Thursday, October 23, 2008

Let Them Wear Valentino, Part Deux

Jeff Foxworthy has a venerable routine about why you can't give rednecks money. They'll invest the funds in commemorative ceramic plates of NASCAR drivers, he insists. They'll build a new room onto the trailer "so we don't have to sleep with Jim's daddy no more," he drawls. When he got his first big check, he ran right out and bought a pair of blue stingray cowboy boots (about $750 at Falconhead in Brentwood, CA -- the ultimate fantasy boot emporium) -- beautiful and unusual, in a delightfully tacky kind of redneck way.

That's the kind of stuff that happens when people are in cotton so tall it's over their head. (Been here, done this myself.) You lose perspective, quickly. And the next thing that happens looks something like this:

Photo of Piper Palin, courtesy Huffington Post

Now, I really do not want to believe that seven-year-old Piper is the proud owner of her own Louis Vuitton Montorguiel PM ($790 at More likely, some enterprising photog caught her helpfully looking after Mommy's handbag while Mommy was off serving mooseburgers or something.

But given what we're hearing about the Palin family -- stories like Bristol Palin's $1700 shearling maternity coat, for example -- it's easy enough to believe that they dropped $800 on a little treat for darling Piper.

This is what excess looks like. As commenter "brat" put it so well in the previous thread:
My god....The elite do NOT pay nearly enough in taxes. $15K for clothes? That's more than some Americans make in a year. Given the fiscal crisis, I'm looking forward to the days when folks with unearned income of 200K (or more) per year pay at least 50% in taxes.
Yep. Seven-year-olds carrying LV bags are God's way of telling us all that there's something seriously wrong with the tax code -- not to mention the Republican party. And even if it is Mom's bag, I think it's pretty unseemly for any American candidate to be seen brandishing a handbag from a company that's got long associations with French aristocracy; and very ostentatiously cost more than a person working the minimum wage grosses in two full weeks of work.

This is exactly the kind of thing that had noble heads bobbing on pikes during the Reign of Terror -- and precisely why old money has always been very careful not to flash its cash around this way.

What's coming clear now is that the American rich don't even pretend to care about how any of this looks any more. They think they're so entitled to their riches that they're even beyond the reach of history, let alone a mob of disgruntled peasants. They've got gates and Cayman bankers and private security and Blackwater, if need be, to handle that kind of thing. It's just not an issue any more.

Thing of it is: whenever people get to thinking that way, that's just about the time that history boomerangs back on them, hard -- usually in the form of a mob of disgruntled peasants. Photos like this are the sign of a reckoning at hand.