art auction

A Burden of Wealth

Jen Sorensen notes:

Detail of cartoon by Jen Sorensen, 18 November 2014, via Daily Kos Comics.Now, it seems to me that other factors may be coming into play here. For example, when 1% of the world’s population holds as much wealth as the bottom half, you’re going to see some pressure on those Picasso price points. It’s a clash of the titans — titans with near-infinite resources to spend impressing each other to death!

When you see the price of luxury homes as a more reliable indicator of inflation than the price of milk or gas — or government data showing that inflation is under control — it says more about your limited, paranoid perspective than anything else.

Which, in turn, reminds me of something Emma Goldman wrote a century ago:

For surely it is not the rich who contribute to patriotism. They are cosmopolitans, perfectly at home in every land. We in America know well the truth of this. Are not our rich Americans Frenchmen in France, Germans in Germany, or Englishmen in England? And do they not squandor with cosmopolitan grace fortunes coined by American factory children and cotton slaves? Yes, theirs is the patriotism that will make it possible to send messages of condolence to a despot like the Russian Tsar, when any mishap befalls him, as President Roosevelt did in the name of his people, when Sergius was punished by the Russian revolutionists.

What else are we supposed to think when rich Americans complain about the burdens of shopping for real estate in London?

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Sorensen, Jen. “Life in the billionaire bubble”. Daily Kos. 18 November 2014.

Goldman, Emma. “Patriotism: A Menace to Liberty”. Anarchy and Other Essays. Second Revised Edition. New York & London: Mother Earth Publishing Association, 1911.