Where The Elite Meet

Ed Raymond

A reader’s pilot husband thought I would be interested in looking at a magazine that is often given away to private jet owners at airports. This is a magazine-catalog strictly for One Percenters who have everything but want “more.” No wonder the One Percenters have squirreled away up to $32 trillion in offshore banks. The psychopaths don’t have enough $100 million homes or $400,000 watches yet. The “Elite Traveler: The Private Jet Lifestyle Magazine” can be purchased for about $15 a copy. It is an eye-opener about wealth for a simple country boy like me. This issue is the annual “Top 101 Suites” the magazine publishes at the end of the summer.
   According to a September 12th Census Bureau report, the middle class continues to slide into the poverty class from a peak of $54,932 household income in 1999 to a household income of $50,054 in 2011 when adjusted for inflation. The top 5 percent who make $186,000 or more continue to get richer at more that 5 percent per year. The world’s billionaires continue to add several hundred million dollars to their kitty each year.
   And the rich-poor gap continues to grow without restraint. The earth’s richest 1,000 families now have as much wealth as the poorest 2.5 billion people (about 40 percent of the total population). The elite uses its growing wealth in the United States to control the government, media, and the judiciary, the very people who are supposed to protect the poor from the rape of the rich. The best Congress that money can buy now has enriched itself so that 47 percent of the members of the House of Representative are millionaires, exceeded by the Senate where 67 percent are also millionaires. Congress members increased their wealth 11 percent in 2009-2011 while their middle-class “constituents” (that’s a laugh) lost money. The U.S. Supreme Court in an infamous decision has determined that money equals free speech. In these days of the Citizens United debacle, money not only buys speech prepared by the One Percent, it dictates what “speech” will be released to the Ninety-Nine Percent who listen, view, and read corporate radio, TV, and newspapers.

How To Buy Legislators,
Legislatures, And Laws

   I am fully in favor of the decision made by athletic director Gene Taylor and coach Craig Bohl not to suspend the NDSU football players caught up in the petition schemes of political groups. If you want something passed in the legislature, get volunteers who will collect signatures and submit petitions to the legislature. I am in favor of legislation banning any payments of funds for collecting signatures for petitions to be presented to any level of government. My decision has nothing to do with football. I think the players have already learned a public lesson with the threat of a felony hanging over their heads broadcasted on every available outlet, complete with individual pictures of the “guilty.” I think paying people to collect signatures is a violation of democratic principles. Free speech should be free. Why have billionaires buy all the words in a TV or radio area? I am opposed to a billionaire coming into North Dakota or Minnesota and hiring 5,000 people at $50 an hour to collect signatures to get the billionaire’s legislative agenda on the docket. What is a good verb or adjective or preposition or noun worth? $2? $10? $1,000? $1,000,000? Anyone who “buys” speech should face jail time.
   The Koch brothers under the direction of Karl Rove’s American Crossroads have said they might spend $400 million to defeat Obama and the Democrats in 2012. Billionaire casino operator Sheldon Adelson has promised to spend over $100 million buying speech around the country to ensure a Romney win. Money in politics has created a dominating tower of Swift Boat political babble constructed of Karl Rove’s American Crossroads GPS lies, Chamber of Commerce innuendo, Fox News bigoted nonsense, and “facts” that immediately collapse when probed by fact-checkers.

Half Of Americans
Die With Less Than
$10,000 In Assets

   A recent Harvard-MIT economic study has revealed that 46 percent of senior citizens in the United States die with virtually no assets. They have relied on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid as their safety nets. Funerals averaging about $10,000 take the last penny of many seniors.
   The huge gap between the rich and poor increases the violence and homicide rates in the U.S., according to another Harvard study. A World Bank study confirms these results on a worldwide basis. Factors such as unemployment, poverty, alcohol consumption, and education have little or no effect on homicide rates, while income inequality has the greatest influence.
  Wall Street greed0—punctuated by the sale of financial crap such as bizarre mortgages, derivatives, credit default swaps, and other casino junk—blew away $6 trillion of equity in the housing bubble. This left 13 million middle- and lower-class Americans owing $660 billion more on their mortgages than their homes are worth. This is what happens when a bankster can sell a lousy mortgage out his back door within five seconds of when he approved it. Why didn’t Canada have a housing bubble? Canadian bankers who loaned money to home buyers have to keep that mortgage in their portfolio until it is paid off. The banker owns it. That’s the way business should be done. U.S. banksters are not in the mortgage business, they are in the casino business.
   Federal Reserve studies indicate the American middle class lost 40 percent of its net worth between 2007 and 2010 to a total of $77,000. Thank you, George Bush. For ages 55 to 64, net worth declined to $179,000 just before retirement years. Instead of reliable pensions, which business has destroyed, Wall Street 401Ks became 201Ks in about 14 months. The typical middle-class worker between 55 and 64 had only $54,000 in his retirement account by 2010. That’s not living in a nice home built for two, that’s living in an old van around the tracks.

