Lifestyles of the Rich and Divorced

In the 80s, there was a show called “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.” Hosted by the toad-like Robin Leach, viewers got an inside look at movie stars and athletes. The rich people showed off their mansions and fancy cars, portraying lives filled with ease and buttery leather seat covers. He often ended the show dancing a yacht with a glass of bubbly and wishing viewers “champagne wishes and caviar dreams.”

Today, we don’t need televisions shows to get a glimpse at extreme wealth. The rich post pictures of themselves on private jets and in Paris apartments on Instagram. And we have divorce proceedings to give us exact figures about how much money it takes to maintain those their frizz-free hair and to mind their children.

We’ll soon have the download on the Bezos who are getting divorced. And there are similarly rich couples, like Mugrabi’s, who aren’t necessarily household names, but are making headlines for their divorce proceedings.

$800 bottles of wine, multiple homes filled with Warhols and Koons’s, vacations to St. Bart’s was just an average day in the Mugrabi’s home.

Ms. Mugrabi’s expensive tastes have emerged as a central issue in the divorce. She scoffed at tabloid reports that she is scraping by on $25,000 a month in support payments. The actual amount, she said, is $200,000 a month, though that is less than the $3 million a year that she was accustomed to spending, on things like flowers ($400 a week) and household staff ($450,000 a year).

She went to the salon daily to have her hair perfectly molded and upgraded her wardrobe weekly with the latest haute couture.

The tricky part about this divorce is that much of the assets are on canvases and crafted with oil paints, so it’s hard to put a dollar amount on their actual wealth. Also, there is a question of how much she contributed to the wealth of their art business. And how much does a person, even a super rich person, need for basic maintenance.  All this is being hammered away in the courts right now.

Reading articles like this one in the New York Times, does not fill me with envy. The Mugrabi’s don’t seem to have the easy, happy lifestyle that Leach portrayed in the 1980s. I can’t imagine a worse hell than having to go to the hair salon every day to have my curly hair yanked straight. Managing a staff to keep multiple homes spotless and to mind entitled, neglected children sounds stressful. Surrounded by beautiful paintings that are simply assets, rather than objects of wonder, is shallow. And there’s apparently a danger of finding your husband passed out on top of a naked woman, after a blow-out party in one of your mansions. I have no interest in that world.

We currently have a president who was the king of the Stacy Leach world in the 1980s. Nobody wants a part of his gold covered world. His model wife looks unhappy and mean. Instead, people are rallying around a skinny girl representing a district in the Bronx, who knows how to use a pressure cooker and shops at TJ Maxx.

There’s two kinds of populism. There’s the kind that elected the rich guy, and there’s the kind that elected the poor girl. It will be interesting to see which one wins out.

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8 thoughts on “Lifestyles of the Rich and Divorced

  1. And there’s apparently a danger of finding your husband passed out on top of a naked woman, after a blow-out party in one of your mansions. I have no interest in that world.

    Let’s not be too hasty to depreciate the lives of others.

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  2. “There’s two kinds of populism. There’s the kind that elected the rich guy, and there’s the kind that elected the poor girl. It will be interesting to see which one wins out.”

    OK, I’m about to use some non-SAT words.

    Populism is dumb and evil and it makes people do dumb, evil things.

    To boil down populism, it amounts to “Those bad people over there are doing bad things to you–if it weren’t for them, your life would be idyllic! No matter what stupid, selfish, short-sighted decisions you make! Nothing is ever your fault!”

    At some point, left and right populism converge–see for example Tucker Carlson or Donald Trump’s economics. It really is like the end of Animal Farm, “The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”

    https://www.dailywire.com/news/35324/why-rise-bipartisan-populism-supremely-dangerous-ben-shapiro

    Ben Shapiro said 4 months ago (in response to yet another Tucker Carlson rant):

    “What is populism? It’s more a strategy than a philosophy — claiming to stand with “the people” is a time-honored political tool, often utilized by demagogues of every side. But there are certain factors the new populist upswells of Left and Right share: in-group loyalty; skepticism about free markets; and deep distrust of institutions.”

