Lundberg Ferdinand - The rich and the super-rich

Author : Lundberg Ferdinand
Title : The rich and the super-rich A Study in the Power of Money Today
Year : 1968

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One THE ELECT AND THE DAMNED. Most Americans - citizens of the wealthiest, most powerful and most ideal-swathed country in the world - by a very wide margin own nothing more than their household goods, a few glittering gadgets such as automobiles and television sets (usually purchased on the installment plan, many at second hand) and the clothes on their backs. A horde if not a majority of Americans live in shacks, cabins, hovels, shanties, handme- down Victorian eyesores, rickety tenements and flaky apartment buildings - as the newspapers from time to time chortle that new Russian apartment-house construction is falling apart. (Conditions abroad, in the standard American view, are everywhere far worse than anywhere in the United States. The French, for example, could learn much about cooking from the Automat and Howard Johnson.) At the same time, a relative handful of Americans are extravagantly endowed, like princes in the Arabian Nights tales. Their agents deafen a baffled world with a neverceasing chant about the occult merits of private-property ownership (good for everything that ails man and thoroughly familiar to the rest of the world, not invented in the United States), and the vaulting puissance of the American owners. It would be difficult in the 1960's for a large majority of Americans to show fewer significant possessions if the country had long labored under a grasping dictatorship. How has this process been contrived of stripping threadbare most of the populace, which once at least owned small patches of virgin land? To this fascinating if off-color question we shall give some attention later. Statements such as the foregoing on the rare occasions when they are ventured (although strictly true and by no means new)1 are bound to be challenged by the alert propaganda watchdogs of the established order. These proprgandists, when hard pressed, offer an incantation about a mythical high American standard of living which on inspection turns out to be no more than a standard of gross consumption. The statements must, therefore - particularly in this age of burgeoning one-sided affluence - be monumentally and precisely documented and redocumented. Not that this will deter the watchdogs, who have limitless resources of casuistry and dialectic to fall back upon as well as an endless supply of white paper from denuded forests. ...

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