Protecting The Rich
Is Big Business—There
Are So Many Of Them

   Fear of robberies, burglaries, kidnapping, and murder for money is creating a lot of jobs in this country. Millionaires and billionaires must hire enough security these days to protect themselves 24/7. World War III between the rich and the poor has started, so the gated compounds have to be armed and ready.
  Shelters and safe rooms are big items these days, running from $50,000 to many millions. Most are bomb shelters that can protect the wealthy from nuclear, biological, chemical, and electromagnetic pulse attacks. Usually deep underground, they must contain months of food and water supplies, air purification systems, and bullet- and bomb-proof walls and doors. The Wall Street bailouts and bonuses have created hostility between the rich and the poor throughout the world. It is again “pitchfork time,” as the French poor yelled in 1798 before the Bastille.
   The rich are installing CIA-type fingerprint readers on all of their exterior doors for up to $2,000 a door. Virtual estate fences supported by sensor cables that can alert closed-caption TV cameras run in the neighborhood of $100,000. Thermal imagers are being installed to detect listening devices and other electronic equipment in homes and offices. Excellent units run about $30,000. Family members and pets can have tracker bugs embedded under their skin so that family members can be tracked in case of ransom demands. They run about $400 a bug. The rich now need personal Pentagons.
   A hot new item for the yacht crowd is the long-range acoustic hailing device, which broadcasts deterrent tones and multi-language voice commands in case your yacht is surrounded by pirates or other despicable characters. Such systems run from $20,000 to $40,000.

Empathy Is Not
Exactly A Hallmark
Of The Wealthy

  A study by the Chronicle of Philanthropy indicates that in wealthy gated communities, those making $200,000 or more donate only 2.8 percent of their discretionary income to charity, while households making $50,000-$75,000 donate an average of 7.6 percent. Those making $100,000 donate an average of 4.2 percent. These statistics should interest a number of shrinks. In fact, the wealthy have seen so much of this romantic world, they are now buying slum tours in record numbers of India and Brazil. They view the poor in Mumbai, for example, where there is one toilet for 3,000 people on average. The One Percenters ride in air-conditioned buses and stay in five-star hotels where a bottle of champagne sells for the equivalent of two years’ salary for most Indians. I wonder if they say, “Let them eat curry.”

How The One
Percenters Live

   The Hamptons in New York is probably the most exclusive area in the United States, boasting many $100 million estates. The largest and the most expensive private residence is Fair Field, Ira Rennert’s $200 million estate with 110,000 square feet of indoor living space. The estate has three swimming pools, two libraries, a bowling alley, a playhouse containing a basketball court and full gym, a full 164-seat theater, its own power plant, and a garage that will park 100 cars. The main house has 29 bedrooms, 39 bathrooms, and 12 chimneys. The major complaint from the One Percent about living in the Hamptons? Too many noisy helicopters (162 of them!)flying overhead between New York City and the Hamptons! Oh, the pity of it! Rennert owns two special order 19-passenger Sikorsky S-92s that have twin 2,250-hp. engines that fly his guests between airports, Manhattan, and the Hamptons. He is a private equity guy like Mitt Romney who has made billions off the Iraq and Afghanistan wars selling Humvees at inflated prices to the Pentagon. His business career, to say the least, is “interesting”!

   Want to throw a party for your friends? According to Elite Magazine, you can rent the entire 392-room Mandarin Oriental Hotel for a weekend in Vegas for $1 million, including a $500 gift certificate to Crystals luxury mall for each one of your guests. It’s advertised as a Sin City dream getaway.
   One Percenters love the Miraval Resort & Spa in Tucson, which specializes in the “Naga,” a massage where the therapist hangs from the ceiling on silk ropes. OK, OK. This one I’ve got to see.
   Elite advertises the Maharajas Express in India, a 23-car luxury train available for eight- day trips for you and your 88 guests. Price negotiable.
   The rich seem caught up in expensive watches. Page after page of watches are advertised in Elite, from $10,000 to $500,000. I suppose that’s because they are visible on the wrist. The Swiss watchmaker IWC has a Manhattan boutique of several rooms dedicated to the sale of watches. You can pick up a Portuguese Perpetual Calendar watch for $37,100 in red gold, or $41,100 in white gold. At auction, a Concept Watch #3 went for $410,000. It has a case that can be switched easily to show the back!
   Want a camera to record your every One Percent moment? A Leica M-9 Edition Hermes is available with a calfskin leather case for $50,000. Want a terrific “body splash”? Tom Ford sells 236 ml. of splash for $125.
   You can look like a legit One Percenter if you buy a suit and accessories at Burberry in New York City: suit jacket, $1,285; skinny pants (!), $550; sunglasses, $1,105; silk tie, $220; wool pocket square, $140; umbrella, $850; leather portfolio to carry around town, $3,195.
   Yes, the rich are different. They have more money. Larry Ellison just bought a 141-square-mile Hawaiian island for his personal use. Bill Gates wanted the island, too, because he was married there. Ellison bought it for an undisclosed price. Is this transaction vulture capitalism or psychopathic capitalism?