We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lapp√©, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Saturday, March 28, 2015

New York: Conspicuous Construction

Click here to access article by Martin Filler from The New York Review of Books.

This is another contribution to my occasional practice on Saturdays to run articles about lifestyles of the rich ruling classes also known as the One Percent (actually .01 of the 1%, or one out of every 10,000 of us) who, under the rules of capitalism, essentially "own" the economy in which we work--in effect, we all work for them to support their lifestyle. I hope that by doing this that we don't lose touch with their world and their concerns--you know, to promote better understanding. It is important that we become better acquainted so that we can serve them better and make it easier for them to carry out the daily burden of making important decisions, decisions which affect whether we go off to war in foreign lands to kill their enemies, if we have jobs, if we live in a home or under a bridge, if we can afford their health care services, education, etc.

Unfortunately, for some reason they tend to hide their lives from the rest of us behind walls of secrecy, literal walls of guarded gated communities, private clubs, esoteric publications, by traveling with private jets, etc. We should not let that deter us. 

I've often wondered how the rich, who are constantly getting richer, spend all the money they have. I think it would be a challenge for me to spend more than a million dollars a year. I imagine I could exceed this by buying my own jet, buying homes in various parts of the globe, buying a super-yacht, and hiring all kinds of people to attend to my every need (including dressing myself). But then how does a billionaire (a thousand million dollars) spend all their money? That I can't comprehend.

In this piece Martin Filler focuses mostly on how the world's super-rich are buying up luxury condos worth $5 million dollars or more in high-rises towering above Central Park and other areas in New York City. It seems that in contrast to the construction of esthetic high rises built for new the American rich of the first half of the 20th century, these rich from all corners of the world simply want to park their money in a secure place and away from the clutches of the world's poor. What place could be more secure than in the capitol of the capitalist world?
Today, more New York real estate than ever is held by absentee owners, and in at least five large Manhattan condominiums most units are not primary residences. Although many such pieds-à-terre are doubtless used by Americans, they are most attractive to foreign nationals eager to secure a foothold in the US in the event of trouble in their homelands. International capital flight has thus been the decisive impetus in this booming sector of the New York property market, as people from all over the world seek a politically stable and financially secure haven for themselves and their assets.
However, we learn from this source that the US's favorite Arab oil monarchs in Middle East are not only buying property in New York, they are apparently buying expensive homes for their many wives all over the world.