Neu Wannsee Conference: “Envy and Jealousy? Gag Me With a Silver Spoon”

Bill Moyers publishes a blog called Moyers & Co. Recently, in a section called “On Democracy,” I found this wonderful essay by Michael Winship about rich guys’ mysterious iteration — apparently, as I’ve pointed out, a memorized script meant to hypnotize us into a mute trance — of the notion that the rest of us not-rich guys are envious and jealous of them, and our envy and jealousy represent a dangerous attack upon them akin to a 21st century Kristallnacht.

Winship begins his essay with a reference to Manhattan Mini Storage, a company that advertises its facilities on witty billboards throughout the city (and, since some of them loom over the West Side Highway, could be dangerously funny: I myself have had visions of drivers collapsed over their wheels in helpless laughter and driving directly into the Hudson):

Here on our whimsical island off the coast of the Eastern Seaboard, we have a company called Manhattan Mini Storage that is as famous for the semi-snarky wit of its billboards and subway posters as it is for the spaces it rents to we New Yorkers who live in apartments so small the mice are stoop-shouldered.

The sacrifice we make for living here is that we have no room for all our stuff; this storage facility exists to bridge the gap by renting out the urban equivalent of an attic or cellar where we can stash our junk until our next move, new relationship or death.

Some of its advertising addresses this problem directly — “Your closet’s tinier than a runway model’s lunch,” one read a couple of years ago; “When he’s a keeper but his stuff isn’t,” was another favorite. Yet most of the notoriety the firm’s ads have achieved has little to do with their product and much to do with pride of place and politics.

“NYC: Tolerant of your beliefs, judgmental of your shoes,” is a New York state of mind that even those of us who favor sneakers and loafers over Louboutins can get behind. Others are more candidate-specific. “Rick Perry: The voice in your head is not God,” said what a lot of us were thinking and, “If Mitt had storage, he’d be able to find his tax returns,” actually does manage to deftly combine product placement with a point of view.

But their current ad really catches the eye:

“The French aristocracy never saw it coming either.”

Winship goes on to discuss the outrageous (and oddly similar) statements made by Tom Perkins and Ken Langone, two of the über-rich movers and shakers who have taken up the screech that an epidemic of envy and jealousy (of them)  is sweeping the country.

Winship says, “Nah.” One great of many great lines:”…victimhood becomes the whine du jour of the superrich — it goes well with everything.”

It’s a wise and amusing read.

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