Tuesday, July 10, 2018


Move over, McDuck, there's a new rich SOB in town.
I'm rich, do you hear me? Rich, I tell you, rich! Rich as Oysters Rockefeller eaten by Bill Gates off solid gold plates and served by the members of Elite Singles! Rich as a ham and gruyere omelet slathered in heavy cream! Rich as Donald Trump claims to be!

Well, make that 50% rich. And make that "my wife and I", not just me. Otherwise, I'd be 40% rich. But still -- that's better than 0% rich, right? 

But no need to be envious, because you're probably anywhere from 50-90% rich yourself -- maybe even a hundred! And it has nothing to do with stocks, bonds, or off-shore savings accounts. All you've got to do is open your fridge or look at your nightstand to get an idea of how you rank on the rich scale.

At least, that's according to a study by the United States Bureau of Economic Research. They didn't use those old-fashioned methods to find out your economic standing -- you know, asking questions like, "Do you use 'summer' and 'winter' as verbs?", "What year is your favorite small lot riserva rosso?" or even, "How much scratch you got in the bank, bub?"

Nope. This being the era of "everybody wins a medal", we now have a fairly even playing field as to whom is able to chow down at New York's Per Se Restaurant (pre-fixe dinner: $340 each, including tip. And that's just the tasting menu).

Don't believe me? Here's the official "you are rich" chart:

There was a time that "cultural traits" meant something like accent, manners, or traditions. Now it means "stuff". My wife's stuff includes the iPhone and iPad. My stuff is the Android phone (almost 10% lower than the iPhone on the rich scale, something my wife will never let me forget). Our shared stuff are the AT&T mobile service, and the used Ziploc bags. And before you start throwing cheap jokes our way, they're talking about the reusable kind. 

We've got Kikkoman Teriyaki Sauce,
does that count?
What's frustrating is that we'd be even richer if we still had the Kikkoman soy sauce and Cascade Complete as we did for several years. Instead, we currently use low sodium Lee Kum Kee soy sauce (imported from China!), and Finish Super-Charged Max-in-1 Dishwashing Tablets. And not just any kind, but the jumbo package from Costco!

Also keeping us out of the Mar-A-Lago Country Club: our Epson printer/fax machine, and Sony HDTV. However, it's over eight years old, and the screen gives off the occasional  flicker, so we're in the market for a Samsung 4K, which puts us kind part way up the ladder. 

We were even richer in 1992, when the "cultural traits" included Grey Poupon Dijon Mustard, Scotch Tape, Thomas English Muffins, Kodak Film, Cut-Rite Waxed Paper, Philadelphia Cream Cheese, Hellman's Mayo, and the aforementioned Kikkoman Soy Sauce. It was so much easier to be rich during the Bush I administration!

If you think mustard couldn't possibly be a sign of status, well, you just haven't been paying attention -- or reading the study's footnotes on page 20:

Grey Poupon has often been referenced in hip-hop lyrics as a symbol of status. For example, FM Static has a song with a verse, “And if I had money, then I’d only wear Sean John / Eat my cereal with Grey Poupon.” An analysis by vox.com indicates that almost every year since 1992, at least one hip-hop song has been released referencing Grey Poupon. In 2011, 15 such songs were released.

I certainly have been wasting such a swanky product on hot dogs and hamburgers. 

You don't say.
While the Bureau's official 82 page study is so complex that my laptop couldn't copy and paste its Einsteinish work, some of it can be understood if you try hard enough. For instance, it could only take ivy-league researchers to realize -- and you can read it on page 33 -- that "In Living Color in 1992 was more popular with non-whites while The Big Bang Theory in 2016 was more popular with whites." 

Whoa! Next thing you know, they're gonna say that blacks didn't go for Seinfeld as much as whites did. Wait, they did, on page 32! What would we do without studies?

The nosey parkers behind this research also looked at what "cultural traits" unites people with similar political leanings. Over the last 25 years, liberals, for instance, drank Poland Springs water and Celestial Seasonings Tea, ate Ben & Jerry's ice cream, and bought wine. What they didn't do was eat Jif Peanut Butter, go to Applebee's, or buy a fishing rod. Who would have guessed?

The "what do liberals do?" study goes up only to 2009. I have a feeling that since Trump's election, "drinking heavily" and "screaming at the sky" would be at the top of the list. Oh, and putting Grey Poupon Mustard on their granola.


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