stopped reading David Brooks' columns as a matter of course. (Indeed, I stopped reading all NYT op-ed columnists during the TimeSelect era, and have only resumed reading Kristof on anything like a regular basis.) But I agree with Noam; passages like this are why Brooks was put on this earth.
Now lifestyle standards for the privileged class are set by people who live in Ward Three.
For those who don’t know, Ward Three is a section of Northwest Washington, D.C., where many Democratic staffers, regulators, journalists, lawyers, Obama aides and senior civil servants live. Thanks to recent and coming bailouts and interventions, the people in Ward Three run the banks and many major industries. Through this power, they get to insert themselves into the intricacies of upscale life, influencing when private jets can be flown, when friends can lend each other their limousines and at what golf resorts corporate learning retreats can be held.
The good news for rich people is that people in this neighborhood are very nice and cerebral. On any given Saturday, half the people in Ward Three are arranging panel discussions for the other half to participate in. They live in modest homes with recently renovated kitchens and Nordic Track machines crammed into the kids’ play areas downstairs (for some reason, people in Ward Three are only interested in toning the muscles in the lower halves of their bodies).
Nonetheless, many people in Ward Three do have certain resentments toward those with means, which those of you in the decamillionaire-to-billionaire wealth brackets should be aware of.
In the first place, many people in Ward Three suffer from Sublimated Liquidity Rage. As lawyers, TV producers and senior civil servants, they make decent salaries, but 60 percent of their disposable income goes to private school tuition and study abroad trips. They have little left over to spend on themselves, which generates deep and unacknowledged self-pity.
Second, they suffer from what has been called Status-Income Disequilibrium. At work they are flattered and feared. But they still have to go home and clean out the gutters because they can’t afford full-time household help.
Third, they suffer the status rivalries endemic to the upper-middle class. As law school grads, they resent B-school grads. As Washingtonians, they resent New Yorkers. As policy wonks, they resent people with good bone structure.
In short, people in Ward Three disdain three things: cleavage, hunting and dumb people who are richer than they are.