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Money to Burn

Thursday, February 19, 2015 By Sam Pizzigati, OtherWords | Op-Ed
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While millions can't even afford to feed their kids, the super rich are hiring a Swiss company to name theirs.

Someday soon, will all our jobs involve keeping extraordinarily rich people entertained?

These days, that prospect doesn’t seem all that far-fetched.

“The rich,” as journalist Chanelle Tourish notes, “seem to be willing to pay almost any price for outstanding service and experiences.”

And plenty of people are rushing to provide them. Tourish, a reporter who watches wealth in the Middle East luxury hub of Dubai, recently gave us a peek at how inventive today’s serve-the-rich set can be.

In Dubai this month, for instance, one gilded hotel is bouncing guests — by helicopter — from one local restaurant to another for an evening of fine and flying dining. Just $5,000 per couple.

Some super rich don’t particularly enjoy going out on the town. These homebodies can now bring the town — or at least the world’s top celebrity chefs — into their own homes. For the right price, agencies in the United States and the UK will arrange for the world’s top cooking superstars to cater your next dinner party.

The right price? That can run up to $65,000 per meal.

But food only takes you so far. You need music, too, to pull off a memorable soirée. Not a problem if you have the bucks. Lots of bucks. Talent agencies no longer just book their clients into arenas and nightclubs. They book their talent into mansions, too.

Want a stud like Ed Sheeran singing at your personal shindig? Count on paying somewhere between $300,000 and $500,000 for the privilege.

Or you can go in a slightly more ambitious direction. You can book a superstar for your own private party and then reserve an entire nightclub as your party site. One club in Dubai even offers a valet service for helicopters. Match that, Manhattan!

A really rich life, of course, must have more than parties. Today’s ultra rich have a serious side, too. They like to reflect on the lives they’re leading — and make sure the rest of us realize just how diligently they’ve been reflecting. A company called My Special Book can help here. The expert staff at this global service will actually write your autobiography for you.

This book-birthing process typically takes six to ten months — for just around $150,000.

And if you’d rather birth a kid than a book, the serve-the-rich crowd has another innovative little service for you. A Swiss company, Erfolgswelle, will happily research a unique name for your new addition to humankind. This name comes guaranteed not to belong to anyone else on Earth. Expect to pay north of $30,000 for your one-of-a-kind moniker.

How many people can afford services like these? Researchers at Wealth-X and Sotheby’s International Realty have just counted up 211,275 people worldwide with personal fortunes over $30 million.

These “ultra high net worth individuals” — the financial industry’s polite label for the filthy rich — typically hold about 30 percent of their net worth in houses, yachts, and other fixed property assets. That leaves a lot of liquid assets sloshing around in their portfolios for renting divas and figuring out what to name their kids.

Do these ultras, we wonder, ever stop to think about the millions of people on our planet who can’t even afford to adequately feed their kids?

Probably not too often. Fortunately, we have other people on our planet who do think about this stark contrast between the super rich and everybody else — like the folks at the global charity Oxfam.

These good people have launched an international Even It Up campaign that’s seeking — through vehicles like taxes on financial speculation and wealth — to put some of those dollars now spent on helicopter joy rides to some more productive uses.

More productive uses, I suspect, won’t be especially hard to find.

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license. It may not be reproduced in any form without permission or license from the source.

Sam Pizzigati

Institute for Policy Studies Associate Fellow Sam Pizzigati co-edits Inequality.org. His most recent book is The Rich Don't Always Win: The Forgotten Triumph over Plutocracy that Created the American Middle Class, 1900-1970.

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Money to Burn

Thursday, February 19, 2015 By Sam Pizzigati, OtherWords | Op-Ed
  • font size decrease font size decrease font size increase font size increase font size
  • Print

While millions can't even afford to feed their kids, the super rich are hiring a Swiss company to name theirs.

Someday soon, will all our jobs involve keeping extraordinarily rich people entertained?

These days, that prospect doesn’t seem all that far-fetched.

“The rich,” as journalist Chanelle Tourish notes, “seem to be willing to pay almost any price for outstanding service and experiences.”

And plenty of people are rushing to provide them. Tourish, a reporter who watches wealth in the Middle East luxury hub of Dubai, recently gave us a peek at how inventive today’s serve-the-rich set can be.

In Dubai this month, for instance, one gilded hotel is bouncing guests — by helicopter — from one local restaurant to another for an evening of fine and flying dining. Just $5,000 per couple.

Some super rich don’t particularly enjoy going out on the town. These homebodies can now bring the town — or at least the world’s top celebrity chefs — into their own homes. For the right price, agencies in the United States and the UK will arrange for the world’s top cooking superstars to cater your next dinner party.

The right price? That can run up to $65,000 per meal.

But food only takes you so far. You need music, too, to pull off a memorable soirée. Not a problem if you have the bucks. Lots of bucks. Talent agencies no longer just book their clients into arenas and nightclubs. They book their talent into mansions, too.

Want a stud like Ed Sheeran singing at your personal shindig? Count on paying somewhere between $300,000 and $500,000 for the privilege.

Or you can go in a slightly more ambitious direction. You can book a superstar for your own private party and then reserve an entire nightclub as your party site. One club in Dubai even offers a valet service for helicopters. Match that, Manhattan!

A really rich life, of course, must have more than parties. Today’s ultra rich have a serious side, too. They like to reflect on the lives they’re leading — and make sure the rest of us realize just how diligently they’ve been reflecting. A company called My Special Book can help here. The expert staff at this global service will actually write your autobiography for you.

This book-birthing process typically takes six to ten months — for just around $150,000.

And if you’d rather birth a kid than a book, the serve-the-rich crowd has another innovative little service for you. A Swiss company, Erfolgswelle, will happily research a unique name for your new addition to humankind. This name comes guaranteed not to belong to anyone else on Earth. Expect to pay north of $30,000 for your one-of-a-kind moniker.

How many people can afford services like these? Researchers at Wealth-X and Sotheby’s International Realty have just counted up 211,275 people worldwide with personal fortunes over $30 million.

These “ultra high net worth individuals” — the financial industry’s polite label for the filthy rich — typically hold about 30 percent of their net worth in houses, yachts, and other fixed property assets. That leaves a lot of liquid assets sloshing around in their portfolios for renting divas and figuring out what to name their kids.

Do these ultras, we wonder, ever stop to think about the millions of people on our planet who can’t even afford to adequately feed their kids?

Probably not too often. Fortunately, we have other people on our planet who do think about this stark contrast between the super rich and everybody else — like the folks at the global charity Oxfam.

These good people have launched an international Even It Up campaign that’s seeking — through vehicles like taxes on financial speculation and wealth — to put some of those dollars now spent on helicopter joy rides to some more productive uses.

More productive uses, I suspect, won’t be especially hard to find.

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license. It may not be reproduced in any form without permission or license from the source.

Sam Pizzigati

Institute for Policy Studies Associate Fellow Sam Pizzigati co-edits Inequality.org. His most recent book is The Rich Don't Always Win: The Forgotten Triumph over Plutocracy that Created the American Middle Class, 1900-1970.