Is Isolation Fueling the Rich-Poor Divide?

The other day I posted what I consider to be an elemental chart about income growth (or lack thereof) since the recovery began. Neil Irwin explained that the only people who’ve seen a recovery in wage growth were those who were already doing well anyway.

This has had a huge impact on the rich-poor divide that everyone’s been talking about these past few years. Here is another possible root cause behind the new dynamic, via Richard Kirshenbaum at the New York Observer:

“The new money prefers to live in splendid isolation.” Jonny Van der Klump, who hails from a Midwest fortune, swept the blonde lock off his forehead at the club his great grandfather helped found.

“In my great grandfather’s day great wealth was largely commodity and manufacturing based. Because the workers and the tasks were physical there was interaction. I remember when I went to the company Christmas parties as a child. I saw how many people my family was responsible for. I was taught to have a middle-class perspective, which is why I’m so frugal.”

“Is that different today?” I tickled my martini’s green olive with the swizzle stick.

“Great fortunes are being created through technology and finance and there is little or no contact with workers, customers. One isn’t held accountable for bad behavior. Many wealthy exist in a cossetted ether. They live protected lives in luxury and don’t have to come in contact with the average person, adding up to a sense of un-reality. The idea that the world exists for them and owes them what they want when they want it.”

“And your children?”

“They have good manners. It starts with how one treats the waitress.”

“Or bringing an ill-behaved child out of the restaurant.”

“Some parents have no control over the basics.”

“Did you feel entitled growing up?”

“I felt I had a responsibility to serve. Not to be served,” he said, thanking the waiter profusely.

Josh here – I think there may be something to that. The new routes to wealth are increasingly gated off from the crowds. They require very little interaction offline and away from a screen.



Need an Intern with a Strong Sense of Entitlement and Bad Manners? Hire a Rich Kid (New York Observer)

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