Times Are Tough For Billionaires

The poor super-rich. While America's richest 1% still rule the country, controlling more wealth than the entire bottom 90%, it's become much harder for them to prove how wealthy they are through ostentatious consumption. Because everyone in America owns two homes and a yacht now, haven't you heard? George Will has, and his column -- filed directly from the Bizarro Planet -- urges you, the little guy, to take pity on the plutocracy.

But it is increasingly expensive to be rich. The Forbes CLEW index (the Cost of Living Extremely Well) -- yes, there is such a thing -- has been rising much faster than the banal CPI (consumer price index). At the end of 2006, there were 9.5 million millionaires worldwide, which helps explain the boom in the "bling indexes" -- stocks such as Christian Dior and Richemont (Cartier and Chloe, among other brands), which are up 247 percent and 337 percent respectively since 2002, according to Fortune magazine. Citicorp's "plutonomy basket" of stocks (Sotheby's, Bulgari, Hermes, etc.) has generated an annualized return of 17.8 percent since 1985.

The rest of the column also reads like it was written by evil alternate universe Paul Krugman, with requisite Van Dyke. It's kinda enjoyable though! We'd rather read George Will babbling about how the proles all have Louis Vuitton than listen to him croon "Mein Herr."

On the other than, though, it wasn't so ago that all the wealthy conservatives were so self-evidently happier than the stupid liberals. This unparalleled prosperity (for the richest 1%) has been tough on us all.

A Lexus in Every Garage [WP]


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