison actually made that new yacht smaller when he realized there were not “intimate” spaces on the old one. Whatever!

To the not so rich I say, get over it. They really don’t have to share a thing.They should to some degree but don’t bet on it. But there are also many ways to measure wealth and success. The grass looks greener but in many ways it is not all it is cranked up to be. There are a number of happy swells but then again there really are some things money can’t buy. Just ask them.

As always

Ted The Great

Factoids:

The largest private yacht in the world is 538 feet long and has 15 staterooms and a crew of 70. There are six onboard tenders and room for three helicopters.  It is owned by a Russian billionaire.

The largest private home under construction in the US is a 90,000 square foot cottage being built by Hollywood mogul David Segal in Windermere. Fl.

The highest paid exec in the land is McKesson’s John Hammergren who weighs in at $131 million last year. Jamie Dimon only came in 12th at $42 million. Piker

The highest paid athlete is still Tiger at $75 mill. Kobe and Lebron are around $50 million. $50 million is the equivalent of earning $500,000 for 100 years.

Why are they occupying Wall Street and not movie theaters, sports arenas, Oracle and Facebook?

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