As the Great Recession grinds on, many of our richest citizens might feel there’s nothing they can do to help the economy, other than eventually creating all those jobs while their taxes are low, which they’re totally going to get started on any day now. But there are some simple steps the 1 percent can take to make an impact right away, without involving a lot of messy soul searching or scary taxes.
As The New York Times recently reported, Walmart has had to start bundling toilet paper in smaller packages because many people can’t afford to buy those lavish multi-packs of eight. But at the same time, luxury goods are flying off retailers’ shelves, and companies like Chanel, Neiman-Marcus, Mercedes-Benz and Tiffany are posting record sales (although, to be fair, if you take Newt Gingrich’s shopping sprees out of the picture, Tiffany’s numbers would look weaker). And Google’s top three executives own eight private jets between them, according to the San Jose Mercury News. (In their defense, what else are you supposed to do when you want to take your jets on a plane ride?)
While Sen. Mitch McConnell has steadfastly refused to raise taxes on the richest Americans, he has graciously invited them to voluntarily pay more taxes via their tax returns. But when the laughter and knee-slapping died down in the boardrooms, many of our über-rich were drying their eyes and asking, “No, really, what can we do?” Well, if you’re in the 1 percent, here are some simple resolutions for the new year that can help stimulate the economy without putting a crimp in your luxury lifestyle:
Resolve to go for the $265 Ermenegildo Zegna necktie instead of the $275 Hermes necktie, and use the extra $10 to buy a needy family some toilet paper. Ask one of your personal assistants to stash some Hostess cupcakes in the console of your Porsche to give to the valet who parks your car so his children can eat. Resist the impulse to say, “Let them eat cake.”
Instead of buying the $1,600 Crème de la Mer moisturizer at Bergdorf Goodman, buy some Oil of Olay at Walgreens for $9. Nobody will be able to tell the difference, and you can use the savings to have your man Friday buy 1,591 children a taco.
When your personal shopper buys that $4,500 Gucci hobo bag for your mistress, add a few rolls of dimes to the bag so she has something to toss to homeless people. They don’t call them “hobo bags” for nothing!
Next time you throw a lavish party with prostitutes and cocaine, ask your guests to save their pee so it can be used to treat uninsured cancer patients. The opiate-laced urine can have some residual painkilling effects, and hooker pee is rich in penicillin.
When you stock up on guns and ammunition as a hedge against the coming social upheaval, consider donating your old weapons to your local law enforcement agency, many of which are facing budgetary cutbacks. Besides stimulating the economy, you never know when those guys will come in handy!
This year, why not skip the political bribes you would normally make to Republicans to keep your taxes low and instead use the money to buy everyone in America a 30-pack of Cottonelle? It all ends up in the same place anyway. Besides, the Republicans have already engraved millionaire welfare into their orthodoxy, and what are they going to do, start thinking independently? Pish!
And if you and two of your buddies own eight private jets, resolve to sell two of them. That will leave you with two jets each, and raise about $20 million, which would put new roofs and HVAC systems in about 10 dilapidated Kentucky schools, and leave enough cash to hire an artist to draw a Google Doodle of Ayn Rand playing mumblety-peg with Ronald Reagan.
Ultimately, if these resolutions don’t save Western civilization, there might be a future for you in Asia. Last week, Hong Kong “mass luxury” retailer Chow Tai Fook raised HK$15.8 billion in an IPO. “Mass luxury” is a hot expression among Asia’s elite because the 1 percent there equals a Fook of a lot of Chow Tai. And if you do end up there, be sure to bring along your Yves St. Laurent cashmere cardigan to wipe with, because toilet paper is a luxury item in China. Just like it is in America.