Thursday, October 11, 2007

Giving Well is the Best Revenge?

When one-time luxury possessions turn to bling, what's a newly rich person to do? How do you show you're rich when merely affluent people are Lexused, Cartiered and Guccied to the hilt?

George Will ponders the problem in today's Washington Post.
[B]ecause the merely affluent are diminishing the ability of the very rich to derive pleasure from positional goods, philanthropy might become the final form of positional competition. Perhaps that is why so many colleges and universities . . . are currently conducting multi billion-dollar pledge campaigns. When rising consumption of luxuries produces declining enjoyment of vast wealth, giving it away might be the best revenge.
Question is, how many of new rich can really afford to be generous? "Americans' saving habits are better than they seem," Will notes, "because the very rich, consuming more than their current earnings, have a negative savings rate."

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