Almost every day I read some story by someone complaining about the huge income disparity between the mega-rich and the ordinary citizen. Usually the complaint isn’t about the person who has worked and succeeded and is worth a few million. The concern is about the people who have stumbled into a few billion. It is hard to deny that these kinds of disparities create a feeling that society is spinning out of control.
However, as often as we worry about this stuff, I can’t help feeling that we are worrying about the wrong things. You don’t have to look very hard to find that a lot of the super-rich are pretty darn unhappy. They wind up getting trapped by their wealth. They have huge houses, lots of cars and maybe a few yachts. But all this stuff does is wall them in. They become isolated from the real world, trade relationships like stocks, can’t trust anyone to actually like them, and become physically and emotionally stunted.
They need a retinue to go to the movies or a restaurant, wear disguises to hide from the press, and need security contingents to protect them from their fellow citizens.
There is something to be said for climbing a mountain rather than taking a helicopter to get to the top. The view of the world through binoculars is less impressive when you don’t really know what you’re looking at.
There are too many examples to list of celebrities and super-rich who die alone and unhappy. Many never really had a relationship with their children and spent most of their married lives showing off trophy wives in museums that posed as houses.
I say, let’s work to create an economy where everyone who is willing to work at it, will be able to provide well for themselves and their families. But it is pointless to worry about the super-rich. They are stuck in their misery and there is not much we can do about it. Most of them probably need a roadmap to find the bathroom in their forty-two room houses and haven’t had a sit-down meal with their family in twenty years. They are lucky they have servants who love them.
I wrote Master of the Universe (In the Cat’s Eye, 2009) to focus on the lives of the “rich and famous”. How many of you would like to swap with this guy?
Glenn K. Currie
Master of the Universe
He lay on the large bed
Surrounded by pillows.
A ceiling fan circled above,
Scattering the stale air.
A shaft of sunlight exposed dust, dancing.
He could hear doctors and lawyers
Whispering in the next room,
While reporters hung by the gate
Waiting for a story.
Gardenias sent by his third wife,
Wilted in an expensive vase
In the kitchen, servants gathered,
Talking about the future.
Happy not to be him.