It’s looking as if we might have to put up with Mitt Romney for awhile. We have found out what we expected—he is a rich man, not just in the top 1 percent, but in the top .006 percent. And Mitt says we envy him.
Mitt, you don’t know from envy. There aren’t many who’d want to be in your shoes. We know how hard it is to be filthy rich. It’s time consuming and fraught with frustration.
Take houses, for example. If you own your home, you know how much work it takes. The leak you can’t find no matter how many workmen investigate. The furnace that shuts down on the coldest day. The complicated system you must learn so you can mange your computers, telephones, televisions and surround sound.
With problems like these, it’s hard enough keeping one house going. But Mitt has three, and sometimes he’s had more, and they are big. No wonder he can’t keep track of the illegal aliens mowing his lawns.
One of his houses is at 311 Dunemore Drive in La Jolla, California. A few weeks ago my brother and sister and I drove by to take a look. The 1936 house, historic by California standards, was one of the last houses designed by Lilian Rice, one of the first prominent American women architects.
Mitt, like lots of rich people, wants to demolish the house and triple its size. La Jolla’s building department has determined that Rice’s design has been compromised through repeated remodelings by other rich people, so it can be torn down. But just wait until the wrecking ball swings over that Rice masterpiece. Imagine the picket lines and protests from California architectural historians. Those who are not filthy rich never have to worry about such annoyances as protests because we could never afford to destroy masterpieces.
Then there is the location of the historic house. Like many rich people’s houses, it’s right on the beach—directly in the path of a tsunami, should Hawaii blow. In the event something terrible like this would happen, one would hope that Mitt would forego help from the federal flood insurance program, since he doesn’t believe government solves anything.
Then there is the burden of all those checkbooks and investments. It would take Mitt many hours just to read the 203 pages of his 2010 tax return when he got it back from the accountants. And that’s just the tax return. He’s got a trustee and a host of other advisors. Keeping track of such people and all those investments in the Cayman Islands is a full-time job. And what if one of them is secretly stealing, which has happened to rich people many times? Theft would take a long time to uncover because the reports are so dense and the advisors so numerous.
There’s also the problem with money being meaningless—since you no longer feel satisfaction in having more, you seek power instead. It makes you say strange things, such as claiming that you are “severely conservative,” which sounds more like a fatal disease than a political stance. If you hadn’t been so rich you might have chosen a better phrase—“deeply conservative,” perhaps?
Mitt is generous to his church and other causes. It must take him a couple of weeks to figure out the groups he’s going to support. Those of us who are not filthy rich don’t have to worry about invitations to have lunch with unfamiliar executives of do-good groups when you’d rather be home with a good book.
Since there is so much to do keeping up your houses and managing your money, you can’t do it all yourself. So you have to hire people. Managing people is many times worse than managing money.
So Mitt has to fire people. He told us he liked to do it, and Massachusetts citizens remember when he did. In 2005, in one historic firing event, he booted out the commissioner of the funds-starved DCR, scapegoating her when snowy sidewalks not yet shoveled contributed to a traffic accident, as if every sidewalk wasn’t full of snow at that time. (Maybe the illegal aliens shoveled his, so he didn’t realize the condition of the rest of the region.)
And his wealth encourages a certain recklessness revealed during his time as governor—he liked to target people for destruction. Say what you will about Matt Amorello and Billy Bulger, we learned less about them when Mitt went after them than we did about Mitt’s nasty streak. Those who are less wealthy have the benefit of having to keep most nasty tendencies in check.
Knowing that Mitt’s rich, do hundreds of his long-lost cousins pester him for money? After all, there are all those relatives in Mexico where his great-grandfather fled to continue his polygamy. What a pain to have to keep fobbing them off.
Having enough money to live on comfortably is a good thing. It makes for happier marriages, children who have better chances, and good communities.
But really really rich? No, thanks. We’re not envying you, Mitt.. We’re commiserating.