The title comes from a chance meeting I had a few years ago at a yacht show in Florida. I was walking along the docks, marveling at hundreds of giant boats parked in the marina. I had seen plenty of yachts before, but never so many at once. I got to talking with a yacht owner from Texas, and as he looked out over the boats he said: “You look at all these boats and you’d think everyone was making loads of money. It’s like it’s a different country.”
The words stuck with me. The wealthy weren’t just getting wealthier — they were forming their own virtual country. They were wealthier than most nations, with the top 1% controlling $17 trillion in wealth. And they were increasingly building a self-contained world, with its own health-care system (concierge doctors), travel system (private jets, destination clubs) and language. (”Who’s your household manager?”) They had created their own breakaway republic — one I called Richistan.
As a former foreign correspondent, I decided to cover Richistan just as I would cover another country. I wouldn’t judge the rich as heroes or villains, any more than I would judge Indonesians when covering Indonesia. My job would simply be to tell the reader what their world is like and what’s happening there.
How much more blithe could the self-definition of his job be? I wonder how long Mr. Frank will be able to maintain his air of bemused amorality when members of his non-rich family and the non-rich community are no longer able to seek respite from their non-rich health-care system (inefficient and expensive to the point of dysfunction), non-rich travel system (bicycles, buses, walking) and non-rich language ("Oh boy! Peanut butter's on sale!").
It could hardly be clearer that the globalized world is in a civil war — a class war that crosses political boundaries — and that the America is lending its considerable power and financial leverage to just one side in this battle: the rich.
It's time we stopped bullshitting in our political discourse about abortion and gay marriage and focus on what's really driving the New USA: class. How many of the Americans who died in Iraq belong to the top 1% wealthy? None, of course.
The fish rots from the head — the AWOL champagne unit Texas Air Guardsman who escaped Vietnam is helping a new generation of half-wit trust fund babies to escape the current artificial quagmire of his own making, Iraq. Paid for with the withheld wages and the spilled blood of the lower classes, the non-Richistanis, the neo-peasants.