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Monday, January 28, 2013

Get off my planet

I subscribe to Vanity Fair. It is a guilty little pleasure of mine that I have been fostering since my teens. While the magazine does not, to the unaccustomed eye, seem to fit in with my usual reading list—The New Yorker, The Economist, Harpers and The Atlantic-- it is an anomaly in that it features fashion pages and Hollywood fluff alongside serious feature articles about politics, art, business and in depth reporting on contemporary issues.

That being said, two articles in the February issue of Vanity Fair have made me seriously consider the audience of the magazine and whether or not I want to be counted in that number. The first article was about Sadistic Chefs: Tyranny-it's what's for dinner. While the article went on about the appalling trend of diner's being held hostage to the whim of the maestro behind the stove what I found most abhorrent was the lengths people went to and the money people spent for the privilege of being so abused.

Author Kummer described $700 dollar meals and flights to Chicago taken for the express purpose of getting a table at a top tier restaurant in Chicago. Is this not conspicuous consumption run amok? The cost of this three hour dining experience would be enough to send a child to school, to feed a family, to pay my home heating oil bill for one winter. How do people spend money in such a frivolous manner and sleep at night?

In another article, same issue, The Kelly, a handbag that cost $8,000 was demonstrated to be worth it's astronomical price tag because the leather was hand dyed and the bag hand stitched with the craftsman’s signature sewn in the lining as proof of authenticity. I had to read the paragraph with the price twice and the comments from wealthy patrons visiting the shop only once to know that something was really wrong with the world. What has happened in our culture that a functional item like a bag to hold your money can cost more than what a majority of people in the world earn in their entire lives?

When we talk about global warming, gun violence, is the people who insist on $8,000 hand bags and $700 dollar meals + airfare that I blame for the inequalities that have lead to a multitude of social and environmental ills. My compact fluorescent light bulbs don't amount to much in the face of such flagrant misuse of planetary resources.

And who, you may ask is the real object of this rant; surely not the jet set, Kelly bag swinging readers of Vanity Fair. I wrote this post for you, dear friends, for the people I can reach, because I want to ask you to consider this: look at the things you own. How much do they cost? Are they necessary to your life? Now look at how much money you have donated to worthy causes this year. If your luxury spending outweighs the amount you spend trying to make the world a better place--Please get off my planet.

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