One fact has become abundantly clear to me in recent weeks: I need to get rich, fast.
Somewhere around $1 billion should do the trick. But it’s not really about the money. No, it’s about what having that kind of money would do for my outlook on life. My attitude. My mental health.
Not being rich is depressing, you see. It makes you not want to get up in the morning and go to work, especially if that work involves a paycheck. Paychecks are for losers. If you’re earning a paycheck every two weeks, it means you don’t have millions stashed away in a sunny island shell company stealthily avoiding taxes. And, as everyone knows, not owning shell companies is a distinct disadvantage in 21st-century America.
My doctor has prescribed several medications specifically engineered to make me feel better about not being rich. True, the pills come in a variety of pleasing shapes and colors, but getting them is a hassle. First I have to sign up for health insurance every year, then go to the doctor, explain my symptoms (inability to pay my bills, buy a new phone, fix my car, or get HBO), convince him that I’m not lying, schlep over to CVS, get the pills, take them as prescribed, then supplement them with various legal and semi-legal substances, the most effective of which appears to be chocolate-chip cookie-dough ice cream.
The whole ritual is ridiculous. I’m quite certain my mood would instantly improve if, for instance, I could just sit on a mountain of cash and laugh all day at everyone who isn’t me.
Mornings would be more enjoyable, that’s for sure. I’d probably eat the same cereal and drink the same coffee, but my morning news scan would be so much more uplifting. I’d get to read about how hard my government is working for me, to make sure I get to keep more of my money. Instead of screaming at my laptop about “corporate welfare” and “carried interest” and gaping tax loopholes that haven’t been closed, I’d get a warm, snuggly feeling all over at the idea that next year I might be even richer. Thank goodness the government has the guts to ignore all that whining about the problems of the “middle class,” I’d think. Then I’d hug myself and congratulate me for not being a whiner or a victim.
It’s not hard to imagine how great being rich in the morning would be. If I were reading a column by Paul Krugman or Thomas Friedman (an old middle-class habit that might be hard to give up), my un-depressed mind would naturally serve me a pleasing thought: “I’m so glad I’m not part of this beleaguered ‘middle-class’ they keep going on about,” my brain would say. “Really, they should think about re-branding themselves. That word ‘middle’ does them no favors. It implies averageness and mediocrity. It suggests that they don’t have the guts, intelligence, or drive to inherit a fortune and take advantage of all the perks America’s tax code has to offer.”
Even if I got angry at the news, it wouldn’t be as bad if I were rich because my outrage would be tempered by the certain knowledge that I was right and they were absolutely, 100 percent wrong. “People in the middle class are morons,” I’d think. “I mean, why work for a shitty wage and get taxed at 30 percent when you can invest millions and have your capital gains taxed at 15 percent? That’s just stupid.”
Or I’d think, “Here’s this communist Krugman going on about “income inequality” and talking about how people like me should give away more of our money so that things can be more ‘equal.’ But why should I have to go down in order for them to come up? Here’s an idea: Why don’t all those middle-class losers out there get a clue, belly up to the trough, and learn a little about white-collar fraud?”
It would be fun, I think, to read the New York Times or the Washington Post and see it all as the irrelevant chatter of a bunch of underpaid, over-weight journalists. “Honestly, the way these people go on about the cost of healthcare and home ownership and college tuition. It’s ridiculous,” I’d think. “They act like they don't have a million dollars to their name.”
The day would get even better after breakfast, because then I could indulge all my eccentricities and become a much more “authentic” version of myself:
“Albert, could you have Masterson fashion another gold-plated croquet mallet for me? Yesterday’s got scuffed.”
“I feel like sushi for dinner. What do you say we go to Japan?”
“Fill the tub with champagne. Those little bubbles feel so nice on my skin.”
“Can a cat be cryogenically preserved? If so, we need to buy a company that does that sort of thing.”
“The air is not fresh enough here. Cut down all the trees. Maybe that’ll help.”
You get the idea. It would be fun to think stuff up, say it out loud, and have teams of people around who are paid to figure out if I really meant what I said, and if so, how to make it happen.
Anyway, the rich are right—not having a lot of money is no way to live. For one thing, there’s the negative social stigma attached to people who have to shop for their own groceries. All those grubby people fingering the fruit, squeezing the tomatoes. It’s disgusting. And who knows what sorts of communicable diseases are transmitted through shopping-cart handles. Then there’s the whole idea of standing in line (!) for the privilege of having some random checkout person smear their germs all over your stuff. You get the idea: It’s barbaric.
If being rich only meant one thing—never having to set foot in Target or Costco—that’d be enough to convince me that being mega-stinkin’ loaded is the way to go. But add in the tax breaks and extra vacation homes and all the rest, and it’s understandable why rich people don’t want to give away more money than they have to. They’re good people. They know their life is better. And because they are so good and smart and right, they of course want everyone else in the world to live like them. That can’t happen if their lifestyle is diminished in any way, so they do what they can to make sure the government doesn’t get any wrong ideas—ideas that might make people think positively about the hellish indignity of a middle-class existence.
I get it, and I couldn’t agree more. Which is why I need to get rich, fast. At the moment we’re running alarmingly low on toilet paper, the cat’s litter box is starting to smell, and we’re down to our last frozen pizza. All of which I could deal with if my health insurance company hadn’t stopped covering my meds. It’s scary. If I’m not rich by the time my meds run out, there’s no telling what I might do. I might even vote for a Democrat. Or a woman. Or run for office myself.
But I’d rather be so rich that I didn’t have to care about anyone else. Except unborn babies. I’d still care about those. The last thing I want to see is more babies born into the dungeon of doom that is middle-class America. Lots of rich babies, that’s what this country needs. Who knows, one of them could grow up to be president someday.