In places such as Manhattan and Los Angeles, restaurants and bars outdo themselves in excess. New York’s Algonquin Hotel has a $10,000 ‘martini on a rock’ (it comes with a diamond at the bottom of the glass). City eateries sell burgers for more than $50. One offers a $1,000 omelette. In Los Angeles there is a craze for Bling mineral water – at $90 a bottle.The growth of such a large super-rich class, coupled with a deepening poverty in many communities, is starting to tear at the fabric of society.
Even some of the most wealthy – like Gates and Buffett – have spoken openly of the needs to address the massive ‘inequality gap’ that they have come to exemplify. In effect, some of the very richest Americans are calling for themselves to be taxed. In a speech last month Buffett – the third richest man in the world – pointed out that his tax rate was 17.7 per cent of his income while his secretary was taxed at 30 per cent. ‘Many of the new super-rich are looking long term at the world and they see a collapsing US education system and health-care system and the disappearance of the middle class and they realise: this is bad for everybody,’
The traditional ways such excesses end is by depression or an upset of the established social order.