Lifestyles of the Rich and Idle

"I never told her about the Depression.  She would have worried."

'I never told her about the Depression. She would have worried.'

Amidst all the endlessly tedious media hoopla over Ted Kennedy’s death, I heard one good anecdote. During a period when Kennedy was being attacked by an opponent for never having worked a day in his life, he supposedly visited an ironworks factory where he was accosted by a labourer who asked him: “Is it true you’ve never worked a day in your life?” As Kennedy hemmed and hawed, the labourer said: “Believe me, you ain’t missed a thing.”

Which in turn reminds me of the anecdote about Queen Victoria, who supposedly said: “It must be fun to work, because it’s so much fun to watch other people work.”

Which reminds me yet further of an old New Yorker cartoon of an obviously wealthy woman lounging contentedly while, nearby, her husband (or perhaps lover) is telling a friend: “I never told her about the Depression. She would have worried.”

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5 Responses to Lifestyles of the Rich and Idle

  1. Brandon August 29, 2009 at 12:01 am #

    It’s amazing how Teddy was able to piss in everybody’s cup and convince them it was orange juice.
    Teddy was left as the de-facto patriarch when Bobby was killed in 1968. He presided over his family’s destruction. The trouble with Steve Smith and Sargent Shriver is they weren’t Kennedys. Their kids spent a lot of holidays looking to Teddy for leadership and example. Naturally many of them, including most of Bobby’s clan, Christopher Lawford, and Teddy’s own kids became drunks and crackheads.
    Bobby held the mantle of patriarch easier than Teddy. Bobby was a strict disciplinarian. Teddy was like John Belushi’s character from Animal House.
    This is from Michael Kennedy’s wiki page: “In 1997, the news broke that Michael Kennedy was having an affair with the family’s former babysitter. Allegedly, the affair had begun three years before when the babysitter was a fourteen-year-old teenager, and Kennedy was placed under investigation for statutory rape. However, the babysitter did not cooperate with prosecutors…” He was killed in 1997 when he slammed into a tree on skis without wearing a helmet.
    David Kennedy’s wiki page: “David checked into room 107 of the Brazilian Court hotel and spent the next few days partying. At the insistence of concerned family members, staff went to check on his welfare and found David dead on the floor of his suite from an overdose of cocaine, pethidine, and thioridazine on April 25, 1984.”
    RFK Jr’s page: “In 1983, he was arrested in a Rapid City South Dakota Airport for heroin possession. A search of his carry-on bag uncovered 183 milligrams of the drug. Upon entering a plea of guilty, Kennedy, then 29 years old, was sentenced to two years probation, periodic tests for drug use, treatment by joining Narcotics Anonymous, and 1,500 hours of community service …” He must have thought Mount Rushmore would look better if he was on white horse.
    Then there’s that fine upstanding citizen William Kennedy Smith (son of Steve Smith and Jean Kennedy). He’s devoted his life to disarming land mines or something. Unfortunately, he also has a slight problem with constantly being charged with rape. “Although three women were willing to testify that Smith had sexually assaulted them in incidents in the 1980s not reported to the police, their testimony was excluded…” that was at his first rape trial. There was another one a few years ago. But on the bright side he isn’t happy with land mines or whatever.
    And of course then there’s what Teddy Bear did to the state of Massachusetts and the country during his years in office. I don’t know how much of it I can blame on him though. I wish I could blame John Jr.’s death on him, but I suppose he had nothing to do with it.

  2. smally August 29, 2009 at 7:14 am #

    I just watched Chris Matthews claim on The Colbert Report that the Kennedy brothers “created the civil rights movement”!

  3. Anon73 August 29, 2009 at 3:35 pm #

    Speaking of the Depression, I was thinking about the arguments surrounding unemployment in a free market and how much unemployment that could exist. In a free society, if there were any residual unemployment then those people wouldn’t starve if they could just find some farmland and set up a community farm there. Putting aside worries about pollution (e.g. if the industrial places poisoned the environment so that everybody outside their industry starves), this doesn’t seem like a satisfactory answer though. Take the Spencer/Chomsky scenario where one private owner owns all the modern technological means of life, and everybody else must either obey him to get employment, starve, or live in a caveman-like state in the small pockets of land the private owner’s police force cannot patrol. The “marginal revenue product” of everybody but the king is zero, and so unemployment stays at 99.99% forever. 🙁

  4. John Higgins August 29, 2009 at 6:27 pm #

    Anon73 – suppose we live in a world where mice are higher-dimensional beings and we’re simply a computer program.

    There’s no way that that scenario could arise. It requires that:

    1) No one else has any resources (already beyond that point)
    2) One man could acquire EVERYTHING OUT THERE without running into opposition (how’s that going to work?)
    3) No one else has any idea how to produce technology (is the one guy a mouse overlord, or something?)
    4) No one would just kill his ass.

    • Anon73 August 29, 2009 at 8:45 pm #

      Well options 2) and 4) are what Chomsky would advocate – but then that seems to run up against private property.

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