    “Populism works because its appeal is universal: it allows us to blame out-groups, freedom, and government for everything. Someone or something else is always to blame. Never mind that the philosophy of populism is inherently contradictory — if you don’t trust the free markets and you also don’t trust the institutions that regulate the free markets, what exactly is the solution? The pitch is excellent: it’s not your fault. It’s somebody else’s.”

    “But that pitch is extraordinarily dangerous for two reasons. First, it leads people to abandon personal responsibility in search of institutional change — in many cases, institutional change directed at institutions that largely work. Second, it leads to reactionary politics on both sides, and increasing radicalism on both sides.”

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  3. I recommend the movie, The Price of Everything. It is an interesting look at the Big Art Business of today.

    As to populism, the world is a complicated place. The gilets jaunes in France are not going away. https://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2019/01/the-yellow-vests-are-at-the-vanguard-of-a-politically-incorrect-uprising/

    The government will be heartened to learn it still has some friends but it will tremble at the thought of what may happen a week on Sunday if truck drivers and brickies wearing yellow vests confront engineers and tecchies wearing red scarves.

    However, the state is starting to move toward the use of deadly force: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6586991/French-riot-police-using-semi-automatic-weapons-against-Yellow-Vest-protestors.html

    This afternoon the British parliament is voting on May’s Brexit deal (live at the BBC.)

    What’s the opposite of populism? Elitism?

    Or is the world not binary at all…

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  4. I agree that populism (not sure if that’s a technical term) can result in radicalization, diffuse assignment of blame, and demands for action unlikely to improve the situation. But, I take issue with this criticism: “First, it leads people to abandon personal responsibility in search of institutional change — in many cases, institutional change directed at institutions that largely work.” There are problems that cannot be solved with individual responsibility and insistence that personal responsibility be the only (or even the major) response imposes blame without solutions, as well. Example: slavery, voting rights in the post-reconstruction south, segregated streetcar lines (and, an example of the failure of personal responsibility in the form of the nashville streetcar boycott).

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    1. But none of those things was undone by populism. You would have to muster moral outrage about the gold standard or the Bank of the United States to vindicate populism as a means to constructive political or social change.

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    2. y81 said,

      “But none of those things was undone by populism. You would have to muster moral outrage about the gold standard or the Bank of the United States to vindicate populism as a means to constructive political or social change.”

      Yeah. Populism has a pretty poor record in terms of choosing causes.

      (Sorry, haven’t read all comments.)

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  5. I was speaking with my college-aged son. He observed that he’s noticed a huge increase in—hmm, ok, in our conversation we called it the “fetishizing of personal responsibility”– in young conservatives. This is probably a reaction to the whole “snowflake movement” at universities. Although looking at Ben Shapiro’s Wikipedia entry, his writing may have an influence as well.

    There is nothing Christian in turning the other cheek to suffering.

    Anyone who grows up in a family headed by married, college-educated parents has an enormous advantage on the rest of the world–and should have the grace to admit that.

    As to institutions, I do not agree that they “largely work.” I think they might seem to largely work if you don’t look too closely. The financial meltdown in 2008 demonstrated that many of the institutions that were supposed to be minding the store were not. The Navy apparently has its own problems:https://www.navytimes.com/news/your-navy/2019/01/14/worse-than-you-thought-inside-the-secret-fitzgerald-probe-the-navy-doesnt-want-you-to-read/?fbclid=IwAR2GiVnrQjPANmxJS3RefIoF8y4LvaUmcfuyj3Jo3Yz4ji8iGar347c_0K0

    I could make this list much longer.

    Institutions aren’t carved out of granite. They aren’t handed down from on high. The human beings running them must adapt them to changing times. Institutional change should be constant. It only looks as if they haven’t changed to people outside the institutions. That process does not work if the people in charge can’t admit that there might be problems. If anyone who dares to say that the emperor has not clothes is a demagogue, necessary change is made more difficult.

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