God, won’t someone think of the rich people?

This current economic crisis is forcing millions of Americans to take extreme measures to save money, with many going without healthcare, giving up cars, relying on food banks to feed their children.  However, it’s also affecting a part of the population that often goes overlooked: the filthy rich.

A nose job in a hospital with a private nurse in attendance had been something of a rite of passage for Joan Asher’s children. But when her fourth and last child was ready for her own rhinoplasty recently, Ms. Asher asked her to postpone it.

The financial markets were simply more out of whack than her 16-year-old’s proboscis.

“The other noses were more prominent,” the stay-at-home mother from a tony New York City suburb in Westchester County told her 16-year-old daughter. She could get hers done when things settled down.

I know, I had to double check to make sure I wasn’t actually reading an article from The Onion too, followed by turning around and expecting to see Ashton Kutcher standing behind me.  “Dude, you’ve been punk’d!” The article goes on to recount the many sacrifices other extraordinarily rich people have been making to save a few pennies, including considering backing out of a deal to buy a $25 million yacht, getting Botox instead of a facelift, trying to find a nanny who will work for almost half the standard pay rate, and serving Wagyu beef instead of caviar and truffles at parties.  I, as old vaudevillian comedians like to say, kid you not.

Ostensibly an attempt at showing how people from all walks of life, not just the poor and working class, are feeling the money crunch, the article is also rather inconsistent.  None of the parties interviewed are actually doing without, but merely spending slightly less money on things that 90% of the rest of the world do without anyway.  Mrs. Asher, for instance, was still able to get her daughter the traditional family nose job, saving on expenses by foregoing the private nurse.  Serving beef instead of caviar and truffles at a party doesn’t actually save any money at all, according to event planner Bronson Van Wyck, it merely looks “less overt,” which I guess is a polite way of saying “it makes you look like less of an insulated scumbag.”

Like the article posted on Monday in which a reporter sympathizes with a man who kicked a cat to death, I read stuff like this and I think that it’s some sort of attempt at wry satire, reflecting America’s ceaseless fascination with ostentatious, blissfully unself-aware rich people so that it becomes something ugly and hateful.  Then I realize, no, it’s The Wall Street Journal, a publication that has yet to show any evidence of a sense of humor, apparently the article was meant to be taken seriously.  Being forced to cut a jewelry buying budget from $50,000 to $25,000 (and mind you, the median household income for over a quarter of the country’s population is equal to or under $25,000) is considered as problematic as not having the funds to pay heating costs this coming winter.

It’s because of this article, and The New York Times‘ ‘Style’ section, which should really be renamed ‘This Week in Wealthy White People,’ that New York City is unable to shake its negative reputation.  No, not the reputation that makes people think you’ll get shot to death if you step more than one block away from Times Square, it’s pretty much shaken that.  I’m talking about the other reputation, that while New York City is attached to the rest of the United States, it’s really not a part of it.  It exists on its own separate little plane, with inhabitants that know nothing about “the real world.”  I can’t really say that reputation is unfairly earned.  While the majority of New Yorkers are hard-working individuals, many of them struggling to keep their bills paid and their families fed, there really are quite a few people who wouldn’t know financial hardship if it reared up and beat them over the head with a Louis Vuitton handbag.  These are people who think you had a deprived childhood if you didn’t go to Paris.  They plus the equally rich tourists who happily spend upwards of $110 a pop for tickets to a Broadway show that’s been out for nearly ten years, yet cringe in horror at the thought of coughing up a buck for a homeless person, are the reason why New York City sometimes seems as distant and foreign a land as Mars.  Go anywhere outside the Upper East Side and you’ll see that it isn’t actually an accurate portrayal.  You may have to spend Christmas at home instead of St. Bart’s this year? How tragic, my heart pumps purple piss for you.  These people shouldn’t be ashamed as New Yorkers, they should be ashamed as human beings.


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