Rarely do I come upon an article that is as eye opening as this one from Chrystia Freeland, in the Atlantic. Freeland has recently moved to global editor at large for Reuters but before that was U.S. managing editor of the Financial Times so has a diverse global background that is pretty rare among journalists. The gist of this article - The Rise of the New Global Elite - is to answer a form of question about the upper upper upper 0.1% I've seen posed in so many comments the past 3+ years: Don't they care about what is happening to the rest of the country? or How do they sleep at night? or similar. [Sep 7, 2009: Citigroup 2006 - America, a Modern Day Plutonomy] While I don't want to generalize and put a whole subset of people under one canopy, your questions are finally answered. Big picture - Lloyd the investment banker in the U.S. has far more in common with Sergey the Russian oligarch than he does with the 'common man' walking the streets of the States. As Friedman said, the world is flat and much of the 'global elite' is in a way 'nation less'. Another fascinating take away is many of the wealthy are not 'blue bloods' but first generation (not always 'self made' since government connections mean so much in other parts of the world), so their attitudes are completely different. Plus the amounts of money made now are so enormous, they have reached 'escape velocity' versus the orbit most others in any country on earth live in. I highly recommend the read.
A few snippets:
- F. Scott Fitzgerald was right when he declared the rich different from you and me. But today’s super-rich are also different from yesterday’s: more hardworking and meritocratic, but less connected to the nations that granted them opportunity—and the countrymen they are leaving ever further behind.
- Through my work as a business journalist, I’ve spent the better part of the past decade shadowing the new super-rich: attending the same exclusive conferences in Europe; conducting interviews over cappuccinos on Martha’s Vineyard or in Silicon Valley meeting rooms; observing high-powered dinner parties in Manhattan. Some of what I’ve learned is entirely predictable: the rich are, as F. Scott Fitzgerald famously noted, different from you and me.
- What is more relevant to our times, though, is that the rich of today are also different from the rich of yesterday. Our light-speed, globally connected economy has led to the rise of a new super-elite that consists, to a notable degree, of first- and second-generation wealth.
- Its members are hardworking, highly educated, jet-setting meritocrats who feel they are the deserving winners of a tough, worldwide economic competition—and many of them, as a result, have an ambivalent attitude toward those of us who didn’t succeed so spectacularly. Perhaps most noteworthy, they are becoming a transglobal community of peers who have more in common with one another than with their countrymen back home. Whether they maintain primary residences in New York or Hong Kong, Moscow or Mumbai, today’s super-rich are increasingly a nation unto themselves.
I've attached a video from Morning Joe which is the only discussion I could find on the topic in video format below. 7 minutes long.