“Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me.”
— F. Scott Fitzgerald, “The Rich Boy,” 1926
“Yes, they have more money.’’
— Ernest Hemingway, “The Snows of Kilimanjaro,” 1936
Besides having more money, the very rich apparently have a deeply felt need to get away from the rest of us. First it was gated communities. Now, moats.
The Los Angeles Times reports that the latest must-have amenity for the most expensive homes in La-La Land is a moat. J-Lo (Jennifer Lopez) owned a Bel-Air house with a moat. Tom Brady, the New England Patriots’ quarterback, and his super-model wife Giselle Bundchen have a moat disguised as a stream around their Brentwood mansion.
Developers, architects and interior designers keep trying to come up with something unique to attract the super-rich, the Times reports.
Kenneth Bordewick, the chief executive of Beverly Hills Luxury Interiors, “has created such distinct spaces as a $17 million hand-carved bathroom and a poker room complete with a jewel-inlaid table.”
You just can’t have too much of a good thing, even wretched excess.
Yet we pause to say a word in defense of the super rich. When they spend their money lavishly it spreads the wealth quickly in a trickle-down (or in the case of moats, trickle-around) fashion. But that’s not their only contribution to society. They are not taking our jobs, they are not contributing to the unemployment problem, and they are not costing the public anything. Indeed, their taxes make a lot of public services possible.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, individuals in the highest tax bracket (which includes the super-rich as well as highly paid professionals) paid 69 percent of all federal individual income taxes in 2010.
Given that about half of all Americans receive government benefits of one kind or another, that certainly does make the rich different from many of us.
Emphasizing that difference is a sales strategy for those who cater to the housing needs of the super rich. According to the Times, high end houses in Southern California also sport such features as showcase wine cellars, leather lined closets, walk-in safes with display cases for the owner’s jewels and botox stations.
Oh, by the way, will the last one home pull up the drawbridge?