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  2. When the bottom half of the country owns basically none of the country’s wealth, they can’t self-insure themselves against these risks. Instead, they must lead a relatively perilous life in which one misstep or mistake could wreck them and their families.
     


  3. The reason why Wall Street continues to push the austerity line also has to do with a) class psychology and b) how elite conventional wisdom is shaped.

    Think about the days of feudalism. Back then, nobody bothered to justify their position in an egalitarian ethical framework. Instead, there was the “natural” superiority of the aristocracy, which allowed landlords to pillage the peasantry without even a scrap of justification. Concepts like meritocracy or equality were barely even considered; most people simply accepted their place in society.

     


  4. At the loftiest heights of the income pyramid, American meritocracy is broken, replaced by the shameful self-dealing of the superrich.

    All of us recognize the way the breakdown in meritocracy is playing itself out closer to the middle class. In theory, capitalism provides equal opportunities to every individual, allowing him or her to use innate talent and ambition, combined with more than a dash of luck, to achieve economic success. Also in theory, economic failure is supposed to be justly earned, a product of a deficiency of talent, ambition, and luck.

    The reality, of course, is very different — and becoming more so with every passing year. We start out our lives profoundly unequal. Some Americans grow up impoverished, attending chaotic, academically worthless schools, and exposed to an enormous range of social and cultural obstacles to achievement both at home and in the local environment. Others, by contrast, receive a world-class education at school, continual emotional and scholastic support at home, access to tutors, test-prep, and even pharmaceuticals to compensate for a range of cognitive and behavioral deficits.

     


  5. First of all, the “rich” are not a homogeneous minority group. Rich people come from all kinds of ethnic and gender backgrounds, sexual orientations, age groups, and political beliefs. And they are not in any way unrepresented in power. Rich people by definition have access to wealth, and thus political influence. This by definition makes them a political and economic powerhouse. Over half of the people in Congress are millionaires, compared to less than 10 percent of Americans generally.
     

  6. Obscure status symbol: No logo


    If your purse or sunglasses have the designer’s logo on them — even an expensive one — you’re clearly not part of the in-crowd. A new study published in The Journal of Consumer Research suggests that the more expensive the product, the more anonymous it is. People who can afford a $19,000 purse apparently don’t need a signature to recognize valuable accessories.

    7 obscure status symbols

     

  7. Good news!  U.S. households are wealthier than ever!

    Bad news: Not everyone is sharing in the wealth.

     

  8. MIKHAIL PROKHOROV, BROOKLYN NETS

    Owner since: 2010

    The numbers: The Nets are worth an estimated $530 million, but operated at a considerable loss of $16 million last year (moving from New Jersey to New York will do that).

    The Most Interesting Owner in the World: A shortlist of Prokhorov’s quirks and accomplishments:

    -In 2012, he ran for president of Russia against Vladimir Putin. He garnered less than 10 percent of the vote.

    -He stands 6’8”, making him the tallest owner in the NBA.

    -One of his favorite hobbies is performing jet ski tricks (check YouTube, there’s proof).

    -He heads the Russian Biathlon Union.

    How he got rich: Nickel mines. Prokhorov bought up “reduced price” shares of the Norilsk Nickel company during Russia’s privatization spree after the fall of the Soviet Union. In 2007, when he left the company, his shares were estimated to be worth $7.5 billion. Combined with his other mining ventures, the oligarch is worth about $13 billion.

    How the owners of all 30 NBA teams got rich

     

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  10. "For the first time in recent history, the average Canadian is richer than the average American." 

    Canadian households held a net worth of $363,202 in 2011, according to recently released data, while U.S. households had $319,970. Canada’s unemployment rate also ticked down to 7.2 percent, versus the stagnant 8.2 percent in the U.S. How did Canada come to beat the U.S. in wealth?

     

  11. The typical American woman spends about $100 per month on cosmetics. Now, Japanese beauty biz player Cle de Peau Beaute is graciously allowing her to spend a whole lot more.

    The company’s proposed new moisturizer, La Creme, will cost upwards of $13,000 for a 50-gram jar (less than 2 ounces). That’s five times more expensive than gold. The company is only producing three jars of the elite goo, which will come in handmade crystal-and-platinum containers and be hawked by actress Amanda Seyfried. 

    More items for those who have everything…

     

  12. BANKRUPT USA
    A numerical look at the average family’s financial struggles:

    $126,400 
    Net worth of the median American family in 2007

    $77,300 
    Net worth of the median family in 2010

    40 
    Percentage drop in wealth over that three-year period

    15.2 
    Median percentage of debt that was education-related in 2007

    19.2 
    Median percentage of education-related debt in 2010

    7 
    Percentage of Americans late on their debt payments in 2007

    11 
    Percentage late on payments in 2010

    The dwindling wealth of the American family: By the numbers

    (Source: theweek.com)

     

  13. Who needs a spa vacation when your own abode comes equipped with a sauna, hot tub, and outdoor cabana?

    These six homes put many health retreats to shame