Rich People, Poor People

“If you’re really rich, you can buy your doctors,” she says. “Mike Ovitz famously bought a couple of cardiac surgeons.”

“You don’t have anything like that, do you?” I say.

“No, of course not,” says Ellen.

Thank God, I think. Becoming aware of what’s just out of your reach can be disconcerting. It’s comforting to know that having my own doctors would be massively out of my reach.

“But I know a guy who knows a guy,” says Ellen. “I’m at a level where I don’t have to suffer. I’ve been sick. I had cancer. If you have money, you call the guy who knows the guy who’s the head of the department. The truth is, rich people with cancer versus everyone else with cancer? Longer life! And I didn’t think about bills at all! I have a bill? I throw it in the box. And that box goes to my business manager. This is a key item if you have money. You don’t look at the bills. When I got money, I vowed, ‘Never again will I suffer the small stuff.’ To me paying a bill is the small stuff. ‘I don’t care how the fuck it happens; someone pay that fucking thing!’ It’s a good feeling.”

GQ correspondent Jon Ronson interviewed five people from different income levels, ranging from a dishwasher living off $200 a week to a billionaire living off $625,000 a week, and the vignettes he provides of these people’s lives are fascinating. The dishwasher living off $200 a week in Miami, and the couple living off $900 a week in Des Moines live similar lives in that they both leave their homes to go only to work or church because they can’t afford to do much else (though the couple can afford to live in a nicer and safer neighborhood). The wealthy people in Ronson’s story mostly worry about being considered “an enemy of the state,” or receiving letters from people they know begging for money. To Ronson’s credit, he also puts himself into the story by revealing that he earns $250,000 a year (he’s a successful author), but worries about paying his taxes and bills like everyone else. Well, relatively.


3 Comments / Post A Comment

I dunno, what always gets me in these stories is not the Waynes, but the Frantzss and Pallwitzs. Why aren’t THEY madder? There are far more of them (us) than there are Waynes, after all…

Spinach Party (#253)

@stuffisthings I suppose the amount of energy expended in anger and frustration would take away from the energy needed to just deal with the day to day and enjoy life. Frustration and anger can be so crippling, especially when it also feels utterly useless to your situation. It seems like they’ve passed that phase and have moved onto resignation?

Marzipan (#1,194)

@stuffisthings I think my favorite thing about this article was how he pointed out that poor people don’t resent the rich, and yet the rich guy resent poor people. Ironic! All republicans (I didn’t want to say rich people, because plenty of not-so-well-off republicans have ranted about people on welfare, abusing the system, etc) share this view: that poor people are busily scamming and gaming the system, they are lazy, are weak, eating and living well our our largesse and getting sick with impunity.

I think it’s the greatest trick capitalism every played, to convince people to resent, say, some poor bus driver who gets spit on and has a nervous breakdown, and make people think that helping a person like that somehow hurts them.

That rich guy would give to children’s cancer charities – one of the most bland, blameless things you can give too. Just, that, clearly, he would only bring himself to donate to things that he can’t find any way to blame that person for bringing on themselves, so of course he wouldn’t fund, say, drug rehab, or helping homeless people or even rape victims, I bet. Even if he agreed that any of those people deserved help, or even something equally inoffensive but less heroic, like building roads, he wouldn’t spend his money there.

Ugh, I hate when people think they should decide where to spend their money, because they sure know better than the government, which is just 100% waste and corruption! No, it’s not, No, you don’t, asshole, and even if you did, which, again, you don’t, you still wouldn’t spend it there.

(clearly I still have some issues re: that summer I spent listening to republicans at work complain)

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