Is it really fair that I have a special number I call to get impossible-to-get reservations and concert tickets?
Or that I get to cut in line at the airport and Vegas clubs?
Or look at this email I got from my bookkeeper:
I am in the process of setting up an appt for you and XYZ at XXX BANK for Monday at 5pm. The bank does close at 5pm, but they will be happy to stay open for you to open this account. I will give them as much information as I can, so you won’t have to do too much when you get there.
I will give you more information as soon as I have it.
Apparently now banks stay open late for me.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot.
When I have kids one day, do I want them to get used to living a life of privilege? I joke around with my friends that I’m going to sit in the front of the plane and they can sit in the back (“Oh, you want to sit up here? LEARN HOW TO START A BLOG”). That’s right. Learn from daddy.
But seriously, how do you prevent your kids from being spoiled brats? And do we even want to live in a society where there’s so much stratification?
Think about it.
On one hand, this special treatment isn’t because I’m a better person. They’re just giving me elite service because I spend more with them. I do the same thing with my students! I recently brought a group of 20 elite students to New York and taught them advanced consulting strategies. I paid for their food, their drinks, even their night out. But they were more than worth it to me.
On the other hand, do we really want to go to amusements parks and watch people going in a special line they paid for…instead of standing with everyone else? Isn’t that part of life?
When I was a kid, I remember my parents stopping at a bank to get a money order. They came out laughing. I asked what happened, and they said, “The bank said we could get this money order free if we had $10,000 in our bank account.” Then they laughed. It was LAUGHABLE that they would ever have $10,000 in their account…ever.
And that idea made me HUNGRY as I grew up. I wanted to dominate in academics, business, and tons of other areas. The entire idea of my parents having 4 kids on one income made us make tough choices all the time. We hardly ever ate out. We nervously asked my dad for 2 quarters to play video games…but never more. “That’s too much,” we’d say to each other.
Yet if we ever had any educational expenses — trips, sports teams, SAT classes — somehow, my parents would find the money.
And now…everything is different. Not just for me individually, but even for society.
This isn’t as simple as complaining that things have gotten worse. Here’s a great article, “Roller Coasters for the Rich,” that illustrates the tension:
“…more people are living a fast pass Life. Getting a special queue with special service isn’t a rare treat, something to indulge in on your first vacation in three years. It’s a permanent condition. Jump the security queue at the airport because you’re a frequent flyer. Walk straight into your rental car because you’re a Hertz#1 Club Gold member. Don’t like the kids your children are hanging around with? Push them into an elite program, or buy a house in a more exclusive school district. Join a gated community so the wrong people can’t even walk near you.
The economic elite used to just buy more of the things we all enjoyed. Now they have access to a different set of experiences entirely. No, that’s not quite true — of course the rich used to be able to afford better vacations and nicer cars. But increasingly they’re enjoying an exclusive version of the things we all do — right there in front of us, where we can resent them for it.
The other problem with fast passes is that once you have tasted the delights of line-free roller-coaster riding, it’s hard to give them up. No one wants to throw their lot in with the entitled jerks of the world. But no one wants to spend hours in line, either.
I want to know what you think.
By the way, I’m looking for real debate, not bloviating nonsense. it’s too easy to accuse “rich jerks” of taking advantage of these perks. The truth is, if you could, you would, too!
If you could get these perks, would you use them?
What do you think of other people using them?
What kind of society do we want to live in?