Photo by Anastase Maragos on Unsplash
I wanted to write and thank you for the brightening our days here in Newport Beach, California with your December issue of the Robb Report. With over a half-million dead, our economy in tatters, and social upheaval I never thought I would live to see in the good ol’ U.S.A., COVID-19 has forced my husband Alfred and I to take a look deep inside our souls to reassess what’s important in life.
As I opened your little magazine and skipped through the pages, I was again reminded what makes life worth living: private islands, obscenely expensive sports cars, watches that cost the price of a middle-class house and diamonds that could choke a racehorse.
While the haves are stampeding to hide the money they have from the have-nots, your magazine puts the rewards of capitalism out there front and center. Like it or not, conspicuous consumption is what makes America great.
When working-class people see people like us boarding private helicopters, Gulfstream G650 jets and downing 100-year-old Scotches, it helps them buy into the myth that with hard work, they too, can enjoy the fabulous lives depicted in your magazine.
You and I know that’s never going to happen because of the way the 1% have stacked the economic deck, but myths are what keep people hoping.
Conspicuous consumption has another benefit to society. As the late, great Ronald Reagan pointed out, money that the leisure class spends on pointless luxuries, trickles down to the lower classes in the form of tips and minimum wages, allowing them to buy dumbed-down versions of the luxuries we enjoy. Big-screen televisions, beer in cans and bread-making machines to keep them fat and happy and not thinking of revolution. A rising tide lifts all yachts, huh?
And let’s face it, God loves rich people. You only have to look at places like Millbrook, New York, Hillsborough, California and our own Newport Beach to see that he enforces a divine meritocracy. Those who work hard to take advantage of Republican tax breaks and offshore tax havens, inheritance loopholes and under-the-table Wall Street connections are lavishly rewarded by the divine. Someone once said that if you want to know how the Creator feels about money, look at the people he gives it to. I couldn’t agree more. He gives it to thin, tanned, and beautifully attired people like myself who live in exclusive, gated communities, spend their holidays on private Caribbean islands, and know the difference between a Padron 1926 Serie cigar and a Davidoff Robusto Intenso.
The Christmas giving guide was stunning. Although I had already bought a baby sealskin bathrobe and a traveling humidor made of endangered Gaboon Ebony for my husband, you gave me plenty of ideas for Christmas 2021. Polo lessons from Nacho Figueras at a private retreat in Uruguay? Myself immortalized in Carrara marble? Or a private yacht tour of Eastern Indonesia? I can’t decide!
I have to commend your journalistic tour-de-force exposé on the crisis in cashmere. Cashmere is simply too available. I mean, what’s the point of wearing it if practically everyone can do so? A waitress or teacher can walk into discount stores like Bloomingdale’s and pick up a cashmere sweater for $72! Cashmere was meant to be hard to produce, made in small quantities, EXPENSIVE and therefore EXCLUSIVE—like blood diamonds or illegally harvested human kidneys. The solution is simple. You only have to look back to the 1870s. Just create a cartel and choke off the supply. It worked for diamonds and it will work for cashmere.
As for your article bringing attention to the loss of support for the arts in favor of COVID-19 research, I found myself shaking my head. To see Internet upstarts like Bill Gates and Larry Ellison shifting millions in donations from our cultural institutions to COVID-19 relief (COVID, COVID, COVID … I’m sick of hearing about it), is distressing to say the least. The overblown health crisis is threatening our having cocktails at the Opera with Placido Domingo* or Vogue’s Gala at The Met. Where is the 1% supposed to show off with these venues on hold? The Olive Garden?
In closing, keep up the good work and consider doing an article on countries we can flee to now that Biden wants to tax the wealthy. Haven’t we suffered enough already?
Just a suggestion.
Milcent Karbunkel, Newport Beach California
*Another towering figure in the arts brought low by cancel culture. Shame.