Monday, February 5, 2018


Five Ways to Keep Your Rich Friends at Ease

Sociological research reveals that both talking about and thinking about economic inequality makes the 1% feel uncomfortable. Indeed, even the numerical breakdown pointing to .01% of Americans owning more wealth than the bottom 90% is unpleasant, so avoid, I don’t know, all numbers, right off the bat.

Hey, no one is disputing accuracy here. But it feels… icky, when you are in that one-tenth of one percent of power and prestige. Friends don’t let friends drive themselves to self-reflection. Here’s how to keep the most comfortable cohort on the planet at ease, socially:

1. Beyond the stark numbers recording unequal division of wealth, also avoid mentioning that you know inequity exists. Or citing people who say so publicly: Bernie Sanders is off the table. 2008 Obama is okay, 2012 Barry not so much. Remember, mentioning inequality creates division. Living obliviously in an oligarchy fosters unity.

2. Remind them emphatically that other, richer people spend even more, and with less consideration. So by comparison, they are the picture of reason and frugality. Try this: “Remember, Cleopatra’s milk baths weren’t even organic. You think the tea the Romanovs steeped was Fair Trade? Let’s talk about Marie Antoinette: that cake she was imagining did not use whole grain. Certainly you deserve to buy organic raspberries out of season.”
Promise them an even more violent death in the ensuing uprising. I mean, a less violent one. (It can be hard to keep track of what we’re competing over, I admit.)

3. Congratulate them for not consuming conspicuously. Note: “You mean you didn’t book the $10,000-a-night suite in Italy? You are basically a Buddhist monk now.”

4. This is your mantra: It’s all relative. Don’t roll your eyes when you hear, “$20,000 a month sounds like a lot in expenses, but this is New York!” Take them at their word. CLICK HERE for a do-it-yourself lobotomy kit.

5. If you’ve been hired to cook the meals, redo the marble countertops, or care for the children of the affluent, know that you are a valuable contributor to the comfort of the wealthy.

But you introduce discomfort if you talk about your own life too much. Your mother’s medical expenses, your rent increases, your immigration paperwork: bum-mer. This starts sounding a lot like a Bernie Sanders tirade, you know? Do you have to remind them that different social strata exist, and like, other people who don’t have their access to capital and resources face limited options and different choices?

Of course your affluent employers know you can read. So be a dear and pretend you can’t see through the price tags on the Barney’s gowns that have been blotted out in Sharpie. It’s true that the price of that dress would have been enough to buy you just a little more time with your sister, it was a horrible choice but she begged you to pull the plug so you wouldn’t bankrupt your own children. You’re already bearing so much, so is it really that much more to ask to just pretend you can’t see all those zeroes in the price tag? Be a little more considerate.

--Laura Eppinger

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